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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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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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Roast Duck with Cherry and Ginger Glaze

And so it has come – the last of my duck experimentation recipes.

I have to admit to glancing at a recipe in a book store by Maggie Beer that has inspired this creation. I remember it used a cherry jam with some fresh ginger as the glaze and suggested some preparation ideas that were a little unusual to me. Never the less, I committed those few things to memory and have created this dish with those things in mind.

Roast Duck with Cherry and Ginger Glaze

[ Serves: 4 – 6 | Time: 30 Minutes | Cost: $4 ]
[ Joes Rating: 4 / 5 | My Rating: 4 / 5 ]

Ingredients

½ duck – I used the thigh / leg pieces
¼ – ½ cup cherry jam
1 teaspoon ginger

Method

  1. Mix the jam and ginger together. Apply heat if necessary to make it thin and well incorporated.
  2. Trim the excess fat and skin from the sides of the cut of duck.
  3. Lay the pieces on a wire rack in a sink and pour boiling water over the flesh. It should contract however, the pores in the skin will open to allow the marinade to sink right into the flesh.
  4. Transfer the pieces to a bowl and pour over about half of the jam mixture, rubbing it well into the skin.

    Notice the tightness in the flesh after the hot water has been used to open the pores?

  5. Bake the duck on a wire rack at 180°C until cooked. My pieces took roughly 30 minutes. Pour half of the retained glaze mixture about half way through the cooking process
  6. Rest for 10 minutes, covered with aluminium foil.
  7. Pour the remaining glaze mixture over the meat and serve while hot.

Hot sticky and crispy skin is a diabetics dilemma.

Observations

  • Be sparing with how much hot water you apply to open the pores in the skin. You don’t want that flesh to retract too much. It takes too long to relax again. The pores will visibly open though, so watch closely.
  • By baking the duck on a wire rack, you allow for the fats to run off rather than being absorbed into the meat. Its a healthier option for you. 
  • Ensure that you rest the duck before serving it. It will need it to relax or it will be tough.
  • I have to admit that I over cooked the duck by about 5 minutes. Watch the texture of the meat and try not to over cook it.
  • Diabetic Note: Like all jams, the cherry jam has a fair amount of sugar in it. I didn’t pour anywhere near as much jam on my piece. Go lightly with the jam and it will be a wonderful choice just the same.
  • Ethical Note: This is the last of my three dishes from one duck bird. I have to say, I am kinda thrilled at what I got off this one bird. It fed us three satisfying meals and the entire bird was utilised.

I served the duck with crispy baked vegetables and steamed greens.

 

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Duck Soup

I scoured the internet to try to find something to do with duck bones. Surely there was something other than boring old stock I could use them for. I certainly wasnt going to waste them! And that is when I stumbled upon this great post on Chow that gave me a sense of direction.

Duck Soup served two ways.

[ Serves: 4 | Time: 15 Minutes | Cost: $4 ]
[ Joes Rating: 3.5 / 5 | My Rating: 3 / 5 ]

Ingredients

Bones of 1 duck
1 – 2 litres stock
1 leek, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 – 3 sticks of celery, chopped
1 orange, juiced and zested
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves

Method

  1. Brown the bones in a large pot until they are well caramelised. Remove and reserve.

    Caramelised Duck Bones – rendering them in the pot allows you to cook the veggies in the delicious duck fat.

  2. Add the leek, celery, carrot and garlic to the pot and sauté them gently in the duck fat.

    Sauté the vegetables in the duck fat and don’t worry about the caramalisation – you will be de glazing!

  3. De-glaze the pot with the wine and cook for a few minutes until all the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the tomato paste and flour and cook off for several minutes. Ensure the flour is cooked well – this will take about five minutes.
  5. Add the bones, stock, parsley and bay leaves and boil for about 20 minutes, removing the scum from the surface regularly.

    By this stage, it should start to smell quite fragrant.

  6. Reduce the heat and add the orange juice and rind. Simmer lightly for 40 minutes.
  7. Strain the soup through cloth to remove the vegetables and serve the broth hot or eat it whole as a heartier soup.

Observations

  • I did as the original recipe suggested and strained the soup through cloth and just served the broth for my first tasting. Joe opted to forgo the strained soup and just ate it directly from the pot. I have to admit that I actually preferred it his way. Every other mouthful was a flavour explosion as you got a bit of orange rind and you don’t waste anything by eating it all.
  • I have to admit that I cheated a little. As I was cooking it and tasting it, I could only think of brown rice to accompany it. Just before serving, I made up some brown rice and put some into the bowls before the soup / broth went in. The combination was made of win.
  • Diabetic Note: Nothing scary here, other than the fat. If you are worried about the fat, dry fry the vegetables rather than in the rendered duck fat. I did however, forgo the cream that is suggested in the original recipe for fat / calorie reasons.
  • Ethical Note: Oh how I love meals like this. There is something about utilising the whole of the bird that just tickles my fancy. On top of the fact that I used the bones, I really struggled with discarding the vegetables in the soup just for presentations sake. I had a bowl strained to taste it, but as I mentioned above, I ended up having a second bowl a la natural with rice and it was just fine!

Duck soup served two ways – a la natural and Strained Broth

 

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Broccoli Pasta Sauce

No, I didn’t make a mistake with the title. The dish really is a Broccoli Pasta Sauce. A rather amazing and totally delicious sauce at that. This is definitely a “don’t judge a book by its cover” type deal and is inspired by Tea and Cookies. Enjoy!

Broccoli Pasta Sauce – Don’t judge a book by its cover.

[ Serves: 4 | Time: 15 Minutes | Cost: $4 ]
[ Joes Rating: 4 / 5 | My Rating: 4 / 5 | Brittanys rating: 4 / 5 ]

Ingredients

5 cups broccoli
1 onion, diced
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino Cheese to taste

Method

  1. Wash the broccoli and cut it into bite size chunks, including the stems. Steam or boil the broccoli until it is tender – about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large frying pan, bring a drizzle of oil to temperature and fry of the onion and garlic until transparent. Add the drained broccoli and saute for a few minutes until tender and coated in the oil and onion mixture.
  3. Pour the broccoli and onion mixture into a blender. Add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water.
  4. Mix through hot pasta and serve with grated cheese.

Season it well and serve with grated pecorino cheese

Observations

  • Reserve the water from the boiling / steaming process to use to thin out the sauce during the blending stage. Also, reserving vegetable water is perfect for feeding sourdough starter!
  • I was honestly so surprised at the taste of this dish. I was even more surprised at how Brittany loved it. Seriously, the child lapped it all up and was looking for more! Definitely a winner.
  • Diabetic Note: Ok, so pasta is naughty. And I struggle really hard when I do eat it. Be wary of your serving size and opt for more sauce than pasta and you *might* be ok. (Remember, pasta is ~70% carbohydrates.)
  • Ethical Note: Oh how awesome is this recipe. You use the stems too. Far too often broccoli stems are discarded as waste even though they are delicious and totally edible.
  • Did you get all the way to the bottom and are still trying to work out why I haven’t gotten duck recipe #2 published yet? Tomorrow guys, I promise! 🙂

This is my portion. I try to make it small and keep to 1 cup cooked pasta.

 

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Stuffed Chicken Thigh

Every now and then, Joe cooks dinner. I always enjoy a night off and I adore the amount of effort he puts into his cooking. He spends days (yes, days) researching what he wants to make, watches a dozen or two youtube videos on the techniques used and makes a deal out of shopping for his ingredients. It’s like a dinner AND a show when Joe cooks.

I have asked him to blog this himself, but he is a little shy. So, I’ll do it for him. I bring you, Joes Stuffed Chicken Thighs. (I mean, he stuffed the chicken thighs. Not that he has stuffed chicken thighs…)

Joes Stuffed Chicken Thighs

[ SERVES: 4 | TIME: 60 MINUTES | COST: $15 ]
[ JOES RATING: 5 / 5 | MY RATING: 5 / 5 | BRITTANYS RATING: 5 / 5 ]

 Ingredients

4 free ranged chicken thigh fillets
1 cup breadcrumbs 
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped coarse
1 cup dried cranberries
½ brie wheel
2 eggs
Butchers String

Method

  1. In a bowl, mix the nuts, cranberries and wedges of brie cheese.
  2. Lay the chicken fillet on a board with the smooth side down. Cut into the flesh with a sharp knife but do not cut all the way through. Push the cheese and nut mixture into the cut lines of the chicken thigh before rolling up and tying up tightly with butchers string.
  3. Beat the eggs in a bowl. In a large container, place your breadcrumbs. Egg wash the rolled fillets, ensuring it gets an even coat. Then place into the container with the breadcrumbs and shake the container gently to coat the fillet evenly. Repeat this process so the fillets are egg washed and crumbed twice.

    See how Joe has tied these thigh fillets with butchers string? This will stop them from falling apart during the cooking. Just be sure to warn your guests before they eat the string!

  4. Once they are crumbed, let them rest for 10 minutes before cooking. This allows the stuffing to bond firmly.

    Note the cracks in the crust? This is after one egg wash / crumbing. Allowing them to rest reveals the imperfections in the coating.

  5. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Arrange the fillets on the baking paper so they aren’t touching. Bake at 200°C for 40 – 50 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Perfectly cooked stuffed thigh fillet with char grilled vegetables. What’s not to love here?

Observations

  • More Joe, more… WE WANT MORE. Seriously though, it was delicious. Joe served it with some char grilled and steamed vegetables which were just delicious.
  • I know I’ve sung the praises of free ranged chicken a lot, but this is one meal that really enhances the delicate tastes of free range chicken.
  • Joe warns that the stuffing mixture was very sticky because of the brie. Work gently and carefully to ensure it ends up all throughout the thigh.
  • Don’t like the idea of dry baking these babies? Fry them in a little butter for a tastier alternative. Just add a splash of olive oil to stop the butter from burning.
  • Diabetic Note: This is pretty good from a diabetic angle as far as carbohydrates go. Fats may be a different story, though. There are a fair amount of fats in the cheese and of course if it’s fried in butter… The healthier option is to dry bake it.
  • Ethical Note: Free Ranged Chicken – enough said.

Joe is getting better and better in the kitchen. I’d best watch myself before I lose my family cook title.

 

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