Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I really think I might have a sweet potato addiction. Every Sunday I start thinking about what meal I could make myself to take in to work for lunch the coming week and without fail I will circle back around to something sweet potato related – salads, pastas, stews, curries, chillis; if you can put sweet potato in it, I will put sweet potato on it. Continue reading “Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi”

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Recipe: Halloumi salad with sweet potato croutons

Can you really claim a salad is a recipe? When it comes down to it it’s just some ingredients mixed together in a bowl. Although at its basic level isn’t all food is just ingredients mixed together in a bowl? And this has got very deep very quickly. Continue reading “Recipe: Halloumi salad with sweet potato croutons”

Recipe: Make-ahead satay noodles

For the past four weeks I have had a sausage roll with salad for lunch at work every day. Every single day. For four weeks.

But I do this with food. I go through a period where I can eat endless amounts of one meal and never get even slightly bored. And then one day I’ll wake up and just won’t fancy it any more.

The granola phase for example Continue reading “Recipe: Make-ahead satay noodles”

Recipe: Sweet potato curry

This recipe is an absolutely godsend for lazy winter evenings. It’s warming, cheap and you can chuck it all in a pot and forget about it for an hour to return to something truly amazing. Sticky and sweet and comforting and filling.

This is an adapted version of a recipe from Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook. One that we ate so much at university that the page in the recipe book is completely destroyed from the amount we had it open, exposed to splashes and burns. You can just about make out the list of ingredients but the method is beyond help. So before I forget it completely I thought I ought to chronicle it here.

I have adapted to recipe to suit the things I can buy in my local Sainsbury’s. A shop which stocks four different kinds of baked beans but no chickpeas. Any manner of fresh herbs but no spinach. And nothing in the way of curry paste, coconut milk or almonds. But all of those things would make delicious additions.

And as with all Indian meals you’ve got the wonderful choice of naan bread, chapattis, rice or poppadoms to enjoy it with or you could add potatoes to the curry itself. I tried to make my own chapattis which wasn’t an unqualified success and I won’t be including the recipe.

Serves two, takes an hour.

Ingredients

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

Cooking oil

Thumb size piece of ginger

1 large sweet potato

1 large carrot

250ml korma curry sauce

1-2 tbsp mango chutney (depending how much sweetness you like)

1 tbsp tomato puree

250ml chicken or vegetable stock

1 large bunch of fresh coriander, chopped.

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cut the onion into small pieces, finely chop the garlic clove and once hot add to the pan and cook until the onion softens.

Finely chop the ginger and add to the saucepan.

Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrot into even sized chunks and add to the saucepan to lightly fry for five minutes.

Add the curry sauce, mango chutney, tomato puree, 200ml of the stock and half the chopped coriander. Stir to combine and leave to simmer without a lid for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. If it starts to dry out add the remaining stock.

Serve with the naan, poppadoms, chapattis or rice, sprinkled with the remaining coriander.

Recipe: Store cupboard pasta bake

I eat a pasta bake for dinner at least once a week. Usually it’s that day when I was supposed to go to the shop on the way home but couldn’t actually be bothered because it was drizzling and my legs hurt and I just wanted to put my feet up and eat something unhealthy and covered in cheese.  And although this might feel like the unhealthiest thing you could eat you can cram a lot of your five a day into a pasta bake.

This recipe is one that I have been in love with since I was eleven and it was first cooked for me by my dad. I believe my response was something along the lines of ‘extremely, extraordinarily delicious.’ Twelve years on and I’m still cooking it although I’ve veered quite a lot from the original because nowadays basil is a luxury I can ill afford. It’s still in the recipe but you won’t lose much by not including it.

You could kid yourself and serve it with a salad. Usually I eat a raw carrot while I’m cooking which has much the same effect.


Serves two, takes about 20 minutes.

Ingredients

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips

1 red pepper cut into thin strips

1 tsp sugar

175g penne pasta

500g tin chopped tomatoes

75g cream cheese (or cream, crème fraiche, whatever you’ve got in the fridge)

Salt and pepper

Small bunch of fresh basil

100g grated or sliced cheese (ideally mozzarella but any cheese that melts will work)

Method

Preheat the grill.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot add the onion.

When the onion is softened add the pepper and sugar and turn the heat up to high.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water, according to pack instructions.

Once the onion and peppers have browned and caramelised add the garlic and fry for one minute, then add the cream cheese, tinned tomatoes and seasoning to taste. Stir until the sauce turns pink and simmer over a low heat until the pasta is ready.

Tear the basil leaves into the sauce and mix in the pasta. Then transfer to an ovenproof dish, top with the cheese and place under the grill for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Recipe: Red cabbage and sausage meat hash


The word hash just does not sound appetising, does it? It sounds like a lot of things thrown together in a pan in a big rush which you then have to force yourself to eat. But I can’t think of another word to describe this. In its defence though it is very tasty and a real wintery kind of dinner.

A few weeks ago I got a craving for red cabbage. So I bought one, made a red cabbage coleslaw and then was left with half a red cabbage cluttering up my fridge. So I invented this meal which turned out to be actually quite delicious and I will definitely be having it again.

The reason it has sausage meat in it was because I’d already got sausages out to defrost but any kind of mince would work just as well.

I should also point out that when you cook an egg on top of red cabbage it causes some kind of crazy chemical reaction and the edges of the egg will turn blue. And not just any shade of blue – electric blue. Not a colour that screams ‘eat me.’ But I did and it’s over a week later and I’m still alive so clearly nothing to worry about.

 Serves two, takes 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 large potato

1 tbsp cooking oil

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

Half a red cabbage

Meat from 3 sausages (or 250g of mince)

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

2 eggs

Method

Preheat the grill.

Peel and chop the potato into even sized pieces, then put in a large pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Once it starts boiling turn off the heat and drain.

Put the oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Finely slice the onion, garlic and red cabbage and add to the pan, frying until the onion and cabbage start to soften (about 10 minutes).

Add the sausage meat to the pan and fry until browned.

Add the chunks of boiled potato and the mixed herbs and continue to fry for five minutes.

Crack the two eggs onto the top and place the frying pan under the grill until the eggs are cooked (about 5 minutes), then serve.

Sweetcorn fritters and fennel seed coleslaw

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I had it in my head that sweetcorn fritters were a deep south of America kind of thing that should be eaten while drinking iced tea, listening to blues and saying ‘y’all’ in a cringy attempt at an southern accent. But I spent a month in America and came across these nowhere. Which was a bit of a disappointment but hasn’t stopped me loving them.

The coleslaw I pretty much made up to satisfy a craving for red cabbage (I know, really weird) with random stuff I had in the cupboard. But unlike so many of my more experimental recipes it actually makes a delicious combination.

The fritters and coleslaw on their own are just the right size for a lunch or light dinner but add some fried chicken and you’ve got a proper meal. I just don’t really cook meat for myself very often.

Serves 2 (2 fritters each)

Ingredients for the fritters

1 small onion

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoon cooking oil

2 eggs

4 tablespoons milk

75g self-raising flour

184g tin sweetcorn

Salt and pepper

Hot sauce to serve

Ingredients for the coleslaw

Half a small red cabbage

Two carrots

Small bunch of parsley

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

Splash balsamic vinegar

Method

Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry until soft with 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs, milk and flour into a smooth batter. Mix in the sweetcorn, onions, garlic and seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 50°C.

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and once the oil is hot add a ladle of batter. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Remove from the pan, wrap in foil and put in the oven to keep warm. Repeat until you run out of batter.

While the fritters are frying make the coleslaw. Peel the carrot and then use the vegetable peeler to make thin ribbons.

Finely slice the red cabbage, chop the parsley and mix together with the carrot, fennel seeds, olive oil, honey and vinegar.

Serve with hot sauce, iced tea and a Creedance Clearwater Revival CD, preferably on a ranch in Louisiana.

Recipe: Sweet potato and butternut squash filo pie

Imagine for a moment that you are the kind of person who on a summer’s day gets up early, cooks a variety of incredibly fancy food, packs it into a traditional wicker hamper and takes your family out for a picnic. It’s probably eaten sat on a checked blanket. Off proper crockery. And fed to children with names like Caspian and Seraphina. And alongside your smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches and homemade scotch eggs this pie would not look out of place.

I say this but I cooked it in my greasy, hasn’t-been-properly-clean-since-we-moved-in, always-has-a-pile-of-dirty-washing­-up-next-to-the-sink kitchen and then ate off my lap in front of the telly. And the day after I ate chicken nuggets, chips and spaghetti hoops for dinner. So it may look, sound and taste fancy but it’s deceptively easy.

A note on feta cheese; do not go all cheap-skate when you’re in the supermarket and buy innocuous ‘Greek salad cheese.’ It is not the same. For one thing it doesn’t melt so you just end up with lumps of it in your mash and secondly I think it might actually have been halloumi. So go crazy and splash out that extra 50p on the good stuff, it is worth it.

Insisting that you use precisely 400g each of sweet potato and butternut squash is a little impractical. They do not come in nice easy sizes like that. So what I suggest you do is buy more than you need, cook and mash it all and then freeze what you don’t want today for another time. It freezes really well and can be defrosted in the microwave in ten minutes (depending on how large a quantity you have of course).

Serves 4, takes just under an hour, makes a medium amount of washing up (my highest priority when I’m cooking is minimising washing up).

 

Ingredients

400g butternut squash

400g sweet potato

1 tbsp cooking oil

1 clove garlic

100g pine nuts

Salt and pepper

2 tsp oregano

150g feta cheese

12 sheets filo pastry

1 tbsp olive oil

 

Method

Peel and chop the sweet potato and peel, chop and core the butternut squash, cutting both into 2cm cubes.

Boil in pan of salted water for 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Finely chop the garlic.

Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and pine nuts. Toast for 5 minutes.

When soft, drain and mash the sweet potato and butternut squash.

Crumble the feta into the mash, mix in the pine nuts and garlic and season with the salt, pepper and 1 tsp of the oregano.

Spread 4 sheets of the filo pastry on the base of an oven proof dish so that they overlap each other. Brush with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of oregano. Repeat with a second and third layer of 4 filo sheets (don’t worry if they tear, it’s almost impossible for them not to).

Dollop the mash into the middle of the filo sheets and then gather up the edges of the pastry and fold them over the top.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and crispy.

Serve with a green salad.

Recipe: My go to dinner

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You know those meals that just taste unhealthy? This is one of them. But the magical part is that it’s not. At all. Unless you call one tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt unhealthy in which case – what on earth DO you eat?

Not only is this meal healthy, it’s also easy, cheap and delicious. Sound too good to be true? Ok, I admit it is a little. The pay off is that it’s not particularly quick to cook. It takes about half an hour and you do need to be in kitchen all that time. But you can do something else at the same time easily enough; it just needs stirring every now and then.

Whenever I’m cooking just for me this is my go to recipe. I would happily eat it twice a week. I can’t explain why it’s so good – it’s only egg fried vegetable rice – but it just works. I think it’s something to do with the saltiness of the rice and the sweetness of the caramelised onion. It might seem excessive to put the vegetables on so early but cooking them for longer over a lower heat is really worth it.

You can vary it to your tastes too using pretty much any vegetables you want. Broccoli, baby sweetcorn and pak choi (if you’re feeling fancy) have all been tried, tested and approved. If you want it spicy you could add a red chilli to the veg halfway through cooking. Or a sprinkling of cumin in with the onions works really well. But the recipe I’m giving you is with the most store cupboard basics.

Serves 1

Ingredients

75g brown rice

Pinch of salt

1 brown onion

1 small clove of garlic

1 tbsp cooking oil

1 carrot

Half a red pepper

1 egg

Method

Put the rice in a saucepan of boiling water with a pinch of salt, cover and leave to simmer for half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop up the onion into reasonably small pieces. Crush the garlic.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over a low heat.

Add the onion and garlic.

Cut up the carrot and add to the frying pan.

Cut up the red pepper and add.

Continue to stir the vegetables every now and then. If the onion starts to burn rather than caramelise then turn the heat down.

Stir the rice occasionally too, making sure it isn’t sticking and top up with water if it starts to boil dry.

Once the rice has had half an hour check to make sure it’s cooked then turn off.

Beat the egg and add to the frying pan, stirring vigorously until it scrambles.

Drain the rice, mix into the vegetables until everything is coated in the egg and serve.