Time to start planning for those winter parties or summer B-B-Qs

This is a recipe for when you are entertaining and although this one relies on carrots it will work well with spinach, celeriac and even beetroot. It is gluten free and vegetarian. It isn’t Vegan I am afraid but I would be interested in someone trying the recipe with the vegan alternatives for eggs and mayonnaise (or quark).

It is surprisingly easy and quick to make with the only real chore being grating the carrot.

I am going to work on a sweet version of this as a carrot cake roulade with sweetened quark or even sweetened low fat cream cheese for a little more indulgence. Beetroot might allow for a red velvet version and cocoa for a chocolate roulade. If anyone has a go please share the results.

Carrot Roulade

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 700g carrots (grated)
  • 1 bunch of coriander (half chopped and half leaves removed from stalks)
  • 2 tbsp Black Onion seeds
  • 2 tbsp Chilli flakes (reduce or remove for your own taste)
  • 10 tbsp (200g) Hellman’s Lighter Than Light Mayonnaise (or quark mixed with lemon juice)
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers (chopped)
  • 1 bunch of watercress (roughly chopped).
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan (optional)
  • Fry Light oil or equivalent

Equipment:

  • 1 wok or frying pan (ideally non-stick)
  • Electric whisk
  • Swiss roll tray
  • Baking parchment

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven goes Gas Mark 6 or 200 C.
  2. Line a Swiss roll tray with baking parchment.
  3. Sprinkle parmesan and 1 tbsp of black onions seeds over the parchment.
  4. Lay coriander leaves over the parmesan and Black Onion seeds.
  5. Spray a large non-stick frying pan or wok with oil and heat.
  6. Add the carrots and cook for 10 minutes until soft (keep stirring). The water coming from the carrots will help prevent catching or burning.
  7. Put the cooked carrots in a bowl to cool.
  8. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks.
  9. Mix chopped coriander, chilli flakes and 1 tbsp of black onion seeds into carrot mix.
  10. Beat egg yolks into the carrot mix.
  11. Fold in the egg whites to the carrot mix.
  12. Pour the carrot mix onto the Swiss roll tin.
  13. Place in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  14. Mix the mayonnaise (or lemon quark) with chopped red peppers and watercress leaves.
  15. Put the tin on a rack to cool.
  16. Once cool spread mayonnaise mix onto the carrot sponge leaving a clear space around the edge (about 1cm).
  17. Roll the roulade short edge to short edge using the parchment and then lift and place on a serving Serve with salads such as the Gujarati Carrot salad (grated carrot, lemon juice and black onion seeds.; or if you have used mayonnaise for the filling, why not dollop on some lemon quark (200g quark with juice of half a lemon).

Running a healthier kitchen with a truculent teenager in tow.

One of the challenges of trying to either lose weight, or keep weight off, is the expectations and demands of your nearest and dearest.

How many of us have to navigate bags of crisps, biscuits, treat drawers and tubs of ice creams stored for those less concerned about their weight. Then add on the the belief of many of the ‘younger’ generation that diet is something for us oldies to worry about.

My youngest son is adamant that most vegetables spoil a good meal. Onions are clearly poisonous, tomatoes (unless blended) induce vomiting and anything exotic should not be found north of the Watford gap, let alone in Yorkshire.

Today proved to be a successful day in the battle to get some fibre and vitamins into his stomach without any grumbling. The strategy was in two stages. The first was my lunch with a home made carrot and coriander soup (with onions and chopped tomatoes included) blended to a smooth soup.

I enjoyed two large bowl fulls for my lunch but clearly there was no way he was going to eat such foul stuff. He opted for a tin of macaroni cheese padded out with chopped hot dog sausages.

The initial outcome of his choice was to discover it was disgusting…

He then resorted to the natural home of teenage boys, a bowl of cereal.

I was playing the long game and had made enough soup for stage two of the operation that aimed to get some vegetables into his system.

Tea was going to be Keema curry. 200g of lean minced beef padded out with half a finely chopped aubergine, more onion, frozen mixed veg and of course some curry powder (I was being lazy, sorry). Once this was all cooking along with a beef stock cube and water to beef the flavour up and a dollop of tomato purée my secret ingredient was added, left over carrot and coriander soup. This served perfectly as a sauce of the curry.

Served up with brown basmati rice and being eaten energetically by him I felt a victory had been achieved. The only minor loss was his grabbing taco’s from the cupboard for a Anglo/Indian/Mexican fusion. I accepted this a price worth paying for the surreptitious consumption of vegetables.

Dad 2 : Teenage Son 1.

Pease Pudding Pastry – this is worth it.

A while ago someone in my SW group shared Pease Pudding pastry and I even bought a can of Pease Pudding at the time but never got around to trying it.

For some reason this week I decided to give it a go and really really pleased with the outcome. It is a gluten free, waistline friendly alternative to flour based pastry. and allowed me to make some great pies for tea.

The pastry itself is not complex. I emptied three cans of pease pudding in to my mixer bowl, added four eggs and then mixed until I had a smoothish paste. The pastry itself is very different to regular pastry as you don’t roll it out.

However you won’t have my regular battles when making shortcrust pastry with too much butter/flour/over rolled etc etc .

I sprayed my pie dishes (I used three single dishes) with spray oil and then spooned three dollops into each dish. You then gently push and move it around until you have an even coverage around the dish and over the edge (for the top). It is worth spending a little time on this making sure it is as even as is possible. It won’t be pastry smooth but it still works.

I then blind baked my cases in a medium oven for thirty minutes. It is worth checking every now and then because each oven is different. You do not need to use any beans to hold the base down.

Once they are firm enough, with a firm top layer but still some give underneath, then bring them out to fill. The surface will be cracked but this is normal as long as it is not cracked all the way through.

Fill your pie with your chosen filling. I made a steak and mushroom filling with gravy made using stock, Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée. One thing I learned is that the pie can hold more gravy than I expected and so will allow more gravy inside the pie next time.

I then spooned three dollops on top and smoothed it around over the top and even forked the edges for the real pie look.

I bake in the oven until I had a browning top. I cannot give a precise time yet for this as I was adjusting the temperature and position in the oven to cater for Maggie’s decision to go for a bike ride before tea. In reality thirty minutes in a hot oven should do.

It felt like a really indulgent treat when I ate my pie. Pastry has been one of the things I have had far less off to get my weight loss and now I have a great alternative. Reuben was ok with it but said he would rather have a mashed potato topping (he is very predictable). Maggie, who can resist some of the SW alternatives, ate the lot.

In reality this is not a SW recipe but a traditional recipe form the north of England, used when times were hard and flour was too expensive. Certainly far more traditionally British than Fish and Chips or a Chicken Rogan Josh.

For me it is now a firm favourite, I want to try a sweet version to make lower calorie dessert pie. I do like my puddings.

Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce

This is another great recipe for using up surplus tomatoes if you have been growing them, or just a great sauce that is far superior to jars of pasta sauce. This is the really lazy version with the only real effort in slicing the tomatoes in half.

Unlike many recipes I have seen this uses no sugar, or onions and instead of tbsps of olive oil, this uses only a good squirt of spray olive oil.

I apologise now for not giving a precise quantity of tomatoes used as I didn’t weigh them. What I can say is I had enough tomatoes to cover two baking trays.

This is also vegetarian and vegan so suitable for almost any dietary regime.

I can confirm that it is delicious.

Ingredients:

  • A large pile of cherry tomatoes (probably over 1kg)
  • Spray olive oil
  • 4 tsps of dry Italian herbs (or any fresh/dry combo you like).
  • 4 tsps garlic granules
  • 250ml veg stock.
  • Salt and pepper to your taste

Method:

  1. Slice all the tomatoes in half and put in a large bowl.
  2. Add the herbs, garlic and seasoning.
  3. Spray the mix with olive oil spray stirring to coat well.
  4. Line two baking trays with grease proof paper or baking parchment.
  5. Put in a hot oven (250 C).
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a large pan.
  8. Add the stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Blend to your preferred smoothness. Is used a stick blender in the same pan.
  10. Cool, store, freeze or cook with straight away or any combination of the above depending on quantities made and the numbers you are feeding.

Green Tomato Chutney (with no added sugar)

This year is Maggie’s first for growing tomatoes, having inherited a green house from her late father and the need to garden to escape some of the draining aspects of work.

The consequence was clear, she had inherited her father’s green fingers without the off switch of experience that limits the number of plants.

However this opened a new opportunity for me as I have never made chutney or jam, other than the odd batch of lemon curd. When I shared a picture Maggie’s bumper crop of tomatoes, lined up in a windowsill to ripen, everyone said ‘Make green tomato chutney’.

After some initial browsing online it was clear that most recipes involve a vast quantity of sugar but with some perseverance I found one that is sugar free (other than that that occurs naturally in the ingredient fruit and veg).

All fairness requires that I share the source of this recipe. I found it on Farmer Dave’s site. However Farmer Dave had borrowed it in turn from Farmgirl Fare and now it has travelled on to me and then to any of you that reads this. ‘Six Degree of Separation’ now feels like it’s more like ‘Three Degrees of Separation’.

Now before I jump into the recipe I must note that it was damn hard work making the chutney. I am glad it would only be an annual endeavour at most. A day over a hot stove, sterilising jars and then filling them was also satisfying. The outcome is 24 jars, each with with about 250g of chutney in them with a SW value of less than 1/2 a syn a jar.

You will need to adjust quantities to match your available ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of green tomatoes, cored and chopped (mine were cherry tomatoes so no coring and just halved or quartered)
  • 500g of chopped onions
  • 750g of red peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 500g of cored and chopped bramley apples (no need to peel)
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I cheated and used ready chopped garlic)
  • 250ml of cider vinegar (you can use less of storing all in the fridge but that takes a lot of space)
  • 4 large red chilli peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 hot chilli ( I used a fatali pepper) finely chopped with seeds
  • 2 tbsp of chopped coriander
  • 1tsp of cumin
  • 1 tbsp sea salt/kosher salt

Method

  1. Put tomatoes, onions, peppers, apples, vinegar and salt in a large pan and bring to the boil.
  2. Once boiling reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Leave the pot uncovered. The mix should thicken over the time.
  3. Stir in the chillis, coriander and cumin and simmer for a further five minutes.
  4. Blend the mix (I used a stick blender although you could do it in batches using a food processor). Don’t blend too much, a slightly Chucky mix is best.
  5. Put into jars and seal. I sterilised mine by washing, rinsing and then putting in the oven for 15 minutes.

Apple and Celery Salad

Suzann has just asked me for this one. I cannot claim credit for this, it is a SW recipe. This is the best picture available until I make it again.

The last time I made this a number of people said the liked the Apple and Cucumber Salad, having no idea it was celery so even celery haters can give it a go (or don’t tell them if they are).

The chopping for this is a little fiddly but it is a great salad and keeps well.

Ingredients I :

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • Pinch of sweetener
  • 2 apples, cored, sliced and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 4 celery sticks, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint

Method:

Mix the lemon juice, fish sauce and sweetener together and then mix with all the other ingredients.

Losing the weight is only half the story.

A year ago I hit my target weight having lost just over 5 stone. For the next three months I managed to stay in my target range. For those not familiar with Slimming World you have a six pound range around your target. The idea is that you try not to stray more than 3lbs above or below this weight.

For the first three months I managed this although it took effort and was more stressful than the weight loss journey.

Christmas arrived and I decided to enjoy a good Christmas (although not the excess of years gone by), knowing I could lose the weight I might gain because I had done it before.

However this was, and is, a salutary lesson in hubris. I did put on a few pounds and edged just outside my target range. However more importantly I had got out of my rhythm, my routine. I spent the next three months bouncing in and out of my target range until I finally landed back on my exact target weight in March vowing to stay in my range thereafter.

The problem is summer arrived and the number of opportunities to eat out, eat with guests and trips away was more than normal, I had redeveloped bad snacking habits again and then the summer holidays arrived with an enormous 6lb gain after three weeks away from group.

I now have a much larger task being almost a stone over my target weight. Time to get back in the game. Week 1 of a fresh start and meals planned , recorded what I have eaten (especially my syns) and 3lbs knocked of in a week. I can still do it…

Week 2 of a fresh start comes and goes with a 2.5lb gain. The yo-yo reappears. The only cause is ‘between meal’ snacking. Family goodies proving to be a temptation, I had my well measured synned snacks like a Curly Wurly. I count those 6 syns. But then a trip to the fridge offers a couple of slices of salami, that bit of chilli cheddar gets nibbled on, finishing off someone’s pudding and on it goes. All those little bits add up.

Group was the bit I was dreading when I joined SW but it has priced to be the best thing about it (other than the treat recipes). The beauty of group is that it allows you to think out loud and honest input from those in the same boat can help you work out what is going wrong. There is no shaming or false encouragement. It does focus on the positive but also seeks to work out why you have gone wrong when it happens. Two things were said at group that struck home.

Number one was “You haven’t blogged for a while”. It might not be anything but maybe my thinking out loud through my iPad was part of the way I have kept on track. Focusing on why I am doing things, what works and what doesn’t might be part of my answer. So here I am blogging again.

Number two was “…well you have been spending all your time trying out new recipes!” And what is true was that by spending a lot of time on cooking up new dishes I was not giving time to the other meals and snacks. This has contributed to me grazing on less helpful things.

Finally we come back to why I needed to lose weight in the first place. I like food, I still like food. I enjoy eating food. Give me a choice between a large Coffee Choux and and an apple and without will power the Coffee Choux will always win.

Which one…
would you choose?

So here I am back to blogging and planning meals that will focus on back to basics.

With this in mind meet Gardeners Pie. It is nothing complex and extremely filling.

In a large pan throw in roughly chopped and large onion (1), carrot (2) , parsnip (1) celery (3 sticks), garlic cloves (2) and loads of spinach. If you are in a rush try a bag of frozen mixed veg as any veg will do.

Soften in the oil sprayed pan, added water if needed for about five minutes and then add 300ml veg stock and frozen peas and season to your taste. Then cook for half an hour.

Put in a large dish with mashed potato (mashed with 50ml veg stock and two eggs) on top and bake in the oven for half an hour.

A back to basic classic. The downside is that my son , although it smelt delicious, was not enamoured with the lack of meat even if I gave him a jug of Bisto gravy to with his.

The final learning curve is to go with the mantra, if you don’t like what is on offer then cook something for yourself. It works with his adult brother (Uni student) and he will be 18 in November, Tough love that will take away the final temptation, nibbling on the other meal versions made for the less willing.