Lemon Chess Dessert

The new theme appears to be working quite well; I’ve gotten most of the bugs worked out – the only one left is a minor issue with my recipe plugin, and I’m just waiting to hear back from the developers on how to solve it.

In the meantime, it’s back to business as usual.

Today’s recipe was one of the indulgences we enjoyed as part of our Thanksgiving dinner – and boy, was it good.   Well, of course it was, since it is merely a reworking of my Lemon Chess Pie recipe.  The original recipe is baked in a crust and is made with refined sugar, milk and butter; this version is baked in individual bruleé dishes and is made with evaporated cane juice, ghee and coconut milk.  Yes, evaporated cane juice is sugar, but it’s not been refined and bleached so it retains what dubious nutritional value sugar cane possesses.  Besides, it is made from sugar cane, not sugar beets, one of the most widely genetically modified crops grown in this country.

A tablespoon of corn meal is also an ingredient, and one that I decided not to omit or change simply because it plays an integral part in the texture of the dessert.  Since I had a small bag of certified organic, gluten-free corn meal (corn meal is often produced in the same facilities as wheat flour, so it may not be gluten-free, even though corn itself is not a gluten-bearing grain), I decided to go ahead and include it.  It was, after all, a treat.  (You might be able to use almond flour instead, but I can’t vouch for how the dish will turn out.)

A treat we enjoyed for days – this is really, really rich and serves 10; each dish contains two servings, so it’s best to share.

Traditional lemon chess pie has a lovely lemon-yellow hue, but because I used evaporated cane juice the dessert was a rich caramel color, and since evaporated cane juice is more reminiscent of brown sugar in flavor, the flavor of this lemon chess dessert is much more complex than the traditional pie.  It is absolutely delicious and decadent, and perfect for the holidays.

If you wish to go truly dairy-free, sub the ghee with coconut oil – I’ve used coconut oil in lemon curd before instead of butter, and it was quite good.  You could also cut down on the amount of sugar and carbs in the dessert by using coconut sugar; it will also be a little less sweet, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either.

Lemon Chess Dessert

Lemon Chess Dessert

Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 2 cups evaporated cane juice
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup ghee, melted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 4 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter or grease 5 individual brulee dishes.
  2. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cornmeal and salt. Add the melted ghee, zest, lemon juice, water and coconut milk; mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the brulee dishes and bake until the desserts are set, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 218 calories, 7.2g total fat, 86.6mg cholesterol, 89mg sodium, 54.7mg potassium, 36g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 34g sugar, 2.7g protein

Surprise!

Hmmm…things look a little different around here today.

I’ve been working on a major site redesign for some time; I wanted something a little more “professional” looking and more well-structured than the simple layout I’d had for the last five years.  (Five years?  Wow…)  It’s been an arduous and rather stressful process, but it’s finally done, and I’m quite happy with it.

If you pop over to the Home Page, there’s a slide show – click on the title of the slide in the lower left-hand corner and it will take you to the blog portion of the site and list the category of recipes the slide is about.  The neat thing about that is that they can be changed very easily, reflecting seasons, holidays and trends.

Beneath the slides are 3 “call-out” boxes, similar to what was on the “old site.  I’ve done away with the link to the photography category, basically since I haven’t really taken a photo of anything that isn’t food or my grandson in quite awhile.  I’ve replaced it with a box titled “Resumé” that takes you to the “About” page (and because it goes well with “Recipes” and “Rants” – I’m all about alliteration these days).  I’m working on rewriting that, too, while I’m at it.

Beneath the call-out boxes is a section listing my 3 latest posts, 4 latest tweets, and pages I decided I needed to keep, but didn’t feel belonged on the “main” menu at the top – my blogrolls (which is going to get, you guessed it, cleaned up and re-organized), the section of my old “SAD” recipes, and the disclaimer I think is silly but is apparently necessary.  And lastly, at the very bottom is the copyright notice and links to my Facebook page, Twitter feed, Google+ profile and RSS feed.

I think it’s nice.

The About and Contact pages haven’t changed, but the Blog feed has.  If you land there, you have to click through to read the entire post, and you’ll notice the sidebars have changed.  I’m still working on this, so things will probably change a little on the right side over the next few days.  The format of the posts haven’t changed much, other than listing the meta information on the left, rather than at the bottom, making the area for the actual post more narrow, necessitating slightly smaller photos.  (If you go back to some older posts, you’ll see that the photos are running over into the right-hand sidebar – yes, I’m working on that, too).

The biggest change is the “Recipe” drop-down on the main menu.  I’ve had several requests over the last few months for a recipe index to make it easier to find specific recipes on the site.  I can understand that; when I started the blog in February 2008, I had no idea it was going to grow the way it has (60,000 unique visitors and 250,000 pageviews each month) and the category and tag structure leaves something to be desired.  The new recipe drop-down on the menu is going to do a lot to resolve this issue.

However, there is a drawback:  it has to be built entirely by hand, and I could not begin to build it until I implemented the new theme.  Right now, there are only a few recipes under appetizers and the grass-fed beef section of main courses.  Please understand this is a work in progress, and recipes will be added on a regular basis – daily, if I can manage it.  In the meantime, the categories and tags for the recipes are still intact, and the search function has been improved so hopefully that will help you find the exact recipe you’re looking for.

There are a few bugs to work out – mainly how the comments sections displays the stars when you rate a recipe – but I have to say I’m really very pleased with how it’s all turned out.  Do you like it?  Hate it?  Let me know – I really want to hear what you think!

Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Well, I’m in a good mood today, despite the fact I’m rather congested and have a bit of a sore throat this morning:  My Veal Stew is featured in the DailyBuzz Food (the fine folks who happen to be my sponsor over there on the left) Top 9 List today.  W00t!

Okay, enough celebration.  Moving forward…

Last night, I posted this on the blog’s Facebook page:

I still have a TON of leftover turkey. Would anyone be interested in a turkey, sweet potato, kale and bacon hash recipe?

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and since someone asked me to “please hurry” and post it, well…here you go.

First thing, what I thought was a bag of kale in my refrigerator turned out to be a bag of mustard greens.  Oops.  Really, though, you can use any hearty, leafy green in this recipe so if you want to use kale, go for it.  The mustard greens did lend the hash a nice spiciness, which I enhanced with a pinch of red pepper flakes – this balanced the sweetness of the potatoes really well.  Of course, if you’re sensitive to nightshades, you can leave them out.

Also, if you still have leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, feel free to use them instead of the cubed and parboiled sweet potatoes called for in the recipe; this dish is all about convenience and utilizing leftovers.  It’s also pretty quick – if you’ve cooked the bacon ahead of time (I had some leftover in the fridge), this comes together in about half an hour, certainly no longer than 45 minutes.

Was this good?  Indeed, it was!  There’s really nothing better than a good, simple skillet supper, at least in my opinion.  And if you can use a bunch of holiday leftovers that are languishing in your fridge, well, then so much the better.  And it’s just so darn colorful and pretty – to say nothing of super nutritious.  A serving provides 28% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, 260% of vitamin A, 68% of vitamin C, 88% of niacin, 77% of vitamin B6, 32% of folate, 40% of vitamin B12, 356% of vitamin K, 57% of phosphorus, 22% of magnesium, 40% of zinc and 82% of selenium.

Wow.

One last thing:  you may notice that the photos included with this recipe are a little smaller than those previously posted.  There is a reason for that – I have a bit of a surprise for you tomorrow.

In the meantime, have a great Tuesday, y’all.  And make this hash.  It’s so good, and good for you.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash
Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash, detail
Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash, detail
Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound mustard or other hearty greens, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat (or other cooking fat)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 4 cups diced, cooked turkey
  • 4 ounces cooked bacon, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat and sauté the mustard greens until wilted. Season with the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir in the chicken stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  2. While the greens are cooking, Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and parboil the sweet potatoes for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander set in the sink and rinse with very cold water. Set aside.
  3. Once the mustard greens are done, remove them to a bowl and set aside. Increase the heat to medium high and add the ghee or olive oil to the pan and heat for a moment or two. Add the sweet potatoes and onion to the skillet
  4. and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Stir in the turkey, reserved mustard greens and bacon and cook, stirring occasionally and then pressing down on the mixture with a large spatula, until the potatoes are tender and
  5. the hash is beginning to brown and become crispy.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 522 calories, 28.9g total fat, 172.2mg cholesterol, 877.4mg sodium, 995.9mg potassium, 14.5g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 3.4g sugar, 51.7g protein

 

Creamy Pumpkin “Pasta”

And here we are, back at the grind.  I hope all of my U.S. readers had a lovely holiday – I know I did.  It was hard to come back to work this morning; we did a whole lot of nothing over the extended weekend, aside from cooking our Thanksgiving meal, which was delicious, and decorating the house for the season.  If you’re a long-time reader here, you know that entails the placing and positioning of a great many Santas and snowmen, as well as the decorating of two trees.  We had The G Man over to help, and it was so much fun – he’d never seen Meema’s house decorated for the holiday season (at least that he can remember) and was just enchanted with the “family” tree, especially the Hallmark ornaments that play music and light up.  Needless to say, most of the “cool” ornaments occupy the bottom third of the tree.

For our holiday decorating party, I made pizza for dinner (I’m attempting to perfect a gluten-free crust; it’s getting better), and had some sweet Italian sausage left over from that.  I also had a container of leftover roasted pumpkin pureé in the fridge, and began to wonder if there was anything I could do with those two particular ingredients besides making Pumpkin Sausage Soup.  A quick Google search gave me the answer – besides soup, pumpkin and Italian sausage are apparently quite good in pasta dishes.

Like Pumpkin Sausage Soup, there are a great many recipes on the internet for pumpkin-sausage pasta dishes, and no two are quite the same.  I perused a great many before deciding that since I wouldn’t be using “real” pasta, I might as well just make my own up.  So I did, and the results were very, very good.  This was surprisingly – to me, anyway – delicious.  Beloved and I both had seconds (which is rare for me) and we’ll polish off the leftovers for lunch today.

The amount of thyme may seem excessive, but don’t skimp on it – I just loved the fresh flavor it gave the dish; it complimented both the pumpkin and the sausage very well.  If you’d like to use a more conventional pasta in this dish, gluten-free or traditional, most recipes call for a large, sturdy shape, such as farfalle, rotini or penne.  And, as always, if  dairy doesn’t bother you, feel free to use heavy cream instead of coconut milk.  My non-pork-eating readers can use a turkey-based Italian sausage.

Creamy Pumpkin "Pasta"
Creamy Pumpkin “Pasta”
Creamy Pumpkin “Pasta”

Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds in the center. Add enough water to cover the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold both halves of the squash, and place the squash in the pan, cut side down. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or just until tender enough to be pierced with the tines of a fork. Take care not to overcook.
  3. While the squash is roasting, cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon, until cooked through and browned. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
  4. Drain the fat from the skillet and add the olive oil; reduce the heat to medium low and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and add the pumpkin, chicken stock, coconut milk, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the thyme to the skillet. Whisk until well-combined and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes .
  5. Once the squash is roasted, scrape out the flesh with a fork to make long strands, handling the hot squash with care. Add the squash and reserved sausage to the sauce in the pan and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sausage is heated through.
  6. Divide between 6 wide, shallow bowls and garnish with the remaining thyme and Parmesan cheese, if using. Serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 424 calories, 33g total fat, 70mg cholesterol, 1199.5mg sodium, 635.2mg potassium, 18.9g carbohydrates, 4.2g fiber, 7.1g sugar, 15g protein