Curried Pork Lettuce Wraps – From 2012 Austin Parade of Homes Chef Night

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I was honored to be selected as one of the featured chefs for Austin’s 2012 Parade of Homes Chef Night at the PGM Design + Build home. PGM owner, Edgar Prats, and I later reunited on the He Said, She Said radio program. He’s been begging me ever since for he pork recipe I prepared that night. This curried pork is a test of patience, but well worth the wait to prepare. I originally served this as a one bite amuse-bouche at the event, but it’s especially delicious served wrapped in a crisp lettuce cup. The cool crunch is an awesome compliment to the sweet spice of the pork. I usually will buy an entire pork shoulder at a time (about 12-18 lbs). If entertaining, you can cook the entire shoulder or split the butt (upper part) from the picnic (lower part) and freeze one for a later use.

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Ingredients:
1 pork butt, bone in
1 sweet yellow onion, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 – 12 oz can coconut milk
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 stalk lemongrass, bruise with heel of knife
equal parts Penzey’s Sweet and Hot Curry Powder, about 4 Tbsp each mixed
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 head Boston lettuce

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Season butt completely with curry powder, then sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.
3. In large Dutch oven, heat coconut oil over med-high heat.
4. Sear butt in oil on all sides until browned. Remove and set aside.
5. Add lime juice and coconut milk to Dutch oven to deglaze the pan.
6. Return butt to pan, add remaining ingredients except lettuce, cover and place in oven.
7. Once in oven, immediately reduce heat to 200 degrees F.
8. Cook for 4 hours, basting every 20-30 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before shredding pork butt with fork.
10. Strain pan sauce and save it for remoistening pork if needed.
11. Serve in lettuce wraps by themselves or topped with fresh chiles, your favorite salsa, shredded cabbage or cilantro.

Note: This can also be made in a crockpot. Turn crockpot to high and allow to heat completely. Once this is done, sear the butt in a sauté pan. Transfer pork to crockpot and deglaze saute pan with lime juice and coconut milk as above then transfer sauce to crockpot and add remaining ingredients. Cook high for 4-6 hours or reduce heat to low once all ingredients are added and cook 8-10 hours.

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Faux-lafal… Yep, had to go there…

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Gotta keep with the theme for National Falafal Day with a paleo friendly version I worked up. These make a great side dish, salad topping, or by themselves with some tzatziki sauce. And for another twist on the traditional recipe, check out my good friend Chef Amy over at What Jew Wanna Eat.

Ingredients:

2 cup raw cauliflower, pureed in food processor
1 cup ground almonds or pecans
3 tbsp Penzey’s Greek Seasoning
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 clove garlic, minced
4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
4 large eggs
6 tbsp coconut flour
coconut oil, as needed for sautéing

Method:

1. Mix all ingredients well in a bowl.
2. Form mix into 3 inch patties.
3. Add and melt just enough coconut oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat to coat bottom of pan.
4. Sauté patties a few at a time. Flip when you begin seeing the sides brown.

National Falafal Day!!!

Ok, I realize it isn’t paleo traditionally, but in celebration of the holiday I had to make a stop at one of my favorite vegetarian spots today for lunch, Maoz at The Triangle 4700 Guadalupe.

Now, before I get any backlash, being made from chickpeas, falafal is not paleo. However, more important to me, it is gluten and grain-free. And for the uppity Austin foodies, yes Maoz is a franchise and not born in our backyard. But, they are locally owned and the owner has been there working and chatting with guests virtually every time I have been in. The service is incredibly friendly and their product is always very fresh.

My pick, the Maoz Salad Box every time. At 250 calories to start, you then have a topping bar of tons of fresh produce and homemade sauces to top it without feeling guilty. I definitely recommend checking them out!

Avocado, Citrus and Fennel Salad

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This is a great little salad I like to whip up when it starts warming up outside. The avocados are a no brainer as I always have them on hand and they go in just about everything I eat. A great vegetarian source of protein, avocados contain all 18 essential amino acids to form a complete protein. They are also a great source of high density lipoproteins (the good cholesterol) and have incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Combine the peppery spice of the arugula with the sweetness of the citrus and the fennel’s aroma and it’s a win.

For those who know me, my favorite things to make are soups and sauces, and that includes dressings. There really is no reason for anyone to visit the salad dressing aisle in the grocery store other than to get some ideas of a dressing to make at home themselves in a batch to use and also store for later.

One of the first ingredients to look at in our diets whether it be for weight management, performance or just simply to be healthy is where our fat comes from. Rather than get into too much science here, for now let’s just stick with the refined oils used in salad dressings. When oils are processed, their chemical structures are manipulated by manufacturers in order to increase shelf life, maximize smoke points for high-temp cooking and any number of other reasons. These alterations also increase the likelihood of oxidation of the oil and making them molecularity unstable and potentially becoming carcinogenic free radicals within the body. The list below are oils to avoid and those recommended. Keep in mind that we are only talking about for cold uses. I will spend significant time in another post discussing oils safe for cooking as many listed here like olive oil are very dangerous to cook with for the same oxidation concerns.

Oils to Avoid: Canola, Corn, Vegetable, Soybean, Grapeseed, Sunflower, Safflower, Rice Bran

Oils Recommended: Olive, Sesame, Nut (walnut, pecan, macadamia), Flaxseed, Avocado

Next time you’re at the store, pick up a bottle or two or ten. Read the labels and I challenge you to find many if any at all that do not contain these processed oils. Look especially close at those that advertise being “Made with Olive Oil.” Sure, the are technically made with some olive oil, but there are no guidelines set as to what percentage must be olive oil and what can be the other junk.

The Ginger Citrus Vinaigrette recipe below is a great example of what you can do yourself. The ratio of vinegar to oil is one that can be kept standard for you in other dressings so with that you can get creative and play with other flavors from fruits to berries, nuts and spices. This leaves you in control not only of the flavors you are in the mood for, but also the quality of ingredients you are putting into your body.

Ginger Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 cup blood orange juice (may substitute orange, lime, yuzu or any citrus juice)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon organic local honey
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salad
4 cups arugula, rinsed
1 whole avocado, peeled pitted and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 whole fennel bulb with frond, bulb sliced very thin with knife or mandoline, with sprigs reserved for garnish
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1 grapefruit, cut into supremes

1. Mix all vinaigrette ingredients except oil, salt and pepper into a bowl and whisk together or blend with a hand mixer.
2. Very slowly drizzle oil while continuing to whisk until an emulsification begins to develop. Oil may be added a little faster at this point. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Lay avocado slices across bottom of plate as a base for arugula.
4. Toss arugula, shaved fennel and red onion lightly with just enough vinaigrette to coat but not soak and wilt the leaves. Place on top of the arugula.
5. Garnish with supremes and fennel sprigs.
Note: for added protein, this salad goes GREAT with smoked salmon, ahi tuna or lump crab meat. Enjoy!!!

Tailgate Must Haves… Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

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You can’t have a tailgate without some dips. Now, I do not stress the complete ommission of legumes from one’s diet provided they do not have any preexisting autoimmune or GI issues that coule be further exacerbated by malabsorbtion caused by the phytochems in chickpeas. But, the caloric load in traditional hummus is off the charts. I mean, have you ever taken a look at the suggested serving size on a hummus label before? 2 tablespoon, lol I eat that in one bite! Here is a very versatile alternative to lessen the guilt through 4 quarters of the snacking. Also its a great chance to get creative with flavors like roasted garlic, pumpkin, red pepper, chili n lime. Pick a combo and you can pretty much do it with this recipe.

Ingredients
1 Medium Head Cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 Clove Garlic
1/3 c Tahini
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Coconut Oil, if parchment paper is not available
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Lemon Wedges, Olive Oil & Parsley, for garnish
Fresh Veggies, for serving

Method
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly coat with coconut oil.
3. Toss cauliflower florets in olive oil and spread out on baking sheet.
4. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
5. Remove from oven and cool.
6. Combine cauliflower, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in food processor. Process until smooth.
7. Add water one tablespoon at a time for a thinner consistency, if desired.
8. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley, if desired.
9. Serve with fresh veggies.

Tailgate Must Haves… Buffalo Wings…

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This for me is non-negotiable… I have to have wings with football, period… The best thing is, they are completely paleo friendly provided you bake them rather than fry. You can also cook these in your crockpot for about 5 hours on medium heat, but the oven will give them a much better crispy skin and juicy insides.

Wing Ingredients
2 lbs Chicken Wings
1 tbsp Sea Salt
1 tbsp Cracked Black Pepper

Wing Method
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
3. Wash the chicken wings and pat dry.
4. Sprinkle evenly with sea salt and cracked pepper.
5. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes (time will vary – start watching after 40 minutes and bake until they start to look brown).

Buffalo Sauce Ingredients
3 tbsp Coconut Oil or Butter
3 tbsp Rice Vinegar (yes, this is paleo)
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Hot Paprika
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 Medium Lemon Juiced
1 tsp Sea Salt

Buffalo Sauce Method
1. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.
2. Add the cayenne, hot paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Stir until evenly combined.
3. Squeeze in the lemon and add the vinegar.
4. Take off heat and stir until evenly combined.
5. Set aside or pour into a sealable container for later use.
6. Store in the refrigerator.
7. Once the wings have cooled a little from the baking, place in large bowl or ziplock bag. Add sauce, about 2 oz per 10 wings, and shake until coated.

Cucumber Ceviche Cups

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Ingredients
1 lb seafood, assorted as desired (fish, shrimp, shellfish, octopus, calamari), diced small
1 cup Lime Juice
1/8 cup Red Onion, minced
1/8 cup Cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
1/8 cup Roma Tomato, seeded and minced
1/2 cup Organic Tomato Juice
1 tbsp Hot Sauce, check label for unwanted additives
3 tbsp Cilantro, minced
Sea Salt, to taste
2 English Cucumber

Method
1. Dice seafood, this is best done when almost frozen for cleaner cuts
2. Add lime juice to seafood, mix, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
3. Remove seafood from refrigerator strain lime juice.
4. Add remaining ingredients except English cucumber, mix, season as desired with sea salt and refrigerate.
5. For cups, cut English cucumbers across the width. With a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the center but be careful not to leave the base intact.
6. When ready to serve, fill cups with seafood mixture.

Turkey Meatballs

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Ingredients
1 lb Ground Turkey
1/2 cup Almond Flour
2 Eggs
1 Small Yellow Onion, grated
1/2 cup Carrots, grated
3-4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Parsley
1/2 cup Fresh Basil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Add ground turkey to a medium sized bowl, and add in the onions, carrots, parsley, basil and garlic. Season with fresh ground pepper and a little salt.
3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the meat mixture.
4. Add the almond flour, and mix everything together.
5. Form meat mixture into 16 evenly sized meatballs with your hands.
6. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray and evenly distribute meat balls.
7. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Pan-Fried Shrimp with Dill

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This is a great one as a quick appetizer or serve right on top of a salad!

3 tbsp Clarified Butter

2 lbs Large Fresh Shrimp

¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 Lemon, juiced

1-2 tbsp Dill, finely chopped

Salt, to taste

1. In large skillet, melt butter with 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, then cook shrimp (seasoned with salt) until reddish-orange and firm, about 2-3 minutes tossing and stirring throughout cooking. Set aside in a serving bowl.

2. In small bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice and dill to make a vinaigrette. Pour over shrimp and toss well and serve warm.