Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon and olives

Serves: 4

For a low carb dinner, this is a fabulous recipe; flavoursome, exotic and filling.

I chose to type it up because it is a mince recipe (my favourite), it is healthy (less than 400 calories per serve) and frankly, it tastes like something you’d get at a Moroccan restaurant, let alone being a dish you’d prepare to keep trim or get trim.

The original recipe asked for lamb mince and lamb stock, though I changed this to lean pork mince and chicken stock respectively. It would be fine with turkey mince as well.

I also steamed and sliced in two zucchini at the end of the cooking, to add some greenery and fill out the recipe.

And of course cous cous with chicken stock and currants.

Eat well, feel good!

Ingredients

3 onions, peeled, roughly chopped
500gm minced pork (or lamb, beef, chicken, turkey)
Zest and juice of one lemon, then quartered
1 tsp cumin
1tsp cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
Small bunch flat0leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Pinch saffron strands
205ml chicken stock (or lamb if doing lamb)
1 tbsp tomato paste
100gm pitted black Kalamata olives
Small bunch coriander, chopped
Cous cous (with chicken stock, currants and toasted, slivered almonds) or fresh, crusty bread
2 zucchinis, steamed and sliced and added at the end
Method

  1. Put the onions in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Put the mince, lemon zest, spices, parsley and half the onions in a large bowl and season; combine. Using your hands, shape into walnut-sized balls.
  2. Heat the oil in a tagine (or large pan/heavy pot) and add the remaining onions, ginger, chilli and saffron. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the lemon juice, stock, tomato paste and olives and bring to the boil. Add the meatballs one at a time, reduce the heat and cover, cooking for 20 minutes; turn the meatballs a few times during this time.
  3. Remove the lid and add the coriander and lemon wedges, tucking them in between the meatballs. Cook uncovered for another 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Add any pre-cooked/steamed vegetables, carefully combine and serve with cous cous or crusty bread.

Jamie Oliver’s Mexican Breakfast: Chilli tomato stew, eggs and cheese wrapped in tortillas

Serves 6

I am not usually very adventurous with breakfast. Scrambled eggs and bacon or an Eggs Benedict is my go to in pretty much any hotel or café; occasionally an omelette as long as it has ham, cheese and mushroom.

I do cook pancakes from time-to-time, though with some chopped parsley, milk and garlic powder, scrambled eggs and few slices of buttered toast are my regular offering to the boys and Nat on a Sunday morning; boring perhaps, comfortable yes.

I had these eggs cooked for me for my last birthday and with a flute of good French, this dish reminded me of why being adventurous can come with such reward.

Are these the best eggs ever? My mother thinks Kylie Kwong has this honour stitched up whilst my father thinks Roger Verge’s Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar wins.

For me – this Mexican breakfast – is way up there and a fabulous way to celebrate someone’s birthday; if you’re celebrating the birthday of someone my age, it will definitely be the best present they get.

Go Jamie Oliver. Go Nat!

Ingredients

Olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 red peppers, deseeded and finely sliced
2 fresh red or orange chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1 large dried chilli
3 fresh bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2x 400gm tins chopped tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, sliced
6 large eggs (free range Nat!)
6 tortillas
150gm grated cheddar cheese, to serve
Method

  1. In a large fry pan (with a fitted lid) or a tagine (which we used and is far more dramatic for purposes of presentation), heat the oil to a medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, both the fresh and dried chillies, bay leaves and a good pinch of salt and pepper; stir and cook for 15 minutes to soften and caramelise.
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes and try to break them up/mash them a little as they combine and cook; bring to the boil and then reduce and simmer for five or so minutes as the sauce thickens and reduces slightly.
  4. Check the seasoning and then layer the fresh tomato slices over the sauce.
  5. Make six wells in among the tomato slices and sauce and crack the eggs into the wells; try to crack them as quickly as possible so they cook consistently.
  6. Season the eggs and cover the pan for 3 – 4 minutes or until the eggs are poached to your liking.
  7. Whilst the eggs are cooking, warm the tortillas in the oven or microwave.
  8. At the table, sprinkle some of the cheese on a tortilla and add an egg with the sauce and tomato; wrap it up and enjoy with Champagne.

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.