10 minute recipes

Food in 5 – pea pesto

The summer holidays loom, and I don’t know about you, but I’m scared. Six weeks of virtually no childcare, and the constant grind of cooking and cleaning. Argh. Maybe it will be sunny. With that in mind we’re launching a week of Food in Five. That’s lunch or tea that can either be made in five minutes or with five ingredients (not including salt, pepper and oil). I’m kicking off with this pea pesto, which was born out of sheer desperation last week. What would I do without frozen peas? You may not have the exact same things in your cupboard, but the thing with pesto is that you can adapt it to what you have got. Pesto is the past participle of pistare, to pound (according to yahoo answers) and I think if you look at it like that, your fridge (or freezer) becomes your oyster. Just choose a combination of things you think will taste nice together and give it a blitz in the blender with some olive oil. Frozen broad beans, some wilting rocket, or a jar of sundried toms are all a good base. I had pine nuts in the cupboard as my husband is obsessed with them (I know, other men like interent porn, Mr McDonald is into pine nuts – or maybe that’s just a euphemism?) and although they are nice in pesto, you could always manage without. The mint was because that’s what I’ve got in the garden. I didn’t put any garlic in, because we didn’t have any, but a small amount crushed would jazz up anything. I think cheddar is just...

Fruit loaf

I had planned to post a summery supper today. Something herby and light for balmy nights, enjoyed with a glass of white once the kids are in bed. What was I thinking? I’ve spent most of this weekend on the spectrum of slightly damp to sodden. Yesterday we visited the Lambeth Country Show to see funny-looking sheep, drink scrumpy and eat jerk chicken, instead we (unsuccessfully) dodged downpours and spent £10 on two helium balloons (well, my husband did, not being as well versed as me in the art of saying “no“). The joys of a British summer. Today we are wrapped up at home, and if we had a log fire, it would be on. So it’s a change of recipe plan. This fruit loaf is perfect for anything the summer can throw at you – hot, cold, damp etc. It’s unbelievably easy, so do it with the kids in the summer holidays, and serve with butter, slices of banana or on its own. I like to have it with a banana and peanut butter milkshake. Fruit loaf Serves: 12 slices Start to finish: 5 mins prep, 1 hour soaking, another 1 minute prep, 1.5 hours in the oven 1 cup of dried fruit – whatever you’ve got, I’ve used a mix of figs, sultanas and apricots, all cut up small 1 cup of bran flakes 1 cup of milk 1 cup of SR flour Put dried fruit, milk and bran flakes in a bowl, stir and leave for an hour, but don’t worry if you leave it for longer, I’ve left it for six hours and it was fine....

Caesar salad with a nod to Cleopatra

Ra ra Cleopatra, Famous beauty coming at ya! I’ve not gone mad. Well not completely. The above line is from a song from the amazing Horrible Histories which my five year old is obsessed with. And, if I’m honest, I am a bit too. Cleopatra’s her favourite Queen, like ever, and she recently announced that at home she would no longer answer to Elizabeth – just Cleopatra. Anyway, ever the opportunist I thought her obsession with all things Egyptian (and by association Roman) could be a cunning way to get her to eat salad. Stretching the boundaries of history just a little, I told her that Caesar liked nothing more after a hard day’s fighting than sitting down with Cleo and eating chicken salad. (The salad actually has nothing to do with Casear and was allegedly created by an Italian-Mexican in the 1920s). Anyway it’s delicious and although I always eat it when I’m out, I’ve never cooked it at home. I don’t know why as it is ten times nicer and very simple. You can do it the long way (make your own croutons and roast your own chicken) or the short way (buy packet croutons and ready-roasted chicken breasts) but either way you won’t regret it. The dressing is the only finickety bit, but even then it’s quite easy. My children loved the croutons, the Parmesan and the chicken but refused to eat the lettuce or the dressing. Which when you deconstruct it, is just chicken, fried bread and cheese. Ho hum. When I remonstrated with my daughter about her refusal to eat greens, she retaliated by...

Something for the weekend: eggy crumpets

  Hot toasted crumpets had always had a place in my heart (along with the kids and Mr McDonald) but then along came this. It was different. Special. This was eggy crumpets. Things have changed. Try them and have your world rocked. Eggy crumpets with cottage cheese and smoked salmon Start to finish: 10 minutes Serves: this makes 4 crumpets, so should feed 2 adults, or one adult and 2 kids 4 crumpets 1 egg Knob of butter 250g cottage cheese Zest of half a lemon A sprinkling of thyme leaves A glug of olive oil Black pepper 100g Smoked salmon First mix the cottage cheese with the lemon zest, thyme and olive oil. This livens things up no end. Then crack the egg into a flat bottomed dish, something which the crumpets can lay flat in. Give the egg a brief whisk with a fork to break the yolk up a bit, and place the crumpets in it. Then turn the crumpets over so each side is coated with egg. Place frying pan over a medium heat and add a large knob of butter. Once it’s melted and has covered the base, throw the egg-soaked crumpets in. After a minute on one side the egg should be cooked and the crumpet browned, turn over and cook the other side. After another minute the crumpet should be heated all the way through, and the egg cooked. Remove from the pan and put on plates. Spoon the cottage cheese over the crumpets and place the smoked salmon on top. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of pepper...

Something for the weekend – Easy peasy lemon squeezy

Lemonade There was a whisper of summer in the air on Wednesday, so we decided to set up a lemonade shop in the back garden. I am sure there are fancier ways of making lemonade (that involve dissolving sugar in boiling water) but this is the most child-friendly and it doesn’t take long and is fun to do. We bought 6 lemons for £1 from the man at the market. Some were gigantic – more like pomelos and squeezed them into a large bowl. (TIP If you put the hard-looking ones in the microwave for ten seconds first it makes make them easier to squeeze.) We then sieved the mixture into a jug, stirred in enough caster sugar to make it less potently tongue-stripping and topped it up with water (fizzy or still) before pouring over ice. I like mine served with fresh mint, but the children scooped theirs out because it was green. Anyway, it was half the price of the stuff you buy in the shops and twice as tasty. But that didn’t stop my five-year-old – the “shop-owner” – charging me a fiver a glass. I don’t know if I should be proud of her entrepreneurial spirit or despair at the little minx’s capitalist tendencies....

Sweetcorn fritters, crispy bacon and roast tomatoes

This is a great weekend brunch alternative to the traditional English fry-up and something your children will wolf down too – bar possibly the tomatoes. I always order sweetcorn fritters from my favourite Thai takeaway, so thought I’d try making some myself. These ones are distinctly unoriental and they are best eaten with crispy bacon, roasted tomatoes and the weekend papers. Corn fritters, crispy bacon and roast tomatoes Serves: 4 (makes about 8 fritters) Start to finish: 10 mins prep, 40 mins cooking time if doing tomatoes, otherwise 5 mins. 2 large eggs separated large pinch of salt 3 tablespoons plain flour 160g drained sweetcorn (small tin) salt and pepper paprika cherry tomatoes olive oil rosemary streaky bacon Drizzle some whole cherry tomatoes (four per person) with olive oil and roast with a couple of sprigs of rosemary, salt and pepper at 180c for 40 minutes. Whisk the egg whites with the large pinch of salt until stiffish. In another bowl whisk the egg yolksfor two minutes. Stir in the flour and sweetcorn to this mixture and then fold in the whites until it is mixed together. If you’re feeling fancy add a pinch of paprika or some fried spring onions to the mixture before you fold in the egg whites. Cook some streaky bacon (two rashers per person and it has to be streaky if you want it to go really crispy) under a hot grill until it is almost crunchy. Meanwhile drizzle some olive oil into a non-stick pan and when hot measure tablespoons of mixture in to the pan (I normally do two batches of four...

That’s how we (sausage) roll

Good for: any time, any place, any where I love a good honest proper sausage roll. Not those flaccid greasy offerings from Greggs, but a homemade one using good sausages and (admittedly shop bought) puff pastry. As you can see I am somewhat stretching the definition of homemade, but some effort does go into these, although admittedly not a lot. They’re a bit like scones, in that they’re so quick and delicious to make when you’ve done it once you won’t get shop bought again. All you need is a pack of sausages, a pack of ready rolled puff pastry, an egg to glaze and – if you fancy it and possibly for grown-ups only – some onion marmalade/mustard/fresh thyme leaves to spread/sprinkle on the inside before cooking. Sausage rolls Makes: 6 Start to finish: 10 mins prep, 10 mins in the oven Two sheets ready rolled puff pastry Six sausages (These are the best I’ve tried. You have to mail order them in bulk though. Freeze!) Optional onion marmalade or mustard One egg – lightly beaten Take the skin off the sausages and roll them – one by one – in a piece of puff pastry so it just meets either side. (The pastry should be the same length as each sausage.) Spread some mustard or my favourite – onion marmalade on the pastry leaving a gap around the edges of about 2cm. You could also sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves on the sausage. Then “glue” the edges of the pastry together with beaten egg and press down until the sausage is as snug as a bug in a rug....

On the eleventh day of Christmas…chocolate pots!

Chocolate pots may not be part of your normal Christmas repertoire, but it’s a great pudding to have on standby around the festive period. It only takes 8 minutes to make (I counted them) and you can serve it in little cups so you won’t run short of bowls if there’s a whole crowd of you. And it’s easily eaten standing up. Was chocolate ever so practical? Like so many good, quick recipes, this is Nigella Lawson, from Nigella Bites. Chocolate pots Serves: 8 Start to fin ish: 8 mins prep, 6 hours in the fridge 175g good quality dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids) 150 ml double cream 100ml full fat milk 0.5 tsp real vanilla extract 0.25 tsp allspice 1 egg Heat milk and cream in a saucepan until just before boiling. While it’s heating crush choc to smithereens in the food processor. When milk/cream is hot enough, add vanilla and allspice. Add whole concoction through the hole at the top of the food processor. Let it stand for 30 seconds. Process for 30 seconds. Crack the egg into the hole and process for another 45 seconds. Pour into the 8 little cups (and don’t be tempted to pour more into fewer cups – it’s incredibly rich), I use espresso cups. Take out of the fridge 20 or so minutes before eating, so it’s not too chilled which “interferes with their luscious, silky richness” says Nigella. And, as usual, she’s...

On the 5th day of Christmas…a special breakfast

Good for: keeping rumbling tummies at bay before lunch This perky dish doesn’t look very festive, it’s more technicolour Judy Garland than James Stewart. But despite the rather neon tones (I’m very proud of those soft boiled eggs), it’s delicious, and perfect for “second breakfast” on Christmas Day. First breakfast is the porridge or Weetabix you shovel down at 6-7ish, just after the children have opened their stockings. Second breakfast is at about 10am and is what keeps you going until lunch, which in our house is never before 3pm. This breakfast lines your tummy for any early festive snifters and it will keep you going for hours; eggs and salmon are both high in protein and give a feeling of fullness which lasts. Potato cakes with smoked salmon and soft boiled eggs Serves: 4 adults Start to finish: 10 minutes 2lb mashed potato 2 spring onions, finely sliced Plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper Beaten egg to coat the cake with Olive oil for frying Several slices of smoked salmon per person 1-2 soft boiled eggs per person Make the mashed potato the night before, so you don’t have to do it in the morning. I store it in a china bowl with a plate on top, rather than tupperware, to avoid any plastic-y flavouring. Ensure it’s seasoned well with salt and pepper because once it is cooked into a cake it is difficult to season again. Stir in the spring onions. Scoop out a handful and using your palms make into a patty, paint with the egg and coat in the seasoned flour. Do all this the night before if...

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me….

… a plate of goat’s cheese and onion marmalade canapes. Admittedly that doesn’t scan as well as two turtle doves but I can assure you it will taste much nicer, unless you’re a cat. In which case GET OFF THE INTERNET AND CATCH SOME MICE. Honestly. Nonetheless I hope you appreciate the sentiment. So it is the second day of our recipe-festooned version of the 12 days of Christmas and I present to you a mouth-sized morsel perfect for drinks parties and a good way to sop up all that alcohol swilling in your tummy. Croustades are little crispy things that look like mini bowls and can be filled just as easily. Obvious combinations are Philadelphia, a sliver of smoked salmon and a smattering of dill, pate with a slice of gherkin plonked on top or sour cream and gravadlax. You get the picture. My favourite combination in winter is baked goat’s cheese and onion marmalade because when it’s this freezing outside you need something to warm your cockles. Just fill the bottom of the croustade (about halfway up) with onion marmalade and then top it with a pound-sized coin piece of goat’s cheese before baking at 180c for 10 minutes and that is it… Bob’s your uncle. For unsophisticated children (by which I mean mine) substitute the onion marmalade with some ham and grate some cheddar on top. My girls enjoy both making and eating these by the...

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