Towards the East Feast

I have just realised that I haven’t actually posted since the non-conformist Christmas Pudding – I know a few of you were going to try it this year – did you?  How did you find it?  Yet again, I wasn’t disappointed and maybe that, plus a few extra glasses of wine added a few pounds to my weight but never mind, I enjoyed it, and it will come off again soon enough.

As I really only have one picture of the finished dish I made I thought I would show you the great Christmas present I bought for Mr K.  Some of you may remember me telling you that he was the glory cook in our house.  Well what better present than the obsessive chopping board.  Can you see how great it is – look at how tiny a fine brunoise is – seriously, I’m going to challenge him to that one!

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So, New Year means that I have to be somewhat healthier and get rid of the sluggish feeling of having over-eaten.  We thought that there will be quite a lot of oriental food as we have such a great oriental supermarket reasonably close to us and generally it is very healthy and tasty.  The recipe today was somewhat of an accident.  It was a Friday night, there was literally no food in the house.  When I went to the shop I found some pork mince that was reduced so it had to be that.  Some time ago I posted a recipe for some lovely dumplings – these were delicious, and I know lots of people continue to make them – they double up as a great snack, so initially I was going to make those.  On checking in the freezer there were no dumpling wrappers but I did have a cabbage in the fridge.

I have to apologise for the lack of pictures, this dish was really not supposed to be blogged, but as I carried on adding to it I realised it had serious potential.  So this one is for those of you who can’t get the dumpling wrappers.

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You need to make these babies by following the recipe in ‘Disasters and a Dumpling Delight’. Once you have made the dumplings stop and come back here as the following is what I then did:

Mix together 4 tsp miso paste with 4 tsp light soy sauce or to the thickness where you can brush it on the dumplings.  Brush the dumplings with the deliciously sweet and salty mixture and then fry them either on a griddle or in a pan, you can keep basting them with this and turning them until they are beautifully crusty and sticky.

Whilst you are cooking the dumplings cook some rice until only just cooked.  Separate leaves of the cabbage and cut out the thickest part of the stalk and blanch these.

All of the above can be done in advance and left to cook to reassemble and cook later if you want to.

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When you want to make these put a spoonful of the rice in the cabbage leaf, then a dumpling, and wrap up the parcel and secure with a skewer or toothpick.  Put these in a steamer for about 5 minutes or until heated through.

When you open these up put on a little more soy and some fresh chilli – they are not delicate little parcels but they are amazingly good.

The miso paste is 5 syns per tsp if you are following Slimming World.  This may seem quite a lot but if you use the full 4 tsp you get a delicious sweetness on the crust and it is well worth it – and remember, this makes loads and loads of dumplings so the actual syns per person is really not many if you make them all into parcels – in fact we were eating them all weekend.

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‘Cause we are living in a Vegetarian World

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Recently we decided it might be a good idea to eat a bit more vegetarian food.  Mr K is a dedicated carnivore so he did think this might be a bit of a challenge for him.  It was decided, Monday to Thursday vege, weekend fish or meat.

As it turns out it’s not been that tricky and I think it must have seriously helped with dropping a few lbs in my case as otherwise my diet hasn’t changed significantly.

It was as I realised we had exactly the same meals, on the same night for a couple of weeks that this came into action.  This dish, Mr K exclaimed, was the first one that he didn’t actually miss meat in at all.  When questioned he said all the other ones have been nice but had thought ‘that could have been better alongside a steak’ or similar.  So I’m taking that as a compliment, and the children liked it too, always a bonus.

Oh, and middle Miss K made me take a photo of the squash at that angle as ‘it looked like a bum’ giggle giggle!

 

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Blackbean and Squash Chipotle Chilli – serves 4 very hungry adults – syns less than 1 per serving

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½+ tsp chipotle chilli paste (add more bit by bit but be warned this can be very fiery)
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • vegetable stock (either fresh or cube)
  • fresh coriander

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Fry off the onion, pepper, butternut squash and garlic in fry light.

Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients, and stir. Cover for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste test for spice level and add more chipotle if you wish.

This is cooked when the sauce has thickened and the squash is cooked through.  See Easy!

I served this sprinkled with fresh coriander and with wild rice but Mr K had some tortilla and avocado sprinkled over the top too which he said was delicious.

A Trip Along the Grand Trunk Road – Part 3 Aloo Dimer Jhol

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This is the final part of this curry feast and I hope you agree that all of the dishes can stand up to being served either on their own or as part of a varied feast. I was somewhat outside of my comfort zone with this one, although I love eggs I have never used them as the main ingredient in a curry but I think it was a triumph and would urge you to give this one a go.

I yet again have to apologise for the presentation and photography – late Saturday night and I might have had a glass of wine which means I become a little less careful (in fact, it sort of gets thrown at the table at that stage) ‘hangs head in shame’.

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Aloo Dimer Jhol – serves 2 – syn free

  • 4 small potatoes
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 1 large green chilli
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander

Slice potatoes lengthways.  Spray pan with frylight and shallow fry potatoes over a low heat until cooked through.  Set these aside and fry eggs, whole, for 2-3 minutes and set aside.

Put garlic, chopped onions and tomatoes in blender and puree.  Set aside.

To the empty pan add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the tomato and onion puree, cover and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the turmeric, cumin, chilli powder and salt.  Add 250ml water and simmer for about another 10 minutes until this has thickened.  Add the potatoes and eggs and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped coriander.

 

A Trip Along the Grand Trunk Road – Part 1 Poussin Penda

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Most of you already know of my love for Indian food (see previous posts here and here).  Any sort at all, from the mildest korma to the more unusual dishes.  I was browsing a charity shop a couple of weeks ago when Big Miss K asked if I had seen this cookery book – she knows where my heart lies you see.  Anyway, it turns out they were selling a whole load of them for 50p each.  Now, I’m still very particular about cookery books in my house and this was the only one I bought from that pile thank goodness, otherwise we may have to get more bookcases.  And I am so pleased I did.  It’s called ‘Food of the Grand Trunk Road’ and must have been a gift for someone originally because it just hasn’t been used – the pages have hardly been turned let alone ending up like most of my spattered books.  These dishes are more unusual, how often do you think about buying a book and then realise you have 10 all which have the same recipes in them already – this is certainly not one of those books.

It took me some time to decide what I was going to make.  Eventually the decision was made, A Rogan Josh (Mr K asked for something spicy), a Poussin Penda and more unsually, and because I currently have a glut of eggs, Aloo Dimer Jhol, an egg curry with potatoes.  I have to say, I have never used eggs in a curry and did follow the recipe to the letter as I was concerned the eggs would fall apart and it would all turn to mush but no, it was amazing.  In fact all of them were delicious.  Mr K loves Indian food but I can have a slightly heavy hand when tipping chillies into a dish, and occasionally he has a look of fear once the heats comes through, only occasionally you understand.  He tells me that although these were hot, they were not ‘blow you head off’ hot, which is a compliment, honestly.  The heat dissipated quickly and you were just left with the full flavour.  I did tell him to drink a Lassi with it but he looked oddly at me and said he would be just fine with beer.  I can only apologise for the photos – by the time I took this it was quite late and we were very hungry – oh, and I might have had a couple of glasses of wine 😉

So the first dish I will tell you about is the Poussin Penda – I will post the others over the next couple of days and hopefully in time for you to give them all a go for an Indian Feast at the weekend.

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Poussin Penda – serves 4 as part of meal – syns per serving 0 (syn if you eat the skin though)

  • 1 Poussin, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt

Heat pan and spray with some frylight, add the onion, garlic and cinnamon and cook until the onion is browned.

Add Poussin pieces and fry until skin is lightly browned, then add pureed tomatoes, chilli powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin, garam masala and salt and mix well.

Stir in 1 litre of water, cover and cook poussin on medium heat for about 20 minutes.

After this time, check chicken is cooked through and remove from the sauce, check if sauce is thick enough, if not, reduce down until it is the required consistency, if too thick, add some more water – this is personal taste.  It is THAT easy!

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It’s a Humous Day

DSC_0924 What an amazing time we had watching Le Tour de France leave Cambridge – a lovely sunny day, we visited all of the fun activities first thing in the morning and then cycled out to just past the start line, catching the ‘caravan’ which were lots of advertising cars throwing all sorts of odd things out of them (my children managed to accumulate a fold up frizbee and a blow up guitar amongst other things – how random).   Then we saw the pack coming towards us, the riders all got up on their haunches and flew past us in a haze of speed. It was great, and just lovely being able to cycle through the main roads of Cambridge without having to pay much attention to the children cycling safely as the roads were closed to vehicles – I don’t think they could quite believe it either, something they have never been able to do.  However, with all of the positives there is always a negative and that was I put on 4lbs – oops.  I had treated it like a Bank Holiday as we all had the day off, it was so hot I felt I just had to participate in a glass or two (or 3) of wine.  Then there was lunch out – see, now I’m writing it down I know exactly what happened don’t I – but that’s fine, it’s the scenic route again, no problem.

Mr K went off to the cricket a few days later so it was only me to feed once the kids had gone to bed.  It really was a hot evening so I couldn’t face much, but I also know that risking no food I may well head for a disaster of being hungry late at night, so I decided on making humous, not just any old humous but one with onions, which both bulks it up and gives it lots and lots of flavour – you really do have to like onions, probably quite lucky that I was on my own as I may have been rather unsociable if anyone else was around.

I still had my HEX B left so toasted a couple of pieces of brown toast, then I sliced them on a board so it actually makes 4 pieces and then toast the cut sides until crispy and it makes them like melba toasts – delicious.  Then I had some cucumber and carrots sticks and it was addictive, standing by the cool fridge and just eating – thank goodness I had decided on that, otherwise it really might have been a disaster!

And it must have worked – the 4lbs had gone by the following week – onwards and upwards, or rather, downwards!

N.B.  You can leave the tahini out of this and add water to make it right consistency but I’m afraid there is nothing to beat the tahini really (you can add up to 3 tbsp if you are happy with the syns!) DSC_0926 Balsamic Onion Humous – syns – 4 for the whole lot

  • 2 medium yellow or sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sweetener, divided
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons reserved liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoons tahini paste (4 syns)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Really good squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Water (optional for consistency)

Cook onions in a frying pan in frylight with sweetener added.  Season with a bit of salt. Spread onions out across the pan and let cook, stirring every few mins, until softened, about 20-30 minutes total. In last 10 mins add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and stir to coat. Once they are caramelized to your liking, remove from pan.

Save a small amount of onions to top the hummus later, if desired. Add the rest to the large bowl of a food processor.

Reserve about 3 tablespoons of liquid from the chickpea can and drain and rinse the rest of the chickpeas.

Put 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and let simmer until reduced to a thick, syrupy liquid, about 1-2 tablespoons worth. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add to the food processor the chickpeas, liquid from the chickpea can, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon sweetener, salt, and pepper.

Process until smooth. Adjust to taste, adding water if you want to loosen consistency.

Serve hummus topped with reserved caramelized onions and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

A Flying Queen and a ‘Hug in a Mug’

So I was having to lay low (or rather sit low) as I had a cycle accident.  I would like to point out there was no alcohol involved contrary to popular belief, might be tricky to keep the glass straight when cycling.  No, the chain came of my bike as I was cycling up a hill and was standing up.  It was a rather unceremonious flying across the cycle path with bike on top of me and everything in my basket flying.  I won’t show you a picture of the damage but suffice to say it was not pleasant (and of course a brand new pair of trousers were ruined).  A couple of days off work not being able to do a lot has driven me mad – however, my eldest daughter is delighted as her cardigan is now almost finished (other than that second sleeve and blocking it).  If you fancy having a go at this one then the pattern is here. knittingThen I chanced upon a recipe for a quick tomato soup so thought I had nothing to lose.  Normally I don’t go for speedy cooking but I must say that this really had the ‘hug in a mug’ and more importantly it really did only take 5 minutes to make.  So here goes, if you are under the weather and don’t want any effort but need to pack in those free foods then this is the baby for you.

Tomato soup ingredients

Hug in a Mug Speedy Tomato Soup – SYN FREE

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 small-ish carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs

Peel and chop onion and garlic and roughly chop everything except the canned tomatoes and mixed herbs into a food processor until finely chopped.

Throw everything into a pan with the tomatoes and mixed herbs and some seasoning and put on the hob for 5 minutes until veg is cooked through.

Blend this again (I use a stick soup blender for this part) until smooth, you may want to add a little water to get the right texture, or a little milk if you have a HEX A left.

Top this with a little fat free fromage frais and some basil (yes, that is basil but it had only just started growing).

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A Swweeeeet Potato Lunch

Eggs with sweet potato crust ingredients

I had one of those unexpected mornings on Saturday (well in my house anyway). The kids were at swimming lessons and I went to get my hair cut and when I got back the house was still empty – this is NOT NORMAL. Normally I come in to everyone talking, singing (Frozen has a lot to answer for in this house), shouting, badgering me for food and general chaos but no, silence. So I did what any sane person would do and think about lunch – or rather, lack of anything that might resemble Slimming World friendly in the house. Looking in the fridge the thing that jumped out at me was eggs. Seriously, the hens had been working overtime and there were well over a dozen in there so that was what it was going to be in one form or another.

Those who go to my Slimming World class know I have a real bugbear about conversion of food that doesn’t say what it actually is. A while ago, everyone was talking about Slimming World Quiche, now I was well up for this, I mean pastry, on a diet, as my 10 year old daughter says ‘it’s the best part of a quiche’. Obviously she doesn’t mean mine I’m sure… I then find out that this is in no way, shape or form a quiche, it is an omelette poured into a tin and put in the oven. THIS IS NOT A QUICHE, see I told you I have a bugbear about these things, IT’S AN OMELETTE baked in the oven.

On that note out came the sweet potatoes and I set to work on using this to form a crust of types (something that can hold eggs in it really) – now I don’t want to call this a quiche (as it doesn’t have pastry and it’s my bugbear) so the name, hmmmm. I settled on Eggs with a Sweet Potato Crust – I’m still not happy with that title but have made a rod for my own back with that one.

Oh, and gradually I get more tech friendly, as well as here and Pinterest I am now here on Istagram so pop over, it’s likely I will post more there and on Twitter as it’s quick and easy so if you haven’t had enough of me blathering away then come and have a look (that is if I have got the links to work…) I still haven’t got to grips with linking my pages to recipes though – need to sit down and get that sorted (advice gratefully received…)

Eggs with Sweet Potato Crust – Serves 6 with a salad – SYN FREE

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes, grated
  • 8 eggs
  • chilli flakes
  • Mixture of veg for filling, I used onion, mushrooms, courgette, red peppers
  • Mixed herbs
  • Grated cheese – HEX A – measured
  • Seasoning

Fry off whatever you are using for your filling in frylight, I fry onions gently first to release their sweetness, the add everything else until just cooked making sure it’s not too moist.

Grate potatoes with large side of grater and line a loose based cake tin with baking parchment and spray on fry light

If potatoes are a little watery put them in a tea towel and squeeze out moisture. My potatoes were quite dry.

Mix grated potatoes with chilli flakes and seasoning, throw in 1 whole egg and mix together. Press this mixture into the cake tin, I do this carefully to make sure there are no holes in the base as the eggs would leak through. Then press up the sides of the tin to the top.  Pop this in the oven for about 20 minutes until lightly coloured and drying out (see below).

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Place filling on top of potatoes, I like quite a dense filling so used rather a lot of veg.

Whisk together remaining eggs with a dash of milk and mixed herbs and pour over the top of the veg, making sure it can get through all the layers of vegetables.

Sprinkle with cheese and place in a 180 degree celcius oven for around 20 minutes.

Remove from tin as soon as you are able to handle (you will be grateful for the baking parchment here) and serve warm with a lovely green salad.

I also had some left for the next day and can tell you it was equally delicious cold.

Eggs with Sweet Potato Crust