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Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Delicious Light Lunch

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Mama and Papa Gorgeously Grain-Free came over for lunch the other day. I knew I was going to make the Chorizo Meatballs from Diane Sanfilipo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox, but the vegetable accompaniment was completely dependent on the contents of my veg box which had been delivered that morning. I have to admit I was slightly disappointed when I opened it up to find 2 large heads of chicory and a bag of watercress (amongst other things). Neither are my favourites, however I was suddenly hit by a moment of inspiration to combine the two into a salad with some crunchy toasted pecans and a light and refreshing blue cheese dressing. Sorry all you Paleo people, but you will have to substitute some homemade ‘baconaise’ dressing (which would no doubt be equally as delicious).

Watercress and Chicory Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing and Toasted Pecans (serves 3)
Ingredients:

2 large heads chicory, quartered lengthways
3-4 cups watercress
Handful of pecans, toasted in the oven, under the grill or in a dry frying pan
For the Dressing:
2 heaped dessert spoonfuls Greek yogurt
Juice of half a lemon
1 cm thick slice blue cheese
Salt and pepper

Whizz all dressing ingredients in a blender.
Arrange watercress as the bottom layer in a serving bowl.
Arrange the chicory quarters on top.
Drizzle dressing on top.
Squeeze the toasted nuts in your hand to break them up and sprinkle over the top.
Grind a little fresh black pepper over the salad and serve.
Easy peasy!

January Blues

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Last night the weather was horrendous! The rain was fairly heavy, but the wind was blowing so hard that the rain was coming down horizontally (therefore blowing into my face as I was teaching bootcamp). Only two hardcore dudes were brave enough to venture out into it! The ground was really squelchy too, after all the snow melting into it. Nice! After that less-than-pleasant experience, I wanted something tasty and fairly quick to take away the January blues when I got home!
This little baby did the job! If you are hardcore Paleo you can omit the mozzarella or replace with some fresh basil leaves.

Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breast (serves1)
Ingredients:

1 organic chicken breast, sliced widthways and butterflied
3 slices organic prosciutto di Parma (aka Parma ham)
3 slices organic buffalo mozzarella
A drizzle of EVOO
sea salt and pepper for seasoning.

Preheat oven to 180C.
Butterfly chicken, open it out and season both sides.
Lay 1 slice of prosciutto on one side of the opened up chicken breast.
If using, layer all slices of the mozzarella on top of the ham.
Close up the chicken breast and wrap remaining ham around it.
Secure chicken breast shut with 2 toothpick.
Drizzle a little EVOO in an ovenproof shallow dish and place chicken in it.
Bake at 180C for 30 mins.
Serve with some steamed green veg tossed in melted butter. Delicious!

An American Classic gone grain-free

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It’s a horrible blustery, rainy day today and the ‘joys of Spring’ I felt yesterday have completely disappeared! Bootcamp tonight is going to be most unpleasant! Wet and muddy!

I may have been born and raised in London, but my mum is actually from Pennsylvania, and my grandmother hailed from Birmingham, Alabama. So I grew up eating a mixture of Pennsylvania Dutch and Southern dishes. One of my favourite comfort foods is meatloaf. It’s a very easy dish to make ‘Paleo-friendly’ and it is delicious and satisfying, especially when served with mashed turnips and cavolo nero or kale (it’s not easy to find collard greens in the UK!)

Meatloaf (serves 6)
Ingredients:

500g pork mince
500g beef mince
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
Bunch of fresh sage leaves, chopped
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
Sea salt
Pepper
1 tsp mustard powder (gluten free)
1 tbsp coconut flour
1 egg, beaten
For the tomato sauce
50 g tomato paste
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp allspice
3 tbsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 180C.
Place meat and all other ingredients (except the ones for the tomato sauce) in a large bowl and mix well using your hands until everything seems evenly dispersed.
Tip mixture onto a baking sheet covered with foil and lightly greased with a little oil or fat of your choice.
Form into a loaf shape with your hands, making sure it is uniform in size and shape so that it cooks evenly.
In a separate small bowl, mix together tomato sauce ingredients.
Completely smother the top of the loaf with the sauce.
Bake in the oven for 1hr 10 mins
Serve with root veg mash and steamed greens.

Spring is in the air

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Well it’s a beautiful morning here in West London, although supposedly it’s going to rain later on. The birds are twittering in the trees, the squirrels are scampering up and down my trellis and my spring bulbs are coming along nicely! It’s starting to feel like Spring may not be too far away (after last week’s “big freeze”). I’m sure I will have spoken too soon though and we will have more snow in February.

I’m a big fan of salads for lunch at any time time of year. Last week’s veg box contained lots of good ingredients for hearty, filling salads, so this is what went into one of my lunches last week.

Rainbow Salad with Tuna (serves 1)
Ingredients:

2 handfuls mixed baby leaves
4 slices raw red cabbage
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 mini orange pepper, sliced (you could substitute with 1/4 of regular orange pepper)
2/3 to 1 whole can tuna steak in spring water, flaked (depends how hungry you are)
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning
For the dressing:
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Create a bed from the mixed baby leaves. Layer on the veggies and then the tuna. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Season to taste.
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the top.
Job done!

Best chocolate ice cream ever!

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I know it was only a couple of days ago that I posted a recipe for vanilla ice cream, but this chocolate one I made the weekend before last was too good not to share with you. It is not Paleo but you could easily substitute the milk and cream for coconut milk to make a strict Paleo version, and I’m sure it would be just as delicious.

Chocolate chocolate chip ice cream (serves 4)
Ingredients:

200ml double cream
200ml whole milk (substitute both milk and cream with full fat coconut milk for a Paleo version)
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
7 medjool dates microwaved in 3 tbsp water
2 heaped dessert spoons cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids), chopped
1/8 tsp salt

Heat the milk and cream (or coconut milk) in a pan, but don’t let it boil.
Blend cooked dates and water into a purée.
Beat egg yolks, add in dates, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder.
Pour hot milk mixture onto eggs, mixing constantly.
Return custard to pan and cook on low heat, stirring all the while until custard starts to thicken. Do not let it boil as it will curdle.
Allow to cool completely then chill in the fridge or an ice bath.
Churn custard and chopped dark chocolate together in ice cream maker until it reaches desired consistency. Transfer to freezable container and freeze until needed.

Quick and easy weeknight meal

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During the week I’m all about quick and easy meals, however I’m not willing to compromise on taste. This roast duck was not only delicious, but very quick and easy. Get the cabbage cooking first if you like your duck still pink inside and your cabbage soft. If you prefer your cabbage to still have a little crunch, get the duck in the oven first. This dish, to me, epitomises winter comfort food. The spices in the cabbage remind me of Christmas!

Roast Duck Breast with Braised Red Cabbage (serves 2)
Ingredients:

For the duck:
2 duck breasts
1 tbsp Chinese 5-Spice powder
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 180C.
Rub half of the 5-spice powder over the bottom of the duck breasts and season with salt. Place in an ovenproof dish.
Make diagonal criss-cross cuts about 2cms apart on the skin. Only go as deep as the meat, don’t actually cut through the meat. This will help to release the fat and helps the skin go crispy. Rub the remaining spice powder over the skin side of the duck breasts, pressing it into the diagonal cuts.
Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven.
Cook for 25-35 minutes, depending on how you like it cooked.

For the cabbage:
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
2/3 of a large red cabbage
A generous knob of butter
1/8 tsp allspice
4 juniper berries, roughly chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp water.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.
Then add the cabbage and apple. Stir well to coat with the butter.
Add the spice, juniper, vinegars and water,then season with salt and pepper.
Put the lid on and let the cabbage cook in the steam from the juices over a medium heat. This can be left to simmer on a low heat for up to an hour if you want the cabbage really tender, however make sure it does not boil dry or burn.
Serve with the duck breasts. Don’t you dare not eat the delicious crispy duck skin!

Pie on my mind!

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I had a terrible craving for pie on Sunday! I can definitely tell I’ve been having too many treats recently, as I can normally get over cravings like this. I had intended to make an apple pie, however when I went to the farmers market to buy my apples, the apple-growers weren’t there due to the snow. I was devastated, but determined nonetheless to make my pie, so I trudged on in the snow to my local convenience store where I was able to find canned peaches in juice. Not very seasonal, I know, but I had to have pie! The crust is made from coconut flour, a little coconut sugar, grass-fed butter and egg whites (left over from the vanilla-date ice cream I made earlier, recipe to follow). It would also have been nice made from almond flour, but as I’ve explained before, my boyfriend has a serious nut allergy, so not an option unless I want to deal with a very sick man (I’ve seen the results of him eating almonds and it ain’t pretty!)

Peach Pie (makes 1 pie of 24cm/9.5″ diameter)
Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour
2 tbsp coconut sugar/crystals
1/8 tsp salt
100g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites (you could use 3 whole eggs instead)
1/4 cup cold water
3 cans peaches, drained, juice reserved

Preheat oven to 170C.
Stir the coconut crystals and salt into the flour. Add the melted butter, the eggs, vanilla and then if the mixture is still quite dry, the water. It should form large crumbs which stick together when pressed.
Press 3/4 of the crust mixture into a pie dish. Make sure you go all the way up the sides of the dish. You want the crust to be fairly thin.
Prick the bottom all over with a fork and place in the oven for 10 mins to blind bake.
Remove from oven and fill with the canned peaches. If the peaches have been really well drained, you may wish to pour a little of the reserved juice over, but this can make the crust go soggy.
Fork through the remaining crust mixture to make small crumbs and evenly distribute over the top of the pie as a kind of streusel topping.
Bake in the oven for 40 mins.
Serve warm with vanilla-date ice cream.

Vanilla-date ice cream (makes around 500-600ml)
Ingredients:

12 deglet nour dates
100ml single cream
300ml whole milk
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod
Pinch of sea salt

Pit the dates and place in a saucepan with the milk and cream and vanilla pod. Heat over a low flame until almost boiling.
Remove dates with a slotted spoon and whizz to a purée in a blender or food processor.
Briefly whisk the egg yolks, then mix in the date mixture. Slowly whisk in the hot cream and milk, reserving the vanilla pod.
Wash the saucepan and then transfer the custard back into it.
Cut the vanilla pod open and scrape the seeds into the custard.
Cook on a medium to low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens into a proper custard. DO NOT LET IT BOIL!
Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover and leave to cool completely for a couple of hours.
Once cool, churn in ice cream maker until desired consistency.
Transfer to freezer safe container and freeze until needed.

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