As the weather warms up, and my calendar starts to fill up, usually my motivation to cook big meals starts to wane. It works out pretty well though, because warm weather goes well with light eating (and shorts, bare legs, and bathing suits).
Last night I cooked up some basic roasted chicken with brussels sprouts; a veggie which Scott and I have been mildly obsessed with lately. I’ve been seeing them on menus more and more lately, and more times than not they’re prepared in a pretty basic yet delicious way. The key to them, I think, is the texture. You want them to have a little bite, but the outer leaves to have a deep, roasted flavor. The way I achieved this is by blanching the brussels sprouts before roasting them. I picked up this technique from my step-brother, who whipped up some amazing asparagus using the same method for Passover this year. Cooking the veggies through and then shocking them in ice water assures you get a fully-cooked but not soggy texture. Then you just finish them for flavor; Either in the broiler, saute pan, or grill.
Lemon Rosemary Chicken
- 2 cut-up chickens
- 5 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tBSP kosher salt
- 1 tBSP fresh chopped rosemary
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Chop the garlic and sprinkle it with the kosher salt on a cutting board. Using the back side of a fork, mash the two together into a paste; The salt with act as an abrasive, helping to break down the garlic. Scoop the garlic paste into a small bowl.
Add the lemon juice, rosemary and pepper to the garlic pasts and stir to combine.
Rinse and pat the chicken pieces dry, and arrange them in a deep roasting pan. Rub the chicken with lemon-garlic mixture, and pour the wine into the pan. Roast, uncovered, for a half hour.
Add 3/4 cup water to the pan to keep the chicken moist, and return to the oven to finish for another 10-15 minutes, until the internal temperature at the thickest part reaches 165°, and the skin is nicely browned.
Serve topped with pan juices.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 2 lbs brussels sprouts
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Cut ends off brussels sprouts. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice water bath. Blanche brussels sprouts for 10-15 minutes in the boiling water, until tender but not soggy. Quickly spoon them into the ice water to stop cooking. When brussels sprouts are cool, slice each one in half lengthwise and put them into a roasted dish. Toss them with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and red pepper.
Heat your broiler. Put brussels sprouts in the broiler for 15-20 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so to see they are charring evening. Shake the pan around a bit to redistribute them if needed. When nicely browned on top, remove from the broiler, and top with a pinch of extra kosher salt, if desired.
This weekend I let Scott do the cooking. I know, I’m crazy for not giving him the space to do this more often. Especially because when I do, the results are always delicious and make for some of my most visited posts! Examples here, here, and here!
As usual, Scott’s cooking revolves around a delicious cut of meat. Last night’s dinner used some beef shanks we’d gotten from La Cense, a great source for grass-fed beef. This is a great cut for people with a slightly adventurous palette, as it has a few less common features/textures. Besides the bites of juicy and tender meat, you get a bit of tendon (this isn’t fat, people!), and even some bone marrow! All in all it makes for a great paleo feast. Since last time we cooked up these shanks with a more traditional red wine and beef broth braise, Scott did this round with an Asian twist, using star anise, ginger, and lemongrass. 3 hours later and this was one amazing meal! We served it over some green beans that were stir-fried with Tamari, sesame oil, and garlic.
Asian Braised Beef Shanks
- 4 beef shanks/beef osso buco
- kosher salt
- 1/4 cup Shao Xing rice wine
- 1/4 cup Tamari or soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 2 TBSP honey
- 3 pieces star anise
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife and slice in half
- 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 4″ pieces and bruised by whacking them with the blunt end of a knife
- 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced into about 6 pieces
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 2 daikon radishes, peeled and cubed
- 1 32oz box of beef broth
- Coconut Oil
- Chopped cilantro
In a small bowl, combine the rice wine, tamari, 5-spice, honey, and white pepper. Set aside.
Pat beef shanks dry with paper towels and sprinkled generously with kosher salt.
Heat about 2-3 TBSP coconut oil in a large stockpot or dutch over over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add 2 shanks and sear on both sides until browned, about 3 minutes per side. If they’re stuck to the pot, give them some more time, they’ll remove easily when browned. Set seared shanks aside into a clean bowl, and repeat with remaining pieces.
Once the meat is removed, add the onion, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and star anise to the pot and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the rice wine mixture, stirring to combine.
Add the shanks back into the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Pour in enough beef broth to cover the meat completely and bring to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, lower heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, add the chopped daikon to the pot and continue to cook for 1 more hour, until the meat is falling off the bone. Serve topped with some chopped cilantro and whatever veggie you prefer!
As promised in my last post, here is the recipe for pizza mushrooms!
Awhile ago I’d come across some Pin-spiration for pizza stuffed mushrooms that were pretty basic in their sauce-cheese-pepperoni combination. However the idea seemed like a pretty genius one, and only needed a bit of customization on my part. Of course I wanted to make my own pizza sauce, and for that I had a lightbulb moment in coming up with the idea to put some topping ingredients inside the sauce itself! So I created a basic tomato and tomato paste mixture but added some goodies like olives, thyme, and even anchovies! And as far as my favorite pizza topping, which is mushrooms, well that’s already covered in the base of the recipe! I also added carrots because Scott pretty much asks for carrots in everything I make. And we happened to have some wine in the fridge so, why not add that into the mix too? This sauce pretty much became a sort of “kitchen sink” pizza sauce, and it was definitely delish.
For the meaty filling I opted for sausage instead of pepperoni, just because I like it better, but also because it seemed better suited for stuffing into a mushroom cap. All in all, these cheesy guys make for a great party bite if you use smaller mushrooms; Or, if you bought jumbo “stuffing mushrooms” like I did, you may want to consider a knife and fork!
“Kitchen Sink” Pizza Sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2 small carrots, diced
- 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup sliced black olives
- 1 or 2 anchovy filets, mashed into a paste with a fork
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- crushed red pepper flake, to taste (optional)
- salt, to taste
- 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots, and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, olives, anchovies and spices to the pot. Stir to combine.
Bring to a slow boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Add salt and crushed red pepper flake to taste. Cover and let simmer for 1 hour.
Stuffed Pizza Mushrooms
- 1 lb Italian pork sausage, not in casings
- 18-20 large white mushrooms, cleaned and de-stemmed
- grated mozzarella cheese
- fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- extra virgin olive oil
Drizzle a little olive oil into a skillet over medium heat and saute the sausage until its cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange mushroom caps, stem-side up. Spoon a little sauce into each mushroom, then top with sausage and cheese. When all your mushrooms are filled, bake for about 25 minutes.
Turn on the broiler and put the mushrooms in for 2-3 minutes, just until the cheese browns on top. Remove from the oven and top with some chopped basil and a little thyme. Serve warm.
Hello World, and apologies for my lengthy absence. I’ve been a busy bee and frankly, haven’t had the energy to make and photograph anything that extraordinary. Bloggin’ ‘aint easy! But alas I’ve returned, and with some not-as-sinful chocolatey goodness for your ogling enjoyment.
This weekend, Scott and I hosted a small dinner party at our house. And since we don’t have an actual dining table, but rather a two-seater Ikea island, we decided to serve a bunch of small dishes and finger food. Amongst the delights were my Sriracha Deviled Eggs, Kale Dip, some Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms (recipe coming soon!), and of course the requisite cheese selection. And let me add, that the Cheesemonger at Downtown Cheese in Reading Terminal Market made an amazing recommendation with the Gratte Paille. Its a triple-cream with a little bloomy bite, and it just gets better and better the longer you leave it out. This stuff gets so gooey and creamy that its rind basically becomes a serving bowl and you can just get all in there with a cracker and go at it. Needless to say, I went at it. Sorry Paleo Gods.
But enough about cheese (never enough!), and onto the chocolate. I got this recipe for grain-free brownies from Things My Belly Likes. They’re made using ground up chestnuts and dark chocolate, and sweetened with just a touch of honey. I find that chocolate makes for a really easy paleo-ish dessert option, since the good stuff really doesn’t need to be that sweet. These brownies are really pretty fudgey and with just a tad of sea salt sprinkled on top, you have a winning dessert. All my non-paleo friends gobbled them up!
A note about the chestnuts: I’ve recently turned into a huge fan of them. I discovered that our local Asian grocery store (and surprisingly, Superfresh now has these too!) carries these great snack-sized bags of roasted and peeled chesnuts, for like, a buck. They’re so delicious, low in fat, and you save yourself the pain of trying to peel them. Literally a pain; I spent the night before Thanksgiving last year peeling chestnuts with my sister, and our nail beds took a beating.
Oky doky. Then without further ado, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
Grain-free Brownies (makes 16)
- 14 large chestnuts, roasted and peeled
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsps honey
- 3oz dark chocolate
- 3 large eggs, separated
- sea salt (optional)
Grind the chestnuts to a mealy paste using a food processor. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and sieve in the cocoa powder. Stir to combine, getting out as many lumps as you can.
Melt the butter, honey and chocolate together in the microwave until smooth; Give it about 1 minute, then stir to help things melt more. Zap it again if you need to, being careful not to let the chocolate burn. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Add the egg yolks to the melted chocolate mixture, one at a time, beating them in to turn the mix glossy.
Pour the chocolate mix into the chestnut mix and stir until combined.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the chocolate batter and then spoon into a greased or lined 8in x 8in baking tray (I like to lay two criss-crossed pieces of aluminum foil into the pan, then spray that with nonstick spray-it makes it really easy to pull the brownies out of the pan to cool faster). Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes until firm. Sprinkle with some sea salt if you like. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.
This meal was a lesson in improvisation. A true test of kitchen know-how, thinking on your feet, and a bit of luck. What I’m referring to is the story of how this delicious happy accident brisket came to be.
I had decided to cook up a pot of brisket on Saturday, knowing that it was an easy one-pot meal and I was sure to find a good recipe in our Complete Meat Cookbook that we were given for Christmas. The recipe I found was called “Pam’s Mom’s Brisket,” and from my understanding its a pretty classic old school recipe. By “old school,” I mean that the main ingredients (besides the meat) were bottled chili sauce and a packet of onion soup mix – that semi-homemade ease, despite the unhealthy additives – kind of old school, which I try to avoid. I figured right off the bat I could just substitute the soup mix for actual dried spices, which worked out pretty easily. However, the chili sauce was a different story.
When I first read “chili sauce,” I of course thought it meant Sriracha. So I thought, well I like Sriracha, but a whole cup of it seems excessive, so I ended up just using a half cup and hoping for the best. Meanwhile (and may I note, cart before the horse is classic Allison), I decided to look up exactly what was meant by this “chili sauce.” Turns out its a Heinz product that’s pretty similar to ketchup, give or take a few spices. OH. OKAY. Now what?
Seeing as my brisket was now a tad on the spicy side and lacking in depth, I decided to take it’s destiny into my own hands; And using what I had on hand (some homemade ketchup, just enough beef broth) combined with my previous experiences in brisket/pot roast making, I believe I not only saved the meal, but created an awesome alternative to a typical brisket!
Brisket with a Kick!
- 3 medium onions, sliced thin
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1/2 cup Sriracha
- 2/3 cup ketchup or homemade primal ketchup (*recipe follows)
- 1 bottle lager beer
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 4-5 lb brisket, with most of the fat trimmed off
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine all ingredients but meat and kosher salt in a large dutch oven pot, stirring to combine. Sprinkle brisket with the kosher salt on all sides, and add to the pot, spooning some of the sauce over the top of the meat. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 4 hours, checking about halfway through to shift around the meat, making sure its still moist on top. The meat should come apart easily with a fork when done.
*Homemade Primal Ketchup (from Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings, and Toppings, by Mark Sisson and Jennifer Meier)
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp molasses
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 TBSP finely chopped onion
- pinch of allspice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Hello and Happy New Year to all my hungry readers! I hope you all had a fun and food-filled holiday, as I certainly did. My Christmas and New Year was chock full of family, wine, cheese, and other amazing eats! And just when I was getting ready to return to reality after a nice two week break, Scott had one last hurrah up his sleeve…
I’m so happy to share (shout from the internet rooftops) that this past Saturday, Scott and I got engaged!! Yes, I’m going to be a married lady. We’re so thrilled and excited… and I’m sure looking forward to planning the big day and getting to pick out and taste our celebratory spread of food and cake! But before I get ahead of myself, since we won’t be tying the knot until 2014, lets get back to blog business.
This week I bring you a great primal recipe to kick of a healthy and wholesome New Year. Yes, believe it or not, we still have a fair bit of venison meat in our freezer from last year’s trip upstate, so we decided to use the ground meat to make Italian meatballs. It worked out pretty nicely that Scott’s brother had given us a foodie gift basket for Christmas that had 2 jars of homemade marinara sauce in it, which was a huge time saver as well being delicious. Therefor this meal came together quite easily! We served our primal meatballs over zucchini and yellow squash ribbons in lieue of pasta, topped them with a little shaved parmesan (also part of the gift basket), and voila! A delicious, hearty and nutritious meal.
Venison Meatballs with Squash Ribbons (serves 4)
- 1 1/2 pound ground venison
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 egg
- 1/8 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp dried sage
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- zucchini and yellow squash (we used three of each)
- Olive oil
Bring a large pot of marinara sauce to a simmer, and keep it over low heat. You can use the stuff from a jar or try my Mom’s recipe! Combine all meatball ingredients (except for squash and oil) in a large bowl, and mix using your hands until everything is well incorporated. Roll meatballs about 2-inches in diameter and arrange on a microwave safe dish. I ended up with 12 meatballs. Microwave for 4 minutes on high, then flip the meatballs over and microwave them for another 3 minutes. Add them to the simmering sauce and allow to cook for at least 1 hour, until they are cooked through.
To make the squash ribbons, wash your squash and zucchini and chop off the ends. Using a vegetable peeler, peel down the length of each squash to form long ribbons. You can rotate the squash a bit as you go as it gets a little difficult to grip once you’re halfway through. Heat 2 TBSP of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, then add your squash. Saute for about 2-3 minutes, until the squash is soft but not mushy. Remove from heat and portion onto dishes.
Top with meatballs and sauce, some cheese, and enjoy!