Friday, December 27, 2013

Creamless cauliflower clam chowder with bacon and leeks

When it's cold out, I can't get enough soup. It's pretty much all I want to eat. New England clam chowder is tasty and filling with a nice hit of protein from the clams. However, I wanted to do one better and make it without all the cream and potatoes. I recently made a pureed cauliflower soup and wondered if it could be used as the base of a cream soup instead of dairy. It worked splendidly and required no additional starch thickeners. I also added some leeks and crispy bacon for a flavor boost (I found sugar-free bacon at the farmer's market!). I served it with some nori crisps in lieu of oyster crackers, and it made for a totally satisfying meal.

CREAMLESS CAULIFLOWER CLAM CHOWDER WITH BACON AND LEEKS
Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS
  • Four 6.5 oz cans of chopped or baby clams packed in clam juice (not packed in water)
  • 16 oz bottled clam juice
  • 1.5 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1.25 lbs), cut into florets
  • Four slices thick-cut bacon, chopped into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tbs fresh minced parsley leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain all but a teaspoon of grease.
  2. Increase heat to medium and add the leeks. Saute for a couple of minutes or until soft. Remove about 2/3 of the leeks and reserve for later, leaving the remaining third in the pot.
  3. Stir in the cauliflower, then add the clam juice, juice from the canned clams (but not the clams themselves), water, and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is quite soft, about 30 minutes. The cauliflower should be soft enough to mash with a fork.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. You can alternately transfer everything to a blender in batches but an immersion blender is much easier!
  5. Stir in the clams, leeks, bacon, and parsley. Simmer for a couple minutes to let flavors meld. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I like LOTS of pepper but very little salt since the clams, clam juice, and bacon are quite salty). Serve!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sugar-free low-carb peppermint bark

I really wanted to create some kind of Christmas cookie or candy recipe. This time of year, there are temptations everywhere with folks giving away sweets seemingly everywhere you go. So, it's nice to be able to bring an option that is more in line with your own way of eating.

I am CRAZY about peppermint bark, which is pretty much just dark chocolate, white chocolate, plus crushed peppermint candies. The white chocolate layer is the most challenging. Since I previously developed a recipe for sugar-free dairy-free white chocolate, I knew that I had a solution here. For the regular chocolate layer, you can either use very dark storebought chocolate such as Lindt 90% or add stevia to unsweetened 100% chocolate. Now we just have the peppermint candy. You have a few options here:
  • My top choice would probably be xylitol peppermints such as these. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar zero-calorie sugar alcohol; more info here.
  • If you just want to reduce carbs and calories, you can easily find sugar-free mints such as these at most drugstores or supermarkets.
  • If you would rather use real sugar but avoid additives like high-fructose corn syrup, you can get organic mints such as these or these. You could also try health food stores such as Whole Foods.
  • Finally, I used two layers of peppermint candies with six crushed candies sprinkled on each chocolate layer. You could just reduce the overall quantity and use six instead on the top layer only with none on the dark chocolate.
SUGAR-FREE LOW-CARB PEPPERMINT BARK
Makes about 1/2 pound

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate or unsweetened chocolate + stevia equivalent of 1/4 cup sugar (note: many chocolate bars are sold as 3.5 oz; that's fine, just use 3.5 oz instead of 4 if that's easier.)
  • 2 oz (weight) food-grade cocoa butter (I use this stuff)
  • 1 packet (about 1.75 ounces) coconut milk powder (I buy Roxy brand from the local Asian market, which is unsweetened)
  • Stevia equivalent of 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 6-12 peppermint candies (see note above)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or ghee
DIRECTIONS
  1. Chop the dark chocolate and crush the peppermint candies.
  2. Put the dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl with the coconut oil. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and then microwave at 10-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. If using unsweetened chocolate + stevia, stir in the stevia now. Scrape the melted chocolate into a loaf pan or tupperware container (I used a Gladware entree container). Shake lightly to distribute. If using twelve candies for two layers of peppermint, sprinkle half of the crushed peppermints evenly over the chocolate. Put the container in the freezer and set aside.
  3. Next, make the white chocolate layer. Put the cocoa butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for a minute, stir, and then microwave again for 30-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Vigorously whisk in the coconut milk powder, stevia, and pinch of salt until smooth.
  4. Remove the container holding the chocolate from the freezer. Scrape the white chocolate over the dark chocolate layer, shaking lightly to distribute. Sprinkle six crushed peppermint candies over the white chocolate layer and place into the freezer to solidify.
  5. When completely solid, cut into squares or break into pieces and serve. Keep it cold until serving, preferably in the freezer.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Facebook Pinterest RSS email More

 
Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | JCpenney Printable Coupons