The journey continues……. So, last night, I was going to blog but Jet Lag claimed me….. I can never understand how no matter what you do to avoid it, Jet Lag WILL get you.  It’ is however a small price to pay for visiting Los Angeles.

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This was one of my favourite views from our recent trip, taken from the window seat of Claudine’s Kitchen, and without a filter!

Anyway, last night we had Burger & Chips!  I know I haven’t forgotten  I am following the Slimming World eating plan…… these were SW Burgers and Chips.

First, gather your meat…. I used 500g 5% fat content of minced pork and minced beef.  to this I added 2 egg yolks, and generous amounts of Salt, Black Pepper, Fennel Seeds, Nigella Seeds, Dried Sage, and Dried Herbs du Provence.

I give you no amounts for the seasonings, as it is all about the individual taste…. experiment, start with less, then next time you make them, add more if needed.  I mixed all the ingredients by hand and then formed the meaty  mound into a thick sausage shape.

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Its easier I feel to then cut into the individual burgers you are going to cook.  This amount of meat made 12 nice sized burgers

 

IMG_5142.jpgAfter cutting your burgers you will still need to form them a bit by hand.  You can see that although they are reduced fat meat, there are still some small flecks of fat which will make sure your burger is still juicy and not a dried up “diet” burger!

Leave to rest for a few minutes, before grilling or dry frying.  For the chips, I made the famous SW wedges.  Sliced up some potatoes into wedge shapes, with the skin on, then boiled them for 5 minutes, drained, patted dry, placed them into a baking sheet, sprayed them with Fry Lite, and sprinkled some salt over them and baked them in a hot oven for about 30 minutes.  I do suggest that every 15 minutes of cooking time you take them out, spray them again, and shake them about a bit!

The end result, served with a Salad…….. Delicious!

IMG_5143I almost forgot, this dinner is totally Syn Free, unless like me you drizzle a table-spoon of Hellman’s Honey Mustard Dressing on your Salad..  then its a massive 1.5 Syns!

Enjoy

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Ok lets try this again

I am back…………

I realised I have not blogged anything on here since October 2015

That’s pathetic!

my last post was full of reasons (excuses) as to why I hadn’t blogged for a while, I’m not going there again…….  Just know I am back and on a mission

I need to loose a serious amount of weight

Muddy Kitchen Floor is not going to turn into some quinoa and gluten free lentil food site, but as I need to loose about 54 pounds (yes you read that right!!) a lot of the posts are going to be slimming world based, either recipes I have used from Slimming World, or recipes that I have created adapted, and made my own but still either Syn Free.

If you are on SW, or been on SW, I’m hoping I can inspire you and of course keep myself on track.  Each week when I weigh in I will let you know how many pounds if any were lost, and of course I would love to hear your SW stories too………

FEAR NOT MY SKINNY FAT EATING FRIENDS of Muddy Kitchen, I will still be posting some fabulous desserts, and dinners on here and sharing a lot of recipes and food on my twitter account @muddykitchen

I will also be posting some more eating out reviews, and seriously praising those restaurants that can help you with SW choices…….

For now, know the scales have been stepped on………… The journey has restarted.

Breakfast was a delicious full english, everything was a free food except for the Heck Sausages which were 1/2 a Syn each

image1 Eggs were scrambled, Bacon Dry Fried, tomatoes were halved and placed on a baking tray with the mushrooms, sprayed with fry lite and roasted on high for 20 minutes, sausages were cooked in the oven.

Lunch today was provided by my good friend, Camilla, which after throwing her by informing her we were off bread, was Ryvita (2) and ham.  This was a Free Food lunch as I used the Ryvita as a healthy extra B and the ham was nice thick lean chunks.

Dinner was a creation.  I chopped up Leek, Onions, peppers and Tomatoes placed them in my Aga pan, and cooked them in fry lite on a low heat……. Adding Chicken breast, which was browned, I added some chicken stock, passata, Apple Cider Vinegar, and then a heap of cooked rice.  This was a filling, free dinner!!

image3It tasted a lot better than it looked!

So this was the start of the SW journey……… This time I aim to make SW a real lifestyle change, not just a diet to loose the weight, then spend another 5 years putting it back on!

Let me know your baking, cooking, eating, stories below, I love to hear from you!

It’s Been a Long Time

But I am back…..

A lot has happened since my last post on here, but before I delve into all the nitty gritty, I would like to thank everyone who has continued to log onto the site waiting for a new post, for all the emails, for all the twitter peeps who continue to follow my tweets, all new followers, welcome, and my friends who have asked, non-judgmentally, and kindly, “When the hell are you going to blog again!”

Well now is the time!

So whats been happening?

My last post was 21st March!  A lifetime ago!  Just a few short days earlier on 17th March I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends, Benji, my 15ish year old Collie Cross.  He had seemed so well and happy, but on that day, he was lethargic, he didn’t eat, he didn’t bark (most unusual), so G took him to the vets.  He had Pancreatic Cancer.  From the initial appointment at 4pm, all the tests were done, the results were in and we had no choice.  I was the hardest, kindest thing to do.

It was devastating.

Benji

We opened a shop, Teaching Therapies Holistic Centre, with our AMAZING friends, and as soon as summer came, we went away with said friends, for an East Coast road trip.  Driving from New Jersey to Florida, then back up to New York State, Connecticut, and then Long Island!  It was a brilliant trip.

Just one week back from that holiday, G’s mum was taken into hospital.  We thought she was getting better, but she passed away on 15th August.  I had thought that loosing Benji was the most devastating thing to happen to me this year, I was wrong.  Although she wasn’t my mum, she was my mother in law, and all jokes aside, she was good to me.  We laughed, we joked, we disagreed.  I miss her!

Our other older dog was diagnosed with cancer.  Bosley, our old man, the sleeping “farter” who has been a constant companion for 15 years…..  We debated, should we put him through an operation, should we just leave it?  The choice was made for us as his cancer was an external growth, it became infected.  He came through the operation!  He is still with us and now much more comfortable!

Bosley just before his op

We also decided to get another dog!  A golden/red Labrador called Barney.  He is a special boy, bringing healing for G, life to Bosley, and has become a close friend to Piper.  He is calm, he is content, he is a little naughty, but he is wonderful!

Barney & Piper

So to today………..

Today was the first day I was really “Back” in my kitchen.  I had a day of shopping, preparing, cleaning and eating!  I realised what I was missing, I realised I needed to cook again and to Blog again.

I’m sorry this hasn’t been a food post, but I wanted to catch you up on the happenings at Muddy Kitchen Floor.  My next post will be about my Dauphinoise Potatoes

Thank You

Just a quick non recipe post!

I was just tidying up the office and found a USB stick by the computer.
It was given to me by Delos and Yvette back in February.
I’ve just had a quick look through, it is full of family recipes……….

thank-you

I am going to enjoy cooking and eating my way through that lot!

A Gem of a Restaurant

Afghan Girl

We were in Missouri for Valentines Day this year, and our friends who we were staying with told us that D was organising a night out for all of us.  He kept the restaurant a secret, and after a day in St Louis we pulled into a side street and headed into a small cafe looking restaurant.  Now, G and I have eaten in enough places to know that sometimes the plushest looking restaurants are the ones that can lack service or personality, and some restaurants that don’t look great from the outside, have the greatest food that is cooked from the heart.

I have to say, this place did not have much curb appeal, and inside did feel like a bit like a takeaway fast food joint, with its lino floor and Formica tables, but the welcome from the owner and staff was amazing.  we had a slight hiccup with our reservation, D had reserved a table for us through yelp, and the system had messed up, but this was soon resolved and we were seated quickly.

This place is Halal – do not come here if you are expecting to have wine with your food, but also, please don’t let this1-IMG_5535 put you off.  Our waitress came over, introduced us to the menu, asked us some questions on the food we liked, and based on our answers, recommended certain dishes.

We started with a dish of mixed Sambosa  & Afghan Pakaowra.  these disappeared before I could even take a photo.  Served with a delicious green chutney, they were just spicy enough to get you used to the Afghan flavour without being over powering.

Main course, based on our servers recommendation was Lamb.  We all had Lamb, just cooked in various ways. we had curried Lamb Karahi – a delicious slow cooked chunks of Lamb, cooked with ginger, garlic and tomatoes.  We also ordered a Lamb Curry, a Lamb Beriani and a Lamb Shank.  All dishes were served with Rice and Bread and came really quickly.  I have not had Lamb like this for a long time.  It was cooked to perfection.  Enough spice to create a heat in the mouth but not overpowering, the meat fell off the bone, was so tender, all conversation around the table stopped as we savoured the flavours of Afghanistan.

One of the owners of the business, Fahime, came and spent some time with us, he was great and working the room, going table to table, engaging the customers in conversation and really making you feel welcome.  He saw how much we were enjoying the food and through conversation suddenly told us his brother, the chef, was going to make us a dish of Goat.  I’ve had goat a few times, and not really liked it.  I have found it rather chewy, and very rich.

1-IMG_5537This Goat however was butter soft, melting in the mouth and really tasty!!  It was a real treat to us.

The sizes of the portions are enormous.  Make sure when you go here you don’t over order as you will need to leave some room for the rice pudding which is served traditionally cold.  It is light, a great palate cleanser and the rose water within the dish gives it a zingy citrusy burst.  I totally recommend finishing your meal with the Rice Pudding and a cup of Chai.  A perfect end to a perfect experience.

If you find yourself in St Louis, make sure you book a table at this restaurant.  It is for now the only Afghan restaurant in the state,  and has been serving this delicious food for 10 years.  I highly recommend a visit, and would love to hear your reviews on this restaurant too.

Sameem Afghan Restaurant
4341 Manchester Ave – St Louis – MO 63110
314-534-9500

to view their website click here

This has not been a paid for advertisement, just my personal views of an amazing restaurant
(Who also deliver and Cater!!)

Your People

A.K.A South African Comfort food!

What I find really interesting in life, is sometimes people you meet you connect with on a simple level, they become “people you know” and then sometimes you meet people who become “Your People”.  You know what I mean.  “Your people” are the people you connect with, you click with, who open their minds, hearts, homes.

We are away right now (In America again) and this trip we are spending time with two different sets of “Our People”.  First our St Louis people, relatively new people, but definitely “Our People”…………….

Last night I was honored to be able to watch my friend Yvette cook a dish, Bobotie,  that was obviously so close to her, an old South African recipe that had been adapted by her mother, and in turn was being adapted by Yvette ready to pass onto her daughters.

There is something magical, standing in another persons kitchen, being the observer of a dish which obviously means so much to person cooking it.  Hearing their stories that are associated with the dish combined with the smells of spices used in the Bobotie, takes you to a place that allows you to feel just a drop of the emotion associated to this food.

“It is my go to food” Yvette tells me.  “When I miss South Africa, when I miss ‘home’, when I need comfort”.  Just that one sentence sums up what I now know to be Bobotie.  Before we tackle the dish, some history……..

Food Blog Bobotie is one of the most famous Cape Dutch dishes.  It originates from the 17th Century when the Dutch used the Cape Colony in South Africa as a halfway station to the richer colonies in Asia.  Malay Slaves, (from modern day Indonesia) were imported to the Cape.  Many of the slaves were in effect political prisoners, as they were enslaved for opposing Dutch rule in their homelands.

Many were better educated than their “masters” and often served as house slaves and cooks.  This allowed them to introduce wonderful spices from Asia to local dishes.”

Yvette had a recipe book open in front of her, Annette Human’s Seasonal Menus.  I was slightly surprised as it was obvious she knew this recipe back to front and inside out. “It’s just there for comfort…… you know to feel connected to the whole dish” she explained.  This book, you know just falls open at the Bobotie page.  1-IMG_5450

The pages detailing this recipe have scribbled notes on them “Those are the ingredients my mom added”, the pages are slightly stuck together.  “You must use the right South African ingredients.  It’s hard sometimes to get them here in the US, but for example, taste this chutney, then taste this one”.  Yvette as she is explaining hands me a spoon of Caramilised Onion Chutney, its sharpness, tasted as you would expect a shop bought chutney should.  “Yep that’s good” I say.  “NO!  THIS is the Chutney you need to use” she tells me, handing a spoon of Mrs H.S.Balls Hot Chutney.

I admit, the taste is smoother, sweeter, softer.  There is only 3 Table Spoons of Chutney in the dish (6 if you use Yvette’s mom’s recipe – more of which later) but I was assured this really affects the final taste of the Bobotie.

The recipe looks complicated.  Split into three groups, a list of ingredients in each group, which need to be assembled then combined to each other.  There are jars of spices littering the kitchen, chutney, pastes, milk and eggs, all waiting patiently for their turn to be measured, weighed or combined. This, I think is turning into a wonderful opera.

1-IMG_5429I watch as Yvette starts the process.  In her dish a combination of Ginger, Curry Powder, Turmeric, dried Coriander, Cumin and Cinnamon.  Some of the spices I notice are not in the original recipe.  “I’ll give you my family recipe” Yvette tells me with her trademark light up the room smile.  I ask if it’s a recipe that is ever changing, as she takes her mom’s ideas and adds some of her own.  “Yes, I really must write mine down for my girls.  Each family you know, has a slightly different adaptation of Bobotie.  It becomes their own so each one is slightly different.  It’s so adaptable.”1-IMG_5428

Yvette combines the first list of ingredients, mixing brown sugar into the spices, then chopping some onions, placing them into a pan of oil to soften.  then pouring in the spices to coat all the onions.  These are fried lightly, the aroma of spices starts to fill the kitchen.  I notice Yvette becomes slightly distant, almost as if lost in the smells, the focus of the dish takes her over.  “Its important as well to use the right South African Curry Powder.  You must use Rajah Curry Powder.  Today, I wont add more chili or jalapeno peppers, I don’t want you to be overtaken by the heat, but I want you to taste the real warm spicy Bobotie.”

In another dish, Yvette starts to combine the second group of ingredients.  Mrs Balls Chutney, Smooth Apricot Jam, “This should be home made but I just don’t have the time right now” she tells me.  “Brown malt vinegar, not white” follows next along with Worcester sauce, Tomato paste, Chili Paste all into the dish and mixed together.  This is then poured onto the onions and dry spice mix which is still cooking away gently in the pan.  The intensity of the curry now fills the kitchen.  Although I had never even heard of Bobotie before, I recognised the smell.  It must be the combinations of the spices, there is a lot of history in this curry and I’m beginning to feel this may become one of my go to recipes, something I will reach for to impress dinner party guests, or just to dive into on a cold winters day back in the UK.

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Now comes the meat.  The traditional recipe calls for beef, but Yvette also brings out some packets of lamb mince.  “This is what my mom would use, this is what I use”.  The minced meat is not browned first, just added direct to the pan of onions and spices and mixed in.  “Don’t brown the meat before adding to the dish,” Yvette tells me, “If you brown it first its too hard, it needs to be soft.”  You can see the meat releasing its own oils, adding to the overall flavour.  Next, to slices of white bread are soaked in water, squeezed out, and mashed into the meat and onion dish.  Yvette catches my look, “I don’t know why……. we just do”.  She smiles.  I know it’s going to be one of those ingredients that you would be tempted to leave out, after all, two slices of bread into such a huge pot of sauce, but I also know that if you did, the dish would lack something.

1-IMG_5434After a while, the meat is removed from the pan and placed into a glass roasting dish.  Pressed down, firmly.  there is far too much for just one dish, and soon a few other dishes are spread around the counter top.  Half filled with this deliciously spicy meat.  “It’s not that great today.  I had to use the wrong chutney.  Mrs Balls would have been better…..

But now for the Egg Custard”.  I had heard Yvette mention that this curry was served with an egg custard, something she assured me all people pull a face at for the first time, but then, then they taste it, realise how delicious it was.

The egg custard is just simply 2 eggs and about 1/2 a pint of milk, mixed together and poured over the meat.  It settles on top, about an inch thick.  Into this 2 bay leafs are added, making sure they are pressed through the custard into the meat, and a sprinkling of dark smokey Paprika.  The dish is placed into a medium to low oven (Gas mark 4 or 350f) for about an hour.  I have to say this is the longest hour you ever wait for a dish.1-IMG_5436

The egg custard sets and turns a delicious golden brown colour the smell of the curry is light and delicate, but also holds a real earthy undertone.  Yvette served us Bobotie with Yellow Rice, white rice, and Salad.

“You have to double the ingredients, it’s something my mom told me and it just makes it richer.  Just double the sauce ingredients not the meat”.  Yvette passes on some some more information from her family adaptation.  “You should wait for it to cool slightly, leave it for 20 minutes if you can so the egg custard on top sets a bit firmer.  And you know, the next day, cold, in bread with Chutney it’s good.  Not better, just different and good.”

I have to say, I am a Bobotie convert.  The deep rich spicy curry flavour.  Tastes so mild on the first bite, but leaves you with a deep hot afterglow.  Not too uncomfortable, not too hot, but enough to transport you to South Africa, just enough to connect you with all the South African families who have passed this dish down, generation to generation.

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I’m looking forward to going home, to my kitchen in leafy Essex, taking the recipe Yvette has kindly passed to me, and maybe adding my flavour, my twists, adapting her recipe to become my Bobotie recipe which I will then pass down through my family.

I must just add, as I am sitting here, recalling last nights feast, I am slowly munching my way through one of the additional dishes of Bobotie which was cooked last night.  Yvette is right, its just as good cold, and served in her husbands Squash Rolls!!

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And now for the recipe…………

BOBOTIE

Group A

3 medium onions, chopped roughly
Sunflower Oil
Soft Brown Sugar
Ground Ginger, Rajah Curry Powder, Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin, Cinnamon, Salt & Pepper

Peel and chop the onions and soften in the oil over a low heat.  Add the spices and curry powder (appx 2-4 teaspoons of each or doubled if using Yvette’s recipe) and salt and pepper and continue lightly frying.

Group B

Chutney (Mrs H S Balls)
Smooth Apricot Jam (Home Made is best)
Brown Malt Vinegar
Worcestershire Sauce
Tomato Paste
Chili Paste
1-2 Chopped Jalapenos (If you like it spicy)

Add all the ingredients together and mix well then stir into the Group A ingredients which are slowly cooking.  then add group C ingredients which are:

2 thick slices of good white bread which are soaked, squeezed and mashed into the meat
2.20lbs of minced meat.  Beef is traditional, or a mix of beef and lamb (Thank you Yvette’s mom) or beef and pork…. You can also adapt this to a vegetarian dish by adding Lentils and Chickpeas instead of meat
Lemon or Bay Leaves

Mix the raw meat and bread into the now combined Group A and B mixture, stew in the pot for about 15 minutes, stirring often.  Press the meat into a glass roasting dish, about half way up.  Mix together 2 eggs and 1/2 pint of milk and then pour over the meat.  Press in your Bay leaves, sprinkle with Paprika and then bake in a pre-heated oven.  (Gas Mark 4 or 350F)

Bake for 1 hour, leave to stand for about 20 minutes and serve.  Enjoy……………

 

Perfect Parsnips

I love Parsnips!  Not just at Christmas time, but all through the Autumn and Winter season.
This is my recipe for Perfect Parsnips.

http://www.muddykitchenfloor.wordpress.com

You can’t be bashful about using fats when cooking these perfect parsnips.  They are not for those on a diet!!

For a large side portion of Perfect Parsnips take 1kg of Medium parsnips

Slice off the tops, and then using a diagonal cut snip off the bottoms

Peel them

Chop off the ends, about 3 inches long

Cut down the middle of the remaining top, if they are thick, half them length-ways again

Each Perfect Parsnip will give you 3-5 strips of Parsnip

Chuck them in a pan of boiling water with a generous pinch of salt for 10 minutes

Meanwhile heat your oven to Gas Mark 7 or 220C

Once boiled, remove the parsnips from the water.  They may seem mushy so don’t be too rough with them

Some will break up a little bit, and as you transfer them to a cold roasting dish, gently arrange them in a single layer

Pour over at least 3-4 tablespoons of good quality duck fat, goose fat, or olive oil

Dot them with small knobs of butter

Cook in the oven for 35 minutes

Remove from the oven and pour over evenly about 3 tablespoons of Honey
(For added flavour use a cinnamon flavoured honey)

Place back in the oven for 10 minutes

Eat!

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