Forky Friday: 5/10/13

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Forky Friday 5/10/13 by Michelle Tam of http://nomnompaleo.com

Hooray! It’s the Friday before Mother’s Day! That means I’m just two days away from being pampered by my husband and kids. Am I right?

Forky Friday 5/10/13 by Michelle Tam of http://nomnompaleo.com

*crickets*

Fine.

Let’s get back to my weekly roundup of cool links from the wild, wild web. This edition of Forky Friday is packed with lots of fun nuggets: a news segment featuring the Paleo Parents, a great salt primer, and a slew of tempting springtime recipes to whip up this weekend. You know — for your long suffering mother. *Ahem.*

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Carrot & Parsnip Puree

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Looking for a substitute for mashed potatoes but you’re tired of eating cauliflower or winter squash puree? Make some carrot and parsnip puree!

Yesterday, my vegetable CSA box came with some big ass Chantenay carrots and parsnips. After googling the interwebs to figure out what to make with them, I came across this recipe for carrot and parsnip puree from Miss Martha Stewart. I changed the proportions and ingredients a wee bit and the resulting orange-colored mash was delicious.

Here’s what I gathered to make 6 servings:

  • 2/3 lb parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (slightly smaller than the parsnips)
  • 2 stalks of green garlic, thinly sliced (or 2 garlic cloves)
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Here’s how I made it:

I did my best Martin Yan impression and quickly chopped up all my veggies.

I melted 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter was liquefied, I dumped in the veggies, broth, and water.

I brought the liquid to a boil, turned down the heat to low, and simmered the covered pot for 25-30 minutes. Once the vegetables were soft and tender, I used my immersion blender to puree everything.

Then, I added another pat of butter along with some salt and pepper to taste.

After one last pass through with the stick blender, the puree was ready to eat.

I do miss mashed potatoes but having tasty technicolor substitutes helps with the cravings. I guess it’s like methadone for spud addicts.

Celery Root, Will You Forgive Me?

I have a confession to make.

Every time I received celery root in my CSA box, I’d stash it in the far recesses of my crisper and conveniently forget about it until it was covered with mold. Part of the reason was because I didn’t know what the hell to do with it. But it was also ‘cause celery root’s so damn ugly and unappealing-looking. Did I mention that I’m both lazy and superficial?

Okay. I know celery root is yummy. I’ve been served it numerous times and in various forms at lots of fancy restaurants. With that in mind, I decided it was time to overcome my bias against unattractive vegetables and cook this ugly mofo up.

To prepare the celery root for roasting, I peeled off the skin with my trusty Oxo vegetable peeler and trimmed off the ends and brown spots. After slicing the roots into matchstick-sized strips, I tossed them with avocado oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and roasted them with similarly-prepared carrots at 375 F (convection roast) for ~40 minutes.

The roasted celery root tasted remarkably like potato (same texture, too) with a sweet hint of celery. I can’t believe I wasted so many celery roots in the past! From here on out, I pledge not to judge a vegetable by its ugly-ass cover.

Day 18 of Whole30 Eats

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Tonight, the beginning of my work shift wasn’t quite as frenetic as the night before so I was able to snack on a hard-boiled egg at around 1:00 a.m.

I ate my “lunch” at 2:00 a.m. which consisted of leftover beef stew, cauliflower fried “rice,” and nuked green beans. I followed it up with a container of crudités and Aubergine dip.

At 4:00 a.m., I ate my usual snack of macadamia nuts and coconut flakes. I don’t get tired of snacking on these fatty treats!

My last meal at work was a box of leftover sous vide pork chop, roasted kabocha squash, sautéed spinach, and garlic cauliflower mashed “potatoes.”

On my way home from work, I picked up my inaugural box of veggies from Full Belly Farms CSA. Here’s my haul for the week:

And here’s my crazy food stylist:

After playing with the rugrats (re-enacting Scooby Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang is a favorite at our house), I popped my supplements, ate a spoonful of coconut butter, and got some shuteye.

When I woke up at 5:00 p.m., I decided to make another variation of David Lebovitz’s fabulous roast chicken and shallots. This time, I changed it up by adding two sprigs of thyme and some sliced green garlic from my CSA box.

It really only takes about 5-10 minutes of preparation time ‘cause you just mix everything together…

…and turn it skin-side up before you pop it in the oven.

While the chicken thighs roasted in the oven, I washed and blanched two bunches of kale…

…and sautéed the leaves with some shallots and lard.

I also roasted some parsnips and carrots tossed with avocado oil, salt, and pepper in my trusty toaster oven (400 F for 25 minutes).

By the time the chicken was done roasting…

…we were all ready to dig in.

Tonight was the first time I didn’t make something different (i.e. non-Paleo) for the kids. The older rugrat ate everything but didn’t like the parsnips or kale. Our younger rugrat staged a hunger strike. Guess he’ll just have to load up on bacon and eggs in the morning!

Oven-Braised Beef Stew with Carrot, Parsnip, and Lacinato Kale

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I’m not gonna lie. This recipe is long and involved and may make you not wanna cook for a few days afterwards. Thankfully, this beef stew is the bomb diggity so it’s worth the work. Beef stews that are slowly braised in the oven are tastier than those you cook in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Make this stew on a lazy weekend day so you can serve it later in your workweek. It reheats well and, like all stews, it tastes better the next day.

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My favorite cut for beef stew is boneless short ribs but there was a sale at Whole Paycheck for chuck roast so that’s what I used. Short ribs get super tender and don’t dry out like chuck can so use them if you can.

Here’s what I assembled:

  • 4 lb chuck roast 
  • 4 large leeks, white parts only (split down the middle and sliced crosswise)
  • 6 shallots, peeled and trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons, divided of macadamia nut oil or fat of choice
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 6 ounces Cremini mushrooms, washed and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 4 large carrots, cut into fourths
  • 12 mini parsnips, trimmed
  • 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bunches lacinato kale, blanched
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Here are my ingredients all prepped…

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…and my hunk ‘o beef.image

Here’s what I did:

I preheated my oven to 300 F and moved the rack to the lower middle.

I dried off the roast and cut it into 2-inch chunks and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

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Then, I gathered my leeks and shallots…

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…and sautéed them over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of macadamia nut oil in a large cast iron skillet. I seasoned them with some salt and pepper and once they were softened and browned, I threw in the garlic cloves to get a little color. Then, I transferred them to a large Dutch oven.

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Next, I sautéed my mushrooms with some salt and pepper in the skillet…

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…and transferred them to the Dutch oven. I threw the celery, carrots, and parsnips (and some salt and pepper) in the skillet to brown. Since there was a lot of fond developing on the bottom of the skillet, I dumped in the can of diced tomatoes to help release it.

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I transferred the root vegetables to the Dutch oven and added the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Then, I quickly rinsed out my skillet and heated a couple more tablespoons of macadamia nut oil over medium high heat. I seared the beef cubes in four batches so the pan wasn’t overcrowded and the beef would brown properly.

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After I was done searing the beef, there was a lot of frond left on the bottom of my skillet so…

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…I added the cup of chicken broth to release the meaty browned bits, and poured it over the beef stew in the Dutch oven. If I wasn’t on the Whole30 program, I would’ve added some wine as well to deglaze the pan. I added the cider vinegar and stirred the contents of the Dutch oven…

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…and covered it with a piece of Parchment paper and the lid.

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I popped the stew in the oven for 2.5 to 3 hours or until the meat was nice and tender.

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I tasted for seasoning but because I had added salt and pepper at each step of the cooking process, the stew didn’t need anymore. Then, I removed the twigs and leaves and transferred the stew to a container to store in the fridge.

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In the meantime, I also blanched and squeezed dry two bunches of lacinato kale that I stored in the fridge until I was ready to reheat the stew.

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When I reheated the stew tonight, I poured all the contents back into my Dutch oven and brought it to a boil over high heat. Then, I reduced the heat to a simmer and covered it for around 20 minutes to heat throughout. Then, I added the chopped blanched kale…

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…and simmered the stew for around 5-10 more minutes.

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This stew is a keeper. Even though it was a pain to make, it was a delicious, rib-sticking meal that fed 4 adults and 2 kids and provided 4 boxes of leftovers. Plus, my older rugrat gave it a 5-star review. Awwww….

Slow Cooker Grass Fed Beef Shanks & Cabbage Stew

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Makes 6 servings / Hands-On Time: 15 minutes / Total Time: 11 hours

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I’m always looking for shortcuts to deliciousness, so even though my last slow cooker experiment was an abject failure, I was determined to undertake a new experiment this morning. I’d defrosted a couple of 2-inch center cut grass fed beef shanks, and was looking forward to chucking everything into the slow cooker so I’d have a tasty cabbage and beef shank stew ready to devour when I woke up in the evening. (Well, I was hoping it’d be tasty…)

Here’s what I assembled:

  • ½ pound organic baby carrots
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 small cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored, and cut into 8 wedges
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves
  • 2 center-cut grass fed beef shanks (about 2” thick)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 15 ounce can of organic diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup organic chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos

And here’s what I did with the stuff:

I dumped the baby carrots and chopped onions into the bottom of my slow cooker

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…and layered the cabbage wedges on top.

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I threw in the smashed garlic cloves and bay leaves, and seasoned the beef shanks with salt and pepper to taste (by the way, feel free to be pretty heavy-handed with the S&P).

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Then, I plopped ‘em on top of the cabbage.

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The last step was to pour in the diced tomatoes and broth…

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…before putting on the lid. I set the slow cooker on low and let it do its thing for 9 hours while I hit the sack. (Ah, the nocturnal life of a night shift worker…)

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When I woke up, the house was suffused with a rich, beefy aroma. I couldn’t wait to peek at the stew. Lifting the lid off the slow cooker, I saw that the meat had pulled away from the bone and the marrow was perfectly cooked. Score!

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I removed and plated the bones (and delicious marrow), shredded the meat, and tasted the stew for seasoning. The pot liquor was exploding with flavor, but it was a bit on the sweet side for my taste from all the onions and carrots, so I added a couple of tablespoons of coconut aminos and some more salt and pepper.

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In the meantime, I oven-roasted some cremini mushrooms tossed with Tabil seasoning and macadamia nut oil (400 F on convection roast for 25 minutes) and quickly whipped up some garlic cauliflower mashed “potatoes” (this time, substituting extra virgin olive oil for the grass-fed butter).

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Here’s my dinner plate:

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All in all, not too shabby for a simple dump-and-cover slow cooker meal. Because the meat was grass fed, it wasn’t quite as meltingly tender as your typical crappy (but admittedly yummy) grain ‘n corn-fed stuff. Nonetheless, it was TONS better than the grass fed “beef stew” that crawled out of my slow cooker a few days ago. Plus, bone marrow is just so damn tasty –- mouth-filling, fatty, and full of umami goodness. I’m really happy I joined our meat CSA; left to my own devices, I never would’ve thought to buy beef shanks. Now, I’m gonna order them as extra items when I get next month’s box o’ animal parts!

Roasted Carrots

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If you haven’t noticed, my favorite way to prepare veggies is to roast ‘em off in the oven. I love how roasting concentrates and intensifies flavors. Plus, you don’t really need to babysit the vegetables as they cook in the oven, and — best of all — prep time and clean-up are minimal. Remember? I can be really lazy in the kitchen — especially, at the end of a week working graveyard shifts. 

Here’s how I roasted off some carrots tonight, but feel free to sub in your favorite vegetable:

When I got off work in the morning, I washed and peeled the carrots I’d received from my CSA box on Friday. When I cut up my veggies for roasting, I try to make them uniform and not too small or they’ll burn too quickly. Then, I bagged the prepped carrots in a gallon Ziploc bag and went to bed.

When I got up in the evening, I preheated the oven to 425 F and grabbed some roasted garlic flavored extra virgin olive oil, plain old extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper. (I use a combination of the olive oils because the garlic flavored stuff can be overpowering. It’s not like I need to ward off vampires or anything.) 

*Update (1/17/11): Now I use lard, ghee, or coconut oil to roast veggies — not extra virgin olive oil.

Then, I mixed everything together in the sealed Ziploc bag.

Once seasoned and greased, I dumped the carrots onto a foil-lined baking tray and popped them in the oven.

The carrots take around 30-45 minutes to roast off, but I set my oven timer for 10 minute intervals at the beginning and 5 minute intervals near the end to remind me to rotate the tray and flip the carrots. 

If you wanna get all fancy, you can toss some minced garlic and microplaned ginger to the tray when you take it out of the oven. The residual heat takes the bite out of the ginger and garlic. After I plate the carrots, I like to add a splash of vinegar (e.g. Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar or aged balsamic).

You’ll dig ‘em. I promise.

*Update on 5/16/11: another great variation is to toss the carrots with melted fat, Madras curry powder, salt, and pepper before roasting. When it’s finished, top the carrots with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice. Yummy!

Weeknight Dinner for Company

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I love having people over for dinner but I used to also hate it because I’d be dead-tired by the end of the night.  Nowadays, I’ve learned to pare down my hands-on time so I’m not falling asleep while doing the dishes when the night is through.  Tonight, I had almost everything prepared earlier in the day (at a much more leisurely pace) and all I had to do before dinner was sear my sous vide flank steak, plate my roasted veggies, and nuke my garlic cauliflower “mashed potatoes.”  

Earlier in the afternoon, I prepared the garlic cauliflower “mashed potatoes" and put the finished side in a covered CorningWare.  The puree totally reheats well, so I just put it in something I could nuke and serve it in.

Also, I roasted the portobello mushrooms ahead of time but kept them in the foil packs.  After I was done roasting the other veggies in the oven, I put the packets in the oven (with thermostat turned off) to bring them up to temp before slicing and serving.

I roasted some carrots and sliced up delicata squash in a 425 F oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Those trays came out of the oven by 5:15 pm and they were served room temp.  To be fancy, I chopped up some Italian parsley and sprinkled them on top (along with my fancy balsamic vinegar).  I go all out for guests ;).

The sous vide flank steak didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Yesterday afternoon,  I seasoned it (almost directly out of the freezer)  with homemade taco seasoning and some salt and pepper, then vacuum sealed it.  I plopped it in the SousVide Supreme set at 135 F and left it in there for 24 hours.  When it was time for dinner, I took the steak out of the bath and its bag, dried it, and fried it in my cast iron skillet with some lard.  Next time, I’m gonna go with a lower temp and a thicker steak because the final product was too dry.  Live and learn.  

I’m stoked I was able to polish off a lot of veggies in our fridge because we’re leaving town in a few days.  Yay!