Cooking for yourself and your favourite people (and gosh, even for your non-favourite people because why not make things better?!) is one of life’s great joys.
I am a
proud spinster single lady now, and my growing-up family are now split over a number of households (sorry to harp on that, but I’m learning as I go and maybe talking about it is helpful to others?) Mostly it’s just Ari that I get to cook for regularly, now although we have family dinner once a fortnight too and all 3 kids are there.
It’s been an adjustment, but I am learning that I can always cook interesting or fun food, even if it’s just for myself. Nobody said feasts or special dishes or new recipes always have to be shared. Sometimes you can share these things with yourself, because babez you are totally worth it. I read recently that cooking yourself beautiful food is an act of love and kindness in your own direction, and honestly it is one thousand percent TRUE!
Okay, granted you might have quite a bunch of leftovers, but think of it as a much more celebratory form of meal planning which is less about controlling your portions/budget in the days ahead, and more about merrily revisiting the fancy-ass feast you gifted to yourself a day or so ago.
You’re so special, right?! I KNOW!!
So, I have been cooking for myself and others – old favourites and some new things too. I’ve also been making things up as I go along, with the things that are delivered in my favourite vegetable and fruit boxes, too.
Chicken and Green Bean Curry
Note: you can make this with potato instead of chicken – just peel and roughly chop 3 medium sized nice quality potatoes
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons of Best On Field Curry Paste (recipe below)
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup of chicken stock
a big handful of green beans, topped and tailed and cut into one inch pieces – then steamed until JUST tender
a slosh of peanut oil or vegetable oil
Heat your pan and add your slosh of oil.
Add the curry paste and fry for a minute or so. It will spatter a bit, but that is okay!
Add your chicken, tossing it to coat it in the paste.
Turn the heat down to low.
Add the coconut milk and stock.
Stir until combined.
Simmer on low heat until the chicken is NEARLY cooked through, so not SUPER soft, but not rubbery. Low and slow is the key here.
Throw the beans in. Give it a stir.
Turn the heat up and bring back to a high simmer, stirring it as you do.
That’s it! Serve with rice or flatbread of your choice!
Best On Field Curry Paste
(Makes enough for about 4 big curries)
1 stalk of lemongrass (just the white part)
10 long red chillies (NOT the little Birdseye ones) – green ends chopped off
1 inch piece of ginger – peeled
1 inch piece of fresh galangal – peeled
1 inch piece of fresh turmeric
5 kaffir lime leaves
5 curry leaves
6 cloves of garlic – peeled
3 golden shallots – peeled
a slosh of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of brown sugar or palm sugar
optional: also add 1/2 tsp of shrimp paste, wrapped in foil and pan roasted over a low heat for 5 minutes or so
Pile the lot into the food processor and pulse until paste-y! Pop into a big jar and drizzle some oil over the top to keep it fresh. This keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze tablespoons full and defrost as needed.
Substitutions: Some people might not have access to galangal and fresh turmeric. You can use the powdered versions if so – a teaspoon of each. It will be different, but still nice. If you can’t access fresh lime leaves, add squeeze half a lime instead. Curry leaves are available dried at asian grocers, so you can use those if you can’t get the fresh ones.
10 Minute Soba Salad
makes 4 serves
1 packet of soba noodles
100g fried tofu, diced haphazardly
1 red onion, sliced
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, diced
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
handful of chopped coriander (if you like it! you can use another herb, if not!)
juice of 1/2 lemon
slosh of rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup of Kewpie brand roasted sesame dressing
handful of fried shallots (from a packet – Asian grocer!)
Cook the noodles until just tender – the packet tells you how – then drain under cold water. Shake well to get as much water off as poss.
Mix drained noodles – gently – with other ingredients. Top with more shallots and herbs, if you want it to look spesh. Eat it up!
Japanese-inspired Steak and Broccoli Bowls
You need one piece of rump steak, one bit of broccoli, one clove of garlic, sesame oil, 1/4 cup of stock, soy sauce, a cucumber, an avocado (if you can get one!), wasabi (if you like it!) Oh, and some jasmine rice OR whatever rice you like.
Basically what you do is put on some rice. (I use a rice cooker and I prefer sushi rice for this, but Ari mostly likes jasmine rice, so we go for that.)
Then you cook a steak until medium rare ish. Honestly, it’s hard to cook a steak just right, I find. That said, I manage to get close most of the time. I make sure I have the pan very hot, then I brush the (paper-towel dried, cryvac-ed rump steak from Aldi) with sesame oil. Whack it in the pan. Cook it for about 3 minutes, until it’s nice and brown on the underside when I peek at said underside. Then flip it over and cook until medium rare – not too squishy, but not firm. Remove from pan and let it rest on a plate while you cook the broccoli.
You can steam the broccoli if you like, but I do this:
Cut broccoli up into little crumby flowerettes. Heat a pan, add some veg or peanut oil. Thrown the broccoli in next. Stir fry it in the oil over a high heat, now add a slosh of Chinese Cooking Wine, a slosh of soy sauce and a 1/4 cup of stock (chicken or beef or whatever you have). Keep the heat high and keep stirring. When the liquid has reduced and the broccoli is almost cooked (Just bite a little bit!) throw in a clove of crushed garlic and a drizzle of sesame oil. Stir for a minute or so and it’s done.
THEN, slice up the steak. Chop up a cucumber. Maybe an avocado. Pop your now-ready-rice into 2 bowls. Plonk the other bits and bobs in. Serve with nice quality soy sauce and some wasabi, if you like it. Yum!
Brown Sugar Roasted Potatoes
Serves 4 as a side dish
Grab one kilogram of nice potatoes. Cut them into rustic chunks. Chop up one onion. Toss onion and potato in olive oil. Throw into an oven tray. Sprinkle with your fave herb (rosemary? oregano?) and salt and pepper. NOW – the best bit – sprinkle with two tablespoons of sugar. I use brown or raw sugar, but use what you have. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, turning the potatoes halfway through. Serve hot or cold.
Note – you can omit the onion, if you like! Sometimes I do when I am in a hurry, but I like it better WITH.
Tried and tested
And … here are some other recipes from other people … things we have been liking a lot, too!
- Jamie Oliver’s Baked Rice with Chicken and Chorizo – super easy and super yummy – we double the recipe so we can have plenty of leftovers to snack on. Serve with plenty of lemon quarters for squeezing and lots of fresh herbs.
- Rasa Malaysia’s Spicy Korean Chicken – this is honestly so, so, so good and you MUST make it! My family went nuts for it – and you can make it with tofu if you are veg or vegan. I like to serve it with jasmine rice, lightly pickled cucumber, maybe some spicy bean shoots, kimchi and some broccoli, too.
- Jools’ Oliver’s Vegetable and Bean Soup (above) – this is very quick and easy to make and it’s really delicious. On the table in 30 minutes. Do it!
- Adam Liaw’s Meatloaf Parmigiana – a stick to your ribs version of meatloaf – the best I’ve ever made, in fact! Serve with mashed potato and some green beans or peas.
- Rachel Roddy’s Spaghetti Puttanesca – it’s delicious. I make it very saucy and oily because it wants me to do that.
AND I’ve been having lots of excellent vegetables – from the Ceres Fair Food boxes – steamed and tossed in olive oil (or butter) with fresh herbs, pink salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper too!
Phew. So there you go. What have you guys been eating? I’d love to know and I bet other readers would too.