Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Recipe corner: Smoked salmon kedgeree

Love, love, love this dish.  There is already a classic kedgeree recipe on the blog which I also think is fabulous, but this smoked salmon version just has a little touch more luxury. We had this for a Sunday breakfast (which was when kedgeree was originally served.  Breakfast, I mean, not Sunday) but it would be perfect for supper too.  The portion is on the dainty side which is fine first thing in the morning but I would consider doubling up if I was going to serve it for a main meal.


90g basmati rice
Small onion, chopped
10g butter
Tsp cumin
Tsp ground coriander
Tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
120g smoked salmon, shredded
3 tbsp half fat creme fraiche
Zest of half a lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
Small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped*
2 medium eggs

*A note on herbs.  The leafier green herbs, such as parsley and coriander, do not last well if purchased in bunches and I often found that if I was buying them for a particular recipe I ended up having to throw some away.  Waitrose, and I imagine other supermarkets may do as well, sell them in blitzed up form in the freezer section which I find incredibly useful to have on hand.  You can add them to a dish direct from frozen.

Serves 2, 9 pro points per portion

First cook your rice according to your normal method.  You could even use one of those little microwave pouches if you felt so inclined - I certainly wouldn't judge.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and then add the onion, turn the heat right down and allow it to cook until translucent and soft - about 10 minutes.  You can do this while the rice is cooking.

Now it's an assembly job - add the spices to the onion and cook out for a couple of minutes until they no longer smell raw.  Then stir through the cooked rice, ensuring that it gets well coated.  And then add the smoked salmon, the lemon zest and any seasoning (this dish loves black pepper).  If you're making the dish in advance (perhaps for the next morning) this is the stage at which you can stop.

Place two eggs in a pan, cover with cold water and set over a medium heat.  Bring to the boil and then cook for 4 minutes which will be a hard boil but with a suggestion of fudginess to the yolks - perfect for these purposes.  While this is happening you can stir the creme fraiche, the lemon juice and the parsley through the rice.

Peel the eggs under cold running water, cut in two and then serve the kedgeree with the eggs perched cheekily on top.  Wonder why you don't eat spicy food for breakfast more often.

Monday, 27 October 2014

MPM: 27th October 2014

This week, it is D's birthday.  He is in his mid forties.  He does, however, have a small child's capacity for stretching out his birthday celebrations for as long as possible and then a bit beyond.  Hence we have the day of his birthday itself when we are out off to the theatre in Harrogate, the Birthday Breakfast which we are having on Saturday so that I don't have to get up at six to cook it before dashing off to work, and the Birthday Trip which will be two nights in Edinburgh next week.  Phew!

Before the celebrations begin, we have a fishy start to the week and a bit of midweek slumming it as I am off in Newcastle learning all about the tax treatment of Research and Development claims and when I get home a) it will be late and b) I will most likely be a gibbering wreck.  The meal plan in full:

Home made fish finger sandwiches (the fish fingers being the home made constituent.  Although, clearly, the sandwiches will be assembled at home as well).
Salmon fillets with pasta pesto (perennial favourite)
Pizza and salad
Veal and Parmesan burgers (freezer clearing continues).
Coq au vin with mashed potatoes and curly kale

Not sure about our Saturday plans so am leaving it blank for now...since it is the Birthday Weekend something celebratory seems likely.

More meal planning fun over at Mrs M's.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Weigh in Wednesday - the rollover edition

Previously on WWF: -50lbs
Last week: -1.5lbs
This week: +2.5
Total loss: 49lbs

I don't understand what it is about the 50lb milestone that I find so very difficult to get past.  Both earlier this year and now I seem to bounce around it as if it is some sort of weird WW lodestar.  And from chatting to some others on the WW UK messageboards it doesn't seem to be all that uncommon to get a bit stuck at the big 5-0.

One (very sensible) lady (who lost around eight stone to get to goal) said that she found her motivation waned when she began to look more "socially acceptable" and I sort of know what she means.  Although still demonstrably Weeble like I am significantly less Weeble like than I was this time last year.  But still too Weeble like for anyone's aesthetic comfort.

Perhaps it is just unfortunate timing and I need to grit my teeth and keep on going.  I always knew that I would have a difficult few weeks (diet wise) mid to late October what with a long weekend in London just gone and then D's birthday trip to Edinburgh which will be in little over a week.  November is looking much quieter socially so will be an ideal time to knuckle down and really push past this 50lb barrier.  And I have no excuse to not get a decent loss under my belt over the next seven days.

Further adventures of the Russell Norman Appreciation Society

D and I love Russell Norman and all who sail in him.

We first went to Polpo back in November 2011 and rather enjoyed it.  Since then he has opened a number of other venues, most of which we have also visited and liked very much.  I had a top notch Reuben sandwich at Mishkin's (this was back in the days before we made these regularly at home), adored the truffled egg toast at Spuntino's, and had a rather good pink gin at Ape and Bird.  This latter venue is worth a visit if only to go and listen to episodes of Blackadder while you make use of the facilities.  Mr Norman seems to be very good at creating appealing and interesting places to eat at a price point which is not too ridiculous for Central London.

On Saturday, finding ourselves at a slightly hungry loose end come half past two, we popped to the Covent Garden branch of Polpo for a few reviving plates.  It's a great venue if you're peckish but don't want a full on meal because you can order as many dishes as suits your appetite.  And given the fact that the venue was still full and buzzy at the tail end of lunchtime, clearly we were not the only people who thought so.

We had a selection of cicheti:

Pig's head crostini:

Fritto misto:

Linguine vongole:

And a couple of dolcetti, chocolate salami and honey ricotta cannoli, with coffee:

It's not flawless food: the pig's head could have been a bit more porky (as it was, the capers and mustard overwhelmed the meat element slightly) and the fritto misto was marginally under seasoned (although I do tend to over salt fried food so this could just be personal preference). But the linguine, in particular, was excellent and overall the food here is fun to choose and fun to eat.  We approve.

Polpo Covent Garden
6 Maiden Lane
020 7836 8448

Monday, 20 October 2014

On being the least successful weight loss blogger that ever there was

I forgot to do a weigh in post last week - sorry.  Another steady loss, as predicted.  This week I am almost certainly going to see a gain on Wednesday because I have spent the weekend in London and have eaten and drunk far more than was good for me.  I seemed to have a monster appetite on me and no inclination to practice temperance.  Since we had a lovely time, catching up with old friends in the autumn sunshine, I will take whatever the scales say this week on the chin and not let it worry me too much.

At this point, do feel free to have a collective eye roll as I yet again demonstrate how not to be a weight loss blogger.

Of course, when one starts writing a weight loss blog one probably hopes it will be a short term project.  Certainly a finite one.  I have been writing here for four years, and still don't have it sussed.  That is quite the prolonged failure.

I think, though, that every year that has passed has seen me learn and that eventually all these learnings will translate into results.  I sometimes feel that I hold all the threads in my hand to finally find peace in my relationship both with eating and with my body but just still struggle slightly to bring them all together in a single yarn.  And, actually, when that analogy occurred to me earlier on I thought that it was quite an apt way to describe my life in general.  Which is probably why a weight loss blog is never really a short term project because when we write about trying to lose weight part of what we are writing about is how we learn to navigate life without hiding behind a painstakingly constructed wall of food and fat.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Meditations on the scale

I think I might have to give up the daily weighing for a while.  I've never been entirely sure whether it is healthy way of keeping an eye on things or whether it tips over into slightly obsessive behaviour; either way, when the number has an impact on your daily mood (and my mood is never good at ten past six in the morning anyway) it's time to back away.

This particular morning I am sulking slightly because although I have been tracking a 2-3lb loss all week, this morning there was a slight bounce and that has reduced to a 1.6lb loss.  Today, as regular readers will know, is my official WW weigh in and so the day when the big numbers count.  Since the WW scales measure to the nearest half pound, that 1.6 will more likely be a 1.5.  And 1.5 does not sound like an adequate return for my sterling efforts this week.

Really, I need to slap myself around the face with a wet kipper and get over it.  A loss of 1.5lbs is at the upper end of the healthy range so is a good result by any sensible standard.  Yes, I have been completely on plan this week, (hurrah for me) but there was still beer and wine at the weekend, and chocolate most days, and a delicious Welsh rarebit for breakfast on Sunday morning, so deprivation has hardly been the order of things.  And bitching about 1.5lbs really gives the lie to every single time I have told someone, in all sincerity, that any loss is good and should be celebrated. 

I was pondering this in the car this morning (who doesn't love a bit of cod psychology before 7am?) and wondering if what I am really disappointed with isn't the fact that it is taking me time to lose the weight but the fact that I gained it in the first place.  If you are overweight, or, indeed, have any sort of issue with food, you can never, never escape it.  Every mealtime becomes a string of finely balanced decisions, every time you look in the mirror you are reminded of your failure to be moderate.  And when you finally, finally take yourself in hand you just want that fat gone so you can get on with a life in which every single moment does not revolve around what you can/can't, should/shouldn't eat. 

Melodramatic?  Oh, almost certainly.  As I keep saying, I am never at my best in the morning.  And the thing about having a blog is that sometimes you need to use it to dump out all the over thinking and all the self pitying whingeing and everything that is making your brain feel slightly itchy.  Anyhoo, I'll be back later on with the official report and in the meantime will try and focus on things other than the number that represents the gravitational pull of the Earth on my person like, y'know, the day job.

Monday, 13 October 2014

MPM: 13th October 2014

I don't know whether it is the darker nights and mornings or the slight change in routine or the fact that I am one of the sleepiest people that you will ever have the pleasure of meeting, but goodness I'm tired at the moment.  Yesterday I had a three hour nap.  I don't know if you can even call it a nap if it is three hours long.  It feels like such a waste of a day when you look back and realise that you've spent a large proportion of it unconscious; I wonder if I would have been better served going for a brisk walk on a moor somewhere. 

Anyway, meal planning for this week.  Well, D is out on Wednesday and both of us are away next weekend so it is a short and sweet entry from me.

Monday: moules mariniere - it's mussel season at the moment and these plump little beauties are so cheap and so delicious and so low in points - glorious!

Tuesday: roast beef and horseradish sandwiches (leftovers from the Sunday roast.  Chicken or lamb may make the best roasts, but I think beef might make the best leftovers - a roast beef sandwich is a thing of absolute beauty).

Thursday: Soup Night!

More (and, hopefully, more extensive) meal planning fun over at Mrs M's.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Weigh in Wednesday: 8th October 2014

Previously on WWF: -48.5lbs
This week: -1.5lbs
Total loss: 50lbs

Hurrah! I've reclaimed my 50lb milestone. This means that slowly, inexorably, I'm chugging towards Fresh Fat with just 4.5lbs to go before I hit a new low.

Clear week this week, so the definite possibility of a good result. My main challenge will be avoiding outlets that sell Cadbury Snowmen - have you tried these?? They are very sweet and very, very addictive. Damn them.

Monday, 6 October 2014

MPM: 6th October 2014

I seem to start the first Meal Planning Monday of every month by going, "Wow, [insert appropriate month name here].  How did that happen?"  So I was determined not to do that this month.  But, OK, October, really?  It just doesn't seem likely.

Aside from anything else, if it's October then it means that we've had this little one for six whole months!

And she's still alive!  And thriving in a furry, purry sort of way.  Although D did wake me yesterday morning to inform me that "my" cat had been sick downstairs but that there was no need for me to get up immediately, he could ignore it for a little while longer.  Thanks, D.  And, indeed, thanks Minx.

On to meal planning.  Both of us must recently have had a slow day at work since we have sketched out a tentative plan not only for the rest of October but also November as well.  People, that is how much my husband and I like to think about food.  This week:

Sweet chilli glazed salmon with cucumber "pickle" and wild rice

Chicken and leek pot pies with mash

Mushroom risotto

Coq au vin

Roast beef and all the trimmings

That leaves one night for soup and one night D is taking over the kitchen - dish tbc he informs me.  How very exciting.

More meal planning fun over at Mrs M's.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Recipe corner: Pepper crusted tuna with mustard cucumber "spaghetti"

Most of the recipes that I am posting at the moment are pretty high in points which is indicative of the way in which I eat and it is getting problematic.  When you have a daily allowance of 32, an evening meal in the late teens or 20, as this one is, is a bit too high and makes for very hungry days. If I'm hungry, I'm grumpy.

We try and counter this as best we can; once a week we have "soup night" where tea consists of...well, soup.  And generally fresh supermarket soup rather than homemade soup as well, the point being to have a night off from kitchen duties and to have a low point evening meal to allow more flexibility during the day.  Which is nice.

But we keep coming back to the simple fact that most of the meals that we like to cook and eat are a bit pointy.  And we don't really want to compromise at dinnertime which can sometimes be the absolute highlight of the day. So, we're back to hunger...the only other solution being that I could get off my wobbly arse and earn some activity points to supplement my daily allowance (this, like Scott Mills winning Strictly this year is unlikely to happen.  Sorry, Scott).

I begin to wonder, incidentally, if I am just plain greedy.  I never thought so but I'm noticing an increasing number of people on the WW message boards who claim that they cannot possibly eat all their points and they cannot believe how much FOOD they can eat and still lose weight and they don't want to eat a chocolate bar for the sake of it.  When I see posts like this, while grimly drinking tea and trying to "fill up" on an apple it makes me want to throw something (possibly the apple) at the computer screen.  Perhaps they should make this recipe for their tea?

I’m going to share this with you anyway, and will no doubt cook and eat it again because it is delicious and probably worth a few hunger pangs.  Plus, it was a dish that D first cooked for me many years ago when we were newly living together, so it is something I associate with youth and romance.  Not two words you often hear applied to tuna. 

When I was looking at the ingredients list, I thought it doesn’t read as if it should work…too many flavours all vying for attention.  It somehow does though.  I love it. 


2 tuna steaks
Zest and juice of half a lime
Tsp of dried thyme
1/2 tsp of black peppercorns, crushed
1/4 tsp of salt
Tsp olive oil

2 cucumbers
Tbsp Dijon mustard
Tbsp coarse mustard
60ml olive oil
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
Shallot, finely chopped
Tsp fresh dill, minced

110g (raw weight) wild rice (to accompany)

Serves 2, 20 pro points per portion

First of all we are going to salt our cucumbers to draw the water out.  Take a potato peeler and reduce them both to long, slender ribbons (hence the spaghetti of the title).  Place in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt ad set aside for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile, combine the lime zest, thyme, pepper and salt in a bowl.  Brush the tuna steaks with olive oil and then coat with the spice mix.  

You could also prepare the dressing for the cucumber; combine the mustards in a bowl, add the maple syrup and then gradually whisk in the olive oil until you have a loose dressing.  Stir through the dill and shallot and season to taste.

When ready to serve, bring a non stick frying pan up to a high heat.  While this is warming up, rinse the cucumber ribbons to get rid of excess salt, and then wring out.  It won't be bone dry by any means, but you should be able to squeeze out a decent amount of water.  Add to the dressing and toss well.

Place the tuna steaks in the hot pan and sear for 1 minute on each side.  Pour over the lime juice while it is still in the hot pan and allow it to bubble down to almost nothing.  Serve, with the dressed cucumber and some wild rice.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

An unofficial Weigh In

Tonight I am eschewing my WW meeting in order to go to book group (we're discussing Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" this month which I think is FAB).  It would have been a bit of a struggle to get to both and when I hopped on the scales this morning the decision was made when I saw a home scales gain of 2.2lbs.  Yes, friends, I officially wussed out.

It was always going to be tough to get a result this week, what with being away for a couple of nights but I'm not going to make any excuses - I used it as a licence to veer off track even when I was home and that was daft.  Hopefully this week that will all get turned around.  No, strike that, no hopefully about it.  Onwards!