Lunch- Couscous, Roast Vegetables and Halloumi .

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I love the squeaky halloumi cheese, really love it. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water, yes, really. It is a bit strange as I hate anything that squeaks when touched and am not a big salt fan. Nobody else in my house likes the squeaky cheese so it has become part of my work day lunch. I have experimented with the best ways to cook, store and reheat it and keeping it in small slabs. It is best microwaved in the slab too and then cut up for eating.

I am not going to write out a recipe for this lunch as it is pretty simple. Just roast some of your favourite vegetable with a hint of seasoning ( I like piri piri) and olive oil. Remember they shrink down a fair bit, so do plenty. I have been eating this weeks veg with couscous, halloumi and beetroot added after it is warmed. It is rather delicious and keeps me happy.

So my recent lunches are-

Roast Vegetables, couscous and halloumi.

Black Bean Stew.







My Lunch Always Attracts Attention. This Week Black Bean Stew.

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I have recently moved branches ( I work on the counter of a major bank). This move has brought lots of interest in my lunch and what I have brought. I have been making for pretty decent lunches for a long time now and don’t really think about it and it has never occurred to me that others might want to know how to make what I have. I cook while doing dinner, I find that it doesn’t feel like a chore.

I am a vegetable lover  and also a healthy eater. I love to have a good serve of vegetable at lunch time. I make a portion of whatever I am cooking that will last three days. I find that the best amount of time for food to stay fresh and not drive me crazy. I often have the main component in different ways. A stew like the one below can be served with rice, put in wraps or any other way that takes your imagination.

Talking of healthy, I am also embarking on a new adventure. For about 18 months I have been walking for exercise and I have made a big leap and signed up with a personal trainer, the marvellous Tim at Studio72 . This leap has lead me to think about keeping up my healthy eating and sharing my ideas.

This week I will mostly be eating …….


Black Bean Stew -

  • Servings: 3-4
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1/2 tbsp neutral oil

1 medium onion chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp honey

1 tin black beans in spring water drained

1 tin of tomatoes (I like Wattie’s crushed and sieved)

A splash or two of hot sauce (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a medium saucepan or fry pan.

Add onion and cook until just getting soft.

Then add garlic and cook until onion is translucent.

The spices go in next, add and stir.

When they are fragrant add the honey and cook for a minute, stirring continually.

Add the beans and mix.

Tip in roughly a 1/4 c of the tomatoes and cook until liquid reduces.

Add the rest of the tomatoes, splash of optional hot sauce and salt and Pepper.

Cook with the lid off for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When it has thickened cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Allow to cool in the pan, this will help the beans soften.

When you are ready to eat it, heat covered for around 1 1/2 minutes in a microwave.

It is good with sour cream, sprinkle of cheese or coriander . You can eat it as a soup too.










Lunch Panic And I Must Fill The Oven Up – Cornmeal Loaf.

I inherited this need to fill the oven when it is on. I blame my maternal grandmother and my mother. These moments result in some interesting rushed bakes and generally the results are good. This cornmeal loaf was a good one and I need to record my slap dash recipe on here so I can make it again.

I have toasted thick slices in the sandwich press at work and enjoyed it with a good wedge of Whitestone Brie. The cheese with the chutney baked into the middle made for a tasty lunch.

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The above photograph is two thick wedges cut into quarters, just enough for a good lunch. I used Barkers Red pepper and Chilli Jelly for the sauce.

Cornmeal Loaf -

  • Servings: 4 -6
  • Print

Line a medium size loaf tin with greaseproof paper

1 1/2 c plain flour

1/2 cornmeal (fine)

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 c grated tasty cheese

1/2 c sweetcorn (frozen is fine)

1 egg lightly beaten

1/2 c canola oil

1/2 c milk

2 tablespoons of your favourite chutney/sauce

( you can also add smoked paprika, chill flakes or anything else you think will go nicely)

In a large bowl mix flour, cornmeal , baking powder and salt.

Stir in cheese and sweetcorn until coated in dry ingredients.

In a jug mix egg, oil and milk.

Add we to dry and stir until just mixed.

Put mix into prepared tin.

With  a knife gently make an indent down the length of the mix in the middle.

Fill the indent with your chosen sauce, push in a little if you need to.

Bake for 25- 30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the tin and enjoy.


“Write about cheese”, she said-The Collective NZ Chipotle Haloumi.


Last night I really wanted to blog something but drew a blank. I consulted my friend Liz and was told to write about cheese. It didn’t occur to me until I was eating my lunch at work today that I had some cheese I really wanted to talk about. That is the above, the brilliant squeaky cheese with a kick from the ever fabulous The Collective NZ.


I love haloumi and I love spice. This Collective NZ Chipotle Haloumi cheese was made for me and my work lunches. Haloumi heats up well. I either fry it in a bit of oil until brown on both sides or put it down the end of a tin of roasting vegetables and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes  (let it sit for a bit before trying to get it off the baking sheet). I like to cut it into thick wedges down the narrow side. When I reheat it in the microwave I put it on top of my quinoa and veg, I only warm it all for around 1 minute and I rip the cheese into fork size pieces before eating.

This cheese has a smoky taste with a good kick. I have only tried it with roast vegetables and quinoa, it was excellent. I now want to try it with a good homemade lamb burger, my mouth is watering just thinking about that idea.

Look for it in the shops, give it a try. I hope it stays around forever.

(This is not a sponsored post)

Israeli Couscous, roast vegetables and haloumi ~ another lunch.

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One of the things I have come to realise is that I really love my ‘Emma’ lunches. I get to make food that I really like and I get to eat it at work in peace. There is no dog looking longingly, no cats wanting the cheese and no kid. Not even a husband sorting through the pile and looking for the meat, there isn’t any meat either.

At my work place we have Hari Krishna food, it is great but I like to keep it as a treat. With my lunch made I have 3 days food, I find it doesn’t taste so nice after that and I have picked all the best bits out. I think the best bits is the key to your own personalised lunch, make it with the bits you love, let yourself have all the bits you like and enjoy.

My new favourite thing is Israeli Couscous or Pearl Couscous, you should be able to just see the little balls of lovely in the above picture. There are various ways to cook it and I have found that I like to brown it a little, like when you cook risotto. Then I cook it in vegetable stock, adding more stock as it boils off. I used about 1 cup of couscous here and about 1 1/2 c of vegetable stock. I don’t flavour the couscous as there is enough going on  elsewhere.

This Wiki page is a good guide.

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I also roasted some vegetables in olive oil , yes, you have guessed it, the veg I love. I am also a seasonal buyer and do not purchase anything not grown in New Zealand unless I have to. I check the origin of all fruit and vegetables along with the price. I find that price is a good way to figure out if it is locally grown. Anyway, back to the roast veg, when it is all nicely good I add it to the drained and slightly al dente couscous along with a bit of the residual veg/olive oil juices,

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To this lunch I added one of my favourite things, Haloumi. I know I harp on about the company but I love The Collective Dairies cheese because it keeps it shape when fried and heats up nicely in the microwave. I cook up a whole block in slices for my lunch, a couple of bits vanish into my mouth straight out the fry pan.

When it comes time to eat, I chop the cheese up, put it in first, top with the couscous and veg. I microwave it for around a minute, I like it room temperature or just warm and find everything stays together nicely. I also add salt and pepper and any fresh herbs I happened to bring with me. Mint or coriander are favourties.

I think I may have said this before, embrace your lunch, make it yours and enjoy.

Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals,Gorgeous Greek Chicken, herby Vegetable Couscous and Tzatziki, p38

ImageHe managed it in 18 minutes, we are getting closer but there is a but, but he used ready-made tzatziki as we had it in the fridge.
The adjustments we made were
–    Not using dill, it isn’t family friendly
–    Next time, flatten the chicken more. NZ breasts are larger than UK chickens.
–    Pulsing the vegetables for the couscous is a really good idea
–    You can always add herbs to your own plate if the are served separately

It was very tasty, there was rather a lot of couscous. I bumped it out with the rest of the feta and had it for lunch at work. Bonus really.

I am not going to publish the recipe as most libraries will have the book or you can get it yourself, it is rather good. This made a lovely lunch. I would recommend the book.

Another Jamie meal –