Cowboy Soup!

Simple concept, quick and easy, from leftovers ...

You made a great batch of Chilli Con Carne, but have some left over which isn't quite a meal, but could pad out.

Pad it out!

Add some cubes of potato or roots, some water and thicken up somehow - okra, arrowroot, egg yolk, however it is you do it.

I love cheese and am happily tolerant of dairy, so a good handful of grated cheddar went over the top, along with some chopped ripe tomatoes.

There really are no rules for this ...

Pad it out however you like and enjoy! The more daring might like to try out the notion that legumes are actually okay for ancestral eaters (biochemically speaking, of course) and chuck some beans in!

Have fun ...

Bubble & Squeak

Known by many names, from Irish Colcannon, Scots Clapshot, Dutch Stamppot to Hash in the United States, not a million miles away from Hash Browns, Bubble & Squeak is quite probably something you already know how to cook.

Simply combine some mashed potato with some cabbage, form into patties, fry off in some beef dripping and that's about it.

Make up some mashed potato by boiling a good masher, like Maris Piper, until soft, then mash butter into it, finally whipping up a little with a spatula. Get right in there and get a good arm workout!

Some shredded greens, cabbage, kale, whatever ... cool both overnight.

With the cold ingredients, fold together and fold in some chopped spring onions - this is a seasonal Bubble & Squeak with all the ingredients right in season.

If possible, chill again to harden up the patties.

Using a good slice of beef dripping softened in a skillet, gently lay the patties in to fry off. Leave them on one side for a couple of minutes and gently turn over. If need be, transfer to the oven to fully cook through, but I think you'll find this is enough.

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!

So, what to serve it with? Well, everything is better with bacon and eggs, right?

Fry some bacon, fry or poach an egg, serve together and enjoy!


Hadrian's Wall

What have the Romans done for us?

Hadrian's Wall is a curtain wall fortification built coast to coast across the English width, from Wallsend on Tyneside to the Solway Firth in Cumbria, for the purpose of keeping the Picts out of Roman Britain.

Follow the A69 today, and you'll see much of the wall. Still there, today, as imposing today as it was then.

Tonight was haggis! I adore haggis and the un-paleo fact that it has barley and oatmeal in is not even a blip on my radar! I love haggis more than I love paleo and ... it doesn't set my heartburn off, at all! One piece of wholemeal bread and I'm puking up nuclear heartburn inside of an hour ... haggis, nothing.


Haggis is a curious animal ... native to both lowland and highland Scotland, the native haggis is an elusive beast. Many claim it does not actually exist as a creature outside of folklore and reckon that it is a made-up beast, from lungs, heart and so on of lesser creatures like sheep, but some know better ... they're real and that's for sure!

I thought I'd spotted one, once even as far south as Yorkshire, but it turned out to be a simple collection of grass. Haggis are very hairy!

Yeah, you got me ... haggis isn't actually a real creature, it's offal. No! Not awful! Offal!

Sheep lungs and heart, mixed with black pepper, barley, oatmeal and spices, stuffed into a stomach and boiled. OMG! How good is this? But, is it Scots?

Actually, it's not! It's English ... and northern English, naturally:

"For hagese'.
Þe hert of schepe, þe nere þou take,
Þo bowel noght þou shalle forsake,
On þe turbilen made, and boyled wele,
Hacke alle togeder with gode persole."

Liber Cure Cocorum dating around 1430 AD in Lancashire

Pow! Owned!

Cook and Food Historian Clarissa Dickson-Wright claims that it "came to Scotland in a longship even before Scotland was a single nation." Dickson-Wright further cites etymologist Walter William Skeat as further suggestion of possible Scandinavian origins: Skeat claimed that the hag - element of the word is derived from the Old Norse haggw or the Old Icelandic hoggva (höggva in modern Icelandic), meaning "to hew" or strike with a sharp weapon, relating to the chopped-up contents of the dish.

Whatever ... it's sheep offals mixed with spices, some bulk and boiled in a stomach to protect the good meat from the water. Ancient sausage?

Blimey! I've gone on ...

Roman Britain was not quite the red vs the blues that childhood comics showed us. Roman Britain was a period of introduction ... Roman soldiers having tramped, literally, the earth came to the land that is now northern England and ventured further north into the land that is now Scotland.

They brought with them cultivation, foreign foods, whether deliberately or by accident.

This dish is a celebration of early fusion! 100 AD fusion :)

In the blue corner, we have haggis! In the red corner ... cabbage. Down the middle ... a wall! Hadrian's Wall! Aside the wall, greens ... watercress (first brought to these lands by the Romans) and wild garlic (again, first brought to these lands by the Romans ... as anti-fungal treatments between their toes ... dropped off and flourished).

Romanticism? Maybe ... but it's all true! Honest.

First, cook the haggis as per the instruction. I like real haggis, as in offals and stuff in a stomach to boil. Boil away for 45 minutes and set aside.

Soften some swede cubes (neaps) and fry them off in a little lard or dripping to colour up.

Boil some red cabbage with red wine, pickled beetroot and red onion. Boil it good! It wants to be soft and unctuous.

Put it together ...

Build a wall, and dress the wall with greens ... watercress and wild garlic. Thanks, Romans!

One side, haggis, t'other red cabbage.

... and wash down with something fusion: Caesar Augustus Lager/IPA Hybrid, brewed by Williams Brothers Brewing Company of Alloa, Scotland.

... and yes, I built a working trebuchet out of fries, alongside, ready to fire Brussels sprouts at the dirty Picts!



Prior to ancestral eating, I never ate pizza - I just didn't see the attraction.

Since coming to ancestral eating, amongst the community pizza seems to be an obsession! I'm intrigued enough to give it a go ... and did it properly ... with some proper junk food!

So, the base ... What's better than bread? Anything! Anything that is tasty, nutritional and ... well ... this is not emulation, this is supplantation!

Pop some portabello mushrooms on a grill pan open side up and wait for the juice to come up. Flip over and press down hard - this will evaporate the juice and pull all the flavour back into the mushroom. Not fully dried, still moist inside, but they will not leak brown liquid all over your plate.

Great! That's the base ...

Top with your favourites. Not being a pizza aficionado, I went with a couple of cliches: Ham & Pineapple and Pepperoni.

Ham & Pineapple - ham hock, shredded and some tinned pineapple (see, told you it was junk food) over pomodorino tomato, minced. Mozzarella on top, touch of black pepper and some truffle, which is bang in season at the moment.

Pepperoni - pepperoni slices over pomodorino tomato, minced. Mozzarella on top, touch of black pepper and some shredded wild garlic, which is just popping up wild all over the place.

Place them under the grill or broiler until the mozzarella has melted. Serve out onto a plate and drizzle some good extra virgin olive oil over.

Pick up and eat! This is small enough; mini-pizza. Or, as my delicate wife did, cut and eat like a civilised person looking in dismay at the caveman, face covered in food but with a big old smile!

Creamed Callaloo

Creamed Callaloo is a Jamaican favourite.

Callaloo, traditionally, uses amaranth leaves as the main constituent ingredient.

Amaranth is a superb source of vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, and folate, and dietary minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. Paleo superfood!

You could use spinach, kale or any combination of these deep greens as the base, but amaranth is the more authentic.

Begin by boiling the greens. I boiled in some crab juice poured off from another meal I was making - Callaloo with flavours of the sea seems to work out really well.

Once soft, chop in some other ingredients - shallot, garlic (I used wild garlic, which is seasonal), okra, Scotch Bonnet pepper, thyme and black pepper, adding a little chicken stock. Simmer for a few minutes, then blend together roughly - you still want some structure, not a purée.

The aim is to get enough liquid evaporated off so that this is not technically soup, yet not too much that it turns dry. Okra helps hold a thickened soup balance here.

Once achieved, pour in some cream. Traditionally, coconut milk would be used and should - I was out of coconut milk, but did have some cream. Lacto-paleos, feel free to try either; more purist paleos, carry on with coconut milk.

Meanwhile slice some scallops and flash fry in a little butter and fold into the soup.

Finally, garnish.

I had some chopped egg white and some shaved truffle, which is very seasonal at the moment. Garnish with whatever you have to hand - simple fresh herbs would do just fine.

You get a warming glow from the Scotch Bonnet, but the fattiness of the cream offsets it just enough that you can taste all these fine flavours.


Grilled Plaice & Springtime Greens

Simple paleo fair is a joy! Simple fish, greens and seasonal garnish.

Wilt some seasonal greens in a steamer - spring greens, kale and leek.

Place some fish, plaice ... under the grill or broiler for a few minutes with a little butter melting over and lay on top of the steamed greens.

Garnish with fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. For a seasonal flavour, add in some chopped wild garlic and for a real treat, grated black truffle which is also right in season at the moment.

Spring greens and kale are very strong in vitamins A, C & E, and have a substantial mineral content including manganese, iron, calcium and potassium. Likewise, leeks are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as iron and fibre.


Spring Frittata

Joy! Spring has sprung!

Not especially full of spring ingredients, but the green vibrancy of our quick breakfast put me in mind of the season and the new life to come.

Frittata is derived from the Italian, "to fry". An egg dish enriched with vegetables and cheese, not dissimilar to a crustless flan. For paleo, the perfect alternative to flan, quiche or even pizza!

Pre-cook some shredded bacon in a frying pan and soften some mushrooms in the remaining fat.

Chop up a couple of chillies, shred some spring onions and grated some cheddar in readiness. Finally, chop up a very generous portion of parsley to garnish.

The trick with frittata is to make an omelette and catch it just in time before it fully cooks through, at which point drop in your filling and top with cheese - these ingredients will meld into the base.

I went with four eggs in an 8" pan for a thinner base. Whisk the eggs with a fork first and pour into a warm frying pan - warm, not too hot. Gently swirl the eggs around until they are mostly cooked through and then drop in the bacon, mushrooms and chillies. Top with cheese and settle it under the grill/broiler for a couple of minutes.

Garnish with lots of parsley and freshly ground black pepper.


Thai Green Mussels

It is said that you should try something new ...

I googled for a suitable quote, but after reading several hundred witticisms, I decided it was probably more a pretentious way of opening than clever.

Besides, "a witty saying proves nothing" - Voltaire.

While we're talking about quoting other people, this dish was lifted lock, stock and wholesale from my paleo pals over at Modern Paleo Warfare whose recent article, 'Smell My Fingers' detailed this very dish.

Googling, it seems a fairly straight down the line Thai dish and so knowing nothing about Thai food whatsoever, it's time to dive straight in and see what all the fuss is about ...

First, the mussels.

Mussels are a good source of metabolism and immune system stimulating selenium, vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid, iron, calcium and omega-3.

Archaeological evidence is finding this food to have been consumed by humans for more than 20,000 years, which is actually relatively new in paleo timescales, but still something we have eaten for a good, long time, and although much of what is sold is farmed mussels, they're still about as good as they are in the wild.

Buy some good mussels, as fresh as you can get so that there are few wasted. I adore mussels and eat them often. I have bought mussels where I have thrown away literally half due to them being unsuitable for eating, leaving a meagre dish, but tonight was quite the opposite - I found 3 ... out of (guessing) 60 which were unsuitable!

Tip out the mussels into a container and inspect each one - if they're cracked, discard them; open and do not close up after tapping, discard them. Pull the beards off - this is the hairy bit that sticks out.

Rinse the mussels well under clean water to ensure the shells are cleaned - the steaming sauce is as much a part of the dish as the mussels themselves. The keen eared among you will hear the mussels moving about; there will be a gentle creaking, crackling sound. These are the mussels you want to eat! The live ones.

Next, make up a paste.

Having never made Thai green paste, I looked it up and had most of the ingredients, perhaps with the exception of fish sauce, which I think is sour and pungent, so left it out - there were plenty of aromatic, sharp, pungent ingredients anyway.

I had some greens from spring onions, chillies, ginger, wild garlic, garlic cloves, lime, shallot, basil and coriander. Blending the lot together with a little coconut milk and a sprinkle of cumin and white pepper, I had my paste.

To work ...

In a lidded sauté pan melt some coconut oil, soften some shredded leek and pour in some coconut milk - I used the remainder of the can, so about 400ml. Bring to the boil.

Toss in the mussels and put the lid on.

After a few minutes, more than 3 or 4, much less than 10, the mussels will be cooked. They will be open. As soon as they've all had a chance to open, remove the lid, enjoying that heady steam and pour out into a bowl.

I had so many of these damn things that I had to make two sittings. Seriously, I must have had 60 mussels? It's not greedy, it's gorging when times are good and food is plentiful ... ready for the fast. Part of my thrust towards seasonal eating will mean that out of season, I will not be seeing such foods so enjoying even a surplus at the time is perfectly good!

Pause for breath ... slug down the sauce ... burp!

To be absolutely frank, I didn't enjoy them like this.

I did taste the green paste on its own and really enjoyed that. Coconut milk is not something I particularly go out of my way partake of, but wouldn't say I don't like it. Together, yes, they worked ... well, of course they do: Thai food is very popular and this simple combination of flavours is well renowned.

It's just not for me ...

Back to shallots, garlic, chervil, cream and Normandy cider next time.

Fun, nevertheless!


Spring Lamb Salad

New Season Lamb is a joy!

You know spring has well and truly sprung when spring lamb hits the Butchers'.

Such a treat should be accompanied by a celebration of spring tastes - rocket, spring onion, artichoke hearts, fennel, chicory; and all manner of good things that go with lamb, offsetting any heaviness in the meat and fat - feta, horseradish, beetroot.

First, the lamb ...

Cook, according to the instructions - I got some little steaks which needed little more than a flash in a grill pan.

Meanwhile, build up the dish ...

Take a handful of rocket and layer up with shaved fennel, shredded spring onions, some sliced chicory and some slices of pickled  beetroot. Place a few artichoke hearts in the middle, for the sake of simplicity having bought prepared ones in cans ... or prepare them yourself.

Make up a horseradish cream with minced horseradish, a touch of lemon juice, yoghurt and some freshly chopped mint, lathered over the artichokes and salad.

Lay the lamb pieces over the artichokes.

Garnish the salad with cubes of feta, pecans, slivers of pickled garlic, a good grind of black pepper and a general swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

Spring on a plate!



Cioppino? There are so many Italian inspired fish stews and so many names for them, but this Americo-Italian dish originating from San Francisco seemed to fit the best.

Fish and shellfish cooked in red wine with herbs and served out with soft bread - sourdough, or baguette.

According to Wikipedia: " The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect of the port city of Genoa, meaning "to chop" or "chopped" which described the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day's catch."

My Cioppino (Mio Cioppino?) was certainly a dish of all manner of leftover trimmings from fish that I've been storing up in the freezer, coupled with a shellfish medley including crayfish ... something American in the stew, hence the name.

American breed crayfish have managed to somehow get over here to Britain and are multiplying exponentially, clogging up waterways and pushing the native breed to extinction! It's out loyal duty to eat as many of these critters as we can ... mutter ... grumble ... little beggars ... coming over here, clogging up our waterways ...

I digress ...

So, to recap, I have some fish: cod, salmon & tuna, some shellfish: squid, prawn, crayfish & mussels, some chopped tomatoes, puree, a shallot and a glut of mushrooms.

To work ..

First, finely chop a load of mushrooms - I love mushrooms! Italian dishes are generally bulked out with pasta, but for paleo eaters, you know what is better than pasta? Anything! Anything that tastes of something and actually carries some goodness: mushrooms work out perfectly.

In a heavy based pan, get the mushrooms soaking up some fat. I fried off some streaky bacon and a good helping of pork fat collected from sausages - lard, essentially.

Toss in a good handful of chopped shallots and gently fry in the remaining fats.

Drop in the fish pieces and sauté through so that they are coloured and starting to take on some flavour.

Pour in a carton of chopped tomatoes, a generous couple of tablespoons of tomato purée which will assist with the thickening and a little anchovy paste for that mysterious underlying flavour that just seems to make a dish like this taste boosted.

Water (or red wine, if you like), and drop in the shellfish. If the shellfish are fresh, just cook these through at the end and stir in; mine were from a box of frozen shellfish.

Add in some chilli, black pepper, bay leaf and perhaps a little sea salt, although the anchovy should be enough for paleo tastes. You can add more herbs if you like, but I wanted to keep it simple and make a show of a special ingredient I had just collected from the nearby woods.

Tell me more ...

Wild garlic! Spring has sprung! Wild garlic emerges in woodland and sheltered areas, and for a couple of months you can pick this natural bounty, shredding a few leaves and folding into dishes for a heady garlic aroma. Make the most of it - it is a short season.

There are a number of species of wild garlic: Allium Tricoccum, or Ramp, in North America and Allium Ursinum, or Ramsons, across Europe and Asia are a couple of the more prolific species.

Do be aware, that in certain areas of the world, wild garlic is endangered! Allium Tricoccum is a protected species under Quebec legislation and are considered a species of "special concern" for conservation in Maine, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

I collected a good handful of Allium Ursinum, a name related to bears (ursus) who, apparently, go wild for this stuff! I take care to pluck the leaves, leaving the presently young bulb underground. Once they have matured a little, I'll pull up some bulbs.

When the stew was ready to serve, a few leaves rolled and shredded, along with a similar sized helping of basil leaves were stirred into the dish and served out into bowls. Drizzle a generous helping of good extra virgin olive oil over.

Accompaniment? It's a wet dish and, traditionally, a bread would be served alongside to mop up the juices. I went with tradition and served up some azedo polvilho puffs.



Duck & Pomegranate Salad

Pomegranate, swede, rocket, chicory, fennel and spring onions - all right in season and all gorgeous!

Settling duck breast on top and a compote of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb ... heaven!

With just 12 growers in a small triangle of just 9 square miles between Bradford, Leeds & Wakefield in West Yorkshire, a county in northern England, this is the Rhubarb Triangle.

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb truly is the Champagne of rhubarb.

First, though ... the duck.

Take a duck breast per person and score the skin across the breast many times. While cooking, this will allow the fat to run out leaving a crispy, sumptuous skin, but also prevents the meat from curling up.

Heat up a heavy based pan and place the breasts skin side down onto the hot metal. Leave it to sit there, even pressing down to render the juicy fat out.

After a short while, the red side of the breast should start to colour up. Maybe 10 minutes, or so? At this point, flip the breasts over and cook on the flesh side for a few more minutes, before removing the breasts into some kitchen foil to rest.

While this is going on, build your salad.

Take a handful of rocket and layer up with fennel shavings, sliced chicory, shredded spring onions, pickled garlic, maybe pickled chilli and pomegranate seeds. Wet it up with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Also, have some cubes of swede boiling away to soften.

Once soft enough, but not bereft of structure, drain off the swede cubes and toss them in the rendered duck fat. I added in a dusting of cinnamon and cayenne pepper just to build up a gentle warmth in the swede without overpowering the duck.

Place as a mound in the middle of the salad.

With the duck rested, slice on an angle and lay over the swede, topping with some rhubarb compote.

Perfect example of seasonal March Madness!


Cheese Puffs (Revisited)

Inspired by Paul Jaminet's post on Brazilian Cheese Puffs (also known as Pão de Queijo) I made some up: Cheese Puffs and they were great, although perhaps a little heavy?

After some tweaking and experimentation, I think I have come up with a method which is very simple, quick to undertake and delivers a more pleasing result - this may well be the exact texture that is achieved with Paul's method, but not having any cultural reference for this bread I'm guessing.

Perhaps the key difference between my first attempt and this very successful recipe is the starch itself - I have tracked down a source of Yoki brand and use their Polvilho Azedo, or sour starch.

While I am happy with many dairy products, especially fermented dairy and the fattier products, milk is not something I routinely ingest, nor would I suggest it to others - this is the one area of dairy that remains contentious, even for a paleo plusser like myself.

Previously, I have used soured cream, buttermilk and other fermented dairy, but this time it was milk. If you can get raw milk, great! The combination of milk and butter makes the soft centres much akin to croissant, in terms of flavour.

This is practically baking, so recipes do matter ... well, the ratio does, anyway.


2 measures of Polvilho Azedo and Cheese (as 3:1)
1 measure of Milk and Butter (as 2:1)

You also need an egg and some baking powder.

So, using a cup, take one and half cups of flour, half a cup of grated cheese, two thirds of a cup of milk and one third of a cup of butter. Makes 12.

Got it?

Warm the milk, or buttermilk, or coconut milk, or water, or whatever liquid it is that you want to use, melting in the requisite amount of butter, coconut oil, lard, dripping, olive oil, or whatever fat it is you want to use. Butter is good!

Pour that over the measured amounts of flour and grated cheese - again, cheese can be Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Manchego, whatever you fancy. I find sheep cheeses work out best for flavour and passing through a fine grater for texture.

Entirely different flavours can be made up by varying the ingredients, but the key thing is to keep to the ratio: 2 measures of solids to 1 measure of liquid.

Crack in an egg and sprinkle in some baking powder - half a teaspoon, or so, per cup of flour.

Mix together to form a wet batter.

It is not imperative, but letting the batter stand for an hour seems to really improve the overall texture.

Pour out into greased cupcake moulds and place in a pre-heated over set to 200C for about 15 minutes, during which time, they will rise and crisp up.

Removed on the scant side, the balls will drop but will be more chewy and something like mini-Yorkshire Puddings. Less baking powder and they won't rise so much. Left until fully crisp, the centres will be soft and fluffy and the balls retain that inflated shape. Less batter per mould will rise better.

You'll get to find exactly how you like them, but there's a couple of tips to get started with ...


Scallop & Chorizo

"I've deleted references to legumes other than avoiding soy and peanuts, as other legumes seem more and more benign to me." Dr Kurt Harris - Archevore

The Paleo Diet (that's capitalised) considered all legumes to be off the table - anti-nutrients and the organism's defence mechanism make them potentially bad for human consumption.

Not all legumes are the same!

Mark Sissons gives us the lowdown on legumes from a primal perspective and comes to a similar conclusion to  Kurt Harris - they're okay, not ideal, but not bad.

Soaked, pressure-cooked and re-cooked, they're fine.

Let's give 'em a try ...

This dish is an onion, garlic, chilli, tomato and chorizo base with cannellini beans and scallops flashed in butter over cauliflower rice.

Let's get cooking ...

Begin with some good fat to soften some roughly chopped onions - I used pork fat collected from cooking.

Toss in peeled and sliced chorizo and allow the paprika to just colour the onions. Peeled? Yeah, the skin that chorizo comes in can be peeled off.

Add a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a carton of chopped tomatoes poured over along with a good half pint of water and the canned or pre-soaked cannellini beans.

Bring the pan to the boil and cook through on a good boil for maybe half an hour?

Add more water and toss in some green beans, reducing the water while you prepare the rest of the dish.

For cauliflower rice, don't bother with all that grating or food processing - it's much nicer just trimmed from the stalks and steamed so that it is just cooked but has not lost all its texture. Turn out into a bowl and break down with a fork into rice.

Boil an egg, too ... half a boiled egg over the top is perfect!

When you are just ready to serve, soften some butter in a frying pan or skillet and toss in some scallops. Cook enough just to colour - scallops are best soft and juicy with as little cooking as possible; over-cooked and they're like rubber!

Fold the scallops into the the rest of the dish, serving out over the cauliflower rice and garnish with shredded spring onions, half a boiled egg and some parsley.



Beef, Spinach & Egg Broth

Leftovers are great!

All manner of fun, fast combinations can be made from leftovers and this was one such dish.

With some beef left over from the previous Sunday and some poaching liquor reserved from the previous day's salmon, I set about putting together a quick, nutritious broth.

Use whatever broth you have to hand - bone broth would be excellent, poaching liquor, or just make up a stock on the fly.

Finely slice some pieces of meat and drop these in - for me, it was beef ... which worked curiously well in the fish stock!

Add some bulk to the broth with seaweed, spinach, shredded greens, kale, something green anyway. I love the combination of beef and spinach, and spinach is right in season at the moment, so spinach it was.

Flavour up with finely sliced chilli and fresh ginger chopped into thin sticks.

Make up a Japanese omelette.

One egg, touch of water, whisked thoroughly and poured out into a frying pan to make a thin, almost crêpe-like omelette. Set aside.

Once the meat has softened, greens wilted and flavours combined, serve out into a bowl.

Roll up the omelette and slice up, dropping the little rolls into the broth.


Warm Salmon & Squid Salad

Eaten warm as prepared or chilled for lunch the following day, this is a fast and easy salad to put together.

Simply put, it's whatever seafood you can find over whatever greens you can find, accompanied by whatever ... erm ... accompaniments you can find.

It's not complicated - follow your nose and simply put good food together.

Here's a few tips about maximising flavours ...

I began by slow poaching some salmon - a kind of ghetto sous-vide method whereby I have my fishmonger seal individual fillets of salmon. Once home, I boil some water, pour into a large pan and drop the vacuum packed fillet in, setting the heat as low as I can. Leave it at least an hour.

All the full flavour of the fish will remain with the fish, none leached out into the water.

Prepare whatever other seafood you have. I had some baby squids, so sliced them up and set them aside for cooking.

For a warm salad, I shredded some spring greens which are smack bang in season at the moment and once lightly steamed, just set aside.

To the overture ...

Warm some beef dripping in a frying pan. Squid seems to work well with beef dripping, so chuck in the tentacles to puff out, then the white calamari. Cook quickly and don't concern yourself too much about the liquid that is released - remove the squid pieces, as we don't want to broil them.

Chuck in a little more beef dripping and toss in the spring greens. The object here is to get this gorgeous vegetable covered in good fats and flavours from the squid. At this point, open the salmon pack and pour in the juices.

Keep tossing the spring greens until they are well dried and pack full of good flavours.

Serve out the greens into a wide-brimmed bowl, flake the fish over, toss over the squid and then load up with whatever accompaniments you have for fun flavours!

I went with hot peppers, olives, capers, pickled chillies, pickled garlic, spring onions, a good splash of olive oil and some Gevrik, a Cornish goat cheese. Top with an egg. Everything is made perfect with an egg. For a real boost, sprinkle over some shredded fried bacon or thin slices of chorizo, fried off.

Poached Salmon & Coriander Sauce

Whenever you have a surplus of something fresh that is going to be well past its best before you can use it all, best make up a soup or a sauce.

With a huge bunch of coriander, just wilt it in some fish stock, whizz it up with a hand blender and pour in some cream. Reduce gently.

Coriander is a wonderful healing herb, whose health benefits are numerous.

Meanwhile, poach a fillet of salmon and prepare some vegetables alongside - we had sauté potatoes and some asparagus.

The fish was garnished with some garlic cress.


Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb

Bang in season and an absolute must eat!

With just 12 growers in a small triangle of just 9 square miles between Bradford, Leeds & Wakefield in West Yorkshire, a county in northern England, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb truly is the Champagne of rhubarb. This is the Rhubarb Triangle.

Brought to Europe by Marco Polo, rhubarb is a curious vegetable. With poisonous leaves, but a beautiful pink stalk, or stick, which has a tart, but appealing flavour, crunchy when raw, soft and sticky when cooked.

Forced rhubarb is a practice of forcing the growth by growing the rhubarb indoors, in darkness in the warmth. The rhubarb is cultivated for a couple of years outside, then moved into large sheds where the darkness prevents the development of woody stalks. Soft, vibrant thin sticks are then harvested by candlelight. You just can't make something like this up!

In 2010, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb was awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the European Commission’s Protected Food Name scheme.

How to prepare these delicious stalks ...

Chop off the ends, paying attention to the top of the stick where the leaves grow off - trim back to where the vibrant pink colour starts.

You could simply eat the stick as is, perhaps dipped in a little honey - this was a traditional post-World War II sweet for poorer families.

There is an important note here about honey. Is it primal? Would something like agave nectar be better?

Well, I'll link to a few resources and you can make your own mind up:

... and so:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-honey-a-safer-sweetener/ ... I tend to think so.

You could chop down into short stalks and arrange in a box of puff pastry ... but that's not paleo. What is, is to simply chop the sticks right down and gently cook down.

Chop, put into a pan and set the heat on low; as low as you can. The rhubarb will now sweat in the heat, releasing its own juices and softening the fibrous stalk.

Rhubarb is very tart, but forced rhubarb has a much sweeter taste - it can still do with a little help, so given that these sticks came from within a 10 mile radius of my house, it seemed right to pair it with a little local honey from a farm just over the hill behind us. I used a mere half teaspoon, which is perfectly adequate - that tartness is part of the appeal.

After an hour, or so, or low temperature cooking you will have a vibrant, soft, inviting pink mess.

What now?

Rhubarb is a vegetable, so feel free to serve it with savoury dishes. Use as condiment alongside oily fish, like mackerel, bold flavoured fish like bass or tilapia, or heavy, fatty meat like lamb.

Perfect offset against the fattiness.

Rhubarb also works out well as a dessert. Served simply, with yoghurt, done posh in a wine glass with layers of yoghurt and cream or put under a crumble topping, the options are endless.

Perfect soft tartness against the crunchy nut topping or cool yoghurt.

Me? I served a helping alongside a simple Panna Cotta.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Chicken and a Mushroom, Dolcelatte & Cream Sauce

The purple sprouting season has just started ... it is short lived, so get it while you can!

Cultivated by the Romans, purple sprouting broccoli has only recently risen to prominence. Especially good when young and tender, purple sprouting broccoli should have a strong colour in the head and stalks should cleanly snap when broken.

One classic combination with to steam and serve with anchovies. I like a different kind of strong pungency to offset the strong flavour of the broccoli - Dolcelatte.

Dolcelatte is a blue veined, creamy Italian cheese from cow milk created really for the British market as a less pungent Gorgonzola. Fat content is higher in Dolcelatte, something like 50%!

To make the sauce, simply place some Dolcelatte into a saucepan with a little cream and on a very low heat let it melt - that's it. Thinly slice mushrooms and soften in butter, adding to the sauce.

Over a grill or in a griddle pan, sear pieces of chicken breast.

Steam the broccoli for a few minutes, having split any thick stalks down the middle with a knife. Take off the steam, remove the lid and allow the bulk of the steam to escape before settling onto a couple of pieces of kitchen paper to fully drain off - watery cream sauce is not nice!

Serve out the broccoli, laying the chicken pieces over and covering with the sauce.

Pear & Cheese Salad

I rarely do, but sometimes I get a sweet tooth.

I was never really one for desserts, favouring simple panna cotta, cheesecake or gourmet ice cream, nor fruit, favouring tart berries or rhubarb, but sometimes that desire for something sweet needs to be satisfied and for me, it's pears.

Simply eaten as is, raw and enjoyed, that'll do for me, but pears are equally delicious in a salad, partnered with nuts and cheese, be it a cream Dolcelatte or a soft, sour goat cheese.

I went for the latter ...

Cut a pear into slices and nip out the core. Place into a frying pan with plenty of butter, adding in just a little hint of further sweetness from local honey or agave syrup.

I went with some agave syrup, which I've never had before and upon finding some on the supermarket shelves, could not resist. Produced in Mexico and 100% organic, it was a real gem to find in a UK supermarket. Apparently, it's a low GI sweetener and from what I know about the production, or rather extraction, very much like maple syrup - simply collected from the core of the plant.

It's very sweet; in fact, I read something like one and a half times sweeter than sugar, so go careful here. Literally, just a drop to infuse into the butter.

In hindsight, I may have dropped the ball here ...

There is an important note here about our primal sweeteners and I'll link to a few resources and you can make your own mind up:

... and so:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-honey-a-safer-sweetener/ ... I tend to think so now.

Leave it out, if you wish, add it in if you do. It makes no odds to the dish.

Meanwhile, I dressed a plate ...

Over leaves of spinach, the now warmed pear slices were layered over, sprigs of Lamb's Lettuce dotted around, pomodorino tomatoes, quartered, pecan nuts and two types of goat cheese: Boilie from Ireland and Gevrik from Cornwall.

The buttery juice was then poured over, a grind of black pepper and we're ready to eat.




Keema Mutter

Mutter? Mattar? Matar?

Depending upon the region of the Indian sub-continent, but we know them as peas, garden peas or petit pois.

Keema? That's minced meat - usually lamb, but in this case beef. Use of beef in India is rare - predominant religious beliefs eschew eating meat, and where permitted, cows are seen as sacred.

Further north, into Jammu Kashmir and Pakistan, beef is eaten. Cows, however, offer so much more than mere meat; dairy, and pulling ploughs are seen as more important than the meat itself - you don't eat your tractor! When available, beef is on the menu.

Curry is not difficult!

I cannot stress that enough. So many people see curry as exotic, difficult to replicate that restaurant taste, too complicated through use of a bewildering array of spices or simply through a lack of understanding of language.

Again, curry is not difficult and this Kashmiri favourite is one I have enjoyed practically my whole life after first enjoying a bowl from The Kashmir, Bradford's oldest and longest established Curry House, at the age of 5?

Let's get currying ...

The quantities listed will do for two people, or one hungry Yorkshireman!

First, onion. Onions are the foundation of any curry and it is the preparation of the onion that is especially important. We want softened, caramelised onions. Pop a generous helping of ghee into a skillet and toss in a shredded onion.

Spicing is important, and I like to put the spices into the onion to develop the base of the curry paste. I simply go with ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric (or haldi), white pepper and celery salt. How much? Generous tablespoons of cumin and coriander, scant tablespoon of turmeric, teaspoon of celery salt and sprinkle of white pepper.

Other spices can be added here, later or right at the end. Different spice blends produce different curries - we'll keep it simple.

Drop the heat and allow the onions to gently soften and caramelise in the ghee for maybe half an hour. This will be the foundation of the curry paste.

Meanwhile, in another skillet, brown off a pound of minced meat. Lamb is ideal, beef if you like it (as I'm doing here), other ruminants will do as well - even moose, elk, turkey, whatever you want to use. Brown off the meat and allow it to gently simmer in the residual heat of the pan while the onions are still softening and caramelising.

Curry uses much less tomato than you think. Too often people simply chuck a can of peeled plum tomatoes in without thinking and wonder why it never tastes like it does in restaurants. Use little or no tomato. Rogan Josh, on the the other hand, does use tomato - this is the key ingredient in the flavour of the Rogan Josh dish.

Here, I'm going to use one plum tomato, which can easily be peeled by drawing a cross into the bottom of the tomato and immersing it in boiling water for a few minutes.

That one tomato is then lightly chopped and placed into a blending receptacle along with some ginger, three or four cloves of garlic, a couple of chopped green chillies, more if you like it hot: Garam! Garam! and the now softened onion mixture.

Stick blend the lot together - this is your curry paste.

Add the curry paste to the minced meat and finely chopped coriander stalk, reserving the leaves for stirring in at the last minute.

I also added in some dried fenugreek (or methi) because I love the aroma and flavour. Methi is a favourite in the northern regions of India, the Punjab, and in Pakistan.

Add some water - a pint? Stir in a cup of peas (frozen are fine) and raise the heat and then on a good simmer, allow the curry to cook for a good hour, two is better.

I always find allowing the curry to fully cool after this makes for a better experience later. Made the night before or earlier in the day, the curry can sit and develop, ready for re-heating in the evening.

When ready to eat, prepare some white rice, cauliflower rice, whatever it is you want to accompany your curry, bring back up to temperature and cook out all the water. Just prior to serving, roughly chop some coriander leaves and fold into the dish.

Serve out into a nice wide-brimmed bowl, dropping a cube of butter in the middle to melt into the dish giving it a rich, rounded flavour.



Minted Lamb Cutlets with a Spring Celebration!

Spring is here!

I don't have much evidence of it, as yet, by the weather or even the plants on the ground, but it's worth remembering that those of us who live at some altitude often see the seasons a few weeks later.

Our farm shops are, however, filling up with spring seasonal produce ... and what better to celebrate the start of a new growing year with some lamb and green vegetables?

To the kitchen! Via the farm shop!

Back home ...

Buy a rack of lamb and chop through each rib in turn to make the cutlets. Cutlets have a small pack of meat, but what a fantastic little piece of meat!

Also buy some seasonal green things - peas, green beans, stringless beans, leeks, baby courgette and mint. I also grabbed some lamb's lettuce (which sounded about right to go with lamb) and some Gevrik, which is a Cornish goat cheese. Goat cheese is flavour of the month in March, for some reason.

The final thing a dish like this needs is a jus.

Balsamic vinegar works really well with lamb and to be absolutely frank, I couldn't care less whether it is paleo or not. It's fermented, it's vinegar; that has both positive and negative connotations in the paleosphere ... I don't care. That's not sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting, "lalalalalala" when good paleo advice is being spoken, that's me just saying that some things might be beyond paleo.

The jus - take some good balsamic vinegar. You'll know it's good by how much you paid for it ... I paid almost £15 for 500ml bottle, making it about as expensive as whisky! I eat it so rarely, and when I do, it's drops, but this is a celebration - I used about 60ml of balsamic.

In a pan, reduce ... when sticky, whisk in some good butter. I used proper Yorkshire butter from "cows which live outside and eat grass". You do this bit last, but I got carried away ...

Steam the green beans, stringless beans and peas.

Bring a griddle pan to a good heat and cook the cutlets a mere minute, or two, on each side. Set aside to rest. Place the babe courgettes on the griddle sliced on the angle.

The remainder comes together quickly ...

In a frying pan, warm a little olive oil, adding in some leek shredded across the angle, the pre-steamed green things, tossing in the courgettes once they've had a minute, or so, to char on the griddle.

On a clean white plate, pour out the jus in a circle. Place a mound of green vegetables in the middle, sprinkle some chopped mint over and lay the cutlets against the mound.

Garnish with lamb's lettuce and slices of Gevrik.

Carrot & Coriander Soup

What do you do with a glut of carrots?

You could grate them into salads, juliennes, ribbons, make a rösti, simply boil, cut into sticks ... but if you need to get rid of a lot of carrots which are just starting to turn ... it's soup for the win!

Carrot with coriander is a classic combination, and one which can be lightly spiced for a really delicate flavour.

To work ...

Peel and slice a few carrots - a couple of large ones each, or three smaller ones will do fine portion-wise. I also sliced up some daikon since I had some that needed using up.

Chop an onion and mince a couple of cloves of garlic, toss into the pan and sauté in butter. Add in a good tablespoon of ground coriander and a teaspoon of turmeric to deepen the colour. Add some chilli powder at this point for a little tickle in the end dish.

Pour in a couple of pints of good chicken stock, toss in the carrots, the daikon and then boil until the vegetables are soft, adding in more water if the level drops significantly.

Once the vegetables are soft, hand blend thoroughly.

Adjust the texture by reducing or adding in more water for a good consistency just right between not too thick, not too runny. Too thick and the soup will be erupting and spitting. Too thin and the solids will not hold right in suspension.

Serve out into a wide-brimmed bowl.

I also finely sliced some bacon, spring onions (which are right in season at the moment) and garnished with some micro-garlic cress.


Warm Celeriac & Cabbage Remoulade

Remoulade: a simple condiment of mayonnaise and tangy flavours.

The recipe is wide-open. Simply take some mayonnaise, some herbs and add in whatever flavours you like - capers, cornichons, onion, garlic, mustard, curry powder, whatever will work well with the dish.

We were having pork chops, so lemon juice and mustard formed the key flavours. The remoulade would be folded into celeriac, which is right in season at the moment, and some white cabbage.

Let's put it together ...

Half a white cabbage shredded and half a celeriac, peeled, fine sliced and chopped into matchsticks was more than sufficient for two. Good for leftovers, and a combination that works perfectly well cold.

Boil the vegetables just enough to soften, but not lose too much texture or flavour - both cabbage and celeriac are fine raw and very nice par-boiled.

Using a couple of large tablespoons of mayonnaise, the juice of half a lemon, a good teaspoon of English mustard and a handful of chopped parsley, the ingredients were combined and then folded into celeriac and cabbage.

Serve out onto a plate and accompany with a piece of meat. In our case, a pork chop with creamy mushroom sauce.

DIY Hollandaise

Hollandaise: the emulsification of egg yolk, butter and lemon juice.

Fun to make up yourself at the table ... well, kind of.

Soft boil an egg, steaming some asparagus spears over the water, lop the top off the egg, drop some salt, cube of butter and a few drops of lemon juice into the runny yolk.

Go wild ...


Lancashire Hot Pot

Northern British from our sheep fancying cousins over them hills in Lancashire!

Originating in the days of heavy industrialisation in Lancashire mill towns, this is a simple dish to create - minimal preparation and a simple ingredient set.

Let's take an initial lesson from how Michelin starred Lancashire Chef Nigel Haworth might make the perfect Lancashire Hot Pot.

My only deviations are to use arrowroot in place of the flour, anchovy paste instead of Worcestershire Sauce and to include lamb's kidneys. Why? Because Yorkshire Chef James Martin gives us Yorkshire folk a way of bettering this dish. And, because they're just too damn good to leave out; thrifty, for us Northerners!

Let's get into the kitchen ...

First things, first. Shred an onion and get it in a good amount of butter softening and caramelising.

Take some lamb neck fillets and trim off any excess fat. Neck is a fatty cut with good marbling in the meat which melts out in the cooking to give the dish a really round, buttery flavour.

Cut the fillets into slices about 3-4cm on the slant and brown off in a dry frying pan - there's no need to add more fat to this meat, it is fatty enough and there'll be the butter in the onions.

Slice the kidneys, remove the central fatty core and sauté in just a little butter.

Arrange the meat around the base of an ovenproof dish and pour the kidneys over.

Add in some flavours and aromats: anchovy paste, white pepper, celery salt, bay leaves and some thyme.

Garlic? Red Wine? Bouquet Garni? Nah, this ain't no French dish! This is a Northern British dish and we don't go in for flounce!

Once the onions are caramelised, sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of arrowroot over the onions to soak up all the fat and dry out the onions. Toss the onions over the meat.

Pour over some good lamb or chicken stock just to cover.

Peel and slice some white potatoes into slices 2-3mm thick, arranging over the meat and onions, then press down gently to allow some stock to cover over - this will help with the colouring.

Place into a pre-heated oven set to 150C for a couple of hours. Timing is not especially important, but a couple of hours is good; longer, just turn the heat down to 125C. Remove the lid about an hour before you want to eat and allow the juices to concentrate.

Maybe half an hour before you are ready to eat, drop some knobs of butter over the potato crown which will crispen and colour up.

Serve out into a wide bowl, accompanied traditionally by red cabbage.

To prepare the red cabbage, that hour before you want to eat, shred, add in a couple of teaspoons of cider vinegar, water and boil for 15 minutes and then simmer for the remainder of the time with some pickled beetroot. Return to the boil before serving to evaporate off all the water.

Simple, tasty and a perfect dish to say farewell to winter. Ironically, it snowed today.