Instantly marinate tofu with this easy hack for the lazy cook

Instantly marinated tofu triangles

Tofu is one of my staples.  But often when I am trying to cook quickly I don’t have time to properly press and marinate the tofu and it can ends up being really tasteless.

I’m rarely organised enough to prepare ahead of time or patient enough to wait an hour while my tofu marinates.  When you skip this step the tofu doesn’t have time to soak up the flavour of the marinade and so it can easily become tasteless.

Instead I slice the tofu thinly and spread marinade inside sandwiches of tofu. This sandwich traps the marinade into the tofu, so need for it to soak. Cooking on a sandwich press is not only quick, it also further squishes the flavour into the tofu.  Continue reading “Instantly marinate tofu with this easy hack for the lazy cook”

Perfect poached eggs in just 1 minute

One minute in the microwave is enough to make perfectly poached eggs, with oozy gooey yolks #yolkporn.

That could pretty much be this entire blog post.

FullSizeRender 4

I have been messing about with quick cooking meals for nearly a year now and this is a revelation. A friend who works in a cafe told me that when they were rushed they used a shortcut to poach eggs. Some internet research tells me this is not a secret, there was a post about this on the kitchn back in 2010 and on bonappetit.com, but it’s new to me.

Every morning this week I have been having poached eggs for breakfast. Poached eggs + Sriracha sauce = ❤️. It’s fabulous and so quick that the slowest element of my breakfast was making a proper cup of tea.   Continue reading “Perfect poached eggs in just 1 minute”

Seven minute recipe: Beetroot and feta salad

Beetroot and feta salad

IMG_0482Winter is coming!

Daylight savings ended on Sunday and oh how I miss it.  I don’t mind getting up in the dark, but I miss having light in the evenings.  Today I had to spend ages fiddling around with the lights in the kitchen to take the photographs, because food under fluorescent light looks sad and unappetising. When I trialled this recipe it took just over 5 minutes, but today it took me nearly 8 because I spent so much time trying to position food under the LED lights not the fluros.

With daylight savings ending this weekend and rain today, it definitely felt like the seasons were changing.  A beetroot salad feels like a perfect autumn meal, root vegetables are a winter thing while salads are a summer thing.

I love beetroot and a beautiful roast beetroot salad is one of my favourite things to order at my local Mediterranean cafe. But I’ve never found the time to make something similar at home. I wanted a way to work the classic beetroot/feta combo into my life in a quick way.  Canned beetroot to the rescue.

Grilling the canned beetroot isn’t quite as tasty as roast beetroot, but it does add a caramelized taste which works well with the creamy feta.  As with all canned vegetables, it is essential to rise the beetroot well before grilling to get rid of the yucky juice they come in.  Canned beetroot also tends to be overly sweet, so don’t skimp on the salt, which is needed to balance the sweet.

Once again I used my sandwich press griller, George Foreman to the rescue. This could be done on the stovetop, but the ancient oven in my apartment would take 7 minutes just to get the grill plate hot.

Beetroot and feta salad

  • Servings: 2 people
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Print

IMG_0481

Ingredients

  • 1 small can of beetroot wedges
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 200gm feta
  • 1 small bag mixed salad leaves
  • 1/2 cup smoked almonds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • balsamic vinegar
  • lemon juice

Method

  1. Rise the beetroot wedges well and toss with salt, then add to grill
  2. Chop the broccoli into bite size florets and microwave for 3 minutes
  3. Crumble the feta
  4. Once the broccoli florets are done, remove the beetroot from the grill, add all ingredients to a salad bowl and toss together
  5. Dress with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a good squeeze of lemon.

Seven minute recipe: spicy mango salad

Summer is well and truly here in Australia and Melbourne in particular seems to being having more than its fair share of heat waves so soon into the start of 2016.  There is nothing worse than having to spend time in the kitchen on a hot day.  So to celebrate the season I am sharing a salad which can be made in minutes, today, even including time taking photos, I pulled it together in just over 6 minutes.

The inspiration for this recipe came while I was on a holiday in Sri Lanka in 2013.  At the beach in Colombo there were street stalls selling paper cups of sliced fresh fruit, which is one of those things that you are absolutely not supposed to eat while you are traveling, to avoid food poisoning.  However we got talking to one of the hawkers and he agreed to cut up a whole mango for us at the stall.  He was going to all this additional effort to make sure our fruit was clean and chatting away to us and I didn’t feel I could stop him when he started sprinkling chilli flakes and pepper onto our sliced mango.  Up to that point I had eaten mango chutney, but they mainly use green mangos, it never occurred to me that chilli would go with raw mango.  Of course it was delicious and when I got home I started adding spicy mango to more and more of my salads. The cruciferous vegetable taste and crunch of broccolini goes well with the sweet, juicy and spicy mango.

My family always cube mangoes the same way, chopping off the sides, scoring them and inverting the mango half.  I’m not actually convinced this method gives you the largest amount of mango cubes in the salad, but it does leave the beautiful flesh around the pip for dessert. And the inverted mango halves do look pretty

Spicy mango salad

  • Servings: side for 2
  • Time: 6 minutes
  • Print

IMG_0255

Ingredients

  • 1 mango – well ripened
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • mixed salad greens
  • 1 desert spoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • caramelized balsamic dressing

 

Method

  • Chop the broccolini into 2 inch lengths and microwave for 3 minutes
  • Cut the mango into cubes, place in a bowl with the spices and toss together
  • Get the broccolini out of the microwave and allow to cool for 1 minute
  • Arrange everything on a salad plate and dress with additional chilli flakes and balsamic vinegar to taste.

A final note, I know I mentioned that I was going to make January healthy dessert month and there are yet to be any posts about desserts.  I haven’t given up.  I have been experimenting with lots of sweet treats but I still want to keep testing before I share anything.  I figure the world does not need another slightly modified avocado mousse recipe or instructions to make a slightly soggy microwave peach cobbler.  My trials and many errors have taught me a lot and I will share soon.

 

Seven minute tofu lettuce cups

I was going to make a video of this recipe, but the time I got home from work it was late and the sun was setting.  Without natural light in the kitchen, I had to turn on the fluorescent lights, which make the food look awful.  So no video today.

This is a fun dish to make and to eat. Plus it’s super tasty.  Sometimes, like tonight, I make it as a main meal.  But it’s also great as an entree, tasty, pretty looking and you eat it with your hands.  I have a few end of year get togethers planned and this is one of the dishes that I know I can pull together quickly and give myself more time with my guest and less in the kitchen.

#plantbased #lettucewraps with lettuce #frommygarden in my #sevenminutemeal tonigh

A post shared by Emma (@sevenminutevegetarian) on

spicy tofu lettuce cups

  • Servings: 5 lettuce cups
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Print

IMG_0249

Ingredients

  • 125 grams (4.5 ounces) firm tofu
  • 1 cup bean shoots
  • baby cos lettuce
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of vegetable stock
  • 1 clove garlic

Method

  1. Slice the tofu into 1cm thick slices and place into fry pan with a splash of oil
  2. Once the tofu is warm mash with a potato masher into mince size pieces
  3. Add a heaped teaspoon of veggie stock to the tofu and cook until it browns slightly, which should take 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. While the tofu is cooking chop the chilli into small pieces and add to the tofu
  5. Crush the garlic clove and add to the tofu
  6. Add the bean shoots and cook until warm
  7. Wash the lettuce leaves, pick 5 cup-shaped leaves and arrange on a serving plate
  8. Scoop the tofu mix into the lettuce cups and serve.

Seven minute recipe: Kale tabouli

I'm going to call this 7 minutes
I’m going to call this 7 minutes

Here in Australia the weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer.  Which means there are more and more opportunities for picnics.   My new house in Melbourne is right next to a park and there are always people sitting outside enjoying the sunshine or playing cricket.  My walk to the train I walk past the Brunswick Mallet Sports Club, and this morning there were a group of women playing a game of crocket.  I really want to join this club, based on the group I saw this morning I would be 25 to 30 years younger than the youngest member, but it looks like so much fun.

I’m off to a picnic barbecue this afternoon and I wanted a salad that was quick to make and tasty to share with vegan, veggie and omnivore friends alike.  Kale tabouli ticks all the boxes, it’s a great side to go with veggie sausages and it’s filling enough that you don’t need a tonne of other things.

Kale tabouli

  • Servings: side for 4 people
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Print

FullSizeRender 3Ingredients

  • 4 leaves of curly kale
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur

Method

  1. Boil water
  2. Put 1/2 cup bulgur in a heatproof bowl, add 3/4 cup boiling water and cover with a plate
  3. Remove the stems from the kale, chop and add to bowl
  4. Dice the tomato, sprinkle with salt and leave on chopping board to drain
  5. Add the juice from half the lemon to the kale
  6. Zest the lemon to create 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and add to kale
  7. Scoop the tomatoes up in your hands, leaving as much of the juice and seeds behind as possible, and add to the kale
  8. Add the bulgur and toss everything together

This recipe only uses about half a bunch of kale.  Kale will keep in the fridge for almost a week so pop it in a bag and save it for another meal.  If you are looking for inspiration for how to use that kale, check out the other seven minute recipes where I used kale:

Seven minute recipe: Mashed butter beans with asparagus and tomato salad

Tonights timing for this recipie
Tonights timing for this recipie

Wow, 2015 seems to be disappearing in a flash.  November is nearly here and with it comes NaNoWriMo, the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I have participated in NaNo every year since 2009 although I have only ‘won’ twice.  Mostly I do it for fun and I have made many great friends in this madcap writing community. It’s a great chance to stretch my creativity muscle and really focus on one project for a month.

That said, November is a particularly busy time of year for me and I always fall a little off the rails with basically everything that is not writing.  I will have to rely more than usual on my seven minute recipe collection.  I hope I can continue to add more recipes to this blog over November and share them with others who will be similarly strapped for time as the end of the year approaches.

IMG_0200I am about 80% settled into the new house, there are a few boxes of books and other odds and ends that remain packed in boxes, but everything I need day-to-day is now accessible.   I also found a beautiful fresh organic produce shop just 10 minutes walk away, which is where I bought the asparagus for this recipe.  Asparagus is really in season here at the moment and beautifully flavorful. The creamy butter bean mash is a great complement and I’ve added tomatoes to round out the fruit/veggie servings.  Butter-bean mash is one of my go-to sources of protein and because it can be made without the butter or milk you would add to mashed potatoes, this meal is vegan friendly.

Mashed butter beans with asparagus and tomato salad

  • Servings: 1 person
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Print

FullSizeRender

Ingredients

  • 1/2 can butter beansFullSizeRender 2
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 desert spoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 chilli
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Drain the can of butter beans, rinse under the sink and add to a small frypan with the olive oil
  2. Crush the clove of garlic into the fry pan and stir into the beans
  3. Chop the asparagus lengths in half and put on the sandwich press to grill
  4. Remove the seeds from the chilli and chop
  5. Dice the tomato, then pop into a bowl with the chilli and a sprinkle of salt
  6. With a potato masher, mash the butter beans ( I like to leave mine a little rough and ‘country style’ but you can mash as smooth as you like)
  7. Spoon the mash into a bowl and top with the grilled asparagus and the tomato salad, add salt and pepper to taste.

Seven minute recipe: Fennel and sweet potato salad with lemon

IMG_0187I am still trying to find my way around my new kitchen and I am blaming the kitchen for the fact I ran almost a minute and a half over the seven minute timeframe today.  Really it’s my own fault, one of the tricks to cooking quickly is to be prepared. I usually have everything I am going to need to cook the meal sitting out on the bench top before I begin. Instead today I was scrambling about for a chopping board and a grater part way thought cooking.

Additionally, I chopped my sweet potato way too thick, so it took longer to cook.  Some of the pieces where almost 1cm thick when they should have been a third of that.  Quick cooking like this on the sandwich press not only requires all the pieces to be thin, but also largely the same size.  Using one of those fancy mandolin slicers would be ideal, but additional kitchen equipment is not in the budget until I have recovered from the move.

FullSizeRender 2

The sweet starchy flavour of sweet potatoes also balances out the fennel in this salad, so I have not included a dressing, just a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.   As a kid the aniseed-y taste of fennel really put me off, but I have since learned that taste can be great if its not too overpowering, fennel grilled and with lemon fennel tastes delicious.

Fennel and sweet potato salad with lemon

  • Servings: meal for one or side for two
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Print

IMG_0192

Ingredients

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 2 inches of sweet potato
  • Lemon (1/2 teaspoon zest and for juice)
  • Mixed salad greens
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Chop off the green stalks of the fennel and the base, then slice into sections approximately 1/2 cm thick and place on one half of the sandwich press to grill
  2. Chop the sweet potato into thin slices (1/3 cm ideally) keeping the slices as even as possible, add to the other half of the sandwich press to grill.
  3. Put mixed salad greens on a serving platter and zest a lemon over the top
  4. Squeeze half the lemon over the fennel on the sandwich press
  5. After 4 minutes or so,  the veggies should be looking nicely grilled and should be soft when poked with a fork.  Once there done, grab them off the grill and add to the platter.
  6. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and the juice of the other half of the lemon

I make a lot of meals using the sandwich press to grill food quickly, for example check out my Warm chickpea and tomato salad or follow this blog to get emailed more tasty meals to cook in seven minutes.

Seven minute recipe: tomato couscous salad with chia seeds

This photo shows about 80% of the bench space in my new kitchen
This photo shows about 80% of the bench space in my new kitchen

I’m mid-unpacking at my new house.  The good news is that all my furniture and boxes made it here and nothing appears to be broken.  The bad news is my new kitchen has hardly any bench space.  When I inspected the place before, the people who lived here before me had a sideboard bench or something to create more useful surface space and now all that’s left is lots of floor space and about 60cm of useful bench space.  I will have to buy a table or something to go in this space, but for now I am going to be cooking recipes which require minimal bench space.

Today I am sharing a super quick tomato salad I pulled together while I was unpacking.  I added chia seeds for extra protein and because I like the crunch with couscous.

The critical thing when using tomatoes like this is to make sure to drain the tomato liquid out.  Chefs and cooks with lots of time deseed tomatoes when making bruschetta and salads like this.  I don’t have the time or the patience for that, but I want to share a technique to drain as much of the liquid out as possible. I place my diced tomatoes in a colander with some salt.  Then I leave the colander over the sink to drain for a few minutes before giving the tomatoes a good toss, trying to leave any seed-y liquid-y tomato bits behind in the colander.

Tomato couscous salad with chia seeds

  • Servings: 1 person
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Print

IMG_0184FullSizeRender

Ingredients

  • 2 large vine ripened tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons couscous
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • mixed salad greens
  • a handful of basil
  • sea-salt
  • a pinch of powered vegetable stock

Method

  1. Boil water (remember the kettle will boil quicker if you fill the kettle to the minimum possible level, for my kettle this is about 1.5 to 2 cups, which is plenty of water for this recipe)
  2. Add the vegetable stock powder, the couscous and the chia seeds to a bowl and cover with water, covering the dry ingredients with 1cm of water, then cover the bowl with a plate to trap the steam from the water
  3. Roughly chop the tomatoes
  4. Place the tomatoes and half a teaspoon of salt in a colander and stir well, sit over the sink to drain
  5. Chop the basil and add to the tomatoes
  6. Check that all of the water has been absorbed by the couscous mixture, stir in a drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Serve with the mixed salad greens and a drizzle of red wine vinegar or salad dressing of your choice

Edit: an earlier version of this post included the unmodified quantities for making a family size serving of couscous, I’ve now corrected the quantities for a single serve salad.

My ultimate emergency scrambled eggs

I know I said earlier I would have a recipe post to share soon and I’m sorry but this is not it. Instead it’s my part of the story of why I am writing this blog.  Earlier in the week I was listening to a podcast called What is your why? and I was struggling with expressing why it was so important to me to put all of this out into the interwebs in the form of this blog.  Then Sunday happened.

boxesAs I said in my last post I am moving house next week. I’m moving interstate, so for much of the weekend I was having lovely catch ups with friends who I won’t see as much after I move. I’d reserved Sunday night for packing before the movers come on Wednesday.  Then Sunday night my Grandfather took a fall. He’s going to be fine, but for various reasons I was the only person who could sit with him and wait for the ambulance and then head to the hospital.  After all of this I came home exhausted and stressed, I needed dinner quickly before I could face packing boxes.

I am an emotional eater, my first impulse when I finally got home was to order a pizza and eat the entire thing.  It was late, I was hungry and I didn’t have a single scrap of mental energy left for cooking.  Emergency scrambled eggs to the rescue. This is my go to meal when I’ve not done the shopping and I need a meal in 7 minutes.

Even in the most stressful of circumstances I was able to pull together a relatively healthy meal.  That such a change from how I would have lived my life a year ago.  A year ago I would have ordered that pizza and eaten it all, but it would have left me feeling ill and mentally berating myself for eating junk food.  The combination of poor quality food and self castigation would have left me without energy and made it even harder to find the motivation to work on packing.  Instead I was able to pull together a relatively healthy meal, with vegetables.  That small feeling of achievement gave me the motivation to face the packing.

One small change can be the catalyst for bigger changes.  Achieving even simple tasks can give you the motivation to face much larger ones.  So I want to share this journey.  Hopefully there are people out there who will find it helpful, but mostly I want to share because sharing this reminds me of what I can do and reinforces that I have the skills and capacity to nourish my body in a healthy way.

I haven’t included a full recipe for my scrambled eggs in this post.  The captions of the photos should make it clear what I did, but let me know if you want more details.

A desert spoon of mayo is the perfect addition when cooking scrambled eggs in the microwave, I have tried to find the website where I first saw this idea, but I couldn’t, if you are the person who came up with this all credit to you.  In my current microwave 2 minutes is the perfect time to cook scrambled eggs, but it can vary depending on the power of the machine.

Finally, the eggs are sitting at the bottom of a bowl of water because I wasn’t sure how fresh they were and I used the float test to check.  Egg kept in the fridge last well past the best before date written on the carton.