Sunday, June 16, 2013

Recipe: Low Carb Gluten Free Coconut Cookies

The hunt for the perfect low carb sweet treat continues. These cookies are great because they're low carb, gluten free and nut free meaning you can serve them at school and work functions to cover many diet needs. Due to the high oil and low flour ingredients you should treat this dough as you would shortbread.

Low Carb Gluten Free Coconut Cookies

1/2 cup raw coconut flour
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 tspn baking soda
4 tbpsn butter
2 tbspn coconut oil
1 cup Splenda
1 egg


  • Preheat the oven to 165C (325F)
  • Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well
  • Melt the butter and the coconut oil in the microwave for 20 secs on high
  • Add the melted oils and the egg to the dry ingredients
  • Mix well using an electric hand mixture or wooden spoon
  • Tip the mixture onto parchment paper and knead into a dough
  • Place a second piece of parchment paper over the top of the dough and roll to around 5mm depth
  • Place the rolled dough into the fridge - the oils will need to set slightly before you are able to cut the cookie shapes
  • Cut the dough using a small glass or a cookie cutter - due to the high oil content the dough can be volatile simpler shapes are easier to prepare
  • Reform the ball of dough, the heat from your hands should be enough to make the oils malleable again and then roll flat
  • Repeat until all the mixture is used
  • Place on baking paper and put in the oven to bake for 5-7 minutes
  • Once browned leave to cool on a cooling rack, the dough will firm significantly once cooled
  • Makes around 24 small cookies
  • Macros per cookie; 50 calories, 3.4g carbs (1.5g net), 3.8g fat

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Keto friendly recipes: Low Carb Peanut Butter Cookies

This is my first round of low carb baking and boy is it an easy recipe. 

Low Carb Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup of chunky peanut butter
1 cup of cream cheese
2 eggs
1.5 cups splenda
Whole peanuts for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Measure peanut butter and place in a mixing bowl
  • Put the cream cheese in the microwave for 10 secs to soften then add to the bowl
  • Put eggs and Splenda in the bowl and mix thoroughly. If you use an electric mixer be careful as this batter is very soft and can splash
  • Place baking paper on a baking tin, put a spoon of batter about 2 inches apart for each cookie. Smaller cookies are best as these are very calorie dense
  • Flatten the dough with a fork to form a cookie, these cookies will not spread so the size of  the cookie will remain the same after baking
  • Press one whole roasted peanut into the top of each cookie
  • Bake for 15 mins and then place on a cooling rack once cooked
  • The cookies will be very soft while warm, best to wait until cooled before picking up
  • Makes around 24 cookies 
  • Nutrition below is for the whole batch. Macros per cookie are 92 calories, 3g Carbs (2.3 Net), 7.6g fat

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Keto friendly recipes: Low Carb Vegie Fritters

When you first start out on a low carb diet you think you can never get sick of bacon and eggs. A few months later and you find yourself dragging your feet towards the skillet! Here's my favourite brunch treat - Corn Fritters - made keto friendly.

Low Carb Vegie Fritters

1 capsicum (bell pepper)
1/2 onion
1 cup raw spinach
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying


  • Dice the onions and capsicum into small pieces, about 1cm (1/4 inch) in width
  • Hold the spinach in a bunch with your hand and shred into small slivers
  • Put in a mixing bowl then add the almond flour

Mix the almond flour through until the vegies are coated in the flour
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add salt and pepper and the almond milk and then beat until well mixed

  • Add the liquid egg mix into the mixing bowl and stir well, the almond flour should thicken and cause a batter with the liquid
  • If the consistency is wrong add another tbspn of almond flour

  • Lightly oil a flat pan or skillet and heat on a medium flame
  • Add a wooden spoon full of the vegetable batter to form each fritter
  • Keep on a medium heat or the fritter will burn before the egg and vegetables cook through

  • When the sides of the fritters begin to cook flip quickly with a spatula and fry on the other side until cooked through (should be 2-3 mins or less)

  • Top with your favourite keto friendly toppings - here I have pictured Sour Cream and Tapatio Hot Sauce and Goat Cheese with Basil Pesto
  • This recipe should make 6 fritters - 2 per person is a solid meal. 
  • Nutritional info below is for the whole batch. Macros per person are 301 calories, 9 carbs (6 net), 25g fat.
  • If you want to drop the calories and/or fat then omit the toppings and dust lightly with salt and pepper before serving

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Snapshot: Smokehouse 21, Portland OR

Smokehouse 21 is another fairly new restaurant much touted by Eater's guide to PDX. BBQ is like god's gift to low carb dieting so we just had to combine a diet friendly meal with our love of all things smoked.

Smokehouse 21 smoke all their own meat on site and as we drew closer up the street you could smell the deliciousness and the sweet smoking woods. My mouth was watering already.

I want to own this table

We arrived around 7pm and the place was already busy, we got the last free table and watched as many got turned away considering ourselves very lucky. Despite the busyness the service was fast and friendly.

Bacon Molasses Cornbread with warm honey butter syrup $2USD

This was the boy's starter and disappeared in a moment with many smiles. 

Deviled Eggs with Mustard and Hot Link $4USD

Devilled eggs are starting to make a comeback from the 70s appearing on menus all over the US and I welcome them with open arms. Particularly when topped with sliced, smokey delicious home made sausages.

BBQ Sauces provided free of charge

Rather than assume what sauce you want with your smoked delights they provide a range of fantastic sauces. I loved the hot sauce with the pork but the mustard sauce complimented the hot links perfectly. 

Combo plate with choice of meats and sides $18USD

You can choose from a range of wonderful meats and sides for the combo plate. I chose Brisket, Hot Links and Pulled Pork which are my favourites. The sides include plenty of heavier options like BBQ Beans, Coleslaw and Mac'n'Cheese but I chose the carb friendly coleslaw and pickled vegetables. I love that so many Portland restaurants seem to make fresh seasonal pickled vegetables. 

This is casual dining done very well. Beautiful meats, solid service, reasonable prices. I only wish that the restaurant were more than a few tables so that all those sad looking people turned away could have gotten in. They do take away though and for BBQ this good I would turn a blind eye to a guilty fan eating in their car.

Smokehouse 21

413 NW 21st Avenue
Portland, Oregon

Casual dining, boutique BBQ
Vegetarians need not apply

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

What I'm watching right now...

I watch a lot of food television; in fact with 500 odd channels all I seem to do is default back to the Food Network and Travel Channel. If like many people I know your'e in a country without Food Network or just don't watch live broadcast TV to know what's on then you might find my current TV roundup of interest. Don't worry I still watch Top Chef and I miss the Australian MasterChef like the blazes but these are the 'new finds' and American classics I love.

Restaurant Impossible

I am simply shocked I had not heard of this show until I moved to the US. Robert Irving is like a slightly more lovable Gordon Ramsay. Unlike the US edition of Kitchen Nightmares which focuses on family meltdowns and drama drama drama Restaurant Impossible works on the fundamentals of food businesses. Good food, health code compliance, dish budgeting and service management all feature. Irving with his gruff manliness and delightful sledgehammer wielding ways don't hurt either. I love this show so much I watched 6 Seasons back to back.

The Layover

Anthony Bourdain highlights whirlwind foodie adventures in hot commuter locations like Singapore, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Places you get stuck with no time, no idea what's going on and a 6am airport deadline. As a regular traveller and a Bourdain fan this is perfect content and less derivative than Bourdain's other current TV shows.

Restaurant Stakeout

Gruff but successful business men seems to be the formula America loves but this show is a watchable and somewhat terrifying look into food businesses. The premise is a "when the cats away" scenario where the owner of a business calls in the restauranteur host to identify problematic staff and processes. Armed with many hidden cameras and a series of mystery diners presenting 'challenges' like allergies, forgotten wallets and dropped orders they identify thieves, gamblers, drinkers and shitty servers time and time again. Watch for the episodes where someone is running another business from the owner's restaurant.

Food Network Star

Famous for being the reality competition show that launched the stellar career of Guy Fieri Food Network Star is not a cooking competition per se but a media personality search akin to Idol or X Factor. They're looking for someone who can host a TV show, not necessarily someone who is an amazing foodie. Be ready for some cringe inducing camera tests and the occasional fame hunter.  That being said it's a great insight into the behind the scene creation of a great TV host and you get to see some interesting food along the way.

Eat Street

The gourmet food truck revolution is one that I welcome with open arms. Eat Street is a 'best pick of the litter' guide to awesome trucks from all over the US. They take real small business owners and walk through great recipes and snacks.

Diners, Drive ins and Dives

So you do get a little sick of it on repeat day in and day out but the format is very watchable, Fieri is charismatic and enthusiastic and the food is down home comfort delicious. There's nothing high faluting here but if you like sandwiches, dumplings and great diner food this is very upbeat feel good foodie TV. They also have a great food map for finding locations throughout the US.

Shows to avoid

There is a lot of food TV out there and that means there's a lot of bad food TV. Sometimes bad shows happen to good people. Here are the runts of the litter.

  • The Taste - Trying to turn The Voice format into a Food competition based on what amounts to an amuse bouche. Embarrassingly bad.
  • Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell - This woman is like a train wreck. Her voice, her hair, her food. It's like Phyllis Diller the Food Star.
  • Chopped - This show just seems pointless to me. They run an entire food competition end to end in 1 hour, meaning you have no opportunity to care about the contestants.
  • Unique Eats - You know I *want* to love this show about unique food and boutique eateries but the reviews are scripted by the stores themselves and then read by Cooking show hosts. Painful in its delivery.
  • Sandwich King - The premise is simple and awesome. Find, make and eat great sammiches. I love sammiches! Unfortunately the hosts speaking style makes me want to eat my own face.
  • Mystery Diners - This wants to be Restaurant Stakeout but the host is clueless and the 'mystery diners' are 4th rate actors that stand out like a sore thumb. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review: Raven and Rose, Portland OR

Let's start with saying that Portland is my kind of town. Everywhere you look there are food carts, boutique coffee roasters, farmers markets and a plethora of delicious sounding restaurants. The Eater Where to Eat Now guides have become my new bible for travelling in the US (along with Where Chefs Eat) and Raven and Rose had all the signs of being exactly the kind of restaurant I like.

Housed in the historic Ladd Carriage House Raven and Rose has a Poe-esque setting sure to appeal to a goth on a foodie adventure. More importantly though it has a menu heavy on quirky meat offerings and regional wines that sits well with my tastes. 

I have a terrible habit of messing with the course orders of fine dining restaurants, ordering sides as appetizers, mixing plates and sharing family style. The staff at Raven and Rose were happy to accommodate without the slightest complaint. Dishes appeared in the combination and order we requested and they chuckled at our intent on traversing the entire menu. As seems standard in large restaurants in the US we were served by separate greeters, waitresses and sommeliers all of whom kept a steady pace and charming manner. No snooty wine suggestions or forgetful servers to be found just great service from start to finish. 

2001 R. Lopez de Heredia “Vina Tondonia Reserva”, Rioja SPA, Tempranillo  $75USD

Since we were going for mostly rich land animal proteins I went for this Rioja Tempranillo, delicious and the right price. This is definitely a wine that needs a few years though, don't order it if they're offering 2006 or after. This bottle was perfectly aged with a soft smoothness that cut through the rich meat. 

Steak tartare  $14USD

We're avid raw meat fans so steak tartare was a must. This was fantastic, excellent quality meat chopped to have texture but still smooth enough to eat raw. The spice mix however was the real winner with fresh green herbs and just the right punch of chilli. The dressing had a slight acidic quality that paired perfectly with the wine. 

Farmhouse terrine  $9USD

You know how you win me over heart and soul? Terrines and pates. Add in fresh seasonal vegetables pickled in house and a healthy serving of good quality seeded mustard and I'm in love. The great thing about this dish was that the vegetables were crisp and tart, setting off the rich smoothness of the terrine. Given that I eat primarily carb free this gave a much needed texture juxtaposition. 

Farm egg & wild greens $10USD

With all that meat we needed a few greens to cut through the fat. A farmhouse egg soft boiled is also a favourite of ours. Just look at the colour and quality of that egg, I haven't seen an egg like that since we left Japan. In the US produce of this quality is rare, saying a lot about the food culture of the kitchen at Raven and Rose.

Flatiron Steak $25USD

Flatiron steak seems to be a bit of a trend in the US food scene at the moment; getting the most out of a cheaper cut in expensive animals like Wagyu breeds. Accordingly this was the off menu special of the day. The steak is treated well with a slow roast that takes out the toughness that Flatiron can have. The jus was a delicious red wine reduction served with caramelised onion and a soft French blue. Only complaint? Americans can't stop themselves cutting your meat before they serve it to you. If you like a rarer beef as the boy does this prevents a problem as the temperature changes quickly.

Rabbit two ways, buttermilk biscuit, creamed spinach $25USD

You can almost guarantee that if there's a rabbit on the menu I will order it; even as a child I was more interested in eating bunnies than owning them. The haunch and breast of the rabbit were served with the perfect moistness - as difficult to achieve with rabbit as with turkey. I often order creamed spinach as a side - and in fact was about to do so until I realised that it came with my meal. This rendition didn't disappoint, rich, smooth and creamy and perfectly paired with the rabbit. Sadly I had to forgo the biscuit but the boy assures me it was delicious. 

Beetroot salad walnuts, endive, goat cheese $11USD

Another attempt to muck with the menu I ordered the beet salad instead of any of their listed sides. To be honest this was probably the only dish that we ordered that I wasn't wowed by. Goats cheese and beats still seems to be novelty in the US and I guess this pairing was meant to be enough on its own but really... I've had better and the puree at the bottom of the bowl left us confused. 

Butterscotch pudding, whipped cream, toasted streusel   $8USD

Eventually we will get used to US food terminology (that's a Plat principal not an Entree!) but when the boy ordered this pudding we were surprised to get what amounted to a cream pot when we were expecting a bread pudding. Not that he left a single drop in the quaint country style Mason jar. 

Lime parfait, spice biscuit, salted caramel $8USD

You might think this is my dessert but no, no cheese course and no low carb dessert options I ordered only a coffee and cognac. This is actually the boy's *second* dessert. They delivered this by mistake, fixed the mistake immediately and left the plate to a delighted but very full man. 

A nod to the after dinner drinks is also in order here. The coffee was perfectly made, strong European style coffee without the usual end of meal disappointment that so often comes with coffee in the US. They included Flights of drinks as well and while I was swayed by the Cognac flight at $44USD this was steep even though it included a very tempting Camus XO. 

Not that the prices at Raven and Rose are unreasonable, in fact when the bill came I had to snort and signed happily even after a hefty tip to the excellent serving staff. In Australia this meal would have come in a good $250 more expensive.

Summary? Food in the US can be a horrifying ethical horrorfest or a delightful boutique experience; Raven and Rose provided one of the best meals I have had since moving to this country. Good service, good choices, seasonal excellent produce and a charming location next to leafy parks. Add in a set of dish choices that seems custom made to my palette and I will be thinking fondly of this meal for years to come. 

Raven & Rose

1331 SW Broadway, Portland, OR ‎
(503) 222-7673

High end farmhouse comfort food
Worth a stop when travelling the Pacific Northwest

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