Saturday, June 11, 2011

Curried Carrots

The best part about eating paleo are all the endless spice combinations.  I've found that my palate has expanded and that I appreciate other flavors.  I used to be a salt and pepper kind of girl, I think that was the only kind of spice we ever used outside of some cumin for Mexican dishes.  I remember the first time that my family went to an ethnic restaurant.  It was my 18th birthday (I think) and my Dad declared that we were not going to Sirloin Stockade for the usual birthday dinner.  We had moved to a new area and he thought we should get cultured.  He chose this Greek restaurant and we all order something different and Pop even splurged and got some appetizers (flaming cheese!).  It was a total disaster.  We were completely out of our element.  We've not eaten at that Greek restaurant since (it's very popular in town so it wasn't the restaurant's fault) and while it's funny now it wasn't so much at the time.

But now I love how you can change an ingredient with a few spices.  Take my beloved cauliflower.  My Cilantro Lime Cauliflower is worlds apart from my Cauliflower Pilaf and they are both completely different from my Mexican Cauliflower (recipe coming soon).  I've been branching out with my spices and taking on some new flavor profiles like Indian cuisines.  The possibilities are endless and the meals are never boring.

Curried Carrots

2T Lard
1/4 to 1/2 C. shallots, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 pound carrots, sliced in rounds (1/4" thick)
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground fennel
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
1 C. coconut milk
1/2 C. chicken broth (optional)
  1. Heat lard in a large skillet.  Add the shallots and jalapeno and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the carrots and all the spices.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover.  Cook until the carrot are tender.
  4. Add the broth if you think the sauce needs to be thinned a little. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pesto Kabobs

Last weekend we had our first ever garage sale.  Since I live with my sister and her husband there wasn't much need to keep all my little kitchen gadgets.  They've just been sitting in box for the past however many years it's been since I moved in.  Given the meager penance I am given at my job I don't really see myself moving out anytime soon.  So, while I was parting ways with all those things I've discovered that I have been collecting other things.  Namely, recipes.  I'm always on the search for a new recipe and since I can't really afford to buy cookbooks like I used to I just surf the web.  "Hunting and gathering" I call it.  Sometimes I think that I spend too much time and have more recipes than I can ever really get around to making but I keep doing it.  I finally organized them two weeks ago in to a nice 3 ring binder only to discover that I need another binder.  During lag times at work I'm searching recipes and I sometimes wonder if other people are looking over my shoulder and thinking that I'm looking at the cake and cookie recipes on Tastespotting.  I'm not, I mean I look at them but I don't click through.  Honest.  Whenever I see magazines laying around in an office I flip through to the recipe section that most have and if there is something I like I steal it out of the magazine.  Yep, I'm that girl.  Sometimes I sneak the entire magazine into my purse.  Why do I feel guilty about that?  I mean are they really going to say something to me?  Usually there is an abundance of magazines laying around anyway so I'm sure they wouldn't mind.  I guess I could just ask but I don't because I like to walk on the wild side.  My sister calls me the "diet coke of evil" but let's face it I'm more like TaB.

So here is a recipe riped straight out of some magazine I found laying on the counter at the hospital.  Printed at the bottom of the page is June/July 2011.  I've never heard of this magazine but they had about 5 kabob recipes in the back and I stole them all.  This is recipe is a veggie kabob recipe with a pesto marinade.  It turned out pretty tasty.  I discovered that I'm not a very good kabober.  That is, I don't skewer my veggies in a very orderly fashion.  Some kabobs were heavy on the peppers and onions and others were loaded down with eggplants and tomatoes.  I've got to work on this in the future.  Plus I learned that those little wooden sticks are quite sharp after I kabobed myself a couple of times.

Pesto Veggie Kabobs
*Use any combo of veggie that you like.
1 eggplant, cut into chunks
1-2 zucchini, cut into chunks
2-3 bell peppers, cut into chunks
cherry tomatoes
2 red onions, cut into quarters
1/2 of the pesto sauce (or more if you prefer), recipe follows
bamboo skewers, if wooden soak in water for at least 20 minutes before using
  1. While the grill heats put all the veggies in a large bowl and toss with pesto sauce until coated evenly.
  2. Skewer the veggies and grill until the veggies are browned and slightly soft.  Serve with the excess pesto sauce if you have reserve.
Pesto Sauce
3/4 C packed fresh basil leaves
1 T. fresh parsley
1 clove of garlic, rough chop
1/4 C. pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C. olive oil
  1. Add all ingredients except the oil to a food processor.  Pulse until it forms a paste.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the oil while the processor runs on low.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cauliflower Pilaf

Cauliflower, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways. 

I've come to discover that cauliflower may be my favorite side dish.  While there are other veggies I love more, none seem to have the versatility that I am discovering cauliflower to have.  I was never much of a cauliflower fan in my my pre-paleo days unless it was drowning in cheddar cheese.  But now I love cauliflower because I'm able to dress it up with herbs and spices and it becomes a fantastic dish for when you want a little bit more to fill in the gaps on your plate.  Today I did a riff on rice pilaf and it turned out pretty yummy.

Cauliflower Pilaf

1 cauliflower, riced
1/2 C. raisins
1/2 C. pistachios
5-6 scallions, diced
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 T. olive oil
chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
scant Tablespoon of chopped parsley
  1. Steam the riced cauliflower by microwaving it in a covered bowl for 4 minutes (do not add water).  Let it stand covered until it is time to mix in the ingredients.
  2. Put the raisins in a small saucepan and add enough chicken broth to just cover them.  Simmer until they are plump and soft.  Drain the excess chicken broth.
  3. Add the oil and the pistachios to a small skillet.  Toss occasionally until the nuts are fragrant.  Remove and when they have cooled some give them a rough chop.
  4. Add the scallions to the skillet  that the pistachios were in (add oil if needed) and saute until they soften.
  5. In a large bowl add all the ingredients (cauliflower, raisins, pistachios, scallions, cinnamon, parsley, salt and pepper) and mix to combine.

Now for something kind of fun!  Look at these cute little cauliflower sheep that I found.  This proves that cauliflower can do or become anything you wish.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Zucchini and Sundried Tomato Tart

A few weeks ago I bought some sun dried tomatoes to add to my pantry and since then I've been thinking of using them.  I had my eye on a stuffed chicken breast recipe that Civilized Caveman posted but I always did something different with my chicken breasts.  Then while taking inventory in the fridge and planning some weekend meals I decided what to do with them.  In the fridge were a couple of zucchini and my sister told me I could do something with them.  I knew right then that I wanted to make a tart.  I've never made one before but the zucchini just seemed like the perfect match for my sun dried tomatoes.  So I then started mulling over a crust recipe and started scoping out online for something that would work.  I was going to use my almond meal but just needed a little guidance to have it come together.  I found a couple of savory almond meal crust that both linked back to Elana's Pantry and to a cookbook called The Gluten-Free Almond Meal Cookbook.  It sounded familiar and after checking out my bookshelf I discovered I had this book (thanks Mom)!  So I prepared the rosemary crust recipe and it was simply delicious.  It smelled so good while it was baking and the flavors were extraordinary.  This is a great tart and the filling can be easily change to accommodate whatever veggies you have on hand.

Zucchini and Sun dried Tomato Tart

1-2 medium sized zucchini, cut into rounds about 1/4 inch thick
1 large shallot, diced
1/2 C sun dried tomatoes, diced
2 T. olive oil
3 to 4 eggs
1 pre bake rosemary tart shell (recipe follows)
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the zucchini rounds.  Saute over medium high heat until the zucchini start to brown.  Remove from skillet and place on paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
  2. Add the shallot and tomatoes to the skillet and cook until the onion starts to get soft.  Remove the mixture from the skillet into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Lay the zucchini on your tart crust in an even layer.  Top with the tomato-shallot mixture.
  4. Whisk the eggs in bowl and then gently pour over the veggies in the tart shell.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until the eggs are cooked.  (note: You may want to lay some aluminum foil over the edge of the tart crust so that it doesn't get to dark.)
Rosemary Tart Crust

1 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1/2 t. salt
1 T. minced fresh rosemary
1/4 C. grape seed oil
1 T. water
  1. In a bowl combine the almond flour, salt and rosemary.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the oil and water and whisk together.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.
  4. Press the dough into a 9 inch tart pan.  (My pan was larger so I increased my recipe including the filling.)
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Remove and let it completely cool before you add your filling.
*Note:  My tart pan in about an 11 inch pan which I didn't realize when I started so I sort of winged it with increasing this recipe.  The next time I will get my measurements down before starting but I think increasing the crust recipe by half should do the trick.  I did use 4 eggs for mine but if you are using a 9 inch pan then 3 should work just fine.

Pork in Coconut Milk

Back to my 3 ring binder I went in the hopes of finding a recipe for the pork steak I defrosted.  What I found was a recipe that I printed from the NY Times.  It turned out so much better than I hoped and will certainly be a go to recipe for me.  It's super simple and the flavors are great!  I paired it with some sauteed kale and it was out of this world.  Well, that might be a little over the top but it was really good.  Sorry I don't have a picture with the kale on the plate but I added it as an after thought.  I had tried kale a few times before and wasn't that crazy about it.  But it paired up really well with this dish which I hadn't planned on.  It was so yummy that I told my brother-in-law that he should try it.  My sister and her husband (they are still scared by Paleo) ate a plateful and said it was really tasty.  So, I may get them converted at some point.

Pork in Coconut Milk

2T neutral oil, grape seed
2-3 pounds pork shoulder steak, cubed
3-4 T shallots, diced
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1T minced fresh ginger
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk
1 T. coconut aminos or tamari
salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven.  Add the pork and brown, season with the salt and pepper.
  2. Once pork is browned, add the shallots, jalapenos and ginger.  Cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and coconut aminos and/or tamari.  Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Serve with kale.
Sauteed Kale
1-2 bunches of kale, chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
2-3 pieces of bacon, chopped
1-2 T water
  1. Cook the bacon bits in a large skillet until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy.
  2. Add the onion and cook until it begins to get soft.
  3. Toss in the kale and the water and cover the skillet.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chicken Croquettes

Here's another recipe, this time chicken meatballs, that I found while hunting and gathering.  It was fairly paleo friendly, the original called for cheese in the mixture which I left out.  The meatballs are rolled in a ground toasted nut mixture called dukkah.   These are really tasty and would make a great appetizer for your next party.  I had a few right after they were fried and then later at work I just popped them in my mouth right out of the fridge.  They're great hot or cold.

Chicken Croquettes
1 pound of ground chicken
1 egg
1/4 C. minced herbs (recipe recommended basil or cilantro, I used a little of both)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. sumac
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. cayenne (I mistakenly added this but it turned out okay so I'm leaving it.)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Form balls. (Wet your hands to keep the mixture from sticking to you during this process.)

For the Dukkah:
1 C. toasted almonds
1/2 C toasted sunflower seeds (Original called for pecans which I didn't have.)
1/2 C. toasted sesame seeds
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. smoked paprika (I only had enough for the meat mixture so I didn't get to add any to the dukkah.)
  1. After you have toasted the nuts and seeds, pulse finely in a food processor.
  2. Combine the nuts and seeds in a bowl and add the spices.  Mix well.
  3. Roll the chicken meatballs in the nut mixture.
  4. Heat about 2-3 cups of oil in a skillet.  When it's hot add the meatballs in batches and cook until golden, turning often.
  5. Serve with honey mustard.
Original recipe found here.

Roasted Beets with Orange Shallot Glaze

This is a fabulous recipe that I found while "hunting and gathering" online.  Beets are a childhood favorite that we always had in our garden.  After harvesting, my Mom would pickle the beets which I suppose is the only way I've really ever had a beet.  This recipe calls for butter and normally I am sans dairy but I just couldn't see anyway to get the glaze without butter so I made an exception to my rule.  I found this recipe on Tastespotting a few months back and put it in my 3 ring binder.  I just now got around to making these and they are as good as I hoped.  I was sort of worried about the orange juice and whether it would work or taste to acidic but it was great! 

*I really like the glaze so I made extra because I wanted to cover each beet adequately.