Tag Archives: Quick

Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

As much as I revere convenience in all its forms, I don’t understand shop bought tomato pasta sauces. I will admit to having lived off these for years, but when I started creating my own, the jars became such an unbearable let down. Expensive, dull and packed full of salt.

The sheer simplicity of tomato sauce creation is not beyond anyone – it is practically impossible to get wrong.

(Apart from that time I fancied myself quite the Michelin chef and, in a seasoning fervour, over-oreganoed to the point of inedible – the beans on toast that night were particularly sour in my mouth.)

I serve this with garlic bread, homemade, with real butter – the pasty, soggy rolls from the supermarket don’t even come close.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 tin chopped tomatoes with basil
1 large red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 or 2 red chilli
2 dessert spoons tomato purée
2 or 3 dessert spoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons pepper
Salt to taste

Garlic bread
3 cloves garlic
100g butter
Bread rolls

Fresh pasta (much better than dried)
Cheese

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the red onion finely and fry gently in real butter until soft. (Or, if making vegan, use olive oil)

2) Add all the other ingredients. See, I told you this was simple.

3) Bring to boil, and turn down heat to low. Let this cook away until the sauce has reduced by a third.

4) While it’s simmering, mash about 100g butter with the 3 other cloves of garlic, chopped really finely, and spread this generously onto the bread rolls. (Again, if cooking vegan, use olive oil)

5) Wrap in little packets of tin foil, and put into the oven at 200 degrees. They’ll take about 20 minutes. Open the packet and let the edges crisp up for a few minutes.

6) This is when my favourite part happens – taste your sauce. Think about the flavours, now that they’ve intensified, and how you can improve them. Generally, I add a little more balsamic and pepper. There’s no point in following a recipe word for word when everyone’s palate is different. I love black pepper – it makes up about a quarter of every dish I make – and I drink balsamic vinegar from the bottle at any given opportunity. You may love chilli or salt – I don’t know, I am not you – but be flexible and adapt the recipe to your needs.

7) Dump the cooked pasta into the pan, mix, and serve with cheese.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

Chicken Cashew Nut

Some day I will manage to recreate the perfection that is Koh’s Chicken Cashew nut, but until then I have to make do with my (more than) adequate stand in.

I’ve been adding to and modifying this recipe for about six months and I’ve finally reached a point at which it has become a regular dish on my dinner rotation. It’s very simple, and easily edited to suit mushroom lovers or chilli haters or people who think onion is the devil’s food. However, I’ve yet to discover a stand in for oyster sauce so, to the vegetarians out there, I ask you – what do you use?

Ingredients (Serves 2/3)

300g chicken
3 dessert spoons corn flour
1 teaspoon rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Vegetable oil
1 pepper
150g baby corn
1 onion

4 dessert spoons oyster sauce
5 dessert spoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large chilli, chopped finely
2 teaspoons black pepper
Chunk of ginger (6-10cm, depending on your tastes), grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
Half teaspoon sesame oil

Handful of cashews per serving
Cous cous/Rice

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the chicken into bite-sized chunks, and add the rice wine and corn flour.

2) Fry the chicken until fully cooked through with 2 dessert spoons vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

3) Remove the chicken from the pan.

4) Chop the vegetables.

5) Fry the onions until soft, add the corn and peppers.

6) In a bowl, mix 300ml of water with the oyster and soy sauces, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, chilli, black pepper, ginger, sesame oil and garlic.

7) Add chicken back into the pan, with the sauce.

8) Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes while toasting cashews in another pan – don’t add them to the sauce, or they get soft and mushy in your leftovers (if there are any!)

9) Serve with rice or cous cous – I always use cous cous, as there is a lot of sauce in this dish, and it soaks it up beautifully.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Bacon Pancakes

Saturday morning is my favourite time of the week; the whole weekend stretching far out in front of me, full of opportunities and possibilities for eating. It is a magical time, a time when I come up with some of my most genius of ideas.

The follow recipe, I feel, I will never be able to top. This will be the pinnacle of my life achievements and I’m fine with that. If there was some way to eat this dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner without getting morbidly obese, I would do it.

It’s possible I’ll do it anyway – I could just Skype into work…

Ingredients (Serves 2 hungry people or 3 normal people – makes 8 thick handsized pancakes)

6 slices bacon/300g bacon lardons
300g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
500ml buttermilk
50g butter
Maple syrup

Steps to deliciousness

1) Turn on oven to a low temperature – 50 degrees.

2) Fry bacon in a little oil until half cooked, and remove from the pan. Shred – It is easier than shredding them raw. Put back into pan until fully cooked. (Or fry lardons instead.)

3) Wipe pan, or use a new pan and put the butter in to melt.

4) Sieve flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt.

5) Crack eggs into a measuring jug. Beat with a fork for a minute.

6) Add buttermilk to the eggs, and beat.

7) Pour most of the liquid into the dry ingredients while whisking. You will end up with a thick, sloppy batter and probably won’t use all the buttermilk/egg.

8) Tip in the fried bacon, and most of the butter, and mix well.

9) Put two/three tablespoons of batter into each pancake.

10) The bacon will prevent the telltale bubbles from rising to the surface, so keep a close eye on the bottom, and when golden brown, flip the pancake
If you are me, the uncooked batter on top will go everywhere.

11) When cooked, place on a plate and into your warm oven. Add a little more butter to the pan, and start on the next batch.

12) Serve with maple syrup, and a steaming cup of hot coffee – and enjoy your Saturday morning.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Not-Vegetarian Vegetarian Chilli

Today I would like to talk to you about my chilli.

It does hurt me a little to send this recipe out by itself into the big scary unknown, but I need to stop being so selfish. You deserve to eat good food, and I am here to assist you in that.

I don’t like mince – I can’t remember the last time I willingly ate it outside burger form – so this is a (mostly) vegetarian chilli.

I find it particularly good piled high with cheese, sour cream and served with taco shells, or with cous cous.

Somehow, I inevitably manage to make even the healthiest of recipes into a cheese and carb fest through my serving suggestions – ignore me at your peril however; certain foods are simpy worth the calories!

For example, Aldi’s specially selected vintage cheddar is just beautiful – tangy, crumbly, creamy and tart, all for a ridiculously low price (€2.79 the last time I checked). It never lasts long in my fridge, and it is absolutely worth the lifetime of long, fat burning walks and short, heart clearing jogs that await me.

And, on to the chilli! Due to the size of the tins, it’s difficult to halve this recipe. But it freezes fantastically well, and microwaves in a few minutes.

Ingredients (for 6)

2 peppers
1 onion
5 garlic cloves
2.5 teaspoons of squeezy chilli. This is equal to about 2 chillis – stick in more if you like it hot, as this is a mild.
3 dessert spoons of vegetable oil

1 tin kidney beans
2 small tins of corn (400g in total)
1 tin black eyed beans
1 tin butter beans
2 tins of chopped tomato
1 small tin tomato puree

2 beef stock cubes dissolved in a half tin of hot water – Use vegetable stock cubes for vegan chilli.
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of coriander
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
3 teaspoons of cocoa
2 teaspoons of black pepper
3 second “glug” of soy sauce

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the onions, peppers, and garlic,

2) Saute the onions in vegetable oil until softened. Then add the peppers, onion, garlic, and chilli.

3) Let this simmer away for a few minutes until the peppers start to look really bright in colour.
4) At this point add.. well, everything else!

If you’ve bought the tinned beans with the pull lids, washing them is so simple – Half open the tin and let it drain. Fill it with water and let it drain. Repeat, then dump in pan!



5) Leave simmering (bubbles lazily and slowly coming to the surface) for as long as you want. I generally cook for about 45 minutes before eating. It will reduce a little, and darken slightly in colour in this time.

6) I recommend eating half of it from the pot, as I normally do.

I do not have a nice picture of how I usually serve this, as “I don’t care, all over my face, as long as some of it gets in my mouth” is apparently not an acceptably classy serving method.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Chicken à la King

Or, as someone who tried this recipe recently put it, “Chicken à la fookin’ delish”.

This is my ultimate comfort food – quick to make, tastes great with fresh bread, and absolutely packed with butter – A ‘recipe’ for success, if I ever heard one.

It’s the very first dish I learned to cook from the wonderful Mammy, as I loved it so much, and I make it every Christmas day for my family. It is gorgeously creamy, and can easily be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken for extra vegetables, and the stock for vegetable stock.

Ingredients (for 4)

3 Chicken breasts
1 or 2 peppers
1 or 2 onions
(These quantities can be changed, depending on your taste – I used 3 chicken breasts, 1.5 peppers and 1 onion, for 4 people)

Vegetable oil
50g Butter
Three/four dessert spoons white, plain flour
Three quarters of a pint Chicken stock (1 stock cube)
Half pint Milk
Three dessert spoons of mayonnaise
Pepper

Rice/Cous cous/bread/quinoa – whatever you want to serve it with. I love a little rice, and some crispy bread.

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the onions and peppers.
2) Sweat the onions in 25g butter on a low heat until the smell in your kitchen makes your mouth water (and the onions are transparent – this is clearly less important)

(Make sure to peek..)

And finally, they will look like this

3) Add peppers.
4) Chop the chicken, and fry in small batches in vegetable oil, as you are cooking the vegetables. You could bake these also, if you wanted to reduce the calories (PAH!)

5) Add another 25g butter to the peppers and onions, once the peppers are cooked (this is not exact – it depends on how much sauce you want – you could increase this, increase the flour, and increase the stock/milk mix to give more sauce. However, this will lead to you being incredibly impolite, and lifting your bowl to pour the remaining sauce into your mouth. It’s ok – I won’t judge)

6) Add flour until the butter is soaked up – generally, for my quantities, this is 3/3.5 spoons. The picture below will give you a good idea of what this looks like. Depending on the freshness of the onion/pepper, this changes a little bit from time to time. Do not stress about this – this can be fixed later!

7) Dissolve a chicken stock cube in three quarters of a pint of hot water. Add the half pint of milk.
8) Throw this into the pan with the vegetables, and stir with the joy that comes from knowing dinner is almost ready.

9) Bring to the boil, then back down to simmer to thicken. Add the chicken.

(My favourite moment of this recipe is when it turns from the picture above into the picture below)

10) If you didn’t add enough flour at 6), you can add a little more now (if the sauce isn’t starting to thicken up after a couple of minutes). You’ll need to be careful to avoid lumps, so use a sieve (Fishing around with a fork to break them up delays dinner which no one, least of all me, appreciates), and then bring back to the boil again to get rid of the floury flavour, and then straight back down to simmer.

11) Season with a good amount of pepper – there’s plenty of salt in the stock.
12) Finally, turn off the heat, and add your mayonnaise just before you serve. Depending on your taste, add more or less mayo – I use a good three or four heaped dessert spoons. Try adding two, and tasting to see how you feel about it.

Last year for Christmas, my plate looked so nice, I took a picture – This is the finished product, in all its tasty glory.

Tagged , , , , , , ,