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light meals simple meals Vegetarian

Rustic avocado pistachio toast

February 19, 2014

I love rustic, simple food it’s no secret. And living in the western bay of plenty, New Zealand means I am surrounded by avocado trees. They become a staple diet here especially when funds run a little low! They’re a whole meal in one, can’t beat them. When my children were babies I always had a ripe avo in my bag that I could just mash and spoon feed to quickly fill hungry tummies.

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Toast a handful of whole pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Toast 2 slices of lovely wholemeal bread – I’ve used a locally made 5-grain one. Squish 1/4 a ripe avocado on each one, sprinkle with seeds and nuts, drizzle with balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice), avocado oil (or olive oil). Garnish with chopped parsley or coriander, season with freshly ground salt and pepper.

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INGREDIENTS
1/2 ripe avocado
Pistachio nuts
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
Avocado oil or olive oil
wholemeal or wholegrain rustic bread
Chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander
Salt and pepper

light meals Vegetarian

I made Chana Dahl

February 16, 2014

Chana Dahl is a split and husked relative of the chickpea, I first tried it in an indian restaurant and loved it so here goes my first attempt. Mine turned out less ‘soupy’ than the other ones I have seen online, probably more like a stew. The flavours are great though.

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1 cup Chana Dahl
1/2 onion finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp dry red chilli powder
1 dry red chilli
1 lge garlic clover, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp paprika
small handful chopped coriander leaves
1 tin of tomatoes (400g)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp of ghee or butter
2 whole cloves

Rinse and wash the dahl twice, cover in water and soak for 2 – 3 hours (this will reduce the cooking time). Rinse and strain then add to a saucepan with 4 cups of salted water. Add half of the turmeric and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer until quite soft (takes about 30 – 45mins). You may need to add more water so keep an eye on it. When it’s cooked, strain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaves and the dry red chilli. When the seeds start to splutter turn the heat down and add the onion, garlic, red chilli powder, turmeric and coriander. When the onion is soft add the tinned tomatoes, cloves and the Chana Dahl. Add another cup of water, the garam masala and the paprika. Bring to a simmer for another 15 minutes adding more water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste (I found it needed quite a bit of salt but I love salt). Remove the cloves and bay leaves. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve with naan bread and salad. I also though some spicy fried lamb pieces with be yummy with it and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

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light meals Vegetarian

Delicious roast aubergine

January 20, 2014

Here’s one for the vegetarians, so easy and tasty. Mix it up a bit by adding other topping items like sliced mushrooms, red onion, sliced capsicum.

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2 aubergines, sliced in half lengthways
2 vine tomatoes thickly sliced
100g feta (goat or cow)
8 sprigs of thyme
Handful of rocket leaves
8 fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
1/2 a lemon
Tablespoon of sesame seeds, toasted
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Grind himalayan salt all over the cut aubergine and leave to rest for 30 mins. Wipe the collected liquid off the surface of the aubergine with a paper towel – this gets rid of any bitterness. Cut the aubergine flesh in a diamond pattern almost right through but not quite. Drizzle over olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven til the flesh is soft and golden, about 25 mins.

Remove from the oven and add the topping of tomato slices, feta and some of the thyme sprigs. Roast for another 15-20 mins.

Serve with fresh basil, rocket, toasted sesame seeds (pine nuts would also be yummy). Drizzle a little more olive oil and squeeze a good anmount of lemon juice over each half.

To eat them I kind of mush the topping and the aubergine flesh together then scoop it out – delicious!

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Favourite recipes light meals seafood simple meals

Mum’s mussel fritters

December 14, 2013

There’s something about mussel fritters that’s very addictive and very New Zealand. I couldn’t imagine life without New Zealand seafood or life without my mum! I’ve watched her make these countless time and I think the trick really is in the prep (see recipe).

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RECIPE
12 fresh mussels
1/2 brown onion
a good handful of parsley, chopped finely (I also add some fresh coriander)
1 egg
1 tablespoon of flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil for frying

You need to place the unopened mussels in a bowl or the kitchen sink and pour hot water over them, this makes them easier to open. Then open the shells, discard the nasty hairy bit (haha), remove the mussel from the shell and place the mussels into a food processor. Add all the other ingredients and pulse to mix. The batter should still be a little on the chunky side. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat the olive oil in a fry pan. Fry large tablespoons of mixture gently in the oil until golden brown. Serve with lemon wedges. Because the mussels are not pre-cooked the result is very delicate, fresh tasting fritters!

Other variations may include adding half a grated courgette to the mix and serving with a lemon mayonnaise (see below).

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LEMON MAYONNAISE
2 egg yolks (your eggs must be fresh otherwise the mayo won’t thicken)
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup of oil (olive or rice bran or canola)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of parsley, chopped

Using a stick blender or whisk, mix together the egg yolks and lemon juice. While the blender is going slowly trickle in the oil, the emulsion will gradually thicken to a smooth mayonnaise consistency. Place into a small bowl, stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

light meals salads seafood

Fresh salmon salad with home made dill mayo

December 6, 2013

This is nice and easy, the dill and fennel add some great flavours. When I was cleaning up I accidentally dropped my vintage glass eggcup and silver teaspoon (see photo below) into the insinkerator while it was going! Glass splinters all over the kitchen. Sad about the loss of my treasured eggcup though 🙁

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For the salmon:
300g to 500g fresh salmon cut into pieces
1/2 fennel bulb
1/2 beetroot
1/2 telegraph cucumber
1 tablespoon olive oil
Small handful of dill, chopped
Himalayan or sea salt & pepper to taste
1/2 lemon
2 spring onions, sliced

Pan fry the salmon in the olive oil till golden on the outside and just cooked on the inside. Thinly slice the fennel bulb, beetroot and cucumber (use a mandolin if you have one). Mix the salmon and vegetables gently together, squeeze over the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, garnish with half of the dill – save the other half for the mayo. Dollop with the home made mayo.

For the mayonnaise:
2 egg yolks
1⁄2 teaspoon of mustard powder
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup of olive oil
Chopped dill (optional)
Himalayan or sea salt & pepper to taste

In a blender add egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar and salt/pepper. Blend to combine. With blender running, very slowly add the oil into the mixture. Continue blending until the mixture is thick and forms an emulsion. Season to taste, stir in the leftover dill from the salmon recipe. Will keep up to 2 weeks if stored in a sealed jar in the fridge.

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beef light meals salads simple meals

Thai beef salad with dipping sauce

July 11, 2013

This is very easy and tasty, the chilli adds a bit of extra flavour burst. It also looks so impressive and colourful when served.

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RECIPE
For the salad:
2 eye fillet or 1 sirloin or 1 scotch fillet steak
1 large handful of rocket
2 large handfuls of salad leaves
2 spring onions, chopped
1/2 red capsicum, sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of toasted sesame seeds
1 small handful of fresh coriander leaves
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup of mung bean sprouts (optional)
Freshly ground salt and pepper

For the dressing:
Zest and juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 small red chilli, chopped finely
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced or diced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and place in a lidded jar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Marinate the steak for 1 – 2 hours in a little of the dressing.

Barbecue or pan fry your steak till medium rare. Set aside and rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile mix all the salad ingredients together except the lime zest and 1/2 of the sesame seeds. Serve on to a platter.

Thinly slice the steak and add to the top of the salad. Shake up the dressing and pour some over the beef salad and some into a dipping saucer. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the rest of the sesame seeds and the lime zest.

light meals

Green eggs and rocket omelette

July 8, 2013

We all get run down and tired, at these times I know I need more fresh greens in my diet. I have a small garden with perpetual spinach, rocket, kale and herbs. This tiny garden feeds me so well, I especially love rocket and all it’s cost me is one packet of seeds because it self sows and regrows rapidly everytime I snip a bunch.

Omelettes are an easy, healthy meal expecially when combined with lots of greens…

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RECIPE
3 free-range organic eggs
1 large handful of spinach & kale (or just spinach if you have no kale)
1 large handful of rocket
1/2 an onion
1 courgette, sliced
1/2 cup of a mixture of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, toasted
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup of parmesan, grated
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Herbs: Sprigs of thyme or chopped parsley

Process the eggs and half of the spinach/kale with a stick blender to make a lovely green eggs mixture.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frypan and gently fry the onion till soft. Chop the other half of the spinach and kale roughly. Add to the pan with the sliced gourgettes. Fry for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat and place a lid over the pan to steam the vegetables for a few minutes. Remove all the veges from the pan and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat, add your egg mixture to the pan, turn the heat down to medium and cook without stirring until firm but still soft. Sprinkle half of the parmesan over the omelette then add your vege mix and spread out. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and rocket leaves to cover. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the omelette in half in the pan, cut in half and serve. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan, toasted seeds and nuts, herbs and more rocket leaves.

The great thing with omelettes is that you can use any combination of vegetables that you like so try different variations.