Who killed Colonel Mustard?

Like NomNom said this week, when you have thawing meat in the fridge it is convenient to have it in a bowl to avoid blodd spilling all over the kitchen, which has happened to me several times. Not just that, but it is also convenient to not have anything else in that bowl, otherwise this might happen:

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I have to say, this recipe was interesting to do, because it is supposedly a substitute of macaroni, but to me at least it didn’t look anything like it. Rebel’s story seems to be that of many parents, whether Paleo or not: my son won’t eat healthy, he will just eat boxed stuff. Reminds me of this scene, iced coffee included. However, being 24 (I’m getting old, aren’t I?) I am more open to the idea of eating food that is health, so I proceeded to do it. Besides, it begins by frying liver in butter. What else can I ask for?

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As a good bookend for the week, I followed the recipe pretty close and actually did do a mise-en-place – the opposite of this Monday’s recipe. I decided to slice the liver, again to improve its cooking while frying, but not as thinly as yesterday’s since I knew I would mince it and that it would still be cooked later.

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While the liver was being fried, I chopped the onion. When I removed the liver and started mincing it, I sauteed the onion and the garlic.

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Then I put the liver back, with oregano and coconut aminos. I did have some red peppers (chipotle) but something that looked a little bit like mold seemed to be growing on top, and while I’m sure it wasn’t that much and probably could have just removed it, I’m too paranoid about that – besides, since my roommate works with a lot of cultures, I never know which ones are healthy and which ones are poisonous.

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Some ground meat, beef stock and tomato sauce later, I let it simmer for a good while.

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And then added the murderer. I mean, cauliflower.

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After a while, everything was cooked through, the kitchen smelled delicious and the plate was filling. And I’m still waiting to reheat it – Rebel says it tastes even better!

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The beauty of simplicity

Sometimes the best meals come out of the simplicity of cooking with very little ingredients. That’s what can make a dish economical and yet delicious. This time it’s just frying liver in bacon fat what can make a meal phenomenal.

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As usual I got my liver from Triple M Bar ranch – hey, they were the ones who sold lamb to Hickenlooper so he could pay his bet to Maryland! – and sliced it up pretty thinly. Since I was going to fry it and I wanted to ensure it will cook through, I sliced it even more thinly than usual.

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The breading was just almond flour with salt and pepper. Meanwhile I put the bacon to fry so it would render the fat out.

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And piece by piece, I fried the liver. In order to keep with the compliance of at least 60% of vegetables, I served it with a huge serving of spaghetti squash.

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Reading faux pas

So, I’ve mentioned that when you are cooking you need to think the process, all the way from reading the recipe (or analyzing the pantry) up to serving the dish to yourself or your wonderful guests. I didn’t.

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For the curry that the Virginia Hunter-Gatherers wrote I did not read the recipe. I did not look at the ingredients, and ended up getting only a pound of stew meat when the recipe required three; I made the onion-ginger-garlic paste and started simmering it before I had made the coconut milk; and forgot that i had curry paste, not powder, before I had dumped everything in the Dutch oven.

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This is where you start to get creative: I made the coconut milk while the paste was simmering (and the onion fragranced my kitchen).

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I riced the cauliflower while the sauce was simmering.

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And I removed half the sauce after the first twenty minutes of reduction to save it for another day – when I buy another pound or two of chuck and put it in the slow cooker.

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And I cleaned the dishes while I waited for the curry to be done. I added turmeric to balance the curry paste, since I expected it to be far more concentrated than curry powder – it also helped bringing out the taste of ginger. I didn’t add too much salt – just a bit after the first reduction, so I will need to add salt when I’m cooking the other portion of the curry.

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Saved face, and ended with a delicious meal!

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!

Don’t forget the meat

MOAR VEGGIES!

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I love Juli’s blog because she’s sassy and she cooks amazing dishes. Though she specializes in Paleo substitutions (and the theme of her upcoming book, appropriately called “OMG. Is that Paleo?”) every once in a while she makes completely original stuff like this: chopped cauliflower, sweet potatoes and onion with a bunch of spices, baked for half an hour.

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Easy to make, easy to eat, don’t forget the meat!
Caveat lector! Today I officially enter a three week period known as winter break. What does it mean? Well, I will not be in the US for the following three weeks, and since I’ll be home, I will be subject to my family’s cooking, unless they finally believe me and let me cook something. How does that influence this blog? Well, while I have a couple recipes that will go automatically next week, there will be a period in which I won’t cook -but I will upload any particular food finding that I deem paleo enough for me to talk about. Oh, did I mention it will be real mexican food?
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Easy peasy not japanese

Even though the store associated with health by excellence -even if it’s because of a clever marketing campaign or something else, I truly don’t know- is Whole Foods, I love the fact that in the same strip mall I have a small hidden treasure called Vitamin Grocers, a store that is usually a hair cheaper and has a more interesting collection of items. The best advantage of this store is that everything is organic and all products are properly labeled, so it is easy to find allergens when looking for ingredients you rarely use, like olives.

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Another thing I love is crockpot recipes that can be prepared ahead of time. In this case, a lovely dish of stuffed olives, almonds, cumin, salt, pepper and turkey stock. I put it in a jar according to the size I was going to use, and put it in the fridge. When I finally cooked them, I took one jar out, a packet of chicken thighs and dumped everything in the crockpot.

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Easy, peasy, delicious. From My Paleo Crockpot