Thursday, July 18, 2013

cook simple - fresh meal ideas for busy lives - Sarah Bowman

Christchurch-based food writer Sarah Bowman wakes up thinking about what she is going to make for dinner – ‘simply because it is my favourite meal of the day. Weekdays are crazy-busy for our family. The evening meal is the only time in the day where we all slow down and come together at the table to enjoy each other’s company.’

As the busy working mother of four equally active children, Sarah Bowman understands the demands of creating delicious and nutritious meals on the run. In her household, weekday dinners are generally one-dish wonders packed with flavour, texture and nutrients that even the fussiest eater will love. ‘Weekends are an opportunity to unwind and slow down,’ she says. ‘We often have a house full of extra children, so meals need to be able to stretch to feed the multitudes.’

In Cook Simple, Sarah shares more than 80 recipes that have become Bowman family favourites; the focus always on fresh seasonal food, cooked simply with love. Whether it’s a busy week night when you need to a prepare fast, nutritious meal for the family or a more leisurely weekend brunch, lunch or special occasion, Sarah’s recipes are big on impact but come together with a minimum of fuss. In addition there is a no-fail array of chutneys, sauces and dips to have on standby as staples, and time-honoured recipes for breads and baked treats to help fill the tins and keep hungry children sated.

I must say it is hard to go past Fish Risotto, Herby Lamb Burgers, Chicken Schnitzel with Celeriac Remoulade, Roast Pumpkin Salad with Asian Dressing, Beer-roasted Lamb Shanks, Banana Fritters with Spiced Honey Drizzle or Kumara and Ginger Cake. These are just a smattering of the tempting recipes offered in Cook Simple, all of which demand to be cooked and eaten; with gusto! And there are another two below for you to try.

About the author.
Sarah Bowman is a trained dietitian and Otago University home science graduate, and in 2005 she launched Soul Food camps teaching Christchurch children how to prepare nutritious, great-tasting meals. She has a column in Taste magazine and credits coming from a long line of foodies and running a busy household for her own cooking skills. Cook Simple is her first cookbook. She has set herself a high standard for any more that might follow.


The publishers have kindly allowed me to reproduce the following two recipes from the book:

"Once you’ve made the green curry paste this is a lightning-quick dinner. The recipe for the paste makes enough for two curries, so freeze half and your next curry is only minutes away. If you prefer mild curries, halve the amount of green chillies in the paste."

Thai Green Curry with Fish

Serves 6
2 tbsp oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 dried chillies, crumbled
1 cup Green Curry Paste (see recipe below or use a store-bought paste)
400ml can coconut milk, plus about ½ can water
2 tbsp brown sugar
zest and juice of 2–3 limes
1 tbsp fish sauce
750g firm white fish, cut into chunks
130g baby spinach
250g green beans
steamed rice, to serve
1 cup coriander leaves, to garnish

Green Curry Paste
1 tsp each: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, fenugreek, all toasted
1 tsp ground turmeric
8 green chillies, stalk ends removed
2 stalks lemongrass, white ends only, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic
2 onions, roughly chopped
10cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp shrimp paste

In a large pot, heat oil and sauté onion, ginger and chilli. Add Green Curry Paste and
fry for 2 minutes.

Add coconut milk and water and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add brown sugar, lime juice and zest, fish sauce, fish and green vegetables. Simmer
gently for about 5 minutes or until fish and vegetables are cooked through.

Serve on steamed rice garnished with fresh coriander.

Green Curry Paste
In a food processor, whizz all ingredients together to form a paste.

Copyright line
Reproduced with permission from Cook Simple  by Sarah Bowman.
Published by Penguin Group NZ. RRP $45.00. Copyright text©Sarah Bowman, 2013. Copyright photography©Stephen Goodenough, 2013

"This may seem like a complicated recipe, but it’s really simple to make and the chicken can be marinated and poached a day ahead. Tasting like a health tonic in a bowl, it’s a great salad to make after a trip to the farmers’ market."

Lime Poached Chicken Salad

Serves 6
5cm piece fresh ginger, julienned
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely sliced
zest of 2 limes
½ cup roughly chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp sesame oil
6 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Poaching Liquid
juice of 2 limes
2 Kaffir lime leaves
2 x 400ml cans coconut milk
400ml water
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar

approx. 120g baby spinach leaves
1 cucumber, halved lengthways and sliced, or 6 snack cucumbers, sliced
200g mung bean sprouts
1 cup roughly chopped fresh coriander
1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
2 spring onions, julienned

Use a mortar and pestle or a food processor to make marinade ingredients into
a paste.

Place chicken in a ceramic dish, cover with marinade and refrigerate until required.
This can be done a day ahead to let flavours develop or, if pushed for time, just before

Mix together poaching liquid ingredients.

Place chicken and marinade ingredients in a large pot or frying pan with a lid. Pour
poaching liquid over chicken. Cover with the lid and bring to the boil, then reduce
the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn heat off and leave to continue cooking in
poaching liquid for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time!

Remove from heat and set aside until cool enough to chill. Remove the chicken and
chill. Strain the poaching liquid into a jug and chill. This can be done a day ahead
of time.

To make the salad, shred the chicken and toss with the salad ingredients. Drizzle with a
little fragrant chilled poaching liquid and serve.

I made this dish for dinner last night and it was superb. Below is a photo of my dish alongside the photo in the book! Wine match - Greystone Waipara Valley - Sea Star Riesling 2011.

Copyright line
Reproduced with permission from Cook Simple  by Sarah Bowman.Published by Penguin Group NZ. RRP $45.00. Copyright text©Sarah Bowman, 2013. Copyright photography©Stephen Goodenough, 2013


  1. Hi Graham,
    Thanks for taking my cook book for a test drive! Your Lime Poached Salad looks delicious. I can't believe you've matched it with my all time favourite Riesling - Sea Star from Greystone. It's one of Dom's 'Winemaker Series' and is as rare as hen's teeth - lucky you!
    I hope you enjoy cooking your way through Cook Simple.

    Kind regards,


  2. Put rice on serving plate or bowl. To accentuate there is XO sauce in the rice put a small dollop of XO sauce on top of the rice.