This week, we're going around the world with our food influences, and in 30 minutes or less at that. From Tuesday's cobb salad to Friday's quick ragu, your taste buds will be overloaded with authentic tastes from across the globe...
1 pack smoked streaky bacon
6-8 chicken pieces (I used a mixture of on-the-bone drumsticks and thighs)
150g cooked king prawns
500g pork mince
500g veal mince (or lean steak mince)
300ml crème fraiche
284ml pot buttermilk
500ml veg stock
400ml chicken stock
100g blue cheese
Lettuce / salad leaves
Medium piece of ginger
1 pack baby corn Chillies
Small Chinese leaf cabbage
Sugar snap peas (or any crudité of your choosing)
250g microwave rice (or any cooked rice)
Light soy sauce
Straight to wok fine noodles
Hot pepper sauce (Frank’s Red Hot is the best one)
Dried shrimp paste
Pasta of your choice
Monday - Miso corn noodle soup, 20 mins
A super spicy vegan broth to clear away the cobwebs
Dice two shallots and finely chop a red chilli, two garlic cloves and a thumb sized piece of ginger. Fry in a tablespoon of rapeseed oil for five minutes on a medium heat then add 500ml of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, add a tablespoon of mirin, a tablespoon of light soy and a splash of sesame oil and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir fry the baby corn, a few handfuls of sweetcorn and a few chopped spring onions then set aside. Add the noodles to the broth and cook for a minute or two. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix a heaped tablespoon of white miso with a splash of water to loosen it until runny then take the broth pan off the heat and stir in the miso, then the juice of half a lime. Serve the noodle soup in bowls and top with the sweetcorn, baby corn and spring onions.
NOTE: This is vegan as is, but you could always add shredded cooked chicken or prawns right at the end if you’re looking to up your protein. Otherwise, a soft-boiled egg on top is also good, as is marinated tofu.
Tuesday - Cobb Salad – 25 mins
A big, meaty American style salad that never gets old - despite all the chopping
Roast two large chicken pieces in the oven at 200C for 25 minutes until the juices run clear. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rest of the salad by chopping three tomatoes, a third of a cucumber, the lettuce and an avocado. The lettuce forms the base of the salad with each of the other main ingredients arranged on top. Cut half a pack of streaky smoked bacon into small pieces and fry slowly in a pan until crisp and set aside. Now boil four eggs for six minutes, then plunge immediately into cold water until cool enough to handle. Make the dressing by crumbling the blue cheese into a bowl and stirring the pot of crème fraiche in, a tablespoon or two of buttermilk and a pack of snipped chives. Stir until combined then put half the mixture into a bowl and back in the fridge until Thursday.
When the eggs are cool, peel and slice carefully. Cut the roasted chicken into bite sized pieces and assemble all the components over the lettuce, drizzling the dressing over it all.
NOTE: This is such a forgiving salad you can add anything that may need using into the mix: try sweetcorn, any chopped soft herbs, celery, broccoli, cabbage, carrot – even apples or pears.
Wednesday - Nasi Goreng, 20 mins
A speedy and simplified version of the classic Indonesian fried rice dish that still packs a punch in the nutrition and flavour stakes
Finely slice and fry a shallot in a hot pan with a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt. After three or four minutes, add four cloves of chopped garlic, a thumbsized piece of chopped ginger, a chopped red chilli and a teaspoon of lemongrass paste. Stir fry for a minute or two then add one carrot roughly chopped into batons, and a small Chinese leaf cabbage roughly chopped and cook to soften for a couple of minutes. Now add the cooked rice, a tablespoon of tamarind paste, a teaspoon of shrimp paste (use a splash of fish sauce if you can’t get any) and a tablespoon of kecap manis (or a tablespoon of soy and a tablespoon of brown sugar).
Fry two eggs in a separate pan and slice up a few slices of cucumber. Add the prawns to the rice pan and heat through for a minute. Serve with the egg on top of the rice, scatter with coriander and spring onions with the sliced cucumber on the side.
NOTE: If you have any of those pre-packed crispy onions, they are great sprinkled on top. Use chicken, prawns, tofu, pork or any combination of, for the protein, or leave them out and treat yourself to another egg.
Thursday - Buffalo Chicken, 30 mins
Napkins at the ready for spicy buttery chicken pieces with a cool and creamy blue cheese dip – and some raw veggies for #balance
Put the chicken pieces in a bowl and pour over the rest of the buttermilk. Leave overnight if possible. When you are ready to cook, put the chicken pieces in a clean bowl and sprinkle over a handful of flour with a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Place on a wire rack over a baking tray and cook at 200C for 25 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
Just before the chicken is cooked, melt a generous knob of butter in a small bowl and grate in a garlic clove. Add a tablespoon or two of hot pepper sauce. Pour this all over the chicken straight after it comes out of the oven. Serve with the rest of the blue cheese dressing and your chosen crudites to dip (we used celery, cucumber and sugarsnaps).
Friday - Quick Ragu, 45 mins
Bolognese style ragu needs a good few hours of simmering to be at its best, but this weeknight shortcut version ticks the box too
Put two shallots, two celery sticks, three fat garlic cloves and two carrots into a food processor and pulse until almost smooth (this saves a lot of chopping time). Heat a very large non stick pan over a high heat with a glug of olive oil and saute off the mixture until beginning to soften and smell aromatic (about 10 mins). At the same time, in a separate frying pan, fry off your pork and veal/steak mince with the rest of the bacon (cut into small pieces) until well browned. Drain off any fat and add to the veg pan. Turn the heat right up, add a generous glass of wine (any colour), then the passata, 400ml of chicken stock and a bay leaf. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 35 minutes. Serve with pasta of your choice.
NOTE: This recipe makes a vast amount of ragu, because if you’re going to make it, you may as well make a lot. This keeps for three days in the fridge, or months in the freezer meaning you have a hot, homemade meal ready in minutes when you’re short on time. Don’t be put off by the veal; using two kinds of meat really amps up the flavour and veal is traditional.