Week 16

At the risk of repeating myself (again and again and again), this has been a naughty week.  I’ve been busy – busier than I generally like to be.  I’m a bit of a homebody at heart; I actually enjoy spending time alone at home, resting and relaxing and recharging my batteries.  If my diary gets too full I get a bit panicky and overwhelmed.  I have a constant battle balancing my need for solitude and rest with actual neediness – sometimes I get a bit sad if I haven’t seen friends for a while.  I spent a lot of time with friends this week but this always leads to me misbehaving with food as we tend to eat out when we meet up.

On Tuesday I finished off the n’duja with this delcious n’duja pasta bake.  The best thing EVER happened too – I discovered that 25g of n’duja (which is plenty when stirred into pasta) is only 4 points on Weight Watchers!  This is literally game-changing; I’m SO happy about this because it’s about the least diet-tasting food there is.  Make this pasta bake – it’s easy, delicious and, it transpires, not that bad for you.

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On Wednesday, I had some pork mince that needed to be used up.  I raided my Chinese food cupboard (I genuinely have one) and made these spicy, garlicky, Sichuanesque ho fun noodles (recipe to follow soon).  I took the leftovers in to work the following day – this was NOT successful.  We don’t have a microwave and it transpires that congealed, room temperature noodles are not so good the following day.  I abandoned them and ate cereal instead.

ho fun

On Thursday evening, I went to the launch of the Ginger Pig Farmhouse Cook Book (available here) where we were stuffed with sausage rolls, pork pie, ham, corned beef…basically a whole lot of meat with a token bit of cheese on the side.  The launch was fun – Shed was brilliant (isn’t it weird when you see your friends being all professional?!) and the book looks great.  Here is a picture of an enormous pie:

pie

On Friday, I had an impromptu night out with my friend Janie to Honey & Co.  Honey & Co is a tiny Middle Eastern restaurant tucked away in the rather strange location of Warren Street.  Janie called up early in the morning and managed to bag us the last two seats at the counter.  For £26.50 per person, you can get a selection of all the starters bar one (the octopus was excluded – we ordered it anyway and it was amazing) plus a main.  Starters included carrot and butternut squash fritters, a spring salad of peas, broad beans and manouri cheese, falafel, mashawaha (like hummus but nicer), homemade pickles, labneh and breads with olive oil to dip.

starters 1starters 2

There was so much starter and we made the mistake of doing it a bit too much justice.  We ordered poussin with sumac and freekeh and lamb shawarma as the mains and shared them.

poussinlamb

Amazingly, we found that our pudding tummies were still open to suggestion so shared what turned out to be the star of the show – cheesecake with kadalf pastry and honey.  This was incredible – I’m not really a pudding person but I’d go back to Honey & Co just for this.

pudding

Honey & Co was excellent.  We had a 2 course set menu at £26.50, a 3 course at £29.50, an extra starter and 2 bottles of wine and we paid £60 each including service.  Great value, delicious food and lovely service – I can’t wait to go back.

On Saturday, my friend Jassy opened the cafe at Stepney City Farm which coincided with their first Farmers’ Market.  I went down to help out on the cafe’s stall selling cakes, pastries and vegetables from the farm which was a big success and a lot of fun.  The Farmers’ Market was a huge hit and will hopefully become a regular thing.  The farm is always looking for more volunteers, particularly in the cafe, so if you have a bit of time on your hands, I can really recommend it.  Plus, they have the best owls (seen below with my friend Cherry) and the goats are INCREDIBLE.

owlgoat

That evening we went for a celebratory dinner at Bob Bob Ricard.  I’ve been for drinks in the (temporarily closed) bar on a number of occasions and loved it – it’s expensive but it’s just such a lovely, luxurious experience.  This was the first time I’ve eaten at BBR and although it was perfectly OK, I shan’t rush back.  I had potato and truffle vareniki to start followed by lobster macaroni cheese.

verenikilobster

We decided not to stay for pudding and went to Gelupo instead where a mere £4 scored me a cup filled with blood orange sorbet, bitter chocolate and caramel ice creams.  The blood orange was seriously good.

gelupo

I spent Sunday cooking for the freezer and made Chinese beef in the slow cooker, bolognese and chicken and tarragon casserole.  Dinner was the Chinese beef with rice and tenderstem broccoli drizzled with a little sesame oil.

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Finally, on Monday I had pilates with my neighbour and needed something quick afterwards and, as it was nearly 10pm by the time I ate, I had a fried egg sandwich.

egg

PHEW.  It’s been quite a week.  I haven’t weighed myself today, partly because I just can’t face it (can you blame me?) but mostly because I have my first Weight Watchers meeting on Friday and I will start from scratch then.

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N’duja pasta bake

pasta

This meal was a result of my abject failure at organisation and forgetting to take anything out of the freezer to defrost for dinner.  I rummaged through the fridge and my cupboards and found a few odds and ends that, cobbled together, made something pretty special.  The spicy pork, sweet tomatoes and rich mozzarella were so good together.

Ingredients:

Around 100g of pasta if you’re dieting, vastly more if you’re not

30g n’duja

Half a mozzarella ball, sliced – I used buffalo because that’s what I had, but regular would be fine for this

A handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used 8)

Fresh basil, torn up

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta per the packet instructions.  Drain and return to the pan with a small dash of olive oil and the n’duja.  Over a low heat, stir until the n’duja has melted then turn off the heat, add the cherry tomatoes, a couple of pieces of the mozzarella, a little of the basil and some salt and pepper.  Mix together and place it in an ovenproof dish.  Put the rest of the mozzarella and a little more basil on top and put in the oven at around 180c (fan) for 15 minutes, until the mozzarella has browned a little.

Serve with the rest of the basil scattered over.

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Eat happily with a glass of something crisp and cold.

Week 15

I’m not feeling good about myself right now.  I’m still feeling a bit below par and lacking in energy which translates into feeling like I’m losing the will to live and certainly having no inclination to cook and look after myself.  I’ve been eating the wrong things, I’ve been eating too much of them and I just feel a bit out of control.

So – last week.  Tuesday was dinnerless.  I was feeling sick and weird so I just curled up on the sofa and felt sorry for myself.  On Wednesday I had a pretty substantial lunch of noodles with chicken and peanut dressing so I just had scrambled eggs in the evening as I was out late at an appointment.

noodles

On Thursday I went to Beagle for dinner with a few friends.  Beagle opened recently in the railway arches next to Hoxton Station.  We sat next to the kitchen and everything that came out looked amazing, so we were pretty excited.  To start I had a salad of crab, monk’s beard and preserved lemon.  It was nice enough – the crab was very good – but it wasn’t terribly exciting and I couldn’t taste the preserved lemon at all.  Other starters of asparagus with chive butter and boiled egg and cauliflower soup were better.  My main course was lamb shank with pearl barley and mint which was incredibly disappointing as it was completely overwhelmed by the mint and tasted of little else.  Puddings were good; my pannacotta with poached rhubarb was lovely and Jassy’s chocolate malt pot was nothing shy of a triumph.  Overall though, Beagle didn’t quite do it for me which was a shame.  I loved the place, loved the cocktails and desperately wanted to love the food, but I couldn’t.

crablambpannacotta

On Friday I made pasta with n’duja.  Now, I really love n’duja – spicy, porky loveliness…BUT WHY DID I BUY IT?  I shouldn’t be buying something that is made almost entirely from pig fat.  BAD.

pasta

On Saturday I had friends over for dinner.  My starter, which I completely forgot to photograph in its finished state, was James Ramsden’s duck rillettes.  Here’s a picture of the duck legs to illustrate just how bad for us this was:

duck

The rillettes were seriously good and actually far easier to make than I’d anticipated.  The flat smelt of duck fat for a few days post-leg roasting but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I served the rillettes with a dark sourdough (wrong – I should have chosen either a lighter, less sour sourdough or just something crusty and white) and cornichons and there was nothing left when I cleared away the plates.  The main course was poached chicken with freekeh from Jerusalem and was a big hit.  Annoying (drunkenly) I forgot to serve the cucumber yoghurt that I’d made to go with it, but I don’t think it suffered too much.

chicken

Pudding was Nigella Lawson’s no churn pomegranate ice-cream (which is just gorgeous and incredibly easy – I make it with a cup of Pom pomegranate juice in place of the 2 juiced pomegranates) with strawberries and persian fairy floss (or ‘pashmak’).  By this time I was pretty sozzled so, again, no photos.

On Sunday I was hungover and feeling pretty miserable so, as I always do, I self-medicated with food and had some salt & pepper squid delivered.

squidThe salt & pepper squid led to a whole world of self-loathing yesterday.  I had to work late so by the time I got home at around 9pm, I was starving and needed to eat RIGHT NOW.  I had some sea bream fillets that needed using up so I  had those with a squeeze of lemon and some bread and butter.

bream

I wish wish wish I bought into Kate Moss’s statement that ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’.  I would dearly love not to like food.  I hate that it’s the first thing that I turn to when I feel bad or sad as it just makes everything so much worse.

I lost a pound this week which, in the grand scheme of things, is unexpected and lucky, but I’m just constantly hovering around this weight rather than losing anything significant.  Since I started this weekly blog 15 weeks ago, I have lost 1.5lbs.  Yes.  One and a half.  I think it’s safe to say that whatever it is that I’m doing at the moment just isn’t working, so I’ve decided to go back to Weight Watchers meetings, starting this Friday.  Joy.