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Tag Archives: sustainability

Roast pork, slow cooker style

Slow cooked roast pork

Everyone has made roasts in slow cookers. It’s a fabulous way to make a delicious meal when you have a busy day ahead. And it’s so easy. After all, it’s just prepping the meat and veggies and dropping them into the slow cooker and letting the slow cooker do the work while you go off for the day. Easy peasy, right?

Today I wanted to share something simple with you. Brittany likes crispy potatoes. Who doesn’t? Problem is, the slow cooker doesn’t brown the vegetables. So here is what I did. I cut the soft crackling off the pork and allowed the pork to rest covered with aluminium foil. In a sauté pan, I rendered off the pork skin, making some crispy crackling.

What is a pork roast with out the crackling?

After I removed the crackling, I threw the potatoes in the pan and used the pork fat to brown the potatoes and bring in that delicious crunch. After I crisped up the potatoes, I used the left over juices to make a rich gravy.

It’s a difficult but delicious trade-off. Yum!

Ethically, I’ve used the whole cut, even the fat and juices. For the health conscious consumer like diabetics, pork fat is high in saturated fats and is not the best choices. There are may scientific links between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease. The choice to consume or limit your intake is ultimately yours. Generally I avoid it, but today, I indulged.

 

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Asian Inspired Greens

Sometimes, clean fresh flavours are what inspires me the most. Don’t get me wrong; there is always a place for technique, but there is something delightful about pure ingredients. This quick slap together lunch is a classic example.

[ Serves: 2 | Time: 15 Minutes | Cost: $3 ]
[ Brittanys Rating: 4.5 / 5 | My Rating: 4.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients

1 bunch bok choy
1 bunch pak choy
1 bunch baby broccoli
1 zucchini, sliced thick
1 handful green beans
chilli flakes to taste

Sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon teriyaki sauce
¼ teaspoon stevia or 1 teaspoon sugar

Method

  1. Steam the vegetables in stages so they are cooked but still fresh and crisp on the plate.
  2. Mix all the sauce ingredients together and toss the vegetables in a bowl with the sauce. Ensure the vegetables are coated well with the sauce.
  3. Serve hot in a bowl with or without noodles. Sprinkle with chilli to taste.

Observations

  • Yum. Enough said!
  • Diabetic Note: No drama at all with this plate. If you are insulin dependent, add some noodles for carbs.
  • Ethical Note: Raw or near raw, fresh, and local. So awesome.
 

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Hot English Muffins – the sourdough variety!

This is not my recipe. Not in the slightest. The full credit for this goes to Susan from Wild Yeast. Nevertheless, breakfast perfection has been achieved and it is my sworn duty to report such wins to you!

Sourdough hot English muffins with scrambled eggs. Just what the doctor ordered.

[ Makes: 8 | Time: 24 hours | Cost: $4 ]
[ Joes Rating: 4 / 5 | My Rating: 4.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients – Sponge

110 g starter
160 g plain flour
100 g wholemeal flour
275 ml soy milk

Final dough

75 g plain flour
1.5 teaspoon agave or ½ teaspoon stevia
1  teaspoon bicarbonate soda
¾ teaspoon salt

Polenta to sprinkle

Method

  1. Mix the sponge ingredients together. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow to rest overnight.

    Cover and rest

  2. Add the final dough ingredients and mix to incorporate. Turn out on a clean bench and mix by hand. The dough is very sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour. The mixture will thicken up after a lot of kneading – about 8 – 10 minutes.

    When you start to knead, the dough will be extremely sticky. Resist the urge to add flour!

  3. Use a bread scraper to get the dough off the bench and sprinkle with flour.

    The dough will still be sticky but it will be usable.

  4. Flatten the dough on the floured bench until it is about an inch thick. Use a cutter or a glass to cut out the muffins. Dust the outsides of the muffin with polenta.
  5. Cover and let proof for an hour or three.
  6. Heat a frying pan with a little oil over a low to medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes on each side, turning regularly to maintain shape.
  7. Cool on a wire rack. To use, slit the muffins with a fork and toast until golden.

    before and after toasting.

Observations

  • I’ve made these several times now with mixed results. Take my advice; don’t allow the sponge to rest for more than overnight. It fails to rise when it’s rested for more. Make sure you allow it the second rest period after its been shaped.
  • Diabetic Note: There is nothing too evil here. Treat it like you do bread – one or two slices is allowable. More will wreak havoc with your blood glucose levels.
  • Ethical Note: Sourdough – enough said 🙂

I mentioned the bread scraper. It is a firm but flexible piece of plastic that is excellent for scraping bowls and manipulating dough. If you are getting aboard the sourdough train, make sure you get yourself one.

 

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Leeks, White Wine and Mussels

 

I happened to be at the Ballina Fisherman’s Coop recently when I spied this rather brilliant product. Kinkawooka Shellfish distribute 1 kg live, cleaned, scrubbed and de-bearded mussels in a bag that retail for around $15/kg. The product is fresh, tasty and easy to use. So, as usual, I jumped before I looked. I acquired some without even considering what I might actually do with them. Nevertheless, I wiped something up that fit the bill.

Leeks, White Wine and Mussels

[ Serves: 4 | Time: 60 Minutes | Cost: $18 ]
[ Joes Rating: 3 / 5 | My Rating: 3.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients

1 kg farmed mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1.5 cups white wine
1 leek, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon butter
drizzle olive oil
Wholemeal pasta to serve
salt and pepper to taste

The packaging for Kinkawooka Shellfish’s live mussels.

Method

  1. In a deep sided pan, sauté the leek in a little olive oil. When fragrant, add the garlic and stir well.
  2. Add the wine to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the mussels and stir once. Place the lid over the pan and sauté for 8 minutes.
  3. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Stir the butter and parsley through the sauce and over the mussels. Season to taste.
  4. Serve hot with pasta and crusty bread.

Remove any that don’t open; they were dead and may be tainted. All mine opened; a testament to their freshness!

Observations

  • I loved this product; there is nothing like fresh produce to remind you of the simple things in life. Even though they were cleaned, I did pick over them and notice that they were a few with tiny beards still in place.
  • Joe and Brittany both loved the sauce and pasta but hated the mussels. Neither are seafood fans so guess what? More for me!
  • Diabetic Note: There is nothing bad here. I have opted to avoid using cream in this dish but I did use the butter as a lower fat content substitute. Nevertheless, there is only a tiny amount so the only real carbohydrates in the dish comes from the pasta you serve it with. I used wholemeal fettucine.
  •   And best of all, my Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide doesn’t recognise farmed mussels as being an unsustainable harvest and give it the green tick. Its one of very few seafood items that does get a green tick.

Mussels for me! With some berry ice tea. So yum!

 

 

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Chicken, Chickpea and Pumpkin Middle Eastern inspired Curry

I can’t lay claim to having created this dish, as the original came from the Women’s Day fame.

Chicken, Chickpea and Pumpkin Curry

[ Serves: 4 | Time: 60 Minutes | Cost: $8 ]
[ Brittanys Rating: 4.5 / 5 | My Rating: 4.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients

1 small chicken, broken down into pieces (about 1kg worth)
3 cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 onion, diced
1 can tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
1½ teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
toasted almond slivers for garnish

Spices

Method

  1. In a large saute pan, fry the onions in a little oil until translucent. Add the spices and garlic and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds or so.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the pan and mix well. Add the chicken and chick peas and ensure they are coated in the mixture. Cook over a moderate heat with the lid on until the chicken is tender; about 15 minutes.

    Submerge the chicken in the sauce.

  3. Add the pumpkin and stir to mix everything well. Cook with the lid on until the pumpkin and chicken are cooked through. This may take another 20 or so minutes.

    Adding the pumpkin

  4. Garnish with toasted almonds and serve hot, with or without rice.

Observations

  • I adored the bold flavours of this dish. I am so used to Asian style curries that every now and then I will try a middle eastern curry and be blown away. The pumpkin is a winner in this dish and I think it won over Brittany too!
  • Brittany and I both adored the crunch of the nuts in the garnish. So much so that we ended up including a lot more than is strictly required for a garnish.
  • The sauce thickened up too much for me on a few occasions and I added a splash of water to it to keep it at the right consistency.

    when the sauce has reduced too much, add some water.

  • I used a whole size 10 chicken in this recipe. I broke it down into pieces and removed the skin from the larger pieces. This reduces the fat content and makes it a healthier meal without losing on taste.
  • Diabetic Note: There are about 15 grams of carbohydrates in the pumpkin but the rice, as always is a killer. There are around 45 grams of carbohydrates per 150 grams (about half a cup) of cooked rice. Watch your serving sizes to stay out of trouble.
  • Ethical Note: I won this chicken in a raffle and instead of roasting it, I broke it down to use it in this meal. I reserved the bones to make my own chicken stock. Sustainability sometimes requires thinking outside the box.
 

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Broad (Fava) Bean Risotto

 

I love beans of all variety, and broad beans are no exception. When I was a little girl, I grew up on them as a staple. Lately I’ve been craving them in my diet and when I stumbled across this gem of a recipe by Yummly, I knew I had to give it a try – with my own changes, of course! =)

Broad Bean Risotto

[ Serves: 2 | Time: 24hrs + 15 Minutes | Cost: $3 ]
[ Joes Rating: 5 / 5 | My Rating: 4.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients

100 grams dried broad beans
1 large onion
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups vegetable stock
½ cup white wine
½ cup Pecorino cheese
¼ cup low-fat cream ¹
2 cloves garlic
½ tablespoon sage
drizzle olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Soak the dried beans in water over night with a pinch of bicarbonate soda. After a good soak, slightly twist each bean or squeeze from the sides to remove the hard skins. Discard the skins. After a rinse under cold running water, the beans are ready to be used.
  2. Put the stock in a pot and bring to a light simmer.
  3. In a larger pot, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent. Don’t allow to brown.
  4. Stir the dry rice into the mixture and give it a stir to coat it well with the oil, onions and garlic.
  5. De-glaze with the wine and cook over a warm – moderate heat until the wine has been absorbed.
  6. Add ½ – 1 cup of hot stock to the mixture and stir frequently while the rice absorbs the fluid.
  7. Continue slowly adding stock until the rice is cooked. This will take about 25 – 35 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick.
  8. When the rice is tender, add the cream, cheese, sage and beans to the pot and stir it gently to combine it well.
  9. Season to taste and serve immediately with some grated cheese to garnish.

 

A well made risotto should still show the individual rice grains and not be a gluggy mess. The black masses in the photo are peppercorns form the cheese.

Observations

  • Note 1: I recently discovered this wonderful Kraft’s product range Philadelphia Cream Cheese called Cream for Cooking. This is the first time I have used it and found it produced a really good flavour without all the carbohydrates. It boasts 60% less fat than regular cream, so look out for it.
  • I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with this risotto. It was creamy, filling, flavourful and the taste just lingered all night on my palate.
  • Diabetic Note: 100 grams of cooked arborio rice is about 35g carbohydrates. There are roughly 10 grams of carbs between the cream and beans. This meal will sneak in to the tightest carbohydrate budget as long as you observe strict serving sizes.
  • Ethical Note: Dried legumes allows you to use seasonal crops all year round. The ability to dry legumes for later use reduces wastage. Learn to love legumes and once you have mastered No Meat Monday, try Legumes Thursday!

 

 

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Turkey English Muffins for Breakfast

I never usually buy commercial bread products. Mine are so much tastier and a darn sight better for me! Nevertheless, I have succumbed and bought a packet of English Breakfast Muffins. The reason behind this is to understand the texture and taste of them because I think my sourdough adventures will lead to a tastier home-made version sometime soon.

So my experiments begin. I must seek awesome ways of eating this delightful muffin. Is this awesome cleverly disguised as a breakfast dish? Id say so, but I may be biased.

Turkey English Muffins for Breakfast

[ Serves: 2 | Time: 15 Minutes | Cost: $5 ]
[ Joes Rating: 5 / 5 | My Rating: 4.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients

2 English muffins
100g turkey breast
2 organic free ranged eggs
1 tomato, sliced
2 cheese slices
handful baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cranberry jelly
salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Slice all the ingredients ready for construction while the muffin is hot.
  2. Split the muffins in half at the join line and toast lightly.
  3. While the muffin is toasting, lightly scramble one egg in a bowl and pop it in the microwave oven for 30 – 40 seconds until cooked. 

    Quick method for light fluffy eggs

  4. Once the muffin has been toasted, spread mayonnaise on one half and cranberry jelly on the other. On the mayonnaise side, add the baby spinach, tomato, salt and pepper, turkey, cheese, egg and more salt and pepper. 

    Construction of a master piece.

  5. Devour immediately.

So yummy

Observations

  • This was so tasty and filling. Much happiness comes from such a complete breakfast!
  • A note about seasoning. If you noticed, I seasoned the muffin twice; on the tomatoes and on the eggs. I believe both require adequate seasoning to enhance their flavours. Do a blind taste test on a piece of tomato and a bit of egg both seasoned and unseasoned and you will understand my rationale behind this.
  • I’ve heard and read a lot of things both for and against microwaved proteins. I hardly ever use my microwave, but this 30 – 40 second zap for one egg produces light, fluffy eggs that are otherwise time-consuming and require a lot of clean up. My only word of caution is to not over cook the eggs in the microwave, unless you want rubber fighting weapons for comic skits.
  • Want a vegetarian version? Just leave the turkey off and perhaps substitute a lentil patty!
  • Diabetic Note: One of these muffins is within my carbohydrate budget. The protein from the turkey, cheese and egg (particularly the egg) keeps me full for hours. While you may be pushing the fats friendship from the egg content and cheese, all in all this is a pretty balanced and awesome breakfast!
  • Ethical Note: I used tomatoes from my garden. YAY! And with any luck, next time I write to you about English Muffins, it will be about my own home made sourdough version. Fingers crossed!
 

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