Forky Friday: 7/25/14

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Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I know: it’s hot, you’re tired, and you need to rest your sweaty noggin. The remedy? Pour yourself a large glass of pineapple coconut water and lose yourself in my favorite links of the week!

Jimmy Kimmel’s No Master Chef

If your gut is friends with dairy, Gordon Ramsay’s method for making creamy scrambled eggs is well worth a try. The dish appears dead-simple to whip up—especially when Chef Ramsay (yes, that’s Ramsay with an “A”—caution butt photo ahead) makes it on TV—but looks can be deceiving. His recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live proves that not everyone can be a Master Chef. 

Don’t worry, Jimmy—practice makes perfect!

Hot Tubbin’ Steaks

It saddens me to report that my “defrost bowl” now sits empty most of the time. I’ve just been too lazy and forgetful to keep replenishing it with frozen meat from the freezer. 

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Still, I don’t sweat it if all my meat’s frozen solid ’cause I know of a sure-fire way to defrost steaks in a flash. You may have heard that you should only thaw meat in the fridge or in cold water, but in fact, you can dunk frozen meat in hot water to get it ready for the grill in just minutes.

Food scientist Harold McGee was recently interviewed on The Splendid Table about how it’s perfectly safe (and smart!) to thaw steaks in 100°F water. (And by the way, if you’re a self-proclaimed food nerd and you don’t have copies of McGee’s Keys to Good Cooking and On Food and Cooking on your bookshelf, I’m calling you out RIGHT NOW.)

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Slice and Dice Like A Ninja

You already know that the most important weapon in your kitchen arsenal is a sharp chef’s knife (and not just because it’s all sharp and stabby), but are you cutting your veggies in the most efficient way possible? If not, check out this great video by Andrew Zimmern as he demonstrates how to cut perfect batons, matchsticks, ½” dice, and brunoise (a.k.a. super-teeny-tiny dice).

Bonus round: Want an ingenious tip for slicing a bunch of cherry tomatoes all at once?

Grab two plates (or container lids), a sharp knife, and a handful of cherry tomatoes. And watch this video. Don’t forget to take a moment to admire how the posh British narrator calls ’em to-MAH-toes.

Really—this works like a charm. See?

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Mind blown, right?

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Nom Nom Paleo Invades Whole Foods Market!

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Hey, eagle-eyed Whole Foods Market shoppers in Northern California and Reno: Have you noticed a familiar face peeping at you from the aisles? Don’t worry, it’s not a creepy stalker lurking behind the olive bar—it’s Cartoon Me!

Nom Nom Paleo Invades Whole Foods Market Northern California! by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com No, you’re not hallucinating: Right now, at all 40 Whole Foods Market stores across Northern California and Reno, my goofy mug is everywhere. Pretty crazy, right?

Nom Nom Paleo Invades Whole Foods Market Northern California! by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Over the years, plenty of folks have asked me how to stock their pantries, fridges, and freezers with Paleo-friendly supermarket purchases. I’ve pointed ’em in the direction of my blog, my iPad app, and my cookbook, but I know that shoppers would prefer to just see my recommendations right there while they’re shopping in the store

And now, it’s actually happening.

Nom Nom Paleo Invades Whole Foods Market Northern California! by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Not long ago, the team at Whole Foods Market Northern California reached out to pitch a summertime partnership with Nom Nom Paleo—and how could I say no? Aside from my local farmer’s markets (and Good Eggs), Whole Foods is where I spend much of my hard-earned moolah in an effort to feed my family right. Unlike shopping at other supermarkets, I don’t have to wade through a bunch of hyper-processed Frankenfoods to locate my preferred kitchen essentials. (Also, I have to admit that the prospect of seeing my cartoon logo plastered all over Northern California Whole Foods Market locations was irresistible.)

So I got cookin’.

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Watercress With Seared Prosciutto + Peaches

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Watercress With Seared Prosciutto + Peaches by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Heads up: A ten-minute meal comin’ your way!

I’m not kidding—this dish takes NO. TIME. AT. ALL.

Prosciutto-wrapped peaches on a bed of bitter greens is a classic Italian starter that I used to order every time I spotted it on a summer menu…’til it finally dawned on me that this dead-simple recipe can be made at home for pennies on the dollar. Yeah, I can be dense sometimes. It took this old dog a decade to learn this peachy new trick, but hey: better late than never, right?

Once ripe peaches made their first appearance of the year at the local farmers’ market, I started making this savory, sweet, and assertive summer salad on a regular basis. Can you blame me?

Watercress With Seared Prosciutto + Peaches by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Most recipes call for grilling the porky peaches, but I’ve found that searing ’em in a skillet is a much easier and faster method. (In fact, it takes longer to fire up the barbecue than it does to prepare and eat this gorgeous hot-weather salad using a skillet.) 

Plus, I’ve replaced the usual bed of arugula with watercress. Why? ’Cause she’s the new Queen Bee of the vegetable aisle (that’s right: move over, kale), and I’ve been doing my darnedest to incorporate this nutrient-packed powerhouse into my diet. The warm peaches wilt the watercress slightly, making each mouthful  a kaleidoscope of flavors and textures.

What do you say? Ready to try your hand at my favorite summer salad?

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Spicy Tuna Cakes

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Spicy Tuna Cakes by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Now that I’ve quit my job, I should’ve spent the past week developing and writing up a brand-spankin’ new recipe for y’all, but you know how it is: the mountain of crumpled-up laundry on the couch is keeping me from doing ALL THE THINGS. I’ll admit it: I’m terrible at keeping our house in order. But don’t you worry your pretty little heads; as soon as I emerge from this bottomless pile of mismatched socks and pillowcases, I’ll get back to cooking. After all, there’s nothing I love more than messing up the kitchen.

Spicy Tuna Cakes by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In the meantime, how ’bout I share one of the most popular recipes from our cookbook and iPad app? (You’re nodding, right?) Ready or not, it’s time for Spicy Tuna Cakes! 

Spicy Tuna Cakes by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I make these portable savory cakes about once a month ’cause I aways have the ingredients on hand. You may not normally associate canned fish with sweet potatoes and jalapeño peppers, but trust me on this one: they’re tender and subtly sweet, with a wickedly peppery bite that sneaks up on you. The heat levels can be adjusted to your taste; amp it up by subbing serrano peppers in place of jalapeño, or turn it down by cutting down on the red pepper flakes. Serve these spicy cakes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—or whip up an extra-big batch for your next dinner party!

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Forky Friday: 6/27/14

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Forky Friday: 6/27/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In the off-chance that there’s more than one person (hi, Dad!) who’s interested in what I’m checking out on the Internet this week, I’ve once again compiled my favorite food-related links of the week. Read ’em and weep!

Paleo + Celebrities

If there’s anything (other than food) I love, it’s celebrity gossip news. But it’s only now, after almost 40 years of studying trashy tabloids and Hollywood rags, that I’m starting to see Paleo elbow its way into the news (or at least the news that I care about, anyway).

In the past few weeks, a number of celebrities have publicly come out as Paleo (or Paleo-curious): not only did Robin Wright (Princess Buttercup a.k.a. Claire Underwood) open up about her (allegedly “no carb”) Paleo diet, but country superstar Tim McGraw also showed off the impressive eight-pack that he credits to CrossFit and Paleo.

Forky Friday: 6/27/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

News of weight loss and sexy washboard abs will no doubt appeal to folks on the lookout for the Next Great Diet Fad, but to me, A Great Big World’s Chad Vaccherino’s reason for going Paleo is the most inspiring: he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007 when he was still in college. After learning about Dr. Terry Wahl’s TED Talk, he started eating Paleo and lo and behold: his symptoms went away. Amazing.

See? Who said gossip rags are filled with garbage?

Dr. Oz on the Hot Seat

Dr. Oz may have talked up the benefits of Paleo on his show a couple of times over the past year, but he’s become known for promoting a ton of sketchy “magic” weight loss products, too. Recently, the doctor was grilled by Congress for making fantastical claims about potentially scammy supplements, and then skewered by John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight to boot. 

I think I liked it better when Dr. Oz was just the guy who showed up on Oprah in hospital scrubs (hey, I don’t blame him: I know how comfy scrubs can be) and talked about the shape of his poo.

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Crazy Clown Eggs

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Crazy Clown Eggs by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Henry’s the artistic one in our relationship—not me. I’ve been called tricky and sly, but never crafty. (See what I did there?) In fact, when I started popping out kids, one of my worries was that I’d diluted Henry’s creative genes. Luckily, our two boys appear to have turned out more more left-brain-dominant than their right-brained mama, as evidenced by Big-O’s creepy clay sculptures and Lil-O’s colorful comics and Lego creations. Phew.

Even though I can’t keep up with the boys artistically, I do occasionally manage to come up with a fun project that convinces my spawn to put down their colored pens and join me in the kitchen.

Crazy Clown Eggs by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The other night, as I was leafing through the yellowed and food-stained pages of my well-loved copy of Jacques Pepin’s La Mèthode, I was struck with some old-school culinary inspiration. There, mixed in with the chef’s classic (but eye-poppingly intimidating) recipes for Goose Liver Pate in Aspic and Stuffed Pig’s Feet, I stumbled upon a super-simple, kid-friendly kitchen activity:

“Hard-Boiled Eggs, Clown-Style.”

Crazy Clown Eggs by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Yeah, you heard me right:

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I don’t know why, but I couldn’t get these insane clown faces out of my mind. So at the break of dawn, I bolted out of the bedroom and announced to my bed-headed boys that we were straight-up making Crazy Clown Eggs. 

Crazy Clown Eggs by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

What follows is Big-O’s interpretation of Chef Pepin’s jaunty clown-faced eggs, with an assist from me (I helped prep the eggs and veggies) and his pop (Henry supervised my nine-year-old’s knife work).

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The Paleo Kitchen’s Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs

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The Paleo Kitchen's Honey Mustard Chicken Wings http://nomnompaleo.com

Unless you’ve been living underground (like a good cave-person should!), you know that Juli Bauer and George Bryant just released one of the most highly anticipated cookbooks of the summer, The Paleo Kitchen. And if you  know about this extraordinary book, then I’m sure you’ve already scooped up a copy—and helped it debut on the New York Times best sellers list!

The Paleo Kitchen's Honey Mustard Chicken Wings http://nomnompaleo.com

It’s difficult for me to be objective about The Paleo Kitchen because I’m pals with George and Juli. In person, they’re exactly how you picture them from their respective blogs: Juli is smart, sassy, and funny, and George is savvy, passionate, and loyal. Together, their Wonder Twin powers activate like nobody’s business, and you can see this in their exceptional cookbook. Its pages are packed with tantalizing recipes, luscious food photography, and a whole mess ’o useful cooking tips. I love their light-hearted, devil-may-care approach to Paleo, showing folks that anyone can be fit and happy without going to extremes. 

The Paleo Kitchen's Honey Mustard Chicken Wings http://nomnompaleo.com

While George and Juli are renowned for their Paleo treats (and yes, those are pancakes on the cover of their book), don’t be fooled into thinking that  The Paleo Kitchen is nothing but desserts and grain-free baked goods. Inside, you’ll discover a healthy balance of savory and sweet dishes for every occasion. In fact, one of my favorite recipes turns out to be one of the easiest main courses in the book: Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs. I love that can throw this dish together on a busy weeknight with items that are already sitting in my kitchen. Besides: who doesn’t love honey mustard chicken, for cryin’ out loud?

When I told George and Juli how much I wanted to share this super-simple recipe with you, they generously gave me the green light. Ready to get cooking?

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Forky Friday: 6/13/14

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Forky Friday: 6/13/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Happy Friday the 13th! Yeah, I know it’s been a while. At the end of each week, my dear old dad’s been reminding me that I haven’t put up a new Forky Friday in eons, so I think it’s past time I put up a new post packed to the gills with my favorite finds from ’round the world wide web. So in advance of Father’s Day, this one’s for you, Pop!

Celebrate Your Dad!

Yep—Father’s Day is Sunday. THIS Sunday. Got something special planned for the big poppa in your life? If you’re still searching for a cool gift, I’ve got a feeling all the grilling guys (and gals) out there will love Chris Schlesinger’s and John “Doc” Willoughby’s The Big-Flavor Grill

Forky Friday: 6/13/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ever since I received a review copy a few weeks ago, I’ve been testing many of the no-marinade, no-hassle recipes on our grill. The simple techniques in this book are a revelation: simply pick the right cut of protein, slap on a zero-fuss rub, grill the meat, and then toss the fire-charred goodness with a flavorful sauce. That’s it.

The Big-Flavor Grill has made a spontaneous griller out of me. It’s a game-changer.

One of my favorite dishes in the book is the recipe pictured on the book’s cover: Grilled Skirt Steak with Smoky Red Onions and Grilled Avocados. 

Forky Friday: 6/13/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

From start to finish, this meal took just 30 minutes to make. If—like me—you’ve had an irrational fear of grilling over an open flame, this book’ll get you over the hump, and it makes for an incredible Father’s Day gift.

But if you’re strapped for cash, you don’t need to buy a present to make your dad feel appreciated. Just let him know you’ll be making brunch, and reconnect with your old man over a plate of Bacon Pancake Sandwiches

Forky Friday: 6/13/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…or grill him a Chili Rib Eye Steak by following Chef Pete Evan’s drop-dead-simple technique!

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Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Compote

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Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Compote by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As a child, my love for sweets was indiscriminate. I had no standards; if it was sugary, I figured it belonged in my mouth. I am, after all, the girl who used to go to bed with a sticky plastic bag of sugary drink mix powder next to my pillow.

But with age comes wisdom—and a better-developed palate. I’m turning 40 this year, and after a lifetime of mindless dessert consumption, I’ve actually become one picky mother. These days, I rarely indulge in sweets—and only when it meets my demanding standards. If I’m going to treat myself to something that’s less than healthy (and let’s face it: dessert ain’t health food), it better knock my socks off.

Homemade panna cotta is one indulgence that fits the bill. Offering up  spoonfuls of silky sweetness at the end of a meal, this Italian gelled cream custard has long been one of my favorites. Panna cotta is incredible all by itself, but a dollop of tangy fruit sauce makes it truly special. And what better topping than the classic combination of fresh strawberries and balsamic vinegar?

Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Compote by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

This recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients, but the quality and ratio of the components are critical to a good panna cotta. Let me be painfully frank: Too many people are making mediocre panna cotta. Some of the offenses I’ve seen? Overly sweet custards or toppings, poor quality cream/nut milk, and incompatible and overpowering toppings.

But the worst infraction of all? Adding too much gelatin. Yes, gelatin’s important for gut and joint health — but I’d much rather down a mug of steaming bone broth rather than chew on rubbery, over-gelatinized panna cotta. Pro tip: If you can hold a bowl of panna cotta upside down over your head with nary a care about messing up your beautifully coiffed head of hair, you used too much gelatin in your dessert. (Or you’re a total slob. Or both.)

Made properly, a panna cotta should be fragile and quivery in texture. This creamy dessert should collapse in on itself when you pierce the surface with your spoon, allowing the fruity sauce and slippery custard to mix and marry.

Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Compote by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Compote by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Now: who’s ready to make panna cotta? 

Here’s what to gather to make 4 servings: 

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