Friday, 28 January 2011

Feta and chilli salad

You've all gone perfectly potty for the idea of low-carb recipes. I had no idea that that was the way to your hearts. I had thought you liked my swearing, my slap-dash cooking instructions and my amateurish photographs.

But it turns out that you all just want to be THIN and want nothing more than ideas for low-carb stuff that isn't grilled chicken and broccoli. Whether you are preparing for weddings, or losing babyweight, or just trying to shift general blubber you all want to be SKINNY and to hell with all those fattie know-it-alls, who try and tell you about being a "healthy weight" and having a balanced diet.

"Fuck you!" you scream. "I don't need BOTH kidneys and heart failure is a small price to pay for being 7.5 stone."

So anyway, not that I'm really craven or desperate to please or anything, but I'll have a care to feature more low-carb things. I mean, it's going to be all you get once I'm on a diet too, so we might as well start now.

But I need to clarify what I mean by low-carb. I don't mean carb-FREE; I think as long as you cut out:

refined sugar (i.e. not fructose, so you can eat fruit)

weight will come off. Cutting out those things is hard enough, without also dodging stuff like butternut squash, fruit and whatever else randomly has carbs in it. Carrots, or whatever. I also don't think it's neccessary (unless you're feeling really hardcore) to cut out alcohol.

And I think a very occasional square of high-percentage cocoa solid chocolate is okay. That is, as long as you can ration yourself to 1 or 2 squares and aren't one of those people who ends up eating the whole bar. Which I think might possibly be everyone.

So, this chilli feta salad is a thing I pinched off Nigel Slater. We had it for dinner last night and although I almost never reach for a salad at dinner - way, way too depressing, especially in January - this was actually really great. As with all these things, I think you can get away with having it with some rye toast or a wholemeal pitta bread. Note I said A wholemeal pitta bread, not 6 wholemeal pitta breads plural.

Chilli and feta salad
for 2

1 packet feta
1 chilli, seeds out, chopped
1 lime
olive oil
3 spring onions
1 avocado, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
chopped coriander
mixed lettuce - I used chicory and little gem

It's pretty self-explanatory but I'll go through it anyway.

1 Cook in some groundnut oil over a very low flame the chilli and spring onion for about 6 minutes. Squeeze over some lime juice and scatter in some zest. Turn the heat up and add the block of feta and leave to cook for about 4/5 minutes each side on a medium-high flame.

2 Arrange the salad-bit on a plate and dress with olive oil, lime juice and salt. Plonk on top the cooked feta and scatter over the chilli, spring onion and coriander.

Eat while looking at a photograph of Megan Fox, and chant "THIN THIN THIN".

Jamie's cherry vanilla affogato

This I'll just mention in passing, seeing as I know a pudding isn't really what you want to know about right now. But I made it so you might as well know about it.

This is from Jamie's 30-Minute Meals and I thought it looked like a clever, sweet idea - and it is. Although the very expensive tin of organic black cherries I bought tasted of absolutely nothing at all. Really nothing. They were more of a texture than a taste. So this is only really worth doing if you can get your hands on some cherries that actually taste like something.

1 Mix up some instant espresso powder (you can get it from Waitrose, it's called "Percol" and it's just like very strong instant coffee - perfectly nice) - with a teaspoonful of sugar. For one cup, you only need about a shot's worth, so for, say, six people you'd need about a cupful.

2 Crumble some shortbread into the bottom of an espresso or small coffee cup

3 On top blob a ping-pong-sized ball of vanilla ice-cream and a tablespoonfull of cherries. Sprinkle over some flaked dark chocolate if you like. Just before serving, pour a shot-sized sloop of coffee over the whole lot. V nice, makes the shortbread go cakey and peps up the vanilla ice cream. And the cherries, if you can find some nice ones, will add extra mystery.


  1. I did the low-carb thing before Christmas and it's the first diet I've ever tired that a) I've stuck to and b) has worked. Probably because you can eat cheese and have a glass of wine on it. I lost a dress size in six weeks, and never felt hungry. Success!

    As an aside, I do love the swearing and the comical observations - largely because that's how normal people cook, isn't it? With the occasional incident that requires an expletive? It's how I cook, anyway...

  2. I love the swearing most but the aside of low carb would is fab.

    P.S. I'm a fatty and need (want) to ditch it have tried LC and its ace for the beginning but then nothing...must try harder clearly so low carb here we go

    *runs off to find a picture of Megan Fox and practise chanting!*

  3. Thank you!!!!! I'm off down the shops armed with three of your recipes. Thin, here we come!! xx

  4. Can I make a small request? When you say "add a chilli" can you say what sort you used? There's about eleventy-billion different types ranging from "you can detect the heat if you concentrate really hard" (I class Jalapenos in this group), up to Dorset Nagas (which you should only ever consume if you are IN the A&E waiting room and are clinically insane to boot).

    More importantly (and slightly more seriously) some are quite fruity/citrous-y (Habaneros and Aji Hot Lemons)(the latter of which you really should try) but ones like Tabascos and Prairie Fires aren't.

    Thanks. And keep up the swearing. It's not a real recipe if you haven't set the kitchen on fire at least once.

  5. Unless otherwise stated, chillies are always the bog standard ones they sell in Waitrose. They're not too hot, but get hotter the older they are.

    I'm never more specific than that because I think chilli strength is personal. People tend to know what they like and what they can take - it's not really for me to suggest how hot a dish ought to be, or to send people off in search of dorset nagas.

    And anyway, you sound like you know an awful lot about chillies - I'd have thought you of all people don't need guidance fro litle old me.

  6. Aye, fair point.

    If you're interested in getting some of the Ajis then I can highly recommend The South Devon Chilli Farm:

    (that's a direct link to the Ajis)

    We've found that when you get the dried pods you can de-seed a couple and grow the seeds.

  7. Wow - you're pretty intuitive - what gave it away??

    Loving the way this is going - need all the low carb help I can get, currently stuffing my face with a pulled pork WHITE (arrrggghhh) roll sandwich. Tis Friday after all and I'm up to my eyes in tax returns...


  8. Did you do the salad as the main dish or was it a side? Was it filling enough for my food hovering husband?

  9. I did this as a main, with a couple of pittas to take the edge off. But I certainly wouldn't give this to a food-hooverer for dinner, unless they were on a diet, too - as my husband almost always is. This would do for a food-hooverer for lunch, though.

  10. Some years ago I did a sort of 'Atkins-light' diet ...... meat and cheese for breakfast, wonderful!! I love your style, including the swearing (some of the ladies who read my blog would fall to the floor in a faint if I started using the f-word!)

  11. Just trying to explain to the boyfriend that I completely understand your feelings on weight. It's sad, but I am indeed happier at 8 stone (aah, happy days).

    Although it's true that breastfeeding makes you lose weight quickly (once everything has gone back into place, so to speak) I found that my weight just stayed the same for ages, at about 10.5st. I've just given up breastfeeding my 9 month old daughter and have noticed the weight is falling off rapidly.

    Hang in there! It'll all be OK.

  12. I have heard that breastfeeding initially makes weight come off but then the last bit stubbornly clings on until you give up... you would seem to bear out that theory. Although it's all such shit isn't it, everyone's different xx

  13. Keep the recipes coming please. I did a low carb-moderate protein diet with Dr Mantzourani and lost 8st in 5 months but I always need new ideas to keep the weight off.

  14. Yes, everyone's different, which is why I think low-carb will work for some and not for others, depending on what the individual person thinks he or she can live without forever (because once you go back to high carb, that's it and you're back to being fatter than ever, I'm told). But that salad does look tasty, so I will give it a go.

  15. Low carb not no carb - exactly what I blog about and believe in! Have lost over two stone and as a serial diet failer with hardly any willpower was amazed how easy it is to stick to (as long as you are prepared with ingredients that is). Fabulous to see some low carb recipes on your site and what a amazing looking salad - am definitely trying it, thanks!

  16. Yum yum, i ate this and it was very nice indeed! Ta x Gaby

  17. ...unfortunately alcohol has a lot of calories..sniff...

  18. Great salad recipe thanks, although I am wondering if it really was you typing this post as there is only one expletive in the whole thing!!
    One of my saviours when on a low carb diet is cajun spice. Even a small amount sprinkled on some fish, pork chops or chicken fillets makes such a massive difference. It is even better on a chicken fillet, topped with grated cheese & served with chilli mayonaise.
    Another one I find useful is putting some grated cheese on a piece of tinfoil & then grill for a few seconds until it melts. Then you shape it while it's still warm & soft. A small amount makes the size of a crisp & is fab to dip in chilli or a larger amount can be shaped into a taco shell.
    As for alcohol, vodka or gin with diet 7up or slimline tonic is way better than wine as it's virtually carb free. Well, that's my excuse & I'm sticking to it ;~)

  19. I made this this evening and I'm a feta convert. Not a fan before but never eaten it warm/cooked, thanks for the idea. Personally not so keen on this low carb thing though (big pie fan) but i get where you're at, hope it's going well x

  20. I just altered this, because I hate avocado, and made it with torn up crab sticks instead, and replaced lemons with limes because all the shops were being stupid and only selling them in packs of about 200.
    It was fab, thanks.
    Then I ate the chilli, washed my hands, bit my fingers, got chilli in my fingers, sucked on fingers to get pain away and ended up with yet more chilli. Ouch ouch ouch.

  21. I like your swearing, slap-dash cooking instructions and amateurish photographs! They are delightful in a way that salad will never be (even if it is, admittedly, quite nice looking for a salad).

  22. Delicious. I subbed spring onions for plain old onions as I didn't have any in stock and left out the avocado for the same reason, and I also used more chillies because I'm a chilli fiend, but all together, really tasty. Love the lime combo!