Lamb Rump with Almond, Sour Currant and Cauliflower Rice

Serves: 4

After my birthday in June this year, we both agreed that after months and months of fine food and wine – at home and out – the time had come to reverse course.

There were a few strategies that worked.

One of them – calorie counting – was great. It helped eliminate snacking, put an end to my morning cappuccinos and made me make informed (and smarter) decisions about how much olive oil I should be drizzling on salads

(I.E. none at all.)

Another was the world of 300 calorie meals where I learnt of zoodles (zucchini noodles), squash pasta (substituting pasta for pumpkin), cauliflower pizza bases (amazing) and cooking with plenty of prawn and turkey.

Cauliflower rice is something I have previously written about as a genius alternative to rice and during our few months of lean cooking, I really dialled up Cauliflower rice and what we did with it. (After it is cooked, try toasting it in a wok: amazing.)

This dish cooked by Nat last night is excellent on quite a few levels.

Firstly, it is just plain delicious. It’s really tasty, it’s light, it’s aromatic.

Secondly, it’s healthy.

Thanks to the wonderful cauliflower rice.

I’ve learnt a long time ago that healthy eating didn’t mean compromising on flavour. More recently, I learnt that healthy eating didn’t mean smaller portions and being hungry.

Save your carbs and calories for the weekend and give this cracker a go.

Ingredients

1 tbsp garam masala
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 lamb rumps (about 200gm): we used lamb backstrap
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
Plain yoghurt and vinegar to serve

Cauliflower Rice

600gm cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 eschallot, finely chopped
1cm piece ginger, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tsp nigella (cumin) seeds
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1 cup coriander, coarsely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Combine the garam masala, garlic and half the oil in a large bowl, season to taste, add lamb and massage to coat well. Heat the remaining oil up a large frying pan over a high heat, add the lamb and fry until well browned all over. Transfer the lamb to a baking tray and roast for around 10 – 12 minutes for medium-rare. Cover loosely with foil, rest for 10 minutes and then slice.
  2. For the cauliflower rice, bring vinegar to the boil, add the currants and remove from the heat.
  3. Process the cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the eschallot, ginger, garlic and curry leaves and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes until tender. Add the turmeric and nigella seeds, stir until fragrant and then add the cauliflower and stir until tender: 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Strain the currants, add to the pan along with the roasted almonds and coriander and season to taste.
  5. Top cauliflower rice with lamb, scatter with coriander and serve with yoghurt.

Tobie Puttock’s Roast Cauliflower with Chickpea Salad

Serves: 4 as a side

This is an excellent salad.

A bistro-quality, this-is-excellent, Tuesday-night-just-got-better salad.

It is another Tobie Puttock recipe and it is super simple: like all things cauliflower, not only does it taste wonderful roasted, with a crispy, charred, nutty flavour, though it is satisfying.

Potatoes play no role here.

We love to cook new recipes every time we cook, though having a repertoire of interesting, wonderful salads to whip-up every time we just want a grilled piece of steak, is definitely a thing for us.

This salad makes the cut.

Honestly, get onto it.

Ingredients

1/2 large cauliflower
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp, hulled tahini
2 tbsp low-fat plain Greek-style yoghurt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp warm water
Good handful of mint leaves, torn
Good handful of continental parsley, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Use a small, sharp knife to remove the florets from the cauliflower and discard the core. Place the florets in a large bowl and season with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, a good pinch of both salt and pepper and the chilli flakes. Spread over one of the prepared baking trays and roast for 30 – 40 minutes until the cauliflower is becoming dark around the edges and crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, scatter the chickpeas and garlic cloves over the other lined tray. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp of olive and shake the tray to combine. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden, remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  4. Squeeze the roasted garlic flesh into a bowl, discarding the skins. Mash the garlic with a fork and then add the cayenne pepper, tahini, yoghurt, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and water and stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  5. Divider the cauliflower and chickpeas among serving plates, drizzle with the dressing and scatter the mint and parsley on top. Serve.

Cauliflower rice

Serves: 4

Going from fatso to less-so fatso was a journey that meant less drinking, less calories, more exercise and… crossing those food taboos I had always held true.

Like substituting.

Substituting strips of zucchini for pasta. Tofu for meat. And cauliflower for rice.

Because rice was one of those things that made me fat. The carbs, the inoffensive taste, the way it filled me up when covered in curries and sauce.

Rice though, is high in calories. And as I have done the simple arithmetic – less carbs in, more carbs out = weight loss = I’ve had to cross old taboos. Namely, rice cannot be substituted.

Well let me tell you my fellow fatsos, it can. And with no downside.

A cup of rice is 216 calories. A cup of cauliflower rice with the same density, 28. Ha.

And cauliflower has a lower GI so you’ll feel fuller longer!

And in ‘ricing’ the cauliflower, it takes on a new, really pleasant texture. Dry yet moist, solid, almost like cous cous. Tastes good too, especially when you run through some coriander and toasted cumin seeds.

216 calories is a brisk half hour walk. You’ve just burnt 28 reading this recipe introduction.

Take the plunge and see the light. This is how rice should be.

(Unless you’re in an Indian restaurant with a vindaloo in which case, it is safe to assume you have earned rice or need rice, or both…!)

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
Bunch of coriander, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted.

Method

  1. Cut the florets from the cauliflower leaving the tough stalk aside.
  2. Pulse the florets in a food processor until of a consistent, cous cous like consistency.
  3. Put the pulsed cauliflower in a microwave-proof bowl, cover in cling-wrap, pierce the cling wrap and microwave for 7 minutes (yes, 7 minutes) on high. Do not add water.
  4. Stir through the coriander and cumin seeds.
  5. See the light!

Neil Perry’s beef tagine with fried cauliflower

Neil Perry’s beef tagine with fried cauliflower

Serves 4

Holy shit, this is a great dish. The beef is so hot and intense, it is also a revelation and much more than your bog standard apricot and beef tagine in stock. It should surprise nobody that for me, Neil Perry is one of the best chefs around.

I thought about adding apricots to the dish to give it sweetness, though the raisins in the cous cous were more than ample. (I should have slightly adapted this recipe to be as I made it.)

Sprinkle with some toasted, slivered almonds and a handfuls of coriander and this is one of those meals where few words will be said.

Ingredients

1.2kg beef chuck, cut into 2.5cm dice
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 x 400g tin peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
½⁄ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Good handful of tast
Chopped coriander

Chermoula

1 medium Spanish onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
Sea salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp ras-el-hanout
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp coriander leaves
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley
1 tsp crushed dried chillies
Juice of 1 lemon

Cous Cous

Cous Cous
Chicken Stock
Raisins

Method

  1. To make the chermoula, puree all the ingredients together in a food processor until relatively smooth.
  2. Marinate the diced beef in the chermoula paste for one hour.
  3. Heat three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan big enough to fit all the beef. When just smoking, add the beef (shaking off as much marinade as you can, though reserving the marinade) and quickly saute to colour and seal well on all sides.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and a cup of water to the bowl the beef was previously marinating in, mix well and add to the saucepan. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook gently for about two to two-and-a-half hours or until beef is tender.
  5. Toast the almonds and prepare the cous cous with the stock and the raisins.
  6. When the beef is nearly ready, bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the cauliflower florets and cook for one minute. Drain the cauliflower well, allow to dry then shallow-fry the cauliflower in a small saucepan with the remaining olive oil.
  7. To serve, spoon the cous cous into bowls, ladle the beef on-top, sprinkle with the browned cauliflower, give a good grind of pepper and sprinkle with the coriander and almonds.