How Would UPC Do It?


Food Mags

Photo courtesy of http://playingwithmydinner.com/2011/11/02/good-reads/.

Ironically, in the link above, the author cancels “Everyday with Rachel Ray”… I can’t say I disapprove of that decision.

So, I’ve been lacking inspiration lately.

I know, I know. It happens to everyone! And the funny thing is: my blog topic is probably the one thing that I love to do the most! So, what gives? How could I possibly run out of inspiration? Is it true? Does too much of a good thing eventually lead to some various version of over-consumption? No. That’s definitely not it. It’s more like: less-than-positive comments in some of the social media platforms that I use to bring traffic have been disheartening.

I suppose it was to be expected, right? No one is loved by all; and Paleo is absolutely still controversial. Even though I don’t actually talk all that much about it, it’s in my name, my style, and all of my food is Paleo Approved… I was bound to draw some negative comments, right? Well, whether it was destined to come or not, it did. And it was no fun.

So to you, my readers, I have revamped my inspiration!!

I discussed my relative “lack of inspiration” with my wife. Fortunately, she came riding in on her white horse, like any life-partner should, and saved the day! My wife suggested that I take some of the food magazines that I read, and do a “How Would UPC Do It?” post taking the cover recipe for each magazine, and “Paleosizing” it; or, redoing the recipe Paleo style. She was most excited for me to get to work on a recent issue of Gourmet magazine, where they did a mac-n-cheese recipe.

mac-and-cheese_608

Photo courtesy of gourmet.com

So, consider me inspired! How do I make a meal which elicits a similar sensory experience (visual, smell, taste) without re-using a single one of the ingredients, nor even “paleo replacements”? That’s a challenge!!! And with that challenge, I will get to work immediately – sharing my attempts along the way, and my final success. And, yes, I am precluding success. Because I will not stop until I succeed!!!

As an aside: I am in the process of figuring out how to do a Video Blog, since my recently posed question was answered with unanimous approval! It’s not quite as simple as shooting a few seconds of footage with my cellphone, and hitting the “upload” button on the screen, unfortunately. But I will have it figured out sooner or later. And perhaps it will be in-time for the final version of the Gourmet Mac-n-Cheese re-done Paleo meal!

Beef Short Ribs – Apple Pie Style


ShortRibApplePie-PlatedSo I woke up with a craving for apples yesterday morning. You’re getting this post one day after I made this dish, and for good reason! I am adventurous in the kitchen, and I encourage all of you to be the same! And while there are many benefits to being an adventurous chef – comfort and confidence in the kitchen, interesting new ideas, among many others – there is also a definite downside: your experiments do not always work out. As a “Chef Blogger” I will share all of my experiments with you, good and bad, but they’ll be under different labels! Well, yesterday’s experiment was a huge success!

ShortRibApplePie-Plated2Apple Pie Beef Short Ribs

Sounds a bit strange, right? I know, and I can honestly say that I didn’t know if this would work at all. But I had that craving, and I had some beef short ribs that I needed to use. And I LOVE using the slow-cooker! So, I experimented. Now, we’ve all seen pork roast with apple stuffing. But this was a totally new application for these flavors for me. And the astounding success is just that much more exciting because of it!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 lb Beef Short Ribs
  • 4 medium apples (I recommend Gala or Macintosh)
  • 1 cup Apple Cider
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup Sweet Wine (I used a sweet Riesling; a Lambrusco or Dornfelder would also work really well)
  • Apple-Pie Spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice
  • Crock-pot or Slow-cooker

Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook Time: 6+ hours
Serves: 4

ShortRibApplePie-Crock1Put the short ribs in the slow-cooker and turn on high. Add the water, cider-vinegar, and cider, and cover. Let the crock-pot heat up while you prepare the apples. This is a fairly simple recipe, and it comes out great!

Core and slice the apples, layering them carefully on top of the short ribs. There should be quite a thick layer of apples on top of the beef, so don’t worry if you can’t really see the beef underneath the apples. The apples will cook down, leaking their juices in to the beef as the slow-cooker does it’s job, and lending their flavor to the beef. Later, the apples will start to caramelize, and will add the “Pie” sort of flavor to the beef. And short ribs are a great dish for a sweet flavor – they take the flavor amazingly well!

ShortRibApplePie-Crock2Cover the apples with a visible layer of the spices – like you would if you were making an apple pie. I used approximately (I didn’t measure, sorry!) 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon each of allspice and nutmeg. They did their job, subtly adding to the final flavor of the dish without overpowering anything. Now turn the slow-cooker down to low, and let it cook all day. I set this up at about 7:30 am (before leaving for work), and ended up eating it at about 7pm. So it cooked for nearly 12 hours, and was amazing! I have done similar meals with pork, and served after 6 hours; so I know that 6 hours cook time will work. I expect, though, that with a slow-cooker, you would really need a minimum of 4 hours for this dish, so make sure you have at least that much prep time. Otherwise use a dutch oven.

Serving:

I do not recommend serving other sweet sides with this dish. Other sweet side dishes could take away some of the attention you’ll have on the short ribs. And that would be a tragedy! I served this with mashed coconut-ginger turnips (delicious, but not sweet), and sliced cucumbers. I would also recommend using the mashed rutabaga in this post or maybe the stir fried veggies in this post. And finally: enjoy!!! I know I did!

ShortRibApplePie-Plated2

Stewed Shank Steak


StewedShankSteak

I love the crock pot, slow cookers, and dutch ovens. They make a great way to put together a meal in the morning, do a little planning, perhaps program the stove, and leave it alone until you’re ready for dinner. And best of all, as you come and go from the house throughout the day, you’ll be greeted each time you enter the front door with the smell of your dinner! There is just nothing like the anticipation of a meal that the delicious smells of a roast filling the house!

Stewed Shank Steak

What you’ll need:StewedShankSteak2

  • 1.5 lbs Shank Steak
  • 5 ounces of Spanish Red Boiling Onions (the small ones)
  • 5 ounces of Sweet Boiling Onions (the small ones)
  • 1/2 a heel of garlic (about 10 cloves)
  • 2 cups Rum (or other preferred cooking alcohol)

Let the Shank Steak marinate in the rum (or your preferred marinating alcohol) overnight. Ok, I actually prefer Shank Steak for this meal. I like many different roast cuts, and they all have their different meals. This one, though, is special. When a Shank Steak is marinated in alcohol, then slow cooked for several hours, the muscle portions fall apart about the bone, becoming bite sized (or slightly larger) goodness! I’ve done this roast with a shank steak twice in the past month, and both times have come out phenomenal! Obviously, this second time I recorded it to share with you!

IShankSteak_Marinaten the morning, no less than 6 hours before the meal, put the shank steak and marinade in the crock pot and turn on to it’s highest setting. The high heat will heat up the pot faster. We’ll be turning it down to it’s lowest cook-setting (mine has a “Keep Warm” setting that I’ll be avoiding for this meal) after we add a few more ingredients.

ShankSteak_Cooking1While the pot heats up, add the garlic and onions. So, with the crock on high, I first peel the garlic cloves, and set them on top of the steak. If you’re terrified of eating this without salt and pepper, now is the time to add it. But the Shank Steak has plenty of flavor all by itself, so be sparing with your spices. Similarly, I often add turmeric and/or italian seasoning to my roasts, and this is again the time to add it. Put the garlic cloves on top of the steaks, so that as the steaks cook, the steam of the cooking will share some of the garlic flavor with the steak. These are whole, so they won’t be too overpowering, even with a half-heel of garlic. Cut and peel the onions as well, putting these along side the steak so that they will cook in the juices of the steak and marinade. The onion flavor will get strong during the cooking process, and one of the ways you know that the steak is ready to eat is when the onion scent has been replaced by the steak scent!

ShankSteak_Cooking2Now turn the pot down to low, and let cook for several hours. This process takes hours. And as I mentioned above, you’ll know it’s getting close to done when the smell of the meat has overpowered the smell of the onions. I love the smell of cooking onions, especially stewed onions, so the smell brings a smile to my face. But when the shank steak starts to be ready, the smell of that stewed beef is amazing!

Serving:

Serve the Shank Steak with tongs – the tender meat has already separated and will need to be lifted out one bite-sized piece at a time. I would serve the sides first. The steak is steaming hot, and delicious to eat that way. I ate this with baked spiced plantains (garlic and black pepper), my Bacon Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and the stewed onions, which came out sweet and delicious!

For more Urban Paleo Chef recipes, be sure to check the Recipes page, and for complete Paleo meals keep your eyes one the What’s For Dinner? page!

StewedShankSteak2

Baked Bacon Wrapped Shrimp


BaconShrimp-Plated

Baked Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

You ever go to a party, wedding, or other sort of event where there is catering? Bacon Wrapped Shrimp seems to be a go-to hors d’oeuvres for any kind of catered get-together. Why? Because they’re delicious! Well, as it happens I was seriously craving some bacon last night. And since I didn’t have any new super-premium bacon to put together a The Bacon Project post, instead I used the stuff I have already written about to make one of my other favorite hors d’oeuvres – and I loved it!!

BaconShrimp-Plated1What you’ll need:

  • 1lb Wild-Caught Shrimp
  • 1lb Premium Bacon, cut in half

Prep and Cook time: 60 minutes
Serves: 2-6 (6 as an hors d’oeuvre; 2 as a meal)

First cook the shrimp. The shrimp that I buy is frozen (I know, I don’t actually go down to the shrimp boat and purchase it straight off the boat). So the first thing we need to do is to thaw the shrimp and partially cook it. You can do this in a microwave, I guess, but I think it will taste better, and work better, if you use a covered frying pan (no oil needed) or the oven.

Next, some prep-work: We’ll take care of about 3 steps here. First turn the oven on to 450. Second cut the bacon and prep the cutting board. And third put the foil on your baking pan. Each shrimp will use about a half-slice of bacon, which is why we cut the bacon in half. Also, unlike in other meals, it is unnecessary to grease the foil. Bacon comes with plenty of it’s own!!

BaconShrimp_Rolling1Pay attention to the shrimp – once it has evaporated off all of the liquid, turn it off and let it cool. You’re going to be handling the shrimps manually, so you don’t want them to be too hot. As the shrimps cool, touch them occasionally (you should wash your hands regularly while cooking – please do so before touching the shrimp) to find the temperature you’re comfortable with. For me, I let them cool for about 5 minutes before they were cool enough for me to be comfortable working with them.

BaconShrimp-RollingNow take the shrimp out of the pan, one at a time, and roll them in to the bacon. This is a highly manual process. Shrimp, as you know, cooks in a curled shape, so you have to straighten the shrimp out and hold it as you’re rolling it in the bacon. This will end up working to your advantage, though, because the shrimp will hold the bacon in place because of it’s shape. As these are finished, put them on the baking pan.

BaconShrimp-Wrapped

BaconShrimp-Rolling3Once the shrimps are all rolled in bacon, pop the pan in the oven and let them bake! This is a nice and simple recipe, it takes a little prep time, but not much, and the level of deliciousness you get from the final product is amazing!! Let these bake for about 40 minutes. Check regularly, and take them out of the oven when they are just right.

BaconShrimp-Baking

Serving:

If you’re serving these as an hors d’oeuvres they should be placed individually on 1-2 pieces of lettuce greens. If you want these as a meal (this is how I had them, though shown in the photo is how I would serve them as an hors d’oeuvre) then go ahead and treat them as any other meat course. But make sure to eat these immediately out of the oven – they’re best when piping hot and fresh! And finally: Enjoy!

BaconShrimp-Plated1

Hot And Cold Salad – Breakfast Style


Breakfast_Hot_and_Cold_SaladI’ve put up a few Hot & Cold Salad posts. I indicated in the first one that they would likely become a major staple in my household. In the second post, I confirmed that they had indeed become an instant hit! But that doesn’t fully qualify the truth. In fact, the Hot And Cold Salad has become a good 40% of my meals. I make a Hot And Cold Salad for breakfast and lunch most days now. I love it! It used to be perfectly normal for me to just eat hot meals fully hot, where every portion of the meal on my plate was cooked, and cold meals fully raw. But with the Hot And Cold Salad, the combination of my raw leafy greens with a cooked meal has been an amazing treat! It’s making winter fly by!

The Breakfast Hot & Cold Salad

Breakfast_Hot_and_Cold_Salad-ThumbWhat you’ll need:

  • The Hot:
  • 4 Eggs
  • Ham, chopped
  • Zuccini, chopped
  • Leeks, Sliced
  • Lemongrass, finely chopped
  • The Cold:
  • Leafy Greens (I used Arugula for this meal, but usually Spring Mix)
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Halves

First, add the chopped ham and lemongrass to a pan with some coconut oil and turn the heat on high. Let this cook for a few minutes, then add the zucchini and leeks. You can also use other good breakfast-salad ingredients like celery, parsnips, mushrooms, or other squashes like yellow squash, pumpkin, and others. I really like making scrambled eggs around celery and mushrooms, so I know that will work.
We’re not adding the eggs just yet, so turn the heat down a bit (medium-low) and let this cook for a bit to pull the liquid from the ingredients. You want the food to be sticky, almost, so that the eggs have no trouble binding to the ingredients.

Once the Hot portion is cooking, you can turn your attention to prepping the Cold portion of the salad. As I said above: I like to let the Hot part cook while I prep the Cold part. So, take out the greens you’ll be using. For today’s breakfast, I used Arugula. I really like the crisp flavor of arugula, it’s a great breakfast green. If I didn’t have any arugula, I would most likely use a spring mix, to take advantage of the red leaf lettuce that they provide, or I would make my own mix combining Boston Red Oak lettuce with whatever green leaf lettuce was most appetizing on the produce shelf; probably not romaine or iceberg.
Add the chopped cucumbers and sun-dried tomatoes to a bowl. Instead of sun-dried tomatoes, you could use bell peppers (and definitely toasted bell peppers!) or any of your normal cold-salad ingredients.

Now turn your attention back to the Hot portion. These should be ready for the eggs after 5 minutes, or so, of cook time. If your prep of the Cold salad took that long or longer, you can stir it, and add the eggs immediately. I personally prefer to mix the eggs in the pan, but that’s just my style. If you prefer to mix the eggs ahead of time, that’s fine too. Mix the eggs in thoroughly.

Serving

You already put the salad greens and other Cold ingredients in a bowl as the salad base, now add the eggs. Serve, and enjoy!

Tell me what ingredients you use for your morning Hot & Cold Salad!

What’s For Dinner? – Steak, Baked Maduros, Roasted Carrots, Avocado


I love big meals with complicated ingredients, difficult dishes, multiple courses. At least, in theory I do. In practice, I could call elaborate meals to be a hobby or even an indulgence. I indulge in big elaborate meals from time to time as a way of either sharing my food (party, anyone?), rewarding myself, or as a weekend hobby. But not every meal should be an elaborate affair, even in my kitchen. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t all be top-quality, delicious meals. Because they should! Just that I don’t usually want a huge elaborate meal. Most meals I actually desire something more simple, with simple ingredients, and bold simple flavors. And this meal is a perfect example! Take a look at this ingredients list, and tell me if it could be any more simple?

Steak_Carrots_Maduros_Avocado2Steak Bites With Baked Maduros (ripe plantains), Roasted Carrots And Avocado

What You’ll Need:Steak_Carrots_Maduros_Avocado-Small

  • 1 Pound Beef Stew Meat
  • Salt/Pepper as needed
  • 2 Large Ripe Plantains
  • 3 Large Carrots
  • 1 Avocado

Prep and cook time: 25 minutes
Serves 2

Start with the plantains and carrots. First pre-heat the oven to 425. The plantains and carrots take the longest to cook, so they’ll need to be started first. Cut them in to longer pieces. I prefer a diagonal cut on the carrots and plantains so that each slice will have more volume, and more importantly, more surface area. This decreases the cook time, and I actually like my food to be larger than singe-bite sized pieces. Though it turns out, I am quite satisfied with 2-bite sized pieces. Once the plantains and carrots are cut, grease a baking pan with a very thin layer of coconut oil. Now lay the carrots and plantains out on the baking pan (you may need a second pan) making sure that they are well spread out. Put these in the oven as soon as they are on the pan, there is no need to wait for the oven to hit temperature.

As soon as the plantains and carrots are in the oven, start the steak. As usual, I prefer to cook my steak in a frying pan on medium-low heat, covered. This will cook fairly quickly because the steak is cut up “stew meat” style, so the chunks have a greater access to the heat. This is good, because it means that the meal will be done sooner! It also means that you can cook on a slightly lower heat setting, ending up with a slightly juicier meal! I love a juicy steak.

Once the plantains and carrots have been in the oven for 12-13 minutes, flip them all over to expose both sides to the heat. Don’t worry if the first side doesn’t look “done” yet. The nice thing about sweet plantains and carrots is that they’re both edible raw (and quite tasty), so cooking them only serves to alter the flavor and texture to suit a particular dish. Obviously, in this meal I elected for the cooked versions! Also, since the first side was exposed to the oil, and we’re using the oven, the first side will continue to cook, resulting in a nicely browned final version.

Once you’ve flipped the plantains and carrots, uncover the steak and turn the heat up to high. There should be quite a bit of water/juice in the pan at this point, and we want to give the steak a chance to cook that off. This should take 2-3 minutes. Once done, turn the heat back down, and recover the pan for another 3-5 minutes, stirring the steak regularly to ensure that each side is slightly browned.

Take the plantains and carrots out at approximately 20 minutes of bake time. This is not a hard and fast rule, so here is how I measure: when the steak is done, I turn it off, leave it covered, and cut up the avocado. Once the avocado is cut up and plated, then I take the plantains and carrots out. Again, don’t worry about the cook time too much, these have a very high tolerance for longer cook times: I have left them in for as long as 45 minutes and still been quite satisfied with the results.

Steak_Carrots_Maduros_AvocadoServing:

Put the avocado on the plate first, then the plantains and carrots, and finally the steak. This meal is very time-tolerant, so if the table isn’t ready yet, just pop the finished meal dish in the oven while the table is set, and whomever is eating takes their seats. Obviously, only put the dish in the oven if you’re using oven-safe plates. It should be off at this point, but it will still be hot! And finally: Enjoy!

I am considering making a video-blog post for some of my simpler meals, perhaps as a once-per-week “What’s For Dinner?” Video Blog. I would really like to hear whether you all would enjoy that. So, in the comments board let me know if you’re interested in a Video Blog Post!

What’s For Dinner? – Ginger Lime Steak And Mashed Rutabaga


Ginger Lime Beef with Mashed Rutabaga and Avocado

A short trip to Cancun to remind me that there is other cuisine out there! Some of the things that the “traditional” food served to us used I didn’t like at all – there was an overabundance of corn! Every meal was served with corn chips or corn tortillas. I would get strange looks from the waiters when I would order something “sin maize,” (meaning without corn) as though I was suggesting that the food would simply not be acceptable like that! Usually there was no further discussion when I calmly explained that “tengo un allergio de soya, trigo, y maize” (I’m allergic to soy, wheat, and corn). But I was definitely classified as strange in their eyes. I mean, how can anyone live without corn?!? I manage quite well, thank you.

But, as I was hoping, I did pick up a few tips and tricks from their food. I came back with an arsenal of new ideas, based on the food that was served to me there, and I can’t wait to try them! Even more exciting, there were a few things I tasted which were totally new to me, and I’ll be attempting to replicate them myself. So keep your eyes peeled over the next several weeks for some new recipes from me!

Ginger Lime Steak and Mashed Rutabaga

What you’ll need:

  • Ginger Lime Steak:
  • 1 lb of Steaks (any cut; I used Flat Iron)
  • 1 inch Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 Lime, cut and squeezed over the finished steak
  • Mashed Rutabaga
  • 1 large Rutabaga
  • 1/2 can Coconut cream (coconut butter with coconut oil will work as well)
  • 1 inch Ginger, finely diced
  • Sliced Avocado
  • 1 large Avocado, sliced

First chop the rutabaga. Add the chopped rutabaga and coconut cream to a soup pot to boil down on high heat. This will take some time, since the rutabaga needs to soften before you can mash it. This is why we’re using coconut cream rather than coconut butter: the coconut cream can cook down with the rutabaga, lending it’s taste to the final product, and helping to ensure that the mash doesn’t stick to the pan. Stir this regularly.

As soon as the rutabaga is in the pot, prepare the steaks. Add the steak to a frying pan with about a half-teaspoon of coconut oil (steak will supply most of what it needs to cook itself), but don’t turn this on yet. Now slice the ginger. Make sure the slices are thin, as you will be cooking the steak with them on, and eating it that way! You can dice the ginger for the rutabaga at the same time, saving a bit of prep work along the way. Add the diced ginger to the rutabaga immediately.

Once the ginger is sliced, carefully distribute the slices across the top of the steak, and begin cooking. Grind the pepper over the top of the ginger and steak. This should be cooked on medium-low heat, covered, for about 15-20 minutes. Cook time will vary based on your preference for how thoroughly cooked you like your meat, as well as the thickness of the steak you are cooking. The steak will be cooked on only one side. It’s important to keep that in mind, and one of the main reasons this needs to be cooked covered. This will allow the juices of the steak to leak out of the top, keeping the ginger integral to the cooking process.

Just before the steak is done, mash the rutabaga with a potato masher. Once mashed, stir it again to check the consistency and make sure that it’s the right thickness for you. I like my mash to be thick, but remember: the mash gets thicker as it cools, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding if it should be cooked longer.

Serving:

Slice and serve the avocado first. Then add the steak, and last add the mashed rutabaga. I add the rutabaga last because it will thicken as it cools, so it’s best to serve it hot, right from the pot. Finally, take the half-limes and squeeze them over the steak, getting just a little bit of the juice on the mashed rutabaga. There should be enough lime juice on the steak that it’s running over the sides of the steak and pooling below it. This is just right, and will taste amazing!

For more “What’s For Dinner?” posts, meal ideas, and recipes, keep tuned!

How do you make your lime-steak? Do you marinate it first? And if so, what do you use to marinate? How do you add the spice to it? Do you use hot peppers? Or something else? Let’s hear about your Ginger Lime Steak in the comments!