Voted MDD (Most Delicious Dish):  Chorizo Empanadas

Voted MDD (Most Delicious Dish): Chorizo Empanadas

Make Chorizo:

  • 2# ground pork
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 t cumin
  •  ½ t clove
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ c paprika of choice
  • 1 T c dried oregano
  •  1T meat spice (you can buy this from me.  If you don't have it, replace with 1T kosher salt and 1T salty tears of the ill-prepared)
  • ¼ c scant cider vinegar mixed with ¼ c scant ice cold water

Mix all the spices into the vinegar / water mixture.  Massage into the meat until thoroughly distributed.

Make Filling:

  • 1 onion, yellow or white, small dice
  • 2-3 green pepper, small dice--you want equal parts onion and pepper
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, minced (yep, a bulb, not a clove.  This recipe isn't for the faint)

Saute onion and pepper in coconut oil until it wilts and starts to color.  Add chorizo and cook thoroughly, stirring and chopping with spatula to keep in small chunks.  Add garlic and stir another minute until garlic smells amazing and meat is done.  Set aside to cool.

Make Empanada Batter:

  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 1.5 c tapioca flour

Mix to make batter.  Cook ¼ c in non stick pan over medium until firm enough to move.  Slide onto pan lined with parchment and dusted with almond flour.  Spoon cooked meat mix into middle and pinch closed, using the parchment to help fold closed. Brush w/ egg wash, sprinkle with chopped almonds, and transfer to a baking sheet dusted with almond flour.  Repeat until you are out of batter.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until crispy.

What do pirates and constitutionalists have in common?  RUM!

What do pirates and constitutionalists have in common? RUM!

Caribbean food is known for its sun-soaked, spicy flavor profile.  To avoid spice overload and help you eat more, wash it down with a refreshing rum punch!

Rum punch has a rich history, not only in the rowdy, pirate infested seas, but in Colonial American.  Lack of refrigeration led to quick fruit spoilage.  Even beer spoiled quickly! So early Americans saved their fruit, and prepared for their next social gathering by mixing rum into the fruit.  This activity not only saved the fruit, but stretched the rum out, making the parties last longer!  Seems necessary, since early Americans could apparently drink with the best of them:  According to one account, a post-Constitution-signing party devoured 14 large punch bowls amount 55 partiers!

Many rum punch recipes are made with fruit juice, mixed with sugary syrups.  At the next Sprouts dinner, we’re going back to the basics: smashed ripe fruit and rum.  Maybe we’ll stretch it with some coconut water or soda water so we can sip all evening without becoming surly pirates or tipsy constitutionalists.

By leaving in the whole fruit, we’ll have the benefit of the fiber, and will ingest the “whole food,” not just the juice.  There is a study, released by the BBC, showing that putting fruit in alcohol ramps up the antioxidant release of the fruit.  Of course the health benefits of this could be offset by the consumption of alcohol, but if you’re going to drink, might as well have some health benefit, even if it’s wobbly.

Cheers!  See you around the dinner table!

Food + Friends = Community

Ever since early humans invented fire, and then huddled around it to share meals, I imagine that meal times became critical community-building events.

There are different styles of meal-based community.

Familial

A household member prepares a meal, and the rest of the family members eat what's prepared.

This has several variations.  

  • Sometimes parents work together, sometimes they take turns, sometimes meal preparation falls solely to one parent.  
  • Sometimes kids are involved in the preparation, sometimes they just arrive for mealtime.  
  • Sometimes food is prepared, but family members arrive and depart on different flight paths, and don't share any community.
  • Sometimes food is prepared and enjoyed in front of an electronic entertainment device, also limiting community building

Public

You go to a restaurant to enjoy a meal with friends or family.  The meal has a "special" feel, even if it's something you do frequently, because you have choices you normally wouldn't have, and someone else is doing all the work.

  • Your table community, regardless of newness (first date? 50th Anniversary) has a temporary, celebratory feel that makes conversation easy and relaxed
  • You develop near-remote community with nearby tables as you ogle what they have chosen, and perhaps suffer from buyers remorse when their salad looks better than yours
  • You develop a temporary relationship with your support staff, the success of which depends entirely upon the ability of your server to connect with you.
  • There is a distant relationship between the people who prepared your food, and you.  You are ingesting their gift; their craft; their temporary art installation.  The love that goes into the preparation directly affects your experience, and your emotions about the whole experience.

Team

 Whether it's Thanksgiving, a 4th of July Potluck, or another special event, there is a special type of community that forms when a group of people prepare a meal together, and then sit down and eat it together.

  • Those with unique talents get to share them with others, and we all learn from each other, making everyone stronger.
  • We learn about likes and dislikes, and learn to collaborate for a meal everyone will enjoy
  • By participating in the craft, the creation of a temporary art installation together, we are both artists, and patrons of the art
  • As with any team activity, a successful meal, especially pulled off in difficult situations, with high stakes, or within a timeline, leads to a feeling of victory, and a strengthening of the team.

We are working to develop and strengthen temporary or transient communities.  We are getting to know each other, and having a blast while we do it.  We are teaching others.  We are learning from others.

We are sharing a spectacular meal, a formative team-building experience, and enjoying our craft.

Come to the table. 

Click into the photo gallery below and scroll through images of our community!

Going Primal . . . does it mean missing out?

Nutritional journeys are different for everyone.  When changing how you eat, you may alternately feel excited to try something new, challenged and overwhelmed by all the changes you want to make, and discouraged by not being able to eat your favorites. 

Currently, I'm in the "discouraged" state of my food journey.  When this happens, dinner is a piece of meat and a salad every day, and I'm focused entirely on nutrition over flavor.  Then, I get bored, and I go out more often than I should, and my progress stalls.  

Best way for me to snap out of this . . . learn something new, and teach others!

I've been craving good Chinese food, which is not only a primal challenge, but a Montana challenge.  It's a double-whammy.

The Americanized-version of Chinese food is typically laden with inflammatory "ingredients" like MSG and soy.  Many restaurants use mass-produced sauces and questionable-quality meat, leading to a headache-inducing meal that leaves you dehydrated and wishing you had walked right past that orange-peel chicken.

It is possible to do really great Chinese food, chemical-free and featuring fresh ingredients.  It takes a little time, and a little skill, so let's do it together!

At our next dinner on May 15th, we're going to cheer us all up with Peking Duck.

Space is limited, so sign up soon!

Never buy green onions again--after the next time!

Grow your own green onions in a window.  

That way you always have them fresh and ready to eat!

  1. Buy one more bunch of green onions

  2. Use the tops (the green part) for whatever you like.  When you cut them, leave about 1/2 inch of green on top of the white.

  3. Leave the bottoms rubber banded together and put in a glass water glass.  
    • The glass should be narrow enough that the onions stand up
    • Fill with enough water to cover the little roots and the round part of the bottom, maybe 1/2 inch or so
    • Leave in a window sill for a week or so, until you see the roots start to grow.
    • Add water as needed
  4. When your onions have rooted, take them out of the glass, remove the rubber band, and plant in any pot with some potting soil
  5. Water once a week or so with the rest of your house plants.
  6. Once they have sprouted actual onions, harvest regularly, always leaving 1 or 2 shoots on a stock.  
  7. If they aren't growing quickly enough for your use, buy another bunch and add them to your container garden.

I just saved you $0.69 per week.  You're welcome!

Mexican Cookout a smashing success!

Mexican Cookout a smashing success!

We started with a random list of ingredients.  Our only guidance was to cook Mexican food, "cookout style" using a food processor, and featuring seafood.

Here's what we made:

  • Shrimp and Halibut Ceviche
  • Melon, Ginger and Mint Agua Fresca 
  • Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli
  • Chicken and Rabbit Mole with Cauliflower Rice
  • Charred Salsa with Cucumbers
  • Guacamole
  • Mango Pineapple Salsa
  • Grilled Mango and Pineapple Kabob with Lime Honey Glaze and Coconut

And we did it all while enjoying NorCal Margaritas!

Here are some cool things we learned:

  • Mole sauce isn't that difficult, it just takes time
  • Techniques for perfectly small dicing an onion
  • A regular propane torch makes a great kitchen tool, and it's fun too!
  • How to spatchcock a chicken, and why

Here's what we would have learned if I had remembered to tell everyone:

True Cod is a super-sustainable fish, and is one of the best values on the market.  You can get it at Costco for around $6 per pound.  If you don't want to use it all at once, break it into smaller portions, wrap in plastic, and freeze for later.

It's easy to prepare, very versatile, and delicious.  It's a no-brainer for anyone trying to eat more seafood.

Pictures coming soon!

Who loves TACOS?!?

In a previous post I have you a recipe for a killer chicken soup.  On the same theme (roasting a chicken on the weekend and eating it all week), here's another idea.

Roast a whole chicken in a slow cooker.

Season the whole chicken however you like, but salt and pepper at a minimum.  Coarsely chop a couple of carrots, celery stalks, and and onion and put it in the bottom of your crock pot.  Put the chicken on top of the veggies, breast side up.

Put the cooker on low and cook for 6 to 8 hours, depending on the size of the bird.

When it's done, eat what you want immediately, and then shred the rest for TACOS!

These tacos have 5 steps:

  • Make your tortilla like taco shell thingy
  • Make creme fraiche
  • Shred lettuce
  • Make your chicken taco mix
  • Chop green onions

Let's go in order:

Make your taco shell thingy.  Google "Paleo Tortilla" and you'll find a bunch.  The recipe I like uses primarily arrowroot powder and eggs, but there are tons of variations.  Make a big batch and freeze some for later.

Make creme fraiche.  This is only if you want dairy.  Fermenting dairy makes it better.  Also, it requires a couple of days, so you can just use sour cream if your eat dairy.  If you want to make your own, pour a quart of heavy cream into a stainless bowl,  whisk in  1/2 cup of cultured buttermilk.  Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 24-48 hours.  The colder your house, the longer it needs to sit (it's much quicker in summer than in winter).  When it thickens noticeably, whisk it up, put it in the fridge, and let it sit another 12 hours.  Done.  Don't tell the health department you left the cream out.  It keeps for a couple of weeks in your fridge.  When it starts to smell like a musty paper towel, toss it and vow to eat it more quickly next time.

Shred lettuce.  This needs no further instruction.  Pick a good lettuce, not some wimpy iceberg head.

Make your chicken taco mix.  Saute some chopped onions in a pan with a little coconut oil until they start to blacken.  Really bring the heat, because the heat brings the flavor.  Add the chicken, and then season with ground cumin, coriander, and chipotle powder.  Totally to your taste preference.  Add salt and pepper if needed as well.

Chop your green onions.  You can keep these growing in a window sill.  You literally can buy them one more time, and then never again for the rest of your life.  More on that in a future blog post.

Assemble your taco(s) with the desired ratio ingredients and chow down!  

Buy an amazing Local CSA share . . . and then learn how to cook it.

Buy an amazing Local CSA share . . . and then learn how to cook it.

I've purchased from Gallatin Valley Botanical for years.  First as a restaurant owner, and now as a consumer.  

Their CSA is the best (highest quality, most convenient, and economical) way to enjoy the local bounty of Gallatin Valley.  The quality and variety of their produce is uncontested.

So here's what you do:   

  1. Sign up for a CSA box here on their page
  2. Learn how to cook the great stuff in your box by signing up for one of my dinners

It's pretty amazing.  Two steps and you are a certified Local-vore. 

Greek Dinner a Huge Success!

The flavors of Greece:  lots of fresh vegetables, lemons and olives, tons of herbs. 

This latest dinner captured all of this perfectly, in some very creative ways.

Appetizer

We started with a fresh take on dolmas.  Rather than rice, Leslie and Dover created a filling from riced cauliflower, seasoned with preserved lemons, capers, and herbs.  They then stuffed this into calamari tubes.  They grilled the calamari tubes and tentacles on the Korean BBQ, and thin sliced the stuffed tubes for a bite sized appetizer.  They took the leftover filling and used it to create dolmas with grape leaves, which were then simmered in lemon and olive oil.

Salad

Phil and Katy prepared a beautiful salad of roasted Belgian endive leaves, fennel frond, and roasted mini bell peppers.  They dressed this with a roasted garlic, meyer lemon vinaigrette.

Main Course

Heidi, Kerri and Heather worked together on the main course.  Heidi and Kerri prepared a light version of a vegetable Moussaka, composed of thinly sliced fennel, eggplant, leeks, garlic, and tomatoes.  They used our featured tool, the Benriner, for most of the slicing.  This all went into a roasting pan, drizzled with olive oil, and roasted.  During the last few minutes of cooking they added chopped almonds and Chevre.

This roasted vegetable loveliness served as the bed for the main feature: a Mako Shark roast, marinated in orange juice, cinnamon, and minced garlic, and roasted on a bed of fennel.

We topped the shark with tzatziki sauce with fresh mint, parsley, and Meyer lemon.

Dessert

For dessert, Heather made a traditional Green New Years cake, following this recipe:

We topped this with figs, poached in white wine, honey, and lemon thyme, and a little creme fraiche.  Kerri found the coin, so 2016 is going to be a great year for her!

Then, in solid Greek tradition, we closed the meal with shots of Ouzo and Sambuca, garnished with 3 coffee beans and lit on fire!

Γεια μας!

Pictures coming soon!

Food that heals

This time of year, the winter cold and flu season is in full swing.  If you work with others, or hang out with kids, chances are you'll get sick at some point.

I don't know about you, but I don't do the whole flu vaccine, preferring to keep my immune system strong naturally.

This past week the Rhino virus hit me hard, and I turned to the kitchen for healing.  Here's a zesty and flavorful soup that will have your health back on track and feed your soul at the same time. It's full of ingredients to help you heal and pack your body with nutrients to boost your immune system:

  • Onions: High in phyto-nutrients and antioxidants.  Choose pungent varieties over sweet for maximum benefit.
  • Chili peppers:  the heat will help clear out your sinuses!
  • Tomatillos:  lots of dietary fiber and vitamin C to boost your immune system. They are in the nightshade family, so if you are sensitive, just leave them out.
  • Organic chicken and chicken stock:  the gelatin in the stock is very healing for your gut, and very soothing.

Green Chicken Chili Soup

  • 1 whole, organic chicken, roasted, meat picked off bones and shredded
  • Chicken stock, made from bones of your roasted chicken
  • 4 Anaheim chili peppers
  • 2 Pasilla or Poblano chili peppers
  • 12 medium to large Tomatillos (bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a LaCrosse ball!)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Ground Cumin
  • Ground Coriander
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil

 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Halve (lengthwise) and seed chili peppers.  Place them cut side down on a baking sheet.

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and place them on the baking sheet.

Drizzle olive oil liberally over the tomatillos and peppers, place in hot oven, and roast until skins are blistered and blackened, about 30 min.

While peppers are roasting, julienne onion.  Choose a heavy bottomed saucepan that is large enough for your soup, and saute your onion in coconut oil until they are wilted and begin to color.  Remove from heat.

As soon as peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins.  Coarsely chop the pepper flesh.  Coarsely chop the tomatillos.

Get your saucepan with onions hot again and add the peppers and tomatillos. As soon as it's hot, add your minced garlic and stir until fragrant. 

Add your shredded chicken, and enough chicken stock to cover everything and make the soup as brothy as you like.

Bring to a simmer, season to taste with cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.  

Serve with fresh coarsely chopped cilantro.

This makes enough soup to last until you feel better, and it just gets better every day!

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