Monday, June 27, 2011

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad



I was simply blown away by the food in Vietnam. The freshness of everything was amazing. I spent 5 weeks backpacking through Vietnamin 2006 and I must say its one of the best experiences of my life thus far. I must say I was reluctant to experiment to begin with, choosing to eat a vegetarian diet of stir fries and tofu for most meals. But once I saw what was on offer, I was quickly converted to the Vietnamese cuisine. Hands down you cannot get spring rolls as good as you get them in Vietnam. We tried to experiment as much as we could, though we didn’t go down the road of eating dog as the more adventurous travellers did. But wild boar and stir fry frog, and fresh water prawns were some of the highlights, and Alan did drink the potent snake wine. All in all Vietnam was both a culinary adventure and education!! You can taste the freshness of the food in every bite. They use a lot of herbs in their cooking, more so that Chinese and Thai. It’s all about the freshest of ingredients, combined with fresh herbs and the bold salty flavour of fish sauce that gives the Vietnamese cuisine that wow factor. Below is a simply recipe for a Vietnamese Salad. It’s low in fat, tasty and filling, making it an ideal packed lunch or starter to a dinner party.

Serves 2 (well)

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 carrot , peeled and then peeled into strips using the vegetable peeler
  • ¼ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into  half moons
  • ½ red pepper, thinly sliced
  • Chinese leaf, finely shredded (or spinach/wild rocket)
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 portion rice noodles
  • Optional (handful chopped peanuts)
  • (2 tbsp of beanspouts, though until the E-coli scare is lifted, omit them)

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 grated garlic clove
  • ½ an onion, finely diced
  • ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped.

Method

  1. Firstly, pour boiled water from a kettle over the noodles and soak for 7-8 minutes. The drain and rinse in cold water. And set aside.
  2. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and put into a pan of cold water, put on a medium heat, bring the liquid up to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer the chicken in the water for 6 or 7 minutes. This really makes the chicken less stringy and more succulent.
  3. Combine all the dressing ingredients well and set aside.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the water and allow to cool.
  5. Combine the remaining ingredients and add the chicken and the noodles. Pour in the dressing and toss the salad well to combine.
  6. For an optional extra, for a crunch, sprinkle over so ready salted peanuts that have been lighted chopped.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spicy Scrambled Eggs That'll Kick Your Ass


I'll be honest, I'm not a huge scrambled egg fan, I find them to be quite blah! This morning I needed a breakfast to keep me going late into the afternoon, that won't pile on the pounds like a full Irish Fry-up would. Ever the calorie conscious I need something light yet filling. Eggs are a great source of protein and they do give you lots of energy and keep you fuller for longer.

 So I set about to figure out a tasty egg breakfast that's semi-low fat.

 That's when I came up with Mexican scrambled eggs. That would satisfy my need for spice and kick ass flavours and its also quite a low fat breakfast. After eating it, I'm truly converted to scrambled eggs the Mexican way!!! And you know what......why reserve this recipe totally for breakfast, this would be a fantastic lunch, or a great evening supper also. This recipe is for a one person serving, so change the quantities accordingly. ¡Buen Provecho!


Serves 1


Ingredients



  • 2 medium free range eggs
  • 10 mls of semi skimmed milk
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1 quarter red onion, diced
  • 1 slice of spicy jalapeno pepper, diced (add more or less depending on how hard a kick you want)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 a corn tortilla
  • Spray of low fat oil
  • Chopped coriander
  • Tabasco sauce to serve.



Method
  1. Roll the corn tortilla, and then snip with a kitchen scissors into small strips
  2. Heat a frying pan to medium, add the tortilla strips and fry them with a 2-3 sprays of low fat cooking oil
  3. Remove the tortilla strips, and add the tomatoes, jalapenos, and onions to the pan. Spray more oil if needed.
  4. In a jug, break the eggs, add some salt and pepper and the milk, whisk briskly to combine.
  5. Add the eggs to the pan and gently fold into the tomato and onion mixture.
  6. Return the strips of tortilla back to the pan and fold into the eggs. Careful not to over cook the eggs.Take them off the heat while they still soft. 
  7. Mix in the chopped coriander, splash on as much tabasco sauce as you can brave and enjoy!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Steak, Argentina Style Baby!


The best steaks I’ve ever eaten have been in Argentina, there simply is no comparison out there, they are A-Maz-ing! Whilst in Argentina last November I think I had 2 non steak evening meals, and both times, after seeing the waiter arrive with yet another steak to Alan, I was jealous that I hadn’t ordered it myself. A steak knife is not a prerequisite simply because the meat is so tender, the fork simply glides through the meat effortlessly.
Everyone has a preference for steak, be it the cut, or the marinade, the method of cooking, or most importantly of all, how well they like their steak cooked. As far as I’m concerned, if the steak is well done, then it’s ruined. It hard, leathery and all the moisture is drained from it. Now that may be a tad dramatic of me, but after sampling steak the best way it can be eaten, I could never go back to well done, overcooked meat.
One of the ways of enhancing the flavours of steaks in South Amercia are by using the juices from an orange and a lemon. The acidic juices break done the fibres of the meat, which is what makes the steaks so tender.
So this recipe is my take on a South Amercian Steak, and my version of a chimi churi salsa.

For 2 steaks

Ingredients

  • 2 steaks, I’m using fillet.
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 6-7 black peppercorns, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • 1 finely chopped deseeded red chilli
  • 1 tbsp of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

    1. Combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well.
    2. Pour over your steaks in a shallow serving dish
    3. Allow to marinade for several hours if possible
    4. Grilled the steaks on a medium heat, cook to your liking


Chimi Churi Salsa



Ingredients


1 garlic clove crushed
2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
Sea Salt
Juice of 1 lime
Chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp of olive oil
½ a deseeded red chilli, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped.

Method

Combine all ingredients and mix well to combine.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Roast Mediterranean Vegetable Salad with Roasted Garlic & Pesto Dressing



This is such a simple one pot dish, which is fantastic for those rushed mid-week suppers, and once it’s in the oven, its more or less leftalone, leaving you to get on with more important things. I usually make a big batch of this, as the vegetables are fab in a pitta bread the following day with some low fat cream cheese…….so it’s a case of 2 birds, 1 stone.

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine, sliced
  • 1 red pepper roughly sliced
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 6-8 mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tbsp of thyme leaves
  • ½ tbsp of chopped rosemary
  • ½ can of drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • 1 finely sliced deseeded red chilli
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped mint, basil and flat leaf parsley
  • Rocket leaves
  • dressing

Dressing

  • ½ tbsp of basil pesto
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ tbsp of balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  2. In a roasting tray, place all the chopped vegetables and scatter the fresh herbs on top, the red chilli, the balsamic vinegar and the oil, and season well.
  3. Chop one of the cloves of garlic finely and add to the mixture and just place the other garlic clove in the mixture still with the skins on.
  4. Toss the vegetables so that everything is evenly coated.
  5. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning once or twice
  6. In the meantime for the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together.
  7. Once the vegatables are cooked, remove from the oven and remove the garlic in its skin.
  8. Add the chopped herbs and the can of chickpeas and toss well.
  9. Squeeze the roast garlic out of its skin and mash with a fork. Then add it to the dressing mixture. Whisk well to break up the garlic.
  10. To serve, place some rocket (or spinach) on a plate, lay the vegetable mixture on top, and drizzle with the roast garlic and pesto dressing.

This is one of my favourite low fat dinners, I’m surprised I haven’t blogged it before now actually. I mostly eat this as a main meal, but works really well as a side to a Sunday roast.

*Tip make sure when chopping the vegetables, to chop them all the same size to ensure they cook evenly.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Speedy Low Fat Ratatouille


The low fat mid-week mission continues with this Speedy Low Fat Ratatouille. There are no rules really to a ratatouille, its basically some Mediterranean vegetables in a tomato based stew, typically peppers, courgettes, aubergines, onion, and tomatoes. But if you don’t have all of these ingredients they can survive without something, and they can always take something on else as well i.e. mushrooms, broccoli etc.

This recipes is high in fibre and vitamin C and its very low in fat. It can be used as a side dish, or as a main course, perhaps with some pasta or potatoes. Here is my quick version. It can be chopped and changed to suit. This recipe is based on ratatouille as a main course for 4 persons.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped roughly
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped roughly
  • 1 courgette, chopped roughly
  • 1 aubergine, cut into cubes
  • 10 mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • ½ a deseeded red chilli
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 5-6 black olives (optional)
  • 1 large handful torn basil
  • ½ tbsp of balsamic vinegar


Method
    1. In a large saucepan/wok, heat the oil and fry the garlic, chilli and onion
    2. Add the rest of the vegetables and the dried herbs
    3. Sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, and balsamic vinegar
    4. Fill the empty can of tomatoes half way with water and rinse the extra bits of tomato stuck to the tin and add to the mixture
    5. Simmer the mixture for 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened
    6. To finish, rip the basil leaves into the mixture

For a very low fat meal, I’m serving the ratatouille with a small baked potato and a piece of smoked colely baked in foil in the oven. With the leftovers, this can be used to make Ratatouille Pasta Bake adding asparagus or green beans to the pasta in the last four minutes of boiling, a very handy dinner to make when pressed for time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Extremely Low Fat Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup




After what was an extremely indulgent weekend in Dublin for the Take That concert, I need to shock the body back into healthy eating! This soup is very low in fat, but by roasting the tomatoes first, you are getting a much more intense flavour from the tomatoes. Also by roasting the garlic in their skins, a sweet mellow flavour is created. This,coupled with the fresh and dried herbs, makes a really tasty soup, so you aren’t longing for that potato in there as much, or cream!!!!!!!
As my physio has me on a training ban for at least another week, the recipes for the next week will be extremely low in fat, as working off food is not an option.
But fear not, I’ll be doing my best to pack extra flavours into meals through spices and herbs. This soup can be kept in the fridge for up to three days.



Ingredients

  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • 500ml of vegetable/chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 celery sticks, diced finely
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 2 finely chopped carrots
  • Good handful of torn basil leaves
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf





Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and place on roasting tray, cut side up.
  3. Spray with low fat cooking oil, season well and sprinkle with the oregano. Place the garlic cloves (in their skin) on the roasting tray also
  4. Roast for 20 mins
  5. Meanwhile in a sauce pan, sauté the onion, celery and carrot in a few sprays of low fat cooking oil and the thyme leaves.
  6. Sprinkle with a little salt to prevent them browning
  7. After 7-10 minutes, once soft, add the stock and the bay leaf
  8. Add the roast tomatoes also and sqeeze the garlic out of its skin and put it into the broth also.
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil and then back to a simmer
  10. With a hand held blender, whizz up the soup and season well again and add the torn basil leaves.


To make this a heartier soup, you could add some red lentils, or cannellini beans, or cook some broken up spaghetti in the soup. But as this is Extremely low fat version, so we’re sticking with the veggies only.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lamb Souvalaki (Greek Lamb Kebabs)


 I have 2 rump lamb steaks and I want to do a summery dish with them. What better way to cook lamb to conjour up summer time smells, than to do a Greek dish. This Lamb souvalaki is simple to prepare. Simply marinate and grill or BBQ, and serve with a simple potato salad, or perhaps a pitta bread, some yogurt & couscous.

Ingredients

  • 2 lamb steaks cut into bite size chunks
  • ½ lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped oregano
  • ½ tsp of chopped rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 mushrooms
  • 1 green pepper
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Marinate the lamb for approx 30-40 mins in the juice, oil, garlic and herbs
  2. Chop the onion, mushrooms and green pepper into bite size chunks
  3. Soak some wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes
  4. Skew the lamb and vegetables onto the skewers, alternating the lamb and vegatables
  5. Preheat a grill or BBQ to high
  6. Grill the skewers for 6-7 minutes each side
  7. I would serve this with tzatiki or a spicy yogurt dip and cous cous

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thai Spicy Sweet n' Sour Prawns



I used to be a huge fan of Asian take-aways, but a lot of the time you don’t know what’s in them, and they can be quiet fattening, even if you think you’re choosing something healthy. One of the classic dishes when ordering a Chinese or a Thai is sweet and sour.  Sweet and sour from the Chinese is extremely high in calories. This is my  low fat take on a Thai Prawn Sweet and Sour. I’m trying to use the freshest of ingredients and omitting all the fattening qualities of a typical sweet and sour dish. So next time you fancy a sweet and sour, don’t be tempted to call for take-out.This recipe is a lot healthier again than a shop bought jar of sweet and sour sauce. So give this recipes a whirl, it’s zingy and refreshing and not as heavy or sickly as typical store bought jars. Trust me, once you try this you'll want to make it again tomorrow.

Serves 2

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 stick of lemongrass finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp of tomato ketchup
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded) minced
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 thumb sized peeled ginger, grated (or 1 tsp of galangal)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped finely (dried/fresh/frozen)
  • 1 tsp of cornflour mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste (not essential, but creates a lovely sour flavour if you can pick it up in your local Asian supermarket)

Prawn Stir- Fry

  • 100g raw shelled prawns, drefrosted ones are fine
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp groundnut oil (vegetable oil is fine too)
  • 1 onion sliced
  • ½ courgette, sliced (use whatever veggies you have available)
  • 1 sliced tomato
  • 4-5 finely shredded mangetout
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • Juice of a lime

Method

  1. To make the sweet and sour sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients, except for the cornflour mixture. I come from the School Of Lazy so I usually whizz it all together with a blender.
  2. Set the sauce aside.
  3. Get a wok onto hot, pour in the oil
  4. Add the onions and pepper and stir fry for 2-3 minutes
  5. Add the sliced cucumber and sliced courgette and stir fry
  6. Add the sweet and sour sauce and cook the sauce for a few minutes
  7. To thicken the mixture use some of the cornflour mixture (judge accordingly)
  8. Add the prawns and stir fry until cooked
  9. Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander, and a squeeze of lime juice.
  10. Serve with rice or noodles
**For an extra sweet kick you could add some chopped pineapple chunks.




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greek Griddled Aubergine Salad


This salad can be served as a starter/lunch/side dish or even as a main course with a baked potato or some couscous. Ideally this should be cooked on a BBQ. It’s a great dish to serve at summertime BBQs for those guests who aren’t lovers of meat.


Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine
  • Thyme leaves from 3 sprigs
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp of cumin powder
  • 1 handful of rocket
  • 80g of low fat feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp of chopped flat leaf parsley


Method

  1. Slice the aubergine into rounds, sprinkle with salt and set aside for 20 minutes
  2. To make the marinade, combine the thyme, garlic,  ½ the lemon zest and juice, ½ tbsp of oil and cumin powder.
  3. Squeeze excess water out of the aubergine and pour over the marinade.
  4. Let to marinade soak into the aubergine for 15-20 minutes
  5. Heat a grill pan to high, and cook the marinated slices of aubergines, transfer the slices to plate and keep them warm until all slices are cooked
  6. To serve, arrange the rocket on a plate.
  7. Combine the remaining oil, lemon zest and juice, vinegar and chopped herbs, to create a really refreshing dressing. Season well with salt and pepper
  8. Place the aubergine slices over the rocket, crumble over the feta and pour over the dressing.
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