Highlights - March 2013

Curried Salmon (à la Café Spice Namasté)

Beautifully simple curry elevated to gastronomic highs by Chef Cyrus Todiwala.
Perfect Pork Tenderloin

Possibly the most perfect demonstration of macronutrient ratio on one plate?
Shrimp Bhajis

Light, satiating and great fun!


Beef Burger & Hamburger Sauce

Beef Burger & Hamburger Sauce
I find that I sleep really well with a segmented sleep pattern of around four hours of really deep first sleep, get up for a short while and then back to bed for another few hours of lighter second sleep.

This morning I woke up around 02:00 and couldn't get beef burgers out of my mind!

I grabbed a packet out of the freezer and popped it into the oven set on defrost and went back to bed.

Waking in the morning, I discovered that I'd actually grabbed a packet of half and half: half beef and half pork; something I did ages ago when I made some pork and beef meatballs, putting the unused portions of meat back together and freezing.

So, I had half a pound of beef and half a pound of pork. I could make a couple of quarter pounders of both types, or ...

I decided to make a couple of beef quarter pounders and then pork mince into a hamburger sauce. Not the sauce to put on a hamburger, but a sauce made from hamburger. A ragu.

To work ...

Finely chop a small onion, or half a regular onion, softening it in your favourite paleo fat. I used goose fat. Add some garlic, chilli and then the pork mince. Some tomato puree works nicely, chicken stock and black pepper. Water, arrowroot and set to simmer.

The result should be that the meat is cooked, liquid reduced and thickened, giving a good, salty meat sauce. This will take about a quarter of an hour.

Meanwhile ...

100% beef burgers. Simply divide into quarters of a pound, gently push together into a ball and then flatten. Try not to disturb the meat fibres and don't maul it! Be gentle.

Cook the burgers through. I used a cast iron griddle pan and like my burgers just cooked, so about four minutes each side, with a piece of butter laid on the top once turned. The butter melts in and makes the burger double gorgeous!

Serve out ...

I served out over some shredded white cabbage and chilli, hamburger sauce over and the burger on top. Garnish with some herbs - parsley, here.

Melted cheese over the burger would be good, as would a boiled egg alongside ... but I was fixated on the burger, so everything else was an afterthought.


Rock Pool

Rock Pool
Conceptually, this dish is simply seaweed and shellfish ... yes, a rock pool.

I had some scallops. Your rock pool could include clams, winkles, prawns, langoustine, lobster, crab ... whatever ... I had some scallops.

The seaweed is from a bag of dried sea vegetables. There's all sorts of seaweed varieties in there which just need reconstituting in hot water.

Added to the hot water, it's a shame not to add in some sea salt, garlic, chillies, ginger, spring onions and some sliced mushrooms ... just regular chestnut, because that's all I had. Exotic would be nice, say, enoki or oyster.

Scallops just want colouring up in a little butter. Maybe a minute of cooking time, if that?

Serve up ...

Seaweed in the bowl, shellfish over the top ... oh, and an egg alongside.

Next time, rather than cobble this together out of some leftovers (I made too much seaweed for breakfast to eat with some black pudding*) I'll make this as a deliberate meal: oyster mushrooms, also some clams, scallops and langoustine. Lovely job.

* Black Pudding over a seaweed salad:

Black Pudding & Seaweed Salad

So, a free idea for something else to do with seaweed. Instead of black pudding, any old offal will do: liver, kidney, heart, all would be just perfect.

Primal Mac & Cheese

Primal Mac & Cheese
Granted, this is really stretching the boundaries of primal eating, what with it being primarily a cheese and cream dish ... and one based around pasta, but please read on ...

Perhaps one for your vegetarian friends, or perhaps just for that 80/20 meal where you really don't fancy neolithic junk, but do want something simple, filling and ... well ... homely?

Mac & Cheese, I gather, is a dish at the heart of American cuisine. Sure, we have it here in Blighty, although call it Macaroni Cheese, but it's not something we'd immediately shout out when someone asks, "what's your favourite comfort food?".

So, why make it?

Well, I have a glut of cheese and a couple of turnips. Reason enough?

Primal Mac & Cheese

First we need the "Mac" ...

Here, I peel some turnip and then cut it into matchsticks about an inch long and perhaps a fifth of an inch square.

Boil for a few minutes until softened but still with just a little crunch, drain and set aside to allow the remaining steam to evaporate.

Now, the Cheese ...

You'll need cream (heavy cream, I think it's called in the United States) and some cheese. I used cheddar and a cheddar-like goat's cheese. How much? Well, probably just over half a cup of cream (say, 150ml) to 250g of cheese per apple-sized turnip. You can multiply that up.

Warm up the cream, add a dollop of English Mustard and then the cheese. Warm it through on a low heat until the cheese is combined and the sauce looks sumptuous. Yes, English Mustard, not grain, not American or Continental ... English ... it has the right bite without that sourness.

Now, pour the Mac into the Cheese ... Ecco! Mac & Cheese.

Want to primalise it more?

Shred some streaky bacon and leek, fry off together.

Meanwhile, steam some cauliflower, pouring the Mac & Cheese over the cauliflower and topping with the leek and bacon, and some chopped hazelnuts to crisp up under the grill (broiler) for a few minutes.

Neo-primal Heaven!

For another great emulation of neolithic comfort food, check out my Primal Lasagne.


Chicken Stir Fry

... another "needs must" meal, using whatever I have available, sometimes some odd combinations.

This is breakfast, something to get me started and push me on ... I'm going food shopping before this fresh snow undoes all our hard work yesterday clearing ice off the one road that is now open out of our valley.

What is it, then? It's chicken stir fry.

One breast, sliced through and cut down to strips.

The other ingredients are red onion, white cabbage, radish, red pepper, garlic, ginger, chilli, orange, spring onion, black pepper and fish sauce. Damn it! I forget to put in mushrooms.

So, with all the ingredients segmented, cut, sliced and diced ...

Wake up! Time to fry!

First, the chicken in some coconut oil, then the red onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, red pepper and fish sauce. Cook that through and allow the juices and the oils to reduce and darken.

Heat off, in with the spring onions and radish, folding through.

Plate up with a few orange segments on the plate, then spoon over the stir fry, dotting a few more orange segments in as you go.

Garnish with herbs, parsley in my case, cayenne pepper and black pepper.

Hot, filling and a good pack of "get up and go" energy. Right! I'm off hunting and gathering ...


Griddled Chicken & Aubergine

Griddled Chicken & Aubergine
It's snowing like blazes here and we're still recovering from the blizzards and drifting from the weekend which literally filled in roads, leaving us quite stranded. We have one route out now but it's a long way around to get anywhere.

For food, we just have to eat what we have in ... and that can sometimes mean invention or even a quantum leap into some interesting combinations.

Tonight, I have some chicken.

I also have an aubergine (eggplant), courgette (zucchini), a couple of golden carrots and a red pepper (capsicum?).

That's the ingredients - my method, or madness, you decide, is to griddle the chicken and the aubergine, ribbon the courgette, boil the carrot and chop the red pepper, serving raw.

Seems legit ...

So, courgette sliced with a vegetable peeler into ribbons and placed in a steamer to sit over the boiling carrots towards the end of the cooking time. The aubergine was sliced into centimetre slices across the bias and then cut in half.

My griddle is quite small, so I pre-griddled the aubergine and then the chicken, pushing all the chicken together to make space for re-heating the aubergine at the end while the courgette just steamed through.

The plate was put together with the aubergine as the base, courgette ribbons dotted in and amongst the chicken which was placed over. Carrots on top and red pepper all over.

Garnish with herbs, parsley in my case, cayenne pepper, black pepper, Icelandic ash salt (sea salt is fine) and some dried mushrooms chopped up fine for a little umami pack in and amongst the other flavours.

We also had a bowl of cauliflower stalk soup for starters and cheesecake for dessert.


Pesce-Paleo Garbage Plate

Pesce-Paleo Garbage Plate
Loren Cordain's 'The Paleo Answer' is a very neat book aimed at both paleo and non-paleo folks with a simple handful of points delivered as a paleo punch!

While I disagree with a couple of his points, I took a lot out of the book. Highly recommended even for folks well versed in ancestral lifestyles.

My biggest takeout was around meal timing and frequency ...

Cordain asserts that our ancestors would not have had access to a regular supply of food in the mornings: breakfast, but would eat whatever scraps and leftovers they had from the evening before, if any. The day would then be spent hunting and gathering food (yes, no doubt grazing a little as they went) and the purpose of the day, the focus of the evening, was to enjoy a communal meal.

I'm not a big breakfast eater anyway; that we don't usually have leftovers is not really an issue to me. Some days, I have a few spoons of probiotic goat yoghurt or perhaps a boiled egg that is surplus to requirement from the fridge, but breakfast is not really on my radar.

I have been experimenting with skipping lunch, too, and eating a substantive meal in the evening. This seems to be working out well, although I can't pretend I have adhered to it rigidly ... my lunches, when I have them, are a good bowl of salad (just bulk and interest, really) topped with some protein (often cold fish or prawns) and a boiled egg. Not a huge meal, but certainly enough, and perhaps not a million miles off the quick grab of protein that our ancestors might have had the chance to snatch during their day.

I go on, don't I?

There's a point ...

The garbage plate is a famous dish from Nick Tahou's Rochester restaurant, made up of ... well, leftovers, all manner of them, just dropped onto a plate. Of course, now it's famous it is made up specifically of a number of ingredients, but the spirit of the plate was leftovers.

Any, all ... just put them all on a plate.

Breakfast, and I have leftovers. Might as well eat them ... it is ancestral, afterall!

Here, I had some salad leftover from the night before, a red and a green salad. I also had a baked potato from a couple of days ago, easy to cut up and fry off in goose fat.

The rest of the dish is some smoked salmon that was opened a few days ago and really needed eating, an avocado and some scrambled eggs.

What a breakfast!

Of course, you don't have to (and should not) use the same ingredients. Just open your fridge one morning, take out all the leftovers you have and make up a meal.

Have fun ...


Open Salmon Döner

Salmon Döner
Döner. Turkish meat cooked on a spit, sliced and served with salad in a pitta. Greek, Gyro.

Tonight, without the pitta as an "open sandwich" and using salmon in place of meat since I found a lovely piece of loin at the supermarket at such a knock down price, I could not pass by without picking it up ... picking up a couple of pieces.

Skin and slice the fish ...


... lay the pieces on a tray, sprinkle with ground coriander, perhaps cumin, and place under a medium grill (broiler, in American parlance) for about 15 minutes, turning part way through.

What you're looking for is for the salmon to be cooked and to have dehydrated slightly and taken on a crust, reminiscent of the re-heated meat on a Döner spit.

While that's doing, make some salads.

I went with a green salad, a red salad and a Greek yoghurt sauce:
  • Green Salad - shredded cos lettuce, cucumber, spring onions, some dill ... and pretty much any green salad ingredient I could find.
  • Red Salad - shredded red cabbage, beetroot, tomato, chilli, that kind of thing ... red salad ingredients.
  • Greek Yoghurt Sauce - simply, Greek yoghurt, chopped dill and some lemon juice.
Salmon ready?

Serve out the three bowls with a couple of clean plates. Dig in!

If you did want it more traditionally, in a flat bread wrap, I'm sure a manioc tortilla would do the trick.


Cauliflower & Feta Bhajis

Cauliflower & Feta Bhajis
I got this idea from somewhere, or other, possibly even off a vegan website ... wherever it came from, it's a sound idea!

You need the following: cauliflower, feta, eggs, starch and chives.

The starch I use is sour starch, or polvilho azedo; the starch used for those gorgeous Brazilian Cheese Puffs.

I used about half a large cauliflower, a 200g block of Greek feta, two small eggs and maybe a couple of tablespoons of starch; I guess, since I just sprinkled it over until it felt right. This made the six you see pictured.

So, cut your cauli in half, trimming off the outer leaves and large pieces of stalk, retaining the lot for soup. Steam it, then crush it (not mashed or puréed) and let it cool so it doesn't melt the cheese. You don't want it steamed to mush, but you do want it just a little more done than still crunchy.

Crumble in the feta and a good amount of chives.

You should have ...

Cauliflower, feta and chives

... crack in a couple of eggs, some starch, sea salt and black pepper ...

... the mixture should be loose, loose enough to flatten out under its own weight.

Of course, you could add all manner of flavours in here, chilli, curry, whatever. I kept these really plain since we were eating it with a Tilapia Shito, which is very hot anyway.

In a frying pan, melt your favourite fat: goose fat, for me. You need more than just enough to fry, but not so much as to be shallow frying.

Spoon the mixture in and let it relax itself, no need to use moulds or rings.

After a couple of minutes, check if you can lift it with a palette knife. No? It starts to fall apart? Leave it a while longer. Yes? Flip it over.

Keep them warm in the oven until you're ready to eat ... enjoy!


Smoked Haddock Pots

Smoked Haddock Pots
I gut, skin and fillet a lot of fish and have all manner of trimmings hanging around in pots or joining an ever growing box of scraps in the freezer for some kind of fish pie later on.

Tonight, I found some smoked haddock trimmings in the fridge in a little ramekin.

That got me to thinking ...

I could do a "Smokie", which I believe is a dairy dish of smoked fish, cream and cheese. I could do a tomato dish, since smoked haddock holds up well in strong umami flavours, and boost with smoked paprika, smoked garlic, smoked sea salt, smoked cheese ... anything I have, basically, with the word "smoked" in front of the ingredient!

I have enough fish pieces for two ramekin based dishes.

My sauce, simply half a small onion, a clove of smoked garlic, half a Scotch Bonnet (yes, hot! you may want to use less, maybe more?), half teaspoon of smoked paprika, smoked sea salt, black pepper and half a carton of chopped tomato. Blend together.

Get an egg boiling.

Warm a frying pan with some butter and soften some spinach. This is the base for the dish, so line the ramekin, leaving behind some of the butter grease in the pan to warm through the fish.

Place the fish pieces into the ramekin on top of the spinach.

Warm the sauce through and grate some cheese into it. I had some smoked cheese in, some applewood smoked Cheddar, so that went in. Stir in and pour into the ramekin.

Into the oven at 200C (400F?) for maybe 10 minutes until it's all bubbling and melted.

Serve out with half a boiled egg on top and garnish.



Baked Sweet Potato

Baked Sweet Potato
Quick, and a really sane carb source for active people ...

Simply, take a sweet potato, spike it all over with a fork and place into the oven set to 200C (400F?) covered in goose fat or your favourite paleo fat for an hour, basting at the half hour and turning over.

You'll be presented with well cooked flesh, soft, with a hard skin that can be slit and the topping dropped in easily.

Let's make that filling a little different ...

While the sweet potato is cooking, make up a salsa of red onion, red wine vinegar, cucumber, tomato, chilli, black pepper, sea salt and dill. Leave this to macerate for the hour.

Ready to eat?

Remove the sweet potato from the oven, slash it, drop in a good slab of butter (paleo purists should use coconut oil or an animal fat - again, goose fat would be perfect here, as would beef dripping) then top with the salsa.

Push in some avocado pieces, get a bright idea right at the last minute and fry off some shredded streaky bacon (everything is better with bacon, right!), sprinkle some prawns from the fridge and garnish with chives.

I had planned a yoghurt and lemon juice sauce, but forgot it ... it was not necessary.

All the ingredients worked together so well, each complimenting the other into a perfect medley of flavour, no one overpowering.

So, ingredient and method summary ...
  • Sweet potato - spike and bake (at 200C/400F) in fat, adding in fat once slit open
  • Salsa - red onion, tomato, cucumber, chilli, dill, black pepper and salt; macerated for the cooking time
  • Bacon - shredded streaky bacon, fried off before serving
  • Prawns - pre-cooked, straight from the fridge
  • Avocado - skinned, de-seeded and cut into segments
... put it all together.

Smoked Salmon & Seaweed [Smoke on the Water]

Smoked Salmon & Seaweed
I don't need to tell you about the health benefits of seaweed.

Aside from being probably the richest source of iodine, there's protection against cancer, detoxifying compounds, stress relievers, the list goes on ...

... all really convenient as dried.

We have seaweed soup as a starter a couple of times a week. Simply, seaweed, whatever protein is kicking about, be it some beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, whatever, some chilli, garlic, ginger and onion.

I begin with some shredded garlic, onion, ginger and chilli, add the seaweed, add water and leave it to stew in the heat for a few minutes. Thinly sliced protein is then added and the heat raised to cook it all through.

This is an excellent dish for really hot chillies! I usually go for half a Scotch Bonnet for two bowls; the more daring might try a whole one ... or even a snip of Ghost Chilli?

Tonight, the protein source was smoked salmon.

I've never done this combination before and was pleasantly surprised ...

... the soup went milky. No, smoky, which matched up with the flavour perfectly.

Great combination, and one I will certainly do again.

AnySharp: The World's Best Knife Sharpener

The World's Best Knife Sharpener

Bold. Very bold.

I have a sharpening steel, and like many, I was curious about what this device could bring to the table.

I also have a couple of favourite knives which would not sharpen with a steel and were in need of regrinding.

Before taking all my knives for regrinding (yes, after gaining a quote) I thought I'd give this little device a go, which I've had in mind to buy and try out for some time.

Very impressive, indeed!

It took my very blunt knives and put new edges back on them, honed up to razor sharp.

The tungsten carbide blades are set to 22 degrees, perfect for Western knives. Simply draw the blade through gently a couple of times and you're done! Blades in need of a new edge need a couple of strong pulls through, taking care to follow the blade shape and then a couple of times gently to perfect the edge.

The device fixes to just about anything with a really powerful suction cup. With two, you could probably scale buildings!

Once finished, simply use a fridge magnet to collect up all the metal filings.

Two downsides ... of sorts ...
  • First, it is for Western knives only. It is not compatible with single edged Japanese knives.
  • Second, real perfectionists will want to strop the blade, but the vast majority of us will simply not notice and enjoy the new found life in our knives.
Cost? Somewhere around £10 posted will get you one of these, available in blue or silver.

Highly advisable!

AnySharp make a "gift pack" for shy of £30 which will get you the sharpener in polished metal alloy body, lifetime guarantee and a tub to keep it in.

AnySharp also make a "plus" model which can sharpen scissors as well. Somewhere shy of £20 for this model, available in grey or carbon fibre.

I have an Amazon Associates account, so if you want to try one for yourself and give me a little percentage then please use one of the adverts below.

... and, don't worry. This is not the start of a trend to monetize Living in the Ice Age; simply, I am so impressed with this little device that I had to share.


John Dory with Spinach Colcannon [St Patrick's Day]

John Dory with spinach colcannon
Happy St Patrick's Day!

What better way to start the day than with a bottle of Guinness. No, really ... Foreign Extra, no less!

Better have some food with that, eh?

Okay, remember yesterday? I made some potato croutons for my Loch Trout dish and had some trimmings leftover.

I diced those potato pieces into small, perhaps half centimetre cubes and started to cook them through and colour up in goose fat.

Meanwhile, I turned my attention to the John Dory ...

John Dory, also known as St Peter's Fish, has a cool method of capturing its prey - it shoots its mouth out and withdraws the catch. You can play about with the mouth and weird out your Mrs if you like, or just get on with it.

John Dory is a squat fish, half of it head. It also has a row of spines/spikes all around it and several more on top.

My filleting method is to cut around the fish, removing all the spikes and spines, and the head. I'm left then with just a bit of gut which can easily be pulled out and cleaned up. The fillets removed by simply sliding the tip of the knife into the fish along the bone until the middle is reached. That's one side. Next, do the same from the other side. Flip and repeat. Two fillets.

With the potatoes now cooked through and colouring up well, I added some spinach, spring onions and garlic. Colcannon is usually made from mashed potato and cabbage, but it is a dish which comes in many forms and with many names the world over: Bubble & Squeak, Stampot, Pyttipanna, Hash, the list goes on.

Serve out, fry an egg and in the still hot pan, warm the John Dory through. Not too much; this is a fish that is great just warmed.

Complete the plate with some superfluous greens, wasabi greens in my case, and a little bowl of pickled beetroot alongside.



Spiced Loch Trout

Spiced Loch Trout
Using the same method as Curried Salmon (à la Café Spice Namasté) I made up a similar, but different dish with Loch Trout.

The day before ...

Make up a marinade from probiotic yoghurt, lemon juice, ground coriander, turmeric, asafoetida, fenugreek, cayenne pepper, black pepper and some salt I have mixed with chilli (billed as 'Bloody Mary Salt'). Add some cumin if you like; I would, but my Mrs abhors the taste, so it was left out.

You don't need a lot here. For two people I used maybe a pound of trout with only two or three good heaped tablespoons of yoghurt. The spice blend should make the marinade taste gorgeous. Don't leave out the asafoetida - it does smell odd, but is very definitely part of the overall flavour which changes everything when the fish is cooked.

For the more purist paleos, perhaps you could try a dry rub of the spices with lime juice to "cook" the flesh?

Chunks of salmon in ... marinade overnight.

On the day ...

Although there appears to be a staggering array of ingredients to make this dish up, it can all be prepared and cooked beforehand, warming through when the fish goes under the grill.

Let's spin around the ingredients ...

Spring greens. Easy ... shred and steam.

Red onion, fennel and butternut squash salsa in red wine vinegar. Thinly slice the red onion and fennel, placing in a dish with some red wine vinegar. Shave and steam the butternut squash, adding into the macerating salsa with some chives, black pepper and sea salt.

Potato croutons. Peel and chop a potato into a cube, then cut down into smaller cubes. Par-boil and set aside. Keep the potato cuttings for another meal.

Orange. Peel and segment.

So, ready to eat?

Lay the fish out on a sheet of kitchen foil under the grill. Turn after a few minutes (say, three) and carry on for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up some fat in two skillets. I used goose fat.

In one, toss the spring greens through to warm up and coat in good fat. In the other, colour up the potato croutons.

Plate up ...

Base the dish with the spring greens, spooning the fennel, red onion and butternut squash salsa over. Dot a few potato croutons around the dish and then the pieces of fish, dotting more potato croutons over. Place the orange segments in and around, garnishing with something like coriander or parsley.


Insalata di Caprese

Insalata di Caprese
Simply, salad in the style of Capri, a simple salad of sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and seasoned with salt and olive oil.

I'm happy with some dairy, erring on the fatty and fermented style and for the most part from goat milk.

I'm always on the lookout for other sources of dairy: sheep, reindeer, buffalo, to name a small few.

Proper mozzarella is from buffalo milk, and this one was found in a very pleasant little Deli. It would have been rude not to ...

... as it would be to serve it any other way.

Often, this salad is served with slices of the cheese, tomato and basil all together, but I wanted to make more of a centre piece of the cheese, so the tomato and basil sat alongside.

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar over, and sea salt over the tomatoes, Icelandic ash salt over the mozzarella.

Very good indeed!


Tilapia with Fennel & Tomato Sauce

Tilapia with Fennel & Tomato Sauce
Tilapia is a fishy fish with a great texture, especially when cooked "just right" ... little more than a couple of minutes on one side in a frying pan, then flipped and the pan removed from the heat to cook through the other side and you'll have perfect tilapia.

Like all fish, tilapia is a very good source of protein, vitamin B12 and selenium. It is a lean fish, so the veggies and sauce will want wetting up with good animal fats: goose fat, for me.

This is a quick dish to put together, the longest part is the roasting time for the squash pieces, but we're done end to end in half an hour. Tomato also satisfies that craving for really strong, flavoursome dishes that accompany white fish so well.

So, half an hour? Let's get started ...

Oven on, set to 180-200C (350-400F?) with an ovenproof dish and some goose fat.

Take a couple of slices off the long end of a squash, peel and half. Settle these in the now melted and warming fat and into the oven. Turn them in about 15 minutes.

Now, make up the sauce.

Shave the fennel straight through the bulb. If your knives are not razors, a vegetable peeler or cheese slicer works wonders here. Chop up some red onion (half an onion for two people was fine, here). Smash a clove of garlic, minced right down and drain a carton of chopped tomatoes - we want the tomato, not all the juice.

In a skillet, melt some fat (yes, goose fat for me), soften the fennel, then the onion, then add in the tomato and the garlic. I like the garlic in last so there is no risk of colouring and burning it; top flavour, too. Add a little of the juice and cook through.

Flavour to suit: sea salt, black pepper, perhaps some chilli, perhaps some umami dust, perhaps even a splash of coconut aminos, Worcestershire Sauce or whatever condiment floats your boat for umami flavouring. This will ensure maximum flavour from the tomato sauce.

Actually, I'm going to switch terminology and now call this a salsa - it is more salsa than sauce.

Segment an orange! Yes, an orange. This works so well with white fish, but with this dish ... I'd yet to find out. It did, so I will endorse this.

Half hour almost up ...

Ready to eat?

Melt some fat in a frying pan (butter, here!) and fry off the tilapia fillets for a couple of minutes on one side, flip and remove from the heat to cook through in the residual heat while you plate up.

Plate about half of the salsa onto a plate, squash piece at one side, fish over the salsa, then more salsa over and orange pieces alongside. Garnish with fresh herbs: parsley, here.


Plaice Rolls [Fun With Fish]

Plaice Rolls
Steamed fish with rice again ...

Plaice, this time, a flat fish which has fillets top and bottom.

Clean and fillet the fish by slicing along the backbone each side. No need to gut, just fillet and clean up the fillets under cold water afterwards.

Skin the fish. The fillets that come off will be smaller than the total area, and all those feather bits at the edges can be collected up to add to the sauce.

So, with a couple of fillets (one each), lay them out on a board and place a few spears of asparagus in the middle, rolling around them and securing with a cocktail stick.

Prepare everything else ... we have carrot and courgette slices, red cabbage, pak choi and some rice; my Mrs had some salad potatoes. Whatever veg you want alongside, boil, steam or fry it.

A few minutes before all that lot comes together, get the fish steaming: 5-8 minutes is perfect, and will cook the asparagus through, too.

The sauce is simply a case of warming some lemon juice through, whisking in butter and then adding any fish scraps that you retrieved in the skinning and some chives.

Serve out, pouring the sauce over the fish. Garnish with superfluous greens: wasabi greens again.


Perfect Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin
For a light, but certainly satisfying and satiating meal, just a few slices of pork tenderloin coupled with a small portion of squash and an avocado is a near perfect match of flavour, colour and macronutrient ratio.

The meal takes 30 minutes. End to end, 30 minutes.

First, the squash - peel and slice, halve the slices and settle them into a pre-heated oven set to 180C/350C ish in some fat. I used goose grease.

The pork - it's tenderloin, so a couple of minutes on all four sides in a skillet and then transfer to the oven for another 8-10 with a few minutes rest time at the end. Err on the light side if you like really soft meat; slice through and if it's just pink, return to the oven sliced for further minute.

So, timing-wise, we'll start this process off after the squash has been in for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, take a skillet and soften some butter. We're going to soften the mushrooms, which can drink up a lot of butter, but don't overdo it - maybe slice half a centimetre off a stick of butter and half that for two people.

Take two or three mushrooms each. White or chestnut are perfect - I used chestnut. Soften in the butter and allow them to just darken.

Grind in a generous twist of black pepper and then pour some cream on. Maybe three or four tablespoons each. On a low heat, reduce. It will darken and take on some of the colour of the mushrooms if you use chestnut.

If it gets too thick, just add a little water. I mean a little! Half a teaspoon will get it all sloppy again.

Naturally, more purist paleos could simply soften some mushrooms in their favourite animal fat or coconut oil and pour over any residual fats in the pan as a sauce. As well as black pepper, some chives in such a sauce work well.

Cut an avocado in half, peel and stone, then chop into segments. I went with four since it was a good, large avocado ... and I'd gone with four slices of squash. I always think of the presentation prior to the cooking.

That's it!

Serve up ... pork, sliced on the bias, squash alongside, avocado over the squash and the mushroom cream sauce over the meat. Garnish with superfluous greens - here, pea shoots.

The meat could happily be beef or chicken. Even fish would work out well - haddock, pollock, coley and halibut all seem to play well with mushroom cream sauces. Cod, not really, nor salmon, but a butter, chive and pepper would go well with those.


Halibut Steak & Coley Bake [Cold Comfort Farm]

Halibut Steak & Coley Bake
Comfort food ...

Last night, our central heating system became possessed and started growling. This morning it began snarling, then went into a full on whining howl ... and then went dead silent.

Yeah, kippered fan which brings the lot to a halt.

So, tonight we're at the mercy of the elements in a stone house built in the 1820s and temperatures just below zero.

We have one halogen heater with one bar dead, two fan heaters (might as well sit around a match), but the star of the show is the solid fuel burner in the main room. It doesn't half heat up the house, chimney breast, so the bedroom is nice and toasty, downstairs is actually warmer than usual, but the other bedrooms, dining room and kitchen are freezing!

I swear ... it was warmer in Iceland!

Anyway, dinner, and we had a comfort dish ...

I made up a "bake" of Atlantic coley, leek, celery, mushroom, garlic, asparagus, cabbage, mashed potato, chive, cream and mature cheddar.

Coley Bake

Folks looking for a recipe should understand that this was a "use up" dish made from whatever I had around. The focus for the bake is some tail-ends of coley fillets, diced; everything else was simply whatever I could pluck from the vegetable store.

So, that's the ingredients for the coley bake ... just warm it all through in a frying pan, tossed in goose fat.

Meanwhile, some potatoes are boiling away for mashing and a couple of eggs boiling.

Once mashed, fold in the rest of the ingredients and tip out into an ovenproof dish, more cheddar over the top, sea salt, black pepper, chopped hazelnut crumbs and re-bake in the oven.

Set a good handful of chopped kale steaming and fry off a couple of halibut steaks. This should take about 8-10 minutes.

Serve out with a good portion of the coley bake, alongside which the steamed kale and halibut steak can sit. Garish with the boiled egg.


Thank God for thermals, that's all I can say. So, should I carry on with cold thermogenesis and have an ice cold plunge bath this evening?


Dover Sole & Scrambled Eggs

Dover Sole & Scrambled Eggs

Dead quick and highly nutritious.

We have two fillets of Dover Sole. Sole has fillets top and bottom.

They're not huge and very lean. Not to worry, frying in goose fat with an avocado alongside will more than make up for that.

... and eggs make everything better.

Sometimes known as glasswort or sea asparagus, samphire, a corruption of Saint Peter the patron Saint of Fishermen, is a vegetable that grows in the marshes along seaside river estuaries.

Beginning their growth season in the autumn and continuing through the winter until the start of the warm season, whether sautéed, steamed or blanched, samphire is perfectly seasonal and such a treat for eating with simple seafood.

Nutritionally, samphire is packed with goodness - strong in iodine and in vitamins A, C, B2 and B15, amino acids and minerals, such as iron, calcium and particularly magnesium.

Presenting, samphire ...

So, that's the ingredients: dover sole, eggs, samphire and avocado.

Halve and quarter an avocado, placing a couple of quarters per person on a plate.

Heat up some goose fat in a skillet and lay the fish in. It helps to just hold them down in the middle as they will tense up. After little more than a minute, turn the fillets over and take the skillet off the heat - the residual heat in the skillet will cook it through.

Drop a good handful of samphire into boiling water.

Scramble some eggs in another skillet with a little butter.

Drain the samphire and while it is fully draining, plate up ... eggs in the middle, Dover Sole fillets over the top and the now drained samphire alongside.

I garnished with a couple of slices of a small green pepper and a scrunching of Icelandic ash salt over.

Awesome breakfast!

The Arctic winds are now pressing what little warm air we've had here in Britain south today and we're expecting snow any time now ... time to get out into the hills for the afternoon ... the first few flakes are just starting.


Shrimp Bhajis

Shrimp Bhaji
Shrimp? Yes, no ... not "prawn" ... "shrimp" ... because this came from a fellow paleo cook from the States. Gerlinde from Dallas calls these Shrimp Cakes, and so, I'll call them Shrimp Cakes; well, bhajis.

There was a little discussion on G+ around whether Asian meant south or east Asian. Gerlinde's were apparently east Asian inspired. I know little about east Asian food, but I am practically a connoisseur of south Asian, and so, my dish was south Asian in orientation.

I am also fascinated by Nordiscandiwegian food.

Here, Indo-Nordic fusion?

I approached the dish as both Nordic and Indian ...

The shrimp cakes are simple.

Grab a bowl, drop in some shrimp, match the volume with shredded or grated sweet potato and then add some flavours: coriander, cumin, turmeric, asafoetida, chilli, chives and lime juice. Crack in an egg.

Now, toss in some starch. I used manioc flour. Does it look okay? Is it almost a batter? No? Crack in another egg and some more starch ... now we have something approaching a batter!

Shrimp Bhajis

Don't worry if you overdo this. We'll be spooning out the mixture and dropping into a frying pan, so any excess will drop off.

The soup? Again, simple.

Chop up some roots. I used carrot, swede and potato. Pre-boil. Steam a halved pak choi over.

Soften an onion and some garlic in a skillet with butter. I poured in some Noilly Prat for that certain je ne sait quoi and it worked. Toss in the roots, add some stock and some cream. Pinch of saffron if you like ... I did.

So, root soup ready, get a skillet on nice and hot with a high smoke point fat: goose fat, for me.

Drop in spoons of the shrimp mixture and cook on for a couple of minutes, then flip.

Put the dish together ...

Root soup and pak choi in a bowl, bhajis over. Superfluous green as garnish completes.

Instant Entrée: Macerated Red Cabbage and Egg

Instant Entrée!
Leftovers rule!

Not only can they be wolfed down for a quick on the go breakfast, but they afford an opportunity for an impromptu entrée.

Here's some leftover red cabbage, red onion, beetroot and red wine vinegar left to macerate for a meal the day before. Leftovers kept in a ramekin overnight.

Spread the red cabbage out on a plate, slices of boiled egg over and colour with paprika and Icelandic ash salt, garnish with dill.

Quick, easy and absolutely delicious!


Curried Salmon (à la Café Spice Namasté)

Omnomnomnomnom! This was good!

I write a lot about the food that I cook, but rarely really push it. This is one such dish which is firmly on my Dinner Party list now ... everyone should try it!

Inspired by Chef Cyrus Todiwala of Café Spice Namasté in London, who I saw on the BBC's 'Saturday Kitchen' last Saturday morning, I had a go at something similar ... his was cooked in a tandoor. Mine was under the grill/broiler.

This is a curried salmon dish, the fish marinated in yoghurt overnight and served over simple salads and some boiled and fried sweet potato.

So, last night, I made up a marinade from probiotic yoghurt, lime juice, ground coriander, turmeric, asafoetida, cayenne pepper, black pepper and some salt I have mixed with chilli (billed as 'Bloody Mary Salt'). Add some cumin if you like; I would, but my Mrs abhors the taste, so it was left out.

You don't need a lot here. For two people I used maybe a pound of salmon with only two or three good heaped tablespoons of yoghurt. The spice blend should make the marinade taste gorgeous. Don't leave out the asafoetida - it does smell odd, but is very definitely part of the overall flavour which changes everything when the fish is cooked.

For the more purist paleos, perhaps you could try a dry rub of the spices with lime juice to "cook" the flesh?

Chunks of salmon in ... marinade overnight.

Tonight, simple prep. Chopped red onion, cucumber, chilli and dill with some cider vinegar, left for about an hour; some red cabbage and beetroot in red wine vinegar left for about an hour; sweet potato, boiled, then fried off in goose fat and black mustard seeds while the salmon sat under a grill/broiler for a few minutes each side.

That's it!

Superfluous greens are wasabi greens.

The salmon was perfect! The astringent macerated parts of the dish were perfect and the sweet potato just held it all together.

Stunning! Even if I say so, myself ...


Liver & Onions with a Mushroom Gravy and Wasabi Greens

... much the same as last time I showed you this, but with a thick mushroom gravy and wasabi greens.

Wasabi greens are the tops from wasabi root, with just a subtle horseradish flavour; perfect for offal and a meaty gravy!

The gravy can be made up from a simple stock cube or from leftover juices of a slow-cooked piece of beef - mine was from brisket.

Set it to simmer with some chopped mushrooms, maybe a little sea salt just to bring the right saltiness and flavour out, celery salt adds further flavour and black pepper gives it the bite.

Meanwhile, chop an onion and set it caramelising in some butter or ghee.

Once the onions are softened, coloured and really sweet, thicken the gravy (if necessary) with a little arrowroot or whisk in butter and get slices of liver frying off. The liver takes no time, so plate up while it's cooking through.

Onions down first, some gravy and most of the mushrooms, and some of the wasabi greens.

Lay the liver over the top, spooning more gravy over and a garnish of wasabi greens.

Boiled egg alongside, naturally.

Perfect breakfast!


Fun with Chilli Con Carne

Chilli Con Carne
I've got new plates!

I know ... I know ... it's very sad to be so excited about new plates, but I really enjoy the artistic side of cooking.

I seem to put nutritionally balanced and flavoursome ingredients together, but it's the plating that thrills me - the arrangement and the garnish.

Yes, sad, I know ... new plates offer all manner of new ways of arranging and presenting.

Friday night ... Chilli Night!

My standard Chilli is a pound of minced beef, a carton of chopped tomatoes, an onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, another chilli, another chilli,  black pepper, oregano, paprika and both chicken and beef stock.

[Edit: I also drop in a chunk of dark chocolate. Thanks for the total recall in the comments, Jean ... actually, the week after I tried some cocoa powder and it worked out really well. Thanks for the tip.]

Chillies, I tend to use Scotch Bonnet for the fire, then Japaneno for the crunch. Sometimes, I smoke it up a bit with Chipotle. Ginger, garlic, black pepper and paprika offer other types of fire flavours.

I brown off the meat, blend up onion, garlic, ginger and initial chilli, pour in to cook through, add the tomatoes and the stock, black pepper, paprika and oregano and let it go for a couple of hours simmering away.

Later on, in goes some Worcestershire Sauce (Salsa Anglais, as Mexicans call it) and more chilli.

Alongside, like all manner of dips, bowls of this, that and the other, but tonight ... a little different:
  • Avocado rice
  • Macerated red cabbage
Avocado rice is simple. Blend an avocado with a little sea salt. Blend it really well. Steam some cauliflower florets and then crush into the guacamole.

Macerated red cabbage is just a case of shredding some red cabbage and steeping it in red wine vinegar. The sweetness really comes out, it softens a little and bleeds a little.

Ready to serve?

It's a rectangular plate, so Chilli Con Carne for about half of the plate, some avocado rice and then some macerated red cabbage at the far end. Garnish ... nice!

Huge fun!