Friday, January 27, 2012

Braised Cipollinis

This recipe came about for two very disparate reasons.  Several years ago someone fed me these amazing onions at their BBQ.  They had been cooked for hours with olive oil and spices.  They were divine!  I've been trying to replicate them since with only mild success.

Then while reading up for the GAPS diet I found out that onions heal the gut and they are one of the allowed vegetables at the very beginning of the intro diet.  A light bulb went off.  Let me combine the best of both of these and come up with an onion dish that tastes great and helps the gut heal.  While it is best to use fresh herbs, dried will also work.  Butter isn't allowed during the first few days of intro but dairy is introduced fairly early into the GAPS diet.  At that point, if diary is tolerated, the sauce can be used.

Cipollinis are small sweet onions and totally worth it to try and find them.  They are Italian so you might have more success in a store with Italian foods.  I find them in Whole Foods and they are showing up in farmer's markets as well.  While this recipe isn't quite as good as what I had at the BBQ, it is still a great side dish and it heals your gut!!

serves 2

6-8 cipollini onions
~1/4c Basic Beef Stock
sea salt and pepper
1T pastured butter (for optional sauce)


  1. Trim the bottoms off the onions and peel.  Leave a little of the stalk intact for decoration.  Leave the onion basically intact.
  2. Place bottom side down in a shallow pan.  All onions should touch the pan bottom.
  3. Add the beef stock which should be gelatinous at this point.  When it melts you should have about a 1/4" - 1/2" of liquid in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Sprinkle herbs over onions.  Be generous.
  5. Sprinkle salt and pepper over onions.
  6. Cover and simmer on low heat for about a half hour until onions are very soft.  Check during cooking to make sure the liquid hasn't boiled off.  You don't want burned onions.
  7. Serve as is or make sauce to cover them.
  1. Remove onions from broth, set aside and cover them to keep them warm.
  2. Bring broth to a boil and reduce broth by half.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.  Pour over onions.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

I like this just as it is.  Hubs says it is missing something but he is used to the stuff from Cheesecake Factory which I detest.  I'll let you decide.

Raw milk dairy can be hard to come by but Kerrygold cheese is 100% grass fed and readily available in regular markets (at least where I live).  I find it has a very strong flavor which is perfect for this soup.  Broccoli has a strong flavor so if you want to taste the cheese you have to use a strong one to get over the top of the broccoli.

Cultured butter this is my new fav.  Organic Valley's version recently appeared in my local Whole Foods.   Thing is if you add this to the hot soup you kill the cultures in the butter.  Best to wait until it has cooled down to add this so you have the hit of probiotics in your soup.  Of course I have to sneak the butter in to hubs' soup so sometimes it gets added to the hot soup.

serves 3-4

1 bunch organic broccoli
1c Chicken Stock
1c filtered water
2c shredded very strong cheddar (preferably raw milk)
2T cultured pastured butter
a good dollop of pastured heavy cream (raw if you can get it)
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

  1. Chop the heads of the broccoli and make them bite sized.  Throw them in a 2qt pan.  Peel the course skin off the stems and chop into bite sized pieces.  (I'll save the stalks from regular meals to add to the soup.)  Keep adding broccoli until the pan is almost completely full or you run out of broccoli.
  2. Add a pinch of sea salt and a couple of grinds of pepper.
  3. Add broth and water.  Don't worry, it shouldn't cover the broccoli.
  4. Cover and simmer until broccoli is very soft.  Remove from heat.
  5. Use an immersion blender and thoroughly puree the broccoli.  Be very careful because the soup is very hot and will burn you.
  6. Stir in grated cheese until melted.
  7. Either add cream and butter at this point or wait until it has cooled a bit first.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning.

EDIT:  I figured it out.  Use beef stock instead of chicken stock!!  It tastes even better!  And it is hubs approved!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pesto Meatballs with Spaghetti

This is  a completely Paleo meal.  No grains what so ever.  And totally delicious.

For this recipe, I took the ingredients for pesto and incorporated them into the meatballs.  Hence, almonds, basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil were added to ground turkey.  To make this work fresh basil HAS to be used.  Otherwise the meatball flavor gets lost in the sauce.  I also had a bit of trouble with the cheese.  I used finely grated which just melted out of the meatballs during the baking phase.  I think next time I'll switch to a coarse grate so that some of it stays in the balls.

You can use turkey, pork or beef for this recipe.  The trick is to get the meat the right consistency before making the meatballs.  If you buy fresh meat it isn't a problem but if you get frozen you can run into a minor but easily fixable problem.

When meat is frozen, the moisture in it turns to ice crystals.  When it defrosts, those ice crystals melt and the water doesn't get reintegrated into the meat.  Turkey has a high moisture content compared with pork or beef so if it has been frozen it is often soggy after defrosting making patty or ball formation difficult.  There are a couple of methods to fix this: use paper towels to suck up the extra water, actually squeezing the meat while it is wrapped in paper towels works well; or, add flour to the meat, such as wheat, coconut or GF baking flour mix.  The meat should be tacky but easily moldable.

One of the great things for chronic chicks about this recipe is that it can be made in stages.  The meatballs can be made way ahead of time and frozen for use later, or a day ahead, or in the morning.  The same goes for the squash.  It can be made several hours ahead and reheated.  This allows for a decent nap during cooking.

This particular recipe makes huge servings for two people but if you make salad and another veg for sides then this can easily be stretched out for four people.

Make sure you get sauce in a jar so that their aren't any BPAs to leach into it.  Also check for added sugar.  No sweetener is perfect since the squash is naturally sweet and if you are going hardcore Paleo sugar isn't allowed anyway.

serves 2-4

1lb ground turkey, pork of beef or combination
1/4-1/2c almond flour (or ground walnuts or pine nuts or combination)
large bunch of fresh basil (about 2c of leaves)
2-4 cloves of garlic
1 egg
1/4c coarse grate Parmesan
generous pinch sea salt
generous pinch pepper
If using ground turkey:
1T olive oil (since it has low fat content)
coconut flour as needed if using frozen turkey

Spaghetti and sauce:
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 jar Newman's Own organic Marinara sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Unpack meat and drain on papertowels if it was frozen (this even goes for beef and pork; turkey you may need to do additional drying).
  3. Finely dice the basil and run the garlic through a press.
  4. Put 1/4c nut flour and rest of meatball ingredients into a bowl and knead together with hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.  The easy way to tell is if you see the basil evenly distributed.  If meat is still too damp, add additional nut flour and mix to incorporate.  Add some coconut flour by tablespoonfuls, if the meat is still very wet and not moldable.  Meat should be tacky and easy to make into balls.
  5. Make superball to golfball sized meatballs by rolling the meat in between the palms of your hands.  Yes, this is a get your hands dirty activity.
  6. Grease a cookie tray and line the meatballs so they don't touch.
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes until they are slightly brown.
  8. Set aside or freeze.
  9. While meatballs are cooking or about an hour before you want to eat split the squash in half the long way, stem to stern, and scoop out all the seeds.  Enjoy the winter air aroma of the fresh squash.  Go ahead; sniff the squash.  Delightful!
  10. Place the two halves cut side down on a greased baking sheet.
  11. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a pointy object easily pierces the skin.
  12. During the last 15 minutes of the squash baking heat the meatballs and sauce in a pan.
  13. Take the cooked squash and shred the meat with a fork.  It looks just like spaghetti.  Pile on plate and top with meatballs and sauce.