Mr Squid and his Testicles

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The weekends begin on Saturday morning with Mr K asking what I want for dinner.
Me: ‘But I’m drinking my first cup of tea, I don’t even know what I want for breakfast yet. AVA (7) STOP SINGING FROZEN, IT’S TOO EARLY’.
Mr K: But I need to go to the market this morning if you wan’t fish’
Daisy (3): Mummy, Mummy, is it swimming day?’
Me: Yes, now get your swimming things together, (turning to Mr K)’I don’t mind, you decide’
Mr K: ‘But if I don’t do something Slimming World you will get cross with me’
Me: ‘But everything can be adapted but I don’t really fancy (select random food as appropriate)’
Mr K: ‘Well that’s helpful, I was going to do ‘insert random food’ huff.
Daisy (3): I can’t find my swimming things and I need a poo’
Ava (7): Do you have a pen, I’m going to write a book today?’
Whilst all of this is going on Gracie (10) is still asleep in bed…

And the next Saturday repeat, and so on. Sometimes I am astonished we even manage to get out of bed and dressed let alone to swimming lessons and even manage to get something for dinner despite my ‘random daily dislikes’ as Mr K calls them but hey, sometimes I just don’t fancy a certain something. It drives him insane!

I’m sure most of you can appreciate those conversations if you have kids, surely it’s not just in my house, is it?

This recipe was on my ‘to make’ list as soon as I saw it – tasty, already Slimming World friendly and somewhat unusual so it was made the very next Saturday, although I’m not sure that went down very well with Mr K either as he couldn’t have THAT Saturday morning conversation. But it was brilliant, the squid was lovely and tender because it was cooked for so long and the kids absolutely loved it – we had sauce left over that we used for pasta coating another day which was great.

To show my kids I do listen to them and am not always doing ten things at once I have named this exactly as Daisy named it – there is trouble when you say tentacles to my 3 year old. Hopefully that won’t bring up anything ‘unusual’ if you search for this, but I can’t promise….

Mr Squid and his Testicles – serves 2 hungry adults syns – 1/2 syn

  • pinch dried chilli flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 medium or 8 small squid tubes, plus tentacles reserved
  • 400ml passata
  • 400g can cannellini beans, drained
  • large teaspoon shrimp paste (or 8 small raw, peeled prawns)
  • 2 handfuls flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 10 olives in brine, chopped

Spray fry light in a saucepan and add chilli, garlic and onion. Saute for 5 minutes until onion is softened. Add squid tentacles until they tighten and have a little colour.

Add passata, simmer and place lid on pan.

For filling:
Place cannellini beans in blender and blend until smooth, stir in prawns or fish paste, three quarters of parsley and olives. I made all of this in blender (and forgot to save some parsley for serving).

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Stuff filling into squid tubes pushing all the way down and fasten with cocktail stick.

Place squid into simmering tomato sauce, put on lid and gently simmer for 40 minutes.

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Serve with a green salad

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A Cornish Escape

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We have just had a fantastic week in Cornwall, beaches, long walks across clifftops to pubs, cycles along the Camel trail with the kids. We come back filled with ideas of moving (this is not unusual). So the decision is we shall sell up and buy a fantastic house with land where I can grow micro salads and sell them to all the restaurants and deli’s and Mr K can run an Art Gallery, the kids can go to the beach every day after school and learn to surf – sounds perfect eh. Then thump, back to reality. After a week of lovely sleep I make the fatal error of checking my work emails on a Friday night and I haven’t slept well since. It wasn’t that there was anything particularly dramatic in the emails, it was the sheer volume of them and realizing that actually, I will have to deal with them, but for now I will try to forget (as I kept saying to myself when I’m tossing and turning all night). Apparently I really irritatingly tap my foot when I’m awake in the night. I do try lots of relaxation techniques, imagining the sinking into the mattress type stuff, and the sheep counting too but I find that I end up dressing the sheep up or trying to make them jump over the fence in a gymnastics fashion which IS NOT condusive to getting to sleep.

So to take me away from all of that Mr K made me a delicious crab risotto with the leftover spider crab we brought back with us, we got this is Port Isaac (the place where Doc Martin is filmed, see below), a lovely little village – he loves spider crab and this only cost £1 (seriously £1), apparently it’s claws were quite small so we wouldn’t get much meat out of it and as people in the UK don’t like them so the fisherman told us (too spiky or something), but they are sweet and a I love picking it over, as do the children and Mr K’s Nanny Devon just would have sat with my kids adoringly helping them pick it over too if she were still alive. I know this is similar to Singing Aida that I posted a while ago but had to share it with you as the crab is so delicate and sweet it is just so special.

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Oh, I weighed myself when I got back and whoops, those large glasses of wine had an effect as my scales says 6 ½ lbs on (nooooo). Luckily, after some real best behaviour over the next few days when I stepped on the SW scales it was only 1 ½ on which I thankfully lost, plus another pound this week – back on track!

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Spider Crab Risotto with Grey Mullet – Serves 2 – 2 syns per serving

  • 3 shallots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • small glass white wine
  • Pinch saffron
  • 1 litre Shellfish stock (can use fish stock)
  • 1 spider crab, picked over and brown meat also removed and used
  • 2 fillets grey mullet
  • Samphire

Gently fry shallots and garlic until soft but not coloured

Add risotto rice and keep stirring but leave it on the heat until it is ‘singing Aida’ (what a great description)- this takes longer than you think, be brave but do not let it burn.

Add the saffron to the wine and leave for a couple of minutes to infuse then take wine and stir into rice until it has evaporated and turn down to a simmer, then start adding warm stock ladle by ladle, only adding another one when the last one has been soaked up by the rice. Mr K insists that you should only stir this clockwise (something to do with not breaking down the rice) but I have to say I have never done this, just be kind to it.

Keep doing the above for a good 20 minutes until all of the stock is used and the rice has a ‘slight bite’. If you have used all of the stock and the rice is still not cooked you can then add water.

Lightly brush fillets of fish with some olive oil, then season and place skin side down in a frying pan, when slightly crisp turn these only to slightly cook the top side without letting the fish dry out (this should only take 3-4 skin side and a further minute flesh side).

Add the samphire to a pan of water and blanch for couple of minutes until tender.

Here is a really good tip. Once the risotto is cooked turn off the heat, add the crab meat and a little more water so that when you run a spoon across the pan the risotto falls back to make a flat surface, basically so it is not too dry. Put a lid on and leave for 5 minutes – this relaxes the risotto and all of the flavours merge to make a lovely, creamy risotto.

More Curry Joy!

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I told you I like a good curry and I have to say that there are loads of Slimming World curries that are fantastic. However, I’m a bit of a curry fanatic and the fact that I have about 50 curry recipe books that I would abandon brings me out in a bit of a sweat. We have a fabulous curry house here in Cambridge that one of our group members booked for our Slimming World Christmas Meal – I know, you would think that if you were following SW the last thing you would do is go out for a curry but she had a long chat with them as she had a meal there virtually every week and they adapted dishes for her – they even used Frylight. Now I know that if I mentioned that at my nearest curry house they would probably throw a Naan bread and tikka skewer at me – literally. Anyway, the meal was amazing, prawns, chicken and lamb curries with sauces, fruit salads – it was fantastic. And if my mind serves me correctly I still lost a pound that week.

I’ve been to The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow lots of times over the year’s – it’s win win, fabulous rooms, the sea, great walks and great food – what more can you want and it’s our treat. The thought of a fish curry revolted me until I had my first one there, which was possibly a monkfish curry, but don’t quote me on that, every time I go I have to have a curry, they are always properly spicy and deliciously fresh – and the Singapore crab was a terribly messy, very lengthy affair but I loved every second of it – I am not a woman easily phased if presented with a whole crab, it’s cutlery down and tucked napkin down neck of whatever I’m wearing – not in a greedy way, it’s just the way it should be! The curry I am showing you is from Rick Stein’s ‘India’ and was delicious – it’s the red one at the top of the picture (the chicken one was also delicious but I will tell you about another day) – the perfect heat, the fish wasn’t overpowered by the sauce. Just YUM!  I had to adapt a couple of minor things because it was what I had in the kitchen.

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Madras Fish Curry with tomato and tamarind – serves 4 just with rice -less than 1/2 syn per portion

  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds (I used black mustard seeds)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely crushed
  • 30 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste diluted in 100ml water
  • 2 green chillies, sliced into 6 pieces lengthways (I used 2 red chillies)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 700g fish fillets, cut into chunks – I used Gurnard

Heat some frylight in a pan and fry mustard seeds for around 30 seconds, stir in onion and garlic and fry gently for around 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden.  Add curry leaves, chilli powder, coriander and turmeric and fry for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, tamarind liquid, chillies and salt and simmer for 10 more minutes until rich and reduced.  Add fish and cook for further 5 minutes or until cooked through and serve with rice.

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‘Ta Dah’ Paella

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You may have heard my previous mentioning of Mr K and his glory cooking. It’s delicious but normally rather costly so reserved for weekends. I thought I would show you one of the dishes that is purely his territory – his lovely Paella. After talking me through this it is virtually syn free – he says there is no way you can use fry light so Slimming World members, if you want a challenge then have a go with it and see if it works for you.

We bought our paella dish in Cornwall when on holiday – it is absolutely huge but perfect, somehow it only seems right if this dish is oversized – it’s all in the dramatic ‘tah-dah’ presentation on the table, with a huge serving spoon to get the best, crusty bits of rice that stick to the sides and the bottom of this dish. So he talked me through it and here it is.

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Paella – serves 6-8 1 1/2 syn per person

  • Paella rice – 600g
  • 1 spanish onion – finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 peppers, colour preference – sliced
  • Fish stock, 1 ½ litres
  • Saffron, large pinch
  • Choritzo, 100g, thinly sliced
  • Lemon (to garnish)

Seafood (mixture of clams, prawns, mussels, monkfish and squid and langoustines if you can afford it) – remember to clean and prepare fish and shellfish (or get your fishmonger to do this)

This size paella pan fits perfectly across 2 gas rings on our cooker – adapt as necessary.

Put 2 tbsp olive oil into paella pan, gently sweat onion and garlic until softened then add chorizo until it releases oil.

Add peppers and cook until softened.

Add monkfish and fry briefly, scatter prawns, squid and clams around pan and then add rice and saffron strands, stir everything together.

Add stock and 2 ½ tsp salt and bring to boil, stir briefly.

Leave to simmer vigorously for 6 mins over medium high heat but do not stir ANY MORE, just turn pan ¼ turn every 2 minutes (for the rest of the cooking time).

Reduce heat to medium, arrange mussels and prawns/langoustines around pan and push slightly into rice.

Leave to cook for 14 minutes (Remember, no stirring, just turning), after this time all of the stock should have been absorbed and there should be slight pitting on surface of rice.

Turn off, cover pan with clean tea towel and leave for 5 minutes to rest

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