Doing a Meg Ryan…..

Moong Dhal with courgettes

I've got a new rule. When opportunities come knocking, I'm just gonna say yes! The cool thing with that is I don't have to let my brain get involved....and here's why. It totally means well, and is only trying to protect me, keep me safe and be logical by pointing out what could go wrong but that can take over from what my heart desires, and that's where the spark, excitement and joy can be in life. If I say yes, and it's meant to happen, it will. It just takes the control right out of my hands, and I'm OK with that!

So one of those 'Yeses' meant today I addressed 150 year 10, 11 and 12 students at a local girls school about my journey so far as the Fuss Free Foodie. Slightly daunting thought. A room full of eyes, being able to hear a pin drop and only my voice reverberating around the room. My head could've found many reasons why not to do it! But I did not allow myself to even get into my head about it. What's the worst that could happen!?! Sometimes its great just to bite the bullet and do it anyway and in the words of a well-known trainer company...Just do it! So let's see what comes up next that I have to say yes too!

I feel very blessed that so many of you are saying yes to the Fuss Free Foodie too, which I am so grateful for! Thank you! This week I've been hearing more of you giving my recipes ago, and even better you're families enjoying them as well! It's so easy to get stuck in a rut with the same 1-2 week recipe cycle, and we all experience that at some point and need to change things up!

This weeks recipe is still helping me use my yellow courgette glut (you could leave them out if you wanted but all part of your 5 a day!) and using those ingredients that lurk at the back of the cupboard. A fuss-free fast food, and is great for making ahead and reheating. Let me know how you get on! Lisa.

Courgette Moong Dhal

1 cup of Moong Dhal/yellow split lentils, well rinsed in water and drained
Heaped tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric
3 1/2 cups of water
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2-3 medium courgettes, sliced

 

Temper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 red/green chilli, sliced
1-2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5-6 tbsp butter/ghee/oil
Salt
(Optional 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp chilli powder)
I did it without and was still delicious

1. Put the lentils into a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups of the water (retain the rest for later). Add the turmeric, tomatoes, and ginger. Stir, and bring to the boil and then return to simmer. Stir occasionally and add more water if it dries out or starts to stick.
2. This should take about 30 minutes until the lentil are broken down and the dal has a porridge consistency. Add the courgettes at this stage and let them cook in the dal for 10-20 minutes. Add a little water if is drying out. Season with a good pinch of salt. It's not going to do any harm cooking it for longer, just keep adding bits of water if needs be.
3. In a separate frying pan, add the oil/butter and raise the temperature to medium to high, so that you can add the cumin seed and fry for a couple of minutes with the shallot. It is OK to get the shallot brown, but turn down to a medium to low heat when you add the chilli and garlic. This doesn't want to be brown, just cook for a further minute or 2.
4. Add the tempeh to the lentil mixture, stir in thoroughly. Check the seasoning for any more salt, and serve with chapatis, rotis, naan or rice. I only had pittas and that worked well too!!

Remember if you love the Fuss Free Foodie, maybe you're friends will too, so please remember to keep liking and loving to keep me in your feed! Lisa x

15 year stew….

Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

I'd written my blog pre-amble a few days ago but as I went to bed last night, these words were wanting to be delivered with the urgency of a 3rd baby! Having made a conscious decision not to blog over the summer I did wonder how my first one back would go, but I needn't have.... it was just coming out!

It wasn't until having space in the last few days as the kids went back to school, that I noticed how the summer was very much about 'doing' rather than 'being'. I realised the importance of having time to myself, and how the cathartic nature of writing my blog keeps me consciously aware of how I feel.

In fact since starting The Fuss Free Foodie I've been lucky enough to meet some awesome new people who've guided me to watch new speakers of which a video I watched yesterday really struck a cord. I noticed how we swiftly move through lifes experiences and sometimes without a second thought once they've past. If life is a playground, wouldn't it be good sometimes to just stop and to get a sense which version you've been playing? Do the rules still work and is it still a fun game!?!

I reflected back yesterday on one of those old old relationships that ended fast, with no post match dissection and no time for orange segments, if you know what I mean!! I wondered if I hadn't properly closed that relationship programme down, was it still running in the background and maybe taking up valuable (subconscious) memory space?

So I dragged an old bag out of the loft with photos and bits in, lit a fire and started to sort through and see who this girl was from the early noughties. It was interesting to see as I looked at photos of Indian travels, book selling summers and clubbing days how I could get a sense of the person I was and how it aligned (or didn't!) with me now.

As I tossed photos onto the fire that no longer brought me joy I acknowledged the time I had spent maybe not always been connected to myself.... but sought others approval, connection and 'fitted in' to feel complete.

My time finished by retrieving a locket from the loft that I had surprisingly 'found' a few days prior and placed in a corner. It had both a picture of me and my ex in. This jewellery was gathering dust so I decided to take it to the pawn shop and do some good with the cash.

I knew I wanted to give some to a guy I always see selling the Big Issue, and before I even spoke, he said he was having a bad day. He said he wanted to go out (as he said it was his birthday, whether it was or wasn't it didn't matter) for a curry and to go to the cinema. Brilliant I said. I cleared my loft today and came to a little extra cash...please do that on me. And Happy birthday. I felt joy.

So yesterday I made peace with that girl and rather than focusing on why that game was lost but how it was played gave me a greater insight to where I am at right and I felt a lot lighter and more joyous for my actions! I'm OK with not knowing what the rest of the journey holds....but I hope you will stick with me as there are some fun things coming ahead...this is just the beginning!!

Remember to keep me in your feed keep loving and liking on Facebook and follow me more in pictures on Instagram or words on Twitter! With love Lisa x

Moroccan chickpea and chorizo stew

2 tbsps tom puree
1 large sweet potato, peeled and large dice
1 pepper
2-3 carrots, large dice
1 large onion, diced
4 cooking chorizo sausages, skin removed and sliced
2 cloves garlic
400g passata
2 tbsp Ras al hanout spice
(I use Barts Spices available in Waitrose and larger supermarkets)
300-350g veg stock
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Olive oil

1. Put a tablespoon of oil in a large pan and add the chorizo. Fry on a medium heat so that the oils come out and the chorizo browns.
2. Add the onion to the pan and coat in the oils, and cook for 8 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the carrot, pepper and stir, then add the tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the chickpeas and sweet potatoes.
4. Add the ras al hanout, passata and stock and stir. The liquid should only just be up to where the veg sit. Simmer on a low to medium heat for 1 hr until the carrots and sweet potatoes are cooked through.
5. Serve on a bed of plain couscous....follow the start of my couscous salad video for perfect plain couscous!

Aubergine Curry

Aubergine curry

I never thought that being vulnerable would leave me feeling so strong. But it has. Vulnerability to me has always seemed like showing weakness. Like you were not able to work it out by yourself and that having to ask for help or for what you need just showed your flaws to the world.  However, it turns out that by being vulnerable actually shows your authenticity, the world views you in a more authentic way and will invite back much more than what you asked for.

I feel this has definitely been my growth point this week, as I couldn't decipher whether I was being vulnerable or what being vulnerable meant. I think I've always struggled to ask for help, and I think my natural mechanism in the past has been to shut down, rather than to open up; Trying to deal with things myself, cutting myself off from my friends and then falling in a downward spiral whilst I tried to sort myself.

So it turns out this is not the most successful strategy!! (Shock!) All those feelings, struggles and emotions that we have, most of the time just want to be heard, listened to or doused with tears. They want to feel validated, acknowledged and then they can move on.  When they are pushed down, and ignored and locked in a box, they come back so much bigger, with way more volume than before because they want to be heard!

I guess our transient lives have meant that to spend a lifetime in the same place, with a best friend, or mother or sibling who knows you inside out, who hears all of our troubles is far more unlikely today. And if we are not being vulnerable and letting new people into our lives, it's unlikely that we can find new people to do this with.  I think for me this has been a consistent inconsistency since teenage years, but the biggest change in the last 6 months.

I have spoken out when I needed help, ask questions when I felt unsure and reached out to people in an honest way and said, I need to get this out can you listen. By unlocking this part of me that had been closed for SO long, has allowed a whole new energy to flow.

So where I thought before that it was important to be strong, infallible and like a rock, it turnouts that the opposite is true. Being vulnerable takes courage and a fearlessness to allow people to see the true you and for you to love what you see in the mirror regardless.... because that is the authentic you.

This week I wanted to share this recipe that I found in a Sainsbury magazine 11 years ago by Nigel Slater....I've made it fuss-free considering you make your own spice paste, and appropriate in #nationalvegetarianweek and in respect to my teenage years as a veggie!

As always, please remember to give a little like, share or comment to keep the FFF in your feed and spread the fuss-free love. If you'd like to catch up on my videos to date, take a look at the Fuss Free Foodie FB page or subscribe to my channel on YOUTUBE. Have a great weekend, Lisa.

Aubergine Curry

Serves 3-4

Spice Paste

It is possible to make this paste in a large pestle and mortar, but definitely easier in a blender/spice blender.  To ensure a smooth paste I like to pestle and mortar the seeds before I add them to the blender, but not obligatory.

  • 5 birds eye chillis/2 large red chillis, roughly chopped
  • 5 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
  • Golf ball sized knob of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods, smashed into powder in pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil
  • 25g fresh coriander

For the curry

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • 6 medium tomatoes, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk
  • 25g fresh coriander leaves (optional), chopped
  1. To make the paste, roughly chop the garlic, chillis, spring onions and ginger. Grind the seeds and cardamom in a pestle and mortar.  Add the chillis, spring onions and garlic to the blender and blitz. Then add the ginger and cumin and coriander seeds and cardamom.
  2. Add the oil, coriander leaves and stalks and blitz until smooth. Keep pushing the mixture down and re-blitzing until smooth.  I sometimes add a tbsp of water to help the process.
  3. If you have more time you can griddle your aubergines on the BBQ but normally I will chop them into 1-inch squares and fry them in the wok in oil on a medium-high heat and get some colour on the aubergines.
  4. Take the aubergines out of the pan and add the other tbsp of oil.  On a medium heat add the spice paste, letting it sizzle. Stir with a wooden spoon then add your tomatoes. Add in the aubergines, coconut milk, stir and simmer.
  5. I like to simmer this for up to 30 minutes so that the tomatoes start to break down, although you could simmer just for 15 minutes and serve. All personal preference! I've been cooking this recipe for 11 years now and I like it broken down and authentic
  6. Serve the extra coriander leaf stirred through if you like, with rice.

Don't forget to pin, post or tweet this recipe to your timeline, use the buttons below. Lx

Fuss Free Chachouka with Maneesh

Chachouka with Maneesh

Gardening to me is a metaphor for life and finally this week I starting growing something other than weeds on my allotment! I love how seasons bring new opportunities for starting afresh, witnessing growth and reaping what you sow.

Like the relationship with ourselves through life, over time, with effort and nurturing we can grow and thrive.  But starve ourselves of that time, space, energy and nurturing can hold us back. Happily, we can breath new life into our relationship with ourselves at any point and we can flourish and blossom in a new way that maybe we didn't contemplate before.

I feel like a different person to the one I was 6 months ago.  I reached a point of change as my youngest started school and this has created room for me to grow and evolve.  If you'd have told me then I'd be talking about food on local BBC radio back then, I would've been excited but a bit surprised! But that happened for the first time yesterday (Listen here!)

If we create a little space for ourselves, what will grow there in its place? If we nurture ourselves a little more, what will blossom?  It's exciting to think that at any stage in our lives, we can evolve a little more.  I used to think it was about learning more information and taking more courses.  I have since realised that actually, the answers that I require are already within me, I just need to take a little time, space to feel what the answer is and peel back the layers.

This recipe is for when you are not having so much space or time but want a fuss-free delicious meal!  It's a brilliant egg dish elevated to dinner status. It goes really well with a sourdough loaf or if time allows, why not try making this relatively quick flatbread called Maneesh with Za'atar spices.  I'll post a video next week how to make it for #realbreadweek. So remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel and each time I upload a new one you'll hear about it!

Thank you all of those who supported and listened to the broadcast the show this week...I was truly grateful and glad you were there to experience it with me! Lisa

Chachouka

Serves 2 for dinner

Preheat the oven to 180℃/Gas mark 4

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, cored, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp hot, smoked paprika
  • Pinch of saffron strands
  • 400g tin of plum tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large, preferably ovenproof pan on a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and gently fry for a couple of minutes. Add the onions and fry gently for 8-10 minutes, until soft and golden.
  2. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook on a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often until the peppers are soft and wilted.
  3. Add the paprika, crumble in the saffron and add the tin of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  4. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary, if not using an oven proof pan, transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Make 4 hollows in the mixture and carefully break an egg into each one. Sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the egg white, is set and the yolk is still runny. This recipe is from River Cottage Everyday

Mussels from Brizzles…..well, Brixham actually….

Mussels: La Mouclade

In the midst of the December madness, I popped my head above the parapet and thought how nice a bowl of fuss free mussels would be and had to think whether they were in season or not (if an 'R' in the month the answer is yes!). As it was, when I phoned my fishmonger I had missed the boat (quite literally!) and there was no getting any before Xmas. But made a note to self for Jan!

For me having a reliable fishmonger is important, as they will advise on seasonality, when and where the fish came from and offer any tips on how to store, or even cook your produce. Personally, in North Bristol, I use Smith Fish, Westbury Park as I know they supply the freshest and most sustainable fish from the day boats on the South coast, but try and find one local to you that you can get to know. I often just call ahead to get them to put things aside!

Chances are on either Friday or Saturday night we will want to eat something delicious but fuss-free in the preparation stakes; and I find mussels a protein-rich, fast food. The great thing about this recipe is you can clean/prepare the mussels for cooking and leave them in the fridge and sweat off the onions ready ahead of time; then all you have to do is take 5-10 minutes to get the dish pulled together and to the table.

When it comes to mussels, most people are familiar with moules mariniere, and I do enjoy this, but find it's a bit like drinking cream (which has its place!!) This is why I find this recipe for La Mouclade so wonderful, as it has a thicker sauce with a hint of saffron and curry powder. I first saw it being made by Barny Haughton, when I worked at the Bordeaux Quay cookery school and has been a firm favourite ever since!

Give it a try and let me know how you get on at the Fuss Free Foodie FB group.
Lisa x

La mouclade
Serves 2 for dinner or 4 as a starter

Pinch of saffron strands
1.2kg mussels, prepared*1
120ml white wine
25g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp medium curry powder
2 tbsp brandy/cognac (optional)
2 tsp plain flour
200ml creme fraiche
3 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and ground black pepper

    1. Put the saffron in a small bowl and cover with 1 tablespoon of warm water
    2. Place the mussels and wine in a large pan, cover with the lid and cook on a high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels have opened, should be 3-5 mins only)
    3. Place a colander over a bowl and tip the mussels into the colander and catch the cooking liquid in the bowl. At this point, I place the saucepan lid over the mussels to keep them warm.
    4. Melt the butter in a medium-sized pan, add the onion, cook gently for a few minutes, then add the garlic and curry powder. Cook without browning for a few more minutes.
    5. If using the brandy/cognac (if I don't have any, I skip this step..still tastes great) add this now and cook until it has evaporated/disappeared. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the saffron and water, then the cooking liquid from the mussels, with exception of the last 2 tbsp, which may be gritty.
    6. Stir the sauce and bring it to simmering point over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the creme fraiche and simmer for 3 more minutes, until it reduces slightly.
    7. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the parsley. Place the mussels in the serving bowl and pour over the sauce. Stir together gently and serve with plenty of French bread or favourite bread of your choice!

*1 To prepare the mussels, rinse them in plenty of cold water. Discard any that are open, which do not close when you tap the side where the 'hinge' is or if gently squeezed. Remove the fibrous 'beards' that are on the side of the mussel between the tightly closed shell. Scrape/knock off any barnacles from the outside of the shell and rinse the mussels again to remove any bits of shell. Store in the bottom of the fridge with a piece of damp kitchen roll over the top until ready to cook. When eating the mussels if any remain closed, discard them.

My recipe is a version by Rick Stein La mouclade.

DHAL-icious and Fuss Free!

Red lentil Dhal

Meat free Monday is a regular occurrence in our house, as we tend to eat more meat at the weekend! Maybe it's the frustrated vegetarian inside of me from those long-suffering veggie days back in the 80's, that just wants to try out some beautiful vegetarian recipes available at my fingertips. But it must be good, as even my husband is on board!

As well as skipping meat once a week, when the weather gets chillier, I tend to go on a spice offensive to feel warm from the inside out. Everything gets spiced up!! Even my morning smoothie goes from chocolaty, to pimped up roasted squash with cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg. Soups have a hum of chilli and fresh ginger and curry is a weeknight staple.

That's why I've started a not so secret love affair with delicious Dhal. It has so many facets to its personality and a combo of all things wonderful and attractive! Meat-free, spicy, soupy, stewy, comforting and let's face it when you find a recipe you are happy with, it's pretty fuss free, as it's the ultimate 1 pot dish.

There are many recipes for Dhal out there, as it can be made from boiling different pulses: lentils, peas or beans, along with onion, tomato, spices. You can add a mix of tempered spices at the end, which means that you fry off (normally) whole spices in oil/ghee to release their oils and flavours and then you stir it through the dhal once it is cooked before you serve.

It adds a different dimension to the Dhal, but for me at the moment whilst I'm trying to make the kids tea, make Panforte for the school teachers and my head in a hundred different places...a fuss-free recipe that's tasty is best and a great one to start with if you've not made it before.

Tonight I had this with some pittas for simplicity, but equally would be lovely with chapatis, naan bread or boiled rice. Another warm hug in a bowl!

Split red lentil Dhal

300g red lentils washed and drained
1.5 tbsp cooking oil, coconut oil or ghee
1litre of water

1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (leave the skin on)
1 tomato, chopped
2 small red chillies or 0.5 tsp. dried red chilli flakes (optional)

1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
0.5 tsp ground cumin
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
salt & pepper

1. In a medium pan, add the oil, and then the onion, cooking and stirring until it is soft and translucent.

2. Add the garlic, ginger and fresh chilli to the pan (if using dried red chilli flakes, add them later with the spices) cook for 1 minute, until just fragrant.

3. Add the curry powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and dried red chilli flakes (if using). Stir for about 30 seconds.

4. Add the tomato and the lentils, stir until all completely mixed together.

5. Add 800ml of the cold water, bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered for up to 30 minutes until lentils are very soft and the stew is thick. Add another 100ml of water if getting too thick, but stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

6. Season with generous salt and pepper, to bring out the flavour of the spices.

For the full recipe with pictures visit:
http://www.mattersofthebelly.com/daal-indian-spiced-lentils/