Comfort food

I have been feeling poorly these past couple of weeks with a chest infection. It’s slowly starting to clear (I think), but I have been a bit lazy with my cooking because I haven’t felt 100%. Looking back at my diary I see that I didn’t eat as badly as I imagined and did start well a couple of weeks ago with some asian style beef cheek stew. This was a made up mix of beef stock, onion, some cherry tomatoes which needed using up, soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, chilli and star anise which I slow cooked the beef cheeks in. The sauce cooked down into a sticky gravy (I almost burnt it!) – served with brown rice and a sprinkling of coriander it was super tasty.

I then did stirfry chicken; salmon with spinach lentils (Jamie style) and Jamie’s enchiladas over the next few days, and as I had friends over on Friday 15th Feb I did Nigella’s spicy prawn cakes to start (for 4 people my way you blitz 300g prawns with a chopped spring onion, chopped chilli, and a teaspoon of garlic until slightly chunky so you have texture, then mix in a tablespoon of flour and a splash of port and spoon into a pan and shallow fry for a couple of minutes each side until cooked through – serve with her sweet chilli sauce); then sous vide steak, homemade chips and homemade bearnaise and chimmichurri sauces. Finally I made a mountain of profiteroles, which were again a Nigella recipe but I use milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate in the sauce as I find it too bitter her way (oh my goodness, the leftovers were FANTASTIC!).

Then I moved onto easy freezer / leftover meals with chicken kievs and jacket potatoes, spanish omelette (to use up the egg whites for the bearnaise), char sui pork (from the freezer) stirfry, and chicken and chickpea curry. Okay, not too bad, but after a night with a friend (she did wild rabbit and prune casserole with homemade bread followed by lemon posset), I had fish and chips from the chippy, and then Ikea meatballs (hopefully no horse) with pasta sauce made from a tin of tomatoes and odds and ends of veg from the fridge. Yesterday was breaded chicken (from M&S) from the freezer and so I really feel the need to eat fresh, nutritious food now.

So, I have boiled a ham – the stock has made a pea, leek and ham soup and I’ll use some of the meat sliced up for dinner tonight with colcannon and parsley sauce. I am currently boiling a chicken with ginger, garlic, lemongrass, peppercorns, star anise, carrot and onion with the plan that this will be chicken pho for dinner tomorrow (need to add rice noodles, beansprouts, chilli, lime and coriander before serving tomorrow). Then on Tuesday the leftover chicken and ham will be used to make a pie, and on Wednesday I’ll use the rest of the spice ingredients to make thai green curry paste to have with salmon as a curry. On Thursday I’ll go back to an old favourite of Jamie’s chorizo carbonara.

I love feeling organised about what to cook all week, and I also enjoy being able to use up leftovers to make other meals. The soup smells utterly delicious. The chicken smells a bit strongly of ginger at the moment but I am hoping the flavours balance out. Having never made either before I am hoping for successes!

Even better, these meals are packed full of healthy, nutritious ingredients which can only make me feel better. My chest is still congested but I am hoping to head back to the gym tomorrow – hopefully this food will give me the energy I need to get back into my exercise without making me reach for the chocolate bars!



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