Other Shellfish

In June of 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte led the French army to a decisive victory against the Austrian army in Marengo (present-day Italy), an important battle during the French Revolutionary Wars. Legend has it that the French supply carts failed to catch up to their soldiers, and so Napoleon’s chef had to forage for ingredients in the local village. Returning with a chicken, olives, and some crawfish, the chef threw them together into the dish now known as Chicken Marengo, and served it with grilled bread topped with a fried egg. Napoleon, who was known to have bad digestion due to wolfing down his meals, enjoyed the dish so much that he requested it after every subsequent battle.

History has its fair share of eccentric leaders. Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584) had three of his eight(!) wives banished to spend their remaining days in an abbey, and legend has it he had an elephant executed when it refused to bow before him. Grigori Rasputin (1869-1916) supposedly had awful table manners and an insatiable sweet tooth. US Presidents have been fairly interesting too, from Chester A. Arthur, who wore several changes of pants each day, to James A. Garfield, who could write with both hands at the same time, in different languages (Latin and Greek). Ulysses S. Grant smoked over 20 cigars a day (but later succumbed to throat cancer). FDR supposedly enjoyed driving around in Al Capone’s armored car, which had been seized by the US Treasury Dept when Capone was imprisoned for tax evasion. Also, two US Presidents (Carter and Reagan) have claimed to witness UFOs.

Today, Chicken Marengo is only rarely made with crawfish – shrimp are a fair substitute – but given that crawfish season just started here in the Florida panhandle, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try the real deal. Instructions for both shrimp and crawfish are provided below!

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Paella is one of my favorite dishes to prepare at home – like fried rice or risotto, it’s an excellent way to clean out the vegetable bin. Moreover, it’s one of my favorite examples how the judicious use of white rice can in fact be very health-promoting; while rice gets a bum rap for being fairly devoid of nutrients, I think it’s just fine in the context of the broth, seafood, and vegetables used in this recipe.

This dish was a standout recipe in my first cookbook, The Ancestral Table, and here’s what I wrote about it:

Paella is a dish from Valencia, along Spain’s eastern coast. Rice was a product of Moorish influence and was a staple in Spain by the 15th century. Paella developed over the years as people began to add combinations of meats and vegetables. While water vole was one of the first meats used in paella, today’s Valencian paella includes rabbit, chicken, snails, and beans; seafood paella is equally popular and is considered a traditional dish along the Valencian coast.

Using an appropriate type of rice is important, as many varieties were specially bred to absorb liquid without losing texture. Calasparra and bomba rices are preferred and are available from gourmet food suppliers and online. Arborio, a common risotto rice, fares pretty well. In a pinch, plain calrose rice will get the job done. Paella is best made over an open flame and is traditionally prepared outdoors.

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About this time last year, I posted a Blue Crab and Chipotle Tabasco Bisque that quickly because one of my most-cooked soups (and this is coming from a guy who cooks a lot of soup). I’ve been playing around with the formula a bit, to the point where I felt it was appropriate to post another one using shellfish (and that Shellfish Stock recipe from last week).

Quick reminder – I am giving away eight $25 Costco gift cards, and the giveaway ends on Thursday, so jump on it if you haven’t already.

And now for the big news: I found out that my cookbook, Paleo Takeout, made it onto the New York Times best seller list for July! How cool is that? Now I need to go through all of my social media profiles and add my new title to everything. I’m super excited and tremendously thankful for the support I’ve received in getting this book off the ground and into people’s hands. And to think, less than six months ago I planned on releasing it as an eBook because I didn’t think it would have a large audience – thank you for your readership and enthusiasm, which convinced me to release it as a hard copy book! Okay, enough gushing, let’s make some food.

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I can’t believe that in five years of blogging, this recipe hasn’t been posted on The Domestic Man. There’s no excuse, it was very shellfish of me (sorry, I had to). To be fair, I did post a lobster stock recipe last year, so there’s that.

The idea for writing a shellfish stock recipe came from the fact that over the last couple months I’ve basically eaten my weight in crawfish; since we now live so close to Louisiana, it’s really cheap when in season, and super fresh. Heck, there was even a crawfish festival in the town we live in a while back. But I was always bothered by the fact that everyone throws their crawfish shells away afterwards, so I started bringing them home to make stock. Instructions on how to make stock with other shellfish, like crab and shrimp, are also provided below.

One of my favorite aspects of making shellfish stock, or any stock in general, is that it presents an opportunity to cook with some items that often end up in the garbage (or compost bin). For example, I prefer using parsley stems in my stocks because it frees up the leaves for other recipes, and it’s one of the better ways to use up celery “hearts” (the center part), since they’re mostly leaves.

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Phew! Okay, since last checking in, I’ve completed all of my photos for my upcoming book, Paleo Take Out, and the manuscript is with the editor. I’m happy to announce that the book will feature over 150 recipes! That’s a far cry from the 45-60 recipes I started with last year, and I’m really excited to get this book in your hands. Paleo Take Out will be out in all bookstores starting in June, and I’ll be sure to share more info as I put the finishing touches on it.

Starting today, I’m bundling a preview copy of Paleo Take Out with every purchase of The Safe Starch Cookbook. The preview book features 10 recipes from Paleo Take Out plus three that didn’t make the cut (initially I planned on having 5-10 not make the cut, but I found a way to squeeze them into the book!). One of those recipes also happens to be today’s recipe, which I think you’ll enjoy – Korean Oyster Soup.

Gulguk (굴국) is a quick and tasty soup, often considered a cure for hangovers. It’s sometimes served with cooked white rice dropped in at the end, at which point it’s called Gulgukbap (굴국밥). But if you’re not a rice eater, don’t worry – it’s just as tasty without the rice, or with some spiraled vegetable or kelp noodles thrown in at the end.

One last note – that Virtual Ultimate Health Summit I mentioned last week is now live through March 13th. I recorded my segment last week and had a lot of fun with it; we discussed food, history, and culture, and I think you folks will really enjoy my talk. Plus there are 17 other panelists involved, too! Okay, soup time.

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As you probably read in my post from the other day, I’m knee-deep in recipe development and writing, in order to get my sophomore cookbook ready for release – which is a lot of fun, but leaves me with little time to keep up with blog recipes. So, I figured out a solution that’s good for both of us: I’ll just post a recipe from The Ancestral Table! I’ve been meaning to share more of these recipes anyway, and this one is a special favorite in our house. The wine sauce is the highlight of the dish, and it is absolutely, ridiculously, heartbreakingly delicious. One of these days I’ll figure out a way to batch-cook and sell this sauce for millions of dollars, but for now, here’s a bit more about the dish, stolen directly from the book (I can do that!):

While clams, wine, and butter are all delicious, the combination of the three is truly divine. This dish, developed in the Provençal region of France, is the quintessential marriage of these rich, decadent flavors. It is equally tasty when prepared with mussels.

Though wild and sustainably caught seafood is generally ideal, it’s better to buy farm-raised clams and mussels. They are raised on ropes suspended above the sea floor, which makes them less gritty than wild clams and mussels dredged from the ocean floor. Dredging up wild clams and mussels can also damage the ocean’s ecosystem.

Even though I’m mostly MIA for a bit, there are still ways to get your Russ Crandall fix (is there such a thing?), should you need it. Next week, I’ll be participating in the Virtual Ultimate Health Summit, which focuses on restoring your health through lessons on diet, sleep, energy, hormones, body image, confidence and stress. I am one of 16 panelists, and I’ll be talking about how history, food culture, and health can combine to find that perfect balance of tasty food and healthy diet, with an emphasis on safe starches (no surprise there, right?). It’s free to enroll, and runs for two weeks, so check it out!

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NFL team loyalty is a crazy thing. Growing up in Washington state, we were diehard Seahawks fans; after all, who else can you root for all the way up in the Pacific Northwest? Moving away and living in Hawaii for seven years really messed me up, since football games come on so early – over the years, the whole sport dropped off my radar. That all changed six years ago when our family moved to Baltimore, the proud home of the Ravens, and I was immediately drawn to this tough, talented, and admittedly dirty team. Today, I’m torn between who to support – Seattle or Baltimore – but luckily they rarely play each other so it isn’t that big of a deal.

It’s been hard for me to follow games closely after canceling our TV service a couple years ago, but since our family is moving once again this fall (to Pensacola, Florida this time), I can’t help but feel a little sentimental knowing this is our last season in the heart of Ravens madness. The folks behind Tabasco recently asked me to come up with a dish that used ingredients that were indicative of my local NFL team, and something with blue crab immediately came to mind. Since crab cakes are already in my cookbook, I went with my next favorite crab dish – bisque.

A bisque is a cream-based soup of French origin, typically made with shellfish. Seafood bisques are very popular in Maryland, and can be found in just about every diner menu (and we have a lot of diners). I like the type of bisque you find in Maryland – simple, honest flavors – so I whipped up a basic recipe for the home chef, adding a little Chipotle Tabasco in for some kick.

My next challenge: picking a Florida NFL team to follow.

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Cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew first developed in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Originally made by Italian fisherman who had settled in the region, it was crafted directly on fishing boats using rudimentary cooking tools before making its way into local restaurants and beyond. Much like the French Bouillabaisse or the Eastern European Brudet, Cioppino is made with a variety of seafood, depending on whatever is on hand. Also, apparently I’m obsessed with tomato-based seafood stews, because this is my third such recipe in the past year.

The origin of this dish’s name is the subject of some debate. The most likely answer is that it comes from the word ciuppin, which means “chopped” in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa, Italy’s largest seaport, from where many immigrants in the San Francisco area originated. The idea is that fishermen chopped up a bunch of fish for the stew. There’s also a seafood stew from Genoa called Ciuppin, so there’s that, too. But a more compelling origin is that the name comes from Italian-Americans asking their fellow fishermen to “chip in” some seafood for a communal feast, and their broken English formed the word we know today as Cioppino.

No matter its etymology, this is a quick and versatile dish to make for any weeknight or weekend, allowing you to maximize your flavors based on whatever seafood is on sale at your local market. For us, king crab was (somewhat) affordable the other day, so that’s what we used to spice up our dinner. Just stick with the underlying foundation of the recipe and you can’t go wrong.

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Many years ago, pasta cooked with seafood was my solution when I wanted something that tasted great without spending much time in the kitchen. Pasta cooks quickly and is delicious; seafood cooks even more quickly and is even more delicious. It’s almost like cheating in the way that you can have a memorable meal in a manner of minutes.

While pasta is rarely on our dinner table these days, we still miss the convenience of a quick Italian-style dinner. So from time to time I’ll whip something up with zucchini noodles or rice-based pasta. When we’re looking for a special treat, we’ll use Cappello’s grain-free fettuccine, which is made using just five ingredients: almond flour, cage-free eggs, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Although this recipe in particular was made with Cappello’s pasta, directions for all three pasta types are provided below.

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Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal (Southeast France) stew, typically made with fish and shellfish. Although it was originally made with rockfish, today it’s also made with all sorts of different seafood. For this recipe in particular, I decided to go with lobster and mussels; I like the idea of pairing two foods that are at opposite ends of the price spectrum (lobster = rare & elegant, mussels = common & unglamorous). This dish is paired with my lobster stock recipe, so be sure to check that out since you’ll need some stock. Putting this dish together – stock and all – is actually a fairly quick experience: in about 90 minutes you’ll have a recipe that will have your dinner guests swooning.

Don’t let the assumed costs of buying lobster deter you. If available in your area, live lobsters are surprising affordable when compared to the going rate at a seafood restaurant. And really, sometimes you can’t put a price tag on eating a rich, classic meal in the comfort of your own home.

Also, don’t forget that I’m hosting a giveaway this week; click here for a chance to win two live 1.5 lb lobsters from lobster.com ($65 value)! The giveaway is limited to continental US residents and ends midnight, Saturday, Feb 8th, 2014. Good luck!

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