Thai Green Curry with Sweet potato and mixed veg

Mmmmm! easy peasy curry using shop bought paste BUT Warning: Many Thai Red & Green curry pastes have fish sauce in them, so this is not vegetarian.  I used Blue Dragon Premium Green Curry paste (small black jar). If you can’t find any from shopping around and are an avid fan, you might have to resort to making your own paste, but it can be hard (at least in most parts of the UK) to find the exotic ingredients.

Some of the veg I put in the curry!

Thai Green (or Red) can be made with pretty much whatever you fancy tossing into it.  I made the main feature Sweet Potato, and added chunks of courgette, mushroom, green beans, peas and tomatoes into the mix.  I served this with brown rice, because I’m trying to be saintly and majorly up my wholegrain consumption, but if you want it for a more special occasion, Thai Jasmine rice is particularly nice and fragrant.

Here’s a list of what I used and how I used it:

Ingredients (for 2):
1 tbsp oil
3 tsp thai green curry paste (depends on brand you are using – so check pack directions)
1 heaped teaspoon of ground coriander seeds (you may think this isn’t necessary, but I guarantee it makes a tastier, richer sauce)
400ml tin coconut milk
All your veg (see above for what I used).
Coriander to garnish

Method:
1. Heat oil in a pan (wok or deep frying pan)
2. Add curry paste and fry for a minute or so, being careful not to burn.
3. Add your coriander powder, stir and continue frying paste, stirring constantly.
4. Scoop out the fat that may have settled at the top of your can of coconut milk and add this to the paste, allowing to bubble with it for a minute before adding the rest of the tin.  (Don’t worry if it hasn’t separated, just pour a bit in to start then add the rest)
5. Add your veg – the slowest cooking first, and gradually add as the various veg require.  I added the sweet potato and left it for nearly 10 mins before adding anything else.  Make sure you cut it smallish, as it will take forever otherwise.
6. When all veg is cooked TASTE your sauce and make sure you are happy with its flavour.  At this point Thais would adjust the flavour of their curry by adding sugar and salt – palm sugar and fish sauce.  Of course fish sauce is out – buy soy is a good substitute, although it will darken your curry a little.  And normal sugar is fine – but if you have a brown sugar (not too dark), then that might be a little nicer.  The trick is to keep tasting. I added a small dash of soy sauce, and that was all that was needed.

Thai green curry

Sweet Potato Thai Green Curry served with brown rice

Lentil & couscous-but-much-better-than-just-that-salad

My plan is that this yummy salad lasts me for three lunches at work. I bought in loads of ingredients and made up a large bowl of the stuff at work. Really easy:

Lentil & couscous-but-much-better-than-just-that-salad

I bought the following and mixed them together in a bowl and garnished with crispy onions (bought in a tub):
Roasted tomato couscous (from the section where you get the hummus and other cold salady stuff
1 tin green lentils (drained)
some cucumber
tomatoes
1 avocado
spring onions
pickled beetroot

dressed with garlic infused extra virgin olive oil and juice of half a lemon. No seasoning necessary as couscous was quite salty.

Very tasty and the addition of the crispy onions at the end added that extra bit of texture and rich roasted oniony flavour that really took the biscuit. so to speak!

Tofu Miso Steaks with noodles

Tofu Steaks with noodles

Tofu Steaks with noodles

Thanks to my lovely hubby Rich for being the hand model in this pic!

Taken and adapted a little from the Wagamama cook book, I was nervous about cooking with tofu and have been for a while.  So it seems rather ambitious to be going for big hunks of the stuff for one of my first attempts!

I bought some brown rice miso and some sweet white miso at the supermarket as well as some tofu (by Cauldron), then found the recipe that resulted in this meal.  It was surprisingly tasty but also checked the ‘sanctimonious’ checkbox on the vegan chart! ha ha. It was so pure and healthy that I imagine I  shall be excreting nothing but natural mineral water and ash.

Here’s how I made it. (I measured nothing properly, by the way).

Open pack of (firm) tofu, drain, pat dry with kitchen towel and slice lenthways to make two ‘steaks’.  Make your paste to go on top:

about 1tsp red miso (brown rice or barley miso paste)
about 1 tbsp white miso
dash of sake (dessert spoon)
1 tsp sesame oil
generous pinch of togarashi seasoning
(original called for Schichimi, but can’t find the stuff anywhere – you could also use thai 7 spice – all this things seem to have chilli, orange or lemon peel, some poppy/seseame seeds and other stuff in varying degrees!  I got the togarashi from Waitrose)

mix together those ingredients then slaver on top of each miso steak.  Heat a griddle pan, oil it and then cook the steaks miso side up only for 6-8 minutes, making sure the bottom doesn’t burn.

Other ingredients required:
2 portions of noodles
greens (spinach or chard)
spring onions to garnish
coriander to garnish (I didn’t have any of this)
more miso to make broth
toasted sesame oil

In the meantime, cook some noodles: whatever takes your fancy – recipe called for rice noodles, but I used ramen.  I would have preferred to use a wholewheat noodle like soba, but they had run out 😦
When noodles cooked, drain and divide into bowls.

Steam or boil some greens.  When done and drained, place on top of noodles.

Prepare a miso broth (ie, just stir in some paste into some boiled water: don’t boil the broth as it kills the ‘friendly bacteria’ that is so good for you in the miso).  Then poor the broth to just cover the noodles and greens.

Place your cooked steak on top, garnish with spring onions (you could add chilli) and sprinkle over a little sesame oil.

Okra Curry, mushroom and peas served with cumin roasted carrots

So, with Indian meals I’m really getting into cooking more than one curry dish to keep my palate interested.  So far a great way to keep a meal fresh is to prepare a kachumber, but this time, I opted for something else, as I had none of the ingredients!

Okra Curry, Mushroom and Peas curry and roasted carrots with cumin

Okra Curry, Mushroom and Peas curry and roasted carrots with cumin

The recipes for this I found elsewhere on the internet, so instead of taking credit I will provide links to the relevant sites.  The first site I recommend is “Manjula’s kitchen” – brilliant for vegetarians that love Indian Food because that’s what it is all about, and to make it easy to follow Manjula has filmed herself cooking and talking through the recipes.  She’s not as charismatic as Ainsley Harriet, but that makes her much more watchable!
Mushrooms and peas was her idea: Manjula’s mushroom and peas
This recipe was has the tasty addition of Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – really worth getting into for that genuine Indian flavour (although it makes your clothes stink!).

The Okra (otherwise known as ‘bhindi’) Curry recipe is to be found here. This is the first time I cooked okra – a friend warned me not to be put off by any oozing the okra might do – it didn’t ooze but was very slightly slimy in the main dish, but I didn’t let that put me off.  It tastes very ‘green’ and fresh – I quite enjoyed it.  I added a yellow pepper instead of a green one to this recipe, which in retrospect, I think was a good thing to do, as it might have tasted all a bit too green for me.  The sweetness of the pepper tempered the greenness of the okra, if you get what I mean?

The carrots were so simple: just clean and slice in half lengthways some small carrots, place in an oven dish and poor over some oil, then sprinkle on some cumin seeds and roast for about half an hour or so at 200degrees.

Another yummy salad

I seem to have managed to avoid dairy and eggs for a good few days now, so my diet has been practically vegan (which would be an ideal for me, as I’m aware of the ethical issues of consuming eggs/milk products).  I think eggs will be the hardest thing to cut out, but I already drink only soy milk and use soy margarine: cheese is the next hurdle. But I’m not pressuring myself!

So apologies in advance for the poor photography – this is what happens when your husband is a professional wedding photographer and he takes both cameras out to work with him on a Saturday – I end up having to take a rubbish snap with my computer (hence it being out of focus!).

broccoli and garlic mushroom salad

Salad featuring broccoli and garlic mushrooms and avocado

So this salad was easy peasey: two things needed cooking – I boiled some broccoli until just cooked, then immersed them in cold water to stop the cooking and keep it that glorious green colour (not done justice by the photo!).  I also fried some sliced mushrooms along with a couple of small sliced garlic cloves.  These were added ontop of a pile of:

lettuce
chopped avocado
tomatoes

Then I drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, spattered some balsamic vinegar and garnished with some seeds for protein, goodness and added texture. yum.  Any questions?

Grilled veggies with Satay Sauce

Omigod.  I’ve only really just finished eating this (well, after an episode of 24) but this needs shouting about!  So easy and  tastes amazing.  Bit of a fat warning, as there is a fair amount of peanut butter involved, but it’s worth it for the taste!

Grilled mediterranean veg with Satay sauce

Grilled mediterranean veg with Satay sauce

I simply made a Satay sauce first and set to one side. Then put some brown rice on to cook whilst preparing and grilling the veg.  I also cooked a half corn on the cob (boiled).

The veg I used were as follows (for two):
Peppers (1 red and 1 yellow)
1 courgette cut into long wedges
1 large portabello mushroom
4 shallots
3 tomatoes

Once sliced and prepared, I brushed all the veg with oil and seasoned, then cooked under the grill, turning half way through.  I did this in two batches due to space, and kept the first batch warm  in a foil-lined dish below whilst cooking the second.

Satay Sauce Recipe:
Prep time: 4 mins, Cook time: 8-10 mins
I’ve inherited this recipe from a Dutch Aunty (Jopie).  The Dutch are quite into their Indonesian food due to their colonisation of that part of the world up until the Second World War.  This version of satay is much thicker and westernised that a typical satay sauce you might get at a restaurant, and in my opinion, much better!

Ingredients:
1 tbsp veg oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
About half a pot of smooth peanut butter (you could use cruncy if you want the texture)
Ketjap manis, to taste (I guess I used about 3-4tbsp) – this is a special sweet soy sauce and is available from the ‘world foods aisle’ at many supermarkets. (great in stir fries – see my Indonesian Noodle Salad for another way to use it)
Water – approximately 1-2 cups
Sambal Oelek – about 2 tsp or to taste(this is an indonesian condiment – just chillies really, so you can add fresh chillies at the beginning, or even some chilli powder when cooking the onions)

Method
This is a real taste-as-you-go-along recipe to make sure you get the satay sauce you want.
1. Fry the onion and garlic gently in a little oil until it softens
2. Spoon in the Peanut butter and some water (I keep adding the water and allowing the peanut butter to melt and absorb it as I go, until I have the right texture).* The peanut butter may ‘separate at first, but keep stirring and it will blend in beautifully with the water. *Keep the heat low, as this has a high fat content and will spit quite violently if you’re not careful.
3. When you have the right consistency (I like mine fairly thick), add your ketjap manis and sambal oelek, stir in and taste. Add more of each according to what you prefer.  You’ll probably need more ketjap manis than you think is safe!  It darkens the colour of the satay as well as adds flavour.
4. Serve spooned onto the veg and rice and enjoy!

Best way to cook broccoli!

Delicious, smokey, garlicky tasting broccoli. Bet you never knew it could taste so good!!

I have taken this recipe from my Otto Lenghi cookbook, and it is fast becoming a favourite! This recipe requires a small amount of effort (considering it’s broccoli), but it is definitely worth it for the smokey rich garlicky zingy taste!

Here’s roughly, how it goes… You’ll need

A generous head of broccoli
Some medium olive oil (quite a lot actually!)
fresh, sliced garlic – 2-3 large cloves
1 red or green chilli chopped or sliced small, acc. to preference (and I actually use less than one whole chilli, so again, do this to taste)
salt

Method:
1. Cut up your broccoli into fair sized florets, wash and then boil them gently for 3 mins, no more.
Remove these from the water and stop the cooking by placing the in cold, iced water (or, just change the water a few times). Then lay them out on a clean tea towel and pat them dry (with kitchen towel).
2. Place florets in a bowl and dowse in Olive oil and preheat a griddle pan until really hot (about 5 mins).
3. Put the florets onto the griddle pan and ‘chargrill’ – you want to see some dark brown patches in places but not all over.
4. In a separate non-stick pan, heat about 4tbsp olive oil and fry the chilli and garlic in there for a couple of minutes, being careful not to burn.
5. When all the broccoli is cooked, season it with salt, then pour the hot oil mixture over them and serve.