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Thai Green Chicken Curry

21 Jan

I’m a big fan of Thai curries, and Green Curry is one of my favorites. It’s been a couple years since I tackled my last Thai curry (Panang Curry), so I thought it was time to share another recipe. Like in my Panang Curry recipe, this recipe is a template for you to adjust as you see fit; directions on how to change the protein or add vegetables are provided below the recipe.

The Thai word for Green Curry (แกงเขียวหวาน) actually translates to “Sweet Green Curry”, but that doesn’t imply that this dish is sweet. Instead, “sweet green” means “light green” in Thai.

While the idea of making curry from scratch may be initially daunting, nothing could be further from the truth. My curry paste has quite a few ingredients, but all you do is basically throw them all together and purée; the paste will keep for a month in the fridge and there’s enough paste to make three curries. Making the actual curry is even easier – it’s a 20-minute meal, if not less.

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Salt and Pepper Fried Duck Tongues

24 Dec

WAIT!! Don’t turn away just yet. If the idea of duck tongues is too much for you, know that you can make this exact recipe with shrimp instead and it’s equally tasty; in fact, this recipe is based on Salt and Pepper Shrimp (椒盐虾), a common Chinese dish that’s one of our favorites. I’ll probably do up the shrimp version of the recipe in the future.

Okay, now that I’ve coaxed you into staying, let’s talk about duck tongues. They’re very different from what you may be expecting from tongue – usually considered dense, muscled, and tough – and are instead tender and succulent. They carry an inherent richness which reminds me of escargot. They have a tender bone in the center of the tongue, that’s mostly cartilage; many people come to relish the slight crunch of eating the whole tongue, bone and all. They’re also very affordable considering their status as a delicacy: US Wellness Meats offers a pack of 50-60 tongues (which I used in making this recipe) for well under $10.

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Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

17 Dec

To tell the truth, it’s not often that I get a hankering for a meal-sized salad. There’s a lot of chewing involved. But if I am going to sit down and enjoy a full salad, I prefer to eat something made with a wide variety of hearty ingredients. In that regard, Cobb Salad takes the cake: it’s basically lettuce and a bunch of solid, pleasurable mix-ins. No dainty ingredients like sprouts, no sir! Okay, sometimes Cobb recipes call for chives, but you get my point.

Both the salad and dressing used in today’s recipe come from California in the early 20th century. Bob Cobb, owner of the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood during the 1930s, whipped up a quick salad for a friend with a toothache using leftovers found in his kitchen. He cut the ingredients up into small pieces so as not to exacerbate his friend’s condition. (Personally, I would have whipped up a pureed soup if my friend had a toothache.) Other stories contend that there was no toothache involved. Either way, the salad was such a hit that Cobb added it to his menu, and it took off from there. Green Goddess Dressing was made by a San Francisco chef in the 1920s, after a popular stage play of the same name. While the salad and dressing don’t traditionally go together (Cobb salad is usually served with red wine vinaigrette), I really like the pairing of the two. Plus, they each call for 1/2 an avocado, so in that sense, they fit together perfectly.

Special thanks to my friends at Pacific Merchants who donated the hand-carved acacia wood salad bowl for the picture you see above. Their 12″ bowl is both beautiful and sturdy; it’s a perfect size for a whopping salad like this one.

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Perfect Smoked Turkey

1 Oct

I know what you’re thinking. “But Russ, it just turned October, and you’re already posting about Thanksgiving turkey!” While that’s true, there’s a simple explanation: if you want to celebrate Thanksgiving this year with a wholesome, happy, and pastured turkey, you’re going to need to contact a local farmer and pre-order it soon. As in, right away. So this recipe serves as both a reminder to pre-order a turkey soon, and a guide on what to do with the bird when you get it. I’ve been smoking chickens and turkeys for a while, but I’ve been lousy at sharing my results. So this is my defnitive guide on how to get a great smoked turkey, using either a gas of charcoal grill. I love smoking turkeys because the flavor is awesome, but also because it frees up valuable oven space on what tends to be a hectic day.

Speaking of pre-ordering, we’re getting ours from Tendergrass Farms this year, which is located in our neighboring state of Virginia. Even better, they’re offering $10 off their 12-15 lb turkeys for my readers this week, using code “GOBBLEMEUP123″ at checkout. The code is only good until October 8th, 2013, or for the first 25 customers; so grab them while they last! If you order two turkeys, shipping (regularly $19) is free. Here is some great info from Founding Farmer and General Manager David Maren about their beyond organic, air-chilled turkeys. Update: They’re sold out.

The common turkey we eat today is a domesticated descendant of the wild turkeys originally found in North America. When Europeans first saw turkeys, they incorrectly thought they were a form of guineafowl, which was sometimes called “turkey fowl” because back in the day they were imported into Europe through Turkey. The name “turkey” stuck with this bird afterwards. Interestingly, many European countries (including France, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, and Russia) call the bird a derivative of “India” or “Indies” because of a similar confusion with guineafowl (which was also imported from India), or possibly because the New World was often thought to be part of Asia during the European Renaissance.

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P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

3 Jun

Last September we met up with our friends Matt and Stacy, the Paleo Parents, for dinner at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, a popular Asian-themed chain restuarant here in the U.S. that sports a gluten-free menu. It was our first time visiting the restaurant, and Stacy strongly recommended (demanded?) that I try to re-create their famous Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Never one to turn a challenge down, I accepted, and then promptly forgot all about it.

But lucky for you, Stacy didn’t forget the promise I made that fateful day. In fact, she did one better, and corralled a bunch of Paleo-friendly bloggers together this week to re-create some favorite dishes from the restaurant chain. Here is a link to the round-up.

For my version I made a few minor adjustments. I used honey instead of what I assume is gobs of sugar (we taste-tested the original dish again last week and I was surprised by how sweet it was), and made fried noodle sticks using sweet potato noodles instead of rice or mung bean noodles, which I assume is what they use in the original recipe.

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Product Review: Beetnik Foods’ Gluten Free Menu

16 May

Earlier this month I was contacted by Austin-based Beetnik Foods to try a sampling of their foods. While I’m not one to turn down a free meal, it’s not often that I’m impressed enough to share products on my website (if you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a little obsessive about what makes it on my front page). I was happy to see that their food philosophy lines up with mine – start with great ingredients, then make great food – and the food was delicious and easy to make. So I thought I would take a second and share my experience.

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Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Chicken Pad Thai

4 Apr

It’s somewhat surprising, but Pad Thai, despite being one of Thailand’s national dishes, is from Vietnam. Originally influenced by Chinese cuisine, the dish was relatively unknown in Thailand until the 20th century. It actually was part of a Thai government campaign in the 1940s to create a national dish that both reflected the Thai spirit and also increased rice noodle production to help propel their economy. There’s a really interesting history of the dish to be read here.

This recipe is a long time coming, and something we’ve been cooking for years. For a while I was content with pre-made sauces like Mae Ploy’s, but I was never happy with its high sugar content and the fact that it has MSG in it. So I decided to work out how to make it from scratch, and I couldn’t be happier with the resulting product. This is the real deal.

And to make things even more interesting, for this particular photo session I thought it would be neat to try out Cappello’s gluten-free, grain-free fettuccine noodles instead of our usual rice noodles, and I was surprised by how well they worked! Instructions on how to make them with traditional rice noodles and zucchini noodles are included as well.

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Slim Palate’s Chipotle Dijon Turkey Meatballs

12 Mar

Like most of the Paleo world, I caught wind of Joshua at Slim Palate a few months back when he revealed that not only is he a teenager, but he lost over 100 lbs during his journey to find health and fitness. Incredible story aside, I immediately respected his photography and sense of style (I can’t imagine what my sense of “style” was at age 17!); he’s got an elegant eye that shows up in his pictures.

After a bit of chatting, I offered to do a recipe swap, where we recreate one of each other’s recipes, with allowance for tweaks. I chose to do one of his earlier recipes, Chipotle Dijon Turkey Meatballs, while he made a stunning rendition of my Rogan Josh recipe. My take on his original recipe is pretty faithful, but I added a creamy sauce on the side, modeled after the cream sauce typically found in traditional-style fish tacos.

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Chicken Francesca

26 Feb

While researching some Italian pasta-based chicken dishes, I came across a dish called Chicken Francesca more than once. I loved the name, and all it implies: the Italian word Francesca literally means “from France”, so to me the name Chicken Francesca means it’s an Italian dish that is cooked using French culinary methods. The problem is that the recipes I found that carried the name were vastly different from my initial impression: some were baked using breadcrumbs and cream, others were mushroom-intensive and served over rice, and still more were linked to a restaurant in Boston known for breasts sautéed in a skillet with artichokes and parsley.

So I decided to take my favorite elements of some of those recipes to make something even more unique: an Italian pasta dish that borrows heavily from French culinary methods! Namely, I focused on creating a heavily-browned skillet in order to deglaze it to serve as the base for my pasta sauce. I also used a milder shallot instead of the traditional onion found in many Italian pasta dishes, and added fresh parsley right at the end of the dish, which is so often found in French cuisine.

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Chicken Marbella

19 Feb

Chicken Marbella is a dish first introduced in The Silver Palate Cookbook in 1982. Its unique combination of prunes, capers, and green olives quickly captured the hearts of home chefs and remains a family favorite in many households throughout the United States today. So when a friend requested that I make an adaptation of the recipe, I was happy to give it a shot and see what I could do.

And truth be told, I didn’t make many changes from the original recipe, because it’s already delicious and uses whole ingredients. However, I only used dark meat (instead of a quartered whole bird) to make sure all of the pieces cooked evenly. I also made some minor ingredient changes, like adding half an onion and using a butter and honey glaze instead of a brown sugar coating typically used in this recipe. Altogether, it all adds up to a slightly magical experience: a gourmet-tasting dish that’s dead simple to make!

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