Low-carb fish pie

Greetings! Yes I am still alive and still eating LCHF. It has been almost a year and a half (not sure where the time has gone) and my chronic migraines are a distant memory, thanks to this wonderful diet of…real food.

Followers of my blog will know that I have a shaky truce with fish. As well as cooking it in a sh!t-tonne of butter and mixing it with all manner of things to mask the flavour, I can now add fish pie to the list of Roxy-friendly fish meals. It will never be as stodgy and firm as a regular fish pie…so it’s definitely a winner! I added a couple of carrots to the mash just to mix it up a bit, but feel free to leave these out for even lower carbage.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the fish:
300 ml double cream
300 ml whole milk
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 salmon fillets (approx. 220 g)
1 smoked haddock fillet (approx. 230 g) – make sure it’s not the dyed stuff
150 g raw peeled king prawns

For the sauce:
30 g butter
1 leek, finely sliced
1 tsp xanthan gum
100 g cheddar cheese, grated
large bunch parsley, roughly chopped
100 g watercress, roughly chopped

For the mash topping:
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp double cream
2 tbsp milk
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

First, poach the fish. Place the onion, garlic, peppercorns, milk, cream and salt in a large frying pan and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon and haddock fillets and poach for 5 minutes until the fish is cooked and flakey. Remove the fish and set to one side to cool. Strain the poaching liquid into a bowl.

Once the fish is cool enough to handle, flake it into an oven dish (I made two smaller pies for an easy meal the next day), removing the skin and any pesky bones. Scatter the prawns over the fish and add the poached onion.

Meanwhile, boil the carrots in a pan for 5 minutes then add the cauliflower and cook until soft. Strain and set to one side until you’re ready to make the mash. To do this, add the egg yolks, cream and milk to the carrots and cauliflower, and blend with a stick blender until smooth.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the leeks until soft. Add the poaching liquid and the xanthan gum and stir until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Next, add the parsley and watercress and mix well. Season to taste. Take off the heat and leave to cool to room temperature (this will make the pie assemblage easier).

To assemble the pie pour the cooled sauce over the fish and spread the mash over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the mash has crustified and you can see the sauce bubbling up trying to escape.

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Low-carb chocolate mug cake

I was feeling experimental yesterday so I decided to try out a microwave cake. This was an old favourite in the pre-LCHF Roxy Kitchen household (although back then it was a syrup sponge with custard), so I had a go at a low-carb version.

Makes 1 large mug cake (carbs = 6 g)

Ingredients:
20 g butter (unsalted)
1 egg
10 g 85% (or higher if you like) chocolate
10 g almond butter (about 1 heaped tsp)
30 g ground almonds (about 3 tbsp)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp 100% cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

Place the butter in a large mug (or small cereal bowl) and microwave for 10 – 20 s until the butter has melted. Break up the chocolate and add to the butter. Microwave for a further 10 s and stir until the chocolate has melted. Add the egg and mix well. (At this point you could also add some sweetener/sugar/honey/syrup if you like)

Now add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place in the microwave for about 90 s (ours is a 900 W), or until the cake is springy to the touch (and doesn’t squelch when you prod it).

Serve immediately, with lashings of cream!

LCHF Chicken Parm

After the success of the pizza, I thought I would try something else Italian-ish. I’ve never actually had chicken parm, but really, what’s not to like? This recipe is a bit convoluted as I used the chicken skin to make the “breadcrumbs”, but you could make it simpler by using skinned and boned chicken thighs and a packet of pork rinds. You could of course go traditional and use chicken breasts, but they are: i) more expensive; ii) less tasty; iii) less fatty, and; iv) more likely to dry up. I also happened to make a triumphant tomato sauce, so I used all of it in the dish (not sure a real chicken parm would have so much sauce). You could save any extra sauce for use in something else if you’re not as much of a sauceophile as me!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
4 chicken thighs
20 g parmesan cheese, grated
50 g ground almonds
Clarified butter for shallow-frying
Salt & pepper

For the sauce:
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 courgette, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200 ml white wine (about half a tomato tin’s worth)
Salt & pepper
Butter for frying

For the toppings:
250 g mozzarella cheese, chopped
50 g parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp basil pesto

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

First, prepare the chicken. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and place on a baking tray, as flat as you can. Season the skins with salt and pepper, place a layer of foil over them and place another tray on top. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the skins are golden and crispy. Try not to eat them all at this point. Nachos anyone? Harvest any rendered chicken fat to use later. Place the skins on some kitchen towel and set to one side.

While the skins are in the oven, prepare the tomato sauce. Melt some butter in a pan and sweat the onions and garlic over a medium heat, until soft. Add the chilli flakes, dried basil and season well with salt and pepper. Add the pepper and continue to sweat for a few minutes until soft.

Next add the courgette and sweat for a further few minutes until soft. Now add the tomato puree, allow to cook for a minute and then add the fresh and tinned tomatoes, along with the white wine. Simmer for 20 minutes on a gentle heat.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the chicken for frying. Remove the bones from the chicken thighs, using a sharp knife. Open the thighs out and give them a good bashing with a rolling pin, until they are nice and flat.

For the crumb, blitz up the crispy chicken skins in a food processor, and mix together with the ground almonds, parmesan cheese and some freshly ground black pepper.

Coat the chicken thighs in the crumb mixture (use a beaten egg if the crumbs don’t stick). Heat some clarified butter (and any harvested chicken fat from earlier) in a frying pan (enough to shallow-fry the chicken) until super hot (test by dropping in some of the crumb mixture – if it sizzles, you’re good to go). Fry the thighs, one at a time, for two minutes on each side until the crumbs are golden (don’t worry about fully cooking the chicken, it’s going to have some oven time).

Once the chicken has been fried and the sauce has had about 20 minutes of simmering, whizz up the sauce using a hand blender. Check for seasoning and add more if needed.

Now it’s time for layering! Place about a third of the sauce in the bottom of a shallow oven dish. Next, lay the chicken thighs all over the bottom of the dish and top with the mozzarella, parmesan and dollops of pesto (oh any any leftover crumbs, including the ones from the frying pan that fell off the chicken. Go ahead and pour the fat in there too). Cover the whole thing in the rest of the sauce and grate some extra parmesan on top, just for good measure.

Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked, the sauce has reduced and the cheese is all lovely and melty. Serve a piece of chicken, with loads of the sauce (and cheese) and some token green beans (or green veg of your choice).

Sugar-free* chocolate pots

Sometimes you just need a little treat. These little chocolate pots certainly fulfill the brief, and at a mere 7 g of carbs per pot, they can certainly be incorporated into a low-carb regimen.

(*My pedantic husband has pointed out that these are not, in fact, sugar-free. So, in the spirit of correctness, let the record show that bananas and chocolate do contain sugar.)

Mixture fills approx. 7 x 60 ml espresso cups

Ingredients:
250 ml double cream
1 small banana
40 g (about 1 heaped tbsp) crunchy almond butter
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
1/4 tsp salt
100 g dark chocolate (I used 85%, but by all means go higher!),
100 g unsalted butter, cubed

Chop up the banana and mash well with a fork. Place the cream, banana, almond butter, vanilla and salt in a pan and heat gently, stirring frequently, until you start to see tiny bubbles forming.

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Take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate and the butter. Stir well until the chocolate and butter have melted and everything is mixed together. You shouldn’t need to heat the mixture again to melt everything, just be patient and keep stirring! Have a taste of the mixture and add more salt if the chocolate flavour doesn’t “pop” enough. At this point you can blend the mixture so that it is completely smooth, but I like the added texture of the occasional bit of crunchy almond. Divide the mixture into espresso cups or small ramekins (but bear in mind the finished product will be very rich, so only a small amount is needed per serving).

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Place the cups in the fridge until the chocolate has set. This should only take a couple of hours, but you can prepare them in advance and leave them in the fridge for a couple of days (if they last that long). They take on a lovely fudge-like texture after 24+ hours in the fridge, yum. Enjoy!

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LCHF Pizza!

WordPress has reminded me that it’s Roxy’s Kitchen’s first birthday today, which means that we have been on LCHF for a grand total of 54 weeks. I don’t make a habit of stepping on the scales, but this morning’s figure shows a 21% weight reduction. This is pretty cool considering I haven’t gone hungry at all over the last year, and I’ve pretty much been eating all of the butter, cream, cheese, eggs and bacon I can manage (oh and I’ve done about the same amount of exercise as before, i.e. next to none). More importantly, I have had a migraine-free year and I can count the number of headaches I’ve had on one hand (most of which have been alcohol-related). Pre-LCHF I would have had a migraine once per month at least, and headaches most days. Thanks LCHF!

Now onto the food part of today’s post… I was having a bit of a clear out of my hoarded delicious. magazines (not sure why I still subscribe, I think I just like looking at pictures of food), and I found a recipe for a cauliflower-crust pizza in their gluten free section (I say section, in this particular issue I think it was just one or two recipes). We used to have a pretty serious Dominos Pizza habit pre-LCHF, so we have just avoided pizza for a year (I mean, it can’t really get better than Dominos can it?? *sarcasm*), and the idea of a cauliflower-based pizza just didn’t seem right. However, I decided to give it a go (the picture in the magazine certainly made it look tasty), and I’m glad I did. Pizza is back on the menu, woo!

The magazine states that it makes 4 pizzas. We got two large and one small pizza out of the mixture (so they aren’t as greedy as us, clearly).

Ingredients:

For the crust:
450 g cauliflower (about a whole medium-sized one)
2 eggs
150 g ground almonds
50 g grated parmesan
1 tsp xanthan gum or arrowroot (optional)
Salt & pepper

For the toppings:
Whatever you like! We went for:
150 g mozarella cheese
150 g cheddar cheese, grated
6 rashers of smoked bacon
1 small tin of anchovies
2 tbsp spicy red pesto (or you could just use tomato puree, we just happened to have a jar of pesto kicking about)
Freshly ground pepper
A sprinkling of dried mixed herbs

Pre-heat the oven (and two baking sheets) to 180°C.

Whizz up the cauliflower in a food processor, and mix with the eggs, almonds, parmesan, xanthan gum (if using) and seasoning. It should form a fairly sticky dough-like mixture.

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Place a dollop of the mixture onto some baking parchment, and form it into a fairly thin (about 5 mm) pizza base. You could place another sheet of parchment on top and roll it with a rolling pin, but I just flattened it with my hands (hence the irregular shape). Repeat for the second pizza, place the bases onto the preheated baking trays, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the bases are golden brown and fairly firm to the touch. I rotated the trays halfway through cooking.

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Spread the pesto/puree evenly over the bases, top with the cheeses then the bacon and anchovies, and sprinkle the mixed herbs and ground pepper all over the pizzas. Return the pizzas to the oven for a further 5 – 10 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked and the cheese is all melty. Scoff the whole lot down and feel significantly less bloated (and less guilty), and a lot more satisfied, than you would have had you eaten a Dominos instead.

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You can use any leftover mixture to make yourself a breakfast treat the next day:
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A Christmas feast for two!

This will be our first LCHF Christmas. So far so good. After all, ’tis the season of bacon, sausages, sausages wrapped in bacon, cheese, cheese wrapped in bacon, nuts, bacon nuts…all lovely LCHF fare. For the last few years we’ve had an alternative Christmas day for just the two of us (usually after the days that are filled with the obligatory Christmas stuff, as something to look forward to): turkey feast, lots of cake, watching Bruce Willis run around in a vest (or some other, suitably violent, Christmas movie), some booze to fill in the spaces in between the food…etc. This year we had our meal early so that I could blog about it and perhaps give you guys a few more foodie ideas (if you need them). It’s not proper low-carb, but hey – it is Christmas!

Serves 2 with lots of left-overs (or 4-5 people)

Ingredients:

For the roast pork:
1 kg boned and rolled pork leg
500 g minced pork (you can use sausage meat if you’re not fussed about the gluten)
4 eating apples
4 large onions
Small bunch of fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
250 ml white wine
100 g butter

For the extra stuffing pots:
5 – 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon

For the fondant parsnips & carrots:
2 large carrots
1 parsnip
200 g unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or a sprig of fresh thyme)
Salt & pepper
100 ml water

For the cabbage-sprout gratin:
250 g brussels sprouts
1 savoy cabbage, shredded
50 g butter
300 ml whole milk
200 ml double cream
100 g grated cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
Salt & pepper
1 packet of hog lumps
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

First, prepare the stuffing. Finely chop one of the onions and gently fry with some butter. Meanwhile, dice two of the eating apples (I left the skins on), and add to the now softened onions. Fry for a couple of minutes, until there is a bit of colour on the onions and the apples. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Add the pork mince, plenty of pepper (I used about 2 tsp – you should be able to smell the pepper once it’s all mixed in), the salt and the chopped sage, and mix well.

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You can now pre-heat the oven to 220°C, whilst you prepare the pork for stuffing.

If you’ve got a boned pork leg most of of the work has already been done. All you need to do is remove the string, place the joint skin-side down on a board and open it out, with the thin edge to your right. To open it out further I usually start from the right (because I’m right-handed) and cut into the thickest part of the meat, unrolling it with my left hand as I go. Once it is as unrolled as it’s going to get, give it a good bash with a mallet or rolling pin (or your fists) to flatten it out.

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Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper, then place half of the stuffing mixture onto the pork and spread so that it covers about two-thirds of the surface area. Then roll the piggy back up (using the un-stuffed flap to stop the stuffing from oozing out), and secure with the string again, so that it once again looks like a big fat maggot.

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Now cut the remaining onions and apples into chunks and lay all over the bottom of your roasting pan. Pour the wine into the pan and place Mr. Pig Roll on top. Pat the skin dry with some kitchen towel and rub salt all over it. Roast in the hot hot oven for then first 20 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 170°C for the remaining cooking time (about 1 hour 40 minutes in total).

Use the left-over stuffing to fill two ramekins pre-lined with bacon, and add a bit of extra bacon on top to cover. These are ready to go in the oven with the gratin, 15 minutes before the pork is done.

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Next, prepare the gratin. Shred the cabbage and steam for about 5 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, melt about 25 g butter in a frying pan and fry the sprouts whole until they start to go brown. Place the cabbage and the sprouts in an oven-proof pan (I used a square cake pan, it was the perfect size), and prepare the cheesy sauce. For this, place the cheese, milk, cream, butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg and xanthan gum (if using – this is just to thicken the sauce) in a pan and heat, whilst whisking, until everything has melted together and the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Pour all over the cabbagey sprouts.

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For a cheeky extra touch, crush a packet of hog lumps (because not enough pigs were used in the making of this meal), mix with the parmesan and mixed herbs, and sprinkle over the top of the gratin. This is ready to go in the oven with the extra stuffing about 15 mins before the pork is done.

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Next, prepare the carrots and parsnips. They will take 30-40 mins to cook, but they do stay warm for ages so the timing isn’t vital (just don’t burn them, like I managed to!!). Cut them into chunks of about 2 – 3 cm thick, making sure they are roughly the same thickness. You can adjust this so that they all fit into your frying pan in a single layer. Melt the butter in a frying pan and heat it until it starts to foam. Then, add the carrots and parsnips. Keep the heat on medium and don’t move the pan or mess around with the veg for about 8 minutes. Turn the chunks over and repeat. Once both sides are nice and browned, add the garlic cloves, salt, pepper and thyme. Turn the heat to low and carefully add the water. The butter will get really excited at this point so maybe use a lid as a shield so you don’t get spat on. Cover and leave to cook for about 15 – 20 minutes until the carrots and parsnips are tender. Take care that the water doesn’t evaporate (my lid has a steam escape-hole, I’m not sure why, so my carrots got a bit too brown on the underside), and add more if you can smell burning! Once they are cooked, just turn the heat off and leave them in the pan until you’re ready to eat.

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Once the pork is cooked (I kept checking until I got a reading of 60°C on the old meat thermometer), take out of the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes, or until all of your other bits and pieces are ready. The stuffing pots should be brown on top, but you can check with a thermometer to see if they’re done (cooking times will vary depending on the size/shape of your ramekins).

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Carve the pork into nice chunky slices and serve with all of the trimmings and the pan juices.

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Baked eggs

These baked eggs make a lovely weekend breakfast, and they are really versatile. I made these with some chopped leeks, but you can leave them out, or use some chopped chives or spring onions instead. The cooking time will vary depending on the size and shape of your ramekins, so keep an eye on the eggs after 10 minutes in the oven.

Makes one ramekin

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 tbsp chopped sauteed leeks
1 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra thick double cream
25 g cheese (any type), grated/cubed/crumbled
Salt & pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (fan).

Sautee the chopped leeks (if using) in some butter until soft. Build up the ramekins in layers – first the butter, then the creme fraiche, then the leeks, some seasoning, then the eggs, and top with the cream and cheese.

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Bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the egg yolks are cooked to your desired consistency (note, the whites will remain fairly runny). The yolks do tend to turn pretty quickly so check them frequently.

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