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Stir Fry Veg

How often do we have odd vegetables left over; not quite enough to feed the whole family but you don’t want to throw them out? In my house they sit there and fester and end up being thrown out and I am annoyed at the waste and that I have not used them in something. 

A curry or a stew can take any left over vegetables cut up small and added to the pot.   One of my favourite methods however is stir frying them with sweet chilli sauce at the last minute and then serving them with the main meal.

Necessary ingredients 
Onions  chopped finely 
Ginger chopped small 
Garlic chopped small
Sweet Chilli Sauce 
Spinach and or Watercress  -This is added at the very end and not cooked

Optional ingredients 
Carrots sliced
Green beans sliced
Courgettes sliced
Red and Green peppars
Fennel, Mange Tout, Celeriac cut very small 
Bacon Lardons 
Chilli chopped small depending on how hot you like it
Button Mushrooms or larger Mushrooms cut into small chunks 

Have all your vegetables ready chopped so you can concentrate on stir frying, take you eye off it and that is the point it will burn.   I find a wok the most useful pan for this , but a frying pan will do the job just as well.

We like the freshness of this dish and the crunch of vegetables. You can pre-boil the vegetables if you want but remember you take away the texture and goodness if you do this.  I don’t pre-cook them for this recipe.

About 5 minutes before serving heat the oil then add the onions and garlic to fry gently.  

Add the remaining vegetables,  root veg first with lighter vegetables at the end.  Keep the spinach and watercress out at this time.   If you are using bacon add it early as it requires thorough cooking.  Cut up small enough it will cook very quickly.  

Keep stirring  adding the other vegetables (keeping back the watercress and spinach still) as you stir.

Just before serving add in the sweet chilli sauce and make sure all the vegetables are coated.  You do not need a lot. 

Turn the heat off and put in the Spinach and Watercress, stir gently. Cover the pan and take to the table.  The steam and heat will wilt these leaves and allow them to retain all their goodness and vibrant colour.

Serve as a side dish or as a topping for baked potatoes. 

We had it with Risotto.   My children will not eat risotto with any additions so instead I add a separate dish and serve it as a topping. They are quite happy with this – so am I.  Not only do the children eat their vegetables, I have cleared the fridge of all the odds and ends.  

I have sometimes added left over cooked vegetables at the last minute as well.

See how this goes down.  It also would be great for a student all in one pot – add some sliced new potatoes (pre-boiled if possible) and keep the bacon, then use the vegetables available.    They could add kale or  spring greens a few seconds before end if they cannot get watercress or spinach.  

Let me know any other combinations that could be added.  I have served it with bbq sauce instead of sweet chilli, as a warm side salad to burgers or sausages.


See how life is treating us in  my other blog Tiggy Hayes

Braised Ginger Beef

This is not a quick simple dish.   You need to think about it at least the day before and as I made it in the slow cooker it needs all day to cook slowly and succulently.   A great dish for a Sunday dinner instead of roast or for a warming meal on Saturday evening after a day out in the cold and wet.   

After marinading overnight and then all day cooking the meat just melts in the mouth and the vegetable all fell to bits.  I served it with roasted skins,  caramelised carrots with caraway cabbage.  

Braising or Stewing Steak cut to bite sized pieces
Carrots sliced
Celery sliced 
Onion  chopped
A bottle of red wine – I used a cheap one which worked very well (the experts say use the most expensive you can afford but I served that in a wine glass along side – delicious)
Thyme – good handful of sprigs
Bay leaves – one or two
Ginger peeled and cut into small bite sized chunks 
Olive oil 

Put the meat into a large basin and cover with the whole bottle of wine.

Leave overnight in the fridge.  

In the morning 

Chop the vegetables and lay them on a small slug of olive oil in a warmed slow cooker pot.

Drain the meat but reserve the juices.   Fry the meat in a separate pan to seal it.  The meat will already be deep in colour having taking in the flavour of the wine.

When browned add to the pot on top of the vegetables 

In the same pan add the remainder of the marinaded wine and and bring to the boil.   

Once boiling a scum will form so remove this and use the rest of the liquid to cover the meat mix.

Add the Thyme and Bay leaves.    Cover and leave cooking for several hours.   

At this point if I was cooking the meat in a conventional stewpot in the oven I would add a quantity of stock,  (beef, chicken or vegetable) to stop it drying out at all, it can be cooked off later but better to keep it moist whilst stewing.

I left it cooking on a low heat for 6 hours and it was heavenly, but you know your cooker best and you know your lifestyle and when you will need to eat.  You could add a few potatoes (new would work best and not mush up).  Leave them to cook in the juices so you could just come in and serve.

This went down so well and had lots of subtle rushes of flavouring.   I had planned to have it again for lunch the next day but it all disappeared that night.

Enjoy and let me know if you can come up with a variation.

For the caramelised carrots I used baby whole carrots (it is good to use whole ones anyway rather than sliced, I chose baby ones).  Place these in boiling water with a good handful of butter and sugar together with a  star anise.  Let the carrots boil away till the water has all gone and they just glaze over.  Serve them without the star anise.

The cabbage was the last minute preparation sliced then cooked in just a knob of butter with a handful of pre-roasted caraway seeds added just before serving.   

The inspiration for this meal came from the lovely Tom Kerridge at The Hand and Flowers   



Find out what I am up to in my other blog  Tiggy Hayes

Rogan Josh

To some degree I am a creature of habit and my menus depict this.  The down side of this is that meals become predictable and the children are agitated by a change in routine.  I do try to keep a degree of flexibility and novelty.

Saturday nights tend to be international night, we might go Mexican, Italian (other than bolognaise) or often a curry.   Curries are great as there are so many different varieties, a spicy Indian will differ greatly from the creamy coconut of mild Thai curry.   

I am a disciple of the Indian chef Gurpareet Bains author of Indian Superfood.  Having been a follower of his for a while now I have found that the same few ingredients turn up through not only his meals but they are now creeping into the most mundane of my meals to spice them up slightly;  Ginger, Garlic, Chilli, Nigella seeds, whole spices such as cumin, cardamon, turmeric, fennel seed, garam masala are all now basic cupboard essentials.   What is even more important I use them all and they are replenished regularly so are always pungent and fresh.

Here is my take on Gurpareet’s fabulous Rogan Josh curry.  As you will know I am not an exact cook and foods get thrown in or amounts get changed to satisfy children’s tastes and reluctance to experiment, I have tried to give an idea of how much spice I used to feed a family of two adults and three children.
Olive oil
Green cardamom pods – crushed (I only used 5)
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
½ teaspoon of nigella seeds
Onion,  sliced thinly
Garlic cloves, chopped really finely.   (I used 6 chunky cloves)
1 teaspoon of Turmeric
2 teaspoons of garam masala
3x 400g of tinned chopped tomatoes  –  this sounds a lot but it leaves the curry with a depth to the richness and tomato does not overpower the dish.
Ginger – again lots, peeled and then grated (Gurpareet suggests 3 tablespoons – I used a bit less)
Chillies –  I used 1 red  (Gurpareet uses  2-6 green ones )
Diced beef – this can be swapped for any meat although the tomatoes and beef go particularly well together – if I was cooking for more people I would double the meat and up the tomatoes,  depending on numbers I would up the other ingredients slightly.
Chopped Coriander to garnish

I have learnt the key to a good curry is to add the ingredients to a hot pan really quickly allowing the smell of the cooking spices to envelope you in a blanket of anticipation then leave it for a long time to allow the flavours to mix and develop.  The only way to do this properly is to prepare all the ingredients beforehand and have them ready to add.

Put the empty pan on a hot ring and allow it to start heating up.  Turn the heat down as the oil goes in, (I find my instant touch gas brilliant for this but you will know your own cooker). Add the cardamom, cumin and nigella seeds, stirring constantly. 

No more than 2 minutes then add the onion, again stirring constantly, allow this to soften and take on the flavours of the seeds.

About 5 minutes then stir in the garlic

Sprinkle the turmeric over and add half the garam masala, keep stirring.

At this point I added a tin of tomatoes and rinsed the tin with water, then added the ginger and chillies.  Turn the heat up and allow the liquid to reduce and thicken, now you can just stir occaisionally.

Add the beef or whichever meat you are using and allow it to seal off for about 5 minutes.  

Finally add the last of the tomatoes and rinse with water

Bring to the boil then turn down the heat to a simmer and leave uncovered for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Cover the pot and leave again for at least 30 minutes still remembering to stir now and again.   

 It is at this point I begin the rice.

I am lucky enough to own a rice cooker, not one you plug in, this one goes either in the oven or in the microwave.  It is one of the few things I do use the exact timings and measurements for in my cooking as it has revolutionised my complete record of failure with rice.

I put 330g of dry white basmati rice (4 adult portion)  in the pot. Then add 550ml of boiling liquid over it.  (there are two lines one for the rice and one for the liquid which I religiously stick to).  However I usually spice up my rice and do not add salt by adding a stock cube instead.     
To serve with this Rogan Josh; I added a generous helping of whole cumin seeds and a chicken stock cube which I had crumbled over the rice.  I then mixed the rice, seeds and cube before topping up with the boiling water.  The pot comes with two lids the lower flat one with two tiny holes and the top with a slight dome and a handle also has two holes.   One lid goes on and the top one is added with the holes at opposite angles. 

Put it in the pre-heated hot oven for 17 minutes,  I do actually use my timer for this.  When the buzzer goes off take it out of the oven – and I put it on the table, again I set the timer for 10 minutes this time.  

DO NOT OPEN THE LIDS – initially this was probably the most difficult thing for me but I have learnt.  (10 minutes is the minimum – it will remain hot and be fine for 45 mins to an hour –  This is my rice cooker – others will differ slightly)

I use this 10 minutes to pop in some Naan Bread and lay up the table with poppadums and chutneys and then call the family.  As I bring the Rogan Josh to the table I added the remaining garam masala.  I would also normally add a good sprinkling of chopped coriander but I had used it all up the night before.  It gives a fresh cleansing flavour that compliments the curry  so is not just a decorative herb.

Despite the exacting method of making rice, it sounds complex but it is so easy to follow and the results are fantastic.   Although I used all those strong spices the curry was not too spicy or hot; it is full of complimenting flavours and disappeared with seconds being helped on to plates. 

Enjoy – let me know what meat you use and what sides you like to serve with your curry.


Find out what I am up to in my other blog  Tiggy Hayes

Sweet Potato Mash

One of the reasons I don’t follow recipes and particularly the ones with exacting measurements is that there is always a quarter of this left or a sprinkling of that.   What do you do with these tiny non useful amounts of weird and wonderful ingredients?  Normally they hog up valuable space in my fridge until they are well and truly past their sell by / eat by date and crawling out the fridge without help.

Sometimes I find I have enough to throw together something different and make it a fridge meal.    Having found some wonderful fresh vegetables in my organic Riverford box and a fridge full of odd bits I would never have used  I decided to put them together hoping to keep some for lunches over a few days.  It was a little more popular than I anticipated and lunch will be somewhat drab for the rest of the week.

Sweet Potatoes 
Fennel  (half left over from another dish)
Ginger chopped small
Onion ( I had a quarter left over from a BBQ and chucked it in)
Chilli  (having chopped a large chilli up for a curry – I decided it would be too spicy for the children hence a ready chopped half chilli in fridge)
Spinach an ever versatile and useful vegetable that I sneak into lots of dishes 
Soured Cream – left over from Fajitas
Cheese  –  this was pre-grated Red Leicester –  not used when we went on a picnic, but you could use any cheese
Parsely – from my herb garden to finish it off

Boil the sweet potatoes with the fennel, ginger and onion till soft enough to mash.

Drain then mash adding a touch of butter.  I also threw in a large dollop of soured cream at this point.

Add the chilli and some cheese then mix well.

In a baking dish lay the spinach in a deep layer on the bottom and cover with more dollops of the soured cream.

Add the potato mix on top and finish off with the rest of the cheese.

Cook in hot oven for about 20 minutes until the top is bubbling and golden.   


You could use this as a main dish maybe add a beaten egg to the mash or serve with boiled or poached egg on top.  I served it as a side dish to accompany a piece of chicken – delicious.  

Try it out,  I would not expect you to have the same ingredients in your fridge as I found in mine so try out other combinations and let me know how you get on.  Leave out what you don’t have or like but be adventurous and mix the flavours together.  Share your attempts with me.

Happy food


Check out my ramblings from my other blog Tiggy Hayes.  This week we went out to dine but I am still passionate about my food!

Pear and Ginger Crumble

This weekend why not try this wonderful pear and ginger crumble for the family or if you have friends coming round.  It is easy and any crumble goes down really well.

I rarely cook puddings as none of us in the family really eat them, but I do try on a Sunday or if I am entertaining to do something.   I was given a set of terracotta stone dishes that are perfect for single portion puds or starters and so I have made these as individuals but they would work just as well in one dish.

Small piece of ginger – chopped into very small cubes
Brown sugar
Boiling water
Couple of eating apples – peeled and cored
3 large desert pears
Butter  – not straight from the fridge
Plain flour
Porridge oats

The amount of butter /flour and sugar will depend on how many you are cooking for and how much they like crumble.  In my family (2 adults, 2 teenage boys and a hungry 9 year old) they most definitely prefer crumble to the fruit so I have used 3oz of butter / sugar and 6oz flour with a large mummy sized handful of oats for crunch.

I make the ginger juice first by putting the boiling water over the ginger and brown sugar and keep boiling.   I think you are supposed to throw away the ginger and just use the juice but I add plenty of water then boil for a long while to soften the ginger.  

When most of the juice has evaporated I then add the apple first and as it softens add the pear followed by a sprinkling more of brown sugar.

Once the fruit has softened but still kept some shape take it from the heat and lay in a layer  in dishes.   Allow it to cool.

In the meantime make the crumble by mixing the butter and flour by hand.   When it resembles breadcrumbs add the sugar and stir gently by hand.   Add the handful of oats and stir again.

Top the fruit and cook in a medium oven till browned on top. 

Serve with cream, ice cream or custard then sit back and listen to their ooohs and aahhhs of  pleasure as they tuck in.

Have a go and spoil them this weekend.  Tell me how you get on 


read my trials and tribulation on my other blog at Tiggy Hayes.

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