Tag Archives: Low Carb

Grilled Vegetables

http://dawnoffood.com

I shop at a variety of venues:  farmer’s markets, Whole Foods, and local chain grocery stores.  During my shopping trips, I am constantly amazed at the prices in the prepared food section.   Pasta salads and cooked vegetables boggle my mind.  I realize that the stores are charging for the labor, but around $8 a pound for “grilled” vegetables?  From the prepared food aisle, I can see the produce aisle where the same vegetables are $1.99 a pound!!! Zucchini and Squash are sometimes even less. It’s not like the prepared food aisle is selling organic, free range, pastured eggplants, right? Who’s on the grill?  Bobby Flay?!?! And, is there really a grill in the grocery store?  Or are we dealing with “grill pan” vegetables?

So many questions, but honestly, I don’t care.  For way less than the prepared food aisle grocery store would charge, grilled vegetables are seriously, no big.  So, the next time you are contemplating buying these in the store, just stop.  Don’t be that person.  Seriously, it may take 10-15 minutes out of your life, but it will taste better and cost you much less.

Our grill had been out of commission after what we affectionately call “fire #2”.  The gas tubing had rusted through in a few minor spots and when combined with particularly fatty pork chops, well, let’s just say there’s a reason to keep the fire extinguisher close at hand while cooking.  We cleaned everything up, got new tubing and recommissioned our amazing grill.  During Spring, Summer and Fall, if it can be grilled, it will be grilled. Cooking is quick and clean up is relatively easy (assuming a fire free experience, of course!).

The key to great grilling is to preheat the grill for a bit.  I usually preheat for about 5-10 minutes at high, then turn down the heat to medium to cook. I know, I use propane.  Gasp.  The horror!! Not PROPANE!!!  There is something very effortless about flipping a knob and instantly having heat. I just don’t have time during the week for charcoal. Do I think charcoal is better?  Yes. But, I’m not cooking for the Michelin guide reviewers. I’m cooking for my husband and two kids. They can deal with propane.

Grilling vegetables should be big enough to not fall through the grates. If you have smaller vegetables, you’ll need a wire grate type contraption. Eggplants, squash and peppers are rather perfect for the grill, but you have to cut them thick enough and wide enough to avoid fall through. I leave the skin on because it seems to keep everything in place pretty well. The skin also doesn’t really taste bad when grilled.  You or your guests can remove the skin if they do not feel like eating it.

http://dawnoffood.com

Grilled Vegetables
Serves approximately 4 as a side

2 pounds Eggplant, sliced longways (may use other vegetables)
olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat grill to about 500 degrees.

Generously coat slices with olive oil on both sides. Salt and Pepper to Taste.

Turn heat down slightly. Place eggplant slices on grill for about 3 minutes. Check to make sure there is no burning. Flip vegetables over (I use tongs) for another 3-4 minutes, until the eggplant is cooked through with grill marks. Check occasionally to avoid burning. Remove from grill and serve.

Seriously.  It’s that easy.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

http://dawnoffood.comI’ve had a few readers ask me about Cauliflower Pizza Crust.  To be honest, it took me a while to look into this because I was kind of like, meh.  Cauliflower is everywhere.  Rice, buffalo wings, and now pizza crust.  Seriously.  How much more can we torture one little plant?  We don’t do this to broccoli, do we?  What exactly was cauliflower’s crime?  Being bland?  Yup.  That’ll teach ’em, now douse it with hot sauce and say it’s the same as wings.

With paleo this and whole 30 that, people are trying to replicate dishes they like, but can’t have because of dietary restrictions.  I totally get it.  My husband has some health issues and truly needs to find alternatives to high carb, low nutrient dishes that he loves.  But cauliflower crust?  I put it up there with chocolate pudding made with avocados.  We are jumping the shark here people. Nonetheless, I decided to look into it.  I’m not a huge pizza fan to begin with, but everyone else is, so what could it hurt to give it a go?

So, I searched the internet high and low and came across a wide variety of recipes.  The general “how” of the recipe is that you pulverize the cauliflower, boil the pulverized bits and squeeze every last drop of scalding water out of the cauliflower by hand (natch!), combine the bits with cheese, egg, and spices and form into a crust and bake.  Dry cauliflower “flour” is the goal here, with egg as binder and the cheese as a bit of substance.  I suppose the spices are to try to trick you into liking it.

So I made it.  There is something so very first world about taking a lovely head of cauliflower and pulverizing it into useless mush to make a quintessentially unhealthy fast food substitute.

http://dawnoffood.com

This kind of reminds me of wet grits.  Anyway, you boil these lovely bits for a few minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not the only one, grits, amirite?  Ignore the obviously fogged picture.  Sorry!!

So, then you take about 7 minutes to aggressively squeeze the life out of the grits cauliflower.  Damn the burned hands and hot water.  Squeeze like your life depends on it, because dinner certainly does!!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

At the end of the squeezing, I got this sad little pile of cauliflower bits.  I added an egg, cheese and spices and was able to mold a pizza-like shape out of it.

http://dawnoffood.com

I then baked it naked for a bit, topped it and re-baked it.  The plusses, no one in a million years believed there was no flour in the recipe.  Not my husband, nor the kids who watched me make it.   I could cut the pieces and eat them by hand, remarkable considering there’s no flour in this recipe. The inside of the crust was a bit “droppy”, but the outside was fine. I think a smaller pie might have made the whole crust more crispy, as would placing it on a pre-heated pizza stone for the baking portion of the recipe.

The kids loved it! My daughter considered it a wild success.  This is huge, as her menu is rather limited. My son eats anything, so while I value his opinion, hers is much harder to win over. My husband said it was really good for what it was.  Keep back, ladies, he’s all mine.

The crust was really spot on, nicely spiced, fairly substantial.  No clue whatsoever you were eating cauliflower and goat cheese.  Truly.  Was it pizza?  It is a wonderful substitute if you are dying for pizza, but really want to stick to a low carb or gluten free option.  You will, however, fool no one into thinking there’s isn’t something amiss with the crust.

The minuses?  Ugh, the work.  The squeezing and the scalded hands.

My recipe was inspired by The Detoxinista’s version of the crust.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Serves about 4

4 cups raw cauliflower rice (about 2 heads of cauliflower, pulverized)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup soft goat cheese (chevre)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon powdered onion
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Boil the raw cauliflower rice in salted water for 4-5 minutes. Drain. Place the boiled cauliflower in a clean dish towel and twist and squeeze all the water out of the “rice”. Squeeze until there is really no more water left. It will take a lot of time.  If you decide to skimp on this part, you will be eating the pizza with a fork and knife.  The horror!!

Place the “rice” in a medium mixing bowl and combine well with egg, cheese and spices. On parchment paper, or silicone sheet, form the “dough” into your desired pizza-like shape. I would not make it any thinner than 1/3rd to 1/2 an inch thick. The thinner the crust, the more likely it will be “firm”. However, make it too thin, and you’ll get holes in the crust.  1/3rd of an inch would be as thin as I would go.  Bake the crust for 30-35 minutes, until the crust starts to brown and is fairly firm.

At this point, top the crust with your favorite pizza sauce and toppings. Return to the oven and remove when the cheese is bubbling.

Chicken with a Thai Peanut Sauce

http://dawnoffood.com

I am really struggling with posts.  I love finding interesting recipes from yesteryear; however, when I post such recipes, my page views go down.  But post something like Pizza Fondue or  Chocolate Chip Waffles and watch my page views skyrocket. Not really shocking, I know.  I want to put mostly healthy fare out in the world, but I’d also like people to actually read my blog.  So, I’ll keep plodding away hoping that for every Chicken Marengo that is a bit of a dud views-wise, but is awesome history wise, there’s a Maryland Fried Chicken that does pretty well.

I have pulled out my trusty pressure cooker again to make this recipe, which was inspired by a recipe I saw at Pressure Cooking Today.  First, I love the simplicity.  Sure, you can brown the chicken thighs, because that is what we are told “adds depth of flavor”, but you could skip it and the 20 minutes it takes to brown the thighs before you pressure cook them. Chicken thighs are just the best. Cheap and they can withstand a bit of overcooking and the rigors of the pressure cooker.  To make this dish low carb, instead of rice, I used finely chopped cauliflower roasted with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce.  My husband loved it.

Chicken with a Thai Peanut Sauce
Serves 4-6

1 – 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (or canola)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (about 8)
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
Fresh chopped cilantro for Garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium high heat. Brown chicken in batches. Place browned chicken aside on plate. Drain liquid or oil, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind.

Add broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, ginger, and Sriracha Sauce to pressure cooker. Whisk together until well combined. Return Chicken to pressure cooker. Cook chicken for 9 minutes at high pressure. It will take about 10 minutes for your pressure cooker to reach high pressure. After 9 minutes at high pressure, remove pressure cooker from heat. After pressure has fallen significantly, use the quick pressure release. Please consult your pressure cooker instructions, if you have any concerns or questions. Each cooker is different.

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Once the pressure is released, open the pressure cooker carefully (lid facing away from you!) and remove chicken to a plate and cover. Whisk cornstarch mixture into the peanut sauce. Bring sauce to a slight boil. Return chicken to pot to coat with sauce and serve over rice or cauliflower “rice”.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can find a slow cooker version of this recipe here.

Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”

http://dawnoffood.com

I miss pasta. I really, really, really do.   Really, really good mac and cheese that is homemade is so luscious, rich, thick and, well, sinful.

Does this recipe replicate it? Eh. It’s rich and it’s creamy. But is cauliflower ever going to be confused with quality pasta? No. On the other hand, there’s no bloat from carb overloading and no out of control blood sugar responses. All things considered, this is an amazing vegetable side dish!! You’ve got a ton of cauliflower in a form that people will eat. Two pounds of frozen cauliflower barely escapes a dinner with four diners. Crazy for cauliflower. Honestly, we love this dish. I make this all the time. It’s quick, the ingredients are available year ’round, and even the kids eat it!

Also, it uses up some random items that I always have laying around: shredded cheese and sour cream. Taco night never seems to use all these items up.

Some caveats about this recipe. I make real mac and cheese and feel that this recipe should be no different. Take your low fat cheese, your Greek yogurt, your low fat yogurt, chicken stock and whatever other “lighteners” you have and don’t put them in here. You have already subbed out the pasta. Live a little and splurge.  Seriously.

Also, keep in mind that the sauce is covering two pounds of cauliflower. Cauliflower is very, very wet. Especially when baked. It’s the opposite of pasta, instead of absorbing sauce, the cauliflower will be adding water to the sauce.  So, this sauce will be very thick and rather over spiced. If you were to try a bit of the sauce, you would immediately think: too much salt, the woman is crazy. Oh, wait, the cayenne just hit!! Now it’s too spicy. And too thick. Don’t think those things until you’ve baked the whole concoction. If you cut back on the spices, your dish will be incredibly bland. If you waiver on the sauce and think it needs to be a touch thinner, it will won’t be thick and creamy at finish. It’s a delicate balance that will only reveal its perfection at the very end.

Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese
Serves 6

2 pounds frozen cauliflower florets
1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 mustard powder
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese, plus additional for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish and set aside.

Place the cauliflower and water in a saucepan and cook the cauliflower until it’s not frozen anymore. You don’t want the cauliflower to be too soft because it is being cooked again in the oven. Thoroughly drain the water out of the pan.

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir for about 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until really thick. Add the salt, cayenne, and mustard powder. Stir until well incorporated, and remove from heat. Add the sour cream and stir well. Add the cheese and stir until melted through.

I suppose at this point, I should tell you to pour the sauce over the cauliflower and stir well. It’s bad enough to clean the sauce out of the small pan, why make more work and have to clean it out of the cauliflower pan too? So, I put the cauliflower in the greased baking dish and pour the sauce over the cauliflower there. I then stir the mixture together until well blended and add cheese for the topping.

Cook until bubbling and the cheese is melted and just starting to brown.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cheesy Cauliflower Patties

http://dawnoffood.com

The low carb craze has made superstars out of some vegetables that at best were used to torture children in a previous life.  Kale.  Seriously.  Kale.  The only way kale is good is when it is cooked for a very long time in a ham hock gravy or in Kale and Andouille Soup.  There, I said it.  Kale becomes tolerable when cooked within an inch of its life and paired with a smoked pork product.

The next vegetable up for abuse is the poor man’s broccoli, cauliflower.  Cauliflower is tolerable when you add a signficant amount of dairy products to the mix.  I’ve made cauliflower puree, which can double as a quasi mashed potato substitute.   Cheesy cauliflower patties are now starting to trend, which would be the logical progression.  When I was a kid, my mom would make potato pancakes out of left over mashed potatoes.  After fending off dinosaur attacks, of course.  So, why not try to make fried patties out of cauliflower?  Well, cauliflower has no starch.  It also contains a lot of water.  You need a lot of help to make these suckers stick together.  This “help” likely defeats the purpose of choosing cauliflower, because it either adds carbs or gluten.  On the plus side, it’s probably far more healthy than what you were going to eat, even with the add-ins.

I saw purple cauliflower in the store and thought that maybe such a cool color would inspire the kids to give the dish a try.  My daughter did try it and didn’t really like it. Son and husband really liked it, as long as I didn’t try to say it was something that it wasn’t.  In other words, these were very good cheesy cauliflower patties.

As you can see above, I subbed the patties out for English muffins in Eggs Benedict.  These were really good.  A savory, cheesy bottom that you didn’t have to fight with, complimented the poached egg and Canadian bacon really well.  As a bonus, no need for asparagus, there was already plenty of veg on the plate!

The other time I used it, it was a vegetable for dinner.

 

http://dawnoffood.com

The patty served as a very nice compliment for my steak dish! I liked it and would make it again.  Definitely a different take and something to shake up the veggie routine in our house.  As a bonus, very easy to make!

Cheesy Cauliflower Patties
Makes about 6-8 Patties

6 cups roasted cauliflower florets (approximately)
1/2 cup easily meltable cheese (I used Monterrey Jack)
1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Place all ingredients, except the butter, into food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower is coarsely ground. Remove mixture from processor and form into patties. The smaller and thinner the patties, the more likely they are to maintain their shape.

In a heavy bottomed skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter just starts to foam, add the patties, careful not to crowd. When the patties are browned, carefully flip and cook until the other side is browned as well. About 3 minutes each side. Serve as desired.

Note:  I roasted the florets at 375 degrees fahrenheit in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper for about 25 minutes, turning once.

http://dawnoffood.com

http://dawnoffood.com

http://dawnoffood.com

 

 

Lamb Shanks

http://dawnoffood.com

At some point during the 1990s, lamb shanks were “it”.  Long simmered with a dark, rich sauce and usually served with white beans.  The dish was everywhere.  Until it wasn’t.  Going through lots of cookbooks from the 1800s and 1900s, I don’t really find this dish until around the 1990s.  Not that it couldn’t have existed, but it wasn’t really wide spread.

The most popular cuts of lamb are “leg” and “chop”.  I am rather partial to the “shoulder” as well, but that’s fairly hard to come by in the regular grocery store.  Chops are crazy expensive, so I usually don’t buy them and truly hate when they are listed on a menu as “lollipop”.  Ugh.  Just no.  The leg is very nice and I cook with this often.  Today, however, I focus on the “shank”.

The shank is part of the animal’s lower leg.    As a result, it does a lot of work making the meat very, very tough.  There are a variety of ways to tackle toughness.  Long, low braising and pressure cooking.  This recipe is adaptable to both.  What I love about this recipe is that there is very little active time.  Most of the time you are hanging out waiting for either heat or pressure to do its thing.  Homework, bill paying and all the rest can be done, which is great for this working mom.  Lamb shanks can be on the table in less than an hour with the pressure cooker, or if I get home early, I can start dinner then set about doing my other mom duties.

As a bonus, lamb shanks also give the impression that someone with extreme culinary skills made the dish, when truly, they are not required.  You can’t really overcook this meat and it’s a very low maintenance recipe.

Lamb Shanks
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ½ hours in conventional oven, 35 minutes, pressure cooker

¼ cup lard, duck fat or bacon drippings (vegetable oil would be fine too)
4 lamb shanks
Salt and Pepper
1 onion, medium dice
3 stalks of celery, medium dice
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons rosemary
4- 5 medium carrots, peeled, large dice.
2 cups chicken broth (brown is preferred)
1 cup red wine (Cabernet -like)

Conventional Oven Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle the lamb shanks liberally with salt and pepper. Place heated oil and brown, about 2 minutes a side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add onions and celery to the dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft.  Scrape up any brown bits left over from the meat browning when the onions start to let off some liquid. Add mushrooms, thyme, rosemary and carrots. Cook until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid. Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out. Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 90-120 minutes, until tender.

Pressure Cooker Instructions:

Please follow your pressure cooker instructions for using your pressure cooker.

As above, heat the cooking fat in the pressure cooker, salt and pepper the shanks and brown them for about 2 minutes on each side.  Add onions and celery to the dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft. Add mushrooms, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid.

Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out. Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Make sure the shanks are at the appropriate height level for your pressure cooker. Add the lid to your pressure cooker and cook the shanks on high pressure for 25 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and allow to cool down. When safe, remove the lid, add the carrots and return to the heat for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to cool down again. When safe, remove the lid and serve.

http://dawnoffood.com

Wild Goose

Wild Goose

My husband has taken up waterfowl hunting, and he loves it.  He brings home at least one goose every time ventures out.  Unlike the geese in the grocery store, these come in slightly battered and scarred by shot.  Also, unlike farmed geese, these are “working geese”.  These aren’t farm animals standing around all day.  These are flying geese!   As a result, the meat tends to be a bit tough and there’s no awesome leftover goose fat.   His hunting buddies relayed to him that the goose legs and thighs were inedible and most of them just use the breast meat.  I determined that this was a personal challenge to me to see if I could make them edible.

About the same time, my wonderful friend Pam gave me a pressure cooker.  There are many kitchen appliances I have used, but a pressure cooker just isn’t one of them.  They’ve always intrigued me.  It’s the opposite of a slow cooker, but with the same result!  You want tender pot roast in an hour?  The pressure cooker is your device.  The price, however, is this slight, remote chance that there could be an explosion if something goes wrong with the cooker.   Besides burns and cuts, we can add explosions to the dangers of cooking!!

So, I thought this my fortuitous acquisition of a pressure cooker at the same time my husband started to come home with these tough little birds couldn’t be a coincidence.

A few years ago, I made a goose recipe from Epicurious.com with Armagnac and Prunes and it was amazing. I know, I know. Prunes. I get it.   But, the pressure cooker dissolves these suckers into nothing and they leave behind a slightly sweet and distinct taste. Really. It is good. No one will know you put prunes in this dish, they will just know it’s awesome. As mentioned above, this goose was too tough to roast outright, so I just could draw flavor inspiration from that recipe for this one.  The prunes and red wine were an amazing combination with the rich goose meat, so I used that part of the recipe to create this one.

The pressure cooker wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  I didn’t fill it up too high, made sure the steam was escaping and didn’t let the pressure get too high and we got this amazing goose dish!  The thighs and legs were completely tender, as was the breast.  Mission accomplished!!!  So, if you are faced with game meat, I would seriously consider a pressure cooker to make game meat tender and amazing!  This recipe was incredibly easy to execute!

As a disclaimer, please follow your own pressure cooker instructions to ensure the safe cooking of this dish.

Goose in Red Wine and Prunes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes

¼ cup duck or goose fat, or vegetable oil or clarified butter
1 onion, medium dice
1 cup of diced celery
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8-10 prunes, sliced in half
1 cup full bodied red wine
1 cup water or chicken broth
1 Wild Goose (5-6 pounds), skinned and quartered (2 breasts, 2 leg quarters)

Heat duck fat in pressure cooker over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent. Add salt, pepper, thyme and prunes. Sauté for a minute. Add wine and chicken broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a pressure cooker, the alcohol does not boil off. Obviously, we need to do that before beginning to pressure cook the goose. Add the goose parts, legs first, breasts on top. Add the lid of the pressure cooker and, following your pressure cooker’s instructions, bring the pressure cooker to high pressure for 60 minutes. For my cooker, I need to lower the temperature to medium low to maintain a safe pressure level after the ideal pressure level is reached. At the end of the 60 minutes, remove from the heat and allow pressure cooker to cool until the lid can be safely removed.

Wild Goose

Hunted by my husband, butchered and skinned by me. Very primal.

Wild Goose