Vegetables

As summer’s heat comes full swing, I’ve been less apt to spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Sometimes a cold meal like my recent Ahi Poke or Gazpacho creations come to mind, but other times I still want something hot – so long as it doesn’t require heating up the whole kitchen. I think this Thai Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry is a perfect solution, as it only takes a few minutes on the burner, and since it’s mostly vegetables, it also comes off more as a light meal than a big feast. 

One of my favorite finds during my April trip to Tabasco was their Garlic Pepper sauce. It carries the same flavor as their original sauce, but with an added garlic accent that is complimentary without being distracting. It seemed like an excellent fit for this Stir-Fry, and I was right!

This Thai version of Sweet and Sour differs a bit from the sticky/sweet Chinese-American version we’re all more accustomed to. The main difference is that it’s mostly vegetables, with shrimp an optional add-in. It’s also more on the sour side than sweet, which fares really well with the fresh cucumbers found in the final product.

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Yep, it’s getting to be about that time of the year again. You know, when it’s just too dang hot outside to fire up the oven or stovetop. A popular food blogger trend is to eventually post a Gazpacho recipe, so I figured it’s about time for me to share my own take on the dish. This is what I would consider a classic take on Gazpacho, although since I’m still coming down from my incredible visit to the Tabasco headquarters in April (see here), I couldn’t resist spicing this soup up with some of their original pepper sauce.

Gazpacho is an ancient cold soup first developed in Andalusia, the southern region of Spain. It is believed to have been introduced first by Arabic culture as a soup made from leftover bread, and possibly influenced by the Romans with the soup’s telltale inclusion of vinegar. Tomatoes, now an integral part of modern Gazpachos, came much later, once Columbus returned from the Americas bearing a weird, red ornamental fruit that was eventually used in culinary circles (after everyone got over their belief that tomatoes were poisonous).

In my opinion, the key to a good Gazpacho is to find a marriage of contrasting flavors, namely fresh cucumbers, tart tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, and biting onion. So that’s what we’re going to use as our base, and then complement the vegetables with garlic for immediacy, lime juice for brightness, olive oil for body, vinegar for tanginess, Tabasco for heat, and a pinch of basil for that last bit of spark to round things out.

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Boerenkool Stamppot is a Dutch dish of mashed potatoes (“stomped pot”) mixed with kale. There are sometimes other vegetables mixed into Stamppot, like sauerkraut or endive, but as the Dutch say, “Boerenkool is het nieuwe zwart” (Kale is the new black). Note: they probably don’t actually say that! Either way, it’s worth it to incorporate the most nutrient dense vegetable on the planet into the dish.

Stamppot is typically served with a mild smoked sausage called rookworst, either sliced and mixed into the dish like in my pictures, or served on top of the vegetables. It’s all going to get mixed up in your stomach anyway, so feel free to arrange it as you please.

Here’s something really exciting about the photo you see above – I live-broadcasted my photography session! I started using the Periscope app (available on iOS and Android), which lets you livestream just about anything you want, and people can re-watch the broadcast for the next 24 hours. Think of it like a spontaneous YouTube. I think I’ll be using it on the weekends while photographing or cooking my recipes for the blog; it’s a neat way to interact with you folks (you can send chat messages to me while I’m working). Join me if you’re interested – my username is, predictably, thedomesticman.

Oh! And some more cool news. My presentation from Paleo f(x) 2014 was officially released on YouTube. Honestly, I had forgotten all about it so it was a neat surprise to see it appear online yesterday. Click here to watch me talk about six ways to improve the quality of Paleo-minded cooking; the talk is called “Our Great-Grandparents Were Totally Paleo: Six Suggestions for Improving Paleo Cuisine by Following Traditional and Gourmet Culinary Practices” (what a mouthful!). I’ve also embedded it at the bottom of this post.

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I was recently approached by Sharp to try out their new convection microwave as part of a challenge to rethink the way we cook with microwaves. Initially, I kept thinking about those disastrous microwave cookbooks from the 1980s and 1990s (this one might be the best example of all time), but after a bit of reading I decided to take them up on the offer. After all, if the telephone can radically change over the course of 10 years, and the Instant Pot can change how we look at pressure cookers, shouldn’t a microwave make some leaps and bounds as well?

I must have been living under a rock, because apparently microwaves can do all sorts of cool things today, and this model is no exception. At its core, this device serves three functions: 1) a standard microwave, 2) a convection oven, and 3) a roaster (with heating elements both on the bottom and top of the microwave). And because the microwave is much smaller than a traditional oven, it preheats much more quickly (it took me five and half minutes to pre-heat it to 400F). I envision this microwave to be an ideal solution for those without the space for a typical oven or as a secondary oven when you have lots of items to bake at once (Thanksgiving comes to mind).

To test the microwave, I decided to try it out on a very standard, traditional recipe: roasted brussels sprouts (with bacon, of course). I first baked the bacon at a convection setting, then roasted the brussels sprouts in the rendered bacon fat using the roaster setting. It worked like a charm – the food cooked evenly and easily, with a texture which is about the opposite of what you’d expect from a microwave (crispy and browned). I also provided conventional (oven) instructions for this recipe below.

The microwave also combines Sharp’s cooking functions to allow you to try different ways of heating food. For example, I reheated the leftover brussels sprouts with a combination of 50% microwave power and 50% roaster (top heating element) and they came out both hot and crispy – not your typical microwave re-heating experience.

I’ll be posting a couple more recipes using this microwave over the course of the next month, so let me know in the comments if you have any questions or anything you’d like me to address in a future recipe.

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You’ve heard of Samosas, right? They’re those triangle-shaped savory pastries served in Indian and Central Asian restaurants. They’re a surprisingly ancient dish, first mentioned in the Middle East (under the name Sambosa) during the 10th century before eventually making their way across Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and even Southeast Asia. They’re practically everywhere today – you can even find them pretty easily in South Africa, as Indian cuisine started to influence British colonial food culture.

I loved Samosas in my pre-Paleo days, and I’ve been wanting to tackle them for a while. The problem is, well, pastry. I tend not to fiddle with baked goods and leave them up to the masters (see: Jenni Hulet’s My Paleo Patisserie). So after a bit of brainstorming, I settled on the idea of Samosa-flavored mashed potatoes. I like this idea because, heck, most people are probably eating mashed potatoes anyway, so why not kick them up a notch in terms of flavor and vegetable count.

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So here we are, five days after Christmas, and you’re probably wondering what to do with the leftover holiday ham in your fridge. After all, there are only so many ham soups you can make before they get tiring (and I’m a big fan of ham soups). As I was thinking about everyone’s ham problem yesterday, I put together this ham and kale risotto for lunch. I thought you folks would enjoy it as well.

Risotto is the most popular way to prepare rice in Italy, and has been around since the 1500s. The rice varieties used in risotto (typically Carnaroli, Arborio, or Vialone Nano) are high in starch and impart a creamy texture to the dish. There’s a certain technique to making risotto: you create a soffrito using fat and onion, toast the rice and coat it in the fat, pour in and evaporate wine, ladle in hot broth until cooked through, then finish with butter and/or cheese.

The risotto-cooking process requires almost constant stirring in order to loosen up the starch and to keep the rice from sticking to the pan, so expect to spend a lot of time in front of your stove when making this dish (I usually grab a book or watch some Netflix on my phone). As an added bonus, your arm will get a bit of a workout along the way.

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I love the idea of a good salad. They are simple to put together, and can be immensely satisfying under the right conditions. For me, a salad should be about varying tastes and textures, while still fairly satiating; after all, nothing’s worse than sitting down to 15 minutes of chewing and not feeling satisfied. In terms of satiety, duck breast is pretty high up there – it only takes a little to feel full, especially compared to something leaner like chicken breasts.

So I threw together this duck breast salad, paired with the opposing tastes of apple and bacon. Not too flashy, but it makes an excellent midday meal. There is a lot of good advice out there on how to properly cook a duck breast, but I really like my method: crisp it skin-side down in a skillet, then flip and transfer to an oven until it’s ready. It’s an easy process, assuming you have an oven-proof skillet. If you don’t, no big deal – simply leave a baking sheet in the oven as it heats, and transfer the breasts to the hot sheet instead.

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are often considered the most comforting of dishes, so much so that every Eastern European country wants to stake claim on owning the original recipe. While there is no definitive origin story, the prevailing story is this: members of the Russian aristocracy, visiting France in the mid-1700s, became enamored with their dishes of stuffed and roasted pigeons. Upon returning home, they ordered the dish to be recreated, and the closest they could come were the stuffed cabbage rolls we know and love today. This is evidenced by the similarity between the Russian words for stuffed cabbage rolls (Golubtsy) and pigeons (Goluby).

In recent years, a new phenomenon has sprouted up: Lazy Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. Regular cabbage rolls require you to par-boil the cabbage leaves and roll each wrap before roasting or simmering everything; the whole process can take hours. Instead, home chefs have been simply chopping up the cabbage and adding it to the filling, cooking everything at once in about 1/4 of the time. This is the variation we’re going to tackle today.

Be sure to check out the video after the recipe; now that we’ve relocated to a house with a larger kitchen, I filmed a short cooking demonstration of the dish. I’m still working out some production kinks, but if you like the video I’ll keep cracking at it!

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Earlier this year I wrote a guest article for Paleo Magazine, emphasizing the importance of eating vegetables. Americans tend to give vegetables a lower priority than the rest of the world; when comparing the most economically developed areas of the United States (those with the most money to spend on food) to similarly developed regions in Europe and the Western Pacific, we only eat about 75% as many vegetables as the other regions. Comparing the lesser economically developed areas of the United States to their global counterparts is much worse: there, we eat only around 35% as many vegetables.

Vegetables are an important factor in overall health. While not as nutrient-heavy as organ meats, fish, seafood, and naturally raised ruminants, they are often superior to pork, poultry, and fruit in terms of nutrient density. Fermented vegetables, a food that has been consumed for thousands of winters, also provide unique and essential forms of probiotic bacteria and increase the bioavailability (ability for us to absorb their nutrients) of vegetables.

Aloo Gobi Matar is Punjabi dish, and an excellent example of the potential tastiness and diversity to be found in a vegetable dish. Using a small amount of many vegetables will give your dishes deeper flavors and will make you less likely to tire of certain foods. If I ate just tomatoes every day, I’d get sick of them; adding a tomato or two to several dishes in a row wouldn’t have the same effect.

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You know, for being a guy who’s so pro-rice in the Paleo community, I have relatively few rice recipes out there. Sure, there are a bunch in my cookbook (the Dirty Rice recipe is my favorite), but considering the fact that we eat rice several times a week it should be better represented. So here’s a recipe.

Jollof Rice is a dish originally prepared by the Wolof people of Senegal and The Gambia, which has expanded to the rest of West Africa since. It is characterized by its addition of tomatoes and onions, and is put together in one pot – its other name, Benachin, means “one pot” in the Wolof language.

Wondering how rice fits into a Paleo-style diet? Read a bit about my take on it in this recipe from earlier this year.

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