Cucumber Rounds with Smoked Salmon and Dill Dip

Concocted for Mt. Ogden Crossfit’s Nutrition Challenge. A very pretty little canapé likely to get gobbled up by even your least paleo guests. The dill dressing owes a LOT to the Vegan Avocado Ranch recipe over at Girl Makes Food.

  • 1 cucumber (peeled if desired), sliced
  • 1/2 recipe Avocado-Dill Dip
  • 1 package smoked salmon (I like the thick-cut fillet type instead of the lox like you’d put on a bagel)

Put Dill Dip in a plastic bag and cut off the corner to make a pastry bag. Pipe a little dip on each cucumber slice and top with a small chunk of smoked salmon. Garnish with a little additional dill if desired.

Avocado Dill Dip

  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Dill (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Parsley (roughly chopped)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Challenge, Week 3 Summary

We had a really lovely sit-down dinner this week and everyone pitched in for the cooking! Here’s what we made:

Appetizers

  • Prosciutto Wrapped Melon: Here’s a version at Bell’alimento. We did plain old chunks and skipped the dressing (balsamic glaze is pretty sugary)
  • Cucumber Slices topped with Dill Sauce and Smoked Salmon: my recipe here. (coming soon)
  • Deviled Eggs: from Epicurious.
    • Watch your labels, most store-bought mayo uses soybean oil and preservatives.  Its pretty easy to make your own. This recipe is pretty good, just use light olive oil or grapeseed oil in place of safflower/corn oil.

Main Dishes

We presented a quarter roast chicken 3 ways. A great roast chicken recipe is on Epicurious, I add a tablespoon fennel seed to my salt and pepper.

  • Pureed Celery Root  and Rutabaga & Blistered Tomatoes & French Salsa Verde

    • Peel and chop one celery root and one medium-large rutabega. Boil for about 25 minutes, drain. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 1/3 of a can of coconut milk or so. Blend till smooth with food processor or immersion blender. Add salt, pepper, and a little minced fresh herb. (I used mint, but basil, thyme or chive would work well).
    • Toss grape or cherry tomatoes in olive oil. Saute on medium high until the just burst.
    • Dress the whole thing with Michael Symon’ Salsa Verde
  • Roast Acorn Squash & Green Beans with Almonds & Thyme Butter

    • Cut squash into quarters lengthwise, sprinkle  with cinnamon, ginger, and chilli powder. Top with a little butter. Roast at 400F for 30 minutes or until soft throughout and golden at the edges.
    • Saute green beans in a little olive oil, dress with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt, top with sliced almonds.
    • Mix a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves and a tablespoon of minced shallot into 4 tablespoons of butter. Use this to dress the chicken and squash.
  • Roasted Root Vegetables & Chard with Onion & Herbed Aioli

    • Cut any combination of root vegetables into french-fry sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast on a cookie sheet at 400F for 20 minutes until soft and browned at the edges
    • Follow this recipe for the Swiss Chard
    • Dress with aioli. Try this recipe, skip the vegetable oil and add some minced parsley and chives.

Sweets

  • 85% Dark Chocolate Chunks and Strawberries
  • Spiced Walnuts and Dried Apple Rings

Paleo-fied Dips and Dressings

Here are a few links and recipes I promised to post.

A few good links

Guacamole was born paleo. A recipe I like is here: Food 52

Ranch Dressing: I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard good things about this recipe: Girl Makes Food

DIY Salad Dressing tutorial from my blog

New Sauces

from last night’s class

Sweet Thai “Peanut” sauce

actually almond, coconut and lime sauce.

  • 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 medium apple, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat in the can)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • pinch salt
  • squirt Sriracha, or to taste.

In food processor or Magic Bullet, process almonds until they are powdery. Add remaining ingredients and blend well.

Tzatziki Sauce

This one without yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves or dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small cucumber peeled, seeds removed

Pulse all ingredients together in food processor or Magic Bullet.

Coconut Lime Chipotle Sauce

I made this to go over salmon, but I think it would work for shrimp or cold chicken salad as well:

Soak in hot water for 5 minutes:
3 dried ancho chiles

Remove chile stems and cores, and toss in food processor or blender with:
juice of 1 lime
1 can of coconut milk
5 cloves of garlic (unless its date night)
Chipotle powder to taste (its spicy!)
A little salt if you’re so inclined

Blend smooth, enjoy!

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.