Asparagus and Garlic Scape Quiche

See?  Told you there’d still be recipes.  Told you many of them would still be paleo (I’m off dairy for a bit).  And, frankly, I haven’t made a quiche with a crust in years – it’s just such a pain in the ass.

At any rate, I’d bought asparagus so we could grill it, wrapped in bacon, for our holiday cookout this week, and then went and forgot all about it.  Derp.  My fridge also runneth over with garlic scapes from the garden.

(Oh, the garden!  We haven’t taken part in a CSA in the last 3 or so years because we get so little from them that Beloved isn’t growing in the now 16 separate vegetable gardens in our back, side and front yards.  We barely even go to the farmers market any more – the only reason I bought asparagus is because we’ve already harvested every bit we possibly could of ours.)

We ate this for brunch on the morning of the 4th alongside some fresh watermelon left over from Monday’s cookout and it was really, really good.  The asparagus and scapes were roasted with a large shallot, and I threw the bacon in for good measure.

I had the suggested serving size.  Beloved ate half of the whole damn thing.

So there you go.

I’ll be back with later this week with current photos of – drumroll – The G Man!  You won’t believe how much he’s grown.

Roasted Asparagus and Garlic Scape Quiche

Notes:  You can certainly make this in a crust if you like.  If you don’t have a problem with dairy, feel free to use half and half in place of the coconut milk.  If you don’t like coconut, you can use another non-dairy milk substitute, but I’d probably reduce the amount to 1 cup and add another egg.

Serves: 6

1 pound pencil-thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup garlic scapes, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 thick slices bacon
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Toss the asparagus, scapes and shallot in the olive oil and spread on a shallow, narrow-rimmed baking sheet.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft with a few brown spots.

While the vegetables are roasting, chop the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and cook over medium-low heat until all the fat is rendered out and the bacon is crisp.  Remove the bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Whisk the eggs and coconut milk together. Spread the roasted vegetables in a deep dish pie plate and sprinkle the bacon evenly over top. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and bacon.

Reduce the oven heat to 350 F and bake the quiche for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place the quiche on a cooling rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition (per serving): 317 calories, 23.7g total fat, 13.9g saturated fat, 6.5g   monounsaturated fat, 1.7g polyunsaturated fat, 132.8mg cholesterol, 249.2mg sodium, 610.6mg potassium, 18.3g carbohydrates, 3.7g fiber, 6.8g sugar, 14.6g net carbohydrates, 11.5g protein.

 

Homemade Tomato Paste

I am very tired; we did not stop all weekend.

It’s a sad thing when you have to come to work to get some rest.

We got two bushels of roma tomatoes from the CSA this week, then picked up five dozen ears of sweet corn and half a peck of peaches from the farmer’s market.  We froze about half of the corn and canned the other half; the peaches are still sitting on the counter.  The bulk of the weekend was spent on the tomatoes – all 106 pounds of them.

Yes, 106 pounds.

We now have 62 pints of tomato sauce, 21 pints of barbecue sauce and 20 half-pints of sweet corn in the basement (along with pickles, chicken stock, beef stock, peach salsa, lard, tallow and green beans).  Either tonight or tomorrow night, I’m going to add peach butter to that – however much 1/2 peck will make.

I’d have more tomato sauce, but I decided to turn some of it into tomato paste – which really couldn’t be easier to do, even if it is a little time-consuming.  You just bake it.

Yup, that’s all.  Of course, it made it a little easier that I already had five gallons of tomato sauce sitting on my stove, but if you don’t mind cooking down about 10 pounds of tomatoes – preferably roma or paste tomatoes – and running them through a food mill, you will have approximately the right amount of sauce for this recipe.  If you want to take the really easy route, 7 cans of commercial tomato sauce should do it.

If you’re wondering why I went to the trouble of making my own tomato paste instead of just buying it…well, I have a couple of reasons (beyond the fact I’m something of a nutjob).   First, it tastes far superior to anything you can buy at a grocery store.  Second, I know exactly what’s in it.  But mostly, I can control the portions.

So many recipes just call for a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, and the smallest can you can buy is 6 ounces.  Yes, I know you can get it in squeeze tubes now, but I’ve only ever found that once, at a store that is a gajillion miles from our house.   After I made each of the three batches of paste over the weekend, I portioned it into ice trays, froze it, then popped the cubes into a ziplock freezer bag.  Each cube is about 1 ounce, or 2 tablespoons, perfect for just about any recipe calling for a small amount of tomato paste.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Homemade Tomato Paste
Homemade Tomato Paste
Homemade Tomato Paste

[i]Makes about 2 cups[/i]
Ingredients
  • 12 cups tomato puree
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven 300 F.
  2. Spread 2 tablespoons olive oil on three rimmed baking sheets. Pour 4 cups of tomato puree into each pan.
  3. Bake, using a spatula to turn the puree over on itself occasionally, until most of the water evaporates and the surface darkens, about 3 hours. Combine the tomato paste onto one baking sheet; reduce heat to 200 F and cook until thick and brick colored, about 20 minutes.
  4. Cool and divide into two ice trays; freeze. Store in the freezer in a zip lock plastic bag.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 105 calories, 7.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 344.8mg sodium, 187.2mg potassium, 9.9g carbohydrates, 1.3g fiber, 0g sugar, 1.5g protein

 

Crispy Fried Chicken Livers

Warning:  This recipe could be dangerous to your health.

Bet you never thought you’d see that here, did you?

No, it’s not the chicken livers; if you’ve been hanging around here any length of time at all, you know I love me some variety meats (I may be making another tongue this weekend, or maybe a beef heart – aren’t you excited?).  And the chicken livers I used to make this dish were just about as fresh as they could be – they were residing in their pastured owners a mere 6 hours earlier.

Our poultry farmer raises not only laying hens, but broilers as well – you can drive up to his front door any afternoon and see the laying hens running amok around the barnyard (and lately, the apple trees), and the broilers in their covered pens in whichever field he has them that day.  If you’re lucky, there will be turkeys, too, and you can go out and say howdy to Thanksgiving dinner, as well.

He processes six times a summer; while they keep their laying hens year-round, they only raise the broilers in the summer, since they don’t do so well in cold weather – they just won’t grow, since all of their energy is used to keep themselves warm.  At any rate, we get six chickens each time they process and cozy them up in the freezer with our pork, beef, goat and venison, if we’re lucky enough to be gifted a deer (and have I mentioned I’m trying to source a llama?).  We often order the feet from the birds for our homemade chicken stock, and we’ll take livers if we can get them, too.

We got them yesterday, and I made this. Which is why I’ve added a warning to go along with it.

It seems that because chicken livers have so much moisture they cause the fat in your pan to splatter and splash – sometimes very violently.  And do I have a splatter screen?  I do not.

I do however, have a lot of burn ointment.

It was very much worth it, though, because these were absolutely wonderful.  I wanted seconds, which is rare for me, and I practically had to fight not only Beloved, but The Young One as well, to get some – you should have seen the kid wolf these things down.  Chicken livers have a much, much milder flavor than beef liver, and these were just so fresh and tender it was amazing.  I served them with homemade barbecue sauce, but next time I think I’ll do a nice (dairy free) pan gravy.

Yum, yum.

Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pound chicken livers, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups tallow or other fat suitable for frying
Instructions
  1. Whisk the eggs, coconut milk and water together in a large mixing bowl. Drop the livers in the egg/milk mixture; cover loosely and allow to sit for about half an hour.
  2. In a large, shallow dish, stir together the tapioca flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Drain the egg/milk mixture from the chicken livers, and dredge them in the seasoned tapioca flour.
  3. Heat the tallow in a heavy skillet – preferably cast iron – over high heat until it reaches 350 F. Reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Fry the chicken livers, in batches if necessary, for 6 to 7 minutes, carefully turning once halfway through – cover the skillet with a splatter screen, because the fat will splash and splatter.
  5. Remove the livers to paper towels and drain briefly. Serve with barbecue sauce, hot sauce or salsa if desired.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 452 calories, 33.4g total fat, 442.4mg cholesterol, 1269.4mg sodium, 307.2mg potassium, 16.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 20.4g protein

 

Yellow Curry Meatballs and Kale

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.

Wow.

The response to yesterday’s post has me…wowed.  🙂  I will respond to each and every comment a bit later today, but let me just say thank you.  So very much.  If nothing else, it is encouraging that I’m not alone in my experiences and frustration.  One commenter suggested some sort of repository of knowledge here, and I’m inclined to agree; again, I’ll respond to all of the comments here in a bit, but if I were to do such a thing, what form should it take?  A bulletin board?  A wiki?  Merely a better-organized blog?

I appreciate any and all suggestions.

But for today, I have another Whole30 recipe (see?  I told you they weren’t going to go away).

I think I’ve spoken a time or three about my love of Asian cuisine, particularly Thai.  If I were going to just leap off the wagon, it would be face first into a huge plate of pad kee mao, followed by sticky rice with mangoes.  Unfortunately (or maybe not), there aren’t any good Thai restaurants anywhere near us and while I could make it myself, bringing rice noodles into our house is rather dangerous for me, so I simply don’t do it.

Thai curries, however, are a completely different story.  They don’t really require rice, something else I try not to bring into the house, are low in sugar and huge in the flavor department, as well as being replete with healthy fat from the coconut milk.  (Note:  If I never ate pizza or ice cream again I wouldn’t care; rice and rice noodles are huge binge foods for me, so I try to stay away from them.  I know – I’m weird.)

While most curry recipes call for small amounts of sugar, it really won’t hurt the dish to leave it out, and without the sugar and rice, Thai curries are pretty Whole30 compliant, if you’re careful about the curry paste and chicken stock.  I buy my curry pastes at a tiny little Asian market here in Podunk – they contain nothing but chilies and spices, and I haven’t used a commercial stock, chicken or beef, in years.

This recipe combines yellow curry with ground pork and Thai basil we’re growing in our herb garden this year, as well as kale from our CSA share.  Served as a soup, it is delicious, nutritious and filling.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but this ranks high on the “comfort food” scale with me.

Note:  You can use any type of curry paste you like – yellow, red or green; yellow is just what I had on hand.  If you don’t eat pork, ground turkey would work well too.

Yellow Curry Meatballs and Kale
Yellow Curry Meatballs and Kale
Yellow Curry Meatballs and Kale
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon lard or ghee
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Thai basil, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated
  • Curry
  • 1 tablespoon lard or ghee
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry paste, or to taste
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 can (15 oz) coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 6 cups kale, stems removed and chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Melt the lard or butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the onion, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Using your hands, gently mix the ground pork, onion/garlic mixture, salt, pepper, Thai basil, and ginger in a large bowl until well-blended. Form into 2-ounce meatballs and place on a shallow, foil-lined baking dish; bake the meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes, or just until cooked through. Place the meatballs on a paper towel-lined plate and
  4. set aside.
  5. Melt the lard in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat and cook the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and yellow curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock and coconut milk until well-blended, then stir in the fish sauce.
  6. Add the kale and meatballs to the sauce in the skillet, increase the heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 15 or 20 minutes, or until the kale is tender.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 499 calories, 40.4g total fat, 86.5mg cholesterol, 1006.6mg sodium, 790.2mg potassium, 11.4g carbohydrates, 1.6g fiber, 2.1g sugar, 24.1g protein

 

Squash Noodles

Last. Day.

Omigod.

Of course, today’s motivational email discusses how you should continue with the diet beyond the 30 days if you’re still experiencing cravings/haven’t seen the results you want, but I’ll address that later – perhaps tomorrow, but more likely next week.  Let’s just suffice to say that I am very proud of myself for making it the entire 30 days.

Yay, me.

As a final meal tonight, we’re having TC, my Young Diabetic Friend, over for dinner.  He and Beloved have been hoarding a couple of 6-week dry-aged grass-fed ribeye steaks – I have a beautiful bison filet with my name on it – and we’re grilling them up tonight.  I’ll make us a nice green salad and perhaps roast some okra, since it’s one of TC’s all-time favorite dishes.  We’ll have a good time, and they can help me do something with this quart of blackberries in the fridge and the rest of the half-peck of peaches that really must be used now.  I also have to bake a cake and make some gum-paste flowers for a cake I’m decorating for a little girl’s birthday, so it’s going to be a busy – but pleasant – evening.

For my last recipe of the Whole30, I’ve got something pretty darn simple.  I haven’t had pasta in over two years, but I’ve never been much of a pasta eater (I do like rice noodles in Asian dishes).  Sometimes, though, nothing beats a plate of warm, comforting spaghetti…which, when you think about it, is really more about the sauce than the noodles, anyway.

Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta, but it has its drawbacks:  it can be a little on the sweet side (which I don’t really care for when it comes to a pasta dish), and when it’s out of season, it can be pretty darn expensive – in our local grocery store, winter squashes can run upwards of $2.99/lb., and most of them don’t weigh less than 3 pounds.  That’s a lot of money for a simple spaghetti dinner.

Summer squash is a great alternative, especially in the summer months when it’s so abundant and just dirt cheap.  It is also every bit as simple to prepare as a pasta substitute as spaghetti squash.  All you need is this:

Julienne Peeler
A Julienne Peeler

Photo courtesy of Oh, She Glows

Yes, that would be a julienne peeler, and it works on just about any vegetable, not just squash (just use caution when peeling particularly hard vegetables like sweet potatoes, or the peeler may slip and you’ll end up peeling more than the food…ouch).  You can pick them up just about anywhere that sells kitchen supplies; we got ours at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and you can also purchase them from Amazon.  They’re not at all expensive, and they’re dead simple to use – it’s just a vegetable peeler with teeth.

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a technique or method – when I made this, I topped it with some of Alex’s excellent Sausage and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce that I had stashed away in the freezer, but I imagine it would be good with just about any kind of pasta sauce.

Note:  Yes, the recipe calls for an entire tablespoon of salt, then more salt at the end.  Not to worry; the salt used at the beginning of the recipe helps draw the moisture out of the squash (zucchini, in particular, holds a lot of water), and will be rinsed away.

Squash Noodles
Squash Noodles
Squash Noodles
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3 large summer squashes, yellow or green
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Using a julienne peeler, peel the squashes, including the skins, all the way down to the seeds. Discard the core.
  2. Place the strings of squash in a large bowl and toss with the tablespoon of salt; set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Using a fine-mesh sieve, drain the liquid from the squash and rinse to remove the salt. Turn the squash noodles onto paper towels and lightly squeeze dry.
  4. Melt the ghee in a skillet or sauté pan large enough to hold the squash noodles over medium heat; lightly cook the garlic for about a minute. Add the noodles and sauté, tossing and turning constantly, until the squash is heated through, about 2 or 3 minutes. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide between two plates and top with your favorite pasta sauce.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 88 calories, 4.4g total fat, 10.2mg cholesterol, 879.3mg sodium, 853.6mg potassium, 11.3g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 7.1g sugar, 4g protein.