Weekly Menu 2

January is such a difficult month with all the diets and good intentions that are flying around. I don’t diet, just try to eat healthy and from time to time I cut out carbs from either lunch or dinner depending on if I need comforting or not (carbs = comfort to me). Usually on the weekends though I take a break, not going mad but certainly not abstaining.  Without realising this has turned into quite a veggie/fishy week, not sure how that happened – maybe my inner veggie/pescatarian is trying to get out!  There are a few ingredients in this week’s menu which may require you to go to an Indian grocery shop or Asian supermarket although I have noticed that certain Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores depending on where they are located carry a fair amount of Asian ingredients so you may get lucky depending on where you live.

Saturday – Herb crusted cod w/ veg
Sunday – Roast shoulder of lamb stuffed with couscous
Monday – Stir fried mushrooms and spring greens (noodles optional)
Tuesday – Red lentil’s (dhal) with coconut milk Sri Lankan style w/ chapatis or naan bread
Wednesday – New potato and parmesan frittata w/ rocket and watercress
Thursday – Prawn and lemongrass broth (sticky rice optional)
Friday – Steak sandwiches

Enjoy and do let me know if you try any of the recipes and how they turn out for you.  Perhaps you did something differently which made it totally yummy, I would love to know!

Herb crusted cod w/ veg of your choice
Ingredients
4 skinless cod fillets
Vegetable oil
110 gfresh white breadcrumbs
1 lemon, grated zest and juice
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped chives
A little Dijon mustard

Method
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7 and lightly grease a shallow baking dish with a little vegetable oil. Place the cod in the dish and season lightly with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, juice and herbs. Brush the top of the cod with the mustard or spread thinly if you find it easier. Top with the breadcrumb and herb mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for 18 – 20 minutes or until the fish is just done and the crust golden and crunchy. Serve with vegetables of your choice, I personally like green beans and brocoli and also baby carrots finished in some butter and thyme or would also be nice with a mixed salad.

Roast shoulder of lamb stuffed with couscous
Ingredients
Shoulder of lamb about 1.3kg, bone removed – you can get the butcher to do this or buy a boneless one from the supermarket
1 large red onion
Olive oil
90 g fine couscous
200 ml boiling water
Handful of golden sultanas
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 large pinches cinnamon

Method
Peel and thinly slice the onion, then let it soften in a little olive oil over a moderate heat, stirring from time to time until soft and golden. Put the couscous in a bowl and pour over the water. Leave for 10 minutes. Pre-heat the oven at 220C/gas mark 8.

Fluff the couscous with a fork to separate the grains. Stir in the softened onion, the sultanas and the spices. Season with salt and pepper then stuff the mixture into the pocket inside the lamb where the bone used to be. Pull the meat over the stuffing and seal with a skewer or tie with string. Place the stuffed lamb in a roasting tin, scattering any spare stuffing around the outside and rub a little olive oil over the fat. Pour a glass of water into the roasting tin and then put oven.

Roast the lamb for 20 minutes then lower the heat to 200C/gas mark 6, and continue roasting for 40 minutes until the fat is crisp and golden and the meat juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Red lentils (dhal) with coconut milk Sri Lankan style
Ingredients
200 g red lentils
¼ tsp turmeric
2 cups water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
½ onion finely chopped
2 whole dried red chillies, broken into pieces
few curry leaves, dried is also fine if you can’t find fresh but at a push you can leave this out
¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk – shake the can well so that all the really thick milk gets well mixed with the watery liquid

Method
Wash lentils thoroughly then put in a large saucepan and add water and turmeric, bring to the boil then let it simmer on a medium heat for about 15 mins. Becareful and keep and eye on it as dhal tends to boil over, if you leave a wooden spoon in the pot it helps prevent this. Once the dhal is cooked, it will turn yellow in colour and will have a nice mushy consistency. Add the broken pieces of dried red chillies. Add salt to taste and the coconut milk and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Take a small frying pan and heat the oil, then fry the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. Once it gets nice and fragrant add the onions and curry leaves (if using). When the onions caramalise add this mixture to the cooked dhal and cook over a low heat for another 5 minutes. Taste the dhal, if it’s too spicy or too thin in consistency you can add a little more of the thick coconut milk and simmer for a little longer. If it’s not spicy enough then you can add 1/2 – 1 tsp of chilli powder and then cook for a little longer. The dhal is ready for serving when it is lovely and thick, serve with chapatis or naan bread if you prefer, you can buy both in the supermarkets or make yourself!

Stir fried mushrooms and spring greens
Ingredients
2 heads of spring greens or one large packet, shredded
150 g of closed cup mushrooms (more if you like them), thickly sliced or if little ones then halved
3 shallots finely sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp finely sliced ginger
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced finely – you can leave the seeds in if you want more heat or just add one for a gentle kick
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce

Method
Heat the oil in a wok until it just starts to smoke then add the shallots, garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for around 30-40 seconds stirring continuously. Then add the mushrooms and stir fry till they take on some colour and soften a little. Then add your greens and give the wok a good shake or use a spatula to mix well. Once the greens start to soften and wilt add your fish sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce then after stirring check for seasoning and add as necessary. After about 7-8 mins this dish will be done as you don’t want your greens too soggy. You can serve this with a small portion of noodles lightly dressed in a drop or two of sesame oil – it’s deceptively filling.

New potato and parmesan frittata w/ rocket and watercress
Ingredients
600 g new potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
8 free-range eggs
2 tbsp finely snipped fresh chives
100 g parmesan, finely grated
Bag of watercress and rocket leaves, washed

Method
Cook the unpeeled potatoes in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until tender when tested with the point of a knife. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into chunky slices.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based non-stick frying pan big enough to take all the ingredients, about 28cm. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft and beginning to brown. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs, chives and seasoning then add the cheese and whisk again. Heat the grill to moderately hot. Add the potato slices to the onions and then pour over the egg mixture. Cook over a low heat until the edges are beginning to firm up and the frittata is lightly set. This may take up to 10 minutes.

Place the pan under the grill. Don’t place the pan too close to the heat or it will burn on top before the centre is cooked. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the eggs are set and the top is a lovely golden colour. Serve hot or cold with watercress and rocket leaves. You can also throw some smoked salmon into this if you aren’t feeling the veggie vibe.

Prawn and lemongrass broth
Ingredients
750 ml chicken/fish stock
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 birdseye chillies, finely sliced 
1 stalk of lemongrass, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, squashed
A small chunk of ginger, sliced – around the size of the end of your thumb
1 tsp palm sugar
A shallot, peeled and sliced 
150 g raw tiger prawns 
Handful of coriander leaves 
Handful of Thai basil
A good squeeze of lime juice

Method
Put the stock, fish sauce, chillies, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, palm sugar, and shallot in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, then strain into another saucepan. Bring back up to a simmer and add the prawns. Cook for 2-3 minutes until cooked. Serve with the herbs and a squeeze of lime. This can be served on its own or with a portion of sticky rice.

Steak Sandwiches
Ingredients

 2 x 300 g Rump steaks
2 Sprigs fresh thyme, stripped off the stalks
1 Ciabatta loaf
3-4 Roasted peppers (either in a jar or from the deli counter in the supermarket)
Small handful of parsley chopped
 Worcestshire sauce
Horseradish sauce
Handful of rocket leaves

Method
Flatten the steaks out on a board a little using something heavy like a meat mallet or just pound using your fist. Sprinkle the steaks with salt, pepper and the thyme leaves, then drizzle with olive oil and rub this all into the steaks. Turn the steaks over and do the same to the other side, press the thyme well into the meat. Put a griddle pan onto the heat and get it really hot, almost smoking then put your steaks in for about 2-3 mins per side for medium rare (depending on thickness) or a little longer if you want it better done. Take the steaks out of the pan to rest

Put your ciabatta loaf into a warm oven just to heat through. Whilst this is warming slice your peppers up, then add some chopped up parsley. Slice up your steak on the same board with the peppers and add as splash or two of Worcestershire sauce then mix it all together so all the juices mingle nicely. Once the ciabatta is warmed through slice it open along the length of the loaf and drizzle the inside of each half with olive oil. Spread a little horseradish sauce over the bottom half of the ciabatta and then lay your rocket leaves on the bread followed by the steaks and peppers mixture, scrapping up all the juices and piling them on then put the top half of the bread on and cut into thick slabs.

(Credits: Jamie Oliver, Nigel Slater, James Ramsden, JJMoola’s Kitchen)

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