Search This Blog

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mixed Herb Compound Butter


Compound butters make life easy. They give foods a fresh and luxurious flavor, transforming simple steaks, fish, poultry, and vegetables into special dishes with nearly no effort.

This compound butter is full of summer herbs, lemon zest, and garlic. For the herbs, I chose a bold combination of basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, cilantro, and mint. You can use any herbs you like, even if it's just one or a few. 

I made this compound butter in my food processor but you could do it by hand, finely chopping the herbs and stirring everything together. If you're feeling adventurous, you can make it even more complex by mixing in some crumbled blue cheese or anchovy paste.

½ pound unsalted grass-fed or organic butter
1½ cups lightly packed herbs  (not chopped)
Zest of 1 organic lemon
2 cloves garlic, grated
¼ tsp sea salt
Freshly ground peppercorn to taste
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and purée until smooth. Drizzle in some olive oil if needed to start blending everything together.

To serve, slather onto freshly cooked meats, fish, and vegetables. Dab a dollop on freshly scrambled eggs. Slather some onto whole wheat toast and top it with gravlox. Use it to finish pan sauces. Warm it with some lemon juice and serve it as a dipping sauce for seafood.

What you don't use right away, store inside an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer. 

Alternatively, you can roll the butter into a log, wrap it in parchment or waxed paper, and chill it in the fridge until it hardens. Then use a sharp knife to cut off a portion when the need arises. Or cut it into single serving slices for the freezer. It also works well to portion the butter into an ice cube tray or silicone mold.

Once the cubes are frozen, release them from the mold and store them inside an air-tight container in the freezer.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thai-Style Pork Salad


Serve this dish as an appetizer or make it a light but filling main course. It's a good way to incorporate inexpensive cuts of pasture-raised meat into a plant-based diet. If you want to stretch the meat even more, add some shredded cabbage, finely chopped bell pepper, or mushrooms.

In Thailand this dish is usually made with sugar, but I've omitted it. If you do want that sweet note to balance the sour, spicy, and salty flavors, drizzle in a small amount of honey while the meat is still warm.

Unlike most versions of this dish, mine has a surprise ingredient: minced whole lime. Tiny pieces of fruit and rind burst with citrus flavor when you bite into them, adding sour and slightly bitter notes to this savory and spicy dish.

If you don't have any lemongrass, don't let that stop you from making this dish. It will still be a winner.

  • 1 lb ground pasture-raised pork at room temperature
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, inner leaves finely chopped
  • 1 red chili pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 organic lime
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 cup blistered (soaked prior to roasting) or dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro leaves and stems

  1. Preheat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add the meat and break it up with a stainless steel spatula. Add the onions, ginger, lemongrass, and chili. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat browns.
  2. While the meat cooks, cut 4 sides off the lime, each ¼- to ½-inch thick. Place each slice skin-side down and cut into the smallest squares you can. Set them aside.
  3. Once the meat has browned, turn off the heat. Grate the garlic into the skillet and stir to incorporate it into the meat mixture. Add the lime juice and fish sauce and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the peanuts, mint, and cilantro. Taste for seasoning make any necessary adjustments.
  4. Serve immediately with lettuce leaves.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Raspberry Swirl


These cookies are melt-in-your-mouth soft and oh so delicious. They're also relatively good for you.

Instead of a lot of sugar, my recipe calls for a little bit of honey, and instead of refined wheat flour I use ground almonds, which creates very tender cookies (as long as they aren't over-baked). The raspberries and dark chocolate are full of antioxidants.

These cookies are grain-free and gluten-free. They don't contain eggs but they do contain butter. For a dairy-free variation, substitute coconut oil for the butter.

1 stick grass-fed butter 
¼ cup honey
2½ cups almond flour
¼ to ½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup frozen raspberries, thawed to room temperature inside a bowl to catch the juices
3½ ounces 85% dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and honey together in a glass or stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Meanwhile, whisk together the almond flour, sea salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

Once the butter and honey have melted, add any juice from the raspberries and whisk in the vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Once the butter mixture has cooled, stir it into the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks, then gently fold in the raspberries.

Shape large spoonfuls of the dough into discs about 1½- to 2-inch in diameter and about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Place them about 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. The dough will spread out as it bakes, making 3½-inch cookies, so don't put more than 6 cookies on a 11-inch by 14-inch baking sheet.

Bake the cookies in the preheated oven until still soft but just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Be attentive and do not over-bake them. If the edges start to brown, take them out. Cool the cookies completely and store them inside an air-tight container in the fridge.

Yield: 24 large cookies

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Marinated Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Mint


Refresh yourself on hot summer days with simple salads like this one. Serve it as a light starter or a cool side next to spicy dishes or grilled meats.

Because there are just a few ingredients, use good ones like full-fat yogurt made from whole milk and the freshest herbs you can find. I used mint, but dill or tarragon, or even a combination, would also be good. I used white wine vinegar to give this salad a slight sharpness. You could substitute red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you like.

Unless you have very good knife skills, use a mandolin to cut the cukes if you can. It's fast and easy, and the slices are always uniform.

2 medium cucumbers, peeled or unwaxed and unpeeled, very thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup Greek or strained yogurt
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
Freshly ground peppercorn

Toss the cucumber slices with the salt and drain them in a colander for 30 minutes. 

Arrange the slices in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel. Cover with another clean towel, pat dry, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mint, vinegar, and pepper.

Drop the cucumber slices into the yogurt mixture and stir to coat them thoroughly. Set them aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Once the cucumbers have marinated, stir them again. Taste for seasoning and make any necessary adjustments, then serve immediately.