My Favourite Meals of the Week

pork pre cooking  pork + bulgur wheat

This is how I cooked some pork loin steaks I bought (you guess it! HALF PRICE at Tesco’s). It is a sort of ‘casserole-y’ type dish where I just bunged some garlic, shallots, early potatoes, tomatoes and carrots topped with the pork into the oven. After about 20-30 minutes (I kind of lost track of the time), there were some lovely aromatic juices at the bottom of the dish so I added some bulgur wheat to bulk it up a bit and absorb everything.

finished port + veg casserole

In hindsight I would have pre-cooked the potatoes maybe for 10-15 minutes first so that they were a little softer. But all in all, quite a yummy little dish and very easy to make as everything is in one dish. It is also an easy one to keep in the fridge for leftovers the next day!

chicken noodle soup + veg

This chicken noodle soup/broth was really to use up some defrosted chicken stock I had in my fridge and my oh my did I feel full afterwards. It felt like I had eaten two meals – I actually had to stop half way for a ‘break’. To be fair I did use a whole courgette and half a lettuce as well as some prawns though. Eyes bigger than my belly.

steak and misc

I put the leftover garlic butter (‘recipe’ here) that I had made earlier that week into the pan to give the steak some lovely flavouring and cooked it more towards the well done side this time. After resting, cut into slices. De-licious. I just served with some roasted plum tomatoes (10 minutes in the oven on a moderate heat), a fried egg and rice. A bit of a miscellaneous dinner but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Fried Rice with Peppers +

I know a did a previous blog post a while ago on egg fried rice with some broccoli and sweetcorn, but I really couldn’t resist doing another post with some colourful veg! This time I used peppers and also added a few other things to make it a wonderfully warming winter meal that you can make in no time at all.

First I prepared the colour array of peppers by slicing them into quite thin strips (similar to julienne prep) and then turning then and cutting again almost into small cubes. This way they hardly need any cooking and will still retain a crunch providing some contrast to the rice.

Rainbow peppers

Now onto the actual cooking. I added a few finely chopped shallots into a hot oiled pan just to give a bit more flavour. After a while, add in the cold rice to warm through and allow it to become a bit crisp. Make sure you break up any large chunks and turn it in the pan. I also added in some fresh root ginger (chopped as small as you can, and also slightly crushed) to the pan. Recently I have really been loving the smell and taste of ginger and find it really gives a warming sensation to the rice (I think it’s also good for colds as clears your sinuses etc.).

Then to the eggs. I like to make a ‘hole’ in the middle of the pan and crack the egg into here. Then gradually half scramble/mix the rice gradually so that it is distributed throughout.

Fried rice with a funny looking egg

When the rice is nearly ready, I added in the colourful peppers for a few minutes to warm up. Switch off the cooker and drizzle a little soy sauce at this point if you have any to spare – it gives a wonderful seasoning. And there you have it!

Egg fried rice with multi-coloured peppers

Warming plum and pear crumble

Now that it is almost December and suitably wintry, there are some nights when you just yearn for some hot delicious dessert fresh out of the oven to warm you up. Now I don’t have cake tins and baking trays but I did get very excited about a new purchase (sad I know) I made the other day. It is a cute little Pyrex dish with a microwavable lid that can store food in the fridge, freezer and be used in the microwave and oven. I was literally thinking as I bought it ‘this would be perfect for some crumble…’ So here it is.

Easy peasy pear and plum crumble (although obviously you can really use any fruit you like, and the recipe is by no means accurate, I don’t have the luxury of scales)

You will need:

-Unsalted butter (preferably)

-Flour

-Some fruit of your choice

-Oats/nuts (optional)

-Ice cream etc. (to serve)

-Sugar (this will probably be useful to add to your fruit if it is not very ripe or is a little sour) – you can also add this to your crumble topping but I was not willing to but a 500g bag of sugar I wasn’t going to use again…

 

These instructions are not specific and don’t really have any measurements, but crumble is pretty easy to make. Guestimate how much butter you need and then put in a little more flour that the butter. Add sugar/oats/nuts as you wish. I find the easiest method is just to mix it up with your finger tips and squish the butter into the flour so that you end up with something that resembles large breadcrumbs, ie. CRUMBLE.

   

Chop up your desired fruit into sizeable chunks (I don’t like fruit mush) – bear in mind that the fruit will shrink a lot in size to be sure to have enough to fill at least half of your dish. If your fruit is quite sour, I would advise cooking it a little in a pan on a low heat and adding some sugar, a little golden syrup etc. to sweeten it up a little before putting into your oven dish.

Now you are ready to assemble!

Cover the fruit with all the crumble and leave a thick enough layer (I would say a centimetre or two) of crumble on top of this.

Bake in a hot oven at about 180-200 degrees Celsius for half an hour or so. The fruit should be bubbling away and cooked with a lovely golden layer of crumble on top when ready.

I chose to serve with a generous helping of vanilla ice cream as I didn’t have any sugar in my crumble and I thought it needed a little sweetening up! Otherwise that’s it really.

>What are your favourite winter desserts to make?

One pot red cabbage meal

So this ‘recipe’ was one of the meals I mentioned in my previous post. The great thing about it is that you can prepare it all in one pan. It is quite similar to this post but I’ve just made it simpler and easier to wash up afterwards! (By the way the random Ryvita was just to use up some Philadelphia.) I tried cooking the ‘grains’ like the couscous and bulgur wheat after I saw a Nigel Slater ‘Dish of the Day’ episode where he just added a similar sort of ‘grain’ in with some soup. I thought it was quite clever to add it in to an existing pan that was already cooking away rather than just using boring old water as it gives it much better flavour!

-Red cabbage

-Carrots

-Bulgur wheat

-Wholewheat couscous (I used the giant type)

-Chicken stock

-Oil for the pan

-Salt and pepper for seasoning

So first I cut up the red cabbage into smallish chunks and peeled the layers apart slightly. I think the colours are so pretty and it gives a sort of marbled effect when raw.

Next I roughly chopped the carrots and boiled in the pan for about 10-15 minutes until a little soft on the outside but still retaining the crunch. They will be cooked further later so you don’t want them too soft at this point. Drain and leave to one side. Heat the same pan (it was a large relatively shallow one) up and drizzle in a few tablespoons of oil. Add in your chopped red cabbage and toss in the oil. Cover with a lid for a few minutes until it wilts just slightly. Now mix in the pre-cooked carrots too.

Take care not to burn the cabbage. After about 5-8 minutes, pour in your liquid chicken stock (any will do – I made mine here). Turn down the heat and let it simmer gently with the lid on for about 15 minutes so that the liquid doesn’t escape.

When your cabbage is almost cooked to how you like it and there is still a good amount of liquid left in the pan, stir in some bulgur wheat and couscous. At this point, season well with salt and pepper and any other flavourings or herbs you have.

Stir the grains in until they are thoroughly mixed in with the liquid and cover with a lid. Taste to check when  they are cooked and serve immediately.

Random eatings from my past week.

This post doesn’t quick make a ‘Dinners of the Week’ post since there are only four meals and I have been meaning to put it up for a while now. Anyway, my four ideas for filling and super quick dinners from the past few weeks are:

Salad and naan bread makes a minimal effort dinner after a long evening. (In this post  I explain my love for including sundried tomatoes in salad). This is a simple meal or snack and you can always add some meat or more carbohydrates to bulk it up a bit.

 

Fried rice with scrambled egg and prawns. I know I should have probably should have  included some greens here but again I was in a rush and laziness got the better of me… This was made also to use up my eggs that had been lying around for a little while. I will be doing an upcoming post on this in a little more detail but essentially I added shallots, egg, prawns, ginger and rice to make a warm bowl of comfort food.

 

Brown rice with sauteed courgettes and tomatoes was a little daring for me because I don’t normally like tomatoes cooked. But actually here the juiciness worked really well with the courgettes I found. (Cook the courgettes for about 8-10 minutes first before adding tomatoes). Brown rice is a healthy alternative to traditional white rice as it has been less ‘processed’ making it unmilled with only the outer husk layer having been removed. (It is very easy to cook in a rice cooker).

 

Red cabbage and carrots with quinoa and giant couscous + a random Ryvita cracker topped with Philadelphia is another example of my mish-mash jumbling of food together that needs eating. This was actually inspired by a Nigel Slater episode from his latest ‘Dish of the Day’ series (recipes can be found here) where he was focussing on ‘one pot cooking’ – my favourite kind in terms of washing up! I will be doing a post on this dish (hopefully soon as this was the same red cabbage from this post, I have just been very slow getting posts up!)

That’s it for now! Toodleloo.

Red cabbage is cheap

I’m not really a big fan of cabbage really. It’s a bit bland and boring for my taste (surprising since I can eat plenty of raw vegetables without much flavour). But after my summer working on a vegetable plot, I learnt to appreciate cabbage a bit more. It is easy to cook and stores quite well I find, not to mention very cheap (thanks for the reminder mother). So this is the meal I made with it (warning: it doesn’t look like the most appetising thing but is certainly yummy and will fill you up!).

You will need:

– GIANT wholewheat couscous (one of the surprise amazon parcels from my mother when I mentioned that I could’t even find wholewheat couscous or pitta bread in the supermarket here!) It looks incredibly like food you would feed a fish or pet I think but tastes alright and is very healthy. However you do need to cook this couscous in a pan of boiling water for about 10 minutes because the couscous is larger and needs to soften (not as easy as the smaller regular kind where you don’t really need to switch on the cooker).

Giant couscous AKA fish food

-Bulgur wheat (Tesco wholefoods range is very good for substitute carbohydrate foods such as different pulses, grains and rices)

-Red cabbage and any other vegetables you fancy, plus a shallot for seasoning.

-Chicken stock

I also threw in a fried egg and two small chipolata sausages (I know these aren’t very healthy so are in my ‘infrequent eating’ category).

Prepare the vegetables first by chopping up the shallot finely and the cabbage and other vegetables however you wish.

Meanwhile warm a large pan up and drizzle some oil in. Once hot, add the shallots and gently fry for a few minutes before adding in the cabbage and pepper.

At this point I also poured in some chicken stock made from a Knorr’s stock cube and some hot water – about 150ml to stop the vegetables from burning and to add some flavour. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer until the cabbage is ‘deflated’ (I don’t know how else to describe it; not crunchy, flat?)

Whilst you are cooking the vegetables, you can cook the grainy carbohydrates to accompany. I chose a mix of the wholewheat couscous and bulgur wheat to add some interest and different textures as the couscous alone can be quite ‘wheaty’. It worked quite well because they both take a similar time to absorb the water. I added water roughly in a 3:1 ratio to the amount of ‘grain’ I had. Here’s a photo just to show what it looks like dry.

I also shoved the chipolatas into the oven for about 20 minutes at about 180 degrees + until brown and slightly crisp. Here was my finished breakfast: It was nice and filling and healthy at the same time which makes you and your tummy feel good!

P.S. Don’t those chipolata sausages look like X chromosomes or is it just me?

Potato Chips!

So I did a post recently here on my ‘Dinners of the Week’ where I featured these homemade potato ‘chips’ (even though they’re really just baked potato slices). I thought I’d just share this idea because they are extremely easy to make as long as you have an oven! I don’t think I’ve been taking full advantage of unlimited oven use in my student flat so here’s a way to do just that. I think they are also healthier than buying chips/wedges from the shop because they don’t have any added salt etc and you can customise them with cheese or herbs as you please too.

Potato ‘Chips’ 

– Any potato will do, I used early new potatoes (Charlotte) but roasting potatoes would be fine too

– Oil, any kind (although olive oil if you have it)

– Seasoning of choice, salt, dried herbs, cheese?

If you are using new potatoes you don’t even have to peel them, simply rub off their skins under running water (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Roasting potatoes will need proper peeling. Slice lengthways into slices of width of half  a centimetre or so. Drizzle with a little oil (I used sunflower) and season with a pinch of salt. Add dried herbs if you wish. (I would save the cheese until the potatoes are nearly done so they are crisp underneath)

Bake in a preheated oven at 180-200 degrees on the top shelf for a good 30-40 minutes.

Do turn them over a few times and move them around so that they get an even colour distribution.

 

 

They are ready when crisp and golden. Serve immediately (with ketchup on the side if you’re me).