Thursday, June 28, 2012

Halibut with Saffron and Smoked Paprika Aioli

I tried out a new fish this week with a lovely, delicate halibut fillet. I've only had halibut once before. When I was in Alaska, I had an amazing halibut fish and chips at Humpy's, which was the second-best fish and chips I've ever had.

This was my first time cooking halibut myself though, so I opted for a light sear in a hot pan. I'd also been imagining Spanish-inspired flavors to go with it, and whipped up an aioli with saffron and smoked paprika based off the basic 2-minute mayo technique. To continue with the Spanish/Mediterranean flavors, I made a side dish with roasted tomatoes and shallots and added olives and capers.

Halibut with Saffron and Smoked Paprika Aioli

  • 4 oz. filet of halibut
  • olive oil

    For the aioli:
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • pinch of saffron soaking in1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of sugar (optional)

    For the tomato and shallot side dish:   
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 oil-cured black Greek olives
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • olive oil
  • sherry vinegar
  • fresh basil

Make the aioli:

  1. Using the same method as the 2-minute mayo, place the yolk, garlic, sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, saffron and its soaking water, salt, pepper and oils in a wide-mouthed jar or measuring cup and puree it with a stick blender.
  2. Whisk in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. If the vinegar is too strong, you can add a pinch of sugar. At this point, I added a bit more smoked paprika too. 
  3. Refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Make the side dish:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Cut the tomato into quarters and then  cut those quarters into large chunks. Slice a large shallot into quarters. Toss together the tomatoes and shallots with a drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper, then place in a roasting pan lined with foil. 
  2. Roast for 15 minutes, then take them out and stir and roast for another 15 - 20 minutes or longer, until they are roasted to your liking. Remove to a bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Chop up the olives and capers, then add to the tomatoes and shallots.
  4. Add a drizzle of olive oil and sherry vinegar and basil. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

For the fish:

  1. Let the fillet come to room temperature. Heat a sturdy saute pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. One the oil has started to shimmer, sprinkle some salt and pepper on the skin side of the fish and immediately lay that side down in the oil. Salt and pepper the top of the fish. 
  2. Sear for 3 minutes, then flip and sear for 2 minutes on the other side, plate and serve with the roasted vegetables on the side and a dollop of aioli on top.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chorizo and Eggs Baked in Green Bell Pepper Rings

Facebook and Pinterest have been huge inspirations for recipe ideas. Last week, a friend posted a photo of someone cooking eggs in bell pepper rounds and I knew that I was going to have to give it a try.

True to form, I was immediately thinking of what I'd do differently. I've been really into spicy flavors the past few days, so I thought that I low-carb play on huevos rancheros might be cool. I put sauteed chorizo and onion in the rounds, cracked an egg into it and then garnished it with cheese and included a hefty amount of ranchero sauce on the side.

It was tasty, filling and spicy enough to satisfy that craving for heat.

Chorizo and Eggs Baked in Green Bell Pepper Rings


  • 1 chorizo sausage (2 oz), the uncooked kind also known as chorizo fresco or Mexican chorizo
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 bell pepper rings, about 3/4 inch high
  • 2 jumbo eggs
  • pepperjack cheese for garnish about 1/2 ounce 
  • avocado slices for garnish
    For the ranchero sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped serrano pepper
  • fire-roasted tomtoes - I used 1/2 of a 14.5 ounce can of Hunts Fire-Roasted tomatoes, including the juice
  • 1 canned chipotle in adobo, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons taco seasoning - I used my homemade chipotle taco seasoning shown below
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • water as needed


  1. Make the ranchero sauce by sauteeing the onion in olive oil over medium heat. Once the onion has softened and become translucent, not brown, add the garlic and chopped serrano and saute for 5 minutes- you may substitute jalapeno or some other hot chili pepper.
  2. Add the tomatoes and the juice and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook for 5 minutes, smashing down the tomatoes from time to time and stirring to keep it from burning. 
  3. Toss in the minced chipotle chili, adobo, chopped oregano, cumin, taco seasoning and granulated garlic. reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Check on it frequently to make sure that it isn't burning, and add water as needed if it seems as though it is evaporating too quickly. You want to keep it a sauce-like consistency, not a paste.
  4. To make the eggs, crumble the chorizo in the pan and cook over medium heat until starting to brown. Add the onion and saute. Push the chorizo and onion mixture into clumps and fit the bell pepper rings around them. If you have too much of the sausage and onion mixture, don't worry, you can do what I did and just eat that separately as you're plating your masterpiece. :)
  5. Crack an egg into each round and cover the pan and cook until the eggs have set to your satisfaction. I prefer fried eggs really cooked all the way through, but if you're a fan of eggs sunny-side up, you won't have to long to wait.
  6. Plate, garnish with a sprinkling of  pepperjack cheese, and serve with ranchero sauce and avocado slices on the side.

Homemade chipotle taco seasoning mix


  •  4 tablespoons chili powder 
  • 2 tablespoons cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt 
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder - I use a dried chipotle chili and grind into a powder in a spice grinder 
  • 1 teaspoon oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or regular garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme 
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno flakes 


  1. Mix together Store in an air-tight container - I use empty spice jars. 


  • To season meat for tacos or burritos, use 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of this per 1 pound of ground beef, turkey or tvp/other fake meat substitute. Then taste to test for seasoning You might want to add a bit more for more heat, though this is plenty hot as is. 
  •  I also use 1 tablespoon of this this in chili and in the 7-layer dip.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chocolate-Coconut Protein Snack

I've enrolled in a pretty intense fitness and training program, and I've been working out at least an hour - sometimes up to two and a half hours - five days a week. As a result, my meal structure has changed somewhat. I like a small post-workout recovery snack soon after I finish working out, though I'm usually not hungry enough for a whole meal. I've had protein shakes made from whey protein powder (I like Pure Protein brand best), but I also stumbled up this DIY chocolate protein bar.

This recipe is for a chocolate-coconut variety, though I believe I'll see if I can finagle one with chocolate and peanut butter next.

Chocolate-Coconut Protein Snack

Makes 3


  • 2 slightly rounded tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of chocolate whey protein powder, (I like the Pure Protein brand because they have fewer carbs in it), 
  • 2 teaspoons of regular unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut. 
  • 1 packet Stevia or Splenda (optional)


  1. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave for about 15 second, then add all the remaining ingredients and stir well. 
  2. Shape it either by rolling it into a cylinder in plastic wrap or pouring into silicone baking cups. I use regular muffin sized silicone baking cups, which gave me three portions about the size of  a normal Reese's peanut butter cup, though a bit taller.
  3. Refrigerate or freeze. A word of warning: if you freeze it, you WILL need to let it thaw out before you eat it, lest you crack a tooth. Coconut oil softens/melts at room temp though, so do keep it cool.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

The magic ingredient in the crust is cauliflower.

With the addition of an egg and some goat cheese, the crust held together nicely; I was even able to hold a slice in my hand and not have it disintegrate, though it was a bit floppy near the tip. It held together even better when I ate a slice cold the next morning.

This crust is more granular and crumbly than regular pizza because, without additives like xanthan gum or guar gum, there really is no exact equivalent to the structure you get with the gluten in flour. As a result, the mouth-feel is much lighter than a dough made from flour. A flour-based crust, even a thin one, has a certain weightiness to it.

To look at it, though, you'd certainly think that there was some flour in the crust.

This was delicious, and a nice low-carb indulgence, and, as you can see from the photos, totally recognizable as pizza.

I used a sauce seasoned with a lot of garlic, basil, oregano and anchovies, topped it with marinated artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, 3 kinds of olives (Kalamata, oil-cured black and oil-cured green olives), feta, an assortment of cheeses (mozzarella, provolone, fontina, asiago, cheddar, romano and parmesan) and garnished it with fresh basil.

Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust


  • 1 head cauliflower1-1/2 ounce goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons parmesan
  • extra parm, about 2 more tablespoons


1.  Put the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse it until it is really finely chopped, about the sixe of rice grains. I had to do it in 2 batches. Then, put the riced cauliflower in a microwave-proof 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup. I had almost 4 cups exactly of the cauliflower (though not packed down). Nuke it for 6 minutes in the microwave, taking it out to stir once halfway through. Put it in a fine-mesh strainer, and push it down with the back of a ladle to help squeeze out the moisture.

 *Here's one thing I forgot to do this time that I did last time - once the cauliflower cools down, put it in a kitchen towel, twist it into a ball and really squeeze out more of the moisture. This step helps a lot getting out all the excess moisture. Cauliflower holds a lot of water. 

2. Once the cauliflower has drained, dump the squeezed cauliflower into a large bowl, and break up the clumps with a fork. Added the crumbled goat cheese and egg along with the granulated garlic, parm, basil, and oregano, and mix it up really well

*This time I forgot to add almond meal, which I did last time and I really think it improves the texture and helps bind it better. I'd guess about 1/4 cup of almond meal. 

 3. Once it forms a pretty nice clump, mind you, it won't be nearly as cohesive as a ball of dough, line a cookie sheet or pizza pan with a sheet of parchment paper. This is CRITICAL. I didn't do it the last time and the bottom of the crust burned and stuck to the pan. Place the mixture on the center of the pan and gently pat it out, flattening it and shaping it the way you want it. It's going to be kind of sticky, but that's ok. Then sprinkle a tiny bit more parm on top, then bake it in a 400 F oven for 35 minutes.

* Next time, I think I'll go lower and slower (300 F and an hour or more) with it to dry it out and firm it up a bit more, because it was just a tiny bit too moist.

 Then top it with your sauce and toppings and put it in a 450 F oven for 5 - 7 minutes, depending on how browned you want your cheese.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Two Kinds of Fish Done One Way

I am a huge fan of fish. I especially love the really fishy-tasting fishes like the oilier cold-water fish - salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and swordfish. Because they're a more robust, oily fish than some of the more delicate white-fleshed fish, these fish can take some searing heat and not dry out as quickly.

For this reason, one of my favorite preparations for these fish is a good sear in a wicked hot pan in a little bit of olive oil, 3 - 4 minutes on the skin side (if it's a fillet), even if the skin has been removed, start with that side, to sear off some of the residual fat left clinging to the flesh. Then flip it over one time, and sear for another 3 - 4 minutes on the other side, and then plate and serve immediately.

For a thinner fillet, opt for the lower time; a thicker fillet or steak, like around 1 inch thick, will need a bit more time, but be careful, because fish can go from perfectly moist and delicately soft to dried out rather quickly.

The salmon, in the picture above, seared for 3 minutes on the first side and about 2-3/4 minutes on the second side; the swordfish, pictured below, went for 4 minutes on both sides, as it was a little more than 1 inch thick.

I didn't marinate the fillets, and I wasn't in the mood for a complicated sauce, so instead, I made a mustard-dill compound butter by mashing together 2 tablespoons salted butter, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill. I formed it into a log, rolled it up in plastic wrap, securing the ends with twist ties, and then popped it in the refrigerator to chill. Then as soon as the fish was plated, I sliced it into generous pats and plopped it right on the fish.

See how it melts into a luscious sauce? So simple, but so much flavor.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mango, Avocado and Jicama Salad

Here is an old favorite which I'll be making again as soon as I add sweet fruits back to my diet. The sprightly (yes, I said sprightly, can you dig it?) flavors of this salad dance on the tongue.

Seriously, that is all that I can descriptively say about this dish. Good God, is it tasty! With each successive bite, my Mmm-mmm-MMMMMMs got progressively louder and more impassioned.

Everyone knows that the mango's distinctive sweetness pairs well with the luscious, creamy and fatty mildness of the avocado, but tossing in julienned strips of jicama* adds that crunchy dimension that makes this an especially satisfying salad. The lime juice and agave nectar give the dressing a bright sweet-tartness which fades to a slight after-burn from the cayenne.

In short, it is FABULOUS.

Jicama, Mango and Avocado Salad with Lime-Agave Dressing

Serves two

  • 1 jicama
  • 2 mangoes
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime
  • 1 T agave nectar - non-vegans may use honey, although that will change the flavor
  • 1 T flax seed oil (or quality extra-virgin olive oil)
  • pinch cayenne
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cilantro for garnish

  1. Make the dressing by juicing the lime, and then whisking it with the agave nectar, flax seed oil, cayenne, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust the seasoning.

  2. Pour into a large bowl.

  3. Peel the jicama and slice into thin strips. Place in the bowl with the dressing and toss with a fork to coat.

  4. Cut the mango flesh into cubes and add to the bowl.

  5. Cut the avocado flesh into cubes and add to the bowl, tossing well to mix.

  6. Pour into two bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro and eat.

  • I prefer the lighter flavor of agave nectar to honey now. Honey tastes almost cloyingly sweet to me since I have stopped using it.

  • See my thoughts on jicama here.

  • Never cut a mango before and are not sure how to do it? The best way to learn is to see someone else cutting it, and since I neglected to take step-by-step pictures (I have no tripod anyway), and because I am feeling lazy today, I will link you to an excellent demonstration: How to cut a mango

  • Need to know how to cut an avocado? Check it out here:

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