Thursday 10 December 2015

EASY, FRUGAL SUPPER - MAKING THE MOST OF HUMBLE BROAD BEANS

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With the festive season upon us, time is of the essence. Finding an hour to prepare dinner, keep healthy before the Christmas feasting and reduce your food bills so you can flourish your family with gifts can seem like a hard task. No fear, all you need is to utilise ingredients which are often neglected.

So for this recipe, all hail the broad bean! Firm in texture, super filling and the perfect balance of fibre and protein, they make an ideal base for a mid-week supper. Mildly sweet in flavour, they also carry stronger flavours well, just as your regular carby option might. We're also using a frozen bag of them, as if this recipe wasn't convenient enough!




This recipe is low carb, healthily balanced and quite frankly, delicious. Give it a go this week. 

Ingredients: 

1 large cup of  frozen broad beans 
1 clove garlic, chopped.
1/2 a courgette, sliced
1 tbsp Bouillon powder
2 eggs 
2 rashers of smoked bacon/pancetta, finely chopped
3 sundried tomatoes, chopped. 
40g of Stilton 
sprinkle of Parmesan
Squeeze of lemon juice 
Olive oil 

method:
1)  Bring a pan of water to the boil, and add the vegetable bouillon. When dissolved add your broad beans and let simmer for around five minutes.
2) Meanwhile, in a pan heat a table spoon of olive oil and add your chopped bacon. 
3) give it a couple of minutes to crisp before adding in your courgettes. When they start to soften, season and add the garlic to the pan, cooking for a further two minutes on a gentle heat. 
4) At this point you need to soft boil your eggs. Place both eggs in a pan of gently boiling water and cook for five minutes, to leave your yolk runny. When your five minutes is up, run under cold water before peeling. 
5) When your beans are done, add them to the pan with the bacon and courgettes and leave on the lowest heat, Drizzle over a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and squeeze of lemon juice. Mix together. 
6) Crumble in your Stilton so it melts and covers the beans. 
7) Place your beans on a plate and grate over a good nugget of Parmesan, 
8) Finally, peel your eggs, and place on top of your bean mixture, making a slice to let the yolk cover the beans. 
9) Enjoy with a big glass of fruity Sauvignon and an open fire to keep your tootsies toasty! 







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Sunday 29 November 2015

Dinner Post #5 Italian Herby Pork Meatballs with Tomato and Red Wine Sauce

It is no secret that Italian food is my ultimate love. It's delicious, and when cooked properly, Italian recipes can really provide a healthy and wholesome meal, with undeniable flavour. There is no denying that spaghetti and meatballs is a traditional staple of Italian cooking, though traditionally beef or veal is used, or more typically of northern Italian cooking, a mixture of both pork and beef. Through experimentation, I have tested turkey, beef, pork and a mixture of both pork and beef. The pig comes out on top. Why? Because it carries herby flavours so well and has enough fat content to create tender melt in the mouth delights.


 Turkey, for me, is at the bottom of the table. Dieters and health advisors love it, because it is virtually fat free and full of protein. That is all well and good, BUT why are we all so terrified of fat? In a non complex explanation, fat is INCREDIBLE at filling you up.

 It increases and maintains satiety levels more efficiently than carbohydrates, keeping you fuller for longer. It is also fantastic for increasing metabolism. Humans require fat in their diet to survive, and therefore when a fat free diet is implemented, the metabolism slows down because you haven't given it enough to work off. Humans have always consumed animal fat, and our bodies are wired to accept that fat content. Obviously eating copious amounts of saturated fats, and processed fats can be dangerous to health, but it is not unhealthy to consume fats in moderation.

All hail the lard! Don't be scared of fats, ironically, in moderation, they won't make you fat.

So, back to the balls. I have used pork mince because it makes the softest, crumbliest balls you could hope for.

Ingredients makes (6-8 balls)

for the meatballs:

1 pack of pork mince 
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed 
1 tbsp smoked paprika 
1 tbsp tomato ketchup 
1 tbsp oregano 
6 sprigs of rosemary, 3 with leaves removed and finely chopped, and 3 broken in half 
salt and pepper 
2 large handfuls of breadcrumbs 
1 egg yolk 
2 tsp dried, mixed herbs 

for the tomato sauce:

1 tin chopped tomatoes 
120ml red wine 
1 onion, finely chopped
handful of fresh basil, chopped 
2 tsp of oregano
200 ml red wine 
2 coves of garlic, peeled and chopped 
2 tsp sugar 
1 tbsp tomato puree
50ml water 

Method:

For the meatballs:

1) Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Grease a baking tray with olive oil.
2) In a bowl add all of the ingredients, apart from the rosemary which is left as sprigs. 
3) Mix everything together thoroughly with your hands until combined. Add salt and pepper.
4) Roll the mince into balls, there should be between 6 and 8 depending on how big you want them, and place on the baking tray. 
5) Using the remaining sprigs of rosemary, spike each of the meatballs with a rosemary, as shown in the photo above. 
7) Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are golden.




For the sauce:

1) Whilst the meatballs are in the oven, heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
2) Add the onion and sweat for a couple of minutes until soft. 
3) Pour in the wine, and allow to reduce for round 2 minutes. Once the wine has reduced, add the rest of the ingredients other than the basil. Add salt and pepper and stir together.
4) Let the sauce simmer, until the meatballs are cooked. 
5) When the meatballs are ready, carefully add them into the same pan as the tomato sauce, and let everything cook together for 5 minutes. Add in the basil a the last minute and stir through the sauce. 
6) Serve the meatballs with good quality spaghetti or linguine and a sprinkling of Parmesan if you wish. 













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Thursday 29 October 2015

Foodie Fun Post #1 Lewisham Model Market

Do you love a night of combining concoctions of exciting food and drink along with music? Let's face it who wouldn't. In that case - get to a model market.

My partner and I went to one in Lewisham on a Friday night, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

The model market consists of a variety of different micro diners in an abandoned outdoor market, all selling exciting street food, and dangerously delicious cocktails (pardon my alliteration, but it's true). If that isn't enough to persuade you that the street feast model market is the place to be, let me tell you about the atmosphere. People turn up in their drones, and it really is a diverse mix of people. From Shoreditch 'trendies' to 50 year old hippies, everyone is out for a good time. Music plays all night, and as it gets dark the whole place is lit up. It feels almost as though you're abroad, with dim lighting flooding the nooks and crannies of quirky food diners and bars. 






If you really wanted a good night, you could sample food from each of the following stalls Breddos Tacos, Cheeky Italian, Dogtown Hotdogs, Hank’s Po’ Boys, Killer Tomato, Mama’s Jerk, Rola Wala, Sambal Shiok, SE Brownie Bar, SmokeStak BBQ and Yum Bun. For drinks there is Rotary Cocktail, Craft Beer Bar, Slushy Bar, Rum Shack and Winyl. When we went however, we stuck to Yum Bun, Cheeky Italian, SE Brownie Bar and Rola Wala. Pictures and descriptions below, but I urge you to give it a go! 


YUM BUN.




Sticky pork belly, spring onion and cucumber with hoi sin sauce, and tempura king prawns with coriander salsa verde and yuzu mayonnaise, all encased in super soft dim sum style buns. 
The prawn was my preference, but perhaps that is due to my biased obsession with seafood! 

CHEEKY ITALIAN. 

I think if I ultimately had to chose, Italian would be my favourite type of food. I love it when it's really authentic, I can't stand Italian American food. To my sheer delight, the model market had a brilliant, authentic Italian. There were huge pork loins slow roasting until the meat just fell apart, Italian sausages, cured meats, cheeses, anti pasti and a variety of other treats. Following much deliberation, I opted for a huge slab of rosemary focaccia stuffed to the brim with slow roasted porchetta, caramelised onions, and rocket. The meat was the most delicious pork i've eaten. In fact the whole thing was pretty special. Can't wait to go back and sample some more of their delights. 




ROLA WALA.

Fantastic Indian street food. Rola Wala provided mini naan breads topped with yummy spiced delights both meat friends and veggie friendly. Each topping was as delicious as the last, and it was the sort of food you feel sad about when it comes to a devastating end. I'll let the pictures do the talking, the flavours were as vibrant as the colours. 



GO TO THE MODEL MARKET! GO! It's brilliant, exciting and delicious, and only a fiver to get in. Winner winner chicken dinner (or whatever dinner, because the choice is multiple) 

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Thursday 3 September 2015

Dinner Post #4 Pan Fried Cod, Braised Red Cabbage, Rosemary and Parmesan Polenta Chips.

Howdy Hi. Here is another, nutritious, delicious and low cost meal which is set to wow. I cooked this for my other half for mid-week supper, post circuit training and he loved it. I must say, it's delicious and using polenta instead of potatoes is an interesting twist!

You could say, it's a posh fish and chips, minus the batter, mushy peas, and deep fried potato chips (so hardly traditional) instead using braised red cabbage, polenta and fresh cod fillets. It doesn't take a lot of time to concoct, however the Polenta needs 2-3 hours to set, and the cabbage needs about an hour to braise.

The quantities below suit 2 people, so treat your significant other to a fabulous meal this weekend, and bring the restaurant home in order to save those all important pennies.

 PLUS for those who are watching the waist line, or trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, Polenta is a fantastic choice. A texture which is just as luxurious as the potato, but far lower in Carbs, rich in Vitamin A and C, and only 73 Kcals per half a cup serving.


Ingredients:
2 Cod Fillets 
1/2 Red Cabbage 
1/2 cup of Quick Cup Polenta/Corn Meal (plus extra for coating) 
1/2 Glass Red Wine 
2 Table Spoons Worcester Sauce 
Handful of Fresh, chopped, Rosemary 
70-100g of Grated  Parmesan (depending on how cheesy you want your chips) 
Clove of Garlic (minced)
Olive Oil 
Knob of Butter 

Method:

1)First, the Polenta. Add your half a cup of Polenta to a pan, and pop it onto a medium heat. Boil a kettle of Water and add a little bit of water every few seconds, ensuring you whisk or beat the Polenta continuously. This prevents a lumpy consistency. You need to keep adding water for about 2 minutes and cook for about 4 minutes, until the consistency is that of thick gloopy mashed Potato, and bubbles are forming at the edges. 
2) Take the Polenta off the heat, and add your Cheese and Rosemary. 
3.) Line a square baking tray with Olive Oil, and pour your Polenta mix in. Flatten it down, so it's smooth, and about an inch thick, (as below). 


4. Put the Polenta in the fridge to set. Now for the Cabbage. Shred your cabbage, whilst heating some olive oil in a pan. Add your cabbage and soften for 10 minutes. Then, add the Wine, Worcester Sauce and Garlic to the pan, along with a dash of water, salt and pepper. Place a lid on top, and let it simmer away on a low heat for around an hour, or until soft. It can sit there and be re-heated later when you're ready to eat, the flavours just get better with time.
5) When the time comes to actually prepare your meal, take the set Polenta out of the fridge and turn it out onto a board. Slice it into fat chunky chip shapes. Set the oven at 190 degrees C/Gas Mark 5. 
6) Whilst the oven heats up, brush Olive Oil over your polenta chips and coat them in a dusting of uncooked Polenta, to give a crispy crunchy coasting. Place them onto a greased baking tray, and bake for around 30 mins, ensuring you turn them over half way through, for even crunch!
7) The fish takes minutes to cook, so you want to be cooking the fish in the last 10 minutes before your Polenta Chips are ready. Season both sides of the Cod, and heat a pan with a generous glug of Olive Oil.
8) Place your fish, skin side down and cook for 4 minutes. After around 2 minutes add a large knob of Butter to the pan, and begin basting the fleshy side of the cod.
9) After 4 minutes, the skin should be crispy and coloured, so turn the fish over so it's flesh side down, and cook for a further 3 minutes in the butter and oil. It should be golden, but moist in the middle, and the flesh should flake away in easy chunks. 
10) Re-heat your cabbage for a minute or so and use that as a base for the dish, piling your fish and Polenta chips on top! Delish! 

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Monday 10 August 2015

Dinner Post #3 Slovenian Grandads' Anti-Oxidant Curry.

My Grandad used to cook this for my mum and her siblings when they were younger, and we have been fed it ever since. This recipe is based on my mums' adaptation, but I've added a few cheeky extras to up the taste factor. 

I highly doubt you will find another recipe similar to this, and maybe it seems unusual to have a curry which consists of pork mince, but it is absolutely delicious!I wouldn't say this is strictly typical Slovenian food, as it uses Indian spices, but they do often use Pork Mince in stews and casseroles unlike us British. 

Not only this, but I think people forget the powerful  health properties which are benefactors of spices. They are absolute jam packed full of anti-oxidants, and this recipe contains Beta-Carotene, Selenium and vitamins A and C and E. Recent research is also focusing on whether or not spices withhold metabolism boosting properties, which can aid weight loss. This is due to Capsaicin from peppers boosting metabolism. 

If it's good enough for Jennifer Aniston who vows to have chilli on her eggs each morning, it's good enough for us. 

Spices could be helping burn off fat at an increased rate, so in the words of the Spice Girls 'spice up your life'. This recipe also contains plenty of garlic, and Vitamin C packed Vegetables, so if you feel a cold coming, get this bubbling away on the stove! An ode to my wonderful Grandad Borzo Borstnik. Serve with fluffy rice or Quinoa. 



Ingredients (serves 5-6) 

750g Lean Pork Mince 
1 Red Pepper 
3 Carrots, grated. 
2 handfuls Red Split Lentils
2 Onions 
2 Table Spoons Madras Curry Powder
1 Table Spoon Coriander Powder 
2 Tea Spoons Garam Masala 
3 Cloves Garlic 
3 Table Spoons Tomato Puree 
Chicken Stock pot/cube 
Table Spoon Tomato Ketchup.



Method
1.Heat Olive Oil in a pan and sweat finely chopped onions until soft. Season the onions well, as this will stop them from colouring and going too brown. Then finely chop your pepper and sweat that for a couple of minutes with the onions. 
2. Add the mince, season well with salt and plenty of pepper, and wait until it cooks through. 
3. Now add all of the spices along with the tomato pur√©e. Let the meat and spices fry away for around 5 minutes before adding any other ingredients. 
4. Grate the carrots, and add those, along with the lentils to the pan. 
5. Squash your garlic into the pan, with the Tomato Ketchup. 
6. Now for some liquid! Add enough water to make the meat really saucy, and then plop your stock in. Give it a final season, and mix together. Cover up and let it simmer away for 45 mins to an hour, or until the sauce has reduced, and it looks glorious!




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Saturday 13 June 2015

Restaurant review #1 Franco Manca London, and their famous sour dough pizza.

DO YOU LOVE PIZZA? Yes? well then, Franco Manca is an unmissable choice. As promised I would bring you low cost meals, well, if you fancy going out for a bite to eat, but are strapped for cash, Franco Manca is absolutely perfect for you.

The pizza's are the best I've tasted from anywhere I've eaten out, and even more amazing, their prices never surpass £8. I think it's the dough that does it, I can promise you'll never have eaten dough so soft, delicious and bouncy. The sour Dough is risen for 20 hours at least, and then cooked in a wood burning 'Tufae' oven which are built on site, by specialist Artisan Naples (Lord knows how they came across them, but they've done a wonderful job!).



The restaurants are small and rustic, but that gives them a bustling energetic atmosphere, perfect for friends in their twenties to have delicious pizza without breaking the bank. PLUS, the toppings are wonderful. I opted for the 'meat special', as oppose to the veggie choice, which consisted of sweet potato, home-made chorizo, sun dried tomato and rosemary, and oooh la la it was incredible.


They have restaraunts in Brixton, Balham, Westfield, Chiswick, Northcote, and Broadway Market. I honestly believe they are worth getting a few tube stops for. You won't be disappointed, and if, for some reason you are, you haven't lost a lot, paying only six quid for a pizza! They also offer home-made lemonade and juices, and a variety of interesting beers to drink, as well as wine. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.


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Thursday 7 May 2015

Simple Lunches Post #1 : Warm pea, feta, mint and wilted lettuce salad with Prosciutto

As promised, my recipes will be healthy and delicious and where possible low cost. Well, this dish hits the nail on the head. It may not seem like a lot, but trust me it'll be one of the tastiest lunches you've had in a while. If you fancy you can always add a chicken breast or piece of fish, but I like a big bowl all on it's own! The cost of ingredients won't surpass 90p, so give it a go, there's nothing to lose, (apart from perhaps an inch or two from the waist!) 


Ingredients:

use as much as you like depending on how many you want to feed! For one, a cup and a half of peas and half a Romaine Lettuce will be substantial. 

Garden Peas 
Romaine Lettuce 
Olive oil
Feta Cheese
Prosciutto
Table Spoon, finely chopped of Mint leaves
Lemon 

Method:

1. Fry off your Prosciutto in a dash of olive oil until golden and crisp. Set aside on kitchen paper to soak up any residue fat. 
2. Place your peas into seasoned simmering water. After a minute, add your shredded lettuce to the same pot. Once the lettuce has gone in, drain the veg after about 30 seconds. Leave the peas and lettuce to stand with the lid on to let the steam finish the cooking process, without making everything soggy. 
3. In a bowl mix together two table spoons of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and salt and pepper. Then into the oil mix crumble in as much Feta as you desire. 
4. Add the dressing over the lettuce and peas and stir well. the feta will start to melt to create a luxurious and silky sauce. 
5. Snap the Prosciutto into the salad, making sure it stays in generous chunks. 
6. Finally, finely chop your mint and stir through the salad last minute.
7. Enjoy your guilt free delicious lunch! 





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Thursday 12 February 2015

Lifestyle Changes Post #1: The Paleo Diet. What, Why, How.



So, 66% of us are overweight, and 33% of us are considered obese. What on Earth has been going wrong? With so many 'diets' available, it can be hard to know what to choose when we are looking to lose a few pounds OR adopt a healthier attitude to food. 
It has been proven time and time again that fad diets don't work. Living of cabbage soup for a month is, let's face it, ridiculous, and I even think 3 day juice 'cleanses' are just to starve ourselves of calories whilst pretending it is entirely for detox benefits.Humans are supposed to eat, so starving yourself and consuming only fruit and vegetable juices for three days means the body tries to hold onto any fat available in the system, to prepare for a fast. It also slows the metabolism right down as the body attempts energy conservation. 

Paleo is filtering through numerous diet posts recently.
what is the Paleo diet? Well, eating Paleo refers to eating as we did as cavemen. As we have revolutionised, humans have found different foods to consume because technological advance obviously allows us to process food differently,

 Paleo, takes us right back to basics. That means foods such as grains are off the cards, because they wouldn't have been eaten by our caveman ancestors. Grains contain a natural toxin known as Lectins. Lectins exist to prevent consumption of grains, so that they can spread themselves and re-populate the land. But whats the issue? Well, they react with our gastrointestinal tract causing gas and bloating and as they ferment, they prevent the tract from repairing. Many hardcore Paleo dieters also refrain from eating Dairy (apart from eggs), because in ancestral history, the human body was not equipped to consume milk after infancy. Hence, many individuals today suffer from Lactose Intolerance. 

The Paleo diet, is low carb, in the sense that pasta/bread/rice is off the cards, but that doesn't mean carbs cannot be found in other foods such as sweet potatoes and fruits such as banana. It is also sugar free, unless the sugars are naturally formed in food stuffs. In theory, Paleo eating should provide a harmonious internal system, but it it really sustainable? And is it quite frankly, just a bit too strict?

So, what can you eat? 

MEAT/POULTRY - any type, as long as it's grass fed. Remember grains are off the cards
FISH - Look for wild, farmed fish often contain chemicals such as Mercury 
EGGS- Any type, they are a super food. 
FRUITS/VEG- Be wary of eating too many fruits, they are calorific due to sugars. Any veg is great. 
OILS- Think Natural! Coconut, Olive, Avocado. I am a fan of coconut. 
NUTS/SEEDS- brain food, a high calorific snack, so don't over indulge! 
SPICES/SEASONING/HERBS- These are definitely needed, to add flavour to your foods, and often have great anti oxidant properties. 

A Typical Paleo Day 

BREAKFAST - Poached egg with Avocado and Sunflower Seeds. 

LUNCH - Spicy ChickPea and Vegetable Chilli. 

DINNER - Paprika trout, with Tomato and Avocado salsa. 

SNACK - Apple Slices with Almond Butter, Frozen Raspberries. 

Paprika Trout Recipe 

Wild Trout Fillet 
2 Tspns Smoked Paprika 
1/2 Clove Garlic 
3 Large Tomatoes
1 Avacado
1/2 Lemon 
1 Tble Sp Olive Oil
Black Pepper 

Method:
1) Place the grill onto a medium heat. Slice the garlic finely and scatter onto the trout. Then sprinkle on the Paprika. 
2) Loosely cover with tin foil and place under the grill for 8 minutes. Then uncover the foil, and let the fish grill for a further 5 minutes, to give it a crispy coating.
3) Meanwhile, chop the Tomato and Avocado into small squares. Add the Juice of the lemon, and the olive oil and season well with black pepper. 
4) Serve the fish on top of the salsa salad, and squeeze more lemon over the fish if you fancy it!
5) Enjoy your Paleo meal! x

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