Quick Chickpea Curry

I’ve got 2 Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and a packet of Minstrels in the fridge and I’m feeling guilty so thought I’d knock up a healthy veggie curry for lunch that could double up as one of my weekday packed lunches leaving enough sauce to spare to make something quick and spicy for tea in the week – multi tasking food, you see that?  What more do you want? Anyway by my wonderful diet logic if I eat one healthy meal that means I can deffo have eaten at least one of those creme eggs by the end of the day, it’s a simple balanced equation right?

This curry is quick and simple to knock up and is pretty much made with store cupboard ingredients, in fact if you don’t have chickpeas, a tin of beans, some lentils or whatever veggies you have lurking about in your fridge would all make welcome additions to this spicy sauce.

So here we go…

Serves 2 with left over sauce for another meal in the week

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of medium curry powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of garam masala
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • A dessert spoonful of mango chutney
  • 1 tin of coconut milk (I used half fat – cus this is like diet food innit)
  • 1 tin of chickpeas

Method:

Soften the onions in a pot with a tablespoon of oil until translucent, add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or two.  Add the spices and let them fry for a further minute then add the tomatoes and let it bubble down for about 5 minutes, stirring now and then to prevent it from catching.  Add the chutney, salt and  coconut milk, then blitz with a hand blender (or in a machine), return to the heat and bring to the simmer.  This is where you can now syphon off half the sauce and stash in the fridge or freezer until a later date. Now add the drained and rinsed chick peas to the pot.  Simmer the chickpeas for a further couple of minutes until everything is heated through then serve.  I served mine with a gluten free pitta for lunch and I’ll be having the other portion for lunch on Monday with a bit of tonight’s left over roast chicken dinner stirred in, I love a bit of leftovers don’t you?

Lemon and Ginger Punch

I was going to entitle this drink ‘Hard Lemonade’ because I had drunk one of said drinks at Pitt Cue Co earlier in the week and it was so delicious I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I had a couple of experiments with gin and lemons yesterday and made a pretty decent drink glass by glass but I wanted something I could get ready ahead of time and just pour when the urge took me and so this punch was born. Also after spending most of half term coughing, spluttering and blowing my nose I thought a nice lemon and honey drink was in order as it is medicinal isn’t it?!

It’s a light, refreshing and restorative little tipple that works well chilled over ice.  You could easily add gin or vodka to this but when I remembered I had this gingerbread rum leftover from Christmas it seemed to be fate.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lemons
  • 1 nugget of stem ginger
  • 1 dessert spoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • a slug of syrup from the stem ginger jar
  • about 3/4 pint of water
  • gingerbread rum or booze of your choice

Method:

Zest and juice 4 lemons into a jug, grate in the ginger and then stir in all the other ingredients and top up with water.  Add your glug of rum about 4/6 shots (?).  Chill the drink in the fridge for an hour or so and serve over ice.

Spiced Squash and Satay Noodles

It’s Autumn, we are approaching Halloween, it’s time, isn’t it? Cue the squash recipe…

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Half a large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 and 1/2 cm dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of ground coriander and ground cumin
  • oil
  • half an onion
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a can of coconut milk
  • A heaped tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter
  • A tablespoon and a half of sweet chilli sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Juice from half a lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flat rice noodles
  • A handful of spinach

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to about 220 degrees.  Chuck the chopped squash into a baking tray lightly coat in oil and sprinkle with the cumin and coriander, toss to coat then shove in the oven for about 15 min until slightly charred and tender.

Blitz the onion, ginger and garlic in a mini food processor ( or finely chop) then soften in the microwave (in a covered bowl) for a couple of minutes, alternative fry on low until soft and translucent.  Transfer onion mix to small sauce pan and begin to fry (add fresh chilli here if you like it hot), add curry powder, fry off for a min then add peanut butter, coconut milk, sweet chilli and stir until combined.  Add soy and lime, bring to the bubble, taste and adjust ingredients to suit.  Set aside whilst you prep the noodles.

Soak your rice noodles in boiled water until tender (I usually keep changing the water, about 3 times, in between 2 min soaks so that I’m not hanging around too long and the noodles stay hot as well as soft.  Once the noodles are ready, drain and toss with the spinach.  Boil up sauce and add half to the mix, stir together, mix in half the roasted squash and plate up.  Top with the remaining and most beautifully charred squash, maybe a few crushed peanuts and some chopped coriander (miss out the last 2 steps if you are like me and can’t be arsed with faffing around when you are hungry).

Tip:  If you don’t have a use for the remaining half a tin of coconut milk, half an onion (aka the awkward leftovers) double up the sauce recipe and freeze some for the next time you feel satay inclined, I’m not actually sure why I didn’t do this, oops…

Carrot, Apple and Ginger Loaf (gluten free)

Well hello there.  No more apologies, I’m just slack ok? ...and, well, I do have a quite demanding day job too, so yeah… let’s just leave it there.

This is the perfect cake for cool, blustery, drizzly days, it warms you, settles you and is practically a health food (ok it is a cake).  I was a bit poorly yesterday and was researching looking up all things ginger on the internet in search of something to settle my stomach.  However I was a bit too sick to actually get up off my arse and cook something so, today, feeling better, having done some work (got to get that in there!), I felt it was time to experiment a little in the kitchen again. I’m a big fan of this combination of flavours in a juice, but after ordering one of those juicing contraptions a couple of  years ago (well, actually I bought one twice, once when I was a teenager, insisting it would be used every day and I would clean it meticulously, in fact I think it’s still in my parent’s cupboard, coated in dried up vegetable mush) I hastily sent the second one back after switching it on and realising it sounded like a Mitsubishi motorbike revving in our kitchen, not necessarily what you want as your invigorating wake up call of a morning.  Anyways cake is much better isn’t it, juice is for namby pamby health freaks, cake however is a health food of the more sophisticated mind, you have to think about it a bit harder, but yes, it is good for you in so many other ways.

Right enough of this clap trap, onto the cake.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small apples, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 3 nuggets of stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 6oz of gf self raising flour
  • 6oz of butter
  • 6oz of caster sugar
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 3 eggs

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree (fan) or 200.  Grease and line a loaf tin.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (nuke a little if solid from the fridge).  Add the eggs, one by one, and beat in.  Add flour, stir.  Add ground ginger, apples, carrots and chopped up stem ginger and mix (try to sprinkle the stem ginger around the bowl a bit to stop it clumping together).  Turn mix into loaf tin and bake for about an hour (or until a knife comes out clean). Serve however you bloody fancy, I’ve already tucked into mine warm from the oven – it’s good.

Aubergine Curry with Gram Flour Flat Breads

I was pretty surprised at just how delicious this curry was.  I cooked it without any oil, just a little of that spray light and it worked really well, it also means it’s practically fat free and good for the diet (zzzzzz).  I think the secret is the grilling of the whole aubergine until charred and smoky and then using the scooped out flesh.  I’ve made the flat breads before, they are kind of a mix between socca and dosas in that they utilise the basic concept of the socca recipe, gram flour, water and seasoning, yet I make them like a dosa style pancake.

Aubergine Curry with Gram Flour Flat Breads and Cottage Cheese (yeah that's right, COTTAGE CHEESE!)

Oh yeah and I served it up with some cottage cheese, now I know I’m going to sound a little like a diet obsessed freak here but it worked really well, almost like a creamier yoghurt type substitute with a bit more body and the cool, soft cheese provided the perfect partner to this spiced aubergine and made a change from the more traditional yoghurt.  In fact I read somewhere someone talking about how cottage cheese was pretty much the same as ricotta and although sadly underrated made a much cheaper alternative.  Right enough said, it’s alright you know!

Serves 1 or 2 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 smallish onion
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and de-seeded
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • an inch of ginger
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of mild curry powder
  • salt
  • Spray light (or if you are not watching your waistline they go ahead pour a load of yummy oil in the pan *evil eyes*)

Method:

Turn your grill on.  Whack your aubergine under the grill and turn every few minutes until it is charred and saggy.  Set aside.

Slice your onion and soften in the microwave with a splash of water, ie put in bowl, splash with water and cover with a plate, I normally put it in on high for about 3 minutes.

Finely chop your garlic and ginger with some salt.  Heat a small frying pan and spray with oil.  Add your softened onions and ginger and garlic and fry until slightly browned.  Add the curry powder and fry for 30 seconds.  Add the roughly chopped tomatoes and fry for another min.  Scoop out the innards of the aubergine and add to the pan.  Stir and season to taste.

Serve with the flat breads, see recipe here, some cottage cheese and maybe a bit of mango chutney.  I serve it all separately but it would make a great wrap if you were wanting a fajita vibe.

Duck Breasts with Orange and Ginger Carrots

I’m typing in pain, during the making of this delicious dish I was a complete eejit and managed to burn myself with boiling hot duck fat.  Lets just say when draining hot fat out of a pan do not attempt to hold the dish you are pouring into in your hand, particularly if it is glass, as said glass dish could break in your hands sending boiling hot fat everywhere.  Lesson learnt. Hand burnt.

I bought duck breasts because I saw them reduced in the local supermarket and thought I might be able to knock up something oriental inspired to make up for the lack of Chinese takeaway deliveries to this flat lately.  My finger is still burning and typing seems to be aggravating this so I keep it short.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, sliced into fine julienne
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 inch of ginger, chopped
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, chopped
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of orange
  • good slosh or two of soy sauce ( I used Tamari, gf)
  • 2 dessert spoonfuls of agave syrup, or sugar
  • 2 duck breasts

Method:

Prepare all your veg and set to one side.  Score the duck skin in a criss cross pattern, and salt.  Heat a frying pan.  Place duck breasts skin side down in hot, dry pan.  Fry for about 5 min on skin side and 3 on other side, depending on size, this should ensure a crispy skin and a pink middle.

Take the breasts out of the pan and rest on a board.  Drain off fat bar about a teaspoonful (you can use this for frying potatoes in at another time).  See cautionary tale above for tips on how to be a complete butter fingers and burn yourself.  Add ginger and garlic to the pan, stir fry for a minute.  Add the carrots, spring onions, soy, orange juice and zest.  Stir fry for a couple of minutes.  Add syrup or sugar and stir letting it bubble up into a sticky coating.  Pile a heap of carrots onto each plate, slice duck diagonally and place on top.  Serve.