Monthly Archives: September 2014

Venison Mini Meatloaf Muffins

Venison mini meatloaf muffins

Venison mini meatloaf muffins

“Here you go, then”, said Mrs. Paleovirtus, casually dropping a slab of frozen venison mince into our shopping basket. “See what you can do with that!”

“How fortuitous”, I thought to myself, for that very morn I had come across a recipe that would suit that particular ingredient down to the ground.

What I had in mind was Mini Meatloaf “Muffins” with a vegetable purée “frosting”.

This idea was inspired by an article by Katie, aka the “Wellness Mama”, which can be found here.


 

Makes 12 “muffins”

Ingredients

  • 450g minced venison
  • 1 red onion, grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, very finely minced
  • 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1⁄4 cup almond flour
  • approx. 1kg frozen cauliflower

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.
  • Place the minced venison in a large mixing bowl. Add the grated red onion, garlic, Herbes de Provence, smoked Spanish paprika, and almond flour. Mix well. Place in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavours develop.
  • Remove the bowl from the fridge, and allow to come up to room temperature. Mix in the egg with your hands, squishing and squashing the egg and mince together until they are very thoroughly mixed.
  • Place some parchment liners in a muffin tin, and fill the liners with the meat mixture. Bake in the oven on the middle shelf until the tops of the “muffins” are nicely browned, about 30 minutes or so.
  • In the meantime, cook the cauliflower. Drain well, and then purée with a hand held blender. Set aside.
  • When the “muffins” are ready, remove them from the muffin tin, and serve them with the cauliflower “frosting” piped onto the top. We ate them with steamed asparagus dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Notes

On the presentation side – here we used a “standard” sized muffin tin, rather than an “American” or “large” one, which meant that the meat came out shaped more like a slightly flattened, large meatball, rather than muffin-shaped. Our local supermarket sell very reasonably priced large silicon muffin-moulds, which might make for a better meat-muffin.

Another slight niggle regarding the presentation – the cauliflower “frosting” was just a bit too runny to hold its shape once piped onto the top of the muffins, something that’s going to require a bit of further research.

As far as the taste goes, we were more than happy there. Our one thought – the mildly gamey, almost lamb-like flavour of the venison mince might work slightly better with different herbs, spices and seasoning. The definitive Swedish go-to recipe book, “Vår Kokbok”, has quite a few recipes for venison, which might give us some interesting ideas on that front.

Lemon and Honey Chicken

Lemon and honey chicken

Lemon and honey chicken

We were umming an ahing on Friday evening like true champions, unable to arrive at any kind of consensus regarding what we should have to eat.

Time was running out, the hunger demon was tapping on the living room window with an evil grin on his face, and even the cat was getting fed up with the situation. It looked as though a serious bout of tag-team sulking was imminent.

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Lemon Pound Cake Mk. II

Lemon pound cake, Mk. II version

Lemon pound cake, Mk. II version

This is my second attempt at a Lemon Pound Cake, following on from the Mk. I version, which I posted about here.

As you may be able to tell, this version makes use of one half of the amount of almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, honey, and eggs that was in the Mk. I version.

As per Mrs. Paleovirtus’ request to make the Mk. II version more lemony than the Mk. I version, I kept the original amount of lemon juice and zest, effectively making it twice as lemony as previously.

This also had the effect of increasing the overall amount of liquid in the recipe, which in turn gave the cake mixture a less dense, compact texture (see notes below).

Before attempting the Mk. II version, I did quite a bit of research into other Lemon Pound Cake recipes, both Paleo and non-Paleo, and came to the conclusion that the Mk. II version should contain vanilla essence for flavour, and baking powder to assist with the texture, which was one of the areas flagged for improvement after trying out the Mk. I recipe.

To give a more pleasing shape I also bought a 450g / 1lb loaf tin.

My research also suggested that I needed to bake the cake for a longer period of time in a slightly cooler oven – 1 hour in a 160° C oven.


 

Ingredients

  • Juice and finely chopped zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, plus extra for greasing your cake tin
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Method

  • Pre-heat your oven to 160 deg. C.
  • Prepare a 450g / 1lb non-stick loaf tin by greasing it up well with coconut fat.
  • Sift the 2 flours in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  • If needs be, melt your coconut fat and honey in a microwave or over low heat.
  • In a smaller bowl, mix the eggs, the lemon juice, and the lemon zest. Stir in the honey and the coconut oil. Mix well.
  • Add the “wet” mix to the flours, and whisk together until you have a smooth cake mixture.
  • Pour the cake mix into the loaf tin. Work it with a rubber spatula until you have a smooth, even layer.
  • Bake for 1 hour or thereabouts, or until the cake passes the “clean-skewer” test for done-ness.

Notes

Mrs. Paleovirtus felt that the amount of lemon in the Mk. II version was spot on, and flavour wise it only needed a wee bit more vanilla in order to make it perfect.

The combined effect of the extra liquid, the baking powder, the new shape due to the loaf tin used, and the longer baking time in a cooler oven, greatly improved the texture of the Mk. II version.

Due to the nature of almond and coconut flours, this is probably as good a texture as we can reasonably expect from such a cake, which is all well and good, as we’re very satisfied with it as it currently stands.

Autumnal minced pork hash

Minced pork hash

Minced pork hash

When I was out on my early morning bike-ride the other day I heard a commotion above me, and looking up saw what was for me the year’s first flock of geese calling it a day and heading off for warmer, Southern climes.

They may be obnoxious, violent, feathered thugs, that leave little foul smelling nuggets of hatefulness all over the parks and playing fields of this fair city, but I’ll grant them one thing – they’re way ahead of us when it comes to matters connected to the weather and the seasons.

We may have the fancy satellite networks, but they’re the little bar-stewards who know when the game’s up, and Autumn’s about to arrive with a bang.

The end of summer does have its compensations, however.

Firstly, as the weather turns colder and ever more damp, the hipsters and fair-weather casuals abandon their bicycles for their cars or a seat on a bus, and for the next 8 months the cycle lanes become a less populated and significantly safer place to ride.

Secondly, all thoughts of summery salads and suchlike can be abandoned for the duration – let’s be honest, we’re all getting a bit sick of them by now, non?

Stews and casseroles, and all those rich, meaty, earthy, herb-and-spice jacked autumnal flavours can once again be triumphantly wheeled out.

In a fair world each municipality should hold an annual parade, complete with marching bands, fireworks, and speeches by civic dignitaries, as a giant, symbolic, slow-cooker wends its way through the city streets, to be showered with seasonal garlands by awe-struck civilians.

Once again, though, it looks as though I’ll have to make do with a celebratory pot of Pu-Erh and a blueberry muffin. Hey ho.

This dish is my first real nod this year to Autumnal flavours. Mrs. Paleovirtus suggested something with pork, mushrooms, herbs, cabbage, and apples. Demanded, even.

I was kind of up against it time-wise, so decided to do something based around minced pork.

This is what I came up with. Not strictly speaking a hash, per se, but once again I intend to deploy the “Humpty-Dumpty” from “Alice” Defence, namely,

“When I use a word… it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”


 

Makes 4 generous servings

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork mince
  • 280g smoked, cubed bacon
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp juniper berries, bruised
  • approximately 200g closed cap mushrooms, wiped and quartered
  • 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Granny Smiths apples, cored and roughly chopped
  • approx. 400g good quality Sauerkraut
  • olive oil

Method

  • Bring the minced pork out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.
  • Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
  • Gently fry the cubed smoked bacon until it is just turning golden. Drain off the rendered bacon fat and olive oil, and set aside.
  • In a large pan, add the rendered bacon fat and the olive oil, and return it to medium heat.
  • Add the onion, and fry until soft, about 5 minutes or so.
  • Add the garlic to the pan, and fry for a further 2 minutes.
  • Add the juniper berries, Herbes de Provence, smoked Spanish paprika, and bay leaves to the pan. Mix well, and fry for a further 2 minutes or so, adding a splash of hot water if things threaten to stick.
  • Add the pork mince, and stir well in, breaking up the mince with your wooden spoon. Stir fry until the mince has lost its raw colour, about 10 minutes or so.
  • Add the apples, mushrooms, fried bacon, and Sauerkraut. Stir well. Add water to make enough of a sauce for everything to cook comfortably in.
  • Return up to a low simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes or so, until the pork is thoroughly cooked, and the apples are tender.
  • Serve with steamed cauliflower on the side.

Banana coconut cookies

Banana coconut cookies

Banana coconut cookies

Sometimes a recipe will appear in the various feeds you subscribe to, and you think to yourself that it sounds and looks great, but then the voice of the Disappointment Elf that constantly sits on the shoulder of the experienced cook and reminds you of failures past chirps up, and urges you to be cautious.

“Two ingredient banana and coconut cookies”, he whispers, “sounds too good to be true, mate”.

“But the photographs look so good“, I insist, “You can almost smell them, and the people posting in the comments seem to have made them work”.

“Up to you, Charlie Mouse”, he replies, “Do I have to remind you about the time you…”

He never gets to finish the sentence, because the Go-For-It Gnome that sits on the other shoulder sucker punches him when he isn’t looking with a good old-fashioned right handed haymaker, and while he’s out cold insists that we have a crack at the new recipe. After all, what’s a banana and a bit of dessicated coconut in the grand scheme of things, eh?

And so, mes amis, it came to pass that a few minutes later I was blitzing banana and dessicated coconut together into a cookie dough, forming them into diskettes, and throwing them into a pre-heated 180° C oven.

Let it be noted that I got a 4 cookie yield from each batch of 1 banana and ¾ cup of dessicated coconut mixture.

25 minutes later they were out and cooling.

The results were very encouraging. A first attempt at a new recipe is always a “proof of concept” job – you really should be keeping things as simple as possible to see if the base recipe itself actually works.

These cookies do!

I think the recipe itself cries out to be used as a starting point or base for experimentation – the next version will no doubt see the addition of honey, coco-powder (100%, of course), and quite possibly cinnamon.

Link

That link again… 2 Ingredient Banana and Coconut Cookies, by grokgrub.com

Zucchini spaghetti puttanesca

Zucchini spaghetti puttanesca

Zucchini spaghetti puttanesca

I love this dish – all those earthy, pungent, salty flavours.

This makes for a super-quick and easy lunch or supper,  a true chop, chuck, stir and serve job, ready in under half an hour if you play your cards right.

Add to that the ease, convenience, and flavour of zucchini / courgette spaghetti, and you’re on a real winner.


 

Ingredients

  • A good bowlful of zucchini / courgette spaghetti. I prepared the ones I used for this particular meal with my new Westmark Spiromat.
  • ½ a red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 10 green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 10 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 50g of anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tsp Herbes De Provence
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • fresh lemon juice
  • Hot chilli flakes
  • Black pepper

Method

  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-low heat in a non-stick frying pan.
  • Gently fry the onion until starting to soften, about 5 minutes or so.
  • Add the anchovies, and fry for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, and continue to fry for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the Herbes De Provence and the smoked Spanish paprika. Fry for a further 2 or 3 minutes, adding a little water to the pan if things start to stick.
  • Add the olives and capers to the pan. Mix well, and cook for 5 minutes or so.
  • Serve over the zucchini spaghetti, dressing with black pepper, hot chilli flakes, and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Coconut bruise

Coconut bruise

Coconut bruise

This ultra-simple dessert earned its name because like a bruise it’s black, blue, and red.

The tart taste of the berries with lemon juice works well in a sweet-and-sour kind of a way with the coconut.


 

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • a handful of blueberries
  • a handful of raspberries
  • a handful of blackberries
  • fresh lemon juice
  • full-fat coconut milk
  • dessicated coconut

Method

  • Rinse the berries. Place in a serving bowl.
  • Squeeze a dash of fresh lemon juice over the berries. Mix well.
  • Drizzle over coconut milk to taste.
  • Sprinkle over a generous dusting of dessicated coconut. Serve.