Monday, November 29, 2010

Spiced Carrot Mash (Simple Carrot Halwa)

I didn't set out to make halwa, I simply wanted to use some ingredients I had in the 'fridge.  If you wanted to make a more elaborate version, add some raisins and nuts.  Traditionally, sugar is added to the mix, but I think carrots are sweet enough without additional sugar.  This is great as a side dish for dinner or perhaps even a light dessert.

  • 5 large carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup coconut milk (make sure there is no added "junk" in the milk)
  • 1 Tbs ghee
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • Pinch of cinnamon powder
  1. Boil carrots in water until soft.  Drain and return carrots to pan (or food processor).
  2. Add coconut milk (amount depends upon how many carrots you used and how creamy you want the mixture), ghee, curry, ginger, and cinnamon.  Mash (or blend/puree).  Taste and add additional seasonings as needed.
  3. Serve warm or cold (yum...both versions were good!) and enjoy.
Part of Real Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, and Fight Back Friday.  Inspiration abounds, check out some other good ideas.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Testing for Thanksgiving: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Squash, and Cranberries

    While I'm planning to recreate some of the "classics" for our Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted something new and delicious that celebrates my new attitude and appreciation toward food.  This dish has two vegetables I used to avoid like the plague:  brussels sprouts and squash.  Will you also be shocked to know that I don't know that I've ever had fresh cranberries (my only exposure has been the canned cranberry jelly)?  Finally, I used duck fat that I rendered myself.  I never imagined that I'd ever eat duck fat, let alone render it myself:)  This got two thumbs up from the husband.  I think I could have eaten one entire pan myself!  Also, I was worried that the cranberries would be too sour without any sugar, but they mellow a lot in the baking process, are tempered by the sweet squash, and provide just a little bit of tartness to the dish.

    • 1 butternut squash
    • 1 pound fresh brussels sprouts
    • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
    • 2/3 to 1 cup duck fat (melted) (or other available fat of your choice -- I think chicken fat would be good as well)
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
    2. Prepare the veggies.  Remove skin, membrane, and seeds (reserve for future use) from squash.  Cut squash into cubes.  Trim and halve brussels sprouts.
    3. Combine squash, sprouts, and cranberries in a large baking dish (I split it into two since I don't have a really large pan).  Sprinkle salt on top and then add duck fat.  Stir to combine.
    4. Place baking dish in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the veggies are beginning to brown, stirring once or twice.
    5. After 25 minutes or so, reduce heat to 350 degrees F and cook another 25-30 minutes until the veggies (especially the brussels sprouts) are cooked to desired tenderness.
    6. Serve and devour.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Testing for Thanksgiving: Chocolate Coconut Pots de Creme Pie

    This will be our first major holiday eating real food and Paleo.  Not only will I be cooking for my husband and mom, but my brother-in-law and his girlfriend are coming in from out of town.  My husband and mom are worried that I'm going to ruin one of their favorite holiday meals (and scare away the girlfriend with my "crazy" eating habits:)).  Oh, ye of little faith...  At any rate, in order to allay their fears, I'm testing possible recipes.  Starting backwards with dessert, I present to you:  Chocolate Coconut Pots de Creme Pie!  I was actually going for a chocolate cream pie, which is what I made for Thanksgiving in a former life (it was one of those "healthy" pies -- low fat, etc.).  But, all of the cream recipes I found (and there was a lot of time searching on the internet) were made with cornstarch (and quite a lot, at that) ingredient I try to avoid.  So, instead, I took a french chocolate pudding mixture (pots de creme) and added in a few ingredients from a traditional cream pie (ghee [well, okay, usually butter, but dairy doesn't agree with ghee it is], and vanilla).  Simply divine, if I do say so myself:)  

    [A side note here:  although I've done my best by using real food and/or high quality ingredients, this should still be considered a treat or special occasion food.  And, if you are like me and still working on your body composition, take it easy on the pie.  Eat as much high-quality meat and veggies as you can first, then savor and enjoy your slice of pie, each delicious bite by delicious bite -- with absolutely no regrets.  I hope that this is sufficiently decadent that one small piece will prove satisfactory.]

    Pudding Ingredients:
    • 2 cups coconut cream (the cream portion of the canned coconut milk (don't shake the can!) -- save the remaining "water" for another use; watch that your coconut milk doesn't have a lot of additional "gunk")
    • 6 (pastured) egg yolks (save the egg whites for another use...or make a meringue for this pie)
    • 9 ounces extremely high quality chocolate, finely chopped
    • 2 Tbs ghee
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    Crust Ingredients:
    • 1 cup soaked nuts of your choice (I used hazelnuts)
    • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
    • 2 Tbs chocolate chips (I used these ones, which are dairy-,soy-, and gluten-free)

    First, start with the pudding.
    1. In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a simmer over moderately high heat.
    2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until combined.
    3. Slowly wisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot milk to temper the egg yolks, then transfer the mixture to the saucepan.  [Take your time with this step -- you do NOT want scrambled eggs!]
    4. Cook the custard over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is slightly thick, about 2 minutes or so.
    5. Add the chocolate, ghee, and vanilla, then remove the saucepan from the heat.
    6. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl.
    7. Return mixture to the saucepan.  Return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and stir until mixture is fairly thick (for me, this took about 25 minutes or so).
    8. Pour the chocolate pudding into a small bowl, place plastic wrap or natural wax paper on the surface of the pudding (to prevent a "skin" from forming) and refrigerate until the pudding is chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.  [If, after chilling, your pudding has gotten too thick, simply heat it gently with a water bath or a few seconds in the microwave until desired consistency is reached.]
    Next, make the pie crust.
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
    2. Pulverize the nuts in your food processor until crumbs are formed (not quite a flour).
    3. Add in coconut flakes and melted oil.  Pulse a few more times.
    4. Melt chocolate chips and add to the mixture.  Pulse a few times until chocolate is mixed.
    5. Press mixture into a pie pan.
    6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
    7. Let cool.
    Finally, ready to eat.
    1. Pour pudding mixture into the crust.
    2. Serve and enjoy.  [Optional:  Homemade whipped coconut cream on top.