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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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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Thai-style LCHF fishcakes

You know me, I’m always trying to find ways of making fish less fishy. These fishcakes are certainly a good addition to my fish repertoire, and I do love those Thai flavours! I have cheated somewhat by using pre-prepared ginger puree and lemongrass paste, but this does keep the dish nice and quick for a mid-week meal with no faffing about with those pesky lemongrass stalks. Keeping one of the salmon fillets chunky gives these fishcakes a great texture.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 salmon fillets (remove bones and skin)
1 tbsp ginger puree
1 tbsp lemongrass paste
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp coriander leaf, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or chilli powder)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy/tamari sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
Coconut oil (or ghee) for shallow-frying

Dice one of the salmon fillets, and blend the other to a paste using a food processor.

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Combine, add the remaining ingredients, and mix well. Leave to marinate whilst you prepare your chosen side dish – I opted for a green salad.

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Once you’re ready to eat, heat the coconut oil in a frying pan, shape the mixture into small patties (I just rolled some into a ball and then squashed it in the pan), and fry for a couple of minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of your patties, mine were approx 2 cm thick), until they are golden and springy to the touch.

Serve with a peppery green salad, tossed with some toasted sesame seeds, a few flaked almonds and a zingy dressing.

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LCHF curry feast!

This is an homage to our local curry house, which has put up with our awkward dietary requirements for the last 8 months or so, never complaining when we swap bread and rice for extra veggie sides (even when there’s a deal on). I’m not sure what sort of curry this is, so I shall call it “lamb curry a la Roxy”, complete with cauliflower bhaji and courgette pakoras/fritters.

The curry serves 4, but us two managed to munch our way through all of the pakoras and cauliflower, so make extra if you’re serving more people.

Ingredients:

For the lamb curry a la Roxy:
500 g diced lamb shoulder
4 onions, sliced
4 large cloves garlic
6 – 10 dried kashmiri chillies (depending on how hot you want it), soaked in warm water for a few minutes
2 medium tomatoes
A chunk of ginger (about 5 cm)
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods (just for the hell of it)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 small aubergine, chunked (optional)
Lots of ghee for frying

For the cauliflower bhaji:
1 cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed/boiled until almost cooked
1/2 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
Ghee for frying

For the pakoras:
1 large courgette, diced
The other half of the onion from the cauliflower, finely sliced
2 eggs
2 tbsp curry powder (whatever you have to hand, I went for madras as it was in my cupboard)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
Ghee or lard for frying (I ran out of ghee so I used lard for porky pakoras – or porkoras, if you will)

First, prepare the curry. Place the garlic, ginger, tomatoes and kashmiri chillies in a blender and blend to a fine paste.

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Heat a large saucepan and add the cumin seeds and cardamom pods. Fry until the seeds start to dance in the pan, then add the ghee (about 2 tbsp) and the onions. Fry for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are soft. Depending on how dark you want your finished sauce, you can cook the onions on a high heat to brown them, or fry them gently for a paler sauce (that’s what I did). Add the lamb and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the spice paste, fry for a minute, and then add the ground spices, the salt and the pepper. Add enough water to cover the lamb, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook on a loooow heat (use a diffuser if you have one) for 1.5 hours.

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Add the aubergine (if using) and simmer for a further 30 minutes, removing the lid and turning up the heat for the last 15 mins.

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Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients for the cauliflower bhaji and pakoras. For the cauliflower bhaji, steam/boil the cauliflower until just tender. Set to one side. Fry the onions in ghee for a few minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, tomato, turmeric and mustard seeds and stir-fry for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the cooked cauliflower and stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until everything is properly cooked.

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For the porkoras, place the courgette, onion, eggs, curry powder, tomato puree, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

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Heat enough ghee/lard in a frying pan to shallow-fry the pakoras (about 2 cm up the side of the pan). Once the fat is hot (test by dropping in a small amount of batter – if it puffs up it’s hot enough), add spoonfuls of the pakora mixture to the pan. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side (keep an eye on the heat, don’t let the fat get too hot) until the courgette is tender and the pakoras are golden, then fry the next batch.

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Serve everything together, and use the pakoras to soak up the curry sauce!

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Sugar-free grain-free fruit crumble

I seem to be cooking far more frequently than I’m posting, and as a result I have a bit of a back-log of recipes! Thankfully, I have been taking notes, so I don’t have to try to remember what I did from the hundreds of pictures of food I seem to have amassed. So, here’s a pudding from the archives for you. I know this isn’t a very summery dessert, but it is currently winter elsewhere, so this is one for my Southern-hemisphere followers!

Ingredients:
2 nectarines, sliced
2 small bananas, sliced
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp baharat spice mix (or use 1/2 tsp nutmeg & 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
Pinch of salt
50 g butter, cubed

For the crumble topping
50 g coconut flour
25 g almond flour
40 g butter
40 g pecans, crushed
Pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (fan).

Place the fruit into an oven-proof dish, sprinkle over the spices, vanilla and salt, and mix. Place the cubed butter around the fruit.

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Now prepare the crumble topping. Mix the flours and together in a bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, and mix in the pecans. Spread the crumble over the fruit.

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Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until the crumble is golden. Serve with lashings of double cream!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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**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!