Jamie Oliver-Inspired SUBLIME Four Hour Lamb…

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4 Hour Lamb

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

I love roasting because you can give it love, get it in the oven and go and play with the kids or whatever you’ve got to do, and then hours later you’ve got a lovely dinner. (Jamie Oliver)

This slow cooked lamb dish makes me think of my Dad. Not for him lamb cooked ‘pink’. He likes it falling off the bone, thank you very much.

And so, this lamb does just that. Cooked long and slow in its own juices. Simply flavoured with two of lamb’s all-time best accompanying flavours – garlic and rosemary.

Four Hour Lamb

Less than 5 minutes prep’ before your lamb goes in the oven…
(image by TSL)

It’s about the easiest thing in the world to prepare. I’m not kidding when I tell you it is an absolute doddle. But, what you end up with is the most unctuous, falling-off-the-bone juiciness that you’ll wonder why you haven’t slow-cooked a leg of lamb before.

If you are not a cook, and you make this when you’re having friends over for a meal, they’ll think you’re Julia Child in the making. Truly. It’s THAT good.

And, if you’re feeling experimental, you could even cook it on your barbecue…

When we go on our weekly pilgrimage to the farmers market, we have recently been in the habit of picking up a rack of pork from the lovely people at Linga Longa. Their pork is so very, very good, it has fast become a staple here at Casa TSL. So, you can imagine our disappointment when last week they had run out. Clearly we are not the only Linga Longa fans in Sydney… A little bit further down the way we found the Mirool Creek Lamb stand. Now I’ve written about the fab’ lamb on offer from Mirool Creek before. Only last time, it was a speedy butterflied lamb.

This lamb recipe is different. This is the kind of dish that fills your home with smells that remind you of your childhood. And then, you are left with lovely lamb to throw into tomorrow’s hash or salad or shepherd’s pie.

We served ours with roasted pumpkin, more garlic and broccoli. Yum!

Jamie Oliver Inspired SUBLIME Four Hour Lamb

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 4 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: Couldn't be easier
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(Image by TSL)

(Image by TSL)

Ingredients

1 x 2 kilo leg of best quality, happy & hormone free lab (approximately)
1 x bunch fresh rosemary
8 x cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 x Tablespoon fat (I used beef tallow)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x Tablespoon Tapioca starch/Arrowroot powder (If you’re not on AIP, use your preferred flour)
375 ml bone broth (or stock)
1 x bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
2 x Tablespoons red wine vinegar

Method

1. Heat your oven to 220°C/425°F.

2. Lay your leg of lamb on a cutting board and score the fat across the top.

3. Lay half the sprigs of rosemary and four of the unpeeled garlic cloves in the bottom of a high sided roasting dish. My lamb fit nicely into my Le Creuset, so I used that. Place your leg of lamb on top.

4. Melt your fat and drizzle over the scored fat of your meat. Generously season with salt and pepper. Place the remaining rosemary and unpeeled garlic cloves on top of the meat.

5. Cover your roasting dish – either with a lid or firmly with foil and pop it into the oven. As soon as you close the even door, reduce the heat to 160°C/320°F.

6. Walk away for four hours and let the meat, garlic and rosemary work their magic.

7. Remove the lamb from the roasting dish and onto a carving board. Cover with foil and allow to rest.

8. Discard the rosemary stalks. Squish the garlic cloves to remove the flesh Discard the skins. Put the dish on the stove over a medium heat.

9. Mix the starch with a little bone broth and add to your roasting pan. Allow to bubble for a minute.

10. Add the rest of the bone broth, making sure you scrape all the meaty bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

11. While the gravy is cooking, shred the lamb with two forks.

12. Add the chopped mint and red wine vinegar to your sauce. Taste for seasoning. Serve!

E N J O Y !

This recipe is featured over at the Phoenix Helix AIP Recipe Roundtable.

Tostones, Sydney-style…

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TSL's Tostones

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurised Stilton, raw oysters or working for organised crime ‘associates’, food, for me, has always been an adventure. (Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly)

I know, I know – my last post was for plantain crackers, and here I am giving you another ‘snack’-type recipe. And worse, its Easter Sunday as I write this – hardly the time to be posting about a South American plantain speciality. But, I am. Such a renegade, me!

It’s been a funny old week here at Casa TSL. The house sold at auction last weekend. Which, is great news for us. But, then I caught the flu-bug that LM had, and I went down. Hard. Of course, I’d been a teeny bit unsympathetic to his ‘Man Flu’. At least until I got it, too. And, he was far more gracious than I. He cooked me stewed apple with cinnamon – which was all I could face eating for a couple of days. It’s really taken me until today – Easter Sunday – to get back on my feet.

And, then – since chocolate is out on the Autoimmune Protocol (don’t even mention the hot cross buns!), and because we’re not really very church-y, it really hasn’t felt very much like Easter here.

But – the weather has been glorious for the past couple of days. Just perfect for sitting outside in the sun of an afternoon. And, I had these lovely plantains.

So, today was declared ‘Tostone Day’

Bella sneaking into the tostones shot... (Image by TSL)

Bella sneaking into the tostones shot…
(Image by TSL)

Tostones, for the uninitiated, are a South American treat. We think they taste most similar to the potato scallops you used to get with your fish and chips wrapped in newspaper from the corner fish ‘n’ chip shop back in the day.

Also called ‘patacones‘ in some locations, they are fried, crushed, and then fried again. Apparently, they are popular in many Central and South American countries.

I reckon the absolute best thing about these bad boys is that they are absolutely, 100% AIP compliant! Woop!

For this recipe, I chose to give my home-made lard a rest. Instead I cooked them in coconut oil - full of healthy medium chain triglycerides.

Tostones with Smashed Avocado

  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy-peasey
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Plantain Tostones

(Image by TSL)

Ingredients

2 green plantains
5 Tablespoons coconut oil (approximately)
1 ripe avocado
1 clove garlic (crushed)
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 Tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and Pepper

Method

1. Peel the skin from the plantains. The best way to do this is to cut two slits down the length of the plantains and remove the flesh from the skin.

2. Cut the plantains into angled slices – about 1 1/2 cm.

3. Melt your coconut oil in a heavy based frypan. Pop the plantain pieces into the pan and fry until lightly golden on both sides, about 3 minutes a side.

4. While your plantains are cooking, remove the flesh of your avocado into a small bowl. Throw in the crushed garlic, lime juice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

5. Take the plantains out of the pan, and drain them on a paper towel.

6. With the base of a mug or cup, crush each plantain chip  - so they are about 1/2 cm thick. It’s not an exact science.

7. Place the crushed plantains back into the oil and let them fry until crisp. This takes about 1 to 2 minutes

8. Take out the crushed plantains, drain them on a paper towel, and salt immediately.

If you are preparing your to stones in advance: Prepare the dish to step 5. Soak the flattened plantain pieces in salted water for a few seconds. This prevents them from oxidising on you before you’re ready to serve them.

E N J O Y !

I get my plantains from the Fiji Market in Newtown.

 

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme Plantain Crackers

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Plantain Crackers

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

My love is like a banana and a plantain. But that doesn’t mean I’m in love with my cousin.
” (Jarod Kintz, Love quotes for the ages. And the ageless sages)

When you remove practically everything that could possibly be considered inflammatory from your diet – I’m talking sugar, grains, seeds, nuts, dairy and EGGS!* – life can sometimes feel like a conveyer-belt of protein, (healthy) fat and vegetables. And most of the time that’s ok.

But sometimes I miss bread and crackers and things that taste like they have gluten as a central ingredient…

You may remember a recent post about my take on Graham Kerr’s root vegetable soup… well, it created some commentary amongst my immediate family. Talk of both how good the soup was AND how the experience was enhanced because of the hot buttered toast that was served alongside. Of course, hot buttered toast is an impossibility on the Autoimmune Protocol, but it got me thinking – quite a lot – about finding some sort of substitute.

There is much talk in the global AIP community about the magic that is plantains.

Plantains

Plantains!
(Image by TSL)

I was a plantain virgin. To the best of my knowledge, I had never even seen one until recently, when I actively started looking for them. And, I am still far from an expert.

I am, however, a little bit hooked on plantains, now…

Plantains contain more starch and less sugar than what I know as a banana. They need to be cooked before being eaten. And, when they are green, they are always cooked or fried.

Interesting fact: plantains are the tenth most important staple that feeds the world. Plantains are treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when the unripe fruit is cooked by steaming, boiling or frying.

There is a bit of a knack to peeling a green plantain, too. Here’s a link to show you how over at Latin Food.

Plantains are not such a common sight here in Sydney and may require a little ferreting around. I found mine at the Fiji Market in Newtown. According to the very helpful gent manning the till, the reason plantains are so hard to find here in Australia is because of the ‘disease free state’ of our banana population. If allowed free rein, apparently, the plantain has the capacity to wipe out the entire banana crop production. Not good news, so plantains are restricted to a certain valley in far north Queensland…

Any-whoo – I am VERY grateful I found my first lot of plantains. Given my jars of pork lard sitting in the fridge, I decided to start my plantain education with crackers. They were a huge success, and so easy! Next time, I think I’ll try some tostones

Simon & Garfunkel Crackers

  • Servings: 16-24 crackers
  • Time: 75 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy-peasey
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Herby Plantain Crackers

(Image by TSL)

Ingredients

2 large, green plantains
½ cup pork lard, melted (coconut oil would also work)
1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt

Method

1. Heat your oven to 150° C/ 300° F.

2. Peel and chop your plantains into large chunks and throw them into your food processor with the melted lard, fresh herbs, garlic, and salt.

3. Give it a good whiz until a chunky, wet mixture forms. Pour this out onto a lined baking tray. As carefully as possible, smooth the mixture out with a spatula until it is about a 1/2 cm thick. Try and get it into a rectangular shape (mine are always wonky!)

4. Pop your tray into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and score the mixture into your preferred cracker size with a pizza cutter or knife. Place back into the oven and cook for another 50 – 60 minutes until they are a nice golden brown colour.

E N J O Y !

* and, I didn’t even mention coffee or chocolate!

How to Render Your Own Lard AND Make Lardons!

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(Image by TSL)

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. (Anthony Bourdain)

I have a secret confession. Sometimes I get sick of coconut oil.

I know coconut oil is considered the bees-knees in terms of healthy cooking fats. Truly, I do. I know it’s full of short-term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a healthy form of saturated fat. And, I know it contains antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties to boost my immune system.

But, here’s the thing. Sometimes I just want something… well, porkier! Especially after I discovered that the boys at G.R.U.B. sell their own house-rendered lard. It is SO good!

After a little investigating, I discovered that when compared with that good old Mediterranean diet staple, olive oil, lard comes a close second in the monounsaturated fat department! While olive oil has about 77% monounsaturated fat, lard apparently sits at 48% monounsaturated fat. Butter ranks third with 30% monounsaturated fat and Coconut oil is last at 6%.

The main fat in lard, oleic acid, is a fatty acid associated with decreased risk of depression. Who knew?

And, here’s another fact: lard also contains high amounts of Vitamin D, a fat-soluble ‘vitamin’. Those-who-know-these-things reckon that 1 tablespoon of lard has 1000 IU of Vitamin D! As someone who is deficient in Vitamin D, that was pretty good news!

So, armed with all this information AND because it tastes SO good, I’ve become a bit of a lard-lover…

The past few times I’ve been over visiting the team at G.R.U.B., there has been no lard. And, I have to say, it has been a bit of a disappointment. Yesterday was no exception. Lots of yummy, meaty goodies BUT NO LARD!

Clearly it was time to take matters into my own hands…

And, you want to know something? Making lard is easy! It’s also very economical. A 435ml jar of lard costs me $17. A kilo of back fat, which when rendered makes over 1 litre of lard, cost me just over $6. That’s a pretty impressive saving.

AND, I got a jar of the yummiest wee lardons to add to soups and salads and veggies, as well. Bonus!

Rendering Pork Fat

Where I chop my back fat into teeny, tiny pieces
(Image by TSL)

Rendering Pork Fat

Want to know what a kilo of fat looks like?
I have a greater appreciation for why it’s so hard to lose weight now!
(Image by TSL)

Rendering Pork Fat

Freshly rendered lard – a thing of beauty!
(Image by TSL)

So, here’s what I took away from today’s lard making session:

- I like to chop. Call it my form of meditation. Having said that, chopping a kilo of pork fat into wee pieces by hand takes a while. (It should be noted that it also moisturises your hands nicely!). But, perhaps next time, I’ll ask the boys at the butchery to grind the meat for me.
- Making your own lard is kind of fun. Seriously.
- As with anything you make from scratch, there’s something about the commitment of time, that makes you look for opportunities to use that product. I find that all the time with bone broth. After I made the lard, I used some in my first-ever batch of plantain crackers. More on that next week!
- When you make your own lard, you get the added bonus of crunchy wee morsels of goodness that are lardons.

Have I sold you on lard, yet? I hope so! Here’s the recipe:

How to Render Lard AND Make Lardons

  • Time: 2 - 3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy but a little fiddly
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(Image by TSL)

(Image by TSL)

Ingredients

1 kilo pork back or leaf fat

It is VERY important you use fat from happy, pastured, hormone and antibiotic-free animals. Quiz your butcher on this. PLEASE.

You will also need a large pot, cast iron skillet or casserole. I used my trusty Le Creuset (again!) and a sieve and some cheesecloth.

Method

1. If you haven’t managed to sweet talk your butcher into grinding all that lovely fat for you, take the time to dice it as finely as possible. The smaller you get it, the more lard you’ll make.

2. Place your pork fat into your pot, cast iron skillet or casserole. Turn your element onto low (I used a diffuser as well) and wait for the magic to start happening. You’ll need to keep an eye on it and give it the occasional stir. It’s important you don’t let the fat get too hot – if it goes dark brown, it is burnt and will taste bitter.

3. After you start to see a good amount of rendered fat, strain this through your cheesecloth over a sieve into a glass bowl. Return the un-rendered fat to the stove top and repeat. The strained lard can be poured into glass jars and put into the fridge until you’re ready to cook with it.

4. When the fat starts to turn golden brown, you are at the end of the rendering process. It’s time to make lardons! – turn the heat up to medium to allow all the remaining fat to melt. Discard this melted fat. When all you have left are delicious wee morsels of porky goodness of a medium brown colour, transfer the lardons to a large plate covered with a couple of layers of paper towel. Allow to drain and dry.

5. Pop your lovely lardons into an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to add them to soups, salads and veggie dishes.

E N J O Y !

My FAVOURITE Root Vegetable Soup

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TSL Sunshine Soup Graphic

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

What keeps me motivated is not the food itself but all the bonds and memories the food represents. (Michael Chiarello)

I have such fond memories of sitting down to a big bowl of my Mum’s soup on rainy winter afternoons when I was a girl. Mum had this thing about us all sitting down together as a family at meal times (which I now appreciate!). We would have lovely steaming bowls of soup served with toasted Vogel’s bread and butter. Dad’s favourite soup was a beef shin consommé. And mine was Mum’s root vegetable soup. I LOVED it. Turns out I still do.

Mum’s root vegetable soup was based on a Graham Kerr (aka the Galloping Gourmet) number. It’s a super thick and hearty vegetable soup. Chock full of goodness.

Even now, the memory of that soup takes me back to the round table at our old family home in Auckland…

Isn’t it lovely how certain foods can evoke such strong memories?

After I posted about bone broth the other day, a girlfriend asked for some ideas on how to incorporate more of this wonder-food into her family’s diet. One thing led to another. The synapses started firing in ways I don’t begin to understand, and I somehow arrived at my childhood root vegetable soup… A perfect way to use lots of yummy chicken bone broth. And, with the added bonus of including a seriously hefty amount of vegetables. Gotta’ be happy with that combo!

The beautiful thing about this soup is that, thanks to all those lovely root veggies, it is wonderfully sweet. Kids will love it!

And of course, this version is autoimmune protocol-friendly, too.

REALLY GOOD Root vegetable Soup

(Image by TSL)

Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor. Marge Kennedy

So, here’s my take on Graham Kerr’s soup. I reckon it comes pretty close to his in flavour – and, I’ve added some turmeric because its such a potent anti-inflammatory.

I’m pretty chuffed with how my soup turned out. I’ll definitely be making it again, and I’d love to hear from you if you give it a go, too…

The BEST Root Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
  • Print

Really Good Root Vegetable Soup

(Image by TSL)

Ingredients

1 x Tablespoon fat (I used coconut oil)
2 x large onions, chopped
2 x cloves garlic
750g kumara or sweet potato (2 large ones)
750g carrots (about 5 large ones)
1 x teaspoon dried sage
1 x teaspoon dried oregano
1 x teaspoon dried basil
1 x teaspoon turmeric
2 1/2 cups chicken bone broth/stock (substitute with vegetable stock for a vegetarian option)
1 x cup coconut milk
Parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Method

1. Throw your fat into a large pot. Melt over a medium heat.

2. Add chopped onion and sweat for ten minutes (I use a timer) While the onions are working their magic, peel and chop the kumara and carrots. Peel and crush the garlic.

3. Add the garlic to the pot. Stir for a minute or two. Add the kumara, carrots, herbs and turmeric. Season generously with salt. Sweat the mixture for a further ten minutes. Give it a good stir every now and then.

4. Add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil. Pop on the lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for thirty minutes.

5. Carefully purée your mixture (in batches) in your blender. Add the coconut milk as you blend.

6. Taste for seasoning and serve with freshly chopped parsley as a garnish.

E N J O Y !

Shared on the Phoenix Helix AIP Recipe Round Table

RIDICULOUSLY GOOD Herbed Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

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Herbed Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know? (Julia Child)

Do you know my all-time MOST popular post ever? It is the one about Jamie Oliver and His BEST EVER Pukka Spiced Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks. Even today, it remains in my top three posts for hits. And, in fairness to Mr Oliver, it is an awesome lamb shank recipe. Seriously pukka, even!

But, given the chilli and tomatoes that are kind of central to Jamie’s dish, this is one recipe that definitely doesn’t fit the Autoimmune Protocol ‘rules’.

Down here in Sydney-town, the temperature has suddenly dipped a little as we head towards winter. And, on Saturday night I had a good friend coming for dinner. I happen to know she loves lamb shanks, so it seemed like just the time to amend Jamie’s recipe to meet my AIP needs. And – I gotta tell you – they were RIDICULOUSLY GOOD!

This is a great recipe to make over the weekend. I think there’s something quite therapeutic about chopping up all the veggies, and all that long, slow cooking makes the house smell so inviting. Plus, once the dish is in the oven, there’s not much to do – there are loads of vegetables in the dish, so while I think serving your shanks on a bed of mash is recommended, you don’t really need any more greens unless you’d like the meat to stretch further.

And, as I tend to do with all my braises, I took my meat off the bone. I think it goes further this way. Of course you can choose to leave your shanks whole if you prefer.

We had our shanks with a celeriac and parsnip mash. YUM!

RIDICULOUSLY GOOD Herbed Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 3 1/2 - 4 hours
  • Difficulty: easy-peasey
  • Print
TSL Lamb Shanks

(Image by TSL)

4-5 x large lamb shanks (I managed to squeeze 5 large shanks into my le Creuset)
1 x tbsp fresh rosemary (chopped)
1 x tbsp. fresh thyme (finely chopped)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
1 x teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 x tablespoon fat (I used beef tallow)
2 x large carrots (quartered and diced)
4 x sticks celery (quartered and diced)
1 x large leek, washed and finely sliced
2 x large onions (finely chopped)
2 x garlic cloves (chopped)
2 x tablespoon fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
2 x tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I use this one)
100 ml dry Verjuice
6 x anchovy, fillets
250 ml Bone broth (or stock)
Handful flat-leaf parsley (chopped)

  1. Heat your oven to 180°C/350°F. I start by washing and chopping all my vegetables. Put aside in a large bowl.
  2. Throw chopped rosemary, thyme, dried oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper into your mortar and pestle. Give it a good bash. Rub the shanks in this mixture, pressing it in well. I find the best way to do this is to place your meat in a large plastic bag. Pour the herb mixture in and give it a good shake, ensuring each shank gets a good covering of the rub.
  3. Heat a thick-bottomed casserole pan, add your fat of choice and – when the fat has melted - brown the meat on all sides in batches and remove from the pan.
  4. Add the carrot, celery, onions, leek and garlic along with the extra chopped rosemary and a pinch of salt and sweat them until softened (about ten minutes).
  5. Add the apple cider vinegar and allow it to reduce to a syrup.
  6. Pour in the verjuice and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes.
  7. Add the anchovies and then add the bone broth. Shake the pan and return the lamb to the casserole. Shimmy the shanks around to get a nice fit.
  8. Bring to the boil, put on the lid and pop in the oven for 2 – 2 1/2 hours to work its magic. Then, remove the lid and cook for a further half an hour.
  9. If you want to take the meat off the bone, now is the time to do so. Carefully remove your shanks from the casserole. Using two forks, gently pull the meat from the bone. It should fall away. Once shredded, the meat can be returned to the casserole. I also take care to ensure I have removed all the marrow from the bones and pop that back into the dish.
  10. Taste for seasoning. Finally, stir in a handful of roughly chopped fresh parsley.

E N J O Y !

Trying something new here at TSL – I’ve linked this recipe in the Phoenix Helix AIP Recipe Roundtable. It’s chock full of people also on this crazy regime of removing anti-inflammatory foods to heal…

*Don’t worry, Missy K – I didn’t drop the lamb!

Get a Dog!

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Bella the poodle

(Image by TSL)

If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life. (Roger A. Caras)

Bella, the fluff-bucket is in doggie hospital as I write this. She woke up this morning very wobbly and unable to walk. A far cry from her usual morning licks and kisses. Frankly, it was a little scary. We don’t yet know how serious her problem is. 

I am not coping very well.

And, because I am not really thinking about much besides my lovely little Bella today, you get a post about what I’ve discovered since she came into my life…

Bella on the Spit to Manly walk

Bella on the Spit to Manly walk
(Image by TSL)

Bella was originally LM’s dog. He had her when we first met. I remember actually being disappointed that she was a Poodle. I thought a more ‘dog-like dog’, something like a Staffie’, would have been better than a fluff-bucket like her.

I no longer feel that way. Of course I love her because she is uniquely herself. But there are some added practical benefits to choosing a miniature poodle. She doesn’t shed. She doesn’t drool. She’s very neat and clean. She’s intelligent. And, she doesn’t scare wee kidliwinks at the park. And - despite the fluff – she is still very much a dog-like dog.

Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer. (Dean Koontz, False Memory)

Bella in repose

Bella in repose
(Image by TSL)

Did you know that owning a dog comes with added health benefits?

Dogs are hugely affectionate. They love nothing more than a really good cuddle. Dr Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine and his co-researcher Aaron Katcher found in the early ’80s that when people interact with dogs, “[they] actually get a drop in blood pressure – a true relaxation response”. And, researchers in Japan found that when dog owners just met their dogs’ gaze, they experienced a spike in oxytocin – a neurotransmitter that helps us cope with stress.

Dogs are social. And fluffy miniature poodles attract kids. Guaranteed. When you’re walking with your dog, you meet people. They are conversation starters. A 2000 study found that someone walking with a dog had three times as many social interactions than when that same person walked alone. Pretty amazing, I reckon’.

And, since I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, and stress management is a big part of the programme, let me also say that owning a dog is GREAT for helping to manage stress. According to Alan Beck, “[playing with your dog] keeps you in the moment. So when you’re talking and playing with your dog, your mind is not free to worry. We intuitively try and do this anyway – we listen to music, we sit in a coffee shop, we watch TV – just to keep our minds focused on what’s going on right now. But if that focus is nature or an animal, it’s that much easier.”

Dogs force you to take time out of your day. And, they love to play. Bella’s favourite activity is when LM and I take her to the park (together!) and she can play with her ball. There are days when I really don’t want to do this, but I just know how disappointed she will be if we don’t go. And, I always feel better for having done it. There’s something about being outside playing with a dog that makes your problems seem less significant.

And, dogs don’t care how silly you are. As with small children, playing with dogs allows you to remove some of your inhibitions.

Of course, it’s a no brainer that owning a dog also forces you to exercise every day. Dogs will never willingly turn down a walk. So, in addition to lowering stress levels, walking your dog can give you a stronger heart, lower blood sugar, more restful sleep, lower cholesterol and better memory.

For me, the very best thing about Bella is the unconditional love she gives me. At the markets on a Saturday morning (where stall-holders know her by name), when I return from picking up my veggie haul, she greets me as if she hasn’t seen me for a week. And, nothing beats the excitement of a dog greeting you at the door when you return home. And, that joy is infectious.

Bella on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk

Bella on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk
(Image by TSL)

I had never had a dog before Bella. I didn’t realise how life-changing a dog can be. Now, I can’t imagine life without her. Here’s hoping she’s on the mend very soon…

Update: Bella has returned home from doggie hospital. X-rays and bloods have been taken. She has been diagnosed with spondylosis (she has a bone spur on one of the vertebrae of her spine) and probably moved in an awkward way that cause her significant pain.

We’re supposed to keep her quiet and walk her on the lead for the next three weeks. She will not be happy! 

Why Bone Broth is the Bomb…

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(Image by TSL)

(Image by TSL)

It’s not art. It’s not haute cuisine. It’s not the latest new and groovy Sydney restaurant. It’s not even very sexy. But it is my biggest food obsession…

It’s no secret that LM and I have undergone a massive paradigm shift in the last couple of years with the way we eat. The discovery of a combined shellfish/dairy allergy for LM and - in amongst other health ‘stuff’ - a sensitivity to gluten for me, means life at Casa TSL is no longer quite the same. Poor old LM has well and truly divorced Adriano Zumbo. My favourite Sonoma sourdough looks like it may well be permanently off the menu. <sigh>. And, at the time of writing, we are entering our eighth week of the Autoimmune Protocol.

I have undertaken a lot of reading about different approaches to food, and its effects on the body, in an attempt to work out what might work best for LM and me. And, we have experimented a little, too. This has led to a growing understanding and appreciation of more traditional eating – the way our great grandmothers ate. And, by this I mean: -

Locally

Seasonally

LOTS of fresh vegetables

A nose-to-tail approach (for reasons of health, sustainability and budget)

Cutting out highly refined, processed and artificial food

A nutrient-rich diet (including lacto-fermented foods)

And, one of our biggest steps towards a more traditional diet was when I started making bone broth. Regularly. As in at least every other week.

You looking' at me...? (Image from here)

You looking’ at me…?
(Image from here)

So, what exactly is bone broth?

Bone Broth is typically made with different varieties of bones from the same animal – like pasture raised-beef, -lamb, -chicken, and fish - and may have a small amount of meat still attached to the bones. The wider the variety of bones – knuckles and feet give lots of gelatine; marrow bones give great flavour and added nutrients; ribs and neck add flavour – the better. As with the preparation of a good stock, bones are usually roasted first to improve flavour.

Bone broths are typically simmered for a very long - as long as 72 hours, in some cases. This long, slow cooking time is to allow as many minerals and nutrients as possible to be removed from the bones.

Why bone broths are good for you

Bone broths are hugely rich in nutrients – particularly minerals like sodium, chloride, and iodine as well as magnesium, potassium and other important trace minerals.They are also a good source of amino acids – particularly arginine, glycine and proline. Glycine supports our bodies’ detoxification process and is used in the synthesis of haemoglobin (oxygen-carrying within the blood), bile salts and other naturally-occurring chemicals within the body. Glycine also supports digestion and the release of gastric acids. Proline (along with vitamin C) is great for our skin health. Bone broths are also rich in gelatine which has multiple uses – it aids in digestion, helps in the absorption of cooked foods (particularly the muscle meat cuts that are so popular now), and also supports skin health.

Bone broth made from chickens helps alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu. There’s a reason chicken soup is an old Jewish tradition!

Why can’t I just buy ready-made stock from the supermarket?

Well, you can. You just shouldn’t. For a start, they won’t taste nearly as good as your home-made version. And, they’re expensive. And, if that’s not enough, commercial stocks are often pasteurised – killing off all the goodness you get from your long slow simmer, and they have additives and preservatives that you just won’t put in yours.

Chicken Bone Broth

(Image by TSL)

What Can I do With my Bone Broth?

Well, the simplest answer is: drink it! Just heat to a simmer in a small pot, add a little good quality sea salt, and sip away. It’s great before or with meals and helps with digestion. You can also enhance the flavour by adding freshly grated ginger, fresh herbs, or even (if the thought is not too way out for you) throw in some sea vegetables.

Of course, bone broth is a great flavour base for soups and sauces. A simple soup can easily be created just by adding vegetables. For sauces, just add a little broth to the pan as you are cooking various meats.

We’re now cooking lots of braises in bone broth. You can see from my recent Osso Buco recipe that secondary cuts of meat not only taste amazing, they’re cheaper, too!

I also cook veggies with broth, too. Leafy greens, cabbage and fennel are great braised in broth. Adding broth to a root vegetable mash is a good alternative to dairy.

Can you tell that I’m a little passionate about bone broth? Well, here’s my very easy recipe…

TSL's EASY Bone Broth

  • Servings: approximately 3 litres (depending on the amount of bones)
  • Time: 12 - 72 hours
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
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Chook Bone Broth

(Image by TSL)

Ingredients

1.5 – 2 kilos bones from happy, hormone free animals (a mixture of bones from different parts of the animal is good. I save the bones and carcasses from my roast chickens)
a couple of chicken feet (optional – will ensure your broth has a good gelatin level)
a good glug of apple cider vinegar (lemon juice also works)
2 or 3 onions
2 or 3 carrots
2 or 3 sticks of celery
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
A bunch of parsley stalks

You will also need a large stock pot.

Method

1) If making beef or lamb bone broth, heat your oven to 180°C/360°F. Pop your meatier bones into a roasting dish and roast until well browned (about 30 – 45 minutes). Place your knuckle and marrow bones into your stock pot. Add your apple cider vinegar and cover with cold water. Now, just let this sit while your meaty bones brown. When your bones are nicely browned, add these to the pot, along with your onions, carrots, celery (and chicken feet, if using). Make sure you deglaze your roasting dish and get all the good bits out of the bottom to add to the stock pot. Ensure your cold water just covered your bones. Top up if necessary. Note: if using leftover chicken carcasses and bones, there is no need to roast the bones.

2) Bring your stock pot to a boil. Carefully skim off any scum that rises to the top. Reduce the heat to low and add your peppercorns, parsley stalks and bay leaves.

3) Now just leave it. Let it simmer for 12 – 72 hours (I simmer chicken bones for 24 – 36 hours and beef bones for 48 – 72 hours).

4) When you have finished simmering your bones, turn off the heat. Carefully remove your bones and vegetables (these can now be discarded). Place a sieve covered with cheesecloth or a clean tea towel over a large bowl. Strain your bone broth. Cool in the fridge.

5) Once cooled, there will be a layer of congealed fat that has risen to the top of your bone broth. This is easily removed (and can be saved for cooking if you’re feeling adventurous!)

6) Transfer your broth into smaller containers for freezing. Your broth will keep up to a week in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.

E N J O Y !

If you’re worried about leaving your stove-top on for that length of time, or you just don’t have the time, the Nourished Kitchen has a great recipe for Perpetual Soup (chicken bone broth) she has going in her slow cooker.

SCRUMPTIOUS Raspberry Coconut Tea Cakes

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(Image by TSL)

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try! (Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!)

I’m a little bit excited about my newest wee kitchen experiment.

When you’re on the Autoimmune Protocol, there’s so much you just can’t eat. And, most of the time I’m actually fine with that, but it does make for a bit of a challenge when you’re entertaining. Especially when you want to try something new…

We had invited good friends over for a long overdue catch up and to check out Casa TSL (which, just quietly, has never looked as tidy as it does at the moment). Sidenote: if you ever need some motivation to declutter – put your house on the market!

Any-who, I already knew that my friend, Sal’ was inordinately fond of my Macaroon Balls, but it’s always nice to offer a choice in your wee sweet morsels, I think. And, in my search for something new, I came across a wonderful-looking technique where you process/blend desiccated coconut* into a batter. Sounded simply too good to be true to me. I had to give it a try…

Guess what? It worked a treat. Even in my twenty year old food processor.       A M A Z I N G !

I amended my recipe from the talented baker, Mary, from the amazing Simple&Merry. If you’ve never checked out her wonderful blog, I urge you to go and have a wee look-see.

SCRUMPTIOUS Raspberry Coconut Tea Cakes

SCRUMPTIOUS Raspberry Coconut Tea Cakes
(Image by TSL)

A couple of tips if you’re planning on giving this recipe a whirl:

  • I kept an eye on my food processor as my shredded coconut was working its magic. Maybe I’m a little paranoid but I imagine five minutes of processing can be a little challenging for older food processors (like mine!)
  • The batter is essentially coconut ‘butter’. Your tea cakes will keep their shape and texture much better if you keep them in the fridge. We had a warm autumn afternoon here. My tea cakes were a little worse-for-the wear as a result.

SCRUMPTIOUS Raspberry Coconut Tea Cakes

  • Servings: 20 mini cakes
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: a teeny bit fiddly
  • Print

(Image by TSL)

(Image by TSL)

Ingredients

3 cups desiccated coconut
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (conveniently approx. one lemon!)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
20 raspberries (frozen or fresh)

Method

1) Heat your oven to 160°C/320°F. Line a couple of mini muffin pans (I used 20 liners).

2) Pop your desiccated coconut into your food processor*. Process on high for 5 minutes. Let your food processor cool down for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on for another 5 minutes or until the coconut begins to resemble a batter.

*This can be done in a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, if you have one. Since not everybody has one of those, I thought I’d experiment. I’ve had my trusty Braun food processor for nearly 20 years and he did get quite warm during this process, but he got there.

3) Add your lemon juice and zest, maple syrup and salt. Mix until your batter is fully combined.

4) Add your baking soda. Pulse a couple of times to just combine.

5) Spoon the mixture into your mini muffin tins. Pop a frozen raspberry on the top of each one and press down gently.

6) Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until lightly toasted. Allow to cool on the bench

7) Pop your tea cakes into a sealed container in the fridge until you are ready to eat them.

E N J O Y !

 

* finely shredded coconut

Osso Buco – AIP Style

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Autoimmune Osso Buco

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain’t normal. (Joel Salatin, farmer and author of Folks, This Ain’t Normal; You Can Farm)

I love my Le Creuset casserole. It is possibly my favouritist piece of kitchen equipment in my whole kitchen. Well, after my knives, it is. I’ve had it for years. So long, in fact, that the good people at Le Creuset don’t even make casseroles in my colour-way anymore. No matter – there’s still a lot of life in my well-loved one, yet.

I’ve probably mentioned my tactic of cooking once to eat twice (or even, thrice), before. It works particularly well for slow cooking in my Le Creuset. And, I know there are people out there who swear by their slow cookers. All power to them. But, me – I like the old-fashioned process of preparing, chopping, slicing, searing, simmering, seasoning – and then checking – as I braise my dish.

And, braising is the way to go if you want to maximise the nutritional value of meat in your diet (AND it’s budget-friendly). There is a tendency to focus far too much on the sexier, high-end cuts of meat these days – steaks, back-straps, chicken breasts. But did you know that’s not so healthy? – Especially all the time.

According to the very knowledgable Denise Minger, our high intake of methionine (an amino acid that comes from muscle meats), combined with our low intake of glycine (an amino acid from skin, bones, cartilage, etc) is a setup for chronic health issues.

Eat more slow cooked food, I say!

And, did I mention it tastes fantastic, too?

My blogging buddy, Petra recently posted a recipe for Kahlua Lamb Shanks. She made it for breakfast! Frankly, it looked pretty amazing to me, and I was all set to adapt it to fit the 1.5 kilos of osso buco I had defrosting. 

But, I got a little carried away. This AIP jaunt is really changing the way I approach cooking. At every opportunity, I look for ways to include more veggies and bone broth into my day. For this wee number, I managed to slip in onion, celery, carrot, garlic and silver beet/swiss chard, along with bone broth I had prepared earlier. Not so bad, I reckon!

Don’t know what Osso Buco is? Osso buco is a Milanese specialty of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. It is often garnished with gremolata and traditionally served with risotto alla milanese.

The extra-special thing about osso buco is that because the shank is cut cross-ways, you get lots of lovely bone marrow melting into the braise as your meat cooks.

Of course, on the AIP, there is no risotto. And, instead of gremolata, this time I added some wilted greens into the dish. The end result is a bit of a one-pot-wonder, although if you’d like your meat to stretch even further it would be great on a root vegetable mash…

TSL's Osso Buco - AIP Style

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 4 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy-peasey
  • Print

Osso Buco by TSL

Ingredients

1.5 kilos happy, pasture-raised ‘osso buco’ (I had 5 large pieces)
2 x onions
2 x carrots
2 x large sticks celery
3 x garlic cloves
4 x rashers of bacon
1 Tablespoon fat (I used beef tallow)
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 cups bone broth (or beef stock)
1 x large bunch silver beet/swiss chard – washed, dried and cut into ribbons

Method

1) Half an hour before you begin cooking, remove your shin pieces from your fridge and bring to room temperature. I like to salt my meat at this stage.

2) Heat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Place a casserole over a medium heat and add your fat. Once the fat has melted, brown the meat in batches. As each piece finishes, remove it from the pan and put aside in a bowl.

3) While the meat is browning; wash, peel and dice carrots, celery, onions. Peel and chop your garlic and dice your bacon. Finely chop your rosemary. Put aside until ready.

4) Once all your meat has been browned, turn the element down to low and add the vegetables, rosemary and garlic to the casserole. Allow to sweat for ten minutes.

5) Add balsamic and apple cider vinegars. Mix thoroughly with softened vegetables. Allow to bubble for a minute or two.

6) Layer the shins over the top of the vegetables. Add your bone broth/stock. Bring to a slow boil.

7) Place the lid firmly on the casserole and transfer to the oven. Let it work its magic for three hours. I like to check it once or twice because I’m nosey like that!

8) Remove the lid and place back in the oven for thirty minutes to reduce some of the liquid.

9) Remove the casserole from the oven. At this point, your meat should have fallen off the bone. Remove the bones, ensuring all the lovely marrow has melted into the dish. At this point I like to break apart the meat with two forks – it should just fall apart.

10) Stir in silver beet/chard ribbons, pop on the lid, and put the casserole back into the oven for 15 – 20 minutes to allow the greens to wilt.

11) Check for seasoning and serve.

E N J O Y !