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Archive for November, 2011

Dukan: The End of Days

So, today is the official Last Day of the Diet. The boyfriend will be doing his last Wednesday Weekly Web Weigh-in, and no doubt writing a highly intelligent and thoughtful blog post about his experiences (ETA – he has). Of course I haven’t been Dukaning with anything approaching strictness for some time now, but I have been cooking mostly Dukan-compliant dinners for us most nights. Lately we’ve been introducing more pulses as well as – I confess – more fat.

Here are a final few recipes for those readers who are still hard at it. Keep the faith – you will get there!

“F**k the world’s marine biology” fish and mash supper

Two large tuna steaks, marinated in soy, garlic, chilli, ginger and sesame oil and seared in a hot pan – they should still be raw in the centre
Raw king prawns, pan-fried with garlic, chilli, ginger and spring onions, arranged atop salad leaves and dressed with sesame oil and lime juice
Wasabi mash, made from a tin of butterbeans and half their volume each of steamed frozen broad beans and peas, all processed together with a little fromage frais and some wasabi paste

This really is indefensible – what can I say? Thankfully the cost to you of this kind of quantity of fresh tuna and prawns is as high as it is to the species concerned, so one’s not likely to indulge very often. It’s lovely though.

Fragrant orange chicken

4-6 skinless chicken thigh fillets
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Rind of half an orange, either grated or removed in large pieces with a potato peeler – I did the latter
1 tsp ras el hanout spice blend
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 sprig thyme
1/2 tin tomatoes
1 tin butterbeans

Brown the chicken pieces in a casserole dish and set aside. Add the vegetables with a little water if the pan looks like burning. Saute until soft and golden. Add the orange peel, spices, tomatoes and the same volume of water, and return the chicken to the pan. Cover and cook slowly for 30 minutes, then remove the lid, add the butterbeans and reduce until the sauce is thick and intense. Serve with cauliflower rice and salad.

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Fame at last!

To my immense chuffedness, I had a couple of pieces published recently on the Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog. Here they are.

Orwellian eating
Celebrity food producers

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Yes, I’ll admit it, I was wanting to do a “tom nom nom nom” thing in the headline. But then I thought some readers might hunt me down and boil me alive, so I refrained. Oh, I didn’t. Sorry.

Anyway, this is probably the Dukan recipe we’ve made most often, and it’s lovely, easy, cheapish and healthy as. Also, like so many SE Asian recipes, it needs little adaptation to be Dukan-compliant. If you want you can simplify things by not doing the fishcakes and just lobbing some chicken or whatever in the soup, which would also be lovely, but much as I hate making the fishcakes, they are delicious and somehow make it all feel more substantial.

For the fishcakes
400g fish – I’ve used cod, pollack, defrosted frozen coley and even raw prawns. I’d steer clear of anything too oily though.
3 spring onions, roughly chopped (green and white parts)
Half a bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Small piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red or green chilli, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp red curry paste

Put all the ingredients in the food processor and process until finely chopped but not too pastelike. Form into small cakes and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them. Be warned, this is a tedious and sticky job and it takes ages to get the smell of fish off your hands but your cat will love you.

For the soup
300ml good chicken stock
2tsp tom yum paste
5 spring onions, roughly chopped (green and white parts)
Half a bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Small piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red or green chilli, roughly chopped
1 stick lemongrass, trimmed and chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tsp fish sauce

The rest of the ingredients – the body of the dish really – are up to you. I use whatever’s in the fridge, but I think one should include a minimum of five different vegetables – tonight’s version has carrot, mushrooms, red pepper, mange tout peas, baby corn, cauliflower and kale. In the past I’ve used butternut squash, broccoli, spinach, and those fancy oriental-style mushrooms you get at Waitrose and Asian food stalls. If you’re making a veggie version you’ll probably want to include some tofu too, but use the fresh, extra firm kind; the “firm silken” stuff you get in tetrapacks in the supermarket is too fally-aparty, I find.

Chop all the vegetables and sort them according to the order in which they’ll cook – carrots first, spring onion tops and spinach last.

In a large pan, warm a little oil and add the chilli, ginger, garlic and the white part of the spring onions. Cook until the wonderful volatile oils make you cough, but nothing is browning. Then add your slower-cooking veg, the stock, tom yum paste and a cup of water. Simmer until the hardest of the veg – usually the carrots – are beginning to tenderise. Then add the softer vegetables and simmer.

Heat a pan with a little oil or non-stick cooking spray and cook the fishcakes for about five minutes a side, until brown, sticky and cooked through.

Add your final ingredients to the soup: the spinach and spring onion tops, tofu or raw prawns if you’re using them. Simmer briefly, then finish with fresh coriander.

Serve the fishcakes on the side and the soup in its pot. You can eat them separately or dunk the fishcakes in the lovely fragrant broth.

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