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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Oven-Braised Beef Bottom Round Roast with Shiitakes and Leeks; Pureed Romanesco with Garlic, Chives, Ricotta and Horseradish


There is nothing like a fragrant cauldron of yummy goodness simmering away in your oven for a few hours whilst you are hunkered down at home in the winter on an inclement day during the Time of the Corona to give you a sense of solace. So I present a little sloooow-roasted oven-braised beef pot roast with shiitakes and leeks served alongside pureed romanesco with garlic, chives, ricotta and horseradish for your cooking consideration...


Braising is cooking with a combination of moist and dry heat in a covered pot. This works best for tough meats. It’s amazing how a gristly cheap cut of meat transmogrifies under the alchemy of heat and time. The name of the technique comes from the French word braiser, referring to the original method that involved cooking meat in a covered vessel set on a bed of hot, glowing coals (braises). Hot coals were also piled on top of the lid so the meat would cook evenly. What could be more primal? Now, of course, it means cooking food in a small amount of liquid in a covered pot over a bare simmer.

Adding aromatics, vegetables, and herbs when braising gives both the meat and the accompanying sauce much needed flavor and aroma. Braising can be done on your stovetop, in a slow cooker or in the oven, depending on your equipment. Oven-braising is my preferred method. Low and slow is the mantra for this method. Because braising is a mixture of temperature, time, moisture, you’ll achieve the best results by cooking your meat for longer periods of time (think 2-6 hours depending on the cut and the size of the roast) and at a low temperature (200-250 degrees F - the liquid should remain at a bare simmer throughout the braising process). Braising breaks down collagen, an elastic connective tissue found in all muscles to varying degrees. Acting like a thin translucent sheath, collagen surrounds muscle fibers, providing structure and support. The more hard-working a muscle is, the more collagen it requires to do its job. Raw, tough cuts of meat are near-impossible to chew because collagen binds muscle fibers together in tight bundles. Cooking breaks down this elastic collagen, dissolving it into soft, melt-in-your-mouth gelatin. Without their elastic sheaths, the fiber bundles literally fall apart, resulting in fork-tender meat. Newly formed gelatin melts away into the sauce, adding a velvety mouthfeel and unctuousness to the braising liquid. This newly formed gelatin also explains why braising liquids form a gel upon cooling.

The real key to braising is adding the right amount of liquid so that the moisture and heat continue working together to tenderize the meat. Too much liquid will dilute the favor of the sauce and it will boil which will toughen the fibers. Too little and (depending on which kind you use) your aromatics will burn adding a caustic flavor and the meat may dry out as well. I typically add no more 1-1/2″ liquid in the bottom of the pan. Most of the roast should be above liquid. The liquid from the meats and vegetables will contribute even more liquid volume as the dish cooks. For best results, use flavorful liquids such as wine, soy sauce sauce, stock, cream, pureed tomatoes.

Before you start cooking the meat, be sure to remove it from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking, pat it dry with paper towels. This helps it brown more evenly and keeps it from boiling instead of searing. Season it with a spice rub or a simple sprinkling of salt and pepper works great, too, for those of you who prefer less assertive flavors. I use more exotic seasonings because I know the long slow simmer will temper their taste. Preheat your oven. Then prepare your mise-en-place by gathering and chopping all the aromatics and vegetables you intend to use. Have all and any fats and liquids you want to use handy, as well.

Most every braising recipe calls for browning the meat on all sides, usually over medium-high heat in a heavy dutch oven, until it develops a golden brown crust. 5 minutes per side is usually ample. You will then remove the meat, placing it on a cutting board or dish, keeping it in a warm spot and add the aromatics to the pot, sauteing them in fat until they start to soften, then you deglaze the pan with your liquid(s) of choice, scraping up the browned bits known as pan fond and incorporating them into the sauce, then you place your meat & any accumulated juices back in the pot, anointing it with a bit more fat (I like to add dabs of butter and splashes of cream), place a tightly fitting lid over it, and place it in the center of the oven to cook. Generally, for a tough cut of meat like a chuck roast, short ribs, or a bottom round, it is about an hour-an hour and 15 minutes per pound in a 200 -250 degree F oven - turning the meat once half-way through its cooking time. You'll know when the meat is done because it will give in when prodded by a pair of tongs, and appear to be falling apart - if it offers any resistance to touch, it needs more cooking time. 

As per usual in any non-baking recipe, you can substitute the seasonings and other ingredients pretty freely, or omit what you don't like. I don't use a roux as a thickener, nor do I dust the meat with flour because we are keto in this household, but if you're not eschewing carbs, by all means do so.  Or you can simply remove the meat when it's done and reduce the jus in the pot until it is the consistency you like. A dab of creme fraiche or sour cream will also thicken it, but el esposo prefers a saucier sauce so I didn't. Cauliflower or broccoli make great low-carb options to use as substitutes for the romanesco, I chose ricotta as the cheese because it's what I needed to use, but gruyere, chevre, anything you like would be nice, I'm sure. I use a shallow 14" Le Creuset enamel-coated cast iron braiser that I have had for 15 years, but a Dutch oven will be fine - just don't feel tempted to fill it with too much liquid. I use an immersion blender to puree the romanesco, it is an indispensable tool & so inexpensive, but you can use a blender, processor, food mill, or even a potato masher.  This dish will serve 4 easily. 


Oven-Braised Beef Bottom Round Roast with Shiitakes and Leeks; Pureed Romanesco with Garlic, Chives, Ricotta and Horseradish



Ingredients:

For The Beef
  • 2 lbs of beef bottom round roast, whole
  • a couple of pinches of porcini powder (I use this one)
  • freshly milled black pepper, to taste
  • 1 packet of Sazon, optional
  • teaspoon of paprika
  • olive oil to lightly coat bottom of braising pan
  • 3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 3 sprigs of fresh marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large leek, cleaned of debris & sliced into large coins
  • 1/2 of 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of chef's knife & minced
  • sliced shiitakes mushroom, 1 cup
  • sliced crimini mushrooms, 1 cup
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into large chunks
  • 1 TBS of tomato paste (or ketchup)
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of Pinot Noir (or any good dry red wine you're drinking)
  • 1 cup of stock - beef, chicken, or vegetable
  • 2 TBS of butter
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream


For The Pureed Romanesco
  • 1 large head of Romanesco, chopped into large florets
  • olive oil to lightly coat bottom of pan
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 2 TBS. butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium stock
  • 1/4 cup of cream or half and half
  • 1/4 cup of ricotta
  • horseradish, to taste (I used a tablespoon)
  • freshly milled pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste (I didn't use any)
  • chopped chives, to taste 






Instructions:


For The Beef: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Remove roast from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking, clean and pat dry with a paper towel, then season with freshly milled black pepper, porcini powder, paprika, and Sazon. (If you are using Sazon or any other seasoning salt, you won't need additional salt). Set aside for .
  2. Prepare all your veggies and aromatics. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large braising pan over medium high heat, coat the pan with a light film of olive oil, when oil is hot, sear roast on all sides one side at a time for 5 minutes per side without disturbing the roast.
  4. Remove meat from braising pan, keeping in a warm spot, then add the leeks, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add more oil if needed. Saute until aromatics and vegetables soften - do not brown them. When aromatics are softened, add soy sauce, stirring in well, then add tomato paste, stirring in well, and coating all the aromatics well... letting the tomato paste cook until it loses its raw look. 
  5. Then deglaze pan with wine, scraping up all and any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, when wine cooks down about half way, add stock, herbs (oregano, marjoram, bay leaf), stir in well, then place meat and any accumulated juices back in pan, coating the meat on all sides with the sauce.
  6. Add the zucchini, if using, bring pan back up to a boil, add butter and cream on top of the roast, fit tightly with lid and place in the center of the oven for two and half to three hours, turning roast once halfway through cooking time. Meat is done when it gives in easily to the touch and is almost falling apart. 
  7. Remove pan from oven, let rest for 10 minutes covered, then remove meat from pan, slice and serve on warmed plates with mushroom sauce and pureed romanesco (or whatever sides you choose).



For The Romanesco:
  1. Heat a deep sauce pan over medium heat, add olive oil to coat pan, when pan is hot add the garlic and saute until fragrant (about 45 seconds). Add romanesco florets and 1 tablespoon of butter, mixing well with the garlic, season with freshly milled black pepper to taste. Saute for 2-3 minutes until romanesco caramelizes slightly, careful not to let the garlic burn as you do.
  2. Add cream and stock to romanesco mixture and cover tightly with lid until romanesco is soft & breaks apart easily with a wooden spoon (7-10 minutes). Check pot occasionally for liquid, if it gets too dry to fast, you may need to add more stock or cream, but ideally the romanesco will absorb all the liquid without need for more.
  3. When romanesco is cooked, remove from heat, and blend with an immersion blender directly in the pot. Just be sure the blender's blades are below the surface or else you will be wearing pureed romanesco. When smooth, add ricotta and horseradish and blend in well with the blender. 
  4. When puree is the consistency you like, finish with black pepper, chopped chives, and the last tablespoon of butter, stirring it all in with wooden spoon. Serve. 








Sunday, January 17, 2021

Braised Chicken in a Tarragon-Fourme d’Ambert Bleu-Mascarpone Cream Sauce with a Pan-seared Brussel Sprouts, Nutmeg, Walnuts, Garlic, Meyer Lemon, White Truffled Concoction;)

 




This dish isn't very fussy. This creamy keto-friendly chicken, known as “Poulet à l’Estragon”, is a simple one-pan recipe that’s both comforting and fresh tasting. Chicken thighs are first browned and braised in aromatics, chicken stock and white wine for a melting tenderness. Cream is then added for extra body and richness. But it’s really the fresh tarragon, a staple herb in French cooking with its assertive aniseed-like notes, that gives the distinctive flavor to this unique dish.  It is stellar over pasta or egg noodles, if you are gluten eating, or over zoodles or shirataki fettuccini if you are keto... but I used Brussel Sprouts seasoned with grated nutmeg, Meyer lemon and walnuts (recipe included below) which also absorbed a little of the tarragon cream sauce when plated which was huge value add. If you don't have mascarpone, you can sub in creme fraiche or even heavy cream - though if you use heavy cream you'll have to reduce the sauce a bit. The mascarpone adds a subtle hint of sweetness that's lovely with the tarragon and complements the subtle bite and earthy tones of the blue cheese. Not a fan of blue cheese? Sub in parmesan instead. It'll be still be delicious. 



Braised Chicken in a Tarragon-Fourme d’Ambert -Mascarpone Cream Sauce





Ingredients:

  • 1 large oven-proof 14-inch braising pot (I use an enamel-coated cast-iron Le Creuset that I've had for eons)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed with flat of a knife, then minced
  • 6 sprigs of fresh tarragon, leaves stripped and finely chopped - plus more for garnish (You can use dried but if you do, just use about a teaspoon or so - dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor)
  • porcini powder (optional - you can grind up any dried mushrooms in a coffee bean grinder or sub paprika or skip altogether, it’s just to season the chicken with before sautéing)
  • 2 ounces of Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese (you use any good quality blue - just be sure it's soft - none of the pre-crumbled stuff)
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine (I use what I'm going to drink that night)
  • 1 cup of chicken stock ( I use organic, low-sodium store-bought )
  • olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan)
  • 2 heaping TBS of mascarpone
  • 1 heaping TBS of sour cream
  • 2 TBS of unsalted butter (never use salted butter - it's quality is usually inferior and it doesn't allow you to control how much salt you're adding to a dish)
  • salt & pepper to taste ( I grind the pepper coarsely & grate salt from this huge hunk of Pink Himalayan salt I've had for 13 years!)






Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and porcini mushroom powder
  3. Put braising pan (or dutch oven) over medium heat, when hot add oil and butter,
  4. Sauté the aromatics (leeks, garlic, shallots) until soft and fragrant, then push them to the outer edges of the pan (or remove them while searing the chicken)
  5.  Turn up the heat to medium high, add a bit more oil if pan is dry, sear the chicken on both sides for 5 minutes per side without disturbing the chicken to insure a good crust (though you may stir the aromatics along the edges if you leave them in the pan)
  6. Deglaze with wine, scraping up all the pan fond,
  7. Add the broth, add the tarragon leaves, stir everything in well, bring to a boil
  8. Then cover with a tightly fitting lid & stick it in the oven for an hour.
  9. When the chicken is tender, you remove it from the oven, stir in the cheese and the creams until melted and well-incorporated
  10. Serve in a heated dish with whatever you like on the side...
  11. This dish is stellar over pasta or egg noodles. If you are gluten eating, or zoodles or shirataki fettuccini if you are keto, or you can serve it like I did with simply sauteed Brussel sprouts 








Sautéed Brussels Sprouts





I kept the seasonings minimal because I was serving the sprouts with the Tarragon Chicken, but if you are serving them with something less highly flavored, you can add bacon, pancetta, cheese, herbs, sriracha... the add-ons are endless. Adding chopped fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro or mint and a handful of Parmesan feta, or goat cheese at the end is grand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & black pepper, to taste
  • The juice from half a Meyer Lemon (these lemons are spectacular, sweeter and more herbaceous than your average lemon, but sub in regular lemon juice or even balsamic vinegar if you prefer)
  • 1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • grating of nutmeg
  • 1/2 a handful of chopped walnuts (or almonds, or pecans or hazelnuts... whatever nut you like)
  • White truffle oil, to taste






Instructions:

  1. Heat a large cast iron or similar sturdy bottomed skillet over medium high for 4 minutes. Add the oil. As soon as the oil is hot and shining (but before it starts smoking), swirl to cost the pan, then add the halved Brussels sprouts.
  2. Shake the skillet a little and prod them so that as many as possible are cut-side down. Let sit completely undisturbed for 5 to 8 minutes, until they develop a dark, flavorful, caramelized sear.
  3. Add the salt and pepper, sliced garlic, and the nuts. With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the Brussels sprouts. Continue cooking, stirring every few minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are browned all over and just turning tender the inside, about 6 to 8 additional minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Grate the nutmeg over them. Anoint with truffle oil. Stir.
  5. Check for seasoning. Serve.











Sunday, January 3, 2021

New Year's Eve Done Ketoliciously

 


For me, celebrating the holidays and maintaining a keto diet is easy. All the luxurious foods I associate with holiday meals are naturally high in fat, it’s only the accompaniments that I would typically serve with them that occasionally have carbs, but fortunately I know how to make those foods low carb. Like the crisp keto sesame crackers I quickly baked to serve with my duck pate and truffled cheeses. I doubt anyone on the planet would know they were keto. And the broccoli-parmesan fritters served as a vehicle for smoked salmon - crisp, delicious hot fritters, totally keto-friendly. And of course the shrimp and avocado ceviche is naturally keto. For dessert, we had Basque Cheesecake made with Swerve instead of sugar... all of it was completely satisfying, absolutely luxe, and so delicious. In fact, I cut out the main course because we were too full from all the appetizers! I’m afraid el Esposito yelled “Uncle!” after the first few courses, so my Coquilles St. Jacques was served as our New Year's Day entree the following evening... I was able to loll back on my couch a la the raja of days yore, swill my glass of champagne, and listen to The Karminsky Experience as el Esposito attended to the dishes! A grand and fitting way to end the year, and what made it all the better was it didn’t require us to deviate from our commitment to good health.

Leftover broccoli-parmesan latkes turned into breakfast today.
They'd be a great base for eggs Benedict instead of an English muffin. 


Thanks to Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods online shopping and home delivery service, I didn’t even have to go out into the crowds to shop for what we needed. This pandemic has forced me to be more organized, more flexible, and more creative with meals which all in all? Is a good thing - the silver lining in the dark cloud. So, I will give you all three recipes: Keto Crackers, Broccoli Latkes, and Shrimp Ceviche - all ketolicious, quick to make, with relatively few, easily obtainable ingredients. Happy New Year, everyone, and happy cooking!


Keto Sesame Seed Crackers



Note: This dough had me doubting it because it was too easy to be true... it is equal parts mozzarella and almond flour (1 cup each), plus1 tsp baking powder (because I like baking with baking powder, you can substitute salt), 1 tsp psyllium husk (for a wheatier fragrance and texture, but you can omit it), and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream (as needed) all whirred together in the food processor! No melting of the cheeses, no careful folding in of ingredients, nada... it looked a bit crumbly in the processor so I was worried, but by the time I oiled my hands with olive oil to give it a quick knead and press on parchment paper before rolling it out? It became quite a workable elastic dough... whenever it crumbled apart, I just pasted the crumbled parts back on with fingers and rolling pin. 

You can vary the cheeses used. I chose mozzarella this particular time because it is the most neutral and least intrusive flavor (I was serving them with delicious uniquely flavored cheeses and a duck pate, so I didn't want a strong cheesed flavor cracker to conflict and interfere with my enjoyment of other delicacies), but cheddar, parmesan, gruyere, gouda, provolone, red pepper monterey jack would all work fine.  For cheeseless crackers, replace the cheese with 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of melted butter (or coconut oil). 

I added sesame seeds because I love sesame seeds, but you can omit them or use any garnish you like: poppy seeds, sea salt, cracked pepper, grated parmesan, etc. 

The thinner you roll this dough out, the crisper the cracker. I rolled it out until it was 1/8" thick, but 1/4 inch is fine. You can roll it out as a round, an oval, a rectangle... doesn't matter. Depends mostly on what you choose as a surface to bake it on with the parchment. A large cookie sheet is best. After rolling, I use a pizza cutter to cut it into squares and rectangles... bake for 12-15 minutes (depending on how thick you roll them) in a preheated 350F oven and done! Don't worry about making perfect shapes, the charm of homemade crackers is their irregular shape, but you can use a cookie cutter if you like a more sharply defined shape.  You can flip them half way through baking if your crackers are a bit thicker, but I find don't need to because mine are so thin. 

If your crackers become soft after storing them (in a sealed container, they will easily last 3 days; you can store them in the fridge if you want to extend their shelf-life, or stick them in the freezer in a ziploc bag for more extended storage), just crisp them in a hot oven for a few minutes. Do not microwave them. 




INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup superfine almond flour
  • 1 cup grated low-moisture mozzarella
  • 1 tsp psyllium husk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1-2 TBS whipping cream (or water) as needed
  • 2 TBS sesame seeds (optional)


INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a food processor, add the almond flour, shredded mozzarella, baking powder, and psyllium husk, and process well, until something like a dough forms. If the dough is too dry and crumbly looking, add a tablespoon or two of cream with the processor running. Pinch it with your fingers after adding the cream, if it pinches together, it's ready to roll.
  • Line a large sheet of parchment paper on a flat kitchen surface. Transfer the dough onto it and place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Press down on the dough, before rolling it out using a rolling pin, until anywhere from 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, slice up squares to form crackers. Do not separate them until after baked and cooled.
  • Transfer the crackers onto the lined sheet. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds. Bake for 12-15 minutes (flipping halfway through, if your crackers are thicker than 1/8"). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Separate crackers. Enjoy




Shrimp Ceviche with Avocado



Note: This dish is light, flavorful, and refreshingly easy to cobble together. You can use raw shrimp, or lightly steamed shrimp... the citrus in the dressing will "cook" the shrimp (i.e. turn it opaque) when allowed to cure for an hour or so. Frankly? I cheated and used cooked shrimp sold at Whole Foods that has the shell and the intestinal vein already removed because they were on sale; San Francisco Whole Foods' shrimp is so lightly steamed it's perfect and still rare and moist enough to absorb the ceviche's flavors. All I had to remove was the tail from them. However, if you buy your shrimp raw and fully intact, but don't want to use raw shrimp in this dish, just steam lightly for one minute,  throw in a bowl full of ice and water, let cool, then shell and devein them before adding them to the dressing. I use lime in the dressing but any citrus would do: Meyer lemon, yuzu, or blood orange are especially nice if you want a change. Whatever you choose, do roll it on your countertop before cutting, that will help release more juice. 

I add a few decidedly untraditional ceviche ingredients like soy sauce and sriracha, they seem to mix quite cheerfully with the extra virgin olive oil, lime, cilantro, scallions, cumin, and oregano. I choose not to add raw minced garlic because it assaults the palate and I had so many other appetizers to consider that I didn't want the raw garlic to clash with.  You can make this spicier by adding Serrano or any other kind of chili, but I was drinking a lovely 2008 Moet & Chandon Rose' Champagne and didn't want to overwhelm the wine. I served it in martini glasses, but margarita glasses would be fun, too... 

I like to think of this dish almost like a chunky shrimp guacamole which is why I cut each shrimp in half, added cubes of avocado, and halved grape tomatoes so that all the main components are roughly the same size. I used shrimp that were  sized 25-30 to the pound. You can use larger shrimp, but it always seems a shame to me chop large shrimp... they should always be served proudly and whole. Rock shrimp (if you can find them) would be grand! Bay shrimp would work too, but they are not my favorite... they make me feel like a whale swallowing up krill one gargantuan mouthful at a time - out in the vast vast callous ocean;) 




INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. of shrimp, lightly steamed or raw, shell, tail and vein removed, cut in half
  • a handful of cilantro, rinsed and dried well, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, light parts only, finely chopped
  • 10-12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium avocado, cut into dice
  •  2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of one fresh lime 
  • 1 TBS of soy sauce (or to taste)
  • Japanese rice wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 tsp of Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano (fresh or dried, if fresh mince it)
  • Freshly milled pepper, to taste


 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, cumin, oregano, and pepper in a bowl
  2. Add cilantro, scallions, tomatoes, and shrimp stirring in well
  3. Gently fold in the avocado, adjust seasoning as needed 
  4. Cover bowl in plastic wrap, place in refrigerator for 30 minutes
  5. Spoon into martini or margarita glasses. 
  6. Enjoy!










Broccoli Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Truffled Chive Cream 




NOTE: These fritters are crisp, nutritious, and relatively easy to make so long as you are gentle and patient with them while forming and frying. Are they as good as potato or buckwheat blinis? Well... they are denser and more strongly flavored... they will never be the pillow-soft clouds of ethereal beauty that their starchier counterparts are, but once you accept this fact, you will enjoy them for the unique experience they offer.  The parmesan in them is HUGE value add. You can substitute gruyere or cheddar for them, but since I was pairing them with smoked salmon, I didn't want to use a cheese that would be too assertive. Cream cheese might be nice, but I haven't tried that yet, so I cannot vouch for it. I use scallions but grated onion or very finely minced shallots would work nicely in the batter. When ricing the broccoli be sure they are completely dry after cleaning them, and  do not over-process them in the food processor, just a few whirs using the pulse mode of the blade will be sufficient to make them rice grain-sized (about 5 seconds) ... use only the florets and make sure to cut all the florets an equal size before adding them to the processor. 

This is the ideal size: 




You will then combine all the ingredients in a separate mixing bowl and let the batter stand for at least 10 minutes to allow all the ingredients to bind. When frying, do not overcrowd the pan. I used a 14-inch non-stick pan and fried three at a time, allowing the latkes to fry undisturbed 4 minutes each side. Do not touch the latkes when they are frying on the first side, this batter has no starch which makes it very delicate and prone to break so just make sure you have plenty of oil in the pan over a medium heat, and that the pan is hot before adding the latkes. 
If you don't feel like ricing the broccoli in the food processor you can buy fresh or frozen riced broccoli and use that instead. There's no need to precook the broccoli because the pieces are small enough that they will cook as you fry them. There isn't a lot of almond flour in it, you can use any kind of flour you like, if you are not restricting carbs. The batter is dry and the parmesan in it will crisp up, so no need for an additional coating of flour or crumbs before frying. I used smoked paprika, but plain paprika is great. I recommend using garlic powder instead of freshly minced garlic to avoid having the garlic burn and turn caustic. Curry powder would be sensational in this, though not if you are pairing it with smoked salmon and the truffled chive cream. If you go curried, I'd make an avocado Greek yogurt cream, adding mint with a little fresh garlic and chives. This recipe will make about 8 3-inch latkes. I serve 2 per person.






INGREDIENTS:

  • Two medium heads of broccoli, stalks removed
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of superfine almond flour
  • 3 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped 
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of chili flakes
  • freshly milled black pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz smoked salmon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 4 TBS sour cream
  • 2 TBS finely chopped or snipped chives
  • 1 teaspoon truffle oil, plus more for drizzling  (optional)
  • Oil for frying






INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Process broccoli florets using the pulse button on food processor until broccoli achieves a rice-like consistency. Set aside.
  2. Combine the cheese, eggs, almond flour, scallions and other seasonings into a large mixing bowl until well-incorporated into a batter.
  3. Add broccoli rice to the batter mixture, incorporating well to combine.
  4. Let mixture stand for ten minutes
  5. Heat a large (12 to 14 inch) non-stick frying pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil to completely coat pan, when in doubt? Err on the side of more oil. 
  6. Oil your hands. Gently form mixture into 3-inch wide rounds and fry no more than three latkes per pan for four minutes on the first side. Do not disturb latkes when frying on the first side, this will prevent them from breaking, remember there is no starch to bind them and they will break apart if overly handled. Fry on the second side until golden and crisp.  About 3-4 minutes more, depending on the size of your patties. Turn oven on low with a cookie sheet to keep latkes warm if you fry several batches. 
  7. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Place them on the cookie sheet in low oven to keep warm until you fry all your latkes. 
  8. While latkes fry, make truffle cream by combining sour cream, truffle oil, lemon and 1 TBS of chives in a small bowl. Season with freshly milled pepper and/or salt to taste.
  9. When ready to serve, warm plates in microwave, place two latkes per plate, top with a teaspoon of truffle-chive cream, a piece of smoked salmon rolled into a bundle, add another dollop of truffle-chive cream atop & sprinkle with reserved chives, drizzle with more truffle oil. Voila! 








Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Ketolicious Poppy and Sesame Seed Bagels



 

Most everyone loves bagels, but, being a native New Yorker, I found buying bagels in California was nearly always a grave disappointment. The lox here were often wonderful, but pairing them with the bland textureless bagels was something I couldn't bring myself to do more than a handful of times. Making regular bagels at home is an arduous task, so I never did until now and I have to say these crazy keto bagels are fantastic and soooo simple to make! They have the same crusty exterior with the dense chewy interior that my old H&H Bagels of yore had. However, unlike bagels made with wheat flour, you can’t eat more than one. The mozzarella-almond flour-egg based dough is too filling! The dough is essentially the same as the fathead pizza crust dough - just with a bit more baking soda and flour. These bagels are incredibly easy to create and bake... no proofing, no boiling, just mix the ingredients together with a spatula, knead with hands anointed with plenty of olive oil, bake for 15-20 minutes on parchment & voila . Your home will be perfumed with mouth-watering yeasty aromas and your table graced with fresh hot bagels which store and reheat well, so you can make them ahead of time. Using a Silpat or parchment paper (see both with raw bagels below) is absolutely essential for this dough. It is exceedingly sticky and will adhere to anything else - even aluminum foil - when baked, so invest in one of the two. This recipe will make 4 bagels.











Ketolicious Poppy and Sesame Seed Bagels





Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups grated low-moisture mozzarella
  • 1 egg, beaten - room temperature
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • olive oil as needed
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground psyllium husk
  • 1 tsp active yeast, dissolved in two tablespoons of warm water for 10 minutes or until foamy
  • sesame seeds, to taste
  • poppy seeds, to taste







Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and prepare a pizza stone, sheet pan or baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the almond flour, baking powder, and ground psyllium husk and mix well.
  3. Add mozzarella and cream cheese to the bowl and microwave in 45 second increments until the cheese is completed melted and forms a ball of dough after you stir it with a spatula. Should go through about 2 cycles.
  4. Add the dissolved yeast, and work it in well with the spatula, then add the beaten egg to the bowl and vigorously mix it in with your spatula or use your hands, just make sure the egg is fully incorporated into your dough.
  5. Grease your hands with plenty of olive oil. You will want to make four balls of dough. Roll them each into a ball and gently push a finger through the center to make a nickel sized hole. Place on parchment paper and repeat on the other three bagels. Make sure the bagels are two inches apart.
  6. Use more olive oil to brush the bagels on both sides and encrust both sides with sesame seeds.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a nice golden brown forms on top.
  8. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then slice, add your favorite toppings, and enjoy!











Friday, December 18, 2020

Keto Kung Pao Shrimp with Zucchini and Shirataki Noodles




I guess I’d call this Kung Pao Shrimp Lo Mein except there is no such dish. The Shirataki noodles are Japanese and made from tofu and glucomannan, a type of fiber that comes from the root of the konjac plant which make them 100% Ketogenic! Konjac grows in Japan, China and Southeast Asia. It contains very few digestible carbs —  most of its carbs come from glucomannan fiber.

“Shirataki” is Japanese for “white waterfall,” which describes the noodles’ translucent appearance. They’re made by mixing glucomannan flour with regular water and a little lime water, which helps the noodles hold their shape. The mixture is boiled and then shaped into noodles or rice-like pieces. Shirataki noodles contain a lot of water. In fact, they are about 97% water and 3% glucomannan fiber. They’re also very low in calories and contain no digestible carbs. A variety called tofu shirataki noodles is very similar to traditional shirataki noodles, but with added tofu that provides a few additional calories and a small number of digestible carbs.  Glucomannan is a highly viscous fiber, which is a type of soluble fiber that can absorb water to form a gel. In fact, glucomannan can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, as reflected in shirataki noodles’ extremely high water content.

Trusted SourceThese noodles move through your digestive system very slowly, which helps you feel full and delays nutrient absorption into your bloodstream (2

Trusted Source

In addition, viscous fiber functions as a prebiotic. It nourishes the bacteria living in your colon, also known as the gut flora or microbiota. In your colon, bacteria ferment fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which can fight inflammation, boost immune function and provide other health benefits. Since a typical 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of shirataki noodles contains about 1–3 grams of glucomannan, it’s essentially a calorie-free, carb-free food. And, most importantly, it tastes wonderful! You'd be hard-pressed to believe these noodles had no starch. 


Trusted Sourc, Trusted Source5Trusted SourcA recent human study estimated that fermenting glucomannan to short-chain fatty acids produces one calorie per gram of fiber.

Trusted SourcSince a typical 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of shirataki noodles contains about 1–3 grams of glucomannan, it’s essentially a calorie-free, carb-free

Kung Pao Shrimp with Zucchini and Shirataki Noodles




This dish is pure California Fusion. I used what I had. If I had Chinese Black Vinegar, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, and Sichuan peppers, I would have used them, but I didn’t. I used white pepper and cardamom to approximate the fragrance of the Sichuan peppers and a Serrano for heat. I subbed in balsamic vinegar for Chinese black vinegar, and just went ahead and had nothing to replace the oyster and hoisin sauce. I do not use a thickener for the sauce, instead I reduce it. It is important to have everything assembled ahead of time, preferably in their own bowls, so when it's time for stir-frying everything can be quickly added to and removed from the pan as needed. When first adding an ingredient to the hot pan, let it set in the oil for a minute or so, before stirring it... this will give it a nice caramelized exterior & add to the pan fond and the wok hay. Wok hay is a Cantonese phrase used to describe a particular essence and aroma that is created in a dish when authentic stir-frying is performed. “Hay” means “energy” or “breath”; therefore, “wok hay” means “the energy or breath of a wok”. By properly and skillfully cooking food in a well-seasoned wok over extremely high heat, a stir-fry will obtain concentrated flavors that have a particular essence and aroma. Stir-fried dishes, especially in the Canton area of China, are judged on whether or not they contain this highly-revered “wok hay”.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb of shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 large knob of ginger (about 2 inches), minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 Serrano chili, minced
  • 3 zucchini, cut into thirds and diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 1/3 cup peanuts
  • 1 Tbsp garlic-chili sauce, or to taste
  • Sriracha sauce, to taste
  • 1-1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • a few splashes of rice wine vinegar
  • a few splashes of low-sodium soy sauce
  • a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • a few splashes of stock (chicken, fish, or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • refined peanut oil for frying
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp almond flour
  • 2 8oz packages of Shirataki noodles, rinsed in colander, drained, and set aside







Instructions:
1) Combine shrimp, sesame oil, 1/3 of the ginger, 1/3 of the garlic, 1/3 of the scallions, sriracha sauce, a splash of soy sauce, baking powder and almond flour - set aside to marinate
2) Heat wok on medium-high to high, add enough peanut oil to coat bottom of the pan, when oil is hot, add 1/3 of the garlic, 1/3 of the ginger, all of the Serrano and let set in oil until fragrant, careful not to let it burn (about 30 seconds). Then stir.
3) Add the pepper and the zucchini to the aromatics. Let them set for a minute in the oil to caramelize, then stir, making sure to coat the veggies well and evenly with the aromatics, then let set it again for 30-60 seconds, and then stir again. When they have softened slightly, remove them into a warm bowl.
4) Add more oil to the wok, enough to coat bottom well, let it heat, then add shrimp in one layer. Let the shrimp cook for 1-2 minutes on one side, then stir fry until they lose their translucency but are not yet pink. Remove from pan and place in warm bowl with the veggies.


5) Add peanuts and let them become warm and fragrant (about 45 seconds) then move them to the sides of the wok. Add a splash of oil and the last of the ginger, garlic, cardamom, white pepper &, stir until aromatic & deglaze the pan with stock, and both vinegars. Be sure to scrape up all the pan fond and let the liquid reduce. Then add garlic chili sauce, splashes of soy sauce, and when it is seasoned to your liking, add the noodles. Cook noodles in sauce for two minutes, stirring frequently.








6) Add shrimp and veggies back to the pan with the noodles, stir it all together until well-incorporated. Season to taste with soy and chili sauce. Sprinkle with remaining scallions. Serve in warmed bowls.

chī chī chī 吃吃吃