Monthly Archives: February 2013

Truffled Quinoa ‘Mac’ and Cheese

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No matter how healthy I am eating and living, I think good old Mac and Cheese will always be my favorite food. I was really craving it recently, and also dreaming up truffle dishes around the same time. (If you REALLY want to indulge, check out my Truffle ravioli with Walnut Cream Sauce here). So I decided to make a more primal version with my new favorite thing, quinoa, and it is just as good, or even better (we’re talking black truffle cheese here!) than the real thing. If you are ever feeling the need for a bowl of creamy cheese pasta…go for this instead! You won’t be disappointed.

Truffled Quinoa ‘Mac’ and Cheese (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lb. organic mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 tsp. black truffle salt
  • coarsely ground sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3  Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. arrow root powder
  • 1 c organic milk
  • couples sprigs of organic thyme leaves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 c shredded Italian Truffle Cheese (from TJ’s of course)
  • 1 c shredded gruyere cheese

Make quinoa and mushrooms: In a medium sauce pan, bring quinoa, 2 cups of water, and 1 tsp of sea salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-18 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Remove the lid, and fluff quinoa with a fork. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. of butter in a large skillet. Add sliced mushrooms and season with 1 tsp. of black truffle salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Cook until mushrooms release their liquid and are slightly browned, 7-10 minutes.

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Make cheese sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large pot melt the remaining butter and add arrow root powder, stirring together to form a slurry mixture and cook until slightly golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in milk, thyme, and nutmeg, and whisk until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Add the truffle cheese, and all but a 1/4 cup of the gruyere. Stir until cheese is fully melted and sauce is thick. Finally, stir in the mushrooms.

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Pour the sauce over the cooked quinoa and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a slightly greased 6-cup baking pan. Sprinkle remaining gruyere cheese on top and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until sauce is bubbling. Turn the broiler on and brown the top of the cheese for 2-5 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler.

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Truffle Cheese Ravioli in Walnut Cream Sauce

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A friend of mine had been asking me to make ravioli for her, and I couldn’t stop thinking about dishes with black truffles, so I decided to create a black truffle cheese ravioli. I didn’t have time to wait for a jar of black truffles to come in the mail and couldn’t find them at any of my local gourmet food stores, so I settled for truffle cheese and black truffle salt I had in the pantry (I loved sprinkling it on popcorn with Pecorino cheese before my Primal days). The ravioli definitely had a truffle flavor, but if you’re willing to splurge and have access to black truffles, I strongly recommend including them in this recipe.

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Truffle Cheese ravioli in Walnut Cream Sauce (Difficulty-Advanced; Makes ~2 dozen large ravioli)

For the Filling:

  • 15 oz. Precious whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 c shredded Italian Truffle Cheese
  • 1/2 c grated parmesan
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp black truffle salt

For the Pasta Dough:

  • 5 organic free range eggs, at room temp.
  • 2 1/2-3 c all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Sauce:

  • 2/3 c walnuts, toasted
  • 1 c walnuts, ground in food processor
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c reserved pasta water
  • 1 tsp black truffle salt
  • grated parmesan for serving

Make the Filling:  Saute diced mushrooms in butter, seasoning with 1/2 tsp of black truffle salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Mix ricotta, truffle cheese, parmesan, mushrooms, and remaining truffle salt. Refrigerate until needed.

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Make the ravioli: The traditional way to make pasta dough is to make a well of flour on your work surface and slowly integrate the eggs with a fork. But this process is a bit too messy for me so I cheat a little and use my food processor. Add all ingredients to food processor with a dough blade and pulse until dough is formed. Place dough on work surface and knead to combine and make the dough nice and tight, about 5-10 minutes. Using a pastry cutter, cut dough into four equal sections.

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A pasta roller would be a magical luxury in making these ravioli, but unfortunately I rolled my dough by hand. If you have access to a pasta roller, believe me, use it! Take the first section and form the dough into a nice round ball. Sprinkle some flour on the work surface and rolling pin. Roll dough into a large thin sheet.

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Place 1 Tbsp of cheese filling for each ravioli about an inch and a half apart, using as much of the pasta sheet as you can, each sheet can fit about 8-12 ravioli. Roll a second similarly-sized sheet and place on top of the filling. Using a ravioli wand or pastry roller, cut the sheets into squares with the cheese filling in the center. Use a fork to press the bottom and top sheets together to seal the ravioli. Make sure there are no air pockets inside, or the ravioli may burst when cooking. Places ravioli on a baking sheet and place in refrigerator until ready to cook.

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When ready to prepare, boil a large pot of salted water. Add ravioli, about 5-6 at a time. Cooking time varies, but the ravioli should float when they are done, about 4-8 minutes. Cook time for hand rolled pasta will be slightly longer. Be sure to set aside 1/2 cup of the cooking water to use in the sauce.

Make the Sauce: Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add the ground and whole walnuts and heat until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

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Pour in the heavy cream and reserved pasta water. Season with truffle salt. Cook the sauce until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Add the ravioli, turning to coat with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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Parmesan Chicken with Celery Root and Apple Puree

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I have been meaning to try out this Celery Root and Apple Puree recipe from my Barefoot Contessa cookbook (one of my favorites!) for years. I figured it was a  healthy seasonal side dish and a good substitute for mashed potatoes, but I had no idea how completely amazing it was going to be! It has very few ingredients and it is incredible how the apple, fennel, and celery root (and my own addition of parnsips) combine to create this new earthy savory and sweet burst of flavor. This is definitely going in my recipe book. I made it to go with a parmesan crusted chicken I adapted from the most recent Food Network Magazine. Overall, it was a great winter dish.

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Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Adapted from Food Network Magazine) (Difficulty-Easy, Serves 4)

  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves, chopped
  • coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 organic free range boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 3/4 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c. almond meal
  • Extra virgin olive for coating the pan

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Mix the mustard, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cayenne in a medium bowl. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat completely; set aside.  In a medium shallow bowl, combine the parmesan and almond meal. Dredge the chicken pieces in the almond parmesan mixture, coating evenly and heavily, and pressing the coating into the meat.

Put the chicken on a baking sheet lightly coated with olive oil. Bake until the chicken is golden and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting or serving.

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Celery Root and Apple Puree (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa) (Difficulty-Easy; Makes 4-6 servings)

  • 2-3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 c. large-diced organic fennel bulb, tops and core removed
  • 2 lbs. organic celery root, peeled and diced
  • 8 oz. organic parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 3 organic Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 c. organic apple cider
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream

Melt the butter over medium heat in a shallow pot or large saute pan. Add the fennel, celery root, parsnips, apples, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cider and tightly cover the pot. Simmer over low heat (I pull the pot halfway off the heat) for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft.

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When the vegetables are cooked, add the cream and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer the mixture to a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade and process. I used a food processor for this and it worked just as well. Just be careful not to the over pulse the mixture so that it maintains some of its texture. Taste for salt and pepper and return to the pot to keep warm. Serve warm.

Pomegranate Balsamic Glazed Salmon

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After throwing a fit every time my mom made salmon as a child, I recently discovered that I actually kind of like it. Who knew! Even better, it is a great primal protein option and I found this heavenly pomegranate balsamic glaze in my new beloved America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook that my brother surprised me with for Christmas. It is a must have! This dish is insanely easy and will have any dinner guest thinking you’re a gourmet chef. I know brown sugar is not primal, but I wanted to stick close to the recipe the first time I made it. Next time I will definitely substitute a little organic pure maple syrup or wild honey-not that these don’t also contain sugar, but at least they are in a more natural state. The pomegranate juice also has a lot of natural sugars, so you could do away with the added sugar altogether and I’m sure this would still be delicious. You could also play around with this glaze with many different natural fruit nectars, like blueberry or cherry-whatever your heart desires, or whichever one has the least natural sugar! 😉

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Glazed Salmon: (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 2 to 3)

1/2 tsp. light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

1/4 tsp. arrowroot powder

1- 1 1/2 lb. skin-on wild-caught Alaskan salmon filet

Ground black pepper

1 tsp. organic extra virgin olive oil

For the Glaze:

2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

3 Tbsp. pomegranate juice (I buy mine from Trader Joes-big surprise there)

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard

1 tsp. arrowroot powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Make the Glaze: Whisk the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened, 1-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Make the Salmon: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and arrowroot in a small bowl. Use a sharp knife to remove any whitish fat from the belly of the salmon and cut the fillet into 2 or 3 equal pieces. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Sprinkle with brown sugar evenly on top of filets, rubbing to distribute.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-in. skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the salmon, flesh side down in the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Using tongs carefully flip the salmon and cook on the skin side for 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon the glaze evenly over the filets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook about 10 minutes. Enjoy with generous spoonfuls of this amazing glaze! I served mine with lemon and garlic sauteed spinach and pesto quinoa.

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Primal Jalapeño Popper Chicken

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This dish is a perfect way to satisfy a junk food craving but stick to your primal diet! It has all the delicious flavors of a jalapeño popper with lots of extra protein and no grains! And it is super easy to make.  IMAG0277

Jalapeño Popper Chicken (Adapted from elly says opa) (Difficulty-Easy, Serves 4)

3/4 c. almond meal
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning (recipe below)
1 organic free range egg
2 oz. cream cheese or goat cheese
1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced
2-3 all natural free-range organic chicken breasts

Taco Seasoning

1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray or coat a large baking sheet with olive oil.

In the toaster oven, toast almond meal for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Place in a shallow bowl or dish. Add the taco seasoning and stir to combine.

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In another shallow bowl or dish, lightly beat an egg. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and jalapeños.

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Using a small utility knife, cut a pocket into the side of each chicken breast, or horizontally slice the chicken through the center, until it is almost butterflied. I cut my larger chicken breasts into smaller strips for smaller portions, and then sliced them down the center, almost like a butterfly. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper, and then divide the cream cheese mixture evenly between each chicken breast’s pocket. If there is any of the cheese mixture leftover, you can use it to top the chicken breasts. Use toothpicks to secure, if necessary.

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Dip the chicken pieces one at a time first into the egg, and then into the almond meal mixture, making sure to coat the chicken completely. Place the chicken on the prepared baking rack and cook for about 20-22 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

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