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!
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