All posts by gracepointeblank

Recipe: Spicy Okra

Okra is a vegetable that intrigues me. It is full of paradoxes. People either love it or hate it. It is a humble vegetable in many parts of the world, yet incredibly exotic in others. It can be both creamy and slimy, crunchy or soggy. It is quite pudgy and ugly and yet it is known as “lady’s fingers” which surely should be symbolic of innate slenderness and grace.

Okra is also the perfect vehicle for flavour, not having much of its own, it can dutifully carry the load of any spices you add to it. This recipe is an attempt at a simple dish where the okra is showcased. The end result is spicy yet fresh and crisp.

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs (20ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 200g okra, trimmed and sliced into short lengths (3cm)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 red chilli, finely chopped (or ½ tsp powdered/flakes)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a medium sized fry pan over medium heat. Add the the onions, cooking until soft (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the okra, tomatoes and chilli, stirring to combine. Cook for 10 minutes while stirring gently. (The okra will emit a sticky substance but this will reduce over time).
  3. Increase heat, add ground cumin and coriander and cook for 2 minutes while stirring to coat the vegetables with the spices and to provide contact with the bottom of the pan.
  4. Reduce heat and add 1 Tbs water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir through fresh coriander, season with salt & pepper, and serve.

Tips: 

  • This dish has been designed to keep the okra crisp, if you prefer it well cooked simply add more water and simmer for longer until done to your preference.
  • As the okra is still crisp, this dish is good for leftovers and can be eaten at room temperature.
  • This dish can be served as a main or a side dish.
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Whole30 Day Twenty Four: This Is Really Winter

Sydney has been hit by a polar blast. I’m sure that the vortex is my apartment. It is freezing today. I curse my floor to ceiling windows. Not only do they let the cold in, but my neighbours can see me shuffling around in my bright pink Nordic onesie (which is so 3 years ago!).

Breakfast: Smoked Salmon Omelette

I picked up a couple of packets of my favourite smoked salmon at the fish markets yesterday, which I folded into an omelette, and topped with some lemon zest. 

Lunch: Chicken Broth and Boiled Eggs with Mayonnaise

I would have loved a soup today, but a rummage around the freezer confirmed that all my soups contain dairy which is illegal under Whole30 rules. Luckily I found some chicken stock, so I reduced it in a pot to make it even more flavoursome. It certainly helped fend off potential hypothermia. 

Dinner: Mayonnaise Scallop “Mornay” and Lemon Pepper Sugar Snap Peas

Scallops were on special at the fish markets, so I picked up half a dozen to bring home to make into a Mornay style dish. I created this by spooning a coriander infused mayonnaise over scallops and baking them in the half shell. 

The scallops were paired with lightly steamed sugar snap peas with lemon juice, lemon zest and freshly cracked black pepper.

Recipe: Mayonnaise Scallop “Mornay”‘

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Whole30 Day Twenty Three: Is This Really Winter?

Oh such a perfect day sings Lou Reed in my head (do you also get the image of the baby crawling up the walls when you hear that song? *shudder*). Due to exceptional weather, which I felt must be taken advantage of, I started hatching a plan this morning to hit the fish markets. I called a friend and convinced them that there really was nothing better to do on such a glorious day. It was also one of the few places I could easily lunch on the Whole30. I did take my own mayonnaise and lemon just to make sure I couldn’t be tempted by any sauces or condiments. I also took a bottle of water so that I wouldn’t turn around to find an almost empty glass of wine in my hand.

Breakfast: Chia Pot

I’ve found a great brand of Chia pots made without sugar or any sweeteners. I know that they are easy to make, and would be a hell of a lot cheaper, but I don’t have any pots. Weak excuse? OK I am even shaming myself into making my own from now on (once I’ve gone through my little store of them of course!).

Lunch: Prawns, Sashimi and Oysters.

My favourite prawns are crystal bay prawns. They are certainly not as vivid in colour nor as large as tiger prawns, however what they lack in size and colour they make up for in taste and texture. Very sweet and quite meaty for their size, they don’t seem to overcook or go as watery as tiger prawns are wont to do.

We had two enormous servings of salmon and kingfish (about 25 slices of each, I couldn’t keep up!!). Kingfish straight off the boat is sensational, the texture still has a bit of bite to it and the flavour is very delicate.

If we weren’t sure whether we had consumed enough protein at this point, we also scoffed down half a dozen beautiful Sydney rock oysters.

Dinner: Spinach and Mushroom Omelette

I was meant to cook some seafood tonight, but as I didn’t finish our lunchtime seafood feast until 3pm, I didn’t have much appetite and to be honest I was completely fished out.

Recipe: Mayonnaise Scallop “Mornay”

The must-have dish at my local Japanese Restaurant, Yokozuma on Oxford Street, is the scallops grilled in mayonnaise. It is reminiscent of a Mornay but oh so much better! The Japanese rival the Dutch for the world’s best mayonnaise, but they win hands down for seafood. This dish is a showcase of two of the best things in Japanese cuisine.

I decided a while back to recreate this at home, and I have since used Emeril Lagasse’s spicy Hot Mayonnaise Glazed Scallops quite a few times. I have cut down on the hot sauce however, because as great as the mayo is, it really did detract from the sweetness of the scallops – I might as well have had it on chicken, or for that matter just had a spoonful of the mayonnaise! Wasting scallops may not be a felony crime, but I do consider it to be a misdemeanour at least.

I’m currently finishing a Whole30 experiment and have not been able to find any compliant hot sauce. Thus I decided to go back to the drawing board. After much consideration (and an assessment of what I had lurking in the fridge as it was rather wet outside), I decided that I would quite like to add some texture to the mayonnaise, so I added some very finely diced celery. To add extra but complimentary flavour I used my favourite herb – coriander.

Using this method of grilling scallops in mayonnaise, I believe you could certainly play around with a lot of different flavour combinations. I’m tempted to try grilling some lobster this way too, once the budget allows.

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Ingredients

(serves one)

  • 60 mls of mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs (20 mls) of finely diced celery
  • 1 Tbs (20mls) of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Black pepper to season
  • Lemon juice (optional)*
  • 6 scallops loose in shell**
  • 1 spring onion finely sliced

Method

1. Heat oven to 200C.

2. Combine all ingredients except for the scallops in a bowl.

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3. Spread scallop shells evenly across a baking sheet.

4. Spoon approximately 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise onto each scallop to cover.

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5. Bake for 10 minutes at the top of the oven or until mayonnaise is a luminescent golden brown.

6. Sprinkle spring onions over the cooked scallops and serve.

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Tips:

  • *Additional lemon is only required if your mayonnaise does not already use lemon
  • **You may use scallops with roe on however you should increase the mayonnaise mix by 50%
  • If entertaining for guests, double the amount of mayonnaise used for an even more luxurious experience
  • Serve with Lemon Pepper Sugar Snaps

Whole30 Day Twenty Two: Thai’d Up

It is a very good thing that I am in a loving and committed relationship with Thai food as we saw a lot of each other today.

Breakfast: Strawberries, Boiled Egg & Mayonnaise

I’m starting to ask myself why I bought two punnets of strawberries? Strawberries again today.

Lunch: Eating Out – Spice I am – Chilli Basil Beef

I was definately “that person” in my favourite Thai restaurant today, however my waitress and the kitchen kindly helped me select something that had no sugar or soy. Just to be a complete pain in the ass I also had the extra condition of no coconut milk as I would be eating a coconut milk laden curry later and nobody needs that much of the good stuff! All things in moderation and all that.

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I’ve certainly done the menu at this place from top to bottom over the years, but have become entrenched in a few favourites. It was good to try something again that I normally wouldn’t order and really like, and it’s healthy! Huge amount of chilli. Perfection!!

Dinner: Massaman Curry & Cauliflower Rice

This curry is still giving, and I have a truck load of it in the freezer too!

Recipe: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin, & Cashew)

Whole30 Day Twenty One: Magic Beans

Breakfast: Sliced Strawberries & Banana with Shredded Coconut

I couldn’t face eggs this morning, so unfortunately my breakfast lacked any protein. My standard morning bullet proof coffee took care of the healthy fats. All I really felt like this morning was my favorite brand of spiced granola with Greek yogurt. The closest I could get to it without breaking all the rules was the shredded coconut I added to my sliced fruit.

Lunch: Bean Fries

I love making bean fries, actually I think its the eating of bean fries I like, even though I’m not sure I’m allowed them on the Whole30. I think I may have skimmed over a warning that nothing should resemble pancakes or fries. However I don’t remember an explicit prohibition.

Recipe: Bean Fries

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Dinner: Mussaman Curry with Cauliflower Rice

I reheated some mussaman curry from last night and prepared some cauliflower rice using my fail safe method.

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Recipe: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin & Cashew)

Recipe: Cauliflower “Rice”

Recipe: Cauliflower “Rice”

This is my fail safe cauliflower “rice” recipe. I’ve tried far more complicated versions, but this is the one that works the best. It’s not really a recipe as it only has the one ingredient! It is simply a tried and tested method.

Ingredients

Cauliflower (any amount)

Method

  1. Using the large holes on a standard cheese grater, grate your cauliflower into “rice”.
  2. Put “rice” into a microwave safe bowl.
  3. Microwave “rice” for 3 minutes on high.

Tips

Do not add water or cover as you want to remove as much liquid from the cauliflower as possible.

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Recipe: Bean Fries

These are the perfect movie snack to replace potato chips, they don’t make a mess in the dark like kale chips, and they don’t annoy your neighbor like crunching on pork scratchings.

Ingredients

  • 500 gms green beans
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt *
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika*
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika*
  • 1 tsp garlic granules*
  • 1 tsp onion granules*

Method

  • Heat Oven to 190C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  • Put all ingredients into a plastic bag. Shake vigorously until all the beans are coated.
  • Divide beans in half and spread out in a single layer on the prepared baking trays.

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  • Bake for 10 minutes, check and turn the beans, cooking for another 5 minutes or until browned and crispy.
  • (Optional but recommended) Open the oven door for 10 seconds to let out most of the heat, meanwhile taking out the tray and giving the beans another turn. Then close the oven door leaving it a crack open. Let the beans cool and dry out further in the oven helping dehydrate them until they are very crispy. Check every 10 minutes to ensure you don’t overdo it.

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Tips

* Replace spice mix with your favourite spices. In this instance I tried to replicate a BBQ flavour. Parmesan is also another great option.

Whole30 Day Twenty: Spicing Up a Cold Day

Breakfast: Lamb Chops and Spinach with Aioli

I had some left over chops from last night for breakfast which I paired with steamed spinach. Luckily I also had some roasted garlic lemony aioli left over as well which was fabulous over the spinach. What an amazing breakfast!

Lunch: Boiled Eggs and Butter, Strawberries

Strawberries have been an exorbitant price lately, as high as $8 a punnet. I don’t like spending more than $4 for a large punnet but luckily today I found two punnets for $6 at Coles. It is unfortunate that I am not a massive strawberry fan, as they are one of the lowest carb fruits. I’m not sure why I think they are over rated, perhaps it is because they are either under-ripe when you need them, or over-ripe with mouldy ones on the bottom which have tainted the entire punnet. Maybe it’s because people seem to get so ridiculously excited about them that brings out my inner Debbie Downer. On the other hand it could have something to do with my brief teenage sojourn as a strawberry picker, where I managed to consume more than I put into the buckets, from which I was fired after a particularly awesome strawberry fight (which I totally won!).

Dinner: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin and Cashew)

I normally eat a lot of curries and predominantly Thai curries. My love affair with chillies becomes a marriage made in heaven when paired with the sweet-and-sour-and-saltiness of Thai food. Surprisingly my first curry attempt for the Whole30 was not an eye watering, nose running, brow perspiring spicy choice. Once again the weather has influenced my menu, and it being a cold day, I decided to do a melt in your mouth massaman curry.

I liked the challenges this curry raised. Firstly the meal choice was a decision made on the fly and I was going to need to prepare it quickly if it was going have enough time to simmer slowly for dinner. It was therefore impossible to source all the ingredients in time to make my own paste. I was going to have to cheat. This meant a trip to the local Thai grocery where I needed to find a Whole30 compliant paste. My normal emergency go-to curry pastes (Maesri) unfortunately contain both sugar and soybean oil. In the end, only one brand (Mae Ploy) had neither and fitted the Whole30 rules. Luckily it was one that I have had success with in the past, although it definitely needs some help to reach its full potential.

Secondly, peanuts which are such an integral part to massaman are a delinquent legume known to masquerade as a nut. This was easily resolved by substituting cashew nuts.

Thirdly, potatoes although technically Whole30 complaint, are very high in carbs in a dish already pushing nutritional boundaries. Therefore I decided to substitute pumpkin.

Finally, massaman usually includes sweetness from palm sugar which of course tops the list of Whole30 no-nos. This I hoped could be remedied by the use of the pumpkin, which should bring a little sweetness to the curry. I also decided to use lime juice instead of the traditional tamarind paste as it would have a little less tartness needing to be counterbalanced.

The end result was spectacular.

Recipe: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin & Cashew)

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Recipe: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin & Cashew)

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This recipe was born out of a cold winter’s day and the desire to recreate some comfort food which was Whole30, Paleo and low carb. I have varied from tradition by substituting peanuts for cashews in this recipe, and pumpkin for the potatoes. Not only is pumpkin lower in carbohydrates than the traditional potatoes used in this dish, but it also helps to overcome the omission of sugar by partly dissolving into the curry and adding a natural rich sweetness to the finished dish. I’ve also chosen to use lime juice instead of the traditional tamarind paste or concentrate as it is slightly sweeter and provides less of a sour note to counterbalance.

Ingredients

(Serves 8)

  • 2 tablespoons (40mls) coconut oil
  • 1kg shin, gravy beef or chuck steak, trimmed and cut into medium sized chunks
  •  2 cups coconut cream
  •  3 tablespoons (60mls) massaman curry paste (see related recipe)
  •  1 cup coconut milk
  •  1 ½ cups good quality chicken stock
  •  1 cinnamon stick
  •  3 Star Anise
  •  3 bay leaves
  •  ½ tsp ground cardamom or 6 cardamom pods lightly crushed (see note)
  •   1 tablespoon (20 mls) lime juice
  •  1 tablespoon (20 mls) fish sauce
  •  1/2 cup roasted cashews
  •  600 gms peeled and pumpkin cut into medium sized pieces*

Method

In two batches, heat half of oil a large saucepan or casserole pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned all over. Remove beef and liquids to a bowl, and repeat with remaining oil and beef.

Add 3 tablespoons from the top of the coconut cream (do not shake) and cook until hot and bubbling, approximately 30 seconds. Add curry paste and cook stirring for 1 minute or until aromatic. If the paste will not loosen add a little more coconut milk, but account for the cooling down of the paste by cooking slightly longer.

Return beef and juices to pan. Add remaining coconut cream, coconut milk, stock, cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves, cardamom, lime juice, and fish sauce. Stir to combine.

Bring to near boil (do not boil). Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook for 1 ½ hours. Add cashews and pumpkin. Stir to combine. Cook until the beef is tender and the pumpkin is very soft and starting to fall apart approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir a few times to break up some of the pumpkin so that it dissolves into the sauce. This will sweeten and thicken the sauce.

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Tips

*600 grams of peeled pumpkin is approximately 1kg of whole pumpkin.

In Australia I find the Ayam brand of coconut milk and cream is the only one I have found which does not have nasty additives as it is made from 100% coconut kernel.

I used the Mae Ploy brand of curry paste as it does not have sugar or soybean oil.

This freezes exceptionally well and tastes better the next day reheated.

Nutritional information is available here.

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