Fast and filling

Michele Guinness serves up a stir fry and fruit pudding – ideal for an Alpha supper or unexpected guests!

I have concentrated on cooking for the hungry hordes this month - partly because for many of us it’s the start of the new Alpha season, (manifestly, the church’s equivalent of the football season!) and what do you make for what might be ten people or a hundred, (if there’s a real move of the Holy Spirit)?  Well it all depends on faith - and good planning!

The other reason for mass production in the kitchen is that if you live anywhere vaguely near a university or college, students are arriving in their wide-eyed, face-the-new-world mixture of excitement and fright, and, of course, every year they’re that much younger.  And I’m a year older!  I’m certainly at that age when friends I haven’t seen for years ring up, from across the globe, to tell me that their baby has left home and landed almost on my doorstep.  And my heart melts. 

What would I want if it were my offspring?  Why, hospitality and a weather eye, of course. So they come in half dozens, looking for the comforts of home. Then I never see them again - except across a crowded church - until the following March, when the fun of junk food is wearing thin and they’re desperate for a cracking good meal again.

Here is a fast, throw-together, fairly economical, mild and spicy dish that goes down a treat, and has the vegetables thrown in. The secret is to cook your meat in small batches in a hot wok (not only does it cook better, you can keep on adding more as you need it.)  And don’t tell my Jewish Mama that I’m giving you pork recipes!

The prolific rhubarb plant finally breathes its last at the end of August. What to do with the final crop, that’s the question, especially when the freezer is already bursting with the stuff?  The beauty of this recipe is that it’s no-fail, and delicious hot or cold.  Don’t worry that there is ground ginger in both recipes.  You won't taste it in the casserole.

Stir Fry Pork with Noodles

Serves 15

2 kg (4lb 8oz) diced lean pork

3 bunches of sliced spring onions (using the green part too)

3 large red  peppers cut into strips

500 g ( 1lb 2oz) carrots, sliced thinly

500 g (1lb 2oz) sliced mushrooms and/or halved sugar snap peas, and/or broccoli florets as desired

8 tbsp soy sauce

8 tbsp dry sherry

4 tins coconut milk or 500g (1lb 2oz) creamed coconut

3 tsp or cubes of chicken stock powder (add a little water if using creamed coconut or not enough sauce)

3 tsp ground ginger

3 tsp Thai spices or Thai curry paste

salt, pepper and garlic


  • Season the pork with salt, pepper and soy sauce.  Heat a little olive oil in a wok and fry in batches on a high heat for around 5 minutes a batch.  Remove and set aside.
  • In a large casserole, gently fry the spring onions, carrots and peppers for around 2-3 minutes.  Then add any other vegetables as chosen, and cook for around 5 minutes. 
  • Add the pork and all the sauce ingredients, and allow to simmer gently until the vegetables can be bitten into comfortably (but are still just crisp).  You can thicken the sauce if required by adding 4 heaped tsp cornflour, mixed into a liquid with a little water.



Rhubarb Brown Betty

Serves 15

2 kg (4lb 8oz) chopped rhubarb

Rind of 4 oranges and juice of one

100 g  (3.5oz) dark brown sugar

1kg (2lb 4oz) wholemeal or granary breadcrumbs

150 g ( 5oz) demerara sugar

220 g (7oz) good quality margarine - without trans fats.

2 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

  • Gently stew the rhubarb with the orange rind and juice and the dark brown sugar until it is soft. This can be done in a microwave.  It takes around 10-15 minutes on a high setting for that amount, but keep turning the fruit.  Remove and pour off  some of the excess juice.
  • Meanwhile, fry the breadcrumbs in the margarine and demerara sugar in batches until toasted.  Stir in the spices.
  • Put a layer of the crumbs in the bottom of a large, greased oven-proof dish (to mop up the rhubarb juice).  Cover with the stewed rhubarb, then finish with a deep layer of breadcrumbs.  Bake for 20 minutes or so on 200° C, 400° F, or Gas Mark 6 - uncovered to let the top crisp.
  • Alternatively, no need to cook at all.  Simply layer the fruit and toasted crumbs in a see-through dish.
  • Serve with vanilla yogurt - delicious!