Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Joys of Old Cookbooks or Cold Clam Bisque

I’m a cookbook junkie. A few years ago, I resolved to cut back on my cookbook habit (primarily because I was running out of book space in my home and not buy any new cookbooks. Well, I’ve been doing a good job at it. However, two weekends ago, I found myself browsing through the bookshop at my local public library. The library sells old books to make room for new ones on their shelves and also donated books. It seems people leave boxes of unwanted books at the doorstep in the middle of the night. The proceeds go to a reading program for children.

A few cookbooks caught my attention. Because they aren’t new books and because they were dirt cheap, I bought them. And felt very guilty afterwards.

I thumbed through one of the books "It’s A Picnic" by Nancy Fair McIntyre published by The Viking Press, copyright 1969. I know what you’re thinking "Eeewwwwww, American food before the California cuisine craze was just a lot of open this can and that can and mix it together." Okay, there are recipes for fried chicken, meatloaf, baked stuffed apples, and stuffed eggs. And some of the recipes do use canned food, but the majority use fresh ingredients and real ingredients (no margarine, artificial sweeteners, etc.)

Also my snobby foodie friend, those recipes are found side-by-side with the likes of tabbouli, vitello tonnato, carnitas, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), and Indonesian Pork sate. These recipes might have been exotic in the late 60’s but are commonplace in glossy food magazines and tv shows today.

I can imagine the "Steak with Tarragon Marinade" and the "Cold Scotch Salmon" served with "Dill Sauce" appearing in the now-defunct Gourmet magazine. And the steak with lime sauce is in the same vein as Jacques Pepin’s Skirt Steak Grandma. Even the "Walnut-Cheese Burger", a combination of ground beef, grated cheddar cheese and chopped walnuts, might appear in food magazines as a "healthier" version using lean beef or turkey and low fat cheese and paired with the "Cold Broccoli Salad".

One of the more interesting descriptions is for the Green Pepper Pot, a casserole of ground beef and rice, which Mrs. McIntyre states "will feed a hungry crew of 6 for under $3. 00". Now that’s a bargain!

Of all the recipes in the book, the one that begged me to try it was the "Cold Clam Bisque" on page 54, Chapter IV "Picnics Afloat". Mrs. McIntyre states some of the recipes in this chapter were given to her by members of the Balboa Yacht Club (http://www.balboayachtclub.com/) in Newport Beach, California. Unfortunately, she did not indicate if the bisque was one of them. But the soup looked easy to make and needed no tweaking to make it low carb.

Here’s the recipe as written in the book. Don’t let the canned clams put you off to it. I made 1/3 of the recipe on the test run and it made a very generous 2 1/2 cups of soup. It is VERY rich soup, so small servings (1/2 cup at the very most) is more than enough. And yes, I’m sure you can use fresh clams that you, yourself, dug out of the sand, shucked, and poached after you milked the cow and separated the cream. ;-)

Three 7-1/2 ounce cans minced clam
1 ½ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 cup finely chopped ice
3 ½ cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped chives
Put minced clams with their liquid in a blender. Ad the celery salt, cayenne, thyme, and 1 cup finely chopped ice. Blend until almost smooth. Remove cover and pour in the heavy cream while blender is going. Blend for another minute. Sprinkle soup with chopped chives before serving.

Cold Clam Bisque-Tweaked Version (not as rich, but still good.)
Three 7-1/2 ounce cans minced clam
1 ½ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 cup finely chopped ice
2 cups clam juice or water or a mixture or clam juice and water
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped chives
Put minced clams with their liquid in a blender. Ad the celery salt, cayenne, thyme, and 1 cup finely chopped ice. Blend until almost smooth. Add the clam juice (or water) and blend again. Remove cover and pour in the heavy cream while blender is going. Blend for another minute. Sprinkle soup with chopped chives before serving.

If you want a soup with more clam chowder-like texture, you can substitute chopped clams for the minced clams and mix all the ingredients in a bowl, skipping the blender entirely.

Also you can heat the soup if you would like it hot. Just be careful when you heat it because heavy cream has a tendency to boil over (at least it does for me.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing?

The May 20, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contains this interesting correspondence: Myxedema Coma Inducted by Ingestion of Raw Bok Choy. The letter was submitted by Michael Chu, MD and Terry F. Seltzer, MD, both of the New York University School of Medicine.

In summary, an 88-year old Chinese woman with diabetes was brought to the emergency room because she was lethargic and unable to walk for the past 3 days. The family reported she was eating 1 to 1.5 kilograms of raw bok choy daily for several months in the belief it would help control her diabetes. She had no thyroid disease.

In the emergency room, they found that her legs and eyelids were swollen and her tongue enlarged. And she was comatose. They did a bunch of labs on her and found that her thyroid tests were abnormal. She survived after intense medical therapy.

Drs. Chu and Seltzer discuss that cabbage contains substances called glucosinolates. The glucosinolates breakdown into compounds that have been implicated for their inhibitory effects on the thyroid. To complicate matters, when eaten raw, members of the cabbage family release another compound, myrosinase, that accelerates the breakdown of the glucosinolates. However, cooking the veg seems to deactivates the myrosinase.

What struck me as curious was the amount of raw bok choy this lady was eating daily---1 to 1.5 kilograms (2.2 to 3.3 pounds). Okay, okay, you say that no one would eat 2-3 pounds of raw bok choy daily. That would be an insane amount that no one could possibly keep up for more than a few days.

Or could they?

1 kilogram of raw bok choy per the USDA Nutrient Database has 20. 3 net carbs. (NOTE: bok choy is listed as Chinese cabbage pe tsai on the Database). So if an Atkineer aims to get at least one half---or more!-- of their daily net carbs from veggies alone and if they do as this unfortunate lady did, then perhaps the New England Journal of Medicine will receive another letter reporting myxedema coma and severe hypothyroidism in a person who went overboard on their veggie choice.

I think there were two things in play here: 1. The idea that “because it’s a vegetable, it can’t possibly be bad for you” and 2. The idea of “if alittle is good, then a lot must be better.” As this unfortunate case shows, vegetables should not be taken for granted and that moderation---even with vegetables--- is the key to health.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Low Carb Sushi Rolls---Purists Avert Thy Eyes!

Lots of low carbers try to make sushi rolls low carb. I have read lots of recipes using the cauliflower-rice recipe as the rice substitute. The drawback with the cauliflower rice recipe is that the cauli-rice does not stick together.

When I was thumbing through a Raw Foods Vegan cookbook, I saw recipes for Vietnamese-type spring rolls using shredded daikon radish or shredded carrot as the substitute for the rice noodles usually found in spring rolls. My little brain started doing backflips! What if I used shredded daikon radish as the rice substitute for sushi rolls?

Unfortunately my local international grocery store did not have a single diakon radish. But they had a special on jicama (89 cents a pound!---that’s cheap in my neck of the woods). Why wouldn't jicama work?

Traditional sushi rice is cooked short-grain rice seasoned with sugar, salt and vinegar (typically rice). Since the jicama has a natural sweetness, I tossed it with a bit of rice wine vinegar. To avoid watery jicama, I sprinkled the salt on just before I rolled the roll.

So the jicama rice would not fall into tiny pieces, I coarsely shredded it, rather than grated it. The shreds do not fall out of the sushi due to the size. I found using a box grater to be better than my Cuisinart food processor shredder blade, because I can make the shreds finer by using less pressure while shredding the jicama.

Using jicama will make the sushi crunchy, which is not the usual texture of sushi rolls. But I don’t find the crunchiness offensive at all. In fact, after having an authentic sushi roll a few nights ago, I find the texture the jicama gives the low carb roll to be more satisfying.

For the sushi "rice"
Peel and shred one jicama using the shred holes on a box grater. Put into a bowl. Add about ½ to 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, toss. Set aside.

For the sushi rolls:
Crab roll:
use the meat of either Alaskan king crab or snow crab claws (do not use the imitation crab because it is high in carbs!). Mix the meat with a bit of mayonnaise or softened cream cheese, using just enough for the crab to loosely hold together.
California roll: Dice avocado. And extract the meat from either the Alaskan king crab legs or snow crab legs.
Salmon roll: I use Scottish or cold smoked salmon because I’m too squeamish to eat raw fish!

Get rolling:
Put the nori sheet on a paper towel (fancy folks have the bamboo rolling mat, but a paper towel works just as well!) Put about ½ cup of the shredded jicama on the sheet. Spread it evenly so that it covers about 2/3 of the sheet. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the jicama. If desired, smear some wasabi paste down the middle of the jicama. Layer your filling on top. And roll. Slice. Arrange prettily on a plate. Eat.

(One of these days, I will find stem ginger to make my own pickled ginger slices, until then I'm stuck using the pickled ginger made with artificial sweetener my international store sells.)

Monday, October 19, 2009


My public library puts new books prominently on display, in hopes that readers will definitely judge a book by its cover. A few weeks ago, I saw displayed a book with the word "Fat" on it. Below that 3-letter word was a raw well-marbled beef rib eye steak, balanced upright on a plate. A beautiful looking cut of meat and a beautiful example of the book’s title.

Of course, I borrowed the book. A wonderful book it is too. For the food curious, it explains dietary fat, particularly animal based dietary fat. For the food historian, it mentions the historical significance of animal fat (Who knew Michelangelo snacked on lardo, a raw cured pork fat? That was never mentioned in my art appreciation class!) For the food lover, recipes using---you guessed it---fat.

Of particular interest to me were the Fat charts, which broke down the percentage of unsaturated and saturated fats in the more common animal fats. Here is my compilation of it:

% Monounsaturated 57
% Polyunsaturated 11
% Saturated 28

% Monounsaturated 50
% Polyunsaturated 13
% Saturated 33

% Monounsaturated 45
% Polyunsaturated 21
% Saturated 30

Lard/Bacon Fat:
% Monounsaturated 45
% Polyunsaturated 11
% Saturated 39

% Monounsaturated 43
% Polyunsaturated 23
% Saturated 29

Beef Tallow/Suet:
% Monounsaturated 42
% Polyunsaturated 2
% Saturated 47

Lamb Tallow:
% Monounsaturated 40
% Polyunsaturated 9
% Saturated 47

% Monounsaturated 30
% Polyunsaturated 4
% Saturated 50

The figures vary with the breed and diet of the animal. The figures sum of the figures may not equal 100 due to water and connective tissue in the fat, and in the case of butter, milk solids.

Suet is specifically the fat that surrounds the kidney of an animal.

Tallow is the rendered fat from cattle and sheep

Dripping is the fat and meat juices that drip from the meat as it cooks. There are two components to dripping: the fat and the meat juices. After refrigerating the drippings, the fat will solidify and can be skimmed off and used as you would any other fat. The meat juices are concentrated flavor and will jellify when refrigerated. It is a good addition to sauces, soups and stews.

(adapted from Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan)

I thought it would be fun to see how the monounsaturated portions of these animal fats stacked up to olive oil. Olive oil has one of the highest monounsaturated fat percentages at 72.9 % (Sat 13.8%, Polyunsat 10.5%). On the Megs Monounsaturated Fat Score it is assigned a score of 10

Megs Monounsaturated Fat Score (MMFS):
Olive oil = 10
Goose fat = 7.8
Duck = 6.9
Lard/Bacon fat= 6.1
Turkey= 5.8
Beef Tallow/Dripping= 5.7
Lamb Tallow=5.4

Maybe having roast goose for Christmas isn't a bad idea.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meet Steve

This spring I went to an herb and plant festival and purchased a stevia plant. Let me be honest, I’m not crazy about stevia sweeteners in packets because I’m one of those people who can detect an off-herby bitter flavor those packets impart to foods. While I do not mind herby-bitter flavors in savory foods like soups and stews, I do mind it in foods like tea and puddings. So I purchased a stevia in hopes that fresh stevia would be better than the stuff in the packets. Plus I wanted to see if I could grow it. (Part of my gardening madness is seeing if I can grow it and keep it alive.)

When I got home, I plucked a leaf off Steve to taste it. The leaf has no flavor at all until you bite it, then it releases a sweetness. I would hesitate to call that sweetness sugary or honey-like, but it is sweet. The more you chew the more sweetness is released as are the more herby qualities of the stevia. The herbiness is a bit like anise with undertones of tarrragon. Not too bad.

Anyhow, the first problem I ran into is that stevia is a subtropical plant. I do not live in a subtropical area, so Steve has to come indoors during the winter. Which meant I had to find a container that would be large enough to accommodate Steve in the fall. In my research on the Net, I found that Steve had the potential to grow a few feet. That would mean Steve’s container would have to be a few feet too. But I decided to buy Steve a 10 inch container and move him to a bigger container in the fall if he needed it.

The second problem was Steve’s appearance. He was a single, long, gangly stem. The Net sources I read said that you can cut the stevia to make it branch. I cut Steve to the second leaf juncture. He looked pitiful. As I examined the 15 inch cutting more, I thought it would be a shame to throw it away. Besides, what if Steve did not survive his haircut? I couldn’t let Steve die: he cost me $5 plus another $8.50 for his container! I divided the cutting into 5 sections, grabbed a jar of rooting hormone and planted the Stevettes in a potting soil mix. Then I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

It took a week, but Steve began to grow side branches. The new growth looked healthier and the leaves were larger. I continued trimming Steve and using the leaves. The Stevettes (Steve, Stefan, Stefano, Esteban and Stephie) did not do much at all for 1 month. Then Steve Jr began sprouting side shoots, followed by the other Stevettes. I trimmed them back too to encourage new growth and they have been doing nicely.

I will continue taking care of Steve, Steve Jr, Stefan, Stefano, Esteban and Stephie and see if they will do well over the winter. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

What I learned about using fresh stevia:

1. The leaves must be cut or bruised in order to release the sweetness. Floating a leaf in water or trying to infuse it as you would tea, ain’t going to do much.

2.The sweetness of the leaves vary. Sometimes the leaves are sweeter than other times. Sources on the Net say that the leave are sweetest right before the plant blooms. I allowed Steve to get bud and his leaves are much sweeter now than before. Also I have found that the sweetness varies from plant to plant. For example, Steve Jr. is sweeter than Stefan, Stefano, Esteban and Stephie.

3.Stevia stems have no sweetness. It’s only the leaves. So don’t bother trying to extract anything from the stems.

4.Stevia leaves can be dried. Ground dried stevia leaves are called "green stevia powder". I have dried some stevia leaves and will be experimenting with that over the winter.

5.Fresh stevia leaves when prepared using the method described in the Stevia Water recipe does not impart a bitter-herb flavor to the food, per my tastebuds.

Stevia Water
Stevia leaves
You will need a mortar and pestle or a sturdy bowl and a spoon with a heavy handle. For every stevia leaf use 1 teaspoon of water.

Put the stevia leaves and the appropriate amount of water into the mortar. Using the pestle, pound the leaves. If you are using a sturdy bowl and heavy handled spoon, put the leaves and water into the bowl, holding the handle in your hand, so that the spoon belly is facing up, carefully, pound the leaves to bruise them.

The leaves will turn a darker green color where they have been bruised. When the leaves have been thorough bruised, remove them, taking care to squeeze as much liquid from the leaves as possible. The liquid in the mortar will be greenish. Taste it and it will be sweet. Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays for future use.

Just remember that since the sweetness of the leaves may vary, your Stevia water may vary from batch to batch too.

Cold Infusion Herb Tea
Makes 1-2 quarts
2 sprigs stevia
2-3 sprigs fresh herbs (mint, tarragon, lemon verbena, lemon balm, lavender, etc.)
1-2 quarts cold water

Place the stevia and herbs on a chopping board. Using the back of a knife or meat tenderizer, tap/beat the herbs until herbs turn a darker green color. That darker green color indicates that the cell walls have been damaged and the essential oils (in the case of the stevia, the sweetness) have been released. Scrape the herbs into a pitcher. Add the water.

Allow to infuse in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving, stir to evenly distribute the flavors. Once you have finished the beverage, don’t throw away the herbs. Simply add another quart of water and allow to infuse overnight again. This can be done one more time before the flavors are completely used up.

Good tea combinations:
Tarragon and lemon verbena
Tarragon and lemon balm
Mint and lemon balm
Mint and borage

Be aware that these herbs have some medicinal properties. For example, both tarragon and lemon verbena are diuretics and lavender has some sedative properties. For that matter, stevia is said to be a diuretic too.

Also, you may make the iced tea by using boiling water, rather than cold water. But I think the cold infusion technique results in a complex flavor and aroma more true to the fresh herb. Heat will cause some of those aromatic oils to evaporate into the air. So the air will be well flavored but your herbal tea will not.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Re-Post of a Post

I learned that yahoo will discontinue geocities.com. So I'm moving some of the stuff I had in my geocities page to here. This is a repost of a post of a thread I did on atkinsdietbulletinboard.com a long time ago.

Salad. To most of us, it means a big bowl of lettuce. Sometimes there are other things on it (soggy bacon bits, stale croutons, etc.) and big glob of some kind of creamy dressing or worse a really oily, sour dressing (yuck!)

But salad does not have to be lettuce. A salad can be a mixture of chopped peppers, cucumbers and jicama tossed with alittle oil and lemon juice (and a healthy grinding of black pepper). A salad can be wilted, such as the popular wilted spinach salads.

That brings me to a good point: all the vegetables on the “salad” list can be cooked. Yes, including the lettuces! In fact, cooking these veggies gives them a different taste and texture that adds variety to your daily menu. Note: my Atkins book of reference is Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, 3rd ed. The below list is from there.


ALFALFA SPROUTS:Best raw, imo. But can be lightly sauteed and added to egg dishes like omelettes or to brothy type soups like egg-drop.

ARUGULA:Bitter green. Thinly slice and sautee in oil or butter with garlic. You can sautee it alone or mix it with another milder green vegetable, like spinach or Swiss chard. Chop or thinly slice and use raw or lightly sauteed in egg dishes.

BOK CHOY: Also known as Chinese or Asian Celery. Mild green vegetables. Use the leafy parts and the white stems. Slice and use sautee like ARUGULA. Or use it in stir-fry with other vegetables. Can be used raw or lightly sauteed in egg dishes or brothy type soups.

CELERY:Thinly slice or slice into match sticks and add to stir fry, or soup. Can be used in making vegetable broth.

CHICORY: Bitter green. Prepare like ARUGULA.

CUCUMBER: De-seed, chop or slice and sautee in butter or oil (a classic accompaniment to sole or turbot fillets). Thinly slice and add to sour cream for a sauce similar to raita (Indian cucumber and yogurt sauce). Sautee lightly and add to a mixture of chicken broth and water, puree and chill for a cucumber soup.

DAIKON: Also known as Chinese Radish, Asian Radish, Japanese RadishPeel and parboil. A useful potato substitute in gratins, hash browns, stew, roasted as side vegetable for roast beef, chicken, etc. Can be used without parboiling in stir fry or thin brothy Asian style soups.

ENDIVE: Also known as Belgium Endive. Note: Endive and Chicory are essentially the same vegetable. Endive are the young shoots that are raised in the dark to decrease the bitterness and to keep the vegetable a creamy white color. Bitter vegetable. Best raw, imo, stuffed with chicken or tuna salad, cream cheese etc. Can be split lengthwise and braised as a side dish or can be sauteed lightly like ARUGULA.

ESCAROLE: Bitter green. Prepare and cook like ARUGULA. This is the vegetable green found in many Italian soups, like Italian Wedding Soup and Stricatella (an Italian egg-drop soup).

FENNEL: Also known as Sweet Anise. It looks similar to celery, except the stem-end is broader and the leaves are frondy. Cut the stems away from the broad base. The stems and fronds can be used too. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with them and put a whole chicken or whole fish on top of them; it imparts a nice flavor and aroma to the roast. Has a licorice/anise flavor. Tastes best raw, imo, thinly sliced in a salad with raw thinly sliced mushrooms and drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, pepper and shaved Parmesan or Romano cheese. Can be thinly sliced and lightly sauteed. The base can be split in half and braised. Or made into a cream soup.

JICAMA: Best raw, imo. You chop the peeled jicama into cubes, mix with celery and mayo for a low carb version of Waldorf Salad. Cut them into fine matchsticks and mix with matchstick sized cuts of celeriac (from the 1-Cup List) and mayo for another salad. They can be used in stir fry as a water chestnut substitute. I’ve heard they can be baked and mashed, but I’ve never tried it that way.

LETTUCE: All lettuce can be cooked. (Repeat after me: all lettuce can be cooked) Slice and sautee in oil or butter like ARUGULA. Shredded, it can be added to brothy Asian style soups or even made into cream soup. Whole large lettuce leaves can be softened in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and used as wraps for other vegetable dishes or vegetable-meat dishes like stir fry (think moo shu wrapper substitute). Lightly sautee or use raw in egg dishes.

MACHE: Also known as Corn Salad. Best raw, imo, But can be prepared like ARUGULA.

MUSHROOMS: Button mushrooms that turn a bit brown in your frig have more flavor, making them better for cooking. Use in meat or vegetable stocks. Sautee in oil or butter. Add to egg dishes. Stuff larger mushroom caps with cheese or mixture of cooked ground meat and cheese, bake until cheese is melted. Classic French preparation for mushrooms is the “Duxelles”. Finely chop the mushrooms caps and stems. Sautee in oil and/or butter until all the water is cooked away and the mushrooms are rather dry. Add salt and pepper (maybe a pinch of nutmeg) and enough cream to just lightly bind the mixture together. Use the Duxelles as a stuffing in chicken breasts, under the skin of a whole chicken for roasting, or stuff into artichoke hearts and other vegetables.

PARSLEY: Italian or Flat leaf parsley has a more pronounced flavor than the more delicate French or Curly parsley. I think the Italians deep fry whole parsley sprigs and use them as an edible garnish. Anyway, finely chop and add to egg dishes. Use as an “extender” with other herbs when making pesto. A French country soup recipe uses a lot of parsley. Bake or boil one head of garlic until soft, then mash. Bring a pot of good chicken stock to the boil. Add the mashed garlic and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Add about a cup of finely chopped parsley to the soup. Serve immediately. Can also be used in sauces.

PEPPERS: Slice and sautee in oil or butter and serve as is or add to egg dishes. Grill or broil whole peppers until the skin is blackened and the vegetable is somewhat soft. Put into plastic bag and allow to steam. Then scrape off the skins and remove the seeds. Can be dressed in oil and served as is. OR puree the roasted peppers with a love of garlic, salt, pepper and slowly incorporate a good olive oil. Use as a red sauce for spaghetti squash, incorporate into meat loaf. Or skip the oil and add a mixture of chicken broth and water to the puree. Chill and serve as a cold soup with a splash of olive oil on top right before serving or add chopped cucumbers for an almost gazpacho. Slice peppers in half and stuff with a meatloaf mixture, bake until cooked. OR stuff raw pepper halves with chicken or tuna salad (especially good with the long sweet varieties, like banana peppers, or with the hotter peppers if you like spicy things).

RADDICHIO: Bitter salad vegetable. Prepare like ARUGULA

RADISHES: Slice into thin rounds and sautee in oil or butter, salt and pepper-----great as a side dish for scrambled eggs! Boil or steam and serve with butter or cream. Can also be used in pot roasts or roasted with other vegetables as a roasted meat side dish. This is Not2Late’s Page,

ROMAINE: Also known as Cos LettuceUse like the other LETTUCES. Can be prepared like ARUGULA.

SORREL: Lemony, tart flavored green herb. Classic preparations are a sorrel and watercress sauce and cream of sorrel soup. Can be boiled like spinach BUT change the cooking water once during the cooking to decrease the tartness (believe me it’s needed!). Throw it into the blender with mayo or sour cream for a sauce or dip. Saute it with a mixture of greens.

Other tips:
Reducing the bitterness of vegetables: Blanch them prior to final cooking. OR soak them in cold, salted water for about 2 hours, thoroughly rinsing the greens before the final preparation.

Sautee tips: To add extra flavor, heat the oil and/or butter in a pan, add the garlic and one or two anchovy fillets (don’t worry, it won’t taste fishy and the fillets will disintegrate). Alternatively, omit the anchovy fillets and add a pinch (or more) of dried hot pepper flakes. Let the flakes cook gently then add the vegetables. A squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of hot pepper sauce right before serving the bitter greens adds an extra kick to them.

Vegetable hash: Great way to use leftovers. Using the potato substitutes, like daikon or turnips, parboil until soft, cut into desired shape. Sautee in oil or bacon fat with cooked green vegetables. Press lightly on the vegetables while cooking in order to develop a golden brown crust. In the UK, the potato and cabbage version of this is called “Bubble and Squeak”.

Stove top braise and brown: In a large frying pan add your vegetable. Cover with enough water to go halfway up the vegetable’s sides. Add a tablespoon or two of oil. Bring to a boil. Do not cover and let it cook until the water boils away. The oil will then fry the vegetables to a golden brown color. Good technique for endive, fennel, and baby bok choy, sliced lengthwise.

Spanish Tortilla: This is an egg dish similar to an Italian fritatta, as opposed to the Latin American tortilla. It’s a great leftover user. Basic technique: 1-2 eggs, salt, pepper, ½ to 1 cup of the desired vegetable or a mix of vegetables, optional additions include chopped cooked leftover meat, cheese, etc. Beat the eggs, add the other ingredients. Set aside. Heat some oil and/or butter in a frying pan. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook over medium to high heat. Try not to stir the mixture. You want it to set up. When it is set, carefully flip it to the other side and let it cook. Cook both sides to a golden brown….this is important because it gives the dish more flavor. Spinach is exceptionally good in this dish.

IF you wish to make an egg foo yung, add a cup of raw bean sprouts and chopped cooked meat (if desired) to the beaten egg. Cook as above. In Chinese restaurants, the patty is deep fried and they move the edges toward the center to make it more roundish. But that’s not really necessary. IF you put this egg foo yung patty into a lettuce leaf and add mayo and some sliced tomato, you’ll have a low carb version of a St. Paul sandwich and nice light lunch or supper.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Atkins Revolution Rolls: The Best Cooking Method

As a low carber and someone who is allergic to wheat, I use Atkins Revolution Rolls frequently. They are made from eggs, cream or cottage cheese, a pinch of cream of tartar and a flavor enhancer, either in the form of a sugar substitute or salt and a bit of onion or garlic powder.

The egg yolks are combined with the cheese and the flavor enhance, while the egg whites and cream of tartar are beaten to stiff peaks. The whites are folded into the yolk-cheese mixture and then dolloped onto a baking sheet or a muffin top pan and baked in a moderate oven. A souffle effect occurs and the result are a bready type of roll: perfect for things like hamburger buns or if spread more thinly, tortilla wraps.

The problem is that sometimes the rolls don't remain puffy after it has been pulled out of the oven. Turning off the oven after the rolls have baked and keeping them in there to further set helps a bit....

So how do you keep the rolls, bread like?

Cook them in the microwave. The time is about 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave.

It goes throw a fascinating change. At first, nothing seems to happen, then suddenly the mixture will puff up, threatening to spill over the container. Then it will continue cooking and slowly lose volume. The result is a firmer more stable roll, that is pale yellow in color. But the texture is bready.

The only drawback to this method is that you can't cook more than 1 roll at a time.

A word about containers: the shape of the container will determine the shape of your roll. A microwave safe square sandwich container will do for sandwich bread or even a hotdog bun (split the cooked square bread through the middle.) A 4 inch round bowl will do for a burger bun.

Atkins Revolution Roll (1 serving)
1 egg
1 tablespoon cream cheese or 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
pinch salt
pinch garlic or onion powder (optional, but I think it gives it a yeastier taste.)

Lightly grease a microwave safe container.

Separate the egg white from the yolk. Put the egg white into a perfectly grease/oil free bowl. Set aside.

Combine the yolk with the cheese or mayo and the other ingredients in another bowl. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites to a stiff peak. Then fold about 1/4 of them into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it. Then pour the egg yolk mixture over the egg whites. Fold gently until all the egg white is incorporated, taking care not to over do it otherwise, you'll lose the volume.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cooking container. Put into the microwave. Microwave on HIGH for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the microwave. Cool and use as you would bread.