Friday, September 28, 2012

Brie, apple, and arugula omelette

I love eggs with fruit. I know that it sounds weird, but it's a great way to get a hint of sweetness with breakfast without eating a pastry or smoothie. One decadent combination is an omelette with bananas and almond butter, to which you can even add a sprinkling of dark chocolate chips. Or, the scramble suggested in It Starts With Food: "egg scramble with peaches, spinach, fresh basil, and chopped pecans". This one is simple, fantastic, and seems fancy but is easy to make. I love the combination of brie with apples. Fresh arugula adds a subtle bitterness that complements the richness of the cheese. You can definitely play around with this a bit: use a different soft cheese instead of the brie, a different variety of apples, or substitute baby spinach for the arugula.

BRIE, APPLE, AND ARUGULA OMELETTE
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • About 1 oz (weight) brie slices (no need to measure, you can just eyeball it)
  • About 1 oz (weight) Granny Smith apple, sliced very thin (again, no need to measure)
  • Small handful of arugula leaves
  • Optional: sprinkle of truffle salt
  • Butter or other fat of choice for cooking
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat a small skillet over medium.
  2. Add the butter and swirl to coat. Add the eggs and cook until the bottom seems solid but the top is still a bit wet. Add the apple, brie, and arugula on one side of the omelette. Sprinkle on a bit of truffle salt, if using. Fold the omelette over, cover, and turn off the heat. Let it sit for a few minutes (I leave it on the burner) until cheese is melted.
  3. Take off heat and serve!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chopped liver with schmaltz and gribenes (aka Jewish bacon)


If you're a Mark's Daily Apple Reader, you may have seen this on Monday when it was posted for the 2012 recipe video contest. In any case, some people asked for a text version of the recipe, so here you go.

I've posted healthier versions of traditional Jewish dishes before such as blintzes and Passover macaroons. This one is far from low-calorie, but chicken livers are incredibly nutrient-dense and hey, at least it's low-carb! If you'd like to try your hand at making organ meats but are intimidated to do so, this is the perfect "offal wuss" recipe: everything gets thrown in the food processor at the end, and any mistakes can be covered up with luscious chicken fat! I cooked some diced chicken fat to make schmaltz (rendered liquid fat) and gribenes (cracklings). If you don't want to bother with this, duck fat or ghee would make an ideal substitute, and even cooking oil can be used in a pinch. Of course that means that you won't be able to top it with gribenes -- "Jewish bacon" -- but it will still be delicious. I like to scoop it up with celery sticks, but you can be adventurous and make crackers or faux rye bread.

If you're still intimidated, I made an instructional video so that you can see what it should look like at each step of the process:


Question: Would you like to see more video blogs? Please let me know in the comments! The production quality on this one is admittedly low because I had to make the contest deadline and uh, I procrastinated. Future videos would be more polished with better lighting. If you have any examples of your favorite cooking videos on other sites, please let me know and I'll check them out for inspiration.

In any case, here's the recipe!

CHOPPED LIVER WITH SCHMALTZ AND GRIBENES
Serves 6-8 people as an appetizer*

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb chicken livers (preferably Kosher, they taste better)
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced (I used the slicing disk of my food processor)
  • 4 eggs, boiled and peeled
  • Fat and skin from one or more chickens, diced small or snipped into small pieces with kitchen shears (optional: see recipe description for substitutes)
  • Minced parsley leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. If using chicken fat, place it in a cold skillet on low heat. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring if it starts to stick together, until the liquid fat is rendered and the cracklings are crisp. Strain to separate the schmaltz and gribenes and set both aside.
  2. Heat some of the chicken fat over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until sticky and thoroughly caramelized.
  3. Saute the chicken livers over medium-high heat in a skillet in some of the chicken fat. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Transfer the livers and eggs to a food processor bowl with lots of salt and pepper. Pulse until coarsely chopped but still spreadable, scraping down the sides as needed. 
  5. Transfer to a mixing bowl and combine the mixture with the onions as well as any remaining chicken fat. Taste and correct seasoning.
  6. To serve, mound it on a plate and top with the gribenes (cracklings) and parsley. Serve with celery sticks or crackers for dipping.
*Serves 6-8 normal people. In my family (including my chopped-liver-crazed indoctrinated-goy husband) it serves maybe one person.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bacon salt


Yes, bacon salt. I've seen lots of flavored salts out there: saffron salt, truffle salt...why not bacon?? It's a great way to easily add that smoky, porky flavor to anything you cook. I have seen commercial bacon salt for sale but you know what ISN'T in it?? BACON. That is unacceptable. So, I decided to make my own.

I decided to use a combination of smoked salt and regular, as the smoked salt made the bacon flavor stand out more. You can use just regular sea salt or kosher salt, but it will be much more subtle.

I made this batch a while ago and I use it all the time. Finally I got around to posting it! Some standouts that I have made with it include:
  • Bacon roasted broccoli: Cut a head of broccoli into florets and toss with a tablespoon of melted bacon grease. Roast at 450 for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with bacon salt. This works with all kinds of veggies: cauliflower, green beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato wedges, chunks of cabbage...just adjust the cooking time if necessary.
  • Beat it into your eggs before scrambling them -- it is INCREDIBLE with eggs!
  • Sprinkle it on cooked hearty greens such as kale, collards, mustard greens, and so forth.
  • Dessert! Make salted chocolate truffles using a sprinkle of bacon salt. I've also made a single-serving microwave brownie with half a chocolate-caramel square in the middle, then sprinkled it with bacon salt for a bacon salted caramel brownie (mmm...)
BACON SALT
Makes about 1/2 cup

INGREDIENTS
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 3 Tbs smoked salt (I used VSpicery applewood smoked; Williams Sonoma carries a few varieties)
  • 4 Tbs coarse sea salt or Kosher salt
DIRECTIONS
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400 F.
  2. Lay bacon slices on a shallow baking pan. Roast until fat begins to render, about 5 to 6 minutes. Rotate pan and continue roasting for another 5-6 minutes or until bacon is very crisp and brown. You do not want soft or chewy bacon for this. Transfer with tongs to paper towel-lined plate.
  3. When bacon is completely cool, transfer to a spice grinder and pulse until powdery. If you don't have a spice grinder, you can hand chop with a knife, though it may take a while.
  4. Combine the bacon with the salts. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Make-ahead Italian brunch bake


I saw this recipe for "Zesty Italian Brunch Bake" over at What I Gather and I knew I had to try it. I've made egg muffins dozens of times, so I really liked the idea of a layered dish just as a change of pace. I also wanted to see how it would hold up to freezing and reheating. It worked out great, so now I have a new make-ahead breakfast option! I snapped the above picture after reheating a frozen piece.

Here is what it looks like frozen, before nuking.
I made only a couple changes. I used yellow squash instead of zucchini, because that's what I got from my CSA. I think that zucchini would be prettier since the yellow squash blended in with the color of the eggs. I also precooked the onions because I was paranoid that they would be raw if I didn't, and I beat the seasonings into the eggs. All in all, this was a winner and I loved the look of the layers.

MAKE-AHEAD ITALIAN BRUNCH BAKE
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
  • 16 oz jar roasted red peppers (whole or big pieces, not sliced or chopped), drained and patted dry with paper towels
  • Half a yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 zucchini or yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz sliced crimini or white mushrooms (criminis are more nutritious)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef or Italian sausage (I used bulk spicy Italian sausage; turkey sausage would definitely work too!)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herb mix
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 eggs
  • Olive oil for sauteeing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Saute the onion in a bit of oil over medium-high heat until translucent. Set aside. Wipe out pan and brown the sausage or ground beef until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat and set aside off heat.
  3. Line the bottom of a lightly-oiled 8x8 baking dish with the roasted red peppers, slightly overlapping.
  4. Add a layer of onions, then zucchini, then mushrooms, then meat.
  5. Beat the eggs with Italian herb mix, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Evenly pour it over the casserole. Shake the pan a bit to ensure even distribution.
  6. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until eggs are cooked through and no longer jiggly.
Make-ahead directions: When completely cool, cut into squares. Use a spatula to lift squares out of the casserole dish and set them on a baking sheet, pieces not touching each other. Freeze overnight. Individually wrap the frozen squares in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag. To serve, microwave 2-3 minutes on high or until hot.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blueberry breakfast sausage, coconut carrot souffle


Some people get sick of eating eggs for breakfast, particularly people who are eating low-carb or paleo. So what's your option? You can eat non-breakfast food upon waking, or make grain-free versions of breakfast favorites like pancakes or French toast, or maybe drink a fruit smoothie. But say that you want to maintain an animal-protein-with-lots-of-veggies meal template (PDF) and don't want to add lots of sweeteners or fruits or make a healthified facsimile of something else. Then this breakfast is a great option.

I recently found blueberry breakfast sausage and thought that the flavor combination would be a nice alternative to the ubiquitous sausage with apples. The blueberries add a hint of natural sweetness, plus they are relatively low in sugar and packed with antioxidants. I kept the sausages unsweetened, but if you don't mind some extra sugar they would be delicious with a drizzle of maple syrup. I just mixed in some whole unthawed frozen blueberries because I liked the textural contrast. However, if you just want the blueberry flavor without whole pieces of fruit you can chop them or mash them up.

I wanted a veggie side that could be made ahead and naturally satisfies a craving for a sweeter breakfast without using tons of sugar or fruit. I pureed cooked carrots with coconut butter, vanilla bean, and spices to create a fluffy dish that is almost reminiscent of carrot cake. I sprinkled the top with shredded coconut which got nice and toasted in the oven. Chopped pecans would work great as well.

BLUEBERRY BREAKFAST SAUSAGE
Serves 4-8

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb ground meat of choice (pork, chicken, or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup frozen (no need to thaw) or fresh blueberries, whole or chopped
  • 1 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper + 1/4 tsp paprika)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Thoroughly combine all ingredients with your hands.
  2. Shape the meat into a log and place it on a large piece of plastic wrap. Roll it up in the plastic wrap, tightly twisting both ends. 
  3. When ready to serve, slice it into patties. You should get about eight sausage patties. Cook them in a lightly oiled skillet on medium heat, turning once, until both sides are browned. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the meat is completely cooked throughout. Serve.
Make-ahead directions: You can freeze the individual raw patties on a baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then cook as specified. Or, you can fully cook the patties, freeze them the same way, and just microwave the frozen sausage for 2-4 minutes on high when you're ready to eat.

COCONUT CARROT SOUFFLE
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb frozen sliced carrots 
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter (I used two Artisana packets because I didn't want to buy a whole jar)
  • 2 tsp apple pie spice*
  • 2 eggs
  • Seeds from a 2" piece vanilla bean (can substitute 1.5 tsp vanilla extract if you are not on a Whole30)
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 tsp shredded coconut for topping  
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cook the carrots for a bit longer than the package directions specify. They should be quite soft but not mushy. Mine said to microwave for 5 minutes, stir, then nuke for 5-6 minutes longer. I did that, stirred again, then microwaved for another 3 minutes on high.
  3. Combine all ingredients except for the shredded coconut in a food processor. Blend thoroughly until completely smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased souffle dish or 4 greased ramekins. Top with the shredded coconut. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
*If you don't have apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice would work too, it's basically the same thing only with ginger added. Or you can just use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves. Basically you just want to give it a carrot cake type flavor.

Make-ahead directions: Pour the carrot mixture into greased ramekins and top each one with 1 tsp shredded coconut. If you don't want to keep your ramekins in the freezer, line them with plastic wrap, freeze, and then use the plastic wrap to lift out the frozen rounds of carrot souffle.You will put them in a greased ramekin when ready to bake. Thaw overnight or in the microwave on the "defrost" setting. Bake as specified; I used my toaster oven. You can also microwave it (I did it for 4 minutes on high, rotating halfway through) but the texture won't be as nice. It will still be fluffy but it will be kind of gummy, whereas if you bake it, it will have a golden crispy outside with a tender inside.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Make-ahead salmon with green beans, tomatoes, and olives


I'm a big fan of "emergency dinners" that I can keep in the freezer for nights I don't have time to prep or clean. It is a super huge added bonus as well if it includes veggies. This recipe does both, and has the additional bonus of being frozen and baked in a foil packet. So, there's virtually no cleanup: just put the foil packet on a baking sheet and roast in the oven.

You will want to start out with frozen salmon fillets for this. From what I understand, fish (even most of the "fresh" fish at the seafood counter) is quickly flash-frozen on the boat when it is caught. If you stick a fillet in your home freezer, it creates larger ice chunks as the moisture consolidates from the slower freezing process, leading to a mushy texture when thawed. So buy the pre-frozen stuff.

This recipe is adapted from this one in Fine Cooking magazine. It calls for saffron, which is quite expensive, so you can leave it out if you would like. I bought some Badia brand saffron which is not terribly pricey. 

Here's some photos that show the wrapping process for the foil packets:

Fold the bottom side of the foil up over the salmon

Bring in the sides

Then fold over the top

Here's what it looks like out of the oven

MAKE-AHEAD SALMON WITH GREEN BEANS, TOMATOES, AND OLIVES
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • Four frozen salmon fillets, 4-6 oz each
  • One 1 lb bag frozen green beans, not thawed
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved or sliced
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, oregano, or marjoram leaves
  • Pinch saffron (optional but recommended; you could try substituting a pinch of turmeric instead)
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the oil (I put some in my Misto)
  • Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the tomatoes, olives, thyme, saffron, 1 Tbs olive oil, and pepper in a medium bowl.
  2. Tear four large pieces of foil and spray with olive oil. Divide the frozen green beans evenly among the foil pieces. Spray with a bit of oil and sprinkle with salt. 
  3. Set a salmon fillet atop each green bean pile. Spray with oil and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Spoon the tomato mixture onto each salmon fillet.
  5. Wrap the foil packets as shown. If you tear the foil, wrap again with another layer. Keep in freezer until ready to eat.
  6. To cook, thaw packets in the fridge overnight. Preheat oven to 425 F. Set foil packets, seam side up on a baking sheet. Cook for about 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your fillets so check on one after 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Meatza with eggplant and spinach-walnut pesto


It's funny; after trying every single grain-free pizza crust, my go-to staple is still the meatza. It's the least like an actual pizza, but it's so easy to make and very filling. I wanted to develop a version without dairy, and this is what I devised. I used ground beef for the "crust" and topped it with eggplant, olives, and tomatoes.

I used homemade pesto as the sauce. The addition of spinach keeps it green (basil-only pesto quickly turns brown) and added a bit of lemon juice for the tang that usually results from parmesan. I used walnuts because the omega-3:omega-6 ratio is so much more favorable than pine nuts (1:4 for walnuts as compared with 1:300 for pine nuts, according to NutritionData). I also used a couple tips that I got from Cook's Illustrated magazine: blanch the garlic to take away some of the raw edge, and bruise the basil leaves with a meat pounder to release the full flavor of the herb.

MEATZA WITH EGGPLANT AND SPINACH-WALNUT PESTO
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Italian herb mix (or use 1/2 tsp dried basil + 1/2 tsp dried oregano)
  • 1 tsp Adobo seasoning (or use 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, and 1/8 tsp onion powder)
  • 1 small eggplant, very thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
  • Grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sliced black olives
  • Spinach-walnut pesto (recipe follows; you will not use all of it)
  • Olive oil or other fat of choice for cooking
  • Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1.  Preheat the broiler. Set eggplant slices in a single layer on a broiler pan. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil 4-5 minutes on each side or until just starting to brown. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 F
  3. Thoroughly combine the beef, egg, herbs, and Adobo seasoning.
  4. Line a large pan with parchment paper (I used a round cake pan) or spray with olive oil. Pack the meat into the pan, making it slightly thicker at the outer edges to resemble a crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done.
  5. Spread with pesto and top with eggplant, olives, and tomatoes. Broil for 2-3 minutes and serve, cut into wedges.
For the pesto:

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted (I baked them at 350 in the toaster oven for a couple minutes until fragrant)
  • 5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
DIRECTIONS
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Thread the garlic cloves onto a skewer and hold them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Set aside to cool, then peel.
  2. Put the basil leaves in a large plastic bag and pound with a meat mallet until bruised.
  3. In a food processor, combine the garlic, oil, and walnuts. Process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process again until pureed. Keeps in the fridge for a week or so, or can be frozen.
Freezing directions: Cut into wedges and freeze overnight on a plate or baking sheet. The next day, individually wrap the wedges and transfer to a freezer bag.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Slow-cooker pork chops with apples, onion, and sauerkraut


A lot of folks these days are trying to increase their intake of fermented foods. So, I wanted to devise an easy weeknight meal that uses sauerkraut. As a bonus, sauerkraut keeps for a long time in the fridge!

This meal is super simple: throw some sauerkraut in the crock pot, top it with seasoned pork chops, add a few onion and apple slices, then let your slow cooker do its thing. I used a very small amount of apple to keep carbs low. This isn't a sweet dish, so if you would like you can add about 12 oz unsweetened applesauce. I have not tried it myself, but I've seen numerous recipes which do so.

SLOW-COOKER PORK CHOPS WITH APPLES, ONION, AND SAUERKRAUT
Serves about 4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 bag sauerkraut (look for a brand with no added sugar), rinsed and thoroughly dried
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 4 thick cut pork chops
  • Half of a Granny Smith apple, cut into 12 wedges (or use a whole one if you like a lot of apple)
  • Half of a large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • Seasoning for the pork chops. I used Penzeys Singapore seasoning, which sounds weird but is awesome on pork. You can approximate it by using a combination of lemon pepper and curry powder. Or, use just one or the other, or do something else and use salt and pepper with a little dried rosemary or sage.
DIRECTIONS
  1. Set the sauerkraut in the bottom of your slow cooker. Mix in the caraway seed.
  2. Season the pork chops with whatever spices you are using. Set them on top of the sauerkraut. Top each pork chop with about 3 apple slices, then top with sliced onion.
  3. Cook on low for about 6 hours or until tender.
Make-ahead directions: Layer the apples and onions on the seasoned pork chops. Wrap up the little packets in plastic wrap and freeze. This can be cooked directly in the slow cooker without thawing first.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Savory pumpkin torte with kale


Pumpkin is unfairly neglected when it comes to savory recipes. It finds its way into pies, cakes, muffins, quick breads, cheesecake, even tiramisu. But I also love it in entrees. I wanted to make something similar to a quiche but without cheese, so I thought that the addition of pumpkin would be ideal. It adds some creamy richness and gives the eggs a silky texture when they're cooked. Crustless quiche can be a bit wimpy, so I added extra eggs, packed it full of veggies, and poured it into a big springform pan for a heartier entree.

I am trying to add more dairy-free entrees, as I realized that so many of my recipes depend upon cheese; do me a favor and please vote in the poll in the right sidebar to let me know if you'd like to see more of these. If you would like, feel free to add 8 oz shredded Comte or Swiss cheese. If you can find AOC Comte, use that, as it is made from raw milk and heavily regulated in terms of diet and grazing area for the cows. If you are using cheese, stir it in after step 4.

SAVORY PUMPKIN TORTE WITH KALE
Makes 8 thick slices

INGREDIENTS
  • 9 eggs
  • One 15oz can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • Small bunch (about 4 cups) raw kale, roughly torn off the stems
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz (weight) chopped mushrooms such as crimini, oyster, or portobello 
  • 1 Tbs dried rosemary
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon*
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • Fat of choice for sauteeing (I used ghee, olive or coconut oil would work too)
*Note: You can leave out the cinnamon and ginger if you are not sure how you would like sweet pumpkin pie-type spices in a savory dish. I liked the flavor, but it was definitely a bit unusual and may not be for everyone.
DIRECTIONS
  1. Move oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-low. Add a bit of oil, then add the onion. Saute until completely caramelized. Remove onion from the pan and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the skilled and heat more oil in there over medium high. Add the mushrooms, saute until browned, then set aside with the onions. Heat a bit more oil, add the kale, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook until kale is soft. Squeeze it dry in paper towels, then roughly chop.
  4. Beat the eggs with the pumpkin, herbs, and spices (I used an electric beater with whisk attachment, but you can do it by hand). Stir in the onion, kale, and mushrooms.
  5. Thoroughly grease a large (9" or 10") springform pan. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and there is no jiggle. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then serve warm.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Coffee braised chile beef (slow cooker)

Beef, shredded cole slaw cabbage, guacamole, and homemade lazy girl salsa

This is a great recipe because it's so versatile. I originally served it like pot roast, in thick slices with mashed cauliflower. Then, I shredded the leftovers and served them more like a taco salad, as pictured above. The spice rub is smokey and spicy. It's kind of a hybrid of this roast, these short ribs, and this spice rub. I loved using coffee as the braising liquid, as it added a nice depth of flavor and created a nice dark gravy.

COFFEE BRAISED CHILE BEEF
Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 beef roast (I used a 2.5 lb eye of round roast, which is on the lean side. Brisket would work great, or chuck roast if you like a fattier cut)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbs ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp oregano (preferably Mexican oregano) 
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder (optional; if you like spicy food) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee, preferably cold brewed
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Half a large red onion, thickly sliced
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine all ingredients except for the beef, coffee, onion, and vinegar. Add enough water to form a loose paste. Rub the beef with the spice paste on all sides.
  2. Spread the onion in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the beef roast on top. Stir the vinegar into the coffee and pour it over the roast.
  3. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or until very tender.
Simpler variation: Use a pre-made spice mix such as VSpicery Cocoa Loco or Penzeys Chili 9000 instead of the spice mix. Just season the roast liberally and braise in the coffee-vinegar mixture.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Make-ahead easy Thai curry

Photo shows the curry in its frozen state

This is a great meal that you can make ahead and freeze for an emergency dinner. Thai curry paste seems to have become a staple even in American supermarkets, which takes all the work out of making a flavorful curry. I was curious if I could freeze it while still retaining some crispness to the veggies. The solution I found was to purchase flash-frozen bagged veggies, cool the curry, mix it with the unthawed veggies, and freeze everything together like that. I also froze cauliflower "rice" (cauliflower run through the shredding disk of a food processor) in muffin tins. The texture was a bit on the mushy side, but just fine for soaking up the yummy coconut milk curry sauce.

There are plenty of possible variations on this recipe: use a different type of curry paste (I used green, red and yellow are available and make a milder dish), or vary the type of meat and/or veggies. It's hard to mess it up!

MAKE-AHEAD EASY THAI CURRY
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1.5-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (or meat of choice), sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 can coconut milk, stirred (you can get away with using lite, but I don't particularly recommend it because the sauce will be on the watery side)
  • 4 oz Thai curry paste (I used a jar of Thai Kitchen brand green curry, which has no added sugar. Red, yellow, or green curry would all work)
  • 1 lb frozen veggie stir fry (I used Birds Eye Broccoli Stir Fry, which has no added salt, seasonings, or preservatives. Use whatever you would like!)
  • Coconut oil or other fat of choice for cooking
 DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat a bit of coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large, wide skillet. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Heat more coconut oil in the skillet. Add the curry paste and stir-fry for a minute or two or until fragrant. Add the coconut milk and chicken (leaving any accumulated chicken juices out of the skillet), bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Freezing directions: When curry mixture has completely cooled, mix in the frozen veggies (unthawed). Divide among four entree-sized food containers. To serve, thaw overnight or in the microwave on the "defrost" setting (though the former is preferable). Microwave for 2 minutes on high, stir, then continue to microwave at 1 minute intervals until thoroughly heated through.

For the make-ahead cauliflower rice: Separate a raw head of cauliflower into florets, then run them through the shredding disk of a food processor. Pack it into muffin tins, pressing down with the back of a spoon. After freezing overnight, remove from muffin cups and transfer to a freezer bag. Thaw and cook the same as the curry.

To serve right away: After step 1, cook the frozen vegetables in the skillet according to package directions. Add then with the chicken in step 2. Microwave the raw cauliflower rice covered for two minutes, covered. Stir, then microwave at 1 minute intervals until cooked. Add salt to taste.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meat and veggie mini frittatas (dairy-free)


On a Sunday, I will frequently make a big egg casserole that will last me during through the week. That way, I don't have to worry about preparing breakfast on a rushed morning. Frequently I add cheese, coconut flour, or both, but I wanted to try something simple. Particularly because I've been getting really yummy farm-fresh eggs.

This is a sort of "master recipe" to which you can add any meats and veggies which suit your fancy. I just used what I had around: red bell pepper, yellow squash, scallions, fresh thyme, and bacon. Feel free to substitute whatever you would like. I just mixed everything together and baked it in muffin tins; couldn't be simpler.

MEAT AND VEGGIE MINI FRITTATAS
Makes 6 muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk (you can use almond milk or similar if you prefer, but the texture will be on the rubbery side)
  • 1-2 oz (weight) meat such as bacon, ham, sausage, or ground beef, diced if applicable
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • About 1/2 cup chopped veggies (I used 1/4 cup shredded yellow squash and 1/4 cup red bell pepper, along with a bit of fresh thyme)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. If using uncooked meat, cook in a skillet until done; all pink should be gone from ground meat, bacon should be crisp. Drain and set aside.
  3. Saute the vegetables along with the scallions in a bit of oil or cooking grease until just starting to soften. Set aside with the meat.
  4. Beat the eggs with the coconut milk, salt, and pepper, then add the eggs and vegetables. Evenly distribute the mixture among 6 greased muffin cups.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the center is solid. Let cool before eating. Can be frozen.
Make-ahead directions: Flash freeze by setting the mini frittatas on a baking sheet overnight. The next day, individually wrap them and store in a freezer bag. Microwave for a couple minutes on high when ready to eat.

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