I struggle with what to make for lunch. Sandwiches are the obvious choice but a limited rota of fillings makes them get boring really quickly. Even at the weekend when I’ve got more time I’m generally quite stumped as to what to make. Left to my own devices I’d probably just rustle up a bowl of ramen noodles every day (and chorizo pasta every night!), but Hubby keeps pointing out the inherent unhealthiness of that, so… I’ve always got one eye out for new and interesting things to make for that meddlesome midday meal whenever I’m flicking through foodie mags or watching foodie progs. When I saw (the very lovely!) James Martin make his Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles one Saturday morning I knew I had to give it a go – not just because it looked tasty good but also because it looked like it could be Eat’s Spicy Crayfish Noodles, crab crayfish swap notwithstanding, which are awesome! Sadly, the only Eat in Edinburgh is inconveniently way out at the airport which is why I’m happy to have found a recipe that is tantamount to making my own…
Other than the obvious fact that this is not a sandwich, I love this for lunch – the sweet spicy noodles are delicious cold and the whole thing tastes lovely and fresh thanks to the coriander and zingy lime juice. Despite the long list of ingredients it really doesn’t take long to make these, and that wee bit of effort the night before will totally pay off the next day when you tuck into these for lunch 🙂
My take on JM’s original recipe cuts down the sauce:noodle ratio quite a bit as the Eat noodles I’m trying to recreate are eaten cold, and too much sauce with cold noodles = claggygedon. You’ll probably still need to give them a good shoogle to loosen them up before eating (a fresh squeeze of lime juice all over helps), especially if they’ve just come out of the fridge
Sweet & Spicy Prawn Noodle Salad
Delicious cold noodles in a light sweet and spicy sauce, set off perfectly with zingy lime juice.
600g fresh egg noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 limes, juice one, quarter one to serve
Heat the oil in a wok before adding the ginger, garlic and chillies and stir-frying them for 2-3 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together the tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, hoisin sauce and fish sauce. I find it helps a little to melt the sugar in the hot water separately before adding that to the bowl and whisking everything together.
Add the sauce to the wok, stir well to incorporate the ginger, garlic and chillies, and then bring to the boil before reduding the heat and simmering for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
Add the prawns first and coat them in the sauce, and then add the noodles, coriander and lime juice, and stir/mix/shoogle until you’ve coated everything in the sauce.
Decant into lunch containers, leave to cool, and then pop into the fridge until needed. Best eaten at room temp with some fresh lime quarters to squeeze over.
Adapted from James Martin, Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles
Adapted from James Martin, Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles
Another great foodgawker find! This recipe is from a blog called Picture The Recipe which is spot on because the picture of it totally lured me in. And then I read the ingredients… I have to be honest, the idea of cooking with mayo didn’t inspire me, but this looked too good not to give it the benefit of the doubt. And I’m sure I’ve seen Hellmann’s promoting recipes that heat up mayo so I figured I’d give it a go and trust in the blog.
Don’t let the mayo put you off, there was not a clean plate in the house!! It was quite rich but a little sauce goes a long way, which is just as well because this isn’t a dish that comes with loads of jup. Next time I’ll serve it with some stir fried brocolli, or bak choi, the green will really temper that richness the mayo brings. The other thing that really recommends this is how easy it was to put together, the whole egg wash flouring thing really sounds more flaff than it actually is. And baking the chicken still gives you that lovely velvetting texture from the egg/flour coating but in a much more healthy way than frying it. I’m off now to check out the other recipes on that blog 🙂
Orange Chicken in a Chinese Stylee
Mayo is the surprise ingredient in this delicious asian inspired orange chicken.
Get your rice on an pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, hot sauce and 1 tsp of the garlic salt. Add the chicken to the egg mix and stir well so that every piece is coated.
In a medium sized shallowish bowl mix together the flour, the other 1 tsp of garlic salt and the pepper.
This is where I snap on the CSI vinyl gloves! Take 3 or 4 pieces of the eggy chicken and roll them around the seasoned flour until they’re coated all over. Space them out on a baking sheet.
Pop in the oven and bake for 15 minutes which should cook the pieces through.
While the chicken is cooking get the sauce ready by mixing together the mayonnaise, orange juice, orange zest, sweet chilli sauce and salt to season. It won’t look pretty at first (understatement!), all lumpy and sort of curdled, but once you get whisking those lumps should disappear, although you might need to persevere a bit to get rid of all of them.
Pour the sauce into a wok, or similar sized pan, and set aside until the chicken is cooked. The chicken pieces will still look quite floury in places but don’t worry, we have plans for that flour later! Then, change your setting from oven to grill and put the chicken pieces under for about 5 minutes, or until there are some lovely brown bits on the chicken.
While you’re grilling the chicken pieces, put the sauce on a medium-high heat until it’s gently boiling and then turn it down to simmer. When the chicken is ready to come out from under the grill, put the pieces into the sauce and coat well. The floury bits of the chicken will come loose and thicken the sauce, which should start to look glossy.
Give it a couple of minutes and once you’re happy with the thickness of the sauce add some snipped chives, mix through, plate up, scatter a few more snipped chives on top for show, and serve!
I love foodgawker and pinterest for introducing me to food blogs I’d never have found otherwise, and recipes that make me go “hmmm… I could do that!” Like this one from Alexandra’s Kitchen for Spanakopita Strudels. Stuffed full of spinach and feta, a moreishly tasty flavour combo, the soft salty filling is perfectly contrasted by lovely crispy filo pastry.
And who doesn’t love recipes where the prep to results ratio is outrageously unbalanced in the favour of results, which this really is. The filling takes no time to put together and the pastry work is a total doddle thanks to spooning the butter over the filo rather than brushing it.
I’m also constantly on the lookout for new packable lunch ideas, because sarnies day after day after day gets a wee bit dull. So I tried this one Sunday afternoon to pack hubby of to work with the next day and was lucky there were any left after we ended up “testing” half the batch when they come out of the oven! To be honest, this is probably best eaten while still warm but it wasn’t half bad cold the next day with a mug of homemade soup 🙂
The trick to this recipe is simple – do not brush the butter over the pastry or try to cover every bit of it, if anything, the finished strudel will actually be lighter for the random spooning. Lay a second sheet of filo over the first and spoon three more teaspoons of butter over it, this time aiming for the areas you missed on the first sheet. Top with a third sheet and spoon another three teaspoons of butter over it, again aiming for any missed spots. Like this!
Scoop out a level 1/2 cup of the spinach and cheese filling…
… and place on the filo, about 2 inches from the bottom end nearest you.
Then fold the bottom of the filo over the filling…
…before folding the sides in, left first then right…
…and then from the bottom, fold the filling portion up and over itself until you’ve got a small parcel.
Place the parcel fold side down on your baking sheet and brush the top with butter.
Repeat until you run out of pastry or filling (or both!) – you should get six parcels out of this.
Spinach & Feta Strudels
A moreishly tasty flavour combo, the soft salty filling perfectly contrasted by lovely crispy filo pastry.
18 sheets of filo/phyllo pastry, approx 9 x 14 inches
I used Sainsbury’s from the chiller cabinet and got 15 sheets out of it that were just a little smaller than 9×14 but worked perfectly.
Start by preheating the oven to 175C/350F, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Clear and clean your work surface so that you have enough room to comfortably accommodate the filo pastry sheets when they are laid out flat.
In batches, pulse the spinach in a food processor until it’s roughly chopped and place in a large bowl. Add the cottage cheese to the bowl, crumble in the feta cheese, add the beaten egg, and fold it all together with a spatula.
Lay one sheet of filo out flat with a short end towards you, and spoon/drizzle three teaspoons of the melted butter over it - do not brush the butter over the pastry or try to cover every bit of it, if anything, the finished strudel will actually be lighter for the random spooning.
Lay a second sheet of filo over the first and spoon/drizzle three more teaspoons of butter over it, this time aiming for the areas you missed on the first sheet.
Top with a third sheet and spoon/drizzle another three teaspoons of butter over it, again aiming for any missed spots.
Scoop out a level 1/2 cup of the spinach and cheese filling and place on the filo, about 2 inches from the bottom end nearest you. Then fold the bottom of the filo over the filling before folding the sides in, left first then right, and then from the bottom, fold the filling portion up and over itself until you’ve got a small parcel.
Place the parcel fold side down on your baking sheet and brush the top with butter.
Repeat until you run out of pastry or filling (or both!) – you should get six parcels out of this – and then pop in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown on top.
Soup has always been a starter for me rather than a meal in itself. Any suggestions in the past by Hubby to have soup and nothing but soup was met with my sulky face and a not very under my breath mutter of “It’s a waste of food inventory…” And then he made me his so-delicious-its-almost-indecent butternut squash soup last year… After eating my own body weight in the stuff and finding myself feeling not at all cheated of a meal I didn’t really have any choice but to revise my opinion of soup, including the putting away of the sulky face (!)
So with the onset of Autumn I thought I’d try and expand my quite limited soup portfolio this year with a some new recipes. This weekend was the first quiet weekend we’d had in ages, perfect to get souping, starting with something distinctly seasonal. It turned out rather well, if I may say so myself 🙂 And I’m sure the skies turning dark and the heavens opening just as we sat down to eat this with a few cheeky posh sausage rolls only added to the comfortingness of the soup.
The original recipe is by Flourishing Foodie as discovered and drooled over on Foodgawker, and I was as inspired by the photo composition as I was by the idea of a soup made out of roasted parsnips. I love parsnips, and roasting them really heightens their sweetness and that nutty flavour they have. And any worries I might have harboured about the combination of parsnips and apple being too sweet were sorted out by Flourishing Foodie’s quite inspired topping of a few shavings of parmesan, adding a lovely deep savoury note (umami for the win!).
I’ve frozen the leftovers in single portions for later, including the leftover half loaf of sourdough (croutoning up a whole loaf for just two of us seemed a little daft) so that I can make those delicious croutons again too. And I’m thinking of adding a wee drizzle of garlic flavoured olive oil over the soup before decorating with the croutons and herbs next time. I’ll let you know how that turns out 🙂
And I’m never ever buying store bought croutons again, EVER!!
Roasted Parsnip & Apple Soup
Nutty parsnip and sweet apple is perfectly offset by lovely savoury parmesan shavings.
fresh loaf of bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (cannot recommend sourdough enough!)
fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved
herbs to garnish (parsley, basil, oregano or tarragon should all work)
Preheat the oven to 175C/350F. Toss the chopped parsnips in the olive oil until all the pieces are mostly coated, then lay them out on a baking tray in a single layer. Roast for 60 minutes, turning them every 20 minutes until they’re tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.
Set the stewpot over a medium heat and add the butter. When it’s beginning to foam and has turned a light brown add the onions. When they’re lovely and translucent stir in the nutmeg.
Next, add the apples, potato, and roasted parsnips to the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Give it a stir every now and then to stop it from sticking or burning.
Then add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil before reducing the heat right down until the stock is simmering and leave it to bubble away gently for half an hour.
After that, check the veg is ready – you want it soft enough again to pierce easily with a fork. If you’re using a traditional blender scoop the veg out, or sieve it over a large bowl to catch and keep the liquid bit of the soup , and blend until it’s a lovely smooth puree (you might need to do this in batches).
Add the pureed veg back into stewpot with the liquid soup, add the double cream, stir well, and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Keep warm on a low-medium heat until you’re ready to serve. If the soup is a little too thick then add some milk or water to thin and recheck your seasoning.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Slice the bread in one inch cubes – if you want an extra crispy crunch leave the crusts on. Toss your bread cubes in a light drizzle of olive oil and salt and then lay them out on a baking tray in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes, or until they’re as brown (or not brown!) as you like them.
Dish up your soup and drop in some of the fresh croutons (be generous!), shave some Parmesan cheese over the top, and garnish with a leaf or two of your herb of choice (or a light sprinkle of dried herbs).
A couple of weekends ago I had some friends round for a bit of a curry feast. Apart from loving curries so any excuse really to make them, they’re perfect for cooking up ahead of time which means you’re not stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun in another room without you. So while choosing which curries to cook was a doddle, trying to find starters that didn’t need a lot of attention on the night was much tougher than I thought it would be. And I wanted to do a spread of Indian finger food rather than a sit down starter which narrowed down my options even more. Suffice it to say, there were tantrums…
But! I eventually found four fantastic Indian inspired nibblies, of which this was probably my favourite (and judging by the empty plates I’m guessing they went down quite well with my friends too!). They’re easy peasy, look pretty as a picture, taste even better than they look and are fiendishly moreish. Thank you Delicious Magazine, for coming to the rescue! Again! 🙂
Don’t be tempted to buy large prawns, like tiger prawns, because you’ll have a mare trying to balance them on the poppadoms. And be prepared to sift through your bag of poppadoms to find ones that are whole and flat or at least opened enough to sit the prawn easily on/in (silver lining = you can snack on all the broken or curled up ones while you’re sifting!). The longer you can leave the prawns in the curry mixture the better the flavours will develop, overnight is perfect but even a couple of hours will make a difference. If you’re making these well ahead of time then refrigerate, but remember to take out them back out about 45 minutes before you want to serve them up so that they can get back up to room temperature.
Spiced Prawn Poppadoms
Easy peasy Indian nibbles that are fiendishly tasty.
2 limes, 1 for zesting and 1 to cut into wedges for garnish
Small handful of chopped fresh coriander, plus extra leaves to garnish
100g bag mini poppadoms (Walkers Sensations Lime & Coriander Chutney if you can)
Mango chutney to serve (smooth if you can)
Drain the prawns of any liquid and pat dry with kitchen paper. And if you have an aversion to prawn tails, like Hubby who calls them flippers (!) then nip those off.
In a bowl, mix together the curry paste, yogurt, lime zest and coriander, then season to taste. Tip the prawns in and stir until they’re evenly coated in the curry mixture and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
You want to do the assembling about 20 minutes before you want to put these out.
Take about 30 whole poppadoms from the bag and put them onto your serving plates. Place a spiced prawn on each (or if the prawns are quite small then place two on each).
Top each with a small blob of mango chutney (I found a small squeezy bottle perfect for doing this quickly) and don’t be tempted to overdo the mango chutney or it will overpower all the other flavours. Top with a wee bit of coriander leaf, and you’re good to serve.
And finally, pop a couple of small lime wedges onto each plate for people to squeeze over.