Borscht, we had a simple salad of good Baltic ingredients.
First, boil some turnip, topped, tailed and cut into wedges. Don't cut them too small.
In the last couple of minutes, chuck in a few large spring onion heads.
Once soft, remove from the water and place into a bowl with a good handful of chopped dill and a generous helping of white wine vinegar.
Leave to cool ...
Immerse a fillet of salmon per person in the water and gently poach.
Build your salad ...
Begin with some greens. I went with spinach leaves.
Layer over some pickled gherkin slices. Spoon over the turnips and spring onions. Flake over the warm poached salmon, garnishing with more chopped dill and some freshly milled black pepper. Crown with a good dollop of smetana, a Russian soured cream.
What a fantastic trail of good, gut probiotic encouraging food!
Borscht is a big part of the culinary heritage of much of Central Europe and as such, so many combinations and versions exist - Borscht can also be eaten hot, or cold.
All manner of ingredients can be included, herbs, roots; cold, cucumber, radish; some stir in soured cream for a vivid pink, others, a dollop on top.
This one is quite pure and makes the most of the beetroot. Chilled, it would be superb, hot, still gorgeous!
Begin by peeling, cubing and boiling a beetroot per person and get it boiling away to soften.
Soften a chopped onion in butter or olive oil along with a couple of cloves of garlic.
Peel a couple of large plum tomatoes. You know how to do this, right? Cut an X into the end and immerse in boiling water for a few minutes - the skin will then just fall off.
Once the beetroot is softened, put the lot into a blender and purée to a pulp.
Back in the pan, let it out with a little water or stock - the soup should still be more a slurry than liquid.
Taste? It's bitter! Sugar is often added. If you really must, honey would work. Personally, I like the bitterness, but it does need the edge taking off. The solution is vinegar, which lends just a little sweetness in the back taste - cider or wine vinegar. I went with red wine vinegar.
Ready to eat? Final flavours - maybe some sea salt, some black pepper.
Into a bowl with some fresh herbs - dill or chives are perfect. I went with chives, since dill was going to feature heavily in my main course.
Crown with a good dollop of smetana, a Russian soured cream which has a more creamy flavour than the soured cream we are used to here in the UK. If dairy is not within your dietary template, just leave it out.
Taking this basic formula, the addition of cucumber and radish would give a cool peppiness chilled, adding in roots, turnip, swede, even potato, would produce a heavier, warming winter soup.
Have fun with combinations ...
The colours of the Italian flag are represented in this little salad and the combination of colours, I find, quite striking.
... and with some pepperoni in my fridge for some reason or other, the actual reason escapes me now, but it needs eating. What to do?
Warm some slices of pepperoni through under the grill.
Lay out on a plate and cover with a single basil leaf per slice.
Colour up sufficient scallops for the number of slices of pepperoni and lay one on each, a drop of chilli sauce over.
There you go ... canapes! Fun for a light entree, plate of finger food or just wolfing down a load.
Danger! Danger! There's nitrates in that deli meat!
To quote Sébastien Noël over at Paleo Diet Lifestyle: "If you’re concerned about the nitrates in bacon, you can easily find a nitrate-free bacon. Also know that nitrates are a natural compound found in much higher amounts in almost all vegetables."
Your Gazpacho can include any number of ingredients - avocado, cucumber, watermelon, grapes, even seafood. Modern recipes will often include sugar to counter the vinegar as a gastrique - paleo, we can simply leave that out and enjoy the genuine article.
My previous article on Gazpacho was a rather pure version, just tomato and a good zing.
This, more spontaneous ...
Wanting a quick starter while my Corned Beef Hash cooked out, I just chopped up a few ingredients and whizzed it through with my hand blender.
For two ...
Two tomatoes, cubed.
Two inches of cucumber, cubed.
One green pepper, chopped.
Two large spring onions, chopped.
Four cloves of pickled garlic.
Two large pickled chillies, shredded.
Twelve splashes of green Tabasco.
One capful of white wine vinegar.
Blitz, but not to a purée ... we want some crunch!
Want it more pure(e)? Muddle it with the end of a rolling pin until the relevant softness has been found.
Serve out into a bowl with a few ice cubes dropped in for added chill.
Dead simple and so versatile ... starter, light main or just a snack.
Boil some eggs, peel, cool, chop in half and collect the yolks in a bowl.
Now, combine them with whatever flavours you want - the options are literally limitless.
I creamed them together with some English mustard - fiery, yellow and not bitter like German or American mustard, tossed in some minced capers, some black pepper and a little sea salt, chilli juice and lemon juice.
Stir together all your flavours and scoop the egg yolks back into the whites.
Garnish however you wish - sprinkle some chilli powder over, chives, parsley; I went with a lot of chopped dill.
Now what? Eat 'em!
Corned beef to us comes in tins - it is beef, beef fat, salt and (shhh!) a little sugar.
This was one of my stop-gap pre-paleo meals, made from an onion, some garlic, a tin of corned beef, a tin of peeled plum tomatoes, a tin of baked beans, some chopped carrot, some chopped potato and some spices.
We can make it paleo ...
In its simplest form, Corned Beef Hash is corned beef, onion, tomato and potato, which would be sweet potato in the paleo world. From this most basic description, add in whatever flavours and textures you like.
I began softening a chopped onion in some beef dripping and then poured in a carton of chopped tomatoes.
Now the flavours: garlic, Scotch Bonnet pepper, paprika, black pepper and chicken stock.
Now the textures: sweet potato and carrot cubes. Later on, I'll drop in some chopped green peppers which, if let to cook too long leave sharp skins in the food.
Let this simmer for a while until the roots are soft.
In goes a can of corned beef, cut into cubes, along with a chopped green pepper.
Finally, just before serving, stir through some chopped herbs: coriander, in my case.
Serve out into a bowl and dig in! Paleo-ish comfort food.
I've done this before by making up skewered meat and slicing thinly, but this works much better.
Inspired by The Domestic Man and following his simple method closely, I made a couple of deviations.
First, get some meat - minced lamb, which, for this experiment I went with a pound.
Put this into a mixing bowl and pound it! Squeeze it through your fingers! Pummel it! Break it down ... this is miles more fun than using a food mixer.
Spices. Ground coriander, cumin and chilli powder.
Flavouring. Sea salt and white pepper.
Set this pulp aside in a sieve and capture the liquid. You can use that water in something else, which I did - a spicy hot and sour crab soup. That's an aside.
Swirl the pulp around in the sieve to throw more liquid out, but don't press on it. We don't want it pushed through the sieve.
Add the drained onion pulp to the meat and blend in well.
At this point we want all the air bubbles out, so using your fist, push it into the base of the bowl hard. You could do, as The Domestic Man suggests, wrap in cling film and squeeze tight, but we've a much more fun method; one used by British Pork Pie makers the world over.
You pick up the meat carefully, so as not to get more air in it and then you throw it hard into an ovenproof dish.
The point of throwing it hard is to ensure that no further air is captured. In the Pork Pie world, such an error would cause it to explode. Press it in well.
Into a pre-heated oven set to 180C (that's 350F, or thereabouts) for 90 minutes, perhaps lowering the heat for the final half hour if it is getting overly brown.
Set aside to cool - Döner Kebab meat is best re-heated.
When you want to eat, take any number of thin slices from this loaf, grill it and set alongside a salad of chopped white cabbage, red onion, pickled chillies, cucumber, tomato and any other goodies you want to throw in. For the paleo+ folks, a bowl of minted yoghurt alongside is always good.
Potatoes? They're not paleo! No, but they're perfectly welcome in the paleo+ world as safe starches and as paleo progresses, many paleo eaters are perfectly happy with some white potato.
Worried about those green beans? Relax, they're more pod than bean, and in season so grab them while they're at their best!
Anything else? Yes, nitrates in the pancetta. Again, relax - your body can happily cope with it. Your body is not a temple! It's a savannah - get out there any enjoy it.
So, to work ...
Oven on. 180C, so 350F-ish?
Get your potatoes par boiling while to do the fiddly bit ...
Take your salmon fillet, skin it if necessary and wrap a piece of pancetta around it. Place it on an ovenproof plate.
Your par-boiled potatoes can now be drained and into the pan, put some butter (or ghee, lard, dripping or coconut oil), minced garlic and chopped herbs - I went for chive. I also put in a little lemon zest.
Spoon these out onto the same ovenproof plate ensuring that all the butter and herbs are lathered over them.
Grind some black pepper over the salmon and potatoes, squeeze some lemon juice over and pop it in the over for 15-20 minutes until it all starts to brown. No salt - the pancetta has that covered.
While it's cooking prepare something green - I went with green beans; tenderstem broccoli, asparagus, spring greens or kale would all be great!
Total time: Under half an hour.
Total effort: Negligible.
Total gain: MAXIMUM!
Manioc is pounded cassava root. Dehydrated, it is sold as a flour and used widely in South America, notably Brazil who eat it as Pão de Queijo (or, Cheese Puffs).
What if they could be made flat?
Inspired by Primal Saoirse on Mark Sissons' forums, I followed her guidelines for Manioc Tortilla.
I like how she said she didn't weigh or measure, just went for it! My kind of cooking. Her guidelines were good but I deviated, as I always do ...
I began with half a cup (a real cup) of sour starch (or, polvilho azedo), then some pecorino cheese - some, unmeasured, but grated and tamped down it might have made a quarter of the cup I used for the flour, and two eggs.
Whisked together with a fork ... coz Grok didn't have a food mixer, right? Or because I don't have a food mixer!
No milk in the house, but I do have butter! So, about a centimetre slice off the end of a stick, softened and poured in, the mix was now pourable, but certainly not a batter. Loosened with a little water, it became a good batter.
Flavours? Chilli flakes and marjoram. Why? I like marjoram and I fancied pepping up the tortilla.
Pour a ladle into a skillet and flip as the sides start to come away from the pan, colouring both sides and then flip out onto a board.
Presenting ... Primal Saoirse's Manioc Tortilla
If dairy in the form of cheese and cream is not within your paleo template then move along ... there's plenty more here.
You could, of course, omit the dairy entirely and enjoy some tender steamed vegetables with bacon and shallot, and perhaps a drizzle of avocado oil and some chilli - there's a thought. Maybe next time.
Back to it ... we've a cheese sauce to make and that is something that is not an easy thing to do without flour, cornflour or some other thickener. You could use a starch, like arrowroot, but it tends to make the sauce look slimy.
Here's how ...
Get your vegetables steaming - a whole cauliflower and a whole broccoli taken off the stems is good for two people.
In a skillet, get some shredded bacon slices and shredded shallot warming through and crisping up. I scooped up some really nice outdoor reared, hung and smoked bacon in the end of date section at the supermarket for literally pence! Score!
The sauce ...
Grate about 300g of cheese. We use more cheese than usual here. I used a mature cheddar - full of flavour with a superb tang.
In a small milk pan over a gentle heat, melt some butter. How much? Well, enough. Maybe a half centimetre slice of the end of a stick?
Whisk that together with a little hot water - somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon is fine. You're thinking that fat and water do not mix, but we can emulsify using a whisk. Why? We need a little liquid to go with our double cream, which is next.
Pour in about 100ml of double cream. You might call this heavy cream, depending upon where you live. You may just call it cream.
Stirred into the emulsified butter, you should now have a thinned out cream. This is much better than simply watering down cream and better than using milk.
Finally, dump in the cheese and keeping it low and slow ... just let the cheese melt in. Stir occasionally to ensure that it is not sticking.
Not thick enough? Pop in an egg yolk. Beat in quickly so that it does not scramble. In fact, drop in an egg yolk anyway for a really deep sauce.
Want something really special? Secret ingredient? English Mustard. Stir in a teaspoon of English Mustard and the sauce will pep up and go a gorgeous yellow. It must be English Mustard for the heat and bite - American, French or German will not do since it is too bitter.
So, that's our sauce done, our vegetables steamed and our crunchy topping done.
Spoon out the vegetables into an ovenproof dish, pour over the sauce and sprinkle the bacon and shallot over. Place it under the grill/broiler for a few minutes to really crispen up.
Serve out into wide brimmed bowls with a sprinkle of sea salt and a grind of freshly milled black pepper.