Tag Archives: easy

Jammin’ Collard Greens and Leeks

Wheat free * Dairy free * Gluten free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo~~~

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I never really ate collards until I started working on a cookbook for Sylvia Woods (of Sylvia’s Restaurant fame in Harlem).  She needed a recipe tester for her book “Woods Family Cookbook” (which is really a great book) so I sat with her at her corner table and when she asked about my experience with soul food I confessed I had none.  BUT, I assured her, I was a quick study and once I’ve tasted something I can cook it – and more importantly, create a recipe for it.  So began a great romance – actually two romances…my love of Sylvia, her husband Herbert and their family and my love of soul food.  In her 20’s, Sylvia came up to New York from Hemingway, South Carolina and worked as a waitress in a small diner in Harlem.  Eventually she bought the dinner and started to grow the business to the world famous restaurant and catering business it currently is.

The recipe development process started with me tasting all the dishes Sylvia served at the restaurant – and culminated with one of the greatest weekends of memory.  The theme of the book is recipes from not just Sylvia but also from all her friends and family.  I would test a few in my kitchen and then every Tuesday I would go up to the restaurant and Sylvia would taste them and let me know if they tasted “right” or needed more work.  After about a month, we (Sylvia and her family, the publisher, the public relations person, and I) boarded a plane for South Carolina and we were off for the weekend.  The high point of the weekend was the Sunday lunch at the church where everyone who had submitted a recipe cooked it and brought it with them.  I got to get a real feel for what these recipes were supposed to be and who the people were behind the recipes.  It was  a truly remarkable and memorable experience.  I came back to New York feeling like a real member of the family – and what a wonderful family it is.

We lost Herbert in 2001 and Sylvia in 2012…but just so you get a sense of who they were…in addition to being wonderful people and exceptional hosts, greeting guests making sure everyone was enjoying themselves; every year on the anniversary of the restaurant, Sylvia’s set up a free buffet right outside the restaurant for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to eat.

Sylvia prepared her collards with smoked turkey wings for seasoning.  I developed this vegetarian recipe which, although different from Sylvia’s is just as good in it’s own way.
Continue reading Jammin’ Collard Greens and Leeks

Palak Shorba (Punjabi/Mughlai Spinach Soup)

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo ~~~~

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There’s a pretty good Indian restaurant just a few blocks from my apartment called Swagat.  They make a spinach soup with chicken that I always order and it occurred to me that I could probably make it at home without too much difficulty.  As I often do, I googled Palak Shorba and checked out a few of the recipes.  The one that sounded best to me was by master chef Sanjeev Kapoor.  His recipe is vegetarian, instead of the chicken soup I get at Swagat, and used lots of whole spices.  I simplified the recipe but used a similar flavor profile.  Traditionally Palak Shorba is finished with a bit of cream; but, since I’m dairy free, I use coconut cream instead.   I make this recipe often.  Frequently, I revert to the Swagat version by adding shredded cooked chicken and eating the soup as a main course.

Today I had lunch with my friend Larry at Swagat.  I ordered the Chicken Palak Shorba and brought my own version of Palak Shorba to do a taste comparison.  NO CONTEST…mine was much better.  I was shocked and pleased…Larry agreed with me.

Enjoy!
Continue reading Palak Shorba (Punjabi/Mughlai Spinach Soup)

Better Paleo Soy Sauce and a recipe for Soy Sauce Shrimp

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Tamari (soy sauce minus the wheat), one of the pantry staples I was using when merely gluten-free, is now off limits since I’m paleo and beans are out.  The paleo substitute for soy sauce is coconut aminos.

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It’s true that it tastes sort of soy sauce-y, but in truth it tastes much more like teriyaki sauce – meaning it’s much sweeter and much less salty and concentrated than soy sauce (coconut sap blended with salt – whatever that means).  It actually makes a yummy dipping sauce for sashimi when mixed with wasabi – better than soy sauce to my way of thinking, but when it comes to cooking stir-frying or making marinades, they come out lacking something (flavor?).  Not being someone who rests content with less than good, I let my little scientist alter ego wander and I think I’ve found an excellent answer.  Marmite.  Huh?

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Marmite is a pretty vile tasting goo that is popular with the British, especially the colonials so I am told.  I was having coffee with my friend Pene ( who happens to be South African) and we were talking about breakfasts. She mentioned that one of her favorite breakfast items is buttered toast with Marmite.  In an effort to enlighten me she brought out the the jar of Marmite and put a little on a spoon for me to taste. OMG – ghastly!!!!  The only way I can describe it is a prune colored, thicker than syrup substance that tastes like pure salt with a hint of bitterness.  Now I’ve seen jars of Marmite in stores but never really gave it much thought but now that I tasted it a light bulb went off in my brain – paleo soy sauce!  Think about it…if you thinned out the marmite, wouldn’t that be pretty much the same as soy sauce?  I could have left it at that, but truly I wasn’t looking for an inedible substitute for soy.

I went directly to Zabar’s (our local super delicacy market) and picked up a jar.  When I got home, I started playing with the proportions of marmite to coconut aminos.  I actually needed more Marmite than I had predicted, but in the end, I believe I have a very satisfactory soy sauce for those of us who don’t eat soy.

Here’s the formula:

Heat 1/4 cup coconut aminos in a microwave oven until warm (about 20 seconds);  stir in 1 teaspoon marmite (or more or less to taste) until dissolved.

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Pour into storage container and store in refrigerator.

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Happy Asian Cooking!
Continue reading Better Paleo Soy Sauce and a recipe for Soy Sauce Shrimp

Suya (or Tsire or Chichinga) – Nigerian Grilled Meat Skewers

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Paleo ~~~

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Suya or tsire (also known as chichinga in Ghana) is a Nigerian street food.  The traditional recipe uses roasted peanuts to marinate the meat, but since peanuts are a legume and legumes are not allowed on paleo, I substituted roasted cashews which also gives it a wonderful flavor. On the other hand if you do eat peanuts, feel free to substitute them for the cashews and know that you are having an even more authentic version.  Speaking of authentic versions, although 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne sounds pretty spicy, the truth of the matter is most of the other recipes I looked at used at least 1 teaspoon cayenne – so feel free to increase the cayenne significantly (or decrease it if you are not fond of spicy).   Also, you do not have to limit yourself to beef for these skewers; they would be equally good with chicken, lamb, pork, shrimp, or even goat.

Now you might ask yourself how does a die hard New Yorker, who barely leaves her neighborhood, know of a Nigerian street food?  Good question.  I can’t imagine that I dreamed up the word Suya (or tsire or chichinga) and googled it, nor do I think I googled Nigerian street food – so how did I get there?  I don’t know, but I do know an interesting recipe when I see one and since I’ve been stuck at home with a cold and cough I had time to look for something that piqued my interest.  When I found Suya it struck just the right cord as I generally like to eat really spicy foods when I have a cold because:

a) they are the only thing I can still taste

b) cayenne is excellent to relieve coughs (my home remedy cough medicine starts with 1/4 cup red pepper flakes)

c) I had a defrosted steak and had to figure out something to do with it

So however I got to this recipe I can assure you it was a lucky (and delicious) find.  The salad is completely my own addition – I think spicy food goes so well with light and crunchy salads – and this truly is a dynamic duo (or if you add a beer it would make this a terrific trio).

Enjoy! Continue reading Suya (or Tsire or Chichinga) – Nigerian Grilled Meat Skewers

Paleo Worcestershire Sauce – Better than Lea & Perrins®

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo~~~

I’ll confess I’ve been using Lea & Perrins® Worcestershire sauce even though it’s not strictly paleo (because it contains sugar – definitely not paleo and molasses – most probably not paleo).  I figure the one drop I use in my Bloody Mary mix or tuna salad will not seriously impact my paleo life.  However, when I’m writing recipes for paleo readers; the integrity of the recipe should be maintained using strictest paleo standards.  When I decided to make paleo barbecue sauce (coming to this blog on Tuesday), I wanted to use a fairly good amount of Worcestershire and just omitting it would diminish the flavor profile significantly.

So, I did what I usually do…I googled “paleo Worcestershire sauce.”  Why reinvent the wheel if someone has already done the work?  Frankly, none of the recipes (and there are many) fit my definition of Worcestershire sauce.  They all seemed to use coconut aminos + spices – and in some cases that’s about all.  Others included ingredients like mustard, tomato sauce or paste, orange juice, and sometimes even molasses.  Not good enough for me!

It made sense to me to start with the ingredients on the Worcestershire label: white vinegar, (skip the molasses and sugar), water, salt, onions, anchovies, garlic, cloves, tamarind (a fruit that is very tart, usually found dried in a “cake” or made into a concentrate), chili pepper.  I used some ingredients to add depth to the flavor like the balsamic vinegar and ume plum vinegar and used a little maple syrup to replace the sugar and molasses.

I kept the yield small (1/4 cup) as I think most people probably use even less than 1 teaspoon at a time and I’m not sure about how long it will keep.  Since none of the ingredients are particularly perishable and the vinegar and salt are preservatives, I’m suggesting it can keep 2 weeks, but truly – I will be using it longer.

Here is the result – and I think it’s pretty terrific.

Paleo Worcestershire Sauce Better than Lea & Perrins®

If you don’t have anchovy paste, you can use 1/2 of a canned anchovy. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute 1/2 of a sun-dried tomato for the anchovy.

3 tablespoons boiling water

1 teaspoon dried tamarind or tamarind concentrate (look for it in ethnic markets)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ume plum vinegar or additional white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste or sun-dried tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon grated onion (use the fine side of the grater)

Pinch ground clove

Sprinkle of garlic powder

Dash hot sauce or to taste

In a mini processor or the mini processor attachment of your immersion blender (you did buy one…right?) or blender container, combine the boiling water and tamarind. Let stand 2 minutes to soften the tamarind. Process until completely combined.

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Add the remaining ingredients; process until completely combined.

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Store in covered container in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Makes: scant 1/4 cup

 

 

Super Bowl Curried Chicken Wings with Nut Butter Dipping Sauce

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Paleo ~~~

This being Super Bowl weekend, I would be remiss not to give you at least one recipe for your party.  So here are my Curried Chicken Wings (or any parts you like) with Nut Butter Dipping Sauce.

Let me make some other recipe suggestions from this blog, just in case you missed them (scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit “more…” for the Wings recipe):

Bacon Wrapped Amond Stuffed Dates
Bacon Wrapped Almond Stuffed Dates
Black Olive Tapenade
Black Olive Tapenade
Hidden Treasure Meatballs
Hidden Treasure Meatballs

 

Sweet Potato Empanadas
Sweet Potato Empanadas
Empanadas
Empanadas
Easy Peasy Meatballs
Easy Peasy Meatballs
Melon Stuffed Salami Cornicopia
Melon Stuffed Salami Cornicopia
Tahini Dip
Tahini Dip

Continue reading Super Bowl Curried Chicken Wings with Nut Butter Dipping Sauce

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo

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I Love blizzards. When I went out shopping this afternoon the snow was coming down so hard that the flakes were more like micro-snowballs and some were even flower and star shapes.  I was so excited I stopped a stranger on Broadway and asked him to photograph my glove and email the photo to me – which you can see he did – aren’t New Yorkers the greatest people on earth??? (okay I am biased on that subject).  I was so amazed by these flakes I stopped several people on the street and in Zabar’s to show them. They probably thought I was a nut, but they all praised my flakes and enthusiasm…and then they (the flakes) melted and that was that.

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By 6 when I walked Bella the snow had tapered off to almost nothing I was thinking this is going to end up a dud blizzard  : (  But here it is 1a.m. and I’m giving Bella her last walk of the day and it’s snowing pretty hard : )

Bella Bleu Cheese
Bella Bleu Cheese

The last blizzard we had I sat in my living room reading three Twilight books (it snowed for 3 days and I read one book each day).  It was pure heaven.

In addition to marathon reading, I love to make soup when it’s snowing.  BP (before Paleo) I would make hearty bean soups – split pea or lentil, now I make hearty vegetable soups.  This one is pretty simple and straight forward and delicious.  Everyone who has tasted it has asked for the recipe.  If you have a cabbage in your refrigerator, you probably also have everything else you need to make this soup without having to go to the store.

Here’s hoping I’ll wake up tomorrow to a winter wonderland.  Happy Snow Day!
Continue reading Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Paleo Breakfast

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions many years ago because, let’s be honest, by mid January I would have already abandoned all my resolutions and would be left with severe disappointment in myself.  So why talk about them now?  Well many of my friends, who have not yet figured out the futility of resolutions, are considering trying the Paleo lifestyle and have come to me to talk about it.  The first question is always “what can you eat?”   The second or third question is usually “But what can I eat for breakfast?”  It seems everyone I know eats either oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast and my response “bacon and eggs” is a little horrifying to them.

The standard line about breakfast from many of the Paleo gurus is:  breakfast is just another meal, you can have the same thing as you have at any other meal.  They go on to suggest just having leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.  But I get that breakfast is a special meal and you want “breakfast” food.  For me that translates into “eggs any style” frequently with a side of bacon, sausage, or ham and sometimes home fried potatoes or grilled tomatoes.  What has changed about breakfast is I usually include a salad, it adds a certain healthy (or maybe just less unhealthy) feeling to the meal.  Of course there is always coffee – though learning to drink coffee black with no sweetener was probably the hardest part of going Paleo.

So here’s my New Year’s resolution:  I will create more Paleo breakfast dishes this year so when someone asks me what they can eat I will have an acceptable answer – right on the tip of my tongue.  Here are some of the recipes I’ve already posted that are excellent choices for Paleo breakfast.  Enjoy!

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Mango Chia Seed Pudding with Fruit Topping
Shakshouka
Fruit Smoothy
Fruit Smoothy

Continue reading Paleo Breakfast

Intermezzo: Apple Fennel Salad with Lemon Sorbet

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So I hosted a fund raiser for my synagogue this past Saturday night.  If I must say so myself; the food was quite excellent.  My personal favorite of the evening was a dish that came about unexpectedly.  I had decided that I wanted to make a salad with fennel and apple, but once I put the menu together I just couldn’t figure out when to serve it.  I already had an appetizer (Salmon Tartare) and I didn’t think that kind of salad belonged at the end of the meal.  But just as I was about to let it go I had the inspiration to serve an intermezzo (small palate cleanser – usually sorbet).  I already had the lemon sorbet (Sharon’s my favorite brand), but what if….what if I serve it on top of a refreshing fennel and apple salad?  Perfection! (Except for my friend Dori, who hated it.  I don’t accept responsibility for that since she doesn’t like fennel to begin with.)

You don’t have to serve this salad with sorbet, although the sorbet certainly does enhance the salad.  Or, you can change the flavor of the sorbet if you like – I’m quite sure that pear, mango, or passion fruit would work just as well.  Either way I think you will love it (unless, of course, you don’t like fennel to begin with – in which case substitute celery for the fennel).  Enjoy!
Continue reading Intermezzo: Apple Fennel Salad with Lemon Sorbet

I Love My Grill – grilled vegetables

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What says summer more than grilling? As I sit in my den and the temperature outside is 11F, the idea of grilling is really appealing.

Living in an apartment in New York City is, in most things – Great.  However, having an outdoor grill tends to be problematic.   I figure even people with outdoor grills may be interested in indoor grills for December, January and February.  So let’s look at the options for indoor grilling.

First, and probably easiest is the broiler in your stove.  You already own it and anything that can be grilled can be broiled – the only difference is you never get those pretty grill marks.

Also available for use with/on the stove are stove top grill pans.  The Murphy pan and variations of it are pans (frequently cast iron) with ridges that you heat over your burner/s.  They do pretty good job of grilling.  The food gets cooked nicely and has pretty grill marks, but not the same char flavor that comes from direct heat.

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    A second type of stovetop grill is this smokeless grill, I used to own one but it took too long to grill and was so big it wasn’t worth the storage space.

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  • There are also lots of electric griddles/grills, Google them or go to Amazon to see the huge variety available to you.
    I want to talk about the one I own The Griddler
    Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler, 7.12...
    For many years I owned/used the George Foreman grill – and frankly it did a fine job, especially considering how affordable it is.   I found I was using it very often but it was kind of small.  So I started shopping for a slightly better replacement and ended up with The Griddler made by Cuisinart.
    Here’s what I love about it – it does a great job; it cooks meats quickly searing the outside beautifully; it’s both a grill and griddle; you can open it and lie it flat – which is great when you are making pancakes for a crowd; it’s easy to clean (though I confess I could do a better job of that) – the metal plates pop out easily; it has a waffle option; it’s not hideously expensive (about $80).  On the down side, like the stovetop grills, the char flavor is not the same as an outdoor grill.
    The litmus test for kitchen equipment is:  will I use it often enough to waste precious counter space for it – and The Griddler earns a definite YES!
    I highly recommend this product and hope you love it as much as I  do.
    Here’s how I make my grilled vegetables…

    Continue reading I Love My Grill – grilled vegetables