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Whip up a Soufflé like a pro!

6 Feb

IMG_0144Last night I made a Spinach and Cheddar Soufflé.  It was light, fluffy and delicious.  This is a recipe from Ina Garten that I found in House Beautiful magazine.  Apparently the Barefoot Contessa swears by this recipe and I understand why!  Foolproof for sure.   My only recommendation is it took 40 minutes to bake.  At 35 mins it was not quite set. I served it with an arugula salad with radishes, red peppers and shaved parmesan cheese.  The dressing was a red wine vinegar variation on my usual balsamic vinaigrette.   Leftovers make a wonderful breakfast!

Ina Garten’s Spinach and Cheddar Soufflé

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
 (the flour adds about 5 carbs per serving)

1 cup scalded milk

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature

1/2 cup grated aged Cheddar cheese, lightly packed

1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter the inside of one 6-to-8-cup soufflé dish (6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches in diameter x 3 1/2 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, nutmeg, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for one minute, until smooth and thick.

3. Off the heat, but while still hot, mix in the egg yolks. Stir in the Cheddar, the Parmesan, and the spinach, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

4. Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for one minute, on medium speed for one minute, then finally on high speed until firm, glossy peaks are formed.

5. Whisk one-quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten, and then fold in the rest. Pour into the prepared soufflé dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don’t peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.    IMG_0138

NOTE: To make in advance, prepare the recipe through Step 3 (adding the cheeses). You can do this up to 2 hours ahead. Keep mixture covered at room temperature, and then proceed with the recipe just before baking.  This is what I did and it worked perfectly.  

IMG_0148

Green Salad every night

12 Nov

Doing the low carb thing almost requires a green salad every night.  The crunch, fiber and all the good stuff in greens are essential. Our dinner salads are quite large. In an effort to change things up I make varying types of fresh vinaigrettes.  They last about a week in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature before using.  Shake it up or whisk lightly and you are all set.

Lately I buy the greens already washed and ready to go in the plastic 5 oz recyclable containers.  Organic greens such as arugula, baby spinach and mixed greens are readily available.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 T Dijon mustard                                   

2 T balsamic vinegar

1 minced garlic clove

1/2 C olive oil

salt and pepper

Mix first three ingredients then slowly add olive oil whisking as you add the oil. This creates an emulsion. Salt and pepper to taste.  Salt the greens before dressing with the vinaigrette.  Shaved parmesan a nice touch.  Toasted pine nuts on top delicious!

Alternate ingredients-

Add 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon, use red wine vinegar in place of balsamic, add chopped shallots in place of garlic.  Or use fresh lemon juice in place of any vinegar to create a refreshing lemon vinaigrette and omit the garlic.

The Windy City

30 Sep

This weekend I am in Chicago. Warm, sunny and 75 degrees just amazing fall weather. Travel and keeping low carb can be a bit of a trial, but I am getting the hang of it. I found a great breakfast spot called the Corner Bakery, sounds crazy for a low carb breakfast but if you can ignore all the muffins, coffee cake and bagels they make wonderful scrambled eggs and bacon. The Anaheim Scrambler with crisp applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, green onions, and cheddar cheese, topped with avocado was a favorite.  Just ask them to hold the potatoes and toast. Ignore the funny looks and declarations that you will still need to pay for them, and you get a nice filling breakfast. FYI-the cash register automatically deducted the cost of potatoes and toast!

I had a wonderful spinach salad at The Capital Grille, perfect for a late night dinner. Definitely something I plan to recreate when I get home. Tender baby spinach leaves, onions and mushrooms with chopped egg and smoked bacon on top. The warm bacon dressing was wonderful.  I am little worried there was some sugar in that dressing.

To start our meal at The Capital Grille we shared an appetizer that was perfection. For anyone wondering about the benefits of low carb living, check this out. No carbs, eat this with reckless abandon! It is fresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto and lightly sautéed. The fresh basil and drizzle of balsamic glaze* the perfect addition.

It came with crostini which we ignored. Easy to do.  I need to try this at home. Great appetizer for dinner parties.

*This is just reduced balsamic vinegar. Simmer balsamic vinegar over gentle heat until reach desired thickness.  Balsamic adds sweetness, so watch the are carbs. Read the label on your balsamic vinegar.  Usually about 5 grams per ounce, use sparingly. A very light drizzle is all that is needed.

Finally I want to share a great lunch find. On Saturday afternoon, we sat outside at The Ralph Lauren Restaurant just off Michigan Avenue. I had the the Baby Arugula Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber, Parmesan, Pine Nuts tossed with a Champagne Vinaigrette.  It was so reminiscent of our recent trip to Italy! It seemed a steal at under $10.  Just sitting there on a beautiful afternoon people watching was worth more than that! 

Insalada~magnifico!

9 Sep

Racola (arugula) or “rocket”, as it was often referred to, was used as the starting point in so many wonderful salads during our travels. My new favorite was the Insalada Tuna. A big bowl of peppery arugula with chunks of dark tuna in the center surrounded by hard boiled eggs and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and you have a feast.

Another favorite was the Caprese Salad show here with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes garnished with basil, olive oil, salt & pepper. Molto bene! 

No croutons, no problem..

29 Aug

I was just reminded of a wonderful salad addition this morning from my friend Jean (foodie, brilliant home cook, exercise partner).  These are so great in a salad and I do crave crunchy things.  Kind of salty which is perfect! Thanks Jean, see you in Italy(more on that in coming posts).

Parmesan Crisps (8-10)

1/2 C freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese

Line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Pour heaping tablespoon of cheese onto prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8-10 minutes-watch carefully

Tips: Spice it up with cayenne pepper, sesame seeds or black pepper.  Using a Silpat makes this so easy.  Just when you remove from the oven make a little basket out of the cheese by placing over inverted small bowl.

Caesar Salad

23 Jul

This is so good. Crunchy Romaine lettuce and a great dressing that you can make in a minute. I added red pepper for more crunch since I don’t use croutons. Shaved Parmesan the best on this!  To make a meal add grilled chicken.  
Dressing~
2 Cloves garlic, minced finely
1 T dijon mustard
1 T white wine vinegar
2 T mayonnaise
1/2 C olive oil
Salt  Pepper and Lemon Juice to taste
Add a little anchovy paste for extra zing!

Combine first 4 ingredients with a whisk, slowly add olive oil creating an emulsion. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice as you like.

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