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Monthly Archives: September 2012

I know, you probably thought I am procrastinating on the bacon post. Well, lucky for me bacon has a built in procrastination phase called curing. Bacon is like the baking of cooking… it requires patience. The bacon takes a week to cure so I thought i’d make a little treat in-between called Gravlax. Gravlax is  cured salmon but the plus side is that it only needs to cure for 48 hours. Ready to make some Gravlax?

First you will need:

 

Ingredients:

1 salmon fillet

1/4 cup salt ( Corase sea salt works best )

1/4 cup sugar ( optional but it helps round out the salty flavors )

1 Tbs. Smoked Paprika

2 Tbs. Cumin seeds

1 Tbs. fresh cracked pepper

1 Bunch of fresh Dill

Directions:

Combine together all the spices and the fresh dill.

 

Spread and even layer on a large baking dish…

Place your salmon fillet on top of the curing mixture.

Rub the rest of the curing mixture onto your fillet.

Cover it in plastic wrap..or just use a big ziploc if it is easier but make sure to press all of the air out. Plastic wrap is my nemesis, yet I used it anyways…bad choice.

At this point you can put something on top of the salmon to press it down…but I find if you do this sometimes the salmon can come out too dry. I would just wrap it tight in plastic ( or a ziploc ) and flip the fish half way through ( 24 hours if you do the math ).

After you unwrap your fillet, wash off all of the curing mixture.
You will notice it is now a darker color. Time to slice!

You want to slice starting at the bottom and moving towards the tail…making sure not to slice into the skin.

Once you are done slicing that you are good to consume. Gravlax can be served as an appetizer, eaten as a snack or as a salad. I chose to go the salad route.

For the salad I sliced up some avocado and tossed some spring mix with some dijon mustard vinaigrette ( dijon, coconut vinegar, and olive oil ).

I know it may seems strange to eat “raw” salmon but don’t knock it till you try it! Makes for a great Omega 3 rich snack.

Happy curing!

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Garden loot

Thanks to the garden, cooking dinner can be a bit of a mystery box challenge. Certain ingredients (peppers, tomatoes, squash, basil ) are in abundance so it is fun to see what you can make in order to use them up. Sometimes I wonder if I could ever make it a whole summer without stepping into a grocery store, or maybe even just a month. I am on day 24 of my Whole30 paleo challenge and have found myself entertaining the idea of creating my own challenge of shopping at only farmers markets for 30 days and not stepping foot in a grocery store. It is only 30 days right? I think nearly anything can be done for just 30 days. Just a thought.

Now onto to dinner. I had just bought some grass fed ground beef so what could be better than stuffed peppers?

Stuffed Peppers topped with an egg yolk and roasted red pepper sauce

I know, your first thought; Is that a RAW egg???!! No, calm down. Its not raw, ( although I am not afraid of raw eggs ) It is just an egg yolk that was baked along with the peppers JUST until it was set but still runny when you cut into it.  Yum. Your probably also wondering why I chose to top it with an egg yolk. Well two things came to mind when I decided to top it with a yolk. #1 Have you ever had a hamburger topped with a fried egg? #2 there is no dairy allowed during the Whole30 program so I couldn’t top it with cheese…then I remembered this: ( fast forward to about 33 seconds if you are short for time )

“it tastes like cheese sauce” well…close enough. So I topped it with an egg yolk to get that semi-cheesy tasting, fatty mouth feel. It worked.

Now for the recipe.

Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and basil sauce:

Ingredients:

About 5 red peppers

3 Tomatoes

2 cloves Garlic

a good bunch of basil

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

1 Tbs. Apple Cider vinegar

Directions:

First, Roast the red peppers and tomatoes. I did this on the grill but you can use your oven ( under the broiler ) or on your stove if you have a gas stove.

You want to roast your peppers until the skin is nearly burnt. This makes it easier to remove. After your peppers are nice and browned/blackened place them in a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit for 5 minutes. You don’t have to blacken the tomatoes. Just roast them until they have a nice color to them. They will be a little extra sweet.

After 5 minutes remove the skins/seeds/stems from the peppers and throw them in the food processor with the garlic and tomatoes and pulse until smooth.

Add the basil, pulse again, and Season with salt and pepper and add about a Tbs. of apple cider vinegar.

Pulse the sauce again and add the olive oil while the processor is running, add enough to get a sauce like consistency. Enough to be able to spoon onto a plate or onto your peppers with ease.

Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking. It should be a bit sweet and tangy.

 

Peppers:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 green bell peppers

10oz. to 1lb. of ground beef.

1 Squash, diced ( I used the squash from the garden pictured above )

6 oz. Tomato paste or about 12 oz. can of tomato sauce that does not contain added sugar.

Note***I suggest a can of tomato sauce but I had to use about tomato paste because I saw that my tomato sauce had added sugar and forcing me to go to plan B.  You can also use plenty of fresh tomatoes if you have them on hand. Just dice them up and throw them in the pan when you add the squash and let them cook down a bit so that the flavors are concentrated.

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

Chili powder – about a Tablespoon Plus or minus…taste your food to your liking!

Cumin about a tablespoon

8 egg yolks

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut your peppers in half, season with salt and pepper, and par-bake the peppers until they are soft, but firm enough to hold their shape.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, add your ground beef and onions.
Cook until the ground beef starts releasing its juices. Add the tomato paste and stir.

Add the squash, garlic, and spices,

Let simmer and then remove from heat.

Stuff your peppers with the ground beef mixture and create a little nest for your yolk. ( otherwise it will just fall off ).

After placing the yolks on the tops of your peppers, place it in the oven until the yolks are JUST set. This only takes a couple of minutes max. Keep an eye on those peppers!

After your yolks are set to your liking, plate up your peppers and top it with your roasted red pepper sauce.

Enjoy.

So, I know I said the next post would be on how to render lard…but I got a bit distracted. I ended up buying some beautiful pork belly. Do you know what this means??? Homemade bacon. The curing process takes about a week so sit tight, but in the meantime I will be making some Gravlax. (Google that ).

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

 

 

 

Another quarter of culinary school is coming to a close. It is crazy how fast this quarter went by…and only two more to go until graduation!

Our Groups Goods

My Canapes: Cherry Tomato relish with feta cheese on baguette

For our final this quarter, we had to make 12 identical Canapes ( appetizers ), 4 identical dinner salads, breakfast sausage, and chicken galentines. Chicken galentines are probably one of the oddest things I have ever had to make, but when done right, they are also oddly delicious. This quarters final was probably one of the most relaxed finals I have ever done, but despite the relaxed atmosphere I still decided to be my usual high strung self and prepare a galentine at home the night before. Since I am currently doing the Whole30 ( day 14!!! ) I decided to make a paleo version.

So what is a Galentine? You may be wondering… well, in a way it is basically a sausage that is encased in chicken skin. First you have to skin a chicken….

If this creeps you out, you are completely normal.

After you skin the chicken, you want to reserve the chicken breasts. You will be pounding these out and wrapping them in the skin along with the rest of the meat. While you make the stuffing place the chicken skin on a sheet tray with parchment paper and chill it in the freezer. This makes it easier to handle when you are stuffing it. Remember to reserved the breasts, and take as much meat off the wings, thighs, etc and put them in a bowl. ( yes chicken livers too! ) You will be grinding this up in a food processor.
Paleo Galentine Ingredients:

Chicken Meat from 1 chicken Carcass

8 oz. ground beef

1/2 can coconut milk

2 Tbs. Penzy’s Arizona Dreaming spice mix or a mix of paprika, oregano, garlic, cumin, chili powder….

2 egg whites

Sauteed mushrooms

Salt to taste

For reduction:

1/2 cup Chick Stock

1 Shallots, finely chopped

4 cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 cup Red wine vinegar
First, you want to get started on your sauteed mushrooms and reduction so that it has time to cool before adding it to your meat.

Sautee your shallots and garlic in a pan until the shallots are translucent. Then add your red wine vinegar to the pan. ( if you are not doing the whole 30 than you can use regular wine. )
Then, add your stock to the pan and let the mixture reduce to about 1/2 its original volume.
Remove from stove and let cool. It is quicker if you put it in a new container and place it in the freezer/fridge.

Now for the fun part:

Place the chicken meat, and ground beef in a food processor and pulse until it is semi smooth. Add your spice mix, and salt.

Next add the egg whites and coconut milk. Pulse in the food processor until it smooth. Add your shallot and garlic reduction and pulse again.

Remove the mixture from the food processor and place in a bowl. Fold in the sauteed mushrooms.
You are going to want to check the seasonings on your filling before you go to the next step. To do this, take a small amount of your meat mixture and form it into a patty. Cook it up in a small pan and test it to see if it is seasoned to your liking. Test and season until you are satisfied. Always taste your food as you go.

Once your filling is seasoned to your liking it is time to wrap it up in your chicken skin.

Place your pounded out chicken breast in the center of the chicken skin. Then place your stuffing on top of it. Do not over stuff your chicken skin. Then roll your chicken skin and truss it like a roast…

Don’t judge my horrible trussing job.

 

Traditionally, galentines are poached…but I hate the texture of poached chicken skin…pale and rubbery skin is not really appetizing to me. Chicken skin should be crispy and delicious so I roasted mine. After trussing the galentine I placed it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until it reached an internal temperature of 165.

It is actually starting to look edible

Chicken Galentine with salsa verde, salad with a pear vinaigrette, and roasted zucchini

After letting the galentine rest for a few minutes, I sliced it up and served it with some roasted tomatillo salsa, a salad, and roasted zucchini. Yum.

You probably have absolutely no desire to actually make this do you? Well, if that is the case, maybe I can just make it for you sometime.

If you are looking for something a bit easier my next post will be on how to render fat. The lard you find in the grocery stores is not the real deal. It is basically just shortening and contains hydrogenated oil. It is time you render your own fat! I didn’t name the blog Render The Fat for nothing!

 

I am now officially on Day 6 of the Whole 30 challenge. Although a big part of the Whole 30 Challenge is food, that is not what it is all about. The whole 30 also includes your whole life. Meaning… making sure to get adequate sleep, managing your stress, doing something you enjoy…etc. I decided to manage my stress and do something fun on Wednesday by going to see Missy Higgins with my friend Dez at Harlows in Sacramento. Although going to a show the night before a 5:30am class cut into the whole “get adequate sleep” deal… it was so worth it. I have been listening to her music for years so getting to see her live was absolutely amazing.

Dez and I waiting for Missy to come on stage

Missy Higgins… in the flesh. Amazing.

We were so close!

The best part of the show was the fact that we were literally an arms reach from the stage. The only thing that really got between me and Missy was a roided up drunk chick who continued to call out to Missy and tell her she loved her. All I know is that I didn’t want to mess with her. Pretty sure she had a bigger dick than any dude I have ever come across. She was packin some heat.

Despite the drunken woman in front of me, I managed to enjoy the show anywho. Here is a little treat from my view….

Amazing night for sure. Well worth the lack of sleep…but now back to my scheduled whole 30 8 hrs.. hopefully.

Of course, I can’t leave you completely food-less, so here is an easy way to make mayonnaise. All you need is one egg and 1 cup of oil ( olive oil is what I use ). You can flavor it with the normal mayo flavorings which are; apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dried mustard ( or regular mustard ). Have fun!

I am day two and knee deep into the Whole 30. If you don’t know what the Whole 30 is than you can check it out here. It is basically a strict version of Paleo…It’s just 100% paleo for 30 days. No cheat days, slip-ups…or paleoifying desserts. I am the queen of Paleo desserts a.k.a. “sex with your pants on.”However, for those of you that know me, you will know that giving up the Paleo desserts is not the hardest part. See, I had a little vice…that vice, was energy drinks. I know. *gasp* how could you?!!! Well, I am one and a half days clean and sober…which is about a half day more than I have been since I started drinking them. I prepared myself for the worst. Withdrawals which included headaches, fatigue, grumpiness….etc. but honestly, I feel pretty damn good. I realize that I am probably not experiencing these symptoms because I am substituting energy drinks with coffee…but hey, coffee is allowed on the whole 30 AND I do not think it is bad for you. So bite me. I am still learning to like coffee, so I am actually enjoying a bit more kombucha due to its similar taste and carbonation to energy drinks.

Normally I would have an energy drink while I blogged

It feels good to be chemical free…and I feel good in general. I even felt good enough for a few workouts over the holiday weekend with my friend and fellow CrossFitter/Paleo blogger Molly.

Crossfit workouts are a little limited when the gym is closed for the weekend, but we did our best. Yesterday we used a playground for our workout and let everyone and their mom (literally) watch us get our WOD on. Funny how “odd” we may have looked, and the moms walking by with cigarettes in their mouths didn’t even get a second glance. What is the norm these days is pretty sad, but Molly reminded me how important it is that we were there…you have to inspire people somehow right? For today’s WOD we hopped up some steps on the football field and went for a short trail run. Of course, the trail run was my favorite part. I have lived in this town for years and have yet to utilize the trails. Running with no music, or anything to track my distance, pace, or time was liberating and the view of the canyon was amazing. I am thinking these trail runs need to happen more often. I am realizing I don’t have much of a balance when it comes to doing something for no reason other than for pure enjoyment. Part of the Whole 30 is addressing every aspect of your life. Stress, sleep, nutrition…etc.. So it is interesting to see the imbalances in my life and how I need to work on them. There is lots of work to be done.

I am still trying to decide whether or not I will document my whole 30 challenge. I might just keep this one on the DL but will try and post some recipes or etc. when I can. Unless of course you think otherwise. Let me know. Do you want me to document my Whole 30 journey?