OVEN ROASTED ASPARAGUS (Part of A Farmers Market Lunch)

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. I was so thrilled to find a big, fresh brunch at our local farmers market, which is held every Saturday from 9AM to noon in the beautiful Parque de Los Enamorados.

This beautiful asparagus was grown by Debbie of Chinaberry Farm. She also grew these hydroponic lettuces.

They are the best lettuces I have ever had. I also love that they look like a bouquet. I overheard a woman at the market say that she would like to have one of these lettuces as a bridal bouquet. I thought that was a great idea.

Debbie has these lettuces every Saturday along with a variety of seasonal vegetables. Yesterday, her San Marzano tomatoes and sweet Italian basil caught my eye, so I bought those too. These ultra fresh ingredients inspired me to make this simple salad. When I have such great produce, I keep things simple in order to let the ingredients shine.

I just hand tore the lettuce and basil. Sliced the San Marzano tomatoes and tossed the salad up with an olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing. The dressing is easy to put together. Take a mason jar and add 1/2 cup olive oil and 3 table spoons of red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can add in your favorite herbs and spices, such as, chili flakes, dried oregano, thyme, garlic powder and onion powder. Once all the ingredients are in the mason jar, close it tightly with its lid and shake vigorously.

After I left Debbie’s booth, I walked around and saw a lady, AnDy VZ (on Facebook), selling farm fresh eggs from her own chickens. I just had to buy some of those. I thought to myself, that I could make a pistachio pesto omelette stuffed with herb goat cheese that I have at home. The pistachio pesto came to mind because I had the fresh sweet Italian basil from Debbie and I had a bag of pistachios in my pantry. Most of my recipe ideas come from the ingredients I have on hand.

The omelette would go great with the salad and oven roasted asparagus. There it is. My farmers market inspired lunch. It was delicious if I do say so myself.

I am going to show you how I made the asparagus in this post. The omelette is easy. I made classic pesto, but substituted the pistachios for the pine nuts. I broke open 2 eggs, added a table spoon of the pistachio pesto along with a splash of cream. I whisked everything together and added it to a warm pan with melted butter. When the eggs were almost set, I placed some crumbled herb goat cheese in the center and folded the eggs over to form the omelette.

If you want my pesto recipe click on this link for Pesto Eggs “Benedict”. I show how to make the pesto on my eggs benedict post.

Ingredients for the Oven Roasted Asparagus:

  • 2 table spoons of my Italian Spice Mix
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus
  • 3 table spoons of olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepping The Asparagus:

Snap the end of the asparagus. Do not throw the ends away. I will show you how they can be used.

Some of the asparagus was thick and some was thin. In the photo above the thick stalks are in the glass baking dish on the left and the thinner ones are on the right. The ends are in the glass bowl. The reason I sort out the sizes is that the thick ones will take longer to cook. If you put them all in the same baking dish they will cook unevenly.

Once the stalks are prepped sprinkle them with the Italian spice mix, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss so the asparagus is evenly coated.

Preheat the oven to 400 F or 200 C. Place the seasoned asparagus in the oven and roast until the asparagus tips are browned.

This can take 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the stalks. Halfway through the cooking time turn the asparagus over with tongs. I like to cook them so they are tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Do not overcook them because they will loose their lovely green color and turn mushy.

As for those asparagus ends. Slice them into discs and store them in the refrigerator. They can be added to soups, sautéed up with onions for an egg scramble or used in place of peas in any recipe that calls for peas. I am sure you can also think of other uses.

In order to minimize waste, It is best to slice each stalk individually because each stalk gets fibrous at a different point.

The fibrous portion is the stem of the asparagus and is not edible. When I had my own chickens, I used to feed it to them. I hope to have my own chickens again, but for now I am buying the eggs from Andy at the local farmers market.

The whole purpose of this post was to show you how I get recipe ideas from the local ingredients I find. I love going to the farmers market not just for the great produce, but also for the camaraderie with the people I meet there. I feel very lucky to have such a great community.

Spicy Pan Fried Nopales (Nopal Masala)

In July of 2018, I posted Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala). Bhindi Masala is a classic Northern Indian recipe and one of my favorites. While in central Mexico, I could not find okra readily available. However, cactus leaves (nopales) are plentiful. The texture of nopales reminds me of okra so I decided to substitute them for the okra. I was amazed at how well the dish turned out, so I decided to post it. This is my first recipe using Indian techniques with a Mexican ingredient.

Nopales and okra are both slimy vegetables. In the original okra dish I de-slimed the okra by cutting it into slices and then pan frying at high heat to burn off the slime. I used the same technique for the nopales, but I had to take an extra step because the nopales are slimier than okra. Keep reading and you will see the easy trick that I used to dry out the sliminess.

I tasted a piece of nopal raw so I could understand the flavor. I noticed that the nopal has a sour flavor that the okra does not. In the original okra recipe, dried pomegranate seeds and lemon juice are used to add sourness to the okra. With the nopales, I left out the sour ingredients because the nopales are naturally sour.

Ingredients:

  • 20 Nopales
  • 1 large plum tomato
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 1 Serrano chili
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala (this is a hot Indian spice mix. I make my own, but you can buy it at an Indian grocery store, or online.)
  • a high smoke point oil for cooking. Here I used a combination of avocado oil and ghee.
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepping the Nopales:

Here is the trick I used to dry out some of the slime from the nopales. I put them in a paper bag and placed them in the refrigerator for four days. The paper bag absorbs the moisture from the nopales. The less moisture there is the less slime you will have. When I bought the nopales they had already been cleaned and packed in a plastic bag. Do not wash them before placing them in the paper bag. The added moisture from washing them will cause them to become more slimy.

Slice the Nopales into bite-sized pieces. Make the pieces as equal in size as possible so that they will cook evenly.

Coat a heavy non-stick pan with the avocado oil and ghee. Place on high heat and let the oil get hot. Add the nopales slices in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan because then the nopales will steam instead of pan fry. If they steam they will remain slimy. Remember that moisture leads to sliminess. I fried the nopales in 4 batches to prevent over crowding the pan.

Let the nopales cook for 3-5 minutes. Then stir them and continue cooking until the nopales are browned and the slime has burnt off. This should take 5 to 10 minutes. You will know that the slime has burnt off, when you stir the nopales and you don’t see any slime. Transfer the browned nopales into a glass container. Then start with the the next batch of nopales. When all the nopales are browned, set them aside and start making the spicy base.

Prepping the Ingredients for the Spicy Base:

  • Chop the onion into thin slices
  • Mince the ginger and Serrano chili
  • Dice the tomato

Cooking the Spicy Base:

Add the onions, ginger, and chili to a pan coated with some avocado oil. Place on medium heat and sauté until the onions are translucent and slightly brown.

Once the onions are brown, add the garam masala. Stir it in and let it toast for a minute.

Add the tomato and smoked paprika. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir and let the tomato cook down for 5 minutes.

Add the browned and de-slimed nopales to the spicy onion and tomato base. Toss together. Turn off the heat. Taste the dish and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

This is a tasty side dish. It can be served with any protein you like. I am amazed that it tastes very much like the original Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala). Since I am a pescatarian, I served it topped with a piece of Tandoori Chilean Sea Bass.

Its fun that every time I am in a new area, the availability of local ingredients leads to new recipes.

Not only are nopales delicious, but they also fit into my keto life style. Nopales are low in calories and carbs. They are a rich source of fiber, vitamins A and C. They also contain B-complex and minerals and help lower blood sugar.

This is my first Indian/Mexican fusion recipe. It is also my 100th post!!! Hope you enjoy it.

Adios from Mexico. Hasta Luego. 💕😀

Keto Tiramisu Cream

During the holiday season I usually serve a Cranberry Tiramisu. It is very low in sugar and my dinner guests love it. For those who are leading a Keto Lifestyle, I have created this Keto Tiramisu Cream. It makes a great Keto Parfait dessert when served with berries.

Ingredients: for 2 servings

  1. yolks from 2 eggs at room temperature
  2. 1/2 tsp of fennel powder
  3. 2 packets of raw organic unbleached stevia
  4. 1/2 cup of cold heavy cream
  5. 4 ounces of room temperature mascarpone cheese
  6. 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste
  7. 1 cup of your favorite berries (strawberries, blackberries and raspberries work best. I avoid blueberries because they are higher in sugar than the other berries. Here I was lucky enough to receive fresh blackberries from my neighbor’s garden 😋)

Just a note on the stevia powder I have used in this recipe. I bought it in packets so that it stays fresh. Note that the powder is green in color. It is made from dried stevia leaves that have been ground into a fine powder. It is not white because it has not been bleached. To my taste buds the unbleached powder is better because it is pure and does not leave an artificial after taste.

Making the Custard Base:

Bring water to a simmer in the base of a double boiler pan. While the water is coming to a simmer whisk together the 2 egg yolks with 1 packet of stevia and 1/2 tsp of fennel powder.

Place the egg mixture on top of the simmering water and continue to whisk until it turns frothy and pale.

Transfer the cooked egg mixture into a glass container and let it cool to room temperature.

While the egg mixture is cooling make the whip cream.

Place the cold heavy whipping cream into a cold bowl along with 1 stevia packet and the vanilla bean paste. Whip until you have medium peaks.

Putting the cream together:

Once the egg base is cooled, gently fold in the 4 ounces of room temperature mascarpone. Then fold in the whipped cream.

The cream is now ready to serve. Here I have used it in a berry parfait, but this cream is versatile. I have used it to stuff strawberries. You can also put it on a Keto biscuit. Actually, it is yummy enough to just eat with a spoon. 😋💖

Pork Piccata – gluten free

This is the Secondi we will be making and serving, for the Halloween Italian Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.

Secondi means second course in Italian. It is the main protein course which consists of meat, poultry or fish. I decided to create a play on the classic veal piccata, by using Berkshire Pork tenderloin supplied to me by our neighbors, Rose & James, at Peach Creek Farm. I like supporting our local producers and going straight from The Ranch to The Table. Couldn’t get any more local than the neighboring ranch! 👍😃

Berkshire pork is a gourmet product from a breed of pigs that originated in the English county of Berkshire. The meat has shorter muscle fibers than regular pork, making the meat more tender. The meat is also highly marbled with intramuscular fat, making the meat more succulent and flavorful. Rose & James treat their animals with care. The pigs are not caged and no hormones or chemicals are used in raising them.

In making classic veal piccata, the veal is pounded thin and dredged in flour. I decided to not use flour so I can make the dish gluten free and keto friendly. The flour dredging is traditionally used to protect the thin, lean veal cutlet from drying out, to create a golden brown crust and to thicken the piccata sauce. I will be using Berkshire pork medallions that are 1.25 inches thick and are higher in fat than veal, so they don’t need flour dredging to protect them from drying out. I will get additional flavor and a golden brown crust by coating the pork medallions with my Italian Spice Mix. I will be able to thicken the piccata sauce by adding and whisking in butter at the end. This is a French sauce making technique called Beurre Monte. Which means to mount with butter.

In the test recipe I used bone less pork chops. They turned out well, but I decided to use center cut pork loin medallions for the cooking class/supper club because it is a more tender cut of meat. I will be serving two 1.25 inch center cut pork medallions per person. The pork piccata will be accompanied by roasted squash medallions and seasonal vegetables. Click on the link in the previous sentence for the roasted squash recipe. It has turned out to to be my most viewed post. The recipe was posted on November 17, 2017.

Ingredients: for 4 servings

  • 8 – 1.25 inch thick center cut pork medallions
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (1 to coat the pork, 1 to coat the pan, and 1 for the piccata sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon of my Italian Spice Mix
  • 3 pats of the best unsalted butter you can find
  • 2 tablespoons of small capers
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of wine
  • 1 lemon
  • handful of Italian flat leaf parsley
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Prep:

  • Coat the pork with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the Italian spice mix. Rub the spices into the pork. Cover with plastic and set in the frig while you do the rest of the prep. If you marinate the pork overnight it will be even better.
  • Mince the garlic and parsley leaves
  • Zest and juice the lemon

Cooking the pork:

  • Coat a large nonstick skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place on medium high heat.
  • Once the pan is hot place the pork medallions in the pan. Cook on first side for 2 minutes and then flip.
  • Cook on the second side for 1 minute. Do not over cook the pork or it will dry out.
  • Remove the pork medallions from the pan. Set aside and cover to keep warm. I used a crockpot container with its lid on to hold the pork warm.

Making the piccata sauce:

Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a pat of butter to the pan you used to cook the pork medallions. Turn the flame to medium.
Sprinkle in the chopped parsley.

Taste the sauce. Adjust for salt pepper and acid. During the cooking process, I added only 1/2 the lemon juice. If you need more acid you can add it at this time. Once you are happy with the way the sauce tastes pour it over the pork medallions.

When I am doing a cooking class or a party, I hold the pork piccata in a warm crock pot until I am ready to serve. This makes it easier for all my guests to have warm plates of food, served simultaneously, so we can all eat together.

I have been told many times that the best part of our pop up supper club event is the camaraderie generated by sharing a meal together while supporting our community. It brings me a great deal of joy to be able to hold these events. 💕

Next week I will be posting the final recipe for our up coming cooking class/pop up supper club. Be on the look out for it. Until then ciao! 🖐😃

Italian Stuffed Vegetables – gluten free

This is the Antipasto (appetizer) we will be making and serving, for the Halloween Italian Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.

The event will be held on October 30, 2020. I will use the freshest vegetable I can find for the class, but for this recipe I used round zucchini squash that was grown by my neighbor in his garden. My neighbor, Billy usually brings us vegetables and we provide him with fresh eggs from our chickens. I love living in the country and having access to simple fresh ingredients. So when I say “Farm-to-Table”, I really mean it. 😃

Ingredients:

  • 2 round zucchini squash
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small tomato (in this photo I have a yellow tomato from the garden)
  • 1 small bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 or 2 green chilies (optional – leave them out if you want to tone down the spice level)
  • 2 slices of fresh Mozzarella
  • 4 ounces of grated Parmesan
  • 3 sprigs of fresh herbs (here I have basil, oregano and thyme – I grow these in the sunroom just outside the kitchen)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil (1 for coating the squash and 2 for coating the pan used for cooking the filling)
  • 1 tablespoon of my Italian Spice Mix
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prep:

  • Remove the stems from the squash and cut them in half going from stem to stern
  • Hollow out the squash using a grapefruit spoon. Don’t throw out the innards. Instead, dice them and set aside. We don’t waste anything. The innards will become part of the filling.
  • Dice the onion, tomato, bell pepper and Mozzarella slices
  • Mince the chilies and garlic
  • Finely chop the herbs
  • Season the hollowed out squash with salt, pepper, Italian spice mix and olive oil

Cooking the filling:

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy duty stainless steel pan. Place the pan over a medium-low flame. Add the onion, bell pepper, chilies, garlic and herbs.
Sauté the vegetables until they are soft
Transfer the sautéed veggies to a bowl. Taste the filling and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Let the filling cool to room temp. before mixing in the cheeses.
Stuff each squash half with the filling. Place on an oven safe tray or baking dish.
Bake in a 350 F oven until the squash is tender and the cheese is melted and golden.

Most Italian stuffed vegetables have breadcrumbs in the mixture. But I decided to leave out the breadcrumbs so that I could make this recipe gluten free and also fit my ketogenic lifestyle. Trust me, you won’t even miss the breadcrumbs.

I have also made stuffed peppers and mushrooms using a similar recipe. I took photos of the mushroom recipe and will post it at a later date. I posted Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers on November 7, 2018. The cauliflower stuffed peppers are also gluten free. Please click on the link in the previous sentence if you want to see the stuffed peppers recipe.

I am really looking forward to making this recipe with my students on October 30, 2020. My husband will be selecting a local Italian style wine to pair with this Antipasto course. Should be yummy and fun. 😋😃

VERMILION SNAPPER – Tips on Storing Fresh Fish

Most of the fish we eat is caught by my husband. When the freezer gets low, he goes fishing with his friends and replenishes our stock. He catches, cleans and fillets the fish. My job is to store and cook it. And Of Course we both enjoy eating it. 😋

On one of his fishing trips, he went way into the Gulf of Mexico and brought home a catch of Vermilion Snapper.

I was familiar with Red Snapper, but I had never heard of Vermilion Snapper before. I love the pink color of the fish. Its meat is milder and sweeter than the Red Snapper. It is very moist and melts in your mouth.

The Vermilion Snapper is smaller, and more slender than its Red cousin. Also, it has a forked tail instead of a flat tail. Another name for these fish is Beeliners, because they live in open waters, where they use their precision and speed to make a beeline to chase small fish as their prey. Unlike the Red Snapper, they are not bottom feeders.

Usually, my husband brings home a lot of fish. I cook some right away so we can have it at its freshest, and I freeze the rest for future meals. I am going to show you how to prepare the fish for proper storage in the freezer. I am also going to show you one of my Vermilion Snapper Recipes.

STORING THE FISH

Pat dry the fish fillets with a paper towel.
Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with a silicone mat.
Place the fish fillets in the freezer for 10 minutes.
This will allow the fillets to freeze slightly, so that when you vacuum seal them in a bag, liquid will not leak out during the sealing process.
Portion out the fillets for future meals.
Write the date and name of the fish on a vacuum seal bag.
Place the fillets in the vacuum seal bag so that they lie flat.
Using a vacuum sealing machine on the gentle setting, seal the bags closed.

Sealing and storing the fish properly will keep the fillets fresh for up to a year. Since I am a pescatarian, I love having a freezer full of fresh fish on hand. I am so lucky to have a husband who lovingly catches fish for me.😊

COOKING THE FISH

Ingredients:

  • 2 Vermilion Snapper fillets
  • 1 Tbsp grape seed oil
  • 2 pats of butter
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp of red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • wedge of lemon to squeeze on top

Prep:

  • Crush the dried Fenugreek leaves between the palms of your hand to release their oils and aroma. Place the resulting powder in a glass dish that is big enough to fit the fish fillets.
  • Add the rest of the spices, along with the salt and pepper to make a dry rub.
  • Place the fillets in the glass dish, and coat both sides with the dry rub.
  • Drizzle on the grape seed oil and rub it gently into the fish.

I usually cover the let the seasoned fish fillets with plastic wrap, and let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before pan frying them. This allows the spices to infuse into the fish.

Pan Frying:

  • Place a non-stick pan on medium heat
  • Add the butter. Let it melt and turn slightly brown. Browning the butter brings out a nutty flavor.
  • Add the fish fillets pretty, presentation side down.
  • Pan fry until a crust forms. About 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Flip the fillets. Let cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat and squeeze lemon on top.

Cover with a lid and let it rest for 2 to 3 minutes. While the fish is resting plate your side dish. I decided to serve the pan fried Vermilion Snapper with Curried Cabbage-Punjabi Style. I plated the cabbage on the bottom and placed the fish on top.

I haven’t added any starch so that I can stick with my Ketogenic life style. You can serve it with whatever side dishes you like best.

I wrote this post to showcase the fresh fish my husband lovingly catches for me. Fresh caught fish is absolutely the best.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. You can use it with any white fish. If you make it, please let me know how it turns out. I always love hearing from you!!!

Bye for now 🖐💕

Grilled Liver and Onions

Last week, in honor of Labor Day cookouts, I posted my husband’s grilled Beer Can Chicken recipe. This week I am posting his Grilled Liver and Onions recipe.

I do not know what liver tastes like because I am a pescatarian. I have never eaten meat. My husband however loves liver. I know that liver is very nutritious and can be tasty if cooked correctly. In this recipe my husband added fresh beets and scallions for additional flavor and nutrition.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces of beef liver cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 red onion sliced into rings
  • 2 beets chopped into large pieces
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of red chili flakes
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 large scallion, trimmed and cleaned

COOK:

  • Toss the beets and onions with extra virgin olive oil, cumin seeds, salt and pepper
  • Heat the grill on the high setting
  • Place the veggies on a piece of heavy duty foil and put on the hot grill
  • Close the grill cover and the veggies until they are partially cooked. This should take about 5 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is.
  • Now add the liver to the veggies
  • Season the liver with a sprinkling if cumin seeds, red chili flakes, salt and pepper
  • Close the grill cover and cook the liver until the edges of the liver turn opaque but the liver is not yet fully cooked through. This should take about 5 minutes.
  • Place the scallion on top of the liver
  • Close the grill cover and cook until the scallion is charred and the liver is cooked through. Check every 5 minutes to make sure the liver does not overcook.

Liver is an inexpensive, nutrient dense super food. It is high in protein, low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals. It used to be very popular but has fallen out of favor. Try this recipe and see if you like it.

My husband paired the Grilled Liver and Onions with a unique cocktail that he called, Chili Cherry Bourbon. I will post this cocktail recipe next week.

Please leave me a comment to let me know what you think of this recipe. Your feedback is really appreciated. 🙂

Beer Can Chicken

Summer is almost over !!! I can’t believe that Labor Day weekend is already here. In our home, I am the pescatarian while my husband eats everything. Most days I cook the non-meat dishes in the kitchen while my husband cooks his meat on the grill outside. In honor of Labor Day celebrations and cookouts, I have decided to post my husband’s Beer Can Chicken.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 can of your favorite beer
  • enough olive oil to coat the chicken
  • enough sea salt and freshly ground pepper to coat the chicken

PREPPING THE CHICKEN:

Liberally coat the chicken with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper

COOKING THE CHICKEN:

While the internal temperature reaches 175 F, the skin gets golden brown and crispy as the meat cooks through. Take the chicken off the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes. During the resting period, the internal temperature will come up to 180 F and the juices will get reabsorbed into the meat. This will result in a moist and flavorful chicken.

This is a simple recipe for a backyard cookout. It can be served with a variety of side dishes and salads. I know potato salad is a summer favorite, but if you want to keep a Ketogenic Lifestyle try my Avocado Mediterranean Salad.

Next week I will post another one of my husband’s grilled recipes.

ENJOY ❤