I’ve been posting every two days because I find that I end up staying up until midnight or later on the nights that I blog. I don’t sit down to blog until the house is clean and the laundry is folded, so that just makes for a long night. Every two days seems to be a good medium, although last night I stayed up late because the Shameless and House of Lies season premieres were on Showtime…
Yesterday was hubby’s turn to want to “kill all the things”. He was grumpy all day and couldn’t shake his funk. Quite the curmudgeon, but today it seems to have passed and he is back to his jolly (and cynical) old self, plus the usual healthy dose of sarcasm.
I have Asian in my background and since we haven’t had Asian food in a while I thought I’d cook up a few dishes. Hope y’all enjoy them.
- Kai Jiao (Thai Omelet) – Nom Nom Paleo cookbook – page 131. See lessons below.
- Beverages: Coffee (black) for hubby, Mama’s Coconut Latte*, water
Mama’s Coconut Latte
- Coffee — I used a cup of piping hot Starbucks Veranda which is a blonde so it’s fairly mild
- Coconut milk — straight from the fridge, although I shook my jar so I had a mix of the liquid and the fat. I added enough so that the “color” looked right to me. If it’s too dark, it’s too bitter, and if it’s too light, it’s too milky.
- Almond milk — a splash of almond milk, just because I had some out.
- Coconut juice — a big splash. This is what helped take the edge off the bitterness for me.
- Cinnamon — A few sprinkles of cinnamon.
Blend it all together and it is frothy and divine. I take back the fact that I don’t love the flavor of coffee. It’s the consistency. I’m used to drinking tea that has the mouth-feel of water, but when I drink coffee black or close to black, it also has the same mouth-feel, plus the bitterness. I grew up drinking my coffee with cream or whole milk so the mouth-feel is much thicker and much more decadent, at least in my opinion. So the cross between bitterness and lack of a thick mouth-feel left me not wanting to drink coffee at all. But now that this blend is thick(er) again and is less bitter, I’m a very happy camper. YAY for coffee (and yay for caffeine)!
Overall grade: B+
Hubs: The second one was too well done. I wouldn’t eat it with fish sauce. Probably something sweeter, like maple syrup if we could have it, or a fruit puree. Good otherwise.
M: Finished her slice.
G: Ate it like a pizza but only had a few bites.
S: Ate a few bites.
Me: Finished nearly an entire omelet by myself. I poured too much egg in the pan at once so what happened was my omelette started to crisp on the sides like it was supposed to but I had this pool of egg in the middle that wasn’t going to cook the way I wanted it to. I let it sit too long and ultimately it ended up browned when it’s not supposed to be. The consistency and color were nice on the first one I made although the crisp on the outer edges could have been better. The consistency is a little more doughy than a standard omelette; more like an egg pancake. Hubby’s also right. Even though there is fish sauce in the recipe, adding something sweet would have been better.
Lessons: Cook fewer eggs per pan. Add fruit. Yum.
- Oven-roasted salmon with Dukkah and broccoli
- Beverages: water for grown-ups, coconut water for kiddos
Overall grade: D-
Hubs: Needs mayo. Super dry.
M: Finished her plate.
G: Ate all of his broccoli with the aid of hot sauce — no really. He’s totally into Frank’s hot sauce right now. He put’s that s*** on everything! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
S: Went to bed early so had more of a snack/fruit when she woke up.
Me: Couldn’t finish my plate. It was just too dry. Even with the addition of a tomato/mayo aioli. The plate got a D because it’s edible, but seriously, we needed to do something fast because it was late, we defrosted some salmon we had in the freezer, then proceeded to forget about it. You can tell it’s overdone by all that coagulated protein (the white stuff). Ugh. This was a team failure because I did the broccoli and hubs did the fish. We should have reminded each other.
Lessons: Work as a team. Ensure that we have ingredients on hand for a quick lunch, particularly on weekends when things get nutty. Don’t overcook the salmon.
- Pho* with zoodles
Hubs pushed down his raw sirloin before I could take a photo. Normally the sirloin is still raw on top of the noodles and the process of pushing it down in the super hot broth cooks it.
A note about Pho: This is a dish that has been in my heart for as long as I can remember. I grew up with it. In a way, it epitomizes the Vietnamese culture: Beautiful, flavorful, bright, warm, complex … and spicy! Pho (pronounced “Fuh?” as if you were asking a question) is arguably the national dish of Vietnam and is a beef broth based soup served with various cuts of beef and rice noodles. I’ve taken some liberties on my version since we’re keeping it W30 compliant, plus it’s more of a combination of various recipes and my experiences cooking it. It still turned out superb.
- 4lbs beef knuckle, beef cross shanks or leg bones with marrow (tip: use about 25% of bones with marrow, the rest without)
- 2lbs oxtails
- 2lbs brisket (called “Nam”)
- 2 lbs beef chuck
- 2 large onions
- 3 small shallots
- 1 cup cilantro stems
- 2 three-inch pieces of ginger
- 2 three-inch pieces of daikon
- 8 star anise (whole)
- 6 cloves (whole)
- 1 cinnamon stick (whole)
- 5 cardamom pods (whole)
- 1 TBSP fennel seeds
- 1 TBSP coriander seeds
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (tip: we like Red Boat 40 N)
- 4 tsp magic mushroom powder
- 2 TBSP kosher salt, divided
*This is the full recipe, I only made about half so that it would fit in my pressure cooker as opposed to doing it on the stove.
- Traditionally pho noodles cooked al dente, but we use Zoodles (i.e. zucchini squash made into noodles using a vegetable slicer)
- 1/2 lb sirloin (called “Tai”)
- 1/2 lb beef tripe (called “Sach”)
- 1 package asian beef meatballs (called “Bo Vien”) — if you can find a compliant version… lots of them have MSG or preservatives. Better of skipping it if you can’t find it
- Tendon — this will come from the meat that you’re cooking in the broth (called “Gan”)
- Bean Sprouts
- Saw Leaf
- Thai bird chilies or jalapeños (green ones)
- Paper thin raw onion rings soaked in white vinegar with salt and pepper
- Hoisin sauce and Sriracha sauce
I know it seems like a lot but it’s well worth it. Trust me. I’m fairly lazy and I will take the time to make this right because it is just THAT good.
Instructions (stove top):
- Soak the knuckle and marrow bones overnight in cold water with 1 TBSP of kosher salt
- In the morning, rinse the bones, add them and the oxtail to a stock pot (12 quart minimum) and cover with cold water only. Bring it to a rapid boil for 10 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the bones under tap water to remove the impurities. Clean the pot
- Put the bones back in along with the other beef (not the garnish cuts), add 6 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and using a skimmer, skim the scum that forms on the top. DO NOT BOIL AFTER THIS POINT.
- While the bones are boiling, char the onion (whole, unpeeled), ginger (halved lengthwise, unpeeled), daikon (halved, unpeeled), and shallot (whole, unpeeled) under the broiler for 10 to 15 minutes making sure that it doesn’t burn. A few black marks are okay, you just don’t want it to be a piece of coal.
- Toast spices in a dry pan until fragrant.
- Remove skins of charred items, bruise ginger (i.e. use the back of your knife handle to tap down on the ginger to let out the juices)
- Spike the charred onion with cloves, put remaining spices in a cheese cloth along with the cilantro stems and tie with butcher’s string.
- Once broth is simmering (note: if the liquid has reduced where the meat is no longer covered, add more BOILING hot water from a separate pot. Do not add cold water to the stock pot. You will significantly reduce the cooking temperature.), add onion, ginger, shallot, spices, daikon and half of the fish sauce.
- Simmer 40 minutes, remove 1 piece of chuck. Submerge it immediately in cold water for 10 minutes to prevent the meat from darkening or drying out.
- Drain chuck and cut into 1/4 inch slices.
- Continue to skim scum.
- Simmer for an additional 1.5 hours uncovered
- Remove oxtails and submerge in cold water as above. Remove meat and tendon. Set aside with chuck slices for garnish.
- Add mushroom salt, remaining tablespoon of kosher salt, and remaining fish sauce
- Simmer an additional hour
- Strain — a good pho broth is translucent with a deep brown color. Like a bone broth (because that’s what it is!).
- Cool in fridge long enough to degrease the fat that rises to the top.
- Bring back to a boil, add a fresh piece of ginger (if desired).
- For noodles, if dry, soak them 15-20 minutes in hot tap water, if fresh just untangle them in a bowl of tap water then blanche them for 10 – 2o seconds. No additional preparation is required for zoodles.
- While that is boiling, either warm your bowls in a warm oven or run your bowls under very hot tap water. It’s important that your bowl be warm/hot.
- Place the noodles or zoodles in your bowl.
- Slice sirloin as thin as you can get it. Add remaining meat.
- Add other garnishes as desired (I usually do just bean sprouts and maybe some cilantro and basil but most of my family puts everything in), add hoisin and sriracha if desired (or mix it up in a little dish and put it off to the side to dip your meat in, if you’re a dipping kind of person. Add a squeeze of lime.
- Enjoy! Sweat… Enjoy some more!!
Instructions (pressure cooker – I have a maximatic elite but I hear good things about the instant pot too):
- Follow steps above for cleaning bones overnight.
- Follow steps above for charring veggies.
- Sear meat on a stove top until brown (except for sirloin).
- Put everything in the pressure cooker. Cover with water.
- Cook for 1 hour.
- Let the pot depressurize naturally.
- Skim fat.
- Slice sirloin. Thinly. (Tip: put it in the freezer for a few minutes)
- Heat bowls. Add noodles/zoodles and garnish.
So much faster right? Yeah, it’s not quite as good as the stovetop version, but it’s a heck of a lot faster.
Overall grade: A++
Hubs: Unbelievable how well the zoodles worked. Hit the spot.
M: Finished her bowl.
G: Finished his bowl.
S: Finished her bowl.
Me: Finished two bowls! The zoodles were almost even better than pho noodles.
Lessons: Order beef cross shanks ahead of time as my Whole Foods rarely ever has it. They don’t typically have bones either. I made my pho this time with just brisket and oxtail and it turned out fine. Skip the tripe. It’s just not as good at home. Make it ahead and eat it the next day. It’s always better the next day.
- Eggs baked in avocado cups.
- Roasted asparagus wrapped in proscuitto.
- Mashed sweet potato.
- Beverages: Black coffee, Mama’s coconut latte, almond milk for the kiddos
Overall grade: A-
Hubs: Delicious but a whole avocado is too much for him. It’s just too creamy when it’s warm.
M: Had everything except the avocado.
G: At his eggs and the proscuitto. Took a bite of avocado and left the rest. Did ask for seconds on eggs so ended up eating nearly 4 eggs.
S: Ate the eggs and the mash along with a few bites of proscuitto.
Me: I LOVE the custardy consistency of warm avocado. I love custardy things in general so this was right up my alley. I had my new favorite drink and it was a great morning.
Lessons: Watch the yolks. They cook fairly quickly.
- Make-it-quick sushi — Nori, mashed potatoes, omelette, avocado, bacon
- “Seaweed” salad using zoodles — sautéed the zoodles in ghee, added sesame oil and a few toasted sesame seeds. Voila.
Overall grade: B+
Hubs: Needs more crunch. We should make the bacon crisper next time.
M: Ate it without the avocado.
G: Pulled his apart, ate the egg and bacon. Is still not a fan of mashed potatoes.
S: Ate a little bit of everything.
Me: For a put together meal that took me only 25 minutes, I think it was awesome. I agree with the bacon. Presentation also needs work.
Lessons: Make bacon crisper. Arrange the veggies, egg and bacon at the center of the sushi so when it’s cut, it doesn’t look so mangled! Add cucumber for crunch and roe for texture.
- Cauliflower fried rice — inspired by Nom Nom Paleo’s recipe (page 161) but I only did mushrooms and bacon. I added coconut aminos garlic sauce and fish sauce but left out the vinegar. I also added a swirl of sesame oil and some magic mushroom powder.
- Huong special — This is something my step-mom used to make when we were living with her and my dad waaaay back in the day. It’s simple but delicious — ground meat (we used turkey), tomato paste, ketchup (here’s a paleo version), garlic powder, onion powder, fish sauce, magic mushroom powder, and I added some diced cremini mushrooms for texture.
- Quick pickled cucumbers, sliced paper-thin. — ACV, salt, pepper.
Overall grade: A+
Hubs: Slam dunk. Make more.
M: Finished her bowl.
G: Finished his bowl.
S: Finished her bowl!!
Me: Man, I wish I had made more.
Lessons: Make a larger portion of fried “rice”. Add some paper-thin sliced garlic to the pickles for the grown-ups.
Other things we made
Well, I guess I didn’t really “make” it yet, but I did procure some water kefir grains from a friend and am starting my first batch!
And right now I’m cooking Nom Nom Paleo’s Kalua Pork in the slow cooker for tomorrow’s breakfast so our counter looks like this:
I love making new things!! What have you made lately? Anything fun and exciting? Do share!
Ok, a demain mes amis! I’m off to wrap up my to do list and head to bed.