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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lemon Poppy Breakfast Biscuits

I am having a hard time finding pre-made low carb breakfast alternatives.  Eating Egg Beaters every day, regardless of how I gussy-up the concoction, is getting boring.  

So I turned to my trusty friend, the Internet, and found many good alternatives, including the recipe below adapted from the blog, alldayidreamaboutfood.com. 

All I can say is oooooh baby.  These little low-carb morsels of lusciousness are so incredibly good and at about 4.5 grams of carbohydrates, they definitely make the quick breakfast, low-carb cut!

Sorry Egg Beaters.

You can find almond flour and coconut flour in the organic section of most supermarkets or in Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.

Lemon Poppy Breakfast Biscuits

Ingredients
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used half sour cream and half cream cheese)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar or stevia
1 large egg, room temperature
Zest of one lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sweetener, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice and stevia extract. Beat in almond flour mixture until well combined.  Form by hand into 8 to 10 even balls. Flatten with the palm of your hand to about 1/2 inch thick circles. Bake about 20 minutes, until set and just barely brown around the edges. Remove and let cool on pan.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Greek Quiche With Artichokes, Kalamata Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Feta

For various and sundry reasons, Dinner Club has been meeting on Monday nights instead of Wednesday night for the past couple of weeks.

I feel like my circadian rhythms are all discombobulated, but it's nice to be together regardless of the day. 

Younger daughter has always wanted to go to Greece, and I don’t blame her.  It seems that visiting Greece may be a bit like traveling through time with its archaeological sites, museums and ruins scattered about the country.  Greek cooking also has long and deep roots that can be traced back 4,000 years. And, did you know, the first cookbook in history was compiled in Greece in 330 B.C.? 

The pure and simple combination of herbs, spices, fresh vegetables, cheeses and good olive oil typically evident in Greek fare are, however, subordinate to the social dimension of the dining experience and a movie that comically illustrates this is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. 

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s hysterical.  Basically, a girl, Toula Portokalos from a very traditional Greek family falls in love with — gasp — a Protestant boy named Ian Miller.  When Ian announces that he doesn’t eat meat, Aunt Voula retorts “What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Oh, that's okay. I make lamb.”

All this brings me to Greek inspired meal we had at C.’s house, who herself has visited Greece some years ago.  It was a delicious quiche made with Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, feta and artichokes.  Feta is a tangy, salty-brined cheese, made in Greece, that seems to make its way into all kinds of dishes, including desserts and one of the most delectable little triangles of goodness ever, spanakopita.  I toss it in salads and omelets and am never disappointed.

A bundt cake is the subject of another very funny exchange in the movie.  Ian’s parents were invited to the Portokolos house for dinner and when receiving the bundt cake from Mrs. Miller, Maria, Toula’s mother, looks at it skeptically.   Mrs. Miller explains “It’s a bundt.”  Maria, then tries many times, unsuccessfully, to say bundt and finally Aunt Freida whispers to her “It’s a cake.” Maria then says, very enthusiastically, “It’s a cake! I know! Thank you! Thank you very, very much.”  As Maria is walking away, she says to Aunt Freida, “There’s a hole in this cake!”

The cake is presented after dinner with a potted flower in the hole.

Without knowing what we were going to have for dinner, I made a Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake for dessert. I did not fill my cake’s hole with a flower but A. brought us each a little potted flower to celebrate spring!

Don't you just love when the universe lines up?!

Greek Quiche With Artichokes, Kalamata Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Feta
From:  cleaneatsfastfeets.com

Ingredients
1 pre-made pie crust
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Medium Red Onion
2 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Kalamata Olives, roughly chopped
1 cup Artichokes,marinated in oil, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup Milk
4 eggs
3 Tablespoons fresh Oregano
1/4 tsp .Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350. In medium saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil over and warm up on medium-high heat. Once warmed, add diced onions and cook until just starting to turn translucent, about 6 minutes. Add minced garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and let cook for a few minute longer. Remove from heat, add kalamata olives, artichokes and let rest.

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk and spices, salt and pepper in a small bowl.


Add the onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes mixture to the pie crust. Top with 1/2 cup feta cheese.  Pour egg and milk mixture over top, not worrying if everything is covered.  Bake until top just starts to turn golden brown, about 40-50 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread and a beautiful salad.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Turkey and Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion & Cumin

It was back to the Jerusalem cookbook this past week.  A. made Turkey and Zucchini Burgers, and just like everything else from this beautifully illustrated book, these little morsels are delicious.  I wanted seconds, but stopped myself and instead finished up the pappardelle that escorted the burgers to the table.  

Note the recipe calls for grated zucchini. 

I have a story about zucchini.  

I had lunch with a friend at V Street on 19th Street in Philadelphia.  V Street is a wonderful vegetarian restaurant that serves all kinds of delicious fare and, bonus, employs some of the friendliest most polite servers I have ever encountered.  

Anyway, I really wanted an item on the menu — Dan Dan Noodles — but it was pasta. I explained to the waiter that I was watching carbs and asked if he could suggest a yummy alternative.  He told me they could make the dish with zucchini pasta. Hmmmm, that sounds interesting, and let me tell you, the dish was not only scrumptious but also game-changing.  I got to thinking….I have a tool to make veggie pasta, a Veggetti, that I unearthed during my recent basement excavation. So I whipped it out and am starting to experiment as part of my low-carb extravaganza.  

If you have not seen the infomercials for the Veggetti, let me explain.  First, there are two versions, a fancy crank model and the more modest hand-held version.  I have the latter that I purchased at Target for $10 in the “As Seen on TV” isle.  Basically, you hold the Veggetti over a bowl, insert your vegetable of choice (typically carrots, zucchini, parsnips, potatoes or cucumbers), and twist the vegetable clockwise against the blades.  This action produces the most delicious little ribbons of pasta that you either boil or sauté and top with you favorite sauces.  

Sorry to digress from the delectable turkey burgers but I just had to tell you my zucchini story.  Oh, and the sauce that accompanies this dish can be served on top of anything.  It would be wonderful dolloped on a baked sweet potato or grilled chicken!

Turkey and Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion & Cumin
From:  Jerusalem Cookbook

Burgers
1 lb ground turkey
1 large zucchini, grated
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons chopped mint
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
 ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sunflower oil for searing, about 6 Tablespoons

Sour Cream & Sumac Sauce
½ cup sour cream
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 ½ Tablespoons olive
1 Tablespoon sumac or za’atar which can be found in a Mediterranean food store
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

First, make the sauce by mixing all ingredients together, stir well and chill until needed.

Preheat the over to 425°.  In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the burgers except the sunflower oil. Mix with your hands and then shape into 18 burgers, each weighing about 1 ½ oz.
Pour enough sunflower oil into a large frying pan to form a layer on the bottom of the pan.  Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the burgers in batches on all sides.  Don’t crowd the burgers, they won’t brown properly.  Add more oil as needed until all burgers are golden brown. 

Transfer the seared burgers to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  Serve warm with the sauce spooned over or on the side. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce and Apple Balsamic

A few years ago each of us bought the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and for the next several months, a meal from the popular publication graced our Dinner Club tables.  C. hosted an entire New Year’s dinner inspired by the delights.

Last week was a M. kind of week.  First, it was her turn to cook dinner for the crew, then she hosted a birthday dinner for Mr. M. featuring the NYTimes Guinness Cake as the finale, a true masterpiece….and quite tasty.

The recipe that M. prepared for Dinner Club was not from our trusty favorite, Jerusalem, but from a later cookbook, NOPI, written by one of the Jerusalem chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi and head chef of the London restaurant with the same name, Ramael Scully.

Many cooks have grown to love the striking, exotic, aromatic and flavorful simplicity of other Ottoglenghi recipes but this new book looked a little intimidating.  So, I decided to read the cookbook reviews of Nopi and one review states…“the book even begins with a disclaimer from Ottolenghi, who writes ‘most of the recipes here will be more challenging for most home cooks.’”

Well M. was not deterred.  She turned to page 18 and whipped up the recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce and Apple Balsamic.  And, if that weren’t enough, she grilled shrimp to serve along side.

Then, later that week, the birthday Guinness Cake. Sigh.

Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce and Apple Balsamic
By: NOPI

Romesco Sauce
1 dried ancho chile soaked in water for 30 minutes, drained, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 oz. whole almonds, toasted
1 3/4 oz crustless sourdough bread, cut into cubes
3 medium plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon of good quality sherry vinegar
5 teaspoons of olive oil
I medium red chile, seeded and coarsely chopped

Asparagus
2 1/4 lbs asparagus, woody ends trimmed
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 oz sliced almonds, toasted
Coarse sea salt and black pepper

Place all ingredients for the romesco sauce in a small bowl, along with 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.  Stir well, cover, then leave in the refrigerator to marinate for 4 hours, or preferably, overnight.  Transfer to a food processor and blitz to form a paste.  Place in a small plan and warm through just before serving. 

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil and add the asparagus.  Blanch for 1-2 minutes, until a dente, then drain and refresh under cold water.  Set aside to dry.

Place the balsamic vinegar, apple juice and sugar in a small pan and place over high heat.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by half and has a thick, sticky consistency.  

Place a ridged grill pan over high heat.  Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt and grill for 1-2 minutes so both sides get scorched.  Plate the asparagus, either on a bed of the romesco sauce or with the sauce on the side, and drizzle the balsamic mix over the asparagus.  Wonderful served with grilled shrimp or chicken.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chicken Francaise

Perhaps you have a profile on Facebook.  If so, like me, you receive posts from old friends, new friends, work friends, friends of friends, famous people who are not really friends but are kinda like friends because you follow them, and George Takei.  And, also like me, you have probably “liked” various home improvement, self improvement, motivational, retailer, museum, garden center, community theatre and recipe-sharing pages.

I’d like to talk about the recipe-sharing pages. I really only follow a few, because I see the posts of my many friends, acquired through the circumstances mentioned above, and I react — with the new Facebook emoticons — to the mini-videos of recipes that pique my interest.  Like the Chicken Francaise recipe that appeared on www.recipe30.com.

Did you know most cooking for those videos is done on a little table-top burner?

So, the history of Chicken Francaise is a bit interesting, because the dish appears to be French but is commonly associated with Italian cuisine.  As the story goes, back during the 1939 World’s Fair, the light, white and airy cuisine served at a newly-opened French restaurant dethroned the very popular saucy, starchy, heavier, Italian classics.  An Italian chef, who was not happy about the usurping, decided to create a lighter, buttery, French-like dish to lure people back to Italian fare.  That dish was Chicken Francaise, meaning “chicken in the French manner,” made with white wine, chicken broth, garlic and butter. 

Very adaptable, like many other Italian dishes, you can substitute veal or shrimp with this classic and because it is lighter, enjoy it with a dry white wine or a light red, like Pinot Noir.  

I tweaked the recipe below a little after reading some other versions (thank you Rachel Ray!).  Also, this recipe doubles easily! I served a side of risotto with green peas.

Fairly easy, so delicious and a little fancy-pants.    

Chicken Francaise 
Adapted from www.recipe30.com

INGREDIENTS 
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (I used Purdue thin-sliced chicken breasts)
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup white wine (don’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink!)
1 cup chicken stock
3 garlic cloves, peeled and passed through garlic press
Olive oil to coat the plan, more if needed as you proceed
4 tbsp butter, 2 of which coated with flour (the flour will help thicken the sauce)
1 lemon, cut in half.  Cut one half into slices.
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
Butterfly cut your breast (open the breast like a book). Place cling film on a board, add your breast spread open, sandwich it in cling film and flatten using the flat side of a meat mallet or the underside of a saucepan.  You can also place the breast in a ziplock bag before pounding or buy the Purdue thin-sliced breasts.

Crack the eggs into a dish large enough to fit chicken breast.  Season eggs with salt and pepper, give them a light beat. Chop the parsley (keep a few sprigs for garnish) and add half to egg wash.  Add the Parmesan cheese to egg-wash, mix well.

Add the plain flour to a plate.  Toss 2 pats of the butter in the flour and set aside.  To a frying pan on moderate heat, add the olive oil and the uncoated butter pats. Coat the chicken in the flour, shake off any excess flour.  Dip the chicken in the egg wash, make sure it's totally covered and place in hot oil and cook for about 4 minutes each side (depending on thickness).  Flip over once brown and cook the other side.Transfer chicken to a hot plate and rest.

To the same frying pan on full heat, brown the lemon slices.  Then, carefully add the white wine, crushed garlic, squeeze of the other half of the lemon, chicken stock, the remainder of chopped parsley, the flour-coated butter and reduce for 2 minutes on full heat.  Return the chicken to the sauce and continue heating chicken on medium heat. Plate the chicken, and reduce the sauce until it looks a little thicker (not too thick) and pour over the chicken.