Korean-Style Beef


Here is a doozie of a recipe. This is what I was originally meant to make in the place of the orange-ginger pork chops but… let’s just say someone forgot to take half of the meat out of the freezer and let’s just leave it at that.

Anyway, this is a very quick recipe and although I will be having a delicious Chinese takeaway tonight (Happy Birthday to me) this could easily be made in under ten minutes.

Ingredients (serves 3):

  • 450g steak, trimmed of fat and thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 6 spring onions, sliced lengthways
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Add the beef to a bowl with the sugar, soy sauce, mirin, garlic and sesame oil. Mix everything together and pour into wok that has been sprayed with oil and heated over a medium flame.

Sear the meat for a few minutes on each side and then add the spring onions. Stir-fry for an extra minute then add the sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

Adapted from here

Verdict: This is very similar to another recipe that I made a year ago but due to the shorter cooking length and use of the marinade in the cooking made for something far more flavourful and tender. So if you are in the market for Korean style beef then this is the better version.

Calorie Count: 267 per serving


Orange and Ginger Pork Chops


Okay so I did not make a post for last Friday since things with the PGCE have become incredibly real. Although it is half term this week for school students and their teachers the same cannot be said for me who is still in college this week… apparently to learn about the xylem and phloem. Alongside this I am now beginning to accumulate teaching hours so I am now having to learn how to plan lessons…

This was a bit of a last minute recipe so I was unable to marinade it for the full time required… whoops.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 500g pork loin chops
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tbsps grated ginger

Combine the soy sauce, honey, orange juice, ginger and orange zest in a sandwich bag. Add the pork to the bag seal, shake and store in the fridge for an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200oC before taking the pork out of the fridge. Take the pork out of the marinade and brown on all sides in an ovenproof pan. Pour the rest of the marinade over the pork and roast in the oven for 20 minutes (basting the pork with the juices every 5 minutes).

Adapted from here

Verdict: Sticky? Not exactly it was a little bit runny to tell you the truth. The taste of the orange was also rather overpowering so it would have been better if there had been half the amount of orange zest. What could have also helped is to have actually marinated the pork overnight so that all the flavours could permeate the meat.

I served this with microwaveable rice and steamed pak choi and it did make for a nice low-fat meal. It would have also made for great leftovers.

Calorie Count: 165 per serving

Salmon and Avocado Rice


Okay so today I was talking with some of the biologists today (holler!) and since I have already mentioned one by name there are other shout outs that need to be done … so thanks to Ellie for subscribing to my blog. Getting that e-mail on the train on the way to university really brightened a morning where my iPod conked out leaving me to the mercy of a slightly unnerving old man sitting next to me.

Tonight’s recipe is a little over the calorie count but this is nori-less sushi mix and as such I endorse it fully. In order to make this slightly more authentic I added some mirin and sugar to the rice.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 300g sushi rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 350g skinless salmon fillets, thinly sliced
  • 2 small, ripe avocados, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced

Put the rice in a pan with the mirin, sugar and 400ml of water. Bring this to the boil and then lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes. After this remove from the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes.

Add the avocado and salmon to a large plate and pour over the soy sauce and lemon juice. Stick this in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Split the rice between the bowls and serve with the salmon, avocado, spring onions and chilli. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and serve.

Adapted from here

Verdict: Handling raw fish is a little weird to be perfectly honest as is the prospect of eating it… I know sushi contains raw fish and I love eating it but it’s weird when you do it yourself… even though I have made proper sushi before.

What this is essentially is a California Roll mix without the surrounding seaweed. The seasoning made the salmon and avocado taste great. It would have been great as a wrap too (with all the spring onion, chilli and sesame seed gubbins).

Calorie Count:  519 per serving

Tortellini Minestrone


Here is another recipe for all the Lauras/trainee teachers/people who like quick and easy recipes.

Minestrone soup has always been a favourite of my mum’s and the whole point of it is to use up left overs or whatever seasonal vegetables are available. As such any recipe that arises which attempts to provide a definitive list of ingredients is to be viewed with suspicion.

Therefore, despite the fact that this is a recipe see it more as a guide rather than a strait-jacket.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • a pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • a small bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 courgette, diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml low sodium vegetable stock
  • 250g pack spinach and ricotta tortellini

Fry the onion and garlic in a pan with a few sprays of low-calorie oil and the chilli flakes for 5 minutes. Now add the celery, carrot, courgette and half of the parsley. Fry this for five more minutes before adding the tomatoes and stock. Simmer this for 10 minutes whilst, in another pan, cooking the tortellini according to the package instructions.

Drain the tortellini and then add it to the rest of the soup mixture with the remaining parsley.

Adapted from here

Verdict: Okay, so this is supposed to serve two… but there was really so much here that it could have easily served three or four without anyone going hungry. The great thing about this is that there are so many different varieties of tortellini out there which means you are able try out new ideas (cheese and ham would be nice here).

As with many other recipes this is a great base which allows you to build on it. A sprinkling of Parmesan would go down well as would some herbs such as oregano or thyme. The choice id yours really.

Calorie Count: 491 per serving

Thin Cooking Loves… Sharing


The whole point of a blog is to share ideas and feelings. The whole point of a cookery blog is to share the exact same things but about recipes, food and appliances.

However, this is not the sort of sharing that I mean in terms of today’s “Thin Cooking Loves…” rather the type of sharing where you bring food into college/work and watch as the Celebrations tin becomes emptier and emptier.

This was a habit that I got into back in the journalism days… the less said about that the better. Good mates came out of it but not exactly good experiences. I missed baking for others so brought in a large batch of snickerdoodles to university to share with my fellow Biologists. Let’s just say that I may start to bake regularly again… once I’ve shifted this cold.

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Gratin


Okay, so a year into this blog and I am seriously beginning to run out of ideas. Well… not me to be fair… I’ll explain.

Since I am now on experience in an actual factual school, which I love, what we eat every night is now agreed between the three of us rather than me having free rein. As such, with me having less say this recipe came up which resembles one I made last November. However, they are still suitably due to this using frozen smoked haddock fillets, Gruyere and no tomatoes.

Ingredients (serves 3):

  • 300g bag spinach, washed
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 3 x 150g frozen smoked haddock fillets
  • 150ml half-fat crème fraîche
  • 1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 110g Gruyère , grated
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 200oC. Wilt the spinach in a pan with the butter, squeeze out any remaining liquid with the back of a dessertspoon and then add to a baking dish. Add the fish fillets on top and set aside.

Mix the crème fraîche with the cheese and mustard and spread this on top of the fish with the breadcrumbs and them bake in the oven for 40 minutes before serving.

Adapted from here

Verdict: The fish I was able to get was not pre-skinned so that was a little bit of hassle whilst eating but there were no real issues apart from that. As with the other spinach and haddock bake this was rather tasty but sadly not as creamy.  The trade-off with that is that this one actually tasted nicer due to the smokiness of the fish as well as the Gruyere cheese. Granted this is a lot higher in calories but it is also nicer… dilemma.

Calorie Count: 445 per serving

Lamb Meatball and Pea Pilaf


As with all things about good there are recipes that I look forward to making and then there are those where the small OCD part of me comes screaming to the fore as it begs me not to handle the food… I get this way with lamb mince.

Like many people I never liked touching raw meat when I was younger. It took until I was sixteen before I was able to handle it with any aplomb when I got so annoyed with deboning chicken thighs for my first attempt at making General Tso that I just dug my fingers in and ripped the bones out by force. However, despite this I still hate handling lamb mince no matter how lean it is.

As most dieters will know lamb is the fattiest of the meats that we commonly eat in the UK… because of this mince is chocked full of fat which, whilst being handled, melts and coats your hand in a greasy sheen that the hottest of water cannot get off completely.  Therefore a lamb meatball, no matter how tasty it is, still leaves me a little squeamish at the prospect of making it.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 400g pack lean lamb mince
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 300g basmati rice
  • Vegetable stock, enough to cover the rice in the pan
  • 300g frozen peas
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In a bowl mix together the lamb mince with half of the garlic and half of the cumin. Shape this, by hand, into 16 meatballs.

Heat a few sprays of low calorie oil in a large non-stick lidded frying pan and fry the meatballs for 8 minutes so that they are browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove these from the pan and then fry the rice in the left over fat. Add the remaining cumin and garlic and fry with the rice for 30 seconds. Pour in the stock, cover and simmer for 10 minutes so that the rice absorbs most of the water.

After this stir in the frozen peas and meatballs and warm in the pan for about three minutes so that the peas are tender. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest and serve.

Adapted from here

Verdict: When I previously tried my hand at pilaf it ended up being very greasy because of the copious amount of fat that lamb mince appears to store. This time, however, it was not the case since by not overusing the stock the pilaf turned out drier and, as such, better tasting but still rather dry.

The original recipe for this also includes a recipe for a simple raita and I would recommend making that as well since it does add much needed moisture to the proceedings.

Calorie Count: 463 per serving