Monday, 14 January 2013

oniony braised red cabbage

This tastes better the longer it cooks, it's not as acidic as the red cabbage recipes that use apples and vinegar, so it's not such a contrasting taste, it's more of a complimentary one when served with the pork and onion gravy.

Ingredients Serves 4
1/2 medium sized red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
2 large knobs butter
1/4 cup chicken stock
a little salt for seasoning

 Preheat a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat, add a large knob of butter and once melted cook the onions until they are lightly browned and translucent  Add the sliced cabbage and toss together well, add another small knob of butter and the chicken stock and turn the heat down to low. Put a lid on the pan and cook for about an hour or until the cabbage is soft. Season with a little salt, if you feel it needs it.

Pork Shoulder with onion gravy

There's a restaurant within stumbling distance from our house that serves the best Schweinebraten ever. It comes with a huge chunk of Maultaschen and potato salad. It's German stodgy goodness on a plate, real stick to your ribs food and perfect for this colder weather. I've been looking for way to recreate this dish, sadly without the Maultaschen or the potato salad (or the glass of red wine I have with it!) Instead I serve it with slow braised, oniony, red cabbage and rich onion gravy. This is actually a very simple recipe, just a few ingredients, a few hours in the oven (or crock pot) and your house smells warm and welcoming. There are quite a few onions involved, but they cook down to make a sweet gravy that is the perfect accompaniment.

4-5 pounds of pork shoulder roast, or pork butt ( I used two smaller pieces so will adjust cooking times a little)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium onions finely sliced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (reduce to 1 cup if using slow cooker)
salt & pepper
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
a small sprig of fresh rosemary (for dried use a small pinch)
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme (for dried use 1/2 teaspoon)
a couple of sprigs of fresh sage (1/2 teaspoon of dried)

Preheat oven to 175C/350F
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a heavy Dutch oven pan. Roll the meat in the oil and then season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the caraway seeds.
Add the 4 sliced onions, the herbs and pour over the chicken stock.

Place a lid on the Dutch oven and bake for about 2 1/2 -3 hours until the pork is cooked, slightly browned but not falling apart.

Remove from the oven and allow the pork to rest for a few minutes. With a stick blender, blend the remaining onions and pan juices with a knob of butter until smooth. You don't have to do this but I find it makes the gravy a little thicker.

Slice the pork and pour over the gravy. Serve with oniony braised red cabbage.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Quick microwave cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice is a great alternative to the old staple of white rice. Initially you need a food processor to chop it into rice sized pieces, you could also finely chop it with a knife, which would probably be time consuming but would work, maybe grating it on a large holed grater would also be a viable option.There are many recipes out there for rice that you can adapt to cauliflower, just by adding a few ingredients, it takes on a whole new flavour. You can add peppers, garlic, chili, cilantro and tomatoes to make Mexican style rice, you can eat it plain with a little salt or you can add a little cilantro to make cilantro rice which goes well with stir fry or Indian based curries. Previously I have stir fried this rice which is easy but messy as the grains tend to spill out of the pan onto the stovetop, I don't have a delicate hand! I also have a friend who just eats it uncooked. Today I thought I'd try it in the microwave. this was simple and definitely the way I'll do it in the future.

1 head cauliflower roughly chopped
1/2 pack chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons water


Pulse the cauliflower in the food processor until it resembles fine grains of rice. Tip it into a microwave proof bowl and add the chopped cilantro. Add the water and mix through with a fork to distribute. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Fluff it up and that's it. How simple is that, no fuss, no mess!

stir fry

Back to basics here, this is a quick way to get a lot of vegetables in one dish, more vegetables mean you feel fuller but without that heavy, carby, beached whale, bloated feeling. At this time of year when it's grey and dark outside, you need to eat your fill of brightly coloured veggies to get the maximum vitamin and mineral intake. Add a litte chicken, or some beef or shrimps and you've got a balanced meal. You can also up the spice if you like it hot. I just ate a bowl of this with some cilantro cauliflower 'rice' and I feel stuffed, but I know it's a good type of stuffed :)
I used some gluten free tamari instead of soy sauce and just a teaspoon of local unpasteurised honey for the sauce, along with some lime juice. I am aware that honey is a sweetener but 1 teaspoon divided by 6 servings isn't that bad. I don't use it every day so I feel that it is justified. You can omit the honey if you wish and it still tastes fine.

I've read that quite a lot of people prep their veggies for recipes for the week ahead, and store them in the fridge in ziploc bags, thus saving valuable prep time when they get in from work.  If I had the room and a big fridge I'd probably agree, but instead, I buy smaller amounts more often. Definitely pre-slice the vegetables and chicken before you start cooking this, it just makes everything so much easier. I've listed the ingredients I had on hand but you can add or take away pretty much anything. Just slice whatever it is thinly so it all cooks evenly. I'd probably sub the chicken breasts for chicken thighs next time because the dark meat is a bit moister and has more flavour.

Ingredients serves 6

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, thinly sliced ( you can also use beef or shrimps)
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
I smal onion thinly sliced
3 carrots....yep thinly sliced!
1 zucchini thinly sliced
half a dozen mushrooms sliced
Finely chopped cabbage or chinese leaf
2 chopped tomatoes
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 red chili chopped
2'' piece of ginger grated
1/2 large bunch coriander/cilantro
2 tablespoons tamari
2  tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
coconut or olive oil (not extra virgin) for frying


Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok until it is very hot, add the sliced chicken and stir fry it until it is no longer pink (about 5 minutes) Add all of the chopped vegetables to the pan and continually stir fry them for about 5 or 6 minutes until they are just beginning to soften.

Add the garlic, ginger, chili and the coriander/cilantro, along with the tamari, lime and honey.

Toss for another minute or two until the pan ingredients are piping hot and the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. Serve with quick microwave cauliflower rice.

She slinks back in........

Hey there! It's been a while, and isn't that the understatement of the year? Where did 2012 go? If I'm honest it probably went to my thighs and waistline  :)
2012 was a challenging time for our family. Part of it was very stressful and stupidly, with that stress went my resolve to eat healthily.  Seeing as I do 95% of the cooking, everyone else was forced to eat like mum. I sought solace from our problems in my favorite things, bread, cake, chocolate, wine and candy!  Working out was limited to flexing my typing fingers scouring Pinterest, looking for more cake recipes. I was geting sick on a weekly basis, please don't ask me what my blood pressure is, I'm too scared to check it. Over Christmas and New Year, the couch and I became one, I had no energy to do anything unless you count unwrapping those lovely shiny candies you get in your stocking, and lifting the remote to change the channel to watch the Sound of Music for the 44th time (I'm not kidding!!) By years end I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I knew what needed to be done. This past week has been spent in a carb free, cold turkey, haze. I have had a lot of trouble making coherent sentences and needed to take one or two naps during the day!! 

2013 promises new challenges, some exciting things on the horizon but still the scariness of what is unknown. I believe the only way we can face this is to have a positive attitude and eat well. There is no doubt about it that Devil's food cake tastes amazing, but I don't like what's in a boxed cake mix and I really don't like how I feel when I eat it. One week in, and already I'm craving spicy food and vegetables, the sugar cravings are slowly diminishing and I'm now planning meals again. It's not going to be easy but I do have a new mantra that I found on Pinterest during my slug phase to help me!! 

So I hope you will check back for recipe ideas because I really want to commit to the this and feel as good as I did two years ago. I have plenty of books for inspiration and reference, they should be enough to keep me going for a while. The working out phase will begin as soon as my energy levels rise, that shouldn't be too long now.