Category Archives: Light Lunch

How-to Use Up Leftover Rice

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Spicy Fried Rice with Prawns

I love the challenge of clearing out the fridge of leftovers. Veg that’s seen better days, tomatoes that are ready to go squishy,  saffron rice from last night, a handful of frozen prawns, and red chillies. This tossed-together-quicky lunch turned out surprisingly delicious … according to Peder. I can’t disagree.

I oiled up my old steel wok, sautéed the onion, garlic and asparagus, fried off the rice, added some red Thai curry paste, and just before everything was nearly finished, I poured a beaten egg along the inside edge of the wok so it set fast as a blink against the seering heat of the pan. And then folded the egg into the rice. Serve before the egg sets hard if you like it a bit moist, or if you like it a bit more crunchy and crisp let it fry for a few minutes more.

Now if I can only remember how I did this when the fridge is bulging with leftovers again.

How about you: any favourites that you stir-up with leftovers?

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Winter Salads

Winter and salads aren’t usual companions. Wind howling outside and rain coming at the window in horizontal sheets, the Thames over-topping its banks and flooding houses, the Levels have been flooded since Christmas. It’s a miserable winter, and a salad isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as ‘comfort food’. But take a look at this.

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Warm salad. Roasted beet root, warm sliced potatoes, charred onions and roasted garlic – all tossed together while still hot in a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette dressing made from 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, and a dollop of mustard (wholegrain). A pinch of salt (if required) and a grind of black pepper, too. Then I tossed some black beans across the top, hard-cooked eggs, some chopped green peppers and tomatoes, and stuck a few slices of moist, dense (Danish-style) rye bread into it.

It was quite delicious. And surprisingly filling. Just goes to show that salads aren’t just for summer!

Do you long for salads during the winter months?

Today’s Lunch: Tuna with Lots of Roughage

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Lunch’s today was healthy. I needed something like this because the weather has turned sluggish, and my body is following suit. If this was a game of cards, I’d call it ‘flushed’. The salad dressing is a tablespoon of mayonnaise thinned with the juice of half a lemon and some grated smoked garlic that I found at the Farmers’ Market. It’s good in salad dressing but I’ve not found a palatable use for it elsewhere. Don’t think I’ll buy it again. This salad is full of good-for-you fats, but it’s certainly not low calorie with the pecans and avocado. The egg was cooked for 7-minutes.

Today’s Lunch: Mushrooms on Toast

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There’s an electrical storm of impressive strength rattling the neighbourhood at the moment. It stalled here, and here it sits. We’ve been listening to thunder for well over an hour now. Time to shut-down the computer (power surges aren’t good for computers), and make lunch. I had a bag of brown closed-cup mushrooms, a swirlable amount of half-fat cream, fresh thyme, chives and parsley from the herb garden, and sliced sourdough in the freezer. I love that my toaster can do its thing to frozen bread, and I’d be none the wiser as to original state: frozen like a brick or fresh out of the oven.

So while the storm had its way with the Mother Nature, I sliced up the mushrooms and herbs, sautéed them in olive oil, toasted the bread, swished some cream around the mushroom mixture, and poured it over the toast.

This is comfort food for me. I love it. Any sort of sauce over toast makes me happy. I mean, lunch needn’t always be a sandwich, right?

Today’s Lunch: Colourful and Fresh

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With all the colour gone from the garden (new Home Improvement post tomorrow), I needed a light lunch with the brightness of early summer on a plate. I smashed up an avocado with a bit of piri-piri sauce and spring onions, dressed some lambs’ lettuce with lemon juice, pepper and olive oil, sliced up some large tomatoes, and then soft boiled a large egg for 7-minutes (slowly tempered into boiling water so it doesn’t crack). While the egg cooked, I toasted some frozen sourdough. A lovely light lunch that filled the gaps for a mere 3-hours … and then I was hungry again. This needed more protein. Tuna perhaps.

Today’s Lunch: Springtime in Bangkok

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This recipe has a hint of familiarity with Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks Ginger Coconut Milk Soup . It has grated ginger, noodles and a tin of coconut milk in common. Otherwise it’s not her recipe at all, but I reckon inspiration is 90% of the task done, so credit to her given for combining coconut milk and ginger. Coconut milk is very high in calories and fat solids, so be aware of that if you’re on a fat or calorie restricted diet. But it is quite tasty. Mr Misk says that this is reminiscent of Thai soup but without the inferno – he likes things hellishly hot. I call this soup Springtime in Bangkok, as surely it’s springtime somewhere in the world. It’s not here; snow on Dartmoor this morning, and it’s mid-May.

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Springtime in Bangkok

(serves 2 hungry people or 4 as a starter)

Ingredients: coconut milk, chicken stock, fresh ginger, onion, garlic, chilli flakes, asparagus, thin dried noodles, crab sticks, chives to garnish.

Method: In a large heavy-bottom pot add the following, stir, and bring to a simmer -

one tin coconut milk (note: this is high calorie and high fat)
500ml mild chicken stock from stock cube is fine
2T freshly grated ginger
¼ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup chopped/sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves grated
pinch of chilli flakes
zest of one lemon

In a separate large pan, bring salted water to a boil, and add:

8-10 asparagus spears, cut into bite-size pieces and blanched quickly in boiling water for maximum 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon, and chill in a bowl of iced water. Set aside.

Bring the pan of water back up to a boil, adding more water if needed, and add:

sufficient dried noodles for two people. Cook as per package instructions. I used wheat vermicelli noodles. Cook al dente as they’ll continue to cook in the coconut milk mixture later when all the ingredients are combined and warmed. When the noodles have finished cooking, drain and keep them in a bowl of iced water until needed. Set aside.

Cut up crab sticks into bite-sized pieces, and add to the simmering pot of coconut milk/stock. Drain the noodles; add to the pot. Drain the asparagus; add to the pot. Slowly bring the soup back up to a simmer, and heat until all ingredients are hot.

Taste and adjust seasonings if required. I added more chilli pepper, as a pinch wasn’t enough. Garnish with fresh chives or chopped parsley – something green.

Mr Misk liked it ….. ‘nuff said.

Why Do We Peel Portobello Mushrooms?

Well, it beats me. I don’t know why. Facts are facts though, and every chef on telly peels their Portobello mushrooms. Even Jamie peels his. The contestants on Master Chef do, too.

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So I decided to try it both ways. One peeled, and the other not. Same ingredients. Both on the same tray, baked at the same temperature for the same length of time.

Guess what? No difference whatsoever. If anything the unpeeled one held its shape a bit better. Now I don’t know why the professionals bother, and I wondering what’s up with it. Do you peel your large, flat mushrooms? Is there a benefit?

By the way, these were really yummy. A drizzle of olive oil, then topped with the chopped up stems, sautéed chopped garlic, fresh chives, and thin shavings of cheddar cheese and lots of pepper. We like pepper. Baked in a medium oven for about 12-minutes until the cheese blistered. I’ve also made these with pesto smeared into the dark gills, then sautéed garlic, chives and parmesan shavings. That’s good too.

I’d be very interested hearing if you peel your mushrooms!