Home alone cooking: aubergine mushroom stirfry

This is a recipe from Gok’s Wok, a mix of Asian and fusion sorta healthy dishes.  The recipe calls for shitake mushrooms (I had a handful of chestnut ones needing used up) and also said it served 4. (ahahahahahha!)

I do love aubergines. They have such beautiful laquer black skins, and cook to such silky unctiousness (sorry, I appear to have turned into Nigella….)

Anyhoo.  I had most of the ingredients for this in my store cupboard, with a few substitutions, so off I went!

Chop the aubergine into cubes.  Cook in a wok with a splash of oil.  I like to add a lid so that it steams a bit, and reduces the acrid smell and smoke-alarm-setting-off factor.

I added a swish of sesame oil as they were almost done for added flavour.

Remove the aubergines, and add a chopped onion to the wok (half an onion for me).  Add some chopped mushrooms.  And 4 chopped anchovies.  For vegetarians, you could leave these out.  For veganishes who eat a bit of fish for environmental and health reasons, woohoo! And a chopped chilli (I used a spoonful from my jar of chopped chillies – it’s easier to control the heat with this method).

At this stage, the recipe wanted me to add a ton of straight to wok noodles.  I like the rice vermicelli ones, so I’d softened one nest of those, and added it.

The resulting panful was a substantial dinner, with leftovers for lunch.  I’m not convinced this would feed 4, as suggested in the recipe book (and who doesn’t have pictures of their dishes anyway…..)


Visually, it’s a bit brown, but it was darn tasty and I’ll be doing variations of this again.

Gok Tales

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the adorable Gok Wan, and this week I’ve been trying some recipes out of his new book.

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For my 5:2 fast day dinner, I made Vietnamese salad.  This is finely shaved fennel, carrot and cucumber, in a dressing made from sesame oil, fish sauce, palm sugar  and lime juice, with mint and corainder to garnish.  The dressing was lovely, but the raw veg were very crunchy.  I might try grating them next time.  But about 80 calories per portion, so its a good low-cal option.

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I’m always intrigued by new combinations, and I was looking forward to trying sweet potato and brazil nut curry.  Peel, dice and boil 500g (that’s about one large) sweet potato.  Dice one red onion and one red pepper, and saute in a wok.  I used coconut oil, but the recipe suggests rice bran.  Add half a tablespoon each of cinnamon, Chinese 5 spice, turmeric, and chilli powder.  When the veg have softened, add half a tin of light coconut milk.  Stir in the cooked sweet potato, and 50g chopped brazil nuts, and 3 tablespoons dessicated coconut.  Serve on flatbread or rice with a few blobs of yoghurt, and granish with coriander leaves.

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This was an interesting combination of textures, with the soft potato and the crunchy nuts.  And if I was avoiding carbs I would just have it alone rather than adding any bread or rice.  Around 450 cals per portion.

I like the book, but it doesn’t have a picture for every recipe, which is a shame.  It also could do with a bookmark ribbon.

The Working Woman’s Wardrobe: Gok Wan

I do love Aunty Gok. He has a real understanding of what looks good on real women, not models. So I’d always cast an eye on his collection for Tu at Sainsburys.

The first collection I really didn’t like – the Chinese kimono jackets with floppy sleeves weren’t my style, and the bright red colour-way didn’t suit me either.

I think it might have been collection 3 that really caught my eye, and to be honest, it was because it was being heavily discounted. The blue green colours were much more appealing to me, and the first item I bought was the flare-hem dress (down to £20). I wore it on Fathers Day, with a lime green short sleeved jacket (M&S) and green shoes (Camper, bought in Malaga a few years ago). It attracted lots of compliments.

I wore it again at a formal dinner, with my ecru Office shoes, and a black cardi with diamanté buttons. Again, it got lots of compliments.
I absolutely LOVE this dress – it is wonderfully easy to wea, my favourite features are the packets in the side seams and the funky chunky back zip.   It is easy to dress up or down, it’s very versatile. Washes like a ribbon, dries quickly and doesn’t need ironed. It has rapidly become one of my favourite items in my wardrobe.

The other items I picked from the sale rail were the swing tops – I bought one in black, and one in turquoise, for £6 each.  These are lovely in the hot weather, as they are quite loose.  I wore
the black one with skinny jeans on a trip to London, and took the blue one on a cruise, where it was hard to find something that looked good underneath – bulky shorts were so so wrong.  I like lounging about the house in these tops with Capri length leggings.  Washing is simple, they dry quickly, but they do really need ironing, and they crease easily.
I think the swing tops work best with closely fitting bottom half – legings or skinny jeans.  This combination, with loose black linen trousers, and cropped cardi, was just OK.

Buoyed by the positive comments the dress received, I did something I don’t often do – I bought clothes FULL PRICE from the new collection. And took them for a test run.

First up was the shell top with pleat front.  I bought this in the baby-pink colourway, with dove grey pleated front panel.  I love the subtle and sophisticated colour palette of this collection – much easier to integrate with an existing wardrobe.  The top is a good length, covering the tummy at the front, and wont reveal a muffin-top when you raise your arms, but I felt it kind of short at the back, as it reached half way down my bottom.  The material is polyester, which I usually avoid, and it’s quite sheer, so you need to have a good neutral bra underneath, and I was quite conscious of my back tattoo being visible. The loops for hanging it up are well placed under the armpits, and don’t poke out the way they do on may garments.  I wore it with loose grey  trousers, and felt the co-ordinating front panel helped to elongate my silhouette. The style is quite sophisticated – I think it would work well for an interview, dinner date, theatre visit.  However, my husband felt that the billowing effect of the pleat panels made me look pregnant.

Wrap-front blouse:
I bought this in the grey colour. It comes with a camisole that is quite tight fitting, and being attached to the sheer outer layer it is tricky to get on and off.  The colour is just amazing – a deep smoky grey, almost dark aubergine.  The fine denier of the top layer is really silky and smooth.  It sits neatly, shows off the waist, and looks very classy.  I wore it with my grey Mallorca pearls, and it gathered a few compliments.

Fitted cardigan: I love ¾ length sleeves, as I’m quite petite.  I bought the oatmeal colourway with black bow pattern and hem.  This will be great with black trousers and a black or cream  camisole underneath.  It will also look smart over a sleeveless black dress.  The little bow-shaped top button is cute, but tricky to fasten in a hurry – an important detail for we women of a certain age.  I don’t often do patterns – I still think this has a hint of pyjama about it, and the bow pattern is so recognisable people will know it’s from Sainsburys.

And I’ve just realised that Mini, my cocker spaniel, has managed to sneak into most of those photos – the little diva…..