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Archive for the ‘condiments’ Category

Sous vide flank steak with dairy-free creamed spinach

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

So I finished my Whole30, if you can call it finished seeing as I haven’t gone back to my old ways. I’ve lost 8 pounds, an inch off my waist and an inch and a half off my hips, and gained a great deal of energy and a much better attitude. I don’t even miss dairy all that much, especially when I can find great substitutes like I did tonight.

But I’ll begin with the flank steak, and tell you a little story about the girl with no freezer space. We’re getting half a grassfed cow again next week–something that generally fills up our chest freezer at least halfway. But then on Monday, I noticed that my favorite pastured pork provider actually had availability for the first time in ages. I ordered some skin, chops (best chops on Earth), ground pork, and spare ribs. And I might have gotten a little carried away. I have a freezer that’s…pretty full. And it has to be decidedly less full in a week and a half. Eep. When I put the pork in, I took out some other stuff–a chicken, some sausages I got from my organic grocery delivery service, and a flank steak.

Sous vide is a great way of cooking lean meats like flank steak. For this one, you’ll need some sort of immersion cooker–there are ways to hack a cooler into a decent sous vide machine, but that’s for shorter times than this will require. You’ll want either a Sous Vide Supreme or the less expensive Sous Vide Magic which turns crock pots or rice cookers into sous vide cookers. I asked for the Magic last Christmas, but got the Supreme Demi, because Husband is just that awesome.

To make the flank steak, rub it with a bit of the green stuff or some salt and pepper, put it in a vacuum-sealed bag, and put it in your sous vide at 131 degrees. You can even put it in fully frozen if you want–I did. That temperature gets you medium-rare. If you want rare, try about 127. If you want it more cooked than medium-rare, you’re nuts and should probably just go be a vegan or something. 24 hours later (mine was more like 27, and it would probably still be good up to 48 hours later), take it out, pat it dry, and either sear it on very high heat for a minute per side or take your kitchen torch to the outside of it. When the outside is seared to your liking, slice it thinly against the grain. It ends up with an awesome texture–mine had some gristle in it that I was worried would make it too chewy, but it just pulled right apart, and the gristle was all gelatin.

For the creamed spinach, I used the raw cashew “cream” sauce base from Against All Grain, replacing the basil with dried parsley and ignoring the rest of the (admittedly delicious-looking) recipe. Whiz your soaked cashews and reserved soaking water in the food processor. It’ll look runny, but it eventually sets up. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice and whiz it again until it’s smooth. Add a little bit of it to some sautéed baby spinach and stir until it’s warmed through. You may also want to add some extra salt. The rest of the sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days. I plan on tossing it with some broccoli tomorrow.

Doesn’t that look awesome? I can attest that it was. I don’t miss the dairy in the least.

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Totally homemade grass-fed ghee

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Husband and I have bought lovely grassfed ghee from Pure Indian Foods a number of times, but I’ve always wondered if it was economically feasible to make my own. And by make my own, I meant starting from cream and ending at ghee. I love the grassfed cream from Snowville Creamery in my area (and chances are you have someone doing something similar in yours), but it comes in half-gallons only, and I find it very difficult to use before it goes bad. Making butter is an easy way to use up cream that’s nearing its expiration date. Plus, I’m starting a Whole30 tomorrow, so having dairy around won’t do me any good.

For butter, all you need is cream and a blender or food processor. Fill your vessel up not much more than halfway (for a full half gallon, I do two batches), and blend. About a minute in, you’ll have nice whipped cream, if you want to stop and grab some for berries. Keep blending, and you’ll notice that the whipped cream will start to look a bit crumbly and yellow. That’s the beginnings of butter. Eventually it’ll separate into butter and thin whey. When the butter clumps together into a large ball, you can take it out. Drain the whey off by pouring your blender contents into a strainer set over a large bowl. Let it drain for about ten minutes, then turn on the sink and make sure the water is as cold as it can get. Roll the butter into a ball, getting any small scraps that may have been separate from the initial clump, and massage the butter under the water, then take it out and squeeze out all the water. Keep doing this until the water that comes out of the butter is clear–that’s how you know you’ve washed all the remaining whey out. At this point, you could add salt if you want salted butter, and just store it in the fridge.

But we’re making ghee. Stick your butterball into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat (I used my simmer burner for this). Very slowly allow it to melt and bring it to a boil. You’ll hear it crackle–that’s all the water cooking out of the butter from the butter-making process and from the milk solids that naturally occur in butter. Make sure it’s just barely boiling and the butter remains yellow; if it’s brown, you burnt it. The top will get very foamy.

Stir it occasionally. Eventually, about ten to fifteen minutes after it started boiling, when you stir the foam away you’ll be able to see to the bottom of the pan. That means your milk solids have all separated from the clarified butter. Turn off the heat and wait about 20 minutes, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer or a couple of layers of cheesecloth into a jar. It should look like liquid sunshine.

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I got a little less than three cups of ghee out of one $10 half-gallon of cream, which seems like a good deal. If you don’t have a good source of grassfed cream, you can always start with a few sticks of unsalted Kerrygold butter. The ghee will keep in your fridge for at least a couple of months. I’ve never had it go bad before using it all. Use it for cooking in place of butter. It also makes a great dip for seafood or artichokes when heated and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt.

Paleo Father’s Day Brunch

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

brunch

Clockwise from top: Celery root “hash browns,” crabcake eggs Benedict, and sausage gravy and biscuits.

This was a really fabulous brunch–had it at 10 AM and was really not very hungry even when dinner rolled around.

The hash browns were amazing. I’ve really missed breakfast potatoes since I made the switch to a Primal diet, and these were amazingly good. The celery root shredded right up in the food processor, and they cooked into a wonderful soft texture that I’ve never really managed to pull off with actual potatoes. Cook them a bit longer than the recipe calls for–I gave them an extra five minutes per side and still didn’t get them as crispy as I could have. Otherwise, they’re dead easy–shredded celery root, salt, and pepper, fried in whatever oil you prefer–I used ghee. My mother-in-law couldn’t tell that they weren’t potatoes.

The sausage gravy and biscuits I made from this Robb Wolf recipe. About the only thing I did differently was omit the fennel in the gravy, used tapioca flour instead of arrowroot powder, and beat the egg whites into soft peaks for the biscuits (I shouldn’t have bothered–it took so much stirring to incorporate all the coconut flour that it deflated them completely). I’ll keep searching for a better biscuit recipe. The gravy was really good, though–couldn’t tell that it was dairy-free at all!

I’ve made crab cakes on here before–they’re one of those things that I make a little differently every time. The standard is crabmeat + egg + almond flour + green onions + Old Bay + salt and pepper. Sometimes I use a little bit of diced celery or celery seed. I fried them in olive oil for about 5 minutes per side, and then put them in the oven at 200 degrees on a cookie sheet to keep warm along with the hash browns while I made the rest of the meal. To make the Benedict, I made hollandaise sauce using my stick blender. Put 3 room temperature egg yolks in the beaker, and top with the rest of the ingredients. Put the barely-melted butter in last, let it settle for about 15 seconds, then whiz it with the stick blender until it’s smooth. You can do this in a regular blender or food processor too, but I prefer the stick blender version. You’ll want this to be the last thing you do for the meal, because if it cools off too much it’s really not very good, and it can’t be reheated. To plate it up, top a crab cake with a poached or fried egg, then pour the hollandaise over it.

Plank Grilled Salmon with Ramp Pesto and Roasted Sunchokes

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Today was the first farmer’s market of the year. I look forward to this day to a ridiculous degree, and very rarely does it live up to my expectations, as there’s just not too much in season right now. But this year? AWESOME. I found a bunch of stuff I rarely ever see, including the world’s most perfect ramps. Ramps, for those of you who don’t know, are a wild spring onion, also referred to as wild leeks, even though they look nothing like the leeks you’re familiar with. If you can only find the bulbs, use them in the same way you’d use garlic. If you’re lucky enough to find them with the leaves still attached, they look like this.

fresh ramps

Whole wild ramps make awesome pesto. Take 10-15 of them. Remove the bulbs and chop them coarsely. Chop the stems and leaves coarsely as well. Make a pile of bulbs, a pile of stems, and a pile of leaves.

cut ramps

Over medium heat, saute the bulbs only in olive oil for about two minutes, until they start to brown a bit. Add the stems and saute it for another minute, then add the leaves and saute until wilted, about another minute more.

cooked ramps

Put them in the food processor with about a half cup of toasted walnuts or pine nuts. Pulse a few times. Add a half-cup of Parmesan cheese and a pinch of Kosher salt. Pulse again a few times. Slowly add a half-cup of olive oil, pulsing occasionally. You don’t want it to be a puree–you want some chunkiness to it.

ramp pesto

Sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes (which are neither artichokes nor from Jerusalem), are a nice low-starch tuber. They’re ugly as hell, though, and they supposedly make you quite flatulent, although I ate mine about 3 hours ago and have yet to get that particular symptom. You can eat them raw or cooked–they’re quite versatile. To roast them, start with two pounds. Peel half of them, and leave the skins on the other half–you’ll want to scrub those with a sponge under warm water to get all the dirt off. Cut them in bite-size chunks.

sunchokes

Toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I did mine for 30 but they could have gone 10 more minutes and been a bit creamier. But like I mentioned, you can eat them raw, so it’s not like they’re gross if they come out a little undercooked.

For the planked salmon, heat your grill to about 450 degrees. Soak an alder or cedar plank in water for at least an hour. I let mine soak for most of the afternoon. When your grill is ready, put the plank on it for 10 minutes, lid down. Flip the plank and put your salted and peppered salmon filets on it, skin side down. A standard-size plank should fit 4 salmon filets–if you’re making more than that, you’ll need more planks. Close the lid again, and let the salmon cook on the plank for 12 minutes. Remove promptly. The skin should stick to the plank, leaving a nice soft salmon filet to put on your plate.

Serve it with ramp pesto and the sunchokes. Eat it outside, take a bite before you take a picture, and marvel at the new leaves, the birds and sunshine, and all the bounties of another wonderful spring.

salmon sunchokes pesto

Speaking of the bounties of another spring, tomorrow I’ll show you the morels.

Spiced Ground Beef with Cauliflower Zucchini Puree

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Lately, I’ve been perusing the recipe forum over at Mark’s Daily Apple. One of the posters there runs an awesome blog based on Paleo versions of classic Middle Eastern dishes. I kid you not, it seems like every other post is a dish that I absolutely love the non-Paleo version of, so it was only a matter of time before I made one. Tonight was the night to try my first one out.

I moved last August, away from a neighborhood that had a ton of restaurants within walking distance. One of the restaurants I frequented, pre-Paleo, was called Aladdin’s. They served a dish of spiced, browned ground beef on top of hummus, with pine nuts and diced tomatoes. When I saw Paleo Middle Eastern’s version, I was intrigued. I wasn’t sure how the cauliflower and zucchini would work to approximate hummus. I also wasn’t sure what 7 spice was–I had to Google it. Turns out it’s an equal mixture blend of cinnamon, allspice, peppercorns, nutmeg, fenugreek, cloves, and ground ginger. Amazingly enough, I had all spices on hand, so I toasted up everything but the ground ginger, tossed it in the coffee grinder, and added the ginger to the ground spices.

Homemade 7-spice made, I worked on the “hummus” puree. I had two large zucchini on hand, so that’s what I used. I must have had small lemons, because the three I had left only netted me a quarter-cup of juice–I had to run out and get more. I split the difference and used 3/4 cup of tahini. I also used a bag of frozen cauliflower, and since I used frozen, I ended up not adding the 1/2 cup water to the mix. Nobody’s going to be fooled into thinking that this is hummus, but it’s delicious nonetheless. Toddler, who is utterly repulsed by vegetables and by cauliflower especially, went insane for this. She kept begging for it while I was cooking the beef, and probably ate a quarter-cup of it before we even got to the table. And at the table, she ate it with a spoon and completely ignored the beef–generally the opposite of how dinner usually goes down at our house. This alone is enough for me to recommend this recipe.

The beef is awesome too. Nicely spiced and stirred while browning into a fine mince, it’s a perfect accompaniment to the puree. This made me feel like I was at Aladdin’s again. If you are not nightshade-sensitive, garnish it with a few pieces of seeded, diced Roma tomato. A drizzle of olive oil would also be a nice touch.

License to Grill

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Here’s three quick and easy recipes for grilling season, only one I’ll have pictures for.

First thing is two marinades, one for chicken breasts and one for flank steak. Both of these things are very grill-friendly, and they taste great cold, which is perfect for a lunch salad. If you’re going to fire up the grill for steaks or chops, I suggest throwing these on the coals as well, and you’ll have lunch meat for the week.

Chicken one is ridiculously easy. Put your chicken breasts (about a pound to a pound and a half’s worth) in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Pour in a half-cup each of lemon juice and soy sauce. Add 3-4 spoonfuls of jarred minced garlic (you just want the flavor, not the texture, so the jarred stuff is great in marinades) and about the same of grated ginger. Grind in about 15 grinds worth of black pepper, then close the bag, squeezing out as much air as you can. The best way to do this is to close the bag about halfway, and then fold the top half of the back back over the bottom half, so the liquid stays in the bottom but the air goes out the opening. Then close it the rest of the way, shake it up so all the garlic and ginger and pepper mixes into the marinade, and put it in the fridge. 30 minutes to 8 hours later, take it out and grill it.

Flank steak is a bit more complicated, but still delicious. You’ll want another gallon Ziploc bag, and about a 1.5 lb flank steak. Put the flank steak in the bag. Since the marinade has a lot of ingredients, I like to do this one in a separate small mixing bowl and pour it in after it’s all made. Start with a half-cup of olive oil, a third-cup of soy sauce, and a quarter cup of red wine vinegar. Squeeze in the juice of a small lemon, or half of a large one. Add two or three spoonfuls of that jarred garlic, 1-2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and another 15 or so grinds of black pepper. Whisk it until the oil is well-incorporated, then pour it into the baggie and seal it up. This one takes about 4-8 hours in the fridge to marinate–you’ll want to turn it over halfway through.

The third recipe is for keftas. For two to three pounds of ground beef or lamb, you’ll want to start with two large handfuls of flat parsley leaves–no stems. You can also add the tops of 2 green onions, or some mint if you’re using lamb. You can also use a little bit of minced garlic, some sumac, or whatever other Middle-Eastern spices you want. I prefer to keep these relatively simple. Mine just have the parsley, green onions, and about a teaspoon of dried sumac. For a good idea of the total amount of herbs to use, this is a full-sized salad spinner in this picture.

kefta herbs

Finely mince your herbs (I use the food processor) and then mix them in with your meat. Add at least a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper as well.

To make the keftas, you’ll want to get a palmful of the meat mixture and make a long, narrow tube. Think the approximate size and length of a toilet paper roll.

rolled keftas

Once they’re all rolled, they’re ready to grill. You can put them on skewers, but it’s not necessary if you’re careful turning them.

While they’re grilling, make your tahini sauce. Pour half a cup of tahini into a small mixing bowl. Add about 3 cloves of fresh crushed garlic and two pinches of kosher salt. Whisk in two tablespoons of olive oil and a quarter-cup of lemon juice. If it’s too thick, add warm water a tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Serve your keftas with a green salad, kalamata olives, some seedless cucumber, feta cheese if you’re into dairy, and the tahini sauce.

finished keftas

Chicken Oscar-ish

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

This isn’t exactly Chicken Oscar. Technically, Oscar-style contains crabmeat, but we had these frozen langostinos we had to use up, so I used those instead. This recipe is definitely greater than the sum of its parts!

The beginning is easy. Take however many boneless, skinless chicken breasts you need, liberally salt and pepper them, and saute them until they’re golden brown and cooked through. This usually takes about 8 minutes per side.

During the first 8 minutes, prep your asparagus. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Trim the bottom couple of inches off your asparagus. Put it on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. After you flip the chicken, put the sheet in the oven. Take it out with 4 minutes left on the chicken timer to turn them, then put it back in.

With your last 4 minutes, make the Hollandaise. You can do this in a blender, or with a stick blender or food processor. Melt a stick of butter in the microwave, then let it sit on the counter while you gather the other ingredients. You’ll need two egg yolks, topped with the juice of half a lemon. Put them in your blender or food processor cup, then turn it on. Drizzle the melted butter into the blending egg and lemon in a thin stream and blend until all the butter is incorporated. Voila, you have Hollandaise, and it didn’t even require a double boiler!

Hey, the chicken’s done! Put it on the serving plates. Take your crabmeat or langostinos and heat it up in the skillet about 1-2 minutes. Remove it from the heat. Take the asparagus out of the oven. Top the chicken with the crabmeat, and either put the asparagus on the side or cut it up and put it on top of the chicken and crab. Top the whole thing with Hollandaise.

oscar

Toddler went absolutely crazy over this one. She even ate some of the asparagus, which is impressive given her general distaste for all things green.

Churn the butter! Churn the butter!

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

One of the tenets of Primal eating is that whenever possible, animal products should be either wild-caught (in the case of seafood) or grass-fed if it’s a land-dweller. Corn and soy feed ends up negatively affecting the fats in the meat. This study has some details about that, in case you’re curious.

This extends to things like milk and butter and cheese. It’s best if these things come from grassfed cows. A neat trick is knowing that anything from Ireland involves grassfed cows, due to Irish laws and regulations. The most widely available brand is Kerrygold, so you can buy that one with confidence. But if you can find a source of local grassfed dairy, making your own butter is actually a snap. We get our milk and cream from Snowville Creamery, a wonderful local dairy with grassfed cows. The milk is pasteurized at the lowest temperature possible by law, and it gets from cow to store within 48 hours. Fantastic stuff.

To make butter, all you need is a good source of cream, and a blender or food processor. Put your cream in there, and turn it on. It’ll first make whipped cream. You may want to stop your blender at that point and put a few dollops of the cream on some blueberries or strawberries. Your Toddler will thank you for the mid-morning snack. After you get to the whipped cream, point, keep going. Eventually, after about 4-5 minutes, you will notice the whipped cream start to separate into butter and liquid. Let it go for about 30 seconds more, until the butter starts to clump, and then turn off your blender. Pour the butter into a colander over a large bowl, and repeat if you have a large amount of cream–Snowville only comes in half-gallons, so I did this twice. This is what the butter looks like out of the blender.
undrained butter
Technically you could eat it like this, but to get it to keep longer, you’ll want to rinse it. Run cold water in your sink and massage the butter under it until the liquid coming out of it runs clear. This gets all the remaining liquid milk out of the butter. At this point, you can put it into a storage container and stir some salt into it if you want it salted–otherwise, just leave it be. Our half-gallon of cream made a little over a pound and a half of butter. Would have been more, were it not for me stopping for whipped cream, and then sneaking bites now and then as I worked.
finished butter
Easy, delicious, and no churn involved!

The Homemade Mayonnaise Tasting Menu

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

So as you saw, yesterday I finally manged to conquer homemade mayonnaise. Which was awesome, but led to a minor problem, namely the issue of what to do with all that effing mayonnaise. Thanks to a comment from my dear friend at Braise, Boil, Bake, I had one idea–grilled artichokes with garlic aioli. And I had a sirloin tip roast thawed out in the fridge. And crab claws in the freezer. And we just bought this delicious local garlic butter at Costco and OMG SURF AND TURF. With HORSERADISH SAUCE.

First we have the artichokes. I’ve loved artichokes ever since my first taste of them as a child, likely due to the fact that they are essentially a vehicle for the transportation of some sort of dip to my mouth. My stepfather used to serve them with butter, and that’s perfectly fine, but roasted garlic aioli is also wonderful. You’ll want to purchase one artichoke per person.
artichokes
To prepare them for cooking, you’ll want to trim the stem close to the globe. Leave a little bit of stem, because it’s good eating. Cut off the top quarter inch or so of the artichoke, then trim the tip of each leaf. That part’s not 100% necessary, but it makes eating them a lot more comfortable, because the tips are a bit spiny. When it’s done, it’ll look something like this.
Trimmed artichoke
While you’re working on the artichoke, heat up some liquid for steaming them. I used water, with a quartered lemon, two bay leaves, and about 10 peppercorns.
stockpot
Put your steamer basket in, put the artichokes in the steamer basket, and steam them for 15 minutes. Set them aside and let them cool.
While they’re cooling, start the roasted garlic. Peel the white papery outer layer from two whole heads of garlic, being careful not to separate the cloves.
peeled garlic
When they’re peeled, cut the tips off, then put them on squares of aluminum foil and drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil on top of them.
uncooked roasted garlic
Wrap them up in the foil and put them in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.
Now it’s time to prep your meat. Take a sirloin tip roast and coat it with whatever rub you want. I used the rub I made for a brisket a while back, but you can use the Green Stuff, salt and pepper, Montreal seasoning, or whatever else tickles your fancy.
rubbed meat...hot
Then grill it over indirect heat until the inside reaches 130 for rare, or 135 for medium rare. Any more and you’re a damned heathen and shouldn’t bother reading this.
While it’s grilling, it’s time to work on the Mayonnaise Flight. First off, you’ll want to make the horseradish sauce. Take half a cup or so of sour cream, three tablespoons of mayo, about 1/2 to 1 tsp of ground mustard seed, two pinches of salt, about 1/4 tsp of white pepper, horseradish to taste (anywhere from 2-4 tablespoons, depending on strength) and about a tsp of apple cider vinegar.
unmixed horsey sauce
Mix it all up, and it’ll be smooth and creamy. Pop it back in the fridge to let the flavors blend.
horsey sauce
Is your garlic done? Take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then unwrap it from the foil and squeeze the cloves into a bowl. Mash them up with a fork.
roasted garlic
Add another 1/4 cup or so of mayonnaise, and stir well. Pop that back into the fridge to let the flavors blend.
Remember your artichokes? They should be nice and cool by now. Cut them in half lengthwise.
half artichokes
Artichokes come nicely color-coded so you know what’s edible and what’s not. Get rid of anything that’s purple or furry. Pull out those inner leaves and scrape the furry part out with a spoon. If you’re a deviant like me, at this point you fill the cavity you just scraped out with some garlic butter.
buttery artichokes
When your meat hits the desired temperature, pull it off the grill and wrap it loosely in foil. Let it sit for a while. Put the artichokes on the grill, cut side up. Let them grill for 10 minutes. Tip them a little bit to let the butter run between the leaves, then turn them cut side down and grill for 5 minutes more.
At this point, you can steam your crab if you have it. I added a beer and some Old Bay to the same steaming water I used for the artichokes.
Oh, hey, the artichokes are done!
grilled artichokes
And it’s time to cut the meat! Cut it thinly against the grain. Serve the meat with horseradish sauce, the artichokes with the garlic aioli, and the crab with melted butter. Then serve a meal that’s totally worth fasting instead of having lunch.
smorgasbord
Toddler ate a slice of beef, a few bites of crab, and even some of the inner leaves of the artichoke!

I conquered mayo, finally!

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

After going through a dozen eggs yesterday and failing miserably, I finally managed to make a batch of mayo this afternoon. I used my new stick blender and this handy-dandy recipe, complete with Youtube video here.

2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon (I used a little less) white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp sugar (I left it out, but if you want some sweetness you could use coconut crystals or honey)
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup olive oil

Watch the video for how to do it–it’s a lot better than reading written directions.