Category Archives: Low Carb

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Easy and Spicy Pork Vindaloo

One thing I love about the cuisine of India is the fact that it is so full of flavor.  There is a reason it’s one of the most popular cuisines in the world. . .  It’s awesome.  I have always had a special place in my heart for Vindaloo.  Pork Vindallo, epic dish from the region of Goa.  Tangy, spicy, full of spices and flavor.  A stick to your ribs dish that will really remind you why you love food!

This is a relatively easy dish to make, not completely traditional but very close.  It takes a bit of time on the stove to get done if you use the pork shoulder, which I recommend if you have the time. Nothing compares to the depth of flavor achieved during long slow cooking!  The pork shoulder will take 4 or so hours to get tender.  Time well spent!

A even quicker option would be to make the base and keep in in the cooler.  If you are in a hurry for dinner take some of the sauce out and start reducing it.  Get a few pork chops out (or chicken breasts) of the refrigerator dice them up and add them to the sauce once it is 1/3 of the way reduced.  Cook the meat in the sauce until done and the sauce coats the meat.

Cooking the pork shoulder is a simple process stir it every so often the closer to when its done you will have to stir it more often as the sauce gets reduced.  If the pork is not tender when the sauce it getting too thick you just add a bit of water and continue cooking.

You want to have the meat beautifully tender but not shredded.  If you take your eye off it too long and it does shred, don’t worry, life is still good.  You can make tacos!  Put some of this on a tortilla with cheese, lettuce, tomato and some salsa.  You will be a believer!  Tacos are a great way to use leftovers of Vindaloo.  Another awesome way to use up some left overs is on eggs in the morning with a bit of naan bread or tortilla.

One last note.  Do not skimp on the quality of your spices.  Make sure they are not old.  If you do one thing make sure to buy powdered Kashmir chili only!  Do not even think of using a American style chili powder blend.  Kashmiri chili have a beautiful color and flavor.  They are a must, use 100% Kashmiri chili powder.

Serve with a nice toasted bread or some basmati rice.  I like this with a nice cold IPA or even a pilsner.

Ingredients

Base

2 onions, rough chop

1 inch of ginger (about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce), peeled and rough chopped

1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 ounces)

5 teaspoons ground cumin (10 grams)

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

10 teaspoons garam masala (20 grams)

6 to 8 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder (100% ground Kashmiri chili), 8 if you like it spicy

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

7 FL ounces  red wine vinegar (200ml)

Main

3 pounds pork shoulder, diced to 3/4 inch cubes

3 curry leaves

Water as necessary

Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper, and  cardamom as necessary

1.  Put all base ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

2.  While the main ingredients are being puréed heat a thick bottomed pot, big enough to hold the entire recipe.  When hot add 1/4 cup ghee (or olive oil) and begin browning the pork shoulder, if the pork cools the pan down and it doesn’t brown well don’t worry, just continue with the recipe.

3. Once the pork is browned off add the curry leaves and stir.  Add the entire base to the pork, stir and turn down to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring every 20 min or so.  The closer to being done it gets more reduced the sauce will be and you will need to stir more often.  Also depending on the size of your pot and the heat you may find the sauce is too reduced and the pork is not tender.  If this happens add 1/2 cup of water, sir and continue cooking.  You can do this as many times as necessary.  You want the pork tender but not shredded so you wild have to watch at the end! (if it shreds make tacos!)

4.  Before removing from the stove adjust seasoning with Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper and cardamom as necessary.  This dish gets even better the 2nd day.

Thyme in,

Jason

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Cauliflower Hummus

Is Cauliflower  a misunderstood and underappreciated vegetable? You bet!  It’s often regarded as a peasant vegetable, not elegant or full of flavor, and that’s just wrong!  Cauliflower has many wonderful uses – not the least of which is this awesome low carb, paleo friendly, healthy “hummus”. It also happens to taste great!

I  love all things hummus but once in a while I find myself looking for something just a little bit healthier (not that hummus isn’t good for you), something with just a few more veggies and less carbs.  This is it!  Healthy and fantastic.

In this recipe the cauliflower is grated then cooked in the microwave with a bit of water.  This can take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes depending on the microwave.  Its very important to cook  completely or it will be impossible to get the smoothness you will want.

Cauliflower Hummus

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

1/8th cup of water

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 ounces of tahini (Lebanese)

1.5 ounces lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  Separate the head of cauliflower into flowerets that are a good size to grate.  Grate the cauliflower and put into a microwave save container.

2,  Add the water to the cauliflower and microwave on high for five minutes.  Cover and microwave at lest 3 more minutes (but up to 10 minutes depending on the microwave).  The important thing is its complete cooked.

3.  When the cauliflower is completely cooked put all remaining ingredients, including the cauliflower into a food processor and puree very well.  This could take 5 to 8 minutes.  Scrape down every minute or so with a rubber spatula.  This needs to be very smooth!

4.  Chill and serve with a drizzle of avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy and be healthy!

Thyme for a snack,

Jason IMG_2864 IMG_2849 IMG_2852 IMG_2859

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Quick, Easy and Delicious Hummus

Greetings all. I was recently enjoying a glass of wine (bottle actually) reflecting on things, life and hummus. Thinking of the old times when I lived in Dearborn, Michigan. Some if the best hummus in the world was a 5 minute drive away, to a restaurant called La Shish. In my post “Chasing the Hummus Ghost” I shared my experiences on trying to replicate the famed hummus of La Shish (complete with 15 years of failure).  I still hold to the belief that the recipe in that post gets really close to the magic of “la Shish”, however, I do realize not everyone wants to wait two full days to satisfy a hummus craving.

For years at work we have been making a “quick hummus” which has Greek yogurt in it. The yogurt adds creaminess and a tang to the hummus. Short of making the recipe from scratch with dried chickpeas this quick hummus is one of the best recipes you can find. It takes about 10 minutes to make, 5 to 8 of which is watching it puree in the food processor.

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking the time to make the hummus as smooth as possible. Put everything in a food processor and puree!! Every so often stop the food processor, grab a rubber spatula and scrape it the bowl down in case some chickpeas get stuck on the side or on the bottom. The cumin is optional. Some people are chickpea purists and would not want it, others like the extra spice. I fall directly in the middle and use it about half the time.

When I serve this I like to drizzle with some avocado oil (or extra virgin olive).  Use some nice warm flat bread or some nice crisp lettuce to scoop.

Thyme In,

Jason

Simple Quick Hummus

Ingredients

2 each 15 ounce cans of chickpeas (drained reserving ¼ cup of the liquid)

4 ounces Lebanese tahini

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (heaping)

4 teaspoons lemon juice

6 ounces Greek yogurt (2/3 cup)

1/4th cup of the drained chickpea liquid (optional)

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

  1. Drain the chickpeas, reserve ¼ cup of the liquid (adding the liquid is optional depending on the texture you like in a hummus)
  2. Place everything in a food processor except he reserved liquid.
  3. Puree very well. In my experience this can take 5 to 8 minutes. Occasionally stop the machine and scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. While pureeing you can decide if you want the liquid in. It will help with the pureeing but will also make the final hummus a bit lighter than without. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
  4. Puree until ultra-smooth!

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Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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I love it when great taste and good nutrition meet! The genesis of this was plain and simple . . . hunger and the desire to have something healthy! I had all the ingredients in the refrigerator so it was just a matter of measuring, mixing and cooking. With all the fragrant ingredients the house smelled awesome.

I often lean toward Asian flavors, could have something to do with working almost ten years working for an Asian hotel chain (Mandarin Oriental). This dish, although not based on a traditional recipe it is certainly full of flavor.

For old thymes sake,

Jason

 

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

 

Wraps

1 pound ground turkey

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 ½ teaspoons roasted sesame oil

1 bunch chopped cilantro

3 teaspoons soy sauce

3 teaspoons kosher salt

½ recipe of my essential cabbage slaw

16 lettuce cups romaine or bib lettuce work great

 

  1. In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the slaw and the lettuce. Mix well with a rubber spatula, trying not to let the mix warm up too much.
  2. In a nonstick pan cook a small amount to check and see if it has enough salt. You can adjust if needed.
  3. With your hand roll the mix into little meat balls about ½ ounce each. The mix will be a little soft but will firm up as they cook.
  4. Depending on the size of the pan you have you can cook the meat balls in batches. Put a small amount in oil in the pan and when it is at a medium heat add the meat balls. Cook moving them around until they are cooked through (165f). Try not to overcook as the turkey is lean and will dry out quickly.
  5. Serve them with the lettuce for cups, the slaw as a topping, and any other toppings you can think of. I like sautéed hot chilies or roasted peppers.

 

 

 

 

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Essential Cabbage Slaw

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Long considered to be the bland foodstuff of peasants and the incarcerated, cabbage is a very underappreciated vegetable. I happen to love cabbage, when prepared correctly it is not only flavorful but full of nutrition.

This is one recipe that is very easy to make and produces big results. This is my go to spicy slaw for tacos, enchiladas, and nachos. It’s also a great slaw for simple grilled meats and tastes great on hot dogs and sausages! Once you have this simple little slaw in your arsenal you will use it time and time again. Feel free to use lemon juice instead of lime, and of course you can play with the amount and variety of the chilies. Habanero chilies taste awesome in this slaw . . . if you can handle the heat!

The salt in this recipe draws moisture from the other ingredients which makes its own marinate along with the citrus. I try to make this an hour in advance if I can, it allows the salt to work its magic. This slaw is good for up to a few days in the cooler but it will “wilt down” more and more as time goes on.

Have a good thyme,

Jason

 

Cabbage, Chili and Citrus Slaw

Makes ¾ quart

Ingredients

 Slaw

1 quart shredded cabbage (packed a little tight)

1 bunch chopped cilantro

3 red cayenne peppers or 2 jalapeños sliced thin

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt (you can do ½ if you are sensitive to salt)

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

 

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.

  1. Cover and put in the refrigerator, allow to marinate for at least a ½ hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Cauliflower Pizza Crust Experiment

Pizza crust made with cauliflower instead of flour . . . say it isn’t so! Well it is. Lately I have been hearing a lot of talk about the technique and since I’ve been looking for ways to eat healthier and sneak in some extra vegetables, I  had to give it a try. Some years ago I would have jumped off the roof before eating a pizza that was not made with wheat flour and yeast! Now I am a bit more open minded, even though I will never completely give up on classic pizza . . . no way! I will, however, sometimes opt for the health cauliflower version.  This recipe is awesome for anyone looking to limit carbohydrates or eliminate gluten.

I can tell you that for me it’s about adding vegetables.

I really did enjoy the recipe. It doesn’t exactly have the taste or texture of pizza, however if you are having a pizza craving but want to keep it healthy, it’s a great alternative.

I used a very simple pizza sauce made by draining a can of diced tomatoes (San Marzano if possible) very well in a colander. Then I pureed the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and a garlic clove.   Simple and classic. If you don’t drain the tomatoes well the sauce will be too thin.

For this pizza I topped it with some smoked turkey breast and some ground turkey.

One head of cauliflower will make about 3 pizzas.

Cauliflower Crust

Makes 1 Crust (roughly a 10 inch pizza)

 

Ingredients

2 cups grated raw cauliflower

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese ½ cups skim milk

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 egg

 

  1. Pre heat oven to 400f.
  2. Put the grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, uncovered. Cook on high for 8 minutes. This will essentially dry out the cauliflower.
  3. After removing from the microwave fluff with a fork and let it stand for about 5 minutes. Then add all remaining ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.
  4. Now we will prepare a baking tray one of two ways: (1) Line a baking tray with a silpat and rub a bit of olive oil on it (you can also spray with a bit of pan spray), or (2) Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Spread the cauliflower mixture in the shape you want on the prepared tray. Try to keep it thin, approximately ¼ inch thick.
  6. Bake in the oven for approximately 9 minutes. You will want to watch it and take it out when the edges are browning. At this point you can let the crust cool, wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  7. To finish a pizza, turn the broiler to high. Top the pizza as desired with sauce, toppings and cheese. Broil in the oven on a baking sheet until the cheese is brown and everything is hot and bubbly.

Thyme Out,

Jason

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Essential Charred Tomato Salsa

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What would the world be without salsa? Salsa is healthy, vibrant, and simple while at the same time capable of great complexity.  There was a time in our country when ketchup ruled the condiment world, a bleak time in history to be sure. Thankfully we are now in the know and have at our disposable thousands of recipes for glorious salsa.

This particular salsa is quite simple.  Not a lot of ingredients, easy and quick to make, and it allows the natural flavors of the tomatoes and peppers to shine through.  I consider it an essential recipe.  The problem with simple recipes is that when there are not a lot of ingredients the quality of technique and integrity of the ingredients are paramount.   Be sure to char the tomatoes, peppers, and onions well in the oven.  The other key is the dry pan roasting of the garlic.  The unpeeled cloves of garlic get roasted in a medium hot pan until blackened and charred.  This adds a smoky sweet element to the salsa that is really amazing.

 

Essential Charred Tomato Salsa

Makes 1 quart

 

Ingredients

2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 7 Roma tomatoes)

2 to 4  Jalapeño Chili’s

1 habanero chili (optional)

1 onion, rough chopped

8 garlic cloves, fresh and not peeled!

2/3 cup fresh cilantro (about 2 bunches)

3 fresh limes

3 teaspoons kosher salt

  1. Start the broiler on your oven on high.
  2. Begin by slicing the stem off of all the tomatoes and slicing them in half lengthwise.  Also slice the stem off all the chilies and slice them in half as well. You may want to use gloves to avoid getting any of the oils on your fingers . . .  then eventually in your eyes!
  3. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil, oil it or spray it lightly with pan spray.  Place the tomatoes on the tray with skin side up.  Scatter the jalapeños skin side up on the try as well.  Scatter the rough chopped onions as well.
  4. Place the tray in the oven under the hot broiler until the skin on the tomatoes and peppers are blisters and blackened.  In my oven this takes about 20 minutes.  While they are broiling heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.  When hot add the garlic cloves (do not peel) and cook on medium heat, with no oil, until blackened, charred, and soft (about 15 minutes).  Cool everything down in refrigerator.
  5. Once everything is cool peel the garlic and put in a blender with the tomatoes, peppers and onions.  Add the juice of two limes and two teaspoons of the salt.  Puree until roughly pureed, not too smooth.
  6. Use the remaining salt and lime to adjust the seasoning.  It should be highly seasoned!!

Thyme for some spice,

Jason

 

 

 

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Cilantro Chimichurri

 

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It was only a matter of time until I posted this recipe.  I have used it for years in multiple ways.  This is one of my “have-to-have-it-around” sauces.  Having a sauce like this on had makes it easy whip up something delicious.   It is, by its very nature, a perfect sauce for steak. But, it is also so much more!  I use it on fish, chicken, pork, I toss roasted fingerling potatoes in it, finish sauces, use it to flavor compound butter, and even add it to vinegar and oil for salad dressings.  It also make a nice dip for appetizers like crab cakes or spring rolls.  If you make it . . . you will use it!

For old thymes sake,

Jason

Cilantro Chimichurri

Ingredients

Sauce

2 bunches cilantro

1 bunch parsley

4 garlic cloves

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 small hot chili (optional)

  1. The first thing to do is get your blender out.  It is very helpful to have a blender with a plunger such as a Vita Prep.  Adjustable speed is a plus too. The mixture is very dry at first and the plunger will help.
  2. Wash the herbs under cold running water.  I break the stems at the point where there are no more leaves.  Discard the lower stems and then put the herbs (upper stems and leaves) in the blender.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients.  Add the hot chili only if you want to spice it up!
  4. Puree in the blender until smooth.  Use the plunger to push down on the herbs.  Once it starts to become a puree it will be thin enough that you won’t need to plunge.   Puree until its smooth, but don’t over puree.  The heat from friction will warm the sauce and cause it to turn a dull color if you over blend.  This sauce should be as bright green as it tastes!

 

 

Kale, Chicken and Spinach Soup

 

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Kale is a “super green.”  It is nutritious, flavorful and easy to use.  I find myself using kale in juices, quick sautés, in salads and on pizzas. I do love kale.  In hour house kale is a very controversial product.  My wife and kids hate it and I, as you know, love it.  I never tire of sneaking kale into recipes to see if they notice.   Good times indeed.  Approximately 80% of the time they don’t even notice and love what they are eating, even with the dreaded kale.  That is not the case with this soup, I love it, but for them it was an epic fail . . . it’s loaded with delicious, nutritious, dreaded and feared Kale!

This is a very simple but flavorful soup that is loaded with good stuff.  It has enough substance to it that it can be a meal.  It would also be a fantastic accompaniment to a salad or sandwich, or an elegant and healthy first course.

I made the chicken stock (which you can see in an earlier post) and turned it directly into this soup.  I was able to get some of the leftover meat off the leg bones in the stock and add it to the soup (the dark meat stays nice and moist after the long cooking).

The method for making this soup is very simple.  I do not sauté and caramelize any of the vegetables.  I simply heat the stock and add the ingredients in a straightforward time line.  The reason I can get such a flavorful soup so easily is the homemade stock.  Simple things done well.

Kale, Spinach and Chicken Soup

Makes about 2 quarts

Ingredients

1.5 quarts of good homemade chicken stock

2 carrots, diced (about 2 ½ ounces)

2 stalks celery, diced (about 2 ½ ounces)

1 onion, diced (about 7 ounces)

10 leaves kale, rough chopped (about 4 ounces)

3 cloves garlic, chopped (3/4 ounce)

1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

2 ounces baby spinach

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1.       In a sauce pot, large enough to hold all ingredients, heat the chicken stock.

2.       Add all ingredients except the kale, spinach, thyme and lemon.  Simmer for ½ hour.  Add  some salt and pepper and taste the soup.  It should be getting very flavorful and rich.

3.       Add the kale and spinach, simmer for 15 more minutes.

4.       Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon.

Thyme Out,

Jason

 

Gravlax for the New Year

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Happy New Year let’s cure some salmon!

I for one can’t believe that 2013 is behind us. I hope all of you had an amazing year and can remember 2013 fondly.  In 2014, I wish you happiness, prosperity, friendship and great times with family, and a year of great food!

I want to start the year off with a classic.  Gravlax are a traditional Scandinavian dish that makes a fantastic treat at breakfast or an elegant appetizer later in the day.  In our family this one is a breakfast classic.  My oldest son and wife consider this to be the ultimate breakfast food – “Lox and Bagels”.

At one time, smoking and curing were among the only ways to preserve the food without refrigerators and freezers.  What caning was to preserving the harvest of vegetables and fruits, smoking and curing was to preserve the precious catch.  Some of the finest things you will have the pleasure of tasting were developed through the process of preserving meats – What would the world be without genoa salami, Iberico ham, Prosciutto de Parma, Spanish chorizo, or duck confit?

I digress, the point of this post is specifically cured salmon, perhaps the purest and cleanest tasting expression of the fish.  Smoked salmon is great, but lox are simpler, fresher tasting and luckily easier to make.  I uses the best salmon possible.  In this case I used a wild sockeye salmon which has a beautiful red color and great fresh flavor.  Do be careful of previously frozen fish because although it may still taste great, the texture will be affected.  Make sure fresh awesome fish is your priority.

Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

Gravlax

Serves 3 for breakfast or 8 to 10 for reception

 

Ingredients

1 to 1 ¼ pound fresh salmon fillet, skin on, pin bones removed

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup salt

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

15 to 20 sprigs of dill

1.       Mix together the salt, sugar, coriander, and white pepper.

2.       In a non-reactive container spread approximately ¼ of the mixture out to the approximate length of the salmon fillet.  Put half the dill down as well.

3.       Lay the salmon fillet on top.  Spread the cure on top of the fish.  On thicker parts of the fish use more of the cure and a little less on thinner parts.

4.       Lay the sprigs of dill across the fish, cover and leave at room temperature for two hours.

5.       Put another dish on top to press the cure into the fish.  If you are using a glass 9 by 13 dish then another of the same dish is ideal to set on top.  It does not need to be very heavy just a light weight to press it down.  Then put in in the refrigerator.

6.       If the salmon is a inch thick or less allow to cure in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.  If the fish is over an inch thick you will need to go 36 hours.

7.       When the curing time is over rinse the fish off under cold running water and dry with a paper towel.

8.       You can now use the Gravlax!  For breakfast slice thin and put on toasted bagels with cream cheese, capers, diced tomato, and if you like paper thin slices of red onion.

 

It is worth noting that slicing paper thin perfect slices is a bit of an art.  Do not be dismayed!  A thin sharp knife works best.  There are long thin knives made for this purpose if you want to invest, however these are not necessary.  I have seen many a fine slice of gravlax done with a sharp chefs knife.

 

Have a good thyme,

 

Jason

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