My Dinners Are More Organised Than The Rest Of My Life…
I must admit, I did have a little FOMO watching everyone on Insta Stories at LFW/Baftas, whilst I was at home prepping meals for the week. Way to live life on the edge Kristabel! Whilst it’s not particularly glamorous, batch-cooking is actually one form of self-care that I try and stick to. Having my lunch or dinner sorted gives me more time to focus on other areas of my life (especially all the tasks I leave until the last minute) and prevents me from turning into my hangry alter-ego. You don’t want to meet her.
Usually I’ll just type in a few ingredients I’m curious about into Pinterest and save the dishes that don’t look too fiddly. My goal for this year is to try and understand certain flavour combinations and cook more of my favourite cuisines from scratch. It’s so useful to know what bits you can keep in the cupboard when you fancy something different and I’d love to build my confidence and even freestyle more in future.
Until then, here’s a few dishes that I’ve been cooking recently. I’ve made all the mistakes so you don’t have to (why do I never read recipes properly beforehand) plus you won’t mind eating them for a few days.
All of my food-related posts live here!
Miso Pork Ramen
This dish is a bit of a commitment, but when I saw Lucy making this (she was inspired by Stylist magazine), I knew I had to turn my food FOMO into reality. You can find it in the Japaneasy book (as well as online here if you’re feeling cheeky) and it’s a pretty decent at-home version of what I’ve had in Kanada Ya and Shoryu.
Is it straightforward? Hell no, it does not take an hour as advertised. There’s eggs to marinate and a fiddly paste to prepare, but don’t let this put you off. I’ve made this twice now and the key is to boil and marinate the eggs the day before. You can also get away with using less soy sauce by popping your eggs into a small dish and rotating them every so often.
It’s also not the end of the world if you leave a couple of things out of the pork paste (I completely forgot the tomato and the toasted sesame seeds) and I tend to bulk up my fresh chicken stock with a stock cube portion. If you want it to be your dinner for a few days, then I’d cook and keep the eggs, pork mince and stock separate in the fridge. Make your noodles, bok choi and beansprouts fresh every day (this is so you avoid them being soggy), then add them to the microwaved broth and pork. It may sound confusing but you won’t regret it.
How many random ingredients do I need? I leave out most of the ‘optional’ ingredients (parmesan, szechuan pepper, anchovies), but you will need to buy miso paste. It’s nice for impromptu soups though. Also beansprouts are not the kind of veg that is fine to eat after the use by date, so substitute for more greens if you don’t want to waste them.
Would I made it again? It’s already in the diary! It may be less authentic than the restaurant versions where the broth is cooked for 12 hours, but it also seems less fatty. I may try it next time with dried seaweed.
Middle Eastern Lamb With Chickpea Rice
I used to avoid cooking lamb ever since my Mum scolded me for not seasoning it properly when I was younger (yes, these were the sort of conversations in my house), so it’s great to have a foolproof spice combo in this recipe. I’ve made this at least five times.
Is it straightforward? This is more of a weekend dish. Once you sort out the spice mix, you can pretty much leave the lamb in the oven, before prepping the rice an hour before it’s finished. I usually halve both recipes, which makes around 3-5 portions. You could also serve the lamb with a wrap and salad to mix things up a little.
How many random ingredients do I need? You only need to keep a few ground spices handy, plus the garlic, lemon, coriander and yoghurt.
Would I cook it again? Yes! Though this cut of meat can be a little pricey, so it tends to be once every few months.
Black Pepper Tofu
Fun fact of the week, I am a massive tofu fan. I love the texture of the firm variety (especially when it’s slightly crispy after baking in the oven) and even that it’s pretty mild in taste. The key is to find the right sauce and make sure you’ve marinated everything properly, so this Vegan Black Pepper Tofu recipe fortunately adds the right amount of flavour. I fooled most people into thinking it was meaty over on my Instagram Story.
Is it straightforward? Relatively. There are a lot of different elements to prepare, such as frying the tofu in batches and separate bowls for the sauce, slurry and veg. I’d probably bake the tofu next time to simplify things.
It may also be worth adding in a few other vegetables of your choice along with the onions, just to bulk things up a bit. The most important thing is seasoning at the end, as the sauce starts off quite sweet. Keep adding small amounts of ground pepper, stirring and tasting to make sure there’s a nice balance.
How many random ingredients do I need? Apart from the fresh vegetables, the only unusual thing you may need to go out and buy is rice wine vinegar. I also use it for this garlic sticky pork stir fry or Gem’s salmon sushi bowl.
Would I cook it again? Definitely! I made in the same week as the miso ramen, as you can use up any chillies. The sauce is sticky and the closest thing I’ve made to anything that’s restaurant-quality.
What have you been making recently? Next on the list is Gem’s Cajun Chicken Bake, I’m definitely in need of some one-dish meals after all of this!