Brilliant brunches part 2: the veggie sizzler!

Hello Sunday. Hello hangover. Hello brunch. It has to be brunch because I got up way too late for it to be considered breakfast, in fact brunch may be pushing it a bit. But who cares, this recipe works as breakfast, brunch, lunch and tea- it is whatever you want it to be, a kind of lap dancer of a recipe but without being derogatory to women. As I usually eat a lot of meat- generally choosing protein over processed carbs, I sometimes need a break, so I have been looking up veggie brunch options. Finding high protein breakfasts that don’t include eggs is pretty difficult, and I’ll admit I took the easy route with this one, but I will be bringing you veggie, non-egg options as my search for the perfect brunch continues. A lot of breakfasts also contain protein powder which slightly freaks me out. I am not sure why, but it doesn’t seem like a real food. However, I may just bite the bullet- after all there is a new and unused blender in the kitchen, so I might have to get my blend on at some point. As usual this recipe is a confabulation (what a brilliant word) of recipes I have found, so I claim no originality. This is also a great recipe for variation- and using up your vegetables because I think you can add pretty much anything you like. If you are in need of a meat hit, then a couple of slices of bacon on the top would be perfect.

Recipe for 1:

1/2 pepper de-seeded and cut into chunks. I used an orange one, but colour here (as in life) is irrelevant so use your favourite.

1/2 red onion cut into chunks

75 grams (approx.) of button mushrooms cut in half

1 egg

1/2 avocado cut into slices

Oil- your choice. I use Fry Light coconut oil.

Method:

Spray a small frying pan with oil and put over a medium heat. Add the pepper, red onion, and mushrooms. Turn on the grill to a high heat. Stir the veg around the pan. Drink coffee (this isn’t in the recipe but it is what I did). When the veg is softening and starting to brown, crack your egg into a cup. I used a wine glass because I like to pretend I am classy, and more practically, it is currently the only type of glass in my kitchen. Make a space in the pan by pushing all the veg to the side, like a little amphitheatre of vegetables. If you want to keep your yoke whole, carefully add the egg to the space you have made. If you are like me, drop egg into the pan from a height and then swear loudly as the yoke spreads itself about. Let the egg cook for a couple of minutes and place the pan under the grill until the egg is cooked to your liking. I have a horror of wobbly egg white- it makes me gag and the dish uneatable so I always ere on the side of caution. This usually results in a less than runny yoke, but I don’t mind that. You might. It’s your food so enjoy your eggs as you like. Empty the pan onto a plate and serve with sliced avocado- if you like, or top with grated cheese, or bacon, or all three.

 

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Braising Brilliance

Last night I did a little braising. I have a feeling braising might mean different things in different parts of the world, as words often do. I am flummoxed by recipes that contain a cup of this and a 1/4 cup of that. I have lots of different sized cups, but clearly America only has one size of cup for everybody.

So by braising I mean putting everything in the pan, covering everything in liquid and leaving it to simmer into deliciousness. This method of cooking has clear advantages- one pan means less washing up, once you have chopped everything up and put it in the pan you don’t have to do anything except wait, you can vary your braising ingredients almost infinitely, ingredients should be chunky so no finesse required.

Last night I decided to keep it pretty simple. Chicken and herbs with some veggies.

Recipe:

3 chicken breasts cut into fairly hefty chunks

Red onion in chunks

4 cloves of garlic sliced

3 tsps. dried oregano

3 tsps. dried basil

4 bay leaves

1 chicken stock cube

Enough water to almost cover the ingredients- if you are feeling decadent then swap some of the water for wine

Vegetables of your choice- I added peas and greens

Method:

Prepare all the ingredients. Put in a large pan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through. You can have this as saucy as you like (Oo! Er!) If you want a dryer recipe then add less water at the start or simmer for longer- the meat won’t dry out as it is poaching itself in liquids and it’s own juices. A soupier type serving will obviously take less time and you could soak up the lovely juices with rice (carby) or cauliflower rice (carby but low calorie, and also paleo). You don’t need to serve it with anything though really, it’s a meal in itself.

Eat.

I told you it was simple. And it is delicious. You don’t need to add any oil because at no point are you frying anything, so it is also pretty low calorie.

Variations:

Use a different meat e.g. pork (change the herbs- fennel seeds go really well with pork, as does sliced fennel and celery).

Instead of onions use leeks.

Different veg. What have you got in the fridge that needs using up? This is a great dish for rescuing veg that might have to be thrown out on the morrow. Stick them in.

Veggie versions: No meat (obvs) and up the veg content- most veg respond well to braising and you can drop them in and walk away. Bulk it up using lentils or chickpeas.

Keeping it paleo- don’t add lentils or peas, only vegetables from the approved list.

Poor Science Rant

Good morning world! Happy Saturday! It is the weekend and today I will be trying out some of the brunch recipes I have found during the week. Last night I went to the gym for the first time this year and it was great. A little bit late to the New Year Resolution admittedly but the flu did kind of kill me over Christmas and then it just wouldn’t go away, but in the end, enough was enough and back I went. I did a good little cardio session to get back into things, but I am really looking forward to some good old weight training sessions in the coming week. OK, that is the diary section over.

Rant Ahoy! I have been reading a lot about the paleo diet this week. I like the basic principles- lean meat, vegetables, fat is ok, no diary, and avoiding processed food. It’s a difficult plan if you are vegetarian as most dishes contain meat, and some of them, a LOT of meat. However, that isn’t my problem. I think I have two (main) problems:

Problem 1 (not that important in the grand scheme of things): Just because you can make cakes using paleo approved ingredients doesn’t mean it is ok. I am pretty sure cavemen weren’t hanging out in caves making cupcakes with coconut flour and drinking blueberry mojitos. Isn’t that just cheating? I mean, yes, most people like cake, and I am suspicious of people who don’t like mojitos, but mojitos contain a fuckton of sugar…is ‘natural’ sugar any better? Surely you have to process the coconut a little bit to get the sugar (and the oil for that matter). Stuffing yourself full of sugar can’t be good whether it is from a coconut or classic tate and lyle processed. Anyway, I understand that we all need treats (my fridge currently contains the very definitely not paleo kitkat), but to claim your paleo treats are better than my kit kats seems disingenuous at best.

Problem 2: The science. Apart from the fact paleo diet clearly doesn’t reflect what cavemen were eating- bacon? Clearly a product from farming times. Wine? Vinoculture is by definition farming. I understand some of these things fall under the 85:15 principle- 85% caveman, 15% not caveman, but also not whatever you like. Wine is fine, kidney beans will probably kill you and must under no account be eaten ever. Why? I read some articles, published under the auspices of science. But the scientific arguments for not eating kidney beans on the first page made me want to scream.

  • If rats eat kidney beans in great enough quantities they will die. OK. But if I drink water in great enough quantities I will die. Arguing that we should not consume something because in large quantities it is poisonous is blatantly ridiculous. Especially when it is poisonous to another species (extrapolating from animal studies to humans will require another blog). Foods that are recommended on the paleo diet become poisonous in great enough quantities. Poor science!
  • Kidney beans can be poisonous if not cooked properly. Oh No! So can chicken! This is not a reason not to eat kidney beans.
  • The nutrients in kidney beans are not as good as those in meat. Ok, this may be true, but by this point I wasn’t sure I wanted to trust anything else, when the previous two arguments (outlined in great detail in the article, not by me) are clearly facetious at best, and utter bullshit at worst. However, even if our bodies don’t process kidney beans as efficiently, it doesn’t mean we can’t access those nutrients stored in the bean.

The reasoning on kidney beans also excludes peas, lentils and peanuts. Although I don’t think anybody has ever died from eating an undercooked pea, and they are tasty and green and they go really well with bacon, so it seems a real shame to exclude them. Scientific communication needs to be clear and accurate, there are enough people pedalling bullshit and w’woo’ regarding diets and healthy living, and some of it is downright dangerous. Anti-vaxxers I am looking at you. To see such poor arguments presented in what purports to be a scientific paper makes me want to cry. And also kill. Still, the cynical part of me says, it probably sells a lot of books, as people reading it suddenly realise all their health problems could be solved by not eating peas. But how do I not eat peas they cry? Don’t worry, there are 6 books advertised next to the article to help you rid your diet of evil.

There was only one bit, right at the end, I agreed with, and it wasn’t really sciency- if it makes you feel bad then don’t eat it. Simples!

Ginuary

As the month draws to a close, for many it will be the end of a long dry month, alcohol free to recover from the excesses of Christmas and New Year. I am not going to argue about the health benefits, charity fund raising or any of the other things associated with dry January. I am simply going to introduce the concept of Ginuary. Gin has a long history and a bad reputation- the gin addled mothers of the slums of Victorian England made that so (see Hogarth). It was cheap, plentiful and it annihilated reality for a good few hours. Considering the reality of the Victoria slum, I am not sure that it is so surprising people wanted out. It also tasted so foul that people were required to invent cocktails in order to knock back enough of the stuff to pass out without their eyes exploding. Of course, middle class laudanum (morphia and wine) parties were so much more the thing for getting elegantly wasted and addicted to a drug that had the added bonus of helping you fit into that 18 inch waisted corset. No wonder swooning was such a popular past time amongst young ladies. Back to the gin. In recent years, not only has gin been rehabilitated, it has become positively hipster, with a proliferation of artisan gins, and knocking back a g&t made with Gordons assures your place back in the slums. I like gin in its many brands, and in many different drinks. So being the lovely person that I am, I bought a monkey a gin cocktail making class and a spare ticket for someone to accompany the monkey. It wasn’t spare, it was for me.

We went to the bar with no name (I told you it was hipster) which fortunately does have an address (69 Colebrook Row, Islington, London) which usually operates as a speakeasy style bar serving classic and ‘interesting’ cocktails. I can’t say what it is like in the evening as I have never been- it is extremely popular but you are only allowed in if there are seats available and I always forget to book. This seating policy makes sense when you go in and realise the bar is the size of your living room, if you have a small living room. I was expecting it to be like wine tasting- a splash in a glass and you’re done. I was wrong.

Starting with the history of gin and a taste of ginevra (the base) and actual gin, the barman in charge set out the programme. They would make several classic gin cocktails at the bar and we would taste them. If the cocktail tickled our taste buds then we could go up to the bar and make our own. No limits. Well hello! A lovely lemony Tom Collins was up first, and so was I… Several drinks later they started keeping it simple by mixing up several classic martinis including the olive martini (put an olive in it), the lemon martini (add lemon peel) and the pickled onion martini (put a pickled onion it- like alcoholic pickled onion monster munch). My favourite was the olive martini, which didn’t surprise as I do love a dirty martini (essentially gin with a splash of olive juice). For those of you wondering, Martini the spirit is actually a vermouth, and martini the cocktail is vermouth and gin. The more vermouth you add, the wetter your martini. For an extremely dry martini, you add a bit of vermouth to an ice cold glass, swirl it around and toss the vermouth in the sink, fill the glass with gin, and you’re done. I told you it was simple, so simple a baby could make it- convenient for the Victorians who used to give their babies gin to stop them doing inconvenient things like crying.

My find of the class was somewhat unexpected- the Negroni. As we learned it was named after the Count Negroni who upon finding his usual cocktail just wasn’t quite thing went to his personal bartender to complain. Not only did his cocktail only contain a measley two types of booze (Campari and Martini Rosso). it was being topped up with the distinctly non-alcoholic soda water. Thinking hard on how to deal with both of these issues, the solution became obvious. Replace the soda water with gin!

So here is the recipe:

Glass with cubed ice

25ml Campari

25ml Martini Rosso

25 ml gin

Pour each shot into the glass in the order listed. Stir (definitely not shaken).

Drink.

Boozy as hell but highly recommended if you like things on the bitter side of life. A bit like me.

Brilliant Brunches: meaty, veggie, savoury and sweet

IMG_9903[1]Good morning! I say that with a smile which is highly unusual. If I speak at all in the morning it is only in curse words. Until I leave the flat. After that I say good morning like I really want you to go to hell, very quickly. So what is different about today? I am working from home which means I have had time to drink coffee in bed, read a little bit of a just re-issued classic crime novel, and really wake myself up by setting off the smoke alarm while grilling bacon. The secret to the last one is to buy really good bacon with no added water. While being surprisingly difficult to find in local supermarkets, it ensures your bacon stays the same size when it is cooked as it was in the packet, it gets properly crispy, and under a hot grill produces enough smoke to set off the fire alarm ensuring a hot shot of adrenaline that will wake you up quicker than a double espresso. However, if you prefer a more relaxed start to the day, I recommend keeping a closer eye on the bacon while it is under the grill.

As brunch is one of my favourite meals of the day, when I have time, I have decided that it really deserves some attention. I hesitate to put up a recipe for my brunch today because it is so simple that I don’t really think of it as a recipe, but there must be some more exciting ideas out there. So for the next couple of weeks I am going to be devoting my eating energies to wonderful brunchey foods. The great thing is that brunch can be breakfast, lunch or tea (dinner in some places). I only had a full English in the evening until I was about 20. I didn’t even really recognise it as a breakfast option. So coming up will be eggy recipes, spicy recipes, veggie recipes, sweet recipes, recipes that don’t deserve the title because it is just arranging food on a plate. I am looking forward to eating it all.

Anyway, this morning I grilled two slices of smoked bacon (no added water). Melted some frozen spinach in a pan, added two beaten eggs mixed with a splash of skimmed milk and scrambled it all together. I use a big frying pan for scrambled eggs, or a small one for omelettes. Put the heat up high and stir the eggs around the pan in languid movements, like a louche film star. A minute later and you have scrambled eggs. Veggie version- do not on any account grill the bacon. Add a creamy cheese like ricotta (low calorie, high protein) with the eggs for super creamy yumminess.

PS- always make your own. Nobody can ever scramble your eggs to perfection. If you find someone who can, chain them to the cooker in case they decide making you perfect scrambled eggs isn’t their life work. Because it should be.

Mexican Veggie Burgers

Today I am absolutely bubbling over with recipe ideas- my shopping list for the week covers several pages, even though I clearly can’t eat it all at once. I decided I would make some veggie treats tonight. I usually try to eat high protein, lo-carb which usually means every day is a meat feast, but even I need a break from steak. Besides which, I was asked for more veggie recipes after putting veggie options in my chorizo stew recipe, and I am shit at saying no. Sometimes. Well, to people I like anyway, so I thought I would look for veggie burgers and try them out. After looking at lots of recipes, I put together an amalgamation- copying one person is plagiarism, copying from many is research (I think this is how recipe development works anyway). However, I couldn’t quite ignore the lo-carb thing, so I massively reduced the amount of breadcrumbs advised by various recipes, and ignored the suggestion to serve on a bread roll, or barm as it is more properly called. For those of you who think everything should be made from scratch, look away now as the recipe includes shop bought salsa and shop bought breadcrumbs. I know! I imagine this will cause seismic quakes in the food world, unknown since Delia recommended ready mashed potato. However, some days you just can’t be arsed. And I ran to the supermarket for those ingredients. I ran. In the rain. And then I ran home again. Two miles of running. In the rain. It was at this point I realised that for someone writing a food blog I have the worst equipped kitchen ever. I had to buy a tin opener today. I don’t have a kettle or a toaster, but I do have a nespresso machine. Priorities! All my shit is in storage, from where I should rescue it, but I haven’t yet. So I am trying not to buy anything, but a tin opener? I had too. Nevertheless, necessity is the mother of invention so I improvised with what I had, but you might choose the easier option of having kitchen utensils.

I digress. Mexican veggie burgers are delicious. They are much improved by the addition of salsa- I couldn’t leave the shop salsa be so I added some things, and then used lettuce scoops (a fancy name for lettuce leaves with stuff in). Serving up my eyes were much bigger than my belly and I only ate about half, but left overs for the morrow is never a bad thing. So, I shall stfu (as I believe the kids used to type) and share the recipe.

For the burgers

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans

2 tbsp of shop bought salsa (I am sure you can make your own if it is that kind of day)

50g breadcrumbs (does anyone make their own? Except when eating toast when it is inevitable)

Cumin 2 tsps.

Dried chilli flakes to taste (I should have used more I think instead of a conservative tsp)

1 egg beaten

What to do

Drain and rinse your kidney beans and put into a bowl. Use a potato masher (if you have one, a fork and effort if not) and crush. If using a fork do this in batches for easier crushing. Add the breadcrumbs, the salsa, the tsps. of cumin and chilli and swirl around the bowl with a fork. Stick the grill on high. Pour in the egg into the kidney bean mixture and give it a proper stir so that everything is all mixed together. Put a tinfoil sheet on the grill pan. Now run your hands under the cold tap and don’t dry your hands. This is important or your hands will be covered in sticky bean mixture and nobody wants that. Put your hand in the bowl and grab about 1/6 of the mixture, shape into a burger shape and place on tinfoil sheet. Repeat until you have six evenly (ish) sized burgers- you might want to do the water thing a couple of times to prevent sticking and bean mixture waste. Place burgers under the grill. Turn after about 5 minutes or when you smell burning. The underside will probably still be a bit sticky but that’s ok. Cook until crispy. If you are a worried about whether they are cooked in the middle, stick a clean sharp knife into a burger, and it should come out clean.

Salsa

Rest of the shop bought salsa

1 avocado chopped into chunks (choose your own chunk size, I am not omniscient)

1/4 red onion in chunks (see avocado advice)

1 fresh red chilli (in little bits)

1 small tin sweetcorn (drained)

2 plum tomatoes cut into chunks (see onion advice)

What to do

Tip the rest of the shop bought salsa into a bowl. Add all the other ingredients. Taste.

Serving up

Put some lettuce on a plate. Top with salsa. Top with burger. Eat elegantly with knife and fork or eat messily with fingers. Use a barm (bread roll) if you like.

Y bueno as they say in Mexico. At least I think so, I was really jet lagged when I was there, and there was the visit to the tequila and mescale museum….

Cheeky Chorizo Stew with veggie variations

This is my version of chorizo and tomato stew. I say my version because I am not sure where the line between stealing, copying and plagiarism should be drawn. It isn’t exactly a recipe I have read elsewhere, but an amalgamation of lots of recipes and what was in the fridge when I started cooking. Chorizo is delicious spicy and warming and I feel like I discovered it quite late in life, which is unfortunate. It is a great base for flavouring stews- you could also add chicken to this to up the protein, if that’s your thing (do it before you add onion and garlic).  You do not need to add any extra oil as chorizo comes ready full of flavoured fat that will leak out as you heat it. Perfect piece of spicy sausagey goodness, especially in the chilly times of the year. If you do the veggie version you will probably want to add a bit of oil to the pan right at the start.

Chorizo ring (225g or nearest offer) skinned and sliced into chunks.

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 red onion cut into chunks

1 red pepper cut into chunks. I also added half a green pepper because it was in the fridge

100g of cherry tomatoes chopped in half- optional. Again they were in the fridge so in they went

400g chopped tinned chopped tomatoes (although mine were in a carton, I don’t know why)

1 chicken stock cube or similar (I used a Knorr stockpot)

Salt to taste

Dried chilli flakes to taste

Frozen spinach- a couple of blocks

Find yourself a good big frying pan. Put on a low-ish heat and add the chorizo slices. Fry them until they are crispy on one side and all the lovely paprika scented oil has oozed all over the pan. Turn the slices over and add the garlic and the onion. Fry for a few minutes and then add the peppers and the cherry tomatoes. Fry for another few minutes until the onions have softened and then pour in the tinned tomatoes and add the stock cube. Fill the tomato tin (or carton with water, or wine) and add it to the pan. Stir the whole thing together and sprinkle with salt and chill flakes. Drop in some frozen spinach and stir again. Simmer until everything is a bit soft and squidgy. Eat.

Serving suggestions:

Add a poached egg on top: my preferred method of egg poaching is Delia’s. Put about an inch of water in a frying pan and heat until tiny bubbles appear on the bottom. Add the egg (minus the shell obvs) and cook for 1 minute (be precise!). Then turn off the heat and walk away for ten minutes. I find the walking away bit quite important, otherwise I am too tempted to prod the eggs with a spoon. After ten minutes, scoop the eggs out of the pan and rest the spoon on some kitchen roll to drain away water. Put on top of food and eat straight away. You can make several eggs at once, depending on the size of the pan, and it is pretty fool proof. My top tip! Always use fresh eggs as they will hold their shape much better in the water and your egg won’t look like a deranged jellyfish orgy. The fresh egg thing also works for fried eggs, but boiled eggs are better with older eggs, they are so much easier to peel.

Bacon chips: fry or grill bacon until super crispy. Chop or break into pieces. Sprinkle on your stew.

Veggie version: instead of chorizo use chickpeas and add a couple of tsps. od smoked paprika powder (sweet or spicy is up to you). Start with the onions and garlic, and add the chickpeas at the same time as the tinned tomatoes. Don’t add bacon chips.

Carb it up: add chunks of sweet potato or butternut squash with the peppers. Or serve the whole thing over rice.

Calorie counting carbs: serve with cauliflower rice.

Bloody Mary

Not the queen. She is a fascinating woman in herself, and the part she played and was played in history deserves books. Many have been written. Despite the bloodiness, it was a time where two women were vying for power, playing their respective cards in a world who saw women as pathetic, weak and incompetent. Has much changed? However, this post is not about that. It is about the drink. The delicious drink I discovered today. I was at Gorilla in Manchester having brunch when I announced I had never had a bloody mary. Shocked faces all around. So we ordered them. Extra spicy. And crikey my goodness did I enjoy it; peppery tomato sauce with a super charge shot of vodka topped with some of my favourite things- celery stick and delicious salty olives. Anyway, when I get round to it, I have decided I will look for the best recipe I can, and share it. IMG_9892

Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

This week I have needed comfort food. A lot. What is more comforting than spicy meatballs in a tangy tomato sauce? Apart from burying my face in a bag of chips n gravy (northern delicacy much underrated by the south and therefore not available in London), not much. Chocolate? Hello cliché! I am not Bridget Jones. Wine? Well yes, but you can have wine with meatballs so it’s a double win. For me to find food really comforting (yes it is emotional) the actual process is as important as the meal- I like cooking and quick cooking just isn’t as good as making stuff from scratch with multiple ingredients. I do have limits though, if it takes 8 hours then it is a weekend only thing, probably a long weekend, more likely a two week holiday. Anyway, meatballs fit my needs perfectly this week. If that sentence sounds rude then welcome to my world- my 12 year old immature self is sniggering. A lot. Comforted already.

So, meatballs! The recipe is loosely based on a 5:2 fast day recipe. Google lo lo meatballs for the original. You should probably do that anyway, they use cavolo nero, the sexiest cabbage, whereas I dropped a bit of frozen spinach into the tomato sauce.

Meatball Recipe (about 4 portions depending on hunger and what you serve it with)

Pork mince 500g

1/2 red onion finely chopped

dried chilli flakes to taste

enough whisked egg to bind (I always find a whole egg too much)

bit of salt

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, get over how disgusting it feels, and combine by hand. This makes about 16 balls. Make balls and put under the grill. Wait about 10 minutes and then turn over.

Tomato Sauce:

400g tinned tomatoes

50g fresh tomatoes (I used cherry this time because it was what I had, but any kind will do)

Two tsps. of harissa paste (the food ingredient of the gods if they existed)

1 tsp oregano

As much fresh garlic as you can stand (minced)- I used about 7 but it is a kick

1/2 red onion finely chopped (conveniently using up the other half)

red wine (optional, the more you put in the sauce, the less there is to drink) Or you can add about 200ml of water.

spinach ( I threw in a few balls of frozen spinach, but fresh would be fine)

Saute onion and garlic. Add tinned tomatoes and fresh tomatoes, harissa paste and oregano. Splosh red wine as liberally as you like in the sauce or in a glass. Pour self glass of wine. Simmer the sauce. Sit onIMG_9887 the sofa with wine and drink. Panic because you forgot meatballs. Turn meatballs over and stir sauce. Once meatballs are cooked add to sauce and stir. Serve by themselves, with rice, with pasta, with cauliflower rice, with wine. Eat, enjoy and don’t visit your vampire friends if you are as free handed with the garlic as I am.

Lomo Saltado

I first encountered Lomo Saltado in Cuzco in Peru. In the fantastic food market there are stalls set out like a food court- what seems like several hundred school kitchen cooks all selling exactly the same thing for exactly the same price. I think you choose by finding the one that has space on the bench in front of the stall. Not knowing any better that is pretty much what we did. Some people might go for ceviche, many do, and I am assured it is amazing, but I don’t like fish. At all. So for me it was all about Lomo Saltado- Peruvian beef stir fry topped with your choice of avocado or a fried egg, plus rice and salad for the bargain price of about 90p. You will only need to eat once on Lomo Saltado day. Perfect carb loading for the Inca trail- that was my excuse anyway! Usually my food philosophy is quite anti-carb- no pasta, no rice, no bread, no potato.Whatever the reason, I find they make me feel bloated and a bit rubbish, although my body seems happy with carbs in vegetable forms such as cauliflower. This philosophy is impossible in Peru, the country that grows over 1000 types of potato and wants to include most of them in every meal plus sides of rice and plantains. I digress. Lomo Saltado! While searching through various paleo blog sites (useful because of the anti-grain arguments which means lots of none of the things I try to avoid) I found a recipe for Lomo Saltado on paleOMG (a website full of lovely and lively recipes that I will be using again and again, so take a look- for this one search under beef) and I immediately went to the supermarket to purchase all the ingredients. My version wasn’t totally paleo (from what I understand) because my local supermarket fails to stock coconut aminos for some reason. Fortunately, after a good google, I found out that coconut aminos are a paleo substitute for soy sauce. Next time I go to Waitrose I have no doubt I will find coconut aminos in their essential range, but until then soy sauce will have to do. I didn’t have garlic powder either, but I did have actual garlic, so I figured I would be ok. I didn’t make the aji either. There is a magimix food blender in the flat, but it is still in the box which is currently acting as a table and unpacking it seemed much more of an arse than just buying an avocado. I also don’t know what flank steak is (America?) so I used cheap as chips sandwich steak which added an authentic chewiness to the finished dish. If you like rice, have it with rice. If you are like me, try cauliflower rice. I missed out the sweet potato too because I forgot to buy one. Despite these bastardisations, it was absolutely delicious and I highly recommend it (and the original version). In fact, sod it. Don’t cook it. Go to Peru, hike the Inca trail (book months in advance, this is not for the impulsive) go to the market in Cuzco and sit on a massively uncomfortable wooden bench and get the school dinner lady of your choice to cook it for you. And celebrate your achievements with pisco sours- lots and lots of pisco sours. They help with the altitude…sort of.