Friday, 31 August 2012

Czech Potato Pancakes

Nice and simple, I baked these potato pancakes in the oven rather than frying them in fat. 


Serves 4
Syn Free on Extra Easy

6 large potatoes, peeled
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
salt and pepper to taste

Grate the potatoes and squeeze out as much water as you can. Mix with all the other ingredients and shape into pancakes on a large oven-proof baking tray, flattening them down slightly with the back of a spoon. Spray with Fry Light and bake for 15-20 minutes at 200°C or until golden and cooked through. Serve as an accompaniment or on its own with fromage frais (in place of soured cream).


This Hungarian version of ratatouille is often eaten by itself as a main meal, with or without bacon; but can of course also be used as a side dish. 


Serves 4
Syn Free on Extra Easy

2 green peppers, thinly sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
200ml passata
salt and pepper
2 tsp paprika or chilli powder

Sauté the onion and peppers in Fry Light until soft. Add the passata, salt, pepper and paprika and stir well. Simmer for a few more minutes before serving.

Thracian Tomato Casserole

This is a typical recipe from the Thracian region of southern Bulgaria. It is eaten at harvest time during the hottest days of the year. 


Serves 4
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

* Providing you use the bread as your Healthy Extra B

3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1kn tomatoes
40g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
2 tsp paprika

Place the parsley in the bottom of an oven dish. S;ice the tomatoes, discarding the end pieces. Lay the tomatoes in the dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle each layer with salt, pepper and a tiny amount of sweetener. Mix the breadcrumbs with the paprika, salt and pepper to taste and add over the top of the tomatoes. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 200°C. Can be served as a vegetarian main dish or as a side dish to meat.

Croatian Pork Schnitzels

During our tour of the Balkan states a few years ago, we felt after a while that we were having meat overload – some of their dishes were so laden down with meat, and not a vegetable in sight. It is certainly not a place for vegetarians! The picture below shows a mixed grill just for one person! I really missed vegetables on that trip – they rarely came as standard with the meal and often weren't available to order as a side dish. And almost everything came with chips – I am not a great lover of chips....

These schnitzels are not that heavy on the meat, and I have included a few vegetables for good measure (and to fill up on superfree foods). I have also used fromage frais in place of soured cream.

Serves 4
Syn Free on Extra Easy

4 pork steaks
115g chicken livers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
175g mushrooms, all visible fat removed and chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 rashers bacon, chopped
2 tsp bouillon powder to make stock
1 tsp mustard powder
250ml fat free fromage frais

Place the pork between 2 pieces of cling film and flatten using a culinary mallet or a rolling pin. Season well. Sauté the chicken livers with the garlic in Fry Light for a few minutes. Leave to cool. Divide the chicken livers between the steaks and roll up, securing with a toothpick (remember to remove before serving). Fry the schnitzels in Fry Light for a few minutes each side until cooked through.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions, bacon and mushrooms in Fry Light, then add stock, mustard powder and fromage frais. Heat gently without boiling. Serve the schnitzels with the sauce. 


Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup

In Hungary this would be served as a starter, but we had it as dessert. It is always served cold, and is a typical summer dish, when cherries are plentiful, and it's very refreshing on a hot day – not that we get that many hot days in England. The dish is best with sour cherries or morellos rather than the sweet bing variety, and really wouldn't be the same with canned or frozen cherries. I substituted fromage frais for the much more fattening soured cream in the original recipe.

Serves 2
2½ syns on Extra Easy

200g fresh cherries, pitted
generous pinch of salt
2 tbsp sweetener
450ml water
250ml fat free fromage frais

Place the cherries, water, salt and sweetener in a saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Leave to cool. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of cooking liquid, then stir the fromage frais into the soup, mixing well. Serve with the reserved cooking liquid swirled in. 


Joloff Chicken and Rice

This well known, colourful West African dish is easy to prepare and very tasty. My first experience of this was in Kumasi in Ghana, in a small restaurant just off the town centre with a delightful poster on the wall. Although it didn't instil much confidence in the food at the time, it did bring about a few laughs, and we were told that the meaning was to suggest that you “live for today as you don't know what tomorrow brings”. Maybe it lost something in translation. 


The mats on the table are also West African – we bought them in a small village in Burkina Faso, where we could see the women weave mats and baskets. 


I baked the chicken legs in the oven before adding them to the stew, as I wanted to make sure that they were cooked through. 

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

2 chicken legs, skin removed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 onions, chopped
200ml passata
1 chilli, finely chopped
150g rice
flavourful chicken stock

Rub the chicken with the garlic and set aside for 30 minutes. Bake at 200°C for around 20 minutes, until almost cooked. Meanwhile, sauté the onions in Fry Light until soft. Add the tinned tomato, chilli, passata, chicken legs and enough stock to just cover. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the rice and chicken are cooked through. 


Tanzanian Fish Curry

I removed all the flesh from the bones before adding the fish to the sauce, as both of us are fussy fish eaters, but you can of course serve the bream whole on top of the curry if you wish. You can alter the amount of ginger to suit your taste, we love ginger with a passion, so usually add way more than the recipe states. I added some carrots and leeks to my rice to bulk out the superfree.

Serves 2
4½ syns on Extra Easy
2 fresh breams, cleaned
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 green pepper, chopped
small knob fresh ginger, chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
rice and vegetables to serve

Sprinkle the fish with salt and grill for 5-10 minutes until it is cooked. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and peppers in Fry Light until soft. Add the tinned tomatoes, peanut butter, chilli and enough stock to make a thinnish sauce. Simmer for a few minutes. When the fish is cooked, remove the skin and bones and add the flesh to the curry. Serve with rice. 


Buckwheat Kasha

I am totally hooked on buckwheat at the moment, and thought I'd have a go at making a Russian savoury porridge for breakfast. Kasha is a Russian word for toasted buckwheat – I remember the first time I tried it was in one of the former USSR states, in a small hotel in Minsk, Belarus. 


Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

½ cup buckwheat
1 ½ cup stock
1 onion
4 slices bacon, all visible fat removed
1 tbsp chopped basil to serve

Dry toast the buckwheat until starting to brown and becoming fragrant. Add the stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in Fry Light until soft. Grill the bacon and chop. When the kasha is cooked, add the onion and stir well. Serve topped with the chopped bacon and sprinkle over the basil. 


Apple and Cinnamon Tart

Husband loves anything with cooked apple (I prefer the apples raw, and end up eating all the skin as I peel them for his dishes), so I am constantly trying to work out low syn recipes containing apple. 


Serves 6-8
½ syn for the whole cake on Extra Easy*

*Providing you use the cooked apples as your Healthy Extra B

½ cup buckwheat
2-3 tbsp sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp quark
½ tsp baking powder
2 eggs, separated
vanilla essence
2 tbsp sweetener
2 tsp cinnamon powder
7 apples
sweetener to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a spring form cake tin by spraying it with Fry Light. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and dry toast the buckwheat until they start to brown, 3-5 minutes. Switch off the pan, add 2 tbsp sweetener, 1 tsp cinnamon and ca 1 tbsp water to mix it all in. Stir until all the water has evaporated. Quickly line the bottom of the cake tin with the buckwheat and leave to cool.

Mix together the egg yolks, baking powder, 1-2 tsp vanilla essence, 2 tbsp sweetener, cinnamon and the quark, using an electric whisk. In a separate clean bowl, using a clean whisk, whip the egg whites until firm. Carefully fold the yokes into the whites. Pour the mixture on top of the buckwheat and bake for 10-15 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool.

Peel and core 5 of the apples and cut into small chunks. Place in a saucepan with the sweetener and 2 tsp cinnamon and enough water to only just cover the apples. Simmer until the apples are very soft and mash up with a potato masher. Pour the apple sauce over the cake in the tin.

Peel and core the rest of the apples and slice very thinly. Arrange in a pattern on top of the sauce and bake at 200°C for 25-35 minutes until the apples are cooked through. 


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Old Clothes Soup

This evening I turned the Ropa Vieja ('old clothes') into a very nice soup by adding some water and extra chilli flakes. I so enjoy leftovers!

Floating Islands with Raspberries

Floating Islands are little poached meringue dumplings, usually served over thin custard. I have also seen them served over a fruit coulis, but I decided to save my syns and just serve them with fruit. And very nice they were too. 


Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

* I have not included any syns for the milk – not sure how much of the milk is actually absorbed by the meringues, so to be on the safe side, you may wish to use the milk as your Healthy Extra A.

200g frozen raspberries, thawed
1 tbsp sweetener
3 egg whites
3-4 tbsp sweetener
100ml skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp sweetener

Stir 1 tbsp sweetener into the raspberries and place in two shallow bowls. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm. Gradually add 1 tbsp sweetener and continue whisking until the mixture is nice and shiny and very stiff. Place the milk, vanilla essence and sweetener in a fairly deep saucepan and top up with water until the depth is about 2 ½ inches. Bring to a gentle simmer. Using two dessert spoons, shape the meringue into little egg shapes and lower them gently into the liquid. Be careful not to have the heat too high as it boils over very easily, and the meringue dumplings are very fragile. Cook for about five minutes, very carefully turning them over half way through. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on top of the berries in the bowls. 


Cod and Chips

By special request from Husband, I made 'fish'n'chips' tonight, the Slimming World way. He was very pleased with the result. I added some mange tout to the peas, in order to increase my intake of superfree.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

* Providing you use the bread as your Healthy Extra B

2 cod loins
2 slices wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery salt
¼ tsp ground white pepper
3-4 potatoes, depending on size
peas and grilled tomatoes to serve

In a food processor, reduce the bread to fine crumbs. Spread out on a non-greased baking sheet and place in the oven on a fairly high heat. Bake for a few minutes – you need to keep a close eye on it as it can easily burn – then shuffle it all about a bit and bake for a few more minutes until crunchy and golden, but not completely brown. Mix with the thyme, garlic powder, celery salt and pepper. Dip the cod loins in the beaten egg and coat in the breadcrumbs.

Peel and cut the potatoes into chips. Blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, drain well and shake the colander well to rough them up a bit. Husband loves doing this bit for me.

Place the chips on a baking sheet, and bake at 220°C for 20-30 minutes. For the last 10 minutes before of the cooking time, put the cod in the oven too. Serve with peas, grilled tomatoes or vegetables of your choice.


I adapted this recipe ever so slightly from the Slimming World Love Desserts cookbook. It is absolutely delicious and had me craving for more afterwards. Just as well it was made up in individual glasses.

Serves 3
4 syns on Extra Easy

1 egg yolk
1 tbsp sweetener
a few drops vanilla essence
200g quark
9 sponge fingers
3 tsbs instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsps water
3 tbsp sweetener
1 tbsp brandy
250g fat free natural fromage frais
sweetener to taste
1 tsp cocoa powder

Whisk egg yolk with 1 tbsp sweetener until thick and creamy. Add the vanilla essence and 1 tbsp quark and whisk in gently. Gradually add the remaining quark, whisking to form a smooth cream.

Mix the coffee, water, 3 tbsp sweetener and brandy in a small bowl. Break each sponge finger in three and dip them in the coffee – long enough to soak up some of the liquid, but not so long that they become soggy and fall apart. Put half the coffee flavoured sponge fingers in the bottom of three tall-stemmed glasses, adding the quark mixture on top. Add the rest of the sponge fingers, then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Just before serving, top with the fromage frais, sweetened to taste, and dust with the cocoa powder. 


Ropa Vieja

This is a very traditional Cuban stew – the name, which means 'old clothes', refers to the fact that the meat is cooked so well it can be shredded. It's a great dish to cook in the slow cooker, although I am sure it would be equally successful to make on the stove top – you just need to adjust the timings accordingly. 


Serves 4
Syn Free on Extra Easy

Small beef roasting joint
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried rosemary, crushed
6 tbsp sherry vinegar
3 cups stock
200 ml passata

Remove all the fat from the beef and cut into 3 or 4 large chunks. Place in the slow cooker with the stock and cook for 7-8 hours on a low setting. About half way through, add all the other ingredients, except the passata. Once the beef is cooked, shred with two forks and add back into the stew with the passata. Stir well, make sure it all hot and serve. It's that simple.

Traditionally served with rice, as my dad doesn't eat rice, I made some mash from potatoes and sweet potatoes to go with it, on the advice of a very dear Cuban friend. 


Cuban Mashed Potato

Having a conversation with a very dear Cuban friend about an accompaniment for the traditional Cuban dish of Ropa Vieja I was making for someone who doesn't eat rice (my dad), he suggested a mixture of mashed 'normal' and red sweet potato. Of course, my friend would use lots of butter in the mashing – as would I if I wasn't trying to lose weight – but I have adapted it to suit the Slimming World plan. 


Serves 3

250g sweet potato
250g white potato
2 tsp bouillon powder

Boil the potatoes separately until both are cooked, then mix in a large bowl and mash with the bouillon powder using a potato masher. This dish makes a nice change from the more regular mashed potato, and even Husband, who is not a great lover of sweet potato, enjoyed it served this way.

Zeytinyağlı Pırasa

This is a Turkish side dish of leeks and carrots with rice, and is very easy to make as well as a good way of ensuring you get some superfree with your meal. 


Serves 4
Syn Free on Extra Easy

4 leeks, thickly sliced
1 big onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
¼ cup rice
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp sweetener
salt and pepper

Sauté the onion in Fry Light for a few minutes, then add the carrots and continue frying for 3-4 minutes longer. Add the leeks and stir for a couple more minutes. Add 2/3 cup of water, the sweetener, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then add the rice and lemon juice. Cover and cook on a low heat until the rice is cooked.

Spicy Sausage and Cauliflower Pasta

I used the leftover spicy cauliflower from a couple of says ago from this, but below is the instructions on how you would make it from scratch. 


Serves 2
½ syn for the entire dish

½ cauliflower
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 fresh red chilli, seeded
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tub Müllerlight coconut and vanilla yogurt
1 tsp sweetener
1 tsp tamarind powder
3 cooked Joe's sausages, sliced
150g cooked pasta
2 tbsp Greek Basil, Chopped

Trim the stalk from the cauliflower and break into tiny florets. Cook in plenty of salted water for a few minutes until tender. Grind the onion, garlic, chilli and turmeric together in a food processor to form a smooth paste. Stir in yogurt, sweetener, salt and tamarind powder. Add the cauliflower, sausage, pasta and basil. Gently heat in a saucepan without boiling. 


Potato Cakes with Baked Beans

The half a syn in this recipe comes from the fresh breadcrumbs – I made one small slice into crumbs and used maybe only 1/5 of it. You can of course omit the breadcrumbs to make it syn free. I added some leftover stir fry vegetables to try and get some superfree in – any cooked vegetables would work in this recipe I reckon.

Serves 4
½ syn on Extra Easy (see note above)

450g potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large onion, chopped
3 tbsp fromage frais
2 egg yolks
1 egg, beaten
1 slice wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf
tin baked beans
leftover cooked vegetables
2-4 tbsp passata

Cook the potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes until cooked through. Drain well and mash. Leave to cool a little. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in Fry Light until soft. Stir the onions into the mash with the fromage frais and a little water if necessary to get the consistency right. Mix in the egg yolks and season.

Shape into rounds, then flatten to make approximately 16 patties about 5-6 cm across. Place the patties on a greased baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs over the top (see note above) and bake at 180°C for about 30 minutes until nicely browned.

Heat the baked beans with the added vegetables. Add the passata and a little water to dilute the sauce and serve with the potato cakes.