Beef and Lamb

Ronald’s Lamb & Tomato Stew

Low Carb Lamb Stew
Low Carb Lamb Stew

Today is Valentine’s Day. It would also have been my dad’s 70th birthday…

I was 18 years old when it happened. We never figured out what killed him – he had the doctors, specialists and pathologists scratching their heads while he was in ICU and my brother and I didn’t have Google back in 1997 to perform our own Dr Google diagnosis to try and challenge them. A bizarre, unidentifiable bacteria attacked his lungs and he was dead within weeks of getting a blocked nose. We all thought it was a bad case of the flu: it wasn’t. He had made a recent business trip to central Africa, but nothing identifiable came up on the pathology results after a battery of tests. It was – and still is – a medical mystery..

My worst birthday was four years ago when I realised I had lived longer on this earth without him than with him. Too bizarre a thought.. I can still smell him! I remember every detail of every pore on his skin, his hairline, the gap in his teeth, his laugh, his sense of humour, his integrity…… and his love of people, Roy Orbison, Elvis, wine .. and food! I could write a whole book about this incredible man who I like to refer to as the Wind Beneath My Wings.

Most (winter) Saturday mornings while my brother and I were still asleep, my dad, Ronald (who was a successful banker) would go to the shops and stock up ingredients for his famous stove-top potije (a stew in South Africa). He had swept and mopped the kitchen floors and had mowed the lawn before my brother and I even opened an eyelid. By 10am, the smell of his stew slowly cooking away in the kitchen – along with the smell of fresh bread rolls – would lure us like lanky, hungry teenagers into the kitchen. Of course, we weren’t allowed in because the floors were still wet! Later in the day, while he sat devouring his Saturday newspapers and settled into watching rugby or cricket on TV, sipping his G&T or dry white wine, the smell of the stew wafted intensely throughout the house, assaulting all our senses. If we were careful enough, we could tip-toe into the kitchen and lift the heavy lid of the cast-iron pot with a tea towel; carefully open the brown packet of breadrolls and dip one into the stew sauce… HEAVEN! But it was always followed by a loud “I can hear you! Leave it alone, don’t touch it!“. LOL.. Oh daddy, he had eyes on the back of his head, just as he warned my boyfriends! 

We loved each other intensely, Dad and I. He knew how much I loved him and I knew he was proud of me. I could grieve (and still do) without guilt, what-if’s or should-have’s. I am not sure many people can say that when they lose someone.

Many years later, when I tried to recreate my dad’s lamb stew, I phoned and emailed all my uncles, my dad’s friends, my brother: ‘can you remember what Dad did? What recipe did he follow?‘ – no one could help me. He didn’t follow a recipe. He simply threw it all in a cast-iron pot and it tasted good because he made it with such love, passion and patience.

My recipe below will never be as good as Dad’s .. not even close. It’s just a simple lamb stew in a tomato-based sauce with some vegetables I remember mopping up. He is probably looking down, commenting on things I left out.. but I (now as a chef) can look back up and say, “oh but Daddy, you forgot about the Maillard Reaction …” LOL! Yes, I added few cheffy tips along the way to get the best results. In my own limited capacity, this is the only way I know how to honour him. Thank you for reading.

(Recipe below serves 5-6 people. Macros calculated on a 300g / 10.5oz serving. Enjoy served over Cauliflower Mash, Cauliflower Rice or Keto Rosemary Rolls, as pictured.

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Low-carb Cabbage and Mince Rolls

Keto Cabbage Mince Rolls
Keto Cabbage Mince Rolls

Get a little creative with ground beef and savoy cabbage and spend some time making these attractive little parcels. I used the full yield of the Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe for this dish, so be sure to have that prepped and ready before beginning. (You could, alternatively use 500g / 18oz of passata, but I want to encourage you to make your own sauces so you know exactly what has gone into them.) One serving = 2 parcels (as pictured) so this recipe will happily feed a family of 4.

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Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Keto Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Keto Lamb Shoulder

Lamb is my absolute favourite meat! As previously posted, Funnyman makes the best ribs, but when we are feeling fancy or entertaining guests on a lazy, winter Sunday afternoon, I love to whip up a slow-roasted shoulder. The best part of this recipe isn’t the lovely roasted tomatoes that are served alongside it (which perfectly cut through the fat with its plump sweetness), but the deeply-rich, thick 100% keto-friendly gravy that I make with the juices and cooked down onions. Check out the M&L Side Dishes section for some ideas for additional accompaniments this Christmas…

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Quick-and-Easy Low-carb Phở Bo

Low carb Pho Bo
Low carb Pho Bo

Backpacking around Vietnam with Funnyman in 2010 was one of our best holidays ever! I recall having phở (pronounced “fuh” – not “foo” or “foh”) for the first time in Hanoi – and I was blown away! I happily slurped it down numerous times as we travelled from north-to-south over those 3 weeks! Now, almost 10 years later, and hardcore into my low-carb lifestyle, I wanted to relive those awesome memories so I created a quick 15-minute phở which may not be like granny’s authentic bowl of phở on the Hanoi street corner, but its damn close! I used the (konjac / shirataki) ‘noodles‘ from the UK company Eat Water’s range to make it low-carb friendly. You will love it! Let me know how you get on..

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Peppered Lamb Ribs

Peppered Lamb Ribs

If anyone in the Berkshire area is wondering why they can’t source lamb ribs at The Trose (over summer when they stock it), its because Funnyman and I empty the shelves on every visit and stock up our chest freezer to last the winter. It must be our favourite item on the braai and we enjoy it many nights. Funnyman is the one who cooks them, while I sit back and sip my G-and-(sugar free)-T – mostly yelling instructions on the sidelines much to his annoyance. He likes them with this creamy mustard-mayo dip (included in the macros), but I love them just as they are…

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Low-carb Chili con Carne

Keto Chili Con Carne

A comforting bowl of goodness. Funnyman gets giddy with excitement when I whip up a pot of my chili. After we switched to a Keto Lifestyle, I adjusted my recipe to exclude the red kidney beans, but the overall flavour and heartiness has not been compromised, and he loves it just the same. I made this dish often in LBK (Life Before Keto), and even then we ate it with a spoon straight out of our bowls, sans tortillas, rice or any accompanying carbs, so this wasn’t a major adjustment for us. This recipe yields 3 servings, so if it’s just you and your loved one, there should be enough the next day for whoever gets to the fridge and Calls It first. If you are cooking for more people, use the facility on the recipe plugin to double it up. Its a perfect meal to break a fast if you are IF. (The calculated 13g carbs per serving include all the toppings. You could shave off more carbs by eliminating the toppings, or stretching the pot of chili between 4 people.)

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Thai Steak Salad

Thai Steak Salad
Thai Steak Salad

I woke up particularly well this morning. Mr Higgins* snuggled right up against me the entire night, and I woke up with his little nose breathing small amounts of snot onto my cheek: bliss. It certainly beats one Winter morning last year while still half asleep, in an effort to cover my shoulders with the duvet, my hand slipped and I punched myself in the face. Yeah, I would take a bit of Scottie snot any day.

Off topic, apologies… Having been to Thailand twice in my travels, I think its fair to say how incredible and fresh the flavours are, and there is a strong Asian influence in this salad. It is also 100% keto, fast, simple and satisfying!

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South African Biltong.. the way to my heart

South African Biltong

In case it hasn’t been clear (with all my talk of braaing!), I am living in the UK now, but I was born and raised in sunny South Africa. 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) and my favourite keto snack ever! There are numerous stores around the UK that sell excellent biltong, but nothing beats the satisfaction of making your own. 

You could probably fashion your own biltong maker (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 or make your own, but Freddy Hirsch has perfected it! Step-by-step pics below.

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