Kung Fu Café
Since 2011

Rave at the Box (any excuse to bake!) | Quadruple of Primal Treats

Menu du jour:
1. Banana & nut brownies
2. Coconut brownies
3. Honey, lemon & almond cookies
4. Chocolate & pistachio biscotti

What a week and what a crazy weekend! Where do I start?

Firstly, I should probably apologise for a very photo heavy post. But these brownies are just so damn photogenic. I love the colours of these banana brownies in particular, and the fact that they’re a little thicker/taller than the coconut ones (although the coconut brownies are a little gooey-er) makes them slightly easier to shoot.

I also tried a slightly different set up when taking these photos; I put my white boards on a coffee table so I could get differently angled shots easier than before, and it seemed to work! I took the Friday afternoon off because a) I was being incredibly unproductive that afternoon and all of the labs were packed, and instrumentation I needed was in use, and b) it was sunny and so I wanted to make the most of the light (as it had been dark and raining all week!). Although, it did get too sunny that afternoon (too sunny?! Yes!) and the direct sunlight made the shadows too harsh! Can’t win, eh? But I managed to get around it. :) (I have posted a photo of my set up, but please excuse the cables; I was testing my internet connections and there usually aren’t that many!)

So anyway, onto the food!

Although these treats are technically primal (paleo for the most part), they’re still concentrated (i.e. too many nuts, lots of honey, maple syrup, dried fruits, etc.), and so they’re still only a treat. I need to keep reminding myself of this; I swear there were twice as many of these treats before I took them to the party at CFP, but I just ate most of them in the space of two days. I tried my hardest to resist, but I just couldn’t. I would have eaten them all if it wasn’t for the potential shame of turning up with an empty box and broken promises!

Of course you can alter the sweetness with the amount of honey/maple syrup you add, and as well as the squidgy-ness with the amount of sweet potato and flour. Also, the more things you add, the less squidgy they will be (hence why the coconut brownies look a lot moister than the banana ones!).

These also go superbly well with coconut cream! How do you make coconut cream, you ask? Just open a tin of coconut milk, mix well, put in a mason jar and pop into the fridge overnight, et voilà‎! Coconut cream! It’s light to taste and so delicious! Although these brownies are moist enough to enjoy without anything else. :)

Just make sure that the brownies are cold before you cut them, otherwise they’ll crumble a bit too much! Although if you’re like me and put a million different things in them, it’s always going to be difficult to cut a clean slice every time.

And don’t get rid of your sweet potato skins! They make excellent pizza bases! Just put on some toppings and pop them in the oven. :) I would love to try and make these with avocado or beetroot. I would also like to try these with oats, too. I’ve used black beans in brownies, and they came out really well, although a little drier. I think my next test will be to try them with mung beans as they’re a little bit mushier in texture and may make for a softer brownie. We will see and I will post the results at some point! If they come out well, I may well try and scale it up to make it in to a cake for my brother’s birthday. He’s into health foods and getting as much protein as possible. Beans have a lot, so I’ll make it into a protein cake! I could even add protein powder and peanut butter, but I think adding a large chunk of meat will be taking things a bit too far…

The honey almond cookies were supposed to be biscotti, but I think I accidentally put in twice the amount of honey and syrup, as well as too much baking powder! So when I popped the batter (yes, batter, not dough!) on a baking sheet, I thought that it was too runny, but it sort of kept its shape. And when I had baked it for the first time, it was as flat as a pancake (and just about spilling over the edges, too!). It still tasted really nicely though, and would have been a shame to have got rid of those lovely ingredients. So I scooped the batter back up, made them into cookie shapes, and baked them again. And ta daaaa! Saved biscotti turned biscuits!

I’ve never even been a big fan of biscotti. They definitely have nice feelings and associations… when else do you have biscotti other than with tea or coffee? And tea and coffee means either a break, time to relax, or good old ramblings and nattering with someone special. Or that first cup of tea in the morning… that’s to die for! Anyway, getting off topic… the photographs on the other blogs made the biscotti look SO divine, so I thought I would give it a go! But one thing that puts me off of biscotti is that they are SUPER crunchy! I like crunchy things, but sometimes they’re too hard… maybe I’ve just had bad biscotti in the past? But either way, the ones I baked weren’t hard at all – they were still quite soft and fairly chewy with a really nice taste! More like soft biscuits/cookies than hard biscotti and remind me of Roman sweets. :)

The brownies are definitely my sort of thing though! Especially the banana ones, as I love banana! But then again, the coconut ones were so chocolately and moist, so I liked those, too. I did have a lot of complements the night that I took them to the rave at the box! And even afterwards, on Facebook, someone posted that they only remembered having little brownies/cakes that tasted delicious. I’m glad they went down so well! I’ve even had several people ask me for recipes, and so, here they are! Today, someone from the box even posted photos of this sweet potato pie that they had made, but added pumpkin in, too, and served it with Swedish glacé (dairy free ice cream)… and it looked so good!

It turns out that I have inspired quite a few people to cook more things and eat more paleolithically, and I’m always really pleased to hear such feedback. And not even regarding food and nutrition, but I’ve recently had feedback about how I inspire some people down at the box with their training and various other things. It really touches me every time I hear something like that, and really makes me feel great, as though my work on this planet is helping me to fulfil what I set out to do. If I can inspire people to try new things and push harder in order to try and better themselves in some way, then I am very happy, indeed. :) That’s what I believe we’re all here for, and I believe that’s what optimises the human experience!

Earlier that day we had a “leaving WOD,” beautifully crafted and it was a partner WOD, too, which are always fun. The atmosphere was epic! I was with Emily and we kicked butt! The WOD was as follows:
Cash in: kettlebell handwalk in plank position in pairs (using 3 KBs)
WOD: 30 partner alternating wall balls 9/6
30 partner alternating pull ups
30 partner alternating sit ups
30 partner synchro skips (1 rope)
30 partner alternating press ups (legs of one partner on another)
30 partner alternating plate complex 20/15
-burpee
-cluster to overhead
-2 x alternating OH lunges
Both partners then stand on a 2.5kg plate for 5 seconds to finish WOD!

The photos from Crossfit are not mine, but nabbed from Facebook. :D

The photos of the hoodie are also another surprise in the post I received last week from a friend I made at PrimalCon a few weeks ago! It was such a thoughtful gift, and the postcards are of Emerald Bay around Lake Tahoe, as we toured there one evening on a beautiful boat. In return, I have posted a load of English tea to the US! He has tea most probably for life! Although if he drinks it at the rate I do, it certainly won’t be for life! I was very touched by this gift, as it was incredibly thoughtful, and will take place in my heart along with a few other special gestures I’ve received in my lifetime. Thank you. :)

Oh, what else? Plymouth Raiders won their basketball match on Sunday night again Durham Wildcats! It was a great match to watch and I’m so glad I was with my favourite people!

I could go on about a lot of different things, but I will stop there, and maybe save it for next time. ;) Here’s Monday’s WOD!

Monday’s WOD at CFP:
(After-party WOD I think!)
“The Grim Reaper and his gurned up mate”
In pairs with a 40 min timeout:
100-70-40
Push press 35/25
SDHP 35/25
KB swing 24/16
Press ups
Sit ups

Banana & Nut Brownies
Adapted from: Eat Drink Paleo

Ingredients
• 3 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x large bananas, chopped (+ 1 for decorating!)
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ~1 cup dried fruit and nuts (I used a mix of walnuts, dried cranberries, dried goji berries, pecans, dried physalis, large raisins, golden raisins and a handful of macadamias!)
• 1 cup of good quality, unsweetened, cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp coconut/almond flour
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder (gluten free)

Preparation
Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skin and mash the insides in a large bowl (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!). Add the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ingredients) and mix until well homogenised.

Spread in a baking tin lined with non-stick parchment paper (I used a silicon baking tin; they’re fantastic!) so that they’re 1″ thick. Use the one banana reserved for decoration by chopping it into 25 slices and arranging them on top of the batter. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 185°C, and let cool. Carefully remove the brownies and cut into sizes as big as you like. (In my case it’ll just be one big portion all for me!)

I used a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking tray, but I think a slightly smaller one would have been better for thicker brownies.

Coconut Brownies
Adapted from: Eat Drink Paleo

Ingredients
• 3 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ½-1 cup of toasted, flaked coconut
• 1 cup of good quality, unsweetened, cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp coconut/almond flour
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder (gluten free)
• White chocolate and double cream to decorate

Preparation
Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skin and mash the insides in a large bowl (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!). Add the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ingredients) and mix until well homogenised.

Spread in a baking tin lined with non-stick parchment paper (I used a silicon baking tin; they’re fantastic!) so that they’re 1″ thick. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 185°C, and let cool. Carefully remove the brownies and cut into sizes as big as you like. (In my case it’ll just be one big portion all for me!)

I used a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking tray, but I think a slightly smaller one would have been better for thicker brownies.

I melted white chocolate (not paleo, I know!) with double cream, spread it across and sprinkled flaked coconut all on top for decoration.

Chocolate & Pistachio Biscotti
Adapted from: Paleo Spirit

Ingredients
• 1 cup almond flour
• ¼ cup coconut flour
• ¼ good quality cocoa powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup pistachios, halved/crushed
• 100 g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until homogenised. The dough should keep its shape when pressed together, otherwise you may have added too much syrup!

Form the dough into one 1″ thick log on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely (about an hour).

Cut into ½” thick slices, place on their side, and put back into a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool before decorating and serving. I covered the biscotti in the white chocolate/double cream glaze I made for the coconut brownies, but it didn’t look as nice as I hoped it would! I think pure, intense white chocolate would have been better, but we live and learn! :)

Honey, Lemon & Almond Cookies
Adapted from: Steak, and Sass

Ingredients
• 1 cup almond flour
• ½ cup coconut flour
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• zest of 1 lemon
• 8 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup slivered almonds

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until homogenised. Spread onto a baking tray (with large sides!) lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely (about an hour).

Scoop the dough up, shape little balls of equal size, and press onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Let cool entirely before serving.

All baked in my lovely kitchen: 24.10.2013

Chicken Parmigiana With Penne Pasta


Here is yet another recipe post for something quick and simple, but tasty and filling! The chicken once baked in the oven tasted even better than KFC (and much healthier, too!). :-)


Chicken Parmigiana With Penne Pasta
Adapted from: Sea Salt with Food
Serves 6

Ingredients
• 600-700g diced chicken
• 1 x egg
• ¼ cup/45g flour
• 1 x slice of bread
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 500g penne pasta
• 1 x 400g jar of tomato based sauce
• dried thyme
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 250g mozzarella
• 100g parmesan

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 205◦C.

Beat the egg in a large bowl, and put the flour and breadcrumbs in a separate large bowl. Pop the chicken into the egg, and then straight into the breadcrumb and flour mixture. Use your hands to press the mixture onto the chicken to ensure cohesion.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and add spread the chicken across. Drizzle with a little more oil. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the chicken over, and bake for another 10 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling hot water (according to the instructions on the packed). Drain the pasta, and mix in the thyme, pasta sauce, salt and black pepper.

Mix in the chicken pieces with the pasta, and put it all into a large baking dish. Top it off with slices of mozzarella, parmesan cheese and dried thyme. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so until everything is heated through and the top has browned.

Buon appetito!

Baked 02.06.2011

Homemade Meatballs


I made these meatballs to help give my mum a break from cooking, especially as Friday is the day when all the sheets from the beds are changed. It was such a hot day, dad was mowing the lawn, and so my input was to cook the dinner! I also made a lovely cherry clafoutis to go with it. We all enjoyed the evening sun down at Buckfast Abbey. I do like that place. It was really interesting to look around the plant gardens, where they have quite a lot of lavender and other herbs. They even had some Monkshood, which is a poisonous plant! And I didn’t realise there were so many varieties of mint! Unfortunately, a few of the other signs were turned at awkward angles and so we couldn’t tell which plant was which. I should have taken some pictures, though, but I didn’t have my camera. :-(


Homemade Meatballs
Adapted from: BBC Good Food
Yielded 26 large-ish meatballs.
Spaghetti serves 4.

Ingredients
For the meatballs:
• 600-700g minced beef
• 1 x onion, grated
• 3 tbsp dried parsley
• 40g parmesan, grated
• 3 x slices of bread, whizzed in a food processor (or 132g breadcrumbs)
• 1 x egg, beaten
• 4 tbsp olive oil

For the spaghetti:
• ~400g spaghetti
• 1 x 350-400g jar of tomato based sauce

Preparation
Wash the meat, and place it in a large bowl with the egg, onion, breadcrumbs parmesan and parsley. Now here’s where you stick your hands in and homogenise it. Then, form balls of the mixture, ensuring that they’re compact and firm. Put them aside.

Boil the pasta in salted water. While that’s boiling, heat 2-4 tbsp olive oil in a large pan. Add the meatballs (being sure not to overcrowd the pan; this may have to be done in batches) and brown them on all sides. Then, add all of the meatballs back in, along with the tomato sauce. Half fill the jar in came in with water, and add that to the pan, too. Boil the sauce, and then reduce to a simmer and cover for half an hour.

Drain and pasta when it’s ready, and then incorporate into the meatball and sauce mixture. Serve piping hot with salad and grated parmesan.

Buon appetito!

Baked 03.06.2011

Fresh Gnocchi in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce | Mini Mother’s Day Meal

I always try to cook different things, which really helps to improve my culinary skill. I am definitely starting to get the hang of improvising, and being able to substitute ingredients and adapt a recipe to suit our own tastes. Not only that, but it also helps to make oneself more open to food when visiting other countries, and cultures. It goes beyond just being open to their food, but also being open to more things in life, too.

When I was younger, I remember a few teachers being really impressed with the number of different types of fruits and vegetables that I knew the names of, and had tried. Once a friend came round to my house for dinner and she asked what the “yellow stuff” was on our plates. My parents were shocked that she’d never even come across sweetcorn before. Back then I had already tried things like pomegranates, Sharon fruits (persimmons), star fruits, passion fruits, and lots of other things like that.

But I feel as though it extents to more than just knowing your food; by knowing and being aware of food makes you naturally inquisitive about other things (i.e. it’s a lifestyle thing). I remember also being in secondary school (high school) and some teachers were really shocked when one pupil pointed Canada out as Australia on a map….and so was I! I went back to my parents and exclaimed to them how one couldn’t know that! And to be honest, my geography is rubbish…but surely everyone knows where Australia is, right?


Anyway, I made this meal for my mum as a mini Mother’s Day gift (even though it’s not until tomorrow). We’ll all celebrate Mother’s Day properly next weekend, because dad will be back from work in London by then, and also we can celebrate with both of our grandmothers, too. But to be fair, I don’t really think that we’ll even be celebrating that, because next week, is mum’s graduation ceremony!

Mum said that she wasn’t looking forward to this meal, as she tried gnocchi years ago (before my brother and I were born) and didn’t like it at all. Admittedly it was from a packet, but I managed to convert her by rustling up this delicious dish of fresh gnocchi! You should try it, too!

I would love to make this again, but for those who like their meat, chicken would go great with this dish! I suppose you could pan fry it before adding the mushrooms. Simple. :-)

Fresh Gnocchi with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Source: The Culinary Chronicles
Serves: 4 generous platefuls

Ingredients
For the gnocchi:
• 750g potatoes
• 220g (~2 cups) flour
• 1 x egg
• 1 tsp salt

For the mushroom sauce:
• 2 x tbsp butter
• 500g button mushrooms
• 2 x cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp dried chives
• ½ tsp dried thyme
• 500ml vegetable stock (36kcal)
• 60ml (¼ cup) double cream (150kcal)
• 30g (¼ cup) cheese, grated (I used cheddar)
• salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

To prepare the gnocchi:
Peel the potatoes and cut them into sizes roughly the same size. Boil them in slightly salted water until they’re incredibly soft – about ½ an hour.

Drain the potatoes, reserving the water in the large pot (keep a lid on it to keep the water as hot as possible). Mash the potatoes in a large bowl, and add the flour, little by little, mixing with a wooden spoon. Keep on adding flour and mixing until the dough comes together, so that it’s easy to handle without being particularly sticky.

Separate the dough into balls, and roll each ball out into a long thin sausage-shape about ½ – ¼ “ thick. Then, use a pastry cutter to cut little balls of pillows about 1” long.

Boil the salted potato-y water (reserved from earlier), and pop the gnocchi in. Prepare a large bowl half filled with cold water. Cook some of the gnocchi (this will need to be done in batches) for a couple of minutes until they float to the surface. Remove them with a slotted spoon into the cold water.

When all of the gnocchi are cooked, drain them in a colander and set aside for later.

To prepare the sauce:
Wash and slice the mushrooms. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large pot; add the mushrooms, thyme, garlic and chives. Sauté the mushrooms until reduced and golden brown. Then add the stock, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream, and simmer for a few more minutes, before adding the gnocchi. Let the gnocchi heat all the way through, add the cheese, stir well (being very careful not to break and mash the gnocchi), and leave to boil. Reduce to a simmer for approx. 5 minutes.

Serve piping hot with salad, or anything else of your choice.

Buon appetito!