Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paleo Italian Meatballs

Paleo Italian Meatballs: On menu for 8/31 delivery!
(note: bread crumbs add a nice flavor and texture to these, but to make them paleo I omitted them and adjusted the other ingredients accordingly)

Meatball Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. ground beef (preferably grass fed)
  2. 1 egg
  3. a healthy dash worcestershire sauce
  4. 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  5. 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  6. 2 tbsp. minced shallots
  7. 2 cloves minced garlic
  8. 1/8 c. cold water
  9. salt and pepper
Tomato Sauce Ingredients
  1. 1/4 c. red wine
  2. 2 shallots, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  4. 2 tbsp. stock
  5. 1 can diced tomatoes
  6. 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  7. 2 tbsp. parsley
  8. 2 tbsp. shaved parmesan
  1. Mix together all ingredients well with hands
  2. take a small amount of the mixture and throw into a hot skillet with a dash of olive oil
  3. cook through, and taste
  4. Add whatever you feel like it needs (if it's too dry, add more water, if it's too bland add more salt and pepper or one of the other ingredients)
  5. Mix again, and test again
  6. Once you have the taste right, form the remaining mixture into meatballs (you choose the size)

  7. Fill the skillet with enough olive oil to coat the pan (it's important to use a good heavy bottom skillet that will get really hot, or else you won't be able to brown them very well. I've included a link to my favorite below)
  8. Fry the meatballs until dark brown on all sides, and cooked through

  9. Remove meatballs from skilled and deglaze pan with red wine

  10. Saute shallots
  11. add garlic
  12. add stock (I added the ice cubes of my homemade chicken stock- see previous post for recipe)
  13. add tomatoes and tomato paste
  14. add meatballs back to the sauce, and allow them to warm up and absorb some of the sauce for about 5 mins.
  15. Plate meatballs, top with sauce and garnish with parsley and parmesan

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Importance of Homemade Stock

Have you ever been to a nice restaurant and tasted a soup or sauce that was so good, and you couldn't figure out WHY? The answer is probably the stock. Most home cooks picture a can of Swanson's when you say "chicken stock" as opposed to the real deal- fresh bones and aromatics simmered for hours to produce the clear, rich, flavorful substance that is stock.

Stock is a great thing to have on hand in your freezer. I freeze my stock into different sized quantities- bigger tupperwares to make large quantities of soup for the business, medium sized containers to make a quick sauce at home, and ice cube trays to add a quick boost of flavor to a dish. There is truly no boxed or can stock that compares to making your own.

One of my favorite cookbooks, "The French Laundry Cookbook" by Thomas Keller illustrates a simpler, quicker way to make stocks. Now you don't have to spend eight hours trapped inside your kitchen, Keller's recipe takes about three hours start to finish.

I can't express how amazing this cookbook is (The French Laundry is argued to be the best restaurant in the world, costing about $260 per person for dinner) and I highly recommend you picking up a copy for yourself (you can purchase one using the link below). But I will give you a quick summary of the process of making chicken stock:

  1. Clean the bones (about 5-6 lbs) of any impurities
  2. Place them in a huge stock pot
  3. Fill pot with cold water
  4. Gently bring to a simmer
  5. Skim off the foam/debris that floats to the top
  6. Add a bunch of ice, skim again
  7. Add carrots, leeks and onions
  8. Slowly bring to a simmer
  9. Simmer 45 mins
  10. Strain 2-3 times, into small containers
  11. Keep in freezer for up to 4 months

Promo Code: STOCK

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Tribute to Julia- 3 Creamy Fish Dishes

Like most foodies, Julia Child is an icon in my opinion. I was so excited to see the new movie Julie & Julia! Unfortunately the Amy Adams (or Julie) portion of the movie was extremely disappointing, but Meryl Streep's rendition of Julia Child was entertaining and flattering.

I was inspired to re-create some of the famous dishes from one of my very favorite cookbooks "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". (I highly recommend this cookbook!! It has some amazing recipes, and you can follow the link at the bottom of this purchase a copy for yourself.) We decided to tackle three different fish dishes in three nights, and here are the results:

Note: We served the fish dishes with leftover green beans from the business, and they were the perfect side dish, kinda reminded me of a green bean casserole at Thanksgiving!

1. Monday Night:
Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons
(Fish Filets Poached in White Wine with Mushrooms)

Summary of the Recipe (you have to buy the book to get the whole thing, Julia is much more precise and exact than I am when it comes to recipes. Actually I tend to stray from recipes, and add my own twists, so sorry Julia, but these are not followed exactly as you intended!)
  • Poach the fish(we used sole) and shrooms in a dry white wine
  • Use the poaching liquid to reduce into a sauce with some added roux and cream
  • Pour sauce over fish, top with cheese and broil a couple mins, until crisp
The result: For a big fan of mushrooms in white wine, this was fantastic! The fish was so succulent, and the sauce was pretty light, for a cream sauce.

2. Tuesday Night
Sauce Chivry
(Herbal White Wine Sauce)

  • Poach the fish the same as Recipe 1
  • Reduce white wine with herbs (we used dill and parsley)
  • Make a bechamel
  • Add wine sauce to bechamel
  • Pour over fish, add cheese and broil crisp
The result: Almost as great as Recipe 1! The herbs added a nice freshness to the whole dish.

3. Wednesday Night
Sauce Soubise
(Onion Sauce)

  • Cook the onions down with a bunch of butter until tender
  • Poach the fish
  • Add flour to make a roux
  • Add hot milk
  • Simmer
  • Top off fish, add cheese, broil
Result: Pretty good, although we were kind of over cream sauces by now and ready to return to our caveman ways!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vacation Food

It's hard to believe that the long awaited vacation is over, but it definitely feels good to be back. Virginia was great- relaxed in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, wake-boarded at the lake, and enjoyed some great down-home cooking thanks to the future in-laws. I ate more whole wheat biscuits than I'm proud to admit, but it's not too often that I'm in the south.

New York was full of delectable dish after dish, and I gobbled it all up. I have to admit that I strayed from the Caveman diet a few times. I enjoyed one of the best pizzas ever at Keste, which makes organic pizza with fresh ingredients. We had the prosciutto, mushroom and tomato pizza. The dough was so light and airy, the tomato sauce tasted like tomatoes, and the cheese was great. If you're going to eat pizza, do it right:

One highlight was a small whole in the wall Greek deli that made in-house fallafel, hummus, and babaganoush. It was delicious! You could really tell how much care was put into the food. Since it was a small operation, they really took the time to make each dish full of flavor.

Another highlight of NY was a Cuban restaurant in the West Village. I had the braised ox tail on top of pureed plantains- amazing! I couldn't believe the amount of flavor they developed in their sauce- it was an all around great dish.

I think the overall best meal we had in the city was a homemade meal by a couple of Chris' friends John and Zander. John follows the Caveman diet, and even started up a group to bring fellow cavmen together. Check out his group here

They BBQ'd us a wonderful meal of chicken steak and veggie kebabs, chicken sausage, salad, and broccoli. There's nothing better than enjoying good food with good friends, especially when it's Paleo!

Promo Code: CHICKEN

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Don't Eat When You're Full!

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But think about each item of food you ate yesterday. Were you actually hungry for all of it? Here are my top 3 reasons that I eat when I'm full:

  1. The Boyfriend: Chris is a 165 lb male, and I am a 105 lb female. I don't need to eat as much as him, period. Even though I enjoy eating as much as he does, when I sit down to a meal with him I have to be careful to take my time, and only eat until I'm full
  2. Grazing: I will admit that I snack between meals sometimes. I love food so much, that I will catch myself grabbing a handful of trail mix or a piece of fruit when i just don't need it
  3. Emotional: Food makes me happy. I have used it as a reward system my whole life. I love everything about food- shopping for it, cooking it, eating it. But the key is to separate your emotions from the food. You will feel much better in the end if you don't use it as a reward.
Remember that cavemen didn't have an unlimited supply of food like we do. Food was scarce, and sometimes they would have to go hungry. It's ok to be hungry sometimes. You won't die if you miss a meal.