Monday, March 2, 2015

Meringues

Meringues are a superbly light dessert from Europe - crisp on the outside, yet slightly soft on the inside. Made from egg whites, beaten until the ovalbumin protein is denatured, then baked until set and airy, meringues are surprisingly easy to make at home.

Also, slowly baked meringues are still referred to as "pets" (meaning "farts" in French) in the Loire region of France due to their light and fluffy texture. If that's not a reason to make/eat meringues, then I don't know what is! 

Farts!

 
The key to making these is the rest time - you want to let the meringues cool in the oven as the oven cools. This adds time to the process, but the amount of ACTIVE time involved in the whole process is minimal! 


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken

I haven't posted a slow-cooker recipe in a long time! This doesn't mean that I've abandoned my slow-cooker, though - at least once or twice a month, I make a "rotisserie" chicken in the slow-cooker for chicken salads, soups, etc. I also regularly make pulled pork with Boston butts or pork tenderloins!

This is a new winner in my book - shredded, tender chicken with all of the flavors of hot wings, but without having to fry/bake wings (or order from Jefferson's). If you can dump a bunch of stuff into a slow-cooker and turn it on, then you can make this meal - no prep work needed at all! Oh yeah, you can even use FROZEN chicken.


Lately, one of the local grocery stores has been running amazing deals on boneless, skinless chicken breasts - they've been on sale for $1.99 per lb, so I've been stocking up and filling my chest freezer. Making this meal allowed me to clear out a little bit of freezer room for more goodies, and I was able to eat this chicken for several days!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Almond, Chia & Flax Crackers

Some of you may have noticed the crackers in my last post - obviously I needed SOMETHING to go with my "Faux Gras"! In a low-carb diet, crackers are one of those things that you pretty much have to do without - even gluten-free folks have the option of enjoying rice-based crackers, but for low-carbers, the options are much more limited. You CAN buy flax crackers in some stores, but the price is astronomical for what you get! 

Thankfully, it's really easy to make crackers at home, even if you're like me and HATE dealing with dough! These crackers are made from an almond flour base, with flax meal for extra fiber and chia seeds for some crunch (and even more fiber - almost all of the carbs in these crackers come from dietary fiber, but not so much fiber that you'll have GI "effects"). A bit of onion and garlic powders lends some savory goodness to these crackers, which take under 20 minutes to bake in the oven - not bad compared to many recipes I've seen that take an hour or longer!


So, not only are these low-carb, but they're gluten-free as well - if you can dump a bunch of stuff in a bowl and mix it up, then you can make these; they're pretty much foolproof!

Faux Gras (Chicken Liver Pâté)

Sorry for being MIA lately - I've recently had oral surgery for a dental implant, so I've been on a soft food diet, which means I've been having a LOT of protein shakes and chia puddings. BUT, soft food doesn't have to be all THAT bad...

Because I've been enjoying some nice pâté :)

 
Pâté is one of those foods that usually elicits a visceral reaction from most people, even today when offal and nose-to-tail eating is de rigeur. It's never bothered me; I grew up loving braunschweiger and always requested extra pâté on bánh mì. At any of Huntsville's numerous German restaurants (we don't have any here in Birmingham), I almost always go for the liver and onions. Also, this being the deep South, any chicken joint worth it's salt offers deep-fried chicken livers on their menu. Needless to say, the thought of organ meats doesn't bother me in the least.


Pâté can be quite elegant, and the price of it in nicer restaurants will reflect that. Luckily, pâté is easy to make at home, as long as you can get past the ick factor of dealing with chicken livers. Personally, they don't bother me, as I grew up spending summers in small-town Alabama learning how to catch fish on a Snoopy pole with chicken livers - the best bait around, second only to Catawba worms.

Slicing the livers helps them cook evenly, which yields a smoother, creamier texture when making pâté. If you don't have a food processor, simply use a blender (jar or immersion), or even a food mill. Sealing with butter isn't necessary, but, in my opinion, makes it absolutely divine. Enjoy on crusty baguette slices or with crackers! 

Speaking of crackers, I made those myself and they're both low-carb AND gluten-free. Recipe coming soon! :)

 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DIY Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche is a soured cream (though, ironically, the name is French for "fresh cream"), similar to sour cream, or, for us Southerners, clabber (clabber is made from unpasteurized milk, where crème fraîche is made from cream)

You can purchase crème fraîche in better stores like Whole Foods, where you'll pay a premium, or you can easily make your own with heavy cream and cultured buttermilk (since, if you're like me, you ALWAYS have leftover buttermilk)


In fact, making crème fraîche is even easier than making your own yogurt! Use crème fraîche in place of sour cream or Crema Mexicana in any recipe - the taste is tangy, and the texture is rich, creamy and silky.


Oh yeah, and it's pronounced "crem fresh", not "cream fraychee", which, sadly, I have heard before.

Spoiler alert: This is basically controlled spoilage, once you realize how easy it is to make crème fraîche at home, you'll wonder WHY the stores charge so much for it. 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cream Cheese Waffles

In my last post about pancakes, I promised not to post any more pancake recipes. And I'm not. This is a WAFFLE recipe :D.

I've been wanting to try cream cheese pancakes for a while, now, but I remembered out of the blue that I have a pretty nice waffle iron. I don't know why I haven't been using it lately, especially, since, honestly, in my opinion, waffles >>>> pancakes. I love the texture, and those little pockets, perfect for catching melted butter and syrup.

I haven't used my waffle iron in over TWO years, since posting a recipe for Southern-Fried Chicken & Waffles and for Waffle House Buttermilk Waffles & Pecan Waffles. I realized that, while I like waffles more than pancakes, I also wouldn't have to FLIP a waffle, which is always the bane of my experiences with pancakes. Plus, since I now prefer flourless pancakes, they tend to be more delicate instead of fluffy.

Well...these were INCREDIBLE easy. In less than 10 minutes, I had an awesome, minimal-effort breakfast with 3 delicious, not-at-all-eggy waffles, ready for butter and some (sugar-free) syrup. From now on, I think I'll be converting ALL of my low-carb pancake recipes into waffle recipes!