What’s For Lunch? Smokey Salad


SmokeySalad

Happy holiday weekend! I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday. My wife and I took a trip out to the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania to visit with some family and friends. We relaxed, kayaked, and ate some really amazing meals! One of which was a grilled slab-bacon. I’ve done fried bacon, I’ve done baked bacon. This was the first time I had tried grilled bacon. And it was amazing!! Of course, it helps that I used the Vermont Smoke And Cure Slab Bacon, which is by far the most delicious thing I have ever eaten! Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But not by much…

Today’s meal is the result of a serious craving. The grilling this weekend got the smoked meat flavor back in to my head. Do you ever have serious cravings that just need to be resolved before you can move on with your life? Well, I do. And right now it’s for that rich, lustrous flavor that can only come from smoked meat, smoked oil, and some smokey flavoring additives!

What you’ll need:

  • Mixed greens
  • Cilantro (1 bunch, just the leaves)
  • 3-4 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. Smoked Turkey, chopped
  • 1 cup Green Onions, chopped (or chives)
  • 1 large Hass Avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Flax Seeds, whole
  • 2 tablespoons Smoked Sesame Seed Oil

Serves: 2

Oh, the smokey flavor! I used the smoked sesame seed oil because making a “smoked olive oil” is challenging and time consuming. And it’s not readily commercially available. I have seen some variations on smoked additives to make the olive oil a smokey oil, and it can work quite well. I’ve personally been playing with the idea of using smoked garlic as an additive to olive oil, just to see how that would come out. But it’s not a normally available item, and if you’re going to make it yourself (I highly recommend keeping your eyes peeled for when I try the smoked garlic) it takes quite a bit of prep time for this salad. On the order of several weeks.

This combination of ingredients just screams “smokey” with every bite. In some bites, you’ll get some of the flax seed, maybe some avocado, and the green onion flavor. It will be heavy with the scents and flavors of the smoked sesame seed oil. In other bites you will have the cilantro and turkey with the smoked sesame seed oil and flax seed keeping that smoked flavor completely central to your meal. The smoked sesame seed oil is a strong flavor, but thankfully not overpowering, so each of the supporting flavors can contribute to your enjoyment of the overall theme of the meal. And it comes out great!

Questions:

  • Do you ever get really heavy food cravings? Are they for healthy foods, or for sweets?
  • What do you crave today? Maybe a small craving?
  • Do you ever get food cravings that you know are unhealthy, and that you’re going to avoid at all costs? How do you avoid it? What do you fill that void with?

What’s For Breakfast? – Salad with Bone Broth Dressing


BoneBrothBreakfastSalad

I’m worried that the heat outside is getting high enough that I’ll have to stop running to work in the mornings. I can handle getting a little bit sweaty – a little bit. But if I’m still wiping sweat off my brow by the time I walk on to my floor at work, that’s more sweaty than I want to be at work. It’s not the perception that I want to be giving off – and it really doesn’t go well with a suit! Hopefully the mornings will stay crisp for a while longer; but the days are heating up and I’m worried.
On the plus side: the weather is great! I’ve really been enjoying my mid-day workouts on the weekends in the full sun, with green grass under my bare feet! It’s been keeping the smile on my face!

Breakfast Salad, Home-Made Bone Broth Dressing, and What you’ll need:

  • Breakfast Salad:
  • Mixed Greens (Mine is mostly arugula, with some “spring mix” added in)
  • 8 ounces Roasted Turkey cold cuts (absolutely no nitrates/nitrites!)
  • 1 Carrot, sliced
  • 2 small Zucchini, sliced
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Flax Seed
  • Bone Broth Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons Bone Broth (since mine is home-made, it’s extra thick)
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (organic, unfiltered)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2

I am a huge fan of arugula. There is something about the flavor, the crispness, the texture. I have a good friend who would argue (and I can’t refute it…) that because I am Italian, it’s simply cultural heritage. Obviously, that’s fine; either way, I really love arugula. Lately, I’ve been adding either flax seed or sliced almonds to my salads. The extra nutty flavor that they both add to the salads has been great – you can never have enough nutty in your life! And I’ve really been enjoying the increased metabolism effect that they’ve been having on me.

And finally: when I’m showcasing a flavor other than a meat, I always try to use a mild flavored meat in the salad. That’s the reason I chose the turkey for this salad. Alternatively, I might choose a strong flavored meat, with a complimentary flavor. For example: in a “Smokey Salad” I could use bacon or any other smoked meat product (I regularly buy a great smoked turkey). But when the flavor I’m most keen on is the dressing, then I’ll use a more subtle meat, like roast turkey or roast chicken, so that the dressing will be the leading flavor in the meal.

Bone Broth Dressing:

I just finished making my latest batch of bone broth. I really enjoy the multitude of ways that I use bone broth, including adding it to my eggs, salad dressings, and even sometimes as an additional flavor for meat that I’m cooking. Because I make it myself, I have control over the consistency of the finished product, and I always make it extra thick. I find that it’s quite easy, in the moment, to dilute it for a more liquid purpose like a salad dressing. But that it’s very difficult to thicken it when that’s what you want to do, like adding it to a hand-made burger.

So add 2 tablespoons of the thick home-made bone broth to a bowl, add the cider vinegar and olive oil, and mix thoroughly. Because the bone broth is thick, mixing takes a few moments. The flavor is quite excellent as a salad dressing. Here’s a little trick I use in my salads: I pour the dressing in to the salad before mixing, and make sure that the mushrooms are on the very top of the salad. I do this because the mushrooms absorb the flavors the fastest, and I find that I like the salad flavor the best when the mushrooms are carrying the flavor. It’s a really great way to preserve the flavor of the dressing through mixing.
So I gave the dressing a quick taste before adding it to the salad. It was really quite excellent. The rich, thick flavor of the bone broth combine very nicely with the apple cider vinegar, offsetting the otherwise quite sharp flavor that the cider vinegar might have. And the olive oil smoothed any of the rough edges remaining over perfectly. It was quite delicious! If I were not Paleo, I might add just a bit of grated Parmesan to the dressing, and it would be just perfect. And even without the Parmesan, the flavor is quite pleasant, and perfect for a salad.

Questions:

I’ve made a few home-made dressings on the site: today’s Bone Broth dressing, as well as an Avocado Dressing, and even the “Awesomesauce” that I posted as a guest post recently.

  • Which dressings do you like the most?
  • What ingredients do you prefer in those dressings?
  • If you could change the ingredients slightly, what would you add/subtract from your favorite dressing?
  • What dressings are you willing to make for yourself?

What’s For Breakfast? Another Spring Salad


SpringSalad

Spring is in the air! I have been giving the “I’m watching you” eyes to my linen suits in my closet. I know the rules: linen suits are relegated to the closet except between Memorial Day and Labor Day; official summer months only. Despite that, there have been a few days in the high 60’s, and probably they were over 70 in the sun. And that makes me want to break out my linen suits! Or, at least start to wear the summer colors. And to go along with that “summer is coming” feeling I am taking full advantage of the spring fruits in my cooking!

What you’ll need:

  • Baby Kale (about a cup)
  • Strawberry (about 4 medium organic strawberries)
  • Kiwi (1 kiwi, skinned)
  • Cucumber (1/4 medium cucumber)
  • Crimini mushrooms (about 2)
  • Turkey (about 4 ounces)
  • Flax seed (1 tablespoon)
  • Olive Oil (Extra Virgin!) (1-2 tablespoons)

As with most salads, this one is fairly simple. Chop the ingredients, mix them all together, and you have your salad! So let’s talk about the ingredients instead!

SpringSalad2

I find that Kale is a seasonal treat. For “Spring” flavors, I find myself looking at “Baby” vegetables. And yes, I tend toward the mature plants in the summer and fall too – it just works out that way. I am sure that there is some science or chemistry behind that, but I’m not going to get in to that. I just think that this spring salad is supported by the “light” flavors of the baby kale. It’s a great vegetable, and the flavor of the “baby” version is just perfect for this salad! If I were to use other greens, I would likely go with “baby” spinach, or a “spring mix” of vegetables.

Kiwi and strawberry. For some reason, that seems to be a seasonal mix, though from the perspective of the individual fruit, I can’t imagine why… Kiwi is an autumn fruit, though mostly grown near the equator where seasons are less obvious. Strawberry is a spring fruit. Either way, I’m happy eating them together. Their flavors are definitely complimentary, and they make this salad quite delicious! In fact, as much fun as strawberry has been for me this spring, I think that the inclusion of the kiwi and the baby kale is what really sets this salad apart; or brings it together. These ingredients make a cohesive and delicious salad!

Questions:

  • I have a few quest posts coming up. The most interesting is a Paleo Cocktail which I will be trying to put together. Do any of you have a particular cocktail that you like/love and have been doing a Paleo version of?
  • What kinds of “Spring Salads” have you been eating?
  • I am continue to work on the “Slow-Cooker Smoked Meat” recipe, and have further refined it from the last attempt (though it was quite successful!). Have any of you made an attempt? What was your experience with it?

What’s For Breakfast? – Elements Of Spring Salad


StrawberryBreakfastSalad

I’ve started to jog to work in just my suit – no overcoat. It’s a great feeling, letting the crisp spring air blow through my hair, smiling at the people who think I’m weird for running in a suit… But the best part of spring is the flowers! The cherry blossoms seem to steal the stage, but my absolute favorites are apple blossoms, and even more: Magnolias! Wow, the way a Magnolia just explodes in pinks and purples is amazing! I always enjoy when the season changes because I get to see the Magnolias.

One of the less-sung flowers of the season, similar to the apple-blossom that I so enjoy, is the Strawberry flower. It’s a lovely, delicate little flower that anyone who grew up in the country is well familiar with. Wild strawberries are one of the things that I used to most look forward to in the spring! They’re tiny, smaller than blueberries, and SO flavorful! Well, today’s meal is just a bit of Spring – bringing the flavors of the season in with my breakfast food!

What you’ll need:

  • Salad Mix (I used the Trader Joe’s “Herbal Salad Mix”)
  • 10 Organic Strawberries (if possible, buy local!)
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Apple
  • 4 Crimini Mushrooms
  • 8 ounces of Maple Glazed Turkey
  • 1 Lime
  • Olive Oil

Serves: 2

The salad itself is a fairly simple meal. We’ve done this before, right? So instead of talking about the salad, I’ll talk about why Strawberries, Lime, and Olive Oil mix so well, and why Apples and Carrots really round out the meal. And, of course, why I chose NOT to use avocado, which is nearly a staple in any meal for me!

There’s something magical about the first couple of Strawberry harvests in the spring. Of course, with the global food market, I have access to strawberries year-round, but they’re simply not the same thing as they are right here, right now. Local, organic strawberries, first harvest. It’s just great! Yes, these are greenhouse strawberries, but it’s still too soon to get outdoor strawberries in NYC; at least local ones.

One of the things that I love the most about strawberries is that when you cut them open, they start to “bead up” with their juices. Unlike plenty of other fruits and berries, where once the skin is off, all the juice just drains right out, strawberries “seep” their juice out slowly. This is great for salads because it doesn’t contribute to the overall liquid/moisture content of the dressing much, but it will still be a juicy flavorful treat!

Now, combining strawberries with lime juice, and you have a little bit of a catalyst to pull the moisture out of the strawberries. The same can be done with pure sugar, which we all know from making Strawberry Shortcake at some point in our lives. Lime does the same thing, which will allow the flavor of the strawberries to contribute to the salad more, almost like a vinaigrette! It’s delicious! And finally, the olive oil. Here’s the tricky part: I add the strawberries, squeeze the lime over them, and let them sit for a while, drawing the flavor out of the strawberry. The olive oil, however, will encourage the strawberry to hold on to it’s juices, so it’s a careful balancing act with regards to how long you’re willing to wait to put the oil in the salad… The sooner you do, the less flavor the lime juice will be able to draw out of the strawberries!

Today’s Survey:

  1. How many of you will actually use an in-kitchen Smoked Meat recipe?
  2. If you will – which meat would you prefer to see first: Beef, Pork, or Chicken?

I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say – make sure to hit the comment boards with your responses to the comments above!

What’s For Breakfast? – Sweet Salad


SweetSalad

I have a sweet tooth. Big time. Giving up my sweets was one of the biggest and most difficult hurdles for me when I went Paleo. I haven’t looked back, even for an instant, and the health benefits of cutting the sugars out of my diet have been undeniably amazing, not to mention that I am no longer ruled by my cravings… But every once in a while I like to be indulgent. I indulge in avocado, grass-fed stewed short ribs… There’s no reason I can’t occasionally have an amazing “sweet salad” to pick me up in the morning, right? So this morning I took a little extra time putting together my salad, and made it a “Sweet Salad”. Not in the traditional sense – it wasn’t sugar laden. It was a special combination of ingredients, all of which are fantastically good for you, designed to give the satisfaction of having had a sweet indulgence, without the guilt!

How I did it, and what you’ll need:

  • Salad Greens (I used a spring mix)
  • White Button Mushrooms, chopped
  • Baked Maduros, chopped (baked with coconut oil)
  • Carrot, sliced
  • Zucchini, chopped
  • Avocado, chopped
  • Honey Smoked Turkey, chopped
  • Hazelnut Oil

Baked Maduros: These need to be done ahead of time. My wife and I love eating these as a desert on some nights, or as a side to our steak meals. You’ve seen these show up fairly regularly on my blog, because they’re delicious! So here’s how you make these: pre-heat the oven to 325. While the oven is heating up, slice the Ripe Plantains in to long thin slices (no more than 1/2 inch thick; and at least 2.5 inches in length, longer is better). Lightly oil a baking pan with coconut oil. Maduros will absorb the oil while baking, so you may need to add some more coconut oil later too – you’ll have to pay attention for that. Place the sliced plantains in the baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.

At 15 minutes, flip them over with tongs (they can get sticky!), add more oil, if necessary, and put them back in for another 10 minutes. Once these are done (lightly browned on each side), take them out of the oven and let them cool before serving (or storing them, in this case). They’re best served a little warm, and they keep really well for meals later in the week.

It’s a salad, so the short version of the directions is this: chop all the ingredients, combine them, and toss them. Ok, that’s done. Now let’s talk about how I did it! As above: chop up the salad greens, carrot, zucchini, baked maduros, and avocado and mix them in a bowl. On top of this, add the chopped mushrooms, then drizzle the hazelnut oil over the mushrooms. I’ve come to appreciate that the oil gets absorbed by the mushrooms, and the mushrooms, since their natural flavor is so mild and complimentary anyway, end up tasting like the oil. With hazelnut oil, that can be a very “sweet” tasting flavor! Last, add the turkey, and mix again. Et Voila! You have your very own “Sweet Salad” for breakfast!

Additional or alternate ingredients: If you have it, you could add some dried fruit to the meal. A dried apple or mango would likely support the flavor of the meal nicely! Similarly, a specialty vinegar, like a raspberry vinegar, could really make this amazing. Finally: if you have the time, you can add the carrots to the baking pan and bake the carrots with the maduros – the end result will be that much more sweet and savory! Lastly, I would warn against adding any actual hazelnuts – they’re not very “sweet” like the hazelnut oil, and will interfere with the flavor profile of the meal.

What’s For Breakfast? – Breakfast Basil Salad


BreakfastSalad2I love my Hot & Cold Salads. I’m bordering on being obsessed with them. Fortunately for me, it’s mostly socially acceptable to obsess over salads. While that may be a bit weird for a breakfast food (trust me, no one calls me “normal”), I won’t be reported to a psychologist for “questionable behavior” just because I really really like my Hot & Cold Salads. Although, that would be quite amusing!

But not every breakfast salad I make is a Hot & Cold Salad. Sometimes I am in the mood for my carrots to be crispy. Sometimes I want my green onions to have a sharp flavor. And let’s be honest, sometimes I just don’t feel like eating hot food! Like when I put in an 8-mile run for my morning run (as I did this morning), maybe I don’t want any portion of my food to be hot. When I’m in the mood for a good old-fashioned cold salad, I’ve got plenty of resources to turn to! As I did this morning.

What I did, and what you’ll need:

  • 4 bunches fresh Basil, chopped
  • Arugula (or fresh salad greens)
  • Green Onions, about 2 cups, chopped (4 handfuls)
  • 1 large ripe Avocado, chopped
  • 1 medium Cucumber, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 12 oz smoked turkey, chopped (or some other mild flavored cold-cut)
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Serves 2; Prep time: 15 minutes

This is a very simple recipe, and the flavors of the individual parts come out very nicely! In your mixing bowl, put the arugula or salad greens that you’re going to use. I like the arugula that I get because it’s one of the few salad greens that I can find which come as a “wild” green, commercially bought. I prefer things that are as close to natural as I can get them, and “wild” seems closer to natural than “organic” – where “organic” is closer than conventionally grown.

In the mixing bowl, add the cucumber, avocado, and green onions, and give a quick mix. Next add the turkey, and last add the basil. Now drizzle the olive oil over the top, hitting the basil first and seeping down in to the turkey and then the rest of the salad mix. Finally add the carrots on top of that, and mix thoroughly.

Now serve in two individual bowls. Take your time eating this – the mixed flavors of the fresh basil and the olive oil should really take over and give a smooth, but strong basil taste to everything in the dish. The turkey will pick the flavor up beautifully, while the avocado will carry it’s own flavor, subtly improving the satisfaction of each bite!

For more “What’s For Dinner?” and “What’s For Breakfast?” posts, keep tuned to urbanpaleochef.com daily! If you have questions, comments, or any requests, please post in on the comments board!

Smokey Salad


SmokeySalad

I woke up this morning with a dream of a smokey salad for breakfast. So, I set about figuring out how to make one. First, and obviously, I needed a smoked meat. I wish I had one of my own making, fresh from the smoker! But I don’t. In substitute, I rummaged through my fridge to find a smoked ham, or smoked chicken or something. Et Voila! I have a smoked turkey cold cut in the fridge! Ok, meat taken care of. What else can contribute to a smokey salad? I need the leafy greens. I selected a spring mix, knowing that the extra coloring of the red lettuce leaves will really contribute to the presentation of the dish. I love color, and the more color I can get in to my dish, the better I think it tastes. Next: ingredients. Avocado is almost a must for a smokey salad. I find that a ripe avocado has a very rich flavor, which contributes to any kind of rich dish, the smokey salad included. For mushrooms, I have button and crimini; I’ll go with the crimini, they contribute a subtle nutty flavor, which with the right oil will easily blend in to the smokey theme. So, Crimini mushrooms, smoked turkey, spring mix lettuce, now I need the oil, and a few more ingredients. Looking at what I have for oil, it was easy to select the right oil for this meal: toasted sesame oil. It’s delicious, and very smokey. I added some mint leaves and green onions to top off the salad. And it came out great!