Black Forest Chicken with Courgette-Noodles – speedy, low carb comfort food!

black forest chicken

We’ve had an incredibly busy day, so I really wanted something quick & easy, but which didn’t have that feeling of a ‘rushed short-cut meal’. Black Forest Chicken it is!

The reason I call this dish ‘Black Forest’ is that it contains both the wonderful smoked ham and sausages of that region (the same area as the world-famous Black Forest Gateau). Any smoked ham or fast-cook sausages will serve in their place, but the rich smokiness of the original is the perfect thing for a chill November’s night.

We had the fire alight in the sitting-room, and the smell of the wood-smoke seemed to mingle seamlessly with the rich, cured pine-flavour of the ham. This is partnered wonderfully by the smooth creaminess of brie, which diffuses the ham’s taste on the palette, plus goes that almost ‘sticky meltedness‘, which is truly irresistible!  The combination of this, plus bacon, sausages and chicken make this the ultimate in comfort food. Give it a go yourself; you’ll soon see what I mean!

Dice your bacon and sauté in butter in a thick-bottomed pan alongside your chopped sausages. Once these start to brown, add sliced chicken fillets and finely chopped shallots (or onion). Roughly dice a red-pepper and add this, then crush in two cloves or garlic and cook on a medium-heat for a couple of minutes until the chicken is coloured all over. At this point, deglaze the pan with a good glug of dry vermouth and season well. Add water to a centimetre’s depth and crumble in a chicken stock-cube. Simmer on the hob until the liquid has reduced by two thirds of its volume.

Meanwhile prepare your zoodles, then melt a good tablespoon of butter in a wok. Stir-fry the courgette-noodles until cooked through, but still retaining their bite. Place the cooked noodles in the oven for 2 minutes, to stave off any moisture which may have collected in the bottom of the pan.

Whilst the noodles are finishing in the oven, add a large tablespoon of creme fraiche to the sauce and stir through until smooth. Finely chop some basil and sprinkle this into the sauce, stirring the whole time so that the cream doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

Take the courgette-noodles out of the oven and pour over the sauce. Make sure the chicken and sausages are distributed evenly in the dish, so that no-one misses out! Dot the surface with thick slices of brie and garnish with a final flurry of chopped basil.

Serve in large, shallow pasta-bowls and eat in as relaxed a setup as possible. I wholeheartedly recommend curling up on the sofa in front of the fire, if you can. This is the perfect dish to do it with!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Pan-Roasted Loin of Pork with Creme Fraiche, Shallots & Chestnut Mushrooms, Served with Rich Romanesco Mornay – quite literally, a low carb feast!

pork loin

Loin of pork is a wonderful thing to cook. It’s always incredibly tender, yet refreshingly simple to prepare. Here I’ve chosen a classic French approach, of white wine, mushrooms and creme fraiche. This combination delivers flawless results every time, and has that real wow-factor, which makes this the perfect thing to cook for a dinner party.

No such grandeur for us however! I’ve chosen this for a cosy meal for two on a cold Autumn night. This means we have the added bonus of being able to enjoy the leftover pork for lunch another day. It’ll carve beautifully into thick, succulent slices; to be served with salad, peppery radishes and fiery hot mustard. I’m all for meals which have ‘ongoing promise’ – you just have to make sure you’re disciplined enough not to eat the lot!

Romanesco is a true jewel. Sometimes the beauty of nature is breathtaking in every way. The almost crystalline turrets formed by this member of the cauliflower family, bare its ancestor’s texture but have more the delicate taste of broccoli. Romanesco is packed with nutrients, which has earned it the prestigious accolade of ‘superfood’, and yes; it’s low in carbs, so diabetics and keto-dieters can tuck in with vigour! Beyond all that however, it’s totally delicious and goes with anything. For people who think that vegetables tend to lose their colour or interest levels in winter, romanesco will be music to your ears. I challenge even the hottest of summers to come up with anything as beautiful and tasty as this!

Place a heavy-bottomed pan on the hob and melt in a generous knob of butter, with a little oil to stop it burning. Season your pork and seal it until caramelised and golden on each side. Add a large handful of sliced shallots and two cloves of finely chopped garlic. Roughly slice your mushrooms and sauté alongside the shallots, or keep them whole if you’re lucky enough to find mushrooms small enough. Once these are soft and tender, deglaze the pan with a generous glug of white-wine or vermouth.

I want to share a tip here. Wine is not great on a ketogenic-diet due to its relatively high sugar content. If you wish to use it in cooking, then invariably you’ll be stuck with the rest of the bottle which you must either drink (bye bye diet) or throw away (tragedy). To avoid this, I keep two bottles in the cupboard – one of dry vermouth, to take the place of white wine; and another of port to serve as red. Neither of these suffer from being opened and consumed over a long period of time. It also makes it considerably cheaper in the long run, as their taste is robust enough to warrant a smaller quantity in cooking.

Once the alcohol has reduced, pour in a little water, so that the pork is waist-high in liquid, then crumble in a chicken stock cube. Season well and stir in a handful of chopped herbs. Tarragon, sage, basil or oregano are all good. I used sage on account of its warm and perfumed flavour. Place the pan (lid off) into a hot oven, to braise for 20 minutes, whilst you get on preparing the romanesco.

It is almost heartbreaking to cut into this vegetable’s cryptonite crowns. It’s so pretty that it almost seems a shame to eat it! But do so we must. Detach the florets from the stalk one by one, so that you preserve their fine structure. Bring a pan of water to the boil then add the romanesco-florets respectfully into the water.

Second tip of the day. As any Victorian cook would tell you: if it grows above the ground, boil with the lid on! If it comes from below the ground, lid off! This handy mantra will see you safely through any recipe and mean your vegetables cook to deliver their optimum.

After two minutes on the boil, drain and plunge into cold water to preserve the verdant green and texture. Once cool, tumble back into the pan and place into the oven for a final 5 minutes to heat through. You can simply serve this straight from the boil, but it always seems a shame if it loses its bright vibrancy.

To make your low carb mornay sauce, heat a cupful of double cream in a saucepan and stir in a handful of grated cheese. I used cheddar and a snide amount of parmesan. It must be admitted that any cheese which delivers a noble taste-profile will serve just as well. Grind in some pepper, and leave on the simmering plate until smooth and glossy.

Take your pork out of the oven and place the loin onto your pre-warmed serving-dish. Return the pan to the hob and stir in a tablespoonful of creme fraiche for richness. Once this is incorporated and the sauce is piping hot, pour over all and around your pork, assembling the mushrooms into an accessible pile to one side. Spoon your romanesco next to the pork-loin and pour over your mornay sauce. Garnish with more chopped herbs and volia! Dinner is served.

A true treat that’s as low in carbs as it is delicious. And all done in 40 minutes!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Chinese Chilli Chicken-Drumsticks with Spicy Butternut Noodles – a low carb taste of the orient!

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Sometimes life needs a bit of spice, and dinner is always a good place to start!

Chinese food can be problematic on a diabetic- / ketogenic-diet. This is principally due to the high carbohydrate content of ingredients like rice, soy-sauce, sweet & sour concoctions and all things in-between. That in no way means there are not low-carb dishes out there; simply that they require a little more time & creative thinking.

This recipe is a real winner. It’s incredibly straightforward to make and can be done ahead of time if you so wish.

Start by making your marinade. Blitz two ‘thumbs’ of peeled ginger and 3 cloves of garlic in a food-processor. Measure in half a tablespoon of chilli powder, a spoon-tip full of turmeric, 3.5 tablespoons of white-wine vinegar, one tablespoon of olive-oil, and a really good grind of pepper & salt. Whizz-up until smooth and pour over your chicken. Then rub in. Marinate for minimum half an hour, up to overnight. Then place your drumsticks onto a baking-tray and cook in a hot oven for circa 1 hour, or until browned & crispy.

Using a spiraliser or julienne-peeler (see zoodles), form your peeled butternut squash into noodles. Sauté these in a good quantity of butter and olive-oil until they begin to soften. At this point, add in finely-sliced shallot (or onion), sliced mushrooms, diced chilli, and a handful of chopped coriander. Stir in a teaspoon of ground cumin powder and season well.

Once cooked, take the chicken-pieces out of the oven and arrange over your noodles. Garnish with a squeeze of lime, and a final flourish of chopped herbs. Rush to the table and serve up while still piping-hot.

If you can resist picking them up & eating the drumsticks with your fingers; then you definitely have more willpower than I. Some food is just too good to stand on ceremony!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Chicken, Chorizo & Chicory Gratin with Smoked Ham, Brie & Emmental. One-Pot Low-Carb Comfort Food!

gratin

Okay, so I like things that rhyme! But believe me; that’s certainly not the motivation behind this dish. So what is? Taste. Quite simply put; it’s delicious!

I never begrudge the complexity of multi-component dishes (like lasagne), where 3 saucepans & a brigade of roasting-dishes are required. Nor do I bemoan the washing-up; if you want good home-cooked food, then it’s par of the course. But sometimes I must admit that one-pot dishes are a godsend! This is never more the case than when you’re late home from work and all you want to do is relax. So if that’s tonight, then this is the dish for you!

Not only is this recipe the ultimate in ease and convenience, it’s also very low in carbohydrate. This means that diabetics and those on a ketogenic-diet can share in the easy-life, as well as gluten-intolerants and paleo-fans!

Feel free to substitute any of the ingredients, but it’s certainly worth sticking with the chicory and chorizo, as they both add hugely to the flavour.  Chicory (I believe Americans may call endive) has a slightly sharp flavour, which makes it brilliant for things like gratin where the taste will ‘hold its own’ amidst the cheese. Chorizo adds a bit of denseness to the texture and has that deep Spanish earthiness, which lies at the heart of comfort food. The chicken is inter-changeable for pork, turkey or even seafood. If you come up with any triumphs, be sure to let me know!

This dish is rendered far more straight-forward if you have a roasting-dish that can be used directly on the hob-top.

Place your dish onto the hot-plate and drizzle in a glug of olive-oil. Add your chicken-pieces and brown slightly, before mixing in a couple of handfuls of very roughly chopped shallots or onion. This is followed by crushed garlic and a good shake of dried oregano.

Halve your chicory lengthways and add it to the pan. Give the whole lot a good stir to coat with the oil, then leave to cook a few minutes until the chicory wilts down a little. Sprinkle over sliced chorizo, then layer on slices of thick-cut ham. Season well then place the dish into the oven for 30 minutes, until the endive is beautifully soft and the ham just starting to colour.

At this point, pour in a cupful of double-cream and dot the surface with slices of brie. Grate a flourish of emmental and parmesan on top, then back into the oven it goes for the dish to brown-up until it’s sizzling and golden all over.

Serve with a light salad and a big appetite! You’ll need it, as everyone tucks in for seconds!

Thank you for reading an bon ap!

Adam.

Pan-Seared Fillet of Cod in a Cream-Cheese & Vermouth Sauce, Served with Parmesan Shavings & Fresh Basil – rich, decadent low-carb!

cod in vermouth

 

I’ve always been enchanted by the very Victorian concept of a fish-course. There’s something incredibly luxurious and decadent about it – a whole chapter of a meal dedicated to one element alone. By the mid-Victorian period, the advance of the railways meant that a ready supply of fish ‘on-ice’ could be supplied to the inland cities. This introduced an abundance of fresh seafood to the urban dining-plate and provided a cheap form of protein to the masses (fish & chips!).

One of the great joys of a fish-course such as this, is that it’s super fast to prepare because fish cooks so quickly. It’s also incredibly easy to do, with very little fuss. This recipe can equally be served as a starter or luncheon dish. Team it with fresh salad or steamed green vegetables such as beans, broccoli or mange-tout. Because it’s low in carbohydrate, it can be enjoyed by those on a ketogenic diet, diabetics, paleo-fans & gluten-intolerants. There’s no excuse therefore – go ahead & give it a go!

Thinly slice a couple of shallots and crush 2 cloves of garlic. Soften these in a saute-pan in plenty of butter. Once translucent, add your cod to the pan. There’s no need to turn the fish, so just clear a space amidst the onions and place it in. Turn the heat up and pour on a good glug of vermouth (unsweetened), followed by a little water. You want the liquid to come up to ‘waist-height’ on the fish. Season the sauce and place the lid on the pan for three to five minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets.

You’ll know the fish is done when it starts to ‘flake’ on top. Because we’re not turning it, this is our sign that it’s cooked all the way through. Spoon in a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese and stir to dissolve the lumps. Lift the fish carefully onto a warmed plate with a fish-slice or palette knife. Then quickly transfer the pan to the hot-plate and give the sauce a quick blast to fully incorporate the cream cheese & reduce. Finally, finely chop some fresh-basil and add this to the sauce, checking one last time for seasoning.

Ladle your sauce over the fish and shave on generous curls of parmesan cheese. Rush straight to the table and enjoy. Delicious, delicious, delicious!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

 

Fragrant Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Roasted Aubergine. Effortless, exotic, low in carbs, high in taste!

lamb tagine

Moroccan food is one of my absolute favourites. The flavour-profile is so incredibly deep & exotic, that just one bite alone immediately transports you to another world!

Tagine is the ultimate example of this richly fragrant cuisine. In this dish, the earthiness of spices is balanced & lifted perfectly by the clean, fresh taste of mint & lemons. Cumin and tomato lend the dish a comforting warmth, which is hugely welcome on a cold wintry evening such as this. Even though it’s cold and dark outside, the kitchen can still be a place of sunshine, filled with the heady aroma of spices and perfumed scents of distant climes…

People are often put off cooking tagine due to the length of time it requires in the oven. Well you’ll be pleased to know that this version is incredibly quick! It all depends on the cut of meat you use – I used leg-steaks which are infinitely tender and don’t require slow-cooking. Diabetics or those on a ketogenic-diet might also be unnerved due to the high content of dried-fruit (thereby sugar) in all the standard recipes. Here, that flavour & sweetness is provided by orange & lemon zest, which further contributes to the perfumed quality & adds to the dish’s authenticity.

This dish is so quick and easy that you can cook it on a weeknight after work, without spending hours in the kitchen. Whichever day of the week you choose, this recipe will prove an instant winner & soon become a stalwart of your repertoire. I served the tagine with cauliflower-rice, but you could equally forgo this in favour of steamed vegetables such as broccoli or mange-tout.

Firstly, roughly slice an aubergine and sprinkle the slices liberally with salt and pepper. Place them onto a baking-tray and drizzle with olive-oil to coat. Roast in a hot oven for circa 45 minutes, or until golden and soft to the touch.

To make the tagine, season your lamb and seal in hot oil in a pan on the hob. Once browned both sides, throw in a handful of finely sliced onion or shallots, chopped garlic and chilli. Once these start to soften, sprinkle in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, two teaspoons of cumin, one of paprika and half a teaspoon of ground coriander.  Stir these in, then deglaze the pan with a little port or red wine. This contributes to the rich sweetness of the dish and helps add that all important warmth.

Whilst the wine is reducing, drain half a can of tomatoes, discarding the juice. Add this to the pan, followed by the grated zest of half a lemon and orange. Finely slice a handful of mint and stir this through the sauce and then crumble in a chicken stock cube. Season and test for flavour. If the sauce lacks freshness add a quick squeeze of lemon juice. There should be enough liquid in the pan to come up to the ‘waist’ of the pan’s contents. If water is required, pour on and stir. Then place the pan into the oven for 20 minutes to cook through.

After this, both tagine and aubergine should be ready at the same time. If the tagine is still liquidy, stir in a small amount of tomato purée and reduce on the hob for another minute. Equally, if the chilli flavour is too dominant, add a quick sprinkle of table-sweetener, which will balance the taste. Ladle the lamb onto a plate, with the aubergine piled up beside it. Pour on a generous quantity of the rich sauce and garnish with more chopped mint and lemon-slices.

All that’s left is to enjoy!

Thank you for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Seared Ground-Beef Cheeseburgers with Stuffed Peppers & Dressed Mixed Leaves. Who says a diet means deprivation? Low-carb certainly has its charms…

stuffed peppers

Who can resist the taste of seared ground beef, topped with sizzlingly melted cheese? Not me! I’m constantly amazed that you can eat this sort of food on a diet. Well that’s the wonder of a low-carb, ketogenic regime – now you can!

Okay, so the levels of cheese in this dish may be a little gratuitous, but on a LCHF diet we certainly shouldn’t be scrimping on fat. It fills you up & provides the essential calories which would otherwise have been gained from carbs.

The stuffed-peppers are something which marries both taste and practicality. Leftovers are a reality of every kitchen, & the low-carb-kitchen is no exception! Last night’s sausage-meat & sage stuffing, that was so delicious with roast chicken; now gets a second lease of life in yet another mouth-watering low-carb dish.

Peppers provide a great opportunity to use up odd bits & bobs which might otherwise prove insufficient to make it on their own. If you don’t have a pre–made mix to use up, then combine what you do have; mix it with a bit of cheese, and hey presto, Bob’s your uncle! Great combinations include tomato, ham & blue cheese, mushrooms, spinach & goat’s cheese, or even mackerel leek & parmesan. Left-over cauliflower-rice or zoodles can happily find a new home; and a second benefit is that all options make you look like a gastronomic superstar! What creativity! The choice is endless!

If you wish to make this from scratch, I include the recipe for the filling immediately below. If you prefer to go off-piste, then feel free to get creative! If you come up with something truly inspirational, be sure to let me know! The only guidance is that you include sufficient oil or butter to soften the peppers whilst they cook. If not, you risk a burnt topping and unpleasantly raw capsicums!

To make the stuffing, finely chop a small onion, half a courgette, and a handful of sage. Add these to a large mixing bowl then stir in a handful of roughly diced mushrooms. Then we add the same volume of bite-size chunks of sausage-meat (or sliced sausage) and circa 100g of ground almonds. Season really well and stir in some dried sage in addition to fresh. Beat an egg and mix this in, so that you have a texture which clumps & sticks slightly together like a lose dough.

Spoon your filling into halved & de-seeded peppers then dot the surface with butter or drizzle on a little oil. Place into a greased roasting-dish and bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes, topping with a final grating of cheese for the last 10 minutes. When the peppers are soft to the touch and the surface is bubbly & browned, remove from the oven and place onto your pre-warmed serving-dish.

Whilst the cheese is browning, place a griddle-pan or frying pan onto the hob to heat through. Once piping hot, sear your burgers, between 1 to 3 minutes each side, depending on how you like them cooked (1 minute for rare, 3 for well done). Once you’ve turned them, top each burger with a slice of cheese to melt slowly whilst the underside cooks.

When seared to perfection, scoop out of the pan with a sturdy fish-slice and serve next to your peppers and garnish with dressed leaves. What could be better? The perfect quick, hassle-free, low-carb dinner for a cold and wintry evening!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Slow-Roasted Chicken with Sausage, Sage & Onion Stuffing & Rich Gruyere, Parmesan Mornay. A traditional English classic, just minus the carbs!

chicken

Food must occasionally have that all important sense of nostalgia; and low-carb cooking is certainly no different! For as long as the English have roasted chickens, the combination of sage and onion have partnered them with outstanding & mouth-watering results. All three flavours are so warm and inviting that they speak ‘comfort’ with every mouthful.

The stuffing I’ve prepared here could equally be used as a main course in its own right, served with vegetables as a form of mushroom & almond meatloaf. The texture is dense and filling with a pleasing crunch on top; something so often lacking in low-carb cuisine.

This is another dish where you’ll find it hard to believe that it’s ‘diet-food’. The recipe is so rich and satisfying, you’ll return to it time and time again. And because it’s virtually free from carbs, it’s ideal for diabetics, ketogenic-dieters and those with an intolerance to gluten. Why not pretend that you’re all three, so you can eat like this every night!

Start by seasoning your chicken all over, then place it breast-side down into an oven-dish. Roasting the chicken upside down for the first hour will mean that all the fat and juices sink down into the breast, preventing it from being dry. Once golden and brown on the underside, turn the chicken over and re-season the top, making sure to provide enough salt that the skin crisps up and turns a fine, succulent bronze. This will take a further half hour to 45 minutes.

Whilst the chicken is roasting, make your stuffing. This couldn’t be easier. I’ve made a large amount to use as leftovers later in the week, but you could roughly halve the ingredients if you wanted to make less & eat it all up in one go.

Finely chop an onion, one courgette, and a handful of sage. Add these to a large mixing bowl then stir in 2 handfuls of roughly diced mushrooms, the same volume of bite-size chunks of sausage-meat (or sliced sausage) and circa 400g of ground almonds. Season really well and stir in some dried sage in addition to fresh. Beat three eggs and mix these in, so that you have a texture which clumps and sticks together like a lose dough.

Butter a baking-dish, then spread your mixture to minimum one centimetre in depth. Generously spot the top with knobs of salted butter, then bake for 1 hour, until brown and crunchy on top, and wonderfully aromatic!

Take your chicken out of the oven to rest covered in foil for ten minutes. Whilst the meat is resting, make your cheese sauce. Heat a cupful of cream in a saucepan, then add half a cup of grated gruyere and a third of a cup of parmesan. Grind on black pepper and add a handful of finely chopped sage and basil. Reduce on the hob for 5 minutes until thick and glossy.

Take your stuffing out of the oven and pile up beside your chicken. Pour half of the sauce over the stuffing, keeping the other half for people to serve themselves at the table.

Few things can be more heart warming and delicious that hot roasted chicken with sage. Low-carb dining doesn’t get any better than this!

Thank you for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Spinach & Coconut Cauliflower-Rice – exotic low-carb flavours from around the world!

jerk chicken

Some dishes are so steeped in culture & tradition that tracing their origins to find the one true ‘definitive recipe’ is nigh on impossible. Jerk-chicken is one such thing. The millions of variants all proclaim to be ‘original and authentic’, all using an extra shake of this or a secret touch of that. The one thing they all have in common however is the inclusion of allspice and scotch-bonnet chillies!

My diabetic-friendly interpretation makes no claim whatsoever to be authentic or original. What is does claim though, is to be every bit as delicious as its high sugar counterparts. I also claim ease, speed and incredibly low levels of carbohydrate. What more could you want?

Before I go into the recipe, just a quick word about allspice. Please forgive me if I’m preaching to the converted, but this was once a gap in my own knowledge-base. I therefore feel honour-bound to rescue others from the quagmire of ignorance which once plagued my own cooking know-how. Allspice is a berry, dried then ground into a powder. It is not a spice-mix, made up of generically blended ‘Christmassy’ spices, for use in mince-pies &tc. That is mixed spice! Sorry again if you already knew this; I shan’t mention it further. Consider yourself well & truly told!

Start by making your marinade. Into a large mixing-bowl, add 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 finely chopped scotch-bonnet chillies, 1 tablespoon of allspice, 3 tablespoons of lemon-juice, a teaspoon of dried thyme, 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil, a handful of finely chopped spring-onions and a heaped tablespoon of xylitol sweetener. Hot chilli requires quite a bit of sweetness, so don’t hold back on the xylitol! Mix these all together, then add your chicken to the bowl. You can blitz the paste until smooth in a food-processor if you like, but I personally prefer it more textured. Cover with a tea-towel and leave to stand for between an hour and a day. It’s completely up to you. Just bear in mind that flavours develop in intensity the longer they’re allowed to imbue.

Heat a glug of oil in a thick-bottomed pan, then add you chicken when the oil is piping hot. Whilst it browns, finely slice onion and peppers and add these to the pan. Once one side is done, turn the chicken and continue to caramelise the underside. After a couple of minutes, pour on half an inch depth of water, and place into the oven for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced.

Meanwhile, make your cauliflower-rice. Instructions for this can be found in another blog as follows: cauliflower-rice. The only thing you do differently for this recipe, is add a tablespoon of coconut-oil to the butter, and throw in a handful of dessicated coconut whilst the rice is cooking. Microwave fresh or frozen spinach, then add this to rice, stirring through at the last moment.

Pile the rice into your pre-warmed serving-dish, then spoon the chicken and sauce all over it. Finish with a final flourish of coriander, or chopped herb of your choice. The taste should be hot, spicy, sweet, aromatic and incredibly morish! This dish is very difficult to leave alone if it’s looking like there’s leftovers. Good job then it’s low carb!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Normandy Pork Calvados with Buttered Savoy – a low-carb dish with true pedigree!

pork calvados

When people refer to French cookery, they don’t mean a list of complex ingredients or fiddly, time-consuming recipes. They’re actually referencing a way of cooking. French cuisine is a methodology; a time-honoured discipline, designed to bring the best out of ingredients. When the French refer to the ‘art of cookery’; art in French means type or style. The ‘French-style’ requires the mastery of a few basic techniques which, once learnt; will deliver consistently outstanding results.

One of these competencies is the classic French method of cooking meat. There’s a stately ritualism to this process, which is almost comforting in its cadences. The succulent sealing-in & caramelisation of the meat is followed by the slow softening of shallots & garlic; then deglazing the pan with a magnificent whooshing ‘sigh’, as wine hits the thirsty metal-surface of the pan. As the kitchen fills with the delicious aroma of melting butter, fresh herbs and pan-seared meats, you’ll begin to feel like an alchemist creating pure gold from the very simplest of ingredients. It is truly an art worth learning!

This dish calls on the heady Normandy digestif calvados to bring out the sweetness of the pork and deliver depth to the sauce. Apples may be off the list on a low-carb diet, but a good glug of calvados reduced down in the pan certainly won’t impact the blood-sugar. This dish pays tribute to the classic affinity between pork and apple, that’s enchanted the taste-buds for hundreds of years past. What could be more welcoming on a cold Autumn’s evening that this?

Bring your pork to room-temperature and season well both sides. Heat a metal-lined sauté-pan on the hob (non-stick doesn’t deglaze with pleasing results) and throw in a knob of salted butter followed by a dash of oil. The sizzle should be a rewarding sensation in itself, as should the aroma. Add your pork to the pan and seal on each side until it’s golden brown and deliciously caramelised. You must excuse me for constantly repeating myself, but it needs to be said…! Do not fuss around with the meat in the pan or move it until it’s good and ready. No-one likes to be mothered; why do it to your dinner?! When the pork is ready to be turned, it will release itself of its own accord in response to the merest touch with finger or wooden-spoon. If it sticks, it’s not ready. We want the meat to caramelise and brown; not steam! And do not crowd it in the pan or the same will happen!

Once the meat is beautifully golden on each side, lift out of the pan and tip in sliced shallots, leek & chopped garlic. Soften these until translucent and just starting to brown, then crank up the heat as high as you can. This is not some obscure act of retribution, you simply want the pan to be as hot as possible for when you pour in the spirits. That way, you’ll deglaze with the maximum effectiveness, lifting all the caramelised flavours straight off the bottom of the pan. Once it’s good and hot pour in your measure of calvados, making sure to stand over the pan and enjoy the cloud of sweet, alcoholic steam which billows beautifully out into the kitchen! Once the liquid has all but evaporated, pour in a 3/4 inch depth of chicken stock (or water and stock cubes) and place your pork back into the pan, ensuring it’s surface is not submerged. Dissolve a small teaspoon of Dijon mustard into the pan and add a bay-leaf or two for warmth. Reduce this down for 20 minutes until the sauce is barely lapping the top of the vegetables then stir in a good handful of chopped parsley.

Whilst the sauce is reducing, thinly shred your cabbage and give it a good rinse. Add butter to a fresh pan and briefly sauté crushed garlic until soft but not brown. Place the cabbage into the pan, retaining what little water is clinging to the leaves after rinsing. Season, then fit the lid on firmly. Steam for three to five minutes, then spoon into your pre-warmed serving-dish.

Arrange your pork atop the cabbage, then test the sauce for seasoning. There are two schools of thought on this dish – cream or no cream. I have not added it, as I like the sauce to retain the clean taste of apples. If you like however, add a swirl of double cream at the final stage of cooking. This adds richness and the luxurious touch of velvet. It is entirely a matter of preference and a decision I leave completely up to you. Give it a go both ways and get back to me with your results.

Whichever way you’ve chosen to finish your sauce, pour this liberally over the pork and cabbage, then garnish with a final flourish of chopped parsley. Classical comfort food at its best! The results certainly won’t disappoint.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Classic ‘Quick’ Coq Au Vin with Blue-Cheese-Baked Garlic Mushrooms – Low Carb ‘Nutrition with Tradition’

coq au vin

You can’t beat a classic; but you can speed it up! Coq-au-vin is traditionally cooked with meat on the bone (thighs, drumsticks &tc). Although delicious, when you’re late home from work on a week-night; we don’t all have that luxury of time. But this doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a satisfying home-cooked meal!

This dish sees the chicken cooked on the hob (far quicker than in the oven) . I use diced breast-pieces to speed things up a notch. You can of course revert to slower-cooked cuts of meat if you don’t have time constraints; but as it’s a Thursday-night, I’m opting for the faster version!

Start by sautéing chopped bacon (lardons) in a thick-bottomed pan. If more fat is required to prevent the bacon from sticking, then add a knob of butter and a splash of oil. Once browned, add your chicken-pieces.

Chop onions or shallots into hearty chunks and add these to the pan. Follow this with a little chopped garlic. Once the chicken and vegetables are nicely brown, deglaze the pan with a little red-wine. Once this is almost reduced, pour on water until the chicken is shoulder-high in liquid. Season well and crumble in a stock-cube.

Whilst your stock is reducing, place your mushrooms on a baking-tray and crush a little garlic onto each. Top this with a knob of button, season generously, then into the oven it goes. After 15 minutes, add slices of blue cheese, then bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the cheese is gloriously sizzling and just starting to brown.

By this time, your chicken should be almost ready. Add a squeeze of tomato purée and a good handful of mange-tout. Place a lid on the pan and steam the vegetables in the sauce for two minutes until al dente.

Ladle the chicken onto your serving-dish and position the mushrooms beside it. A final flourish of chopped parsley completes the job, and dinner is served!

All in all, a meal fit for a king (and a low-carb one at that!).

Thanks for ready and bon ap!

Adam

Casseroled Bavarian Sausages with Bacon, Savoy & Gouda. A Low-Carb ‘One-Pot’ Winter-Warmer Without the Stodge!

BRATWURST

At this time of year, food must be comforting and rich. This isn’t solely to ward off the chill. It’s equally down to the limited selection of seasonal vegetables we have available, and the slow cooking-methods required to process them. Gone are the long Summer days of late-dining and salads made of fresh, raw vegetables. Nature’s harvest in Winter is every bit as delicious, but just needs a little bit more cooking to deliver its best!

One of the long-standing problems with Autumn- & Winter-fare, is that it’s traditionally hugely carb-heavy. The mind immediately conjures up potatoes, pastry, root-vegetables and bread; all of which are ‘off limits’ on a healthy ketogenic-diet. They all send a diabetic’s blood-sugar soaring & you’d have to expend ‘Olympic levels’ of energy to stop your body from storing away all that glucose as fat!

Thankfully, there’s also a huge range of delicious ‘low-carb’ options available. These tick all the boxes in terms of ‘comfort-value’, but save us the bloat and instinctive urge to hibernate, which arises from glucose-overload!

This particular dish is a favourite of mine. I adore food from Bavaria and Southern Germany. The French tend to use red-wine in their cooking, whereas these areas of Germany err more towards the whites. This gives the food a comparative ‘lightness’ which is hard to beat! The strong, robust tastes of mustard and vinegar provide a ‘backbone’ to that lightness, which renders the food fresh-tasting but also hearty.

I used Nordhessische & Nürnberger Bratwurst (purchased from local supermarket), but good results would also be achieved with standard sausages. It’s mainly the wine, mustard and vinegar which contribute to the taste; the rest comes down to availability.

Start by placing a heavy-based casserole onto the hob. Add diced bacon (lardons) and fry until brown. If more fat is required to prevent the bacon from sticking, then add a knob of butter and a splash of oil. Meanwhile, chop onions or shallots into hearty chunks and add these to the pan. These can be followed by whichever vegetables you have to hand; I used celery, green pepper, mushroom courgette and leek. Please note – cabbage comes later!

Whilst the vegetables are sautéing, chop your large Bratwurst into inch-plus chunks. Add these to the pan, with the smaller Nürnberger to follow a couple of minutes later.

Finely chop garlic and parsley stalks and add these to the casserole, then leave it to build up heat for a minute or so, before you deglaze the pan with half a glass of crisp, clean white-wine (such as riesling, or dry  Gewürztraminer). Once the liquid has all but evaporated, top up the pan with water until the sausages are up to their necks in it! Add a good teaspoon or so of mustard and a small teaspoon of white-wine vinegar. Place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes with the lid off, which allows the sausages to brown on top.

Meanwhile finely slice your savoy cabbage (circa half). Wash and drain this, then add to the pan when the 20 minutes have elapsed. By this time, the liquid should have reduced by at least half. Sprinkle paprika atop the cabbage, season well, then replace the lid and put back into the oven for 15 minutes until the cabbage is cooked through and tender.

Give the dish a good stir & check for seasoning. Finish by mixing in a knob of butter for richness. Garnish with a generous topping of finely sliced Gouda, drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of parsley. This is most definitely best enjoyed in bowls, with a soup-spoon on hand to make sure you don’t miss out on the rich sauce!

Et voila! Dinner is served.

Thank you for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Chilli-Beef Skewers with Quick Green Curry – Low-Carb Fast-Food That Tastes Anything But!

beef skewers

Making your own curry in no way means spending hours in the kitchen, grinding spices and copiously chopping. With the right recipe; fantastic results can be achieved in minutes, with no compromise on flavour.

I save this dish for a midweek, when I’m pushed for time. You can go from chopping-board to plate in half and hour, which is a real help if you’re late back from work. This recipe is low in carbs, which makes it perfect for diabetics, gluten-intolerants or those on a ketogenic-diet. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll start relying on it whenever you’ve got hungry mouths to feed in a hurry.

The curry can be served with any protein of your choosing; there’s no need to stick with beef. I accompany this with chicken, quorn, lamb, pork and even white fish. The world’s your oyster (okay so I fib; I haven’t tried that combination yet).

Sauté a sliced onion in oil over a medium heat. Chop chilli and garlic, then add these to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, add sliced mushrooms, then shake in 2 teaspoons of cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander & a couple of stock-cubes. Cook for a further minute before pouring in sufficient water to cover the vegetables. Stir in a couple of handfuls of frozen spinach (if using fresh spinach instead then add this 2 minutes before serving) and reduce the liquid to half its volume. Once reduced, mix in half a can of coconut milk and simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Meanwhile, empty minced beef into a large mixing-bowl. Shake on a teaspoon of garlic granules and the same of chill powder. Season well, then mould onto skewers with your hands. Oil a piece of tinfoil and roll each skewer backwards & forwards like a cigar to give the kebabs a ‘professional’ shape and finish. Oven-bake in a hot oven for 10 – 15 minutes.

Two minutes prior to service, add mange-tout to the sauce and a good whack of chopped coriander. A generous squeeze of lime will lift the flavour and form a fuss-free substitute for lemon-grass.

Spoon the green-curry into bowls and take the kebabs out of the oven. Position these on top of the curry, and garnish the lot with more chopped coriander and lime.

Delicious low-carb food in no time!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Thai Smoked-Haddock Fish Cakes with Chilli-Garlic-Spinach and Wasabi Mayonnaise – innocent indulgence without carbs!

fishcake

The rich strong flavours of oriental food form the perfect accompaniment to smoked fish. If either one is accompanied by something less robust, then the secondary element risks becoming lost or overpowered. A well executed dish aims to strike a balance between all components. Haddock and Thai-paste are therefore a match made in heaven!

Don’t be put off by the seeming complexity of this dish. It’s actually very simple and straightforward. Like a lot of low-carb dishes it’s quick to cook and 100% diabetic-friendly. Take the chilli-levels as high as you dare for a little extra punch. I was also ‘generous’ with the wasabi. Condiments are pretty scarce on a ketogenic-diet, so grab the chance when you can!

Start by making the fishcakes. Roughly chop your haddock and mix this with a can of drained tuna. Finely dice chilli, coriander stalk, lemongrass and a clove of garlic, then add these to the fish-mix. Season well and stir in a beaten egg. Using your hands, thoroughly combine the ingredients and form into balls, squeezing out any excess liquid. Fishcakes are far harder to make without flour or potato, so simply press them into submission. The egg will hopefully do the job of holding them all together.

Shallow fry the fishcakes in hot oil for a minute on each side until nicely browned. Then place onto a baking-tray and oven bake for 15 minutes.

Whilst the fishcakes are in the oven, microwave fresh or frozen spinach. After a minute or so, crumble in a chicken stock-cube, finely sliced chilli and a crushed clove of garlic. Grind in pepper and salt and put back into the microwave for a further 2 minutes or so, until the spinach is piping hot and cooked down. Fresh spinach will obviously be far quicker than frozen.

Serve the spinach onto plates, top with radish for colour and a small sprinkle of parmesan for richness. Take the fishcakes out of the oven and serve alongside the spinach. Add a generous dollop of mayonnaise and a good squeeze of wasabi. Finally squeeze a lemon-wedge over the lot and garnish with ripped coriander-leaves.

I also added a couple of quails eggs and steamed French beans. This is simply because I needed to use them up (I hate wasting food!!!!) but the recipe certainly doesn’t need them.

Mix a little wasabi with the mayonnaise prior to each mouthful. That way, your taste-buds receive the full onslaught of flavours all in one go!

Need I say it…? Delicious!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Spiced Lamb Koftas with Aromatic Cumin-Roasted Vegetable Ragout – Maximum Flavour, Minimum Carbs!

lamb kofta

I’ve always loved cumin. It has a warm aromatic flavour that adds depth to a dish like no other. In Autumn, when the evenings turn cold, this is just the kind of food I want – bursting with flavour, yet quick and easy to prepare. The perfume of spices instantly transports you to warmer climes – if ever there was soul food, this is it!

This dish is perfect for those on a ketogenic- / LCHF diet, or equally diabetics & gluten-intolerants. What little carbohydrate there is comes solely from vegetables, so it’s bursting with goodness. For those with a higher carb allowance, add a half-can of chickpeas or starchier vegetables such as squash or pumpkin. The ragout is incredibly adaptable to whatever you have on hand – just the thing for a mid-week meal therefore – use up the leftovers!

Start by dicing your vegetables. I used onion, celery, peppers, aubergine & mushrooms. Shake on a generous dusting of cumin and mix in two crushed cloves of garlic. If you like chilli, finely chop as much as you can bear then season well. Pour on sufficient olive-oil to coat then roast in a hot oven for half an hour.

Meanwhile, make your koftas. Place lamb mince into a bowl and measure in a small teaspoon of garlic salt, the same of paprika and two teaspoons of ground cumin. Grind in pepper and crushed sea-salt. Give it a good mix with your hands, then form into balls, about the size of a golf ball. Oven bake for half and hour until brown and succulent.

When the meatballs go into the oven, remove your vegetables and add to these a drained can of chopped tomatoes. Squeeze in some lemon juice and crumble in a chicken stock-cube. Chop the stems of your coriander and stir these into the mix. Place back into the oven for the remaining time it takes to cook the lamb.

Once cooked, take the lamb out of the oven to rest for a couple of minutes. Remove the vegetables and stir in a generous handful of grated cheese. This adds richness and a bit of body to the sauce. Ladle the ragout into bowls, then pile up your koftas to one side. Garnish with ripped coriander leaves and a final squeeze of lemon.

The perfect way to bring a little warmth to a cold November night.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Wintry Slow-Braised Oxtail with Echalion-Shallots & Port; Served with Mange-Tout & Steamed Broccoli in a Blue-Cheese Béchamel – rich, satisfying & delicious. And all without carbs!

oxtail

Oxtail is one of those things that has rather gone out of fashion. Principally I think because supermarkets rarely stock it, and consequently you have to go to the butcher’s to get it. Also, cuts of meat which require long, slow cooking don’t tend to fit in with our modern ‘convenience-lifestyles’ particularly well. It’s not the kind of thing you can grill for 12 minutes then it’s done!

In spite of its image problem, oxtail is something which definitely deserves the effort. Like lamb, it has that rich, unctuous quality, where the meat literally collapses and melts onto the fork. Because it’s braised on the bone, slow-cooking releases the marrow’s sweet, gelatinous stock, which gently cooks out into the sauce. It consequently has that feeling of ‘casseroles of old’.

Few low-carb dishes have the mouth-feel of a ‘thickened sauce’. The good news is that oxtail does it automatically, so you get the feel of flour, without the carbs!

As the kitchen slowly fills with the scent of braised beef, and each family member in turn asks hungrily “what’s for dinner?”; you’ll truly feel that rare sense of achievement which so often gets lost in modern cooking. This dish is one of those things where good things come to those who wait. Trust me; it’s worth it!

Heat a heavy-based casserole on the hob and then throw in a knob of butter and a little oil (to stop it burning). Salt the oxtail and add it piece by piece to the pan; enjoying the rich sizzle & odour as the cool meat instantly caramelises against the hot metal. Turn the meat as each side seals, re-seasoning the pieces as you go. Remember not to over-crowd the pan. Meat is a solitary fellow when it browns; it doesn’t much care for company. Put too much in at once and the temperature of the pan will cool. At this point, all you’ll get is meat which steams. There won’t be a sniff of caramelisation in sight. That would be a horrid pity!

Once the meat is nicely sealed, add a good handful of eschalions (also known as banana shallots). Stir these in, then add a clove of chopped garlic. Don’t go too heavy on the garlic with this dish. It’s not coq au vin, where the blandness of the meat requires a hefty boost in flavour. The oxtail can very much hold its own in taste and richness – but you must give it a chance.

De-glaze the pan with a good glug of port, then once the liquid has reduced, top up with water until the oxtail is ‘up to its eyebrows’ in liquid. Shake in some dried herbs, a bay-leaf and add a good teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Place the lid on the pan and, when it comes to the boil; move into a low oven (circa 130˚) with the lid on for a good two and a half hours.

Following this, lift the lid and you should see a rich, ‘glossy’ sauce which has reduced by roughly half its volume. If there is still any fat remaining that hasn’t cooked out; upend those oxtail pieces in the pan, so that the fat is facing upwards (like fat on a roasting joint). Return the pan to a hot oven without the lid, so that the remaining fat browns and the sauce reduces down by a further half.

Meanwhile prepare your béchamel. When I say ‘béchamel’, this is really a sauce based on cream-reduction, as it uses no flour. The end result is still the same however – rich, creamy and smooth. Make up a full cup-worth of double-cream, diluted by half with water. Pour this into a thick-bottomed saucepan and place onto the simmering-plate. Crumble a handful of blue-cheese into the pan, season and leave to thicken for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chop your broccoli and steam with the mange-tout for a couple of minutes, until a sharp knife goes in but ‘meets resistance’ (we still want the vegetables to retain their bite). Take your oxtail out of the oven and ladle into a serving-dish. Pile the steamed vegetables next to this, and pour over your blue-cheese sauce. Serve in large bowls, making sure each portion gets a generous scoop of the thickened gravy.

Perfection itself!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Creamy Italian Pesto, Smoked-Bacon & Mascapone Chicken with Fresh ‘Traffic-Light’ Salad – a green light for low carbohydrate!

pesto chicken

Sometimes, all we want from food is a sense of indulgence. When that’s your mood, it needs to be quick and fuss-free (you don’t feel very indulgent when you’re up to your ears in washing-up!).

Thankfully, Italian food comes up trumps on all these fronts. It’s light yet rich; packed with flavour, yet simple. I’m a huge fan, especially now that the evenings are getting so wintry and dark! Close your eyes and dream of Italy. Then feel smug as this won’t affect your waistline! It’s low-carb, gluten-free and won’t impact a diabetic’s blood-sugar. What more do you need? Give it a go.

In a sauté-pan, brown your chicken-fillets in a mix of butter and oil. Dice your bacon and add this to the pan. Slice half a leek & mix in, continuing to cook on a medium heat until soft. Finely chop a large clove of garlic and sauté this with the rest. After a couple of minutes, crank up the heat and de-glaze your pan with a very small amount of dry martini.

Add half a cup of water and a good tablespoon (at least) of pesto. Reduce this on the hob until the liquid is half its original volume. Stir through half a tub of mascapone and some chopped basil.

Meanwhile, finely slice red, yellow and green peppers, then mix these in a salad-bowl with crisp, fresh salad and a good glug of olive-oil. Sprinkle with parmesan-shavings, then serve piled up next to your chicken in a generous-sized bowl.

This is the sort of indulgent comfort-food that hits the spot each and every time. The carb-count means you can dive straight in for seconds, so what’s stopping you?!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Russian Millionaire’s Salad! Quails’ Eggs, Caviar, Smoked Salmon & Truffle-Dressed Beans. Decadent, Indulgent & Low Carb!

millionaire

Diabetes and dieting are two serious things. But food doesn’t have to be! We jokingly call this our Russian Millionaire’s Salad, because if we were to buy the real ingredients, we’d need a millionaire’s budget to afford it!

But this dish very much proves that luxury doesn’t necessarily command a high price tag. The caviar is not sturgeon; rather Atlantic lump-fish roe. Truffles come in the form of inexpensive truffle-oil, mixed into the vinaigrette-dressing. The salmon is by far the dearest thing on the plate (but no-one needs know that).

So place your vodka bottle in the freezer for a couple of hours, and dig out your finest cut-lead-crystal glasses. Imperial Russia may be long gone, but we can still drink nostalgically to its memory! The second toast can be to ketones – salads don’t come much lower in carbohydrate than this; so diabetics, gluten-intolerants and LCHF-dieters can all dig in with aplomb!

Place a pan of water on to boil, and cook the beans for two & a half minutes until al dente. Lift out of the pan and plunge into cold water, so they keep their colour and crunch. Do exactly the same with the quails’ eggs. Any longer than 2 1/2 minutes will mean they’re hard-boiled. I like a slight softness to the yolk, but this is to preference. Once the eggs have sat in cold water for circa 5 minutes and are cool to the touch; shell, rinse and pat dry with paper-towel.

Now for the dressing. Put a teaspoon of Dijon mustard into a mixing bowl. Using your eye as guide, add a double volume of white-wine vinegar and a small squeeze of lemon-juice (half mustard to liquid). Grind in pepper and salt and then whisk smooth. Now start to beat in your truffle-oil. I use half truffle-oil to light olive-oil, but it all depends on how extravagant you’re feeling. Whisk in the oil in slow drips, so that it incorporates immediately. Once you’ve got four times the volume than you had of mustard-vinegar mix; give it a quick taste to adjust for seasoning and tartness. We want it sharp, but not unpleasantly so!

Toss your beans in the truffle-dressing and place onto your serving-dish. Stand the eggs at intervals and sprinkle these with paprika. Layer on your smoked salmon and dollop a good tablespoon of caviar beside this. Sprinkle on sliced radishes for colour and bite, followed by a good squeeze of lime.

Slice a celery-stick into inch-chunks and top with salmon-pâté (salmon off-cuts blitzed up with lemon-juice and crème-fraîche). Serve these at intervals around the side, again sprinkled with paprika.

This dish feels incredibly decadent, yet it’s actually really straightforward and quick. Sometimes it’s nice to prepare something that’s just a little bit different; and this recipe certainly qualifies as that! It can also be eaten for breakfast; indeed we’ve had it on Christmas morning a couple of times.

Whatever the occasion, you’ll feel like a millionaire every time you have it. For most of us, it’s the closest we’ll ever come!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Cauliflower Rice – the Low-Carb Food Revolution Continues!

cauliflower rice

Much like zoodles, this is one of those things that will change the way you eat forever! Cauliflower rice.

No matter which diet you’re following, nutrient-rich vegetables should make up the principal portion of your dinner-plate. This just got even easier with cauliflower rice.

Diabetics, gluten-intolerants and those on an LCHF regime can tuck into this with vigour. It’s incredibly low in carbs and couldn’t be simpler to make. It even reheats well! You’ll wonder how you ever got by without it!

Enjoy it with curries, Middle-Eastern dishes, West Indies, recipes from the South Pacific – the list is endless. It also makes the base for a brilliant salad in the lunch-box for work. I can’t get enough of the stuff  Once you’ve made it; you’ll soon see why!

All you do is cut the cauliflower head into florets. Pulse these in a food-processor until the texture is as per rice grains (see the picture above). It’s best doing this is batches, so that the food-processor doesn’t turn the lot into purée!

Once chopped, sauté in butter with a little olive-oil (so the butter doesn’t burn) for around four minutes. Taste to adjust the seasoning and check that the cauliflower is cooked through. We’re looking for tender, but still keeping its bite.

Et voila! Your cauliflower rice is ready! We’re taking the above batch to a dinner party this evening. Pre-cooked, then a minute or two in the microwave and all done. Few things could be easier!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Braised Lamb-Shanks with ‘Binham Blue’ Cabbage – fine dining without the carbs!

shank

When lamb-shanks are done well, there can be few things to rival them. The lamb should be unctuously tender, and fall from the bone at the merest suggestion of a fork. Although the meat should be meltingly soft on the inside; that tenderness is countered by a thick, stickily-glazed crust. Succulent, brown, & caramelised is what we’re aiming for. The only word is mouth-watering!

Because lamb is so rich, I always tend to accompany it with ‘plainer’ vegetables. Whatever you use needs to provide a sharp contrast in texture with the softness of the meat; al dente cabbage is both seasonal and incredibly fresh-tasting, to counter out the depth of the lamb.

One trick with lamb is that it requires a generous amount of salt. To provide this, and equally introduce a third and final flavour to round off the other two; I’ve added blue cheese. This gives the dish that all important ‘saltiness’; yet is strong enough to hold its own against the lamb and cooked greens. Be careful not to choose a ‘blue’ which goes runny with heat (e.g. Gorgonzola). We don’t want the cabbage to be swimming in cream-sauce (that would compromise its freshness). Instead, we want little ‘taste-explosions’, so that the cheese doesn’t over-power the dish; rather ‘punctuate’ it.

I used a local cheese ‘Binham Blue’, which is artisan-made and has that slightly ‘chewy bite’ which doesn’t crumble or turn to liquid. For a blue-cheese, the taste is ripe & robust, but also mellow & delicate. I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in these parts. Any blue you like will be fine however; as long as you bear in mind how the texture will respond to heat.

Start by seasoning your shanks. Seal these on a high heat until the surface starts to brown. Add a sliced onion and continue to seal in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Bring back to the hob and turn your oven right down to low (140-150º max). Deglaze the pan with a little port or red wine, then add a bayleaf, chopped herbs and a small amount of water. Place the lid firmly on the pan and roast in the slow-oven for ideally three hours. At this point, remove the lid and check the meat for tenderness by ‘nudging it’ with your spoon. The bone should have retracted by one quarter of the original and the meat should ‘threaten’ to fall off the bone if moved. Sprinkle a final amount of seasoning on the meat, then back into a hot oven with the lid off the pan for 20 minutes to ‘crisp up’ on top.

Meanwhile shred your cabbage. Steam for 5 minutes until tender but still with bite. Season, sprinkle in chopped herbs, then your diced cheese. A small knob of butter or ‘shake’ of oil with give the cabbage a shine and keep it glossy. Keep the stirring to a minimum to preserve the shape of the cheese, then pile up in the middle of your serving-plate. I like to add a small squeeze of lime to lift the cabbage.

Take your shanks out of the oven and position each one atop its cabbage-bed. Drizzle a few of the pan-juices around the bowl then voila! Dinner is served.

I needn’t tell you how good this is – you must try it yourself! The dish is suitable for a ketogenic-diet (LCHF), but also diabetics and gluten-intolerants. There’s no excuse therefore; everyone can get stuck in with gusto! And they’ll all agree it was worth the wait!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.