As you know I am one of the millions who start every new year with the intention of ending it weighing alot less - some years it happens, more years not! This year is no exception, and I felt it was a sign that this might be "the year" when the people at Low Low challenged me to give a Come Dine With Me meal to some friends and ask them to score the experience. (Although there is a flaw in their plan - who's friends wouldn't score them 10!!).
I invited some of my reducing friends (they'll be delighted with that title!) to lunch and set out to plan my menu. I wanted to try out the Low Low products, as I have been a fan of their packets of grated cheddar cheese for ages and have been known to devour a tub of the Cracked Black Pepper Cheddar Spread with a packet of crisps (but those days are gone - I promise!!!). They had sent me some recipe ideas and I opted to try out their Carrot, Courgette, Pecan and Cheese muffins to go with a starter of Carrot, Cardamon and Cumin Soup (I made these carrots (using less butter) and then added stock and blitzed). The muffins were great with the soup, although next time I make them I'll omit the nuts and add some grilled (or fried depending on the will power) bacon or ham.
For the main course I served monkfish baked with some home made sunblushed tomatoes and preserved lemons and served that with Stuffed Tomatoes with Rice, I got this recipe from a Slimming World leaflet, toyed with it a bit and it is excellent - the highlight of the meal in my opinion. The fact that you soak the rice in the tomato juices for such a long time gives you a lovely soft textured result. This will be a regular visitor to our dinner table from now on - maybe with some olive oil drizzled over (when I'm skinny and can do such things!!).
The other vegetable I served was a Low Low recipe for Cheesy Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms - now if this had been the real deal and I were serving them to strangers who would rate my meal, I might have left these out, they weren't a huge success, they tasted fine but laked severely in the looks department.
For dessert I served these cupcakes which were popular, and I think it was O.K. that after such a virtuous meal we indulged in some Baileys in our coffee.
Stuffed Tomatoes With Rice
adapted from a Slimming World Recipe
4 large firm tomatoes (I used beef tomatoes)
2 garlic cloves - grated
50g/2oz risotto rice (uncooked)
6 tbsp finely chopped basil (keep some to decorate)
3 tbsp grated cheddar cheese (I used Low Low)
salt and black pepper
Cut the top off the tomatoes and set aside to use as lids.
Scoop out the pulp from the tomatoes and chop finely, put in a bowl.
Stir the rice, garlic, basil into the tomato pulp and leave aside at room temperature for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Add the basil and cheese to the rice mixture and stuff the tomatoes.
Transfer to a baking dish and top with the lids.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and the rice is cooked through.
P.S. They scored me 10 (surprise, surprise) but refused a chance of international stardom citing bad hair days when I wanted to take their picture for the blog!