Hairy Dieters

Week 42: Fruity Rice Salad

I’m back!  With party food!  Well, a rice-y salad – but it’s much better than the Martha salad I made the other week.  This last week has been insanely hot, 30c and really clammy.  Hate it.  I thought that making a salad would be the ultimate rain-dance.  It wasn’t, it was still hot and I was covered in pineapple (I obviously wasn’t sticky enough), and the rain that tried to fall in my corner of London came down as steam… but at least I had salad; and it’s the salad I’m bringing along to Fiesta Friday!  It’s been a while!

When I was young my gran would always make a rice dish at family parties – it was yellow with bits of tinned orange and peas in it, and I thought this was an update of that recipe (I’d make the actual recipe but every time I ask my gran she says it’s a secret, which either means she makes it up as she goes along, or has been secretly buying it frozen since 1964).

This recipe is in the Hairy Bikers diet book, and like all the recipes – it uses a lot of ingredients, but I had all the spices and just had to buy in the rice and fruit/veg. That would never have happened when I started the new recipe night project.  This week the ingredient that had never before darkened my kitchen was wholegrain rice – I’d had it at friends’ houses, but never cooked it myself.  I don’t know why I left it so long – it didn’t take as long to cook as I thought it would, and I’ve been getting a bit bored of bismati rice.

This recipe serves 4 as a lunch, or 6 as an accompaniment, or maybe more in a bowl at a barbeque, and is roughly 800 calories for the whole dish.  You will need 125g easy-cook wholegrain rice, olive oil, half a medium red onion, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, half a tsp ground turmeric, a small un-waxed lemon, 1 small pineapple (200g prepared weight), half a cucumber, 100g red grapes, handful of chopped up coriander.

Tip 125g of rice into a half full pan of boiling water, stir the rice then bring to the boil.  The recipe says to cook for 10 minutes, but this depends on how easy-cook your rice is, and if it’s not easy cook then follow the instructions on the packet.

Once the rice is on, finely chop the onion, half the grapes, cut the cucumber into into 1.5cm chunks and the pineapple into 2cm chunks.  I think I’d cut the cucumber up smaller next time, the chunks were too big – and I’d use prepared pineapple.

Heat 2tsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and soften the onion in it for about 4 minutes.  Add the cumin, ground coriander and turmeric and cook for about 30 seconds before adding 2 tablespoons of cold water.


Cook for about 2 minutes – stirring continuously – until the the water has evaporated, then remove from the heat and add the zest and juice of the lemon.  Stir and leave to cool.


Mix the cucumber, grapes and pineapple in a party-proof serving bowl.  When the rice is cooked drain it in a sieve/strainer and then run it under the cold tap until the rice is cool, then tip it into the onion pan and stir it around until the rice is fully coated in the onions and spice mix.  Stir the rice mix into the fruit in the serving bowl, scatter it with chopped coriander and serve to your adoring guests.


HA the ultimate serving suggestion!  I should have added some more cocktail umbrellas but I can’t remember where I put them.

Would I make it again?  Yes and no… I would make the rice and stir it into the onion and spice, maybe with some sultanas, but I don’t think I’d go the whole hog with the bits of pineapple.  The second night we had it I served it with some barbeque chicken I got from the deli counter and it was much nicer than eating it on its own.


The Hairy Dieters by Dave Myers and Si King (Weidenfield & Nicholson/Orion 2012 ISBN: 978 0 297 86905 4)

Hairy Dieters

Week 7: Mushroom, Feta and Tomato Baked Peppers

There’s a turn of phrase that you might get bored of reading on here.  That phrase is: I’ve never cooked with __enter name of common foodstuff here__. Cue gasp and y’all shriek “What never?  What have you been eating for the last 31 years?  Gruel?!?”

I have eaten loads of things at other people’s houses and in restaurants and stuff, just not gone to the shop and bought them to use in delicious meals…

This meal marks me losing my feta-ginity, and also the first time I’d ever cooked a sundried tomato.  No one warned me that feta comes wet, so I squirted feta juice all over the kitchen, and my shoes, and got it in my hair.

To make this (to serve two) you will need 4 sun-dried tomato pieces (in oil, drained well), 2 tsp sunflower oil, 175g chestnut mushrooms (wiped and diced) 20g blanched hazelnuts, 1 garlic clove, 50g dry white breadcrumbs, parsley, 1 tsp dried chilli flakes, 100g feta or soft goats cheese (drained) and 2 smallish peppers (red or yellow).  The book recommends to serve with a mixed salad – which I forgot to buy.

To make, turn your oven to 220c (200c fan) /gas 7, and cut the peppers in half from top to bottom – remove the seeds and membrane.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and stir-fry the mushrooms for 4 minutes, add the roughly chopped hazelnuts and fry for another minute until the nuts are lightly toasted and remove from the heat.

Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined.  Break up the feta and toss them around with the rest of the stuffing.  Stuff into both halves of each pepper and put on a foil-lined roasting tin (stuffing side up).

A quirk of the recipe was that to stop the filling burning, you have to make a little cover for each pepper from tin foil – this would be fine but the fan in my oven seems to have been swapped for the fan from an industrial leaf blower, and the little foil hats kept blowing across my kitchen when I put them in.

I skewered them with cocktail sticks, but I think this affected how quickly  they cooked, because the second time I made them they were blacker.

Bake for 35 minutes until tender – remove the foil hats for the last 10 minutes.

stuffed peppers

They turned out much better than the photo!  Also, they were surprisingly spicy considering they only had a teaspoon of chilli flakes between 4 half peppers.

When you go out shopping for this recipe, don’t get peppers that are too big, or they’ll be half full.

The book says that one portion (two half peppers) is 401 calories – obviously this will be different for everyone, unless they have the exact same brand of cheese and identical peppers.  I thought I might be left hungry after eating this, but I wasn’t.  I’ve already made this a second time and one of my friends has requested this for a dinner party when I get a table.

I would definitely recommend the book, although, all the recipes are for different numbers of people, which is a bit of a nuisance when just cooking for the two of us!

Hairy Dieters

The Hairy Dieters by Dave Myers and Si King (Weidenfield & Nicholson/Orion 2012 ISBN: 978 0 297 86905 4)

Week 2. Spanish-Style Chicken Bake

In a fat moment I bought the Hairy Dieters book.

I don’t know why, I was stopping at my parents’ and my dad’s a fussy eater and won’t eat spicy food, so I couldn’t make any of the recipes while I was there.  So it went into a book box.

Hairy Dieters

My cousin recommended that I try this recipe, she said it was one of her regulars, so after a few trips gathering ingredients and braving the butcher’s shop (and asking the hot butcher if he’d mind boning my thighs.  We both blushed), I gave it a go.

I had to do a spot of maths to halve the recipe (to serve two) because I wasn’t sure if I’d be OK reheating the chicken.  Because of this I used one red onion instead of half a red and half a normal onion. I think I also used the whole pepper rather than have half sitting around my tiny fridge.

It takes an hour in the oven, so if you’re not usually home until seven it may be best to make this at the weekend.  I’d never had to spoon hot juices back over food I’ve been cooking, and I was a bit apprehensive that I was going to pour it all over my wrist. Also my Cath Kidston oven gloves aren’t actually heatproof.

spanish style chicken

It was nice, and as it contains potatoes and veg you don’t need to make any other things to go with it.  The book says its only 370 calories per portion – which I guess varies slightly depending on the size of your thighs…

I’ve not made it since, but I will – it just takes a lot of ingredients and time to make.  The chicken was lovely from the butcher’s, but I’m not sure how it would taste with supermarket chicken (probably the same)

The Hairy Dieters by Dave Myers and Si King (Weidenfield & Nicholson/Orion 2012 ISBN: 978 0 297 86905 4)