Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category (feed)

How to Cook Hearts, Liver, and Gizzards

This guide shows how to cook animal and poultry hearts, liver, and gizzards in 4-5 different ways. It’s very easy, and the variation between all the different ways is small.


Pork heart with king trumpet mushrooms a’la creme

Ingredients for the main recipe (for 2)
* 400 gr of hearts or liver (from either lamb, goat, beef, pork)
* 100 gr of Eryngii (king trumpet/oyster) mushrooms OR 1 large onion OR 1 bell pepper
* A handful of fresh spinach [optional]
* 2 tbspoons crème fraîche or European style sour cream (probiotic)
* 1 tbspoon coconut oil
* Salt & black pepper (or Hungarian paprika)

Method
1. Cut the hearts or liver in thin 0.5″ vertical slices. Wash them.
2. Wash and cut the mushrooms in vertical stripes. If you’re using the onion or peppers instead, cut them as you would onion rings, horizontally.
3. If your heart or liver is from beef or pork, consider boiling it for 30 minutes first, and then discard that water. This will make them less smelly. Young goat/sheep offal doesn’t smell bad, so that step is not required.
4. Heat the coconut oil in medium heat, and stir-fry the heart until it’s golden brown and almost cooked through.
5. Add the mushrooms (or onions, or bell peppers), and stir-fry them until they get golden brown too.
6. Add the spinach, and stir for 5-10 seconds.
7. Turn off the heat, remove from hot stove. Add salt and pepper. Add the crème fraîche, stir well. Serve hot!


Alternative way after step #4 above (Greek style):
5. Add the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of oregano.
6. Stir well. Serve with potato, sweet potato, or vegetable fries.

Note: The Greek style version of the recipe is also applicable to pork belly! That’s how we eat it in Greece!


Alternative way after step #4, for poultry hearts/liver/gizzards:

5. Pour everything into a cooking pan.
6. Chop down a small onion. Stir-fry it for 1 minute.
7. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce (or chopped, fresh tomatoes), and 1 cup of water.
8. Add some chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.
9. Cover, and cook until most liquid has vaporized.
10. Serve with baked spaghetti squash. The picture below shows it with rice, but that’s an old picture of mine, before I stopped eating grains. The rest of the recipe is as described though.


Finally, an alternative way to do gizzards, as a stew, can be found here.

Cod Liver, a forgotten superfood

This was my snack today at tea time: cod liver from Norway (unfortunately, canned). This was the very first time I had this, so I expected a very fishy taste. But thankfully, its taste is very mild, it resembles duck foie gras! I ate it as-is, but I watched a recipe about it over at Martha Stewart’s website (by an Icelandic chef), and the consensus is that it tastes like “lite” foie gras. A lot of D3 and vitamin A in it too, one of these superfoods that people never eat. Even better when fermented. Considering that this is much healthier than non-wild, forced-fed ducks and that it costs about 30x cheaper than true foie gras, I think it’s a great choice.

I love omelets!

With that new non-stick frying pan I can make some killer omelets. I usually use oyster mushrooms, but for my brunch today I used chopped sausage in it, and chopped green onions. I fried these in coconut oil. A few minutes later I added a small handful of spinach, a minute later I added two eggs with a a splash of milk (beaten together), and salt & pepper. Then I lifted the edges of the omelet a few times so most liquid gets cooked, while moving the pan in circular motion. Finally, I added blue cheese (soft goat cheese log is also great) on top. As long as the omelet is then left to cook enough underneath (another minute or so), in medium heat, it comes out easily from the pan in one piece (shake the pan forwards and backwards a few times to get the omelet to unstick). Yum!


A little secret about bone broths

One of the superfoods of the Paleo/Primal diets is the bone broth. Drinking it as-is, or cooking stews with it will provide the individual with a lot of minerals and other nutritional advantages: from calcium, to phosphorus, and collagen and Magnesium. Mark Sisson has a great article about the how and whys of bone marrow broths.

However, I have a little known secret about how to get a good bone broth, at a fraction of the price of grass-fed beef bones. See, the few times I bought grass-fed beef bones (and they were not even marrow bones), cost me $22 here in the Bay Area. I’m sorry, but that’s an excessive price for a bunch of bones. Unfortunately, since bones (and liver) are the mirror of how the animal lived its life, I’m not willing to buy non-grass-fed beef bones, and I’m definitely not going to use chicken bones. The quality of the animal must be top-notch to make a bone broth (or eat its offal).

Speaking of chickens, it defeats the whole purpose of the bone broth if it is made from chickens that are younger than 2 years old. We have a saying in Greece: “it’s the older hen that has the extra juice”. Young chickens, especially those that have never walked in their lives, are near-useless when it comes to extracting nutrients out of them. They are sick, and undeveloped. Free-range, older chickens, ducks and turkeys are the better choice.

So if most chickens are unsuitable, and good beef bones are too expensive, what to do? My suggestion is that you go for lamb and goat bones! They are just as nutritious as beef (if not more, especially goats), and the great thing about them is that 90% of them in the US are pastured-raised! Exactly because most Americans don’t eat much sheep/goat, the meat industry hasn’t put its claws around these animals yet to industrialize them. So when you buy meat from these animals, you have a huge chance of actually buying healthy meat!

The best place to buy such meats (including their equally nutritious offal) is Mediterranean shops, but some Mexican markets also carry them. Avoid Chinese markets, unfortunately they carry the cheapest, dead-looking meat I have ever seen (in my big, local Asian market, the only good quality meat I found was duck gizzards and fresh fish).

From lamb, go for lamb shanks ($3.99/lb in my local shop, dirt cheap). From goat, go for a whole leg (not boneless, includes cartilage for extra collagen/gelatin, $6.99/lb). You can also get lamb/goat stew meat if their bones are intact ($6.99/lb). The cheapest deal is of course the lamb shanks. Just make sure you ask the butcher to cut the shanks in two (on the short side), so the marrow is exposed (otherwise, use a sledgehammer at home just before preparing for the bone broth). Basically, you get the bones for cheap, and essentially you get the meat that comes with them “for free” (since a bone broth is the main purpose of the purchase). Financially and nutritionally, they’re the best deal overall!

After you cook and eat the meat, or you remove the bones before cooking, you can freeze the remaining bones, until you have enough to make a bone broth.

Ingredients
* 1 to 1.5 lbs (450-700 gr) of lamb/goat bones
* The juice of a small lemon OR a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
* 1/2 of a large onion, wedged (avoid if on Fodmaps diet)
* 1/2 cups of celery
* 1-2 chopped carrots

Method
1. Fill your slow cooker with water. Put the bones in. Juice the lemon (helps with extraction of the nutrients). Cover and let simmer for at least 12 hours.

2. 3-5 hours before turning off the heat, add the onion, celery, carrots.

3. If your bones had been cooked before (e.g. in a stew, or roasted), let the bone broth simmer for 20-24 hours, otherwise, 15-16 hours is enough.

4. When done, turn off the heat, uncover, and let cool. When cool, pass the broth through a strainer and discard the bones/veggies. Do not discard the fat. If you have been cooking marrow bones, eat the marrow!

5. Fill up 1-2 big glass jars with the clear broth and store it in your refrigerator for up to 1 week. From that glass jar, you can either cook with (e.g. in stews), or you can pour a cup, add a bit of lemon, microwave it, and drink it as-is.

6. For the rest of the bone broth, using a large ladle, pour 1-1.5 cups of the broth into plastic bags. Seal them well, and place them carefully in your freezer, for up to 3 months. When you want to use some for cooking, you can easily remove the plastic bag by tearing it, while the broth is still frozen.

Fermenting Lentils

I wrote it before, and I will write it once more: The (proper) dairy is my No1 point of disagreement with mainline Paleo, with lentils being the No2. Lentils have too much iron, manganese, and folate, nutrients that are sorely missed when going too-low carb. They are essentially the best kinds of legumes in terms of nutrition. Unfortunately, they also have a lot of anti-nutrients: loads of lectins, to be exact.

In the olden days, beans would only be eaten while they’ve been previously fermented (soy too). But in the fast-pacing modern days we live in, convenience rules, so people stopped fermenting foods. According to an experiment carried out by researchers, a 24 to 36 hours fermentation of lentils gets rid of most of the lectins! At the end of the fermentation, the lectins and anti-nutrients surviving are not more than the ones found on a carrot or spinach. So in my opinion, Paleo fanatics who are adamant about the no-legumes rule, need to ease up. Just like with dairy, there are exceptions to the rule.


Lentils and Peas by Photobunny Earl. Licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0.

So, how to ferment lentils? There are two ways to do this, either via pickling, or via lacto-fermentation (preferred).

Common Steps (for 1 cup of lentils):

A. Lentils are usually cross-contaminated with grains (since they grow in grass fields), so you must go through your raw lentils and remove anything that doesn’t look like a lentil.

B. Wash the lentils thoroughly using your palms, and sift-strain them.

Acidity Fermentation:

1. Place in a bowl, and add double the amount of water than that of lentils. The water must be slightly warm, around 30 C. For this type of fermentation, any kind of water will do, but filtered is best.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of raw vinegar, or the juice of a small lemon into the water. Stir, and cover (but not air-tight).

3. After 12 hours, strain the water away, and repeat steps 1 & 2 (every 12 hours). Ferment for 24 to 36 hours.

Lacto-fermentation:

1. Place in a bowl, and add double the amount of water than that of lentils. The water must be slightly warm, but no more than 25-30 C. For this type of fermentation, non-tap water must be used. Use either filtered, or bottled water. The good bacteria we will use to ferment, can’t survive on tap water.

2. Add 1.5 tablespoons of plain yogurt, or preferably, 1/4 cup of home-made goat kefir. Stir, and cover (but not air-tight).

3. After 12 hours, strain the water away, and repeat steps 1 & 2 (every 12 hours). Ferment for 24 to 36 hours.

Drain and wash them again, then cook your lentils according to your recipe (although probably they will require less cooking time).

A word about Kefir

When that fateful day of September 3rd 2011 I dropped grains completely and found back my health, I did it originally through the SCD diet (similar to Paleo), that also embraces the healing of the gut via home-made, lactose-free, probiotic yogurt. I’ve since moved to Paleo/Primal (which is a more complete diet than SCD in my opinion), but I kept SCD’s yogurt regimen, specifically from goat milk, which is more tolerable than cow dairy (goats have A2 casein, instead of the human-incompatible A1 found in most cows).

Six months passed, and with the additional help of ketosis, most of my ailments are completely vanished. I’d still get an occasional IBS breakout, no more than what would be considered “normal” though by most people.

For a month now, I don’t do yogurt anymore, I’ve moved to home-made goat kefir (fermented for 24-36 hours). Kefir contains up to 40 types of bacteria & yeasts, while yogurt usually contains 3 to 10 strains of bacteria. It also contains up to 5 trillion of these organisms, while yogurt usually goes up to 1-2 trillion per cup (a probiotic pill usually has up to 15 billion, most of them already dead by the time they’re bottled). Even people with lactose intolerance can tolerate kefir better than other dairy. Most importantly, the kinds of bacteria/yeasts that consist kefir, actually colonize the human gut, while yogurt’s strains only pass through, and are active in the gut for a short period of time. In other words, kefir is way more potent than yogurt.

Kefir is the stated reason why Caucasus people used to live up to 150 years old, before the modern cuisine caught up with them too. Kefir doesn’t only have internal healing and anti-cancer properties, but it can also heal external wounds. Its bacteria/yeasts strains work together in (visible by the human eye) colonies called “grains”, and attack any foreign microbe that is not part of their pack. E.Coli doesn’t stand a chance if it has the bad luck to fall into a cup (or a gut) of kefir.


My kefir, fermenting goat milk

Since I started having kefir, I haven’t had a single breakout of IBS, even when I stopped my Paleo-ketogenic diet and went plain Paleo (devouring quite a few carbs per day). Under “normal” circumstances, that would give me IBS symptoms at least once a week, but not while drinking kefir, no. In my mind, there’s no going back to yogurt, other than as the occasional treat: kefir is here to stay. It’s easier to make than yogurt too!

So why does kefir works so well? It’s for the same reason why some times fecal transplants from family members work for the treatment of IBS, SIBO, or C-Diff and other super-bugs: because you repopulate the gut with healthy strains that are compatible with the human gut. Kefir was probably “invented” by mistake. In the olden days, people would use the tripe of goats/sheep as a flask, to store milk or water. It probably only took one “bad” home-maker woman to not properly sterilize the tripe with hot water, before turning it into a flask. So the surviving bacteria from the tripe of these animals, fermented the milk. The poor husband, high up in the mountains of Caucasus taking care of his animals, had the choice of either drinking this weird sour milk/water, or go thirsty for the rest of the day. He drank it, he didn’t get sick by it, and so the story of kefir started. That was 2000 years ago, and while it’s just an assumption on my part on how it all started, it feels natural that it probably started this way. In contrast today, probiotic pills and yogurt strains are extracted from bovine tripe, but again, cows are incompatible with the human physiology, so these strains don’t stick in our gut. Goat/sheep’s strains do, so kefir became a superfood.

One word of caution though: to get these great benefits of kefir, you MUST make it yourself. The store-bought kefir products only have the limited effect of yogurt has, but not the extended properties of kefir. You see, you can’t bottle kefir with active yeasts in it: the alcohol produced by the yeasts would create pressure into the bottle, exploding it by the time it reaches the grocery store! Plus, the USDA is strict about some organisms that they haven’t fully researched yet, so kefir manufacturers in the US are forced to use the few well-known yogurt strains to make kefir. So if you want to get it right, you have to make goat kefir yourself. Buy the kefir grains from Amazon or elsewhere (make sure these are NOT kefir “starters”, but actual grains), and grow them according to instructions. Let them multiply and be happy & merry!

And as always, PubMed is your friend. The proof is in research too, not just anecdotal reports.

Cheese Crackers

As I wrote before, we generally don’t use flours in our home (Paleo-approved flours or not). Except for crackers that is, to keep happy my French, cheese-loving husband. The recipe below makes for some amazing gluten-free cheese crackers, and JBQ says that they’re the best cheese crackers he had in his life. And he has tried quite a few so far.

Ingredients (makes 45-50 pieces, 1 gr of net carbs each)
* 1 cup of blanched, fine almond flour
* 3/4 cup of coarse almond meal (I get mine at Trader Joe’s)
* 1/2 cup of flaxseed whole ground meal
* 1 egg
* 1-2 TBspoons of finely minced, fresh herbs you have around: rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, lavender, mint, basil etc.
* 2 TBspoons of fine Parmesan cheese (optional)
* 2 TBspoons of raw sesame seeds (and/or poppy seeds)
* 1.5 TBspoons of olive oil
* 1/4 tspoon sea salt
* Some freshly grounded black pepper to taste

Method
1. In a big bowl put all the ingredients together and start working the mixture with your hands. Soon it will become a well-rounded ball.
2. Cut out two pieces of parchment paper, as long as your cookie sheet is. Preheat the oven at 350 F (175 C).
3. Lay down your ball mixture in the middle of one parchment paper, and try to spread it a bit with your fingers (just enough so it’s not a ball anymore).
4. Place the other parchment paper on top, and using a rolling pin, spread the mixture across the parchment, as equally as possible. Aim for a thickness that you desire (I go for a pretty thin texture). If you spread it too much on some side, you can always remove that part, and re-spread it.
5. Remove the top parchment paper and throw it away. Using a pointy knife, cut out a grind in the spread, creating rectangles of about 2.5″ diagonally (be careful to not cut the parchment paper).
6. Place the parchment paper with the mixture on the cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes. Then check it out to see if the edges are starting to brown. If that’s the case, remove the cookie sheet from the oven, and using oven gloves, cut out the rectangles that are already done and let them cool on a cooling rack (they will be soft at that point, but they will harden as they cool). Put the rest of the undone crackers back to the oven for another 2-4 minutes (monitor them).
7. When done, remove them from the cookie sheet and place them in the cooling rack too. Half an hour later, break-out the crackers in their predefined grind shape. They now are harden and ready to eat. Keep in an air-tighten bag for up to 1.5 weeks.

Kelp noodles are godsend

A few weeks ago I saw at some blog a kelp noodles recipe that looked like real rice noodles, so I went ahead to Whole Foods and bought this brand. It costs about $4, and it’s good for 3-4 servings. They have only 5-6 calories per serving, and only 1 carb too. Kelp has a lot of iodine and many other minerals and enzymes, so it’s one of these Paleo super-foods that you shouldn’t miss. It’s too bad that these things are very difficult to find in other countries though, or in rural America even.

Tonight I stir-fried them with peppers, onion, and a range of shellfish, and they came out amazing! They really taste like real noodles! Here’s the recipe I modified to do my own stir-fry. Two things you need to remember though:
1. Without the suggested bone marrow broth the stir fry will taste like nothing. I added a cup of bone marrow broth to give the noodles the taste they deserve, and to also get that dark yellow color.
2. Do not add much soy sauce (maybe 2 TBspoons — and make sure that’s wheat-free tamari soy sauce). You see, soy is an antagonist to iodine, so you don’t want to be eating kelp in order to get iodine, and on the other hand having soy eradicating it. Broccoli is also an antagonist to iodine btw, but not as much as soy.

Update: I liked it so much that I made some today too, this time with chicken breast, zucchini, pepper, onion and a bit of broccoli.

Yuvarlakia

One of my favorite Greek recipes, yuvarlakia, Paleo-ified (with cauliflower instead of rice). If using rice instead, use 1/2 cup of it, uncooked.

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings, 4 gr of net carbs each)
* 200 gr of beef ground meat
* 200 gr of “riced” cauliflower
* 1 onion, chopped
* 30 gr butter
* 1 cup bone marrow broth
* 1 large egg, in room temperature
* 1 large juicy lemon, or 2 smaller ones
* Salt & pepper to taste

Method
1. In a big bowl, mix the meat, the “riced” cauliflower, and the chopped onion. Generously add salt & pepper, and using your hands mix all ingredients very well. Then create 2″ diameter meatballs.

2. Add the butter and melt it under medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides. The secret for the balls to not “open up” while cooking is to brown them well.

3. Add the bone marrow broth, olive oil, and 1.5 cups additional water. Cook for about 20-30 minutes. There should still be plenty of liquid left, since this is a soup.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Get a deep plate, and put the egg white in it (keep the egg yolk for later, separately). Start beating the egg white with a whisk for 3-4 minutes, until it becomes a fluffy, creamy substance (picture).

5. Add into the plate the egg yolk and beat again for 1 minute or so. The creamy substance should remain. Add the lemon juice in it, and beat again for 30 seconds. It should look like this now.

6. Using a deep ladle, carefully remove some broth and slowly pour it into the deep plate. Keep beating. Make sure the broth is not super-hot, or the egg will cook. Keep bringing broth to your deep plate. Just pour it slowly, and keep beating! It should look frothy (picture)!

7. Pour the plate’s content back into the pan, and stir carefully. It should now have a thick sauce! Crack some black pepper in it, stir carefully, and serve hot (gently reheat if required). Adjust lemon/salt and enjoy!

Lahanodolmades

One of the best Greek recipes, lahanodolmades (stuffed cabbage), Paleo-ified (with cauliflower instead of rice). If using rice instead, use 1/2 cup of it, uncooked.

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings, 5 gr of net carbs each)
* 200 gr of beef ground meat
* 200 gr of “riced” cauliflower
* 6-8 large cabbage leaves (of this variety preferably)
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 TBspoon parsley, chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 TBspoon olive oil
* 1 cup bone marrow broth
* 1 large egg, in room temperature
* 1 large juicy lemon, or 2 smaller ones
* Salt & pepper to taste

Method
1. Wash the cabbage leaves, but be careful to not perforate them. Boil a lot of water in a big cooking pan and immerse the cabbage leaves in it for about 4-5 minutes. The point is to wilt them so we can roll them easily, not to cook them. Discard that water.

2. In a big bowl, mix the meat, the “riced” cauliflower, and the chopped onion, garlic and parsley. Generously add salt & pepper, and using your hands mix all ingredients very well.

3. Take one cabbage leave, and add a small handful of the meat mix on its lower, thicker side. Roll the cabbage once, then fold inwards the two left & right sides, and then continue rolling. Then place that on a cooking pot (with the opening of the rolling touching the bottom of the pot). Do the same for the rest of the mixture and leaves. The big secret for the stuffed cabbage to not unroll while cooking is to pack them very well at the bottom of the pot, so make sure you choose a cooking pot that’s the right size. The less room they have, the more securely will cook.

4. Start cooking in medium heat. Add the bone marrow broth, olive oil, and 1.5 cup additional water. Cook until the liquid has evaporated enough to reveal the stuffed rolls.

5. Remove the pan from the heat. Get a deep plate, and put the egg white in it (keep the egg yolk for later, separately). Start beating the egg white with a whisk for 3-4 minutes, until it becomes a fluffy, creamy substance (picture).

7. Add into the plate the egg yolk and beat again for 1 minute or so. The creamy substance should remain. Add the lemon juice in it, and beat again for 30 seconds. It should look like this now.

8. Using a deep ladle, carefully remove some broth and slowly pour it into the deep plate. Keep beating. Make sure the broth is not super-hot, or the egg will cook. Keep bringing broth to your deep plate. Just pour it slowly, and keep beating! It should look frothy (picture)!

9. Pour the plate’s content back into the pan, and tilt the pan a bit in all directions. It should now have a thick sauce! Crack some black pepper in it, and serve hot (gently reheat if required). Adjust lemon/salt and enjoy!