Monday, 27 August 2012

This last week - Fast Days - Tuesday 21st and Friday 24th August 2012

Two fast days this week, Tuesday and Friday.  Breakfast was the same both days, a bowl (roughly 2 cups) of chopped fresh fruit.  If I have planned a very low dinner then some more fruit for lunch.  Dinner is my main meal, if I don't eat in the evening I am ravenous during the night so this suits me better.

Tuesday 21st

Sweet potato roasted with Frylight, with a green salad and a crumbling of feta cheese. 188 cals.

Friday 24th 

Poached chicken with runner beans, fresh peas, tomato and a couple of new potatoes. 359 cals. 

This last week - Feast days - Saturday to Saturday 18th-25th August 2012

Busy old week, and I've had raging face-ache for most of it, so feeling very sorry for myself.. ah well, a girl has still got to eat, hasn't she?

These are most of the feast day dinners this week (plus a couple of dead boring pasta ones...).  On the Horizon programme, they call them "feed" days against "fast" days for the limited calorie ones, but I like "feast" better. Gives me more of a sense of making up for the "starving" days...

Saturday 18th

Not in much of a mood for cooking today but I really did fancy something fresh and veggie based. So some of the cold griddled peppers from Thursday, some more fab Peruvian avocado, a few new potatoes and some green salad.

Sunday 19th

Still not cooking much. Poached Smoked haddock, new potatoes, carrots and peas.

ah, its Sunday. Pudding today.. I made individual creme caramels to have with some raspberries.

Monday 20th 

Another largely vegetarian day - avocados with bacon today, with a lovely heritage tomato and ridge cucumber salad, with fresh thyme and parsley.

and since that was very light and delicious, I rewarded myself with another creme caramel with raspberries... 

Thursday 23rd 

Noodle salad with shredded carrots, cauliflower and radish

Saturday 25th 

I really couldn't be bothered to cook anything interesting today. Griddled vegetables, some roast potatoes and sweet potato, and then I found some smoked mackerel and the rest of the feta in the fridge. So that got stuck on the plate. It didn't go. It was just food...

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

5:2 Diet - Fast Day BBQ Chicken Drumsticks & salad - Friday August 17th 2012

Did you happen to see the BBC Horizon programme on intermittent fasting, and how it can help your health?  Really interesting (video has been removed from YouTube and BBC but you may find it in an archive somewhere)

Anyways, I watched it. And, in the company of more than one food blogger, I decided to give it a go. As you will know if you have read my various blogs, I have battled with my weight since time immemorial. Certainly since I gave up smoking about 20 years ago. I have never been able to stick with a diet for long enough to make real inroads into my excess weight, because I feel so deprived all the time. I want to cook.  I want to bake. And I want to eat what I cook and bake. Because what is the fun in cooking and not eating it? None, I'm telling you.

So this idea that by cutting your calories right down to the bone (roughly 500 cals) on 2 "fast" days of the week, whilst eating what you want on the other days, sounds really attractive. I know that basically it is just averaging out to what you would be eating on any other diet, but to be able to say to myself "Don't worry about it, you can eat that tomorrow" is so inspiring to me. Not "you can eat that in around 4 years time" but "tomorrow" .  Wow!!! . 

I kicked off on Wednesday with a very simple salad with a small portion of left over Portuguese roast pork from Tuesday, no pics, cos I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep to it, and didn't want to announce to the world what I was doing if it lasted all of 14 hours. But it was really none too bad at all. So today I am repeating the experience.

I stripped the skin from some chicken drumsticks, pressure cooked them with some chicken stock and onions, and then roasted them with some Jack Daniels barbecue sance that I was lucky to win in a competition from Eat In magazine. With a measured quarter cup of basmati rice, and a green salad, the meal came to 266 cals (as calculated in My Fitness Pal). Added to the fruit salad I had for breakfast, with a spoonful of Total Greek Yoghurt and a few flaked almonds, the entire day totalled out at 443 cals.

And it was only 24 hours until the next day and eating whatever I wanted. Hurray!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Griddled Vegetables with Avocado - Thursday August 16th 2012

I was so delighted to receive a box of delicious Peruvian avocados.  I honestly think these are the best avocados at this time of year, and they are so good for you!

I like to taste the texture of the avocado, these are buttery and smooth, and I don't like mashing them to a pulp. So the trick is to discover what I like alongside them as much as mixed into them  One of the sandwiches I liked the most at the launch party at the Dorchester recently  was the one with roasted red peppers. So today I matched my avocado with roasted vegetables and a green salad.

I simply lightly oiled and seasoned sliced red peppers, aubergines (the large black ones and some smaller purple streaky ones), cherry tomatoes and courgettes, and griddled them until cooked through. I have a nice square Le Creuset griddle pan that works brilliantly for vegetables like this. You can also roast them in the oven, but then you don't get the smokiness that the charred stripes give.

When they are cooked let them cool to room temperature and then just arrange on the plate with green salad and the avocado scattered over. Yummy!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A Family Feast - the Puddings Tuesday August 14th 2012

A Family Feast wouldn't be a feast without puddings would it?

I've been on a bit of a retro vibe recently.

Treacle tart was requested by my husband (his favourite of choice at the moment...)

I know that Izzy likes fresh fruit and icecream, if she doesn't like anything else, so we had fresh Pakistani honey mangoes with lime.

and my retro fancy was for a proper crème caramel, made in one large dish, rather than in little dariole moulds. 

I just caught it in time, it was starting to inflate and bubble a little at the edges, but the centre was still ok, just the odd bubble here and there to spoil things, but beautifully  smooth and unctuous. 

A Family Feast - Portuguese Citrus Roast Pork, with Roast Veggies - Tuesday August 15th 2012

I love to cook for the family when they come over, Rebekah and Clinton love my food, and it is truly delightful to feed them, to force-feed the poor souls in fact.. I wonder if they ever feel like a goose being crammed for foie gras?

I unearthed a favourite way of cooking pork I haven't made for a while now.  This is a Portuguese method using lemon and orange juice with white wine to tenderise and flavour the pork, the marinade also makes a delicious gravy.  Roast Mediterranean vegetables and olive oil roast potatoes with rosemary, and roast sweet potatoes complete the plateful.   Oh, and Dan Lepard's Semolina Buns to soak up any runaway juices..

Seconds anyone?

Pudding - Clemengold in Caramel with Clementine cake and a fat dollop of Yoghurt..Monday August 14th 2012

Delicious leftovers for pudding today... Clementines in Caramel, some Clementine cake and a very fat dollop of Total Greek Yoghurt with Clementine zest. mmmm

Frugal! Reduced Steak Pie - Dirty but Delicious! Monday August 14th 2012

Dirty but delicious ... a bought steak pie, from my precious Sainsbury cheaps counter, down to 99p for a family size.  With cauliflower from the International Supermarket, who seem somehow to be able to sell me a GINORMOUS cauli for £1.15 where Sainsbury's want £1 for one a quarter of the size..

With some very healthy counteract all that lovely puff pastry...

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Retro Dessert time! Caramel Clementines with vanilla icecream. Saturday August 11th 2012

First dessert using Clemengold clementines (there will be several in the days to come, there are a LOT of clementines in my box..) I decided on a retro classic I haven't had for years.

Clementines in Caramel Sauce

It used to be a stalwart of Italian restaurant dessert trolleys - and for all I know, may still be in the lovely old fashioned Italian restaurants where the waiters brandish braggadocio pepper grinders and drag you to your feet to dance just as your dinner arrives at the table.

They are not difficult to make. The zest is stripped from them first, either using a zester or by peeling them, paring the soft pith from the inside of the zesty outside and finely shredding the zest. Then peel all the pith and stringy bits away from the fruit. Put the fruit into a serving bowl.

Blanch the shredded zest by boiling in water to cover for about 5 minutes until softened, and then make a caramel using a splash of the zesty water and caster sugar - I use about 200g of sugar for 5-6 fruit. The caramel wants to be quite dark, the colour of good maple syrup. This is then diluted with a little more of the zesty water (be careful, wrap your hand in a teatowel and add slowly, it will froth and may splash), the juice of a couple more clementines,  maybe a little alcohol of your choice, a little orange flower water. Add the zest back into the syrup and cook for 5 minutes or so, then pour the hot syrup over the little peeled clementines. piling the zest up on top of each one.

Chill and serve with vanilla icecream, greek yoghurt or whipped cream as you prefer.

Clementine Glazed Carrots with Chicken and Roast Potatoes - Saturday August 11th 2012

On Friday I received an amazing gift of South African ClemenGold clementines to use in various recipes.

Stunning shiny golden orbs, I love clementines. More acid yet sweeter than a lot of the small citrus in the shops, I think they lend themselves to lots of different uses.

Apart from scarfing half a dozen of them in the half hour after they arrived, I decided that the zest would work beautifully with some salty butter and a splash of orange vinegar to make a sticky glaze for the carrots to serve with simple roast chicken thighs and crunchy olive oil roast potatoes.

Chorizo Paella - Friday August 10th 2012

I love a plate of savoury, sticky ricey goodness. This is a kinda paella, with chorizo and pancetta, peas, broad beans and mushrooms. Made in the paella way in a frying pan as I don't have a paella pan..

Anyone for seconds?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Lovely Lamb Chops & Runner Beans - Thursday August 9th 2012

It is probably my favourite dinner.

Lamb chops. Runner beans and peas. New potatoes. Madeira gravy. Mint sauce.


Fish Pie and Runner Beans - Wednesday August 8th 2012

It is so hard to make a fish pie look attractive when it is on the plate.  It just looks like a creamy slushy mushy thing. But honestly , this was delicious.

I made it low fat, as I had watched The Hairy Bikers new diet programme The Hairy Dieters, and thought, they are right you know, it shouldn't be that hard to just keep things lighter, and maybe end up less "lardy" as they put it.. Not everyday, I mean tomorrow I have lamb chops. I'm not likely to be stripping off the fatty yumminess of them, but there are certainly some things that can stand a little tweaking.

So I made the sauce with skimmed milk and without butter, no butter in the mashed potato topping, lots of herbs and spicy seasoning from TZ., no cheese on the top. And it was good!

Crispy OliveOil Roast potatoes and Avocado Salad - Tuesday August 7th 2012

For some reason I wasn't in the mood for any meat today. Nor eggs, cheese or anything proteinaceous.

So just crispy, mouthwatering roast potatoes with a nice crunchy lettuce and carrot salad, and a smooth, silky Hass avocado (my current faves) , tomato, cucumber and lime juice salsa alongside.

Fresh doesn't come much fresher..

Monday, 6 August 2012

Quick Roast Pork Loin, Roast Potatoes, Fresh peas & cabbage - Sunday 5th August 2012

Hard when the weather is close, I don't always want to heat the oven for the time it takes to cook a lovely piece of slow roast pork, but the potatoes only take 45 mins once they are parboiled. I can cope with that.

So this is crispy crunchy olive oil roasted potatoes, with a grilled pork loin steak, fresh peas and cabbage, and a tasty gravy made with my favourite gravy mix Bonne Maman's Madeira gravy (I first heard of this when Gary Rhodes recommended it in one of his Rhodes around Britain books..not sure which at the moment, I'll have to go and check..  Much tastier than most gravy mixes) 

Not had roasties for a while now.... mmm... have to have them again I think. (p.s. the three left over ones in the fridge didn't make it through the evening... ooops.)

Crush Lemon Dressing Roast Chicken with Hass Avocado, Tomato & Coriander salad - Saturday 4th August 2012

Not very hungry today, so just a light dinner of ready-roast chicken, glazed with Crush lemon dressing and a   swizzel of honey and heated through on a high heat in the oven until nicely crispy and hot. With a simple sliced Hass avocado (loving the ones from Peru right now, really good quality. They don't have the hard parts that you can find in some of the cheaper ones, so are well worth the extra few pence)  and a light tomato, cucumber, red onion and coriander salsa, dressed with fresh lime juice.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Simple Cold Roast Pork and Salad - Friday August 3rd 2012

Sometimes it is easier just to put food on a plate and eat it.. today was cold roast pork from a packet, hot boiled new potatoes and a simple mixed salad.

Plonk and eat.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Mat Follas' Poached Turbot with broad beans, peas & samphire - Wednesday 1st August 2012

Fabulous find at the fish counter at Sainsbury's today, selling whole baby turbot reduced at the end of the day, so I got a whole fish for a fiver. Amazing value really, when you consider that it should have been around £15.

Never having cooked a whole turbot before, I hurtled over to Twitter and the lovely Mat Follas from The Wild Garlic restaurant in Beaminster, Dorset advised poaching in a mixture of milk/water and serving with a caper sauce. Trick is not to let the liquid do more than shiver (circa 80 C ) and not to overcook the fish.

I served it with a lemon and caper butter sauce made from some of the reduced cooking liquid, acidulated and then with the curds strained out, thickened as a beurre blanc with unsalted butter and a fat spoonful of nonpareil capers.

Delicious, and so pretty on the plate.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Braised TZ Carib Beef with Carrots, Celery and Cabbage. Monday July 30th 2012

"Why, " said my husband plaintively,  "are we eating wintery food in July?"

No answer really, other than that the brisket was starting to look a little freezer burnt on the edges, so needed to be used up. About a kilo of beef brisket in the piece, I braised it in the pressure cooker for an hour and a half, with onions, garlic, carrots and celery,  a can of chopped tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans, a tablespoonful of TZ's Carib seasoning, and a heaped teaspoon of Tickety Boo for added yumminess.  Cut into fat slices with lots of cabbage and some new potatoes to soak up the good red liquor...

And in keeping with my frugal side, we had the rest on Thursday shredded and mixed with the sauce, even more Carib spice in it to make it more of a chili con carne, but with more flavour than just using chili spice. 

Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb, Roasted Glazed Onions - Sunday 29th July 2012

Hard to make this look elegant, but it is really delicious. A boned shoulder of lamb, roasted really slowly wrapped in foil for around 5 hours, until the meat falls apart in sticky lumps.  With onions, boiled until tender then baked in the oven alongside the meat with a glaze of thyme vinegar and spiced apple jelly, new English runner beans and new potatoes for some light veggie freshness.

Flammeküche with Salad - Saturday July 28th 2012

Flammeküche - fab name isn't it!

It is an Alsatian French/German dish (called Tarte Flambé on the French side of the border) that is often made with bread dough, but equally as often with puff pastry which is this version.  Simple, just ready made puff pastry rolled out into a square, the edges squared and the trimmings used to make a border, spread with a seasoned mixture of sour cream and ricotta, topped with sautéed  ready cubed pancetta and some shallots or onions, baked for 25 mins until the edges are nice and brown and the pastry looks cooked.  Then dollop some more ricotta on top and serve with salad.

I reckon about 40 mins top to bottom.