Sunday, 26 February 2012

Broccoli Salad with Asian-Style Dressing

by Amy

Substitutions: None
Rating: 7

Does this photo look blurry to you? It's making my eyes hurt. Or maybe it's just the smoke from the pan-fried salmon searing my oversensitive eyes. Course I didn't eat the salmon, Stu did. And I am glad: I wanted it gone. I've just watched a documentary about over-fishing and every time I opened the fridge I felt compelled to apologise to it. I'M SORRY SALMON! I knew you were farmed but I didn't know smaller fish were being harvested to extinction just to feed you! It's not your fault! You were powerless! My sore eyes are NOTHING compared to what your kind have suffered!!

So... broccoli. This was quite nice. You eat it at room temperature which was slightly odd but, quite nice. I was skeptical at first because, when you make up the dressing, NO WAY does it seem like this tiny puddle of soy will be enough to dress a whole head of broccoli. Actually it does do the job but the flavour is not super strong. If you like delicate flavours then it's probably just right. Also, major bonus is that this is super low in pointage because there is only one teaspoon of oil in the whole recipe so I'll be revisiting this one soon I reckon.

Leek and Cheese Toastie

by Amy

Substitutions: None
Rating: 8

Stu said this was really nice. Having said that, packing cardboard would probably be really nice covered in butter, cheese and cream. This is not really about the leeks.

Very simple to make: two leeks, fry in butter, add cream and cheese, pour over toast, more cheese, grill. Ca va. Hugh says this is midweek friendly. It is. It is not artery friendly, but these things are fine in moderation, right?

This is the perfect choice if you're pushed for time and want to blow your daily caloric budget on some middle-class cheese on toast.

Summer Stir Fry with Egg Fried Rice

by Amy

Substitutions: None
Rating: 8

Today has been so sunny that I've been hankering after this one again. We made this the other Friday instead of a Chinese takeaway, as takeaways now taste too artificial to our hippified taste buds.

Really the Winter Stir Fry would have been more seasonal, but I'm a little hesitant to try that one again after I almost set our heads on fire due to a spice miscalculation. This looked like a safer option, all sweet green watery things like pak choi and peas and courgettes. Yum! It was an easy stir fry to like.

What really impressed me was the egg fried rice: namely how easy it was to make. Srsly I don't think we'll ever bother to buy the stuff ever again now I know all you need to do is push some cooked rice around a pan and crack an egg in it. This felt simultaneously like a treat and a health kick, something you definitely don't get from a takeaway. Recommended!

North African Squash and Chickpea Stew

by Amy

Substitutions: 1 Cal spray, of course. That's all though.
Rating: 9

Looking at this photo in retrospect, I can see that this looks somewhat like vomit. Nevertheless my memory of this is unsullied: I honestly think this is one of the nicest tasting things I have ever made EVER.

Oh man, this was so delicious. Why was it so delicious? I'd made this once pre-blog, when it was perfecty fine but no nicer than I expect lentils, butternut squash and chickpeas to be (which is still quite nice actually, I love all those things). But this time I just wanted to eat it forever.

I think it was the saffron: last time, I didn't have it. This time I did, and it tasted amazing. I used it in the Chachouka: just a tomato ragout, really, but with saffron in? Amazing. I don't even know what saffron tastes like, I can't pick it out as a flavour, it just makes things taste better. I think it just tastes of amazing.

This is a shame considering it's the most expensive spice in the world. Damn you, Hugh! This stuff is sold by the unheaped teaspoon and has a security tag attached to it at Tesco.

I will make this again and again.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Vegetable Biryani WITH Tamarind Raita

Vegetable Biryani WITH Tamarind Raita
by Rhys


Vegetable Biryani

Subs: None, I don't think. Oh, I didn't have any ground cumin, so I ground some cumin seeds, and it ended up looking a lot like ground cumin.
Score: 9/10

This was almost definitely the best thing I've made from the book, and definitely the best curry-type thing I've ever made. You do all these things, like with different pans and things, and you're all 'am I going to set fire to this tea towel?' But then you don't, and you make this yummy yum yummy meal that looks amazing and all your guests are full of praise and you feel POWERFUL AND AMAZING.

I'm possibly overselling this. But yeah, I really liked it. The one downside was the peas, which I think you could probably add at a later stage (like when you're doing the sultanas). I am not in love with yellow peas. Otherwise, I was very pleasantly surprised by how deliciously it turned out.

This is the kind of meal you need to prepare everything in advance, because things happen quite quickly once you start.

Oh, it does need some seasoning when you've done the stewy bit on the bottom. And I think you can afford to be reasonably bold with the chilli, because it's a big dish.

Tamarind Raita

Subs: None.
Score: 7/10

This was a nice alternative to normal raita, though I do love the old cucumber/garlic version too. It went well with the Biryani too, because it's all fresh and things.

One piece of advice: DO NOT TRY THIS WITH SET YOGHURT. It was disgusting, and I had to throw it out. It reminded me of this one Lent when I'd given up sugar and tried to make a pudding out of yoghurt and cocoa powder. It was the worst 'pudding' I've ever eaten.

Oh, I think the recipe says that the coriander is optional but I don't think this would have been anywhere near as good without it, so it's worth shelling out for, in my opinion.

Anyway, yes, this was delicious. And the serving size was very generous. There was three of us, who at least had seconds, and half of it was still left the next day! It wasn't as nice the next day though, so... probably a good one for parties.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


by Rhys

Substitutions: 1 Cal Spray instead of oil, a Knorr jelly stock thing instead of Hugh's veg stock. I also added chilli flakes, for a bit of spice.

Score 8/10

This recipe contains one of my favourite things in the world: burnt onions. Also, you have to love a dhal, at don't you? I don't think I've ever had it as an entire meal, just as a delicious side, but I can now attest to it making a delicious main meal.

It's all fairly easy to make, and leads me to believe that Hugh may be a bit of a genius with lentils. This is the second recipe of his where I've done something weird with them (in this case, skimming off the lentil froth), and the end product massively exceeded my expectations.

And also, I love burnt onions.

I prefer my dhal with a bit more of a kick, so I added chilli flakes and that was nice. I guess you could also do that thing where you put a whole chilli in and take it out when you serve.

My only real complaint is that this supposedly serves four people, but it only made, like, two bowls. All of which I ate in one sitting. Maybe he meant as a side. Or maybe I'm just a disgusting pig!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

by Amy

Dried coriander, not fresh
1 Cal spray, not olive oil
I added carrots

Rating: 7

Hugh describes this as a "lovely, light curry" and after making pesto I was ready for a recipe that didn't give me calorie anxiety. I am in safe hands with Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry. This appears from its ingredients, and to some degree tastes, like a curry that's had its one really nice ingredient removed. You know, whatever it is that elevates cauliflower, tinned tomatoes and spices to something deliciously complete. It's probably coconut milk, or like, ghee. Or cream.

This has none of those things and therefore just tastes like cauliflower, tinned tomatoes and spices, but in the realm of calorie controlled cooking it's really very competitive. I mean, this is the second time I've made it which is the greatest compliment you can pay a recipe, right? It's largely down to the spices which work very well together. Except the star anise. Why do I keep buying that stuff when I don't like the taste? Because it's pretty, obviously. I guess I'll just leave it on my shelf, looking posh, next time. I think that's all I ever wanted it to do anyway.

Plus points: this is one of the speediest curries I've ever made. You parboil the cauli while you're chopping the rest of the veg so that once you've got all the stuff in the same pan it only needs simmering for 5-10 minutes. What this tight schedule does not allow time for is sauce thickening; like water, it was. Very unappetising. I know, I should have used oil. I cracked and got the cornflour out--that sorted it. I'm not sure if that's allowed or not. Can someone ask Hugh?

Lastly, the issue of vegetable sizing reared its ugly head again. Hugh thinks a medium-large cauliflower weighs about 800g. I weighed mind: 376g. Does Hugh pump his vegetables with growth hormones or something? I thought he was supposed to be organic. Anyway, to compensate for my cauliflower inadequacy I added some carrots. They worked fine.