Monday, February 2, 2015

Mint Cauliflower "CousCous"


Cauliflower is our token grain replacement for Paleo eaters. It makes a great rice or couscous, and mashes nicely like a potato. This incredibly simple recipe has hints of mint and lime and pairs excellently with lamb.

Ingredients
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 3-4 scallions, sliced thin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F and grease a foil-lined sided baking sheet with a bit of oil.
  2. Core the cauliflower and cut it into florets. Pulse in the food processor in batches until your cauliflower has a couscous or rice-like shape and consistency. (Don't overload or some pieces won't hit the blade.) If you don't have a food processor, you can use a box grater.
  3. Spread the cauli-rice evenly on the pre-greased foil-lined pan and drizzle with a bit more oil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until slightly golden. Don't brown it. Stir halfway through baking to ensure even cooking.
  4. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and mix in the scallions, 1/2 cup mint, and juice from two of the lime wedges. Add a pinch of salt, a bit of pepper, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil to lightly coat. (Don't soak with oil!) Mix it up and check for flavor. Depending on the size of your head of cauliflower, you may need to add more mint or more lime, or salt/pepper, etc. 
  5. Adjust the seasonings to your liking and serve!


Don't overload your food processor

Nice rice-like consistency

Ready for the oven!

Take it out before it browns. It should be soft enough to eat.

Cauliflower ranges in size, so adjust your seasonings as needed.

τέλος!
(FIN!)

Friday, January 16, 2015

How to: Make Chicken Stock (Clean - Free - Healthy!)

Ok - question one. What the heck is the difference between stock and broth? 

We tend to use the terms interchangeably, but they are definitely not the same thing. Stock is made from the bones and cartilage of the animal, while broth is typically made from the meat. Both have their uses, and only in certain recipes would you really tell a difference. I personally appreciate stock a bit more - especially where it takes center stage like in a chicken soup. For me, taste-wise the flavor is deeper, and health-wise the benefits are immense. Just do an internet search on the health benefits of "bone broth" and there you go.

The big difference you will note is that stock will generally be darker, richer, and thicker. Because of all the gelatin released by the bones, it can also turn into a jelly-like consistency when cooled. 

Now, there are many ways to make stock, and it is a recipe that is truly ageless as humans have been making stock from the bones of animals for hundreds of years. This method is what I call "Garbage Stock". I didn't put that in the title because you might have gone ewwww and not have clicked on it. But I call it garbage stock because I make it from the unwanted or inedible leftovers and scraps in my kitchen. This is great for those of us on a budget, because it costs little to no money to make.

Take this chicken carcass, for example. We ate a roast chicken, and I tossed the picked-clean carcass in a freezer bag and left it in my freezer. I also made roasted bone-in chicken thighs for dinner one night and saved all the bones. Sometimes we're lazy and buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. And guess what... that carcass goes into the freezer as well!

I also save vegetable scraps - onion ends, bases or tops of celery, etc. Sometimes there's a bag of carrots in the fridge that has seen better days and rather than throw it away, I add it to my stash in the freezer. Same thing if you have some veggies getting a little droopy or leftover fresh herbs that are about to turn bad. Don't ever throw food away! In this way we can reduce our waste and save ourselves money. You'll be cobbling together the future building blocks of this delicious and healthy stock essentially for free.
Onion ends, celery base - better to go
in the stock pot than the garbage!
Just keep a stash in the freezer, and toss it
in the pot when you're ready to make stock.
If you don't have enough, just supplement with some fresh veggies.
So what goes into the stock? Generally I get 2-3 carcasses at a time, toss in my frozen veggie pieces I've squirreled away and supplement with some fresh veggies/herbs as needed. Then I cover it all with cold water and simmer the crap out of it all day. I choose not to add salt and pepper to the pot as I'll add them to whatever recipe later on that the stock is used for.

Ingredients
  • 2-3 chicken carcasses (or bones, or chicken feet!)
  • 1TBSP white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves and other assorted fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc.
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 ribs of celery, cut in large pieces
  • 2 carrots, cut in large pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole

  1. Add the carcasses/bones to the pot and toss in the veggies and herbs. Add the vinegar. This will help draw the nutrients out of the bones. There is no exact science to how many veggies you need versus bones. And you can add whatever veggies you have lying about in your fridge. Just be mindful of using anything with too strong of a taste in large quantities (e.g. fennel, sundried tomatoes, etc). You don't want it to overpower your stock.
  2. Cover everything in the pot with cold water and bring it to a boil on the stove. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer and let it go for at least 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Fat and yucky stuff will float to the top. You can skim it off, if desired.
  4. Once done simmering, strain the contents through a colander or mesh sieve covered with cheesecloth. Discard the solids.
  5. Place the stock in a container(s) in the fridge overnight. Skim the congealed fat off the top in the morning. 
  6. Store by refrigerating, freezing, or canning.




Sometimes I like to use chicken feet for my bones.
They're super cheap and you get the BEST stock out of them.

Scrub 'em well, and if there are any yucky patches, cut that
part off  with your kitchen shears.

To get all that gelatin to come out of the feet,
snip off the toes at the first knuckle with your shears.

Luckily, my feet come pre-prepped with that yucky
yellow outer membrane already blanched off.
I also buy a pack of chicken backs and cut off the fat,
then add in whatever carcasses I have sitting in the freezer.
Then I'll add all the veggies and stuff.
Grammie's big aluminum saucepot makes another appearance...

While simmering, fat and other yucky stuff will accumulate along the top. You can
skim it off as you simmer, or much of it will come out when strained
through cheesecloth Otherwise, the fat will congeal on the top when
refrigerated and you can scrape it off the next day.
You could also leave this in the slow cooker on low overnight!

Skimming off the congealed fat - YUCK!
Getting down to that beautiful gelatinous stock.
You can freeze this stock, refrigerate it, can it, etc. You could also
freeze some in an ice cube tray in approximate 1 Tbsp proportions.
Once the cubes freeze, pop them in a freezer bag and take them out
to flavor your recipes when only a small amount of stock is needed.
On the left is homemade stock, middle is my favorite store-bought brand,
and on the right is one of the most popular brands of chicken broth in the US.
You can see the stocks are a much deeper/richer color. I prefer stock to broth.

You could heat up a mug of stock on a brisk day and
season lightly with some salt, pepper, maybe some
dried herbs. Delicious and healthy!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hot Spiced Apples (In under 4 minutes!)



We went apple picking at the very end of the season and took home a pretty good haul of Fuji, Rome, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious apples.

The orchard was like a dream... an oil painting come to life.

But, as always, the dream ends and reality sets in that you have a full bushel of apples sitting on your table - and what the heck are you going to do with all of them?

Just like last year, I made a huge pot of homemade applesauce. (Yes, that's grammie's big saucepot from my last post about meatballs.)

And I may have another apple-based recipe in the works soon. :)  But this morning I had a craving for a sweet, hot treat. I love baked apples, but I'm not always in the mood to do the prep and wait for the oven. This recipe for hot spiced apples is a shortcut recipe for traditional baked apples.

Ingredients

  • 1 apple (any kind)
  • Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice (or any warm, earthy spice like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, etc.)
  1. Place the apple in the center of a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel.
  2. Microwave for 2 and a half minutes, up to three and a half minutes, until the apple is completely soft.
  3. Use a knife to cut through the waxy skin around the stem and slice across the apple from one side to the other to spread the skin open and expose the soft apple meat inside.
  4. Sprinkle your spice over the apple, to taste.
  5. Enjoy!


The apple will usually burst at some point while microwaving
and some juice will seep out. I use this slit as one of the incisions
to open the apple up.


Take care when serving to small children - the apple seeds
will still be in there.
I love the Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice. Lots of other
spice brands have their own version of this, but
you can also just use your own combo of
warm and earthy spices.




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Grandma's (Paleo) Meatballs


My Gramma was pretty much the coolest human being who ever lived. Over the course of my entire life, she stuffed me full of delicious Italian food. Being that she was the first generation of Italian immigrants born in the USA, that Italian food was pretty dang good. Gramma didn't exactly know the meaning of Paleo when she was alive, but she knew the secret to making moist and delicious meatballs. Unfortunately for those of us who eat Paleo, those meatballs were stuffed with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoned bread crumbs.


But guess what? If you strip both those things away, and swap in a little seasoned almond flour for the breadcrumbs, you'll be on your way to meatballs just the way Gramma used to make 'em - only Paleo style.

Why is my gramma giving metal fingers?
Because she's a M*****F****** BOSS, that's why!
But on to the recipe! Here are a few general notes for the best gaddang meatballs you've ever had in your entire life.

General Notes:
  1. Instead of boring ground beef, use meatball mix, which is equal parts beef, pork and veal.
  2. You need the egg AND the almond meal. Don't leave either one out. They'll bind the meatball and keep it spongy and moist. No one wants a gristly meatball. Blech.
  3. Use your hands to mix everything up - but don't overdo it. (And if you hate getting meatfingers, try wearing rubber gloves like I do. I have a thing about getting meatfingers, don't ask.)
  4. When rolling your balls, keep a light touch. Baddabing!
  5. Don't skip the sear. That delicious brown crust will take the meatball to the next level.
  6. Simmer your balls in (what better be) a delicious homemade sauce for 2 hours MINIMUM, though I usually go for 3. They'll be so tender it'll make you want to cry.
If you break any of these meatball commandments, Grammies will come haunt your ass. That's 4 feet 10 inches of pure Eye-talian spitfire. Trust me, you don't want that.

Need a tomato sauce recipe? Try Hand Crushed San Marzano Tomato Sauce. Just swap the pork out and the meatballs in. (Or leave it. You can never have too much meat, suckas.)


Ingredients

  • 2 lb meatball mix (or just plain ground beef if you suck at life)
  • 1 onion (grated or minced)
  • 5 cloves garlic (grated or minced)
  • 1 cup seasoned almond flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and combine with your hands. (See note #3 above regarding meatfingers. Yuck.)
  2. Roll the balls gently with your hands. If they stick to your fingers, coat your hands very lightly with a bit of the olive oil. I like big balls (zing!) so I make them about 2" a pop. I get about 18 large meatballs out of 2 lbs of meat. Set the balls aside on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
  3. Heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Sear the outside of the meatballs in 2 batches until they have a nice brown crust. 
  4. Drop them in your saucepot when done and simmer on the stove for 2-3 hours.
(NOTE: You can add other meats to your pot along with the meatballs. I like tossing in sausages, pork bracciole, and even spareribs. Just remember to sear everything in the frying pan before you put it in the pot.)

the beauty of the meatball mix




That's my grammies' own big aluminum pot.
So many thousands of meatballs have passed through this pot.
It's like the holy grail of meatballs.
Buon Appetito!



Friday, July 4, 2014

Paleo Slushie


I've got to give credit for this recipe to "The King of Random" and his awesome YouTube channel that features cool science experiments and life hacks. I was able to use his experiment for the Self Freezing Soda with a nice tasty bottle of flavored sparkling water for a refreshing Paleo Slushie. Here is the video that inspired me:



Because every freezer is different, it took me a few tries to find just the right amount of time to keep my bottle in the freezer, so a little trial and error may be in order for you. But, it is totally possible to do this!

I grabbed a few bottles of sparkling water that were no sugar added (the only other ingredient is natural flavor) and shook them up vigorously:

Then I dropped it in the freezer and took about 2hrs 45min to get to the right temperature:

Then I carefully opened the cap to release the pressure, closed the cap tightly, and turned the bottle over a few times to begin the chain reaction of freezing:



The consistency wasn't 100% frozen and there was still a little liquid (and it melts quickly after pouring), but I found I liked the part watery, part icy consistency and thought this was quite the refreshing and tasty beverage:
mmmm... science