(Almost) Vegan Truffles

Okay, let’s get the ‘almost’ bit out of the way to begin with. These would be entirely vegan if you used vegan chocolate. Simples. I tried to find Ghiradelli’s semi-sweet choc chips and Lindt’s 70% dark choc (both of which are vegan friendly) but to no avail:( I settled for Ghiradelli’s 60% Bittersweet that does contain some milkfat but hey, I’m not completely vegan (yet!) and tentatively putting my toe in the vegetarian world, so for now this will suffice.

Vegan? Vegetarian? What on earth am I talking about? Let me clarify. PeaSoup is transitioning from meat-eater to vegetarian and possibly even vegan. Yes, really. Now, I don’t want anyone to panic and decide to never cook any of my recipes ever again just because they will contain little or no animal products because right here, right now, you have my personal guarantee that I will only ever post the ultimate in delicious meat-free dishes. C’mon, it’s me! I LOVE FOOD! Nothing has really changed apart from the fact that my green journey has led me to a place where I feel it is no longer appropriate for me to eat meat. It’s a personal decision and don’t let any veggie tell you it’s not.

Nor should anyone make another person feel bad about they eat. I’ve been a meat eater my entire life. I stand by what I said a few posts back – I love the taste, texture and variety of meat. Yes, I still believe that comparing eating a chicken breast to that of eating human flesh is ridiculous and no, I wouldn’t eat my dog (although I have been known to grab him and say ‘you’re just so cute I could eat you up’!) but I have happily chowed down on a bloody, practically still mooing beef burger. Despite this, giving up meat is proving to be surprisingly easy – granted I am at the very beginning of my journey – but over the past two months our meat intake has been halved, quartered and now eliminated entirely.

This is very exciting for me because a whole new culinary world has opened up before me. You would not and will not believe some of the recipes I have in store for you guys – I almost cannot contain myself! I’ve now got a backlog of delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes just waiting to be unleashed onto this little blog and hopefully into your kitchens. I can’t say I’m not worried that my readership might initially dwindle so I’m pleading with you to stay with me a little while longer just until you try some of this magnificent food before making your mind up.

Let’s start with something sweet – I think it’s for the best way really; sugaring the pill, if you will;) This practically isn’t even a recipe. It could not be simpler but also could not be more divine. The proof being that when I fed them to my husband’s colleague he just about popped with enthusiasm. I myself was pretty pleased with them although I cannot take all the credit, as they’ve been doin’ the rounds on the vegan blogs for a while now. Here’s where I could trace them back to:

http://chowvegan.com/2010/04/07/dreamy-nut-bars/#comments

http://dreaminitvegan.blogspot.com/2010/03/going-primalnew-foundation-and-raw.html

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/chocolate-covered-recipes/fudge-baby-mania/

Raw foodies don’t despair because if you leave off the chocolate these little morsels are just as heavenly.

So, there you have it (I believe I used this very conclusion in my first ever post on…….beef stroganoff! How ironic, huh?) my foray into the world of veg has officially begun. I hope you stay with me for the duration, as I have a feeling it’s going to be an interesting ride! xx

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pecans or raw almonds

1/2 cup medjool dates

1/4 cup shredded coconut

a few drops vanilla essence (nb. not flavouring)

1/2 bar Ghiradelli’s 60% Dark Choc – or any chocolate to your liking.

Put all the ingredients apart from the chocolate into a food processor or small hand blender.

Blitz until all the ingredients come together. Empty contents into a bowl. Prepare/line a baking tray. Roll six medium sized balls from the mixture and place in the fridge to set.

Melt the chocolate – I prefer the double broiler method. Boil some water in a pan and then reduce the heat right down. Place a bowl on top of the pan  ensuring that it is not touching the water. The steam will do the work. Break the chocolate into the bowl and melt slowly not allowing any steam to meet the choc, as it will seize up and not be lovely and glossy.

Take out the truffles and roll each of them in the chocolate. I use a fork to scoop them out. When they are all coated put them back in the fridge to set for several hours. You can keep these in the freezer, fridge or in an airtight container in a very cool place – it is chocolate after all:)

I recommend eating two, one after the other! Pure greed but lush:)

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Nigella’s Butterscotch and Banana Muffins

I really try to avoid other people’s recipes and in particular recipes belonging to well known cooks such as Nigella. So, I’m kinda breaking my own rules here but once you’ve tasted these little beauties you’ll realise why! These muffins are soooo moist and are the perfect sweetness, which might be a bad thing because it means you’ll definitely want more than one.

You might also be saying to yourself, “Gosh but you do use a lot of butterscotch chips in your baking” and I would have to agree. One reason is because I have a rather large amount of them in my cupboard that need using up before we leave Chicago and I refuse to waste any ingredients. The other reason is because they taste INCREDIBLE! Healthy? Perhaps not but I think a treat now and then never hurt anybody. Just make sure the ones you buy don’t contain High Fructose Corn Syrup because that’ll just change these from mildy sinful to just ridiculously bad.

It would be pretty simple to make these a little healthier by replacing the oil with apple sauce – this is a recent discovery of mine and I think the next time I make these I’m going to use this substitute. For now though the oil does certainly make for a mega moist muffin, as does the mashed banana, which just subtly permeates rather than overwhelming the taste. As I’ve mentioned before it can be difficult to get hold of butterscotch chips in the UK so white, milk or dark chocolate chips will be just as nice I’m sure. I have checked the usual websites such as American Sweets and Cyber Candy with no luck but keep trying, they might come back in stock.

Yep, these are good. That’s it.

Oooh wait, check out my amazing dinosaur muffin cases that I bought in Wholefoods – cute or what?

Oooh, hang on, check this out too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-HNM5_oM0k

Ok, that’s definitely it.

Ingredients:

2 large ripe bananas

125ml oil (I used canola but vegetable would be fine too)

2 eggs

250g flour

100g organic cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

150g butterscotch(or chocolate)morsels

Pre-heat the oven to 390 degress farhenheit/200 degrees celsius. Line your muffin tin with muffin cases (mine have dinosaurs on them!!).

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, bicarb, baking soda and sugar.

Mash the banana and set aside.

Measure the oil into a jug and crack in two eggs. Mix thoroughly –  I whisk it. Empty into large bowl along with the mashed bananas. Thoroughly mix with a spatula.

Fold in the butterscotch morsels. Try not to over work the batter as they will loose their lightness.

Using two dessert spoons fill each case – not to brim though. Bake for 20mins and then cool on a rack. They keep well in an airtight container for a couple of days.

Makes 12 decent size muffins.

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Spicy Miso

One of our favourite haunts in Chicago is Coast Sushi Bar. Even if you don’t like raw fish I can absolutely guarantee you’ll find something to rave about here. They have a sweet potato tempura maki roll that is to die for and being fish eaters ourselves we adore the white dragon: not made of dragon I hasten to add;) But the one dish that I cannot get enough of is their unbelievable spicy miso. I’m a total soup nut anyway so I was always going to like it. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the cravings. I would find myself daydreaming about this wondrous concoction that as my hubbie quite rightly put it “soothes like a cup of tea”.

If you have a pot of this on the go, you are on a fast track to instant calm. It got to the point where I couldn’t simply wait until our next Coast visit. I needed to have access to an immediate Spicy Miso fix, so I purchased some miso paste, threw all the decipherable (I could’ve asked for their recipe but it’s more fun this way!) ingredients into a pot and literally hoped for the best and the best did indeed transpire. Okay, it’s not exactly like the one in Coast but it sure as hell isn’t far off – hubbie emphatically concurs.

In keeping with my search for Zen, I am well on my way with this little gem. I urge you to join me and raise a cup buddha stylee, chanting with a contented “yummmmmmmm”!

Ingredients:

2 heaped tablespoons miso paste

150g firm tofu

2 spring onions

1/2 jalapeno pepper

salt

Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan.

Finely slice the spring onions and jalapenos. Add to pan for a few minutes – do not allow to colour!

Dice tofu into small pieces. Add to pan, season with salt and cook for a minute or two.

Stir in miso paste. Add a full kettle of boiling water. Turn heat down – don’t let it boil. Encourage the paste to dissolve by frequently stirring. Taste and season.

When it is drinking temperature (pretty much the temp of a nice cup of tea) serve in small bowls and I recommend a using a proper asian soup spoon.

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Pancetta, pea and broad bean risotto

Risotto can be tricky. What perhaps makes it tricky is the fact that you pretty much have to stand over the stove from start to finish, which might sound tedious but in fact can be soothing and ultimately all encompassingly delicious.

In truth, it’s a balancing act. You don’t want to overcook the rice but at the same time undercooked rice is pretty vile. Al dente might be one of the most overused phrases in cooking at present but unfortunately I have no description at my disposal that can better explain the desired texture. It’ll probably be trial and error the first few times you cook it and your own personal taste also comes into it. I also hate any risotto that resembles or tastes like rice pudding – bleugh! My preference is not to use cream and instead get that velvety loveliness often associated with a good risotto through a different measure, namely: air!

I love Anthony Bourdain’s programme No Reservations:http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Anthony_Bourdain?fbid=uew4kIkZ3BL . He, of course, is the main attraction but the food and countries featured never fail to expand my cooking horizons. It was whilst watching the Venice edition of No Reservations, which focused on a restaurant that apparently makes thee best risotto in the world, that I discovered a fantastic risotto tip! Now, I can’t confirm the ‘best risotto in the world’ claim having not actually eaten at this establishment myself, however, it certainly looked impressive from where I was sitting. No Reservations isn’t exactly a cookery programme although if you pay enough attention there are some amazing tips, techniques and insights to be had. So, when I witnessed that Venetian chef flipping the risotto in the air a lightbulb went off in my head and ever since my risottos have been creamier than ever without having to compromise my waistline;)

I’m not brave enough and my wrist action isn’t adept enough to truly flip that risotto, so I have to rely on my wooden spoon. It’s almost a folding action I have adopted but the main objective is to keep it moving. Try not to leave it unattended for too long. Of course, the parmesan is essential but in my opinion butter is entirely optional. I think it’s important not to compromise taste at the expense of calories and I’m totally against substitutes – let it be known that ‘low fat’ is nonsense – yet if you want to enjoy good food every day of the week it’s not a great idea if it’s laden with fat. Again, it’s a balancing act, and so we finish where we began.

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 courgette

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen broad beans

150g pancetta

1 cup arborio rice

2/3 large cloves garlic

chicken/vegetable stock cube

large handful grated parmesan

salt and pepper

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the stock cube. Once it boils bring the temperature back down to barely a simmer.

Heat a tablespoon of oil and a knob of butter in a frying pan/skillet. Finely dice the onion and add to the pan. Season and allow to sweat for several minutes. Add garlic and cook very gently for another few minutes. Add pancetta and fry until throughly cooked before adding courgette.

Whilst the ingredients are cooking in the pan boil a kettle. In two separate bowls add the peas and broad beans. Pour boiling water over the veg until it is no longer frozen. Drain the broad beans and take the skins off each one – a little time consuming but believe me it’ll be worth it!

Add rice to pan and allow to cook in the oil and juices, ensuring every grain is coated. After a few minutes ladel on some stock. The stock should just cover the ingredients. Remember to get as much air in as you can through continuous stirring/flipping (however brave you are!). You could lightly lift it as you stir to achieve this effect. When the liquid has been soaked ladel on some more and repeat until the rice is almost cooked.

At this stage add the peas and broad beans – these just need warmed through. One more ladel of stock should do it but you will be the best judge of this. Taste and season throughout.

At the very end toss in the parmesan and stir through. Leave a little aside for sprinkling on top.

Season and serve:)

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Lime Bites

These little bites are just delightful. Yes they are:)

I’m always looking to find new and interesting ways to use up ingredients and this week I had a half can of condensed milk left over from those Eggless Cookies, which were also delightful. So, whilst we’re talking about delightful things I should probably mention that I think it is most delightful to take along some homebaked goodies when attending any kind of party. Sometimes when this happens, however, it means you are in a hurry and end up not taking a photo of the final product, which is exactly what happened here. I managed to photograph the whole process and then rushed out the door without snapping the bites all snug in their little container:(

This is an unusual dessert – crumbly, chewy, salty, sweet. In truth there’s nothing I can really compare it to because it is unlike any dessert I’ve made or eaten. Maybe I’m bigging them up too much but I can’t help get excited when I discover a completely original recipe like this one. I’m not saying it’s going to blow your mind or anything but it might make you raise an eyebrow.

The recipients of these delightful little morsels were most grateful and they were eaten in a flash with many compliments – these are the kind of people I like to feed;)

That’s it. Short and most definitely sweet!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 organic cane sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup flax seed meal

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup condensed milk

zest and juice of 4 small limes

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and flax seed meal and mix until a fine crumble is formed.

Line and grease a small tray. Pour half the crumble mixture into the tray, spread evenly and press down firmly.

Zest the limes and along with the juice stir into the condensed milk until it becomes a smooth, pourable sauce.

Pour onto the crumble and using the back of a spoon spread to the edges.

Sprinkle on the remainder of the crumble and press down lightly but not so much that it disturbs the sauce.

Bake for 30mins. Leave it to cool and then put it in the fridge – these are definitely best served cold. They also keep really well in the freezer.

Cut into small bitesize pieces.

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Chickpea and Tofu Curry

As some of you may know I’m on what I have dubbed my ‘eco-journey’. A part of me is a little self-conscious about it all and another part of me is busting to spread the word. I do find myself battling with various questions (which I’ll spare you from just now!) – I always try to play devils advocate even with myself, which I hope doesn’t sound too weird or off-putting. The last thing I want to do is preach to other people how they should be living their lives – not my place and most certainly not my intention.

I cannot tell you how good it feels though to know that in my own little way I’m (hopefully) helping to preserve this incredible place we all call home: Earth. Totally, way out, corny, right? See why I’m a bit self-conscious about it all? My instinct is to be completely cynical about the whole thing because it’s my natural inclination towards life in general. Okay, so where am I going with all this? In truth, I’m not sure. This is the beginning of my journey so everyday I’m learning something new.

Let’s start with meat, seeing as this change in me transpired after I became concerned about the meat we were consuming and where it came from. It came as a shock to learn that most beef in the US is corn fed – not good. We all know where those cheap ‘2 for a fiver’ chickens come from – again, not good. It occured to me that maybe eating meat 5 or 6 nights a week was not particularly great either because a) our bodies don’t actually need it and b) if everyone was eating that much meat that’s a hell of a lot meat, which means a hell of a lot of animals, all being fed terrible stuff and living in pretty poor conditions. Not g……you get the message:)

We went organic. Problem solved? Not exactly. I still didn’t feel right about eating all that meat but I don’t want to be a vegetarian and I love dairy way too much to turn vegan. That way of life is not for me, no siree! I don’t buy into the whole “well you wouldn’t eat your dog” way of thinking and I think it’s ludicrous to say eating a chicken breast is tantamount to cannibalism. I need to find a happy medium and I want to be upfront and honest about the whole thing – I like to eat meat. I like the taste, the texture, the variety and I don’t want to feel bad about it.

Here’s what I do think. I think there are way too many animals being bred for meat. I truly believe if people reduced their meat intake by say half, there would be a lesser demand for cheap meat. This would have a knock on effect and hopefully the result would be better bred, better fed, better treated animals. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.

Apologies in advance for the upcoming corny statement.

It really does take only one person to make a difference. Maybe the next time you write up your weekly menu you could swap even one meal for a dish of the meatless sort. This chickpea and tofu curry is the perfect mid-week meal that both satisfies mind, body and soul. Peace out;)

Ingredients:

1 large onion

2 carrots

1 can chickpeas

200g firm tofu

2 handfuls chopped spinach

1 garlic clove

2 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp mild curry powder

handful fresh coriander

1 tablespoon miso paste

salt and pepper

to serve:

jasmine thai rice

1 star anise

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Finely dice the onion and carrot and add to pan. Season, stir and cover. When they have softened a little add the crushed garlic clove, cumin and curry powder. Mix thoroughly, cover and leave to cook for a further 10mins on a medium-low heat.

Drain chickpeas and rinse. Cube tofu. Chop coriander. Add everything to the pan and stir carefully but thoroughly to ensure the ingredients are coated with the spices. Season. Pour in enough water to just cover the ingredients. Cover and leave to simmer gently for 10-15mins. Normally I would add fresh herbs at the end but trust me on this one, add the chopped coriander now, you can always add more when serving if you wish.

Measure out rice. One cup is plenty for two people. I like to pop a star anise in to make it even more fragrant. My method is easy: one part rice to two parts water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10-12mins until all the water has been absorbed. Or better still, get a rice cooker!

In a small bowl or cup mix the miso paste with some of the cooking liquid from the pan. Then add the miso to the curry. If you want a thicker sauce do the same with some flour.

Chop spinach and wash thoroughly. Add to pan and season. Allow the leaves to wilt before serving.

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Eggless Butterscotch Cookies

Let it be noted: I am not a quitter. I think I was brought up on the saying that if you fail, you try, try again. And try I do. So, when my wholewheat bread making was a complete flop I did not wallow for too long. Just a day. Well, failing is exhausting you know! Despite my optimism my second bread making attempt in a week also sucked. Big time. I soaked that (expletive)yeast and yet I had another disaster on my hands. Did I give up? Hell no! I might’ve thrown the flat sorry excuse for a loaf in the bin with all the force I had left in me but I did not give up.

This time (that’s the third attempt in case you’ve lost count) I decided to revert back to my old method of adding the yeast to the dry ingredients and whaddya know, it worked! Don’t ask me how or why because to be perfectly honest I haven’t the foggiest notion. All I care about is that I am now the proud owner of a half eaten loaf of amazingly gorgeous wholewheatness. I’ve clearly gone mad so lets bring it back to baking.

In the midst of all this breadmaking chaos I had to bake something lovely to bring a smile back to my rather forlorn face. Problem number one was that I had no eggs in the house and turning green (metaphorically, but I know it made you giggle) prevented me from going to the corner shop to buy the awful caged hen eggs they sell. I could not have been bothered to traipse all the way to Olivia’s organic market so I had to come up with a better solution. One that didn’t involve eggs. It was then that I chanced (I blatantly just googled it) upon an entire eggless baking site: http://www.egglesscooking.com/ The slogan is priceless – ‘Eggless……yet tasty!’. Initially, I thought it was for vegans and heaven knows I’ve eaten some pretty rank vegan desserts in my time, so I was not entirely convinced. I was wrong, totally not vegan (thank goodness says you) – the inclusion of condensed milk was the giveaway! And…….I just happened to have a can of condensed milk in the cupboard that has been begging to be used for weeks. Bingo!

To say I was impressed with these cookies would be an understatement and I believe everyone else I fed them to (namely my Hubbie and his colleagues) would concur. They totally and utterly rocked in only the way a crunchy on the outside, soft on the in, cookie can. Obviously I’ve amended the recipe to suit because I can’t leave anything alone. I know it can be difficult to find butterscotch chips in the UK so any kind of chip will suffice but the pecans are compulsory, y’hear? Okay, okay, if you’re allergic I’ll let you off but texturely the pecans really do work although try not to chop them too small.

What can I say? At the end of my little baking blitz I sat back and admired my beautiful bread and pretty cookies and it felt good. Nothing can beat the satisfaction you feel after you’ve had a winning day in the kitchen. Here’s to triumph over aversity (a tad melodramatic but what do you expect, I am an actor darlings!).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup, 150g softened butter

1/2 cup, 100g organic cane sugar

2 cups flour, 260g organic unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup, 100g butterscotch chips (or whatever chips you like)

large handful roughly chopped pecans

for the icing:

icing sugar

organic soy milk

(makes 14 large cookies)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (180C).

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. I like to use a spatula but you may want to use an electric whisk. Next, beat in the condensed milk.

Combine the flour and baking powder – you can sift if you like but I find it makes very little difference. Then stir into the butter mixture along with the chips and nuts. If it is looking a little dry add some soy milk. I just added a drop or two until I got the consistency I was seeking: you want it fairly firm but not so dry it’ll crumble but equally not so wet that it will not hold its shape.

Line and grease a baking tray. Take a tablespoonful of cookie dough and roll into a ball. Place onto the tray and using the back of a spoon gently flatten – you can use your fingers too. Also, oiling the back of the spoon will make it easier to spread. Don’t flatten them too much as they will spread out further in the oven.

Bake for 15mins. I would err on the side of caution and undercook them – they will harden whilst cooling anyway. Be careful when lifting them off the tray as they will be a little delicate. Place on a cooling rack for up to 20mins before icing.

Combine a few tablespoons of icing sugar with a few drops of soy milk – this is a bit trial and error so add a small amount to begin with. Mix thoroughly until you get a thickish consistency. Hold the spoon at a height and drizzle onto the cookies. Allow to dry and then share and eat:)

For prosperity;)

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Wholewheat Bread – epic fail!

When I first started this blog I made a promise that I would share my failures as well as my successes. Up until now there hasn’t been anything really to report in the failure stakes because, well, everything I cook turns out pretty much as I’d hoped. So, maybe you could say I’ve become either complacent or cocky and when this happens failure is just around the corner.

It was all going so well. The dough was behaving and as I left it to rise in an oiled bowl loosely covered with a teatowel (a rather fancy teatowel too) things were going to plan. When I returned an hour later it had puffed up nicely and was beautifully springy to the touch. I was feeling fairly smug as I transferred the dough to the tin it would be baked in. Left it again to further rise for another 30mins. But when I returned this time it was looking distinctly flat and had as much give as a rock. Perplexed I thought it would be fine once I popped it in the already pre-heated oven. In it went and my fingers I crossed. To no avail. As I watched it from outside the oven door I willed it to rise but that bread would just not budge. Not an inch. Not at all!

I was so furious with the damn thing I almost threw it out the window but a hungry husband urged me not to. So I sliced and buttered it, served it with some soup and pretended to myself it was perfectly edible – kinda like a denser wheaten bread. Who am I kidding – epic fail alert!!! I was too angry to take a photo – this abomination did not deserve to be documented. If no photographic evidence exists, it didn’t really happen, right?

I wracked my brains, as to what could’ve gone wrong. I read the recipe a dozen times and still could not fathom where I had messed up. Then it came to me. I’d purchased a different yeast a few days before (in Wholefoods no less) so I promptly examined the back of the packet. Aha! There it was in black and white: dissolve the yeast in warm water before adding it to recipe. I curse you silly ‘dissolve before use’ yeast. This is the 21st century. I don’t have time to be dissolving yeast for goodness sake. Suffice to say I will not be buying this yeast again – too bad I have two more packets in my cupboard, grrrr:(

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Honey Lemon Chicken and Rosti

French women don’t get fat. Apparently. I will admit to forever feeling inadequate when in France, especially in such glamorous places as Paris or Nice.

I had a rather embarrassing experience in Nice, in fact, which makes me seriously cringe everytime I think about it. There was me, a pale Irish girl in her vintage bikini (only cool in Camden by the way) casually going for a dip in the mediteranean sea. Aware that I was surrounded by impossibly lithe and gorgeous French women it was probably obvious that I was more than a little self conscious.

Anyhoo, that didn’t stop me from rather tentitively entering the water when at the very same moment a rather forcesome wave took me by surprise and dragged me into the water like a ragdoll. And they just kept comin’. Wave after wave after wave. Yes, I was drowning but I was more concerned that my bikini top had managed to come completely off and I was free dangling all over the French riviera – nb. only foreign women can do this with style!! Most girls might be delighted that the sexy waiter from the beach restaurant would run to their rescue – I, on the other hand, was mortified. When he, along with a few other brave helpers, managed to drag me unto the shore it took me more than a few minutes to compose myself. Gasping for breath and looking like a drowned rat (a topless drowned rat no less) it took a while for me to notice the row of devastingly beautiful Frenchies laughing their asses off at my rather unfortunate endeavour into the ocean.

Where was I? Oh yeah, French Woman Don’t Get Fat! They have a little bit of everything they like. They eat for sheer enjoyment as well as nourishment. And they do it all in moderation. Kinda makes you sick, doesn’t it? But I do think I could take a leaf out of their book – quite literally – and sample one of the fantastic dishes featured in this new cookbook, which is to accompany the previous title of the same name:

http://books.simonandschuster.com/French-Women-Don’t-Get-Fat-Cookbook/Mireille-Guiliano/9781439148969

Madame Guiliano was on a morning talkshow recently cooking this very meal and it just struck a chord with me. I didn’t even need to buy the cookbook to remember the recipe because it just made food sense to me. I loved her French manner – that cocksure intimidating exuberance most of them possess – but I loved it even more that she despaired at being asked how many calories were in the dish. Throwing her hands in the air she exclaimed that they had totally missed the point. It kinda all ties in with my own new eating mantra. Remember? Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.  Well, there’s a quare few plants in this one, however, I’m not claiming it’s the healthiest recipe I’ve posted. Then again, if you’re overly concerned about the calories you are totally missing the point!

ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

handful pitted green olives

2 lemons

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp oil

3 garlic cloves

1 courgette

1 carrot

1 potato

small tub plain yoghurt

handful chopped  flat leaf parsley

2 spring onions

salt and pepper

In a dish marinate the chicken in lemon (zest one and cut both into quarters), chopped olives, honey, oil, garlic and seasoning. I squeezed the juice of one lemon over too although they will exude juice in the pan anyway. Set aside.

Finely grate the courgette, carrot and potato and squeeze all excess form the veg. I take some in my hands and press tightly over a sink although you could wrap the veg in a towel and wring out the juice this way. Place in a large bowl, season, add a little oil and mix thoroughly.

In a large skillet/frying pan, add the chicken – there should be no need to add oil to the pan first. Cook for approx 10 mins on each side – try not to move it arund the pan too much, as you want it brown nicely. Whilst it is cooking in the pan, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a tbsp of oil in a medium pan and add the veg mixture. Mould it to the shape of the pan as if making one large pancake. Cook on a medium heat for 10mins or until it begins to brown one side. Carefully flip over the rosti – I used the plate technique to be on the safe side, as it is rather large.

In a small bowl mix the yoghurt, parsley and finely chopped spring onion. Season and mix throughly. Set in fridge until needed.

Finish the chicken off in the oven for no longer than 10mins. There’s no easy way to say this but my breasts where huge so they took around 40mins to cook through but they were deliciously moist.

By the time the chicken is ready the rosti should be good to go. I like to slice my chicken breasts for serving just because it looks prettier and when you spoon over the juice the meat really soaks it up! We had half a rosti each, which sounds like a lot but it really isn’t when you think about the ingredients. A little yoghurt dressing on the side and et voila, a perfect (and easy) French dish:) Do you think if I eat enough of it I’ll get skinny?

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