Wild Salmon & Tomato Curry

by Susan Smith in ,

In 2010 we started on a project to completely refurbish our three-storey Edwardian property, one room at a time. It’s a massive commitment that we’re still only halfway through. The first job was to change the boiler for more energy efficient heating. The second was to install a luxury bathroom complete with crystal chandelier, elegant, Italian stone basins and matching solid ‘egg shell’ bath for the ultimate, ‘pamper-me’ experience.

Talk about best laid plans! Fuelled by junk food and numerous sugar-laden beverages, I’m convinced that the modern workman's lack of care or effort is most likely a dietary affliction! Pleasure in my newly refurbished bathroom lasted for less than a year. Thereafter, the grouting in the shower cubicle fell out and the free-standing floor bath tap broke, meaning I could neither use the shower for risk of it leaking, nor take a bath. Soon after, everything else went kaput. The bidet tap corroded and the mastic sealant around all the waste outlets turned a nasty, dark-golden-urine colour. Unbeknownst to us, the original skirting had been surreptitiously stripped out and replaced with MDF - a well known bathroom ‘clanger’ because when MDF is subjected to moisture it will swell and bow, which it did. As for the central heating system, the plumber told me that at least one radiator in the house, which happened to be the one in our sitting-room and the main one in the new bathroom, needed to stay partially cold for the rest of the system to work and “not to worry”, this was absolutely normal! When the expansion tank in the airing cupboard fell off the wall I knew for sure we were in trouble. The one thing I do have to put my hand up to is the dreadful choice of ‘eco-friendly’ cork floor tiles, which quickly faded and started to lift along their edges, albeit that the sub-floor wasn’t properly levelled to begin with.  

I now view most tradespeople with deep distrust! Occasionally, I get really lucky (thanks Callum at Ceramicals for doing such a brilliant tiling job) but all too often my worst fears are realised. It took 6 years for me to bite the bullet and get the central heating fixed. It’s still working, so two weeks ago I dared myself to have the entire bathroom and upstairs toilet ripped out so we could re-tile the floors and replace all the broken bits. The noise and upheaval was enough to make me have kittens! The floor now looks stunning but when the plumber from hell finally finished reconnecting the sanitary ware - never agree to pay a man by the hour when he can talk for England! - and the mains water was turned back on, water poured forth from the toilet and bath, flooding my newly tiled floor. Estimated to be a 4 day job, it took 12 days of pandemonium before I finally got my bathroom and loo back in service…umm, sort of! Neither room has a door - you try sitting on the loo in full view of the stairs and landing - the bath is still unusable, the new bidet tap lever won’t budge and one washbasin waste isn’t watertight. Essentially, it’s back to the drawing board; the onus resting on me to find another plumber who doesn’t have an attitude problem. 

If I’m going to cook and blog my way through times like these it had better be something quick, simple and nutritious. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book River Cottage Light & Easy came to my rescue yet again with a recipe for fish and tomato curry. With a couple of minor adjustments - wild salmon holds together better than white fish fillets and I’ve added some fresh chilli too - it became Wild Salmon & Tomato Curry.

Making fish curry may sound like an undertaking but when the spicy tomato sauce is this easy to make and the fish cooks in a matter of minutes, it is the perfect ‘Friday night is curry night’ antidote to a particularly stressful week. Served with spicy cauliflower ‘rice’ or charred broccoli and a very good bottle of red wine it can make life seem worth living even when the sword of Damocles hangs over me for telling the now enraged plumbing misogynist that I won’t be paying his bill in full! 

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Wild Salmon & Tomato Curry (Serves 3-4)


25g organic coconut oil

1 large organic onion (or 2 medium ones), finely sliced

2” piece of organic fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (yields about 2 teaspoons)

1 organic chilli, finely chopped

1 tbsp organic curry powder

1 cinnamon stick

300ml organic tomato passata

200ml organic full fat coconut milk

Pink Himalayan salt (fine crystals)

Organic black pepper, freshly ground

2 drops organic liquid stevia

500g wild keta salmon fillets, skinned (see Notes below)

Juice of half a large organic lime

To finish:

Fresh organic coriander leaves

Organic black onion (kalonji) seeds

Organic Greek yogurt - optional

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Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep sauté pan over a medium-low heat.

Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring regularly for 10 minutes.

Add the ginger and chilli and cook for a further minute. Now add the curry powder and cinnamon stick and fry for another minute or two.

Stir in the tomato passata and coconut milk, then add the stevia and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Stir well and simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 10 minutes until rich and well blended. 

Meanwhile, skin the salmon fillets and cut them into large pieces, about 4cm square.

Add the salmon to the sauce, bring back to a very gentle simmer and cook for 4-6 minutes until the fish is just cooked through, stirring very carefully a couple of times. N.B. Don’t break up the fish pieces if you can help it. 

Finally, stir in the lime juice, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve straight away with cauliflower ‘rice’ or a green vegetable. Finish with fresh coriander and black onion seeds scattered on top of the curry and pass around a bowl of Greek yogurt to accompany, if you like.

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Because I usually cook for three people, I find just 2 packs of Waitrose's Wild Keta Alaskan Salmon will suffice. This allows for about 5 large pieces of salmon per person. If you’re cooking for four, I’d purchase 3 packs and possibly save some of it to feed to my cat Sushi! 

Not all reviews for Wild Keta Salmon are good. Perhaps its rather unappetising sounding Alaskan name “Chum salmon” or “Dog salmon” doesn’t do it any favours. Nevertheless, I’ve found keta salmon to be a firm, high quality salmon that I actually prefer for this recipe. When it comes to choosing salmon, it’s a case of horses for courses, albeit I always select wild Alaskan fish, never farmed. Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon has bright orange-red flesh - perfect for impressive dinner party presentations - which is oilier, stronger tasting and richer in healthy Omega 3s than its pink fleshed, Wild Keta Salmon counterpart. Sockeye salmon holds up really well to grilling. However, I’ve chosen MSC certified Alaskan keta salmon for this recipe because it’s cheaper than sockeye and I actually prefer its lighter colour, flavour and softer texture in this curry.


Fat 34g Protein 27g Carbohydrate 11g - per serving of curry (4 people)

Fat 45g Protein 35g    Carbohydrate 14g - per serving of curry (3 people)

Fat 2g Protein 1g Carbohydrate 1g - per 25g serving of Greek yogurt

Smoked Mackerel Tartare

by Susan Smith in ,

When you’re low on time and high on hunger, Smoked Mackerel Tartare is a tasty little number that you can whip up in less than half an hour. Isn’t that just music to your ears?

As a retiree - well, at least from lucrative employment - I still find myself racing against the clock to get things done. Quick and easy meals are increasingly becoming the order of the day and I’m guessing that it’s not just me that’s struggling to stay on top of my life situation. 

Oftentimes, this means that at the end of a busy day I’m frantically searching for last-minute inspiration from my extensive library of cookery books to find those recipes that either meet my criteria for Primal or that can be adjusted to suit. Sometimes I’ll stumble across an “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” recipe that I can bring straight to the table without any fussy whatsoever. 

This one is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, as well as being virtually carb-free. Perfect for Primal, Paleo and ketogenic diets, all credit goes to Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s book ‘River Cottage Light & Easy’.

Call me greedy but I have adjusted the quantities slightly upwards. For a main meal, I think you need to allow 1 mackerel fillet and 1 egg per person. To help keep your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in balance (see Notes below), I also recommend that you make your own healthy 3-Minute Mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together. C’mon peeps, 3 minutes still makes this recipe do-able within 30 minutes! 

For a quick and easy, satisfying lunch or supper, Smoked Mackerel Tartare is wonderful. Simply add crisp salad leaves and Paleo friendly, oven-baked ‘bruschetta’ to balance out its fishy virtues. As well as being a fat-for-fuel lunchbox solution to sustain Sarah and I at Mirror Imaging weddings, it also makes yummy, low-carb hand-me-rounds simply piled into hearts of Little Gem lettuce or chicory leaves to serve at picnics and parties.

Very moreish and made in minutes, I think you’ll find that this recipe is just too good to pass up.

Smoked Mackerel Tartare

Ingredients - for the smoked mackerel tartare

3 smoked mackerel fillets

3 hard-boiled organic eggs, coarsely chopped

4 organic cornichons (or 1 large gherkin), finely chopped

4 tbsp organic 3-Minute Mayonnaise

1 tbsp chopped organic dill or parsley, roughly chopped - plus a little extra to garnish

Squeeze of lemon juice

Freshly ground organic black pepper


Ingredients - to make 3-Minute Mayonnaise

UPDATE: I now use cold pressed Macadamia Oil in my 3 Minute Mayonnaise rather than Sunflower Oil. Get the recipe here.

2 organic eggs

2½ tbsp organic lemon juice

1 tsp organic Dijon mustard

½ tsp sea salt

a good pinch of organic white pepper

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia

150ml Clearspring Organic Sunflower Frying Oil

100ml organic cold-pressed light olive oil

Ingredients - to serve

Little Gem lettuce, Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread “bruschetta’, organic radishes.


Instructions - to make the mackerel tartare

Skin the mackerel and use your fingers to break the fish up into chunky, bite-sized pieces.

Put the mackerel into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and fold everything together very gently so you don’t break up the ingredients too much. 

Taste the tartare and add a little more black pepper and lemon juice if you think it needs it. N.B. The smoked mackerel usually has enough salt, so you shouldn’t need to add more.


Instructions - to make 3-Minute Mayo

Place all the ingredients into a tall, narrow container.

Using a hand-held stick blender, blend everything together until it emulsifies into a pale, creamy mayonnaise. Takes about 30 seconds!

Taste and add a little more lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if liked.

Transfer to a glass container and seal with an airtight lid. Use within 5 days

Instructions - to serve

Place Little Gem lettuce hearts or other crisp salad leaves on to a serving plate or on to individual plates. Intersperse the salad leaves with thinly sliced radishes (extra pretties and peppery crunch!), if using. Pile the mackerel tartare on top of the leaves. 

Sprinkle over the remaining parsley or dill and add another grinding of black pepper, if liked.

Serve with Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread ‘bruschetta’ (see Notes below)



UPDATE: I now use cold pressed Macadamia Oil in my 3 Minute Mayonnaise. Get the recipe here.

The best smoked mackerel I’ve found for flavour and texture is Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference smoked mackerel. For this recipe, paying a little extra, really does make a difference! 

To make Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread ‘bruschetta’, slice the bread very thinly and brush both sides with olive oil. Put the slices of bread on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil and bake at 200℃ / 400 ℉ / Gas mark 6 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool.

I don’t buy shop-bought mayonnaise anymore because it’s made with processed vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fats, particularly pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. Dr Mercola comments :

“If you want to increase your overall health and energy level, and prevent health conditions like heart disease, cancer, depression and Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and a host of other diseases, one of the most important strategies at your disposal is to increase your intake of omega-3 fats and reduce your intake of processed omega-6 fats.”

  • Omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils such as rapeseed, corn, sunflower, soybean and some nuts. 

  • Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish such as mackerel, kippers, herring, trout, sardines and wild salmon.

To balance our intake of omegas we should aim to eat more omega-3s and significantly less omega-6s. Unfortunately, most people eat way more omega-6s than they do omega-3s - 10 to 25 times more - so although Smoked Mackerel Tartare helps redress the balance in favour of eating more omega-3s, not so much if you bind it together with mayo that’s loaded with omega-6s! Swapping processed vegetable oils for naturally low in omega-6 organic oils, such as olive or avocado, makes sense. The trouble is I find both olive and avocado oils too overpowering (strong and bitter) to make good mayonnaise and I don’t like using processed ‘mild’ olive oils either. 

This is where I invite you to say hello to Clearspring's Organic Sunflower Frying Oil. It is one of the few cold pressed oils that uses special sunflower seeds that are high in monounsaturated oleic acid (the sort found in olive oil) and low in omega-6. Irrespective of its name, this sunflower oil combined with olive oil makes a delicious, authentic-tasting, mayonnaise that’s so good I could stand on farmer’s markets and sell it! 

N.B. You will need a hand-held stick-blender to successfully make 3-Minute Mayonnaise. 


Fat 34g Protein 35g Carbohydrate 2g- per serving of mackerel tartare

Fat 31g Protein 2g Carbohydrate 0g - per serving of 3-Minute Mayonnaise

Mediterranean Sauce With Sea Bream

by Susan Smith in , , ,

Whilst Britain voted to leave the EU last Friday we are still inseparably European. I for one am proud to celebrate the fact with this brilliantly versatile, sunshiny flavoured, fresh-tasting Mediterranean Sauce that goes with just about everything. Marvellous with organic grass-fed steak, tender-cooked chicken breast, fresh fish or vegetables this hearty tomato and sweet pepper sauce with black olives, baby capers and fresh oregano cannot fail to transport you to sunny Provence. We love it.

I don’t know who to credit this recipe to. Although I found it at Delia Online, on this website it states that the recipe is taken from A Year In My Kitchen by Skye Gingell. No matter, Primal Plate has tried and tested this recipe several times over and it’s a really healthy, speedy, elegant-looking dish that can be on the table within forty-five minutes. I have increased the quantities of some ingredients, which I think makes for a better balance of flavours and also a more generous portion of vegetables.  

As with the original recipe, I chose to showcase this Mediterranean sauce with fresh sea bream but it can also deliver a glorious Primal vegetarian feast served with roasted cauliflower and lemon-herb dressing dolloped over - please see Notes below.

Summer sun here we come!

Mediterranean Sauce With Sea Bream (Serves 2)


2 whole sea bream, weighing 300g -352g each, de-scaled and gutted (get the fishmonger to do this for you)

1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Celtic sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium/large yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced lengthways into strips

300g large organic vine tomatoes, skinned and chopped (see Note below)

1 heaped tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped  

30g pitted black olives (I used Kalamata), cut into slivers

1 heaped tablespoon baby capers, rinsed and dried

1 heaped tablespoon organic tomato puree

75g organic cherry vine tomatoes, unpeeled but cut into halves

Curly leaf parsley - to garnish



Pre-heat the oven to 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5

Boil a kettle of water.

Wipe the fish with some kitchen paper, then make 3 diagonal cuts across the fish (on both sides) and brush lightly all over with a little olive oil. Season inside and out with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.

Place the fish on a flat baking tray lined with non-stick foil and transfer to the centre of the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep sauté pan over a medium/low heat. Add the shallots and gently cook with the pan lid on for a couple of minutes. Add the yellow pepper strips to the pan then cover and continue to soften the vegetables over a medium heat for another 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, olives, capers and oregano. Stir everything together, then season with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper. 

Simmer gently with the pan lid half-on / half off for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the cherry tomato halves - gently stirring them into the rest of the sauce - then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and continue cooking for a minute or so until the cherry tomatoes are just warmed through and retaining their shape i.e. not collapsed.

To serve, place the fish onto two warm serving plates and spoon the sauce alongside. Garnish with a sprig or two of fresh parsley, if liked.  

For vegetarians and vegans, the Mediterranean Sauce also goes well with roasted cauliflower, served here with lemon-herb dressing 

For vegetarians and vegans, the Mediterranean Sauce also goes well with roasted cauliflower, served here with lemon-herb dressing 


To skin the tomatoes, use the pointy end of a sharp knife to prick the tomatoes all over several times. Put them into a heatproof bowl and cover in boiling water. Leave them for about 25- 35 seconds - no longer or they’ll start to cook - then using a slotted spoon lift them directly into a bowl of ice-cold water. Remove from the cold water and peel the skins off before proceeding with the recipe.

For simplicity’s sake, the vegetarian version of this recipe, Mediterranean Sauce With Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon-Herb Olive Oil Dressing will feature as a separate Primal Plate blog post soon.


Carbohydrates 12g Protein 69g - per serving

Spicy Salmon Fishcakes / Halloumi & Toasted Cashews With Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’

by Susan Smith in , , ,

East meets West in this Primal/Paleo culinary take on fishcakes and coleslaw. Without the potato, flour and breadcrumbs used in traditional fishcake recipes, these Asian inspired, fishcakes are so much simpler and quicker to make. 

Fresh and light - with no mayo or endless amounts of shredded cabbage to chomp your way through - the Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ is also a wonderful thing!

Put the two together for a surprisingly satisfying, clean-eating, Omega-3 packed family meal that’s high in protein and low in carbs.

Vegetarians can also make a meal of this punchy-flavoured Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ by topping it with 60g toasted cashew nuts and replacing the salmon fishcakes with slices of freshly griddled ‘vegetarian-friendly’ - i.e. not made with animal rennet - halloumi cheese - you’ll need to allow about 80g-100g of halloumi per person.

Tasty, pure and simple…job done! 

Spicy Salmon Fishcakes With Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the fishcakes

800 g wild Alaskan salmon, boned and skinned

3 spring onions, finely chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp organic dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp tamari

1 dsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (approx. 1 x 2.5 cm / 1inch piece)

4 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves

1 organic egg, beaten 

1 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

75-100 g organic ground almonds

1-2 tbsp organic coconut oil - for frying the fishcakes


Ingredients - for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ 

2 medium courgettes, cut into thin slices, coarsely grated or spiralised (see Notes below)

3 medium carrots, cut into thin slices, coarsely grated or spiralised (see Notes below)

200g frozen baby broad beans, thawed and shelled (about 120g prepared weight)

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 tbsp raw organic sesame seeds


Ingredients - for the dressing

40 ml fresh lime juice

40 g raw organic cashew nut butter

1 tbsp tamari (I used Clearspring)

40 ml Co Yo natural coconut milk yogurt

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia


Ingredients - to serve

1 tsp raw sesame seeds

coriander leaves and/or micro leaves


Instructions - to make the fishcakes

Put all the fishcake ingredients, except the ground almonds, into a food processor and pulse together until well blended. N.B. Be careful not to over-process - you want the mixture to retain a little of its chunky texture rather than turn into a mushy fish paste! 

Tip the fishcake mixture into a large bowl and add just enough of the ground almonds to ensure that it will hold together sufficiently well to form into fishcakes. The final mixture may still feel a little wet but should be easy enough to shape in your hands and will firm up in the refrigerator prior to cooking.

Divide into 8 fishcakes about 2.5 cm / 1 inch thick (weighing approximately 125g each). Transfer to a large plate, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the coconut oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium/high heat until the surface of the oil starts to shimmer (don’t allow it to smoke!). Cook the fishcakes for 3 minutes until crisp and golden on the underside, then flip them over and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes.

Serve with Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.


Instructions - for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’

Using a small hand whisk, combine all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or cup until you have a smooth dressing that’s of pouring consistency.

To quickly defrost and remove the broad beans from their pods. Weigh out the frozen broad beans into a heatproof bowl or jug. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour over the beans. Let stand for 3-5 minutes. When the water has cooled down pop the tender, bright green beans out of their thick, leathery skins by squeezing gently between two fingers. 

In a large bowl, combine courgette, carrots and shelled broad beans. Add the chopped chives and sesame seeds, mix together gently and set aside.

Just before serving, pour over the dressing and gently toss all the ingredients together until the vegetables are evenly coated.

Transfer to plates and top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, chopped coriander and/or micro leaves. 

Serve with either Spicy Salmon Fishcakes or Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews (see below).

The vegetarian option: Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews

The vegetarian option: Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews

Instructions to make Fried Halloumi & Toasted Cashews With Paleo Pad Thai 'Slaw' (V)

Firstly, toast the cashews in a large frying pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until turning pale gold, then take off the heat and set aside. 

Cut the halloumi into 1 cm thick slices. Heat some coconut oil or olive oil in a pan until hot, then fry the halloumi for just 1-2 minutes on each side until golden and crispy around the edges. 

Arrange the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ on 4 serving plates, top with the toasted cashews, sesame seeds and coriander leaves, then serve the fried cheese slices (3-4 per person) alongside, with wedges of fresh lime for squeezing over.

N.B. Be sure to plate-up the fried halloumi immediately after it’s cooked - it’s so much nicer warm! If you allow cooked halloumi to go cold, it will tend to become too hard and rubbery.



To make carrot and courgette julienne for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’, I first cut the washed courgettes and peeled carrots in half horizontally, then finely sliced the halved vegetables vertically (on a mandolin) before using a small sharp knife to cut them into 6 cm long thin julienne strips. Coarsely grating them in a food processor would be a lot quicker!

The Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ is suitable for vegans.


Carbohydrate 17g Protein 66g - per serving (assuming 2 fishcakes per person)

Thai Green Curry With Prawns & Thai Green Garden Curry

by Susan Smith in , , , ,

Ever since I walked into the Royal Thai restaurant in Nottingham 20 years ago, I have been enchanted by Thai cuisine. Not so much the ‘farang' (Thai for Western foreigners of white descent!) version of Thai food, with our predilection for all things deep-fried - a sort of spring rolls with everything attitude - but the fresh and light, hot and spicy flavours brought together in a variety of harmonious dishes that seem to make every Thai meal a banquet.

Without dairy and hardly any emphasis on meat, Thai cooking is the embodiment of all the main flavour components - sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter - perfectly balanced in playful, imaginative dishes that are full of colour and texture. I’ll never forget the sheer joy and excitement of one gorgeous Thai girl called Tinkerbell (how endearing a nick-name is that?) as she ran out from the restaurant’s kitchen to proudly show us her first representation of a beautiful bird she’d painstakingly carved out of a carrot! 

Our first visit to the Royal Thai was an attempt to educate ourselves in anticipation of a month long business trip to Bangkok. At first they must have smiled at our naivety, but, prior to the journey we were generously afforded numerous ‘insider’ traveller’s tips and we quickly became one of their more regular customers…hungry for their companionship as much as the food! Subsequently, the amazingly beautiful, gracious and intelligent Thai girls running the business at that time welcomed us with open arms into the Thai community, and for many years it was as if we were part of their family. Sadly, the girl I most fell in love with died in a road traffic accident shortly after opening a second restaurant in Nottingham (formerly known as Siam Thani). Nang was the dearest of friends to me and the absolute epitome of all that I now associate with Thai people generally - kind, generous and incredibly friendly.

Now that we’re low-carb and Primal, it’s not so easy to eat out in Thai restaurants - you really do need lots of steamed rice to quieten down the chilli-heat - but for the home cook, authentic-tasting Thai food is simple and fast to prepare, and because you’re in control it doesn’t have to be the hottest of the hot. 

Prawns are synonymous with Thai cookery, but their popularity comes at a price. A violent, Asian slave trade exists to produce most of the prawns for sale in Western supermarkets, so please be careful that the prawns you buy are ethically and responsibly sourced. Choose organic king prawns from Waitrose or Honduran raw prawns from M&S. Thank you. Or you could forego the prawns altogether by opting for our vegan-friendly, equally flavoursome, Thai Green Garden Curry.

I’ve paired Primal Plate's tasty, just nicely spicy, warming green curry with pak-choi but Cauliflower Rice is good too. Vegans and vegetarians can simply substitute cherry tomatoes and asparagus tips for the prawns. Hand-carved vegetable flowers and birds are optional!

With food as delectable as this, no wonder Thailand is known as the “land of smiles”.

Thai Green Curry With Prawns (Serves 4) 

1 tbsp organic coconut oil

2 medium organic sweet red peppers, cored, de-seeded and cut into thin strips

4 medium/large organic spring onions, sliced diagonally into 5 or 6 pieces  

2 x 400ml tins organic coconut milk (full fat)

1 tbsp Marigold organic Swiss vegetable bouillon powder

4 tsp Thai green curry paste

1 tbsp organic tamari

450g raw peeled organic king prawns

200g frozen petits pois, defrosted  

½ tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

20-30ml freshly-squeezed lime juice

2-3 drops organic liquid stevia

20g fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Thai Green Garden Curry

Simply follow the instructions given below - omitting the prawns and substituting with:

300g organic cherry tomatoes, halved

300g asparagus tips, trimmed and cut in to 5cm (2”) pieces

To Serve

2 x 235g packs pak choi, washed, prepared (*see below) and lightly steamed for 3 minutes. 

*If using very young pak choi they can be left whole or cut into halves or quarters. However, larger stems of pak choi will cook more evenly and are much easier to manage on the plate if you cut the leafy tops off their white stems. If the outer stems and leaves are still too large, split them in half down the middle. Place the white stems into the bottom of the steamer, then pile the green leaves on top and steam for 3 minutes with the pan lid on.



Fill and boil a kettle of water. Pre-heat 4 large serving dishes/bowls. 

For making the Thai Green Garden Curry: Pour some of the boiling water from the kettle in to a medium saucepan. Bring back to the boil, throw in the asparagus and cook for just 2 minutes (do not overcook them, they should still have some ‘bite’). Drain and refresh the blanched asparagus in cold water (or place under a cold running tap) to stop the cooking process and set their bright green colour. Drain again and set aside.

To quickly defrost the petits pois: Put the peas in a heatproof jug, pour over the boiling water then drain and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil over a medium/high heat in a large, deep sauté pan. Add the pepper strips and spring onions to the pan and stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until just beginning to soften. 

Add the bouillon powder and the green curry paste and continue to stir-fry for a further 30 seconds - try to avoid breathing in the fumes at this stage, they’re quite pungent!

Pour the coconut milk into the pan and bring the mixture to the boil whilst stirring constantly. Once it comes to the boil turn the heat down to medium, then add the tamari, half the lime juice and a single drop of liquid stevia. Taste. Add a pinch of sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper - plus an extra drop of stevia, if you think it needs it. 

Let the sauce gently bubble away over a medium heat for 5 minutes to allow it to reduce down slightly.

Meanwhile fill a steamer with the rest of the boiling water from the kettle. Place the pak choi in the top of the steamer and cook with the pan lid on for 3 minutes.

Whilst the pak choi is cooking, tip the prawns (or, if making Thai Green Garden Curry, the cherry tomatoes and blanched asparagus tips) and the petits pois into the curry sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the prawns turn pink and are completely opaque - or if making the Thai Green Garden Curry, just until the tomatoes, asparagus and peas are warmed through. 

Take the pan off the heat and stir in half the chopped coriander. Check the seasoning again and adjust to taste - also add a little more lime juice and/or another drop of stevia, if needed.

Pile the cooked and drained pak choi in the centre of the four pre-warmed serving bowls. Carefully ladle the green curry over the top dividing the prawns and vegetables equally between each bowl.

Sprinkle over the rest of the coriander and serve immediately. 



N.B. To keep the Thai green curry fresh and vibrant you need to be careful not to over-boil it in the final two minutes of cooking time. Gently heat through until just below boiling point. If you over-cook it at this stage, you’ll end up with tough prawns, collapsed tomatoes and dirty-looking, more-khaki-than-green, vegetables. Not very nice!


Carbohydrate 21g Protein 25g - per serving (with prawns)

Carbohydrate 26g Protein 10g - per serving (with cherry tomatoes & asparagus)

Spiedini - Two Ways

by Susan Smith in , , ,

Once you’re committed to a low-carb/high fat, Primal, predominantly vegetarian diet, the option of eating-out well often requires imagination, ingenuity and well-developed interpersonal skills! Whatever you do, don’t over-indulge at the bar before ordering your meal because you’re still ‘on-duty’ until you’ve successfully managed to cut through the swathe of waiting staffs’ confusion when you tell them that you don’t eat any grains, potato, meat, legumes, pulses or sugar! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve patiently explained that pasta counts as grain and it’s dried legumes e.g. chickpeas, lentils, beans - not fresh beans and peas - that are off limits. I’ll even re-jig the menu in advance so they can ask Chef if we can mix and match elements from several different dishes already listed to create just one meal that we can eat! That done, there are still numerous occasions when the bread basket appears, even after our in-depth discussion! 

Happily, there are three notable restaurant exceptions in our locale - namely, Hart’s, World Service and Piccolino - that without any fuss are still able to feed us ‘body and soul’. Thanks guys! In fact, the inspiration for this Primal Plate Valentine’s day main course of Spiedini (the Italian for ‘skewer’) is an almost copy-cat version of our favourite dish on Piccolino’s menu - skewered scallops, tuna and prawns. As with previous Primal Plate recipes, I felt compelled to conjure up a vegetarian equivalent and, as you can see in the photographs, swapping vegetables and Halloumi cheese for fish doesn’t compromise on its looks or yumminess. 

As this is a Valentine’s day celebration dinner for two, I’ve gone all fanciful and Italianesque when naming the recipes. After all, fish skewers or vegetarian skewers doesn’t do either justice, whilst Spiedini Di Pesce and Spiedini Vegetariani sound altogether more romantic and enticing…you can always trust the Italians on this score! 

However, in case you’ve not already picked up on my last blog post, the pièce de résistance of this special occasion meal is dessert. I think Feeling Fruity Sweet-Hearts is probably my best creation on this blog to date! Not only does this bold, colourful, sassy dessert say “I love you”, it tastes absolutely divine. It's a sweet treat that takes no more than 30 minutes hands-on time in the kitchen - but looks like fine restaurant dining at its best. A stunning, creamy, dreamy, fruity pudding that offers up pure pleasure by the mouthful. Talk about swoon! 

And as if this wasn’t enough to make you feel truly cared for, can you believe that this healthy, low-carb, two course dinner à deux boasts no more than 40g carbohydrate per person with Spiedini Di Pesce and just 44g with Spiedini Vegetariani?

When all you need is love, this amazingly simple, seriously impressive food served with a decent bottle of wine (I think Champagne’s obligatory) makes for a romantic, not-so-sober evening at home that has all the potential for this year's Valentine celebration being one to remember.

Spiedini Di Pesce

Spiedini Di Pesce

Spiedini Di Pesce (Serves 2 - Makes 6 skewers)


325g thick lean fresh tuna steak (sustainably sourced, MSC certified)

6 king scallops (sustainably sourced, MSC certified)

6 large peeled prawns (sustainably sourced, MSC certified)

24 ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine

50g organic butter, melted

3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Juice of ½ large organic lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil - for cooking

1 organic lemon, halved - to serve

Sprigs of flat-leaf parsley - to serve

Organic Romaine lettuce, finely shredded - to serve

6 bamboo skewers - soaked in cold water for 30 minutes

Raw, marinated Spiedini Di Pesce ready for cooking

Raw, marinated Spiedini Di Pesce ready for cooking

Spiedini Di Pesce is delicious served simply with crispy lettuce and a wedge of lemon

Spiedini Di Pesce is delicious served simply with crispy lettuce and a wedge of lemon


Cut the tuna steak in to 6 even-sized pieces.

Thread a tomato, a prawn, a tomato, a scallop, a tomato, a tuna chunk and finally a tomato (in that order) on to 6 skewers and place them on to a large flat plate.

Combine the melted butter, parsley and lemon juice together and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Liberally brush the Spiedini di Pesce with the butter mixture and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7

Line a large baking tray with non-stick foil or a silicon baking sheet. 

Lightly oil a griddle pan with olive oil and set it over a medium/high heat. When the pan is really hot - you should see a slight haze rising - place the spiedini in to the griddle pan, buttered side down. Cook over a high heat for about 1-2 minutes, without moving.

Whilst they’re cooking, brush more of the butter mixture over the top of the spiedini. Once the underside is starting to lightly char, gingerly lift the ends of the skewers up with your fingers and turn them over. Cook for another 1½ minutes or so, then frequently turn the skewers thereafter making sure the surface of the fish stays in contact with the griddle pan - gently press it down once or twice with the back of a flat spatula if it doesn’t seem to be cooking evenly.

The process of griddling the spiedini should take no longer than 5-6 minutes, by which time the pieces of fish will be attractively and lightly charred and the prawns just turning pink. N.B. At this stage, the fish doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through but it does need to have taken on some stripes of gold from the grooves in the pan. This will likely mean cooking the spiedini in two batches. An overcrowded pan causes food to release too much moisture and you don’t want the fish to end up steamed rather than griddled.

Transfer the griddled spiedini to the baking tray and place in the hot oven for a further 3 minutes until sizzling hot.

Arrange three Spiedini di Pesce on each of two serving plates lined with shredded lettuce and garnish with lemon halves and flat leaf parsley. 

Serve immediately. 


Carbohydrate 12g Protein 62g - per serving (3 skewers per person)


Spiedini Vegetariani (Serves 2 - Makes 6 skewers)

375g (1½ 250g packs) Halloumi cheese, cut into 18 pieces (approx 4cm x 4cm x 2.5cm each)

24 ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine

12 marinated baby artichoke hearts, drained

12 large fresh basil leaves

1 medium/large organic courgette, cut lengthways into 12 very thin slices (best done on a mandolin or with a vegetable peeler)

50g organic butter, melted

3 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil - for cooking

Organic Romaine lettuce, finely shredded - to serve

1 lime, halved - to serve

sprigs of bay leaf or mint leaves - to serve

6 bamboo skewers - soaked in cold water for 30 minutes

Raw, marinated Spiedini Vegetariani ready for cooking

Raw, marinated Spiedini Vegetariani ready for cooking


Cut the halloumi in to 18 even-sized pieces.

Roll-up a single basil leaf and a baby artichoke heart inside each slice of courgette. Repeat until you've made 12 courgette and artichoke rolls.

Thread a tomato, a piece of halloumi, a tomato, a courgette/artichoke ‘roll’, a piece of halloumi, a tomato, a courgette/artichoke ‘roll’, a piece of halloumi and finally a tomato (in that order) on to 6 skewers and place them on to a large flat plate.

Combine the melted butter, mint and lime juice together and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Liberally brush the Spiedini Vegetariani with the butter mixture and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7

Line a large baking tray with non-stick foil or a silicon baking sheet. 

Lightly oil a griddle pan with olive oil and set it over a medium/high heat. When the pan is really hot - you should see a slight haze rising - place the spiedini in to the griddle pan, buttered side down. Cook over a high heat for about 1-2 minutes, without moving.

Whilst they’re cooking, brush more of the butter mixture over the top of the spiedini. Once the underside of the cheese is turning golden, gingerly lift the ends of the skewers up with your fingers and turn them over. Cook for a further minute or so then frequently turn the spiedini thereafter until all the pieces of halloumi are attractively and lightly charred and striped with gold from the grooves in the pan. N.B. This will likely mean cooking the spiedini in two batches. An overcrowded pan causes food to release too much moisture and you don’t want steamed spiedini instead of griddled! The total griddling time for each batch of skewers should not exceed 5-6 minutes.

Transfer the griddled spiedini to the baking tray and place in the hot oven for a further 3 minutes until sizzling hot.

Arrange three Spiedini Vegetariani on each of two serving plates lined with shredded lettuce and garnish with lime halves and sprigs of bay leaves or mint.

Serve immediately. 

Spiedini Vegetariani with crisp lettuce and a squeeze of lime

Spiedini Vegetariani with crisp lettuce and a squeeze of lime


Threading halloumi on to skewers can be quite a challenge because the cheese has a tendency to split. My man watched me get quite frustrated before suggesting that maybe he could literally drill a hole in the cheese first! I told him that this wasn’t something I could specify as part of a food recipe. Nevertheless, he proceeded to find a fine metal implement (actually the end of a very fine screwdriver - clean of course!) and gently rotated it back and forth into the centre of the cheese to ‘carve’ out a small hole, which actually meant it didn’t fall apart when I pushed the skewers through. I was gobsmacked! Needless to say, he’s voted himself for the job in future!

Furthermore, it does seem to matter what type of halloumi cheese you’re using. I found that Waitrose’s Hand Folded Halloumi With Mint performed best for taste, texture and skewering.

If the halloumi does fall off the skewers whilst griddling just carry on with the cooking process - they can easily be put back together on the plate and no-one will notice! 


Carbohydrate 16g Protein 47g - per serving (3 skewers per serving)

Grilled Hake in Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini

by Susan Smith in ,

Its been said that ignorance is bliss. And yes, in the context of being innocent and unaware (like a child at play), or entering that meditative space of ‘no thought’ (as a conscious adult), your bliss is unhindered by the external reality that surrounds you. I wish I could be in that state of being more often!

The enormity of the problem with agribusiness - the mass torture and slaughter of animals and the pollution and degradation of the environment - is what is, at this point in history. But thinking about it and seeing its terrible effects on social media, sickens me. When I first started to write this food blog I simply wanted to help shift the Primal/Paleo fraternity away from their avid consumption of meat by inspiring them to eat more vegetarian meals. I would even argue that the Primal/Paleo diet was not primarily meat-based but rather a preponderance of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds…and that termites were probably our ancestors main source of animal protein.    

I didn't expect to subsequently be confronted with compelling evidence for not eating fish too. Stupid of me. Ego runs humanity and the collective ego is culturally conditioned into believing that, as ‘masters of the universe’, human beings have a divine right to subjugate all of nature to its will. Apparently unstoppable, greed and exploitation knows no bounds. Whilst painfully aware that overfishing currently threatens many species of fish and the importance of sustainability, I hadn’t bargained for what is really going on under the sea

It’s not that I am intrinsically opposed to eating meat or fish. It really does depend on the context. I still have to buy and prepare organic free-range chicken and pork and line-caught tuna for my cat Sushi to eat (it is a biological necessity for cats to eat meat) and, if I had the skills to skin and gut a fresh road kill, we’d probably eat that too. But ‘growing’ meat in appalling conditions on factory farms, polluting the rivers and oceans with animal excrement, cutting down acres of rain forest to grow grain for livestock to feed the privileged few whilst millions starve, to use man-made devices to harm and kill all the creatures under the sea is both heartbreaking and unnecessary. 

Already eighty-five per cent vegetarian, there’s a part of me that would like to be vegan. I just know my body wouldn't be happy with the choice. I don’t eat meat on compassionate grounds. I can’t eat grains because I’ve fully experienced their inflammatory effect in my body. I try to avoid potatoes (although I only have personal anecdotal evidence that they’re not good for me) as well as legumes (dried beans, chickpeas, lentils etc.) because they contain anti-nutrients. Instead I rely on plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, vegetarian cheese, organic free-range eggs, raw milk from grass-fed cows and what hitherto I thought was sustainably-sourced wild or organic fish for a healthy, low-carb, protein-packed diet. However, fish will be off the menu if eating it means I’m inadvertently supporting the super-trawler industrialised version of fishing.

I’ve asked my fabulous fishmonger Terry (contact: fishinnotts@hotmail.com), who always fetches the best of ‘today’s catch’ directly from the docks and delivers it straight to my door, if he can reassure me that the fish I’m buying is responsibly and sustainably caught. Unfortunately, sustainability won’t make overfishing disappear - to solve that problem, we all need to eat less fish. Supporting the work of organisations like Greenpeace and Compassion In World Farming also helps keep food shoppers informed. Greenpeace have named Marks & Spencer as being the best UK supermarket to buy fish from. However, some fisheries do get the MSC logo for just ‘working towards’ sustainable fishing rather than actually fishing sustainably! If you’re in any doubt, don’t buy.

So now you know that eating fish is not inconsequential, I want to mindfully share with you this tasty recipe for Grilled Hake in a Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini. It is colourful, it is delicious, it is low carb. It is a beautiful looking, healthy, nutritious dish - everything that Primal Plate wants to promote for a healthier you - but is that enough?

If you think it is, Grilled Hake in Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini is one of the best ways I know to healthily celebrate the fact that there are still fish left in the sea for us to eat and enjoy. I hope it doesn’t prove to be my last fishy hurrah on Primal Plate’s blog. The jury’s still out.  

Grilled Hake in Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini (Serves 4)


4 x 200g thick, sustainably sourced (MSC) hake fillets, skin-on, pin-boned & descaled

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A little melted butter - for brushing 

100ml white wine    

200ml water

1 dsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder

2 dsp Clearspring tamari soy sauce

100g unsalted butter, chilled

1 tsp arrowroot

2 medium carrots

2 medium courgettes

2 medium leeks

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and finely diced

1 heaped tbsp finely chopped coriander



For the grilled hake: put the fish, skin-side down, on a large shallow dish or plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. 

For the broth: put the water, wine, bouillon powder and soy sauce into a pan and boil rapidly until it has reduced by a third. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean pan and set aside. 

Rinse the salt off the fish and dry the fillets on kitchen paper. Brush each piece on both sides with melted butter and put skin-side up on a greased baking tray. Season the skin with sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cover lightly with cling film and set aside.

To prepare the vegetables: use only the white part of the leek, peel the carrot, trim the courgette, then spiralise the courgette and carrot into tagliolini - alternatively, use a sharp knife or mandolin to cut the vegetables down lengthways before then slicing again with a sharp knife into thin strips.  

Preheat the grill to high. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl or mug, combine 1 tsp. arrowroot powder and 1 dsp. water to make a thin slurry. Re-heat the broth to boiling point then add a spoonful of the hot buttery broth into the arrowroot paste and combine well. Tip the arrowroot mixture back into the saucepan whilst stirring continuously. Allow the broth to cook on a very low heat until it thickens.

Remove the cling film and grill the hake for 8 minutes on one side only.

Whilst the hake is grilling, gradually whisk 75g chilled butter, cut into small cubes, into the hot broth to make a silky smooth sauce. Keep warm.

Just before the fish is ready, melt the reserved 25g butter in a frying pan. Stir-fry the prepared vegetables until just softened but still crisp. Season to taste. 

Remove the cooked hake from the grill and allow to rest for a minute or two. Bring the broth back to just below boiling point and add the finely diced tomatoes and chopped coriander leaf. 

Serve the fish on a nest of vegetable tagliolini with the tomato herb broth spooned round.  



Don’t put the fish too close to the heat source - about 15cm (6”) away from the grill will allow the fish to cook through perfectly without scorching the skin.


Carbohydrate 13g Protein 42g per serving

Keralan Fish Curry with Crispy Shallots

by Susan Smith in , ,

Since I started my blog writing career (can’t believe it’s only 3 months ago!), I’ve been focused on researching and developing recipes à la Primal - basically, dissing all junk food and substituting healthy ingredients for grains, refined sugar, unhealthy fats, beans/legumes. Then my sister phoned last weekend asking for “simpler things to cook”. She has a point.

Beyond the consideration of limiting my list of ingredients to Primal-friendly and the creative endeavour of bringing them together in harmony for visually exciting, flavourful food, what if some people can’t, or don’t have much time, to cook? I don’t want to cop out by ignoring the problem, so I’ve rummaged through my collection of recipes and found some fast and gloriously easy food to make. Today’s recipe is an adaptation of Keralan Fish Curry taken from a Waitrose recipe card (February 2012) found lurking in the back of my kitchen cupboard!

This tamarind-tangy, yet delicately sweet and spicy fish curry, looks and tastes ‘the business’ but actually takes less that 30 minutes to prepare and cook.

True, I’ve added one extra cooking process by dressing my version up with crispy fried shallots because a) I don’t like raw onion in any of it’s guises (so anti-social when you breathe near someone else!) and b) crispy shallots are fantastic for adding extra flavour and texture - especially juxtaposed against the creamy and aromatic flavours of this curry. They shouldn’t cause ‘cook meltdown’ because they can be made several hours ahead, or even the day before.

Keralan Fish Curry with Crispy Shallots (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the fish curry

4 x (200g each) sustainably sourced haddock fillets, skinned 

2 tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp chilli powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g (1oz) coconut oil

2 onions, very thinly sliced (I use OXO’s hand held mandolin slicer)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp black mustard seeds

400ml (15 fl oz) full-fat organic coconut milk

1 tbsp tamarind paste

5 cm (2”) piece fresh ginger, grated

225g (8 oz) frozen peas

Handful of fresh coriander leaves (or coriander micro sprouts)

1 long red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced

Crispy shallots slices (see separate recipe below) or 2 spring onions, finely sliced



Combine the turmeric and chilli powders. Sprinkle the fish fillets with the combined spices, season with sea salt and black pepper and set aside.

Boil a kettle of water. Measure the frozen peas into a heatproof jug, pour the boiling water over the peas to defrost them, strain through a wire sieve and set aside.

Melt coconut oil in a large pan over a moderate heat and gently fry the onions with the cumin and mustard seeds for 10 minutes, or until golden. 

Add the coconut milk, tamarind paste and grated ginger, stir well and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the fish to the pan, cover and simmer gently for 5-6 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. 

Add the peas to the pan, bring the sauce back to a gentle simmer and cook for a further minute.

Using a fish slice, carefully transfer the fish fillets to 4 warm soup plates/bowls. Spoon the sauce over and around, then top with fresh coriander leaf, slivers of chilli and crispy shallots.

Serve immediately.


Crispy Shallots (based on a David Tanis recipe)


175ml / 6 fl oz good quality oil, for frying (I used Clearspring sunflower frying oil but organic ghee or coconut oil are also safe/healthy oils for cooking)

4 medium-sized shallots, peeled and finely sliced 

Sea salt



Put the cold oil into a smallish saucepan. Add the sliced shallots and place over medium heat. 

Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until they gradually become brown (turn down the heat if the shallots seem to be colouring too quickly)

Place a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl. Transfer the cooked shallots to the sieve and let them drain well.

Tip the shallots onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and allow to cool - they will crisp up as they do. 



I like my fish fillets left whole, but if your pan isn’t big enough to hold them in a single layer, cut into bite-size chunks and reduce the cooking time i.e. from 5-6 minutes (for fillets) to 3-4 minutes (for chunks). 

If you don’t want the extra effort (not much, apart from slicing!) involved in making crispy shallots, you can finish the dish with 2 finely sliced salad onions instead. 

Crispy shallot slices are fantastic sprinkled over chops and burgers, and just as good on salads or steamed vegetables. They may be made several hours ahead, or even the day before. The flavourful cooking oil is ‘pure gold’ for cooks so save it in a sealed container and use it for other recipes.


Carbohydrate 19g Protein 39g - per serving of fish curry

Carbohydrate 1g Protein 0g - per serving of crispy shallots

Classic Prawn Cocktail

by Susan Smith in , , , ,

I think I was lucky to have lived my teenage years in the swinging sixties. For me, it was a most exciting ‘happening’ time to be alive. Everything was in a state flux and turmoil. Fashion - forget the mini skirt - Sarah listened in disbelief the other day when I told her that topless dresses went mainstream! Music - ‘Love Me Do’ took the world (and me), by storm. The pill (Yipee!), women’s liberation (what the heck happened to that as a concept?) and not least, the sexual revolution.  

It all just freaked my poor dad out, and there were several times when he threatened to make me a Ward of Court! Actually, I was a rebel, but in a good cause! We both survived the tsunami-style disruption and I quickly gained my freedom and learned to stand on my own two feet. To my credit (or perhaps my Dad’s), I was never promiscuous or took drugs.  

Other fond memories of the 1960s are mainly food related. Back then, asking friends around for dinner was the norm and almost every Saturday night I was hosting a dinner party. Served alongside a Steak Diane, Beef Wellington, Duck a l’Orange or Coq au Vin, the Prawn Cocktail and a bottle of Mateus Rosé somehow epitomised the dizzy pink heights of our culinary sophistication!

It’s good to reminisce and, since I am so reminded, I thought that I would revive the ubiquitous prawn cocktail as a classic retro introduction to last Sunday’s lunch. It was Gary Rhodes that said “In my opinion, delicious food is created when you get the very best ingredients you can find and do as little to them as possible” No more is this so than when you’re trying to locate decent-tasting prawns - is it only me that thinks farmed Asian king prawns taste of absolutely nothing? 

But, besides flavour, there are even more important considerations - facts that will (or should) make you sit up and take notice. Please take the time to read the article The VERY Unsavoury Truth About Prawn Cocktail (yuk!) and watch Revealed: Asian Slave Labour Producing Prawns for Supermarkets in US, UK. Then decide…

As with today’s food industry in general, ethically and sustainably sourced prawns are increasingly difficult to come by. And unfortunately, that means my ‘Is it okay to eat?’ list seems to be being shrinking by the day! Whilst this is one more good cause to carry around inside my head (visit Environmental Justice Foundation), how much more ‘diddle, swindle and plunder’ involving torture, slavery, the degradation of the oceans, the environment and your health can you tolerate? In this instance, only CP Foods, supermarket shareholders and a handful of corrupt slave drivers profit. My hope is that the Information Age and ‘people power’ will soon put an end to it.

For now, I’ve done my homework and opted for MSC certified Marks & Spencer extra large cooked Greenland prawns for this recipe. Although I gasped at the price (£7 for 350g bag), I was rewarded with sweet, nutty prawns that tasted just like they used to. With the addition of diced avocado, a generous squeeze of lemon and the crunch of some finely chopped celery, this classic starter is made even better. I think it looks fresher and eats lighter than a typical 1960s prawn cocktail, which as I remember it, all too often sank beneath the weight of an over-zealous smothering of Marie Rose sauce!

However, properly made with quality ingredients this quick and delicious little salad is perfect for a spring or summer lunchtime starter.

Classic Prawn Cocktail (Serves 4)


350g frozen cooked cold water prawns, defrosted

6 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise - preferably homemade

2 tablespoons organic tomato ketchup (I used Mr Organic)

2 organic little gem lettuce hearts, finely sliced

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

1 avocado, finely diced

2 tbsp of lemon juice

Cayenne pepper

Slim bunch of chives, finely chopped - to serve. I actually used celery micro leaves instead - simply because I had them in the fridge and they look so cheffy!



Mix together the mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and prawns in a bowl. Stir in the chopped celery and season with cayenne.

Halve the avocado, remove the stone, then peel. Chop into small dice, then toss in lemon juice to stop it discolouring. Add half of the avocado dice to the prawn mixture and stir in lightly.

Shred the lettuce finely and transfer to 4 glasses or serving plates. Divide the prawn mixture equally between them, piling it on top of the lettuce but leaving some of the greenery on show.

Spoon the remaining avocado on top and around, garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.



If you want large raw ‘king’ prawns for cooking, look out for organic or Madagascan tiger prawns. The only country from which you can currently buy certified organic tiger prawns is Ecuador. They are stocked by Waitrose.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label is also a sign that prawns have been farmed sustainably. 


Carbohydrate 4g Protein 13g

Primal Fishcakes with Lemon Butter & Chive Sauce

by Susan Smith in , , ,

Flushed with success from creating a recipe for Grain-Free Scones with the taste and texture of a traditional wheat-flour scone last week, I was supposed to have taken time out to relax and enjoy my own Mothering Sunday weekend (a one-day celebration doesn’t seem enough for a lifetime’s effort!) However, it wasn’t to be - the best laid plans and all that - because on Saturday morning I woke up ridiculously early (2:30am), with the thought that I had to develop a recipe for low-carb, potato-free, breadcrumb-free fishcakes! This almost impossibly idealistic notion haunted me for the rest of that night and the next four days! 

Whilst authentic Thai fishcakes, those tasty, slightly rubbery morsels that rely on raw fish and egg white to hold them together, do in fact fulfil my criteria for low-carb, no breadcrumbs or potato, I wanted my fishcakes to be of the classic British variety - with a soft fluffy middle and a bit of crunch on the outside. A comfort food that can simply be speared with a fork, smeared with tomato ketchup and eaten as my no-fuss interpretation of fast-food, or perhaps dressed-up for a satisfyingly simple retro meal.   

Trickily, the texture, taste and appearance of mashed potato is unique to (not unsurprisingly) potatoes! How to replicate? I didn’t want the carb count of mashed parsnips or yam, the wetness of mashed celeriac, or the orange colour of sweet potato. Finally, I settled on cauliflower (at least it’s the right colour) and coconut flour (to bind it all together) and…er, that would be a no! Far too dry and crumbly, the fishcakes disintegrated before you could get them into your mouth.

Last evening, tired and weary from a day of helping Mirror Imaging Photography catch up on their admin (or was it two days of non-stop thinking about how to develop my fishcakes?) I finally cracked it! 

Unsophisticated it may be, but nonetheless, the marriage between a light potato-style mash and fish just works, so if you’re a Primal convert and feeling fish-and-chip-shop deprived, this equally delicious potato and breadcrumb-less fishcake is very good news indeed! 

I have teamed them with poached eggs, lightly cooked spinach and Lemon Butter & Chive Sauce (probably a little too ambitious for a family meal at the end of a working day!) but you can decide what other flavour combinations work for you…

With the Lemon Butter & Chive Sauce, a fresh green salad would be perfect for a light supper or lunch. Without the sauce, tomato and mozzarella salad would be good, so would guacamole (spicy avocado dip) or, quite simply, some cooked frozen peas and a low-sugar organic tomato ketchup for dunking.

Easier and quicker to make than traditional fishcakes (because there’s none of the threefold messing about dipping them in flour, egg and breadcrumbs), I think these healthy-looking (the lovely pale green colour comes from an abundance of fresh herbs) and authentic-tasting fishcakes are destined to become a new Primal, low-carbohydrate classic.

Primal Fishcakes with Lemon Butter & Chive Sauce

Ingredients - for the fishcakes (makes 6 generous fishcakes)

500g (1lb 2oz) undyed smoked haddock (MSC certified)

150ml (¼ pint) whole milk 

1 medium-sized cauliflower

2 bay leaves - optional

75g (2½ oz) full-fat cream cheese (I use Longley Farm)

20g (¾ oz) fresh herbs, stalks removed and finely chopped (I used a mixture of parsley and dill)

2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

½ tsp cayenne pepper

55g (2oz) ground almonds, for coating

Clearspring organic sunflower oil, for frying

Lemon wedges and watercress - to garnish


Ingredients - for the lemon butter & chive sauce (serves 4)

30g (1oz) unsalted butter

Lemon, finely grated zest and juice (about 40ml)

150ml (¼ pint) double cream

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 heaped tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped



Boil a kettle of water. 

Put the fish into a large flat pan (big enough to hold all the fish in a single layer), pour over the milk and 150ml (¼ pint) water. Bring to a simmer, then gently cook the fish skin-side down for 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, turn the fish over and leave to stand, covered with the pan lid, for a further 10 minutes. 

Drain the fish and place on a large flat plate, skin and remove any bones if necessary and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cut the florets off the cauliflower (only the florets, you don’t need any stalk) and in a food processor blitz them for about 20 seconds into cauliflower grains - a sort of cauliflower ‘snow’. 

Place the cauliflower snow in the top half of a steamer with a couple of bay leaves. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom pan of the steamer, bring back to the boil then steam the cauliflower for 4 minutes with the pan lid on.

Have a clean towel laid out ready on your worktop. Using a draining spoon, deposit the just cooked cauliflower onto this. Remove the bay leaves and allow to cool down for about 5 minutes.

When cool, wrap the cauliflower tightly up inside the tea towel and wring it out as forcibly as you can to remove as much liquid from the cauliflower as possible. N.B. wet mash is death to fishcakes!

Put the dried-out cauliflower pulp into a bowl with the herbs, lemon zest and cream cheese. Blend together thoroughly with a hand blender to form a smooth mash (this can be done more easily in a food processor) then season well with salt, pepper and cayenne. N.B. The mash needs to taste really flavourful at this stage. 

Break the cooled fish into large flakes and add to the cauliflower mash, combine thoroughly with a fork but make sure you leave a good percentage of the fish flakes intact for texture. The mixture should be soft but firm enough to hold its shape when squashed together. Taste, if the mixture needs extra seasoning, add it now.

Put the ground almonds onto a large flat plate. Mould the mixture with your hands into six even-sized rounds (about 125g to 130g per fishcake and approx  2cm / ¾ inch thick), then carefully dip each fishcake into the ground almonds, coating thoroughly. Place the fishcakes on a clean plate and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

When you’re ready to cook the fishcakes, heat up 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add 3 or 4 fishcakes to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on both sides, until nicely browned. (N.B. If you overcrowd the pan the fishcakes won’t cook properly and you’ll find it difficult to manoeuvre them when you’re trying to turn them over)

Remove the cooked fishcakes, place on a paper towel lined plate and keep warm in a pre-heated low oven whilst you repeat with the remaining fishcakes.

To make the lemon butter and chive sauce: heat the butter in a small saucepan over a low to moderate heat. When the butter has melted and is just starting to bubble add the lemon zest and juice to the pan and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Add the cream, then gently simmer for a further 4 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Just before you’re about to serve, gently re-heat the sauce and stir in the finely chopped chives.



A medium-sized cauliflower should produce about 500g of stalk-free florets

Don’t be tempted to use whipped, ‘light’ or reduced-fat cream cheese for this recipe - it needs to be full-fat soft/cream cheese to help bind the cauliflower mash together.

I use a ½ US Cup to quickly measure the amount of mixture for each fishcake - pack the mixture down firmly into the measuring cup, level it off and then sharply knock the fishcake out of the cup into the palm of your other hand before shaping, i.e. flattening out, into rounds.

If the pan and frying oil looks dirty after frying the first batch of fishcakes, clean the pan out with kitchen paper and heat up some fresh oil before continuing with the remaining fishcakes.


To make Perfect Poached Eggs - using Poaching Pods, cook your eggs (one large egg per person) for exactly 5 minutes, i.e. the same amount of cooking time required for the second batch of fishcakes after they’ve been turned over.

To cook spinach (serves 4): Remove the stalks from 500g (1lb) young spinach leaves, wash the leaves and shake off as much water as possible (I do this in a salad spinner). Warm 50g (2oz) butter in a large non-stick saucepan over a medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and is starting to bubble, add the spinach to the pan (you may have to do this in 2 or 3 batches - stir-frying each batch of leaves until they collapse down to make room in the pan for the rest).

Cook the spinach for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously until all the leaves are wilted and tender. Don’t overcook, it should provide a burst of bright green on the plate - not be grey or mushy! 

Take the pan off the heat and drain the spinach in a colander, using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon to press out any excess liquid. 

Put the spinach back into the still hot pan, loosely break it up with a fork, then lightly season with salt and freshly ground pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Serve warm.


Carbohydrate 4g Protein 19g - per fishcake

Carbohydrate 2g Protein 1g - per serving of lemon butter & chive sauce

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 7g - per large organic poached egg

Carbohydrate 1g Protein 5g - per serving of spinach

Carbohydrate 3g Protein 1g - per 15g serving of Mr Organic Italian tomato ketchup

Ratatouille with Roast Cod and Parmesan Crisps

by Susan Smith in , , , , , ,

In my book, ratatouille made from multi-coloured Mediterranean vegetables is probably one of the best vegetarian meals ever invented!

I was first introduced to this classic dish in the 1960’s through A Book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David. Up until then, fresh, sun-ripened ingredients such as aubergine, courgettes and bell peppers were relatively unheard of, and virtually impossible to source in the UK. Thankfully, food shopping has come a long way since then!

Originally, an ancient French peasant dish made from coarsely chopped fresh summer vegetables (the word ratatouille comes from the French touiller, which means to stir), this iconic vegetable stew made from onions, tomatoes, courgettes, sweet peppers and aubergines is now an all-year-round favourite - although in the depths of winter I think you would be well advised to use tinned plum tomatoes instead of the seemingly non-existent fresh ripe ones!

There are numerous modern interpretations of this dish but it seems to me that this simple version, which is made on top of the stove rather than in the oven, is the most authentic and thus ratatouille at its basic best. I’ve loosely based it on Raymond Blanc’s recipe in Cooking For Friends.

For this blog post, I’ve suggested taking ratatouille into dinner party territory by partnering it with Roast Cod and Parmesan Crisps - although, as French peasants obviously knew, it is equally good for every day eating. Keep it simple, serve with our grain-free bread still warm from the oven and a salad for a main course, or as a side dish. It really comes into its own served cold the next day too. I also like to use it in ratatouille omelette. In fact, serve it hot, serve it cold, serve it any way you like! This low carb medley of vegetable goodness will remind you of summer. 

Ratatouille (V) with Roast Cod and Parmesan Crisps (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the ratatouille 

50ml (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

25g (1oz) butter

150g (5oz) onion, finely chopped

1 large red pepper

1 large yellow pepper

1 medium aubergine

1 large courgette

2 ripe plum tomatoes (I used Mr Organic tinned plum tomatoes)

1 sprig of fresh thyme, leaves only

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



Cut the stalk end off the aubergine then cut it into 1cm (½ inch) dice. Layer the aubergine dice into a colander liberally sprinkling them with salt as you go. Put a plate underneath the colander (to catch the juices) and another plate on top, weighted down with something heavy (I use a kettle filled with water) Set aside to drain for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the top and bottom off the courgette and remove the stalks and seeds from the peppers. Cut all the vegetables (courgette, peppers and tomatoes) into 1cm (½ inch) dice. Keep the vegetables separate at this stage. If you’re using tinned tomatoes remove any core, skin or daggy bits before roughly dicing.

In a large deep frying/sauté pan heat the oil and butter together over a medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and thyme leaves to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Do not let the onion brown.

Dry the aubergine on paper kitchen towel, then add the aubergine and pepper dice to the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil 1 litre (1¾ pints) water in a kettle. Pour the boiling water into a separate pan, add some salt then blanch the diced courgettes for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water.

Add the courgettes to the rest of the vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes until they are turning golden, then add the tomatoes. Give everything a good stir, cover with a lid and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes until all the vegetables are meltingly tender. 

Taste, then  season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.


Ingredients - for the roast cod

4 x 225g (8oz) sustainably sourced cod fillets, skinned

1 tbsp Clearspring organic sunflower frying oil

15g (½ oz) unsalted butter

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Lemon juice, to serve



Preheat oven to 200℃/ 400℉/ Gas mark 6. Skin and bone the cod fillets (if this hasn’t already been done for you by your fishmonger).

Heat the oil and butter together in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter has stopped foaming place the cod fillets into the pan, presentation side down i.e. skinned side uppermost.

Pan fry the fish until lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully turn the fish fillets over and transfer to a non-stick baking tray (now skinned side down) and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

Finish with a little more sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. 



Ingredients - for the Parmesan crisps (makes 8) 

150g freshly grated Parmesan cheese



Preheat oven to 200℃/400℉/Gas mark 6 

Place a 7cm ring or cutter onto a large non-stick baking tray.

Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of Parmesan into the middle of the ring and use your fingers or the back of a spoon to compact the cheese down. 

Remove the cutter and repeat - leaving sufficient space in-between so that the crisps don’t merge into each other when cooking.

Cook for 4-6 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking tray. 

Remove from the tray with a palette knife and store in an airtight container. 

Use within 7 days. 



It is always best to get organised by preparing all the ingredients listed in a recipe before you actually launch into cooking or bringing everything together. Professional chefs call this “mise en place” (putting in place) and it is a very effective way of staying on top of the situation when you’re cooking at home too. 

The ratatouille and the Parmesan crisps can be prepared well in advance - several days ahead, if needs be!

You can re-heat the ratatouille or serve it cold as an hors d’oeuvre.

Parmesan crisps are also great served as no-carb nibbles with pre-dinner drinks.


Carbohydrate 15g Protein 4g - per serving of ratatouille

Carbohydrate 1g Protein 38g - per serving of cod

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 12g - per parmesan crisp

Wild Smoked Salmon & Prawn Pâté

by Susan Smith in , , ,

The deliciously deep rosy colour of this Wild Smoked Salmon & Prawn Pâté with its soft texture and sweet flavours that hint of the sea, is food to fall in love with. Quick and easy to make, it is a truly indulgent starter for any special occasion.

Spread it lavishly on slices of crisp crostini (see the recipe for perfect crostini here) and serve with a glass of chilled Champagne and I think you could literally have your lover eating out of your hand!

I specifically chose wild Alaskan smoked salmon for this recipe because by going wild you get a firmer less fatty fish with a natural intense colour. Besides, it just doesn’t seem very loving to feed my man farmed fish that’s been fed on pellets containing antibiotics, growth hormones and artificial colour!

To make this seafood pate even more luxurious (and a little less salty) I combined the smoked salmon with some big juicy Canadian cold water prawns.

If this little number doesn’t impress your Valentine, I don’t know what will!

Wild Smoked Salmon & Prawn Pâté (Serves 2)


50g (2oz) wild Alaskan smoked salmon 

25g (1oz) large Canadian cold water prawns, defrosted

100g (3½oz) full-fat soft cream cheese

50g (2oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

½ small lemon, juiced

Large pinch cayenne pepper

2 lemon slices

8 whole prawns, defrosted

Flat leaf parsley 



Cut the salmon and the prawns into small pieces (I used kitchen scissors). Place the salmon and prawns in a blender with the cream cheese, melted butter, cayenne pepper and lemon juice.

Pulse the ingredients until mixed together well but not completely smooth - you need to retain a little texture. Taste the pâté and add a little more lemon juice if needed.

Spoon the mixture into two small ramekin dishes. Level the surface, cover with cling film and chill for 2 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, cut a thin slice from a whole lemon, cut it into two halves (remove any pips) then slice each half from its centre to the rind (don’t cut through the rind) then turn both ends in opposite directions to make a ‘twist’ and place one lemon twist on top of each pâté. Arrange two prawns on each side of the lemon slices (4 prawns per person) and garnish both with a small sprig of flat leaf parsley.



Wrapped tightly in cling film, this pâté will keep for for several days stored in a refrigerator.

Don’t add any salt as the smoked salmon has enough salt to sufficiently flavour the pâté without.

If you don't have time or don't feel confident enough to make crostini, whole red Belgian chicory leaves are a fresh and flavourful accompaniment to the pâté. They're also virtually carb-free and the pale red leaves look very pretty!

You could also add some finely chopped fresh chives or dill to this pâté but I much prefer its unadulterated rosy pink colour. For the same reason, I used cayenne pepper rather than freshly ground black pepper because I think black flecks running through the mix would spoil its appearance. 


Carbohydrate 2g Protein 10g - per portion

Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Canapés

by Susan Smith in , ,

I like cheese and biscuits but unfortunately most of the crisp-breads and crackers you can buy are made from grains and therefore totally incompatible with Primal eating. Here is an excellent alternative to starch-based crackers that we actually prefer to anything shop-bought. 

The starch-free, gluten-free, melt-in-the-mouth almond pastry used for today’s recipe is the brainchild of Jackie Le Tissier, author of Food Combining For Vegetarians. It has become almost legendary in our household. 

Using ground almonds instead of starch-based flour makes for an almost no-carb pastry that really is a brilliant substitute when making savoury or sweet tarts, canapés and crackers for cheese.

There are many variations of nut and seed pastry you can bake using different ground nuts and seeds - walnuts, pecans, poppy, caraway and sunflower seeds are some alternatives. However, this is our favourite ‘combo’.

Sarah is a dab hand at making these moreish mouthfuls and, since she espied some smoked salmon and Champagne in my fridge this morning, volunteered to get cooking. There is method in her madness, after photographing them for Primal Plate, she hopes to get to eat some of them later with a customary glass of fizz!  

It’s Burn’s night tonight, so why not? I’ll happily forego ‘neeps and tatties’ in favour of these traditionally peat-smoked Scottish salmon delicacies.

Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Canapés - Makes 20 canapés (with approx 30 crackers-for-cheese leftover)


200g (7oz) ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp almond essence

25g (1oz) butter, melted

2-3 tbsp diluted milk (to dilute the milk, mix 2 tbsp milk & 2 tbsp water together) 

200g cream cheese (I like Waitrose’s Organic Creamy Cheese because it’s soft enough to use it straight from the fridge)

150g best quality smoked salmon 

Fresh dill

Freshly ground black pepper



Pre-heat the oven to 190℃ / 375℉.

Combine the ground almonds, baking powder and almond essence in a bowl.

Mix in the melted butter and diluted milk, stir everything in together with a fork. 

Bring the mixture together with your hand to achieve a firm but moist dough (the warmth of your hand will help to do this by releasing the oil in the nuts).

To stop the pastry from sticking to your work surface or rolling pin, roll out half the dough thinly between two sheets of cling film to 2-3mm thickness. Cut into rounds with a 1½ inch scone cutter and lift carefully onto a non-stick baking sheet. Gather up the offcuts and add them to the rest of the mix. Roll out the remaining dough and repeat as above.

Bake the biscuits for 8-12 minutes or until golden and firm in texture. Some of the crackers may be ready before others so remove these first onto a wire cooling rack, then put the rest back into the oven for another minute or two until they are all lightly and evenly browned.

Transfer to the wire rack and allow to cool completely. 

When you are ready to serve the canapés, pipe or spoon about 1 tsp of cream cheese onto each cracker. Divide the smoked salmon into 20 even pieces and top each canapé with a twirl of smoked salmon. For a final flourish garnish with a sprig of fresh dill and a twist of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve immediately with drinks.


Carbohydrate 1g Protein 3g - per canapé

Italian Style White Fish in Tomato Basil ‘Broth’

by Susan Smith in ,

Ever since I started to teach my daughter Sarah to cook a knock ‘em dead tomato sauce for the televised Junior Master Chef finals, I have been searching for tinned tomatoes without citric acid. Tinned tomatoes with citric acid do exactly what they say on the tin. They taste ‘acid’, which means having to add sugar to balance out their flavour, which isn’t ideal.

Sainsbury’s So Organic tinned tomatoes used to be good to go until quite recently when, without warning, the labelling changed showing that they too had succumbed to adding what I consider the unwelcome ‘acidity regulator’ used by most brands.

So, I say hurrah for Mr Organic! Although their tinned tomatoes cost a little more, they have no additives and are much the better for it. I buy mine in bulk from Ocado and have them delivered to my door.  

This dish can be prepared, cooked and on the table within half an hour. 

Italian Style White Fish in Tomato Basil ‘Broth’ (Serves 2)


2 x 225g (2 x ½ pound) sustainably sourced white fish fillets, skinned and boned - e.g. haddock, hake, cod 

125g (4½ oz - drained weight) buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced 

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

400g (⅔ cup) tinned organic whole plum tomatoes

10g (2 tbsp) fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1-2 drops liquid Stevia* - optional

Sprigs of whole leaf basil, to serve



If not already done by your fishmonger, remove the skin and bones from the fish fillets (I prefer tail-end fillets because they don’t have any bones to remove!) then season each piece of fish generously with a pinch of salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large lidded oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion to the pan and give it a quick stir to distribute the olive oil evenly, then cover the pan and cook for 8 minutes over a low heat until the onions are soft but not coloured.

Add the tinned tomatoes to the pan, roughly breaking them up with a wooden spoon into a sauce-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, then add a drop or two of liquid Stevia if you think it tastes too tart. Finally, add the shredded basil, stir well, then put the lid back on the pan and simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes. 

Re-check the seasoning of the sauce at the end of this cooking time and adjust as necessary. 

Take the pan off the heat, remove the pan lid and lay the fish fillets skinned side down, on top of the tomato sauce. Note: If you’re using fish tail fillets tuck the ends under so that the pieces are of uniform thickness for cooking. Cover with the pan lid.

Put the fish and tomato sauce back on a low heat and simmer gently for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat your oven grill to high.

After the 6 minutes, take the pan off the heat and lay the mozzarella slices over the top of each fillet of fish to cover. 

Place the pan under the grill for 2-3 minutes until the the mozzarella is meltingly soft.

Using a couple of fish slices, carefully place the fish fillets in the middle of 2 warmed plates, spooning the tomato broth all around. Top each with a sprig of basil and serve.  


Carbohydrate 15g Protein 51g - per portion


*Although I generally favour natural unprocessed sweeteners such as raw organic honey, maple syrup and raw coconut palm sugar for baking, pure liquid stevia is a useful zero carb / zero calorie sweetener for sauces, tea and green smoothies. I buy mine from here. It may seem expensive, but because you’re only using a drop or two at a time, one bottle lasts for ages. 

Luxury Fish Pie

by Susan Smith in , ,

I think a good fish pie is one of the greatest comfort foods there is.

Our no potato, no pastry, no grain Luxury Fish Pie is an adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s recipe and it’s what we’ll be having for a late lunch or early supper this weekend, perhaps with a glass of cold Riesling.

This recipe features celeriac mash instead of mashed potato and crème fraîche instead of bechamel sauce and is all the better for it. In fact, because celeriac mash is slightly softer than potato it is easier to spread on top of the pie. A finishing touch of grated parmesan crisps it up nicely. What’s not to love?

Simple to make (the quickest way to grate the vegetables and cheese is with the grater attachment on a food processor), it can be prepared in advance and cooked in a pre-heated oven half an hour or so before you want to sit down and eat.

All you need as an accompaniment are some cooked peas (frozen are fine) and/or a green salad. It really is luxurious enough for special occasions too. This is a perfect make-ahead recipe for relaxed entertaining.

Luxury Fish Pie (Serves 6)


250g (9 oz) salmon fillets (skinless weight)

250g (9 oz) undyed smoked haddock fillet (skinned, bones removed)

250g (9 oz) white fish fillets - e.g hake, haddock or cod (skinned, bones removed)

200g (1 ⅓ cup) raw peeled king prawns

2 medium to large carrots, coarsely grated

2 outer sticks of celery, coarsely grated

1 tbsp olive oil 

15g (2 tbsp) fresh parsley, finely chopped

150g (1 ½ cup) good quality strong cheddar cheese, coarsley grated

Lemon, juice of ½ and grated zest of whole, finely grated

225g (⅞ cup) full-fat crème fraîche

1.4 kg celeriac (3 lb) - unpeeled weight

50g (4 tbsp) butter

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g (¼ cup) ready-grated parmesan cheese



Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ Gas Mark 6.

First prepare the celeriac for the fish pie topping. Boil a kettle of water. Peel and chop the celeriac into 1 inch pieces. Place the cubes of celeriac in the top of a large steamer, pour boiling water from the kettle into the base pan of the steamer, cover with the pan lid and steam the celeriac for 15 minutes or until it is completely soft and cooked through (stick a sharp pointed knife in to check).

Whilst the celeriac is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick lidded pan over a medium heat. Add the grated carrot and celery to the pan and cook with the pan lid on for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley.

Take off the celeriac off the heat and drain the water from the bottom of the steamer into a jug - this makes a really good vegetable stock for later use. Tip the cooked celeriac into the now empty base pan of the steamer and place back on a medium heat for a couple of minutes to drive off any excess moisture. Shake the pan from time to time or stir the celeriac with a wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Do not allow it to colour.

When the water from around the celeriac has evaporated, tip the celeriac into a food processor with the butter and process it to a smooth puree. Season generously with salt and pepper. If you don’t have a food processor a hand-held stick blender will do nicely, as will a bog-standard potato masher if you’re feeling energetic! Re-check the seasoning and then set to one side whilst you assemble the pie.

Cut the fish into bite size chunks and season all but the smoked haddock with salt and pepper.

In an oven-to-table ceramic dish (mine is 12” x  9” x  2”) layer up the fish pie ingredients in the following order making sure that everything is evenly distributed: 

  1. Grated vegetable & parsley mix
  2. Fish chunks and prawns
  3. Lemon zest and juice
  4. Grated cheese
  5. Spoonfuls of crème fraîche dotted over
  6. Celeriac mash, spread evenly over the top of the fish pie, then roughed-up with a fork
  7. Ready-grated parmesan, sprinkled evenly on top of the celeriac mash

Place in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. 

At the end of this cooking time, switch the oven grill to high and cook for a further 5 minutes under direct heat for a golden, crispy topping


Carbohydrate 9g Protein 42g - per serving