Butter-Pecan Creme Brulee

by Eugene on January 22, 2009 · 12 comments

souffle

I’m not the biggest fan of Splenda. It spices up the low-carb lifestyle, sure, and the latest Atkins books all say that it’s fine in moderation, but I find that things just work better when I stay away from the sweetness. So when I found this recipe for a low carb, Atkins-friendly creme brulee that barely uses any Splenda at all, it went straight into my bookmarks.

The creme itself isn’t bad, as the custard base lent itself entirely to low carb translation. The topping, however, is something rather original. It’s a crunch, and it tastes great, but no one will be mistaking it for the real deal. I may have been spoiled by too many late-night movies with coffee and rock-solid brulee, but the pecans left me wanting for something to crack with my spoon. Be that as it may, since artificial sweeteners don’t caramelize, the butter-pecan topping is about as close as we’re getting to the real deal without using actual sugar (which, needless to say, would defeat the point).

Despite that exercise in fence sitting, I recommend this recipe wholeheartedly. It seems especially suited to dinner parties or special occasions, as you can make it a day or so ahead of time with absolutely no extra work required, and it’s oven to table in one dish, so cleanup is a breeze. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

low carb souffle

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Clam Chowder

by Eugene on January 17, 2009 · 8 comments

The last time I had clam chowder was at S&P Oyster Company, returning from a week on the Cape. It was so good that–as stupid as this sounds–I’ve passed it up at every chance since. That is, until I was thumbing through cookbooks and found a recipe for it in Heirloom Cooking With the Brass Sisters.

clam chowder

There were two problems, though. First, chowders are almost always potato based. I did some research and found that turnips, when used in soups and stews, are a perfect substitute for potatoes. (And it’s amazing how true that is.) The second, somewhat harder problem was finding a low carb thickener strong enough to replace a half cup of flour. I didn’t find my fix until it was reducing, but it seems that mild white cheese is the perfect thickener for chowder. And with that, voilà, a low carb, Atkins-friendly chowder that withstood my vacation memories.

chopped turnips

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

by Eugene on January 14, 2009 · 30 comments

Low-carb desserts are. not. easy. Sure, making them isn’t all that hard, but recipes to create things that bear more than a passing resemblance to their namesakes are not easily found. That hurdle is what kept the beau and I locked in the kitchen last weekend, baking, analyzing, and brainstorming. And after two days of experiments–many failed and a few successful–I exhaustedly present to you our take on the low-carb chocolate chip cookie.

chocolate chip cookie low carb

Now this isn’t a catchall recipe, not that any chocolate chip recipe could be. Although I prefer chewy cookies, one day (maybe after low-carb shortbread, pecan sandies, grasshoppers, macaroons, and, dear God, cookie cakes) I’ll come back and find a good crunchy variation. Until then, these will be more than enough for me.

low carb chocolate chip cookies

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Tomato Basil Soup

by Eugene on January 6, 2009 · 9 comments

As far as fast food goes, my favorite restaurant has to be La Madeleine. When I was growing up, we would walk to the one just off St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, and being surrounded by French-Acadian culture with trollies whizzing by, it never occurred to me that it might be part of a chain. You can imagine my surprise (and delight, and then dismay) when I found one buried in a Baton Rouge suburb years later.

tomato soup

I still enjoy going, but the character of the our location just isn’t the same. Homegrown Texan girls trying to wrap their tongues around “Bonsoir, monsieur” change the atmosphere in a way that’s hard to ignore. The one thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the utter perfection of their tomato basil soup.

Knowing I didn’t want to go to a pastry-filled French bakery for one of their few low-carb dishes, last weekend we took a stab at making our own version. It may be winter here in Austin, but go into any grocery and you will find box after box of fresh tomatoes, still glowing from the Mexican sun. Armed with fresh produce and garlic flax bread, this recipe turned out better than either of us expected.

tomatoes

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Garlic Flax Flatbread

by Eugene on January 3, 2009 · 12 comments

When I tell people that I eat low carb, they usually say something along the lines of, “Oh, so you don’t eat bread?” Au contraire. Sure, it means no wheat, but the end of gluten is where things just start to get interesting.

garlic flax flatbread

This weekend we made tomato basil soup, a dish you really can’t have without something to dip. Never one to settle, I made a loaf of garlic flax flatbread that turned out to be just a little bit better than I had expected. Except that it was supposed to be crackers. It turns out that an eighth of an inch is a lot thinner than I had spent my life assuming, so I rolled the dough about three times too thick. And although you might think an absolutely unleavened bread would be tough, the baked-in parmesan left a springy, absorbent texture that lent itself to soup. I’m filing this accident under “keep.”

golden flax

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Chicken and Basil Roulades with Mustard Sauce

by Eugene on December 31, 2008 · 4 comments

I have never been a fan of chicken breasts–they’re usually too dry, they have a rope-like texture, and they were always a part of my parents’ “healthy” dinners (boiled chicken, steamed broccoli, and a large helping of white rice). Indeed, experimenting with this recipe was the first time I’d bought a package of breasts in well over a year. Despite my misgivings, this dish turned out great. The breading was crunchy, the chicken was moist, and the sauce was full of creamy flavor. Best of all, it was low carb and gluten free.

chicken basil

mustard sauce

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Homemade Almond Flour

by Eugene on December 27, 2008 · 12 comments

Almond flour is an essential part of low-carb or gluten-free baking, but buying it pre-milled can get unreasonably pricey. Grinding it at home is a fresher, less expensive alternative that has saved the LowCarbist a pretty penny this holiday season.

fresh ground almond flour

To mill, you’ll need a food processor (or a blender) and a bag of almonds. Blanched almonds yield the lightest, finest flour, but whole almonds provide a tiny bit more fiber. I always choose blanched, because they are slightly softer and easier to grind.

blanched almonds

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Five-Onion Gratin

by Eugene on December 14, 2008 · 3 comments

This recipe combines every type of onion available at your average grocery, give or take an allium. The result is a creamy, sweet casserole with a tangy cheese crust. The interplay of the crunchy top and the sweet bottom isn’t unlike coffee cake, if that can be said about a dish with more than a pound of onions.

onion gratin

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