Month: December 2013

Week 12: A Thai Style Noodle Fry-Up

After the meatballs and cutlets didn’t turn out so well, I decided to do something very simple and quick.  So quick in fact, I spent longer chopping than cooking.  It’s been a few years since I last got my wok out, and I have never cooked rice noodles before.

Everything chopped and ready to wok – it felt a bit like cooking on TV but stir-frying is very fast and I’ve had them go wrong in the past when I’ve had to stop and chop something halfway through.  Above: chopped chillies, spring onions and garlic, beaten eggs and prepared sauce.

After doing the preparation you heat the wok and then put the eggs in.  The book said to start the egg as if you’re making an omelette – which made me laugh, because I’ve never made one before…

The omelette with the chillies, spring onions and garlic.

100g beansprouts – this was the only thing I wasn’t sure about, because I’ve only ever eaten shop prepared stir-fry before and I’m not a big fan of the beansprouts in them; however this recipe gives them time to wilt and soak up the sauce.  After this the noodles get added to the sauce and it’s on the table as quick as you like.


It’s really tasty.  The only thing I don’t like about it  (which has more to do with what I don’t like about my local Sainsbury’s than the recipe) is that we have to eat it twice in a row if I’m only making it for two. The recipe needs 100g of beansprouts and the smallest pack I can get is 200g.

If you’re at a loss for something to spend your amazon vouchers on, I can’t recommend this book enough: or if you have good old-fashioned cash your local Smiths/Bookshop will probably still have a copy on the shelf.  Mine came from the charity shop for £2.95!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas (/Holidays) and a Happy New Year!



Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 11: Lamb Meatballs, Chop Salad & Harissa Yoghurt

It took ages to work out what to say about this recipe.  It’s not that it wasn’t very nice, I just don’t think I did it right.

Lamb Meatballs, Chop Salad & Harissa Yoghurt is from Jamie’s 15 minute meals, by Jamie Oliver.  I bought this book in the spring after seeing 10 minutes of one program which made me think it looked a good idea for work day dinners.

jamie 15min

I would have chosen to make a different meal, but I was limited in the recipes I could choose.  The reason for this is simple,  the recipes are achievable in 15 minutes because all the ingredients have to be blitzed in one of the many different types of mixer/blender/tazer/microwave/Cern Collider that I just don’t own.

To make this recipe to serve four you will need:  400g lamb mince, garam masala, olive oil, pinch saffron, 1 fresh red chilli, 2 spring onions, half bunch coriander, 2 cloves garlic, 400g tin chickpeas, 350g passata, half cucumber, 2 little gem lettuces, bunch radishes, 2 tomatoes, 1 lemon, 1 heaped tsp harissa, 4 heaped tablespoons natural yoghurt, 8 wholemeal tortillas and an orange.

I am going to start by slightly deviating from the recipe, because with the benefit of hindsight I know that when I got this wrong it was the defining moment that this recipe went wrong.  Start off by putting the pinch of saffron into a cup, and just cover it with boiling water.  (Don’t fill the cup like I did, making some sort of weird saffron-y tea which took forever to boil down)

Put a frying pan on a medium heat.  In a bowl mix the mince with salt, pepper and a heaped teaspoon of garam masala.  Wet your hands and divide this mixture into four and roll each half into four balls.  Put them into the frying pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil.

To make the sauce finely slice the chilli, spring onions and coriander stalks – if you’re a slow chopper like me do this before you start doing the meatballs – put them in a pan with a table spoon of olive oil, and crush in a peeled clove of garlic (if you don’t have a garlic crusher, panic at this point and chop a clove up as quickly and finely as you can) fry for 40 seconds and add the saffron with the water, the passata and the drained chickpeas (make sure you drain them before you start rather than fling chickpeas all around the kitchen).  Cover and bring to the boil.

In a small dish swirl the harissa through the yoghurt.  Roughly chop the salad, lob it on a plate (or a serving board, if you have one – I don’t) and drizzle it with olive oil and lemon juice.  Microwave your tortillas.  If like me you don’t have a microwave it will say how to warm them in the oven on the packet)

If the sauce has stuck (mine didn’t) loosen it with a bit of kettle water and pour it into the meatball pan, and serve with a scattering of coriander leaves and orange wedges (if you can be arsed).

When I made this – as I mentioned above –  my main problem was that the sauce took forever to boil down and was a bit too like soup to have in a tortilla… with hindsight I can say that it was because I put too much water in with the saffron.

I thought I’d make the sauce and meatballs for 4 as per the recipe, and then freeze 8 balls and half the sauce, but we were still really hungry after we’d had half – so we ended up eating it all.  The sauce was really tasty and I will make it again, but first I need to sit and stare at the recipe and think how I could better serve it up – maybe more lamb and some sort of couscous/bulgar wheat?

When I work it out, I’ll report back!


Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver (Penguin 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15780-7)