Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng)

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You may have noticed that I am quite in to rice at the moment.  It’s really versatile, pretty cheap and I find I can be quite adventurous with what I add to it, with a (normally!) happy response from everyone in the family.  This recipe is comforting and delicious, with the tasty texture of prawns, softness of the egg, the crunch of the veg and the subtle flavours of the sweetened soy sauce, ginger and coriander.  You could experiment with the veg content – broccoli, mangetout and baby sweetcorn would also work well.

I got the kids to guess the secret ingredient (ginger) – they didn’t, but were interested to know that ginger (normally associated with gingerbread men!) was in there.

Allow about 30 mins to make the dish (or less if you use microwave rice – just add it at the same point without pre-cooking it).  You can freeze any leftovers.  The recipe is a simplified version of one in Annabel Karmel’s The Fussy Eaters Recipe Book, which is full of great ideas.

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Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng) – serves 4

160g rice (I like brown rice)

Any oil

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 red pepper, chopped small

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp grated/finely chopped ginger

Handful frozen peas

150g cooked prawns

1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

Small handful coriander, roughly chopped

Cook the rice as per the instructions, then drain.  Meanwhile heat the oil and add the onion, pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for around 5 mins, until the veg is tender.  Add the cooked, drained rice, peas and prawns and stir fry for another few minutes, then add the beaten eggs, stirring constantly and scrapping the cooked egg off the bottom of the pan until it has scrambled (about 5 mins max).  Turn off the heat.

Mix the soy sauce and brown sugar together and stir through the rice.  Stir in the spring onions, then spoon in to bowls.  Serve with the coriander scattered on top!

 

Rice, tuna and veg bake (10 mins prep/30 mins baking)

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We’ve had a busy weekend and we are all tired! So this rice, tuna and veg bake is a low effort, yet healthy, recipe. Simply mix a packet of pre-cooked rice with canned tuna, canned sweetcorn, chopped pepper, two eggs, a stock cube and dried herbs. Top with grated cheese and bake for around 30 minutes. The bake is tasty and satisfying, with the egg making the bottom go a little crispy.

Most of the ingredients are long-life and can be kept in the cupboard for when you need them, and even the fresh ingredients last a fair while in the fridge.  We ate the bake with broccoli, but peas would also work well.

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Those packets of pre-cooked rice (as used here) are readily available and brilliant at time saving and I buy them regularly now. As well as microwaving or baking the rice, I sometimes fry it straight from the packet with some veg, prawns and a little soy sauce for a 10 minute dinner. Or use it in an extra quick kedgeree, which is a favourite in our house. Anyway, back to the original recipe!

Rice, tuna and veg bake (serves 4)

1/2 red pepper, chopped small
Small tin sweetcorn, drained
250g packet of pre-cooked rice (I used brown basmati rice but any is fine)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stock cube, crumbled
Sprinkle of herbs
Small handful grated cheddar (or other hard) cheese

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.

Put all of the ingredients apart from the cheese in a casserole dish and mix well. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy on top.

15 min rainbow stir-fry

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This colourful, crunchy and nutritious rainbow stir-fry is ready in 15 minutes.  In it are an array of different coloured vegetables (hence the ‘rainbow’!), shop-bought ready-cooked tofu (which could be supplemented with cooked chicken, prawns, halloumi cubes, chopped cooked meat/veggie sausages or nuts) and a sauce made of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and honey.  The dish is topped with sesame seeds for extra prettiness and texture.  Yum!

Don’t worry if you don’t have sesame oil as you can use any oil.  And feel free to experiment with other veg – mushrooms, broccoli, green beans and carrots would also work well.  Eat with noodles or rice.

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Rainbow stir-fry (serves 4)

1 small pepper, cut small

1 small red onion, chopped fine

100g beansprouts

100g chopped kale

Large handful sweetcorn (tinned is fine)

Pack Cauldron marinated tofu pieces (available in some supermarkets) OR cooked prawns OR cooked chicken OR chopped halloumi OR cooked meat/veggie sausages OR salted cashews/peanuts

For the sauce

tbsp soy sauce

tbsp honey

tbsp sesame oil (or other oil)

Small clove garlic, chopped/crushed

Noodles or rice

Sesame seeds

Pour any oil in to a pan then add the pepper and onion.  After a few minutes of heating, once softened, add the beansprouts, kale, sweetcorn and tofu (or whatever else you are using).  Heat, stirring regularly, for a few more minutes.  Meanwhile mix the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and garlic and pour it in to the pan.  Heat for another couple minutes, stirring regularly, then take off the heat.  Separately cook the noodles or rice as per the pack instructions then spoon in to bowls with the stir-fry mixture on top.  Sprinkle over some sesame seeds and serve!

 

Turkish halloumi bake (one-pot!)

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This Turkish halloumi bake recipe was recommend to me by fellow cooking fan Claire, and it is a great one to know about. It uses just one dish, is gluten-free, packed with goodness and lasts for 2 meals (based on four people). You chuck some chopped vegetables, oil and fennel seeds in to a dish and roast, then add uncooked lentils and stock, cook a little more, top with sliced halloumi cheese and finish off under the grill. I have never cooked lentils outside a saucepan so it is great to know you can use them in this way!  The whole dish is hearty, full of flavour and particularly lovely with the crispy, salty halloumi on top.

Allow 15 minutes effort and one hour of cooking and eat within two days.  The bake is plenty on it’s own or nice with bread.  Recipe is based on one from http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk.

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Turkish halloumi bake (serves 6-8 people)

2 peppers, any colour, deseeded and cut into large pieces
1 aubergine, sliced, cut into chunks

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 large courgette, thickly sliced
2 tsp fennel seeds
Oil
Salt and pepper
150g red split lentils

1 tbsp tomato puree
¾ litre hot vegetable stock
250g pack halloumi cheese, cut into enough slices to cover the dish
Handful of fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Set the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6. Put the prepared veg and fennel seeds in a large roasting tin or baking dish. Drizzle with oil, season well and then mix them together by hand.  Roast for 25-30 mins, stirring a few times, until cooked through. Sprinkle the lentils over, then pour in the hot stock mixed with the tomato puree.  Mix well.  Roast for another 20 mins, until the lentils are cooked through.
Set the grill to high. Lay the halloumi slices on top of the veg, then grill for a few mins, until golden. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Chickpea, spinach and potato curry

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I wanted to make a tasty veggie curry that is spicy and without an endless list of ingredients, and here it is!  You can eat the chickpea, spinach and potato curry scattered with coriander and with rice, naan bread or poppadoms (or all three!)  It is perfect with cucumber raita on the side (mix yoghurt with chopped cucumber, crushed garlic and a shake of pepper).

The curry contains garam masala, an Indian spice mix, which is a great spice to introduce to children as it is slightly sweet and not fiery.  My kids were not convinced about this dish, but they love kedgeree, which also uses garam masala and is one of our top family meals: https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/my-one-pot-kedgeree-ready-in-20-mins.

Also, if you drain a can of chickpeas and shake over a little oil and garam masala and then roast in the oven for 15 minutes on a fairly hot heat, out come crunchy roast chickpeas!   A great snack for on the go.  Yes, garam masala has to be one of my *exciting ingredients*.  Anyway, I’m rambling, so here is the recipe.  Allow about 30 minutes to make it.

Chickpea, spinach and potato curry (serves 4)

1 large potato, chopped small (don’t bother peeling it)

1 onion, chopped small

100g spinach, roughly chopped

Can chickpeas, drained

1 large clove garlic, crushed

Little finger of ginger, chopped very small

1/2 can coconut milk

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cumin seeds (or more if you fancy)

Optional – if you want it spicy – fresh chilli or chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

Small handful coriander, roughly chopped

Cook the potato in a pan in oil for about 12 mins until tender.  Add the onion and cook for another 5 mins.  Add the spinach and chickpeas, garlic, ginger, garam masala and cumin and cook for 1 minute.  Add coconut milk and seasoning and simmer for a final 5 mins.  Scatter with coriander (and chilli if you wish!) and eat alongside rice, naan bread or poppadoms.

Spanish potatoes

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This 20 minute dish is basically a Spanish stew of potatoes, pepper, onion, tomatoes, olives and paprika.  It is a satisfying meal, with the lovely smokey flavour of the paprika, and you can top it with feta, fresh herbs and chilli if you fancy (even if feta is a Greek cheese)!  The recipe is a simplified version of the one in the Mumsnet Top Bananas! cookbook, which is a brilliant family cookbook.  They recommend having it on it’s own or with grilled fish or chicken.

Spanish potatoes (serves 4)

400g any potatoes, chopped small

Any oil

1 red onion, sliced

1 pepper (any colour), chopped small

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 heaped tsp paprika

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 vegetable stock cube

75g pitted black or green olives

Optional – feta cheese for crumbling on top

Optional – fresh herbs for scattering on top e.g. parsley/coriander

Optional – fresh chilli or chilli flakes

Firstly, boil the potatoes in water until tender, for about 7-8 minutes.  Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and pepper.  After about 7-8 minutes add the (drained) potatoes.  Add the garlic and paprika and stir well for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and crumble in the stock cube, then add the olives.  Mix well, simmer for a few minutes then serve, with feta, fresh herbs and chilli on top if you like.  Also goes great with fish or chicken.

 

Oriental salad – crispy goodness in 20 mins

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This 20 minute Oriental-style salad is full of goodness and flavour.  It is crunchy and (sorry, but there is no other word for it!) zingy.  You can judge yourself how much of each ingredient to use and could try out many other veg such as mini sweetcorn, carrot, broccoli and pepper.  We ate the salad on it’s own but think it would also be nice topped with prawns, chicken, tofu or salmon.

The recipe is based on one from a new cookbook I have been asked to review, called ‘Make It Easy’, by Jane Lovett.  I have made several successful recipes from this book and will post more info soon!

Happy New Year!

Oriental salad (serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side)

Any combination of the following veg:

Pak Choi (available from supermarkets), chopped in to strips

Bean sprouts

Mangetout, thinly sliced

Mixed leaves, chopped fine

Spring onions, chopped fine lengthways

Red chilli, halved, seeded and chopped small

Big handful coriander, roughly chopped

Handful salted peanuts or cashews

Sesame seeds

For the dressing

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp soy sauce

Mix your chosen veg together in a large bowl together with the chilli, coriander and nuts.  Mix together the dressing and mix it with the salad just before serving.  Add prawns, chicken, tofu or salmon if you like.

Leftover parsnip rosti

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I love parsnips.  And I hate waste.  So, with 3 uneaten parsnips in the fridge and some online inspiration, I decided to make parsnip rostis.  I simply grated the (unpeeled) parsnips with some potato, added herbs and seasoning and fried the whole lot in butter to make a sort of parsnip pancake.  Instead of attempting to flip it over I finished the top off under the grill.

The rosti was easy to make and turned out to be rather special – it became sweet, crispy and caramelised when fried in the butter, with an almost nutmeggy taste.  We cut the rosti in half and topped each with a poached egg.  Seriously good!

The recipe would make a great Boxing Day brunch and if you wanted to be really organised you could make it in advance then freeze!

Parsnip rosti (serves 2)

3 medium parsnips, grated

2 medium potatoes, grated

Small handful chopped rosemary or dried herbs

Salt and pepper

Butter

Mix the grated parsnips and potatoes together and put in a dry, clean tea towel.  Squeeze the tea towel in to a ball to get rid of any excess water.  Put the mixture in to a bowl and add the herbs and some salt and pepper.  Mix.

Heat a little butter in a frying pan and add the mixture, pressing it down in to a tight roundish shape.  Fry for approx 5 mins then transfer the pan to the grill to fry the top for around another 5 mins, until golden and crispy on top (or you could try flipping the rosti and frying the other side if you have the right tool!)  Cut the rosti in half and use a spatula to carefully take each half out (don’t worry if it falls apart a bit – it will still be delish!)  Eat topped with a fried or poached egg and with mayo on the side.

If freezing, simply store the rosti in a freezer bag/s and cook  straight from frozen in the frying pan until warmed through and crispy.

 

Cheesy polenta bake (20 mins prep/40 mins baking)

cheesy polenta bake

This cheesy polenta bake recipe came about by using up leftovers.  I had nearly a whole block of ready-made polenta, which is Italian maize, that also happens to be gluten-free.  I also had an onion, some mushrooms and a little cheddar and halloumi cheese that needed eating.  So I made a tomato and veg sauce, topped it with sliced polenta, grated cheese and parsley and baked it.  It took about 20 mins to prepare and 40 mins to bake until it was bubbling nicely.  The polenta went crispy in the oven and the whole thing was really tasty!

cheesy polenta bake

I have never grated halloumi cheese and baked it before but it worked great.  Crumbled goats cheese or grated manchego cheese would also work well.  And you could use lots of alternative leftover veg in the tomato sauce.  In general if you have leftover herbs just chop them and freeze them in freezer bags and then you can use them instantly in cooking or salads, as I did here.  Saves on time and waste!  And polenta is cheap and can just be stored in the cupboard so it’s a great staple to have handy.

The kids weren’t feeling very adventurous so didn’t even try the bake, but me and my boyfriend loved it!

Cheesy polenta bake (serves 3-4 people)

1 onion, chopped

5 mushrooms, chopped

Tin chopped tomatoes (I use the value/basics ones)

1 clove garlic, crushed

Shake dried herbs

Optional – 1 tbsp tomato puree

1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled (I like OXO)

400g ready-made polenta, sliced in to 1/2cm slices

150g grated cheddar and/or grated halloumi (grated manchego cheese or crumbled goats cheese would also work)

Optional – small handful chopped fresh herbs e.g. parsley/basil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 7.

Fry the onion and mushrooms in some oil until tender (about 5 mins), then add the garlic, dried herbs, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree (if using) and crumble in the stock cube.  Simmer for 5 mins then pour in to a casserole dish.

Arrange the polenta slices on top of the tomato sauce , drizzle on some oil, the grated cheese and fresh herbs (if using).  Bake in the oven for at least 40 mins, until golden and a little crispy on top.  Eat!

Chinese-style cauliflower fried ‘rice’

Did you know that you can grate cauliflower and fry it, as a delicious rice substitute?  Cook it alongside some red onion, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and egg, sprinkle it with coriander and chilli and you have a gorgeous, filling, low calorie dinner.  This Chinese-style cauliflower fried ‘rice’ takes 20 minutes to make and is also great with added prawns or tofu!  You could  use spring onions instead of red onions.

cauliflower fried rice

Grating cauliflower is easy and only takes a couple of minutes.  I grate it whole, using what I can of the florets and leaving the stalky bit in the middle.

The recipe is based on one from http://www.domesticsluttery.com and recommended by my very helpful friend Noush!

Chinese-style cauliflower fried ‘rice’ – serves 2

Sesame oil

1/2 red onion or 4 spring onions, chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 head cauliflower, florets grated

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Good splash soy sauce

1 red chilli, finely chopped

Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Heat a good glug of sesame oil gently in a frying pan and add the onion and garlic.  After a few minutes and once the onion has softened add the grated cauliflower and stir regularly.  Add a little more sesame oil if need be.  After a couple of minutes make a well in the middle of the pan and add the beaten egg, stirring it in the middle of the pan and keeping the rest of the cauliflower mixture to the side.  Keep stirring the egg until is scrambles (don’t worry if some of the cauliflower mixture gets mixed up with it).

Mix everything together for a few more minutes, adding a good splash of soy sauce until it is salty enough.  Spoon in to bowls and scatter over the chilli and coriander.  Eat and feel satisfied!