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...


   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. .

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


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


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.


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!
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