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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grilled Nectarine Salsa

I topped this lovely salad with salmon and topped the lovely salmon with salsa.

This is going to sound crazy:  I can't eat raw apples. When I do, my mouth starts to itch. I have this problem with peaches, nectarines, plums, almonds, hazelnuts, eggplant, pears, cherries (to a lesser extent) and who knows what else. Here comes the crazy part, I can eat all of those things cooked, just not raw. Apple sauce, peach cobbler, roasted almonds, don't effect me at all. With apples, I have the worst reaction. I can't even chop raw apples because it makes my hands red and itchy.

I have a condition called Oral Allergy Syndrome. It's not uncommon, but people who suffer from it get insane looks when they talk about it, so they don't often talk about it. I've met 5 other people with the same problem. They've all been accused of being crazy. We aren't all allergic to the same fruits and vegetables. I know one man who can't eat lettuce. LETTUCE! The most nutritionally void green vegetable known to man. Can you imagine being that guy, "No thanks, I'm allergic to salad."

Needless to say, I will never become a raw foodist.

We're coming to that time of the year again. The time of year when the orchards are bountiful and their fruit is cheap. But in Arizona, it's still to hot to be doing any sort of crazy baking activities, especially when you have an electric stove and the heat lingers. My electric bill is high enough. So I find ways to take advantage of cheap produce while not agitating my auto-immune system nor raising my electric bills.

3 Nectarines (you can use peaches, but I didn't because they're fuzzy - no I don't have weird food texture hang-ups)
2 hatch chilies (also in season and cheap!)
Juice from1 lime
1/2 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 red onion
Cumin, garlic powder, chipotle powder, ginger, salt, pepper to taste

Grill nectarines, chilies, onions. Put the tomatoes on skewers and grill those too. (I smoked the tomatoes with cherry wood chips.) When they're done cooking, chop them all up and mix with lime juice.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bambiballs with Zucchini Noodles and Vegan Pesto

I hit the game meat jackpot at Sprouts. They had venison, elk, antelope and wild boar! Not being a hunter, game meat is an exotic treat. This recipe can be done with beef or bison if you can't get your hands on venison.

Zucchini Noodles are my newest favorite. For some reason, if I take a vegetable I'm ambivalent to and put it through a spiral slicer, it is magically transformed into something awesome. I had my smoker going so of course, grape tomatoes ended up on there. I also through some fennel on the grill and roasted some red peppers.

I do a raw vegan pesto. I have a couple of vegan friends and one was a raw foodist for a while, so I like to make recipes I can share with them whenever possible - which isn't often. I don't think veganism is diametrically opposed to paleo foodism. I once read a New York Times article on people living the paleo lifestyle and they all seemed to snub vegans. I don't think that's fair. Even though our approach is different, our goals for better health are the same and both diets require great discipline, self-control and sacrifice. Plus, you can get lots of great vegetable recipes from vegans.

For the pesto:
Fresh Basil (I used about 50 grams because that's all I had)
2 oz raw pine nuts
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

Combine in food processor.

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground venison
1/2 cup eggwhites (or a couple of whole eggs)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix in a bowl ( I used my hands), make into little balls. I lined them up on aluminum foil and smoked them at about 250 degrees. You can grill or bake.

For the Zucchini Noodles:

5 small zucchinis
1 tsp olive oil

Use spiral slicer or julienne slicer to make zucchini into pasta-like strands. Set in a colander and toss with salt for about an hour to drain the excess water. Saute in olive oil (or coconut oil) on a low flame. I used garlic flavored olive oil just because. I also tried to drain off the excess water that formed in the pan while cooking.It took about 5-10 minutes to cook the zucchini.

I mixed it up with spaghetti squash, smoked tomatoes, grilled fennel and roasted red peppers. This meal seems to have alot of steps, but it's really simple. You can prepare the zucchini first so it's draining, then do the meatballs and while those are cooking make the pesto and then cook the zucchini.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Walnut Crusted Catfish

I have thing for nut crusted seafood. The nuts add a nice texture. I usually do catfish in pecans because it seems like the southern thing to do . . . but I'm from the Northeast and I'm out of pecans.

I'm also out of cayenne. I'm not sure how I let that happen. I'll use chipotle powder instead.

2 oz walnuts
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp chipotle or cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp oregano

1.5 lbs catfish

Combine nuts, garlic and spices in a food processor and blend until coarse. Spread evenly on catfish and grill or bake for 20 minutes or so.