Roast Aubergine & Pomegranate salad

So I was making my Aubergine & Courgette bake and went a bit cray cray with the aubergines. Suffice to say there was a mountain pile of aubergine slices left. I remember having a similar salad at Ottolenghi and set about creating my own version of it. If you want to make this strictly Paleo, just leave out the ricotta and use coconut yoghurt. You can also sub with dollops of greek yoghurt.

INGREDIENTS
serves 4 as a side dish
Prep: 20min  |  Cook: 20min


4         aubergines
50g    pine nuts
½        pomegranate
10       sprigs of mint
150g   ricotta
1          lemon
3tbsp olive oil + extra to drizzle
pinch  salt & pepper

MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Slice the aubergines into 1cm thick slices and toss in a bowl. Pour the olive oil over the slices, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and toss to coat - getcha hands dirty. Line two baking sheet / trays with foil and grease with olive oil and lay the slices out on top. Try not to overlap them all because we want the aubergines to roast and maybe even char a little bit for a slightly smokey flavour. If you lay them on top of each other too much it will steam. Put the two trays in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take  the aubergines out of the oven and give them a gentle toss and roast for a further 10 minutes. After that, take the aubergines out and leave to cool.
  2. Whilst waiting for your aubergines, prep the other ingredients. Put the pine nuts in a small frying pan on medium heat to toast. Keep you eyes on these nuts we want them to colour and bring out the nutty flavours but not burn, then turn off the heat to cool down. Score your pomegranate in half and remove the seeds. I use a merge of this method. Whack the pomegranate with a wooden spoon to knock out the seeds into a bowl then pour in cold water to separate the pith. Remove the mint leaves and chop roughly.
  3. Once your aubergines have cooled down, place them in a large bowl, add the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, mint, squeeze the juice of half a lemon - add the other half gradually as you taste if you want more acidity. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and toss gently.
  4. Before serving, take a teaspoon and dot dollops of ricotta (or coconut yoghurt / greek yoghurt) in and around the salad, crack black pepper and a final drizzle of olive oil and eat!
 

Paleo Avgolemono (Chicken lemon soup)

This is one of my favourite soups to make. We had roast chicken this week and whenever I have carcass, I make broth - and nothing beats this Greek classic made with rich chicken broth from scratch. The original recipe calls for the addition of Orzo (which is to die for) but it's January and we're watching what we eat so Paleo's back in this household. In order to make the dish more filling, I've kept the celery and carrots used to make the stock and serve it alongside the soup.

INGREDIENTS
serves 4 bowlfuls of soup (or more)

BROTH
Note: You can always use chicken stock, but it won't taste the same
1          whole organic chicken
1          chicken carcass (leftover from roast)
8         sticks organic celery
1kg     organic carrots
6         bay leaves
3         bouquet garni (store bought or make your own)

EGG & LEMON MIXTURE
Note: Make this at the very end right before you serve the soup
4         large organic eggs
3         lemons' juice (freshly squeezed)
1 - 2    extra lemons to squeeze (optional)
pinch  salt & pepper


MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN

  1. Put a litre of water to boil in large stock pot. Throw your chicken carcass in with the bay leaves and bouquet garnis. Chop your celery into 2cm chunks and carrots into 1cm chunks (I wouldn't recommend going any smaller as we want the veggies to retain their shape whilst slow cooking the broth). Toss celery and carrots into the stock pot. 
  2. Prep your chicken. Remove the two legs, wings and breasts. Here's how. Drop the chicken pieces and the bones/carcass into the stock pot and that's it for the broth! It's your choice to leave the skin on or not. I leave it on because it adds even more flavour to the broth and use a jar trick to get rid of all the gunky grease that floats to the top, then toss the stock bit back into the broth and throw away the fat. Cover and leave to boil over low to medium heat - I leave it for at least 4 hours. Make this dish ahead and leave it boiling until meal time so that all the herbs and bones and flavours integrates with the broth.
  3. Taste the broth and add salt, bring the temperature down to very low heat. Remove a few chicken pieces and pull the meat off the bone and set it into bowls.
  4. Whisk your eggs and freshly squeezed lemon juice in a bowl. Add a ladle of chicken broth (room temperature) into your mixture and whisk, then add another ladle and whisk. Now slowly add this mixture into the rest of your stock broth and turn off the heat. Mix well and spoon the broth into the bowls on top of the meat.
  5. Crack black pepper on top and serve with extra wedges of lemon for those who like their Avgolemono extra lemony.
 

Paleo Asian ribs + watermelon salad

Ribs. Love them. Love stripping the bones clean. Love the fat. I don't, however, like some of the overly sugary glaze that you get from ribs in some restaurants. So here's a recipe I've found that subs all sugar out with coconut/palm sugar to keep things paleo. In keeping with the theme, it's got an asian inspired marinade and to cut through the fat and grease (oooooohhhh) a light citrusy watermelon and cherry tomato salad to lighten it all up.

INGREDIENTS
serves 2 - 3 as a main

MARINADE (for at least 6 hours)
1tbsp    Thai chilli paste (Nam prik pao)
½ cup   coconut palm sugar
10         sprigs coriander stems + leaves - minced
1           onion - sliced
2 inch  knob fresh ginger - minced
6          garlic cloves - minced
½ cup   soya sauce
3          spring onions - thinly sliced
¼ cup   rice wine vinegar
1tsp      crushed black pepper
1tbsp    sesame oil
1kg       organic pork ribs
1tsp      chilli flakes (optional)

VINAIGRETTE
2tbsp   toasted coriander seeds - cracked
1tbsp    shallot - minced
1           unwaxed lemon - zest & freshly squeezed juice
2tbsp   apple cider vinegar
¾ cup  extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp    light runny honey
pinch   salt and pepper - to taste

TOMATO - MELON SALAD
500g   cherry tomatoes
1cup     watermelon / cantaloupe - sliced
6          sprigs coriander - stems and leaves minced


MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN

  1. Mix the onion, garlic, spring onions, coriander, ginger, sesame oil, chilli paste, soy sauce, coconut sugar and chilli flakes into a large baking tray. Plop the ribs into the paste and get your hands dirty, cover the ribs in the marinade. Cover the tray with cling film and refrigerate. Leave for at least 6 hours - I left mine for 24.
  2. When ready, heat the grill to high or use a charcoal BBQ if you have one. In the meantime, work on the salad. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and mix it in a large bowl with the sliced melon. Grab a jar or bowl for your vinaigrette. I like building my vinaigrettes in a jar so I could close the lid and give it a really good shake without worrying about spillage. 
  3. Toast the coriander seeds (1 - 2 mins) careful not to burn them. We just want to release the oils. Crush them in a pestle or mortar or just with the bottom of a frying pan on a surface and put it in the jar. Add the minced shallots, vinegar, zest of one lemon and then squeeze the lemon juice into the jar. Add a decent pinch of salt and then give the mix a bit of a shake to dissolve. Add olive oil and cracked fresh black pepper, close the lid and give it a really good shake. Add the honey, taste and season to your liking. Mix the vinaigrette into the melons and tomatoes and toss.
  4. Now that your grill is hot, use tongs and put the ribs onto the grill. The ribs will need roughly 5 minutes on each side or cook for 1 - 2 minutes more if you like it very well done. Each time you flip the rib, dip it back into the marinade as a glaze so that each time the rib goes back to the grill, the coconut sugar is caramelised and gives the rib a lovely glossy glaze. Continue repeatedly until the ribs are cooked. I like my ribs a little bit charred but cook it to your taste.
  5. Before your last batch of ribs are ready. Pour the marinade into a little pan and heat on medium heat to evaporate and cook the marinade until it starts to bubble and become a bit thick. Lower the heat down and serve as a sauce.
  6. Serve your ribs with the salad spooned onto the side and enjoy!
 

Paleo Moroccan Zaalouk

I was over at Martine's (my boyfriend's mother who's an amazing chef) last weekend and she made this lovely Moroccan mezze which blew me away. I was roasting a leg of lamb for Sunday lunch and couldn't think of a better side dish than this but would like to add a spin to it and remove sugar to make sure it's still paleo. Zaalouk is essentially a smoked aubergine, tomato and herb mash with a punch of garlic and spices. Beautiful as a side with any meat or as a dip.



INGREDIENTS
serves 3 - 4 as a side dish

4 - 5     small aubergines (3 large)
4           garlic cloves - crushed
          lemons
500g    tomatoes (around 7 - 8)
2tbsp   light olive oil
2tbsp   extra virgin olive oil
1tsp      sweet paprika powder
1tsp      ground cumin
1tsp      Piment d'Espelette (optional)
1tbsp    light honey
bunch  coriander - finely chopped
bunch  flat leaf parsley - finely chopped
pinch   sea salt
pinch   black pepper


MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN

  1. Heat some water in a pot and drop the tomatoes in once the water is boiling. Spoon them out after 5 minutes and leave them to cool before you handle them. Once cool, peel the tomatoes, the skin should come off easily from the blanching in hot water. Spoon out the tomatoes' seeds and wet pulp and chop the remaining flesh. Put aside. 
    ★ Tip ★ I don't throw away the pulp. I keep it in a bowl and re-use them the next day, it went into my Paleo Bolognese with courgetti. 
  2. Drop the chopped tomatoes into a frying pan on medium heat without oil. The goal is for all the liquid in the tomatoes and aubergines to evaporate so that we have a nice paste at the end. Add the crushed garlic and then leave the tomatoes to emit their juices and evaporate.
  3. Whilst we're waiting for the tomatoes to dry out, let's prepare the aubergines. Now there are a few options: 1. Gas hob / Charcoal fire: is the best method. Place a metal grill on top of the gas hob and char your aubergines over the fire. 2. Oven grill: place your aubergines on a baking tray and char it under your oven's grill on the top shelf. 3. Grill pan: Heat your grill to high then char your aubergines (I have a conductive hob so this was my option). However you do it, charring your aubergines' skins till it's black is important to giving your Zaalouk its scrumptious smokey flavour. Burn baby burn!
  4. Once charred, place your hot aubergines in a plastic bag (or a sealed papillote of baking paper if you're worried about BPA toxins). I just placed baking paper over and folded under my grill pan to create a completely closed envelope. This will allow the heat to steam and cook the aubergines further. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Now back to the tomatoes, hopefully most of the juice would have evaporated. Add the paprika and light olive oil. Time to go play a level of Monument Valley whislt you wait for your aubergines to steam and cool down (aubergine sauna!).
  6. Remove the aubergines and scrape / peel off the charred skin. Chop the aubergines into small pieces and add them to your tomato paste.
  7. Mix in the Piment d'Espelette, chopped coriander and parsley. Keep on stirring the mix over medium heat until all the juices from the vegetables have evaporated.
  8. Take off the heat. Squeeze the juice of two fresh lemons and add the honey. The honey will help cut the acidity and bitterness of cooked tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (don't be too careful with the salt, it brings out all the flavours).
  9. Eat warm or leave to rest in the fridge until it's cold. Serve.


★  MAKE IT YOUR OWN  ★
I'm Thai so I love my spices. I add some dried chilli flakes into my Zaalouk to give it a kick. I think that if you add some finely chopped shallots it might also give it a slightly crunchy texture. Remember to always have fun and eat clean!

 

Paleo Coconut Pancakes

So it's a very, very grey Saturday in London this morning. One of those days when you're really craving a waffle drenched in syrup, or a buttery french toast piled high with honey and toasted almond flakes. Well it's summer and cheat meals are rare in this household.

So, I'm sharing a paleo breakfast favourite of mine that'll brighten up your day with some protein (egg), good fats (coconut oil, coconut yoghurt), fibre (flax seeds) and a dose of potassium for your muscles. I don't like adding any sugar or Stevia to my recipes (no honey or maple syrup) but please feel free to satisfy your sweet tooth. I usually sub it out with fruits (in this case a mashed banana, it's all I had in the fridge) or the toppings can also be exchanged for strawberry wedges or a sprinkling of blueberries, kiwis - anything!

These are super filling, thanks to the egg and coconut flour, and will keep you full for about 4 hours on a lazy weekend morning. This goes wonderfully with a warm cup of matcha.

From the top!

From the top!

Gooooood morninggg!

Gooooood morninggg!

INGREDIENTS
makes 1 pancake 

Pancake
1           large organic egg
½         vanilla pod seeds (or vanilla extract)
1tbsp   coconut flour
1tsp     milled flax seeds (optional)
1tbsp   coconut oil

Toppings (optional)
You can use any fruit you like (berries, peaches, kiwis, etc.) or pile it with honey / maple syrup
½         banana
1tsp     cinnamon powder
1tsp     cocoa nibs
2tbsp  coconut yoghurt (I use Coyo Vanilla)


MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN

  1. Put a non-Tefal frying pan (read about non-teflon) or cast iron skillet on medium heat and chuck in the coconut oil
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla seeds / extract, coconut flour and flax seeds until smooth and incorporated
  3. Pour the batter onto your frying pan into a circular shape (or a pancake mould if you're pedantic)
  4. Whilst you're leaving the pancake to cook on one side (roughly 2 mins per side) work on your toppings. Mash the banana with a fork, and mix it in with some coconut yoghurt. If you like the yoghurt a bit more runny, add a dash of almond milk to loosen it up. Mix it up.
  5. Flip your pancake - make sure it's not burning!
  6. Once it's a lovely shade of golden brown, put on a plate, pile your banana coconut yoghurt topping along with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cocoa nibs

★  GIVE YOURSELF A TREAT  ★
For an indulgent day, make two or three pancakes per person, then stack them up with a layer of coconut yoghurt topping in between - it'll look like a shortcake!

 

Embracing the Asian in me - Duck & Rice

I was thoroughly excited to finally nab a table at Alan Yau's new venture Duck & Rice - a Cantonese pub. He's very cheekily chosen to open the place right next to his previously beloved venue Yauatcha (I mean, really right behind it). Not only that, you will find some of Yauatcha's stars (see below for Scallop Shu Mai and Venison Puffs). The venue is like a mish mash of the inside of distillery - with brightly polished shiny copper vats serving a variety of awesome beers - with modern Chinese and Turkish patterns scattered throughout what seemed to be an English pub. It doesn't get more Alan Yau than this.

So here's the rundown, we only had a few casual dishes as I was catching up with a gorgeous girl friend - not scoffing down food with my partner in crime. On that note, the place is perfect for catching up with a group of friends, or on a date - but not the first date.

DIM SUM STARTERS

The Scallop Shu Mai (£8.20) were a bit dryer and less succulent than when I remember from Hakkasan and Yauatcha. But the recipe is the same. It's still amazing (and piping hot!) bite into these little beauties gradually but not quite the perfect, plump little parcels you'd find in their original homes. So for 3 pieces at £8.20, only hit them up if you've got a craving.

The Vension Puffs (£4.80) are to die for. They're perfect. With sweet stewed venison meat wrapped in warm layers of buttery flakes and a tiny bit of a caramelised glaze with sesame seeds on top. Luscious.

THE DUCK 

We got the half duck and it was (half) great, which is normal. So you can see from the photo that half the duck looks slightly different from the other. Well, the part that was cut from the breast/leaner side of the duck is perfectly crispy with a small layer of fat then some succulent meat served on sauce that isn't too overpoweringly sweet (ie: Chinatown). The part from the other side however is a bit fattier, the meat was wonderfully cooked and tasty but lacked the dry crispy skin. But all in all, the duck was a sweet, greasy fix for the carnivore in you.  The jasmine rice is faultless, cooked to a dry and slightly al dente perfection.

My picture does not do this duck justice.

I felt guilty and also ordered the steamed aubergines so we had some veggies in us. The pro: it was melt in your mouth perfection. The con: it was not so healthy.

THE DESSERTS 

They were classically Chinese. We ordered Sesame Dumplings, because I'm on a hunt for the best ones in London, and were given some Egg tarts (Pastel de nata). The sesame dumplings (ground toasted black sesame with sugar wrapped in a glutinous mochi paste and then covered in ground peanuts) were not bad. Nothing amazing either though. The dough was not particularly thin and there wasn't enough toasted slightly bitter flavour in the sesame filling inside to make it an excellent one.

The Egg Tarts steal the show. The pastry had the same warm fluffy flakey perfection as the venison puffs and the egg custard filling has a light subtle eggy balance without being overly sweet. Get them tarts, they're warm out of the oven.

THE VERDICT 

Food 4 / 5
Ambience 4 / 5
Value 3.5 / 5

Food was lovely but not fantastic. But the menu is so varied and sprinkled with Chinese surprises that the Asian in me will keep coming back to try more and more. The ambience + decor was really cool, perfect for a night out with friends - especially if they love beer. Our bill with food and a bottle of water came up to £70 which wasn't the cheapest meal so value of money isn't the best but it's not bad either. Can't wait to try out the rest of the menu

Duck & Rice
90 Berwick Street, London W1F 0QB
020 3327 7888