Traditional English Faggots. But Now Low Carb!

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Nothing evokes more nostalgic memories of childhood than a good faggot. The nation’s firm favourite will always be the unbeatable “Mr Brain’s” [pictured below]; but alas they’re a little carb-heavy for us keto-fans; so I’ve done a paleo-friendly version which was an unmitigated success on every level!

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Traditionally, faggots are made predominantly with pork. But I split these 50/50 pork and beef mince, to add succulence and richness. Where breadcrumbs and rusk normally form the binding; ground almonds, flaxseed and coconut-flour do the job every bit as well; making these sufficiently low in carbohydrate for diabetics, paleo-followers and those on a ketogenic plan.

Some people can be a little be wary of things like liver. Feel free to leave it out; but it really adds to the richness and depth of flavour. So up to you; but I firmly recommend it!

Into a large mixing bowl, add 500g of pork mince and 500g of beef mince. This quantity will make enough for 4 people, so halve the mixture if you’re feeding fewer than that. Pour in one cup of ground almonds, 2/3 of a cup of millet/flaxseed, then half a cup of coconut flour. In a food-processor, pulse a large onion, and add to the bowl; then two pork-livers until you get a semi-smooth liquid, which would happily pride the set of a Nightmare on Elmstreet [I’m showing my age here]. With a spatula, ease this into the mix; then sprinkle in a tablespoon of dried sage, another of dried oregano, than a generous grind of salt and pepper. Now beat one large egg, and add to the rest.

To form the meatballs, I tend to don a pair of disposable kitchen-gloves. If you’re feeling sustainable however, or quite simply have a thing for squishy meat-mixtures between your fingers; then go au naturel! Mix the ingredient thoroughly, until well combined; then shape into roughly the size of a hockey ball [think halfway between a tennis-ball and a croquet-ball], placing onto a large plate as you go.

In a solid sauté pan, heat a glug of sunflower or rapeseed oil [something with a high burning point, so your kitchen doesn’t fill with smoke], then add the faggots to the pan a couple at a time, sealing each one on a minimum of 2 to 3 sides. The whole thing doesn’t have to be browned, but they need to maintain their shape; hence the minimum. Once cooked, transfer the meatballs to a large deep-sided baking-tray; then into the oven they go for half an hour to 40 minutes, whilst you get on with the sauce.

In the same pan that you sautéed the faggots, lightly cook a large sliced onion and a red pepper or two. You can add any vegetables you like, such as mushrooms; I tend to use what I have knocking around or needs using up. Then crush in 3 cloves of garlic and deglaze the pan with a generous glug of red wine.

Crumble in a couple of beef stock-cubes, followed by two cans of chopped tinned tomatoes. Round off the taste with seasoning and a teaspoon each of the same herbs as above. Simmer for half an hour until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Once the sauce is ready, take the faggots out of the oven, and spoon over the sauce, topping each one nicely. Then grate a good whack of cheese, and sprinkle atop the lot, with flagrant disregard for traditional [miserable] low-fat dieters. Back into the oven they go for 20 minutes, until the cheese is unctuously melting and just starting to turn golden brown.

Serve the faggots and sauce with the vegetable of your choice. Celeriac mash would go down a treat; but we opted for simple buttered peas. You can’t beat a classic!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

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Mouthwatering Vietnamese meatballs – a delicious low-carb bowl of delight!

Vietnamese MeatballsAll things considered; this recipe is a winner on every level! I’m admittedly not good at oriental cuisine. My comfort zone is far more the long slow-cooked dishes of the classic European repertoire; which languish leisurely in the oven, whilst the cook enjoys the odd glass of wine or two…

So I was really pleased with the results of this one. It was surprisingly quick and fuss free. I also tend to think that oriental cuisine requires a thousand and one exotic ingredients, which I fear I’ll have to go to specialist shops for; but beyond fish sauce; this one is store-cupboard delight!

As with all dishes on this blog, the aim is low carb. Emphasis on the low. Traditionally this recipe would be cooked with noodles. Feel free to use any of the low carb noodle brands if you wish [konjac base – these are practically carbohydrate free and are a real larder staple]; but here I simply piled in the green vegetables to give it a real fresh and natural feel. The ‘naturalness’ is heightened by the use of xylitol sweetener. You could use a synthetic powdered sweetener in its place; but I prefer to keep things pure and clean; that’s the joy of home-cooking… control over what you’re eating…!

Because of the low carb levels, this dish is perfect for diabetics, people on a ketogenic or paleo diet; or just simply for those who wish to beat the bloat of flour, gluten and all that goes with them! Whatever your preference, I thoroughly recommend you give this a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Start by peeling a piece of ginger the size and a half of your thumb. You have a number of options now – grate, finely chop on a board; or use the high tech solution of a mini food-chopper. I opted for this as it’s a weeknight and I’m feeling the need for a labour-saver! Finely blitz the ginger and place in a large pan. Then chop a good whack of chilli. This very much depends on how hot you like things. I used about 15 finger chillies. But adjust to your own taste. Place half of this into the pan with the ginger, and the other half into a large mixing bowl.

Into the pan, measure out a tablespoon of fish sauce, then a generous teaspoon of xylitol or other sweetener. Grind in black pepper, then pour on a litre and a half of hot chicken stock. I boiled the kettle and dissolved in stock-cubes. Bring the mix to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and let things lazily bubble away for 15 minutes or so, whilst you prepare the meatballs.

Into the same food-processor, finely chop 3 cloves of garlic and a handful of coriander [I use the stalks, then save the leaves for that all important final flourish]. Add this to the bowl with the chilli, then pour in another tablespoon of fish sauce. Massage in 500g of minced pork, and give the whole thing a good mix. Once well and truly incorporated, form into balls, somewhere between a gold ball and a cherry tomato.

By now, your stock-base should be beautifully rich and aromatic. Plop the meatballs into the mix, and simmer for around 5 minutes whilst you prepare the vegetables. I also added whole baby button mushrooms at this point, but that was simply because they needed using up. So add or omit to your preference.

Shred a Chinese leaf cabbage into thin slices. Picture coleslaw for size. [If you have chickens, save them the stalk – they LOVE IT!]. Add the cabbage to the pan, followed by a couple of handfuls of beansprouts. You can add mangetout if you fancy; spinach, or any other low carb green vegetable. If you’re feeling extravagant, throw in some prawns or mussels for pizzazz. If using noodles, add these now.

Place a lid on the pan and simmer for circa 5 minutes until the vegetables have cooked to preference. Just prior to serving, stir in a generous handful of coriander, and ladle out into deep, comfort-foody bowls. Garnish with a final dash of coriander, then slurp up to your heart’s content; rewarded for your hard work and expertise…!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Decadent Dark Chocolate Orange & Almond Torte – Low Carb Heaven!

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One of the true pleasures of the ‘low carb lifestyle’ is gateau without guilt! You can truly have “cake without the complex”; and it doesn’t get much better than this one!

The combination of rich dark chocolate and delicately perfumed orange is sensational on every level – a true time-honoured classic! You’d never know this was a low carbohydrate pudding – the rich density of ground almonds gives it that ‘brownie’ feel, which contrasts perfectly with the heady velvet of the decadent cream cheese topping. The richness is artfully reined in by the aromatic softness of orange oil, which lends the finished cake an air of ‘refined dignity’ and elegance. If you’re looking for a low carbohydrate option for Christmas, this could be it!

And above all; it’s a doddle to make! This is a ‘one bowl’ mix, which means no mess, no fuss; just the pure pleasure of time spent in the kitchen!

Like all recipes on this blog; this cake is perfect for diabetics and anyone following a low carb or ketogenic lifestyle. All ingredients are 100% natural – so wholesome goodness is all you’re getting! So much so, you’ll deserve a second slice!

Start by measuring out 10oz of xylitol sweetener into a large mixing bowl. It’s the only bake-stable sweetener, plus it weighs out ‘like for like’ with traditional sugar, which makes cooking with it a joy. No messing around with conversion charts or calculating substitute values. Add to that, it’s not synthetic; so there are no hidden nasties, which often cause a worry with other mainline sweeteners.

Into the same bowl, tip 12oz of ground almonds, a teaspoon of baking powder and 3oz of cocoa powder. That may seem a lot, but we’re being decadent after all!

Break in 6 large eggs and then pour in a large teaspoonful of orange oil. Follow this with a cupful of sunflower oil, or enough to bring the mix to a reluctant dropping consistency. Stir lovingly together, then spoon into a lightly oiled baking tin.

Bake in a medium oven [circa 160 degrees C) for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top is politely firm to the touch [not soft or gooey]. Take out of the oven and leave to cool, until no greater than room temperature.

In the meantime, make your orange icing / frosting topping. This couldn’t be easier.

Spoon out circa 500g / 2 packets of full fat cream cheese into your mixing bowl. Measure in a cupful of powdered table-top sweetener [splenda or the like]. Add a further teaspoon of orange oil and a generous glug of double cream [circa 4 tablespoons, to half a cup]. Whisk altogether until thick and smooth, then taste to adjust the sweetness or level of orange if required. Then transfer to the fridge until the cake has cooled.

Once ready; turn your cake out of the tin and spread the cream-cheese frosting thickly on top. Serve with toasted flaked almonds, a sprinkle of cocoa and a quick grate of fresh orange zest. Then dig in! Heaven on a plate!

I hope you like it. We did!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Strawberry, Almond & Pecan Hearts – a deliciously simple low carb Valentine’s Day treat!

country walks in ketosis

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These delicate and delicious strawberry, almond and pecan cakes couldn’t be simpler to make – the perfect dish for Valentine’s Day or equally good at any time of year when you happen to feel like spoiling someone! The sweet perfumed scent of strawberries is complimented wonderfully by the dense, nutty crunch of pecans and soft cloud-like swirls of whipped cream. Quite simply heaven on a plate!

The classic adage goes ‘say it with flowers’. I certainly don’t disagree with that, but flowers and cake are infinitely preferable in my book; so pull out all the stops and show someone you love them with a little bit of good old fashioned baking!

They also say that ‘the way to another’s heart is through their stomach’; but so often with flour- and sugar-free cakes, the results can be a little disappointing. Not so with these however! The taste and texture of…

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Whiskey & Ginger ‘Chops’ with Stir-Fried Vegetables – put a little low carb ‘zing’ into January!

chopsI’m often heard to say that ‘fusion food’ only leads to confusion… for the palette anyway; but this in no ways means that East & West can’t sit comfortably together on the kitchen bench, sharing the warmth of the hearth…. Well in this recipe; they not only sit, but share a generous glass of good honest ‘Scotch’ together. Confusion only kicks in therefore if they down too much of the stuff! So be sure to mark the bottle.

There’s something divinely aromatic and elegant about the pairing of whiskey and ginger. I’m an ‘islands’ man myself; thereby not smoked with wood as per the mainland variants (why? Islands don’t have many trees). There’s a heady wild ‘peatiness’ to the whiskey of the Scottish islands; far preferable in my own mind; and a taste that goes so well with other such equally poised flavours; in this case, fresh zingy ginger root and fiery scotch bonnet chilli.

Feel free to vary the green vegetables as much as you like. I chose broccoli and beansprouts because they cook quickly, which is always the essence of a good stir fry. Chinese leaf cabbage would equally be a delight; as would courgettes (zucchini), green peppers or cauliflower.

As with all recipes on this blog; all ingredients are low in carbohydrate and therefore suitable for a ketogenic- / paleo-  diet, plus diabetics type one and two. My other half is type one, and sticking to this diet there’s no insulin calculation – the same quantities every day with no unpleasant highs and lows. Easy if you know how! But equally, if you simply want to cut the bloat of a carb rich diet, then give this dish a try. You won’t regret it!

Some people are marinaters, others not. Undeniably marinating enhances the flavours, but after a long day at work, we sometimes don’t have the luxury. So marinade if you can; if not don’t spare it another thought. I’m the last to judge!

If marinating your pork chops, peel a good thumb of ginger root and chop roughly with a sturdy knife or cleaver. Do the same with x3 cloves of garlic, followed by a scotch bonnet chilli or two. If you like things a little cooler, use jalapeños; if you crave the heat, add more plus seeds as you see fit. Chop together in one big pile until everything is evenly sized.

Place your pork chops (I used x4) into an oven dish and sprinkle half of your mix over the top. Follow this with a generous sprinkle of paprika, salt pepper and a large glug of scotch whiskey. Rub in with your hands, then leave to sit for 20 minutes to an hour, whilst the flavours develop. If you’re pressed for time, simply put the oven dish straight into a preheated medium oven, circa 170 – 180°c for 20-25 minutes until the pork is caramelised and browning at the edges.

Meanwhile, finely slice an onion and de-floret a large head of broccoli. Be sure to keep the stalk and finely slice that alongside the onion – it lends the perfect cheat’s intimation of bamboo shoots!

When your pork is 7 or so minutes from completion, place a solid wok onto a high heat. Glug in some sesame oil with a little sunflower oil to mete it out… Then pile in your chopped onion, broccoli stalk and the remaining half or your ‘galicky-ginger-chilli’ mix. Stir fry for a minute or so, then tumble in your chopped broccoli florets. Follow these two minutes later with your beansprouts. Now take the pork out of the oven and pour oven any pan juices surrounding the meat – it should smell and look delicious!

Cook the vegetables in the pan juices for a further minute, then spoon your chops on top. Finish the whole thing with a flourish of toasted sesame seeds and and a whirl of chopped coriander. Divine decadence in the extreme!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Meltingly Tender Pot Roasted Beef – Traditional Home-Cooking, Without the Carbs!

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If ever a dish had the power to warm both heart and soul to the core; this is it!

Food can mean so much more than nutrition alone. When you cook up ‘something special’, which you mightn’t normally cook; your actions can relay a real sense of occasion. You’re conferring a special treat, and with it, you’re communicating a range of sentiments: comfort, warmth, love & nurture. Nothing says “I care” quite as much as dedicating your time to producing your level best! A poet does it with words; the cook does it with dinner!

But to achieve these wonderful results, it needn’t follow that the process itself prove complicated or difficult; nor that you’ll be slaving for hours, then end up with a huge mountain of washing up! This recipe is actually incredibly simple, but the finished dish is anything but… I strongly urge you to give this a go – you won’t be disappointed!

Enough of results; let’s focus on contents…! Do you see rice in the picture? Am I advocating carbohydrate on a low carb blog? Heaven forbid! What I’ve served this with is cauliflower rice; a true godsend on any low carb or paleo plan. I hyperlink the recipe to this as follows: cauliflower rice recipe.

And the beef itself? The brisket is slow cooked over hours, which means that excess liquid is staved off and the sauce requires no thickening-agent whatsoever. Indeed, all ingredients in this dish are suitable for both classes of diabetics, or anyone following a ketogenic / low-carb diet or paleo-regime. Beyond this, it’s suitable for all, so cook it for some ‘carb-eating friends’; they’ll never know!

So to begin, bring you beef-brisket to room temperature and season well.

Brisket is an ideal cut for slow cooking. Why? Cows don’t have collar-bones. This means that the entire weight of their head and neck is borne up by muscle. By necessity, that muscle must be pretty strong; so it contains high amounts of collagen, a structural protein which requires long slow cooking to break down and tenderise before it’s ready.

Pan fry brisket at your peril – you’ll end up with tough, fibrous strips which are truly unpalatable in every which way. But with slow-cooking, the collagen gelatinizes which naturally thickens the sauce (as per oxtail) and delivers delicious tender meat which simply melts under the fork – you’ll scarce need a knife!

Once the meat is room-temperature and the oven is good and hot; place the brisket into a heavy-based casserole pan, then straight into the oven for circa 20 minutes until the joint is sealed and deliciously brown on all sides.

Whilst this is looking after itself, quarter a couple of onions, then halve each segment into eighths. Peel a couple of cloves of garlic and roughly chop, followed by a green pepper, a leek, some celery and any odds & ends you may wish to use up. To be honest with you, as long as the onions and garlic are there, you can pretty much use any low-carb vegetable you wish. Try a dice of celeriac or courgettes – delicious!

Once the meat has browned, remove it from the oven and place the pan onto the hob. Tumble in your vegetables, followed by a couple of bay-leaves and a sprig or two of parsley if you have it. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are good and hot, then bring out the pan once more and deglaze with a whoosh of red wine or port.

Why do I keep taking the pan back out of the oven, then in again, like a saucepan-hokey-cokey? Who wants to clean the hob unnecessarily…? Keep it clean as you go, then afterwards you’ll feel all the more smug as you get to relax all the sooner…

When the alcohol has reduced into a delicious cloud of steam, follow it by two cupful’s of water, a couple of beef stock-cubes and a generous teaspoon of Dijon mustard. You can of course use fresh beef-stock if you wish; if you do, then omit the stock-cubes and water. With regards volume, I state ‘two cups’, but depth is the real key here. You want the joint when on its side to be waist deep in liquid; no more, no less. Once achieved, allow the sauce to come to the simmer on the hob, then put the lid firmly onto the pan and into a slow oven it goes for circa 4-6 hours until it is achingly tender.

Why is the timescale so vague? A dish like this is pretty forgiving. As long as the oven is low enough and there’s sufficient water, it could easily go in overnight and not suffer – in actual fact, it’d be all the more delicious! What does a low oven mean? Think gas mark 1-2, circa 140-150°c. I have a cast-iron range cooker, so into the simmering oven it goes and I needn’t even peek until dinner time!

Once the time has elapsed, remove from the oven and take the lid off the pan. There should still be at least a cm of liquid and the most delicious, rich, savoury smell should serve as your reward! Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust if required. Place the lid back on the pan, then leave to one side to ‘rest’ whilst you cook the cauliflower rice.

Why do people always tell you to leave meat to rest? My own interpretation of this is somewhat grizzly and gruesome. If you’re of a nervous disposition, then please jump straight to the next paragraph, stopping reading from this point onwards…. Look down at your forearm, then tense your arm-muscles. Imagine cutting a knife through that; it would literally tear in the most rough and brutal way and you’d need a saw to get through it! With heat (like exercise), the muscles and tendons tighten, much like when you’re tensing your forearm. It would be a nightmare to cut through and would never achieve a clean slice. Now un-tense your arm. It’s clear to see how the muscles relax and lose their stress. Relaxed muscle (ergo meat) will cut cleanly, resulting in less moisture loss in the form of meat-juices, and a melting tender consistency. A good sharp kitchen knife will do the job – no need for a saw here (the same goes for a steak knife). As I say; that’s my own version of events – it’s always been the easiest way for me to envisage the process, serving to explain why meat should always be left to rest before carving. Take it or leave it… it works for me!

Gruesome bit over – the fragile amongst us can now resume. Cook your cauliflower rice as per the recipe under the hyperlink (cauliflower rice). Then simply lift the meat out of the pan and place atop the still al dente rice, spooning the beautifully reduced vegetables and sauce all around.

For that all important final professional flourish, garnish with chopped herbs: basil, parsley or oregano. Then simply carve the beef and dig in! The carving can almost be done with a wooden spoon.

Despite my long-winded, tiresome explanations, this recipe couldn’t be simpler. But I’m sure you’ll agree, it tastes anything but! So give this a go and toast the onset of winter with a bowl of pure comfort!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

A.

Seared Leg of Lamb With Warm Asparagus, Sprouting Broccoli & Feta Salad – Divinely Different Low Carb Cookery!

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If I were asked to recommend one low carb recipe to an absolute ‘low carb beginner’, I think this might be it! Few dishes can be so simple to prepare, yet taste so rich and amazing as this!

Lamb will always be a winner in the Low Carb Kitchen. Once in the oven, the succulent smell of roasting meat fills the room, and is truly mouth-watering! Plus, it’s one of those meats that can simply be left to do its own thing.

I’m often quoted to state “don’t fuss over your food; no-one likes to be mothered, and the same goes for your dinner!”. Well a leg of lamb is a refreshingly independent beast, requiring no fussing or mothering whatsoever! This makes it the perfect dish to prepare on a lazy Sunday or when you have people coming to dinner and want something that can simply sit in the oven whilst you relax and get on with the rigour of entertaining!

There are also few dishes which look quite so impressive as a leg of lamb. It has instant ‘plate theatre’, which combined with the luxury of rich asparagus and fluffy white feta, makes for a true treat in every which way!

Then add to this the low levels of carbohydrate, and you have a dish which is perfect for ketogenic dieters, diabetics or anyone who simply wishes to beat the bloat of a high-carb lifestyle. You feel great and get to eat food like this. Who could ask for more…?

So, how to go about cooking this plate of purest wonder? Start by preparing your vinaigrette ahead of time. See the following hyperlink for the standalone recipe: traditional French vinaigrette recipe.

Vinaigrette is something I always have in the cupboard. It keeps for yonks and provides the perfect finish to so many salads and vegetables. Try it with cooked celeriac and parmesan, or roasted broccoli and pine nuts – divine!

Anyway, I digress… Place your lamb onto a sturdy baking-tray or roasting dish. Season well on all sides, then into a very hot oven it goes for 20 minutes, until seared and golden on all sides. Temperature wise, think 220°c / gas mark 7, or top of the aga roasting oven.

The smell coming from the oven will be sublime at this point. Now simply turn down the temperature to approximately 180°c / gas mark 4, and roast for an hour and a half, until the meat comes away from the bone. Once roasted to perfection, remove from the oven and leave covered in tinfoil to rest for 20 minutes.

Whilst the meat is ‘relaxing’, bring a pan of water up to a rapid boil for your vegetables. Snap the tough stalks off the asparagus at their natural breaking point, and trim the ends off the stalk-broccoli. Plunge these into the water for two minutes, then strain off the liquid. Return in the same pan to the hob, this time glugging over a generous whack of best quality olive oil. When the edges begin to char and blacken in an appealing way, sprinkle on some sea salt and season well with crushed black pepper.

Dice your feta cheese into 1cm chunks, then add this to the vegetables. I also added a few chopped cherry tomatoes for colour, but this is your choice entirely! Now spoon a good couple of tablespoons of vinaigrette over the top and stir through thoroughly.

To finish the dish, tear over a handful of fresh coriander leaves. Their peppery sharpness provides a wonderful counterpoint to the richness of the lamb and sour tanginess of the feta.

Then simply carve the meat into luxurious chunks, which literally fall from the bone when cut. Spoon out the vegetables and dig in whilst the lot is still piping hot.

I’ll vouch there won’t be a scrap left on the plate!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Celeriac Chips – Who Needs Potato? The Low Carb Food Revolution Continues!

Celeriac Chips

In a contest between low carb v bloating starch & sugar; the ketogenic approach seems to be boasting “anything you can do, I can do better!” And that’s certainly the case with this recipe – celeriac chips!

When you first start a low carb or paleo regime, a lot of old favourites suddenly feel out of bounds. Without a little learning, any attempts to recreate them can often seem half-hearted, presenting a poor substitute for the dish you’re trying to copy.

With a little experience however, the food world is your oyster. And one thing I’ve genuinely missed…? Chips! Not that we ate them much anyway, but it’s always been more the feeling of depriving yourself that’s hard – the sense of ‘I can’t have this’ which makes you want it all the more!

Well celeriac chips are in no way a poor relative of their potato cousins. In all honesty, they taste far better and have a warm nutty flavour which is truly irresistible! And at circa 5g net carbs per 100g, they’ll hardly break the carb bank, leaving ketogenic dieters, paleo fans and both types of diabetics free to tuck in with gusto!

So without further ado, the next life-changing low-carb experience awaits. And it couldn’t be easier!

Heat sunflower or vegetable oil in a frier or on the hob until circa 130°c. Whilst the oil is heating, peel your celeriac root with a sturdy peeler, then cut the ball in half vertically. Follow this by cutting each half into 1cm thick slices, then cut each slice in turn into 1cm wide batons.

Once the chips are cut, lower them into the hot oil and leave to cheerily bubble for 8-10 minutes until cooked through, but not brown. When I say cooked through, image ‘bite-able’!

When ready, lift the chips out of the oil and place on greaseproof paper or kitchen towel. Now turn up the temperature of the oil to circa 180-190°c ergo good and hot! Once the oil has reached the desired temperature, lower the chips back in and fry for a further 5 minutes until they’re golden brown with a slight crisp around the edges.

Lift out and place back onto kitchen towel again to drain for a couple of minutes. Dredge with a generous sprinkle of sea-salt and serve up to the ravenous horde. I’ll wager you try at least one before they reach the table!

A good low carb dip or sauce is garlic mayonnaise (aioli). What more can you want? So forget the humble potato – there’s far finer things on the horizon. When it comes to low carb, the grass is certainly greener. But don’t just take my word for it, try this recipe and give it a go yourself. You won’t regret it!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Spicy Ginger ‘One-Pot Pork’ With Beansprouts, Coconut & Coriander – Substantial & Filling, High in Flavour, Low in Carbs!

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The evenings are starting to draw in ever earlier, and at such times we instinctively crave something that’s quick and simple to prepare, yet has the robustness and filling quality of a good home-cooked meal.

Well this dish delivers on every level. The flavours are rich and exotic, proving that a deep and complex taste needn’t be complex to prepare!

I really love this style of one-pot cooking. After work when you’re just wanting to relax and unwind; no-one relishes a recipe to be fussed over, culminating in a slavish pile of washing-up. And besides; there’s something indescribably comforting about a big substantial pot of food, all served up in brimming ladle-fulls; it warms the heart and soul alike; not to mention the eye and the stomach!

Low-carb dishes can sometimes feel a little on the anaemic side, so dishes like this, which leave you luxuriously full are always welcome! And because the carbohydrate content is so low, this recipe is perfect for diabetics and anyone following a ketogenic- / paleo-regime.

Vary the vegetables according to what you have to hand. Just make sure they keep to the keto-go-go guidelines (hyperlink here)!

Start by placing a heavy based pan onto the hob over a medium heat with a little oil, ready for your pork. I used pork shoulder-steaks for this recipe, but any reasonably quick-cook variant will do, such as loin, diced cuts or leg-steaks. Place your pork into the hot pan, making sure to season well & enjoy the hissing and spluttering as the meat hits the searing metal. Brown lightly for a couple of minutes whilst you set about preparing the ‘flavour part’.

When it comes to things like chilli, we’re all different. I like it really hot, but others may be more of the sensitive type. I used 3 large red chillies here, but feel free to go green or smaller, such as bird-eye chillies. Scotch bonnets will also promise you a definitively committal adventure!

Either on a chopping board or in a food processor, roughly chop chilli, garlic and ginger then add this to the pan. I used three small cloves of garlic, the chillies as above and a thumb-sized piece of ginger. Freeze-dried ginger or even powder will work equally. If you’re using powdered form, then add this when you add the other spices later.

Stir the mix thoroughly into the pork, then chop your vegetables. As I say above, use whatever you have in stock. My mix went as follows: 1 large onion, 1 leek (plus green-tops), 1 courgette, 1 green pepper. Roughly chop these, as the French would term ‘a la Paysanne’. Once hacked to a pleasing and inexpert inconsistency, add to the pan and stir well.

Now for the spices. Sprinkle in a generous teaspoon of ground all-spice (not mixed spice [think cake], but all-spice berries), followed by a teaspoonful of ground cumin. Season well and then crumble in a couple of chicken stock cubes, or fresh stock if you’re sufficiently organised. If you’re using dehydrated cubes, pour in a centimetre’s depth of water and mix in. If liquid stock, then up to the same depth as per water above.

Leave this to simmer and reduce for a few minutes, then add condensed coconut block or coconut cream. You can of course use canned coconut milk, but if you choose this option, be careful to not add the water or liquid stock quantities above. One of the joys of this dish is the thick sauce. If it goes too watery then you end up with more of a soup, rather than the satisfying filling quality of a hearty wholesome casserole.

Stir in a good handful of frozen petits-pois for bulk (or as low carb frozen peas as you can find), then into a preheated oven it goes (circa 180-190°c, gas mark 5) for 20 minutes with the lid on, to cook through and thicken nicely. We want no more than 2cm’s depth of liquid in the pan when it goes in.

The organised amongst us will use this interim time to do the washing-up & tidy the kitchen. The indulgent amongst us will grab the time to read a book or have a well-deserved sit down! I leave that choice up to you!

However you fill it; once the princely period is over; take the pan out of the oven and stir thoroughly. Then tip in your beansprouts (large packet circa 300g for x2 people) and place the pan back into the oven for 5 minutes further. This allows the beansprouts to wilt and heat through.

Your last task is to roughly chop coriander leaves. If you’re feeling rustic, then tear them on with your hands, which fills the room with a wonderfully verdant citrus aroma. Interestingly, if you chose to spend the ‘oven time’ by doing the washing-up, then you might be more of a ‘knife and chopping board type‘ when it comes to the final hurdle of herbs! The indulgent set tend to use the hands!

Whatever your route, simply scatter the herbs on top and spoon into deep earthy bowls. Then once served, continue the spooning once more, but this time from the bowl upwards!

In a word – delicious!

Thank you for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

The Low Carb Alternative to Mashed Potato: Cheesy Marrow Mash – Stunningly Simple Low Carb ‘Sides’

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The humble marrow feels very much the ugly duckling of the gourd family.  Sometimes its  sheer cumbersome, hulking bulk is enough to put you straight off – it feels as if you’ll be ploughing through the stuff for days, and most cooking methods don’t bring out its best.

But marrow is very much a keto-go-go vegetable! At circa 1.9g net carbs per 100g, it’s super low and is therefore perfect for diabetics, ketogenic dieters or anyone simply wishing to beat the bloat! And add to this, it’s abundant and hugely economical at this time of year – no other vegetable packs as much punch to the pound!

I always think that the best way to prepare marrow is mashed. It has the luxuriant feel of mashed potato, but none of the starch!

Start by cutting your marrow into large chunks (skin on). Remove the seeds with a spoon and place the portions onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season well and into a hot oven they go for 40 minutes to an hour, until the flesh is soft and starting to brown at the edges.

Remove from the oven and scrape the flesh into a casserole dish with a soup-spoon. I find this is best done by picking up each piece in turn and holding it with an oven glove. The flesh should come out incredibly easily, leaving the tough skins behind which can simply be discarded.

Add a knob of salted butter to the pan, followed by a generous handful of grated cheese. I also add a good dollop of English mustard for background depth, but that’s entirely up to you.

Check the seasoning and add more if required, then mash out the lumps with a potato masher or fork. Back into the oven it goes for circa 20 minutes, or until the surface is golden brown and bubbly.

Hey presto – our ugly ducking’s a swan!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Herby Cod Mornay with Fresh Garden Sorrel – Low Carb Cooking at its Best!

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As Summer fades into Autumn, we seem to sit on the fence when it comes to food.

The heart and stomach are divided – half yearns for the substantial filling fare of October’s darkening nights; whilst the other half seems to mourn the carefree, light & delicate taste of Summer, as it slowly slips away for another year without a trace.

The kitchen garden seems to feel the same way. It clings on desperately to the last vestiges of warmth and sunlight, fighting to retain the fruits of its harvest until the last possible moment.

One such taste of Summer is sorrel. This wonderful leafy herb has a sharp, lemony taste, which reminds me in crispness of a sour green apple. It could never be accused of robustness and tends to wilt soon after picking.

Thankfully the greenhouse has coddled what’s left of mine; sufficient to serve up one last elegy to Spring. So let’s drink to that whilst we can!

The delicate tang of this fragile flavour responds well to richness. It serves as a counterpoint to deeper taste-profiles; lifting them and lightening the mood, like a laugh in the library.

In this instance, I’ve paired it with the luxuriousness of cream cheese and parmesan – all superb low carb ingredients, which makes this a great dish to serve up to diabetics, ketogenic-dieters or those following a paleo regime.

Serve it as a light lunch, starter or main meal bulked up with broccoli or cauliflower. If you can’t get hold of sorrel, fresh spinach and a good squeeze of lemon juice will do the job admirably. We aim for flexibility in the Low Carb Kitchen! So give this a try and let me know how you get on.

This dish couldn’t be easier to prepare. Allocate one third of a 200g tub of full fat cream cheese per portion.

Place your cod pieces (no pun) onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season well and place into a hot oven for circa 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Meanwhile, spoon your cream cheese into a heavy-based saucepan. Place this on a low heat and pour in a dash of double cream and a tablespoonful of water per portion. Season and stir well until all the ingredients are combined.

At this point sprinkle in a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese, squeeze in some lemon juice and add half your roughly chopped sorrel (at least a cupful).

Bring the sauce to a light simmer, then once the fish is ready, plate it up and spoon the sauce all over the top, erring naturally on the generous! Think ‘lashings’…

Finish will a flourish of the remaining chopped sorrel and some shavings of parmesan to garnish. One last touch of lemon or lime juice will cement the lightness of Summer, then simply tuck in and enjoy!

Low carb cooking doesn’t get better than this!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Cavolo Nero – The Dark Highwayman of the Vegetable Beds! Deliciously Different Low Carb Sides

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As Autumn slowly creeps in, we start to welcome back old friends to the kitchen and garden. One such returning hero, is Cavolo Nero; the dark highwayman of the vegetable beds!

Mysterious and enigmatic, the inky black leaves of this striking plant grow in strident clumps, rather than forming a cohesive ‘head’ like cabbage or other leafy greens. This lends it an almost cavalier ‘gothic’ appearance, which is as much of a pleasure to gardener as it is to low-carb diner alike!

But above and beyond its rather edgy & peculiar looks; this rugged Tuscan cousin of kale is absolutely delicious! And variety of side orders is particularly welcome on a low carb / ketogenic diet, where the risk of ‘vegetable monotony & repetition’ lurks around every corner!

Use it on its own, in stews, baked, sautéed, fried, steamed or with roasted vegetables. Its astounding utility is equally as striking as its good looks! And like all ingredients on this blog, Cavolo Nero is particularly low in carbohydrate (just 1.8g net carbs per 100g); so it’s perfect for ketogenic diets, diabetics or those following a paleo-plan. I’ve even heard it described as a super food; and if I’m honest, in this instance I can’t really disagree!

To cook this rugged brute, start by trimming off the tough white stalk at the base of the leaf. I tend to cut a ‘v’ into the stem, preserving as much of the green leaf as possible. Then simply chop the leaves into inch lengths, give them a good rinse in cold water, then strain into a sieve or colander.

Whilst the Cavolo Nero is draining, thinly slice an onion and soften on the hob in a generous spoonful of butter until it turns translucent. As the onion softens, chop your broccoli into chunks and add to the pan, stalk first as this is the longest part to cook.

Once the broccoli is in, add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and crumble over a chicken stock cube or two. You could also use a cupful of fresh chicken stock if you’re glamorous enough to have this to hand.

Season the mix well, then pile in your Cavolo Nero and follow it with a god handful of frozen petits pois (overpriced peas). If you’re using fresh stock, there’s no need to add any liquid; if you used stock-cubes, pour on a half cupful of water to prevent the contents from sticking.

Stir the lot, then place a lid firmly on the pan. Cook for between 5 and 10 minutes on a low heat, until the Cavolo Nero has wilted down but still retains its bite.

Whilst the pan is on the hob, grate a good whack of parmesan cheese and sprinkle this over the vegetables once cooked. Fold the cheese into the vegetables, garnish with freshly chopped basil or oregano then rush to the table whilst the lot is still piping hot. Serve alongside meat, fish or use as a base to eggs florentine.

One word will sum up the lot… delicious!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Pep Up a Low-Carb Breakfast with A Peppery Radish!

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Once the weekend’s finally arrived, it’s time for a splendid cooked breakfast!

The sound of sizzling sausages & spluttering scrambling eggs forms the perfect accompaniment to the radio’s cheery chorus.

And what better way to pep up a delicious low-carb breakfast than the addition of a handful of crisp, bright radishes…?

No recipe required, just trim the ends, halve them lengthways and sprinkle with a little sea-salt and cracked pepper.

Their delicate transition from deepest pink to translucent white renders them the true & undisputed ‘jewel in the crown’ of the breakfast table.  And they’re good for you to boot!

The one thing missing is a generous glob of hot, fiery, sunny English mustard.

What better way to start the day? Answers on a postcard!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Confit Tomatoes, Chinese Cabbage, Garden Rosemary, Spinach & Feta – Fuss-Free, Filling & Substantial Low Carb Dining

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There’s nothing quite like the scent of succulent roasting meat to set the mouth watering. And in my humble opinion, lamb reigns supreme of them all. Few meats can be simpler to cook or yield such effortless results. When cooked in the right way, lamb will pretty much look after itself, leaving you to get on with other things, like type up a food blog…

To accompany this, I wanted something equally ‘low maintenance’. I’ve therefore teamed it with confit tomatoes, which simply slow-cook in their own juices with garlic & herbs whilst the meat is in the oven.

To combat the richness of both lamb & tomatoes, the last minute addition of feta cheese provides that all important ‘lift’ & tang; just the right amount of salt and sourness to round off the palette and balance the flavour-profile.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that meals like this are time-consuming and fiddly; reserved solely for the weekend when you’re not in a rush & have ample time on your hands to slave in the kitchen. Well this was actually a midweek meal, cooked after work and a fitting treat to mark the end of a long day. This recipe is refreshingly straightforward yet carries an air of pure splendour – maximum results with minimum effort – what could be better?

Like all recipes on Country Walks in Ketosis, this dish is incredibly low in carbohydrate, which makes it perfect for those on a ketogenic diet, paleo-regime or diabetics both 1&2. But unlike many recipes which traditionally tick those boxes, this one is filling and substantial – so go ahead and give it a go. Just make sure to tell me how you got on!

Depending on your oven-type, preheat until good and hot: circa 190 – 200°c, gas mark 6-7. Place your shoulder of lamb into a sturdy roasting dish and sprinkle on a generous crust of sea salt and cracked black pepper. Is that it? Yes – nice and easy. The key however if knowing your cooker. If you have a fan over, the air-flow can have a tendency to dry the meat out as it washes over the surface and whips away the moisture. If using a fan oven, brown the meat in the oven for 20 minutes then pour a cupful of water into the tray and cover the top of the meat with tinfoil. This will ensure it comes out succulent, unctuous and divine. For all other methods (gas, aga, convection &tc) just ‘in it goes’ and leave it to its own devices. What could be simpler?

Depending on size (lambs don’t often have Joan Collins shoulders…), take the meat out after 1 hour 20 minutes. The surface should be dark brown and crisp. The scent alone will tell you it’s done. Cover the joint with a layer of tinfoil and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Once the lamb has gone into the oven, roughly chop an onion and place into a saucepan on a medium heat with a generous glug of olive oil. As the pan will be on the simmer for an hour or so, make sure it’s a good and sturdy one: people maintain that a bad workman blames his tools – I’m of a differing opinion… inferior equipment gives inferior results. So give yourself a break and blame the pan if it burns!

Once the onion starts to soften, throw in 2 roughly chopped salad tomatoes with their juice and a good handful of cherry tomatoes. Give the pan a quick stir then get on with the other ingredients.

Roughly chop a handful of rosemary leaves with two plump cloves or garlic. I tend to do them both at the same time because they smell so nice together and it’s quicker! Add this to the tomato mix along with a generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Leave the pan on a low heat, stirring occasionally for up to an hour.

Whilst this is cooking, chop and rinse your Chinese Leaf Cabbage then leave it to drain. You don’t have to use Chinese Leaf – savoy or any other cabbage leaf will do the job amply, save for the hard white cabbage reserved for coleslaw. That is perhaps a little too dense and strong tasting. Of course, it’s up to you however. Your dinner, your rules.

15 minutes before service, turn up the heat slightly & stir the cabbage into your confit. Leave this to wilt down and cook through. You want the leaves to soften but still retain a little texture. 10 minutes after that, stir in a good whack of spinach. I used a whole bag of the stuff. It cooks down to such a small amount, that you can afford to be heavy-handed.

Once your meat has rested, pile the confit, spinach & cabbage onto your serving plate next to the lamb. Crumble feta atop the whole thing like ‘a fantastical blizzard’ and garnish with freshly chopped herbs of your choice. Carve the lamb into unctuously tender chunks then dig it. Who’d have thought something so simple could taste this good…!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Farmers’ Forbidden Pathways…

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As nature slowly ripens into August, the lush green field-margins, hedgerows and verges suddenly become too overgrown to navigate on the morning health-giving ‘ketogenic’ walks. 

We emerge from the meadows truly drenched from the waist-downwards. Stout wellingtons and heavy drill-trousers are no match for July’s dews; we literally wade through the undergrowth, like clumsy flamingos picking their way through a shimmering, yet silt-laden lake.

Far easier to negotiate are the farmers’ tramlines, which stretch the lengths of the fields, like a high-speed metro-route for wildlife. Rabbits, hares and pheasants shoot down these long straight corridors, softly overtaken by deer who arch gracefully overhead, following the roadways with their leaps but seeming scarcely to touch them. Swallows swoop, dive and bomb at dusk, powering forth in search of insects and moths.

And then two sets of wellington-boots lumber in, possessing neither the speed, nor the elegance of the pathways’ other users. These all flee at first sign of man’s intrusion; much like us when the farmer routinely catches us taking a shortcut across his field!

But at this time of year, the wheat-sheaves are still to turn golden. Yet as a nod to what’s to come, the leaves are beginning to yellow at their tips, creating an embroidered ‘tapestry effect’, flocked with the finest flecks of filigree gold. The natural corridors then are roofed in splendour, like the columns of a cathedral decked with precious metals which gleam in the bright dawn sunlight.

There is great beauty and pleasure in surreptitiously going off the beaten track in life; even if for only a brief minute or two. But one word of advice however… Just don’t get caught!

Enjoy the day and thanks for reading,

Adam.

Knee-Deep In Flowers…

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Daisies, buttercups and forget-me-nots swirl around my knees as I stride intently ’round the field and meadows.

I smile to think how they must seem to the cat, who every day trots dutifully at my side on my morning walks.

The flowers tower resolutely over his head and shoulders as he surges forwards with determination; like a clumsy dolphin carving the surf. Only a swishing tail is visible above the canopy.

Wet paws and purring are my questionable reward as I lift him carefully over a particularly stubborn bunch of thistles.

Companionship can be a strange thing; but nevertheless a thing of great joy and wonder. So take it where you can!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the day,

Adam.

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A Patchwork Quilt of Purest Wonder

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With the turning of the seasons, the crops in the fields surge forth, sprout and flourish; each developing its own unique texture, pattern and palette.

Sometimes subtle, sometimes strident; these off-cuts of colour interweave and entwine, forming a patchwork quilt of purest wonder!

And as clouds slowly skim across the surface of the sun; shadows form and flirt with the earth, transforming its checkerboard into a kaleidoscope of colour; stealing the breath and enchanting the eye.

The verdant greens of seedling wheats clash cheerfully against the blazing yellows of oilseed. A carpet of campion, lilac, pink and purple, races along the hedgerows, embroidered by white chestnut candles and showers of palest hawthorn.

And as backdrop to all this, the deepest, purest blue of echoing spring-skies, bejewelled by the bright new dawn’s sunlight. The eye scarce knows how to take it all in or what to view next…

But the eye is not alone in its fervent feast of fancy; the ear delights too in the beauty which bombards it. A tapestry of tweets, trills and chirrups sings forth to the skies; a musical masterpiece every bit at complex rings out, as the dawn chorus slowly reaches its dizzying crescendo.

Mother Nature is a skilled seamstress. Her patchwork-quilt is ever changing; as each day’s colour adds a new & beautiful square. I humbly doff my cap to her craftsmanship, and urge you to do the same.

Get out there and see it.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the day,

Adam.

Meandering Lanes of Lush, Verdant Green – The Boundless Bounty of Spring…

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With nature, there is always something to wait for. Whilst the fields and hedgerows burst forth their frenetic Spring growth; the trees have yet to majestically unfurl their leaves into the hazy warmth of the soft April sun.
The verges of England’s green lanes seem to swell with a crescendo of life – the bright vivid blues of speedwell and forget-me-nots surge upwards; basking in sunlight, before slowly ebbing away into the dusk, when delicate evening-primroses take up their candescent chorus of colour.

An army of busily chattering beaks sing out their joy; japing and scolding between hastily guzzled mouthfuls of gruesome grubs and foraged fauna. Their soaring song trills to the sky, proclaiming a bliss which none can know, yet can’t be confined.

Whether Winter, Summer or Spring, the meandering lanes seem timeless in their slow, ambling journey. Their routes may be familiar, yet the subtle changing of seasons ensures there’s always a new sight to behold ’round each last lazy corner. Like the stage in a theatre, the backdrop is constant; the scenery evolves.

Few things can share this sense of eternal transition. Like all things ephemeral, one blink and you miss it!

So like the hedgerows’ wild flowers; take every opportunity to drink in nature’s rich warmth… But take heart when it’s fleeting; there’s equal beauty ’round the next corner.

Thanks for reading,

Adam.

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Decadent Raspberry Frangipan Pudding – A Low Carb ‘One Bowl’ Classic, Ready In 30 Minutes!

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There’s one recipe I always cook when I want a fast & delicious low carb pudding; and this is it!

Not only is this dish ‘super low in carbs’; the other fantastic ‘string to its bow’ is that it’s all prepared in just one bowl. This makes it 100% mess free and incredibly straightforward. If you’re not a fan of raspberries, these can be substituted with blueberries or left out entirely. As both of these fruits are wonderfully low in carbohydrate; this dish can be enjoyed by ketogenic-dieters, diabetics or indeed anyone who simply wishes to cut down on starch in their diet. So give this recipe a go – puddings don’t get any quicker or easier than this!

Choose a mixing bowl or large soufflé dish that’s oven proof, so you don’t need to transfer the mixture prior to cooking. Measure in 4oz of ground almonds, 1oz of dessicated coconut, half a teaspoon of baking-powder and 4oz of xylitol sweetener (or 3/4 cup of Splenda). Next, add in 4oz of unsalted butter, a few drops of sugar-free vanilla essence, then break in 2 eggs.

Beat the lot with an electric-whisk until well amalgamated. You want the texture to be a reluctant dropping consistency, that just falls off the spoon. If you need to add a little liquid, pour in half a cupful of milk, cream or water (depending on your carb-tolerance). Then simply makes some ‘wells’ in the mixture with the back-end of the whisk, and drop in your raspberries one at a time. I used a generous handful, but quantity is ultimately to preference.

Cover these over with the mixture, so that the top doesn’t ‘marble’ in the oven whilst cooking; then bake for 20-25 minutes in a medium oven (circa 180ºc) until pleasingly risen and a light golden on top. You should be able to touch the top with a finger, and the surface bounces back without sinking.

Once baked to perfection, serve piping hot with a drizzle of double cream or a large dollop of yoghurt. Add a final raspberry or two to garnish; then simply dig in! Just one word alone is needed to sum this dish up – heavenly!

Browse this and other recipes by picture on my pinterest page: country walks in ketosis pinterest.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.