Spanish Meatballs!

Commencing a week of Mexican-inspired eating, how better to start than with a plate of meatballs in a hot tomato sauce accompanied by some cooling salads?

For the meatballs, combine equal quantities of pork mince and beef mince - 250g of each made 6 large balls each!

Place the meat into a mixing bowl, crack in an egg, some minced onion, a few minced gloves and ... some breadcrumbs! I'm kidding! I'm kidding, although traditional recipes do call for them. Keep it paleo - simply leave this one out or use a couple of tablespoons of potato flour. Pinch of salt, some white pepper, maybe some herbs, dusting of cayenne pepper.

Squeeze the meat through your fists a few times to ensure that all the ingredients are fully combined.

Pour out a little potato flour into a bowl, dividing in the meat mixture and forming meatballs, dropping them into the potato flour and rolling around - this will help with the colouring.

Fry off the meatballs in a skillet and some good fat with a high smoke point - dripping, lard and tallow are all good. Fry on one side, then the other, then around the unfried sides. The meatballs should be pretty much cooked now, but will continue to cook and soften in the sauce.

For the sauce, in a lidded sauté pan, fry off a chopped onion in some fat and add in a carton of chopped tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are almost always lined with BPA which you can google the negative effects of this for yourself; cartons do not, nor does the tomato need an acidity regulator.

Add a finely chopped chilli, or two, to taste - I used a fiery Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Add some paprika, dried oregano and then salt to taste. Add some water to loosen up the sauce, a good tablespoon of tomato purée and then drop the meatballs into the sauce. Lid on and let is simmer on a lower heat for a good hour, softening all the ingredients and continuing the cooking of the meatballs.

Meanwhile, make up a couple of salad sides.

Cauliflower & Avocado - Steam some cauliflower and allow it to cool. Mash an avocado into a mixing bowl, dropping in the now cooled cauliflower and some chopped coriander. Splash of green Tabasco and perhaps a touch of sea salt. Gently fold together to ensure the cauliflower is coated in the avocado.

Shredded Cabbage & Lettuce - Simply shred some white cabbage and some lettuce. Combine with some chopped coriander. Splash of green Tabasco and perhaps a touch of sea salt.

Slug of Tequila to get going and dig in!

Shredded Cabbage & Lettuce Side

Simple, easy to make and delicious to eat!

Simply shred some white cabbage and some lettuce.

Combine with a teaspoon of cider vinegar, some chopped coriander, splash of green Tabasco and perhaps a touch of sea salt.

Serve out into a cool bowl and garnish with a slice of lime, squeezing over just before taking the first helping.

Cauliflower & Avocado Side

Simple, easy to make and delicious to eat!

Steam some cauliflower and allow it to cool.

Mash an avocado into a mixing bowl, dropping in the now cooled cauliflower and some chopped coriander.

Splash of green Tabasco and perhaps a touch of sea salt, gently folding together to ensure the cauliflower is coated in the avocado.

Serve out into a cool bowl and garnish with a slice of lime, squeezing over just before taking the first helping.


Warming Swede Mash

Swede mash is a quickly made side, but it can be better ...

Simply boil the swede, drain and mash with a good slice of butter.

Add in some spice - nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, something warming.

That's it!

[In better light, I will get a more appealing photograph]

Sissons-style 'Two Minute' Lunch

Mark Sissons is an inspiration to us all, I'm sure.

In my drive towards simplifying this year, lunches need to be simplified. Inspired by Mark's 'Two Minute' Salad, or "Big Ass" Salad, here's how I make up a really simple, nutritious and primal lunch.

It's a "stir-fry" for want of a better word, but gets nuked at work ...

I begin by shredding up a white cabbage and some greens, be it kale, green cabbage, collard, whatever, something deep green. Next, grated carrot. Next, onion, be it white or red, and then the good stuff.

Keep in the fridge in a large bowl and pick out a handful each day, placing into a Pyrex dish to be accompanied by the following ...

For variety, I use bean sprouts, rice noodles and rice; just a little.

Are bean sprouts paleo? Well, sprouted legumes and seeds are not as bad as you think, be it alfalfa or mung, sprouted, they're pretty harmless. They pass the raw principle for me - as do green beans.

Pfff! I'd be more concerned about BPA in cans or the carcinogens I've been breathing while driving to work ...

Anyway, back to my lunch.

I love pickled things, so lots of pickled and brine preserved things go in: olives, capers, pickled garlic, pickled gherkin, pickled chillies ... all good!

More greens! Asparagus, green beans.

Now, chilli sauce - either just finely slice a good hot chilli, like a Scotch Bonnet, or pour in a pre-made chilli sauce. There are so many good, organic, gluten-free, preservative-free, MSG-free and sugar-free sauces out there, just pick one you like.

That's the staple ... drop in some leftover meat, chicken, bacon, whatever if you like, but I like to concentrate on fish for lunches.

Finally, lid on ... keep overnight and grab a can of fish to accompany. Ensure your fish is in water, at worst, brine ... not vegetable or sunflower oil, olive oil is pretty good, so long as it is cold-pressed.

Oh, boil an egg, too ... but don't put it in the dish, just carry it along.

Needless to say, given a two minute nuke at work on "full fusion" the ingredients should be sub-cooked. No need to have everything fully cooked.

So, at work, just open the can of fish, sprinkle over, nuke the lot and enjoy the omega-3 goodness, the rich micronutrients in all those good vegetables, cut, slice or just eat the boiled egg alongside.

The heat cooks some liquid out, which becomes infused with the chilli and makes a hot, heady liquid in the bottom of the dish to slug down at the end. The meal is not at all soggy, nor soaked by this.

You know what this needs? More fat ... check out the video at the top: "Fat is our friend" at 3:10, or thereabouts. I'm still trying to work in how to do this, but for now, I just take along some soured cream to eat alongside, cooling and soothing from all that chilli. I like Smetana, which is an Eastern European/Russian soured cream and more creamy than a traditional soured cream.

Breakfast Burgers!

Burgers rule!

For breakfast, they rule more ... in fact, could assemble an army of followers and rule the world! That's how much they rule!

First up, make a burger ...

Get the best meat. As usual, I went for Aberdeen Angus fillet and had it minced.

Once cold, squeeze it between your fingers a few times to break down the structure. Form into a burger patty - that it! That's all there is to burgers. No rusk, no egg, no onion, no more fat. If you need a little help forming a patty, look no further than this: Burgers!

This is the perfect burger!

Pop them onto a griddle pan and put some streaky bacon under the grill along with a couple of waffles.

Waffles? Yes! Potato waffles ...

Carbohydrate does have a role in the paleo diet, especially useful for active days and best eaten earlier in the day. Breakfast (around 10:30) is perfect. As with all macronutrients, paleo is about sourcing the best - carbohydrate from starches are far superior to carbohydrate from grains or fructose.

I buy mine! Shock, I know, but they're not too bad - Bird's Eye brand. Potato waffles are pretty much just starch, in fact, the ingredients list as:

So, pretty much all potato, no sugar, which is rare for processed foods and the role of E464 prevents the potato from being saturated with vegetable oil. 

Good so far, but let's read a little more into E464.

From Wikipedia: "Use in whole grain breads Agricultural Research Service scientists are investigating using the plant-derived HPMC as a substitute for gluten in making all oat and other grain breads. Gluten, which is present in wheat, rye and barley is absent (or present only in trace quantities) in oat and other grains. Like gluten, HPMC can trap air bubbles formed by the yeast in bread dough, causing the bread to rise. Although it has not been widely studied, it is predicted that whole grain breads made with HPMC will have cholesterol-lowering effects."

Okay, so a gluten alternative ... akin to xanthan gum, or other such stabilisers?

I'm waffling on a bit here, but wanted to investigate these fully. Processed food? Yes, but "sometimes it is better to eat the wrong food with the right attitude than the other way around" Chris Kressler.

The paleo template is large enough an hegemony for each person to take as far as the want to, personally. If this is a step too far ... don't! Leave it off the plate, put the burger over a lettuce leaf or a portobello mushroom ... or for a starchier meal, slices of sautéed potato.

Back on track ...

We've got our burgers cooking, bacon grilling and something starchy cooking.

Pre-dress a plate with some cold foods - tomato wedges, pickled gherkins, sauerkraut, blueberries, cucumber, that kind of thing.

Prepare for the burgers by shredding some lettuce and mixing with yoghurt, soured cream or home-made mayonnaise. Thinly slice some cucumber, some cheese and get some mushrooms frying off.

When you're ready to serve up, get an egg frying.

Plate up with the cucumber on the potato, cut the burger in half to create two slices, placing a slice of cheese on each and the shredded lettuce between, a good dollop of some kind of spicy sauce on top, then slide the egg on to the very top. Crown with bacon and some herbs - coriander is good.

... now get outside and have fun!


Creamed Spinach

Taking an idea from creamed kale, this is a simple dish of spinach and cottage cheese.

Cottage cheese may not be a term all are familiar with, but to put it into context, it is simple curd cheese which you could easily make yourself by straining natural yoghurt through a muslin ... or, buy a tub.

As with all things paleo, get the best you can.

Let's get cooking ...

Boil one egg per person.

Eggs should be free range at the very least, woodland reared are best since the chickens are left to roam, peck and scratch for grubs natural to their diet, and the taste difference is evident.

Wilt a good quantity of spinach in a frying pan with some butter.

Take time to get all the moisture evaporated from the spinach - wet spinach mixed with cream cheese will not look good. Add a little white pepper and some paprika for a little taste.

Combine with some cottage cheese, stirring in thoroughly.

Plate up by laying slices of egg on a clean white plate. Sprinkle a dusting of cayenne pepper over. Spoon the spinach mixture over the top.

Feel free to combine this with whatever combination of meat, fish or shellfish you wish.


Indonesian Gulai Kancah

Indonesian Gulai Kancah, or an approximation of it made by a totally inexperienced Westerner who thoroughly enjoyed it in the face of adversity!

Don't you just love it when things go wrong?

No, really! Some things work out so well when they're rescued from disaster!

What happened?

Well, I wanted to make up a beef stew. I had some beef and I had some lamb kidneys. I had a squash.

Consulting the google oracle, I found many ideas ranging from the plain to the less plain to the more plain ... and then found Gulai Kancah!

Indonesian Beef and Liver!

Fusion alert! Fusion takes the best of one culture and marries it with the best of another culture.

Indonesians make hot, sweet and sour curries while we Western Europeans make bland beef stews which can occasionally be interesting when beer is included, like our Beligian friends would.

To work ...

I browned off about a pound of beef cubes in coconut oil and then added in the lamb kidneys, halved and the white gristle centre removed.

Kidney? Yes! It's what I had in; no liver.

Meanwhile, I made up a paste of onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. I used a Scotch Bonnet pepper for a real lively kick, rather than several Bird's Eye chillies - again, it's what I had in.

Blended and poured over the now browned meat, I added water, tamarind paste and some ground black pepper.

Tamarind? Is that even paleo?

Well, I don't quite know - it is a member of the Fabaceae family, and so technically a legume, although we're just using the seed from inside. Seed? Yes, the seed. So, um ... paleo? Well, I don't know ...

Either way, tamarind has a unique sour flavour which is the absolute key to this dish. In the spirit of paleo, I did my hunter/gatherer thing and collected a tub of pure tamarind extract from the local supermarket and tasted it. It didn't kill me and had a curious flavour. Being the largest and strongest in my tribe, I took the challenge! I'll eat some and see if it's okay ... it was!

Great! So, a teaspoon of pungent sour tamarind paste went in along with a crushed lemongrass stalk and a couple of keffir lime leaves.

Water ... set to a rolling simmer in a sauté pan to get the meat tender.

Meanwhile, I go for my evening walk ...


I left my dear wife in charge with the instruction to keep it topped up with water. Upon my return, I was greeted with, "the tea is all burned!". That's dinner, which we call "tea" up north, northern England.

She had just rescued it before it really stuck and luckily, it was the sauce which had stuck not the meat. So, scraped out and the meat meticulously picked from the charred remains of our dinner, I set about repeating the task.

"Our dinner was in your hands, Dude!" :)

This time, I used a softened aubergine as the sauce base. I'd made up some blended aubergine to use as a base for some eggs and scallops as a starter. We'd have to skip that as time was pressing, so the aubergine made the base of a new sauce.

How? Just skin and slice some aubergine, soften in butter and then purée. Move on.

I added another onion, more garlic, so 4 good cloves, more ginger, so about an inch square and another Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Blended and added into the now clean sauté pan wherein the rescued meat was now coming up to the boil in more water, I added in another generous teaspoon of tamarind paste, more keffir lime leaves and another lemongrass stalk.

I had cubed a squash to drop in upon my return from my walk, so this went in at this point.

This was going well ...

Fusion time! It needed salt, which I added some Maldon salt, and some sweetness. Hmmm ... beer! Belgian beer! Grabbing a bottle of brown Leffe, I added a good glass of beer with some arrowroot to thicken the stock. I added a good splash more to colour up.

This is, of course, entirely optional - if you don't drink alcohol as part of your paleo lifestyle or are concerned about beer being from grain, you don't need to add it. Just don't.

I also dropped in some mussels. Adding cheap seafood to beef stews is a good old British thing - think, oysters in Lancashire Hotpot, mussels in London Beef Stew. These practically disappeared into the sauce giving a subtle background.

Liquid reduced, concentrated and thickened to an almost sticking sauce, I served out into small bowls and garnished with shredded spring onions and some coriander.

So, an hour and a half overdue ... we're hungry ... really hungry!

Wow! Oh, wow! This is seriously flavoursome!

Hot, physically and blisteringly fierce with chilli, sour, sweet, all sorts going on in my mouth!

Why have I not eaten Indonesian before?

Lucky me, I have a half-filled bowl of sauce left over for a work lunch. I'm thinking some chicken, maybe pork and some boiled white rice to accompany? Ideas? Let me know in the comments, please - I have my lunch for tomorrow, so need ideas for tomorrow evening when I'll prepare my lunch for Thursday.


Warm Salad of Salmon & Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a paleo superfood!

Such a small vegetable providing an astounding pack of  vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre, not to mention anti-cancer benefits, particularly believed to protect against colon cancer since they contain sinigrin.

Keeping cooking to a minimum, these anti-cancer benefits are largely retained.

So, what's in this salad?

Begin by poaching some salmon. I like to vacuum pack the salmon and allow it to bathe in water around 60 degrees for a couple of hours. This retains so much of the flavour which is usually lost to poaching water. Feel free to just poach in water and use the water as part of a soup or amuse bouche.

Take 8 or 10 sprouts each, cleaning off the outside leaves and boil for long enough to be softened on the outside but still some firmness in the middle. Drain off, cut in half and keep warm by returning to the hot pan covering with a saucer or lid.

I accompanied my sprouts with some chorizo, lightly fried off. Bacon would be excellent, too, working well with salmon.

When ready to plate up, scatter the sprout halves over the plate, the chorizo or bacon, some leaves and then the poached salmon over the top.

Salads need two other things:

First, a sauce. I made up a Hollandaise sauce with two egg yolks, a squeeze of lemon juice, poured some melted butter and then warmed over a pan of boiling water.

Eggs should be as natural as you can get them - fully woodland reared where they are left to scratch and peck for grubs is perfect.

Second, croutons! I made up some half inch cubes of potato and deep fried them in dripping.

If potatoes are not something that you want to eat as part of your paleo diet, any root veg with whatever your favourite fat will do just fine. Pre-boiled and shallow fried would work out well, too.

Garnish with a couple of stalks of quickly boiled asparagus spears and maybe some pecorino shavings.


Bangers & Mash (Redux)

Classic British comfort food - sausages over mashed potatoes with an onion gravy.

Potatoes are perfectly good as a starch source in the paleo+ template.

As with all paleo food, selecting the better macronutrient is the key - starch is the better carbohydrate, fructose or grains the poor source.

Potatoes could be used as part of a carb-refeed, or you could just use roots with a lower glycemic index as I did here: Bangers & Mash

This is the redux: keeping it paleo yet bringing it back the potato texture.

Credit where it is due, I got the inspiration from Mellissa Sevigny on her low-carb food blog I Breathe ... I'm Hungry... "Better than Potatoes" Cheesy Cauliflower Puree

Simply put, steamed cauliflower is puréed together with grated cheese to thicken and give that gelatinous texture.

To work ...

Put some sausages in the oven set to 200C for about half an hour, turning every 10 minutes, or so to ensure good colouring and that they are fully cooked which will take about half an hour.

Sausages should be as close to all meat as possible and not contain rusk - mine were actually turkey sausages with only meat, seasoning and potato flour listed as ingredients. Many Butchers will happily make up sausages for you with your preference of minced meat.

Make up a gravy - normally, pork or beef sausages would be accompanied by a beef stock gravy, but being turkey, I decided to use a chicken stock. I keep Kallo brand stock cubes in my cupboard for quick gravy, thickened with arrowroot but liquid stock or stock you've made up yourself would be perfect.

Meanwhile soften some onions in a frying pan with a little butter and turn down the heat so that the onions caramelise. This will take about 20 minutes, after which drop some thinly sliced mushrooms in to soak up any free butter and then tip the lot into the gravy.

After turning the sausages for the first time (after about 10 minutes), set a head of cauliflower into a steamer. The outer leaves should be removed and the stalk. Steam for about 20 minutes. One head of cauliflower is sufficient for two people.

The stalks should be reserved for an amuse bouche or a soup.

Purée the cauliflower with a generous amount of grated cheese, some flat leaf parsley, minced garlic and maybe a little English mustard. If the mash is not thick and gelatinous like potato, purée in a little more cheese.

The purpose of the cheese is to offset that characteristic cauliflower flavour, and it does. Apparently, feta cheese is good in a small quantity for bringing a starchiness into the textural experience.

Serve out into a wide-brimmed bowl with the mushrooms and onions from the gravy, then a good dollop of mash, placing the sausages on top and pouring over more gravy.

Don't tell anyone it's not potato ... they just won't notice!

Chilli Con Carne Lasagne


Just a quick idea about how to turn leftover Chilli Con Carne into a favourite comfort dish which still keeping it paleo.


It may surprise you to know that Lasagne is actually British! No, really ...

Mentioned as Loseyne in 'The Forme of Cury', a 14th Century English cook book, where the recipe is recorded as:

"Take gode broth and do in an erthen pot, take flour of payndemayn and make therof past with water. and make therof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it harde and seeth it in broth take Chese ruayn  grated and lay it in disshes with powdour douce. and lay theron loseyns isode as hoole as thou mizt and above powdour and chese, and so twyse or thryse, & serue it forth."

Easy ... so "sheets", cheese and something between them ...

First, make up a Chilli Con Carne and enjoy it with some guacamole, Greek yoghurt, cachumbar and some cos wraps. Place the leftovers in a bowl in the fridge.

When ready, make up some cream cheese pancakes - these will act as the layers for the lasagne.

Warm the Chilli Con Carne through in a pan, reducing all the liquid and make up a cheese sauce with cream, milk and grated cheese, reducing gently until thickened. Add a touch of nutmeg for a warming flavour.

Time to build the dish ...

Spread a thin layer of cheese sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof dish.

Layer half of the Chilli Con Carne over and then place a couple of pancakes over.

Repeat, crowning with the remaining cheese sauce in a thin layer and more grated cheese. Just a little sea salt is nice over the top for a little crunch.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes on 180C until the cheese is melted and then switch on the grill to brown the cheese a little.

Serve out onto a plate with a light leafy salad.


Paleo, Just Paleo!

Sometimes it's tough being a paleo food blogger, always trying to find really interesting food to cook without going quite pretentious and without sliding into emulation of neolithic foods.

Sometimes, you just want to eat ... and eat well!

This year has got off to a pretty slow start. Being a good home cook, I do like to keep things interesting as well as good and nutritious for my wife and our family when they're around, but it does get hard dreaming up new things week in week out.

Yes, sometimes, you just want to bung a whole load of things that you love into a pan and eat it!

Tonight was one such night!

My other hobby is automotive detailing - you know, take a car (any car) and then compound, polish and burnish the paintwork to the sublime and clean, dress and present everything else to the most ridiculous detail? Well, there's a fellow called Mike Phillips who is practically a philosopher amongst detailing circles who has the tagline, "find something you like and use it often".

That can equally apply to food, and indeed should!

We'd been to the supermarket and felt so uninterested, but did pick up a whole basket of good food as well as a couple of bottles of really good cider. I like to drink, but my dear wife is not one for it ... but a glass of really good cider and she's in. Henry Weston's 2010 Reserve, which will be quite excellent in a few years if there's any left, but tonight, perfect!


We'd picked up some turkey breast, which I diced and accompanied with whatever I could find in the fridge - streaky bacon and chorizo ... gotta get those fats in! I did use a lot of tallow retrieved from this morning's breakfast to keep it all moist once the vegetables were added.

We'd also picked up a white cabbage, some asparagus and some green beans. Green beans are perfectly paleo, so stop getting hot under the collar! These things can be eaten raw and I am certain that if our proverbial caveman ancestor had found them, he'd have eaten them!

Stop worrying! It passes the raw principle.

Other things in the fridge and in the larder - some cavolo nero (Italian black kale), a leek, some ginger, spring onions, garlic, Scotch Bonnet chilli, later some mushrooms, a lot of tallow retrieved from sausages cooked this morning ... oh, all sorts of things.

Take a heavy bottomed pan.

The heavy bottom is a must - this dish is NOT a stir-fry, it is a paleo scramble!

The heavy bottom is necessary to ensure that the dish remains hot, even with the heat turned down - we don't want this too hot, but we do want it kept hot!

Perfect outdoor cooking over a real fire, for which cast iron is a must ... but in the kitchen, my crappy old heavy based non-stick pan will do for now. When we move (less than three months now), I can use cast iron ... roll on ... roll on ...

So, the ingredients ...

... some meat and some vegetables.

This is not a case of bunging a bunch of food into a pan and warming it though. This is carefully selecting ingredients that you love and will work together. Or, just grab a bunch of food and go on an adventure, which is often how really interesting combinations are put together.

Simply add some fat to the pan and start loading in the food in the order in which it needs cooking - fatty meat first, lean meat next, onions, leek, spring onions next, heavy stalky greens next, other greens, flavours - ginger, garlic, herbs, spices ... cook it all together and serve out.

Make it Paleo!

Stick a fried egg on top - make sure it's a good one. Accompany with a bottle of good cider and seriously enjoy!

Breakfast Lasagne

Yes, Lasagne! For breakfast!

As paleo eaters, we don't do things conventionally by modern standards, so imagine my glee at finding something like this on I Breathe ... I'm Hungry ... a low-carb food blog I read.

It may surprise you to know that Lasagne is actually British! No, really ...

Mentioned as Loseyne in 'The Forme of Cury', a 14th Century English cook book, where the recipe is recorded as:

"Take gode broth and do in an erthen pot, take flour of payndemayn and make therof past with water. and make therof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it harde and seeth it in broth take Chese ruayn  grated and lay it in disshes with powdour douce. and lay theron loseyns isode as hoole as thou mizt and above powdour and chese, and so twyse or thryse, & serue it forth."

Easy ... so "sheets", cheese and something between them ...

First, make up some pancakes to use as the sheets: Cream Cheese Pancakes.

Next, get some sausages frying off gently, pouring off the fat as it renders into a ramekin for later use.

Prepare for scrambled eggs by simply cracking some eggs into a bowl and breaking up the yolks. Not too much, though! We want some structure in there.

Eggs should be free range at the very least, woodland reared are best since the chickens are left to roam, peck and scratch for grubs natural to their diet, and the taste difference is evident.

Also, grate some cheese - cheddar is perfect!

You know what this needs?

Yes! Bacon! So get some delicious streaky bacon sitting under the grill, broiler, salamader, or whatever your language calls on overhead source of heat.

No! More bacon ... at least a couple of rashers!

When the sausages and the bacon are ready, heat a skillet and drop in a little butter. Drop a good knob of pastured butter into a frying pan and just after it has melted, pour in the eggs.

Fold the eggs periodically to produce a nice texture and keep lifting off the heat so as not to over cook. The eggs want to be "just done", not dry.

Just before the eggs have fully cooked, drop a little heavy cream into the egg mixture and just fold it gently using the residual heat in the pan to finish the cooking. Optionally, add in a little sea salt at this stage, too.

Put the dish together ...

Lay a pancake on the plate, sprinkle over some cheese and some scrambled eggs.

Lay another pancake on, more cheese, now the sausages.

Lay another pancake on, even more cheese and more scrambled eggs.

Crown the dish with bacon.

Serve with some tomato juice. I like Big Tom as a treat, which is like a pre-made Bloody Mary without the vodka. You know ... this dish could be a great excuse for a Bloody Mary for breakfast!

Cream Cheese Pancakes

Almost too easy to make!

As a paleo alternative to traditional flour pancakes, the texture and flavour is just right.

These pancakes are flour-free, nut flour-free and use cream cheese to add substance to the batter.

This is not substitution - these pancakes are better than flour pancakes!

I guess sweeter versions could be made using a little sweetener - honey, maple syrup, Stevia, or the like. Deepen the flavour with a little spice - nutmeg, cinnamon, or even on the savoury side with a little salt, coriander powder, cumin or cayenne pepper as ideas.

With your regard to choice of sweetener and whether it is primal, I'll link to a couple of resources and you can make your own mind up:

To work ...

Cream cheese should be as natural as you can get it - there really is no need to buy industrialised cream cheese which may have all manner of preservatives, emulfisiers and so on. If in doubt, check the ingredients! If you're still in doubt, rely upon what I call the Ingredient/Description Principle, as outlined in Coming in From the Cold on my personal paleo blog.

Interestingly enough, Philadelphia brand has Locust Bean Gum listed in the ingredients (urgh!), yet (one for the UK paleo people), Sainsbury own brand "So Organic" Cream Cheese does not even list ingredients on the tub - it is, literally, "cream cheese".

Simply put, the ingredients should list nothing more than the description of the food; so, 'Butter' should read as "butter" in the ingredients, 'Salted Butter' as "butter, sea salt" and ... 'Cream Cheese' as "cream cheese". Anything else in there are you probably don't want to eat it, particularly if it has an x in it!

Of course you could make the cream cheese yourself by hanging some full fat yoghurt up in a muslin bag and permitting the whey to drain out.

With your cream cheese made, or well selected, let's get back to it ...

The ratio is simple - use 1 egg per 1oz of cream cheese. That will make a couple of 6" pancakes or three very thin crêpes.

Blend together well and allow the large bubbles to fall off, leaving a foamy batter.

Grease an 8" skillet or frying pan (which will produce 6" ish pancakes) with a little fat - coconut oil is ideal for both savoury and sweet pancakes, but do vary the fat if you like the flavour to go one way or the other.

Pour in a ladel of the batter and tip it around the pan.

After maybe a minute, the remaining uncooked batter will just be about to cook out, so swirl any remaining around the edge of the pan to strengthen the now cooked thin edges.

After a couple of minutes carefully, and I mean carefully, get a palette knife underneath and flip the pancake over. Another minute and it will be ready to tip out.

Have fun ...


Sardines with Puy Lentils

Puy lentils, a Protected Designation of Origin green lentil variety from the Le Puy region of France owes its distinct character to the terroir within which it grows.

Lentils are part of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family: legumes, and as such have no place in the paleo diet, yet are tentatively acceptable as part of what I would call a paleo+ diet.

Legumes as a family represent a wide spectrum. When considering food sources, one does need to look at the whole, the big picture - red kidney beans represent the most toxic end of the spectrum, while lentils represent the least toxic. Beyond paleo, Archevore author Kurt Harris makes no mention of legumes, in fact, considers them a useful food source although not ideal.

Legumes MUST be prepared by soaking and then pressure cooking. Canned legumes will have already been soaked and then pressure cooked, or super-heated with steam.

While meat, fish and eggs are on the table, why eat off the plate? Well, lentils could be considered an interested texture or flavour boosting protein calories (include the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine), as well as acting as a ready source of dietary fibre, folate, Vitamin B1 and a number of trace minerals, notably iron.

Puy lentils lend a unique flavour and pleasant texture to all manner of meals, white fish particularly.

Begin by melting some butter in a skillet and softening a chopped onion or shredded leek. Toss in a clove or two of minced garlic.

Pour in a can of Puy lentils.

Enhance the umami flavours with a touch of tomato purée and a good splash of Worcestershire Sauce. Add a little water and let the lentils simmer.

Meanwhile warm through some fish - canned fish is perfectly good, and a can of sardines or pilchards absolutely perfect!

Shred and steam some greens - savoy cabbage, kale, cavolo nero or even callaloo are all perfect! I used cavolo nero, an Italian black kale.

Serve the shredded greens around the side and accompany with some green olives, laying the fish over the top.

Excellent as leftovers to warm through for lunch the following day.


Spaghetti Paleonese (AKA "Spag Bol")

Spaghetti Paleonese (AKA "Spag Bol")
Spag Bol?

Hell yeah! That's what we call it here in Britain - a made up Italian dish done completely wrong, but remains a classic and a favourite of British cuisine.

Why wrong?

Well, pasta should always be mixed with the sauce - when first introduced to Britain, pasta was cooked and put on the plate with the sauce placed over the top.

Yes, we did it wrong, but it is well loved and nowadays, that method can be celebrated ... even repeated without attracting scorn and condemnation :)

To business ...

Take some beef mince - a pound will do it, and be sufficient for two. Get it browning in a large lidded sauté pan.

Once browned, toss in a chopped onion and several cloves of minced garlic. Put the lid on and get the onions rapidly softened in the steam.

Toss in a few diced mushrooms to soak up all the excess fat.

Pour in a carton or can of chopped tomatoes and stir in.

Add the flavour enhancers - a good squirt of tomato purée, several slugs of Worcestershire Sauce, a beef stock cube, some ground black pepper and a good helping of dried oregano.

Dice some carrot and toss that in, along with a good helping of water.

Lid on ... cook on for an hour, or so, on a good simmer.

Raise the heat to reduce the remaining liquid while you julienne the flesh of a courgette and toss it in a frying pan to warm through.

Serve up with the courgette spaghetti in a bowl, placing the Bolognese on top carefully so as not to mix it up - the Italians might, but we Brits don't ... not with this dish.

Finally, omit the parmesan! If you really must, those awful tubes of so-called parmesan that smells of bad feet should be used! This is a British dish and it would be a great shame to ruin it with some good and proper parmesan!

Best just leave it out ...


Sausage and Sweet Potato over Italian Salad Leaves with a Pesto Vinaigrette

Quite a fancy title for such a simple dish, but that is the very essence of Italian-inspired food.

Funnily enough, this was intended as a bit of a joke on the British 'Bangers & Mash' - that's sausages and mashed potato.

I told my wife we were having 'Bangers & Mash', but a little different ...

Drop some fat into a roasting dish - I used dripping.

Place the sausages and wedges of sweet potato into the roasting dish and into a pre-heated over set to 180C.

Roast the sausages and sweet potato for 20 minutes, then increase the heat to 220C. This last stage will colour the sausages and crisp up the sweet potato. Let it go for another 10 minutes, or so.

Your sausages should be good - mine were 97% pork with some herbs and fat as the remainder.

Don't worry about Italian flavours - the vinaigrette will sort that out.

Meanwhile, grab a bag of salad leaves - rocket, spinach, lettuce, that kind of thing and sprinkle a few leaves on a plate, salting with some good sea salt.

Slice some red onion and get it soaking in cold water to take off the edge.

Make up a vinaigrette from pesto (that's simply olive oil, pine nuts and basil blended), lemon juice, pickled garlic, capers and a splash of vinegar - I used Sherry vinegar.

Splash this over the leaves.

When the sausages have browned and the sweet potatoes are soft and coloured, arrange them over the leaves and splash more vinaigrette over.

Drain the onion and sprinkle over.


But ... 'Bangers & Mash'?

Sausages ... and mash your own (sweet) potato as you eat it!

Scallops over Leek and Lemon Risotto

Scallops, awesome!

Risotto rice, tasty and a good carb kick when you need it!

Together? Heaven!

Risotto rice is a real paleo+ treat - it is carby, but don't worry as we're not having a lot; just a taster.

To work ...

Soften some butter in a frying pan and chuck in some shredded leek.

Swirl some risotto rice around in the remaining butter and pour over a good glass of white wine, keeping the heat up to cook out the wine and impart a great flavour into the dish.

Once cooked through, add more ... or water, if you want to drink more of the wine.

There is a simple rule of thumb among cooks - DO NOT cook with wine you would not drink. Take a bottle that you want to drink and cook with it.

Back to the rice ...

Keep cooking the rice on with more water, as necessary.

Ready? Serve out onto a crisp clean plate.

Wash out the pan quickly and get more butter in there ... let it brown, beurre noisette.

Drop in some scallops and swirl them around, not overcooking, but colouring just enough.

Turn out onto the top of the risotto and pour over a little dark butter.

Squeeze of lemon, done!

Keema Karela Paneer

Exotic sounding, I know ... it's curry.

Keema - mince ... ground meat. Lamb. Karela - bitter gourd. Paneer - cheese.

First, the mince, then the karela, then the paneer.

Fry off some lamb mince in some fat - I used ghee. Lower the heat and set it to soften.

Meanwhile take some karela - these are bitter gourds and need some preparation.

Slice the gourds into centimetre slices and boil them in very salted water for a good hour! That does sound like a long time, but it is necessary to get them soft and take some of the bitterness out.

While that is going on, return to the mince.

Finely chop and onion, a few cloves of garlic and a good thumb of ginger. Pop these into the pan with the minced lamb.

Spice it up!

Turmeric, coriander, cumin and celery salt. Chilli flakes, asafoetida and a little white pepper. Squirt of tomato purée and we're done.

Let that mix steam in a sauté pan for a good while, adding more water to keep it wet.

Once the karela is soft, drain off and pour into the minced lamb.

Cook on ...

Cube up some paneer. Search your supermarket for paneer, or make it yourself.

Respectful of Hindi and Sikh people, paneer is set off with lemon juice rather than rennet. To make it yourself, boil up some milk and pour lemon juice in. Stir, stir and keep stirring. Pour into a muslin bag and place in a tray with a board and some weight on top to squeeze out the liquid. Once set, cube up.

... or buy it from a supermarket!

Cube up and chuck into the lamb mince and karela. Cook on with more water for another hour, or so. Some folks like to pre-fry the paneer ... I don't.

Okay ... done!

Serve up, or place into a dish for lunch tomorrow. That'll do me.


Yorkshire Pudding

Possibly Yorkshire's most famous export!

Yorkshire, largest county in England, in Great Britain and in the United Kingdom; practically a nation, and certainly thought as such by its countrymen.

Yorkshire, land of green and grey, land of thin lipped drizzle, skinny whippets and proud people sound in their history, their principles and their outlook. Yes, I'm a Yorkshireman!

Since going paleo, my beloved Yorkshire pudding has been off the table.

Since considering some foods beyond paleo, I am very happy to say ... it is back on the table!


The magic of sorghum flour ...

Sorghum flour is produced by grinding the seeds of amaranth grass from the flowers.

Seed - that's the important word. As a food source, it is used extensively on the Indian sub-continent, and as a potential paleo food source, it is gluten-free and has a lower phytate content and a lower lectin content than traditional grains.

Paleo? No ... well, not yet ...

No, really ... how?

Pre-heat your oven to 230C and place a couple of tins in there with some dripping.

Dripping is awesome! It is that simple. Furthermore, dripping is pretty much defended as the last bastion of pre-industrial food and used widely in Yorkshire in traditional food as well as our plentiful 'Chippies' - Fish & Chip shops.

Dripping has a high smoke point (something like 280C) and can be continuously fried for something like 40 hours before it becomes oxidised. Now, that is a fat! That is a fat fit for paleo!

Dripping gives an authentic flavour to Yorkshire pudding. Accept no substitute!

Heat the fat. It will not smoke so you will not have any kind of clue that it is ready to use. Read on ...

Recipe? I suppose I should ... "take some of this and add a splash of that" is not really helpful when it comes to batter.

Intermission: Recipe

Take shy of 4 oz of sorghum flour into a mixing bowl and top up to 4 oz with some kind of starch - corn starch, potato starch or even cassava flour. The starch will help lift the flour from a heavy dough to a lighter batter. Experiment here - some sorghum flours are much lighter than others.

Crack in a couple of eggs - free range and naturally reared, naturally.

Add 7 fl oz of full fat milk and 3 fl oz of water.

Add a touch of sea salt.

Melt a good knob of butter and pour into the mix - this is the key. Yorkshire folk love butter! No, seriously, this is the key! Do not skip this ingredient.

Blend together with a hand blender or food processor for some time.

Back to the main feature ...

Take a teaspoon and pour it into the dripping tray. Does it spit and bubble? Yes? It's ready to roll!

Pour the batter into the trays - this will make two large round Yorkshire puddings, sufficient for a couple of people. Feel free to pour into one large tray and share, or into a number of smaller cupcake sized moulds. They're all acceptable.

Drop the heat to 200C and cook for 20 minutes, after which the puddings should be crispy, light and not dry.

Eat them sweet with berries and whipped cream. No, seriously, this will work out fine.

Eat them savoury by loading up your favourite food over - Chilli con Carne, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Corned Beef Hash, Beef Stew, Curry, whatever it is you love ... you'll love it more in a Yorkshire!

Britannia Beef Dripping

Intermission: Dripping


I gather the word is unfamiliar to many around the world - simply put, dripping is the fat juices collected from a roasting joint. The fat drips into a tray and is collected for cooking with later, hence dripping.

Let's look to Wikipedia to see if there is a better description: "Dripping, also known usually as beef dripping or more rarely, as pork dripping, is an animal fat produced from the fatty or otherwise unusable parts of cow or pig carcasses. It is similar to lard and tallow although tallow is an unacceptable flavor for shortening or cooking generally."

"Preparation is traditionally described as collection of the residue from meat roasts but true production is from such residue added to boiling water with a generous amount of salt. The stock pot should be chilled and the solid lump of dripping which settles when chilled should be scraped clean and re-chilled for future use."

So, much akin to lard and tallow.

Dripping is awesome! It is that simple. Furthermore, dripping is pretty much defended as the last bastion of pre-industrial food and used widely in Yorkshire in traditional food as well as our plentiful 'Chippies' - Fish & Chip shops, in fact I talked about dripping in the post about Chips.

Dripping has a high smoke point (something like 280C) and checking the figures on the Rancimat analysis can be continuously fried for something like 40 hours before it becomes oxidised.

Now, that is a fat! That is a fat fit for paleo!

Britannia brand is popular throughout the UK and can be found in most supermarkets. It is commercially extracted, but don't let that put you off. As I mused in Coming in From the Cold, when it comes to packaged food we have the ingredient principle to guide us: "does the list of ingredients read longer than the description of the food?"

Description: Finest Beef Dripping
Ingredients: Beef Dripping

It passes!


West African Jollof Rice

This is a dish that many will take a look at the picture and say, "that's pilaf!" ... or, "that's jambalaya!" ... or, "that's nasi goreng!".

This is a dish you already know how to make.

The blurb, from Wikipedia: "Jollof rice, also called Benachin meaning one pot in the Wolof language, is a popular dish all over West Africa. It is thought to have originated in The Gambia but has since spread to the whole of West Africa, especially Nigeria and Ghana amongst members of the Wolof ethnic group. There are many variations of Jollof rice. The most common basic ingredients are basmati rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper. Beyond that, nearly any kind of meat, vegetable, or spice can be added."

Sounds great! Let's get to it ...

White rice is one of those ingredients that is peripheral to the paleo diet, tolerable, but not ideal. Beyond paleo, Perfect Health Diet authors Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet would call this a "safe starch" and it is with this in mind that I am perfectly happy to include white rice as part of what I would call a paleo+ diet. For a deeper look at this, check out the Perfect Health Diet.

I began with some coconut oil in a skillet. Red palm oil would also be authentic, or as far as I know about West African authenticity, which is not a huge amount by any stretch of the imagination, so ... if you are reading this and screaming at the screen that I'm doing it all wrong, please do get in touch in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

So, I began with some coconut oil and softened some shredded spring onions. I don't know if spring onions are readily available in Africa, but this is a western version inspired by what I'd seen in a video about Ghanaian cuisine.

I dropped a clove of minced garlic in, too, and then a generous spoonful of shito.

Shito? Let's look to Wikipedia again: "Shitor Din, commonly called Shito is the word for pepper in the Ghanaian native language. Whilst the word for pepper is different for each of the Ghanaian native languages, the word Shito is widely used as the name for the hot black pepper sauce ubiquitous in Ghanaian cuisine. Shito sauce consists primarily of fish oil and/or vegetable oil, ginger, dried fish and/or crustaceans, tomatoes, garlic and spices. The blend of spices and fish differs between different regions and villages."

Mine, I bought from Tesco where I found it in and amongst a whole heap of Mother Africa foods and it sounded like a lot of fun! The ingredients list as oil, shrimp and chilli. I have used this before a number of times and find how fish soups with simple greens are made into a stunning meal with a good spoon of Shito. Another time, I'll try just that with fufu balls, but for now, we're making rice.

Careful! This will fill the kitchen with something close to mustard gas! Seriously! Have your rice ready to coat in the cooking oils and some water to pour over within reach.

That's just what I did ... coated the basmati rice in the oils, colour and flavour, and poured over some water. How much? Enough to cover ... and then some. The slow cooking will infuse the rice with the water and flavours, and the water level will be fully absorbed. If you put too little on and the rice dries out before it is cooked, add more water; too much, just cook the rice on for a little longer.

Back to it ...

I also tossed in some shrimp, some peas, some chopped celery and some diced carrot and a generous squirt of tomato puree. Diced tomato would be good. You could add herbs in at point - thyme would be a good choice. I didn't ... the moment passed me by ... but there'll always be a next time.

Lower the heat under the skillet and allow the water to absorb.

It's that simple. Salt to flavour and serve out onto a plate.


Naked Baltic Salad!

Naked? No, you don't need to go au naturel to make this up ...

Simple to put together and a great punch of sour goodness!

Around the Baltic, all manner of pickles can be found as favourites in all states from Sweden to Russia to Poland and everywhere in between.

The list is not restrictive, but pickled herring, pickled anchovy, pickled gherkin, pickled beetroot, sauerkraut, pickled carrot and boiled eggs are all sound ingredients.

Take a few, some or all of these and put them on a plate.

Here, I went with a small bed of sauerkraut topped with a couple of pieces of pickled herring and a couple of slices of pickled gherkin alongside.

Accompanied by a blob of soured cream; more authentic to the Baltic is smetana which has a more creamier flavour than the soured cream we're used to in Western Europe, and garnished with dill.

Astonishingly, I had neither in the house, so the salad is naked!

Dress it if you're prudish :)


Turkey Curry

Happy New Year, guys and gals!

I do apologise for not putting up any new recipes for a while, but I have to confess to an over-indulgence in sensible indulgences on New Year's Eve and ... you guessed it ... there was an incident. I will spare you the details, but the result of these shenanigans left me with a bruised coccyx! Brutal pain!

So, we've been eating simple, easy to make food (all good paleo food, don't think a busted tailbone would turn me neolithic) which is not all that inspiring; let alone wanting to photograph it.

But here we are ... 2012!

Will the world end? I don't think so - I seem to recall a fleeting glimpse of 2015 in 'Back to the Future', so we know we get through this year.

First post of the year, and what better than curry?

I love curry! I don't care what's in it, so long as it is meat, fish, shellfish, vegetables and fat, good fat: ghee. Many restaurants are turning to "healthy" oils and there's even one restaurant here in Bradford which does not use any fat or oil at all!

From Goan Fish to Mussel Masala to the heady concoctions from Kashmir, curry is King!

My hometown of Bradford has a sizeable Pakistani population and a notable Kashmiri population. The tastes that I've picked up in forty years of eating curry inspired by the tastes of these countries gives me a rather specific spice blend which might or might not be authentic and might not even look anything like a traditional curry blend, but it's mine and I like it.

Here it is ...

4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon Indian black salt
1 onion, caramelised in ghee
Squirt of tomato puree
Inch square of ginger

To caramelise an onion, drop some ghee into a pan, sprinkle the powdered spices over and fry on high for a short while - less than a minute, but more than a few seconds.

Shred an onion and toss it in the ghee and spices. Set the heat down low and let the sugars in the onion darken in the ghee. Ghee has a good smoke point, so can tolerate harsh frying later on, but in this case it's slow and steady - this can take half an hour, or so.

Blend the onions together with the garlic, ginger and chillies. Add a squirt of tomato puree.

Okay, we've got the curry paste ready, let's look at the meat ...

I understand that the Pakistani, Kashmiri and Northern Indian method is to simply drop the raw meat into the paste and let it cook. I have tried this method and it comes out well. In fact, Chef Rick Stein was introduced to this very method at the Karachi here in Bradford.

It comes out as well as any other method, like pre-marinating or browning off.

I like to brown off meat, especially chicken or turkey.

Here, I'm using turkey - a couple of pounds of turkey meat in strips that I've diced. Turkey has a really good meaty texture and here in the UK, we tend to only see it at Christmas, but it is getting more popular as a lower fat alternative meat.

Lower fat? Come on ... man up! You're paleo! Think on ... we're using ghee here ...

In a sauté pan, drop some ghee in, let is soften and drop the turkey meat in. Just colour the meat and then pour the curry paste in. Add some water. Lid on ... done!

Actually, one thing I do like to drop into the cooking at this point is a good couple of tablespoon of dried methi - that's fenugreek leaves.

Let it simmer for a good hour, topping up water when necessary. The paste might look a little anaemic due to the blending, but it will colour back to a nice deep red/brown as it cooks.

This is a basic curry.

You've seen all those exotic descriptions on menus like Korma, Rogan Josh, Jalfrezi, Dopiaza and so on. This basic curry can be made into all these with the inclusion of a few ingredients at the end of the cooking.

Korma - add cream and coconut milk
Dahi - add yoghurt curd
Rogan Josh - add more tomato
Jalfrezi - add some chopped peppers (capsicum)
Dopiaza - fry off some more onion and sprinkle over when serving

You get the picture ...

Once cooked, I like to let the curry sit, cool and then fry to serve. More ghee, spoons of curry and any of these ideas above can be implemented at this point.

Actually, this curry got a few things added. I had some red and yellow pepper sitting in the fridge, so they went in, I also had a pan of poaching liquor from a large salmon joint so the carrots and onion from that went in, too. Kind of a sweet jalfrezi?

I made a lot of this, so one meal was served over white rice and the rest, I ate for breakfast with some shredded chicory. White rice? Yup! I'm happy with it. Cauliflower rice would do just as well, or some greens like tenderstem broccoli, shredded cabbage, anything, really ... curry is awesome with anything.