Thursday, 31 July 2014

Fragrant Thai Prawns with Sweet Chilli Sauce (with Thermomix method)

Quite simply *the* most succulent, delicious prawns - an absolute favourite here, and well worth treating yourself to some nice juicy big prawns for!

This is a fantastic way to cook prawns, and so good that the quantities given would suffice for a main course, if you served it with rice or noodles and a side dish, although it's presented here as a (generous!) starter (the photo shows a double portion for sharing).

The light egg and cornflour coating locks in the moisture - like the chinese technique of 'velveting' used with chicken to give moist and tender results - together with giving the prawns a really zesty and fragrant fresh flavour with the marinade ingredients, and the heat is in the dip.

Serves two (easily doubled) - 199 calories per serving for the prawns, and 60 calories per portion for my Sweet Chilli Sauce (see here for recipe, includes Thermomix instructions)

Sweet Chilli Sauce - includes Thermomix method

Who doesn't love dipping into a sweet chilli sauce?

And with only 5 ingredients, you can make your own quickly and easily in around ten minutes!

Delicious with Thai food, such as fishcakes, crabcakes or plump and juicy prawns, this quick recipe can be put together while whatever you are dipping in it is cooking!

Serves four, easily doubled. You could even make up a large batch if you wanted to, and store it in sterilised bottles as it would last a long time due to the ingredients. 60 calories per serving [calories in square brackets].

Dustbin Soup - and / or Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Yes, DUSTBIN soup! Which is delicious, unlike its name - so please don't be put off, and read on, read on!

I did debate whether to call it by this name, which is what we call it at home, but not to do so, just wouldn't feel right! It's alternative name could have been "Green and Blue Soup", an allusion to the fact that it is predominately made from green vegetables, and the flavour lifted by a touch of blue cheese. But to calm your beating heart, I've included the suggestion for broccoli and blue cheese soup, just in case you want to serve it to anyone else and have a name for it...

Anyway, I digress. Basically, this is something which happens on a regular basis, especially during the colder months, as a way to make the most out of vegetables which need eating, and also (especially?) to use up tasty parts of vegetables which might otherwise be consigned to the dustbin (hence the name!) - such as broccoli stalks, and asparagus ends.

Broccoli stalks are often thrown away, and yet they're actually really delicious once peeled - either raw and julienned in salads, or cooked in soups, or again julienned (yes, you can't beat a bit of mandolin action!), steamed and tossed in butter with a grinding of fresh black pepper. Asparagus ends are another victim to the bin or compost heap, and yet they too make delicious soup - if they're particularly woody it pays dividends to finish by passing the soup through a sieve for a deliciously smooth and creamy result. Just using broccoli and asparagus stalks alone, and making up to 500g with some cauliflower makes for a delicious, and delicately flavoured soup.

The quantities suggested will give you around 1,400ml of soup, which gives you 7 servings at 200ml per serving (a couple of ladlefuls). If you want a calorie count, just measure what you've got, and divide it into portions to suit you - for the soup below, it's 91 calories per 200ml serving (or 95 calories if you make with 500g broccoli, for a delicious broccoli and stilton soup).

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Home Made Smooth, Thick and Creamy Yoghurt, Greek-style Yoghurt and Soft Cheese (includes Thermomix method)

All of the above are deceptively easy, and full of the good bacteria you want in your system - having the right bacteria in there is a contributing factor that has been recognised as a part of keeping 'lean' within the confines of a healthy diet...

Although I 'cooked' my milk in the Thermomix, you don't need one to make yoghurt, or any specialist equipment or ingredients - just an accurate thermometer, milk and a starter (e.g. plain organic yoghurt, which you can buy in little pots for pennies - I like Yeo Valley) will do, and all you need to turn your set yoghurt into Greek-style yoghurt or soft and creamy (yoghurt) cheese is some muslin cloth, as a minimum (although there are more compact ways to do it).

If you just want to get making yoghurt, rather than reading about how not to make yoghurt, then scroll down to the ingredients, to get started, and go to the parts of the method in bold, if you want to skip the 'why' bits! (Well, that's what I'll be doing when I re-visit my own post, to remind me of temperatures, timings etc.!). If you want a shorter Thermomix-only version of this recipe, click here.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Spelt and Honey Bread Rolls - includes Thermomix Method

From flour to rolls in just under an hour - seeds are optional, but add to the delicious, nutty flavour.

Although these are made with honey, don't worry, they're not sweet. The honey is just there in place of sugar, to feed the yeast, and can be substituted for other things if you would rather not use honey (see ingredients). However, if you should want the honey taste to be more prevalent, simply add more to taste!

Spelt and honey rolls

The facts: Spelt is an ancient, hybrid species of wheat (also known as dinkel wheat and hulled wheat). It's higher in nutrients such as vitamin B1, B2 and iron than regular wheat and it's pretty versatile, as it's great for making really tasty, soft and light bread, as well as being suitable to make pasta with. It *does* contain gluten, however, therefore it is not suitable for people with coeliac disease, but some people who have minor difficulty digesting normal wheat, may find spelt easier to digest.

Biology lesson over! (Well, the important bit was to make sure there was no confusion over spelt containing gluten). Now onto how to turn it into tasty rolls, with a lightly crusty top, and a deliciously nutty and moist, soft centre - in under an hour! I always used to find making any kind of bread/s quite daunting, so there are plenty of photos in the method to refer to, so you know you're on the right lines!

Makes 8 medium to large sized rolls (one is enough for lunch!), or you could divide it into more smaller rolls if you prefer.

Prawn and Coconut Curry (includes Thermomix method)

A quick and easy curry with minimal preparation - on the table in under half an hour.

A simple, tasty curry that you've probably got most if not all of the ingredients for already! If you want something quick and mild but still delicious, just leave out the chilli and ginger and other optional items (in italics), leaving you just an onion and a couple of garlic cloves to peel and chop in the preparation.

Prawn and coconut curry

You can use any prawns you like - they don't have to be raw tiger prawns or anything fancy, they can be a packet of ready-cooked and peeled little prawns, or some de-frosted cooked and peeled jumbo prawns. Just reduce the cooking time to heat them through for a minute or so, so you don't over-cook them. If you've got them with head, shell and everything else intact, the lovely Gordon will show you how to deal with them here.

This recipe serves two, and it's easily doubled. Calories from 243 per serving (using light coconut milk - 265 calories including all the options. Serve with 200g cauliflower rice for an extra 70 calories). [Calories in square brackets]

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Raspberry Bakewell Magic Bean Cake (or Cherry Bakewell) - includes Thermomix method

Easy to make, moist and delicious, NO taste of beans (no, really!), and incredibly versatile.

And if you just can't decide whether to go for raspberry or cherry, the beauty of this is that you can make it half and half!

Cherry and Raspberry Bakewell Magic Bean Cake

Cherry Bakewell on the top tier, Raspberry Bakewell below (all cooked in the same cake tin).

Moist and almond-y, this makes a great traybake cake and you'll have fun getting people trying to guess what the 'secret ingredient is'! (They won't).This would also be excellent with plums, apricots, nectarines or peaches (cut into quarters or eighths, depending on the size of the fruit) when they're in season, as stone fruits all go really well with almond flavours. The type of fruit you use will dictate how dense the cake is, and what kind of rise you get - e.g. cherries naturally sink towards the bottom and the top rises more, whereas raspberries sit on the top, weighing the cake down more and giving you a more dense, moist result - more of a 'slice' (as you can see above). This is best made in a 9 inch / 22.5cm square tin (or rectangular tin of a similar area).

Cherry and Raspberry Bakewell Magic Bean Cake
Cherries to the left, raspberries to the right!
 Another great bonus of this cake, is that not only is it gluten free and grain free, you can also make it dairy free if you want, by using coconut oil (the solid white variety, preferably extra virgin) instead of butter. It's good as a hot dessert too, and needs less cooking time for this (see method).

 This cake gives you 16 portions from 210 calories per serving; or cut into 20, for 168 calories per portion.

If you wish to bake it as a round cake in a smaller,, taller tin, pour in half of the batter, scatter the raspberries over that (I'm not sure I'd recommend trying this with cherries), then pour the rest of the batter on top and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Alternatively, bake as individual little cupcakes / muffins and reduce the cooking time to around 20 minutes - pushing the raspberries into each muffin (or even stir into the mix) before baking rather than leaving them on top. [Calories in square brackets below]

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Salmon with Steamed Vegetables in a Japanese Soy and Lime Dressing (includes Thermomix method)

An easy way to pimp up an ordinary meal into something a little more spectacular...

Why not give a simple mid-week meal a shake up with a zingy oriental dressing and a few simple garnishes to completely transform the flavours?

It couldn't be simpler. An extra five minutes of preparation is all you need to transform plain old salmon and steamed vegetables with rice (or even cauliflower rice or courgette ribbons/zoodles if you want it 'skinny'!) into something packed full of flavour. You can easily switch salmon for chicken fillets, and use your favourite vegetables, or whatever you have to hand. This would also work beautifully with fresh tuna steaks, seared quickly, and sliced, served rare (sashimi grade) to pink on top of the vegetables.

Serves four people, easily halved. 342 calories per portion for the salmon, dressing etc. and vegetables if you're counting (if vegetables as suggested in ingredients), plus 211 calories per portion for 60g uncooked rice / 70 calories for cauliflower rice / 36 calories for courgette ribbons/noodles.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Caramelised Red Onion, Pepper and Goats Cheese Crustless Quiche / Frittata

This was made to take on a picnic, along with some other 'fancy' goodies...

It's delicious chilled, served with a large, mixed salad, on a warm day when you don't want hot food.

Obviously you could serve it warm too, if you prefer, with buttery new potatoes, or roasted squash and maybe some griddled asparagus or long courgette slices.

This will serve six as a main meal, or more if you want to have it as part of a buffet type spread (or picnic!) and it's incredibly easy to make. What's more, you can change the fillings and toppings to suit your tastes, or what you've got in at the time.

If you're counting calories, this is from 216 to 248 calories for a sixth serving (as in 1/6 of it, not your sixth helping!), or from 162 to 186 calories for an eighth if you'd prefer a slightly smaller portion for less calories (depending on the cheese used - see ingredients).
 [Calories in square brackets].

Pan Roast Duck Breast with a Cherry and Port Sauce

Dark cherries in a rich, port and red wine sauce perfectly complement the flavour of tender, juicy duck breasts.

And the real beauty of this dish? For an indulgent treat, you can cook it with the skin on, until it's golden and crispy for a treat... or you can cook it without the skin, like you would a tender piece of fillet steak and enjoy a really tasty piece of meat which is actually quite low calorie once you remove the skin! Delicious served with fennel-roasted celeriac and leek, with simple steamed fine asparagus (see tips for how). Potato Dauphinoise would be rather nice on the side too (but that's a recipe for another time)!

And both ways, you've got an incredibly tasty meal with a rich and indulgent tasting sauce.

This serves two people with a generous amount of sauce, and is easily doubled. It would also go nicely with certain other game (the more flavoursome varieties such as wood pigeon, or venison).

If you're counting calories, and cook this with two skinless duck breasts, it will be 325 calories per serving, plus 74 calories per serving if you want to cook the suggested accompaniments with it (so 399 calories per serving. [Calories in square brackets]

If you happen to be counting calories and want to keep the skin on, you're looking at around 647 calories per portion for the duck and sauce. But you do get some tasty duck fat to pour off and use on your roasties another time...

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Coconut and Lemon Magic Bean Cake (includes Thermomix method)

So, travelling beyond the original dark and decadent chocolate 'Magic Bean Cake', here is a more summery version...

Moist and zingy, with little crunches from the coconut and a slightly crumbly texture - if you love lemon cakes, you will love this and you'll have fun getting people trying to guess what the 'secret ingredient is'! (They won't).

Coconut and Lemon Magic Bean Cake

Another great bonus of this cake, is that it's gluten free, grain free and nut free (coconuts are seeds, see here for more information regarding allergies and make sure you check with anyone with a nut allergy), and you can also make it dairy free if you want, by using coconut oil (the solid white variety, preferably extra virgin) instead of butter!

I find that because the cake is so rich and moist, you don't need much - between four of us, we only managed to demolish a quarter at the first sitting, having a couple of modest slices each. It's gorgeous served with fresh raspberries, blackberries or strawberries and a dollop of Greek yoghurt, whipped cream or creme fraiche - maybe with a little lemon curd swirled in if you're being naughty!

I'd say this serves 16, if you cook in a ring tin and cut into slices about 1.5 to 2cm (as in photo) and have a couple or so per serving. 188 calories for a 16th of the cake serving on this basis. Or if you just want a little treat, have the one small slice instead of two, for 94 calories! Alternatively, bake as individual little cupcakes / muffins and reduce the cooking time to around 20 minutes - you could even push a few raspberries into each muffin before baking, and sprinkle with a little extra dessicated coconut. [Calories in square brackets below]

Chocolate Buttercream / Icing / Frosting (includes Thermomix method)

Rich, chocolatey and best reserved for special occasions!

This will easily cover a cake up to 30cm / 12inches, and is delicious on fairy cakes / cupcakes etc. too. You can also use to sandwich a cake together - it should do two layers if you don't spread it too thickly. The cake won't need to be refrigerated, although you can do if you wish, and the icing will become firm if you do.

It's very quick to whip up and easy to spread or pipe. Here it's been spread rather generously on a chocolate 'Magic Bean Cake' (recipe here).

Simple Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are everywhere...

And there's really nothing to making one. The only reason I've blogged this, is because I was curious as to how many calories were in a serving, which meant I had to weigh what I used (rather than just bunging handfuls into the blender) then calculate the calories of each ingredient - so I might as well write it down while I'm at it! You don't need a recipe, you can just use your imagination, or have a look here or on Google for some great green smoothie ideas. And remember - if you're using them as a vehicle to get fruit and vegetables into your kids, you need to give them an appealing name - maybe something to do with Kermit, or the Incredible Hulk etc. depending on their age and preferences! (Or just tell them it's yours and they can't have any...)

This one is nice and mild and refreshing, so a great introduction if you haven't had one before (or you're trying to get someone else to try one).

Serves two (easily doubled), 125 calories per serving [calories in square brackets].

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