Archive | April, 2015

Finger Foods: Shrimp and Sweet Potato Fries

Finger Foods: Shrimp, Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries

Finger Foods: Shrimp, Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries

This week’s menu is all about ease and convenience. And fun! This is a great menu for munching. And dipping. Who needs chips and popcorn? The shrimp is succulent, the asparagus tender with a bit of crunch and the sweet potato fries!! Crispy on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside. What’s not to love?

We’ll start by brining the shrimp: whether your shrimp is frozen (don’t worry if you don’t have the heads-on variety) or it’s “fresh”—a salt-water bath will revive and season to perfection.

Brine shrimp to defrost or refresh.

Brine shrimp to defrost or refresh.

Next we bring together the players: shrimp; long lovely stalks of asparagus and sweet potatoes, these are from the Market Basket in Youngsville:

Finger food ingredients: shrimp, asparagus and sweet potatoes.

Finger food ingredients: shrimp, asparagus and sweet potatoes.

What’s the secret to crispy, sweet potato fries? Start by consulting the experts. In this case, Cook’s Country magazine gave me my best tips. I didn’t follow their recipe, however, because it contains paleo-unfriendly cornstarch and peanut oil. And three quarts of oil, no less! I could do better. I did start with their fist tip: precook the sweet potatoes for a few minutes with baking soda. This softens the taters and roughs up the surface.

Cooking the sweet potatoes with baking soda to rough up the surface.

Cooking the sweet potatoes with baking soda to rough up the surface.

This is what they look like after the initial simmer:

Sweet Pot Fries - Ready to Fry

Sweet Pot Fries – Ready to Fry

Next comes a slurry of water and arrowroot starch. The arrowroot replaces the cornstarch and keeps the party in paleo mode.

Sweet Pot Fries Slurry

Sweet Pot Fries Slurry

Then the fry: just one-third cup of great-for-you coconut oil. Now be warned: the coating might not all stick to the fries … but don’t leave it in the pan! Talk about some crispy love!

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Next the easiest part: Boil up the asparagus and shrimp (it takes mere minutes). And mix up the dipping sauces—you are ready to enjoy a finger-lickin’ supper that’s hard to beat!

Finger Foods: Shrimp, Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries

Finger Foods: Shrimp, Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries

And the tunes? This week’s playlist was created as a soundtrack for my daughter and her beau. Maybe you’d like to plan a trip, here’s some road tunes to get you started. Now playing: Allison and Michael’s Excellent European Adventure!!

Finger Foods: Shrimp, Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries
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Finger Foods: Shrimp, Asparagus and Sweet Potato Fries
Sometimes you just want to eat with your fingers. Or munch and dip, but still want a nutritious, delicious meal that's paleo. It takes only a few minutes to cook, and is as easy as it gets. Whether you're watching the game or a movie, or just want to play with your food, this menu is sure to please.
Finger Foods: Shrimp, Asparagus and Sweet Potato Fries
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Sometimes you just want to eat with your fingers. Or munch and dip, but still want a nutritious, delicious meal that's paleo. It takes only a few minutes to cook, and is as easy as it gets. Whether you're watching the game or a movie, or just want to play with your food, this menu is sure to please.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 5minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Prepare sweet potato fries (recipe on recipe page). Place on wire rack over rimmed baking dish, season and place in oven.Sweet Potato Fries
  2. In a large bowl, add shrimp and 1 tbl. salt, cover with cold water and allow to soak for 30 minutes to one hour. This is the best way to defrost frozen shrimp and will refresh unfrozen shrimp, too.
  3. Bring a large Dutch oven or stock pot filled three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tbl. each of salt and cayenne pepper.
  4. While water is coming to a boil, prepare dipping sauces. Melt butter in a small pan, add half the grated garlic, squeeze a wedge of lemon into the butter and season to taste.
  5. In a small skillet, add 1 tsp of oil oil and heat over low heat. Add remaining garlic and cook for 30 seconds, just until fragrant, do not let brown. This is to mellow the flavor of the garlic in the olive oil. Add garlic to remaining oil and season with crushed red pepper flakes.
  6. When the water begins boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and add asparagus. Cook until tender crisp about 5 minutes or until desired texture is reached. Remove asparagus with tongs or a slotted spoon to a platter and set aside. Cover with foil and place in oven to keep warm.
  7. Add shrimp to simmering water and cook until shrimp are done, about 3-4 minutes depending on the size. Peel one shrimp and taste to ensure it's cooked to your liking. Don't overcook or the shrimp will be rubbery.
  8. Plate and serve with dipping sauces.Finger Foods: Shrimp, Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries
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Sweet Potato Fries
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Sweet Potato Fries
Crispy sweet potato fries - paleo and easy to make.
Sweet Potato Fries
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Crispy sweet potato fries - paleo and easy to make.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 5minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add baking soda, reduce to simmer. Add sweet potatoes. Cook about 3-4 minutes. Drain. Set aside to cool. They shouldn't be hot for the next step.Cooking the sweet potatoes with baking soda to rough up the surface.
  2. In a bowl large enough to hold the sweet potatoes, add 1/4 cup water and arrowroot powder. Mix to combine thoroughly. Add sweet potatoes and mix the sweet potatoes until completely covered in the slurry and the liquid turns light orange.Sweet Pot Fries Slurry
  3. In a 12-inch skillet, heat coconut oil over medium high heat. With tongs, transfer sweet potatoes to skillet, allowing the liquid to drain off into the bowl before adding to the skillet. Do not crowd pan. Adjust heat so that there is a constant bubble surrounding the sweet potatoes, but they do not burn. Using a thin-bladed spatula, continue cooking, flipping each wedge, until crisp and the interior is soft, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper to taste. Sweet Potato Fries
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Finally! Tender Grass Fed Steak!!

tender grassfed steak menu and recipes

No chewy, no more! Enjoy tender, juicy grass fed steak with this easy hack.

More and more, consumers are able to find humanely raised beef in farmers markets and grocery stores. As people turn to real foods, they want quality in all dimensions of their carefully sourced ingredients. Ruminant animals like cattle are meant to eat grass. It’s what they enjoy and it results in meat that is higher in important nutrients than corn fed beef.

(Not so) fun fact: the same recommendations Americans get from the USDA’s food pyramid/plate has the same high ratio of grains and carbohydrates that conventional beef producers use to fatten their cattle. I’ve been a big proponent of grass fed beef and when the meat is ground, it is indistinguishable from conventional ground beef. Other cuts, not so much.

Grass fed beef is dense, and has to be cooked in a slightly different way, so it will yield the same juicy, tenderness that we’ve come to expect from steaks, roasts and stews. I’ve tried many ways to accomplish this, and finally it occurred to me that the principles of sous vide cooking might be the answer. I tried the experiment and it was a glowing success. And here’s a springtime grass fed steak dinner that’s sure to please:

 

Beef for dinner: paleo grass fed steak, herbs and vegetables.

The bounty of spring and a surprising technique result in a tender, juicy grass fed steak dinner.

Protein foods like grass fed steak, fish and poultry are tricky because the perfect temperature on the interior of food is so much lower than the cooking temperature. Grilling a steak at 500 degrees F. to yield a medium rare interior of 125-130 degrees F. is a delicate balance between achieving a crisp brown crust and  juicy, red/pink meat. But what if your primary cooking temperature was 125 degrees? You wouldn’t pass the perfect zone in the first place. And searing the meat would simply add the sizzle to the grass fed steak.

Sous vide, or cooking with water, is how that’s done. Sous vide means “under vacuum” and professional chefs vacuum seal their cooking pouches before adding them to the water, but it really isn’t necessary. There are dedicated sous vide ovens and devices to turn your own pots into sous vide cookers, but it’s simple to hack:

A simple set up for making sous vide grass fed steak tender and juicy.

Sous vide cookery from simple tools in your own kitchen: tender, juicy grass fed steak.

All you need is a Zip Lock Freezer bag (BPA free and temperature safe to 180 degrees F.), a pot large enough to contain the food with ample water, and a good thermometer. Elevating the pot makes controlling the temperature easier.

The process couldn’t be simpler. Sear unseasoned steaks for a minute on each side, add herbs, olive oil or butter or ghee and steak to the Zip Lock Bag—no salt yet! Salting the beef prior to sous vide cooking can make the meat taste “hammy,” or as if it had been cured like ham. Gently cook for an hour and a half at 130 degrees F. It’s a long while, but you don’t have to tend to anything.

Sear grass fed steak briefly before sous vide cooking.

Sear grass fed steak in oil, but no seasonings for a minute on each side.

After the sous vide portion of the show, season and sear a second time for a crisp, brown crust:

 

Tender grass fed steak seared after sous vide cooking.

After sous vide cooking, season and sear grass fed steak to perfection.

And how about those herbs? Make a delicious chimichurri sauce for a bright, herbal contrast to the rich meat:

Chimichurri sauce for grass fed steak.

Brighten your grass fed steak with a bold, herbal chimichurri sauce.

Serve carrots and summer squash with your steak:

Roll cut carrots and squash quarters.

Lightly cooked carrots and summer squash round out the meal.

And what about dessert? It’s strawberry time in Louisiana, how about a paleo strawberry mousse?

 

Paleo strawberry mousse ingredients

Paleo strawberry mousse from just a few ingredients.

 

Dessert is served:

Paleo Strawberry Mousse

Paleo Strawberry Mousse

tender, juicy grass fed steak menu and recipes
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Finally! Tender Grass Fed Steak!!
No chewy, no more! Enjoy tender, juicy grass fed steak with this easy hack.
Finally! Tender Grass Fed Steak!!
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Rating: 0
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No chewy, no more! Enjoy tender, juicy grass fed steak with this easy hack.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 5minutes 1 1/5hours 1 1/5 hours
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 1/5hours 1 1/5 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Sous Vide Steak
  2. Fill a large, deep saucepan three-fourths full of water. Heat water to 130 degrees F, reduce temperature to very low, check that temperature does not increase above 130, elevating pan on another pan if necessary or moving the pan off the heat so that only a portion of the pan bottom rests on the burner.A simple set up for making sous vide grass fed steak tender and juicy.
  3. Preheat cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium high heat. Brush steaks with olive oil. Sear on each side one minute. Put each steak into a Zip Lock Quart-Size Freezer Bag. Divide remaining olive oil among the bags, add a sprig of herbs, if desired.Sear grass fed steak briefly before sous vide cooking.
  4. Squeeze as much air as possible from the bags, and add to pot of water. Initially the water temperature will be reduced, don't adjust the heat as the long cooking time will bring the heat back to 130 degrees. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Preheat cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Remove steaks from bags and sear 2 minutes on first side and 1 minute on second side. Serve with Chimichurri Sauce.Tender grass fed steak seared after sous vide cooking.
Chimichurri Sauce
  1. Mince herbs. Add olive oil, vinegar, garlic or shallots and season. Mix well. Recombine before serving over steak.Chimichurri sauce for grass fed steak.
Carrots and Summer Squash
  1. Roll cut carrots by making a cut on the thick end of the carrot at a 45-degree angle. Roll the carrot toward you and make the second cut. Continue until carrots are all cut. Pieces will all be similar size and cook evenly.Roll cut carrots and squash quarters.
  2. Add ghee or olive oil to pan with carrots, season and cook over medium low heat for about 10 minutes or until preferred tenderness is reached. Can be rewarmed before serving.
  3. Add summer squash to pan with heavy cream or coconut milk. Season. Cook, uncovered, over low heat until cream is nearly gone and squash is tender. Can be rewarmed before serving.
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Paleo Strawberry Mousse
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Paleo Strawberry Mousse
Fresh, seasonal fruit and a few simple ingredients: paleo strawberry mousse.
Paleo Strawberry Mousse
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Fresh, seasonal fruit and a few simple ingredients: paleo strawberry mousse.
Ingredients
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Ingredients
Servings:
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add red wine and gelatin, stir and let gelatin soften for five minutes.
  2. In blender jar or bowl of food processor, add all ingredients. Purée until smooth. Divide into four serving dishes. Chill until firm, about two hours.Paleo strawberry mousse ingredients
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