Thursday, February 26, 2015

Roasted Romanesco with Za'atar Yogurt Sauce

Roasted Romanesco with Za'atar Yogurt Sauce |

Strange coincidence: last year, on January 25th, 2014, I wrote about romanesco in a post entitled 7 Uncommon Vegetables for your Produce Bucket List. I had never seen romanesco in a store. I kept my eyes peeled for it all year, but could never find any. That is, until last Wednesday, when I finally spotted some at my local Whole Foods . . . on January 25th, 2015. Weird, right?

Coming across this gorgeous vegetable exactly one year after posting about it has me wondering if it might be magic. I mean, look at those spirals! According to Wikipedia, the number of spirals on a head of Romanesco is a Fibonacci number, and its form approximates a fractal. How is it possible that something like this exists?

Roasted Romanesco with Za'atar Yogurt Sauce |

In addition to its special properties, romanesco is delicious. I roasted it whole because I couldn't bear to slice it up any sooner than I had to. Its flavor is similar to cauliflower and broccoli, but a little milder and nuttier. And, just like with cauliflower or broccoli, the browned bits are extra delicious. If you can't find romanesco, you could definitely use one of its brassica cousins for this recipe instead.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Meatball "Vermicelli" Bowls

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Meatball "Vermicelli" Bowls |

My favorite thing to order at our local Vietnamese restaurant is bún chả, a bowl of vermicelli topped with pickled vegetables, peanuts, and grilled sliced pork or pork meatballs, served with a generous bowl of nước chấm (sweet fish sauce) on the side. This paleo version hits all the right notes without refined sugar, legumes, or actual vermicelli--the noodles are spaghetti squash instead! I'm not always a fan of swapping spaghetti squash for regular noodles, but it really works in this dish. There are so many flavors and textures intermingling that the squash flies almost completely under the radar.

The star of this bowl is the caramelized pork meatballs, which are by far the best meatballs I've ever made. Last time I attempted Vietnamese pork it was delicious, but nowhere near as good as what I've had in restaurants. I wasn't sure how to get that unique flavor--the one that's at once almost too sweet and almost too savory, but actually just perfect. Then, while doing a little online research, I came across this recipe from Saveur, which involved a very surprising step.

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Meatball "Vermicelli" Bowls |

I never would have tried the technique advised in the recipe if it hadn't come from such a trusted source, because it sounds totally ridiculous. Luckily enough for me and you, though, I did try it, and it was just the ticket. Buckle your seat belts, folks, because we are going to MAKE CARAMEL and put it in the meatballs.


THAT is what I mean by "caramelized".

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mexican Almond Pulp Brownies

Mexican Almond Pulp Brownies |

Have you tried making your own almond milk? It's really good, and nothing like the store-bought kind. I like to put it in my coffee, add it to smoothies, or just drink it plain, alongside a delicious paleo baked good. (If you're not a fan of almonds, you can follow the same steps to make milk using pecans instead! If I had to choose my favorite between almond milk and pecan milk, I would have a hard time).

So, if you have made your own nut milk, then you know about the pulp problem. After squeezing the last vestiges of creamy milk out of the cheesecloth or nut milk bag, you're left with a bunch of pulp.

It's sad to just throw it away. Especially when you could use it to make brownies instead!

Mexican Almond Pulp Brownies |

These Mexican almond pulp brownies are adapted from a brilliant recipe by Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet. (Alanna takes some of the most gorgeous food photos out there, so if you haven't visited her site, be prepared to want to make every single thing.) My version gets its unique flavor from a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper. The result is like a Mexican hot chocolate in brownie form.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Carrot Cake Pancakes with Maple Whipped Cream Cheese

Paleo Carrot Cake Pancakes with Maple Whipped Cream Cheese |

When I was a kid, my parents once let me put frosting on pancakes. I think it was a special occasion, with frosting left over from someone's birthday cake, and it was definitely a one-time thing. But after that breakfast, I was ruined. Nothing else could ever compare.

Paleo Carrot Cake Pancakes with Maple Whipped Cream Cheese |

In case you haven't had the pleasure, let me just tell you right now: pancakes with frosting are the epitome of the good life, the breakfast of hedonists, the ultimate "treat yo'self" meal (Parks & Rec style).

Monday, February 16, 2015

Spicy Shrimp and Kale with Creamy Rutabaga

Spicy Shrimp and Kale with Creamy Rutabaga |

This is my paleo answer to the inexplicable cravings I've been having for shrimp and grits.

Who knows why? I've only had shrimp and grits a few times in my life, but lately they've been totally stuck in my head. Perhaps it's because this coming Tuesday is Mardi Gras, and I wish I could just pick up and drive down to NOLA. When I lived in Houston New Orleans was only a five-hour drive away, and now it feels far enough to be in another world.

The good news is that this dish is just as delicious as shrimp and grits, if not more so, and instead of grits we have vegetables.  Rutabagas for the win!

Also, I snuck some kale in there.  This is hardcore health food.

Spicy Shrimp and Kale with Creamy Rutabaga |

It's also hardcore comfort food.  If there are 80 inches of snow on the ground in your city, or even if there aren't (lucky you--do you happen to have a guest room??), this is just the thing to warm you up on a winter night. The creamy rutabaga forms a bed for plump shrimp bathed in an herby marinade and kale leaves that are crispy around the edges.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

11 Paleo Treats for Valentine's Day

11 Paleo Treats for Valentine's Day |
Valentine's Day (or Valentime's Day, as my students always called it) is right around the corner. Whether or not you're into the whole idea of a romantic holiday, it never hurts to make a special treat for yourself or someone you love, right? Especially a treat that involves chocolate.

Here's a roundup of 11 paleo desserts that are worthy of this special day. In case you're not as much of a chocolate lover as I am, though, I've included several fruity desserts here as well. There's one with both chocolate and fruit, and one with neither (but don't worry, there's plenty of salted caramel in that one).  Three of them are vegan, in case that's what you're looking for.

What are your plans for Valentine's Day?  Are you making a dessert (paleo or otherwise)? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Without further ado, here are 11 paleo treats for your Valentine's Day cooking pleasure!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Breakfast Potatoes

Breakfast Potatoes |  An easy shortcut makes these potatoes faster and more delicious!
I love breakfast potatoes (or home fries, cottage fries, or whatever you prefer to call them), but they take a while to make. It's a rare morning when I wake up with enough time and patience to chop potatoes and wait for them to cook, in the oven or on the stovetop.

That's why I was so excited to read about this brilliant shortcut on Blue Kitchen: microwaving the potatoes for a few minutes with a little water gives them a head start, and they then finish cooking quickly in a skillet over medium-high heat. The best part is that this technique is more than just a shortcut: the potatoes turn out BETTER than potatoes cooked only in the oven or skillet--perfectly browned and crisp on the outside, and tender but not dry on the inside.