Natural low carb store: Chocolate cake

 

Ingredients

9 Eggs (medium)
300g Dark Chocolate (minimum 72% cocoa)
150g Inulin Powder
70g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
30ml Double Cream
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Method

(makes approx. 18 servings)

Pre-heat the oven to 140°C. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over hot water (bain-marie) then stir through the double cream. Whilst the chocolate is melting separate the egg yolks and egg whites into two bowls. Whip the whites to form soft peaks. Combine the egg yolks with the inulin very gently (do not mix). Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks then sift in the cocoa powder and add the vanilla and combine together. Fold in the egg whites. Pour into a large round spring form cake tin (buttered if non-stick or lined if not) and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool so the cake comes away from the sides of the tin slightly. Serve with berries and a dollop of cream!

BMJ: It doesn’t take much alcohol to damage your brain cells

Adapted from BMJ 24 February 18 Alcohol link to dementia is “robust” by Jacqui Wise

Chronic heavy drinking should be recognised as a major risk for dementia say French researchers.

They looked at over 31 million French adults discharged from hospital between 2008 and 2013. Over 1.1 million people had been diagnosed as having dementia.  In 57% of those with early onset dementia alcohol use was considered to be the cause.

Drinking more than 6 units of alcohol a day for a man and 4 units for a woman put you in the risk category of “heavy drinking” according to the World Health Organisation. This level will make both men and women more than three times more likely to develop dementia than they otherwise would.

Michael Schwarzinger said, ” The link between dementia and alcohol use is likely a result of alcohol leading to permanent structural and functional brain damage. Alcohol disorders also increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure, which in turn increase the risk of vascular dementia. Heavy drinking is also associated with smoking, depression and low educational attainment which are also risk factors for dementia.”

Clive Ballard from the University of Exeter Medical School said, ” This study is immensely important. This evidence is robust and the public need to know about the relationship between alcohol consumption and dementia.”

My comment: I was really sad to read this report in the BMJ as I do love a nice glass of full bodied red when I’m eating a big lump of fatty spiced meat or a smelly gorgonzola. I was also dismayed to see what they regard as heavy drinking. 175 mls of most wines will be 2 units so two of them a day and you are three times more likely to get dementia, if you are a woman. I dread to think what a two week all inclusive holiday does to your brain. It is  always best to know these things before you get too batty to care. 

Low carb store: Strawberries and cream cake

This cake serves 8 and has 5.4 g of carb and 176 kcals a slice.

Ingredients

110g ground almonds

40 butter melted

50g inulin powder (or granulated sugar substitute)

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

30mls double cream

100g strawberries

 

Method

Combine the ground almonds, melted butter, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the double cream and inulin. Chop the strawberries and add them to the mixture combining gently by hand. Pour into a buttered cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Robert Carrier’s Rare Roast Beef

Robert Carrier was a very popular television chef in the 80s. He was famous for ladling on butter, cream and booze onto anything on a plate and in due course fell out of favour with the fat police in the later stages of the 80s and into the 90s. Fortunately one of my flatmates bought me Carrier’s Quick Cook for a Christmas present in 1983 and I’ve used it ever since. As you know, we are not afraid to chuck fat or booze on our food and the lower the carbs in your diet, the more we encourage you to do so.

A few weeks ago I was visiting my son in Leeds and off we went for an outing to Harewood House. This elegant house is in amazing grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. It is a thought that this man laid out many Victorian gardens but never lived to see them attain their full glory.

The grounds include a gem of a second hand bookshop and there I purchased Robert Carrier’s New Great Dishes of the World.  I already have his original Great Dishes of the World and was thrilled to have more boozy, creamy, meaty recipes at my fingertips.

I am now going to describe the late, great, Robert’s method to get perfect, rare roast beef with minimum effort.  He insists that you must have at LEAST 2.5 kg of boned and rolled meat.  I bought  a stunningly expensive rib eye joint of this weight and having never had a disappointment in 34 years of cooking from Carrier’s books entrusted it to his experience.

This is what you do.

Take the meat out of the fridge at least 2 hours before cooking time and hide it from your cats.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees centigrade or 500 Fahrenheit or gas 10 for at least 20 minutes ahead of time. The oven must be roasting hot.

Rub the joint with salt and pepper and spread it with dripping or butter. This could be about 4 tablespoons or so. Don’t skimp.

Put the meat on a rack in a roasting pan in the oven and cook for 5 minutes per 450g/lb and then switch OFF the oven BUT DON’T OPEN THE DOOR.

Leave it all on its own for two hours.

Touch the meat with your fingers. If it is warm take out and serve. If it is cool but the oven back on at 250 /500/10 for ten minutes or so to warm it before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

BMJ: Diabetic foot

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Summarised from BMJ Clinical Update Diabetic Foot by Mishra et al Mumbai and London 18 Nov 17

Foot disease troubles 6% of people who have diabetes and includes infection, ulceration or destruction of tissues of the foot. It can affect both social life and work. Up to 1.5% of diabetic people will end up with an amputation. Good foot care, screening and early treatment of ulceration is hoped to prevent a foot problem developing into a need for amputation. This article gives an update on the prevention and initial management of the diabetic foot that can be expected from primary care.

A combination of poor blood sugar control, foot neglect, lack of appropriate footwear, insufficient patient education and failure to find and treat pre-ulcerative lesions cause increasing foot damage and worsens the outlook.  Nerve and blood vessel damage make damage more likely to go unnoticed and more difficult to heal.

A careful examination of the feet by the patient or carer every day is a good idea. A careful examination by health professionals also detects problems early. Fungal infections, cracks and skin fissures, deformed nails, macerated web spaces, callouses, and deformities such as hammer toes, claw toes, and pes cavus increase the risk of ulceration.  Cold feet can suggest poor blood supply and warm feet can be an indicator of infection.

Monofilaments are often used to detect neuropathy at annual assessments. Pain after walking a certain distance and pain at rest suggest peripheral arterial disease.

Assessments every three to six months is needed for medium risk feet and every one or two months for high risk feet.

As neuropathy is difficult to reverse once established, prevention is key. Optimal glycaemic control is extremely important. Smoking cessation, maintaining a normal weight and continued exercise help the circulatory system.  Patients also know how to check their feet and who to get help from if they find problems. New shoes should be worn in gradually to prevent blisters.

Health care professionals need to send urgent cases to a specialised diabetic foot centre if at all possible. Such cases would include foot ulceration with fever or any signs of sepsis, ulceration with limb ischaemia, gangrene,  or suspected deep seated soft tissue or bone infection.

Ulcers are best washed in clean water or saline with a moist gauze dressing.  Anti-microbial agents can be cytotoxic  and can affect wound healing. Weight bearing on the area needs to be avoided. Tissue will be taken for bacterial culture and antibiotics prescribed due to local policies.

Referral within a day or two is needed for rest pain, an uncomplicated ulcer or an acute Charcot foot. (suspected fracture due to neuropathy).

Patients with rest pain and intermittent claudication need vascular referral.

Here are the top tips for patients:

Inspect your feet daily including between the toes and if you can’t do it yourself get someone else to do so

wash your feet in warm but not hot water daily and dry carefully especially between the toes

use oil or cream on dry feet but not between the toes

cut nails straight across and if necessary go to a podiatrist for this

Don’t do home treatments for corns and callouses

Check your shoes for objects or rough areas inside them and wear socks with them

avoid walking barefoot

get your feet examined regularly by a health care professional

notify the appropriate health care professional if you develop a blister, cut, scratch or sore on your feet

Jovina cooks: Easy fish and vegetable foil parcels

Fish and Veggie Grilled Packets

Until I started cooking fish on the grill with this method, I never realized how delicious and moist the fish would taste.
4 servings
Ingredients
16 oz Mahi Mahi fish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick and cut into 4 equal pieces
8 extra-large shrimp, cleaned and peeled
4 large sea scallops
4 fresh thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small red onion, cut into eighths
2 bell peppers, each cut into 12 thin slices
12 grape tomatoes, cut in half
Paprika, salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Extra-virgin olive oil

 

Directions
Preheat grill to medium.
To make the packets: lay two 18-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil on top of each other (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning); generously coat the top piece with olive oil cooking spray. Repeat with six more pieces of foil.
Divide the onions and bell pepper equally on bottom of the 4 pieces of heavy-duty foil.
Place a piece of fish on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, Add 2 shrimp and 1 scallop to each packet.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add tomatoes, garlic and chives to each packet.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Bring the short ends of the foil together, leaving enough room in the packet for steam to gather and cook the food.
Fold the foil over and pinch to seal. Pinch seams together along the sides. Make sure all the seams are tightly sealed to keep steam from escaping.
Grill the packets until the fish is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender, about 15 minutes.
To serve, carefully open both ends of the packets and allow the steam to escape. Use a spatula to slide the contents onto plates. Serve with the lemon sauce.

Lemon Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Dash or two of hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions
Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat on the grill or on the stove. Serve with the fish packet.

Jovina cooks: A traditional French feast

Madame Saucourt’s Ratatouille
Hotel Mas des Serres in Saint Paul de Vence.
Source: Mediterranean Grains and Greens by Paula Wolfert

Ingredients
5 pounds eggplant
5 pounds zucchini
5 pounds sweet onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 quart extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs: rosemary, savory, peppermint, thyme, and celery
1 bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups dry yet fruity white wine
2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and seeded
5 pounds red bell peppers
A few drops of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs for garnish: basil, parsley, thyme
Directions
Stem and peel the eggplant. Cut the flesh into 1″ cubes and place them in a deep kettle filled with very salty water. Keep submerged with a non-corrodible plate for at least 1 hour
Stem and peel the zucchini. Cut the flesh into 1″ cubes and place in a deep colander. Toss the zucchini with salt and let stand 1/2 hour.
In a very large heavy skillet or heavy-bottomed roasting pan cook the chopped onions in 1/2 cup water and 1 cup olive oil until the onions are soft and golden, about 30 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped herbs, bay leaf, sugar, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes.
Coarsely chop the tomatoes with their skins in the work bowl of a food processor. Add to the skillet and continue cooking at a simmer for 11/2 hours. Whenever the onion-tomato mixture starts to stick or burn, “deglaze” with a few tablespoons of water and scrape with a wooden spoon.
Grill the peppers; when cool, peel, stem, seed and cut into small pieces. Set aside.
Rinse and drain the eggplant and zucchini and lightly press dry with toweling.
Slowly heat the remaining 3 cups of olive oil in a wide pan or fryer until medium-hot. Add the zucchini in batches, and fry until golden on all sides. Transfer the zucchini with a slotted spoon to a colander set over a bowl to catch any excess oil. When all the zucchini has been fried, fry the eggplant in the same manner. From time to time return the drained oil in the bowl to the pan.
Spread the zucchini, eggplant, and peppers over the simmering onion-tomato mixture and pour in the remaining wine. Cover and cook at a simmer for 11/2 hours. From time to time remove the cover to help evaporate some of the liquid.
Place a colander over a large bowl and pour the contents of the skillet into it to drain. Stir carefully to avoid crushing the vegetables while trying to encourage any trapped oil and juices to drain. Quickly cool down the captured juices in order to remove as much oil as possible. If there is a lot of juice, boil it down until thick. Reserve all the frying oil and oil from the vegetables for another use. Pour the juices over the vegetables, taste for seasoning, add vinegar, and carefully stir to combine. Serve hot or cold. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Coquilles St-Jacques

Serves 6
Ingredients
8 oz. button mushrooms, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoons minced tarragon, plus 6 whole leaves, to garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup dry vermouth
1 bay leaf
6 large sea scallops
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup grated Gruyère
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Directions
Heat mushrooms, 4 tablespoons butter, and 2⁄3 of the shallots in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat; cook until the mixture forms a loose paste, about 25 minutes. Stir the parsley and minced tarragon into the mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper.
Divide mixture among 6 cleaned scallop shells or shallow gratin dishes. Bring remaining shallots, vermouth, bay leaf, salt, and 3⁄4 cup water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops; cook until barely tender, about 2 minutes.
Remove scallops; place each over mushrooms in shells. Continue boiling cooking liquid until reduced to 1⁄2 cup, about 10 minutes; strain.
Heat broiler to high. Heat remaining butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add reduced cooking liquid and cream; cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add cheese, juice, salt, and pepper; divide the sauce over scallops.
Broil until browned on top, about 3 minutes; garnish each with a tarragon leaf.

French Cassoulet
This hearty dish from southwestern France, known as a cassoulet, is a one-pot meal. A slow-simmered mix of beans, pork sausages, pork shoulder, pancetta and duck topped with a bread crumb crust , takes its name from the earthenware casserole in which it was traditionally made. My comment:You don’t need to use the breadcrumb crust.
Serves 6-8
Ingredients
1 lb. dried great northern beans
10 tablespoons duck fat or olive oil
16 cloves garlic, smashed
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 large ham hocks
1 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1″cubes
1⁄2 lb. pancetta, cubed
4 sprigs oregano
4 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup whole peeled canned tomatoes
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
4 duck legs
1 lb. pork sausages
2 cups bread crumbs (preferably not on a low carb diet!)
Directions
Soak the beans in a 4-qt. bowl in 7 1⁄2 cups water overnight.
Heat 2 tablespoons of duck fat in a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat. Add half the garlic, onions, and carrots and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add ham hocks along with beans and their water and boil. Reduce heat and simmer beans until tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
Transfer ham hocks to a plate; let cool. Pull off meat; discard skin, bone, and gristle. Chop meat; add to beans. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons duck fat in a 5-qt. dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown for 8 minutes. Add pancetta; cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining garlic, onions, and carrots; cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Tie together oregano, thyme, and bay leaves with twine; add to pan with tomatoes; cook until liquid thickens, 8–10 minutes. Add wine; reduce by half. Add broth; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, uncovered, until liquid has thickened, about 1 hour. Discard herbs; set dutch oven aside.
Sear the duck legs in 2 tablespoons duck fat in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat for 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Brown the sausages in the fat, about 8 minutes. Cut sausages into 1⁄2″ slices. Pull duck meat off bones. Discard fat and bones. Stir duck and sausages into pork stew.
Heat the oven to 300˚F. Mix beans and pork stew in a 4-qt. earthenware casserole. Cover with bread crumbs; drizzle with remaining duck fat.
Bake, uncovered, for 3 hours. Raise oven temperature to 500˚; cook the cassoulet until the crust is golden, about 5 minutes.