Friday, 29 April 2011

Twenty minute meals

Many people shy away from cooking for themselves because cooking is thought to be a very time consuming business. But there are many ways to make good, healthy and delicious meals in no more than twenty minutes.
One great meal that can be made in twenty minutes is stir-fry meat and vegetables with pasta or noodles. Any type of or Chinese noodles or pasta will do for this recipe. The process of producing either Chinese noodles or pasta is virtually identical. When buying the pasta or noodles make sure that you buy a quality product. The ingredients of the pasta should be durum wheat semolina.
Many cuts of meat are suitable for stir-fry. Chicken provides a good low-cholesterol alternative to red meats. Many supermarkets and butchers sell beef and chicken ready cut into long thin strips specifically for stir frying.
Lemon juice is one of the best marinades available for meat. Squeeze a juicy lemon over the meat before you start and let it stand. Add a little soya sauce the Chinese or Japanese soya sauces are best to add flavour and colour.
You may use a variety of vegetables as part of the stir fry. The main rule is to cut everything into thin long strips - about the same length as the meat. Carrots, baby marrows, sweet peppers, spring onions, red cabbage, mushrooms and bean sprouts add colour and flavour to the meal. Pineapple cut into strips adds sweetness and counterbalances the herbs and chillies. Cut a fresh tomato into strips and keep in a separate bowl as these are added at the end. Add some parsley and any other available herbs to the mixture.
Olive oil is ideal for stir frying. Use only enough to cover the surface of the pan. For flavour, crush a few cloves of garlic into the olive oil. Fresh herbs - parsley, coriander, rocket, and rosemary - may be chopped and squeezed into the oil as well. Optionally, add some freshly chopped chilli, ginger and paprika. Add some whole or ground coriander seeds and ground black pepper.
Heat the oil over a gentle heat while a large pot of salted water is heated to boiling point.
Once the water boils add the pasta and stir. Turn the heat of the stir-fry pan or wok to full. When the pan becomes very hot add the meat and stir. Add the vegetables and stir. As soon as the meat or chicken changes colour (within 60 to 90 seconds) it is ready to eat! Add the fresh tomato and stir in some soy sauce.
Some excellent soy sauces are available at Chinese shops at very low cost. The best of these do not contain MSG. A dark soy sauce imparts a rich dark colour to your food.
Cover the pan and remove from the heat. Once the pasta is ready, drain the water and add a little olive oil. Toss well and add the stir-fry mixture. Mix well and distribute generous portions. Serve with a fresh green salad.
The longest part of the preparation is in the chopping of the meat and vegetables. Both are usually available ready chopped. Use the pre-prepared ingredients with pleasure as long as they are fresh.
Stir-fried food is lightly cooked retaining all of the flavour and nutrients of the ingredients. Once you have pre-prepared meat and vegetables and boiling water the entire meal can be prepared in less than ten minutes or as long as it takes to cook the pasta.
Experiment with different vegetables, herbs and spices.
A variation is to mix the herbs and spices with the soy sauce into a paste. Cook this gently with the tomatoes and add to the mixture at the end.

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