1. MUFFIN IN A MINUTE, the low-carb workhorse
This recipe has become so ubiquitous in the low-carb community that it’s become a household name. It has almost infinite variations and is incredibly versatile. Here’s one generally-accepted “basic” recipe:
Basic MIM, sweet or savory
1t butter, melted
1 packet Splenda
Pinch salt, optional
1/2t baking powder
In a mug or microwave safe bowl, beat egg into melted butter with a fork until thoroughly combined. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth. Place in microwave and microwave on high for one minute.
Even in this most basic form, this critter is incredibly versatile. You can substitute other dry ingredients for all or part of the flaxmeal, like nut meal. Some people use ground chia seed. Vary the spices to your taste. You can make savory muffins with herbs and spices, parmesan or grated cheese, etc. You can add chopped nuts, blueberries, sugar free chocolate chips, what have you. The MIM has a wonderful moist, spongy and decidedly muffin-y texture.
Split and toast lightly. The toasting gives the MIM a texture and mouthfeel almost exactly like that of a tender english muffin.
MIM batter makes wonderful pancakes. I prefer to omit the cinnamon and add 1/2t vanilla extract, and sometimes I use half flaxmeal and half pecan nut meal. Cook in melted butter just like regular pancakes. A single “batch” of MIM batter makes two rather thick palm-sized pancakes. If you like your pancakes thinner, you can add a little water to thin the batter slightly. These pancakes taste incredible – they’re very reminiscent of buckwheat pancakes.
MIM Sandwich Bun
The key to a great bun is the proper container. Choose a bun-sized bowl or other microwave-safe container. It doesn’t have to be round. I’ve successfully used a plastic square Ziploc storage container almost exactly the size of a slice of bread. Mix up your MIM in the container, choosing your seasonings to suit your sandwich needs.
One thing to be careful of here is when you whip up the MIM in the container, be sure to run your fork all over the bottom so no air pockets get formed. Otherwise you’ll have a big dent in your MIM which will translate into an awkward hole when you slice it.
Cook the MIM normally, let it cool for easy handling, and slice it in half crosswise. Toast both halves lightly (it tastes fine untoasted, but may be too “floppy” for convenient sandwich eating), apply your sandwich filling and eat up!
2. CAULIFLOWER “RICE” (Anne’s version)
Clean a head or two of cauliflower, discarding leaves and only the woody bottom of the stem. Break it into pieces and put it through the shredder blade of your food processor, stems and florets alike. Place the shredded cauliflower in a microwave bowl and microwave on high until tender (time will vary depending on your microwave), stirring partway through cooking time. For two decent-sized heads of cauliflower, I generally cook mine in my aging microwave for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
The next step is an Anne original. I dump the cauliflower “rice” in a large mesh sieve in the sink, place a bowl on top of the “rice” bottom side down, and press as much liquid out of the “rice” as possible, fluffing with a fork and pressing again. Then fluff the “rice” and serve!
The pressing step accomplishes a couple things. First, pressing out the liquid removes some of the cauliflower flavor and makes the rice more neutral flavored. Secondly, the pressed cauli rice soaks up more of the liquid and flavor from the dish you use it in. And third, if you’re going to refrigerate the “rice” and use it later, it reheats better in this drier form.
3. CAULIFLOWER FAUXTATOES
This recipe starts with the cauliflower “rice” above after the pressing step. It helps to start with the hot “rice,” or reheat it in the microwave.
Place the cutting blade in your food processor and put the cauli rice in with (for two decent-sized heads of cauliflower):
1/2 stick butter OR
8 oz cream cheese OR
2/3c sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Process until smooth, although a few little lumps only add to the “authentic mashed potato” texture. These fauxtatoes are fantastic, reheat with no trouble and will please the pickiest eaters.
4. BASIC CRUSTLESS QUICHE
I like to make two crustless quiches at a time, in two 9-inch nonstick round cake pans. If you only want to make one, be aware that this stuff is delicious and addictive.
3c heavy whipping cream
6 large eggs
4-5c filling – chopped cooked meat/vegetables, shredded cheese, etc.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together eggs and whipping cream until thoroughly blended. Divide filling between the pans and pour egg mixture over it, whisking in the pan to evenly distribute the ingredients.
Bake the quiche at 425 for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees and bake for a further 30 minutes. The top should be light golden brown. Let the quiche rest 5-10 minutes before serving!
5. BASIC LOW-CARB BREADING
Low-carb breaded and fried foods can be every bit as delicious and texturally perfect as their carby counterparts, and the considerations are exactly the same.
Step 1: Prep
Prepare your ingredients just as you would for regular frying. Pat your ingredients dry, particularly if they’ve been marinating. Season with a little salt and pepper before coating. Have your skillet and fat ready. As a general rule, meat, poultry and fish can sit with breading on them for a little while, but not veggies. Veggies will sweat liquid and the breading will fall off.
Step 2: Choose your liquid
Because of all the natural collagen in chicken skin, if you want to just dip chicken parts in melted butter, you can get away with it. For pretty much everything else, you’ll need to use beaten egg, either alone or with a little water or heavy whipping cream mixed in.
Step 3: Choose your breading
The three most commonly used low-carb breading choices are nut meal, parmesan cheese (the inexpensive stuff in the green can), and crushed pork rind crumbs. Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages. Parmesan cheese sticks the best. Pork rind crumbs have a wonderful cracker-crumb texture and zero carbs. Parmesan and pork rinds are Atkins Induction friendly. Nut meal, particularly pecan meal, has an unbeatable flavor and a marvelous cornmeal-breading texture. For this reason, I like to use a blend of at least two or all three of the above for best effect, unless your recipe specifically calls for only one.
Season your breading mix more than you think you need to. Yes, it may taste strong, but remember, this is only the breading. You’re not eating it plain.
Step 4: Choose your fat
There are numerous choices for frying. For all-purpose frying, I like to use a 50/50 mixture of peanut oil and either butter or bacon grease. The butter or bacon grease gives the food that wonderful home-fried crispy texture/flavor, and the peanut oil keeps the butter or bacon grease from burning.
Your fat should always be hot before you add the food. This seals your crust and keeps it from getting greasy and soggy.
Step 5: BE CAREFUL!!!!
Add your food carefully to your hot fat. Don’t crowd your food! Too much food in the skillet will (a) increase your risk of burning yourself, (b) lower the temperature of the skillet and fat, and (c) boil your food in fat rather than nicely frying it. Have your oven on low or your warming drawer on to keep food warm as it comes out of the pan.
Step 6: Put your food on a pedestal
Fried foods shouldn’t sit in grease or they’ll become soggy, and they should be kept warm. The optimum choice is to place them on a rack above something placed to catch dripping fat. If you can’t do that, place them on a slightly tilted cookie sheet so grease drains away, again, in a warm oven or warming drawer. Don’t use the traditional plate with paper towels. Whatever food is on the bottom will be disgusting, soggy with runoff grease, and the breading will fall off.
And that’s it, folks. Rock-bottom basic recipes every low carber needs.