Tasty, healthy – and quick!

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Durban - One of the most in-demand recipe books around right now is the latest hardcover from British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.

His Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, published by Penguin and a handsomely produced sequel to his enormously successful Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, is devoted to super-quick, tasty, nutritious food that one can eat every day of the week.

Methodical, clever, sociable and fun – that’s how Oliver describes the book’s recipes, each of which is accompanied by a colour photograph.

Taking inspiration from around the world, Oliver plays with classic chicken, steak and pasta dishes, looking at Asian-inspired street food and brilliant Moroccan flavours, labelling the recipes some of the quickest and easiest he has done, and himself rating the book as “far and away the most balanced and exciting everyday cookbook I’ve seen”.

Also featured are fresh ideas for fish, soup, sandwiches, veggies and breakfast suggestions, while the book also offers an informative chapter on nutrition, complete with small colour pictures of all the food suggestions, broken down into their calorific value.

Oliver wrote and cooked every recipe with nutritionist Laura Parr and her team.

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“They kept me on track, and kept a close eye on portion size, and as a result the recipes are averaging about 580 calories per serving, which is great, so they’ll fit easily into any main meal based on what we should be eating each day,” he writes.

This is one of the recipes from the book:

 

THAI CHICKEN LAKSA

(Mildly Spiced Noodle Squash Broth)

Chicken Ingredients:

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 heaped tsp Chinese five-spice

I tbs runny honey

1 tbs sesame seeds

1 fresh red chilli

Laksa Ingredients:

1 chicken or veg stock cube

1 butternut (neck only)

2 gloves of garlic

1 thumb-size piece of ginger

1 fresh red chilli

I tsp turmeric

Half-bunch of spring onions

I heaped tsp peanut butter

4 dried lime leaves

half-bunch fresh coriander

I tbs sesame oil

I tbs low-salt soya sauce

I tbs fish sauce

300g medium rice noodles

2 bunches of asparagus (600g)

1 x 400g tin of light coconut milk

3 limes

On a large sheet of greaseproof paper, toss the chicken with salt, pepper and the five-spice. Fold over the paper, then bash and flatten the chicken to 1.5cm thick with a rolling pin.

Place on a hot griddle pan, turning after three or four minutes, until nicely charred and cooked through.

Pour about 800ml of boiling water into a large pan and crumble in the stock cube. Trim the stalk off the squash, roughly chop the neck end (don’t peel, and keep the seed end for another day), then grate and tip into the boiling stock.

Swop to the bowl blade in the processor and add the peeled garlic and ginger, the chilli, turmeric, trimmed spring onions, peanut butter, dried lime leaves, coriander stalks (reserving the leaves), sesame oil, soya and fish sauces.

Blitz to a paste, then tip into the stock and add the noodles.

Trim the asparagus and cut in half. Add to the pan, pour in the coconut milk, and as soon as it boils, taste and correct the seasoning with soya sauce and lime juice, then turn the heat off.

Drizzle the honey over the charred chicken, squeeze over the juice of one lime, scatter with the sesame seeds and toss to coat.

Serve with the laksa and lime wedges, sprinkling everything with the coriander leaves and slices of the fresh chilli.

 

 

Another new recipe book well worth checking out is a local offering, Simple & Delicious: Recipes From the Heart, by Alida Ryder, who won the 2010 SA Food Blog of the Year Award for her blog, Simply Delicious (simply-delicious.co.za).

Ryder originally started her blog, she says, “to allow myself the space to live out my creativity and get away from the everyday routine of raising twins”.

As she points out in her book, she rarely sticks to tradition in her recipes and says she is neither a food purist nor a food snob.

“I often add a splash of soya sauce to my curries or Bolognese, but if that thought makes you choke on your lamb chop, simply omit that step,” she writes.

“If I achieve only one thing with this book, I hope it is to inspire people to get back into their kitchens. I hope that you will think twice about buying something ready-made at the supermarket or visiting that drive-through again.”

Light meals and starters, pasta, chicken, meat, seafood, vegetarian, desserts, baking – Ryder covers it all in a book with colour photographs and a conversion chart.

This is one of my favourite, quick and easy recipes:

 

BACON AND CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS (SERVES 6)

 

250g bacon, chopped

1 cup mature cheddar, grated

Half-cup mozzarella, grated

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Half-cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Half-cup cream

Half-tsp pepper

Six large, free-range, chicken breast fillets

Juice of one lemon

Salt, to season the chicken

Half-cup chicken stock

1 Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC

2 Fry the bacon in a hot pan until crisp

3 Remove bacon, drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool slightly before combining with the cheeses, garlic, parsley, cream and pepper. There is no need to add extra salt to the stuffing as the bacon and cheese are already salty.

4 Make a deep incision into the top of each chicken breast (be careful not to cut through the breast).

5 Squeeze over the lemon juice and season lightly with salt.

6 Place spoonfuls of the bacon and cheese stuffing into the slot of each breast.

7 Place in a baking dish and pour in the chicken stock. Cover the tray with foil and place in the oven.

8 Allow the chicken to cook for 8 to 10 minutes until it is cooked through but still juicy.

9 Serve immediately with potato wedges and a salad. - Independent on Saturday.


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