Monday, 30 June 2014

Classic Moussaka - with additional Skinny Version under 350 calories (includes Thermomix instructions)

A classic and comforting dish, full of flavour with flexible options to suit everybody.

Layers of rich meaty sauce, flavoured with earthy Mediterranean spices and herbs, alternating with tender slices of aubergine, topped with a béchamel sauce enriched with egg yolks and cheese.

5:2 moussaka

I like to make up a double quantity of the meat sauce, and freeze it so that next time I just have to cook the aubergines and béchamel before assembling - however, to avoid confusion, I've just put the quantities as you need them to serve six (they're easily doubled if you want to do this too - which is why I've separated the different parts of the dish to make it easier to double up the sauce).
This serves 6 people. If you're counting calories and keeping it lean with the skinny version, then this is from 347 calories per serving with skinny béchamel, steamed aubergines and extra lean beef mince. For a more luxurious and traditional version, it's 566 calories per serving as below, with oven-baked aubergines. You can switch which bits you please to suit you - the calories are split out for each ingredient to help you re-count. See Notes below for some of the variables.

You can make and assemble this a day or two in advance if you like, as it tastes even better the next day, sets nicely and is easier to cut once it's chilled - it will just need longer to cook from chilled.

Oh - and 'The Quick Cheat': If you don't want to faff about layering meat sauce with aubergines and potatoes and all that... well, you really don't have to for a simple supper. Just cook the meat sauce in a large pan which will fit underneath the grill (USA broiler) while you're cooking the aubergines/potatoes, and add in the tomatoes a little earlier (
skip the egg white) to reduce down while you make the béchamel, then toss in the aubergines (and potatoes if using). Stir through and cook for a few minutes until the aubergines are heated through, then pour the béchamel over the top, scatter with the grated cheese, and pop under a pre-heated grill (broiler) until it's bubbling and browned (You could even Super-Cheat and just scatter over a block of crumbled feta if you didn't want to make the béchamel sauce, as a tasty alternative!). Set aside for a few minutes to cool, and serve with a fresh green salad (and some crusty bread)!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Skinny Béchamel Sauce

If you're counting calories, then this is a great substitution for full-fat béchamel sauce.

Although technically not a
béchamel, as it's not made from a roux base (flour and butter cooked together), it's unlikely most people would be able to tell from tasting it! Also, because it's thickened with cornflour, it's gluten free. 
You can also make this LACTOSE FREE by using lactose free whole milk, lactose free mature cheddar and either lactose free spread or butter if you can tolerate it.
This quantity will make enough for a lasagne or moussaka for six people. 306 calories for the full quantity, 51 calories per serving. [Calories in square brackets]. My recipe for Skinny Moussaka is here, for only 339 calories per portion, and packed full of flavour. Skinny Lasagne being written up...!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Magic Bean Cake

So, the mysterious and legendary 'Magic Bean Cake' has landed...

Dark and decadent, rich, moist and deeply chocolate-y, if you love chocolate, you will love this. It's a real keeper, and you'll have fun getting people trying to guess what the 'secret ingredient is'! (They won't).

Chocolate magic bean cake

This cake is a bit of a sensation - there are versions everywhere now. I originally started off with a version from the Australian Thermomix recipe community (there's even more than one there!) and wanted to convert it and share my version with my friends who don't have a Thermomix or similar (this method also includes the Thermomix instructions in italics - ignore anything in italics if you're not using a Thermomix).

I find that because the cake is so rich and moist, you don't need much - between four of us, we only managed to demolish a quarter, having a couple of modest slices each. It's gorgeous served with raspberries, blackberries or strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, creme fraiche or thick and creamy yoghurt (we had it with home-made yoghurt made with creamy milk from Jersey cows and little wild strawberries picked from the back garden - yum!), and would be to-die-for with some dark cherries, especially if just simmered down a little with some of their juice and a little sugar... the possibilities are endless (see tips for more ideas and flavours for cooking the cake)!

I'd say this serves 16, if you cook in a ring tin and cut into slices about 1.5 to 2cm (as in photo), and have a couple or so per serving. 160 calories for a 16th of the cake serving on this basis. Or if you just want a little treat, have the one small slice instead of two, for 80 calories! [Calories in square brackets below]

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Mushroom Stroganoff (Thermomix)

How to cook a seriously tasty, mushroom stroganoff in your Thermomix, with optional cauliflower rice steamed in the Varoma to go with it...

A very healthy, easy, low calorie recipe which has proved enduringly popular and loved by everyone who has made it, so I've converted it to the Thermomix - and as well as being low calorie (and of couse, delicious), it's also very easy to make, and you can tweak it to suit you. (For the non-Thermomix recipe and method, click here)

Mushroom stroganoff thermomix

If you're not after a low calorie dish, then feel free to use full fat crème fraiche, and throw in a good knob of butter with the onions and garlic, and then serve it with a healthy helping of straw potatoes, rice, or even mashed potatoes or flat noodles. If you are eating lean, you'll still find this is packed full of flavour and tastes much more creamy and indulgent than it really is! I use full fat Greek yoghurt instead of soured cream to make mine, to cut the calories but keep the flavour, and with a generous serving of cauliflower rice it's from a mere 234 calories for a large and filling dish full of tasty food! If you're eating with someone else who isn't cutting back, just halve the amount of cauliflower rice for a single portion for you, and give it to them with a healthy helping of carbs, as above.

Serves 2, calories per serving as follows for the stroganoff alone:
If using 0% fat Greek yoghurt  -  148
If using full fat Greek yogurt - recommended*  -  160
If using half fat crème fraiche  -  182

*I use 'Total' brand Greek yoghurt, full fat, as my preference

Add on 86 calories per serving for a portion of cauliflower rice, and another 11 calories per serving if you use wine.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Ten-minute Trout, Asparagus and New Potato (Warm) Salad

Simple, quick and satisfying and ready in minutes - a delicious dish with minimal effort.

If you prefer, substitute salmon fillet(s) instead, from the tail end where they're flat and triangular, which will be equally delicious - ready-to-eat smoked trout fillets would work really well too, if you don't want to cook the trout yourself. A nice addition which combines perfectly with the other flavours is a boiled egg with a creamy yolk, quartered and nestling on top.

Serves two, 315 calories per serving - easily halved or doubled (calories in square brackets if you're counting). Add another 88 calories for a UK medium sized egg (58g).

Monday, 9 June 2014

Carpaccio of Beef with a Mustard Dressing, Rocket, Capers and Parmesan

Greaseproof paper and a rolling pin means that you don't have to have the world's best knife skills!

Wafer-thin fillet steak is tender to the point of almost melt-in-the mouth consistency, when prepared this way and perfectly complimented by the rich mustardy dressing, peppery rocket, slivers of salty parmesan and tiny capers that give little bursts of flavour in your mouth.

Carpaccio of beef recipe

Simple to make, no cooking necessary (although you can optionally quickly sear the very outside of the beef, see method) and an elegant dish which could be a light lunch, or a delicious starter.

This serves two people (but is easily doubled), at 265 calories per serving (if you're counting - calories in square brackets).

Related Recipes

If you liked this recipe, you may also like these...