appetizers

Ants Climbing a Tree – Paleo Asian Noodle Dish

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free  * Paleo ~~

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Ma Yi Shang Shu –

Ants Climbing a Tree

What a horrible name for a dish!  Don’t blame me…this is a pretty traditional Sichuan dish and that’s what it’s called.  In my book, it’s also called delicious.

When you look at the ingredients you may doubt that this is strictly a Chinese dish because who ever heard of tahini or maple syrup in Chinese or Asian cooking?  Of course coconut aminos and fish sauce are not traditional Chinese ingredients either, though fish sauce is used widely in other parts of Asia.

4 ounces paleo noodles

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

 2 tablespoons coconut aminos

2 tablespoon maple syrup

1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon  dry sherry, optional

1 tablespoon tahini

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon chili oil

1 12 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil

1/2 cup (4 ounces) ground meat (pork is usually used but any meat will be fine)

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

2 teaspoons sesame or chili oil

Cook noodles according to package directions (assuming they are in English or boil until soft); drain.

In a medium bowl, stir together the stock, coconut aminos, maple syrup, fish sauce, sherry, and tahini;  set aside.

Heat coconut or olive oil in a wok or large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add pork; cook, breaking up meat, until browned, 5–7 minutes.

Add liquid mixture; bring to a boil. Add noodles; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half, 8–10 minutes more, and stir scallions and chili oil.

 

 

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Lightly Curried Asparagus Soup

Wheat free * Dairy free * Gluten free * Paleo *  Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve~~~

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So, as happens all too frequently, I just couldn’t resist a bargain bunch of asparagus –    even though I had no particular use for them. I brought them home, put them in the refrigerator (I didn’t put them into a green bag that would have extended the life until I really wanted to use them) and 3 days later they are looking sad.  Soup, of course is the great burial ground of dying vegetables – so I took all the sad things I had in the fridge – 1 pathetic leek, 1 mangy stalk of lemon grass, and the drooping asparagus.  Sounds appetizing, yes??  Unbelievably this is now one of my new favorite soups! In my first recipe test I had red pepper flakes but it made it  pretty spicy  so I eliminated them from the recipe – you may want to include some if you like your soup spicy.  If you can eat dairy – this soup would be yummy garnished with yogurt.

Enjoy!

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I Love My Julienner – Zucchetti (Zoodles or Zucchini Spaghetti)

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There are many ways to julienne vegetables.  If you have divine knife skills, you need nothing more than a sharp knife and a cutting board.  The chef or gourmet cook probably uses a mandoline – a very sharp and scary instrument that sits in my closet, never used.  There are many types of mandolines varying in price from a few hundred for the classic stainless steel ones to $20 for a plastic one.  Of the less expensive mandolines, I prefer the box type mandoline because it collects the shredded item in an attached container (box).  If you are interested in the box model, Amazon is including 2 ebooks and a video in the $19.99 price…and BTW I couldn’t resist and bought one just now when I went to find a link for you!  Okay, so let’s say I LOVE this mandoline, what about the julienner I writing about in this post.  Will I still LOVE it?

I think the answer is yes.  Yes, because it’s small and doesn’t take up much storage space.  Yes, because you don’t have to clean a bunch of parts just to julienne one zucchini.  Yes, because it does an awesome job and for zucchini it makes really long shreds and I won’t know about the box mandoline until I get mine and try it.

So let’s talk about Zucchetti aka Zucchini Spaghetti.  As you can see, it’s long thin strands of zucchini, cooked and used instead of spaghetti.  It surprises me to tell you that I prefer zucchetti to spaghetti.  The lightness and freshness of the flavor makes real spaghetti seem clunky and heavy in comparison.

Be sure to saute the zucchetti just long enough for it to be softened.  Over cooking it tends to make the strands collapse into each other…still edible but less appealing.  You can saute it in olive oil and garlic for a simple dish.  Or you can add any sauce that you usually like on pasta.  I find meat sauce (recipe coming next week) my favorite but pesto or mushrooms are also delish.

Have fun and enjoy this healthy dish.
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Lamb Stuffed Eggplant

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free *  Paleo ~~

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I’m publishing this recipe at the request of my friend Paula W.  We had a dinner date this week and I realized  I’d been doing a lot of cooking and had a refrigerator full of recipe tests in need of a taster (beside myself).  I’m happy to report that they were all delicious!

This particular dish was Paula’s favorite and she has already called me for the recipe…so Paula, here it is.

Hope you love it too.  Enjoy!
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Out-of-This-World Company Salad

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo ~~        

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What is company salad?  Salad that is a little too bothersome to make for just myself (too many ingredients, too much prep time, or too expensive) but is perfect to impress company.  So  who did I want to impress with this salad?

Let’s take a step back.  Those of you who know me well may want to sit down before reading on…I went out of town this weekend.  Shocking, I know.  It’s only taken me ten years to leave the city and visit my friend Lorraine and her husband Pete at their home on one of the finger lakes in upstate New York.

I got there Friday night and the visit was timed so I could attend the Howard Day Parade, an annual event that Lorraine, as town librarian, participates in.  It was a short but sweet parade, a bunch of tractors, vintage cars, the library group and a float from the Howard Historical Society.

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The next event was a dance recital followed by cake in the library.  It was fun meeting the library staff and other of Lorraine’s friends.  Following the recital was the annual “chicken lunch” served in a local hall (we took ours home to eat).

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Then Pete drove us to a wonderful farm stand they frequent.  The tomatoes were divine, we bought beautiful wax beans, sweet-sweet blueberries and I can’t remember what else.

Being a good guest, I brought them NYC bagels and a brisket (I think a good brisket is really hard to find).  So Saturday night I was the cook.  In addition to the brisket we had fresh local corn, Roasted Green Beans with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar (that I posted 2 weeks ago) and Company Salad.

When I started to prepare the dinner we discovered that the wax beans (I was using the yellow beans instead of the green beans) had either been left at the farm stand or lost somewhere on the way home.  Pete insisted on going back to the farm stand to get more beans for us.

Lucky for me Lorraine has a home filled with lots of healthy goodies.  She had a pile of beets she had roasted before I came, avocados that were ripe, 2 oranges (though I used just one of them), a few lovely bing cherries, and a box of organic salad greens.  Of course she had lots of other things I could also have used but I was really good about editing myself.

The pistachios were the only thing I wanted that wasn’t in the house so we called Pete and asked if he would pick up the nuts while he was getting the beans.

Dinner was delicious but the star of the show was the out-of-this-world salad.  Hope you love it as much when you make it!
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Mussels in Thai Green Curry Sauce

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Paleo ~~~

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I really love the fish department at Whole Foods, so whenever I’m there I check it out to see if something is calling to me.  This week it was the mussels – they were the small ones that I prefer (though I know many people live the larger meatier ones).

I usually try to buy only wild caught fish, mussels are the exception.  The difference between farmed and wild caught mussels are….sand – and lots of it.  Although I rinse and scrub my mussels before cooking them, no matter how hard I work there is always at least a few gritty mussels.  Now I like gritty people just fine, but gritty shellfish (or vegetables for that matter) are just not acceptable.  To explain the difference between farmed and wild here’s a piece from Sunset magazine  http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/flavors-of-the-west/seafood-farmed-or-wild :

Mollusks

Clams, oysters, scallops, mussels are the ideal farmed seafood. In the wild, they may be harvested using hydraulic dredges, which rip up the ocean floor.

Farming, on the other hand, involves either raising the mollusks on beaches and hand-raking to harvest, which has very little impact on the beach itself; or growing them on strings hanging from floating platforms or in metal-mesh sacks laid on floating racks, neither of which does any environmental damage whatsoever.

Moreover, these little bivalves eat plankton, so do nothing to deplete other fish populations. And best of all, they’re filter feeders, leaving the water cleaner than it was before.

Now about the sauce…I use store-bought Thai green curry sauce (I bought it at Whole Foods but I know they also carry it at Trader Joe’s and most gourmet stores have it in their Asian section or of course you can find it online).  I don’t feel guilty about buying it prepared as there is a large list of “unusual” ingredients that goes into it like galangal, lemon grass, coriander roots, and shrimp paste.  Surprisingly the prepared pastes are generally paleo.  Check the label before you buy it.

This is one really delicious way to prepare mussels.  Enjoy!
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Roasted Green Beans with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo ~~       

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Another recipe straight from my expedition to the farmer’s market .  The green beans just looked too perfect to pass up and the grape tomatoes were sweet as candy.  These are great served warm or cold and are another of those recipes perfect to bring to a picnic or pot luck.

I’m feeling kind of stuck here for a longer narrative to share with you about this recipe or these ingredients, but this is just a straight forward recipe I created because I had great ingredients on hand.

It may not be an especially beautiful dish but it’s taste makes up for its looks.  You’ll love it – really!

Enjoy!
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Red Cabbage and Sweet Potato Salad

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo ~~        CIMG2617-001

Cook outs, picnics, barbecues, pot lucks.  Summer is the ideal time of year for entertaining and parties.   I have a dim memory of having a salad something like this at my friend Paula’s house for Thanksgiving.  She said she was tired of all the standard sweet potato recipes and made this salad instead.  I thought the combination of ingredients was amazingly delicious – which is why I remember it all these years later – but I am sad to report it ‘s not a good vehicle for the roasted marshmallows that usually come along with sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving.

How did I get side tracked from summer entertaining?  I brought this salad with me to a pot luck and it was a BIG hit.  In fact, although I say it serves 6 to 8 – it was completely polished off by six women of a certain age.  The good news is this recipe is easily doubled if you are cooking for a crowd.

Happy summer outing – enjoy!
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Really Divine Green Gazpacho

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With summer completely here there’s nothing nicer than a chilled soup to start a meal or have as a snack.

I was sitting in my allergists waiting room with nothing in particular to do.  Usually her magazine rack is filled with sports stuff and gossip magazines – none of which interest me.  This week, however, she had a copy of the Food Network Magazine.   I was thrilled to see it as I’ve had a “special offer” from them sitting on my “to do” pile for weeks.  I wasn’t sure I wanted or needed another food magazine especially since most of the recipes in these publications are not suitable for a paleo diet.

One of the articles featured  3 different gazpacho recipes.  I was interested in that article because most of the authentic recipes include plenty of bread.  I was delighted to find that these did not.  In fact they were very nice and slightly unusual.  Two of the recipes included grapes – something that I would never have thought using, but upon reflection seemed an interesting idea.  The recipe for green gazpacho also included avocado.

It’s not that often I am inspired to run home and try something I’ve seen in a magazine, but since Fairway is just a few steps away from my allergist’s office, I stopped in and picked up the necessary ingredients and Voila!

I think this is a pretty delicious form of gazpacho.  The grapes give it a subtle sweetness and the avocado a really creamy texture.   The toasted almonds (I know they don’t look toasted in the photo, but trust me – they are)

BTW I subscribed to the magazine today   : )

Enjoy! (more…)

Paleo Passover Potato Kugel with Shallots

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Parve * Paleo ~~

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Last Passover my friend Hadley and I decided to have a leftovers dinner.  Since we each held a seder in our homes, we were unable to attend the other’s seder and this way we could at least taste what the other had served.

Now, not to be boastful, I am an awesome cook and the food at my seder was amazing.  We both made pot roast from brisket and used approximately the same recipe so that was a wash.  Our Tzimmes’ were both delicious in different ways – mine had a very deep richness and Hadley’s had a fresh quality to it that I liked (so much that I’ve made it for this year).

Our menus diverged at the kugels.  I made a matzoh kugel using matzoh farfel, chopped carrots, onions, celery, and parsnip.  I moistened it with vegetable broth and olive oil and seasoned it with salt, pepper, chopped parsley and dill, and poultry seasoning.  This dish has been a hit for the past 15 years – but then I tasted Hadley’s potato kugel and I was blown away.  It was the best potato kugel I had ever tasted.  The other thing about it was it’s paleo and I can eat it!

So here is the recipe with very significant changes but equally fabulous results!  Enjoy! (more…)