Well, I say back on the road again … I mean back on the Eurostar again for a couple of days in Paris. I am going to be meeting up with various colleagues from continental Europe, and we’re going to follow our usual tradition of each bringing a food item from our home country for everyone to try.
Guess what? This little tradition was started by me, because I am such a greedy pig and love trying treats from other countries, but I do think everybody else enjoys it. We get to try lots of goodies which are unfamiliar to us (ranging from Pretzels from Frankfurt, to Empinadas from Madrid, to Lardo – basically pure fat – from Milan), and chat about why we like them. What’s not to like?
I haven’t decided what I am going to take yet. As I live in a Greek area of London, I thought I might take Baklava. However, I always feel like a bit of a cheat if I don’t make something, so perhaps I should bake some shortbread instead … we’ll see. I’ll update you next week, along with some pictures of the other deliciousness I get to sample.
It was great to spend a whole week at home and make the most of last weekend’s batch cooking frenzy. The John Torode pies were delicious and kept Andrew going most of the week with packed lunches. I’ll be writing up the recipe very soon.
I stuck to the healthier butternut squash soup for lunches, which does start to get boring by Friday … so boring that I succumbed and bought pie and chips from the staff canteen on Friday lunchtime! I enjoyed my granola and yoghurt for breakfast every day – topped with some blueberries for extra freshness. And this weekend I cooked from the Hairy Bikers ‘Food Tour of Britain’ book for my Cookbook Challenge: Cullen Skink and Lamb Barley Stew. Both were lovely and comforting dishes for the week’s winter misery.
I have finished reading a very interesting book about why healthy fats belong in your diet: The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. In a nutshell, the book explains why many scientists (backed by clinical research) believe that fat itself doesn’t make you fat – rather the sugar in carbohydrates which is the potential nutritional problem causing obesity in the modern world.
I’ve read a lot on this topic before and I do believe that being careful about how many carbs you eat is a good thing. So I have decided to make a conscious effort this week to cut down on my refined carbohydrates to see if it makes a difference to my energy levels (I think that might be a bit challenging in Paris if I’m honest, but I’ll see how I get on!).
So for the days I am in London this week I’ll be having scrambled eggs with ham and spinach for breakfast, followed by chicken stirfry for lunch. Dinners are going to be as follows:
- Monday – venison steak, mashed swede and leeks
- Tuesday – chicken with spinach, parmesan and pine nuts
- Wednesday & Thursday – Paris
- Friday – oven baked salmon with mashed cauliflower and peas
- This weekend will include some dishes from the next Cookbook Challenge: Gary Rhodes’ New British Classics.
I also made a batch of Deliciously Ella’s raw brownies. You can see the original recipe on her website but this is how I made them. They give a great chocolate-y hit and are extremely filling, so perfect as a dessert to satisfy your sweet cravings, or as a pick-me-up for a mid-afternoon slump. They aren’t cheap to make though!
150-200g raw mixed nuts (I used a mixture of cashews, hazelnuts and almonds), 1 pack of medjool dates (9 dates), 3 tbsp raw cacao powder, 2 tbsp pure maple syrup (you could use honey or golden syrup if you prefer)
Firstly blitz the nuts in a food processor until they are a fine crumb, and then add the dates and blitz again. Once combined add the cacao for a brief blitz, followed by the maple syrup. The mixture will suddenly come together in a clump and then you can press it into a lined loaf tin and refrigerate it for at least one hour before slicing into bars. I confess, I wolfed down two bars for my pudding – they were delicious!