In a land far, far away from Seattle is a gorgeous little place called Eton. You may have heard of it. It’s in southern England. It’s where Wills and Harry went to school. They wear tailcoats at Eton, it’s all very la-di-dah. Another thing they do at Eton – in the summer – is eat Eton Mess. So I thought that in celebration of the impending birth of a new baby prince or princess, I’d create a *SANE version. This is also a perfect dessert for your upcoming 4th of July festivities, Americans! Living a SANE lifestyle doesn’t mean we have to miss out on all the fun – be it Royal, Independence or otherwise.
Eton Mess is a simple assembly. There’s several ways you can do it, and I’ve given you two versions here. One I like to call The Dinner Party version, and the other The Summer BBQ version. The only difference is the way you assemble the bits. I say that, but they do actually taste different as well. One of the ‘bits’ you’ll need for this is some SANE Meringue Cookies.
The Dinner Party version is layered into pretty glass dishes and looks all sophisticated. The Summer BBQ version is mixed into a mess and looks all fun & frivolous.
Now let’s be clear. You don’t want to be eating this every day, but it’s a lovely treat for a few weekends in the summer. When I made it to take photographs for this post, I sat on my terrace in the afternoon sun and revelled in the warmth while enjoying the sweet, juicy berries mixed with crunchy meringues and softly whipped vanilla cream. It was a beautiful 10 minutes. It made me think back to glorious summers in England, and watching Wimbledon (there is no “t”, lovely Americans!), the 7-week-long summer holidays from school, walking down the banks of the Thames in the sunshine, and boating in Henley. Oh, and Pimms. And open-air concerts on the lawn with a picnic. All lovely, lovely things.
Add a bit of English to your summer this year, old chaps!
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
4 oz / 110g fresh raspberries
4 oz / 110g fresh blackberries
8 oz / 225g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 TBSP xylitol (I use Xyla)
1 cup / 8 fl oz. heavy (double) cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
SANE Meringue Cookies (see recipe link above)
In a bowl, mix the fresh berries and xylitol together and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries become soft and there are plenty of juices in the bowl.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, whip the cream and vanilla extract until the cream holds very soft peaks. DO NOT whip until it is stiff.
SUMMER BBQ VERSION:
Fold the cream gently into the berries until completely mixed.
Gently fold in the meringue cookies just until they are evenly distributed.
Spoon into glasses and garnish with sliced strawberries.
Serve with a long spoon.
DINNER PARTY VERSION:
Alternate spoonfuls of berries, meringue cookies and whipped cream into glass dishes, being careful not to mix the layers together.
Layer until meringues and cream are all used up.
Finish with a layer of berries.
Spoon any remaining berry juices over the desserts.
Ahhh, sugar. When I think back to to my teenage years, it is amazing to me how I am still alive. I ate sugar – pure sugar – like bodybuilders eat protein. From the age of 14, I had a wedding cake business for several years, and the amount of royal icing that ended up in my mouth was staggering; then there were all the pastry, chocolate, and sugar classes at The National Bakery School. I loved sugar. The sweeter the better as far as I was concerned. It is a total wonder to me how I was not diabetic by the time I was 20. Or how I weighed only 110 lbs soaking wet. Our bodies are amazing in their ability to protect us from the horrors that we force upon them. If I ate now like I did back in my teens, I would be the size of a house, and at the very least pre-diabetic. No more royal icing and meringue by the spoonful for me. Or so I thought.
To me, this is like the ultimate giving-the-finger to sugar. Oh my. Did I really just type that out loud? But really, it’s true. What is meringue except a bit of egg white holding a whole ton of sugar in suspension? Luckily for us, xylitol works much the same way as sugar does in this instance, although I found it to be a little finicky about the weather, and apt to color up a lot quicker; which is *really* weird since xylitol doesn’t caramelize like sugar. Anyway, it’s nothing we happy and healthy sugar-free cooks can’t work around.
I must admit, it still feels incredibly naughty eating sugar-free meringue cookies, even though it isn’t. The first batch I made were so staggeringly sweet I almost couldn’t eat them, so in later trials I reduced the amount of xylitol in the recipe. If your sweet tooth has been gradually disappearing as a result of a sugar-free lifestyle then you likely won’t be able to eat many of these at one go, and you’ll want to eat them with something else to take the edge off the sweetness.
I’d save these for high days and holidays, dinner parties, birthdays, and other special events. Those times when I have guests over and I’d like them to feel “normal” – not like they are being force-fed healthy. In fact, the next recipe winging it’s way to you is a perfect summer dessert for just such an occasion. How fabulous to know that you can serve up something so fun and seemingly naughty without compromising your health or making your guests feel deprived.
Let me just throw in one very important word if you are planning on making sugar-free meringue cookies: P A T I E N C E.
These sweet little babies take forever to dry out. I blame the xylitol. Anyway, you will get perfect meringue…eventually. Having followed the baking instructions in the recipe, if you remove them from the oven and they are still sticky (you’ll know because they will look shiny), just either leave them in the now-cold oven if you are not using it, or pull them out of the oven and leave them on the counter until they are dry. The final batch that I made (pictured) were not fully dry for 2 days. I am telling you this so that you can plan, and so that you are not disappointed or frustrated when they are not ready after following the recipe. They will be ready…eventually. What’s weird is that leaving them in a heated oven for longer than the recipe did not dry them out any faster. I can’t explain it, it just is what it is. Also, baking them at a higher temperature does not speed up the drying time, it just makes them color. Xylitol colors faster than meringues made with sugar, so don’t turn the heat up unless you want dingy-looking meringues. You have been warned. I would plan to make these at least 3 days before you need them. Once they are dry they will store for a week or more in an air-tight container, so I recommend making them in advance and storing, rather then risking them not being dry in time.
Out of this batch I used the little stars for making Eton Mess, and used the buttons in Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream (Get the recipe in my Ice Cream Book – it is SOOOOO good!), but you can pipe them in whatever shape you fancy, depending on what you want to use them for. You’ll want a pastry bag like these – the larger the better, and some nozzles or tips like these.
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
3 fresh egg whites (pasteurized whites will not whip)
1/2 TBSP lemon juice
5 oz / 140 g xylitol (I use Xyla)
Pre-heat oven to 225F.
Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and whisk using either a stand- or hand-mixer until the egg whites have formed stiff, dry peaks.
Add the xylitol, a tablespoon at a time, whisking very well between each addition.
Once you have added the last of the xylitol, continue whisking until the meringue is stiff and very glossy.
Using a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice, fill the bag with meringue and pipe small shapes onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Place the baking sheet(s) in the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the warm oven overnight.
If the meringues are still sticky in the morning, leave them in the oven until they are dry, or if you need the oven, place them somewhere dry until they are ready. This could take up to 2 days. Patience is a virtue.
It’s summer. Berry season. And this dinner has summer written all over it. It was my Memorial Day dinner, because, after all, Memorial day does mark the start of summer here in America. Mother Nature, unfortunately, did not get the memo about summer having begun. Either that or she left Seattle for the long weekend like a horde of other folk who hurtled up the I-90 or down the I-5 in droves.
Despite the weather being pretty damp and dreary – or maybe becausethe weather was pretty damp and dreary – I had a rush of blood to the head, and, on the spur of the moment decided to cook like there were people coming over. After I posted a quick ‘phone pic on Facebook, people were wishing they had come over. I see how you are, people. It’s all about the food.
Because it is now summer – and regardless of what the weather may have looked like on the official first day – I decided that we all needed some Strawberry Salsa in our lives. Strawberries make the world a better place. Unless you’re allergic to them, in which case, not so much. Not only does Strawberry Salsa just make you want to eat everything it covers, it also tastes like summer.
I’m not a traditional salsa kinda gal. Tomato based sauces have never really floated my boat, and spicy hot is not my ball of wax. I can take traditional salsa or leave it, and almost invariably I leave it. In England that’s not too hard to do, but stateside, salsa pops up all over the place. And all the time. It seemed only right that I should fill my personal salsa void with something red and yummy. So I did.
A long while ago I saw in a magazine – probably while waiting in my Therapist’s office since that’s the only place I see magazines – a recipe for Strawberry Relish, and I never forgot it because it looked so fantastical, although I didn’t think to do anything sensible like take a ‘phone photo so I could remember the ins and outs and whys and wherefores. And because I couldn’t remember anything other than it’s fantastical-looking-ness, I just made my own up; although how much of the recipe in the magazine became quietly lodged in a corner of my brain we shall never know.
The dressing is tart yet sweet, and macerating the strawberries in advance means you get an almost syrupy sauce which runs off into the Leek and Cauliflower Risotto (see image above) to create a mix of flavors so delicious I don’t even have the words. And that was when it was hot off the press. That night I put the risotto in the bottom of a Pyrex dish, laid the chicken on top and spooned the rest of the strawberry salsa over the top, put the lid on and slung it in the ‘fridge for the next day’s lunch. I was expecting it to be OK. Secretly, I was resigned to it being passable. Imagine my delight then, when I discovered it was even better cold the next day. I will be making it again, expressly to let it get cold overnight in the ‘fridge. It would make an absolutely smashing, cold, summer lunch. And if you serve it hot it will stun your dinner party guests, without taking all day to make. It’s fast, simple and *SANE.
I highly recommend that you make this as soon as possible. It will change your summer, forever.
Pan-fried Chicken With Strawberry Salsa
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
10 oz. / 280g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
Zest of 1 lime, finely grated
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp xylitol (I use Xyla)
2 TBSP fresh chives, chopped
1 TBSP coconut oil
4 skinless chicken breasts
At least 30 minutes before you start to cook the chicken, place the hulled, sliced strawberries in a bowl with the lime zest, balsamic vinegar, xylitol, and fresh chives.
Mix well until the strawberry pieces are completely coated in liquid and xylitol.
Leave to macerate, stirring every so often.
Melt the coconut oil in a skillet, and add the chicken breasts.
Pan-fry the chicken until they are golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, making sure that they are cooked right the way through.
Place the chicken on individual plates or a serving dish and spoon the Strawberry Salsa over the top.
Gosh. It’s been a while since I posted a side for you. That’s because I’ve been eagerly, and whole-heartedly, absorbed in filling the void left in your lives by cupcakes, muffins, pancakes, ice cream, and all kinds of other *inSANEity from your LBB (Life Before Bailor). But lest we forget, veggies is where it’s really at. It’s nice to have *SANE versions of your inSANE favorites, knowing that they are supporting your fat-loss and health goals, but there is a limit to what you will achieve without those 10 servings of non-starchy veggies every day. An SSoS’er cannot live (or reach their goals) on ground nuts, coconut oil, and xylitol alone.
So in the spirit of keeping us on the right veggie track, I made you a new side. And let me tell you how delicious this side is. And how much it does not taste in the least like cauliflower. And how it will confuse your brain into thinking you are eating rice. Even while you are eating it and telling your brain it is cauliflower. And how you will want to eat it all the time, once you’ve had it once. Because it almost doesn’t even taste like vegetables at all.
And it looks real pretty. Pretty is important when it comes to vegetables. Especially when one of the veggies is the blandest, most boring-tasting vegetable to be found in the produce department. This side, ladies and gentleman, is neither bland, nor boring-tasting. This side, is awesome.
It is awesome hot, it is awesome cold. It is particularly awesome as a bed for my Pan-fried Chicken with Strawberry Salsa (recipe up next!).
If you’re shaking your head thinking, “I don’t like cauliflower”, try this. If your kids won’t eat cauliflower, make them this. It is quick and simple to throw together, and it will send your *SANEity index soaring. You can even make a huge batch in advance and store in airtight containers in the ‘fridge to whip out as either a hot or cold side over the course of a week. I wish I’d made more. Of course, it helps that I included my favorite vegetable on earth. If you have yet to succumb to my pleadings to try leeks, now’s the time.
I love this stuff. Elevate the humble cauliflower to a more permanent place at your dinner table!
Leek and Cauliflower Risotto
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
1 TBSP coconut oil
1 lb / 450g leeks, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups / 3/4 pint chicken stock
Ground black pepper
1 lb / 450g cauliflower florets
Few chives for garnish, chopped.
Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over high heat.
Add the finely sliced leeks and reduce the heat to medium.
Saute the leeks until they are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the stock, sea salt, and pepper, stirring well.
Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Once the stock starts to simmer, add the cauliflower and stir well.
Cook for 3 – 5 minutes until the cauliflower is just tender, stirring occasionally. Do not over cook as the cauliflower will turn to mush.
Remove from the heat, stir well and spoon into a serving dish.
Today is a most spectacular day. I’ve waited for this day for 1 year, 11 months and 12 days. Not that I’ve been counting, or anything. Today I will be reunited with one of my favorite people on planet earth, who also happens to be the BEST. BOSS. EVER. and I get to work with him again – 4 days a week – starting today. Excited? I can barely stand it. Truly, my life is right way up again. My life is the way it is today because of the enormous influence of this man; so I cannot wait to see what the future holds now I have my biggest cheerleader back in my corner. I know, for sure, it’s going to be exciting.
Woohoo!! I know it feels like it’s taken forever to get here, but fantastic ice cream is not easy. It’s easy once you have a recipe that works. Getting a recipe that works – not so much. And I have a lot of experience with ice cream.
My goal here is to make ice creams that are as sane as possible, and yet taste as good or better than premium regular ice creams. It’s a lofty goal if you understand how ice cream works. It’s a lofty goal if you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to try the dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan, or whatever-the-heck-free versions at the store. Yeah, mine won’t taste anything like any of those. My trusty Ice Cream Taste Test Crew would agree that you cannot tell the difference between my sane ones and regular premium ice creams. It’s true, lovely readers. You CAN have it all. You’ll be so glad you’re sane once you’ve tried some of these!
My ice cream fetish odyssey started some 4 years ago when Larry decided to have a birthday. His lovely wife, Susan, is not the chef in the family, so I offered to cook The Birthday Dinner for Larry and his family at my home. I had the dinner down, but was somewhat stumped when it came to a suitable dessert. I knew Larry adored raspberries, and I knew the weather was going to be warm. Based on these two facts I randomly decided that I was going to make Raspberry Ice Cream for him, even though I had never made ice cream before. Ever.
I toddled off to Williams-Sonoma to avail myself of an ice cream churner, and my ice cream adventures began. Being a lifelong overachiever I made both Raspberry Ice Cream and Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream, and both of them were huge hits. I mean HUGE. No one believed they were homemade. That success, combined with the therapeutic experience I had enjoyed while making said ice cream set me off on a path that involved some 40-or-so flavors, and hundreds and hundreds of gallons of ice cream over the next 3 years. It was awesome. I made ice cream for neighbors, ice cream for friends, ice cream for work colleagues, and ice cream for a local hotel. I rapidly became known as The Ice Cream Queen. I had strangers gate-crashing work meetings because they heard Carrie Brown’s ice cream was making an appearance. I never had any problems getting painting parties going at my house either; as long as there was Carrie Brown’s ice cream there were plenty of volunteers.
Then I met Jonathan, and my whole ice cream existence came to a screeching halt. Until now. I give you Peanut Butter Ice Cream.
Wouldn’t it be awesome, I mused, if I could merge my ice cream repertoire into my SANE lifestyle. It’s pretty hard being the Ice Cream Queen and The Queen of Healthy Eating at the same time; because how can I live and breathe all things nutritionally healthy while churning out ice cream that is doing exactly the opposite? So for months I pondered how to make sane Ice Creams. Ice creams are the single most complex food creations we humans have come up with. Sadly you cannot just whizz a bunch of stuff together, sling it in the freezer and get beautiful, scoopable, delicious ice cream the next day. In other news, did you know that “scoopable” is not a real word? I am going to start a petition. Scoopable needs to be a proper word. I mean, I make ice cream all day long, and have 5 cats. I can’t go 5 minutes without using the word.
Months ago I started dabbling with sane ingredients that I thought may work, but didn’t have much success. Then, one Saturday, my brain broke loose and I created 8 sane ice creams in one day. I was over the hump and off to the races! Since then I’ve made 16 different flavors – holy moly, there’s no stopping me now.
To get us going down the saneE Ice Cream path, I started with the easiest recipe, which also happened to be one of the most requested: Peanut Butter Ice Cream Score! Everyone wins.
Ice cream making is actually pretty complicated scientifically speaking – there’s a whole bunch of geekery around getting ice crystals to form the right way, not getting them to freeze too hard, or too soft, and other thrilling physics dilemmas to think about – and there are tons of little tips and tricks that will help you get that perfect scoop of sane deliciousness every time. Sadly, one little recipe post won’t address most of that, but before you hop to the recipe please just cast your eye over this list. It’s a good place to start if you are new to the world of homemade ice cream, and since all of you are new to sane ice cream, and sane ice cream “custards” do not behave like regular ice cream custards, I urge you to pay attention. After waiting this long, I don’t want you to be disappointed with the result.
The goal is to churn your ice cream mixture in as short a time as possible, so having everything super cold before you begin will be your biggest aid in this endeavor. Especially the ice cream mixture. DO NOT TRY AND CHURN IT IF IT IS NOT COLD.
All your equipment should be as cold as possible before you start churning: the dasher (stirring paddle), any jug that you use to pour the custard into the churner, and the spatulas.
If you are using a churner with a removable freezer bowl that needs to be pre-frozen, make sure that it is completely frozen before you churn. If you shake it and there is ANY noise, it is not ready to use.
Place the empty container that you are going to put the churned ice cream in, into the freezer when you start churning so it is super-cold when the ice creamed has churned.
Do not overfill the churning bowl. Doing two smaller batches is much better than trying to churn too big a batch.
Once you have put the churned ice cream in the cold storage container, place it in the freezer immediately.
Once churned, freeze the ice cream in the freezer for at least several hours before serving, and preferably overnight. Really, try and wait, or churn just before bedtime so you’re not tempted to dig in straight away.
If you live in a hot climate, churn in the coolest part of the day.
If you have a separate “deep” freeze, put your freshly churned ice cream in that freezer initially, so it freezes as fast and firm as possible. The next day, or 8 hours later, you can transfer it to the freezer part of your kitchen ‘fridge/freezer.
That’s just a few basics to get you started. So without further ado, have some sane Peanut Butter Ice Cream. I must warn you – this stuff is *very* filling. You won’t be able to eat very much at one time, but your mouth will be so insanely (ha! ha!) happy because it won’t believe it’s eating sane ice cream, that you won’t care.
HUGE thanks are due to my long-suffering Ice Cream Taste Test Crew: Matt Ballard, Laurie Resch, Bob Stutz, Jen Meehan, and Sahara Pirie, whose thoughtful, constructive criticism helped shape the final versions; they ate a lot of ice cream in the course of this sane Ice Cream endeavor, and my recipes are better because of their input. Matt wins the award for most sane ice cream eaten in the name of ice cream perfection. Thursday afternoons will never be quite the same. Thanks also to the various other folks who were able to sample a few here and there, and whose feedback was also very valuable.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
2 cups / 1 pint hemp milk (I use Living Harvest Tempt Hempmilk – Unsweetened Original)
3/4 cup / 6 fl oz. smooth peanut butter, unsweetened
6 1/2 oz / 185 g xylitol (I use Xyla)
1/4 cup / 2 fl oz. heavy (double) cream (or thick coconut milk for dairy-free)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz. / 55g vanilla protein powder (I use Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey)
1/2 tsp guar gum
Place hemp milk, peanut butter, xylitol, cream, sea salt, and vanilla extract into a blender and blend on high until completely smooth.
Add the protein powder and blend briefly, just until mixed in.
Turn the blender to low speed and through the opening in the blender lid tap the guar gum into the mixture while the machine is running.
Blend for no more than 5 seconds and turn the blender off.
If you do not need the blender jug, put the lid on and place in the ‘fridge for at least 4 hours until the ice cream mix is very cold. If you need the blender jug, transfer the ice cream mix into a jug or other container and cover before placing in the ‘fridge.
Once the ice cream mix is very cold, freeze in your ice cream churner following the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually takes 20 – 30 minutes.
Once the ice cream mixture has churned into “soft serve” consistency, quickly transfer it from the churning bowl into your pre-chilled container, and place in the freezer overnight.