It’s the second day of “no carb, no dairy” week. For moral support, I roped my flatmate into this scheme. It’s only day two, and yet we have already started nerding out by emailing each other during the day wondering if the other has given into temptation.
I have to say, lunch isn’t all that bad. I’ve resorted to making salads in the office kitchen, and I have adopted some survivor-like methods. In the morning, I snatch the only sharp knife with the duct tape covered handle to cut my lemons, and I store my olive oil and salt and pepper in the edit suite so no one will steal them. Yes, this is living folks.
But my nemesis has become that damn bag of nuts and raisins. The purchase was originally made to curb my doughnut habit. What was the best intention is now a new addiction. I have become an urban squirrel, feverishly chomping away until I’ve half emptied the bag and I’m 400 calories heavier.
Tonight I made supper for our friend Rob who was happy to entertain my California-style whim. I completely winged it, and I didn’t even really know what I was making until halfway through. I essentially made five different elements which became one dish in the end. I tried to concentrate on each component’s flavour profile and consider its individual identity as well as how it would fit into the whole. I admit the presentation needs work as I don’t think it looks all that spectacular. But for whatever eye-catching bit it lacks on the plate, it makes up for in flavour.
So the real question is do I actually feel better after all this effort? Considering I feel as bloated as the Snoopy float at the Macy’s Day Parade, I’ll reserve judgment until the end of the week.
Prawns with Roasted Red Peppers, Anchovy, Pancetta, and Smashed White Beans
500 g prawns, shelled and cleaned
a big pinch of sugar
a big pinch of salt
a big pinch of pepper
1/2 juice from an orange
Toss the prawns with sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Make the roasted red peppers, pancetta, and beans before you continue with the prawns.
Heat olive oil in a pan on medium high heat. Saute prawns for 2-3 minutes or until cooked through. Squeeze in the orange juice.
Roasted Red Pepper, Anchovy, and Lemon
3 red bell peppers
6-7 anchovies, chopped
1 zest lemon
1/2 juice of a lemon
a bit of olive oil from the anchovies
Roast the peppers in the oven under the grill until they are charred. Remove and let steam in a paper bag or a tea towel. Remove the blackened skin, chop, and place in a bowl. Add the anchovies, zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Mix and set aside until ready to use.
Smashed White Beans
700 g or 3 cans of white cannellini beans, rinsed
4 cloves of garlic, minced
100 ml hot water or pork stock
1 tsp smoked paprika
I am still trying to figure out if beans qualify as carbs or protein. In this instance, I am labeling them as protein.
In a small bowl mix hot liquid with the paprika and pepper. I prefer to use a stock cube, but if you are a “real” chef you would have some frozen pork stock on hand. If you consider stock cubes culinary heresy then opt for hot water, but add some salt to compensate for flavour.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic. Add the beans and stir until they sizzle. Add in the liquid and simmer for 15-30 minutes. Smash just before serving.
100 g pancetta, cubed
4-5 springs of lemon thyme, leaves only
Fry all together over medium heat until crispy. Hold until ready to serve.
To plate, spoon the beans and top with prawns and a bit of the cooking liquid. Next drizzle with the red pepper and anchovy, then finish with a sprinkle of pancetta. I served this along side a salad of chard and rocket, simply dressed with lemon, olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper.