Spicy green chicken and cashew nut salad

So I was going to follow someone else’s recipe for buffalo chicken salad (paleOMG’s recipe to give the credit) because it sounded delicious, but when I read it again it said minced carrot. I don’t know why but this put me off, well I do know. I don’t really like grated carrot, and that is what minced carrot sounds like, so I checked the fridge. The fridge is full of green things, specifically, avocado, celery, cucumber, spring onions and little gem lettuce. Plus, there is spicy mayo that I made at the weekend, and there is always cashew nuts in the cupboard. Obviously I had chicken because I was planning to make buffalo chicken, and so the salad was born.

For two:

I had skinless and boneless chicken thighs. I prefer the flavour of chicken thighs to chicken breast, plus it is usually cheaper, but these came from Waitrose, so obviously I took out a mortgage in order to pay for them. You could use left over chicken, or ready cooked chicken.

Heat some coconut oil in a big frying pan, then roll the thighs out flat and place them in the pan. Sizzle until cooked through- turning them over once helps. Once cooked remove from the pan and place on kitchen roll to absorb some grease. I don’t like too much grease in my food. If you do like grease, then feel free not to place on kitchen roll.

At this point I added some parboiled sweet potato and parsnips to the pan because I like them.

Slice the celery, cucumber, avocado and spring onions and throw them in a bowl. This requires no skill or artistry, unless you are feeling flair then you could juggle the ingredients (juggling optional).

Slice the slightly cooled chicken and throw in the bowl with the green things.

Add as much mayo as you like. If your mayo is not already spicy (because you did not get a bit free and easy with the cayenne at the weekend like I did- sounds more exciting than it is), then add some heat with a few squirts of sriracha or a sprinkling of the aforementioned cayenne.

Lay out some little gem lettuce leaves on a plate. Fill each lettuce scoop with the chicken/green/mayo mix. Sprinkle with cashews, or not. Add the parsnips and sweet potato on the side, if you know, you made them earlier. If not, don’t.

Eat.

If you want to make your own mayo then check my blog, or google whole30 mayo.

 

 

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Whole30 approaches…

It is getting closer. I have read a lot about how bad I am going to feel next week: headaches, nausea, desperately tired…but I am still going to do it. I want to see what happens when I change the way I treat my body. Some of the changes will be insignificant. I am not going to miss milk and sugar in my coffee – this seems a BIG BIG thing for some people. But I will miss wine. Oh god I will miss wine. And gin…

So to make the transition less painful I am gathering as many compliant recipes as I can, and seeing if I enjoy them. Tonight I made pork and smoked paprika burgers with red pepper and radish salsa. As I won’t be doing anything else during this whole30 lark, I might as well discover new recipes. And blog…I’ll be blogging about the food I am eating and how I am feeling. And the work outs I am doing. Wow! I am boring myself. I’ll have to find some other stuff to do…

So tonight…red pepper and radish salsa. Super simple, super low calorie, super low carb and totally whole30 compliant.

Ingredients:

  • 10 radishes (approx.)
  • 20 baby plum tomatoes (approx.)
  • 3/4 red pepper
  • 1-2 red chillis
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice 1/2 lime

Method:

Chop up the radishes, tomatoes, pepper and chilli. Place in a bowl. Add the amount of salt that you like. Squeeze over the lime juice. Chill for a little while. Serve.

 

 

My favourite marinade in the whole world

Photos to be found on my instagram account: experimentalmonkeyfeeder

I have been playing around with marinades recently. Some of these have come up on the blog like the teriyaki chicken wings, and others have not. They failed to be delicious enough to write about, but what I noticed is that every recipe I read seems to need certain ingredients adding if they aren’t on the list. So I thought I would just make a marinade out of my favourite ingredients and see what happened. And it was FUCKING AWESOME!

So I obviously need to share it. But before I do, a little bit about why I love marinades in the first place.

  • they taste really good;
  • they are easily personalised;
  • they are economical;
  • they enhance cheap cuts of meats;
  • you can put them in the fridge and forget about them;

So basically, a marinade is awesome. I used this one with a rack of pork ribs, but spare ribs would work brilliantly, as would chicken wings, and if you wanted to do a stir fry, then instead of using it as a marinade, make it up and use it as a sauce (that’s my veggie version).

This hasn’t come from any particular recipe, just a build of flavours that I enjoy, and pretty much always have in the fridge. If you like one more than the other then feel free to adjust the measures- to be honest, I never measure when making this. I just pour. Or use whatever is left in the fridge.

Ingredients:

100ml coconut aminos (soy sauce if not paleo)

100ml water

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

4 cloves garlic minced

1 red chilli sliced (I remove the seeds)

2 tsps. lemongrass paste

1 thumb ginger grated

1/2 red onion

Method:

Put the liquids in a bowl. Add the spices. Chop the red onion finely and then place in an sieve (or a square of muslin if you have that kind of shit around) and squeeze the onion until the juice comes out and goes into the marinade- it will be delicious. Then put the onion in the bowl too. It will now smell pretty pungent but go with it. Add your meat of choice and leave for however much time you have available. I left the ribs in the marinade for a few hours and then baked them for about an hour.

They were amazing.

Alternatively, toss in some veg, heat up a heavy pan and fry the shit out of it.

 

Baking Paleo

This is a new thing for me. I love baking but as the only person in the house who eats sweet treats it seems a bit of a waste of time, and spending hours macerating butter and sugar into a piece of deliciousness pretty much goes against all my food goals, so I haven’t done it. I have a problem with the paleo cheat idea- that as long as the ingredients are paleo it is ok. As lots of paleo writers remind us, sugar is sugar, whether it is from a coconut or an apple or sugar, so creating recipes that try to bypass the limits of the paleo diet to create cake seem to me a little bit disingenuous. I’m not even strictly paleo, I am drinking a glass of wine as I write this, and wine is a product of the agricultural revolution. A great product, but not paleo. Then again, fermented fruit probably got the occasional caveman a bit tipsy, like elephants do when they eat fermented fruit. However, I have been looking at recipes that seem to stay within the spirit of paleo and still hit that sweet spot.

So, banana cocoa brownies it is. I can’t even call this a recipe- it is so simple!

Take 3 bananas, half a cup of almond butter (or nut butter of your choice) and a quarter cup of cocoa powder. Place in the food processor. Blitz. Poor into a baking tray and cook at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and cut into squares.

Done. You’re welcome.

PS. half a cup is about 100g.

In praise of the omelette

“But Aunt Maureen makes smashing omelettes.”

“She makes smashing omelettes.” Poirot’s voice was happy. He sighed. “Then Hercule Poirot has not lived in vain,” he said. “It was I who taught your Aunt Maureen to make an omelette.”

And if omelettes make Poirot happy, then that is reason enough to heap praise upon them, however, there are a million and one reasons why the humble omelette deserves your consideration. The omelette crosses cultures without fear, it is a food universal, from the frittata, to the tortilla to the tamagoyaki it is almost infinite in its variety. Sweet or savoury, vegetarian or carnivore, suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be eaten hot or cold, as a main meal or an accompaniment, and is as simple or as complicated as you like. It’s really good for you:

  • a complete source of protein- all 8 essential amino acids we can’t synthesise and so must get from our diet;
  • Vitamins galore- D for absorbing calcium, B2 for energy metabolism, B12 for a healthy nervous system, A for vision, E for healthy skin, K for blood clotting;
  • Zinc, iron and copper for whatever those do.

Yet some people fear the omelette. So let’s start with the basics.

Good eggs: nice fresh eggs

The pan: choose a pan based on the intended size of your omelette. Go small if you are scared, big if you are Aunt Maureen. For a 2-3 egg omelette, go for 7-9 inches. And it should be round.

Oil: whatever your choice get one with a high frying point because you are going to make this pan so hot Lucifer would be uncomfortable.

The most basic of omelettes:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs

Told you it was basic. Some people like to complicate things by adding milk, but why bother?

Methods:

Beat your eggs. Well, take them out of the shell first but then beat them, with a fork, or a whisk. Then oil your pan and place it over a high heat. As hot as you dare- remember you are making Lucifer sweat. Once hell has called the fire brigade, pour your eggs into the pan. Tilt the pan until the eggs cover the bottom, they should be crackling happily. Once the bottom of the eggs has set, use a spatula to pull the eggs from the side of the pan to the middle and then tilt the pan to fill the space with more egg. You can tilt up to 90 degrees and it will all be fine. Once your omelette is pretty solid- there might still be a bit of gooey on the top, slide spatula underneath and fold the omelette in half. This will cook the gooey bit in the middle, and you can slide your lovely bit of eggy perfection onto a plate. Say hoorah!

And then you can top it with your favourite things- bacon, avocado, cheese, cooked meats, asparagus wrapped in parma ham, greek salad… Basically it is a base, like pizza or toast. In fact, in Spain you could slap it between two thick slices and call it lunch. Que bueno!

For some of you this is almost, but not quite, teaching you to suck eggs. So let’s take it to the next level, by which I mean some omelettes that I have enjoyed recently:

Chorizo and peppers: fry slices of chorizo until they ooze, then added chopped peppers. Fry until crispy. Add eggs and do the tilting thing.

Spinach and feta: wilt your spinach. Add your eggs and tilt and whirl. Crumble feta over the top and fold your omelette in half. Add crispy bacon for a carnivorous version.

Ham and mushrooms….wait! These are basically my favourite pizza toppings. Try out yours in a happy protein rich, low carb, paleo kind of way.

 

 

Super Stir Fry: it’s not really a recipe…

IMG_0061I wouldn’t usually blog about a stir fry. I always feel slightly disappointed when I am reading a recipe book and you get a recipe that is essentially basically a list of vegetables, you put them in a pan for a few minutes and then you have a meal. Sometimes the sauce is quite intricate, but then, who’s going to go out and specialist ingredients for a stir fry? Not me. Stir fries should be quick, easy and simple. They are the ultimate in healthy fast food, and brilliant when you have over bought veg, and you don’t really just want to watch it rot. Or you are allergic to waste. I had a fridge full of veg ready to go, and a desire to just get it done, but then I remembered the cashew nuts in the cupboard, and saw the cauliflower that was going to be riced, and I thought I don’t really want a dry stir fry but I do want cashew nuts and I do want stir fry, so I made a sauce. The easiest sauce ever, but so delicious I really want seconds. Really, really, but somebody else is expecting their share, so I am going to have coconut fudge instead. Paleo coconut fudge no less! Maybe that is what I should really be blogging about, but I didn’t make it.

Anyway, super stir fry (cheating as a food blog)

Ingredients (it really isn’t a recipe):

Vegetables you like. I used red cabbage, peppers, green beans, red onion and broccoli.

Cashew nuts.

Vegetable stock- about 250 ml.

Garlic.

Chilli. I used one red and one green.

Ginger.

Soy sauce (gluten free soy sauce if you like, or coconut aminos).

Coconut oil

Method:

Chop up all your vegetables. Put them to one side.

Slice the chilli, ginger and garlic. Use what you have or how much you would like in your stir fry.

Spray your wok with coconut oil and heat over a medium heat, add the cashew nuts and toast for a bit. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Stir around. Add stock and soy sauce to taste. Simmer until stock is reduced by about half, and then empty out the mixture into a bowl. Taste to check you like it.

Dry the pan and spray with more coconut oil. Throw in the vegetables and toss them about with gay abandon until a little browned and crispy. They should still be nice and firm. Pour over the cashew nut and spice mixture and stir through the veg until reheated.

Serve. I did mine with cauliflower rice.

Brilliant Brunches part 4: poached eggs, parma ham and asparagus

IMG_9976Waking up this morning to my online delivery of food was very pleasing. Even more so that the delivery guy carried it all upstairs for me instead of leaving it all in the lobby. My food cupboard is not full of herbs and spices, the fridge is full of gorgeous fresh food, and my mind is brimming with recipe ideas for the weekend. But first things first. Brunch! I made asparagus wrapped in parma ham earlier this week and I had a few left over. I have seen them used to dip in boiled eggs instead of toasty soldiers, making a breakfast locarb, low calorie and somehow quite luxurious. However, boiled eggs are a pain in the arse without egg cups if you want the full on dipping experience, and I don’t have any egg cups. I don’t like fried eggs, so poached it is. Poached eggs are a thing that used to scare me. Egg poaching pans with little cups in to hold your eggs never really worked for me (rubbery yet under-cooked eggs at the same time? Yuck!) and the whole whisking the water until it resembles a mini typhoon then dropping in the egg and whisking seems to require more hands then most of us are born with. And you can only do one at a time. And it often goes wrong. But, the solution is here! Thanks to the wonder woman that is Delia Smith, in her Cookery Course for Beginners she gives a fool proof method for poaching eggs. You can make as many as will fit in the pan at the same time, and after putting the egg in the pan, you have ten minutes to prepare the rest of your brunch. Perfect!

Method:

Fill a large frying pan with water so it is a bout 1 inch deep. Put on the hob and heat until you can see the bottom of the pan is lined with little bubbles. Crack the eggs into the pan and continue to cook for 1 minute. Delia says this bit has to be very precise, but a few seconds here and there really isn’t going to make much difference. Then turn of the heat and leave the eggs in the pan for another ten minutes. In the mean time, prepare the rest of your food. After ten minutes, scoop out your eggs using a slotted spoon or spatula, drain on a bit of kitchen roll and voila. Perfectly poached, perfectly healthy eggs.

I re-heated the asparagus wrapped in parma ham in another pan while the eggs were poaching and added a handful of cherry tomatoes chopped in half. Fry the tomatoes face down until they are a little charred.

Put all the ingredients on a plate and enjoy.

Feelgood Food

Today I wanted to work from home. I can’t. And sometimes your day is a fucker. Sometimes the whole week is a fucker. Forget duvet day, I want a duvet year. But those pesky kids won’t teach themselves. Bastards. But also I get paid to do it, and actually the time in the classroom is usually the best time. Today was a day full of meetings, but it was meetings with my students, who, quite frankly, are some of the most hilarious, insightful, cognitive, literal, sarcastic people I know. I am privileged to spend time with these young people each and every morning, no matter what headaches they might cause during the day. They are a joy to be with on an almost daily basis. Today that included my year 8 class, who are possibly the loudest, shoutiest, engaging, naughtiest, funniest students … at least they were today. Sometimes their inability to stop the constant stream of consciousness talking drives me nuts, but they do usually shut up when asked, and they are brilliantly manipulative- telling them off individually makes me feel like I am kicking a small puppy. Even though I know the puppy is armour plated, and has the memory of a goldfish when it comes to remembering there are consequences to acting like a twat. But there is something about their resistance to conforming that I love, even the ‘good girls’ have their own voice, and they are not afraid to shout down anybody who challenges them. Good!

However, sometimes a fucker of a day happens despite the happy. And that is when you need comfort food. Well I do. Because you know, food. It’s good. My go-to comfort food is roast chicken. But tonight it is just me, and roasting a whole chicken takes way too long for a hungry, impatient, hangry, over-thinking person. But chicken thighs roast beautifully and quickly (relatively). I love the fresh flavour of lemon, and there is something brilliantly indulgent about lusciously moist roast chicken, and the lemon cuts through the fat. Asparagus wrapped in parma ham is just fucking awesome. Salty, a little sweet, and fresh and green. And it is so simple.

Recipe:

Enough chicken thighs to fill you up (include skin and bone)

1 Lemon sliced (retain 1/3 unsliced)

Asparagus tips or spears

Parma ham

Coconut oil

Salt

Method:

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place chicken thighs on the tin foil lined baking tray and spray liberally with coconut oil (I used frylight). Sprinkle with salt.

Slice the lemon and place lemon slices on top of the chicken breasts. Put in the oven for about 45 minutes.

When the chicken is nearly ready, wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of parma ham. Spray your frying pan with coconut oil and place spears in the pan. Turn up the heat and cooked until the ham is crispy.

Plate up. Get a napkin or kitchen roll- this is finger food.

Enjoy. And eat the lemon. It will be charred but it is lemon intensified and caramelised and utterly delicious.

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.