Tuesday, 22 July 2008


So there I was last night, nursing my third Mojito (double and a bit measures of rum, oops) and - contrary to what I've said about it before - seriously weighing up the benefits versus the hideousness of the Atkins diet. I wish I could claim it was the booze what done it, but alas, I must confess to having visited the protein-loving website earlier in the day.

I think I may be having some sort of early mid life food crisis in that I seem to have entirely lost my way in the world of nutrition, health and diet. As last Wednesdays menu so spectacularly demonstrates, at the crossroads marked 'healthy lean and nutritious diet turn left' and 'dirty wrong lardy diet turn right' I made a swift hand break turn a droite. I can't pinpoint exactly when this happened, but I think it was around the time of the days following the Glasgow 10k ('have a wee break from running Carine') which seemed to conveniently blur into weeks, and then Sylvie's hen event (cocktails, cake), and Denmark on business (airport food, Danish food), and Sylvie's wedding (champagne, yet more cake), and the weekend in Brighton (pizza), and.. and... and now I feel disgusting.

If I'm being perfectly honest, I think it happened less recently than all that. While I wouldn't say I was ever obsessed with what I ate, I used to pay real attention to what I put into my body. I have always been a believer that you are what you eat and your body deserves to be treated well. I wouldn't deny myself things on the grounds that they were unhealthy, but instead would indulge occassionally and in moderation. An active lifestyle and fairly regular if at times sporadic gym habit also contributed to my never really having had any major hang ups about my body - outside the normal standard firmer thighs, smaller behind type desires of most females. I've never been Kate Moss but have always been quite happy thank you very much.

A lifestyle where you're on your feet all night working in a nightclub and being 25 years old definitely helped. Not that I consider myself ancient now at the ripe old age of 31 years - I believe that age is a state of mind - however, my metabolism has its own ideas about ageing and it certainly seems hell bent on reminding me as I make my way into my thirties that I've definitely left my twenties behind. They say that as your metabolism slows down it is important to work harder and pay more attention to what you eat. But for reasons which mystify me, I seem to have done just the opposite.

And so it is that I find myself flirting with the idea of Atkins. But it goes against every thing I belive in. I belong to the 'diets don't work - eat less, exercise more' school of thought. Not least because it's all so boring. I don't want to be one of those women who obesses openly and at length about their weight, and fat content and net carbs and all that brouhaha (usually whilst filling their faces with cake I might add). It doesn't come naturally to me either. I love food. I don't want to deconstruct it until it's units of protein and fat and carb and not the luscious tasty marvellous stuff it has always been. The website uses the term 'sexy' too often for my liking too - 'See The Sexy Results You Get By Following The Program! - I hate being so blatently 'marketed' to. But I hate even more that despite being so actutely aware of this there's still a voice in my head whispering 'Oooooh yes, sexy! That sounds just marvellous'. Arrrgh.

I know people who have done it and swear by it, and who claim that they have slowly reintroduced carbohydrate into their diets without regaining weight. But the whole idea of having to cut out fresh fruit and vegetables seems insane, and so opposite to that which we hold as true about basic nutrition, doesn't it? There was Alex's stern warning about 'Atkins Breath' last night which didn't help the cause for the movement either it has to be said. Eurgh.

And so, while I ponder the state of my eating habits and will myself to get a grip, I thought it would be nicely inappropriate to post a recipe for something cheesey and lardy, given to me by Sylvie who is one of those lucky tall and skinny brigade of women who can eat this kind of thing daily for breakfast lunch and dinner whilst floating around serenly in all their waif-like loveliness without gaining so much as a pound. I, of course, am not bitter about this at all.

I am posting this recipe now so that I can share with you how wrong but oh so right it is, and so that I do not make it anytime soon, using the old blog fodder argument as an excuse.

So here ladies and gentlemen, is Gougere. Full of everything which makes you fat and about as anti-Atkins as you can possibly get.

Serves 3-4

185ml water
75g butter, diced
100g plain flour
half teaspoon maldon sea salt
4 eggs
50g gruyère, diced nto small squares
2 tbsp grated gruyère

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Put the water and butter into a saucepan over a medium heat. When it reaches the boil, immediately tip in all the flour and the salt.

Beat the flour into the liquid until well-mixed in, then carry on beating over a low heat for a further 30 seconds or so to dry the mixture a little. It is ready when the dough forms a ball. Take off the heat.

Beat in three eggs, one at a time.

Break the last egg into a separate bowl and beat lightly to mix. Carefully add about half of it to the choux pastry mixture and beat in. If the mixture is glossy and falls from the spoon, then you have added enough egg. If not, beat in the remaining egg until the desired consistency is reached. Mix in the diced gruyère.

Spoon the mixture in a ring around the outer area of a greased baking dish, leaving a hole in the middle. It's important to leave a hole in the middle otherwise it will rise too quickly and burn.

Sprinkle the grated gruyère over the dough. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until puffed up high and richly browned.


Manuel said...

If I can get it together I'll make that on saturday morning.........if, I can get it together

Gemma said...

Ah yes, the French paradox as witnessed daily by all friends of Sylvie! I have this recipe as well but luckily keep forgetting it so have never made it myself. Anyway, ate far too much of this and other pastry based loveliness in France so I may be sharing your obsession shortly.

Gemma x

carine said...

ooooooooh do it manuel, do it! there's nothing like a big savoury choux to get you going on a saturday morning.... some wee smoked lardons thrown in is tasty too..... oh yes x

Jennie Landels said...

Loved this post!

Dear good this dish looks amazing!!

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