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Simon Holst's quesadillas, green curry and mug cake recipes - 8 September


Green chicken curry

Five-minute chocolate mug cake


The Mexican equivalent of a toasted sandwich or pizza! Essentially, quesadillas are flour tortillas topped or filled with a cheesy mixture, then pan fried or grilled (open or sandwiched) until crisp - all in a very short time.

Grated cheese

A selection of 3-4 of the following:
Diced red onions
Chopped olives
Diced tomatoes
Diced red or green peppers
Sliced button mushrooms
Diced avocado
Diced cooked chicken or other meats.

Salsa or hot sauce (optional)

Flat Quesadillas
Brush the outer edges (which will not be covered with cheese etc.) of a flour tortilla lightly with olive or canola oil. Sprinkle the remaining surface with grated cheese, and several of the optional toppings, chopped into pea-sized pieces. (Don't use too much filling - less is often better than too much!) Sprinkle these on evenly, add a little salsa if you like, then sprinkle a little more cheese on top.

Heat the tortilla flat in a heavy frypan, grill it 5-8cm from the heat or bake it at 180degC for 5-8 minutes. However you cook it, the quesadilla is ready to be cut in wedges and eaten as soon as the tortilla has browned and crisped, the cheese has melted, and any other toppings have heated through. Cut into wedges using a heavy knife while still hot.

'Sandwiched' Quesadillas
To make thin, cheese-filled crisp tortilla "sandwiches," lightly oil two flour tortillas. With the oiled side out, put grated cheese (and any extra flavourings suggested for flat quesadillas) between them. Cut into quarters before cooking, for easier turning and handling. A sandwich press is the perfect way to cook these, but you can also pan fry or grill them, turning once, turning once to brown both sides, or bake (without turning) at 180degC for 5-8 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.

Cut the cooked quesadillas into smaller wedges soon after cooking, and eat while still warm and fairly crisp.

Green Chicken Curry

For such an easy dish, this Thai-style green curry served with plain white rice really is delicious! Curry pastes and preserved kaffir lime leaves which help give a distinctive fragrance, are now available from most supermarkets.

For 3-4 servings
2 tbsp canola or other oil
2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium potato, cut into 1cm cubes
3-4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into 1cm strips (optional)
300-400g boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cubed
3/4 cup coconut cream
2-3 zucchini, sliced
1/2 cup peas or green beans, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)

Heat the oil in a frypan or wok. Stir in the curry paste and cook for about 1 minute, then add the onion, potato and kaffir lime leaves, if using. Stir-fry for a further 1-2 minutes, then add the chicken and stir to coat. Pour in the coconut cream and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the green vegetables and water. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes in all, then add the fish sauce and sugar. Taste and add salt if required, then stir in the basil leaves if using.

Serve over rice garnished with a few extra basil leaves if desired.

Note: As this curry is very quick to prepare, put the rice on to cook before you start on the curry.

Five-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Yes, that is chocolate mug, not mud cake. This is my version of a recipe that I was emailed, where the mixture was stirred together, then baked in a coffee mug. I've moved away from this a little, but I'm still amazed how you can get such a good result in a short space of time. As the original version pointed out, it's a little bit dangerous as it does mean chocolate cake is only five minutes away any time of day!

For 2-3 small cakes:
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 Tbsp canola or other light oil
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

Measure the sugar into a small bowl, add the egg and oil and whisk until pale and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and stir just enough to combine.

Non-stick spray 2 microwave safe teacups or two 250ml or three 185ml (approximately) ramekins. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared containers, then place them in the microwave.

Cover with a square of baking paper or a paper towel, then cook on High (100%) power for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or until the centre of the cakes is firm.

Remove the cakes from the microwave, then tip them out of the cups/ramekins. Cool on a rack for a few minutes or enjoy immediately. Some yoghurt, whipped cream or icecream make the perfect accompaniment.