Eat Evolved

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You are what you eat. Eat what you've evolved to eat.

Archive for May, 2012

Pizza de queijo

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

This is, no lie, one of the best food experiments I’ve ever made. Mind you, it’s so borderline Primal that I debated including it on this blog. It has a lot of dairy, it’s not exactly low-carb, and it might induce SAD cravings. That having been said, it’s delicious, and will be something special once I perfect it.

Of course, there’s a backstory. At the beginning of this month, I went to a conference in Dearborn, Michigan with a few of my favorite coworkers. We went out to a local pizza place called Buddy’s one night, and I decided to try their gluten-free personal pizza. Its main ingredient was tapioca flour, and it was incredible. I didn’t miss wheat at all.

It reminded me of one of my favorite recipes from my Brazilian great-aunt, pao de queijo. This translates roughly to “cheese balls.” They are little crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside balls of pure joy. Every time she made a batch, they’d be gone before they cooled down. Once, I took a boyfriend to meet the extended family, and he said that they’d go perfectly with spaghetti. At the time I thought he was insane, but I remembered his comment when I had Buddy’s gluten-free pizza…and in the immortal words of Gru, “light bulb!”

To start, put 4 cups (or 500 grams) of tapioca flour in a large metal or otherwise heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup of a neutrally flavored oil with two cups of milk until it boils. Watch this carefully, because it goes from boiling to boiling over in ten seconds or so! Once it’s boiling, pour it into the tapioca flour and stir with a wooden spoon or heatproof scraper until it’s all absorbed into a sticky ball.

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Add two beaten eggs and a cup and a half of grated Parmesan cheese. You may want to knead it in with your hands–it should have cooled off enough by now.

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Wait for about 10-15 minutes, then oil your hands and press the dough into a pan. I’d do two things differently next time–I’d lightly grease the pan, and I’d use a half-sheet pan instead of a round to make the crust thinner. If you were making the cheese balls here, you’d instead roll it into golf-ball sized spheres and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

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Bake the dough for 25 minutes, then put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the top a bit.

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Top with pizza sauce (make sure to check your labels as most contain sugar–Whole Foods makes a good sugar-free version in their prepared foods section), and whatever toppings you desire. I used Italian sausage and onions.

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I’ve tried lots of pizza clones–meatza, pork rind crust, cauliflower crust…and this is the first one that didn’t make me feel like I was missing out at all. It is just plain awesome. Sometimes you just have to have pizza, and no bizarre substitute will do. Husband’s exact words after taking his first bite were “I don’t think I’ve ever loved you as much as I do right now.” I think that’s the best endorsement I could get.

Peach-blueberry cobbler

Monday, May 28th, 2012

We went to a family pool party yesterday. Great time, but full of SAD desserts–cupcakes and cookies and things I would dearly love to eat, but can’t. So I made a dessert that my family could eat, but others wouldn’t even know it was paleo.

Start by cutting six small ripe peaches into eighths. Put them in a small lidded Pyrex baking dish along with a cup of blueberries. Stir in a tablespoon each of lemon juice and vanilla, and three tablespoons of tapioca flour.

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In a small bowl, mix a cup and a half of almond flour with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a quarter cup each of melted butter (or coconut oil or ghee) and honey.

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Crumble the topping onto the peach mixture. Pat it down with damp hands if you wish.

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Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for five more minutes to brown the topping some more, if you wish.

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Mexican chicken casserole

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Heads-up–this is Preschooler’s favorite recipe. She loves this stuff even though it’s a bit spicy and is full of horrible poisonous vegetables. Things she wouldn’t dream of eating by themselves are magically delicious when put together like this.

Start by heating a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s melted and hot, add a teaspoon of oregano and a half-teaspoon each of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and ground coriander. Stir and toast the spices in the oil for two minutes.

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Add a pound of chicken tenders and cook them for three minutes per side.

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To that, add a cup of frozen pepper and onion blend and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 4-5 minutes.

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Add a thoroughly drained 2.5-ounce can of sliced black olives, and 3 cups of enchilada sauce. Most canned enchilada sauce is full of crap ingredients–the best I’ve found is Rick Bayless’ bagged version, but it’s expensive–you can look around and find recipes online if you don’t want to spend a fortune. Turn the heat down to low.

While the chicken and sauce simmers, cut up a head of cauliflower and remove the core. Grate the florets using a food processor or box grater until it’s in rice-sized bits. Put it in a 11×9-inch baking dish and add another cup of enchilada sauce.

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Pour the chicken and sauce mixture on top of the cauliflower rice.

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Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. At that point, if you like you can remove the foil and add shredded cheddar cheese, then put it back in the oven for another ten minutes to let the cheese melt.

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Serve with sliced avocado or guacamole, and sour cream if you do dairy.

Buffalo grilled shrimp

Monday, May 28th, 2012

We have a half-cow coming sometime in July, so we have to clear out our freezer to make room for it. Memorial Day means grilling, so Husband suggested surf and turf, with steaks and some frozen gulf shrimp. And Buffalo grilled shrimp is both delicious and really, really easy.

Three ingredients. Peeled shrimp, Frank’s Red Hot (or your favorite hot pepper sauce, but Frank’s is traditional), and grassfed butter or ghee. Put the shrimp on skewers, and grill them until they’re cooked, turning and basting with a mixture of equal parts Frank’s and melted butter. If you want them spicier, do a 2:1 ratio instead.

Tonight I served these alongside sirloin steak with garlic scape butter, and roasted broccoli.

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Apple Raspberry Treats

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Preschooler’s day care is nut-free, which means that breakfasts are limited to yogurt with honey and fruit, or stuff I can make ahead with coconut flour. Lately I’ve been making her fruit muffins with coconut flour, and today’s was an experiment that seems to have worked.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Start with your wet ingredients in a large bowl. Beat four eggs with a cup of applesauce and a half-cup of raspberry all-fruit spread–make sure to check your ingredients! In a smaller bowl, mix together a half-cup of coconut flour and a half-teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. If you want, you can also add a teaspoon of cinnamon, but I had cinnamon applesauce so I didn’t. Add your dry ingredients to the wet and whisk, then let it sit while you thoroughly grease twelve muffin tins (I prefer the silicone kind for paleo baking). When the tins are greased, whisk the batter again to break up the rest of the lumps. Pour it into your greased tins and bake for 12-15 minutes.

They didn’t rise as much as I like, but they’re soft and smell yummy, and Preschooler enjoyed licking the spoon!

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Crab and fried green tomato salad

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

Today, thanks to my in-laws borrowing the preschooler for the day, we got a lot of work done around the house. For the couple of hours before they took her off on a grand adventure, I took her to the farmer’s market. At one booth, four lovely green tomatoes glowed at me like the Holy Grail of produce. I had to buy them. I knew my husband was at home chopping and stacking firewood in 90-degree weather (because really, what better time to do it?) and he’d be working up an appetite. But he’d also be hot and sweaty and wouldn’t want to eat anything hot or heavy. I recalled a fried green tomato and dungeness crab appetizer at a restaurant we’d gone to in Seattle, and I knew we had a couple of cans of crabmeat in the fridge. An idea was born.

First, since I’d just bought a bunch of cool new oils, I decided that I wanted a mayonnaise-based crab salad. First, I drained a one-pound can of wild-caught crabmeat, to which I added three diced stalks of celery and half a diced green bell pepper (red or yellow would make the salad more colorful). Stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of salt, pepper to taste, and a bit of Old Bay if you like. I made my homemade mayonnaise with some avocado oil along with the safflower and olive oil. I used four rounded tablespoons of mayo in the salad, and finally added a few healthy glugs of Tabasco sauce. And back into the fridge it went.

For the fried green tomatoes, I didn’t mess with perfection. I used the wonderful recipe from Paleo Comfort Foods, altering it only to use a different kind of chili pepper, since I didn’t have chipotle. Just look at those beauties!

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To plate it, just pile your crab salad on top of whatever greens and veggies you prefer, then put the fried green tomato slices around it. I put some chèvre crumbles on the tomatoes because I’m not dairy-averse, but it would be delicious without them.

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Scallops with Shiitake Sauce (and Chocolate Avocado Pudding)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Today was a gorgeous day–one of those foggy late spring mornings that clears to a lovely, warm, sunny afternoon. I got a text from my husband that we absolutely needed to eat dinner outside on the back patio. Thankfully, I’d planned to make something that would go well outside and in. I am working my way through a freezer full of seafood to make room for a side of beef in July, so scallops it was. And I had some shiitake mushrooms from our organic produce delivery service, Green Bean Delivery. Some googling around and I had a plan.

First off, even the best scallops are likely going to be treated with a saline solution that makes them really difficult to sear. It also gives them an off taste. So unless you’re lucky enough to get dry scallops fresh off the boat, you’re going to want to brine them. For two pounds of scallops, soak them in a mixture of a quart of water, two tablespoons of salt, and a quarter-cup of lemon juice for 30 minutes. After that, put them on a plate between paper towels (I use 10) with a weight on top for another 30 minutes.

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While they’re soaking and draining, get your veggies prepped. I served these over zucchini noodles. Using a mandoline slicer or julienne peeler, cut zucchini into thin strips. Once you start to see the seeds, stop. This bowl is the end result of five medium zucchini.

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Prep your shiitake mushrooms. You’ll want to cut off the stems if yours came with them, as they’re pretty woody. You’ll want to end up with about this much, which will yield about two cups when sliced.

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Finely mince a shallot until you have about two tablespoons of them. Set them aside with the mushrooms. You’ll also want 3/4 cups of sparkling white wine (I used vinho verde, because it’s what I had on hand), a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a pinch of dried tarragon, two pinches of kosher salt, and 1/3 cup of sour cream.

Now you’re ready to cook. In a large Dutch oven, heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Put your zucchini strips in the coconut oil, and your scallops, which will likely require 2 batches, in the skillet. The zucchini will just need to stir until it takes on the texture of cooked pasta, at which point you can salt it to taste and add a bit of Parmesan or garlic if you want. The scallops should sear for about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.

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When the scallops are done, put them on a plate. Add the shiitakes and shallots and sauté them for three minutes or so, until the mushrooms release their liquid and it evaporates.

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Add the wine, Dijon, tarragon, and salt. Scrape up all the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Let it boil a bit, then turn the heat all the way down to low and whisk in the sour cream. Serve scallops with the sauce over the zucchini noodles and enjoy a nice spring evening.

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For dessert (and I apologize for getting no pictures of this), I had an avocado to use up, so I decided to finally experiment with chocolate avocado pudding. It really couldn’t be easier. For two adults and a preschooler, you’ll want to blend together one ripe avocado with two tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1/4 cup nut butter (I used almond), 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar, 1/2 cup water, and a pinch of kosher salt. Once it’s blended, put it in your ramekins or bowls and stick it in the fridge until it’s ready to eat.

Why we remodeled our kitchen

Monday, May 21st, 2012

We lived in our kitchen for a year before we started the remodeling process. In that year, we got to think about exactly how we wanted our kitchen to be. We wanted a space where both of us could work without tripping over one another. We wanted adequate storage for our utensils and small appliances. And most importantly, we wanted ventilation. Every time I made hamburgers or roast chicken, our house got smoky and smelled bad for hours.

Well, we have it now. Behold, as I sear some sous-vide steaks on a cast-iron grill pan while finishing the side of sautéed spinach and leeks. Yes, those are six-inch high open flames.