Coconut Crisp Chicken: Day 14 of Whole30

Coconut Crisp Chicken
No, the lack of sugar hasn’t caused me to hurl myself off a cliff, if you’re wondering why I haven’t been documenting the last few days of my Whole30 journey. As it happens, I am doing quite well on Whole30 thanks for asking.   Well, in as much as I haven’t fallen off the wagon but the mere mention of a gin and tonic or a Cadbury’s Boost will send me apoplectic, so please don’t. To revive myself for the second half of the Whole30 challenge I have had a mini break from the kitchen these past few days and have been eating other people’s food. A veritable storm of working in Central London, fitting in some running, making all my meals and sorting out the three monsters, four if you include my husband, culminated in me throwing in the tea towel and hot footing it to the nearest paleo accommodating restaurants over the weekend.

Coconut Crisp Chicken  |  Stroud Green Larder

I ate Vietnamese salads and stir fries at the Song Que Café on Kingsland Road and lots of vegetable tapas and grilled octopus at La Vina in Harringay. I even managed to find something at the farmers’ market and enjoyed Moroccan tagine with salad instead of couscous in Ally Pally this Sunday. Perfectly doable but I have to say ordering soda water instead of a chilled glass of Chablis has been a little tough. Still, I’m almost halfway through so at least things are looking up.

Coconut Crisp Chicken  |  Stroud Green Larder

Another key ingredient of making this diet bearable, besides letting someone else do the hard work for a couple of days, is when I can indulge in a bit of a paleo treat and this coconut crisp chicken really is that. This is something I have been making for a while anyway, way before my Whole30 kicked off. The recipe evolved when I started reading about southern fried buttermilk chicken and the buttermilk brine that is used to soak the chicken in overnight before the fry. This method of brining chicken is genius and makes it so tender and perfectly seasoned, especially with the addition of spicy chipotle powder and paprika. I have been working on adapting the buttermilk solution for coconut milk to fit in with a paleo lifestyle and have enjoyed it every time I have been slowly tweaking and perfecting the recipe over the past few months. I think with this final version I have cracked it and it may be my favourite recipe of Whole30 yet. It is utterly delicious accompanied by a zesty lime slaw made of chinese cabbage and sprinkled with coconut flakes to up the coconut ante.

Coconut Crisp Chicken  |  Stroud Green Larder

When you think fried chicken it just carries such an air of unhealthiness to it that it puts people off. However, this recipe is using coconut oil and also, not as much as you think, just a couple of tablespoons melted into a wide bottomed pan are enough to aid the cooking and crisp up your coating. The ingredients here cover the gamut of coconut products lurking in my kitchen, as well as the coconut milk and coconut oil, we have coconut flour to dredge and desiccated coconut to bread the chicken. It’s fragrant and wonderful but do bear in mind that the coconut crisp is a bit more delicate than if you made it with plain old flour and breadcrumbs so be gentle when removing it from the pan.

Coconut Crisp Chicken  |  Stroud Green Larder

Oh, and Puppy joined Doggy Day Care this week and so I couldn’t resist including this photo of the little tyke having the time of his life in the open fields of Hertfordshire.

Billy Buddy

Coconut Crisp Chicken
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
½ tin coconut milk (200ml)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp hot paprika
½ tsp smoked garlic powder
30g coconut oil
50g Coconut flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g desiccated coconut

In a large bowl whisk together the coconut milk, salt, paprika and garlic powder until combined.
Take your chicken breasts and with a meat mallet pummel them until they have flattened down to a 1.5cm even thickness.
Dunk the chicken into the coconut milk mixture and mix in to coat thoroughly. Place cling film on the top of the bowl and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour but overnight if possible.
Place the flour, egg and desiccated coconut in 3 separate bowls.
Bring the chicken out of the marinade, shaking off the excess. Dip the chicken first in the flour, coating on all sides, then the egg, and then the dessicated coconut, making sure it’s evenly coated.
In a large frying pan heat the coconut oil, then when hot add the chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and serve immediately.

Curried Monkfish with Samphire and Black Cardamom Cauliflower Risotto: Day 10 of Whole 30

Curried Monkfish with Samphire and Cauliflower Risotto
Sorry to all Italian cooks for completely bastardising the name of risotto. Of course this is cauliflower rice risotto, otherwise it wouldn’t be very Whole30. And God bless the cauliflower. It has really come into its own of late, cropping up in paleo friendly versions of carb heavy recipes everywhere. Pizza bases, mash and rice should do something to zazz up their marketing asap as cauliflower has totally seized their domains. Who knew a vegetable, so blandly served up in my youth could take on such a superhero identity. It is definitely a Whole30 favourite and boy did I need it to come to my rescue this week. The Week 2 Phase is not relenting, my mood is extra crabby, I’m super tired and I have to stab myself in the eye when I pass any sort of bakery. There was a wonderfully golden foot high madeira cake winking at me today from the window of a dusty wooden floored coffee shop, a few doors down from where I’m working this week; it made me stop and stare like a teenage boy at a playboy centrefold.

Monkfish  |  Stroud Green Larder

But I digress. I’ve written about cauliflower rice before and I cannot emphasise enough how much I needed some good carb alternatives this week. The theory is that we are not supposed to be tricking our bodies into thinking we are eating starchy carbs so that we break down our reliance on this food group, but I’m not sure how far to take this; we’re not complete masochists and a bit of gentle delusion never hurt anybody surely.

So I dug up my faithful cauliflower rice recipe and swapped out the green cardamom that I usually use for black cardamom instead. I diversified from green cardamom recently just to add a bit of glamour to my kitchen and black cardamom has been a fun addition, the pods are huge so 1 is more than enough. It also tastes a lot stronger, earthier and intense so I wouldn’t really recommend it in a sweet recipe. I did make a cardamom jelly using it a few weeks back and it had a very pungent taste. Not that it didn’t grow on me but I won’t make it again.

Curried Monkfish with Samphire and Cauliflower Risotto  |  Stroud Green Larder

I am very happy with the curry paste that I used for the monkfish, it was such a lovely balance of flavours paired with the fresh meaty monkfish. I would recommend melting the coconut oil to liquid form though before you add it in, otherwise it can be difficult to mix the paste up smoothly.

The only other note to make on this recipe is the seasoning of the dish, since it calls for samphire, do watch the amount of salt you add into the cauliflower risotto as it is such a salty little thing and you don’t want your mouth to become a seabed.

Curried Monkfish with Samphire and Cauliflower Risotto  |  Stroud Green Larder

Curried Monkfish with Samphire and Black Cardamon Cauliflower Risotto
serves 2

For the curry paste:
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 cloves garlic
1 red chilli
1 tbsp tomato puree
thumbnail of fresh ginger
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp coconut oil

750g cauliflower
2 tbsp garlic oil
1 black cardamom pod, seeds removed
½ tsp cinnamon
100g samphire
2 pieces of monkfish at about 200g each

  1. First of all make your curry paste. Toast the coriander, cumin, fennel and mustard seeds by placing in a small saucepan and cooking over a low heat for a minute or so until the delicious scents are wafting through your kitchen.
  2. Mix together with all the other curry paste ingredients in a food processor until until smooth then set aside.
  3. Next de-floret the cauliflower. Once you have broken up the cauliflower into rough florets pop into your food processor. Whizz up until the cauliflower has turned into snow (not slush), you might have to do it in batches.
  4. Heat the garlic oil in a large wide bottomed pan. Once hot add your cauliflower snow, along with the cardamom seeds and the cinnamon.
  5. Heat on medium for about 30-40 minutes, giving the pan a shake up every now and then. It’s ready when the cauliflower is turning slightly gold.
  6. At the very end of the cooking time you should add the samphire, letting the heat of the cauliflower wilt it slightly for a 3-4 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile slather the monkfish with the curry paste then place on baking parchment on a baking tray and into an oven pre-heated to 180°C.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the paste is starting to catch on the heat and the monkfish is fully cooked.
  9. Serve the monkfish on top of the cauliflower risotto and a drizzle of melted ghee if you like.

Tuna Slaw Salad with Basil Lime Aioli: Day 8 of Whole30

Tuna Salad with Basil Lime Aioli
This week I am putting my money where my mouth is and going back to a demanding all day job in the city and coupling it with the Whole30. All of my big talk that you can do this and that and knock it together in moments after work making your life less stressful and your evenings effort free is truly going to be tested.

Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

It’s going to be even more challenging now I am hitting the second week of Whole30. Gone are the heady days of excitement and trepidation at my new diet, I am now in the crosspatch Week 2 Phase. This is when my body has finally got the message that I won’t be eating sugar, carbs and sipping g&ts anytime soon and it has gone into full scale rebellion. Although in theory I feel good as I am alert, I don’t feel weighted down and my clothes are more comfortable. I have a consistent headache, I am pleading exhaustion and I am craving cake which is leading to the most horrendous monstrous mood. Ask my husband, if he hasn’t sprinted out of the door yet.

Basil Lime Aioli  |  Stroud Green Larder

Basil Lime Aioli  |  Stroud Green Larder

I know once I get through this week I will be fine, this is just the Week 2 Phase of the diet talking. Once I survive my cravings then I’ll settle down again and go back to the only mildly grumpy girl I usually am. However, why I have decided to team my grizzly mood with the world of TV production, edit suites, deadlines, clients and budgets baffles even me.

Tuna Salad with Basil Lime Aioli  |  Stroud Green Larder. This is precisely why I am going to have to rely on some old faithful recipes this week. I will have to take in my lunch each day, as I will be no good if I have to rely on the kindness of the sandwich shops to offer me any Whole30 respite. I am therefore going to hit up my paleo mayo and have protein and a lovely crunchy slaw most days, mixing up my protein and the ingredients of my salad for interest.

Albacore Tuna  |  Stroud Green Larder

Tomorrow, I am going old school with tuna and I’m very excited about it. Tinned Tuna is so hard done by as an ingredient. I might be extra fond of it as it has memories of my youth and the tuna and cucumber sandwich my Dad used to make me for school every morning. It tastes of comfort and packed lunch. These days though I have turned into a bit of a tuna snob. I turn my nose up at John West tinned stuff and reach out instead to the exorbitantly priced jars of albacore tuna. This means that tuna has turned into a bit of a treat. A jar does about 2 meals but since I am pairing it with a very low cost salad then savings are made elsewhere. It’s still cheaper than chicken. Albacore tuna is meatier than the average tin of tuna, it feels like you are eating real food and not cat food, but to be honest it is so incomparable that unfortunately after indulging in it once you will be unable to go back to regular tuna.

Tuna Salad with Basil Lime Aioli  |  Stroud Green Larder.

Tuna Slaw Salad with Basil Lime Aioli
Serves 1

1 carrot, julienned
½ green pepper, sliced very thinly, then halved
1 celery stick, quartered then sliced very thinly
¼ red onion, sliced very thinly
1 tbsp paleo mayo
A pinch of crushed garlic
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped basil
1 tsp lime juice
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ jar of albacore tuna

  1. This salad is really just an assembly job. Mix together the carrot, pepper, celery and onion and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk up the mayo, garlic, olive oil, basil, lime juice and salt and pepper until completely combined.
  3. Pour the aioli over the salad and coat them thoroughly in the dressing.
  4. Remove the tuna from the tin, pat with a kitchen towel to remove the excessive oil then add the tuna to the rest of the salad.
  5. Pop in a lunchbox and take to work.

Roasted Aubergine and Courgette with Sumac and Herbs

Roasted Aubergine and Courgette with Sumac and Herbs

Today I was very excited to make a silky warming butternut squash soup.  It was exactly what I was hankering for.  I took the stock out of the freezer last night, leered over the butternut in eager anticipation and fished out the chipotle from the very back of the cupboard.  I used a ladder and everything.  It was all systems go.  And then I smashed my kitchenaid blender.  I still don’t understand how as the glass on those things is about an inch thick.  But it briefly kissed the surface of my ceramic sink and shattered like the fragile heart of a tween.

So, basically, you are not getting soup and I’m getting a new blender.

courgette and aubergine3So stepping up to the plate is one of my absolute faves.  It’s probably the one I make the most often of a weekday.  So easy to throw together in the roasting tray straight after work.  Whack it in the oven, have a sit down with a glass of sparkling water, as it’s January, then serve with anything you like.  I have it the most with grilled lamb chops.  It might also be even better the next day taken out of the fridge and brought up to room temperature to have at your desk for lunch, I would never bother re-heating this.  I have eaten it with leftovers, with roast chicken, with garlicky yoghurt drizzled generously over and taken it to picnics.
courgette and aubergineDue to the amount of oil that the aubergine soaks up it’s very rich and so you don’t need a great deal, not that I usually let that stop me.

Oh, and the best thing about this dish… it doesn’t require a blender.

Roasted aubergine and courgette2Roasted Aubergine and Courgette with Sumac and Herbs

2 aubergines
2 courgettes
60ml olive oil
¾ tsp sumac
10g mint leaves, roughly chopped
10g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
10g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Wedge of lemon

  1. Top and tail the aubergine and courgette and then cut each one in half widthways. Halve each again lengthways and then cut into 16 wedges in total.
  2. Toss the wedges in the olive oil, sumac and plenty of seasoning and place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C. Roast for 30-40 mins, checking halfway through to give a good mix around.
  3. Once the aubergine and courgette are soft, lightly browned and slightly crispy at the corners then remove from the oven. Mix together with the herbs, squeeze the lemon wedge over and serve.

Warm Jerusalem Artichoke, Bacon and Toasted Cobnut Salad

Warm Jerusalem Artichoke, Bacon and Toasted Cobnut Salad

When the ferocious winds are battering down your front door and horizontal rain is attacking your windows so vehemently that you feel you are in the middle of the Atlantic entering the eye of the storm then the last thing you probably think of having for lunch is a salad.  However, due to January diets and the urgent need for vitamin enriched food then a robust warming salad is just the ticket.  Salads are one of my favourite meals to make and eat as they are so versatile and allow for such experimentation in flavours and textures.  This hearty combination of creamy Jerusalem artichokes, crisp salty bacon and sweet crunchy cobnuts works wonderfully.

Jerusalem ArtichokesJerusalem artichokes are not normally my go to veg but I haven’t really ever given them a chance so in the spirit of New Year resolutions I read Nigel Slater’s chapter on them in his Tender cookbook which is packed full of different ideas and is where I drew the inspiration for the salad below.
CobnutsCobnuts hail from Kent and after becoming mildly obsessed with getting my hands on some after seeing them on Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds a few weeks ago my husband luckily received some in his stocking from Father Christmas.  They are very similar to hazelnuts both in look and taste but there is something a little fresher to a cobnut and since we now have a big bag of them rolling around the kitchen, then do expect them to crop up here every now and then.  However, if you can’t get hold of any then hazelnuts and hazelnut oil can happily be substituted.
Jerusalem Artichoke Bacon and Cobnut saladWarm Jerusalem Artichoke, bacon and toasted cobnut salad

Serves 2

300g Jerusalem artichokes
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp cobnut oil
1 tbsp olive oil
85g cobnuts, de-shelled
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
A couple of handfuls of rocket

  1. Scrub clean the Jerusalem artichokes then steam for around 20 mins until you can softly pierce the skin with a sharp knife.
  2. Meanwhile make the dressing with the lemon juice, mustard, cobnut oil, olive oil and season and set aside.
  3. Scatter the cobnuts on a baking tray and toast in an oven pre-heated to 180°C for between 5-10 mins until slightly browned. Remove and once cool enough to handle rub the nuts out of their papery skins. Lightly crush the nuts in a pestle and mortar and set aside.
  4. In a frying pan dry fry the bacon rashers until crisp and set aside.
  5. Once the artichokes are ready then slice them with a sharp knife and toss them in the frying pan with the bacon fat and a splash of cobnut oil and sauté them on a medium heat until lightly browned.
  6. Toss together the artichokes with the cobnuts, rocket and a few crumbled up bacon rashers.
  7. Serve immediately with a couple of bacon rashers perched on top.