Saturday, April 14, 2012

Grain-free Onion Rings

 Zucchini and onions

4 steps to a satisfactory level of crispiness!

Hot Sizzle
Today I had a craving for onion rings, but I wanted to experiment by making them grain-free and fried in healthy fats.  I've actually had this idea on my to-do list for oh... probably a month now?... but I finally got around to putting them together. Typical me. 

So the idea was to avoid the flour-based batter usually used to dip onion rings.  Side note: I went to a new grocery store in town (+1 point), tried pork rinds for the first time (+1 point), did not like the pork rinds at all (-1 point), and decided I needed to find a purpose for the rest of the bag (+1 point). I think I'm ahead here.  I crushed the pork rinds as fine as I could (how hard can I hit the counter with my marble rolling pin?) and set them aside on a plate.  I also poured out some coconut flour on another plate.  Good deep frying technique involves dipping your item in an egg wash, then in a powdery dusting, then usually back in the egg wash and finally in the crumb coat.

After getting my cast iron pot set up with a very generous portion of coconut oil (1/2 cup?) and a few tablespoons of butter for flavor. Another side note: did you see the previous post? I've never head of an Amish butter roll. I just had to get it when I saw it at the new grocery store today (+1 point). It was from a family-owned creamery in Wisconsin and their main product is this butter roll... cool!  So anyway, I melted the fats in the pan, whisked two eggs to place on another plate, and gathered up my sliced vegetables.  I flipped them once or twice in the egg, one by one, then tossed them with the coconut flour, then back in the eggs, and then dredged them through the crushed pork rinds.  I let them fry for about a minute on each side. 

The onions were the best!  I didn't like the zucchini very much... I think I would need to season the crumb coat if I made them again.  And I actually liked the onions better without the coconut flour step. The pork rinds seemed to stick just fine to the first egg wash, and they fried up so crispy! I couldn't believe how similar the taste was to my favorite fast food onion rings.  A little messy, but pretty easy to make overall, especially with the deep-sided cast iron. I love my pans!

This will be my go-to recipe for satiating my fried food cravings.... and using up any random bags of pork rinds.

"Amish butter roll"

So says the plain wrapper. Have you ever seen this before? The butter is good, but overly salty.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Lemon Bars with free range eggs are the color of 1980's neon yellow

Made using eggs from my parents' back yard.  All over their yard, in fact.

California lunch

This was another toss-it-up kind of salad. Not a tossed salad, but a use up the fridge kind of salad! I had Bacon, small peppers, and tzatziki sauce on top, and while I added too much of the ultra-salty tsatziki, it was more than edible with a side of blood orange soda (not that whole bottle!). I'm not a big soda fan, but I really enjoyed this variety my mom got from Costco. Way to go Mom! :-) It even came in a beautiful glass bottle. Perfect way to celebrate the beginning of summer!

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The perfect gift from one cook to another

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Tapas at a French restaurant

Last night my friend K and I had the monthly tapas menu at my favorite restaurant, Le Cafe De Paris. Typically tapas are a Spanish thing, but in the US in the last few years, the term has simply come to mean small plates. LCDP has a tapas night on the first Thursday of every month, and we go more often than not.

Last night's tapas menu was French-themed (to scramble your brain even more), and we enjoyed asparagus with orange bechamel, chicken cordon bleu on toasts, pate with dijon, mushroom cream soup (and I don't even like mushrooms! But I liked the soup... Must have been the cream), steak tartare, and frog legs. The frog legs were tasty, but we both agreed that it was probably the deep fried crunchy goodness on the outside that really enticed us. Oh, and how could I forget the truffled pomme frites (French fries)?! They were hands down amazing. Some of the best fries I've ever had. Dessert was comprised of chocolate bonbons filled with strawberry ice cream, and creme caramel (similar to down, but probably with more cream in it, which I believe we've established by now is a typically French move!). A smooth glass of wine (or two!), wonderful company, and a gracious hostess made our evening memorable. I love this place.

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Apple-Blackberry Cake

A variation on one of Dorie Greenspan's recipes from her book Baking: From my Home to Yours. That book is chock full of great things!

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Since when did French baking get all modern on us? When I think of someone baking at home in France (which they rarely do, thanks to the gazillion patisseries everywhere), I imagine them using parchment paper or just a metal cookie sheet, with lots of butter. Everything in France has lots of butter.

But the French have come up with a fabulous nonstick rubber sheet called a Silpat mat. It is flexible, reusable, and expensive! I've been wanting one for several years, and thanks to a Williams-Sonoma gift card from my birthday, I finally got one! Thanks J! But not after first buying the wrong size Silpat in the store and then returning it, being given another gift card, and finally purchasing it on their website. No worries. It's finally here. Silpats are especially good for candy-making, so I'll be sure to share my future Silpat experiments with you!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Healthifried Fish Cakes

First off, I totally stole that title from Katy.  It describes exactly what these salmon cakes are - deliciously fried in a healthy fat!  And they were gooood... and easy and quick.  In other words, dinner - now! The recipe below is my version... vague.

1 can salmon, drained
some onion (I used green onion)
1 egg
Couple spoonfuls of coconut flour
S&P, other spices (a little powdered mustard, maybe?)
A large... maybe overflowing... spoonful of coconut oil

1) Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Don't worry if nothing sticks together, it will!  Or you'll threaten with a fiery demise.  Oh wait...
2) Divide into fourths (i.e., kinda scootch about a fourth into separate corners of the bowl.  Do bowls have corners?)
3) Melt the coconut oil in a skillet (I llluuuuvvvv my cast iron!) over medium-high heat. When it's pretty hot, pat a fourth of the salmon into a little patty and gently lay it in the oil.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. No rinsing.
4) Let them cook undisturbed for... oh... umm..... 4 minutes? 5 minutes?  And then flip! Gently.  Flip gently. Let cook another 3 minutes or so.
5) Remove from pan and eat with salad. Crispy! Crunchy! Almost like fish & chips! Almost.

Eat well!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gruyere Souffle

Last Christmas, my mom gave me a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine.  I love learning about food, and I love mail, so... win-win.  The latest issue's (April 2012) feature was on eggs, and there were at least 4 recipes starring eggs, if I remember correctly.  One of those was a "light, airy, and decadently cheesy" souffle that was calling my name.  Cheese?  Yes please.

Key ingredients, clockwise from left: Gruyere cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and buttahhh....

An elemental step in making a souffle is whisking the egg whites.  Make sure your bowl is squeaky clean, and don't overbeat them.  You want a noticeable peak when you lift the beater out, but not a firm peak.

The other key step in making a souffle is creating a bechamel sauce as the base.  Whisk, whisk, whisk...

Add the flour and whisk some more!  There is a certain turning point when the heat and motion are just right, and a sauce suddenly thickens.  It's like magic.

Pour your nutmeg-scented bechamel into a bowl and press plastic wrap into the top.  This prevents a skin from forming.

Remember those eggs up above?  The yolks get slightly beaten (in a good way!) and stirred into the bechamel.  Then the whites get whipped (my, we have violent kitchens, don't we?) and gently folded into the sauce as well, to make everything airy and light.

Poured into buttered, Parmesan-dusted ramekins and ready for the oven after getting another sprinkle of cheese on top.  Nobody can have enough cheese.

Yes, they will fall.  It's the nature of a souffle.  But they aren't embarrassed and neither should you be - you just made a cheesy, delicious side (or breakfast, as the case may be.... ahem)!

I was disappointed that my souffles overflowed so much, but that was probably my own fault for over-filling the ramekins!  I also substituted a few of the ingredients.  This really was a great souffle recipe, and I think I will keep it around.  It should be good, considering it came from Michel Richard, of [enter some fancy restaurant in D.C.].  You can find the full recipe at Bon Appetit.

Healthy dinner fast!

Or, Breakfast for Dinner.

Or, How to Use Freezer-Burned Bluberries in Something Delicious.

Or, How to Show the World That You Don't Know How to Plate Food.

I just needed some food, in my stomach, preferably 10 minutes ago, because I needed to leave the house, oh... 5 minutes ago! In the bowl, we have red chard sauteed in Bacon (yes, I always capitalize Bacon, because... well, don't you know it is the most important food in your fridge?), with 2 fried eggs on top (this should have been on the plate). Salty, savory, and warm. On the plate, we have romaine with a balsamic-blueberry dressing and walnuts (this should have been in the bowl). Sweet, cool, and crunchy. And whatever other adjective I can think of to describe how careful you need to be while eating this over a white countertop, still wearing your work clothes. Will someone please come up with a word for that? I need to repeat it to myself slowly, ten times, while I wipe the counter down between hasty bites.


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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Out of season

Because this is what freezers are for!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dinner, done

Frenched lamb rack, olive oil, halved fresh tomatoes, and rosemary. Roast at 425 for half an hour, slice, and savor!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Scotch Eggs

Boiled eggs wrapped in sausage and baked. Classic English pub food. And it makes a hearty American breakfast too!

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Friday, January 20, 2012


Not quite guacamole, and not quite caprese salad either: tomato, avocado, and basil olive oil from Italy.

Livin' large, folks!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Treats!

I love getting packages in the mail... who doesn't? 

My brother and sister-in-law sent me some delicious home-canned items for Christmas.

Red pepper jelly and relish, two of my favorites. I sometimes eat relish right out of the jar (shh....).  And red pepper jelly is sweet and hot, good over cream cheese with crackers, or used as a glaze on a roast.  I can't wait to crack these babies open!

Tonight's Dinner

A mishmash of leftovers: green bell pepper and ham sauteed with butter and black pepper, then scrambled with 2 eggs; lemon-rooibos tea; and a green smoothie made of spinach, mango, and coconut milk.
Sounds good to me.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Shrimp Lo Mein

A healthy take on lo mein, with cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and almonds.  For most Asian foods, it's really important to get all of those annoying little ingredients prepared before you even get out your wok.

Shrimp Lo Mein
inspired by The Food Lovers' Primal Palate

1/4 c. raw almonds, chopped
3-4 Tb. toasted sesame oil
1 can water chestnuts, drained
3 stalks celery, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 c. broccoli florets, chopped (I peel the stems and throw those in too)
2-3 carrots, sliced into thin coins
1/2 lb. raw shrimp, tails on, thawed
3-4 green onion stalks, chopped (snip with scissors)
1 Tb. grated ginger
1 Tb. minced garlic
2 c. green cabbage, shredded
2-4 Tb. soy sauce (I used tamari; you can also use coconut aminos)
1 Tb. chili-garlic sauce (to taste)
4 Tb. sesame seeds

1. In a dry wok over medium-high heat, toast the chopped almonds 2-3 minutes until fragrant, stirring the whole time.  Set aside in a small bowl to cool.
2. Add the sesame oil to the wok, and after it has heated for a few seconds, add the water chestnuts, celery, broccoli, and carrots.  Stir-fry for 3 minutes.
3. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
4. Add the green onion, ginger, garlic, cabbage, soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
5. Finish with the almonds, sesame seeds, more toasted sesame oil, and a pinch of salt (if necessary).

***If you want to use a different protein (chicken, beef, etc.), you will need to stir-fry it first in the toasted sesame oil for 2 minutes before carrying on with Step 2.

Baked fruit

I came into possession of some dried goji berries -surprisingly tasty on their own- and have been trying to find ways to cook with them (so I don't just eat them all raw!). I tossed chopped apples, blueberries, and goji berries with lots of butter and spices, and baked it for about half an hour. It was delicious!

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