Friday, January 8, 2010

Gwuinifer's Chocolate Cake

Moist, dense, indulgently rich, very high in protein and wholesome fats, low in digestible carbohydrates, very low in sugar, gluten-free, nut-free. You won't have to feel guilty serving this at a birthday party or as an afternoon treat with tea-- there are no empty calories here! My kids love it, and so do I! (Now if I could only come up with a suitable frosting for it!)
  • 3.5 oz darkest chocolate, broken into small pieces (I used Lindt 85%, one whole bar)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350F. Heat the oils/fats in the microwave (or in a double boiler, or set over a pan of simmering water in a heatproof bowl, if you don't use microwaves) till completely melted. Add chocolate pieces, and stir till chocolate is completely melted. (If you're using a microwave, you may have to zap this mixture a few more times, but do it only for 15-20 sec. intervals, stirring well between each zap, to avoid scorching the chocolate.)

To chocolate mixture, add:
  • 1/2 c. erythritol
  • 1 t. blackstrap molasses (you can omit this to lower the carb count, but the flavor is improved greatly by it)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
Beat very well till erythritol begins to dissolve and mixture is smooth and even colored. Then add:
  • 3 large farm-fresh eggs
Beat mixture firmly until eggs are completely incorporated and mixture has thickened slightly.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients:
  • 1/3 c. coconut flour
  • 1/3 c. whey protein isolate (Make sure there are no weird flavors/sweeteners/additives; just protein in powdered form- I like Bob's Red Mill for this purpose.)
  • 1/4 c. carob powder
  • 3/4 t. aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 t. pure stevia extract (I use NuNaturals; a pure dry form. If you are using liquid stevia, your amount may differ; be sure combine it with the chocolate mixture above instead of adding it here.)
Add dry ingredients to wet; stir well to combine. Scrape the whole mess into a buttered glass baking dish. A round glass pie plate, 8" or 9" diameter, or a 8"sq. baking dish will both work; if you use a deeper or more shallow pan, or if you are making cupcakes, your baking time will vary widely, so keep a careful eye on these. Spread batter evenly in dish. Bake for 20min at 350F, then decrease heat to 325F, and bake for an additional 10-15min. Check with a toothpick in the center; the cake is done when it springs back when poked with a finger, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

You can serve this warm, which is yummy, especially with homemade ice cream or a hot berry or caramel sauce, but be advised it can be rather hard to handle until it has cooled slightly. For best presentation, allow to cool a bit until it has firmed up. If you are going to frost it, or serve it as a layer cake, it must cool completely before handling. I usually let mine sit overnight.

Bonus points:
For the adventurous new cook, or those who want the very best texture and an evenly baked cake and are willing to do a little bit of extra work for it, I highly recommend cooking this au bain marie. Just set your cake pan into a larger pan (a 9x13 casserole dish will do the trick), and fill the outer pan with at least an inch of very hot (preferably boiling) water. If this is your first time, here's a hint: ALWAYS put the cake pan into the larger pan BEFORE you add boiling water. This is the voice of experience talking, heh.

Best luck; and let me know how you like it if you try out the recipe!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lemon Curd Tart with Almond Shorbread Crust

An intensely lemony-sweet indulgence that's a perfect finish for a Memorial Day barbecue, this tart got top marks from kids and grown-ups. Consider making this a whole day ahead, because it benefits hugely from being chilled overnight before serving.

Old-Fashioned Lemon Curd

A healthier rendition of the tea-time classic, but free of refined sugar. This recipe makes enough for two tarts. Or use half on the tart, and keep the other half in your fridge for up to a week to use as a tasty topping for my healthy Pancakers, or Spanish Almond Torte.
  • 6 fresh large eggs
  • 1/4 c. raw honey (I use this for texture, but you can replace it with more erythritol if you're really watching your sugar intake closely)
  • 1/4 c. erythritol
  • 1/8 t. powdered PURE stevia extract
  • 1 c. lemon juice
  • 1 T. freshly grated lemon zest (or if you want your curd totally smooth, use a few drops of lemon oil)
  • 3/4 c. butter, very soft (or substitute coconut oil, if you're watching dairy)
In a medium saucepan (don't turn on the heat just yet), whisk eggs, honey, and sweeteners till creamy, lemon yellow, and completely amalgamated. Add the butter, and break up into pieces with the whisk. Stir in lemon juice, and turn heat on to medium.

Whisk continuously over medium heat, taking care to scrape sides and bottom frequently. Keep whisking! It will seem runny and frothy for a while, but don't give up! After the butter is all melted, and before the mixture rises to a full boil, it will very suddenly 'set', and get nice and thick and gelatinous. At this point, constant stirring is crucial to prevent lumps of scrambled egg in your beautiful curd.

As soon as the mixture hits a boil, remove it from the heat, and continue to whisk gently for another minute or so, to begin the cooling process. Allow to cool slightly, then move to a covered container to chill in the fridge for a few hours. (Keep in mind that, prepared with honey, this recipe is not very low-carb, and is definitely not suitable for early phases of any carb-restrictive diet. If you want it low-carb, be sure to omit the honey and substitute a low-carb sweetener. I'd recommend adding a bit of xanthum or guar gum to help with texture.) Total recipe is about 86 gr. net carbs, so keep that in mind when portioning. We'll be using only half of it on our tart.

Almond Shortbread

(this was inspired by Lauren's recipe from Healthy Indulgences)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. erythritol
  • 1/4 t. powdered pure stevia extract
  • 1/4 t. xantham gum (optional, but it helps the texture quite a bit)
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1 c. almond flour
  • 1/4 c. oat flour (or, to cut carbs further, you can use soy flour, but I don't like the taste of it personally)
Preheat oven to 375F. Combine all dry ingredients, and mix well. Beat in the butter until well-combined. Spread mixture in the bottom of a 9" springform pan, taking care to go up the sides slightly to create a well for the curd. Bake for 15 minutes, and allow to cool completely. Whole recipe is about 22gr. net carbohydrates. (Using soy flour shaves about 5gr. carbs off this total)

Lemon Curd Tart

1/2 recipe Old-Fashioned Lemon Curd
1 recipe Almond Shortbread

Spread curd into springform pan, filling crust. Cover, and allow to set up for at least a couple of hours, or better yet, overnight. Serve chilled with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired. Whole tart is about 65 gr. net carbs, but I got 12 servings out of mine, making each slice about 5.4 gr., which is not too bad-- if you can stop at one slice! :)

I am considering testing out a version with a sour cream/cream cheese layer, and my husband is begging me to try making a meringue for it. Without sugar, I don't know how meringue will turn out, but I'm willing to try it for him! If anyone has tried this, please drop me a line!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spanish Almond Torte

Based on a traditional Majorcan recipe, often served with almond ice cream, now reinvented for those watching sugar/carbohydrate/gluten in their diets.

This is a basic torte, springy and firm, that serves as a fabulous vehicle for fresh seasonal berries (right now, rhubarb or strawberries 'spring' to mind) , or it can be spiced up and served as gingerbread in the cooler months, with spiced whipped cream. I served it last Thanksgiving with lots of ginger, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon, layered with thinly sliced apples that I carmelized in a sizzling cast iron skillet. It would also be fabulous with tea, topped with a dollop of Lemon Curd, which is how I'll be enjoying it this week. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Spanish Almond Torte
  • 1.5 c. almond flour
  • 1/2 c. erythritol
  • 1 t. molasses
  • 1/8 t. pure stevia extract, powdered
  • 4 lg. eggs, separated
  • 2 T. grated lemon zest (or 1/4 t. lemon oil, or 1/2 t. lemon extract)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
Butter a 9" cake pan, up the sides as well. Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with half of the erythritol until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a seperate bowl, beat yolks with molasses, the other half of the erythritol, the vanilla extract, and the lemon zest (or oil/extract). In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients (almonds, stevia, cinnamon, salt). Add dry mixture to yolk mixture and beat the dickens out of it. Fold a heaping spoonful of the whites into this mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whites, taking care not to deflate them.

Transfer batter to pan, and bake about 25-30 minutes, or until tester comes out clean in the center. Less than 25gr. net carbs for the entire recipe, meaning if you get 8 generous slices out of this, each only has about 3 gr. net. Yummy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Classic Pumpkin Pie

I wanted a flavorful, rich, classic pumpkin pie, nothing too custardy; this is what I came up with. I was pleased, and I hope you will be too! This is a wholesome, natural holiday classic, done gluten- and sugar-free, chock-full of healthy fats and easy on the blood sugar. (Pictures will be added whenever I make this next-- or if you make it, I'll be glad to post one of your pictures here!)

Classic Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 T. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 12 drops stevia extract, to taste
  • 1/4 c. erythritol, powdered
  • 1 c. almond flour (or very fine meal)
  • 3 T. coconut flour
  • 1/8 t. xanthan or guar gum
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
In a 9" glass pie pan, combine oil and butter; melt. Add stevia. Combine dry ingredients seperately in a small bowl, then dump them into the pie dish, mix well, and press into bottom and sides evenly. Bake at 350F for 11-14min. or until set and very lightly browned. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 c. cooked, pureed pumpkin (approx. 15oz. can)
  • 1.5 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ginger
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. cloves
  • 1/8 t. cardamom
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. molasses
  • 1/4 t. stevia extract (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. erythritol
  • 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 t. xanthan gum
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or etc, together with xanthan gum. I've found this helps keep the gum from clumping up.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sweeteners, and spices. Add pumpkin, cream, and cheese. Combine thoroughly, but try not to incorporate too much air. Pour into cooled crust, and bake at 350F for 40-60min. or until set in the center.

Input, please! :)

Well, here we are, heading into spring, and oh, have I ever been naughty about posting. I'm working on streamlining my posting technique, but right now, its taking me almost two hours to put up a recipe, and that's AFTER I've photographed it/made it, and I just have not been making the time for it successfully. Anyhow, here are the updates:

Both the pumpkin pie (which turned out yummy!) and the spice cake (which was liked, but not exactly what I wanted) that I promised back in November were swiftly devoured before I could snap any pictures of them. However, I have since remade the cake (with appropriate tweaks, only sans fancy layers, ready for your personal favorite fillings, etc), photographed it (though humbly) and will shortly be posting it as Spanish Almond Torte.

However, I haven't really been in the mood for Classic Pumpkin Pie again since the holidays are over, so... Either I can post the recipe without pictures, and perhaps one of you can submit pics of your own implementations (which I would LOVE to see!!!), or I can wait to post it till I make it again-- which, knowing myself, I assume won't be until the weather goes Autumn-ish again. Leave me your comments, let me know what you think! (Update: I posted it, sans pictures. I'm sure I'll make it again next fall!)

The Tom Khar Kai I posted today, and I have pictures languishing on my hard drive for the Eggplant Lasagna (which we've been making far too often, and ought to be ashamed of our gluttonous ways).

I've been toying with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting recently, which had all the body and flavor that I was hoping for; yet, due to the erythritol, had an unpleasant grittiness and a harsh aftertaste that I'm not happy with yet, so no progress on that front. If I can manage it, I'll be a happy camper. (Update: As of May '09, still not happy with my experiments. Still trying!)

Also, I have been baking with carob, and have hatched a glorious, darkest-chocolate cake. Details to follow. (Update: made this bad boy for Easter Sunday. Took pictures. Oh man.)

In parting, Easter is nearing again, and that means lemon bars. If anyone has any recipes I can get started with, I'd be greatly obliged to them! :D (Update: Made Lemon Curd Tart instead!)

Hope you're having a beautiful week!

Tom Khar Kai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

When you're sick with winter sniffles, chicken soup might be the most comforting of foods. But sometimes, when I'm really clogged up and sore of throat, old-fashioned grandmotherly chicken soup just doesn't register with my dulled senses. That's when I pull out the big guns-- punchy lime, spicy fresh garlic, tangy-hot fresh ginger, and red curry paste that packs a sinus-clearing wallop.

That's right-- Thai. Its good for what ails you! Garlic, citrus, ginger, onion-- all chock full of antioxidants, and supportive to an immune system under duress. But don't wait for the flu to make this wonderful soup-- its awesome any time of year, and although there are a few ingredients that might send you hunting the aisles, once you have them on hand, its easy to throw together. We make this soup at least once a month, and more during the snuffly-sniffly days of late winter and early spring.

This is one recipe where I'm going to exhort you not to swap out dried ingredients for the fresh ones specified, and BEG you not to skip the garnishes. This soup is not complicated, but it is a sum of vital parts, and if you leave anything out, it suffers. Have someone keep you company while you chop and mince; stick a bunch of cilantro in their hands and enjoy a quiet chat while the luscious smells mingle together and waft up from your knife and cutting board to tantalize you. Breathe deeply. This is food the way it was meant to be.

Tom Khar Kai
Serves 6
Garnish: 2 limes, cut into wedges; 1/2 bunch of cilantro, rinsed and plucked.
  • 1/4 c. minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. minced ginger (I throw these both into my mini food processor together.)
  • 2 T. red curry paste (Adjust to taste-- this amount would be mild by my estimation.)
  • 1 lg. sweet onion, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1/4 c. of coconut oil (or vegetable or peanut oil)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 - 2 lbs. mushrooms, sliced (Traditionally straw mushrooms, but I've used many types and been pleased! Cremini or white are my favorites, and more readily available than straw.)
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, cut diagonally into 1" chunks (I cheated and used lemongrass paste here-- not the best option, but fresh was out of stock.)
  • 1/4 c. chicken soup stock base (I use paste-type bouillion)
  • 2 - 14 oz. cans of coconut milk (plus 7 c. water, or 4 - 14 oz. cans' worth)
  • 1 t. sea salt, to taste
  • 2 T. fish sauce (nam pla), to taste
Prepare and set aside all ingredients (except garnish, which can be prepared during the simmer stage). Like all Thai curries, this goes together in a rush, so have everything ready and waiting at hand. I can't overemphasize this step.

Heat coconut oil in large, heavy bottomed pot over as high heat as you are comfortable with. I work over pretty high heat, but the first time you may want to start lower, until you get a feel for this process.

When oil is hot, add curry paste; smush with a rubber spatula, stir-frying till bubbly and spread into a thin layer.

Add garlic and ginger; stir-fry, keeping it moving constantly, scraping the pan, till amalgamated and garlic is softening slightly.

Add onions, stir well to coat; then stir in stock paste. Continue stirring and scraping till onions are starting to soften and become translucent.

Add chicken, and salt; stir-fry. If pan is sticking, go ahead and add coconut milk at this point. Otherwise, wait till the chicken is white on the outside, then add coconut milk, lemongrass, and 4 cans of water.

Bring this to a boil; then add mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer about 10 minutes, or till chicken is fully cooked in the center and mushrooms are softened slightly. Add fish sauce, adjust to taste.

I usually add 1/4 c. or more fresh lime juice after I take the soup off the heat, but I'll leave that up to you; certain times of year, limes are more readily available and less expensive than others!)Either way, garnish with lots of cilantro and fresh lime wedges for squeezing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy New Year!

Sorry I've been so long between posts! Holidays are crazy around here, and after so many parties in a row I wanted to avoid my kitchen for a while. But I'm back in the saddle and will be updating this week! I've been snapping pictures, and I think the pumpkin pie is decent enough to share now after a few rounds of tweaks. The cake turned out great, and I think I'll post the eggplant lasagna I've been making recently if I can get some decent pictures taken. More soon!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving preview!

Two recipes I'm working on this week: Classic Pumpkin Pie (of course), and an apple-spice layer cake which as yet remains Unnamed. The spice cake is an augmentation of a traditional flourless Spanish almond torte, which I've been enjoying in many incarnations lately (including a gingerbread one that I will be sharing the week after Thanksgiving, most likely). Layered with apples and whipped cream-cheese frosting, this is a treat-- a moderate-carb dessert suitable for maintenance phases of low-carb diets. You could, of course, substitute real apples for Lauren's brilliant Faux-Apples (made with chayote squash, and fantastic!) for an even lower effective carb count.

Thanksgiving is at my house this week, though, so I might be delayed! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lauren's Ooey Gooey Brownies

Tag-back Thursday- I'm going to attempt to make a recipe from another blog at least once a week and post the results on Thursdays.

This week, my favorite brownies EVER- low-carb, gluten-free, and totally friggin' amazing!

I made them in 'au bain marie' as she suggested, but left out the nuts. I have been making these to my family's delight since she posted the recipe, and they turn out wonderful. We've done a couple different variants; once we added quite a bit of cocoa powder, freshly grated cinnamon, and some ground chili pepper! Woo hoo! Right now I'm working on a version with a cheesecake layer for the holidays-- with her permission, I'll post the recipe if I get it to work out the way I want it.

Lauren's Brownies, with Blackberry-Vanilla Sauce, à la mode

Blackberry-Vanilla Sauce
  • 1 1/2 c. blackberries (we picked ours at Graysmarsh Farm)
  • 2 T. erythritol
  • 6 dr. stevia extract (or use 2 pkts of Splenda instead of stevia/erythritol)
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground cinnamon
Set blackberries in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mush. Add sweeteners and simmer till thickened, about 5 minutes. (Depending on your blackberries, you may need to adjust the sweetener, more or less.) Stir in vanilla and cinnamon; simmer about 1 minute more. Allow to cool slightly, and serve over ice cream, brownies, whipped cream, or just about anything you like!

Keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container. I've never figured out how long it would last because its always gone within two days around here. I'd figure it would keep as well as any sugar-free jam might; at very least a week.

Zuppa Toscana

Nothing beats cold weather like a steaming bowl of soup. There is a pot boiling on our stove of some soup or another at least once or twice a week during the grey months of the Pacific Northwest. A perennial favorite soup (before we started excluding starchy foods) was Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden. We've attempted to replicate it over the years, and came up with this version, which in our opinion captures all our favorite aspects of the original. With cauliflower standing in for potatoes in this version, the carbohydrates are low enough to be appropriate even for people in the earlier phases of carb-restrictive diets.

A comfort food during cold winter months, this soup is hearty and heart-warming. Italian sausage and bacon (or pancetta even, if you want to get fancy!) in a creamy spicy broth, this soup is a delicious way to introduce your family (or even yourself) to the nutritional powerhouse that is kale. Kale is a seasonal vegetable that I've wasn't introduced to until about two years ago, and since then I've been making an effort to include it in my family's diet. This is a 'gateway' recipe, for people who want to start cooking with kale but haven't enjoyed it in the past. This soup manages to tempt even the steadfast kale-protester! My veggie-suspicious son has named this his "Favorite Meal." I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Gwuinifer's LC "Zuppa Toscana"
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped (or 1/2 c. pancetta, chopped)
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (or four sausages, casings removed)
  • 1 head cauliflower, sliced 1/4" thick and broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bunch kale, tough stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped or diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. Chicken bullion paste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, for serving
In a large skillet, fry bacon pieces till chewy/crisped but not crunchy. Remove from drippings with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Set aside.

Add chopped onions and garlic to the bacon drippings, and cook over medium-high till onions are beginning to soften. Add sausage to pan and brown, breaking up sausage into kidney bean-sized crumbles.

While sausage is browning, bring 8 c. water to a boil in a large pot. Dissolve bullion into pot.

Add cauliflower to skillet with onions/garlic/sausage and cook for about 5 minutes over medium-high to mingle flavors. Add cauliflower mixture to pot, deglazing skillet with a bit of the boiling chicken broth if necessary.

Add kale to pot; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste; add red pepper flakes if using (we like it a bit spicy, so we use about 1/2 t. plus hot Italian sausage).

Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender and kale is bright green and tender. Add cream; stir well and remove from heat.

Top each portion with bacon and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Serves 8.
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