Leek, Bacon & Mushroom Pasta

I have recently done plenty of baking posts, but that is purely for Funnyman’s benefit. I rarely eat carbs to be honest. I have blogged about shirataki noodles before – they are the bomb! Made out of the konjac root, the company Eat Water has (over time) perfected a noodle-looking food that is so low in carbs and calories, I can fool myself into thinking I am enjoying a good pasta. They are high in fibre, very filling and even look like the real thing. Available in ‘rice’, ‘noodles’, ‘penne’ and ‘fettucine’ (my favourite), they are indeed a god-send for those on keto / low-carb / LCHF diets.

I love big, bold flavours that slap me right through the face. Craving something rich a few nights ago, I used everything I had in the fridge to make this deeply-satisfying ‘pasta’ – which happens to be less than 8g carbs per serving. (That is low for anyone counting macros). I have ticked the pasta category too, because maybe carbs aren’t an issue for you… Bon appetit!

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Mahoosive Bacon & Maple Cookies

What’s better than cookies? Bacon! So, I combined the two and made giant cookies using maple syrup. It’s not very clear in the pic, but they are the size of my hand! Stored in an airtight container, they should last a good couple of days. They also make great gifts, so they are perfect for the upcoming holidays!

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Banana, Oat and Walnut Muffins

Funnyman regularly brings home bananas – but then doesn’t eat them. “Oh look Monnie, the bananas are turning brown. I guess this means you will just have to make Banana Bread.” He thinks I haven’t caught onto this, but I learned plenty in wife-training school. Instead of bread, I made muffins this time (added walnuts for crunch and oats for additional fibre), then froze the batch! Now, when he wants a super quick breakfast and I am too lazy to prepare one, he can simply pop a frozen one in the microwave (on high for 1 minute) while I sleep in… #cleverWifey

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Duckies for duckies …

duck cookies

This was my second attempt at baking and icing biscuits. I bought this cookie cutter in the first few months of working at the Fat Duck (circa 2012) and only recently have I had the courage to use them, bake biscuits and ice them! The perfect opportunity presented itself recently when my lovely colleagues at the Fat Duck hosted a McMillan Cancer Charity Coffee morning. Since I have returned to the team on a part-time basis, I took these along on the day as a lovely reminder that once a duck, always a duck..  : )

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Scottie Biscuits

Scottie Biscuits

I made a batch of Mr Higginses! I am a newbie to baking and frightened to the core of icing biscuits. But, there is a first time for everything so I gave it a go. I needed a recipe for biscuits that don’t spread when baking (to maintain the clear shapes when baking) and eventually found one that got fantastic feedback on a local UK blog. I won’t publish the recipe here (because that’s not cool), but I will link to it: The Pink Whisk. Its a lovely, simple recipe and the comments were spot-on – its great. The writer mentions the pastry doesn’t need chilling, but I prefer working with chilled pastry, so I placed the rolled-out dough on a tray and left it in the fridge for 30 minutes before using my Scottie cookie cutter to press out the shapes. 

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Doggie Biscuits

I am a dog mom. I love my beasts more than biltong and the Crime channel. Mr Higgins is our Scottish Terrier and flew to UK with us from South Africa. He is a punk. Totally independent and quite aloof. Maggie Mae is our little West Highland Terrier rescue. She only has one ear (she lost it in a fight before we rescued her) and is the most lovable and dainty little thing. She snores like a grown man and farts unashamedly. These are our babies and Funnyman and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A few days ago, I wondered what it would be like to make biscuits for them using meat. Liver and rice always goes down a treat, so I experimented whipping them into a wet mixture and simply combining with rice flour and some other high-fibre dog-friendly ingredients I had kicking about, before baking in the oven. I made two batches before I was happy with the recipe. And yes, I did taste them (rank), but the dogs love them and that is all that counts! The recipe makes 3 batches, so divide the dough into 3 equal parts and freeze two of them. Let me know what your pooches think!

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Biltong… the way to my heart

Look away vegetarians. This is why I could never do it. Those that know me will note that this post is way overdue. Biltong: The way to my heart since I first chewed on it while teething as a baby (how teething is dealt with in South Africa). My life changed a few years ago when my friends Danni and Phil showed me step-by-step all that I needed to make it at home – I was so happy and excited at the simplicity of it, especially since I live in England now. (Having said that, there are numerous South African shops around UK selling excellent biltong and droewors.

Biltong is referred to as beef jerky everywhere else in the world, but nothing compares to the the authentic flavour of proper South African biltong – that spice mix packed with all-important coriander seeds. Biltong can be a lean, high-protein treat and an ideal snack option, (but sshhhhh… I like it fatty!) That is entirely up to you and the cut of meat you buy. Depending on the amount of time you hang it for, you can enjoy it moist or dry. (I like it moist.)

I have only ever used one type of shop-bought biltong maker, and it was a SUNBEAM. You could probably fashion your own one (box, light, fan) but my trusty one has never let me down. It gets used a lot and has a permanent spot on my kitchen counter. Regarding the spices, go ahead and try several. Again, you could make your own, but why would you when Freddy Hirsch has perfected it? And the best part… Funnyman is still on his “mostly vegetarian” adventure, which means more biltong for me! (And a few non-spiced pieces for the pooches, of course.) See my step-by-step pics when you continue reading..

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Banana Bread

Cooking and baking didn’t come naturally to me. I don’t have those lovely stories all the foodies nowadays have. I didn’t grow up at my grandmother’s knees watching her knead dough or help her measure flour while it dusted on my tiny head. My food ‘story’ is just not that dreamy. While I always loved and enjoyed food (who doesn’t?), I only really started cooking – with no guidance – in my teens. And badly at that! I liken it to playing squash. I flipping LOVE playing a game of squash, but I am embarrassingly bad at it. Does it stop me? No. Do I continue? Yes. Cooking as a young adult was the same thing. I threw seriously dodgy, flopped dinner parties for my friends in my early twenties. Did it stop me? No. Did I continue? Hell, yeah. I pursued the obsession and worked hard to learn, absorb and practice as much as I could.

It was only at 31 years old (and well into my chosen trade which was website design) that I had my mid-life – and convinced Funnyman I needed to shut down my design business and focus on cooking. I went to culinary school for a year and got my formal qualification. Little did I know about the real world and my new chosen career. Moving into a new industry, 15 years older than your colleagues is not for the brave – you simply have to work harder than everyone else to prove yourself. Now, after some years of experience and knowledge, I can create a recipe and make it truly fantastic. (Although I never stop learning and still feel 10 years behind!) So, here is a dead-easy one for you… This is a 100% fool proof Banana Bread that you can bake and give as a gift, take to a cake bake – or simply plough through over a lazy long weekend. If you are feeling extra-naughty, butter it while still warm and drizzle with maple syrup. 

(My ouma does bake kick-ass aniseed rusks! It is one of my best childhood memories, and I am saving it for a later post)

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Spicy Roasted Chickpea & Corn Snacks

Funnyman loves these fat-free super-spicy snacks to crunch on while watching sport on a lazy Saturday afternoon (even better when chased down with a cold beer!) The key is to check on them regularly while they are roasting in the oven, giving the tray a good shake-and-rotate every now and again to ensure even roasting. It’s hard to put a time on it, you may have to just steal one every time to test and remove from the oven only when they are suitably roasted and crunchy. Once cooled, they will store well in an airtight container for a few days, but it’s unlikely that they will last that long (being so moreish-and-all)…

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Chia Seed Pot with Mango & Pistachios

I am so thrilled to have stumbled on chia seeds. I often just skip breakfast because it’s too overwhelming to whip up something and ensure it ticks all the boxes. High-fibre, low-carb, low-fat AND easy to wolf down while applying make-up? Well, here it is. The chia seeds are soaked overnight in almond milk to soften and swell and the next morning I simply add whatever fruit and nuts I have on hand. I occasionally add a pinch of Stevia and vanilla essence, but most of the time it simply needs fruit for sweetness and nuts for crunch! 

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