Work, kids, life… if you constantly feel that you’ve got far too much on your plate to spend hours in the kitchen, our favourite mum master baker, Nadiya Hussain, shows that you can be short on time, but not on flavour with quick and easy recipes that take the stress out of cooking and put the joy back into every mealtime.
PRUNEY GRANOLA BAKE
As my husband always says, there is nothing wrong with cake for breakfast, and I could not agree more. This has fruit in the form of prunes, and granola, with a cake in between. All it needs is a good cup of coffee, or strong tea in my case, and that’s not a bad way to start the day. Any leftover portions can be frozen.
100ml buttermilk (but if you don’t have buttermilk, which I don’t most of the time, you can make your own by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to 100ml of whole milk)
410g pitted prunes in juice, drained
125g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
200g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g of your favourite granola
If you are making your own buttermilk, do that now, to allow it time to thicken and do the science bit. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C. Grease and line the base of a 20cm x 25cm baking tin and be sure to grease the sides well too. Roughly chop the prunes, then put them into the tin and spread them out evenly. Put the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla into a bowl and give everything a good whisk, using a hand-held mixer, until the mixture is super-smooth and shiny – this should only take about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture over the prunes and spread out evenly. Top with your granola, pressing it gently down on to the batter so it sticks, and bake for 40–45 minutes. In the meantime you can get into your first caffeinated beverage. When the cake is ready, a skewer inserted should come out clean. Leave it in the tin for 5 minutes, then either turn it out or cut it into squares in the tin and scoop it out.
HARISSA BEAN PIZZA
This is one of those spur-of-the-moment breakfasts or lunches, for when you are unprepared and there’s not much in the freezer or fridge – though once you are done with these recipes, you will always have food in the freezer! But for those very occasional days, this is easy, delicious and pretty quick. It’s a really good way of jazzing up the humble baked bean. I’m using naan as my base, but you can use what you like, or simply whatever you have at home.
2 large naan breads (or pittas, or leftover bread)
2 x 400g tins of baked beans
4 teaspoons rose harissa
a handful of baby spinach/ 2 cubes frozen spinach
4 spring onions
Preheat the grill to medium high and have a baking tray at the ready. Place the naan breads on the tray. Open the tins of beans and get rid of any excess sauce off the top, then pour into a saucepan with the harissa and baby spinach, mix through and heat gently over a medium heat. Spoon the beans over the surface of each naan, and use the back of your spoon to create 2 little dips for the eggs in each one. Don’t be tempted to add too many beans. If you have any left over, just decant them into a Tupperware container and leave them in the fridge, ready to microwave for another meal. Crack 2 eggs into each naan, then chop the spring onions and sprinkle all over the beans and eggs. Don’t worry if the egg runs a little. Put under the grill for 5 minutes – this will just set the whites and leave the yolk runny, which is the way I like it. My husband cannot bear to eat runny eggs, so I would grill his for a further 3 minutes or at least until the yolk is no longer runny. Serve and devour straight away.
HONEY MUSTARD CHOW MEIN
Chow mein is the easiest thing to order, but even easier to make. I love the flavours of honey mustard, so I’m keeping it simple. I also whip-up a double batch and skewer half the chicken for the freezer, so if I have to make a quick lunch or need something to whack on a grill, I have the same honey mustard chicken, minus the chow mein. If you don’t want the extra in the freezer, simply halve the ingredients in green.
10 chicken thighs, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons runny honey
4 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
4 cloves of garlic, minced
a 2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sriracha sauce
oil, for frying
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
450g stir-fry vegetables
275g ready-made noodles
a large handful of fresh coriander
50g salted peanuts, roughly chopped
wedges of lime
Put the chicken thighs into a large bowl with the honey, mustard, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt and sriracha, and leave to marinate. Place a large non-stick frying pan or wok on the hob on a high heat. Add the oil and, when it’s really hot, add the onions. When they are very brown, add half the marinated chicken, putting the other half into the fridge for later.
Continue cooking the chicken on a high heat, and when it is cooked through, add the stir-fry veg and the noodles and mix together, before lowering to a medium heat for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just a little bit soft, but still crisp. Take off the heat, sprinkle with the coriander and peanuts, and serve with a wedge of lime – and I’m always tempted to add another dash of sriracha or if the kids like it mild reduce according to taste. Once you have eaten, put the marinated chicken from the fridge on to skewers and pop on to a tray to freeze. When frozen, take the skewers off the tray and put them into a bag to store.
If you have made a double batch of chicken put half of the marinated meat on to skewers and pop on a tray to freeze. When frozen, take the skewers off the tray and put them into a freezer bag to store. Defrost fully when needed, then cook in a preheated oven (220°C/ fan 200°C) for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
Photo credit Chris Terry. Recipes taken from Time To Eat by Nadiya Hussain (Michael Joseph, HB, £20), out now.