Low Carb Salmon

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is definitely one of my go-to low carb meals. In addition to missing the carbs, it's low fat and very filling. I got the inspiration from Andrew's salmon recipe. This is a great meal to prepare quickly with ingredients you have on hand, and is sure to be a go-to meal for you too.

This meal in its entirely, never misses the carbs and is sure to be a go-to meal for your household too.

Oven-Poached Salmon with Garlic Crust, Green Veggies and Spinach-Citrus Salad

half a side of salmon (skin on the bottom)
black pepper
1 tbsp butter, softened (to the point where it's easily spreadable)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced into a paste
1 bag favorite frozen green vegetables (I use green beans often)
1 bag spinach (ready rinsed)
1 orange, segmented and juice reserved
1/4 cup toasted almonds
olive oil
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Take a baking sheet and line it completely with aluminum foil. Place the salmon, skin-side down in the middle of the baking sheet. Smear on the butter to give an even coating on the top. Season with salt and black pepper. Then spread out the garlic "paste" on top as well. Cover completely with aluminum foil, creating a "tent" - try not to let the aluminum foil actually touch the top of the salmon, so "tent" around it. Make sure sides are securly closed so no steam can escape. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove foil and check for doneness. If firm to the touch it is ready, so remove immediately. If not, let stand another 3-5 minutes uncovered. Remove and cut proportionately.

While the salmon is baking, place your frozen vegetables in a microwave safe glass container and cook according to instructions (usually must cook for 5-6 minutes).

While vegetables are cooking, prepare salad. In a glas bowl add spinach and orange segments. In a small bowl combine about a 1/4 cup olive oil and the juices from the orange. Mix until emulsified. Right before dinner is served, poor the vinaigrette on top of the spinach and orange and toss gently, careful not to bruise the spinach. Top with the toasted almonds and crumbled feta.

To serve:
Place a piece of salmon on a plate and garnish with vegetables (can season vegetables as desired - I prefer a smimple sprinkling of salt and pepper). Serve the salad in a bowl on the side. A great drink is a pomegrante soda or lemonade.

Low Carb Huevos Rancheros

A great meal for breakfast, but hearty enough for a lighter dinner, Huevos Rancheros is always a favorite meal of mine to order out. But sometimes I make it at home, especially if I have left-over black beans from the previous night's meal.

Low Carb Huevos Racheros
1 small onion - 3/4 chopped finely, 1/4 chopped roughly and placed in a glass bowl for salsa
2 roma tomaotes - chopped
1 jalepeno pepper - seeded and minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced - one for the beans, one for the salsa
handful of cilantro
black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 small bay leaf
splash of white vinegar or lime juice
olive oil
1 can black beans (with juice)
4 eggs

For the Beans:
In a pan, heat about 1 tbsp olive oil. Saute the 3/4 onions until just begins to soften and become transulent - about 5 minutes on low heat. Add the one garlic clove and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant - about 30 seconds. Add black beans with sauce and all (no need to drain), and using the same can, about half of that can of regular water. Add bay leaf and cumin and let cook about 20 minutes uncovered on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has reduced and the beans are very soft and tender, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add a splash of vinegar or juice of lime and set aside, keeping warm.

For the Poached Eggs:
While beans are cooking, set a small saucepan filled 3/4 of the way full with water to a low boil. Careful not to bring the water to a full boil - just to simmering. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and add a cracked egg gently into the water. Crack the egg into a small glass dish to make it easier. Let stand in the water until just firmed, about a minute. Remove with slotted spoon, careful not to break the yoke, and drain well of water. Place on aluminum-lined baking sheet or directly onto meal.

For the Salsa Fresca:
While the beans are reducing and the water is heating, make salsa. In a glass bowl combine the remainder 1/4 onion, tomatoes, 1 garlic clove (minced), jalepeno and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lime if you have it around. (can substitute lemon, but lime really tastes better). Combine well and set aside.

For the Huevos Rancheros:
On a plate or in a shallow bowl, place a layer of black beans. Add a spoonful of salsa fresca on top, and then gently place the poached egg on top of that. You can garnish with finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese or mexican cheese on top, letting it fall around to the sides. Top with more salsa if desired, and sprig of cilantro. Add a lime wedge to the side for whoever wants a fresh squeeze of lime.

Serve hot.

None-low carb version - place a fried corn tortilla on the botttom of the plate, layering beans, etc. on top as described above.

Irish Stew

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On our honeymoon to Ireland, I picked up a couple of traditional Irish cookbooks and have been making this delicious and simple stew ever since. It's very easy to prepare and gets your house smelling so good, especially comforting on a cold or rainy day in winter. I know you'll enjoy it as much as my family has.

Irish Stew
about a pound of beef stew meat (found in your meat department or butcher)
1 medium-large white onion, chopped
1 large celery stalk (or 2 smaller ones), chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 can Boddington's or Guinness
1 cup beef broth
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
freshly ground black pepper
vegetable or olive oil
couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
mashed potatoes - for garnish*

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, season the beef liberally with salt and pepper. Heat about a tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the beef until nice crust forms on all sides, but no need to completely cook through as meat will be returned back to stew later. Once browned, remove the beef onto a plate with slotted spoon. Lower heat to medium-low. Add a teaspoon of butter or oil and sautee the onion, celery and carrots until just beginning to get tender - about 5 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and combine well, so the vegetables get coated. Add the ale and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. The sauce will begin to thicken from the flour, so make sure there are no lumps (use a whisk if necessary). Add the beef broth and combine well. Add the bay leaf, thyme and beef back into the stew.

Cover with the lid and place in oven for about 2 - 2.5 hours to slowly stew. Give an occasional stir once an hour and to check on seasoning. Add water if too salty (salt will depend on the broth you're using), and add more salt or pepper to taste.

Once the vegetables and beef are fork tender and the sauce has thickened, take out of oven. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

How I serve it:
I take a bowl and spoon a good portion of mashed potatoes to the side of it. Then I ladle the stew right next to the poatoes so they can absorb the stew as well. This is how I had it in Ireland. Then I sprinkle the whole dish (potatoes too!) with finely chopped parsely.

Serve hot with a cold pint of Boddington's or Guinness and enjoy the comfort of Irish food.

*Michelle's Basic Mashed Potatoes
2 Russett potatoes, peeled and cubed 1-inch
cream or half n half

In a pot, place cut potatoes in cold water and set to boil. When water begins to boil, add a big pinch of salt. Boil potatoes about 25 -30 minutes or until potatoes are very fork tender. Remove and drain very well. Return the potatoes back to the pot they boiled in (now drained of water) and set on very low flame. Let any remaining water evaporate for 20 seconds, then begin mashing potatoes with fork or potato masher. Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter (to taste) and a good splash of cream - the more cream you add, the thinner the mashed potato, so do it to your liking. Stir well and serve hot.

Fire Roasted Guacamole

Monday, March 9, 2009

I love playing around with classic dishes and updating them with a new spin. I had a bunch of peppers in my fridge that really needed to be cooked this past weekend, so I decided to fire roast them on a nice charcoal grill. I threw in scallions, my new favorite "grillable" and this recipe sort of developed from there.

I'm very pleased with the results and am anxious for anyone willing to try it at home and give me some feedback. I think the balance of the sweet peppers, caramelized onions, smokey charcoal and heat from the jalapenos add a new and unexpected twist to the traditional avocado - all without compromising the integrity of the avocado and like a good friend, bolstering it instead of overpowering it. The recipe is fluid, so please adjust spice, salt, and acid to your taste. I must caution I like things on the spicier side, so perhaps one jalapeno will do it for most of you out there.

Please let me know what you think!

Fire Roasted Guacamole

2 poblano peppers
2 hungarian peppers
3 jalapeno peppers
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cleaned
1 small white onion, peeled and cut into thick 1 inch rings
vegetable oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1 large, ripe avocado

Place the poblano, hungarian and jalapeno peppers, scallions and white onion slices into a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vegetable oil to just cover, but not drench and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

On a charcoal fire with high heat, roast the peppers, scallions and onion until well charred on all sides. Be careful to turn often enough to not blacken completely - just char nicely on all sides. Remove and let cool until comfortable to handle with hands. Let fire stand uncovered.

Once cooled, discard the stems of the peppers and seeds. Taste a small sample of the jalapenos and determine degree of heat - if very hot flesh, then discard all seeds and ribs inside; if not that spicy, then consider keeping some seeds and ribs to heat tolerance. Roughly chop the peppers, scallions, onion, and garlic cloves and place in food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped but still chunky. While on, slowly stream in olive oil to make a paste consistency. Spoon out into a larger glass bowl.

Cut the avocado in half (leaving the skin on) and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Grill on the same charcoal fire you grilled the peppers on - at this point the fire should be died down to a medium/med-high heat. Grill (skin side up) about four minutes until a good, black char develops and the avocado is warm. Yes - the avocado is almost starting to "cook" and that's ok.

Take off the heat immediately and scoop out the flesh into the bowl with the pureed roasted pepper and onion mixture. Add lemon juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste, and combine well.

Serve warm as a condiment or dip with warmed tortilla chips.

Serving Suggestions:
Top on thinly sliced carne asada, shredded lettuce and monterey jack cheese for a great taco.
Use as a dip with fresh homemade cumin-dusted tortilla chips.
Use as a pesto for crostini with shaved Parmesan or cool buffalo mozzarella.
Add as a topping to a slice of grilled chiabatta bread, layer of thinly sliced steak, topped with poached egg for an updated take on Eggs Benedict.

Quick Berry Cupcakes

Friday, March 6, 2009

Normally I prefer to make a cake or cupcake recipe from scratch (none of that cake box mix stuff), but I find myself increasingly dependent on such shortcuts since having two babies.

I wanted to make cupcakes for Andrew to take to work, to continue my experiment on what works/what doesn't for my cafe I will open...one day... (sigh)... and so felt like having a Berry Cupcake. Haven't really seen those much. The chocolate/vanilla/red velvet has been done, but sometimes I feel like something lighter and fruitier.

So came up with this recipe I thought worked really well, and I'm happy with the results:

Berry Cupcakes
1 box strawberry cakemix
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup strawberry, apple or raspberry juice (or combination of those)
1 1/2 cans prepared classic white frosting
1/4 cup raspberry jam
the juice of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if using dark metal pans).

Line muffin tins with cupcake liners, and brush top of baking pan with vegetable oil to prevent any tops sticking to it if they overflow.

In a large mixing bowl, beat with handheld electric mixer (with beater attachments) the cakemix, eggs, vegetable oil and juice. [the juice is replacing the water ingredient as suggested on the cake preparation on the back of the box.] Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and bake for 17 -20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Take out of tins and stand to cool completely (as applying frosting to even warm cupcakes will melt the frosting and cause it to goop all over the sides).

While cupcakes are cooling, combine the white frosting, raspberry jam and lemon juice in a large bowl and mix to combine. Careful not to over mix - a pretty presentation is if some white frosting runs through it and it's not totally and completely combined. If frosting gets too soft, refridgerate for 10 minutes before frosting the cupcakes. Frost the cupcakes generously and make decorative peaks at the top if desired. Garnish with a slice of strawberry or 1 whole raspberry.

Tip: If you're planning to transport these somewhere, then place on large cooking sheet and place a toothpick in every other cupcake, creating an elevated carpet on which plastic wrap or aluminum foil can rest. This way, you avoid getting the tops and frosting messed up when you cover. And refridgerate at least an hour before transporting, so as to harden the frosting and making it less likely to melt in the car or be disturbed by movement.