Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Beef Jerky

Until yesterday I didn't know the difference between beef jerky and biltong, but it seems it's all in the vinegar. And as I didn't use any, that makes this beef jerky.

Making your own jerky in a dehydrator makes it syn free unlike the bought variety. You also know exactly what went in it – no preservatives or artificial flavourings. 


This is what you need:

A thick rump steak
soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
chilli flakes

You can of course use other flavourings, such as paprika, herbs, coriander etc.

Put the steak in the freezer for at least an hour to firm up. Using a mandolin on its finest setting, cut the beef in very thin slivers. Use the other ingredients to marinate the meat for at least an hour. Place on one or more trays in the dehydrator and 'cook' for several hours at 50°C. Mine took nearly eight hours, but it will all depend on how thin and wet your meat is. It should be fairly stiff and quite chewy. 


Plum Custard Tart

Tarts are no longer out of bounds on the Slimming World plan since I discovered buckwheat. Brilliant little grains, with a nutty taste and a crunchy texture – and syn free. Bring it on!

Serves 4-6
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

* Providing you use the plums as your Healthy Extra B

½ cup buckwheat
2 eggs
4 plums
1 tub fat free plain yogurt
sweetener to taste

Spray a flan dish with Fry Light. Dry toast the buckwheat until browned and crunchy and use to line the flan dish. Quarter the plums and remove the stones. Place on top of the buckwheat. Whip up the eggs and add the yogurt and sweetener to taste. Pour over the plums in the flan dish. Bake at 175°C for ca 30 minutes until firm and set. Leave to cool and slice. 


Vegetarian Curry

As we stayed out all afternoon today and didn't get back until after 19:30, it was just as well I had planned to serve up leftovers this evening. Adding a tin of mixed beans and some spices to the ratatouille, I turned it into a vegetable curry. However, I will set out how you would make it from scratch below. 


Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

½ courgette, chopped
½ aubergine, chopped
1 tomato, cut into eight pieces
½ red pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
125ml passata
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp chilli flakes
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
tin of Indian mixed bean salad in water (Morrison's)

Sauté the onion in Fry Light for a few minutes, then add the courgette, aubergine and red pepper. Cook for a few more minutes. Add the tomato to the vegetables with the passata, mixed beans, bouillon powder, spices and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes or so, until the vegetables are done to your liking. Serve with rice.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Stewed Prunes

This now makes three dishes today that are new to me. Whereas Husband grew up with them, I am a stewed prune virgin. I really wasn't sure about the idea at all – I remember my mum eating tinned prunes when I was a child, and I used to think they were pretty disgusting then.

Next time (I am sure there will be a next time as I did enjoy them) I would serve it with more yogurt as I found the prunes a little too sweet for my liking. I added sweetener to the yogurt today, but next time I would omit that too as I am sure the tartness of the yogurt would counteract the sweetness of the prunes beautifully.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

* Providing you use the prunes as your Healthy Extra B

300g prunes
fat free plain yogurt
sweetener to taste

Place the prunes in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until thick and sticky. Serve in tall glasses with the yogurt. 

Alternatively, serve in bowls. This was the second time I made this dish.


Sea Bream with Ratatouille

I don't think I have ever made ratatouille at home in the 35 years we've been married, nor have I prepared sea bream. Two firsts in one dish! 


Serves 4
Syn Free on Extra Easy

4 sea bream fillets
1 large courgette, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 small aubergine, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes
250ml passata
2 tsp bouillon powder
pinch of sweetener
a few sprigs of fresh thyme

potatoes for mash

Sauté the onion in Fry Light for a few minutes, then add the courgette, aubergine and red pepper. Quarter the tomatoes, then cut each segment in half again. Add to the vegetables with the passata, bouillon powder and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes or so, until the vegetables are done to your liking.

Heat a pan and fry the bream fillets for a few minutes each side, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Boil and mash the potatoes.

Place a layer of mash on each plate, then a spoonful of ratatouille. Top with the fish and serve. 


Kale Crisps

Experiment number two with the dehydrator. This is as easy as it comes and the result was very good, and of course really healthy. 


Syn Free on Extra Easy

Take a packet of curly kale and spread the pieces out on one or more of the trays in the dehydrator. Pray with some Fry Light and sprinkle with salt. Set the thermostat to 50°C and leave for several hours until crisp. 


Redcurrant Layered Mess

I recently bought a food dehydrator to dry my chilli plants, and I am still exploring various foods I can dry in it, when someone suggested I could use it to make meringues. Great idea. My first attempt were not pretty, but they were feather light (and very brittle) and melted in your mouth. I might have to experiment with adding a pinch of salt, some bicarbonate of soda or vinegar to see if this makes a difference. 


Of course, you could use shop bought meringues and calculate the syns accordingly.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

*Providing you use the cream cheese as your Healthy Extra A

2 egg whites
½ cup sweetener
punnet redcurrants
sweetener to taste
150g reduced fat cream cheese
1 tbsp sweetener (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla essence

Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the sweetener. Place spoonfuls of the whipped whites on baking paper on the trays of the food dehydrator. 'Cook' for 5-6 hours at 50°C or until crispy and no longer soft. 


Meanwhile remove the redcurrants from their stalks and place in a bowl with sweetener to taste. Crush a few berries gently with a fork and stir well. Leave to infuse for at least an hour.

Break the meringues in small pieces and place in the bottom of two glasses. Top with the redcurrants. Mix the cream cheese with sweetener and vanilla essence and pipe or spoon on top of the redcurrants. 


Dirty Rice with Sausages

Dirty rice is a Cajun dish which is traditionally served with chicken livers. This is just a slight variation on a theme to fit in with the Slimming World Plan. 


Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

3 Joe's sausages, cooked and thinly sliced
1 cup rice
2 tsp bouillon powder
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
handful cooked green beans, chopped
1 tbsp (or to taste) paprika
½ cup chopped parlsey
salt and pepper

Boil the rice in stock made with the bouillon powder according to the instructions on the packet. Drain. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, pepper and celery in Fry Light until soft. Add the drained rice, sausages, vegetables, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir for a few minutes. If the mixture is a little dry, add some water. Stir in the parsley and serve. 


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Eplegrøt med Melk

This is one of the happy memories from childhood food in Norway – apple compote with milk. I was reading this morning how much goodness there is in the apple skin, so I left it on for this recipe – I think it would probably be nicer removing it. At my home when I grew up, we would crush up some rusks to serve with this too, but obviously that would add to the syn value.

Serves 3
3½ syns on Extra easy

3 large cooking apples, peeled and cored
sweetener and cinnamon to taste
3 tbsp corflour
milk to serve from your Healthy Extra A allowance 


Chop the apples finely and place in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Add sweetener and cinnamon to taste. Gently simmer until the apples are cooked through but still retaining some shape. Mix the cornflour with a little cold water, and add to the apples, stirring for a few minutes until it has thickened. The grøt should be served warm, not hot, with cold milk. 


Middle Eastern Duck Salad

It is very difficult to calculate the syn value for this dish, as Slimming World says that orange juice is 1½ syns for 100ml. I am not using orange juice as such in this recipe, just the juice that is left in the orange after segmenting it. I measured mine and from 3 large oranges, I got 50ml leftover juice – that is ¾ syn between three people. Not really worth worrying about. 


Serves 2-3
¼ syn on Extra easy (see note above)

2 duck breasts
1 tsp sumac
3 oranges
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
150g spinach
½ red onion
100g pomegranate
400g anya potatoes
a few prigs of fresh coriander
2 tsp rose water
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tbsp sweetener
2 tsp cumin seeds

Remove the skin and all visible fat from the duck breasts. Make several long slits in the flesh and sprinkle with sumac. Rub the spice in with your fingers and leave to marinate for an hour or so. Fry for around 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Thinly slice.

Dry fry the cumin seeds for a few minutes until fragrant, then coarsely grind using a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar.

Remove the skin and pith from the oranges and cut into segments. Squeeze the remainder of the pithy core into a bowl to get the rest of the juices out. Mix the orange segments with the parsley.

Mix the orange juice with the rose water, vinegar, sweetener and cumin seeds.

Cut the potatoes in fairly thick slices and boil until just cooked. Drain. Sauté in Fry Light over high heat until nicely browned. Add a tablespoon or so of the dressing and mix well, leaving for a couple of minutes to infuse the flavours.

Finely chop the red onion and mix with the pomegranate seeds and coriander.

Place the spinach in the bottom of a shallow salad bowl and add the potatoes, oranges, duck slices and pomegranate seeds, in that order. Drizzle over the rest of the dressing and serve. 


Egg Fried Rice with Chicken

The Slimming World version is every bit as good as the syn-laden original of this great Chinese take-away.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

1 cup basmati rice
1 carrot, finely chopped
handful green beans, finely chopped
3 stalk celery, finely chopped
5-6 spring onions, finely chopped
4 eggs
soy sauce to serve

Grill the chicken fillets for ca 10 minutes until cooked through. Finely chop.

Boil the rice in plenty of salted water, adding the carrots, celery and beans for the last few minutes. Drain.

Heat a pan with Fry Light and add all the ingredients except the eggs. Stir well. When the mixture is very hot, add the eggs. Stir to make sure the egg is well incorporated. Once the egg is cooked, serve immediately with soy sauce if using. 


Roasted Butternut Squash with Teriyaki Turkey

You can either use shop bought teriyaki sauce at 1½ syns per tablespoon, or make your own syn free version.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

250g turkey mince
1 butternut squash
2 small onions
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Chinese cooking wine
½ tsp sweetener

Cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Spray the cut sides with Fry Light and bake the squash for 30-40 minutes at 210°C.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion. Sauté the onion with the turkey until the onion is soft and the meat browned. Add the other ingredients and stir well. Serve with the squash. 


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Jacket Potato with Spicy Beans

It is sometimes a bit of a struggle to ensure that you have your one-third superfree with every meal. I love a jacket potato with beans, but how to get those Slimming World superfrees in? Easy! Onion, tomato and passata. Job done. And very nice it was too.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

2 large baking potatoes
1 tin baked beans
1 red onion
1 large tomato
200ml passata
1 tsp harissa paste

Bake the potato at 210°C for 90 minutes or until done to your liking. Finely chop the onion and sauté in Fry Light until soft. Add the beans, tomato, passata and harissa paste. Stir until heated through. Serve with the potato. 


Potato and Bacon Fry with Spicy Tomato Sauce

It was a long day, as we got stuck in the weekend rush hour traffic on the way back from New Forest, so we wanted just something quick and easy. Husband voted for kebab and chips, but I was full of resolution, and stuck to my Slimming World Plan.

Serves 1

2 slices bacon, all visible fat removed
75g cooked baby new potatoes, halved
1 onion, chopped

200ml passata
1 tsp bouillon powder
½tsp sweetener
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Fry the bacon and onion in Fry Light until the onion is soft. Add the potatoes and continue cooking until it is all nicely browned.

Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by combining the passata, bouillon powder, sweetener and Worcestershire Sauce in a small saucepan. Stir until all mixed and heated through. Serve with the Potato and Bacon. 

 Husband's kebab and chips did look good..... 

Vanilla Strawberries with Toffee Vanilla Sauce

This is a slight twist on the normal strawberries and cream (or rather yogurt) and makes a pleasant change.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

Punnet of strawberries
Sweetener to taste
Müllerlight Toffee Yogurt
fat free plain yogurt
vanilla essence

Hull and halve the strawberries (quarter them if they're large). Place in a bowl, add 1-2 tsp vanilla essence and sprinkle on sweetener. Leave to infuse for at least an hour.

Mix together the two yogurts and add sweetener (if desired) and vanilla essence to taste.

Serve with chopped mint leaves. 


Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

One of my all-time favourite salads, and making it this way, I can have it on the Slimming World plan. Use Morrison's Eat Smart Caesar Dressing for this salad, at only ½ syn per tablespoon.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

* without dressing, and providing you use the cheese and bread as your Healthy Extras

250 cooked chicken
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
lettuce leaves, shredded
3-4 spring onions
2 slices wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf
60g parmesan cheese shavings
100g pasta, cooked

Cut the bread into small cubes and dry fry in a saucepan until toasted and quite dry. Leave to cool completely.

Mix all the ingredients together and serve with the dressing.