I have been invited to write for the best selling “Low Carbing Among Friends” cookbook series! This is HUGE news for this little blogger! I had already been planning to submit 2 recipes to the upcoming fourth version, but a few nights ago, I received an email from leading author Jennifer Eloff. She asked me if I’d like to join the team as a full AUTHOR for the series! This is like an invitation to an elite club of folks; leading the charge in low-carb cookbooks, trends and developments. It’s beyond an honor!
Check out their Facebook page (I suppose I should say “OUR” Facebook page …) to see some of the authors! Each has written books and run blogs, with several being very well established within their field. To quote Wayne and Garth (while dating myself in the process), “I’m not worthy!!”
Their confidence in me to bring something to their cookbook series is the compliment of compliments. I am still completely in awe of the other collaborators in this series. You will be hearing much more of this as time moves on, as well as a little back history (floating on a sea of recipes, too!)
I have two new feathers in my cap!
The second is a simple one, but still VERY cool. Many of you are likely to have heard of Mark Sisson, evolutionary health and fitness expert, as well as the author of the best selling “THE PRIMAL BLUEPRINT: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy“. Mark posted one of my recipes on his blog! It’s really a tiny insignificant little thing, with barely more than 2 words, but the TRAFFIC this one little link generated to my site was about 10 times a normal day’s traffic, and also yielded me a few hundred sign ups! Thank you, Mr. Sisson!
The recipe Mark shared was my Thai Fish Cakes.
WELCOME fans of Mark’s Daily Apple!
Honestly, I have A LOT more written for this blog, but I’ve also got quite a few recipes. Rather than boring you with more of my drivel, let’s just get into the recipes. Let’s save the rest of this blog for another day!
Onward and upward!
Bacon Wrapped, Hot Link Stuffed Turkey Thigh
Many years ago, I used to eat at a Seattle restaurant known as “Dixie’s BBQ“. It was an interesting place and the food was AMAZING. It is here that I discovered the “hot link”. I would order a pound of BBQ’d beef brisket, with a hot link and a side of “The Man” (a north west sauce famous for its originator, as much as it will burn your face off).
A “Hot Link” is really just a fancy term for “Andouille” sausage, which is a spicy pork sausage brought to the US south, by French immigrants. It’s usually smoked and generally has a bit of a kick. It’s quite common in Cajun circles.
In the case of THIS recipe, I was aiming to take a relatively inexpensive cut of meat (a turkey thigh) and transform it into the kind of dish that could potentially bring world peace. It’s really got all the parts! Pork, in two different ways, hot spices, turkey thighs, BBQ sauce and smoky goodness!
Note: When shopping for the sausage, you want raw “Louisiana Hot Link” or “Andouille” sausage, in bulk, if you can find it. If you can’t buy it by the pound, you can also buy raw sausage links, where you can snip the end off of them, then squeeze the meat out of the casing, like a big tube of toothpaste.
Sweet Potato and Celeriac Au Gratin
Before I say anything, I should point out that this recipe is higher in carbs than most of my recipes. If you’re deep in ketosis, or working on induction, you might want to look away. LOOK AWAY! This recipe will grab you and suck you in. Before you know it, you’ll be in the store, jumping into that big pile of sweet potatoes in the produce section, much in the same way your kids jump into the giant tub of balls at Chuck E. Cheese.
This recipe is here because not everyone eats as low as I do. I recently asked on Facebook what the carb levels of my readers were. About half were within ranges similar to my own, but the other half had a higher capacity for carbs. This is for them. There are ALSO times where I’ll up my allowance for the occasional splurge. Planned departures, in my opinion are good, fun, delicious, remind us that we really can eat anything (as long as it’s got its place, within a grander plan) and FINALLY, it keeps the body guessing! A third reason this is here is for company. Let’s face it, the Standard American Diet (SAD) tends to include heavy amounts of starch (ie. steak and potatoes). I believe the USDA (wrongly, in my opinion) recommends we get something upwards of 65% of our daily calories from carbohydrates. Because of these recommendations, there are certain expectations of a meal, and by extension, the host! It becomes a bit of a challenge to offer a borderline mandatory starch, in a world without starch! This is one of those low-carb starches that NO one will scoff at. They will, in fact, ask you for the recipe.
Give it to them!
I love sweet potatoes. I think they’re amazing in just about every way I’ve ever had them. In this case, I’ve paired them with celeriac. This is done for two reasons. 1. I like the color contrast of the two colors alternating in the slices. It’s purdy! 2. Celeriac is lower in carbs than sweet potatoes, but tend to get a bit lost in the flavor. As a result, it lowers the carbs of the dish, while carrying the flavors and textures of the sweet potatoes (as well as the luscious cream and cheese!). ?
In terms of flat out flavor, this is 10 out of 10. I’m usually fairly critical of my recipes and do my best to portray them honestly, and as I see them. This is probably in my top 10 of all recipes across my site. It’s a treat to die for, but … that’s just it. It’s a treat.
Note: I used a mandolin to cut the potatoes really thin. You could do this with a knife, but be careful and keep the slices as thin and consistent as possible.
“Almond Joy” Jello Bombe
I really think I’m starting to love gelatin. Sure, it’s weird and I want to pretend it’s something other than what it is, but … what it is, is also a really fantastic way to create amazing feats of tastiness! I can’t imagine doing something like this dessert, without gelatin. Short of freezing it (like ice cream, which IS another way this could be done), there’s no other method I know of, to create these separate layers, with crumbled brownies and fun flavors. None. Not even if I used BAD ingredients!
This particular dessert is a blend of 3 essential flavors: coconut, almond and chocolate. Each of the 3 layers is representative of one of those flavors, resulting in what I like to call, the “Almond Joy” Jell-O Bombe! The name comes from the famous candy bar, and the Bombe? Well … that’s French for Bomb! It is because it’s an explosion of flavor? Is it because it ignites taste buds? Nah.
A “Bombe” is actually named after cannonballs. The shape is round, like that of a bomb. Bombe’s have appeared on restaurant menus for near 150 years, and are usually ice cream.
Mine … is a chilled jiggly semi-sphere of gelatinous wobbliness, instead.
Assembly Notes: It’s actually really quite easy to make, but does require some time and patience. It will also require 3 bowls: small, medium and large. They should probably belong to a set, so that they shape is the same, while simply diminishing in size. The inner-most layer is made first, in the smallest bowl. It is “hardened” for about 4 hours in the fridge. Then, a second batch of jello is made, and brought to “cool” (if it’s too warm, it will melt the smaller jello shape). The second jello is poured into the medium sized bowl. The smaller bundle of gelatin is removed from the small bowl by dipping the bottom of the bowl in warm water. When it releases, flip it over in your hands (it’s tough enough) and then gently submerge it into the medium bowl, until the top “levels” meet. This is chilled for a further 4 hours, resulting in 2 layers. This is repeated one more time, with a bigger bowl. That’s it! Theoretically, this could be done 10 times for all sorts of whacky flavors and appearances. When I made this, it took me two days to make, but I feel it’s worth the effort. Each person that ate it, loved it, proclaiming it light and … not too sweet. In short: yum.
Brownie Note: I had just made some icky brownies and was looking for an excuse to use them in something else. The brownie bits are COMPLETELY optional. In retrospect, I think I would have preferred to have left them out, which is why I’ve omited them from the recipe. They just got a little bit in the way of the otherwise smooth and luxurious sensation of this dessert. That said, they do show how an ingredient could be used within this dessert. For example, this could’ve been toasted almonds and coconut, instead!
Baked Zucchini Fries
These baked zucchini fries are probably incorrectly named. They’re not “fried”. In fact, there’s no oil used! That’s not to say they COULDN’T be fried, it’s just that they weren’t, which means the name is … the wrong name. Maybe “Baked Zucchini Bakes”. That probably makes more sense, from a literal and redundant standpoint, but I’d wager that less people would order the Zucchini Bakes at a restaurant, than would order the “Zucchini Fries”. If you’re wondering what my point is … so am I! I just started writing and this is what came out.
These Baked Zucchini Bakes were wonderful! They were crisp and flavorful, without taking on that soggy and squishy zucchini texture that they can so quickly and easily take on.
As with any stick-like food, a dip is often sitting on the side. More often than not, it’s ketchup. I didn’t want to just throw a puddle of plain ol’ ketchup on the side of these crispity beauties. I wanted to do something a little different. So, they are accompanied by a sun-dried tomato pesto.
They’re a little messy to make, but they are A LOT of fun to eat. You can also make the up, stick them in the freezer on a tray (raw), freeze them, place them into a big freezer bag and freeze for another day. Pull them out, line them on a tray and bake them up! YUM!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
The word “Pesto” comes from the Genoese word “pestâ”, which means to pound or crush. Pesto is traditionally made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese. However, there are a million types and varieties of “pesto”, seeing as the root of the word is a verb and not a noun. It’s not really locked into any “one” ingredient. That said, most pestos I’ve seen tend to be some kind of ingredient, blended with nuts, cheese and oil.
Following that general pattern, you can take something like parsley and blend it with asiago and walnuts. This gives you … Parsley pesto! I’ve seen all kinds, from olive pestos, to artichoke pestos, spicy arugula, chilies, etc. This one is for sun-dried tomatoes. It’s phenomenally delicious and a little goes a long way.
It’s also something I often see as a “base”. I will often throw some fresh basil into it, when I’m using it for something. Tossing it with some cream makes AN AMAZING sun-dried tomato pesto cream. Adding a little oil to it, thinning it out a bit is wonderful for things like baked zucchini fries. It would be divine in a wrap, a crepe or tossed with zoodles!
It’s quick and easy to make, versatile, lasts for a really long time and it’s totally sweet, with a little chew and a touch of acid, otherwise known as … yum.
Italian Stuffed Turkey Thigh
This recipe is absolutely tasty, but it’s also a strange recipe. My original challenge was to take an inexpensive cut of meat and do something interesting with it. While I believe I COMPLETELY succeeded on that account, this recipe is also a bit of a stretch.
I purchased two turkey thighs. With the first, I created the Bacon Wrapped and Sausage Stuffed BBQ’d Turkey Thigh recipe. For the second, I wanted to do whatever was the opposite of the smoky thigh. The BBQ’d thigh was cooked low and slow in a smoky environment, was full of spices, wrapped in bacon and just … a really excellent down and dirty recipe. To steal a term from GrassFedGirl, it was “amazeballs!”
This time, I wanted something a little more refined. A “snobby” turkey thigh, if you will. I chose to go with some Mediterranean flavors and make it sort of a northern Italian type of dish. The end result was thoroughly delicious, rich and flavorful, but … for some odd reason, I decided to wrap the whole thing in caul fat.
Caul fat? What’s that?
It can’t be a big secret that I love wrapping things in bacon. I wrapped the BBQ’d thigh in bacon and this was to be the opposite of that. So, what’s the opposite of no bacon? In my mind … it’s caul fat! It’s like wrapping food in bacon, but … without bacon!
Caul fat is a thin membrane, which surrounds the stomach internal organs of some animals, like cows, pigs and sheep. It’s the weirdest looking stuff; appearing like a big webby net. I happened to have some left over in my freezer from Thanksgiving, where I had wrapped various turkey parts in it and served it to my family.
I flat out stole the above image, but I liked the picture. It does a fantastic job of showing what caul fat looks like, while being held by a regular person (not a chef), who ALSO used it for Thanksgiving and a turkey. If you click the image, you’ll also see she goes into a little more detail about caul fat than I did. She also calls herself the “Pig Whisperer” which automatically makes her awesome, in my book.
Anywhoo … cool picture! I hope she doesn’t sue! 🙂
See, one of the wonderful things about caul fat is, it essentially disappears when it’s cooked. You can take something like a meatloaf and wrap it in caul fat and then bake it. The meatloaf will maintain its shape, because the caul fat helps it to stay that shape. However, the caul fat essentially melts IN to the meatloaf, rendering it extra flavorful and juicy! It does almost all the great stuff wrapping stuff in bacon does, but … without the bacon! (and salt and smokiness)
Caul fat is great. It’s fun to wrap around monkfish or meatballs. Find some and play with it. It’s weird, but fun!
It’s unlikely you’ll find this at a standard grocery store. If you call ahead, you might be able to order some. The first butcher I called in Seattle had some in the freezer. It’s far from impossible to find, but it’s not going to be sitting next to the bacon.
Finally, caul fat freezes well. Defrost in a bucket of water and just pull it out of the water and spread it out. Cut a big sheet of it, put something in the middle of the sheet, roll “it” up in the caul fat, then cut off any excess. Sear and roast! YUM!
Photo Note: Served with pesto cream sauce.
Slow Cooker BBQ Short Ribs
I’m still trying to do simple things, while creating easy and tasty foods.
In this case, I did little more than season up a bunch of short ribs, sear them and then throw them into the crock pot with a bunch of BBQ sauce. As they cooked, their own fats and juices were pulled out, where the liquid braised them. The meat completely fell of the bone, resulting in a juicy, tender meat with sweet, spicy and smoky flavors from the spices and sauce. These also refrigerate well and make FANTSTIC leftovers!
Set it and … forget it!
Note: the short ribs I used were purchased inexpensively from the local grocery store. They were cut into roughly 2 inch cuts, called an “English cut”. They seem fairly easy to find, while not being a super common item. A shame, really … they are excellent!
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