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After coffee, butterscotch is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. In fact, one of my favorite restaurant desserts of all time is a butterscotch pudding I had at Tilth here in Seattle. It was so divine that the two of us splitting it just had to order another. To me, butterscotch captures the toasty warmth and golden hue of late afternoon sun.

Traditional butterscotch is made by heating brown sugar and butter together until nicely caramelized. My recent kitchen experiments with brown rice syrup, which has its own malted flavor, prompted me to see if it could stand as a non-dairy version of said ice cream with a little help from my grown-up friend, Scotch. Brown rice syrup is a sweetener made up of glucose molecule chains of varying lengths, so it takes the body longer to process it than pure glucose and consequently provides a less steep spike in blood sugar levels. Additionally for those who do not tolerate fructose well as is found in fruits, cane sugars, maple syrup, and agave, this syrup can be a good substitute. Scotch helps round out the toasty flavor and fortunately through its distillation process, eliminates the gluten from its original grainy mash.

The syrup and alcohol in this recipe help to make this ice cream freeze in a softer, instantly scoopable form. I chose a single malt scotch but you can use whatever scotch you like best. This makes 3-4 servings if you feel like sharing.

DAIRY-FREE BUTTERSCOTCH COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM

  • 1 15oz. can regular coconut milk
  • 1/3-1/2 cup brown rice syrup (or loosely packed brown sugar)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp reserved of scotch
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • ice cream maker
  • small saucepan
  1. Put 1/3 cup scotch in a small saucepan. Simmer until the liquid has been reduced to half its volume.
  2. Add the brown rice syrup to the pan. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat. Pour in the coconut milk and vanilla. Stir until well mixed.
  4. Refrigerate the mixture until it is room temp or cooler.
  5. Just before pouring into the ice cream maker, add in 1 tbsp of scotch.
  6. Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions.

For a fun variation try using closer to 1/3 cup sweetener and then adding a few tablespoons of brown sugar when your ice cream is a few minutes from being done.

Avocado Oil Mayonnaise

For non-dairy eaters, mayonnaise can provide that extra dollop of umami in place of a pat of butter or other dairy-based garnish. It can make a salad dressing creamy and steamed vegetables sing in your mouth.

I grew up on tuna and egg salad sandwiches, so mayo and I have been friends for a long time. In my quest to eat healthier fats however, it became clear that if I wanted mayo without soy, corn, or canola oil that I would need to make it myself. Fortunately with the advent of the stick blender, making mayo is easier than it has ever been. I have been experimenting with the Nourishing Traditions’ recipe which normally calls for olive oil. The recipe also uses whey to help the mayonnaise thicken and lengthen its shelf life, some nice features, but not practical for those avoiding dairy. So with a little help from my local co-op, I discovered the mild, nutty taste of cold-pressed avocado oil. If you are one of those folks who thinks olive oil mayonnaise has a bit too much olive bite, you may be pleasantly surprised by this milder version. Duck eggs are especially divine for this, just make sure to double the rest of the recipe because of their large size.

To get around the whey requirement, I use part of a probiotic capsule to provide a non-dairy source of microbes. Plus I like more lemon juice than the original recipe. I recommend using pastured eggs from a farmer you trust. Typically I make mayo the day I purchase mine or the day after that to make sure the eggs are extra fresh. You will find that this homemade version is delightfully yellow thanks to the pastured eggs and the avocado oil.

AVOCADO OIL MAYONNAISE

  • 1 egg and 2 egg yolks at room temperature (pastured if possible)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4  to 1 cup extra virgin avocado oil
  • 1/3 of a probiotic capsule (optional)
  • glass jar, pint size or larger (wide mouth canning jars are great)
  • immersion blender

1. Combine the eggs, lemon juice, salt, and mustard in the glass jar. Blend these ingredients for 30 seconds with the immersion blender.

3. Open probiotic capsule and sprinkle in 1/3 into the jar.

4. Slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture as you blend it.

5. Add more lemon juice, mustard, and salt to taste.

6. If you added probiotics, allow the mixture to sit, covered on the counter for 7 hours before refrigerating. This fermented version will keep for several months and has a thicker consistency. Without probiotics this mayo will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Photo by Michael Allen Smith

One of the earlier heralds of spring cooking is stinging nettles. I can usually find them in the wooded areas of Seattle starting in late February. Harvested carefully with gloves and scissors, the top 2-4 inches are a tender, welcome boost of green and mineral goodness in my kitchen. Nettles taste like a more mineral rich version of spinach, and indeed they are high in iron, calcium, and magnesium. They can be used much in the same way as spinach in recipes, except I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw on account of their stinging properties. A five-minute blanch in boiling water or cooking is all it takes to remove the sting.

One of my favorite ways to use nettles is in root vegetable soup. Vegetables like potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, and celery root are still plentiful this time of year and can help make a base for a wonderful creamy soup without dairy. You can use what ever you like of the aforementioned root vegetables in the soup below. I happen to be especially partial to the combination of Jerusalem artichokes and celery root. If you chop your root vegetables fairly small, this soup can be almost ready in 30 minutes.

Photo by Michael Allen Smith

ALMOST SPRING SOUP WITH NETTLES

  • ~1 lb of parsnips/potatoes/celery root/Jerusalem artichokes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 medium size leeks
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6-8 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces (1 packed cup) of well rinsed stinging nettles or spinach
  • 1 tbsp of cooking fat (olive oil, tallow, lard, or coconut oil)
  • salt and pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large pot.  Saute the leeks and onion on medium heat until they are starting to brown.

2. Add the broth and root vegetables. Cook about 20 minutes, until the cubes are pierced easily by a fork.

3. Add the nettles and simmer for 5 more minutes. Use a stick blender to puree the soup.

4. Salt and pepper to taste.

Quiche is a fine French staple food, which is delightful for any meal. Most recipes however call for copious amounts of dairy in the form of milk, cream, and cheese, not to mention a crust involving wheat or other grains. So what is a dairy-free, mostly grain-free gal to do? I headed to the kitchen to experiment.

Eliminating the crust altogether still left me with my favorite part of the quiche and fewer steps in the cooking process. Then with a bit more experimentation, I uncovered two tricks to keeping a dairy-free quiche custardy rich and savory:

  • replace the milk and cream in the custard with coconut milk (the custard created is nearly indistinguishable from a regular dairy-based one)
  • add a savory, intensely flavored meat such as bacon or sausage to add richness in place of cheese

I often use precooked chicken and pork sausages from the store, sliced up and browned a bit in a pan. If you like a spicy quiche, try andouille sausage for some extra heat. Baked in a muffin pan these mini quiches become portable snacks or a breakfast on the go. Lots of different vegetable combinations can be used, as long as they are sautéed before adding to the quiche batter. Some of my favorites are mushrooms, leeks, spinach, kale, onions, shallots, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. The recipe below is the one I make most often since the magic of bacon and greens is one I can’t seem to resist.

Photo by Carly & Art

DAIRY-FREE CRUSTLESS QUICHE: BACON AND KALE

  • 4-5 eggs ( beyond 5 will create a less custardy and more frittata like texture)
  • 1 can (15oz) coconut milk (not the lite version)
  • 3-5 pieces of bacon (or at least 1/3 lb  sausage)
  • tallow, bacon grease, or other fat for sauteing
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 half bunch of kale or spinach, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup white wine, or 2 tablespoons water (optional)
  • salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Warm eggs and coconut milk to room temperature (a 15 minute bath in warm water can speed up this process).

2. Cook up your bacon or sausage while your oven, eggs, and coconut milk are warming up. Set the meat aside on a plate.

3. Then saute the vegetables on medium heat. Bacon grease or beef tallow are excellent sauteing fats for this recipe. Start with the onions and add the kale once the onions are starting to brown. Next, is the optional step of  braising the vegetable mixture with wine or water until the liquid has evaporated. Once the vegetables are done, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

4. Grease an 8×8 glass dish or pie pan (coconut oil is my favorite).

5. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs and coconut milk. Add the meat and vegetables. Whisk until these new additions are well suspended in the egg mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste, ~1/4 tsp of salt.

6. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until the center has solidified.

This dish will keep for several days in the fridge.

The word is slowly getting out that some saturated fats are actually good for you, and that what may be making people overweight is processed carbohydrates. In fact many healthy cultures around the world have animal-based fat as a key component of their diets. The trick is to make sure the animal was raised the way nature intended, eating the food it was intended to eat. In the case of beef, that means finding a source of 100% grass-fed beef. I’m lucky enough to have a number of purveyors of grass-fed beef here in my area.

While I cannot enjoy much animal fat in the form of dairy, I can use tallow in much the same way as ghee or butter. I find that tallow imparts a pleasant slightly beef broth or almost buttery taste to food. I have even substituted part of the butter in baking recipes with tallow and not heard any complaints from the eaters! It also happens to be quite easy to render and relatively cheap compared to the cost of other fats like grass-fed butter or coconut oil.

Don’t get me wrong, if  I could eat a pat of butter everyday I would. In the meantime I’m enjoying discovering cooking with tallow. It helps saute vegetables or fry up eggs quite nicely. For anyone concerned about avoiding seed oils, cooking fats like tallow or lard are great choices. I typically render fats twice a year, once with lard and once with tallow. The recipe below is from Mark’s Daily Apple and would also apply to rendering lard.

DRY RENDERING TALLOW


  • 1-2 lbs beef suet or fat (from the kidney area if you like an end product with a more buttery consistency)
  • a food processor
  • a fine mesh strainer or colander
  • paper towels/cheesecloth
  • several wide-mouth glass jars (such as pint canning jars) for storing the tallow
  • an oven safe dish which can hold all the tallow

1. Staring with a half-thawed chunks of fat, cut out all the meat and red bloody parts. Cut the remaining lovely white fat into inch sized cubes. Then put the cubes in the freezer for several hours to harden them up again.

2. Preheat the oven to 250°F. When the cubes are the consistency of cold butter, place them in the food processor. Grind until the fat is shredded into small pieces like taco meat. Doing this helps maximize the amount of fat you can render out of the suet and shortens the rendering time.

3. Place the shredded fat into the dish and melt in the oven for about 2 hours. Check periodically. When the fat is fully melted and the cracklins (small bits of fat tissue which turn brown) are toasted, pull the dish out of the oven. Your kitchen should smell like a delicious burger or beef soup at this point.

4. Pour the fat through a fine mesh strainer into your jar(s). A colander lined with paper towels or cheesecloth will also work. Pour the filtered tallow into your glass storage jar(s). Store in the fridge or freezer. Your tallow should have a slightly yellow tint.

Other tips:

  • I keep my tallow chilled in the fridge and have used it up to 8 months later. For longer storage you might want to consider freezing it.
  • Another way to store the tallow is to harden it in small muffin tins. Pop these pucks into a freezer container and you can pull out only what you need for the short-term.
  • You can eat the cracklins. They are like a beef version of bacon bits. Add some salt and you just might think they are better than potato chips.
  • For other rendering options using the stove top or the slow cooker, follow these great instructions by blogger Cheeseslave.
  • For clean up, wipe up as much as you can with rags or paper towels as this stuff can clog up your drains if too much finds its way down the sink.

The season is upon us for winter treats. One of my favorites that seems to appear around Thanksgiving time is eggnog. How to make a creamy, rich nog without dairy? Coconut milk!

I also used raw egg yolks from a local pastured egg source. Thanks to their fabulously cheery yellow yolks, my eggnog looked like the real deal.  If you are unsure of your egg source and prefer a cooked eggnog experience, you can cook this slowly in a double broiler, stirring until the nog thickens enough to coat a spoon. Also because coconut milk tends to solidify under about 70°F, I gave my eggs and coconut milk carton a warm water bath for about 20 minutes or so before blending. This recipe is adapted from GNOWFGLINS. You can double this recipe if using a 15oz. can of coconut milk.

COCONUT MILK EGGNOG

  • 2 egg yolks from pastured eggs (well washed and warmed to room temperature)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (warmed to room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg

Blend the coconut milk, egg yolks, honey, and vanilla extract until well mixed. Drink immediately or after chilling for several hours. Grate nutmeg over your glass of nog and enjoy.

With a few egg whites left over from making eggnog, I also decided to make some almond macarons, an excellent gluten-free, grain-free cookie alternative. This recipe is a lower sugar based on a version by dessert master David Liebowitz.

almond macarons

BASIC ALMOND MACARONS

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Grind the almonds or almond meal in a coffee grinder or spice grinder since finely ground almonds make for the best consistency cookie. Sift together the ground almonds and powdered sugar. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the almond extract into the egg whites and then beat until stiff peaks appear. Fold the almond and sugar mixture into the egg whites until just mixed. Load the batter into a pastry bag or ziplock bag with a 1/4 inch of the corner cut off. Pipe into 1 inch disks on the cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Tap sheet a few times to settle air bubbles. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool and then remove from the baking sheet.

Welcome to Cooking Kate

Welcome to my cooking site where I will tackle cooking tasty food for those of us trying to avoid soy, dairy, and gluten. Some of my inspirations for cooking come from the slow food movement and Weston Price. In my world happy animal fats are good.

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