Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hoisin Sauce

One of the hardest parts of trying to cook Asian food in this diet is that many of the recipes call for some pretty esoteric sauces for flavor. The good thing is that living in a place like Madison there are enough Asian markets that it's pretty easy to find any sauce you could ever dream of. Sadly almost all of them involve a lot of sugar. Things like plum and hoisin sauce have high fructose corn syrup and sugar in the top three ingredients. That just won't do. But I wasn't willing to give up stir fries.

The fella found a decent recipe for homemade hoisin sauce online that we've used a couple times. Yesterday I took that overpoweringly sweet sauce and added some vinegar and upped the hot sauce to make a sauce I like better. Now I have a container of it in the condiments of the fridge to use next time the urge to stir fry comes over me. It was as easy as measuring out the ingredients and I have a delicious sauce that I know what went into. No mystery ingrediants or the dreaded "natural flavors" that pops up on so many labels.

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 teasp00ns sesame oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
3 teaspoons hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
a dash of pepper

Whisk together thoroughly or place in tupperware container with tight seal and shake well. Will keep in refrigerator for about 2 weeks.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Aduki Burgers

This is a simple but interesting meal full of protein and sure to fill you up without having to do something as silly as turn on the oven during these increasingly warm evenings. You know me by now though, any excuse to sneak curry powder into something and I'm all over it. The spices and cilantro do make this a nice twist on the same ole tired bean burger. Through in some spinach, tomatoes and whatever sauce strikes you at the moment and you've got a flavorful dinner.

Aside from banishing the forbidden pita pocket all I did to change up this recipe was to substitute in almond flour for the original whole wheat. The problem this caused was slightly too gooey to brown patties. You can fix this with more almond flour or more oil to cook it in to make sure they don't stick to the pan. Either way works but the more flour method leads to drier crumbly patties.

I browned up some cauliflower and fennel to serve on the side and had a quick satisfying meal.

Aduki Burgers

2 15-ounce cans aduki beans (or light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup fine ground almond flour
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons oil

Accompaniments: sliced tomato, baby arugula (or other greens of your choice), chutney

Place the drained. Rinsed beans in a large bowl and roughly mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the curry powder, cumin, coriander, flour, cilantro, and egg. Shape mixture into small round patties.

Heat oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add half of the patties to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the pan, drain on paper towel and halve each patty. Repeat with more oil if needed and remaining patties.

Serve with sliced tomato, arugula, and store-bought chutney for a filling salad.

Original recipe from Enlightened Cooking blog.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crockpot Asian Peanut Pork

This crockpot pork goodness is highly addictive. Then again what's not to love about dinner that makes itself, is fall apart tender and involves peanut butter. Did I mention there is peanut butter? That's really the most important part of this whole recipe. Saute some veggies to serve this over to take the place of the carb unfriendly rice and you have got yourself a nice treat for dinner.

Next time I would probably prop the pork up on the meat tray for the crockpot to keep it from stewing in its own fat so much. It was a bit greasy but I guess I was expecting that from pork so I wasn't too troubled about it. Other than that the sauce is a highly edible drug. It's simple but perfect.

We opened a bottle of Saint Gabriel's Gewürztraminer with this, a bottle we bought specifically because Gabriel is the patron saint of the fella's congregation within the Apostolic Johannite Church (yeah I live with a priest, I probably haven't mentioned that yet.) It was decent but definitely in your face with the sugar and not a whole lot else. There was some citrus and a wee bit of cinnamon that made it work with the spicy pork. We were rather pleased with the whole meal even though the wine didn't live up to what we hoped for.

The best part of this meal is it is the gift that keeps giving. I'm looking forward to my second day of munching on the left overs for lunch tomorrow. That's saying a lot seeing as a have a strict policy about not wanting to eat something more than two days in a row. Of course you could put peanut butter on pretty much anything and I would look forward to eating it. This may not apply to Brussels sprouts but I'd be willing to give it a try.

Crockpot Asian Peanut Pork

2 lbs pork tenderloin or roast
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fructose
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Asian hot chili sauce (if you can't find one that's sweetener free Tabasco works fine)
1/2 cup peanut butter

1 tablespoon oil
1 red pepper, cored and sliced
1 yellow pepper, cored and sliced
2 cups green beans

Place pork in crockpot. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, water, rice wine vinegar, hot chili sauce and peanut butter. Set on low, cover and cook for 6-8 hours.

Just before serving, in a large frying pan sauté peppers and green beans over medium high heat in the oil until tender. Stir peanut sauce until smooth and shred pork roast with a fork. Serve the pork over the vegetables.

Original recipe from Deborah's Culinary Confections blog.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Red Kidney Bean Curry (Rajmah)

Another recipe for an Indian dish. Who's surprised? No one would be my guess since I came out as a curry lover who isn't even going to pretend by cooking many snotty French recipes anymore.

It's been a long week and this is the first night I've been home to cook since Monday so in my overly tired state I don't have much to say. Just that this is one of my favorite dishes to order when we go out so I was thrilled to find a recipe for it that emulated the dish rather well at home. The added bonus is it's super simple. Cut up a few veggies, hunt down some spices, get your amazing boyfriend to plan ahead and crockpot a huge bunch of beans over the weekend and you're all set. This took about 20 minutes to make, it is filling and flavorful and made me especially happy to be eating at home for the first time in a while.

With this we drank a random bottle of Rioja called Faustino VII the fella picked up on his last wine run. This was totally something he bought just for the bottle which in this case was not a bad thing. It's not brilliant enough to sell your sell your soul for but it was a nice light bodied Spanish wine. I like the huge super spicy Spanish red a lot but this was a decent digression from those monster wines. It definitely went nicely with the curry.

As with most recipes I upped the spices significantly from the original version. So you might want to halve the ginger and chili pepper portions if you're not into that sort of thing.

Red Kidney Bean Curry (Rajmah)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger (I grated a medium sized knob and called it good enough)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large green chili, chopped
8 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

3 cups boiled red kidney beans and one cup water or 30 ounces canned red kidney beans, undrained
1 plum tomato, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a deep sauce pan over medium heat for one minute. Add ginger, garlic, onion, green chili, and let sizzle for one minute.

Add the tomato sauce and spices and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the kidney beans and tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and let cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve over brown rice. A dollop of plain yogurt on top added extra flavor.

Original recipe from Smitten Kitchen Blog.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Toor Dal Palak (Toor Dal & Spinach)

I'm not going to try to deny it anymore; French food just isn't my favorite. There I said it. The sauces gross me out. Terrines give me nightmares. And I don't have the time after work for the complicated recipes. So as of this moment I'm embracing the fact that I'm on a French diet and eating from every other possible ethnicity but French. Perhaps I'll go on a crazy French food kick while the fella is out of town. Get some people who dig aspics and internal organs over to help me cook things I'm afraid of and see what I'm missing. But this week's menu doesn't have a single French recipe, not even anything close. I'm okay with that. I'm a curry addict and can't help it, I refuse to change.

Finding Lisa's Kitchen has only fueled the curry and lentil eating frenzy in my kitchen. I want to cook everything on this site. It's my new go to for high fiber low fat meal nights. Everything we've made from this site so far has been a keeper. This lentil and spinach dish was no exception, it was spicy and filling and flavorful. Best of all it requires obtaining a strange spice in order to prepare it.

This was my first time using asafoetida and it was quite the experience. The fella wasn't big on seeking it out remembering that the one time he tried it the stuff reeked of feet. When I saw it in the bulk spice jars at Whole Foods I decided it was a sign to go ahead an buy some. Then I opened the jar. Holy crap. Literally. It did smell like feet, combined with the worst turned bottle of wine ever opened and a vague sniff of incense from a Catholic mass. It's powerful stuff. If you buy it I suggest you put in some tupperware and store it in the garage because I now have a very smelly spice drawer.

You've got to fight through the smell though because once it's cooked up its worth the yucky scent. Somehow it rounds out all the other spices and adds a delicious depth to the flavor of the dish. It's hard to describe but now that I've tasted it I will do what it takes to keep this smelly monster around to cook with more in the future.

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of this glorious creation. So instead I leave you with a picture of me embracing my new favorite bottle of wine. I was riding a Riesling high so don't judge me too hard. This is what I do for you so as not to go two days in a row blogging picture-less.

Toor Dal Palak

2/3 cup toor dal (or whatever color lentils you have around)
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 pound spinach, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon ghee or a mix of butter and olive oil
1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 dried whole red chilies
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Thoroughly rinse the toor dal under running water. Place in a medium saucepan and soak for 2-3 hours in 2 cups of water (skip this step if using lentils.) Add the turmeric and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, partially covered, until the dal is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, replace the lid to partially covered, and continue to cook until the spinach is cooked and most of the liquid is gone. Turn off the heat and let the dal and spinach sit.

Heat the ghee or butter and olive oil mixture over medium heat in a frying pan. Toss in the chilies and ginger and fry, stirring frequently, until the ginger just begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, then add the asafoetida, stir once, and pour the seasonings into the dal and spinach. Stir in the lemon juice and salt.

Serve over brown rice.

Original recipe from Lisa's Kitchen Blog.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

In case you thought I was kidding when I keep saying everything has sugar in it here's another thing to add to the list: chipotles in adobo sauce. They're a standard ingredient in our kitchen especially to add a nice kick to Tuesday crockpot meals. However after a month of searching we couldn't find a single grocery store can of them that wasn't full of brown sugar not even at Whole Foods. Not willing to live without them and not liking any of the smoky pepper sauce alternatives we tried the fella searched out a recipe. Gotta love him.

So on Sunday when I was out drinking beer with another man he stayed home and made adobo sauce. I came home and the house smelled like a smoky spicy heaven. Apparently it was one of the easiest things ever to make as it's a toss it in the pan and forget it for hours type thing. And the final product was better than any canned adobo we've ever had. The fella tossed them in the crockpot chili he made today and my lips are still burning hours later.

Take that sugar we've once again found a way around you. Next stop: bacon.

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

10-whole chipotle peppers
1/3 cup onion, diced
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 tablespoons sugar free ketchup (found in the organic aisle)
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.

Cook over a very low heat for 1 to 2 hours until the chilies are very soft and the liquid has been reduced to about 1-cup. Put in blender and process for a thicker sauce.

Will keep for a week in an air tight container when refrigerated.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Purple Velvet Flourless Torte

This beautiful creation was Will's contribution to dinner.
I sent him a variety of dessert recipes to give him some idea of what would work for our diet not knowing which one he would pick. It shouldn't have surprised me he would decide to make the strangest of all of them. Secretly I think he just wanted an excuse to take gory pictures of beet carnage (not only does he bake and make silly faces well, he's also a really talented photographer who's site you should be looking at right now.)

Not that I'm complaining. It was glorious. I'm still not quite sure how something that is mostly beets, agave nectar and chocolate can become the best torte ever. Absolutely no flour of any kind and it was a beautiful creamy chocolate cake consistency. It's magic! Best of all it doesn't taste at all of beets. It's vegetables and dessert, what's not to love about that?

Sadly after eating this I looked up the GI of beets which at 65 when cooked isn't quite legal for the weight loss part of this diet. However it was so amazing I didn't care. It was worth it. It goes to show that you can be on this diet for months and still not have a handle on exactly what you can and cannot eat. It's a fit frustrating to think you've got all the rules straight then you learn you've been eating something that isn't allowed on the diet.

So I'm getting ahead of myself posting this recipe but it's too good to keep to myself. It gets me something to look forward to when we make it to the next step.

Other recipes from the Riesling Feast:
Almond Soup
Sara's Braised Leeks
Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel
Riesling Chicken

Purple Velvet Flourless Torte

2 1/2 cups grated beets
1 cup agave nectar
4 eggs
1/2 cup flavorless oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

In a medium saucepan, heat the beets and agave to a boil, then cover. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until beets are soft.

Transfer beet-agave mixture to a blender and puree on highest speed until smooth. Blend in eggs, oil, vanilla, almond extract, cocoa and salt until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour batter into a well greased 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool and serve.

Original recipe from Elana's Pantry blog.

Riesling Chicken

The idea for this meal came out of knowing our friend Iris likes Rieslings and I love an excuse to buy a wine I don't usually drink much of, she would be happy and we'd all get to drink. Everyone wins. At about the same time I invited her and her fella Will over for a meal I stumbled across a recipe in the French cookbook of scary pictures for something called Riesling Chicken. It sounded good and since it had the name of the wine I wanted to serve in the title of the recipe it would save me a lot of trouble trying to figure out a main dish that went with the wine.

For something with Riesling in the name I was a little disappointed in how little Riesling flavor was actually in this dish however. It wasn't that it was a bad recipe it was just a little blah. Ultimately it's baked chicken with a cream mushroom sauce which was fine, everyone liked it just fine. It would probably be improved a bit if I had cooked with bone in chicken pieces rather than breasts which I used to save all of us the trouble of trying to politely de-bone greasy bits of chicken.

Problem is I had obsessively shopped for the perfect Rieslings the week before cooking this. I ended up buying three different bottles trying to find a semi dry Riesling that wasn't expensive. That's more difficult that one might imagine. The dry Rieslings were plentiful but started at the $30 range. I like my friends but knew we'd rather have a couple decent bottles I knew nothing about in order to try them out than nursing one snobby bottle we might not even like. So I decided to trust the advice of San Fransisco Chronicle in their article about $10 Rieslings that weren't sugar monsters. I bought the Relax and the Mosel River Rieslings that they suggested and the Bex Riesling that I remember liking from a tasting.

The fella and I opened them all to see which one was dry enough to cook with and not overwhelm the chicken and leeks, both of required wine to cook in. They were all pretty sweet so I used a little of each in the food and hoped for the best, figuring the chicken wouldn't care if I mixed wines. While dinner finished up we drank the Mosel River and moved onto the Bex as we ate. Both are from the Urzig region and so where pretty similar. The Mosel River being slightly sweeter with a heavy pear syrup flavor and a slight effervescence. Where as the Bex had a tartness that made my mouth water while still being Riesling sweet. Both were easy to drink and would be perfect for summer drinking. There was a nice limestone minerality to them that added a bit of character to the fruit.

The Relax was a bit of a shock after the other two wines. It was tight in a way only red wines usually are. I don't usually open a bottle of white and think about it needing to get a bit of air before drinking but this was apparently the exception. It was sweet but it held back it's sweetness until the finish. This would be a great Riesling for someone who likes sweet but doesn't like the cloying fruitiness of many white wines. They were all great choices for the meal, they didn't overwhelm the chicken or roasted vegetables. All in all I was happy with all the wines. And we were all pretty happy with dinner. Or at least everyone made enough believable yummy noises that I assumed they were pleased.

We finished off the evening with a puppy walk and a silly card game that got even more silly when I opened a bottle of red. It's no secret that I'm in love with Cline wines but their Moudevre is out of this world. Light bodied with very little tannin. It was as if the perfect California coast Pinot Noir and a fruit bomb Zinfindel had a super smooth love child. This is one of those times where the wine was so good I have no words for it.

My new food fantasy is to disappear for a day with a bottle of Cline Moudevre and a beet torte. I've found my new favorite wine. Sorry Conquista Malbec you've been replaced.

Other recipes from the Riesling Feast:
Almond Soup
Sara's Braised Leeks
Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel
Beet Torte

Riesling Chicken

4 pounds whole chicken or chicken parts
2 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped finely
1/2 cup Riesling
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325.

Cut chicken into servings size pieces or purchase pre-cut pieces of legs, thighs, and breasts (this works just fine with all chicken breasts but will end up on the dry side.) Rub chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

In a large oven safe skillet over medium heat, warm the oil and butter. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides, adding more oil if needed. Add mushroom and onion to pan, cover and place in oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through.

While the chicken bakes, in a small pan cook shallots in a small amount of oil, about 2 minutes until tender but not browned. Add wine and simmer until reduced to half. Stir in cream and cook without boiling until sauce thickens. Pour over chicken when serving.

Original recipe from Modern French Culinary Art.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel

With spring came an unnaturally strong desire to add fennel to everything. We've been buying super sized bulbs of fennel each time we go to the grocery store and following that urge where it takes us. It was only natural to add it to the cauliflower I was making with this meal to add some semblance of starch to a Montignac feast with people who aren't doing our diet.

This was everything I was hoping for. I love cauliflower, fennel and garlic. Roasted and tossed together it was a nice rather simple side dish. Pre-sauting all the veggies was kind of a pain but it did make sure that the texture of everything was perfect and cut down in the time in the oven. I braised leeks in the same pan and slid both dishes in the oven at the same time to took together so it all worked out in a nice rhythm.

Next time I'm in the mood for this I plan on trying to make a faux mashed potato with cauliflower and fennel. I've read about this combination as a low carb potato substitute but my Google-fu was unable to come up with an actual recipe. Seems like removing the herbs from the cooking sheet and tossing it all in the food processor with a dab of butter would be dreamy.

Other recipes from the Riesling Feast:
Almond Soup
Sara's Braised Leeks
Riesling Chicken
Beet Torte

Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel

1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
6 tablespoons oil, divided use
1 onion, halved and cut into 3/ 4 inch wide wedges
2 fennel bulbs, halves and cut into 1/ 2 inch wide wedges
8 small garlic cloves, crushed but unpeeled
15 sprigs fresh marjoram

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss cauliflower and 2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Heat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer cauliflower to rimmed baking sheet.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to the same skillet. Add onion wedges and cook until browned on 1 side, about 3 minutes. Using spatula, transfer onions to baking sheet with cauliflower, arranging wedges browned side up.

Add last 2 tablespoons oil to same skillet. Add fennel; sauté until fennel softens slightly and starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to same baking sheet.

Scatter garlic and marjoram over vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are caramelized, about 25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Original recipe from Recipezaar.

Soupe Aux Amandes (Almond Soup)

Last weekend the fella and I had a couple of friends over for a ridiculous French dinner. Apparently it was such a good meal that we may have tempted them over to what they called our wine and cream diet. If anyone I know could handle the rigorous nature of this diet it's them, they're foodies who don't mind making things from scratch and like to experiment with new things. Hopefully we reeled them in, it would be nice to have some one else to talk about living in a world without bread and as the fella and I have learned this crazy diet does work.

This soup may have blown their minds a tiny bit. It's basically almonds, eggs and heavy cream cooked in a fussy way. It doesn't seem like it could be legal on any diet not even a strange French one. But alas it is and it was pretty tasty. It was tasty even though I screwed it up a little bit.

Having dipped into the cooking wine before dinner—purely for the purposes of testing which one was driest of course—I apparently was unable to read the recipe correctly. Admittedly the original recipe is poorly written so in this case I'm not taking all the blame. I missed the tiny side note near chicken stock in the ingredient list that calls for it to be warmed and waiting before starting to cook anything else. Of course, that's pretty important why wouldn't you make “warm the broth” the first step in the recipe? That would be too easy.

Neglecting this step was probably what caused the almond mixture to settle to the bottom of my soup. In my retyping out of the recipe I made the directions more clear so that no one else has to make the same mistake. Not that we noticed, the soup was still lovely the way it was. Very subtle and rich. The cream and nuts made it a heavy soup but the flavors were very soft. It went nicely with the Riesling I served with dinner. The sweet wine makes you salivate slightly and the cream satisfies your open taste buds. It was quite the experience.

Other recipes from the Riesling Feast:
Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel
Sara's Braised Leeks
Riesling Chicken
Beet Torte

Soupe Aux Amandes

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
6 ounces almonds, shelled and peeled
3 hardboiled eggs, yolks only
3 cups heavy cream
2 egg yolks
slivered almonds

In a large sauce pan put the broth over low heat to warm through as you prepare the other ingredients.

Put the almonds and the yolks of the hard boiled eggs in a food processor and process until you have a smooth paste.

In a pot combine the almond mixture and 1 1/2 cups of the cream. Slowly add the heated broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a large pot, not over heat, whisk together the raw egg yolks and the remaining 1 1/2 cups heavy cream. When the almond and cream mixture has cooked pour it slowly into the pot with the egg yolk mixture, and whisk while over medium heat for about 2 minutes. DO NOT BOIL.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve when soup is just heated through. Top with slivered almonds.

Original recipe from The Lutece Cookbook.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Low Glycemic Ice Cream

I've been a neglectful blogger, too busy wining and dining friends and just plain drinking wine to find time to post. Tonight I discovered something while shopping that I'm too excited not to share immediately. Low glycemic index coconut milk ice cream!

Three months with no ice cream is no way to live. So when I saw this peaking out of freezer case among all the other crazy and expensive frozen treats at Whole Foods I knew even at $5.99 a pint it was coming home with me. I clutched it to my chest and ran to the fella where he was peacefully shopping for vitamins and panted something about “” Once I got out the words “sugar free” he gladly tossed in our basket, still looking at me like a crazy person hyperventilating over ice cream.

This was worth every penny. It was the best ice cream I've ever had which is odd considering there is nothing traditionally ice creamy about it aside from being cold. It's dairy free combination of coconut milk and hazelnuts which made is super creamy and sinful. It's sweetened with agave nectar. And its loaded with chocolate and hazelnut chunks. It is delightful. If the fella hadn't been watching there would have been little to keep me from eating the whole pint in one sitting.

Sometimes this diet and its restrictions gets me down. There are a number of days I just want to say screw it and go drown myself in a huge baguette slathered in mayo and deli meat. It would be so easy. No more complicated menus or being picky in restaurants or explaining why I can't eat such and such a thing for the millionth time. Then out of the blue I stumble upon something like this ice cream and the blind excitement of that discovery that makes it worth it. The successes are worth the work. Oh yeah and the living longer and going down two sizes isn't too bad either.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Flourless Pizza Crust

The fella has been missing pizza just a teeny bit.

It used to be his Tuesday night ritual to buy the cheapest most unspeakable frozen pizza to eat while doing the geeky things he does on Tuesdays with his friends while I work. Apparently it's called gaming or something. Everyone has their flaws so I try to pretend this one doesn't exist by refusing to understand it.

Some people juggle geese. Some people sit around pretending to be demons and necromancers while playing with tiny painted figures. Some people decide to cook highly complicated meals 7 days a week and then freak out at random intervals about it being too difficult. If the person is worth it you grin and bear their silly hobbies and soldier on. Really I'm more concerned about his ability to have eaten those cardboard pizzas for so long.

After several months of being unable to slather gluttony rounds of dough with mounds of cheese he's been getting punchy. We drive by pizza places and he starts to drool. At night he would mumble the name of his lost mistress, pizza. Any mention of the word would cause him to go wide in the eyes and tap his veins begging for a fix.

Okay so it wasn't quite that bad. There were times that he looked at me however and I couldn't tell whether he was imaging that I was a pizza he was about to eat or if he was wondering how he could back out of this diet before losing his cheese loving mind. It was time to find a way to make this man a pizza.

Enter almond flour and all the wonderful things that can be made out of it. We've been on a bit of a kick with it lately, satisfying cravings all over the place by using it. So it was only natural that about this time I stumbled upon a nut flour pizza crust recipe. And lo the heavens opened and the fella said “woo flipping hoo” when I sent him the link letting him know pizza was imminent.

When the faithful night of pizza making arrived we were both bouncing with excitement. Then we started making the crust mixture and got a bit concerned. It was really runny and didn't look like any crust I'd ever made before. It didn't seem like it was thick enough to not run all over the pan. And how was this wet mess going to solidify enough to put toppings on it in just 5 minutes of baking? We were seconds away from thawing something from the freezer as we watched the crust do a whole lot of nothing in the oven.

Miraculously I pulled it from the oven and it was a nice firm crust like texture. We let it cool to firm up a bit more and started throwing toppings on it. It withstood being covered in sauce and veggies so things were looking good. I pre-sauted the vegetables assuming the vegetables wouldn't have enough time to cook on such a delicate crust and was right. Unless you like raw veggies on your pizza, cook them to your preferred level of doneness before this goes back in for round two. Topped with some sundried tomatoes and Havarti and we were drooling as hard as the dog does while we cook.

This was fabulous! It looked and smelled and had the texture of pizza. It doesn't taste like the real thing exactly but its a great fake out. The only problem is you really need to oil whatever surface you're baking this on or it will never let go of the pan. We spent a lot of time dislodging our pizza before being able to eat it.

I'm sure this will become a regular fixture on our menus. That sound you hear is the fella sighing with relief. His favorite food is a possibility again.

Flourless Pizza Crust

3 eggs
3 tablespoons yogurt
1 tablespoon oil
1/ 2 teaspoon baking soda
1/ 2 salt
6 ounces ground almonds
1 teaspoon vinegar

Preheat the oven to 360. Line a round pizza pan with baking parchment, make on a silcone tray or oil your pan VERY well. This crust will stick like crazy.

Whisk the first five ingredients together in a bowl until frothy and starting to thicken slightly.

Beat in the ground nuts and vinegar and spread onto the baking parchment in an even, thin layer. It will be like thick batter, not a sticky dough. It doesn't look anything like pizza crust at this point but don't worry.

Bake for 5 minutes until just firm but not colored. Leave crust to cool a little before spreading your chosen toppings on and re-baking until the edge of the pizza base is golden brown and the cheese melted. You'll want to pre-cook any vegetables you plan on putting on this pizza in order to soften them, they won't have much time to cook before the crust is ready to be removed from the oven.

Original recipe from Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried blog.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pear Crumble

I've been missing dessert something fierce while on this diet. Almost everything else I crave we've figured out a way to fake, and many things I used to lust after I just don't miss anymore. Not being able to bake however has been really disappointing. There are a lot of sweet things it's impossible to make without sugar or flour.

Fortunately there quite a few blogs out there written by people with similar diet restrictions that are finding ways of making really delicious desserts without either. I decided to start experimenting with something simple and summery. The original recipe called for peaches but it's not quite that time of year yet so pears made a nice substitute, they went well with the sweet almond crumble.

Somehow I managed to resist the urge to eat the whole pans of this yummy treat, in fact I've been nibbling on it for days and very happy about it.

Pear Crumble

6 pears, chopped in bite sized pieces
(original recipe called for 8 peaches which aren't in season yet)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water, approximately

6 oz ground almonds
2 lemons, zested
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 teaspoons agave nectar
4 teaspoons cold butter

Preheat the oven to 320.

Heat gently in a saucepan with a tablespoon of butter and enough water just to cover the bottom of the pan but not cover the fruit, I used about1/4 cup. You can always add more water if you want. Cook gently until the fruit is soft, but not too pulpy. There should be just enough juice around the fruit to make the crumble juicy, not swimming. Pile into a small baking dish and spread into an even layer.

Pour ground almonds into a mixing bowl with vanilla and lemon zest. Spoon in agave and butter, rub together gently with your fingertips until a damp crumble mixture forms. Spoon over the fruit and pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

Original recipe from Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried blog.