Archives for category: Latin

It's behind the ceviche!

Another great vegetable side dish for a BBQ. This is more of a summer recipe, so keep it in mind as you’re doing all your ab work to get a ROCKIN beach body! I made this dish along with Peruvian Ceviche and Raw Pear and Blackberry Tart.

When grilling the vegetables remember a few things:

  • charring food is bad. The charred portion becomes carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in our bodies. Try to keep flare-ups to a minimum and keep those “grill marks” light.
  • along the same lines it’s better to use a higher heat oil when grilling. Olive oil and other medium-low heat oils will oxidize and change chemical structure in high heat… making them unsuitable for our bodies. Coconut oil can drip into the grill and cause flare-ups sometimes, so I used grapeseed oil in this recipe.  

    Geoff says "Grill Safely or else!"

Grilled Vegetables with Salsa Verde

 1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 3/4″ strips
2 bell peppers
3-4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise same as eggplant

  1. Heat grill to medium high.
  2. Place whole bell peppers on the grill, turn occasionally until skin is slightly blistering and soft.
  3. Brush zucchini and eggplant slices with some grapeseed oil and dust with pepper and salt.
  4. Grill slices until soft with slight grill marks
  5. Remove bell peppers when ready. Cool in cold water and remove skin and seeds.
  6. Slice bell pepper into strips like the eggplant and zucchini.
  7. Serve on a platter with Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

1 avocado
1/2 c. cilantro leaves
1/2 c. parsley leaves
1/2 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
Juice from a half of lemon
2-3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. salt
sprinkle of paprika

  1. In a blender or small food processor chop garlic and ginger
  2. Add parsley and cilantro and chop until well combined. Scrape down the sides with a spatula when necessary
  3. Add remaining ingredients and season to taste
  4. Serve sauce over grilled vegetables or on the side.

Taken right before I started Paleo, April 2010

I am an enthusiastic fan of ceviche. First off, I love fish. I grew up in Ventura county, going fishing on the weekends with my family. It’s in my blood. Second, ceviche is fresh and light while being packed with flavor! I love it so much that during my honeymoon, I made two different kinds of ceviche: Tahitian ceviche (aka Poisson Cru, recipe here) and Peruvian ceviche.

Today I will share the Peruvian kind. This meal was inspired by my friend Tina. She’s got a great “mommy” blog and she’s half Peruvian. Enter the ceviche feast! We had a great day at the beach with her new baby, Axel Cruz (how cool is that name?!?!?) and Swedish husband, Johan.

Here’s the beach…

ahhhh... honeymoon.

And here’s the meal. Peruvian ceviche joined by fried plantains and sweet potatoes, grilled vegetables with an avocado sauce, and a raw pear and blackberry tart with a dairy-free caramel sauce. (recipes forthcoming)

paleo disciples... ignore the tortilla chips 😉

Note: If you get a white fish that tends to be parasitic (Cod, for instance), in the interest of health it should be blanched first before marinating in the citrus juice. In traditional ceviche the fish “cooks” in the acid but that is not enough to kill off all parasites, so please take the necessary precautions. Ask your fish guy if you’re unsure.

The Main Event

Peruvian Ceviche

1 lb. fresh fish (suggest grouper, striped sea bass, or halibut!)
1/2 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. lime juice
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced small
1/2 tsp. sea salt

  1. Cut fish into bite size pieces (larger than a Mexican ceviche).
  2. If blanching, dunk pieces in boiling water for a minute, then drain.
  3. In a shallow dish, combine fish with all other ingredients.
  4. Chill 5 hours, stir once or twice.
  5. Serve with avocado, in cabbage leaves, or over salad… anyway you like.

serves 2-4

Work table, courtesy of Craigslist.

Last week we aquired a big wooden work table through an ad on craigslist. While at the owner’s house to pick up the table, I noticed a wall of trees full of banana bunches! As a kid, my dad grew all kinds of tropical plants and I loved eating the tiny sweet bananas that would pop out every once in a while.  Upon questioning, the homeowner informed me that these bananas are a bit more like plantains, you have to cook them in order to eat them. He gave us a big bunch and I promptly fried them up into chips.

If you have never done this, then you should give it a try. Many times, store-bought plantain chips are cooked in a seed oil (sunflower, safflower, etc.) and are laden with omega 6 fatty acids. By frying them yourself, you can ensure a quality fat is used (and they are more yummy, in my opinion).

Here are the steps.

1. cut the peel off the plantain

 

2. It may help to slice down the middle of the peel and go from there.

3. slice plantain into thin-ish slices of equal width.

 

4. Heat up some coconut oil or palm oil in a skillet. Enough to make a pool that will cover the slices once they are placed into the skillet.

5. Once the oil is sizzling hot, leave the burner on a medium-low heat. Drop in the slices and watch them fry!

6. You must keep an eye on them or they will burn! Flip them when you see the bottom starting to turn golden. With a spatula, spoon, etc. remove the done chips from the skillet and let them drain like you would bacon.

7. Stick them in a bowl and season anyway you like! Some ideas: sea salt, cayenne, paprika or coconut sugar and cinnamon.

These are a delicious and healthy, good for sharing and satisfying the “chip” craving.  This method also works for sweet potato, taro, and cassava slices.

Caution: hot oil is dangerous and can cause severe burns. Be careful when placing the slices in the hot oil. Don’t just drop them in, slide them into the oil. Beware while turning and removing the slices as well.

I absolutely love ethnic food. Latin American, Japanese, Ethiopian, Thai, Cameroonian, etc. These cuisines all have exotic and distinct flavors, ties to cultural and social norms, as well as vibrant history of healing and fueling their people. Oftentimes, when shopping or eating out, I find that ethnic food is also the most clean, unprocessed and health supportive. Unfortunately, many ethnic markets, restaurants, and homes have been polluted by American food standards and western dietary influence. Japanese food in the States is a faint resemblance to the wholesome meals of Okinawa. A trip to Buca di Beppo, aka “Italian food”, is a far cry from the pure wholefoods found in the hills of Tuscany. I am increasingly appalled as I venture into Asian, Latin, and Middle Eastern markets here in Los Angeles and find products laden with hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and many other “food-like” substances. Sugar is added to everything from coconut milk to sauces. Wheat and corn derivatives are in all kinds of marinades, nothing is organic, everything is refined.

In order to get “back to the beginning” of human eating we need to take a second look at these places and their historical culinary traditions so that we may shed light on where they began to fall away from their original design. I’ve found that the best way to get some really good, unadulterated ethnic meals is, 1. Go to the country of origin and find a family and let them cook for you– or– 2. Make it yourself.

Since I’ve recently been dubbed “Chef Nikki”, I suppose option number 2 is certainly within my reach. Thus, the following recipe.

It is a venture into fusion cooking (a venture I travel all too often). It combines the goodness of American comfort food with the celebration of flavors from Mexico. All the while, remaining Paleo compliant and friendly to all the gluten and lac-tarded people out there.

Meatloaf with Almond and Ancho Mole

The Loaf

Turkey Meatloaf and Ancho Mole Sauce

Meatloaf

1 lb. organic, wild, or kosher ground turkey

1/2 head large cauliflower, chopped finely into “rice”

6-7 shiitake mushrooms, chopped finely

1/2 medium white onion, chopped finely

3  garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper

1 1/2  c. Almond and Ancho Mole sauce, reserve remaining sauce for finished loaf.

1. Preheat oven to 375

2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl  and press into a greased loaf pan.

3. Bake 30 mins and then cover. Bake an additional 30 mins or until middle is done.

4. Let it set/cool for 10-20 mins. Serve with remaining sauce.

Almond and Ancho Mole Sauce

1 c. whole almonds (blanched)

2 medium dried ancho chilis (seeds and stems discarded)

2 c. vegetable stock

1 medium tomato (quartered and seeded)

1/2 medium white onion (use the other half of the meatloaf onion)

2 Tbsp. raisins

2 -3 medium cloves of garlic

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp. anise

1/2 tsp. coriander

4 allspice berries, crushed

1 Tbsp. cooking fat (rendered fat, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or ghee)

1 . Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. `Spread the almonds out on a dry baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 mins, stirring once or twice until almonds are light tan.

toasting the almonds

2. Heat a dry heavy bottom skillet or cast iron griddle and tear the ancho chilis into large pieces. Toast for 1-2 mins occassionally pressing down on them with a spatula. They should blister and begin to lighten in color. Be careful not to inhale the fumes.

3. In a blender, puree chilis, almonds, stock, tomato, onion, raisins, garlic and salt.

4. Add ground spices into the blender and puree thoroughly. You may add some stock if its too thick to blend.

5. Add the cooking fat to a heated skillet and add the sauce, reduce until desired consistency. Use immediately or cool and refrigerate.