Don’t you hate it when you buy a new ingredient to use in a recipe only to end up with a big jar of ingredient cluttering your fridge? Me too.

I’m a little obsessive about keeping the random jars in my fridge to a minimum… Or at least keeping them ‘quarantined’ in the fridge door.

When I get a new ingredient, I go on a ‘mission’ to find ways to use it in other meals, easily, and with lots of tasty discoveries… my type of mission.

So when I got the following ‘request‘ from Beth last year, it reminded me that I had been neglecting a rather large tub of miso paste myself…

Hey! I was wondering if you had any dinner recipe ideas for Miso paste. I have tried putting it is a pot with tonnes of vegetables and making a stir fry, then serving it with some rice noodles – it is totally delicious. However I have had this meal a lot (and still have a giant pot of miso paste in my fridge), and I can’t think what else to do with it. Your recipes are always so creative and simple, I was wondering if you had any ideas?
Thanks, Beth

What is miso?

It’s a fermented paste made from soybeans. I read somewhere that miso and soy sauce were invented by Japanese monks to add savoury (also called ‘umami’) flavours to vegetarian food. So it’s a super useful ingredient for adding loads of flavour.

7 Delicious Ideas for Miso Paste

1. Salad dressings.
Miso adds a lovely savoury complexity to a vinaigrette. For a salad for two, whisk together 1 tablespoon sherry or wine vinegar, 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 scant teaspoon of miso paste. Or try the recipe below!

2. Onions for burgers.
A super tasty way to take your burgers to the next level. I pinched this idea from fab Sydney chef Dan Hong.

Cook your onions in a little butter until soft then remove from the heat and stir in a little miso to season. About a teaspoon or 2 is usually enough… Let your tastebuds guide you.

3. Main course soup.
Miso soup is probably the first thing you think of when it comes to miso. The traditional form is a light broth usually with some seaweed and a few cubes of tofu. But miso soups can also be lovely meals in their own right…

Heat 3 cups stock to a simmer then stir in 1-2 tablespoons white miso. Then add veg, protein and/or noodles to make it more substantial. Enough for 2.

4. In marinades.
To get all those savoury flavours really embedded, use miso in a marinade. Don’t feel like this needs to be an overnight affair. Even 5 minutes can make a difference.

A good place to start is to combine 6 tablespoons white wine or mirin or Chinese Shaoxing wine with 2 tablespoons miso. Marinate enough chicken, beef or lamb for 2 people. Pan fry it or BBQ.

5. As a seasoning alternative to salt or soy sauce.
Because miso is salty it can be a great way to season and add even more flavour than you’d get from just salt.

6. In a sauce to serve with pan fried meat or fish.
I got this idea from Nigel Slater’s latest (brilliant) book called Eat. Cook the meat or fish in a little oil. Remove the pan from the heat and place protein on serving plates to rest. Stir in a tablespoon of wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons white miso and a tablespoon of hot water in with the pan juices and drizzle over your meat / fish to serve.

7. In stir frys.
As Beth mentioned, miso is super tasty in stir frys. Because it’s a bit of a delicate flower, best to cook your stir fry and remove from the heat before adding the miso.

Which miso should I buy?

There are loads of different types and to be honest I haven’t tried them all. I find that the paler the colour, the milder the flavour so I usually buy the whitest one. Also called ‘Shiro’ miso. But any miso can be used in the ideas above, you just may need less if using a darker or red paste.

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corn & miso salad-2

Corn & Miso Salad

If you’re in Oz, make sure you make this before corn season ends! It’s lovely on its own but also super tasty as a side to some BBQ salmon or other fish. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, frozen corn will also work but you may need a little more miso to tone down that super sweetness.

Inspired by the Lovely Emma Knowles from my favourite food mag – Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Enough for: 4 as a side
Takes: 30-40 minutes

3 cobs corn
1 bunch radishes
2 tablespoons miso, preferably white
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon tahini
1 bunch coriander (cilantro), torn

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Pop unpeeled corn on a tray and bake whole for 20-30 minutes or until corn kernels are hot and cooked.

2. While the corn is cooling, scrub radishes and finely slice into coin shapes using a mandoline if you have one or a sharp knife and a steady hand.

3. Mix miso, vinegar, tahini and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl. Taste and season with salt or extra miso as needed.

4. When the corn is cool enough to touch, peel away the husks and ribbony silks. Cut kernels from the cob and toss in the dressing. Discard the husks.

5. Toss in the radishes and serve with coriander on top.

Variations

different vinegar – use sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar. Apple cider vinegar will also work.

frozen corn – pan fry about 2.5 cups corn kernels in a little butter until warm then toss into the dressing.

different veg – frozen peas or broad beans will also work. Sliced snow peas make a crunchy alternative to the radishes.

carnivore – toss in some crunchy bacon or serve with roast or grilled chicken.

different herbs – if you hate coriander try mint, basil or flat leaf parsley or any combo of these.

more substantial – you could toss in some cooked noodles to make it more of a meal or try adding some steamed basmati or brown rice or cooked quinoa.

no tahini – you could use almond butter or another nut butter or leave it out of the dressing and serve the salad sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Big love,
Jules x

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Have you ever ended up with lots of odds and ends of leftover wine and thought to yourself ‘I really should make some vinegar?’

Well until recently, I hadn’t either. I was happy keeping our little leftovers in the pantry to use in risottos and stews.

I think my lack of enthusiasm for home made vinegar stemmed from the fact that back in my wine making days, one of our biggest fears was accidentally turning a barrel of delicious wine into vinegar.

But when I was pregnant and there was only one wine drinker left in the house, we started to accumulate a reasonable stash of ‘cooking wine’ that was too past it to drink. And since I didn’t have a barrel shed of wine to risk spoiling, why not give home made vinegar a try?

And so I did.

It took a while but most of that time I had forgotten about my vinegar project until last year when we were moving house. Without much hope, I took a tiny sample from my jar to taste.

What a surprise!

Delicious, winey and vinegary – in a good way. More along the lines of sherry vinegar (which I adore) rather than commercial red wine vinegar (which I find way too harsh).

It’s now my favourite vinegar. And I’m actually finding myself happy not to finish the bottle at the end of the evening and save the leftovers for my vinegar stash.

So making vinegar can be good for ones liver as well! Who would have thought?

vinegar

Wine Vinegar

I’m giving you a recipe here but really it’s just a rough suggestion to get you going. This isn’t the only way so I really encourage you to experiment and do whatever works for you. Remember the acetic acid bacteria naturally want to do their job so you have nature on your side.

If you’re not a wine drinker you could buy some wine for the sole purpose of making the vinegar. Since we’re going to be oxidizing the wine and basically spoiling it, no need to get anything fancy.

makes: 1 bottle
takes: about 6 months

wine
1 large bottle or jar to store

1. Collect your wine. It’s fine to just designate a bottle and pour your leftovers in as they accumulate over the weeks or months. I think a mix of white, red and champagne makes things more interesting but just one type will still be amazing. The more air that goes into it the better so feel free to shake it as often as you think about it. I keep a lid on so I don’t end up with any flies. But keeping it open to the air with a cloth on top will speed things along.

2. When you’d got enough wine to fill your chosen storage bottle or jar about 3/4s full, it’s time to get serious!

3. The aim is to add enough air to the wine to ‘use up’ any sulfur dioxide remaining in the wine because this preservative will prevent our acetic acid bacteria from doing their job of turning the alcohol into vinegar (acetic acid). The best way to do this is to pour the wine from one vessel to another as many times as your patience allows. A funnel or a jug can make things easier but you could just use two wine bottles.

4. When you’ve had enough (try to do at least 5 pours), pour the wine into your large jar or bottle (the wider the neck the better for air transfer). Cover with some cloth or something that will keep flies out but allow air in.

5. Leave in a dark place until it tastes like vinegar. You can stir every few months (or transfer it out of the jar and back again a few times) to add more air and speed things along if you think about it. Or just do what I did and completely forget about it for 6 months.

6. When you’re happy with the flavour, transfer most of the vinegar to a clean bottle with a lid and start using it! I like to keep some to ‘seed’ my next vinegar batch.

Video Version of the Recipe

Watch on YouTube

Variations

different alcohol – technically you can make vinegar from anything that contains alcohol such as beer or cider and the method is pretty much the same. The only thing is with high alcohol beverages like vodka, you would need to dilute to get the alcohol content below about 15% because otherwise the bacteria won’t be able to grow.

wine aerator – if you have one of those wine aerators like I do, they are great for helping to get the air into your wine. And the more air, the quicker you get rid of your sulphur and the quicker your acetic acid bacteria can grow. See the video for a demo of mine.

faster – the best way to speed up the bacteria is to get more air into the wine. Warmer temperatures will also help.

using a mother – The first time I made vinegar I just used wine, so no mother like I’ve described above. But using a ‘starter’ or a vinegar that has little floaty bits in it, also called the ‘mother’ to ‘seed’ your new batch of vinegar can help get things happening quicker…

organic – if you use organic or low sulphur wine, you won’t need to aerate as much. But you can’t really over-aerate so err on the side of more.

What do you think?

Did you enjoy this post about making vinegar? Would you like to see more on home made ingredients or do you prefer recipes for meals? I’d really love to know what you think so please share your thoughts in the comments below.

And while I’ve got you, I recently completed another menu in the ‘Jules & David Project‘. You can read all about ‘Menu Nine: Yellow Hunger’ over here.

Big love,
Jules x

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So I’m going to let you in on a little secret… Before I started Soupstones, my done-for-you meal planning service, I thought there was absolutely no way I would enjoy following a meal plan.

You see, I like to think of myself as a ‘free spirit’, someone who hates being told what to do. I was worried about stifling my creativity.

But you know what?

Over the last year I’ve found myself following my meal plans more and more.

The thing I love about the weeks when I use Soupstones meal plans is that I don’t have to think. I just download the plan, buy what’s on the shopping list. And then walk into the kitchen each night and cook. It really is so easy (if I do say so myself!)

Anyway over the last few weeks I’ve been spending a lot of time on the phone and skype talking to the wonderful people from around the world who have been using the meal plans.

My main aim was to find improvements. But I’ve also been hearing how the meal plans are helping people.

There were the things you’d expect to hear like…

“I’m saving money because I’m only buying what we need”

“We’re eating so many more home cooked meals”

“I’m wasting so much less because I actually use the ingredients I buy”

“Everything is so quick and easy to prepare”

“I’m eating much more healthfully”

“We’re trying new and tasty recipes all the time. It’s helped me break out of my food rut!”

But there were a few surprises too!

2 Surprising benefits of using a meal plan

1. Better tasting meals.

I’m a food lover. The most important thing for me is that my recipes taste good.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that many people mentioned their meals have been tastier and getting more compliments since joining Soupstones. But I was surprised. And very happy at the same time!

2. Learning how to substitute ingredients.

As with all the recipes here on my blog, the meal plans include options to help you customize the meals to suit your tastes and dietary requirements. There’s a side benefit to this…

The variations have actually taught people how to substitute ingredients and given them confidence to go ‘off the recipe’ when they want to. I really wasn’t expecting this but how cool is that?

Want to know how it works?

There’s a ‘how it works’ video tour (you’ll need to scroll down a bit) along with all the details about the meal plans on my website over here:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

And as I mentioned last week, I’m having a 1st a Birthday Sale on monthly membership. To lock in the 50% off price for as long as you are a member you’ll need to be quick!

The sale ends in less than 48 hours!

To make sure you don’t miss out go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

UPDATE: THE SALE IS NOW OVER
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baked lentilotto-2

Baked ‘Lentilotto’

I’ve been a fan of using red lentils to make a healthier and much easier (hello no constant stirring!) spin on risotto for a few years now. Normally I just cook on the stove top, stirring from time to time, but I recently had the (I like to think) brilliant idea of doing a baked version with no stirring at all. It takes a few minutes longer to cook but it is just as oozy and comforting AND you can pretty much forget about it while it cooks itself. Winner!

This is my basic or ‘template’ recipe. Feel free to add whatever other ingredients you feel like. Anything that would work in a risotto is a great place to start. Although I am a huge fan of this super simple version.

enough for: 2
takes: 25 minutes

1 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken or veg stock
200g (7oz) red lentils
2 handfuls grated parmesan

1. Heat an oven proof pot on the stove top and preheat your oven to 200C (400F).

2. Add butter and onion and cook stirring every now and then until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the stock and lentils. Season and cover with a lid or some foil. Bake for 15 minutes or until the lentils are super soft.

4. Stir in the parmesan and serve with a green salad on the side.

Variations

dairy-free / vegan - use olive oil instead of the butter and replace parmesan with some finely grated brazil nuts. Or just serve with some extra olive oil drizzled over for richness.

herby – add a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary or sage in with the onions.

mushroom – brown some chopped mushrooms in with the onion.

no oven – just simmer the lentils in the stock on the stove top stirring every few minutes. Add an extra 1/2 cup of stock or more because you’re going to get much more evaporation with the pot uncovered.

carnivore – brown some crumbled sausages, bacon or sliced chorizo in the pan after cooking the onions.

more veg – add chopped carrot and celery with the onion. And feel free to stir in your favourite cooked veg before serving.

Thank you so much for reading! I really appreciate you taking the time to drop by.

With big love,
Jules x

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ps. Not sure if meal plans would work for you?

Here’s what Marjorie said about her experience:

“I’ve subscribed to the Soupstone meal plans for a few months. It took me a bit to get going on it, but when I made a leap and just went and shopped from your list — Voila! It was marvelous. I made everything like you said, even if I thought, we are not going to like this recipe. It’s pretty amazing, but my husband and I have liked every single meal. I’ve heard him talk about Soupstones Meal Plans to people and he says, You read the recipe and you doubt it’s going to taste good — but it ALWAYS does! He gets very excited now to see what’s in store for the week.”
Marjorie, Soupstones Member.

The 50% OFF sale ENDS in less than 48 HOURS!.

To make sure you don’t miss out use the link below:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

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This time last year I did something I wasn’t sure would work.

It all started when my friend Caroline was telling me about her experience with one of those weight loss programs that comes with an exercise schedule and detailed meal plans.

With her new, more slender figure Caroline was looking amazing.

What surprised me was her insistence that the thing she had found most helpful was the meal plans. They made it so easy to eat really healthfully day in and day out.

Each week she’d print out the shopping list and buy what was on it. Or better yet, get her husband to do the shopping.

Then at meal times she’d walk into the kitchen, look at her notes and just start cooking. No having to ‘think’ at the end of a long day.

She told me,

“Jules you really should offer a meal planning service. Some of the recipes in the plan I was following were pretty time consuming. It would be even better to have healthy meal plans using your quick, easy Stonesoup recipes.”

That got me thinking. I wasn’t sure it would work.

But I decided to give it a shot. So this time last year, ‘Soupstones Meal Plans’ was born.

Since then there have been 917 people who have used the meal plans to eat well and be well.

And today I wanted to share the stories of how Soupstones has helped change the lives of some of its members…

Daunine, Soupstones Meal Plans Member.

Daunine lives in the US and has a family of 4 to cook for. Here’s how her life has changed since joining Soupstones Meal Plans…

Daunine, Soupstones Member.
Daunine loves the variations included for the meal plans and recipes. She loves that the meal plans focus on whole foods and ingredients she can get at the store. Since starting to use the meal plans Daunine only does one shop a week so she’s saving time.

She also finds that she’s saving money because she’s not running to the store as often and she’s wasting less because she is using what she buys. Both Daunine and her husband are food lovers and they often find themselves saying ‘I can’t believe how good this is and it’s only got a few ingredients. It’s amazing that it’s so simple and so good!

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Crystal, Soupstones Meal Plans Member.

Crystal is a Canadian living in Colombia. Here’s how her life has changed since joining Soupstones Meal Plans…

Crystal, Soupstones Member.
It was so revolutionary for me as a cook. I could not boil water, and now I make all three meals for my boyfriend and me, with confidence. I actually, GASP, go off the recipe and add my own flair with what I have in my fridge or my spice rack… something that I could have never done without your meal plans holding my hand and helping me through the hard stuff – decision making. Fun bonus, all the recipes are delish!”

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Nyssa, Soupstones Meal Plans Member.

Nyssa is a student living in Melbourne. Here’s how her life has changed since joining Soupstones Meal Plans…

Nyssa, Soupstones Member.
Nyssa is in remission for an eating disorder and was encouraged by her dietician to try out Soupstones meal plans. She was hesitant at first but she loves fresh healthy food so she decided to give it a try. Before using the meal plans Nyssa had a lot of anxiety about shopping for food so she found herself eating out or relying on meal replacement smoothies. Now she finds the Soupstones shopping list fantastic for getting her shopping done quickly without fuss. She’s eating at home much more and usually uses the second serving of each meal for lunch at uni the next day.

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Sherrill, Soupstones Meal Plans Member.

Sherrill recently turned 65 and moved from New York to Philadelphia. Here’s how her life has changed since joining Soupstones Meal Plans…

Sherrill, Soupstones Member.
“My “relationship” with Jules Clancy and Soupstones is as old as Soupstones…one year.

Prior to joining Soupstones I had determined that …once again… something needed to be done about my weight. Other than chubby, I’m quite healthy with much thanks given to the genetics that have pretty much overridden my self-abuse. And, seeing as how I recently became a member of the 65-year old community, figured this is a last hurrah to really enjoy feeling, being and looking well.

Intrigued by Soupstones and Jules’s ever-growing, non-preachy beliefs about eating [honey IS good], I initially purchased one of her e-cookbooks, eventually becoming a member of the Weekly Meal Plan “club”. Jules’s recipes, philosophy, research, weekly e-mails and general chattiness continually feed and stoke the fires of my becoming more mindful, educated/questioning and cooking creatively.

In addition, shopping with the Meal Plan lists makes cooking sooooo much easier while at the same time helping cut food and money waste way back. As a single person, I am particularly happy to move from the 20-ingredient, calorie-laden, 4-to-6 servings meal to a 5-items-or less, healthy plant-based meal for two. Having always considered myself to be a good food eater [while eating too much of that good thing!] even some of the small changes [Cauliflower Rice or Zucchini Pasta] are really satisfying substitutes.

Combining Soupstones Meal Plans and Recipes with a new, regular exercise program has had the extra added benefit of making me even healthier — and 25 pounds [1.78 stone] lighter!!! Happy Birthday Soupstones!!!”

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Sound like something you’d like to try? Well now is a brilliant time to join!

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The Soupstones 1st Birthday SALE!


To celebrate this big milestone, I’m having a quick 50% OFF sale on Soupstones monthly membership.

This the first sale on Soupstones membership in almost 6 months. It’s only for a very LIMITED TIME.

For all the details go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

UPDATE: The Sale is NOW OVER.

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spanish meatballs-2

Spanish Meatballs with Zucchini ‘Noodles’

I’m a big fan of meatballs in all their forms but my favourites are ones like these that you pop in the oven to bake in their sauce because they’re super low maintenance and you can do other things while dinner is cooking itself. If you don’t have an oven, they can easily be simmered on the stove top, you’ll just need to be prepared to stir more frequently.

enough for: 2-3
takes: 30-40 minutes

1 jar tomato passata or puree (700g / 24oz / 2.5 cups) 
1 red capsicum (bell pepper), chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
450g (1lb) chicken mince
150g (5oz) almond meal
2-3 small zucchini
ricotta, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Place tomato passata, capsicum, butter and paprika in a baking dish and pop in the oven to get cooking.

2. While the sauce is warming, combine chicken and almond in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and form into your preferred meatball size. Smaller ones take longer to make but will cook quicker!

3. Add the balls to the sauce and return to the oven uncovered for 15 minutes.

4. Turn and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.

5. While the meatballs are cooking, slice zucchini into fine ribbons using a mandoline or vegetable peeler. Stack them up and slice into linguine shaped ‘noodles’ with a knife. Pop in a strainer and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and allow to stand for 10 minutes or so.

6. When the meatballs are cooked. Rinse the salt from the zucchini and pat dry with paper towel. Serve meatballs and sauce on a bed of the raw zucchini ‘noodles’ with a dollop of ricotta on top.

Variations

vegetarian – use the recipe for these lentil balls to replace the chicken and almond meal.

vegan – replace chicken and almond meal with 2 drained cans of chickpeas. Simmer the chickpeas in the sauce until hot. Serve chickpeas and sauce with the zucchini noodles and replace ricotta with roasted sliced almonds or pine nuts.

dairy-free – replace ricotta with roasted sliced almonds or pine nuts.

carb-lovers / more substantial – serve with steamed rice, cooked couscous or cooked quinoa. Or some crusty bread and butter.

more veg – feel free to add more than just the capsicum (bell pepper) to the sauce. Mushrooms, onion, diced eggplant, sweet potato or even frozen peas will all work, you may need to adjust the cooking time to get the veg cooked through.

not-spanish – skip the capsicum and smoked paprika.

italian meatballs – skip the smoked paprika and serve with grated parmesan and basil instead of the ricotta.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. Not sure if you would enjoy following a meal plan?

Here’s what Dyann said about her experience:

“I am so glad I signed up for this, but I think my husband is even happier! Every night I’m hearing comments like, “I have been eating so good lately,” “This tastes like it came from a [Thai, Indian, etc] restaurant!” “That looks like a picture in a magazine” and “The house smells soooo gooooood.”
Dyann, Soupstones Member.

For more details use the link below:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/soupstones/

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Now that I have a toddler in the house, I’m very well acquainted with the degree of difficulty involved with getting said toddler to eat anything green.

Fortunately Fergal loves peas, so I always keep our freezer well stocked. But there are only so many times you can serve up peas each week. So I’ve been on the lookout for a Fergal-friendly green veg alternative.

And I’ve found a real beauty!

Yep. Edamame are our new family favourite veg.

What are edamame?

Basically they’re fresh soy beans still in their pod. I always have some when I go to Japanese restaurants. They’re usually served in their pods and you just pop out the little beans inside and discard the pods.

They’re a vibrant bright green and have a lovely sweet, mild fresh beany flavour. Fergal loves them and so do my Irishman and I. So they’re definitely for adults too!

Where can I get them?

Try your supermarket freezer near the frozen pea section. My local supermarket stocks them but it’s pretty large. The next best place to look would be an Asian or Japanese grocery store.

What can I substitute if I can’t find them?

Frozen peas or broad beans would be the closet thing. Or I guess fresh snow peas or sugar snap peas where you eat the pod as well.

Are frozen veg as good for you as fresh?

Absolutely! Freezing is pretty good for keeping most of the nutrients intact. I’ve even seen studies where the nutritional content of frozen veg was better than unfrozen veg that was getting on the ‘old’ side.

What about you?

What’s your favourite frozen veg? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

parmesan edamame-3

Parmesan Edamame

This is really more of an idea than an actual recipe. I usually make these for Fergal (and me!) to snack on while I get dinner ready.

Enough for: 1-2 as a snack
Takes: 5 minutes

1-2 handfuls frozen edamame
1 handful grated parmesan

1. Bring a small pot of water to the boil (I usually use the kettle).

2. Add edamame straight from the freezer. Simmer for 2 minutes.

3. Drain and pop in a serving dish (if you want them to cool down quickly for small hungry mouths run under the cold tap for a bit).

4. Remove edamame from their pods and discard pods. Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy!

Variations

different veg / no edamame - broad beans are great (remove from the pods, simmer 2 mins and peel papery skins before eating). Or try parmesan peas (I just heat in a pan with a little butter until no longer frozen).

dairy-free / vegan – serve edamame with sea salt flakes instead of the parmesan.

more substantial – you can use the podded edamame anywhere you’d normally use frozen peas such as in soups or salads or fried rice. But since they’re a bit labour intensive I just stick to using them as a snack.

herby - add a few torn mint or basil leaves.

short on attention span – I often just cover the frozen edamame with boiling water from the kettle and leave to stand while I do other things.

More Stonesoup:

For the next update in the Jules & David project:
Menu 8. Slightly All-American

And on ‘The Yellow Bench’ What I Eat, by Fergal 18 months old.

With love,
Jules x

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About this time two years ago my Irishman and I had a lovely holiday in Sydney staying in our friends Walsh Bay apartment with killer views of the Sydney harbour bridge.

One night we had an especially delicious dinner at Mr Wong. A seriously great Chinese restaurant in the CBD.

To cut a long story short, My Irishman was blown away by their Kung Pao Chicken.

As soon as we were home, he was in the kitchen trying to replicate Mr Wong’s KPC.

Now my Irishman is pretty handy in the kitchen but he doesn’t cook that often because I tend to hog the stove.

I love to be cooked for as much as the next girl, so I was thrilled to be the ‘guinea pig’ for his experiments.

Months later, when KPC was still on high rotation, I wasn’t quite so appreciative of being cooked for. So I took matters into my own hands and sent an email to Australian Gourmet Traveller, my favourite food magazine. I explained my predicament and asked if they could request the recipe from the chef.

A few months later my prayers were answered.

We had the official recipe! My Irishman was finally happy with his kung pao efforts. Life was good.

I’ve been wanting to tell you this story for a while now but I figured it needed a fitting occasion. And this week we have such an event!

This Friday my Irishman, aka GB, turns 40. So to celebrate I have the recipe for my (simple) version of kung pao chicken below plus a little sale…

The GB40 Sale!

GB40 sale new

When I was trying to decide how to celebrate such a milestone occasion, it didn’t take me long to figure it out.

I only have one product priced in the $40s… The ebook bundle deal where you can save $10 if you buy ‘The Tired & Hungry Cooks Companion’ and ‘Healthy & Tasty’ together.

Normally it’s $44 but for the next 40 hours you can get it for an extra 40% OFF!

To make sure you don’t miss out on the 40-hour 40% OFF price go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/bundle/

The sale is strictly limited to 40 hours, so don’t delay!

UPDATE: THE SALE IS NOW OVER.

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kung pao chicken

My Simple Kung Pao


There have been many dinner table discussions at out house on which ingredients could be left out of kung pao. I must point out that this is my simple interpretation and if my Irishman was cooking, he would stick to the original Mr Wong recipe.

Chinese black ‘Chinkiang’ vinegar is a really lovely ingredient but if you don’t have it already, use rice vinegar, sherry or red wine vinegar instead. It’s not worth buying a bottle especially for this recipe.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes + marinating

450g (1lb) chicken
1 tablespoon soy sauce + 2 tablespoons for sauce
4-6 fresh or dried red chillies 
1 tablespoon Chinkiang black vinegar
2 green onions (scallions), chopped
steamed rice or cauliflower ‘rice’, to serve

 
1. Slice chicken into bite sized strips and place in a bowl with 1 tablespoon soy. Cover and stand for a few minutes or if possible refrigerate for a few hours but no longer than 24.

2. Heat a little oil in a frying pan or wok. Add half the chicken and cook, stirring until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Place cooked chicken in a clean bowl and add the remaining chicken and the chilli. Continue to stir fry

3. When the second batch of chicken is browned and cooked through. Return the first batch of chicken to the pan. Stir.

4. Remove from the heat and add the additional 2 tablespoons soy sauce and the vinegar and stir well. Taste and add more soy or vinegar if you think it needs it.

5. Serve chicken on a bed of rice (or cauliflower ‘rice’ – raw cauliflower grated in the food processor) with green onions sprinkled on top.

Variations

optional extras – handful roast peanuts, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper, 1 teaspoon sugar to marinate the chicken and another to finish the sauce.

vegetarian / vegan – replace chicken with firm tofu or use diced eggplant (add a little water and allow extra time for the eggplant to cook).

more veg – serve with steamed or stir fried Asian greens such as bok choy or Chinese broccoli on the side. I usually dress the greens with a little sesame oil. Steamed broccoli or broccolini is another lovely accompaniment. Or in Spring time consider asaparagus.

no Chinkiang vinegar – use rice vinegar, sherry or red wine vinegar instead. It’s not worth buying a bottle especially for this recipe unless you are a vinegar-ophile like me and are keen to add something new to your collection.

less hot – 6 chillies should make it pretty punchy, like ‘pao’! If you prefer less heat, use less chillies and remove the seeds. Or just skip the chilli.

With love,
Jules x

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