Home Alone Cooking: Gok’s Broccoli Sesame Soup

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I was poaching an egg for my breakfast – it sat atop a bundle of asparagus, steamed in the microwave, wrapped in a slice of smoked salmon.  You don’t need a recipe for something so quick and simple, but it was very very good, and would work on a low cal day too.

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Anyhoo, I decided to poach an additional egg for use later.

Gok’s soup had as its main ingredients broccoli, split into stalks and tops,  and spring onions.  The stalks and spronions were sauteed in a little coconut oil, and then the tops were added, along with a cup of chicken stock, and a half cup of cooked rice (I use some from a pack of microwave rice, lime and coriander flavour). The recipe called for fresh ginger, but I didn’t have any so I added a few slivers from my sushi ginger jar.

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Simmer everything together for about 15 minutes, until soft.  Blend with a dash of sesame oil and soy sauce in my trusty stick blender. (I’ve been using this every day for the past while – I don’t even put it away any more!)

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Presentation is important for this one – put the egg in a bowl, and carefully pour the soup around it.  Drizzle with some sesame oil, sprinkle some sesame seeds, and a few dots of chopped chilli (I get mine from a jar).

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It looked really pretty!

If I was doing it again, I would do the egg fresh, so that it was warmer, and runny.  But the combination of smooth green soup, the soft egg, the crunch of seeds and a kiss of chilli was a winner.

 

 

Home Alone Cooking: Best Sweet Potato

After an all day dance course, I was pretty hungry this evening, and ready for a satisfying dinner.  So I decide to try what Ella called her “best baked sweet potato recipe”.

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The baked sweet potato bit was easy – the recipe suggested baking in the oven for an hour, I used the microwave option in 10 minutes.

The main filling was half a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, with some sliced mushrooms, and a whole 3 cloves of garlic! Other seasonings were a teaspoon each of chilli flakes and ground coriander.

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The dressing was made from tahini, honey, olive oil, and the juice of one lime.

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And I got to use my lickle whisk!

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The potato was split open, and half an avocado spooned into it.

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Topped with the bean and mushroom, and then drizzled with the dressing. Colour wise it was a bit brown.

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Was it the best baked sweet potato ever?  Well, I licked the plate clean….

Home Alone Cooking: Pad Thai

img_0544Ella’s recipes are pretty versatile, and it’s easy to swap in ingredients that you have to hand.  In my case, a leek, some button mushrooms, and a few radishes.img_0545

I sliced these finely, and sauteed them with some bell pepper in a little coconut oil.  Look at those vivid colours!

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I soaked some fine rice noodles in boiling water, and then stirred them into the veg.

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The sauce was delicious, and I’ll be making it again:

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For 2 portions

  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 15g fresh coriander
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Blend everything together in a food processor.

Stir the sauce through the noodles and veg.

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Not for a low-calorie day, but a very quick and easy satisfying dinner.

Home Alone Cooking: The Shappin!

Well, I have another week ahead of me catering for myself, so as usual I will be experimenting with some veggie/ vegan/ healthy/ low cal recipes.

To clarify, I’m not exclusively veggie or vegan, but I do like to experiment with dishes that are.  Lots of my friends and relatives follow this way of eating, and I like to have a range of dishes in my repertoire.

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Low cal wise, I  try to follow a 5:2 approach, though admittedly I’m not the best adherent.  But a tasty low-cal recipe is another handy addition to the recipe bank.

I’ve found that wheat and/or gluten does mess a bit with my digestion.  I’m not celiac, but I find my body does better when I limit wheat and carbohydrates.  As a runner and dancer, that’s quite important, as fuelling for intensive exercise sessions is crucial!

So my first step was to stock up with suitable ingredients.  Working full-time, I find that the click-and-collect option provided by supermarkets is a godsend, and Tesco do a collection spot right across the road from my house.  I was able to place my order while having my morning cuppa on Wednesday, and pick it up on the way home form work on Thursday.  No waiting, no hours and petrol spent going to the supermarket, and a very friendly bit of chit-chat with the delivery guy. Marvellous!

Now, Tesco didn’t have all the fancy ingredients I wanted, so I supplemented that with a call into Holland and Barratt, and the Aladdin’s cave that is Sawyers, Belfast, about 50m from my office.

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So here’s the whole haul of ingredients.

Leafy green veg – kale, spinach, broccoli and asparagus.

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Other veg – squash, peppers, mushrooms, avocado, sweet potato

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Fruit – pink grapefruit, figs, pomegranate, lemons and limes

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Store cupboard – lentils, cacao nibs, cacao powder, and baobab powder

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Tins – black beans, coconut oil, coconut milk, ginger curd, almond butter

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Dairy and dairy-like – almond milk, oat cream, cottage cheese

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So, with all these jewels, plus a few things I already have….what shall I make first?

 

5:2 recipes: Cactus Salad

I’ve a terrible habit of picking up bargains when I see them, especially more unusual items.  I came across this jar of cactus tips in Dobbies sale, and couldn’t resist.

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It had a salad recipe on the side, which I decided to try out.

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The other ingredients were a spoonful of salsa, and a chopped tomato and onion.

I’m not a big onion fan, but as long as it’s finely chopped and has had time to marinate a bit, it’s OK.

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I nearly came unstuck (if you see what I mean….) by my failure to be able to twist off the lid.  But I discovered that this pokey device at the end of a tin opener

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is not just for taking stones out of horses hooves, it can be used to prise under a lid and break the seal.  Voila!

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The cactus tips were rather good, a nice crunch, not an overpowering flavour.

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Calorie wise this was a total winner.  I omitted the oil from the recipe, and honestly it didn’t need it. The whole jar of drained cactus was about 10 calories. The tomato and onion added 30, and the most calorific element was the spoonful of salsa, at 40.  But the whole big satisfying bowlful was under 100.  It would make a great accompaniment for a slice of ham or chicken, for non-vegetarians.

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I’ll definitely be looking out for bargain cactus in the future!

 

Home Alone Cooking: store cupboard salmon

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I’m heading off in a few days so I didn’t want to go shopping, instead I wanted to use the foods I had in my store cupboard.

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I love frozen salmon fillets – these can be cooked from frozen either in the oven or the microwave.  I flavoured mine with lime, honey ginger and tamari.

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I served it on a bed of rice noodles, which I pepped up with spring onion, bean sprouts and mushrooms from a jar.

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To add a bit of crunch, a toasted some pumpkin seeds and sprinkled these on top.

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Home Alone 10: Fried Rice

OK, so 10 days later, and lots of the veg is starting to show its age.

I have 4 large mushrooms – I prefer chestnut mushrooms as I think they have more flavour, keep better, and don’t shrink as much in cooking.

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I have a rather skinny pak choi

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Some wizened beans, and some mini peppers.

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In a large fry pan, I sauteed the pak choi and peppers in a drizzle of local rapeseed oil and some garlic.

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Colourful!

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I added a dash of tamari sauce, and some lemon juice.

I use a splash cover, which I find gives enough cover to create a steaming environment.

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I added my sliced mushrooms – they were so large that I only added 2 of them.  And a dash of mushroom ketchup.

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When they were all nicely softened, I stirred through my leftover rice, ensuring it was well mixed.

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I cracked an egg into a bowl and added some tamari.

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I whisked those together, and then stirred everything through the rice and veg until the egg was cooked.

I’d been toying with adding some seafood, but honestly, there was so much there already I had no room!

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Home Alone Goking 9: Laksa

Slight change of schedule today – I’m running a 10k this evening, so I need something carby and proteiny for lunch.  I dug out some treasures from my freezer, and made Gok’s Laksa.

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It’s very handy having individually wrapped salmon fillets in the freezer, and they can be microwaved or oven baked straight from frozen.

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King prawns are another freezer must-have in my kitchen, as I love them! The recipe to serve 2 called for 8 prawns: I added 10.

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I had most of the called-for spices in jars of puree, including galangal, ginger, chilli and garlic.  For chillies especially, I find this the easiest way to regulate and control the heat. I even had curry powder and kafir lime leaves!

What I didn’t have was tomatoes, but I substituted broccoli spears and mushroom.

The quantities of rice vermicelli in the recipe were 200g for 2, ie 100g each.  I find that one nest, at 45g is plenty.  But you make the soup, and then pour over the soaked noodles, so it’s pretty easy to have more or fewer noodles as desired.

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This was really easy and quick to make.  Gok says 700 calories, but I did halve my noodle portion.  The chilli hit was just right, a little ticklish on the back of the throat, and a bit nose-runny, but that’s the way (uh-huh uh-huh) I like it. The only tricky thing is how to eat it – you need both a spoon and a fork, and a wide splash zone free from anything valuable.

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Home Alone Cooking Day 8: Roasted Aubergine

This was a way of using up the aubergine and remainder of the can of black beans from earlier in the week.

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There was nothing complicated in the prep, but it did take a bit of time.

First stage was to oven bake some thin aubergine slices.  Recipe says “thin slices, a couple of millimeters” and the picture seems to suggest lengthwise cuts. And I could have used a mandolin. But I quite enjoyed the meditation like state produced by slicing my rounds by hand, taking my time.

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These (there were a lot of them) were put on an olive oil slicked tray, with more oil drizzled on top (how to do this? I don’t know! Should I have spritzed?  I felt some slices got lots more oil than others)

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The recipe called for sauteed spinach with garlic.  I had no spinach, but I did have pak choi.

The recipe also called for brown rice cooked from scratch for 40 mins.  I had none of that either, but I did have a ready cook rice sachet or brown basmati and quinoa.

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In the recipe, the final stage was to dry roast off “a good handful” of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.  I did this stage first, before adding any of the softer ingredients, and also to stop the rest getting cold while i did my dry roasting.

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So, to assembly – rice stuff stirred with tahini and tamari.  Pak choi and bean garlic stir fry. Sort of roasted aubergine slices. And a sprinkle of roasted seeds.

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Honestly? It felt a bit knit-your-own-lentil worthy and heavy. I love aubergine, but I’m not sure this used them to their best advantage.

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Home Alone Cooking 7: 5:2 noodles

I used to be very good at following the 5:2 way of eating, but have got out of the habit lately. However, the mental attitude of KNOWING that I can get through a day on less than 500 calories makes it pretty easy.  I tend to base low-cal meals around fish and veg, and whilst they are not to everyone’s taste, I don’t mind these konjac slim noodles, which are around 10 cals for a whole packet.

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I had the rest of my smoked salmon to finish, and there was still plenty of veg in the drawer, include these cute mini-peppers.

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I rinsed and dry fried the noodles, and set them to one side,

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while I sauteed the veggies in lemon juice and tamari, with a splash of water.  To be honest, I didn’t cook them for long enough, as they were still very crunchy in the finished dish.

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I stirred the noodles back in, and added the smoked salmon in shreds, as well as more lemon juice. I get through a lot of lemons!

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Result – a big satisfying bowl for around 150 calories.

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