Tuesday 18 November 2014

Crab, chilli and Kale wholemeal pasta

Crab, chilli and kale pasta

My family have been staying with me. They came over for my book launch, stayed a little while and then flew back off to sunny Spain, yesterday. I miss their company already, and I miss cooking for a crowd.
Making a speech at my book launch, being heckled by my dad

I've been putting proper meals, (unassisted), on the table since I was 10 and pre-internet would find my inspiration from the bookshelf or the telly. I found one of the first books my Mum bought me when I was a child, called 'Lemons' it's a funny little book that I cooked from often, because it was mine. Lemons are always in my fruit bowl, and find their way into most of my cooking. 

I enjoyed this pasta dish I made last week immensely, so jotted down quantities to pop it on here. I think everyone else did, we had just had a family row so it was hard to tell if we were all so lost in the deliciousness of our pasta or all needed a break from talking, but there was a brief moment of silence. One of the many reasons I like cooking for my family is that everyone eats everything. No one asks what's for dinner, they sit, they comment, they mumble, they eat.

Serves 4

5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
25g flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
150g cavalo nero/kale
50g parmesan, freshly grated
300g fresh, white crab meat
500g wholemeal spaghetti 
spoon of creme fraiche or cream 

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Time it, checking after 9 minutes but it will need a couple longer.
In a small frying pan, add 3tbsp of the oil, chilli, lemon zest and cook for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Add the juice and the crab meat and turn off the heat. 

In a separate, larger frying pan, on a pretty high heat add the kale and a big splash of water. Cook for 5 minutes of so, and when the water has evaporated, add 2 tbsp of olive oil to crisp up the kale. It will brown in places, that's what you want,it will taste like crispy seaweed!

Drain your pasta, add the flavoured oil and crab, stir in most of the Parmesan and then the kale. Finish with extra Parmesan, a dollop of creme fraiche, and pepper. 


Tuesday 11 November 2014

PRESS Cleanse Project

PRESS produce cold-pressed juices. They asked me if I wanted to do the "Press Cleanse Project" 

If you know me, I may be the last person you expect to try this.
If you follow me on instagram, you’ll see I’m obsessed with cooking, sharing and eating food.
When I had a café, I remember a regular customer saying to me one morning ‘every time I see you, Milli, you have something in your mouth’
She was right.
We made the same batch of notorious brownies every single day, month after month, yet I would always taste them for quality control.

So, I was being sent 24 juices for the next 3 days. You can imagine I was nervous.

My brother asked if I had gradually been reducing my calorie intake in preparation. He couldn’t have been more wrong. I was to start the cleanse the Monday after a weekend away for a friend’s wedding where I experienced true Irish hospitality.
In 4 days I had 2 generous home cooked dinners, 2 Ulster Fries with fried potato bread, a 3 course wedding meal, fish and chips, a wedding buffet breakfast and an Indian takeaway.  If there was ever a time that I was in need of cleanse, it was now.

Most people have asked if I enjoyed it and if I cheated and if I lost weight.
Here is a brief summary of how I found my 3 days.

Sunday night
A big, shiny insulated ‘press’ box arrives with 24 beautifully packaged cold pressed juices. It was exciting reading which each one was, there is a calendar to tick off each juice and a healthy info sheet. I clear a couple of shelves and put them in order. I then eat dinner, slowly and appreciatively!

You must start with a chlorophyll juice. This was my least favourite, kind of tastes pondy, but no fear, the juices get more delicious as the day unfolds and there are two juices a day which are ‘milks’ that satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. One tastes just like a chocolate milk they sell for kids in Spain.
The first day isn’t bad at all and I go to bed satisfied with no tummy rumbles.

I got hungry at midday on Tuesday. Last Tuesday winter came overnight and I was freezing. I cheated ever so slightly and made myself a miso broth (no solids) to warm myself and surpress my salt craving. The rest of the day was fine until my brother made the mother of all club sandwiches in front of me, followed by a delicious looking stirfry in the evening. I resisted and once again went to bed happy.

By now, you know you can do it. I felt so much lighter by Wednesday and my skin was looking not only clear of any blemish but positively gleaming, I kid you not. Although I didn’t feel I had any more energy per se, I did feel healthier and my eyes were really bright.
By the third day, I missed crunching something. I had ONE sheet of grilled nori.
I’m only being honest here, I needed something to put between my teeth, I was having a stressful time with work and it was the only thing I could think of that would almost dissolve on my tongue and not require much digesting. Also, it’s seaweed, gotta be good for you.  I was listening to my body.

There was pie. Strangely enough, I felt sad when I couldn't reach for a juice in the morning.

So all in all, I would totally do it again…probably before Christmas, or maybe after all the excess and indulgence of Christmas.
I noted a few pros and cons below

It’s exciting receiving the delivery.
You don’t have to think about what to buy or cook in the next three days.
I have a vitamix. My neighbours and I could enjoy three days without the sounds of a power drill every day to make my own juices.
No washing up!
You FEEL healthy
No bloating
I don’t own scales but I did measure around my thigh and waist.
I lost 2 inches around my waist and 1inch around my thigh in three days.
There's an excuse not to go to the gym for a few days, because heavy exercise is discouraged.
The most interesting and important thing for me was the realization that I eat too much and too regularly. I can survive on less, and I will make an effort to.
I eat too much salt. I don’t need salt on everything, all day (another breakthrough)
I didn’t miss the caffeine or alcohol at all – result!

It’s hard to drink cold juices from the fridge when the weather has turned like this. Try and drink herbal, non-caffeinated teas to warm yourself from the inside. There was a lovely Apple and lemon juice, which has warming properties with the pressed ginger.
When I told press this feedback, they recommended warming the leches slightly. What a treat.
I am pretty social and will meet for drinks or eat out a fair bit throughout the week. My job also involves cooking food most days, so that was torture. Pick three days where you have no social engagements in the diary!

PRESS is a wonderfully friendly company, who will support you through the cleanse if need be. There are 3 tiers of cleanses, so they will start you off on an easy going one if you are new to all this.
When I told them how much I loved the cleanse and how friends were asking how I got on, they gave me a code so readers can get a discount! It’s the best value, quality juice cleanse on the market so with the discount, it’s a no brainer. 
Your 10% discount code: millicleanseproject
Press website http://press-london.com/ 

you can also find them at
6 Denman Street,

Press will be giving out free juices in Piccadilly 8am-10am this Thursday in exchange for a follow on their instagram or twitter!
Give it a go and let me know how you get on!