Showing posts with label diabetic-friendly recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label diabetic-friendly recipes. Show all posts

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Low-Carb Roast Baby Cabbage Wedges with Bacon

My sister, an excellent cook, suggested this method for roasting fresh young cabbages, and I was dubious at first because I'm not enthusiastic about cooked cabbage. How wrong I was - thank you Sophie! These tender, slightly charred wedges are quite simply delicious with their plain dressing of fruity olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Low-Carb Roast Baby Cabbage Wedges with Bacon
As a Type-2 diabetic, I'm always looking out for good ideas about preparing ultra-simple, nutritious, low-carb veggie dishes, and I'm so sold on this recipe that I've made it three times in the last fortnight.

You can, if you fancy, add all sorts of extra flavours to the wedges - Sophie uses a delicious dusting of powdered fennel seeds. I reckon I might try caraway seeds or garlic next time I make this. But, for now, I think they're perfect with just a tingle of heat from the dried chilli flakes, plus plenty of black pepper.

I've added crisped-up bacon bits for a touch of luxury, but you can of course leave these out. This is best with good quality cubes of bacon (I buy mine at my favourite, most excellent German butchery), but if you can't find these, you can use decent streaky bacon instead.

 Low-Carb Roast Baby Cabbage Wedges with Bacon 

2 baby cabbages
the juice of 1 big lemon
5 Tbsp (75 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) dried red chilli flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (250 ml) bacon cubes, or 10 rashers of bacon, chopped

Arrange the wedges cut-side up on a tray.
Heat the oven to 200 °C, fan on, or 210 °C if your oven has no fan. Cut each cabbage into four wedges and arrange, cut side up, on a baking sheet.

Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with chilli flakes and season generously with salt and pepper.

Roast for about 35 minutes, or until the edges of the wedges are slightly blackened, and they are tender on the insides.

Ten minutes before the end of the roasting time, fry the bacon until just crisp, then drain and keep hot.

Sprinkle the bacon cubes over the cabbage, add another spritz of lemon juice and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a side dish; 2 as a main course

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Saturday, 11 October 2014

Seared Beef or Venison ‘Carpaccio’ with a Thai-Style Dressing

Carpaccio is a brilliant choice of starter or snack if you're on a low-carb or diabetic regime. I'm always astonished when people tell me they don't fancy carpaccio, because to my mind the combination of rosy leaves of beef fillet, sharp salty Parmesan shavings, fruity olive oil and a spritz of lemon juice is the food of the gods. It may seem like heresy to tinker with this formula by using a zippy Asian dressing, but the result is sensational. Follow my measurements to the letter, though, because the punchy ingredients will overpower the delicate meat if they're not used with restraint.

Seared Gemsbok 'Carpaccio' with a Thai-Style Dressing.
Plate by David Walters, Master Potter of Franschhoek

Wine recommendation from Michael Oliver. He says: "Du Toitskloof Tunnel White."
 Go to the end of this page for more detail about this wine pairing.

It’s impossible to produce paper-thin slices of carpaccio at home unless you have an industrial slicing machine, or you freeze the fillet first. I don’t have the former and won’t ruin the texture of the meat by doing the latter, so my solution is to flatten the leaves of fillet with a rolling pin.

I usually make this with beef, but it's also excellent with good-quality venison fillets. In this picture, I used gemsbok from the Gardens Continental Butchery in Kloof Street, which was as tender as a baby's cheek.

Strew the top of the dish with any tiny leaves or micro-herbs you can find - I used the tiniest flat-leaf parsley leaves, from the heart of a plant that cheekily seeded itself in a crack between two paving stones in my garden.

The recipe contains a very small amount of sugar (essential to create the perfect hot-sour-sweet-salty balance that characterises Thai food) but if you're on a punishing no-carb regime, you can leave this out. Or add a whisper of your favourite sugar substitute.

This recipe - which serves 6-8 as a starter - comes from my book Scrumptious: Food for Family and Friends, and is reproduced here courtesy of Random House Struik.

If you like this recipe, try my low-carb Halloumi and Beef Carpaccio Salad with Crisp-Fried Capers, and Low-Carb Seared Tuna with a Burnt Tomato & Caper Dressing

Seared Beef or Venison ‘Carpaccio’ with  a Thai-Style Dressing

750 g fillet steak, or the equivalent weight of venison fillet
a little olive oil, for rubbing
4 tsp (20 ml) oil, for frying
small herb leaves, for garnish
white and black sesame seeds, for garnish

For the dressing:

2 limes (see Cook's Notes, below)
1 tsp (5 ml) white sugar
3-cm piece of lemon grass, bruised, peeled and finely sliced
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower oil
1 tsp (5 ml) finely grated palm sugar (or ordinary sugar)
1 tsp (5 ml) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) fish sauce
2 drops sesame oil

Rub a little olive oil all over the fillet. Wrap the meat lengthways in a large sheet of clingfilm and twist the ends in opposite directions to create a tight Christmas-cracker shape. Tuck the ends underneath and chill for at least 2 hours, or until needed.

Heat the oil in a large pan and, when it is blazing hot (but not yet smoking), quickly brown the meat on all sides. This should take no more than 2-3 minutes - less, if you have a slim venison fillet - and the meat should remain quite raw inside. Place in the fridge to cool for 15 minutes.

Cut the fillet into slices 3-4 mm thick. Place the slices between two sheets of clingfilm and use a rolling pin to thin and gently stretch the meat to the desired thickness. Alternatively, you can use the back of the blade of a heavy knife to stretch and flatten the slices.

To make the dressing, cut the limes in half and dip the cut end in the white sugar. Place them, sugar-side down, in a hot non-stick frying pan. Cook until the cut surface is nicely browned and caramelised. (If you're on a sugar-free regime, leave out this step and squeeze the lime juice directly into the dressing.)

Cool the limes for a few minutes, then squeeze the warm juice into the jug attachment of a stick blender. Add all the remaining dressing ingredients and whizz at high speed until well combined. The dressing should be slightly coarse, with tiny 'bits'.  If you don't have a blender, very finely slice the ingredients and pound everything together with a mortar and pestle before whisking in the liquid dressing ingredients.

Spread a little dressing on the base of a platter or several smaller plates. Arrange the meat slices on top and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Strew over the herb leaves, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Serves 8 as a starter.

Cook’s Notes

The fillet can be seared, sliced and refrigerated, and the dressing made, up to 3 hours in advance, but put them together just before you serve the dish or the dressing will ‘cook’ the fillet. If you can’t find fresh limes, use lemons instead.

Wine pairing by Michael Olivier

It looks like: Very refreshing in a dew dropped bottle. Pale golden straw in colour with some lime green flashes around the rim of the glass.
It smells like: Grapey, fresh, yellow apples and a lime squirt.
It tastes like: Crisp off-dry fruity.

This is a non-vintage wine.

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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Low-Carb Lemon & Turmeric Meatballs in Lettuce Cups, with a Creamy Tahini Sauce

You can add any spices and aromatics you fancy to these juicy no-carb meatballs. I've included two hefty teaspoons of turmeric (because scientists keep discovering the amazing health benefits of this interesting yellow root) plus lemon zest for zing, and the usual warming spices I love so much -  cumin, coriander and smoked paprika. These are quick and easy to make because there's no arduous peeling, chopping or frying of onions involved, nor any whizzing-up of breadcrumbs.

Lemon & Turmeric Meatballs in Lettuce Cups, with a Creamy Tahini Sauce

Chives add a mild oniony bite, and a few dollops of  Greek yoghurt keep the meatballs nice and soft. If I wasn't on a low-carb regime, I'd serve these heaped over hot couscous perfumed with fresh mint and coriander, or perhaps with my aromatic naartjie couscous or Citrus Couscous Salad.  But I have to say they're also very good in crisp little iceberg lettuce cups piled with chopped cucumber, fresh mint and a creamy tahini sauce.

I particularly love the combination of hot and cold in this dish.  The meatballs must be very hot when you add them to the lettuce cups, and the tahini cream sauce very cold. The sauce is mild, delicate and creamy, containing Greek yoghurt and - something that is so allowed on my diabetic regime - a little cream to round out the flavours. I like tahini, but I often find traditional Mediterranean tahini sauces (basically, sesame-seed paste whisked with water, garlic and lemon juice) thin and somewhat bitter.

The only important watchpoint is to use fresh tahini that is still fairly runny.  Tahini tends to stiffen in the jar as it ages, and it also oxidises quite quickly, even if you've stored it in the fridge. If you can't easily spoon it out of the jar, throw it out and buy a fresh jar.

If you're not a fan of tahini, serve these meatballs with hummous, or tzatziki, or garlicky home-made mayonnaise.

This recipe makes a large quantity - around 48, depending on the size you roll them to.  Put the raw meatballs into a lidded plastic box, and they will keep in the fridge for two days. Alternatively, you can freeze them - still raw - then defrost them overnight in the fridge before frying them. You can make these using beef mince alone, or a combination of pork and mince (I often add ground pork to meatballs because it adds a special juiciness), or even with chicken mince.

Lemon & Turmeric Meatballs in Lettuce Cups, with a Creamy Tahini Sauce

For the meatballs:
1 kg beef mince, or a combination of beef and pork mince; or chicken mince
finely grated zest of a big lemon
4 Tbsp (60 ml) Greek yoghurt
1 large free-range egg, lightly whisked
a bunch of chives, finely snipped (about 5 Tbsp/75 ml)
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed (or more, to taste)
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) coriander powder
1 tsp (5 ml) chilli powder
1 tsp (5 ml) smoked paprika [optional]
2 tsp (10 ml) turmeric
2 tsp (10 ml) cumin
freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil, for frying

To serve:
tahini cream sauce (see below)
2 iceberg lettuces
1 large English cucumber, finely chopped
a few sprigs of fresh mint

For the tahini cream sauce:
4 tsp (20 ml) fresh tahini
1 cup (250 ml) thick Greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed (or more, to taste)
the juice of half a big lemon
3 Tbsp (45 ml) cream
salt and a pinch of white pepper

First make the meatballs. Combine all the ingredients in a  big bowl, and use your hands to squish and squeeze the mixture so everything is very well combined.  Be warned: turmeric can stain your hands! I use thin plastic deli gloves when I'm making these.

To test the seasoning, make a tiny patty with the mixture and fry it in a lick of oil until it's cooked through.  If you think it needs more salt or spiciness, adjust the mixture to your liking.

Roll the mixture into small neat balls, each about the size of a large marble, and arrange them on a big plate or tray. Place them, uncovered, in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to firm up.

Heat the oven to 180 ºC and place a baking sheet or roasting tray in it to heat up.

While the meatballs are chilling, make the tahini cream sauce.  Place all the ingredients in a  bowl and whisk until smooth. If your tahini paste is a little stiff, use a blender to whizz everything together. Tip the sauce into a bowl, cover it with clingfilm and refrigerate.

Arrange the meatballs in a circle in your pan, so
you can flip them over in the order in which
you added them.
Now cook the meatballs. Heat a little sunflower oil in a large frying pan, and when it is hot and shimmering, add eight to ten meatballs.  When I'm frying meatballs, I always arrange them in a circle in the pan so I can flip them over in the order in which I added them.

Fry the meatballs for one or two minutes, or until golden and crusty on the underside, then flip them over and continue to fry for a further two minutes. Lift the meatballs out of the pan, and slide them onto the preheated roasting pan in the oven so they can finish cooking for a further ten minutes or so. Repeat this process with the remaining meatballs.

In the meantime, use a sharp knife to cut out the cores of the iceberg lettuces.  Strip off and discard the outer limp leaves, and remove the inner leaves, each in one piece.  Arrange the lettuce cups on a platter, and add a few tablespoons of chopped cucumber to each one.

Tuck a few hot meatballs into each lettuce cup, drizzle over the cold tahini sauce and top with a sprig of mint.

Makes about 48 meatballs, and serves 6-8. 

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Low-Carb Pea, Spinach and Parsley Soup with Bacon Bows

Sequinned with olive oil, swirled with cream and flourished with a bacon bow, this fresh-flavoured soup is quick to make and tastes as lovely as a spring morning. The bacon bow is twee, I admit, but I added it to my soup as a personal reminder a) to have fun with food and b) that a bit o' bacon is SO allowed on my new diabetic regime.

Low-Carb Pea, Spinach and Parsley Soup with a Bacon Bow

What I love about this soup is that a fast cooking time allows its individual flavours - leeks, peas, baby spinach leaves and curly parsley - to sing in clean voices. I hesitated to use frozen peas as a thickener for this soup, believing them to be rather starchy (and thus verboten along with potatoes and cornflour), but was pleased to discover that they are not to be feared, having an average glycaemic index value of 48. All three of the South African frozen-pea brands I checked contain fewer than 6g of carbohydrate per 100 g, which is a piffling amount in the broader scheme of things.  However, as I'm not (yet) an expert on these matters, I advise you to read the nutrition labels on your pack of frozen peas if you're on a low-carb or diabetic diet.  

A dribble of fruity olive oil brings all the flavours to life.

In this recipe I've asked you to use proper chicken or veggie stock, but if you don't have a home-made stash in your freezer, you can feel no shame in using a good-quality jellied stockpot or fond (see my Cook's Notes at the end of the recipe). 

A dobbling of extra-virgin olive oil just before serving takes this soup to a new level, because the residual heat in the bowl releases lovely fruity aromas.  (But you need not stick to olive oil.  I don't want to own up to this for fear of sounding piggy, but today I stirred a big blob of Hellmann's mayonnaise into my mug of left-over soup, and it tasted like Christmas.)

Low-Carb Pea, Spinach and Parsley Soup with Bacon Bows

3 Tbsp (45 ml) olive or sunflower oil
2 large leeks, white parts only, finely sliced
1 plump clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock (see Cook's Notes, below)
4 cups (250 ml x 4) frozen baby peas
1 x 400 g pack baby spinach leaves
a large bunch of curly parsley, de-stalked, well rinsed and coarsely chopped (about 3 cups, loosely packed)
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
5 Tbsp (75 ml) cream
fruity extra-virgin olive oil, for sprinkling
salt and milled black pepper

For the bacon bows: 
8 rashers streaky bacon

Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the sliced leeks over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until they are translucent.  Don't allow them to brown or catch.  Stir in the garlic, fry gently for one more minute, then pour in the stock.  Turn up the heat and bring to a rolling boil.  

Add the frozen peas, all in one go. Stir to break up any frozen lumps, and cover the pot with a lid. Turn down the heat and cook at a gentle burble for five minutes, or until all ice crystals have disappeared. Now add the baby spinach leaves and chopped parsley to the pot, pressing them down with a spoon so they're submerged in liquid. Simmer, uncovered, for a further 5-7 minutes, or until the spinach and parsley are tender, but still a lively bright green.

Bacon bows!
Whip the pot off the stove and blitz it to a fairly fine purée, using a stick blender or liquidiser.  Return the soup to the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Now stir in the cream.  Serve hot, with bacon bows or crisp-fried crumbled bacon.

For the bacon bows: heat the oven to 200 ºC. Trim the bacon rashers so each one is perfectly straight and neat.  Cut off one quarter, crossways, of each rasher, and set aside: these will be the centres of the bows. Place the long strips of bacon on a baking sheet and fold them into bowtie-shapes by bringing their short edges together on the underside. Wrap the reserved short pieces around their middles to form neat bowties, and press out the bow ends using your fingertips.  Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp.  Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. 

Serves 8 as a starter or snack; 6 as a main course.   

Cook's Notes

An excellent chicken stock will add fine depth of flavour to this soup.  If you're in a hurry, you can use good boxed chicken stock, or boiling water plus a few teaspoonsful of a Nomu fond or a jellied Knorr Stock Pot.

If you can't find baby spinach leaves, you can use well-rinsed, finely chopped fresh chard instead.

Flat-leaf parsley will do for this dish, but I find that old-fashioned curly parsley has a distinctive perky flavour quite lacking in modern parsley hybrids.

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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Low-Carb Recipes: 35 Scrumptious Dishes from South Africa

I've had a flurry of emails from readers since I featured three low-carbohydrate recipes on this blog in recent months, all from people who've been inspired by South African sports scientist Professor Tim Noakes' recent conversion to a low-carb eating plan.

My version of Indonesian Gado-Gado (recipe below)
People on this regime seem to struggle most with finding interesting, satisfying vegetable dishes. 'It's so difficult to enjoy a dinner without potatoes, rice or pasta,' one person told me. 'I need something more exciting than a pile of steamed vegetables.'

I reckon that if you embark on a restrictive eating plan like this, possibly as a long-term lifestyle choice, you definitely need some excitement on your plate. And what better way to pleasure your brain's food-centre than to introduce thrilling flavours that punch you in the tastebuds and deaden any residual cravings for sugar and starch?

So: I've put together this list of 35 of my original low-carb recipes, and I hope you find them useful and inspiring.

Note: I'm not affiliated in any way with Professor Noakes, nor am I endorsing his eating plan, which remains contentious.

However, I find myself drifting closer and closer to its general principles because I love eating this way.  I've never been a great fan of starchy, sugary things anyway, and every time I've embarked on a low-carb diet I've shed kilos quickly. However, I freely admit that I've put some of the lard on again: it's difficult to sustain this diet for more than a month at a time, when thunderous cravings for mashed potatoes, wine gums (oh, okay, wine) and chocolate set in.

If you'd like to know more about how to follow this low-carb lifestyle, I can recommend this article by Professor Noakes.

Postscript, 8 February 2014: I have lost 22 kg in four months, mostly by following a Noakes-style low-carb regime. But more about that in a future blogpost.

Postscript, 23 March 2014: Here is the future blogpost I mentioned  above: Hello diabetes, and how I have had to adjust my cooking style

Cottage Cheese, Herb and Olive Oil Smothering Dip  A useful, all-purpose, very garlicky cold sauce that packs a powerful flavour punch. Pour it all over whatever you're eating hot, and the warmth of the chicken, fish, steak or veggies will release the aromatic flavours of garlic, herbs and olive oil.  I always keep a lidded plastic container of this in my fridge and use it in place of mayonnaise.

Cottage Cheese, Herb and Olive Oil Smothering Dip

Low-Carb Green Bean, Tomato & Prosciutto Salad with Basil Oil A really easy and delicious throw-together salad featuring beautiful young green beans. Click through to my recipe to find a sneaky way of top-and-tailing a lot of beans in seconds!

Low-Carb Green Bean, Tomato & Prosciutto Salad with Basil Oil
Bean, tomato & proscuitto salad
Oven-Roasted Ratatouille I make a huge tray of this at least once a week in summer, because everyone in my family loves it hot and topped with grated Parmesan. It also makes brilliant leftovers: enjoy it cold, with shavings of Parmesan or cubes of feta cheese or shredded fresh basil.  Or whizz it up with some vegetable stock to make a soup or a sauce for pasta.

 My Lemony Green Beans with Aïoli.  Image by Michael Le Grange
 © Random House Struik 2012. Bowl by David Walters.

Lemony Green Beans with Frizzled Prosciutto, Fried Breadcrumbs & Aïoli 
Strictly speaking, you should leave out the fried breadcrumbs if you're on a low-carb diet. In the picture above, I've used toasted flaked almonds instead of breadcrumbs. This is a dreamy combination and one of my family's favourites.

Marinated Mushrooms with Green Beans and Feta I first learned how to make marinated mushrooms when I was twelve years old, and here I've adapted the recipe to bulk it out with squeaky-fresh green beans and feta cheese.

Warm Marinated Olives with Lime, Thyme and Chilli You won't be able to serve this with warm crusty rolls, as I've suggested in the recipe, but you can add cubed feta and halved cherry tomatoes just before you serve it to create a flavour-crammed starter or snack for a summer meal.

Braised Baby Leeks with Halloumi 'Popcorn'  An adventurous dish with knock-out flavours and textures. Leave the out the bread crumbs if you're on a strict low-carb regime.

Salad of Warm Baby Leeks with Blue Cheese and Chilli Croutons Again, you'll have to forego the chilli croutons. For this salad, baby leeks are simmered whole in water, with a little olive oil and some herbs and garlic. By the time the water has evaporated, the leeks are as tender as a mother's love. They are then left to colour slightly in the remaining oil, and served warm with crumbled blue cheese.

Cauliflower Salad with Crisp-Fried Chorizo Sausage and a Warm Lemon Dressing  An easy tapas-style dish with sensational flavours and textures: shaved raw cauliflower with crumbled fried chorizo, crisp breadcrumbs, a whisper of garlic and a warm lemony olive-oil dressing. Leave out the breadcrumbs if you're evangelical about this diet.

Make an open sandwich using a grilled chicken breast as a base, or pack the filling
between two breasts and secure with a skewer. 

Low-Carb Mediterranean Chicken 'Sandwich' 
I used grilled chicken breasts instead of bread slices to create this nutrient-packed lunch dish, which is packed with lovely sunny ingredients including feta, scorched tomatoes, olives, artichokes and rocket.

Spiced Baked Aubergines with Yoghurt  A plain dish with simple flavours, but you'll love it if you're a big fan of aubergines.

Pea & Pea-Shoot Salad with Bacon & Eggs
Pea and Pea-Shoot Salad with Bacon and Eggs  Peas do contain some carbohydrates, but this lovely warm-and-cold dish contains just half a cup of them per serving, so I figure that's permissible  If you can't find pea shoots, use fresh rocket, mustard greens, spinach or bok choy.

Halloumi and Beef Carpaccio Salad with Fried Capers The ultimate in indulgence when it comes to a low-carb salad, in my opinion: crisp-fried halloumi cheese, thin slices of seared beef fillet and crunchy fried capers on a bed of peppery rocket.  Here's another, similar salad: Halloumi Salad with Lemon-Caper Dressing.

Egg and Fennel Salad with Nasturtium-Leaf Mayonnaise This salad of boiled eggs and shaved fennel, dressed with a caper & anchovy vinaigrette and a nasturtium-leaf mayonnaise, is surprisingly light and delicate, considering how much oil and egg it contains. If you can't find nasturtium leaves, mix a handful of chopped fresh herbs of your choice into the mayonnaise.

Double-Egged Crustless Spinach & Bacon Tart It's difficult to believe that such a substantial tart contains very few carbs, but there is not a speck of flour, cornflour or added sugar in this easy recipe.

Warm Duck Salad (see below)

Warm Duck Salad with Crackly-Topped Beetroot  
Duck is very expensive, but you can stretch two breasts between four mouths in this gorgeous salad. You'll need to leave out the dried cranberries if you're on a strict regime.  See my comments about the glycemic load of beetroot below.
Roast Baby Aubergines with Rocket and Peppered Cream Cheese,and a Tahini Dressing  A scattering of toasted pumpkin seeds gives this salad a satisfying crunch and a good nutritional kick in the pants: they, along with the sesame seeds in the tahini dressing, are among the most wholesome plant foods on earth, in my view. Here's a similar recipe: Warm Grilled Aubergine Slices with Chilli and Pesto

Slow-Cooked Courgettes & Cherry Tomatoes with Melty Feta  A lovely, bright dish that's good both hot or cold.  The half-teaspoon of sugar is there to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes, but you can leave it out and add a tiny pinch of bicarbonate of soda instead.

Pretty Little Individual Tuna Salads I designed this recipe for kids, but this makes a lovely starter for a low-carb feast, and looks so tempting in its perky collar of cucumber. 

Salad of Shaved Baby Fennel, Apple and Smoked Mackerel
Salad of Fennel, Apple & Smoked Mackerel
'Carpaccio' of Kohlrabi with Radishes and Blue Cheese Adapted from a dish in Anton Mosimann's 1991 book Naturally, this is a most unusual starter with its combination of creamy blue cheese, crisp, paper-thin kohlrabi and peppery radish.

Salad of Shaved Baby Fennel, Apple and Smoked Mackerel  If you've never been a fan of fennel, do try it raw in this salad, which is wonderfully nutritious, containing as it does oily fish. You'll need to leave the chilli-dusted croutons out of the recipe, though. 

Wine-Braised Baby Fennel in Crisped Prosciutto Delicate little fennel bulbs with a wrapping of salty ham. Okay, this recipe does contain wine, but all the alcohol boils away during cooking.

Roast Beef Fillet with Creamy Celeriac-and-Horseradish-Cream Salad Celeriac isn't very starchy, which makes it a great substitute for potatoes. Here, I've combined it with a creamy remoulade-style dressing to make a cool topping for roast fillet.

Roast Ratatouille Soup with Basil Mayonnaise This glorious brick-red soup, one of my favourite recipes, contains neither starchy veggies nor any flour or similar thickening agent. It's easy to make, and tastes even better the day after.

Salmon, Beetroot & Rocket Salad
Low-Carb Salmon, Beetroot and Rocket Salad This is a simple salad, but so satisfying: the combination of roasted beetroot, peppery rocket, meltingly tender flakes of salmon and little bursts of tart sweetness from the pomegranate seeds makes me want to eat it every day. Beetroot has a moderately high glycemic index value of 64, but its glycemic load is only five.

My Aunt's Avocado Mousse  I see that Professor Noakes includes avocados on his list of low-carb foods, so I bring you this retrolicious dish: a wobbly, creamy mousse of the palest green, pepped up with a subtle crunch of fresh chives.

Michael Le Grange's photograph of my Peri Peri Calamari with
 Chouriço Sausage.  Image © Random House Struik 2012. 

Peri Peri Calamari with Chouriço Sausage 
Peri-peri is one of South Africa’s favourite flavours.  Feel free to add more fresh chillies if you appreciate a blisteringly hot sauce. (This recipe is taken from my cookbook Scrumptious Food For Family and Friends.)

Calamari Salad with Thyme, Lemon, Chilli and Olives  This light, summery seafood salad, sparked with lemon juice, red chilli and fresh herbs, takes just ten minutes to make and keeps very well in the fridge for three to four days.

Gado-Gado: a hot & cold salad with a spicy peanut sauce
My version of Gado-Gado. You'll have to forego the potatoes.

This delicious and unusual dish of cooked vegetables, crisp salad ingredients and boiled eggs smothered with a piping-hot, spicy peanut sauce is my take on Gado-Gado, a dish popular all over Indonesia. Peanuts have a very low glycemic index value, but please leave the boiled new potatoes out of this recipe!

Tomatoes Baked with Garlic Butter and Cream A sinfully rich dish because it's loaded with fat, but it's low in carbs, and brilliant as a special treat with bacon and eggs.

Asparagus with Egg Mimosa, Butter and Breadcrumbs  Based on a classic ‘Polonaise’ dressing, this topping may be old fashioned, but it’s a time-tested classic for good reason.  Cooked, sieved egg yolks are called ‘mimosa’ because they resemble the fluffy yellow flowers of the plant of the same name. The bad news: you'll have to leave out the breadcrumbs. (Another recipe from my cookbook.)

Rainbow Trout en Papillote with Lemon and Herbs Light, bright and singing with clean flavours, this is a dish that I make often, using a variety of fresh, sustainable seafood: farmed trout, angelfish, yellowtail, snoek and black mussels.

Easy Chicken, Feta and Bacon Roll-Ups in a Tomato and Rosemary Sauce  Chicken breast fillets stuffed with feta, garlic and sage, rolled in bacon, crisped in a hot pan and then simmered in a rich tomato sauce. A bit fiddly, but well worth the effort if you're cooking for a special occasion.

My Aunt Gilly's Egg 'Bavarois' Okay, you'll have to leave out the sweet-chilli sauce topping. But this delicate, old-fashioned buffet dish, lightly jellied and subtly flavoured with bay leaves, onion, cloves and nutmeg, is delicious with small, snappy gherkins and other pickles.

Seared Tuna with a Burnt Tomato & Caper Dressing
Seared Tuna with a Tomato & Caper Dressing

Seared Tuna with a Burnt Tomato & Caper Dressing This is an easy and interesting dish starring just a few beautiful ingredients - spanking-fresh tuna, olive oil, capers, baby herb leaves and Rosa tomatoes at the peak of their ripeness.

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Monday, 9 August 2010

Low-Carb Roasted Ratatouille Soup with Basil Mayonnaise

I'm excited to share my new recipe with you: I think you're going to love it.  It tastes glorious and sunny, like summer in a bowl, and is easy to make (although like all good food it does take time to make). The only part of this recipe that's remotely tricky is the home-made basil mayonnaise, but you can omit this topping if you don't feel confident about making mayo, and the soup will still taste very good without it. Do give the mayonnaise a try, though: it's not anywhere as difficult to make as TV chefs will have you believe.

Ratatouille Soup with Basil Mayo
Low-Carb Roast Ratatouille Soup with Basil Mayonnaise
I'm a devoted fan of ratatouille. Not the watery, chuck-everything-in-a-saucepan-and-stew-to-a-mush variety, but a beautiful meeting of ripe tomatoes, shiny eggplants, snappy courgettes, onions and red peppers, slowly roasted with olive oil and garlic to a silken, jewel-bright deliciousness (try my oven-roasted ratatouille recipe).

As always, the quality of the raw ingredients determines how good the soup will taste. Ripe, plump, vividly coloured vegetables will produce a soup of unrivalled quality, and it is always better the next day, once the flavours have had a chance to mingle and mature.

This recipe serves 6, but is easily doubled. It's low in carbs, excellent if you're on a #LCHF regime, and very suitable for diabetics.

Roasted Ratatouille Soup with Basil Mayonnaise

5 large, ripe tomatoes
2 plump brinjals [aubergines/eggplants], or four smaller ones
2 large, deep-red peppers [capsicums]
8 courgettes [zucchini]
2 large white onions, peeled
½ cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt
freshly milled black pepper
6 fat cloves garlic, unpeeled
5 cups (1.25 l) water, plus more for thinning

For the basil mayonnaise:

2 large free-range egg yolks, at room temperature
200 ml vegetable oil (such as sunflower or canola oil)
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (250 ml, loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
1 tsp (5 ml) flaky sea salt
the juice of a large lemon
freshly milled black pepper

Heat the oven to 210 ºC.  Using a sharp knife, top and tail the tomatoes, eggplants, red peppers, courgettes and onions, and cut them into small chunks. Pile all the vegetables into a large roasting pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables, season generously with salt and pepper and, using your hands, toss well to coat.  Tuck the six unpeeled garlic cloves deep into the vegetable bed (but remember where you've hidden them).

Place the  pan, uncovered, in an oven heated to 210 ºC, and roast for 25-35 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to turn golden brown in patches.

Now cover the pan with foil, turn the heat down to 180 ºC, and bake for a further 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are soft.  Remove the roasting tray from the oven. Fish the whole garlic cloves out of the pan, and set aside.

Pour the water (1.5 l) into the pan, replace the foil, and bake at the same temperature for another 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes to cool.

Ratatouille Soup with Basil Mayo
A very thick, pale-yellow mayo
While the vegetables are cooling, make the basil mayonnaise. Put the two egg yolks into a small bowl and add the salt.

Mix the vegetable oil and olive oil in a small jug. Place a damp cloth underneath the bowl so that it doesn't skid around while you're making the mayo.

Using a rotary beater or whisk, beat the egg yolks and salt for a minute. If you don't have such a gadget, use an ordinary wire whisk, and plenty of elbow power. Now, as you whisk the egg yolks with one hand, pick up the jug of oil with the other, and dribble a little splash of oil onto the yolks.  Keep whisking and dribbling, a little splash at a time, with great energy, and within a few minutes you will see the egg mixture begin to thicken rather dramatically.

Keep adding the oil, a dribble at a time, until you have a thick yellow ointment. You may not need to add all the oil: stop adding oil once the mayonnaise has thickened to your liking. (If your mayonnaise doesn't thicken, or it curdles, click here.)  Set the mayonnaise aside.

Roughly chop the basil leaves, and place in a mortar along with the salt. Pound to a rough paste.  (If you don't have a mortar, put the leaves and salt onto a wooden chopping board, and smash them with a rolling pin). Scrape the pounded basil into a little bowl.  Take three of the roast garlic cloves you have set aside and squeeze the soft, baked pulp into the basil mixture. Add the fresh lemon juice and stir well.  Now stir this mixture into the mayonnaise, season to taste with salt and pepper, tip into a clean bowl, and refrigerate.

Tip the contents of the roasting pan into a big bowl, and blitz with a stick blender, or use a food processor or liquidiser to process to a slightly coarse purée.  If the soup mixture seems too thick, or the blades refuse to turn, thin it down with a little boiling water.  Squeeze the pulp of the remaining three cloves of baked garlic into the mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste, and blitz for another minute.

Return the soup to the stove-top and reheat.  Serve your soup piping hot, topped with a dollop of cold basil mayonnaise.

Serves 6. 

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