Monday, November 18, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower, Celery Root and Kale Soup

I feel like the first round of colds/flu has begun so soup and stock making will be on my regular rotation for meals now.  Getting a great soup and then adding protein is such a fantastic way to get all the macronutrients in one fell swoop.  Cauliflower and Celery Root are going gangbusters right now and it's never a bad idea to add kale to anything you are cooking up right now.  We added some shredded roast chicken to this soup this time, but literally any type of protein is a welcome addition to this soup or just have it on it's own as a starter to any meal.

Roasted Cauliflower, Celery Root and Kale Soup

1 large head organic cauliflower (got mine from Swanton) washed and separated into uniform pieces
1 medium organic celery root peeled and uniformly diced
Olive oil
Sea Salt
1 large organic Japanese yam peeled and uniformly diced
several organic kale leaves--I like the curly kale for this recipe
1 quart chicken stock* (or vegetable stock if going vegan on this)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss cauliflower and celery root with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (or more) to evenly coat all vegetables.  Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with sea salt.
Roast for 10 minutes then turn over the vegetables with a spatula and roast for an additional 10 minutes or until tender.  In the meantime bring the chicken stock to a simmer and add the sweet potato in the chicken stock until tender, about 20-30 min.  Wash and strip the kale leaves of their tough stems then cut into strips and small pieces.  When all the vegetables have been cooked, in batches, combine them with the stock in a blender or food processor and puree--adding to pot on the stove until finished.  If soup is too thick add water until you get to your desired consistency.  Add the kale to the puree in the pot and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

*If you are not making your own stock you can get stock from bones locally at Bel Campo Meat Co. in Larkspur consistently and at the Farmer's market stands sporadically at Marin Sun Farms, Prather Ranch or Tara Firma Farms.  When you see it, just buy it and store it in your freezer--it will last a couple of months.  At the supermarket, just be super diligent in your label reading if buying it off the shelf, there are lots of random things in most brands--sugar, dairy products, oils.  Pacific Brand has one that works, it's just a matter of finding it at you market...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pork Chile Verde

Chile Verde is one of my all time favorite dishes.  At this time of year you can find all the vegetables locally and organic in our area--even the tomatillos are coming out of California now so if you can't get to the farmer's market you can still find some domestic varieties out there.  This time out I used a roast from Prather Ranch and cut it into chunks. I also added a "base" of roasted Japanese yams (white flesh, dark red skin) to take some of the heat off--the jalapeno can get a little spicy!  One other little trick is to brown the meat in lard--you can get it really hot and get the sear on the pork that creates that wonderful crisp exterior with the super tender insides of each little chunk of pork.  This is a very simple recipe from, there are myriad variations especially all up and down the Hispanic/Latin countries--be sure to do a little research and have fun with making this your own favorite family meal.

Pork Chile Verde
1 1/2 to 2 lbs lean pork
3 tablespoons lard
2 Tablespoons Olive oil                                           
1/2 large organic yellow onions, chopped
large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 to taste fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tablespoon cumin
2 medium poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 large jalapenos, seeded and minced
large yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
3/4 lb fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1/4 bunch cilantro leaf, chopped


Trim off any excess fat from the pork and cut into 2 inch squares. In a large (6 to 8 quart) stock pot, over a high heat, sear the pork in the lard until golden brown. Remove the pork from the pot and pour off half of the oil or fat drippings and add 2 tablespoons of  olive oil to the same pot.  Over a medium heat, add the chopped onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until transparent. Add the cumin, pork, and chicken stock, and cook for 1/2 hour.

Add the poblanos, jalapenos, and bell peppers. Puree the tomatillos and cilantro in a blender in batches. Add them to the pot, bring the stew to a simmer and cook a minimum additional 30 to 45 minutes and up to 2 hours on a very low heat. 

For the roast sweet potato:

One average sized sweet potato will feed 2 people.  Preheat your oven to 425 or 400 if your oven runs hot.  Peel and evenly slice the potato into disks.  Evenly coat with coconut oil or olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes then flip each potato over to get even browning.  Go for another 10 mins., peeking in at around the 8 min. mark to make sure nothing is burning.  This will happen in the blink of an eye so keep watch! Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Braised Beef Cheeks

And then it was Fall.  I have to say, I missed you all this Summer.  I was making salads, eating raw fruits and vegetables, grilling pasture raised meats--for some reason pork captured a lot of my attention.  We traveled to France on an incredible odyssey.  While I don't think their children are necessarily better behaved than ours, as a population they do enjoy better overall health and look a lot happier and fit than most Americans.  While I found a lot of the food there to be repetitive, their go-to methods of preparation are far better than ours and is one of the factors, I believe, to their overall condition.  Take braising.  You use a lower priced quality piece of meat that is thought of as "tough" and you turn it into the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth, why haven't you made this for us before? meal that your family and guests will never forget. I did this with Beef Cheeks last night from Tara Firma Farms and the kids got to take leftovers to school today.  Beef Cheeks are a little harder to come by, just let your butcher know you are interested they'll get them for you, but if you just happen to see them, buy them up.  I used 4 16oz. cheeks last night and yes, there were leftovers, but not a ton.  I paired this also with some roasted fennel from Tomatero Farm and broccoli from Swanton Berry Farm

Braised Beef Cheeks with Fennel and Broccoli
original recipe here

  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 (12-16oz) beef cheeks, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 medium organic onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium  organic carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 organic celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups red wine (preferably a dry Lambrusco or Chianti)
  • 1 32 oz. organic can whole tomatoes including juice, chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 sweet potato (optional)


Heat lard in an ovenproof 6-10-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. While oil is heating, pat beef cheeks dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown beef, without crowding, on all sides, about 20 minutes total, and transfer with tongs to a bowl. Pour off fat from pot, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook onion, carrot, and celery over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Stir cocoa powder into vegetable mixture, then add wine and scrape up any brown bits. Increase heat to high and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Return cheeks (with any juices) to pot and add tomatoes with juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then braise, covered, in middle of oven until very tender, about 3 hours. 
When done, remove cheeks from oven, keep covered and set aside.  Turn oven up to 400-425--if you have a convection feature on your oven use this.  Slice fennel, wash and chop broccoli into florets.  If doing sweet potatoes too, peel and slice into discs.  Toss the fennel and broccoli with the olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Toss the sliced sweet potato with the coconut oil, covering every disc as well as possible (you may have to do this with your hands if the oil is solidified).  Spread on a foil lined baking sheet and season with a little salt.  You can put both sheets in the oven at once.  At the 10 min. mark stir the vegetables, flipping the sweet potatoes over so they will evenly brown.  Set the timer for an additional 10 min. checking on everything at about min. 8 to make sure nothing is burning.  Stir everything up again and let them go until you get to your desired crispness from 2-5 min. longer.  Ladle everything into a bowl, the sauce is heavenly with the extra vegetables added.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Roasted Riblets

I was at Prather Ranch the other day and they had these packs of riblets.  These have way more meat on them than short ribs but you can cook them the same way--they were economical too, over 2 lbs. of ribs for under $15.  This recipe was particularly yummy as it was hearty but not bogged down with too much sauce.  My daughter and her friend made a spectacular salad to go along with it with a fantastic "bashed" walnut, basil, balsamic dressing they found in the Jamie Oliver cookbook.  Their special ingredient in the salad was blueberries.

Roasted Pork Riblets
original recipe here

2+ lbs. baby back ribs or pork side ribs
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 chopped onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp. coconut aminos
1/2 tsp. Chinese 5 spice seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan and sauté the garlic and onion; slice the ribs to single riblets and add them to the pan. When the riblets are browned transfer them to a slow cooker or set aside (you should have a pre-heated 300 oven if not using a slow cooker) add the wine, coconut aminos, 5 spice seasoning, salt and pepper to taste to the onions and garlic in the pan and deglaze. Pour everything into the crockpot and combine (or return ribs to skillet and combine).  You can add a little water if it looks too dry.  There should be enough liquid to cover the bottom 1/4 inch of the meat. Cook in the slow cooker on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours.  If going into the oven, cover and roast for 2-3 hours until meat is falling off the bone.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sweet Potato Leek Soup

This soup is not for the faint of heart vegan crowd.  It explodes with flavor with the addition of a ham hock.  Yes, you can go vegan with it if you want, but it is so worth adding the ham hock.  I picked mine up from Prather Ranch at the Thursday Civic Center Farmer's Market.  I saw them at Bel Campo too.  I'm betting Marin Sun Farms and Tara Firma have them available as well.  It is an inexpensive way to add so much good stuff to your already awesome-for-you soup.  If you do go with the ham hock, you can cook it off in the morning or the night before and save everything for when you are ready to make the soup.  The soup itself is definitely one you can make ahead and refrigerate (or freeze!) and just reheat gently when time to serve.

Sweet Potato Leek Soup

2 TBSP. Olive Oil
1 small or 1/2 of a large yellow onion chopped
3 leeks white parts only chopped
2 medium sweet potato chopped ( I used 1 Japanese yam, white flesh, and 1 Hannah yam, yellow flesh--I don't recommend using 2 orange/yellow flesh yams but you can use 2 Japanese yams if you want)
3-4 cups chicken stock if you buy this please buy organic free range and make sure it does not have added sugar (!)
1 ham hock
If not doing ham hock add:
1 TBSP grated ginger
1 TBSP. fresh lemon juice

Cook ham hock for about 2 hours over low heat in a covered pot with water or stock covering about half way up.  You can turn it half way through cooking time if you want.  You want the meat tender and falling off the bone.  You can reserve the pan juice for the soup if you want.  Remove the hock, discard the big ring of fat and cut the meat into chunks and reserve.  Set the bone aside as well.

In large pot, sauté onions in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until lightly browned.  Add leeks, sweet potato and ham hock bone--add 3-4 cups of stock (or reserved pan juice),  enough to cover all the vegetables.  Bring to a boil then let simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender--about 20 min.  Remove the ham bone, and either using an immersion blender or regular blender (in batches) puree the vegetables until creamy.  Return everything back to the pot, put the ham bone back in, add the reserved meat (I ended up using maybe half the amount and saved the other half to snack on later--OMG!!!!) and let simmer for another 20 min.  I garnished mine with a little rosemary which added a nice touch, but it did not need any extra salt.

If skipping the ham bone part, just add the salt and ginger in with the leeks and potatoes then fresh lemon juice at the end before serving.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Lots of squash out there right now!  While I don't advocate this as the sole way to get a serving of vegetables into your diet, they sure are a fun way to add a little green to your treats.  I've adapted this recipe from this recipe from Silk.  While I didn't use any of their products for the recipe, I did follow most of the ingredient recommendations with a few substitutions.  I can't speak for their exact recipe, but this adaptation gave a wonderful option to bring to all the kids' classroom celebrations and/or upcoming picnics and potlucks this summer.  It's allergy friendly to boot!  No dairy, gluten, or nuts and you could sub in the Ener-G brand egg substitute if you need to go egg free.  Use the finest/organic ingredients you can on this one, it will be worth it. You will get 12 muffins from this recipe and I highly recommend waiting (if you can) until they are completely cool so the flavors have a chance to develop.  Or you could just do a taste analysis yourself, eat one warm, then have another one later :).  Let me know what you think...

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1 cup gluten free multi-purpose flour (this is usually some mix of rice, potato, and tapioca)
1 tsp. xanthan gum--I use this because I use it VERY infrequently.  Check this out for another opinion.
3/4 cup organic coconut sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder  + 1 TBSP.(I used Divine- Dagoba and Green and Black's are good too)
1 tsp organic cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together milk, vinegar, coconut oil, beaten egg and vanilla until combined.
  • Pour liquid mixture over dry cocoa mixture and stir by hand until all the flour is just incorporated. Stir in the zucchini followed by boiling water. The mixture will be thin.
  • Fill muffin liners 3/4 of the way full, sprinkle with chocolate chips and bake for 15-20 minutes until tops spring back and a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

  • Monday, March 11, 2013

    Roast Duck with Apple Gravy, Sweet Potato Apple Dressing and Kale and Collard Greens

    I know this dish looks ridiculously complicated, but the hardest part is just working out the timing. I've tried to pace this recipe for you so you can get everything together on the table at once.  Just read the recipe before you start and you should be good to go.  After having lunch at Rustic Bakery in the Country Mart in Larkspur we went to Bel Campo Meat Co. to see if they had anything we wanted for dinner that night.  I had bought some osso bucco there last week and made the recipe from this blog and it came out outstanding.  While I think the prices at Bel Campo are a tad high, the meat is really worth it as an indulgence every once in a while.  They are starting to sell poultry on a regular basis and they had a few ducks that looked meaty so I thought I'd give it a go.  A lot of duck recipes call for a fair amount of sugar but I was able to modify one using virtually none and the duck came out great.  From start to finish it will take about 2 hours, so do this on a Sunday, drink a glass of wine, check your social networking when stuff is cooking--it'll be a thing.  The gravy was the big tie in so be sure to take the extra 10 min. to pull it together.

    1 Whole Duck (4-5 lbs.)
    1/4 Teaspoon Salt
    1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
    1/4 Teaspoon Dried Thyme Leaves
    1/4 Cup Organic Apple Juice for basting
    1 1/4 Cups Organic Apple Juice for gravy
    optional: 1 TBSP. arrowroot powder to thicken gravy
    For the Dressing:
    2 Large Sweet Potatoes (3/4 pound)
    2 Green Cooking Apples (1/2 pound)--Granny Smiths are looking great right now!
    1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
    1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    1 Tablespoon Butter or Coconut Oil
    For the Greens:
    1 head organic collard greens (Tomatero)
    1 head organic kale (Tomatero)
    1/2 organic yellow onion
    2 cloves organic garlic
    1-2 Tablespoon olive oil/coconut oil/extra credit if you use the duck fat skimmed from the roast!
    1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
    1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
    sea salt
    fresh ground black pepper
    Heat oven to 450° F.
    Take duck from bag and remove neck and giblets and excessive fat from the cavity of the duck. Reserve for other uses. Rinse duck under cool water; dry duck. Sprinkle with half of the salt, pepper and thyme. 
    In a deep roasting pan, place duck breast side up on a rack. Prick breast with tines of fork being careful not to pierce meat. Roast 15 minutes.
    Reduce heat to 350° F. Cover duck loosely with aluminum foil and roast until just tender -- about 1-1/2 hours.
    Wash and peel sweet potatoes; wash and core apples. Cut both into 1-inch chunks. In a quart casserole dish combine sweet potatoes, apples, cinnamon, (walnuts), and butter (or coconut oil). Place in oven with duck and bake for 45 mins.  I recommend putting this in about 10 min. before pulling the foil from the duck.  Stir about half way through cooking time to avoid burning.
    Prep your greens so you can cook them at or just before the time you are working on the gravy.
    Wash, dry and remove the tough stems from the greens.  Chop the greens roughly.  Chop the onion and garlic and set aside.
    Remove foil from duck and brush with apple juice and pan drippings. Roast until golden brown and glazed - about 20 minutes longer. Brush with juice and pan drippings several times during baking.
    Remove duck to serving platter and keep warm. Skim off fat in roasting pan--reserve this for the greens if you want. Add apple juice, remaining salt, pepper, and thyme. Place pan on burner. Bring to a boil. Simmer 5-10 minutes to make apple gravy. Using a whisk, sprinkle arrowroot powder into roasting pan and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally to keep from scorching.
    For the greens: in a large covered pan saute the onion in the fat for a couple of minutes until soft.  Add the garlic until fragrant, no more than a minute.  Add the greens, sesame oil, salt, black pepper, optional red pepper, stir to combine then cover and let steam for about 15 mins.
    Spoon stuffing and greens around duck and serve with apple gravy.
    We had zero leftovers so plan accordingly...

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Orange Chicken in Lettuce Cups

    The oranges are so tasty these days, I had bought a 5lb. bag from Olsen Organic at the Sunday Civic Center Farmer's Market and I had 2 lbs. of ground chicken from Barrett Farms (Clucky Plucky) too so I knew I had the start of something good.  I looked up a couple of recipes and the majority of the ones that came up were Thai in nature so I went with one and tweaked it to make it work for the stuff I had on hand.  A quick note about Clucky Plucky--they have the best pricing on eggs at the market if you can get them before they are sold out, also, also, she's selling "stock packs" for $4.00 TOTAL.  It includes a back with wings and 3 feet.  I made a stock from only those parts and it was pretty good, but I have to admit a better stock is made with a leftover carcass and then this pack added to it.
    Orange Chicken in Lettuce Cups
    3 tablespoons coconut oil
    1 medium white onion, chopped
    1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (Thai basil preferred--I found this at the Asian Market in San Rafael)
    5 cloves garlic
    2 green onions, chopped
    1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. prepared sambal OR when in season 2 Thai red chili peppers, seeded and cut into strips, amount to taste   
    teaspoon freshly grated ginger
    lb ground chicken (or turkey)
    5 teaspoons fish sauce make sure to get one that is made from anchovy
    Grated zest from one orange
    Juice from one orange 
    1 head butter lettuce washed, whole leaves pulled and dried

    In oil over medium-high heat, saute onion for 2 min.  Add basil, garlic, green onions, chilies, orange zest and grated ginger in oil until onions are soft.
    Add ground chicken and sauté until browned.
    Mix fish sauce and orange juice together; add into chicken/basil mixture and stir to coat.  This will smell really strong while cooking, don't be put off, the fish flavor does not come through on the dish and fish sauce is incredibly healthy for you so don't skip it.
    Saute for another 3 to 4 minutes.  You can make this ahead and let sit for about 15 min. or refrigerate and reheat gently
    Note: please use Thai basil if at all possible, which holds up better under heat and is much more aromatic than common Italian/French basil.

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    Chai Muffins

         "Susan, do you have a grain-free, nut-free, dairy-free muffin recipe you like?" 
         "Yes, and no."  (This has a ton of eggs in it, so not a good option for those with egg sensitivity)

    I love to bake, it was the first experience I had in the kitchen growing up and I used to make cakes and cookies "from scratch."  Moving into baking with gluten-free, nut, and coconut flours have taken some adjustment, not to mention moving away from dairy sources of fat.  I think texture is the hardest thing to emulate, nothing really compares to the heft and lightness that butter and wheat flours bring to pastry.  So we're going to focus on how good these muffins taste on their own, not how they compare to muffins made with wheat flour.  These are light and a little "spongy" due to the large amount of eggs needed when using coconut flour.  Beccause of all the eggs, they are a decent source of protein as well.  I suspect, since I was eating these with bacon--they would be outstanding with bacon bits actually baked into them or sprinkled on top.  Maybe next time I'll do them that way and adjust the recipe accordingly.  For now, these are muffins that I would make when I'm craving "carbs" in a more substantial way. 

    This recipe is derived from this great post/recipe:

    Chai Muffins

    1 cup organic coconut flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. cardamom
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    1/8 tsp. clove
    6 eggs
    4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
    3/4 cup coconut milk (or almond milk if you are okay with nuts)
    3 tablespoons raw honey
    1 tablespoon coconut sugar
    1/2 teaspoonorganic vanilla extract or 1/4 vanilla, 1/4 almond extract--(again with the nut thing-but it does give a nice little touch to the muffin)
    1 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
    Preheat oven at 350 F degrees.

    Sift the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices together into a small bowl. Set aside.

    In a medium sized bowl beat eggs together. And add butter, coconut oil, milk, honey, sugar and vanilla. Whisk together to blend.

    Whisk in coconut flour mixture and applesauce until well blended. Batter will be thick. Pour batter among the muffin tins lined with paper liners above 3/4.  These won't rise a lot, but make sure you fill the cups evenly.
    Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Yield: 18 muffins