Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rolled Ham and Vegetables

This recipe has been adapted from one in my housing company's monthly magazine. This is a popular bar snack in Japan. It's delicious hot, but I'm going to have it cold at work tomorrow sometime, together with some rolled omelette and edamame! Minus the beer of course...

3 slices parma ham or other raw ham
3 long green beans, cut in half and then finely sliced lengthways
same length of carrot, julienned
30g enoki mushrooms, the ones that look like pins
1 teaspoon of sesame oil for frying
For the dip (optional)
1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and mirin (recipe also uses same quantity of sake, but I didn't have any)

  • Prepare the vegetables.
  • In a small frying pan heat the oil over a low heat.
  • Roll the vegetable strips in the ham.
  • Put in the oil seam-side down and fry until golden brown, turn and repeat twice or three times more - about 6 minutes.
  • Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Coconut milk agar jellies

These are the coconut milk kanten jellies that I made. After making the basic jelly mix below, I then made 4 variations. The one at the bottom right looks a bit lumpy, because the mixture was already setting.

The 4 variations, clockwise from top left: with chopped strawberries (add gradually, topping up with jelly mix as you go so that the strawberries do not sink to the bottom), added dessicated coconut, added dessicated coconut with chopped strawberries, basic mix. I wouldn't add the dessicated coconut again - I think it's better smooth.

4g pack of agar (kanten)
250ml of water
250ml of coconut milk
4 teaspoons honey

  • Prepare any fruit that you want to add to the jellies.
  • Heat the water to simmering point and sprinkle the contents of the sachet in, stiring continuously. Continue stirring for 1 -2 minutes until the agar is fully dissolved and there are no lumps.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk and honey. Mix well.
  • Working quickly, pour the mix into individual containers, adding other ingredients.

Mixed Bean and Chicken Green Curry

This is in fact an 'everything' creamy curry! I wanted to make something delicious and easy, in a large quantity to freeze for work. This did the job very well!

Nutrition Data (per portion, excluding rice)
Calories 245
Protein 15.9g
Carbohydrate 25.3
Fat 9.4g
Dietary Fibre 7.2g

1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
400g can red kidney beans, drained
400g can borlotti beans, drained (also known as cranberry beans or roman beans)
200g can sweetcorn, drained
130g frozen green peas
140g skinless cooked chicken breast, chopped
210g pack generic packaged green curry mix (I used S&B Green Curry)
150ml canned coconut milk
brown rice to serve
lemon zest for garnish

  • Cook the rice.
  • Meanwhile, fry the onion in the oil until golden brown.
  • In a large saucepan, add all the other ingredients except the green peas. Add the onion.
  • Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until hot. About 2 minutes before the end of cooking time, stir in the peas.
  • Serve on a bed of rice and garnish with lemon zest.
  • This freezes well.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Easy Agar Jelly (or Kantan Kanten, sorry!)

As a child, I never liked jelly, possibly something to do with the way it wobbled...?! As a student I discovered the delights of vodka jelly, and little by little I grew to like it!

Some friends gave me a homemade fruity jelly yesterday, and it was delicious. But the interesting thing is it was made from agar (kanten in Japanese, written in hiragana). Agar (sometimes agar agar) is a type of seaweed which is used for gelling liquids. It is virtually tasteless, calorie-free (until you add the extras!), but contains iodine, calcium and iron and dietary fibre. Unlike gelatine which doesn't set properly if you add kiwifruit or highly acidic fruits, agar has no problems with setting. You don't have to leave it to set in the fridge, it sets in under 30 minutes even in temperatures as hot as 27C, and it doesn't melt. I've become a fan!

The above jellies I made using orange juice, strawberries and a hibiscus flower in syrup (thanks to a present from my brother!) In the fuure, I'm going to try using coconut milk and dessicated coconut, and a layered fruit jelly, and maybe one using other edible flowers setting the flowers at the bottom. I never thought I would get so into jelly!

In the UK, you can probably buy agar powder at health food shops, and it is on the Waitrose website, but certainly also on EBay, (search for kanten, I've used this website before, they are reliable), or in stick form at the Japan Centre in Picadilly (again, I've used this website before and they are reliable).


4g sachet of agar (kanten)
400ml water
200ml orange juice
fruit or flowers

  • Boil the water and turn down to simmering point.
  • Slowly add the agar powder, stirring continuously. Continue stirring and heating for 1-2 minutes, or according the instructions on the packet, until it is completely dissolved and there are no lumps.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the fruit juice.
  • Pour into 5 individual moulds, and add fruit. Leave for about 30 minutes to set.
  • Alternatively add the fruit, pour in a thin layer of liquid, let it partially set (1-2 minutes) and repeat to build up the layers.
  • Delicious chilled!

Melon, Proscuitto Ham and Blue Cheese Salad

This is just to make me remember that the combination is basically good, but these are the ingredients I would use in future...
Thick slices of melon
Slices of proscuitto ham
Dolcelatte soft blue cheese
1 teaspoon each of olive oil and lemon juice

  • Arrange 3 wedges of melon on a plate and the ham on top.
  • Scatter crumbled blue cheese over the top.
  • Combine the olive oil and lemon juice, and drizzle over the salad.

Chilli Bean Dip

400g can red kidney beans, drained
1/2 onion, chopped
3-4 tablespoons of non fat set yoghurt or yoghurt cheese ( made from about 250g non fat regular yoghurt)
1 teaspoon chilli powder (I used chipotle powder - souvenir from a friend!)
Freshly ground pepper

  • Drain the kidney beans.
  • Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Low Fat Lemon & Pepper Houmous

High in fibre, this is a nice snack with crisp breads or vegetable sticks, spread onto bread, or just on its own! It freezes well.

Ingredients (serves 2)
400g can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans, ceci)
3-4 tablespoons of non fat set yoghurt or yoghurt cheese ( made from about 250g non fat regular yoghurt)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground pepper

  • Drain the chickpeas.
  • Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Serve with crispbread, pitta bread, or vegetable sticks.

Pan-Fried Citrus Salmon

Nutrition Data
Calories 570
Protein 26g
Carbohydrate 50g
Fat 33g
Fibre 14g

100g skinless salmon fillet
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 grapefruit
1 orange
1 small avocado
fresh mint, ground pepper and dried chilli to garnish

  • Peel and segment the grapefruit and orange in a bowl.
  • Roughly chop the avocado and tear up a handful of mint leaves and add to the fruit.
  • Put on a plate, reserving any drops of juice.
  • Scatter dried chilli over the top.
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium hot heat.
  • Grate pepper over both sides of the salmon fillet. Put in the frying pan, and pour over any juice. Fry for about 3 minutes both sides until cooked through and golden brown.
  • Serve immediately on top of the fruit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Onion Topped Tofu on Bean Sprouts and Leek

Many recipes come about not through planning of good combinations, but accident. Today I discovered that all these ingredients desperately needed using up, so...

Much to my surprise, it was delicious!

Nutrition Data
Calories 427
Protein 31.2g
Carbohydrate 31.7
Fat 23.9
Fibre 7.9g

200g pack of firm tofu
100g bean sprouts
1 leek, chopped
2 tablespoons of onion & garlic bruschetta topping (from Jupiter), or any other onion topping
1 teaspoon olive oil
Lemon zest to garnish (I keep some in a small bag in the freezer)

  • Stir fry the bean sprouts and chopped leek in the olive oil. Put on a plate.
  • Wrap the tofu block in a double thickness of kitchen paper and microwave on high for 1 minute. Put on top of the vegetables.
  • Heat the onion topping and spoon over the tofu. Garnish with lemon zest.
  • Serve immediately.