Tomato Labneh Salad

When life gives you soured yogurt. . . make labneh!

When our power was out for a day due to Hurricane Irene, I opted to put more perishable food items in a cooler with ice packs, but left my raw milk yogurt in the fridge (realizing it would come to room temperature). This is because yogurt has a “keeping” quality that allows it to be at room temp for limited time (a day or two) without spoilage, even if the yogurt is made from pasteurized milk. Mine was made from raw milk, though, and while it certainly didn’t *spoil*, it did sour, much like regular raw milk sours at room temperature (or “clabbers”) due to the enzymes and lactobacilli, I believe. Perfectly and safely edible, just puckery. No amount of honey mixed in would help matters.

So I made labneh with it, or “yogurt cheese.” Basically you drain out the whey via this method, and you have left a cream cheese type of consistency that can be spread on fruit or veggies or crackers.  Whey is sour-tasting, and I figured that whey in a soured product would be even more sour, so I drained it out to make the yogurt less potent. It was still a sour product, but much more edible, especially as a topping instead of by the bowl-full.

A few days ago for lunch I threw together this salad with ingredients I had on hand, and it was delicious! The flavors meshed well together. I think a drizzle of toasted sesame oil would also work really well, or sunflower seeds would be a nice addition for “crunch.”

Tomato Labneh Salad

1 large tomato
sea salt
labneh (yogurt cheese)
a handful of raisins
olive oil
raw honey

Directions: Roughly chop tomato and place in bowl. Lightly salt tomato pieces; then add chunks  of labneh. Throw on a handful of raisins, then drizzle with olive oil and raw honey. Eat.

And just some shameless progeny-promotion –  my lunchmate:

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Grain-free Clafoutis

Oh yum. Last year I discovered clafoutis via my friend Jessica. In typical Jessica-fashion, her recipe to me ran something along the lines of “a dash of this, a handful of this,” so I tried to translate that as best I could into general measurements (I rarely measure when I cook, but I almost always measure when I bake!) for a recipe, which became a hit with our family last year.

Then I went off grains in January and my recipe sat collecting proverbial dust while I pined away for clafoutis. Thankfully I realized a few weeks ago that DUH I could try making a grain-free version, so I bought some frozen blueberries (my favorite fruit for clafoutis) that then sat in my freezer until today. We’re bracing for Irene here in Hartford, and I’m looking at all the food in my fridge and freezer and trying to frantically use up as much as I can. Not only do the blueberries need using, but I also had 7 dozen eggs as of yesterday (more like 3 dozen now – some eaten, some baked into breads and frozen) and 2 gallons of kefir that I’ve been trying to eat or bake into things. Voila! Perfect time for clafoutis! Here is the recipe I created, which we all enjoyed. I plan to make another one tomorrow, as the first is almost gone, and the second one I’ll refrigerate and we can always pull it out to eat if the power goes.

Grain-free Clafoutis

1/2 stick butter (to melt in pan)
3/4 cup almond flour
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups kefir (or milk or cream or yogurt or probably even coconut milk)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of vanilla
1 1/2 cups (approximately) of frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a 10″ cast iron skillet in the oven while it heats.

Meanwhile  place almond flour in bowl and break up clumps (almond flour tends to clump). Whisk in eggs to flour, followed by kefir. Then add honey, salt, and vanilla and incorporate. Remove cast iron skillet from oven and melt 1/2 stick butter in skillet, swirling around to coat bottom. Add frozen blueberries and spread to a single layer. Pour batter over berries and bake for approximately 1 hour, until set in middle.

Herbed Nuts (with a little kick)

My friend Anna posted this recipe to Facebook a while back and I saved it in the hopes I’d eventually try making it. Today I finally got around to it, as I was trying to find an idea to round out a birthday gift. They were delicious. Adrian thought they were fantastic. The original recipe called for pecans and walnuts, but I substituted almonds for pecans (since I had the former and not the latter) and they went well.

Herbed Nuts

Yield: 4 cups

4 cups nuts (I used 2 cups almonds, 2 cups walnuts)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered sage
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients and spread on a large ungreased cookie sheet with sides. Bake for ~20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Cool and store in airtight container.

Salmon Egg Salad

We’ve been eating more fish around here lately, and one of my favorite fish options is canned salmon. I can get canned wild salmon at my local store for $2/can (14.75 oz.), which is a great price! One of my favorite uses for canned salmon is salmon patties, but there are plenty of other good options! One option is to make a salmon egg salad, in a similar vein to a chicken salad, a tuna salad, or egg salad. Salmon Egg Salad is yummy to serve over a bed of lettuce, between slices of bread for a sandwich (if you are able), or rolled up in a crepe. Like any salad of this kind, exact measurements are not necessary, and I didn’t do any measuring when I did this one. Follow along with my very basic directions, and tweak to your own taste and available ingredients:

I started with a 14.75 oz. can of wild Alaskan salmon. The kind I buy has skin and bones included. All is supposed to be edible, but I admit to removing the skin. The bones crush up easily and are quite edible.

Next I pulled out my salad spinner from the fridge and fished around in leftover salad for miscellaneous chopped vegetables.

I found some chopped celery and carrots, and added that to my salmon.

I hardboiled a pot of eggs to use, making extras for snacking.

I ended up using 5 of the eggs in the salad. Here they are chopped up:

Then I added a sprinkling of salt and pepper and some raisins. I love the way raisins go with salmon.

And finally, I added just enough kefir to coat everything. Yogurt also works well. Neither has an untoward flavor in this combination, in my opinion, as there are plenty of other strong flavors to overcome the non-mayo effect :-).A dab of mustard would also work well, but I didn’t bother this time around.

Yum!

Dessert for Dinner

Cookies and Ice Cream. Sunday supper :-). Sounds terribly imbalanced, but really not all that bad, nutritionally. The ice cream was 3 cups of kefir mixed with 1/2 cup honey and a bit of vanilla, with chopped up strawberries. Sounds more like health food to me! And I’ve already posted the cookie recipe. Hardly bad for you ;-). If I’d had farm fresh eggs on hand, I would have added a few yolks to the ice cream for added nutrition and texture, but alas, I was out and only had store eggs, which I don’t trust raw.

Scallops with Sausage and Apples

(There’s actually more sausage than scallops in this recipe, but “Sausage with Scallops and Apples” didn’t have the right ring to it.)

I’ve been trying to incorporate more seafood into our diet, and a few weeks ago I bought a 1 lb. bag of frozen scallops. Today I finally pulled it out to thaw and decided that we WERE having them for dinner tonight, barring unforseen circumstances. I just didn’t have a foggy clue how to prepare them (minor detail). So I did some googling and discovered that the vast majority of scallop recipes use either bacon or pasta or both, and I certainly can’t have pasta, and sugar-free AND nitrite-free bacon is awfully hard (and $$$) to come by. . . so I was going to have to improvise. A friend on Facebook pointed me to this recipe for scallops, which granted had plenty of GAPS-unfriendly items, but I thought I could at least use it for a springboard, so here is what I made:

 

Scallops with Sausage and Apples

1 lb. sausage (I used a mild homemade turkey sausage)
2 small onions, chopped (or 1 large – this isn’t rocket science)
1 medium apple, chopped (I used Golden delicious)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 lb. frozen scallops, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Saute sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. When the sausage is about halfway done, add the onions, followed in a few minutes by the apples (this gives the meat a headstart in cooking – I made up this technique, but I think it does help in making these sorts of preparations). After sausage is cooked through, add thyme and cook and stir to blend flavors. Then add scallops and cook, stirring frequently, just until done, 3-5 minutes. Scallops, so says google, do not like to be overdone, so I was careful to pull the skillet off the heat as soon as the scallops were opaque, and we got a decent texture.

 

I served this along side green peas for me, and Adrian and Hans ate it with peas and baked potatoes. Potatoes probably aren’t a standard paring, but we have potatoes that need eating, and they didn’t complain ;-). All in all, the dish had a nice pleasing flavor, the sausage and the scallops melded well, and the apple was a subtle background flavor, with thyme a bit stronger, but nice. Adrian thinks that that the ratio of scallops to sausage could be increased (this had more sausage than scallops, by volume), but I liked it as is just fine (so did he; just a preference for the other). Next time I might try two bags of scallops per 1 lb. sausage, though, because I do think that would work well.

Grain-Free Meatloaf

Mmmm. (Okay, pretend I got a better picture, and imagine a nice piece on your plate, smothered in homemade ketchup. Work with me here, please?)

Regardless of whether you’re grain-free or not, this recipe is still a winner. This meatloaf packs extra eggs, almonds (in the form of flour), even butternut squash. And you really, truly can’t tell. Even my dad ate it (and he hates squash, like REALLY hates squash). Making meatloaf is an art, not a science. You need some meat (duh!), some sort of dry grain-like substance (flour, oatmeal, etc.), some sort of wet binder (tomatoes, usually), eggs, and seasoning. Everything else is optional, and ratios can be flexible. Katie at Kitchen Stewardship had a great post giving basic suggestions for ingredients and ratios. Very helpful! I used her suggestions to create my own GAPS-friendly meatloaf. You’ll note that my recipe uses more eggs than usual. . . this is because (a) they’re really good for you, and (b) I used some coconut flour as part of my flour in the recipe, and coconut flour soaks up a lot of egg for very little flour. Here’s what I created:

Line up of all the ingredients (ignoring all the extra kitchen appliances that are cluttering the picture :-P) . . .

And everything plopped in the bowl, with the pans awaiting stuffing. . .

Grain-Free Meatloaf

5-6 lbs ground beef (or other ground meat)
2/3 cup coconut flour
1- 1/2 cups almond flour
2 cups squash
6-12 oz. tomato paste
10 eggs
2 cups diced onion
8 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 t powder)
4 teaspoons salt
4-5 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Mix all. Press/form into pans (can make meatloaf or meatballs) and bake at 350 degrees until done – approximately 1 hour, 20-30 minutes for meatballs. With this amount of mixture, I can fill a 9×13 casserole, an 8×11 casserole, a large loaf pan, and still have enough left to get about 25 meatballs in a 9×9 square casserole.

I like to slice up the extras into squares, and flash freeze on cookie sheets, then pop them off and throw them in ziplocs. Makes for easy leftovers on I-am-too-exhausted-or-busy-to-make-supper nights :-).

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