The Cookbook

A collection of favorite recipes

Archive for the 'Small Meals' Category


Posted by Sylvia on 4th August 2009

In an attempt to regain some street cred, I decided to make gyoza for my creation today.

2 parts flour, 1 part water.
(I used 2 cups of flour and a cup of water to make around 2 dozen medium sized gyoza)

Boil the water and then let it cool for about five minutes and then pour it into the flour, stirring it in. Mix it with the spoon and let it cool enough to handle, then knead it for about 5 minutes until it feels soft and pliable like your earlobe.

Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for an hour.

Roll it into a long snake and then cut it into one inch pieces.

About one quarter of a cabbage
500g ground/minced pork
1/2 of a medium sized onion, finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar.

Chop up the cabbage really fine, sprinkle with salt and let it sit in a collander/sieve for an hour. Rinse off the salt and squeeze out the liquid.

Mix all the ingredients and allow to rest for 30 min. Stir well before using.



Roll your chunks of dough into circles with the edges nice and thin.

Place a teaspoon of filling in the center and then fold the dough in half to make a half moon. Pinch the edges together to make little pleats. Make sure they are well sealed. Place each one on a tray with plenty of flour to make sure they don’t stick. You can leave them to rest until dinner time or even freeze them at this point. (If you freeze them, don’t thaw them before cooking, just double the cooking time.)


Heat a frying pan or wok to medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil (or mix sesame and cheap oil if sesame oil is outrageously expensive like it is here). Place the gyoza (making sure not to crowd them) and allow them to fry for a few minutes until the undersides are becoming golden. DO NOT FLIP! Just make sure they are not sticking to the pan.

Add cold water, enough to come almost up to the pleated edges of the gyoza and put a lid on the pan. Allow to steam for 3-6 minutes, depending on size and how nervous you are about cooking pork through.

Remove the lid and fry for a few minutes more, until all the water has evaporated. Remove from pan and serve immediately with soy sauce for dipping.


Yum. :)


Posted in Appetisers, Asia, Japanese, Main Course, Small Meals, Unclean | Comments Off on Gyoza

Lime and Ginger Salad Dressing

Posted by Sylvia on 25th November 2008

This dressing comes from Pioneer Woman’s recipe with the enchanting name of “My Most Favourite Salad Ever. Ever, Ever, Ever!

It’s a pretty basic mix, linguine noodles mixed with lots of good veg: cabbage, spinach, peppers, bean sprouts, carrots etc. The real winner in this recipe is the dressing. I think what makes it interesting is the large amount of raw ginger, which gives the dressing an unexpected bite.

Pioneer Woman’s Lime and Ginger Salad Dressing

Juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped
More chopped cilantro-LOTS

I mix the whole thing in my mini-food processor and then it’s easy to add to any salad going or even as a coleslaw dressing – although Connor seems to love the idea of cold noodles as a salad. I guess because his mom never really did the American style pasta salads.

Posted in Asia, Salads, Side Dishes, Small Meals, Unclean, Vegetarian | Comments Off on Lime and Ginger Salad Dressing

Algerian Chicken and Chickpea Soup

Posted by Sylvia on 5th November 2008

I’m addicted to the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks – they do a whole set of cookbooks focusing on specific cuisines which I’ve been slowly collecting as I find them. My latest is Moroccan and the Foods of North Africa. This is the first recipe I tried from the cookbook and both Cliff and I really enjoyed it. I think Connor would too, which makes it a big winner! I made a few minor modifications (poaching the chicken means it’s more tender and more importantly means less calories, I added a touch of spicy harissa which perked up the flavor) but this is pretty much the recipe as found in the book.

Algerian Chicken and Chickpea Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 350g chicken breast fillets
  • 1 large brown onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1½ teaspoon harissa (or add ½ teaspoon paprika and chile powder to taste, this should be a mild dish generally)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 35g (quarter cup) plain flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2x300g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2x400g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  1. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add a touch of salt and then add the chicken and turn off the heat. Leave the chicken in the water for 20-30 minutes, or almost until cooked through. Cool; shred chicken coarsely.
  2. Head the remaining oil in large saucepan; cook onion, garlic and ginger, stirring, until onion softens. Add spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant.
  3. Add flour; cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles and thickens. Gradually stir in stock and water; cook, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.
  4. Add chickpeas and undrained tomatoes, bring to a boil; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
  5. Add chicken and lemon; stir soup over heat until hot. Just before serving, stir in fresh coriander.

Recipe makes 6 servings at 288 calories per serving – but we ate two servings as a main course. :P

Posted in Main Course, Small Meals, Soup, Unclean | Comments Off on Algerian Chicken and Chickpea Soup

Quick Crepes

Posted by Sylvia on 10th August 2008

If you are making crepes for dessert then add a bit of sugar to this – or even a touch of sweet liqueur like Cointreau.

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • oil
  1. Beat eggs thoroughly. Blend in melted margarine and milk. Stir in flour only until smooth.
  2. Lightly brush a pan with oil. Heat over medium heat.
  3. Pour in 2 tablespoons of batter and tilt pan carefully so batter covers entire bottom of pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Posted in Appetisers, Small Meals, Unclean, Vegetarian | Comments Off on Quick Crepes

Double Corn Spoon Bread with Chiles and Cheese

Posted by Sylvia on 3rd August 2008

I’ve never been very fond of corn bread. It’s not something I disliked, not on a par with broccoli, certainly! I just didn’t see any real point to it: dry and boring. I was astounded to find out that rich and creamy polenta was the same thing: what a much better use of corn meal.

But then when making American-style dinners for people, it seemed like I should offer corn bread: it’s so quintessentially American and the ingredients are readily available in Europe (unlike corn tortillas!)

The El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook has a couple of different cornbread recipes which I remember working my way through when we lived in Dorking, so Connor was probably too little to even try a bite!

That’s when I discovered their double corn spoon bread with chiles and cheese and fell in love. I’ve been making it for dinner parties ever since.

This makes a very large batch but I’ve found the leftovers are great for lunch the next day: quickly grilled and served with lots of butter. They don’t do cream-style corn in Spain but I just used tinned corn and a bit of cream and it turns out just fine. Maybe even nicer.

6 long green chiles
8 eggs, well beaten
2 16-ounce cans cream-style corn
2 cups (8 ounces) grated medium-sharp cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese or a combination of both
1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground.
2 4-ounce jars chopped roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained.
⅔ cup cultured buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
5 pickled jalapeño chiles, stemmed and minced (about ⅓ cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

In the open flame of a gas burner or under a preheated broiler, roast the long green chiles, turning them, until they are lightly but evenly charred. Steam the chiles in a paper bag, or in a bowl, covered with a plate, until cool. Rub away the burned peel. Stem and seed the chiles and coarsely chop them. There should be about 1 cup.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375&#176 F.

Butter a 10- to 12-cup shallow casserole dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream-style corn, and cheese. Stir in the cornmeal, green chiles, red peppers, and buttermilk. Add the sugar, jalapeños, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and mix well. Transfer the batter to the baking dish.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and just barely set in the center. Serve hot or warm.

Posted in Side Dishes, Small Meals, Southwestern, Unclean, Vegetarian | Comments Off on Double Corn Spoon Bread with Chiles and Cheese

Albondigas de Lina

Posted by Sylvia on 23rd July 2008

When Lina was first looking for extra work to do, she offered to help me in the kitchen. I tried to teach her to cook and showed her some of my simple recipes but it didn’t seem to go very well. Then one day when Cliff was in London and I was struggling to meet a deadline she offered to just make me something quickly. I agreed and left her to it. Half an hour later she served me the most amazing dish of meatballs in sauce. I stopped trying to give her recipes and asked her to make whatever she fancied – which has had a lot to do with my weight gain over the past few years. Anyone who has been to our house knows that Lina is an excellent cook – she simply isn’t very good at following someone else’s recipe.

Albondigas, the traditional meatballs in tomato sauce, continue to be a firm favourite of visitors and Lina probably makes it a few times a month during the winter. Full credit to Yvonne, who spent the morning in the kitchen following Lina around so that we could get this recipe.

Note: Lina doesn’t measure anything-ever as far as I can see but the recipe is straight-forward enough that you should be able to eyeball it.

She was a bit nervous about a list of ingredients at all, making a point of telling Yvonne that you should make it to taste rather than stick to the exact recipe. “She wants to make them like you do,” I told Lina. “She can but I change things all the time,” she said and proceeded to list variations. Leave out the garlic and add in onion. Use a different herb instead of parsley. Add grated vegetable like carrots or green peppers. Use pork instead of beef or a mixture of the two. This was, Lina said repeatedly, simply one way she made albondigas and certainly not the only way. Make it the way you like it best, she said.

She thought about it for a moment and then pointed at the sheet of paper. “But you have to add the sherry. That’s not optional.”

Albondigas de Lina

  • Minced (ground) beef
  • Chopped garlic (or onion or grated vegetable)
  • Chopped parsley
  • Sherry
  • Egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • Breadcrumbs
  • flour for dipping

Add all the ingredients except the flour in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands and then shape the results into meatballs. Roll the balls in flour to stop them from sticking. You can stop at this point and leave them sit out or even freeze them.

Pour about ¾ inches of oil in a large deep-sided pan and heat to a high temperature. Gently place the meatballs in the oil and allow them to fry, turning occasionally, until cooked, about 5 minutes.


Tomato purée
Fresh basil (whole leaves)
a little water.

Note: Lina uses “fried tomato purée” which I’ve seen for sale in the UK as passata. You could also use tinned (canned) tomatoes: cook until soft and then purée them.

Place the fried meatballs in a sauce pan and then add the tomato, basil and water. Don’t panic if some oil goes in the pan. Stir it all together making sure that the meatballs are well coated and the sauce nearly covers them. Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Posted in Main Course, Small Meals, Spanish, Spices, Unclean | Comments Off on Albondigas de Lina

Snow Baos

Posted by Sylvia on 21st July 2008

I made these at Christmas and no one laughed at my name! I thought I was being really clever. But at least everyone ate them up pretty quick. I bet you can just buy Charsui to use as a filling locally – I have to make mine. But the other great filling is separately added here as Bunny Bao – using this dough but very western (Easter) filling – everyone loves it.

Filling of choice (pork char sui or egg and bacon filling recommended)

For the dough:
• 400g / 14 oz. all-purpose white flour
• 1 packet (7g) dry yeast
• 2 Tbs. sugar
• ½ tsp. salt
• 220ml / a bit less than 1 U.S. cup warm water
• 2 Tbs. vegetable oil (such as canola, safflower)
• extra flour for rolling out

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients together well. Add the warm water a little at a time, mixing all the time, until it forms a shaggy ball. Add the oil and knead in the bowl until the dough cleans the sides. Place on a board (lightly floured if necessary) and knead until smooth. Form into a ball, place back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave until risen to about 2½ times its original size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the risen dough, roll into a snake and cut into 12 equal pieces. Make each piece into a small, smooth ball. Cover with a dampened kitchen towel and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Cut the parchment paper into 12 10cm / 4 inches or so sized squares.

Flatten a dough ball to about 12 cm / 5 inches in diameter, making the edges thinner than the middle part.

Place about 1 teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the dough circle. Don’t try to overfill or you will have trouble closing up the dough.

Gather up the dough around the filling, pinching to seal well. The dough should be moist enough to form a good seal, but if not brush the edges with the tiny bit of water and pinch closed again.

Flip the bun over, and gently form into a ball shape.

Place each bun on a piece of parchment paper, and place in a steamer well apart (they will puff up to about twice the size, and any touching parts will not be smooth). Steam for about 20 minutes. Eat while piping hot.

Yields: 12 dumplings

Time to make: 2 hr

Posted in Asia, Small Meals, Unclean | Comments Off on Snow Baos

Soba Noodle Salad

Posted by Sylvia on 19th July 2008

This is one of my favourite summer dishes and especially delicious if you can find good soba noodles! I’ve made it with coloured spaghetti in a pinch. If you are using soba noodles be SURE to wash them after you cook them. A Japanese friend of mine complains that Westerners make the most horrendous soba because we treat the noodles like spaghetti and barely give them a quick rinse. You should actually wash them in cold water to get the starch off, using your hands to move the noodles around the colander.

You can add the vegetables of your choice – spinach leaves, corn, chopped green peppers and even (cooked) peas – anything like that fits in just fine.

If you want to get exciting, add finely chopped garlic and ginger to the dressing.

75 g soba noodles
3 Tbs wakame (reconstituted)
5 tsp vegetable oil
1 large dash of soy sauce
1 carrot, julienned
75 g beansprouts or chopped cabbage or veg of your choice
1 green onion, chopped
1 part lemon juice
1 part soy sauce
1/2 part sesame oil

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water as per the packaging, usually around 5 minutes. Tip the noodles into a sieve and wash under cold running water, agitating the noodles to get rid of the starch. Allow to drain.

Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl and pour just enough dressing on top to coat the salad without leaving puddles. Serve immediately.

Posted in Japanese, Small Meals, Unclean, Vegetarian | Comments Off on Soba Noodle Salad

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