Excuses to buy condiments

So beef was on sale at Whole Foods. Not grass-finished: just pasture centered (Step 4), and while I know you lose some of the benefits when you are not certain is grass-finished, I had a budget and also, I’m going home so I was not going to expend too much on food this week -turns out I did.

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Two pounds of round chuck into the crock pot, with turkey stock (I still have lots and lots of that) and coconut aminos -I finally bought some- at LOW temperature for eight hours.

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This is what came out. I steamed some broccoli and riced some cauliflower to add to the meat.

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And this grogeous dish came out. However, it was supposed to serve six: I’ll eat the whole thing in two days, trust me. Just for dinner.
Recipe from My Paleo Crockpot

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Caveman’s italian food

Like I said yesterday, PIZZA

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I’ll be honest: I screwed the mise-en-place on this one. Instead of reading the recipe, you know, twice, I just looked at the ingredient list and dumped everything into the sauce pan: butter, cream, oregano, salt, pepper, parmeggiano.

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And mixed it until soft (not even simmering) and then just dumped it into the tapioca starch. And kneaded. And kneaded. And panicked because the dough was too sticky.

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At some point (and several pinches of starch later) it gave up and I could spread it into the cast iron pan. Into the oven at 500F.

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Toppings: spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, onions, peppers, sausage. I forgot the mushrooms.

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And after a good bake and a good broil, heaven in a cast iron pan.

Soffritto and Mirepoix

I’ve been following Russ’ The Domestic Man for a while now, but I haven’t cooked a lot from his site – just the Russian Cabbage Rolls from a while ago. I like that his site has a lot of different recipes, and that he’s more open to modify the recipes in order to be compliant with different kinds of diets, not only Paleo. I always look at his page whenever I’m cooking for other people, but not much of his creations had been made, until I read PIZZA. That’ll be tomorrow, today is the Red Sauce that goes on top of it!

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So the first thing I like about this sauce is that it has a soffritto: a mixture of carrots, celery and onion that gives body to the sauce. I used my food processor to shred it.

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More and more I’m becoming more used to the idea of mise-en-place: in this case I have all the ingredients lined up next to the stove, since most of this recipe it’s just adding them one by one. Oh, and I found BPA-free canned tomatoes. SO HAPPY!

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So the soffritto needs to be fried in olive oil. And that’s the difference between a soffritto and a mirepoix: olive oil instead of butter. Yeah, whatever.

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When it’s fried you move it to a sauce pan and add everything else: diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, red wine, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic and bay leaves. And let it simmer for a long while.

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I tried it out with some spaghetti squash and sausage. Bellissimo!
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Michael Ruhlman’s Four – Don’t cry for me Argentina

Onions always make my roommate cry. ALWAYS. I can tolerate working with white onions, but I have been shopping yellow onions more often since they are cheaper, but boy they also make me cry.

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That’s why I love my mandoline.

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Ruhlman does go a bit long into explaining the power of the onions: how they transform simple solutions into real soups; how they bring body to some dishes, and bring others down; how a slow fire can metamorphose them into a relish, by extracting the liquid inside of them and with it the sugars that would later caramelize them. Me? All I did was read ONION SOUP and started cooking. I did not use his version though, based in the French origins of the soup, when poor peasants would steam onions in their own liquids until soft, and then with a dash of wine and some water they would have a concoction that would melt the stalest of bread. I used Health-Bent’s which substituted the bread for some cauliflower.

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Also, with a good thinking through, this dish is basically effortless. While the onions are steaming (low heat, really low heat) you can divert your attention to the cauliflower, boiling it to soften it a little bit, and then shredding it into cheese. I used a mozzarella a friend had given me and the last of this week’s eggs.

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When the onions had lost half their volume (and started getting sticky in the bottom of the pan) I added some turkey stock and let it boil for a while.

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When the taste was good, I scooped some of it into the cups, and covered it with the cauliflower. I baked it for ten minutes at 400F.

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Maybe I should have broiled them a little bit.

Revisiting the quiche

I already talked about this quiche before, back when this blog was beginning. As a matter of fact, it just hit me that I’ve been writing my cooking adventures for the past four months! To be honest, I thought I would get bored by the end of the second week, but having this challenging me to cook something different everyday has been both thrilling and scary, and enough to keep me going.

Not just that, but it’s changed me. When I was younger, I used to frown at some food just because it looked weird or because I didn’t fancy eating it. If I visited a restaurant I would stick to dishes I knew, denying myself the opportunity to try new stuff. When I attempted to cook, I would just breeze through prepackaged food and not pay any attention to details.

Now I am willing to try everything on the menu, as long as it keeps within certain primal limits (I don’t eat corn, I ask about the oils, but rice is free game when I’m at a restaurant). I am more daring when I have to cook a rare cut, and liver has become one of my signature dishes. Now that I cook, I think about what I want to do, and what are the steps involved.

I’m still a survivor of the kitchen. I mostly read cookbooks and try to replicate the recipes, but every once in a while I have to come up with something out of my sleeve. I’ve started reading books on cooking theory like the good nerd I am, but I’m still far away from accomplishing anything good from scratch. Nevertheless, now I am capable of spotting my own mistakes, and I learn from them.

This quiche is simple, but it requires a bit of mise-en-place. You need shredded zucchini, and for that a food processor works best. Chopped onions, butter and sausage, all prepped when the oven is preheating to 350F. With all ready to go, it takes less than ten minutes: the amount of time it takes to sautee the zucchini in butter and the sausage in coconut oil, just until cooked. Then mix everything together with the beaten eggs and stick it in the oven.

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Yeah, I repeat recipes every once in a while. It is practice what makes perfect. Recipe from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook.

Michael Ruhlman’s Six – What came first?

No, I haven’t forgotten rules four (onions) and five (acid). It’s just that my logistics (fine, my lack of organization) dictated that I worked with eggs first.
Eggs are the swiss blade of cooking. They can be a foundation (cakes, custards), a compliment (sauces, mayonnaise), a work of art (souffle) or a complete meal in themselves. So it is understandable that Ruhlman dedicated a whole chapter to them. He spends a lot of time talking about the multiple uses of eggs -particularly for custards.
Scrambled eggs are NOT my specialty. That would be the frittatta, since all I need for that is a broiler, a cast iron pan and whatever I find in my kitchen. Scrambled eggs, on the other hand, are a subject of eternal debate between my american friends and I, since I prefer to scramble them in the pan, while they prefer to scramble them in a bowl and then curd them in the pan. Being an american, Ruhlman follows the latter and I decided to follow the recipe.

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Eggs in a double boiler is probably one of the things I would have NEVER thought to do. So I sliced some chives, opened the goat cheese, beat the eggs until uniform and waited for the water to boil.

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First some butter, then the eggs, then… wait? Even though the water was boiling and the inside pan was hot the eggs took a LONG time to cook. Really long time. At some point I gave up, moved it to the stove, added the goat cheese immediately and prayed to God it would work. It did, but of course some of it stuck to the pan.

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Chives and more goat cheese for garnish. They tasted like heaven, or what heaven would taste like were it made of eggs and goat cheese.

Vampire needs

So someone turned off the furnace here in Boulder. Finally! However, no snow. But the weather called for soups and stews, and I decided to do a Transylvanian one!

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Like always, getting everything in place at the beginning is the most important thing. And with a dish like this, that uses a lot of stuff it’s better to have everything ready before you start putting it all together, and then putting them away one by one. The ingredients for this beauty were bacon, onions, garlic, cabbage, paprika, pepper, tomatoes, chicken stock and sausage.

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Like always, first the bacon to render the lard. I always add a bit of other fat (in this case, coconut oil) to prevent the bacon from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

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I then put the onions until translucent, and then garlic. This is when you bring down the heat in order to avoid burning the garlic.

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Cabbage with spices, and make sure it is evenly coated with the rendered fat so it can start wilting.

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Five minutes later, you add the tomatoes and stock, and let it boil for forty-five minutes. Then you add the sausage and let it cook through.

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Warm, hearthy, comforting soup. And looking blood red, you could fool your personal vampire. No sparkles, please!
Recipe from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook.