Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to support a crazy diet: Part 3 : Shrimp & Bacon

It seems almost unfair for a diet to include bacon & shrimp.  Honestly, you don't even need a recipe if you have these two.  Just cook and eat.

However, I did put together a rather simple dish using them that turned out great.  It also used some julienned zucchini and a good handful of garlic so it really seems like some cleverly made dish, even though it would have just been fine with shrimp and bacon alone.

Now I should add that the bacon that I used, I cured and smoked myself.  In this way, I could make sure there's no added pepper or sugar or seed that isn't AIP compliant.   The bacon that I made I cured with salt, finely chopped cilantro stems and fennel fronds.   The curing went on for about a week (wrapped in plastic like Laura Palmer), and then I smoked the pork belly until it was around 175F, which is basically cooked.   I also rendered some bacon fat over the weekend so I used that as the oil (in addition to the rendered fat of the bacon chunks I tossed in the dish).

Bacon & Shrimp with Zucchini, Celery & Leeks

Ingredients

  • 1# shrimp
  • water for shells
  • 2 Tb. oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 # bacon- cut into chunks
  • 3 Tb rendered bacon fat
  • Handful of garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 medium leek, julienned into 3" sections
  • 2 celery stalks, julienned
  • 2 medium zucchini, peeled and then mandolined into thin strips
  • 1/4 chopped parsley
  • juice from 1/2 lemon


Directions

  1. Shrimp Stock: Remove the shells from the shrimp and plop them in a small sauce pan.  Fill the sauce pan with water just to make sure the shells are covered.  Add the oregano and salt and bring to a simmer.  You're only going to use 1/4 c. of this stock in the dish for this recipe, so you can use the rest for something else later (it freezes, too).
  2. Main Dish: Heat a 14" wok over medium high heat.  Add the bacon fat and the bacon.  When the bacon browns a bit and renders some fat, pull the bacon out and reserve.
  3. Add the garlic, leeks and celery.  Cook for about 4 minutes stirring well.
  4. Add the zucchini and the bacon chunks and stir fry for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add 1/4 c. of the shrimp stock and simmer the mixture for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp, cover and simmer for another 4 minutes or until cooked.
  7. Remove the lid and mix in the parsley.  Stir until well mixed and wilted.
  8. Sprinkle the dish with the lemon juice, stir and serve.
Healthy and very tasty.


Monday, May 22, 2017

How to support a crazy diet: Part 2 : Tamarind!

Thank God for Tamarind!

So on the crazy diet, tamarind is acceptable.  Oh, thank God for Tamarind.
Sweet and sour and plays well with garlic.

This recipe is pretty close to my last crazy diet survival recipe.  It uses chicken, onions, some bok choy ('shanghai tips') and a butt-ton of garlic, but really the grand helper (other than garlic) is the tamarind.  It has such a lovely duality to it which really helps the dish along.

Chicken, Bok Choy in Tamarind & Basil

Ingredients

  • 12 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 Tb oil
  • 1# ground chicken
  • 1 sliced white onion
  • 1# shanghai tip/baby bok choy - core removed so individual leaves can be mixed
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 4 Tb tamarind concentrate
  • handful of Thai basil leaves (or Genovese)

Directions

  1. Heat wok to medium high heat.  Put in oil until you can smell it.  Put the garlic in and cook until it's slightly golden - perhaps 1 min.
  2. Add the chicken and onions.  Stir and fry for several minutes until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Add the bok choy and stir for about 1 minute
  4. Add the chicken stock and the tamarind concentrate.  Simmer bok choy until it's just wilting.
  5. Add the basil and stir fry until it wilts
  6. Serve!  (with rice if you can eat rice)

Monday, May 15, 2017

How to support a crazy diet: Part 1 : Alt-Larb Gai

So my lovely wife is starting a severe diet today.  It's a paleo diet with additional auto-immune focus.   The paleo diet pretty much strips sugars and things with just a bit more sugar than they should have (e.g.; beans), but the auto-immune addition is the big boy.
No nightshades at all for 30 days.  Nightshades are a cross-continent family of plants that includes pretty much most things you would want to eat that are plants.  There are exceptions, but it generally means no tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, chili peppers, bell peppers, tomatillo, gooseberry,  It also means a whole bunch of seeds are off-limits, such as cumin, coriander, curry powder, red pepper flakes, etc.  Also nuts are out!  No peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, etc.

Wow.  That pretty much kills everything except meat.
But you have to have something with your meat, right?

I found another simple Larb Gai recipe and modified it for this crazy diet.  Works pretty well, even if you don't add sriracha (like I did for my portion).

Larb Gai Backup Plan

Ingredients

  • 1# ground chicken
  • 6 Tb non-sugar fish sauce (e.g.; Red Boat)
  • 6 Tb fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 c. chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tb chopped cilantro leaves (just no seeds)
  • 2 Tb sliced scallions
  • 10 basil and/or mint leaves, rolled & sliced

Garnishes

  • Lettuce leaves
  • Cucumber spears
  • Rice (for the heathens - like me)
  • Chili Sauce (um...also me)

Directions

  1. Heat a wok to a billion degrees or just very hot.  Add 1/2 c. of water and the ground chicken, stirring constantly to break it up.  Cook for about 2 minutes until pretty much done and then add to big bowl with slotted spoon.
  2. Add the rest of the non-garnish ingredients and mix well.
  3. Serve with garnishes and eat!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Salmon Burgers!

Time again to improve upon a recipe I grabbed from the NYT.   They are good, but they seem to lack flavor to really make something just a bit better.  This time it's the salmon burger.  I don't know why they don't have any herbs in the base recipe.  Why would you do that?  Anyhow, you can use basil or tarragon or dill or thyme or oregano - they'll all work and present different directions for your palette.
Last night I used a few Tb of dill and it worked just great.  I also upped the mustard and capers from the original recipe.  Also, the original recipe only had lemon slices and tabasco for the condiments.   I used some chimichurri and also some garlic aioli (not mixed together).

Salmon Burgers

Ingredients

  • 3# skinless, boneless, salmon
  • 2 Tb Dijon Mustard
  • 4 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 c. course bread crumbs, preferably from some stale or toasted bread
  • 2 Tb capers
  • 2 Tb chopped dill
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Butter & Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Cut the salmon into 1/2" chunks.  Put 1/4 of the total into a food processor with the Dijon mustard.  Process until pasty.
  2. Add the shallots and remaining salmon and pulse the machine for a while.  Scrape down the salmon and pulse some more.  The paste from step 1 should act as a binder for the salmon in step 2.  The pulsing of the salmon should leave it around 1/4" or smaller.  It should not be pasty at this point.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and (by hand) mix the bread crumbs, capers, dill, salt and pepper.  Shape into reasonable sized burgers.  You should refrigerate the burgers at this point for 20 mins or so.  
  4. Take a large skillet over medium high heat and put in 1-2 Tb of butter and olive oil.  When the butter stops foaming put in some number salmon burgers so they don't crowd the pan too much.  Any remaining salmon burgers should be left in the refrigerator while the others cook.
  5. Cook each burger for 3 minutes per side, turning once.  
  6. If you have more burgers to cook, take the cooked burgers and put them on a foil lined sheet and put them in a low oven (not higher than 200F) while the others cook.
  7. Serve with some tasty sauce

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gai Sap Ka Prow

This is my standard.  I couldn't believe that I hadn't posted this recipe already.
It is my summer go-to when I can't think of what I want to cook.
It's relatively easy and always delicious.

I tend to grind dark meat chicken using a large dye rather than buying ground chicken because I find the latter too mealy.  In a pinch, however, the bought ground chicken or pork or turkey will do fine.

I should have prefaced that by saying I like ground chicken more than large pieces of chicken.  There's a couple simple reasons for this.  When you cut something up, there's more surface area.  This allows for 2 important abilities when cooking: (1) the cut-up matter will cook more quickly (2) the cut-up matter with its larger surface area is exposed to more of the sauce that the matter is being cooked in.  More flavor integrated into the meat and less cooking time.  Win-win.

Serve this dish with rice if you want to soak up the sauce.
Couple notes:

  1. Black soy sauce is different than soy sauce.  It's sweeter and richer - very different consistency. It adds both salt and sweetness which works nicely.
  2. You can use Genovese basil instead of Thai but it is different.  Thai basil has a very characteristic flavor, but honestly, both are delicious.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tb coconut / peanut oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 serrano peppers, chopped
  • 1# ground chicken/turkey/pork/etc.
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 4 Tb fish sauce
  • 2 Tb white vinegar
  • 1 Tb brown sugar
  • 2 Tb black soy sauce
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 1/4 c. Thai basil

Directions

  1. Heat a wok over medium high heat.  Heat the oil.
  2. Add the garlic and peppers and saute for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the ground meat and saute for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced onion and continue to saute until onions and meat are ready.
  5. Add the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, black soy sauce to the wok and bring to a simmer.  Let simmer for a minute or two while mixing the food in the wok.
  6. Add the scallions and slightly wilt in the wok.
  7. Add the basil and stir until wilted.
  8. Serve with rice and eat!
You can certainly add more garlic and chilis if you want.  More flavor = good.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Simple Larb Something or Another

This is one of my daughter's favorite dishes, and I'm proud of her for it.
It's a classic Thai/Vietnamese style dish, full of flavor and easy to cook.  You tend to cook it with ground or chopped relatively lean chicken, but you can also use pork, beef or turkey.
So easy and quick, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 Tb coconut oil / peanut oil
  • 1# ground meat (pork, chicken, beef, turkey)
  • 1 Tb toasted rice powder (optional)
  • 1 Tb chopped garlic
  • 1 Tb minced ginger
  • 1/4 c. fish sauce
  • juice of a lime
  • 3 scallions, sliced fine
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 c. chopped mint / basil
  • 1/2 tart apple (e.g.; Granny Smith), diced in 1/4"
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • lettuce leaves for scooping up the mix

Directions

  1. Heat wok over medium heat.  Cook the shallot for 3 minutes.  
  2. Add the ground meat and stir fry until the pink is mostly gone / mostly cooked.
  3. Add the scallions, garlic & ginger, (and optional rice powder) and stir fry until the meat is cooked.
  4. Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, herbs and apple.  Mix well and turn off heat.
  5. Serve with sliced cucumbers and lettuce leaves.  Wrap up meat & cucumber in lettuce leaves and eat.

Tater Tots - well defined bar of excellence

They might give you diabetes.
They have tons of calories and fat and starch.
Yet, they are more consistently fabulous than many other favored starches.
I have had a surprisingly great number of foul french fries - or at least completely mediocre and disappointing french fries, yet this is not true of tater tots.

When someone says "tater tots", you know what you want in them and you are almost assuredly going to get what you envision.   Burger King - Royalty of mediocre fast food have tater tots on their breakfast menu, and they're really not bad.  Their fries are awful, but their tots.  Well within the margin of acceptability.

Napoleon Dynamite showed us anyone can appreciate the glory of tater tots.   They actually keep relatively well over a moderate amount of time whereas French fries get a little more nasty over the same period of time.

Tater Tots.
Well-defined.
Well-loved.