Saturday, February 9, 2013

0 Caribbean Fish Stew

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Served this dish for lunch, twice -- first to a friend during the week and then to two friends earlier today. In addition to the soup, I also fed the latter friends Jamaican Jerk Chicken, another one of my Paleo Fitness recipes, before heading over with them to a martial arts store to buy kung fu shoes. (We are all students from the same martial arts school.) It's been a day of martial arts -- t'ai chi for 1 1/2 hours, kung fu for an hour, a quick 30-minute weightlifting session, and then, finally martial arts shopping. :)

Caribbean Fish Stew

2 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil (1 Tbsp. for sautéing fish and 1 Tbsp. for sautéing vegetables)
1 lb. cod fillets, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces (or use other firm, non-flaky white fish like monkfish, mahi mahi, haddock, halibut, etc.)
1/2 c. shallots, peeled and finely minced (about 2 large shallots)
2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 4 large cloves)
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced (a 2" piece)
1/2 c. celery, diced
1 large fresh bay leaf
6 c. water
1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
3 c. vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about 7 large tomatoes)
6 Tbsp. tomato paste (omit if Paleo)
1 Tbsp. Scotch Bonnet pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 small Scotch Bonnet pepper)
1 c. red bell pepper (about 3/4 large pepper)
1 c. green bell pepper (about 3/4 large pepper)
1 c. okra, sliced crosswise into 1/4" rounds
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. saffron threads
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste (omit if Paleo)
1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely minced

Directions: In a large (12-13") sauté pan, heat 1 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil over high heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium high, then add cod fillet pieces, and sauté 5 minutes per side, or until crisp and golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil on high heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to low, then add shallots, garlic, ginger, celery, and bay leaf, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Deglaze with 1/4 c. water, scrape off fond (brown bits on the bottom of the pan), then add the remaining water and coconut milk and bring to a rolling boil, covering with a lid to boil faster. Uncover lid, reduce to medium-low heat, then stir in tomatoes and tomato paste (if using), and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add sautéed cod fillet pieces, Scotch Bonnet pepper, red and green bell peppers, okra, ground allspice, saffron, ground black pepper, salt, and thyme leaves. Then cover again, and simmer for 5-7 more minutes, or until vegetables are tender but still retain their color. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf, add lime juice, stir, adjust seasonings to your liking, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve immediately, with a side of Swoon-Worthy Sweet Potatoes, if desired.

Yield: About 3 qts. (12 c.), or 6 servings (of 2 c. per person).

Monday, February 4, 2013

0 Recipe #344: Mushroom Pepper Steak

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Made this steak yesterday for lunch. That means I had to start cooking it at around 10 or 10:30 am. That might seem strange to some to start making mushroom pepper steak so early -- and it certainly sometimes feels odd to me too :) -- but that's what needs to be done to get a decent photo. What a gal has to do for good natural lighting. ;) Only one catch: yesterday was really overcast, and it was really hard to get bright enough lighting, except for a brief flash of sun rays, which lasted less than 5 minutes. Thankfully, I was able to take advantage of those precious minutes, but the light still wasn't strong enough for an ideal session. To compound the situation, I didn't really have enough of a time window to play around with the food arrangement as much as I would've liked. Hence the below photo. ;) How's that for honest? :-D

It's not that the above photo is so horrible, (relatively speaking), but rather, just not as good as I would've liked. However, there's no time to fix that now. Got to move onto the next Paleo recipe and get the remainder of the testing done (for the Paleo Fitness book) ASAP! There are only a handful more recipes to test (and photograph) after this one -- and while getting a great photo is certainly a bonus, it's not of the essence right now. The recipes are frankly just more important, because that's what people will see in the book. (Thankfully, none of the Paleo food photos will appear in the book, just on this blog as well as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Pinterest. Lol. I'm insanely busy as is, so it's one less thing to have to be perfectionistic about. And book photos really do have to be perfect.) There have also been so many grey mornings in the past few weeks, but I don't have time to fuss over dish placement or food arrangement or wait for the perfect lighting. This is probably why you see such mixed results here lately in terms of photo quality. There, I said it.

In fact, when Erik saw the results of the photo session, he agreed with my assessment that the dish should probably be reshot, and maybe at some point, it will. (However, now is definitely not that time.) He also said that there were so many mushrooms on the steak that he could barely tell there was a steak underneath. :) Of course, this comment was made after we'd already eaten the steak. Lol. I replied, "That means I'll have to make another steak for a photo reshoot. His response? "Fine by me." :)

So, please just ignore the above photo and imagine a perfectly composed dish with excellent lighting instead. :) Regardless, know this: The recipe tasted good -- it got two thumbs way up from Erik, and really, when it comes right down to it, isn't that what truly counts?! OK, the explanation is over now, I promise. Carry on. :)

(Please note that the recipe featured below is the non-Paleo version, with the Paleo modifications shown in parentheses.)

Mushroom Pepper Steak

Steak Ingredients:
1 8 oz. steak filet (about 3/4-1" thick), at room temperature (remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before grilling)
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns (crack peppercorns with a pepper mill)
2 tsp. coarse ground salt, or to taste (omit if Paleo)
2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp. garlic powder

Sautéed Mushrooms (Ingredients):
1 Tbsp. avocado oil
1/4 c. shallots, peeled and finely minced (about 1 large shallot)
1 c. mushrooms, quartered
1/16 tsp. salt
1/16 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/8 c. red wine* (if Paleo, substitute beef stock or water)

Directions: Preheat grill to high. Mix together all of the steak spices (cracked black pepper, fennel seeds, and garlic powder) in a small bowl. Put steak on a large plate, then sprinkle spice mix on top. Using tongs, grasp steak, flip over, and season on the other side. Then place steak filet onto its side, and gently press it into the remaining spices on the plate, rotating it around until all sides have been thoroughly spiced, and place onto hot grill. Grill steak, with top down, for about 3-5 minutes per side (for medium rare), or until desired temperature has been reached. (Remember that once it's done, the steak's temperature will continue to rise a few more degrees as it rests, so be sure not to overcook your steak.) At about the half-way point, cut into steak with a fork and knife to check for doneness, and flip to the other side when ready. When done, remove from heat and let rest on a heatproof plate for 5 minutes before serving. Divide steak into 2 portions and place onto dinner plates.

While steak is resting, heat avocado oil in a large (12-13") sauté pan and sauté over medium heat for about 60 seconds, then reduce heat to low, add shallots and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper (from about 10-12" or so above, for even distribution), and sauté until tender, about 5 more minutes. Then deglaze with red white (or beef stock/water), stirring continually, and cook for more 5-6 minutes, or until mushrooms are golden brown. In the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add the fresh thyme leaves and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and serve while hot, alongside (or on top of) steak. Enjoy!

Yield: 2 servings.

Chef's Notes: *Regarding the red wine selection, a Zinfandel or Malbec will do nicely, but just be sure that it's nothing too oaky. (IMHO, avoid Cabs and Merlots; they're way too overpowering for this dish.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

0 Recipe #343: Paleo Virgin Mary

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The Virgin Mary is the non-alcoholic version of the Bloody Mary. This drink is a cool and refreshing accompaniment to dishes like barbecued chicken cooked on an outdoor grill.

Made this drink today, right after completing the photo shoot for the sweet potatoes recipe. Of course, as one might surmise from the title, it's for our upcoming book, Paleo Fitness. :)

The below version is a non-Paleo format but contains a simple modification to make it Paleo, i.e., the omission of salt. True to form, this Virgin Mary's definitely got a kick to it. So buckle up, and get ready for a wild ride. :)

Paleo Virgin Mary

4 c. vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about 5 large tomatoes)
1 c. celery, roughly chopped
1 c. carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 c. scallions, roughly chopped
2 tsp. pure white horseradish, ground (or to taste; for slightly less heat, use 1 1/2 tsp. instead)
1/2 c. freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (about 3-4 limes or lemons)
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. coarse ground sea salt (omit if Paleo)
1 c. ice cubes

Optional Garnish Ideas:
4 large leafy celery stalks, cut in half
lime or lemon slices
carrot &/or cucumber sticks (use as swizzle sticks)
fresh basil leaves
red bell pepper slices
garlic, minced or crushed (mixed into the drinks)

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher and chill. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve over ice cubes, decorating each glass with the garnish of your choice.

Yield: 40 oz., or 5 (1 c.) servings.

Chef's Notes: To avoid watering down your drinks, reserve some of the Paleo Virgin Mary beverage, freeze into ice cubes, and use instead of traditional ice cubes.

0 Recipe #342: Swoon-worthy Sweet Potatoes

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This flavorful sweet potato side dish is packed with nutrients. Sweet potatoes are the perfect carbo-loading food for endurance athletes. So, instead of carbo-loading with pasta, which has limited nutritional value, try sweet potatoes instead. They'll give you lots of energy and taste really good too! This recipe uses walnut oil, a Paleo staple oil that's rich in Omega-3's. And, of course, as the many recipes preceding this one, this is yet another recipe I've created especially for the upcoming book, Paleo Fitness. And like the other Paleo recipes before it, this recipe is the non-Paleo version but contains a simple modification to make it Paleo, namely the omission of the salt. :)

I'll be posting several more Paleo recipes over the next few days as I'm trying to wrap up the recipe testing process for this book as quickly as possible. Then, after that, you'll be seeing recipes here from next cookbook, The Athlete's Cookbook (by Brett Stewart and myself). This will give you just a "taste" of the types of recipes that will appear in this upcoming book. Pun intended. :)

Swoon-worthy Sweet Potatoes

1 lb. sweet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed,  and diced into bite-sized (1/2"-3/4") pieces (about 2 medium-sized potatoes; makes about 3 c. diced)
3 Tbsp. walnut oil
1/8 c. (2 Tbsp.) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. cracked black pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp. coarse sea salt (omit if Paleo)
1/8 c. fresh Tuscan Blue rosemary leaves, finely minced (about 2 large sprigs)
1 1/2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 3 large garlic cloves)
1/2 c. shallots, peeled and finely minced (about 2 large shallots)
1/8 c. fresh oregano leaves, finely minced (about 1 large sprig)
1/8 c. fresh thyme leaves (about 2 large sprigs)
1/8 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely minced

Directions: Place all ingredients, except for the oregano, thyme, and parsley, into a large bowl in the exact order shown above, and toss with a spatula or large serving spoon until potatoes are fully coated. Next, heat a large (12-13") sauté pan for about 30 seconds on medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium, and add sweet potato mixture to the pan, evenly distributing the potatoes across the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then add oregano and thyme and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add parsley and cook for a final 2-3 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. Remove from heat, garnish with a few sprigs of fresh parsley, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.

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