Paleo Pavlova

Mmmmmmm dessert…it’s something I haven’t really focused on because I don’t eat it very often.  However, the abundance of ripe fruit has inspired me to make a little “something” to enjoy every now and then.  We picked up 3 pints of incredible strawberries at the farmer’s market here on Saturday and they were so ripe they needed to be consumed ASAP.  I also had a couple of egg whites hanging out in the fridge after I had stolen the yolks to make some homemade mayonnaise earlier in the week.  So I decided to crack a few more eggs and make a Strawberry Pavlova on Sunday.  While it took about an hour to bake, it was very easy to assemble and it is the first fruit-based dessert I have ever been able to get my teenagers to eat!

3/4 c egg whites

3 + 1 t sweetener of choice (I used date sugar this time)

1 c heavy cream

1/2 t vanilla extract

2 pints strawberries, sliced

  • preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • whip egg whites and 3 t sweetener until stiff
  • form into desired shape on oiled parchment paper on a baking sheet (I did a disk with a hollowed out center for the whipped cream)
  • bake for 30 minutes; lower temperature to 250 and bake for 30 more minutes
  • allow meringue to cool
  • whip cream and remaining sweetener along with vanilla
  • spread the cream in the center of the meringue and top with strawberries

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The Terrible Dinner That Wasn’t

It seemed like a great dinner tonight wasn’t meant to be.  It started with a great workout yesterday morning with my husband – I was able to do 8 squats at 95 lbs with pretty good form for all of them.  Then, he was up in the middle of the night…so I was up in the middle of the night (I’m a light sleeper) and couldn’t get back to sleep.  But I had thawed a lovely eye of round roast from US Wellness Meats and by golly I was going to cook it!  The recipe I was determined to use is from The Domestic Man, and it appealed to me because you zap it in a 500 degree oven, turn it off, and let the oven work its magic over the course of a couple of hours.

Well, the roast cooked a lot faster than I anticipated and in 45 minutes the thermometer read 169 degrees.  Great.  So I thought we were going to be eating some expensive shoe leather for dinner.  Guess I’d better make some delightful sides to offset that.  So I set about making a hybrid Hollandaise/Bearnaise sauce using the beautiful fresh eggs I had picked up this afternoon.  I served this sauce over the two pounds of roasted asparagus I had fixed at the last minute.  I also shelled some fresh peas we had gotten for the last two weeks in our veggie basket.  I have never made fresh peas and was fresh out of energy to look one up on the internet, so I decided to wing it.  I steam-sauteed the peas in a lump of butter with a splash of water until they were tender and then sprinkled a little fresh tarragon on top.

So I had some yummy sides that I hoped would redeem my poor performance, and it was time to try to salvage the meat.  There was lots of yummy junk left in the bottom of the roasting pan, so I decided to deglaze it with two ice-cube sized lumps of double-strength bone broth I had made over the course of three days last week.  I cooked the broth until it was thick and syrupy in consistency.  Because it was a reduction of a stock I had already salted, I did not add any further salt or spice.  It was wonderful and full of that lovely umami flavor I love.

And guess what!  Even though the roast was beyond well-done, it was still edible and even tasty when amended with the beef sauce or a little of the hybrid Hollandaise sauce!  It would have been divine if I had taken the roast out at about 135 degrees, and I will pay better attention next time I invest the money in quality grass-fed beef!

I apologize for the lack of photographs tonight, and then inexact recipes.  If you are like me, you usually don’t measure much while cooking – you cook by the seat of your pants (it’s not all scientific like baking).  That is exactly what I did tonight, and (for once) the results were almost exceptional, so I wanted to share my process with you.

Spring Chicken and Vegetables

If you haven’t guessed yet, I am not a fan of chicken in general.  Usually I find chicken meat to be gamey, dry, and tough no matter how I cook it.  I have found a decent chicken supplier – they are on the small side, but the flavor is great.  Here’s what I did with my chicken tonight – and it was devoured!  The spice rub makes the chicken skin crispy and tasty – do not discard it or your chicken will taste bland.

1 chicken, cut into pieces

1 t ground fennel

1/2 t ground coriander

1/4 t ground cumin

salt, pepper

  • combine spices and rub into chicken pieces with olive oil

2 carrots

2 parsnips

1 – 2 bulbs fennel

1 onion

2 heads green garlic

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Wash and chop the veggies into bite sized chunks
  • Add to baking pan and toss with chicken pieces
  • Bake until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender

 

Rutabaga Colcannon

This was so very, very good.  I wanted to make a colcannon recipe for St. Patrick’s day, but I was too lazy to look up recipes.  I had all the ingredients of a traditional colcannon in my veggie basket last week, but I figured the carbivores would revolt if I sullied their mashed potatoes with cabbage and scallions, so I refrained and used my cabbage on the side. However, I had some rutabagas I needed to use up tonight and decided to fancy it up a bit. The result was amazing goodness, even though the kids wouldn’t touch it.

2 large rutabagas, peeled and chopped

2 – 4 T Kerrygold unsalted butter

1 bunch scallions, sliced

Salt and pepper

  • Boil rutabagas until tender.  Drain and put back into the pot over a very low flame to evaporate excess water.
  • Place rutabagas in bowl of the food processor with butter, salt, and pepper.  Puree.
  • Place sliced scallions in with the rutabagas.  Pulse gently to mix.  Enjoy!

Lent is here…

…so what to eat?  I still haven’t found a great place to buy seafood, so this weekend I loaded up on some frozen stuff at Trader Joe’s so I don’t get hungry and crabby.  Like I was on Friday.  At least I had some fresh eggs on hand…and some organic potatoes.  Put them together and you get an awesome Spanish Tortilla!  Even the kids enjoyed this.  I served it with beets – I roasted the roots, sautéed the greens, and then dressed it all in a sherry vinaigrette.  Sherry vinegar has been my absolute favorite for making vinaigrette lately, I love the way it tastes.  I also add some Dijon-style mustard and some garlic, if I feel like chopping it up. 

Newsflash: My husband, who usually shuns white potatoes, has actually requested this dish again this Friday.  Yum!

 

 

Braised Short Ribs

One of my favorite sources for recipes is Bon Appetit magazine.  I found this recipe in the October 2011 edition, and switched the flour for potato starch and grassfed beef ribs purchased from US Wellness.   I served this with the rutabagas from the veggie basket, boiled and then pureed with cream and butter and arugula dressed in a sherry vinaigrette.  It’s sufficient to say that dinner tonight was full of YUM.  Really, when I eat the grassfed beef – it tastes beefier than the stuff I get at the supermarket – more like the food I ate as a kid. 

Roasted Broccoli with Green Garlic

Both main ingredients were included in our basket this week.  I admit the first week we received the green garlic I thought it was a funny colored scallion and sliced that baby up and sprinkled in into our salad.  It was…pungent. 

Anyway, I was looking up recipes for the romanesco cauliflower I also received and they suggested roasting that vegetable, so I decided to do the same with the broccoli.  Here’s how I did it:

Broccoli, cut into florets

olive oil

crushed red pepper

salt

pepper

minced green garlic

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  For an easy cleanup, line a baking pan with foil.  Grease with olive oil and place broccoli on the pan.  Season with red pepper, salt and black pepper.  Drizzle some more olive oil over the broccoli.
  • Cook broccoli in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes.  Open the oven carefully, and give the pan a shake to loosen the broccoli from the pan.  If the broccoli looks like it is cooking very  quickly, reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so.
  • Check the broccoli again and sprinkle the minced garlic over the broccoli.  Stir, and return to the oven for a minute or two. 

 

 

Crock Pot Pork

For years, I have shunned the crock pot.  I know it’s a wonderful, modern convenience and it helps many working parents put together a hot, nutritious meal while they are busy, but to me the food always tasted bland and had a mushy texture.  I have lived crock pot free for five years, but then I saw the most amazing invention – a crock pot with a metal insert so you can sear the meat before you cook it all day.  That’s it!  That is all I needed to desire a handy countertop oven.  Luckily, my husband had a good day at the blackjack tables in Vegas last fall and hit the outlet mall in Primm to purchase a Breville crock pot with a nonstick insert.  Score!  So far I usually cook pork roasts in this appliance.  Here is a generic recipe, with a couple of twists:

1 – 2 Pork Shoulder Roasts

2 T coconut oil

Several cloves garlic

1 c water

  • Sear the pork roasts on both sides; add garlic cloves at this time as well
  • Add water, salt and pepper and cook all day
  • Remove roasts from crock pot to cutting board; allow to cool and shred with forks

I do two variations of this roast.  The first is kind of a kalua-style roast with 2-3 T wheat-free tamari sauce and some liquid smoke; the second one I substitute citrus juice for the water, and add the zest of the fruit when it has been shredded.  If you take the second variation and fry it up in the pan until it’s crispy it is just divine, kind of like carnitas!  I think some pickled onions from this recipe would be very refreshing with the crispy-fried pork as well. 

Whatever you do, be sure to make enough of this for leftovers.  It’s one of my go-to recipes for busy weeks because you always have tasty protein in the fridge that you can build the rest of the meal around.

Stir Fried Greens

To go along with the previous post, here is a recipe I threw together one night a couple of months ago.  My husband loved it!  Kitchen tip: when you bring ginger home from the market, use a table spoon to peel it and pop the root in the freezer.  That way it is ready for use at a moment’s notice.

1 head bok choy or similar vegetable

1 T coconut oil

1/2 t sesame oil

1 clove garlic

pinch red chili flakes

1 T tamari sauce

Grated ginger

  • Place pan over medium high heat.  Add oils, garlic, and chili flakes.
  • Add chopped greens and stir, cooking until slightly softened.
  • Add tamari and grate ginger with a microplane over the greens.  Continue to cook until desired tenderness is achieved.

 

 

Cake! And Ice Cream!

My apologies for not posting much this week – it has been a busy one as we celebrated Cavebaby’s first birthday on Friday!  So what did I make for the Cavebaby to celebrate his special day?  For dinner he had Chocolate Chili and sweet potatoes, and of course cake and ice cream for dessert!  While I know that cake and ice cream are not even close to primal/paleo eating, for birthdays and special occasions I have no problem making and consuming these treats with a clean conscience.  The key is to pick a sweetener you feel comfortable consuming, and use less.  I think it also helped that I had spent the previous 30 days consuming no sweeteners whatsoever, so even a little bit tasted fantastic.

I used an Ina Garten recipe for the ice cream because it didn’t call for eggs.  Eggs are like gold around this place – especially when we get pastured ones, which was all I had in the fridge, and I was going to use four of those babies in the cake.  So here is how I made the ice cream:

2 c heavy cream

1/8 – 1/4 c sugar

pinch salt

1/2 t vanilla

  • Heat all ingredients until sugar dissolves
  • Chill mixture overnight
  • Run mixture through ice cream maker until frozen

How easy is that?!

Now for the cake: I used a recipe my mom has been making for at least the last 20 years or so.  We were fortunate to live in Germany, along the French border in those days, and got to eat so much delicious food!  It definitely made an impact on my cooking style.  This is a flourless chocolate cake, and its texture is rich and a little fudge-y.  A small slice goes a long way.  The ingredients and directions for this cake can be found here.  I used about 6 ounces of chocolate though – 72% Valrhona from Trader Joe’s.  I also used half the sugar the recipe called for – about 1/4 c. 

Filling and frosting – because the rich cake wasn’t enough I had to gild the lily a little bit.  I decided I was going to try to split the cake in half, spread some filling in the middle, and enrobe the entire thing in ganache.  The filling I used was whipped ganache, recipe found here.  Since it was a filling, I halved the recipe, then further halved the added sugar.  It was yum! 

For the frosting, I melted 2 more bars of Valhrona 72% in the microwave and then added heavy cream – about 1/2 – 3/4 c – until the texture was pour-able.  I also added a tablespoon of sugar to sweeten it a bit.  After cooling the filled cake in the fridge for about 2 hours, I poured the warm ganache over the top and spread it around gently with a spoon.  It was a beautiful cake, and the taste was out of this world!

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy: