vegetarian spaghetti with sesame seeds

This spaghetti was inspired by a dish that we used to eat in one vegan restaurant many years ago. We really liked the combination of spaghetti with sesame seeds. The specific taste and ingredients are a rather vague memory of that spaghetti, but we used to like it very much. So because we explore the world of carbohydrates now I decided to cam back to this recipe and see how we like it now. The minimum amount of very simple ingredients seemingly gives the impression of not very tasty dish. But I guarantee you that the end result will surprise you. However, it is very important to use good, aromatic oil for spaghetti – extra virgin olive oil works great, you can also use sesame seeds oil – it will smell amazing. Also using coconut oil for fryiing will add a lot of different flavour. In this recipe oil is a very important ingredient, so feel free to experiment with different flavours. I encourage you to try this recipe, because the effect may surprise you.

I chose organic durum wheat spaghetti , but you can use vegan or gluten free option if needed. Wholemeal spaghetti will also work well adding some more texture and flavour to this dish.

Although I don’t thing my body need pasta and it’s not a really nutritious food for me I really enjoyed this vegetarian spaghetti – plenty of flavours from the oils, sweetness of carrot, nutty mushrooms and earthy flavour of celeriac – it all gives a surprisingly tasty dish. If you fancy enough you can toast a little bit of sesame seeds on a pan and sprinkle on top before serving – it will add extra flavour to your spaghetti. If you’re in a rush though take a pinch of sesame seeds and toss them on top of your portion.

You can prepare it quickly with only couple basic ingredients, on the very busy days. Also you definitely should try to prepare this recipe if you’re fan of pasta.

vegetarian spaghetti with sesame seeds

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings:

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/4 large celery root (celeriac)
  • couple white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds plus extra for topping
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of garlic granules
  • 1/3 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • optionally: 1-2 tbsp sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil for aroma
  • organic durum wheat spaghetti for two servings

DIRECTIONS

Start with preparing veggies. Peel and wash carrot and celery root, do the same with white mushrooms. Grate the carrot and celery on a coarse-mesh grater, chop the mushrooms.

Heat a large pot with salted water to cook pasta. Cook spaghetti al dente and drain.

Heat a wok adding 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and toss mushrooms keeping the heat quite high, so mushrooms will fry nicely. After mushrooms starts getting golden add carrot and celery root. Salt the whole thing and add freshly ground black pepper, pinch of garlic granules and sweet paprika powder, and finally sesame seeds. Stir and fry until tender – just a couple minutes, so the flavours can combine. Now it’s time for pasta – toss it into the wok. Give it a good stir. Before serving, you can drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with some more sesame seeds. If you fancy enough you can toast some sesame seeds and then sprinkle on top. It will give some extra flavour to your spaghetti.

Enjoy your meal!

mediterranean pork fillet skillet

I usually make a pork fillet very basic: with a lot of brown onion, fried on clarified butter with some salt and pepper. But this time decided to try something different for a change. Couple day ago I bought a few aubergines, also had a bottle of passata in my cupboard, so I though maybe adding kind of Mediterranean sauce to this pork would work quite well? I could add finely chopped aubergine to the sauce, to make it more aromatic. And it worked quite well. Thick tomato sauce, with lots of garlic and basil did a job.

Recently I’ve noticed some kind of reluctance to meat, especially red meat. My body for some reason doesn’t want any beef or pork, it’s much better with chicken though. As I cook also for my partner, I still prepare meat, but when it comes to consuming, I’d rather replace it with something else or eat just a little bit if I feel like. I don’t know what’s the reason for that, but I could literally eat veggies all day long.

Maybe that’s why I’ve enjoyed this Mediterranean pork fillet so much – because of the veggie sauce 🙂

I’ve added lots of dried basil to it, but even better if you have fresh one. I’m afraid of buying fresh basil pot, after couple months ago I’ve discovered plenty of tiny maggots living on my beautifully growing basil plant. Because they were living under the leaves, I haven’t seen them until I wanted to grab a bunch for homemade pesto. Whole plant finished in the bin, and I haven’t buy any other since then. But if you have beautiful and healthy basil on your windowsill or in the garden, do not hesitate and add a lot to this tomato sauce.

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mediterranean pork fillet skillet

INGREDIENTS for 2 portions + leftovers:

  • 400g pork fillet
  • 1 small aubergine
  • couple mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp clarified butter
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 300-400ml tomato passata
  • 2 tsp dried basil (add fresh if you have)
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper (or 1/2 tsp coarse pepper)
  • natural rock salt

DIRECTIONS

Cut your pork fillet in thin slices – about half of an inch (about 1cm). Finely chop brown onion, wash aubergine and chop it as well. Slice garlic cloves or use a garlic press if you wish.

Heat a large skillet, adding 3 tbsp of clarified butter. Add meat, and fry on a high heat, until both sides slightly golden. Then add onion and salt and fry for about 5 minutes. Next add aubergine, mushrooms and all the spices: garlic, bay leaves, basil and lemon pepper, lower the heat and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add passata and simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes. You might need to add some water, depending of the thickness of passata. Also while cooking liquid will evaporate, so you can add some water according to how thick you want sauce to be like.

Check the taste, if you feel like it needs more basil, add more, also you might need more salt. If you’re satisfied with the taste, switch off the heat and serve. Depending of your liking: salad leaves, couscous, gnocchi etc. I had mine with bunch of green leaves, as I try not to eat any high carb foods.

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salmon pie inspired by Jamie Oliver

I found this recipe in Jamie Oliver’s book “Save with Jamie”, which my colleague used to use as a monitor pad. Somehow I was never convinced by Jamie’s recipes, I don’t know why. But this recipe came out very well as a variety of simple pan fried salmon. Although the preparation of the casserole is a bit complicated, but the effect pleases the eye and the taste, so it is worth giving the casserole some time and attention.

If you’d like to make keto version of this recipe, you can swap green peas and potatoes with broccoli or cauliflower (I recommend using fresh veggies) and instead of milk and regular flour use thick part of coconut milk (from the can). It will reduce while cooking enough so you won’t need to use flour to thicken it up. You can also add some grated cheddar to mashed broccoli or cauliflower to thicken it – it will also nicely toast in the oven.

I also recommend using wild salmon than farmed. The same as for example large chicken farms, due to the high density of fish in aquaculture, farmed fish is generally more susceptible to infections and disease than wild fish. To counter this problem, antibiotics are frequently added to fish feed. As you can imagine this has an impact on the human body. Overuse of antibiotics promotes antibiotic resistance in fish bacteria, they may increase the risk of antibiotic resistance in your gut. Wild salmon though is a good source of healthy fat and Omega 3 (source).

The recipe is not an exact copy of Jamie’s recipe, I modified it slightly to suit my needs. You can also modify it by adding a different fish instead of salmon – the way you like it. As for peas – canned will not give such a nice green color, so it’s better to stock up on frozen. I think it looks inviting.

salmon pie inspired by Jamie Oliver

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400g wild salmon
  • 400g frozen green peas
  • 1 kg potatoes
  • slice of butter
  • 3 small carrots
  • 3 small onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500ml milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • piece of mature cheddar
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • natural rock salt
  • coarse pepper

KETO OPTION SWAPS: instead of green peas and potatoes use broccoli or cauliflower (or mix) – the best fresh not frozen, instead of milk and flour use can of coconut milk. Use milk from the fridge – coconut will separate – water will stay on the bottom, thick part will stay on top. Use only thick part.

DIRECTIONS

Peel the potatoes, cut into smaller pieces and cook until soft in salted water. Boil some water add green peas, set aside for a few minutes, then strain and mash them using blender. When potatoes are cooked, drain them and mash until smooth, add butter and mashed peas. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you use broccoli or/and cauliflower I recommend to use fresh veggies and steam them, so they won’t be watery. Mash them using blender, add slice of butter.

Peel, wash and cut carrots into thin slices, and onion lengthwise into thin slices. Chop finely garlic cloves. Heat the pan adding 2 tbsp olive oil, first fry the onions and carrots so that they soften slightly and the onions become golden. At the end of frying, add garlic, salt and fry for another 30 seconds.

In a separate pot, boil the milk with bay leaves and put the salmon fillets into the hot one. Simmer for 5-8 minutes on low heat.

For keto option heat coconut milk and add salmon, simmer for couple minutes – coconut milk will reduce slightly, will be thick enough so you won’t need to thicken it with flour.

Remove gently your salmon from the milk and set aside. Minimize the gas under the milk. Whisk flour with a little bit of cold water so you won’t get lumps and add couple teaspoons of hot milk, then add to milk in the pot. Stir thoroughly. When the sauce is thick and smooth, add mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste, and finally grated yellow cheese. Simmer for a moment to melt the cheese and all the ingredients combines.

Heat the oven to 200ºC. Place the carrots and onions in an ovenproof dish or baking tin. Split salmon into smaller pieces. Pour the sauce over it. On top, spread the mashed potato and peas (or broccoli/cauliflower) and use a spoon to make a pattern. Bake 30-40 minutes (depending of the oven). I recommend putting something under the form if it’s not very high like mine – a larger form or baking tray, because when baking a bit of sauce may flow outside, as you can see on my photos.

Enjoy!

creamy cauliflower & cheddar soup

Why I’m having coffee with my cauliflower and cheddar soup? I don’t know. It’s an old photo, but I think it was the time I bought this nice cup, and I just wanted to include it cause it’s pretty. But I like the photo, reminds me our old flat and these gloomy days I was spending in this kitchen testing Scottish food 🙂

Cauliflower and cheddar soup it’s a total classic, I guess everyone has own way to make it. But if you’ve never tried to make it by yourself, you can try this recipe.

I highly recommend using a homemade stock or broth to make this soup, because it will have a lot more flavour and will be much more nutritious, than if you make it using stock cubes or granules. You can make a giant pot of stock/broth, freeze it in smaller containers and use it as a base for the soups or sauces. It’s a great idea if you like more healthy, really nutritious soups, but you don’t have time to prepare the stock each time. For this soup you can use veggie, chicken or beef stock/broth – depending of your preferences, although beef broth is more intensive and may overwhelm the flavour a bit.

creamy cauliflower & cheddar soup 

NOTE: my measuring cup is regular 250ml glass

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 1 kg cauliflower (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 small onion
  • about 1 l of stock/broth (veggie, chicken, beef bone)
  • 1 cup grated mature (mature is the best) cheddar
  • good slice of butter
  • good pinch of lemon pepper (or coarse pepper)
  • natural rock salt to taste
  • bit of sesame oil for decoration
  • optionally: 2-3 tbsp spreadable cheddar
  • option no 2: sprinkle with chopped and fried streaky bacon

DIRECTIONS

Chop the onion, if you use fresh cauliflower rinse it divide in small pieces. In a medium size pot melt the butter and add chopped onion. Fry couple of minutes until it starts caramelizing and becomes golden-brown.

Then add your cauliflower and pour stock/broth. If you use unsalted broth or stock, add some salt in this step. If your stock/broth is already salty, wait until the end of cooking. Cover pot with lid and leave it to simmer until cauliflower will be cooked.

When cauliflower is ready blend it for a cream (be careful not to splash yourself with hot soup), and put the pot back on the heat. Add grated cheddar, lemon pepper, and bring to boil. Optionally you can add 2-3 tbsp of spreadable cheddar cheese to make the flavour even stronger.

Taste the best on the next day or at least couple hours later. But obviously you can eat it straight away, drizzled with a bit of sesame oil or sprinkled with pieces of crispy fried bacon.

Enjoy!

beef shin (shank) stew (or soup)

It’s fairly warm, summer season is almost here, but here in Scotland we still have some days with wind blowing like crazy and temperatures that you wouldn’t like to see in summer time (like today – it shows 10ºC). On the days like this you might need something warming and cheering for dinner, and this beef shin stew or soup if you wish, is a perfect idea.

I like choosing beef shin meat for my stews, because it contains some gristle and connective tissue and it’s not as dry ans other beef meat. Beef shin when cooked long and slow the gristle will turn into jelly which gives it the wonderful rich beef flavour. It’s a great idea for slow cooker meal – I’ve added instructions at the end of the recipe. If you add keto appropriate veggies and you skip thickening the sauce with flour, you’ll get perfect keto soup.

Another good thing is that because of the long cooking time required (sometimes seen as undesirable) beef shin is quite cheap, so you can make rich, nutritious meal for reasonable price.

Beef shin is rich in Vitamin B12, B6, B3, Zinc, Phosphorus and Omega 3 ALA.

If you like meat but you’ve never tried beef shin stew, I highly recommend this. You can also try another great beef shin recipe on my blog.

beef shin stew

 

beef shin (shank) stew (or soup)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg beef shin (shank)
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 350g veggies (I’ve used leftovers of frozen mix of green beans, carrots, sweetcorn and garden peas)
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp coarse pepper
  • natural rock salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp goose fat or other fat
  • optionally: 2-3 tsp flour to thicken the sauce

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot (I like using non stick pot – it’s great for stews) heat 1 tbsp of fat of your choice. Cut shin in small chunks and add to the pot. Fry for couple minutes on a high heat, stirring occasionally, until meat will get brown. Don’t skip this step – browning the meat will give a lot of flavour to the dish and colour to the sauce.

While the meat is browning, chop the onion and garlic. If you use other fresh veggies chop them as well. Rinse the mushrooms or peel the skin (I always peel the skin), slice in halfs or quarters, depending of the size.

When the meat is browned add onion, and slightly lower the heat, co it’s not going to burn. Fry with onion for another 3-4 minutes.

Next add all the spices: salt, coarse pepper, sweet paprika, bay leaves and garlic. Stir, so the spices covers all the chunks of meat. Now pour the water, not too much just to cover the meat. Cover pot with lid and simmer until the meat is tender – about 90 minutes – depending of the size of your chunks.

When meat is almost ready add mushrooms and veggies. I’ve used frozen veggies, so it took me only couple of minutes to cook them. but if you use other kind of veggies you will need to adjust the cooking time.

Last step is optional, depending of your diet and preferences. You can thicken the sauce with 2-3 tsp of flour (in a small cup mix the flour with a little bit of water, add 1-2 tsp of hot sauce from the pot to heat it slightly, then add to the pot and stir thoroughly) or leave it as it is. I recommend thickening the sauce if you want to serve it with mashed potatoes or dumplings. If you leave it as it is it will be kind of thick soup – great as keto option.

Serve hot with addition of your choice or as a thick soup. You can also freeze it for later.

DIRECTIONS FOR SLOW COOKER

Almost exactly the same as for regular cooking. I recommend not skipping the first step because it gives a lot of this great flavour. After adding all the spices, move the meat to a slow cooker, add water to cover the meat, and cook 7-8 hours on “low” or 5-6 hours on “high”. If you add small size frozen veggies add them in the last hour of cooking (but defrost them first!), if you want to add fresh veggies add them at the beginning of cooking or somewhere in the middle of cooking time. If you want to thicken the sauce, do it at the end.

beef stew

 

 

transylvanian stew

It’s again one of my old recipes, which actually is pretty #keto. It’s also #nodairy friendly and #slowcooker friendly. It’s in fact everyones friendly 😉

If you’re still not convinced to sauerkraut, maybe this dish will prove you, that sauerkraut it’s not only healthy, but also tasty.

Find good quality pork and good sauerkraut (don’t buy these ones in a plastic bags – acid from the cabbage goes in reaction with plastic, choose glass jars instead). We have three options of this stew – with flour and sour cream for those of you who doesn’t have any restrictions, with coconut flour and sour cream for the keto lovers, and no dairy version (coconut milk instead) for the rest 🙂 It’s also a great meal to prepare in slow cooker. I cooked both options, both went great. It’s a great one pot dinner to make in a slow cooker if you don’t have time to spend in the kitchen. Directions for the slow cooker version are below as well.

Oh, and why it’s Transylvanian? I have this recipe for many years now, and it’s actually coming from Székely Land in Romania. Székelys were Hungarians living in Romania (and Transylvania) from the 15th century, and this kind of stew was their traditional meal.

So, what do you think, are you going to try some Transylvania?

 

transylvanian keto stew

 

transylvanian stew

INGREDIENTS (for 2 portions and quite a lot of leftovers)

· 500 g pork shoulder
· 500 g sauerkraut
· 2-3 onions
· 1 tbsp fat (goose fat, pork fat or olive oil)
· 150-200 ml sour cream (or coconut milk for #nodairy – 1 used 1 can of coconut milk)
· 2 garlic cloves
· ½ tsp caraway seeds (only if you like it, I don’t so don’t add)
· ½ tbsp flour (coconut flour for #keto version)
· ½ tsp sweet pepper
· natural rock salt and coarse pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Wash the meat, cut off all the unwanted pieces (fat or vains), then cut in cubes. Chop onions, squeeze sauerkraut from the juice. If it’s very sour rinse it thoroughly under running water and then squeeze. Chop it slightly, so it will be easier to eat.

Heat 1 tbsp of fat in a non-stick (would be the best) deep pan or pot. Fry meat on a high heat, add onions and fry until gets golden. Next pour some water – just to cover the meat, add some salt, pepper, sweet pepper, cover with lid and boil slowly until meat will be tender (about an hour). Next add caraway seeds (I skip this step) and chopped garlic.

Next step is to add sauerkraut. Add some water if needed (it shouldn’t be watery though, we will add some other liquid soon) cover with lid and simmer for another 30-40 minutes, until sauerkraut will be ready. Stir from time to time so the flavours will combine.

At the end add sour cream (or coconut milk), thicken with bit of flour (or coconut flour) if it’s too liquid.

Serve hot by itself or with addition of your choice depending of your likes (bread, potatoes etc.). It taste great on the next day when all the flavours go through.

DIRECTIONS FOR SLOW COOKER

Prepare all the ingredients as above. After frying meat with onions, transfer to slow cooker, add the rest of spices and squeezed and chopped sauerkraut. You can also skip the step of frying the meat, but frying gives more flavour.

Add 1/2 glass of water if you use sour cream, no water if you use coconut milk (if you add full can, should be enough liquid). Stir everything thoroughly, cover with lid and cook 7-8 hours on “low” or 5-6 hours on “high”.

After two hours of cooking, stir thoroughly again, if possible. Check also if it needs some water, it might or might not, depending of how much liquid you’ve squeezed from sauerkraut, and how much water will give the meat. if you need to add some flour to thicken the sauce do it at the end. I don’t add any when slower cooking with coconut milk.

Enjoy!

transylvanian stew

tandoori chicken #keto #lowcarb

I’m not gonna lie, that it’s hard to get bored on our extreme keto diet. At least once a week we have a crisis, and we discuss how hard it’s getting and what we would love to eat. So after almost six months of keto, my appreciation for spices grows to the sky. I use plenty of herbs I’ve never used before, look for new seasonings I haven’t try, and go for the ones I’ve tried long time ago, and forgot about them. One of them is fantastic tandoori seasoning. I love it on crispy chicken skin. Smells and taste delicious.

I also like my everyday cooking to be simple and easy, more complicated and time consuming meals I leave for the weekends, or days when I have more time to enjoy it. And this chicken is one of my go to quick and easy recipes. Instead of drumsticks, you can also use chicken thighs, the best with skin if you’re on low carb high fat diet.

When we started keto, we’ve decided to buy better quality meat. If the meat is your main fuel it’s good to be from a good source. So we’ve found a good butcher and we try to buy all the meat there. You never can be sure about the quality, but at least you know it’s local and fresh. Meat from the supermarket needs a lot more time to be delivered to a customer, and has a longer shelf life, so we can suppose that it contains lot more preservatives.

If you eat dairy, mix natural yogurt with tandoori seasoning. Because we cannot use any dairy, I’ve used coconut yogurt. Try to find the ones with no added sugar and short list of ingredients. I try not to use coconut yogurt, because most of them, or at least the one I have found, contains also corn flour and potato starch, that are no go on our diet. But this particular recipe based it’s marinate on yogurt, so I decided to use the coconut version.

You can serve it with side salad of your choice. Because chicken is quite lean meat, remember to balance the fats with adding avocado, boiled egg, bacon or some extra olive oil to your salad. You can also sprinkle it with pumpkin or sunflower seeds, they are full of healthy fats.

 

tandoori chicken #keto #lowcarb

INGREDIENTS:

· 8 chicken drumsticks with skin
· 3-4 tbsp olive oil
· 120 ml coconut joghurt (kefir or buttermilk if you eat dairy)
· 1/2 tsp garlic granules
· 3 tsp tandoori seasoning
· 1/3 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Mix coconut joghurt, olive oil, garlic granules, salt and tandoori seasoning in a big container with a lid (big enough to fit all the drumsticks). You can make some cuts on the chicken skin like I did, but it’s not necessary. Put them to your marinate, stir so all meat will be covered by marinate, and keep in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours. Give it some time, chicken will absorb all the flavour from spices. Don’t skip this part and you’ll get tender and aromatic meat.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Move your chicken to a baking dish, pouring on the leftovers of marinate. Bake until it’s tender and nicely brown. It takes me around 40 minutes with the fan on, but it depends of the oven, so keep an eye on your chicken. Sometimes I use grill option for last few minutes of baking if I want it to be extra crispy.

Enjoy the flavour and crispy skin, and don’t hesitate to lick the fingers 😉