Salmon Patties with Farmer’s Cheese

I get way too many ideas for new dishes from watching cooking shows. Yesterday crab beignets got me thinking about adapting my dry cottage cheese donut recipe for seafood. I had canned salmon and queso fresco on hand so I tried it tonight. It worked out great. I used preserved lemon in it since I always have some in my refrigerator, but wrote up the recipe with lemon zest and salt because they’re more common ingredients. If you can’t find fresh farmer’s cheese or its Mexican equivalent, queso fresco, then regular small curd cottage cheese that has been rinsed and patted dry with paper towels can be used. Feta cheese crumbles would also be good, though it’s saltier than farmer’s cheese so the salt content may need adjusting. I prefer to pan fry foods in lard because of the taste it imparts, but avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee are all good natural fats for frying. I served it with a caper and preserved lemon tartar sauce I made using black garlic avocado oil mayo and a simple green salad.

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1 14.75oz can salmon, drained and flaked
1 cup farmer’s cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup flaxseed meal
3 eggs
1 shallot, minced
2 Tbs fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Add about a half inch of oil or fat to a deep sauté pan and turn on medium high until it reaches 350°F. While the oil is heating, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until combined but not overly mixed. Form into 6 equal patties, about 1/3 cup of the salmon and cheese mixture for each. Once the oil is up to temperature, pan fry the patties until deep golden brown, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Don’t over crowd the pan; two batches may be required. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve with favorite tartar sauce.

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Multi-seed Crackers

Sometimes I really miss salty, crunchy snacks like popcorn & chips with my low carb eating pattern so I tossed together ingredients I had on hand and made multi-seed crackers.

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They turned out great, super crunchy & not as crumbly as I expected. I used raw seeds I had stored in my freezer & a no-salt herb blend from my spice cupboard. Use what you have and like. Other types of seeds would well work in this recipe: flax seeds, chia seeds, pepitas, etc. I recommend using hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds) if you don’t like the extreme crunch of whole hemp seeds. Decrease the amount of salt in the recipe if you use already salted seeds. I tried pressing the dough out without the egg first but it didn’t hold together well enough so I had to rework it. An egg free version would probably work by doubling the amount of flaxseed meal, using boiling water, and allowing the dough to rest for 30 minutes before pressing into the pan.

1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup whole hemp seeds
1 cup raw white sesame seeds
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 egg
1 Tbs herb blend of choice
2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to evenly distribute flaxseed meal, herbs, and salt. Add water and egg. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Pour out onto prepared baking sheet and press out evenly with the back of a spoon to about 1/4 inch thick. It may not cover the full baking sheet. Square up the exposed edge as best as possible. Use extra parchment paper or a second silicone baking mat to further press down seeds. Cut into small squares approximately one inch by one inch with a pizza cutter or knife. Bake for 40-45 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before carefully breaking apart crackers on the cut lines. Store in an air tight container once completely cooled. Makes approximately 64 crackers.

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Chestnut Hot Water Pastry

For my mostly traditional mincemeat pie I wanted a sturdy crust that could hold up to the ingredients. Hot water pastry seemed like a perfect solution. I decided to use chestnut flour even though it’s not low in carbs because I thought it’d hold up the best and be the easiest to work with. I was correct. Unlike traditional hot water pastry, my gluten free version rolls out best once cool. I rolled it out on a piece of parchment paper and used the paper to move the crusts onto the pie pan and over the top of the pies.

I used half butter and half lard, Armour brand Premium style lard that’s not hydrogenated is my preferred lard for baking and frying, but it would be easy to make this recipe dairy free by only using lard. Any extra dough can be cut with cookie cutters and used as decorations on top the pie or baked and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

I had enough pastry dough for two and a half 5 1/2″ pies with just enough left over for star patterns on top the “naked” mincemeat pie. I haven’t tested the recipe with my standard 10″ glass pie pans, yet.

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3 cups chestnut flour
1/2 cup lard
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup water
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine chestnut flour, xanthan gum, and salt. Stir well. Bring water to a simmer and add lard and butter, stir until melted. Form a well in the middle of the flour in the bowl and gently pour the hot water and melted fats into it. Stir together with a spoon until the dough comes together. Pour dough out onto a clean counter and knead for 2-3 minutes until it forms a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Divide dough and roll out the bottom crust on a piece of parchment paper. Drape crust over the pie pan and press the crust into it, filling holes and cracks as needed. Fill pie with desired filling. Roll out top crust on parchment paper and drape over the top of the pie. Trim and crimp edges, cut a vent hole in the center of the top crust. Egg wash can be brushed over the top crust, if desired. Bake pie for 45-60 minutes until the pie filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.

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Traditional Mincemeat Pie

I made a fairly traditional mincemeat pie with beef and beef fat for Christmas this year after adapting a recipe from one of the first cookbooks published in the US, “American Cookery 2nd edition” by Amelia Simmons and published in 1796. The scanned pages of the complete cookbook are available to read online for free. Here’s the original recipe:

“Minced Pie O’ Beef

Four pounds boil’d beef, chopped fine and salted; six pounds of raw apple chopped, also, one pound beef suet, one quart wine or rich sweet cider, mace and cinnamon, of each one ounce, two pounds sugar, a nutmeg, two pounds raisins, bake in pastry no. 3 three fourths of an hour.”

I decreased the amounts to make it more manageable for one pie. I used grass fed ground beef I gently cooked in a  frying pan rather than boiling a roast or sirloin and then chopping the meat. Next time I may run the cooked ground beef through my food processor or at least chop it finely with a knife before adding it to the pie filling for better texture.

I didn’t have a source for food grade suet and the grass fed beef tallow I had on hand was already rendered so I asked the butcher at my local grocery store for a pound of beef fat. He happily wrapped it up for me at no charge. It was more than I needed, but I was able to pick the best looking pieces for this recipe. I froze what I didn’t use for later. I partially froze the choice pieces of fat for 30 minutes in the freezer and then ran it through the grating disc on my food processor. It worked really well.

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The recipe called for raisins, but I had access to other local fruits my mom dehydrated so I used a combination of raisins, dried cherries, and dried thundercloud plums (they’re small, dark red plums about cherry sized). I rehydrated the fruits in wine overnight in the refrigerator. They soaked up all the liquid and were nice and tender. I substituted stevia-erythritol blend for sugar and put both measurements in the recipe below. My biggest departure from the original recipe was the addition of orange zest. It gave the pie a nice, fresh flavor and cut through some of the richness of the beef, fat, and spices.

I made a chestnut flour hot water pastry for the crust with a combination of lard and butter. The recipe will be posted soon. Chestnuts have more starches than other nuts, but it’s flavorful, lovely to work with, and the most like wheat flour, minus the gluten.

I made 5 1/2″ pies rather than one 10″ pie and they turned out great. They’re probably the best looking grain free pies I’ve ever made. Bonus, they also tasted good. The beef and beef fat add texture, flavor, protein, and nutritents but not much savory flavors. It’s really more like a hardy apple pie with a few extra ingredients tossed in. I liked it so much that I can easily see myself making it again instead of apple pie.

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Mincemeat Pie

1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs apples, diced
1/2 cup beef suet, grated
1 cup red wine or sweet cider
1 1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)
1 1/2 tsp ground mace
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup stevia-erythritol blend)
1 cup dried raisins

Soak raisins in the wine for at least 4 hours. Boil or otherwise cook ground beef. Drain, add the salt, and chop the beef finely. Allow to cool. Combine the rest of the ingredients together and stir well. Pour it into a prepared pie crust and cover with a top crust. Bake until the filling bubbles and the apples and crust are cooked through. Best served slightly warm.

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Low Carb Dry Cottage Cheese Waffles

I love waffles, but have had mixed results in my attempts to make low carb, grain free ones. A couple of weeks ago I had the idea of making a waffle batter based on my cottage cheese donut recipe. It worked out better than I imagined. Again I used a fresh Mexican cheese, queso fresco this time, in place of farmer’s cheese/dry cottage cheese because it’s readily available in my area. In the future I may try making these with regular small curb cottage cheese and decreasing the eggs to adapt to the moisture differences.

The waffles were soft and tender inside and slightly crunchy outside. Reheating them in the toaster/convection oven increased the outside crunchiness, which is what I like about waffles compared to pancakes. I served them with homemade low sugar raspberry syrup and butter, but they’re pretty good on their own, too. Due to the high protein and fat content, these waffles are extremely filling. Half of one was more than enough for me for breakfast the next day.

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6 eggs
1 cup dry cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese, crumbled small
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup melted butter
2 Tbs chia or flax seed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp stevia extract
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well combined. Allow batter to rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before stirring well and spooning it into waffle iron according to your machine’s instructions. Remove from the waffle iron when golden brown.

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Cumin Garlic Lemon Yogurt Sauce

I make this sauce frequently, it’s great with lamb, falafel, and curries or can be used as a salad dressing or dip with pita wedges, but I usually don’t measure the ingredients. I remembered to do that tonight so I could type up the recipe. I use full fat Greek yogurt when I want a thicker dip and full fat regular yogurt when I want a thinner sauce. Fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, or dill can be added if you have them on hand. Lemon zest and salt can be used if you don’t have preserved lemons. I make my own and almost always have them in my refrigerator.

2 cups full fat plain yogurt
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp preserved lemon, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper

Add all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to develop.

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Grain-free Cheddar Pecan Shortbread Wafers with Dried Fruit

A friend shared this recipe for cranberry-pecan cheese wafers that she makes during the holiday season. It sparked my interest for two reasons: one, it’s easy to adapt to grain-free and two, there are no limits to the flavor profiles that can be created with the base cheddar pecan shortbread recipe. The cranberries and cayenne pepper can easily be exchanged to suit ones tastes, and even the type of cheese and nuts can be switched to something else. Smoked Gouda and walnuts, maybe, or Parmesan and pistachios. Here are some of my suggestions:

• Dried cherries, orange zest, ground fennel seed
• Dried cranberries, smoked paprika, ground chipotle powder
• Sultanas, ground coriander seed, mild curry powder
• Dried apricots, lemon zest, cardamom
• Cognac infused raisins, crushed mustard seeds, black pepper
• Dried apples, allspice, cayenne pepper
• Dried blueberries, lemon zest, ground lavender buds
• Salt cured olives, thyme, rosemary

I made batches of the first two and both turned out great. I used 1 Tbs of orange zest and 1/2 tsp of whole fennel seeds ground in a mortar and pestle with the dried cherries and 1 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp chipotle powder with the dried cranberries. The trick is to not overwhelm the cheddar and fruit flavors with spice, so use a little more of milder flavors and a little less of stronger flavors. I also don’t recommend using more than two different spices or spice blends.

I halved the recipe from the original since I don’t see this as primarily a holiday recipe, but as an alternative to cookies for any occasion. They’re not extremely low carb due to the dried fruit, but much lower than regular cookies and perfect for someone who likes salty and sweet treats. The dough needs to chill a good 6-8 hours to firm up, so it’s best to plan that down time in advance. I made the dough the night before and baked it the next morning. Let the wafers cool completely before eating; the flavors are even more developed the day after baking.

2 cups almond flour
2 cups sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
3/4 cup dried fruit, chopped
1 Tbs chia seed or flaxseed meal
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3/4 tsp salt

Soak the dried fruit in several cups of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Drain the fruit and dry it off as much as possible with paper towels. Dice small, if necessary. In a stand mixer, blend together butter, cheese, chia or flax seed meal, salt, and selected spices until well combined. Add almond flour gradually until combined. Stir in dried fruit and chopped nuts. Divide the dough in half, roll into equal sized logs, and wrap in plastic wrap. Seal and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours and up to 3 days. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Slice rolls of dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and place on prepared baking sheets, leaving at least an inch between waters to allow them room to spread out during baking. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until an even golden brown. Cooking times will vary based on the ingredients used. Let cool fully for serving or covering for storage.

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