Salmon Risotto, Aldi’s finest

So Mark Francis and I are finally in the house together for the first time, me just back from Brazil (more on that later) him just back. The plan is to welcome him back from a long day at the office with a GandT and a home cooked meal of what Aldi has to offer. As I am technically unemployed at the moment I can’t really afford to splash the cash, so it is half a salmon fillet each (found in the freezer) and a pineapple I picked up for 59p from Aldi around which I create the menu. As we sit in the garden having a drink while dinner is cooking on the stove you’d almost think we were grown ups…..almost.

Salmon Risotto with peas and Swiss chard
(serves 2)

1 salmon fillet
100g risotto rice
1 bay leaf
Few sprigs of thyme
1tsp sesame oil
1 onion, chopped in to dice size pieces
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Swig of white alcohol (white wine, vermouth, sherry – I used an ancient bottle of Becherovka (look it up) donated to me by my parents)
600ml stock
4-5tbsp lemon juice
Vanilla extract
Peppercorns
Juniper berries
Salt
Large handful of Swiss chard
Large handful of frozen peas

1. Sauté the onions and garlic in the sesame oil and a large pinch of salt over a medium heat, stirring till they become translucent. Add the wine and let bubble. Add the rice, thyme and peppercorns. Let sit for 1 min, then add a little stock. Stir till stock is combined and then add more, repeat till the rice is al dente. Keep stirring it, try not to leave unattended, it will stick to the pan otherwise.
2. Meanwhile put 250ml water, the bay leaf, a few peppercorns, juniper berries and a few sprigs of thyme in a pan. Add the salmon fillet and bring to the boil slowly over a medium heat. Boil for 2 min, remove from the heat and set aside. When ready to serve remove the salmon leaving it in the water for at least 5mins. Remove the skin and cut in half, the salmon should be on the cusp of turning light pink, the innermost centre still darkish pink.
3. Empty out all but 2cm of the water, add the chard and a pinch of salt, cook over a medium heat for 2mins until dark green.
4. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and peas to the risotto, cook for a further 3mins till the peas have defrosted.
5. Serve with the risotto as a base on the plate, topped with the Swiss chard and finally the salmon.

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Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Peanut Butter Porridge

Goldilocks and the Three Bears?

So the day of the final exam looms, I am craving warm comfort food as I head into the final countdown. As a self confessed peanut butter lover, what better than a porridge that I can pretend is healthy. I like the fact that the peanut butter adds a richness and is subtly an aftertaste so the porridge isn’t too sweet, but feel free to add sugar if you like a sugar rush in the morning. Or if you are feeling really decadent add a spoonful of nutella as well. Oh and this is ridiculously simple, perfect while your trying to read your notes at the same time.

50g oats

300ml boiling water

1tsp cinnamon

1 banana

3tsp peanut butter

1. Add the oats to the water and boil for 3-4mins, until gloopy. Stir in the peanut butter and cinnamon. Serve with chopped banana.

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Exam Fuel: The Foodie way

Exam Fuel: The Foodie way

I might be going slightly mental during finals. Not only have I used it as an excuse to blow the student budget on nutritionally balanced exam fuel, but I’m also believing any bullshit I read on the internet. For example, because I read that salmon boosts omega 3 I started exam day with smoked salmon and cream cheese on a toasted onion bagel and home pickled dill, juniper and peppercorn cucumber. (my new favourite quick and simple tasty recipe)

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I have been eating ship loads of bananas (apparently potassium boosts your brain), peppermint tea (an obscure website says it reduces stress and panic) and broccoli is becoming a staple of every meal since I became convinced by the rather obviously named super foods.com, that it is a superfood. (Although I’m not sure its skills at fighting birth defects will be that helpful right now). I’m addicted to Pret sea salt dark chocolate, it apparently reduces stress, using pistachios in several of my meals, protein brain boost, and eating mountains of cherries, they help you sleep? 3 down, 1 to go…

So here are a few brain boosting, superfood filled, fuller for longer meals…. when I finish I’m eating cheesecake.

Cucumber Pickle

1. Use a vegetable peeler to make thin strands of cucumber, discarding the centre (or eating it). Scatter over crushed peppercorns, 4 juniper berries, large pinch of salt, chopped dill, 2-3tsp sugar, a splash of lemon juice and 200ml white wine vinegar. Shake, leave overnight. Eat

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Salmon, pistachio basmati rice, lemon and dill sauce and steamed broccoli for 1

1. Take the salmon fillet out of the fridge. Put 50g basmati rice in a pan over a medium heat. Add 1tsp Garam Masala, leave for 1min. Add boiling water and 1 vegetable stock cube and whisk till dissolved. Leave for 10 mins or until a lot of liquid has evaporated but there is still a little left. Stir in 10-12 pistachio nuts, unsalted. Cover and set aside.

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2. Chop 2 garlic cloves into small pieces. Fry in 1/2tsp oil for 2-3mins. Add pepper and 3-4tbsp lemon juice. Add 1/2 stock cube and 250ml water. Bubble till reduced by about half. Whisk in 2 light mini Philadelphia tubs till combined. Reheat and add a large handful of chopped dill, season to taste.

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3. Meanwhile heat a frying pan over a medium heat NB DO NOT LET IT GET TOO HOT. When hot, add the salmon skin side down, unseasoned. Leave untouched for 5-7 mins till the skin is crispy. (NB mine was quite thick) Turn and cook for a further 2-3mins. The salmon should be a really vivid pink inside and tender, if it is too pale you have over cooked it, if it is still fleshy it is rare, better for a different recipe. Luckily mine was perfect 🙂 Finally steam the broccoli, serve.

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I’m not claiming this will get me a first but it certainly sent me into my exam smiling. Image

Smoked Salmon, Creamy scrambled eggs, Sweet roasted peppers, toasted onion bagel

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Usually I am a great advocate of butter, try as I might to be healthy – even I have to admit butter makes everything taste better. In the light of healthy exam fuel I made my eggs with half fat creme fraiche. I am a convert, the creamiest, fluffiest scrambled eggs ever.

1. Chop 1 pepper into strips. Scatter with a pinch of salt. Microwave on high for 5-8mins (I did this the night before).

2. Whisk 3 eggs, pinch of salt, pepper and 1 tbsp light creme fraiche. Microwave for 30secs at a time, whisking between each spurt. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCOOK, the eggs will keep cooking, so set them aside when they are still a bit runny.

3. Toast a bagel, top with the eggs (no butter), strips of smoked salmon, the pepper and a sprigs of dill.

Soy milk porridge, berry compote, salted pistachios

1. Put 50g oats, 250ml unsweetened soy milk and a pinch of salt in a pan. Simmer for 5-6mins, stirring. Pour into a bowl.

2. Put 1 snack pack of blueberries in a pan with 2tsp sugar and 3tbsp water. Simmer for 5mins. Place on porridge with a small handful of salted pistachio nuts. 

Lean Rump steak, light peppercorn sauce, paprika sweet potato chips, lemon and garlic broccoli, serves 1 – 15mins.

1. Chop 1 small sweet potato into thin strips. Scatter with sea salt and paprika. Roast on high in the microwave for 8-10mins.

2. Meanwhile heat a frying pan seasoned with a little salt and pepper. Trim the 200g steak of all visible fat. Chop 2 garlic cloves into thin slices and put in the bottom of a saucepan. Top with an in saucepan steamer and fill with chopped broccoli. Steam for 5mins.

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3. Fry the steak for 3-4mins on each side for rare – medium rare. Set aside. Add  2 chopped cloves garlic into the steak pan. Fry for a minute. Add a good glug of cooking brandy (I know I’m off booze for exams but this is medicinal, and the alcohol is burnt off). Sprinkle in 1 crushed stock cube, 1tsp slightly crushed peppercorns and 150ml water. 

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4. Meanwhile drain the broccoli and garlic. Return to the saucepan with a good dose of lemon juice. Cover off the heat, shake and leave aside. Add 1-2tbsp light creme fraiche to the sauce and stir. Return the steak to the pan with any juices that have seeped out. Leave for a minute. Serve. The steak should be on the cusp of turning pink.

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Rare Teriyaki Salmon, garlic, ginger and chilli chickpea mash, Coriander leaves, crispy chilli broccoli.

1. Heat a frying pan. Meanwhile pour the contents of a small can of chickpeas in water into a pan (including the water). Add 1/2 small chopped red chilli, seeds removed, 2 cloves garlic, chopped,1/2 a stock cube and 1tsp chopped ginger. 

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2. Place 1 fillet of salmon skin side down in the heated pan. Cook for 2-4 mins until the skin is crispy, remove from the pan and set aside. Add 1 large garlic clove, 1/2 small chopped chilli, seeds removed and fry for 2-3mins. Add 4tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp rice vinegar, and 2tbsp sugar. Leave to bubble.

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3. Take the chickpeas of the heat and mash with a fork. Place 1 chopped garlic clove and 1 small chopped chilli, seeds removed and some broccoli  to a pan, fry for 1-2 mins. Add a small amount of boiling water and leave to steam.

4. When the teriyaki sauce has reduced by a third, add the salmon flesh side down. Leave for 1-2mins (for medium cook for a further 2mins – I like my salmon rare in the middle in this dish but not raw. The colour of raw salmon but not the texture).

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5. The broccoli water should have totally evaporated and the broccoli should be soft. Serve the salmon on top of the chickpea mash, scattered with coriander.

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Easy Creamy Garlic pasta (Microwave meal for one)

Easy Creamy Garlic pasta (Microwave meal for one) 

I am aware that the amount of meals for one on my blog at the moment does make me look a little bit like a loner but I’m afraid that is what finals does to you. Is it bad that the evening meal has become the highlight of my day amidst drowning in a sea of books, papers and opera dvds? Talking of which I should probably make this short and sweet.

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Ingredients

1/2 aubergine

1 courgette

100g mushrooms

100ml stock

salt/pepper

parsley

3 cloves garlic

lemon juice

50g penne

2 small tubs of lightest Philadelphia cheese

 

Chop the veg and garlic, place in a microwavable dish. Add the stock and a small amount of pepper and lemon juice. Sprinkle with parsley. Microwave on high for 2-250mins, until roasted. Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 10-12mins. Drain reserving a tbsp of water. Stir the pasta water and pasta into the veg and add the cheese. Enjoy.

Same ingredients, different dish

This time chop the veg, microwave for 20-25mins. Toss with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar (a bit of chilli if you like it hot) and 2tbsp sugar. Serve with rice or noodles (and if you are feeling particularly healthy money wise) prawns.

Ultimate Challenge: £10, one person, microwave (and hob), 20min decadent menu

Ultimate challenge: £10 student microwave (and hob) 20min menu 

I’m not sure you are technically allowed to review yourself when writing a blog but having addressed the ultimate  challenge for any student. You have finished a module of your exams, you want to treat yourself but all your friends are still busy. You can’t really afford (nor would you want to ) to eat alone in a restaurant and you only have a microwave. On top of that your fridge is the size of a shoebox and you can almost guarantee that anything left in it will go off before it has been worth the money you paid for it, plus you are trying to be relatively healthy but are pretty damn hungry. You also (in this woman’s case) have recently purchased a ridiculous amount of amazing bordeaux wine for only £3 a bottle,  what is the point of going out anywhere.

Yes I was lucky to find the £4 rump steak (reduced from £5) but otherwise….and it is £10.41 but who is counting!!!!

Ingredients

2x Mussels in white wine sauce (save one for later) – £2.99

4x bread rolls (3x lunches for the week) – £0.69

Rump steak 200g – £4

1x sweet potato (save half for later) – £0.49

Asparagus bunch (save half for later) – £0.49

1 muller light coconut and lime yoghurt – £0.69

4x lightest cream cheese individual packs (save 1 for later) – £1.00

6 large eggs (save 5 for later) – £1.15

1 snack pack Belvita breakfast biscuits – £0.50

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20:00 Whisk together 1 egg, yoghurt and cream cheese until smooth.

19:00 Pour into a microwave proof dish. Chop the sweet potato into thin strips (the thinner they are the better they work).

18:00 Chop the asparagus and place in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Season a frying pan with salt, pepper and a very small drizzle of oil. Place on a high heat to heat up.

17:00 Meanwhile place the cheesecake in the microwave covered in a small piece of paper towel. Microwave on high for 1min, it should be mostly cooked. Microwave in 20sec bursts until cooked in the centre. Crush the biscuits into crumbs and sprinkle over the top, refrigerate.

16:00 Put the mussels in a saucepan to heat up (roughly 4 mins). Place the bread roll in the microwave on a low heat for about 45s    ec to warm up. Put the steak on to fry, roughly 2mins on each side for medium rare.

12:00 Cover the steak in foil and put aside to rest. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt, pepper a small drizzle of oil and smoked paprika. Put in the microwave on medium high for 10mins. Meanwhile eat your mussels and crusty warm bread.

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02:00 Boil water and cook the asparagus for about 2mins. Turn the microwave to high and cook the potatoes for a further 2mins.

00:00 Serve. Eat cheesecake after.

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No Bread Pizza – for healthy days

No Bread Pizza – for healthy days

It is one of those days where you’ve spent the past weekend being inundated with free food and drink (in my case choir tour) and consequently eat a lot of cake because it’s free and you’re a student so your brain is always programmed to stock up with free food wherever you go. On top of that you are exhausted so end up buying a lot of chocolate on top of this because chocolate (while bad for your voice) is the best thing to sustain you through a long day. Finally you are also a food blogger so can’t possibly say no to eating three courses when you have already obliged yourself (and promised those around you) that you will blog about it. (see the Italian Isle of Man post.) Right about now you are where I am now, feeling like I’ve eaten an elephant over the weekend, caffeine withdrawal headache, hangover and sleep deprivation. In order to counteract this I have decided to have a day of abstinence/early night/detox, but abstinence doesn’t mean it can’t be tasty!
Here is the recipe for what I cooked myself for dinner, admittedly I have just gone and taken one of the best bits out of a pizza, BUT trust me it is still very filling, low calorie, nutrient rich etc, plus I woke up after this day feeling healthier, happier and ready to get back to the rich foods that normally fill up this blog.

Serves 1
3 tomatoes, chopped in to quarters
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 small courgette, cut into circles
150g Portobello mushrooms (ideal) or chestnut (chea

per)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
(NB If you like you could also add red onion or aubergine or sweet potato to bulk it up)
salt
pepper lemon juice
basil (ideally fresh but I used dried and it was fine)
(I added smoked paprika to this the other day as well and trust me mind was blown!)
1/2 ball low-fat mozzarella

Place the veg and garlic in a flat dish and sprinkle liberally with salt, a dash of lemon juice, some black pepper and LOTS of Basil. Now I’m not sure how long to cook this in the oven (I only have a microwave), but feel free to experiment, I expect you are looking about 15mins at 180oC. In the microwave, cook the veg on high for about 7-8mins. Scatter with torn bits of mozzarella and put back in the microwave or oven for about 2mins, until melted, enjoy…..

Of course this isn’t an exclusively healthy dish. You could add more mozzarella, add goats cheese, serve with garlic bread, drizzle with olive oil or pesto, add pepperoni or chicken or even for extra decadence try four cheeses and bacon….

Under the Sea

Under the Sea

I have recently been spending a small fortune on Seaweed salad from Yo Sushi. In a similar way to the juice addiction I tend to have small time addictions with food where I eat certain things for months on end, every day at some time or other, and then suddenly decide I don’t want them again and stop eating it altogether. Previous fads have gone from the healthy, Pret’s avocado juice, Sainsbury’s melon snack packs, to the unhealthy, curlywurly’s, coconut and vanilla popcorn, to the plain strange, Bird’s custard with cocoa powder to make chocolate custard…. The main issue with the seaweed salad addiction is the fact it costs £2.50 a pop, which as a poor student I immediately knew was unsustainable. So as the juice before it, I am striving to make this at home.

The first step was research. I clocked the list of ingredients in the Yo Sushi version and shaved it down to the basics. As far as I could tell all I needed was; dried seaweed, soy sauce, sugar, rive vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds. I took one of those fairly dangerous gambles and ordered my dried seaweed off Amazon and managed to get four hefty bags for about £10 (I’ve used half so far). When they came, they neither looked nor smelt particularly appetising. When shredded and soaked in water they smelt even worse, but I persevered. I rinsed the slimy seaweed several times and drained it well.

Then I liberally seasoned it with the afore mentioned ingredients (to taste) and I was amazed. Like magic my slimy, smelly seaweed had transformed into a immensely tasty salad, incredibly reminiscent of the Yo Sushi version (although admittedly carrot would have livened up the colour.) In fact the only thing I would do differently was maybe use red Gamma seaweed or something instead of Konbu as it was a little more chewy than I expected, but otherwise I am feeling possibly a little too proud of my recent procrastination.

Juicy Times

Juicy Times

In some sort of crazy plan to try and actually stay healthy this year, I have decided to start juicing for breakfast. Well that and also wanting to constantly use my shiny new blender which works so fast the bigger stress about making this juice is washing up and it works out a lot cheaper than the pret a manger   version. Having tried and failed a almost totally veg juice ( U7 as my faithful taste tester informed me it was a little lacking in flavour…)
The great thing about this juice is that it is tasty but also makes you glow.

Makes about 6 servings
1 avocado
1 banana
400g blueberries
250g spinach
400ml orange juice (according to taste)
water

Blitz all the ingredients in a blender, adjust orange juice and water to taste and texture, pour into bottles and chill. Hey presto healthy breakfast on the run for a week

Countdown to Christmas: 2 days to go

Countdown to Christmas: 2 days to go

Now the struggle is no longer against an empty fridge, but instead against a choco-blok full fridge of ingredients I am not allowed to use (according to myself…) This is quite a challenge as I am tempted by delicious looking smoked salmon, home made hummus, a huge log of stuffing and copious amounts of mince pies and brandy butter. But instead I turn once again to the freezer (it’s always these moments that I miss having a freezer at uni, surely a freezer would be most useful to a student who is very poor and can is only cooking for one? Cambridge take note…) I was also keen to make a fairly healthy meal tho prepare us for the excesses of christmas (see above) I’m also not allowed to go too exotic with my Dad and Grandpa (and hide the onions – they have quite similar tastebuds) So in the end I pull up a twist on an old recipe of mine (pea pesto) to serve with a french classic, chicken in white wine sauce, with a healthier slant.

Coq au Vin (blanc) with pea mash (serves 5)

2 medium onions
5 chicken breasts
glass of white wine
handful of thyme
5-6 cloves garlic
chicken stock
lemon juice
salt
pepper
1tbsp flour
2tsp groundnut oil

500g frozen peas
handful mint
salt
pepper
2 cloves garlic
lemon juice
1tsp truffle oil

Chop onion into small squares, smash garlic with a crusher or bang the flat side of a knife hard against garlic halves to flatten. (NB to peel garlic easily, chop each clove in half and push from skin side to pop clove out of its shell)
Heat oil in a large pan and add onion and garlic and a good sprinkling of salt (to draw out the water from the onion and aid sweating)
When soft, add the wine and thyme, pepper and lemon juice. Add the chicken breasts and top with chicken stock, and simmer for 15mins. Remove chicken from the pan, add the flour and whisk to avoid lumps, reducing till you get a slightly thickened sauce, place the chicken back in the pan to serve
Meanwhile for the pea puree, bring the peas to the boil and immediately drain. Place into a food processor with all the other ingredients and blitz till smooth

Serve



Detox Meal 2 – tomato trout

Detox Meal 2 – tomato trout

After a typical weekend of brunch and boozy evenings (never want to see wine and cheese again) I was coming out of the kitchen with a typical ‘I NEED TO GET GREEN VEGETABLES INSIDE ME’ dish that my body was screaming out for, when I was stopped and complimented by U8 and U7 for my both healthy looking and yummy smelling dish. Therefore this dish is for them.

Here are the benefits in this dish
1. Trout is healthier than salmon but still has lots of Omega 3
2. Broccoli is good for the liver (a necessity)
3. Garlic cures all overindulgences
4. Fills you up
5. tomatoes make your skin look amazing
6. mostly very cheap – trout is only £1.50 per fillet and everything else is sainsburys basics
7. spice speeds up the metabolism
8. it takes all of 15mins to make and it is all on a hob (thanks student cooking)

Ingredients
1 trout fillet
1x400g chopped tomatoes
1x onion
4 garlic cloves (or 2tsp very lazy chopped garlic)
1 small courgette
half a head of broccoli
salt
Worcester sauce
smoked paprika
dried parsley
black pepper
individual pack of Philadelphia (get the light stuff to be super healthy)

Place the chopped onion and garlic in a pan and sprinkle over some sea salt (this will help them sweat  cooking without oil). After a minute sprinkle over some paprika and worcester sauce. Leave for another minute, then add the tomatoes followed by a little hot water poured into the tomato tin/ carton. Leave to simmer. Meanwhile chop broccoli and courgette and put into a microwave proof bowl and cover with boiling water, place in the microwave for 5mins. Finally add black pepper and parsley to the tomato chutney and when thickened pour into a bowl. Then place the trout skin down in a pan and cook for 2mins, then flip and cook for another 1-2mins. Serve the fish with tomato chutney on the side, topped with Philadelphia and with the green veg on the side. Enjoy feeling healthy before you get invited out to the pub again tomorrow….