As previously mentioned we’re doing a bit of a carb-free push. It got to the point where sadly, I could no longer pretend that I was carrying Caesarean scar tissue and baby weight (16 months on) alone, and that I was fine with it. So we picked up the Idiot-Proof Diet book again, put ourselves through no-alcohol hell for two weeks and we are slowly losing poundage. Well, I say we. MCD is has lost about 10lbs so far. Every week when I stand on the scales it starts at 0, climbs to 1 or 2 lbs under the weight I started (I’m not telling you) and then wobbles; when I descend the needle is no longer at 0. I think I have lost weight: I have a waist and my jeans are very loose; the scales are against me.
Anyway, it means I’ve been scouring my books for food that is both carb-free and non-diet-y. So far the runaway success has been the onion bhaji recipe in the IPD recipe book which I reproduce here, if only to point out that not only are they still good the next day, but if you lost the spices and the onions and substituted vanilla extract, perhaps cinnamon and blueberries or raspberries, they’d make fantastic pancakes too.
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 200g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 fresh green chillies, chopped and seeded
- 4 eggs, separated
- 100ml double cream
- 3 onions, finely sliced into half moons
- Groundnut oil for frying
1. Roast the cumin seeds in a dry hot pan until they darken and start to smell fragrant. Remove from the heat and cool.
2. Mix together the ground almonds, cumin, turmeric, salt, baking powder and chillies, then beat in the egg yolks and cream. The mixture will be quite stiff but never fear.
3. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then fold in, a third at a time, into the batter with a metal spoon.
4. Gently fold in the onion slices a few at a time until incorporated.
5. Heat about 0.5cm oil in a large pan and, using a dessert spoon, fry spoonfuls of batter on both sides until crisp and golden.
6. Serve sprinkled with mint and dipped in yoghurt.
Another hit (sort of) was the Highland mussels out of Jamie’s Great Britain. I was really taken with the sound of this recipe – a base of leeks, garlic and smoked haddock and double cream, then throw in 6 shots of whisky and 2kg of mussels and simmer until the mussels open. I thought it sounded smoky and peaty and delicious. We made it and although MCD thought it was fabulous, I was a bit more ‘meh’. Grumbles: there was too much whisky – I would have halved the amount. I’m not sure I like mussels in a cream sauce; my marinière is always cream-less. The smoked haddock was yum but it was overpowered by the whisky. It was all a little sickly.
[Interlude: And while I’m on the Jamie topic, another moan: the serving amounts in this book are way out. Allegedly the above mussels recipe serve 6. We finished it between two of us. I also made the Worcestershire beef brisket sandwiches (I only ate the middle out of the bread… so sad, so very sad) for Sunday lunch the other day. Apparently 1kg of beef brisket will serve 10. My ass. It fed 5-6 and there was enough left over perhaps for 1 very generous sandwich. However, if you should care to restrict your friends, do make it. It is fantastic. If you want the recipe, let me know and I shall publish it up here.]
On the other hand, there’s MCD Jr who is going through his own classic toddler phase of famine and feast. Last night I made him a macaroni cheese with fish and peas. It went down like a train. Here’s the recipe – it makes enough for 3-4 generous portions. It’s good for adults too.
Cook 2 generous handfuls of baby pasta in a pan, adding 2 handfuls of peas 5 minutes from the end of cooking. When all is tender, drain. Meanwhile, heat a good 100ml of full-cream milk and a good splash or two of double cream in a pan and poach the fish fillets (I used pollock) for a few minutes until they flake apart.
Flake the fish into an oven-proof dish, then add as much grated Cheddar as you like into the poaching liquor. Stir until melted. Add the pasta and peas, coating them in the sauce, adding more cream if necessary. Tip into the dish and toss gently, then top with more grated cheese. Grill until bubbling.
This is him licking out the bowl after MCD made carb-free chocolate mousse. I do have my standards, so it was 70% cocoa…