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: A hugely inauthentic Mexican brunch

I feel a bit of a fraud calling this a recipe because it’s not really a recipe – it’s just three things that happen to go really well together. Poaching an egg does not require a recipe (and if it did I should be the last one to provide one as they are my cooking kryptonite), guacamole can be store bought and sweetcorn fritters already have a recipe from a previous post of mine. Continue reading “Recipe: A hugely inauthentic Mexican brunch”

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: Freeze-ahead mixed bean burrito

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I am about as far from being a morning person as anyone you will ever meet. It’s not that I don’t function in the mornings, I just can’t wake up. So I like to set my alarm as late as physically possible. If I have to be out the house at 8.30 my alarm goes off at 8.15. And obviously this leaves me very little time to make my lunch in the mornings.

Enter the freeze-ahead mixed bean burrito.

These are seriously a god sent when I’m working. Just get one out the freezer the night before, zap it for two minutes in the microwave at lunchtime and you’ve got a plate of cheesy nutritious deliciousness. And not only are they easy and healthy but they’re also pretty cheap. And flexible. You can add whatever you fancy – courgette, tinned tomatoes, chilli powder, replace the rice with quinoa – the world is your oyster.

The trickiest part is actually wrapping the burritos. The bigger the tortilla the easier apparently. I watched numerous YouTube videos on how to professionally wrap a burrito (I know, I know, what is my life) and the consensus seems to be don’t overfill. You see that picture at the top? Less than that. That one did not end well.

Makes 8 

Ingredients

80g brown rice

1 tbsp cooking oil

2 onions

1 large clove of garlic

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 tin red kidney beans

2 tins sweetcorn

1 tin mixed beans

150g grated cheese

8 large tortillas

Method

Put the rice and a pinch of salt in a large pan of boiling water and cook for 30 minutes or according to pack instructions.

Chop up the onion and garlic and fry in a saucepan with the tablespoon of oil until softened.

Add the cumin to the onions and continue to fry until lightly browned.

Drain the tins of beans and add to the onions for another five minutes cooking.

When the rice is done mix in with the onions and beans and leave to cool.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Spread a spoonful of the bean and rice mixture onto the tortilla, top with a handful of grated cheese and roll up in foil.

These can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. When you’re ready to eat one take it out the freezer the night before and leave to thaw in the fridge then heat for two minutes in the microwave.

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.

Recipe: Bean Lasagne

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This was a staple meal while we were at university. It was eaten probably every other week, at least. It’s easier than regular lasagne because you don’t have to deal with cooking the mince and makes a nice change too.

In our local supermarket you can buy red kidney beans in a tomato chilli sauce which saves a bit of hassle. If you can’t find that then it would be easy enough to make a tomato chilli sauce – a tin of chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, maybe a stock cube.

Serves 4-5 people.

Ingredients

1 tin of baked beans

1 tin of red kidney beans in chilli sauce

1 tin of mixed beans

160g lasagne sheets (about 9 depending on the size of your tin)

50g butter

50g plain flour

1tsp English mustard

1 pint of milk

Salt and pepper

75g grated cheddar

50g grated parmesan

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Drain the mixed beans and mix all the tins together in a jug. Set aside.
  3. Make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour. Mix in the mustard and add the milk a little at a time, making sure it stays smooth. Continue to whisk until the sauce starts to simmer and thickens (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat, season and stir in two tablespoons of the grated cheese.
  4. In a large oven proof dish assemble the lasagne. Spread a little of the bean mixture on the base then cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Spread with a quarter of the béchamel and a third of the bean mixture. Top with another layer of lasagne sheets, another quarter of the béchamel and another third of the bean mixture. Repeat again with a third quarter of béchamel and the rest of the bean mixture. Finish with a final layer of lasagne sheets, the rest of the béchamel and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  5. Cook for 30-35 minutes. Check it occasionally and if it’s getting too brown cover with foil.

Serve with a green salad and garlic bread.