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Christmas Eve Dinner for Two – gravy

And to get ahead…. I made gravy today too. I have to admit I have never made gravy before. So was slightly careful but still managed to add my personal touches.

ingredients:
1kg chicken wings
Turkey neck – just because it came with the bird
1 onion – cut into bit chunky pieces (I left the skin on as it adds a little bit of nutty flavour)
2 garlic gloves (not peeled but crashed with the knife)
2 carrots – cut into big pieces
3 celery – same cut into big pieces
1 table-spoon light brown sugar
Thyme
few leaves of Sage
Olive Oil
Port
1 tablespoon tomato puree
Salt and pepper
knob of butter
1 teaspoon (or if you like thick grave use more) corn flour to thicken

Direction:
Take a big tray, put chicken wings, Turkey neck, onion, celery, carrots, thyme, sage. Sprinkle the sugar and olive oil and give a good mix. Put in the pre-heated oven (160 degrees fan) for about 55-60 minutes. The mixture should be golden brown. Take out of the oven and put on the hob, medium heat. Add tomato puree and splash of port and corn flour (dissolved with a little bit of warm water). Give a good mix and add 1 litre of boiling water (from the kettle) and bash everything with the potato masher to release all the flavours trapped inside meat, veg etc. Simmer everything until thickened – it will take about 15-20 minutes. Then strain through the sieve making sure you push down with the potato masher to get all the final flavours into the gravy. Into the pan and put a knob of butter and season. Taste. Leave to cool and then off into fridge, ready to use. Just before serving heat the gravy and taste again. Might need to add some more seasoning.

Irina

Gravy in the making

Gravy - nearly there

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Posted by on 23 December, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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Christmas Eve Dinner for Two – Cranberry relish

Making things ahead is the key to enjoy an evening. So this morning I made Cranberry relish for our Christmas Eve Dinner for two. It is so simple and delicious (I had to taste it of course). I know I keep repeating myself but why buy ready-made when you can make at home in no time and you are in control what gets in and what stays out. When I find a recipe I like and try out, I always add my personal touches or adjust the ingredients to make it healthier. It almost like a OCD 🙂

Ingredients:
1 Orange
4cm ginger piece (I love ginger it gives such warm and spicy taste)
500g fresh cranberries (or you can use frozen)
50g caster sugar
1 tablespoon honey
splash of port wine
pinch of sea salt

Direction:
Wash the orange is warm water to get rid of the wax (unless you are using unwaxed one). Than use a zester to remove the skin of the orange (if you don’t have a zester, peel the orange with veg peeler (avoid white bitter pith) and then cut into Juliette strips). Put aside. Juice the orange and put into pan with the sugar. Bring to boil and simmer until you get caramelised thick sauce. In the meantime peel the ginger and grate. Also I used the zester to get some nice strips same as the orange. To give a bit of bite and texture.
Put orange peels and ginger into the pan to the caramelised orange juice/sugar with splash of port, bring to boil and add cranberries. Simmer everything until the cranberries start to pop and you have a nice almost like jammy texture, add honey and pinch of sea salt. Taste!
Done! Cool, put into jar into fridge, ready to use. Actually we will have some tonight with the home-made chicken liver pate. Can’t wait!

Irina

P.S. I found a jar today…. 🙂

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Posted by on 23 December, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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Home-made Chicken liver Pâté

Today I attempted for the first time to make chicken liver pâté. And I have to say it is delicious, super easy and so nutritious (when made right). To be honest I am not (was not) a big fan of pâté as it high in fat, sodium and who knows what else – when bought from the shop. But the other night I have seen a very easy recipe to make pâté at home, which I adjusted a bit – well made it a bit healthier.
Here we go:

Ingredients:
200g chicken liver ( I was surprised how cheap the stuff is, but next time I will try to get some from farmer. Free range chickens for me please)
50g of Turkey liver (just because it came with the bird)
2 garlic gloves – finely grated
good bunch of fresh basil
splash of Brandy
50g butter (real butter, not salted)
sea salt

Instruction:
Rinse the livers under cold water, just a little bit, make sure you don’t break the flesh as it is very fragile. If the liver has any visible fat, remove it. Also check if the gall bladder (is dark green) is still attached – if yes, remove it, otherwise the pâté will taste bitter. Put on the roasting tray laid with grease proof paper (I used re-usable non-stick sheet, which is perfect). sprinkle with grated garlic, basil and give a good splash of brandy. In the pre-heated oven (160 degrees fan) for 10-12 min. The liver should still be firm to touch but still pink in the middle. Cool a little bit, put in the food processor with butter and few fresh basil leaves. Give a good mix, taste, season. The pâté should be smooth (or you don’t need to mix it so smooth if you prefer it a bit rougher). Put in the jar (or I put in two mugs as I don’t have a jar). Leave to cool a little bit more before covering the pâté with melted butter (to stop pâté from oxidizing). Cover with cling film. In the fridge for few hours (or overnight). Done! Easy, healthy (yes butter is good for you if in moderation) and you know exactly what is in it!

You can serve it with cranberry relish or some caramelized orange pieces on a toasted bread (rye/spelt bread please, keep it healthy).

Bone appetite!

Did you know that animal livers (in this case chicken liven) are great source of Vitamin A and iron? Iron is an important mineral for athletes which transport oxygen in the blood and prevents fatigue.

Irina

chicken liver

 
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Posted by on 22 December, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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Christmas Eve Dinner for two – continued

As mentioned in my blog Christmas Eve Dinner for two, I was going to make roasted Turkey breast for main course. Well we didn’t find just Turkey breast, so went for whole Turkey instead! I butchered the Turkey to crown, which is now ready to be used on Christmas Eve. Legs and back are removed and in the freezer. That will give us two more meals. So all in all a good start and I am pleased that I don’t have to change the menu. But check out the bird – is big and lean (much leaner than chicken). Super excited to cook it (and of course eat it :)).

Irina

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Posted by on 22 December, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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Christmas Eve Dinner for Two

Christmas is not far away and we are all looking forward to spend some quality time with our families and friends….. and of course not to forget the Christmas Dinner. I have to admit that I am looking forward to Christmas dinner since August (I know, not normal and very wrong…. :)).

In German culture the main event/meal is on the Christmas Eve. I try to keep the tradition alive, so Paul and I have two big-ish meals two days in a row (but I think Paul likes it :)).

Several weeks ago I received Christmas Edition of BBC Good Food magazine which does have some excellent Christmas meal ideas – healthy and the not so healthy. I got super excited and started planning our Christmas Eve dinner. For long I couldn’t decide to go for roast Turkey or Beef. But finally I made my mind up – Turkey! As not only is it delicious but also will give us some left-overs (hopefully) for days after the “battle”.

In the last few days I have been thinking about what technique to use. I want to keep each ingredient “alive” and bring out the maximum flavour of each one. But also about the combination and nutrients. And bearing in mind that we will start our training for Bath Half marathon just after Christmas I don’t want us to gain unnecessary pounds only because it is Christmas! But still want to have a delicious meal.

Christmas Eve menu for two – plus left overs.

(No starter as the meal itself will be enough)

Main course:

Roasted Turkey – In this case I will only use the Turkey breast. Watching MasterChef Professional the other night gave me the idea to poach the meat before roasting (one of the chefs poached pigeon before roasting it). This allows the meat to keep the moisture inside. So instead of using extra butter as an outer layer to trap moisture in, I think poaching is a very good alternative and much healthier.
So my take on the Turkey (with skin on). Poach in water bath (carrots, celery, bay-leaves, peppers, onion) for 15 minutes. Once out of water bath, salt the Turkey. Stuff some Thyme and Lemon under the skin. Lay with rashers of bacon (for extra flavour). And put in the pre-heated oven.

Sweet potato and Carrot bake with bread crumbs (rye bread crumbs for me please, which I have already made)
Roasted Brussels with bacon
Home made gravy
Cranberry sauce
– home-made with fresh cranberries

Dessert:
Pink grapefruit and dark chocolate mouse on a bed of berries compot and crushed pistachios with honeycomb swirl.

Drinks:

Water – good old water.
Prosseco with fresh Orange juice
(Since we started to train harder we reduced our alcohol consumption to a very limited amount. One reason is that we do have long runs on the weekend and alcohol just doesn’t fit with it. And the other reason is that during my course work I learned that you get a whopping 7 calories from 1 gram alcohol! And those calories you can’t burn off by doing more exercises the liver breaks it down and transport straight into the blood stream.)

As you can see Christmas doesn’t mean dreading the meals and finding time to burn all the calories consumed. It is all about balanced diet, making the most of the fresh ingredients, keep it simple but still delicious and of course nutritious. Pre-planning is the key and some of the items you can make in advanced and either freeze it or keep in the fridge.

The exact recipes for everything to follow. And I will be tweeting about my progress on the day! Can’t wait!

Irina

 
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Posted by on 9 December, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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Healthy Savoury Rice – Lunches for Work

Most weeks we make a savoury (brown) rice dish which we can keep in the fridge and take to work for lunch, or have handy for a quick & easy meal at home. The basic recipe is easy and healthy, and normally we’d use cooked ham or chicken as the meat ingredient, but this week I found a couple of packs of diced chorizo sausage on offer so decided to have a treat! 😉

Ingredients:

1 x celery stick, diced
1 x carrot, diced
2 x peppers, diced
1 x cup of peas
1 x cup of diced or chopped meat of your choice
Finely chopped Chilli’s to suit your taste. We like a spicy kick so use 2 or 3 birds eyes!
Half a bag of brown Rice.
Pepper to season & a couple of tsp’s of dried parsley

Method:

Cook the rice as instructed, but not for the full time on the bag as we will fry and then steam it a little at the end, put it to one side. (When the rice is cooking, I chop all the veg ready, then drain the rice and put it in a large bowl, so I can use the same large pan to cook the veg. Saves on washing up!) Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 20 November, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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