Cod and Potatoes — Whole30 Check-In

Cod with Romesco Sauce by Amy Roth Photo. Recipe: Bon Appetit Magazine

A week and a half in, and I’m doing great with Whole30! There have been no mid-afternoon slumps or hangriness to deal with, but eating this way does require much more thought than simply throwing together a quick sandwich or heating up an Amy’s cheese enchilada entrée. (Honestly, I needed an Amy’s intervention, anyway.) Avoiding easy fillers like rice or bread has been a little challenging, but nothing I can’t deal with, and I’ve lost a few pounds, though that wasn’t my goal at all.

I’m still amazed by how much unnecessary sugar is in our food. I’m generally not much of a packaged food eater (save for the aforementioned enchiladas), but love condiments and sauces, and many of my favorites are taboo. Also, I miss cheese. Terribly. It’s my one craving and I’m going to be the saddest person around if I find dairy gives me problems when I start reintroducing food.

The Meals

There were a couple of fantastic meals I’ve had in the past week that I want to share with you today. Up top, you’ll see my photo for Bon Appetit’s Cod with Romesco Sauce, Hazelnuts, Lemon and Parsley. It was eye-opening, mind-boggling… just a fantastic meal with only a few components. And where, may I ask, has romesco sauce been all my life?! I’ve read about it for years, but never took the plunge until I made this recipe, and now it’s all I want to eat. I want to proselytize door to door in my neighborhood so everyone can share in this pure joy of mine! Yeah, I know, but it’s honestly that good. Cod isn’t something I eat very often, but it works so well here, I’m not sure I’d want to change anything next time.

Deborah Madison's Potato and Green Chile Stew by Amy Roth Photo.

And then, there’s Deborah Madison’s Potato and Green Chile Stew from Food52. Whenever I make this, I wonder why I don’t have it more often. It’s part of Food52’s Genius Recipes collection, and with good reason: Deborah Madison is an alchemist, creating kitchen gold from a handful of common ingredients. It’s a recipe that’s easy to convert for Whole30 compliance (skip the sour cream, which I usually do anyway) or for vegan/vegetarian diets (use vegetable broth instead of chicken and skip the sour cream). With our turn to winter weather now that Spring is here, this soup was the perfect thing to warm me after spending a lot of time outdoors yesterday.

Some Exciting News

Last summer, I got a call about a cookbook project that needed a quick turnaround. “It’s Misty Copeland’s Ballerina Body. Are you interested?” Well, my fingers couldn’t hit the keyboard fast enough to reply that absolutely, I was! Because of the abbreviated shooting schedule, I enlisted the help of local food stylist Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative for most of the plated dishes, and together we created the food photos featured in the book, released just this week. If you’re interested in creating a lean, strong, healthy body, want some great recipes (and they really ARE great!), or just want to read more about Misty, pick up a copy! I’ve shared a few of my favorites below.

Ballerina Body food images | Amy Roth Photo
Clockwise, from upper-left: Raw Barres, Black Bean Soup with Shrimp, Vegetables, Fruit Still Life, Egg White Fritatta

Grain-Free Tabbouleh Salad

Things have been moving a little slow at the junction this weekend, though not from any laziness on my part. See, my ass is broken. Not broke — though the money situation could always be better — but brokEN. I had the bright idea of taking a 5 1/2-mile hike with Gil and the boys last Friday morning to take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails and lakes we have around here. And it was a perfect day, honestly; a cool breeze was blowing, the sky was clear and blue and we only passed a few people and their dogs in the two hours we were out. Otis was a very good boy throughout, barely paying attention to the first three dogs we passed, but then (dunh, dunh, DUNNNNHHH!) along came number four. We’d just passed him without incident and I was praising Otis for being such a gooood boooy, when the other dog barked and Otis just lost it, as he tends to do when that happens. Being a big, slinky greyhound, he managed to trip me and I came down hard on my back and bruised my tailbone in the process. Ouch. So now I have a preview of what it’ll be like in 40 years when I’m puttering around the house and groaning whenever I bend over or get up from a seated position. Oh, the indignity!

He’s SO lucky he’s cute.

Otis B. Driftwood | Amy Roth Photo

Ru was fine, being a pretty chill dog until someone approaches our house or thunder/fireworks disturb him.

Rufus T. Firefly | Amy Roth Photo

But back to food. I’m sure you can imagine that I haven’t really felt like cooking much all weekend. But I do have this new weekly posting schedule and a variation of tabbouleh salad has been worming its way into my mind lately, so I decided to suck it up and do some chopping!

Gluten-Free Tabbouleh | Minimally Invasive

We’ve gotten tabbouleh so wrong for so long here in the U.S. that it may seem odd when you proportion things correctly. It’s supposed to be a parsley salad with a little bit of bulgur wheat instead of the other way around. And even though the bulgur wheat is barely there, it’s still wheat, so I started brainstorming gluten-free substitutions. Quinoa was the first thing to come to mind, but I knew it wouldn’t have the right texture, so I let my mind roam and came up with the idea of using chopped, roasted chickpeas. They’re one of my favorite snacks — crunchy yet chewy, and I figured they’d hold up pretty well, even sitting overnight in leftovers.

While I won’t know how the leftovers held up until tomorrow, I have to tell you that it was so good for dinner tonight, I’m surprised there was anything to pack into the refrigerator.

Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad

Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Misc Serve Cold
Roasted chickpeas make a delicious substitute for bulgur wheat in this gluten-free version of tabbouleh salad.

Ingredients

Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can chickpeas (drained, rinsed and patted dry with dish towel)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1-2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
  • 2 pinches kosher salt

Tabbouleh

  • 1/4 cup roasted chickpeas (finely chopped)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (quartered lengthwise and chopped into small dice)
  • 1 Medium cucumber (peeled, seeded and chopped into small dice)
  • 5 green onions or scallions (trimmed and very thinly sliced)
  • 3 bunches flat leaf parsley (large stems removed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (toasted, then ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (finely ground)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • sumac (to taste)
  • aleppo pepper (to taste)

Note

Adapted from Anissa Helou's recipe at David Lebovitz.com and Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Grains and Greens.

Sumac is a spice with a tart flavor that can be used in place of lemon. It goes well with meat, fish, and hummus, so don't be shy about picking up a big bag. If you have trouble finding it locally, you can order from Kalustyan's or World Spice Merchants.

Directions

ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small baking pan, combine chickpeas, olive oil and seasonings, and toss to combine.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Cool to room temperature, then finely chop 1/4 cup of the chickpeas for the salad. Reserve the rest for another use.
TABBOULEH
Put diced tomatoes and cucumbers in a mesh strainer set over a bowl to drain away some of the excess liquid.
Gather as much parsley as you can in your hand, and slice it into thin ribbons with a very sharp knife. Place sliced parsley in a large bowl.
Add sliced green onion, drained tomatoes and cucumbers, and chopped roasted chickpeas to the sliced parsley. Season with cumin and black pepper and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Toss gently until well mixed.
Taste the salad and adjust seasonings by adding more sumac, aleppo pepper, salt and/or pepper, if you like.

The Whitest Soup

Until I posted this picture on my Facebook page last week, I had NO idea that there are people in this world who don’t like white foods! Taste and texture issues? Sure, we all have them — I despise mint and don’t like mix-ins in my ice cream — but it never occurred to me that one color could be such a turnoff across the board. So to all of you who are white foods-phobic, I apologize in advance for today’s post.

I blame Martha Stewart for my recent obsession with cauliflower soup. Making this recipe started the ball rolling and I’ve been playing with it ever since, paring ingredients each time to get to the essence of the soup. Like potage parmentier, I suspect this is a soup that can take endless amounts of noodling around, but doesn’t need it at all.

Cauliflower Soup @ Minimally Invasive

What I did amounted to more of a technique than a recipe. I roasted cauliflower florets and trimmed, chopped stems with a drizzle of olive oil and salt & pepper till it was slightly caramelized and the flavor was concentrated. While the cauliflower was roasting, I sautéed a chopped onion and a clove of garlic in olive oil until they were soft, then tossed the roasted cauliflower into the pot (minus a few florets set aside for garnishing) and added water until the cauliflower was just peeking out from it. You could use chicken stock instead of water if you prefer, but I was going for a vegan dish. After simmering for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine, I blended the soup in batches in my Vita Mix, then adjusted the salt to taste. Feel free to use an immersion blender instead of going to the trouble of blending it in batches; I was chasing creaminess this time around and so opted for the fussier method.

Cauliflower Soup @ Minimally Invasive

And if you stopped there, it’d be perfectly delicious, but I wanted a little bit of a bite, so I topped it with a few of the reserved roasted cauliflower florets and a very simple preserved lemon gremolata (for which I chopped 1/4 of a preserved lemon peel, a handful of flat-leaf parsley and a small garlic clove, then moistened it with olive oil and seasoned it with salt). I had some berbere leftover from this recipe, so I sprinkled a little over the gremolata and thought it really added a nice hit of spice to the whole thing. It’s not a necessary addition by any means, but if you have a spice blend you love, give it a try.

I’ll be back soon with more color on the plate, for everyone who hated today’s post.

Cauliflower Soup with Preserved Lemon Gremolata
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Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Preserved Lemon Gremolata

Cauliflower soup gets punched up with an unexpected gremolata. 

Course: Soup
Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
Soup
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
Preserved Lemon Gremolata
  • 1/4 preserved lemon peel chopped
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • sprinkling of Berbere optional
Instructions
Soup
  1. Heat oven to 450°F. 

  2. Trim cauliflower crown into bite-sized florets, then trim and chop the stems. Toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss again, then roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and beginning to caramelize.

  3. While cauliflower is roasting, sauté the onion over medium heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When onion is soft, add garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant. 

  4. Reserve 1/2 cup of cauliflower florets for garnish. Add remaining cauliflower to the pot, stir, and add enough water to the pot to leave just the top layer of cauliflower exposed. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

  5. Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Wipe out the pot and return soup to it over very low heat. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Preserved Lemon Gremolata
  1. Combine gremolata ingredients and stir to combine in a small bowl. Add reserved cauliflower florets and toss. 

  2. For serving, ladle soup into bowls and top with gremolata mixture, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Berbere, if using.

Recipe Notes

Though this recipe calls for preserved lemon, feel free to substitute 2-3 teaspoons of lemon zest if you don't have a jar of them. Berbere is a delicious Ethiopian spice blend I had on hand when I first made this recipe, but it's by no means required. If you prefer another spice blend, feel free to use it here. The soup is very subtly flavored, so as long as the spices play well with the gremolata, you're golden.

Finally!

coconut flour, almond flour

After choking down loads of dense, eggy breads, biscuits and pancakes that felt like they were expanding in my throat, I decided coconut flour just didn’t live up to its reputation as an exciting (or even acceptable) paleo/gluten-free flour. No matter what it was blended with, the results were off just enough to remind me that I was eating a substitute for the real thing. But high praise from Jenny at MFAMB for a chocolate chip cookie made with a blend of coconut and almond flours* but no eggs led me to reconsider. The recipe at Cookie & Kate sounded deceptively simple, so I went straight to the kitchen to test the vegan version** with coconut oil. After cooling them on the pan until they were firm enough to be handled — 10-15 minutes — I bit into a delicious, standard chocolate chip cookie that was crisp at the edges and soft in the center. I defy anyone to identify them as gluten-free by taste alone.

coconut flour, almond flour

Naturally, I also baked a batch with butter instead of oil, but I made a few other big changes at the same time:

  • I browned the butter instead of just melting it, because brown butter makes everything better.
  • Taking a cue from the awesome Jacques Torres cookie recipe that swept the food world several years ago, I rested the dough in the refrigerator for three days before baking.
  • I doubled the size of the cookies from one tablespoon to two, flattened them slightly, and topped each with a sprinkle Maldon sea salt before baking for 13 minutes.

Weirdly, the butter amplified the coconut flavor more than the coconut oil did, but otherwise, I much preferred the second batch. It’s a heftier cookie that gets its only crunch from the sea salt, which accents the chocolate and just leaves you wanting more. And more. And still more.

Gluten-free bakers, this one’s a home run. Be sure to try this recipe.

* For the record, I used JK Gourmet Almond Flour rather than the more easily found Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour, which probably had a lot to do with the smooth texture that mimics regular flour. If you use almond meal, I’m sure you’ll produce a cookie every bit as delicious as these, just a bit coarser.

** For vegan cookies, be sure to buy dairy-free chocolate chips. I know you dedicated vegans always read labels, but when you’re just starting out, it’s sometimes easy to forget.

Soup for Days

Gluten-Free, Vegan Vegetable Soup

I spent the better part of this week getting over a nasty bout of what I think was food poisoning and didn’t find much that tempted me to eat until last night. Soup really sustained me once the worst was over, starting with straight broth the second day and progressing to this nutrient-packed, luscious vegan concoction that I credit with finally getting me over the hump. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for cauliflower soup from a back issue of Martha Stewart Living, and thought I could bump it up with more greens and toss in an avocado for good fats and extra creaminess.

It did not disappoint. I must’ve eaten about 3/4 of it over the past few days.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Vegetable Soup

If you’ve spent any time here at all, you know I love my grass-fed/pastured meat. But I’ve found that, since shooting another vegan cookbook in January, I’m gravitating (on occasion) to vegan foods, sans meat- and dairy-replacers. Eating your vegetables has never been so delicious or fulfilling.

recipe after the jump

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Day 8, Macaroons

Chocolate-Drizzled Pecan Macaroons

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 8

For our Save the Date wedding cards, Gil and I originally wanted something along the lines of, “A Cajun Mennonite and a Jew walk into a bar…” Upon further reflection, we decided fielding questions or hearing the end of the joke from a couple hundred people while we were planning a wedding in another city wasn’t the brightest idea, so the card defaulted to more traditional wording. But you can see that, right from the very beginning, we knew how to blend.

While we both came into this thing with an appreciation for Mel Brooks and Faulkner House Books, Gil has taken on LSU football and the whole “Christmas with a large family + boudin” thing with gusto, and I’ve learned to appropriate a few of his holidays while putting a southern spin on them. Example the first: Pecan-Brown Sugar Macaroons.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 8

. . . with bourbon vanilla extract and drizzled chocolate! Happy Hanukkah, y’all! (I know I should be frying something instead, but these are easier and leave my house smelling a whole lot better.)

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 8

I started with my go-to recipe from the past few years, but wasn’t sure what the added moisture from the brown sugar would do, so I used a little less. The pecans were a one-for-one swap for the almonds, and the bourbon-vanilla because you can’t have pecans and brown sugar without a little bourbon, amirite? (I’ll get to the finer points of making your own vanilla extract in an upcoming post, so stay tuned.) I probably don’t have to tell you how delicious these were, so I’ll just let Ru do the talking . . .

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 8

Honestly! I took Otis out for five minutes and came back to discover this. My initial surprise turned to wonder. Why did he leave three? Is he ok? Is he saving them for a midnight snack? To quote Ron Burgundy, “I’m not even mad; that’s amazing!” (And yeah, we got confirmation that Ru was the guilty party during our walk the next morning. That jerk.)

Chocolate-Drizzled Pecan Macaroons
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Pecan Macaroons
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Pecan macaroons with bourbon and brown sugar, glazed with melted chocolate.

Course: Snack
Servings: 16
Calories: 68 kcal
Ingredients
  • .25 cup organic palm sugar, or brown sugar packed
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • .25 cup pecan pieces toasted and finely chopped
  • .5 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract (or pure vanilla extract)
  • pinch coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flour
  • .25 cup bittersweet chocolate chips melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Whisk together sugar and egg white in a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients and allow mixture to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Form dough into sixteen 1-tablespoon mounds and drop each onto sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake macaroons until golden-brown on bottoms and edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

  3. To finish, using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cooled macaroons. Macaroons will keep, covered, for up to one week.

  4. Macaroons will keep, covered, for up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Adapted heavily from Martha Stewart.

Time for a Snack

Healthy, gluten-free snack

I’ve been obsessed with avocados lately, just snacking on a half straight from the shell, sprinkled with a little salt. It’s a healthy and satisfying treat. But after reading that my friend Nicole at Love Life and her son Luca add honey and lemon to the mix, I now have a new favorite way to enjoy them. So, so good.

Update: Jeannie left a comment suggesting avocado with a drizzle of soy sauce, which I’ll be trying with my very next one. So what’s YOUR favorite way to enjoy avocados? I’d love to hear more suggestions!

Who Doesn’t Love a Parfait?

Parfait of dairy-free coconut ice cream and rhubarb-strawberry topping with slivered almonds

Not me, that’s for sure. Especially during a heatwave. Especially when that heatwave comes on the heels of a winter that lasted a record-breaking two years and four months. (Well, that’s what it felt like, but I’ll be honest and say I’ll take summer and all of its stankiness over winter’s misery any day and twice on Sunday.)

But we were discussing parfait, right? When a dessert’s based on a premise of perfection, it’s tough to mess up. You can get pretty creative with it — just do a quick Google search to see what I mean — but there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple, either. For these, I just layered dairy-free coconut ice cream with a rhubarb and strawberry topping I threw together in about 10 minutes, then topped it with toasted slivered almonds. And you know what? It really was perfect.

Dessert parfait

I don’t keep anything like a dairy-free diet, but there was no milk or cream in the house and I wanted needed to make ice cream. Since I usually have coconut milk in the pantry, I gave that a go with this recipe and loved the outcome — very coconutty/custardy with a rich, creamy texture. The fruit topping recipe came from here, and it’s very bare bones, but when you’ve got stunning strawberries and juicy rhubarb from the farmers’ market to work with, why gild the lily?

recipe after the jump

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Spicy Mushroom Soup

It’s been some winter so far. Not content to bury us under successive blankets of snow, the heavens punished us yesterday for some undisclosed sin we’ve collectively committed by raining shards of ice on our heads. Knowing icy vengeance was coming our way, I made a pot of, well, I’m still not sure what to call this soup. It’s very, very loosely based on yuk gae jang, a mind-blowingly spicy Korean beef soup. It was a favorite of mine in my 20s, but the beef was always just a little too chewy for my taste, so I started tinkering with meatless versions sometime in my 30s and landed on this one in my 40s.

So you could say it’s been a long time coming. I’m not done with it yet, but it’s a dish that obviously can handle a fair amount of tweaking.

The secret ingredient in this bowl of bliss is gochujang, a fermented condiment heavy on the red pepper. Looking for an expiration date on the jar that’s been in my refrigerator for a couple of years (at least), I noticed a prominent ingredient was wheat, which I’m really avoiding in earnest these days. So I did what I always do — looked online for a gluten-free recipe, and found one right away. The ingredients were few, the time commitment was minimal and the rewards were great (it’s possibly more delicious than commercial-grade). I really can’t complain. Even though my Korean chili pepper was a little out of date and the gochujang wasn’t Insanity Pepper-hot, it still lit up the pot of soup like a torch.

As insurance against the weather, I added a hefty dash of chili flakes to the pot. You can see them swimming alone around the edges of the bowl, as if the vegetables were crowding together in the center for protection.

recipe after the jump

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