Nom Nom Paleo

Paleo Eats: 9/17/12

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The best way to beat the Monday blahs is with bacon.

Am I right or am I right?

To kick off the week for my whole family, I baked bacon on my griddle in the toaster oven, scrambled eggs, and fried tomatoes in bacon drippings.

I love raw tomatoes, but you amplify the umami if you sear ‘em in bacon grease — and I’m all about simple ways to boost flavor.

While Henry took the boys to school, I had a few minutes to spare, so I puréed a few baked yams that I’d stored in the fridge.

Then, I zoomed off to CrossFit Palo Alto for the women’s class. Although I had committed to attending two times a week — even if it meant working out after a night shift — it’d actually been ten days since I last got my WOD on. Argh. I promise to do better next week.

When I returned from class, I whipped up some batter to make Ashley Tudor’s sweet potato bars (her recipe is available in Sweet Potato Power)…

…and popped the baking dish into the oven.

While the bars were baking, I used my spice grinder to blitz a batch of Magic Mushroom Powder (recipe available in the Spice It Up premium pack for my iPad app).

Mushroom cloud!

And, yes, I’m not just the developer of the Nom Nom Paleo iPad app, I’m also a client.

(It saddens me that the majority of my readers are waaaay too young to catch my Sy Sperling reference. I’m such an old lady.)

Lunch was an afterthought. I ended up just pulling some leftovers out of the fridge. At first, I tried to make it nice and photogenic…

…but then just ended up piling random items onto the plate. Here’s a picture of the true smorgasbord I ate. You might spot a couple of sliders, sautéed red cabbage, homemade pineapple salsa, and tomatoes in the mix.

After lunch, I took the dish of sweet potato bars out of the oven and placed it on a rack to cool.

Rather than standing there and twiddling my thumbs, I decided to make a second batch of Magic Mushroom Powder, but this time, with dried shiitake mushrooms, dried ginger, onion, and garlic. Variety is the spice of life, right?

It’d been a while since I made Magic Mushroom Powder and I’d forgotten how simple and quick it is. 

Once I was done cleaning up mushroom dust on the kitchen counter, I picked up the Double-Os at school. Both of them were excited to snack on the sweet potato bars; it’s their favorite grain-free treat.

We spent the rest of the afternoon gawking at the plastic-looking “spooky” animatronics at our neighborhood Spirit Halloween Store (again). I understand their fascination with Weird Al and Psy, but their obsession with this store baffles me.

When we returned home from visiting the werewolves, zombies, and skeletons, it was time to make dinner. The pound of Siren SirenSA sand dabs in my fridge looked like they could use some of my newly-concocted shiitake spice powder.

And just like that, they were ready for the skillet (and some hot coconut oil).

The Double-Os don’t like bony fish (and I didn’t have enough for them anyway), so for the boys, I seasoned flap steaks with regular Magic Mushroom Powder…

…and gave them a quick turn in a coconut oil coated skillet, too.

The kids split a small steak, and I stuck the rest in the fridge. Emergency protein, at the ready.

To accompany the fish and steak, I roasted a tray of broccoli seasoned with Magic Mushroom Powder and finished it with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

Dinner!

In the immortal words of Eric the Actor: Goodbye…for now.

Paleo Eats: 9/14/12

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We all woke up late and I was whirling around the kitchen, Tasmanian-devil-style, fixing breakfast and lunches for the Double-Os. For the boys’ first meal of the day, I made omelets filled with leftover sautéed mushrooms using my new cast iron griddle. (I first encountered one of these when I almost set Diana’s Colonial-era farmhouse on fire, and have wanted one ever since.)

As expected, Big-O wolfed down his omelet while my younger son turned up his nose and picked around the filling. If I hadn’t witnessed Lil-O being yanked out of me, I wouldn’t believe he’s my son.

Once the dust had settled and the boys were safely deposited at school, I was finally able to make myself a simple plate of scrambled eggs and fresh heirloom tomatoes. 

Later in the morning, I drove up to San Francisco to meet Henry and a friend at Il Cane Rosso in the Ferry Building — the city’s ultimate high-end food court — for lunch. I love that Il Cane Rosso offers simple preparations of pastured meats and organic vegetables — and I love being able to sit and eat while people-watching. It’s fun spying out-of-towners geeking out (and/or scratching their heads) at the orgy of gourmet food surrounding them.

Most dishes at Il Cane Rosso are less than Paleo, but you can ask ‘em to hold the bread on the sandwiches and the server will happily oblige.

I ordered the Dirty Girl Farm Romaine BLT salad and added roast chicken and avocado to up the protein and fat quotient. (A little bacon can go a long way, but it’s not enough to satisfy this hungry girl.)

Henry got the special of the day: Marin Sun Farms beef stew with herb salad.

The special was supposed to come with a hunk of garlic bread, but he asked to sub it out for Il Cane Rosso’s sweet ‘n sour housemade pickles.

Once lunch was over, we zoomed through the Ferry Building on a mission to buy a big pork shoulder roast for Slow Cooker Kalua Pig. I struck out at Prather Ranch (d’oh!) and ended purchasing it from the friendly butchers at Golden Gate Meats.

If I’d had my way, I would’ve spent all afternoon meandering through the different specialty shops, but I had to pick up the Double-Os from school. It’s true — children ruin everything. (If I have to tell you I’m kidding, you must be new here. Welcome, and please be sure to try my recipe for Virgin Boy Eggs.)

By the time the sun started drooping from its perch in the sky, I, too, was slumping over with exhaustion. I would’ve marched everyone out to a restaurant if my aversion of Friday night crowds didn’t override my laziness.

What’s a tired mommy to do?

EMERGENCY PROTEIN, baby — in the form of sliders and veggies sautéed in the burger drippings.

I grabbed two pounds of ground beef from the defrost bowl in my fridge…

…seasoned the meat with Penzeys Greek Seasoning and kosher salt…

…formed them into patties…

…and fried them in melted coconut oil.

Two pounds of meat yield more sliders than we can eat in a meal, but this way, I’ll have lots of extra emergency protein available in the fridge. Besides, if I’m gonna get my skillet dirty, I’m gonna make it worth my while.

While the burgers were cooking on the stove, I sliced up half an onion…

…and chopped up a small purple cabbage.

I always sharpen my knife with my cheap-o (but effective) Accu-Sharp so I can slice and dice like a nimble kitchen ninja. Remember: your veggies will cook faster if they’re smaller. I’m all about the shortcuts.

Once the burgers were crunchy on the outside and pink on the inside…

…I transferred them to a platter…

…and dumped in the onions…

… and cabbage (with a dash of apple cider vinegar).

Here’s my dinner plate:

Later, skater.

Paleo Eats: 9/9/12

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Halfway through my workweek, I’m steadily chugging along like the Little Engine That Could. My last night shift’ll be done before I know it, right?

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

My mid-week, mid-shift meal at the hospital consisted of cold leftovers: sous vide sirloin roast, heirloom tomato salad, and roasted broccoli. 

Raise your hand if you don’t think this meal looks sufficiently filling.

Yeah — you and me both.

My stomach was grumbling something fierce when I got home in the morning, so I strong-armed my boys into motoring over to Bumble with me for breakfast.

Bumble’s a cozy farm-to-table restaurant in neighboring Los Altos, and it happens to be incredibly kid-friendly — parents can chow on organic fare with their kids or dump ‘em off in the supervised playroom for a set fee. We opted to eat with our kids because, well, no one was staffing the playroom at 8 am. 

Plus, we were armed with iPads in case the boys got antsy.

I’ll admit it: I lean heavily on these techno-babysitters when dining out with my kids. Hats off to breeders who don’t own mobile devices; unlike us, they must be great parents.

The four of us split three orders of the Farmer’s Breakfast platter. Each dish came with two eggs, two strips of bacon, and a breakfast sausage patty. In lieu of the toast and potatoes, we got big bowls of strawberries.

It was a satisfying meal, but to be honest, after enjoying a week of bona fide farmer’s breakfasts at Diana’s farm last month, nothing else stacks up.

At 9, the place started filling up with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed families, so we hit the road. Unlike everyone else, my day was winding down, and I was desperate for some shuteye. 

Seven hours later, I was rested and ready to tackle an ambitious kitchen goal: to prepare two nights’ dinners in less than an hour. I figured a little extra effort tonight would reap rewards tomorrow. I know how much I hate cooking by the end of my work week, so I wanted to get it over with.

Besides, tomorrow night’s protein — Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs — can be prepped in a flash. 

I started by seasoning and broiling a big pile of short ribs that I grabbed from my defrost bowl in the fridge.

 

While the meaty bones were browning in the oven, I roughly chopped up the ingredients to make the braising liquid.

I didn’t have enough scallions on hand, so I substituted a couple of small red onions. 

Improvisation is key in the kitchen. Don’t let one missing ingredient be the excuse for landing face-first in a box of greasy Chinese take out.

The next ingredient? Sweet pears. The ones I received in the mail last week were finally ripe, so I peeled one…

…and scooped out the seeds with a melon baller.

Quick tip: A pear’s ripe when the flesh at the stem is tender. Per my pal Brittany, a.k.a. The Pear Lady, don’t wait until the rest of the pear is soft to the touch. If you do, the fruit’ll be overripe and mushy. (I always hated the mealy, squishy texture of pears, but it turns out I was just waiting too long for them to ripen. I guess I’m not a pear-hater after all!)

I added the rest of the ingredients to my blender…

…and liquefied everything.

I tucked the short ribs in a single layer in the slow cooker…

…and poured on the chunky sauce…

…and homemade bone broth.

I set the slow cooker on low for 11 hours, and tomorrow’s dinner prep was done.

But what about tonight’s supper? It was getting late, so I needed something that would take no more than 15 minutes to make.

After rummaging through my fridge, I pulled out some black cod fillets from Siren SeaSA and seasoned them with salt and pepper…

…before sautéing them in brown butter.

As the fish sputtered in the skillet, I assembled a tangy anchovy and caper sauce. The recipe was adapted from one I found in the newest cookbook in my collection, Leon: Naturally Fast Food.

I changed up some of the ingredients, but stuck with the main components: anchovies…

…capers…

…Italian parsley…

…lemon juice…

..and olive oil.

The authors call this a “Miracle Sauce” and I have to concur.

The fish and sauce were finished at the same time.

I chopped up a few plump, juicy tomatoes…

….and drizzled the sauce on everything.

I know I can, I know I can, I know I can…

Paleo Eats: 9/6/12

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Armed with a steaming mug of java and an insulated cooler stuffed with leftovers, I was ready to sling drugs all night long. Hunkered in the hospital pharmacy, I snacked on two hard-boiled eggs and a big square of dark chocolate, and at three in the morning, I popped open my box of leftover sous vide wild king salmon and sauerkraut. Lunchtime!

In the blink of an eye, the sun shot up over the horizon — the signal it was time to vamoose. Upon arriving home, my hubs reported that when Lil-O had been searching for me all over the house. After having me around for five weeks, I guess my little guy had forgotten that I actually work. And frankly, it’d kind of slipped my mind, too.

Still, I knew that my return to work meant I’d have limited time to prep dinner in the evening. So even though I wanted nothing more than to fall face-first into my pillow, I quickly threw together the marinade for Damn Fine Chicken — albeit a shortcut version using Penzeys Spices’ Sunny Paris Seasoning instead of fresh onions and herbs.

Next, I trimmed away the extra flaps of skin from some fresh chicken thighs with a pair of kitchen shears

…smooshed the chicken into the marinade…

…and stored the poultry parts in the fridge.

The rest of the morning was a haze. I’m pretty sure I shuttled Big-O to school and accompanied the little guy to gymnastics class before I collapsed into bed.

In the late afternoon, I crawled out of my blanket cave and was rewarded for my efforts with a couple of cool gifts on my doorstep. The fine folks at USA Pears (hi Cristie and Brittany!) sent me a box of Star Crimson pears…

…and Daren of Itsumo Ahi Tuna Jerky sent me a couple of samples of their new cooked tuna pouches packed in coconut oil.

Despite the overwhelming temptation to tear into both packages, I knew I had to get our supper on the table.

Sigh.

First, I arranged the marinated chicken on a wire-rack-topped tray and shoved it in the oven.

Then, I chopped up some assorted alliums….

…and trimmed a head of cauliflower for a new pressure cooker variation on my mashed faux-tatoes recipe.

I sautéed the onions and garlic in butter before adding the florets, a splash of homemade bone broth, salt, and pepper.

Once the pot got up to high pressure, the cauliflower softened in just 7 minutes. Speedy!

Meanwhile, I flipped the chicken…

…and stir-fried a pan of chard leaves and beet greens with some minced garlic.

As soon as the chicken was finished roasting…

…I pulled out my stick blender

…and puréed the cauliflower mash with a big pat of grass fed butter.

This was one of the rare dinners that got a rave review from Lil-O. "I LOVE CHICKEN! I LOVE CHICKEN!" he chanted with his mouth full.

By the way, did you hear that Melissa Joulwan, Holly Woodcock, and I are combining forces for a special Paleo seminar in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado at the end of the month? Tickets are $50 each ($80 for two). And for an additional ten bucks, the chef at the YMCA of the Rockies will offer you a buffet of recipes from Mel’s insanely terrific cookbook, Well Fed, including Chocolate Chili, Cinnamon Beef Stew, Rogan Josh, Shepherd’s Pie, The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat, raw veggies with Moroccan Dippin Sauce, and fresh berries for dessert. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy Mel’s cooking, and believe me: Her recipes are mind-bogglingly good.

I’ll be doing a presentation (and some cooking!) at the event, and l may even bring with me some super-rare, sold-out Nom Nom Paleo socks from my secret stash. Details and registration information are over here.

Who’s coming to hang out with us?

Paleo Eats: 9/4/12

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After hustling Big-O off to school, I sat down to a simple breakfast of hard-boiled eggs dusted with Volcano Grind and leftover collards and carrots. Emergency protein and leftovers — there’s no better start to the day.

Throughout the morning, a parade of repairmen filed through our house to fix various busted appliances. The timing was perfect: with just one day left before the start of my workweek, everything that needed tweaking got tweaked. Ain’t nobody gonna disturb my beauty sleep this week.

I wasn’t in the mood to make anything fancy for lunch, so I just ate a pile of roast beef and chased it down with some sauerkraut. 

After we picked up Big-O from school, the kids and I drove down to the local Spirit Halloween store. Yes, October 31 is still two months away, but thanks to my kids’ year-round obsession with the gory animatronics on display in these pop-up stores, they’ve already been pestering us for weeks to take them shopping for ghoulish gear. I refused to bring home any zombie baby props, but agreed to purchase a couple of costumes before the seasonal inventory gets depleted.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that their outfits don’t get completely thrashed before the end of next month. If that happens, we’ll just have to pencil some facial hair on Lil-O so he can go trick-or-treating as Tony Stark on Skid Row.

When we returned home in the evening, I divided the fresh wild King salmon filet that I picked up from Siren SeaSA into three portions…

…seasoned them simply with salt and pepper…

…pouched ‘em…

…and dunked them in the SousVide Supreme.

Because I’m a wannabe overachiever (hey, I have a High Expectations Asian Father, you guys), I even started preparing tomorrow night’s dinner while I waited for the salmon to finish cooking. I seasoned three meaty beef shanks with salt and pepper…

…and seared them in coconut oil.

Next, I sautéed sliced onions, tomato paste, and garlic cloves in my pressure cooker…

…before returning the shanks to the pot…

…and adding Rao’s marinara sauce, homemade bone broth, and fresh tomatoes.

I brought everything to high pressure in the pressure cooker and cooked the stew for 45 minutes. Once tomorrow’s supper was ready and in the fridge, I turned my attention back to the salmon.

After fishing the salmon pouches out of the water bath, I dunked one of them in ice water and refrigerated it for a future meal this week…

…and flaked apart the other two filets with my fingers.

Our dinner: Fend-For-Yourself Salmon Hand-Rolls.

I sliced a red bell pepper…

…julienned carrots with my favorite peeler

…and mashed up an avocado.

We took turns rolling our preferred fillings in half-sheets of nori…

…before stuffing the rolls in our faces.

Aren’t the best dinners the ones other people make for themselves?