The dream of a ridiculous man by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
One of Us by John Fante
Romantic tiny forest home built in 6 weeks for $4,000 by Kimberley Mok
The Beauty of Code by Vikram Chandra
So what have you been up to?
My oven is broken, again. Same thing happened about 3 or 4 months ago. I took it back to the store. The funny thing is, they come and fix appliances at home if they weigh 30 kg or over, the oven weighs 29,5 kg. It was fixed 2 weeks later, worked for about 3 months and now it is down again and I’m pretty sure it’s the same issue. I rely heavily on that oven for my cooking, yet I don’t want to go through the hassle of bringing it in for repair, again. So, I’m now officially postponing the trip and looking for ways to get around using an oven, which is going surprisingly well. However, cookies? That’s a tricky thing. Today I bought a brown spice cookie blend, a mixture of cinnamon ( 57%), cilantro, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and orange zest ; which I desperately wanted to use. So I had to find a way to make cookies without an oven and I didn’t feel like doing one of those raw recipes. Although the recipe that I came up with is somewhat inspired by a raw pie crust I once made. Anyway I ended up with a fig almond brown spice cookie that is super easy to make and has christmas written all over it.
So what do you need for these pan-baked christmas cookies?
- 3 to 4 dried figs
- 1 cup of almond flour
- 1 teaspoon of sea-salt
- 1 tablespoon of brown spice blend ( as described above, but it doesn’t have to be exactly the same, if you’ve got cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and a hint of ginger it should be ok)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon if melted coconut oil
Mix all the ingredients in a powerful blender until you’ve got a sticky workable mass( I used 3 figs but it depends on the size of your figs so you should just look at the structure and judge for yourself if it needs an extra fig or not) you should be able to work it like clay ( although it won’t feel like clay), if it feels crumbly you need another fig. Roll into small balls, the size of a medium sized marble. Take a skillet and put on medium heat, add your balls ( your balls have coconut oil in them so there’s no need to add any butter or cooking oil to the skillet) and press them down so you get a small flat round shaped cookies. ( the idea is that you can easily flip them using a fork or a spoon without them falling apart, which will happen if you go for too big a cookie) , bake each side for about 2 minutes ( make sure neither side burns) and you’re done. You can eat these warm or let them cool down. These cookies are crunchy on the outside yet soft and sticky on the inside.
- If you leave out the egg yolk and the coconut oil you can serve these as raw fig balls.
- If you don’t have any dried figs you can use dates but this will give it a totally different flavor and the figs just happen to go really well with this spice mix.
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As promised, more roasted bell pepper recipes will follow. first in line is a light lunch salad. I’m still trying to mix my 6 flavors to see if this benefits me in the long run ( as discussed in the 6 flavor lamb chop recipe, ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine argue that combining the 6 flavors is essential for good health). Even if it doesn’t, I love the challenge. One of the things I’ve learned from going gluten-free, dairy free and eventually paleo is that you can still do an awful lot under the restrictions that those types of diets impose on you. It forces you to think outside the box, look for new combinations or new means to cook up a good meal. I welcome and love these kind of food related challenges since they inspire me and push me to experiment and try new things. So what do you need for this roasted pepper and tuna salad? ( for 1 person)
- 1 roasted, peeled and sliced bell pepper
- 1 small can of tuna
- 1 medium-sized grated carrot
- 2 grated radishes
- Half a cucumber ( slice the seeds out and grate it)
- juice from half a lemon
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- A handful of samphire
- Cayenne pepper, salt
Remark: The photo above pictures the salad without the samphire, I ran out of samphire so I added a leaf of mint to add some color. But trust me, you need that samphire to give it that delicious salty flavor and some extra crunch.
Serve with homemade iced green tea. ( recipe coming up)
Yuca is my latest obsession, from fries to bread to this slightly sweet and gooey mash with caramelised Brussel sprouts and incredibly juicy pork chops. So there’s a lot more yuca recipes to follow. But for this recipe I want to focus on something else, the pork chops. Why am I being so particular about them? Well honestly, you could use any kind of pork chops for this recipe, it’s completely up to you ( and your budget) but your regular pork chops don’t compare to these. They don’t come close, those who have tried Berkshire meat know what I’m talking about, for those who haven’t tried it yet, I urge you to do so. The meat is absolutely incredible, it’s the best thing I ever tasted ( meat-wise). Berkshire pigs are not just your ordinary pigs, this rare breed which originates from the Berkshire region in the UK is world-renowned for its tenderness, flavor and abundant marbling. The meat has a darker color and more fat. While most industrialized pigs are fed corn and soybeans the pasture-raised Berkshire pigs are usually given vegetables, fruits, molasses and oats and are kept anti-biotic growth-hormone and stress-free and this shows in the meat. Enough about the meat, on with the recipe.
- 1 yuka, peeled and slices in cubes
- 400 gram of Brussel sprouts ( cleaned , stem cut off and outer leaves removed)
- 2 pork chops
Bring your yuca to the boil ( medium-sized pot, high heat) , bring your sprouts to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan for 5 minutes. Drain the water and put your pan back on the stove, add some butter and bake your spouts on medium to high heath for another 7 to 10 minutes until the sprouts start to caramelize. Melt some butter in a cast iron skillet on high heat, cook the pork chops for about 4 minutes on each side ( the meat should be barely pink at the centre and the fat should be slightly crispy). flavor with pepper and salt and let the meat rest for 5 minutes before serving it. So your sprouts should be caramelised now, bring them to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Your yuca should be fully cooked by the time all of this is done, so drain the water and mash your yuca with a few tablespoons of butter, flavor with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
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Most people will wrinkle their nose at the thought of organ meat, however the nutritional value is superior to the (nowadays) more desired cuts. When wolves kill their prey they go for the offals before eating the rest of the carcass, the Inuit consider liver a choice cut ( except for polar bear liver, which is fatal due to the high dose of vitamin A) and in the olden days the organs were saved for those in the highest ranks of society. Not only are they very nutrient dense, they are a lot cheaper than lean meat. So you’re saving money while getting the healthiest cuts from the animal. So why not give it a go? Even though you might initially cringe at the thought of eating liver, kidneys, hearts and brains, once you get over your disgust you will find that most of those meat are actually pretty tasty. While liver has a very distinct flavor ( although this varies, the taste of beef liver is way more outspoken than the taste of chicken liver, which actually tastes quite mild) , veal heart tastes really similar to steak although it has a different texture ( more of a bite to it), so it’s a good one to start of with. I’m going to give you a recipe for veal heart with cranberry sauce and leek mash in which we’ll pan-sear the heart but you could also slow cook it in a stew.
( this serves 2 people)
For the hearts:
- 2 veal hearts (+/-250 grams each), trimmed of sinew, halved crosswise
For the mash:
- +/- 500 gr russet potatoes
- 3 leeks
For the cranberry sauce:
- 250gr of fresh cranberries
- 1 gala apple ( core removed and cut into slices)
- +/-1 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- A sliver of butter
Melt some butter in a medium sized cooking pan, add the cranberries and apples and let it cook. Let the cranberries boil for a couple of minutes, take a blender and blend until you’ve got a smooth sauce. Mix in the honey and a (couple of )cups of water to get the prefered consistency ( I like my sauce on the heavy side so I only added 1, if the sauce is still too sour for your liking add some extra honey). Let it boil for a couple more minutes and your sauce is ready to be served. ( this sauce can easily be kept in the freezer, cranberries usually come in bags of about 450 gram so you can double the quantities in the recipe and freeze half of your sauce)
Peel and slice your potatoes into smaller pieces so they boil faster. Put them in a large pot of water and boil your potatoes on high heat ( This should take 15 to 20 minutes) . While you’re boiling your potatoes you can start cutting up your leeks ( slice them thinly), I use the white part and the green part but not the leaves ( some people will only use the white part, I think the green part tastes just fine so it would be wasteful not to use it). Once they are done put some butter into a medium sized cooking pan , let it melt and add the leeks. Keep on high heat and stir every couple of minutes ( as not to burn them), I like my leeks to get a little crispy and golden brown, which takes +/- 15 minutes ( if you prefer them soft and uncolored keep them at medium heat for about 20 min and stir more frequently) add nutmeg, salt and pepper. When your potatoes are done drain them, add a couple of spoons of butter and start mashing them, stir your leeks into the mash.
Pan-sear your veal hearts, which will only take 4 to 7 . Take a large sized skillet, melt some butter and start baking your veal hearts. You bake them like you would bake a steak. You can quickly brown your outsides while keeping the inside medium-rare (or you could go for well-done, if that’s your thing, keep in mind that the meat will start to taste tougher the longer you bake it). season them with salt and pepper and serve with the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.
Image by fdicct