Sunday, 30 March 2014

Late Lemons

Another week of placement, another batch cooked meal! This week is Moroccan Lemon Chicken with Olives. I was looking at the recipe last night, and saw that the chicken needed marinating overnight! Quick trip downstairs to do that then. The marinade was cinnamon, honey, ginger, lemon, garlic and oil.

Today I just baked it in the oven, and while that was happening I made some cous cous and mixed it with feta cheese. The recipe didn't say to have it with this, I just thought cous cous would go well, and I had some feta cheese leftover from a salad I made last week. I'm glad I thought of it, it went really nicely.

Not pretty... pretty yum though ;-)

Next time, I think I would cut up the olives, as they weren't very evenly distributed, and I had to kind of count them out into each tub to make sure I got a fairly even amount every day. I also have to confess, I forgot to put the lemons in when I put the chicken in the oven! Hence the title of the post. So the lemon taste perhaps wasn't as strong as it could have been, but that is my fault entirely, not the recipe's!

I have to apologise for the short post but I have quite a lot of work to do- the life of a student! I will be with you again next week, with another batch of meals.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Tasty Tofu

Hi! The first week of placement went really well. I was pleased to be able to cook something fresh for tea tonight though. Sticking with the Asian theme (you may remember that I started that last week...), I made a Japanese Tofu Stir Fry. I know some people complain that tofu is tasteless. They have clearly never had this. I put the tofu to marinate in at lunchtime to give it as long as possible. The marinade was ginger, garlic, miso paste, soy, a teensy dash of sesame oil and lemon juice. I tasted some of it straight away, and from that moment I was looking forward to tea. When I was nearly ready to eat, I cooked the rice (the recipe said Jasmine but I used brown!). When the rice was very nearly done, I cooked the stir fry which took all of three minutes. Cook the tofu, add the greens- I used pak choi to keep it Asian- and beansprouts, cook for another mintue and done. The seeds for this were optional, but I love seeds and I was buying some anyway, so I topped it with two teaspoons of seeds.

A seedy close up: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and linseeds.
I'm glad I halved the recipe, it was so filling! Originally I was going to do the whole lot, as the recipe said it served 1-2, but then I got a surprise Chocolate Graze box from my mum in the post today. That was when I decided to halve it, so I would have room for a little treat afterwards!
This could actually be a really quick dish. If you marinate the tofu in the morning, or even the night before, then it would take minutes to cook- I'm sure it would be perfectly filling enough without the rice.
Another tick in the recipe book!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Final Freestyle Friday #23 (For a while!)

As of Monday, I am officially on placement again. It has been split this time so we have Easter off, so I have it for three weeks, then two weeks break (in which I am going home) and then the other five weeks. It does however still mean that I won't be able to do Freestyle Friday for a while as I'm pretty sure that the type of work I'll be doing means I'll be in Monday to Friday. And to be honest, the last thing I want to do after getting up at half past four in the morning AND then getting back late, is to have to mess about in the kitchen. I do love to experiment and cook recipes, but in that situation it just isn't always enjoyable.

I do however have two things for you today to make up for it! I wrote a few days ago about some Thai noodle dishes I had made (read about them here ) I would like to continue with the Asian theme, but as those type of dishes don't keep too well, I will have to save them for the weekends for a few months. Anyway. I mentioned that rice noodles would make a good Pot Noodle. And today I tested that. And they do. All I did was to put some in a mug along with a mushroom a slice of ham ripped into pieces and some curry powder, then poured on boiling water. And there we have it. I enjoyed it, and so I will definitely consider it as a lunch to take with me to placement.

What can I say? It didn't photograph well. Don't let the mishy-mashy look of it put you off trying it though!
On the menu for tea was pizza, but not a normal pizza. I made the base out of a mini naan! For half of it I mixed some curry powder and tomato pureé, then added fresh coriander when it was cooked. For the other half, I melted a teaspoon of coconut oil then mixed it with some coconut flour for a Peshwari naan inspired... thiing. I can't really say it was pizza like, but it was certainly good.

To make them, I first toasted the naan a little bit so I could cut it more easily. Then I spread the tomato pureé on one and the coconut oil/coconut flour on the other. They went in the oven for literally two minutes to crisp around the edge, and then I put the torn up coriander on the tomatoey base.

As a side note, look at the size of this Medjool date I had today! They are totally delicious, and one on it's own is quite filling. So glad I have more in the fridge!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Asian Adventures and Perfect Pancakes

I have always liked Asian food, but since my family and I watched The Hairy Biker's Asian Adventure, we have seriously gotten into it. While I was at home, I made dim sum and sushi; not the easiest sounding things, but much simpler than I thought. That isn't knocking the specialised sushi chefs of course, who have to train for years!

I made dim sum especially for my dad, as he is a big fan, but where I live it isn't very easy to get. I filled mine with char sui pork (also made by moi), and served it with a Gok Wan recipe- Egg Not So Fried Rice! It's basically a healthier version of egg fried rice, and it was really nice. The dim sum also turned out really well. They did stick together a little in the steamer, so I couldn't get a very pretty photo, but it certainly didn't detract from the taste.

As soon as my dad saw the episode where The Hairy Bikers made sushi, we went and got the ingredients straight away and I made it the next day. I was a bit nervous to make something with raw fish, but nobody was ill afterwards so my fears, luckily, proved to be unfounded. I made two types of sushi, maki (the filling and rice encased in a seaweed roll), and nigiri (a piece of raw fish fixed onto a ball of sushi rice with wasabi). The fish I used were salmon, tuna and sea bream, all of which worked well. I did take some photos on my ipad, but I have yet to figure out how to get them from ipad to blog... if I ever figure it out, then I will certainly post them!
This is the sliced fish, ready to assemble with the rice. I was rather impressed with how thinly I managed to do it!
When I came back to university, I continued with the theme. Last night and the night before, I had Pad Thai. After watching the programme, I really noticed the four traditional Thai flavours- sweet, salty, sour and hot. I like knowing about a food before I eat it, having a little bit of knowledge definitely makes me appreciate it more. It was a delicious jumble of rice noodles, beansprouts, garlic,, ginger, chilli and onion, and the sauce was made from fish sauce, brown sugar, tamarind paste and a little water. The noodles really absorbed the sauce, making it very flavoursome. I also made the topping of an omlette cut into strips.
Tonight and tomorrow I have Curried Singapore Noodles. I hate to lower the tone of something so nice, but if you are a Pot Noodle fan, then this is the one for you. All I did to cook the noodles was to pour boiling water over them and leave them to soak while I made the rest of the dish, which took no time at all. I made another omlette to top, then sauteéd some onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Then I mixed that together with the noodles, and some curry powder and beansprouts. I think this would make a very good school/work lunch, as you can put noodles, thinly sliced vegetables and curry powder in a little jar, then just pour over boiling water and soak for a minute or two. Quick, delicious, and healthy, what's not to like?! I have plans to do this with an empty plastic peanut butter jar- which wouldn't be too heavy to carry. If you're that bothered, you could always use the jar and throw it away once you're done!
The Curried Singapore Noodles. The Pad Thai looked very similar to be honest...
And finally, pancakes. Not Asian, but just as delicious. As a treat, the day before I came back to university, me, my mum and dad had Scotch pancakes for lunch. With ALL the toppings. I made them to the Nigella Lawson recipe, which my mum and I couldn't believe we had never tried. They were very very successful, so safe to say the first time we made them won't be the last!
I think they disappeared in about 10 minutes... And this was a double batch... sugar rush indeed.
I nearly forgot, a quick little extra. I have written about Nigella's Quick Calabrian Lasagne before, and I made it again for my last proper evening meal at home. I think it was sliiiightly better this time, as I spread the sauce all the way over the top layer of lasagne sheets so there were no hard bits aroung the edge. There were crispy bits, the yummy kind...

Monday, 3 March 2014

A Divine Day of Food

I have a thing where I have to be early for everything. Which goes a little way to explaining my breakfast this morning. While I have been having a craving for simple banana cinnamon porridge lately, I just had to try this. I call it Thanksgiving Baked Oatmeal. I mean, it's ages 'til Thanksgiving. I don't even celebrate Thanksgiving. But I felt the need to make it now, so I could perfect it in time. I'm sure there's some logic in there somewhere...

It had sweet potato instead of the usual banana you would find in some baked oat recipes... and I may or may not have purposely chosen a huuuuge sweet potato when I had one for tea last week with the express purpose of lopping a bit off the end to experiment with... Anyway. It also had some sultanas, mixed fruit, cranberries, cinnamon and nutmeg. I was going to add some mixed spice, but, well, I have none. I also topped it with a little more cinnamon. I have to say, it was quite successful, but I would like to try it again with some mixed spice, just to compare. Well, I do have plenty of time to fit it in...
On to lunch. I have been using lunch recipes from my books a bit more these past few weeks, as they usually just get skipped by. I'm glad I have, because all the ones I have made so far have been successful. This particular one is a Sam Stern recipe. It is a sushi inspired tuna wrap. The tuna is mixed with mayonnaise (I used quark) and horseradish, and mixed with chopped spring onions, and cucumber. Some fresh ginger is also grated in. There were supposed to be green leaves in it as well, but as you can see, I forgot today. There's always tomorrow! It was nice and refreshing after my sweaty gym session, but still filling and tided me over nicely until tea.

Not the best photo in the world, but I promise it tasted better than it looks. That mound of spiced chickpeas and onions hides a griddled mini naan bread, and at the front is some homemade raita and lemon wedges. Given my love of Indian food, this was spot on. And the best part? It only took about 10 minutes to make. Given my love of all things quick and speedy, this was definitely a plus point!


I finished off the day with this little beauty. I received a recipe book of healthy treats the Christmas before last, and this is only the second thing I have made out of it! The first was Chocolate Brownie Bites . I will definitely be using it more often, and I am even taking it home on Saturday so I can experiment there! This is a Fig and Almond Truffle. You can also see a few cranberries in the picture, and it also had cinnamon in, which of course wins major brownie (or should I say truffle) points. It also inspired me to think of a Christmas themed truffle... yes, I know Christmas is nine months away... safe to say I will start experimenting soon then!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

An Amazing Amalgam of... Stuff!

Hey everybody! I have been so busy with university work, but don't worry, I have still been cooking! I thought I'd give you a quick rundown of some of the things I've made in the past month.

This is a Nougat inspired mug cake I made for breakfast. I made it with coconut flour, which I just love at the moment. Half is raspberry flavour and half is vanilla. I also pushed a spoon of crunchy peanut butter into the middle. It honestly did remind of a bar of Barrett's nougat! In the future, I would try and distribute the peanut butter more evenly (or use peanuts) so there would be a more peanutty flavour throughout the whole thing.

This was my breakfast this morning. It is proper Bircher Muesli. And by proper, I mean that I made it with an apple, and not a carrot like I usually do! It had a bit of a tropical twist, as I added some leftover pineapple and coconut milk, and a bit of cinnamon, orange and lemon juice to the base. This is a really nice and refreshing breakfast, and while I do like my carrot version, I will try to have this one more often!
The pineaple and coconut milk are leftover from some Hummingbird Baked Oats I made for breakfast one day this week. I cannot find the photos though! It has banana, coconut and pineapple in, which of course are the traditional 'Hummingbird' flavours. The recipe also suggested topping with pecans, but as I didn't have any, I added a little more desiccated coconut. It was so sweet and felt really decadent, even though it was healthy! I will definitely be having it again, so you will get to see it at some point!

I had this for tea yesterday. It is quite simple, but really good. The mushrooms are pricked with a fork and topped with lemon juice, garlic and balsamic vinegar before being baked, and then sit on top of a piece of bread and some rocket. It is supposed to be a sandwich, but my bread had gone mouldy so I had to make do with what I had!

This is a stuffed pepper I made for Freestyle Friday. In it, there is brown rice, tahini and sultanas, plus a handful of crudités (cucmber, celery, green pepper, orange pepper, courgette and carrot) I had cut up that were starting to go a bit soft. The best part? Not all the filling would fit, so I had an extra bowl on the side!

Another breakfast (I have been experimenting a lot lately, all will become clear). I have shared the base of this porridge with you before- cooked the normal way on the hob, with two stiffly whipped egg whites folded in. To this, I added a scoop of vanilla protein powder, and topped it with some crunchy peanut butter and grated cacao. It was like eating a bowl of marshmallow, just heavenly! And I just realised, I actually had this for lunch and not breakfast. You could have it for either. Or both (I won't judge!) It's that good.

The last breakfast for now. When I saw strawberry extract in the supermarket I came up with this idea. I give you Neapolitan overnight oats. It was a little bit more faffy to divide the base up, but I think it was worth it! So the base parts were obviously vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, and I added a banana, some maca powder, a few crumbled cashews, a little block of frozen fromage frais and some melted Peanut Butter Company Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter. Not quite like the ice cream, but a good breakfast alternative... although who says you shouldn't have ice cream for breakfast? ;-)

And finally, my tea tonight. I had a cheaty leftover roast sandwich. It is a cheat because I didn't actually make the roast! I roasted the last handful of crudités plus some Brussels sprouts for vegetables, used two slices of chicken from the deli counter for meat, and spread some rye bread (which was delicious in it's own right!) with some horseradish for sauce. Topped with some homeamde beetroot chewy crisp thingies. That is literally what I have been calling them. I just sliced a ball of vacuum packed beetroot as thinly as I could with a knife and put them in the oven on low for 4 hours. I had the intention of making crisps, but as I couldn't slice them that thinly, they were more chewy. Even though it wasn't qutie what I planned, I am quite pleased with them. They weren't as sweet as you might think, more earthy with a hint of sweetness. I did get one or two crispy ones as well, so it was a win all round I think!