Monday, June 6, 2016

My review of Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind by Vanessa Barajas. Often when one decides to “go Paleo” the question of dessert comes up. Vanessa Barajas has the answer in her delightful Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind. Yes, you can have dessert, but make it a special occasion and not an everyday happening. Her book offers a selection of tasty salads, casseroles and sides, but the main focus is on very special desserts that look and taste amazing. The book is well laid-out with the usual how-to’s, tool selections, tips about flours, leaveners and general terminology in chapter one. The recipes follow. I particularly liked the Duck fat Fries (p. 90) that use russet potatoes and truffle salt. Loaded mashed Cauliflower (p. 92) is filled with bacon, onion, egg and fresh chives, so tasty you’ll never miss the cheese. My favorite recipe in this section is the Chipotle Chicken Salad (p. 102), a combination of shredded, cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken from Costco) with diced celery, red onion, mayo and chiles in adobo sauce. In the lengthy dessert section, I was particularly drawn to the Spiced Maple Pear Tart (p. 192). Pear tart is a family favorite at Thanksgiving and this is on the must-try list for this year’s celebration. It calls for a Holiday Spiced Crust (p. 174), apple juice, maple syrup, bosc pears and full fat coconut milk. Other recipes include Crème Brulee, several gorgeous cakes, cookies, cashew clusters, chocolate-covered toffee and cookie dough fudge. Truly decadent, but fully Paleo creations for that special occasion. The recipes are easy to follow and outstandingly photographed. There are troubleshooting tips plus instructions for making items such as chocolate curls and ways to decorate cakes (Check out the jaw-dropping creation on pages 233 and 234—a Caramel Maple Fig Cake in four layers!). If desserts are your thing, this is the book for you. If you haven’t gained five pounds just feasting your eyes on all this decadent loveliness, follow Vanessa’s instructions and you’ll be crafting show-stopping desserts in no time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The New Yiddish Kitchen by Simone Miller & Jennifer Robins - my review

I review a lot of Paleo cookbooks, consequently, my bookshelf overfloweth with cookbooks. Nevertheless, when I read about The New Yiddish Kitchen by Simone Miller and Jennifer Robins, I had to have a copy. Not only do I follow a Paleo diet, I also keep a Kosher kitchen. Most Paleo books are awash in pork and seafood recipes. Not this one! The New Yiddish Kitchen features gluten-free and Paleo Kosher recipes for the holidays and every day. This is a beautiful hardcover book with exquisite photography—a photo for every recipe. Additionally, the Bubbes (grandmothers) comment on each dish, throwing in a bit of Yiddish slang. Simone’s and Jennifer’s humor shines through the food descriptions, making one want to try each dish. I’ve only had the book less than two weeks and already have made several of the recipes. More on that later. The book is divided into eight sections: Appetizers and Soups; Grain-free Breads and Crackers; Not-So-Traditional Deli Fare; Pastured Meats and Main Courses; Garden-Fresh Salads and Veggies; Naturally Sweetened Treats; Dairy-Free Condiments and Sauces and Holiday Menus and Tips. There’s even a Yiddish glossary to keep you from going meshuga. Now to the recipes: my husband loves hummus, but the ones in the store are made with garbanzo beans—not Paleo. Jennifer and Simone have created a Roasted Squash Hummus (p. 19) that will make you forget all about “store-bought.” This one calls for cubed butternut squash. I used a box from Costco and saved myself some work. I tried the Challah (p. 52) with success. I bought the silicone challah mold since braiding gluten-free dough is impossible. Next I made the Balsamic Braised Short Ribs (p. 122). This recipe calls for boneless short ribs, which I found at Costco. When the meat is done, remove it to a plate and reduce the remaining sauce by half, then pour it over the meat. The resulting sauce is absolutely delicious! I also made the Savory Lamb Goulash (p. 133) and loved it. Ground lamb combines with peppers, potatoes, carrots and onion and is seasoned with cumin, paprika, smoked paprika and turmeric. The Pan-Roasted Chicken with Figs and Olives (p. 129) was superb. I used bone-in chicken thight for this dish. Next time I’ll use prunes instead of the figs. I served it with Dilly Slaw (p. 163), a delightful slaw variation (be sure to use fresh dill). Also included in the recipes I tried is the Israeli Salad (p. 164). This one, like the Dilly Slaw, keeps well in the fridge. The Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Pine Nuts (p. 168) was a hit with the hubby, as was the Honey Dijon Asparagus (p. 175). So far, every recipe has been very tasty and easy to prepare. Can’t say enough good things about this book. Get yourself a copy. You’ll be glad you did.

Ditch the Wheat by Carol Lovett - a review

Three words and a cookbook that will forever change your life states the inside cover of this exciting new book by Canadian author and Paleo enthusiast Carol Lovett. Suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, Carol indeed ditched the wheat and has regained her health and an unbound enthusiasm for healthful, gluten-free eating. With a plethora of chapters that include The Why, What, and How of Paleo; Ingredients; Tools and Equipment; Tips and Tricks plus all the types of dishes, Ms. Lovett arms the reader with knowledge to begin a healthful journey. A quote from Sir Albert Howard, founder of the Organic Farming Movement states: The Birthright of all living things is health. This law is true for soil, plant, animal and man: the health of these four is one connected chain. Any weakness of defect in the health of any earlier link in the chain is carried on to the next and succeeding links, until it reaches the last, namely, man.” Pretty powerful words to start off a cookbook chock filled with how-to tips, ideas for stocking your Paleo kitchen, getting to know your fats and so much more. The recipes are outstanding, and each section is preceded with a quotation. I particularly like one by nutritionist Chris Kresser: “Think of Paleo as a template, not a rigid prescription. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.” One of the outstanding recipes for me was the Spicy Fish cakes with Dipping Sauce (p. 212). Homemade aioli, Dijon mustard and chopped bell peppers spice up the canned salmon, but the dipping sauce, an extra-garlicky sriracha aioli makes these almond floured cakes truly outstanding. Chicken Fingers (p. 232) include a chipotle aioli dipping sauce. The Caramel Chocolate Nut Bars (p. 294) are to die for (they resemble the classic Turtles clusters), but probably a treat for very occasional indulgences. All in all, this is a great introductory book for those new to Paleo. Lovett shows how simple ingredients can be transformed into exquisite delights.