I know, I know. Pause. I can just see you rolling your eyes at me right now, but I just can’t help it. Yes. This is another banana loaf/bread* recipe. Listen, it’s getting warmer now and I feel my baking days for this Spring/Summer are on their last leg. I’m not really looking forward to that, but one of the joys of this blog is for me to have a record of what I made throughout these past 6 years. Woah…6 years? Yes, and a few months. I can’t believe how much C&T helped me, changed me and taught me.
I cannot tell you how easy this is to make. I will not even call it a recipe, because frankly it’s not. One morning I needed some cheering up. It was raining
of course and I, like everyone else on this little island, was having a bad day. The rain would not stop. The town centre was completely flooded. After a while I stopped reading the papers; I just couldn’t take any more bad news. Thankfully, fingers crossed, the rain has now stopped and Spring is almost here. You can imagine the joy!
There are times when my to-do list gets so long (it’s sickening really) that even the kitchen becomes my enemy! It doesn’t happen that often but when it does and I want to eat, I make something simple, quick, with extra for leftovers and good all in one. There are plenty of recipes out there which will give you all of this, and more. But when I’m really pressed for time I opt for rice. I prefer rice over pasta generally because I find it lighter, and the fewer the ingredients the better. It’s wierd I know, especially because when making a stir-fry I go for whatever-I-can-raid-from-the-fridge kind of cooking! But for a salad I go the other way. I cook the rice as usual. Then in a large mixing bowl I throw in beans, spring onions, a yellow pepper, extra virgin olive oil and some fresh chopped parsley. A bit of salt and pepper, mix mix mix and it’s ready. Eight ounces of rice will give you plenty for 2 people.
My idea of a lovely evening would be inviting some friends over for a simple supper, which I can prepare in less than 30 minutes – in less than 10 preferably! I love my kitchen and spend days and days cooking and baking but I do get tired sometimes. So anything that can help me prepare an informal party in no time for and with the people I love spending time the most is always welcome in my book. It takes away the stress and panic, and I think that the simplest meals can be the best meals. These fajitas also take away the assemblage, which in this case is done by others! All you have to do is some prepping – cooking the meat in minutes in a pan and chopping the veggies. Easy stuff.
You can make these fajitas with chicken or beef, or any mixture of veggies you like. If you’re using any kind of meat, the trick is to marinate it well ahead of time to make it moist and tender. Who would want a dry fajita anyway? I had one once and it was stringy and chewy. Not nice. I made this some weeks ago after a very full day when I really didn’t want to spend more time in the kitchen than I had to. There was a little planning beforehand, nothing big – I knew I wanted to cook something quick, simple, and without too much work.
So I bought some rump, cut it into thick strips when I got home and marinated all of it for a couple of hours in the fridge. I then shallow-fried it and left it in the pan till it cooked to medium/rare, keeping an eye on it, as always. You don’t even need any oil if that’s what you prefer, especially if you use a non-stick pan – the marinade has plenty of moisture anyway. But I don’t like burnt meat, so this time I played it safe. All you have to do then is to chop a red pepper, throw in a yellow pepper for luck, dice one or two fresh tomatoes. Place these in individual serving bowls, together with a packet of ready washed rockets leaves and you’re done. Place everything on a corn tortilla, wrap it up and eat. For something extra you can serve it with cornbread for a meze style meal. Perfect for summer. The following is what you need for the marinade:
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed or very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small cubes or crystallized ginger (or ¼ teaspoon ginger powder)
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cold water
Place the meat in a bowl and pour the marinade over it. Mix it well, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge for an hour or two or until needed. Cook and serve on corn tortillas with greens and other vegetables. Easy!
I can understand the urge to grab a quick takeaway on your way home from a tiring day at work. But think about it, you don’t know what really went into it. Arguably one of the most convenient “kind-of-ready-made” food is pasta. Who doesn’t have a packet of pasta lying around in the cupboard right now? So let me give you a couple of ideas which work for me when I’m in a I’m-hungry-NOW mood.
One thing which I am really loving right now is pappardelle. They are so good for lapping up any kind of sauce. They also offer some variety on a plate, unlike the usual spaghetti. I like any flat pasta – be it linguine, tagliatelle, fettucine, mafaldine etc. They tick all the hunger boxes for me. I have to admit it though: there are few things in life better than spaghetti carbonara, but obviously, take it slow with that!
But how about a nice summery pasta concoction washed down with a fresh white glass of vino? Ahh I have dreams about that – me, in a summer garden calmly *cough* wolfing down a lovely biggish bowl of pasta with fresh vegetables with a prawn or two thrown in, at least for those who love them like I do. If you don’t then leave them out and substitute them with either a light meat option like leftover chicken or turkey that was already cooked, or another vegetable. It’s your pasta, you’re the cook so do whatever you like. That’s freedom! There will be no exact quantities for this. Let this be your guide and go with whatever your gut tells you (excuse the pun).
Pasta with Prawn and Fresh Tomatoes (For 4).
- 500g fresh or dried pappardelle
- 1 tablespoon or so mild olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 150g small plum or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 6 large chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters
- 100g or so shrimps or 8 uncooked prawns, de-veined
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. In the meantime gently fry the onion, garlic and chilli flakes in the olive oil for a couple of minutes.
- Quickly add the plum tomatoes and the mushrooms. I like everything to be al dente, so throw in the prawns, leave until they turn pink and toss everything with the pasta. Serve instantly with a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil (now you can since here it only serves as a dressing), freshly ground pepper and some fresh lemon juice. Ready? Now let’s eat!
For a vegetarian option try the following:
While the pasta is cooking, gently fry in olive oil some chopped onion, finely chopped garlic, chilli flakes in a hot pan. Throw in some chopped zucchini (courgettes) and mushrooms. When cooked through but still firm, add some chopped fresh tomatoes and there you have it. Toss with the pasta, serve as the recipe above and go eat this in the garden. Bliss!