Saturday, December 19, 2015

Quick Preserved Lemons

California lemon season lasts from December to May, though lemons may remain on the tree all year here if they're not picked. They're delicious juiced, zested, infused in wine, and whipped into lemon meringue pies. But I find that only goes so far in really maximizing the lemon harvest. Enter, preserved lemons.

Preserved lemons have a bright, briny flavor and chewy texture. They can be used in risotto, lemon and artichoke pasta, chopped with parsley for an out-of-this-world gremolata, and to make a boss harissa. They also make a perfect easy DIY Christmas gift. 
Some recipes call for preserving lemons for several weeks. Although the flavor does improve over time, you can begin using the lemons in as few as five days after preserving them. Here is my recipe for quick preserved lemons, loosely based on a recipe in the cookbook Gjelina by Travis Lett. My version is much smaller and designed for home kitchens. 

Yield 1/2 pint 

1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 lemons, scrubbed
1/4 cup sea salt
1/4 teaspoon red chili flake 

1. Toast the coriander and fennel seed in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the red chili flake and set aside. 

2. Cut the lemons into wedges lengthwise. 

3. Pour one tablespoon of salt and a generous pinch of the spices into a perfectly clean mason jar. Squeeze the juice from two of the lemon wedges into the jar and swirl gently. Stuff the lemon rinds down into the salt and juice. 

4. Top with another tablespoon of salt and a pinch of spices. Squeeze the juice from another two lemon quarters into the jar and then add the rinds. Repeat until the jar is full and the lemon rinds are fully submerged in juice, finishing with salt and spices. You may end up using all of the juice but not having room for two of the lemon rinds. 

5. Cover with a clean lid and place in a cool dark place for five days before using. Refrigerate after opening.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Five-Spice Pork Sirloin Roast with Radicchio and Pear Sauce and Book Giveaway

On January 12, 2016, my new book Sheet Pan Paleo: 200 One-Tray Recipes for Quick Prepping, Easy Roasting, and Hassle-Free Cleanup comes out. Pre-order a copy of Sheet Pan Paleo from Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Or, enter to win a free copy of by entering the Goodreads Giveaway sponsored by my publisher. For now, here's one of my favorite recipes from the book.

Five-Spice Pork Sirloin Roast with Radicchio and Pear Sauce 

This recipe has all the warmth, sweetness, and spice you look for in a holiday dinner. If you’re comfortable eating dairy, add a few tablespoons of softened butter or ghee to the pear sauce for an extra layer of decadence.

Serves 4 to 6

Prep time: 15 minutes plus 4 to 6 hours for brining
Cook time: 50 to 60 minutes 
1½ tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder, divided
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 boneless pork sirloin roast, 2 to 3 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 head radicchio, sliced in wedges
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pears, cored and sliced in wedges
2 tablespoons butter or ghee, optional
1.      Combine 1 tablespoon of the Chinese five-spice powder with the vinegar, maple syrup, and salt in a non-reactive deep dish. Add half a cup of hot water and whisk to combine. Add two cups of ice water. Submerge the pork roast in the brine, adding more water as needed to cover. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
2.      Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3.      Remove the pork roast from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Coat with 1 tablespoon of the oil to facilitate browning. Roast uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes per pound of meat. (e.g. For a 2-pound roast, cooking time would be between 50 and 60 minutes.)
4.      During the last 30 minutes of cooking, whisk together the vinegar, remaining oil, and remaining five-spice powder. Dredge the radicchio slices in the vinegar mixture and scatter across the sheet pan along with the pear slices. Return to the oven and roast uncovered until the pork is cooked through to an internal temperature of 145F.
5.      Remove the pork to a cutting board and cover with foil for 10 minutes before slicing.
6.      Place the pears in a blender along with any pan juices and butter or ghee if using and puree until smooth.
7.      Slice the meat on a bias and serve with the sauce and radicchio.

 Excerpted from the book Sheet Pan Paleo: 200 One-Tray Recipes for Quick Prepping, Easy Roasting, and Hassle-Free Cleanup, January 12, 2016, Ulysses Press, Berkley. 

Pre-order a copy of Sheet Pan Paleo from Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Or, enter to win a free copy of by entering the Goodreads Giveaway sponsored by my publisher. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Grilled Ginger Sesame Portobello Mushrooms and Kale - Vegan and Paleo

I purchased portobello mushrooms a couple weeks ago to make mushroom napoleons with poached eggs and spinach. I wrapped them in a paper bag and put them in the refrigerator and then forgot about them completely. Fortunately, storing mushrooms in paper is the absolute best way to keep them fresh. So, although they were slightly wilted and dry, that only intensified their flavor.

Feel free to use crimini or button mushrooms, if that's what you have. Crimini mushrooms, also called baby bellas, are, as you might have guessed, simply immature portobello mushrooms.

Serves four for an appetizer (one for an entree) 

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
Pinch red chili flake 
Juice of one lime
1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup 
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 4 portobello mushrooms
4 cups shredded kale
2 green onions, thinly sliced on a bias 

1. Combine the ginger, garlic, chili flake, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup in a glass jar. Drizzle the olive oil into the dressing, whisking constantly to emulsify.

2. Place them gill-side up and pour half of the dressing over them. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Pour the excess marinade from the mushrooms, shaking to remove any excess. Place them gill-side down on a preheated outdoor grill or grill pan over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Flip and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Remove the mushrooms from the grill and allow to rest for 2 minutes.

5. While the mushrooms are resting, toss the kale with half of the remaining dressing and arrange it on a serving platter.

6. Slice the mushrooms into thin pieces and place them atop the kale. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and top with green onions. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Paleo Vegetarian Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie combines everything wonderful about fall and winter into one dish – thick and savory broth, moist dark meat chicken, and sweet peas and carrots enveloped in a buttery pastry. For my family, however, it combines all of the things we cannot or choose not to eat, wheat, dairy, and meat (Rich has been a vegetarian since before I met him). 

For years, I’ve looked at chicken pot pie longingly, wishing I could adapt it to all of our dietary preferences. I finally decided to tackle it an am so glad I did. Here’s what I learned:

First, individual serving dishes allow you to tailor each one to suit each person’s taste. Chicken for me and the kids. Freshly ground pepper for me and Rich. 

Second, the best thing about many meaty dishes is the sauce or other flavors you add to it. Chicken pot pie is no different. Capture the essence of the dish and it’s a win! 

This version is both paleo and can be vegetarian (simply leave out the chicken or replace it with diced mushrooms), which means it’s also dairy free (use palm shortening instead of butter) and gluten free.

Serves 4 

2 cups blanched almond flour
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 medium egg, whisked
1 tablespoon ice water
2 tablespoons butter or palm shortening 

1 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
3 carrots, sliced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken, optional
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt 

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Coat the interior of four 2-cup ramekins with butter or palm shortening. 

2. To make the pastry, combine the almond flour, tapioca starch, and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times just to combine. Add the egg and ice water and process until thoroughly integrated. Add the butter or palm shortening and pulse a few times, allowing small bits to remain. 

3. Remove the dough, place on a sheet of parchment paper and top with a second sheet. Roll the dough out between the sheets. Fold the dough in thirds, as if folding a business letter, and roll out again. If it seems sticky, slide it onto a sheet pan and place in the freezer for 5 minutes. 

4. Turn a ramekin upside down on the pastry dough to trace a circle around it with a sharp knife. You will need to re-roll the dough for the final circle. Allow the pastry to rest in the refrigerator while you get on with the filling. 

5. Combine the tapioca starch and 3 tablespoons of the vegetable broth in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining vegetable broth. Add the vegetables, thyme, and sea salt. If using chicken, add it now. Divide the mixture between the ramekins. 

6. If you have little ones, use two 6-ounce ramekins instead of one of the larger ones so each kiddo gets his or her own portion.

7. Top each ramekin with pastry and press the edges down to create a seal. Pierce the top with a sharp knife a few times to allow steam to escape. 

8. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I have the slightest obsession with the show Chopped on Food Network. Contestants, most of them professional chefs, receive a basket of mystery ingredients and have to transform them into an appetizer, entree, or dessert within 20 to 30 minutes.

That's pretty much how I feel every time I open my refrigerator to prepare dinner on the last day before I go grocery shopping.

Tonight I had some leftovers that needed to be put to good use: roasted chicken and potatoes, caramelized onions, and a half bottle of Cabernet. I also had a handful of fresh rosemary that Cole picked from our neighbor's yard. I feigned frustration. Want me to carry that home for you darling?

Have I mentioned how much I love California? Food grows everywhere here!

So this is what I came up with, a gluten-free pizza crust slathered in a Cabernet reduction barbecue sauce and topped with roasted chicken, sliced potatoes, caramelized onions, and fresh rosemary. It is lovely without cheese, but it would be absolutely epic with fontina.

As I ate it, I imagined Chris Santos saying it was the best bite he had enjoyed all day. Hey, a girl can dream. 

Yields 1 pizza

1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cabernet
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

1 gluten-free pizza crust*

1 cup cooked chicken, roughly chopped
1 cooked potato, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup caramelized onion (from about half an onion)

*I prepared my pizza crust from scratch from the cookbook Gluten Free Baking Classics by Annalise G Roberts. It is my go-to for gluten free baking recipes.

  1. To make the barbecue sauce, cook the onion and garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the wine and cook down until almost completely reduced. Add all of the remaining ingredients and cook for another two minutes until the flavors come together. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Ladle the barbecue sauce over the pizza crust . Top with the chicken, potato, onion, cheese (if using), and rosemary.
  3. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese has melted.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Roasted Asparagus with Crisp Fried Peel

I have long appreciated the "nose to tail" way of thinking about cooking animals. It is so honoring to the life of the animal to raise it sustainably, harvest it humanely, and then use every potion, wasting little or none.

Now chefs are talking about a similarly beautiful concept, "root to stalk", which utilizes all edible portions of the plant in cooking. I first heard about it while reading the absolutely epic cookbook Manresa; An Edible Reflection, written by chef David Kinch of the Los Gatos restaurant Manresa.

I approached this spring's first bouquet of asparagus with this approach. Typically, I remove the woody ends of asparagus spears with a vegetable peeler and am left with a heap of thin but tough ribbons of the vegetable. This week, I tossed this pile in two batches into hot oil and fried it for about 90 seconds until crisp, drained it on a paper towel, and salted it. It provided a delightful textural contrast to the creamy first-harvest asparagus spears. I'm so excited to explore other root-to-stalk cooking methods.

serves 4

1 bunch asparagus
coconut oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
red wine vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. 
  2. If the ends are dry, remove a small segment from each asparagus spear. Peel the bottom two inches of each spear with a vegetable peeler. 
  3. Place the asparagus on a large square of parchment paper. Drizzle with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold the parchment to form a small package, also referred to as en papillote. Roast for 20 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat about 1/2-inch of coconut oil in a sauce pan. When it is very hot, fry the asparagus peels in two or three batches, being sure not to crowd the pan. Use tongs to remove each batch, setting it on a paper towel to drain. Season generously with salt. Repeat until all of the peels are cooked.
  5. When the asparagus has finished cooking set it on a serving platter and sprinkle with red wine vinegar. Top with the fried peel and serve immediately. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Paleo Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt

Hello, darlings. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and if you're like me, you have no taste for cloying milk chocolate confections, never mind the roulette of trying to pick one from the box that isn't filled with orange cream.

You can of course purchase from an artisan chocolate maker, such as Moonstruck, a favorite in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Or you can make your own and choose only the flavors you love.

I opted for sea salt and cacao nib crusted and cinnamon-cayenne dusted truffles. The fillings are the same and are both paleo and vegan. They would be raw as well, but I use a roasted almond butter.

yields 2 dozen

1/2 cup roasted, salted almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup cacao nibs
sea salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt

  1. Combine the filling ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in a shallow dish in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally and chill until nearly set. The consistency should allow you to easily scoop and shape into balls.
  2. Remove the chocolate in one-teaspoon portions and use a pair of spoons to shape roughly into a ball. For the cacao nib and sea salt version, sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt and then roll in the cacao nibs. 
  3. Alternately, combine the cinnamon, cocoa, cayenne, and sea salt in a shallow dish and roll the truffles to coat. 
  4. You may need to pause mid-way through the process and chill for another few minutes. 
  5. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.