Archive | September, 2015

Vacation in Astoria

This post doesn’t feature a recipe, but there’s a lot of food talk and recommendations. I visited my darling daughter Allison and her charming fiancé Michael on vacation in Astoria, New York last week. Among the busy and exciting visits to legendary shops and attractions, we nourished ourselves with many amazing foods. I wanted a couple of this things during this visit: to be able to cook using ingredients from the Union Square Greenmarket, and get to know Astoria a little better. And we did just that.

Tight connection time in Atlanta meant coffee before I left and two Kind bars were all I had before supper that evening. Allison suggested Bareburger and we dined outside. Not only does this up-and-coming chain feature all manner of interesting proteins for their burgers, they feature a wrapper that’s paleo all the way: collard greens! I’m definitely going to steal this idea for a post. Let’s face it. Eating a burger with your hands is half the enjoyment. Knife-and-forking-it isn’t the same experience. And the lightly steamed greens were milder than I expected them to be and proved to be an inspired alternative to the ever present bun. I sure would love to see a Bareburger in Lafayette!

Bareburger wrapped in collard greens

Bareburger wrapped in collard greens

Astoria is becoming a mecca for hip shops and lots of new and interesting restaurants. Allison explained that even just a year ago, most every block contained one or more dollar stores. On our way to the subway, we stopped at the Brass Owl. Owner Nicole Panettieri was there and has a lovely selection of shoes, accessories, beauty products and more. Plus she’s a savvy business entrepreneur who keeps in touch with her customers, closes the shop for customer-group showings and treats her guests to wine and delicious nibbles.

Brass Owl, Astoria, NY

Brass Owl, Astoria, NY

The subway from Ditmars Boulevard is excellent. Since it’s the end of the line, there’s always a seat when you arrive. And the route is super convenient. We didn’t have to change trains to get to all the places we wanted to see in midtown Manhattan. The cars are clean and quiet and it’s a great way to get around the city.

NYC MTA - Astoria-Ditmars

NYC MTA – Astoria-Ditmars

The Union Square Greenmarket  is a cook’s dream. Yes, you can find a restaurant with any—and I mean any—type of cuisine or dish you want in New York City, but this market makes you want to get in the kitchen and start swinging your blades. If you are staying with friends or family, don’t miss the opportunity to shop here.

Union Sq Greenmarket

Union Sq Greenmarket

We found chicken, pork, eggs, every sort of vegetable that’s growing right now, flowers, herbs, fruit: all of it lovingly raised and freshly picked. I adore cooking with my daughter. We play well together. And the meal that night was great. One ingredient we didn’t get at the market was Michael’s Maple Bourbon Bacon. Oh my lord! The man is a smoking genius. Allison makes all sorts of preserves and pickles from her CSA share, the farmers markets and their own courtyard farm. We had several varieties of her delicious combinations. While we were out, Michael started his late-summer beer brew. These two are amazing!!

We made roast herbed chicken, corn maque choux from late summer sweet corn (I figure if it is edible it raw, it’s paleo to me), and green beans with tomatoes and Michael’s bacon. And for dessert there were peaches and Eton Mess. I’ve linked Nigella Lawson’s “recipe,” it’s so easy you hardly need directions. We found strawberries and meringues at the Greenmarket. There is sugar, but not a lot and you could use honey instead. There’s heavy cream as well, but you could substitute the top layer from a can of coconut milk. It was excellent.

Eton Mess

Eton Mess

Allison and Michael's Courtyard Bounty

Allison and Michael’s Courtyard Bounty

Michael's Maple Bourbon Bacon on the Smoker

Michael’s Maple Bourbon Bacon on the Smoker

Michael's Maple Bourbon Bacon on Allison's Morrissey Plate

Michael’s Maple Bourbon Bacon on Allison’s Morrissey Plate

Yeah. So these two don’t just grow their own food, make their own bacon and pickles and sundry other fabulous foods, Allison is a ceramist and makes their own damn plates!

The next day we went to the Museum of the Moving Image. What a cool place! From displays of decades of movie cameras and televisions to interactive exhibits featuring sound editing to special presentations on the Mad Men and How Cats Took over the Internet, this is a museum that’s fun for everybody.

Museum of the Moving Image

Museum of the Moving Image

Afterwards we brunched al fresco nearby at Pachanga Patterson.

The courtyard at Pachanga Patterson

The courtyard at Pachanga Patterson

We enjoyed a Hibiscus Margarita on a warm sunny day and like so many authentic ethnic restaurants there were many, many interesting choices that didn’t mean I had to have to have the ubiquitous salad. If you’re following a gluten-free or paleo-esque diet, often the options are severely limited. Here it was hard to choose and everything was so delicious!

Colorful and yummy, the food at Pachenga Patterson.

Colorful and yummy, the food at Pachenga Patterson.

That night we opted for a light supper and watched the The Hundred-Foot Journey. Well come on now! You can’t expect a couple of knife-wielding cooks to watch something else can you? We do watch other things, too. But I hadn’t seen this film and it was a gem.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey

We found supper at Astoria Bier and Cheese.

Astoria Bier and Cheese Beers

Astoria Bier and Cheese Beers

Astoria Bier and Cheese

Astoria Bier and Cheese

There was cheese, of course, try the Ewephoria if you eat dairy, and one of the many patés and salumi, regardless. Coupled with Allison’s summer squash pickles, this was a memorable meal. I also had a gluten-free beer. It tasted just like the real thing!

The next day we went shopping. We did pick up a few items, but mostly we wandered and marveled. On our journey we found:

Kalustyan’s spice shop. If ever you have wanted any kind of spice, herb, condiment or specialty item to cook with, this is the place. They’re in the process of remodeling and expanding and around every corner is a new trove of treasures. We found plum bitters, chestnut flour, saffron, five kinds of cinnamon and the offerings are not limited to shelf stock. There’s an extensive line of refrigerated and frozen foods, too. It is flat out incredible. One of Allison’s favorite haunts, it’s worth a trip just to be astounded by the vast array of offerings.

Kalustyan's spice shop

Kalustyan’s spice shop

Katagiri Grocery is the oldest Japanese market in the U.S. I love the flavors of Japanese food. And this tiny store is a jewel box of ingredients and foods.

Katagiri Japanese Grocery

Katagiri Japanese Grocery

ABC Carpet and Home is a high-end store featuring furniture, rugs, home décor and just about anything you might use or display in your house.

ABC Carpet & Home

ABC Carpet & Home

For something completely different, there’s the whimsical store Flying Tiger. The store is set up like a walking maze, taking you through imaginatively designed home wares, office supplies, toys and more. Funny and hip, this is a spot for getting unusual gifts to bring back home.

Flying Tiger

Flying Tiger

Also during the trip was a foray into Kleinfield’s, famous for the TV show, Say Yes to the Dress. They were filming when we were there and oh my! So many dresses. We’re not sure about saying yes to one particular dress. But it was spectacular and a super fun experience. The store is all you’d expect it to be. I was surprised at how many people it took to film the show considering there’s only one spot to film.

Kleinfeld's Bridal

Kleinfeld’s Bridal

We fortified ourselves beforehand with gelato from the nearby food emporium called Eataly. If it’s Italian and you can eat it, they have it. From vast displays of seafood and pasta, immense collections of cookbooks, produce, confections, and wine to dining areas all around this enormous space, there’s a mini-Italian vacation right here.

Eataly NYC

Eataly NYC

Finally after walking for miles over a couple of days, we dined outside at one of my favorite restaurants, Taverna Kyclades. The food is fresh and seasoned perfectly. We started with grilled sausage and grilled octopus. I’d always wanted to try octopus, and it has the flavor and texture of lobster tail. With it we had salad and split an entrée of Greek-style shrimp with tomatoes and peppers. It was a lovely night and even though we were on the main thoroughfare of Astoria, the neighborhood atmosphere was relaxed and relatively quiet. This is a must-visit place in Queens, you won’t be disappointed.

Taverna Kyclades

Taverna Kyclades

It was a busy, happy trip. I’m so thankful I had a chance to be with my cherished daughter and am looking forward to Michael’s being an official part of the clan.

 

 

Paleo Football Food

Paleo Apple Crisp

Paleo Apple Crisp

Did I get you with the apple crisp? It’s just as delicious as it looks. Think it might be just the thing for Thanksgiving. And the next get together at the Quebs (my in-laws). The ultimate compliment (I think?) was Harris’s comment, “This isn’t paleo, is it?” Why, yes. Yes, it is! Too good to be true? Nope. Not at all.

But getting back to football. Most football (or movie watching) munchies are of the “no carb left behind” variety, and often do not make for a satisfying meal. An evening game cries out for supper snacking that satisfies. So here’s the line up:

Paleo Football Food

Paleo Football Food

We have meat for sustenance, vegetables for color and contrast and Louisiana and Italy for inspiration! Some raw vegetables with a dip is about all the more you could ask for. Starting with Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus spears, I ramped up my version by adding crunch and flavor with pesto-style ingredients: pine nuts, basil and garlic.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus - Pesto Style

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus – Pesto Style

Then I gave Scotch Eggs a run for the money by using South Louisiana favorites, andouille sausage and pickled quail eggs. The spice and vinegar in the eggs brighten the sausage, and the size is manageable. Most Scotch Eggs are as big as a cat’s head and covered with bread crumbs. But this is football food! We don’t need no stinkin’ bread crumbs!

Andouille Scotch Eggs

Andouille Scotch Eggs

Then we have the Pepperoni Pizza Bites gone paleo. No cheese need apply. None needed.

Paleo Pepperoni Pizza Bites

Paleo Pepperoni Pizza Bites

And finally dessert. If you don’t love this, invite me over and I’ll give your leftovers a good home.

Paleo Apple Crisp

Paleo Apple Crisp

So there you have it. But one more thing: all of these recipes can be prepared ahead and baked as needed. There’s only one oven temperature, so you don’t need to shuffle or calculate. You can serve one item at a time or a few of several. That way there’s not a lot of kitchen work during the show, and you can crank out fresh, hot goodies all night long. If the apple crisp is chilled before the final baking, it might require an extra few minutes to bake. You just have to taste and see if it’s done. Poor you!

I’ll spare you any football related music and go with a collection of eclectic tunes. Enjoy! And seriously. Let me know how you like the apple crisp.

Paleo Apple Crisp
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Paleo Apple Crisp with Maple Ice Cream
So good, they'll think it can't be paleo, apple crisp goes low in sugar, but high in flavor, and paired with coconut milk ice cream, it's a winner for sure.
Paleo Apple Crisp with Maple Ice Cream
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So good, they'll think it can't be paleo, apple crisp goes low in sugar, but high in flavor, and paired with coconut milk ice cream, it's a winner for sure.
Servings
4servings
Servings
4servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter and add 2 tbsp coconut sugar over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick and bubbly. Add apples, 2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until partially cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile butter a medium-sized baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, chopped pecans, remaining butter and remaining coconut sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix until crumbly. Place apples in baking dish. Dot almond flour mixture over the top of the apples. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with Maple Ice Cream if desired.
Maple Ice Cream
  1. In a two-quart pitcher, mix together all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour into ice cream maker. Prepare according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to lidded container and store in freezer until ready to use.
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Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus - Pesto Style
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Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus—Pesto Style
Crispy prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears are dressed up pesto style with pine nuts, basil and a touch of garlic.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus—Pesto Style
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Crispy prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears are dressed up pesto style with pine nuts, basil and a touch of garlic.
Servings
4servings
Servings
4servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lay a slice of prosciutto on an oiled baking sheet. Place an asparagus spear on top. Sprinkle with pine nuts, basil and garlic powder. Roll up. Sprinkle with additional pine nuts.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve
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Andouille Scotch Eggs
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Andouille Scotch Eggs
Fresh andouille sausage and pickled quail eggs give Scotch eggs a whole new taste. Versatile and delicious, small hard-boiled eggs and any kind of fresh sausage provide many variations for a football snack that satisfies.
Andouille Scotch Eggs
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Fresh andouille sausage and pickled quail eggs give Scotch eggs a whole new taste. Versatile and delicious, small hard-boiled eggs and any kind of fresh sausage provide many variations for a football snack that satisfies.
Servings
4servings
Servings
4servings
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Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using 1/8 of the sausage, pat a flat circle in the palm of your hand, thin enough to enclose 1 egg. Pinch the edges to close and roll gently in your hands to make a ball. Continue with remaining sausage and eggs.
  2. Roast for 35 minutes if using qual eggs. Larger eggs will require additional time. Check every five minutes or so until larger meatballs are fully cooked.
Recipe Notes

The proportions for this recipe are based on using quail eggs. Hard-boiled chicken eggs can be substituted and depending on the size will require additional amounts of sausage. I found some fresh andouille sausage which is uncooked and can be removed from the casings. Smoked andouille sausage is pre-cooked and cannot be used in this preparation.

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Paleo Pepperoni Pizza Bites
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Paleo Pepperoni Pizza Bites
Spicy peppers, earth mushrooms, fresh tomato and a sprinkle of oregano top paleo pepperoni pizza bites.
Paleo Pepperoni Pizza Bites
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Spicy peppers, earth mushrooms, fresh tomato and a sprinkle of oregano top paleo pepperoni pizza bites.
Servings
4servings
Servings
4servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place tomato slices on paper towels to remove excess moisture. In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the mushrooms and onions about 5 minutes.
  2. On a baking sheet, place pepperoni slices. Top with a tomato slice, some mushrooms and green peppers, and sprinkle with oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve.
Recipe Notes

Coin-sized pepperoni slices will not work well for this recipe, they're too small.

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Beef Heart Burgers and No-Bake Potato Buns

Hearty Burger

Beef Heart Burgers: a new twist on an old standby.

This menu makes me think of 50s early rock, especially rockabilly. So there’s a punky Spotify playlist for your prep and noshing. Eddie Cochran had a too-short life, but a powerful influence in music. Many music historians credit him for the birth of punk rock by way of his tune, “Somethin’ Else.” Punk is in-your-face and the main course is too—so let’s get to the “heart” of the matter and have somethin’ else for supper.

The prevailing advice is: eat more organ meats. It’s where the great stuff is. But most people are put off by offal. I have my limits, but I also have the motivation to expand those limits since I know how good these foods are for robust health. Plus I have my DH (darling husband) for inspiration because there aren’t any pieces/parts this Cajun hasn’t tried, and he enjoys them all.

First up: heart. I picked up some grassfed/grass-finished beef heart, kidney and liver from Brookshire Farm (Abbeville, LA) at the Lafayette Hub City Market and decided that as ground meat, heart would be simple to incorporate into a dish. With my cheap but effective grinder, it was easy to add this often-forgotten, nutrient-packed meat into my burgers.

Ground Beef Heart

Ground Beef Heart

I wasn’t as intimidated by the raw meat as I thought I’d be. Bless them, the folks at Brookshire Farm sliced the heart prior to packaging, and I didn’t have to deal with a whole organ. I combined four ounces of the ground heart with three-quarters of a pound of ground, grassfed beef.

I wanted a real burger to eat out of hand, and I didn’t want to use a long list of ingredients. Plus I wanted something that I could make on the stove in under 30 minutes. The result is a potato cake that works well and tastes great. I purposely didn’t season the “buns” with anything other than salt, since burger buns are plain. The key to this hack is using only a tiny bit of oil in the pan so the bun wouldn’t be greasy on the fingers. You could use sweet potatoes instead of white, though I’m not sure if they hold together as well.

Potato Buns

Potato Buns

Then I assembled the burgers with garden tomato slices, lettuce, and some fresh goat cheese flavored with herbs and garlic. Along with the burgers I served grilled pattypan squash and melon and cucumber salad—light, refreshing, and no awful offal.

Pattypan Squash Ready for the Grill

Pattypan Squash Ready for the Grill

Melon and Cucumber

Melon and Cucumber

Finally leave to the scientists to figure out the best way to hold a loaded burger so all the goodies stay inside the bun. Here’s a graphic of how to do it:

burger hold

How to Hold a Burger

Hearty Burger
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Beef Burgers with Heart
Grassfed beef heart contributes delicious flavor to nutrient dense beef burgers.
Beef Burgers with Heart
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Grassfed beef heart contributes delicious flavor to nutrient dense beef burgers.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 20minutes 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 20minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
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Instructions
  1. Cut beef heart into 1-inch chunks while partially frozen (this makes grinding easier). Grind into a medium bowl. You can also reduce the heart pieces in a food processor. Pulse in very short bursts, checking every two pulses for consistency. Scrape down the processor bowl between pulses. Do not over process. Ground Beef Heart
  2. Add ground beef and with two forks toss together with ground heart combining the two. Form into 4-ounce patties.
  3. To cook on the stove: heat cast iron or other skillet on medium high heat until hot. Sprinkle surface of skillet with generous dusting of salt. Add patties and cook for two minutes. Turn the patties over and cook for two minutes. Turn patties again and cook for two minutes. Check temperature with instant read thermometer, inserting the tip of the thermometer horizontally through the patties: 125 degrees for medium rare, 130 for medium and 135 to 140 for medium well. Continue cooking until desired temperature is reached. Serve with toppings of your choice.
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Potato Buns
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No-Bake Potato Buns
Easy-to-make, no-bake potato buns for your favorite burger or sandwich—four ingredients, no grains. Sweet potatoes can be used, too, for a paleo alternative.
No-Bake Potato Buns
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Easy-to-make, no-bake potato buns for your favorite burger or sandwich—four ingredients, no grains. Sweet potatoes can be used, too, for a paleo alternative.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
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  1. Using the large holes on a box grater, shred potatoes. On a clean kitchen towel, place a large handful of shredded potatoes and wring out as much liquid as possible. Remove from towel and add to a large mixing bowl. Squeeze liquid from remaining potatoes in batches as needed.Red-skinned potato and shreds - GheeWhizz.com
  2. Sprinkle with tapioca starch and salt. Toss to mix thoroughly. Heat 12-inch skillet on medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp. ghee or oil to skillet, spreading it evenly over the surface with a basting brush. Using a half-cup measure, scoop up potato mixture and place in the skillet. With a spatula smooth the round into a 3-3 1/2-inch circle about 1/3-inch high. Continue with remaining potato mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn potato cakes over and cook on that side for 5 minutes, covered. Remove cover, turn cakes over and cook for 2 minutes, uncovered or until spotty, golden brown. Turn again and cook for 2 minutes more, uncovered. Remove to cooling rack. Cakes can be reheated briefly in dry skillet over medium heat if making ahead of time.
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Pattypan Squash Ready for the Grill
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Grilled Pattypan Squash
Known in Cajun country as ciblème, this vegetable is also called scallop or custard squash. Meaty enough to hold their shape on the grill or in a grill pan, this vegetable is perfect at a summertime cookout.
Grilled Pattypan Squash
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Known in Cajun country as ciblème, this vegetable is also called scallop or custard squash. Meaty enough to hold their shape on the grill or in a grill pan, this vegetable is perfect at a summertime cookout.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 5minutes 10-12minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time
10-12minutes
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  1. Toss squash slices with olive oil, seasonings and herbs. Cook on grill or grill pan 5-6 minutes per side until browned and cooked to your liking. Cut off a taste to check for doneness.Ciblème or Pattypan Squash
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Melon and Cucumber
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Melon Cucumber Salad
Refreshing melon and cucumber salad tossed with lime make a super summer salad.
Melon Cucumber Salad
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Refreshing melon and cucumber salad tossed with lime make a super summer salad.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
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  1. Combine melon and cucumber in a bowl. Mix together lime juice and zest and honey until combined. Pour over melon and cucumber. Serve chilled.
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