Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!


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Finally a chance to bake!

The only roommate that was still here with me moved out this week (the other three went home when the campuses closed and will be back for school in September.) I am currently all alone and very happy about it! I’ve been holed up in my room to avoid people and the virus, but now I have the run of the place and KNOW that once I’ve cleaned it will stay clean.  And… I can now hang out in the  living room and watch TV again! I haven’t done that in over two months.

After spending two hours cleaning and disinfecting the common area, the kitchen, sorting out the communal cupboards, clearing out the fridge of mouldy mystery things, slimy vegetables, solidified cream cheese (the tub actually rattled!) and a multitude of opened jars and bottles with BB dates a year or two ago, it is looking good out there.

I finally had a chance to use up the leftover almond flour I had from February. I used all of it which was maybe two cups worth, psyllium husk powder (didn’t use all of that), shredded coconut (possibly about two cups too, it thickly covered the bottom of a 10″ frying pan when I toasted it first,) baking powder, salt, about three tablespoons of melted butter (was three heaping soup spoons out of the butter dish,) three eggs and a glug of cream. I did not measure anything as the purpose was to use up the almond flour AND the coconut (which was left over from Christmas – I had it in the freezer.)

I almost added aged cheddar… I was going back and forth on that idea. Even got it and the grater out when getting set-up. But changed my mind. It would have been good with the coconut, but I thought this might be more cookie than biscuit when done, so decided to leave it out.

I combined the dry in a bowl, dumped in the melted butter and mixed well, then added the rest of the wet, and combined. I let it rest for a couple of minutes to allow the batter to thicken and absorb the moisture.

Then used a soup spoon to drop rough rounds onto a parchment covered baking sheet. I sprayed the parchment with a non-stick spray first as this was cheap parchment and I’ve had bad luck with it.

Baked at 425F for something like 20 minutes, then turned it down to 350F and watched them. I was puttering in the kitchen so just kept checking them until the bottoms were nicely browned. Then I tested one – sometimes these ingredients don’t dry out in the middle too well… but it was dryish. So pulled them out. And put on  a paper towel to cool.

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They’re great! And really held their shape. Last time I made baking powder biscuits with almond flour, they spread out like pancakes, these ones stayed up and don’t crumble, and have a really nice crumb.

Very buttery as I put in so much butter, and the coconut is there but not overpowering. I am glad I decided to toast it before adding to the mix.

All in all really excellent! I’ve always made baking powder biscuits without recipes and never measured. Now that I only use low carb ingredients it gets more challenging, but I guess I’ve finally figured it out! Of course… the next time may not work out as well.

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Cookies!

I’ve been missing cookies quite a bit lately – it being the season and all.  And my sister is providing a play-by-play of her baking which makes me miss them even more.

Just something about the crisp crunch with a cup of tea, ya know?

I check out recipes all the time for low carb cookies – they invariably contain sugar substitutes, which I don’t use.

A recipe for “gluten free” cookies showed up the other day – which looked like something that I could alter.

I adjusted things to suit myself and I am so happy!  They turned out really well – like shortbread.  I’m really hoping they stay the texture they are and don’t soften up.  I have to stop eating them for the day though – as I added 70% chocolate chips to them and don’t want to go over on that!

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Pecan Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies

1 cup butter (8 oz.)

1/2 cup cream cheese (4 oz.)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla (or any flavour extract you like, almond, etc. – next time I am going to use lemon zest!)

2 cups almond flour (16 oz.)

1/2 cup coconut flour (4 oz)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans (4 oz)

1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate (or higher if you can find them) chips (4 oz)

Cream the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time.  Continue beating to incorporate each before adding the next.

Add in the combined dry ingredients a cup at a time, beating well between additions.

The dough will be pretty sticky.  Lay out some plastic wrap and dump the dough onto it, shape into a roll, wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours (overnight is good.)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut the roll into slices a little less than 1/2 inch thick – thinner tended to break-up due to the nuts and chocolate chips.  Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet.  They won’t spread so you can fill it up pretty tight!  If any break or crumble just press the dough together to shape it.

Bake for 10-12 minutes – the edges should just be turning brown.

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Let them cool on the sheet, then move to a container, or eat them.  They stay together to hold in your hand but crumble when you bite into them!

Next time I am leaving out the chocolate as I really like the ones that ended up with only nuts in them.  Then I can eat more of them without worrying about spiking my blood sugar levels!

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The cauliflower experiment

In my search for interesting food to cook myself I’ve seen, and been sent, the recipes for cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower garlic bread, etc.  Supposedly you use cauliflower as a substitute for the bread part.

Okay.

Thing is, I’ve become quite cynical about recipes that purport to make substitutes for carb based food.  I’ve been trying them and the results are:

  1. Disgusting, inedible messes.  Like the “pancakes” using coconut flour and many eggs.
  2. Don’t look anything remotely close to what appears in the photographs accompanying the recipes.
  3. Descriptions and instructions do not jibe – what the recipe says is not what happens.
  4. Recipes writers LIE!

I know how to follow recipes and to troubleshoot when something isn’t right.  I trained as a chef for a year right out of high school, and worked as a cook and a baker, so I know my way around an oven and food processor.  I’ve followed a lot of recipes in my life and they pretty much always turn out very well.  So you can imagine how I felt trying these recipes and experiencing such massive fails!

Nonetheless, this cauliflower thing was intriguing.  I like cauliflower.  So I spent a few weeks checking out the recipes that popped up on my Facebook feed, or that my sister and friends sent me.  Some were so involved that I lost interest part way through reading them.  Others spent 2000 words describing how great they were and how you couldn’t even tell it was cauliflower… really?  Now why don’t I believe that?

Several recipes described cooking the cauliflower then wringing it out in a towel to remove moisture, which seeing as they cooked it with water… made sense. But why would you bother cooking it with water to only have to wring it out?   Some said to grate the cauliflower into “rice” first, or after cooking.  I came across one that pureed the cauliflower and then microwaved it without water and didn’t wring it out, that made more sense.

I bought a cauliflower (putting my retirement at risk at the expense) so today was the day I tried this idea out.  Realizing, of course, that it was going to taste like, well, CAULIFLOWER!  What I wanted to end up with was a patty or fritter type thing.  Hopefully crunchy.

I started by chopping up a cauliflower head and processing it into a coarse grind in the food processor.

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I did not puree it, it was a dry fine chop.  You could do it by hand too if you didn’t have a machine to do it.

Then I microwaved it for a total of 10 minutes on high – stopping at 5 minutes to stir it.

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While it was cooking I grated up a hunk of parmesan and some mozzarella.

I decided to add bacon to my recipe – I always have real bacon bits in the fridge (I put that sh*t on everything!  LOL) and some spices.  This time I used ground white pepper, paprika, ground thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, chilli powder – I didn’t add salt as I figured the bacon and the parmesan would add enough.  And eggs to bind it together.

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I let the cauliflower cool to room temperature and then mixed in the spices, then the bacon and cheeses.  I wanted to make sure they were well blended before adding the eggs.

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Then added the eggs and mixed it up really well.

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I had got three eggs out but thought two might be enough, but it did need the third one.

Then I put heaping spoonfuls on the parchment paper and pressed them flat and shaped the sides with the spoon.  One large head of cauliflower made enough for what’s in the photo.

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They aren’t bad at all.  Next time (yes, I will do this again!) I am going to use a lot more spice and different stronger flavours.  And I am going to cook in oil on the stove – like potato pancakes – I want them crunchy!  These are firm, but not crisp.

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CAULIFLOWER, BACON & CHEESE PATTIES

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients used in this batch shown in the photos:

Large head of cauliflower

1 cup (by volume) grated parmesan (or other hard cheese)

1/2 cup (by volume) grated mozzarella (or other softer cheese)

1/4 cup chopped cooked bacon

Spices:  ground white pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder, ground thyme – less than 1/8 tsp of each.  Next time I would use a lot more!

3 large eggs

Directions:

Coarsely chop or grind cauliflower to an even consistency. Place in a microwave safe bowl or dish, cover with lid or plastic wrap, and microwave on high for a total of 10 minutes, stirring once at the 5 minute mark.

Remove cover, stir and let the cauliflower cool to room temperature.

Once the cauliflower is cool, stir in spices, bacon and cheeses.  Once well blended, add the eggs and mix until combined.

Scoop onto the parchment lined cookie sheet and shape into desired size/shape – flatten and even out the sides.

Bake in the centre of the 425F oven for a total of 25 minutes, rotating the sheets at the 15 minute mark.  Check for desired doneness as your oven may be hotter or cooler than mine. Edges should be dark brown and the top should be starting to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool before removing from tray.  It doesn’t take long.  These turned out to be firm and solid so are suitable to hold other things.

Eat as is, warm, with condiments of your choice – guacamole, sour cream, dijon mustard, more cheese, etc.  Or, make a sandwich with them like I did – guacamole and sliced turkey!

Store leftovers in the fridge wrapped tightly in plastic wrap (to avoid condensation in containers.)

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This turned out well… and yes, this would work for a pizza crust very well.  HOWEVER, it is cauliflower and tastes like cauliflower but it is a neat way to eat it!

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