Bringing a “plate” to my friend’s BBQ.

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My friend Kim hosted the second BBQ of the season on Sunday. She’s always a great host but has no confidence in the kitchen and can barely work her own oven, let alone sharpen a knife. Bearing this in mind, I was all too happy to bring a couple of salads along when she asked and took the opportunity to cook things that might be a bit higher in fat than I’d usually make. I made myself feel better about this with the knowledge that they were going to be shared around so, Alex and I wouldn’t be finishing them by ourselves.

Mixed Grain Salad
100g red quinoa, rinsed
100g white quinoa, rinsed
100g French green lentils, rinsed
100g pearl barley, rinsed
30g butter
2 cloves garlic. crusned
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
25g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
25g chopped almonds
1/4 bunch mint
1/4 bunch parlsey
2 spring onions, sliced
Sherry dressing
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
120ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

For the mixed grain salad, place red and white quinoa in separate saucepans, cover with cold water to come about 1cm over quinoa. Cover and bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook lentils in a saucepan of water for 15 – 20 minutes until tender, then drain. Toast pearl barley in a dry frying pan until golden, then transfer to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until tender, then drain.

Melt butter in a small saucepan and when foaming add garlic, thyme, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds and cook until toasted. Remove from heat and cool. Coarsely chop mint and parsley. Combine grains, seeds and almonds in a bowl with chopped herbs.

For dressing, combine vinegar, sugar and oil in a small bowl and whisk well. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine. Garnish with spring onions.

Serves 6

Dinner

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Dinner

Do you think there might be tumeric in this? Dinner is Neil Perry’s Tagine of King Prawns, Chickpeas, Almonds and Cherry Tomatoes served with cous cous and green beans. Delish and if you’re trying to lose weight like me, leave the oil out of the Chermoula. It will be fine.

Dinner

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Dinner

Along with the chicken I served Stuffed Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce and some steamed greens on the side. The eggplant is another Neil Perry recipe and absolutely stunning. I adjusted things a bit as they only had large eggplants at the supermarket and I can’t bring myself to deep-fry things while I’m trying to lose weight. I also omitted the cornflour which it didn’t really need.

I ended up roasting my larger stuffed eggplants for an hour at 180ºC under foil and then at 230ºC with no foil for 20 minutes to crisp up the meat a little. This was so delicious, much better than I ever expected. I strongly advise you to click on the pic for the recipe.

Dinner

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Dinner

Marinated Chicken Breast with Spicy Tomato Sauce. I adapted this from a Neil Perry recipe for barbequed wings as they had none at the supermarket and rain put a stop to my BBQ plans. Instead I marinated the breasts, seared them and put them in the oven. Still pretty tasty. As usual, I left out all the oil and only used a spray in the pan first. Click the pic for Neil’s recipe.

Dinner

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Dinner

Frank Camorra’s Roast Carrot and Quinoa Salad. This was just what I needed last night. I absolutely loved it. As usual, I cut down on the fat by not dressing the rocket and only used a spray of extra virgin olive oil to dress the quinoa and roast the carrots and onion. Click the photo if you’d like the recipe. There’s also another nice salad using freekeh on the same page though it’s probably too high in fat for the diet I’m on.

Dinner

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Dinner

Stavroula’s Stuffed Red Capsicums from Kylie Kwong’s book “It Tastes Better”. These tasted great, the filling was super yummy and tasted fab on its own. The tops get a little charred during the roasting process but the capsicums are juicy and really sweet. I used 1/2 cup brown rice instead of what she recommended to lessen the carbs and I don’t think the dish really needed all the rice she used anyway. As usual, a spray of olive oil was all I used on the peppers and filling to hold back on the fat.

I paired the capsicums with a rocket, mint, parsley, spring onion, cucumber, cherry tomato and feta (30g) salad with a few marjoram sprigs and a grind of pepper. It went really well.

Lunch

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Lunch

Late lunch today but it was really tasty. I made Karen Martini’s Spring Minestrone with Rocket and Basil Pesto. I had to modify the pesto quite a bit to reduce the fat. I used 50g basil, 50g rocket, 30g parsley, 30g pine nuts, 10g parmesan, 1 clove garlic, salt flakes, pepper and 2tbsp olive oil and then just a brief spray of olive oil in the pot before adding the veges. My trainer would kill me if I didn’t do this as I’m trying to lose a few kgs before summer. Click the photo for Karen’s recipe.

Lunch

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Lunch

A 15 minute run plus a Pump Class followed by Neil Perry’s Seared Salmon with Cucumber and Mint Salsa. I only used a couple of tbsp of olive oil for the salsa instead of the 100ml he suggested. I know it’s a good fat but there’s no need to go crazy. Click on the photo if you’d like the recipe.

Lunch

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Lunch

In my endeavour to eat more Cruciferous vegetables I found I had a lot of left over cabbage in the fridge. I thought a brown rice stir-fry would do the trick and it was quite tasty.

Next time, I might add some of the spring onions and ginger to the eggs before cooking along with some sea salt or tamari just to give the omelette a bit more oomph. I saw Kylie Kwong do that in a cooking show once and it seemed like a nice idea. Here’s the recipe for what I ate today if you’d like to try it.

Fried Brown Rice with Chicken and Cabbage
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
Canola oil spray
4 free range eggs, lightly beaten, using only 2 of the yolks
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 tbsp finely diced ginger
250 g mixed variety mushrooms, sliced
550 g chicken thigh fillets, finely sliced
2 pinches raw sugar
2 tbsp shao hsing wine
4 cups steamed brown rice
1/2 cabbage finely shredded
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup fresh bean sprouts + extra for garnish
4 spring onions, finely sliced + 2 extra for garnish
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp tamari or light soy sauce
coriander leaves
roasted salt and Sichuan peppercorns (Place 3 tbsp salt flakes +1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns in fry pan. Roast until fragrant and grind to a powder. This is way more than you’ll need for this recipe, keep the rest in the cupboard for later.)
lemon juice

Method
Lightly spray a wok with Canola oil and when it’s hot, pour in beaten eggs and leave for 10 seconds then gently run a spatula through the middle and fold the egg mixture over itself until it is barely cooked. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Turn burner off and lightly spray the wok again with Canola oil, making sure there are no small bits of egg left to burn. Stir-fry the onion, mushrooms and ginger for 1 minute. Then, add the chicken and keep stir-frying for another minute or until it’s no longer pink. Sprinkle in the sugar and stir through, then add the wine and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients including the egg, except for the extra spring onions, extra bean sprouts, coriander leaves, Sichuan pepper and salt and lemon juice. Stir-fry, breaking up the egg into smaller pieces until well combined and heated through.

Transfer to a bowl and garnish with the extra spring onions, bean sprouts and coriander leaves. Sprinkle with roasted Sichuan pepper and salt to taste. Squeeze over some lemon juice.