June 17, 2014

Recipe makeover: Grilled haloumi with tomato’s and coriander

       I had a few wonderful finds this week. I have found these delicious crackers, these delicious veggie chips (too bad they still had vegetable oil in them, but I will be making my own one day). 


         And it’s ‘Vlaggetjes dag’ here, what means the day of flags! The ships used to be decorated with flags before Whit Sunday and taken to test them out to the see. These ships used to go to fish for herring after the Whit Sunday. Now it means the first catch of the fresh season herring. And I love this day, because the herring is the most delicious, it varies of course every year, but it’s freshly wild caught herring that just simply melts in your mouth. Now you can buy it in stores the whole year round, but the best seasonal one is from this day that’s usually around 15th of June. The Dutch don’t have to preserve it in salt or any other preservative because they have some kind of way to gut it that it is just fresh under the knife and you eat it basically raw just like sashimi and you get all the good natural fats with it. Now that I think of it this recipe would be great with fresh herring on veggie chips instead of the crackers.

Haloumi is a Greek grill cheese that is very delicious and robust cheese. This recipe had most of the ingredients that I normally don’t eat, so I was struggling to make it lower carb. I don’t think it’s very low carb, but you can still make it even lower if you want to. I replaced the Turkish bread with flax crackers I was mentioned above. I didn’t want to replace the honey with any other artificial sweetener or a natural one, such as stevia, because I don’t like the taste of stevia or of the artificial ones and I do have lots of raw honey from Lithuania from the best beekeepers I know. If I will be making this recipe in the future though I will use less honey than the recipe asks, it was a bit too sweet for me. I think the biggest reason of why this recipe is so delicious, because it has highly addictive ingredients like cheese and honey. It is not really Paleo, because it has dairy, but I think you can just as easily replace it with meat or eggs and just omit the honey.



Grilled haloumi with tomato’s and coriander
Servings: 4

Ingredients
·         1 bunch coriander
·         1 – 2 tsp chilli flakes
·         8 tbsp olive oil
·         250g/9 ounces haloumi or other kind of grilled cheese
·         400g/14 ounces of tomato’s
·         2 tbsp honey
·         Juice of 1 lemon
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         1 Turkish bread

Preparation

  1. Wash the coriander and shake it dry. Discard the stems and chop the leaves roughly. Mix the coriander with chilli flakes and 6 tbsp of olive oil. Cut the haloumi in 1 cm/0.4 inches and marinate the cheese for 10 minutes in the coriander oil.
  2. Wash the tomato’s and pat them dry. Cut them in half’s or quarters and mix them with honey, lemon juice and the rest 2 tbsp of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and leave them marinating for 10 minutes as well.
  3. Take the haloumi uit of marinade and grill it for 1-2 minutes per side. Cut the Turkish bread in half and then in strips. Grill the bread short in the grill or under the broiler too.
  4. Serve the tomatoes with the grilled haloumi and Turkish bread. Drip the chilli-coriander oil on top of it.



Recipe makeover: Bell peppers of Piemont

I was a bit anxious to make this recipe, because it seemed not that much food to keep me satiated and for that reason I didn’t want to use shirataki noodles. So I choose zucchini this time. I don’t have a spiralizer so I used a hand grater that makes small a bit look a like noodles from zucchini. It turned out that this was a nice rainbow colour side dish that was also quite filling!




Bell peppers of Piemont
Servings: 4

Ingredients
·         3 red bell peppers
·         3 yellow peppers
·         4 garlic cloves
·         4 anchovy filets
·         3 big tomato’s
·         7 tbsp olive oil
·         2 tbsp butter
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         300g/10 ounces bucatini – I replaced them with zoodles (zucchini noodles), so 1 big zucchini
·         4 sprigs pasley

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC for electric (approx. 390F), 175º hot air oven or gas stand 3. Cut the peppers in half with stems in tact and discard the seeds. Wash them and pat them dry. Put them on a baking dish with cut side on top.
  2. Cut the garlic in small strips. Cut the anchovies, wash the tomato’s and cut it into quarters. Divide the garlic, anchovies, tomato’s and 6 tbsp of olive oil over the peppers. Salt and pepper to taste and toast them for 25-30 minutes in the oven.
  3. Make zoodles. Wash the parsley and shake it dry, take the leaves of the stems. Mix the zoodles with the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and serve it with peppers. Sprinkle parsley on top.




June 12, 2014

Recipe makeover: Potato mash with sausages

Since I’m not really counting carbs anymore and not eating starch too this recipe is actually almost without a replacement and not really a makeover either. The only problem I had with the ingredients was sour cream. I used to love sour cream! I still do, but the quality I can get here makes me not want to buy it. I could make it myself and I will try to do that in the future, because I can get grass fed raw milk, but for now I just choose not to buy it. I have replaced the sour cream with coconut cream. I just had a can of coconut milk which had a thick layer of coconut cream on top and I scooped the amount I needed for the mash. It gives a great coconutty flavour and it fits perfectly with spicy sausages. You can choose to replace some things to make it more low carb or Paleo friendly. You can replace the potatoes with cauliflower, celery root, rutabaga, koolrabi for the mash, sour cream with coconut cream.

           
            Potato mash with sausages
            Servings: 4

            Ingredients
·         750g/1.65 pounds potatoes
·         A bunch of celery leaves
·         A bunch of chives
·         400g/0.8 pounds of spicy sausages like chorizo, merquez or sucuk (Turkish sausages). I used merquez I can buy at local Turkish shop.
·         5 tbsp of sour cream
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         2 tbsp butter


Preparation


  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them in cubes. Kook the potatoes about 20 minutes in water with salt. Wash the celery leaves, shake them dry and separate them from the stems. Cut the celery leaves and the chives roughly.
  2. Cook the sausages in the pan about 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash them. Mix in the cream, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Serve the mash with the sausages

Recipe makeover: pasta with red bell peppers and goat cheese

The first word in this recipe is what’s problematic being on low-carb or Paleo (including dairy). There is just nothing to replace that wonderful taste of pasta in your mouth with usually nice sauce. The truth is that after a while you don’t crave pasta anymore and you learn to eat that wonderful pasta sauce you use to make with something else. There are endless variations of what you could replace pasta with: vegetables like zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, you can use shirataki noodles that have no carbs and are made from konjac yam, some use gluten free pasta that’s less optimal or you can even make your own noodles from chicken!
 I don’t have a spiral grater to make noodles so I find zucchini noodles a bit messy. This time I replaced it with shirataki noodles. 

I must say that all the recipes I make from this magazine have small portions and maybe not always nutrient dense, but for the sake of once in a while making your favourite non Paleo/Low carb recipe into Paleo/Low Carb recipe they’re an excellent example.



Pasta with red bell peppers and goat cheese
Servings: 4

Ingredients
·         1 zucchini
·         2 red bell peppers
·         2 packs of shirataki noodles
·         8 sprigs thyme
·         200g/7 ounces goat cheese
·         5 tbsp olive oil
·         Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Wash the zucchini and cut it in halves. Cut the red bell peppers into thick strips and discard the seeds. Mix the pepper and zucchini with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Grill the peppers around 3 minutes per side and the zucchini 2 minutes per side.
  2. Prepare the pasta, I had to wash mine first in warm water and it only is cooked for 2 minutes, so I did it at the end. Wash the thyme sprigs, pat them dry and take the leaves off.
  3. Mix the pasta with grilled vegetables, 3 tbsp of olive oil and thyme. Salt and pepper it to taste. Divide into 4 servings and crumble the goat cheese on top of it.



June 04, 2014

Recipe makeover: Gnocchi with spinach and pecorino

            I must admit that I was planning to do this recipe sooner than today, but I just didn’t have the time to make it. I must also admit that it was a complete disaster, but I decided that I’m done with playing safe (gourmet cooking and baking is just not my thing). I still managed to make it, but just as tortillas sorry for my not professional photos (despite the fact that I took course in photography) and not that good of a presentation.
            Gnocchi is not really a very low carb food. It’s actually the one that you should never buy, because the original recipe asks for potatoes (oh the carbs! and almost no nutritional value! according to some low carbers) and flour (oh the wheat and gluten!). I love potatoes and when I went low carb 3 years ago I thought I would never be able to eat them again. I must admit (again) that I was reluctant to introduce sweet potato or any starches into my diet. I did introduce it and thanks to Paleo Parents and Richard Nikoley from freetheanimal.com I will continue to eat it unless I will find out further that I can’t tolerate starch. So far I’m taking resistant starch which makes wonders with my gut and I’m eating potato’s for 4 months already and guess what? The worst didn’t happen! The worst for me was that I would gain everything, well newsflash, I gained everything back without that and I didn’t loose it with eating 20 net carbs per day (only veggies and protein) for a year. If starch doesn’t make me gain and makes me feel good and more satiated I don’t consider it evil. Besides there’s lots of research that proves we women need it. Although I admit that if I really want to loose weight I should eliminate again (for now it’s not my goal).
            Anyways, back to the recipe. Since I eat sweet potatoes and occasionally organic white potatoes I decided to keep them and eat gnocchi for the first time after 3 years. The only thing I replaced was of course flour to gluten free coconut flour. Now coconut flour asks for more liquid, so I used the coconut flour conversion chart and also doubled the eggs that were in the recipe. I’m also kind of disappointed with this recipe, because besides that it was a disaster, cause I couldn’t cook gnocchi, they just dissolved in the water, the measurements that are given are just not enough, especially the spinach amount was just for one serving, while it’s suggested that the recipe holds 4 servings. Here’s the original recipe:

Gnocchi with spinach and pecorino
            Servings: 4
           
Ingredients:
  • 500g/1 pound potato’s
  • 100g/3.5 ounces pecorino
  • 200g/7 ounces pasta flour – I replaced it with 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 egg whites +2 extra because of the coconut flour
  • 300g/10.5 ounces spinach
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter

1.      Wash the potatoes, put them in the pan with cold water and boil them. Cook them for around 30 minutes or until they’re soft. Then drain the water and let them cool a bit. Then peel the skin off and make mash.
2.      Grate the pecorino cheese
3.      Mix the potato mash, coconut flour, 1 tsp salt, 4 egg whites and the half of the pecorino cheese into smooth dough.
4.      Sprinkle wooden cut board or plank with coconut flour and make long rolls from the dough. Cut the dough into small dough pillows and roll them with a fork to get the ripple effect.
5.      Wash the spinach en let it drain. The recipe asks to cook the gnocchi in boiling water without salt until they start to drift to the surface, but I couldn’t do that. I think it would be easier to sauté them in the pan in the butter. In the photo you will see them uncooked, because they were still warm and I decided to serve them like this, because I had no time to make a new batch. Cook the spinach in the butter, mix it together with gnocchi.
6.      The recipe asks to salt it before serving, but I didn’t put any salt because there was enough salt in the gnocchi dough and the pecorino is salty enough too. Plate it into 4 boards and sprinkle the rest of the pecorino on top which I also found to be a lot, but I love pecorino so it was still yummy.


Recipe makeover: Spicy chicken tortillas with almonds

        When I was on my honeymoon in Mexico and I was off the wagon I was eating tortillas everyday. My one year anniversary is coming and I was remembering this great journey we had in Mexico. We were also on excursion to original Maya village where two fantastically looking Mayan women were making tortillas and cooking them on a sheet above a brick oven and we could visit it, make it with them and eat it afterwards. 
           This is one of my most cherished moments to see the ordinary people, even tough they were probably at their best since they lived from tips from such excursions. One of them thought mw how to make the corn tortillas and it was going pretty well. I thought since I already had the experience I could very well make them, when I saw the recipe in my recipe magazine. I also love dark meat of the chicken and a bit spicy food, so I was looking forward to make this recipe.
            I must say sorry for the form of my tortillas because they didn’t come out as perfect as they were in Mexico or in the magazine photo’s (must be cause I’m not on my honeymoon in MexicoJ). But on the whole the recipe was a big success, especially with my husband. He just loved it! He wanted more and I agree that the serving size was pretty small. It was for 4 servings and I was eating it for two non consecutive days, but I was feeling 80% full after I ate it. I don’t mind that, but my husband gets hungry pretty quickly if he doesn’t have enough to eat.
      The problem with tortillas is that its again not very low carb, if it is very low carb, usually it has a lot of additives that are of no use to our bodies. They are made from corn, but most of the time you have wheat, sugar and other things in it. I have problem with corn, because it is 99% in the world genetically modified, coming from Monsanto, having vegetable oils etc. I had no problem with the rest of the ingredients in the recipe. The solution to my problems was quite simple though, Google for Paleo tortilla recipe and make one myself. I used this one. I was reluctant though if it would work, because it asked a lot of tapioca flour and I only had arrowroot powder, so I used it instead of tapioca. I also thought that they would break if I bend them, but they were pretty bendy, what made the eating easier. I must say problem was solved and now I have my go to recipe for tortillas and I think I will be having them once in a while.



            Spicy chicken tortilla’s with almonds
            Servings: 4

            Ingredients:
  • 3 whole chicken tights
  • 50g/1.8 ounces shaved almonds
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1 red pepper
  • 8 tortillas
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

1.      Pre warm the oven at 200ºC/392 F degrees. Rub the chicken tights with salt, pepper and chilli powder. Roast the chicken approximately 35 minutes; I did mine almost an hour, because they were huge.
2.      Roast the shaved almonds in a dry pan until they’re golden brown.
3.      Wash the coriander, dry it and separate the leaves from the stems, chop it roughly. Cut the red pepper, remove the seeds and chop it into small rings.
4.      I did the tortillas when the chicken was almost done and kept them warm.
5.      Take the chicken out of the oven, first take the crispy skin off and cut it into small longish peaces. Pull the chicken meat off the bones (save the bones to make bone broth later!). Mix the skin, chicken meet, roasted almonds, red pepper, coriander, lemon juice and the olive oil together, salt and pepper to taste.
6.      Serve the chicken on the tortillas and enjoy!


May 30, 2014

Recipe makeover: Fennel and North sea shrimp risotto

I love cooking, especially trying out new recipes. I used to collect tons of free recipe magazines that every supermarket has here in The Netherlands. I would also additionally buy three monthly one’s that I really liked like Delicious, Foodies and Gezond eten. The latter one I discovered after going on Atkins because I was interested what is being perceived as healthy eating (that’s the English translation of this Dutch magazine). I had a subscription only for Foodies. I and my husband used to pick one a recipe to make every Sunday once a week and we used to love it!
Naturally I quickly discovered that a lot of recipes had sugar and wheat in it or things I just couldn’t eat. I would get frustrated that I couldn’t make pasta recipes (usually that’s the half of the magazine recipes, because Italian or Asian food with pasta and noodles is very popular here). I was doing strict Atkins Induction, so naturally I couldn’t eat any fruit or starchy veggies either. If I would flip over the pages I would exclude ingredients from a particular recipe and there usually was nothing much left. That was three years ago. I stopped buying those magazines and was making recipes that were from internet Low Carb community.
Now I’m less strict and doing Paleo, naturally I get to eat whole foods and not count anything (I sooo love that). I’m also much further in my journey and know what I can handle and what I can’t way better than before. I still have a subscription on Foodies and I can make salad recipes they have and I must say they lately got more conscious about real food too. It’s not like it was all crap, this magazine is gourmet cooking, so the chefs use the best, most fresh ingredients, seasonal cooking and you get a lot of handy tips.
I just received my June issue and I had an idea to do recipe makeover and Paleotise the recipes, so I can still make them, but with the food I can/want to eat and lower the carb load. This issue had 61 recipes, some of them like baked goods would be harder to make and some easier. I decided to try and make Paleo makeover of all of them, with doing two recipes per week I could easily try them all by the time the new issue would come out. This would also make me more creative, eat seasonally, because lets face it, we all fall in the same patterns, eat the same foods most of the time and I want more variety and try out new veggies and new ways of cooking. I must also add that I recently reintroduced dairy to my diet and so far I had no problems with it. I still buy the raw, organic, grass fed dairy I can buy. You can always omit the dairy I use, and some variations of it that I’m sure I can’t buy grass fed, raw and organic, I just omit them from the recipe too.
Today’s recipe is Fennel risotto with Dutch shrimp. This is local shrimp specie, it’s small dark pink shrimp that has a specific sharp sea taste. You can always use regular shrimp you can get. We all know what might be a problem in this recipe and I haven’t introduced rice back in yet, although I have never had problems with it either. Usually I just look at the ingredients and decide with what it is the best to replace them, this was quite simple. Here’s the original recipe translated from Dutch:




Fennel risotto with shrimp
Servings: 4
·         2 fennels
·         1 teaspoon fennel seed
·         250g (about ½ pound) arborio rice (risotto rice)
·         75g (about 2.5 ounces) parmesan cheese
·         250g/ ½ pound North Sea or Dutch shrimp
·         1 cube stock
·         Salt and pepper
·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         2 tablespoons butter

As you can see the biggest problem that I can have is with rice and parmesan cheese. The tweaking of this recipe is quite simple, you can omit cheese and you can replace the rice with cauliflower rice. The rest of the ingredients you choose yourself and you define what the quality of those ingredients is. If you have a home made broth or stock you can easily replace the cube with that or buy one that’s organic and without harmful ingredients.
The original recipe and the rest of the risotto recipes call for cooking the rice in chicken broth for usually 18 minutes, but since I had grated cauliflower rice it’s cooked very shortly. Here’s how I cooked it:

1.      Wash the fennel, cut the core and the tops off and cut it into cubes. Original recipe asks to cook 800 ml (3,5 cups) of water with the broth cube, but I’ve cut it in half
2.      Heat the oil in the pan and sauté the fennel together with fennel seeds for 2 minutes. Then add the rice and sauté it until it gets glassy. Here I figured out that the fennel would be cooking with rice for 18 minutes, but I didn’t want to do that with cauliflower, so I was only cooking fennel on low heat for 18 minutes with the broth without the cauliflower until the broth was almost gone.
3.      At the end I added the cauliflower to cook it together. I grated the parmesan cheese. I set 2 tablespoons of precooked shrimp for serving. When the rice is done I stir in the cheese, the rest of the shrimp and the butter into risotto. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let risotto sit a minute.
4.      Divide the risotto into 4 boards and serve with shrimp on top.


It was quite delicious and filling and this way you can tweak any recipe you want.