All posts filed under: Quick Meals

Chipotle Stew Chicken

Chipotle paste has joined the family of stable herbs and spices that I have in my cupboard. The deep rich, smoky chilli pepper just gets me excited! I add it to mayonnaise, bean stews, sauces, and now chicken. This recipe is a cross between another favourite of mine: brown stew chicken which is also on the blog. I didn’t have to leave the chicken very long to marinate before frying it: maybe 2-3 hours? Because I also used boneless chicken thighs, I think the flavours penetrated very quickly. Another important and fresh ingredient in this recipe is Annatto Powder. Annatto or Achiote Powder is a mexican spice which is used widely to give food a bright red colouring (think of tandoori chicken). It comes from the Achiote plant which bears seeds that are ground into this deep red powder. It has a mild sweet flavour. So if you want a fresh chicken recipe that leaves you licking the plate…try this one I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!      

Red Hummus Stuffed Chicken w/ Veg Spaghetti

Originally posted on Loretta's Kitchen:
Sometimes leftovers make the best meals: after making a batch of hummus, I wasn’t sure what else to use it for besides dipping tortilla chips into it. Then there were the left over carrots, aubergine and courgette from a quick vegetable roast I made a few days before. I hunted around for ideas and recipes but couldn’t find anything that really appealed to me: I found many recipes for chicken smothered in hummus, but I felt like that was a bit of a waste and wasn’t convinced the hummus would stick to the chicken while cooking. So in an effort to preserve all the great flavours of the paste and not to lose the vibrant colours and textures from the left over vegetables, I devised what was actually a very tasty dish. It really is less complicated then it looks.  Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This version does not disappoint – it’s full of flavor and wonderfully creamy. Hummus is a really versatile addition to your food pantry, which has sadly been relegated to dips, chips and wraps, so if you’re interested what else its good with, check out my next post:

Cheesy Chipotle Rice ‘n’ Beans

I have to thank my friend Hayley for the inspiration behind this recipe. Last month she asked me to come up with a couple of lunch box recipes for students, tired of limp sandwiches and luke-warm pasta bakes. I completely understood where she was coming from as I have the same dilemma for work lunches; she wanted something tasty, fresh and filling that didn’t look like a dogs dinner after day 3; cheap but not compromising on nutrition and quality. Yeah she wasn’t asking for much really ;-). I’m not a great fan of brown rice. I know many people who eat it religiously and preach about its benefits, but to me it always felt like more effort than it was worth, until I created this recipe. I strongly recommend the use of short grain brown rice: it retains its shape and has a slight nutty texture and taste to it which means it can stand the pressure of being tossed around in a pan without turning into mush like so many other rice grains do. …

White Chicken Chilli

I had no idea what a white chilli was until today. I had bought some chicken and really wanted to do something different with it. I also wanted an excuse to use the food processor I had recently bought (I make no apology, every other recipe will require a FP from now on!). That’s when I came across the ‘white chicken chilli’. I saw this as a great challenge – most eating is done with the eyes – vibrant colours and textures, so how can a recipe that looks and even sounds pretty bland still have as much punch as a regular chilli? If you google white chicken chilli, all the recipes involve shredding the chicken, leaving you with a pulpy, mushy stew. I really didn’t fancy that. So I thought may be I could try combining my curiosity of ground chicken with a white bean sauce. The result – juicy, tasty chicken meatballs in a cosy white bean sauce. I love it! I really do.

{Cheaters} Pilau Rice

  The good thing about using short grain brown rice in this recipe, besides its huge health benefits, is that unlike regular brown rice, short grain rice tends to retain its form and shape and can soak up a lot of flavour. It’s best for ‘one pot’ recipes like this where the rice takes quite a few knocks before being served; I find it it very difficult to over cook this rice surprisingly (see my pumpkin rice recipe as another example). To be really honest, I am not the greatest fan of brown rice unless its well seasoned; But when I have shared this dish with friends, no one really notices the substitute of brown rice – which is great! A great way to sneak in good food to you health-phobe mates! The great cheat in this is the Pilau seasoning. Looking at the ingredients on the bottle, I could probably replicate it, but sometimes you just want good food without the effort! And this seasoning tastes pretty authentic to me. For more information on the health benefits …

Crispy Sweet Potato Chips…Every time!

I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy crispy sweet potato chips until now. Sweet Potato has a very high water content which is why it can’t naturally achieve the crispy status of a regular chip…without some help from its little friend corn starch. The key to achieving ultimate crispiness is to eliminate moisture, so make sure you pat the potato sticks dry before adding the corn starch and seasoning and more or less toss them straight into the oven soon after that with only a drizzle of oil.

Tasty Tofu Burgers

To get the best results from the recipe, try to use the firmest tofu you can find. You can always replace the egg with 1/2 cup of ground flax seeds as this acts as a good binder to the mixture. These burgers can be grilled as well. The most important thing besides the taste is that they hold together well; the finer you chop up the nuts and mushrooms the better.  

Grilled Onions w/ Pomegranate Molasses

  Pomegranate molasses (also called grenadine molasses) is a staple in the countries of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. I recently discovered this syrup whilst trying to replicate this roasted red onion side dish which often accompanies meals in Turkish Restaurants here in London. I was surprised at how sour and tangy the molasses was given the sweet dry taste of a pomegranate. I would only recommend buying a small bottle at first (which can be purchased from most Middle Eastern shops). Once you get use to its flavour, I think it will become a stable in your pantry. You can use it as a substitute to honey for glazing meat, poultry or roasted root vegetables like carrots. But traditionally it’s used as a dressing in salads or relishes. To achieve the sweet and sour taste here, I added fresh pomegranate juice to take the edge off the molasses.      

Smokin’ Tuna Balls

  This was so last minute. I was out with some friends watching the first game of the World Cup in Brazil; I am infamously known for my disinterest in football, the only other time I pay it any attention is the Olympics…and then only if it happens to be on. So in the closing moments of the game, seeing that Croatia was going to have a hard time catching up with Brazil (3:1), I invited a friend to lunch. Come Friday after work, I strolled home having spent the last hour roaming the streets of Islington, clearing my mind from a frustrating week of work. As I was about to settle in for the night it hit me: you forgot about lunch.  I quickly scrambled down stairs and rummaged through the few ingredients that I had: tuna…potato…onions. On top of that I couldn’t recall whether or not she ate fish. Never mind I had to fix up something. The story of how these Tuna Balls were formed. Not everyone is a huge fan of tuna, and besides …

Roasted Sweet Potato w/ Tahini Garlic Sauce

The best part of making this dish was pulling out the tray of sizzling fresh herbs and olive oil, from out of the oven; it was like being hit in the face with a bunch of Sage and Thyme. It was with great excitement really, because I didn’t know what to expect: I had never combined these potatoes with this sauce before; this isn’t some glorified version of chips with fake garlic sauce from Mr Chippy on the High Street, oh no. All fresh. All real tasty. I tried the Tahini Garlic Sauce in salads during the week, and it worked very well. I think it should also work with other roasted vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. The sauce can stay fresh for 2-3 days only, in fact the garlic will become more pungent over time. Let me know what combinations you have tried recently (a photo would be nice!)

Bulgur Wheat Pilaf

  I’ve been trying to incorporate different grains into my diet given the bad press white rice has been getting of late for having no real nutritional content. Out of all the grains that I’ve tried, this is the one that has stuck: Bulgur Wheat has bundles more nutritional value than white rice, which virtually has no fibre in it. It also takes half the cooking time to prepare. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked away from a pot of rice and come back to a bowl of porridge or where the grains are jellied together so much, I would have to either scoop or slice may way through it. Bulgur wheat however, does not need as much TLC, it can be left to stand alone in a bowl of hot water and unlike rice I find works well hot or cold (e.g Tabbouleh). Living in North London, just off the infamous Green Lanes, your eyes will catch Bulgur Wheat Pilaf flashing you a smile practically out of every Turkish Restaurant window, of which there are plenty. …

Yoghurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs

    This chicken is as juicy as it looks. The yoghurt marinade is very quick to make with the usual ingredients that you find in your cupboard. That’s the great thing about cooking a variety of food every week, you have at your disposal a lot of herbs, spices, oils and sauces, that even traditional dishes can be refreshed with ease. This is a classic recipe which never gets tired and works well with so many side dishes. Last week I had the chicken with the Baba Ganoush  and Roasted Sweet Potato that I’d made: they all sang in harmony, it really was a great combination of dishes! Try one, or better still, all three!

Mint Infused Baba Ganoush

When I stumble upon tasty food like this, I often wonder who came up with this recipe? Who decided that burning a whole ripe plump Aubergine over a naked flame until it resembles a deflated balloon, would make a gorgeously smooth creamy dip? Or was it discovered by accident as I like to think most popular dishes are; it gives a recipe instant legendary status when a trail of unlikely events are attached to its discovery. I’m not satisfied with the vague tale that Royalty had something to do with its invention, especially as the same dish is enjoyed in a variety of ways from Lebanon to Bangladesh, nevertheless it certainly has high status in my regard. One of the translations for Baba Ganoush is “pampered or spoiled father“, well I definitely felt like somebody’s favourite after eating this with some roasted sweet potatoes and chicken kebabs I’d made. The process of roasting the Aubergine is just fun to do: the smell the sweet skin burning brings back memories of roasting potatoes on Bonfires in November; watching the wafer thin ash pieces float into the midnight sky. You know the …

Caramelised Onion & Greens Gratin

  Comfort food:  noun: comfort food; plural noun: comfort foods 1. Food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically having a high sugar or carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.  “Grandma always made the best mashed potatoes and gravy, they’ve become a comfort food for me”. This dish right here falls head first into this category. You can never grow weary of a good potato gratin…it’s actually very hard to make a bad one. All mistakes are gently smothered in a creamy cheese sauce sprinkled with herbs and bread crumbs. A perfect disguise for a tasty dish! That’s the beauty of comfort food though; it’s not so much the presentation but the warm taste and the memories…hm hmm mmmm! Let’s get started!            

Halloumi Cheese Spring Rolls

What else to do with Halloumi? Because it lacks the melty softness of regular cheese, I have found it difficult to work with it other than to cut it into kebab squares or slice it into mushroom burgers. “It doesn’t naturally lend itself to much else“, I thought and so the block of hard full fat cheese would literally sit in my fridge for weeks. Forgotten. Then for some reason my mind drifted to a lady I stayed with in Alabama last year who taught me how to make egg rolls what we call spring rolls over here. Could I make Halloumi  Spring rolls? It was worth giving it a try. The verdict: Absolutely! A resounding yes! It works very well. The saltiness, the crunchiness, the juiciness of these rolls is amazing. Because they are much bigger than your average spring roll, they hold a lot more flavour. And baking them means not only that you cut down on the calories in a huge way, you also cut down on the cooking time which means more time to …

West African Peanut Stew

  Thick, thin or soupy. Depending on where you are, peanut stews can be found across the whole of West Africa. This is one dish I really wanted to get right, it had to be as authentic as I could possibly get it without having to grind the peanuts to make butter myself. This dish is usually made with chicken, but as someone who is attempting but failing badly to wean off meat, I thought I would try and make this with vegetables. The question was, which vegetables to use and to combine. My choice was based on several factors: texture, colour, and combination. As I would be missing meat, I had to make up for that with giving the stew something to chew on. No one likes over-cooked discoloured vegetables, well I don’t and so I needed vegetables that could hold their form, or at least help thicken the stew. I decided against courgettes for that very reason: they tend to get very watery when cooked and lose both colour and texture. Aubergines on …

Coconut & Lime Rice

  Some recipes come to me with clear intentions, others by inspiration and still others by accident. This was definitely an accident. It started off as a simple coconut rice dish until I decided that the garnish (being limes) could work just as well as an ingredient. And it really did; just a hint of lime in this rice gives the rice a very refreshing taste. You might want to try grating some of the lime rind in rather than just stirring in the juice, it’s entirely up to you. But be brave and see what interesting combinations you can make. This rice goes really well with the Peanut Stew which I made practically minutes before. But I’m sure it would go well with any hearty stew or meat you want to have with it.  

Salt fish Fritters

Originally posted on Loretta's Kitchen:
Salt fish Fritters are a stable of most Caribbean households. Some eat it for breakfast, as a snack with bread or on its own. Unlike fish cakes which are made of a mixture of potato and cooked fish, saltfish fritters are made with flour and pack in a lot more flavour which makes them very filling. The end product should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. These fritters have the most flavour out of any fritter I have tasted recently and the key to this is a couple of things: grate all your ingredients where stated, that way all the flavour will be well-distributed into every bite. Secondly taste as you go along, yes taste the dough, that is the only way to achieve the flavour you want, because once you start frying there is no turning back. You can also adjust the measurements and flavours as you see fit, provided the texture of the dough is not too stiff or runny (do a sample fry…

Moist Vegan Cornbread

  This recipe makes a really dense, crumbly vegan cornbread that is quite moist and really easy to make. What I love the most about this recipe is that it combines a bunch of nutritious ingredients without spoiling the traditional taste and texture you expect from cornbread. I first made this recipe at a friend’s house and was surprised at how quickly it baked in the oven; try to let it cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and removing it from the dish, to avoid it crumbling too much. I thought I should leave you with some useful insights into the health benefits of some the ingredients 5 Facts About Coconut Oil: Very high in lauric acid (bacteria destroyer!) Rich in anti-oxidants (strengthen ability to fight disease and infection) Contains natural microbial and anti-bacterial agents Improves metabolism and prevents fatigue Improves cholesterol levels 5 Facts About Maple Syrup: Contains manganese and zinc (strengthens bones) Contains 54 different antioxidants Helps with inflammation 1/4 cup contains more calcium than the same amount of milk 1/4 cup contains more …

Caribbean Pumpkin Fritters

This is what you could call a golden oldie. I love the bright yellow hue that the pancake mixture has when you mix all the ingredients together. And the smell of the warm pumpkin spices could have you licking from the bowl. Again I was left with the issue of what to do with the abandoned piece of pumpkin I had left over from the first dish I made. And soon realised that I hadn’t made anything sweet with any of the gourds I had bought. I wasn’t in the mood for a cake, I wanted something really quick but could still fit into the dessert category. And then I remembered pumpkin fritters, made effectively the same way that banana fritters are made and served with a hearty savoury main meal or on its own with a dusting of cinnamon sugar. The key to this recipe is the roasting on the pumpkin. It really doesn’t take any more than 30 minutes and in the meantime you can get all the other ingredients ready so that all …