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Creole Shakshuka

Creole Shakshuka

Creole Shakshuka

It’s pretty hot in south Louisiana and sometimes a salad for supper doesn’t cut it. But I wanted something fresh and lively. I don’t do breakfast except for coffee. Occasionally I’ll have what amounts to brunch on the weekends, but I love eggs and thought of this dish for dinner. Tunisian in origin, shakshuka is a tomato and bell pepper sauce that has eggs poached in it. While nice on it’s own, I wanted to make it more substantial. So I added some fabulous smoked deer sausage from Kartchner’s and creolized the seasonings. If you haven’t been to Kartchner’s in Krotz Springs, it’s so worth a trip! The boudin is amazing. And the cracklin’s are the best; I refer to them as paleo pig candy. 🙂

Eggs, tomatoes and herbs

Eggs, tomatoes and herbs

If there is a more versatile ingredient than an egg, I don’t know what it is. Eggs can be hard boiled, scrambled, fried, poached, and shirred. If you separate the yolks and whip the whites, eggs are magically transformed into soufflĂ©s and meringues. A wonder of nutritional goodness, eggs have regained their place in the hall of fame of good real foods. And compared to other nutrient-dense ingredients, eggs are cheap. I’d like to think that paleo peeps are a strong reason that eggs are once again recognized for their contribution to health. And one of our goals is to have more grassfed and pastured options in our kitchens. If you don’t have yard birds of your own, or can’t make it to the farmers market, don’t despair, the good news is free-range eggs may become more available. And make this egg recipe! It’s delicious.

To accompany the shakshuka, I thought creamy avocados and bright, fresh citrus would be welcome. So I’ve paired the egg dish with a grapefruit and avocado salad.

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

New music this week … dance, dine and enjoy!!

Creole Shakshuka
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Creole Shakshuka
Creole Shakshuka: quick and easy for weeknight supper, or the star of your next brunch. Paleo, gluten free, low carb and delicious.
Creole Shakshuka
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Creole Shakshuka: quick and easy for weeknight supper, or the star of your next brunch. Paleo, gluten free, low carb and delicious.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 25minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
25minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet, add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage to a plate and reserve.
  2. Add olive oil to now empty skillet and add onion. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and celery and continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and roasted peppers. Season to taste. Bring to a rapid simmer and lower heat to medium low. Return sausage to skillet and combine.
  3. Crack eggs into the tomato sauce, leaving a bit of room around each eggs. Cover and simmer until egg whites are set and yolks are desired consistency, about 5 minutes for runny yolks. Garnish with parsley and green onions.
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Grapefruit Avocado Salad
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Grapefruit Avocado Salad
Juicy pink grapefruit and luscious avocado with a refreshing citrus dressing combine into a perfect summer salad.
Grapefruit Avocado Salad
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Juicy pink grapefruit and luscious avocado with a refreshing citrus dressing combine into a perfect summer salad.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Ingredients
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Make dressing: combine lime juice, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Distribute baby spinach on salad plates. Alternate grapefruit sections and avocado slices on top of spinach. Drizzle with dressing.Grapefruit Avocado Salad
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Steak Diane

Steak Diane with Mashed Peas and Braised Carrots

Steak Diane with Mashed Peas and Braised Carrots

It’s been a wild, crazy six weeks. On April Fool’s Day, Harris woke up needing to go to the hospital. He was in the middle of a heart attack. That’s what 30+ years of smoking will do. What could have been a terrifying experience, turned out to be surreal in the extreme. An hour and half after we arrived, Harris had passed through the crisis. The wonderful people at Opelousas General Hospital were simply the best. And by ten that morning, we were able to see Harris in the ICU. At the next visiting time at three, he actually looked like he’d been sunbathing all morning. His color was so dramatically improved. Of course there were monitors and a blood pressure cuff, an IV for medication, but he was so much better for the two stents … much better. One artery was completely blocked, the other 80% and there’s still a third that has to be taken care of next week. That will be an overnighter, but without the emergency aspect.

The smoking’s over. And Harris is really committed to paleo. He always liked the meals I prepared for him, and he ate well at home. Out at lunch, restaurant dining, and random snacking and soda drinking was a different deal. And when we went to our new MD, the tale was told in black and white … or should I say in green, yellow and red. My lipid numbers (and not just the usual four that most docs test for) were in the green range, Harris’s were mostly yellow and red. It was a dramatic difference.

We’re all good though. I’m so very thankful.

I tried something new with this post. Instead of preparing the meal during the day and being left with re-heatables or lunch that was supper worthy, I decided to take a chance and prepare our dinner, photographing the resulting dishes. And that’s what I did last night. Lighting has been the bane of my photographic existence, and I think I finally came up with a workable solution. Which even means photos as I’m preparing a meal. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops (pun intended).

We often have pan-seared steak, and it needs a sauce or salsa or relish in my view. A charcoal-fired rib eye is ideal on its own, and Harris has his own blend of oak and pecan wood to add smoky flavor to a nice steak. I like the idea of Steak Diane, but many versions don’t quite make the mark for me. My version is very similar, but I think it hit all the right notes.

For veg I thought peas and carrots would be nice. Some paleo peeps avoid peas and green beans, but my feeling is that if you can eat it raw or barely cooked, it’s fine. Our future son-in-law is British and I’ve long wanted to do my own take on mushy peas. With this side, you’ll have a creamy mash, and colorful greens.

Mashed Peas

Mashed Peas

And what is more natural with peas than carrots? These are gently oven braised in broth with a bit of butter and honey … so good! And they’re so tender, you can add back their lovely green tops by inserting parsley stems in the tops of the carrots. This menu is great for steak night Saturday or an impromptu dinner party.

Braised Carrots

Braised Carrots

For music, the menu lent itself to the French for some reason, so voilà! Bon appétit!

 

Steak Diane with Mashed Peas and Braised Carrots
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Steak Diane
The classic Steak Diane with its sophisticated flavors comes together in minutes for a feast of beefy proportions.
Steak Diane
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The classic Steak Diane with its sophisticated flavors comes together in minutes for a feast of beefy proportions.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Trim the outside layer of fat from the steaks. With a meat pounder or heavy skillet, gently flatten the steaks to a 1/3-inch thickness. Season liberally with salt, pepper and cayenne.
  2. Heat heavy cast iron or other skillet over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. (Turn on the vent.) Add tallow to skillet. Carefully add steaks and sear for 2 minutes. Flip and sear an additional 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove steaks to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
  3. Add brandy, if using, to skillet, and with a long match or butane lighter with a long stem, ignite the brandy. Allow the alcohol to burn off. Turn the burner on to medium heat. Add the grated shallots and stir, 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  4. When broth has reduced a bit, about 5 minutes, swirl in the butter until just melted and add the Worcestershire sauce. Turn the heat to medium. Add chives, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Return steaks to the skillet, warming them in the sauce until desired doneness is reached. Serve.
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Mashed Peas
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Mashed Peas
Fresh, creamy and bright: Mashed Peas are a side dish with a difference. Flavored with shallots and the fresh herb of your choice, they're downright delicious!
Mashed Peas
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Fresh, creamy and bright: Mashed Peas are a side dish with a difference. Flavored with shallots and the fresh herb of your choice, they're downright delicious!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Add peas and shallots to saucepan and add 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir, cooking only until peas are warmed through, but still bright green.
  2. Drain the liquid from the pan and add peas and shallots to blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and purée until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Return mixture to saucepan and heat over medium heat until hot. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Serve.
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Braised Carrots
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Braised Carrots
As lovely cooked as they were fresh in the bunch: braised, tender and sweet carrots.
Braised Carrots
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As lovely cooked as they were fresh in the bunch: braised, tender and sweet carrots.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4serving 5minutes 30minutes
Servings Prep Time
4serving 5minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Ingredients
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Ingredients
Servings: serving
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In an oven proof, 12-inch skillet, arrange carrots in a single layer. Add broth, honey, butter and seasonings. Heat skillet over medium heat until broth is warmed and butter is melted.
  2. Cover skillet and place in oven. Roast for 30 minutes or until very tender, but not browned. Check liquid after 20 minutes and add a bit more broth or water if the skillet is dry.
  3. With a small paring knife, make a slit at the top of the carrot. Insert parsley sprig if desired.
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Paleo Fried Chicken and Paleo Strawberry Shortcake

Paleo Fried Chicken: a basket of nourishing, delicious Southern Comfort.

Paleo Fried Chicken: a basket of nourishing, delicious Southern Comfort.

Y’all. When it comes to Southern comfort, fried chicken is king. And for paleo peeps, it’s so hard to turn down the old favorite. But we know better. And now we have it all: perfectly seasoned, juicy chicken in a crackling crisp coating that will satisfy all your fried chicken dreams.

Crispy, crackly Paleo Fried Chicken!

Crispy, crackly Paleo Fried Chicken!

It’s been a long journey to put this recipe together. But I think once you’ve made and tasted this most excellent version, it will be your go-to favorite. It started while I was watching a chefsteps.com video about their best fried chicken. Chefsteps is cuckoo for sous vide cooking. And rightfully so. Here’s the video to see what got my wheels turning. But a sous vide set up isn’t a common kitchen tool, and I wanted to find a way to make the idea accessible to all. Having the chicken already perfectly cooked and then frying the chicken for only a couple of minutes made sense for several reasons.

Now Cook’s Illustrated has a recipe in this month’s magazine for Lemon Chicken that uses the technique of sautĂ©ing the bird pieces until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp, then finishing the cooking in the oven. I made sure to cook the white meat only to 160 degrees F., and the dark parts to 170. Even though the chicken’s final fry is a mere minutes, I didn’t want the chicken to be overcooked. I also used two methods before the fry: one batch of chicken had just come out of the oven and I let it cool down on the counter for about 20 minutes, so it wouldn’t be screaming hot when I put it in the batter. The other batch I’d cooked the day before and refrigerated. I also put it out on the counter, in this case, so it would come up in temperature and not be stone cold. Both worked beautifully.

Paleo Fried Chicken: the first sear.

Paleo Fried Chicken: the first sear.

There’s no standing over three quarts of hot grease for upwards of 30 minutes per batch, and since healthy oils are not cheap,  there’s no need to spend a lot of money on this homey dish. Because you’re only cooking the coating, you only need about a cup and a half of coconut oil (you could also use lard … ummm …. yum!) And it only takes 2-3 minutes per side to achieve crackly perfection.

Ready to batter and fry.

Ready to batter and fry.

So then onto the batter.

This coating leads to Paleo Fried Chicken greatness!

This coating leads to Paleo Fried Chicken greatness!

One of the drawbacks to paleo cooking can be using substitute ingredients for things like wheat flour. Alternative flours often taste like their origin: coconut and almond for example. And these flavors can be very welcome in certain preparations, but truthfully, fried chicken isn’t one of them. Enter the master geeks at America’s Test Kitchen. A few months ago they published a paleo cookbook, Paleo Perfected. There are 150 recipes, most of which are not new approaches to paleo dishes. Scrambled eggs with sausage and peppers, bison chili, pan-roasted chicken with zucchini and tomatoes … these are pretty basic and common. But the few recipes that address flour-based favorites, are what I wanted to explore. And the fried chicken batter delivers in spades.

The downside to the America’s Test Kitchen recipe is that they don’t use whole chicken parts. It’s a recipe for chicken fingers. And let’s face it. That’s okay for kids, but real deal fried chicken means bones and skin. By combining chefsteps idea of pre-cooking, and using Cook’s Illustrated’s sautĂ© and roasting method, plus their paleo batter, I think I’ve got the fried chicken hat trick.

Keep the coconut oil around 375 degrees F.

Keep the coconut oil around 375 degrees F.

Let the crispiness begin!

Let the crispiness begin!

There is just a hint of almond flavor that pretty much disappears after the first couple of bites. And unlike other paleo coatings and batters I’ve tried, this one is actually crunchy. It was still crunchy at room temperature and I re-warmed a few pieces for lunch the next day and the crispiness was all there. Harris loved this chicken. His only comment was that it was too mild. So ramp up the black pepper and cayenne, and use your own favorite flavors … this recipe can take the heat.

I do hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

So what Southern icon could be more complementary to fried chicken? Strawberry Shortcake. Here I used a reader-requested cupcake recipe in Bon AppĂ©tit from the California bakery, Mustache Baked Goods. It isn’t sugar heavy; the texture is perfect; the berries only need a kiss of honey; and the topping is either whipped coconut or heavy cream.

Paleo Strawberry Shortcake

Paleo Strawberry Shortcake

For a tangy, fresh contrast to the chicken, make my Sneaky Coleslaw. Then it’s picnic time!!

Sneaky Coleslaw

Sneaky Coleslaw

With this country meal, you’ve gotta have some country tunes. With the exception of Willie and Merle, the artists are new. I think you’ll like their tunes.

All the flavor and crunch: none of the guilt.
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Paleo Fried Chicken
Paleo Fried Chicken: Never envy the fast food empires any longer. Here it is: crunchy, crispy, juicy and seasoned to perfection. And all paleo, all the time! For superior results, use a pasture-roaming chicken. This recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen: Paleo Perfected.
Paleo Fried Chicken
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Paleo Fried Chicken: Never envy the fast food empires any longer. Here it is: crunchy, crispy, juicy and seasoned to perfection. And all paleo, all the time! For superior results, use a pasture-roaming chicken. This recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen: Paleo Perfected.
Servings
4servings
Servings
4servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Using a meat pounder or a small heavy skillet, pound the thick end of the breast pieces to about 1/2 inch so all pieces will cook uniformly. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the skillet and add chicken pieces. Do not crowd. Make two batches if necessary. Place chicken, skin side down and cook without moving for 8-10 minutes until skin is deep golden and crisp. Remove white meat from skillet and reserve. Turn dark meat pieces over and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes.Paleo Fried Chicken: the first sear.
  3. Add white meat back to skillet, skin side up. Place in oven and roast 10-12 minutes, checking that the temperature of the white meat is just barely 160 degrees F. and the dark meat registers 170 degrees. Remove from the oven. Place chicken pieces, skin side up on a plate and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Alternatively, cook the chicken up to two days prior to frying and refrigerate. About 20 minutes before frying, remove chicken from the refrigerator and set on a plate at room temperature.
  4. To make the batter: in a large bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder, almond flour, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne. Whisk in the seltzer water and let sit for 15 minutes. This is necessary for the batter to properly hydrate.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Or lower the temperature to 200 degrees if you have just roasted the chicken. Place wire rack over a baking sheet and place in the oven. Ready to batter and fry.
  6. Whisk in cream of tartar and baking soda. Using a deep, medium-sized sauce pan, melt 1 1/2 cups coconut oil. Be sure the level reaches just over half way up the thickest piece of chicken. This depends on the size of the pan. If needed, add additional coconut oil. Heat oil to 375 degrees F.This coating leads to Paleo Fried Chicken greatness!
  7. One piece at a time, coat the chicken in the batter and allow the excess to drip off. Gently place the chicken in the coconut oil Do not crowd the pan. The temperature will drop when the chicken is added, but must remain at or near 375 degrees or it will be greasy. Fry chicken for 2-3 minutes or until deep golden brown. Flip pieces over and fry an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken to baking sheet in the oven.Let the crispiness begin!
  8. Continue frying the remaining chicken. Serve hot or at room temperature.All the flavor and crunch: none of the guilt.
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Paleo Strawberry Shortcake
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Paleo Strawberry Shortcake
Paleo Strawberry Shortcake: Light, airy almond cakes topped with honey-sweetened strawberries and whipped coconut or heavy cream.
Paleo Strawberry Shortcake
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Paleo Strawberry Shortcake: Light, airy almond cakes topped with honey-sweetened strawberries and whipped coconut or heavy cream.
Servings
18servings
Servings
18servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 325°. Lightly coat edges of cups and tops of 3 standard 6-cup muffin pans with nonstick spray and line with paper liners.
  2. Use finely ground almond flour or sift regular almond flour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard any large pieces. Whisk in baking powder and ¼ tsp. salt. 

  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and whisk in almond-flour mixture and 2 tsp. vanilla until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes, rotating pans top to bottom halfway through, until a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 15–20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool.
  4. To assemble: cut cakes in half horizontally. Spoon berries on top of bottom half. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Top with remaining cake and top with additional cream and berries.
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Sneaky Coleslaw
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Sneaky Coleslaw
My house recipe for coleslaw. Great with any roast meat, fish or birds.
Sneaky Coleslaw
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My house recipe for coleslaw. Great with any roast meat, fish or birds.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add onion and vinegar. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, add cabbage, carrot, sauerkraut and drained onion. Reserve vinegar for dressing. Mix together the mayonnaise (or olive oil), stevia, and seasonings. Pour over vegetables and toss to combine. Taste, adding vinegar or other seasonings as desired.
  2. Sneaky Coleslaw
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