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

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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


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.

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.

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.