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.
Santa Maria Tri-Tip Steak is a specialty of Santa Maria, California, which lies about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Tri-tip is taken from the bottom sirloin of the cow, and is often cut into steaks and sold as “sirloin steak” (a tougher version of the prized “top sirloin steak”). When sold whole, as is used in this recipe, it can weigh up to 4 pounds. This lean, moderately tough, and economical cut of meat fares best when cooked only to medium-rare or medium.
The key to making a good Santa Maria Tri-Tip is cooking it so that it has a crusty outside and tender, juicy inside. There are different ways to achieve this result; in Santa Maria, chefs often use a grill that can be adjusted up and down, so as to develop a crust and then pull it away from the fire to prevent burning.
My method is similar. We’re going to only heat one side of the grill, indirectly roast it until it reaches a certain temperature, then place it directly over the fire to create a tasty crust at the end. The end result is a dead simple recipe that always makes for a tasty experience.
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.
I figure it’s safe to post a pumpkin recipe now. For a while there (all of October and November) I thought I was going to drown in pumpkin-flavored products. Is it just me, or are they becoming more and more prominent every year? Regardless, pumpkin soup is a hearty, warming way to enjoy the cold months of fall and winter, and I didn’t want to let spring hit me before sharing this recipe.
Like many foods we enjoy today, pumpkins are a product of the New World, and entered Europe in the 15th century. Most foods introduced during that time took a while to gain momentum in Europe – sometimes hundreds of years – but not the pumpkin. Because they resembled gourds and squashes common in the Old World, pumpkins were readily adopted and prized for their robust flavor and easy cultivation. It was quickly made into various soups, and mixed with honey and spices as early as the 17th century – a precursor to pumpkin pie.
For today’s recipe I wanted to keep pumpkin closer to its place of origin – North America – so I decided to focus on a Mexican soup commonly referred to as Sopa de Calabaza, often flavored with cumin and chorizo sausage. I really like the cyclical nature of this dish. Cumin was first cultivated in India and introduced to the Americas by the Portuguese and Spanish. Chorizo is the best of both worlds: Old World sausage flavored with paprika made by New World peppers, and later re-introduced to the Americas. So this dish is the product of the unique culinary marriage of these two continents and cultures.
While pre-roasting a whole pumpkin inevitably lends more depth of flavor, using canned pumpkin puree drastically cuts down on your cooking time and effectively turns this dish into a 30-minute meal. Continue reading
Before I forget, let me start off by saying thank you for your support and continued readership. In October of 2011, I made a decision to follow a strict posting schedule – one post a week at the least, two posts a week at the most – to make sure that I had enough recipes to keep this little website chugging along at a steady pace. I’m happy to say that I haven’t missed a week since, and The Domestic Man has grown to be something far beyond my expectations; to give you an idea, my average daily traffic is now far higher than the traffic for the entire month of October 2011. This is all thanks to you and your encouragement along the way.
To be honest, I had expected 2013 to be a relatively quiet year for me. I started secretly writing and shooting for my debut cookbook in late 2012, and my goal was to basically just keep the website afloat while I focused on writing the book. Turns out that everyone else had other plans! Let’s look through some of this year’s surprises.
My path to a Paleo-style way of eating wasn’t perfectly straightforward. After years of health issues, in late 2010 I came upon an article describing a recently-published book called The Paleo Solution, written by a guy who obviously knows a thing or two about prehistory since his last name is Wolf. The book promised to demonstrate positive results for a number of health issues, including autoimmune diseases. Feeling like I was at a dead end with my own issues with autoimmunity, I bought the book at the very first opportunity, devoured it, and switched my diet within days.
While I’m very grateful to Robb Wolf and his Paleo Solution, it only gave me a glimpse of the journey I would need to take in order to restore my health. Much of the eating advice in the book was based on low-carb principles, which is understandable since the book is geared towards those who are looking to lose weight. But after losing an initial 30 pounds (likely due to discontinuing steroid therapy at that same time), I struggled with maintaining my weight, and had consistently low energy. It wasn’t until I reintroduced white rice and potatoes, foods promoted by The Perfect Health Diet, that I really started to feel like I had figured out an ideal way of eating for me (and one that I’ve maintained since). Dairy was also something I had to figure out on my own, as I found that I better tolerated certain types of dairy (mainly heavy cream, butter, and fermented products), and that my tolerance improved as my health improved. Dairy just didn’t warrant a blanket “avoid” stamp since individual tolerance was a better determining factor.
So over the years, I have had a hard time answering when people asked me where to start reading if they wanted to learn about the Paleo diet. The Paleo Solution is fairly inflexible, and was quickly becoming outdated as new voices entered the scene and brought new ideas with them. The Perfect Health Diet is a superior work, and provides an excellent template for sustained eating, but its lifelong approach to diet can be intimidating to those who aren’t ready for such a long commitment right out of the gate.
And in steps Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser.
NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
I love collard greens. They may be my favorite green food – well, second to mint chocolate chip ice cream, at least. They’ve been in use for at least 2,000 years; the ancient Greeks cultivated them along with kale.
I typically simmer my collard greens with some sort of smoked pork (usually bacon or smoked ham hocks), chicken broth, and apple cider vinegar, and it’s always delicious, although it can get a little boring. So a while back I consulted my buddy, the internet, to find another use for collard greens. During my search, I kept coming across the word Sukuma Wiki, the Swahili name for collard greens. Sukuma Wiki literally translates to “push/stretch the week” – collard greens are available year-round in East Africa, and are used to stretch meals out to last all week.
In the culinary world, Sukuma Wiki is a common name for a Kenyan dish of braised collard greens, usually prepared with ground meat, tomatoes, and onions. Turns out that this dish is dead easy to make, both in terms of time/preparation and ingredients. I was able to whip it up using stuff already in my pantry, and it’s always nice to find another use for ground beef. But the best part about this dish is its taste: it’s absolutely delicious, and has just a hint of exoticness to make it remarkable. One thing that sets this dish apart is that the collard greens are simply wilted down, and so they retain a slightly crunchy texture that really complements the ground beef.
Who doesn’t love spinach? Besides kids, I mean. Actually, funny story, kids are more apt to eat vegetables if they watch Popeye. Personally, I despised it growing up, but now I love spinach in all forms – raw, blanched, or simmered (as in this recipe); it has a mild and unique taste with each preparation.
This recipe is modeled after the German dish Rahmspinat (“creamed spinach”), and it mostly true to the original except for the fact that this particular recipe is dairy-free. So I guess the more appropriate term for this dish would be Spinat. If you’d like to prepare it more true to the original dish, I’ve added instructions below!
A few weeks back I did a guest recipe for Nom Nom Paleo, and I thought I’d share it here on my site for posterity’s sake.
Langostinos (Pleuroncodes Monodon, also called “squat lobsters”) are small, lobster-like crustaceans most often fished off the coast of Chile. They are found in abundance worldwide, but sadly, they are rarely caught for human consumption; instead, they’re used as feed in fisheries, mostly because they carry a certain pigment that helps color farm-raised salmon and trout. They have a sweet, shrimpy tasty to them and can be found for relatively cheap – so if you can get your hands on them, definitely give them a try.
This recipe in particular is modeled after a traditional Mexican soup, Caldo de Camarón, which is typically used with shrimp. If you don’t have any langostinos on hand, shrimp can be used with this recipe.
We eat watermelon a few times a year, and usually throw the rinds into the compost pile. I figure that’s what most people do. But a while back I ran across the idea of pickling the rinds, and I was immediately hooked on the concept; I love the idea of using a quick, simple pickling process to render something that’s usually inedible into a delicious, tangy, and crunchy treat.
It might sound a little weird at first glance, but watermelon pickles have been around for a while. While in Germany and Eastern Europe they tend to pickle the red flesh of watermelon, there are a few Scandinavian recipes that focus on pickling the rinds. In the US, there are records of people making pickles of watermelon rinds dating back to the Civil War; those original recipes call for soaking the rinds in a salt brine, then boiling with sugar, vinegar, cloves, and cinnamon until clear and soft, which turns it into something resembling a sweet relish. I went with a Scandinavian approach, but left a little of the flesh on the rind in order to add a little natural sweetness to the pickle and to aid in the fermentation process (bacteria likes sugar!).