Thursday, 7 March 2019

Recipe corner: Saag paneer (spinach and paneer curry)

Of all the British Indian Restaurant curries, saag paneer is one of my all time favourites and I think that I’ve finally come up with a home version that is good as any I’ve eaten out. I’d be the first person to say that I am not versed in authentic Indian home cooking. My recipe, detailed below, is a mash up of several others that I have collected like a spice loving magpie. In fusing these dishes together, I’ve probably created something as inauthentic as you like but, my view with cooking is that the most important question is always: “Does it taste good?” as opposed to: “Is this how my grandmother’s grandmother made it?”

NB: Since both of my grandmothers’ grandmothers were probably Irish peasants, I can’t imagine that they were concerned with much more than boiling up enough potatoes to keep their families fuelled.

Right - let’s talk the recipe. It may seem like something of a faff to cook, and spice, spinach and paneer separately and, if so, make the spinach as written and then just bung the cubed paneer cheese in at the end and stir well. You don’t even need to fry the cheese really, I just like the little additional texture that it gives.

Also, as with all curries, this one will benefit from sitting around in the fridge for a couple of days while all the flavours get to know each other. What I would suggest is, making the spinach in advance then spicing and frying the paneer fairly last minute to really maximise that lovely textural contrast mentioned above.

Some more top notch food photography for you...

Ingredients

For the spinach:

2 tsp rapeseed oil
Tsp dried fenugreek seeds
Medium onion, finely chopped

Generous tbsp of tomato purée, mixed with 120ml boiling water

2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Fresh ginger (equivalent weight to the garlic cloves), grated
0.5 tsp chilli powder
Heaped tsp cumin
Heaped tsp ground coriander
0.5 tsp turmeric
Heaped tsp garam masala
Generous pinch of salt

450g frozen spinach

For the paneer:

120g paneer cheese, cut into small cubes
Tsp rapeseed oil
0.5 tsp each of: ground coriander, cumin and paprika
0.25 tsp turmeric
Generous pinch of salt

Serves 2

Start with the spinach. Heat the oil, gently, in a large pan and add the fenugreek seeds. As they start to brown off and smell a little toasty, add the onions and fry until they are softened but not brown.

Next, in goes the diluted tomato purée and the rest of the spices. Mix well. Keep the heat nice and low and simmer everything together for about 5 minutes.

At this point you can add the spinach. Again, mix well and stir gently to allow it to melt and combine with the ingredients. Turn the heat down low, low, low, cover the pan and cook for 15-20 mins. You will need to check and stir frequently. If it is drying out, add a splash of water.

Place the paneer cubes into a large bowl, drizzle over the oil and sprinkle over the spices. Toss to combine.

To finish the curry: heat a dry frying pan over a gentle flame, add the cubes of paneer and cook, regularly shaking and turning, until start to go crisp and golden on all sides. Stir through the spinach before serving. The whole thing can be done in advance, paneer and all, but for maximum flavour and texture, make the spinach slightly in advance and stir the paneer through at the last minute.

Monday, 4 March 2019

MPM: 4th March 2019

In a vain attempt to recapture my blogging mojo I thought that I would do a meal planning post.  Meal planning has still continued chez nous over the last few months - some weeks have been more successful than others.  Some weeks I have been half woman, half Giant Hula Hoop.  What kind of monster invented the Giant Hula Hoop, by the way?  I'm obsessed with the bloody things and I've managed to make D obsessed with them as well.

Anyway.  Meal planning.  We have no plans this week - we're off on holiday at the end of March and are making vague attempts to be slightly frugal until then - so hopefully nothing should throw us off track.  Apart from Giant Hula Hoops.

Monday: soup.  A hangover from our 5:2 days, we've got into the habit of having a pot of soup on a Monday night.  It's quick, easy and a light start to the week.  I should really make my own but the whole point of soup night is the lack of cooking. 

Tuesday: Pancake Day!  We like our pancakes piled up in a stack, like the American style ones, and then served with crispy bacon, chilli flakes and lots of maple syrup.  Although lemon juice and sugar is always good too...

Wednesday: a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's "Simple" - fettucine with spiced cherry tomato sauce.

Thursday: mushroom risotto.  Keeps getting bumped, but I'm determined that it will get made this week.  If we've got any bacon leftover from Tuesday, I might bung some in for a bit of extra excitement.

Friday: smoked haddock rarebit with mashed potato.  I saw a contestant make this in the first round of Masterchef the other week and was immediately determined that I was going to do it too. 

Saturday: homemade pizza.  We haven't done this for ages, so it's about time.  D is planning to go entirely off piste, muttering about Merguez sausages, hummus, feta and pomegranate.  So I will keep mine super simple.  Maybe just a scant scattering of capers and chopped anchovies.

Sunday:  something with roast lamb.  Elaborateness levels to be determined by levels of energy and enthusiasm come Sunday.

Have a happy week all!

Monday, 25 February 2019

What's up, doc?

It’s somewhat customary, when one has been absent a long time from one’s corner of T’Internet, to apologise and offer an explanation.  So, lovely readers, the primary reason that I have not been posting recently is because it is hard to work up any enthusiasm for writing about food when you seem to spend half your life dealing with it at the other end.  I am sorry to be coarse, unladylike and to be offering what is undoubtedly I of the TM sort.  But there you have it. 

Finally, at the end of last week the problem was diagnosed as Bile Acid Malabsorption (BAM) or, as it is sometimes called, Bile Acid Diarrhoea (BAD), almost certainly caused by the removal of my gallbladder around eighteen months ago (I wrote a post about my experience with that so will link the two together in case it should prove useful to anyone).

I won’t pretend to understand the ins and outs of it, but basically BAM means that your guts are not absorbing as much bile acid as they should be so you end up with bile swilling around that your body tries to flush out by releasing more water – the result being that you end up with pretty much permanent tummy trouble.  A normal reasbsorption rate is about 20%.  Anything under 15% and you get your BAM diagnosis.  Anything under 5% is considered severe.  My rate was 1.8% so –well.  Winning. 

I have now started taking medication which should mean that the problem is sorted out and very shortly I will be looking back and laughing at all this.  Because, believe me.  I am not labouring under any sort of delusion that this is a Big Problem in the grand scheme of things.  I am perfectly well aware that there are many people out there who are dealing with far worse and I am a little ashamed that even at my ripe old age I have not got any better at pulling on Big Girl Pants and being stoic in the face of such annoyances. 

Monday, 21 January 2019

MPM: 21st January 2019

Ugh, I am so over 2019. I have spent much of the last few weeks feeling under the weather. Not ill enough to indulge myself like a proper invalid, just a bit bleurgh. I’m well into my second week of the cold that just won’t quit, I had to get emergency dental treatment last week to prevent me from having to go out in public resembling an extra from Deliverance and my stomach continues to object to anything I care to ingest. Harrumph.

Still, I’m sure it’s not all doom and gloom. Oh, I know. We finally, FINALLY cracked and bought ourselves a dishwasher which got plumbed in this weekend. Our kitchen, which is ridiculously wee compared to the size of our dining room because of piss poor planning by whoever designed the house, does not really have room for a dishwasher. But the unremitting washing up was just dragging us down so we moved our gorgeous 1950s style fridge into the dining room, convinced ourselves that it was a design feature, and moved the dishwasher into newly created space. Deep, deep joy. The eventual plan is to knock through and create one big kitchen-diner which would be a much better use of the overall space. But until such time as we win the lottery (oooh, or perhaps someone reads this blog and offers me a Changing Rooms style makeover in return for a good write up! Get in touch!) this will have to do.

Of course, this means that I am currently desperate to cook things that require multiple pans and bowls just for the pleasure of bunging them in the dishwasher and NOT washing them up. Regardez:

Monday: soup

Tuesday: mushroom stroganoff with rice

Wednesday: prawns with sweet potato and coriander mash and chilli sauce

Thursday: gnocchi baked with courgette, garlic and chilli

Friday: haggis with neeps and tatties (happy Burns Night to my Scottish friends!)

Saturday: Szeuchan style braised pork belly

Sunday: salmon with curried mussels

Have a lovely week all!

Friday, 11 January 2019

Recipe corner: Sticky Toffee Parkin


A disadvantage of being born in the period between Christmas and the New Year is that a lot of nice restaurants are shut. I mean, it’s not a disadvantage for the people who work in them who are, I’m sure, very pleased to be able to spend time with their loved ones. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to push down the misery of growing older with copious quantities of delicious food and wine, then it can be a problem. So often, I ask poor old D to cook for me. Next year (which ends in a 9 which means it is not a big birthday but it is very nearly a big birthday and thus I am likely to be quite depressed) I’m just going to get takeaway pizza and a Colin the Caterpillar cake, I promise. But this year he delivered quite the triumph with his “Chicken Caesar Salad 2018”, pan fried seabass with lobster butter and, best of all, sticky toffee parkin.

This latter dessert is a reminder of all that is good and true in the world, even in these days of Brexit and Trump. It has all the spice of the traditional Yorkshire Parkin (my recipe for that is here) but slightly lighter of texture and, of course, DRENCHED in golden toffee sauce. You could have a bit of cream or ice cream alongside but, to be honest, you don’t need to do so. It is perfect as it is.

It should be noted that my husband cooks very big puddings indeed. The quantities that he provides as serving 3 could easily be stretched to 6 (in my humble opinion) if being made for people with normal appetites who are coming to the end of a substantial meal. Obviously, because it was my birthday I just engaged my Pudding Stomach and ate an entire one as described. But on your birthday it is OK to be greedy.

Right. Per the man himself:

Ingredients

75g self raising flour
40g oatflakes
5g ground ginger
1g ground nutmeg
1g mixed spice
3g baking powder
85g soft dark brown sugar


1 medium egg
28g butter

5g bicarbonate of soda
85g chopped dates
143g boiling water

Serves 3-6 depending on levels of greed

Oven at 180C.

Butter 3 metal rings - diameter 7cm and height 6cm, wrap tin foil round bottom quite tightly, the mixture is quite wet and will seep out otherwise. Butter the bottom of this too.

Put all the dry ingredients in your Kitchen Aid, using a K-whisk attachment, whisk ingredients until incorporated.

Add egg, and whisk until incorporated.

Add butter, in centimetre cubes and whisk until incorporated.

Add the boiling water to the dates. Add the bicarb. Mash the date mixture.

Add to the other ingredients and whisk until incorporated.

Pour into the rings, until about 1cm below the top.

Put in oven for about 25 minutes. Don't worry if the tops catch slightly as you will be cutting the tops off so they are flat.

Once they are done i.e. you can skewer them cleanly, leave to cool.

Make the sauce.

Ingredients

60g salted butter.
60g soft dark brown sugar.
50g double cream.

Put ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Stir. Done.

Remove tops off the puddings (the puddings will rise about a centimetre or more above the height of the rings, which will make it easy to cut the tops off.)

Remove them from rings, using a knife round the sides.

NB: You could, at this point, divide each cylinder into two portions by cutting horizontally through the middle.

Put in a bowl.

Pour over the caramel sauce.

Eat.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

New year, new you?

What is it about January 1st that makes us all think we will suddenly ditch our every bad habit and arise from the ashes of our previous failures like a glorious, slender, beautiful, healthy, mindful, balanced pheonix?  I've lived through enough Januaries now to know that it NEVER happens and, also, that the darkest, wettest, coldest more miserable time of you is probably the period in which you are least likely to succeed in instituting lasting changes.

With regards to weight loss, I long ago tried to ditch the "I want to weigh xxx by yyy" because, well, that way certain madness lies.  And it most definitely has improved my general relationship with food such that I have managed to end the last two years lighter than when I began them, which is progress in the right direction. 

My experience trying WW Flex last year was a really positive one.  I lost weight and felt like I was eating really well.  But after a couple of months, the old itchiness started creeping back in.  I started resenting the constant measuring and tracking and starting yearning for all those things that just didn't fit naturally into the programme.

Previous to that, I managed to lose weight successfully, and keep it off, using intermittent fasting and here, too, I see many benefits.  You get all the unpleasantness out of the way across two days and the rest of the time you learn to practice moderation.  And you really do - no longer are you stuffing in a full size pizza because "diet starts tomorrow".  But the fast days were really, really hard - I'm horrible to be around when my blood sugar gets too low - and increasingly I was making excuses to skip one or both fasts a week.  Which means you're then just eating normally all the time - which is fine if you're maintaining but not if you have weight to lose.

It strikes me that by combining the two I might be on to a winner.  One fast day a week - not fun, sure, but doable.  To counter: one "day off" built into the week: a day to cook that roast pork belly recipe that won't fit in to your daily points, or get that takeaway or eat that doughnut.  Five days a week of counting.  Maybe four - if I can get away with a day and a half "off" (generally Friday evening and Saturday) and still lose a pound a week, I'd be perfectly happy.

So that's the long term plan.  But, for now, I'm using January to lay the groundwork.  I'm not back to pointing yet but I have instituted the one day a week fasting.  For the rest, I'm concentrating on getting back to eating in a regular, moderate way after the madness that is the latter half of December.  Snacks are out, midweek drinkies are definitely out (alcohol reserved for weekends only).  Plenty of vegetable based meals.  A proper routine at bedtime and in the morning to get my sleep sorted out.  More steps daily, even if it just means getting of the bus a stop early.  Little, healthy habits.  It's not dramatic or exciting but I think, from now, on I'm treating January as less of a fresh start and more of a gentle transition.

Monday, 7 January 2019

MPM: 7th January 2019

It’s 2019 mes amies! And how has it started off for you? I am not going to spend my first meal planning post of the year whingeing so I’m just going to say it is Sunday evening, my cat is on my knee and I had the most AMAZING steak ever last night. Reader, Google reverse searing. It will change your life.

This makes it clear that I’m not doing Veganuary. While I wholeheartedly applaud any of you who have risen to this particular challenge, I am just going to come out and admit that I love animal products far too much to ever give them up. We buy the best quality that we can possibly afford but even so, my refusal to give up eggs, cheese, steak, smoked salmon...(continue list ad infinitum) probably makes me selfish. I certainly intend this year to make renewed efforts to ensure that a high proportion of my meals, particularly during the day, are meat free.

Let’s look at meal planning then. I’m going to brunch with some work colleagues on Saturday (and, by brunch, I mean extended piss up) so I’m assuming I won’t need supper. D has a Ginger Pig pork chop in the freezer that he plans to devour. Elsewhere:

Monday: roasted spiced squash and red onions, couscous with olives, goats’ cheese. We have some beautiful Yellison leftover from Christmas that I am excited to use.

Tuesday: soup

Wednesday: more goats’ cheese, this time combined with some beautiful green veg and lemon to make a zingy risotto.

Thursday: we’re going to use some homemade Merguez sausages to do a spicy twist on a toad in the hole, with harissa onions.

Friday: monkfish with Romesco sauce.

Sunday: we’ve been bumping a Diana Henry miso chicken and sweet potato traybake for weeks now and, dammit, we’re doing it this week.

Happy cooking all!

Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 - the year in review

As with most years, 2018 was like the curate’s egg – good in places.  For the most part, it involved a lot of keeping on keeping on.  Work ramped up and became considerably more stressful in the latter few months for various reasons beyond my control – bad.  I struggled a bit with my continuing digestive issues which began to have an impact on my mental health – tedious beyond belief for all concerned.  But there were no big upsets, or dramas or traumas – good.  We had a couple of lovely trips away, including a few days in a little shepherd’s hut in York which I never got around to detailing on here – excellent.  Yet again, I have managed to end the year lighter than when I started it, mainly thanks to a successful re-acquaintance with WW back in the summer.  That may have trailed off a bit of late but I am keen to get stuck back into it now we are emerging from the month of December, when somehow it becomes normal to eat mince pies for breakfast.

Dishes of the year is a tough one to call.  We went back to Raby Hunt and loved it every bit as much the second time around but given that many of the dishes were almost exactly the same as the ones that we had eaten previously, I don’t feel quite right to hand over another coveted trophy to them. 

An early contender was most definitely the stunning duck dish that we had at Joro in Sheffield.  We liked it so much that we recreated it at home for our Easter Sunday lunch, and I am not convinced that our version wasn’t even better!

The duck at Joro

The duck chez nous

But, to be honest, the thing that still stands out for me is this little fellow.


Pizza, Jim, but not as we know it

This was the scallop sashimi, spring truffle and togarashi spice “pizza” that we ate in Skosh back in June.  As mentioned above, I never really got around to talking about our York trip in much detail but we were lucky enough to eat some wonderful food and this dish was just head, shoulders and upper chest above pretty much everything else we’ve eaten this year.  Put it this way: we liked it so much that we immediately ordered a second one.  It sounds weird, it sounds like everyone’s idea of badly done “fusion” but the combination of flavours, the delicately balanced marriage of the sea and the forest floor, was absolutely sublime.  Skosh changes the menu pretty regularly, so I doubt I’ll ever get to have it again.

Dessert of the year came in the closing moments, and it may sound ridiculous when we’ve eaten at some truly wonderful venues, including Il Ridotto in Venice where we were served the most glorious, challenging pudding combination of truffle, ginger and pumpkin which was as strange and wonderful as it sounds.  Yet nothing can compare to the dessert that D made me for my birthday this year – the sticky toffee parkin.  A mash-up of the traditional sticky toffee pudding and the Yorkshire parkin.  I have the recipe and I will be blogging it shortly.  If you like sweetness and spice then you will adore this, I promise.

Sticky toffee parkin


And an honourable mention to the Guinness cake that I ate during my first visit to the Rusty Shears.  The thought of this still makes me smile.

More icing than cake


At home, we’ve been dousing everything with sriracha and coriander and green chilli chutney – sometimes both at the same time.  My palate is becoming better and better at tolerating heat and I’m really beginning to learn how, like a pinch of salt or a drop of acidity, it can really bring cooking to life.  If I was going to commend one recipe to your attention this year it would be the chutney / sauce / salsa / whatever because it is such a good fridge staple.  I can think of few savoury dishes that would not be enhanced with a hefty splodge of this stuff.

As ever, I’d like to thank everyone who pops by and reads my little blog.  I still enjoy writing it after all these years, as a chronicle of adventures both at home in the kitchen and further afield.  And while it may not be a diet blog per se, it still stands as testament to the fact that I will never quite give up on trying to nudge the scales down to unremarkable levels. 

To all of you I wish a very happy New Year and here is to great things for all of us in 2019.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Post Christmas blue(berry scone)s

Seasons greetings to all! We are now in the period of the year where, if your household is anything like ours, you will be barely moving apart from the well trodden path between the sofa and the kitchen. Secretly, you will already be planning the health kick to end all health kicks on which you plan to embark at one minute past midnight on January 1st. And then you remember that you’ll have a fridge full of NYE leftovers at that point so best hold off until you return to work.

Today is my birthday. Most of the year, I dislike having a birthday so close to Christmas but, I must admit, there is something nice about having an event to look forward to post Boxing Day if only to punctuate the naps. I woke to the smell of blueberry scones in the oven - there are few better smells than home baking and, I might almost suggest that it beats the more commonly evoked scent of bacon frying into second place. But I digress. Behold these beauties which were sweet and buttery and perfect with a cup of tea. They were an almost exact replica of the old Starbucks berry scones that I used to adore back in the day and which the bastards saw fit to stop producing (in the U.K. at least).


Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Christmas dinner? Our duck legs were as delicious as ever (I don’t really understand why we only tend to cook them once a year). And D’s last minute brainwave of making shredded duck and black pudding bonbons, very lightly flavoured with Chinese five spice, was a genius addition.


We were due to spend Boxing Day eating a Christmas dinner proper with my parents. And, indeed, D managed it. But I took to bed mid afternoon with a stomach like a washing machine - a potent combo of my gnarly digestive system in uproar about the surfeit of rich food and drink that I had dared to subject it to, and that wonderful monthly visitor that makes it such a pleasure to be female. I am rather sad about this, although 24 hours of barely eating seems to have calmed things down slightly and my Mum did package up some turkey and sausage-meat for me to enjoy a traditional post-Christmas sandwich. Hopefully, it will be sorted out early in the New Year (the gnarly digestive system rather than the being female bit) at which point I might buy a turkey breast and offer to cook them a not-Christmas dinner in recompense.

That aside, it has been a lovely festive season and I have once again been reminded of how lucky and blessed I am. A blog is a funny thing - even one which is ostensibly about dieting and food will often come to be treated as a sort of confessional and that means the focus here might be skewed towards the less positive aspects of my life. This year, like all years, has brought its issues and struggles but also its gifts and it will be the memory of these latter that will endure.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Recipe corner: Mince pie brownies


Mince pies and a filthy imposter!
As I mentioned in my last post, my team at work had a mince pie bake off recently.  I toyed with a number of ideas, including a delicious sounding Mary Berry recipe for mincemeat topped with frangipane, but ultimately decided to veer off in an entirely different direction, a decision which may or may not have been slightly motivated by my fear of pastry.

I don't know what the issue is; when I've attempted pastry it has always worked perfectly well.  But, in my head, it is something that I Can't Do.  I used to feel the same about bread and I got over that, so perhaps 2019 should be the year that I take on pastry.  Although 2019 is also supposed to be the year that I finally lose a few stone and emerge from a chrysalis of podge like a beautiful, middle-aged butterfly.  The two things are not particularly compatible.

Anyway!  Mince pie brownies.  Good Food magazine have a recipe for this online wherein they recommend inserting actual mince pies.  I thought you'd get a better flavour if you stirred the mincemeat itself straight through.  And for a bit of crunch, I chopped up some shortbread biscuits (working on the basis that most people will have shortbread lurking around the house at Christmas) and bunged those in too.  Delightful.

The basic brownie recipe is based on my go-to which is from the Hummingbird Bakery book.  I have never been to the Hummingbird Bakery but I commend their brownie skills.  I've reduced the sugar for this batch, on the basis that the mincemeat will be pretty sweet and I don't want the whole lot to end up sickly.  Spoiler alert: they did not.

Additional spoiler alert: these did not win the bake off because they were not enough of a mince pie.  Pah.  I think they're rather delicious anyway.

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
175g unsalted butter, chopped

210g caster sugar

110g plain flour
15g cocoa
Tsp ground cinnamon

3 eggs

Half a jar of mincemeat
4 shortbread finger biscuits, roughly chopped

Makes around 16 - 20 brownies

It might take a few bowls here, but I’d recommend getting everything weighed and ready to go before you start which then makes this the easiest job in the world.

Preheat the oven to 170 (160 fan) and grease and line a square tin.

Chocolate pieces and butter in one, microwave proof, bowl.

Sugar weighed out in another bowl.

Flour, cocoa and cinnamon in a third.

Mincemeat in a small pan.  Set over a really low heat.  You want to melt the suet and make the whole thing slightly more liquid which means it will distribute evenly through the batter.

Microwave the chocolate and butter on a medium heat for around five minutes or until melted and glossy.  I find this easier than setting up a bowl over boiling water.  You need to take it out and swirl it around every so often to prevent it from overheating, but as long as you set the temperature to medium-low (about 50% on my model) it should be fine.

Add the sugar and stir well until incorporated.  I find that this works best if I add it in about three lots, stirring well after each time.  Then sift in the flour / cocoa / spice combo and stir well again.


Break the eggs into one of the bowls you used for the dry ingredients and lightly whisk before adding to the batter.  Again, I find that it incorporates best if you do it in about three goes, briskly stirring after each addition.

By now, the mincemeat should be nice and melty (a technical term!) so remove from the heat and allow to cool very slightly while you fold the shortbread pieces through the mix.  Finally, stir through the mincemeat. 

Transfer the lot to the prepared tin and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes (actually, they took 20 in my oven but it is a BEAST).  

The brownies are ready when they have a shiny crust and the underneath quivers very slightly when you remove them from the oven.  Alternatively, stick a skewer (or a piece of spaghetti – my implement of choice) into the cake.  The brownies are done when it emerges with a few scant crumbs clinging to it.  There’s a really good visual of what I mean here. 


I defy anyone, mince pie hater or not, to dislike these.  The combination of boozy fruit and chocolate is, to my mind, absolutely irresistible.  Merry Christmas all!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

A pre-Christmas catch up

I cannot believe that Christmas is almost upon us and I, for one, am nowhere near prepared.  How goes it for you, dearest readers?

Most of our Christmas dinner preparation is underway, thanks to D.  The duck legs are sitting quietly in a box of fat in the fridge, the braised red cabbage and clementine ice cream are in the outdoor freezer alongside a couple of pots of turkey curry to enjoy in the fuggy period between Boxing Day and New Year.  And this weekend, I will be turning my attention to Christmas crumble: there will be a layer of apple, a layer of mincemeat and then a crumble topping flavoured with orange zest, cinnamon and chopped nuts. 

Dieting quietly fell off the agenda a good while ago so at the moment I'm all about the damage control which is not easy in an office when there is a permanent supply of Christmas snack foods.  My team actually held a mince pie bake off last week.  I went off piste and submitted a batch of mince pie brownies, which I thought were fairly epic, but they were proved a gamble too far and failed to win on the basis that they were not mince pie-ey enough.  My genius is clearly not appreciated.

Burgeoning waistline aside, I must admit that I have struggled to get into the spirit of things so far this year.  I always used to adore Christmas but now wonder if I'm just getting a little bit too old to buy in to the magic in the same way that I always used to.  Maybe not having children means that you just lose that sense of wonder.  Or maybe the fact that Bella Italia have seen fit to put Christmas Dinner lasagne on their set menu this year (I don't like to swear on this blog but WTAF?) has just made me feel that everything has gone a little bit too far.

Anyway, I hope to be on again at some point to run through my dishes of the year (I'll bet that'll have everyone on the edge of their seats for the forseeable) but in the meantime, I leave you with a picture of my beloved Minx being long suffering in a Christmas scrunchie - looking at which makes me think that perhaps I can still muster a little bit of festive wonder...

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Recipe corner: Sausage and kale gratin

This is my take on a dish called panade, which, I must admit, I knew nothing about until I started to look for ways to use up some kale lurking at the bottom of my fridge. Hugh F-W described it in an old Guardian column as a sort of cabbage, onion and stale bread gratin which doesn't sound immediately tasty. It certainly isn’t attractive which is why I haven’t bothered to include a picture. An unattractive, rustic dish combined with my lamentable food photography skills equals a picture that looks like nothing on Earth.

I liked the idea of the layers of bread, cheese and cabbage all melded together by the stock. But why not add a bit of additional interest in the form of crumbled up sausage meat? My mind was going along the route of a pimped up stuffing which can often contain some element of offal. For my first version, I used a bit of haggis that had been languishing in the freezer, for the second, some crumbled up slices of black pudding. Both excellent, although I know neither ingredient is to everyone’s taste so I have suggested sausages in the ingredients list below. Incidentally, while I have included weights and measures in the recipe it is really the kind of dish that can be adapted to suit individual taste. If you want to be a bit heavy handed with the cheese, or whack in another sausage that you happen to have lying around, I certainly won’t tell.

This can be a side dish or a main event depending on how hungry you are. It is rustic food, a meal for an Autumn evening of long shadows and air that nips at your fingers.

Ingredients

150g curly kale
Tsp butter
Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

3 small onions, thinly sliced
Tsp vegetable oil
Tsp butter
3 standard size sausages, meat squeezed from casings
3 large sage leaves, finely shredded or generous tsp dried sage
Salt, pepper

50g cheddar cheese, grated
3 slices of bread, crusts removed, cubed
250ml vegetable stock

Heat together the oil and butter in a small pan and then turn the flame beneath them down to the lowest possible setting. Add the onions and stir well to coat in the fat. As they just begin to cook, add the sage and season well and then cover and cook for around 20 mins until golden or soft. Stir regularly and add a splash of water if they look to be sticking.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the kale for 4-5 minutes and then drain and rinse under the cold tap to prevent it cooking any further. Squeeze as much liquid from the kale as possible and then return to the pan and melt through the butter over a gentle heat, seasoning well with pepper and mace.

Preheat the oven to 180 (160 fan) and boil the kettle to make up the stock.

After 20 mins, add the sausagemeat to the onions and combine well. Cook for a further 5-10 mins until the meat is beginning to crust and colour.

Place half of the sausage and onion mixture in the bottom of a small, preferably buttered, gratin dish and top with half of the bread and the cheese. Then spread across all of the kale. Finish with another layer of sausage, then bread and cheese.

Pour over the hot stock. Cover the dish and bake in the oven for 35 minutes then remove the cover and bake for a further 15 or until the whole lot is a golden, bubbling mass. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

How to cook sushi rice



I’m about to throw an empty packet away, and with it the instructions that I’ve been using to cook sushi rice. What is this blog, I asked myself, but an online kitchen scrapbook and thus the perfect place to make a note of it all. Thus:

Step 1. Weight out 100g rice. This is enough for two people as long as they’re pretending to be ok with WW’s idea of a portion.

Step 2. Cover the rice in cold water and swirl it around a bit. The water will go quite cloudy. Drain into a sieve. Consider repeating the process three or four times as instructed but instead decide to run cold water over the rice in the sieve, stirring lightly with your hand. After a minute or so of this, the water should run clear.

Step 3: Tip rice into saucepan and pour over 130 ml cold water. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook for 10 mins. Turn the heat off and leave for a further 25 mins. Do not remove the lid during this time.

Step 4: Meanwhile, combine a tbsp rice wine vinegar with 2 tsp sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Step 5: When the time is up, remove the lid and stir through the vinegar-sugar combo and a tiny pinch of salt (the salt is not specified on the packet but I find it wakes up the sweet sourness of the other additions).

Step 6: Serve - topped with whatever your little heart desires.

Monday, 26 November 2018

MPM: 26th November 2018

I’ve had to switch my WW membership to online only for the time being. I’ve missed a number of meetings due to other commitments and was using this as an excuse to avoid the scales and not follow the plan properly. That ends now. I was following WW online when I first started this blog and did manage to lose weight successfully over a sustained period so there’s no reason why it can’t work again. I’ll see how I go between now and Christmas and then if I need to recommit to meetings in the New Year then I will, albeit might have to have a rethink as to which meeting I attend. There’s a local one on a Saturday morning which could be a possibility.

Meal plan - couple of bumps from last week and a takeaway on Friday, requested by D. Not particularly WW friendly (actually not WW friendly at all) so I’ll just have to make up for it elsewhere. Sigh.

Monday: starting the week nice and light with a comforting bowl of soup.

Tuesday: leftover roast chicken and black bean wraps.

Wednesday: salmon yakitori with sushi rice. Possibly some sort of cucumber side dish?

Thursday: Ottolenghi’s ultimate winter couscous.

Friday: fish and chips.

Saturday: Szechuan red braised pork belly - bumped from last week.

Sunday: a Diana Henry recipe - chicken and sweet potatoes with miso, ginger and spring onions.

Have a fabulous week all!

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Foodie abroad: Il Ridotto, Venice



For D's 50th birthday we hoped that we would find somewhere pretty special to eat, but given that we were in an unknown city we had to choose somewhere on spec and hope for the best.  Fortunately, Il Ridotto turned out to be one of the most memorable meals that we've ever had, numbering right up there with our experiences at Eleven Madison Park in New York and Five Senses in Barcelona.

It is not, however, a restaurant that I would recommend unreservedly to everyone and in trying to explain why I will probably come across as unbearably patronising.  But the thing is, different people want different things when they eat out, especially when they are paying several hundred pounds to do so.  Some of the dishes at Il Ridotto were extremely challenging - if straightforward, classically executed deliciousness is your bag then I might tentatively suggest you go elsewhere.

Perhaps if I describe a couple of the more out there dishes, you'll see what I mean.  The first thing that was brought out to us, for example.  A smoked mussel served in its shell with...creme brulee.  Not some sort of savoury take on a creme brulee but an actually, vanilla flecked custard with a crispy layer of sugar.  When it arrived, I laughed rather nervously.  When I had eaten it the laugh was one of genuine delight.  It was smoky and sweet and salty and strange.  I have never had anything like it.


Or there was the first dessert which was topped off with black truffle cream.  Not a subtle waft of truffle either but a full on, thwack you around the face, black truffle ice cream.  It sounds odd.  It tasted odd.  The first mouthful was confusing.  But gradually, as all the flavours came together the earthy funk of the truffle just worked with the sweetness of candied pumpkin and fire of ginger ice cream.


Some combinations were less controversial and just beautiful food done well.  A tangle of raw slivers of sea bass, lightly dressed with a touch of black garlic and studded with tiny caper berries (pictured). A risotto, again flavored with garlic but this time more vibrant, rendered a vivid green by the inclusion of sea vegetables then topped with a great flurry of black truffle. A perfectly cooked piece of hare.


As with many of the other great restaurants we have been lucky enough to visit, Il Ridotto is very strongly rooted in local traditions and dishes and much of what was served was a nod to the Venetian food heritage.  It was emphatically not classical though.  It was provocative and interesting and, sometimes, I was unsure whether I actually liked what I was eating (before deciding that I probably did).  We loved it and would not hesitate to return but, as I said, not for everyone and that's perfectly OK.  I must admit, if I could only ever visit one restaurant for the rest of my life, it's probably not the one that I would choose because, for me, challenging is great but traditional is what I crave in my quieter moments.  D might well think otherwise.

It was, though, a really wonderful place to celebrate such a special birthday and certainly a meal that we will not soon forget.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Foodie abroad: Venice (part 2)

I think the best thing to do in Venice is just to wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere. It’s a bit like being on a film set; at times it doesn’t feel real.


On the Wednesday, we struck out with the intention of tracking down Venice’s best cicchetti. Cicchetti is the Venetian answer to tapas: small dishes designed to be eaten with a drink. In the majority of cases we found this tended to be something-on-toast.


Our favourite was a simple whipped salt cod on toasted brown bread which we enjoyed with glasses of Soave seated next to one of Venice’s many canals (pictured top right). It’s not elaborate food, I don’t think that it is supposed to be.

D’s birthday meal aside (which I will get to shortly) Venetian food, in general, was characterised by its simplicity for me. We went to a lovely little wine bar cum bistro for dinner on the last evening and I had the most beautiful piece of grilled bream served with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and some simply cooked vegetables. It was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned and a wonderful celebration of a lovely piece of fish without any bells and whistles.


I liked Venice very much and the dinner at Il Ridotto will number as one of our best ever. But I did not find it to be a foodie destination in the same way as Paris or even Barcelona. It’s all about simple dishes served with bags of convivial charm in a location that feels slightly out of time.


Monday, 19 November 2018

MPM: 19th November 2018

Gah! I can’t believe that I have got to the end of another week and STILL have two Venice posts to finish not to mention various other half done drafts sitting in my blogger feed to sort out. Hands up - life seems a little bit of a struggle at the moment. Work is challenging - good, but challenging and very full on - and I get home in the evening and weekends and am so drained that I don’t want to do anything much but lie around, stroke the cat and binge on Netflix. I wish that I was one of those people who thrive on wholesome hobbies and think my goal for next year must be to try and make my life outside of work a little bit fuller. It’s probably one of those things, like exercise, that feels overwhelming to start with, but when you get into the routine you reap the positive rewards.

Anyhoo, at the very least I can manage a meal planning post. I’m looking forward to the eats this week:

Monday: shepherds’ pie. Bumped from last week, as I write this (on Sunday evening) the mince is bubbling away in the slow cooker so all I need to do tomorrow is sort out the mash for the top and the veg for the side.

Tuesday: ham, eggs and Piperade from this lovely recipe.

Wednesday: D is out for lunch, so we’re going to keep things fairly light for tea and just have a nice pot of soup. However, I’ve been having a bit of a yen for soda bread recently, so I may knock up some to go on the side.

Thursday: a fennel gratin with an orange zest and pine nut crust, served with a fennel seed pilaf. Thank you, Nigel Slater.

Friday: a beef rendang . We’ll be making use of the slow cooker again so all we have to do on Friday evening is cook some rice to go on the side.

Saturday: D has requested a Szechuan red braised pork belly which sounds delicious.

Sunday: roast chicken with various trimmings.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and happy eating! Oooh, and Peridot, enjoy Fantastic Beasts and be sure to let me know what you think!

Monday, 12 November 2018

MPM: 12th November 2018

Still deep in the post holiday blues, I didn’t get around to doing a meal planning post last week which is a real shame because it was a great week! The meal plan was jotted down while we were still away and nearly all of the dishes were inspired by stuff we ate in Venice. Oh, and on Monday we made cacio e pepe using this recipe. Cacio e pepe is Roman in origin rather than Venetian, so not quite in keeping with the theme, but it tasted so good that I don’t really care. I would definitely urge you to give this one a whirl.

This week we are lacking a theme and a couple of dishes are still to be fully realised but we will plough on regardless!

Monday: mushroom risotto with squid - a bump from last week and an homage to an extraordinary dish that we ate in Venice.

Tuesday: we’ll have duck leftover from Sunday’s roast so will be making use of that here. D has been muttering about some sort of carrot and fennel seed purée. I quite like the idea of stir-frying the meat with a touch of Chinese five spice. From these ideas, I am sure something delicious will emerge.

Wednesday: filled pasta tossed with butter, Parmesan and black pepper.

Thursday: D fancies lamb chops - not sure how these will be served yet.

Friday: we are off out to the cinema (Fantastic Beasts! Soooooo excited!) so when we get home we will be heating up the other half of the delicious Suriani chicken curry that we made the other week.

Saturday: mussel and saffron soup with some lovely homemade bread.

Sunday: shepherds pie. Or cottage pie. I don’t really care - as long as it’s a lovely, savoury mince and gravy combo topped with buttery, cheesy mash and peas on the side.

That little lot has made me hungry! Have a fabulous week all, happy eating!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Foodie abroad: Venice (part 1)

I actually wrote this post on Tuesday morning sitting outside the Doge’s palace but never got around to publishing it! Back home now and more travelling tales to follow.

It cannot be said that our introduction to Venice was an auspicious one. The night we arrived, the city was experiencing the worst flooding that it had seen in twenty years. Having made it successfully from the airport to the closest vaporetto stop to our hotel we then had to wade through several feet of water with our cases held up at waist height. For about ten minutes. In trainers. And then, once checked in, we had to wade down the road to get to a local restaurant. And sit there with water up to our ankles.

Luckily today, Tuesday, the flood waters have receded and things are back to normal but the scars, and the damp trainers, remain. So my first piece of travel advice is: if you happen to travel to Venice in a flood, be sure and pack galoshes in your hand luggage.

And my second is: if you fly from Leeds Bradford airport do NOT consider having lunch in the cafe bar there. Go and get a sandwich from somewhere else and repair to the bar for wine. Otherwise you end up paying nearly £15 for this:


The world’s most indifferent fish finger sandwich.

Luckily, dinner made up for it (wet feet aside). D went for a seafood spaghetti to start:


Delicious but not quite as delicious as my ravioli al giorno. I wish I knew what went into this - some sort of blue cheese, I think, but so light and creamy with a hint of acidity from the (presumably) beetroot dressing.


I followed this with fegato all Veneziana - Venetian liver and onions - with polenta. It seemed appropriate and it was lovely. The liver was perfectly cooked, the onions sweet and soft. I am not the biggest fan of soft polenta but it seems that it is the most traditional accompaniment so went with the flow and actually quite enjoyed it (although the Brit in me thinks mash would have been better!)


We hit a Michelin starred joint for D’s birthday meal tonight so hopefully will be back with more foodie tales soon.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Slow cooker recipe corner: Vivek Singh’s Suriani home-style chicken curry

A slow cooker curry recipe is perfect for this time of year and this one, adapted from the BBC Food site, is lovely. Please, please do not be put off by the amount of vinegar. When you first combine the ingredients it will taste and smell slightly overwhelming. By the end of cooking it will have mellowed to the most delicious subtle sourness.

From the BBC website

From me. A career in food photography clearly beckons...

The original recipe can be found here and comes with a sweet and sour coconut rice accompaniment but if you are looking to keep points down, you could just serve with plain rice. Or cauliflower rice. Or whatever you like really...I can imagine it with a chilli and coriander spiked mash.

This is a wet curry / stew, even if you reduce it as per the below suggestion. It’s got no thickening agent so it’s never going to be a thick sauce but I don’t think that is the idea. Just thought I’d mention it in case thinner curries aren’t your bag. You could quite easily bung a handful of lentils in it if you like - this wouldn’t affect the points. Oh, incidentally, you could also use reduced fat coconut milk which would take the points down to 5 per portion.

Ingredients

Tbsp rapeseed oil
2-3 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks

Half a punnet of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 red onions sliced

Can of coconut milk
Cinnamon stick
6 cloves
4 green cardamom pods
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5cm piece of ginger, grated
8 green chillies, slit lengthways
15 curry leaves
2 tsp salt
Tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
5 tbsp sherry vinegar

Tsp garam masala

Serves 4, 10 Smart Points (WW Flex) per portion

As ever, these slow cooker recipes are more of an assembly job.

Heat the oil and add the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary, to brown on all sides.

Meanwhile, put the coconut milk, the spices and the vinegar into the slow cooker. Stir well, then add the sliced veg and the browned chicken.

Lid on, cook on low for 8 - 10 hours.

We then used a slotted spoon to remove the meat and veg, poured the sauce into a pan and reduced over a low heat for 15 mins, but this is not essential if you’re looking for ease and speed.

Stir through the garam masala just before serving.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Radio silence is never a good sign

At least in diet blog land. It generally means that someone has fallen off the wagon and is sitting by the side of the road with chocolate round their mouth.

Yep, that me. Not so much with the chocolate, actually, I tend to have more of a savoury tooth these days. But things have gone rather horribly wrong.

Excuse number 1: work related stress levels have been rather high in our household recently and neither of us have been taking care of ourselves very well. I even (oh, the shame!) bought an M&S ready meal on the way home the other week for us to have for dinner.

Excuse number 2: it is D’s birthday next week. It is a Big Birthday, ending in a zero, and every week there have been celebratory events arranged. Yes, he has contrived a month long birthday and he’s been working so hard lately that I can’t begrudge him. I could have made sensible choices, I did not.

Ach, it’s annoying but...there you go. As I write this, I’m also realising that somewhere, at the back of my mind, I wrote off October ages ago because we’ve got a holiday at the end of it (we fly to Venice on Monday for a few nights). How’s that for crooked thinking (to steal Lesley’s very useful phrase)?

Anyway, fresh start after the holiday and who cares if it the billionty first fresh start - each time I get a little bit closer. And hopefully I’ll get around to some fun Venice food posts next week while we’re away. Potential food porn alert!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Recipe corner: Tomato butter sauce and a creamy Parmesan dressing

Before we get to pizza, I just wanted to post this pasta sauce recipe. It apparently was all the rage among food bloggers in oooh, 2010 or so so I’m either late to the party (likely) or bringing sexy back (less likely). It’s very lovely though. It reminds me of tomato sauces that I’ve eaten in Italy - light and sweet and clinging. Very different from the almost jam like quality you get when starting a tomato sauce from a standard soffrito. It also has the very great advantage of requiring very few ingredients and very little effort. One need never reach for a jar of sauce again.

To go with it a salad dressing which harks back to the Caesar dressing that I first posted years ago, which utilises a molten egg yolk to create something that tastes far richer than the points would suggest. The Parmesan adds a ton of umami flavour, the mustard a good kick. And this basic dressing recipe would be a good base for any other flavourings you might want to throw in, depending on what your salad is accompanying. This recipe makes enough to properly drench two decent portions of salad which is great when there’s not too much else going on. Alternatively, you could settle for an elegant drizzle and probably get away with counting it at zero points.



Tomato butter sauce - ingredients

200g tin chopped tomatoes
18g butter
One small onion, peeled and sliced in half

Serves 2, 3 Smart Points (WW Flex) a portion

The instructions for this are blessedly easy. Simply stick all the ingredients together in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Set over a low heat and bring to the gentlest of simmers and then turn the heat down as low as possible - a diffuser works well here if you have one - for around 45 minutes. As it cooks, give it the occasional stir, ensuring the tomatoes are lightly crushed into the buttery juices. It is ready when little droplets of fat appear on the surface of the sauce - see picture below.  NOT the most prepossessing looking thing, but getting there. Discard the onion, season with salt if required and then serve over pasta.


A note: I tried making this with a shallot but I don't think it worked quite as well so I would urge you to go for an onion.  It won't give an overtly onion flavour but it is an important constituent part and I think that the shallot was just a little too mild to deliver.

Creamy Parmesan dressing - ingredients

1 egg
2 tbsp 0% fat Greek yoghurt
2 tsp rapeseed oil
Tsp dijon mustard
15g Parmesan cheese finely grated
Scant squeeze of lemon juice

Serves 2 generously, 2 Smart Points (WW Flex) a portion

You'll need a little processor for this.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and then lower in the egg and set a timer for three minutes.  Remove as soon as it is done and immediately stick it under the cold tap to stop the cooking.

Meanwhile, put the yoghurt, oil and mustard into the processor and give them a quick whizz to introduce them to each other.  Grate the Parmesan - you could skip this step and let the processor do the work, but your result won't be as smooth and creamy.

CAREFULLY peel your egg.  Have the processor close at hand so if you accidentally pierce the yolk while you are doing so you can ensure it all gets into the mix.  The white should be just about set but depending on the size of your egg may be a little bit snotty which works beautifully in the dressing but be warned if you're slightly squeamish (as I know some people are when it comes to eggs).

Blend again until the egg is completely incorporated and you have a smooth, pale yellow dressing.  Add the Parmesan, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a good whack of pepper and whizz for a final time. Check the seasoning - it may require an extra hit of lemon just at the end.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Birthday wishes

Today is my brother’s birthday. Happy birthday D2! Fun fact - not only do my brother and my husband share the same first name, but I have exactly the same first AND middle name combo as my husband’s sister. Oh, and D’s mother and my maternal grandmother shared not only a first name but a birthday. I like these sorts of coincidences, they allow me to sort of believe in the notion of a cosmic pattern. Of course, it could just be that Irish Catholic families tend to be slightly predictable in their name choices.

But anyway, happy birthday brother! I hope that you have a wonderful day. I’m trying to think of another fun fact that is rather more sibling centric but failing (it is still quite early and this bus is making a horrendous droning sound that is really quite distracting). All I can offer is that my brother has many admirable attributes and is a far more sensible and balanced person than his sister so it’s probably for the best that he produced the grandchildren ;-).

It’s yet possible that I may be exhibiting some personal growth since I managed to drag myself along to my WW meeting last night despite the fact I suspected bad news. My digestion is absolutely all over the place at the moment which is making my eating habits slightly (very) erratic. I’m due to see a consultant at the end of November, so that’s good news. Although the scales were slightly (1.5lbs) up this week, I’m still hopeful of getting another stone off by Christmas; D and I have already agreed that November needs to be a quiet and calm month once we get back from Venice, so that will help a lot.

Right, my stop is coming up so I will bid you adieu for now but I will be back at some point to post the saag paneer pizza recipe because it is entirely necessary that you all have that in your lives this year.

Monday, 1 October 2018

MPM: 1st October 2018

As I write this on Sunday afternoon, I am full of cold and feeling most grumpy about it. I do not feel ill exactly - certainly not poorly enough to spend tomorrow at home, more’s the pity, but stuffed up and sniffy and sorry for myself. I have spent the majority of the day in bed, in some sort of vague protest against germs, kept company by the cat (when I am not making too much noise sniffing and sneezing) and one of Stephen King’s recent doorstoppers which is very bleak and apocalyptic and exactly suits my mood.

Meal planning then; on Friday D will be out on the first of his many birthday celebrations, so I will probably opt for prick and ping, and on Saturday we are going out for dinner with D’s sister and her husband - probably to The Reliance because my brother in law, who is an absolutely lovely chap, appears to have quite a limited range of food that he will consent to eat and The Reliance serve fish and chips. I must admit I do struggle to deal with the concept of otherwise sensible, intelligent adults who have the palate of toddlers but hey, I like The Reliance so it’s no skin off my nose. Recently we had a delicious bar snack there of roasted peppers with ricotta and capers piled onto crusty bread which is something I must recreate at home at some point.

Elsewhere on the meal plan:

Monday: Spinach, ricotta and roasted tomato gnocchi bake. I have so enjoyed rediscovering some of my older blog recipes in this latest crack at WW - there’s some really lovely stuff in those archives. This is exactly the kind of stodgy deliciousness that I’m going to need if this cold carries on into the beginning of the working week.

Tuesday: Mushroom risotto. D is in charge of this one. He promises that there will not be too much butter and Parmesan, but he may need close supervision...

Wednesday: Potato, bacon and asparagus salad topped with Epoisses. The original recipe called for green beans (which D detests) and Brie (we have Epoisses in the freezer leftover from last Christmas that needs using before we start buying cheese for this Christmas). I do enjoy a substantial warm salad for supper and have high hopes for this one.

Thursday: Salmon with pasta pesto. Haven’t had this in a good six weeks and it is one of our absolute favourite things.

Sunday: Fish pie - perfect Sunday fare.

Have a fabulous week all - stay warm and avoid germs!

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Weight loss diary: September 2018

It’s been a while since we had an update so let’s get straight to it:

Weeks 1-4: -8.5lbs
Week 5: -2lbs
Week 6: -1lb
Week 7: -1.5lbs
Weeks 8-10: +2.5lbs
Week 11: -3.5lbs

Total: -15lbs

Not bad at all. Even with a three week blip I’m still averaging at just under 1.5lbs a week. Excellent. It’s not the fastest, sexiest tale of weight loss ever but it is a very sensible, sustainable one.

There will be many more blips but I need to make sure that I arrest them before they turn into three weekers. That’s too long to be off plan and (I always say this but it always bears repeating) I feel SO much better when I’m in the zone. It is hard work to plan and track but the benefits are myriad: better digestion, better sleep, better mental health...it makes you wonder what kind of moron wouldn’t make the effort...