Cooking for 1 or 2

A little over a year has passed since we started out on this venture, a wonderful journey :). Over this year we have learnt and shared a lot along the way about the world of blogging. Over this time we have spoken to many people  with regards to the blog and what we are trying to achieve, and the one thing that keeps on coming back is, are there any recipes for single people or students? So we got thinking and decided to add a section where there will be a list of store cupboard ingredients and some simple meal ideas on how to prepare in advance so that you can have a wide variety of world cuisines.

Like me, the majority of us who start off on our careers, university is the first steps to looking after our own health and well being. Along the way we have many cooking disasters and find new tastes.

As I have grown have grown up, my eating & cooking habits have changed a great deal. However one thing that has remained is a need to ensure the food is healthy or tweaked to have, say, wholemeal flour instead of plain flour. As I have become a mother I am more aware of this need to ensure a healthy balanced diet which is good for the mind  & body. There are so many things which are inter-related and connected. We forget what an important part food plays in our life, to keep us fit, healthy & well. So with all of that in mind I am adding another dimension to our blog, please feel free to send me your recipes to try out and add to this or any other section of our blog. Our main aim is to share our passion and love for good vegetarian food for all to enjoy 🙂

In recent years there have been many studies looking at how food improves our intelligence and well being. I myself borrowed a book from the library on this very subject, because I want to give my son the best possible start in life. Also being vegetarian I wanted him to have all the necessary nutrients and vitamins needed to grow and develop in life. Actually it does not matter how old we are – all age groups should try and maintain a well balanced diet, one which incorporates all the food groups in every meal. It is vital that, from children to when we become young adults (students), we take the responsibility of  looking after our own well being and food is a very important part of it.

Now that I think about it and look back, when I was away at university, I just cringe at the thought of what I used to eat  as my dinners (a packet of jaffa cakes) and my cooking disasters !!! I remember one time I really fancied having an Indian snack called pawa bateta (flattened rice & potatoes), so I made the correct portion for 1 person but then added the spices for 5 people. That is how I learnt to cook for the family, so … we live & learn. So bearing that in mind and a conversation I had with my cousin, thanks to her ground work, I thought of adding a basic store cupboard list as well to help students, single or couples along the way to make a multitude of cuisines, from these standard ingredients. For example, I use kidney beans for my traditional curry, Mexican, soup, salad, Italian, and Jambalaya rice, so the one ingredient can be used to make 6 different types of meals. So the correct store cupboard ingredients are not only good value for money, but at the same time the ingredients should provide meals filled with vitamins and foods which nourish physically and mentally. Below is a list of what I feel would be good to have from which as mentioned you can make many different vegetarian meals.

Cupboard Perishables
Freezer Masala
Pasta & Rice

Canned Chick Peas

Canned Kidney Beans

Canned green lentils

Baked Beans

Tomato puree tube

Sun dried Tomatoes

Couscous

Red lentils Dry

Cereal of your choice & Oats

Wholemeal Flour

Self raising flour

baking powder

Tortilla wraps

Snacks like

Nuts, crisps, cereal bars,

savoury (Indian) snacks

Nan/Pitta Bread

Bread

Cheese

Butter

Milk

Yoghurt

Olives

Vegetables like,

Courgettes

Aubergines

Mushrooms

Broccoli

Potatoes

Onions / garlic / ginger

Butternut squash

Fresh Juice

Apples

Banana

Seasonal Fruit

Peas

Spinach

Sweet corn

Burgers

Waffles or chips

Puff pastry

Ice cream

Pre made curry pastes

& pasta sauce

Oil – sunflower & olive

Salt

Pepper

Chilli Powder

Turmeric powder

Jeeru Powder

Dhana Jeeru

Rai / Jeeru / Hing

Garam masala

Soy sauce

Ketchup

Oregano or mixed herbs

Chilli flakes

Peanut butter

Chilli sauce

Below is a list of some sites that are good to use as a resource for some quick ideas or good recipes to try out. Feel free to forward links if I have missed out on any sites that you would recommend.

Chef in You

Student Cook

Beyond Baked Beans

BBC Student Survival Kit

Student Recipes

Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies

Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies

Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies2

Each year as the mango season is upon us we enjoy eating it just as it is meant to be – plain and simple. The other favourite is to have mango pulp (ras) with our meal (it is great served with puri and any curry). Just so as we can prolong the taste and enjoy them well after the season has ended, it is always a good idea to freeze the pulp.

In the Indian culture mangoes are considered to be the king of all fruits, a place which is rightly deserved as the taste, aroma and juice of the fruit are all beyond comparison. In recent times it has become quite the trend to label the food that we eat as super foods or foods that are good for us. In my opinion all food if eaten in the correct quantity is a super food as it is all good for us, some may have qualities that other fruits don’t but that does not mean we eat any less of it. Having said that mangoes are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and dietary minerals &  fibre, hence qualifying as a ideal superfruit.

When I made these ice lollies last year, with my son, they were with just plain mango. So this year I thought I will do two batches, one with just mango and the other with some other fruit mixed in. So I thought of the 5 a day campaign and tried to incorporate as many fruits as I had at the time. Four out of five is not bad and considering they are all rich in vitamin C, A & E and in potassium, phytochemicals, and nutrients. This is one of the main reasons why I like to make these kind of foods at home as I know that it is 100% fruit, not from concentrate and not ladled with sugar and addatives. I know exactly what goes into the lollies and I control the content of fruit and sugar. This is exactly how  it was when we young, as there were no sell by dates on the food we ate nor did it give us any allergies or side effects. The fact that it is so quick and easy to make should be the other deciding factor in making these lollies.

Coincidently when we made the lollies, my son was learning about freezing water to make ice, so this was a perfect way of teaching him the process of creating something that he enjoys eating. He was very excited as a result to see the process, however was quite anxious as the waiting time was too long (freezing time).

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Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus is a fairly new addition to my kitchen, about four years I would say. Usually I just roast the asparagus in a griddle pan or under the grill with some olive oil and then sprinkle some salt and drizzle either lemon, vinegar or balsamic vinegar. This simple vegetable tastes just great as it has a very distinct flavour. I remember making mashed asparagus for my son when he was a baby and my mother saying will he like that? As she had never tried it before, I asked her to try it and she thought it was an ok taste. I am glad that I have introduced such great flavours to my son from an early age, as it has introduced him to a great range of flavours, textures and tastes.

Recently, when I saw a recipe on one of the blogs I regularly visit, I thought I have to try it because the  British asparagus season does not last very long. It is said that Asparagus is high in potassium, folic acid and low in sodium and calories, and is good for us as it does not contain any fat or cholesterol. I am a great believer in eating the right foods to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle and if the food that I eat contains things I know that are good for our health/well-being then we should eat more of them. As a result I was glad that I tried this recipe. It was a great hit with the family and a recipe which I will make again with a few changes next time.

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Greek Salad

Greek Salad

When the weather warms up it is always good to have foods that are going to fill us up, be good for us and are simple, easy and fuss free dishes to create. This salad is just that, it ticks all those boxes and the great flavours are an added bonus. I cannot remember how I came about this combination, but I have been making this salad for some years and it is great as an accompanying dish as well as on it’s own for a light lunch. A few basic ingredients put together to create a dish that even children enjoy, as my son loves having this salad.
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Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Pesto

sun-dried-tomato-basil-pesto

I only started using pesto after marriage and used to buy ready made jars. It was a convenient thing to do, as at the time I was on an interior design course on Tuesday evenings, so that was a pasta day 🙂 . It used to be a chore to find the vegetarian version of this classic Italian dish. Then about three or four years back I had bought a basil plant for the kitchen window sill and it had produces so many basil leaves, so I thought I should venture into making my own pesto. It was successful and so simple to make that I decided I would buy a basil plant each Spring and make my own pesto.

From looking at various TV chefs and other recipes, as well as a friend (who lives in Italy) telling me that I do not need to add cheese or pine nuts (as they are so expensive), just normal salted nuts are fine – I started making my own version as below. To make it more creamy I sometimes use almond, cashew, and pistachios nuts powder.

There are many uses for pesto, not only as a pasta sauce but also as a dressing for salads, for adding flavour to soups, a spread for sandwiches and roasted mushroom or eggplant. You can also create many different versions like I did by adding the sun-dried tomatoes. Other herbs and vegetables can also be added to give it an extra added flavour.

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Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous

moroccan-style-vegetables-with-couscous

On a recent visit to my local library I met a friend who was looking for ideas on hosting a dinner party for a few friends. She was thinking of a Moroccan theme so in my enthusiasm  I suggested serving Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous as it is so simple to make and would fit the theme she was thinking of.

I first saw a version of this recipe a couple of years back in a supermarket magazine where it was giving ideas on how to use a tagine and this was the vegetarian option. The vegetables were slightly different in the magazine so when I recreated it at home, I just used the vegetables that I had and it turned out to be really good. As I don’t have a tagine I just roasted the vegetables in the oven.

This recipe reminds me of the time when we went on a desert safari excursion on a trip to Dubai.  The desert  safari included a traditional meal and this dish was served as the vegetarian option. The vegetables were less tasty but the idea of the couscous I got from there so I mixed the two together to create this meal.

This dish of Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous works well for large gatherings where you want to try and have fuss free cooking plus it would be good to take on picnics as it tastes good when served cold. The best thing about this dish is the fact that not only is it simple to make,  especially for a large group, but it is vibrantly colourful, which to me is brilliant as half of the way we enjoy food comes from the visual impact.

I was told by Parita from Parita’s World about this event on Moroccan food hosted by Home Cook Recipes and originated by Holy Cow!

I look forward to seeing other vegetarian/vegan recipes from this event.

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Curly Kale, Rice and Beans

curly-kale-rice-and-beans

There are times when I am challenged by my dear husband to use  new ingredients and come up with a meal that meets his seal of approval 🙂 . I sent him shopping one day and he came back with an extra item to the list – Curly Kale. As soon as I saw it I thought Oh NO ! I have tried to cook with curly kale before some years back but found it too irony in taste and it did not quite work with what I made. So this time I thought I will look for some inspiration and then try and create a dish. I did a search and looked at a blogger and from there to a site dedicated to curly kale, which had lots of recipe ideas and nutritionist information. Both the sites seem to talk about the curly kale with a lot of fondness and suggested to use it as a cabbage. So I thought, right, looked at the ingredients I had then added the ingredients to this dish until it was an aesthetically pleasing. Then I served it up and it tasted great, even my son enjoyed it – I removed the green pepper corns from his dish. I thought that something so good for us and tasty, can’t go wrong really. So I will not be avoiding this vegetable in the future. I got some more curly kale soon after and used it in a curry as well as in a pasta sauce, which also tasted good.

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