Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chinese Chicken Salad

I struck out trying to find organic napa cabbage and red bell pepper from California today at Whole Foods, but got lucky at Paradise Foods.  They had both so game on!

Chinese Chicken Salad: 
Don't buy bottled dressing, they always use canola oil and put way too much sugar in it.  Salad dressing can be an excellent way to get the right fats into your diet.  In fact, tonight, I skipped the honey and Bragg's Liquid Amino's and added lemon juice--it came out great!

Make Dressing first (this is mostly taken from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions):

4 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Bragg's Liquid Amino's (takes the place of soy sauce)
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. green onion/chives finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed
1 tsp. raw honey (I use even less than that, more like 1/4 tsp.--Rob Berkemeier's honey is nice from Santa Rosa at the Civic Center market, his pricing is fair and the honey is wonderful, he typically sets up across from the food trucks at the back of the market)
2/3 c. EV olive oil (I like my dressing more acidic so I use a little less)
2 tsp. expeller-pressed flax oil

Put in a jar and shake.  You may use the whole jar for this salad, if not, keep in the jar on the counter--it will last a couple of days.  I'll probably use it as a marinade.

For the salad:

1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed
1 lb Napa cabbage, cored, then cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide strips (about 6 cups)
1 (1-lb) head of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
6 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (from a 2 1/2-lb rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup almonds, toasted, halved
1/2 red bell pepper sliced thin
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Make salad:

Toast sesame seeds on heavy bottom skillet on stove top at medium heat.  Give them a shake every couple of minutes until they turn golden.  Set aside to cool.

Cook snow peas in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain in a colander and pat dry. Cut diagonally into 1-inch-wide pieces and put in a large bowl with cabbage and romaine.

Toss chicken and scallions with 1/3 cup of dressing in another large bowl. Whisk remaining dressing (it will separate), then add cabbage mixture, cilantro, almonds, and sesame seeds to chicken and toss with enough remaining dressing to coat.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cleaning Up for the Holidays

Winter Citrus Fennel Salad
I've started a cleanse this week.  The recipes over the next few weeks will reflect this with more vegetable laden presentations.  This cleanse is meant to detoxify my liver so no red meat, processed foods, including sugars not already in fruits and vegetables, no caffeine, alcohol, etc.  Basically, I'm giving my body a vacation from all the stuff that will drag me down for the holidays.  Yay me! 

Winter Citrus Fennel Salad
I was looking through Lidia's Italy to get some ideas and came across this recipe for a fennel salad and I can't wait to make it with blood oranges in January, but there are some organic navel oranges from California at Whole Foods right now along with Satsumas, also organic from California, so I went for it.  It was outstanding! 
Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Coconut Cream Sauce

Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Coconut Cream Sauce over Spaghetti Squash
So.  I'm going to put in "notes" on the sauce as it didn't turn out perfect, but the flavor was there so when I get it down I'll let you know.  Or if you figure it out, let ME know in the comments section or directly and I'll be sure to amend it!

For the Meatballs:
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey ( I used Diestel's Heidi's Hens dark meat)
1 egg
1 TBSP. organic tomato paste
2 TBSP. each fresh chopped parsley, lemon thyme (or regular), oregano

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients with your hands, folding everything together with 1 TBSP. sea salt until well combined.  Roll into uniform size balls about 2 in. diameter and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 min. then turn over and go for another 10-12 min.  You can make these ahead and refrigerate for a day or freeze for later meals if you want to make a huge batch.

For the sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup Coconut Milk from a can (I'm betting it would be better with creamed coconut if you can find it)
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
Juice from 2 lemons

Heat the olive oil gently in a pan, add the garlic and saute gently for 5 min but do not brown it.  Add the coconut and chicken stock and simmer for about 15 min.  Add the meatballs into the pan and let them soak up the sauce.

Spaghetti Squash:

1 large (8-12in) squash (Durst Organic Growers from Whole Foods)

Heat oven to 375.  Cut squash in half lengthwise, scrape all the seeds out as you would when preparing pumpkin and place cut side down in a baking dish or baking sheet.  Bake for 45 min. or until fork tender.  Cool slightly before scraping out squash.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cottage Pie

"What do you want for dinner tomorrow night?"
"Beef stew"
I'm thinking, aw man, that's gonna take all day
"No, wait, can you make it like a Shepherd's Pie, with peas and carrots and stuff?"
I'm still thinking "no" but then start thinking some kind of hybrid.  In my quest for a recipe that I could make Paleo, I learned that Shepherd's Pie is technically made with Lamb and that Cottage Pie is made with beef.  So here's what I did:

1 lb. stew meat (grass fed beef) cubed
1 lb. ground beef (grass fed)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves mashed and chopped
2 cups tomato puree (or tomato sauce--low sodium, but watch for sugar)
1.5 cups beef stock
3 carrots sliced
1 celery stalk sliced
1.5 cups organic frozen petite peas, thawed
2-3 med. Japanese yams
1-2 tbsp. coconut milk (from a can--not the stuff in the cartons) 
Sea salt 

 I used a crock pot for some of this but you can use a heavy pot that can go in the oven too.  I also made this dish in fits and starts as that was how my day was going to go.  It takes about 20 mins. max to get the filling to the crock pot stage/oven--put it in at 300 for about 3hrs. if  you want to use the oven.  Finishing is up to you, read on...

Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron if you have it) and add 1-2 tbsp. grapeseed oil.  When the oil is hot (shimmering but not smoking) brown the stew meat evenly on all sides.  I even cut the chunks down further than the butcher as I wanted the kids to be able to take on the chunks of meat.  When browned remove from pan and set in a bowl or put right into the crock pot.  Brown the ground beef and add that to the crock pot as well.  If using the crock pot, just add the tomato, stock, chopped onion, garlic, and salt to taste. Combine everything and cook on high for no more than 3 hrs or low for at least 5, but it can go all day if you need it to. If using the oven, sauté the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic for about 5 min. and add that to the meat in the pot before going into the oven.  Cook for a minimum of 3 hrs.  About 30 min. before you're ready to eat put in the carrots and celery.  Take everything out of the oven, keep the cover on, and set aside.   Preheat your oven to 500. 

Peel and cut the yams into chunks and boil/simmer on the stove until tender, about 20 mins.  Mash with coconut milk and a touch of olive oil to a slightly chunky consistency, add some salt to taste.  Set aside.  You can do this at any point during the day and store,  you can even do it the day before if you want...

Add peas to the meat mixture just before assembling pie. I used a slotted spoon to put the filling into individual pie plates and we're going to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow as it has more of a soup consistency.  You can keep your filling to whatever consistency works for you and put it in a 2-3 qt. single casserole.  Spread the mashed sweet potato on top and drizzle with olive oil.  Put in the 500 oven for 10 min. or until top browns up a bit.  Let sit for about 5 min. before serving. 

I served this with a butter lettuce and pink lady apple salad with pecans and apple cider vinaigrette.  I got a big thumbs up from the kids and Steve said it was his new favorite meal.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Halibut with Warm Fennel and Japanese Yam Salad

We're still up in Tahoe until Monday morning and it's been very basic food wise on our end.  I've been able to get out breakfast every morning, lunch and dinner have been less stable.  We try to order soup at every turn but most restaurants up here can't seem to keep dairy out of their food.  It has been particularly trying for Leo, but we're hanging in there.  Luckily, there's a great market in both Tahoe City and Truckee, New Moon Natural Foods.  While pricing is a little higher here for regular grocery items, they stock everything that's great at Whole Foods and they have a fantastic deli at the Tahoe City location, The Uncommon Kitchen, as well as a juice bar in Truckee. 

This recipe is from a few weeks back, but a great break from all the heavy food this past week.  Fennel will be making a strong showing on this blog over the season--I hope you come to love this root vegetable as much as I do...

I don't make fish that often, mostly because I'm not very good at cooking it and also because I have a hard time buying it at the grocery store (any store--they all get their fish from 2 or 3 distributors in the area that are just okay).  So today I went to Fish in Sausalito and got some beautiful filets from them. 2XSea is their purveyor  for this particular fish and it was 21.99 a lb.--4 6oz. filets cost me $32.00.  A bit steep for dinner, but the results were well worth it.  I tweaked this recipe from "Simply Ming". It comes together pretty quick once you start the fish part, so if doing a salad, get that going before you start the fish.

Sunflower oil for cooking, plus 2 TBSP.
4 Japanese Yams--dark red skin, white flesh.  These hold up well to sautéing and won't fall apart.
4 Halibut filets, 6-8 oz., skin removed
2 fennel bulbs, halved, cored, sliced 1/16" thin (not quite paper thin), tossed with the juice of 1 lemon to keep from browning
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
5 TBSP. Three-Vinegar Syrup*--make this earlier in the day!

Preheat the oven to 200.  Line a large ovenproof plate with paper towels and set aside.

Heat a large cast iron pan over high heat (you can use nonstick but beware of the toxic issues... ) Add enough oil to fill the pan by 1/4 inch and heat.  Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Shake the pan to ensure that no potatoes are sticking.  Turn the potatoes about 3-4 min. in and let them get golden. Total time about 10 min.  Transfer the potatoes with the cooking oil into the prepared reserved plate and put in the oven to keep warm. (You can prep the fennel if you haven't already while this is going)

Wipe the pan.   Season the halibut with salt and pepper.  Reheat the pan over high heat.  Add the 2 Tbsp. of oil and swirl to coat the pan.  Add the halibut sauté, turning once, until brown and just cooked through, 6-10 minutes total depending on the thickness of the fish.

While the fish is going, combine the fennel and the potatoes with their oil, the chives, and 3 TBSP. of the Three Vinegar Syrup.  Season with Salt and pepper and toss gently to combine.

Garnish 4 serving plates with some of the remaining syrup.  Mound the potato mixture on each and drizzle the remaining syrup over the portions.  Top with the halibut and serve.

Three-Vinegar Syrup

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup Chinese black vinegar OR additional 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar plus 1 piece of star anise (you can get the black vinegar at the Asian market behind Peet's next to Whole Foods in San Rafael)

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the vinegars (and star anise, if using) and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Continue to simmer until the mixture is reduced by about 80% and thickly syrupy, 1-1.5 hours.  (If using the star anise, remove it after the first 30 min. of cooking) To test for proper consistency, drizzle a little of the syrup on a chilled plate.  It should keep its shape when the plate is tilted.  Use or store (4 weeks refrigerated)...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pork Adobo with Rosemary Carrots and Brown Rice

There are many incarnations of Adobo.  This one was so easy I barely blinked.  We're up in Tahoe for Thanksgiving and I've learned over the years that cooking at home far exceeds anything you can get at any restaurant up here.  The big hurdle is being active all day and then coming back and having to cook.  Solved that by using the slow cooker today. 

Pork Adobo
Follow the above link for the recipe and a bonus recipe for pork chops.  I used a 2 1/2 lb. pork shoulder from Marin Sun Farms, Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, garlic from Jenkducci Farms. 

Sauteed Carrots with Rosemary
1-2 bunches carrots sliced on the diagonal (Star Route Farms has beautiful ones now)
1 branch fresh rosemary chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt

Fill a saute pan with water up to 1 inch below the top.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots and lower heat to a simmer for 15 min.  Drain the carrots and set aside for a moment.  Wipe the saute pan out and put back on stove.  Heat about 2 TBSP. olive oil on medium heat.  Add the carrots back to the pan with the rosemary and saute for at least another 10 min.  you can really let them go if you want and get them browned if you have the time.  Add sea salt to taste. 

Plain Brown Rice
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Organic Brown Rice

You can soak the rice in plain water for several hours before cooking for better absorption/digestion but it's not crucial.  In a 1.5-2 qt. pot bring the stock and rice to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 40-50 min. until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

It's Nutty

So, the big day tomorrow!  Here's a funny article about what can happen if you eat too much.

Today, I want to show you the sprouting process for nuts and seeds.  I do this for all of the nuts/seeds we use before I dry them in the oven or dehydrator.  Sally Fallon writes in NourishingTraditions: "Nuts are easier to digest, and their nutrients more readily available, if they are first soaked in salt water overnight, then dried in a warm oven (No more than 150).  This method imitates the Aztec practice of soaking pumpkin or squash seeds in brine then letting them dry in the sun before eating them...Salt in soaking water activates enzymes that neutralize enzyme inhibitors."

In this case, we eat like the Ancients not the can actually see the sprout at the end of all the seeds, the almond one is the little nib of white you see and the sunflower and pumpkin ones are a little more obvious.  For pecans and walnuts you won't see a sprout but the nuts will expand. I soaked all the seeds overnight in a glass container with salt water--about a teaspoon or less dissolved  first.  Drain and rinse the next day and spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Don't pile them on top of one another, they won't dry properly.  I put the sunflower seeds and pecans in the oven for 8 hours, the pumpkin seeds and walnuts went for 10 and the almonds will go for about 20-24 hours.  They taste amazing and it's really hard to go back to "raw" nuts/seeds again. It is crucial that you actually get RAW nuts/seeds from a source at the Farmer's Market--preferably organic--and be sure to check to see if they have been irradiated at all.  You cannot get truly raw almonds in the supermarket in California, all retailers have to irradiate them in some way by law.  A great source for different nuts is

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Basics: Magic Mineral Broth

Feeling depleted?  Magic Mineral Broth is the go to when feeling run down.  It's also the broth I use as my vegetable stock in recipes.  Kombu is reliably available at Paradise Foods and randomly at Whole Foods.  Right now, you can get all of the vegetables at the Farmer's Market (any of them, really).  This is not necessarily so at other times of the year. Get the most local and use organic for everything you can--down to the peppercorns--this is a restorative, don't put sub-optimal ingredients in it.

The recipe from Rebecca Katz follows.  Browse her site for other great soup recipes.

6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
2 unpeeled yellow onions, cut into chunks
1 leek, white and green parts, cut into thirds
1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
4 unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
2 unpeeled Japanese or regular sweet potatoes, quartered
1 unpeeled garnet yam, quartered
5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 8 inch strip of kombu
12 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice or juniper berries
2 bay leaves
8 quarts water, cold and unfiltered
1 teaspoon sea salt

Rinse ALL of the vegetables well, including the kombu.
In a 12-quart or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onions, leek, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, garlic, parsley, kombu, peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves.
Fill the pot with the water to 2 inches below the rim, cover, and bring to a boil.
Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours.
As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out.
Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted.
Strain the broth through a large, coarse-mesh sieve (remember to use a heat-resistant container underneath), then add salt to taste.
Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for 4 months.
Per Serving: Calories: 45; Total Fat: 0 g (0 g saturated, 0 g monounsaturated); Carbohydrates: 11 g; Protein: 1 g; Fiber: 2 g; Sodium: 140 mg

Monday, November 21, 2011

Simple Sesame Chicken with Pomelo Kiwi Salad

Not every night is an extravaganza.  Simple is outstanding a lot of the time.  This baked chicken recipe I pulled from Cook Right for Your Blood Type by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo.  The salad I came up with all by myself.  I served this with Coconut Brown Rice.

Simple Sesame Chicken
8 chicken pieces (I used all thigh meat, boneless and skinless--Mary's Organic from Whole Foods)
2 TBSP. Bragg's Liquid Aminos
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375.  Put chicken pieces in a baking dish.  Sprinkle each piece with liquid aminos.  Rub with crushed garlic.  Bake chicken for 20 min. Turn over and sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake another 20-25 min. or until done.

Coconut Brown Rice
1 cup Organic Brown Rice 
1 3/4 cup stock (any kind, I combined chicken and vegetable)
1/4 cup Organic Coconut Milk (got mine at Paradise Foods)

Bring the liquid and rice to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer, cover pot and cook for 40-45 min.  The rice will be a bit wet so make sure you stir with a fork before serving.

Pomelo Kiwi Salad
1 Pomelo (from Twin Girls Farm), segmented (method here)
1 or 2 Kiwis (organic from California at Whole Foods), peeled, sliced and quartered
Frisee lettuceRed Butter lettuceRomaine lettuce or any combination of your favorite
       (Star Route Farms had beautiful Frisee this week along with the Romaine, the Red        Butter was gorgeous at Tomatero)
1 handful walnuts
Champagne Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBSP. reserved Pomelo juice
Sea Salt and Pepper

Wash*** and dry your lettuce.  If you have a salad spinner use it.  Combine the fruits and lettuces.  Drizzle your olive oil over the salad 2 times.  Drizzle the champagne vinegar over one time.  Drizzle the reserved pomelo juice over the salad and mix with your hands or tongs.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over and do a little taste test.  Adjust with oil and vinegar to your taste.  Sprinkle with Walnut pieces.

***A note about washing produce.  I wash EVERYTHING (okay maybe not bananas, but then again I don't eat bananas) before working with it, especially if I'm going to eat it raw.  Just because it's organic does not mean that fertilizers have not been used and you can be confident that those picking, packing, and transporting the produce aren't always wearing gloves.  Plus, the graininess of dirt is not my favorite texture in foods I prepare.  Get yourself a good vegetable scrubber and wash your food.  Also, if you can avoid packaged vegetables, please do, and if you do buy them, wash them again if if they have been "washed for you." There was another e. coli outbreak fear with bagged romaine lettuce last week. 


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beet and Apple Soup, Skirt Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce and Sauteed Beet Greens

I really wanted to make this soup today.  Really, really.  My friend, Lisa B. got me a case of Gravenstein Apple Juice from Purity Organic.  She gave it to me after reading my first couple of posts and knew this product would fit my bill.  The apples are from Sebastopol, and everything was processed and bottled in the Bay Area.  Win Win.  Then I woke up this morning and it was POURING rain.  I wanted to get my beets from Tomatero and my steaks from either Prather or Marin Sun Farms and I had a very specific apple in mind for this soup.  But it was raining.  I thought to myself, oh just go to Whole Foods, it'll be fine.  Then I thought about all those vendors I knew would be there, and I thought, if they can load their trucks and haul themselves out there to sell me stuff that's really good for me, the least I can do is put on a rain jacket and get out there and support their efforts.  Got to run into my friend, Kathie P., too--she had her whole family there and was getting stuff to make her batch of Chicken Stock (Whoo Hoo!--Warms my heart.)

Beet and Apple Soup
(original recipe here: Parade Magazine)
6 beets, trimmed  with 1 " of stalk and scrubbed  (keep the greens!)
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups apple juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter  (I used Earth Balance--soy free since we have Dairy allergy)
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced, I was lucky to get Pippins from Rainbow Orchards--they may not be around past Thanksgiving. 
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste (from 1 large lemon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crème fraîche, for garnish, optional (I used yogurt cheese from St. Benoit)

Place the beets in a large, heavy pot and cover with the broth and juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 45 minutes. Transfer the beets to a bowl with a slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut the beets into pieces.

Strain broth through a fine sieve lined with two paper towels and return it to the pot.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium- low heat. Add the apples and sauté until just caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Purée the cooked beets and sautéed apples together in batches in a food processor, adding some broth through the feed tube. Return the purée to the pot and combine with the broth. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pass the soup through a strainer, if desired.

Serve the soup hot or cold, dolloped with crème fraîche if desired. It was good both ways.  You can make this ahead in the morning or the day before and reheat gently.

I love this note about beets in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon:
Among the many minerals contained in the beet one must cite first of all iron and copper, important trace minerals, and also calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.  Under certain types of agriculture, the amount of sugar in the red beet can be more than 5 percent.  These natural sugars and the minerals that the beet contains are in balanced proportions and make of  the beet an especially precious food.  Beets help re-establish numerous functions of the body and a diet based on beets has an incontestable curative effect.  Beets are permitted to diabetics and are used in cancer therapies.  Because of its dark red color, the beet has for a long time been considered a blood restorative and a food that strengthens the entire organism.  The beet should appear often on our tables.--Annelies Schoneck Des Crudites Toute L'Annee.

I didn't change a thing with the recipe linked above, except watch the timing on the steak.  It easily took double the time to get to the color I've got on the picture posted.  I did end up getting my skirt steak from Marin Sun Farms
I also noted today that Marin Sun Farms is selling chicken stock by the quart for $8.  This is not too far off what it costs you to make on your own.  I noticed theirs is not as golden colored as mine comes out, it may be they don't leave it on the stove as long, but nutritionally is far superior to anything you can get out of a can or box at the supermarket.

Sauteed Beet Greens
Wash your beet greens thoroughlyChop them in smallish pieces.  You can treat these like spinach, chard, kale, etc.  I did mine with onions and garlic.  Heat up your olive oil, saute the onions for about 5 min., add the garlic, 1 min. later throw in the greens.  Season with salt and pepper, maybe some lemon juice if you have it.  Beet greens have a milder flavor than chard and are wonderful!