Monday, 26 April 2010

Chicken and Chips and Felafels

Squash and Ginger Soup

Felafels (on a Scooby Doo plate...... classy!)

Being a veggie is sometimes a lonely existence.  Bombarded with meaty delights from TV chefs such as Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall and Gordon Ramsay, us poor herbivores are left wondering what on earth we can slap on the barbie, and what to cook for tea tonight alongside meat-eaters' chicken and chips!

I have also been searching and searching and trying felafel (chickpea patty) recipes, without a satisfactory result.  So, tonight, as I had a bag of chickpeas in the fridge waiting for something.... I tried a patty-type mixture which turned into felafels!  The result was a little dry, and I have yet to adjust this, but the taste was just right for me; subtle and delicious!

Chicken and Chips   (serves 5)

1 chicken portion per person (I used breast pieces with skin on)
Olive oil
Floury potatoes, cut into 1cm chip lengths
Clove of garlic, crushed

Heat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas mk 5.  Brush the chicken portions with oil and crushed garlic.  Season well.
Coat the potato pieces in oil and spread out on a baking tray.  Put into the oven and set the timer for about 35mins.  Put the chicken in to cook for the required time (my pieces said 30 mins approx).

Meanwhile make the felafels:


300g chickpeas, soaked and boiled, or one can, drained and rinsed
1 onion, very finely diced 
Olive oil
1.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp chopped, fresh mint
1 egg
Splash of olive oil to mix

Fry the onion in 1 tbs of oil until softened.  Keep the frying pan on the heat.  Tip into a food processor and whizz with everything else until well mixed and still a little coarse.  Taste to make sure the seasoning is ok.
Now I was a bit cheffy!  Make quenelles of the mixture - take a dessertspoonful, and scoop it off the spoon with another spoon, until you have a sort of three sided, spoon-shaped patty.  Place into the oiled frying pan and cook until golden on all three sides (about 10 mins).  You may have to add some oil during the cooking.

Slice the chicken into pretty slices and serve with the chips and mayo and ketchup.  I added a handful of spinach and rocket to my plate with my felafels.  Yum!

What I have been cooking:

I read a recipe a few weeks ago for Squash soup with Ginger.  Could I find it again??  So, I had a go.  SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS!!  Here it is:

Squash Soup with Ginger

1 butternut squash, or some kind of pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
A knob of butter
500ml  or so of vegetable stock
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (peel it first!)

Fry the onion in the butter until softened.  Add the squash pieces, stir, then add the garlic and stock and simmer for 15 mins.  Add 1 tsp of the ginger and season well, then taste.  I found that 2 tsps gave the kick I wanted without overpowering the squash, but you can do what you like.


Monday, 19 April 2010

Salade Nicoise

 (You'll have to use your imagination to picture today's recipe due to technical difficulties!!)

So, my son, Barney, told me the other day to stop worrying about my weight, cos he thinks I am just fine as I am!  What a love!  Fact is, my jeans are just a little on the tight side just now, and here we are, with the 'Expose All at the Beach with All and Sundry looking on' season almost upon us!  Thanks Barns, and I am still going to cut down a little for a while to reduce the damage that a very Prolonged and Damp winter has done!!!

With that in mind, tonight I made Salade Nicoise.  I am sure that everyone who reads this will know exactly what one is, but here is my recipe!
Have fun!

Salade Nicoise   Serves 2

1 tin tuna, in olive oil (tastes sooooo much better than in brine)
2 eggs, hard-boiled
half a packet of thin, green beans, boiled for 4 minutes
half a pack of baby spinach leaves
a little gem lettuce, ripped
2 ripe tomatoes
a handful of olives

3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs wine vinegar
1 tsp grainy mustard
1 tsp clear honey
piece of garlic, crushed
salt, pepper

Layer everything in a pretty salad bowl.  Mix the dressing ingredients and shake well.  Drizzle over the salad then toss when you are at the table.  Serve with some garlic bread for the more hungry amongst us!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Noodles, noodles, noodles!

We visited our beach hut again today - bit of a northerly breeze, and not enough clothing, but a great day nonetheless.  What joy I feel when I am down by the sea: the expanse of it all, the wilderness, the wind and the sun - I love it!
So, arriving home ravenous, as always, I thought of a quick noodle stir-fry.  You will note, again, from the picture just what my kids ate!  I do my best!
Have fun and be happy!

Stir-fry with Noodles  
(serves 4)

1 packet of dried noodles (use four or five sheets)

2 carrots, chopped into matchsticks
4 spring onions, chopped
8 mushrooms, sliced thinly
handful of frozen prawns
1-2 tbs vegetable oil

1 clove garlic, crushed
1 knob fresh ginger, grated finely
2 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tbs sesame oil

Cook the noodles according to the packet.  Drain and set aside.
Heat a wok or frying pan.  Add the oil and the carrots and stir-fry for a few minutes, then add the onions and mushrooms.  Cook for a few minutes until some juice is released from the mushrooms.
While this is happening, grate the ginger and the garlic and mix with the soy and the sesame oil.  Whisk to mix thoroughly, then tip half into the noodles and mix carefully, and the other half into the stir-fry mixture.  Add the prawns to the stir-fry while you dish out the noodles, then, making sure the prawns are defrosted, tip the vegetables on top.  Yum!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

You will see from tonight's picture that I wasn't fibbing when I said my children won't eat half of the goodies I produce for them - the blighters!  But, undeterred, I battle on, with the shining, golden thought in the future of that wonderful day when everyone will eat everything and LIKE IT!  (sorry, I'm suddenly feeling a little unwell....)

So, tonight's delish dish was Spaghetti and Meatballs with Homemade Garlic Bread.  Usually, I make tuna polpettine which are tuna meatballs, but tonight I had bought some beef meatballs from Waitrose (I don't even have to touch the meat!) and I just had the tomato sauce - perfect for Vegetarians, Fussy Monsters and Foodies alike!

Spaghetti and Meatballs  (serves 5)

1 packet of spaghetti
1 onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
a splash of red wine
1 tin tomatoes
sprig of basil, torn roughly
1 packet of fresh meatballs
oil for cooking

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and add some salt.  Heat a frying pan for the meatballs and heat a saucepan for the sauce.
Put a tbs of oil in the saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 mins or so until golden.  Add the splash of red wine and cook to reduce the liquid for another 2 mins.  Tip in the tomatoes and basil, season, and leave to cook while you get on with the rest.

Add a tbs of oil to the frying pan and add the meatballs.  Cook them, turning, until they are browned all over (about 12 mins).
At the same time, tip the required amount of spaghetti into the water and cook for 8 minutes (never mind what it says on the packet!).

Whizz the sauce to a puree.  Drain the spaghetti, add a few knobs of butter or a splash of oil (to stop it sticking) and serve with a spoonful of sauce and meatballs on the top.

Homemade Garlic Bread

Now, I was a bit of a super-woman tonight!  At the same time this was going on, I put about 5 tbs of soft butter (Lurpak spreadable) into a dish, and added two crushed cloves of garlic and a tbs of dried parsley, then mixed them together.  I had half a french loaf in the bread bin, so I sliced it almost through into 2 cm slices, then spread both sides of the slices with the butter.  I baked it in a 200 degree/Gas mk 5 oven for about 10 minutes.