Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Spanish Prawns with Chorizo, Tomatoes and Peppers

This is a really lovely Spanish inspired meal that can be on the table in 20 minutes.

I served it last night with a part-baked ciabatta that I baked and allowed to cool for five minutes before serving, some leftover salad from Sunday with Manchego and a quick garlic mayonaise (just crush a clove of garlic into a couple of tablespoons of mayonaise and a pinch of paprika). This served two of us with some left over, but if served with a couple of plates of other Spanish themed treats, it could easily serve 4. 

1 packet raw prawns
2 cooking chorizo sausages
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 tbsp fresh parsley
Good glug of olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

Firstly add the olive oil to a pan or wok and place on a low heat.

Chop the onion and chilli and crush the garlic add to the pan to gently cook down and flavour the oil.

Slice the peppers and chop the tomatoes in half and add to the pan. Season generously and use a wooden spoon or spatula to move around to evenly coat.

Chop the parsley and set aside for a moment.

Chop the chorizo into little £1 coin sized discs and add to the pan. The chorizo will exude plenty of flavour and oil and mixed with the existing ingredients this will start to form a sauce. Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes until the chorizo is cooked through.

Finally add the prawns to the pan and again move around to ensure even cooking. These will cook in a matter of 2-3 minutes, and you can tell as they will turn pink in colour.

As soon as they are cooked remove from the heat and scatter over the parsley.

Plate up onto a sharing plate or platter and then squeeze over the lemon juice and give a final sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.

A London Lunch: Pork Katsu Sandwich from Zou

Zou is a street food vendor, along Leather Lane among the plethora of street food stalls, towards the Farringdon end and directly opposite the Vietnamese Chef - or at least it is Monday-Friday.

The lunch in question was a pork Katsu sandwich, and was frankly one of the best sandwiches I've ever tried.

The pork katsu, was not dissimilar to a schnitzel; fillet of pork, flattened and coated in panko breadcrumbs and then deep fried. Very greasy and I have to say I did bookmark it for the next time I have a hangover as the stodge from the bread plus the grease seems to be perfect day-after fodder.

The bread itself was like a ciabata roll, generous in size but not unmanageable and very good quality. The pork went on the bottom half of the bread and was then layered with pickled cabbage and a slathering of ginger-infused mayonaise, a condiment that seems to have been sent from the Gods, so good!

This is then smeared with Japanese BBQ sauce, sticky, sweet and with a great tang to it.

Everyone marries together just beautifully and I can say this is one of the best things I've eaten off of Leather Lane in a long time and is a steal at only £5 a pop.

Baby Bites: Carrot and Parsnip Mash

This makes a great puree for when you’re starting out the weaning process, but once your little one can handle lumpier textures, this is such a simple dish to prepare.

If it becomes a little too bland for your little one after they’ve been introduced to some bolder flavours, you can always blitz up some cooked chicken or turkey to go with.

The below makes enough for about 8-10 portions, and freezes really well too. Just pop a tub out on the morning you wish to use and this will be completely defrosted come lunch or dinner time.

Two large carrots

Two large parsnips

Drizzle of olive oil

Firstly bring a pot of water to the boil.

While the water is boiling, peel the carrots and parsnips and chop into equal sized pieces.

Add to the pan once the water has boiled and allow to cook until soft to the touch – about 20 minutes should do it.

Drain away the water and give a good shake to make sure all of the water is drained away.

Add a tiny drizzle of olive oil and mash with a potato masher.

Portion up accordingly and if serving immediately, allow to cool a little first so you don’t burn little one’s mouth.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Baby Bites: Scrambled Egg on Toast

Once baby reaches six months old, you can officially introduce eggs to their diet. These must be cooked thoroughly up until 1 year old though, so no runny eggs.

Scrambled egg on toast has become a favourite with my daughter and when making this, I tend to adhere to Bill Grainger's method and make for my partner too, as I'm not keen on eggs myself. Whilst this produces a rich and creamier scrambled egg that some will be used to, I think this is preferable as an occassional treat, rather than mundane eggs with milk throughout the week. You can of course, replace the cream for milk if you prefer though, but the eggs will be less creamy once cooked. Also do cook slightly longer that Bill does to ensure eggs are completely cooked so baby can tolerate them.

The below makes enough for an adult and a baby sized portion.

Two free range eggs
6 tbsp
Knob of butter
1 small slice of granary bread

Place the knob of butter into a pan on a low heat and allow to melt and pop your bread into the toaster or under the grill.

Crack the eggs into a jug or bowl and whisk up with the cream until the entire mixture is combined.

Place into the pan and allow to sit without touching for 20-30 seconds only.

Use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in the mixture, as if you could when making a cake, lift and fold in all around for a minute.

Allow to sit for another 20 seconds, then repeat the process until all runny bits have combined.

Butter the toast (using unsalted butter or spread) and then soon over some of the scrambled egg,

Baby Bites: Spiced Cod with Sweet Potato

This is a meal I made for Bridget when Glen and I had the grown up equivalent. I thought the flavours might be too strong for her so made her a small portion as an experiment but she absolutely loved it.

The cod has a delicately aromatic flavour from the yoghurt marinade and is another good introduction of bolder flavours in the weaning process. The light spicing is complemented by the sweet potato.

This freezes really well and the below makes enough for 3-4 portions. Allow to cool completely before placing into the freezer and simply remove and defrost on a plate on the morning of the day you need to - it will be defrosted in 3-4 hours. 

Spiced Cod with Sweet Potato

1 fillet of cod approx 150g
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 thumbnail of fresh ginger
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 clove garlic
1/2 lime
1 sweet potato

Firstly pop the oven on at 180 and place the sweet potato in to bake.

Next try to remove any obvious bones from the cod.

Create the marinade by combining the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, lime and spices in a bowl and stirring to evenly distribute all of the flavours.

Pop the cod into the marinade and turn over a couple of times and spoon marinade onto the top to ensure the whole fillet is covered and absorbs the flavour. Leave for 15-20 minutes.

Towards the end of the squash cooking time, place the cod into an oven proof dish and loosely cover with some foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Mash the cooked potato and flake in the fish, portion up accordingly and then allow to cool enough before feeding.

Friday, 15 May 2015

5:2 Diet Creamy Saffron and Paprika Chicken with Vegetables

This is a quick and simple dinner that can be on the table in less than half an hour and for a 5:2 fast day dinner it's a winner. 

Admittedly it means scrimping on food for most of the rest of the day, but I tend to find it easier to have one big meal and then just graze on salad 

Chicken in cream with mushrooms is not unusual, but with the addition of saffron, paprika and sherry plus a host or peppers, chilli and spinach - this makes for a delicious dish with a slightly Spanish influence. 

The below makes enough for two people and it comes in at 421 calories per portion. Serve it simply in a bowl if you are dieting and it still makes for a filling and satisfying meal. If you're hungrier, serve with some crusty bread or some basmati rice. The chicken dish

1 large leek
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
100g mushrooms
2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp sherry
100g creme fraiche
100g spinach leaves

Firstly pour in the olive oil into a pan or a wok and place on a medium heat. 

Slice the leek and chilli and crush the garlic and add to the pan to slowly soften and flavour the oil. 

Chop the peppers and add to the pan. Slice the mushrooms and once the peppers have started to soften, add to the pan for 2-3 minutes, turning with a wooden spoon or spatula to ensure they get the flavour from the oil all over.

Sprinkle in the paprika and stir to distribute. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl for the minute.

Chop the chicken into small, bite sized chunks as evenly as possible and add these to the now empty pan. If it sticks you may need to drizzle in a little extra olive oil. Allow to sear on all sides, again moving around with a wooden utensil and once all sides are whitened, pour over the sherry. This will bubble up quite quickly so reduce the heat and allow to slowly evaporate and in the meantime return the vegetables to the pan.

After a few moments you should be left with a sticky looking slightly browned gravy substance. At this point add the creme fraiche and stir through generously.

Steep a pinch of saffron, only a little is needed, in a tablespoon of boiling water in a small bowl or cup, and then add to the pan and again stir through. Season generously too at this point.

After another five minutes of cooking, add the spinach to the pan - simply place on top of everything else, it will cook from the heat in a couple of minutes and then stir through and remove from the heat and you are ready to dish up.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

5:2 Diet Pork Fillet with Bean Stew and Rice‏

When partaking on the 5:2 diet as I have been on and off for the past few months in an attempt to ditch the baby weight, I have found that the hardest part of fasting days is the boredom.

Sticking to 500 calories two days per week isn't particularly difficult especially with useful tools such as MyFitnessPal to calorie count for you. But coming up with different ways can be the hard part.

This meal was one I devised for a weeknight when I'd had a busy day and needed to feel substantially full on something other than salad or soup. It comes in exactly 400 calories and if you take it without the rice, just 314 calories according to packet information and using MyFitnessPal.

The pork fillet is cooked under a grill to save on some calories and I'd saved some calories by skipping breakfast so was able to add two tablespoons of ready cooked rice to the equation which significantly helped.

The meal below makes enough for 2 portions, I served a larger portion of the entire meal with rice to my partner for his dinner but you could just as easily freeze the stew and save it for another fast day. 

4 pork fillets weighing approx 200g in total (100g per person)
1 red onion
1 green pepper
1 tin butter beans
1 clove garlic
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Ready Made Rice - I used Tesco Pilau Rice - once cooked 62g is sufficient for a Fast Day
Cooking spray (

Firstly place a saucepan on a low heat.

Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic, spray the pan and add the onion and garlic to gently soften.

In the meantime, chop the pepper into bite sized pieces and also add to the pan.

Add the tomatoes and drained butter beans and stir through. Now allow to cook for 20-30 minutes.

Pork fillet of this size, takes around 15-20 minutes to cook under a grill. I would generally place some foil on the grill tray to catch any fat, but as the fillet is a very lean part of the pig, this should be minimal. Turn the meat over after about 8 minutes of cooking, it should be getting nicely charred. Once cooked, allow to rest, wrapped in foil for 4-5 minutes.

If you are having rice, this is the time to cook according to packet instructions.

Finally plate up half of the stew first then add the pork fillet and rice and enjoy a filling meal on a fast day.