Friday, October 29, 2010

White chocolate (low carb, dairy free)

I made white chocolate! From scratch! Low-carb! Dairy-free! It! Was! Delicious!

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, sugar, powdered milk, and usually an emulsifier like soy lecithin. I've been sorely missing this stuff, but I wondered if I could perhaps make it myself, replacing the powdered milk (which is high carb) and sugar with something else.

Here's the catch: to make truly smooth chocolate of any kind, you need a wet grinder, typically a Santha, for refining the chocolate. Just one problem: the cheapest model costs $500. So I did not buy one. I made two batches, one where I just stirred the ingredients with a fork, and one with a blender. I preferred the texture of the chocolate made in the blender, but it is still not going to be perfectly smooth. I didn't mind too much, and it's particularly not noticeable if you use the white chocolate in baking (i.e. chopped up to make chocolate chips).

To make chocolate of any kind, you cannot add any water or liquid ingredients. This page shows the difference between chocolate without any water, and chocolate with just a single drop of water added. I went to the health food store and found packets of powdered coconut milk. The macronutrient content is mostly fat, and it only contains 1 gram of carbs per serving. Perfect! I do think that the final result was a bit too quick to melt, and I think it might be due to the high fat content of the coconut milk. I would like to try a combination of milk protein with a little bit of milk fat (clarified butter) to see if that produces a better result. As it is, I recommend freezing the chocolate before chopping it up and/or cooking with it.

I made two batches, one with Splenda and one with stevia. The stevia had the tiniest bit of that stevia "bite", but if you are used to it, it should not bother you. I always use Sweetleaf brand, which uses inulin as the carrier (all artificial sweeteners are diluted with a carrier of some sort). Inulin is just a type of soluble fiber, which also acts as an emulsifier so you can nix the soy lecithin granules. All of the other powdered stevia brands either use a corn starch or corn sugar like maltodextrin or dextrose, or they use sugar alcohols (way too gritty for white chocolate) so Sweetleaf it is. I did try adding lecithin but the granules did not break down in the blender so I think it is useless unless you have a Santha.

Lastly, be sure you are using top-quality food-grade cocoa butter. Much of the cocoa butter out there is intended for use in cosmetics or as a moisturizer. I used this stuff; deodorized versions are available as well but I think those are more intended for dark chocolates. For this you really want a good flavorful cocoa butter. Also, here's a nice article about the lipid composition of cocoa butter. According to Nutrition Data it is all fat, no carbs or protein.

You will also need a chocolate mold. I like this one; one batch as described below makes a single bar. Definitely splurge on the professional grade mold, trust me on this. I bought the hobbyist grade and it is a VERY flimsy plastic. Not worth it unless you plan to use it once and then throw it away.

So there you have it. I will probably continue trying to tweak this recipe, and I will post any updates/improvements. Please let me know if you try it!

WHITE CHOCOLATE
Makes about 4 oz

INGREDIENTS
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the sweetener, coconut milk powder, and salt (ideally sift them together to remove any grit). Set aside.
  2. Chop up the cocoa butter into small pieces so that it melts easily. Nuke it in the microwave until melted. I microwaved it for a minute at a time at 70% power, stirring after each minute. It will liquefy and get quite hot.
  3. Add the sweetener, powdered coconut milk, and salt and mix with a fork.
  4. Scrape the mixture into a blender and blend until very smooth.
  5. Pour the chocolate into your mold. Rap it on the counter to remove some of the air bubbles.
  6. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Buffalo chicken burgers


Ricotta cheese.

See, that's the secret to keeping turkey or chicken burgers moist. I read the suggestion in an old issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine and haven't looked back since. You won't know it's there when you're eating it, but it makes a huge difference. The raw meat mixture in this recipe is kind of sticky and soft and difficult to handle, but once everything is cooked it holds together. I served the patties over a baby spinach and radicchio salad, though some people have had luck with "oopsie rolls" as a low-carb hamburger bun.

BUFFALO CHICKEN BURGERS
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
  • About a pound of ground chicken (the pack I bought was 0.80 lbs or something)
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese (full-fat or Calabro brand fat-free, everything else is high carb)
  • 1 beaten egg (or 1/4 cup egg white or egg substitute)
  • 1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce (make sure that it's WING sauce, like this, and not just hot sauce) plus extra for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (regular or Spectrum light, which is reduced calorie but no added sugar)
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles, regular or reduced-fat
  • Shaved red onion (optional)
  • Salad greens for serving
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the ricotta, egg, and wing sauce in a large bowl. Add the raw chicken along with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Using wet hands, form into four patties.
  2. Cook over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes on each side, then turn down heat to low, partially cover, and cook until done throughout with no raw meat.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise and blue cheese. Set aside.
  4. Serve each patty over salad with the blue cheese sauce, extra wing sauce, and shaved red onion.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Biscuits and gravy



I just couldn't resist attempting a low-carb, low-calorie biscuits and gravy recipe. Mission? Accomplished.


There they are, pictured with some eggs over medium that I drizzled liberally with hot sauce.

If you're watching carbs but not calories, you could probably make this even better by using full-fat pork sausage and heavy cream. But, with this leaner version, I still didn't feel like I was missing out.

The biscuits are made out of coconut flour, which is low-carb and high-fiber, plus it's very absorbent so you don't need to use very much. Don't worry, it doesn't taste like coconut. I used egg whites instead of whole eggs because coconut flour pastries need lots of eggs to hold together, and by the time I add enough eggs, they're yellow and look like corn muffins rather than biscuits. In fact, these are very similar to my mock corn muffins, except I also whip an egg white and fold it in to lighten the texture and make a fluffier biscuit. You could drop them straight on a pan, but they spread quite a bit so I prefer a muffin tin. Alternately, you could make almond flour biscuits (higher calorie). Also, this makes more than enough gravy so you could definitely double the biscuit recipe if you'd like.

Oh, and while you're here, please vote in my poll in the sidebar on the right hand side, and let me know what kind of recipes you'd like to see.

LOW-CARB, LOW-CALORIE BISCUITS AND GRAVY
Serves 3, with leftover gravy

INGREDIENTS

For the biscuits:
  • 4 Tbs salted butter, melted (or use unsalted butter + 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 1 whole egg, separated
  • 3/4 cup liquid egg whites (NOT egg substitute, the color will be wrong)
  • 1 Tbs unsweetened original almond milk (or cream)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
For the gravy:
  • 1 lb bulk breakfast sausage; either turkey sausage, extra-lean pork, or regular pork (I used turkey sausage)
  • 4 oz reduced-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia brand is lower carb than the other reduced-fat brands)
  • 2 cups unsweetened original almond milk
  • Coconut flour (about 2 Tbs)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • Seasoned salt, to taste (storebought or homemade)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Whip the egg white from the separated egg to stiff peaks.
  3. Combine the egg whites, melted butter, egg yolk, and 1 Tbs almond milk or cream. Add the coconut flour and baking powder and mix gently. Fold in the egg white.
  4. Grease 6 cups of a muffin tin (I used Baker's Joy spray) and evenly distribute the batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until starting to brown.
  5. Meanwhile, brown the sausage over medium-high heat, crumbling it with a wooden spoon. Do not drain, just add coconut flour a tablespoon at a time and stir until it has soaked up all of the drippings.
  6. Reduce heat to medium, add the cream cheese. Kind of mash it against the bottom of the pan to melt it while combining it with the meat.
  7. Add the 2 cups of almond milk, stir, and bring to a simmer. Evenly sprinkle the xanthan gum over the top, using a tea ball or sieve to sift it out (this will prevent clumping). Stir well and add seasoned salt to taste. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.
  8. To serve, split the biscuits in half and spoon gravy over the top.
NUTRITIONAL INFO
1 biscuit: 119 calories, 9g fat, 2g net carbs (4g carbs + 2g fiber), 5g protein
1 serving gravy (enough to generously cover 1 biscuit): 101 calories, 7g fat, 1 net carb (2g carbs + 1g fiber), 8g protein

Crispy Korean-style hot wings


If you like spicy food but you've never had gochujang, I suggest you get to the nearest Korean market post-haste and pick up a tub. It's basically a type of miso paste made spicy with the addition of red pepper powder (ETA: oops, I was wrong, apparently it uses rice flour, not soybeans. Upon further reading, some brands also add wheat, so be sure to read the ingredients if you avoid gluten). It seemed only natural to give it a try on hot wings, instead of using Tabasco sauce. I always bake my wings instead of deep-frying, as I think the skin gets just as crispy in a hot oven. Deep frying isn't really necessary unless you bread the wings, which, to me, defeats the whole purpose. The whole point in eating wings is that they're encased in crispy chicken skin, why the need to stick on some kind of coating? Plus, it cuts back on the calories quite a bit.

I've made these before in a regular roasting pan, and they tend to sit in their own juices, thus taking longer and not getting as crispy. This time I used a broiler pan which allowed all the liquid to drain. I liked the results more, but not as much sauce adhered. This cuts back on the calories and carbs (there are some carbs in the gochujang due to the soybean paste) but my husband missed the extra sauce. So if you do it this way, I might double the sauce recipe, reduce about half of it in a small saucepan, and serve it on the side.

Additionally, when they serve fried chicken in Korea, the traditional accompaniment is spicy pickled radish. I usually buy some radish kimchi to serve on the side, but the market was out, so I just made a quick marinated cucumber salad with Korean red pepper powder.

CRISPY GOCHUJANG HOT WINGS
Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as an appetizer

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 Tbs gochujang, or to taste
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
  • 3 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
  • 1.5 Tbs rice vinegar (can substitute cider vinegar)
  • 1 Tbs dark sesame oil
  • 3 packets stevia (Sweetleaf brand) or Splenda or 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 lb chicken wings, tips removed and separated at the joint (I used a bag of thawed frozen drummettes)
  • Korean hot pickled radish or radish kimchi, for serving (optional)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cover a broiler pan with foil, and use a steak knife to cut slits through the foil and broiler pan (like this).
  3. Set the wings on the foil and bake for 30 minutes. Turn, then bake for 30 minutes more.
  4. Meanwhile, while wings are baking, combine the garlic, ginger, tamari or soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sweetener. Add the gochujang one tablespoon at a time, tasting with each addition, until it gets to your desired level of spiciness (3 Tbs is right for me).
  5. Brush the wings with the sauce (or pour the sauce over the wings and use a basting brush to spread it around). Bake for 15 minutes longer. If desired, run it under the broiler at the end for a couple minutes to get extra crispy.
  6. Serve with pickled radish on the side.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Flourless peanut butter cookies


Peanut butter cookies. No flour. No sugar. Three ingredients. You in?

These don't have quite the chewy texture that you'd get from cookies containing gluten, but they are soft, delicious, and so peanut-buttery. I used crunchy peanut butter which causes the cookies to crack when you shape them so they aren't as pretty. Creamy peanut butter gives you a smoother, nicer looking cookie, but I prefer the texture with the peanut chunks.

FLOURLESS PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
Makes about 12 cookies

INGREDIENTS
-1 cup peanut butter (use a brand that only has peanuts and salt as ingredients, NO sugar or hydrogenated oils)
-Sweetener of choice to equal 1 cup sugar
-1 egg, beaten

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, shape into balls, then make a cross-hatch with a large fork dipped in water. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Do NOT overbake! They will be falling apart when you take them out of the oven, but will set up after they cool.

Monday, October 11, 2010

General Tso's Chicken


I love authentic Chinese food. I grew up on Long Island, and every so often my dad would take me to Flushing, Queens and we'd order things like baked oysters with fermented black bean sauce, or we'd get a dim sum brunch which included chicken feet. However, that does not diminish my love for good fast-food Chinese takeout. This recipe is not designed to be authentic (the original Hunan recipe is hot and sour with no sugar). It's sweet, tangy, and salty; closer to what you'd find in a takeout box.

A couple months ago, I saw a recipe for a chicken marinade which used Diet 7-Up as an ingredient. This got me thinking -- deep breath now -- that diet orange soda would be perfect in a Chinese fast-food-style sauce. No one will guess that it's there, but it adds that missing flavor that I couldn't seem to replicate with typical household ingredients. I also thickened the sauce with xanthan gum.

Instead of a batter made from flour or cornstarch, I thought about chicken francaise and how it is battered with a beaten egg. It's not the same as a crunchy batter but I was still very happy with the results.

GENERAL TSO'S CHICKEN
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small cubes (don't substitute chicken breast, the texture will be all wrong)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 tsp soy sauce or tamari, divided
  • 2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 5), white and light green parts only, cut into 2" lengths
  • 2 tsp freshly grated or minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 6 dried hot peppers
  • 1.5 Tbs tomato paste, mixed with 1 Tbs water
  • 1/4 cup diet orange soda + 1 packet Splenda, OR 1 Tbs honey
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar (or cider vinegar if you're really strict about avoiding grains)
  • 3 Tbs chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • Oil for cooking (I used coconut oil)
  • White sesame seeds, for garnish
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the beaten egg, sesame oil, and 2 tsp soy sauce. Set the chicken in a bowl of the egg mixture and let it marinate. Meanwhile, combine the tomato paste, honey or orange soda + Splenda, rice vinegar, chicken broth, and remaining 4 tsp soy sauce.
  2. Heat 1-2 Tbs oil over high heat in a large, deep skillet. Cook the chicken in a single layer, shaking it off slightly as you transfer it to the pan. Turn it occasionally and continue until cooked through and crispy on the outside. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
  3. Add the scallions to the pan and cook until the outside is starting to blister. Add the garlic, ginger, and dried hot peppers, turn down the heat to medium, and stir-fry for a minute. Add the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook for a minute then whisk in the xanthan gum. Sprinkle the xanthan gum evenly over the top to prevent clumping (protip: use a tea strainer to do this).
  4. Add the chicken back to the pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over cauliflower rice.

A Full Thanksgiving Menu

I think I can wrap up my Thanksgiving recipe posts! Here is a menu I can suggest to anyone who eats primal/paleo or just low-carb.

I usually plan my menu as follows:
  • Soup
  • Salad
  • Turkey with gravy
  • Stuffing
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Orange vegetable (usually sweet potato)
  • Starch (usually mashed potatoes or mac-and-cheese)
  • Green veg (usually green beans)
  • Dessert
Soup and salad

This year I think I will leave out the soup because it ends up being fussy to have everyone sit down and eat a plated soup course before digging into everything else buffet-style. If you do decide to make a soup I'd suggest something like this mushroom soup or curried parsnip and apple soup. Presumably I don't have to tell you how to make a salad.

Turkey with gravyRoast kosher turkey with porcini-herb compound butter.


(Alternatives for gravy: arrowroot gravy, xanthan gum gravy, apricot glaze)

Stuffing

Herbed coconut flour "cornbread" stuffing with leeks and pancetta


Cranberry sauce

Sugar-free cranberry sauce with grapefruit and mint

(Alternatives: cranberry sauce made with maple syrup instead of Splenda or beet and pomegranate salad)

Orange vegetable

Spaghetti squash casserole with ricotta, sage, pignoli, and parmesan


Or roast delicata squash with rosemary


Alternatives: butternut squash puree, soy-glazed sweet potatoes with sesame seeds.

Green vegetable

Spicy parmesan green beans with kale


or broccoli rabe with garlic and pepper flakes


or balsamic-glazed rainbow chard


Even more alternatives: green beans with pomegranate, goat cheese, and walnuts (sub walnuts for the almonds, trust me), green beans and mushrooms braised in cream (kind of similar to a traditional green bean casserole, sans carbs and Frankenfood) roasted Brussels sprouts, crock pot collard greens.

Mashed potatoesCauliflower puree with roasted garlic, chevre, and asiago


Alternatives: faux macaroni and cheese, cauliflower-turnip puree, cauliflower risotto, twice-baked cauliflower.

DessertPumpkin tiramisu


Or pumpkin pavé



Alternatives: pumpkin gooey butter cake, "apple" crisp, pumpkin brownies. Or if you eschew artificial sweeteners, just put out a fruit and cheese plate. Do some seasonal fruits such as pears and figs, various cheeses (cheese with fruit in it like Wensleydale with cranberries is particularly nice for dessert), marcona almonds or toasted pecans (or pecan pie bites), and some homemade seed crackers.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Turkey with porcini-herb compound butter


When I turned thirteen, one of my Bat Mitzvah presents was a copy of the culinary tome Larousse Gastronomique. I spent many nights reading it as you would any book, completely awed by the particular brand of French haute cuisine it embodied. Highly technical, refined, and so stuffy and old-fashioned that you can't help but to find it charming. The reader is instructed to accompany many of the dishes described within (such as chateaubriand, fish a l'anglaise, squab, or lamb loin) with a compound butter (and often a garnish of watercress leaves). Compound butters are just a fancy term for flavored butter, and it is generally rolled into a log and sliced. A particularly ubiquitous one is maitre d'hotel butter, which is flavored with parsley and lemon juice.

I wondered if a compound butter might be a welcome stand-in for gravy on a roast turkey. Plus, no flour! No cornstarch! Rather than a delicate lemon-parsley blend, I made it intensely flavorful with porcini mushrooms and a medley of fresh herbs. I made a roast turkey breast in the crock pot (recipe) and decided to try it out. My husband looked at his plate quizzically, poking at the medallion of butter atop his turkey. "What am I supposed to do with this thing?" he asked. It occurred to me that not everyone was a weird kid who read Gastronomique and stole their parents' Grand Marnier for the sole purpose of using it in crepes and thus woefully old-fashioned presentations like this may spark confusion. My dreams of putting out a plate of butter medallions atop watercress leaves with a tiny two-pronged fork and having everyone ooh and aah over my classy presentation were dashed. However, once he dug in, he said it was delicious and asked for seconds. The butter melted onto the warm meat and created a glossy sauce. So I can still heartily recommend this.

PORCINI-HERB COMPOUND BUTTER

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Tbs butter, softened
  • 1/3 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh mint (probably optional, I don't think it added much)
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Rehydrate the mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes. Rinse, dry thoroughly, and mince.
  2. Use a fork to stir all the flavorings into the butter.
  3. On a piece of plastic wrap, use the back of a knife to shape the mixture into a chubby block. Roll it up and twist both ends. Let firm in the freezer. To serve, cut off slices.

Delicata squash

I'm always excited by the gourd pile that makes an appearance in supermarkets in the fall. The prosaic butternut and acorn squashes are suddenly accompanied by kabocha, turban squash, cheese pumpkin, and so forth. But my absolute favorite is a little-known squash called delicata. It is oblong with narrow green stripes, and there are several reasons to love it. First, the flavor is remarkable, reminiscent of sweet corn. Second, they are relatively small as I hate having to buy squash where a single one feeds a medium-sized army. Third, you can eat the skin! Not that I love to eat the skin, but rather I hate to peel squash.

I suggested a spaghetti squash casserole as an alternative to sweet potato on Thanksgiving. However, for those who must have a sweet-flavored orange vegetable, delicata is an admirable choice. It's higher-carb than spaghetti squash but still a much better choice than sweet potato. Butternut squash puree might be an option but if we're already serving mashed cauliflower that's too much mushy food on one plate for me. You could roast chunks of any squash, but as I stated above, using delicata alleviates the chef of having to peel.


On the right side is squash that I roasted for myself with a spritz of olive oil, red onion, rosemary, and balsamic. I used white balsamic so you can't really see the sticky glaze. On the left is what I made for my husband with butter and maple. He reacted so favorably it was like watching an Herbal Essences commercial so if you can spare the carbs and fat, I guess I'd say make it that way.

ROAST DELICATA WITH ROSEMARY
  • 1 delicata squash, halved, seeds scooped out, and cut into 1/4" thick half-moons
  • 1 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced
  • Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Place squash in a single layer on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Add desired flavorings (below). Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on rosemary and salt, bake 10 minutes more, and serve.

WITH BALSAMIC AND RED ONION
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into chunks
  • Olive oil spray
OR WITH BUTTER AND MAPLE
  • 4 Tbs butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
Combine butter and maple, brush onto the squash. You might not use it all.

Rainbow chard

According to the World's Healthiest Foods page on Swiss chard, "Swiss chard is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around and ranks second only to spinach following our analysis of the total nutrient-richness of the World's Healthiest vegetables". But that's not what's important here. What's important is that you can buy RAINBOW COLORED BUNCHES. How cool is that?? Plus that means it's a great vegetable to serve to kids. Not that I know anything about what kids want to eat (seeing as I assume that Swiss chard is high on that list). But I figure it's more appealing to them than spinach, right? Just look at some pictures! I love this stuff and I'm particularly excited in the fall when it hits supermarket shelves. I've tried it in different ways, but truth be told, I have one simple recipe from which I rarely deviate.

RAINBOW CHARD

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard (or boring non-rainbow chard)
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
  • Olive oil spray
  • Sprinkle of pimienton (smoked paprika) (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Separate the stalks from the leaves. Chop the stems and leaves but keep them separate. Wash and dry very well.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or until fragrant. Add the stems and saute until starting to soften. Add the leaves, toss to combine, and cover. Stir occasionally, and cook until tender but leaves are still bright green.
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar and tamari or soy. Turn the heat up to high and let it reduce to a glaze. Add salt, pepper, and pimienton to taste. Serve.

Broccoli rabe

Broccoli rabe, also known as broccoli di rape or rapini, is not actually broccoli. It's a relative of the dandelion and comes into season in the fall. It has a mere 9 calories per cup and is a great source of fiber. Only problem is, most people don't know how to cook it! I've had numerous people tell me that they only eat broccoli rabe when I cook it. In fact, my dad was horrified the first time he had broccoli rabe cooked by someone other than myself.

Here's the trick: broccoli rabe must be slightly overcooked. Crisp-tender will not work. I can't really give you a recipe, but this is simple enough to improvise:

Trim each stalk of broccoli rabe so that the stem is a couple inches long and a few leaves remain attached. Boil in lots of salted water (don't use a steamer basket!) until bright green, silky, and slightly overcooked. Run cold water over it to cool. Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a skillet (1-2 Tbs) and add lots and lots and lots of minced garlic. A head of garlic is fine. Add the broccoli rabe and saute for a couple minutes or until heated through and infused with the garlicky oil. Toss with red pepper flakes to taste, sprinkle with lemon juice and Parmesan, and serve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Green beans


Thanksgiving food is so rich that I like to do a simple, vegetable-y side dish comprised of green vegetables. I take it easy on the cheese, butter, cream, bacon, nuts, and so on. Roast Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper have been a hit in the past. However, a green bean dish of some sort is often expected. I've made a more dignified version of the conventional green bean casserole, but I wanted an option that doesn't use a cream sauce. Instead, I love this adaptation of Giada's spicy parmesan green beans and kale. I use chicken stock instead of wine, cut back on the olive oil, use less onion, and I modified the recipe to use -- gasp -- frozen green beans. I hate snapping the ends of green beans and cutting them into pieces, but the Birds Eye Steamfresh beans are actually pretty decent.

Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale(adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 12-oz bags Birds Eye Steamfresh cut green beans, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 bunch kale (1/2 pound), rinsed, stemmed, and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
  • Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS:

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth, red pepper flakes, and the kale, toss to combine, cover, and cook until kale is tender. Add the green beans, lemon juice, and the Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat, taste, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra pepper flakes and Parmesan sprinkled on top.

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