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Whole 30 Starts Now

Whole 30-compliant Mustard Greens Soup with Beef from Bon Appetit Magazine by Amy Roth Photo

Like so many others, I’ve decided to take the Whole 30 plunge (after avoiding it for what seems like years). About seven years ago, I tried the primal thing and discovered within a week that much of the joint pain, inflammation and stomach issues I’d had for years subsided when I removed wheat from my diet. It only got me about to about 80% of where I needed to be, though, so I knew an elimination diet would be in the cards at some point. But I’ve let things slide because I’m a professional-level rationalizer who can find an excuse to fit any situation in which delicious trigger foods are present:

  • I’m shooting this amazing dish for a cookbook and it’s already prepared. It’d be a shame to just toss it out!
  • I had a few bites yesterday. A donut and some pizza couldn’t possibly make things worse today. (Oh, but they can.)
  • I’ll just suck it up. If a little pain is the price to pay for eating (insert literally anything I shouldn’t be eating), then I’ll deal. I’m a tough cookie!

But after a particularly bad reaction to bulgur wheat last week that left me hobbling around the house for two days, I decided to get real. There’s no virtue in suffering nor vice in self-care. Now that all of our special occasion dinners have been enjoyed — years are front-loaded with birthdays and anniversaries in this family — I’m doing this thing.

Shopping for Whole 30-compliant pantry staples involved some label reading because sugar hides in so many places, but this did give me a chance to finally try Red Boat Fish Sauce and Califia Farms Almond Milk, both of which I highly recommend. We have a fabulous […]

March 14, 2017|Beef, Gluten-free, Greens, Whole 30|0 Comments

For the Love of Tri-Tip

Grilled Tri Tip | Amy Roth Photo

Feast or famine: Ain’t that always the way?

Not so long ago, my business was in famine mode with few clients or projects as the year wound down. I wasn’t too concerned about it, because that seems to be the case for me each year around that time, and sure enough, as January rolled around, things picked up to such a degree that I was always busy planning for or shooting a new project. Which is awesome! I love being in demand (and the money doesn’t hurt either), but it left me with little time or inclination for cooking.

So I’m working on finding balance in my life now and I’m rediscovering my love of cooking in the process. The fact that it’s grilling season doesn’t hurt.

Rummaging through the freezer a couple of weeks ago, I found a tri-tip from Lone Mountain Wagyu that was just begging to live in my belly:

Tri Tip with Rub | Amy Roth Photo

Preparation was simple; I followed the same steps I did when we last had tri-tip, except I opted for the Santa Maria Rub from Simply Recipes instead of the simple salt/pepper/garlic powder rub from the first time.  It was delicious — OF COURSE — though I’m not sure I needed to go to the extra effort of making the Santa Maria Rub. I mean, it had great flavor, but this wagyu tri-tip is a fabulous cut of meat that would shine in any circumstance, so it felt a little like gilding the lily. That said, I do love a good, vinegary chimichurri with fattier cuts of meat […]

May 4, 2015|Beef, Gluten-free, Grilling|2 Comments

Primal Check-in

Roasted Carrot Soup | Amy Roth Photo

Hi again. Just checking in with more Primal recipes from the past week. Gil’s birthday was this weekend, so we celebrated with lunch at Mistral Restaurant in Princeton Saturday afternoon. I’ve been dying to go back ever since the photoshoot I did there over the summer and am happy to report that time didn’t cloud my memory at all; the food was just as fantastic as I remembered.

But even with the extravagant dining, I made the smartest choices I could — cheese plate for dessert, no bread or anything with wheat explicitly listed on the menu — and walked out without feeling cheated in any way.

I mentioned our love of Thai food in my last post. Specifically, there’s an amazing warm coconut milk and peanut butter salad dressing that our new favorite local Thai restaurant (Thai Jasmine in Bloomingdale, NJ) makes, and I decided I needed to have a go at it. Extensive online searching didn’t turn up anything that sounded quite right, so I turned to my copy of Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking and found just the thing! I used a full can of coconut milk instead of just one cup as directed in the recipe, but found the balance of the rest of […]

Let’s Prime the Pumps

Gluten-Free, Primal Za'atar Crackers | Amy Roth Photo

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m doing the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge this month, and it’s going really well! I’ve cooked more in three days than I usually do in a week and everything’s been healthy and delicious, not to mention economical with all of the leftovers. And while I didn’t do this to lose weight, I’ve already dropped a little Christmas padding from my midsection, so I’m excited to continue after seeing such fast results.

Why are you doing this challenge, anyway?

My diet is pretty good overall, but what started as an occasional treat (a little dessert here, some pizza or a slice of bread there) became the rule rather than the exception. Knowing that wheat does a number on me and that my weekly burger and fries weren’t doing me any favors either, I decided plunging headfirst into an eating plan that eliminated the bad stuff and encouraged more good stuff was the way to go. (YMMV, of course.) Making it easier was just how crappy I felt after all of my Christmas indulgences.

Without getting too preachy or going into too much detail — you can find all the information you need and then some here — I’m concentrating on the following:

  • Eliminating grains, legumes, vegetable oils and refined sugars. (This is the most important part for me, though I’ll add legumes back in small quantities after the 21-day mark.)
  • Loading my meals with lots […]

Season’s Grillings

Grilled Grass-Fed Flank Steak | Minimally Invasive

Sitting at my computer with the windows open, a cool breeze occasionally lifting the scent of the charcoal grill from my top, I am a happy girl. My tailbone is still painful, but getting better everyday. If I can find anything to be thankful for in this situation, it’s that I’ve had to slow down. I’ll start a full-time summer job at my former company this Wednesday, so I’ve been shooting and designing freelance projects until I can’t anymore, then taking advantage of my few remaining days at home by taking naps when my body demands them. I’ll miss semi-retirement for the next few months.

I’m writing this Saturday, as Gil is preparing to leave for a business trip to Scotland. I thought he could use a good meal before his redeye flight, so I sent him off with grilled steak, garlic scapes and asparagus. And because I plan to cook more large meals on weekends to bring for lunch during the week, I used a small-yet-sizable flank steak bought from the Snoep Winkel Farm booth at the market this morning. There was no time to marinate the beef before lunch, so instead I relied on a dry rub plus grilled garlic scape purée to impart flavor.

Grilled Garlic Scapes | Minimally Invasive

Garlic scape pesto is really popular, but I’ve never really liked it. The flavor is just too overpowering for me, but I can eat my weight in grilled scapes, which turn mellow and smoky after spending time over hot coals. I thought it would be fine to pound them into a paste with a mortar and pestle, but quickly realized […]

June 16, 2014|Beef, Garlic, Gluten-free, Grilling|1 Comment

Steak, Spinach and Another Cookbook Giveaway

Cast Iron Steak | Amy Roth Photo

UPDATE: Congratulations to Sarah Cordes, winner of the cookbook Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan! 

To say I’ve been in a cooking rut would give the wrong impression entirely; it isn’t so much a little ennui-filled rut as it is the Grand Canyon. Gil doesn’t cook and doesn’t much care if I do, so we’ve been eating out a lot and I’ve been making little things here and there, uninspiring things that are fine (she said with a sigh), but not new and certainly not blog-worthy. Getting through the slump has taken a while, and I’m not entirely sure I’ve made it out just yet, but time will tell. I’ve had my periods of kitchen disinterest, but this was another thing entirely and I didn’t quite know how to deal with it, to be honest. So I just started reading again, reading without an agenda or in service to dinner, just for the sheer enjoyment of experiencing food on the page again. And when I happened across an article in last week’s New York Times outlining a different way of preparing a steak on the stovetop, something just clicked.

See, I’m a sucker for technique-refinement and experimentation. If there’s a new way to do something, an avenue that promises better results than the tried and true, I am there, my friend. It’s why I trust America’s Test Kitchen implicitly and why Kenji Lopez-Alt’s version of the pan-seared steak at

May 23, 2014|Beef, Giveaways, Paleo, Spinach|5 Comments

Winner, Winner, Tri-Tip Dinner

Wagyu-Tri-Tip-Sliced-@-Minimally-Invasive

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weather last week (Seriously, Spring, make up your melon.) gave way to meteorological perfection for Memorial Day, which was the clearest sign imaginable that I was meant to break out the grill. Our freezer has no shortage of candidates for such an endeavor, but I decided something special was in order to pay proper tribute to grilling season, so out came the Wagyu tri-tip I’d been saving for the right occasion.

Tri-tip is a thick, nicely marbled cut popular in California, but isn’t something you normally see around here. I had the opportunity to buy one from Lone Mountain Wagyu when it was featured in a Blackboard Eats email and believe me, I jumped on that deal with both feet! Something new to me and Wagyu, to boot? I’m almost certain I placed the first order after the special went live.

Then I waited. And waited some more. Sure, I could have cooked it in the kitchen à la Bittman at any time over the past few months, but our hood drowns out noise more effectively than it removes smoke, so holding out for “summer” gave me the opportunity to practice patience each time I opened the freezer door. Oh, but the waiting is the hardest part.

Wagyu-Tri-Tip-@-Minimally-Invasive

I decided to go for the simplest Santa Maria-style preparation imaginable, rubbing the steak with nothing more than one part garlic powder to two parts each salt and pepper. That blend tasted right […]

May 28, 2013|Beef, Gluten-free, Grilling, Holiday|3 Comments

Day 16, Swedish Meatballs

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 16
Like Christmas on a plate, wouldn’t you say?

A few weeks ago, Gil and I grabbed lunch with friends at Red Rooster after recording that week’s Virtual Memories podcast in the neighborhood. The restaurant came highly recommended, but I still managed to be surprised by the range of dishes on the menu and how perfectly executed they all were. But if we’ve learned anything from The Highlander, it’s that there can be only one, and I was declared the winner of the ordering war with my somewhat unorthodox lunch: Swedish meatballs with a side of cheese grits.

I can’t say these meatballs are exactly like the ones in the restaurant, even though I followed Marcus Samuelsson‘s recipe to the letter, save for the gluten-free breadcrumbs. Still, they’re well worth your time and far better than any other Swedish meatballs I’ve eaten, barring the original at Red Rooster.

I buy only pastured veal, which is part of  a much larger discussion about animal welfare I hope to get into soon. Whole Foods can be a good resource, though I prefer to stick to vendors at my local farmers’ market whenever possible. If you’re uncomfortable eating veal at all, I’d probably substitute equal parts ground beef and ground pork for it.

Get the recipe here.

December 16, 2012|Advent Calendar 2012, Beef, Gluten-free|0 Comments

From the Market: Burgers & Whiskey Edition

with fontina and steak sauce
Grass-fed beef from Snoep Winkel Farm, Curly-leaf lettuce from Bialas Farms

C’est fini!

I took the last shot for the cookbook earlier this afternoon, and not a moment too soon. A house-shaking thunderclap just sent poor Ru scurrying to the guest bedroom and the skies are so dark that I couldn’t have gotten another good natural-light shot anyway. Ahhhh…it’s a great feeling to wrap up such a lengthy project!

The burger was my reward for squeezing in an extra shot yesterday. A couple of the ingredients were extras from the recipes I was working on (out-of-season tomatoes, something I’d never buy for myself, and fontina cheese), so I threw together a burger for lunch. Talk about luscious! I tossed a little garlic and copious black pepper into well-salted ground beef and cooked the patties to medium. Gary & Basia‘s grass-fed beef is so good, it really doesn’t need much fussing, but I was feeling a little indulgent and topped it with quite a lot of fontina and some steak sauce before digging in. I ate so much I nearly convinced myself I was having a heart attack. Hah! Scary, but so good, I’ll probably do it again because I just don’t learn.

rye, cognac, St. Germain

THIS. This amazing creature is the Carré Reprisé, a recipe I found while searching for drinks with rye and St. Germain, which fight for top honors on my list of favorite boozes. Normally, I’m not a coganc drinker and wouldn’t have it on hand, but I still had most of a bottle in the pantry from a shoot last summer (told you I don’t drink the stuff!), so I gave it a try and was well-rewarded for stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s a great drink for a cool, rainy day when you don’t have much to do; at the very least, it’s something you want to savor. Ferociously smooth with a slight bright finish from the lemon twist, I’ll certainly keep this in my arsenal. (And in keeping with my struggle to eat as locally as possible, I made it with Tuthilltown Spirits Rye, so yeah…points for that or something.)

But no rest for the wicked. Now it’s time to do a little more processing so I can ship the photos off to the author tomorrow! Hope you all had a great weekend; I’ll be back next week with more goodies from the market!

recipe after the jump

[…]

Italian Sunday

Update (1/22/11): This short rib ragu won Food52‘s contest for Your Best Short Ribs, and will be included in their next cookbook, out later this year!

Maybe it’s the tomato tooth I was born with instead of a sweet tooth, maybe it’s the towering heels I rock when my old bones let me, or maybe it’s only that Marcello Mastroianni was perfection on two legs, but I’ve always wanted to be Italian, just a little bit.


Exhibit A: Photographic evidence of alleged perfection, minus corroborating proof of two legs.

It isn’t that I don’t love a good bowl of shrimp & grits or that I don’t get a nostalgic glow from a breakfast of couche-couche and cane syrup, but polenta has been my go-to corn base of late. And after a long work week, what could be a more welcome sight or more soul-satisfying over cheesy, buttery polenta than a ragu of braised short ribs, I ask you?

It’s a dish that’s nearly impossible to mess up, which I think we all can appreciate in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. With so much else on the mind, it’s nice to throw something into the oven for a few hours and get on with other things. Of course, the initial prep work takes some time — chopping the vegetables, trimming and searing the beef, getting all of the elements in balance before the extended stay in the oven — but your time and patience will be well-rewarded by the outcome.

If you can manage not to devour it right away, let the ribs sit overnight in the refrigerator. This serves two purposes: as we all know, this type of dish is always better on the second day, and you’ll be able to remove some of the ungodly amount of fat the ribs throw off so much easier than if you only skimmed the surface while it was still hot. Of course, chilling the ragu overnight doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a little quality control while it’s still hot, just to put your mind at ease that you have, in fact, made something that will be worth the wait.

Too bad I didn't make more.

But woman cannot live by polenta and short ribs alone. As a nod to the tables of so many of my fellow North Jerseyans, I made a Sunday gravy recently. It’s not something I tackle more than once a year because of the sheer effort and number of calories involved, but man, this makes for a pleasant food coma. I make no claims to authenticity, but I’m not sure too many others can either; it’s one of those dishes that seems to have as many variations as people who make it. The recipes may disagree on specifics, but all are unified in the insistence on Meat And Lots Of It. Me? I only used a paltry four types — pepperoni (not too much of it), sweet Italian sausage, pork butt and beef & pork meatballs. I browned everything but the pepperoni, then simmered it all for hours in tomatoes swimming with garlic until we were going mad (in the best possible way) from the smell.

not perfected yet

My gluten-free adaptation of this polenta cake didn’t quite pass muster, but with a little creme fraiche, it was still a nice way to end the meal. I’ll keep working on it and report back when I’ve found success.

recipe after the jump

[…]

November 21, 2010|Beef, Gluten-free, Italian, Pictures, polenta, polenta cake, Pork, Ribs, Sausage|7 Comments