Looking After Myself #2 – An Adventure With A Courgette

That sounds so much ruder than it ought to! That’s at least 3 spoons right there….

A friend of mine was mercilessly mocked at the weekend for being a vegetarian who doesn’t eat a great deal of recognisable vegetables  (as in, eats pasta & cheese – sounds familiar 😉 ). That got me thinking that I ought to try out the spiralizer that I bought to make some veggie noodles.

So here is our first attempt at pad Thai!

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The noodles are remarkably easy as is a bit like a pencil sharpener for a courgette (That’s zucchini for my over the pond people) and because they’re softish, it’s 5 minutes to make a big bowl.

Basically, the appeal of this is making something quick that has veg in it and is vaguely healthy without me needing to stand for too long. And tastes good.

Essentially I bastardised this recipe from Inspiralized and had a take out menu on standby. I’m not usually one for weird fads, but the veggie noodles promised me more veg, fewer calories & the satisfaction of getting Mr Geek to eat courgettes.

Cooking took a full 3 minutes (prep about 5). I approve of this.

I prodded my food.

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It smells like Pad Thai. It even looks like Pad Thai…. and fuck me, it actually tastes like it too! The only hint that these noodles were importers were that they were slightly more fibrous and I couldn’t do my usual cut between top teeth & bottom lip. (Stupid jaw – I have a massive, but hidden over bite with my bottom teeth a full cm further back than my top teeth and a narrower jaw.)

So I now have another veg packed go to meal for feeling like crap days and it’s yum!

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This will of course be fully remedied by eating a vat of chocolate this evening whilst we continue to binge watch Community. But this isn’t a diet. It was dinner.

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I make my left overs taste gooooood – chicken curry of no particular type.

I made roast chicken on Tuesday. And after we ate, we stuck the rest in the fridge for sandwiches… Except no one has had a chicken sandwich, so what to do with a chicken carcass and six hungry people?

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The simple answer is curry. The long answer is this recipe which has been adapted from a variety of different places from friends who make a simple curry powder and jam sauce to a master chef takes you seven hours butter chicken thing (mine is NOT that complicated). What it is not, is out of a jar.

Firstly, I use spices. This curry needs to be mild enough for the kids, but flavorsome enough to keep LSH interested in eating my food. Not too sweet for my Dad, but not sour or too weird looking for my mum. Oh, and I have to be able to cook it with TintPants “helping”. And not make too much mess.

For this you’ll need:

Chicken – cooked. Some. (Depends what’s left on the carcass!)
2 chicken stock cubes
2 onions
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Coriander
Garlic powder (or chopped, whatever)
Garam Marsala powder (about 2tsp)
Medium curry powder (about 2 tsp)
Cumin
Some fresh coriander (it’s yummy)
Randomly chopped up veg (I had courgette, cauliflower and aubergine in the fridge)
Water

Rice to go with it, or equally some naan bread works well too. Or both…

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Roughly chop the onions, and fry them gently in a big pan or wok in a good slosh of oil. Chuck in the garlic and spices and fry the lot until the onions are soft. Then put in the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the stock cubes. Refill the can with water and stick this in too.

Once they’re all in the pan get the sauce simmering, then cover with a lid and leave to simmer on low while you write a blog post about the nice smells coming from your kitchen.

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Give the sauce a taste and then chuck it into a blender (this bit is important!). Once blended, you’ll end up with a thick creamy sauce which has no need of flour to thicken it, which makes my gluten free friends happy.

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It’ll go an orangey colour once blended. This is the colour from the onions and everything when blended. Give it a taste, make sure it’s slightly stronger than you’d like. This is because the rice makes it blander (is that even a word?). But anyway, this is the texture you’re looking for…

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Next you need to strip the chicken carcass. This is foul (ba boom tss!). It’s just not pleasant having your hands buried in a cold, oily chicken. But for the taste, it’s well worth it. Fry the chicken bits in oil and a sprinkle of garam Marsala.

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Then cut up the vegetables into big chunks (over 1 inch) and fry these along with the chicken for a few minutes. Why veg? Well, that chicken won’t feed six so it needs to be bulked out with something, and it’s quite a nice way to add in extra veg to a curry meal. This will definitely have a few of your five a day…

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Stir in the sauce and use a little water to clean out the last bits in the blender and loosen the sauce, then cover and let it simmer until the veg softens (about 25 minutes? Long enough to cook some rice). While it’s simmering, you might want to stir it a few times just to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

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Finally, eat. You’ve been sniffing this food for around an hour now and you’re probably hungry.

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Chicken ring! (We liked it, so we made a ring out of it)

Ok, this is an adapted recipe, but it’s quite a novel way of getting veg in the kids… And the saving grace behind its weirdness is the ability to extend two chicken breasts to feed a family of 4 or 5. It is a case of less meat, more veg and some weird extras, but I’ll cost it out for you:

2 chicken breasts (about £4) – thigh fillets are cheaper
Half a head of broccoli (about 40p)
2 red peppers or 1 large one (about 80p)
A roll of puff pastry (about £1.50)
2 tablespoons of mayo (about 15p if you’re using helmanns)
A chunk of cheese (about 25p)

Total – £7.10

Factor in potatoes and the rest of the broccoli as veg and that’s £2 per head for a family of 4.

You’ll need to precook 2 chicken breasts for this and then stick them in the blender to chop them into breadcrumbs once they’re cold.

Next take a roll of puff pastry and cut it into triangles:

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Now make them into a star shape on a flat baking tray:

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After this, use the blender again to chop half a head of broccoli into bizarre green breadcrumbs. Put these into a bowl which is big enough to mix in with the chicken breadcrumbs. Trust me that this will taste good rather than like how it currently looks. Frankly, it gets worse before it gets better.

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Then cut up the red pepper and stick this into the blender. This won’t make breadcrumbs but a frothy red mush. This is good (keep repeating this in your head) as it gives it moisture.

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Mix those three together in the bowl to make a nasty looking mush. I can only apologise at this point.

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Then add a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and add a handful of grated cheese for flavour. Mix this in with the disgusting looking mush (continue to trust me).

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Next, use the spoon to mould it onto the pastry into a sort of ring type shape. You could make it look nice with an ice cream scoop, but seriously who has time for that? Just make sure that it’s sort of even.

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Once you have built a ring of mush, fold over the triangles into the middle of the ring one at a time and cut off ends as you go so you end up with gaps and some left over pastry.

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Fill in the gaps with the offcuts then glaze with an egg (or not). The only reason to glaze here is for looks. Great for dinner parties, totally insignificant for feeding kids who couldn’t care less if the pastry has an egg glaze.

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After 25-30 minutes in the oven at about 180 C, you’re good to go with a veg filled chicken ring.

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By the way, if anyone can think of a name for this that doesn’t make LSH giggle I’d be grateful!