Gently Spiced Sweet Potato and Quinoa Bowls

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Wow I haven’t blogged about food for a long time. Well my New Year’s Resolution is finally getting some attention so I’m back.

My excuse? Well I just haven’t cooked anything new. My wife started a new job (no longer working with me) and it just became easier for both of us to eat at lunchtimes and not really do anything special in the evenings.

Also, a new Wetherspoons opened next door to our office so I’ve been eating junk for 2 months.

But yesterday I decided to stop going out at lunchtimes – get a bit healthier and lose some of the weight I’ve gained. I need to – my wife is losing weight like nobody’s business!

So this dish is the first of many dishes I plan to make from Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook. I do like her books – and they please Freya as she wants to eat less meat than we have been doing lately; so expect lots of vegetarian dishes for a while.

This recipe is in the ‘make in the time it takes to set the table’ category – i.e. 15 minutes. I tell you now – that is impossible. It can’t be done – not by me anyway – and I can do the Jamie’s 15 minute meals on time.

Breaking it down this dish is essentially quinoa boiled up in some vegetable stock. When that is done you add that to some spring onions, garlic, sweet potato, carrots and chick peas – which you will have been pan frying for 10 minutes or so to go tender. Oh there’s a little bit or turmeric in there too!

Sweet potatoes and carrots are notoriously unpredictable when it comes to them going soft. It took some time before I considered my vegetables to be ‘ready’ and I love a bit of crunch.

To top it off you fry some spring greens in coconut oil and a squeeze of lemon.

This dish is incredibly tasty. If you are on a budget this is incredibly cheap to make too.

I was planning on serving up two dishes yesterday – the other being a Kale and Crispy Rice dish – but there was plenty here for two with some left over for lunch.

Hopefully I’m back for good this time – and hopefully I’ll lose a stone before I got on holiday in March!

 

 

 

 

Carrot, Parsnip and Apple Latkes with a Cucumber Ribbon Salad


I haven’t cooked anything new for a while. We’ve been running down our fridge as we spent several days at Freya’s and my Mums and didn’t want anything to go bad. Freya has been reupholstering our sofa and it needs lots of space – one thing we don’t have on the boat.

These Latkes are from a new book I have called Mildred’s. Mildred’s is a vegetarian restaurant in Soho and this book has some pretty amazing recipes.

This is the first thing I’ve made from the book so it’s too early for me to give it the big thumbs up – but I have a shortlist of many dishes so watch this space.

I picked this out as it seemed light and was just the ticket for a hot summery day.

It’s pretty simple. Grate carrots, parsnips and apple into a bowl. Add coriander, cumin, chilli powder, fresh ginger, polenta, flour and egg and combine.

Then just fry the latkes in batches.

I did struggle a bit with these. They weren’t keen on staying together at the beginning and I had mixed results throughout the cook.

The salad was simply a cucumber cut into ribbons with one of those wide vegetable peelers and then mixed with chopped green chilli, lime zest, lime juice and spring onions.

The combination of the two was quite excellent. The cucumber neutralises the kick of the ginger and the chilli powder.

Certainly one to make again. I was planning on making some courgette and haloumi fritters after I’d made these but they were more than filling enough.

I’ll do those tonight!

Baked Eggs with Feta, Harissa and Tomato Sauce & Coriander

Baked Eggs with Harissa, Tomato Sauce and Coriander

Another amazing dish from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. We had this before we went to Morocco; part of a week where we thought we’d try out the types of food we were likely to eat while we were on holiday. Sadly stuff like this was nowhere to be found.

It’s an incredibly tasty dish and, although it is supposedly what people eat for breakfast, it was a main meal for us. I should knock one of these up the morning before our next Monopoly Board Pub Crawl (we are well over half way !).

Our local Syrian supermarket has fresh feta. Its far superior to the stuff you get in packets, much smoother and it matures if you keep it a couple of days. We buy it a lot and it often ends up in this recipe (as well as the pistachio dip) – I’ve made them both many times.

It’s very simple to make but does take a while if you want your sauce to be rich and your eggs well baked.

The sauce isn’t unlike most tomato based curry sauces. You fry some red onions, add lots of garlic, stir in turmeric, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and then the harissa paste. Once the onions are well coated add both tinned and fresh tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Very simple.

Pour this sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish and break chunks of feta into the sauce, and stir in lots of coriander.

Then make four wells in the sauce, crack eggs into the wells, season with pepper and bake in the oven until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

I like recipes like this because you don’t have to paw over them for ages. It can be a one pot creation if you start your sauce in the right dish. First time round I doubled my washing up by not planning properly.

The recipe recommends eating this with flatbreads, which we did. Mopping up that awesome tomato sauce was very satisfying.

Beetroot Buckwheat Risotto

Beetroot Buckwheat Risotto

Where are all the Deliciously Ella recipes I hear you ask. Well – I have been making them – I just haven’t blogged them yet.

This book is a tricky one for me. As are all the dishes I have made so far. The book is effectively a collection of blogged recipes from a lady that needed to change her eating habits to overcome illness. As a consequence Ella has had to cut out lots of good stuff.

I admire her for producing a whole book with the limited ingredients she has at hand but for me I am struggling with the lack of punch or pizzazz that I like to get from the things that I make.

Obviously this is going to put me in the doghouse with many people (especially those that love this book) but it isn’t working for me.

This risotto really isn’t a risotto at all – even though it looks like one. If you follow the recipe to the letter it isn’t particularly tasty either. I found it quite bland. I pepped mine up with a squeeze of lime. I think some coriander and some creme fraiche might be a good addition too!

To make it you roast some beetroots skin on, peel them once they are soft and blitz them in a food processor with coconut milk, lemon juice and seasoning.

While the beetroot is roasting, cook the buckwheat until it is al-dente. Then combine the two ingredients and serve.

It’s very easy to make and I absolutely guarantee it is good for you – just looking at the ingredients will tell you this – but for me there just isn’t enough flavour.

I’ve made four or five things from this book now and the same issue exists with all of them. My tastebuds just want more – so I usually add something else to liven it up.

That said Freya says she feels much better, less bloated and generally healthier this week – so this does seem to be having an effect.

My experience in the past is that low fat or diet books (not that this is really either of those) tend to cut out so much that the food is dull. You just know it’s low fat and it leaves you wanting. Not that this should be a problem for most – it just doesn’t float my boat.

One thing Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Hemsley and Hemsley and the Honestly Healthy girls achieved is both the light and health without sacrificing the great flavours and textures. For me this book falls down in this area.

Don’t let that put you off. One man’s meat is another mans poison!

Chickpea salad with avocado mayo

Chickpea Salad with Avocado Mayo

Friday lunches are a bit hit and miss. Usually because Thursday night is Film Club at work and we don’t tend to get home until quite late. This week we watched ‘Cube’ which is a very low budget Canadian film about some people that have been put in a cube full of rooms and traps. It wasn’t bad but the acting was pretty poor. That said I will be giving Cube Two and Cube Zero a go just to see if they get any better!

We got home pretty late and I prepped the mayo for this before we went to bed. It’s a very good vegan mayo and is almost a runny guacamole. The ingredients are quite similar except for the lack of any chilli.

The may is simply a large avocado, rapeseed oil, a little english mustard and some cider vinegar in my Nutribullet and blitz until smooth. Couldn’t be easier.

Serving was simply some crisp lettuce, chickpeas, the mayo and some sunflower seeds.

The dish is another Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall offering from River Cottage Light and Easy. The mayo had me curious the first time I flicked through the book and I knew it could be used elsewhere so why not give it a go.

Personally I think the mayo didn’t go so well with the chickpeas. The dish was very balanced and was quite tasty but there are better things I would have put it with – even just dipping Nachos in it would have made me happy!

Not bad though! Sorry about the picture – It kind of all got thrown on the plate in a rush!

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

Every other weekend we don’t really get to eat very well. My daughter comes to stay on Friday thru’ Saturday and then on the Sunday we go to Freya’s parents. Killing two birds with one stone as it were!

My daughter lives a fair old way away and by the time I’ve picked her up and brought her back to the boat it is usually way too late to eat. So we tend to have a big lunch on the Friday and power through to Saturday morning – or we grab something on the way to picking her up.

After spending the day in the British Museum on Saturday and safely dispatching my daughter back to her mother, I got home and threw this together. Very little effort – just time  roasting the vegetables. But it is very tasty.

The plan was for Freya to cook while I took Olivia home but there was a mix up with the boat keys so Freya ended up sat in a pub knitting for two hours while I was gone. On the plus side I now know that the Magpie and Crown has two new Craft Ales on tap – and both were excellent!

This recipe is also from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook. I’d highlighted it as one of the dishes I was going to make when I skimmed the book and it was well worth it. I love asparagus and it goes very well with eggs too.

It’s not much of a recipe more than bake stuff in the oven. You bake the potatoes, then add the asparagus, then right at the end make four wells and crack an egg into each well. Bake until the eggs are done and serve. Very simple indeed.

On Sunday I remade the Shallot and Mushroom risotto and the Brussels Sprouts, Puy Lentils and Walnuts for the six of us. It seemed to go down well although it wasn’t as good as the first time I made it. The only thing I changed was the stock and the quantities – their oven was just more feisty than mine and the onions were overdone in my opinion!

Dry Fried Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and Chill – and – Potato Cakes

Dry Fried Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and Red Chilli

Tuesday Nights is Rock n Roll dancing and Hedsor. Dinner needed to be quick as we have a reasonable drive from West London to Maidenhead so I same up with these two dishes.

Dancing was great this week. During the lesson we rotated partners and ended up dancing with everyone. Very cool. Really helps you realise what you’re doing wrong and how different people dance in different ways. Lots of newcomers too. So we aren’t the newest ones there anymore!

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Surprisingly we had time to watch Broadchurch before we went out. Not sure we like this series as much as the first one. Lots of sleuthing – not enough detective work. Lots of sub plots – not enough focus on one thing. We shall see!

The Broccoli takes minutes. The potato cakes need cold mashed potato so you’ll need to do these in advance to allow them to cool down.

The broccoli dish is simply a medium-hot pan – toast some almonds but don’t burn them and allow to cool. Then dry fry the broccoli for a good 10 minutes – add the red chilli – fry a little more then serve with the almonds.

This dish was too hot for Freya. The broccoli really takes on the heat from the red chilli and she wasn’t a fan. I loved it. I love chillies. I added a mustard dressing which made the dish far more enjoyable for Freya. The dressing was simply mustard, egg yolk, cider vinegar, oil and garlic all whisked together.

The potato cakes are simply mashed potato, baking powder and rice flour, mixed together and fried as patties until they go fluffy.

All in all a very simple dinner. Nothing special but very tasty and a good fast dinner that filled a hole.