My husband bought me a new pestle and mortar this week—mainly because we are watching Celebrity MasterChef on the Beeb and every time I spot one of the stars pounding their garlic, I sigh and wish out loud that I had such a big one…
Cue the delivery of a weighty package. I crushed eight cloves of garlic in it at once to celebrate. Vampire-proofed to the max, what else could I do? How about a lamb curry where I roasted whole spices and then pounded them to dust?
This lamb curry in almond sauce is a recipe I adapted from the Spice Sisters Indian cookbook. The whole spices are cumin and fennel seeds, and cardamom, all of which will scent your kitchen beautifully as you roast them. Serve your curry with cauliflower rice or this low-carb naan bread. Normal rice and naan bread will keep the carb-lovers in your family happy.
In a small pan, dry-fry the cumin, fennel and cardamom for a few minutes. Pound to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the meta in batches until it is browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the onions.
Fry until translucent. Add all the other ingredients (except the lamb and the lemon juice) and bring to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes and then use a hand-held blender to make the sauce smooth.
Add the lamb back in, pop on a lid and allow to gently simmer for 30 minutes. Add the lemon juice at the end.
Allow 15g carbs per portion.
The golden rule with curry is it almost always tastes better the next day.
As a one-time vegetarian, I love vegetable or pulse-based curries. I’d choose them over meat-based ones any day. I’m also a fan of tamarind paste—it adds amazing tangy flavour to any curry.
Last week, I made a veggie curry using the left-overs in the fridge and combining them in a rich sauce. Had I been the only one eating it, I would have added cauliflower but my husband hates the stuff and veggie dishes are a hard sell to him so I left it out.
Recipes often specify coconut milk, which is fine if you need a whole tin of it. I keep packets of creamed coconut in my store cupboards (fridge in the summer) as it’s much more versatile. You can use however much you need without waste, and it can be a thickener or made into a cream.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Strictly speaking, you should put the onions in first, fry till translucent, then add the peppers, courgette and carrot, cook for five minutes and add the mushrooms last. I’m too lazy to add the veggies one by one so I threw them all in at once and cooked for about six minutes.
Add the curry powder, tamarind paste and chillies and cook for another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Mix in the creamed coconut and turn down to a simmer. Cook for about five minutes. The creamed coconut will thicken the sauce. Add seasoning to taste.
To make it more of a main meal, You could add some fresh chicken stock to this and turn it into a sauce for chicken thighs or throw in a good handful of cooked prawns and cook for a minute to warm through. Another worthy addition is two or three balls of frozen spinach. Defrost and warm through beforehand, obvs.
Allow about 15-18g of carbs per portion. Serve with naan breads (low-carb version here) or rice for the carb-lovers in your life.
Who was the first person to look at a cauliflower and a bowl of leftover cheese sauce and think—“My goodness, this will be a match made in heaven?”
Whoever he or she was, I’d like to shake them by the hand. If someone said to me, “Okay it’s your last meal on earth, what do you want?”, I’d say, “Cauliflower cheese, please, and don’t stint the cheese.” As it is my last meal, I’d ask them to top it with crispy breadcrumbs and some grilled bacon rashers for crunch.
[Conversation to the side. HUSBAND: Seriously, that’s your last meal? Not steak, or lobster or even a good burger with all the trimmings? Jeez. Who/what did I marry?]
On Friday night, I was at the Tron Theatre (get me) with friends and noticed the bar menu included curried cauliflower cheese. That set the neurons firing. The world’s best dish made even better?
The Tron’s version would have been made the conventional way—a white sauce with milk and flour to thicken it. Low-carb versions use variations of cream and cream cheese to thicken the sauce. Where would the curry bit come in?
One of the ways to cook cauliflower often recommended to those who hate the stuff* is to roast it in the oven with cumin and coriander seeds and chilli. That takes care of the curry bit. Then, if you combine it with a creamy sauce and grated cheese and pop it back in the oven you have the perfect low-carb cauliflower cheese.
You can serve this as an accompaniment to cold meat such as sliced ham or cooked sausages. Or do as I did—serve yourself a super-big portion with a lightly-dressed green salad. Yum.
The best veggie dish in the world made even better
One large whole cauliflower, broken into even-sized florets
One tbsp turmeric
One tbsp rapeseed oil
One tbsp cumin seeds
One tbsp coriander seeds
One tsp black pepper corns
½ tsp chilli flakes (or more…)
250mls double cream
100g grated cheese (extra mature to vintage cheddar is best)**
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Bring a large saucepan of well salted water to the boil, add the turmeric and cook the cauliflower florets for two minutes. Drain well so they are very dry.
Toast the cumin, coriander and pepper in a dry frying pan until the smell of them hits your nose like a sledgehammer and grind to to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
Take a large roasting pan and tip your florets in there. Add the oil and the spices and mix well so the florets are well coated. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the cream gently in a pan and add the mustard and most of the grated cheese. Blend well.
Remove the cauliflower florets from the oven. Place in an oven-proof serving dish and pour over the cheese sauce. Top with the rest of the grated cheese and put back in the oven for 20 minutes.
Allow about 5-8g carbs per serving
Note—the number of servings depends on the size of cauliflower you started with. Mine was teeny, so my dish made two. If I’d served it as a side dish, three-to four. But we are in glutton territory here. Maybe I pretended the dish above served two and ate the whole lot in one go… no-one else in my household wanted to eat it, after all. Another idea is to prepare the roasted cauliflower as a side dish for any roast meat.
*Didn’t work on my husband. Cauliflower is up there on his list of the Devil’s Foods, along with broccoli, sprouts and blue cheese.
**This is a rough guide. If you choose to double it up, who am I to judge?
This steak has several names, such as cowboy or tomahawk. The steak can be grilled over indirect heat or it can be baked in the oven,
It is a large steak and we will only eat part of it. However, I like having leftovers that I can use for a salad or a quesadilla later in the week.
•One 22 – 24 oz French Cut Rib Eye Steak
•2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
•2 tablespoons butter, melted
One hour before grilling, remove the steak from the refrigerator. Season it liberally with the salt and pepper. Let it rest at room temperature until it is time to grill.
Set the grill up for direct and indirect heat.
Put the steak on the grill over indirect heat. Close the lid, and cook the steak, turning a few times during cooking. The steak is ready for searing when it reaches 115°F in the thickest part of the steak, about 25 – 30 minutes.
Brush the steak with some of the melted butter, then slide it to the direct heat side of the grill. Sear the steak until a brown crust forms on the steak. This should take about two minutes on each side, at which point the steak should reach 125°F for medium rare.
Remove the steak to a platter and baste i,t one last time, with the butter. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
Oven Baked Method
Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the steak to the skillet. Cook until seared and golden brown, 2 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven..
Roast steak in the oven, turning halfway through cooking and basting frequently with the butter in the pan, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into steak registers 125° for medium-rare, about 15 minutes, or to your desired temperature.
Transfer the steak to a cutting board and and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
•2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
•2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
•1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, ends trimmed
•Salt and ground black pepper
•1 teaspoon lemon zest
•Heavy duty foil
Lay the asparagus on a large sheet of heavy duty foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then with the garlic and lemon zest. Pour the melted butter over the asparagus.
Enclose the asparagus in the foil and seal the edges tightly. Place the package on the direct heat side of the grill while the steak is cooking.
Cook the asparagus for 8 minutes, turn the package over and cook another 8 minutes. Be careful opening the package because the steam will be very hot.
There’s also a potato salad to go with this recipe, but go easy on this side dish if you have diabetes or weight to lose! You can substitute cauliflower for the potatoes. Divide it into even-sized florets and steam until tender – about five minutes.
Heat half the oil in a large pan and fry the chicken in batches, over a medium heat until golden. Set aside.
Put the bacon in the same pan and fry gently to release its fat. Turn heat to medium, add the shallots and cook for 5 min, stirring occasionally, until both are lightly coloured.
Remove the leaves from the tarragon and set aside. Sprinkle over flour and stir to absorb the juices. Cook for 1 min, then gradually add the white wine, stock, and tarragon stalks. Return chicken to pan, cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 45 min to 1 hr until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken, bacon and shallots with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Discard tarragon stalks. Simmer sauce rapidly until reduced by half. Stir in the creme fraiche and tarragon leaves. Season to taste.
Turn off the heat, then return the chicken, bacon and shallots to the pan. Serve with veg.
This week I had a large pot of Greek yoghurt seeking a happy culinary ending so I decided to make a moussaka.
Lots of moussaka recipes use a béchamel sauce which obviously pushes up the carbohydrate content and make it unsuitable for coeliacs because of the flour in the sauce, and as I was going to be entertaining a coeliac then this version is ideal for the gluten-free AND the low-carber.
I like mince done in the slow cooker as I think you get a concentrated flavour (and it’s easier), but I’ve also given you the conventional method for cooking the mince part.
Place the mince, onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, rosemary, tomato puree and 1tbsp olive oil in your slow cooker and mix very well. Top up with enough water to cover.
Cook on slow for 6-7 hours, or high for 4 hours.
For the conventional method:
Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a large sauce pan and brown the lamb mince, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon as it cooks. (You might need to do this in two batches). Once the meat has browned and excess water boiled off (about 10 minutes, add the onions, garlic and herbs and cook, stirring, for another three or four minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree, mix well and add in a little water – about 100-200mls. Bring to the boil.
Cover, turn down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. You might need to take the lid off for the last few minutes to condense the sauce. You are looking for a thick, concentrated sauce.
For both methods:
Season the lamb well with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the aubergine slices. Brush the slices with the remaining tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and cook in a pre-heated oven (180 degrees C) for 15 minutes.
Beat the two eggs and mix with the yoghurt. Using a large rectangular, oven-proof casserole dish, layer up the lamb, then aubergine slices, then lamb, a final layer of aubergine and top the lot with the egg/yoghurt mixture, and the grated cheese.
Cook for 30 minutes in the pre-heated oven until the topping is golden-brown.
This moussaka has approximately 20g of carbs per serving.