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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Keep Your Liberty... Just Give Me Tamarind-Chipotle Glazed Ribs!!!

Memorial Day... July 4th... Labor Day...

These holidays all have true cultural significance in American history, but well...
I ain't ashamed to say that mostly? To me? They mean BBQ RIBS!!!!

Call me callow, shallow, it's all true, I shall not deny it... in fact? I'll scour through the thesaurus and help you seek more pejoratives, if you like, so long as I can roast, glaze, and feast on the ribs of a sweet beast.

Now, sadly, I live in a tiny apartment in San Francisco - sans backyard, deck, or balcony where I can light a primal fire over wood and coals (or even a gas burner) and let voracious flames hungrily lick their way to barbecuing Nirvana... Nope. I have a galley kitchen with a tiny electric range, but that's not going to spoil my dreams of falling off the bone tender, charred star-glazed meat melting unctuously over my tongue. 

Okay so... the ribs...

You can use baby backs or St. Louis-style cuts...

Here is a helpful chart that distinguishes the various cuts:

Most cooks will tell you to remove the membrane beneath the bones, I don't bother... it is gelatinous enough and will melt... I slow-roast these, there is no boiling, no steaming, nothing violent or wet that will make the membrane tough. So let's see... after cleaning them with cider vinegar and a paper towel I season them with my secret spices and then add a splash of apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, avocado and olive oil, and massage it all into the meat... about an hour before cooking... I stick them in the preheated oven at 325 degrees in a shallow foil-lined pan for two hours... I baste them once with their own fat & juices & a splash of vinegar after the first hour, then a half hour later glaze them with secret sauce and then half an hour after that glaze them again with their fat & my secret sauce & let them rest for 15 minutes... I don't even have to broil them because I reduce the sauce to a glaze in the pan before anointing the ribs with it... they were so meaty... so succulent.... el esposo cried.

Tamarind-Chipotle Glazed Ribs

A few notes before you start: 

Take your ribs out and season them an hour before cooking. 
I usually cook a large 2-1/2 to 3 lb rack.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. You can, of course, put it in an even slower oven. I have cooked them in 250 degree heat, and that added an extra hour of time to the roasting, but I found no truly discernible difference, still, cooking is about experimentation so have fun and play.

Make your barbecue sauce. It is easy to do and so much more flavorful, plus you can then control the amount of sugar and sodium you add. The tamarind syrup, chipotle in adobo, and plum sauce are truly value add.

Roast the rack two hours with minimal fussing. You don't need to constantly baste it. Once after the first hours and then half an hour after that, and then at the end to glaze with the sauce. Rest them for 15 -20 minutes. Serve. Eat. Simple.


  • 1 2-1/2 to 3 lb rack of ribs

Dry Rub:

  • 2 TBS Garlic powder
  • 2 TBS Paprikon (Smoked Paprika)
  • 2 TBS Ground Cumin
  • 1 TBS Ground Coriander
  • 1 TBS Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 TBS Dried Oregano
  • A grating of fresh Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Clove (or Allspice)
  • 1 TBS of Brown Swerve or Monkfruit sweetener

Wet Marinade:

  • A few splashes of cider vinegar
  • A few splashes of extra virgin olive oil
  • A splash of low sodium soy sauce
  • A few sprays of avocado oil (or any other high flashpoint oil spray)

Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1 small onion, chopped into small dice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, minced into paste
  • 2 TBS of tamarind syrup (reduction of tamarind pulp)
  • 2 TBS of Chinese plum sauce
  • 1 TBS of hoisin sauce
  • 2 TBS of olive oil to saute the aromatics
  • 1 TBS of garlic-chili paste
  • 1 TBS of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup (or 3 oz of unsalted tomato paste)
  • 1 TBS of cumin
  • 1 TBS of Paprikon (smoked paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves or allspice


1) Remove ribs from fridge an hour before roasting and place them on a large shallow baking sheet lined with foil, bone side down

2) Clean ribs with a wet paper towel doused in cider vinegar and dry well.

3) Sprinkle the dry rub allover them, tops, sides and bottom

4) Whisk the first three ingredients of the wet marinade together, and then anoint the ribs with them, being sure to massage them well with the marinade... it should not be too wet, it should have a paste-like consistency when mixed with the dry seasonings

5) Spray the ribs allover with the avocado oil (or any equivalent neutral high flash point spray)

6) Set aside in a cool spot in your kitchen

While the ribs marinate, make your barbecue sauce:

1) Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat, add olive oil, when oil heats, add onions, saute until soft and golden

2) Add garlic and saute until aromatic do not let garlic become burnt and acrid

3) Add chipotles, and dry seasonings, saute until aromatic

4) Deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar, reduce by half

5) When balsamic vinegar reduces, add stock, ketchup, tamarind syrup and all the rest of the ingredients

6) Lower heat to a simmer and let reduce to a glaze, when reduced, set aside in a warm spot on the stove top until ready to glaze the ribs. If the glaze seems too thick, add more stock... a splash at a time until the right consistency is achieved... season to taste... remember to taste it as it cooks, only you can be the judge of whether or not it has enough sweetness, tartness, spiciness etc.

7) When the ribs have marinated, put them in the preheated 325 degree oven. Cook them undisturbed for an hour, then baste them thoroughly in their own pan juices and fat, and add a splash of cider & baste well, then leave them alone for the next 30 minutes, at the ned of that time, pull them out, thoroughly baste them with the pan drippings and a nice even layer of the barbecue sauce, return them to the oven for another 30 minutes...

8) At the end of two hours, glaze them once again with more sauce and pan drippings, turn off the oven and let them rest for 15-20 minutes... if you feel the glaze isn't lacquered enough, stick the ribs under the broiler for a minute or two...

Cut & serve with the extra barbecue sauce.

Rumbling With The Crumble The Ketolicious Way: Low Carb Gluten-free Blueberry-Lemon Cheesecake Bars with Pecan Crumbles

The carb count is much lower than the average dessert by substituting almond and coconut for wheat flour. I use Swerve ( a brand of Erythritol) both the "confectioners" and the "brown" version instead of sugar. The calorie count is high, of course. Full fat and lush this dessert does not sacrifice flavor or texture by eliminating carbohydrates. The crust is shortbread-like, the crumble melts and crunches... the cheesecake is dense and creamy and not too sweet.... the way my native NYC tastebuds prefer it. The blueberries add both texture and acidity ... absolutely refreshing and lovely. 

I'll skip my usual preamble and cut to the chase... those of you interested in learning a bit more about the ketogenic diet can check out this blog of mine where I do delve into the science of the diet, but let's just get cooking for now, shall we? 

Low Carb Gluten-free Blueberry-Lemon Cheesecake Bars
with Pecan Crumbles

Okay so... a few notes: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. The oven must be ready. 

Prepare a shallow 9" x 13" baking dish with a sheet of parchment paper
You can butter the parchment or spray it with a light cooking spray but that's not as essential as having that sheet of parchment for easy removal as well as to prevent sticking. (I used a Le Creuset stoneware baking dish which is finished with a porcelain enamel glaze, but a glass or aluminum dish is fine).

You need a food processor, and you won't even have to the wash the food processor between batches... all of your ingredients except the butter and the cream should be room temperature. Take out the eggs and cream cheese at least an hour before you intend to bake this. This will make the cream cheese whip up smooth and lovely... cold cream cheese is harder to work.

Remember, too, that the cheesecake requires at least 3 hours of refrigeration, preferably more before it's edible - and the prep and baking time is another hour or so... factor all this in... if you intend to eat it for breakfast? Make it the night before.

You are going to make the crust first, then blind bake it for 10-15 minutes (until it's a light golden brown and smells like shortbread)> otherwise you will have a soggy mess on your hands, instead of a lovely crisp crust.

Then, while the crust is baking, make the cheesecake batter, by the time the batter is mixed the crust will be done, and you can pour the cheesecake batter on the crust, plop the blueberries on top of that and then prepare the crumble topping.

The pecans should only go in the food processor at the very last second and should only be processed for two seconds or so, to mix it in without pulverizing them... you want them whole and crunchy for more texture.


Crust ingredients:

1-1/3 cups of fine almond flour
1/3 cup of coconut flour
1/3 cup of Swerve Confectioner's powder (which is Erythritol - a sugar substitute that measures 1:1 like regular sugar in baking, but doesn't get metabolized as sugar in the body, so it is said to have 0 calories - if you use a different sugar substitute you will have to look at the packet to see how much is equivalent to 1/3 cup of sugar)
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1 TBS of half and half (or heavy cream)

Crumble Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups of almond flour
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1/3 cup of Swerve "brown" sugar substitute (or 1/3 "Brown" Monkfruit sweetener)
4 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of half and half (or heavy cream)
1/3 cup of chopped pecans

Cheesecake batter

16 oz of full fat cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of Swerve Confectioners Powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Juice from half a lemon
2 large eggs at room temperature

10-12 oz of frozen blueberries or a pint of fresh



1) Combine the flours and the sugar substitute in the food processor until evenly distributed

2) Then add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, then, with the processor running on "Normal" - add the cream until the dough comes together in clumps...

Do not over process!

3) Dump the contents of the food processor onto the parchment-lined baking dish and begin pressing out to fill the bottom until it forms one thin well-integrated layer... if you find this challenging, get a rolling pin, pull the parchment paper with the dough out & roll it... remember it's okay if it breaks... you can easily stick it back together, then place the parchment with the dough back into the pan.

4) Bake the crust in the pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until its edges are golden and the crust is firm and aromatic. Now make the cheesecake batter.

Cheesecake batter:

1) Add the cream cheese and sour cream to the food processor, mix on high until light and smooth with no visible lumps

2) Add the confectioners powder to the batter... mix until well combined and fluffy

3) Add the vanilla and the lemon juice... mix it well

4) Add the eggs last because we don't want to overwork them... when you overbeat the eggs they stiffen the batter and cause it to crack when baking...

5) When the eggs are mixed in, pour the batter over the crust and plop blueberries atop... now at this point I usually take a 1/4 cup of blueberries and puree them with whatever batter is leftover in the food processor bowl, but swirl them into the batter before distributing the whole blueberries evenly over the cheesecake batter - but it's not essential...

6) Bake your cheesecake for 20 minutes before making the crumble topping and adding it.

Crumble topping:

1) Mix the flours and sugar substitute together with the cinnamon in the food processor

2) Add the butter cubes and pulse until mixture resembles coarse corn meal

3) With the processor running add the cream until it comes together into clumps. Do not overprocess

4) Turn off the processor, add the pecans, and pulses lightly just a few times to combine without pulverizing the pecans.

5) When the cheesecake has baked for twenty minutes, remove it from the oven, evenly distribute the crumble topping, then return the pan to the oven, lower the heat to 325 and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes.

6) When the cheesecake is done, turn off the oven, crack open the door with a wooden spoon, let cool for 30-45 minutes and then place in the fridge for 3-4 hours...


Now it's time for me to relax with a glass of wine, sit by my window, and enjoy our San Francisco Summer sunset. Ciao for now. Be safe! Eat Well! <3 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

"Fathead" Pizza Crust - The Ketolicious Way: 4 Cheese White Pizza w Spinach, Ricotta, & Prosciutto

"Happiness is just a matter of digestion"

~Lin Yutang

What is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is not a new fad trending on Instagram. The medical community has implemented it for nearly 100 years to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, especially in children. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkins cleverly adapted its strict adherence to very-low carbohydrates for the first two-week phase of his now iconic Atkins Diet for weight loss, after which dieters transitioned into a less restrictive protein and fat-rich regimen.

Essentially, the diet is designed to release ketones into the bloodstream. Shifting the consumption of energy from one kind of metabolic pathway to another. Most of our bodies' cells prefer to use glycogen (blood sugar) which comes from stored carbohydrates as the main source of energy to fuel our biological processes. When you restrict consumption of starches and sugar, the absence of circulating glucose in your body causes it to catabolize stored fats, breaking them down into molecules called ketone bodies. This process is called ketosis. Once you reach ketosis, your cells will exclusively use ketone bodies to generate energy until you start eating higher glycemic carbohydrates again.

It takes anywhere from two to seven days of eating fewer than 20-50 grams of carbohydrates a day to make this shift of primary energy source from sugar to ketones. Bear in mind, that there is no magic number of carbs that will guarantee this shift from sugar fuel to ketone fuel, the process is highly individualized and careful analysis of how many carbs you need to consume in order to remain in ketosis is part of the fun. Some people require an even more restricted diet to produce enough ketones as fuel. Generally speaking, you will be consuming 70 to 80% fat, 15 to 25% protein, and 5 to 10% of calories coming from carbohydrates.

There is much debate about the ideal ratio of macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbs) and there are many factors that can mitigate good results... for instance, some sources claim overconsumption of proteins can cause gluconeogenesis - i.e. the metabolic process responsible for turning proteins into glucose... a little gift from our forbearers. Glucose is the only energy source used by the brain (with the exception of ketone bodies), testes, erythrocytes, and kidney medulla. In mammals this process occurs in the liver and kidneys. If you consume too much protein on a ketogenic diet, your body may have an insulin response. This process inhibits the body’s ability to produce ketone bodies. The amount to which you need to limit your protein varies person to person and depends on many factors just like carbohydrates.

Good sources of fat on a ketogenic diet include coconut oil (because it’s high in medium chain triglycerides C8, C10, and C12), extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter, clarified butter, ghee, tallow, olives, walnuts, coconut, bacon, and bacon fat. Most of these are saturated, and they are less likely to be oxidized when cooked. Extra-virgin olive oil should be used on salads or in areas where it will not be cooked, as it is oxidized more easily. Avocado oil has a higher smoking point so it can be used with cooking. Quality of fats is extremely important because when fats are oxidized (meaning when they are heated to a certain temperature and they produce oxygen-reactive species) they can form free radicals that can oxidize LDL cholesterol, which in turn can damage our arteries’ lining and cause hardening of the arteries.

Achieving ketosis is an exercise in trial and error, and I am not here to advocate the diet;  although, I do eat this way, as does my husband. For those of you interested in trying the diet, or those of you who are just looking for less starchy, less sugary alternatives to replace some of your favorite dishes, I have opted to start posting a series of recipes based on the ketogenic diet, but it might be more accurate to simply call them "low carb" recipes since (although I use no starches, glutens, or sugars), I cannot attest with any true degree of accuracy or veracity that all of these recipes will fall exactly within the 70 to 80% fat, 15 to 25% protein parameters that constitute a true ketogenic meal.

The Fathead Pizza concept I have adapted was originally posted by a couple of food bloggers in June of 2013. You can find their fathead recipe here. It is made like a Sicilian pie, rectangular in shape with a bit thicker crust.

My version is gluten-free, fragrant with the lovely scent of yeasty goodness and truly delicious. You'll find the full recipe below at the end of the post along with ingredients and instructions, but I thought first I'd walk you through some steps. 

Notes: The crust itself is a simple affair. The dough comes together easily, though it is a bit sticky. It's comprised mostly of mozzarella cheese melted with a little cream cheese,  almond flour, yeast (solely for its inimical flavor, but not for rising, this dough won't rise...), baking powder, psyllium husk (to give the dough a semolina-like depth and texture), one whole beaten egg, olive oil and/or ghee for flavor and also to coat your hands when kneading. You'll need parchment paper to roll it out and bake it on, but the dough itself is pretty fool-proof and bakes to thin crisp foldable perfection like an actual slice of Neopolitan pizza. I have even made incredible Chicago-style pan pizzas with it (just adding a few minutes to the blind-baking time).  The pizza reheats beautifully, btw. Reheat it in a slow oven (350 degrees). for 3-5 minutes. You can microwave it for a minute, but it will lose its lovely crispness if you do.

It is vital that you have all your ingredients assembled and ready (making sure, for instance, that you preheat your oven first with your pizza stone or pan in it,  and then add warm water to your yeast in a tiny bowl that you set aside for 10 minutes until its foamy, have your egg at room temperature and beaten,  have your toppings all chopped and cooked if they require cooking, your dry ingredients mixed,  etc.) before melting the mozzarella and cream cheese together in the microwave in a large microwaveable bowl - a bowl large enough to eventually add the other ingredients and work the dough in.

Bear in mind, the cheese dough will harden if too cool and will be impossible to incorporate with the other ingredients, though, of course, should you find the cheese has congealed into hard unworkable cement, you can always reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds to make it more pliant and malleable. No fear here...

You must use regular grated mozzarella for the crust itself - do not use fresh mozzarella for the crust, it is far too wet. In fact, if you choose to use fresh mozzarella as a topping, I strongly recommend using sheets of paper towels to absorb all the excess liquid, lest the milky whey run all over your pizza crust and dampen it.

Naturally, y
ou can easily add any toppings you like. You can use a marinara sauce, sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni... anything and everything, so long as you cook whatever raw ingredients you choose beforehand. The baking time for the pizza is too short to add raw ingredients, unless, that is, you like raw food atop your crust, then by all means... indulge.

A  large classic silicon spatula, the kind you use to fold egg whites into mixtures with, is my tool of choice for combining the melted cheese with the other dough ingredients. It makes an enormous difference, because it really allows you to work the dough, pressing it out like the paddle of a mixer would without sticking to it, and, of course, you must use your well-oiled hands at the end to completely incorporate the dough's ingredients with a little kneading, before rolling - human hands are the greatest most sensitive tools of all. 

Roll the dough out between 2 pieces of parchment paper so it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin. Roll it out to about a 12-inch circle or a little larger if you like your pizza thinner and want to have rolled up crust ends like Neopolitan-style pizza. You must dock the crust... Poke the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Don’t forget this step or it will bubble up and make it very challenging for you to layer your toppings on it! 

hen you must blind bake the dough. Transfer the dough circle onto the preheated baking stone (WITH the parchment paper beneath) and bake until it’s starting to turn golden brown in spots, about 6 - 8 minutes. If using a cookie sheet instead of a baking stone, cook 8-10 minutes. Once again, this dough is sticky and if you bake it without parchment paper, it will turn your stone or pan into a gooey mess when you try to extract it. Do not use aluminum foil in lieu of parchment paper... the dough sticks to it... I learned this the hard way;)

Now add your toppings and cook the fully loaded pizza for another 8-10 minutes, or until your toppings are hot, the cheese sauce is set, and the fresh mozzarella is melted.

"Fathead" Pizza Crust 


Pizza Dough:

  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 ounce cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 large egg beaten, be sure egg is at room temperature
  • Avocado oil, olive oil, or ghee, for oiling your hands

Garlic Cream Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic crushed or minced
  • ounce cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    1 teaspoon fresh or dried parsley flakes


  • ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced, drained on paper towels
  • 6 ounces cooked spinach, sauteed in olive oil, drained on paper towels
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
    Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated to taste, for garnish (optional)
    4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto, for garnish (optional)
    red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)


  • For the pizza dough, preheat oven to 425F. If you have a baking stone, place it in the center of the oven to preheat.
  • Add the yeast and warm water to a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Whisk together the almond flour, psyllium husk powder, and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Make the garlic cream sauce. To do so, heat the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, ricotta, dried parsley flakes, and black pepper - whisking until the sauce is smooth. Cook over low heat. Reduce the sauce until it has thickened. Turn off the heat. 
  • Add the mozzarella and cream cheese to a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 60 seconds and then give it a stir, and continue microwaving in 20-second increments until the cheese is fully melted and combined when stirred. Stir the yeast mixture into the melted cheese until combined with a silicon spatula being sure to really work it in well, and then stir in the beaten egg until combined. Stir in the almond flour mixture until it forms a dough, pressing with the sides of the spatula.
  • Oil your hands and knead the dough a couple times until it comes together as a ball. Then flatten into a disc. 
  • Roll the dough out between 2 pieces of parchment paper to a 12-inch circle. Poke the dough in several places with a fork.
  • Transfer the dough circle with its parchment paper beneath it onto the preheated baking stone and bake until it’s starting to turn golden brown in spots, about 6 - 8 minutes. If using a cookie sheet instead of a baking stone, cook 8 - 10 minutes.
  • To make the pizza, leave the oven on 425F and leave the baking stone in the center of the oven.
  • Once the crust is pre-baked, spread the garlic cream sauce on top. 
  • Place your cooked spinach leaves, fresh mozzarella slice, and cherry tomatoes, arranging them decoratively on top
  • Slide the pizza onto the clay baking stone in the 425F oven and bake until the cheese is melted, and the cream sauce is set about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle grated parmigiano on top. Arrange prosciutto slices evenly & decoratively. I like to roll them, but you can do it any way you like. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and/or additional parsley. Slice with a pizza cutter into wedges. Mangia.