Thursday, 30 July 2015

Vibrant Veggie Pork (NOT vegetarian!)

 Good evening lovely readers! I thought I needed to follow my title for this post with a little disclaimer, since it contains the word "veggie," which to many would imply vegetarian, but in this case merely describes the presence of vegetables in a dish which is not veggie in the usual sense of the word, since it contains meat. Phew! However, should you wish to make this dish without meat, please go ahead and omit the pork. You could easily replace it with some fried tofu cubes, which I suggest not as a dull meat substitute but as an ingredient in its own right which would happen to go very well with the other flavours present. I also need to make an apology at this early stage, because, although in my ingredients photo you will see a packet of feta and an avocado, I decided to omit the avocado because as I went on with the recipe I decided that I would add the mango to the frying pan rather than add it cold at the end with the avocado. This then necessitated a decision as to whether I wanted to include the avocado at all, as it would have been the only cold element to the dish, whereas it would initially have had the mango as a partner, so I decided against the avocado this time round. I need to make sincere apologies to my block of feta though, as I replaced it in the fridge after shooting the ingredients, only to entirely forget to add it to the final dish. Look out for all these ingredients at the end of the post, in the alternative ingredients section!


(To serve two adults and two small children)

1 courgette
1 clove of garlic
1 red onion
1 sweet pointed red pepper
2 pork loin steaks
160g brown rice
1 mango
100g feta
1 -2 tbsp coconut oil


Dice the courgette and sweet red pepper and set aside in a large bowl, then chop the onion and garlic and set aside separately.

Chop the pork into small cubes, approximately 1 1/2 cm square

Measure out the rice and cook according to packet instructions, usually around 20-25 minutes, and add the coconut oil to a large, deep frying pan. Turn heat up to medium high.

Once the coconut oil has melted, add the pork and cook until light golden-brown on all sides.

Add the onion and garlic and fry, stirring from time to time, until they are starting to turn golden and crisp up.

Add the courgette and red pepper and fry, stirring occasionally, until everything looks nicely cooked and coloured.

While the ingredients in the frying pan are cooking, prepare the mango. Using a swivel peeler, remove the skin.

Holding the mango upright so the long sides are perpendicular to the chopping board, take a couple of slices off either side of the mango, slicing parallel to the stone, followed by slicing off the remaining flesh in such a way as have as much usable as possible. Chop the flesh into 1-2cm chunks.

When the veg and pork in the pan look rather like this...

...add the mango and stir in. Cook on a medium heat for about five minutes.

As you can see in the next photo, my rice was pretty much ready at this point, so keep a eye on yours and remove from the heat when it's ready.

Once the mango is warmed through and starting to soften, as above, add the cooked rice to the pan and mix well with the vegetables and pork.

If you have feta now is the time to quickly dice and sprinkle it over the top. Serve!

I have to tell you that I actually topped ours with a generous serving of green goddess dressing from the delicious recipe I told you about in my last post, courtesy of Half-Baked Harvest. It went astonishingly well with the flavours in the bowl, and I imagine it would complement feta and avocado too.

It's just occurred to me that I omitted a very important fact at the beginning of this post, which is that I designed this recipe from ingredients I already had in the fridge and cupboards. I know that doesn't particularly sound like something to shout about, but sometimes I can write a whole week's shopping list and even actually do the shopping, and then discover a large quantity of something in the fridge which I really needed to make use of and to include in a recipe. For me to have ingredients for a whole recipe without having to buy even just a herb to complement it is unusual. This is probably because I shop to a recipe list and don't buy random things from the supermarket shelves for which I have no immediate use. However, I still don't end up using all the ingredients I buy as two of us are small. I'm sure they'll make up for it in years to come though!

On this note, I really wanted to bring to your attention the blog of a woman who strives to eat from as many leftover or storecupboard ingredients as possible. It's called Leftovers for Lunch, and I think it's such a great premise and ideal, though I know I couldn't adhere to it. So I have been totally inspired by Abbie, who is the writer of the blog, in creating this dish and thinking more about what I already have in the house. If this is something you've been considering lately too, the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign has lots of tips on how to make use of the food you have, and how to plan so as to reduce your food waste. I will admit I haven't had a good look at the website yet, but they had a stand at a community food forum I attended the other week, and I really believe it's such an important thing to do, to try to reduce our food waste. I do find with small children that I never know how much they'll eat from one evening to another, so if they've had very healthy appetites one evening, the following evening I will give them a generous portion, only for one of them to hardly eat anything and I end up creating more waste. I know that if I keep the meal for lunch the following day they will turn their noses up at it. What advice do you have in this situation? It's something every parent serving their child with food has to deal with.

I recall promising some alternative ingredient options back at the beginning of the post, so here you go. I already suggested fried tofu, you could also try diced chicken. I would definitely try dicing a mango and an avocado and adding them both together, cold, at the end. This could actually work rather nicely with chicken. Rather than using diced mango in the dish, you could just throw the (diced!) mango in a blender with a few tablespoons of water to make a mango drizzle to finish it off. The possibilities are endless; let me know if you try any of them.

Thank you so much for reading.

xxx Sam

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Green Goddess Grain Bowl with Fried Zucchini, Toasted Seeds and Fried Halloumi from Half-Baked Harvest

Good evening friends! I'm spending a couple of refreshing days in the Cotswolds at my parents' with the Tonjus, and we had a beautiful walk to the Tyndale Momument this morning, followed by an afternoon in Tetbury, where I must heartily recommend you visit The Blue Zucchini Brasserie. I hadn't visited Tetbury for quite some time and it certainly wasn't there last time I was, but what a place! Really eclectic, interestingly decorated, amazing coffee (I recommend the mocha.) We didn't have lunch as we'd already had a picnic at the momument, so I can't comment on the food, but the atmosphere was great, and what an interesting place. It's also very child friendly as people can write on the walls (!) as part of the decor. I know; it's hard to make that sound like an appealing thing, but if you see it in real life, I can assure you that it all comes together brilliantly. So if you visit Tetbury, be sure to go there!

Linking nicely then, from one zucchini to another, the recipe I've decided to share with you today (I say decided because I have a long list waiting to be written up) is from the most fantastic and inspiring website I discovered through Pinterest shortly after I begun this blog. It's called Half-Baked Harvest and it's written by the most imaginative and talented girl named Tieghan. I say girl because she lives with her family, consisting of her parents, five brothers and sister, I don't believe she's yet 20, and she is in charge of cooking for them all. Check out her website; you'll be overwhelmed at her stunning photography and imagination. A lot of her recipes do require a little more time to prepare and are also quite ingredient-heavy, but saying that, you may find you have a lot of them to hand in the larder. The recipes are also written using American measurements, so you just need to improvise a little sometimes if you are in the UK.

I've tried to break it down a little for you visually, photographing the different parts of the recipe and telling you what slight alterations I made, which were only due to availability of ingredients, not any bad reflection on the recipe itself. The one thing I will say is that there is rather a small margin between things being ready, so you do need to work on this from start to finish, moving quickly from one part to the next. As always, please see the original recipe page for the full ingredent list and method.

First of all, I got together the ingredients for the grain part of the recipe. I forgot to buy some fresh oregano so substituted dried, I omitted the eggs because I thought my family would have sufficient with everything else on their plate (get it? Oh dear!) and to tell the truth, I forget about the other herbs listed for this part because I made this dish a good few months ago now. Ahhh, the days when I used to post twice a week, how distant that feels, even though I only started the blog in March! So perhaps I sprinkled them on at the end. 

 I didn't buy a jar of roasted peppers, as they taste so much better freshly roasted, so I got the pepper under the grill to nicely char whilst I prepared the tahini goddess drizzle.

I omitted the peppers, not because of the hotness, but because they didn't have any jalapenos in the supermarket. I could actually have just substituted some red chilli to give it a slight kick; something to remember next time I make this dish. I also have no idea what nutritional yeast is, so went with the parmesan (obviously). I just threw all the ingredients in the blender...

...and ended up with this (I don't know what that peculiar little white thing which looks like a piece of eggshell is in the middle of the mixture, but rest assured, it wasn't in the final dressing!)

I transferred the dressing to a clip pot and put it in the fridge until needed. That is the good thing about this recipe: a few of the components can be made and put to one side whilst the others are being prepared, such as the dressing and the toasting of the seeds. The grains can be left to stand for ten minutes or so, just to allow it them to settle and remove any residue of liquid, but the zucchini and halloumi really need to be the last things to be ready as you want to serve them while still hot and fresh.

I got the grains on the hob at this point, but they certainly didn't take anywhere near as long as half an hour, more like 15-20 minutes. The grains I used were couscous, bulgar wheat and long grain white and wild rice. I also kept an eye on the pepper roasting under the grill, removing it when it was nicely charred. This makes it easier to remove the skin once cooled.

Next I prepared the ingredients for the zucchini fries.

The pepper was cool enough to peel and chop, so I got that ready and set it aside.

I also measured out the seeds and fried them, soaking up the excess oil with some kitchen towel.

The next part of the recipe requires a bit of organisation in order to bring at all together in the right timeframe. The sliced zucchini needs to be dipped in whatever liquid you choose, between coconut milk or an egg mixed with 1/4 cup of buttermilk. I went with the coconut milk as I had some in the fridge from a previous recipe which I needed to use up; it was that Pride coconut milk which I've mentioned previously which is the thickest coconut milk you'll ever come across, though it did a good job of helping the breadcrumbs to adhere to the zucchini!

While these were frying, the grains finished cooking, so I left them to stand for a bit until the zucchini was also ready. This also needed to be placed on some kitchen towel to soak up the oil.

I cleaned the frying pan and added the halloumi...

...stirred the chopped herbs into the grains, and then it was time to very quickly and smoothly gather all the ingredients together and assemble this crazily exciting looking dish.

I'm sorry I don't have any progress shots of the assembly, as I'm very much aware of how many aspects to this dish there are to be set upon the plate! But Tieghan describes it very well on her original recipe, so there isn't really much lost by not having photographed it, as it's pretty self-explanatory.

Here's how mine looked when assembled.

As well as the cooked things, there are the fresh ingredients to include as well, such as the tomatoes and the avocado, which require slicing at some point in all that activity. Obviously the avocado will need to be left as close to the end as possible so as to avoid it going brown, but I just followed Tieghan's instructions and it all worked out fine.

This was a great meal for my boys, as it's very finger-food orientated, which isn't something I intentionally go for, but it certainly makes a meal instantly more appealing to them if they can pick it up and eat it. They both love olives and avocado, one of them isn't a tomato fan, which is fine as I know he genuinely doesn't like them, and they even ate the courgette (zucchini) with its crispy coating. I must admit that courgette isn't generally a favourite ingredient of either of them. 

I have to so heartily recommend this recipe to you! Those flavours are simply delightful together, with so many complementary aspects, and the green goddess dressing is the kind of dressing you will make constantly just to have to hand, once you've discovered it. Please, please visit Tieghan's website and just go through her recipes, or look up Half-Baked Harvest on Pinterest for easy browsing. She constantly inspires me with her continual producing of incredible, mouth-watering recipes and her website is a great source if you're entertaining too. As well as very healthy, grain and veg orientated recipes, she has plenty of sweet treats, incredible puddings and cakes, and drinks. Just look to feast your eyes and let your mouth water, to be honest.

I hope this has inspired you to make an ingredient-rich, healthy, taste-explosion of a meal very soon!

xxx Sam
Cooking for Sanity