Tomatoes, fried rice, noodle soup and banana bread

Not all in the same dish but all scoffed today. I’ve been stuck at home waiting for a delivery. Apart for moaning rather loudly, I used the time to do home food. We picked two very red tomatoes off my daughter’s tomato plant. She was given the plant as a tiny thing from Greenslade nursery and over summer we have watched it grow. It survived the move to Scotland and has in fact flourished with many new tomatoes appearing on the plant even though I’ve not been feeding it. The tomatoes at the bottom appeared rather early but took forever to turn red – mainly as I had them indoors and didn’t know they need to be out in the fresh air and sun to redden.

Anyway, here we are – a tomato salad according to my daughter consists of errr, ummmm, tomatoes!

She nibbled one before reminding us that she in fact, did not eat tomatoes (unbeknownst to her she does as mummy hides tomatoes in sauces). So hubby and I ate the “salad” with a sprinkling of sea salt. Not the tastiest tomatoes we have ever had but easily the best if you know what I mean.

Next step was egg fried mushroom rice and tofu for daughter’s dinner – so yum that I had to have a small bowl too. A good way to use day old rice. Easily made by frying spring onion and ginger in a large frying pan, adding mushrooms and cooking until they reduce, add the rice and stir carefully to prevent it all sticking together but to make sure all the rice is covered with the mushroom mixture . Push mixture to the side and add in the beaten egg mixed with a little toasted sesame oil, scramble it then combine with rice mixture and cook for a few minutes more. I added a little dash of dark soy to improve the taste and colour. She scoffed a lot with a side dish of fried tofu.

Dinner for hubby and I was a noodle soup. It’s an impromptu dish I’ve made a couple of times with what was available in the fridge. Today we had spring onions and ginger fried, added a thinly sliced orange pepper, some pak choy, sweetcorn (kernels not baby sweetcorn as i find that tasteless) and mange tout. The soup was made with a big glug of Gourmet Garden Thai Fresh Blends mix and about a cup of water. I cooked this for about 5 minutes on medium heat then added in fried tofu, and some thick straight to wok udon noodles and dark soy sauce. Cooked until the pak choy had wilted. At first I didn’t really like the Gourmet Garden taste – it was too bland especially compared to the  Schwartz Lemon Grass, Ginger and Coconut tube I’ve used before. However, as it cooled, and with a dash of light soy sauce, it improved.

We would have had a lot more tofu for the soup but my little one loves the stuff straight out of the packet and just as much fried. She thought it was hilarious to sneak past me all afternoon nicking bits and stuffing them in her mouth.

The Gourmet Garden sent me hurtling back to my youth – while I was trying to google whether it is vegetarian, a restaurant came up called the Gourmet Garden in Hendon. I grew up in a flat that was directly opposite the restaurant and could see it and a lot more of the high street from my window. Silly things like this always bring a soppy tear to the eye.

This is turning out to be a long post and it’s not over yet. I’ve been promising to make banana bread for a few days. A lot of stay at home mums I know make banana bread and as long as you don’t have it every week, it’s bloody tasty. I’ve already scoffed a fifth of it – so a huge thankyou to my friend J.R. as she sent me her version of a Delia recipe. It’s fantastic. I’m going to have to work extra hard in the Zumba class tomorrow night!!

Stuffed pointed red pepper

I normally stuff bell peppers but tonight tried out some pointed red peppers and now they are my favourite. The taste didn’t seem as strong as the bell and I liked the way it complemented the spicy filling


  • 2 pointed red peppers
  • 35g brown rice (this is the uncooked weight).
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 1 medium brown onion diced finely
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tbs groundnut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 green chili chopped finely
  • 1 tsp salt (nimak)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (murcha)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (hurder)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin coriander powder (dhana jeeru)
  • Lemon juice to taste


  • Wash and dry peppers. Chop off stalk end and then cut a slit along 3/4 of the length of each pepper. Take out the seeds
  • Cook the rice according to the packet instructions and allow to cool. Day old rice would work very well.
  • Peel and dice the potatoes. Cook until you can just slide a knife in but they aren’t mush. Allow to cool.


  • Pre-heat oven to 185 degrees centigrade (200 degrees if non fan oven)
  • In a saucepan, heat oil over medium flame. Add the cumin seeds
  • Once seeds are sizzling add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add ginger and chili and cook for a further minute
  • Add the spices
  • Stir in the rice, potatoes and lemon juice and mix well
  • Allow to cool slightly
  • Stuff the peppers with the mixture making sure you shove it into the pointed end
  • Place on an oil baking tray with the stuffed part on top (so the stuffing doesn’t fall out!)
  • Cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the pepper skin softens and starts to blacken slightly
  • Serve with a large salad

Kecap manis – vegie fried rice

I like new ingredients especially vegetarian. Recently when looking for new recipes for toddlers, I came across Aussie website Fresh for kids which has lots of tasty recipes (not all vegie either!)

The very vegie stir fried rice caught my eye, firstly because it is not in fact vegie since it includes ham, but secondly because it included something new to me: Kecap manis. This is indonesian soy sauce. This gave me an excuse to go to the local Thai supermarket for the first time. A whole new world. The soy sauce was available in small bottles and very cheap.

I decided to ignore the recipe and do my own.

All vegetable ingredients chopped very finely

2 cups basmati rice. Ideally works with cold rice. But I cooked mine about half an hour beforehand and let them all cool out on a large plate.

2tbs groundnut oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium red onion

1tsp grated ginger

1/2 red pepper

1/2 green pepper

10 frozen green beans

1 cup sweetcorn

1tsp turmeric

1tsp kecap manis (more added later to taste)

1/4 tsp salt

2tsp sugar

1/2 tbs lemon juice

  • Heat oil in heavy based large frying pan
  • Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle
  • Add the onion and let cook until browning at edges and beginning to carmelise
  • Add all the veg, turmeric and salt. Let mix cook for 5 minutes stirring often to prevent sticking
  • Add the kecap manis. As this is a new ingredient for me, I erred on side of caution with the amount.
  • When the veg are cooked, slowly fold in the rice (no need to be gentle if rice is cooked and cold)
  • Stir in sugar and mix very well.
  • To finish off, stir in lemon juice.

I ended up adding more kecap manis once I had combined the rice as I didn’t think there was enough there.

This is a very mild recipe suitable for tot (ignore that it has salt and sugar!). My husband and I ate it with a healthy dash of salt on top. We had it with chopped up sausages (mine vegie, his pork ones).

Mushroom pilau

This recipe is suitable for young children as it has very little spice in it.

1 cup basmati rice
1tbs groundnut oil
1tsp cumin seeds.
1 large clove garlic crushed
1/2 inch ginger grated
1 medium onion chopped into small pieces
1 stick cinnamon
10/15 closed cap mushrooms
1/4tsp tumeric
1/4tsp salt
3 cups water

  • Wash the basmati rice until water comes out clean. Soak rice in cold water for half an hour
    Warm the oil in a pan over medium heat
  • Add the cumin seeds and wait for them to sizzle then throw in the onion and let it cook until caramelised. 
  • Add ginger, garlic and cinnamon stick. Cook for half a minute.
  • Add rice and make sure it is fully coated with onion/oil mix
  • Add salt and tumeric and stir well
  • Add mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes continually stirring so rice does not stick to the pan.
  • Add the water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until water is absorbed. Check the rice is fully cooked, if not then add a bit more water and simmer.