Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Children's Favourite Chicken and Prawn Fried Rice

Bit of a wordy title, I know. 

But this is what we cook when the girls are hungry and I don't have much fresh food in the fridge. Like the day before the weekly shop for example. You just look about for some rice, a clove of garlic and some frozen peas and eggs - the rest you adapt with what you have available. 

I am usually lucky in that I have some prawns in the freezer somewhere and in the fridge some shredded chicken from a recent roast to chop up and chuck in, although you can throw in any leftover meat or veggies that you have. 

It's nicer than a Chinese from our takeaway and you can add in whatever your kids like - no soggy mushrooms if they don't like them or crunchy water chestnuts (my six year old thinks they're actually raw potatoes). You can also chuck in a handful of cashew nuts if you like, letting them brown a little in the oil before adding the garlic.

I love it because my children really enjoy it, and think it's a special treat dinner - and I get to take care of some leftovers at the same time. Booyah! 

Kids' Favourite Chicken and Prawn Fried Rice
Serves 2-3
half a cup of white Basmati rice (I usually measure in measuring cups when cooking rice, to avoid waste)
2 tsp cooking oil (olive, coconut, vegetable oil, etc)
1 clove of garlic
two handfuls of frozen peas/petits pois
one handful frozen, cooked prawns, run under old running water to defrost
handful of leftover roasted chicken, torn into pieces or chopped
2 eggs
slosh of light soy sauce (check the label if you're gluten-free)
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine (if you have it) - check the label to ensure it's gluten free if needed
1-2 tsp sesame oil

Put the rice on to cook in boiling water until tender. Drain well. 
While the rice is cooking heat the oil in a large frying pan or work and grate in the garlic clove. Straight away, add the frozen peas and the prawns. Stir-fry, over a medium heat - not too fierce - for a few minutes until hot. 

Add the cooked chicken, stirring for 3-4 minutes and then beat the eggs and tip them in. Stir, so that the eggs cook evenly amongst the chicken and prawns and then tip in the drained rice. Stir to mix and then add the soy sauce, the Shaoxing rice wine and trickle in the sesame oil. Stir well, making sure everything's piping hot throughout. Serve in bowls, straight away. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Review of The Paleo Approach Cookbook by Sarah Ballantyne

THIS was the book that those of us following the autoimmune protocol diet have been waiting for for months. True, Sarah published The Paleo Approach first - a very detailed book all about the origins of autoimmune disease, how what you eat can affect it, and which foods are potential triggers for autoimmune symptoms and why.

But THIS book was the one with all the recipes, which is what those on very restrictive diets crave. I bought mine, late one night, on my Kindle because I just couldn't wait any longer to get it delivered (I get impulsive like that, especially after 10pm). And my goodness was I pleasantly surprised.

The Paleo Approach Cookbook (affiliate link)

I thought there would just be recipes, and that The Paleo Approach would have been left to cover all the science/food trigger explanations, but I was really pleased to see the basics outlined here again too. There are lists on which foods you should eliminate in the first stages of the diet, with tips on which foods you might be able to reintroduce fine later on. There are also suggestions on tweaking recipes for FODMAPs. Sarah even sets out menu plans (separate ones for you guys watching your FODMAPs) and gives a lot of tips on batch cooking, storage of foods and how to do paleo on a budget. It's really so much more than 'just' a cookbook. 

All the recipes in the book are suitable for the first stages of the diet. I chose a few recipes to cook, and found them easy to follow, straightforward and written as if Sarah's standing next to you in the kitchen as you read. I like that. 

The first job was to make the fresh fig jam, which Sarah serves with her bacon and bison liver pâté, but I chose to serve alongside my own pork and bacon pâté that was waiting for me in the fridge. It was incredibly simple, and I used nice and ripe, sweet figs - but when I cooled the jam and served it the next day, I found it added a slight sweetness to the pâté - it wasn't as intensely rich as I thought it might be, in a dark, jammy way - it was actually quite light and took away the 'liver' flavour from the pâtè a little bit.

Pâté and Fresh Fig Jam

Next, came the sardine salad. For the record, up until this point, I struggled to eat sardines, always preferring the less oily, sweeter mackerel instead. My husband spoons them out from the tin and I have to look away. I diligently chopped up salad bits, made the dressing and placed the salad on the table, for lunch. It was very green, with lumps of sardine in a lemony, crunchy dressing. "Sardines are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat," chirps Sarah from inside my Kindle, adding that they're "an outstanding source of the heart-healthy nutrient Coenzyme Q10." Well. We dug in. I honestly have never enjoyed a fishy salad as much as this one. Sardines are awesome. I've stocked up my shopping list. The lemon, tarragon and parsley all cut the oiliness of the fish - and because you have finely chopped celery in there too, it disguises the soft crunch you get from the bones. It's one of those dishes you eat and it really does feel that it's doing your body so much good. Brilliant. 

Sardine Salad
I moved on to dinner, which was the sweet Italian sausage. Sarah advises on using pork, but I could only get turkey - but I must say the little burgers I made using the mixture were gorgeous. We ate them with some sweet potato chips and pan-fried courgette (zucchini) slices. These would be my first choice to eat cold, on the go or at a picnic. 

Sweet Italian (Turkey) Sausage

I still have a lot more recipes to work my way through (there are over 150 recipes in the book) - but I can see that there are a lot of dishes here I'll be adding to the weekly rota. You can tell that this book has taken a huge amount of work to complete. It's thoughtful, realistic (with money-saving tips too) and a fantastic resource. I'll be recommending this to anyone wanting to start with AIP or paleo as it will give you such a head-start. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Slow Cooker Garlic Lamb Shanks with Lemon Dressing

Lamb and lemon is a combination I've fallen head over heels for over the past couple of months. I don't know why it took me so long. The zesty lemon cuts the fattiness from the lamb, which is so soft you could slice it with a spoon, as it falls off the bone. 

Made you hungry yet? 

You cook the lamb shanks in a slow cooker (or crockpot) with a whole bulb of garlic. The garlic imparts a sweet aroma into the lamb, without being too intense. For those who like a bit more garlic punch, you can then squeeze the softened, sweet cloves out of the papery skins and serve them alongside. They're a bit like a really intense, sweet garlic butter. 

And then you serve the hot lamb with a drizzle of this lemon dressing - and a crisp salad made up of little gem lettuce, diced cucumber and olives. Fresh and aromatic. Lovely. 

Slow Cooker Crockpot Garlic Lamb Shanks with Lemon Dressing
Serves 3-4
2 large lamb shanks
1 whole bulb of garlic
pinch of salt

For the dressing:
good glug of extra virgin olive oil (about 4 tablespoons)
juice and finely grated zest of half a lemon
good pinch of salt
half a teaspoon dried oregano

Set your crockpot/slow cooker to HIGH. Drop in the lamb shanks and then place the garlic bulb on top. It might fall off as the lamb cooks - this is OK. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and replace the lid. Leave to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone. 

To make the dressing, whisk together the ingredients until well combined and set to one side. 

Shred the cooked lamb from the bone and arrange on a serving plate. Serve hot, with a salad and the lemon dressing to drizzle over. 


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