My friend Bob recently began a new diet and challenged me to cook a Paleo friendly meal. Always up for a challenge, I eagerly accepted! Now, to figure out what the hay Paleo is…
If you’re unfamiliar with the Paleo diet like I was, here’s the skinny: Eat naturally by way of lean meats, vegetables and fruits. Think of foods that cavemen (and women) ate back in the days of hunters and gatherers. This style of eating is an extremely healthy and nutritious way to dine.
I took this opportunity to try a new method of cooking as well: Sous-Vide. Although this style of cooking has been around for decades, Sous-Vide is a growing culinary trend. The idea is to throw all of your ingredients in a bag, seal it up and submerge your food in the temperature at which it is fully cooked (for example, fish is fully cooked at 140 degrees F, so you would keep the temperature of your water at 140 degrees F).
There is no need to worry about unevenness of cooking because it is never exposed to a high cooking temperature. As long as you keep your water temperature regulated, this method is practically fool-proof! Clean up is super easy too (I LOVE doing less dishes!)
And now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for… the recipe!
Digital probe thermometer (check for temperature accuracy in a glass of ice water)
4 medium to large zucchini
Create a brine with 5% salt and 95% water and leave fish in brine for 1 hour. Remove and pat dry on paper towel. Brining is optional but mighty tasty if you have the time.
Fill stockpot with water (a couple inches short of being full), insert probe thermometer into water and place on medium-high burner until water temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Once the water reaches the target temperature, turn the heat down to a low simmer. Keep the water temperature as steady as possible.
Place the fish, tarragon, thyme, lemon or lime juice, olive oil and butter if you're using it into the ziplock bag. Dunk the open bag into the water while still holding onto the open lip. Allow the water to force all of the air out of the open top and seal the bag. You may even want to suck out some of the air with your mouth if there is some leftover air in the bag. Pull the bag out to see if the bag is sticking to your ingredients and drop your entire bag into the water.
Let the fish cook in water for 20 minutes (you will need an extra 10-20 minutes if your fish is frozen), covered, checking the temperature regularly. Don't worry if you have to leave your fish to do other chores (dishes, bathroom ...facebook) because the fish will not overcook as long as you keep the temperature under 140 degrees F.
In the mean time, boil some salted water in another large pot. Slice your zucchini into long, thin strips with a vegetable peeler. Start on one side of the zucchini, and once you hit the seeded part in the middle, flip the zucchini over and continue on that side. Toss the core of the zucchini (the seeds will mostly fall apart in the boiling water anyway). Boil the strips for two minutes, until heated. Drain, sprinkle with a bit of salt and set aside (give it a squeeze of lemon or lime juice too if you have some leftover).
Pull the fish from the bag and plate everything in an amazingly creative way (I have yet to figure out how to do that). Pour a bit of the bag contents on the fish, sprinkle with chile powder for color and serve.
The first time I tried mushrooms like these, I was at the absolutely scrumptious Mediterranean Restaurant in Boulder, CO. I remember the room lit up as my mouth danced in ecstasy. These garlicy little bits are now one of my favorite things to order on their menu. I can eat an entire bowl on my own, but I am usually forced to share. Shucks.
Then I saw the lovely Dee Drummond’s Burgundy Mushrooms recipe (see above picture) on her Pioneer Woman website and the stars aligned. I knew then that I had to make them for myself.
Mister washed all the mushrooms while I readied the crock pot with the flavor goodies. I would like to note that four pounds of mushrooms is A LOT of mushrooms! They didn’t fit in my crock pot at first. I had to slowly add the remaining mushrooms as the simmering ones shrunk in the pot.
Warning: The aroma of simmering mushrooms and garlic will drive you buggy.
Tis the season for comfort food. During these chilly days and nights, it is easy to indulge in heavier dishes — with all the soups and chilis and bacon out there (oooh bacon, how I love thee). This dish warms the soul with its creamy, rich orzo yet the fruit and fresh herbs keep it light and fresh. It’s a dish fit for holiday meals or chilled and enjoyed on a picnic blanket with your loved one. <3
2 cups of orzo (or couscous), regular or whole wheat
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 medium green apple, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Follow the directions to cook your orzo (you may need to add some water to your pot to meet their requirements).
While the orzo is cooking, toast your almonds until golden brown by stirring them in a sauté pan over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside. You can also toast your almonds in the oven at 350 degrees F. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a single layer and cool.
Once your orzo is cooked, strain the liquid out (as much as possible) and add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, apple, cranberries, and almonds. Combine and serve.
Add some fresh arugula, either cooked or uncooked, for some added greens.
I was at a friend’s house of mine a few nights ago enjoying an evening of fine conversation (and strong wine) when we started to get hungry. Us ladies searched the pantry for scrumptious treats when she kindly suggested preparing a box of mac and cheese. I looked at her, wide-eyed in disbelief, as if she had just told a child that Santa doesn’t really exist.
“Blasphemy!” I yelped and rambunctiously explained to her how powdered cheese doesn’t do a noodle justice. It should be banned from the United States for posing as a cheese, heck, all American cheeses should be banned from the cheese section … but I digress. I continued my snobbish manifesto until the crooked look on her face made me realize how absurd I was being (I get a little passionate when it comes to mac and cheese, sue me).
Instead of telling her, I decided to show her. It is so easy to make real deal mac and cheese, you may never make boxed mac and cheese again. Once you get the hang of things, you can add other ingredients and play with the concept a bit.
1/2 pound pasta (elbow macaroni, spirals, ziti... your choice)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large egg
6-ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3-ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
3-ounces colby-jack cheese, shredded
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup crushed Goldfish Cheddar Crackers or Cheez-It Crackers (or both!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiled, salted water, cook the pasta to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a separate pot. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, paprika and cayenne. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the crackers to coat. Top the macaroni with the cracker mixture and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Do you ever dream about food? I do. Sometimes I dream about slow roasting meats sizzling over a fire or savoring a perfectly baked pastry. Other times I dream about chocolate pudding and slathering it all over my body.
Let’s not get into that right now.
More recently I dreamt about cornbread. Cornbread with a brown, crisp yet chewy crust that is fluffy and springy in the middle and has just the right amount of sweetness to it. This is that recipe.
This is a very light and moist cornbread unlike other cornbread recipes I have made that are dense and heavy. When I eat this, I feel like I still have room for a rack of BBQ baby-back ribs.
I usually double this recipe and bake it in a greased cast iron skillet. This way I get a nice brown crust on all sides. This also works in a 9-inch round glass pie pan or muffin tins too, but the time will vary depending on what sort of container you use.
If your results end up being more bitter than sweet, your cornmeal may be old. If you want awesome cornbread, you’ll need some fresh cornmeal.
Try adding jalapenos and shredded cheddar cheese to spice things up.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (or 400 degrees F if you have an older oven without a ceramic top).
Whisk the eggs and sugar together. In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk and corn, whisking in between to mix everything evenly. Mix in the melted butter.
Pour into a greased skillet or pan. Bake until the sides come away from the skillet (about 20 - 25 minutes for me). In the mean time, mix your honey with the additional melted butter to use for a topping. Turn the oven to a high broil and brown the top for about 2 minutes (watch carefully). Remove the cornbread from the oven and brush the honey butter on the top of your crust. Allow to cool and enjoy.
I love adding 2-3 jalapenos and a 1/2 cup sharp cheddar to this recipe.
The other day at the farmer’s market in Denver I picked up these beautiful cherry tomatoes (among other finds). Inspired by all the market’s fresh ingredients, I decided to make a Farmer’s Market Pasta Salad using their tomatoes and peppers.
This pasta salad turned out great. It was light and satisfying, perfect for the summer. Plus this recipe makes enough to share with a large group. I brought a big bowl of this pasta salad to a big BBQ for the 4th of July.
If you can manage, try making this day before your big event. I noticed that the flavors melded better as time went on.
1 cup organic Italian Dressing (Tuscan is my favorite to use)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 diced green bell pepper
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1/2 diced yellow bell pepper
1/4 to 1/2 diced red onion (according to your tastes)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the dressing, mayonnaise and sugar.
Drain the pasta well, transfer to a large serving bowl and let cool. Add the tomatoes, peppers, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, salt, to taste, and the black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add parmesan cheese to top and serve.
Ina Garten’s recipes are simple enough that anyone can make them, yet when you’re finished with your dish, there is a sophistication about it that makes you feel like you just cooked a gourmet meal. This is the beauty of the Barefoot Contessa.
Who knew that eating your greens could taste so good? If I tried this as a kid I would have eaten it all of the time! (Sorry Mom). This broccoli recipe is hers. It maximizes the flavor of broccoli without allowing it to get soggy and squishy. Roasting the broccoli at a high temperature allows the vegetables to caramelize. That’s the magic behind all of it. This recipe is so easy but it will become such a staple that it will be hard to eat broccoli any other way.
I added the shrimp and tomatoes to complete my dinner and served it on whole wheat pasta (see recipe note). Really tasty and healthy too. There is nothing wrong with that.
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Take two large bunches of unwashed broccoli (about 4 pounds) and cut them into large florets. Here's where you get to make an exciting decision. The key to this recipe is DRY broccoli. You can either wash your broccoli and thoroughly dry it, or cook the broccoli without washing it. The choice is yours. I didn't wash mine. I wanted the broccoli to get as crispy and brown as possible. If you're nervous about it, just wash and dry it obsessively.
Put the broccoli in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add garlic to the bowl and spread onto a cookie sheet.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until crisp-tender and some of the florets are browned. You can toss the broccoli in the middle of cooking if you feel it's necessary.
Remove from the oven and squeeze lemon juice over the broccoli, add a bit more olive oil, fresh grated Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.
Pumpkin risotto is extremely creamy and dreamy. Serve this as an appetizer or as a side dish for your next autumn meal. Add some cooked diced sweet potato or squash along with the pumpkin to make this a heartier autumn recipe. So simple, so good.
Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a low, keep warm.
Add oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until sweated, about 2 minutes. Add rice and toast until you can see the white pearls in each piece of rice. Add the wine, simmer and stir until all liquid is absorbed.
Add a ladle of broth to the rice mixture. Reduce heat, simmer, and stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the broth one ladle at a time. This takes about 20 minutes.
At about the 18 minute mark, add the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, sage and cranberries if you wish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds. Serve and enjoy.
I attended a pot luck for the Super Bowl and wanted to bring a side dish that most people hadn’t thought of, let alone tried before. I wanted something finger friendly and somewhat nutritious since a lot of these types of parties consist mostly of chips and dips and grilled meats (which I am in no way complaining about!). I found this recipes on health.com, and liked the twist on the traditional twice baked potato.
I don’t usually cook things in the microwave, but I wanted to follow the recipe for my first run through. Next time I think I will try baking the potatoes to cook them instead. I did find that the skins of my sweet potatoes were fairly soggy and limp after I hollowed them out, so I put them face down under a high broiler and brushed them with a little olive oil to crisp them up a bit before I filled them. The hardest part about this recipe was finding smaller sweet potatoes that were “party-sized.”
I’m not really a sweet potato connoisseur, but I did receive a lot of compliments on these guys at the party. Success!
3-ounces Canadian bacon or regular bacon, diced or crumbled
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
2 tablespoons shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
Pierce potatoes with a fork, and arrange on paper towels. Microwave on high for 6-8 minutes (depending on the size of the potato), making sure to flip the potatoes over halfway through their cooking time. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the soft insides, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Place shells on a baking sheet, face down and brush with olive oil. Put the shells under a high broiler, 5-7 inches away from the heat for a few minutes. Watch carefully and adjust the distance from the heat if necessary. Mine were crisp after about 6 minutes.
Mash pulp with bacon, sour cream and chives in a bowl. Spoon mixture into shells. Sprinkle cheese over the tops of the potatoes. Sprinkle a bit more bacon and chives (optional) for color. Broil for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
You can make these the night before your party or dinner. Prep your potatoes to the point where you are about to add the cheese and broil for the final time. When you're ready to eat these, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and place your potatoes in the oven for about ten minutes, or until they are heated through. Then add your cheese, and optional bacon and chives, and broil until the cheese is melted.
The following are two dishes that make me feel more French than I’ll ever be (both recipes are from the brilliant Julie Child):
First and foremost, Ratatouille.
Other than a delightful Pixar movie (“Rat and patootie…RATPATOOTIE!!”), ratatouille is a traditional french vegetable dish. Typically roasted, ratatouille has strong flavors and a butt load of variations. This dish makes a great accompaniment to roasts or chicken or any dish really.
In the words of Julia Child, “A ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it is to be served, and it seems to gain in flavor when reheated.” Cool with me.
Peel and cut the eggplant into 3 inch long slices. Cut the zucchini into slices and peel. Place those vegetables in a bowl, cover with water and let rest for 30 minutes. Drain.
Saute the eggplant and zucchini with olive oil and a little salt in a skillet. One minute on each side until browned. Set aside.
Cook the onions with the olive oil in the same skillet for 10 minutes over moderate heat. Stir in the garlic and add salt and pepper.
Peel the tomatoes and boil for 30 seconds. Cut into slices. Lay them over the onions in the skillet. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover. Pour the juice from the skillet over the tomatoes. Raise heat and boil for several minutes until the juice has almost entirely evaporated.
Put a third of the tomatoes mixture in the bottom of a casserole. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of parsley. Then put half of the eggplant and zucchini on top. Then the second third of the tomatoes and so on until you have three layers of vegetables and parsley.
Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for 15 minutes more, basting several times, until the juices have evaporated. Be careful to not let your vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.
Set aside uncovered and add a tablespoon of olive oil for flavor. Serve hot, reheat slowly at serving time, or serve cold.
Crepes are essentially very thin pancakes. You can eat them how with a little syrup or fruit. This is the way I usually eat them. There are versions that wrap a crepe around sweet fruit filling or savory fillings like meats, cheese and vegetables too.
It takes some time to perfect the art of the French crepe. Don’t get discouraged. Practice makes perfect, right? Keep on trying. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. I’ve killed many crepes to get to the point I am at today.
Put the liquids, eggs and salt into a blender. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of the jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. If after making your first crepe, it seems too heavy, beat in a bit of water, a spoonful at a time.
Brush the skillet lightly with oil. Set over moderately high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke. Immediately remove from heat and pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. Pour any batter that does not adhere to the pan back into your bowl. You want your crepes to be about 1/16 inch thick.
Return the pan to the heat for 60 to 80 seconds. Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe. Lift its edges with a spatula. If the underside is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning.
Turn the crepe by using 2 spatulas; or grasp the edges nearest you in your fingers and sweep it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle; or toss it over by a flip of the pan (some day, I will master this skill!!)
Brown lightly for 30 seconds on the other side. As they are done, slide the crepes onto a rack and let cool several minutes before stacking on a plate. Crepes may be kept warm by covering them with a dish and setting them over simmering water or in an over set to low heat.
Grease the skillet again, heat to just smoking, and repeat with the rest of the batter.
SERVE with practically anything - Butter, cinnamon and powdered sugar, or berries and fresh whipped cream, or make it a savory feast with spinach and cheese, or nutella and bananas and chocolate drizzle.
Comfort Food is one of my biggest weaknesses (and equally strongest passion). Chicken and dumplings, Shepherd’s pie and (of course) macaroni and cheese. If the food takes me down memory lane and back to my youth, I’m a fan.
I am constantly updating this recipe. Every time I make this dish, it turns out a little different each time. I throw in whatever ingredients I find laying about my kitchen (and surrounding areas). It makes life a little more interesting maybe, but doesn’t make for a solid recipe. Keep that in mind as you follow this thing. I call this the “Mac and Cheese and the Kitchen Sink” recipe for that reason.
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (penne is mighty tasty too)
extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup monterey jack, shredded
8 ounces processed cheese food
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs or crushed croutons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta to al dente. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and extra-virgin olive oil to keep from sticking.
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes (the butter should be frothy and free of lumps). Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer on low for ten minutes (until yellow in color) and remove bay leaf.
Temper in the egg by taking some of your butter sauce mixture and adding it to the beaten egg first to regulate the temperature (dumping the egg straight into the sauce results in what is essentially scrambled eggs). Stir in all of your cheese, reserving a bit to sprinkle over the top.
Fold the noodles into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Melt the remaining butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the noodle mixture with the bread crumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.
Are you asking yourself if you should make this recipe? Well the answer is: YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES EYS YES EYS YES YSEYSE YSEYSEySYeyEYSEYSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!
I will never think of carrots the same way again. I suppose you can take that as a warning if you steam, bake, roast carrots and are satisfied. If you are the type of person who likes carrots just as they are, DO NOT TRY THIS RECIPE!
For those of you who live on the wild side from time to time, TRY THIS RECIPE!!
…especially when you don’t know what to do with those leftover carrots.