Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shredded Chicken with Jalapeno Cream

I bought a new cookbook the other and I'm in love with it.  Not that I wasn't in love my old cookbooks but...well...they were old.  Shameful, I know, to just abandon my old faithfuls for a new book with no grease or tomato splatters and a firm spine but I did.  My new book is wonderful, full of recipes that require no paleo tweaking and others that will require minor adjustments.  I bookmarked 10 recipes after a cursory review and got right to work on two of them today.  They turned out really well despite my botching of the second recipe rendering it a distant cousin of the recipe I started off with.  That's why I love cooking, sometimes you screw it up and yet things will still turn out just fine...most of the time.  Oh, the name of my book!  It's Eat Cuban: Recipes from Floridita by Andy Rose.

For the first recipe I decided to try a poultry recipe.  Now the original called for duck but I went with chicken.  Also I cheated big time and bought a rotisserie bird to save a little time.

Shredded Chicken with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

For the chicken:

1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled and shredded
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2T. fat of choice
4T sherry
2 roma tomatoes; peeled, seeded and sliced into strips
1T parsley, chopped

1. Heat the fat in a large skillet and add the onion, garlic and pepper.  Cook at med-low heat and sweat until soft.
2. Stir in the sherry and increase the heat to high until the liquid is reduced by half.
3. Add the tomato and parsley, stir to mix. Remove from heat.
4. Add the shredded chicken to the skillet and mix well.  (You may have to turn the heat back on to warm the chicken up.)

For the jalapeno cream:
1t. garlic, diced
2T shallots, diced
2T. fat of choice
2T sherry
1/2 C. chicken stock
1/2 C. coconut cream
1 to 2 jalapenos, diced
1T chives, chopped

1. Over low heat sweat the garlic and shallots in the fat until for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the sherry and increase the heat to high, boil for about 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock and boil until the liquid is reduced by half.
4. Stir in the coconut cream and jalapeno. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce is reduced by half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.
5.  Pour over the chicken mixture and mix well.  Top with the chives.

Carrot and Sweet Potato Salad

Okay, I have to admit that I really sort of botched the original recipe.  It was towards the end of my cooking marathon and I was completely out of steam.  Having said that, I think it really turned out okay.  I guess what I have is something similar to the original but a recipe that's sort of it's own.

Carrot and Sweet Potato Salad

4 Carrots, sliced
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 bay leaf
2 cinnamon sticks

For the dressing:
2 garlic cloves, diced
4T cider vinegar
4T olive oil
pinch of allspice
1T. coconut sugar
2T mint leaves, chopped
3-4 T pumpkin seeds

1. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Put the carrot and sweet potato in a large saucepan with the bay leaf and cinnamon and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender.  Drain and dry completely. 
3. Transfer the carrots and sweet potato to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chile Verde Chili

Tonight's dinner started brewing in my noggin about a week ago when the weather turned of chilly and everyone began talking about chili, pumpkin bread, Honeycrisp apples and squashes.  Fall could very well be the best time of the year, I know I certainly think it is.  I had decided to make a white chili but since I wanted to use pork my sister kindly told me that it wouldn't be white chili because that is made with chicken.  Who knew?!  Well, I wanted pork and that was about all I was going to say about that.  I then realized that what I was thinking of was a chile verde and not white chili. So I was back on track and the ingredients I wanted to use were popping up in my head and I started scribbling things onto a shopping list.  After looking in the cupboard and the freezer I discovered I had everything I needed except one ingredient which some how did not make my shopping list.  Anyway, after running around all day and going to the retirement home to have dinner with my Grandma I got started on my "chile verde chili".  Why the extra "chili" in the title?  Well, I wanted something super meaty, like the way I make a standard beef-tomato chili, and not a straight up chile verde.  It's the kitchen after all and the cook can do whatever they want.

Chile Verde Chili

1 pound of pork roast/steak, cubed
1 pound ground pork
4-5 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 poblano peppers; skinned, seeded and chopped
2 jalepenos, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1T mexican oregano
2-3 t. cumin
1/8 c. tequila
1 can Herdez salsa verde (or better yet get some tomatillos and make your own)
2-3 c. chicken broth
3 T. coconut cream

1.  Fry the bacon in a dutch oven and remove when crispy.
2.  Working in batches, brown the pork chunks.  Remove from pot when done.
3.  Brown the ground pork and remove from the skillet.
4.  Add the onion and cook until starting to soften.
5.  Add the garlic and let cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
6.  Add the tequila and deglaze the pot.
7.  Add the poblano and jalepeno, stirr to incorporate.
8.  Add the cumin and mexican oregano, mix well.
9.  Add the salsa verde, coconut cream and the chicken broth.  Stir well.
10. Add the meat and mix well to incorporate.  Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Add some fresh cilantro before serving.

So what ingredient did I forget?  A plantain.  I wanted to add a mashed up green plantain for the starchy flavor and because I thought it would thicken the chili.  But I had it in my head that I had all the ingredients for this dish and I forgot all about wanting to add a plantain.  Maybe next time or perhaps I'll go the store tomorrow and add it in to the big pot of leftovers that I have.  Then again perhaps I'll just make tostones and scoop up the chili with those.

Some cubed chayote squash or zucchini would have been pretty tasty in this as well.  Next time because there's always another supper to cook for!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Asian Pork and Cabbage

I had been seeing recipes for Asian lettuce bowl and it made me think about eggrolls.  I decided that I wanted to try a cabbage roll with a crispy coating.  I gathered all my ingredients and pulled out some spices that I thought would make a tasty profile and set to work.  When it was all said and done I was really satisfied with the flavors but maybe a little disappoint with the texture of the rolls.  I just didn't get that really crispy crunch I was looking for.  I suppose there is just to much moisture in the leaves for the coating to remain crispy.  I only made 5 rolls in my test batch and I decided to just chop what was left of the head of cabbage and make burgers out on the filling.  The flavors were still there and the prep time was significantly reduced (although not nearly as pretty).  So, I'll probably still make this in the future but I won't go through the trouble of making rolls.

Asian Cabbage Rolls (or Asian Pork Burgers with Cabbage)

1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1t. minced ginger
1/4c. to 1/2c. white wine
1T. coconut aminos
1T. Red Boat fish sauce
3T. coconut cream
1 Star Anise ground (or about a heaping 1/8t. of ground star anise)
1/4t. ground ginger
1/4t. clove
1/4t. cinnamon
1/2t. white pepper
2 pound pork
1/4c. coconut flour
1/4c. almond meal
1 head of cabbage
1 egg

1. Start a large pot of water boiling.
2. Heat fat of choice in a skillet and add the onion and carrots.  Cook until the onion is soft.
3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook about 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan (about 1 minute) then add the aminos and fish sauce. Stir to mix.
5. Add the coconut milk and cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid is gone.
6. Scrape into a large mixing bowl and add the spices.  Mix well.
7. Once the onion mixture has cooled a little, add the ground pork and mix well to incorporate all the spices.
8. Separate the leaves of the cabbage and blanch in the boiling pot of water until soft.  Remove and set in a colander to drain.
9.  To assemble: dry the cabbage leaves with a paper towel, scoop a spoonful of the pork mixture at the stem end of the cabbage leaf and roll up folding the edge in after the first roll.
10. Coat the roll in the egg mixture, then roll in the almond meal/coconut flour mixture.
11. Fry up in a skillet with the fat of your choice.

*If you don't want to go through the trouble of blanching the cabbage and rolling you can just chop the cabbage and cook in a skillet and make burger patties out of the pork mixture (I added some of the almond meal/coconut flour mixture to the meat just to have that flavor in there).  They aren't as pretty but just as tasty.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I started Whole 30 about five days ago.  When you decide you're going to do something you don't put off the start date, you just dive right in.  At least that's what I do.  See, my sister is having a cookie contest in four days.  I would have been right in there tasting and judging the cookies all the while telling myself that I would get back to paleo tomorrow.  Well, I started Whole 30 and didn't think about that cookie contest until yesterday when I told my sister that I wouldn't be tasting the cookies.  I'm still gonna bake and enter the winning gluten-laden cookie but I won't be tasting the other entries.  My sis told me she would make me paleo cookie so I would have something to eat that night...awww.  So I was thinking about that and combined with the little sweet tooth I'm having today I made some almond meal cookies.  I probably am not suppose to eat something like this so I think tomorrow I will take them all to work and put them in the lounge where the animals I work with will scarf them down, probably without knowing the difference.  I thought I would at least put a picture up here and tell you where I got the recipe and how I changed it to fit what I had.

While at my Mom's place I looked at Chowstalker and found a couple of entries for chocolate chip cookies.  I wrote down the recipes (since she doesn't have a printer) and then forgot to take them with me when I left. (*head smack)  I remembered the almond flour cookbook (by Elana Amsterdam) that my Mom got me so I found the cookie recipe in there and pretty much used it.  It called for grapeseed oil which I didn't have so I used the light olive oil (it's pretty tasteless, very light golden in color).  It also used agave nectar but I used the coconut sugar crystals that Mom got me a few months ago.  Since I was using a little less liquid (with the obmission of agave) I decided to put an egg in there.  So here's a pic followed by the recipe.  All in all they were pretty tasty.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2c. almond flour
1/2t. salt
1/2t. baking soda
1/2c. coconut sugar
1/2c. light olive oil
1T. vanilla
1 egg
1/2c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
3. In a small bowl combine wet ingredients and mix.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Add the chips and stir some more to combine.
6. Scoop onto a cookie sheet, leave about two inches between cookie.  Press down lightly on the cookie to flatten (because it doesn't really spread that much while bake).
7. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and allow to cool on the cookie sheet before you remove.

Tamarind Glazed Chicken

I'm on the hunt for some new cookbooks.  Our big box bookstore closed and since then I've been going through cookbook withdrawal (they did carry a good selection of cookbooks).  I love looking at cookbooks and finding a good ethnic cookbook whose recipes I can tweak a little (sometimes not at all) to fit my Paleo needs.  I've been testing out Indian inspired dishes and have discovered that I really like some of the flavor profiles.  I think my next cookbook purchase will be an Indian cookbook.

I stood in front of my bookshelf the other day and pulled Padma Lakshmi's Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet off the shelf.  I had marked a couple of recipes way back when but never tried any of them.  I found this one which originally called for fish as the protein.  She mentioned that it would be good for chicken and so I went with that.  

Tamarind Glazed Chicken Legs

1 1/2 c. water
1 ounce (about golf ball size) of tamarind pulp
1 small onion, diced
2 T ginger, minced
1-2 t. honey
12-14 chicken legs

1. In a small saucepan bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and add the tamarind pulp.  Break the pulp up with a fork.  Cover the saucepan and let it set for about 20 minutes.
2. After 20 minutes, mash the tamarind some more.  Use your fingers to knead any clumps.  Pour the mixture through a strainer using a spoon to mash the pulp through as well as any liquid.
3. Place the chicken legs in a baking dish, rub with the fat of your choice and season with salt and pepper if desired. Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
4. In a skillet heat some fat and add the onion.  Saute for about 5 minutes then add the ginger and let cook about 1-2 minutes.
5. Add the strained tamarind gravy to the skillet and cook at a slow simmer, adding the honey after 5 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by half. 
6. When the chicken reaches the 15 minute mark flip the legs over and cook for another 15 minutes.
7.  Pour the tamarind sauce over the chicken legs and cook for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cook through.

Bacon-Salmon Patties

Because without bacon things do not go as well.  While driving home tonight I got a craving for seafood.  I wanted tuna or swordfish or even salmon.  So I stopped at the grocery store and could only find salmon so salmon it is!  I had my recipe put together in my head before hitting the store so I picked up a few other things and headed home to prepare my supper.  It turned out really great and I'll probably keep this in mind for a future meal but subbing tuna steaks in for the salmon fillets.

Bacon-Salmon Patties

6-8 pieces of bacon, fried
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 t. ginger, minced
1T. balsamic vinegar
1t. Red Boat fish sauce
1t. Coconut Aminos
2 scallions, chopped
2-3 pounds salmon fillet, remove the skin
1 egg
1/4c. almond meal

1. Fry the bacon and set aside on a paper towel. Drain most of the grease out of the skillet.
2. Add the bell pepper to the skillet and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes of until it starts to get soft.
3. Add the garlic and ginger, stir to incorporate and let it cook about 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir to coat the peppers well.  Turn off heat.
5. Add the bacon to the food processor and pulse until it is in large chunks.
6. Add the red pepper mixture, fish sauce and aminos to the bacon in the food processor. (A'la Bacon Jam)  Pulse until it is a fine blend.  Scrape into a medium size mixing bowl.
7. Cut the salmon into large chunks and add to the food processor.  Pulse until is is chopped to a medium-fine texture.  You may have to make two batches depending on the amount of salmon.
8. Add to the mixing bowl with the bacon and pepper mixture along with the egg and mix.
9. Add the almond meal and mix well.  Form into patties and fry in the skillet with the fat of your choice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm doing the Whole 30

I have been messing around and in general just failing for a couple of months now.  I'm tired of it.  I don't feel as good as I used to and I don't feel like I can call myself Paleo when I'm not really fulfilling my obligations of living a Paleo lifestyle.  I thought about telling my family and friends to check in on me and ask me how things are going but you know's not their responsibility.  When I went Paleo on January 3rd I didn't ask anyone to check in on me, I didn't ask them to hold me responsible.  As a matter of fact I didn't tell anyone I had started Paleo.  I chose that path on my own and held myself responsible for my choices.  I refused all non-Paleo food items and as time passed people began to understand that I was eating differently and I would tell them when they asked but I didn't trumpet the fact. 

Well, something has to change.  I need to be responsible to myself for getting back on track but I also want those around me to know that I'm serious about this and that Paleo isn't some short term diet program.  I don't mind if they want to inquire about how things are going but more importantly I want to feel proud when I answer that question.  So I'm committing myself to a Whole 30, starting right now (9:41pm).  I'll post some updates here on my blog and occasionally on twitter (I don't use that very much) and I'm also going to post on my personal facebook page so everyone knows what I'm up to.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Carne Asada

Mexican food is my first love and what I consider to be my native palette, if that makes sense.  I recently discovered fried plantains and have since fallen in love with them.  I keep making them any chance I get.  While at my parent's house this past week I cleared out the plantain supply at their local grocery store and fried up a big batch of tostones.  It was delicious.  My Mom had some super thin beef steak in her fridge so I dug around in her cupboards and found a can of chopped "chili ready" tomatoes and some carne asada seasoning.  I will try to replicate this at home using fresh ingredients and a homemade carne asada seasoning but in was so yummy I decided to go ahead and post a pic and give the basics of what I did.

Cut the beef into small chunks and sear in a skillet with some lard.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Add a chopped onion to the skillet and saute until soft then add some garlic.  When the garlic has become fragrant add cumin, crushed mexican oregano and stir to coat the onions well.  Add the beef and then add a couple of tablespoons of carne asada seasoning.  Mix well then add the tomatoes and some broth until you have enough liquid in the skillet to just barely cover the beef mixture.  Simmer it covered for about 20 minutes then remove the lid and simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is reduce by half.  Enjoy it with the tostones!

Pumpkin Beef Stew

I bought some beef shanks with the notion of using them in a stew at some point.  Yesterday I finally got around to it.  I bought a pumpkin and thought I'd use in a stew or in my omelette like I use butternut squash.  Well, needless to say I didn't like prepping the pumpkin.  It was more difficult than butternut squash but maybe I just love butternut squash more.  With the help of my Mom, which means I passed the work off to her, the pumpkin got peeled, seeded and cut into chunks.  I cut the meat off the shank bones and seared it in a skillet that had rendered bacon fat in it.  I also chopped an onion and sauteed that in the skillet.  I put the chopped bacon, onion, beef chunks, pumpkin and shank bones (with morrow) in a crock pot with beef broth, a bouquet garni and some sage.  I let it cook away until the meat was tender, the morrow melted and the pumpkin soft.

Coconut Carrots

This is a quick carrot dish that allowed me to use up the coconut liquid I'd been saving after skimming the cream out of the cans.  I don't usually cook with butter but I was at my parent's place and they don't have all the pantry items that I do.  So, I put a big pat in the skillet tonight.  If you don't use dairy I suppose you could use coconut oil which is probably what I would use when I'm at home.  I just peeled the carrots and sliced them in half length wise then cut them in half inch diagonal chunks.  I put them in the skillet with the butter and let them cook until they were starting to brown a little then I added about a quarter cup of chicken stock and the coconut liquid (which was reserved from two cans of coconut milk after removing the cream).  I covered it and let it bubble away until the carrots were soft then I removed the lid and let it simmer until the sauce was reduced to a thick caramelized cream.  Quite delicious!!


I like making omelett muffins, spanish tortillas, frittatas or whatever else they are known by.  I just like having my breakfast made ahead of time so all I have to do is gently heat it in the morning.  It saves me time in the morning and I like that.  I can go to the pool without getting up extra early and on the mornings I don't go to the pool I can either sleep in a little bit or spend the morning relaxing before I go in to work.

The good thing about these omelette type dishes is that they are all quite easy to make and can be loaded with whatever you like.  This omelette is loaded with butternut squash, green & red bell peppers, onions and sausage.  Just saute it all up first and pour the scrambled eggs over the top and let it cook on low.  Towards the end pop your oven/broiler proof skillet under the broiler and let it finish cooking.  Voila!!  Breakfast for the work week is complete!