Thursday, January 18, 2007
A COUPLE OF OLD FAVORITE FAT-FREE RECIPES
We don't eat fat-free, but I try to keep the fat to a minimum, for various reasons. Here are a coupld of our favorite recipes that are fat-free or made with minimal fat, but still are enjoyable.
With many recipes, you can lower the fat, or even eliminate it, by steam-frying onions, etc., instead of sauteing them. (See the bottom of this post for how to do this.) To do this, use a well-seasoned stir-fry pan (flat-bottomed wok). Alternately, use a heavy well-seasoned cast iron or anodized aluminum skillet, lightly lubricated with about 1/2 teaspoon of oil brushed onto the cold pan with your fingertips. (Stainless steel and carbon steel pans can also be seasoned to have an almost-non-stick surface. Just Google "How to season a stainless steel skillet" or whichever type you want to make nonstick.)
When I do add fat, I tend to use a little bit of dark roasted sesame oil most often, because a little bit adds alot of flavor.
Creamy bean-based broccoli-cauliflower soup with smoked paprika and dill garnish
BRYANNA'S CREAMY BROCCOLI-CAULIFLOWER-AND-WHITE BEAN SOUP
A very simple concept-- you simmer cooked white beans with whatever vegetable you like , then puree it for a thick and creamy soup, without potatoes, starches, butter, cream, or nuts.
1 1/2 cups well-cooked or canned white beans (15 ounce can), rinsed and drained (such as white kidney beans, cannellini beans, navy beans, or Great Northern beans)
1/2 a medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/2 pound fresh broccoli, trimmed and chopped
1/2 pound fresh cauliflower, trimmed and chopped
2 cups chicken-style vegetarian broth (Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken is my favorite)
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Steam-fry (see the bottom of this post for how to do this) the onion and garlic for 5 minutes over high heat in a large well-seasoned heavy skillet sprayed with a little oil from a pump sprayer, adding drops of water as needed to keep from sticking. (Or cook in a microwave oven in a covered microwave-proof casserole for 3 minutes.) Don't brown the onions.
Add this to the beans, vegetables, broth, and salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down to medium-low, and simmer about 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Puree right in the pot with an immersion/stick blender, OR, with a slotted spoon, transfer all the solids to the food processor or blender and puree until smooth. (Important caution: Leave an escape in the lid for steam, or else hot veggies will explode all over you!). Add a bit of the broth, then stir the pureed mixture back into the pot. Taste for salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with dried dill weed and smoked paprika or sweet paprika.
Nutrition (per serving): 129.7 calories; 3% calories from fat; 0.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 268.3mg sodium; 745.3mg potassium; 24.0g carbohydrates; 4.5g fiber; 0.9g sugar; 19.5g net carbs; 9.9g protein; 1.8 points.
Blueberry pancakes made with half oat flour and half wholewheat pastry flour
BRYANNA'S BLUEBERRY-OAT PANCAKES
Yield: makes about 24 four-inch pancakes
This is a great basic high-fiber, but very light and tender pancake recipe, due to the oat flour and wholewheat pastry flour.
1 1/2 cups oat flour ( you can use 1 1/3 cups rolled oats ground fine in a dry blender or, in batches, in a clean dry electric coffee/spice mill)
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (do not substitute ordinary whole wheat flour or the pancakes will be tough)
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large pinch nutmeg
1 large pinch cinnamon
2 cups minus 1 Tbs nondairy milk
1 cup water
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup small fresh or frozen blueberries, placed in a small sieve over a bowl to drain
In a large bowl, whisk the oat flour, pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon together well. Add the soymilk, water, lemon juice, oil, and vanilla. Stir briefly, just to mix-- lumps are okay. (This batter is a little more runny than ordinary pancake batter.)
Heat a nonstick electric griddle (which cooks very evenly), or a well-seasoned cast iron griddle or skillet, over high heat. When it's hot (drops of water dance on the surface when sprinkled on, the disappear quickly), turn it down to medium-high (about 325 degrees F for electric griddle). Spray with a little oil from a pump sprayer. Spoon the batter onto the surface, not crowding, because they spread a little. You can make small pancakes, about 4" across , or larger ones, whichever you prefer.
Sprinkle a few blueberries over the top of the pancake immediately after forming the pancake batter in the pan.
When bubbles appear on the tops, flip the pancakes over gently, loosening the bottoms carefully.
When the underside is golden and the inside is cooked (you can check one with a fork to make sure), serve them immediately. Don't overcook these-- they should still be kind of puffy when you take them off the griddle. If you let them overcook, they'll go flat and won't be as light and cakey as they should be. Serve hot with low-sugar syrup or fruit topping, such as low-sugar jam.
Nutrition (per 4 pancakes): 177.2 calories; 19% calories from fat; 3.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 566.7mg sodium; 338.2mg potassium; 31.0g carbohydrates; 5.1g fiber; 4.5g sugar; 25.9g net carbs; 6.9g protein; 3.1 points.
BRYANNA’S METHOD OF STEAM-FRYING
Steam-Frying, or Sautéing without Fat (including caramelizing)
Steam-frying simply means sautéing or stir-frying without fat. To do this, use a well-seasoned stir-fry pan (flat-bottomed wok). Alternately, use a heavy well-seasoned cast iron or anodized aluminum skillet, lightly lubricated with about 1/2 teaspoon of oil brushed onto the cold pan with your fingertips. (Stainless steel and carbon steel pans can also be seasoned to have an almost-non-stick surface. (Just Google "How to season a stainless steel skillet" or whichever type you want to make nonstick.)
Heat the pan over medium heat, add the chopped onions or other vegetablesyou are using (sometimes referred to as “aromatics”), salt them lightly to bring out the natural liquids, which helps soften the vegetables, and add one or two tablespoons of liquid (water, low-sodium vegetarian broth, or wine), depending on the amount of vegetables. Do not crowd the pan, or your vegetables will stew. Turn up the heat to high and cook over high heat until the liquid starts to evaporate, stirring with a wooden or plastic spatula or spoon. Keep stirring until the vegetables are done to your liking, adding just enough liquid to keep the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Variations: (PS: I collect Pyrex casseroles, bowls and lids from thrift stores to use in the microwave.)
*To “Micro-Steam-Fry”, use a microwave-safe glass dish, such as a round 10” Pyrex casserole dish or pie plate. Add the chopped onions, garlic, carrots, celery, or whatever vegetables you want to sauté. Cover the dish with a Pyrex lid or microwavable plate, and microwave 5 minutes, or however long it takes to soften them. This method is convenient because you don’t have to watch the vegetables— you can be preparing the rest of the recipe while they cook. Just add the softened vegetables to the recipe. This method is not great for browning, however.
* You can brown, or caramelize, onions without fat perfectly by tweaking the steam-fry method. You will need to use a heavy large, heavy seasoned skillet-- see first paragraph.
Combine your thinly-sliced onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt for each 2 large onions, in medium microwave-safe bowl or casserole. Cover with a microwave-safe plate or lid (not touching the onion), and microwave on high power until onions begin to soften and tips turn slightly translucent, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking (be careful of steam). If you cook more than 2 large onions, it will take longer.
Place the cooked onions in your heavy well-seasoned skillet (see first paragraph) over high heat. As soon as the natural sugar in the onions starts to brown on the bottom and edges of the pan, add a little liquid and, using a wooden or plastic spoon or spatuala, scrape up the brown bits, mixing them into the liquids and around into the cooking onions. Keep doing this until the onions are soft and brown as you like them, being careful not to scorch them. You can keep going until the onions are dark brown if you want them caramelized.