Weekend Breakfast Jumble

Monday, August 4th, 2014

eggs2My mum has always told me that I must eat breakfast; no excuses. Fact is that I don’t, particularly when I’m fasting. During the week, when I’m not fasting I have the same thing every day: 2 weetabix with plain yoghurt and banana. Varying the breakfasts we eat is something that I think few of us do, simply because we just can’t/don’t want to think about anything beyond a piece of toast at that time of the morning.

One of my bugbears is the ‘breakfast’ section of a cookery book, which mostly consists of smoothies, French toast and things to do with blueberries. Nobody consults a cookery book for breakfast recipes do they? I think they should stop doing those breakfast chapters. We don’t all live in the pages of a Sunday supplement, taking brisk early morning walks along the seashore cocooned in Boden scarves, before coming home to the broadsheets, a steaming pot of coffee and ‘something with blueberries’ for breakfast.

In light of the above then, it seems rather contradictory for me to be posting a breakfast recipe. But I must, because it’s tasty and, actually, you could have it as a quick lunch or supper too. Also, it takes about 5 minutes to make, and it makes a nice change at the weekend, when you might have a bit more time on your hands. My Dad used to make this when we were young, with hefty quantities of Worcestershire sauce. How much you add is entirely up to you…

For slimmers, this recipe is syn free on Slimming World. For non-slimmers or fair weather dieters, this would work perfectly with a hot buttered slice of thickly cut sourdough toast, the breakfast jumble piled on top, and a soft poached egg on top of that, so that when you cut it, it oozes all over it.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 6 rashers smoked back bacon (fat removed) cut into postage stamp pieces
  • About 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sprig of thyme (optional)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Spray oil

Method

  1. Heat up a frying pan and spray with spray oil. Toss in the bacon with they sprig of thyme and dry-fry until cooked through
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they are softened, but not completely falling apart – about 2 minutes
  3. Add the Worcestershire sauce and cook for a further 30 seconds

 

**If you have some mushrooms hanging about at the bottom of the fridge, these work particularly well – add them with the bacon at the beginning.

Hill Shepherdy Pie

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

shepherdy-pie

We love a shepherds’ pie. Come to think of it, cottage pie is pretty nice too. ANY kind of pie (barring kidney) is tasty. Trouble is, they can be hefty, and not the type of thing you want to eat when the weather is warm. We’ve adapted our shepherds’ pie to use Quorn mince instead of the usual lamb or beef mince, which can be fatty. Quorn mince is cheap on calories and with the addition of a lamb stock cube, does a good imitation. Vegetarians can omit the lamb stock cube and just use a vegetable stock cube instead. We’ve also added in some red lentils, which are entirely optional, but they bulk out the dish and add a bit of body. They’re also a good way of getting pulses into your diet, if you’re so inclined, which we are. Importantly, this recipe is entirely FREE on Slimming World, so you can fill your boots to your heart’s content, knowing you’re not blowing it. It’s a bit different to what you might be used to when it comes to a shepherds’ pie, but it’s full of flavour, I promise. We love it!

Serves 4 (or 2 VERY VERY hungry slimmers)

Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen Quorn mince (300g)
  • A generous handful of dried, split red lentils
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 and a half sticks of celery, finely diced
  • 1/3 of a medium sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 3 medium sized white potatoes
  • sprig of thyme
  • sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 level tsp ground bayleaf
  • 2 lamb stock cubes or 2 vegetable stock cubes – or one of each
  • tomato puree – a teaspoon sized squirt
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • splash of skimmed milk
  • 2 tsp plain 0% fat yoghurt
  • Salt & pepper
  • spray oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 fan
  2. Start by chopping up your squash and potatoes and put them in a pan, covered with boiling salted water and boil until soft and mashable – about 15 minutes
  3. Meanwhile, spray a large frying pan (or wok) with spray oil and add the onion, carroy, celery and sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Cook on a low to medium heat for 15 minutes so that the vegetables sweat and soften but do not colour. If you feel that the pan is beginning to dry out, add a tbsp of water at a time to keep the vegetables from catching.
  4. By the time the onion, celery and carrot has cooked, you will be ready to drain your squash and potatoes. Do this now, and immediately put them back into the hot pan so that the water evaporates from them – this will prevent your mash being waterlogged
  5. Add the Quorn mince directly from the freezer into the pan with your onions, carrrots and celery. At the same time, add the lentils and stir
  6. Crumble in the stock cubes, add tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, bay and a good grind of black pepper. You won’t need to add salt as the other condiments and stock cubes will season it enough. Stir, then add around 200ml of water. Turn up the heat, bring to the boil and then turn down the heat, allowing the mixture to simmer for around 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft
  7. Keep an eye on the wetness of the mix – you don’t want it too watery or sloppy, but it should be ‘saucy’. If it’s getting too dry, add some more water
  8. While the mix is simmering, prepare your mash. Mash the potatoes and squash together, add some salt and pepper, yoghurt and a splash of skimmed milk
  9. Once the mince mixture is ready, remove the thyme and rosemary from the mix and discard. Transfer your mince mix to an ovenproof casserole dish. Spoon over dollops of the mash and spread out to cover the mince mixture
  10. Place in the oven to cook for 20-25 minutes
  11. Serve with peas of cabbage, blanched for five minutes, tossed through with salt, pepper and caraway seeds

shepherdy-pie2

Fun, Fasting and a Crustless Quiche

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

balloon

We haven’t been doing well with our eating plan. It’s not that what we’re eating isn’t healthy, it’s just that we keep pairing it with bottles of wine, and preceding meals with things like crisps. Not good. We attended a party in Sussex last weekend, which was lovely, but it forced us (after a few too many glasses of wine) to draw a line under our misdemeanours and start afresh!

wild swim

This week we have been fasting hard – 500 calories on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday were ‘eating’ days, so we stuck to Slimming World rules and didn’t spend any syns. It’s been hot weather, so munching salads and crispy veg hasn’t been to much of a hardship. I won’t lie, though, we’ve been hungry, especially as we have both done two bouts of exercise on the exercise bike every day, and taken Ludo out for his 2 daily walks. We’ve had to stop in until later in the day, since it’s been so hot and Ludo’s ever growing coat makes him very hot when we go out for a walk. That being said, we’ve enjoyed a couple of walks by the river this week and Pete has been for a swim in the Usk twice. I paddled. An eel showed interest in my yellow Croc (which I wore to paddle, precisely because I don’t cope well with ‘things’ in the water) which made me squeal. Ludo even ventured into the shallows and promptly ‘dried’ himself on the mud and dust on the riverbank.

ludo-wants-quiche

Ludo wants quiche

I thought I’d share with you a nifty and tasty recipe that’s really easy to put together – especially if you are time poor (or if you spend your day exercising like a devil). The crustless quiche is a syn free recipe with Slimming World as it uses no pastry. It is, ostensibly, an omelette with a bit of cottage cheese in it, and the name quiche is probably stretching things a little far. Even so, it’s yummy served with a potato salad or a crisp salad. The recipe is supposed to be enough for 2, but we had a big portion each, plus enough for a snack later on. It’s syn-free after all! Ludo thought it was delicious and sat beside us, doing his best and cutest face in exchange for a morsel or two.

Crustless Quiche

Crustless Quiche Recipe

Crustless Quiche Recipe

 

Crustless Quiche

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

quiche

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 150g pot of cottage cheese (lowest fat you can find)
  • 1 courgette, diced
  • 3 spring onions
  • 5 or 6 chestnut mushrooms
  • baby sweetcorn, chopped
  • asparagus tips, chopped
  • oregano
  • spray oil
  • salt & pepper

 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 or 170 fan
  2. Start by heating a large frying pan and spray it with spray oil. Throw in the vegetables. You can really use any vegetables you have hanging around…all will work well.
  3. Dry fry the veg for 5 minutes or so, just so they begin to soften. Set aside.
  4. Crack 6 eggs into a bowl and whisk. Add the cottage cheese, salt, pepper and oregano and combine.
  5. Arrange the vegetables in the bottom of an ovenproof flan dish.
  6. Pour over the egg and cheese mixture.
  7. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden and the quiche doesn’t wobble.

crustless-quiche-plate

A Scandinavian Weekend

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

iceland

About this time last year we were in Scandinavia, marveling at the light-filled nights and taking huge gulps of the bright clean fjord air of Norway. We’ve become massive Scandiphiles in the past few years, a process which has sort of happened organically. We find ourselves drawn to the culture, the landscape and most definitely the food of the North. If we didn’t live here in Wales, where we are very happy, I think we’d probably be somewhere in Scandinavia – probably Sweden.

norway

I usually delve into my Scandi cookery books around Autumn or Winter time, when I’m looking for comfort food. All those delicious carb-packed potato-y pancakes and sumptuous rice puddings with spiced fruits – yum. In the darker, colder months I look to our Northern cousins for culinary inspiration. They know how to look after themselves in style when it gets chilly. When all is dark outside, they somehow manage to entice light into their homes with candles and warmth comes in the form of good food and good company (not to mention a decent log fire). I love those photos of little red houses, nestled in a valley, throwing out tangerine squares of light in an otherwise darkened, snow-filled landscape.

But I digress.

It must have been something about recollecting last year’s holiday, or maybe it was that we’ve just recently got into watching the series The Killing (yeah, 7 years late! We’re doing it back to front – first it was Wallander, then the Bridge, now this) but this weekend I found myself picking out my Scandinavian cookery books from the bookshelf.

clytha

Trine Hahnemann is a bit of a guru on Scandinavian cookery and I don’t know why we don’t see her on television a bit more. Anyway, these recipes come courtesy of her book: The Scandinavian Cookbook. Lovely recipes and gorgeous photography to boot. On Saturday we ate fishcakes with remoulade and potatoes, and on Sunday we had barbecued leg of lamb with herb potato salad and a salad made with pointed cabbage, almonds and dill. Here we’ve shared the recipe for the fishcakes, the cabbage salad and the remoulade. All of these were cooked by Pete – I can take none of the credit. I just ate it.

scandi-bbq-lamb

Hannah

A tip: we found that the cabbage needs to be shredded quite finely for a good ‘mouth feel’ and it definitely benefits from sitting about a bit in the dressing.
The remoulade recipe specifically goes with the fish but it’s so yummy that you could easily boil some small salad potatoes and serve this up as a really tasty Scandi tapas!

Scandinavian Fishcakes

Scandinavian Fishcakes

Herb Remoulade

Herb Remoulade

Pointed cabbage with dill and peas

Pointed cabbage with dill and peas

Barbequed lamb with tarragon

Barbequed lamb with tarragon

Barbequed Lamb with Tarragon

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

This is the barbequed lamb from our ‘Scandinavian weekend’. It’s pretty simple, but I’d taken the picture, so I thought I’d put it up here.

tarragon-stuffed-lamb

Serves 2 generously or 4,  frugally

Ingredients

  • Half leg of lamb, boned
  • Buch of tarragon
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (I left them whole – as in the picture – but being in the centre of the meat, they were still a little underdone at the end)

 

Method

  1. Set up a kettle barbeque to cook indirectly. (I.e. put the briquettes in the side compartments, put some water in a disposable foil drip tray and place at the bottom of the barbeque. Place the grill back on top).
  2. Unroll the lamb and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Lay the meat fat side down, and cover with the tarragon and scatter the garlic over the top.
  4. Roll the meat back up and tie it with kitchen string to secure it.
  5. Place the meat in the centre of the grill and put the lid on.
  6. Cook for about an hour. If you have a meat temperature probe, you want the centre to be up to 55 – 59 for medium rare.
  7. Remove the string and carve

A tip: A few wood chips on the briquettes at the start of cooking would be good too – hickory woodchips are the traditional option, which you can buy from barbeque suppliers. If you can’t get hold of any, or if you prefer, you can use any fruit tree wood; I put a few cherry twigs on.  Don’t use pine as it imparts a resinous flavour.

We had this with Pointed Cabbage with dill & peas and potato salad.

 

 

 

 

 

Pointed Cabbage with Dill and Peas

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

 

pointed cabbage(serves 8)

Ingredients

  • 2 pointed cabbages cut into long strips (or shredded in the food processor)
  • 100g almonds
  • 100g bunch of dill
  • 500g peas (recipe says fresh, shelled, but we used frozen, defrosted but not cooked)

Dressing

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tbsp runny honey
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Rinse the cabbage strips thoroughly and set aside to drain.
  2. Roast the almonds in a moderate oven for 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Leave them to cool then chop them.
  3. Combine the chopped dill, cabbage, almonds and peas in a large salad bowl and toss.
  4. To make the dressing, stir together the lemon juice and honey, then slowly add the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss through the salad just before serving.

Fishcakes

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

fishcakes

(serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 600g white fish (we used cod)
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml single cream
  • 2tbsp finely choppe tarragon
  • 3tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2tbsp potato flour (Waitrose sells this, but I couldn’t get any. We used plain flour – it was fine)
  • 30g butter
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Method

  1. Chop the fish fillets finely with a very sharp knife. Place into a mixing bowl with spring onions, eggs, cream, herbs and lemon juice and fold together very gently.
  2. Add the potato flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and fold again.
  3. Heat the butter and vegetable oil together in a large frying pan
  4. Meanwhile shape the fish mixture into 12 small balls using a spoon and your hands. Gently place the fishcakes in the pan and fry over a medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side.

 

 

Herb Remoulade

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

remoulade

Enough for 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1tbsp cornichons
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 200g mayonnaise
  • 3tbsp half-fat creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp dijon mustarf
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped carrots
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Chop the cournichons and capers together and place in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Vienn-easy Potato Salad

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Salmon and potato salad I’ve called this a Vienn-easy Potato Salad because a) it’s easy and b) its inspiration comes from a recipe for a hot potato salad in a beaten up copy of a pretty dated Viennese Cookery book which I found on a book buying trip to Hay on Wye. If you’re following Slimming World you’ll know that you can eat potatoes and pasta and pretty much any carb, apart from evil bread, until the cows come home. Trouble is, this can get a bit repetitive and boring. Boiled spuds can be dull – especially if you can’t slather them in butter. Potato salad in its usual guise can be laden with a scary number of calories and, actually, can just be an exercise in mayonnaisey claginess. Not good. This recipe is nice because it uses no fat whatsoever, not even oil, but has loads of flavour. The trick is to introduce the potatoes to the vinegar while they are still hot, so they absorb all the flavour and moisture. The Viennese make their warm potato salads with the addition of bacon and use the bacon fat as part of the dressing – a no-go if you’re trying to cut down on oil. Still, if you trim off all the fat from the bacon, grill or dry fry it separately and then stir it through at the end, this would make a pretty tasty and quick supper. Anyway, give it a go – I rely on this recipe to bulk out many meals. The one above, in case you’re wondering, is our take on a Scandi plate – smoked salmon, potato salad, sliced cucumber and cottage cheese spiked with grated horseradish. This serves 2 generously

Ingredients

  • 500g new potatoes/salad potatoes, scrubbed not peeled
  • 1 eschalion/banana shallot, finely chopped (if you can’t get these, use a couple of spring onions, although these are a little more astringent. Don’t use the small round shallots – too strong!)
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tsp chopped tarragon
  • Maldon Salt
  • Black Pepper

Method

  1. Cut up the new potatoes into chunks and toss into a pan of salted boiling water. Boil for around 15 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, put the chopped shallot, dill and tarragon into a mixing bowl (some people don’t like the flavours of tarragon and dill, and if you don’t, I’d opt for chives as an alternative)
  3. After draining the boiled potatoes, add them to the herbs and shallot. Add the cider vinegar immediately, together with a good sprinkling of Maldon salt and good grind of black pepper.
  4. Mix well but carefully so as not to break up the potatoes too much. Set aside to cool slightly. The salad should be warm when served, but not piping hot.