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Dolma (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

26 Aug


Gluten-Free, Perfect Health Diet

Dolma are stuffed grape leaves, originating in Turkey but expanding all over the Mediterranean, Middle East, and beyond. Their filling can be anything from tomatoes, to eggplant, to meat – really, you can’t go wrong with stuffing these little guys. This particular recipe is the Greek variation, called Dolmathes (an interesting use of Greek plural endings in a foreign word); they are made with rice, ground beef, and fresh herbs. And lemon juice! A whole lemon’s worth. The resulting flavor is both sour, salty, and rich, and is a perfect party dish to accompany other finger foods.

I was first drawn to this dish because it’s a one-stop-macronutrient-shop; it’s equal parts carbs, protein, and fats, ending up in a deeply satisfying experience. The only break from the norm that I adapted in this recipe was to cook the rice in chicken broth instead of water, in order to increase its nutritional profile and tastiness.

Before we move on, let’s have the white rice talk again. As you may know, I find rice to be a perfectly healthy and Paleo-friendly food, since it is very low in toxins (compared to brown rice, and even some common Paleo foods, like coconut). Common questions I get: But what about its glycemic load? Basmati rice (like in this recipe) has a very low glycemic load even compared to other rices, and when paired with protein, fats, and acids, it’s further reduced, and significantly so. But what about arsenic? There are some studies that show there is arsenic in rice, but the amount of arsenic in rice is lower than the arsenic found in other foods (3x less than what’s found in drinking water, for example). But it’s nutritionally poor? Cook it in broth, like in this recipe!

Anyway, those are the most common rice questions I get – be sure to leave more in the comments below if you have any. At the end of the day, I think that white rice is a good thing to have on the table; it’s delicious, and if having a bit of rice as part of a meal helps keep cravings for other (unhealthier) foods at bay, go for it – provided you tolerate it well.

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Barbecue Heart of Shoulder Roast

1 Jul


Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

My friends at US Wellness Meats recently sent me a cut of beef I’d never seen before. The heart of shoulder roast, sometimes called the heart of clod or cross-rib roast, is a center cut roast taken from the shoulder, similar to chuck roast. Typically I would oven-braise a shoulder roast in order to break down its connective tissue. But heating an oven for several hours doesn’t sound like a good time to me right now considering that we’re in the heat of summer; so I did what any sensible American would do with a big chunk of meat in July – I barbecued it.

This recipe is not unlike the Barbecue Brisket recipe in my book, just cooked at a slightly lower temperature; the lower temperature drags the cooking process out a bit, but results in a more evenly tender roast. Feel free to use this recipe for brisket as well.

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Kare Kare (Philippine Oxtail and Tripe Stew)

10 Jun


Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

Let me tell you a quick story. I first visited Singapore about 10 years ago, flying solo to the city-state for a work trip. I loved this tiny country from the very start, most especially their melting pot of cultures and languages (the country has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil). I also happened to be visiting during Chinese New Year, and the whole downtown area was filled with celebrations and fireworks – quite a welcoming sight for this young and starry-eyed traveler.

My first morning in the city I awoke starving (and a little hungover), and decided to scout out some local restaurants for a late breakfast. I quickly learned an important lesson: during the daytime, Singapore basically shuts down for Chinese New Year. After miles of walking, I finally found a shopping center that was open, and headed for the first restaurant I could find, a small, cramped Filipino restaurant.

The menu was written in Tagalog, and I was too hungry and grumpy to ask for an English menu, so I just worked my way through the list of dishes on my own. I settled on Kare Kare, mostly because it sounded like “curry”, and based on its description I figured the word karne meant meat (I was right). Meat curry sounded like a perfect fit for my empty stomach. I couldn’t translate the rest of the dish’s description but I figured I was good to go.

The dish that arrived held little similarity to curry, and was more like a thick, mild stew that tasted like peanuts. I also found little in the way of meat in the dish, mostly attached to weird-looking bones (oxtails) or some strange looking chewy substance (tripe). But you know what? It was delicious, and I ate every bit of it, even if I had no idea what it was.

I’m pretty sure that this meal is what started drawing me towards adventurous eating, and so I wanted to share the recipe for the dish with you this week. As you might have figured out, Kare Kare is a Philippine oxtail stew, often served with tripe and pig or cow feet. There’s a bit of variation to this dish, but it is typically includes eggplant, green beans, and Chinese cabbage. The name Kare Kare may have been introduced by Indian immigrants who settled to the east of Manila, while others believe that the dish came from the Pampanga region to the northwest of the Philippine capitol city.

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Beef à la Mode (French Pot Roast)

29 Apr


Beef à la Mode (Boeuf à la Mode) is the French variation of traditional pot roast. What sets it apart from an American-style pot roast is that it uses red or white wine (and sometimes tomato), while the original American pot roasts were made with just water. Traditional Beef à la Mode employs a technique called larding, where a special needle is used to thread long strips of pork fat through a tough cut of beef to add fat and flavor. While that sounds pretty awesome, I didn’t think it was fair to buy a needle just for one dish; so instead I did what many modern chefs do today, and cooked some bacon with the roast. I’ve seen some old Beef à la Mode recipes call for a cow foot to be added to the pot to help thicken and gelatinize the braising liquid; personally, I just used some gelatinous homemade beef stock instead.

I made a couple other slight modifications to this dish. Instead of celery, I used celery root, which imparts a similar flavor but is much heartier and more satisfying to eat (I bet it’s more nutritious, too). Secondly, I garnished the dish with some fresh chopped parsley and thinly sliced lemon zest to add a bit of brightness to the dish. The modifications definitely worked; my wife said this was the best pot roast I’ve ever made.

And yes, “à la Mode” means more than just “topped with ice cream”; it roughly translates to “in the style/modern”, meaning that when the French first started braising beef in wine it was in style. In that same sense, when Americans first started putting ice cream on pies (around the 1890s) it was considered stylish, so we adopted the French phrase. If you went to France and asked someone to bring you some “Tarte (Pie) à la Mode”, you’d probably just get funny looks. Continue reading

Bakso (Indonesian Beef Balls)

5 Apr


Last month I had the pleasure of contributing to Melissa Joulwan’s awesome meatball recipe collection, “March Meatball Madness.” My dish, Bakso, is one of my favorite ways to eat ground meat. Be sure to check out the rest of March Meatball Madness on her blog, The Clothes Make the Girl!

Bakso is an Indonesian beef ball similar to Chinese or Vietnamese beef balls. Like all Asian beef balls, they are dense yet spongy, with a texture similar to fishcake. The key component of this texture is pulverizing the meat into a paste, often described as surimi, wherein its proteins are broken down. I like this spongy texture, and it’s a great alternative to your typical uses for ground beef.

It’s commonly believed that Bakso was first brought to Indonesia by Chinese immigrants. Bakso vendors can be found on most busy Indonesian city streets. Recently, there has been a health stigma against Bakso vendors, since additives such as Borax and MSG are commonly found in the beef balls or broth they’re served in. But in their natural form – as found in this recipe – Bakso is both delicious and healthy. The only modification I made from typical Bakso recipes is that I omitted the bit of sugar that is usually added to the balls to enhance their flavor.

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Meatloaf (Paleo, Gluten-Free)

27 Mar


Meatloaf is a dish that changes with age: it is often reviled by children and treasured by parents. It makes sense, actually. Kids like to know what’s in their food, and meatloaf is the antithesis of this idea; it’s just a brown hunk of mystery, coupled with a nagging feeling that there are vegetables inside. Adults like meatloaf because it’s a way to eat many ingredients at once, with minimal effort. Personally, I think that a perfectly-cooked meatloaf is appealing to both sides of the coin: easy to make but tasty enough for everyone to enjoy. To ensure a perfectly-roasted loaf, I developed a recipe that uses a water bath to keep the oven moist and cook everything evenly.

Meatloaf has origins in many countries, spread throughout the world. It’s universally considered a comfort food. Some of my favorite variations include Jewish Klops (made with boiled eggs inside), Czech Sekaná (with pickles and sausage inside), and Austrian Faschierter Braten (wrapped in ham or bacon before baking). The American variation rose to popularity during the Great Depression, when families tried to stretch food out to last longer. Americans typically added breadcrumbs to help bind and add volume to the dish, and the tradition persists today. The truth is that a well-cooked meatloaf doesn’t really need a breadcrumb binder – mushrooms work just fine, and add some great flavor as well.

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A Tale of Two Chilis: My Review of The Slim Palate Paleo Cookbook (and a Giveaway)

20 Mar


Left: Chili Con Carne from The Ancestral Table. Right: Texas Chili from The Slim Palate Paleo Cookbook

I don’t know about you guys, but my teenage years were not very productive. I played and sang in punk rock bands, and we churned out a cassette tape release every six months or so. That was about it. At the time I felt like a pretty prolific chap, but it pales in comparison to the milestones that teen blogger Joshua Weissman (the writer behind the website Slim Palate and the newly-released cookbook, The Slim Palate Paleo Cookbook) has reached in the past couple of years.

Writing a cookbook is not easy. Surviving your teenage years is not easy. Somehow, Joshua managed both, and while I can’t speak for how easily his adolescence is going, this book is a significant accomplishment in and of itself. But this book is even more impressive; it is the tale of one young man’s journey from obesity to health (he lost 100 pounds along the way). Ultimately, this project is more than a cookbook – it’s an early chronicle of someone destined for great(er) things.

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Classic Braised Short Ribs

11 Mar


This week I’m traveling to NYC for a cooking demo, and Providence and Boston for book signings. More info here – please be sure to come visit since I’m not sure when I’ll be heading north again for a while. See you there!

I have a love/hate relationship with braised beef. While I love the tenderness that comes from slow-roasting meat in liquid, I sometimes become bored with the tired texture of braised dishes. So in writing this recipe, I decided to make a classic braised short ribs recipe, but alter its final texture by roasting it at a high heat before returning it to the braising liquid. This technique allows me to add some crispness to the beef and also presents an opportunity to reduce and flavor the braising liquid while the beef finishes.

Short ribs are one of my favorite cuts of beef, as they are extremely rich, relatively inexpensive, and very versatile. They are best known as a low-and-slow cut, but they fare just as well with high heat grilling, such as in my Wang Kalbi recipe.

The short ribs for this recipe were graciously donated by my friends at Arrowhead Beef, a grass-fed farm located in Chipley, Florida. Along with their online store, they sell their products all over Florida, at farmer’s markets and retail locations. Their short ribs were delicious – meaty and full of tasty connective tissue. They worked perfectly with this braise.

Better yet! They’re offering a 10% off total purchase for The Domestic Man readers. Use code domesticman when checking out. Offer expires March 31st, 2014 and excludes Bulk Beef options; limited 1 per customer.

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A Brief History Lesson: Beef Bourguignon

22 Feb

A couple weeks ago I did a guest post on RobbWolf.com, which was pretty exciting for me. I first heard of the Paleo diet through his book, The Paleo Solution, and considering how profound of an impact it made on my health, it was just surreal to join forces with him.

For my guest post, I deconstructed the entire history of one of my favorite dishes – Beef Bourguignon – including the individual histories of every ingredient used in the dish and the people who made it. It took a fair bit of research to put it all together, and I think it’s a very interesting read, though a little longer than my typical blog posts. For posterity’s sake, I decided to move the article to this blog in case you wanted to check it out. Enjoy! The link to my recipe is at the bottom of the post.

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Sauerbraten (German Pot Roast)

18 Feb


Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

Sauerbraten (“Sour Roast”) is a German pickled roast. Traditionally made with lean horse meat, this dish works well with any lean roast. For my recipe in particular I used eye of round roast. This dish is unique in that the meat is tenderized in a wine or vinegar marinade for several days, probably a carryover from ancient preservation methods.

To counter the sour taste of the meat, Germans today commonly add gingersnap cookies to the roast’s gravy; personally, I used a bit of honey and golden raisins to cut its sourness, a custom found in Rheinischer Sauerbraten (Sauerbraten from the Rhine region in West Germany).

The eye of round roast for this recipe was graciously donated by Friends & Farms, a Maryland-based community that provides high-quality food baskets from local farms and artisans. They build the baskets with certain recipes in mind, and provide the recipes each week; each basket is designed to complement your eating habits, and is enough food for about three meals per week. You can also customize your baskets for a more Paleo-minded lifestyle, which is really cool.

Better yet, they are giving away a free weekly food basket to one of my readers – if you’re in the greater Baltimore area, click here to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter. The giveaway ends ends midnight (EST) Saturday, Feb 22nd, 2014 and is limited to Maryland-area residents; you’ll need to be able to pick up your winnings at one of their many pickup locations. Good luck!

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