Category Archives: Recipes

Another office lunch – the ‘no pizza pizza’

I was struggling today to stay on my low carb track.  I wanted pizza.  Or a Pret a Manger chicken jalapeño wrap.  Both of which would have been way too many carbs.  Thankfully I managed to resist the temptation of both, and en route to Sainsbury’s was inspired to try making something that would give me the hot, spicy, tomatoey and cheesey thing that I was craving, but without the carb-laden base.

So here it is.  A ‘no pizza pizza’:

IMG_2102

This is what I used:

0000001128291_L A large vine tomato, thinly sliced

0000001763522_LHalf a pack of sliced, cooked chicken

0000001248692_L7 or 8 slices of pepperoni

0000001304893_LA whole ball of mozzarella

3076820005133_LSome black olives

8727200501046_L Some chopped jalapenos

0000001536850_L and a sprinkling of oregano

And this is how I made it:

Firstly, cover the base of a dinner plate with some olive oil, and lay the slices of tomato out on top, covering the plate.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Cook this on high for one minute.

Then add the slices of chicken, pepperoni and mozzarella.

Top with the olives and jalapeños, and then season with a little bit of salt and plenty of black pepper, and a sprinkling of the oregano.

Cook on high for 3 minutes.

Et voila!  No pizza pizza.

Advertisements

Cheesy Cabbage Bake

I like cabbage, in any of its forms.  But I particularly like it braised in lots of butter, with shallots and lemon. Tonight I took this a step further, and really enjoyed the result.  So much so, I could have happily scoffed the lot and left the meat I was serving it with!

This will give you enough for 3-4 depending on what other vegetable dishes you’re serving.

Ingredients

1 medium white cabbage, diced roughly (you want fairly large pieces, not little dainty squares)
4 – 6 echallion shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic
juice of a lemon
1 ball of mozzarella, diced
120g mature cheddar, grated
50g butter

Method

Boil the cabbage in salted water till it’s soft – about 5 minutes – and then drain (we’re not going for al dente here!)

In the same pan, melt the butter, then add the shallots and garlic (either finely diced or using a garlic press) and stir till softened and starting to brown.  Season with some black pepper.

Add the cabbage and stir together, and continue to cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes, till it starts to turn golden brown, and then add the lemon juice.  Cook for another couple of minutes on a medium heat, then stir in the diced mozzarella.

Tip all of this straight away into an oven dish, and cover the top with the grated cheddar.

Bake in a hot oven for around 20 minutes until the cheese on the top has turned a deep golden brown.

Celeriac and leek mash

It’s cold at the moment.  Although we haven’t yet had snow in the tropics of SW London it’s still very wintery, and comfort food is a very attractive option right now.  So I had shepherd’s pie on my mind when thinking about dinner on the way home from work last night.

I’ve used mashed celeriac before, but it doesn’t quite do it for me, for some reason.  But adding leeks makes all the difference.

It’s not the most common of vegetables, so here’s a picture of what it looks like:

celeriac

I used half a celeriac, weighing around 450g which amazingly, given that it’s a root vegetable, only comes to a total of 9.95g carbs.

Take a thin slice off the top and the bottom, and then peel the skin away and all the gnarly bits around the root.  Then cut it into small chunks, about the size of an Oxo cube, and boil in salted water for around 15 minutes, until it’s soft.  Slice two leeks (slices about 1 cm should be fine) and add these to the celeriac, and boil for another couple of minutes until the leeks are cooked.

Then drain the vegetables, let them steam for a little to make sure that there isn’t too much moisture on them, tip them back into the pan, and blend with a large knob of butter, salt and black pepper and a generous tablespoon of full fat natural yoghurt.

It was so delicious that I would have been happy to eat this without the mince component of the meal!

Sausages with Roasted Vegetables

Here’s something that is my ‘go to’ meal for days when I haven’t got the energy to stand in the kitchen faffing about with pots and pans.

I use The Black Farmer sausages, which are my absolute favourite.  Great flavour, really good texture and – even better – very low in carbs.  A pack of 6 sausages is only 4g carbs in total.

pagehead_premium

http://www.theblackfarmer.com/gluten_free_products/gluten_free_sausages/premium_pork_sausages

(I think you can buy these from most supermarkets – I buy mine from Sainsbury’s.)

This takes around 40 minutes to cook, so it’s not the quickest of meals, but once you’ve prepared all your veg, everything goes into one tin and just cooks itself without you having to stand over it in the kitchen.

The other great advantage is that you can use pretty much any veg that you might have to hand.  In this case, I used fennel, celery, shallots, and red and yellow peppers.

Although I made this quantity for three of us, there was veg left over – you could easily do this with two packs of sausages and little bit more veg to make enough for four.

Ingredients

1 pack of Black Farmer sausages
500g fennel
150g celery
100g yellow pepper
130g red pepper
135g echalion shallots
olive oil
salt and black pepper

Here’s what you do:

First, fry the sausages.  You’re not aiming to cook them through, just to brown them all over.

While they’re browning, prepare the veg:

1. top and tail the fennel a little, then slice lengthways into strips about 1.5cm wide (fennel is quite a tough vegetable, and so it needs to be thin enough tosoften and cook through properly)

2. wash the celery and then cut the stalks into lengths about 4-5cm long

3. de-seed the peppers and cut into quarters

4. peel the shallots and cut in half, lengthways

Put it all into an oven baking dish and mix together; season generously and give it a good drizzle with olive oil:

IMG_1991

Then tip in the sausages and mix into the vegetables.  Put the tray into the oven at around 200C/180C fan, and cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, stir everything around, scraping up any bits that are starting to stick to the bottom of the tray, and cook for another 20 minutes, till it’s nicely browned.

And that’s it!

IMG_1992

For the quantities given here, this totalled 28g carbs; so one portion was just a smidge over 9g carbs.

Cheese sauce – for my veggie friends!

I love cheese sauce. I love it on cauliflower especially, or on eggs mornay – a real 70s dish, and one my mum used to cook for me.

But for a low carber, it’s not a great option. Not only made with milk but also thickened with flour.

So here’s a version that is perfect for low carbing. High in fat but low in carbs, at a total of 4.5g for this quantity. And even better, it’s really easy to make.

There are just 3 ingredients:

300ml of double cream (a medium pot)
125g mature cheddar, grated (half a standard pack)
black pepper, to season

To make the sauce, simply heat the cream till it reaches boiling point, then add the cheese and stir together till it melts into the sauce, then season. It takes hardly any time at all.

For cauliflower cheese, pour the sauce over cooked cauliflower in an oven dish (this amount of sauce will be enough for a small cauliflower), and then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the top is browned.

Or, as an alternative, griddle or fry some leeks – chopped into 3-4cm lengths – until they start to char/brown, then put them in a dish with the cheese sauce and bake until the top is browned.

Actually, you can use it on any veg you like. Or over hard-boiled eggs, if you fancy a trip back in time!

Stir-fried pork, with mixed vegetables and waterchestnuts

There are three of us living in this house.  One of whom is my younger son who comes and goes at mysterious hours. Working in retail he never knows what his hours are, and as he works in one of those Big 4 convenience stores, it’s not unusual for him to be at work until 11 pm.

And like many of his generation,  although better connected than I ever was, communication about where he is, what he’s doing and when he’ll be home is generally initiated by me.

All of which means that when I’m cooking I never know if I’m cooking for two or three. For a meal to be eaten immediately or something that will keep.  So quantities tend to be a bit of minefield.

In the event, this recipe made enough for three. Thankfully!

Stir-fried pork

stir-fried pork

Stir fries are another wonderfully flexible meal. You can use pretty much whatever meat or veg you have to hand. What’s important, though, is to maximise the flavour of whatever you’re cooking. Mainly this comes, I think, from marinading the meat that you’re using. I also like to use chilli of some sort (chilli features a lot in my food, because I love it!). This recipe uses the chilli oil that I wrote about in my last blog.

The carb count for this, with the veg I’d used,- came to just 33g in total, so just a little more than 10g per person.

Ingredients

The meat and its marinade:

1 pork fillet, big enough for 3, fat trimmed off and sliced into thin medallions (try and get them around 5mm)
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or crushed in a garlic press)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (use a good brand, like Kikkoman or Sanchi Shoyu)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
a chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (you want a piece about the size of an Oxo cube; mine weighed 13g)
roasted sesame oil
black pepper

Slice the meat and put it in a bowl or plastic box and add all the ingredients

Season generously with black pepper, stir so that it’s all well mixed, and leave to marinade for around 20 minutes. (You can leave it for longer if you have the time – but 20 minutes is a minimum to give you a decent flavour)

The stir-fry

65g echalion shallots, peeled and sliced thinly – I used 2 shallots for this weight
130g celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 3 or 4 stalks of celery)
2-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
140g savoy cabbage, sliced thinly (this was about a 1/3 of a cabbage)
140g bean sprouts
1 tin of water chestnuts, drained and halved (I used the Kingfisher brand, which gives a carb count of 4.3g for 100g, and the whole tin is 140g when drained – if you use another brand, check the carb counts don’t very too widely)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
A light, unflavoured oil for frying – sunflower or groundnut would be ideal
Salt and black pepper

And finally, my weird ingredient: 25g chilli oil with peanuts – this is not really an oil, more an oily paste, using lots of chilli flakes and peanuts:
IMG_2003IMG_2002

The oil not only adds flavour, but also texture, from the dried flakes and peanuts

Here’s how to make it:

Heat a wok (or a large frying pan), add a generous sloosh of oil, and when it’s really hot, fry the celery and shallots, stirring all the time

Next, add the cabbage, garlic and water chestnuts, and continue to stir fry for another minute or so.

Then add the bean sprouts and cook briefly.

Season with some black pepper and a little bit of salt (not too much as soy sauce is salty)

When it’s softened and cooked to your liking, add the chilli oil and soy sauce and fry for a little longer to amalgamate everything

Put it all into a serving dish and keep it warm while you cook the meat

IMG_1982

Stir-frying the pork

Put the wok back on the heat (no need to wash it) and make sure it’s hot before you add the meat

You don’t need to add any extra oil, as there is sesame oil in the marinade

When the wok is really hot, add the meat. Do this using a slotted spoon, so that you are not adding the marinade as well. The meat will steam rather than fry if it’s too wet in the wok

Stir fry the meat, stirring continuously, for no more than a couple of minutes. This is really important. It’s cut thin enough to cook through very quickly, and if you cook it for longer than this, it will be tough. It’s OK to eat pork fillet slightly pink, just in case you’re worried!

Just before you take it off the heat, add the remains of the marinade and stir it through, then add the meat to the vegetables, mix together, and serve immediately

Roasted Meatballs

I love making meatballs – it’s easy and they’re really flexible.  You can add pretty much whatever you want into them.  But what you don’t have to add is any kind of filler, like breadcrumbs, to bind them.

When I make them, I tend to just use what I have to hand, and I don’t weigh any ingredients – but for the purposes of this blog, I have done that today, to give you an idea of how many (or rather, how few!) carbs there can be in meatballs.  You’ll need a food processor for this recipe, unless you’re a particular fan of chopping.

Using the ingredients and weights below, I made 34 meatballs.  It’s a decent serving for four people:

weighing_shallots500 minced beef (go for the highest fat content you can find)
80g smoked lardons (or smoked bacon)
220g echalion shallots (this was the weight of 5 shallots, when peeled)
32g green chilli (this was a very large green chilli – and you can leave this out if you wish!)
red_pepper135g red pepper (this was the weight of one medium pepper, with the core/seeds removed)
4 cloves garlic
Seasoning – salt, black pepper and dried oregano
Olive oil for roasting

Here’s how to make them:

Peel the shallots and garlic cloves and put them into the food processor bowl

Cut the pepper into chunks, along with the chilli and add these too

minceProcess them till it’s all finely chopped – you will need to scrape it down the sides of the bowl once or twice, to make sure everything is evenly processed

When it’s finely chopped, add the lardons and mince, and season well with salt, pepper and dried oregano.  Process till it’s all well combined with the vegetables.  You’ll end up with what looks like pink slurry.  Don’t be put off by this!

shaped_meatballsTip the mixture on to a chopping board, and form into balls the size of a large walnut.

Put them into a roasting tin and then drizzle over some olive oil.

Roast in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes, shaking them after 10 minutes, so that they don’t stick to the tray.  While they’re cooking, they will exude a fair amount of liquid – they’re cooked when all the liquid has gone.

low_carb_meatballs

The total carb count for this is a mere 20g.  If you left the chilli out, it would total 17g.

So how do you serve them?  I like them with lots of Parmesan cheese on top, and I serve them with salad, or shirataki noodles.  If I’m using noodles, it’s probably because the rest of the family is having spaghetti.  And I serve this with a tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce is simple – fry 100g chopped shallots in a generous slug of olive oil till softened, and add a tin of tomatoes.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Add any dried or fresh herbs that you like.  You can add garlic if you want to – but remember there’s a fair amount of garlic in the meatballs.  Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for about 10 minutes.  The total carb count for this will vary according to the brand of tomatoes that you use.  I use Sainsbury’s Basics Chopped tomatoes, the ones in a carton (400g) as these are the lowest carb ones that I’ve found.  On this basis, the sauce will come to a total of 15.3g.

So – roasted meatballs and tomato sauce for four people comes in at 35.3g carbs – under 9g per person.