Monday, July 23, 2007

Quick Meals for Busy People

Unless otherwise stated, all the following recipes make four standard servings:

Chickpea and Pepper Salad:
sunflower oil
1 each red, green, and yellow peppers
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 spring onions, diagonally sliced
2 x 400g cans (or use home-cooked) chickpeas, drained
3 tblsp cashew nuts
nut dressing (see below)
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the deseeded and sliced peppers, the garlic and the spring onions, and stir over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool, then put into a bowl with the chickpeas and nuts. Spoon over dressing, toss together, and chill until ready to serve.
Cashew Nut Dressing:
4 tblsp cashew nuts, toasted
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp lemon juice
2 tblsp water
1 tsp chopped coriander
Put everything into a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.
Variations: Instead of using cashew nuts in the above salad and dressing recipes use toasted pine-nuts. Alternatively use peanuts in the salad and for the dressing use peanut butter instead of the the whole nuts.

Spicy Tempura:
This can either be all vegetarian, or can include peeled and deveined uncooked large prawns. In total allow about eight to twelve tempura per person (or more depending upon appetite or whether it is a starter or a main dish).
Choose from: sugar snap or mangetout peas, cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, button mushrooms, bell peppers cut into chunks, courgette slices...
Prepare the vegetables (and prawns if using) and have them ready to dip into this batter.
Tempura batter:
3 oz (90g) self-raising flour
2 oz (60g) cornflour
1 tsp chilli powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 fl oz (250ml) iced water
ice cubes
Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the egg. Pour in the egg and the cold water and whisk together. Add four ice cubes.
Heat enough oil for deep frying and when hot enough to brown a cube of bread in 50 seconds, start dipping the vegetables/prawns into the batter and deep-fry a few at a time for 3 - 4 minutes until crisp and golden.
Serve immediately with a selection of dips, sauces and relishes.
Tip: Uing a carbonated drink (soda,mineral water, even lager) instead of using plain water. Serve a few at a time if you want them crispy, or drain the cooked tempura on kitchen paper and keep warm, and crisp them up again by popping them back into the hot fat for a few seconds to serve the lot in one go.

Seasonal Tagliatelle:
4 oz (110g) each - cauliflower and broccoli florets
8 oz (250g) tagliatelle or noodles
4 tlsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
half a red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 courgette, sliced not too thinly
1 small aubergine, cut into strips
1 oz (25g) Parmesan cheese, grated
salt pepper and fresh basil
Blanch the cauliflower and broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and plunge into cold water to cool down. Drain again. Cook the pasta in salted water for the time given on the packet - until al dente.
Drain, keep warm. Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic, the peppers, courgette and aubergine and cook for one minute then add the blanched vegetables and cook for a further 4 minutes or until just tender. Tear up the basil and add, with the pasta, to the vegetables and stir/toss to combine. Season with pepper, sprinkle over the Parmesan and serve immediately.

Rustic Lamb:
start by making the Red Wine sauce:
8 fl os (250ml) lamb or beef stock
2 fl oz (50g) red wine
1 tblsp tomato paste
1 tbslp Worcestershire sauce
Put all the above into a bowl and mix together. Use as directed..
cooking the dish:
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1lb (500g) lean lamb, sliced thinly
1 carrot cut into thin strips
2 courgettes, sliced
4 oz (110g) mangetout or sugar snap peas
4 oz (110g) button mushrooms
1 tblsp cornflour blended with 1 tblsp water
2 tblsp parsley, chopped
pepper to taste
Using a deep fryingpan or wok, heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onions for 3 minutes until turning golden, adding the garlic towards the end. Increase heat to high and stir-fry the lamb strips until they are browned. Remove the meat from the pan but keep warm. To the pan add the carrots, courgettes, peas and mushrooms, and stir-fry for five minutes or until tender. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the Red Wine Sauce and the slaked cornflour, bring to the simmer and stir/cook until thickened slightly. Serve immediately.
Tip: Stir-fried carrots can often take longer to soften than other vegetables. Avoid this by blanching the cut carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and add them to the stir-fry. this blanching can be done up to a day in advance - just keep the drained carrots covered in the fridge.
Instead of using peas, use string beans (if frozen, thaw first before adding).

An almost Caesar Salad:
4 eggs
4 rashers of streaky bacon
1 thick slice of bread, toasted
6 tblsp mayonnaise
4 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Little Gem lettuce
2 oz (50g) Parmesan cheese, grated
Make the dressing by whisking together the mayo, oil, lemon juice and W. sauce. Season to taste.
Boil the eggs for seven minutes then plunge into cold water. Grill the bacon for 4 minutes on each side then snip into small pieces. Cut the toasted bread into cubes. Shell the eggs, cut into quarters . Tear the leaves from the lettuce and put them into serving bowl, sprinkle with half the cheese. Add the egg, bacon and the croutons and toss together. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
Tip: if you like your eggs less firm, boil for five minutes only. Alternatively served poached eggs, which - as mentioned in an earlier posting - can be poached a day ahead, kept in cold water in the fridge, then (normally reheated in boiling water for one minute to serve for breakfast) can just be brought back to room temperature and one (per person) served either cold or re-heated placed on top of the salad. Once cut the egg will drizzle down over the salad.

Sweetcorn, Chickpea and Carrot burgers: can be made in advance and frozen (F)
326g can of sweetcorn (or equal amount of frozen and cookked corn)
420g can chickpeas (or equal amount of home-cooked)
1 large carrot, grated
1 tblsp curry paste
5 oz (140g) porridge oats
1 egg, beaten
oil for frying
Drain the sweetcorn and chickpeas and put into a bowl, mash together using a potato masher (or blitz for a few seconds only using a food processor) until roughly blended. Add the curry paste, 2 oz (50g) of the oats and the egg and mix together. Season to taste. Form into four burgers and coat with the remaining oats. They can be frozen at this point. To cook, put oil in a frying pan and, over a medium heat, cook for 3 - 4 minutes on each side until browned. If frozen, allow to thaw slightly then allow 5-6 minutes each side. Serve with salad, or in burger buns topped with lettuce, sliced tomato, onion rings and mayo.

Muesli Smoosly: one batch serves 2
2 - 3 tblsp muesli
500g tub plain yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 -2 bananas, peeled and sliced
Put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour the smoothie into two glasses and serve.