Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Garlic Lime Chicken

Joel has often described his youth in the suburbs of Detroit, when his mother, a highly intelligent and educated woman, (and reluctant housewife), described the preparation of the evening meal thus: "It is four o'clock, and housewives all over America are looking at a chicken and wondering what to do with it."

Well. My limes are so plentiful and ripe, they are falling off the tree, and I happened to have a couple of packages of organic chicken thighs in the refrigerator..... So I decided to try this recipe, which I found three pages away from the fabulous Philippine Adobo recipe I wrote of earlier. Uh, wow. Once again, a deceptively simple recipe, (this time invented by a Gourmet reader), creates a wonderful and complex dish. Delicious, pleasing to all family members, and super fast prep time. You have to do a little advance planning to get the marinade going for the right length of time, but otherwise, easy peasy lemon (or limey) squeezy. Gotta love that short ingredient list! And while it's in the oven, why not squeeze up any leftover limes and make a few margaritas?

Garlic Lime Chicken

Recipe by Bella Jarret of New York City, inspired by a box of limes she received from Florida. From The Gourmet Cookbook.

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 olive oil
1 TB minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 pounds skin-on chicken parts: 4 breast halves or 6-8 chicken thighs

Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients in a container just large enough to hold them plus the chicken. Wash, pat dry, and cut off excess pieces of fat, but be sure to leave on the skin. Add the chicken, turning to coat. Marinate, turning once or twice, for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.

Put a rack into the upper third of the oven, then preheat to 400 F.

Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and arrange skin side up, without crowding, in a shallow baking pan. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Roast until just cooked through, 25 - 35 minutes.

Turn oven to broil. Broil chicken about 2 inches from heat until the skin is crisp, about 2 minutes. Serve with lime wedges, and brown rice cooked with chicken broth. The pan juices make a lovely sauce for the rice.

Variation 1: yes, you can use lemons. They are good, but not as good as the limes.
Variation 2: Take 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, wash and dry, and, using only the leaves and tender stems, pile under the chicken before you roast it. (I'm sure it would also be good as a garnish.)

Note: Any leftovers are easily reheated; microwave to heat, then re-crisp the skin with the broiler setting of the toaster oven. None of it has lasted long enough to try these ideas yet, but I think would be worth a try: on top of a composed salad, as a filling in enchiladas or burritos, added to a soup.....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sugar-Free Sweet Potato Bread

Sweet Potatoes, how do I love thee; luscious, moist, flavorful, low glycemic, packed with vitamins and fiber - sweet! So, it naturally followed that I should develop some new, recipes using this wonder food. This is very, very good; moist and rich tasting.

1 1/4 cup/12 ounces cooked sweet potato, mashed
1/2 cup water
1 large egg
1 extra large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract OR 1 TB bourbon
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, (minus 4 TB)
2-3 TB flax meal (optional)
1 TB soy protein (optional)
1 TB whey powder (optional)
1/3 cup xylitol
4 1/2 tiny scoops stevia
3 TB +1 tsp erythritol ("Zero")
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

If you don't have access to erythritol, raise the xylitol to a scant 1/2 cup.

If sugar is not a problem for you, substitute 3/4 cup of sugar for all of the sweeteners.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan. In a large bowl, mash the sweet potatoes well with a potato masher, and whisk in the water. Then stir in the eggs and vanilla or bourbon until well blended.

If you are using the supplemental proteins and flax powder, measure the 2-3 TB of flax meal, 1 TB of soy protein, and 1 TB of whey powder, then fill the rest of the measure with the whole wheat pastry flour. In a medium sized bowl, add this, plus the second cup of flour, the baking soda, the salt, the spices, and all of the sweeteners, and whisk the ingredients to blend.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir well. Add the nuts and blend. Spoon into the loaf pan, using a spatula to get all of the batter, and bake for about an hour. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the loaf, then cool on a rack. This is quite delicious toasted, served with sweet butter or toasted nut butters.

Notes from Christine: You may have a bunch of questions as to why I've given the substitutions I have. Why whole wheat pastry flour? Pastry flour is lower in gluten than regular flour, so it makes a less dense bread. This way you get the whole grains and the reduced carbohydrates, but without the heaviness. Why one extra large egg? When I have made similar breads before using 100% whole wheat, it didn't rise as much as it did with all unbleached refined flour, or 50/50. When I baked this version, I happened to have one extra large egg and one large egg on hand, and this is what I used. Voila; it rose to perky heights! Why the flax meal? Flax meal is full of omega 3 fatty acids, which actively convert "bad" cholesterol into "good" cholesterol in your body. Here is a lovely way to sneak them into something yummy. Also, if you are cutting carbs, this substitutes a lower carb ingredient. Why the xylitol, stevia and erythritol? As I have written in previous posts, stevia is a calorie-free, completely natural sweetener extracted from stevia leaves. However, it has a funky aftertaste. Therefore, it is best to mix it with another sweetener. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, which the body metabolizes differently than sugar. It is 40% lower in calories, and metabolized 75% more slowly than cane sugar. I like those numbers! Plus, it is actually good for your teeth. However, it is extracted in weird and yucky ways from wood, so I'm not thrilled. Erythritol (marketed as Wholesome Sweeteners Zero) is my new darling; it is available made from organic sugar which has been fermented, with zero calories and zero on the glycemic index - wow! But, it is only 60% as sweet as sugar, and is wickedly expensive. So, ta da! Mix them together!

Whey powder is available from well-stocked grocery and natural food stores. Berkeley Bowl carries whey powder and flax meal in a refrigerated case near the bulk food section.

Sugar-Free Deep Dish Apple Pie

I admit it; I have O.P.D. - Obsessive Pie Disorder. Ever since I went low-carb, I've been developing new recipes to satisfy my sweet tooth. I've been averaging a pie a week, alternating between apple and sweet potato, with a chicken pot pie thrown in for good measure. Yum.

As I've gone, I've continued to fiddle with the balance of sweeteners, trying to hit the sweet spot. As I have mentioned before, stevia is a completely natural, calorie-free leaf extract, but it has a funky aftertaste. Xylitol is a sugar alchohol, slightly sweeter than cane sugar, neutral in flavor, measures like sugar, 70% lower on the glycemic index than sugar, anti-cavity, BUT - extracted in a funky fashion from wood. Then I discovered a new darling; erythritol, marketed as organic "Zero" by Wholesome Sweeteners. This is also a sugar alcohol, but made naturally through fermentation, and available as an organic product. (Be careful; some of the stuff out there is made from corn cobs in China. No thank you.) No calories, zero on the the glycemic index - Ooh - so far, so great! But it is only 60% as sweet as sugar, so you need to use more, and it is wickedly expensive; about $14 for a 12 ounce bag. Ouch!

So, the blending continues...

Deep Dish Apple Pie

Whole grain pie dough for one crust (see my earlier post for pie crust)

8-10 baking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 Meyer lemons: all grated zest, plus 2 TB juice (or more to taste)
OR 1 Eureka/Lisbon lemon: all grated zest, plus 1 TB juice (or more to taste)
1/4 cup xylitol
3 tiny measuring scoops powdered stevia
3 TB erythritol (Zero)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2-4 TB (1/2 stick) sweet (unsalted) butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg whisked with 2 TB water, milk or cream for glaze
1 tsp sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425 F, and bring the crust to room temperature.

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, put them in a large non-reactive bowl, then toss with the lemon juice and zest.

Combine the salt, sweeteners and spices in a small bowl, and whisk to combine them well.

Sprinkle sweetener/spice mixture over the apples, and toss well to combine.

Pour the apples into a deep-dish pie plate. Dot with the butter.

Roll out the pie crust, and carefully transfer it to the top of the apples. It's fragile; try using a spatula to help transfer it over. If it breaks on the way, don't freak, just patch it up with your fingers. Tuck the excess dough down into the sides of the pie dish. Cut a circle of steam slits with a sharp paring knife.

Put the pie onto a cookie sheet to catch the drips. Bake the pie at 425 for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F, and bake until the fruit is tender when pierced with a skewer and the crust is golden brown; about 25 more minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool 15 minutes or to room temperature before eating; this helps thicken the juices.

Note: This makes a delectably sweet pie. If you want it a little less sweet, cut back the xylitol by a couple of tablespoons and check the taste.