No-meatballs with green couscous

This recipe is adapted from a Turkey Meatball recipe in Waitrose Kitchen magazine January 2015. Enough for 2:


  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (more for finally baking the ‘no-meatballs’)
  • 1 clove of garlic (chopped/crushed)
  • 1 courgette (grated)
  • 1/2 400g tin of cannellini beans (drained (the other half was used in Sausage and white bean stew) and mashed)
  • 1 tsp allspice (ground)
  • 50g feta (crumbled)
  • Small bunch of parsley (chopped)
  • 2 tsp tahini mixed with 2 tsp water
  • Black pepper
  • 120g wholemeal couscous
  • 130ml boiling water
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 4 sprigs of mint (chopped)
  • Small bunch of coriander (chopped)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 50g rocket

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, and gently cook the onion for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Meanwhile grate the courgette and squeeze as much excess liquid as possible from it. Mix together the onion, garlic, courgette, beans, allspice, feta, half the parsley, black pepper to taste, and the tahini/water mix.

Form into 10 balls. Roll each in oil and bake in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for about 20 minutes, until browned.

Put the couscous into a bowl and mix in the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, and then the boiling water. Cover and stand for 6 minutes. Cook the peas as indicated on the packet. Mix the peas, the remaining herbs and the lemon juice, into the couscous. If necessary, keep warm until the balls are cooked, adding the rocket immediately before serving.

I did find that the balls did not hold their shape very well, despite the binding effect of the tahini/water mix. If I make this again, I think that I will try adding some fresh breadcrumbs.


Mushroom and chick pea curry


This recipe is adapted from one which first appeared in Waitrose’s Kitchen magazine in March 2014. Enough for 2:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 200g closed mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp curry powder (exact amount depends on its strength)
  • 400g tin of chick peas (drained)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • A little fresh coriander

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan and fry the mushrooms for 1-2 minutes until just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Turn down the heat and add the remaining oil.  Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and
cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the chick peas and tomatoes, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the mango chutney and reserved mushrooms, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

I served mine sprinkled with torn coriander leaves, together with brown rice and some green beans.


Tarka dhal

I had some mushrooms, kale and half a can of chopped tomatoes in the fridge, so I made this warming, satisfying dhal. The recipe is based on one from My Goodness by Liz Nolan. Serves 2:


  • 175g yellow split peas
  • 475ml water
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 70g mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2cm cube of fresh ginger (grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • A large pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala (ground)
  • 200g tinned chopped tomatoes (1/2 large can)
  • 90g chopped kale (washed and the stems removed)

Soak the split peas in cold water for 8 hours (or overnight).

Drain the split peas and put into a medium-sized saucepan with 400ml of water. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 40 minutes or until the split peas are cooked. Set aside in the cooking water.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large saucepan and stir-fry the mushrooms for 3 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in the saucepan, add the onions and cook gently for 5 minutes. Then stir in the ginger, garlic, cumin, chilli, turmeric, coriander and garam masala. Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and 75 ml of water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the split peas and the mushrooms. Bring to the boil, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the kale. Bring to the boil, and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add more water if the dhal is too thick.

Serve with naans.

Carrot and coriander soup


Enough for 4:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
  • 1 heaped tsp grated ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp ground coriander
  • 3 large carrots (finely sliced)
  • 2 tsp vegi-stock powder
  • 1 litre water
  • Juice of 1/2 orange (small)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • A few sprigs of fresh coriander (torn)
  • Croutons (see final paragraph sweet potato and red pepper soup)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in  the garlic, ginger and coriander, and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add the stock powder and water. Stir, and bring to the boil. Then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.

Purée (using a hand blender or a liquidiser). Add the orange juice and black pepper to taste. Serve with croutons and fresh coriander.


In praise of fat again!

Why is it, that people attempt to create ridiculous ‘healthy’ versions of things which are only delicious because of a generous helping of fat, sugar, or anything else deemed to be harmful?

I decided to make Vegetable Rosti Pie (it should really be called Vegetable Rosti Sludge) which featured in the Waitrose ‘Winter Harvest 2014’ recipe booklet (and – another whinge – why doesn’t Waitrose put these things on line?). This recipe has NO oil/fat in it apart from some in the low fat yogurt. I Googled ‘Rosti‘ and the first link I got was How to cook the perfect rösti (clearly authentic as ‘rösti‘ was spelt properly (with an umlaut)!), which suggests using goose fat.

Why are we bombarded with inferior versions of things that are excellent in their original form? For example, this recipe for millionaire’s shortbread from a raw food fanatic. It may look like millionaire’s shortbread if you have bad eyesight and the light is really dim, but it will taste (and feel) like something completely different (and certainly not like the version Thornton’s do)!


Anyway, back to this Waitrose recipe. Mine was adapted, because I didn’t have all the ingredients and I decided to substitute olive oil for some of the low fat yogurt (I’m not sure that this improved the result). For two people:

  • 1 slice (4cm wide) of a large sweet potato (peeled and coarsely grated)
  • Swede (peeled and coarsely grated), the same quantity as the sweet potato
  • Butternut squash (peeled, deseeded and coarsely grated), the same quantity as the sweet potato
  • 1 small shallot (finely sliced) or equivalent onion
  • 200g cannellini beans (drained – half a large can (you could store the rest in the fridge use the rest in minestrone))
  • 4-5 sprigs of parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbp olive oil
  • 3 tbp low fat yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Blanch all the vegetables in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain.

Mix the beans, parsley, olive oil, yogurt, coriander and black pepper in a large bowl. Add the vegetables.

Mix well, and press into a lightly greased ovenproof dish.

Cook at 190C (gas mark 5) for 40 minutes (or until the surface begins to brown).

Serve with poached eggs.

I will make this recipe again, but I shall be ditching the yogurt and olive oil for a generous helping of goose fat, and I will also omit the cannellini beans which seem to add nothing (except protein), and have a rather unpleasant texture when they start to brown.

Chipotle chicken with Mexican rice


Enough for 2 (with left-over rice):

For the chicken:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 200g chopped tomatoes (1/2 a can)
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • A few sprigs of coriander (torn)

For the rice:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 large pepper chopped (I used the remains of two peppers used for a previous meal)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 100g basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
  • 250ml stock (I used 1/2 tsp vegi-stock powder)
  • 2 tbsp double concentrated tomato purée
  • 400g can of red kidney beans (drained)

Cooking the chicken – coat the chicken thighs in the chipotle paste and leave (covered) in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the chicken from the fridge (do not throw away any remaining marinade). Heat the oil in a thick bottomed saucepan, and brown the chicken thighs all over. Remove the chicken thighs to a plate.

Turn down the heat and gently cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Tip the tomatoes into the dish in which the chicken was marinated, and swill round to incorporate the remaining marinade. Add this mixture to the onion mixture, together with the vinegar. Stir and add the chicken thighs. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes (or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked).

Cooking the rice – heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the onion, peppers and garlic and gently cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, oregano and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rice, coating it with oil so that it begins to look transparent.

Stir in the tomato purée and the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until the rice is nearly cooked (about 15 minutes). Add more water if the rice becomes dry. Add the kidney beans and cook for another 5 minutes (or until they are piping hot).

Serve with the chicken (sprinkled with coriander).

Vegi Indian meal – chickpeas and lentils


These recipes are based on some that appeared in Waitrose Kitchen magazine (November 2013 issue). I was actually rather disappointed with the results, which seemed rather bland to me. Does anyone have any suggestions?

These recipes are supposed to be for 4 people, but the chole recipe seemed to me to make just enough for 2 very hungry people (or 3 with normal appetites). I also added some of the liquid reserved from cooking to the chickpeas (and some spinach which happened to be in the fridge). For the daal recipe, I cut down the main ingredient (lentils) to 2/3 rds of the suggested amount.

Punjabi chole:

  • 150g chickpeas (soaked overnight and then cooked (in water) for about 45 minutes (boiling rapidly for the first 10 minutes))
  • [reserve a small amount of the liquid from cooking the chickpeas]
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 red chillies (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • Ginger (equivalent of a 3cm cube, grated)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 100g leaf spinach
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Some torn coriander leaves

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. gently cook the onion for 10 minutes. Add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Stir and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chickpeas and the bay leaf and about 100ml of the reserved cooking liquid. Stir the mixture and simmer gently for 10 minutes. If you are adding spinach, stir it in after 8 minutes and turn up the heat, stirring until it has wilted.

Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the garam masala, the lemon juice and the coriander. Serve.

Tadka daal:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • Ginger (equivalent of a 3cm cube, grated)
  • 2 red chillies (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 200g red split lentils
  • 1 large tomato (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

Gently heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the cumin seeds for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the turmeric and cook for 1 minute.

Add the lentils and sufficient water to more than cover the pan contents. Stir, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Adding more water as necessary.

Stir in the tomato, and continue cooking until the lentils are cooked (10-15 minutes – you may need to add more water). Stir in the garam masala and serve.

I served these dishes with Lidl plain naans (which came top in this survey); currently 49p for a packet (2 naans).

Duck Soup


Not only a Marx Brothers’ film but also a hastily put together supper which was consumed the other evening.

There was not a great deal to distinguish this soup from Pork belly noodle soup, except that the meat content was a duck leg rather than pork belly. When I made the Cassoulet at the weekend, I had to defrost two duck legs (one for the cassoulet and one left over). So I boned both legs, and used the bones together with an onion, a carrot, a stick of celery and some herbs to make stock for this soup.

I also marinated the spare boned duck leg (overnight) in a mixture of soy sauce, shaoxing rice wine, sesame seed oil and some ground Szechuan pepper. The following morning, I roasted it at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for about 35 minutes. then allowed it to cool.

Apart from the duck (and the duck stock) the recipe was just the same as before, except that shortly before I was about to serve the soup, I reheated the duck leg in the microwave, then sliced it, and placed the slices on top of the soup.

Pork belly noodle soup


A very filling soup. The pork would be sufficient for 4 people, but I decided to save half the cooked pork for Nasi Goreng later in the week.

For two people:

For the pork:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp chinese five spice powder
  • 5 strips of pork belly (this is the number you get in a pack at my supermarket)

To make the marinade, mix the soy sauce, the vinegar, the oil and the five spice powder together in a flat bottomed dish. Ensure that the pork belly strips are coated in the marinade. Cover the dish and allow to stand for at least 2 hours (if it’s a hot day leave this in the fridge). Then roast in the oven at 190C-200C (Gas Mark 5 or 6). It should take about 45 mins, but take a look after 25 minutes and turn the meat over, sprinkling with the remaining marinade.

The meat will be cooked when it is soft and easily pulled apart.

For the rest of the soup:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • a piece of fresh ginger, about 2cms square (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 small hot chilli (chopped – include the seeds for extra heat)
  • 1 stick of lemongrass (finely sliced)
  • 1 heaped tbsp green Thai curry paste (I used approximately 40g of this product – other pastes may differ in strength)
  • a splash of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • 1 small tin coconut cream
  • chicken stock made with 600mls water and 1/2 chicken stock cube
  • 3 medium noddle nests (this is about 180 grams of dry noodles, fewer if you’re not that hungry)
  • 10 baby sweetcorn (halved and sliced into 2cm lengths)
  • 25 green beans, topped and tailed, and sliced into 3cm lengths)
  • 5 spring onions (sliced)
  • 1 large mushroom (sliced)
  • a handful of raw spinach
  • juice of half a lime
  • chopped fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass. Stir and gently cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes. Stir in the curry paste, then add the Nam Pla, the coconut cream and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Cook the noodles as indicated on the packet. When cooked drain and keep warm. Then slice half the pork (and keep warm). allow the rest of the meat cool rapidly and put in a container in the fridge as soon as possible.

Add the baby sweetcorn to the simmering soup, returning to the boil before simmering for 2 minutes. Then do the same with the green beans and the spring onions. After simmering these for 2 minutes add the mushroom slices and the spinach and simmer for another 2 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. The soup is now ready to serve

In two large bowls, place equal quantities of noodles and soup, top with pork and chopped coriander. if there is insufficient liquid add some hot water. Eat!