7 minute “chicken” curry

Wait, what? Everyone knows you can’t make a good curry from scratch in 7 minutes, right? Actually, you can, if you know the shortcuts to use and *why* curries take hours to begin with. It’s the slow cooking of all those onions and tomatoes down to a thick sauce… So by using those pre-cooked crispy onion pieces you buy in tubs and passata, you get a similar enough sauce in a fraction of the time. Once you’ve added the spices and chicken substitute (we used quorn) you can hardly tell the difference from the much longer version (see one of our previous posts, sweet potato & spinach curry).

Use whichever spices you like, or if you want to get realy fancy, fry and grind your own… But then you may aswell make the curry the long way. This recipe is more about good, healthy, yummy and fast than authenticity, although it is far superior in that respect too to most other speedy options.

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Ingredients – serves 2
500g passata
1/3 tub good quality crispy onion pieces (nothing but onion, flour, salt and oil please – we used top taste)
500g chicken substitute of choice (we used quorn chicken style pieces)
1/3 tsp each turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, chilli flakes (or to taste)
2 tsp garam masala or curry powder
Salt to taste
Rice to serve

1. Put everything in a saucepan at once. Add a little water then bring to the boil
2. Cook for about 7 min or until the chicken pieces are done. Stir every so often and add a lil more water if required to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan
3.  Serve with rice or naan.
Enjoy!

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Vegetarian cheese buldak – vegan option

This was adapted from Maangchi’s recipe on YouTube for tradition korean cheese buldak – firey chicken topped with cheese. We made it twice in the last two days with our chosen chicken substitute and it is delicious! Spicy, flavoursome, savoury with a little hint of sweet, a little crunchy from the veggies, soft and juicy from the “chicken” and covered in cheese- what’s not to like? Sometimes fake meat recipe substitutions fail because the flavour is off, in this it was perfect because all the punchy pepper and strong flavour takes over and all you really need from the substitute is its texture.

I’ve made a couple of changes to her recipe – first I added some fresh (unfermented) kimchi because, hey, why not? (also made to her “easy kimchi” recipe but made vegan and lower carb by using soy sauce instead of fish sauce and pureed pear instead of rice flour slurry), and I didn’t have any korean hot pepper flakes or paste in the house so I substituted with a mix of hot and smoked Paprika, and a few crushed chili flakes and some other stuff, to mimic the smoky-hot-sweet flavour.  If you want to make this vegan just use a vegan cheese on top instead (she used mozzarella so something like that, we used feta because we had it in the house and my other half has a thing for it).

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Ingredients – serves 2 generously, 3 moderately

1 med/ large onion, diced
Sunflower oil to fry – 2tbsp
500g chicken substitute of choice – we used quorn chicken style pieces (nb ours contains egg)
1 cup vegetarian kimchi (you can leave this out if you want)
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp pomegranate molases (optional)
1 tsp each smoked & hot paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder (more if you like garlic)
1/4 tsp ginger powder (or less to taste)
4 tbsp Sundried tomato paste
2 tbsp toasted (dark) sesame oil
4-6 tbsp crispy onion pieces, optional
400g cheese of choice to top – we used 200g feta because that’s all we had about

1. Fry the onion in a little oil in a large, heavy frying pan until starting to brown
2. Add the “chicken”, kimchi if using, and fry for a couple of minutes
3. Mix all the other ingredients apart from cheese into a paste, then add to the pan with about 1.5 cups water, stirring very well
4. Stir, cover and simmer for about 12 min or until “chicken” is done – don’t let it boil too dry and burn though. It should have a thick juicy sauce. In the meantime preheat the grill /broiler to high
5. Top with cheese and a little more water if the sauce is too dry (the grill will dry it more) – just a couple of tablespoons – then grill until cheese is toasty and soft. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Sweet potato & chickpea mash

With sliced green onion, veggie sausage and melted cheese on top. Yum, yum & yum!

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Ingredients – makes 1 bowl

120g steamed or roasted sweet potato, peeled, mashed
100g chickpeas, cooked, drained, mashed
Half a green onion (scallion), finely chopped
1 vegetarian sausage of choice, cooked, chopped
2 tsp mayo of choice (I used egg free homemade)
Salt & pepper to taste
20g grated cheddar to top

Put everything in a bowl apart from cheese
Mix well, then season
Add cheese then melt under the grill or in the microwave
Enjoy!

Deep filled Spinach & feta pie

This was inspired by the pie at Muffin Break. I’d never seen so much spinach packed into anything before, especially not anything this delicious!  Great to boost those iron & vitamin levels too ūüôā

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Ingredients – makes one 10″ pie

250g pastry of choice (we used puff pastry – but use your favourite)
1kg spinach, frozen or fresh
2 medium onions
2 medium – large carrots
1 sweet pointed red pepper (ramiro)
150g crumbled feta cheese (up to 300g if you prefer)
3 egg whites or 2 small whole eggs
1/2 cup mature grated cheddar to top
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 level tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
3-5 tbsp olive oil to fry
3 tbsp dried or 5 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Place a large saucepan with the oil on a medium heat.
2. Peel & quarter onions then finely chop in food processor (don’t wash it yet, we still need it). Add to pan and fry until translucent.
3. Peel and cut carrots into chunks then process until finely chopped. Add to pan & fry 1-2 min.
4. De-seed pepper & food process until fine. Add to pan & fry for 2 mins. Tip filling into a large bowl. (now you can wash the food processor)
5. Fry spinach in the pan until wilted and the juices are starting to run out. You need to reduce the liquid so you can either squeeze it out carefully using ladles and spoons before placing in the filling bowl, or fry until the liquid dries up. Either way, spinach less water goes into the bowl.
6. stir in all of the other ingredients except the pastry and cheddar. This is your filling, hooray!
7. Line or grease (or both) a deep 10″ pan, I used a cake tin lined with foil, should have greased it too as it stuck a little. Roll out the pastry to cover the base & edges in a very thin layer.
8. Spoon filling into pastry, top with cheese then bake for around 1 hour, or until set in the centre & cheese is golden.
slice when cool for best results
Enjoy!

Amazing oriental style meatballs with rice

This recipe is adapted from Monique’s slow cooker lamb recipe on the Divas Can Cook blog. One thing about Monique is she really knows her flavours, this combination blew us away. This is a stovetop version using our favourite vegetarian meatballs, absolutely delicious on a bed of buttered rice (that’s rice 3 days in a row this week lol – my new favourite thing)

See previous post for rice quantities/method

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Ingredients: serves 4
600g meatballs of choice
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 medium red onion, diced
4 tbsp olive oil plus 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil (do not sub – important for flavour. Must be dark black brown coloured toasted sesame oil, not the light coloured version )
4 tbsp soy sauce (we used Japanese)
2 vegetable stock cubes, or 2 1/2 cups stock of choice (we used organic veg cubes)
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp thickener of choice – cornflour, flour or arrowroot (optional)
3 large cloves garlic (you can increase this, up to one small head, it’ll be delicious but the leftovers will be lethal – garlic develops in flavour & gets stronger over time)
1 sweet pointed red pepper, diced

To serve: rice & steamed broccoli

Method:
1. Fry the onion, garlic in the oils until soft & translucent
2. Add the pepper and ginger, fry for a couple of minutes
3. Add everything else except thickener, plus 2. 5 cups water if not using stock.  Dissolve thickener of choice in 2 tbsp water & pour in.
4. Bring to the boil, simmer 15 mins or until the sauce has thickened & meatballs are done
5. Adjust seasoning, then serve.
Enjoy!

Sweet potato and spinach curry with rice

This was too good of an experiment not to write down. Toooo good. Hot, spicy, satisfying, slightly sweet from the onion & sweet potatoes, perfect on a fluffy bed of buttered rice.  Not as fast as most of my recipes, but so, so worth it.

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Ingredients: serves 3-4
4 small yellow onions, peeled & diced
4-6 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil (we used untoasted sesame oil – anything with no strong flavour)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
250g cherry tomatoes
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 rounded tsp each of: ground cumin, hot paprika (use something hotter if that’s what you like), garam masala (or mild curry powder as we used, not having anything else in the house)
2 rounded tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
Pinch of chilli flakes
Salt to taste (about 1 level tsp)
1 very large sweet potato, peeled & cubed (about 500g)
Half a bag of fresh spinach, chopped (about 100g)
4 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Rice: serves 2-3 (nb: less than the curry serves. Just how it worked out)
1 builder’s mug full of good quality basmati rice (about 250g, we used Tilda)
450g water
2tbsp butter
1tsp salt, or to taste

Method:
1. Heat the oil on a medium low heat, in a large saucepan.  Add onion & garlic, cover and let cook for about 15 mins.
2. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for another 20-25 mins until everything is very soft and mushy (I start the rice now so it’s ready with the curry, see below)
3. Put the spices in and fry for 2-3 mins until fragrant. 
4. Add the sweet potatoes and enough water to cover at least 2/3 of them, about 3 cups. Cover. Bring to the boil.
5.  simmer curry 10 or so mins or until potatoes are soft. Break them up somewhat with a spoon to thicken the sauce.
6. Add spinach & fresh coriander and cook for another 2-5 mins.
7. Test seasoning, then serve.

Rice:
1. put the rice in a microwave rice steamer (or large bowl, or saucepan with a vented lid) and soak in lots of clean water.
2. once rice has soaked for a minimum of 5 min – drain water, rinse in fresh water then drain well again. Place in chosen receptacle (we used a microwave rice steamer) and add 450ml fresh water.
3. Affix lid (or cover bowl in cling film, pierce, then place whole bowl in a larger bowl) and microwave at 900W for 12 min, or until all the water has disappeared and rice is fluffy & soft.  If using saucepan, add water, cover & bring to the boil on a medium heat until water is absorbed (don’t uncover too much but make sure it doesn’t boil dry. 
4. Allow to stand 3 min before stirring in butter.
Serve.
Enjoy!

Really Great Tomato Soup

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Who could resist a recipe called “Really Great¬†Tomato Soup”?

This recipe is (lightly adapted) from¬†The Grain Brain cookbook, which promotes grain-free living for neurological health and protection from Alzheimer’s.

Like the name promises, this really is “really great” soup!

table-tomato

  • 6 pounds tomatoes (the riper, the better!)
  • 8 ounces chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (for economy’s sake, you could substitute olive oil for some of the butter, but use at least some butter for the flavour)
  • salt and pepper to¬†taste
  • optional: a bit of chopped green chilli, or a dash of red chilli pepper flakes
  • optional: a touch of sweetener or sugar

(For a medium-sized saucepan, or about 3 bowlfuls, you can use 2 pounds tomatoes, 1/2 medium-large onion, 1/2 clove garlic, and 1/3 cup salted butter.)

Note: No water!

1. Melt the butter over low heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions and garlic, and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant but not coloured. Add chilli (if using) when the onions are almost done.

2. Chop and core tomatoes. (Or, if you like, just chop them.)

3. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Raise the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes are mushy and the mixture soupy, about 25 minutes. (The tomatoes will produce their own water, so you do not need to add any water or broth.)

4. Puree with a blender.¬†If company’s coming, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve into a non-reactive saucepan. Add salt and pepper to taste, and, if you wish, a tiny dash of sweetener/sugar to bring out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.

5. Garnish with toppings of choice, if desired. Basil would be an ideal choice. The soup in this photo is garnished with crumbled buffalo cheese, dried oregano, and black pepper. The soup also holds up well to any number of creative add-ins!