Monday, 29 April 2013

Food diary w/c 22nd April

The sun is shining and the pressure of looking good in the summer is mounting. We have just booked our flights to Portugal and I can't wait. The most exciting bit now is buying Alexa's summer wardrobe, oh how my life has changed! Long gone are the times where I thought about my own wardrobe! Still I need to go on a diet so that Alexa doesn't have a hippo for a mum! I didn't think I was doing badly until I saw a mum at the rugby with a newborn on Baby Bjorn with two toddlers in tow, 4 inch heels and skinny jeans! Yes...that's when I thought my nutella and tiramisu diet has to stop!

We are going to be good starting this week so last week's menu was a bit of a send off.

Monday - Chicken Cacciatore
Tuesday - Stir fried beef rice noodles (ho fun)
Wednesday - Homemade gnocchi with watercress and broccoli sauce
Thursday - Fish soup, garlic bread
Friday - Steam silken tofu with braised chicken and mushroom sauce

Chicken Cacciatore

Stir fried beef rice noodles (ho fun)

Homemade gnocchi with watercress and broccoli sauce

Steam silken tofu with braised chicken and mushroom sauce

I didn't include any recipes in this post so that it is not too cumbersome to read. But if you are interested in cooking any of the dishes, please contact me and I'll be more than happy to give it to you. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Some like it hot...

After a very busy long weekend in Cornwall, the subsequent week wasn't much calmer. I thought I would start the rest of my week by weaning my daughter. I went in without much preparation to be honest. I had a spoon that's about it! It was a freebie from those marketing ploys by Hipp Organic. Sneaky buggers but it came in handy until I got myself some fancy-pants heat sensitive Tommee Tippee spoons. Alexa didn't care what spoons she used as she gobbled up whatever concoction I served her. Thank goodness for those freezer meals (hence no food diary last week!) I so religiously stored over the months as they came in handy. We ate simply last week but that didn't last long. Weekend came and I thought enough is enough with the freezer food. So after a sunny afternoon at the rugby my husband suggested we cook a lamb curry! Most people will go with BBQ or salads given it was quite hot on Saturday but no, we want to spice it up.

We found this recipe online (all hail the internet) and the reason we decided to try it is the amount of spices the recipe used, shit loads! We did cut back on the chillies a bit and I am so glad we did as the finished product was delicious and the heat builds and builds. In short, it is a blow your head off curry but it is well spiced, creamy and you can taste the meat.

Adapted from

For Marinate:
Lamb: 700g
Turmeric Powder : 1/4 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 2 tsp or to your spice level
Coriander Powder : 2 tsp
Salt to taste

For Gravy :
Shallots /Small Red Onions : 1/4 cup (finely,sliced)
Dried Whole Red Chillies : 2-3 Broken into two pieces
Mustard Seeds : 1 tsp
Curry Leaves : few
Yellow Chillies : 4 - 6 or to your spice level (slit, lengthwise), I used the chillies I got from Wiltshire Chilli Farm. Spicy with fruity note, absolute delicious
Onion : 1 large (finely, sliced)
Tomatoes : 6 (medium, sliced), I used cherry as I had them in the fridge
Ginger : 1 tbsp (chopped)
Garlic : 1 tbsp (chopped)
Thin coconut milk: 1 tin
Thick Coconut milk: 1 tin
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder : 2 tsp
Red chilli powder : 1 tsp
Garam masala powder : 3 tsp
3 - 4 large new potatoes, cut into cubes

Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and when it starts to splutter, add sliced shallots, curry leaves, dried red chillies, chopped ginger, garlic and saute for couple of minutes. Add chopped onion, chillies, saute till onions turn translucent and light brown. Add the marinated lamb pieces and potatoes, salt to taste and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
Mix turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala into some of the coconut milk and mix well. Pour in spiced coconut milk into lamb and adjust the salt. Lower heat and simmer gently till lamb is cooked and gravy has thickened, about 30 minutes. Pour in the coconut cream and stir gently and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with plain or turmeric rice.

Colourful ingredients 

Served with cucumber raita made with sour cream and tumeric rice

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Food diary w/c 8th April

Busy busy busy this week. I havent stopped and I am heading towards a busy weekend too. We are off to Cornwall where Kat's mum has a house by the beach and I can't wait. So with a busy week ahead, this week's menu has to be simple, quick and delicious! Somehow I miscounted the week and only bought enough ingredients for the first three days, baby brain still! So I resort to my trustworthy freezer, so Thursday and Friday meals are freezer meals so I won't include them in this week's post. Have you ever been to the supermarket and seen something and thought 'ooh that would be good to have in the freezer' and then never use it. I have just visited the freezer and if I really want to, I can live the whole of next week out of my freezer. It ain't going to happen though :)

Monday - Asian steam salmon with ginger and soy, stir fried baby gem lettuce
Tuesday - Venison stroganoff with wild and chestnut mushrooms, brown rice
Wednesday - Pork udon noodles in XO sauce
Thursday - Fish soup, garlic bread
Friday - Meatballs melt


Asian steam salmon with ginger and soy, stir fried baby gem lettuce

I make this dish a lot. It is easy and quick as it is done in the microwave. Normally you use baby gem in salad but stir frying them is delicious as it is crunchy, juicy and holds the sauce really well. The other lettuce you can use are iceberg or romaine. My mum has always done lettuce this way at home and it is really refreshing. If you have a metal wok, they taste even better as it gives it a smoky taste when you get the wok very hot.

2 salmon fillets
A small knob of ginger, thinly julienned
1 spring onions thinly julienned
a handful of roughly chopped coriander
Sauce - Mix 2 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a dash of Shaoshing wine
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil

Put the fillets in a microwavable dish, sprinkle with ginger and cover with clingfilm. Put in the microwave for 1 minute, then pour in the sauce and put the spring onions and coriander on top. Don't worry that it covers the fish. Cover and cook for another 2 minutes or until your salmon is just cooked. Don't nuke it! In a pan, heat the oils until it is smoking, pour onto the fish (it will sizzle). Serve hot with rice.

With the vegetables, heat oil and add chopped 2 cloves of garlic, add the lettuce, about a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a dash of water and stir fry till the lettuce just goes limp on the edges. They will still be crunchy. Don't over cook.


Venison stroganoff with wild and chestnut mushrooms, brown rice

Hmmm not the best presentation in the world, rather brown looking I must admit! But I assure you that it is delicious. Perfect for cold rainy evenings.

1 pack of diced venison (I got mine from Morrisons) think its about 250g
1 pack of chestnut mushrooms
A handful of dry wild mushrooms soaked in a cup of hot water
1 onion sliced
1 tablespoon of redcurrant jelly
1 tsp of paprika + some for the flour mixture
flour to coat the meat
salt and pepper
sour cream

First, season some flour with salt, pepper and paprika. Coat the meat in the mixture and dust off excess flour. Heat some oil in the pan and brown the meat. Once browned take the meat out and fry the onions until soft. Some of the flour will stick to the pan, don't worry about this. It will come off and thicken the sauce nicely after. Add mushrooms and fry till slightly soften, tip in the meat, the wild mushrooms and the water it was soaking in. Add more water if it is too dry, just enough to cover the meat, paprika, redcurrant jelly and season well with salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for 1/2 hour - 40 minutes till meat is tender. Add sour cream right before serving and adjust seasoning if necessary. You can serve it with rice or pasta.


Pork udon noodles in XO sauce

XO sauce is one of the most expensive sauce to make as its main ingredient is scallops. If you go to a Chinese restaurant, they have various dishes made with this particular sauce. Developed in the 1980s in Hong Kong for Cantonese cuisine, it is made of roughly chopped dried seafoods, including scallops, dried fish and shrimp, and subsequently cooked with chili peppers, onions, and garlic. Spring Moon, the Peninsula Hong Kong's Chinese restaurant is often credited with the invention of XO sauce, although others claim the sauce's origin in the urban area of Kowloon.

Thankfully in the world of consumerism, we do not have to make this sauce, it comes in a jar and you can buy it in any good Chinese supermarket. Not sure how much scallop is in it but it tastes good. Same principle of oyster sauce, I suppose!
My favourite dish from the Watersky restaurant in Bristol is its fried seafood udon in XO sauce. The sauce is pungent, slightly sweet and delicately spicy which goes really well with seafood. Unfortunately I didn't have any seafood so I decided to try it with pork instead.

150g pork loin sliced thinly, marinated in a dash of soy & cornflour at room temperature
1 onion sliced
1 pepper sliced
A handful of mangetout and asparagus
2 packs of Udon noodles
Dash of water
2 tablepsoon on XO sauce
1 tablespoon of Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) - optional. This is to add spiciness and colour.

Heat oil in pan and fry the onions and peppers on a high heat so that it is slightly charred. You can achieve this best in an iron wok to give it a smoky taste. If not a frying pan is fine. Add pork and cook for a further 2 minutes. Tip in the noodles. The noodles will have a stiff texture when they come out of a packet so you need to add a dash of water to soften it. Add the vegetables, XO sauce and gochujang. Fry until well incorporated. Make sure you have your wok on high heat and work fast. The XO sauce is quite salty so I didn't add any other seasoning but you can always add some seasoning if necessary.

Happy Cooking x

Friday, 5 April 2013

Food diary of a greedy foodie mother - Thursday 4th and Friday 5th

Ahh the end of the week! I have done loads of walks this week and I can fit into my pre pregnancy jeans. Woohoo! I love Friday even though I am on maternity leave. There is a sense of 'let's party' feel to it, although this is further from the truth given I am sat here listening to my monster crying as she refuses to sleep!! I have sent my husband up there to deal with the stubborn child while I have to do something to take my mind off the lovely aroma coming from the kitchen. I am having a glass of wine!

I have stuck to my week's menu although I am usually known to deviate from the plan somewhat. So here is the rest of this week's recipes.

Thursday - Steamed pork with shitake and wood ear mushrooms with ginger, stir fry vegetables

1/3 pork loin, sliced thinly (I sliced the other 2/3 and freeze them for future meals) marinated with below:

1 knob of ginger, sliced thinly then julienned
1 tablespoon of cornflour
1 1/2 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tsp of sugar
4/5 pieces of small wood ear mushrooms and a handful of shitake mushrooms soaked in water for at least an hour, boiled in water for 1/2 hour to soften, drained and left to cool
Selection of snow peas, green beans and asparagus
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

Add the mushrooms to the pork and marinate at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour in a shallow dish. The meat and mushrooms take on more of the flavour of the marinate if left at room temperature. When you are ready steam the pork for 20 minutes.

A way of ensuring the vegetables are stir fry evenly and the chefs in Chinese restaurants do it. Boil some water and add the vegetables in order of how long they take to cook (i.e. the hardest ones first). You only have to use one pan. So in this case, put green beans into the water for 3 minutes, then add snow peas for 1 minute then asparagus for another 1 minute. Some chef on TV called it vegetables 5,4,3,2,1; I call it common sense. Drain the vegetables and set aside. Put rice on. Heat the wok with some oil, add garlic and fry for 30 seconds, tip the vegetables in the wok and add oyster sauce, toss for 1 minute to heat through. Voila, perfect stir fried vegetables everytime.

Serve pork and vegetables with rice. The pork, rice and vegetables can all be done in advance.

Friday - Smoked haddock risotto with asparagus and poached egg
I have to admit I didn't cook this as my husband Andrew is the risotto expert. I was busy being milked by my daughter.

1 undyed smoked haddock fillet
1 bay leaf
200g risotto rice
1 1/2 litre chicken/veg or fish stock
1 onion, diced
1/2 glass of white wine
Bunch of asparagus, sliced diagonally
A handful of peas
Olive oil + a knob of butter
Wedges of lemon (optional)
2 eggs (optional)

Cover the haddock with milk, add a bay leaf and poach in a pan for about 10 minutes. I did it the day before. Wait for the fish to cool slightly and flake it. Discard the skin and retain the milk. Fry onions in a pan with some olive oil and butter until translucent, add rice and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Stir often to avoid rice sticking to the pan. Pour the wine in, stir for a minute and then gradually add the stock and some of the flavoured milk till the rice is al dente. Stir in asparagus, peas and haddock. Make sure the asparagus and peas are cooked which take only 1 minute or two and the haddock warmed through. If the rice is too dry, add more stock to loosen it. Keep warm while you poach the eggs. Just before you eat, squeeze a wedge of lemon onto the risotto.

Happy cooking and have a lovely weekend x

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Food diary of a greedy foodie mother - Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd April

Diet started well but as soon as I started my diet Alexa was sleeping badly had a cold and cough, diarrhoea and started teething. Being a first time mum I thought it was because I didn't eat enough calories for breastfeeding so I gave up as soon as I started. Coincidence maybe but I think it is good enough excuse don't you think ;) As my husband is still on a diet, I had to cook food with lower calories but it is a challenge being a mum to my high maintenance daughter and being creative at the same time. I refuse to eat plain food, in fact I am pretty sure I was not born to do it. My father in law said that I am a bit pretentious with my food, cheeky bugger! What can I say, I love food.

To achieve this I need planning. I plan what to cook so I hit the supermarket like a hurricane whilst hoping Alexa will stay quiet! So I browse the internet normally when I am sat feeding in the middle of the night! Not recommended as it does make you very hungry! Or I will look at magazines or through my extensive collection of recipe books! What I do is I look for ideas rather than recipes. I tend to make it up as I go along. After that I would write down what I am cooking everyday after foraging in the fridge for leftovers and then write down all other ingredients I need to get.  I also tend to make dishes using the same ingredients as much as possible to avoid wastage. I do a Monday to Friday plan only as we tend to get a bit wild at the weekend. I hope this food diary will help those who has limited time but want to enjoy healthy meals. I do the planning so you don't have to ;)

This week's menu is as follows
Monday - Easter BH so we gorge on chocolates!
Tuesday - Supermarket day (supposed to be yesterday) Spicy sweet potato soup, cumin oil
Wednesday - Roasted vegetable salad with grilled chicken, bulgar wheat and feta
Thursday - Steamed pork with shitake and wood ear mushrooms, ginger, stir fry vegetables and brown rice
Friday - Smoked haddock risotto with asparagus and poached egg

Tuesday 2nd April
Spicy sweet potato soup, cumin oil

3 - 4 medium sweet potatoes
A pinch of dried chilli flakes ( you can use fresh chillies as well)
1 onion
Chicken stock
Pinch of cumin seeds gently fried in olive oil, leave to infuse
Greek yoghurt (optional as it was leftover in the fridge)

Cut the sweet potatoes into small cubes and the onion into quarters. Season with a pinch of chilli flakes and some olive oil and roast in the oven for 1/2 hour. Remove from oven, transfer to a pan, cover with chicken stock, bring to boil and then blend into a smooth soup. Season to taste. Serve with cumin oil, greek yoghurt and crusty bread with loads of butter

Wednesday 3rd April
Roasted vegetables salad with grilled chicken, bulgar wheat and feta
1 chicken breast, flatten or beaten within an inch of its life between two pieces of cling film, seasoned with salt and pepper
Feta cheese, diced
2 peppers, 1 red and 1 yellow to give colour
1 courgette
3 cloves of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary
2 parsnips
2 sweet potatoes
Little gem lettuce
Bulgar wheat or cous cous, cooked in a bit of stock (leftover from a few dinners before)
Olive oil

Roast all the vegetables ( I did it at the same time I did the soup the day before to save on time and energy) apart from the little gem and rocket. Grill chicken for 3-4 minutes. Combine roasted vegetables, rocket, lettuce, bulgar wheat and feta cheese in a bowl, add lashings of olive oil, season then top with the sliced grilled chicken.

For Thursday and Friday recipes, it will be published on Friday unless my little monster plays up :). Happy cooking!