Tag Archives: dinner

Quorn Chilli Con Carne

No I’m not vegetarian. But I like to experiment with different ingredients and health is very important to me. It is commonly said that too much meat is bad for you, and I am personally quite happy eating vegetarian meals a lot of the time. However, I will definitely eat meat when I go home for Friday night dinner and my mum has made her roast chicken!

A quick, easy and cheap beef substitute is quorn mince. It is high in protein and fibre and low in fat. If you feel like you’ve had a bit too much meat recently, or you want to try out quorn, then here is a quick recipe for veggie chilli con carne. The only difference between this and a meaty chilli is the quorn and stock, so this recipe would work fine with beef mince as well, just leave it to cook for a bit longer.

If you haven’t eaten quorn before, or didn’t like it last time, I dare you to give this a go. Let me know what you think. Similarly, if you often cook with quorn and have any comments or tips, I’d love to hear from you. So far, the biggest thing I’ve learnt about quorn is just that it needs just a bit more spice and flavour than cooking with meat.

Quorn Chilli Con Carne

Start to finish time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
500g quorn mince
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp vegetable/sunflower oil
1 tin kidney beans
1 vegetable stock cube
1 red pepper, sliced
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1tsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper

Spices:
2 tbsps cumin powder
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander powder

1. Heat the oil in the pan and add the onion and garlic. Gently fry until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes and stock cube and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat.

2. Heat the spices in a separate pan and then add to the pot.

3. Add the quorn, coriander, sliced pepper, lemon juice and the kidney beans and cook for a further 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with rice, a tortilla and sour cream.

The spices that I’ve used make a delicious combination for any Mexican dish, whether it’s fajitas or burrito, or anything else. I like to make extra and keep it in a jar in the spice cupboard to save time next time!

Do you like quorn? What’s your favourite way to cook it? Are you also a non-veggie who eats veggie food?

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The Food of Love

Last week I cooked a special birthday dinner for Lewis, my boyfriend. It’s become a bit of a tradition that we cook each other a special meal on our birthdays and always try something a bit more excited and difficult than the time before. I already posted about the homemade crab ravioli he made me here.

I spent a whole day researching recipes looking for ideas and 3 hours actually making the meal. I cooked 3 things I’ve never cooked before: crab, monkfish, and meringues. I really enjoyed making it and luckily it went down a charm!

If you’d like any of the recipes please let me know and I’ll write them up!

The starter: Crab salad with avocado and prawns served with crostinis

The main: Monkfish tail with butter bean mash, sautéed fennel, grilled courgette and a roast cherry tomato sauce

Dessert: Rose water meringues in Eton mess

Here’s a few pics! Let me know what you think.

Crab salad starter

I roasted the cherry tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, dried chilli and parsley, and a pinch of sea salt

Monkfish tail with butter bean mash, sauteed fennel and grilled courgette, with a roasted cherry tomato sauce

Rose water meringue eton mess

Calories don’t count on my birthday

Last week was my 24th birthday. I usually think birthdays have a compulsory anticlimactic feeling, and tend to think it was over too quickly, and I didn’t even get to eat much cake/get enough attention/lounge around in my pjs. However this year, I can truly say that my birthday was a brilliant day and I enjoyed every minute of it!

When I woke up, the first thing I thought about was what to have for breakfast; bran flakes, I thought. And then I remembered, calories don’t count on my birthday! So my usual morning calorie mathematics and bowl of bran flakes were out the window and the carb overload began!

The day went like this: onion bagels in the morning, followed by pizza and fried zucchini at lunch, and then foodie heaven for dinner.

I met my family for lunch at l’artista in Golders Green, North London. It is an Italian restaurant, and is truly Italian all the way through. The food is great and the staff are slightly crazy, loud Italians! You cannot miss it if you are in Golders Green, just follow the scent of frying garlic!

I hadn’t been to l’artista for ages, and would usually pick a new restaurant to try out for my birthday. But this year I felt like going back to our classic family-outing restaurant. When my sisters and I were growing up, we loved to go out to eat. However, my parents kept these outings to 5 times a year; once on each of our birthdays. We very rarely broke this cycle, unlike now, when I have to stop myself from eating out more than once a week! So the smell of frying garlic and pizza outside l’artista has always had very sentimental and happy memories for me.

Anyway, we sat down for lunch and gave our orders to the very Italian waiter. My half-Italian dad likes to order in Italian which always makes me very proud! Being my birthday, I can have whatever I want! So I order a Fiorentina pizza (spinach and egg), but clearly the egg yolk is the best bit so I ask to have two eggs! Because I can.

We also order a tricolore salad and some fried courgettes/zucchini to share. ‘Do you remember how we always used to come here?’ I asked my family, smiling.’Why did we always come to the same place?’ My parents thought about it for a minute. ‘Because you three all loved Italian food, and the food is good, decently priced, near home and best of all they do the birthday thing!’ Oh yes! The birthday thing! If it is your birthday all the waiters/waitresses bang on drums and other loud musical instruments and sing you happy birthday! As a child, this is a great moment of pure birthday attention!

As our lunch came to an end, my dad started to get restless about needing to get to work. He started the tapping the leg and following the waiter with your eyes dance, trying to get the bill. ‘Come on’ he muttered. My mum responded with ‘Shh, we haven’t done the birthday thing yet!’ Haha, subtle. I thought they meant they hadn’t even asked for it yet, and I thought about it and about my dad needing to get to work and I said, ‘You know what? I think I’m getting a bit old for that anyway, don’t worry about it’. And just as I finished my sentence, the lights went down, the music came on, the drums came out and the waiters started singing along to the loud ‘happy birthday’ music and clapping, and the whole room turned to look at me and started clapping! I loved it! I’m definitely not too old after all!

After lunch I went shopping and then came home in time for my surprise dinner from my boyfriend, Lewis. I believe that even Gordon Ramsey would have no criticism of this meal. It was so perfectly designed, executed, and presented, I was absolutely in FOODIE HEAVEN.

My favourite dish was home made ravioli with fresh crab and chilli prawn filling covered with courgette and tomato, and tiger prawns. It was delicious.

And then came the weekend which did not disappoint. Especially as my baker sister Danya was  in charge of my birthday cake. And boy did she impress me! She made two types of cupcakes, lemon and mocha and decorated them all beautifully and professionally. Needless to say there is NONE left!

All in all it was a great birthday.

However today is no longer my birthday, and therefore calories do count, and I’m back on the bran flakes…

Sweet Potato Chicken Pie

One of my favourite things to cook is chicken pie. You can add whatever vegetables and herbs you like and make it different every time. It’s cheap to make, and, although a bit time consuming, not very difficult.

Tonight I am making my chicken pie with leek and sweet potato. For a kosher version, simply use margerine instead of butter, glaze with an egg, and exclude the cream. Use dairy free pastry or make your own. Puff or shortcrust. It works just as well.

Although I’m uploading my recipe, I’d like you to read it with a pinch of salt! I’m not the sort of person that follows recipes strictly, and so I tend to make things up as I’m cooking. I consider recipes to be inspiration rather than instructions. Therefore I’d like you to feel free to do the same. Don’t like tarragon? Don’t add it. Don’t like leek? Change it to mushroom. You get the picture…

Chicken Pie with Leek and Sweet Potato

Start to finish time:  1 hr 30 mins
Serves: 3 people

25g cooking butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 large or 2 medium white onions
1/2 red onion
2 large garlic cloves
1 large leek
1 large sweet potato
200ml chicken stock
1 tsp dried parsley or a bunch of fresh parsley
1/4 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme or a fresh bunch
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 glass of white wine
100ml cream
Ready rolled puff pastry
2 tablespoons of plain/cornflour
salt & pepper
milk/egg to glaze

Preheat the oven to 180.

Thinly slice all the onion and garlic. Heat a pan with the oil and butter and when hot, add the onion, then a few minutes later the garlic.  Gently fry on a low heat for a few minutes. In the meantime, wash and slice the leeks. Rings are fine as they cook away anyway. Stir in the leek and cook it all until soft. Keep stirring. If you want to add other vegetables such as mushroom now is the time.

Cut the chicken to evenly sized cubes and add to the pot. Give it a stir and then add all the herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the wine and stock or 200ml water and 1 chicken stock cube. I like Kallo organic stock cubes.

Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes and stir every so often.

In the meantime prepare the pasty. If you have ready rolled puff pastry all you need to do is put the dish over it and cut around it. If you have roll it yourself pastry then flour your clean worktop and rolling pin, and roll it out to about 8mm thick. Then shape it on the dish.

I definitely do not have time to make my own pastry.

If you prefer the kind of pie with pastry all around, buy ready rolled shortcrust pastry. Butter the dish first, and then put pastry on the bottom and around the sides. Then blind bake it for about 15 mins, or while the pot is simmering.

Add the sweet potato, evenly cubed 2x2cm. Stir in and cook for a few minutes.

Lastly, slowly add the cream and stir in. Make sure it is on a low heat. If the mixture is too runny, add about 2 tablespoons of flour making sure to add a little at a time and mix it in to avoid lumps.

The mixture is almost ready. Taste it! If it tastes good but something is missing, you can add a teaspoon of white wine vinegar, and more salt/pepper/stock. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stalks.

When it is the right thickness, add the mixture to your pot and drape the pastry on top. If you have any leftover pastry, cut out leaf shapes and place on top. Glaze the pastry with milk or egg, and pop it in the middle of the oven.


Open a bottle of wine and sit back for 30 minutes or until the pastry is perfectly puffed and golden.

Enjoy!

If you try my recipe I’d love to hear from you about how it went! Also feel free to ask questions if something isn’t clear.