Tuna Casserole

You have spoken, and today’s recipe is Tuna Casserole.

An incredibly delicious, grain and casein-free tuna casserole (you can make it completely dairy free by subbing the ghee with coconut oil).

The Young One wouldn’t touch it, but that didn’t surprise me – he won’t eat traditional tuna noodle casserole, either, so he got a bacon and cheese omelet.  Beloved and I ate it, though, and we LOVED it.  Better yet, there were plenty of leftovers the next day for lunch, and this reheats very, very well.

The casserole could easily be modified in lots of ways – use steamed or roasted spaghetti squash instead of the grated cauliflower, and just about any combination of vegetables you like.  If you’re okay with dairy, you can use whole milk instead of the combination of water and coconut and almond milks and by all means, throw in a cup of shredded cheddar cheese, although the casserole is just fine without it.  It would also be quite good with leftover chicken or turkey in place of the tuna.

Note:  I thickened the sauce with a combination of tapioca and potato flour and I think that works much better for gravies and white sauce than tapioca flour alone.  If you’re avoiding white potatoes all together, just use 1/4 cup of tapioca flour; it should still be fine.

Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large celery stalk diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups grated cauliflower
  • 2 six-ounce cans water-packed tuna, drained
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon potato flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon ghee, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the tablespoon melted ghee with the almond flour in a small bowl until the mixture is crumbly and set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons ghee in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat and cook the mushrooms until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender-crisp, another 5 minutes. Stir in the tuna and cauliflower; remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons ghee in a large saucepan over medium-heat. Stir in the tapioca and potato flours, creating a roux, and cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the water, coconut milk and almond milk; increase the heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the sauce evenly over the tuna/vegetable mixture in the skillet; sprinkle the almond flour crumble over the surface. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the casserole is browned and bubbly.
  5. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 453 calories, 35g total fat, 59.4mg cholesterol, 791.7mg sodium, 959.9mg potassium, 19.5g carbohydrates, 4.9g fiber, 5g sugar, 18.9g protein

Life

It’s what happens when you’re making other plans, according to John Lennon.

Several things have conspired to delay my planned post on the cost, sustainability and practicality of a Real Food Diet – now The Official Designation For How I Eat – so I’m thinking Friday (tomorrow you get Tuna Casserole.  Or Rabbit in Mustard Sauce.  I’m not sure yet, and am open to any and all suggestions).

Things Conspiring Against Me:

Menopausal Brain Fuzz.  *sigh*

I am transitioning out of a position in our company that I have held for 8 years.  Yes, you can congratulate me – I never enjoyed it, and was never very good at it.  The person taking over the job is FAR more suited to it than I could ever be.  I could not be happier about this.

I am still trying to decide if I want to remain an “official” employee in our company and take over a new product/service we are offering, or if I want to contract myself for the job so I can pursue other side jobs, as well.  There are a lot of pros and cons to both sides, and a lot of things to take into consideration, so we’ll see.

I am trying to decide if I want to be killed by my husband spend $195 for a 4-week, online “photography for food bloggers” course by the Perfect Picture School of Photography.  It’s tempting…very, very tempting.

I am in the process of implementing a new feature here that will be quite beneficial for my readers.  Trust me, you’ll be the first to know when it is finished.

This college thing with The Young One.  All of the other kids spared us this by either not attending college, taking care of themselves or having another parent handle it all.  I had no idea how much it would consume not only my son, who is stressed to the max by his senior year in high school, but me as well.

Beloved is planning not one, not two, not three, but FOUR raised bed gardens in our back yard – he wants to move away from a CSA for the 2014 season (we’ve already committed ourselves this year).  Construction has begun, and my Home Depot credit card is already sending up little tendrils of smoke.

I know…my life is so exciting, isn’t it? I bet all you young’uns out there just can’t wait for middle age.

Anyhoo, that’s why I have no post today about the cost, sustainability and practicality of a Real Food Diet.  I’m still unsure about tomorrow’s recipe, so let me know what you’d like to see:  Tuna Casserole, or Rabbit in Mustard Sauce?

See you tomorrow!

Cauliflower and Leek Gratin

Due to being a big, fat ding-a-ling I could not post the rabbit recipe I’d been planning for today, so I had to go through unpublished recipes and see what I had that I could share with you.  One of them is the recipe for Chairman Mao’s Braised Red Pork, which was incredibly delicious, but it’s also a little involved; after yesterday’s molé I thought perhaps I should keep today’s recipe a bit more simple.

Then I found this and immediately wondered why I hadn’t posted it when I cooked it, some months ago.  I remember it well, and it was really pretty good (it had to have been, or I wouldn’t have taken a photo of it).  It’s not in my index of cookbook recipes, so that means I must have just forgotten about it.

So, you get it now.

Most gratin recipes include cheese so if you want to add it, a good Gruyere would be nice.  However, it’s quite tasty without the cheese – still rich and comforting – and the almond flour “crumble” gives it the nice brown topping any good gratin needs.

It’s also Whole30 and vegetarian.

Cauliflower and Leek Gratin

Cauliflower and Leek Gratin
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only,sliced into 1/4-
  • inch pieces
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a shallow 2-quart casserole. In a small bowl, combine the almond flour with the 1 tablespoon of melted ghee until the mixture is ”crumbly”; set aside.
  2. Cook the cauliflower in 3 quarts boiling salted water until slightly tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water; transfer to the casserole dish and set aside.
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons ghee in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks, onion, red-pepper flakes, and thyme; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tapioca flour until well combined. Slowly add the coconut milk and water, stirring constantly. Increase heat and bring almost to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour leek mixture evenly over the cauliflower. Sprinkle with the almond flour and bake until bubbly and the cauliflower is tender, about 25 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 173 calories, 12.7g total fat, 15.3mg cholesterol, 40.4mg sodium, 438.2mg potassium, 13.6g carbohydrates, 3.2g fiber, 3.2g sugar, 2.9g protein

Mole Baked Eggs

Oh, I’m running late this morning – it is very much Monday here today.  And that’s just about all I have to say about that.

However, the recipe I have for you today is really very good.  I stole the idea from the chocolate episode of “Brunch with Bobby Flay” where every dish he made had chocolate in it in one form or another.  Since most people associate molé with chocolate, he made a molé sauce and used it as a base for baked eggs, then topped some sort of poblano rice mixture with it.

This is my go-to recipe for molé; it has no chocolate in it – there are several different kinds of molé and most of them don’t – nor is it spicy.  It is rich with a robust and complex flavor; we just love it.  It’s the basis for this dish, and while it’s not hard to make, it is kind of time-consuming, but don’t let that deter you.

The molé is Whole30 compliant, so instead of a regular rice dish I decided to serve this over a grated cauliflower “faux” rice, which I spiked with lime juice and cilantro.  Light and bright, it was the perfect compliment to the richness of the eggs and molé.  Some diced tomato and red onion, along with some freshly-made guacamole, made this a superb and memorable Sunday brunch.

Thank you for the idea, Bobby.  It’s a winner.

Mole Baked Eggs

Mole Baked Eggs
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 large eggs
  • Mole Sauce:
  • 3 large dried Ancho chiles
  • hot water to cover
  • 2 tablespoons lard or other cooking fat, divided
  • 8 raw, unskinned almonds
  • 1/2 large very ripe plantain
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and roasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • Lime Cilantro “Rice”:
  • 1 tablespoon lard or other cooking fat
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups grated cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and lightly toast the chilies, turning them from time to time so they do not burn. While they are still pliable, slit them open and remove the stem, seeds and veins.
  3. Cover them with hot water and let them soak for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. In the same skillet, toast the clove of garlic until golden brown, taking care not to burn it. Halve it, removing any green that may be in the center. Set aside.
  5. Add 1 tablespoons of the lard to the skillet and fry the almonds until they are well browned, stirring frequently so they do not burn. Crush them slightly and set aside. Skin the plantain, slice it lengthwise and fry it until golden on both sides.
  6. Place the plantains, almonds and broiled tomatoes into a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth puree; add a little water if necessary. Scrape the puree into a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Without washing the mixer or food processor, blend the chilies with 1/2 cup of the water used to soak them, the spices and garlic to a smooth puree. Heat the other tablespoon of lard in the skillet and cook the chili puree on high heat about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the tomato/plantain mixture and then return to the heat, cooking for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring all the time so it does not stick (be careful, it can spatter about some).
  8. Stir the cup of the beef broth gradually into the sauce and continue cooking it for a minute or so, then strain through a coarse seive. Return the sauce to the skille over low heat and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and salting to taste.
  9. While the mole is finishing, heat the tablespoon of lard in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook the onion until soft and nearly translucent, about 5 or 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute more.
  10. Stir in the grated cauliflower and water; cover and cook until the cauliflower is still firm, but no longer raw, 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper; cover and keep warm.
  11. Crack the eggs into the mole and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft. Divide the cauliflower between 6 plates; top each with an egg and mole sauce. Serve with diced tomato, red onion and guacamole, if desired.
  12. Nutrition (per serving): 227 calories, 13.2g total fat, 192.1mg cholesterol, 187mg sodium, 855.7mg potassium, 19.2g carbohydrates, 5.3g fiber, 6.2g sugar, 11.1g protein

Breakfast Crepes

It seems I missed an important date this week:  as of Wednesday (February 20), I’ve been blogging for five years.

Five. Years.

A lot has changed since 2008; when I began, I posted pictures of my dog and related amusing stories about my husband and kids – recipes were pretty much secondary to the blog, although I’ve included them from the very beginning, mostly for my grown children, who are always asking for this recipe or that.

Look at what I have today.  In the beginning, my only readers were my friends, family and small-but-loyal group of women of a certain age (many of whom are still readers).  Today, I average over 65,000 unique visitors and nearly 300,000 page views a month.  Which I guess says a lot about the popularity of the way we eat, if nothing else.

But on to today’s recipe, which in no way, shape, form or fashion could be construed as “diet food.”  It’s high in calories, fat and carbs and is fancy enough to be considered a strictly “special occasion” dish.  And boy, is it gooooooood.

I decided recently to try my hand at crepes made with tapioca flour.  They came out okay, but because of the nature of tapioca, the crepes were kind of…rubbery.  I made them again a few days later, this time using a combination of tapioca, rice and potato flours and they were much, much better – still not quite as tender as a conventional crepe, but not nearly as tough and chewy as the ones made with tapioca flour alone.  They were certainly good enough to make this dish, which is simply spectacular, both in taste and presentation.

Now, because of the rice flour, these are not grain-free, and are just barely inside the “paleo” parameters, depending on your definition (if you don’t consider rice/potatoes paleo, then I guess they’re not; if you consider white rice/potatoes in moderation paleo, then they are).  I am certainly not going to quibble over it, because whether you consider the crepes “paleo” or not, they’re not something that is meant to be eaten on a daily, or even regular, basis – this is strictly an occasional thing.  Think a Mother’s Day or anniversary brunch, if you will.

Please, also note that unless you want to drown your crepes in Hollandaise, you probably won’t use all of the sauce, or even half of it, so the calorie and fat content of the nutritional information is probably overstated by quite a bit.

Breakfast Crepes

Breakfast Crepes
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • Crepes
  • 3/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
  • 4 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Eggs
  • 10 large eggs, well beaten
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup asparagus spears, trimmed, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Hollandaise Sauce
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the tapioca, sweet rice and potato flours with the salt. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk and water. Add the dry mixture to the wet in 3 additions, whisking until smooth after each addition. The batter should be thin; add a little water if necessary to thin it out.
  2. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or other non-stick pan over medium heat and lightly grease with butter. Ladle a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet, spreading it as thinly as possible as quickly as possible. Cook until the crepe becomes dry, about 45 seconds, then carefully flip and cook for another 15 seconds or so. Transfer to a plate and cover with a slightly damp towel. Repeat until all of the batter has been used; there should be 10 crepes. Keep covered with the damp towel and set aside.
  3. Melt the stick of butter in the top of a stainless steel double boiler set over, not in, simmering (not boiling) water. Add the egg yolks and cold water; beat with a wire whisk until fluffy and lemon colored.
  4. Add the melted butter, lemon juice, salt, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. [i]Do not boil[/i]. Whisk until the sauce thickens and keep warm over very low heat while scrambling the eggs, whisking frequently and adding a little hot water if the sauce thickens too much.
  5. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook the onion and bell pepper until soft and the onion is beginning to turn golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the asparagus, salt and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the beaten eggs. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggs are softly scrambled.
  6. Place 2 crepes on a plate and fill with some of the scrambled egg and vegetable mixture; roll up and place seam-side down. Top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Hollandaise sauce. Repeat with the remaining crepes and egg and vegetable mixture, topping each with the sauce, and serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 791 calories, 58.8g total fat, 760.1mg cholesterol, 865.8mg sodium, 526.6mg potassium, 45.3g carbohydrates, 3.3g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 21.9g protein