Almond Loaf

Bread! Richard Nikoley inspired me with his number of attempts to make a decent bread from gluten-free ingredients, but it is his first attempt that was the most successful for me and one which I wanted to perfect.

The first time I made this, I used almond butter. Getting a hold of almond butter that has not been messed with proved a difficult task and had me resorting to the internet. £4.95 plus £2.50 P&P and a few days later I had my almond butter ... all 236g of the stuff!

What now? Blend with three extra large eggs, four if yours are not gargantuan, a splash of cider vinegar, some sea salt and a heaped teaspoon of baking soda. Blend the lot together with a fork and pour out into a buttered dish and into the oven at 180C for 45 minutes.

It was good! Reassuringly expensive at something like £10 a loaf from which I gleaned about 8 slices. Impractically expensive and so something do reserve as a treat.

I got thinking ...

Almond butter can't be that hard to make, can it? Well, it turns out that it isn't.

What you do is get a couple of cups of almonds, pulse them in a food processor a couple of times and then set it on low for a few minutes. This processing breaks down the almonds into flour, then the magic happens ... the oils are released and you wind up with sloppy butter.

Easy! Except I don't have a food processor. I do have a stick blender.

Armed with a bag of almond flour (that's ground almonds), I set about trying to get this magic to happen. It wasn't happening ... the flour impacted into the blended and needed clearing out every few seconds of blending and the blender itself got so hot, I feared it would pack up altogether.

Change of tack ...

I added an egg and started blending again. Better. I added a second egg and then the third. This was about right. So, add your eggs to the ground almonds and blend. I blended this for a few minutes and think the oils were released, but just to make sure (since I didn't know what processing had gone on to make the ground almonds), poured in a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil.

Add a pinch of sea salt, a splash of cider vinegar and a heaped teaspoon of baking soda. Blend the lot together with a fork and pour out into a buttered dish and into the oven at 180C for 45 minutes.

The result was a perfectly usable loaf, which wasn't eaten with the meal it was intended for, but made a smashing breakfast of soft boiled eggs and soldiers - toasted fingers with obscene amounts on butter on.


Poached Trout Blackberry Salad

Celebrating the end of the blackberry season, I collected what I think is the last of the blackberries from our garden that had not gone over to squishy and fermenting.

What to do with them? I could put them with a Panna Cotta, make a nice compote alongside game: venison or rabbit, or, alongside fish: salmon or trout.

Trout it is!

First things first. Wash your blackberries and leave them soaking for a few minutes in cold water and a good helping of vinegar to get all the bugs out. Not bothered about bugs? I'm not, but my Mrs is ... just wash them.

I made up a salad with some warm carrot and courgette ribbons, fennel shavings and black pudding.

Using a vegetable peeler, take some ribbons off a carrot and a courgette. Using the same vegetable peeler, shave some fennel. Sauté the fennel in a little butter and let the ribbons sit in some boiling water while you get the rest ready.

Immerse a fillet of trout in some bouillon to poach.

Fry off a couple of rounds of black pudding and set aside, frying off some chorizo in the same pan.

Black Pudding? Blood, fat and filler! What a treat! It's not fully paleo, containing oatmeal and barley, but it is very good indeed and this is something I happily gorge on as part of my proverbial 20%. I buy Bury Black Pudding, a northern English specialty and widely renowned as the best there is.

Take a wide-brimmed bowl, a good handful of Bistro salad (lamb's lettuce, spinach, leaves and shredded beetroot), drain the ribbons and mix with the shaved fennel placing a mount in the middle of the bowl, salad around, cube the black budding and sprinkle over, sprinkle the chorizo over, black pepper, some blackberries over, then place the trout fillet in the middle.

Soured cream? Asparagus? Slice of lemon? Something to crown it and dig in!


Braised Lamb Shoulder

The best spring lamb is actually autumn lamb!

Lamb born in spring graze on sweet summer grass all summer and make the most fantastic meat come autumn.

This is a boneless shoulder, fatty, and best slow cooked to give it the respect it deserves.

Immerse the lamb shoulder in a lidded ovenproof dish filled with boiling water, flavoured with some bouillon and spiked with garlic and herbs. Thyme, in my case.

Pop it into the oven and let it cook for 4-6 hours at 150C/300F.

About an hour from the end, pop in some leeks cut into inch sections into the same dish.

When you are ready to eat, retrieve the lamb from the liquor and wrap it in tin foil to keep warm.

Retrieve the leeks and pop them back in the oven to keep warm. Switch the oven off, using the residual heat.

Skim off as much fat as you can from the top of the liquid and reserve that for later - you can use it for frying.

There's a lot of liquor, so pour off some of it to boil your vegetables - I had savoy cabbage and celeriac mash.

Boil, mash and otherwise prepare your vegetables however you do.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the liquor can be blended and reduced in a pan. Thicken with a little arrowroot and just before pouring, whisk in a couple of knobs of butter.

Serve out a few slices of the meat, veggies alongside, gravy poured over and a few capers sprinkled over the meat.

Curried Parsnip Soup

Gah! I've got a head cold ... sneezing, coughing and generally feeling grotty :(

What better than a warming soup?

Quick and easy to make, I simply shredded a leek, a little ginger, minced a few cloves of garlic, cubed a large parsnip and a Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Kill or cure!

Add some ground coriander and a sprinkle of turmeric (the medicine).

Boil that lot in a large pan with some bouillon, blend, reduce and thicken.

If only I had some chicken bone broth ...

Pour in some cream if you like (I didn't), serve and garnish with some fresh herbs - more coriander.

Hot! Hot! Just right for a healing soup.

Leftovers? Next time, stir in some spinach ... after that, drop in some shredded ham ... or some scallops.


Belly Pork Stir Fry with Marinated Cucumber Salad

Inspired by Ching-He Huang's appearance on the BBC's 'Saturday Kitchen' this Saturday last, I thought I'd make a reasonable approximation of what she cooked, but keep it close to paleo - no bean paste, sugar and so on ...

What are we making? Stir-fried belly pork in a chilli sauce with cooling marinated cucumber salad.

First, pre-cook the belly pork. Ideally, after cooking, the pork should be refrigerated to firm up. This would only really be practical by doing this first cooking the day before. I found it worked out fine just to bunging it in the oven, setting the timer, going to work and dealing with the rest when I got home.

So, cut your belly pork into sections about three inches wide, immerse in water in a large oven-proof bowl and cook it for a couple of hours. Refrigerate if you can, otherwise don't worry - just let it cool enough so that you can hold it to cut it for the stir fry.

Get everything else ready ...

Take a cucumber, cut in quarters longways and core it. Cut these strips into smaller sections about an inch and a half long. Splash some vinegar over - rice wine vinegar is the obvious choice, but cider vinegar or white wine vinegar will do just fine.

Slice some spring onions on a really sharp angle to create horse ears. Add these to the marinading cucumber and fold through regularly.

Make up your chilli sauce ...

I went with a straight-up chilli paste, no dubious ingredients, a little tomato puree and let out with sherry and lemon juice, soured with a little rice wine vinegar and sweetened with just a touch of mirin. More flavours - minced garlic, celery salt, white pepper, fresh ginger and ... a good splash of Worcestershire Sauce.

Make up your chilli sauce however you like and according to your own principles when it comes to alcohol, sweetener and condiments.

Last, assemble the remaining ingredients for the stir fry ...

Shred up a red pepper and any other vegetables you want to include.

Cut the belly pork into slices about a centimetre thick. This is easiest with the pork firmed up and skin side down.

To wo[r]k ...

Get your pan smoking hot and drop the belly pork in. Cook through well, colouring up and collecting any further fat that renders out.

Toss in the shredded red pepper and combine.

Pour in the chilli sauce, cook through and reduce.

Plate up with the stir fry on one side and a good handful of the marinated cucumber on the other.

Eat, enjoy!


Burgers ... Like a Champ!

We're done with bread, so we've tried our burgers in lettuce leaves as a wrap, refined that and gone with a sort of open sandwich, popped them between a couple of portabello mushrooms, reserved the idea of a bell pepper bun and even thought about popping the burger between a couple of slices of fat bread ...

Here's how to eat your burgers like a champ!

Grill your burgers, slice them in half, fill with awesome, eat, grin a lot, feel great ... have another. Easy, eh?

I went with a couple of beef burgers and a couple of venison burgers.

Fillings? Thin slices of beef tomato, cucumber, egg, gherkin; sauces, guacamole, chilli sauce and mayonnaise.

Chilli Stuffed Omelette

Leftovers make a simple breakfast ...

You need some leftover Chilli Con Carne, a few eggs, cheese if you're so inclined and a skillet.

Make your Chilli Con Carne however it is you like, eat most of it, enjoy it and pop the rest in the fridge.

My Chilli Con Carne is based around a kilo of minced beef, browned, then a blend of onion, garlic, ginger and chilli (puréed with a hand blender) is added, stirred through, one carton of tomatoes added, sprinkle of paprika, oregano, a good splash of salsa inglesa (or, Worcestershire Sauce as we know it ... Mexicans love this stuff, apparently), lots of freshly milled black pepper, beef stock and towards the end of cooking, more chilli and perhaps a little sea salt. Phew!

Morning has broken ... or late morning/early afternoon, if you were overindulging in sensible indulgences ...

Crack three eggs into a bowl and whisk through with a fork breaking up the yolks into the whites - you want a rough texture, nothing too blended.

Butter or coconut oil into a skillet, eggs in, stir around to break up the texture as it starts to cook an while still just runny ensure that a good circle is former. I'm using a skillet with a 6" base.

Take off the heat, sprinkle over some grated cheese if that's acceptable to your paleo template, otherwise proceed ...

Pop the skillet under the grille/broiler to puff up the omelette a little, melt the cheese and give it a gentle burning, lending a smoky taste to the omelette.

In another skillet, warm through some leftover Chilli Con Carne and spoon into the omelette, folding the sides up and around, or just flip one side over.

Salad alongside and more sauce over, whatever you want to do ... eat, feel great, get about your day!


Pork Three Ways

First, a warning ... was Leviticus 11:7 right?

Caution to the wind, let's get on with it! What is it?

It's marrow stuffed with pork mince, sausages over and a spicy chorizo and tomato sauce.

First, get your sausages into the oven to warm through and colour up.

Somewhere around 30 minutes at 180C is perfect, turning every so often. This also gives sufficient time for the rest of the meal - preparation and cooking.

Next, the marrow.

Slice the marrow into sections about an inch and a half thick - thicker if you like. Core the sections and sit them on an ovenproof board with a little fat to stop them sticking.

Brown some pork mince in a skillet with a little lard or coconut oil. One pound of mince for two people is perfect for filling four such marrow circles.

Meanwhile, cut up half an onion (the other half will be used later) and some garlic, blend to a purée and pour into the minced meat. Cook through, check for seasoning - so, sea salt and pepper; add some sage just to perfume the meat and then fill the marrow.

That took maybe ten minutes, so we've got twenty minutes until the sausages are indicatively ready ... twenty minutes is fine for cooking the marrow through, so into the over with them.

Optionally, ten minutes from the end of cooking, put a couple of slices of cheese over the marrow sections, even a splash of Worcestershire Sauce.

Now, turn your attention to the spicy sauce.

Begin by skinning some chorizo, half it, slice it finely and get it cooking in a skillet, perhaps with a little coconut oil.

Remember that half onion? Cut to a fine dice and add it into the skillet. More garlic, too, if you like.

Once the chorizo is cooked through, add in a carton of chopped tomatoes, a good squirt of tomato puree, a minced or sliced chilli and leave on high to reduce and combine the flavours.

Just before serving, stir in some chopped fresh parsley, check for seasoning, adding sea salt and freshly milled black pepper if necessary.

Ready to eat?

The sausages are cooked, browned and the marrow is cooked through ...

Place a couple of stuffed marrow sections on a plate, sausages on top and crown with the sauce.



From the Tamil "milagu thanni", or "pepper water", Mulligatawny was popularised in the West by Heinz as a soup.

The Heinz soup is dark brown, rich, peppery with small chunks of beef and bulked with rice. Other versions are more yellow, laced with turmeric.

I choose not to call this Mulligatawny Soup since it wasn't soup - it was more of a wet stew. So, just Mulligatawny. Click, for a more conventional Beef Mulligatawny Soup.

Let's get on with it ...

Begin by browning a good quantity of diced beef. I went for a almost three pounds for two, hoping for leftovers. Read on regarding that.

Once browned, pour in some puréed onion, garlic and ginger, and cook that through.

Slosh in a good helping of Worcestershire Sauce, sprinkle over a generous amount of coriander, sufficient turmeric and then a good helping of ground black pepper.

Pour in some beef stock, salt to taste, a good blob of tomato puree and set that on a low heat to simmer for a few hours, reducing the liquor and softening the meat.

Remember to turn the heat down! I forgot and returned an hour later to find it stuck to the pan and smoking. I rescued as much meat as I could by pulling the unburned pieces away from the pan and cutting off the charcoal. This lent an interesting flavour to the final dish.

Begin again ...

Our meat is cooked and we want to eat soon.

Around 20 minutes before you want to eat, chuck in some diced parsnip, diced green pepper, a handful of risotto rice and some fresh chilli.

Raise the heat to cook these ingredients through, topping up a little water if necessary, but aim to reduce the liquid well. The rice will thicken it.

If rice is not within your paleo template then just leave it out. Thicken with a little tomato puree and reduction.

Just before serving, a generous handful of chopped coriander should be turned through the dish before spooning out into wide brimmed bowls.


Venison & Beef Goulash

First, a little history ...

Goulash, or Gulyás, is a Hungarian meat stew seasoned with paprika.

Bográcsgulyás is a thick stew made by cattle herders and stockmen, the Bográc being the large metal cooking cauldron that the Gulyás is cooked in.

Favouring fattier cuts of meat where the collagen turns into gelatin while cooking, goulash is not thickened with any kind of roux.

This is starting to sound perfectly paleo ... in fact, so perfectly paleo it would be a shame to include traditional potato in the stew, even if us paleo plussers and primals are quite happy with this.

Let's make it really pure, both in terms of paleo and in terms of the heritage of the dish ...

Right, get your Bográc out! I jest - a heavy based lidded sauté pan is fine, and this is what I used.

Begin by softening some onion in some pork fat or beef dripping, and in another skillet, brown off the meat in stages and add to the main cooking pan.

I guess traditionally, the meat would simply get bunged into the Bográc, spices thrown over, water poured in and then left to cook, veggies and herbs tossed in later on.

How much? Well, I went with a couple of pounds of diced beef and one large onion. I then had the genius idea of chucking in about a pound of venison and so added another half onion.

So, that's your onion and meat ...

Next, some herbs, spices and garlic.

I went with a good bunch of parsley, roughly chopped until I got down to the stems and then fine chopped, several cloves of garlic and then the key ingredient: smoked paprika, which I procured from a Polish deli, although I suspect paprika is paprika is paprika, but it's nice to get something from the right part of the world.

I also added in a finely chopped Romano Pepper, a long sweet red pepper, and some shredded pepperoni for a spicy bite, more fat and the rounding flavour that it brings. I figured Hungarian herdsmen would have a spicy sausage in their bag for flavour.

Beef stock (about a pint) and a damn good grind of black pepper, top up with water, bring to the boil and then raise your Bográc up, off the fire, or turn the burner down to low.

That's it ... get about your day.

I went for a good walk over to a local vantage point called Beacon Hill - about eight miles round trip. So, maybe three hours later, maybe four, I get home and the meat is really tender.

Lid off, heat up and get it reducing. Your goulash should have a thick, gelatinous sauce by the time it hits the plate. Just before serving, check for saltiness and add in some fresh parsley.

Veggies! I cubed some swede, boiled it, mashed it and served it out with a generous number of butter cubes over the top.

Gorgeous! Another time I will simply cook this over an open fire.