I know I cook, a lot, but I do enjoy going out to eat as well. We’re lucky to have a great Greek community not so far away. Our favorite place in Tarpon Springs is a restaurant called Mykonos. (See reviews here.) It’s a simple place that gets loud and frenetic during lunch and dinner (constant yells of “Opa!” fill the dining area when the flaming Haloumi is being brought from the open kitchen).
We basically get the same items every time we go to Mykonos. Here are our go-to’s: a trio of dips which are: 1) Skordalia (mashed potatoes flavored with garlic, crushed almonds, lemon juice, EVOO and a shit ton of garlic – NOT A FIRST DATE DISH!!), 2) Melitzanosalata (eggplant dip, much like babaganoush) and 3) my (personal favorite) Taramasalata (roe/caviar, lemon juice, breadcrumbs, onion garlic and olive oil).
We also get grilled calamari – which is amazing. No need to bread and fry truly fresh fish, throw it on the grill, splash with fresh lemon and enjoy, like they do in Greece. For a main course my hubby got grilled shrimp in a fresh tomato sauce, it was very simple and delicious. I always get a peasant salad (tomato, red onion, cucumber, feta cheese and pepperoncini-no lettuce) with a side of gyro meat. It’s ALWAYS too much, but so simple, fresh and delicious.
If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend this place. Oh, and don’t let the turkey vultures in the back parking lot scare you (they terrify me).
I came across this picture in my food file and remembered how delicious it was. Check it out:
To make this beauty cut a spaghetti squash in half, seed it, brush the cut side with a little EVOO, season it with salt & pepper and bake it, cut side down, for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. While that magic is happening, quickly sauté some fresh shrimp, garlic, onion, spinach and season well (I like to add some red pepper flakes or diced up jalapeño just to spice it up). Next step, when the squash has cooked and is cool enough to handle scrape it out into the wok with the shrimp sauté. Mix the squash and shrimp well so it’s all incorporated. Then turn the mixture into a baking pan that is lightly brushed with EVOO (to prevent sticking). Top this with mozzarella and bake for about 20 minutes in a 350 oven (until cheese is melted and a little brown).
This shrimp parmigiana will not knock you off keto and was delicious! Let me know if you have any questions.
Yes, it is possible to make delicious low carb linguini & clam sauce. I’d have fought you on this if I had not done the research and trial &error to prove it.
The key is to find a low carb noodle that doesn’t taste like wet paper. These low carb freaks of nature are out there – you just need to try, try and try again. I found one yesterday at our local Publix that actually had both a good taste and a bit of bite (think al dente). You can read more about the nutritional info here. Note that you don’t cook these noodles, plop them in a strainer, rinse them well, drain them and then add them to whatever sauce it is that you are making.
The clam sauce that I made is my go-to. I sauté some fresh, coarsely chopped onion and garlic (tons of garlic) and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. I put the cleaned clams (I soak the clams when I get them home so the sand they might be holding is released) into the pan and let them steam up for about 2 minutes. Then I add a cup of white wine, a bottle of clam juice, a chicken bullion cube (for extra flavor) and, if you need more liquid, some water. I season again with the same seasonings as above and wait for the clams to open (discard any that do not). When clams all open and the sauce is heated through, I put the pasta in the pot and mix it all in.
We’re getting very creative with Keto. Last night we prepared an appetizer of Italian wedding soup, which strangely I’ve never made before. Honestly, this could have been a main course. It was hearty and flavorful and very satisfying.
I started this by making little baby meatballs. For my mixture I used diced onion, garlic powder, fresh chopped parsley, a beaten egg and…wait for it…crushed pork rind chips…which replaced breadcrumbs. The pork rinds that I’ve found locally that I like are these:
I simply put some pork rind chips in a Ziploc bag and crush them up using a mallet (or you can use a baking pin or wine bottle).
I roll these cuties into petite meatballs and put them on a wire rack over a cookie sheet and bake them for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
While the meatballs were cooking I sautéed some fresh chopped onion, celery and fresh parsley seasoned with salt, pepper and some red pepper flakes. I then added eight cups of water and 3 chicken broth cubes and let this come to a boil. When it was really rolling I tossed in the meatballs and lowered heat a bit. After five minutes, I added a full head of well cleaned and coarsely chopped escarole. I let this boil for another 5-7 minutes (or until the escarole is wilted but not mushy).
Voila! Low carb/keto Italian wedding soup! I plated this with a dash more of red pepper and a ton of grated cheese. It was excellent!
So, as you’ve figured out it’s full-on BBQ season.
A great appetizer that my hubby has been making lately is baby lambchops. I have to admit that I was spoiled by the lambchops at the Palm on West Street in NYC, they were just amazing. However, looks like the bald guy has nailed this recipe. And of course I had to add my two cents to make it pretty!
The marinade he created is the following: EVOO, Sazon con Azafran (by Goya – see pic below), chopped onions (small chop), garlic and dill. Just toss it all in a covered container and shake, shake, shake. Let chops sit for about 30 minutes before cooking on grill (you can keep them out while you prepare the BBQ. Never put cold food, straight from fridge onto a hot grill, it messes with the grill temperature. There’s a good explanation for this bad practice (and I get it, we’re all in a rush) here. Note that lambchops should be cooked medium rare (about 120 degrees if you’re using a thermometer).
My addition to this great dish was a beautiful mint pesto (I really dislike mint jelly, which I know is the traditional accompaniment for lamb). I have mint growing on the patio so I harvested some leaves, tossed into my food processor with some EVOO, garlic (to your taste) pine nuts (aka pignoli – which you can toast for a few minutes before incorporating to enhance the nutty flavor) and salt & pepper. I would not add cheese to this pesto as I think the richness of the mint and the lamb is just enough. Process until all ingredients are incorporated and plate!
The outcome was amazing, really. Such rich, earthy flavors cooked al fresco on a grill – I mean how much better does it get?
The worst part of the lockdown was not being able to travel. We love Europe and all the different foods and flavors you find there. Greece was one our favorite trips. We spent time in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini (our hotel in Santorini was insane, check it out here).
Anyway, since we can’t be in Greece right now, we’re cooking up a simple Greek lunch. Souvlaki! This dish could not be easier. Many people like to use chicken thighs for this recipe, which are more flavorful but hubby only likes white meat so I use skinless, boneless breasts which I cube up. In a bowl I add about 2 cups of white wine, about 2 tablespoons of oregano, a tablespoon of EVOO and salt & pepper. Whisk this marinade well and then add the cubed chicken. You can marinate for an hour or as long as overnight. I then removed chicken from the marinade and put in shallow baking pan and baked in my oven for about 25 minutes (until there is no pink in the middle of the chicken).
I served the souvlaki with a salad, warm pita bread, fresh feta cheese (IMO Bulgarian goat feta is the best if you can find it.) and a side of freshly made tzatziki sauce. To make the tzatziki I use Greek Yogurt (I like the Fage brand, 0% fat) which I strain before using so it really thickens up. I add minced, peeled & seeded cucumber, garlic powder (fresh garlic is too strong, I’ve been told…) salt, pepper and a ton of fresh minced dill. Stir in all ingredients and let it set in a bowl in fridge for about 20 minutes).
You can make a sandwich with all of these yummy ingredients or if you’re on keto just plate it with the sides and no bread.
I did an experiment the other day and tossed two packages of ground turkey, chopped red, yellow and green peppers (one of each) a chopped onion, cilantro, salt & pepper, taco seasoning and a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes into my slow cooker. I cooked it for six hours on high.
It came out great! I topped with some shredded cheddar, sour cream, chopped red onions and fresh diced jalapeños and it was both a great presentation and delicious.