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Food for Big People, Food for Little People, Lunch, Lunch

Quick and tasty lunch……Quesadilla with Guacamole

May 16, 2012

I get totally over sandwiches for lunch so I endeavour to always have tortillas in the cupboard.  D Man loves when I wrap stuff in them and they’re great toasted and served with my fresh tomato salsa, like a low fat corn chip. A quesadilla is like a sandwich, but with a Mexican accent – el sandwicho, if you will. Tortillas are handy for quick dinners also, fajitas are huge in my house and don’t take long to throw together…..we’ll talk about those another day.

I think the first time I had a quesadilla, it was actually made by my big brother, Emo (like Elmo without the L, not like I Cut Myself To Feel). He was living in Yorkshire at the time and that has no relevance whatsoever to this recipe, but it’s an interesting fact. He made it vegematarian for me that day, and although I’ve made it with all manner of shredded Mexican flavoured meat – chicken, pork, and beef, and even prawns – this lunchtime treat is coming to you vego, just because you’ll probably have all of these things in your fridge and be ready to throw a quickie lunch together and your munchkin can eat it before their afternoon sleep and leave you picking up corn kernels for the afternoon.

I’m giving the amounts for you and a toddler, so two quesadillas, but adjust amounts to the amount of peoples you’re providing for as it’s a yummy lunch for everyone.

Yeild – dos personas (2)

You will need -

For tortillas

  • 85g grated cheese
  • Half a red capsicum, diced finely
  • Half a cob of corn, sliced off cob (or tinned if you have that)
  • A quarter of a spanish onion, finely diced
  • A small tomato, diced
  • 1 large spring onion, finely sliced
  • A handful coriander
  • A squeeze of lime
  • 4 tortillas (for gluten free option use corn tortillas but be sure to read ingredients throughly, most are a mix of corn and wheat)

For guacamole

  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • Juice of half a small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of natural yoghurt
  • Half a clove of finely minced garlic
  • A large pinch of fresh chopped coriander
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional : A little finely chopped spanish onion, tomato and dash of tabasco.

Pop a large fry pan on the stove and heat over a moderate flame. Add a little olive just to oil the pan. Do not pool oil, we’re not frying here, just toasting. Throw into a bowl all of your ingredients and toss well. Lay out two tortillas and divide the mixture evenly between the two. Place the remaining tortillas on top and pop one into pan, keeping an eye on it until it is golden brown. To turn it over, lay a dinner plate on top and flip it. Don’t be hesitant, or fluff about, just flip it quickly or you’ll mess it up and end up with bits of corn and capsicum all over the show. When it’s golden on the outside and the cheese is all melted on the inside and holding all the bits together – we’re good to go.

Repeat with remaining quesadilla. Slice into wedges.

For guacamole put your avocado and yoghurt into a bowl and mash until all squashed and yummy. Add garlic, coriander and lemon juice and stir well (add optional ingredients now also if you’re doing it). Season to taste and place on the side of your plate.

Top each wedge with guacamole (D Man always says ‘dip, dip, dip’. I’ve told you before, I know, but it’s so sweet I’ll tell you again!).

quesadilla 3 Devour and pretend you’re in sunny Mexican climes sipping a margarita. Ariba!

Dinner, Dinner, Food for Big People, Food for Little People, Lunch, Lunch

Beat the Winter Blues – Dhal Soup, or Red Lentil Love.

April 26, 2012

With nasty old Winter peering it’s head around the corner, I’ve had a few requests for my Farmhouse Chicken Soup, and I promise it’s ‘a comin’, but on a recent cold and blustery day, all the nearby shops were closed and I needed to make something out of the contents of my house…….this was it. It’s delicate blend of Indian spices make it warming without being too spicy and if you mess with the liquid ratio you can make it thicker and more dhal like or wetter and more soup like…..either way, thick or thin, it will give you wind. I promise you that, my friends. The gift that keeps on giving. (I know I talk about wind a lot, but I have to point the finger of blame at my family – and they would probably pull it. Wind is deeply ingrained as a thing to be celebrated with us lot.)

This is one of my old favourites. I’ve been making this for about 100 years and I have no idea how I first came up with the recipe. Sometimes I throw in a fresh tomato or two, sometimes I throw in a handful of chopped spinach or two….you have a play with it yourself and see where the mood takes you. D Man loves this too. I’ve been giving it to him since he was about 8 months, so it’s suitable for babes as well. He now loves it over rice with a dollop of natural yoghurt and fresh chopped coriander. I keep it a little thicker so it sticks to the spoon and he doesn’t wear it.

Yeild : a pot of soup for 4

You will need :

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 30g (or the size of index finger to knuckle) ginger, finely chopped or grated (grating is so much easier)
  • 1 level tablespoon cumin (I love cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamon seeds
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • small handful of fresh coriander root, save leaves for garnish
  • 1.5 cups red lentils
  • 600ml chicken stock (I happened to have some freshly made in the fridge this day, but feel free to use powder)
  • 400ml water
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery, finely chopped
  • natural yoghurt and chopped coriander leaves to serve

In a large soup pot gently sautée your onion in a little oil over a medium heat. When it goes slightly translucent add your garlic, ginger and spices. Stir until fragrant and delicious. Throw in your carrot and celery, give it a stir for a minute or so and then add your lentils. I like to give them a good stir and make sure all is well mixed and then throw in my liquid…..and really, that’s about it, kids. Bring it to the boil, then turn it down to a simmer and pop a lid on.

You will need to keep a little eye on it as the lentils will absorb the water. You can make a call whether you need more liquid or take the lid off and let it reduce if you’d like it thicker. I often play with it, flavour wise, like a total heathen at the last minute. I sometimes add a touch of garam masala, or more cumin, or chili. Start as I’ve written and play with it to your taste. Don’t be scared of spices, they are your friends and contrary to popular belief, kids love flavour.

Ladle into bowls and swirl through(or plop on) some natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of fresh coriander. If I’ve kept it chill free for D Man, I’ll add some dried at this point as I like it to have a little poke.

Enjoy your Red Lentil Love……for hours to come ;-)


Food for Big People, Food for Little People, Lunch, Lunch

Bang Up Lunch – Polenta Chips with Fresh Tomato Salsa

April 19, 2012

Often lunch time hunger hits around the time D Man goes to bed so it becomes a matter of ‘what goodies do we have in the fridge?’. I get well over eating sandwiches and salads so sometimes I get a little creative. As I’ve mentioned, I love a left over, and polenta is one thing that although, once eaten wet and delicious can never be revived to that state, it takes a whole new form when you cook it again in a little oil – the polenta chip is born!

When I’m finished with my wet polenta I pop it into a square container so it can shape up into a nice block, then you just slice it to whatever thickness you want, roll it in seasoned polenta and give it a little fry in some oil. I try not to use too much oil, but it does benefit from a little to get that nice golden crunch. I just add a little at a time so it doesn’t get drenched, then I make sure I drain it on kitchen towel. This is a great entree, or lunch and D Man loves these dipped in tzatziki, or anything dipped in anything really. He just likes to dip and lick, murmuring a little ‘dip, dip, dip’ as he goes. The salsa is kinda adapted (read : stolen) from my dear friend, who often gets requested to bring a whoop of the stuff to parties. It’s great on quesadilllas, with corn chips….hell, I even eat it with Corn Thins. Use chilli as you will. I like it hot, but D Man is still a little gun shy when it comes to chilli. A little is ok for toddlers if it’s a part of your diet. They actually love flavour and new sensations, just don’t singe their faces off!

So, let’s bang this lunch together. If you don’t have left over polenta, you’ll need to make it a couple of hours in advance to give it a chance to solidify. It’s especially yummy if you’ve put lemon zest and parmesan through it…..but that’s just me.

Yeild : depends on amount of polenta you have, but makes about 1 cup of salsa.

You will need :

For salsa – 

  • 4 fresh tomatoes, cut into quarters, seeds removed then finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 Spanish onion- finely chopped
  • 2 big handfuls finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 birds eye chilli,finely chopped, if you’re game
  • a big pinch of cumin
  • salt and pepper

For polenta chips – 

  • Sliced, solid polenta
  • Fresh raw polenta for dusting
  • Salt and pepper

Throw all of your salsa ingredients into a bowl and stir. Season to taste. Add more lime, salt, cumin or chilli to your taste. Leave to sit and stew while you cook your polenta. Season your raw polenta on a plate and roll your cops in it, ensuring all sides are covered. Heat a little oil in a pan on the stove, and ensure it’s quite hot before adding chips. Pop them in and turn them regularly ensuring all sides get equally browned. Add a little more oil as required. Make sure you don’t drench them. They are ready when they are golden and crunchy. Leave to cool for a minute or so on kitchen paper to remove excess oil, and serve with salsa. Easy, yummy, fast.