10 min vegetable stir fry

I’d love some more noodle and stir fry recipes that don’t just taste of soy sauce. I’ve got two staples – a yummy cold rice noodle salad with chicken, lettuce and coriander (I’ll post this soon as it makes a great packed lunch), and a 10 min stir fry which is also tasty but does taste quite a bit of soy sauce.

IMG_5481

More importantly, Lexie loves it and will eat up a whole rainbow of vegetables when we have it. You can make this with any veg you want and, as most kids are very happy with lots of rice and a few slivers of each veg, a little goes a long way. It would also be easy to add meat to this. I’ve added a variation at the end with a simple marinade for beef, pork or chicken that works well.

10 min vegetable stir fry

Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 5 mins with noodles, 10 mins with rice
Budget: Usually less than £5
Ease: Easy
Serves: 2
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper sliced
  • 1/2 courgette, sliced
  • 2 sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 sliced carrot – in rounds or slivers
  • 2 or 3 tbsp sunflower oil (or groundnut/peanut but not olive oil)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 or 3 tbsp soy sauce (we use reduced salt soy sauce for Lexie)
  • A little chicken stock (fresh or from good quality stock cube) or water
  • Sherry (optional and I usually leave this out)
  • Chopped coriander (optional)

Heat the sunflower oil to quite a high heat in the pan and add the garlic and ginger. Sizzle for a few seconds then add the veg. Cook on a high heat for 30 seconds, turning the veg lightly with a spatula. (I usually add all the veg at the same time but the rule of thumb is to add veg in the order of hardness. So add veg like carrot and broccoli first for 30 seconds – 1 minute (you can parboil for a minute first but I don’t), then peppers/courgettes/onions for another 30 seconds, followed lastly by mushrooms.)

Then add a splash of sherry if using. Sizzle this down then add a splash of soy sauce. If not using sherry just go straight to adding the soy sauce. Cook for a minute and the sauce will also reduce and when it does add a little chicken stock or water to make it all more saucey. Keep cooking the veg for a couple more minutes – approx 2 mins for an authentic stir fry (veggies with a bit of bite) but it doesn’t matter if it cooks for longer and is soft. Once you’re happy with the veg, turn the heat off and add the coriander. That’s it! Serve with rice or noodles.

  • Meat marinade: Mix 2-3 tbsp groundnut oil, 2-3 tbps soy sauce, 1 tbsp honey, 1 minced garlic clove, a knob of peeled and grated ginger. Add thin strips of either chicken, pork or beef to the mixture and marinade, covered, for 30 mins. Stir fry the meat before the veg for about 3 minutes (or until done to your taste), then set aside to rest while you fry the veg in the same pan, adding a little more oil, garlic and ginger before the veg.

In other news all three of us have had a haircut! We’re off to the Basque country for a holiday and to celebrate my mum’s 80th birthday with her family. So we wanted to look respectable. Lexie absolutely loved having her hair cut. It was the first time she had a blow dry and she remembered she’d get a sticker and gold coin too! For some reason my bump looks quite small, but it isn’t! Definitely feel like I’m almost in the 3rd trimester!

Lex hair cutlex happy 2happy hairhair me

Advertisements

Lexie’s tomato rice

I was going to call this ‘Basque vegetable stew’ – sounds a bit better than marrow stew which essentially what it is. Then Lexie started calling it ‘tomato rice’ which is a much better name. This is sort of a ratatouille, sort of a piperade and I remember my mum teaching me how to make it.

IMG_5751

Lexie is going through a weird hardly eating anything at all phase – literally three mouthfuls and she says she’s done. It’s quite challenging! But she really loves her ‘tomato rice’ and yesterday actually asked for it so I thought I’d share the recipe here. We always have it with rice and fried eggs. It’s really easy to make with kids – Lex slices the veg and pours the tomatoes into the pan, she loves stirring the pot and also helping to fry the egg (we gently break the egg into a bowl then she pours it into the pan and I fry it). Make a big batch of this on the weekend and you’ve got an instant veggie packed meal ready to go for the rest of the week.

IMG_5840

(I need to update this post with some pics of said tomato rice. Until I do here are some pics of Lex in her new little Indian girl outfit. She’s very keen on a Peppa Pig themed birthday party this year… erm…. so I preempted and bought her this costume. Success! She loves it and now wants a Cowboys and Indians theme. Am I a bad mother because I don’t want her to have a Peppa Pig party?)

Lexie’s tomato rice

Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour
Budget: £5 (£1.50 peppers, £1 marrow, £1 tinned tomatos, £1.50 eggs)
Ease: Easy
Serves: 6
Ingredients:

  • 1 marrow or 2 big courgettes – cut in half and sliced into crescents
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove sliced garlic
  • 2 tins of tomatos, drained
  • 1 chicken or veg stock cube and water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar (equal to salt so maybe 1 tsp)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Chopped parsley
  • Rice
  • Eggs
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Fry the onions gently in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan or casserole dish for 10 minutes. Make sure they don’t brown and season with salt to help release the onion’s juices, as my mum always says. Then add the peppers and fry for another 10 mins. Then add the marrow and fry for another 10 minutes before adding the drained tins of tomatoes, sliced garlic, bay leaf, stock cube and water. Add a little more salt and the equivalent sugar. Cook partially covered for 30 mins – 1 hour until you are happy with it. Sprinkle on the fresh parsley and serve with rice and fried eggs and some nice bread to mop up the juices. This tastes better the next day and keeps well in the fridge for about a week.

IMG_5768

Steak tacos/burritos

A long hiatus I know. I’m about 4 months pregnant and my first trimester saw me completely reject ‘screens’ – no blog, no instagram, no facebook. This would have been a Very Good Thing were I not sick as a dog. Thankfully it passed early, around 8 weeks, and I’m having a lovely pregnancy now, very mellow and relaxed. I’m also back on fish in a big way! So happy about this as I went off seafood massively when pregnant with Lexie. With her all I wanted was cheese and ham toasties, burgers and pies!

IMG_4041

This baby seems to want citrus, chilli and fish and I’m really craving Mexican food. So far I’ve made carnitas which I’ll share another day (I roasted pork belly instead of braising pork leg – nice but I’d like to try the braised version), yummy fish tacos and my current fave – these delicious steak tacos.

IMG_4251

The recipe (and pic above) is from Mexican Food Made Simple (though I do my own fresh tomato salsa and guacamole and add to the refried beans). I’m not a huge fan of the Wahaca restaurants but so far all the recipes I’ve made from this book have been good. I love the refried beans in particular. Even though the steak is marinated with chilli it isn’t spicy and was fine for my toddler to eat. I tend to do one chilli free salsa for Lexie and give her slices of avocado, which she prefers, instead of guacamole. It’s also good to serve with some fresh orange juice (or a mix of orange and grapefruit juice which I love with ice and sprigs of mint!) as vitamin C helps to absorb the iron from the meat.

IMG_4215

This is not a ‘use up the cupboard’ dinner and there are some specialist Mexican ingredients worth buying. Also, as there are a few salsas and sides to make, it’s best prepped with napping children, or on the weekend when the adult:child ratio improves! It’s a ‘lots of little bowls’ on the table meal so bear this in mind if you don’t fancy washing lots of dishes after!

I think it’s the most complicated recipe I’ve ever written up due to all the components. Tacos are definitely quicker than the burritos and I often make a much simplified version of this recipe with just steak, spring onions, fresh tomato salsa and guacamole – takes about 30 mins, no specialist ingredients needed and totally delicious so please don’t feel overwhelmed by this long recipe! There is an easier way to make it!!

If you want to go the whole shebang I recommend printing this off (print button should be below) and reading it with a cold beer a week before you make it! Preferably listening to this soundtrack. And definitely make the chipotle salsa and beans in advance. As faffy as it is making all these sides, because some of them keep well, they do make instant other meals (nachos or just rice with refried beans/salsa/cheese/sour cream etc) so it’s nice having them in the fridge.

IMG_4194

Sorry there are no pictures of the actual meal – it’s my first post in ages and I’m a bit slow on the take – I’ll update with real photos when I next make this. Instead here are nice pictures of Lexie enjoying this summer. I feel like I should write an update on her and what we’ve been up to but this is a long recipe so I’ll let the photos speak for us!

IMG_3687

Steak tacos

Steak

  • 600g butterfly cut onglet steak – we got this from the butcher. Original recipe calls for thin skirt steaks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 finely chopped chilli de arbol
  • Salt and pepper

Refried beans (optional)

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped white onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 chile de arbol chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander stalks or 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano

Then either a tin of black beans (or any beans – pinto/borlotti are good and taste great refried) OR cooked black beans. If doing the cooked version

  • 250g dried black beans 
  • 4 bashed cloves of garlic
  • A few sprigs of thyme (optional – I’ve never used)
  • A few bay leaves
  • A little chicken or veg stock (1/2 cube)
  • Espazote (comes with this black bean kit) (optional, I’ve made delicious beans without it)
  • 1 onion cut in 1/4s
  • 1 tbsp salt

Chipotle salsa (this is amazing!!) (optional)

  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 2 cloves unpeeled garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 white onion in 1/4s
  • 1 or 2 tbsp chipotles en adobo

Fresh tomato salsa (optional)

  • 4 chopped vine or plum tomatos
  • 1/2 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 chopped spring onion
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • 1 chopped birdseye chilli (red or green or both!) (omit for kiddies)
  • Olive oil to taste – 2 tbsp approx
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lime to taste

Guacamole

  • 1 or 2 mashed ripe avocados
  • 1 sliced spring onion
  • 1 chopped green birdseye chilli (optional)
  • Olive oil to taste (maybe 1 tbsp)
  • Lime juice to taste (maybe 1/2 lime)
  • Salt to taste

(A speedy guacamole is just to mash avocado and add a tablespoon or two of the fresh tomato salsa and mix. Or just have slices of avocado a la Lexie.)

Other ingredients

  • Corn tortillas – little ones for tacos, big ones for burritos (most supermarkets sell tortillas)
  • Sour cream
  • Grated cheddar cheese (medium cheddar is good) (optional)
  • Limes
  • Chopped coriander
  • White basmati rice (optional)
  • 6 spring onions sliced into 3cm lengths
  • Kitchen towel paper

Marinate the steak in the olive oil, garlic, orange juice, chilli and seasoning for 30 mins. If having rice make it now. Prepare all the salsas and sides. The chipotle salsa and the refried beans can be made in advance as both keep well in the fridge. The guacamole and fresh tomato salsa should be prepared from scratch now. Here’s how!

For the chipotle salsa get a heavy bottomed pan and dry roast the tomatoes, onion and garlic for about 15 mins. They should blacken and keep turning them. When done, squeeze the garlic out of the skins and put in a blender along with tomatoes and onion. Add the chipotles en adobo and whizz. Put into a bowl and add the chopped coriander, salt and lime to taste. This salsa will keep for a few days to a week in the fridge and it’s bloody lovely.

For the refried beans, heat the oil in a pan and soften the onion and garlic with the spices. After 5-10 mins add the beans with either some of the cooking water, or a little water if using a can, and mush some of the beans with a masher to thicken the sauce. Season and taste. Add a little chicken or veg stock if it needs it. This will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

(If not using canned beans, soak the black beans overnight. Drain and rinse then place the beans in a pan covered in about 10cm of water. Add the garlic, herbs and onion, bring to the boil and skim off any scum on the surface. Simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours. Add salt to taste when the beans are done not before or it will toughen the beans up.)

For the fresh salsa and guacamole literally combine all the ingredients for each and mix. I usually do this in jars to save on having 90 bowls on the table and both will keep for a day in the fridge (but not longer really).

Once all the salsas and sides are done assemble the other ingredients. Chop coriander, slice limes, grate the cheese and open the sour cream. Warm the tortillas either by lightly dry frying each one on both sides for a few mins or by wrapping all of them in foil and placing in a warm oven for 5 mins.

Heat a griddle or heavy bottomed pan until smoking hot and add olive oil. Chop the spring onions, season with salt and pepper and put on the hot pan. Pat the steak dry with kitchen towel and add to the pan. Sear for a minute on both sides (90 secs max – this cut of beef can toughen up but is very tender if cooked quickly and served rare). Leave the beef to stand for a minute on a warm plate and finish cooking the spring onions. When done remove the onions and put on the steak plate, adding the reserved steak marinade to the pan, sizzling it up then pour into a separate bowl. Slice the steak into bite size pieces cutting across the grain. Then either add to the marinade or serve separately.

Make sure everything is on the table and then finally….. to assemble!

If having a taco place a little steak and marinade in the middle of the tortilla and dollop on top the spring onions, guacamole, chipotle salsa, sour cream and fresh coriander (you can add cheese too – I don’t). Roll up the tortilla like a wrap or fold in half making a half moon and enjoy!

If having a burrito add a little rice to the tortilla then top with steak, spring onions, guacamole, salsa, cheese and sour cream. Make a little parcel by folding in the outside edges (so tuck in the top and bottom sides then tuck in the side sides!). Roll over and eat or toast for a few minutes in a dry pan and then eat!

Serve with slices of fresh lime, ice cold beer or juice. I think slices of watermelon make a great pudding after these tacos/burritos.

IMG_4010

A spring risotto for Poppy and Lexie

Poppy is one of Lexie’s very few ‘younger’ friends. My daughter definitely likes the older kids! They probably get on because they are both born wrigglers who never ever sit still. It’s pretty hard to find a picture of these two that isn’t blurry.

IMG_1172

IMG_1171

IMG_2287

Both of them love risotto so whenever they have dinner together either Katie, Poppy’s mum, or I make it (although sometimes, to avoid cooking we take them to the Tate Modern for the brilliant £3 kids fish and chips).

IMG_4313

All the magnolias and camelias are in full bloom right now. It’s so beautiful and makes me so happy. I’ve been filling our flat with camelias and visiting my mum in Chelsea which is awash with bursting magnolias. In honour of all this blossom and Poppy and Lexie’s budding friendship, here is a simple risotto for spring.

IMG_0676

IMG_0621

Kids love risotto – it’s so easy for them to eat and ideal for little ones who are weaning as the rice sticks to the spoon and their fingers. Risotto is a great vehicle for lots of different veg – I’ve added some variations to this recipe at the end. Making this I listened to the Jungle Book’s I wanna be like you. Poppy and Lexie are such little monkeys and it seemed apt given how the littler ones always want to be just like the bigger kids.

IMG_0564

IMG_1127

Simple spring risotto

Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Budget: £5 (£2 bacon, 60p leek, £1.50 parsley)
Ease: easy
Serves 2

  • 1/2 sliced leek
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 2 rashers chopped bacon
  • 1 clove sliced garlic
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • Handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • Risotto rice
  • Chicken stock cube
  • Grated parmesan

DSC_0668

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the onion, bacon, leek and garlic and sweat for about 10 mins on a gentle heat. Add the risotto rice and start introducing the stock. For proper risotto I add a splash of wine and let it sizzle down before adding the stock a cupful at a time, stirring the risotto all the time. But for this version I just chuck a stock cube in and top up with hot water from the kettle every 5 mins or so, stirring it a bit. After 15 mins add the frozen peas. The risotto should be done after about 20 mins. Stir in the parsley and serve with grated parmesan.

DSC_0681

  • A classic risotto is mushroom. Fry onion, bacon and garlic as per above. Add the rice and stock and after 10 mins add the sliced mushrooms. Nice with lots of parsley.
  • I often make risotto with leftover roast chicken. Same recipe as above and add the leftover chicken 5 mins before serving.
  • I love courgette and pea risotto – the same recipe as above maybe leaving out the leek and adding the courgettes after 10 mins of cooking. This is nice with basil and/or a tiny bit of fresh chopped mint.
  • I also really love asparagus risotto – same recipe as above (except I don’t usually do bacon with asparagus risotto, not sure why), adding chopped asparagus after 10 mins of cooking.
  • Butternut squash risotto is popular but not really my cup of tea and Lex doesn’t like squash but I thought I’d mention it for inspiration.

IMG_0641

Basque piperade with eggs

There are so many nights when I still don’t know what to make us for dinner. Yesterday was another day where the fridge was bare and it was too late to pop to the shops. The only fresh ingredients I had were eggs and some peppers.

DSC_0577

pepper

Omelettes never feel very substantial and scrambled eggs on toast I reserve for when I’m completely out of time. Egg fried rice was an option but I kept thinking about a recipe for baked eggs with tomato and chilli my friend Dani recommended. I didn’t have chilli but was reminded of Basque piperade – a tomato sauce with peppers – that I did have the ingredients for.

DSC_0686

Piperade goes with lots of things – cod, chicken – but in our family we always had it with rice and fried eggs. My mum made this for me a lot growing up but I associate it more with my aunty Consuelo, herself a mother of 5. My mother Carmen, Consuelo and their little sister Feli were known as the Brigitte Bardot sisters such was the resemblance – three blonde bombshells! (See the pic above – my mum is in stripes with Consuelo behind her – I need to find some more pics of them!). They are wonderful cooks, even now they are in their 80s with arthritis ravaged fingers, the food they produce is incredible (I’ve a vivid memory of watching my aunty last year expertly joint a chicken with a machete and she still pulls off a 6 course Christmas dinner for 15!!).

This is a tasty recipe that’s quick and easy to make and very cheap. I’ve used my mum’s recipe with no paprika or pimenton (spicy paprika) because we don’t really like the smoky taste. I’ve asked my cousin to send me my aunty’s version which I’ll add here when it arrives and another time I’ll share a very similar recipe for courgette or marrow that is just wonderful. Lexie loved it – she loooves fried eggs so much so anything that is a vehicle for them goes down well with her.

DSC_0669

Basque piperade with eggs

Serves 4
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 20-30 mins
Budget: £5 (£1.80 eggs, £1.50 peppers, £1.50 parsley)
Ease: easy

  • 1 or 2 tins of whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 white onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • Rice
  • 4 eggs
  • A little sunflower oil – the amount you use to fry eggs, we use quite a lot

Put enough rice on to cook for 4 people. I use the cup method – one cup of rice to two cups of water, stir once, bring to the boil then cover and reduce the heat, leave simmering for 10 mins. Check the rice is done and if it is then turn the heat off and cover the saucepan with a clean tea towel with the pan lid on top to seal it tightly shut. My Spanish flatmate taught me this – apparently the tea towel helps absorb moisture. Even without a tea towel it’s good to let the rice rest off the heat for another 10 mins and it will sit happily for longer, steaming away making the rice all perfect. Another very Spanish way to cook rice is to fry a bit of chopped garlic in olive oil in the saucepan, then adding the dried rice and tossing it about in the oil before adding the water then cooking as above.

While the rice is cooking, heat a generous amount of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan (i.e. Le Creuset). Add the onion and a little salt and fry gently for 10 mins. You can make a piperade with a sofrito base (slow cooked onion for ages) but traditionally all the veg is cooked quickly and retains a bit of bite which I prefer. Add the peppers and garlic then fry for another 5 mins. Then add 1 tin of tomatoes or 2 sieved tins of tomatoes according to preference (in Spain we always sieve tinned tomatoes), add the bay leaf, a pinch of salt and a tsp of sugar and bubble away for a few minutes. Bring the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 20 mins or until you are happy with the sauce. Add a little water or wine or stock if it’s drying out. 5 mins before you want to serve it add the fresh parsley.

Around the time you add the parsley start cooking your eggs. I can manage 2 at a time, no more than that so do batches – kids first for example so their meal can cool a little while you cook yours. Our method is to heat some sunflower oil to a high temperature (but not spitting) in a non-stick frying pan with one peeled garlic clove. Break the egg into the frying pan and reduce the heat immediately – it should sizzle when it hits the pan and the white should bubble up. Salt then fry until you are happy with it, baste with a bit of the oil if you like. Discard the garlic! It’s only there to flavour the oil.

To serve we’ve always put the rice and sauce separately on a plate with the fried egg on top and some fresh baguette or white bread to dip into the egg and mop up the delicious juices!

DSC_0649