Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Green bean tapas



I like this recipe because Green bean bundles are wrapped in serrano ham (or proscuitto), crisped in a pan, then dressed simply with sherry vinegar (or balsamic) plus a little cracked pepper. That's really about it!

Don't bother dropping lots of money on top-quality ham. Since you're going to cook it, it would be a waste to shell out a bunch of cash. This is probably not an issue if you live in Spain. When I went to Spain, I discovered that you can buy jamon serrano pretty much anywhere. I mean, you can walk into any gas station and get jamon serrano plus a jar of tasty olives. About half the pictures of my Spain trip are of ham. Look!

This one was in some random bar. Just a regular bar, but they have ham hanging off of every surface.
Ham on a stick!
Ham
HAM
OH MY GOD I WANT TO MOVE TO SPAIN SO MUCH

Err...I digress.


GREEN BEAN TAPAS
Servings variable; 20 beans + 1 slice of ham = 2 bundles

INGREDIENTS

  • About 10 oz green beans (I used a bag of pre-prepped mixed green and yellow beans from Trader Joe's)
  • Package of serrano ham or prosciutto
  • Olive oil
  • Sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Coarse salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-cook your green beans. Mine came in a microwaveable bag so I just nuked them according to the directions. Alternately, blanch them in boiling salted water until just tender.
  2. Cut each slice of ham in half lengthwise. Roll up about ten beans in each ham slice half. You may use more or less beans depending on their thickness.
  3. Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook the bundles for 1-2 minutes on each side, until ham starts to crisp.
  4. Drizzle the beans with vinegar and top with salt and pepper

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jicama "oatmeal"

Jicama "oatmeal"...brown color is because I added LOTS of cinnamon!
While you certainly won't fool anyone into believing that this is real oatmeal, this is a nice way to have the experience of digging into a hot creamy bowl on a cold morning. It's like cauliflower "rice" or zucchini "noodles" in that regard: it doesn't really duplicate the grain-based food itself, rather, it's a way of preparing veggies in a comforting, familiar way.

I was inspired by this recipe for cauliflower "oats", but I wanted to find a way of nixing the sweetener. Cauliflower is relatively sweet on it's own but has a sulfurous sort of flavor that I think you'd need to mask aggressively. So, I turned to jicama. The flavor reminds me a bit of apples so I went with an apple-cinnamon flavor for this recipe. It took me many, many tries to get this right. If I cooked it on the stove top, the jicama really wanted to stay crunchy unless I simmered it for a very long time. Thus, it seemed more practical to cook it in the slow cooker overnight so that it's ready in the morning.

I used my mini slow cooker; I have not yet tested it with a large model. If you use a big crock pot, let me know how it works. Typically, you want your slow cooker to be at least 2/3 full to prevent overcooking (source), so with a larger model you may need to reduce the cooking time. I'm not sure though! You'll have to try it :) Though with this recipe, I had more trouble with undercooking than overcooking.

This fits the Whole9 meal template precisely: A plate full of veggies, two eggs as a protein source, a bit of fat from the splash of coconut milk and ground seeds, and a bit of fruit. Most of the "fauxtmeal" recipes out there are based on lots of nuts and mashed banana with no veggies at all, so I wanted to provide a Whole30-friendly alternative. That being said, while flax is technically approved, the Whole9 team advises that you only consume it occasionally. So if you find yourself eating this very often I'd probably experiment with other nuts instead. Ground hazelnuts, macadamias, or perhaps coconut flour would be worth a shot, though I've not tested them myself. The other note I'd give to those doing Whole30 is to not go too crazy with toppings. In particular I would not load this up with nut butters, dried fruit, and so forth. Otherwise this is a great and very filling breakfast choice! ETA 1/13/13: I asked the Whole9 time for an "official" verdict on this recipe. It is indeed Whole30 approved, but they recommend some extra protein. You could either add something on the side like a piece of blueberry breakfast sausage, or try stirring an extra egg into the "oatmeal". I haven't tried it myself but I see no reason why three eggs wouldn't work. Additionally, it's a good idea to rotate this breakfast with other more colorful veggies.

JICAMA "OATMEAL"
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
  • 8 oz peeled jicama, cut into chunks 
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk*
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Pinch salt
  • 1" piece of vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs ground golden flax seeds (other nuts or seeds may work, but I haven't tried them personally. I would recommend trying walnuts if you avoid flax.)
  • 2 Tbs unsweetened applesauce or a fourth of a fresh apple**
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice
*Trader Joe's brand is just water and coconut milk, with no gums or sulfites. Alternately you can mix 3 Tbs full-fat coconut milk with 2 Tbs water.

**I like Granny Smith apples or Granny Smith applesauce, but you can use any variety you like. If you use fresh grated apple, just core the apple wedge and grate the flesh only, discarding the skin.

DIRECTIONS
  1. "Rice" your jicama. I did this by putting it in a blender, covering it with cold water, then pulsing until it was in rice-sized pieces. I recommend pulsing and keeping an eye on it to ensure you don't over-process. Then I drained the jicama well in a sieve. You will have about a cup.
  2. Put the jicama in a crock pot with the salt, water, and coconut milk. If using vanilla bean, cut it in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, then put the seeds along with the pod in with the jicama. Cover the slow cooker tightly, and if yours has a steam vent, plug it up with a chopstick. Cook on high for at least overnight, but ideally for 12-24 hours. If you cook for fewer then 12 hours it will still have a bit of a crunch.
  3. Before you go to bed, you can combine the ground flax or walnuts with the cinnamon and apple pie spice to have it ready in the morning.
  4. When you are ready to eat, remove and discard the pod from the vanilla bean. Beat the eggs with the applesauce or apples and, if using, vanilla extract. Stir it into the crock pot rapidly. Continue stirring until the mixture is thickened and the eggs are no longer runny. Turn off the heat, stir in the ground nuts/seeds and spices, then serve with the toppings of your choice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Beef Stroganoff (grain free, dairy free!)

Beef stroganoff over sauteed cabbage
I got a really great deal on a whole beef tenderloin, the catch being of course that I had to butcher it myself. I got a whole bunch of steaks, but was also left with a large flat tip that looked like it would lend itself nicely to slicing and sauteeing. If you don't want to spend the money on tenderloin or the time on butchering a whole one, you could certainly substitute sirloin or another tender cut.

This recipe is adapted from one in Cook's Illustrated. I used my dairy-free coconut "sour cream" in place of the dairy in this recipe. You can see a step-by-step tutorial for making it if you scroll down on this page. The gravy is thickened with just a touch of arrowroot or tapioca. I did add a splash of vermouth but you could easily substitute white wine vinegar if you are doing Whole30 or similar.

BEEF STROGANOFF
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS

  • About a pound of sliced beef tenderloin or sirloin
  • 8 oz crimini or white button mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and mushrooms quartered
  • Half an onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1.5 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp arrowroot or tapioca flour
  • 2 Tbs vermouth or white wine, or 1 Tbs white wine vinegar mixed with 1 Tbs water
  • 1 recipe dairy-free sour cream as per the tutorial on this page
  • Fat of choice for sauteeing (I used ghee)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat a Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Saute the beef in your fat of choice until nicely browned. Set aside, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Meanwhile, microwave the mushrooms on high for 5 minutes to eliminate some of the liquid before sauteeing.
  2. Add a bit of extra fat to the pan and saute the onion and mushrooms until the onion is soft and translucent and the mushrooms are browned. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and mustard and saute for about 30 seconds longer.
  3. Add the wine (or diluted vinegar) and beef broth. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. 
  4. Sprinkle the arrowroot or tapioca over the top of the sauce, then mix it in. Add the beef plus any accumulated juices and simmer for a minute to meld flavors. Turn off the heat and swirl in 1/4 cup of the dairy-free "sour cream" (you will have some extra left over for topping). Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Serve with an extra blob of sour cream over sauteed cabbage, cauliflower "rice", or another veggie to soak up the gravy. Garnish with minced parsley and/or paprika if desired.

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