cooking

Confession time: a couple weeks ago, when a reader requested that I make this dish, I had to look it up because I had never heard of it. Somehow, I had inadvertently avoided Chicken Piccata my whole life. Although truth be told, I rarely visit Italian restaurants any longer since bread, pasta, and pizza all contain that pesky (but delicious) protein, gluten. And after that, what’s left at your typical Italian-American restaurant – salad? Regardless, I did a bit of research on the dish, and here we are.

The origin of this dish isn’t confirmed, but most believe it to be of American design, most likely by Italian-American immigrants during the 1930s. In Italy, Piccatas today are commonly made with veal, but here in the US, chicken prevails. The cutlets are breaded and pan-fried, and then a sauce is made with the drippings. It’s a simple technique made remarkable by its combination of flavors – wine, broth, lemon juice, and capers.

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In my new office here in Pensacola Florida, we have an interesting combination of Navy families. Two of my co-workers have spouses they met while stationed in England, and another met his wife while serving in Canada. I’ll often ask them what new dishes they’d like for me to bring into work, as they typically (and unknowingly) are my tasting judges. The question inevitably gets passed to their spouses, and all too often I hear complaints that there are “no good curries” to be found in our town. This Chicken Korma recipe is the result of those conversations.

“Korma” comes from the Urdu word ḳormā, which means to braise. This dish, as with other braised dishes like Rogan Josh, is characteristic of Moghul cuisine, which was first introduced to Northern India by the Mughal Empire in the 16th Century; the Mughal were a predominantly Muslim people of Turko-Mongol descent (some claimed to be direct descendents of Genghis Kahn).

There is a lot of variation to kormas, but the underlying theme includes a slow braise in a rich, mildly-spicy curry sauce, often flavored with yogurt or heavy cream. For this recipe in particular, I kept it relatively dairy-free (what’s a recipe without butter or ghee?) and used a bit of lemon juice to impart the tanginess you’d expect from using yogurt.

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Last month I had the opportunity to visit Avery Island, Louisiana, the home of Tabasco. Each year the company selects a group of bloggers to visit their island (which is actually a salt dome surrounded by bayou). In turn, the bloggers are asked to write about their experience and create some recipes using Tabasco sauces. Since I was probably going to make some recipes using Tabasco this year anyway, it was an easy decision to join the event.

I’ve always valued Tabasco sauces for their short ingredients list (the original red pepper sauce contains just three ingredients – peppers, vinegar, and salt), and their ability to add a complex flavor to any dish; I feel that acidity is a tragically underutilized dynamic in most kitchens, and Tabasco has acidity in spades. But until this trip I never realized how much care Tabasco puts into each bottle, which you’ll see in my pictures below the recipe. But first, the food.

It’s coming into flounder season here in Florida, and it is easy to find in my area right now. The fish are caught using a spear (called a “gig”), typically at night, much in the same way that frogs are traditionally caught. A favorite preparation for flounder is to simply pan-fry them in Cajun seasoning (often used interchangeably with the term “blackening seasoning”); since I was already making the seasoning from scratch, I figured this is also an opportunity to incorporate it into one of my other favorite dishes from this area, Étouffée.

Étouffée translates to “smothered” from French, which indicates that the main ingredient (often crawfish, but in this case, shrimp) is smothered in a thick sauce of broth and vegetables. Might as well add some bacon to it for good measure, because bacon.

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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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Chile Colorado (sometimes spelled Chili Colorado) is a Mexican dish featuring a red sauce and tender pieces of beef.

There is a lot of excessive naming in the world of chile peppers. For example, the primary chile used in this dish, the New Mexico chile, is often called a Chile Colorado in Mexico; it’s not due to a poor grasp of American geography, but because the names once denoted their place of origin. Similarly, the Anaheim chile, which is a milder version of the New Mexico chile, is so named. The Spanish word Colorado also can mean “red”, so who knows. Granted, each of these peppers have subtle differences in flavor, but it all makes for a confusing shopping experience.

To give the sauce its best flavor, I found that blending a fresh jalapeño into the sauce adds a tangy dynamic. If possible, use a ripe red jalapeño, also known as a Fresno chile (see! confusion!) instead of a green one, as the former will have an earthier taste; but it’s not a deal breaker.

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The NY strip loin, sometimes called loin roast or top loin, is a cut taken from the top of the cow’s short loin. The short loin is located near the spine, past the ribs but before the tenderloin and round. This is a crowded area of the cow in terms of butchery, as the porterhouse and tenderloin also come from this section. In fact, this strip loin is basically an uncut series of NY strip steaks. Confused yet? Don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to break down a cow in order to cook up this delicious specimen.

We’re going to roast this loin in a method similar to my most popular post, this Perfect Eye of Round. We’ll blast the roast at 500F to create a nice crust, then reduce heat to 250F until it’s medium-rare.

Not one to leave a job half done, I also roasted some veggies with the strip loin. In duck fat. Naturally. To quote one of my favorite Navy war-era posters, “We Can Do No Otherwise.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage

So, I’m apparently way behind on my blog posts, since I’m sharing a corned beef recipe a month after St. Patrick’s Day! Truth be told, I’ve been so busy traveling and working on Paleo Takeout that I didn’t have a chance to make this holiday meal until recently, but it turned out so well that I wanted to share it with you folks immediately. Part of why it worked like a charm is because of my handy Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker, which cut the cooking time of this dish down to just over 90 minutes.

The corned beef I used for this dish was this uncured corned beef brisket from US Wellness Meats. Because it is traditionally preserved (without the use of sodium nitrite), it doesn’t have the pink color that we’re accustomed to when we think of modern corned beef. But fear not – it tastes just as good as what you’d expect.

The term “corned beef”, as you have probably guessed, has nothing to do with corn. A logical conclusion would be that it is seasoned with peppercorns, but that’s not the case, either. The secret is that in medieval times, “corn” was a description of salt when in a large-grain form. So really, it just meant salted beef, which is a process that has been around for thousands of years. The specific term “corned beef” is traced as far back as the 11th century in Ireland (600 years after St. Patrick was around, by the way). The concept of eating corned beef and cabbage (sometimes referred to as New England Boiled Dinner) on St. Patrick’s Day is a mostly American concept; a more appropriate Irish dish to enjoy on St. Patrick’s Day would be Colcannon.

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Ceviche is a popular seafood dish in Central and South America made from raw seafood (usually fish or shrimp) marinated in citrus juices. Today, it is most associated with Peru, who even has a holiday to celebrate the dish (June 28, if you’re interested). Spaniards arriving in the Americas found that the pre-Inca peoples of Mocha had a similar dish, which used the fermented juices of the banana passionfruit. There is archeological evidence of ceviche’s consumption as far back as 2,000 years ago.

Unlike Peruvian ceviche, the Mexican variation often includes tomatoes, jalapeños, and green olives. That’s the variation we’re going to make today.

When choosing a fish, it’s best to use a white ocean fish like sea bass, grouper, halibut, or flounder. Keep the fish as cold as possible while preparing it, and be sure to remove the blood line (the dark line down the center of some fish) to keep the dish from tasting too “fishy”. I also prefer to combine the ingredients near the end; red onions steeped in lime juice will color the dish prematurely.

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Avgolemeno is a Mediterranean sauce and soup, most commonly associated with Greece. As a sauce, it’s often served with Dolma or used as a vegetable dip. But if you ask me, it really shines the most as a mild and comforting soup, and that’s why I’m sharing this recipe with you today. It features egg yolks and lemon juice which enrich and enliven the soup, and some fresh dill brings it all together to give it a distinct and just slightly exotic flavor.

I’m a big fan of taking my time when making recipes. After all, cooking is one of my main sources of relaxation (second only to reading cheesy sci-fi). But I realize that’s not always the case for folks, so I’m trying something new today; below you’ll find a “short version” of the recipe that can be made in 20 minutes, as well as the traditional 2-hour version. Let me know what you think. If you like it, I’ll try to incorporate more variety into my recipe posts (kind of like how I’ve been adding pressure-cooker versions to some recipes).

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First of all, great news: Paleo Takeout is now available for pre-order! Alright, back to the food.

Puchero is a popular stew in many Spanish-speaking countries (the word puchero means “stewpot” in Spanish). There are many variations to this dish, but I was especially drawn to the version that comes from the Río de la Plata region, where Argentina and Uruguay share a border. One dish from this area in particular is called Puchero Criollo, indicating it is of Creole origin. That led me to read up a bit on Creole history, and that settled it – this was the dish I wanted to share with you folks.

The term “Creole” generally refers to cultures of mixed European and native heritage. The most popular use of the term in the US is Louisiana Creole, indicating those descended from French or Spanish colonists prior to the Louisiana purchase. In terms of this stew, Puchero Criollo refers to a dish that is inspired by its Spanish heritage but uses items native to the Río de la Plata region; in this case, beef (primarily osso buco) is the common protein used in this dish since cattle are plentiful in the region. To have a little fun with the dish, I added a few staples of Louisiana Creole cuisine to the stew, like Creole seasoning and some andouille sausage.

In keeping with the tradition I started a while back, I’ve included Instant Pot electric pressure cooker instructions for this dish, to cut down on the cooking time. stovetop instructions are also included.

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