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Thai Chicken Salad

Thia_Chicken_Salad 600

Serves 4

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded with your fingers i
nto long strips
or
3 pieces of uncooked
chicken on the bone
2 medium carrots, cut into ribbons with a vegetable
peeler
1 mango or pink grapefruit, peeled and sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1/2 cucumber, finely sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 baby Cos lettuces, leaves separated (optional)

Dressing:
200ml low-fat coconut milk
5 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice of 2 limes

Method:

  • If you don’t have any leftover chicken, simply cook some chicken pieces. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Oil the chicken with sunflower oil or olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a lined baking tray and roast for 20–25 minutes, until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, shred into strips using clean fingers.
  • Mix all the dressing ingredients together and pour a little over the cooked, shredded chicken to allow the flavours to infuse.
  • Mix the carrots, mango or grapefruit, fennel, onion and cucumber with the chicken and drizzle over the rest of the dressing. Just before serving, mix through the fresh herbs.
  • This can be piled into the lettuce leaves and served on its own, or serve with cooked and cooled rice noodles.

The Ish Factor:
Sweet chilli sauce is an indispensable Pantry Pal that you can use in stir-fries, marinades, as a dipping sauce or simply as a condiment. You can make your own using fresh red chillies, vinegar and sugar. I like adding roasted red peppers, as they add sweetness and depth of colour. Keep a bottle of sweet chilli sauce handy for your Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese-inspired recipes.

Bobotie

Bobotie 600
Serves 4

1 slice of bread (ideally wholemeal)
250ml milk
2 medium onions, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1kg lean beef mince
1 tbsp Madras curry paste or curry powder
juice 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
1/3 cup raisins or sultanas
2 tbsp flaked almonds (optional)
5 lime or lemon leaves or fresh bay leaves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
green beans, to serve
baked sweet potatoes, to serve
tomato salad, to serve

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Break up the bread using your fingers. Put it in a small bowl and pour over the milk. Allow to stand and soak.
  • Gently sauté the onions in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 8 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add in the minced beef. Stir well to break up any lumps and cook until lightly brown. Stir in the curry paste or powder and mix well. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper, then mix through the raisins, the flaked almonds and the soaked bread.
  • Pour the beef mixture into a baking dish and spread it out evenly. Place the lime or bay leaves on top and gently pour over the eggs.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it’s hot and bubbling around the edges.
  • Serve with green beans, baked sweet potatoes and a tomato salad.

The Ish Factor:
Curry powder is in fact a British invention. In India, a vast array of spice blends are used, the closest to our Western curry powder being sambar powder. Curry powders available in supermarkets tend to be pretty standard and come in mild, medium and hot versions. Curry powder is great as a seasoning to add a little kick to a dish without overpowering it. Use in conjunction with other spices for your Indian cooking.

Brown Rice Prawn Jambalaya

Brown_Rice_Prawn_Jambalaya 600

Serves 4

400g large, raw, peeled and deveined prawns (you can buy these frozen in Asian markets and some supermarkets)
200g spicy sausage, such as Andouille or chorizo
2 red onions, sliced into thin wedges
2 celery stalks, diced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp Cajun spice
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup medium quick-cooking brown rice
400ml tomato passata or 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
salt and pepper
fresh coriander, to garnish

Method:

  • Defrost the prawns by leaving them in the fridge overnight or rinse off the ice in a colander in the kitchen sink under cold running water.
  • Cut the sausage into 1cm-thick slices. Cook in a large pan over a medium heat until the fat renders out.
  • Add the sliced red onions, celery and green peppers to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions have started to soften. A dd the garlic and cook for another few minutes, until the onions are translucent. Sprinkle over the Cajun spice, mix well and cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock, brown rice, passata and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the prawns and let everything simmer, cover ed, for another 5 minutes, until the prawns are firm and pink. Squeeze over the lemon or lime juice and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with fresh coriander.

The Ish Factor:
Cajun spice is a traditional spice blend from Creole cuisine. This mildly hot spice is very versatile and great for jazzing up sweet potato wedges, tuna salad and jambalaya. You can make your own spice mix by combining 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons each of garlic powder and salt, 1 1/2 tea spoons each of dried oregano and dried thyme and 1 teaspoon each of onion powder, cayenne pepper and ground black pepper.
Stored in an airtight jar, it will keep for up to 6 months.

‘Catch All’ Couscous

Rozanne   tomato couscous     Pix Ronan Lang/Feature File

Serves 4

200g chorizo sausage, skinned and diced
1/2 cup sunblush tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup black olives
250g tomato-flavoured couscous
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
100g feta cheese, cubed
juice and zest of 1 lemon
olive oil
150g rocket

Method:

  • Cook the chorizo in a large pan over a medium heat until crispy. Add the tomatoes and olives and heat through.
  • Add the couscous and pour over the correct amount of boiling water according to the packet instructions. Cover the pan with a lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Fluff up the couscous with a for k, then gently stir in the chickpeas and feta.
  • Dress the couscous with lemon juice and zest and olive oil. Serve with the rocket on top.

The Ish Factor:
Couscous is a traditional food consumed widely across North Africa, the Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean. Made from durum wheat, the best way I can describe couscous is as tiny balls of pasta. The best way to cook it is to cover it in boiling water and allow it to stand or by steaming it. On its own it’s quite bland, but it soaks up flavours terrifically and is perfect to mop up sauces or as a base for a hot or cold salad. Change the recipe according to what you have in the fridge – it’s a great ‘catch all’ recipe.

Saucy Caramel Banana Pudding

Saucy_Caramel_Banana_Pudding 600Serves 8

250g (2 cups) plain flour
2 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
230g (1 cup) caster sugar
120g butter, melted
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, beaten
500ml milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
custard or ice cream, to serve

Caramel sauce:
250g soft brown sugar
6 tbsp golden syrup
500ml boiling water

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a lasagne-sized baking dish.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the caster sugar, melted butter, mashed bananas, eggs, milk and vanilla essence. Mix well and pour the batter into the greased baking dish.
  • To make the caramel sauce, combine the brown sugar, golden syrup and boiling water in a pot. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the boiling caramel sauce evenly over the batter.
  • Bake for 35–45 minutes, until cooked through in the middle. Serve with custard or ice cream.

The Ish Factor:
Bananas feature in most kitchen fruit bowls. As pop ular as they are, there often seems to be a few bruised and blackened bananas hanging around by the end of the week. But it’s one fruit that I don’t mind overripe. Overripe bananas make the best smoothies, banana bread and wholesome muffins. The bananas are softer and sweeter and are ideal for mashing down. For a healthier alternative to ice cream, freeze peeled bananas and then whizz them up from frozen in the food processor. Serve with chocolate sauce or on its own for a healthy dessert.

Shop Smart, Cook Smart, Eat Smart

MonthofMeals

I run a ‘Kitchen Detox’ programme for people whereby I give their meal times and menus a make over. I compile a folder of recipes, menu plans, shopping lists, Pantry Pals and Freezer Friends based on a seasonal menu. With a little time and effort, you can do the same thing and save time and money while eating healthy meals.

Menu Planning I recommend doing this at least every three months so you are using more seasonal produce. If you aren’t sure what fruit and vegetables are in season, visit www.bordbia.ie. Decide how many dinners a week you cook at home, I normally work off five dinners as people go out or visit family etc. Collate at least ten recipes from your existing favourites and others you may find in cookbooks, newspapers and websites. These ten recipes you can run as a two week cycle that you repeat, fifteen recipes will give you a three week cycle. I would recommend a fish dish, an egg based dinner (eg frittata), red meat recipe, chicken dinner, and a vegetarian meal (especially using beans, lentils and chickpeas). The recipes should include lots of vegetables for nutrition and easier cooking. Keep a copy of all the recipes in a folder, even if you know them off by heart. You might even get family members to share the cooking that way! If you like experimenting, try a new recipe each week that isn’t in the cycle.

Pantry Pals and Freezer Friends Take your recipe folder and make a list of all the dried ingredients including condiments and cooking oils. These are items you should have in your cupboard at all times. Keep an eye on this so that you don’t end up with three bottles of the same thing as you’re not sure what you have. I believe in stocking my freezer with useful ingredients rather than frozen meals. These can then be used to make delicious dinners. Currently in my freezer I have chorizo sausage, tiger prawns, salmon fillets, parma ham, bacon lardons, smoked salmon, part baked bread, bags of breadcrumbs, peas and raspberries. I never freeze minced beef as it should be used within 24 hours of purchase. It also freezes into a horrible grey lump. Your butcher can be very useful in vacuum packing your favourite cuts of meat in the right portions.

Shopping Go armed with a list of what you need, this is vital. Top up the storecupboard items if needed. This is the time to take advantage of special offers, but only on items you know you use such as tinned tomatoes. The same goes for meat and other foods that can be frozen. Portion out the meat before freezing if the pack is too big. This prevents wastage and also eating more than we need to as you’ve defrosted the whole pack and you need to cook it then. Only buy the exact numbers of vegetables you need. The three pack of peppers is the classic example, where you may only need two. Don’t be afraid to swop a vegetable in a recipe, but don’t buy extra. Only buy fruit that you know your family will eat. My personal favourites are mandarins, grapes and bananas, so I know if it’s a mistake if I buy loads of other fruit. I am a firm believer in buying from your local butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer.

Cooking Aim to cook the right quantity for a meal, not loads extra. I think most leftovers hang around in fridges growing things. Or else we overeat and that’s not good for our pockets or waistlines. Unless you bring a portion into work for lunch which is a great idea. I do recommend cooking your own ham for sandwiches though, much cheaper and much nicer. A steamer pot is one of the best investments you can make as you can steam all your veggies and even fish. You retain much more of the nutritional value and it is very easy and less washing up! And please clean as you go, leaving everything to pile up will take you longer in the end to clean. Or some poor family will get that nasty job!

Why not book the Month of Meals cookery course?

Mexican Bean and Corn Burgers

Mexican_Bean_and_Corn_Burge 600r

 

Serves 4

 

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 cups (or 2 x 400g tins) cooked black beans, divided

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

2/3 cup quick oats or breadcrumbs, plus extra as needed

3/4 cup frozen or tinned sweetcorn, thawed or drained

 

Tomato salsa:

4 ripe tomatoes, diced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

lime juice, to taste

salt and pepper

 

To serve:

4–6 wholewheat or seeded burger buns

crispy lettuce

avocado slices

lime wedges

Tabasco or hot sauce

 

Method:

  • To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside to allow the flavours to marry together.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 8–10 minutes, or until golden, soft and fragrant.
  • Add 2 cups of the beans along with all the spices. Stir in the sauté pan until everything is warmed through.
  • Preheat your oven grill.
  • Add the oats to the bowl of a food processor and pulse them a few times. Add the onion, garlic and bean mixture. Process everything together until it’s well combined but still has some texture.
  • Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the black beans and the corn and mix well with your hands. Check for seasoning. If the mixture is too mushy to form into patties, add a little more oats or breadcrumbs.
  • Lightly oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Shape the mixture into 4 large or 6 smaller patties. Transfer the burgers to the sheet and grill for 8–10 minutes per side, until golden. You can also pan-fry them in light olive oil until golden on each side.
  • Serve on a bun with the tomato salsa and any topping of your choice.

 

The Ish Factor:Smoked paprikais one of my favourite Pantry Pals. It is the deeper, smokier Spanish cousin of sweet Hungarian paprika. The pimento peppers are dried, smoked over an oak fire, then ground to a fine powder. Smoked paprika is extremely versatile: add a sprinkle to Marie Rose sauce, scrambled eggs, stews and marinades. Smoked paprika packs quite a punch, so when trying a new brand, start sparingly to gauge the intensity.