Tag Archives: low carb

Baked stuffed zucchini flowers with fresh cheese & pistachio

24 Jul

DSC_0978DSC_0977

And we’re back. It’s been a long time, blog. A lot of recipes as yet unpublished. Anyway.

The sight of zucchini flowers is a little bit exciting. I mean, we know you can’t buy these at your local supermarket. Fair enough. We’d pined after zucchini flowers for long enough to know that this is not widely available. Since we abandoned this blog, we have moved sarf of the Thames to deepest darkest SE14. No more of the organic baby shops, boutiques and gastropubs of Crouch End. Nah, bruv. We’re in Telegraph Hill now. As such, we have ready access to fabulous Brockley Market on a Saturday morning (and Maltby Street – another story), which does a good trade in seasonal and local produce. Among them, famed zucchini flowers (these are four for £2.50)

So when you do manage to get your hands on zucchini flowers, it seems a bit of a sacrilege (although quite delicious) to dunk the sinewy petals into a batter and dump them in the fiery furnaces of a hissing saucepan of  boiling oil . Baking is much more genteel, innit? The result clearly isn’t crispy (there remains bite in the stem and texture in the crushed pistachios), but is so fresh and summery I would say, should fried zucchini flowers meet baked zucchini flowers in a dark alley, and if the two had a grievance with one another, then my money is on baked zucchini flowers. There. I said it.

And it’s quite versatile – the key is a light, fresh cheese as the bulk paired with a sharper cheese. Baking on the tomatoes makes the tomatoes nice and sweet, and turns it into an entire dish (a light supper or starter), as well as preventing the flowers from sticking to the pan. DSC_0975

Baked stuffed zucchini flowers

  • 4 large zucchini flowers
  • 100g mild, soft white cheese (we’ve used both a very, very fresh goats cheese and a salted ricotta)
  • 50g strong sharp cheese (with the fresh goats cheese we paired this with a hard, strong goats; with ricotta it was paired with parmesan)
  • 2 TBSP pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 TBSP thyme leaves (dry – or 1.5TBSP fresh)
  • Pinch of lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 4 ripe tomatoes

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Crumble and grate the cheeses into a bowl. Add in the chopped pistachios, minced garlic clove, thyme and lemon zest. This should now be delicious – if not, adjust accordingly.

In stuffing the zucchini flowers you require a delicate hand, but the petals are more robust than you might imagine. With a teaspoon, scoop out the stamen (which conveniently also evicts any bugs convening in the flower). Each flower should be able to hold a good few teaspoons of mixture – larger ones will fit perhaps five or six teaspoons. In these pictures here we had some absolutely tiny flowers, and they still had some space. To close the flowers, hold the tips of all petals together and firmly but gently twist. This should remain closed.

Cut the tomatoes about 5mm thick, and lay out on greased baking tray. Arrange the stuffed zucchini flowers on the tomatoes.

Cover the flowers with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Check, and if nearly done remove foil and bake – uncovered – for a further 5 minutes.

Serve flowers with the tomatoes on which they lay. DSC_0986

Musical accompaniment: The Mynabirds

Estimated cost: £6.50

Mediterranean baked breakfast eggs

15 Jan

This is a breakfast for when you really want breakfast. For when you really need a big old feed in the morning and may or may not intend to eat anything else for the rest of the day. I mean for when you wake up pained and startled by your own hunger, wondering whether perhaps somewhere in the depths of sleep, some strange person has entered your house wielding a contraption of their own invention, the sole purpose of which is to suck out the entire contents of your stomach and use the half-digested contents as some sort of magical fuel source.

It’s also the breakfast Man Woman has after Woman has had the fortitude to wake up on a Saturday morning and do a double class at the gym, and Man has exhibited a similar level of strength in remaining in bed while one’s partner is kitting up for (and boasting about) some serious cardio-vascular exercise.

Baked eggs for brekkie is a great idea. Often the Frenchie version involves double cream and a bain marie, but this is far easier and pretty much contains your daily recommended intake of veg in one hit.

Adjust the spices for your own taste, but the below mix is a pretty darn good one.

Mediterranean baked breakfast eggs

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 C spinach, chopped (about 1/3 bunch)
  • 1 tin tomatoes (chopped or whole)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 eggs
  • Parsley
  • Feta (optional)
  • Bread (optional)

In a fry pan, heat some oil. Then add onions and garlic, sautee until softened. Add spices, spinach and tomatoes and cook until the mix has stopped being watery, but the spinach is reduced down (probably about 5-10 minutes).

Either divide the mix into a couple of heat-proof dishes, or just leave as is. Crack two eggs into each heat-proof dish (or four into the fry pan). The eggs should cover most of the mix.

Put the pans/dishes under the grill for a few minutes until eggs are cooked to your liking. Throw a couple of pieces of pita bread under the grill too while you’re at it.

Top with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.

(I realise that by grilling this, it’s not technically ‘baked eggs’, but really it’s so satisfying that semantics lose their power)

Estimated cost: £4 (if you go for cheese and bread)

Musical accompaniment: Peaches

Eggplant cutlets, beans & spinach with a red wine roux

10 Oct

Man has often rued his lack of roux-making (ho! ho!). This should set the record straight. It should also address that other record, of French insistence on every meal having meat in it. Man Woman get stuck on a cheese and bread diet whenever we visit Paris. We suggest they consider something along these lines.

While there may appear to be 1,001 ingredients in the below dish, you probably do have most of it in the house and can chop and change a bit (this is our vesion of a roux recipe which called for herbs we do not possess – ie. marjoram, and we actually used spinach stalks instead of celery). Also all the other elements can be made while the sauce is being stirred. This’ll suit a dinner party as the elements can be made ahead of time, but it’s quick enough for a mid-week meal too – no more than 45 minutes from start to plate.

Red wine roux

  • 1.25C boiling water
  • 2 tsp vegetable boulion (or stock)
  • 25g butter (or vegan magarine)
  • 3-4 TBSP flour
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4C finely chopped celery or spinach stalks
  • 3/4C red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary – or 1tsp fresh leaves, crushed

Eggplant cutlets

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 egg
  • 1C (or so) bread crumbs (Panko best)

Beans and greens

  • 1 tin (or cup) buttery beans – such as flagolet, canneli, butter beans, etc
  • 1.5C chopped fresh spinach
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Ground black pepper

Making the sauce

In a saucepan on medium heat mix boiling water and boullion (or stock) until dissolved.

In a small frypan melt the butter and stir in the flour, stirring for five minutes over a low heat until it starts to smell toasty. Add the onions and garlic to the butter-flour mix (I think there is a proper word for this) and continue stirring for three minutes.

Put the celery/spinach stalks in and stir for another couple of minutes. The add the boiling water mix to the fry pan and whisk until it creates a smooth even mixture. Add a bayleaf and other herbs and bring to the boil.

After a few minutes, slowly add the wine and continue to stir bringing to biul again. Then lower to a simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Adjust herbs, garlic and maybe a dash of red wine vinegar to taste. If it’s become too gravy-like, just add a bit more water.

Other elements: Eggplant cutlets

While the sauce is being brought to the boil, etcetera. Cut a small eggplant into 4-5 thick slices – about 1.5cm thick heat. Sprinkle with salt and chuck into a hot oven, about 15 minutes, until cooked through.

Create a crumbing station: one plate of mixed egg, one plate of bread crumbs. Dip each cooked eggplant slice into the egg, then into the crumbs and set aside. Do this twice for each slice.

To cook, pour a little vegetable oil into a fry pan. We used only a little – it was less than 1cm deep. Fry eggplant for about 2-3 minutes each side, then set aside on paper towels to drain.

Other elements: Spinach and beans

Simply chuck a can of beans into a saucepan and warm over low heat. Just as the sauce and eggplant is about ready, throw in the chopped spinach, drizzle over lemon juice and sprinkle in black pepper.

This isn’t as hard as this long list suggests!

Estimated cost: £4.50

Musical accompaniment: Robert Stillman, Machine Song

Parsley & sumac egg white omlette

18 Jul

This recipe was born out of the detrius of a crema catalana (to be published soon). When faced with half a dozen egg whites and not particularly keen on making anything sweet, one might easily fall into despair. But this little lunch or brekkie item is quite a good’un. I know the mention of an egg white omlette might initially seem like worthy diet food, but packed full of fresh herbs this is rather tasty and totally filling as a lunch.

Parsley and sumac egg white omlette

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 C finely chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP sumac
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds (black onion seeds)
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 3 TBSP finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C milk

Whisk eggs until white, but not necessarily too foamy and definitely not stiff. Add parsley, herbs, spices, onion and milk.

Heat a small fry pan (about 20cm diameter) and coat in olive oil. Pour egg mix into the pan and cook for a few minutes, until the base appears to be cooked through.

Remove pan from stove top and put under grill, until cooked through. Let cool before removing from pan.

Estimated cost: Given that this was leftovers, I want to say zero. But in more true terms, £1.40

Musical accompaniment: Lyla Ices

Pesto cannelli beans stuffed in baked beef tomato

1 Apr

I’ve got to be honest. Just having the word ‘beef’ in a recipe on this blog feels a little bit uncomfortable. It brings up all strange feelings. And really, look at the word – it is strange.

God, you can be too vegetarian, can’t you?

This meal was inspired after Man’s stroke of home-made pesto genius and the shock that pesto really doesn’t miss parmesan at all. Man Woman felt so betrayed by the entire Italian community – the needless cheese! Why?

Pesto canneli beans stuffed in baked beef tomato

  • 2 large beef tomatoes (or the largest, firmest tomatoes you can get)
  • 1 can cannelli beans (or other soft white bean)
  • 2 – 3 TBSP home-made pesto (you can cheat with store-bought if you like. We’re not looking)
  • 1 spring onion

Pre-heat oven to about 200C.

Now this is a little tricky. Cut out the centre of the tomatoes, leaving the outside in tact and ideally with around 1/2 inch of flesh all around. (Save the tomatoes for pasta sauce or something later). Try in particular to remove the more watery, seedy parts.

Bake for about 30 minutes. The tomatoes at this point will have released a bit of water. It’s best to transfer them into individual serving dishes that you can bake them a bit further – otherwise drain the train from it’s water and perhaps sit the tomatoes on a small bed of rice, to absorb the excess liquid that will inevitably be released.

While the tomatoes are baking, mix the cannelli beans with the pesto and chopped spring onion.

After the tomatoes have cooked for their 30 minutes, remove and fill with the bean mixture (putting them in their own serving trays or on rice). Return to the oven and cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes or until the beans are warmed through.

This is enough on its own, but you could always serve with some rice or salad on the side.

Estimated cost: £4.60

Musical accompaniment: Nina Simone

San choy bow (sans pork for vegetarians)

9 Mar

Woman spent her childhood dinners out normally at the Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants in Sydney’s inner west. Around the lazy Susan at these restaurants san choy bow was always a massive family favourite, involving many a pair of trousers ruined by the juices oozing out of poorly constructed lettuce rolls.

Traditionally this uses pork mince, which brings back less rosy memories of disconcerting crunchiness and the odd piece of gristle. Tofu is much less grisly. And Woman’s meat-lovin’ parents actually gave this vegan version the thumbs up during a trial run in Sydney. Gristle-free since 2001!

San choy bow (serves 2 as main, or up to 6 as part of Asian sharing menu)

  • 600g tofu, mashed with potato masher
  • 1/2 C vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 1/3 C lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP grated fresh ginger
  • 1 TBSP sweet chili sauce
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 iceberg lettuce

Cut tofu into pieces and drain for a few hours, trying to get rid of as much excess liquid as possible.

Mix together sauce ingredients (not including spring onion). After tofu has been draining for a while, mash up until it’s kinda mince-like. Pour over the sauce and let marinate for a few hours – or you can also cook straight away.

Cook simply by throwing the tofu into a hot pan for a few minutes. Serve with spring onions thrown through.

Serve wrapped up in lettuce leaves.

Estimated cost: £2.20

Musical accompaniment: Onra

Puy lentils & asparagus with mustard, buffalo cheese and beetroot

22 Feb

Lately Man Woman have just been copying meals we’ve had out at home. This one is a homage to an entree we had at Cornercopia in Brixton on Saturday night (an excellent experience all ’round). This was eaten as a main for us on Sunday night, but could easily become a rather classy-looking entree for parties.

Also, just a point, how good are puy lentils? I think we can all agree that red lentils are a bit crappy, but Man Woman could eat puy lentils by the handful.

Puy lentils & asparagus with mustard, buffalo cheese and beetroot

  • 1/2C dry puy lentils
  • 8 – 10 asparagus stalks
  • 3 small beetroot
  • 100g buffalo cheese (or whatever cheese you fancy, white and blue cheeses are probably best)
  • Your best whole-grain mustard
  • 1 shallot
  • handful of nicoise olives
  • 3 bay leaves

Soak the puy lentils (not very necessary). Put in a pan with 1 C of water and bay leaves and bring to boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until testing tells you it’s done. Season.

Meanwhile, just as lentils are nearly ready, fry your finely sliced shallot in olive oil in a pan. After 2 minutes, add the asparagus, cook until asparagus are cooked through, remove asparagus but continue cooking shallots until caramelised.

Serve asparagus on a bed of puy lentils. Crumble over cheese, throw on a dollop of wholegrain mustard, drape some slippery onion rings and scatter wedges of beetroot and olives about the place.

Fin.

Estimated cost: £3.10

Musical accompaniment: Paul Kelly

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