31/12/2011

Showcase ... 2011






























29/12/2011

Turkey & Mushroom Omelette

More leftover goodness!

Actually, the last of the Christmas Dinner leftovers - the last of the turkey.

Time to make something really special ...

Somewhere between an omelette and a pizza, combining turkey with earthy chestnut mushrooms, chillies, cheese and eggs.

Begin with preparation ...

Slice the mushrooms into really thin slices and dry off in some bacon grease. Bacon grease and mushrooms just works so well. Place the mushrooms on a board while you do the next bit.

Slice the turkey really thin and fry off in the greased pan. The aim here is to get the refridgerated turkey fully heated through and any potential salmonella killed off. Place onto a board while you make up the eggs.

Collect 3 eggs per person into a bowl and stir up just enough to break the yolks - we're after an interesting white and yolk texture once cooked.

Drop a knob of butter into a frying pan and once melted, pour in the eggs. Allow the egg to sit in the pan and catch here and there, stir around, repeat, stir around and take off the heat temporarily once all the liquid is just about cooked through.

Sprinkle some dried chilli flakes over to offset potential sickliness in the eggs.

Arrange the turkey and mushroom slices around the omelette and return to the hob to cook the base through to firm but without burning.

Grate some cheese over and place under the grill, broiler, salamader, whatever you call it until the cheese has melted.

Voila! Omelette meets Pizza!

Slde out onto a board and divide up, placing a couple of slices of pickled gherkin, tomato, or something tart alongside.

27/12/2011

Christmas Dinner Soup

The best thing about Christmas Dinner is ...

Leftovers!

Pack away the turkey and collect up all the vegetables.

Spend Boxing Day with the rest of the family and have the 27th as a day of rest ... your evening meal is covered.

How?

Simple! Just bung all the vegetables that you collected into a large soup pan, pour over water, blend ... blend really well, add some spices, like ground coriander, cayenne pepper and chilli powder, some sea salt and warm it through.

Really, it's that easy - all the great flavours from all those vegetables: boiled carrots, boiled Brussels sprouts, steamed cauliflower, steamed green beans, stringless beans & peas (thanks, Mark), baked potatoes (thanks, Paul), fried off parsnips, boiled red cabbage reduced in port and simmered with beetroot, red onion & grapes, bacon, chestnuts and just a touch of cranberry sauce for sweetness.

Serve out into a wide bowl and pour over a swirl of double cream if you're happy with dairy.

Likewise, drop in some good chunks of blue cheese - stilton (too "Christmassy"?), go for Dolcelate, Saint Agur, something much creamier ...


Smoked Salmon

Beautiful pink Scottish smoked salmon needs no accompaniment.

Served out onto a crisp, clean plate with nothing more than a fork ... heaven!

Chill a Chablis and you can make a meal fit for death row! Add a few other little bits and you've got a great breakfast!

What to put alongside such a jewel?

Well, soured cream (omit, if you're off dairy), fig, tomato, pickled gherkin, blueberries and some dill.

Boil a beautiful local farm egg, simply cut in half and place alongside.

All give their own little flavours; all give their own character. And, you get to drink a seriously fine French wine for breakfast.

25/12/2011

Paleo Eggs Benedict

This is not substitution!

Muffin? We don't need no stinking muffin!

We've seen how to substitute - portabello mushroom in place of the muffin, which is fantastic, especially when topped with the best of all fungi: truffle.

We can do this one better!

We can keep it paleo!

No apology, no compromise - just don't put the bread on the plate and don't even acknowledge its existence by putting anything in its place.

This is Paleo Eggs Benedict!

Start off with good ham - the best you can get. For me, a Yorkshireman, this is Yorkshire ham.

Pigs and Yorkshire go together like ... well, Yorkshire and beer! We make the best. Drive out past York and you see fields littered with happy porkers going about their lives. Made into deli hams, our pork is not much messed with - salted, hung and that's about it.

Salt? Yes, salt - we need it, you know! And, for a treat, there's nothing wrong with salted meat. Salting meat is a method of curing for longer term storage in the absence of refrigeration.

If the salted meat is not to your liking, use slices of a good pork joint.

To business ...

Collect three egg yolks in a glass mixing bowl.

Put a good block of butter in a pan and on a gentle heat.

As the butter melts, the solids will drop out leaving clarified butter to pour off, discarding the solids and returning the clarified top to the gentle heat to keep warm. The shortcut here is to use ghee. Whisk the eggs briskly with a balloon whisk and add a splash of lemon juice.

Over a baines marie (sitting the mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water without the base of the bowl touching the water) and whisking constantly, pour the clarified butter into the mix in a constant stream.

You may need to lift the bowl off the heat every so often to prevent it from turning to custard. If the Hollandaise becomes too thick, add a teaspoon of water.

Meanwhile ...

Crack a further egg into a ramekin taking care not to break the yolk.

Add a generous splash of white distilled vinegar to the water, get it up to a rolling boil and then drop the heat.

Gently swirl the water and carefully pour the egg into the vortex to poach. Poach the egg, retrieve and dry off by resting it on a folded kitchen paper towel.

Re-warm the Hollandaise over the water, adjusting consistency with a little water if necessary. No need to add salt, since the ham will provide all the saltiness the dish needs.

Build the dish ...

Place a couple of slices of that good ham on a clean, crisp white plate, gently laying the poached egg on top and spooning the deep, soft Hollandaise over. Sprinkle just a little spice over the top - I used some Hungarian paprika.

Lay a quartered fig around the plate for a sweet respite and pour out a glass of chilled Champagne.

24/12/2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Living in the Ice Age!

Christmas Eve, and I'm just putting the final pieces together for damn good nosh tomorrow!

Christmas Day is the big one for us here in the UK, as it is for many around the world.

It's a time to eat, drink and be merry - renew friendships and strengthen relationships.

Again, Merry Christmas!

So, to business ...

What's cooking?

It's going to be paleo ... well, paleo+ since you will find some dairy; also, a little booze and even gluten-free bread! All well within the 80/20 guideline ...
  • Prawn Coctail - Retro! Still, a clear favourite for starting Christmas dinnner. Prawns in a Marie Rose sauce from home made mayonnaise and pureed tomato flesh over shredded cabbage, avocado and tomato cubes. Served with Citroën and Fläder Schnapps.
  • Turkey - just the crown, sufficient for the 6 of us. Covered in bacon to keep it extra moist and lend a light salting. I know ... I know ... I'm missing out on all the goodness from the bones, but this is my cortisol sanity version of Christmas.
  • Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and bacon - ubiquitous Brussels sprouts with the bacon from the turkey. You can never have enough Brussels sprouts and Christmas is the perfect time to really celebrate this wonderful little package of goodness.
  • Carrots, cauliflower, green beans and stringless beans - a nod to Mark Sissons.
  • Roasted potatoes - par-boiled and roasted in lard; a glass raised to Paul Jaminet.
  • Roasted parsnips - par-boiled and roasted in butter.
  • Red cabbage - boiled right down, simmered in Port and served with pickled beetroot and red grapes.
  • Pigs in Blankets - small sausages wrapped with bacon.
  • Stuffing - onion, herbs and gluten-free bread.
  • Bread Sauce - onion and clove infused milk with gluten-free bread. Cauliflower did fly past my mind as a suitable substitution, and I may well make up a batch like that if the cauliflower will stretch that far.
  • Cranberry Sauce - cranberries, just a touch of Cointreau for sweetness and a good slug of Vodka!
  • Gravy from the roasting juices.
  • Traditional Christmas Pudding - served with Brandy sauce and whipped cream.
Wine?
  • Crozes-Hermitage - Deep, sumptuous red wine
  • Chablis - Crisp, fresh white wine
  • Sauternes - Pudding wine
I'll leave you with a view from the field behind our house - even with the harsh weather, it is great to live on top of the world ... literally!

20/12/2011

Mayan Tostada

I will warn from the outset - the tortilla is not paleo, and only tenuously paleo+ but maybe something you might consider on your journey beyond paleo.

Tostada, or toasted, is a Mexican preparation of flatbread, meat of some kind and accompaniments - chillies, tomato, cucumber, avocado, soured cream and so on.

My toast is made from sorghum flour, a non-gluten flour from amaranth seeds; a pseudo-grain.

Sorghum is not accepted in the paleo diet or the paleo template, generally, but as we look beyond paleo into the food that is exciting, but less damaging than using wheat flour, sorghum seems pretty good. You'll need to make your own mind up on this one. As a former lifelong gastric reflux sufferer, I know a wheat flour tortilla would have me belching up nuclear heartburn within minutes - sorghum does not.

Interested? Okay, here's how I make these flatbreads ...

Take a half cup of sorghum flour and add in a tablespoon or so of yoghurt, soured cream or milk. Mix it together. Need more? Add more!

You're looking for a firm, but incorporated texture.

Sorghum is actually a pseudo-grain, so not a grain at all, and the flour is not at all glutenous, so you're not going to get the same texture as wheat flour dough. It will form a firm texture.

Take a golf ball sized ball (that half cup will make two) and gently flatten it. Roll it out with a rolling pin, bottle, or whatever you have to hand ... turn, roll, push the edges back in, roll, turn, tuck, roll, turn.

At about a couple of millimetres thick, take a large fish slice and scrape it off the board or work surface and pop it into a hot frying pan, turning it after a few minutes and slinging back out onto the board once cooked.

These are the tortilla.

Back to things paleo - the chilli ...

Maybe a couple of hours earlier, you get the chilli going. Take some pork mince and brown it off in a large lidded sauté pan. Sprinkle cayenne pepper, chilli powder and paprika over, some dried oregano and finally, a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder. Cocoa powder lends a real depth to the dish.

Add in a finely chopped onion and a slug of tequila. Cover with the lid and allow the steam to soften the onions for a couple of minutes.

Pour in a can of peeled plum tomatoes and mash down.

Put the lid on and simmer for a couple of hours.

When you are ready to serve up, shred some lettuce, slice some cucumber, tomato, boiled egg, pickled chillies, olives, that kind of thing - I went for boiled egg, cucumber and olives, in quantities that make up 10! That's the Mayan thing.

Lay the tortilla out of a plate, spoon over some of the pork chilli and top with cheese and soured cream. Lay the accompaniments around the sides. I also topped with soured cream and chopped pickled chillies.

Tuck in and enjoy!

Chocolate

Intermission: Chocolate

Chocolate?

Yes, I know ... you can buy it in bars from the corner shop, supermarket, hypermarket, vending machine, specialist chocolate shop and even online.

I don't much like commercial chocolate. In the UK we have a lot of milk chocolate, which is so sweet by paleo tastes and the purer chocolate often uses soy lecithin as a stabiliser. Urgh!

I found a really good source of 100% chocolate from Hotel Chocolate - it's from Ecuador, and expensive! I use it primarily in Chilli recipes.

Can I make my own from cocoa powder?

I won't pretend to have absorbed all the facts yet, but on my online travels I found that making chocolate (like bars of chocolate) from cocoa powder is near impossible - it will be too bitter and too brittle.

Great! That's what I'm after ...

There's a lot of talk and something to do with the Dutch, or processing, or something which went right over my head.

I'm primal; I have some cocoa powder and I want to use it!

I found some sense from someone or other who talked about combining it with coconut oil, sugar and so on ... sod the sugar! I'm trying to get that brittle, bitter chunk that I pay so much from at Hotel Chocolate.

Experimenting in my kitchen, I found the right formula ...

It's not a secret and I'm going to share it - this makes bitter, brittle chocolate, suitable for chucking a chunk of into a Chilli, or eating a chunk of, pulling an odd face and slugging down something to take the taste away. More on that later.

The ratio?

2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon salted butter

Place the cocoa powder in a mixing bowl, warm up the coconut oil and measure into the mixing bowl, whisking together. Add in a knob of butter and continue to whisk while the bowl is held over a pan of boiling water.

The texture should go really slick and liquid. I gather this is where the cocoa is tempered and releases all sorts of goodness.

Pour out into a ramekin or onto a flat tray if you want a thin layer.

Push into the freezer somewhere between the meat and the ice cubes to set.

About an hour later, you should have a firm, brittle and very bitter chocolate.

Woo! Hoo! Expensive chocolate for literally nothing... and it tastes good! The coconut oil lends a kind of cool flavour which is more rounded than 100% but still has the bitterness.

I call this a success! This is exactly what I wanted ...

My tastes are quite primal - I like strong, honest flavours. This is exactly that. I can eat some of this chocolate and gain all the health benefits of the chocolate (go google ... seriously, go google ... chocolate is awesome!) and the coconut oil, but I do need a slug of something to take the bitterness away.

Tequila! It makes me happy ...

Take a slug of tequila afterwards and the sweetness of this beautiful spirit will make itself very known.

The chocolate enhanced by the sweetness, the tequila enhanced by the bitterness - a perfect marriage.

From here, I intend to experiment with sweetening this basic blend with perhaps coconut, perhaps cream, perhaps milk, perhaps even whey protein powder ... go ahead ... have fun ... if you come up with something great, please post up the ratio of ingredients.

16/12/2011

Puerco Pibil ... ish

The meal that Johnny Depp's character in 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico' will execute the Chef for if it is too good, thus restoring balance to the country.

Talk about cooking completely blind - I literally had no idea how to make this. I could read the recipes, look at the pictures, but had no cultural reference for ensuring authenticity.

Typical of me, I decided to do it completely different, hence the "ish" in the title.

I decided to use belly pork. I decided to slow cook the meat first and then marinate it afterwards.

I put a piece of belly pork in the oven at 100C for 6 hours while I went to work ... upon my return,  it was cool enough to touch and I set about pulling the fibres from the fat and skin. The skin made Pork Scratchings and the fat was rendered out into a ramekin for use later.

With the meat strands on a board, I seasoned it with ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, celery salt, white pepper and a touch of cinnamon. Oregano was sprinkled over and the meat folded a few times to ensure it was all well covered.

Into a mixing bowl and the juice of one lime, a capful of cider vinegar and a good splash of Sherry vinegar. Doing it the right way, this, and a lot more liquid, would be used to marinate the meat prior to cooking.

Minced garlic was added along with generous helpings of Habanero and Chiptole sauces - Tabasco.

Left to marinade for a few hours and then cooked in a frying pan to reduce the liquid, shred out the meat and warm through.

Served with a helping of white rice - if you're not happy about the rice, use cauliflower rice, maybe some greens, whatever you like to use in place.

Most likely completely wrong and nothing at all like Puerco Pibil, but it was delicious! The taste was hot, sour, sweet, intriguing; the rice giving respite from the heat!

Right ... I'm off to shoot the Chef!

Rendering Fat

Collecting fat juices from cooking and storing them in ramekins in the fridge is age old. Older still, prior to refrigeration, simply pouring into a bowl and using with the next meal.

Draining off fats that are released from frying meat or pouring off roasting fats into a bowl gives a slightly burned, dirty fat, full of all sorts from the cooking process - this is "dripping".

Dripping provides the unique flavour behind proper Fish & Chips, and you will still find fryers in the north of England, particularly Yorkshire who steadfastly refuse to move over to oils and trans-fats. Another use, particularly for surplus or a simple thrifty filler for poor families, is what is known as a "mucky fat sandwich" in Yorkshire - simply spread dripping onto bread. Done!

You can tell, we do like our dripping ...

But what about when you've got a glut of fat?

I cooked some belly pork and only wanted the meat, which left a half cup or so of fat once the skin was scraped. The skin made some Pork Scratchings, while the meat went into a kind of Puerco Pibil.

The fat, I rendered ...

If you don't have any fat surplus to requirement by consequence of what you are cooking, just ask your butcher for some fat - it will almost certainly be free.


I know ... I know ... the horror! Non-stick pans and a silicone spatula! I can't use cast iron on my ceramic hob, but we are in the process of moving and there, I will be able to.

Anyway, "needs must", so today I use these pans.

Simply dice and drop into a frying pan on a medium heat.

Clear liquid fat will render out, so periodically pour that off through a sieve into a ramekin.

Repeat a number of times, even pressing down the fat to fully release any final juices.

You will be left with a clear, slightly off white liquid which will cool to a solid, but soft texture.