Category Archives: Recipes

Catch-up, and some food pictures

I haven’t updated this blog for a while as I’ve been busy working on the social media stuff for my powerlifting gym, Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club. The club is currently moving from being council-run to a social enterprise and I offered to put up a website; the end result is here and I’m quite excited about the content we’re going to put up. It’s already sucking away a lot of my free time, though (and I don’t have loads to start with!) but it’s a labour of love – the gym has a really rich history and it deserves to be documented. Plus we need more bodies through the door to keep going, so all publicity is good!

This week I started my competition prep for the British on 20th September. I’m also supposed to be trying to lose weight, but that’s gone as well as you’d expect. In fact I’ve gained a kilo. Oh well.

Still, I’ve eaten some really excellent things this week, and it’s been a while since I did a recipe post, so…

Pork tenderloin in rosemary

My boyfriend picked up a reduced pork loin for 99p a while ago, and it’s been in the freezer while we decided what to do with it. In the end he settled on this recipe with a few adjustments to cooking time (we tend to like our meat much rarer than many American recipes suggest!).

Pork loin, roast potatoes, courgettes

Pork loin, roast potatoes, courgettes

We used our trusty meat thermometer & cooked the loin until it was 61°C inside; the end result was a bit more well-cooked than we intended but it was still tasty!

We served it with courgettes and roast new potatoes. I know white potatoes fall into the WHITE DEATH oh noes! category but we eat a load of them in this house. Incidentally, I was curiously looking up why white potatoes fall into the white death category while sweet potatoes/other tubers do not, and found a lot of stuff about glycoalkaloids, which I totally understand. What I don’t understand is that if potatoes developed glycoalkaloids to protect themselves from being dug up & eaten, why didn’t sweet potatoes/yams?

See, this is the sort of thing that really annoys me about paleo/primal eating principles – they use popular science / evopsych assertions on why we should or should not eat things, then fail to apply them consistently. See also why we apparently haven’t evolved to eat dairy but have apparently evolved (white Western people, anyhow) to eat coconuts. By all means use popsci / evopsych to justify what you eat but you have to be consistent, people.

Or maybe I’m just too skeptical for all this stuff.

Anyway, moving on…

Tasty salads from my work canteen

Back when I worked for the Daily Telegraph, we had a caterer called Artizian, and frankly the food wasn’t great. So when Artizian won the contract to cater at my current workplace, I was a bit skeptical (me? skeptical?)

BUT… I have been pleasantly surprised so far. I realise that eating pre-prepared salads where I don’t know how many net carbs/proteins/calories etc are in each dish is (once again) frowned upon in fitness circles, but I seriously couldn’t make salads this good at home.

Crayfish & lentil salad

Crayfish & lentil salad

This one was so good I ate it two days in a row. Crayfish, 2 types of lentils, green beans & tomatoes with a lemon vinaigrette dressing. OK so the dressing was probably made with vegetable oil, but this is me not giving a fuck.

Chicken, quinoa & pomegranate salad

Chicken, quinoa & pomegranate salad

Normally I don’t eat quinoa for various ethical reasons (that I don’t expect anyone else to adhere to) but I really enjoyed this. I did have to add quite a bit of salt, though.

Current favourite breakfast

Greek yogurt, protein powder, raspberries, almond butter

Greek yogurt, protein powder, raspberries, almond butter

I’ve quite often seen nut butter just blobbed onto other peoples’ dishes and thought it looked like a bizarre thing to do, but having finally tried it this week I’m a convert. My current favourite breakfast is 4 tbsp of Greek-style yogurt, 1 scoop of MyProtein natural vanilla whey, 2 tsp of almond butter and whatever fruit I have at home (raspberries are currently in season). I love it! Until the next time I get bored, anyhow.

Training this week

Just a brief round-up:

Tuesday: Pilates. I went to the after-work class, and it’s a good thing I did because I missed my usual Thursday lunchtime class thanks to a meeting. Stupid meetings.

Thursday: bench at BGWLC. I worked up to 5 x 5 narrow bench press @ 40kg, which was tough but good. Followed by tons of accessory & grip work.

Friday: conditioning.

Saturday: squats at BGWLC. I did exactly the same squats as I did on Monday – 6 @ 55kg, 6 @ 65kg, 6 @ 75kg. Then 5 x 5 dumbbell bench with 15kg dumbbells; RDLs; narrow push-ups; other accessory stuff.

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Recipe – easy pilau rice

I am both coming down with a cold and not managing to work out much at the moment. On Monday I swapped lifting for a really excellent workshop on public speaking; and today I missed yoga for a lunchtime talk on feature flagging. I feel bummed that I haven’t been to the gym, but on the other hand the geek stuff was necessary (and interesting).

I really do not want/need to get a cold at the moment, so I’m going to pick up some drugs on the way home tonight. Fingers crossed I don’t get properly sick!

This recipe isn’t really much of a recipe at all, it’s just a way of cooking rice that makes it extra delicious. I make it when we’re having curry at home – we’ve recently been using Vini & Bal’s excellent sauces & they’re excellent (for lazy people like us!)

Easy (probably not very authentic) pilau rice

White basmati rice, rinsed well in water (see recipe for quantity)
1 tbsp butter or ghee (you can use coconut oil, but olive oil/animal fat won’t work here as they impart too strong a flavour)
3 cloves
1 bay leaf (dried is fine)
1 little-finger sized piece of cinnamon bark
1 green cardamom pod, bruised
1 tsp turmeric (optional – this will turn the rice “curry house yellow”, but the recipe works fine without it)

Put the butter/ghee into a saucepan & melt over a medium-high heat. When it’s foaming, add the spices and fry for a few seconds. Then add the rice.

How much rice you use depends on how many you’re cooking for, but take note of the quantity – you want twice as much water to rice. So, for example, I use half a mugful of rice, so I know that when I add the water, I want a whole mugful of water.

Fry the rice & spices for a minute or two, until all the rice is coated in butter and the spices are fragrant. Then add your water, stir once, and allow to come to a boil. Once it’s boiling, put the lid on the saucepan & turn the heat down low.

Leave the rice cooking, covered, for 15 minutes. After this time, take the lid off the pan and use a metal spoon or fork to “part” the rice & see how much liquid is left. If there’s still bubbles of water, put the lid back on & leave it for another new minutes. Keep checking the rice – but don’t stir it! – until the bottom of the pan looks almost dry (but the rice isn’t starting to burn!) When 99% of the water is gone, take the pan off the heat & fluff the rice up with a fork.

Eat! (But remember to take the spices out first!)

Recipe – Jambalaya

My boyfriend, Matt, is a great cook and Jambalaya is the first thing he cooked for me. In the 2.5 years we’ve been together he’s made it for me loads of times; and now we live together it’s become a regular comfort-food staple.

This recipe is, as far as I can tell, gluten-free (using a gf chorizo). I guess it could also be made primal with a low-nitrite chorizo; the rice could also be substituted for quinoa if rice is not your thing.

[NB. I’m pretty rubbish at knowing if things are paleo/primal!]

Jambalaya

Serves 2

Chicken (about 1 breast or 2-3 thighs per person) cut into chunks.
1 Chorizo (cheaper/fattier is better, more expensive ones don’t have enough fat in
them) cut into slices.
1 courgette, sliced
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
Handful of fresh or pickled jalapeños, sliced (to taste!)
Chipotle Crush seasoning (from Chilli Pepper Pete) or a similar chipotle seasoning
1 jar of decent Passata.
1 mug of rice (Basmati works well)

Heat up a big frying pan and throw in the Chorizo chunks. These should start to render down and you’ll get a nice orange oil in the pan – keep the chunks moving or they’ll burn. Then add the chicken and lightly seal it in the orange oil.

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When it’s all sealed, throw in the rest of the veggies to soak up the last of the oil. Give it a couple of minutes and then turn the heat down and pour in the passata. You might want to add a tiny amount of water too (to rinse the last of the passata from the jar). Then add some of the Chipotle Crush seasoning to taste (a teaspoon full should be plenty for most people).

Let that simmer down gently for a few minutes, then add the rice. Let it sit on the surface rather than mixing it in straight away. Allow it soak up as much of the liquid as it can, before finally mixing it all together after around 10 minutes. Then, it’s a matter of simmering the jambalaya on a low heat, testing the rice every so often and checking that it doesn’t all sink to the bottom and burn onto the pan.

You may need to add another bit of water to the pan if the rice isn’t cooked but the liquid in the pan had been absorbed totally, as you don’t want it to dry out.

Cooking should take 45 minutes – 1 hour, from start to finish. The longer it takes, the more flavour the rice & chicken will absorb.

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Serves 2 hungry people (with scope for leftovers!)

Recipe – sausage & bacon toad-in-the-hole

Toad in the hole. If you’re not British you may be wondering what the hell this is! Basically it’s sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter (I believe Yorkshire puddings are similar to “popovers” in the USA?)

This recipe is based on one from The English Kitchen, and I’ve pretty much left it unchanged except for a couple of tweaks. I’ve made it twice now (and used the batter mix on its own to make Yorkies for a roast dinner) and it’s not failed me yet!

toadinthehole

175g plain flour
1 tsp English mustard powder
2 large eggs
150ml each of milk and water
8 pork sausages
8 rashers of streaky bacon
1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges

First, make the batter mix about 30 minutes before you want to start cooking. Sift the flour into a bowl & add the mustard powder. Add the eggs, milk & water, and whisk until you get a smooth batter. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Set aside for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C fan / 220°C conventional. Heat up some fat (I used goose fat, but you can use butter or oil) in a large roasting pan. Wrap each sausage in a rasher of bacon. When the fat is hot, add the sausages+bacon to the roasting pan and place the onion wedges around them. Try not to take too long doing this – you want the fat to stay hot! Pour in the batter mix and put the pan back in the oven right away.

Leave the pudding in the oven for at least 30 minutes without opening the door (else the pudding might collapse). I find it takes more like 40 minutes. It’s ready when it’s risen, with a crisp crust around the edges & golden in the middle. If you find the middle doesn’t cook properly before the edges burn, you may need to use a larger/shallower pan (or, you can just eat it soft & a little undercooked in the middle – I like it that way!)

Serve with green vegetables, e.g. spring greens or sprout tops, and onion gravy. There’s no need for mash/potatoes with this, as it’s quite carby/stodgy as-is!

Serves 4. Or 2, if you’re me & my boyfriend!

Recipe: ultra slow-cooked beef

One of the things my boyfriend & I really looked forward to when we moved in together was doing lots & lots of cooking. We’re both foodies, and used to eat in restaurants a lot, but since we bought a house together we’ve done less of that due to less time (the house requires a lot of DIY!) and money.

When doing the kitchen, we decided to get a range-style double oven, which has proved invaluable for our regular Sunday cooking sessions. Yesterday, for the second time, we made slow-cooked roast beef, inspired by this recipe from Hawksmoor.

The first time we made this, we used a posh “Taste the Difference” beef roasting joint from Sainsburys. This time, we used one of their cheaper ones (the kind that comes shrink-wrapped). Both turned out well, so for budget reasons I reckon it’s better to get the cheaper beef – either way, get a lean joint without any added fat. This cooking style means you end up with tender beef no matter what quality the beef is.

Pre-heat the oven to 80°C (or the lowest setting you can get it!). We have a both a conventional & fan oven in our range cooker, and we use the conventional oven for this. Quickly sear the beef in a frying pan, then place the joint on a trivet (we use roughly-chopped carrots) in the roasting pan. Cook for 4 hours.

The only tricky bit for this recipe is getting the temperature right. You will need a meat thermometer, which you can get at any supermarket or cookware store (ours was from Sainsburys). Start testing the temperature of the beef after 3.5 hours. The first time we cooked this, we cooked the joint until it was 60°C inside, and the result was medium (probably a bit overcooked for our liking). Yesterday we cooked it until it was 51°C inside, and the result was very rare. At first I thought it would be too rare for me, but it was absolutely delicious & tender.

Here’s how it looked fresh out of the oven:

Not amazingly inspiring, I know! But once it was all gussied up with gravy, spring greens & roast potatoes:

Really delicious, and so so tender for a cheap cut of beef.

We served ours with roast potatoes, which we could do because of the double oven. If you have a single oven, I’d recommend serving it with mash instead.

Happy roasting!