- Fried Aubergine With Yoghurt Dressing – Sort of Guilt-free Pleasures
- Salmon and Tamarind-Flavoured Soba – Healthy Eating for Tuesday Night
- Grilled Sardines With Chilli, Lemon and Garlic – The Pros and Cons of Buying Little Fish
- Spicy Grilled Lamb Skewers – Introducing My Griddle Pan
- Blue Cheese Biscuits – A Classic Showstopper for Any Occasion
I’ve changed the way I look at diets, weirdly enough. I used to be one of those people who prefers not to eat when dieting, because everything would make me feel guilty. I used to think it’s good enough to survive on rice. And then of course, a week or so later, I would throw myself at the chocolate isle and wake up in a pile of wrappers and empty pizza boxes. Ha.
Not anymore though. I suddenly realised I actually love a lot of healthy foods – for example, I never realised that sushi isn’t a crime against humanity when you’re trying to lose weight. Not to mention lately I’ve been a total vegetable-maniac. So my diet is still going, and weirdly (apparently) you can already see some results.
I buy things like matzos, hummus, all kinds of fish, celery, eggs, tomatoes, peppers, mozzarella, wholemeal wraps and loads and loads and loads of green tea. Every time I get hungry between meals, I buy a small bag of mixed nuts, or a smoothie, or have a cup of green tea, and it totally works.
Anyway, I’m here to show you an example of a healthy dinner that is guilt-free but so damn good…
The gorgeous salmon steak with crispy skin really doesn’t need a lot of attention. The best thing is to salt generously the skin and place it into a hot pan with a little oil, skin down. In 2 minutes, the skin will be crispy.
I also love to leave the middle completely raw (and I mean really) – is that just me? I just turn it pink on the outside, and the inside is still juicy and raw. I love it.
The soba does make 50% of the pleasure though. Soba is a kind of noodle that is usually made from buckwheat wholly, sometimes mixed with flour – as long as you buy the buckwheat version, you can consume this guilt-free. Low in calories, it is absolutely delicious.
Mind you, a bit flavourless, so a bit of help is always good. In this case, I boiled the noodles until ready, and then I mixed it with some chopped green peppers, a dash of soy sauce and a teaspoon of tamarind paste. Heating it through just a little, the noodles take on the delicious taste and are a delight to eat.
So… low in calories and fat, but absolutely delicious… What are you waiting for, eh?
I don’t really buy fish. In the supermarkets fillets are quite expensive, and at the fishmonger’s they don’t really like to fillet your stuff. It takes too long and whatnot. I love a good salmon steak any day of the week, and I would be willing to give up my life for a last meal of a rare tuna steak. But do note, these don’t usually have bones at all.
Now sardines, on the other hand, have plenty. So many that in every half bite you take there will probably be at least three. But there are many reasons that speak for buying these babies none the less.
The obvious reason is that they’re cheap. I bought four average-size sardines, whole, for 85 pence. Less than a pound for dinner? Yes please. Another pro is that they’re extremely healthy – I’m not sure why, but that’s what the Internet says so it must be true…
Another unexpected pro: by the time you finish one fish, you’ll probably be half full already. With all the effort put into pulling away a bite, picking out the tiny scales and then finally getting to swallow it, trust me, two sardines will be enough…
So the cons. The main one for me is pretty much a pro too: and that’s all those tiny bones. I have severe paranoia of fish scales since I saw a friend of mine swallow a small bone when I was really young, and the scene terrified me. (But you know what? I’ve already told you that story here.)
Another personal reason against buying fish, especially whole, is that I have this fear that they’ll come to life. Weird, right? But with their eyes open and staring at me whilst I rub them with chilli and garlic freak me out. Once they’re in the oven I’m fine though.
So there’s that, you decide if it’s worth it. But if you do come by some whole sardines, here’s what I did to them.
For the taste:
2 whole chillies
2 large garlic cloves
Some fresh parsley if you have some
This recipe is pretty much taken from Jamie Oliver, but I didn’t have parsley for example.
Anyway, just slice your ingredients (except the lemon) and put them into a baking tray with some olive oil. Then in go the fish, and now you can make use of your half a lemon by squeezing the juice all over the fish. All that’s left is to toss it around so that the flavour gets everywhere, and in it goes at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.
You’ll know when it’s done, but if you want to look for something then look for the smell and colour. The fish’ll be bubbly and somewhat coloured, and if you try, you should be able to pull the flesh away really easily. Something like this:
Served with some boiled or mashed potatoes with an extra squeeze of lemon, these babies are really tasty. Whether it’s worth the effort, I’ll let you decide; but every now and again, I’d say it is.
I hope you’ve all now finished digesting your Christmas dinners and lunches and post-Christmas leftovers – I know I have, and now the shame kicks in. But just until I start my diet (yeah, right), here’s another party recipe that is a 100% winner, no doubt.
Ironically, I learnt this recipe from the maths teacher who got me out of high school (really). I mean, if it wasn’t for her, I probably would be worse off, but thanks to her brilliance (and patience), I managed to achieve a beautiful 60% on my final exam. Anyway, on one of our last lessons, she offered me a biscuit, and it was so good I had to have the recipe.
I make these biscuits every Christmas, and I’m not lying when I say that they are always the first to go. And this year was special, because they even turned out good-looking (not the picture above, unfortunately – I forgot to photograph the pretty ones. Yes, it’s true. Proof below.)
So here’s the recipe for the success-biscuits. Your ingredients:
300g flour (any kind)
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
3 tbsp milk
200g blue cheese – anything you fancy
So to start off with, mix the flour and butter together until they’re completely mixed. It will look like sand or bread crumbs. Once that’s done, add your wet ingredients (egg, milk) and mix – finally, crumble in the cheese. Mix this together until you have a dough that’s come together. The best thing now is to chill for half an hour.
I accidentally left it in the fridge for 2 hours. Woops.
Not that it’s bad for it, it’s just that it will need more time to warm up again so that you can work it. But thanks to my forgetfulness, I actually got to experiment with the dough. I cut it into two pieces – I put one aside to warm up. The other one, if you need quick results, is best to bash with a rolling pin (for stress relief and also to soften the dough).
So the first batch, I did like I always used to do. Roll the dough into a long, sausage-like shape – it’s best not to make it too thick to get smaller sized biscuits. Then slice the long sausage into little circles (these are your biscuits). The reason this is never pretty is that no matter how sharp your knife, the slices will still look more like squares than circles. Anyway, line a baking sheet with baking paper, pile your biscuits and bake them until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes).
The second batch turned out pretty because I waited – and I could roll out the dough properly and make some nice Christmas biscuits like so:
So if you’re impatient, you’ll be left with less pretty, but none the less delicious biscuits and you have my word – everyone will love these. There’s a reason they’ve been a tradition at ours since I graduated from high school (wow. That’s a good 4 years ago now!)
Oh and… Happy new year!
It’s pretty insane that Christmas is already over, isn’t it? I know this post might come just a little bit too late, but hey – there are distant relatives, Valentine’s day, post-Christmas friendly meet ups, and thousands of other excuses as to why make this delicious fudge. (Not to mention simply because you want to.)
I’ve never made fudge before. I was told it is hard, needs a candy thermometer (just mentioning that will discourage many) and all kinds of rumours. Well, bah humbug. This fudge recipe is super easy to get right – and here are the ingredients:
500g brown sugar
250g peanut butter (I prefer crunchy, but whatever suits your fancy)
1 dash of vanilla extract
300g icing sugar
Ingredients and method are taken from this recipe – decorated below with my own tips and tricks.
So first off, just melt the butter. Then add the brown sugar and the milk and bring it to the boil. It may look like it’s too thick, too much sugar, not enough liquid, but that’s actually okay. Now, the original recipe says to boil it for only 2 or 3 minutes, but here’s what I found out in retrospect – boil it until your sugar is kind of melted. So instead of 2.5, don’t panic; boil it out for at least 4 minutes. Besides, boiling this sugary mix is going to look super entertaining.
When that’s done, turn off the heat and add your peanut butter and vanilla. Mix until smooth and nicely melted too. Put your icing sugar in a bowl, and pour your hot mix on top of it. This too will look like it’s too liquid, but just keep stirring until you get a nice, shiny paste. (Can you hear those calories sing?)
To make my fudge look awesome, I used some silicone ice cube trays to shape my pieces – they’re really awesome. I had a flower and a heart-shaped tray, so I filled those up, wiping away any excess on the top. If you don’t have those, just use any baking tray, like square or rectangle. Or whatever suits your fancy. Whack it into the fridge for a loooong time – I left it overnight to make sure.