Making Your Own Mayonnaise for Cowards – Atkins Induction Day 10 (with 07/05/13 Update)

There’s cooking and there’s cooking.

Throwing some chicken on the grill, over seasoning with a store-bought seasoning mix, then checking that it is cooked enough to avoid salmonella poisoning is cooking of a sort. Throwing everything into a pot and cooking until done is also technically cooking, but ‘cooking’ is a discipline that extends across a continuum from the ham-fisted, knuckle-dragging cooking that I do, through an inspired craft, ending at fine artistry in edibles.

I think cooking is a big part of any success I have had over the years in maintaining my (at the moment) 65 pound weight loss – and I’ve made a number of inspired dishes, though a true gastronomic devotee would be generous in saying that it least there was some creativity and enthusiasm.

But then there’s technique – knowing what your ingredients can do, understanding their properties and the proportions that yield something special – something unexpected. Something rising above mere cooking.

Mayonnaise is one of these things.

Continue reading “Making Your Own Mayonnaise for Cowards – Atkins Induction Day 10 (with 07/05/13 Update)”

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Kitchen Experiment: Low Carb Cauliflower Soup

Here’s what I tried when I wanted to make a simple soup great for a cold winter day.

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 whole bunches of scallions – yes – bunches
  • salt
  • 4 cups of water
  • pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream

In a deep cooking pot, place the chopped scallions and the chopped up cauliflower head in 4 cups of water and bring to a boil, then simmer for a half hour. Continue reading “Kitchen Experiment: Low Carb Cauliflower Soup”

Experimenting with Coconut Flour

 

As I believe that it’s important to try new things to avoid becoming too set in my ways, I’m always on the lookout for new ingredients to mess with.

Enter coconut flour.

I used to occasionally bake with soybean flour, but I’ve come to the conclusion that soybean probably isn’t all that good for you. Here’s just one link out of hundreds that you can find on the subject.

Now, I seriously doubt that, given the amount of times I get out the baking equipment, that it would really matter all that much, but long-time insightful readers would probably realize it has more to do with my amusing myself than anything else.

Anyway, I first heard about this flour on Mark’s Daily Apple. It is a very high protein, high fiber, low carb flour that seems to be relatively new in that there aren’t a whole heckuva lot recipes to be found on the Internet using it. In fact, most of the links I found discussed this lack of recipes, and seemed to imply that there’s a lot of head-scratching going on in trying to find out how best to use this stuff.

It’s a very dry flour, with very different properties from the grain-based stuff people are trying to substitute it with.

I first started out by baking a bread based on Mark’s recipe – very slightly adapted because even after 6 eggs and a stick of butter it still wasn’t moist enough:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Dried Basil
  • Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

I put the ingredients in my food processor while preheating  my convection oven to 350. I let it ‘food process’ a long while – coconut flour is like flour from another planet – it doesn’t react the way you’d expect. After a few minutes being bet up by the food processor, it still seemed dry, which was when I added the cream. Another pummeling in the food processor for a minute or two and it was as good as it was ever gonna be.

I placed it on aluminum foil on my oven pan and formed it into a circular mound (wet your hands with water or the stuff will stick to your hands) as I didn’t have a bread pan.

I let this bake for 40 minutes.

It came out looking good – it looked like bread – but still, very dry.

If we split it up into six servings each slice will, according to FitDay, have:
30.9 g fat
13.2 g carbs (9 g fiber)
8.35 g protein

Honestly, I didn’t like it. It was very heavy and the flavors didn’t complement each other.

Fast forward a few weeks for my next attempt.

In researching yogurt, I read on one site that yogurt works well as an ingredient in baking goods because it makes them extraordinarily moist. OK – I’ll try it.

I also noted that, whatever I do with the coconut flour, a sweet bread would have better a better chance of coming out successful.

So this led to…

Coconut Flour Autumn Sweet Bread

  • 1-1/4 cup coconut flour, unsifted (don’t have a sifter)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 7oz tubs of Fage whole fat yogurt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (only because I had it around and wanted to use it up)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp of baking powder

All of this got mixed in the food processor and placed in a 12-inch circular baking dish. It was more the consistency of a cake batter than a bread, so it got more or less spread out and thrown in the oven at 355 degrees (why 355? It was the temp the oven was already set to. Lazy.)

I let this cook for 40 minutes. The top had browned slightly and it had risen slightly. I took a chunk off the top – it was much lighter than the last experiment – my first thought was angel cake. I guess the elimination of a stick of butter, 2 eggs and replacing with yogurt did add up to a texture change.

It still wasn’t moist by any means. It came out crumbly, though it had a nice taste. This experiment got a picture taken of it, which is at the top of this post.

I had some with cold butter smeared on it hot out of the oven. It was good – not great. I also had it with a low carb jelly – this was better. I’m thinking that this flour screams for added berries.

I still have some of the flour left, and have found a few more resources that look promising.

First, here’s a blueberry muffin recipe I haven’t tried: http://www.elanaspantry.com/blueberry-muffins/

Next up, a chocolate cake from the same source: http://www.elanaspantry.com/chocolate-cake-coconut-flour-continued/

Lastly, an entire book on cooking with coconut flour, which I’ll put on my Amazon Wishlist: http://amzn.com/0941599639

To be continued…

Grilled Tomatoes

I consider myself fortunate to live in New Jersey.

New Jersey is the butt of many jokes, but it’s a misunderstood place, known mostly for Bruce Springsteen, the notorious show ‘The Jersey Shore’ which I have never seen, The show ‘The Sopranos’ which I have never seen, and the New Jersey Turnpike – the stretch of road so ugly that I can forgive people who’ve only seen that road as they drive through the state for thinking it is nothing but a hell hole.

It isn’t just these things, by any means.

New Jersey has some of the most fertile farmland in the United States. We don’t have big farms – we have small local farms. And we also have a very vibrant local organic farming community. When I go to my farmers market, there are no less than four farms within driving distance that raise organic vegetables and even meat and eggs selling their products there.

Two weeks ago, one of our local farmers, overflowing with the famous Jersey Tomatoes, had 25 pounds of locavore, organic plum tomatoes for $10.

We couldn’t pass it up.

While they have made their way into a lot of meals since then, I was amazed at what I produced when I threw some on the barbecue grill.

All I did was coat the outside in olive oil and place on a very hot grill.

Unless you leave them on for a very long time, they can’t burn – there’s just too much water in them. What happens is the outsides blacken and the insides reduce and carmalize – making them sweeter and more tasty. The blackened outsides add a complex smoky flavor.

I left them for about 40 minutes, then put them in a bowl and used an immersion blender on them. If you do NOT know how to prevent your immersion blender from spraying tomato all over your walls, use a blender or food processor.

This left me with the most awesome thick, and flavorful tomato puree I had ever had. I ate it like a soup with no additional seasonings.

If you only know tomatoes from what you’ve gotten in a grocery store, understand that those things you bought are nothing like the tomatoes I just described.

I am hoping that I will be so SICK of tomatoes by the end of the season that I can hold out until next summer when they are back in season before I buy one again.

Grocery store tomatoes are not worth it when you’ve had the real thing.

Vegetarian Chili With Meat

Yeah – it’s a dumb name for it – I know.

I originally started out to make my 4-alarm chili recipe, but instead of diced tomatoes, I added pureed – and it just seems to be too thin. So I decided to clean my fridge of a number of vegetables that had reached middle age, but were still good – at least good enough for chili. Continue reading “Vegetarian Chili With Meat”

Kitchen Experiment: Green Bean Dip

The name of this post is so after the fact – I didn’t know what the Hell I was creating when I started.

It was a Man, his food processor, and some aged frozen vegetables:

  • 1 large bag frozen green beans
  • 1/2 bag frozen broccoli
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1 raw garlic clove
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t. dried tarragon

Important note: you really have to like garlic to add it in the raw state – you might want to substitute garlic powder or leave it out completely if you are not a true garlic fan.

I nuked the frozen beans and broccoli in the microwave for 15 minutes. I then threw this in my food processor and blended all the ingredients above together until smooth – at least 5 minutes.

It turned out a bright green and looked as if it could have been made of lawn clippings. OK – maybe a guacamole is a better comparison. I gave it a taste – not bad, but I wasn’t sure I’d eat a pile of the stuff.

I had been munching on pork rinds, and tried dipping one in it – pretty good as a dip, but something was missing.

I checked on Google and it seems no one ever thought of a green bean dip before – at least Google doesn’t show a green bean dip recipe.

This scares me a bit – the thought of throwing green beans in a food processor doesn’t seem to be much of a reach. Maybe it’s a dumb idea?

As I said, the stuff doesn’t stand on it’s own – it has to be coupled with something…but what?

The next morning, I tried coupling it with a hard-boiled egg…nope, that’s not it.

Then I thought: what about as a replacement for the legume-type beans in a Mexican bean dip?

So I added some cheese and sour cream.

That worked. All I need is salsa, and I’d have a great 4-layer chip dip for pork rinds.

This was lunch yesterday – coupled with some chicken. 

Atkins-friendly, and induction friendly for any Atkins newbies out there.

Recipe – Mashed ‘Potatoes’ (Really Cauliflower – Ssh!, Don’t Tell The Kids)

I made this 2 days in a row – this came out so good, I couldn’t believe it. My major failure on both batches was an overdose of garlic which was beyond the ability for most mortals to tolerate – but screw ’em – I’ll eat it.

  • 1-1/2 bags frozen cauliflower
  • 5 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 4 garlic cloves (unless you are like me, you’d better put in a lot less!)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t. dried tarragon
  • 3 T. unsalted butter

I nuked the frozen cauliflower in the microwave for 15 minutes. Then I took out my long-neglected food processor and blended all the ingredients above together until smooth – at least 5 minutes.

For me, the food processor here was critical – I always thought that a food processor was unnecessarily complicated and my trusty immersion blender was faster and easier.

Fool.

The food processor gave it a creamy and consistent texture I would have never gotten from the immersion blender.

I found this stuff goes great with Brussels sprouts fried in butter with shallots – for me, it’s a combo to die for.

This induction-friendly recipe really fills the void of mashed potatoes for those of you new to low carb – you have to try it and see.