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Lamb Biryani

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This horrible weather just makes me want to stay at home and eat comfort food! Last night I had a real hankering for Indian food with it’s rich comforting flavours. Luckily I had some organic lamb leg steaks in the fridge, and half an enormous cauliflower. I was struck with a great idea – lamb biryani using cauliflower instead of rice. I also threw a bit of kale in there for some extra greenery, fibre and nutrients. I also happened to have half a can of coconut milk left over from something else, so in that went too! The resulting dish was exactly what I was after! Tasty, satisfying, easy and pretty quick.

Lamb Biryani (serves 2)
Ingredients:
2 lamb leg steaks, trimmed of excess fat and cut into cubes
1/2 large cauliflower, finely chopped
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1″ piece ginger, finely chopped
6-8 large kale leaves, tough stems removed and leaves chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 can coconut milk
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
Sea salt

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan and once really hot, add the lamb and sear. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.
Add the onion to the remaining fat in the pan. Sauté until soft.
Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry until fragrant.
Add the vegetables, lamb and spices and salt to taste and stir well so that everything is mixed and coated with spice.
Add the coconut milk.
Cover and simmer for 10-15 mins until the cauliflower is well cooked, but not mushy.
Remove the lid, break the cauliflower up with a spoon so that it resembles rice grains.
If there is quite a lot of liquid in the pan, turn the heat up and reduce until the dish is fairly dry.
Just before serving, stir in chopped coriander/ cilantro leaves.

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Oriental Glazed Roast Duck

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I’m not even going to bother apologising for the length of time since my last post. Things have been a bit crazy – there was a death in the family so I had to travel to the US for the funeral. Since I have been back, I have been doing stuff to get myself organised for my Autumn of working on a cruise ship! So just to warn you now, I won’t be doing much cooking between now and December so I won’t be posting many recipes. Sorry! Instead I shall be sunning myself on the ship and sightseeing around the Mediterranean by day and dancing by night!

We had a friend from Canada staying with us for the weekend, so I decided to buy a whole duck to cook for dinner tonight. It always amazes me how much fat comes out of duck! I now have two large containers full of duck fat in the fridge and a carcass in the crock-pot making stock as you read this.

Oriental Glazed Roast Duck (serves 4-5 people generously)

For the glaze:
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2″ piece ginger, grated
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1//8 cup sesame oil
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder
1 tbsp honey
Zest of 1 orange (reserve the orange for later)

1 whole duck
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
1/4 tsp salt
5 carrots, thickly sliced
3 red onions, halved

Preheat the oven to 200C
Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze in a bowl.
Bring the duck up to room temperature.
Place sliced carrots and onions in the bottom of a large roasting tin.
Remove any giblets from the duck’s cavity.
Sprinkle 1 tsp of Chinese 5 Spice inside the duck, then put the garlic and the orange inside.
Close up the cavity with toothpicks or skewers, then prick all over with a skewer.
Cover the duck on both sides with the glaze.
Place on top of the veg in the roasting tin.
Sprinkle with a little salt.
Place in the oven for 30mins.
After 30 mins, turn the heat down to 170 C, remove duck from the oven and baste with fat and glaze.
Return to oven for 1 hour (or longer if you have a really big bird), basting it occasionally.
When it’s time is up, remove the duck from the oven, cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 mins before serving with the delicious caramelised vegetables.

Rainbow Smoothie

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I have just returned from a lovely few days holiday in the country, staying in a big house with 90 acres of land with my family, boyfriend and a close friend of ours. My sister is really into making smoothies and inspired me and my friend to get decent blenders and get puréeing!

I was just out with a client who wanted to do a four mile run, so instead of taking my bike, I decided to do the run with him. When I got home, I needed a quick, easy and nutritious post-workout meal, so I came up with this smoothie, based on what I got in my organic veg and fruit boxes this week. I decided to beef it up with some organic grass-fed whey protein powder as it was to be a meal replacement, but this is entirely optional and really won’t affect the flavour or consistency of the smoothie.

Rainbow Smoothie (serves 1-2, generously)
Ingredients:

1 raw beetroot, sliced
1 pear, roughly chopped
1 cup chard, roughly chopped
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 frozen avocado
1 cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1 cup ice cubes
1 scoop organic grass-fed whey protein powder (unsweetened and flavour free)
1-2 cups water, depending on how runny you like it.

Put all ingredients into a blender and whizz for a few minutes until smooth.
Serve in a (martini) glass, put your feet up and revel in the fact that you are being incredibly healthy! (If you feel too virtuous, add a dash of vodka! Just kidding!)

Asian Veggie Salad with Coconut Dressing

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Another busy day today – dentist in the morning all the way across in East London (not very convenient, but he’s good) and then a belly dance photo-shoot in the afternoon which took a lot of preparing for (hair, makeup, assembling costumes, jewellery, sword etc…) It went well so hopefully I’ll have some good material for my new website.

I really didn’t feel like cooking when I got home, so I just chucked some chicken thighs in the oven and steamed some broccoli and cauliflower to go with it. Not terribly interesting. If only I’d had some of this salad left instead…

Asian Veggie Salad with Coconut Dressing (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:
400g green beans
400g sugar snap peas
500g asparagus
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 red chilies, finely sliced
1 cup coriander/cilantro leaves
For the dressing:
Bottom inch of lemongrass stalk
1.5 cm piece of ginger
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp honey
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 can coconut milk
1 large kaffir lime leave, hard rib removed

Steam the beans, sugar snaps and asparagus (I did each vegetable separately as my steamer is quite small and they don’t all take the same amount of time to cook). Keep checking whilst they cook to make sure they are still crisp. When they are just tender, remove from steamer and immediately run under cold water to stop them cooking further.
Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with a little salt.
Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender and whizz up until completely blended.
Pour over the vegetables, add the chilli and coriander and toss well so that everything is coated in the dressing.

Chinese Meatball Soup with Pak Choi

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I know I’ve been absent for a while again. Apologies for not keeping up with my posts. I’ve been short on time for cooking recently as I’m on a massive drive to build up business by September. I’ve decided to get back into the world of belly dancing which was my entire life (and my full time job!) for at least ten years. I have a couple of students coming to me regularly for lessons which I fit in around my personal training clients. I’ve had a few performances recently too. It’s made me realise how much I have missed dancing! So anyway I am trying to rebuild my dance business as well as trying to attract more personal training work too. Sadly, cooking and blogging has had to take a back seat whilst I do this. I’ve been eating a lot of salads and boring food such as roasted chicken breasts with steamed veggies. Not exciting at all, but quick, easy and nourishing.

This dish is another which was inspired by something similar I had on my travels around Southeast Asia (yup, still on the Asian food kick!) It was pretty simple to make and quite tasty. Feel free to add more garlic, ginger or some fresh chillies if you want a more intense flavour experience!

Chinese Meatball Soup with Pak Choi (serves 6)

Ingredients:
For the meatballs
500g pork mince
500g beef mince
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2″ piece of ginger, finely diced
Salt
150g shiitake mushrooms, finely diced
1 egg beaten
For the soup
4 spring onions/scallions, sliced on the diagonal
3 pak choi, halved
500ml chicken stock
3 tbsp coconut aminos
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
Toasted sesame oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 170C
Mix the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl.
Form into balls, place on a baking sheet and bake for around 25 mins
In a large wok, bring the chicken stock to a simmer.
Add the meatballs when cooked, the veggies and seasonings.
Allow to simmer until pak choi is tender but not over cooked.
Serve in bowls drizzled with some toasted sesame oil (and some fresh chilli if you like).

Asian Baked Salmon Wrapped in Pandan Leaf with Roasted Chilli Broccoli

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I’m feeling so exhausted today. Those of you who don’t know me personally probably don’t know that before I became a personal trainer, I used to be a professional belly dancer. Yes, you read that right! To cut a long story short, I had a dancing job last night in a casino for an Arabic event. I was supposed to dance at 11.45 (yes, pm!) but I ended up going onstage at 12.15 and finishing at 12.45! There was a time when I would have thought “great, an early finish” as I often used to finish at 3 or 4am! Nowadays I generally follow my bodies circadian rhythms not go completely against them. Therefore I am really suffering today, despite having had 8 hrs of sleep! I haven’t even had the energy to workout today. It has really driven home to me that I could never go back to that nocturnal, sleep deprived lifestyle! Once in a while is fine though.

This was a pretty simple and quick dish, and if you don’t have any pandan leaves to hand (let’s face it, unless you live in Southeast Asia, it’s pretty unlikely), you can just bake the salmon uncovered.

Asian Baked Salmon Wrapped in Pandan Leaf with Roasted Chilli Broccoli (serves 2)
Ingredients:

For the salmon:
1 shallot
1 1/2″ piece ginger, peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 red chilli, deseeded
1/2 tsp palm sugar
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp water
1 tbsp coconut aminos
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 salmon fillets
2 pandan leaves

For the broccoli:
1 head broccoli cut into florets
1 red chilli, sliced
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Himalayan salt

Put all the ingredients for the salmon except the salmon fillets and pandan leaves in a food processor and blitz until it forms a smooth but slightly runny paste.
Pour the paste into a ziplock bag, add the salmon and leave to marinate for an hour or more.
Preheat the oven to 170C.
Wrap each salmon fillet in a pandan leaf and secure with a toothpick. Place in an ovenproof dish.
Put the broccoli florets into an ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle over the chilli, salt and sesame oil.
Place both dishes into the oven and bake for around 20 mins.
Remove the pandan leaves before devouring the salmon (they aren’t edible, just for flavour)

Thai Style Stir-Fried Pork

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you that for a good long while the majority of my posts are going to be Asian inspired! This delicious stir-fry is kind of an amalgamation of several dishes I had whilst I was in Thailand and Cambodia. You could substitute any other veggies you have on hand.

Thai Style Stir-Fried Pork (serves 2-3)

500g pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1″ piece of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
200g tenderstem broccoli
3 medium shallots, finely sliced
2 ramiro peppers, finely sliced
2 red chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
Juice of half a lime
2 tsp fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

Melt half the coconut oil in a wok.
Add the pork and half the chilli and ginger.
Stir-fry until browned and any liquid has evaporated.
Add the remaining coconut oil, followed by the veggies and remaining ginger and chilli.
Cook until the veggies have softened.
Add the kaffir lime leaves and the garlic, stir-fry for a minute longer.
Add the fish sauce and lime juice.
Stir to make sure everything is coated and heated through.
Serve on it’s own or with cauliflower rice.