Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Turkish Dill-ight

Well hello there. I am finally returned from a 2 week trip to Turkey, marginally less pasty and slightly fatter. I had been sure that my trip would inspire my culinary creativity, I mean we had spanking fresh seafood on our doorstep and all that Mediterranean produce. Sadly there were two issues with the food in Dalyan.

1. Most restaurants catered for foreigners by adding every conceivable dish to bulging menus. They would claim to be traditional Turkish, yet have 'Mexican steak', chicken curry and egg and chips proudly offered.

2. They bloody love dill there, I'm not a massive fan. I don't dislike it, but it's ubiquity was tiresome.

We did eat some fab meals at our villa, courtesy of my father in laws Turkish recipe book and an assortment of willing chefs. My husband and I also discovered a genuinely traditional restaurant where we ate an assortment of meze that was fabulous. One of the dishes, bizarrely named 'woman's thighs' because of it's soft yielding texture, is well worth adding to my eclectic repertoire.

Woman's Thighs meatballs

1 lb ground beef
Cup of cooked rice
1/2 of bunch parsley (chopped
DILL - if you like it.
Pinch of cumin
Plenty of salt and pepper
1 medium sized onion (chopped )
3 eggs
1 cup of plain flour
vegetable oil for frying

Take rice, ground beef, parsley, dill, onion, 1 egg and s+p into the mixing bowl. Knead them all until well combined. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Take the bowl from refrigerator and make small patties ( about the size of an egg )
Place vegetable oil on frying pan and turn the heat on medium high. Place flour in a bowl and take the other two eggs into another bowl and beat it.
Take one meatball, dip it first in flour then into egg and place it frying pan. Fry both sides of the meatball. Repeat this step for all of the meatballs.

The other notable dish was a very simple salad of lamb's lettuce in a garlic yogurt dressing. Ridiculously easy and sooper-dooper delicious with pretty much anything. I loved it with Pide, the Turkish equivalent of pizza, but it is fab either with grilled meats or as part of a meze spread.

Lamb's lettuce salad

Bag of lamb's lettuce leaves
Clove of garlic
Couple of tbsp of full fat Greek yog
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Crush garlic and mix well with yogurt, salt and pepper.
If possible leave for a couple of hours for flavours to meld
Mix with lettuce leaves
Drizzle with oil

So these are my top recommendations for recreating Turkey in a small corner of west London. The other option is just to cover everything you eat with shitloads of dill. I shall leave the choice to you.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Low fun food

I am currently 4 days away from a two week holiday to Turkey. I'd had intentions of being in the best shape of my life for this trip because, well, because it's always good to have completely unrealistic ambitions. However upon my return from Cornwall (and in particular the Meadery *vomits in lap*) I realised that I was actually in the very worst shape of my life, post baby carnage aside.
So I made a decision to pull myself together. I've been sticking to 1200 calories a day, which is bloody hard when you are someone who can easily manage 3000 without blinking, but I've been using http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ which is fab for keeping track. I've also been walking partway to and from work, sometimes the whole way home. And I've had to knock my drinking on the head because I was consuming my entire daily calorie allowance in half an hour AND the following day I would go on a carb-frenzy.
I had a roaring success with my friday night dinner and thought I'd share the recipe in case any of you feel like pulling yourselves together. No offence.

Pizza Wraps

1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
9 mushrooms, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
50g black olives, sliced
Tbsp capers
Splash balsamic vinegar
Tsp oregano
1 ball of half fat mozzarella
4 Discovery wholemeal tortillas

Fry the onion until softened
Add garlic, mushrooms, pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes
Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, vinegar and oregano and cook down until the sauce thickens
Divide mixture between the tortillas, add cheese to each and place under a hot grill until the cheese melts
Roll up and eat

Only 300ish cals per serving.

I promise I won't start banging on about calories all the time, I think I'm already boring my husband half to death. Friday sees the end of my abstemious phase and I will then enter extreme gluttony. Hopefully I'll be back with some amazing Turkish recipes and a cracking tan. Unfortunately I'll probably also be bringing my gut back.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Weekly Menu 04/07

Yes ladies and gents, it's the highlight of your week, it's my meal planner!

Monday: Broccoli soup
Tuesday: Breaded cod and asparagus salad
Wednesday: Cauliflower and green bean curry with brown rice
Thursday: Steamed mackerel with mushrooms and spinach
Friday: Undecided

Friday night tends to be treat night in our house, but this week husband will be at the local beer festival, drinking his bodyweight in strong ales and regressing to his 17 year old self. So I get to choose a 'treat' dinner that is entirely what I want. Ordinarily this would be something along the lines of fresh baguette and lovely, lovely cheese, but I don't want to deviate from my healthy eating too drastically. I might stick with the low carb plan and have a rare steak, but I know I'd miss the chips too much.

Any suggestions?

Curry me nice

It pains me to write this recipe as although I cooked it on friday I didn't eat it. My healthy eating regime took a bit of a battering on thursday evening with a 'mum's night out' that involved tapas, bread, cava and ice cream. So when I stepped on the scales on friday morning I had put on a pound, which was soul-destroying given how disciplined I had been otherwise.
So the curry got shelved in favour of tuna steaks with olive and red onion salsa and garlic green veg. Delicious, but no curry.
But the mince had to be cooked, so I have part-cooked the curry and popped it in the freezer to be eaten next saturday, as we all know that calories do not count at the weekend.

Keema Matar

1 onion
A few cloves garlic to taste (I used 4)
2 cloves
500g minced lamb
1 inch cube of ginger, peeled and grated
Chillis to taste (I used 3 birdseye chillis)

1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
150ml water (approx)

Couple of potatoes, peeled and cubed
Peas (couple of handfuls)
Fresh coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
Generous squeeze lemon juice

2/3 tbsp Greek yogurt

Fry the onions in a little oil until the start to brown
Add the garlic and fry for one more minute
Now add the minced meat, cloves, ginger, chillis, ground coriander, cumin and cayenne.
Fry for about 5 minutes or so on a fairly high heat, breaking up any lumps as you go.
When it’s browned add the potatoes and water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave it to simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if it gets too dry.
Now add the peas, fresh coriander, garam masala, lemon juice. Mix it all in and bring it back to a simmer – cook until the peas are done.
Season to taste and remove the cloves.
Finish with a generous couple of spoons of yogurt

If making ahead, leave out the peas, coriander and yogurt and add when reheating. I recommend eating it with paratha or a soft naan. Also feel free to leave out the potatoes, or to add other veg. Cauliflower works well.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


Yesterday afternoon I was invited to leave work early by my boss and took it upon myself to walk the entire 4 miles home. The weather was horrendously humid and as I plodded through some of the less salubrious parts of West London my hunger built and built. I knew I was heading home to a lovely, if excessivly virtuous, meal of seabass, broccoli and green beans, but I was passing cafes that smelt of chips and crispy, cheesey lasagne and my thoughts were becoming less and less pure.
I knew I was getting obsessive when I passed a poster advertising McDonalds cheeseburgers and let out an involuntary groan of desire. From that point onwards (around mile 2 checkpoint), I compiled my ultimate, wickedest, most indulgent dinner. Now when I say indulgent I don't mean the best, most lovely things I have ever eaten, I mean the dirty, nasty food that has literally no nutritional value but tastes like total and complete awesomeness.
So I already knew that I had to include McDonald's cheeseburgers in this meal, and for me they MUST be dipped in barbeque sauce. Initially I thought maybe 4 cheeseburgers would be manageable but when I considered accompaniments I came unstuck. Mcdonalds fries are alright, but when you really need a carby, salty fix you cannot whack chippy-chips, I reduced my plan to 3 cheeseburgers. Chippy-chips must be doused liberally in vinegar, and when I say liberally, I mean absolutely drenched. You then add copious salt, wrap them up, and let them infuse for about 10 minutes before eating. This is chippy-chip law.
Then I remembered KFC. My darling KFC, I did not mean to forsake you. I decided to add a starter of two pieces of gloriously hot and oily fried chicken. None of the rubbish breast meat nonsense, I would have two thighs pieces to maximise the juicy loveliness of this chickeny session.
At around mile 3 I passed an Iranian patisserie. I am not a massive dessert-eater but it reminded me of the cake a colleague had recently brought into work for her birthday. This cake was astonishingly lovely, a cream, berry and sponge concoction that was the lightest, most wonderful cake I have ever eaten. I believe it is a Nordic recipe that involves soaking the sponge in milk, whatever, it tasted of heaven. So pudding would be a 30cm square slab of that.
I could have left it there, but my recently healthy eating has involved denying myself bread, and I bloody love the stuff. So logically I should add a cheese course.

Here is my final menu

Starter: 2 thigh pieces KFC
Main course: 3 McDonalds cheeseburgers with barbeque sauce, small portion of chippy chips. Ketchup
Dessert: Nordic cream cake
Cheese course: Ripe camembert with a warm freshly baked white baguette

All washed down with several tall glasses of full-fat Coca-cola with ice and lemon slices


Then I thought I'd work out the calorie content

KFC thighs 2 @ 250cals = 500cals
McDonalds cheeseburgers 3 @ 300cals = 900cals
Portion chippy-chips @ 464 cals
Mcdonalds BBQ sauce 2 @ 50cals = 100cals
Ketchup 4tbsp @ 15 cals = 60 cals
Cream cake @ 850 cals
Freshly baked baguette @ 370 cals
Camembert @ 800 cals
Coca-cola 2 cans @ 140cals

Total = 4184 cals

So I thought I'd give it a miss, on balance. The sea-bass was bloody lovely actually.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Weekly Menu 27/06

What was that? You're wondering what meals I have planned for this week? Alright, I'll bloody well tell you.

Monday: Grilled Seabass with garlic broccoli and green beans
Tuesday: Asian-style prawn salad with asparagus
Wednesday: Baked potato with taramasalata and tomato salad
Thursday: Carrot and Courgette soup
Friday: Keema Matar

So very Moorish

Last year I overcame severe claustrophobia to fly to Marrakech for my honeymoon. I say ‘overcame’ but it was more a case of ‘doped myself up to the eyeballs on diazepam’ Son2 was only 15 months old at the time but my mum had volunteered to look after both the boys for 6 days while we celebrated our nuptials in the scorching heat of Morocco.  We had picked Marrakech for 2 reasons.

1.       Your money goes twice as far there as it would in Europe. We had an amazing suite in a riad, with its own roof terrace and plunge pool and a houseboy to bring us copious booze(most of which was included in the price). All for around £140 per night, which would get you a very average hotel room in Italy or France

2.       Their food is amazing
While we were there we ate in some of the best restaurants and had fantastic food every day. One of the best meals I have ever eaten was in a restaurant called Tobsil, we had a main course of chicken wrapped in pancakes, which sounds unremarkable but was unbelievably good. However there was also a cook at the riad who was outstanding. She made fabulous tagines and the best tomato salad in the entirety of the world ever.
Upon our return we bought a tagine (and were given two more in a bizarre day I call ‘The day with 3 tagines’) and I have had a lot of success in my experimentations. Moroccan food is perfect for entertaining as they tend to serve a lot of salads, most of which can be prepared in advance, and slow cooked meat. My sort of food.
So yesterday we were going to be out all afternoon at a picnic/birthday party and I wanted a proper meal for when we got back. So I shoved a happy chicken in my tagine in its entirety. I rubbed in a Morccan spice blend of cumin, coriander, cinnamon and harissa (or you can just use one of those premixed blends) and shoved a couple of preserved lemons up its backside. Splash of water in the bottom, lid on and into the oven for a couple of hours at 180. While it was cooking I made my two favourite Moroccan salads/accompaniments.
Sweet tomato jam
Fab served with chicken or lamb. Once made you can keep it in the fridge, in a clean jam jar, with a layer of oil over the top, for a couple of weeks.

2 small onions, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tins plum/chopped tomatoes
Tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
Tbsp sugar
Tbsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onion in a little oil until soft
Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes
Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, ginger and sugar
Simmer for about an hour, until the mixture becomes thick and jam-like
Add the honey and seasoning
Leave to cool

Moroccan carrot salad

4 large carrots, grated
Juice 1 lemon
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
Tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped coriander

Mix it all together and leave for an hour or more before serving

So while we were out the chicken rested, the carrot salad infused and upon our return all I had to do was make a green salad with red onion, slice few chunks of baguette, pour out a bowl of yogurt and plonk the chicken, jam and carrots on the table. It was fab and very reminiscent of our honeymoon, apart from the over-tired toddler spitting bread at us and seeing how dizzy he could make himself by shaking his head back and forwards as fast as he could. Oh, and after dinner I mopped the floors instead of retiring to my roof terrace. But overall, it was a bit similar, sort of.