5 minute recipes

Meals in 5 minutes – banana ice cream

When we started this blog (five years ago!) it was with one aim in mind. To discover fast recipes which were delicious, healthy and easy. If there is one recipe which typifies this remit it is this banana ice cream recipe.

Snowman – in a jar!

Your first response could well be ‘Why?’ and I wouldn’t judge you for it. Why imprison a snowman in a glass jar?

Bonfire bread (dampers)

Have you got your pumpkins? Are they sitting on the side, slowly melting (like mine)? Or have you got busy with the scalpel and created your own personal work of art?

Fish with a pesto crust

This fast family friendly fish dish has earned itself in a place in the McDonald hall of culinary fame. My children both love it and it takes about 60 seconds for a very quick person to prepare. OK – about 2m really, I was just showing off. It can be made from stuff most of us have in our cupboards or freezer. The fish is a frozen fillet (I used cod. I always have a bag of cod fillets in the freezer. It is such a great way to buy fish – good value, fresh and they last for ages) and then you literally smear over a tbs pesto, a small handful of Parmesan and a larger handful of breadcrumbs, which you have already mixed in a bowl. Then pop the fillet on a lined baking sheet in an oven that has been pre-heated to 200c and roast until cooked all the way through – about 20m. I started cooking this because, bar fishfingers and prawns, my youngest wasn’t keen on fish, until a viewer on our YouTube channel (where we made a very short film about it) recommended this so thank...

Healthy snacks – roast chickpeas

So, we had our kitchen done. In fact it’s nearly a year since the whole nightmare began. And although I can’t say that I am yet really enjoying it (the stress and pain of a potentially dangerous water pump and boiler, electrics which can’t be signed off and some very expensive and badly sealed tiles are all giving me sleepless nights) there is one element that has been truly life-changing.
And that’s the island.

Fried gnocchi with chorizo

On Armistice Day my eldest woke me at 5 in the morning because she wanted to see the Remembrance poppies at the Tower of London. It was the final day the poppies would be there and as she was so keen to see them – and tbh so was I – we woke my youngest, they both slipped on their one-sies, me my tracksuit and we were in the car by 6AM! I know, crazy. When we arrived, there was hardly anyone there, the sun was rising over the Thames and its beauty rendered even my noisy pair  uncharacteristically speechless. All those poppies. 888, 246 of them. All those lives. We walked around the moat amongst the joggers, commuters and other early bird tourists and despite the bleary-eyes and the lack of coffee (me), we were glad we’d gone. But, after a day at work and school, come tea time, we were all tired and in need of carbs, but not a trip to the shops. The cupboard was empty bar some gnocchi and half a chorizo. So, I sliced the sausage and slow-fried it in olive oil, until it was red and the meat crispy. Then – controversially – instead of boiling the gnocchi, I fried them in the garlicky, oil until they were crispy and brown on the outside, but soft within. It’s a completely different dish to boiling them. Equally lovely, especially with a bit of basil and grated Parmesan thrown on. Like a squidgy mini roastie with none of the peeling or the waiting.  I am smitten. I love finding new ways to eat old favourites. For two you...

Hey pesto!

What craziness are we suggesting? Pesto made by your own fair hand? Have we gone mad? Why not just buy it, when it’s so delicious straight from the jar?

Crushed roast carrots with cumin and goat’s cheese

I know, I know, these carrots look too good to eat. But eat them I did in this delicious recipe from the Riverford Farm Cook Book. I ate at their restaurant in the South Hams in Devon in summer and odd though it may sound, the tasty and original way they cooked vegetables excited me. Really. Vegetables were not simply boiled or baked marginals making way for the meat star, but took centre stage in their own right. You almost didn’t need anything else. There was braised fennel, broad beans and bacon and a potato and mushroom gratin. All enthused with the holiday spirit when we got home we decided to experiment. We tried different ways of eating cauliflower other than with cheese (in soup, roasted!), to braise peas with chicken stock, lettuce and spring onions and best of all this carrot recipe. It is one of my new favourites and it is a great mid-week supper, not as a side dish but as the main event. It is dead easy to cook.   Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main Takes 5 mins to prep, 50 mins to cook 750g carrots 4 tbspns olive oil 2 tspns cumin seeds (dry-fried and then ground) 2 tbspns pine nuts (dry-fried) 100g goat’s cheese (I’ve also used Feta) 1 tbspn chopped mint (oregano or marjoram) good extra virgin olive oil for drizzling Scrub and trim the carrots, then cut in half lengthways. Roast them with the olive oil for 50 minutes at 180c. They should be tender, lightly browned and slightly caramelised. Mash them with a fork and mix...

Cucumber salad

Well sadly my great grow your own experiment was a disaster. The cucumber plants both shrivelled and died after about a week – almost as if they’d been poisoned – and after yielding one marrow, the courgette plants died too, after both stems rotted inexplicably. Maybe I just gave them too much love – aka water. Or maybe it was karma, for killing all snails within a 30cm radius. All hope hangs now on the tomatoes. But even they looked a bit wilty this morning, so are clearly feeling the pressure to perform. Pre-cucumber-geddon I’d planned to blog about what an underappreciated vegetable they are and how beautiful they taste when fresh from the garden. But alas the one pictured here, came from Tesco in the obligatory protective condom-like-thingy. But with a bit of jazzing up, you’d never have known it had started life in Letchworth and travelled on a lorry to Chiswick via who knows where. I ate it in a salad with an oriental dressing and a sprinkling of sesame seeds, the recipe is below, but I also like to eat them in sandwiches (white bread, crusts off, salted butter, cucumber sliced thin, seeds and skin removed) just to reinforce my Englishness. A friend swears by chilled cucumber soup (she peels them and purees with yoghurt and curry paste and serves cold). Serves: 4 as side dish, 2 as a light lunch Prep time: about 5 minutes 2 medium sized cucumbers (peeled and deseeded – simply cut in half, length-wise and scoop out seeds with a spoon) 1 teaspoon salt 2 tbsp sesame oil 2 tbsp rice...

Food in 5 – ham and potato salad

Claire suggested the idea of doing food in 5 on Monday in an email, which I have to confess I only skimmed before agreeing it was a great idea. Now under pressure to come up with something that either has five ingredients or takes just five minutes to cook, I admit I am struggling. Does a vodka and tonic count (vodka, tonic, ice, slice and, uh, a glass)? After all, as I limp towards the summer holidays, a liquid diet sounds appealing. But no, Claire chastised, it wouldn’t suffice. So tee-totallers rejoice – here instead is a ham and potato salad. One without mayonnaise but mustard and butter instead. For the purposes of this blog it has five ingredients, but it could just as easily have three. Serves: 4 for light lunch – 2 adults, 2 children Takes: 5 min prep, 20 mins cooking 20 small new potatoes (or Jersey Royals) – scrubbed and halved 300g shredded ham hock (you can buy this in small packs in most supermarkets chiller sections. I normally use three packs – so don’t get hung up on exact quantities) a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard a tablespoon of salted butter – ideally at room temp 200g sweetcorn (small tin) or frozen petit pois cooked   Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until a fork goes through them easily. Put them, whilst still hot, into a bowl with some butter (there should be enough to coat each potato) and the mustard (if you’re using – young children don’t seem to like it). Add the ham hock and either the peas or the sweetcorn, gently...

Food in 5 – homemade beans

This is my absolute fallback when it comes to empty cupboards/hungry children syndrome – something we have a lot in my house. My inability to have a fully stocked fridge at any time does test my family’s patience and my skills at whipping something out of nothing. But I like to think we are all the better for it. La la la laaaa. This dish is a combination of things I always have in my cupboard, but you can change and embellish it according to your own (probably much better stocked) kitchen. I use tinned beans; chickpeas, butter beans, haricot, whatever you’ve got is fine.You also need half an onion and a garlic clove, but frequently I only have one or the other and just use that. Today we had no normal onions so I used about 6 spring onions finely chopped. I generally have some herbs wilting somewhere, so use them for this. Although today I used some fine rosemary specimens from my garden. Ahh rosemary, the only herb it’s impossible to kill. Really, I’ve managed it with everything else, even mint. The cheese on top is cheddar, but this would be delicious with parmesan, delightful (but reviled by children) with blue cheese, and good with pretty much any other type. Add a tin of tomatoes and a splosh of balsamic vinegar/worcester sauce/daddy’s brown sauce and…well, yum. Homemade beans Serves: 1 adult and 2 children Start to finish: 5 mins Half an onion A clove of garlic Two glugs of olive oil 1 x 400ml tin of tomatoes 1 x 400ml tin of cooked beans – chick pea, haricot, butter bean,...

Tzatziki salmon pasta

I wish I could make the picture of this dish look nicer. And to be honest, it wouldn’t be hard. A few slices of cucumber, maybe a wedge of lemon. But, you see, I’m lazy. Which is why I make this dish. It’s a combination of three ingredients, pasta, some smoked salmon and, surprise surprise! a pot of tzatziki. If you upped the ingredient count to four you could include a squirt of lemon, which it really benefits from, but I’d run out when I made this. Even without the lemon my kids devour it, and so do I. With some fruit for pud I reckon it’s quite a healthy meal, and with the summer holidays coming up, and the endless lunches and teas they involve, it’s a good option. If you don’t have tzatziki, use Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche for a creamier dish. Claire Tzatziki salmon pasta Serves: one adult and two kids Start to finish: once the pasta has cooked, seconds 200g pasta 100g smoked salmon (I use sustainably sourced Sainsbury smoked salmon trimmings, which cost a £1) best part of a 170g tub of tzatziki Squirt of lemon Some sliced cucumber, to up the vegetable count Black pepper Cook the pasta. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Stir in the tzatziki, which forms a sauce with the reserved water. Snip up the salmon, stir the lot. Add a squeeze of lemon and black pepper. Ta...

Super-easy tarts

This is my second puff pastry tart in as many weeks, so I’m going to let you in to a secret. Puff pastry tarts are super-easy and always look fairly impressive. Well, I think so. It’s just a case of coming up with a few ingredients which go together, pictured I’ve got asparagus, sundried tomatoes, pesto and goats cheese. Stick them on some pastry and bob’s your uncle. Dinner or lunch in 5 minutes, plus 15 minutes in the oven. You can put anything on a tart, they’re very easy going; chutney, tomato and cheese is a good combo, feta, olives and parma ham is another, or spring onions, cheddar and ham for a more English take on the subject. A good melting cheese, mozarella, cheddar or roquefort always works well. There are lots of recipe ideas on the Jus-Rol website. What I thought I’d do in this post, rather than give a proper recipe, is give the basic premise, and then you can make this with whatever you have in the fridge rather than relying on a recipe. To roll or not to roll? I’ve bought both ready-rolled and unrolled and in my experience by the time you’ve made sufficient space on your kitchen surface, floured it, found the rolling pin, floured that, rolled out the pastry and then tidied the entire lot up, you may as well have started from scratch, well, nearly. Much easier to open a packet of ready-rolled, and lay it on top of a lightly floured baking tray. Open or closed tart? Puff pastry works really well flat on the base of a...

Leek tart

Spring has sprung and isn’t it glorious? With a weekend like this it’s hard to fight the urge to spring clean. Bedsheets hang from the washing line, the windows are open and a soft breeze blows through the house. Winter is finally over. As soon as the weather gets better I start planning picnics. Not complicated affairs which need forethought or planning. Rather, just lunches in the garden, tea by the sandpit, in the park. Not only do my children seem to crave being outside (the 18-month-old cries continuously indoors, and is only happy marching up and down the garden, or digging earthy mounds out of my flower beds with his hands), but a meal eaten outside is a meal which doesn’t take much cleaning up. Perfect. Puff pastry tarts can look quite impressive but require a tiny amount of work, and they work brilliantly as a picnic. Leave it in the baking tray you cooked it in, just cover with foil or put in a plastic bag, and stick it under the buggy. Meals on wheels. Leek tart Start to finish: 5 minutes prep, 15 mins in the oven Serves: 2 adults and 2 children 1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry (alway ready rolled, the other stuff takes too long faffing with flour and rolling pins) 4 medium/large leeks 40g butter sprinkling of thyme 70g cheese – I used cheddar, but you could use anything, goat’s cheese or stilton would be nice. Or use up the odds and ends you have in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C, 200 if you have a fan...

bangers & mash for tired people

Good for: your mid-week dinner. Kids would love it too, so put some paprika in it to keep them away. Is this the end of a long hard half-term? Or just the beginning? Either way, the chances are you’re knackered and I’m feeling your pain. My sister, on the other hand, has buggered off to Australia, so when she comes back in a couple of days, moaning about jetlag, no sympathy, ok? That same sister once told me she would only buy wine with a screw top. Her explanation was that at the end of a long day looking after 2 kids, she was too exhausted to spend extra energy locating a corkscrew or levering out a cork. At the time I didn’t get it, then along came child number 2… This is the recipe equivalent of the screw top. Bangers and mash for tired people. Forget about potato mashers (pots aren’t actually mashed), vegetable peelers (or peeled, ahem ), and definitely forget about washing up (this is a one pot wonder). Instead do the prep (5 mins, honest) when you can, during the day, or even in the morning before work (yeah, right) and then throw over the oil and pop it in the oven 40 mins before you want to eat. It’s a bastardised Bill Granger recipe. Serves: 2 Start to finish: 5 minutes prep, 30-40 minutes in the oven 3 nice sausages 400g potatoes, cleaned and cut into smallish wedges .75 tsp paprika 1 rosemary stalk salt & pepper 1/4 wholemeal loaf without crust 25ml olive oil basil Serve with some green stuff – savoy cabbage sauteed with garlic?  Preheat the oven to...

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