Decadent dinner, aioli recipe

19 Apr

Beef kebab prepped by New Seasons and (rather unsuccessfully) broiled by me. Steamed asparagus. And herb-shallot butter aioli, recipe bellow.  

Herb-Shallot Butter Aioli

  • 1 whole egg, fresh and from a trusted source
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Small lobe of shallot
  • A few sprigs fresh marjoram
  • Dash each salt, paprika, mustard powder
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  1. Melt the butter and let cool briefly. 
  2. Meanwhile, put the first five ingredients in the base of a tall, narrow container. 
  3. Pour the butter carefully into the container, leaving a distinct layer of everything else. 
  4. Similarly, add the oil. 
  5. Let stand 15 minutes. 
  6. Immerse a stick blender so the blades are at the bottom of the container. Pulse several times until a pale emulsion starts to form. Slowly move the blender up and down until fully blended. 

I suggest you let this cool before serving, otherwise it’s runny as seen here. Put in a pint mason jar and refrigerate. Use within the week. 

If after refriegrating it’s still too runny, blend in more olive oil a tablespoon at a time.   

Low carb decadent breakfast

18 Apr

Potted crab, breve latte.  

 

What the lyrics to “All About That Bass” should have been

11 Aug

Like a lot of fat girls, I’m disappointed by Meghan Trainor’s summer hit “All About That Bass.” Jenny Trout has a fantastic deconstruction of how much better this song could have been. It could have been the anthem of the body acceptance movement, but it fell flat. So I decided to fix it:

 

Because you know
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I still shake it, shake it
Because I choose to
Cause I got a boom boom that is a joy to me
And I feel comfortable in my own body

I see the magazines, workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got a body body, just raise ’em up
Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says your worth isn’t measured with someone else’s eyes
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
And I won’t ever be sorry for giving this life my all

Because you know I’m
All about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love
Hey!

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them sizeist jerks that
But whether you’re a skinny rail or super mega fat
Hey I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says your worth isn’t measured with someone else’s eyes
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
And I won’t ever be sorry for giving this life my all

Because you know I’m
All about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love

Because you know I’m
All about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love

Because you know I’m
All about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love, no hatred
I’m all about self love
‘Bout self love
‘Bout self love, ’bout self love
Hey, hey, ooh
Because I like this body

EPIC BEAST FEAST

24 Aug

Image

I turned 30 recently. To celebrate, I ate 30 species of animal. I also drank a LOT of sangria.

Aside from feeling like I need to lie down for a very long time, today was one of the greatest days of my life.

Here are the beasts that I and my guests feasted upon, and the form each took:

Anchovies — delicious Caesar salad
Crab — gluten free crab cakes
Clams — smoked clam dip
Tuna — tuna maki (Hawaii style with canned tuna)
Pig — bacon-wrapped dates
Cow — steak tartare with butteraise
Sheep — grilled marinated lamb
Goat — grilled curried goat
Kangaroo — Australian-style meat pies, which I insisted we call “Kangaroo Pouches”
Deer — Medieval style venison pie
Camel — ground camel meat kebabs
Buffalo — “Tanka Bites”
Ostrich — grilled ground ostrich with a sauce from Apicius (ancient Roman cookbook)
Pheasant — roasted whole
Duck — pâté
Chicken — chicken salad
Partridge — roasted whole
Quail — roasted whole
Snails — in the shell with butter and herbs (from Whole Foods)
Mackerel — smoked
Halibut — dip
Herring — pickled
Trout — smoked
Sardines — canned
Oysters — smoked canned ones made into dip
Shrimp — little bitty ones with cocktail sauce
Alligator — spicy jerky
Salmon — smoked, in salad, and delicious grilled
Scallops — ceviche
Flying fish — eggs (which we counted for the purpose of achieving a full 30!)

I also had ground elk, but we ate so much so quickly that I made the executive decision to not cook the elk, lest someone explode. Just in case someone challenges my beast count, I have some turkey breast in the refrigerator and I’ll try to get a nibble into my face before bed. No promises, I’m so full I really feel like I might explode.

I’m going to be eating leftover pheasant for lunch next week.

This is awesome.

Link

Earliest Definitive Evidence of Using Spices in Food

22 Aug

Earliest Definitive Evidence of Using Spices in Food

A 6,100 year old pottery find shows phytolith (plant microfossil) evidence of ground garlic mustard seeds being used to flavor food.

Food experiment of the week: almond milk “ice cream”

9 Aug

I like how when it comes to making ice cream, the paleo types and the vegan types somehow manage to find common ground.

After that amazing but OMG DAIRY FILLED squash casserole, I thought I’d try my hand at a really simple dairy free ice cream solution, store-bought almond milk. I know intellectually that this is about the worst possible non dairy ice cream base. There’s a reason most of us rely on coconut milk, and that reason is creamy, creamy fat. But I have a LOT of cartons of unsweetened almond milk in the house because I use it for so many things (including many of my medieval food adventures) that I figured it was at least worth a try.

So: can you make passable ice cream using commercial almond milk?

Answer: …sort of.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Almond Milk Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Sweetener of choice to taste — I used a whopping 4 T of palm sugar, pushing this right out of the healthy zone and into “planned indulgence”
  • Pinch salt
  • Optional: vanilla extract (be warned the alcohol content can impact freezing)
  • Optional: giant heaping blob of nut butter of choice. I used peanut butter, because I have made peace with the fact that I am not going to give up the Devil’s Legume, but a better choice would be almond butter.

Recipe:

  1. Pre-freeze your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Mine has to be frozen for 24 hours prior to making ice cream, so I just always store it in my freezer.
  2. Place first five ingredients in a mason jar, put on the lid, and shake it like you mean it.
  3. Freeze according to your machine’s instructions.
  4. When nearly frozen, add nut butter of choice and let mix until “swirled” in.

As predicted, this didn’t have a very good texture. I suspect that there are some simple fixes, like adding chia seeds or even gelatin to bulk up the ice cream base, but really, the better option is to just use high-fat coconut milk or even homemade almond milk (which tends to have more fat than the store bought stuff). It was, however, pleasantly chocolatey, and the peanut butter was really good.

I may do some experimentation with hazelnut milk next. Hazelnut milk is one of life’s great pleasures, and I think hazelnut milk chocolate ice cream has the potential to be AMAZING. I could even add hazelnut butter to it for some extra oomph.

Link

Paleo Buttermilk Biscuits?!?!

8 Aug

Paleo Buttermilk Biscuits?!?!

This I have to try!

Squash Casserole: it’s not Paleo, but it’s Effing Delicious

7 Aug

We have a LOT of squash coming off the garden right now. That’s the deal with summer squashes. I even tried to plan for it and I planted “only” four squash plants of a single variety that I know we like (patty pan). How stupid could I be? That’s still a lot of squash! I’ve made stuffed squash (recipe forthcoming possibly), squash in my eggs (this is good), baked squash (if you overseason it, it’s terrible), and more. Better Half staunchly refuses all of these. Her resolve holds steady.

I was craving macaroni and cheese. How could I make something like that, all creamy and full of terrible, terrible dairy but moderately low in carbs? I went searching for squash casserole recipes, played around with what I had on hand, and I hit paydirt. I share this with deep shame: you are searching for paleo squash recipes and you land here? Oh dear. What if we call this a “low carb substitute for macaroni and cheese” and just call it good? Okay? Okay.

Squash casserole

This is the worst thing and also the best thing.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sized summer squashes
  • 1 small to medium onion
  • ~1/2 cup Sour cream (or more if you want a creamier, “looser” consistency)
  • ~1.5 cups Shredded cheese (any variety or combination), divided
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Just a pinch of cayenne pepper

I thinly sliced a bunch of squashes (both patty pans and some yellow crooknecks that we had from the market) and an onion and sauteed them together until “tender crisp” (cooked enough that they would be cooked through but not mushy after baking, and I kind of guessed, really). Then I combined these with “what looked like enough” of the sour cream and shredded cheese, seasoned it, and put it in a ceramic baking dish. I sprinkled some more cheese on top and baked it for twenty minutes.

This is, hand to God, the only squash recipe I have ever made where every MOLECULE got devoured. My wife, my squash-hating wife, asked for seconds. We have a winner, folks.

What’s been going on in the Cave Hedonist’s world

7 Aug

Well, the best way to put it is that I fell of the wagon and it ran over me a few times. A combination of stress, an inevitable injury from running (“Ohhhh, so that’s what all the anti-running sentiment is about!”), and discovering the magical world of gluten free junk food has led to me pretty well fattening myself up.

That’s no good! I was making so much progress, too!

So, time to get back on the wellness train. I’ve started walking again. I’ve ditched grains. I’ve found good sources for my favorite suitable treats (mostly Hail Merry’s tarts and macaroons and Equal Exchange dark chocolate with crunchy mint bars).

I’m trying to manage my stress through a liberal dose of delicious fat. As part of my “radical self care” agenda, today I had my favorite salad (baby arugula, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shredded Parmesan cheese, almond slivers, and salt and pepper) and grass fed steak tartar with butteraise.

The chickens are grown up but not laying. One turned out to be a cockerel, and after much discussion he was “rehomed” (someone else got to eat him, I think is all that really meant) and replaced by a sweet pullet. They’ve eaten our “cover crop” of oats that we planted on the bare dirt around our yard, which has been very cute to watch. In fact, watching the chickens has become my new favorite thing.

The garden is doing marvelously. We are rolling in patty pan squash. We would have heaps of greens, but the chickens ate them. Oh well! My quinoa is nearly ready and we’ve been enjoying fresh (green) fava beans (not really paleo but worth it for me). Artichokes, tomatoes, cucumbers, purple shiso, weird volunteer purple potatoes that just kind of appeared one day, and even a couple of cabbages have all come out of our dirt.

So I’m watching Fat Head again and trying to get back on track.

 

Crepinettes: Caul-Wrapped Goodness

18 Jun

Caul fat, contrary to what you might expect, is not some kind of witch-magic fat that comes from a baby. It is in fact a membrane that wraps around the stomach and intestines of a pig (and perhaps other animals, although I’ve only ever had it from pigs). It’s an incredibly fun kitchen “toy” — it’s typically wrapped around various meats before roasting, and the thin membrane locks in flavors while the tasty fat melts and infuses the meat; for this reason its often used to wrap lean cuts and game. I’m also partial to caul-wrapped liver (especially chicken livers).

Caul can be difficult to obtain. My most recent samples came from helping slaughter and dress two hogs (you can read about this life-changing adventure on my medieval food blog — it was one of the best experiences of my life). Getting to see caul fat in situ was extremely exciting to me — it’s a beautiful, ethereal net, and it’s quite lovely when it’s still fresh in the pig. I’ve also had fairly good luck ordering it from full-service butchers. If you live in the Portland area, the most reliable sources I’ve found are Laurelhurst Market (they have it at the meat counter) and Ponderosa Meats (where it is a special — and expensive — order). It stores relatively well frozen in vacuum-bags.

When you are ready to use it, and once it’s thawed if necessary, simply soak the piece you wish to use in water; some people recommend adding a little vinegar to “freshen” the odor, but I haven’t found this necessary. If your caul is stinky, it’s gone bad or was mishandled during the gutting process. That may be personal bias, I didn’t find the inside of a pig to be overwhelmingly stinky and I’ve always thought of myself as really squeamish about smells (the outside of a pig is VERY stinky).

I have a lot of caul on hand right now (it’s okay to be jealous of that), and so I’ve been trying out different things to do with it. My current favorite is crepinettes — this is a traditional French fresh sausage, where logs or patties of seasoned pork are wrapped in caul and roasted or pan-seared. There are many ways to season crepinettes, if you are going to make them its really worth making a few batches with different flavors. For my most recent round, I did three one-pound batches, each with a different seasoning, and froze each batch in labeled containers to thaw and eat at my leisure. From one pound of meat, I make eight crepinettes. I found I was able to wrap three pounds of meat using the caul from one pig — depending on processing/trimming and initial size of the pig, your mileage may vary.

Here’s a basic recipe for crepinettes, to be adjusted to your preference:

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1 complete piece of caul fat
  • 1 T Kosher salt per pound of meat (I like salty food)
  • Spices to taste (generally 1 tsp – 1 Tbsp per lb of meat, depending on your preferences)
  • Other lovely additions: fresh herbs, dried fruit, and nuts

If you are truly insane, hand-chop the pork shoulder by first cubing it, then whacking away at it with a sharp knife in small batches until it is all finely minced. This yields the best finished texture but it is time consuming, rather exhausting, and will dull your knives (and you need to start with a very good, very sharp knife for it to work). Second best option is to grind the shoulder yourself using a coarse grinding plate in a meat grinder. If both of these are beyond your reach, buy pre-ground pork or ask your butcher to grind the shoulder for you.

Divide the meat into one pound portions to season. As you add the seasonings, knead the meat well as you would for meatballs. Once seasoned, divide each batch into eight equal portions, flatten into patties, and wrap in small pieces of caul, overlapping the edges of the caul to form a seam.

To cook, preheat oven to 400°F, roast seam-side up for 25 minutes, flip, roast for another 15 minutes. The exterior should be uniformly brown and crispy.

I like to eat these on a bed of garden greens (mâche, baby kale, and arugula being my favorite combination so far) dressed with — what else? — butteraise, or walnut oil, salt, and white-wine vinegar (or, if you can get it, verjuice — juice from unripe grapes).

Here are some seasoning suggestions:

  • Quatre epices: pepper, clove, nutmeg, ginger (or cinnamon)
  • Exotic peppers: long pepper, cubeb, and grains of paradise
  • Medieval “powder fort” or “powder douce”
  • Sage, fennel, red pepper flakes
  • I made a particularly excellent batch with a mix of medieval “fine spices” that was gifted to me at a reenactment event, walnuts, fresh sage, and dried cranberries, plus salt. For one pound of meat, I added 1 tsp of the seasoning mix (I do not know what all it contained but I do know it had saffron, which went very well in this), 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts, a large bunch of sage (finely chopped), and 1/2 cup of dried whole cranberries. The cranberries were sweetened, which is frustrating if you’re watching carbs or omitting processed sugars, but added a good flavor dimension.

Here’s a picture of my walnut-cranberry-sage crepinettes, complete with ridiculous garnish (and flourish of butteraise — I’ve started storing it in squeeze bottles, which is possibly the best idea I’ve ever had):

crepinettes

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