Asian Style Egg Fried Rice

This is still a recipe under development, so feel free to experiment.

Absolute necessities
Cold, cooked rice (about 1/2 cup per person i.e. 1 cup uncooked rice to feed 4-5 people)
Spring onions (2 per person)
Cooking oil
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Garlic (at least one clove)
Eggs (1-2 per person)
Salt, pepper

To this I add
Carrot or Sweetcorn – about 1/4 carrot finely chopped or the equivalent amount of sweetcorn
Onion – about 1/4 onion per person
Ginger (fresh) – about 1/2 tsp chopped per 4 portions i.e. just a little taste


First, prepare the rice

Cook the rice and spread it out on a baking sheet to cool and dry. If you have leftover rice from the night before, that’s the best option – and white or brown doesn’t matter.

Then, prepare the ingredients

Finely chop the onion and put it in a container
Finely chop the carrot, spring onions, garlic & ginger and put all that in another container along with the sweetcorn if using
Whisk the eggs along with a little water as if you were going to make scrambled eggs
Add salt to both the eggs and the veggie mixture (I add about 1/4 tsp to each when making 4 portions

Now you can start cooking

Preheat a wok or large pan over a medium-high heat.
Add 1 tbsp cooking oil and fry the chopped onion , stirring all the time, until translucent. If it starts going dark brown (or burning) turn the heat down!
Add the rest of the chopped veggies and continue to fry until they are no longer raw but the carrots still have some bite.
Put the veggies back into one of the bowls you were using.
Add a little more oil to the pan, and pour in the eggs. Scramble them until they are about 3/4 cooked then dump in the rice and stir it around to mix it with the egg.
Continue mixing until the rice is heated through, adding more oil if it sticks too much.

Measure out 1 tbs sesame oil and pour it around the edge of the pan, followed by 1tbs soy sauce.
Mix this all thoroughly into the rice and egg mixture.
Add pepper if you like it.

Add the vegetables back into the pan and mix through until warmed.

Serve by packing the fried rice into a round bowl, put your plate on top of the bowl upside-down. Turn right side up and remove the bowl.

One thing to be aware of is that “light” soy sauce and some cheap soy sauces are not brewed and include all sorts of weird ingredients.
The spring onion flavour is what really makes it taste good.


The fastest of fast food

Quick Scone Recipe (Aunty Phyllis Cowell)

2 cups flour
1/4 cup cooking oil + 1 lightly beaten egg & top up with milk to 1 cup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 level tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder

1. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients & mix very lightly.
2. Pat out to 2-3cm thick on a floured board and cut with a floured scone cutter.
3. Bake at 230C for 12 minutes

I use this for both sweet scones and to make a savoury cobbler topping as I loathe the mess and hassle of rubbing fat into flour to make traditional scones.  You can add up to 1/4 cup of any fruit or nuts to the scone dough if you wish; and herbs or spices to the cobbler topping.  Melted butter works just as well as cooking oil, but you do need to measure it separately!

Spreadable Butter

This must be one of the quickest and easiest way to save money and avoid E-numbers.

The ingredient list on a tub of spreadable  butter substitute is fairly lengthy, and includes several things I struggle to pronounce.  Not ideal.  The alternative, actual spreadable butter, is outside my normal budget and seldom available unsalted in any of my local shops.

So, I looked at the proportions and ingredients on the side of a tub of Lurpak and started experimenting.  The result is gratifying, and can be customised to match your preference for firmer or softer spreadability.


  • 4 parts soft butter (not melted)
  • 2 parts oil (minimally flavoured so not extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 part milk


  1. Place everything in a suitably-sized bowl and mix enthusiastically by hand, using an electric mixer, or using a blender.
  2. Scrape the resulting creamy stuff into a tub, and refrigerate until needed.

These proportions give “butter” that is solid in the fridge but can easily be scraped up to spread onto bread or toast. If your bread is fragile, try increasing the proportion of oil and/or milk gradually until you get a consistency you like.

If you’re feeling experimental, then try making flavoured butters and let me know what your favourites are…

Refried beans

I’d been at work all day, and he was ill.  No cooking had been done, and tummies were growling.

One package of tortilla wraps, the end of a block of cheddar, and the scrapings from a tub of creme fraiche magically became a meal with the addition of this wonderfully satisfying and totally meat-free concoction.  It’s equally good as a topping for a baked potato, or the base for cheesy nachos.

First, obtain some cooked beans.  You can open a few tins of kidney beans, or alternatively cook your own from dried.  I prefer the tiny military-tan adzuki beans for my recipe as they are easy to store, and cook relatively quickly in the pressure cooker (here’s my preferred reference for pressure cooking times).  One tip: if you are cooking your own beans, the flavour is greatly improved by adding a bay leaf to the pressure cooker before cooking.

You’ll need about three cups of cooked beans, or the drained contents of two tins, to make enough refried beans to feed 4 – 6 hungry adults.

From there, the recipe is easy.


  • 2 tins beans, drained, or 3 cups cooked beans
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tomato, chopped, or half a tin of tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf (if you didn’t cook your own beans with one in already)
  • half a teaspoon red chilli flakes, or less of chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
  • coriander leaf to garnish (optional)


  1. Saute the onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chilli and bay leaf and mix well.
  3. Add the beans and mash (ideally using a potato masher) into the sauce until everything is pureed. It’s up to you how much texture you decide to leave.
  4. Add salt if needed.
  5. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, with the lid off until the puree starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Garnish with the coriander leaf if desired.

Cabbage Curry

This is a work in progress. A very good friend has a vegan cafe and restaurant, and last time I went she fed me the most amazing cabbage curry. I haven’t managed to replicate the unctuousness of the original yet, but this is still very tasty.

If you ever visit Durban, South Africa, do stop in at “It’s all good”. Whatever is on will be tasty and healthy – a far too rare combination.



  • 1 medium cabbage (800g approx)
  • 1 medium aubergine (brinjal, eggplant)
  • 1 tin tomatoes or 4 medium fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey / sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Quarter the cabbage, remove the hard centre and slice finely.
  2. Rinse the chopped cabbage under running water to remove any dirt, and allow to drain.
  3. Peel the aubergine (carefully, the skin is tough) and cut into 1cm dice.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil over a medium heat in a large pan until the oil shimmers shimmers.
  5. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, and fry for 2-3 minutes until the seeds splutter.
  6. Add the coriander, turmeric and chilli powder and stir for a few seconds.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes and squash them down into the spices.
  8. Add the aubergine and stir to coat in the spicy tomatoes.
  9. Add the cabbage and lemon juice, cover, and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until it is wilted.
  10. Add the salt, mix well, cover, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  11. Uncover, mix well, recover and continue to cook for another 3×5 minutes until the cabbage and aubergine is tender.
  12. Add the other tablespoon of oil and the honey/sugar, mix well, and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until any surplus liquid has boiled off.

Serve with boiled brown rice if you can. The nuttiness of the brown rice really complements the cabbage.

Coconut dal with onion chutney

It’s been a while since I’ve posted – working a compressed shift will do that to you….

So, last week I was hungry, I was tired, and I didn’t want to have to think while I was cooking.  This is a lovely mixture – a bit like a savoury rice pudding with a crunchy, sweet and spicy onion chutney for contrast.

coconut dal and onion chutney on a glass plate

Onion chutney


  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • salt to taste


  • Mix everything together in a glass bowl (plastic will stain).
  • Place in the fridge and leave until the dal is cooked.

Coconut Dal


  • 100g red lentils
  • 25g dried coconut milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g rice
  • 250 – 400 ml water (keep some hot in the kettle as you’ll need to add as you go along)
  • garam masala


  1. Mix everything except the garam masala together in a large pan.
  2. Add 250 ml water and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. If the dal begins to thicken and catch, add 50 – 100 ml more hot water and continue to stir. You are aiming for a thick, rice-pudding consistency.
  5. Just before you are ready to serve the dal, add 1/4 tsp garam masala (or to taste) and stir through thoroughly.

Lentil Lasagne

This is the filling I use for my lentil lasagne.  It also works very well as a filling for suet pasties a la Mortgage Free in Three, though the white sauce requirements are very different.

Filling Ingredients:

This will make enough for 6-8, so I tend to use 2/3 for lasagne and the rest for pasties.


2 carrots
1 onion
100g mushrooms OR 1/2 an aubergine (you can use both if you like, but you do need one or the other for texture)
1 clove garlic
1 tin tomatoes  or  4 fresh whole tomatoes
1 cup puy (or green) lentils
600 ml vegetable stock (or water 

2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste

You will also need lasagne sheets if you are making lasagne, or self raising flour, salt, butter, suet, water and egg if you are making the pasties.  Warning – suet pastry is hard work to roll out….

To make the lentil lasagne filling:

Chop the onions, carrot, mushrooms and/or aubergine.  You want the bits to all be roughly the same size….


Fry onion, carrot, mushrooms and/or aubergine together in a little oil until they are soft.  Aubergine is notoriously thirsty for oil, but if it starts looking dry don’t add more oil, just add a little water and put the lid on.  You’ll find it will soften beautifully without sticking or burning.

Chop or crush the garlic, and add that and lentils to your pan and mix well.

This is what puy lentils look like, for those who were asking.  You can get tiny black ones called beluga lentils, which make the filling look even more like beef lasagne – they are really posh but they Co-Op sometimes stocks them.


Add stock, chopped tomatoes and bay leaves, mix well and bring to the boil.  If you’re using tinned tomatoes, I find the whole ones are tastier, and just chop them in the tin with scissors before dumping them in the pan.  In this case, I had some ‘salad’ tomatoes that had refused to ripen fully so used them up instead.


Reduce to a simmer and cook, with a spoon in the pan to hold the lid ‘ajar’, for 30 mins until the lentils can be squashed with the back of your spoon.


White Sauce for Lasagne:

3 Tbsp cornflour
3 cups milk (circa 700 ml)
1/2 cup grated cheese
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a microwave-safe jug or bowl, mix  cornflour with a little milk until smooth, and then add the rest and mix well.  Microwave on high in 30 sec bursts, whisking in between times, until it thickens to something like single cream.  Add cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and a dusting of nutmeg and mix well.  It needs to be fairly liquid, as you will be cooking the lasagne sheets and they need water to soften.  If it looks too thick, thin it with water or milk.

To make the lasagne, layer pasta sheets, filling and white sauce alternately until the very last layer, when you just put pasta and white sauce with a sprinkling of grated cheese if you have it to spare.  The white sauce in this picture was too thick, and I ended up having to add milk after I’d assembled the lasagne, which was a complete faff and didn’t work all that well….


Either bake in a 180C oven for 30 mins until hot, or cover and microwave on medium for 10-ish minutes until piping hot and the pasta is soft and well cooked.  You’ll need to experiment with times, and may want to pre soak the lasagne sheets as I often find they stay a bit on the dry side.

The lasagne also freezes very well before final cooking.  It will cook best if you allow it to defrost fully in the fridge before baking.

White Sauce for pasties:

4 Tbsp cornflour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated cheese
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a microwave-safe jug or bowl, mix  cornflour with a little milk until smooth, and then add the rest and mix well.  Microwave on high in 30 sec bursts, whisking in between times, until it thickens to something like wallpaper paste (yummy!).  Add cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and a dusting of nutmeg and mix well.


To make the pasty filling, mix an equal quantity of lasagne filling with the white sauce, and allow it to cool fully.  Then put a couple of spoonsful on your pastry circles, seal up the pasties, and bake as per Elaine’s instructions.


Carrot Cake Muffins (makes 12)

Recipe doubles easily, and the icing quantity is enough for 24!  These are incredibly moist, and very filling too, and a great use for those tired carrots in the bottom of your crisper drawer when you have absolutely had enough of soup.


175 g brown sugar (muscovado, soft brown, dark soft brown or whatever)
120 ml vegetable oil
2 medium eggs
200 g self-raising flour (white or wholemeal) (or make your own with 200g flour plus 2 tsp baking powder)
1 tsp bicarb
2 tsp mixed spice
50-100 g sultanas (or raisins)
190 g coarsely grated carrot (up to 250g whole carrots, depending on how much you have to trim)
1/2 an orange worth of zest
1/4 tsp salt


175 g icing sugar
2 Tbsp orange juice (1/2 an orange worth)
Enough boiling water to make a thick pouring consistency


  1. Beat sugar, eggs and oil until well mixed
  2. In a separate bowl, mix self-raising flour, bicarb and mixed spice
  3. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well
  4. Add carrot, sultanas and zest and fold in
  5. Place in lined muffin tins and bake for 25 min at 180C

They are done when a skewer comes out clean.  The mixture does rise, but doesn’t dome up so you will have flat-topped muffins .

Once cooled, mix up the icing and drizzle in straight lines across all the muffins to give a zebra-striped effect.

The recipe can also be made as a 20×26 cm tray bake, in which case baking will be 45 min – 1 hour.

Next time, I will try reducing the amount of sugar, as these were very sweet.  If you want to freeze the muffins, do this before or after icing, but they will be easier to store if they are not iced.

Sticky Rice

As I have just promised this recipe to a friend who is feeding hordes of hungry teenagers, this will be a quick-and-dirty posting with no pictures and minimal chat.


225g bacon, chopped (or ham or frankfurters or….)
1 onion, finely chopped
100g mushrooms, sliced
450g rice (just over 2 cups)
425g can French Onion Soup (or improvise with beef stock, extra onions & a bit of cornflour)
600ml water


Fry bacon and onion gently until onion is translucent.
Add mushrooms and stir well to mix.
Add rice & fry for 1 minute.
Add soup and water.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20-25 min until the liquid has been absorbed.

Put the pan in the middle of the table, provide a stack of bowls and spoons, and watch the stuff evaporate.

(you can add frozen peas if you need a bit of greenery)

Armenian Bean Casserole

Today was dreich.  A good Scots word for a rather wretched Scottish day.  Outdoors, it was wet, windy, dark and thoroughly unappealing.

Normally, miss F and I would have gone shopping today – the stock of fresh stuff in the house is getting perilously low – but as she put it: “I want to be warm and dry more than I want to get fresh air.”

So, what to make with store-cupboard-only ingredients that would be a warming welcome-home for DH after a double shift yesterday, and another long one today.


Armenian Bean Casserole
(feeds 4-6 with rice or chunks of bread)


225g pinto beans soaked for 8h or overnight (or you can use 3 tins – roughly 600g cooked beans anyway and start following the recipe after the first 30 minute simmering stage)
1 litre water
3 Tbsp oil for frying
2 onions chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2.5 cm root ginger, finely chopped (I used 1 tsp of the bottled Minced Ginger from Approved Foods ‘cos ginger just doesn’t last in my fridge)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (I love the tetrapaks from
2 vegetable stock cubes
85g ready-to-eat dried apricots, quartered (scissors are good for this)
30g raisins/sultanas (basics range always seems to be sultanas, so that’s what I used)


Tip out the soaking water and put the beans in a large pan with 1 litre of water.  Bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the onions and fry them gently until soft.
(a useful tip, when chopping onions, is to leave the root end intact. It holds everything together, and you can slice from tip to almost root all the way across before cutting slices from the nose-end)
onion ready for chopping
Add the spices and ginger and stir well.  Add the garlic and fry for another few minutes, until it stops smelling raw.
Add the part-cooked beans along with their cooking liquid, then the tomatoes, veggie stock cubes, apricots and sultanas.
Bring back to the boil, and simmer uncovered  for a further 30 minutes until the beans are tender and the cooking liquid has reduced to a thick, unctuous gloop.  Stir occasionally, but I’ve never had this catch yet (touch wood).

Serve with rice, bread, or whatever takes your fancy.

(If, like me, you have a pressure cooker, you may want to do the first stage in there, and save yourself 20 minutes or so….)

After all that, though, his nibs decided he would prefer hummus, so 5 mins in a mini-blender later, that was his dinner along with oatcakes and some of the red wine I won at work.  I’ll post that recipe another day.

For now, here’s a collection of recipes that might appeal:

Link up your recipe of the week