Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Thai Salmon Fishcakes with Quick Chilli Oil

Another diet dish I've created during my 30daysfit challenge which is absolutely delicious whether on a diet or not. I like most types of fishcakes but these are particularly good as they are mostly fish with just a tiny bit of textured crumb from a scrunched up Ryvita Thin.

I serve with ribbons of carrot and cucumber made using a vegetable peeler a small side salad and a tiny pot of chilli infused oil.

The below makes two fishcakes and the pair come in at 323 calories - again perfect for dieting - there's nothing bland and boring about these.

Here's how:

1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp olive oil

1 100g fillet of salmon
2 spring onions
1 clove garlic
1 thumb of fresh ginger
1 red chilli
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tbsp fresh coriander
1 tsp Green Thai Curry Paste
1 Ryvita Thin

Firstly in a small pot place the chilli flakes and the oil and leave to infuse a little - this is your dipping sauce and will act as a great dressing for any salad you serve alongside too.

Now drizzle in a tiny bit of oil or spray into a pan and place on a low heat.

Finely chop the spring onions, chilli and coriander and place into a bowl.

Mince the garlic and add to the bowl and grate in the ginger.Cut the lime in half and squeeze into the bowl.

Crumble the Ryvita into the bowl.

Next finely chop the salmon into small pieces and add to the bowl and give a good stir with a spoon.

Finally add the curry paste and again stir. Then you'll need to get your hands messy by smushing it all together with your hands and making two rounds which will be your fishcake. You could of course use an egg in this mixing process which will help bind the fishcakes too, I just chose not to.

Next add each fishcake to the pan and fry gently for three to four minutes on one side before turning over to do the other side. Each side should be nicely golden brown. Don't be tempted to cook for too much longer as the salmon will overcook. Enjoy!

Cheat's Courgette Carbonara

This is a lovely dish I created last week to fulfil my craving for pasta carbonara. I'm currently undertaking a self-titled '30daysfit' challenge, during which I'm aiming to shed some weight, up my fitness levels and cut down on some of the many naughty's in my current diet. Carbs are a real problem for me and I've cut down dramatically, but certain days call for a fix of what you love and this dish was born of that.

The 'pasta' is actually courgette ribbons, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler and I think they resemble Italian 'pantacce' pasta. You could of course use 'courgetti' spiralised courgette if you prefer too and cook in the same way as below.

The sauce isn't authentic I'm afraid, but it delivers on the rich, creamy moreishness that one might associate with Carbonara.

The below makes just enough for one person and comes in at 319 calories so is perfect for most diets.

Here's how:

1 tbsp creme fraiche
1 rasher lean smoked bacon
50g mushrooms
1/3 of an onion
1 clove garlic
1 small courgette
10g Cheddar
Drizzle of oilvio or something similar
Salt & black pepper

Firstly use the vegetable peeler to create the courgette ribbons and set to one side till later.

Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic and add to a pan on a low heat with the drizzle of oil.

Chop the bacon into small pieces and once the onion and garlic are softened add to the pan and gently cook.

Slice the mushrooms and once the bacon is cooked through add these and the courgette to the pan - gently fry for a minute or two, this is all that you need.

Add the creme fraiche and stir with a wooden spoon adding seasoning as you combine everything.

Grate in the 10g cheese and then plate up and enjoy.

Baby Bites: Trout with Vegetable Crush

I wouldn't have thought of trying baby with trout during the weaning process to be honest, but I actually picked up a pack of two boneless fillets by mistake, thinking they were salmon fillets and thought it would be worth a try. Lo and behold, Bridget wolfed this down so I thought I would share.

The below makes enough for 8 portions or more if you have a baby with a smaller appetite and freezes well. Pop out on the morning you need it and it'll defrost in time for lunch or dinner.

Trout obviously had a slightly strong flavour for little palates so this is one to introduce when weaning is well established - maybe two or three months in, and as you should at this stage be giving a more textured version of dinners to get little one used to lumps and chewing more, I've opted fona vegetable 'crush' rather than a smooth mash or puree.

220g deboned, skinless trout fillets
1 small swede
1 large carrot
1/2 head of broccoli

Firstly place the oven on a moderate heat - around 180-200 degrees.

Peel the carrot and swede and chop into equal sized pieces, place into a saucepan and cover with water and place on a medium heat. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are able to be mashed/ crushed.

Place the trout fillets in an oven proof dish and drizzle over a tiny bit of olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Chop the broccoli into small bits and five minutes before removing the swede and carrots from the heat add the broccoli to the pot.

Remove the trout from the oven and gently flake into a bowl.

Then drain the vegetables and mash with a potato masher, not going mad as you want a textured finish. I add a teaspoon of olive oil here too otherwise it can be a little dry.

Add to the trout and  mix to completely combine. Portion up and if you're serving immediately then allow to cool a little to the temperature your little one can tolerate.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Perfect Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce

Pulled pork has become very popular in the last few years on the London and general UK restaurant scene, and as with all things delicious, once I've enjoyed it out - I'm always looking to create my own version at home. I've played around with a ton of recipes and this is my absolute favourite version. It makes for unbelievably tender, melt in the mouth tasty pork and the bbq sauce just ups the ante even more.

I start with a dry rub and and have found that left for about two hours minimum gives the best result. If you can, try and leave overnight as all of the delicious, sweet and smoky flavours will really permeate into the meat. I must warn you, this is utterly addictive!

This can be served with a variety of accompaniments but my favourite way is slathered in a bun, with sweet potato wedges and some cooling slaw. Enjoy!

Pulled pork with barbecue sauce

The meat:
2.5kg shoulder of pork

The dry rub:
1.5 tbsp smoky paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp mustard powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon

The barbecue sauce:
1 tin of chopped tomatoes or jar of passata
2 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
2 red chillies, seeds left in
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp chipotle paste
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp muscavado sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper

Firstly combine all of the dry rub ingredients and then literally rub it all over every outside surface of the pork shoulder, ensuring every bit is covered, then place in an oven-proof dish or on tray, loosely cover and pop in the fridge.

Dry rub

Whilst the pork is marinating you can pull together your barbecue sauce. Firstly chop the onion and chillies and crush the garlic and add to a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil and pop on a low heat.

Once slightly softened, add the tomatoes or passata, soy sauce, honey, chipotle, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and give a good stir to combine.

Barbecue sauce

Leave to slowly cook down for 30-40 minutes then remove from the heat and set aside until you need it later on. You can of course blitz this in a blender if you want a completely smooth sauce, but I tend not to bother.

Once ready to cook the meat, pop the oven on a low heat - around 150-160 degrees, and place the pork in the oven, still loosely covered with foil but not touching the meat.

Cook on this slow heat for 3.5-4 hours, checking every 30 minutes to make sure the outside isn't becoming too charred - although you are looking for crispy skin. For the last 20 minutes of cooking, remove the foil.

Although you are cooking for a long time, the meat shouldn't become dry as it has a good fat content which keeps it nice and moist - plus you are going to re-hydrate (or as the Americans call it - give it a mop) with the barbecue sauce. Leave it to rest and cool down for 15-20 minutes and then transfer it to a chopping board.

The pork before shredding

Now return the barbecue sauce to the heat to slowly warm through again.

With a knife and fork, shred the meat - this shouldn't be at all laborious as it should fall apart easily after all that time slow-cooking - if not it should probably go back into the over for 30 minutes and then re-test.

Once completely shredded, place into a serving dish and pour over the warmed barbecue sauce and gently stir through. You can re-heat at this point but it should be warm enough as is.

The pulled pork before the sauce is added

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Baby Bites: Carrot and Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Dipping Sauce

This makes for a wonderful finger food for little ones, and you can experiment with herbs and spices and different mince to make all sorts of variations too but this one is a classic take and lamb makes for great meatballs as it has a good fat level so they remain nice and juicy.

This recipe makes enough for 16 small balls, which is plenty for four to five portions. I freeze them raw in a sealed bag, and then pop out to defrost on the morning I need them and cook fresh each time.

The tomato sauce is a basic one and makes enough for 6-8 portions which can also be used with other foods too such a chicken or fish goujons or even as a pasta sauce. This again freezes well in sealable pots or bags. 

For the meatballs:
250g lean lamb mince
2 carrots
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper

For the sauce:
2 leeks
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp olive oil

Firstly combine the lamb mince with the pepper, oregano and paprika in a large mixing bowl.

Peel the carrots and coarsely grate them straight into the mince. Use your hands to thoroughly mix together and then slowly form the balls.

Place any you are freezing into sealable bags and pop straight into the freezer.

Leave the ones you are cooking to one side for the minute.

To make the sauce firstly chop the leeks and saute in the olive oil to soften.

Add the tomatoes, the balsamic vinegar, sugar and paprika and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes and using a wooden spoon to break down the tomatoes a bit.

While the sauce is cooking away, place a sheet of tin foil on the grill and pop the meatballs on top. Then turn on the grill to a medium heat and cook until the meatballs are browned all over - this should take about 5-8 minutes.

Once the meatballs are cooked through, remove from the grill and place on a plate with a couple of sheets of kitchen towel and roll around - this is to absorb any excess oil or fat.

Allow the meatballs to cool a little and in the meantime, pour the tomato sauce into a blender and blitz to a smooth consistency.

Dish up and serve to little one once the sauce has cooled enough for him or her to handle.

Be warned, these meatballs are moreish so make extra as the parent feeding them may get tempted too!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Spanish Prawns with Chorizo, Tomatoes and Peppers

This is a really lovely Spanish inspired meal that can be on the table in 20 minutes.

I served it last night with a part-baked ciabatta that I baked and allowed to cool for five minutes before serving, some leftover salad from Sunday with Manchego and a quick garlic mayonaise (just crush a clove of garlic into a couple of tablespoons of mayonaise and a pinch of paprika). This served two of us with some left over, but if served with a couple of plates of other Spanish themed treats, it could easily serve 4. 

1 packet raw prawns
2 cooking chorizo sausages
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 tbsp fresh parsley
Good glug of olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

Firstly add the olive oil to a pan or wok and place on a low heat.

Chop the onion and chilli and crush the garlic add to the pan to gently cook down and flavour the oil.

Slice the peppers and chop the tomatoes in half and add to the pan. Season generously and use a wooden spoon or spatula to move around to evenly coat.

Chop the parsley and set aside for a moment.

Chop the chorizo into little £1 coin sized discs and add to the pan. The chorizo will exude plenty of flavour and oil and mixed with the existing ingredients this will start to form a sauce. Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes until the chorizo is cooked through.

Finally add the prawns to the pan and again move around to ensure even cooking. These will cook in a matter of 2-3 minutes, and you can tell as they will turn pink in colour.

As soon as they are cooked remove from the heat and scatter over the parsley.

Plate up onto a sharing plate or platter and then squeeze over the lemon juice and give a final sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.

A London Lunch: Pork Katsu Sandwich from Zou

Zou is a street food vendor, along Leather Lane among the plethora of street food stalls, towards the Farringdon end and directly opposite the Vietnamese Chef - or at least it is Monday-Friday.

The lunch in question was a pork Katsu sandwich, and was frankly one of the best sandwiches I've ever tried.

The pork katsu, was not dissimilar to a schnitzel; fillet of pork, flattened and coated in panko breadcrumbs and then deep fried. Very greasy and I have to say I did bookmark it for the next time I have a hangover as the stodge from the bread plus the grease seems to be perfect day-after fodder.

The bread itself was like a ciabata roll, generous in size but not unmanageable and very good quality. The pork went on the bottom half of the bread and was then layered with pickled cabbage and a slathering of ginger-infused mayonaise, a condiment that seems to have been sent from the Gods, so good!

This is then smeared with Japanese BBQ sauce, sticky, sweet and with a great tang to it.

Everyone marries together just beautifully and I can say this is one of the best things I've eaten off of Leather Lane in a long time and is a steal at only £5 a pop.