Primal Check-in

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 the ingredients — sweet, salty, sour and spicy — undiminished. It topped a simple salad of shaved Napa cabbage, baby spinach, cilantro and lime juice.

Salad with Peanut Dressing | Amy Roth Photo

But man does not live by salad alone, so I made a rich carrot soup to accompany it. You can see from the photo at the top of the post that it was vibrant enough to ward off even the grayest day. Again, the key to Thai cooking is balancing the various flavors and even though this recipe isn’t in any way traditional, I think I did a pretty good job of it. I roasted the carrots to heighten their sweetness so I wouldn’t have to add sugar to the dish, added some cauliflower to keep the texture smooth and velvety and spiced it up at the end with a judicious sprinkling of dried Thai red peppers. Check out the recipe at the end of this post.

Chili | Amy Roth Photo

After being cooped up in the house for the better part of a week, 15 degree temps were NOT going to keep us from our regular Sunday morning greyhound hike. We were all going a little stir crazy. While doing about four miles bundled up will keep you from freezing in place, it still took several hours (and a long nap) to warm up once we were home. This chili took the last of the edge off. I made it with grass-fed beef and about a cup of smoked brisket that came home with us after the Christmas holidays. To amp up the nutrition, I added lots of carrots and celery, then finished it off with mustard greens and baby spinach leaves. Grass-fed cheese and pickled jalapenos added creaminess and a vibrant pop of flavor.

Baked Sweet Potato | Amy Roth Photo

And then we went really basic for lunch today. I microwaved two sweet potatoes and topped them with some grass-fed butter and sautéed garlicky leftover greens, featuring the undressed leftover salad from above with mustard greens for flavor. And for such a simple lunch, it was packed with flavor. Definitely a winner and something that can be put on the table in less than 30 minutes.

I’m really happy with the way this challenge is going. In fact, I’ve decided to join the official Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge that started at Mark’s Daily Apple today!

Thai-Spiced Roasted Carrot Soup

Allergy Fish
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Appetizer, Lunch, Main Dish, Soup, Starter
This gluten-free/dairy-free soup relies on roasting the carrots for extra sweetness, then balancing them with sour, salty and spicy elements common in Thai cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 1lb organic carrots (scrubbed)
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 Medium yellow or white onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 head cauliflower (broken into florets)
  • 1 roasted red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • water
  • 1 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • salt (to taste)
  • dried Thai red peppers

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss whole carrots with 2 teaspoons olive oil and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a knife can be easily inserted into the thickest part of the thickest carrot. Cool, then coarsely chop carrots.
In a large pot, heat remaining 3 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. When oil shimmers in the pan, add chopped onion, garlic and celery and sauté until softened. Add Thai curry paste and turmeric, mix well with sautéed vegetables, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add carrots, cauliflower, roasted red pepper and coconut milk to pot and stir well. Add water to come about 3/4 of the way up the vegetables and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to keep at a simmer until cauliflower has softened.
In a high speed blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth and creamy. Wipe out pot and pour soup back into it. Season with lime juice and fish sauce to taste and add salt, if necessary. Garnish with dried pepper flakes.

At Least Thanksgiving Dessert is Set

Thanksgiving is coming! Yikes! I’ve been bookmarking recipes on my “Thanksgiving” Pinterest page for a few weeks, but somehow lost track of time and now it feels like:

I’LLNEVERGETEVERYTHINGDONEOMGRUNAWAYRUNAWAYRUNAWAY!

Deep breaths…

I’ve never been one for making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, I was planning to serve my Short Rib Ragu as the main this year, but my father-in-law ordered a turkey for us instead, so we’re going with a tried-and-true menu! We’ll pick up the bird Wednesday, which means no dry brining for us, but I’ve found a few traditional recipes that should do the trick, either alone or in combination. The bird will be 18 POUNDS for only five of us and I really don’t know if my refrigerator can accommodate such a large bird, but at least we’ll have plenty of gumbo over the weekend, if anyone wants to join us.

Seriously. Please join us.

So as far as I can tell, we’ll have a fairly traditional Thanksgiving, with:

Nibbles

  • Cheeses, olives and Prosecco
  • Endive with figs, blue cheese, chopped walnuts and a drizzle of honey and balsamic vinegar

Main Course

  • Turkey – I’m leaning toward this simple recipe, though Peking-style sounds amazing, and I wonder if breaking apart the bird before roasting would be the better course of action. I can break a raw chicken into parts without mangling it most days, but fear this beast will be too much for me to handle.

Sides

  • Purple potatoes, either salt roasted whole or prepared this way
  • Kale salad, which I’ll try to replicate from a salad I threw together a couple of Thanksgivings ago. I really should start writing things down!
  • Alton Brown’s cornbread
  • Green beans, maybe? I’m leaning toward the version on this Pinterest board with lemon and capers. What do you think?

Dessert

  • Apple Pie from Auntie El’s in Sloatsburg, NY (There’s no website, sorry.)
  • Sweet Potato Chiffon Puddings (picture above, recipe below)

While the menu doesn’t sound inspired, exactly, it will be the type of cooking I enjoy doing — simple home cooking that relies on fresh, whole ingredients. I’d love to throw in some of the traditional Cajun foods I grew up with (like my grandpa’s Oyster Dressing or Uncle Phil’s Cornbread Dressing), but I’d be the only one to eat them. And sentimentality aside, that’s a lot of work and expense for an already-busy holiday. Also, I can usually count on my dad to make oyster dressing at Christmas, so it isn’t that long of a wait.

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you spending it with family, taking in strays or maybe escaping completely and going on vacation (preferably someplace warm)?

Sweet Potato Chiffon Puddings

Allergy Egg, Milk
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Dessert
Misc Pre-preparable
These gluten-free Sweet Potato Chiffon Puddings have an airy texture, spicy orange flavor and can be made ahead in individual servings, so they're perfect for a dinner party or Thanksgiving gathering.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1lb roasted sweet potato (peeled)
  • 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 3 Large egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3 Large egg whites (room temperature)
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Note

If you'd like to make your own pumpkin pie spice, I highly recommend this recipe at My Baking Addiction.

I'm thinking a thin layer of caramel, dulce de leche or cajeta would be a delicious addition between the sweet potato and whipped cream layers.

I adapted this recipe from my favorite Sweet Potato Pie and this recipe for Pumpkin Chiffon Pie at Chow.

Directions

Pour orange juice and Grand Marnier into a small measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin evenly over the surface. Set aside for later.
In a food processor, add sweet potato, milk, brown sugar, egg yolks, pie spice and salt, and pulse until smooth. Pour into a medium saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove pan from heat, add orange-gelatin mixture and orange zest and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
Pour egg whites into a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and add cream of tartar. Whisk on high speed until whites start to form medium peaks, about one minute. Add sugar a little at a time and whisk until stiff peaks form, about another minute and a half.
Using a rubber spatula, fold half the egg whites into the cooled sweet potato mixture until no streaks are visible, then repeat with the remaining egg whites.
Either spoon the pudding into individual serving cups and chill or cover bowl and refrigerate pudding until ready to serve.
Just before serving, whisk heavy cream until soft peaks form. Top puddings with the cream and sprinkle with ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg or crumbled gingersnaps, if desired.

Day 15, Sweet Potato Pie

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 15

Today, we liberate sweet potato pie from the tyranny of Thanksgiving! We free it from the bonds of turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans! No more shall this dessert be relegated to one holiday when 364 days of the year are so glaringly sweet potato pie-deficient. Radiating a spirit of Christmas generosity, give the world a slice of heaven; I assure you, no right-minded pie-eating person could deny it.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 15

Like a lot of people, I grew up eating pumpkin pie, which was fine because I didn’t know better; the spices were there, but the flabby, wet consistency was a turnoff. I grew up with this idea that sweet potato pie could be amazing because my dad gets this dreamy look in his eyes when he talks about the ones his co-worker used to bring in. But he never tried to duplicate them at home, so sometime in adulthood I discovered sweet potato pie on my own and wondered if there were other secrets my family kept from me all those years. If you can have the real thing, why suffer through a Jell-o approximation?

W. Kamau Bell put sweet potato pie front and center in his Thanksgiving episode, maintaining, “Black people like sweet potato pie and white people are wrong.” If the breakdown is that stark, then yeah, he’s got us there. So I’m getting evangelical about it . . . Make This Pie! The gluten-free version is just as good as the regular, so you really have no excuse.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 15

I also made my own pie spice, using the recipe here. Totally worth it to have something so fresh and, you know, spicy on hand. As the recipe yields a lot, it gives me plenty of reason to make more pies as often as possible.

So treat yourself this holiday season. Make a sweet potato pie.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Day 15, Sweet Potato Pie”

Sweet potato chips

These sweet potato chips came about simply because I wanted to enter the photo contest at Leite’s Culinaria. The rules were simple: Contestants could choose any recipe on the site to cook as written, then photograph the dish in any manner of their choosing. No crazy digital shenanigans beyond tweaking white balance and exposure were allowed.

As it turned out, I had a couple of problems with this:

  1. For about a month, I literally could not decide on a recipe to cook. Everything sounded delicious, but no one recipe jumped out at me visually.
  2. When I finally decided on this recipe (mainly because I had all of the ingredients in the house and the day was drawing to a close), cooked it and took my pictures, the images didn’t seem contest-appropriate.

So… I didn’t enter. /facepalm

But these chips were absolutely delicious, and you deserve to know about them. Sea Salt and Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips. Try them now. Don’t let my neuroses stop you!