Bits and PIeces

One of the commitments I’ve made to myself since I started eating Paleo/Primal is that I should include organ meats more often, and I’ve come from a standard “Ew” to a “At least every two weeks”. It definitely helps that I can buy pastured lamb liver for about $2.00 a pound.

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However, I actually do not know many ways to cook liver. So I decided to “combine it” this time. I cooked the liver in coconut oil, having seasoned it with salt, pepper and thyme, until it was cooked but not leathery, and then mixed it (including the grease from the pan) with greens that included kale, spinach and arugula. The result was a warm salad that could be eaten right there, or saved in the fridge for later consumption (in my case, as lunch).
I wanted to talk a bit about the trick of cooking liver (although I don’t have more pictures of liver being cooked). I’ve found that the best way to cook it is to fry it in butter or coconut oil, which had to be pre warmed to a decent temperature. I’ve never done it but apparently a good trick is to introduce a chopstick (wood) in the oil and if it bubbles, is ready. And when you are frying it, first you have to wait for a while – let’s say, three to five minutes; then flip it, wait a bit more, and THEN start moving it. Why? Well, liver is soft, so its outer portion can burn even if the inside is not cooked yet. Moving it prevents it from burning, but it allows it to finish cooking – after all, we don’t want a bloody liver. And yes, always try and split a piece just to make sure that the liver is cooked through. I usually like to keep it cooking for 30 seconds after seeing it cooked just to ensure everything is cooked (and not just that one bit).

More salads in more jars

So I am forgetful. Really. A lot. That’s why I keep looking into stuff like Getting Things Done and the Secret Weapon Evernote integration in order to keep my life in check. As soon as I know I have to do something, I write it there and then periodically check it out so I know what I am supposed to do next. Except when I forget jotting the tasks down. Like taking the chicken out of the marinade.

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This satay had one of the most simple, if not packed marinades I’ve seen: ginger, paprika, cayenne, fish sauce, salt, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cloves, allspice, mustard, coconut aminos, lime juice… It was a lot! but so good! Well, I may have overstepped on the turmeric… and while the recipe didn’t call for it, since it was a decent marinade I decided to let the diced chicken soak for eight hours.
Except I forgot. I took it out 30 hours later.

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Since I panicked, I decided to fry the chicken in coconut and serve it over a salad consisting of kale and spinach bathed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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Turned out pretty good! So much I had it for breakfast, lunch (in the jar) and dinner! Well, I also ate a can of tuna when dinner, since apparently 2 lbs of chicken ain’t that much for this kid.
Recipe from My Paleo Life

Oh God I miss pineapples

Sometimes, I just give up and look for a simple recipe. Like, I don’t want to cook because I’m three weeks behind with my laundry and since I only have three weeks of clothes…

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The good thing about chili is that is basically dumping stuff in the pot in the right order. In this case bacon provides the fat, peppers provide the veggies, meat provides the protein, chili powder provides the chili and tomatoes provide the acidity. Oh, and pineapple provides the sweetness!

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I did have to monitor closely, though, because the bottom of the pan started to get a bit burny so I lowered the flame, stirred it vigorously and proceeded with my ironing. Now I’m just two weeks behind!
Recipe from the Civilized Caveman, Mr. George.

Does this make me a cook?

My best friend (Hola Alfredo!) is a professional chef. As in classically trained, worked in restaurants and was featured as one of the main cooks in a massive county event in Durango, Mexico, a couple months ago. His specialty are meats in mexican cooking, but he failed his course on bakery. Mind you, he was working on a charity to feed poor people, but still, he failed.

Me? I am not a chef. Not a cook. Not even a fry cook. If I were to work at Denny’s most of the dishes would be returned because they look ugly or something they wouldn’t like. I, however, made to goal to survive in the kitchen even if it were by following recipes blindly left and right. Yet, Alfredo pointed to me that during my journey I must have picked up some little skills and techniques that might actually make my food a bit more my own, and not just following a recipe, and surprisingly I have to agree with him.

The Bacon and Cabbage soup I always cook is mostly chopped bacon, with its fat rendered in which cabbage is fried and then boiled in chicken stock. This time, however, I decided to first fry some onions and some garlic in the rendered fat before I added the cabbage; I added pepper and herbs de provence to the cabbage when fried and let it boil for almost thirty minutes, with just a dash of apple cider vinegar as an effort to bring out the flavors.

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The result was a much more intense, much deeper soup. I am happily chowing it down as an attempt to keep whatever bug I caught away. And I am also proud that I am actually starting to make concoctions that differ of the Kitchen Sink approach I use every once in a while.

Michael Ruhlman’s five – the smaller the number, the larger the quantity

So I felt a bit under the weather today, and decided to attack it with the trifecta of warm liquids: broth, tea and soup. Broth from chicken and turkey, that I had in several jars frozen (and putting the crockpot back immediately in order to keep making more so I wouldn’t run out of it). Tea, mostly cammomile, spearmint and eucalyptus, to boost my immune system, and soups. Since I needed something quick and dirty I did not have time to look for new recipes and fell back to two oldies: Butternut Squash and Cabagge and Bacon; and I used the opportunity to try Ruhlman’s fifth rule: acids.

Acids are a tricky component of most dishes, particularly in the Paleo diet. They are used to leach (yes, that’s a perfectly acceptable scientific term) the minerals and other nutrients from bones in stocks, they are used to balance the basicity of some vegetables in dressings, and they can also be used to boost the flavors of soups and creams when the taste is not that bright. However, an excess of them can ruin a perfectly good dish, and it is known that an acid environment within the body can be greatly damaging to our health (which is the reason meat must never be the main component of the diet, because it promotes acidity within the body. No more than a third of your meal should be plenty enough.)

So, following the rule, I decided to add a bit of acid to both of my soups: apple cider vinegar. Mind you, both of them already had it from the stocks I used as base for both soups, but I figured a pinch on each would not harm the dish greatly.

The effect on the Butternut Squash soup was actually not that great. I didn’t feel any change in the flavor but a distinctly lack of salt, which I am sure was not caused by the vinegar. However, I did not want to add more.

On the Bacon and Cabbage soup, on the other hand, worked beautifully since it brought out the saltiness of the bacon and put it forefront, allowing me to put less salt to it. I did modify the soup from the previous post that featured it, and I will write about it tomorrow.

Now, if you excuse me, I’m gonna go wrap myself in blankets and keep drinking warm liquids in order to recover. Unlike most, who use this time to watch movies, I shall read theses. Lucky me!

Last day of my CSA

Last Friday was the last day my CSA delivered for the season. They went out with the full monty, and I came home with a large bunch of carrots and a fairly large amount of turnips. However, today I will talk about the cabbages. I got three different cabbages this time, so I immediately looked for new ways to cook it.

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In this case I used Whole Life Eating’s Chorizo with Cabbage recipe. I mised-en-place the onions, peppers and cabbage, all cut to small pieces, and got my Whole Foods chorizo (bulk, since it was cheaper than links).

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As usual, I first fried the onions in coconut oil, and then I added the peppers and the cabbage (not following the recipe, a mistake of mine). I waited until the cabbage started to wilt and then added the chorizo, breaking it down with my spatula, until fully cooked.

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The best thing of this dish? It can double as breakfast, lunch, or if served with a hearty soup it can even be called dinner. A triple treat indeed!

Screwed up – Baked cabbage

I said I was gonna report my screw ups as well as my successes. In this case, it was a baked cabbage. Sad thing, I had done this before!

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You cut the cabbage in wedges, you cover it with salt, pepper, carrots, onions, a bit of chicken stock and a drizzle of olive oil and stick it in the oven. AT 350F people! I put it at 400F.
As you can imagine, it came out completely burn out. Worse? I thought I smelled something going wrong, but since I thought I was following the recipe, I didn’t bother to check. Silly me.