Whole 30 Starts Now

Mustard Greens Soup with Beef from Bon Appetit Magazine

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 “farmers’ market” one town over that carries an abundant and varied supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, so I’ll be hitting that even more often than I already do.

One day in, I don’t notice a huge difference. My breakfasts aren’t often all that breakfast-y and yesterday was no exception, when I had a favorite of mine, citrus (pink grapefruit in this case) with cubed avocado, salt & pepper. An apple Larabar made a nice snack, and I lightly adapted Bon Appetit’s Spicy Pork with Mustard Greens Soup for lunch and dinner by using grass-fed beef (no pork available) and zucchini noodles.

Whole 30-compliant Bon Appetit's Spicy Pork with Mustard Greens Soup by Amy Roth Photo

I think the spiralizer’s going to be my friend for the next month. It’s one purchase I honestly love and use often, unlike a lot of other single-use kitchen tools. You can find it here, if you want to check it out (that’s an Amazon affiliate link, fyi).

The only complete fail so far was golden milk made with coconut milk for compliance with the no-dairy portion of Whole 30. I’m sure the coconut milk would be a fine substitute with no other change in variables, but the drink was honestly disgusting without the hint of sweetness molasses gives it. My tongue recoiled from it, the same way it did that one time I sampled baking chocolate. Blech. So I’ll stick to my regular beverages — coffee, plain tea and seltzer.

I can’t promise I’ll blog every day — in fact, I can promise you I won’t — but I will try to get here regularly to post good recipes and let you know how things are going.

Have you done Whole 30? What was your experience like? I’m really curious to hear.

It’s So Easy Eating Greens

All of my bitching and moaning about the long winter and lack of stellar produce at the grocery store during said winter has given way to glittery unicorns and happy dances as the Ringwood Farmers’ Market opened for its eighth season a couple of weekends ago. It’s still early in the year, so the full force of its awesomeness has yet to be released, but I have more than enough to keep me busy until that time. I loaded up on more greens than I probably can eat in a week, but I’ll be giving it my best shot, and started with this morning’s breakfast.

Green Garlic | Minimally Invasive

Last year around this time, I discovered the mind-blowing power of green garlic confit, then promptly forgot about it when the season moved on. But I can’t pass up fresh garlic in the market and it’s a big waste to throw away 90% of a usable plant, so I made another batch this weekend. The leaves from only one bulb yielded enough to fill two one-cup ramekins, which should keep me busy for a while. I still have several bulbs to go, so if you’re in the area and want to share my bounty, let me know!

Garlic Confit | Amy Roth Photo

 

I’ve been nibbling at the drained confit here and there, enjoying it with just a sprinkling of salt — don’t judge — but used it in a frittata this morning with great results. I added a little of the flavored oil to a pan along with a few chopped asparagus spears and ribbons of tender turnip greens and spinach and a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes, then sauteéd everything over medium heat until the greens had collapsed on themselves. Once they were at that manageable volume, I transferred them to a much smaller non-stick pan and added a couple of beaten eggs and some fresh goat’s milk ricotta, covered the pan, and let it cook until the eggs were set. Before digging in, I dressed the frittata with more of the drained garlic confit, cracked black pepper and a touch of Maldon sea salt for crunch and had a blissful morning.

Green never tasted so good.


I’ll be sending out my June newsletter later today, complete with another Spring-perfect recipe: Gluten-Free Strawberry Biscuits with Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberry Butter. You don’t want to miss out on that, do you? If you’d like to get on the list, just sign up at the end of this post!

Strawberry Biscuits | Minimally Invasive

 

Green Garlic Confit

Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 45 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable
Fresh Spring garlic is usable from the tiny bulb all the way to the tips of the leaves, about two feet up — green garlic confit cannot be missed!

Ingredients

  • 1 stalk Fresh Spring garlic, including leaves (thoroughly washed and thinly sliced)
  • Olive Oil

Note

I'm not sure about how long this will last, so I try to use it up within a week. It usually isn't a problem to do so BECAUSE IT'S THAT GOOD, but you can always freeze the confit in its oil in ice cube trays if you want it to last longer.

Directions

Heat oven to 300°F.
Place sliced garlic stem and leaves in ramekin(s) to fit. You can pile it all the way to the top, as they'll reduce a bit in the oven.
Add olive oil to cover the sliced garlic and place ramekins in a cake pan to catch any spillover.
Bake at 300°F for 90 minutes, or until greens are tender. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate in a covered container for future use.

From the Market: Week 5

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Right off the bat, I’ll admit that yes, I cheated a little here. Asparagus hasn’t been seen at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market for the past two weeks, but 1) I had a craving and 2) didn’t it make for a pretty — if slightly pornographic — shot?

Because I operate under the assumption that pretty much everything is better when topped with a fried or poached egg (especially the super-fresh ones we get from Nina), I went with a variation on a shaved asparagus salad from the pages of Food & Wine for Sunday’s lunch:

The ricotta salata I substituted for the Parmesan was creamy and subtle, but I think I’ll try the recipe as written next time for even more of a punch.

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Because I eat yogurt with fruit every weekday for breakfast, I like to change things up a little on weekends, so we had gluten-free pancakes before hitting the market Saturday morning. I’m still playing around with flour combinations for breads and pie crust, but this pancake recipe was perfect as written. (By the way, I have no plans to turn this into a blog about dietary restrictions, but if you’re looking into a gluten-free diet, I highly recommend the Gluten-Free Girl blog. It’s an amazing resource.)

But back to the pancakes. I cooked them in only about 1/2 teaspoon of butter each, but they were so rich-tasting and slightly sweet on their own that they only needed a dollop of the raspberry jam I picked up recently from B&B Jams to put them over the top.

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I didn’t really load up on fresh vegetables this weekend because I went overboard last week and still had quite a bit hanging around in my vegetable drawers. I’ve been on a leftover kick all week long, but only yesterday did I finally get around to using up the last bit of the smoked beef tongue (courtesy of Snoep Winkel Farm) I made last weekend. Of course, on that first day, we had it in tacos as we always do, but during the week it made appearances sliced on crackers with Dijon mustard or just nibbled out of hand straight from the cutting board.

But my plan for Saturday’s lunch included my latest favorite way to use leftover bits of meat and vegetables: Vietnamese bun, a refreshing salad served with cold rice noodles, and the perfect thing on a hot summer day.

This was made entirely with odds and ends from the refrigerator: Tatsoi, cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, radishes, green onions, basil and cilantro, all tossed with a sweet-sour-salty-spicy dressing, funky with fish sauce and garlic. And hit with a lot of Sriracha, naturally. I’ve found that if you get the sauce right (I used the one from this Vietnamese Chicken Salad), the rest of the salad just falls into place.

It’s been a migraine-y day for me, so I have nothing more to offer at the moment, but I’m hoping to get around to an apricot & goat’s milk frozen yogurt sometime this week. Hope you have a great one!

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market: Week 5”

From the Market: Week 1

Kofta with Spinach & Arugula Salad

The Ringwood Farmers’ Market opened this weekend, and not one minute too soon! I’ve been craving their fresh produce since the weekly market closed last November; winter market (new this year) only took place once a month, and the pickings were slim. It was winter, after all.

But now we’re back to greens, berries, honey and meats from small local farms, so let’s dive in.

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What I missed most about the early markets was the amazing spinach and arugula from Bialas Farms, not to mention the rest of the veggies and fresh herbs that always make up the bulk of my shopping experience on weekends. Because I was impatient to try the first haul, I made brunch as soon as we got home — a quick pesto with the spinach and arugula, some walnuts and grated locatelli, all smoothed out with a Ligurian olive oil. The pasta was a gluten-free selection from Fontanarosa’s, which I only visited for the first time this weekend. I now plan to shop there all summer long.

[About the gluten-free thing: I cut out the major sources of gluten about a month ago after reading The GenoType Diet. I’m highly suspicious of any diet at all (and definitely didn’t try this to lose weight — so don’t worry, those of you who know me), but thought I’d give this one a try since a lot of what the author said about my type rang true, given my experience. Anyway, I can honestly say that the mild-to-moderate joint pain I’ve had for the past few years has completely disappeared since I cut the out the gluten. (Other things I won’t go into here have cleared up as well.) Maybe it’s all unrelated, and I hope it is, but we’ll see how I feel when I re-introduce regular pastas and whole-grain bread into my meals.]

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Even though we were invited to a BBQ Sunday afternoon, I had to get in a little grilling of my own this weekend, so I threw together a quick-ish lunch. The appetizers were inspired by this post at Smitten Kitchen and I was thrilled with the way they turned out:

That’s a lot of good stuff packed into a couple of bites, and it came together with almost no effort on my part. I just grilled 1/2-inch-thick slices of homemade bread till they were toasted, smeared them with loads of truffle butter, some room-temperature robiola (one of my favorites, but you could try whatever you like here), and topped them off with ribbons of asparagus, crunchy fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.

To make the ribbons, just grasp the tip of the spear and use a vegetable peeler to shave down the length of the asparagus.

Our main course was a kofta salad. The spinach and arugula made another appearance here, tossed with tzaziki sauce for the salad base. I had a few extra asparagus ribbons from the appetizers, so I threw them on as a garnish. But the real draw was the kofta made with ground lamb from Snoep Winkel Farm. I used the recipe that’s become my standard, substituting walnuts for pistachios since those were, um, about 18 months out of date. Oops.

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And then we went to a BBQ where I consumed lots of steak and delicious veggie skewers, so I was pretty meated- and veggied-out by Sunday morning and took it easy with a little goat’s milk yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries and honey. (Sadly, the blueberries were store-bought since they aren’t quite in season here, but the The Orchards of Concklin‘s strawberries are as perfect as ever, and their peonies aren’t half-bad either. I’ll bring my camera next time we go so I can show you just how popular Rufus and Otis are with the proprietor. The honey is local, too — from Nina’s Red Barn Farm, where we buy our fresh eggs and where I’m evidently known as Rufus’s mom.)

gluten-free

Hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.

Pastalaya, crawfish frittata, buffet at Pancho’s

The Hank Williams classic updated for 2009, which is a roundabout way of saying I spent last weekend visiting family in Des Allemands for my nephew’s 7th birthday. The food was terrific (as usual), and the company even more so, though the birthday boy completely ignored his auntie. Oh, well. That’s a little boy for you.

I didn’t take many pictures this time around, but did manage to snap this one, which is quickly becoming a favorite:

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My new cousin, who couldn’t quite decide about me.

While I was away, Gil and The Ambassador stopped by the farmers’ market to pick up a few things for me, but I didn’t have a chance to use all of the spinach and arugula during the week. After getting fresh supplies this Saturday, I decided to use the week-old produce in one shot with a pesto to go with some leftover whole wheat pasta. It was all very free-form, but here’s how it went.

I toasted two handfuls of walnuts until they were warm and fragrant, then put them in the food processor to cool while I worked on the the rest of the pesto.

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After they’d cooled somewhat, I pulsed them with a clove of garlic until the whole thing smelled like heaven, assuming your idea of heaven is warm walnuts and garlic.

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I added about one part spinach to two parts arugula, filling the bowl of the processor twice before pulsing; that’s the amount of the greens I had on hand, but you can adjust to taste.

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There was also quite a bit of Parmesan, good olive oil, zest from 1/2 lemon, and salt & pepper, all blended together until I was left with a satisfyingly bright green mess.

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Which, when tossed with leftover whole wheat pasta, became an easy, light lunch, perfect for the oppressively humid day.

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Rufus after the jump.

Continue reading “Pastalaya, crawfish frittata, buffet at Pancho’s”

Happy 2009

We sprang out of bed at the crack of mid-morning today, and after a strong cup of coffee, I got started on the traditional new year’s day meal of black-eyed peas and greens (turnip, this year).

Carefully sorting through the beans, I searched for rocks and discarded the misshapen beans, then chopped the other ingredients according to my all-time favorite recipe from The Prudhomme Family Cookbook.

The greens are more intuitive. I never make them the same way twice, but they always start with stemming, chopping and a vigorous washing before I even think of cooking them.

This time around, I chopped the 1/4 pound of tasso leftover from the beans and halved a small piece of salt pork, then covered the meat with water in a large pot. I brought it to a boil, then lowered the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes to create a flavorful cooking liquid for the greens. At that point, I added some chopped onions, cayenne pepper, a little bit of salt and the greens. They simmered for about 20 minutes, though you can certainly cook them longer; I just prefer greens when they have a little bit of bite to them.

I cooked the beans at a lower temperature than usual, so they were more of a soup than side dish, but still just as delicious as I remember from last year. The greens held their own when topped with cider vinegar, so I thought an extra helping couldn’t hurt, especially in these tough economic times. Call it an edible insurance policy.

Thank you for visiting last year, keeping up with my infrequent food and Rufus postings. I’ve loved hearing from everyone and wish y’all a happy and safe 2009, filled with friends and food and many, many naps.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Happy 2009”

Happy 2008

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I don’t mind messing with tradition on New Year’s Eve by staying in and avoiding crowds, but you’ll never catch me shirking my duty on New Year’s Day — for if I don’t have black-eyed peas and some form of greens to ring in the new year, disaster will surely fall upon the Roth household. And so we filled ourselves to the gills with creamy black-eyed peas for luck and spicy collard greens to attract money into our lives. Maybe it doesn’t work, but boy, are they tasty. And since they seemed to be crying out for some kind of plain protein, I added a poached chicken breast topped with a mustard sauce I made by mixing together Dijon, maple syrup, whiskey, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper.

As always, I used the black-eyed peas recipe from The Prudhomme Family Cookbook, and this time followed it to the letter by making my own pork stock. I think it added a depth of flavor to the dish that plain chicken broth just can’t, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making it yourself, it isn’t necessary. How, pray tell, did I make this stock? Well, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and roasted one quartered onion, three lightly crushed garlic cloves, some pork short ribs, and a few split pig’s feet until they were golden brown. The smell was heavenly, even if the sight was decidedly less so:

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Once the meat and veggies were roasted to perfection, I put the feet and ribs into a stock pot, added four cups of chicken stock, and additional water to cover the meat by an inch or so. After they simmered for about an hour, I added the roasted onion and garlic along with one stalk of celery and continued to simmer it for another hour. I set the ribs aside for later use (still trying to decide what to do with them, in fact), strained the broth, and refrigerated it overnight to more easily dispose of the fat. Because these beans have puh-lenty enough fat in them as it is if you use the full half pound of bacon suggested in the recipe.

They start out so healthy and with such potential, though:

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But then you add the bacon, and — oh, yeah! — ANOTHER form of pork. This would be tasso — an intensely spiced, smoked bit of pork used for seasoning:

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Did you observe any New Year’s Day culinary traditions, dear reader? Here’s wishing you all the luck, good fortune, and prosperity your life can hold. Cheers to a great 2008!

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “Happy 2008”

Atkins, schmatkins

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To hear Gil tell it, he was a bit … cuddly … and carried around an extra 40 pounds before we met. Though I’ve seen evidence of it in pictures, I still find it hard to believe, given his rangy look these days. Granted, he’s almost a foot taller than me, so that amount of weight isn’t quite the disaster it would be on someone my size, but still — it’s pretty significant. So like a lot of other people at the time, he turned to the Atkins diet for a quick fix (which happened to stick).

Even after he lost the weight, he continued to shun carbs for a long time. And then he met me. (Mooo-haaa-haa-haaaaaaaaah!) Actually, I’m not really that big of a fan of carbs, but I don’t believe in depriving myself, so we eat a pretty well-balanced diet these days. And that includes carbs — sometimes quite a lot of them, as it turned out this weekend.

Scrambling for a late lunch Saturday, I threw together what is always a no-brainer: Orecchiette with chicken sausage and broccoli rabe. It’s easy, filling, not unhealthy, and best of all, delicious. But this wasn’t to be our only pasta indulgence over the weekend, thanks to the chuckleheads working the meat counter at Zeytinia.

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I asked — twice! — for two duck breasts. They repeated my order and told me with regret that the breasts were frozen into one big package and I’d have to wait for them to thaw it enough to separate two. Not a problem, since I love to browse the store, so I waited. And waited. Five minutes turned into 15, but the thought of my duck breast dinner kept me going.

When I took the package out of the fridge the following day to begin marinating the duck, imagine my surprise to find two legs where the breasts should’ve been! Allowing myself only a momentary growl, I plunged headlong into preparations for duck ragu. (I suppose I could’ve made confit, but it didn’t seem to be worth it for only two legs, and dagnabbit, I wanted duck that very day!)

Can I just say a quick thank you to the aforementioned chuckleheads for their error? Though I had to supplement the duck legs with a few chicken thighs, this dish was really, really, really good. And pretty simple, too, once the nasty business removing the visible fat from the legs/thighs was done.

I’m so happy Gil learned to be flexible with his diet once his excess weight was lost. If he hadn’t, there’s no way I could’ve attempted the carbo-loading I did this weekend, and our recipe binder would’ve been much poorer for it.

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recipes after the jump

Continue reading “Atkins, schmatkins”

Mostly meatless meal

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I picked up some broccoli rabe at Zeytinia over the weekend and needed to do something with it, and soon. A bulb of fennel was keeping the rabe company in the fridge, so I started formulating a couple of recipes. Upon doing a little research, I realized most of the heavy lifting had already been done by better cooks than I (though I was mostly on the right track), so tonight’s dinner came together quickly and turned out to be awfully good.

The beans you see above were a riff on a recipe in Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. It’s the first thing I’ve made from the cookbook, but the pictures alone are worth the price of admission. Wow. She’s so passionate about food, healthy cooking, and communicating it beautifully to her readers. If you can’t tell, I have a bit of a blog-crush.

Anyway, I made a few substitutions based on what we had in the house, but it turned out great, anyway. I’d probably go ahead and sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil before adding the beans next time, but otherwise would follow the recipe to the letter.

To go with the beans, I roasted some fennel wedges with prosciutto, Parmeggiano-Reggiano, and butter, then spritzed the bubbling mass with a little lemon juice. The recipe seems to be pretty common, but I’ll give credit to Lidia Bastianich, one of the authors I saw online and whose show I absolutely adore.

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recipes after the jump

Continue reading “Mostly meatless meal”

Betsey beans!

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I’m always up for something new, especially when it comes to food — cooking or just eating it. So when Gil told me about a new gourmet food store that recently opened one town over, I could hardly contain my excitement and rushed there the very next day to see what it was about. Well! Zeytinia exceeded my expectations by a mile and we’ve already paid them three visits in one week. Their olive bar is a thing of beauty and sampling the varieties of honey could keep me busy for a year, easily. But where they really shine, IMHO, is in the produce section. The freshness of the fruits and vegetables alone would beat our local grocery, but they also have a variety I haven’t seen in this area.

As I was deciding between fava beans and cranberry beans (neither of which I’d cooked before), Gil made my decision for me: “Hey, those cranberry beans look like they were designed by Betsey Johnson!” (Reason 1, 375 why I adore this man so.) I only bought a small sampling just in case they turned out to be nothing special. I needn’t have worried, as it turned out. The test batch I made last night was so good, we found ourselves back at the store this morning for more, where I served as an ambassador for the beans, explaining how to cook them to a customer who stopped to ask. All I did was simmer the shelled beans in about 2 inches of water with a couple of whole garlic cloves, some peppercorns, and a few sage leaves. When they were soft but not mushy, I drained them, added salt and olive oil, and let them sit on the counter till they reached room temperature.

The beans had a very meaty, almost umami flavor and played well with a dandelion green salad and grilled skirt steak. I just used my regular old preparation of marinating the steak in oil (avocado, this time — another new purchase), garlic, and fresh herbs, then grilling over high heat.

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The avocado oil had a beautiful green intensity you probably can’t see here, and a smoother flavor than the grassy olive oil I usually use. It was a good purchase, I’d say. It made a delicious dressing for the dandelion greens, as well, when mixed with sherry vinegar (to add sweetness to the bitter greens), roasted garlic, and a touch of Dijon mustard.

By the way, cranberry beans lose their beautiful pink swirly flair when cooked, but turn so delicious, the trade-off isn’t painful at all.

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