Boneless, skinless chicken breasts?

April 30, 2013

I’m not sure what you’re asking exactly, but in general, I disagree with boneless, skinless anything. If you cook meat, then you should cook pastured, organic meat with bones and fat. I think the minerals from the bones are important for balancing acidity and nutrition, and the fat helps protect the lining of your small intestine, and helps you to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. But keep in mind these are mere opinions and I am not presenting them as fact..

However, every so often, boneless, skinless chicken breast is on sale, so I buy it and make something with it. In the past, my usual dish was chicken fingers, but now that I no longer eat grains and have adopted a paleo / specific carbohydrate diet, I needed a new way to make chicken fingers, but I was bored out of my mind with boneless, skinless chicken breast in general.

Enter Chicken Ennui.

I created this recipe out of sheer boredom (thus the name) and it’s easy and quick, and can probably be made with stuff you already have in your kitchen. As usual, I didn’t measure anything, so here are some pictures.

Preheat oven to 350 and put your baking pan in there to get hot. Gather dried herbs that go together, such as these:

Dried herbs and peppercorns

Rosemary, basil, fennel seed, thyme and black peppercorn.

Other herbs that would work well with all or some of these are: oregano, sage, parsley, and corriander. You can use any kind of peppercorn, but you can’t skip it. Add some salt, and grind all of these in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to a fairly fine powder. Don’t use pre-ground pepper, because it’s gross. Always grind your peppercorn fresh. Trust me. I’d use about a tsp of each for each pound of chicken breasts, because I like a ton of herbs, and chicken breast needs flavor. Oh god, it’s just so dull.

Slice up chicken breasts so they’re evenly sized for even cooking. I usually make them between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. Slather mayonnaise on every slice (you’ll only need about a tablespoon per pound), then press them into the herb/salt/pepper mixture.

Place the coated chicken strips on the hot baking pan (I used a slotted pan) and bake for about 10 -15 minutes.

Coated chicken strips ready for oven

I put the chicken strips on a pre-heated slotted roasting pan. You can bake them on any kind of baking pan. Pre-heating it will help them to not stick.

I like it to be a little browned, so I leave it in for a while.

Chicken Ennui is done!

See, I didn’t cut all of the chicken breast the same size. Uneven cooking! Learn from my mistakes, people!

I served my Chicken Ennui with spaghetti squash with a dollop of Artisana coconut butter, and arugula with Kerry Wood Lemon Tarragon dressing. If you’d like to see pretty much everything I eat, you can follow my meals on Tumblr.

Dinner

Dinner! Yum!

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How do you poach an egg?

April 8, 2013

Poached Egg

Poached Egg

I think my friend Kelly is making fun of how many eggs I eat, or how I’m fanatical about photographing everything I eat these days, because this is the second time she’s asked me how to make an egg dish.  But you know how I am… ask me a question and get a blog post.  I had taken a gazillion photographs of some poached eggs I made a few weeks ago, trying to capture the steam off them (which is why I used a dark bowl).  I’m not a good enough photographer (yet!) to get that. (UPDATE 4/18/13 – At the end of this post, I added more pictures to give you a play-by-play of this process.)

Here’s how I poach an egg.

  • Step 1: Gather a deep pot to boil water in.  I use a 2.5 L Visions glass sauce pot (that’s about 20 years old at this point).  It measures 4.25″ from the counter to the rim on the outside of the pot.  I wouldn’t use one shallower than that, you’ll be sorry.
  • Step 2: Fill pot 1/2 way up with water and start to boil.
  • Step 3: While water is heating up, crack your egg into a saucer (not a bowl, a saucer, you want it kind of flat to easily slide the egg from the saucer into the water later).  If you’re making more than one egg, use a separate saucer for each egg, or do them consecutively (I tend to poach my eggs one at a time, because I’m not good enough to do multiple eggs yet).
  • Get something to stir the water (like the handle of a wooden spoon, a chopstick, a long spoon, etc.)  Make sure it’s long enough to stir the water well without getting your hand too close to the soon-to-be-boiling water.
  • Get a tool to get the egg out later (long handled strainer, or this thing I have a picture of below).
I don't know the name of this.

This is one of the most useful kitchen tools I have. I have no idea what it’s called. I do know it’s 5″ across though. Go me!

  • Some people add a tsp full of white vinegar to the water because it helps “set the white.”  I don’t.
  • Some people add salt to the water.  I love salt, so I add salt to the water.
  • Just when the water is about to boil (not a full boil), turn the heat down to low.  Be very careful, but stir the water as fast as you can in a circle (without splashing it out of the pot or on yourself), so you get a little water tornado.  When you’ve got a good tornado going, slide the egg carefully from the saucer into the tornado as you stop stirring.
  • Let the egg go around and around.  It’s going to look gross and it’s going to look like egg white got all over the damn place in the water.  Don’t worry about it.
  • Let the egg cook for about 3 minutes (or so when you gently lift it up with The Tool That Cannot Be Named, the eggwhite is not clear).
  • Place it on a plate (not the plate from which you are going to eat it because it will be watery).  Dry it off or shake it in the Tool or whatever, and then plate it.
  • All that gross white stuff that didn’t coalesce into a gorgeous poached egg just stays on the water and all over the Tool.
  • If you don’t do dishes right away, leave the tool in the water, because when that gross eggwhite stuff dries on the tool, it’s hard to get off.
  • Sprinkle Maldon salt flakes over the egg for serving.  Maldon salt should be on all eggs.  Don’t argue with me on this.

UPDATE:

Set up your workspace

Make sure you’re ready. Poaching is quick and you need everything handy. Wooden spoon handle to stir water quickly, tool to pull out poached egg, plate with paper towel for draining egg post-poach, maldon salt (in an old honey jar – sorry!), each egg already cracked open on a plate. Don’t forget the salad, or whatever you want to put the egg on.   Poached eggs cool down fast.  You’ve got to be ready to chow when it’s done!

Stir fast!

If you stir slow around the edges and then move to the middle to stir quickly, you’re less likely to make a mess. Be careful! It’s boiling water. It hurts.

Gently slide eggs into center of vortex

Gently slide an egg from the plate into the center of the swirling water.

Egg poaching, cont'd.

It’s going to start to look like a mess. Don’t panic. And don’t let the water come to a hard boil (big bubbles). If it is, shut off the heat and move the pot to a cool burner.

Drain the egg.

Gently place the egg on the paper towel to drain.

Poached egg fail!

If you don’t cook the white enough, the yolk might just slip right out of it, like what happened to me in this epic fail.

 

Cropping!

In the event of a fail, make another egg and crop your photo!

 

 

 

 

 

 


How do you make dumplings?

March 20, 2013

Pan fried and steamed dumplings

Pan fried and steamed dumplings

Dumplings can be filled with pretty  much anything.  My recipe for 50 pork dumplings is below.  I make 50 at a time because that’s how many wrappers are in a package, and they freeze and reheat well.  I don’t eat dumplings anymore because I don’t eat grains and am on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), but my family still loves them, so I make them.  At the end of this post, I have notes that include how to make burgers out of dumpling filling for my Paleo, SCD, gluten-free, and grain-free followers out there.

For 50 dumplings (plus extra filling to make 8 paleo /SCD Legal “dumpling filling burgers” – see end of post).

  • 1 package of Nasoya all natural Wonton Wraps (see notes at end as to why I recommend these specifically)
  • 1 lb ground pork (preferably pastured and/or organic)
  • 3/4 of a pound of green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 peeled carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 12-15 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, chopped (they’re even better if sautéd in butter or ghee first)
  • 2″ piece of ginger, peeled, grated (a microplane does a great job)
  • 5 scallions (mostly green parts), chopped
  • 2 large or jumbo eggs, beaten (plus one extra egg for dumpling filling patties at the end, if you want to make them)
  • 2 TBS coconut flour
  • 1 Tbs of fish sauce (preferably Red Boat fish sauce, due to no sugar, preservatives or extraneous ingredients)
  • 1 Tbs coconut aminos
  • Optional: 4 sunchokes, peeled and chopped (this is to replace the traditional bamboo shoots, which I think are gross when canned – if you could find fresh bamboo shoots, I would use them)
  • few Tbs of butter, ghee, or coconut oil for sautéing (bacon fat is also wonderful… I’m just saying… don’t judge me!)
  • a cup or so of rice flour to generously put on each layer of dumplings so they don’t stick together if you are going to freeze them.

It takes me just over an hour just to fill 50 dumpling wrappers, so set aside around 2 hours for initial prep, filling, and clean up.  It will be worth it when you have a freezer full of quick-to-cook dumplings!

You’ll also need a food processor of at least 8 cup capacity (or you can process in batches), large mixing bowl, smaller bowl, 10-12″ diameter frying pan with lid, flipper, and a little bit of water (both important for steaming and for wetting down the wrapper), a finger bowl, and if you’re freezing most of them, a freezer container with lid (the Pyrex 3 cup container is a perfect fit for approximately 12 of them, and the 6 cup is great for 20-24, depending on how full you fill them).

Though you could close up the dumplings by hand or fork, it is much easier and looks better when you use one of these dumpling presses. I got this one for $3 at Bowery Kitchen at Chelsea Market. If you’re not near Chelsea Market, here are some cheap ones at Amazon: $4.99 one, and a set of 3 for $4.99.

Dumpling Maker

This dumpling maker will save you a ton of time and energy. It’s the best $3 I ever spent!

First, process the cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, grated ginger, scallions (and sunchokes, if you added them), just until the mixture is fairly homogenous.

Then, place the processed mixture in a large mixing bowl.  Add the ground pork, flour, eggs, fish sauce and coconut aminos.  Mix it all together with your hands, like you are making meatballs (you’ve made meatballs, right?).  This way, you don’t overwork the pork, as you would if you put the pork in the food processor (plus, you’d need a bigger food processor).

Dumpling filling workspace

Setting up your workspace properly will make the arduous task of making 50 dumplings go just a bit faster and easier.  Ignore the juicer and the Kitchen Aid.  They just happen to live there.

Next, set up your dumpling-making station.  It will take a while to make 50 dumplings, so only have a little bit of your filling out at a time.  Take about two cups of the mixture out into a small bowl, and put your large bowl with the rest of the filling in the fridge with a cover on it (either a plate or pan lid over the bowl or some plastic wrap or foil).

Place about a tablespoon of the filling in the wrapper and with a wet finger, moisten two consecutive edges with water, fold it over and put it in the dumpling press.  If you don’t have a press, you can squeeze with your fingers, or press down on the edges of the folded dumpling with a fork.

Put the filling in the dumpling wrapper

Put the filling in the dumpling wrapper and moisten the edges, so when you fold it over, it will stick together.

Folded dumpling in dumpling press

Put the folded dumpling in the press and squeeze down, sealing and crimping the edges.

Finished dumpling

This is how the dumpling looks after it is pressed.

Dumplings fit perfectly in the 3 cup Pyrex rectangular storage dish with blue lid.  Don't forget to generously dust with rice flour between layers to prevent sticking.

Dumplings fit perfectly in the 3 cup Pyrex rectangular storage dish with blue lid. Don’t forget to generously dust with rice flour between layers to prevent sticking.

You can boil, steam or pan fry dumplings.  I like them best when they are pan fried with a bit of steaming at the end.  To cook your dumplings my way, heat up a frying pan over medium heat and melt a little less than a tablespoon of butter, ghee, coconut oil, bacon fat or whatever fat you’d like in the pan making sure you coat the whole bottom surface.  Place the dumplings in the pan, ensuring no overlap and turn the heat down to low.  Flip the dumplings, turn the heat back to medium, and let the other side brown (see first picture of this post).  Once both sides are browned, put a tablespoon or so of water in the pan and quickly put the lid on the pan to trap the steam.  This finishes cooking the dumplings as well as softens the consistency of the cooked wrapper a little.  Your dumplings should have an interior temperature of at least 160 degrees F or more.

NOTES:

  • On the wrappers:  I specify Nasoya wrappers instead of most other varieties because they do NOT have sodium benzoate, which I try to avoid when possible.  Tang’s natural dumpling wrappers would be my preferred choice, but they are hard to find.  If you’re looking to make your own gluten-free wrappers, these recipes look great and well-researched.
  • Making “dumpling filling burgers” to maintain your Paleo, SCD, gluten-free, grain-free lifestyle.  Obviously, don’t use the wrappers.  Also, don’t add the sunchokes if you are doing the SCDiet.  Take the leftover filling (around 3 cups, give or take), add another tablespoon of coconut flour and one egg to the mixture and hand-mix.  Form fairly thin burgers (you want them to be able to cook through completely).  In a separate pan from the burgers, with a separate flipper (so you don’t contaminate them with the rice flour/wrappers), sauté in butter, ghee, coconut oil, bacon fat, or your fat of choice  until browned on each side and to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F .
Cooking SCD for myself and regular for the family

I’m cooking the dumpling filling burgers on the left and the regular dumplings on the right.

Browned dumpling filling burgers

Browned dumpling filling burgers

If you want to see how I ate these, my plate will be posted in a few days on Yummy Fixins!


How do you make bone broth?

February 20, 2013

I make it slowly.  I don’t use just bones and joints (which are necessary to get the minerals and collagen you need to have a true bone broth).  I add a lot of meat and aromatics for extra flavor because I drink it like coffee and use it in a lot of dishes I make.  Also, I try to use up leftovers (like mushroom and parsley stems) and ingredients that I won’t be using before they go bad.  I never use cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts or potatoes in a stock because they ruin it.

In my latest chicken bone broth I used:

Top row, left to right:
Fresh chicken parts that I didn’t use in a recent recipe, frozen chicken parts and leftover bones, leftover bones from the recent recipe (after I ate it).

Bottom row, left to right:
Pure Indian Foods brand ghee, 2 diced onions, chopped leftover shiitake mushroom stems (with 2 diced carrots under them), chopped fresh ginger, chopped fresh garlic, 3 fresh bay leaves, fresh oregano, 2 stalks chopped celery, leftover parsley – mostly stems.

I also add white wine (I’ve had good luck with Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay – it’s cheap and works well in my stock)  and plenty of filtered water.

My Bone Broth Ingredients

My Bone Broth Ingredients

I melted a few tablespoons of ghee in a 12 quart stock pot over medium-high heat and start my sautéing.

Sauté

Sautee the onions in ghee until they are translucent, then add mushroom stems until fragrant, then carrots.

Now it’s time to start heating up the water to add to the stock later.

Sauté 2

Add the oregano, bay, ginger and garlic. Sauté only long enough for the garlic to become pleasantly fragrant, and no longer. Browned or burned garlic will ruin the stock.

You may need to add more ghee if you weren’t liberal enough with it in the beginning.

Sauté 3

I add the celery last and mix throughly.

Add in the fresh chicken.

Browning the chicken

Add the fresh chicken, pressing it skin down into the pan to encourage browning and some fat release.

If I had thawed the frozen stuff, I would add it in after the first round of meat browned. The more brown (not burned) bits you have on the bottom, the more flavorful the broth.  When the chicken starts browning, stir everything around a bit and adjust heat (if you need to) to make sure nothing is burning.

Browning the chicken 2

Look for a good amount of browned (not burned) parts on the bottom. Time for deglazing!

Add wine to a nice hot pan and stir, scraping up the browned bits to mix into the liquid.

Deglazing

Add wine. Be liberal. Good life advice, I think.

This is where I would add any of the frozen parts and leftover bones from cooked food.  The cooking off of the wine will help to heat those up.  Mix them in once they’ve been warmed up.

A little extra chicken browning

The remaining bones get to heat up and the rest of the chicken gets a chance to brown.

I add the hot water, a kettle-full at a time until the the pot is about 2/3 full.  Then I stir lightly to make sure nothing is left on the bottom of the pan.

Water is added

Water is added. Bring to a light boil and immediately shift the heat to simmer. Let the waiting begin!

Many people add a tablespoon or so of vinegar into the pot at this point to help extract the minerals and collagen from the bones.  If I have it, I will add apple cider vinegar, though it doesn’t really have an effect on the taste.  If you add too much water and/or you boil too furiously, your broth will not gel up after cooling , as a good bone broth should.  I like to partially cover the pot for the long, slow simmer to keep the heat in and to make sure I don’t over evaporate.  I want a high yield!

I don’t usually touch the stock during this time (8-12 hours).  At the end of the simmering time, most of the joints and collagen should be rendered into the stock and the bones should be brittle or at least break easily.

Strain the stock and put into glass jars.  Leave ample space between the broth and the jar lid if you are freezing it, as the broth will expand.  Let the jars sit for an hour (uncovered) before putting them into the refrigerator or freezer.  (Cooks Illustrated tells us that an hour is optimal in The Science of Good Cooking, p. 101.)

High yield, great taste!

I will drink most of this broth within the week, but risotto and some delicious sauces will be made, and a jar or two may actually make it into the freezer.

Remember to heat the broth to boiling when you use it, and if you used organic, pastured chickens, eat the fat!  It’s wonderful for you!

NOTE: If you want to speed up the extraction of minerals from the bones, besides adding a tablespoon of vinegar during the simmering phase, you can also hack up the bones and joints prior to cooking.  Also, if I had them, I would add more backs, necks, giblets and feet to this stock as well, as they are great sources of flavor, collagen and minerals.


Where can I find great paleo food?

November 30, 2012

Hu Kitchen

Hu Kitchen

People, let me tell you about a little slice of heaven called Hu on 5th Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets in Manhattan.  It’s all familiar looking food – meatloaf, rotisserie chicken, great looking veggies, soups, coffee, muffins, wine, beer.  But it’s better sourced, more unprocessed, healthier, and more thoughtfully curated.

Muffins

Should I still even bake when I can just buy stuff this good? Srsly, $hi+ just got real here.

You can take your Grandmother, your girlfriend who’s in that Greenpoint noise band, your supplement-popping and highly allergic uncle, and your pretentious college roommate here.  You’re going to be very sorry regarding your choice of dining companions, and they’ll balk at the prices (it’s not cheap), but they will all end up finding something delicious and they will love what they’re eating.  There are actual greens on the juice bar AND they have alkaline water, okay?  And the bread and the muffins are grain-free AND delicious.  What the what?!  I mean really delicious, not just some strange, dense, cardboard-y imitation of a pastry item like grain-free or even gluten-free bread tends to be.  Your grain-loving friends will like it.  Just trust me, fool.

Kale and Ridick Delish Cauliflower Mash

The cauliflower mash (left) is stupid good.

Hu has no table service.  It’s all take-out and self-serve, but there’s plenty of seating.  The design is wood-focused modern minimalist and the music was late 90s Kruder and Dorfmeister-esque slo-beat trip hop (but really, what the hell else are they supposed to play?), so it can be welcoming to some and off-putting to others, but no matter how you view the superficial parts of this place, try the food.

A lot of variety, great combinations.

A lot of variety, great combinations.


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