Buttery roast chicken

If you want a fail-safe method for keeping your roast chicken lovely and moist, then look no further! All you need to do is shove a load of butter under the bird’s skin and you’re good to go. This recipe can be adapted to incorporate different flavourings. I’ve gone for garlic (of course), but you could add some fresh herbs, or keep it simple with salt and pepper.

Serves 2 with left-over chicken for a nice salad the following day

Ingredients:
1 free-range chicken (approx 1.5 kg)
75 g butter
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3-4 medium onions, chunked
200 ml white wine (or you could use chicken stock or water)

For the spice rub (optional):
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder (or smoked paprika)
1 tsp cayenne pepper

For the broccoli cheese:
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
120 g cheddar cheese
60 g butter
100 g double cream
150 ml full-fat milk
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C

First, prepare a bed of onions for the chicken to sit on. Then, prepare the flavoured butter by whizzing the garlic, butter, salt and pepper. You can do this by hand – just finely chop the garlic and beat it with the butter until it is fully incorporated.

IMG_2653IMG_2655IMG_2657

Starting from the neck-end of the chicken, gently separate the skin from the breast, trying not to pierce the skin itself. Push the flavoured butter underneath the skin and try to cover as much of the breast as possible. Spread the remaining butter all over the chicken, not forgetting the nooks and crannies, such as the armpits.

IMG_2666IMG_2669IMG_2673

If using, mix the spice-rub ingredients together and sprinkle all over the chicken. Add the wine/stock/water to the dish (to stop the onions burning) and roast in the oven for 20 mins per 500 g, plus an extra 20 mins, or until the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli cheese. Steam/boil the broccoli until tender, and place into an oven-proof dish. Add the remaining ingredients to a pan and heat, whisking, until everything is melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce over the broccoli, and finish with lashings of black pepper.

IMG_2683IMG_2685IMG_2686

Bake in the oven, with the chicken, for 20 minutes. Serve with the chicken, the onions and some of the lovely buttery chickeny pan juices.

IMG_2694IMG_2696
IMG_2707

Easy-peasy hol-lard-aise sauce

Ok so this isn’t actually made with lard, but it is easy-peasy so the title is at least half right.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
100 g butter
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt and pepper

Place the vinegar in a small pan over a high heat and reduce by half. Add the butter, salt and pepper, and continue to heat until the butter has melted.

IMG_1447IMG_1450IMG_1451

Meanwhile, place the egg yolk in a bowl and whisk until foamy. Slowly add the butter mixture to the egg, whisking constantly so that the egg doesn’t scramble.

IMG_1452IMG_1453IMG_1454

At this point it is ready to serve, but if you prefer a mayonnaise-like consistency, return the mixture to the pan over a very low heat (I use a heat diffuser) and stir until the desired consistency is reached. Serve with a some asparagus, bacon and a poached egg.

IMG_1459IMG_1468

**For bearnaise sauce, just fry a small, finely chopped, shallot before adding the vinegar, and finish with a tbsp of chopped tarragon. Really good with steak!

6 months of LCHF and a week of LCHF breakfasts

Today marks the beginning of my 7th month on LCHF, and I must say I’m feeling pretty great. What started off as a gesture of support for my husband’s latest obsession has turned into a new way of eating for the foreseeable future. I was never that bothered about losing weight, but I now weigh the same as I did when I was 18 (I’ve just worked out how long ago that was and I think I’ll keep it to myself), and having to buy new clothes is never a bad thing. Ignoring the weight-loss, there are a number of other benefits to LCHF that I’ve discovered:

1. The food is awesome. Fat = tasty.
2. No more headaches. I’ve had chronic headaches since I was small, and having a pain in my head was pretty much the norm. Now I can’t remember the last time I had a headache.
3. You know when you’re feeling hungry and it just won’t go away until you’ve had that packet of crisps or a chocolate bar (usually around 11 am, or 3 pm)? I haven’t felt like that since December 2013.
4. My skin has improved. Break-outs are few and far between, and my skin is definitely not as dry anymore.
5. No more crippling stomach cramps at that time of the month.
6. The afternoon slump is no more! (Although that may be a double-edged sword as now I can do more work in the afternoon).
7. I’ve never eaten so many eggs in my life but I’m still not tired of them. It turns out that eggs are very good for you – forget about that cholesterol bollocks.
8. I don’t have to feel guilty about cooking with butter or cream.
9. Everything tastes sweeter – even broccoli. No longer do I need to add a bit of sugar to my tomato sauce. The tomatoes are sweet enough.
10. I never used to eat breakfast, but now it’s my favourite meal of the day.

…which leads me nicely onto the food part of this post: what I eat for breakfast! Here I have compiled a selection of my typical breakfasts for a week:

IMG_0760

Day 1: Almond pancake with bacon and goat’s cheese

IMG_0761

Day 2: 2-egg omelette filled with bacon and cheese

IMG_0765

Day 3: Creamy scrambled eggs with bacon and tomatoes

IMG_0782

Day 4: Burger topped with a fried egg and cheese

IMG_0787

Day 5: Cream & yoghurt with blueberries and some crushed, cinnamon-roasted nuts

IMG_0791

Day 6: Egg & gherkin mayo with cheese and salami

IMG_0789

Day 7: The fry-up! Bacon,egg, tomatoes and sour cream (all fried in butter & bacon fat, of course!).

I know what you’re thinking…how can that much saturated fat be in any way healthy?? Well, I can’t think of a better advertisement for LCHF than my husband James. He eats a hell of a lot more than me, and even goes so far as to have butter in his morning coffee. Yet, even with all that fat and so few carbs he managed to run 115 miles in under 24 hours at endure24 at the weekend, coming in 2nd place. He is so brilliantly fat-adapted that instead of fuelling this crazy challenge with umpteen energy gels and bars, and a massive bowl of pasta the night before, he managed it with a few mini-babybels, a mouthful of biltong, a couple of rashers of bacon, 1.75 bananas and a mouthful of buttery mashed potato (which sent him on a bit of a sugar-rush). Afterwards, he worked out that he consumed a measly 750 kcal, of which 265 kcal were from carbs, for the entire race! Amazing!

LCHF Blueberry panna cotta

This is such an easy dessert to make – the hardest part is waiting for them to set – and there’s no need for sugar. However, if you want to make them sweeter you can just add a couple of tablespoons of sugar or some sweetener to the cream mixture.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
140 ml can coconut cream
300 ml double cream
100 g blueberries
1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1 vanilla pod
4 leaves of gelatine

Cut up and soak the gelatine leaves in 2 tbsp cold water for 5 – 10 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, place all of the other ingredients into a pan over a medium-low heat and bring to the boil. Blend the cream mixture with a stick blender, or in a liquidiser, until smooth. Whilst the mixture is still warm, add the gelatine and stir/blend until it is fully dissolved.

IMG_1058IMG_1059

Pour the mixture into four ramekins, or panna cotta moulds, and leave in the fridge to set. Mine were set after 2 hours, but it could take longer. To serve, turn out the panna cottas onto plates and garnish with some mint leaves (you may need to heat the outside of the moulds to free them – just use some hot water for this). If you’re pressed for time you could just set the mixture in glasses or bowls and serve the panna cottas without turning them out.

IMG_1066IMG_1073

LCHF Avocado pancakes

Avocados. Love them. They do not, however, love me! I’m the back-of-the-throat-itchy-burny kind of allergic, rather than the anaphylactic shock kind, but it is irritating enough for me to forego avocados *sad face*. Avocados are, of course, great for the LCHF way of eating; plenty of fat, and the carbs are mainly in the form of fibre, which is all good. Having resigned myself to never again being able to eat a lovely avocado I would look on wistfully as my husband chomped his way through ANOTHER avocado.

This is not the end of my avocado story. The good thing about having a nerdy husband is that he reads EVERYTHING that’s vaguely related to what he is interested in. He came across a post on Lance Armstrong’s website, which suggested that the thing in avocados that gives people an allergic reaction is broken down when the avocado is cooked. I tested this theory by frying some chopped avocado and eating a tiny amount. No itching. A bit more. Still no itching. A massive bit. Only a tiny bit of itching but this was probably because it wasn’t cooked enough. Yay, avocados are back on the menu!

**DISCLAIMER** Whilst this worked for me, it may not work for you, so be f***ing careful!!

This has opened up a new world of experimentation, so here’s my first try – avocado pancakes (don’t knock them until you’ve tried them).

Makes 2 generous pancakes.

Ingredients:
1/2 large avocado (or a whole small one)
2 eggs
Salt & pepper
Butter for frying (or whatever fat you like)

Chop the avocado and mash with a fork. Add the eggs, salt and pepper, and mix well. The mixture should be moderately runny, like a normal pancake batter. You may need to add an extra egg if the batter looks very thick, like guacamole.

IMG_0856IMG_0857IMG_0858

Heat the butter in a frying pan and dollop half of the avocado mixture into it. You could make several smaller pancakes, if you prefer. Fry the pancake over a medium-low heat for a few minutes until the sides of the pancake start to brown. Turn the pancake carefully (it will be fragile) and cook on the other side until the pancake is springy to the touch.

IMG_0862IMG_0863

Serve with whatever you fancy, really. I went for bacon and tomatoes. Yum.

IMG_0865

No-sugar-no-grain banana & pecan cream tartlets

Well I can’t believe it has taken me this long to realise how sweet bananas actually are (thanks for awakening the taste buds, LCHF). Certainly, no sugar is required for this satisfying pud!

Makes two 12cm tartlets

Ingredients:
1 quantity coconut flour pastry
2 small bananas (about 150 g), sliced
30 g pecans
50 g butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
100 g double cream whipped with 1/4 tsp vanilla powder

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Roll out the pastry in between two sheets of cling film and line the tart cases. I had a little left over so I made some little biscuits as well. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cases are lightly golden.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and add the sliced bananas, pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fry for a few minutes, until the bananas are golden and the pecans are toasted. Set to one side and allow to cool to room temperature.

IMG_0744IMG_0749

Divide the banana mixture between the two tartlets, top with the whipped cream, and decorate with a couple of pecan halves.

IMG_0753IMG_0759

Low-carb paella

Some say pie-ella, some say pie-yay-ya (although I’m not entirely sure why). It’s pa-el-ya, people! Obviously swapping the rice for cauliflower is going to change the consistency (cauliflower doesn’t tend to soak up liquid), compared to a traditional paella, but this one managed to both smell and taste like one so two out of three isn’t bad.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 boneless & skinless chicken thighs, chunked
180 g raw king prawns
100 g cooking chorizo, chunked
1 small cauliflower, whizzed/grated
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 shallot/small onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
200 g green beans (optional)
400 ml chicken stock
A few strands of saffron soaked in 1 tbsp water
1 tsp smoked/sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Olive oil for frying

Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a shallow frying pan or paella dish, and brown the chicken pieces for 5-10 minutes then set to one side, leaving the oil and chicken fat in the pan. Fry the onion, garlic and chorizo for a few minutes until the onions are soft, and then add the chopped tomatoes.

IMG_0685IMG_0686IMG_0688

Once the tomatoes have turned mushy, add the sliced red pepper and continue to cook until the peppers have softened. Return the chicken to the pan, and add the prawns, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is coated. Mix the saffron (and it’s soaking water) with the chicken stock and add it to the pan, along with the green beans and whizzed/grated cauliflower.

IMG_0689IMG_0696IMG_0700

Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and some of the liquid has evaporated.

IMG_0705IMG_0712

LCHF Breakfast for one

There are times when I want pancakes for breakfast, but I don’t want the hassle of making a whole batch. Sometimes one is all you need. I developed this recipe for those times. It’s quite an eggy pancake, but that’s no bad thing! Perfect with bacon and blueberries for a nice filling LCHF breakfast.

Ingredients:
1 egg
3 tbsp ground almonds
Butter for frying

Mix together the egg and ground almonds.

IMG_0556IMG_0560

Fry in plenty of butter over a medium heat, for about a minute on each side.

IMG_0562IMG_0563IMG_0564

Fry some bacon, and a handful of blueberries with a knob of butter and serve.

IMG_0566IMG_0570

IMG_0574

Sugar-free grain-free pear upside-down cake

We’ve been relaxing the LCHF diet over the last couple of weeks. Sort of. We’re still grain, sugar and starch free, but we have introduced some extra fruit (aside from the berries) as it’s good for you and all that. I’m more of a cake person than a fruit person, however, so I made some cake that was a vessel for the fruit (hold the sugar, of course).

Makes one 23 cm round cake

Ingredients:
For the sponge:
200 g ground almonds IMG_0529
3 eggs
50 g butter, melted
1 small eating apple, grated
1/2 tsp vanilla powder

For the pear:
1 large pear (although it could have had some more in)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
Pinch of salt
50 g butter

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

Peel and slice the pear into eighths, and coat with the spices and salt. Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the pear slices, frying gently for a few minutes until they are soft and slightly golden. Remove from the heat and arrange the pears on the bottom of the pan such that they will look nice on top of a cake (so, a bit better than I did). I used the frying pan as a cake tin, but if you haven’t got an oven-proof pan, just arrange the pears in the bottom of a tart/pie/cake tin, not forgetting to add all of the butter from the pan!

IMG_0530IMG_0538IMG_0541

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs for about 5 minutes until they have quadrupled in size (almost to soft peaks). Gently fold in the almonds, grated apple, melted butter and vanilla.

IMG_0535IMG_0542IMG_0543

Pour the batter onto the pears and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the sponge is golden and springs back to the touch. Turn-out onto a serving plate, and serve with a big dollop of clotted cream.

IMG_0544IMG_0545IMG_0549

IMG_0553

Stuffed roast leg of pork

Well I didn’t think it had been this long since my last post! I’m going to be doing some experimental baking today so depending on how that goes, stay tuned for a pudding post this week.

This happy little piggy was from our meat box. The meat turned out lovely, moist and full of flavour, and the crackling was teeth-shattering, as it should be.

Ingredients:
For the pork:
1.2 kg rolled leg of pork
2 medium onions
Small bunch fresh sage leaves
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
Butter for frying
Salt & pepper

For the cabbage:
1 savoy cabbage, shredded
100 ml chicken stock
25 g butter
2 tbsp double cream or creme fraiche
Salt & pepper, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C (fan), or as high as your oven will go.

Finely chop the onions and sage in a food processor. Melt the butter in the pan and gently fry the onions and sage, along with a generous pinch of salt and lots of ground pepper, until the onions are soft. Set aside to cool whilst you prepare the pork.

IMG_0515

Using a sharp knife, butterfly the pork so that you can lay it out flat to stuff it.

IMG_0516

Rub in some salt and pepper all over the exposed pork flesh, then spread the cooked onions over it. Now lay the bacon rashers over the onions and roll the pork back into its original shape. Secure with string, and place in a roasting pan. You might have to poke the onions and bacon back into the piggy (mine splurged out somewhat), just to tidy it up a bit. Pat the skin dry with a piece of kitchen towel, then score with a sharp knife and rub some salt and pepper into it.

IMG_0518IMG_0519IMG_0522

Place the joint in the very hot oven for 20 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 170°C for the remaining cooking time (about 35 minutes per 500 g). You will end up with something that looks like this:

IMG_0524

Prepare the cabbage whilst piggy is resting. Steam the shredded cabbage in a pan with the chicken stock, for about 5 minutes. Add the butter, cream, seasoning, and stir. Continue to cook, uncovered, for a couple of minutes.

IMG_0523IMG_0526

Serve with slices of the pork, and a nice chunk of crackling (watch your teeth).

IMG_0528