Posts Tagged ‘dip’

Flexible Romesco Sauce

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I’m a great fan of the Spanish Romesco sauce, and while I love it in its classic form, I also find its basic structure an adaptable framework that will support a lot of variations. Right now I’m digging up last year’s Autumn King carrots to make room  for a new planting. They are too tough now for eating fresh, but they are still sweet and flavorful, so I’m using some to make roasted carrot Romesco sauce.

To start, turn the oven on to 500 degrees. Then one large Autumn King carrot (or two regular carrots) is cut in slices. One small onion is cut in quarters. Three cloves of garlic are separated from their head but not peeled. I use two roasted tomatoes out of my freezer, but you can put in two tomatoes, either fresh or canned plum tomatoes, to roast with the other veggies. Toss the veggies lightly in olive oil and put them on a sheet pan to roast, watching carefully because they can burn quickly.

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When the carrot looks roasted but not burned and the onion is softened and translucent, take the veggies out. Skin the onion and peel the garlic cloves. Put all the roasted stuff in the food processor with half a cup of roasted almonds and grind as finely as possible. If you are using pre-roasted tomatoes, add them now and grind with the rest. Add two teaspoons of any of the following chiles: ground red New Mexico chile, or Spanish Nora chile, or half Spanish smoked Pimenton and half ground chipotle chile. This last mixture adds a beautiful heat and smoky edge, and is my own favorite. Process, and add two tablespoons of either lemon juice or sherry vinegar. I prefer the sherry vinegar, but a Romesco with lemon can be good with shrimp. Now add really good olive oil until the mixture comes together as a somewhat loose paste. Add more chile if needed. Salt to taste; it’s a condiment, and I like it on the salty side. Serve with roasted vegetables, or meat or chicken roasted rather plainly, or slices of baguette, or cold shrimp, or blackened fish, or nearly anything.

There are lots of other possibilities for a good flexible Romesco.  Roasted peeled red peppers are traditional. Roasted winter squash or sweet potato might be good, and I can imagine using roasted kale or chard leaves for a really dark, earthy, and healthy version. In my opinion the roasted tomatoes are necessary, but I’ve seen recipes that don’t include them. Some people prefer toasted bread crumbs to nuts to add body. And I can’t tell you how much sauce this will make, because I don’t know how much olive oil will taste right to you.

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I recently ate it with tiny crisp-fried bits of chicken and low-carb flaxseed focaccia and it was very, very good.

Green Mayo

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Many of us who eat ketogenic diets refer to homemade mayonnaise as “ketonnaise.” It is one of the luxuries of our very-low-carb style of eating that we can have this beautiful stuff. This time of year, the garden is full of wonderful ways to flavor it, and one of my favorite things to do with it is put a luxurious dollop on top of grilled sockeye salmon, as you see above.
You will have to make your own decision about eating raw eggs. I use my own backyard eggs, and if I am expecting to feed others, I either pasteurize the eggs in my sous-vide cooker or let my visitors make their own choices with full disclosure. Don’t ever feed raw eggs to the elderly, children, immunocompromised people, or the unsuspecting in general.
In my opinion this is best made with a Mini-prep. It gets so thick that stick blenders can’t handle it.
The basic mayo is very simple. Have 1.5 cups of oil ready. I use a light-flavored olive oil or equal parts each of full-flavored olive oil and MCT oil (a fraction of coconut oil that’s liquid at room temp.) Put four egg yolks and a teaspoon of salt in your Mini-Prep food processor. You need a small one so that the mixture reaches the blades. Start the food processor running, and very slowly drizzle in the oil. The Cuisinart Mini-prep has a little runway and hole in the lid for exactly this purpose. You will start to hear the thickening mayonnaise slap against the sides of the bowl. Last thing, put in two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. When it’s done, turn out into a colorful bowl and put in the refrigerator for now.
Now the fun starts. What do you want it to taste like? For standard use I love a handful of chopped parsley, some tarragon, cutting celery, and a little thyme, a handful of chopped chives, a few large arugula leaves chopped, and the white part of a good-sized stalk of green garlic chopped finely. I usually add a smashed anchovy filet too. A meal that leans Mexican might want lots of cilantro and a little epazote and garlic. Somewhat Southeast Asian? Consider a little green curry paste and a goodly amount of chopped rau ram and a chile, chopped. Add your chosen herbs and fold in well. Taste to correct seasoning. The large amount of oil blunts flavors, and you may need more herbs and salt than you think.
You can put it on broiled meat, chicken, and fish, spoon some on top of grilled shrimp, dip veggie sticks in it, or if you aren’t ketogenic it is superb smeared on chunks of baguette.
Eat happily. This is an occasion for high-class piggery, not portion control. It will last a day in the fridge but, in my view, not more than that. I have read one cook online insist that it will keep safely for over a week when chilled, but I wouldn’t chance it.
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Tarragon goes crazy in late spring so let’s make use of that tender growth.