Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Little Cake's Book Nook: Eat, Pray , Love!

As many of you know my goal for the year is to trim down the mountains of books I've accumulated....the plan was two books a month. Between crafting and blogging, it looks like my plate is only big enough for 1 book a month!

March book menu: Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The premise- 30 year old writer and divorcee, sets on a path to "escape" her sorrow for a year.
She packs up her bags and divides her time in 3 different countries in her struggle to find balance.
I enjoyed her style of writing it was like talking to a good friend, one that puts it all on the table.

This was a book I ate slowly, I really did savor every page, every chapter...I enjoyed her journey- from her most indulgent and decadent wanderings/waivering thru Italia to hugging trees in India it all just sang to me. The book made me curious on several levels, especially her spiritual journey. I was enchanted by her quotes, her sassy sense of humor and the idea of finding words to match a city or yourself. I giggled thru so much of her book and her inner voices. I was charmed by all of the people she met along the way and really enjoyed her path to this nirvana and back to earth again. I was truly delighted through most of this journey and felt as if I too had had a little escape.
I love a book that leads me outside of my current thought process ...this book has inspired me to want to look deeper into my spiritual connections, the powers of meditation and yoga and definitely a trip to Bali in hopefully the very near future!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patricks day...and irish tamales?

Ah St.Paddy’s day…culturally speaking, being raised in a Latino household - St. Patrick’s day does not commonly mean the wearin’ o the green!

Despite my roots, my childhood "Americanization" started early on (I was born in Washington, DC) and my mother gleefully embraced all North American “culture”, be it macaroons at Passover/Easter on sale at Safeway or the cute green clover cookies in the bakery in March. As a young mom in the 70’s she embraced recipes that were just as foreign as the land she now called home and delighted in it. My Salvadorian mother makes a mean shepherds pie!

I was blessed with the opportunity to live in Ireland in my 20’s and will always look upon that time as magical. Ireland was truly the Emerald Isle I’d imagined it to be. I’d never seen such lovely rolling green hills all dotted with little cotton balls (actually sheep)all over the country side, enjoying these sites as I rattled along in trains from one end of the country to the other sipping my Lucazaid (tastes like a sparkling , not so sweet Gatorade) and smokin’ “fags” (slang for cigarettes- rid of that habit thank goodness!).

Though many years have passed since my last visit to Eire, I hold dear in my heart all of my fond memories and the beautiful people who crossed my path.

In Homage to the Saint, his adopted country, and the true Irish spirit of the Shamrock and its meaning- my low carb St. Paddy's day dinner!

Starter: Dublin Bay Prawn Cocktail Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes

(photo istock .com)

Ingredients: * 1cup peeled, cooked prawns or shrimp * 2 tbsp mayonnaise * 1/2 tbsp creamed horseradish sauce * 1/2 tbsp tomato ketchup * 1 cups shredded Romaine or iceberg lettuce * 1 lime, quartered * 2 large, cooked prawns, shelled with tail on (garnish) Preparation: Serves 2 * Place the prawns, mayonnaise, creamed horseradish and tomato ketchup into a mixing bowl. Stir to combine all the ingredients; make sure all the prawns or shrimp are coated in sauce . * Divide the shredded lettuce between 2 large wine glasses and top with the prawns and sauce. * Decorate with a wedge of lime and a large prawn on the edge of the glass and serve with small slices of buttered brown bread (or not)

Main Course:

Salmon- The mythical Irish Fish of Wisdom.

Poached "Shannon" Salmon w/ Picatta Cream Sauce (Eating Well magazine) recipe dubbed "Shannon" Salmon by little old me!
· 1/2 lb center-cut salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 2 portions
· ½ cup dry white wine, divided
· 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 small shallot, minced
· 1 tablespoons lemon juice
· 2 tsp capers, rinsed
· 1/8 cup reduced-fat sour cream (for lower carb – use full fat)
· 1/8 teaspoon salt
· 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1. Place salmon in a large skillet. Add ¼ cup wine and enough water to just cover the salmon. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, turn the salmon over, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ¼ cup wine; boil until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and capers; cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and salt. To serve, top the salmon with the sauce and garnish with dill.
Per serving: 304 calories; 16 g fat ( 4 g sat , 7 g mono ); 73 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 0 g fiber; 307 mg sodium; 500 mg potassium.
Accompaniment :
Steamed Asparagus

Bailey’s Butter-Pecan Creme Brulee ( a recipe for 2- double recipe for 4)
(Low Carb –Sugar free!)

1 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1/4 tspvanilla
dash of caramel extract (if you can find it for the “baileys” flavoring)
Dash of salt
1 tablespoons Splenda

Heat cream over medium heat, just until bubbles start to form.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, salt and Splenda.
Gradually whisk in cream.
Strain mixture.
Divide into two custard cups.
Bake in a water bath for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Custards should be set, but still jiggly.
Chill for one hour.
Make butter-pecan topping and divide between between cups.
Refrigerate for four more hours or overnight.

Butter-Pecan Topping:
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 cup pecans - finely chopped
1 teaspoon Splenda

Melt butter.
Stir in pecans and Splenda.
Heat just until nuts begin to color, being careful not to burn!
3 to 4 carbs per serving

Served with :
Irish Coffee
Happy St. Patricks day!
Remember to find a way to make every day a reason to celebrate.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Low carbin' Mardi Gras style!

My days of Mardi Gras - party time are long time ago and nothing but fuzzy memories anymore, but I still like a themed "to do"... so for tonight in honor of Fat Tuesday, I've whipped up a little something special for Tuesday night dinner along with themed table scape and beads and masks to boot!

What is Mardi Gras?

(pronounced /ˈmɑrdiɡrɑː/ Mardigras began as a christian European tradition- it's the season of carnival that generally begins on the epiphany (January 6th) thru Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday in french, it refers to the last of the fat laden, sinfully delicious feasting the tuesday before the fasting of the lenten season commences for Ash Wednesday. Generally personal sacrifices are made during the lenten season, some people give up sweets, meat, booze, anything that requires a sacrifice as a show of penance.

These carnival celebrations are recognized and symbolically celebrated through out the Americas and Europe. There is Carnival in the Caribbean, Carnevale in Italy, Fastnacht in Germany, and of course in New Orleans which really made the celebration a well known in the States as it is - Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras - in Ireland and England they celebrate Fat Tuesday with pancakes, it's called Shrove Tuesday, unfortunately for me pancakes are not low carb...so I'm taking my Mardi Gras inspiration from the Big Easy- New Orleans!

Chicken Gumbo
(for two -with left overs for lunch)

Boil chicken breast in water with a tbsp salt and a small onion
boil till chicken is no longer pink. Cut in to cubes.

Saute in a bit of evoo/butter:
4 celery ribs, sliced medium
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves
2 chicken andouille sausages from Trader Joe's cut in to rounds
1 can of chicken broth
1 can of sugar free diced tomatoes
1/2 bag of sliced okra (frozen)
Chicken chunks
24 Shrimp
I added the shrimp last as I didn't want it to get rubbery.

Just cook the whole mess for about 30 minutes and you've got a roux-less gumbo, the okra is a natural thickener, voila low carb gumbo!

This partnered with a green salad topped with fried green tomatoes...in which I used pork rinds instead of cornmeal and fry in oil and then top with my take on shrimp remoulade!

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll!