Friday, 28 March 2014

Recent Meals #1

Besides bump photographs, I've found that my most popular Facebook posts generally relate to food in some way. As such, I thought it would be fun to start sharing our recent food adventures, and how successful they were. 

Broiled salmon and roasted garlic cream noodles with crispy cauliflower and toasted pine nuts
Source: How Sweet Eats (Simon and I are slightly addicted to this website)
Who Cooked It: Rachel, although Simon helped with the salmon at the end, when he got home from work
What We Changed: We used regular spaghetti instead of whole-wheat, grana padano instead of parmesan (cheaper!), and since half-and-half is hard to get in the UK, we used 1/4 cup of semi-skimmed milk and 1/4 cup of single cream.
What We Omitted: Onion powder. We either use real onions or we don't.
How Easy Is It? This recipe isn't overly time-consuming, but it does require a lot of multi-tasking, since you need to roast the cauliflower and garlic, grill the salmon, as well as cooking the spaghetti, pine nuts and sauce on three separate rings on the hob. It can be managed in a small kitchen, if you don't get stressed out by doing multiple things at once, and if you clean up as you cook.
Verdict: This meal is definitely worth the time and effort! We loved the combination of flavours and textures, and we'll probably be stealing some aspects of it for other dishes, like the salmon coating and roasting cauliflower, which I'd never thought to do before. We highly recommend it. 

Korean Stir Fried Rice
Source: This recipe used to be on Jamie Oliver's website but disappeared recently, but you can find it here. You don't have to follow the brands stated on this website.
Who Cooked It: Simon
What We Changed: We used less eggs, and we'd recommend using Sriracha chilli sauce rather than sweet chilli.
What We Omitted: Nothing
How Easy Is It? You need to cook the brisket beforehand (we did it overnight in the slow cooker and used half of it for another meal) so you do need to plan ahead, unless you happen to have leftover brisket already in your fridge. Otherwise, it's not terribly complicated.
Verdict: I'm not a big fan of mushrooms, but we both really liked this meal. We nearly always serve our egg fried rice with fish of some sort, so this made a nice change. It's definitely a good way to use up leftover brisket. I think Simon probably liked this more than me. Unlike a lot of recipes that claim to make four portions, this one really did, so we had the leftovers later in the week.

Cullen Skink
Source: Simon made this recipe up, but it's pretty similar to this one here.
Who Cooked It: Simon
What We Changed: We used smoked river cobbler rather than haddock (cheaper!), lots more parsley than recommended, as well as thyme, tarragon, cornflour, some tinned sweetcorn and garlic.
What We Omitted: I don't think we used as much water as this recipe suggests.
How Easy Is It? It's a reasonably simple recipe, especially if you make a lot of soups.
Verdict: This is one of Simon's favourite comfort meals, and I really liked it as well. It's very filling with the thickness of the soup and all the potatoes. 

Spicy Chimichurri Burgers
Source: Simply Scratch
Who Cooked It: Rachel, although Simon came home in time to cook the burgers and insisted on doing that part. 
What We Changed: We used a full (but not particularly big) onion in the burgers instead of half, three bird's eye chillies instead of one serrano, cheddar instead of pepper jack, and only 500g of minced beef (but we were only serving two people--you might want to use more if you're feeding more people).
What We Omitted: We decided not to have avocado on our burgers as we were using avocado in something else the next day.
How Easy Is It? You need a food processor for making the chimichurri, but otherwise it's just a case of throwing together the burger mixture and cooking the burgers. We used our griddle pan, but you could also cook them under the grill or fry them in a frying pan. 
Verdict: Excellent! We've done a lot of veggie burgers recently, so it was nice to have something more traditional, although the chimichurri sauce definitely jazzed them up. We served these with corn on the cob (wrapped in foil and roasted for ten minutes) and onion rings (from the freezer--we don't do everything from scratch!)

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas
Source: Skinny Taste
Who Cooked It: Rachel
What We Changed: We used this enchilada sauce (without the stock), three bird's eye chillies instead of a jalapeno, regular tinned tomatoes instead of Rotel, plain tortillas rather than whole-wheat, and our black beans were ones that came dried in a bag and I cooked in the slow cooker (tinned black beans are expensive and hard find in the UK). You can follow the low-fat recommendations in this recipe, but if we start using low-fat cheese you should probably assume we've been replaced with cyborgs--we used extra mature cheddar, and probably less than this recipe recommends. 
What We Omitted: Nothing
How Easy Is It? It takes a while to cook the butternut squash, but you don't need to watch it constantly, so you can put it on to cook while you wash dishes, etc. And chopping a butternut squash can be challenging! But otherwise, if you're used to making enchiladas, this should be pretty easy. You can even cheat and buy prechopped squash or a jarred enchilada sauce to cut down on prep. time.
Verdict: We love enchiladas (especially vegetarian ones) as they're cheap, filling, easy to prepare and make good leftovers, and this will definitely be going on our list to make again. Squash is one of the few vegetables that grows in Britain over the winter, and it's fun to find creative things to cook with it. 

Sweet Potato, Cauliflower and Spinach Curry
Source: Simon made this recipe up, but Jamie Oliver actually has a similar one on his website
Who Cooked It: Simon
What We Changed: Compared to Jamie's recipe, we used sweet potatoes rather than regular, and more chillies. We also added in spring onions. Simon reckons we at least doubled the spices.
What We Omitted: We skipped the chickpeas, and served it with naan (Tesco Finest, not our own) rather than yoghurt and lime.
How Easy Is It? It might take a while to chop up the veggies and cook them, but otherwise this is an easy curry--you can pretty much throw together leftover vegetables that you have sitting in your fridge. You could easily use regular potatoes instead of sweet, or kale instead of spinach, etc. 
Verdict: This was a really nice curry. I'm not sure why, but we always seem to gravitate towards meaty curries, so we need to make stuff like this more often. 

Baked Pasta with Roasted Peppers and Zucchini
Who Cooked It: Rachel
What We Changed: We didn't use an entire head of garlic (maybe six cloves), and we used spirali pasta as that's what was on hand. Instead of mixed Italian herbs, I used a combination of different dried herbs. We probably used less cheese (cheddar and grana padano).
What We Omitted: Cannellini beans and parsley. We aren't a big fan of herbs as a garnish (it seems kind of a waste), so they either go in the recipe or they aren't used.
How Easy Is It? This is another one that you need a food processor for, and it does take a while to grate the courgette, but it's a pretty simple pasta dish that you can "hide" all sorts of vegetables in--I've added grated carrots in the past, when I've had them on hand. 
Verdict: We've actually made this one several times already, and Simon often requests it, which is funny as he claimed he wasn't a fan of pasta when I met him. It's a relatively simple, easy meal for the end of the week when you don't want to buy too many ingredients, and it can be served with a salad and some garlic bread to make it go further. 

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