Carrot + Cardamom Soup

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Hey, look! Michael Ruhlman just posted one of my favorite soup recipes from our cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans!

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

It took many tweaks to get it juuuuust right, but this Carrot + Cardamom Soup is now my go-to recipe to showcase this lowly root vegetable in its best light. 

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Check our my Carrot + Cardamom Soup recipe here, and while you’re at it, take a gander at my recent Ruhlman guest post about my own take on Paleo, too.

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Carrot + Cardamom Soup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

While we’re on the topic of Ruhlman: if you’re as crazy about eggs as I am, you must get your hands on Michael’s new book, Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient. It’s a must-have for anyone who aspires to be a serious cook. (Okay, fine: you get a free pass if you’re allergic to eggs.)

Happy cooking!

Feeling Schweddy

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I adore Evan Kleiman’s Good Food show on KCRW, Los Angeles’s public radio station—and not just because it was one of the inspirations behind Saturday Night Live’s classic Delicious Dish sketches. Come on—you remember Alec Baldwin’s Schweddy Balls, right?

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Thanks to my subscription to the Good Food podcast on iTunes, I regularly listen to Evan dig into the very best of food culture. Along with The Splendid Table, Evan’s show represents the very best of food journalism on the radio.

And happily, Henry and I pop up on today’s edition of Good Food to talk with Evan about Paleo! 

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Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops

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Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

With its Creole heritage, smothered pork chops is hearty comfort food at its most straightforward. Just brown some chops and cover ’em with a thick, savory layer of sautéed onions and gravy; you’ll have a satisfying meal in no time. But don’t mistake easy for bland. My flavor-first version of this southern dish will satisfy even the most ornery eater—guaranteed.

The secret to a smashing onion gravy, of course, is the roux—the thickening agent traditionally made from approximately equal amounts of fat to flour. My Paleo roux substitutes arrowroot powder for the flour, and uses bacon drippings as the fat of choice, which adds a wonderful smokiness to the sauce.

Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

And what goes better with pork chops than apples? Answer: nothing. 

Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The sweetness of the fruit and onions strikes the perfect counterbalance to the bacon-y richness of the gravy. An apple a day doesn’t just keep the doctor away—it also takes these pork chops from good to great. 

Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Is your stomach growling yet? Then let’s get down to business!

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Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing

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It’s Part 2 of my Nomtastic Thanksgiving series! (If you missed Part 1, it’s over here!)

Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Growing up in a Chinese-American household, I never had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: no turkey with stuffing, no cranberry sauce, no mashed potatoes with gravy, no sweet potato pie with marshmallows. But don’t cry for me, Argentina: the truth is, I never missed out on anything. After all, every Turkey Day, our family still gathered together at our house, and my mother would whip up a special East-Meets-West feast. We always had a Very Special Fusion Thanksgiving. (The menu changed every year, though my personal favorite involved Chinese sticky-rice-stuffed Cornish hens.)

Today’s recipe takes a page from my mom’s handbook: a traditional Turkey Day vegetable side with Asian flair! *Insert jazz hands here.*

Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

A tangy orange-ginger dressing gives this warm Brussels sprouts slaw a zesty zing that’ll liven up your Thanksgiving table. Besides, this is a super-easy side dish: it takes just 20 minutes to throw together. You can even shred the sprouts a day in advance, and cook ‘em in your already-hot oven after your turkey is done and resting. And if you have leftovers (and you probably won’t!), this slaw keeps really well, and can be eaten cold, hot, or at any temperature in-between. This just might be my favorite Brussels sprouts recipe—and that’s saying a lot because I love these mini cabbage impostors.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ready for the recipe?

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Hank Shaw’s Slow Roasted Duck (& a Giveaway of Duck, Duck, Goose!)

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Hank Shaw's Slow Roasted Duck (& a Giveaway of Duck, Duck, Goose!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

When I was a kid, my favorite dish was Cantonese roast duck. And frankly, I still love this dish.

Every few weeks, my mom would buy a whole roasted duck from Chinatown for a family feast. The heady smell of roasted meat and five spice powder always drew me into the kitchen; there, I’d stealthily pick at the tender duck and crispy amber skin while it was still in its take-out container.

My mom always bought the entire duck—with head and neck still attached—because she wanted to utilize the whole animal. She wouldn’t carve it up until we got home; the meat would go on a platter while the carcass was used to make a flavorful master stock for the rest of the week’s meals.

Hank Shaw's Slow Roasted Duck (& a Giveaway of Duck, Duck, Goose!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Once, when I asked her why she never had the guy behind the counter at the Chinese market chop up the meat for her, she laughed. Anyone naive enough to do that would inevitably get stiffed a few pieces, she explained. The best pieces.

Right before dinner, my mom would reheat the duck in the oven to re-crisp the skin, and then place it on her gnarled wooden chopping block and hack it into bite-size pieces with her ginormous cleaver. This was my cue: I’d oh-so-casually sidle up next to her and make puppy eyes at her until she handed me a piece of glistening meat to scarf down before dinner.

My love of duck has persisted to this day. But although I’ve prepared it a number of different ways, I never attempted to cook a whole duck until just last week. The reasons? I didn’t have ready access to a top-notch source for whole ducks, and I wasn’t confident that I had a fool-proof recipe. After all, high quality ducks are expensive, and I didn’t want to screw it up.

Hank Shaw's Slow Roasted Duck (& a Giveaway of Duck, Duck, Goose!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

But recently, two things changed. I’ve become a regular customer/convert of Good Eggs—a service that delivers fresh food from local farmers and artisans to customers’ doorsteps—and I was delighted to see that they’re selling whole ducks from Early Bird Ranch in Pescadero. And just a few weeks ago, I received an advance review copy of Hank Shaw’s latest cookbook, Duck, Duck, Goose.

The stars had aligned. It was time to roast my first whole duck.

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Paleo Eats: 9/24/13

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Paleo Eats: 9/24/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After working 6 graveyard shifts in a row, cooking was the last thing on my mind when I got home from the hospital yesterday morning. Henry’s still in New York City, so I couldn’t count on him to make dinner. And because I’m not exactly a great meal planner, I had no leftovers to repurpose.

So did I give in to the evil Mini-Me perched on my shoulder, egging me on to throw in the towel and JUST ORDER SOME TAKEOUT ALREADY?

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you already know that I managed not to cave.  

Paleo Eats: 9/24/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

It helped that my in-laws were here to watch the kids while I was at work. By the time my car screeched into the driveway, they’d already gotten the Double-Os fed, dressed, and packed for school. After accompanying the spawn to their classroom doors, I checked the defrost bowl in my fridge for thawed meat, and found two packs of chicken thighs.  Now, all I needed was a simple way to cook ‘em.

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Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods + The Recipe for Meat Loaf Muffins!

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Who’s got two thumbs and loves quick and easy comfort foods?

This tired mother!

Cooking From Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods (and The Recipe For Meat Loaf Muffins) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Although my dear hubby is off to New York on a business trip and I’m smack dab in the middle of another week of night shifts, there’s no excuse not to cook. I’m not saying it’s easy; as I’ve said before, I’m terrible at meal planning. But luckily, I’ve got a new weapon in my kitchen arsenal that helps procrastinators like me get nourishing, flavorful, real-food meals on the table with a minimum of fuss or muss: Julie and Charles Mayfield’s new cookbook, Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods!

Cooking From Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods (and The Recipe For Meat Loaf Muffins) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After an early review copy of the Mayfields’ cookbook showed up in my mailbox, I immediately whipped out a bunch of sticky-notes and began bookmarking my favorite recipes. But can you blame me?

Since starting this blog, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some really wonderful people from the Interwebs, but Julie and Charles are two of my absolute favorites. Henry and I instantly bonded with this warm and gracious couple back at the inaugural Ancestral Health Symposium over our shared love of good food and belly laughs. Since then, every time we’ve seen Jules and Charles—whether it’s in L.A., Austin, Boston, or their home base in Atlanta—we’ve had more fun than a barrel of monkeys. And now, there’s a third Mayfield to enjoy!

Cooking From Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods (and The Recipe For Meat Loaf Muffins) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

It’s not just that the Mayfields are a lovely family—they’re also foodies of the first order. Longtime readers know that the kiddos and I had a great time cooking through their first cookbook, the wildly popular Paleo Comfort Foods, and their fried chicken remains one of our favorite recipes.

Remember the first time I made their chicken? (I can’t believe it’s been TWO YEARS since we shot this video. Where does the time go?)

What I love about Jules’ and Charles’ follow-up is that its pages are crammed with similarly rib-sticking recipes—but all of ‘em can be prepared from start to finish in a flash.

In the past week alone, I’ve made multiple batches of the Mayfields’ easy and delicious Meat Loaf Muffins (recipe below). This is hearty, portable fare at its simplest, and it’s fantastic for both dinner and as a packed lunch.

Cooking From Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods (and The Recipe For Meat Loaf Muffins) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In fact, every time we finished eating a batch of Meat Loaf Muffins, Big-O demanded that I make more of ‘em because he liked munching on ‘em at school.

Cooking From Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods (and The Recipe For Meat Loaf Muffins) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Whole30 Day 2: Paleo Mayonnaise

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We’re just two days into January, so let’s make sure the rest of your month stays as tasty as possible with one of the best Whole30-friendly flavor boosters around: Paleo Mayonnaise!

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Unlike the store-bought gunk, Paleo Mayo isn’t made with canola oil or soybean oil — which, as my previous post made clear, are eeeevil. (Read the labels; even most varieties of “olive oil” mayo on supermarket shelves are primarily vegetable-oil-based.) There is one organic mayonnaise made with healthy oils that comes highly recommended by my pal Liz. The bad news?  It’s almost always sold out and not Whole30-compliant ‘cause it contains evaporated cane juice (i.e. sugar).

I guess you’ve got no choice: Roll up your sleeves and whip up your own!

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Porkitos! (a.k.a. Crispy Prosciutto Chips)

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I prefer prosciutto chips to bacon bits because they cook evenly and there aren’t any unappetizing flabby parts. These “Porkitos” also add a terrific salty crunch to creamy soups, salads, and purées. Or you can just stuff your face with them.

'Cause really — who doesn’t like crispy, porky chips?

Here’s what to gather to make a tray of crunchy Porkitos (feeds 1-2 people):

  • 3 ounces of thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma (Try to get freshly-sliced prosciutto from the deli counter and make sure they cut it paper thin.)

Here’s how to make ‘em:

Preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper…

…and place the prosciutto in a single layer on top. Don’t overcrowd the swine or it won’t crisp properly.

Once the oven is ready, place the the tray in the oven.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your prosciutto slices) or until crunchy. Watch your chips like a hawk to make sure they don’t burn. Burnt chips make Nom Nom wanna smash things.

Transfer the chips to a wire rack to cool.

They’ll actually get crunchier as they cool, so it’s better to err on the side of under-baking them. Look — like stained glass (only swine-ier)!

With Brussels sprouts chips, kale chips, mushroom chips (recipe available on my iPad app), and now PORKITOS, who needs boring old potato chips?