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.

Avocado Chicken Salad

Serves: 4

There was debate about whether this recipe should be typed up.

Not because it isn’t great or super healthy, though because it is just a bit too simple. It’s almost not a recipe.

(Plus Natalie had never had bacon and coriander and wasn’t sure if they went together, not withstanding that they obviously do because the whole salad tastes amazing.)

Anyway, it was the boys – Oliver and Tom – that pushed me to type this up. They loved the salad and wanted it somewhere so they could make it for their kids one day.

Make it fun like we did and put the ingredients in separate bowls: let people make their own unique salad, toss with the lime juice and olive oil and enjoy.

How good is healthy!

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, grilled and shredded
2 ripe avocados, pitted and diced
1/2 cup corn, grilled and hulled
1/4 cup red onion, minced
4 rasher of bacon, chopped and fried
2 tbsp coriander leaves
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a large bowl, add the shredded chicken, avocado, onion, corn, bacon and coriander.
  2. Drizzle with the lime juice, olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine.

(Tomato, cucumber and black beans would also compliment this salad.)

Peking Noodles

Serves: 4

Ding Tai Fung is a Taiwanese noodle and dumpling chain.

The food is outstanding and they won a Michelin Star in Hong Kong for one of their outlets. The food is clean, cooked with consistent precision and always two steps ahead of what you’d expect from what is after all, a chain restaurant.

They do this wonderful dish of freshly made egg noodles and minced pork. It is saucy with a hint of spice and I order it every time.

Well, these Peking Noodles reminded me of that dish.

It is super clean. Hot. Saucy. Completely moorish.

As with all these sorts of dishes, the hotter you can get the wok, the better. Also, I have varied the sauces and oil in the ingredients below; I dialled it up, though once the vegetables are cooked and as you are adding the noodles, have a taste and adjust.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

200gm egg noodles
1 – 2 tsp sesame oil
500gm pork mince
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 bunch baby choy sum, finely shredded (or other leafy Chinese green)
4 green onions, sliced diagonally
1 – 2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 – 2 tbsp Sambal Oelek
Good handful of coriander leaves to serve

Method

  1. Cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 – 2 minutes or until tender. Drain and refresh.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the pork and stir-fry, breaking up the mince for 5 minutes or until mince starts to brown.
  3. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute or until aromatic.
  4. Add the choy sum, green onion, soy sauce and sambal and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the choy sum begins to wilt. Taste and adjust accordingly.
  5. Add noodles and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until well combined and heated through. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Andalusian-style Chicken

Serves: 2

A little while ago, I typed up an Andalusian-style pork recipe and wow was it is a cracker.

So fresh, so full of flavour, so simple to prepare and healthy as well.

Simple Spanish cooking at its best.

Well here you have another cracker Andalusian dish; again, unique, full of bold, fun flavours and easy to pull together on a Monday night.

Served with broccolini sautéed with chilli and garlic and this really was such a great way to start the week.

Pour yourself a wine, prep, cook… and this will be an equally great start to your week.

(Note the serving size and double for lunch the next day or if you have friends coming around.)

Ingredients

Large pinch of saffron
1/2 chicken stock cube, crumbled into 100ml boiling water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 large chicken breasts or 6 boneless, skinless thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Large pinch of ground cinnamon
1 red chilli, reseeded and chopped
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp clear honey
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp raisins
Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
25gm toasted pine nuts
Crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Add the saffron to the hot stock to soak.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion until it is soft and just beginning to turn golden. Add the chicken and cooked until the chicken is browned all over.
  3. Add the cinnamon and chilli and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock, vinegar, honey, tomato and raisins. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is cooked through.
  4. When ready, scatter with coriander and nuts and serve with bread on the side.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri is one of our favourite sauces for beef – or chicken or pork – and this classic recipe is right down the line.

As well as serving as a side, there is something quite wonderful about marinating a piece of rump steak in this before you grill.

With more Chimichurri by the side of course.

If you haven’t made/had this before, read the ingredients and please consider!

Ingredients

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 eschallot, finely chopped
1 red jalapeño finely chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh coriander
1/4 cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Combine the ingredients.
  2. If marinating meat, marinate over night.

Spicy Tomato Baked Eggs

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Yes… an amazing way to start Sunday.

Serves: 4

We love our weekend breakfasts and this number we whipped up last week was just awesome; so spicy, so rich, so hot.

Add a side of avocado and a good coffee and you’re off to the best Sunday morning of anyone in your street; add a French champagne and you’re talking streets and streets!

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
2 red chillis (de-seeding is optional) and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
Small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves chopped separately
2 x 400gm cans cherry tomatoes
2 chorizo, diced
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp caster sugar
4 eggs
Oiled, grilled Turkish bread sliced to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan that fits a lid; soften the onions, chilli, garlic, chorizo and coriander stalks for 5 or so minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and sugar and then simmer for 10 or more minutes until thick.
  2. Using the back of a large spoon, make four dips in the sauce and then crack and egg into each one. Put a lid on the pan (or cover with foil) and then cook the eggs through over a low heat for 6 – 8 minutes; halfway through, scatter the parmesan cheese.
  3. Serve with the coriander leaves on top.

Coconut chutney

Serves: A dinner of dosai, as a side

Dosais are not the least expensive things on your Southern Indian restaurant menu and even then, I doubt they make much money from them.

There are plenty of ingredients that go into the whole show, they take time and technique and importantly, a truly wonderful chutney like this lasts… 24 hours. Time and economies of scale are not on your side.

The silver lining of course is that a good dosai is to die for and this chutney is simply part of the story. It is amazing.

The extra touch that turns the dial from 11 to 12. The addition that completes the meal, taking you into fine Indian cooking territory. The secret weapon in your cook-off that nobody saw coming.

Sure, you have 24-hours to get from bench to plate, though in-between making your dosai batter, your filling and a wonderful side of lentils, you’re signed up to the task right?

And the fact is, you cannot lose any cook-off – or dinner – if you pull the whole thing off.

Tie maybe, but who the hell are you cooking against?!

Ingredients

Half a coconut, grated
2 fresh green chillis
½ bunch fresh coriander leaves
1 tbsp fresh ginger
Salt to taste

Tempering

10ml vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
¼ asafoetida powder
1 sprig fresh curry leaves

Method

  1. Grind the coconut, chillis, coriander leaves, ginger and salt in a blender, adding a little water if required.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves and temper the chutney by pouring the mixture on top.
  3. Serve as an accompaniment to dosai.

** Enhances colour and flavour and settles the stomach; unless you have it or feel inclined to get it, you can live without.