Low Carb Lunch! Emmental, Ham & Avocado Salad in a Rich Pesto Dressing. Sublime!

ham avocado salad

Salads are always a perfect luncheon dish, or equally a great starter to a main course. They’re ready in minutes and are packed full of nutrition. They also contribute to your ‘5 a day’; which is always welcome.

The key to a good salad is the dressing. Things like vinaigrette or Caesar-dressing are delicious, but they can be time consuming. To remedy this, I thought I’d share with you the world’s easiest ‘quick fix’ recipe – pesto dressing! I use it when I’m pushed for time, or have run out of more complex ingredients for other things. Or equally, just whenever I fancy it –  it tastes wonderful!

Making this couldn’t be simpler. Put a large dessert-spoonful of jarred pesto into a small mixing-bowl.  Slowly stir in olive oil with a spoon until the mixture is sufficiently runny to ‘drizzle’ off the lifted spoon. If it falls in clumps, you need more oil. Hey presto! That’s it. It makes a perfect accompaniment to so many salads, fish, cooked-meats, chicken, cheese… the choice is endless.

For this particular dish I’ve chosen smoked ham, Emmental & avocado, which is a delicious combination. Spread your salad leaves in the bottom of a large bowl and sprinkle over a generous helping of finely sliced ham. De-stone your avocado and arrange this is the centre, then shave over a good quantity of parmesan. Avocado always needs something salty, so any hard Italian cheese is the perfect thing to pair it with.

To provide a little substance and texture, I’ve also added diced Emmental. Emmental is one of those cheeses with a dense, resistant ‘bite’ and mild nutty taste. It’s great for salads because it’s easy to chop (unlike crumbly or soft cheeses) and it doesn’t war with the other flavours. A salad that tastes of only one thing, must be considered a disappointment in the extreme and reflects a poor choice of ingredients.

Strew your diced cheese all around, then spoon over your dressing. To compliment the pesto, scatter over finely chopped basil and season with salt and pepper to finish. I’ve also added sliced scotch-bonnet chillies to give things a kick! But these are entirely a matter of preference, and can be omitted if they’re not your thing!

All that remains is to get stuck in! So don’t delay.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

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Spinach, Asparagus, Serrano Ham & Goat’s Cheese with Tangy French Vinaigrette – a delicious low carb salad that’s ready in minutes!

asparagus goat's cheese salad

Asparagus is one of my favourite things. Good job it’s low carb! Here I’ve teamed it with smoky Serrano ham, baby spinach leaves and classic French vinaigrette.

This delicious combination is ready in three minutes flat and is incredibly straightforward; more a matter of assembly than anything else!

With regards the Serrano ham; this dry-cured ‘mountain ham’ from Spain can equally be replaced with Italian Parma-, or German Black-Forest ham. All are equally delicious, so if you can’t decide on taste, let availability be your guide.

Bring a shallow pan of water to the boil and blanche your asparagus for two minutes, until soft but retaining bite. Then plunge the cooked spears into cold water so they keep their vibrant green.

Place your spinach into the base of your salad-bowl, then arrange your asparagus on top. Layer on slices of the cured Serrano ham, then position your rondelles of goat’s cheese. You can equally cut the cheese into rustic chunks if you prefer – the choice is all yours!

Finely shave a little parmesan over the top, followed by roughly chopped basil leaves. Finally, spoon your vinaigrette at intervals over the salad, then finish with a good grind of pepper.

Low carb doesn’t get any easier or faster than this!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Silesian Sausages in a Mustard Butter Sauce – a true culinary triumph! Low in carbs, high in flavour…

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Few dishes can abound in flavour as much as this one! Hot smoky paprika, fiery mustard & peppery rocket-leaves; all tempered by the rich warmth of chicken-stock and the creamy smoothness of butter. I love the food of Eastern Europe. There’s a fresh vibrancy to it, that’s like no other.

But behind the often confrontational flavours lies a timeless polish; a food-culture that’s cherished and valued, passed down with diligence from generation to generation like the most precious of treasures. This is not the food of urban restaurants and cookbooks; rather the cuisine born of warm kitchens, family-mealtimes and love. It’s good, plain, honest fare which nurtures & satisfies; and for this reason, I applaud it wholeheartedly!

Silesia is a region that has seen its fair share of history! Once part of Bohemia, it has since passed through Austrian hands, been part of Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Its food speaks of all these places; possessing a rich diversity all of its own.

For those on a low-carb diet; the warm ‘heartiness’ of such cuisine is a true god-send! A lot of recipes lacking in carbohydrate also lack body and substance. Well this dish is succulent, tasty and filling. Diabetics & gluten-intolerants can also share in the feast. There’s even room for the paleo-fans, if they so wish! Now we’re all gathered, it’s time to start cooking…

Begin with your mustard-sauce. Finely slice a couple of shallots, or half an onion; and sauté these in butter until soft, tender & translucent. Cover to half an inch in depth with boiling water and stir in half a chicken stock-cube. Season well and add a generous rounded teaspoonful of Dijon mustard. Simmer lightly for 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half, and is thick and glossy. Finish it to perfection with a good whack of finely chopped basil.

Meanwhile slice your Polish sausages into half-inch chunks. The sausage can be sokolow, kielbasa or anything you can get your hands on. As long as it contains paprika and garlic you should be fine! Sauté these in a thick-bottomed pan for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally. Once they’re browned and golden, you’re ready.

Tumble your sausages into a pre-warmed serving dish and pour your mustard-sauce all over. Serve with handfuls of peppery rocket-salad or watercress; no dressing, just beautifully natural!

I prepared this as a starter; but it would equally do you proud as a main course, served with steamed vegetables in place of salad.

All that’s left is to dig in! Delicious!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Goat’s Cheese, Parma Ham & Rocket Salad – low carb fast food that’s bursting with flavour!

parma ham and goats' cheese salad

 

Good food needn’t be complicated or fiddly. Take this salad for example; it’s absolutely delicious and prepared in minutes!

The slightly soured taste of goat’s cheese perfectly balances the deep, full flavour of smoky parma ham. Both ingredients are lifted by the bright ‘tang’ of vinaigrette, which cuts through the richness and refreshes the palette.

I’ve also added some finely sliced scotch-bonnet chilli to give the whole thing a polite background kick! This is naturally up to you entirely. The dish is equally delicious without it!

Place your rocket and mixed leaves into the base of your salad-bowl. Layer on slices or parma ham and rondelles of goat’s cheese.

Finely chop a spring onion and scatter this over, followed by micro-thin slices of chilli, if you chose to use it.

Spoon your vinaigrette at intervals over the salad, then finish the dish with a good squeeze of lime and lavish grind of pepper.

Hey presto! A healthy, delicious low-carb salad in minutes! Good food doesn’t get any easier than this!

Thanks for reading,

Adam.

Timbale of Leek, Parmesan & Crayfish-Tails with Dressed Green-Leaves – true low carb sophistication!

timbale

I always feel that if you enjoy food & spend time preparing it, the presentation should certainly not let you down. But what often looks complicated, in actual fact can be incredibly simple. This low-carb dish is a perfect example!

A timbale is a Latin American drum; so the cooking term simply references that shape. You can buy timbale-moulds very cheaply; or alternatively if you’re more the ‘make do and mend type’ (like me), you can simply line a ramekin with cling-film and press the filling into that. Turn it out onto a plate and then pile-up a little more of the mixture on top to form a dome. It’s this ‘domed shape’ which gives a timbale its name. Obviously this method is not the purist’s approach but I see no problem with 2-stage construction! I shan’t tell if you don’t!

In comparison to prawns or crevettes; crayfish-tails are far less sweet in flavour. As a result, butter-softened leeks make their perfect bedfellow. This recipe also uses cream-cheese, which is incredibly mild in flavour. The salty intensity of parmesan serves to ‘lift’ this, and provides background depth to the whole dish. This combination is one which therefore works on all levels. Give it a go and tell me what you think!

Start by slicing your leek as finely as you can. Sauté the slices in salted butter on a low heat. Once the leek has softened, but not coloured; spoon it onto a wide dinner plate, spreading the mix as thinly as you can. This is so it cools nice & quickly. The cold weather being what it is, I tend to cover the plate with a tea-towel and place it out on the garden wall for 5 minutes. That always chills things down far more quickly than even the most high-tech refrigerator!

Once your leeks are nice and cool, scoop into a mixing-bowl and add a large tablespoon of full-fat cream-cheese (no reduced-fat please – we’re on a ketogenic diet after all!). Finely chop some basil and add this to the bowl, plus a good squeeze of lemon-juice. Pile your crayfish-tails onto some kitchen-paper and squeeze lightly to drain any excess liquid. Place half of these into the mixing-bowl and season well. Add a half-handful of grated parmesan, then fold the mix together with an authoritative hand. Be careful not to beat the lot into a paste! That would prove unsightly and ruin your efforts. Test for seasoning then press into your oiled timbale-moulds, or ramekins as above.

Upturn the moulds into the centre of your serving-plate, then  take the remaining half of your crayfish tails and pile them up on top to form your dome. If you’ve done this properly and used the real timbale moulds, don’t worry; just carry on piling up the crayfish-tails regardless!

Garnish the top with thin slices yellow scotch-bonnet chillies and a basil leaf. Dress your salad-leaves with vinaigrette and place a small handful onto your plate. Top this with a few shavings of parmesan and finish the dish with a final drizzle of vinaigrette.

Truly delectable in every way!

Thanks for reading and 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.

 

Avocado, Bacon & Blue Cheese Salad with Tangy French Vinaigrette – Low Carb Heaven!

avocado salad

Salads needn’t be complex or involve hundreds of finely chopped ingredients to be flavoursome. Besides the vinaigrette, this dish contains just four ingredients: smoked-bacon, lettuce, blue-cheese and avocado. If you’re worried that its simplicity might detract from its flavour; don’t be. It’s delicious! Take my word for it.

I mainly prepare this recipe as a starter. But because it’s so quick and easy, it also makes a wonderful lunch dish for when time is tight. My recommendation is to make a large batch of dressing, from which you just serve a good glug every time you’re preparing a salad. A bottle of home-made vinaigrette will keep for months and is infinitely better than anything you can buy. Again, take my word for it!

Place rashers of smoked streaky bacon onto a baking sheet and oven until brown and crisp. I should say circa 15 minutes, but this very much depends on your oven. Whilst this is cooking, make your vinaigrette.

Crush a small clove of chilli into a mixing-bowl, then add a dessert-spoon full of Dijon mustard. Judging the quantities roughly by eye, add the same volume of lemon-juice as you see mustard in the bowl, then grind in pepper and a good crunch of sea-salt. Now sprinkle in a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Judging by eye again, pour in white-wine vinegar until you have the same quantity of vinegar to all other ingredients. Place the bowl onto a damp tea-towel to stop it moving, then whisk in sunflower-oil, drizzling this in slowly so that the dressing doesn’t separate. If it does, then no great shakes; it’s only visual appeal that’s compromised, not taste. Once you have circa 10 times your pre-oil volume of dressing, stop and have a quick taste on the tip of a spoon. It should be pleasingly acidic, but not ‘wincingly’ so. If too strong, simply continue to whisk in oil until you’re happy with it!

Once done, remove the bacon from the oven to cool.

Scatter salad-leaves into your serving-dish, then place your de-stoned avocado on top. The best way to prepare avocado is to halve it lengthways then hit the stone with the blade of your knife. A quick twist anticlockwise will instantly remove it, enabling you to simply scrape the avocado out of its skin with a soup-spoon.

Dice your blue-cheese and strew this over the avocado and lettuce. Slice your bacon into inch-length-strips and toss these over the other ingredients. Finely pour a generous glug of vinaigrette all over the dish and finish with a grind of pepper.

This dish is so unbelievably simple yet tastes fantastic. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Once you’ve had a go, be sure to let me know how you got on.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Classic Prawn Cocktail – a much loved favourite, just without the carbs!

prawn cocktail

You may or may not know that the ‘Marie Rose’, or ‘Cocktail Sauce’ which accompanies a prawn-cocktail was first created by Fanny Cradock in the 1960s. Her original sauce was made from tomatoes, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, lemon-juice and pepper. Subsequent versions have been simplified to just tomato-ketchup and mayonnaise, which is now the standard version used.

Ketchup contains sugar, which is ‘off limits’ to diabetics and those on a ketogenic diet. My version of this classic therefore substitutes the ketchup for tomato purée. This makes it low-carb but every bit as delicious.

To make the sauce, take two heaped tablespoons of mayonnaise and squeeze in a good tablespoon of lemon-juice. Grind in black pepper, then add a teaspoon of tomato-purée. Mix the ingredients thoroughly until smooth. Next stir in half of your prawns, keeping the rest aside to garnish.

Form a bed of lettuce in your salad-bowl. Inch-length chunks of celery laid on top of this add a pleasing textural variation. Quickly drizzle vinaigrette or olive-oil over the leaves, then spoon your prawns-in-sauce all over the salad. Arrange the remaining prawns at intervals across the surface, keeping the tails-on for decoration.

Sprinkle a few cubes of feta over the dish and finally shave a flourish of deliciously-salty parmesan over the top. A good squeeze of lemon sees the dish complete!

Prawn-cocktail must be the ultimate late-twentieth-century starter; one that time has been unable to diminish. If you haven’t had it for a while, then try it as above. You’ll soon be reminded what’s kept the dish so universally popular for the last 50 years!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Oven-Warmed Camembert with Truffled-Bresaola & Rocket – Meltingly Delicious, Minimal Carbs!

camembert

Who can resist the soft melt of warm camembert? It’s one of those things you can almost scoop off the plate! Its mellow, creaminess works incredibly well with stronger flavours. I’ve teamed it with the ripe taste of truffle-oil and the piquancy of chillies. It diffuses the heat of scotch-bonnets perfectly, and is further complimented by the nutty, peppery flavour of rocket.

To provide a bit of textural variation, I’ve added some finely sliced radish. This lends the salad a pleasing crunch. The rich heaviness of Bresaola counterpoints the other ingredients, by providing that all important ‘density’. The result? A symphony of taste and texture that is both satisfying and filling. And all without carbs!

Start by making 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!

Shred your Bresaola with a sharp knife and toss this in a little of your vinaigrette. Position off-centre on the plate, and do the same with your rocket. Finely slice a radish and then cut it into strips. Sprinkle this over the salad, then chop a little yellow-chilli to garnish the dish and add some colour.

Meanwhile, slice your camembert into wedges. Place onto a non-stick baking-tray and oven-bake for a couple of minutes (maximum) until the cheese starts to give way around the edges. Make sure you consistently check its progress throughout this time – every oven is different, and the last thing you want to end up with is a pool of cream on the oven-floor!

Once warmed through, lift onto your plate with a palate knife, then drizzle a final flourish of dressing around the lot!

There’s only one word for this dish – delectable! I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Creamy Celeriac, Celery, Cauliflower & Stilton Soup – low-carb, filling & delicious!

soup

If you enjoy cooking, then there’s no doubt that markets, butchers’, greengrocers’ & supermarkets are places of great promise. There’s a huge joy in deliberating what to buy next, and what wonders you can cook up with a ready supply of ingredients. But if you’re anything like me, the frequent food-shopping trips will inevitably leave you thinking “now what I am going to do with all this…?” At some time we all experience the situation where our larder is bigger than our stomachs!

A well run kitchen is one where left-overs are both planned for & managed; the low-carb kitchen is no different! Wastage of food is to be abhorred and never tolerated. It’s not only a waste of money, but also squanders environmental resources & is a slap in the face to those who live their lives without (are you getting the message that I don’t like wastage?).

To combat this, soup has always been the cook’s best friend! So many little bits of ‘this and that’ can go into the saucepan, in what can truly be a rags to riches exercise. The high vegetable content makes it incredibly nutritious; definitely a staunch contributor to your 5 a day! Another benefit of soup is that is freezes well and is great for lunches at work when time is short.

Anything puréed is not normally the best format for diabetics, as the cell structure is broken down prior to digesting the food. Carbohydrate is therefore released into the blood-stream far more rapidly as it doesn’t need to be processed further by the body. Thankfully, this recipe shouldn’t present that problem. The contents are extremely low in carbs, plus the addition of cheese serves to slow the absorption of what little glucose there is (fat slows down the body’s metabolism of carbohydrate).

This particular recipe is not only nutritious and delicious; it also posed the perfect solution to my ever-mounting pile of vegetables! I had a small bowl of cauliflower-rice that wasn’t enough to stretch to two portions, plus a small wedge of celeriac that was going nowhere on its own!  Any surplus vegetables would work wonderfully here, including spinach, broccoli (stalks too!), peas, rocket, watercress, courgette and mushrooms. About the only common vegetables which don’t make good soup are peppers, beans and aubergine.

Take a medium onion and roughly dice. Place a deep casserole onto the hob, with butter and a little oil, then add the onion. Chop your celery and celeriac and stir them in. If you’re using fresh cauliflower, slice into chunks and add this too (I used left-over cauliflower-rice, so put this in at the end because it was already cooked). Don’t allow the vegetables to burn, as this will muddy the taste.

Once the onions start to turn translucent, pour on water so that the vegetables are well submerged. Don’t go overboard on the water – it’s easy to add more, but sacrifices taste if you end up drowning them. Crumble in a couple of stock-cubes & dried herbs, then place the lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft enough to collapse when pressed against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon.

Finely dice your blue-cheese, then sprinkle this in (quantity to taste). Stir around, so that the cheese begins to melt, then go in with a stick-blender until smooth. Pour in a splosh of cream, then taste to check for seasoning.

Ladle into bowls and eat whilst piping hot. Just the thing for a cold, wintry evening!

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.

The ‘Big Breakfast’ Low-Carb Omelette – the joy of a leisurely Sunday breakfast every day of the week!

breakfast omelette

The ketogenic-diet can be problematic at one time of day – breakfast!

Trying to find time to cook healthy low-carb bacon and eggs, when you’re running late for work isn’t easy. Equally, when you’re still half asleep; it’s questionable whether you actually want to be standing over a hot stove! I’d rather be outside getting some fresh air and exercise, before I’m resigned to sitting behind an office-desk all day!

The solution I’ve found is to use the leisure and relaxed timescales of a Sunday morning to prepare a big hearty breakfast. The remainder of this can then be portioned up, to be eaten on those rushed mid-week mornings! The omelette can be eaten cold, or reheated in the microwave (1-2 mins) or oven (5 mins). This makes mornings a ‘piece of cake’. Diabetics and low-carbers, take heed.

Roughly chop smoked-bacon and add to a non-stick pan with a little butter. Following this, add chopped-up sausages or breadcrumb-free sausage-meat. Sauté until they begin to brown, then stir in sliced onion or leek (I prefer leek as it has a ‘softer’ taste for breakfast time).

Once these start to turn translucent, crank up the heat and add chopped mushrooms & courgette. Why raise the heat? We don’t want the mushrooms to leach their water – they need to fry to prevent this from happening. If the temperature is too low, they’ll just steam and release all their greyish liquid. This leads to a watery omelette and looks unappetising.

Once the vegetables are cooked, break six eggs into a jug and season well. You can add roughly chopped herbs to the mix if you like. Beat the egg with a fork then pour on top of your omelette ingredients. Incorporate the liquid routinely across the surface, by opening up gaps in the dry-ingredients, then closing them again once the egg-mix has seeped in to close the gaps. Then simply top the lot with grated cheese and place under the grill for 3 minutes until sizzlingly golden and brown.

Voila – breakfast is served. It couldn’t be easier.

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.

Padron Peppers… Who’ll get the hot one???

padron

I’ve touched on these briefly in a previous post; but that was using them as a salad-ingredient. Time now to give them a little one-to-one attention, as they certainly deserve it!

Padron is a municipality of north-west Spain. The peppers which take its name, are principally used in Tapas dishes. I can very much see why, as they make the perfect low-carb accompaniment to drinks, or served alongside a selection of other ‘light-bites’ for a dig-in-and-share kind of meal.

Why are they so special? One in ten of them is hot and fiery like a chill-pepper; the remaining nine are sweet, smooth & mild like the classic capsicum. This adds a fun element of ‘Russian Roulette’ into the diner-time-equation. And besides that; they taste wonderful!

Padron peppers are really easy to cook. Heat a glug of good quality olive-oil in a pan. Throw in your peppers, and season with rock-salt and ground pepper. Move them around in the pan until all sides blister into pander-spots (see picture above). Once they’re soft and look as if they’ve aged 100 years in two minutes (the blistering looks like wrinkles); remove them from the heat and shave on a generous peel of Manchego. Failing this, you can use Parmesan, but it would seem somehow disrespectful to our Spanish cousins to make that the default option!

Serve either direct from the pan or in a thick earthenware bowl.  Try to make sure each pepper is eaten with some of the cheese – the salty sweet combination is sublime!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

P.S. – I was given a most beautiful Mauviel copper sauté-pan for my birthday yesterday by NJ. Padron Peppers were its true baptism of fire! Nothing cooks like copper. I love it; so expect to see a lot more of it on this blog!

Keto-Cocktails – Gin is ‘in’!

gin

Alcohol is never great for a diet, but let’s face it; we’re all human! As long as a degree of moderation is applied, a little bit of what you fancy won’t go too far astray! When first starting a diet, it’s best to avoid alcohol for two weeks; but after that, it can start making the odd guest appearance of an evening. I’ve lost 11 pounds in 5 weeks, drinking alcohol from week 3. The proof is therefore in the pudding!

I must admit to being partial to a good stiff tipple. The carb-count of beer and wine is prohibitive for weight-loss; but thankfully one of my firm favourites is well and truly on the cards – the majestic & dependable gin & tonic.

This has been a stalwart of English life for the past 300 years. Also known as “mother’s ruin”; I can think of few things I’d rather be ruined by than this. Sadly, so many people get it wrong, and produce something which is wholly disappointing and indifferent at best. Like everything in life, gin must be done properly. There’s no excuse for failure.

Crisp, clean and refreshing is what you’re aiming for. The glass must be long, with lots of ice and a good squeeze of lime. Nothing else will do. I’m not snobby about which gin you use. Yes, some are better than others; but how you make it is by far the most important factor.

The bottle states 0g of carbohydrate; the Atkins website states 0.1g net carbs per 100ml. Either way it’s no great shakes! A couple of these whilst preparing dinner, adds verve and pizzaz to the cooking experience. So try it my way, and get back to me with the results!

Take a tall glass. Yes, tall. Half fill with ice, then run a lime wedge liberally around the rim of the glass. Pour in your gin, then squeeze the lime wedge over the gin and swirl the glass. Fill to the brim with fresh, fizzy Indian tonic-water (diet), then take a good long sip whilst the bubbles are still effervescent enough to tickle your nose.

Heaven in a glass!

Thanks for reading and bottoms up!

Adam.

P.S. – one gin and tonic; two gins and tonic. Getting this wrong in polite English society will mean you’re never invited back!

Zero-Carb Crackers! Truly a food revelation. The joy of the cheeseboard is back! Try them as a starter with dip, pâté or salads. The choice is all yours!

crackers

One of the added bonuses of a ketogenic, low-carb diet; is that it forces one out of one’s comfort-zone to try something new.

I’ve always been quite traditional in the kitchen, so I was really not sure how I’d feel about these zero-carb crackers. Firstly, they’re cooked in the microwave, which the food-snob in me abhors! Secondly, the ingredients-list hardly sounds appealing… Flax-seed, water and dried-herbs (yes, I know).

I took the basis for this recipe from the New Atkins UK website. I almost couldn’t bring myself to try it; but the cook in me was intrigued…the recipe sounded such a strange thing. But guess what? I tried them and they’re brilliant! 

Whilst cheese has always been on the ketogenic-menu; the cheese-board rather lacked something with a bit of bite. Sure; you can have celery; but it’s no real replacement for crackers. But now you don’t need one!

I really urge you to give these a go. If I can do them, then anyone can! They’e perfect for diabetics too, as they have no impact on blood-sugar. Everyone can always use a bit more fibre in their diet, and what could be a better source of fibre than flaxseed?! So go ahead and try them. Make sure to get back to me to let me know how you got on…

Take four tablespoons of flaxseed and a good pinch of salt. Sprinkle in some dried herbs; I used sage because of its warmth of flavour, but thyme would also be lovely. Grind in a generous whack of black-pepper, then slowly mix in cold water until the ingredients come together to form a cohesive paste. This will probably be about 60ml.

Leave for five minutes to bind, then spread flat onto non-stick baking-paper with the back of a spoon. Neaten the edges, then microwave full power for circa 2.5 minutes, until the crackers are solid and crisp-feeling to the touch. Sprinkle with a final pinch of salt and serve alongside your cheese.

For variation, try adding a pinch of dried-ginger or cumin. The above quantities should make 6 generous crackers, depending on size.

You’d never know these were low-carb! They also work brilliantly as an accompaniment to starters (picture pâté, mackerel or a selection of dips). Because of this, I’ve included this recipe in the ‘starters’ section, as well as ‘puddings’ for the cheese-board.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Fiery Witches’ Cauldrons… Serve up a creepy low-carb scare this Halloween!

cauldrons real

A bit of fun for Halloween night! If you’re having friends over for a drink, then this is the perfect way to serve up a few demonic dips and creepy crudités…

Hollow out cooked beetroot with a melon-baller. Remember; if you’re on a ketogenic-diet then the beetroot is just for decoration. Beetroot is fairly heavy on the carbs, so is best consumed with restraint.

Fill the hollowed-out cauldrons with a selection of your favourite dips. I’ve chosen Middle-Eastern Baba Ganoush, topped with pesto, it’s very low in carbohydrate and won’t impact your blood-sugar. Recipe follows below…

Arrange the beetroot-cauldrons on a bed of sprouting-broccoli and frankfurter sausages, placing upright chantenay carrots at internals to serve as ‘flames’. The carrots too are only for decoration if you’re in the weight-loss phase of a diet. Diabetics, or those with a higher carbohydrate-allowance can dig in with gusto!

Devilishly delicious and incredibly easy. The perfect start to an evening of terrible treats!

To make the baba ganoush, prick circa 3 aubergines with a fork and grill, until the skin is charred and the flesh beneath feels soft to the touch. As a guide, this takes around 20 minutes. Make sure to turn them periodically, so that they don’t over-cook on any one side.

Blitz x2 large cloves of garlic in a food-processor, then add the juice of one lemon, a teaspoon of tahini, olive oil, ground cumin and a generous whack of flat-leafed parsley. When this is smooth add your aubergine.

Slice the aubergines down the middle and scoop out the flesh into the food-processor. Pulse the mix, until you reach your desired texture. I like it nice and smooth, but you may prefer a chunkier texture. If so, just pulse it a little less.

A brilliant accompaniment to dip is celery-sticks, smoked sausages, crisp lettuce-leaves, radishes, purple-sprouting broccoli or even raw cauliflower.

This also works as a starter, serving one cauldron per person.

Thanks for reading, happy Halloween and bon ap!

Adam.

Classic Caesar Dressing – the perfect accompaniment to low-carb salads. Chicken, ham, prawns… The choice is endless. LCHF & diabetic-friendly.

caesar 2

You know you have good friends when they invite you to a LCHF, diabetic-friendly meal!

Last night, we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. The food she cooked was sublime! Prawns marinated in ginger, garlic, chilli & dill, atop a classic Caesar salad-style base. Thrown into the mix was griddled pancetta, tomatoes, olives & parmesan. I couldn’t have done better myself!

Caesar dressing is a low-carb staple! Not only does it taste wonderful; it’s also truly versatile. You can use it on pretty much any salad, be it meat, cheese, fish or fowl.

I’ve always been a bit of a purist with food. When I say that, I don’t mean that I stick blindly to the classics; I refer principally to the quality of ingredients used and the attention to detail of their preparation. A Caesar salad dressing therefore doesn’t belong solely with cos lettuce, and croutons. Try it with soft autumn ‘buttery’ leaved salads and stir it into steamed peas or broccoli. The results won’t disappoint.

There’s no impact to blood-sugar and it’s incredibly easy to make. I tend to make a ‘batch’, which lives in the fridge for up to a week. Experience shows however, that it never lasts that long. We eat it within three days every time!

In a small food processor, whizz up a couple of anchovies and half a clove of garlic. The flavour of the garlic intensifies over time, so if you’re not going to eat all the dressing straight away, it’s best to err on the side of restraint. Add to this a small squeeze of lemon juice, a small handful of grated parmesan cheese, half a cup of good olive oil and half a cup of double cream. You can also add an egg yolk if you like, but bear in mind that raw egg will shorten the shelf-life. Give these a good blitz in the processor until smooth and emulsified, then taste to adjust the seasoning if required.

Voila! Incredibly simple and sublimely delicious.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

King Prawn, Courgette & Mascapone Roulade – an elegantly simple masterpiece! Low-carb and perfect for diabetics. Keto-heaven!

prawn roulade

This is one of those dishes I often reserve for dinner-parties. It looks so amazingly impressive and professional, but in actual fact it couldn’t be easier to do. If you’re not a fan of prawns, these can be substituted with salmon, crab, shredded smoked-ham or chicken.

Start by lining a baking-tray with tinfoil. Grease this with a layer of oil to stop the roulade from sticking. Next grate your courgettes on the fine side of the grater. How much? Sufficient to cover the base of your baking-tray to circa 1/2 cm in depth.

Beat your eggs in a mixing bowl, adding a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. You should judge the egg by eye, to a rough ratio of 1 part egg, 3 parts courgette. I used 3 large courgettes and 3 eggs. Pour onto the grated vegetables and then swirl the mix with your fingers, to ensure that everything is evenly coated. It shouldn’t be too ‘pondy’; rather a texture that’s more than damp, less than soaked; picture gravel in the rain!!

Bake on the bottom of the oven for circa 20 minutes, until set and spongy to the touch, but not too brown. Then after a couple of minutes, turn it over onto a large sheet of baking-paper, browned side down.

Whilst this is cooling, season your mascapone and ‘marble’ the mix with a little basil pesto. Once the roulade has cooled, spread the mix evening over the upturned surface and scatter on your prawns. Season and sprinkle with chopped basil.

prawn roulade 2

Using the paper like a large sushi-mat, roll the roulade towards you, starting at the top like a big swiss-roll. When it has completely rolled onto itself, pat down slightly so that it forms a flat base. Lift off the paper with a palette-knife and transfer to your serving-dish.

Serve the roulade with salad leaves in a tangy dressing, such as vinaigrette or fresh lime and sesame oil. Sublime!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.