Shrimp fried rice

Shrimp fried rice

My boys love shrimp and they love rice, so combined this is one of my go-to dinners in less than 30-minute meals that my family can’t get enough of. If you have any left over rice, the time cuts down to 15 minutes or less. My favorite cuisine has to be Asian because I just love the fresh spicy ingredients used to make healthy dishes. I’m classically trained in French cuisine, but gone are the days where I’d use lots of red meats, butter, cream and triple fat cheese. Now I prefer to use French cooking techniques and healthy ingredients.

You might be asking is stir fry healthy? This is my philosophy on food these days, if you purchase fresh food that has had little if any processing and you cook it at home then in my book it’s going to be a lot healthier than most store bought boxed processed (so called healthy) food. I try to use as many one ingredient foods as I can, so if you look at the ingredients list below you will see, long grain brown rice, shrimp, broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, onions, and garlic all classed as one ingredient, the remaining ingredients have had very little in the way of processing. By using 1 tablespoon of oil per person and a method called stir frying, the items cook fast retaining most of the nutrition within them, I’d say YES stir frying is quick and healthy!  So set the table, grab your ingredients and get cooking, because your family meal will be ready in minutes, with a healthy bonus of nutrition as a side – Enjoy

Shrimp fried rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups long-grain brown rice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil mixed 2 tablespoons sesame oil

16oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1lb broccoli roughly chopped

1 cup sugar snap peas roughly chopped

1 medium carrot, washed and chopped

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

¼ cup low in sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons chili sauce

How to make:

Take a medium size saucepan and add the rice along with 3 cups water, place on the stove and bring to a boil, cook for 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed, remove from the stove and place into a colander, pour over boiling water to remove any starch.

Next take a large wok or nonstick frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of mixed oil, place the wok on the stove over a medium to high heat, then add the shrimp and cook for 4 minutes, then transfer the cooked shrimp to a plate lined with paper towel.

Add the remaining oil, when hot add the broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrot, onion and garlic, and cook stirring frequently until tender about 5 to 6 minutes, then pour in the soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili sauce.

Add the rice and shrimp back to the wok and cook until the mixture is heated through, serve.

Baked trout with vegetable noodles

Baked trout with vegetable noodles

The first things that hit you with this recipe are the amazing colors of the ingredients – fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, beans and trout. The aroma is also amazing when you open the oven door and inhale the smell of this beautiful family meal. An added plus is that its easy!!!! You basically throw everything into a sheet pan that has been lined with foil, fold over the edges to form a parcel and pop it into the oven, bake for 20 to 30 minutes and its done. This could be one of the meals where you prepare it the night before, get home from work, turn on the oven, pour yourself a glass of wine, place the tray of goodies in the oven, set the table and in under 30 minutes your dinner is ready.

Packed with nutrition this is a sure fire winner with everyone, it tastes just how it looks incredible, believe me you’ll be making this dish more than once, in fact in my house we generally have this dish once a month, we might change up and use cod, halibut, salmon or sometimes even shrimp, and it always turns out amazing. Enjoy!

Baked trout with vegetable noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon harissa

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 lemon, zest and juice of

1 cup orange juice

sea salt

2 cups spiralized carrots

2 cups spiralized zucchini

1 cup low in sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

4x 6oz trout fillets

Preheat oven to 385’F

How to make:

Take a medium size bowl, add the olive oil, harissa, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, zest and orange juice and whisk together.

Take four large pieces of foil, and place equal amounts of the noodles, chickpeas and chopped cilantro in the center of each piece of foil, season each piece of trout with salt and freshly ground black pepper, place one piece of trout on top of each pile of noodles.

Fold the sides of each piece of foil, to make an envelope, place the four parcels onto a deep sheet pan, carefully pour in the marinate, fold the foil to seal the opening of each parcel. Place the tray into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the fish and vegetables are cooked, remove from the oven and serve.

Flatbread, eggs, herb yogurt and sambal

Flatbread, eggs, herb yogurt and sambal

Quick easy tasty and nutritious are my cooking mantra words these days. Trying to get as many families back in the kitchen as possible is the best way to communicate with your spouse and kids, and it can be fun. I try to make things as simple as possible with my 3 boys, so Jon fills and empties the dish washer, Matt gives me a rundown of what we have in the fridge and pantry and James sets the table, as for me I’m deciding what we are having that evening.

Then the fun starts! I make a few suggestions, the boys chose and we all join in making dinner. It’s not only a great way to find out what the boys have been doing at school or work, but it’s also a great teaching moment, as you can normally tire any tit bites of wisdom into a food story. Plus it’s a great way for the boys to learn a life skill – like cooking!!!! Really we don’t learn this anymore at school. As important as food is, we don’t know how to prepare, cook and in some cases eat the food that our bodies need each and every day.

So let’s get the family in the kitchen and start with one day a week. You don’t have to be like me and leave the planning of the meal until that night. You can plan ahead, decide what the family meal will be, decide who in the family is doing what part of the recipe or better still draw straws, make it fun and exciting. Then roll up your sleeves, wash your hands and enjoy a night of trial and error, no matter what happens it’s going to bring the family closer together making that dinner a memberiable experience at least once a week, who knows just like me it might end up being five to seven nights a week.

I’m telling you it can be crazy, but in a good crazy way, when my wife passed away 3 years ago, this one act of cooking together, kept us from falling apart and made our bond as a family that much stronger. Happy Cooking!!!!

Flatbread, eggs, herb yogurt and sambal

Serves 4

4 large eggs

½ cup Greek yogurt (full fat or low in fat – you choose)

2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

2 warm flatbreads

2 tablespoons sambal sauce

2 cups arugula

Sea salt (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

How to make:

Take a medium saucepan and fill 2/3rds with water, place on the stove and bring to a slow boil, carefully lower the eggs into the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes. Then transfer the eggs into a bowl of iced water and let sit until cool enough to peel off the shell.

Take a small bowl and mix together the yogurt and herbs, then gentle add the eggs and mash everything together until you have a chunky egg mixture.

Spoon the egg mixture on to the 2 warm flatbreads, finish by drizzling over the sambal sauce and scatter over the arugula, season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, cut the flatbread into even size portions, serve.

 

Kumat Salad

Kumat Salad

Kamut (pronounced ka-moot) is a trademarked name given to khorasan wheat, thought to be the cousin of durum wheat as they both belong to the Triticum turgidum family. Kamut has a rich and buttery flavor, it’s easy for the body to digest, and very similar to bulgar wheat as it has more proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and amino acids than common wheat. It also has a clear advantage compared to modern wheat because it contains up to 40 percent more protein, is richer in zinc, magnesium and selenium as well as many polyphenols and fatty acids. You could say it’s a superfood, easy to cook and cheap and full of nutrition. To be honest I use kamut 2 to 3 times a week instead of brown rice or whole wheat pasta, I just love the mouth feel of this great product, so add some strawberries infused with balsamic and brown sugar, freshly chopped herbs and top with creamy goat cheese and crispy leeks. It’s a wonderful recipe my dear – and its healthy!!!!

Additional information – Kamut is an excellent crop for organic farming because it produces high-quality wheat without the need for artificial fertilizers or pesticides — this is because the crop has a high tolerance for diverse organic conditions, and similar to other cereals, it yields well.

Kumat salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups kamut

4 cups low in sodium vegetable stock

2 cups strawberries, hauled and cut into quarters

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek, washed and cut into thin strips (optional)

1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil

1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint

3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup goats cheese, crumbled

How to cook:

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat on the stove, add kamut and stock, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed and the kamut is tender. Remove the pan from the stove, and allow the kamut to cool.

Place the strawberries in a small bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with brown sugar, and allow to macerate for at least 15 minutes while the kamut cools.

Take a frying pan and place on a medium to high heat, pour in the oil, when hot cook the strips of leek in batches until crispy, remove and place on dish paper to absorb the oil.

To assemble, take a large salad bowl, spoon in the cold kamut, stir in the chopped herbs, oil, and cheese, scatter over the strawberries and top with the crispy leeks.

 

Zucchini, tomato, goat cheese & pesto tarts

Zucchini, tomato, goat cheese & pesto tarts

If you like your pastry crisp and fluffy then I say puff pastry is the way to go. Spread the base with a lemony thyme goat cheese, add some thinly sliced zucchini and tomatoes and you have an easy to make full of favor lunch or dinner special for the whole family.

This time of year store-bought frozen puff pastry is a lifesaver, I always keep a package or two stashed in the freezer since I can knock up this recipe or an easy apple tart in no time at all for visiting guests if they happen to arrive on the door step over the festive period. After 37 years in the culinary arts I think most of us would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between store-bought and homemade puff pastry. I don’t use many processed products as you know, so when I do, I read the labels and ingredient lists very carefully and like most things I’m looking for a short list of good quality ingredients. So for puff pastry I’m looking for real butter, because shortening or any other kind of fat will have a far inferior taste to those made with butter alone.

If you can, take the package of puff out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight, as store brought pastry needs to thaw completely before using. If your running late and need to use last minute take it out the freezer, remove from the box and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before very carefully working with it, you don’t it too warm because the dough would be too limp to shape and the butter would start melting between the layers. It needs to feel slightly chilled when shaping.

Before you bake there are two things to remember: preheat your oven and make sure the temperature is very hot before you place your puff pastry inside the oven. You want the heat to rise the pastry quickly and give it that crispy texture your mouth is looking for.

Chef’s tip: To make a tart with a light crisp outside crust, lightly score a border around the entire edge with a paring knife and then prick everything inside this border with a fork. The edges will puff up while the center stays down.

Zucchini, tomato, goat cheese & pesto tarts

Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ cup goats cheese

½ to 1 lemon, zest and juice of (depending on how lemony you like things to taste)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 small zucchinis cut into thin rounds

16 cherry tomatoes cut into thin rounds

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, cut into four even portions

Pesto:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup loose basil leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled

Preheat to 425’F

How to make:

In a bowl, mix together the goats cheese, lemon zest, juice and thyme, until smooth.

Place the pastry quarters on a sheet pan. Spread each portion with the cheese mixture, leaving a ¼ inch border. Layer the slices of zucchini and tomatoes on top, leaving the border uncovered.

Lightly season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then brush the edges with a little olive oil, place into the hot oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden in color and crisp.

Meanwhile, make the pesto by blending all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and dot each tart with pesto and a twist of black pepper, serve.

 

Bring in the New Year with a lobster & shrimp salad

Bring in the New Year with a lobster & shrimp salad

It’s the start of the new year again, the time that most of us decide to lose weight and get in shape. This time of year, we are all filled with hope and courage to take on anything that’s in our path to reach success. If you’re in that place needing to lose weight, please don’t jump on the latest fad diet, and think wisely before you begin. What is your goal? To lose weight or to be healthier? The two sound like they go hand in hand and they should. But following a trendy diet that removes all together one of the essentials of a good diet like fat, carbohydrates or protein can lead to one feeling miserable and unhealthy. Yes, let’s cut back on simple carbohydrates like cakes, pasties, cereals filled with corn syrup or white sugar, yes reduce saturated fat from your daily diet and yes reduce the huge amount of protein we consume to a more normal rate (Americans eat on average 3x more animal protein than any other county in the world). But moderation is the key to everything, balancing your calories to the amount of energy you use each day will lead to weight loss at a slow rate which is the healthy option.

I follow a mainly plant based diet these days, 80% of my diet comes from vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, whole grains and 20% from lean proteins such as fish or shellfish and a small amount of processed foods. I’ve been able to maintain my current body weight for the past four years and I feel 35 not 53. My annual physical in December shows my blood work is excellent, my blood pressure is 115 over 75 and my resting heart rate is at 55, so in my mind I’m feeding my body the right nutrition and giving myself the right amount of exercise I need each day to be in the best possible shape for my age.

So, make small changes, like instead of using mayo use Greek yoghurt, instead of eating an 8oz steak cut back to 6oz., or better still order fish or seafood, and use less dressing on your salad. Try adding more vegetables and fruits to your normal eating routine, this in itself will add more fiber to your diet. I’m a great believer in eating the foods you like but having a smaller portion of them, as it also helps your digestion and you’re not eating a huge amount of food at any one time, especially in the evening. Walk more, because it really is the best exercise going and it costs nothing but your time. If you have limited time, then park the car further away from work or further down the grocery parking lot, just to get you use your legs more and breath some fresh air and get some sun. Vitamin D really only comes from sun light, 10 minutes of direct sun is all you need to feel great and happy which in itself promotes more positive feelings, and gives you a better chance to reach your ideal weight and health goals. Good luck and I hope 2018 brings you health happiness and love.

Bring in the New Year with a lobster & shrimp salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 granny smith apple, cored and quarter

1 lemon, juice of

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider

½ cup low fat Greek yogurt

1/2lb freshly cooked lobster meat, roughly chopped

1/2lb cook shrimp, roughly chopped

1 head butter lettuce, cored removed and leaves separated

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped tarragon

How to make

Cut the apple into thins slices, place into a bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

In another bowl mix together the red onion, olive oil and cider, season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then mix in the yogurt.

In a large salad bowl add the lobster and shrimp, followed by the dressing, toss to coat evenly, then add the apples and lettuce, and toss to mix.

To serve, arrange on individual plates, dividing equally so everyone gets the same amount of lobster and shrimp, sprinkle over the chopped herbs and finish with a twist of freshly ground black pepper, serve.

 

My 100th recipe welcomes in 2018 – Honey you got the yogurt?


Honey you got the yogurt?

The first time I had Greek yogurt was on vacation on the island of Crete the largest Greek island, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. This is going back some 30 years living in the UK, a small island compared to the rest of Europe, but since it was the hub for international travel, it made getting around the globe pretty easy from Heathrow airport.

In my twenties I had itchy feet to travel to Europe to live and taste firsthand the variety of cuisines from France, Spain, Italy and of course Greece to immerse myself in the culture of countries whose cuisine had inspired so many great restaurants around the world. In the 80’s and 90’s, French cuisine still dominated the industry, and young chefs fought for positions in Paris and Lyon to work under the master chefs. For me the next best thing was to travel and spend the next few years on vacation eating my way around a particular area, then choosing other places to broaden my horizons. For my mates it was the beer and girls, the sea, sand and sex vacation, for me it was the culture and the food (don’t get me wrong beer and girls still played a part – believe me).

What excited me the most was to taste my way around a new foreign city or town, sample the local produce, cheese, wine, cured meats, and baked goods. This opened my eyes to a real education you could only get by packing your bags and traveling to a new destination. Meeting the people of that region, being part of their lives for an hour or a day, living in their shoes and absorbing as much information as possible, enlightened my life once I got back home and relived the experiences in my mind, over and over again. Creating new and inventive dishes that one could try on the restaurant menu, giving customers the chance to experience your vacation without leaving the restaurant, but who knows inspiring  them to take the opportunity to fly somewhere new and experience the real thing. To me education is travel and always will be – I’m so pleased I have the travel bug and continue to travel through work and also pleasure, my never-ending bucket list just keeps getting longer with new and interesting places to visit.

So try this yogurt and honey recipe and see if it inspires you to pack your bags and head to Grete, Greece or any of the European counties that are busting with history, fabulous people, food and culture in 2018, Happy New here’s to the best year ever!!!! Travel wise travel safe and enjoy LIFE!!!!

Honey yogurt

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups of mixed fresh fruit, figs, grapes, apples, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, melon, strawberries – your choice

4 mint leaves chopped

2 cups low if fat Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons local honey with honey comb

2 tablespoon pistachio nuts, crushed

How to make:

Take four to go cups or glass bowls, add the fruit, and then scatter over the chopped mint leaves, spoon in equal amounts of yogurt over the fruit. Drizzle with the local honey then top with a small piece of honey comb and crushed pistachio nuts – enjoy!!!!

Seared scallops with ancient grains and pink grapefruit parsley oil

Seared scallops with ancient grains and pink grapefruit parsley oil

I’ve been making this dish for years! In fact, it’s a twist on an old classic Italian recipe. Now since the original has brown butter and Parmesan cheese, I’m trying to make it a slightly healthier version by reducing the amount of saturated fat and changing the Arborio rice to ancient grains. Gone are the days of being a big meat eating chef to now being a flexitarian having meat once or twice a month, fish 2 to 3 times a week, and the rest of the time mainly plants and grains. At 53 I can honestly say I feel the best I’ve felt in years because I really believe following a mainly plant based diet works for me. One other thing that happens eating this way is you save money, as you’re not spending it on large amounts of expensive animal flesh, as meat prices continue to rise each year. So every now and again I can spend my money on an item like scallops, which can be a bit more expensive, but well worth the wow factor every now and again. Plus, fresh harvested scallops tastes amazing, and like any good quality product you don’t have to do a great deal with them, season – pan fry – done, easy peasey.

Seared scallops with ancient grains, pink grapefruit, parsley oil

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

1 cup bottled clam juice

1 cup low sodium vegetables stock

1 cup mixed ancient grains

¼ cup pistachio nuts, chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 large hand dived scallops, pat each scallop dry

2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley

1 pink grapefruit, segmented, retain juice

How to make:

Pour the clam juice and vegetables stock into a medium size pan, stir in the grains, place over a medium heat high, bring to the boil then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the grains are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the pistachio nuts, place on a lid to keep warm.

Take a medium size frying pan, add the oil, place over a medium to high heat, season each scallop and carefully place each scallop into the hot oil, allow the scallops to cook for 1 to 2 minutes before carefully turning each one over. Then cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes, press each scallop lightly to make sure they are ¾ cooked. The scallops should be firm to touch but yield slightly.

You want the scallops slightly under done so you can add the chopped parsley and pink grapefruit juice, spoon the oil, parsley and juice over each scallop, then remove from the heat, keep warm.

To serve, spoon the grains onto a large dish or platter then arrange the scallops on top, drizzle over the lemon parley oil, scatter over the pink grapefruit segments and serve – Enjoy.

Broccolini goats cheese and ancient grain salad

Broccolini goats cheese and ancient grain salad

Broccolini, broccoli and broccoli rabe. The names are so similar it’s easy to get confused as they are all green vegetables, which doesn’t help much. But they are each quite different in flavor, texture and how we can cook them to how we use them as either a side, a salad, roasted or steamed. All three are very versatile, highly nutritious, and big flavored choices found in cuisines around the world. In my opinion I consider them superfoods at a fraction of the cost of other so called superfoods. Mixing broccolini with another outstanding nutritional powerhouse such as ancient grains make this entrée a complete clean meal that the whole family will truly benefit from and hopefully enjoy.

Brocconlini which is a member of the brassica family which include bok choy, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard and kohlrabi are all excellent sources of the anticancer fighting nutrients called isothiocyanates which help neutralize carcinogens in the body. Studies have shown that isothiocyanates help prevent lung and esophageal cancer and can help lower the risk of other cancers found in the gut. So it’s fair to say eat your greens and make the brassica family part of everyday eating.

Broccolini goats cheese and ancient grain salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup ancient grains

2 cups low sodium vegetable stock

1 lemon, juice and zest of

4 cups broccolini

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup pine nuts

½ cup goats cheese, crumbled

¼ teaspoon chili flakes

¼ teaspoon cumin

Dressing:

1 lemon, zest and juice of

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon mint leaves

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon parsley leaves

How to make:

Place the ancient grains into a saucepan and the stock, zest and lemon juice, place on the stove bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil, add the broccolini and boil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain well and set aside keep warm.

For the dressing, place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

In a large salad bowl, combine the broccolini, tomatoes, ancient grains, raisins and herb dressing.

Sprinkle over the chili flakes, cumin, and goat’s cheese, lightly toss to coat, serve and enjoy!!!! This dish is great hot or cold.

 

Thai Crab & Mango Salad

Thai Crab & Mango Salad

Serves 4

Simple fresh ingredients make for the best family meals in my book. If you can eat more whole foods and less processed foods, you’ll feel better; lose unwanted body fat and look good. It also makes for better overall health physically and mentally for you and the entire family. This dish has a lot of ingredients mostly purchased from my local Asian market, but its well worth the time and effort to make this recipe as the aroma, taste and multiple textures are amazing.

The fresh combinations of crab, mango, lemon grass, sesame seed leaves, Thai red chili, ginger, mint and cilantro are amazing in themselves but when you add fragrant Thai fish sauce, sesame seeds, garlic, and lime juice, we are talking overkill for your taste buds. It’s fresh deliciousness will have you craving for more – Yes please – enjoy.

Ingredients:

For the salad:

2 cups white crab meat

4 cups baby spinach or arugula

1 large ripe mango peeled and sliced into strips (buy at your local Asian market to get the best and most juicy mango you can find)

1 stem lemon grass, ends trimmed and outer layer discarded, inner stem very finely sliced

3 sesame seed leaves (Asian market) rolled into a cigar shape and very finely shredded

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon chopped roasted peanuts

For the dressing:

2 small fresh Thai red chilies, halved and deseeded and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

3 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

3 tablespoon freshly chopped mint

2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 limes, zest and juice of

1 level teaspoon dark brown sugar

How to make:

Make the dressing by adding all the ingredients together into a small bowl, whisk together.

Place the crab meat in a medium size bowl and pour over ¾ of the dressing, stir to combine together.

Place the spinach leaves and mango into a large salad bowl, pour over the remaining dressing, toss to coat, then pile on the crab meat, sprinkle over the lemon grass, sesame leaves, chives, sesame seeds and chopped peanuts. Serve.