Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mushroom Paprikash

So my posts at the moment are a little like buses, you don't get one for ages, then three come along at once.  Essentially, I've found some time to cook and write about it (at last) so I may as well do it before work/festivities take over again (personally I hope it's the latter).  Anywho, I had a little spare time this evening and decided to try a new recipe as my grandpa got me a subscription to the Good Food magazine for Christmas and the first issue arrive the other day.  So here it is the very quick and simple mushroom paprikash.

Mushroom Paprikash
I was sceptical when the recipe said it would take 5 minutes to prepare and 15 to cook but it turns out (even with only one hob) this was the case :)

For 2 portions you will need:
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (I didn't use these as I forgot to buy them in my hurry)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion (sliced)
100g cup mushrooms (quartered)
1 large green pepper (deseeded and cut into chunks)
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (or just normal paprika but put in double the amount if that's the case)
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
4tbsp soured cream
chopped parsley (to garnish)
Pasta - whatever tickles your fancy!
(other suggestions include serving with a jacket potato which you can cook in the microwave or garlic bread)

While you prepare the veg bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
Then heat the pan and add the caraway seeds if you're using them, lightly toast before adding the oil.  Tip in the onion, mushrooms and pepper and season with salt.  Cook (stirring well) for 6-8 minutes until the veg has softened and the onions are turning golden.
Stir in the paprika, tip in the tomatoes, stock and half a can of water and leave to simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly.
Top the portions with the sourced cream and parsley and serve over pasta (or whatever you've decided to eat it with).

It really is that simple and tastes delicious :)  Enjoy!

Merry Bridgemas Everyone!

This post may seem a little premature to some but in Cambridge term is coming to an end and Bridgemas is being celebrated.  However, the highlight of my week was not the Christmas dinner in Formal Hall, rather the evenings I have spent with friends.  I love sharing food with other people, it's far more fun than just cooking on your own and I'm really glad to have had friends to cook with.  From the yummy vegetable risotto to the delicious curry which were cooked for me by friends (you know who you are!) there's nothing better than sitting down to food with friends.  So that's the theme of this post, food with friends.

This time last year I was preparing for Christmas in Germany, where I spent a year studying abroad.  Not only was there mulled wine being served on the street corners and Lebkuchen galore I was also treated to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner by my American friends!  I'm thinking of you guys and this year I'm thankful that I met you all and here's hoping that I'll be able to come and visit some of you next summer.

So this week I went over to a friend's house to cook dinner.  I know my blog is normally about how to cook food without an oven but there are some things which you just can't do without one and roast chicken with roast vegetables is one of those things!  We stuffed the chicken and prepared roast potatoes (new and sweet) with roast peppers and courgettes.  We even had stuffing, peas and gravy to go with our beautifully cooked, crispy-skinned chicken (is your mouth watering yet?)  Three of us sat down to a lovely roast dinner with mulled wine and Christmas crackers.  It was a lovely evening with good food and good friends!  Thanks guys!

Our beautifully roasted chicken 

Last night I carried on a Christmas tradition of mulled wine and mince pies with friends.  Loads of people came over and I spent a very happy evening eating, drinking and chatting, while we also tried to construct a gingerbread house.  I photographed the result, which was surprisingly good (even if I do say so myself), given how hard it was to pipe the icing!  I am so pleased to have such artistically gifted friends!  Anyway, here it is, the gingerbread house:

All we need now are Hansel and Gretel!
I have to admit that it only looked like this for about 5 minutes as I couldn't resist eating some for much longer!

As for the mulled wine, I have to admit I cheated a little.  Rather than making my own I bought some ready-made bottles as it is a lot quicker.  I did buy some spices (dried orange, cinnamon stick, cloves and some berries) in order to add to one bottle of red wine, however, although it tasted nice, I discovered that it is hard to make proper mulled wine on induction hobs as (even on the lowest setting) they get too hot, meaning it is difficult to gently heat the wine without it simmering too much.  I have to say it's at times like these when I really miss Germany with its wide range of mulled wine (Glühwein) and stands selling it throughout the town centre (at least that was the case in Bamberg where I was living).  As a result of all the mulled wine (and the oranges we stuck cloves in) my room smells lovely and Christmassy this morning!

As this has been a somewhat nostalgic post I thought I would include a couple of photos from a similar endeavour last year.  It has to be said the gingerbread house kits which you can get in German are rather superior to those in England.  I have some great memories of the evening we built this house last year, thanks for the wonderful evening guys, ihr fehltet mir gestern!

All that remains to be said is a huge thank you to all of my friends for such as wonderful year, season's greetings to you all!

Sag aloo

I know it's been ages but Cambridge finally got the better of me and I have spent the past couple of weeks writing one essay after another.  But as promised here is a post about a delicious chicken sag aloo I made courtesy of the free recipe cards Sainsbury's have been giving out :)  Apologies for the lack of a more imaginative title but most of my brain power this weekend is being used on my final essay of term.

This made two generous portions and took about 40mins (including preparation and cooking time)
For this delicious meal you will need:
Olive oil (for frying)
1/2 red chilli, washed, deseeded and chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cube frozen ginger (or a couple tsps grated fresh ginger)
15g (1/2 pack) fresh coriander (chopped)
2/3 tbsp Balti paste (or more depending on how spicy you want it)
200g chicken breasts cut into chunks
200g (tin or carton) chopped tomatoes
1x560g tin peeled new potatoes in water (drained and halved) - saves having to par-boil them first
100ml water
Black pepper to season
A bag of baby leaf spinach
25 low fat natural yoghurt
(naan bread if desired)

I found this recipe really simple to make.  Simply heat the oil in a large pan (saucepan or frying pan), add half the chilli along with the onion, ginger, coriander (but save some to garnish) and the balti paste, cook over a medium heat, stirring, for 4-5 mins until the onion is soft and starting to turn golden.
Then add the chicken and stir fry until browned.  Then added the tomatoes, potatoes and 100ml water.  Season with black pepper and simmer, uncovered for 10 mins.
The recipe recommends using 4 portions of Sainsbury's frozen chopped spinach but as I don't have a freezer I bought some fresh baby leaf spinach.  This worked well.  Although I used the whole bag you could use more if you really love spinach!  Add the spinach to the pan bit by bit (letting it wilt down slightly as you go).  Then cover and heat through for 5mins, stirring occasionally.  Simmer uncovered for another 5mins, make sure the chicken is cooked through and that the sauce has thickened.
Divide between two plates/bowls and garnish with the remaining coriander and chilli.  Serve with a dollop of the yoghurt (and naan if you fancy).

Chicken sag aloo
So there you have it, one delicious sag aloo.  If you're a vegetarian then you can always leave out the chicken and add more spinach and onion, I'm sure it will still be delicious!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rabbit food

Sorry I haven't posted for a while - I had a lot of essays to write!  The theme of this post is salad and I'm going to start off with a combination that I discovered this year and have fallen in love with, warm chickpea and feta salad (apologies for the poor quality of the picture, I took this on my phone).

Warm Chickpea and feta salad
I posted a picture of this on twitter when I made it and here's the recipe:
For 2 portions you will need:
1tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
100g spinach leaves
1 red pepper (de-seeded and sliced)
1 red chilli (de-seeded and sliced) or chilli flakes
4 spring onions
100g cherry tomatoes (halved)
400g can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
40g feta (or similar cheese)

For the dressing whisk 1tsp olive oil, lemon juice, smoked paprika and a pinch of salt and pepper.  (If you prefer you can leave out the paprika although personally I really like it.)  Divide the spinach evenly between two plates or bowls.  Heat the rest of the oil in the frying pan and stir-fry the pepper for 5mins over a high heat until starting to caramelise at the edges.  Add the chilli (or leave it out if you're not keen on spicy food), spring onions and tomatoes and stir-fry for another minute.  Stir in the chickpeas and dressing and cook for one more minute.  Spoon the hot mix onto your spinach and you're good to go!  This takes very little time to prepare and is absolutely delicious!

If you want a salad which is a little less faff (although really 15 minutes isn't long), then this is the perfect lunch for you.  It is a super-simple mozzarella, tomato and basil salad with some added rocket to make it a little greener!  Simply slice a tomato and a ball of mozzarella (about 125g) then sprinkle over some dried basil (of course if you have fresh basil then this is ideal but I tried keeping one of those alive at university and it didn't go well)!  Place the rocket in the middle of the plate and dribble over some balsamic vinegar, season to taste and there you have it, one quick and easy lunch.  This dish is probably more appropriate for summer but I do still enjoy it now if I want a light lunch.

Tomato, mozzarella, basil and rocket

Now, I realise that omelettes aren't technically salads but I think they fit in with the whole 'light lunches' theme.  Omelettes are, like salads, super simple to make.  Simply whisk 3 eggs (or more if you're quite hungry!) in a bowl, melt some butter in a frying pan over a medium to high heat and pour in the eggs.  You then let it cook, while shaking the pan back and forth and using a spatula to ensure the mixture doesn't stick.  You can essentially add anything to an omelette (my favourite is mushrooms which I fry before making then omelette).  The one below contains mushrooms, cherry tomatoes (halved) and parsley.  Essentially tip your choice of ingredients onto one half of the omelette then, once the egg is cooked (make sure it is still moist in the middle) flip the other half over.  The picture below doesn't demonstrate this very well as it broke in the process but scrambled omelette ultimately tastes just as good!  Omelettes are a great way of using up leftovers and if you're worried about them being a little bland simply season with salt, pepper or any other herbs you may have lying around or grate in some cheese (a strong cheddar works particularly well!).

Well, I hope I've given you a few ideas for some light lunches.  If you want to learn how to make caesar salad then check out my Keeping it Simple blog post.  Next time I'll tell you about the yummy chicken sag aloo (or Indian chicken with potatoes and spinach) which I made the other day.  Happy cooking!