Low-Carb Curried Cauliflower Cheese

roasted cauliflower
low-carb cauliflower cheese
Creamy, squidgy, spicy goodness.

Who was the first person to look at a cauliflower and a bowl of leftover cheese sauce and think—“My goodness, this will be a match made in heaven?”

Whoever he or she was, I’d like to shake them by the hand. If someone said to me, “Okay it’s your last meal on earth, what do you want?”, I’d say, “Cauliflower cheese, please, and don’t stint the cheese.” As it is my last meal, I’d ask them to top it with crispy breadcrumbs and some grilled bacon rashers for crunch.

[Conversation to the side. HUSBAND: Seriously, that’s your last meal? Not steak, or lobster or even a good burger with all the trimmings? Jeez. Who/what did I marry?]

On Friday night, I was at the Tron Theatre (get me) with friends and noticed the bar menu included curried cauliflower cheese. That set the neurons firing. The world’s best dish made even better?

The Tron’s version would have been made the conventional way—a white sauce with milk and flour to thicken it. Low-carb versions use variations of cream and cream cheese to thicken the sauce. Where would the curry bit come in?

One of the ways to cook cauliflower often recommended to those who hate the stuff* is to roast it in the oven with cumin and coriander seeds and chilli. That takes care of the curry bit. Then, if you combine it with a creamy sauce and grated cheese and pop it back in the oven you have the perfect low-carb cauliflower cheese.

You can serve this as an accompaniment to cold meat such as sliced ham or cooked sausages. Or do as I did—serve yourself a super-big portion with a lightly-dressed green salad. Yum.

Low Carb Cauliflower Cheese

  • Servings: See note
  • Difficulty: easy
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The best veggie dish in the world made even better

  • One large whole cauliflower, broken into even-sized florets
  • One tbsp turmeric
  • One tbsp rapeseed oil
  • One tbsp cumin seeds
  • One tbsp coriander seeds
  • One tsp black pepper corns
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (or more…)
  • 250mls double cream
  • 100g grated cheese (extra mature to vintage cheddar is best)**
  • 1tbsp wholegrain mustard

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Bring a large saucepan of well salted water to the boil, add the turmeric and cook the cauliflower florets for two minutes. Drain well so they are very dry.

Toast the cumin, coriander and pepper in a dry frying pan until the smell of them hits your nose like a sledgehammer and grind to to a powder in a pestle and mortar.

Take a large roasting pan and tip your florets in there. Add the oil and the spices and mix well so the florets are well coated. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the cream gently in a pan and add the mustard and most of the grated cheese. Blend well.

Remove the cauliflower florets from the oven. Place in an oven-proof serving dish and pour over the cheese sauce. Top with the rest of the grated cheese and put back in the oven for 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Allow about 5-8g carbs per serving

Note—the number of servings depends on the size of cauliflower you started with. Mine was teeny, so my dish made two. If I’d served it as a side dish, three-to four. But we are in glutton territory here. Maybe I pretended the dish above served two and ate the whole lot in one go… no-one else in my household wanted to eat it, after all. Another idea is to prepare the roasted cauliflower as a side dish for any roast meat.

*Didn’t work on my husband. Cauliflower is up there on his list of the Devil’s Foods, along with broccoli, sprouts and blue cheese.

**This is a rough guide. If you choose to double it up, who am I to judge?

Chicken Caesar Salad – crouton-free

picture of chicken caesar saladEaster greetings to you all… here’s an idea for lunch or dinner for you. Now, Caesar salad without the croutons?! C’est sacrilege, surely? But if you follow a low-carb diet, the concept of tearing up the rule book on food is one you embrace.

I’m back from a terrific few days in the Scottish Borders (abbey-visiting a-plenty), and my favourite meals while there was a Chicken Caesar salad I had in the Townhouse in Melrose. Now that one did feature croutons, albeit small ones, but the dressing and the juicy chicken made it stick out.

I decided to re-create it at home. Issue one—chicken breast, a dry and often flavour-free meat. Issue two—my husband hates anchovies and they’re are often added to the salad or at least the traditional dressing.

Poached, not fried or roasted chicken

To avoid dry chicken, I poached mine in chicken stock (I used two cubes) with a handful of sage and thyme added to the cooking liquor. And to make an anchovy-free dressing*, I found an American recipe online and adapted it.

Here it is—crouton-free Chicken Caesar Salad suitable for low-carb and gluten-free diets.

Chicken Caesar Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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<em>A fresh, light recipe that is still filling and perfect for a late spring or summer dinner</em>.


Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts (the best quality you can afford)
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Handful fresh sage leaves and several thyme twigs)
  • 3 rashers smoked back or streaky bacon
  • 2 Little Gem lettuces
  • 10 baby plum or cherry tomatoes
  • 30g Parmesan shavings

Dressing

  • 4tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard

Steamed green beans to serve (and boiled new potatoes for your carb-lovers).

  1. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and add the breasts. Depending on their thickness, they will take 10-15 minutes to cook, but you shouldn’t have any pink meat remaining.
  2. Meanwhile, wash the Little Gem lettuces and pull off the outer leaves. Use them to line a wide bowl so you have a ‘tray’ for your salad. Shred the rest of the leaves finely, slice the tomatoes and put in a bowl with the lettuce. Add the Parmesan shavings. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss the salad to coat it evenly with the dressing.
  3. Grill the bacon until crispy. Once the chicken is cooked, chop or slice it and add to the plate. Top with the grilled bacon (one and half slices each).

About 5-7g carbs per serving.

Please note—the dish is high in protein and protein can affect your blood sugar levels after a few hours. Test your blood glucose accordingly. Our book The Diabetes Diet outlines how to deal with the protein content in meals.

 

*Ssh, don’t tell my husband one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce is… you guessed it, anchovies.

Jovina cooks Chinese: Szechuan Chicken stir fry

Asian Stir-Fry Dinner
by Jovina Coughlin

Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry

Serves 4
Ingredients
Sauce Mixture
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chile paste (such as sambal oelek)
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Stir-Fry
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cooked (poached) chicken breasts, shredded
Half of a large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 cups broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
1 cup diagonally cut snow peas
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup (1-inch) slices green onion
Directions
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside
Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peanut oil; swirl.
Add bell peppers and broccoli and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add the next 4 ingredients (through garlic); stir-fry 1 minute. Add the shredded chicken, stir-fry 1 minute.
Add the sauce mixture; cook 30 seconds or until thickened. Add the green onions. Cook until heated through. Serve with the Cauliflower Rice dish or regular rice if you are not low carbing.
Asian Flavored Cauliflower “Rice”

Serves 4
Ingredients
10 oz pkg frozen cauliflower rice, defrosted or use the same amount of regular leftover cooked rice (or grate your own)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced ginger
Directions
Let the riced cauliflower drain in a colander for about 30 minute. Then place it on a paper towel.
In a wide-bottom skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute.
Add the cauliflower rice. Stir-fry until the grains are dry and begin to crisp.
Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce and ginger. Stir-fry for another minute or two. Serve with the chicken.

My comment: I’m pleased to see that frozen cauliflower rice is available in the USA. I’m not aware that we have it yet in the UK. You can pulverize raw cauliflower in a food processor to get a similar product. Then you can have a taste of the orient with this lovely meal.

Simone Miller’s Paleo Pizza Crust

For step by step directions with pictures see the link below:

 

http://zenbellycatering.com/2013/08/20/ny-style-paleo-pizza-crust-yes-really/?_ke=a2F0aGFyaW5lLm1vcnJpc29uQGJ0aW50ZXJuZXQuY29t

 

Simone is a chef living in San Francisco and she had numerous attempts to perfect pizza crust. She was keen to have the sort of base that would rise just like the flour based version. 

She has some tips:

use a pizza stone if you have one

warm the bowl for the yeast mixture and measuring cup for the water by running hot water into it

You need to use high temperatures for this recipe to get the best result

You need to have the top almost completely cooked before you put your toppings on.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of gluten free yeast

1 tablespoon raw honey

1/4 cup of warm water

3/4 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup tapioca starch

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil or other melted fat

1 tablespoon egg white (this is less than one egg)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

+ your favourite toppings eg mozzarella, cheddar, mushrooms, peppers, onion, rosemary, oregano etc

Directions:

In the warmed large mixing bowl combine the yeast, honey and warm water. Leave for 5 minutes to get frothy.

In another small bowl combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar and egg white.

In another medium bowl combine the almond flour, tapioca starch and salt.

Once the yeast if foamy, add the wet and dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium/high for 30 seconds and scrape the bowl to mix it well.

Using a rubber spatula form the wet dough into as much of a ball as you can.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and put in a warm (but not hot) place. All it to sit for 75 -90 minutes. Check it at 75 minutes. It doesn’t rise like conventional dough but it should have risen somewhat. If not leave it a bit longer.

Turn your oven to 500 F 250 C or regulo 10 (for many of us as high as our domestic ovens will go).

If you have a pizza stone put it in the oven.

Lightly oil a sheet of parchment paper and turn the sticky dough onto it.

Oil your hands and flatten the dough into a 9 or 10 inch circle or so.

Carefully transfer the parchment with the raw pizza base onto the stone or sheet pan.

Bake in the lower third of your oven for 6-8 minutes till it starts to brown at the edges.

Add the desired toppings and cook for another 2-3 more minutes. Allow to cool for a minute before slicing.

Enjoy!

 

 

Peppercorn Sauce for steak #low-carb

plate with steak and peppercornsauceThis week, I tried a cooking method I’ve never used before—low cooking. For those unfamiliar with the term, low cooking can be used for tender cuts of meat. You sear it in a pan and then place in an oven at a very low temperature and cook for a long time.

It differs from slow cooking in that slow cooking is usually used for tougher cuts of meat and involves liquid. I used the low cooking technique to cook a ribeye steak we got from Donald Russell. If you live in the UK and buy certain magazines or Sunday newspapers, a Donald Russell flier will have fallen out of them at some point.

True cost of meat

‘Donald Russell’ is a farm in Inverurie (Aberdeenshire) which supplies many top end restaurants and Balmoral with meat and fish. I can vouch that the quality of the produce is superb. It is also stonkingly expensive, but that will reflect the true cost of meat especially if you want to buy meat that comes from animals that have lived a life as close to the one they are supposed to. If (and that’s a big if) my writing career ever makes me decent money, this will be the only meat I buy.

Anyway, I cooked the steak for three minutes all-in on a high heat and then popped it in the oven at 80 degrees C for 35 minutes, and served it with peppercorn sauce and salad (and fried potatoes for my carb-loving husband). Here’s the peppercorn sauce recipe. It isn’t the classic one as I find fiddling around with sauce recipes too much to resist. The sauce has about 5g of carbs per serving.

Peppercorn Sauce for Steak

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 50g butter
  • 1tbsp peppercorns, crushed
  • 50ml brandy or white wine
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 100ml beef or chicken stock
  • 50ml cream (I used crème fraiche as I had some left over, double cream or sour cream will work too)
  1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions. Fry gently until softened—about three to five minutes.
  2. Add the pepper, mustard, garlic and mix well. Add the brandy or white wine and bring to a simmer. Cook for three minutes and add the beef or chicken stock. Cook for another three minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat and add the cream and stir through until thickened. Serve with steaks or chicken. Or use it to make a sublime vegetable side dish.

Have you used the low cooking technique before and what’s your favourite sauce to serve with steak?

Diet doctor: Naan Bread

Naan bread is one of the things many of us miss when having a curry. While meat and vegetable curries lend themselves very easily to low carb eating, you can’t say the same for Naan Bread.  So it’s great to see a recipe for this first published in diet doctor and which came to my attention from our reader Shirley Yates who has her own low carb cooking blog.

 

Low Carb Naan Bread!
Published on June 21, 2017
Two pieces is only 3 net carbs!
Ingredients

¾ cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons ground psyllium husk powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6¾ tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 cups boiling water
coconut oil, for frying
sea salt
Garlic butter

3½ oz. butter
1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
Instructions
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil and then boiling water and stir thoroughly.
Allow to rise for five minutes. The dough will turn firm fairly quickly, but stay flexible. It should resemble the consistency of Play-Doh. If you find it’s too runny then add more psyllium husk until it feels right. The amount needed may vary depending on what brand of husk or coconut flour you use.
Divide into 6 or 8 pieces and form into balls that you flatten with your hands directly on parchment paper or on the kitchen counter.
Fry rounds in coconut oil over medium heat until the Naan turn a nice golden color.
Heat the oven to 140°F (70°C) and keep the bread warm while you make more.
Melt the butter and stir in the freshly squeezed garlic. Apply the melted butter on the bread pieces using a brush and sprinkle flaked salt on top.
Pour the rest of the garlic butter in a bowl and dip pieces of bread in it.
Recipe taken from The Diet doctor: https://www.dietdoctor.com/recipes/low-carb

Yummy Lummy: Red hot chicken wings

These carry an Australian Government caution!

https://yummylummy.com/2018/01/06/super-hot-spicy-chicken-wings/#comments

Super hot and spicy chicken wings made with ground Queensland nuts, smoked almonds, iodised salt, black peppercorns, smoked paprika, dried mixed herbs, bird’s eye chillies, and chilli flakes.
• 8 Chicken wings
• 1 Handful Queensland nuts
• 1/2 Handful Smoked almonds
• 1 Tablespoon Iodised salt flakes
• 1 Tablespoon Whole black peppercorns
• 1 Tablespoon Smoked paprika
• 1 Tablespoon Dried mixed herbs
• 2 Dried bird’s eye chillies
• 1 Tablespoon Chilli flakes
• 2 Handfuls Shredded kale
• 1 Packet Coleslaw
• 1 Tablespoon French mustard
• 100 mL Pouring cream
1. In a coffee grinder, grind Queensland nuts, smoked almonds, iodised salt, black peppercorns, smoked paprika, dried mixed herbs, bird’s eye chillies, and chilli flakes.
2. Rub this into the skin of eight chicken wings.
3. Roast for 1 hour at 150 °C.