Here's the paleo version, which actually tastes good ...
I had some watercress about to go off and it wasn't going to be a part of the meal I was making.
Easy, just blend it all up with some green chilli and boiling water and pour it out into a cup or glass, or just drink it from the pan.
I poured out into Irish Coffee cups and dropped in an ice cube.
Why? The drink is hot, also hot with spiciness. The ice cube both chills and cools both of those effects, giving you a solid punch of sensation!
... and watercress is actually good for you.
For the primally motivated amongst us, I cannot see any issue with giving this a good slug of vodka. Make it a good one, though - Absolut, Stolichnaya or Russian Standard.
How wrong? Well, we make up a ragu, with beef mince, tomato, cubes of carrot; a Bolognese sauce, which we spell wrong and then put a mound over some boiled spaghetti, rather than fold the pasta into the sauce.
Let's take a quick look at the Paleonaise ...
In a heavy-bottomed pan, preferably lidded, begin by softening some finely chopped onion. I use one large onion for a kilo of minced meat.
Soften in olive oil if you want to be Italian about it, coconut oil or beef dripping since we're paleo.
Add in a good few cloves of garlic, minced. I go with 6 or 8 for a kilo of meat.
Drop the minced meat in and break it up, colour it through fully.
Pour in a carton of chopped tomatoes, a litre of beef stock and flavour with some oregano.
Cube up some carrot and toss these in.
Lid on, lower the heat and let that lot meld together for a couple of hours, more if possible. You may need to top up with a little water every now and again if you can't get the heat really low.
I've shown this before over spaghetti from julienned carrots and courgettes. The tagliatelle? Simply roll some large green leaves up and shred finely.
So, serve out the tagliatelle into a wide bowl and spoon the Paleonaise over in a mound.
Garnish with parsley and some grated parmesan cheese.
I'm glad you asked - it's Ghanaian. You know, from Ghana. Africa.
It's ground shrimp, chillies and oil.
Drop a teaspoon of the stuff into a broth and you've got a hot HOT soup! Drop a couple of teaspoons and it's starting to tickle my fancy ... a couple of tablespoons and it's right up my street, on my table and being gobbled down!
I must say, I don't know very much at all about African cooking. I guess it's pretty primal - stews made from meat, fish, stock and vegetables and very much supplemented with ground cassava and yams.
I know about Fufu, a large ball of cassava root, ground and set to cook in a pot of stew, pieces broken off, hollowed and used to scoop up the good food in the stew. This is primal ... this is paleo+ and a lot of fun every so often.
More centrist paleo would just like a hot fish stew, so here goes ...
I began by softening some onions in red palm oil and then blending them with half a carton of chopped tomatoes, a couple of cloves of garlic and a little ginger - all sorts of spiky flavours in there!
That made a red paste which can then be let out a little with some stock - chicken stock is good, fish stock would be perfect. I only had chicken stock, so that's what I went with.
Spice it up with a good dollop of Shito.
Drop in something green - I went with some tenderstem broccoli which softens in the stew while a couple of fillets of fish can be steamed over the top. Tilapia is good - a nice firm fish with fibrous flesh.
With the fish steamed, simply lay them into the stew and eat.
Following on from my paleo bread experiment and understanding that I simply don't enjoy eating it anymore, however paleo it might be I thought it wise to show just what we can use for the sole and simple purpose of communing food to the mouth without interfering with the whole and nutritious food we are eating ...
Plain and simple ...
Cos, Gem, Romaine, whatever variety, it should have a firm spine and be pliable.
Some ideas ...
Lettuce - proper paleo bread!
Plain and simple ...
Cos, Gem, Romaine, whatever variety, it should have a firm spine and be pliable.
Some ideas ...
I'm going to use a lamb leg, butterflied, which means it's taken off the bone and opened out. Leg is a good, fatty cut and loves slow-cooking.
Pressed for time as I was, I simply immersed the leg in water and pushed it into the oven set to 150C for three hours while I got about my day.
That's the meat cooked - the curry itself comes together quickly when you're ready to eat.
The curry ...
Begin by shredding an onion and get it softening in some butter or ghee. This process takes about half an hour and should be done on a low, slow heat ... not to be rushed.
As they begin to soften and change colour, sprinkle over the spices: ground coriander, ground cumin and turmeric. How much? Enough! I go with maybe a tablespoon of each over a large onion. I'm guessing, because I just sprinkle it over.
Once the onions are softened and caramelised, transfer them to a receptacle for blending (or into the blender if you have one) along with some cloves of garlic, some ginger and a few chillies. How many? Enough! Maybe 4-6 cloves of garlic for a 2 pound piece of meat, a thumb of ginger and as many chillies as you like heat.
Blend together to a paste.
Retrieve the lamb leg from the oven and chop it up roughly.
In a heavy saute pan, begin browning the meat in some more ghee or a little coconut oil.
Pour over the paste and stir in, frying it off lightly.
Pour over water, chuck in a couple of bay leaves, some sea salt (preferably Indian black salt) and some white pepper.
Let it simmer and reduce ...
Once reduction is well on its way, pour in some chopped tomatoes. Not too much - just enough for bulk, a little sweetness to offset the bitterness of the turmeric and a little colour. Half a carton is quite sufficient.
Ready to eat?
Serve over cauliflower rice, white rice (if you're Paleo+) or alongside some mashed sweet potatoes. I went for white rice boiled in bouillon, then fried off with mushrooms as a pilau.
Oh, did I mention the health benefits of turmeric? You can google that one for yourself ...
How about just on a plate? With some salads?
Let's get the Chilli cooking and then we can look at the salads.
First, get some meat browning - I used a couple of pounds of diced beef in a heavy sauté pan with some coconut oil.
Chop an onion and place it in a receptacle for blending (or in your blender, if you have one).
Peel a little ginger, a few cloves of garlic and prepare a few chillies - rough chop and add into the receptacle. Blend together to a rough paste.
Once the meat has browned, pour in the paste and add in one carton of chopped tomatoes.
Add in some water, some stock (or sea salt), black pepper, paprika and oregano.
Lid on and set it on low for a couple of hours, more if you want.
So it should be. Chilli is not complicated, doesn't need multiple spice dumps, need not be prize winning; can just be good, tasty food which doesn't get in the way of you enjoying your day.
When ready, just serve it out with the cooling salads and enjoy!
Okay, the salads ...
Cauliflower & Avocado
Steam some cauliflower, allow to cook, crush with a fork and fold into a blended avocado. Squeeze over some lime juice and pop into the fridge to chill.
Marinated Pepper & Mushroom
Slice mushroom, green pepper (capsicum) and onion. Pour over a good slosh of cider vinegar, a little sea salt and some chopped dill.
Fold through every now and again, and when it comes to serving, lift the salad out into a bowl discarding the settled vinegar.
Chop a few Okra into slices on the slant and fry off in some coconut oil or avocado oil with some ground coriander.
Serve hot with a few chopped things - tomatoes, radish, even olives.
Paleo seems to have an odd pre-occupation with emulating neolithic foods - I suppose paleofying some comfort foods is a good thing since we should all have comfort food every so often, but it should remain the best standard. Paleo.
Some paleofied foods could easily lead us into bad habits and away from the simple mantra of meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and veggies, what with those little extra tastes and flavours from condiments and so on.
Some paleofied food is downright dangerous, and this is one of them. Bread.
Well, quite simply it utterly derails the point of paleo eating: to eat quality whole food, organic and pastured with a simple ratio of sufficient meat or fish to feel replete, satisfied and fed, and a variety of vegetables to keep it interesting and fill in all those micronutrients.
So, why make it?
I've had it in mind to make paleo bread ever since going paleo but never actually got around to doing it, partly because I just enjoy paleo eating as is and partly because I prefer to eat foods that required some kind of bread with something that supplants it: Eggs Benedict over a sweet potato muffin, Beef Burgers in mushroom buns, that kind of thing.
I've had a jar of almond butter in the cupboard for ages and what with just moving house, I considered throwing it out when packing up but decided to hold onto it and make a conscious effort to do something with it at the new place.
Then, Niko goes and posts this article on Free the Animal showing us how to make a kind of paleo bread - part one and part two.
I was even less scientific about it ...
I had a jar of almond butter (250ml) which I scraped out into a bowl.
Using the guidelines of four eggs per cup and a half (something like 350ml), I used three eggs since ours are somewhat large.
Stir together with a fork (Grok didn't have a food mixer or a blender, right?) until a uniform slurry is achieved.
Good pinch of sea salt, tablespoon of cider vinegar and a level teaspoon of baking powder.
Pour out into a shallow oven-proof dish and place into a pre-heated over set to 200C for 35 minutes.
Oh, grease the dish or it will soufflé, rather than rise uniformly.
Once done, it should have risen, should be firm throughout with no stodge and hard on the outside.
So simple! In fact, so simple, I wonder why bread makers go through all the fuss that they do.
We had a slice with some Orkney chutney and smoked cheese. My Mrs commented that this was pretty much indistinguishable from real bread, or rather the heavily seeded breads that we used to eat. Somewhat thrilled at having found something we might enjoy as a treat we proceeded to have another slice and then I set about making our dinner ...
We had a starter of salted beef with tomato, caper and parmesan, main of Cod Italiano - cod covered in a hot tomato sauce, much basil and some mozzarella.
After the starter, we were stuffed!
The bread had ruined our dinner. Even as part of our dinner, it would have ruined it - I'd planned some tenderstem broccoli and sweet potato mash with the cod, neither of which got cooked and so, the bread prevented us from having two fantastic vegetables that would have given some real nutrition.
And, today, I have a touch of heartburn.
Did I say bread, even paleo bread, was downright dangerous?
So, sod this epi-paleo lark! I'm going back to the Ice Age!
Simply put, it's minced pork in cabbage leaves. I like to keep the pork part as simple as possible and so I tend to just spice the pork with cayenne pepper and paprika - more paprika than cayenne pepper. I also used some asofiteda.
No cooking ... just mix the ingredients cold.
The pork stuffing often bulked with rice, but no need here - just use a lot of spiced pork.
Rather than cabbage, I used spring greens. At their peak, these spring greens were long, vibrant and not too stalky. The trick is to snip out enough woody stalk so that you can roll up the leaves easily, but leave enough to give it some strength.
Wilt the leaves in hot water and wrap around the spiced pork, packing the parcels neatly into an ovenproof dish topped up with chicken stock.
Cook for a couple of hours at 180C (so, erm ... 350F? 375F?) ... ish ... it's not like the exact temperature really matters.
Meanwhile, make up a sauce.
I like finely chopped onions, garlic and a can of peeled plum tomato with some chilli and a lot of parsley.
Cook this down so it is not wet. I also blended the sauce so that it was really smooth.
Last, grated some carrot and cucumber, and shred some spring onion. Mix with some chopped dill.
Hungry? Serve up!
Spread out the tomato sauce onto a plate and place the Golubtsi one by one onto the plate. Surround with the grated carrot and cucumber.
Cover with a good glob of Smetana!
This is a soured cream, fattier and creamier than regular soured cream, so perhaps just mix in a good tablespoon of double cream into a regular soured cream if you can't find the genuine article.
You've got half a red cabbage and some spring greens, no meat and you want to eat without going to buy some or waiting for something to defrost.
Just a little ingenuity can make even the most scant of ingredients into an appealing, tasty and satisfying meal ...
At times like this, I bring out a store cupboard stock item: canned corned beef.
I am under no illusion that this is good eating - it's needs must, as we say up here.
Take what you have and put it with what you can find ...
I began by boiling the red cabbage. I like to boil it right down to retain all the colour, and actually bulked it out with a chopped onion, some pickled beetroot and a drop of red wine to colour up the onion and deepen the red.
Once boiled and topped up a couple of times, after maybe half an hour, I dropped in a can of corned beef which is deep pink in colour and blended in really well.
More red? Cayenne pepper and paprika! That'll give it a good kick and a subtle under-flavour.
Spring greens were shredded along with some leek and after immersing the spring greens in boiling water for a couple of minutes, they were fried off with the leeks in some beef dripping.
Ready to eat?
Serve out the greens into a wide-brimmed bowl and load the red on top in a mound. Garnish with something vibrant like a red or green chilli.
So, presenting a bowl of green and red!
My joint was Welsh. No need to go crating meat around the globe when we have perfectly good, naturally outdoor reared and grass-fed sheep roaming all over the hills in our neighbouring country.
I made this an ode to Welsh lamb by accompanying it with their national symbol: the leek, which is the same word in Welsh as daffodil (or Peter's Leek); cennin, hence both the daffodil and the leek are symbols of Wales.
History lesson over! This has to be the easiest meal to make ...
Take an ovenproof dish - I used Pyrex.
Chop some leek, celery and carrot and lay in the dish with the meat resting on top.
Add a bay leaf, some peppercorns and a good helping of sea salt.
Top up with boiling water and place in an oven set to something like 125-150C for several hours. The heat is unimportant, as is the timing - lower heat, more time; higher heat, less time. Work according to your time scale.
After a few hours, the meat will be ready to eat.
Prepare some veggies - whatever it is that you fancy. I wanted something starchy, so went with some peeled white potatoes, boiled in the liquor and mashed with loads of pastured Guernsey butter and some fresh mint.
Make up a gravy from the remaining liquor by whisking in some butter and reducing, or thickening up with arrowroot.
Serve out with some of the poaching vegetables, a few slices of meat and whatever veggies you prepared fresh at the end. Smother with gravy.
Dig in ...
The meeting of Jambalaya and Gumbo ...
Originating in the Caribbean and itself a kind of fusion dish taking some Spanish influence, Jambalaya is a Louisiana Creole dish of meat or fish, the trinity of onion, celery and pepper, and rice.
The Creole method uses tomatoes, too, and so differentiates itself from the Cajun method which does not.
Gumbo is most definitely Cajun, again, based around meat or fish and the trinity of onion, celery and pepper, thickened with the West African plant, okra.
Gumbo begins with a roux of flour and fat, which is simmered on until deep brown in colour.
That gives us paleo people a challenge ...
I began with a good amount of coconut oil and coconut flour. This browned quickly and gave the colour I was looking for but not the initial thickening of a traditional roux. No issue - we'll be thickening with the okra anyway.
Once finished, the coconut flour gave the dish a rather gritty texture, which was not unpleasant and perhaps that certain je ne sait quoi which added to the experience. Next time, I'll try a nut flour.
So, with the dark roux in place, soften some chopped onion, chopped green pepper and chopped celery.
Once softened, toss in some small brown shrimp and warm through.
Next, pieces of fish - I had some smoked cod and some coley in. Not authentic to the dish, but certainly good ingredients; the smoked fish just added to the overall smoky flavour.
Pour in some chopped tomatoes and some water, some sea salt and ground black pepper, pepping it up further with cayenne pepper or chillies.
Here, you can deviate and not use tomatoes to go with a straight-up Cajun gumbo with some stock and the okra.
In goes the okra ... this is a gumbo.
Fusing the dish with Jambalaya, I sprinkled in some arborio rice and topped up with some water, leaving it to simmer until the rice was cooked, the dish slightly reduced and thickened; certainly wetter than Jambalaya and perhaps thicker than gumbo.
Arborio rice echoes the original Spanish influence, aping it's European ancestor: paella.
Rice is not paleo. Many paleo eaters are finding that some white rice is acceptable in their diets. White rice is pretty much a good pack of simple starch; huskless, the seed is far less harmful.
Want it a bit more pure paleo? Use cauliflower rice. Simple.
Just for some additional fusion, I served with with a German Potato Salad alongside (think, Des Allemands?) which worked out great as spoonfuls were heaped into the middle of this hot, smoky, vibrant stew.
This is a simple combination of a few ingredients which produces a fantastic textured and flavoured dish which accompanied my Jambalumbo! perfectly, perhaps even bringing in that extra piece of fusion: Des Allemands?
Begin by boiling some potato ...
Potato is not paleo. That said, many paleo eaters are beginning to include some white potato in their diet, seeing it as a safe starch.
If you don't do potato, this is probably not for you ... I don't think sweet potato or even other roots would generate the right effect. Feel free to experiment and let me know how you get on in the comments.
Boil a couple of large eggs, too. I used four small sized peeled white potatoes, which might equate to two potatoes the size you'd expect for jacket potatoes.
So, with the potatoes boiled and softened, drain off, mash and set aside in a wide bowl to cool.
Cool and peel the boiled eggs, mash in a mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
Mince some pickled gherkins and toss into the mashed eggs. I also minced some radish, just because.
Combine all the ingredients together in the mixing bowl with some mayonnaise, sea salt and black pepper. Turn out into a wide bowl and set in the fridge to fully chill, ready for serving alongside your main dish.
Some chives or spring onions would have been great as a garnish, but I didn't have any in. Next time ...
Inspired by something I saw on Tiny Urban Kitchen recently, I thought I'd have a go.
The inspiration ...
The inspiration ...
The reality ...
Not fancying everything fried, I did it a little different.
Begin by preparing the vegetables, tailing the asparagus and forming some courgette and carrot ribbons with a vegetable peeler.
Immerse the vegetables in boiling water while you fry off a fillet of salmon.
Plate up with the asparagus down first, the salmon on top and the ribbons rolled up in a pile alongside.
That's it ...
My version does need working on, and a sauce would have been very welcome. Perhaps a simple butter, herb and caper sauce poured over, perhaps a soured cream, lemon and dill.
Also, I would probably poach the fish sous vide and quickly fry on the skin side to crispen up. The asparagus did need some fat, so will definitely grill some buttered next time.
Fun, nevertheless ...
Aside from the usual concoction of fantastic minerals and vitamins that any item of real food contains, beetroot is strong in anti-oxidants, known to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Beetroot also contains silica, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Strong in iron, it boosts the blood and reduces fatigue, and some recent studies have shown that the nitric acid content assists in the slowing of brain degeneration.
I used pickled beetroot, cut in half, half again and half yet again, tossed in a little olive oil in a frying pan.
Turn the warm beetroot out onto a plate of salad greens, sliced chicory in my case (that's endive in some regions) and dot a few cubes of feta in amongst.
Garnish with half a boiled egg, a little sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
We had this as a starter - it could easily be beefed up with the addition of some meat or oily fish.
Aside from a concoction of other micro-nutrients, scallops are a great source of magnesium, an excellent pack of vitamin B12 and concentrated source of selenium, particularly.
There are a couple of ingredients in this particular soup which may prove controversial to straight-edge paleos: potatoes and cream.
Both potatoes and cream are welcomed within a paleo+ or beyond paleo style diet but if you don't want to include them, don't. The soup will be fantastic without.
If you are including potato, cube up a couple and get them boiling.
Begin with some fat in a wide skillet. I used butter, but beef dripping or coconut oil would be fine.
Brown off a few scallops and then toss in a chopped onion, some garlic and shredded cauliflower stalk leaves.
What's the deal with me and cauliflower stalk?
Well, I can't bear to throw anything away and so once pared from a cauliflower and the cauli used for another meal, I reserve the leaves for this kind of thing - even the grubby parts are fine whizzed up in an amuse bouche.
Back to it ...
Pour over some stock or bouillon - chicken stock would be good, fish stock fine, although might interfere with the delicate flavour of the scallops; bouillon, perfect.
Drain the now boiled potatoes and pour in, toss in some asparagus cut down a little, some white pepper, a good herb, marjoram in my case, and let it simmer for a short while - maybe a couple of minutes, just to warm everything through.
Pour in some cream. How much? Enough to bring the soup to an opaque off-white colour, which you can simmer on to reduce, but it's fine like this once warmed through.
Serve out into a wide brimmed bowl and enjoy.
Chef Heston Blumenthal is a British molecular gastronomist famed for such bizarre sounding, yet utterly appealing dishes as Bacon & Eggs Ice Cream, Sardine Sorbet and Snail Porridge.
Molecular gastronomy is about as far as you can get from paleo, perhaps its antithesis.
Nevertheless, even Chefs like these need to eat normal food and I gather this is one that Heston makes at home.
Inspired by his article in GQ Magazine, I thought I'd have a go!
The inspiration ...
Image: Romas Foord
Mine is different - I didn't follow the recipe and you should not either. Use what you have in and make the tastes work through a suitable herb.
Heston's recipe goes for cucumber and shrimp in butter with dill. Top that with sole.
Mine was similar, but I was using tilapia, which is a more fibrous fish and can stand stronger flavourings - tarragon and fennel, for me.
So, the method in all this madness ...
Begin by putting the base together.
In a skillet, soften some butter and warm some shrimp through while you peel, core and thinly slice some cucumber. Combine.
Add some herbs - dill, if you're using a delicate flavoured white fish like sole or cod; something stronger like tarragon and some shaved fennel with tilapia or sea bream; something earthier like parsley or chervil with sea bass.
Squeeze some lemon in and set to reduce gently as you fry your fish.
Take your fish fillet, pad dry and gently lay into a warm skillet with some butter, or your favourite fat.
Serve up with a line of the shrimp and cucumber, lay the fish fillets on top and garnish with a little lamb's lettuce, watercress, or some manner of green.
That's it - negligible time, little effort and a maximum flavour and goodness dish!
For a quick bite, flavoursome and appealing to the eyes, try this.
Take some asparagus and immerse in boiling water for a couple of minutes. You still want the crunch, so not too long.
Immerse in chilled water to stop the cooking and keep the green colour.
Wrap each stalk with some smoked salmon and seal with a strip of nori.
That's Japanese seaweed sheets - there are so many health benefits to eating seaweed, and this gives a great way getting some in.
For primal folks happy with a little dairy, a tartare sauce made up with soured cream, lemon juice, minced capers and minced gherkin, perfect; more pure, perhaps an aioli?
Whatever you accompany with, it's all good. We had them as-was with a good heap of caviar alongside.
Beyond that, there are no rules ... add in meat, don't add meat, spice it, don't spice it, and add an array of vegetables.
Let's begin ...
Take a large heavy-based pan and begin browning a couple of pounds of lamb mince on a high heat.
Some fat will be released, so toss in a chopped large onion. Feel free to add a little more fat if the meat is lean - coconut oil would be perfect.
Chop up an aubergine and a courgette into large cubes and add to the meat mixture. These will soak up all the liquid and fat nicely.
Pour in a carton of chopped tomatoes and a good pint, or so, of lamb stock.
Add two or three cloves of minced garlic and some pepper.
Lower the heat and let it simmer for a couple of hours.
It's ready when it's ready ... when the liquid has reduced and evaporated.
Add a good handful of chopped herbs - basil is perfect. Combine.
Serve out into a bowl and garnish with tomato, olives and pecorino shavings.