Leek Gratin

This is my new favorite way to cook and eat leeks.  My Dad made this on a whim, without a recipe, for Christmas dinner and it was amazing, no leftovers at all!  You can easily make double this recipe, which is what I did since I had a whole bunch of leeks from my Dad’s garden and wanted to cook them up all at once.  I cooked all the leeks, about 10 cups total, and baked half right away.  The next day I baked the other half for another dinner.  This is a nice addition to a pot luck dinner and if you do have leftovers they are great hot or cold.  Prepping the leeks takes the longest, especially if you are getting them from your root cellar and not fresh from the store.  Leeks are a great storage veggie, as you can easily peel off the less pretty outer layers and find a perfectly preserve leek inside!

leek gratin 1

Ingredients:

5 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only

Salt and pepper to taste

3 Tablespoons pasture butter

1 large egg

a shy 1/2 cup cream or half and half

Method:

Prepare the leeks: strip away any rotten or damaged outer layrs, slice off the root tip and trim the top to the light green part.  Thinly slice all the leeks until you have about 5 cups.

leek gratin 2

Preheat the oven to 355 degrees.

In a large sauce pan or pot, I used my enamel coated cast iron soup pot, add the butter, sliced leeks and sprinkle with salt, then add as much black pepper as you like.

Over medium low flame, sweat the leeks until they are just past bright green, cooked though and reduced dramatically in size.

leek gratin 3

leek gratin 4

Let the leeks cool.

Whip together the egg and heavy cream.

Combine the egg, cream and cooked, cooled, leeks in glass or ceramic baking dish, I used a 1.5 liter pyrex square.

Spead the mixture evenly and top with a sprinkling of cheese, Gruyere is my favorite!

leek gratin 5

Bake the gratin until it’s set and staring to brown around the edges, about 30 minutes.  You can brown the cheese under the broiler at the end if that sounds good to you.  Enjoy!

Fall Favorite: Cauliflower 3 Ways

Now that Fall is officially here I’ve been getting into some new recipes for one of the seasons most versatile vegetables: cauliflower and her cousin, romanesco.  Part of the Cruciferous family, one cup of cauliflower has more than 73% of your daily vitamin c!  Cauliflower can also help you to detox, it’s got anti-inflammatory properties and is an excellent source of dietary fiber.  As you’ll see from the wide variety of recipes I’ve gathered here, cauliflower is super versatile and full of as much flavor as nutrition.  Happy Autumn eating!

cauliflower-rice-low-carb-1024x682

My first recipe suggestion is to make rice out of cauliflower, a low carbohydrate, high fiber, nutrient packed alternative to a grain side dish.  I’ve eaten this rice as a side with baked chicken, in lettuce wraps with shredded pork, basically it can be substituted anywhere you’d usually use rice.  How cool is that?  Check out this super simple recipe on LowCarbSlowCarb.com under, you guessed it, Cauliflower Rice!

cauliflower-steak-au-poivre-4-1024x682

Next up, Cauliflower Steaks.  This recipe was sent to me by a friend who I have shared many a steak tartare and pork chop with so I knew it had to be delicious.  I was a bit skeptical but he assured me this was no wimpy vegan alternative, it’s filling, awesome plant food thank you very much!  The recipe I like best comes from JaxHouse.com aka Jacky Hackett, a food enthusiast mom blogger.  You can find her simple and easy recipe under ‘Cauliflower Steak au Poivre.  The trick is using your cast iron skillet in a very hot oven and the results are wickedly good.

Cauli-Crust-Grilled-Cheese-(3)

This last recipe is sure to convert you to the power of what you used to think of as a bland white vegetable: The Cauliflower Grill Cheese.  Yes, it’s gluten free, it’s a full serving of veggies and it’s got a gooey cheese center.  This recipe can be found on TheIronYou.com a blog run by a guy named Mike who thinks we could all eat better and exercise more for a more awesome us, I think he’s onto something!  Search for ‘Cauliflower Grilled Cheese’ and you’ll find a recipe for what will become one of your fall favorites, no matter what your relationship is to gluten.  Pair this with a hot bowl of tomato soup and call it lunch.

Carrot Cupcakes

Cute carrot muffins ready to eat!

Cute carrot cupcakes ready to eat!

I have tried out several carrot cake and carrot muffin recipes and I think I’ve finally come up with the perfect combination the natural sweetness of the carrots and coconut make for a moist cupcake you can eat for breakfast, snack time or yes, desert!  If you have a Cuisinart, shredding the carrots will take no time at all.

Ingredients:

Dry-

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

dash of allspice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

Wet-

3 large eggs

1 Tablespoon mayo

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-4 dropperfuls liquid stevia, to taste

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup milk- almond, coconut, soy or cow’s milk

Mix in last-

2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

 

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 and grease a  muffin tin for 12 with coconut oil or butter.

Grate 2 cups of carrots and set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients, work out any lumps and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and mayo together on high speed for about 3 minutes til nice and frothy.

Add the stevia, vanilla (or use vanilla stevia!), cooled, melted coconut oil and the milk and whip together to combine.

Add the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.

Taste test for sweetness, add more stevia if needed.

Fold in the carrot and coconut.  Add up to 1/4 cup more milk if need, the batter should be thick but moist.

Scoop into the prepared muffin tin.  I like to use a small ice cream scoop to get evenly sized muffins with round tops!

Bake at 350 for 22-26 minutes, til cooked though and lightly browned.

Store muffins an air tight container in the fridge.

Makes 12 muffins each one is about 190 calories, 15 grams of healthy, filling fats, 4 grams fiber, 4 grams net carbs and 5.5 grams of protein.  These are an excellent snack, breakfast or dessert and a great way to get your kids to eat an extra serving of veggies while making them think they are eating a cupcake!

 

 

Pudding? Frosting? Pie filling? Yes!

Our friends Megan (massage therapist extraordinaire) and James (one half of Red Apple Butchers) came up with a snack idea that I thought would make an awesome pie filling or frosting.  Or, yes, you can just mix it up and eat it with a spoon.  Let’s start with the star of the show, the cultured dairy pudding:

Ingredients:

This will make enough to fill a 9 in pie crust, frost a one layer 8 in cake or just mix it up and store it in the fridge for the next time you want a serving or two of pudding!

  • 2 cups creme fraiche or whole milk, unsweetened Greek style yogurt or use a little of each.  The creme fraiche is easy to make yourself and adds a nice tangy flavor.  The cream also whips up nicely for added lightness to this rich food.
  •  1 cup smooth nut butter, any one of these are delicious: almond, hazelnut or peanut butter
  • 3-4 dropperfuls of Whole Foods brand vanilla stevia
  • 2-3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
The nut butter sank to the bottom, all the ingredients ready for blending!

Creme fraiche and cocoa powder are so good together!

Method:

Add all the ingredients to a big bowl and use a mixer to whip them together into a smooth, fluffy bowl of deliciousness.   Taste and add more stevia or cocoa powder to your liking.  The mixture will be like pudding, you can make it thicker by adding more nut butter or thinner by adding plain heavy cream or more creme fraiche.

Now you have a cultured dairy pudding snack.  Which you can eat right now or use to frost a cake or cookies!

But, wait, what about making a cream pie?  Chill your pudding in the fridge while you get to baking.

Set your oven to 350

Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Pie

Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Pie

 Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Blanched Almond Flour- I always use Bob’s Red Mill Brand
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted pasture butter
  • 1 large organic farm egg
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor.

Press the dough evenly into a 9 in pie plate and bake at 350 for 10-14 min, until firm and starting to brown.

Cool the crust completely and then add  the above pie filling.

Refrigerate the pie for at least an hour before serving.

When it’s time for pie, whip up 6-8 ounces of fresh cream.

Cover the top of the pie completely with the whipped cream and top with chopped roasted nuts and maybe even some chopped dark chocolate.  Sugar free has never tasted this good!

Yes please!

Yes please!

Updated Egg Salad

I love this new version of  egg salad that Heidi posted on her blog 101 Cookbooks, which if you don’t already rely on it for great recipes, now you know!  This is a nice, light update on a familiar classic, perfect for a new light filled season.

Here’s her recipe, I didn’t want to change a thing!

Perfectly cooked eggs

Perfectly cooked eggs

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 small head of radicchio, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 baby radishes, shaved thin

to serve: little dollop of salted creme fraiche and/or a drizzle of olive oil.

Method:

“Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for ten minutes (a couple minutes longer than I normally do). Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so – long enough to stop the cooking. Crack and peel each egg, then use the big holes on a standard box grater to grate the eggs. Place in a bowl and use your fingers to gently toss the eggs with the salt and pepper. At this point you can add whatever you like to the salad – I tossed in shredded radicchio, fresh dill, shallots, and shaved baby radishes. Serve topped with tiny dollops of something creamy – like creme fraich or plain yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Just a bit of each so you don’t weigh it down.”

Serves 2-4.

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 10 min

Serve this salad on top of homemade flax crackers or store bought flax crackers!

Buttermilk Biscuits

Comfort foods can be healthy foods: These grain free buttermilk biscuits will leave you feeling full without the sugar crash or carbohydrate cravings from traditional wheat biscuits.   Wheat is a common allergen, we all know that but did you know that  some people report dramatically lowered seasonal allergy symptoms from eliminating wheat?  Tell your friends!

High quality eggs, buttermilk and butter or coconut oil make these a great source of brain food and lasting energy-perfect for an afternoon snack!  The flours, flax and buttermilk are available locally at Berkshire Organics, Guido’s and the Berkshire Coop Market.  These are perfect for brunch: as a base for eggs benedict.  Or  a dessert topped with creme fraiche and a few blueberries or how about biscuits and gravy?  Yum! Set your oven to 425 and get baking!

First, mix together your dry ingredients, making sure to break up any lumps.

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
  • 2 Tablespoons almond flour- Bob’s Red Mill makes a superior almond flour.
  • 2 Tablespoons finely ground flax
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour

Once your dry mix is thoroughly combined:

  • add 6 Tablespoons (a heaping 1/3 cup) of cold coconut oil or cold, unsalted pasture butter, broken up into small chunks.

Cut the fat into the dry mix using a pastry cutter until you get a pea sized meal.  Stop combining before it starts to clump together into a ball.

Crumbly flour and butter mixture.

Crumbly flour and butter mixture.

Combine in a separate bowl:

Whip the egg into the buttermilk.

Evan's Cultured Buttermilk is great to bake with.

Evan’s Cultured Buttermilk is great to bake with.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and fold to combine.

Finished batter resting for a few minutes. The batter will be very wet, but as it sits for a few minutes the coconut flour will fully absorb the excess liquid. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out biscuits, I have used 1/4 cup measure as well as an ice cream scoop.  Make them as big – 8 biscuits- or as small – 16 biscuits- as you like.  Use your hands to flatten them a bit into shape. Bake for 18-20 minutes- til browned and set. Eat immediately or let cool completely and keep in an air tight container in the fridge.

Snack time: creme fraiche and warm biscuits!

Snack time: creme fraiche and warm biscuits!

Meatloaf- It’s What’s For Dinner!

Meatloaf is hearty fare and it’s a classic from my childhood that I have been enjoying lately with a local twist.  Using humanely raised, organic beef, lamb and bacon from farms in Dalton and Cummington, MA, eggs from Hinsdale and cream from High Lawn Farm this is as local as meatloaf gets!  I replaced the traditional bread crumbs with ground flax so this recipe is gluten and carbohydrate free.  Served with a side of greens, like slow cooked collards and perhaps a bowl of broth, this meal will be sure to warm you up and keep you going.  When I made this recipe we were having friends over for dinner and I wanted to be sure to have enough for left over meatloaf sandwiches.   I added an extra pound of ground beef to my basic meatloaf recipe and it just barely fit in my glass baking dish.  This will serve 6-8 people or 4 people for dinner, twice.  And if you have time, this recipe is great for meatballs too!

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 pound ground lamb (or pork)

1/2 pound bacon, half of it minced and half reserved in strips.

1/2 cup cream or milk

3 Tablespoons ground flax

1 extra-large farm egg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1/2 small white onion, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder or hot pepper flakes

1 tsp paprika, smokey, mild or hot, whatever you’ve got!

1/4 cup fresh minced parsley

Ready to bake in about 15 minutes.

Ready to bake after just 15 minutes of prep time!

Method:

Pre heat oven to 350

Beat the egg into the milk and flax, add all of the other ingredients and mix well in a large bowl.

Shape into a loaf in a glass baking dish, make sure there is some room on all four sides.

Lay the remaining strips of bacon on top.

Bake at 350 for about 1 hour to 1.5 hours, until it’s firm and reads 160 degrees in the center!

Take it out, let it rest for about 15 minutes, transfer to a plate and serve.

Dinner four times two in about fifteen minutes plus baking time!

Dinner x 2 in about fifteen minutes plus baking time!

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