Fire-Roasted Red Peppers

Nothing special in this post – just a nifty little trick that some of you with gas ranges might find to come in handy one of these days.  While oven-roasted and grilled whole red peppers are both fine and dandy, and I believe superior to fire-roasted peppers, there’s nothing more convenient and easy than this when you just need to roast a couple.  And it makes the kitchen smell unbe-frickin-lievable. 

Just slap ’em on the burner, and turn the flame on high – rotating until all sides are charred.  Finish by placing in a bowl and covering to let them steam until soft and tender – with easily-removable skin. 

Published in: on October 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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How to Saute

This may seem like a simple lesson, but don’t overlook the fine details of cooking technique.  By taking the time to patiently cook things like cauliflower or zucchini as shown in the video until much of the surface area of the vegetable is well-browned and crispy on the outside – soft on the inside and infused with some tasty fat, you will turn seemingly bland and barely edible vegetables into something you can’t shovel into your mouth quickly enough.  Even the most sworn zucchini hater will have a newfound appreciation for the power of proper coooking technique when they lay into some of this…

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 8:04 am  Comments (12)  
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Vietnamese Cabbage Salad

Over at the 180 Blog, it’s timely that someone just commented on the goitrogenic properties of raw crucifers – cabbage in particular.  And here we go, with some raw cabbage!  I do discuss the fallacy that the goitrogenic property of cabbage is a big deal in the video for this easy-to-make and tasty side salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot shredded (julienned red bell pepper is even betta)
  • 1/2 serrano pepper – thinly sliced
  • Hanful of roughly-chopped cilantro
  • Splash of fish sauce or soy sauce (plain old salt is okay too)
  • 1-2 T rice wine vinegar, lime juice, or a combination of the two
Published in: on May 1, 2010 at 9:08 am  Comments (2)  
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Real Potato Salad

No personal vendettas against potato salad, but the stuff, all things considered, is pasty goo that I have never been fond of. 

What I am fond of, are very hearty salads with hot and delicious stuff added to them.  Some of the best salads I’ve ever made or have been served contained hot ingredients – from spinach salads with hot currants, duck confit, and andouille sausage to salads filled with fried gnocchi and mushrooms.  The hot-cold combination is amazing, and for some reason, as spring is springing, Aurora and I have been eating this salad like it’s going out of style. 

In a sense, it is going out of style.  Aurora’s jaw surgery is less than 2 weeks away – wired shut for 12 weeks.  I’ll be joining her by doing an old-school “milk diet” for the first month or so.  No salads for us.   

Anyway, we’ve made this salad a half dozen ways over the past month.  In the video, I keep saying that hard-boiled eggs will be added, but in the end Aurora got the eggs and I opted to have my salad without them.  They are part of the “official” salad.  We’ve also made the salad with grilled beef (amazing), beef carpaccio (excellent), and so on.  But no matter how you choose to get down with this full-throttle “dinner salad,” the fried potatoes are a must. 

When done correctly, there is no better salad on earth, or in the words of Mr. Miyagi:

“When do right, no can defense.” 

Here is the REAL potato salad…

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 diced Yukon Gold potatoes fried in coconut oil, beef tallow, lard, or a combination
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, still warm
  • 3 ounces of your favorite cheese grated or crumbled
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • 2 chopped Romaine “hearts” 
  • A little arugula or field greens
  • Fresh-picked herbs (optional) 

Prepare as shown in the video, adding your hot ingredients at the very end so the lettuce stays fairly crisp. 

Simplify by making it with just potatoes and cheese and/or a little shopped salami.  Olives would make a nice addition I would imagine.  I also think it’s easier to bake the bacon in the oven on a large sheet pan (with sides), 1-2 packs at a time so you can make this salad several times but only cook the bacon once. 

Rendering Beef Fat for Tallow

Making beef tallow isn’t exactly a difficult or skillful process.  You are basically exposing solid fat to high temperatures to extract all of the fat in liquid form from the rest of the meat and muscle fibers.  Then you pour off the liquid fat and save it for cooking.  Beef tallow is an excellent fat, and has pearly, ivory-like texture at cold temperatures.  Good for cooking vegetables and searing meats in which you want to impart the rich flavor of beef into the food.  Mmm, mmm good.

In the following video, I do not cut the beef into smaller pieces, which would’ve cut down the cooking time and yielded a larger amount of fat.  Probably a bad habit.  But I got 2 cups of good-quality beef tallow nonetheless. 

As an interesting factoid – beef tallow was the most frequently-used household fat in the early 20th century prior to the earliest documented cases of heart disease.  So much for saturated fat clogging your arteries…

As the causation of heart disease science has evolved over the past couple decades, we now know that heart disease is a disease of inflammation, oxidative damage from free radicals, and certainly not a matter of having something we eat jump into our arteries for lack of a better place to go.  What increases oxidative damage and inflammation?  Lots of things, but mostly polyunsaturated fat – omega 6 in particular, the type of fat we embraced while shunning the beef tallow and butter that never did us any harm.  Make friends with tallow.  Its incredibly low concentration of omega 6 makes it a perfect household fat along with coconut oil and dairy products.

Best temperature is probably slightly lower than the temp. I began with.  350 degrees F is probably better.   

Money Spice

I hated to keep glossing over this easy seasoning mix, because it is amazing and I abuse it – including in an upcoming video/post for blackened filet later this month. 

I did a quick version of it in my ribs video a while back, but here is a quick post dedicated exclusively to this magical blend.

Ingredients:

1) Sea salt (roughly 40%)

2) Paprika (roughly 30%)

3) Cayenne pepper (roughly 15%)

4) Garlic powder (roughly10%)

5) Dried oregano leaf (roughly 5%) 

Mix ’em all together and use on:

Homemade french fries, air-popped popcorn, seafood, steamed and sauteed vegetables, meats – for both seasoning and blackening and as a dry rub for broiled meats like ribs. 

Using it as a blackening spice for blackened filet mignon is coming up next!

Ninja Kitchen Knife Skills

At 180degreehealth, the general sentiment is that the primary determinant of health is the quality of the diet. The two biggest concerns in the standard modern diet above all else are vegetable oil and refined sweeteners. Well guess what? Refined sweeteners and vegetable oil are the two primary sources of calories in the modern diet. Why? They are the cheapest to produce. It is all produced from massive corn monocrops in the American midwest.

This means that restaurant food, even at great restaurants, is often highly compromised with the addition of these two substances. Even in savory dishes, it’s hard to escape the use of refined sweeteners. The use of cheap cooking oils is pervasive in the restaurant industry – foods that have been sauteed, marinated, or deep fried are always chock full of cheap vegetable oil. Salads are almost as bad as the fries due to the vegetable oil base of the dressing.

The solution of course, is to cook your own food predominantly – and keeping vegetable oils and refined sugars out of your kitchen. But this seems inaccesible to most people. The greatest hindrances are know-how and time. That’s what the following video is all about.

To make your quest to become a home chef a reality, one of the most important things to master is the art of cutting. Most people are using techniques that are not only slow, but dangerous, and knives that fit that description as well.

There is only 1 proper way to cut, and this is it. If at first it takes you longer, be resilient. Learning new skills is hard and challenging. It is also rewarding for those with the perseverance to get past mistakes, nicked fingers, and drudgery.

My instructions are simple. To make home cooking a tangible reality, you must learn how to use a knife properly. When you have, you will be empowered and enjoy cooking more than ever before – while spending less of your precious time doing it. Buy a large, and good-quality wooden cutting board, 1 quality knife and steel, such as the 7″ Hollow-ground Wusthof Santoku knife featured in the video (Click here to view it for purchase), and practice these basic techniques until you have mastered them. You won’t regret it!

Palmer Popcorn

This one’s dedicated to my new favorite snack – brought up in 180 Kitchen, recipe #83.  This time, Aurora and I have gotten crazy and added a little nutritional yeast to our coconutty favorite.  Aurora, by the way, is the popcorn princess.  She makes it the best.  Her recipe.  Not mine. 

I must say, there is no finer use for coconut oil.  Say what you will about butter on popcorn, but a light, expeller-pressed coconut oil shatters my best friend butter.  It defies reason I know, but try it sometime, especially if you’re seeking out the metabolic advantages of coconut oil but have failed to find a way to consume it that doesn’t make you gag. 

In the following recipe, I:

1) Place a jar of coconut oil into hot water to liquefy it.

2) Cook about a half cup of Steinke’s heirloom popcorn (awesome) in an air popper.

3) Pour lots of coconut oil (5-6 Tablespoons), 2T nutritional yeast (optional), and some sea salt over the popcorn and mix it all up a bit. 

That’s about all there is to it.  Does anyone really not have time to do this at home?  Makes a great post-dinner snack.  Get’s that ol’ tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier where happy serotonin gets made and transformed into melatonin for a long, dreamy night’s rest. 

Enjoy.

Click on the pictures below to enlarge. 

Wilted Spinach

I’ve been getting back into having that side vegetable with my meals.  Fiber is no longer a foe of mine now that my digestion is so fluid, and the nourishment of a dark green vegetable is pleasing, especially when it adds so much to the overall meal in terms of flavor and texture. 

Of all the vegetable side dishes, wilted spinach is the quickest, easiest, and perhaps the most delicious.  You don’t have to wash it or cut it up prior to use like you do with other vegetables.  It is profoundly high in micronutrients such as Vitamin K (a valuable and rare substance in the modern diet).  It’s the perfect way to utilize some pan drippings from cooking meat, fish, or in this case – bacon.  If not, cook it up with a nice tablespoon of butter. 

Anyway, here’s me, my first online video, cooking up wilted spinach to accompany my breakfast of brown rice and oxtail stew the other morning.  Hope ya’ll dig it.  For more on wilted spinach, see recipe #69 in 180 Kitchen.