Easy Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

DSC_0002.JPG

I think I’ve said it before but I’m absolutely bloody useless when it comes to eating lunch.  I’m a grab and go kinda girl – and that would be absolutely fine if it wasn’t for the fact that the kind of foods that I usually end up grabbing are doughnuts, a bag of crisps, five custard creams, a yoghurt, a cheeky cinnamon bun…  You know?  Not great.  So, when I sit down and make my meal plan for the week ahead, I’ve started factoring in lunch, and – more specifically – one meal that I can batch-cook at the start of the week that’ll serve me through those grab and go lunchtimes.  The provisos are that it needs to be healthy(ish), microwavable and survive in the fridge through to Friday, and this cauliflower and chickpea curry ticks all those boxes.

I absolutely love cauliflower in a curry (my mother-in-law makes the best Aloo Gobi) and Chana Masala is always on the menu if we eat out at an Indian restaurant.  So, why not put the two together, eh?  It’s a quick and easy meal to whip up, and a damn tasty treat for lunchtimes when you fancy something warm and comforting to eat.  Not everyone’s got Indian spices banging around in their cupboard though, so if you don’t fancy cooking the curry sauce from scratch, just cheat and buy a jar of Rogan Josh instead. 😉

DSC_0004

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry (Gobi Chana) – serves two (double up if you’re batch-cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, strained
  • 200g cauliflower florets
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (fill the empty tin to halfway with water)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste/puree
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • chopped fresh spinach to serve
  1. Put the chickpeas and cauliflower florets in a saucepan with some water and bring them to the boil.  Strain, then set aside.
  2. Set your frying pan on the hob on a medium heat, then add the vegetable oil.  Add the diced onion and ginger paste and fry for around ten minutes.  Add your ground spices and burn them off for a couple of minutes.  Pour in the tinned tomatoes (and water), the chickpeas and cauliflower florets.  Pop the lid on your pan and allow the whole mix to simmer for ten minutes.
  3. Season with salt and then serve with chopped fresh spinach and cooked basmati rice. 🙂

DSC_0005

Happy weekend! 😉

Cheat’s Mango Chicken

DSC_00081.JPG

You know me, I’m a big fan of fresh and fuss free mid-week meals, but then isn’t everyone?  Whenever I sit down to do my meal planning for the week and ask Sunny if he’s got any requests when it comes to dinners then 9 times out of 10 I’ll get that super specific but mostly unhelpful answer, “I don’t know, *shrugs* something with rice?”  So we tend to eat a lot of curries and a lot of stir fries – and d’you know what?  I’m not even mad about that because they’re so quick and easy to whip up, especially in the middle of the week – and they’re (mostly) pretty healthy.

But, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut cooking the same two or three things each week.  So.  I’ve slowly been upping my “homemade takeaway game”.  I make a mean plate of Singapore Noodles and – more recently – a cracking bowl of Thai Noodle Soup and now I’m bringing this super satisfying (and stupidly simple) plate of Mango Chicken to the table.  It’s as easy as opening a jar of Mango Chutney!  Sweet and sticky and perfect if you fancy a change from your usual Sweet and Sour Chicken.  You can even switch out the chicken for battered cod or scampi if you fancy.  Boom! 😉

dsc_0009

Cheat’s Mango Chicken (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 300g jar of mango chutney
  • 100ml water
  • 150g diced mango
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • a handful of chopped spring onions
  • 250g of battered chicken breast meat (if you want to make things easy, then buy it already battered – if not, I’d recommend giving this recipe a go; it’s not as tricky as you think!)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Pour the vegetable oil into your wok and get it smoking hot.  Stir fry the pepper, mango and spring onions for five minutes.
  2. Pour in the contents of the mango chutney.  Pour the water into the jar and swill it around to collect the dregs, then pour into the wok – stirring to combine.
  3. Let it bubble for five minutes and reduce down, then stir in the battered chicken.
  4. Serve up with egg fried rice.  Yum!  🙂

dsc_0001

What’s your favourite kind of midweek meal?  Let me know in the comments – I’m always trying to find new favourites!  Have a great week! 🙂

 

Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup

dsc_0049

I think 2018 will be remembered as the year I officially, head over heels fell in love with Thai food.  It’s fresh and filling and colourful (I don’t know about you, but colourful food cheers me up this time of year); more importantly, it’s so quick and easy to make!  Pad Thai (♡♡♡) and Massaman Curry are my midweek meal saviours, and even though that’s not about to change, I’ve been feeling like branching out a little and adding a few more Thai recipes to my arsenal.

I threw this soup together just before Christmas.  I had some Thai Green Curry paste in my cupboard and a can of coconut milk going spare, and, when I reached right to the back I found an old pack of instant noodles.  The filthy kind.  You know the ones, they cost about 30p (or at least they did when I used to buy them on the way back home from High School) and come with a flavour sachet.  So wrong and yet so, so right.  I was just going to whip up the curry and have the noodles with it instead of rice, but then as they were boiling away it occurred to me that the flavoured water they were bubbling in would make a pretty good stock.  So I poured one pot into the other and wham-bam, here’s your Noodle Soup, maam.  It’s vegetarian (as long as you make sure you use vegetable-flavoured noodles instead of the chicken ones, obviously) and perfect for cold and gloomy January nights at home in front of the box.  Just make sure you only add the noodles when you’re ready to eat, because they’ll start slurping up that soup before you get a chance to! 🙂

dsc_0066

Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • Thai Green Curry Paste
  • 400ml can of Coconut Milk
  • 2 packs of vegetable-flavoured instant noodles (cheaper the better!)
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Sliced Chestnut Mushrooms
  • Shredded Red Cabbage
  • Shredded Carrot
  • Sliced Spring Onions
  • Sprinkle of black pepper and sesame seeds
  1. Heat up a deep saucepan with the vegetable oil, then add most of your vegetables – holding some spring onion slices back to garnish with later. 
  2. Stir in the green curry paste until it coats the veg, then pour in the coconut oil – stirring until it turns green. 🙂  Bring the boil, then simmer.
  3. Break the noodle block into a separate saucepan, sprinkle in the flavour sachet and then add boiling water.  Leave the noodles to bubble until they soften.
  4. Once the noodles are soft, pour the stock into the curry to create your soup.  The noodles will soak everything up quickly, so only add them to the soup once you’re ready to eat!  
  5. Garnish with the remaining spring onions, black pepper and sesame seeds – then slurp! 😉

dsc_0056

Happy weekend! 🍜

 

5 Weekday Lunches

I’m absolutely useless when it comes to eating lunch during the week.  Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to dive head first into the fridge at lunchtime, but I always seem to surface with my hands empty and end up heading off to the snack cupboard instead.  Jam Doughnut?  That’ll do.  Half a bag of Tortilla Chips?  Be rude not to.  I grab and I go and more often than not I end up swinging back in a couple of hours for round two because – you guessed it – I didn’t eat a proper lunch.

So this week I decided to shun the snack cupboard and sort myself out with some proper midday grub in under 15 minutes using whatever happened to be in the fridge.  It was really nice to take some time to cook (mostly) from scratch and treat myself to a little lunch date every day! 🙂

Monday: Egg on Toast

Yes, it’s simple and probably a little bit boring, but you can’t beat fried egg on a slab of toast.  I was going to mash up a little avocado to go with it, but since none of the ones hanging around in my fruit bowl were ripe, I had to go without.  I finished things off with some chopped chives, a little grated cheddar, chilli flakes and black pepper.  Yum!

Tuesday: Sweet Potato Hash

On Tuesday I found some leftover halloumi (…does such a thing exist?) when I was rummaging around in my fridge, so I quickly fried it up with some garlic, diced sweet potato, button mushrooms, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes.  I mixed in some salad and grated cheese (extra cheese!) and scoffed it in front of a brand new episode of Outlander (I’m so happy it’s back!).

Wednesday: Flatbread Pizza

Hump Day Treat!  Sunny was working from home and found some flatbread in the fridge and complained that it wasn’t any good – “You can’t make a sandwich with that!”.  Nope, you can’t.  But you can make pizza.  I spread some tomato puree over the top, sprinkled it with some grated mozzarella, added some chopped button mushrooms and tomatoes and then grilled it for ten minutes.  Mwah!

Thursday: Toasted Tea Cake

Change of scenery! On Thursday, I ended up popping out to the local garden centre coffee shop to catch up with my Mum and Dad.  My Mum and I love a good old toasted tea cake with plenty of butter; old habits die hard, so that’s what I had. 🙂

Friday: *Pheasant Tikka Masala by Wild and Game

A very gloomy Friday afternoon treat!  Okay, so this one didn’t take 15 minutes – but since it involved absolutely zero effort on my part other than turning the oven on and grilling a bit of naan bread, I’m counting it.  Wild and Game have a whole range of ready meals and pies made with meat from game animals like grouse, pheasant, partridge and hare.  I know what you’re thinking – you’re imagining dinner at Downton Abbey, aren’t you?  Well, while game used to be the nosh of the well to do, thanks to companies like Wild and Game you don’t need a spot on the civil list to get your hands on it.  When they got in touch and asked if I’d like to try their Pheasant Tikka Masala, I said “yes please!” and ended up trying it out this afternoon as a Friday lunchtime treat.  I’d never tried pheasant before (although I’m used to seeing them pottering around the field near where I live – Bungle loves to chase them!) and so I wasn’t sure what it was going to taste like or whether I’d even like it.  But it was delicious, with a flakey, tender texture and a taste slightly similar to turkey, and the curry was the sort of “little bit of what you fancy” Tikka Masala you’d happily pick off a gastropub menu and order with half and half (half rice, half chips for the uninitiated 😉 ). Tasty, and with a hefty portion of pheasant enough to serve two.

I’ve been a bit put off with chicken recently after cooking up a stringy, bad batch from the supermarket a few months ago.  The truth is chicken is terribly over-consumed in the UK and chickens incredibly poorly treated (over 20 million are killed every week for their meat – if you want your eyes opened on the subject then just watch this bbc documentary), and I’m personally a little fed up with being a part of that whole process.  Pheasant, to me, seems to be an ethical and affordable alternative.

What’s your favourite working lunch? 🙂

Easy Singapore Noodles

DSC_0004

Happy September!  I don’t know about you but I’m loving that slight chill in the air; it’s getting me all excited for cosy jumpers, darker evenings spent in front of the telly and cheeky takeaways.  Speaking of which, I’m deadly serious when I say that one of the worst things about moving back to Cardiff is that the local takeaway doesn’t serve up one of my favourite ever dishes.  Back in London, along with chicken balls and sweet and sour sauce, a spicy serving of Singapore Noodles was an absolute must-order whenever I rung up our local Chinese Takeaway.  I mean yes, they’re the colour of nuclear waste and yes they’re so spicy that they’ve been known to leave my mouth numb, but I love them and was absolutely gutted when I found out that my new local doesn’t serve them.

Deciding that I absolutely couldn’t face another winter without them, I thought I’d try and make them myself, and you know what?  They’re not that difficult, and other than a couple of essential “back of the kitchen cupboard” ingredients, they can can be whipped up using a lot leftovers from your fridge.  Leftover roast chicken?  Chuck it in.  Lonely carrot?  Whack it in there.  Leftover bacon?  …Er, nope, right, there’s no such thing.  Buy some more bacon.  But hey, in less than twenty minutes they’re steaming away on the plate, which would give any local takeaway a run for its money.  😉

DSC_0011

Easy Singapore Noodles (serves two)

Ingredients

  • One pack of vermicelli rice noodles
  • 100g shredded roast chicken
  • 100g bacon lardons
  • 3 tsp madras curry powder
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 garlic crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 2 red chilli peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, finely shredded
  • Splash of vegetable oil
  1. Soak the rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water for a minute, then drain and separate.
  2. Add the soy sauce, rice wine and 2 tsp of the curry powder to the softened noodles and mix until they’re all coated and then set aside.
  3. Heat up your wok (or deep frying pan) with the vegetable oil, then add the garlic, ginger paste and the rest of the curry powder.  Fry until the kitchen starts to smell like your takeaway, then pour in the chopped chilli, pepper and carrot and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Now nudge them to the side of the wok and pour in the egg, letting it sit for a minute or two until you stick your spatula or spoon in and scramble it into the veg.
  5. Now add the chicken and bacon – frying until cooked through – then pour in the noodles and spring onions.  Getting everything nicely mixed together is trickier than it sounds!  
  6. Serve steaming hot with chopsticks. 🙂

DSC_0006

Hope you’re enjoying the first week of September whatever you’re up to!  It’s good to be back 🙂