Smoked trout and beetroot salad

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Last night I was at home on my own, so I was only cooking dinner for myself. When I’m only cooking for myself, I like to treat myself a little, mostly with pricier ingredients that only need a little work to make into a meal. Now that I live with L, dinner on my own is also an opportunity for something lighter. This salad fits the bill.

I only discovered recently that beetroot greens are edible, and since then I’ve been using them in place of whatever green the recipe called for in dishes involving beetroot. They work well in the salad with the strong flavours of the trout and feta. You need to wash the leaves well, as they will have quite a lot of dirt on them. If you can’t find beetroots with the leaves still attached, or if the leaves don’t look very nice, you can use baby spinach instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of beetroots or baby beets, leaves still attached
  • 1/2 a butternut pumpkin, chopped into 2-3 cm cubes
  • 1 smoked trout
  • 1/4 cup Persian fetta in olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Cut the beetroots away from the leaves, leaving about an inch of stem attached. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Cut the remaining stem off the beetroot leaves, and wash leaves well. Leave beetroot leaves to stand in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes, then drain. Spin the leaves dry and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Add pumpkin to the baking tray, drizzle with olive oil. Bake pumpkin and beetroot for another twenty minutes, or until beetroot can be easily pierced by a fork.
  5. In a salad bowl, mix together the pumpkin and beetroot leaves.
  6. Trim the root and the remaining stem from the beetroot, and remove the skin. Cut into 1-2 cm sized pieces. Add to the salad bowl with the leaves and pumpkin.
  7. Remove the skin from the smoked trout, and pull the flesh apart into flakes.
  8. Add trout and feta to the salad bowl with a little of the olive oil. Toss to combine and serve.

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What do you like to make when you’re only cooking for yourself? Do you go for something simple or something fancy? Do you use the opportunity to make something no-one else in your house likes?

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Lasagne with rocket and tomato salad

Lasagne is one of those dishes where everyone thinks their mum’s is the best. Even so, I think this one is in with a shot. It’s fantastically cheesy and rich, and the salami in the mixture gives it an incredible flavour.

I always serve lasagne with the salad below. It’s very simple, but a little bit indulgent. For the lighter version of this meal, have a small piece of the lasagne and fill up on salad – it’s good enough that I never feel like I’m missing out.

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Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 100g spicy salami, cut into squares
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 1/2 a bunch of basil, finely chopped
  • 1 packet of fresh lasagne sheets (8 sheets)
  • 50 g butter
  • 2-3 spoonfuls of plain flour
  • 1 cup of milk (approximately)
  • A handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • black pepper
  • Grated tasty cheese, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese
  1. Fry onion, carrot and garlic until carrot starts to soften. Add salami and fry for two minutes.
  2. Add beef mince and stir until fully cooked. Tip off some of the fat.
  3. Add tomatoes and basil and stir through. Simmer for ten minutes.
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan then add flour. Stir until all lumps are out, and then for another minute.
  5. Gradually add milk, stirring until the mixture thickens. Add parmesan cheese and black pepper, then stir until white sauce thickens.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  7. To assemble the lasagne, put down one layer of lasagne sheets. Cover with a third of the mince mixture and drizzle with some of the white sauce and a small amount of cheese. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Cover with lasagne sheets, then add the rest of the white sauce and generous handfuls of parmesan, mozzarella and tasty cheese.
  8. Cook for 30 minutes.

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Rocket and tomato salad

  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • A packet of rocket
  • a handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • Balsamic vinegar
  1. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and spread onto a baking try. Sprinkle with olive oil and brown sugar, and mix to combine. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes.
  2. Combine rocket, roasted tomatoes and parmesan in a salad bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss through.

How do you make your lasagne? Is including salami blasphemy? Do you use white sauce or more cheese? 

Chicken cashew curry

To use up the cashew meal, I (lightly) adapted Charmaine Solomon’s chicken curry with cashews. It wasn’t until I tasted it that I realised this was almost definitely a recipe my mother had made for us plenty of times when we were kids.
With chicken thigh, cashews and yoghurt, this is another great recipe for people who need a high fat diet. Using the thigh fillets instead of meat on the bone speeds up the cooking process – great when you’re hungry now! The yoghurt isn’t added until the end, so you can vary the amount for the high- and low-fat versions.
This is one of those dishes that’s better the next day, so make sure you save enough for lunches.

Ingredients

  • Strained cashew meal from making cashew milk (a bit less than a cup worth)
  • 60g butter
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbs finely chopped ginger
  • 3tbs curry powder
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 600g chicken thigh, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1/2 a cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • Natural yoghurt and rice, to serve
  1. Heat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread cashew meal over  the baking tray. Bake until cashew meal is dry and slightly brown. (This takes about 35 minutes, but check and stir at 10, 20, 25 and 30 minutes.)
  2. Melt butter in heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, and then fry onions, garlic and ginger and fry until onions soften (about 5 minutes). Add curry powder, cumin and cayenne and fry until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).
  3. Add chicken thigh pieces and brown on all sides.
  4. Add tomatoes, cauliflower, coriander and a cup of water, and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken cooks through and cauliflower is tender.
  5. Stir through cashew meal and season to taste.
  6. Serve with rice and yoghurt.

NB: If you haven’t just made cashew milk, you can grind a cup of roasted cashews and add these before stirring.

Almond and hazelnut choc-chip biscuits (gluten free)

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After I made three types of nut milk in a week, I ended up with a large amount of nut meal to use up. This is what I did with the almond and hazelnut meals.

These won’t rise the way a traditional choc-chip cookie will. Instead they make a thin, wafer-like, and extremely rich biscuit.

Ingredients

  • Strained hazelnut meal and almond meal from nut milks
  • Additional almond meal (if needed)
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the nut meals over the tray. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until completely dry. (I checked it and stirred a little at 10, 20 and 25 minutes, and it took about 30 minutes in total. This will depend on your oven). Turn down oven to 160C when nut meal is done.
  3. Beat butter and sugar until it is soft and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence
  4.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups of nut meal. If necessary, top up with additional almond meal. Add the nut meal, baking powder and chocolate chips to the butter mixture and fold through.
  5. Place teaspoons of mixture on a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Remove when they are brown but still soft and allow to cool. The biscuits will harden as they cool.

I’ll post a recipe to use up the cashew meal on Friday.

Nut milk

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Recently, L was on a medication that interacted with calcium, and this meant he couldn’t have milk in the morning. Most commercially available non-dairy milks are calcium fortified, for obvious reasons, so they were out as well. Since L loves to have tea in the morning, I decided to try to find the best nut milk for him while he’s on this medication.

The three nut milks I tried were almond milk, cashew milk and hazelnut milk. All of them were made using the same method (outlined below).

Despite the popularity of almond milk, I would actually recommend either cashew milk or hazelnut milk, depending on what you’re after.

Hazelnut milk had a distinctive (in a good way) nutty flavour, and was the best when it was drunk on its own. In tea it was very enjoyable, although the flavour was quite different to regular milk. Hazelnuts also have a considerably higher fat content than almonds or cashews, which is good for CF-ers.

If you want something that closely matches milk, you should use cashes. Cashew milk was the most milk-like once it was added to tea, but not very good on its own. The cashew seems to break up into smaller pieces when blended, which gives it more body but can also make it a little gritty.

Over to you, readers. Have you made your own non-dairy milks? Do you have a favourite that I should try?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of the nuts of your choice (raw, unsalted)
  • 2 cups of water
  1. Soak the nuts in water overnight or for up to 48 hours.
  2. Drain the nuts and rinse well. They should be slightly squishy to touch.
  3. In a blender, combine 1 cup of nuts and 2 cups of water. Blend until nuts are ground into a fine meal.
  4. Strain out the nut meal using a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
  5. If you plan to drink the milk on its own, sweeten to taste with a small amount of honey. If you will be using it in tea or coffee, don’t sweeten until it is added to tea or coffee.

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NB: Some recipes for almond milk say to remove the skins. I tried both and thought that leaving the skins on gave the milk slightly more body, but didn’t make a significant difference. I would recommend leaving the skins on and saving yourself some trouble.

Don’t throw the nut meal away. I will share some recipes for using it up on Wednesday and Friday.

Vietnamese chicken salad

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This salad is inspired by two different recipes. One is a light, tangy, herby salad from Bill Granger, and the other is my mother’s fried noodle salad recipe.

Chinese cabbage is one of the best sources of vitamins and minerals going, while the carrot, cucumber and coriander add colour and crunch.

I often make a big bowl of this for work lunches. It will hold up fairly well if you add the dressing the night before.  This recipe is easy to adapt to a high-fat version with a few additions after it’s been divided into individual servings.

Ingredients

  • 600 g chicken breast fillet
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 a wombok, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small chillies
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • A handful of Chang’s Fried Noodles (optional – high-fat version)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (optional – high-fat version only)
  1. Cook the chicken breast in the oven at 220 C for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  2. Julienne the carrots and cucumber. Sprinkle with salt and toss to combine, and leave for twenty minutes. Rinse the vegetables, then cover with the vinegar and sugar. Leave to stand for twenty to thirty minutes.  Reserve pickling liquid.
  3. Shred the chicken with fingers once it has cooled. Combine with the wombok, pickled vegetables and coriander.
  4. To make the dressing, pulse shallots, garlic and chilli in a food processor. The shallots should remain in coarse pieces. Mix with the lime juice, fish sauce, and reserved pickling liquid.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad before serving.  For the high-fat version, add a handful of fried noodles and some sesame oil.

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Steak with two sauces and carrot mash

Steak with green pepper sauce is totally delicious, but I don’t always want such a rich, creamy meal.  By skimming off some of the peppercorns onto one of the steaks before adding the cream, I get some of the peppery, mustard-y flavours without the extra fat.

This is a great way to serve a high-fat meal for L, and something lighter for me without cooking completely separate dishes.

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Ingredients

  • 2 steaks
  • 2tbs green peppercorns
  • 2 tbs whisky or brandy
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 50mL cream
  • Carrot and potato mash (below) and broccoli, to serve
  1. Lightly grind green peppercorns with a mortal and pestle.
  2. Cook steak to your liking, then remove from pan and cover with aluminium foil to rest.
  3. Pour whisky or brandy into pan, add peppercorns and mustard. Cook until whisky reduces, then pour half the peppercorns and liquid onto one of the steaks.
  4. Return pan to heat and add cream. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then pour the sauce over the other steak. Serve with mash and broccoli.

Carrot and potato mash

  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2 cm cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Boil carrots, potatoes and garlic until the carrots are soft (about 25 minutes)
  2. Drain the water off, then return vegetables and garlic to the pan.
  3. Add milk and butter, and mash until smooth. (I use the masher attachment on my stick- mixer.)

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Note: Cut carrot into small pieces so it cooks in the same time as the potato

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