Vegetable Noodle Bowl

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Delicious light soupy supper.

Fry thinly sliced broccoli, 1 garlic clove, sliced baby corn, and sliced red peppers in a tablespoon of light vegetable oil and a splash of sesame oil. After about 1 minute add a litre of vegetable stock and a level tablespoon of chilli flakes.

Bring to boil and add Chinese noodles- I used dehydrated noodles. Cook according to packet instructions, add a large handful of roasted salted cashews. Before serving top with fresh diced spring onion. I would have added coriander also if I had any.

Serve with soy sauce and sweet chilli to taste.

This takes 10 minutes or less to make. Great midweek supper.

B-G’s de-chillied version was also a huge hit.

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French Family Food – an experiment Part 1

Naturally,being a food obsessive, I love reading other blogs and gaining an insight into other worlds of food.  I was recently involved in a discussion with friends where we talked about the different types of lunch that school children enjoy around the world. That led me to the article  http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/school-lunches-around-the-world-10054568.html

In the rather meandering way that I pootle around the net I then came across this blog and was riveted.

https://karenlebillon.com/tag/french-kids-school-lunch-project/

The whole concept of what are apparently typical school lunches in France fascinated me. Raw vegetables, a main,a cheese course and fresh fruit. I am on an endless quest  to get real, nourishing food down B-G and so with H-G’s eager acquiescence I decided that for a week we would experiment with eating in a prescribed ‘French Family Way’. We would enjoy a raw veg starter; a main with veg on the side, cheese and fresh fruit as a pudding. We would eat together at the table as a family with water to drink and candles. Dinner would be a slow, relaxed, family affair. No matter how busy our days had been, our family meal would be a punctuation in the day. As a starting point though our portion sizes had to be drastically curtailed as there was simply no way we could eat 3 courses daily otherwise. For our Monday main course of chicken paprika for the three of us I would usually cook 2 and a half chicken breasts. This time I cooked 1 chicken breast in total and that made three meals comfortably.

 

Monday.

Menu:

Starter – tomatoes with cucumber yoghurt sauce.

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Main- Chicken and red pepper paprika with rice

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Cheese course and dessert -1 small triangle Camembert with sliced apple.

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B-G ate the tomatoes and dabbed at the sauce. He ate the all the rice,some of the chicken and left the peppers.He ate his apple, nibbled at his Camembert and ate his small sliver of cheddar that I had put on his plate. I was exceptionally pleased with this, as he is usually quite conservative in his approach to food, and the attempt at the Camembert in particular pleased me hugely. We usually eat a single meal each evening, with the occasional pudding of fruit and yoghurt. While we do eat at the table a few times a week-mostly at the weekends it has to be said- B-G initially found it hard sitting at the table for what ended up being a solid 45 minutes rather than the 20 or so minutes we are used to. However by the cheese and fruit course he had relaxed and had started to volunteer snippets about his school day and his teachers.

Tuesday

Starter – raw mushroom and lettuce salad with vinaigrette.(B-G had a honey mayonnaise dressing).

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Main – tagliatelle with prawns, chilli and fresh cherry tomatoes

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Cheese course and dessert -apples and camembert / cheddar.

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B-G was horrified at the raw mushrooms. It is more usually one of the ‘hidden vegetables’ that I have become used to sneaking into his food. He tried one bite.

We then ate our main course and B-G wolfed it down. This was delicious. I just gently heat a cup of olive oil, add prawns, one crushed garlic clove and a tablespoon of dried chillis. B-G had his version without the chillis. Just before serving I stir through diced raw cherry tomatoes.

One of the cats was also keen to partake in the cheese.

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Wednesday

Starter – radish and cucumber salad

Main- Salmon fillet baked with pesto, potatos and peas

Dessert – Vanilla ice cream

This radish salad is one of my all-time favourites. I just slice radishes, a spring onion and mix with sour cream a little bit of salt and black pepper. Today I also added cucumber just because. This is perfect on a very heavy dark Eastern European bread. Delicious.

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The salmon fillet is easy, but tastes amazing. I just dollop a bit of pesto (from a jar) onto the raw fillet, wrap in foil and bake at 180 degrees celsius for 18 minutes. With buttered boiled potatos and peas this makes a gorgeous mid-week meal.

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B-G got a mid-week treat of vanilla ice cream while H-G and I again had apples and a sliver of cheese. It is only Day 3 and already B-G is learning to relax over his meal and that the aim is not to wolf it all down in 15 minutes flat before racing upstairs to watch The Simpsons.  Result!

[…. see Part 2 next week…..]

Chicken soup with Knaidlach

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I have just spent 4 days in London and one of the things I love doing is shopping for items it is hard to get on the Island. I was pretty excited when I saw this box of kneidl mix. Kneidl are dumplings that are traditionally used in chicken soup. Growing up, we were lucky to regularly dine with family friends who made extraordinary chicken soup with dumplings- but the dumplings were very much made from scratch and were exquisite.They were light, puffy and fluffy.  I have never tried to re-create them, but bought this box to see if I could approximate them even if only slightly.

The box contained dehydrated kneidl mix. You just add beaten egg.

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I love these free-range blue eggs. The shell is a very pale pastel blue and are produced by a breed called the Cream Legbar. I just love how pretty the colour is. It makes me happy.

You then mix the kneidl and egg together then roll into little balls.

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I made chicken soup just my standard. I almost always make chicken soup from the leftovers from when we have roast chicken. Just celery, onion and carrots and the chicken meat.

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This was the finished result.

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The chicken soup itself was very good, but the dumplings were a disappointment. They were tough, stodgy and hit the stomach like cement. A bit of a fail really. I looked up homemade dumplings and it seems that the light and fluffy texture is achieved by whipping egg whites and folding them into the mixture so I will try that at some point in the future.

Around the world in eighty recipes – Simple French Vegetarian supper

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French onion soup is comfort food at its best. For me it brings back memories of cold wintry Sunday afternoons. Finely slice 15 medium brown onions. Put a knob of butter and drizzle of olive oil into a soup pan. Gently cook the onions until they have started to really go a caramel brown. When they have reduced, add two teaspoons of sugar and cook. This whole process takes a good solid thirty minutes. When the sugar and onions have really started to caramelise, add 1.5 litres of really good quality vegetable or beef stock and 300 mls of dry sherry. Cover and simmer for another thirty minutes or so. This can be eaten straight away, but it is best to let it rest for several hours while the sweet oniony flavour develops.

It is pretty much essential to top a steaming bowl of soup with cheese croutons. I toasted a slice of fresh white french boule bread topped that with grated cheese and let this bubble under the grill.

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We then had omelette with fine herbs….. chives and thyme.

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This was followed by vanilla, raspberry and chocolate macaroons, and for H-G his homemade crab-apple vodka.

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Around the World in eighty recipes- English supper

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I am a proud Australian, and very proudly live in England with my English husband and English son. I love England and utterly, completely, madly,  adore living on the Isle of Wight.

Naturally I have developed a deep love for English food, literature, culture. I particularly love a quintessentially English picnic, and a traditional afternoon tea. I am not a fan of cucumber but I go weak at the knees at cucumber sandwiches. The bread has to be crustless and white, and the cucumbers peeled and sliced very very thin. Add lots of salt and a thin smear of butter and you have the food of the Gods.

One of the first ‘English’ dishes I made for my husband was when we were living abroad. He mentioned that his favourite ever supper dish was fish pie – just like how his mum used to make. I had never heard of fish pie,- I immediately thought that it would be like the curried scallop pies I adored in Australia – creamy spicy scallops encased in pastry. No, it was creamy fish topped with mashed potato. I downloaded the recipe from Delia Smith’s website and made fish pie, which naturally we served with peas.

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There are many recipes out there – some include capers or cornichons. Some use smoked fish. I very occasionally use one fillet of smoked haddock, but today I did not. My recipe was simple. I place 2 salmon fillets and 3 cod fillets into milk on the hob which I then heat until just about to boil. I then remove the fish and use the milk to make a white sauce. I then place the fish into a shallow oven dish, add the white sauce, a good double handful of cooked King Prawns and three boiled eggs which are sliced. This is then topped with mashed potato and cooked in the oven until hot and bubbling.

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We served this with peas and fresh broad beans.

We rarely-to-never eat puddings but for a classic English summer supper, it had to be Eton mess. Eton mess was apparently traditionally served at Eton college during the summer cricket matches. It is possibly the easiest pudding ever – just fresh strawberries layered with whipped cream and crushed meringue. Divine.

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Indonesian Coconut Curry with broccoli and tofu

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I have had this pack of Freedom Fresh coconut curry sitting in our larder since Christmas and decided that today was the perfect day to break it out for a delicious, nutritious and veggie-packed curry.

Freedom fresh sauces are nut free and dairy free. The Indonesian coconut curry contains tomatoes, coconut milk, coconut cream, onion, curry powder garlic and ginger.

http://www.freedomfresh.co.uk/

The simplest ever meal. Slice onions, broccoli and tofu. Add to pan, sautee and add sauce. Serve over rice.  This is so easy it is practically a ready meal. Yet was nourishing and tasty. It was mild enough to be suitable for Baby-Gusto’s conservative tastebuds also.

Frugal February – Shakshuka

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Every time I make this I wonder why I do not make it more often. Shakshuka makes the perfect quick and easy supper dish. In it’s simplest form it is just eggs poached in a spicy tomato and pepper sauce. I serve it with chopped coriander sprinkled over the top, crusty bread and butter.

Ingredients (serves two).

1 tablespoon vegetable oil- I used sunflower oil

1 brown onion diced very small

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 red pepper diced

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup red wine

1 bunch parsley

1 large bunch chopped coriander

vegetable stock cube

1 tbs chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin

4 free range eggs

Sautee onion and garlic in oil. Add cumin and chilli powder and cook lightly, don’t let it burn. Add diced red pepper and cook until soft. Add tinned tomatoes, chopped parsley, sugar, vegetable stock and wine and simmer until cooked through. At this point I turned off the heat and let the mixture sit for several hours so the flavours all came together. Just before you want to eat, turn the heat on again and simmer. Make 4 wells into the mixture and crack the eggs into the tomatoes. Cover with a lid and gently poach. When eggs lightly cooked, scatter with fresh coriander.

Tonight my choice was to make Shakshuka or omelettes. Shakshuka takes a little bit of chopping and simmering, but is somehow easier than watching over an omelette pan.Much more satisfying to eat too.