Friday, September 26, 2014

Chocolate Truffles

Truffles traditionally only appear in stores around Christmas. This is largely because truffles melt so easily they wouldn’t survive long in most places during July and August. But now you can make them yourself and enjoy them year-round!




OK folks, truffles are NOT Paleo/Primal. Not even close. Even unsweetened, chocolate is still beans.

But even Mark Sisson described chocolate as a “sensible indulgence.” So as long as you don’t OVER indulge...

Ingredients:

   1 cup heavy cream
   4 (1 ounce) squares baking chocolate
   3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
   Cocoa powder

Some notes on the ingredients:

Use the best local cream you can get your hands on. The stuff from the major dairy factories will work if that’s all you can get, but I use cream from a small local dairy (Shatto) and it is SO much better. It's actually their regular cream, but it's rich enough to qualify as heavy cream for our purposes.

Plain old Baker’s unsweetened baking chocolate is fine. Before adding, break it up, then grind it up in a blender or food processor smaller than the size of the chocolate chips. It just melts easier and more consistently.

For the chocolate chips, I find Hershey’s Special Dark are best. Having lived in San Francisco I tried Ghirardelli bittersweet chips but they just weren’t as good as HSD.

Cocoa powder - again, Hershey’s Special Dark. .
   
Instructions:

Toss all the ingredients in a double boiler and crank up the heat. Once the water is boiling and everything starts to melt, reduce heat to medium - just enough to keep it boiling. Start stirring.

Just keep stirring, just keep stirring, just keep stirring...

You really have to keep an eye on it - if it gets too hot or sits in the boiler too long, it will start oozing butterfat, which looks like oil. You want to avoid that as much as possible. It doesn’t taste bad, but it looks unappealing on the finished product. It cools to look kinda like Crisco instead of chocolate.

Once everything is melted, remove the top pan of your double boiler. How you proceed from here is up to you. You can leave it to cool in the pan and use a melon scoop to make round truffles, but I find that to be a lot of work.

I suppose there are various forms you could pour the chocolate into, but I’ve never tried them.

Here’s what I do:

Place the pan on a towel to dry it off - you don’t want to pour hot water into your truffles!

Have a piece of parchment ready on a large cookie sheet and pour the chocolate mess onto it. Note: if you don't use a large enough piece of parchment on a large enough cookie sheet, you can probably guess what will happen.

At this point, give the pot and your stirring spoon to someone you love to lick. Or you can do it yourself, but it's much nicer to share.

Use a plastic spatula to kind of even out the thickness to a little less than half an inch. Allow to cool. You can actually put it in the refrigerator at this point.

Here’s where it gets messy. From this point forward I find it easiest to use disposable latex (or similar) gloves - the CSI variety - available at most pharmacies and big chain stores that have pharmacies in them. This stuff WILL stick to your hands, but not so much to the gloves.

Once cool, dust the top of the chocolate mass with cocoa powder. Turn it over on the cookie sheet and peel away the parchment. Place the parchment on a flat surface large enough to cut up the chocolate on. I use the kitchen table, but then ours is an old one with an enamel top you can’t damage easily. Return the mass to the parchment, bottom side up, and dust again with cocoa powder.

Use a wheel-type pizza cutter to cut it into the desired size and shape. I use a stainless steel ruler which is 1" wide to both guide my cutter and make the pieces a uniform one inch square. But hey, they’re your truffles - make ‘em whatever size and shape you want! In any case, store them well dusted with cocoa powder, so they don’t all stick together. As I’m cutting them up I put them in a seal-able hard plastic container a few at a time with a sprinkle of cocoa powder each time, then I seal and shake the container vigorously. Once they’re all in the container I add a little more cocoa powder and shake it again. Store in the refrigerator.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sweet Pickle Relish

We had plenty to choose from..this is the tip of the zucchini iceberg, from our garden!  Of course we had to buy the onions and bell peppers, but we have a great farmers market nearby...
Kate advised me that I have not, in fact, posted my recipe for sweet relish. So that's something we shall have to remedy then, isn't it? (Yes, Braveheart is a favorite of both of ours. Why do you ask?)

Anyway, I originally came up with this as a means to deal with a HUGE zucchini, but it will work with just about any kind of squash and also with cucumbers. Since this uses sugar it is NOT strictly Paleo/Primal, but bear in mind - it's a condiment, not a food.

In making this over the years, for some reason I tended to make (repeatedly) some pretty simple mistakes. To publish it here, I've had to clean up the subtle little reminders I use to help prevent these mistakes.

Zucchini or Cucumber Sweet Relish

WE’RE GOING TO REMEMBER TO MAKE THE F*****G SYRUP BEFORE ADDING THE F*****G VEGETABLES THIS TIME, OKAY?!!

Step One

12 C chopped zucchini or cucumbers, unpeeled
5 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 tablespoons salt

Combine the onions and peppers. Stir in zucchini or cucumbers and salt.

Cover and allow to sit for 3 hours. Drain and rinse well.

Step Two

NOW you can make the f*****g syrup BUT DON’T ADD THE F*****G VEGETABLES UNTIL THEY’VE BEEN DRAINED FOR THREE HOURS!

2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
3 cups organic cane sugar
2 T corn or tapioca starch
2 T celery seeds
1 t mustard seed
1 t turmeric

Combine to make a syrup, boiling until sugar dissolves and mixture has thickened.

DON’T FORGET TO RINSE THE F*****G VEGETABLES BEFORE YOU ADD THEM TO THE SYRUP!!

Add vegetables to syrup and cook for 20 minutes.

Ladle into hot canning jars, adjust seals. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What to Do with that HUGE Zucchini?


You know - the one you missed picking and it got so big that you know it will be way too tough and seedy to do anything with? Of course, being Primal/Paleo, zucchini bread is right out, so what else can you do?

Well, a few years ago I figured out that it will make just fine pickle relish. I prefer sweet relish, the recipe for which I’ve already posted (I think) but I have no doubt that it would make fine dill relish as well.

However, I already have a gallon or so of pickle relish on the shelf, so now what?

How about zucchini pancakes?

I do wish I’d taken the time to measure and take pictures, but it’s not exactly a finicky recipe to begin with - basically it’s just like potato pancakes only with zucchini. Just slice your monster zucchini in about 3-4" sections, then quarter each section. Then slice each quarter section in half to allow you to cut off the majority of the seeds. Discard the seeds or save them for next year. Run the sections through a food processor or chop them as fine as you can by hand if you don’t have one. Also finely chop an onion and a bell pepper.

Put the whole mess in a colander and allow to drain for at least two hours. This is important, because your pancakes will form poorly if your veggies are too wet. Oddly enough, up to this point, these are exactly the opening steps for making pickle relish, though the ratio of onion & pepper to zucchini is much higher here.

Now unless you’re feeding quite a few people, this will be way too much to prepare at a single sitting. I’m keeping the rest in the fridge for now but I’m pretty sure I’ll try freezing some of the excess. I’ll report later on how well that works if I do.  But for now, I used about a quarter of the chopped veggies for two people and that would have been too much if we had been eating anything else.
Anyway, to every two cups of your veggie mixture, add about one egg, a quarter cup of your chosen thickener (I used equal parts cashew flour and chia flour), and maybe a half teaspoon each of salt & pepper. (I used a teaspoon of Pepperman.)

Grease up your skillet and fry away whatever size pancakes you like until firm and brown. They’re close enough to hash browns that I like them with crushed red pepper and ketchup. But they’re fine with just a little salt & pepper and maybe a little butter, which is how Kate likes them.

*Note:  Actually, Joseph posted this--his recipe, his idea!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tajine Tajine! Moroccan Cooking

Moroccan Chicken Tajine! 

(Or "tagine," if you prefer.)  It was DELICIOUS, and I'm delighted there are leftovers.  

This is the first time we've used our new Moroccan tajine--that's the conical pottery cooker--to make a Moroccan tajine--that's a kind of stew.  I did make one in my old chicken cooker not long ago and cracked it, so I was nervous about this guy.  Joseph seasoned it, though, and we forged on ahead...carefully!  

You can cook right on the stovetop, but it must be at the lowest possible heat, and it's recommended that you use an old-fashioned heat spreader or diffuser under the pot--which I did. 

You can kind of see it in use here: 


So...here's how!


4-6 chicken thighs--we get some terrific ones, organically grown free range, etc.
1 sweet onion
1 zucchini
3-4 carrots
1/2 each red, yellow, and green pepper if you have them--or just one color and use more!
1 sweet potato
1/2 C. raisins (or more, to taste)
1/2 C. dried apricots, cut in half or thirds

2 T. olive oil (or a bit more)

Salt and pepper to taste (we like Pepperman, an organic blend of sea salt and a variety of peppers)

1 or 2 t. Moroccan seasoning or more--commercial, if you like, but I always boost mine with more:
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne
  • Cumin
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon (yes, cinnamon!)
Penzey's makes a lovely mixture they call Turkish Seasoning, and McCormick's makes a pretty good mix as well, though as I say, I always boost it a little.  (I always carry a small jar in my purse because I SO detest the tasteless steamed "vegetable medley" so many restaurants serve as the vegetable dish.  Ugh...but a shot of this stuff would make shoe leather taste good!)


Put the tajine on your stove with the diffuser under it and use the lowest heat you have.

Add the olive oil, then start layering--thinly sliced onion first, then cubes of chicken.  Add a generous sprinkling of spices, then the rest of the vegetables.  Some recipes call for lemon, some for prunes--we didn't have any of the latter, and I wasn't in the mood for lemon.  Next time!

Add more spices if you like--I did.  Put the lid on, and go away and let it do its thing.  It took about 4 hours to cook, and it was DELICIOUS.

Traditionally, these tajine pots are used on a majmar, a little pottery brazier-like thing, but you would have to keep adding fuel.  Too hot today, and I'm too busy to sit out there for hours...


And by the way, of course you could do this in a slow-cooker and not have to worry about the drama--but the Moroccan tajine pot was more fun.

Yep, we have cooked a similar dish before and shared it here--but we didn't have the tajine then!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Joseph's Paleo Gumbo Jambalaya



OK, how can it be both gumbo and jambalaya? Simple: since gumbo derives its name from ngumbo, the Bantu word for okra, simply add okra to your jambalaya. Voila! (Which I pronounce VOY-la.)

I started with Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Cajun jambalaya (which can be easily found via your favorite internet search) but I tend to use a bit more meat than he does and of course, to make it Paleo I use cauliflower rice rather than the grain. I also prefer Pickapeppa Sauce to the Worcestershire that he uses.

I was surprised to see that my Cajun blackening spice mixture contained the same ingredients as his “Bayou Blast” seasonings, just in different proportions. I’ve appended mine.

Ingredients

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
1 large chicken breast (about 8 ounces), diced
1 ½ tablespoon Cajun seasoning, recipe follows
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
2 chopped Roma tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Pickapeppa Sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I prefer Cholula)
1 small head of cauliflower, riced in food processor
1 cup chicken broth
1 Andouille sausage (about 7 ounces), sliced
1 lb fresh or one 16 oz bag of frozen chopped okra
1 tsp salt and pepper or better yet, Pepperman

Joseph’s Cajun Blackening Spices

4 tsp salt
5 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garlic powder       
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground dried oregano
1 tsp ground dried thyme

Directions
In a bowl combine shrimp, chicken and Cajun seasoning, work in seasoning well and set aside.

In a large saucepan, brown the Andouille on both sides, remove from pan and set aside. This step isn't really necessary, I just prefer my sausage browned.

Heat oil in the pan over high heat with onion, pepper and celery (the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun cooking) for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Pickapeppa Sauce, hot sauce, and salt & pepper/Pepperman. Stir in cauliflower and broth. Reduce heat to medium, cook about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the okra. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until cauliflower becomes tender, another 5 or 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp/chicken mixture and the sausage. Cook until meat is done, about 10-15 minutes more.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Joseph's Delicious Chili--AND his home made chili powder recipe, bonus!

Joseph's chili is GOOD!! 

We get organic beef from a farm near St. Joseph, but you can buy some good stuff in the store, too.  If you prefer ground beef, that’s fine; Joseph is a big fan of chunks instead.  Pork chili is good, or you can even make “white chili,” with chicken. (And of course if you hunt, it doesn’t get any fresher or more primal than venison!)  

The recipe is not QUITE Paleo, using commercially canned stuff, so if you've canned or frozen your own, good ON you! Our garden wasn't great this year... :-(


JOSEPH’S CHILI



I seldom make it the same way twice, but here are the standard ingredients:



2 lbs meat – beef, venison, pork, turkey, whatever

5 T chili powder (see below)

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I like Hunt’s fire roasted w/garlic) (or if you have them, 2-3 chopped fresh tomatoes, or your own home canned or frozen...)




1 6 oz can tomato paste (organic if you can find it, or can your own)

3 4 oz cans diced green chilis

½ sweet yellow or Vidalia onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced



Sometimes I may add beans – either pinto or black beans or maybe even both. But never, never, absolutely, positively NEVER kidney beans.

[I don't remember beans in Joseph's chili, ever! And don't miss them in the least. -Kate]



I use a slow cooker but any pot will do.



If using ground meat, first brown it with the onion, then add the remaining ingredients and simmer (low on the slow cooker) for at least an hour, preferably two or three. If using a roast, slow cook it with all the ingredients until it can be pulled apart with two forks. Shred it and simmer until you can’t wait any longer.

[I make mine with ground beef or bison sometimes...it's fine too! -Kate]

Yep, this photo's the ground meat version...and done on the stove...hey, I had the photos in my file!


Serve with chopped onion, sour cream, shredded cheese, hot sauce, vinegar – whatever you like on your chili.


I’ve never really been happy with commercial chili powders so I decided to make my own. (I don’t care if silicon dioxide is harmless, I don’t want it in my chili powder.)



JOSEPH’S CHILI POWDER



¾ c ground Ancho chili pepper

3 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground Mexican oregano

1 tsp cayenne pepper



The only thing not available at most supermarkets is Ancho chili powder and the Mexican oregano, which is stronger and not as sweet as the more common Turkish oregano.  Penzeys Spices is a good on-line source for both. http://www.penzeys.com  Note: I bought a 1 lb bag of ground Ancho chili, which is about a quart. I also bought a 4 oz bag of leaf (the only form they sell it) Mexican oregano and that was ALSO about a quart! So I have LOTS of Mexican oregano! I store it in the freezer and grind it with an electric herb grinder. Well, OK it’s a coffee grinder, but the two devices are exactly the same thing.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Savory Squash Soup--again!

SAVORY SQUASH & SAUSAGE SOUP

I thought I'd done this version in the blog, but if I did I didn't label it....so by popular request, my sausage and squash soup, perfect for a wintry day!


butternut squash keeps well in the winter--this is the bulbous end with the seeds...


bubbling away on the stove...


You’ll need:

1/2 large sweet onion
a winter squash (we like butternut squash for this--and of course if you can get organic, all the better)
2 cloves of garlic
5-6 cups of soup stock or to cover well, preferably home made--I used some of my bone broth I hadn't gotten to yet, with chicken stock
breakfast sausage--about a lb.
1 T. butter or olive oil
dash of sea salt
a generous grating of fresh pepper
(We like Pepperman instead of those last two)
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. turmeric
Sprinkling of cayenne, to taste (I'm a wuus)

dollop of sour cream or plain lowfat yogurt, optional
dash of hot sauce, optional squared...


Peel and chop the onion into about ½" pieces, and brown lightly in the hot oil–
Add the garlic.

Brown and break up the sausage in another pan.

Slice, peel, and dice the squash.
Put in a stock pot with broth and stock, and cook on medium heat till the squash is soft.  Mash with a potato masher or use a blender or food processor.

Add the sautee'd onion  along with the meat and seasonings, and simmer a half hour or longer.
Serve with sour cream or yogurt and enjoy--perfect for a wintry evening!

You can tell this photo was taken when I was still eating bread. If gluten doesn't bother you, that's your choice!
And add a little hot sauce if you're like my husband...I'm the delicate little flower in the family!
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