Roasted asparagus is no big deal, right? To roast asparagus, you basically just roast asparagus – not really worthy of a dedicated blog post. But pair this under-appreciated vegetable with a traditional Béarnaise sauce and you’ve got something spectacular. It’s funny what a few egg yolks and some butter can do.
Asparagus is an ancient vegetable, found in records dating back 5,000 years. In fact, an asparagus recipe appears in the oldest surviving cookbook (Apicuius, 4th century AD). While widely used by the Greeks and Romans, it nearly disappeared after the fall of the Roman Empire, only to be reintroduced in the late Middle Ages by the French.
Béarnaise sauce is relatively modern, first developed in the 19th century. It is often associated with Hollandaise sauce, as it employs a similar technique of emulsifying fat (butter) in egg yolks and acid. While Hollandaise is made with lemon juice, a Béarnaise is made with an herb-infused vinegar reduction. The sauce has nothing to do with bears, or the capital of Switzerland (Bern), but rather is named after Béarn, a former province in southwest France. Fun fact: d’Artagnan (one of the main characters in The Three Musketeers) was from Béarn.
My friends at Pacific Merchants donated this Enamour dish for my recipe, which was pretty cool of them. Enamel-coated stoneware is very sturdy and versatile, and this dish is a thing of beauty. It can be used for baking and broiling, but in this case I used it as a serving dish. They are also offering 25% off purchases on their site for my readers, valid March 4-12, 2014! Use code DomesticMan at checkout.
Today’s recipe comes from Kelly Milton, author of the blog Paleo Girl’s Kitchen and the excellent cookbook Paleo Happy Hour: Appetizers, Small Plates & Drinks. As I mentioned in an earlier Paleo Cookbook Roundup, I really like her book because it deftly balances all the elements you’d need for hosting a party, including plenty of drink and appetizer ideas.
To highlight how easy some of the recipes are, we decided to do a recipe swap, where I made a recipe from her book, and she tackled one from my upcoming cookbook (she made Sukuma Wiki, check out her post here). Her Marinated Mushrooms fit the bill perfectly as a simple, make-ahead dish that isn’t going to break the bank. Straight from the book:
“These mushrooms are marinated in a delicious blend of herbs and spices that excite the palate. Because they are so light, you can pair them with another richer appetizer or a heavy meal. They are also light on the budget compared to the cost of buying gourmet marinated mushrooms from the grocery store.” Continue reading
A few years ago I spent a winter in Bavaria, the Southeastern state in Germany. One of my favorite dishes there was Blaukraut, a simple simmered red cabbage. The dish has three different names in Germany – Blaukraut (“blue cabbage”) in the South, Rotkraut (“red cabbage”) in Central Germany, and Rotkohl (also “red cabbage” – kohl is a Northern word for kraut).
It’s believed that the different names stemmed from the fact that the cabbage can take on different colors depending on the acidity of the soil it was grown in and its method of preparation. Some contend that the variation comes from the fact that there wasn’t a German word for the color purple until after the cabbage had been introduced. Since red cabbage has a tendency to turn a blueish color when cooked, adding acid (in this case, apple cider vinegar) helps retain its redness.
Boniato (also called batata or tropical sweet potato) is a white, starchy, and dry version of the common sweet potato. It’s popular in Florida and the Caribbean, but well-known throughout the Americas and some of Europe (Spain in particular). It was cultivated as far back as 1,000 years ago in Central and South America. Its skin is red-to-purple in color, and has white flesh. As far as I can tell, it is nearly identical to the Japanese sweet potato in terms of appearance and taste; considering the fact that sweet potatoes were a late addition to Japan (around the 17th century), I’d guess that the differences between the two is minimal. I’ve also seen identical sweet potatoes labeled as Korean sweet potatoes here in Maryland.
Taste-wise, boniato is like a cross between a white potato and sweet potato. If you’re missing the consistency of white potatoes but react poorly to them, this is the dish for you.
Preparing boniato is easy. Because the potato is naturally creamy, you only need to add a little cream to them to get a truly decadent flavor. If you’re dairy-free, they’re still surprisingly creamy when made with only chicken broth.
Gobhi Musallam is a roasted cauliflower dish from the Uttar Pradesh region of Northern India. While the origin of the dish itself is hard to trace, the origin of cauliflower isn’t. Cauliflower is a direct descendant of wild cabbage, and a close cousin to broccoli. Although it was known in Europe during the Middle Ages, it disappeared until sometime in the 17th Century, when Italy reintroduced it to the rest of Europe. Surprisingly, the Italians probably got cauliflower from the Middle East and Asia, who had likely acquired it from Europe during the Middle Ages. I think it’s pretty cool that cauliflower disappeared from its place of origin, only to be re-introduced by another culture.
We love this dish for several reasons. First of all, it’s an easy dish to put together: parboil the cauliflower, whip up a sauce, combine the two and roast in the oven. It’s a very impressive dish to serve to guests, and slicing/serving the cauliflower is a memorable experience. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, Gobhi Musallam is absolutely delicious and an interesting way to enjoy cauliflower.
This week’s recipe is very simple, and is actually a setup for next week’s recipe. At the same time, this recipe also carries a mandate: you should be cooking with duck fat. Not only does it have an excellent nutritional profile, it is an ideal roasting fat. Potatoes in particular really shine when cooked in duck fat.
Ducks have been consumed since prehistory, but the Chinese were the first to domesticate them, over 3,000 years ago. It may surprise you but nearly all domesticated ducks, including the white Pekin duck which is the most commonly-consumed duck, are descended from Mallard ducks. The only exception is the Muscovy duck, which is a native of Central America, and has recently been gaining ground as a domesticated duck raised for food. Ducks have a thick layer of fat between their muscles and skin, to help them stay buoyant. Up until the 1900s, duck breast was more often than not served rare, something that most people nowadays (myself included) would have a hard time stomaching.
Although the common consensus is that collard greens originated in the Mediterranean, they gained their most widespread popularity in Africa (see my Sukuma Wiki recipe). It is assumed that collards made it to most of the Americas via African slaves. In Brazil, it’s a different story, as collard greens were likely introduced via Portugal, where it has been a staple veggie for hundreds of years (as evidenced by my Caldo Verde recipe). Today, collards are served often in Brazil, usually as an accompaniment to fish or beef.
Today’s recipe is a collaboration with my friend Alex Boake, who stayed at our house for a few days before heading off to Ancestral Health Symposium with us. She’s going to post an illustrated version of this recipe on her blog later this week, so bookmark her site! We’ll be knocking out a couple other illustrated recipes in the near future as well, so this is just the tip of the illustrated Paleo recipe iceberg. Update: Here is Alex’s post!
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.
With spring upon us, I’ve been looking to expand my grilling options. The idea of cooking and eating a cactus might sound intimidating, but the reality is much simpler than you’d think. All you have to do is scrape off their thorns, and grill them – it’s that easy.
Nopales are the paddles of oputina (prickly pear) cactus, commonly found in Mexico. They are a common vegetable in Mexico, and taste a little like green beans, but slightly more acidic. They are a great addition to grilled meat dishes, or tasty just on their own. They are also often sliced/diced and served with eggs or in salads.
I must be reverting to some sort of baby food phase, because lately I’ve been really into puréed veggies. I think it’s the idea of eating familiar foods in unfamiliar ways. Either way you look at it, this cauliflower purée recipe isn’t the most innovative recipe I’ve created, but it serves an excellent purpose as an easy and mild-tasting accompaniment to robust dishes (which you’ll see in a couple upcoming recipes!).
It’s unsurprising that cauliflower is a close relative to broccoli, but until recently I wasn’t aware that it is from the same family (Brassica oleracea) as cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, and collard greens. It was first brought to mainstream attention by some French cookbooks in the 17th century, although the plant itself originally came from Genoa, Italy.