Whatchagot Seafood Stew

This is a mash-up of several recipes I’ve read online.  Google “paleo fish stew” for more ideas.  My bread-eating dinner guest demanded that I write this one down immediately, so I think its a winner. Its very pretty (really, its my photography that’s bad) and would make really good party food. It’s a pretty heavily seasoned dish, so serve it with something fresh and green, like baby spinach or blanched asparagus tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and mustard salad dressing. Add crusty bread if you want to accommodate your non-paleo guests.

This was made with run-of-the-mill frozen seafood, so better fish would only make it better.  The veggies are chopped into very big pieces because they’ll cook a while.

Coarsely chop (1 or 2 inch pieces):
3 medium shallots (or other sweet onion)
1 leek, white and light green parts 
2 bell peppers (red or orange if possible)
1 bunch red kale (or plain-old kale, tuscan kale, collards…)

1 small Jalapeño pepper, sliced lengthwise
6 cloves garlic sliced thick

Thaw or buy fresh about 3 lbs of seafood, a mix of white fish and shellfish, I used:
1 lb small scallops
1 lb small peeled deveined shrimp
1 lb tilapia fillets, cut in half

In a gallon soup pot, over medium, heat
1 T olive oil

Sauté shallots, leek, and bell pepper with lid on, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes.  Add garlic, saute three more minutes. Add chopped kale and:
2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes (including liquid)
1 bottle clam juice
2 sprigs rosemary
1 T dried thyme
1 T basil
1/2 t cracked black pepper

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, breaking up tomatoes as you go. Add seafood and simmer for about 8 minutes or until just cooked through. Add
1 T dried thyme 
1/2 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk

Stir to incorporate, turn off heat and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.



Cheat Night Pizza

WARNING:  this post may not be appropriate for some audiences.  Contains bread, cheese, beer, and offensive protein : fat : carb ratios

5 – 4 – 3 Pizza

Its nearly a religious practice that I cheat like a rockstar on Friday nights. This always includes pizza and beer at home.  Tonight’s pizza features 5 veggies, 4 cheeses, and 3 meats:


Thaw overnight:
1 ball frozen pizza dough
Allow to rise for an hour or more in a warm place.

Separate and peel:
2 heads of garlic
drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, and toss in oven for 45 minutes at 350F.  Chop loosely

In small skillet on medium heat, cook until liquid evaporates:
1/2 small can stewed tomatoes
1 small fresh tomato chopped
generous splash balsamic vinegar

1 large red onion
Saute with a little butter on high to char a little, and then reduce heat to medium low until tender and sweet.

1/2 lb Sage sausage
broken up, on medium-high.  Set aside on paper towels to drain

1 cup (or so) leftover chicken
1 two-inch section chorizo

Slice thinly:
1 small granny smith apple
I use the mother of all graters for this.

1 big handful of spinach
for 45 seconds

1/3 lb gouda cheese
1/3 lb ricotta salata
1/3 lb mozzarella
1/2 c pecorino romano

Roll out pizza dough, allow to rest 15 minutes, transfer to pan, rest another 15 minutes.  Bake for 2 minutes at 350F.

Dress pizza:  spread chopped garlic and tomato, sprinkle a thin layer of cheese, layer up toppings as you like, sprinkling layers of cheeses in between.  Keep the apples on top so they’ll cook a little.  We fold over the excess pizza dough to make a cute little pie.

Bake on bottom rack for 15+ minutes at 350 F or until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

Knowledge is Power

Fats & Acids Edition

I’ve been lucky enough to participate in the Crossfit South Bend community in the last few months.  And I’m really impressed by how thoughtful many people are about food.  In honor of the diversity of food values I’ve come across, I thought I’d share my approach to salad dressing. I think that some fundamental principles might help you cater your dressing to your own ethical, nutritional, and epicurean values.  While people who cook a lot already know this concept well, I’ve realized that it is not so obvious to everyone.  This is based on how my mother taught me to make salad dressing, and what I passed on to my roommate who is not a cook by any stretch of the imagination.

In general: fat + emulsifier + acid = salad dressing.  Most of the diversity you see has to do with the types of fats & acids used, and the ratio of fat to acid, along with additional herbs, seasoning or sugar.  Even mayonnaise operates on a similar principle.

Fats are things like oil, avocado, or even bacon grease.  Acids are things like citrus juice & vinegar.  Emulsifiers are things that help the fat and acid blend together well and keep them from separating, mustard and creme fraiche, honey, and tahini are examples.

Traditionally, dressing is about one part acid to three parts fat with a small amount of emulsifier.  My 1975 copy of the Joy of Cooking offers a basic recipe of:

1/2 teaspoon salt,
1/8 teaspoon pepper,
1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice,
1/4 teaspoon mustard
3/4 cup walnut or olive oil.

About the time fat became diet enemy #1 people started making dressing with more acid and less oil.  Problem is, they  also started adding more sugar or weird fillers to counter the acid. Like a lot of folks now, I see good quality fats as a beneficial part of my diet, and prefer dressing that looks a little more like my grandmom’s than something off of a weight-watcher’s menu.  Of course, its easy to tweak recipes back and forth to your liking.

The last thing you need to know is good blending procedure.  I either do this with a whisk in the bottom of my salad bowl before adding greens or shaken in a bottle with a good lid to use throughout the week.  Simply put, combine your acid, emulsifier, and and any herbs well, then add your fat slowly, fully incorporating a little bit at a time.  This video from the Food Network does a better job explaining than I ever could.  Also check out this Food Network article for more good combos.

Here are some combinations I like (in Fat + Acid + Emulsifier + Seasoning order):

Avocado + Lime Juice + (no emulsifier needed) + garlic and cumin (in the food processor) on top of spicy south of the border style chicken or beef.

Walnut oil + Lemon Juice + Mustard + pepper & poppy seeds on spinach or peppery greens like arugula.

Olive oil + Balsamic Vinegar + Mustard + basil & rosemary on mescaline mix and tomatoes.

Olive oil with a splash of Sesame oil + Rice Vinegar + Tahini + ginger & garlic as marinade for chicken breast or as dressing for cabbage slaw.


Leftover Remix

Here’s today’s breakfast:

Sauté in olive oil:
Small handful mirepoix
2 big leaves swiss chard, leaves chopped coarsely, stems chopped fine

Once greens are dark green, but not cooked-to-death, add:
One turkey patty or a couple ounces of other leftover protein

Stir in and cook a minute to heat, top with:
One hard-boiled egg, chopped

Most days I need to be at work much too early, so I’ve started to set out my breakfast cooking utensils the night before so I can get food made quickly.  This usually means my cutting board, knife, spatula, bowl, and a skillet with a little oil in it.  Having veggies pre-chopped helps too.

I’m looking forward to tweaking this recipe for Roast Salmon with Thai Red Curry and Bok Choy from Epicurious this week.  My mother has made it and its fantastic, I think some very small changes will make this very paleo-friendly.

Turkey-root Patties

I got some ground white meat turkey at the market this weekend to try out, when I added an egg to it to make burgers, it got a little too slimy, so I tossed a big handful of root slaw to balance it out.  It was a very happy accident:

1# Ground white turkey
Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Black Pepper, White Pepper
1 egg
1 C (maybe more) Raw Root Slaw

Mash everything together well.  Divide into 8 equal portions and form patties.  Cook in oiled skillet on medium heat a scant 4 minutes a side or until cooked through.

Sweet Potato Hash

My favorite breakfast indulgence:

1 large sweet potato, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 links farmer’s market chicken sausage with fruit juice
1 C bell pepper, chopped
1 small jalepeno or other hot pepper, frozen then grated
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 big handfuls spinach, coarsley chopped
Break up and brown sausage over medium-high heat, remove from pan. In same pan, sautee onion and pepper a few minutes, then add garlic and jalepeno. On medium high, add sweet potatoes and brown lightly, reduce to medium heat & cover stirring occasionally until cooked. Stir in sausage and spinach, cover until spinach wilts. Top with over-light or poached eggs.

Chicken Stock

Once I’ve roasted and carved a chicken (see below) I like to toss the carcass into a pot to make stock. This is what I do, mostly because I’m lazy, its no masterpiece but it works for me:

Chicken carcass, skin, and bones
under broiler for 5 -10 minutes turning once. transfer to large pot.
1 carrot
1 celery stalk with leaves
several cloves garlic
1 small or 1/2 large onion
rosemary, marjoram, thyme or other herbs to taste.
Fill the pot with cool water to cover bones and veggies by two inches or so. Set stovetop to low, slowly bring to a boil. Reduce to just barely simmering for about 3 hours, adding water as needed to keep contents covered. Remove from heat, strain out solids and let cool at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight and then skim off fat, which should form a solid layer on the top. My stock it usually the consistency of loose jell-o because it ends up pulling a lot of gelatin out of the carcass. I like it this way as braising liquid for lamb or pot roast.