Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all!

Dinner Sunday 31 December - Leftover Jambalaya

New Year is all about getting rid of the old and starting fresh, so I HAD to get those Jambalaya leftovers out of the fridge.

Here is a nice picture of some Louisiana Cypress Bayou, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey. Nice to end the year on a such a serene vista.

Breakfast Sunday 31 December - Quince Crumble

Started by New Year's Eve off with a second portion of the Quince Crumble and coffee.

Here is a nice drawing of a quince:

Lunch Sunday 31 December - Veggie Plate with Stuffing

Just like every other household in the Western world, I am working my way through Christmas leftovers. But I have decided I am going to chuck out the leftover Walnut & Cheddar Cheese Balls - too calorific!

Veggie Plate with Stuffing
130g shredded Savoy cabbage, steamed
100g carrots, steamed
125g broccoli, steamed
1 serving leftover beetroot in citrus sauce
1 serving leftover stuffing

Nutrition Data
Calories (kcal) 531.8
Carbohydrate (g) 77.3
Protein (g) 16.9
Fat (g) 18.7
Fibre (g) 16.4

Dinner Saturday 30 December - Quorn "Ribsters" with Plantain, Beets in Citrus Sauce & Cabbage

Quorn "Ribsters" with Plantain, Beets in Citrus Sauce & Cabbage

I bought a plantain from the Turkish shop in Welling, too. Not sure why I bought one there, as there certainly is no shortage of plantain in Chapel Market, but there you go.

Haven't had plantain in ages and my God - I had forgotten how delicious it is. I just sliced it and cooked it over a low heat in a non-stick pan with a spritz of spray oil. This was a ripe plantain and I always remember seeing NY cooks do it on one side until browned and soft, then flip it over, mash it flat with the back of a fork and cook other side until similarly browned and crisp. Simple and utterly delicious.

Anyway, had it as a side with some Quorn "Ribsters" from the freezer hoard, steamed Savoy cabbage beetroot in citrus sauce.

Beets in Citrus Sauce
6 cooked beetroot (about 300g)
1 teaspoons sugar
1 satsuma (140g)
10g cornflour
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Juice the satsuma and use a reamer to extract as much pulp from it as well. You want about 150ml juice and pulp. If your satsuma is not up to it, then use more than one or add a bit of water if it is only a tad off.

Add the sugar and cornflour to the juice and mix to dissolve the cornflour. Cook over low heat until thickened. Stir in the sliced beetroot and balsamic vinegar and serve.

Serves 2
Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 119.4
Carbohydrate (g) 27.1
Protein (g) 3.3
Fat (g) 0.5
Fibre (g) 3.9

Lunch Saturday 30 December - Composed Salad

Composed Salad
100g cooked prawns
1 teaspoon Mauritian chilli paste
3 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
2 small gem hearts lettuce (about 80g)
200g asparagus, cooked
100g fine beans, cooked
2 fat ripe tomatoes (about 300g)
3 hard cooked quail's eggs
celery salt

Mix together the Mauritian chilli paste and mayonnaise. Add the cooked prawns and mix well.

Line a serving plate with the lettuce and arrange the other ingredients attractively on top. Sprinkle the quail's eggs with a little celery salt and serve.

Nutrition Summary
Calories (kcal) 316.3
Protein (g) 30.1
Carbohydrate (g) 23.4
Fat (g) 11.7
Fibre (g) 10.1

The chilli paste is used as a table condiment in Mauritius. I could have sworn that I have posted the recipe for this Mauritian Chilli Paste before, but I cannot find it in the blog, so here goes.

Mauritian Chilli Paste
250g red chilli peppers, chopped fine
300g onions, chopped fine
35g ginger, grated
2 tablespoons/30g malt vinegar
5 tablespoons/75ml sunflower oil

Blend to a smooth paste the chillies, crushed ginger and the onions. Put in a bowl and mix well with the white vinegar.

Heat a deep saucepan and pour in the oil. When hot add the chilli paste. Mix well, allow to simmer for three to five minutes. Stir all the time to prevent burning and until well blended. The secret is allow all the moisture within the paste to evaporate without overcooking the chilli paste.

Allow to cool and put in clean jars. Store in the rrfrigerator (although I dare any microbe to live in all this chilli!)

Use with all meals. Makes 390 grams.

Nutrition Data per gram
Calories (kcal) 2.2
Carbohydrate (g) 0.1
Protein (g) 0.0
Fat (g) 0.2
Fibre (g) 0.0

Breakfast Saturday 30 December - Quince Crumble and coffee

I had two quince that I bought at the lovely little Turkish shop down in Welling, so I decided the make one of them into a crumble to eat for breakfasts. It might seem odd to eat crumble for breakfast, but really, it is fruit and oats, so what's the problem?

Quince undergoes an almost alchemical transformation when cooked. It starts out looking like an apple - yellow skin, pale yellow white flesh and it turns a deep pink to deep red when cooked. Amazing stuff.

Quince can be sort of tart on its own - I like that, and I like the contrast between the tart fruit and the sweet crumble. But, if you like it sweeter, then add some sugar to the quince during cooking.

Quince Crumble
one quince, peeled, cored and cut into cubes (mine weighed 340g)
juice of 1/2 lemon
30g butter, melted
50g golden unrefined sugar
30g oat bran or oatmeal
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamon

Put the quince in an oven proof dish. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add enough water to cover. Cover the dish and bake in a moderate oven (Gas 4) for about 1 hour until quince is tender and has turned red.

Make crumble topping my mixing together the butter, sugar, flour, oats and spices. Sprinkle over the top of the baked quince and return the oven, uncovered, for about 35 minutes until the top is browned and crisp.

Makes 3 servings

Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 282.5
Carbohydrate (g) 52.1
Protein (g) 3.9
Fat (g) 7.4
Fibre (g) 4.2

Dinner Friday 29 December - Jambalaya

Jambalaya is another one of those dishes (like chilli) that seems to have as many recipes as cooks. As long as it contains the Cajun trilogy of onions, peppers and celery, it is on the right track. Here is my recipe.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped (mine was 125g)
2-3 cloves garlic
red and/or green chillis to taste, chopped fine
3 stalks celery (about 120g), chopped
1 sweet red pepper (about 80g), chopped
1 small green pepper (about 100g), chopped
1 can (400g) peeled plum tomatoes in juice
good pinch of thyme
same of oregano
a bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 pint (10 fluid ounces) vegetable or fish stock
200g cooked prawns

100g rice (dry weight), cooked according to package instructions

Heat olive oil and saute onions & garlic over low until translucent and beginning to turn golden. Add the celery, chillis and peppers. Over and cook over low heat until veggies are starting to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, herbs and stock. Cover and cook over low heat until everything is well cooked and reduced.

To serve, stir in the prawns and heat through. Ladle over hot rice in a deep bowl and sprinkle with a bit of filé gumbo (optional).

Serves 2

Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 377.1
Carbohydrate (g) 56.1
Protein (g) 21.6
Fat (g) 7.7
Fibre (g) 5.4

Lunch Friday 29 December - Composed Salad

Composed Salad
100g shredded romaine lettuce
200g cooked asparagus
3 hard boiled quail's eggs
100g cooked fine beans
2 fat vine ripe tomatoes (about 300g)
125g smoked trout fillet

Using some of my "bargain" asparagus and some of the smoked trout I bought out in Welling. It is really nice and was a total steal at 94p a packet! This one is smoked with garlic and pepper.

Nutrition Data
Calories (kcal) 353.6
Carbohydrate (g) 17.6
Protein (g) 43.4
Fat (g) 12.3
Fibre (g) 10.4

Breakfast Friday 29 December - Mango & Clementine Smoothie

Started off the day with a smoothie mado from mango and clementines. And very nice it was, too. Lovin' my 10 for £1.00 mangoes...

Dinner Thursday 28 December - Asparagus Fusilli

Asparagus Fusilli
I have been getting some real bargains on asparagus in Sainsbury lately - they are £1.99 per bundle but they have a "Buy 2 Bundles for £3.00" promotion, too.

Nobody seems to be going for asparagus over the holidays. It is one of my favourite veggies, so I have been cashing it and buying the bundles that are on their last day of "Best Before" and have been marked down to 80p per bundle.

BUT, they still give you the multi buy discount on top, so I got two bundles for basically 62 pence! It's nuts and I am loving it.

This is the same recipe as I made last week.

Fusilli with Asparagus Sauce

Lunch Thursday 28 December - Veg-0-rama

Today's Veg-0-Rama comprised
- 200g mashed potatoes
- 100g fine beans
- 150g carrots
- 200g cabbage
all steamed and served with some onion gravy leftover from Christmas.

Nutrition Data
Calories (kcal) 316.7
Carbohydrate (g) 56.9
Protein (g) 9.3
Fat (g) 7.1
Fibre (g) 11.2

Breakfast Thursday 28 December - Toast & Coffee

More toasted Allinson's Oatmeal White bread with some vegetarian Bovril spread on it and a couple of cups of mud.

Lunch Wednesday 27 December - Thai Style Mango & Prawn Salad

Thai Style Mango & Prawn Salad
This is a salad I came up with back in the summer and was eating a lot during summer 2006. I enjoyed the stir steam so much last night, I decided to reprise this Thai inspired salad (and use up some mangoes!)

Recipe here

Breakfast Wednesday 27 December - Toast & Coffee

Had some of the Allinson's Oatmeal White Bread which I bought to made stuffing with (I had a coupon!).

Dinner Tuesday 26 December - Stir Steamed Veggies & Prawns

There is a bit of a tradition in the New York Jewish community to have Chinese food on Christmas.

Here is a link to the engagingly named Jew FAQ

What a great idea - so I had my usual Stir Steamed Vegetables & Prawns Recipe . Nice and light after all the heavy stuff.

Lunch Tuesday 26 December - Leftovers from Christmas

Ah, I guess it is inevitable to eat Christmas leftovers on Boxing Day. I some stuffing, roast potatoes & parsnips, onion gravy, Brussels sprouts with chestnut and some steamed cabbage.

Skipped the walnut & cheddar cheese balls - I think they are just too rich for me any more!

Breakfast Tuesday 26 December - Cloverleaf Rolls and mangoes

Same as yesterday morning - a smoothie made with mango and lime and two cloverleaf rolls with coffee.

Lunch Monday 25 December - Christmas Dinner!

I tend to have my Christmas "dinner" late afternon - after the Queen's Speech, but earlier than I would normally eat dinner.

This year I settle in at about 15:30 with
  • Walnut & Cheddar Cheese Balls in Bechamel Sauce
  • Bread & Chestnut stuffing
  • Roast Parsnips
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Fine Beans
  • Brussels Sprouts Sauteed with Chestnuts
  • Onion Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce

This meal was a staggering 1367.4 calories. I enjoyed it, but think I need to rethink my Christmas traditions. I have been making this same meal (well, nearly) for the best part of twenty years.

This year, it made me feel incredibly full and to be frank - unwell! I am not used to so much rich food any more. And I have heaps of leftovers, despite having halved my recipes.

Way too full to eat another meal today, although did nibble on olives and peanuts in the evening.

Think next year I will plan a nice seafood Christmas.

Breakfast Monday 25 December - Mangoes and Cloverleaf Rolls

Started off my Christmas with a mango smoothie made from a couple of the mangoes I picked up in Chapel Market and some lime juice. Also had two cloverleaf rolls with butter & coffee.

Merry Christmas!

Dinner Sunday 24 December - Stilton and nibbles

Did not actually have a proper dinner today, just had a bag of mixed salad leaves and then some Stilton Cheese with Ryvita crispbreads, some black olives, some celery and some sweet and salty roasted peanuts I made from some of the monkey nuts I bought.

The celery and olives are a nod to my Mother's traditional "relish tray" that appeared every Thanksgiving and Christmas and comprised celery, olives and radishes.

The sweet and salty peanuts were too tasty - a tablespoon of butter, a couple of tablespoons of sugar, melted together. Add the peanuts stir to coat them, then sprinkle with Chinese 5 Spice powder and salt. Far too tasty...

Lunch Sunday 24 December - Quorn Escalope, Roasted Parsnips and Fine Beans

Bought some parsnips to roast for Christmas dinner, so had some for today's lunch along with a Quorn "Creamy Gruyere" escalope from the freezer and some fine beans.

Have spent most of the day cooking for tomorrow's Christmas lunch. I honestly don't know why I bother - it is just me, after all.

Breakfast Sunday 24 December - Mangoes and toast

Got an absolute bargain in Chapel Market - a box of 10 mangoes for £1.00. So, had one for breakfast along with some of the store bought bread I bought to make stuffing with.

Dinner Saturday 23 December - Pistachios & G&Ts

Yup, I had so much lunch I was not really hungry, but I did manage to eat the 100 grams of pistachios I bought earlier with a couple of gin and tonics.

I have not had any pistachios for yonks; they were very tasty. 602 calories per 100g - yipes!

Lunch Saturday 23 December - A Smörgåsbord

Went out to visit L. in Welling and make Christmas cookies with the boys. So, we made sugar cookies, wrapped Christmas gifts, listened to Krimbo music and generally made merry.

Also visited a fabulous little Turkish grocer in Welling who had all sorts of interesting things. I am such a sucker in shops like that. I bought some interesting looking pasta, some Turkish crushed chilli, some anise tea, a gorgeous head of celery with luxuriant leaves (like the Victoria one I got from Waitrose a while back), a plantain, some persimmons, some comb honey, monkey nuts in the shell, some pistachios and some quinces. I have not seen fresh quinces in AGES and was very excited to see them. Bought two.

We also went to the Lidl in Welling and I picked up some fishy bargains - three different flavours of smoked trout, a tub of red "caviar" and two tubs of crayfish tails.

Had a nice smörgåsbord style lunch at L's - homemade hummus, Stilton, halloumi, a dip made with low fat cream cheese and spring onion, cherry tomatoes, celery, carrots, olives, pickles, tiny little crackers and pretzels and some of the smoked trout. Delicious, although I reckon it was probably getting on for 700 calories.

Here's an old picture of Welling High Street from the Bexley Council website

Breakfast Saturday 23 December - Shredded Wheat

And I am now officially bored of Shredded Wheat.

Dinner Friday 22 December - Fusilli with Asparagus Sauce

Fusilli with Asparagus Sauce
150g asparagus, cooked
1/2 pint asparagus stock
2 tablespoons single cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon corn flour
75 g dry weight whole wheat fusilli, cooked according to package instruction
10g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

Add the crushed garlic to the asparagus stock and simmer over low heat until garlic is cooked, about 10 minutes. Mix the cornflour to a paste with a little cold water and add the the stock to thicken it. Cook over low heat until thickened, about another 5 minutes.
Add the cream to the sauce along with the asparagus, cut into bit sized pieces. Add the cooked pasta and stir through to mix all ingredients.
Garnish the the grated cheese.

Nutrition Data
Calories (kcal) 395.4
Carbohydrate (g) 56.7
Protein (g) 18.1
Fat (g) 10.7
Fibre (g) 10.1

Lunch Friday 22 December - Leftover Cous Cous Salad

Had the other half of the cous cous salad that I made on Wednesday 20 December and a cloverleaf roll.

Had some cream which was on its last date and so decided to try using it up in some bread dough. As the dough turned out very fine textured, I decided to make bread rolls with it instead of a loaf.

Theses were delicious!

Cream Cloverleaf Rolls
5g dried yeast
4 fluid ounces water
30g unrefined golden sugar
1 large, free range organic egg 85 ml single cream
400g extra strong white bread flour

Mix the sugar and water together and sprinkle to yeast on top. Leave it to "bloom" for 10-15 minutes.

When the yeast has bloomed, add the egg, cream and 1/2 the flour. Beat well and leave the sponge to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.

Stir down the sponge and add the rest of the flour. Knead well for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Leave to rise again.

When doubled, punch down and knead again. Divide into 12 equal portion. Divide each portion into three pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Drop three balls into each cup of a standard muffin tin.

Allow to rise for a final time until the dough fills the cups, then bake for about 15 minutes in a hot oven, Gas Mark 6.

Makes 12 rolls

Nutrition Data per roll
Calories (kcal) 148.1
Carbohydrate (g) 25.8
Protein (g) 5.6
Fat (g) 2.5
Fibre (g) 1.1

Breakfast Friday 22 December - Shredded Wheat


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dinner Thursday 21 December - Veg-0-Rama

Lunch Thursday 21 December - Creamed Mushrooms on Toast

Creamed Mushrooms on Toast
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 echalion shallot
2 cloves garlic
small handful chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 pint vegetable stock
2 tablespoons thick single cream
2 slices bread
30g grated half fat cheddar

Cook the mushroom, garlic and shallot in the vegetable stock over low heat until all the vegetables are very soft and the stock is reduced to nothing. This took about 1 hour. Then stir in the cream and parsley and warm through.

Serve scattered with the cheese and accompanied by toast.

Nutrition Summary
Calories (kcal) 440.2
Protein (g) 26.0
Carbohydrate (g) 51.2
Fat (g) 15.0
Fibre (g) 6.0

You may have noticed that I am using a different plate. I recently noticed that my favourite plate from my Scraffito dinner service has a crack running through it. I have a service for 4, but I am sad to see that one of them has developed a crack, so I have switched to my old enamel ware plates while I look for a replacement for the Scraffito plate.

I bought the years ago in Habitat and they are now discontinued.

Breakfast Thursday 21 December - Shredded Wheat & Satsuma

Two more Shredded Wheat biccies bit the dust, along with three satsumas and the usual coffee.

Dinner Wednesday 20 December - Roasted Butternut Squash with vegetables

Roasted Butternut Squash with Vegetables
1/2 butternut squash (about 300g)
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
2 echalion shallots
2-3 cloves garlic
red chilli flakes to taste

200g new potatoes
80g January King cabbage
100g fine beans

I had the other halves of these peppers left over from the cous cous salad, so decided to use them to stuff and roast with a half a butternut I had in the fridge.

I used part of the peppers, shallots and garlic chopped finely and flavoured with red chilli flakes to stuff the butternut cavity. The rest of the peppers, shallots and garlic was simply sprayed with some olive oil and roasted along with the squash until everything was tender and golden - it took around 40 minutes.

I also bunged some parboiled new potatoes into the roasting pan along with some "good with Everything" seasoned sea salt.

The January King cabbage and fine beans are just steamed.

This was lovely!

Nutrition Data
Calories (kcal) 407.2
Carbohydrate (g) 75.8
Protein (g) 14.4
Fat (g) 7.2
Fibre (g) 17.7

Lunch Wednesday 20 December - Cous Cous Salad

Cous Cous Salad with Asparagus and Quail's Eggs
juice of one lime
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon hemp oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5-6 hot red & green chillis (or to taste)
230g cous-cous, prepared according to package instructions
handful fresh coriander leaves
handful fresh flat leafed parsley
1 spicy Turkish or Marmara style pepper, sliced finely
5 spring onions, sliced
150g cooked fine beans, cut into 1" segments
salt and pepper to taste

romaine lettuce leaves
200g cooked asparagus
3 hard boiled quail's eggs
Mix together the oils and lime juice. Add the chillis and garlic to make a dressing.

Combine together the cous-cous, herbs, pepper, spring onions and fine beans. Toss well and add the dressing, then toss again. Leave to stand for 20 minutes to develop the flavours.

Line a plate with the romaine and pile the cous cous salad on top. Garnish with asparagus & quail's eggs.

Nutrition Summary
Calories (kcal) 611.4
Protein (g) 30.1
Carbohydrate (g) 96.2
Fat (g) 12.8
Fibre (g) 10.4

Breakfast Wednesday 20 December - Shredded Wheat & blackberries

Ate the other punnet of Waitrose blackberries with 2 more Shredded Wheat biscuits.

Dinner Tuesday 19 December - Chinese Style Stir Steamed Vegetables & Prawns

Ah, this old chestnut. Yes, for the umpteenth time, the stir steam appears! Full details can be found here

Stir Steamed Vegetables & Prawns Recipe

Today's selection was

  • 1 carrot
  • 60g baby corn
  • 50g mange tout
  • 125g broccoli
  • 110g prawns
  • 4 spring onions
  • 60g shiitake mushrooms

I now buy mu shiitake from Waitrose, because they are grown in either the UK by the Livesey Brothers or in the Netherlands. Fewer food miles and not from China. I do not understand why Sainsbury's have now started buying their shiitake from China - they used to be from the UK. Price, I presume.

Here is the Livesey Bros website

Lunch Tuesdy 19 December - Leftover Stewed Okra

Polished off the other portion of stewed okra with another two cornbread muffins for lunch.

Breakfast Tuesday 19 December - Shredded Wheat & Blackberries

Started my day with two Shredded Wheat biscuits and a punnet of blackberries from Waitrose.

Dinner Monday 18 December - Prawn & Cous Cous Salad

Prawn & Cous Cous Salad
1 teaspoon olive oil
juice of 1 lime
50g dry cous-cous, prepared according to packet instructions
110g cooked prawns
3-4 red & green hot chillis (or to taste)
1/2 yellow pepper, cut into thin slices
1/2 red pepper, cut into thin slices
1/2 green pepper, cut into thin slices
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
handful fresh coriander leaves
4 spring onions, sliced
50g mange tout, steamed

I used vegetable stock to prepare the cous cous, for a little extra flavour. The brand I had only requires soaking, not cooked, but brands vary so follow the instructions on the pack.

Simply combine all ingredients and mix well. Leave to stand for 20 minutes or so before serving to the flavours can develop. I used the mange tout as garnish in this instance.

Nutrition Data
Calories (kcal) 357.8
Carbohydrate (g) 47.5
Protein (g) 27.6
Fat (g) 6.9
Fibre (g) 4.9

Lumch Monday 18 December - Leftover Cauliflower Cheese

Just had the other portion of Cauliflower Cheese from last night's dinner along iwth more asparagus, runner beans and a mixed salad.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Breakfast Monday 18 December - Shredded Wheat

Well, time to crack open a new box of cereal, so I opted for the Shredded Wheat. I had two biscuits with milk and coffee.

Only just realised that they are made by the evil Nestle, so will not be buying again. A question for the makers:

If the standard serving size is 2 biscuits, then why are they packaged in lots of 3 biscuits?

Stuff like that drives me mad.

Dinner Sunday 17 December - Cauliflower Cheese with veggies

Quick & Easy Cheese Sauce
8 fluid ounces semi skimmed milk
10g sauce flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried English mustard powder
1 teaspoon Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder (optional)
50g half fat cheddar cheese

I call this my "blender" cheese sauce because that is what I use to make it.
Put the milk in a blender and start it whizzing. Add the sauce flour and seasonings to the whizzing milk and blend well. Cut the cheese into chunks/slices and toss in the blender as well. Give it all a good whizz round on high speed until the cheese is "grated" by the blender.

Pour the contents into a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over LOW heat stirring all the while. It will thicken as it heats, about 10 minutes or so. Watch it like a hawk so the bottom doesn't burn and keep stirring.

No added fat (e.g. butter based roux which is normal in white sauces/cheese sauces) so comparatively low calorie.

Sauce flour is very very fine white flour, especially milled to thicken sauces. I supposed you could substitute cornflour, but I have not tried it.

Makes 2 pretty generous servings.

Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 155.9
Carbohydrate (g) 11.0
Protein (g) 12.7
Fat (g) 6.8
Fibre (g) 0.3

I used the sauce to make a baked Cauliflower Cheese. I had some leeks, so added some chopped leeks to the cauliflower cheese as a bit of garnish and had the cauliflower cheese with asparagus & runner beans.

Lunch Sunday 17 December - Stewed Okra & Cornbread

Stewed Okra
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 fat tomatoes, chopped (about 300g)
1 onion, chopped (about 150g)
3 medium stalks celery
1 red or green pepper, chopped
5-6 green chillis (or to taste)
1/2 pint vegetable stock
280g okra, trimmed and cut into 1" lengths
small handful fresh parsley, chopped
filé powder - if you can get it

Saute the garlic and onions in the oil until soft and lightly browned. Add the chopped tomatoes, peppers, chillis, celery and vegetable stock and cook covered, over low heat, for about 30 minutes.

When the vegetables are very tender and the stock is reduced, add the okra and cook for about another 10-15 minutes, until the okra is just done. Stir in the parsley and just before serving, add the filé gumbo powder

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 134.7
Carbohydrate (g) 17.8
Protein (g) 6.6
Fat (g) 4.5
Fibre (g) 9.1

Well, I know okra is one of those "love it or hate it" foods, but I love it. Most people have just had it badly cooked and stringy. Stewed okra (sort of a gumbo without the rice or meat) and cornbread muffins is pure white trash Southern comfort food to me.

I got a big bag of okra (aka lady's fingers) in the market today for a quid and got stewing with it's "Cajun trilogy" mates . I even have some filé gumbo (powdered sassafras leaf) brought back from the US to make it 100% authentic!

Cornbread Muffins
150g plain flour
90g yellow corn meal
50g sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons (yup - 5) baking powder
1 large free range organic egg
10ml semi skimmed milk
30g butter, melted

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl or measuring cup, mix together the milk, egg and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry all at once and mix just enough the incorporate all the ingredients - do not over mix.

Divide the mixture between 8 paper lined cupcake tins and bake at Gas Mark 6 for about 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Makes 8 muffins.

Nutrition Data per muffin
Calories (kcal) 168.2
Carbohydrate (g) 30.0
Protein (g) 4.3
Fat (g) 3.8
Fibre (g) 1.3

Here are some sassafras leaves. Filé powder or filé gumbo is just dried, powdered sassafras leaves. It adds a unique flavour to the dish, but must not be cooked for it goes all stringy and unpleasant.

Here is an interesting article about how to make your own filé .

Breakfast Sunday 17 December - Toast & strawberries

Got two nice boxes on strawberries for £1.00 in Chapel Market yesterday, so they were breakfast this AM along with some of the homemade malted granary bread.

Dinner Saturday 16 December -Roasted Winter Vegetables

Again, this meal was a complete repeat of Lunch on 15 December. I had the other portion of the Roasted Winter Vegetables with some steamed January King cabbage.

Lunch Saturday 16 December - Leftover Fisherman's Pie

No picture, as just had the other portion of last night's Fisherman's Pie with fine beans and broccoli.

Breakfast Saturday 16 December - Malted granary toast and satsumas

Enjoy the winter fruits, so had some nice satsumas with my toast.

Dinner Friday 15 December - Fisherman's Pie

Fisherman's Pie
250ml semi skimmed milk
1/2 shallot (about 50g)
1 bay leaf
a few dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon corn flour

1 teaspoon dried chervil
small handful fresh parsley, chopped fine
10g fresh chives, snipped into rings

110g prawns, cooked
160g cod fillet, cooked and flaked
6 hard boiled quails eggs
2 potatoes (about 380g)
2 tablespoons single cream
50g petit pois

Add the bay leaf, thyme and shallot to the milk. Bring to just below simmering and allow to cook, covered, for about 10 minutes to infuse the flavours into the milk. Strain out the shallot and herbs and discard.

Mix a bit of the flavoured milk with the corn flour to make a smooth paste and then gradually add all of the milk. Cook over low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the chervil, parsley and chives.

Arrange the cod and prawns in a casserole dish. Sprinkle over the petit pois and arrange the halved quails eggs on to of the mixture.

Pour over the sauce and ensure that everything is evenly covered.

Boil and mash the potatoes with the cream. Cover the pie with the mashed potatoes and bake in a moderate oven, about Gas Mark 4, for 40 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.

Makes 2 servings
Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 468.7
Carbohydrate (g) 50.7
Protein (g) 37.9
Fat (g) 14.0
Fibre (g) 4.0

I had the Fisherman's Pie with some broccoli and purple carrots.

Lunch Friday 15 December - Roasted Winter Vegetables

Winter Roasted Vegetables
500g parsnip
250g beetroot
1 red onion
2 echalion shallots
6 cloves garlic
400g butternut squash
salt, pepper, crushed red chilli & herbs to taste

This one is a little different, as the veggies here cook at different rates. The beets can take up to an hour to boil, depending on their size. The parsnips don' t take longer and the squash takes only 20 minutes or so.

Cook the beetroots, unpeeled, in boiling water until tender.

Wash and pare the other vegetables and cut into similar sizes.

Steam the parsnips 5 minutes to partially cook. Place in a roasting tin with the cooked beetroot and slices of the raw butternut squash.

Add the shallots, halved and the garlic cloves. Spray with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and herbs and toss well to coat. I used some more of the Lakeland "Good with Everything" herb mix and some red chilli flakes on the butternut.

Roast in a hot oven for about 35-40 minutes or until everything is cooked and browning on the edges.

Makes 2 servings

Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 348.2
Carbohydrate (g) 65.9
Protein (g) 11.4
Fat (g) 5.7
Fibre (g) 18.9

I had this with a serving of sauteed January King cabbage.

Breakfast Friday 15 December - Grilled tomatoes and toast

Started today off with two fat grilled tomatoes and some hmemade malted granary toast.

Dinner Thursday 14 December - Fusilli with Hot Smoked Salmon & Asparagus

Fusilli with Hot Smoked Salmon & Asparagus
200g asparagus , steamed until tender
200ml asparagus stock
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons single cream
115g pack of hot smoked salmon
75g whole wheat fusilli

I made this with asparagus stock, but you could use any sort of vegetable stock, I suppose.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. meanwhile, make the sauce by heating together the crushed garlic, asparagus stock and cream mixed with the cornflour. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, until thickened.

Add the asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces and the smoked salmon, flaked. Stir in the cooked pasta and serve.

Nutrition Summary
Calories (kcal) 557.4
Protein (g) 45.4
Carbohydrate (g) 60.1
Fat (g) 15.3
Fibre (g) 11.7

Lunch Thursday 14 December - Prawns with mixed leaves and Salsa

1 fat ripe tomato, chopped (about 150g)
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
50g spring onions, finely sliced
large handful fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 clove garlic, crushed
4-5 chillis, chopped (or to taste)
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and chill.

Nutrition Data
Calories (kcal) 103.0
Carbohydrate (g) 20.2
Protein (g) 4.2
Fat (g) 1.1
Fibre (g) 4.8

This salad is another "garbage salad" - it is made up from some beetroot leaves, some radish leaves and some romaine lettuce. I also added some raw beetroot cut into fine julienne. I love my "free" salad (and have written about it before ).

I just filled the bowl with the mixed leaves, piled the salsa on top and garnished with 100g of prawns.

Breakfast Thursday 14 December - Malted Granary Bread & clementines

Decided to celebrate the demise of the M&S museli by making some bread. So, I made a simple malted granary loaf and somehow, I never got around to taking a photo of it. Oh well - you know what bread looks like, right?

Malted Granary Bread
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
500ml warm water
400g Hovis Malted Granary flour
200g extra strong white bread flour
1 large free range egg
40g dried skimmed milk powder
55g malt extact

Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water and leave to "bloom" for about 10-15 minutes.

When the yeast is foaming, add the malt extract, milk powder, egg, salt, and malted granary flour. Mix well to a batter or sponge and leave to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Stir down and add half the white flour. Mix well and turn out onto a board covered with the rest of the flour. Knead until all the flour is incorporated and the loaf is smooth and elastic.

Pop into an oiled bowl and leave to rise, covered, for about an hour or until double in bulk.

Knock back and knead again for 100 strokes or about 5 minutes.

Shape into loaves and leave for the final rising.

When well risen, bake in a moderate over, around 350 degrees or Gas 6 until browned and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.

I did this as one large loaf in a bean tin (see here for the bean tin story)

Dinner Wednesday 13 December - Cod with Coriander Sauce

I had a huge bunch of coriander from Chapel Market and was trying to think of ways to use it, so I made this sauce which is loosely based on pesto.

Coriander Sauce
60g walnut pieces
6 small green chillies
3 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
50g fresh coriander leaves
salt & pepper to taste
Process all ingredients together in a blender, food processor or mortar & pestle to a rough paste.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 231.4
Carbohydrate (g) 4.9
Protein (g) 6.7
Fat (g) 21.0
Fibre (g) 1.5

I used one portion on top of a cod fillet which I then baked and served with some runner beans and broccoli.

Nutrition Summary for entire meal
Calories (kcal) 431.6
Protein (g) 43.1
Carbohydrate (g) 12.4
Fat (g) 23.7
Fibre (g) 7.6

Lunch Wenesday 13 December - Roasted Winter Veggies & Brussels Sprouts

Just finished off the second portion of winter roast veggies from yesterday with a nice big (200g) portion of Brussels Sprouts.

Nutrition Summary
Calories (kcal) 399.9
Protein (g) 15.9
Carbohydrate (g) 65.6
Fat (g) 9.3
Fibre (g) 20.8

Breakfast Wednesday 13 December - Last of the M&S Muesli!

Yay! I have finally finished off the last of the M&S Fruit & Bran Muesli. This means that I now only have:

1) Shredded Wheat (18 biscuits)
2) All Bran (750g box)
3) Morn Flake Oat bran

left in the house. The cereal hoard is diminishing!

The muesli met its end with another Rocha pear and some clementines.

Dinner Tuesday 12 December - Swordfish Steak with vegetables and a creamy sauce

Had the other M&S swordfish steak, so just pan fried it in a non-stick skillet and had with mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and runner beans.

The sauce is basically just a Velouté sauce - vegetable stock thickened with a bit of cornflour and enriched with 2 tablespoons of single cream.

Nutrition Summary
Calories (kcal) 497.2
Protein (g) 36.9
Carbohydrate (g) 58.0
Fat (g) 14.5
Fibre (g) 10.9

Lunch Tuesday 12 December - Winter Roasted Vegetables

Winter Roasted Vegetables

300g Jerusalem artichokes
300g parsnips
300g baby Chantenay carrots
2 eschalion shallots
6 cloves garlic (or to taste)
spray olive oil
salt, pepper, mixed herbs

This is a bit on an homage to winter veggies - I love the sweet & earthy flavours of Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips!

Could not be simpler to prepare - cut wash and pare vegetables and cut into similar sizes. Steam the Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and carrots for 5 minutes to partially cook. Add the shallots, halved and the garlic cloves. Spray with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and herbs and toss well to coat. I used some more of the Lakeland "Good with Everything" herb mix.

Roast in a hot oven for about 35-40 minutes or until everything is cooked and browning on the edges.

This makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Data per serving
Calories (kcal) 329.7
Carbohydrate (g) 59.3
Protein (g) 9.3
Fat (g) 7.2
Fibre (g) 15.0

According to the Wikipedia:
"The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.), also called the sunroot or sunchoke or topinambur, is a flowering plant native to North America grown throughout the temperate world for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.

Despite its name, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relation to Jerusalem, and little to do with artichokes. The name Jerusalem is due to folk etymology; when the Jerusalem artichoke was first discovered by Europeans it was called Girasole, the Italian word for sunflower. The Jerusalem artichoke is a type of sunflower, in the same genus as the garden sunflower Helianthus annuus. Over time the name Girasole transformed into Jerusalem, and to avoid confusion people have recently started to refer to it as sunchoke or sunroot, which is closer to the original Native American name for the plant.

The artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke's name comes from its taste of its edible tuber, which is a cross between a radish and an artichoke.

The tubers are gnarly and uneven, vaguely resembling ginger root, with a crisp texture when raw. Unlike most tubers, but in common with other members of the Asteraceae (including the artichoke), the tubers store the carbohydrate inulin (not to be confused with insulin) instead of starch. For this reason, Jerusalem artichoke tubers are an important source of fructose for industry. The carbohydrates gives the tubers a tendency to break down and dissolve when cooked, in addition to giving them a legendary facility to produce flatulence.

Jerusalem artichokes are sold in the produce departments of many supermarkets. The freshest roots are plumpish and vibrant in appearance. If they are left too long in the open, they become wrinkled and soft and can develop a bitter taste."

Never noticed that I was especially parpy after eating them!

Breakfast Tuesday 12 December - Muesli & Raspberries

STILL working my way through the M&S muesli.... sometimes it feels like I will never eaten it all.

Anyway, another portion down this AM with a nice punnet of raspberries.

Dinner Monday 11 December - Swordfish Steak and Chinese Style Veggies

Swordfish Steak and Chinese Style Veggies
1 swordfish steak (about 130g)
200g bean sprouts, blanched
1 red Romano pepper, cut into strips
150g sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise
4 spring onions
small handful coriander leaves
1 serving Chinese Style Sauce

This is basically just another variation on my standard Stir Steamed Vegetables . I had a portion of the sauce around, so steamed the sugar snaps and red pepper strips for a couple of minutes, then added the beansprouts, spring onions and coriander to the sauce just long enough to heat everything through.

Nutrition Data
Calories (kcal) 368.2
Carbohydrate (g) 31.5
Protein (g) 38.3
Fat (g) 9.8
Fibre (g) 6.1

The swordfish steak is just seared in a non-stick pan - simple. I have not had swordfish is a while and I had forgotten how nice it is. I know that there are a lot of concerns over heavy metals, especially mercury. Must check it out and see if this is still a concern.