Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lamb Chops with Cucumber-Basil-Mint Salad

Shoutout: My gal pal Elizabeth Pawlicki is the BEST at making lamb chops. Everything I know about lamb chops I learned from her.
This dinner is obviously Greek-leaning. I think the trick to achieving good Greek flavors is to use the freshest herbs you can get. Oh, and using real Greek yogurt.

Here are some shots of my mother's beautiful but wild gardens, from whence I snagged most of the fresh herbs you'll see in this post.
Tomato Plants:
Rothhaus Front Garden:

Yogurt is not really allowed on Paleo, but Geoff let me make an exception and we used the yogurt sauce here as a dipping sauce for the lamb.

Some chops
Olive oil
Freshly ground cracked black pepper

Get a hot sear going on all sides of the chops. If you have quality chops, it's okay to eat when the insides are hot pink. If you don't have quality chops, wait until you can get your hands on some. Come on, this ain't no dog and pony show!

Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce:
1 small container greek yogurt
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fresh dill
(This one isn't rocket science... mix the ingredients together.)

Cucumber Salad:
Diced cucumbers
Diced tomatoes
Fresh spearmint, finely chopped
Fresh dill
Fresh basil (we used the green and purple varieties you can see above)
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp Olive oil

Optional: Top with feta cheese.

Verdict: We both LOVED this one! We'll be making it again.

Coconut Milk Chicken Marsala with Gingered Carrots

My roommates said that this one looked like baby poop. I say, shut your face, roommates!

Chicken thighs
Marsala spices (available at Indian grocery stores)
1 can of coconut milk
Fresh ginger, diced

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the can of coconut milk and marsala spices. I used about 3 T of marsala spice, but you should add little by little and taste until it's a color and taste that you can live with. Remember that it will get stronger as it cooks down!

Toss the chicken thighs in a little bit of oil and cook in a wide pan with high sides. When the chicken is halfway cooked, add the coconut milk mixture and turn the heat to medium low. How do you know when the chicken is halfway cooked? I have no idea. Try asking it. You must guesstimate, because cooking is an art, not a science.

Allow the coconut milk mixture and marsala spices to reduce by at least half until the sauce is thick. This took us about 30 minutes.

For the carrots, heat 2 T butter in a flat pan. Toss the ginger and carrots and saute until soft.

Does it look like baby poop? Maybe. But, then what the heck are you feeding your babies, people????

Spicy Orange Hunan Chicken

This dish has the potential for some serious heat, but can be made more or less spicy by the addition or subtraction of the toasted red chiles.

Two boneless chicken thighs, cubed
1 C Chicken broth
3 T Orange juice
Orange pieces of 1 orange (supremed, or just cut up)
Orange zest
Diced fresh ginger
Diced fresh garlic
Chard leaves 
Dried red chiles, finely diced
Sesame seeds (for garnish)

In a large, broad pan, toast the dried red chiles. Set aside.

Heat a T of oil in the same pan, add chicken, and toss. Cook for a few minutes, then add chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, ginger, and garlic. Add a pinch of the toasted chiles - the more you add at this point, the spicier things will get. Cook the chicken in the broth mixture until the mixture reduces by half.

Geoff just moved into a new apartment, and the can opener was no where to be found. Look at this caveman re-inventing a way to open a can of broth a la screwdriver. Looks pretty safe, no?

Wilt the chard leaves over the chicken and broth while it steams. Remove the leaves and arrange on a plate.

When the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the broth mixture has reduced by half, plate the chicken atop the chard leaves and pour broth mixture over the chicken. Top with the supremed orange slices, toasted chiles, and sesame seeds.

Verdict: We both really liked this one!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Black and White Sesame Seared Tuna, Sauteed Veggies, and Mango

Oops. Wrong Tuna

A pattern is beginning to form: Caitlin is more of the play-by-play announcer, while I am the bumbling idiot of a color commentator.  That is understandable, what with her being kind of a food wizard, the Harry Potter of the kitchen, if you will.  Maybe that is a good setup, as a majority of the meals have been concocted by her, while I am attempting to play Sous Chef, more likely just getting in her way.  On to the play by play.

1. Buy Sushi grade tuna. See below, man-sized and lady-sized pieces.
2. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
3. Heat oil in a pan on high.
4. Sear it, FAST! The inside should still be raw.
5. Dip in B&W sesame seeds.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Big Turkey Salad

Thomas Jefferson had serious beef with the bald eagle. He wanted our national bird to be a turkey. Seriously. Can you imagine people running around with turkey tattoos and turkey decals on the backs of their Harleys? Uh, rad.

He wrote: 
"I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country, he is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly, you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to its nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him.... Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest. . . of America.. . . For a truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on."

Well, sorry Tom. Far be it from me to tell you what's patriotic and what's not, but looks like we're stuck with the bald eagle for good (that scoundrel of a bird.) That is why we're eating turkey salad, and not bald eagle salad.

One big turkey salad:
Some lettuce.
Turkey bites.
Olive oil, red wine vinegar, pepper.

Mexican Braised Pork Shoulder Lettuce Wraps

Hola mis amigos. Hoy vamos a comer algo de comida mexicana. N burritos o Chimichanga no, o cualquier cosa disponible en Taco Bell. En su lugar vamos a llegar a disfrutar de un plato más tradicional.
Hello my friends. Today we will be eating some Mexican Food. No not burritos or chimichangas; or anything available at Taco Bell. Instead we will get to enjoy a more traditional dish.

Ok, enough of that. I didn’t take 16 years of English in school to use Google to translate what I want into Spanish.

In all honesty, Taco Bell or your local “Mexican” restaurants barely constitute anything resembling true authentic Mexican food. And that is a cussing shame. At any of the aforementioned establishments, what can you say about almost everything on the menu; it includes grated cheap cheese, tomatoes, peppers, meat or “meat”, and a flour/corn based shell (food transferring device). Now consider the Wikipedia definition of - Mexican cuisine - known for its varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices and ingredients, many of which are native to the country. These two don’t really line up.

There are many problems with attempting to make a primal Mexican dish, several of the most used ingredients are forbidden. Corn, nope. Beans, nope. And as hard as I tried, I was unable to wrangle us some iguana, rattlesnake, or spider monkey. And you have to believe spider monkeys are delicious. So instead we had to settle for pork, ho hum.

That being said, we both were pretty impressed with the end product. A braised pork shoulder in traditional Mexican spices, pulled and then wrapped in a leaf of lettuce, topped with some additional spices.

Now how we did it...

A 2lb pork shoulder is more than enough for two people for two meals (at least.)

The night before eating, heat oil in a large, broad pan. A cast-iron pan is preferred, but not required.

Season the shoulder with pepper and (a little) salt. Thoroughly brown the pork on all sides. The more browning you do now, the more flavorful the meat will be later.
I chose a bone-in shoulder, because, I don't know, that is what they had at the store. You can do this with a boneless shoulder cut too.

Put the shoulder in a crockpot and fill with water until it's juuuust covered. Add cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, black pepper, paprika, and cumin to taste. We also threw in a whole jalapeno. You can set the crockpot insert into the fridge overnight.

In the morning, rise and shine and plug in your pork. Go to work. When you come back home, your house will be filled with the awesome meaty aromas of Mexican pork shoulder.
Then... Shred it!
 We ate our pork as lettuce wraps in bibb lettuce, with such accouterments as avocado, tomatoes, lime, cilantro, etc.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicago Bacon Takedown

The brains behind The Primal Foodie has entered herself into an official food cook off.  One that most primal / paleo eaters would support.  Bacon.  What perfect timing.  (Added bonus: Bacon infused recipes for the next couple weeks)

So grab your tickets and come vote for Caitlin at the Bacon Takedown, because wouldn't it be sweet to win a full set of Wuesthof knives?

In order to get into the spirit of things, we will be bathing in bacon... masking our halitosis in bacon... fixin our dogs in bacon... and even paying our respective rents in bacon.

Bacon flavored heart medication soon to be needed (invented?)...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Green Eggs (No Ham)

We tried the Fat Guacamole Devil recipe from Mark's Daily Apple...

Geoff made the egg filling, so it turned out quite spicy (of course!) Here is our modification on the recipe...
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (Geoff used... maybe... a gallon or so)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice (we used about 1 and a 1/2 tsp)
  • salt & pepper to taste (we omitted the salt and sprinkled paprika on top like a traditional deviled egg.)
Just make it like a regular deviled egg, substituting smashed avocado for mayo and mustard.

Next time I'm adding little ham cubes.

A Photo-Ode to Breakfast

Herbed Cornish Hens with Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale

In the caveman world, not every guy can be the alpha male. Just like today, there’s a dude named Milford or Hirsch or Winston who sucks at sports and keeps a TI-89 in his pocket at all times and enjoys jokes like,

“What do you get when you cut a jack o’lantern by its diameter? Pumpkin pi.”

(If Winston happens to be your name, no offense, four eyes.)
(Give me your lunch money or I’ll tell everyone about your Spiderman sheets.)
(By the way, how do you like running the world, Steve Jobs?)

It’s a fact of life that Winston didn’t get the lion’s share of the caveman kill. Was he off to the side inventing the wheel or robots or whatever? Probably. It is scientifically proven that the Winstons of the world subsisted on Cornish hens, which are basically tiny chickens with tiny chicken brains. Easy prey. Easy to cook. Leaves enough time to do a little trigonometry and not score with chicks.

These little babies just need some butter and herbs under and over their skin, and a bouquet of herbs shoved up inside the cavity. Please, be a gentleman and buy the girl some dinner first.

We used fresh oregano, thyme, and rosemary. Bake for an hour at 375, basting occasionally with the butter that melts off. Easy squeezy.

We also roasted some butternut squash, which is of course native to North America. Cut side down on a greased pan, 45 minutes.

Leftover kale too – a caveman wastes not, especially when he’s as smart as Winston. We topped with some toasted almonds and squash seeds.

Verdict: I loved it. Geoff liked it too, but thought it was too much work/took too long for not enough of an end product. We both really liked the butternut squash. Kale was a winner the second time around too, and quite good with the roasted almonds/squash seeds.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Spicy Baked Pollack with Garlic-Sautéed Kale

The garlic sautéed kale is modified from the Mustards Grill cookbook that we borrowed from the Kleins. It was great!

The idea with the greens is to wash them and cut off any bitter stems. This recipe would work for mustard greens, chard, or kale as we did here. Anything dark and leafy with a little bit of structure to it. Probably not spinach, as that would get too mush-tastic and fall apart.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large, broad pan and add 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic. Once the oil starts to bubble slightly, place the greens in the pan, toss, sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper, and allow to wilt. The greens are going to release some liquid as they cook, but that is AOK because you're going to use that.

When the greens are fully wilted but not mushy, remove from the pan, reserving the cooking liquid. Add a couple of tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook the liquid down until it's thickened and drizzle over the greens.

Pollack is a fish that is pretty important to the New England region (it's an Atlantic fish), so we chose it for North America week. Pretty much any white fish can be prepared this way: we threw some cayenne pepper, black pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder to taste on the pollack and tossed it in the oven for 15 (@400). Pollack is a white, firm "fishy fish," but making it spicy tones down the fishiness of it a little. Squeezing a few lemons on it won't hurt either.

Ask your fish dude to cut off any skin for you if you don't like it.

We made it quite spicy, so I immediately got a little sweaty and sucked down multiple glasses of water and gargled my beer. (Kidding! Well, about the gargling. Not about the rest.) Geoff, of course, was fine. You should adjust the spice to what you're comfortable with.

Verdict: We both liked it, but be forewarned that pollack is definitely a "fishy" fish. I thought it was too spicy. The garlic-sautéed kale was the breakout star.