Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pork Burgers with Beef Bacon

I bought beef bacon the other day and I am in love. I've been putting it in my omelets ever since. I was trying to think of other things I could eat it with. Bacon Cheeseburgers are an American Classic, but I don't eat cheese (well, rarely) because I'm a lactard. I thought putting beef bacon on a beef burger would be redundant, so this seemed like the only solution.

I went to Whole Foods and explained to Andy, the seafood guy that I wasn't buying any seafood because I had made crab cakes for lunch and I was making Pork Burgers with Beef Bacon for dinner. He was floored. He thought it was an awesome idea and he would be thinking about it all night. He didn't even know Whole Foods stocked beef bacon. So I brought him to the bacon section to show him. . . and they were out of beef bacon so he started to curse me.

The whole way home I was trying to decide what seasoning to use for the burgers. I thought Turkish Seasoning would be hilarious, but I went with Tsardust Memories instead. Whatever seasoning you choose is irrelevant because these burgers are transcendentally awesome by the mere juxtaposition of the beef and the pork.

I was only able to buy 3/4 of a lb of ground pork because that was all they had.

3/4 lb ground pork (do yourself a favor and double the recipe)
2 tsp seasoning of some sort
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or Red Apple Balsamic if you happen to have it)
beef bacon

combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Shape into patties. Grill baby, grill. Cook beef bacon and put on burgers.

I did mine with homemade ketchup, grilled onion, roasted red peppers and avocado.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

The 9am class at Crossfit Arizona is Combat Conditioning. Monday I got the t-shirt. That T-shirt is earned, not bought. Combat Conditioning is Coach Mike's baby. It's hard core and he plays all metal, all morning. We're talking Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies. It can't get anymore awesome than that. I roll out of bed, drive 2 minutes and I'm there and he always says, "you're going to hate this" when I show up. I'm almost becoming a morning person. Well, not really. I wake up when the sun rises but I'm not always happy about it. We have 4 shifts at work and right now I'm on noons. Come April I get to pick which shift I go to. When I say I get to pick, I really don't. I'm still pretty low on the totem pole so it's midnights or midnights. This will adversely effect my Crossfit schedule since I work on average 10 hours a day. Either Coach Mike has to change his work schedule just to train me or I have to find a way to just work 8 hour days M-F. Neither scenario seems realistic.

This isn't exactly a sauce and it isn't exactly a side dish. More like a topping. A topping for beef, or lamb, perhaps bison, maybe even chicken. Or if you're one of those non-meat eating types, you can eat this as your main course.

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp fat (I used goat milk butter and I highly recommend)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
10 oz baby bella shrooms
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 oz goat cheese (I used Trader Joe's Goat Gouda)
1 tsp balsamic (I used Dark Chocolate Balsamic
Salt and pepper

In a sauce pan, heat fat.  add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds then add shrooms, thyme, salt, pepper - in that order. cook for about 20 - 30 mins. Shrooms should be watery and simmering. Turn flame down to low and add goat cheese. try to mix it up evenly, then add balsamic. Serve on top of meat! Drink wine, preferably something earthy and red. I'm having Casillero del Diablo Malbec. If I still drank beer, I would be having a Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. But I don't and this saddens me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Curry Fisherman's Pie

There's eggwhites in this. I must have used the yolks for Hollandaise. Sometimes I can't think of anything interesting to write about. So, on to the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 lb Mahi Mahi or really any fish will do
2 lemons, juiced
3 tsp madras curry powder separated
4 eggwhites
2 whole large eggs
2 cups frozen spinach
2 cups pumpkin fresh pumpkin puree, or 1 can
1 tsp salt, separated
1 sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp coconut oil (or any fat)
1/2 tsp salt separated

Marinate Mahi in lemon juice and 1 tsp curry powder.

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat oil in sauce pan. Saute onion until translucent. add garlic cook for 30 seconds, then add 1 tsp curry.  cook 30 more seconds, add marinated Mahi and 1/4 tsp salt. cook for about 5 -10 minutes, then add spinach cook until spinach is thawed.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until fluffy. Pour Mahi mixture into baking dish, then fold in egg whites. In a mixing bowl beat 2 whole eggs, then add pumpkin puree and 1 tsp curry and 1/4 tsp salt. Blend thoroughly and top mahi egg mixture. bake for 45-1 hour.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chicken Di Nocce

I've been MIA for a while due to AC Adapter issues. My laptop battery has been dead for a while. Not really a problem until my AC adapter decided to not work. It was working sporadically, and then my 45 lb pit bull/bull dog, Hazel, stepped on it. Only one paw, and it was a step, not a pounce. It was a sassy step because she's a sassy dog, but just a step none the less. Who knew what awesome power was contained in her little body.

I made this a few weeks ago, but I'm finally getting around to sharing it now. It was pretty freakin' awesome. I ordered the Hazelnut Butter from Fastachi. If you have a nut butter addiction like I do, you might want to be careful while ordering. Their Pecan Butter is ridiculously addictive.

For the marinade: 
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 lemons, juiced
nutmeg, dry mustard, pepper

Cut Chicken into cubes, and marinate in other ingredients. I didn't measure out the other ingredients, just sprinkled them on the chicken.
My sassy little puppy princess

For the Hazelnut Sauce:
1 cup Hazelnut butter (or 8oz of roasted hazelnuts)
1 cup coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 Tbsp nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp anise
1/8 smoked paprika
dash of hot pepper flakes (not too much, you don't want it to be spicy)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Everything else:
1 Tbsp of fat
10 oz sliced crimini mushrooms

Heat oil in pan. Add marinated chicken and cook for about 5-10 minutes then add the mushrooms and keep cooking until the chicken is cooked and the mushrooms are tender. While that's cooking, make the Hazelnut Sauce. remove chicken from heat and put in a large bowl. add Hazelnut sauce and mix together. Serve on top of Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini Linguini.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tzatziki Sauce

I made this to go with the gyro, but I thought it deserved it's own page. Even though this is a paleo food blog, I have several vegetarian and vegan friends I would like to share recipes with. It's really easy to be a good cook when you're an omnivore, but true talent is making due with limited ingredients. My friend, Kristy, is a vegan and she is one of the best cooks I know. Christmas dinner at her place rocks. I do like a good challenge and going out to eat with Kristy requires research. How do you find a restaurant where you can get both vegan and paleo meals? It's difficult. Z'Tejas has a gluten free menu, but they're only vegetarian entree, mushroom enchiladas, has lots of cheese. I found a BBQ place that has a gluten free menu, but absolutely nothing on their menu was meatless. Ethiopian and Indian cuisines have lots of vegetarian options, but bread and lentils are almost unavoidable. We went to a hockey game  last week and found a restaurant near Jobing Arena that has a huge vegetarian menu. I ordered a steak. There was butter on top.

Right before I started cooking, I ran out to the store to get a few thing. I meant to get fresh mint, but I forgot it. So I used dry spearmint. 

Ingredients:

2 cups yogurt (I used goat. If someone wants to try it with coconut yogurt, let me know how it turns out.)
1 medium cucumber
4 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp dried mint (or 1 Tbsp fresh mint, minced)
salt

Place yogurt in cheese cloth and drain excess water. This is going to take a while so leave it in the fridge and go and do some other things.

Peel cucumber. Slice in half and scoop out seeds. Chop finely, add salt and strain out excess water.

Since I used dry mint, I rehydrated it in the lemon juice for about 10 mins. I pressed the garlic into a mixing bowl then added cucumber, lemon, mint, some more salt and lastly the drained yogurt. Mixed it all up and put it back into the fridge while I was having rotisserie drama with the lamb.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gyros

There are things I like about living in Arizona: It never snows, I can afford my mortgage payment, I can grill 90% of the time (and when I can't it's because it's too windy, not because it's too cold.) and my job is pretty cool most of the time. However, I was born and raised in New York City and spent a few years living inside the D.C. Beltway, so I'm more accustomed to things like great restaurants and ethnic diversity - things you can't find in Arizona. In NYC, every diner is open 24-7 and you can get gyros any time of the day. And there was that place, Fontanas, on Northern Blvd that had the best gyros. You could watch them cut slivers of lamb off a slab of gyro meat on a stick. This recipe was inspired by homesickness. I did a google search and found Alton Brown's gyro recipe. It had a video. I recommend you watch it. I didn't do mine exactly like his, but close enough. Close enough to wonder why they heck mine fell off the spit and his didn't. It got messy. I ended up cooking it on foil on the grill and flipping it on four sides. It tasted awesome, but the presentation was lacking. I just couldn't slice it thin enough.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground lamb
1.5 Tbsp Penzey's Lamb Seasoning
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed.

Place chopped onion in food processor until it turns to mush. Strain excess liquid. You want it as dry as possible. put onion back in food processor with garlic, lamb and seasoning and process for about 5-10 minutes, scraping the sides periodically.

Set plastic wrap on counter and place lamb on plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably more.

When ready, put meat on spit and roast over fire for about 30-45 minutes.

Slice thin and serve with tzatziki. I made Spinach Scallion Pancakes to have instead of pita bread.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spinach Scallion Pancakes

My friend called me the other day and asked me about coconut milk. He wanted to know if he could have it with cereal. He said he was allergic to cow's milk so he switched to almond milk and now he's allergic to that. Just now I got an email from him saying he's going to have to try rice milk because he's allergic to the coconut milk. I replied, "Maybe you're allergic to cereal".

For those of us who don't eat grains, it's difficult to obtain that full ethnic cuisine experience. I was never really a big bread eater, except when it came to things like naan, injera, pizza and pita bread. So when I made gyros, I needed something flat to eat it with. I couldn't really wrap the gyro in these pancakes, but perhaps with a little work, one day I'll have something reasonable.

3 eggs
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 16oz bag frozen spinach, thawed
2 bunches scallions
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
olive oil

Beat eggs. add all other ingredients and beat together. Heat a pan with olive oil. Scoop out batter to desired size. cook for about 3-5 minutes and flip, cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Savory Bacon Crusted Pumpkin Pie

My friend Nikos can't understand why I stopped drinking beer. Sometimes I can't understand it either. As a child, I would take sips of my father's beer from time to time. I liked the head (snicker). My father never drank crap beer so into my teen years, my palette was already too refined for the standard mass produced crap beers which were SOP at keg parties. I didn't drink much until I was 18 and could go to bars. Er, I mean 21, of course. Living in NYC, my go to was Brooklyn Lager. What awesome flavor. When I met Brooklyn Brewery's Brew Master, Garrett Oliver, at the Great American Beer Festival back in 08, it was like I just met a rock star. Seriously I was star struck. It takes alot to do that to me. I've never gotten weak kneed from meeting a celebrity before, not even Dr. Ruth. (ok, maybe a little. Never mind, Liz did have to help me walk a few steps after our Dr. Ruth encounter.) I quit my career in archaeology to work as a cellarer in a microbrewery, that is how important beer was to me. I would plan vacations around breweries and beer fests. When I was on the road, I would go out of the way to find a local brew pub. Beer was my passion, my love; it was in my blood.

And I gave it up for my health. Perhaps it was foreshadowing when I was working at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church and there was a guest in the restaurant who was celebrating with friends. He didn't want a appetizer plate. He didn't eat anything the whole time he was there. He had a few glasses of red wine y nada mas. He had Celiac Disease. (he couldn't eat the food because everything on the menu was marinated or battered in it beer.) I had heard of it, I even suspected I had it when did my brief stint as a vegetarian and realized that despite the cool freakin' name, Seitan did not agree with me. The guy told me he used to be really into micro brews and was a real beer connoisseur. It made me sad. I actually thought that I would rather die of some horrible disease than give up beer.

But back to Nikos and his bewilderment over my grain-free diet. He asked me what I was going to do over the holidays (work, of course.) But seriously, turkey and vegetables are all I need. Plus, the drumstick doesn't touch the stuffing and it's the best part of the bird! The moment of inspiration came when Nikos asked about pumpkin pie. I said you can eat the filling with out the crust. He said, "are you going to put a sardine on top?" It was at that moment that I realized that bacon, being pliable and having a propensity to crisp when cooked would make a perfect pie crust. He said he would try it. If it weren't for the 2 glasses of wine I just had, I would bring a slice to him at work. Wouldn't I be everyone's best friend ever if I showed up on my night off with bacon-crusted pumpkin awesomeness. That would be better than the oatmeal cookies I used to bake.

Ingredients:
1 12 oz pack of bacon
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 1 can
3 eggs
1/4 cup walnut butter (or any nut butter or cheese if you choose to eat it, or leave it out completely, whatever)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp anise seed

If you're using fresh pumpkin, you want to drain off as much excess liquid as possible. I measure the 2 cups into a colander and then drained the liquid, so it was less than 2 cups drained.

Line pie plate with bacon. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and drain off excess bacon grease. You can dump this is you live in fear of saturated animal fat, or you can save it to season your cast iron.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add all the other ingredients. beat together then put in pie crust. Place extra slabs of bacon in a lattice on top of pumpkin. Bake at 400 for approximately 45 minutes, then broil for 5-10 or until bacon on top is crispy. let cool, drain extra bacon grease and enjoy.

This was the longest blog I will ever write. I blame the wine.

Crab Cakes

I traveled all over the East Coast before settling in the vast desert wasteland that is Southern Arizona. There are many, many things I miss about it. Mostly my friends and seafood. I lived in Falls Church, VA for 2 years and when I say I'm homesick, it's usually the DC area that I'm longing for. Not NYC, that place stresses me out.


But back to the seafood. Virginia, being next to Maryland, has it's fair share of great places to get crab cakes. Consequently, so does Delaware, but then you're faced with the dilemma of finding something else to do in Delaware besides eat seafood. If you happen to be passing through DE, it only takes about 10 minutes so there might not be a reason to stop. But if you're stuck working there for 3 weeks like I was, or you're visiting family or you're a NASCAR fan and just have to go to Dover, you can explore the many delicious options. I imagine that there aren't too many NASCAR fans who are going to stumble across this blog.

Interesting fact about people from Maryland and Delaware, they put Old Bay on everything. You can't make Crab Cakes without it. Well, I just did. I used Penzey's Chesapeake Seasoning. I guess you can use any Old Bay wannabe seasoning, but if you have Old Bay, it's probably best.

1 16oz can of crab meat
2 tsp Old Bay
1/2 cup red onion finely chopped
1/2 cup green pepper finely chopped
1/2 Roasted Red Pepper Aioli (or any aioli or mayo will do)
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour (maybe more)
Coconut oil (or any fat you like)

The aioli is what holds the crab cakes together. Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup (or 1/4 cup if you want them smaller) scoop out crab mix and form into patties and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Set up your assembly line with one plate of coconut flour, a bowl with the eggs, and another plate with almond flour. Dredge cakes in coconut flour, then dip in the eggs and then coat with almond flour. Fry until golden brown. try to get the sides cooked too. I did this by putting the cakes against the side of the pan.

Remove from heat and serve with aioli, cocktail sauce or tarter sauce.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

I'm on this aioli making kick. I think it's because I like saying "aioli". it just rolls off the tongue and sounds so much more appetizing and gourmet than "mayonnaise". This time, I used the food processor. So much smarter. This one didn't come out as thick as the Smoked Tomato Aioli, but it tastes good and that's what counts.

1 large egg
1 large red bell pepper, roasted
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup olive oil

All ingredients should be at room temperature, even the egg. Puree red pepper in food processor. Add garlic and puree some more. Then  add everything else but the olive oil. blend thoroughly. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in. It took me about 10 minutes and I switched hands a few times. When all the olive oil is in, continue processing for another couple of minutes. remove from processor bowl and refrigerate. Like revenge, best served cold. To make it thicker, you could try draining some of the liquid from the red pepper.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Smoked Tomato Aioli

With Almond Crusted Asparagus Fries
Today, I ordered a food processor. I had thinking about it for weeks, trying to decide what brand to get and how big I should get it. The one I ended up buying is probably way bigger than I could ever need, but it had great reviews and I can order lots of extra attachments.

And it's a good thing I finally did this because I burnt out the motor on my immersion blender trying to make this recipe. I was being overly cautious about drizzling the olive oil and I realized it was taking way longer than it should and the blender was getting really hot. I had slightly less than 1/4 cup of olive oil left when it died. I quickly grabbed a whisk and mixed up the beaker. I can always use that olive oil later when I make asparagus fries.

This recipe was inspired by a restaurant in Fredrick, MD called Isabella's. They serve panko crusted fried asparagus with smoked tomato aioli. When I lived in Virginia, I would go there often with my friends Danielle and Kevin. We order these every time we go there.

1 large egg
1 cup smoked tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp chipotle powder (depending on how spicy you like it. You could also use Chipotle Tabasco)
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup olive oil

Puree first 7 ingredients in food processor or immersion blender. When smooth and not at all lumpy, slowly drizzle in the olive oil blending continuously. If you're using an immersion blender, don't take too long like I did.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Smoked Duck Legs

People who know me know I'm not particularly fond of children. Individual children are fine over the age of ten. That's about the age when you can finally talk to them like they're human beings. However, hordes of children at any age are best avoided.

I do like dogs of all ages. I have two. They are both totally with me on the paleo diet. Jack won't have it any other way. He was born wild and probably had to do alot of hunting and scavenging in his formative years. At least his mom did. I'm sure he helped. He's always trying to help me around the house. It's a shame he doesn't have thumbs. If you give Jack a dog cookie that was made with wheat, he'll look at you funny and try to hide the treat. Hazel will eat anything.

It's alot easier to get your family on board with the paleo diet when your family members are canines. I don't need to keep cookies and cereal in the house. I can cook any vegetable I want without anyone complaining. Their treats are my scraps: bones, gristle, fish skin. They love it. They won't have it any other way.

The duck legs came two in a package. How convenient, I have two dogs who like leg bones. Well, they like all bones. They're not picky. 
Gratuitous Dog Picture

2 duck legs
1 Tbsp Black Currant Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp anise
1/8 tsp cloves
salt, pepper to taste

Mix spices together, rub on legs. The duck legs, not your own legs, although, it might make a soothing muscle rub. Put legs in a ziplock bag and add vinegar and the rest of the spice mix and marinate overnight. Smoke! I used cherry wood chips. You can use any balsamic vinegar for the marinade, but I recommend finding a sweet and fruity one.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bison Stuffed Tiger Pumpkin

Bisons and Tigers and Bears, OH MY! Well, not so much bears. Sometimes I even impress myself with my cooking skillz. It's a shame that this isn't a year round recipe. If you can't find Tiger Pumpkins, then any mini pumpkin will do. The pumpkins I used are about 3 inches in diameter. I got them at Trader Joe's. I bought them because they were esthetically pleasing. It's a pumpkin, so it can't possibly taste bad. This recipe is pretty easy. Cutting the tops off the pumpkin and scooping out the seeds is a bit time consuming, but doesn't take too long. I think the recipe took about an hour all together.


I fell in love with a grill



Ingredients:
6 Tiger Pumpkins
1 lbs ground bison
1 pablano pepper
1 red bell pepper
1/2 an onion
5 cloves of garlic, mas o menos
1 Tbsp coconut oil (any fat will do)
2 tsp Penzey's Arizona Dreaming (you can sub chili seasoning, fajita seasoning, adobo, whatever.)
salt to taste






Roast the pablano and red pepper. I had the smoker going, so I smoked mine. YUM! While that's going, heat the coconut oil in a large pan. Saute the onions. When they become translucent, add the garlic cook for a minute then seasoning and salt. Add the bison and brown, breaking it up into little pieces. Remove from heat and set aside in a mixing bowl.

Put the peppers in a mini food processor or finely chop by hand. Add the peppers to the mixing bowl and mix. With a sharp knife, score a circle on the tops of each pumpkin to pop off the top. Keep the tops. Scoop out the seeds. Fill each pumpkin with equal amounts of meat. Put the tops back on and bake or grill at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let cool and enjoy. They are a great portion size for kids but if you're a big eater, you might want to eat two at a time. For me, one is filling enough so they make a good lunch or snack.
The skin isn't edible, so you're going to have to cut it off or scoop out the meaty pumpkiny goodness. If they're cooked long enough, the skin will peel off easily. Since I grilled mine, the bottoms were really tender.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chili Cilantro Aioli

A word of caution before you get started: beware of splattering peppers in your eyes. If you use an immersion blender, you may want to wear goggles. Leaning over right above the blending beaker = bad idea. I'm telling you this because . . . well, guess. Yes, it happened to me. Fortunately, it was only a hatch chili (1000 to 2500 Scoville) and it was just a drop. I wouldn't do this with habeneros. Mostly because the mere act of cutting them burns my lungs. If you don't have a Hatch chili due to the fact that they're only available in late summer and you don't live in the Southwest, you can substitute a Cubanelle, a banana pepper, maybe half of a pablano. The hatch I used was about 3.5 inches long. As I mentioned the Scoville above, hatches are not very hot at all. If you prefer to make this hotter, use a couple of jalapenos or add some cayenne or chipotle powder or Tabasco Sauce.

Ingredients:
1 large egg
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup cilantro mas o menos (half a bunch)
1 hatch chili, roasted
Juice from 2 limes
salt, pepper, cumin, chipotle powder to taste
1 cup olive oil

I used an immersion blender to make it easier. blend first 6 ingredients to a smooth liquid. Slowly, I mean very, very slowly drizzle the olive oil. I might have done this too slowly because I had to switch hands half way through. It should take about 5 minutes. You need to blend as you drizzle. I had my blender speed set to 2. My blender started to get hot and it warmed the emulsion so at first I was afraid that it seized, but it didn't. (I'm going to use this next time I make hollandaise). After some time in the fridge the consistency became more mayo-like.

This is great on seafood or veggies. Makes a great dip. Keep refrigerated and serve cold. Should be good for about a week or so.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Smoked Almonds with Thyme and Sea Salt

Wooden cutting board give these nuts a "rustic" look.
My name is Kat and I have a Marcona Almond addiction. They are not your standard almond. They're more round than, um, almond shaped. They are usually blanched, but the ones I get at Trader Joe's still have skin on them. They are fried in olive oil and covered in sea salt. If you have a salty-oily food addiction, these may be your downfall.

I couldn't find any last time I was in Trader Joe's. Probably better off that way. I've been known to eat an entire 6 oz bag at once. When I got home, I knew I had a bag of raw almonds waiting to be roasted. Almonds are one of those foods that I can eat cooked, but not raw. I bought those raw almonds with every intention of smoking them.

Za'atar is a Middle Eastern seasoning blend made from thyme, sumac, sesame seads, salt and sometimes other herbs (marjoram, oregano). The first time I had it was at a Lebanese Restaurant in Arlington, VA that served olive oil with za'atar to dip their fresh baked pita bread in. I was never one to over indulge on bread, but when it's fresh baked and I can drench it in seasoned olive oil it's a little hard to resist. Now that I don't eat bread, I need to find other things to drench in seasoned olive oil.

I didn't put sesame seeds in this because the almonds already have the nutty flavor, being that they are nuts. Sumac is widely used as a seasoning in the Middle East. Yes, it is from the same genus as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, but the sumac berries used for seasoning are from a different species of plant, one that does not cause irritation. Don't worry, you won't get hives on your tongue. Sumac has a slightly bitter flavor and as we know, acidic flavors are good for bringing salty flavors to life.

Ingredients:
1 lb raw almonds
1/4 cup olive oil (If you don't want them dripping with oil, use 2 tbsp.
2 tbsp thyme
2 tsp sea salt (or less, these came out pretty salty)
1 tsp (or more) sumac (optional)

Hickory wood smoking chips. Or any wood, really.

Combine all ingredients and smoke for 1 1/2 hours. Rather than spreading the almonds out on a sheet, I put them in an aluminum loaf pan to save space and periodically shook them up. If you don't have a smoker, grill indirectly and don't forget the smoking chips.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cilantro Pablano Pesto

I usually make my pestos raw, but I had a pablano that needed roasting. I almost used pistachios for this one but went with pine nuts instead. I think next time I'll use pistachios.

1/4 fresh cilantro (half a bunch)
1 Pablano Pepper (roasted)
2 oz raw pine nuts (you can sub walnuts, pistachios, etc)
Juice of 1or 2 limes
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic

Combine all ingredients in a mini food processor and blend into thick paste. Tastes better the next day after garlic mellows.

Great for omelets, zucchini pasta, seafood, chicken, use as a spread, mix with yogurt or mayo for a dip. So many possibilities.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Smoked Bambi Bitkis (Meatballs)

Bitkis are Russian Meatballs. The seasoning in this recipe you're more likely to find in sausage, but that seemed entirely too complicated. Instead I decided to make meatballs and smoke them.

I make my own coconut milk and this has almost nothing to do with this recipe. I only do 1 coconut per week. Although 1 coconut only yields about 1 - 1.5 cups of coconut milk, what you're left with is about 2 cups of shredded coconut. There's only so much I can do with that since I live alone, don't eat sweets and don't like children. I used to just throw shells in the compost heap, until I saw this and I suddenly wished for this elderly Asian woman to adopt me. So I threw the shells onto the coals in my smoker.

1 lbs ground venison (you can sub beef or pork)
1 Tbsp Penzeys Tsardust Memories
1-2 Tbsp Fat of choice (I used macadamia nut oil)
1/2 Tbsp Caraway seeds
1 tsp crushed brown mustard seeds

Mix in bowl, make into balls, smoke. Venison is very lean which is why I added the mac oil. If you use a fattier meat, you won't have to add any. Another good idea is to get some high fat ground beef and do half beef half venison. Smoke for about an hour, turning only once. I put them on top of aluminum foil so they don't stick to the grill. If you bake them or pan fry them instead of smoking them, 1 Tbsp of oil will suffice, but with smoking you have to worry about them drying out, so err on the side of caution. Using an animal fat is probably a better idea than an oil, but I don't have any.

I made a mushroom sauce to go with this.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Portobello Eggs Benedict

Why is it that all uncured bacon products I've come across have added sugar? I've been wanting to try beef bacon, but I can't find one without added sugar. I know the amount is miniscule, but I eschew all added sugar. Eggs Benedict is traditionally served with Canadian Bacon. However, I  substituted Trader Joe's uncured prosciutto because it only had 2 ingredients: pork and salt.

I had this idea in my head ever since the Portobello Eggs Florentine. I used to order Eggs Benedict when I was a kid every time I went to brunch. Bust as I grew up I become fat-ophobic, raw egg yolks mixed with melted butter just didn't sound appetizing and I would opt for a veggie and egg white omelet instead. I'm so glad I got over that.

I am a lactard, and butter is not an option. I decided to try making the Hollandaise with coconut oil instead. The sauce seized on me. I know the exact moment it happened, I accidentally spilled a little too much oil into the bowl at once. You need to pour the oil in very slowly and whisk as you pour. Rather than try to save it by adding another yolk, I just ate it as is. Technically, you are supposed to use Hollandaise immediately and cannot refrigerate it. It was actually refrigeration that saved my sauce. It was already separated so I didn't see any harm. It was the next day, when I started to warm the sauce that I had the idea to mix the cold sauce with an immersion blender (mini processor would work too). What I got was creamy, buttery, lemony goodness, but cold. I figured it would be easier to work with. It warmed and melted a on the hot egg and Brussels Sprouts so I consider it a win.

Portobellos:
4 Portobello caps
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Marinate the mushrooms in the balsamic for 10-30 minutes. brush bottoms with olive oil and grill. 

Hollandaise:
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup coconut oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne

Melt coconut oil. Heat pot with water. You want the water to be hot, but not boiling. Whisk egg yolks and lemon together in a bowl. place bowl over the hot water, but don't let the water touch the bowl. You don't want to cook the yolks, just heat the mixture. Continue whisking. Slowly drizzle melted coconut oil into the yolk and lemon mixture and continue to whisk. Do not pour too much in at once. Once all the oil is blended, keep the sauce warm.

Eggs Benedict:
4 grilled portobello caps
4 oz prosciutto
4 eggs poached or sunnyside up (you want the yolk to be runny.
Hollandaise sauce.

 Assemble shroom on bottom, next prosciutto, next egg and top with hollandaise. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lemon Pumpkin Sauce


I borrowed this idea from Mark's Daily Apple. I was searching for pumpkin recipes and Mark just so happened to have a whole article filled with them. I thought I would tweak it a bit. I thought lemon would give it a nice touch. I didn't have any broth, but I did have coconut milk, so that made it in there. I didn't have parsley; I used basil. I did have onions, but I also had shallots and decided to go with that.

4 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (I used fresh)
1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp fresh basil chopped
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
salt, pepper, smoked paprika, thyme, oregano to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, saute shallots and garlic. when cooked, add pumpkin and mix. Then add basil, paprika, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper. Mix and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the coconut milk and lemon juice, continue stirring.

You can put it threw the blender when you're don't if you like, or not. I did to make it smooth.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Guacamole

I make guacamole for almost every party I go to. When I lived on the East Coast, got tons of compliments. People would tell me it was the best guac they ever had. Then I moved to Arizona where everyone has at least one Mexican Grandmother. I don't get as much love for it out here. So, I'm letting you guys in on my secret guac recipe because no one makes guacamole like Abuela. It's still pretty damn good.

Ingredients:
3 ripe avocados
Juice from 1 lime
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed, smashed or minced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup tomato, finely cubed
1 tsp - 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro finely chopped
Salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika or chipotle powder (optional) to taste


Cut 2 of the avocados in half. Do the fancy ninja trick to remove the pits and scoop out into a bowl. Add juice from half of the lime, garlic and salt and mash with a potato masher. You could also put the first 4 ingredients in a food processor and then transfer to a bowl.

Next add the onions and jalapenos and the rest of the spices and mix or mash together.

Add the 3rd avocado, employing the same ninja knife trick to remove the pit. Mash slightly. I like to leave some chunks. Then add the tomato and mix.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Portobello Eggs Florentine

Is it "Portobello" or "Portabella"? How do you determine the gender of your mushrooms?  If we call it a "Portobella" or "Portabello" is that just plain wrong or are we being inclusive?  No matter what, my spell check tells me it's wrong. I have a problem when I try to speak Spanish because I always use the wrong article with the verb. For some reason, no matter what I'm saying, I use "un" and "la", never "una" or "el". I have a hard time with the assigned gender of words. It's like when you're a kid and people call things "girl toys" and "boy toys". No one stopped me and my sisters from playing with trucks. I knew boys that played with dolls. Let's get over it.

I looked it up. The Italian word for mushroom is "fungo". IT'S A BOY! I will call them "portobellos" from now on - but recognize that divisive language, um, divides.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup frozen spinach (or 1/2 cup cooked fresh)
1 tsp cashew butter (any nut butter will do)
2 large eggs
2 portobello caps (I used medium sized)
Salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning, perhaps some nutmeg

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Marinate mushrooms in balsamic vinegar for 10-30 minutes. Brush with olive oil and grill or broil until soft. About 10 minutes.

Poach or fry egg (sunnyside up). You want the yolk to be as runny as you can stand it.

Combine spinach, cashew butter, seasoning. I was using raw cashew butter, so I added a splash of walnut oil and balsamic vinegar to make it more mixable.

Assemble: Mushroom on bottom, spinach in the middle, egg on top.

Obviously, if your cooking for more than one, you can double or triple the recipe. You can also do this for a paleo brunch and make a whole carton of eggs and whole bag of spinach.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Coconut Curry Chicken

When you grow up in New York City, every day is a cultural experience. Sometimes it's a subcultural experience. Every ethnicity, every cuisine, any flavor you might be in the mood for is all right there. My dad loves spicy food, my mom, not so much. So we hardly ever went out for Indian, which wasn't fair to the rest of us who seem to have inherited my father's taste buds. My parents are great cooks (it runs in the family) and they love to cook all different types of food from all different cuisines. My dad used to make curry chicken all the time. It was one of my favorites. He would make it with sweet curry for my mom and leave Madras Curry powder on the table for the rest of us to add to it. He served it with brown rice and we always had raisins, bananas, nuts and chutney to put on top. Now that I live in a vast, desert wasteland, Indian food is not easy to come by. It's also dangerous for me because I will devour an entire basket of Garlic Na'an. Not good if I want to stay gluten and dairy free. So one day, I was craving curry chicken. I had homemade coconut milk that was about to go bad and needed to act fast. My dad used to make his curry with a whole chicken cut up, but he was feeding a family of five and two cats (cats like curry). I am feeding a one and not sharing with the dogs.

I used the dessicated coconut to absorb some of the liquid and thicken the sauce. It also added a nice textural element to make up for the lack of rice.

For the Marinade:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into chunks
Juice from 2 limes
Curry Powder

Marinate overnight to get a good lime flavor in the chicken.

For the Curry:

1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup dessicated, unsweetened coconut (I used medium shredded)
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp (or more) Curry Powder
3 Cloves garlic

In a large sauce pan, heat oil. Saute garlic for 30 seconds, add chicken. when chicken looks cooked on the outside, add curry powder, after 30 seconds add coconut milk. Simmer on low. You don't want to cook it at too high a temp. Simmer for 10 minutes, add tomato paste and coconut. simmer for another 10 minutes or until desired thickness is achieved.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Smoked Chicken Thighs

I eat alot of boneless skinless chicken breasts. They taste great grilled, but smoked they turn out way too dry. I don't have this problem with thighs. Yes the bone in, skin on thighs would be much tastier, but for expedience and convenience I go with boneless, skinless.

1- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless thighs
1/4 cup Apple Cider vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish Paprika
1/8 tsp of the following: ground yellow mustard, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne (or more if you like it spicy), chipotle powder (or double the cayenne if you don't have any), cinnamon, ginger, cumin.

Directions: Trim off odd bits and set aside for dog. Marinate remaining chicken in vinegar and spices for as long as you like. Cook in smoker for about an hour, turning only once. If you're going to grill instead of smoking them, obviously the cooking time is going to be much less. You can use smoking chips to give it the smokey flavor.

My dog, Jack, loves when I make chicken thighs. It's because I trim off the odd bits and cook them up separately for him. He's a spoiled little paleo-pup.

See, pretty simple. Almost too simple. I usually eat this with roasted red peppers, grilled asparagus and butternut squash. I like to peel the butternut squash, cut it into "fries" and bake it with smoked sea salt. (Any ol' salt will do)

Guess who's coming to dinner.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Smoked Pistachios with Chili Seasoning

Sometimes I make something that tastes so good I don't want to stop eating it. My Fra Diavolo Sauce almost became Fra Diavolo Soup. I am nuts for these pistachios. I probably shouldn't have made them so delicious. Too late. I just ate half the container.

Ingredients:
8 oz raw pistachios, shelled
2 Tbsp Olive oil (you might want to use less. I happen to like olive oil covered fingers.)
1 Tbsp Chili Seasoning blend (I used Penzey's Chili 9000. It has cocoa in it!)
1-2 tsp sea salt (if your chili seasoning is salt free)

Hickory smoking chips.

I had the smoker at about 250 and smoked them for about an hour. If you don't have a smoker, cook indirectly on a charcoal grill and don't forget the smoking chips. I put them in a loaf pan and periodically shook it up, rather than spread out on a sheet of foil.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Broccoli Mushroom Omelet

I know, I'm not the first person in the world to make a broccoli mushroom omelet. But I might be the first person to make it with cashew butter. When cheese is not an option, omelets can be a bit bland or unexciting, or lack a the right texture . . . or something. They're also a little harder to stick together since cheese has a certain adhesive quality.

In my spinach fennel omelet recipe I used tahini. Really any nut/seed butter will do. I like to think about which nut butters lend itself to the other ingredients. Cashew butter is sweeter than tahini, so I used tahini with the fennel since it's a has it one unique sweetness. Mushrooms are umami and salt help to bring out that flavor so adding something a little sweet balances the flavors.

Ingredients:
2 large whole eggs (or 3 if you prefer)
1/2-1 tsp of some kind of oil
1/2 cup steamed, parboiled or nuked broccoli
1/2 tsp cashew butter
1/4 cup sauteed mushrooms
5-10 grilled cherry or grape tomatoes
Italian seasoning, salt, pepper to taste

Combine broccoli, cashew butter and seasoning in mini food processor and blend. In a small bowl. Transfer to small bowl and mix in mushrooms and tomatoes. Set aside. Heat oil in pan. In another small bowl, scramble the eggs. When oil is hot, add to pan. Cook eggs until almost done, add veggie mixture and fold over. when done, transfer to plate and eat.

If you notice, I have alot of things cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge. It really cuts down on time. Often when I have the grill going to cook one meal, I'll throw some veggies on there for a future meal. I also live alone (unless you include the 2 dogs) and it's easier to make several servings at once to reheat later. The dogs don't really like vegetables anyway.


I topped mine with a tsp of balsamic vinegar and tsp of white truffle infused olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill, a local small business. Whole Foods and Gourmet shops may have other brands local to your area, or you can order online.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Zucchini Linguini

Diabolically Delicious!
I spent about half the day driving around Tempe and being bombarded by the words "Sun Devils". That might have been my inspiration for today's dish. Or maybe I listen to too much heavy metal. \m/ Nah, there's no such thing as too much heavy metal \m/. I bought a lb of shrimp that accidentally dethawed in my trunk despite my best efforts to pack it in an insulated bag with frozen broccoli and spinach. It was only 104 degrees today, but it was a couple of hours between shopping and going home.

So I sat on my couch contemplating what to do with the shrimp. I started to taste the crushed red pepper in my mind, the garlic, the tomato. I had zucchini that was waiting to be turned in to magnificent strands of, um, zucchini.

Zucchini Linguini:
8 small zucchinis
salt
1 tbsp olive oil
pepper and oregano to taste

Using a spiral slicer, make zucchini into something vaguely linguini shaped, put in a colander, toss in salt and let drain for an hour.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo:
1 lb raw shrimp
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
1/8 tsp anise seeds (optional)
salt, pepper

Mix spices together and set aside

In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add shrimp (peeled) and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.

Add other tbsp of oil to the pan and heat. Add garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, then add the rest of the spices. cook for another 30 seconds. Add the canned tomatoes.  Mix in the lemon juice and tomato paste and simmer. Add the shrimp back in and cook for a few more minutes.

Once you got that simmering, heat the oil for the zucchini in a different pan. When hot, add zucchini. then add the pepper and oregano. Cook for a few minutes then drain excess water.

Put Zucchini Linguini on plate and top with Fra Diavolo. Enjoy!

Apparently some ASU team won some game last night. I guess football. I don't know. So perhaps I inadvertently celebrated a Sun Devils victory with this diabolically delicious dish. However, I did not conjure enough of Hell's minions to assist the NJ Devils and they were defeated 6-2 by the Islanders.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken and Boba Feta (Coconut Crumbles)


My quest began last week to figure out a way to make something that vaguely resembles feta out of coconut. The other day I made coconut milk from scratch and the spent coconut meat that results has a consistency similar to Parmesan cheese. It made me think. What could I add to this to make it more cheese like?

Cheese has very distinct qualities. Texture varies between cheeses, but nothing else in the world has a texture similar to cheese. It's usually salty and has a sharpness or tangy-ness unique to itself. It can also be a little sweet. Coconut is a little sweet and it does have a creamy texture. Since feta is crumbly, pureed coconut that's been drained of it's liquid is a good start. A little liquid would first have to be added. My first attempt used fresh squeezed lemon juice, but the results were too sweet. (Holy Cannoli! I might have the makings of a future faux-mascarpone . . . fauxscarpone. . . mascarfaux?) My second attempt, which came out better, used dry white wine vinegar. It gave it enough of the bitter/sourness without any sweetness.

Because I'm a geek, I'm going to call this Boba Feta:

1/2 cup fresh coconut meat, pureed and drained of milk
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Any improvements and suggestions are welcome. You can make it ahead and keep it in the fridge. Plus if you're like me and don't have a food dehydrator, what else can you do with the spent coconut? It doesn't keep long and I'm likely to eat it by the spoonful.

For the chicken:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
Juice from 1 lemon
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
oregano and pepper to taste.

Marinate the chicken for a couple of hours then grill.

For the salad I use arugula, spinach, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, green or red onions, bell pepper and slivered almonds. Making a salad isn't rocket surgury. If all you have is spinach and cucumbers, there you go. I always make my own salad dressing. It's pretty simple: 1 part oil to 2 parts vinegar or lemon/lime juice. For a Greek salad, olive oil and either lemon juice or white wine vinegar are good.

Salad Dressing
2 tsp Oregano Infused White Balsamic Or juice from 1/4 -1/2 of a lemon or 1 tsp of any white wine vinegar
1 tsp Garlic Infused Olive Oil (I get mine from here but it's not hard to find in some supermarkets or gourmet shops, or simply make your own)
Salt, pepper, oregano to taste, or Penzey's Greek seasoning
Sea Seasoning Kelp Granules (optional, great natural source of iodine)

If you leave off the Chicken, it makes a great side dish and it's Vegan! You could also top it with shrimp, salmon, lamb, etc. Go nuts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Greek Lamburgers with Grilled Eggplant



Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It has to be salted and drained before cooking or it just won't come out right. It's pretty simple, but requires planning ahead. Slice the eggplant toss in some salt and let it sit in a colander for about an hour. When you're ready to cook it, rinse the excess salt.


It saddens me to say there is no substitute for cheese. Perhaps one day, someone will be able to make it out of coconut without adding all that weird crap that they usually put in processed vegan "cheese" made from almond milk. I can dream. Those vegan cheeses are a poor substitute and I've never seen vegan feta anyway. I did make the olive tapenade to go along with this dish and it has some similar qualities to cheese with regards to saltiness, sourness and umaminess. Is umaminess even a word?

The Lamburger is pretty simple. However, it requires Penzey's Lamb Seasoning. If you don't have it and don't want to buy it, here are the ingredients: Turkish oregano, rosemary, cumin, celery, sweet paprika, black pepper, onion, garlic, spearmint and ginger. You can probably make a reasonable facsimile.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground lamb
1 Tbsp Penzey's Lamb Seasoning

Mix in a bowl, shape into patties. Grill.

I grilled the eggplant in a grill basket lined with parchment. You don't want to put that too close to the flame. Cook the eggplant for about 30 mins. Cook time for the burger depends on how big you make them and how rare you like them. With the high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet I'm on, I make my burgers 2.5 ounces each. Yeah. I eat one slider at a time. But I use trick photography to make you think it's a juicy 1/2 lb burger.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Olive Tapenade

I made this as a side for Lamburgers.
Fire roasting tomatoes seems self explanatory. Cut tomatoes in half, place on grill skin side down. For this recipe, I would normally use Roma tomatoes. This time I used heirloom because that's what I had. I don't drain the seeds before roasting. That viscous liquid that the seeds are surrounded by hold alot of the nutrients. But if you do want to drain the seeds, you can ferment them and plant them in your garden. I might do that with some of these organic heirlooms tomatoes I got the other day.

I love olives. They have such an umami quality, makes me want to say, "Oooh, mommy!" Tapenade is a great way to get that flavor. I do not use anchovies in my recipe so it's vegan.

Tapenade:
1/4 cup green olives
1/4 cup black olives
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp capers
Tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper

Put ingredients in mini-processor and pulse until finely chopped. You can make the tapenade ahead and refrigerate. It will mellow the garlic if you do.

Once tomatoes are roasted (30 mins, mas o menos) top with tapenade and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Garlic-Ginger Marinade, Dressing, Dipping Sauce for Seafood

I haphazardly plated this salad for a dramatic effect. Ok, really I was too lazy and too hungry to painstakingly arrange it for the photo.
This recipe was inspired, or should I say borrowed, from my friend Jamie. She likes to marinate tuna steaks in lemon and lime juice with fresh garlic, soy sauce and ginger powder. The first time I tried this I used fresh ginger and garlic powder. Tambien. The remainder of the marinade she uses for dipping.

This recipe works well with any kind of seafood. I used Mahi Mahi for this recipe. This time, I used both fresh ginger and fresh garlic. I use a microplane to grate the ginger root. You only need a little so the rest put in the fridge or freezer and save for something else. When I say something else, I mean the salad dressing recipe that follows.

1 lb Mahi Mahi
Juice of 1 lemon (or 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 a lime)
1/2 tsp fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

Marinate Mahi in lemon juice and evenly spread the garlic and ginger evenly over fish. Grill.

Top a salad with it. I'm not going to tell you what to put on a salad. You're an adult, you can decide for yourself. But I will give you a recipe for salad dressing using fresh ginger. I make 1 serving at a time because I'm neurotic, but you might want to make a whole batch just so you have something to do with all the fresh ginger you have left over so it doesn't go bad.

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil or sesame oil. See, you have options.
1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce for the non paleos)
1 tbsp fresh ginger (I have no idea what the conversion would be if you used powder instead)
4 cloves (or more) garlic, pressed or minced
Salt, pepper

Makes about a cup. Must be shaken before every use.  You can get a little crazy and add some wasabi powder, lemon grass, turmeric, coriander, or whatever you like. Hmm, maybe tonight will be a coriander night.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creamy Spinach Omelet with Fennel

If that isn't food porn, I don't know what is.


I ate fennel for the first time about a month ago and fell in love. It has a very mild licorice flavor. Very mild. Don't think black Twizzlers or Good n Plenty. It's not nearly that strong. Don't even think Sambuca or Ouzo. Fennel Licorice and Anise have similar flavors, but the fennel bulb itself does not have the intensity.

I've eaten spinach in some form almost every day for the past 10 years. I've grown weary of eating it at times, looking at it, trying not to think about it as I scarf it down. I've discovered if I mix it with Tahini or Almond Butter it's exponentially more palatable. I think it's because it requires some fat to help with the absorption of calcium. I do believe there is a strong mind-gut connection. Also, Tahini, Almond Butter, Sunflower Butter, etc. make a flavorful alternative to creamed spinach that can be used as a side dish or snack (or Vegan main course). One day I'll post a Vegan friendly recipe for Creamed Spinach.

Ingredients:

2 large eggs, scrambled
1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed or fresh spinach steamed or wilted
1 tsp tahini (or any nut butter you prefer)
1/8 cup grilled onions
5 grilled cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped grilled fennel
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, anise seed to taste (or whatever you prefer)
1/2 tsp olive oil or walnut oil (do not heat walnut oil)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (I used Espresso flavored)

I grilled the veggies the other night and put them in separate containers in the fridge to add to whatever. Combine spinach, tahini and seasoning in a bowl, mix in other veggies. In an oiled pan, cook scrambled eggs until almost solid, slightly runny. Add veggie/tahini mix. Fold omelet and cook until finished. Plate and top with oil and vinegar (optional). If you're making more than one omelet, you can mix all the veggies together and scoop them evenly into the scrambled eggs as they cook. If you prefer a 3 egg omelet, you might want to add more veggies as well.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Elk Burgers with Homemade Mustard

Topped with grilled onions and fresh avocado.


Alas, I could not come up with a cuddly Disney Elk character name.

I've never eaten elk before so I have no idea what to do with it. It's very lean, so it's a good idea to add fat to it before cooking. Some recipes I found suggested mixing in a little ground beef, others suggested wrapping it in bacon, some recipes add eggs. I decided to go with cooking oil. I chose macadamia nut because I bought a bottle last week and haven't really done much with it yet. Here's what Mark's Daily Apple has to say about macadamia nut oil.

1 lbs ground elk
1/2 tbsp macadamia nut oil (or whatever fat you prefer)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic
Salt, pepper, smoked paprika, crushed brown mustard seeds, cayenne to taste

Mix in a bowl and set aside.

Mustard:
2 tbsp Ground yellow mustard
2 tbsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp vinegar (I used Honey Ginger White Balsamic) Apple cider or white wine vinegar are also good
1 tbsp water (or more)
salt, pepper
1/8 tsp horseradish powder (optional)

Soak whole mustard seeds in vinegar for 2 hours or more (the longer you soak, the more mellow the flavor. You can soak them over night). Blend in mini processor. There's going to be extra, but you can keep it in the fridge for awhile. The vinegar and salt should preserve it.

The horseradish gives it a kick that might be a little over powering. You might even want to double the recipe but keep the horseradish the same or omit it completely.

Bunless burgers don't have to be boring. Even when I ate bread, I like so many toppings on my burger that it would slip out of the bun and I would have to eat it with a knife and fork.