Lunch

okonomiyaki
Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Vegetable

Okonomiyaki

My *”Oh-My-Goshi “pancakes today are based on the traditional Okonomiyaki Japanese cabbage based pancakes.  The name comes from Okonomi meaning “how you like it” or “what you like” and yaki meaning “grilled”.  Served most often with a variety of umami laden condiments,  most photos will show them presented with sweet Kewpi mayonnaise, brown Okonomiyaki sauce and bonito flakes. This is my version of these pancakes loaded up with lots of vegetables and then loaded again with tasty condiments. Sometimes I choose to add prawns to these for their delicious seafood crunch, complimenting the seafood flavours from the bonito flakes and seaweed, but they are equally delicious without.  Although its very hard not to love the Kewpi mayonnaise and brown sauce, it is fun to play around with other possibly healthier, probably heretic, options such as a cashew or avocado cream and kimchi.  For the rest, the toppings add to the fun and complexity – they can be as simple as a few ingredients sprinkled over top, or built up like a salad on top of the Okonomiyaki.  Try some baby greens, finely chopped spring onion, shredded nori, bonito flakes, seaweed seasonings such as this Citrus Furikae and maybe some Togarashi the Japanese seven spice mix to fire it up a bit, some avocado would be great to when in season. The most important thing to remember when cooking these dense pancakes is to allow time for them to to cook slowly so that the batter is cooked through.  Doughy pancakes […]

pumpkin feta fritters
Autumn, Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Winter

Spicy Pumpkin and Possibly Feta, Fritters

The chill in the south continues to deepen and with the forecast temperature at -7’c this morning, the kitchen is a great place to be. That chill coupled with an amazing vege lettuce burger I had a couple of months ago has certainly encouraged my quest to create a simple and tasty winter vegetable fritter at home.  Having now settled on my favourite version, I think their uses are far from limited to burgers. Stacked up for breakfast or brunch with an egg, some spicy tomato salsa and greek yogurt or as an alternative to fritters make the mix as one or two whole rosti style pancakes and serve with some hot or cold smoked salmon, sour cream capers and lemon…….. With all these options I am still excited about the lettuce burger today.  Not a new idea at all but still a really good one – put together one, two or three Iceburg lettuce leaves to make a great vessel for your favourite burger, refreshing, crunchy and amazingly sturdy. Couple this with a tasty vege fritter, simple salad or slaw, a spicy salsa or some kimchi, maybe a little creamy dressing or yogurt and possibly a few potato crisps or tortilla chips inserted at the last moment for extra crunch. Delicious! I am making these today and plan to put them in the refrigerator ready for “tired and can’t be bothered” night, because on those nights I can’t be bothered to go out and get food either. SPICY PUMPKIN […]

dal and roast vegetables
Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

DAL AND ROAST VEGETABLES WITH A CRISP AND SPICEY TOPPING

Dal, dhal, daal or dhal, these are all Indian words for lentils or split pulses, they can and will be be cooked differently according to region and personal taste.  This recipe is my favourite at the moment. With the days here drawing in and the thought of long evenings around the fire, bowls of comforting, flavour rich food like this Dal are starting to sound like the answer to the dinner question.  This is the first comfort food meal for the season and has left me enthusiastic for more.  I love the way these simple ingredients with warming spices make for such easy eating – almost soup like at times, or as I have made it now – more like a risotto. In this version I have made my Dal into a satisfying meal topped with a layer of seasonal roast vegetables and finished with mustard seeds, chilli and curry leaves sauted in coconut oil and poured – sizzling – over the top, then a final flourish of fresh coriander or mint, and finely sliced spring onion. The basic Dal recipe I have been making stays the same, as do the the tempered spicy topping, but the roast vegetables in-between change according to what is in my refrigerator. This is great eaten as is, but if you want more – add some naan, other indian bread or poppadoms on the side, pour a little yoghurt or cashew nut cream over top and add a cooling yoghurt, cumin seed and cucumber […]

asian chicken salad
Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad

Weeknight Asian Chicken Salad

This is a light and fresh salad, ideal for keeping things simple after a busy day.  A little chopping and not to much washing up, a little – but not totally – virtuous, this salad is satisfying and delicious. I have been making versions this salad for years and love the way these Asian flavours can be healthy, satisfying and a reliable crowd pleaser.  Who wants to cook food that no one wants to eat!  This is a salad that easily doubles or more for a crowd, or to have for leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. These lively flavours lift a dull day and don’t leave you feeling weighed down or tired – limes, ginger lemon grass, chilli (a little or a lot), coriander (or not), vietnamese mint and or normal mint, kaffir lime leaves,  fish sauce and or soy sauce, some crunchy peanuts, cashews or prawn chips and lots of fresh crunchy greens and vegetables of choice.   I have made this salad many times and have mixed the ingredients as many times – don’t be afraid – no kaffir lime use lemon grass or neither, want to make it vegan use soy sauce or tamari not fish sauce…The main thing to keep doing is tasting and aiming for a balance of sour, salty and spicy (to your taste). If you love these flavours I highly recommend you buy yourself a little Kaffir Lime Tree, I have one in a pot that I bring inside every winter it is […]

tomato,pumpkin,basilandlentilsalad
Autumn, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring

End of Summer Tomato Pumpkin Basil and Lentil Salad

This delicious salad marks an end to the summer days in my world, but, it could just as easily be a welcome to spring salad for my friends in the Northern Hemisphere.  It makes the most of this transition period for vegetables in my garden, when the tomatoes and basil  are coming to an end, and the pumpkins are just coming into their prime season.  For those of you heading into spring, the opposite will be happening in the vegetable markets and gardens. The temperatures plummeted here this week, which left me looking urgently for the comfort of warmer, more substantial food, while still wanting to finish the last of my summer harvest.  This salad bought these needs together perfectly. With events not being quite as I anticipated, and with over ambitious ideas of how much three people really want to eat for lunch – I found myself home alone this week with a lot of left over salad!  Four dinners later, I can tell you that as well as being delicious this is a very versatile salad! Starting with enthusiasm – I mean who doesn’t like to think they haven’t already got a delicious dinner already made just waiting for the finishing touches – dinner number one was enjoyed with a piece of white fish, pan fried and placed on top of my lightly warmed salad.  Unfortunately in my enthusiasm to eat, photography was not the priority it should have been.  I can only say that it really did […]

summer harvest salad
Gluten Free, Lunch, Salad, Summer

Summer Harvest Salad

I love this time of the year when you get to share the bounty of the garden and produce is plentiful and affordable. The tomatoes and courgette in the photo came from my friend David, our Raeward Fresh Butchers garden, and although some of the tomatoes were lovingly squashed in his pocket they were gratefully accepted and tasted amazing in this salad. There always seems to be an over supply of courgettes at this time of the year, with an occasional missed courgette masquerading as a marrow on offer. This makes it an ideal time for experimenting with new recipes for you to enjoy them.  If you are lucky and have had a summer like the one we have just had, you may have your own abundance of tomatoes and basil in the garden.  My aim, as always, is to cook vegetables often while they are plentiful, enjoying them at their best flavour and nutritional value, then also – hopefully – I wont crave them so much when they go out of season. For this simple summer salad you can bring out that crazy spiralizer, vegetable peeler or mandoline.  Spirallized noodles, simply peeled, long strands of courgette, and if even that sounds a bit of mad – courgettes cut into rounds as thinly as you can, and then let the basil marinade do the work, coating them and making them delicious. SUMMER BOUNTY SALAD Enough for a large salad for four Salad Dressing Start by blending all the ingredients for […]

vietnamese noodle salad
Canape, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Snack, Summer

A Vietnamese Noodle Salad or Rice Paper Rolls

This is a little bit old school, but they are still flavours and textures that are hard to beat on a summer day.  It is the type of food that is great to make ahead and share with friends at a party or shared table or barbecue. Today I have made them with some beautiful Canter Valley Free Range Duck breast, but you could easily use Prawns (leave out the Hoisin sauce) or – leave them deliciously vegetarian.  Spicy peanuts, a little chilli and sesame oil, and lots of fresh Asian herbs are the basic elements that make the salad and Rice Paper Rolls sing, finished with simple dressing or sauce, it is the kind of food I love to eat and would be very happy if someone made to share with me. Cool healthy and delicious, the rolls take a little time but you are rewarded with the simplicity of presentation and taste, they are a great repetitive job to do together while chatting with friends or just zoning out in the heat. My biggest dilemma today was whether to add a dipping sauce or not for the rice paper rolls.  I’m not the biggest fan of shared dipping bowls, so I tried to make them tasty enough that they didn’t need any.  While I had felt I achieved this, when we sat down and ate them they were better with a little sauce spooned over.  I have since seen photos of them served in baby cos leaves which […]

sushi salad lettuce cups
Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Seafood, Summer

Summer Sushi Salad Lettuce Cups

A spell of early summer days has hit Queenstown and with it happy times and a need for cool, soothing, quick and simple meals.  My photography today definitely doesn’t do justice to how delicious and easy these were to eat.  You need to check for Ed’s tips on lettuce preparation and enjoy these yourself while the summer days last.  There is plenty of scope here to ad-lib and to add all of the good bits you want a little more of in your traditional sushi. Sushi salads have long been popular at home and at work, but this week sushi salad randomly collided with a plan to make Prawn San Choy Bau for the blog.  The sushi salad was to be for our evening meal and the Prawns for San Choy Bau blog post, that will have to be another day!  It all came together by happy chance as dinner for family, and Marko, my hard working Cultural Exchange helper.  It was declared delicious and definitely blog worthy in its own right – so here we are!  The prawns, although providing another delicious crunch element, could easily be replaced with any other seafood – fish fillets, crab, calamari – or tofu, or as you see in the pictures  – some slices of avocado, cucumber, snow peas etc. (The snow pea sprouts unless chopped are not such a good idea in my mind – why do they always seem to end up hanging out the side of my mouth – is […]

Japanese inspired seeded salad
Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Summer

Popped and Toasted Seed and Nut Mix – And Salad Inspiration

Its beginning to gear up to the busy time of the year – when we all try and get prepared for the Christmas season, and, at the same time get out and enjoy the sunshine.  In my world that means lots of catering for summer, end of year break-ups, and festive parties.  It is an exciting time, full of the promise of good times with friends and family, and also, memories of the best of previous summers and Christmas seasons.  It is fun and busy,  and with the outdoor sunshine and warmth calling (you can’t take either of those things for granted here in the south) time in the kitchen can feel limited. Enter kitchen store cupboard essentials, and today I am talking about crunchy blends of  spicy toasted seeds and nuts. A jar in the pantry ready to snack on, put over salads, sprinkle on top soup, scatter over roast or mashed vegetables, tumble through your grain salad, buddha bowl,  or over your breakfast  shakshuka  –  the texture, the taste and the well seasoned spicy flavour makes food better.  If you are anything like me, you will feel better too, for eating something tasty, good for you and quick to assemble.   This – as always – is an idea more than a recipe it is a reminder to toast a batch of what you have to hand so you can have a jar ready to add some excitement and extra nutritional value to your next meal.  Of course while […]

medjool date and char grilled broccoli salad
Autumn, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Winter

Medjool Date and Char Grilled Broccoli Salad

Another salad with enough weight and complexity to be eaten as a meal on its own – as lunch or supper,  but also fantastic as a side to whatever else might be on the menu.  Although my mind is on spring this salad would work in any season.  It has all the elements you are looking for in a delicious salad – something raw and zingy in the red onion, something crunchy with your croutons and almonds, something rich to carry the flavours and make it a substantial in the cheese, and something green and virtuous in the broccoli.  Spinach or rocket tossed through this is also a great idea. Medjool dates are certainly a luxury item and I will often use ordinary dry dates in  baking recipes soaking them to reconstitute if necessary.  But if you haven’t tried them before I suggest you treat your self to a handful of  fresh medjool dates.  Easy to prepare,  you can simply tear them in half and remove the seed and put a brazil nut in its place for  one of the best instant healthy treats you will ever eat – great for two or three o’clock in the afternoon when you start circling the refrigerator ready to eat anything quick and easy and usually not recommended for best health.  Or you can take them to the next level, by warming a little olive oil in a pan and sautéing them carefully with a pinch of flakey malden sea salt (as I […]