Meal

wildrice and quinoa meal prep
Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, quick meals, Salad, Savoury, Snack, Sweet

Weekday Black Rice and Quinoa Meals

    Today I am cooking with the intention to multi task a couple of ingredients.   I am working with my friend Ollie on a project to create simple, healthy and affordable meals.  As always, this is part of my food journey (and I am looking forward to the challenge within this) of preparing some basic items to make my weekday meals easier.   My struggle with preparing food in advance is that often when it comes time to eat it, it is not what I want  – brattish  I know!  My thoughts this week were to prepare something that could then transform into the flavours I did want on the day, be it sweet or savoury, breakfast, lunch or dinner.. Starting with this in mind I prepared Wild Rice (which isn’t actually rice at all) and  black quinoa.  Shop around for wild rice (it can vary in price a lot) and it is only recently that some  more affordable home-brand varieties have become available. The idea here is not that you have to use these two grains, you can absolutely substitute your favourite rice or grain, or better still use what you have in the pantry.  This is a great way to finish some of those half used packets.  I love combining grains, pulses and beans, which as I show below,  can form the base of all sorts of different meals.  Using a variety of grains, pulses and beans gives you a broader nutrition profile and more interesting textures to […]

Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, quick meals, Salad, Savoury, Seafood, Snack, Spring, Summer, Vegetable, Winter

My Japanese Ponzu Sauce

Home made summer inspiration coming right up.  This cooling Japanese condiment while delicious at any time is particularly suited to hot summer days when you are wanting to do little more than some quick chopping and mixing to achieve dinner. I was initially motivated to make this having had a delicious Beef Tataki at a local restaurant.  Inspired, I decided to pair it with Ponzu Sauce and some of Eds venison fillets. This worked really well, but over the next few weeks it came into its own making big entertainment salads with venison Shitake mushrooms, Mushroom House-Crispy Oyster Mushroom Chips (worthy of a mention on there own for there utter deliciousness)…., simple salads for one – namely me – with a piece of salmon, tofu or beef over the top,   and more Tataki inspired  dishes. It turns out though that this amazing and complex sauce lasts well in the refrigerator – up to six months as long as no water is added and it it works over and beside a huge number of meals.  Use it – As a simple salad dressing with a Japanese twist. Make a great big family style salad Over raw or cooked fish such as salmon, tuna, oysters… Beef thinly sliced. Tofu. Potstickers or dumplings as a dipping sauce Shabu – shabu Noodles Poke bowl Buddha or grain bowl Steamed sautéed or charred vegetables Tempura. Crumbed fried or baked meats or vegetables… I am sure there are many other ways just waiting to be tried.  […]

Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring

Mimosa Sauce and Spring Asparagus

We are enjoying the beginning of the asparagus season here in my world – delicious, crisp, young spears to let us know that spring is really here.  I have been celebrating its arrival with an old world sauce that is new to my repetoire, but one that I am sure will become an old favourite. At the start of the season I like to savour my first bunches of asparagus, serving them simply, lightly steamed or blanched  with some good butter, salt and pepper and relishing the taste of each slightly salty buttery spear.  It is week two now and I am ready to add a little something more,  that said I am still looking for clean fresh flavours to enhance but not overwhelm the asparagus. Enter Mimosa sauce, a traditional accompaniment to asparagus that I had somehow missed.   Eggs and asparagus are a traditional combination always rich and delicious, and although I will never say no to hollandaise sauce, this delicious Mimosa sauce – which is almost an egg salsa – is somehow fresher and lighter for the start of spring.  With the red wine vinegar, capers and mustard this is a punchy sauce that offers lots of umami goodness. Mimosa Sauce is conveniently made up of  ingredients that are easy to come by, and often in our refrigerator anyway.  Parsley is one of the herbs that hopefully survive the winter somewhere in the garden, and although I haven’t done this I am sure you could sub the shallot […]

eggplant meatballs
Autumn, Canape, Gluten Free, Meal, Vegetable

Simple Vegan Eggplant ‘Meatballs’

These delicious little “meatballs” have been simmering in my mind for several months. After two beautiful, and hardworking!, vegetarian Swedish girls came to stay, I promised them I would work on a recipe for vegetarian ‘Swedish meatballs”.  There were a few fails before this recipe, and now that I have made it this far, I confess the inspiration was Swedish but the translation from this non Swedish chef (me) who has never been to Sweden (yet!!!!!! ) – is probably far from anything Swedish, luckily it is versatile and delicious and I am sure my friends will enjoy them. With todays rendition I have tried to channel my best “Swedish chef” and  have thought about the flavours that might work for Tess and Adela home in Sweden at the beginning of their autumn.  I have paired the eggplant meatballs with a  dill, horseradish beetroot, apple and red cabbage salad (very similar to the beetroot salad here – A Quick Fridge Pickle and a Favourite Easy Raw Beetroot Salad,)  I made a mash consisting of potato, peas, broccoli, spring onions, dill, lemon and mint yoghurt sauce, with a drizzle of olive oil  to finish the plate.  This tastes as good as it looks with lots of fresh vegetables, crunchy texture and a little comfort from the potato vegetable mash. I made the same recipe last week with the addition of curry powder and served them with an Indian spinach “Saag” sauce with was also delicious.  My next plan is to serve […]

miso bone broth
Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, quick meals, Savoury, Snack, Soup

Organic Chicken Bone Broth

Bone broth – miracle cure all maybe – that would certainly be great.  It definitely gets a lot of good press for its health benefits, and while some sources suggest these benefits may not be scientifically proven it is an old fashioned tonic made with affordable but good quality ingredients, and looking at the finished product can make you feel closer to being a domestic goddess.  In everyday cooking it both tastes great and works really well as a flavour boost for quick and nutritious soups risottos…and any other meal you might consider using stock or water in. Bone broth is said to benefit us in many ways, the following are some of the ways I have read it can help us Boost immunity Fight inflammation Alleviate the common cold and bronchitis Strengthen bones and teeth Promote weight loss Improve hydration Aid sleep Skin vitality Help normalise stomach acid ……. Including Bone Broth in our diet has to be a win win situation, and even if it is not a miracle cure all, it is still real food made simply out of quality ingredients. To make this at home is simple – especially if like me you have an under utilised slow cooker taking up  valuable space.  It can of course be made on the stove top and there are also some very good bone broth products available for purchase.  My reading suggests that this is a product that you are best to make or buy organic, as any negative […]

tahini eggplant bake
Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Vegetable, Winter

Tahini Eggplant Bake

This is delicious winter comfort food that can be served as a side dish, or the main event.  It is also exciting because this vegan and gluten free bake is comfort food at its wintery best. I was was inspired in this dish by the Lamb Siniyah recipe in the beautiful Ottolenghi book Simple, a recipe described as the middle eastern equivalent of Shepherds Pie. I absolutely loved this recipe and the tahini sauce baked on top was a revelation to me.  I have since talked it up and spent a lot of time in the middle of the night creating recipes to use it. This is the first of my experiments and one that I have enjoyed three times already and now a forth in the writing and photographing of it for this post. I have made it in my favourite smallish 5 cup capacity enamel baking pan and find it is the perfect size for four people as a side vegetable dish or two as main meal with side salad.  This is another of those recipes that can easily be doubled or more to feed a crowd.  It is also great, and possibly even better (as are most similar baked dishes) the next day.  This also makes me very happy when Ed is away and I am cooking for one as it is delicious as leftovers and makes a tasty easy start to the next days meal. Today I had a friend coming to visit and I wanted […]

salmon gravlax and Te Amo pinot gris
Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Seafood

Salmon Gravlax and Te Amo Wines Pinot Gris

This weekend I shared a day with my friend Ruth from Te Amo wines, matching food with her beautiful Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines.  It was also Ruths birthday and I was lucky to also be able to share food and wine with her amazing friends and family. The story of Ruth and her wine is all about the special relationship with family, friends, food and wine, and all of this was embodied in the spirit of the day I spent with her.  See the bottle in the picture above and her story is there – the drawing by her amazing daughter, a speech bubble with the name Te Amo,  meaning I love you, and on the back of the bottle a brief description of the wine giving you a feeling for the wine but allowing you to draw your own conclusions For this special occasion, and to match her Pinot Gris, I prepared  Scandinavian Salmon Gravadlax. This is a simple preparation that can happen slowly in the refrigerator over a few days. There are many variations on this traditional recipe that are also amazing, but for me I am happy to keep with the original simple recipe – no added spirits or beetroot today.  Most times I will eat gravlax as a pre prandial, canape or tapa, but today I wanted to make a seasonal salad to share as part of a birthday lunch, hoping to embrace fresh spring flavours for the party.  I have served the Gravadlax […]

ricotta gnocchi
Lunch, Meal

Spinach, Lemon and Ricotta Gnocchi

These gnocchi are a slightly lighter and looser gnocchi than usual.They are quick to put together and, at a stretch, can be said to be made from store cupboard ingredients. Ricotta and spinach from the freezer, lemons, parmesan, eggs and flour. Anyone who knows me well knows I love food bargains and hate waste.  One of our extended family who lived with us for a while was known to to ask “what’s special for dinner tonight”, and he wasn’t referring to my cooking!  In fairness he always did seem to love the cooking as well. My bargain hunting means I always have a stock of short dated ricotta in my freezer ready for savoury or sweet treats. These little gnocchi are substantial enough to be the hero of your meal and will team well with any of the usual simple pasta accompaniments – simple brown butter is amazing, but for a lighter approach think about wilted spinach, peas and pine nuts, sweet summer cherry tomatoes and basil, a simple Puttanesca sauce, or a wintery dish of roast pumpkin and toasted almonds!(……Maybe some of the fresh asparagus and peas just starting to appear in the market,  topped with a few lightly toasted pine nuts – YUM!.) I have also wandered off track a little with these in the experimentation process and have enjoyed them in a curry sauce and used them as dumplings in a big oxtail stew.  I cooked them from raw in the sauce both times and very happily […]

miso mustard salad dressing
Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Seafood, Vegetable

Miso Mustard Dressing and Black Bean Noodle Salad

Todays recipe forms the base for a simple weeknight meal for one, or a crowd, but can also be a delicious salad in its own right.  Miso meets mustard and comes together in this surprising and delicious dressing/sauce. Miso it seems is a very versatile ingredient which can be used in surprising and different ways apart from all the wonderful Japanese recipes we know and love.  With its strong umami flavour, its fermented gut health qualities and its very long shelf life, it is a great addition to the refrigerator.  Its longevity works really well for me – with my impulsive food buying nature, I like to know I don’t have to use it all now, and risk my family becoming thoroughly sick of one particular ingredient. No chance of that today though as I ended up making supper for one on this occasion as flight plans were unexpectedly rescheduled.  Luckily this is one of those meal plans that can easily fit around the needs of the moment for the masses or the few. I have been working on extending my repetoire for simple meal plans for weeknights. We have been making some amazing ready meals at work and I like the idea of extending this idea to some of my home meal prep.  I haven’t made this “one pan” – but still the dishes are not onerous with a blender or jar for the dressing, a pot for the noodles and vegetables and a pan or sheet tray for […]

polenta fish in chips
Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

Smoked Fish in Polenta Chips

Today I have a new take Polenta – an old staple with a surprising new twist.  Inspired by a recipe in The Guardian by one of my great food hero’s Yottam Ottolinghi.  This is the real deal in comfort food – smokey, fishy, spicey  (if thats what you want – I do! ), a little cheesey and to finish  some fresh herby goodness.  It involves infusing milk with aromatics from your pantry and garden, then gently poaching smoked fish in this before straining and adding the polenta to cook, then once thickened returning the flaked smoked fish cheese and herbs to the thickened polenta. Cooking like this for me allows moments to step away from the busyness of life and focus on simpler things, to take it a little slowly – be patent and let the milk infuse – go outside and find a few simple herbs tucked in the corner or sheltering from the winter under the weeds – this is not about the perfect ingredient list, just taking time to bring it together with what you have to hand.  In the end you will have something that can wait until you are ready to enjoy on your own or share with the few or the many. This recipe can be halved , doubled or tripled to suit – make it an put a slab in the freezer for later or make a great big batch for hearty snacks or dinner for a crowd. Polenta has always been a […]