Friday, 18 May 2012

Salmon Leek Tart

Over my past two years eating low carb, I've accumulated a number of cookbooks. Before I started losing weight, J and I never cooked -- in fact, we almost always ate out, sometimes 3 or 4 times a week. Not only was this habit expensive, but the Thai food, burgers and fries, and endless sushi eventually took its toll on me. I went from 140 lbs to almost 180 lbs in less than a year. I was absolutely devastated. I had weighed this much in high school, before following the South Beach diet and getting down to 140 lbs, which I maintained for 3 or 4 years. One of the hardest reasons to stick with South Beach was that I had two cookbooks (and that was it), and the recipes were not very flavourful to eat, not very exciting to prepare, and just all around very blah.

So, when I checked out Karen Barnaby's Low Carb Gourmet, I was astounded and overjoyed. There were so many wonderful recipes in that book, and I cooked and baked and cooked and baked so many low-carb tasty things, that I definitely could see eating low-carb wasn't all just bacon and eggs (If you can find it at your local library, I highly recommend checking it out). But, after a while (and it was quite a while) I started to get bored. I ended up searching online, and one of the first websites I found was Elana's Pantry.

I am so incredibly thankful for Elana's website. Elana cooks gluten-free wonders for her family as some members have Celiac Disease. Unlike most common gluten-free recipes, which contain a myriad of flours, often obscure, and sometimes a lot of other things that you just rather not eat, Elana largely uses almond meal/flour and coconut flour in her recipes. Not only does almond meal have an amazing nutritional profile, it has tons of protein and almonds are easy on your blood sugar, helping you feel fuller longer.

I fell in love with Elana's website, and I purchased her cookbook, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. In a sort of homage to her amazing cookbook, and equally amazing website, I hope to showcase a number of wonderful recipes which are simply delicious and wonderful to eat and prepare, regardless of the fact that it's low-carb or gluten-free. I do still have to modify the recipes (sometimes more than others) to go with the ingredients I have on hand or to reduce carbs and sugars.

The first recipe I have for you is a Smoked Salmon & Leek tart, which is just too simply amazing to pass up. J always devours this every time I make it, and leftovers make a satisfying lunch to take to work the next day. This crust is especially great, though, because you can put any type of quiche filling in it, which makes it perfect for a work-night dinner and, as a bonus, a way to use up those leftovers.

Smoked Salmon & Leek Tart

6 Servings
still so good
J ate 3 slices!!

For the Tart Crust:
1 1/2  cup ground almonds - you can finely ground these yourself in a food processor, but high quality almond flour will work best
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp scallion 

1/4 cup olive or coconut oil

Oven temperature: 350 F

Add the almond flour, salt, and  scallion  and olive oil into a bowl. Well grease, with your fat of choice a, 9 inch tart pan or pie plate and press mixture. The mix should be sticky but not overly wet. You can add a bit of water, one tablespoon at a time, if you need to make the batter a little wetter. 

Let the crust bake completely for 15 - 20 minutes. Watch it very carefully after the 15  minute mark. Depending on how thin you've made your crust, it doesn't take long for the crust to turn into burnt almond, which won't lend a pleasing taste or texture. 

The crust is great because it can be made ahead of time -- in fact, it's probably better if it is, as it needs to cool completely (at least a half hour) before it's filled. You can omit the salt if you're going to be using salt in the filling -- it was too salty for my taste otherwise. Be careful to not overbake the crust -- watch it carefully as burnt almond dries out and it will be much harder to remove from the dish.

 For the filling:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leek, white and green parts
2 oz smoked salmon lox, chopped up
1 tbsp dill, chopped
4 eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt

Place the two tablespoons of oil in a hot pan. Cook your leeks until they are slightly browned and soft, about 10 minutes over medium heat. While that's going whisk your eggs in a separate bowl an add the salmon, dill, and salt.  When leeks are done, make sure you let them cool down a bit before you add them to the egg mixture, or else your eggs will start to cook in the bowl as you mix them, resulting in a less even cover when you pour it into the crust. Also, fresh ingredients make all the difference here! The small expense for fresh herbs is worth it.

Placed your filling into your cooled tart crust and let bake for 30 min at 350 degrees. Let the quiche cool for about 20 minutes when you take it out. This is often key with almond flour baking as it hardens as it cools, giving it more stability and shape.

The key to this dish is using a flavourful high quality smoked salmon or lox. The combination of the rich salmon flavour, delicate flavour of the leek, and the nutty crust is delightful! This tart recalls leisurely Sunday brunches, but with a rustic but elegant flair imparted by the use of the almond meal.  This tart has been made many times since I purchased Elana's cookbook a couple of years ago. J has always loved this, but this past time he just raved.

Serve this dish with a light spinach salad with shaved Pecorino or Parmesan and a crack of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Enjoy and happy cooking!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Cauliflower Rice and foray into the blogging world...

So, for my first post I thought I would talk about a staple, and honestly wonderful vegetable, that I used to hate as a child and never really ate until I gave up the white, starchy rice (and all that goes with it). If you've ever took a look at low-carb recipe websites, you'll see that the cauliflower rice recipe is essentially a staple and it seems everyone has their own recipe.

The first recipe I had ever come across for cauliflower rice was actually not through a blog at all, but through a wonderful, and sadly out of print cookbook titled Low Carb Gourmet by Karen Barnaby. Barnaby is actually a Vancouver chef at the Fish House in Stanley Park, and the book is full of wonderful recipes that are relatively easy to prepare but are no less impressive and delicious. I credit this book with persuading J to realize that eating low carb didn't have to be boring or not nutritious (and thank goodness, could you imagine if your spouse wasn't willing at least eat the same way you did to help you lose weight!!) -- my diet change actually forced us to cook at home (instead of eating so much delicious thai food... mmm) and as a result we ended up eating healthier and eating a ton of fresh vegetables.

I still do have white rice on occasion, and there are some things that I will never substitute it for. Making risotto with cauliflower is an affront to everything I know about making a delicious risotto (thanks, Zia and Nonna!), and I just simply cannot bring myself to make a risotto. Sorry, I'll eat the rice in this case!

So, enough of my yammering -- here's the way that I make Cauliflower Rice:

Cauliflower Rice

1 head of cauliflower, grated or sent through the food processor with the grater/shredder attachment
1 tbsp of butter
Salt to taste (if desired)

Food processors are a wonderful thing, though if you don't have one, you can great it by hand (though you end up with cauliflower everywhere and it takes TONS of time). Anyway, take the shredded cauliflower and melt the butter (or other fat of choice) in a hot pan. You may need to use a large pan depending on the size of your cauliflower -- you need enough room to stir it so the stuff at the bottom doesn't burn. Saute the cauliflower at medium-high until it starts to get tender. This is generally about 10 minutes and you can hear it sizzling in the pan.

And that's it!

No, really, this is probably just as easy as making regular ol' rice. This basic recipe opens you up to a TON of variations. For example, change the butter for 1 tsp sesame oil, add an egg and some green onions and sauteed mushrooms, and you have a super healthy fried rice. I can't really comment on how many servings you'll get, but you'll get a lot. The best thing about cauliflower rice is that it is easily reheated, and doesn't get sticky or weird like traditional rice does. Also, you'll lose that bloated balloon belly feeling you get from eating too much, like at Chinese or Thai restaurants.

Phew! If you read all of that, I thank you! If you've never tried cauliflower rice before, I would recommend giving it a shot. Even though I'm out of the weight loss stage and could eat rice on a regular basis, I actually end up preferring the cauliflower. It makes it easy to get all those healthy vitamins and nutrients -- and eat your vegetables.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 5 May 2012


Hello everyone!

So this is a first attempt at making a blog to document my cooking adventures. Over the last two years, I've changed up my eating and follow a lower-carb, sugar free, and largely grain free diet. But, that doesn't mean I don't love to indulge once in a while!

My love for cooking started with my Nonna many years ago. I enjoyed her homemade Italian cooking and my aunt very wisely took the time to learn these recipes by heart, and teach them to me. Though my diet no longer contains the same pasta and bread staples, I still make these foods to feel close to her and to my family.

Thank you very much for stopping by! I hope you find something helpful on this site. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at .