The Weekly Cook Up is a new column I plan to bring you every Friday right around 3pm when you are seriously having a think about your weekend menu.
The aim of the Weekly Cook Up is to inspire busy people like yourselves to set some time aside in the kitchen on the weekend to prepare at least one meal ahead for the week. If you’re really keen, you could cook up a few dishes, it’s totally up to you!
The thing is, we are all flat out busy – it’s just the way life is. It doesn’t matter if you have a husband or wife and kids, a hungry boyfriend or girlfriend at home or your extended family living with you. Even if it’s only yourself you have to feed - whether cooking is your thing or not, it can be a real drag to get motivated during the week.
That’s nothing to feel bad about – we all get like that. But the bad thing is it drives us to constantly eat out – not for a nice occasion, but because we all need to eat. Or lots of people find themselves buying expensive take-away or pre-made crap at the supermarket.
We live in a world where we are surrounded by cooking shows where the contestants stress out to create this (mostly) amazing food. I don’t know about you, but while these shows do inspire people to cook, I think they also make some of us feel a bit guilty for not putting a meal like that on the table after a busy day at work or with the kids, or however you spend your time.
That expectation is ridiculous and if you feel that way – then stop! If you are a regular reader of Uforic Food, you’ll know that my friend Ruza and I have our applications in to represent Victoria in season 3 of My Kitchen Rules. But I am more than happy to admit that I don’t cook like they do everyday. What they do is what I call “special occasion cooking”. Life’s just too busy to do that sort of stuff all the time and as much as I love to cook – I don’t even want to.
The weekly Cook Up will bring you recipes that may require a little more preparation or cooking time – but will be the sorts of things you can cook and freeze in batches like curries, soups, casseroles and other yummy, comforting, delicious food. I know you and your family are going to enjoy eating these dishes a whole lot more than going out for dinner just for a feed or eating expensive and unhealthy take-away more often than you should.
There is a place in all our lives for eating out and take-aways – but I think it’s important to eat home-made, healthy food. I think with a bit of planning and a hint of inspiration – you’ll be cooking up a storm and everyone will be happier, healthier, less stressed and best of all – you’ll save some money too!
That’s why I have chosen Fridays to post the Weekly Cook Up – most of us get a few days off each week, hopefully your partner is home too and can look after the kids – while you get into the kitchen and prepare one or a few meals for the week ahead. Turn the music up – pour yourself a glass of wine or crack open and beer and enjoy yourself!
Sound good? I hope you are all nodding in agreement
The biggest pleasure for me comes in the form of comfort food – and so I am going to kick of Uforic Food’s Weekly Cook Up with a fabulous curry, which I made last night. I made it up from ingredients that inspired me at the supermarket and in the pantry and it turned out great. I used chicken thigh fillets for this, but you could also use some chuck steak and simmer slowly for 1.5 – 2 hours. If you feel like it, mess around with the spices and make it your own.
CURRY WITH GINGER AND CORIANDER
- 1 tbs of butter
- 2 tbs of olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely diced (you can do this is a food processor, if you like, just make sure you don’t turn it to mush)
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced (or pop in the processor, if using)
- 3cm knob of ginger, finely diced (or in processor, but remove skin and chop into chucks first)
- 1/4 of a cup of fresh curry leaves (I found them in the fruit and veg section at the supermarket)
- 1 tbs of finely chopped coriander root
- 1 tsp or ground coriander
- 2 tsp of ground cummin
- 1 tsp of ground turmeric
- 1/2 a tsp of ground cardamom
- 1 tsp of ground paprika
- 2 tsp of garam masala
- 1/2 a tsp of chilli flakes (remove if cooking if kids, or ramp up if you like it hot – you could add fresh chilli too, if you have it)
- 700gm of chicken thigh fillets, cut into large chunks (or chuck steak)
- 1 400gm can of diced tomatoes
- 1/2 a tsp of sugar
- 3/4 of a cup of chicken stock (or beef stock, if using steak)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 of a cup of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy-based pan and cook the onion, ginger, garlic and coriander root with a few good pinches of salt, until they begin to soften. Make sure they don’t take on any colour. You want them to sweat and the salt with help with this.
Add all the spices and cook for a further three minutes, stirring to ensure they don’t burn. This releases their flavours and they will become lovely and fragrant.
Add the chicken/beef and turn it up to a medium heat. Toss it through the spices and cook for about 5 minutes until the outside changes colour. This means the meat is nicely sealed.
Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and chicken/beef stock and bring it up to a boil. Taste the sauce at this point and see if it needs some salt and pepper. I’m sure it will.
Turn the temperature right down and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes if using chicken, or simmer covered for 1.5 hours (checking regularly) if you are using beef. Taste the beef at the end of that cooking time to see if it’s tender. If not, cooking for another 15 minutes and test again. It’s very important if cooking this with beef that you make sure it’s cooking nice and slowly, otherwise the meat will go tough.
Stir through the fresh coriander and serve with some basmati rice and natural yogurt.
This really did turn out beautiful and fragrant and would be fine young children – just don’t add the chilli flakes. If it’s adults only and you’d like a bit of a chilli hit – I reckon a whole red chilli would do the trick nicely.
This makes enough to serve 4 quite generously. Feel free to double the recipe and then freeze it in air-tight containers for up to three months. If you’re on your own, you can buy containers large enough to fit one meal in. I do this for my dad. I always cook the rice for him, put it in the bottom of the container and then put the curry on top. This is a great option if you work nights and need to take your dinner to work.
If you’ve done it in a batch for four – I’d recommend that you freeze the curry only - and then make your rice fresh.
To make great rice, do 1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts water. If you are serving four, you’ll need a mug-sized cup of uncooked rice to 1 1/2 mug-sized cups of water. Cook it in the microwave on high for 12 minutes. I promise you won’t go wrong!
To make my rice a little more interesting, I added a teaspoon of chicken stock powder, a knob of butter and a teaspoon of turmeric – to make it yellow. It was yum!
To re-heat – it’s ideal if you can put the frozen food in the fridge the night before you plan to eat it. Once thawed, if you have made a family-sized batch, you can pop it into a saucepan and slowly reheat. If you can’t be bothered with that – the microwave is fine. Heat on high for 2 minutes. Check and stir, and continue until it’s hot enough.
Meals for one, which include the rice as part of the frozen meal, will need to be heated in the microwave, as stated above.
So this week I challenge you to get into your kitchen and do a bit of a cook up. You might like to use this recipe, or another one that you know freezes well. It will be the start of fabulous weekday meals – minus the stress!