Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner for One? Turkey, Sprouts and Sweet Potato Alternative

I am of course aware that Thanksgiving in the USA - and some weeks earlier in Canada - is a time for family get-togethers and celebrations with a large roasted turkey and assorted accoutrements. Equally, as many of us should be aware, not everyone is in the position of having a family with whom to gather and some may actually spend the day alone or simply as part of a couple. In such circumstances, the purchase of a whole turkey is not really practical but this in no way means that turkey, sweet potatoes, et al, need be off the menu altogether. It is entirely possible to buy fresh turkey in portions and this turkey and Brussels sprouts stir fry, served on a bed of cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes, could be just the job in such a situation.

Ingredients (per Person)

1/2lb diced turkey thigh
5 or 6 small Brussels sprouts
1/2 small onion (very roughly chopped)
1 medium to large sweet potato
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Corn or sunflower oil for frying


Peel and chop the sweet potato and add the pieces to boiling, salted water. They will take around twenty minutes to soften.

Bring a wok up to a high heat and add around a tbsp of oil. Stir fry the turkey pieces until they are just sealed and have turned off-white. Remove them from the wok to a plate. There is no need to keep them warm.

Chop off the surplus stalk on the sprouts but be sure to leave enough that the leaves remain held together. Do not put a "+" in the bottom of them as all this achieves is to cause them to fall apart during cooking. Remove any dead outer leaves and wash and dry thoroughly.

Add more oil to the wok if required and stir fry the sprouts only for about five minutes. Keep them moving around the pan and don't allow them to burn. As I like Brussels sprouts crunchy, this is the way I cook them but if you like them a little softer, cut them in half down through the centre prior to frying them.

Next, add the onions and the garlic and stir fry for about another minute before re-adding the turkey to complete its cooking process, along with the soy sauce. This should take no more than another minute or two.

Drain the sweet potatoes and mash them well in a pot or bowl before adding and stirring through the cinnamon. Serve the sweet potatoes on a dinner plate as shown, with the turkey and Brussels sprouts stir fry served on top.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

How to Make Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelette)

A Tortilla Espanola is simply a Spanish style omelette. It is far more substantial than the French style omelette and includes in the ingredients slices of potato and onion. This version of Tortilla Espanola is my own interpretation of the techniques and I hope that you enjoy this slightly different from the conventional dish.

This recipe should be sufficient to serve two people.


4 large eggs
2 small new potatoes (whole and unpeeled)
1/2 medium sized Spanish onion (thinly sliced)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


The first step is to put the potatoes in to some boiling water and simmer them for around twenty-five to thirty minutes until cooked. Drain them well and set them aside to cool a little until they can safely be handled.

Break the eggs in to a bowl and beat thoroughly, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to a 10", non-stick frying pan and heat gently, adding the butter to melt as the oil begins to heat up. When the butter has melted, add the sliced onions and cook gently for a few minutes until they take on that luminous sheen.

Chop the potatoes in to 1/2" cubes (skin can either be left on or discarded) and add them to the pan with the onions, stirring well to let them heat through only. Add the egg and turn the heat up to medium to high and cook for around three or four minutes until it can be seen that the egg is almost completely set.

It is normal practise at this stage to turn the Tortilla at least once to cook it on the top side but I prefer simply to place the pan under a hot grill and allow it to finish cooking in this fashion, before serving immediately. Note that I only get away with grilling at this stage as this recipe makes a fairly thin Tortilla.

In Spain, Tortilla are very often served with homemade tomato sauce. If you wish to serve it in this fashion as I have done, here is the recipe for my Spanish tomato sauce. Again, this is my interpretation of Spanish tomato sauce and is a little bit different from that generally served in SPain. (Note that it will be necessary to start preparing the tomato sauce once the potatoes have been put on to simmer.)


1 14oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
Salt to taste


Put the olive oil in to a small, non-stick saucepan and gently heat. Add the garlic and stir around for a minute to cook it but not brown it. Add the tomatoes, paprika and salt and simmer as gently as possible - stirring frequently - for around thirty to forty minutes until a lush sauce is formed.

Tortillas are also often eaten cold in Spain. This can either be in the form of slices as with a pie, or even on a bread roll with perhaps a little tomato chutney or relish, as I have prepared it in the photograph above.

Whichever way you choose to eat your Tortilla Espanola, I very much hope that you enjoy this authentic taste of Spain and the Mediterranean as much as I did.

Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

Spanish Omelette Recipe

How to make Tortilla Espanola on

Tortillas as a Traditional Cuban Breakfast

Video of How to Make a Spanish Omelette

Spanish Tapas Recipes Made Easy

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Ham and Egg Fried Rice

Fried rice is usually thought of in the Western world as simply being an accompaniment to a main meal. The reality is, however, that in many Asian countries, fried rice with certain additives represents the entire content of the meal. This delicious recipe for ham and egg fried rice can either therefore be used in smaller quantities as a meal accompaniment or very successfully enjoyed as a meal in itself for two people.


6oz basmati or long grain rice
2 medium free range, organic eggs
4 rashers of bacon
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp corn oil for frying
A little butter


The first step is to cook the rice by boiling it. Put the rice in to a very fine sieve and wash it thoroughly under running cold water. Put it in to a pan of boiling, salted water and simmer for around twelve minutes. Drain it well through the same sieve, cover it and set it aside to cool.

Break the eggs in to a bowl and whisk with a fork until they begin to froth. Melt a little butter in a small, non-stick frying pan and add the egg mixture. Turn up the heat to medium to high and gently move the egg mixture from around the edge of the pan towards the centre with a plastic spatula until the eggs begin to set. When the eggs are almost completely set, turn the omelette over for the top to finish cooking. We are not making the omelette to eat as an omelette so it is important that all the egg mixture is fully cooked. Remove the omelette from the pan on to a plate, cover and leave it to cool.

The rashers of bacon should be grilled under a medium grill until cooked and then added to the plate with the omelette.

When the omelette is cold, carefully roll it up as tightly as you can in to a cylindrical shape and then slice it as finely as possible. This will produce long, narrow strands of cooked egg. Place the bacon rashers one on top of the other and slice equally finely.

Bring a wok up to a very high heat before adding the corn oil. Allow the oil to heat up before adding the cold rice and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the egg, bacon and soy sauce and fry for about another minute for everything to heat through.

Season to taste (though be careful, as a lot of salt will be obtained from the bacon and soy sauce) and serve immediately.

Do You Have a Proper Chinese Wok?

A Chinese wok is a fantastic addition to the appliance range in any kitchen. A wok is essential in order to cook Chinese and other Asian style food at its very best. Here are a couple of excellent deals on woks currently available on and for you to consider.

Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

How to Make Biryani

Egg Fried Rice Recipe

The Easiest Way to Cook Basmati Rice

Easy Fried Rice and Chicken Chow Mein Recipes

Easy Thai Fried Rice

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A Scottish Mother's Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

There is clearly a bit of a story attached to this recipe which it is better to relate before I proceed with the recipe itself. This recipe differs from any other that I have included on this blog - or anywhere else, for that matter - in that it is not one which I created or at least adapted. No, I am not committing plagiarism, nor have I been chatting up any elderly ladies of Italian descent: the recipe is actually my mother's.

This is a recipe which I vividly remember my mother (who has no Italian links) preparing from my earliest childhood but - even as a food writer and editor - I have strangely enough never asked her how she actually makes it until very recently. This is especially surprising, given the fact that it is so good. I therefore deemed to put that fact right and share it with the wider world at large. My mother (a vegetarian!) devised the recipe through trial and error, without clearly ever tasting it herself. I was certainly surprised myself both by certain inclusions and omissions from this recipe but please try it out for yourself before judging it.

The quantities in this recipe provide for two people.


1/2lb minced/ground steak (or beef)
2 small carrots (scraped and diced)
1 medium white onion (moderately finely chopped)
2 large closed cup mushrooms (moderately finely chopped)
8oz tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
A little boiling water


Brown the minced/ground steak in a large pot. Ensure that it doesn't burn. Add the carrots and the onion then enough boiling water to ensure that everything is submerged. Simmer gently for ten to fifteen minutes.

Add the mushrooms, followed by the tomato puree and ketchup. Stir very well and leave to simmer gently while the accompanying spaghetti is prepared according to the instructions on the packet.

Drain the spaghetti and arrange on the serving plates, prior to spooning the bolognese sauce on top. Freshly grated parmesan cheese can be added if and as required.

Footnote: I have to admit that there is one thing I always add to this recipe and that is salt. That again, however, is a matter of personal taste.

Bonus Recipe Today! - Bolognese Sauce with Cheese on Toast

I couldn't bring myself to publish this post with my own sole contribution to the recipe being the addition of some salt, so I decided to share with you a way in which I love to eat any leftover bolognese sauce.


2 tbsp Bolognese sauce
1oz grated/shredded cheddar or other hard cheese
1 slice of bread
Freshly ground black pepper


The first step is simply to re-heat the Bolognese sauce. Toast the bread thereafter on one side and turn it over before spooning on and smoothing out the Bolognese sauce. Sprinkle the cheese carefully on top and grind the pepper liberally on top of the cheese. Place back under the hot grill until the cheese has melted and begins to bubble furiously.

This makes a great lunch idea for the day after the Spaghetti Bolognese has been served but remember to ensure that the sauce is refrigerated if being left overnight and very thoroughly re-heated prior to use.

Yet Another Bonus Today

Do you ever have a problem judging how much spaghetti to make per person? I know that it used to be a common problem for me! Not long ago, however, I found this clever little tool on Amazon. You simply determine how many people you are cooking for and use the appropriate hole to determine how much spaghetti to cook. Obviously, it is not foolproof, as peoples' appetites vary, but it should at least significantly reduce the amount of unrequired and cooked spaghetti you are forced to discard - or even worse, the number of occasions upon which you come up short!

Click on either the or panel below to go a long way to ensuring that your cooked spaghetti is of the right quantity in future.

Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

Tomato and Basil Pasta Recipe

Healthy Beef Recipes

How to Easily Make your own Homemade Pasta

Quick, Delicious, Homemade Pasta Dishes

A Pasta Guide from A-Z

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Poached King Scallops with Parsley Mashed Potatoes and Cream and White Wine Sauce

The process of how to cook scallops requires above all that considerable attention be paid to the concept of ensuring that the scallops not be over-cooked. If scallops are in any way over-cooked, they will acquire an extremely unpleasant texture, as well as losing much of their delicate flavour, and prove to provide a decidedly unpleasant eating experience. This recipe for scallops poached in milk provides for a very defined cooking method and virtually ensures that the scallops may be enjoyed at their very best. Please note also that the orange, "Roe," or, "Coral," as it is more properly called is entirely edible and should be left attached where possible.

Ingredients (Per Person)

5 King Scallops (Coral attached)
Approximately half a pint of milk
2 large maris piper potatoes
1 tbsp double (heavy) cream
1 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley plus a small sprig for garnish


The first step is to peel the potatoes and chop them in to approximately one inch cubes. Put them in to a pan of boiling, salted water and simmer for twenty to twenty-five minutes, until soft. When the potatoes are almost ready, put the scallops in to a small pot and add enough cold milk to ensure they are fully covered. Put them on a moderate heat and simply leave them until the milk just begins to simmer. At this stage, the scallops are cooked and should be removed from the milk with a slotted spoon.

Drain the potatoes well and return them to the empty pot. Add about a tablespoonful of the warm scallop poaching milk (more can be added if and when required) and mash them thoroughly. Reserve a generous pinch of the chopped parsley for the sauce and add the remainder to the potatoes, stirring it through well.

The sauce will only take seconds to make. Add the wine to a very small saucepan and bring it up to a simmer. Add the cream and stir it in gently until the sauce returns to a simmer. Stir in the parsley and the sauce is ready to serve.

Spoon the mashed potatoes on to a plate and arrange in a flat disc. Add the scallops on top before pouring over the sauce. Garnish with the remaining sprig of parsley and serve immediately.

Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

Healthy Fish Recipes

Healthy Shrimp and Cashew Nuts Recipe

Causes and Symptoms of a Shellfish Allergy

How to Cook Mussels

Seafood Dinner Ideas and Recipes