Monday, 14 November 2011

Phad Thai Quorn


How I wish I had tried this recipe ages ago - I didn't because I have been making my own Phad Thai for years based around a traditional Thai recipe which took much perfecting and tweaking before it was exactly how we like it. I was therefore unconvinced that this version would be any good at all, especially when I saw the minimal ingredients list. I was wrong!

Effectively this tasty phad thai is based around the staples of chilli and garlic and a sauce of lime juice and soy sauce, the fresh garnish of chopped spring onions, coriander and dry roasted peanuts is what really brings the flavours alive and my only negative comment is that it is a very dry version of a phad thai (probably due to the lack of tamarind paste and fish sauce which are key features in my other recipe). 

This is a very quick recipe to make and one way in which it beats my other version hands down is that it is speedy and takes a lot less prep - I had this on the table within 20 minutes of starting to cook and considering how good it is that's pretty amazing!

I used some rice noodles as suggested in the recipe but actually this would work as well with any thin 'straight to wok' noodles and this would make the recipe even quicker and more convenient.

This is the dish served:

After stir-frying the red onion (1), chilli (3) and garlic (2 cloves) for a few minutes you simply brown off the quorn pieces before adding the lime juice (1) and soy sauce (4 tblsp), you then add the cooked noodles and tip over 2 beaten eggs, stirring into the noodles until cooked and 'bitty' (how it looks in egg fried rice) then serve and scatter over as much or as little of the fresh garnish as you like.

In terms of weight watchers propoints, each portion (based on a 6 point portion of noodles included) is worth 12 points broken down as follows: quorn (2), peanut garnish (2), oil (1), soy sauce (1), noodles (6). This is a pretty filling meal with some stunningly fresh flavours and I am pleased that it is also pretty healthy too.

This is an impressively easy version of a phad thai dish which works really well with the quorn pieces, I may adapt it with a splash of fish sauce and tamarind paste next time I make it as actually those additions would not affect the speedy convenience of this recipe but might add further depth to the flavour.

As a real fan of Thai food and a frequent and interested sampler of Phad Thai I think this is a clever and impressive recipe, the combination of cooked and raw ingredients works together to give an authentic texture and I know for a fact I will be making this recipe again!

We would give this an 8/10.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Quorn, Leek and Thyme Pate


I was dreading making this recipe as I am not really a fan of pate at all, neither the consistency or the taste. But I happened to have a lone leek in my fridge at the weekend which needed using before it turned and everything else was on hand so I figured it was time to bit the bullet and make this.

It was not, in fact, as foul as I was thinking it would be and actually I did manage to enjoy it as a base for a wrap (spread on in place of butter or houmous which I would normally use). It is quite simple and quick to make and I was surprised that the flavours worked so well.

The basis for this recipe is quorn chicken style pieces, these are browned off with a quarter of the cooked leeks (sauteed in butter) and the thyme and then some white wine is added and cooked off before the whole lot is blended and stirred into some soft cheese and the other three quarters of softened leeks. This does mean that there are 'lumps' of leek in the finished dish but actually because they are softened it does not ruin the texture.

The flavours of leek and thyme are definitely prevailant here and to be honest the quorn just seems to fill it out - but I would serve this as a great veggie alternative to pate as it tastes lovely and serves as a convincing substitute. It is nice with slices of pitta bread as a dip and we have also been eating it spead on crusty bread.

This is the pate part way through making and stored ready to chill:

In terms of propoints, it is hard to gauge what a portion size would be as it would depend on what you wanted to do with the finished product, this is not a meal so much as an accompaniment. The whole dish is 16 points so based on an average serving of a quarter of this (although that is quite a lot as you can tell from the photos) it works out at around 4 points per portion based on quorn (1), white wine (1), butter (1) and lighter soft cheese (1).

A pretty healthy alternative to usually fat heavy pates. I have to say I have no overwhelming urge to repeat this for us as it is not the kind of thing we would ever really eat, but it is a useful way of creating a veggie version of a standard pate if you were having a buffet.

An innovative way to use quorn if nothing else, we would give this a 6/10.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sweet & Sour Quorn Stir Fry


I am struggling at the moment to fit in recipes from this experiment, life has been so busy over recent months that remembering to buy in the right ingredients has become a chore! Hopefully things will start to calm down between now and Christmas.

Anyway, last week I had to buy a bottle of sherry for the christmas cake and therefore I happened to have everything in to make the marinade for this particular Quorn recipe. I am not a fan of sweet and sour when it comes to Oriental cuisine but I was ready to give this recipe a go. I have to say I was actually pleasently surprised.

I used steak strips instead of chicken style pieces and personally I really think the steak strips worked better than the pieces would but needless to say it will work with whichever type you happen to have in.

The marinade is fairly simple, consisting of dry sherry, fresh orange juice, oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and chopped garlic. The recipe stated to leave the quorn soaking in this for around 20 minutes, I actually left it for a couple of hours as I always think the longer you can leave these kinds of marinade for the better the effect will be.

The actual cooking is fairly quick and straightforward, one of the things I like best about this recipe. You soften the onion in half the remaining oil, remove from the pan, brown the quorn pieces (removed from the marinade) then take these out of the pan aswell, cook the vegetables in the same wok and then add everything back in, tweak the marinade (with honey and cornflour) and pour it over and bob's your uncle!

This is what the dish looked like finished with noodles:

The next night I served the remainder with boiled rice, personally I think I preferred it with the rice and it was certainly easier to eat (noodles are always a nightmare for me, for some reason).

I thought the stir-fry was tasty and I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much, I think it is because unlike standard sweet and sour sauces, which can be overwhelmingly sweet, this was balanced and although you could certainly taste both the sweetness of the orange juice and the tang of the vinegar and sherry, no particular flavour was overwhelming.

I would make this again, it was easy, quick and very satisfying and best of all, due to using zero point veg, this can be very low points value for the Propoints plan. One portion (based on peppers and carrots as the veg) is only 4 points broken down as follows: quorn pieces/strips (2), oil (1), sherry (1). You can then add noodles or rice for another 6 points (weighed portions) so this is a very tasty and low point main meal.

This makes 4 generous portions and keeps well chilled in the fridge overnight. We would give it a 7/10.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sticky Sausage Skewers


Hello all, apologies for the extended delay - we were on holidays and then have been battling colds and, well, life gets in the way sometimes. Anyway, I am determined to complete this Quorn experiment before christmas so need to get a wriggle on.

Purely by chance I had got everything in to make the 'Sticky Sausage Skewers' before the weather went all bbq-tastic this weekend so it was a bonus when the in-laws invited us for a bbq on Saturday afternoon, I quickly put together this great, simple recipe and took them with us to cook on the barbie (I had intended to griddle mine, not expecting the indian summer!).

This is what they looked like raw and ready to be cooked:

These literally take minutes to put together. The marinade is very simple - fresh lemon juice, olive oil, whole grain mustard and mango chutney - which the sausage pieces are coated in before being threaded onto the skewers with cherry tomatoes, chunks of pepper and button mushrooms (the recipe called for red onion too but I had none in and did not miss it).

The excess marinade I took with me and used as a dip once the kebabs were cooked, they only took a couple of minutes on each side over a hot bbq. This is them cooked and plated:

These were a welcome veggie addition to the bbq and it works very well with the quorn sausages. I really liked the flavours of the marinade although my husband was not too keen on the mustard element.

These are pretty healthy as only the sausage and marinade contains points. Based on each skewer containing one whole sausage, the propoints value per kebab is 4 as follows: sausage (1), mango chutney (2), oil (1).

I think these work really well, look and taste great and offer something a bit different for the bbq, as a bonus they are very low in fat compared to a meat version. I will definitely be making these again next summer! Simple to prepare and also pretty flexible as you could change the veg to suit whatever you have in the fridge without upping the points value.

We give these a 9/10.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Butternut Squash Tart


So, a savoury tart was the latest recipe to get an airing from the quorn cookbook. I have to admit that although the recipe included making my own shortcrust pastry case I cheated and bought one ready made. Why? Because I made this on a school night and faffing about with pastry is not something I wanted to be doing when I am short on time.

I bought an Asda savoury pastry case and despite looking at it empty and thinking it would never be big enough it turned out to be almost exactly the right size, this is a photo of it before I put it in the oven:

I REALLY liked this tart, the flavour of the butternut squash and the goat's cheese worked surprisingly well together and we really enjoyed it. We ate the second half the next evening and the flavours had intensified some more, it was even tastier which was a nice surprise.

This is pretty simple to male, the key is to cut the butternut squash into small (about 1cm) and very even cubes so that they are pretty much softened after being sauteed with the onions. The goat's cheese is stirred through off the heat but melts into the filling nicely and a small amount of milk is added to turn the consistency to more like cream. This is a thick filling though and needs spooning rather than pouring into the pastry base.

After 20 minutes in the oven it was perfectly bubbling and golden brown as you can see here:

And here it is served:

The only downside to this tart is the points values. The pastry case on its own was 28 points (!! nearly an entire days worth) so that bumps it up a bit, there is no real way of skimping on the points with this one and each portion comes out at 12 points, it tastes indulgent though so this is probably a recipe to save as a treat and depending what you serve it with you can try to control what it will cost you as a full meal.

The 12 points (with the tart making 4 portions) works out as follows: pastry (7), goats cheese (3), quorn pieces (1), oil (1).

We really liked this although my husband is not usually a fan of this kind of pastry. It is a filling meal and a nice way to use butternut squash which can be a bit bland sometimes. I would certainly make this again.

We gave it 7/10.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Quorn Fillets in Vermouth


This is a recipe I have been meaning to try for a while but due to the fact I never have any vermouth in the house it has taken ages to get round to!

Basically the method here is that you fry off the fillets until browned then stir fry leeks and chestnut mushrooms until softened, you then put the fillets back in the pan before adding the vermouth and cooking it off until half the alcohol has evaporated. Next you add stock, simmer and season to taste.

Once everything is cooked you stir through some creme fraiche (I used half fat) and fresh parsley, the sauce thickens a little once the creme fraiche is added and  this is what it looks like in the pan:

And here it is served:

You can see from the pictures that the sauce is pretty thin and watery (despite the creme friache thickening it slightly), I do wonder if less stock would work better, the recipe calls for 300ml but I reckon if I made this again I would only use about 200ml which would likely produce a better effect.

The sauce is quite tasty with the vermouth producing a white wine edge to the flavour. I did not know until I bought a bottle but vermouth is effectively a very dry blend of wine, herbs and spices. This sauce would work equally well with a dry white wine instead of the vermouth if you do not have any in.

The chestnut mushrooms and leeks work very well in this sauce with the creme fraiche and it suits the fillets in this dish.

In terms of weight watchers points, I based the portion sizes on this recipe serving 3 with each portion containing two fillets. Because half of the ingredients here are zero points (leeks, mushrooms, stock granules) this recipe does very well for being low points with each portion coming in at 8 points as follows: quorn fillets (2), vermouth (1), oil (1), half fat creme fraiche (4). 

I did not use the full tablespoon of oil to saute the mushrooms and leeks, a teaspoon and then a few sprays of oil as it was cooking was sufficient and keeps the points lower.

I might make this again as it is something quite different to do with fillets, the sauce could have done with being thicker but it went very well with new potatoes and would also be nice with mashed potato.

We would give this recipe a solid 7/10.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Brunch Fritatta


As this dish is effectively an omlette I knew that my husband would not touch it with a barge pole (he has a deep rooted hatred of eggs). I therefore needed to cook it when I knew I could have it two days in a row without a fuss, I cooked it for Saturday lunch and then had the leftover portion on Sunday.

I really enjoyed this. It was simple, pretty quick and easy, plus it is VERY filling and low on points. It looks good on the plate too, quite impressive I thought! Here it is in the pan:

And served:

The sausages work really well in this, especially now that Quorn have improved their sausage recipe (and I think they taste much more authentic now). I added a few more cherry tomatoes than the recipe called for as I love them and I also used chestnut rather than button mushrooms as this was what I had in the fridge. I get the impression that you could pretty much use any type of quorn for this recipe but it does go very nicely with the sausage flavour.

So, I actually baked off my sausages rather than frying them to save on points, I used spray oil rather than olive oil to fry the onions and as I have a very good Prestige non-stick pan I had no problems. I only split this into two portions and I found this very filling indeed, it could easily do three portions as a light lunch and would be lovely with a side salad.

You do need a pan which you can put under the grill for a couple of minutes but thankfully mine has a metal handle so that was no problem. You also need to cook off your potato first, as I was cooking my sausages in advance I did this all at the same time and the timings were easy enough.

In terms of propoints, based on this serving two portions, each is worth 7 points as follows: eggs (3), sausages (2), potato (2). Obviously if you use a tablespoon of olive oil as the recipe suggests you will need to add a further 2 points per portion but this is still a fairly good meal at 9 points as it is so filling.

I will definitely make this again and may well tweak it to include more zero points veggies that need using up, I give this a 9/10.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Singapore Quorn Noodles


Tonight I have made Singapore Noodles with Quorn mince from the cookbook. My first time using pak choi in a recipe and unusual, I thought, to put mince in what is effectively a stir fry, but we have really enjoyed it. 

This recipe is bursting with flavours and the method of cooking means the vegetables (mange tout, spring onions and pak choi) remain lovely and crunchy. The mince is marinaded in hoisin sauce, rice wine, soy sauce, fresh garlic and chilli before being flash fried for a few minutes over a high heat, the spring onions and mange tout are then added before lastly the pak choi and beansprouts are thrown in, purely to heat through and wilt. 

Noodles are added last and need to be pre-cooked, I always skim read the recipe to look for the fateful word 'meanwhile' and here you ideally need to start your noodles before you start the mince to ensure they are cooked and drained ready for the point at which you need them.

Here is the stir fry while still in the pan:

There is not a whole lot of sauce in this recipe, as you can see, but the mince does get nicely coated in all the flavours and it works well regardless of it being quite a 'dry' stir fry.

This is the dish served:

I love how quick this recipe is and how fresh it all tastes, this is probably my favourite oriental style quorn dish from the recipe book to date.

This is also pretty good in terms of weight watchers points, we actually made this recipe do 3 instead of 4 portions as it looked like 4 would have been stretching it, so I have calculated points based on this serving 3. On this basis each portion is still only 12 points including the noodles, broken down as follows: quorn (2), noodles (5), hoi sin sauce (3), soy sauce (1), oil (1). If you do make it stretch to 4 portions, each portion would be 9 points but I felt satisfied - not overly full with the size of portion I had here.

So, overall a lovely, tasty, quick and fairly healthy dish, something a bit different with the use of mince but an interesting concept and a nice change, we will definitely be making this one again and give it an 8/10.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Quorn Risotto


I absolutely adore risotto and find it quite enjoyable to cook so I was looking forward to trying out this recipe. My husband, on the other hand, detests the texture of risotto - he is not too keen on many rice based dishes to be honest but in particular he was apparently fed liver risotto frequently as a child and came to hate it. I can't say I blame him, it sounds foul.

But anyway, this risotto uses quorn pieces and is also quite a 'bulky' risotto, containing asparagus and peas. The method was different to other risottos I have made in that the quorn and veg were cooked in a seperate pan and only stirred into the finished rice at the end. This did work but meant two large pans on the hob and simultaneous cooking.

The knack with risotto, in my opinion, is patience and resisting the urge to stir constantly. I also have a special risotto stirrer which is like a wooden spoon with a hole in it and which apparently helps to evenly cook the rice and not break up the starches too much (making it thick and sticky). Here the basic steps are to sweat the onions and garlic in oil before stirring in the rice to coat it in the oil, then a small glass of wine is added and simmered off before the stock is added, a small amount at a time and simmered off in the same way.

I have been cooking risotto for years but have never made one with so much veg in it, I really enjoyed it though and the cooking the veg off in a second pan means it does not require much more than heating through once it is added to the rice.

This is a picture of the finished risotto in the pan, after the pesto and parmesan have been stirred through at the end:

And this is what it looks like served, although the portions are not huge, like with all risottos this much is more than enough!

The flavours were really strong from the sweet peas and the al dente asparagus and this worked really well. Start to finish this did take around the 25 minutes that the recipe claimed, although, as I mentioned before, this involves cooking two lots of ingredients at the same time. Even my risotto hating husband thought it tasted pretty good and I think the fact it is such a 'busy' dish broke up the texture quite a lot and detracted from the amount of rice involved.

In terms of weight watchers points, each portion, based on the recipe serving 4  , is 12 points broken down as follows: rice (5), quorn (2), butter/oil (2), parmesan (1), pesto (1), wine (1). This is actually pretty low for what tastes like a much richer dish and a substantial portion. I would definitely make it again.

A nice touch, in my opinion, is adding the pesto right at the end as this gave depth to the flavour but was not too heavy. You could make this recipe lighter on points by using a reduced fat spread instead of butter and a reduced fat pesto, but given the full fat version still only comes in at 12 points I do not think making these changes is necessary.

I would give this an 8/10 (he says 6/10 but even this is quite positive considering his risotto phobia!).

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Quorn Balls in Blue Cheese Sauce


I will be honest, the thought of making Quorn Balls in Blue Cheese Sauce did not fill me full of excitement but of apprehension. I do not like blue cheese and this recipe uses this as the key ingredient, but having been pleasantly surprised by the blue cheese stuffed mushrooms made a while back I was prepared to be surprised.

I have to say that yet again this recipe was far nicer than I was expecting it to be. It is also a pretty simple and quick recipe and my blue cheese loving husband really liked it.

So, effectively you make a roux sauce with butter, flour, milk and stock and then stir in the blue cheese (I used gorgonzola), a pinch of nutmeg and the zest of half a lemon and stir it until thickened (and stinking).

You then pour the sauce over the quorn balls (which have been browned off in a pan) and bake the whole thing for about 20 minutes. This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven, I was very pleased it had not bubbled over and left me with a nasty mess!

I served it with penne pasta tonight and it worked quite well, the creamy sauce sticks to the pasta really well and I imagine this would be very suited to spaghetti or tagliatelle even more so. This is what it looked like served with some fresh parsley on the top:

With this being quite a 'creamy' looking sauce you would expect it to be fairly heavy on weight watchers points. However, using spray oil to fry off the quorn balls and skimmed milk and low fat spread in the roux (both of which worked perfectly) this actually comes in at 12 points for the sauce with a weighed out 6 points portion of pasta. The sauce is only 6 points.

So, the 6 points is made up of: quorn balls (2), gorgonzola (1), milk (1), butter (1), flour (1). I think it helps that the cheese has such a strong flavour because you do not use a huge amount of it in this sauce but it provides a vivid effect on the taste.

Considering I am not a fan of blue cheese I actually would make this again, I quite liked it. I also think it tastes like it should be far more points than it actually is and there is enough sauce to give decent portions from the recipe.

Overall we give this recipe 7/10 and if you really like blue cheese there is no doubt in my mind that you will ADORE this recipe!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Quorn Pieces in Black Bean Sauce


Apologies for the gap in posts, I was off on a mini tour of Northern Italy, getting eaten alive by mozzies in Milan, wandering the beautiful streets of Verona, falling in love with Bologna (such an overlooked gem of a city) and stocking up at deli's all over Sienna.

And now I am back in the rainy, chilly UK. But only 8 weeks til our next overseas adventure - that thought is keeping me going. Ideally I would like to have finished this project by then. The intention is that I will still keep this blog going as an outlet for my cooking and baking and vegetarian adventures anyway.

So, last week, on our return, I made the Quorn Pieces in Black Bean Sauce and we did very much enjoy it although it does rely on a jar sauce and therefore is a little bit of a cheat in my opinion. The recipe calls for a 425g jar of the black bean sauce and I used Sharwoods for no other reason than the jar was exactly that size and therefore it helped me with calculating points.

The method is very simple, you just fry off the pieces with onion, garlic and ginger, whack in the (blanched) broccoli and red pepper (I also added some baby corn for a bit of extra colour and to bulk it out without adding points), add the sauce and then serve with noodles or rice. I tried it with both on seperate nights. I have to say the warmed up leftovers tasted even better on the second night as the flavours had evidently matured overnight in the fridge.

This is what the dish looked like served:

In terms of points values this is a pretty good recipe. The quorn based sauce is only 5 points per portion as follows: quorn (2), oil (1), sauce (2). This means that you can add it to a portion of rice for 11 points all in or to noodles for around about the same depending on the type and portion size.

I thought this was very tasty and I also really liked the method of blanching the broccoli for literally 2 minutes first, it meant that even with the very quick stir frying time it was cooked through but still with a lovely, fresh crunch to it.

This is a very adaptable dish and you could just as easily use up any leftover veg from your fridge to bulk it out. The pieces responded really well to the sauce and it was a satisfying and supremely easy and quick meal to assemble.

Although I would generally not use jar sauces this actually was so tasty and enjoyable that I will definitely make it again, it is one of those 'standby' meals where you can put it together with what you have available.

We gave it an 8/10.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Quorn Carbonara with Mince


I was a bit baffled by even the concept of this recipe when I first looked at it. This was not helped by the fact that this is one of few recipes in the book which does not have an illustrative photograph of the completed recipe. Mince!? With carbonara!? It just did not sound right.

As I mentioned fairly recently when I made the standard quorn carbonara, this pasta dish is not one of our favourites anyway - but we were actually pleasantly surprised by this and so I was ready to be convinced that a version with mince (as absurd as this seemed) could also be impressive.

Unfortunately it was not.

It is a very simple recipe where basically you just cook off the quorn mince with some sauteed onion and garlic, cook the spaghetti and drain then whisk together a couple of eggs and a tblsp of parmasan and mix the whole lot together. The heat of the pasta and mince cooks the egg mixture and it coats the pasta. And it is DRY. Very dry.

To be fair, the first few mouthfulls were pretty ok, garnished with fresh parsley and some freshly grated black pepper...but halfway through I started to feel like I was eating straw...and I was just LONGING for some kind of sexy sauce with pizazz and flavour and heat...and this is not it.

Here is a photo of the pasta served:

Personally I just do not think carbonara with mince is a good idea. The mince and spaghetti soak up any moisture out of the eggs (which is really the only place any moisture is) and the whole thing is really rather bland. H (husband, getting bored of typing it so H will suffice) summed it up by saying 'it's not very exciting is it?' which was very diplomatic to be honest.

I do not think I will make this one again.

Points wise it is a very low dish for pasta, mainly because it is so simple, each portion works out at 10 points as follows: pasta (6), eggs (2), parmasan (1). I got round the oil by using a spray version to saute the onions and garlic.

Thanks but no thanks for this one, we gave it an uninspiring 5/10.

Quorn Fajitas


We eat a lot of fajitas in our house, it is one of our favourite meals and I have been making them with quorn pieces for years so this was an interesting recipe to try. The main difference was that this recipe creates the seasoning from scratch whereas I would normally just use a packet mix to save time.

However, I have to say that the seasoning was very simple to make and tasty and due to the marinading it could easily be done in a morning for a quick meal later in the day. The marinade consists of lime juice and zest, cayenne pepper, sugar, cinnamon, cumin and oregano and I left mine soaking in for a couple of hours although the recipe suggests 30 minutes is sufficient.

The making of the fajitas is very simple, you just fry off some onion and peppers and then add the marinaded pieces, fry it all together for a few minutes and serve in the usual way with fresh salsa and sour cream to accompany them.

These are some photos of the process and the finished product:

I really enjoyed these and liked the citrus zing that the lime juice and zest had given to the marinade. My husband was not so convinced and almost immediately declared that he prefers the standard packet mix. He really is not a fan of citrus in savoury dishes though so I was not incredibly surprised.

I felt that it gave a fresh, balanced flavour which worked really well with the salsa, I very much enjoyed these fajitas and I also think this would work very well with steak strips instead of normal chicken style pieces.

In terms of ww propoints, these work out at 10 points per portion based on having 2 fajitas each with around a table spoon of reduced fat sour cream (I honestly cannot tell the difference between the full fat version and this) and fresh salsa.

The 10 points is broken down as follows: flour tortillas x 2 (5), quorn pieces (2), sour cream (2), oil (1). This is pretty good considering how filling and tasty they are and to be honest you could even get away with an extra tortilla for another 3 points and it would still be within a good points value for a main meal.

I gave this 8/10. Husband says 7/10 so somewhere around there!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Quorn Teriyaki


I do apologise for the slow progress currently being made with this project, life has been incredibly busy of late and for some reason the manic activity (both at work and at home) looks set to continue until at least September. We have weddings, deadlines, family events, various application processes and professional hurdles to accomodate. 2011 looks set to be a demanding year all round.

Anyway, I made this Quorn Teriyaki over the weekend as I happened to have everything in to make it with. The recipe suggests marinading the quorn steak strips for around 30 minutes but as with all marinades I always believe that the longer the better. I prepped mine mid afternoon and allowed it to soak for a good few hours and I do believe this intensified the flavours.

The other good thing about doing this early is that when you come to cook the dish it is incredibly quick and easy, most of the ingredients go in the marinade so you are only left with stir-frying the lot and cooking the noodles, making this a speedy dish to produce.

Here is a pic of the steak strips marinading - the marinade consists of oil, grated fresh ginger, chopped garlic, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, fresh orange juice and zest:

And this is a photo of the finished dish:

I actually 'cheated' and used some 'straight to wok' noodles so the whole thing was rather effortless at the end! I thought that the taste was pretty good and quite distinctive although as you also add fresh lemon juice whilst stir-frying this was yet another strangely citrus flavour (seems to be a favourite of the Quorn cook book in general). I liked the fresh coriander burst but then I do love the taste of coriander in anything, it is pretty strong here as it is added in at the last minute.

Points wise this is a pretty healthy dish with a portion coming in at 10 points including noodles. This is based on the recipe serving 3 portions though as personally we did not think 4 portions would have made very generous or filling meals. Here I have used 2 x 150g packets of straight to wok noodles intended to provide 3 servings so this should be factored in.

The 10 points is broken down as follows: quorn (2), noodles (6), oil (2). Everything else in this recipe has zero points values because it is all fresh veg and seasoning elements.

I would certainly make this again as I enjoyed it and it is so low in points. My husband was not overly keen on it but thought it was 'ok' - for him the citrus flavour made him less keen. This could be balanced out though in a future attempt and I would be tempted to increase the soy and rice wine instead to bring those flavours through.

Overall I would give this a 7/10. 

I will endeavour to get more on here sooner rather than later but we are off to Italy next week on a fly drive foodie adventure (hoping to bring back some fresh parmasan and balsamic vinegar). Have fun in the meantime!    

Monday, 13 June 2011

Quorn Schnitzel Parmi

This is not from the book, it is a recipe I have adapted to recreate a dish which we saw a lot of in Australia and which my husband desperately wanted to try. It features on pretty much every pub menu across Australia as Chicken or Beef Schnitzel, the parmi bit is the option to have the dish Parmigiana style - but the ozzies all just refer to it as a 'parmi'.

I, of course, tried the chicken version a couple of times while we were out there and watched my veggie husband's face as he plainly coveted my tea. I immediately realised that by using quorn escalopes this dish would be fairly easy to recreate and therefore I tried it the minute we got home (literally less than 24 hours after we got off the plane).

It is safe to say it was a roaring success and as good as he imagined it was going to be - accordingly it has now become one of our 'treats' (due to the amount of cheese). I have adapted elements of some of the best parmi's I had out there, although not all contained either the ham or the tomato sauce. This recipe would also be very easy to adapt and you could also add sliced and griddled aubergine instead of (or in addition to) the ham layer.

To create the 'parmi' I take a quorn escalope (it does not matter which one, I have used both lemon & black pepper and the goat's cheese & broccoli and both work well although I prefer the former) and oven cook it as normal. Once it is cooked through I switch the grill on and apply a layer of pizza topper tomato sauce, a slice of quorn ham and about 20g of grated mature cheddar.

This is what it looks like about to go under the grill:

And here it is served with the perfect accompaniment - chunky oven chips!

We really enjoy this, the crunchy escalope really works with this addition and to be honest, it is hard to tell its not the real thing (in my humble opinion) because the texture is pretty much bang on.

The weight watchers points are not too bad considering - each parmi portion is 10 pro points, split out as follows (and based on lemon and black pepper version): quorn escalope (7), cheese (2), pizza topper (1). As only one ham slice is used my tracker does not bother counting this (one of the eccentricities of the pro points system). 

This is not too bad a points value, with low fat oven chips it means a very filling and tasty meal for around 18 points and is well worth it.

I am quite pleased with how this experiment turned out and I will definitely be making these again, maybe Quorn should include it in the 2nd edition of the Recipe book!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Greek Style Quorn Salad


After the indulgence of the bank holiday weekend and a week where I ended up eating out three times (purely by chance!) I decided to make one of the salads from the cookbook. This is despite me not being the biggest salad as a meal fan (can't stand cucumbers or raw tomatoes) but we do get through a lot of it on sandwiches and the such like.

I had the added incentive that my lovely friends the Haywards had provided me with some of their excess lettuce, fresh from the greenhouse (many thanks Mike!). I therefore picked the greek salad as I happened to have everything in that I needed and off we went.

The quorn in this recipe is pieces which are marinaded in lemon juice and olive oil before being browned off and put to one side. I prepped everything else while these were browning and the whole thing took less than 10 minutes to put together.

The 'dressing' for the salad is made of more lemon juice and olive oil combined with salt, pepper, oregano and fresh mint. This is then tossed with crumbled chunks of feta cheese, thinly sliced spring onions and avacado. You then layer the salad leaves and quorn pieces before tipping the dressing over and adding sliced tomatoes and black olives as garnish.

This is what it looked like:

This was actually a lovely dish, very light and with a zingy and very mediterranean tasting dressing. The spring onions came through as a stronger flavour than I thought and I would possibly use less of them next time and more feta - but overall this was thoroughly enjoyable.

Fantastic in terms of weight watchers points as most of the ingredients are free - I took it easy with the olive oil too and used less than the 5 tblsp recommended (I used 4). Each portion is therefore 6 points as follows: quorn (2), oil (2) avacado (1), feta (1).

I do think I would make this again and would seriously consider it as a lunch option for work although that would mean storing the dressing seperately for the freshest possible result.

It seems there are a number of light dishes to work through now so expect more of these kind of recipes which hopefully will be ideal for summer eating!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Veggie Brunch - St Kilda Style!

This is actually a 'bonus' post and completely unrelated to my ongoing Quorn Cookbook shenanigans...

On a recent trip to Melbourne we had the most AMAZING veggie brunch in fabulous St Kilda and it inspired me to recreate it at home. The nice thing is that this is actually so amazeballs I think even meat lovers would not particularly notice that it is distinctly meat free! 

As it is a bank holiday in the UK today I decided this was the ideal day to try this brunch recipe out, brunch is massively underrated in this country in our opinion and I love the fact that the Aussies just embrace this whole culture of going out for breakfast / brunch and make a big thing of it.

Anyway, this is what the finished brunch looked like:

And here is my husbands version without the egg and with extra beans:

On this second photo you can also better see the mushroom and spinach dish which is something we picked up in St Kilda, I have recreated this by spraying a frying pan with low cal oil, frying off one clove of crushed garlic and then adding sliced chestnut mushroom and slowly frying before adding a couple of handfuls of spinach and a small amount of salt. The result is this lovely veggie side dish which fills out a meat free breakfast.

You will notice I have used quorn sausages and bacon slices here but in the main this was to appease my husband and they are not really needed. For me the key to this breakfast is excellent scrambled egg (olive oil is the secret apparently), griddled halloumi, toasted slices of ciabatta, the mushroom/spinach combination and the beans, what more do you need!?

Very enjoyable and proof positive that meat is not actually necessary to enjoy a hearty brunch.

Quorn Vegetable Mince Curry


Time for another curry from the cookbook, this one (Vegetable Mince Curry) I have to admit I kept flicking past in the book and pausing for a second to consider before dismissing it out of hand due to the 'mince' element. Mince?! In a curry!? I was not convinced....

But, I decided it was high time to give it a bash and as we are now around two thirds through the book I am having to stop discounting recipes which did not immediately appeal and start just cooking them!

So, this one is very quick and easy and, dare I say it, a bit of a cheat as it involves a jar of curry sauce. The recipe suggests that madras works well and accordingly I had chucked a jar of the same into my shopping trolley a few weeks ago in order to attempt this. 

There is a certain amount of actual 'cooking' involved despite the jar but on the whole this is a convenience meal. And actually a pretty darn nice one! All you do is cook off some chopped potato and cauliflower in a pan of water for 8-10 minutes until virtually cooked, heat the curry sauce in another pan (I used a wok and was glad for it, there is way too much sauce to successfully use a frying pan) and then add the cooked potato/cauliflower and 300g quorn mince and simmer for 10 mins (I had to add a half jar of water in order to do this).

After this has simmered you chuck in 175g of frozen veg - the recipe specifies peas but I had none and therefore used mixed veg which worked perfectly well - and fresh spinach. Once this has heated through enough to cook the veg and wilt the spinach it is good to go.

Here it is cooking off towards the end:

And here it is served:

We actually really enjoyed this recipe - although I do think a jar sauce is a bit of a cheat. Also, the points total of this dish will depend on the points within the jar sauce so you will need to amend your points total as necessary - for info I used Aldi's Bilash Madras sauce.

Based on this sauce the points values per portion (based on it serving 4) is 7 broken down as follows: quorn mince (2), potato (2), sauce (3). Obviously serving with rice/naan then adds points but this still makes it a fairly low point choice overall.

It actually makes massive portions too as you can probably see above, you could easily get 5 rather than 4 portions out of this recipe. The curry itself is lovely and I agree that madras strength works well with it, I have never tried a mince curry before but I definitely will again based on the success of this one.

We gave it 8/10.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Quorn Sausage & Crushed Potato Pie


This is the final recipe from the 'Little Chefs' section right at the back of the recipe book and as such it is a pretty simple recipe designed to appeal to cooking with kids. Right up my street when I am knackered and hungry then!

This is a brilliant recipe which also gives plenty of scope for tweaking. Effectively you just cook off the sausages (which I oven baked with a spray of low cal oil rather than frying) then saute the onions, tip in a tin of beans and some seasoning (ketchup, brown sauce - I added a splash of balsamic vinegar in lieu of the brown sauce) whack it in a casserole dish and top it with some cheesy mashed potato.

What you end up with is a satisfying, tasty sort of sausage casserole. The added bonus is that it is also pretty low in weight watchers points so all round this definitely gets the thumbs up from me. Here it is as it came out the oven:

And this is it plated. The portions don't look huge here but they were actually very filling.

I really liked the cheesy mash topping and by using extra mature cheddar I managed to get a pretty cheese-tastic flavour without using too much of it. I would also add in leftover mushrooms or other veggies if I made this again, it would work really well with roasted peppers in it or leftover courgettes. I love the adaptability of it.

In terms of propoints, each portion (based on the recipe serving 4) is 11 points, which considering this is a complete meal is pretty good. This is broken down as follows: quorn sausages (3), mashed potato (4), butter/oil spray (1), cheese (2), baked beans (1).

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again, it is simple, tasty and filling and definitely a winner for us, we gave it a 9/10.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Quorn Egg Fried Rice


Hello all!

Finally back on board with the blog after time in Australia and then getting over the horrific jet log and over the obligatory 'post holiday blues'. Also after the awfulness that was the sweet potato loaf I feel like it was right and proper to back away from the experiment for a small time and then come back with a bang!

So here we have it....this recipe is from the 'Taste of Takeaway' section of the cook book and it worked very well indeed.

This recipe uses quorn fillets but would actually work perfectly well with pieces too - these are marinated in rice wine vinegar and grated fresh ginger (I suggest for as long as possible, overnight ideally - book only suggests they marinade while you cook). 

I cook a LOT of South East Asian food anyway so used my wok for this and also used my previous experience to ignore the recipe when it suggested that the first thing to do was cook off the eggs in oil until they are 'set but not coloured' like an omlette and then cut it into small pieces. I ignored this for 2 reasons - firstly to avoid the excess oil and secondly because it is entirely unnecessary and you can simply do it later (without needing to cut it up) and it saves time/washing I will explain...

So - really the first thing you need to do is cook the rice so it is ready when you need it in the recipe (sometimes I find the recipes in this book are a bit muddled about effective timings). Then you fry off the marinaded pieces/fillets in a wok or large frying pan with the garlic, spring onion, remaining ginger and the peppers until the pieces are heated through and the veg is stir-fried sufficiently (recipe says 6 minutes). 

Finally you toss in the cooked rice and fresh coriander and stir fry until it is all the same temperature and then you do the egg bit (technical terms!) like so - push all the cooked rice/quorn to one side of the pan and crack the eggs into the space (trust me on this), break the yolks immediately but resist the urge to stir for around 20 seconds then quickly mix back in the quorn and rice and stir fry for around 2-3 minutes.

This is what it will look like - you can see that the egg has made the rice start clumping together.

After this you will have perfect cooked and shredded egg mixed through the recipe. Doing it this way also means that the egg is completely integrated with the other ingredients and will be stuck to the rice like genuine egg-fried rice. This is just the asian way of doing it and believe me, it works and the egg cooks through very quickly indeed.

Here it is served:

In terms of weight watchers points, this is a pretty healthy dish and accordingly scores more points from me in this respect! The recipe serves 4 portions and each portion is 10 propoints, broken down as follows: quorn (2) eggs (1), rice 6, oil (1). 

We really enjoyed this dish although it is neither very spicy or intense in terms of the flavour, it is, however, tasty and easy to make and as seen above, it is pretty healthy too. 

This dish feels more filling than you expect it to be and it should also be noted that although the recipe calls for 300g of rice (raw weight) I only used 240g as I wanted each portion to be 60g for points purposes. I also knew that this was plenty per person in terms of portion size and I can confirm that it works perfectly well for 4 with this weight. If you are not dieting of course, feel free to use 300g for a more substantial meal.

We gave it 8/10 and I will definitely be making this again (maybe with some tweaks to the marinade for a more intense flavour). It is another example of how quorn works so well with marinades.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Hello all

Just wanted to say hi as I have been away for 3 weeks in Australia having a whale of a time and accordingly am very behind with this blog.

I will be getting back up to speed asap, I have one recipe to put on already (Quorn Egg Fried Rice) and am hoping to do another later this week (Sausage and Potato Pie).

Hope you are all well and enjoyed the good weather which we apparently missed, how come we are home and now it's raining again!? Sod's law!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Sweet Potato Loaf



This is most definitely not one of my favourites from the book. In fact, what happened with this recipe was me going hungry because I could not face eating more than half of my portion for tea and then the other half of the loaf getting ditched because neither of us wanted to contemplate it again.

Also, this is a rather complicated recipe in relation to the others in the book, there are a lot of ingredients in it and a lot of 'faff'. Like pre-soaking the bulgur wheat and grating the sweet potato/carrot/onion. 

I thought that once mixed it actually looked and smelled like it was going to be very tasty. This is what it looked like once cooked (I had intended to take a picture of it before I put the mix in the tin but I forgot):

In theory it should be very nice, containing the aforementioned grated veg, oats, bulgur wheat, quorn mince (a minimal amount) and bound together with egg and yeast extract. In reality it is not (in our opinion) particularly enjoyable on any level. In fact it reminded me of my first foray into vegetarianism in the early 90s when all nut roasts looked and tasted like this - dry, bland and uninspiring.

It also takes a LONG time to cook. 45 minutes in the oven had my husband crying out for food after he had run home from work, unfortunately thanks to all the faff involved it took about an hour and a half from start to finish. 

The final instruction was to let it stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out and serving but I was beyond patience by and left it for about a minute. Perhaps that is why mine crumbled when I tried to carve it into slices, as illustrated in the below picture of the dish served:

It looks like a pile of veggie stuffing and to be honest that's exactly what it tastes like.

I just did not like or enjoy any aspect of this meal and I won't be making it again. I guess every cookbook is going to have some recipes which just do not appeal and for us this is definitely one of them. 

I do think if you increased the volume of quorn mince, added some chopped dried fruit and maybe used cous cous instead of the (very bloating) bulgur wheat this might be more appealing - but I am still not sure I would want to eat a whole quarter as a portion.

In terms of weight watchers points this is pretty low at 6 points a portion based on the loaf containing 4 portions. This is made up as follows: quorn (1), egg (1), wheat (1), oats (1), oil (1), sweet potato (1).

Despite the low rating and health appeal I do not think I will enforce this on my husband or myself again! We gave it a 1/10 which may seem harsh but reflects how little we enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Quorn & Gnocchi Bake


This recipe was another pleasant surprise - one which we were not particularly relishing the prospect of trying but which turned out to actually be very nice. I do quite like gnocchi although it can be stodgy and I have had very good and very bad variations in the past. As this again involved a creamy cheese sauce I was also concerned about the calorie content, but it turned out lower in points values than I was expecting.

The quorn in this recipe is fairly minimal and for the first time seems to be more of an additional ingredient than the star of the dish. You can use either bacon or ham (as in the carbonara) and I chose to use ham here, cut into long strips. The sauce is a basic roux/bechamel base which you tip over the cooked gnocchi and wilted spinach before baking for around 25 minutes.

This is what it looked like when I put it in the oven:

And here it is once cooked:

I was a little worried that I ended up making the recipe with large gnocchi, about the size of a quails egg each, rather than with the smaller ones I had intended to. The recipe does not specify either way, just stating 400-500g in weight, but I felt that the smaller version would have worked best. As it happened my online grocery shop substituted the ones I had ordered for these giant ones but actually it worked very well. 

I used stork to make the roux sauce (butter, flour, milk and cheese) as I had no butter in, this meant that it actually came in at slightly lower points values but the sauce worked perfectly well with this substitution so I would do this again next time to save points.

This recipe is very filling and although this served portion may look small it is actually a substantial amount:

One great tip from this recipe was to drain the gnocchi through the spinach (in a colander) thereby wilting the spinach quickly and effectively ready to whack it in the baking dish. I will definitely use that tip again, I am all for minimising washing up!

In terms of weight watchers points, based on the recipe providing 4 portions (which it does), each portion is worth 11 points as follows: gnocchi (6), cheese (2), flour (1), quorn ham (1), butter (1). This is surprisingly low in points for a main meal like this and tastes like it should be more - always a good sign!

We really liked this recipe and I will make it again, I will probably try it with smaller gnocchi to see how it compares. We gave this a 7/10.