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Category Archives: Healthy

Red Lentil Vegetable Dahl

I am describing myself these days as a “flexitarian”, as I support the philosophy of vegetarianism and try to follow its precepts, at least for some of the time. I am finding that I am becoming more and more interested in vegetarian cooking, as well as really enjoying eating meat free. I regard my forays into vegetarian cooking as an ongoing project!

My Saturday morning trip to Orange Grove Market often results in the acquisition of some delicious Indian fare from a couple of market stalls. One of these stalls makes a great red lentil dahl – so delicious! So I thought it was about time I made my own.

I found this recipe from Vegan Sparkles and made it with a few tweaks. The link to the original recipe is here. My main variation was adding water as well as stock to the recipe, as the dahl really needed the extra liquid.

It’s super easy to make, looks colourful and enticing, is both vegetarian and vegan and best of all – tastes great!

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½  onion, finely chopped

1 cup sweet potato, chopped into cubes

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 tsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)

¾ tsp ground cayenne pepper

1½ tsp ground cumin

1½ tsp ground turmeric

1½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp ground coriander

1 clove garlic, chopped

1½ cups dried red lentils

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups water

1 tsp honey

1 cup grated and pulped carrot

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup baby spinach leaves

½ tsp nigella seeds

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and sweet potato and fry gently until onion is soft. Add ginger, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, garam masala  coriander and garlic to the pan, and cook, while stirring, until mustard seeds begin to pop.

Add the lentils, stock and water and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the honey. Put the carrot pulp, broccoli  and cherry tomatoes into the dahl and simmer for another 15 minutes.

The dahl will be cooked and somewhat reduced. If it’s looks a little too dry, add more water, or if it’s too liquidey, reduce down a bit more.

Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the spinach leaves until they are just wilted. Scatter the nigella seeds just before serving over the dish. They will give an interesting black fleck to the dish!


		
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Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Teriyaki Eggplant (Aubergine)

I’m cooking quite a few recipes  from Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients at the moment. I love the simplicity of just a few basic ingredients.

There are a wealth of good recipes in the book which are pretty easy to prepare and don’t require a store cupboard full of ingredients.

Sticky Teriyaki Eggplant (read Aubergine in Jamie’s original British recipe), is unbelievably easy to make, low in calories and most importantly, very delicious!

As a dedicated foodie I love eating! Sometimes it’s necessary to undergo a little judicious calorie management, so at the moment I am embracing Weight Watchers, an organisation I can speak highly of, with its sensible food plans and non-judgmental mentors. A big shout-out to Wendy at WW in Rozelle and the city!

So it was with delight that I realised that this lovely recipe was very calorie friendly, as well as being delicious.

I made one tiny addition to the ingredients – the sticky sauce was quite strong , so I added a little brown sugar. This worked a treat and I think gave the sauce more of an Asian sweet/salty taste. For Jamie’s original, just leave out!

And if you count the ingredients it’s 7, but who is actually counting?

Ingredients

1 large eggplant (aubergine)
4 spring onions
1 fresh red chilli
20g unsalted peanuts + a few extra for scattering
1 tbls olive oil
2 tbls teriyaki sauce
1 tsp brown sugar (optional – my addition)

Method

Put a 26cm non-stick frying pan on a high heat and pour in 250mls of water.

Halve the eggplant lengthways, quickly slash the skin of each half a few times and place skin side up in the pan, then season with sea salt and black pepper.

Cover and cook for l0 minutes, or until it boils dry and begins to sizzle (listen for the change in sound).

Meanwhile, trim the spring onions. Cut the whites into 3cm lengths at an angle and put aside.

Deseed the chilli and finely slice Iengthways with the green part of the spring onions. Place both in a bowl of ice-cold water and put aside to crisp up.

When the eggplant starts to sizzle, add l tablespoon of olive oil, the white spring onions and the peanuts to the pan, stirring regularly.

After 2 minutes, add a splash of water, drizzle in the teriyaki, stir in the brown sugar and reduce to a medium heat.

Turn the eggplant, jiggle the pan and let it get sticky for a few minutes, then serve sprinkled with the drained green spring onions and chilli and a few peanuts scattered over the dish.

 

Jamie Oliver Sweet Glazed Carrots and Gnarly Peanut Chicken

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Dinner last night – and this this post –  was supposed to be all about the chicken, with the carrots as the supporting act. Well, I have to say that the carrots upstaged the chicken and were the starring act!

It’s a fantastic Jamie recipe, in which heirloom carrots are cooked in the pan with butter and honey or brown sugar, and thyme, resulting in a luscious dish with lovely flavour and texture. However, with the gnarly peanut chicken, they made a great side dish and definitely enhanced the eating experience of the chicken.

The link to Jamie’s Sweet Glazed Carrots is here. Jamie’s Gnarly Peanut Chicken recipe can be found in his great new book 5 Ingredients.

So here are the recipes, with my tweaks , starring those wonderful carrots. I halved the carrot recipe as a kilo of carrots seemed excessive!

Sweet Glazed Carrots

Ingredients
500g small heirloom carrots
30g unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic
A handful of fresh thyme sprigs or to taste
1 clementine or mandarin or small orange
1 tablespoon runny honey or soft brown sugar

Method
Trim most of the leafy green stalks off the carrots, then peel them. (I didn’t peel mine as they were fine as is).
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Crush the unpeeled garlic with the flat side of a knife, then add to the pan turning after 1 minute.
Pick and sprinkle in most of the thyme sprigs, reseving a few to scatter over at the end. Squeeze over the clementine or mandarin or orange juice, then add the honey or sugar and a splash of water.
Add the carrots in a single layer, season with sea salt and black pepper, then jiggle the pan to coat the carrots. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
Remove the lid, then cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the glaze has reduced, and the carrots are sticky and caramelised, turning often. Serve straightaway, or reheat when needed. Sprinkle over the reserved thyme sprigs just before serving.

Gnarly Peanut Chicken 

Ingredients
2 skinless chicken breasts
2 limes
4 cloves of garlic
2 heaped tablespoons peanut butter
1-2 fresh red chillies

Method
Turn the grill on to medium-high. Score the chicken breasts in a criss-cross fashion, rub with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and the finely grated zest of 1 lime.
Place criss-cross side down in a cold non-stick ovenproof frying pan and put it on a medium-high heat, while you peel and finely grate the garlic into a bowl.
Squeeze in the juice from 1 1/2 limes, stir in the peanut butter and loosen with enough water to give you a smooth consistency. Finely slice the chilli, then mix through the sauce, taste and season to perfection.
Flip the chicken over, spoon over the sauce, then transfer to the grill, roughly 10cm from the heat, for 5 minutes, or until gnarly and cooked through. Finely grate over the remaining lime zest, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with lime wedges, for squeezing over.

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Hot-Smoked Salmon Pasta: Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients

I’m in love with Jamie Oliver’s new book, 5 Ingredients. It is so simple, with a ton of recipes that read well, cook well and more importantly eat well!

This is the second recipe I’ve tried this week since acquiring the book. I made St Clement’s Polenta Biscuits a couple of posts back, this time I went savoury.

I’m a blogger because I’m passionate about food and it’s fair to say I’m cooking addicted! However for the last month I have been without a kitchen, as my old one has been demolished and the new one is very slowly taking shape.

So my long time friend and partner in crime in many adventures Ms D, kindly asked me over last night to cook dinner in her large and well equipped kitchen. How lovely to cook on an actual stove – bliss!

I made Hot-Smoked Salmon Pasta, a beautiful pasta dish with heaps of fresh asparagus to go with the hot-smoked salmon. It takes about 15 minutes all up, and can be made just before your diners want to dig in! Thank you too, to the enthusiastic R, his partner S and the taste taster Bella, their beautiful golden Labrador.

Igredients

350g asparagus

300sdried taglierini or angel-hair pasta (I used the latter)

250g hot-smoked salmon* skin off

1 lemon

100ml half-fat crème fraiche (I couldn’t find half-fat – the full fat seemed to work fine!)

Method

Use a speed peeler to strip the top tender half of the asparagus stalks into ribbons. Finely slice the remaining stalks, discarding the woody ends. Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Meanwhile, roughly break the salmon into a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the sliced asparagus stalks, and toss occasionally until the pasta’s ready.

Finely great half the lemon zest into the salmon pan, squeeze in half the juice, then toss in the drained pasta, a good splash of the reserved cooking water and the crème fraiche. Add the asparagus ribbons, toss again, then season to perfection with sea salt and and black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges, for squeezing over.

*store bought is readily available, but here is a link to hot-smoking salmon, you can make it yourself if you have the time.

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Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese

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This variation on traditional Mac ‘n’ Cheese is from Jamie’s Super Food family Classics. It’s a lighter version of the dish and is full of tasty veg in the form of butternut squash (pumpkin), so it’s very healthy!

I have included Jamie’s recipe with only some slight tweakings here. I made the recipe without the crumbs and popped beans topping, adding a few seeds and basil leaves as garnish.

The photos I took are of a HALF quantity – which was a pretty gernerous dish. The recipe below is for the FULL quantity.

Ingredients

l leek

1 onion

olive oil

1 butternut squash

1 heaped tbls plain wholemeal flour

500ml semi-skimmed milk

450g dried macaroni

2 tsp English mustard

300g cottage cheese 40g Parmesan cheese

For the topping

1x 400g tin of cannellini beans

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp dried red chilli flakes

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 slice of wholemeal bread

My topping

A handful of toasted seeds (pepitas, linseed, sesame or what ever you have in the store cupboard).

Basil leaves

Method

Wash and trim the leek, peel the onion, then finely chop and place in a pan on a medium heat with 1tablespoon of oil. Cook and stir while you carefully halve the squash lengthways and deseed, reserving the seedy core. Chop the squash into 2cm chunks, leaving the skin on, and stir into the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the flour, followed by the milk and 500ml of water. Simmer with a lid ajar for 35 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Parboil the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then drain and tip back into the pan. Carefully pour the contents of the veg pan into a food processor and blitz until smooth (working in batches, if necessary) to make your sauce. Taste and season to perfection, then pour over the pasta, add the mustard and cottage cheese, finely grate over most of the Parmesan and mix well. Transfer to a high-sided baking dish (30cm x 40cm), then grate over the remaining Parmesan. Bake for around 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

For Jamie’s crumbs and popped beans:

With 15 minutes to go, drain the beans, then toast and dry fry them in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until popped, shaking occasionally. Peel the garlic and put in the processor with the chilli  flakes, seedy squash  core,  rosemary  leaves  and  bread  and  blitz  into  crumbs.  Add to the beans, then toast and toss until crisp and gnarly. Serve the pasta with the toasted beans and crumbs on the side. Good with a lemon-dressed salad.

For my topping:

Serve with a handful of toasted seeds scattered on top and a few basil leaves.

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Nectarine, Zucchini and Apple Muffins

 

img_5282img_5280Here’s another riff on my latest muffin recipe, Matt Stone’s beautiful Greenhouse Muffins from his book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste”, see here to buy the book.

Matt’s recipe uses carrots and apple. I substituted zucchini (courgettes) for the carrot, and added nectarine slices inside the mix and also as decoration on the top.

Ingredients

4 eggs

280g raw sugar

200g zucchini unpeeled and grated

1 apple unpeeled and grated

1 nectarine chopped into small pieces

150ml vegetable oil

100g nuts, roughly chopped –  pecans, walnuts, almonds would be good. I used pecans.

300g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

Topping

50g cold butter

70g plain flour

50g rolled oats

50g sunflower seeds

3 tsp honey

1 nectarine cut into thin slices

Method

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl until they are frothy. Slowly pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size. Whisk in the zucchini , apple, oil and nuts. Using a spatula,  gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Lastly gently fold in the nectarine pieces.

The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats and seeds and mix well, then mix in the honey to create a crumble-type mixture.

Grease a 12-hole standard muffin tin and line the holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture and press it down to the level of the tin.

Cover the top of the muffins with the crumble  topping and place 2 or 3 nectarine slices on top of the crumble. Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. After  15 minutes check the muffins using a skewers and test  for “doneness”. My experience has been that they will need another  5-10 minutes, so keep checking until you are sure they are cooked.

When done, take the muffins out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Then finish cooling on a wire rack. They keep fine in their paper wraps, making them easy to store  and transport.

 

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Summer Breakfast Trifles

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Here’s another easy, healthy and really delicious way to start the day off – breakfast trifles!

I love breakfast – I think it’s my favourite meal of the day. And I love cereals and grains, and I make batches of muesli and granola, switching the ingredients to suit the mood or the weather! Nuts and seeds feature strongly in the mix. It’s great to add in fresh fruit, whatever is in season.

So breakfast trifles are the logical extension of the muesli/granola idea. They’re easy to make as they need no preparation, and can be portable if you make them in jars instead of glasses.  I have been inspired by some recipes from Jamie Oliver in his Everday Superfood  and Superfood Family Classics, where he layers goodies in glasses for visually appealing and very tasty breakfasts.

So here are 3 ideas you can do really easily and quickly. They’re designed around the wonderful summer fruit in season in Sydney now – berries of all kinds, stone fruit, mango and figs. You don’t have to do any preparation, but as an alternative, you could lightly toast the nuts and seeds in a frying pan to bring out their flavour.

You can make and eat straight away, or keep in the fridge for a couple of days. They will soften up a bit, kind of like bircher muesli.

Here is a guide to putting these trifles together. Nothing too prescriptive, feel free to layer in any way you like.

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Ingredients

Fresh fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, mango

Nuts – macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios

Seeds – pumpkin, linseed, poppy, sesame, chia

Rolled oats

No fat yoghurt

Raw honey

Method

Layer sturdy glasses or glass jars with ingredients. I started with fruit pieces, then nuts, seeds and oats, and more fruit. Finish with a dollop of yoghurt and drizzle a little honey over the top.

My fruit combos, photographed here, are – mango apricot and fig; peach, nectarine, fig and raspberry; blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry.

To serve, eat straight from the glass or jar, or you can loosen the mixture with a little milk if you like.

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