Pan Fried Sea Bass with Spinach & Aubergine Pesto and Steamed Vegetables

Simple to put together and bursting with flavour ... it's fish, pesto and vegetables.

First, the fish ...

Scale the fish under running water, gut it, clean out the cavity and then take off the fillets by running a sharp flexible knife down the backbone and progressively slicing the fillet from the ribcage.

Clean up the fillet, pat dry and then no the skin side, pinch the fillet and slash through with a knife - this will prevent the fish from curling up when you dry it. Set aside.

Next, the pesto ...

It's aubergine, spinach and nuts. Peel an aubergine, cube and get it softening in a skillet with some butter. Once softened, place into a receptacle along with a generous handful of spinach, some nuts (pine nuts, in my case), a little white pepper and then blend together with a hand blender.

Ready to cook?

Shred some white cabbage and get it boiling or steaming. Once this is well underway, cut up a courgette into decent sized chunks and get it steaming.

Warm a large skillet up with a little butter, lay the sea bass fillets in skin side down.

Leave it!

Leave the fish where it is for two or three minutes. If the fish will not come away from the pan easily, leave it a little longer. Once cooked on the skin side, flip over and turn off the heat. The fish will now cook in the residual heat.

Ready to eat?

Drain the cabbage and scatter a good helping over the plate.

Sprinkle some mixed seeds over - this works well with cabbage. Some fennel seeds are also nice, perfuming the dish.

Lay your fish over with a quenelle of the pesto over the top and crown with a scattering of courgette.


Scallops Parisienne

Warning! Posh food! Dinner party starter?

Also known as Coquilles St Jacques Parisienne, Scallops Parisienne is my dumbed down version, simplified and streamlined; a paleo+ treat!

Coquilles St Jacques Parisienne requires Duchess Potatoes, which is mashed potato with egg yolks, re-baked. Simplified, we're just going to use mashed white potato, although this would work perfectly well with sweet potato, if that's your fancy.

First boil and mash some potato.

Next, scrape your scallops out of their shells, clean and fry off in a little butter just to colour up - two per person.

Drop in a large mushroom per person, quartered, to soak up the remaining butter.

Lower the heat a little and pour over a little cream, some white pepper and a little sea salt. If you have white wine, a splash of that would be nice.

While the cream is reducing, clean up sufficient scallop shells.

Once the cream has reduced, add in some herbs - I went with dill, but parsley would also be a great choice.

Serve out two scallops and four mushroom quarters per person into the scallop shells.

Here's the French bit ...

Soften up the mashed potato with a little butter, fold in thoroughly and transfer to a piping bag. Pipe all around the scallop shell. No piping bag? Any bag with a corner cut off will do.

Present at the table with some panache to be met with a chorus of gasps and goshes.

If you wanted to do the Duchess Potatoes thing, just stir a couple of egg yolks into the potato, pipe out and then transfer the scallops to the oven to bake through for 10 minutes, or so.

No shells? Just pipe a nice shape around the scallops on a plate.

Have fun ...


Hake Steak with Spicy Red Peppers

Blimey! Hake are ugly fish! Think Monkfish kind of ugly but slimmer.

First, gut the fish, then scale it by gently drawing a small knife up and down the skin under running water.

Next, you need a chopping board, a rolling pin and a large knife. Don't use your fine Japanese knives here - a cleaver is more useful. Chop the head off and reserve for stock if you think you can stand the sight of that thing bobbing about in your stock pot. The rolling pin? It's for knocking the knife through the backbone.

Phew! Headless Hake!

Now, we can take our steaks off. Slice about an inch and a half along the back of the fish and knock the blade through. Repeat, again and yet again. You should now be just behind the large spines top of and underside of the fish.

The remainder of the fish can be filleted along the backbone, leaving just the tail for stock.

So, we have two good fillets and four large steaks.

Take a couple of steaks and pop them into a steamer on top of a foil base, lots of lemon, some strong herbs like dill, tarragon or thyme - I used dill. Salt and a little butter on the top. Set aside until ready to steam - it will take about 10 minutes.

Don't be tempted to snip off the spines. Once steamed, these spines will help you whip the skin off leaving beautiful tender flesh falling off the backbone.

Let's make up our red peppers ...

Take a Romano pepper each - these are the long, sweet red peppers. Cut lengthways, seed and clean up the white pith. Shred and toss into a skillet with some shredded shallots and thinly sliced chorizo.

The chorizo will supply the fat and the smoky colour. Add in some chilli for the heat - fresh, dried, powdered or sauce, whatever you have to hand.

Pour over a carton of chopped tomatoes and let it simmer - the tomatoes will almost disappear, leaving softened peppers in a hot sauce.

I also made up some sauté potatoes and a few green beans. Feel free to leave these out. I don't think sweet potato would give the required flavour, perhaps swede, perhaps celeriac. Asparagus would work out fine, lightly steamed - we want something green with a crunch to offset some of the oiliness in the red pepper.

With the red peppers simmering, steam your fish over a pan of rolling boiling water. 10 minutes should do it.

Meanwhile, wilt some spinach in butter and a little white pepper.

Serve out ...

Plate a good portion of red peppers, scattering over the green vegetables and sautéed roots.

Gently lift the fish out, taking a hold of the spines and sliding the skin off. Plate in the middle, crowning with the wilted spinach. Grind of black pepper.

The soft white flesh of the fish has a delicate flavour of its own, not overpowered by nor overpowering the other flavours on the plate; each compliments the other.

Seriously delicious! Give it go ...


Fish Tagine

Tagine is a North African dish of Berber origin (Tajin) named after the earthenware pot within which it is cooked and the mainstay of Moroccan cuisine.

Traditionally, the tagine is made from heavy clay and needs curing by soaking in water before first use - see: iTagine, the tops often decorated and glazed. Moden tagines often feature a cast iron base.

The shape of the lid is designed so as to return cooking steam back to the base of the dish and the weight keeping the dish sealed. Think of the tagine as an ancient pressure cooker.

Tagines combine meat, spices, vegetables, fruit and herb garnishes in a slow-simmering over the coals of an open fire ... or the cooker hob in our case. Cooked, the dish should be a deep, complex and warming meal brough to the table in the base, the lid removed and the heady, steamy aroma enjoyed as a precursor to the meal eaten from the base itself, or spooned over couscous on an individual plate.

Don your Fez, we're off to Casablanca ...

First, the couscous. Again, of Berber origin (Seksu, meaning well rolled, formed and rounded), couscous is made from millet so not a lot of use to paleo people. One obvious substitution is cauliflower couscous, finely grated and dried in the oven, or lightly steamed and crushed before warming through in a dry frying pan.

So, to the tagine itself. Think your ingredients through - the dish should be dressed up and pretty to look at.

Smoked fish, in a deep, flavoursome tomato sauce with butternut squash, courgette, peppers and lemon.

The dish could, of course, include all manner of other goodies: harissa, olives, almonds, the list is endless. Tagines are made from what you have available, cooked through sequentially, dressed up and then left to warm through in its own steam.

To the stove ...

First warm the tagine base through on the hob and turn the heat down. Mine is Le Crueset brand and made of cast iron.

Melt some fat and soften some shallots and shaved fennel. The fennel will punch through the tomato and liven  up the fish. Toss in some crushed garlic and then a carton of chopped tomatoes. Thicken with a little tomato purée.

Toss in the cubes of butternut squash and let it simmer for 15 minutes, or so, with the lid on. The squash should now be cooked through.

Poke in pieces of smoked fish - I used cod. The fish should be submerged into the tomato sauce, which, should now be nice and thick.

Dress the tagine with lemon slices over the top, courgette slices all around the edge and pepper rings arranged as a crown. You can be more decorative with other ingredients here - let your imagination go.

Fresh coriander leaf to garnish, lid on and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Present at the table, removing the lid and enjoying the heady aroma.

Spoon out over your cauliflower couscous and enjoy.


Yorkshire Hot Pot

Our Lancastrian cousins over the hills can't have all the fun ...

If there's a Lancashire Hot Pot, there should be a Yorkshire Hot Pot!

Lancashire Hot Pot is a simple, no-frills dish of lamb neck, onions, garlic and potatoes. Yorkshire Hot Pot should be as simple, as unfussy and as tasty, but ... while our Lancastrian cousins do love their sheep, us Yorkshire folk are known for our piggies!

So, pork shoulder it is ...

Build the dish in exactly the same way, laying the meat down first, covering with caramelised onions, garlic, herbs and some kidneys, covering with potato slices and topping up with stock. Slow cook  for a good couple of hours at 150C (300F) and in the last half an hour, butter the potato layer and crisp it up.

See ... told you it wasn't a fussy dish.

Meanwhile, prepare some veggies ...

Red cabbage is perfect. Shred half a red cabbage for a couple of people. Get it boiling. I like to do a sort of slow boil for a good couple of hours, really softening the cabbage and concentrating the flavours. Pop in some pickled beetroot, red wine, red wine vinegar and let it go. Ensure that all the liquid is fully reduced before serving.

Boil and mash some potato - one baked potato sized potato per person. Once mashed with some butter, add in one egg yolk per potato and fully combine. Pipe out the mash onto a baking tray and - voila: Duchess Potatoes!

These go in the oven for half an hour at the end of cooking, so just pop them in when you butter over the Yorkshire Hot Pot.

Ready to eat? Not 'arf! Serve out and get stuck in!

Concerning Potatoes

There is a lot of white potato in this dish. White potatoes have long been vilified by the paleo community, its sweet cousin made the darling, but I cannot find much difference between them in terms of starch or insulin response.

White potatoes do seem to be more accepted amongst ancestral eaters, but the same words of advice are true for any starch: don't over-do it.

Todd gives us a sound consideration of potatoes on his Primal Toad website.


Tuna Fish Cakes

From canned tuna, these fish cakes are so simple to make.

Drain a 170g can of tuna per person. Drained weight is about 140g?

Tuna can be dry, so we're going to combine it with some mashed potato in equal portions.

Weigh, boil and mash the potato, add in the tuna meat and two eggs per portion, combining fully.

Add in some flavours - black pepper, celery salt, lemon juice; some herbs - parsley; some further padding: spring onions.

Form into a couple of patties in Chef's rings and place into a heated skillet with hot coconut oil for a couple of minutes on each side and then drop the heat. Remove the rings and then give the cakes a few more minutes each side before serving.

Serve out onto a plate with a light salad. Accompany with a simple tartare of caper, gherkin, dill and lemon juice in soured cream.

Crab Bites

Somewhere shy of a fish cake, these crab bites are so simple to make.

Drain a 170g can of crab meat per person. Drained weight is about 140g?

Add in some flavours - ginger, chilli; some herbs - coriander; some padding: spring onions.

Add one egg per portion of crab meat, combine fully, form into three or four balls, drop into a heated skillet with hot coconut oil and press down gently to flatten.

Give it a couple of minutes on each side and then drop the heat. Give it a couple more minutes each side and then serve.

Serve out onto a plate with a light salad. Accompany with a simple tartare of caper, gherkin, dill and lemon juice in soured cream.


Paleo Britain's Pumpkin Pie

Rarely do I look at a dessert, especially one labelled a "pie" or a "cake" and salivate, but Ellie over Primal Britain showed us this on G+ and I had to have a go ...

Time for some friendly one-upmanship :)

Ellie used a can of pumpkin flesh - I used a real pumpkin, which just wanted the insides scooping out, hard skin peeling off and then the flesh cut into chunks, steamed until soft but not slop and mashed.


Well, Ellie's is just fine, but I varied it just a little - I wanted less base and more pie, comparatively, so reduced the figure for the crust, and guessed on the weight of pumpkin since I don't know how much was in a can.

Almond Crust

200g Ground Almonds
60g Salted Butter

Melt the butter and mix into the ground almonds with a fork until fully combined and all the almond flour has touched some of the butter.

Pat into a cake tin, pressing down with a large spoon - I have one of those posh ones with a clip on the side so you can easily remove the ring leaving your cake on the base. I didn't bother going up the sides because of this.

You could blind bake this for maybe 10 minutes at 170C (350F) or just proceed - if you do, the base will be solid, but the inside will merge in with the pumpkin a little.

Pumpkin Filling

400g Pumpkin Flesh
250ml Coconut Milk
3 Eggs
Tablespoon of Local Natural Honey
Teaspoon Allspice
Slosh Vanilla Essence

Simply stir together with a fork.

The pumpkin flesh was still warm, so melted the honey really easily. Cooled with the coconut milk before adding in the eggs so that the eggs did not cook when meeting the warm pumpkin.

Pour into the cake tin and into the oven at 170C (350F) for 45 minutes.


Out of the oven, sides off, cut a segment and enjoy!

Wow! This is wonderful!

Ellie challenges us to serve with cream, if we dare!

Footnotes, Opinion and Rhetoric

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:

There is also an important note about cream ...

Many ancestral eaters are quite happy with fatty or fermented cream. If you are not tolerant or simply don't want to have dairy as part of your paleo template then don't - that can of coconut milk (400ml) didn't get fully used up, so whisk up the rest and optionally freeze it for a coconut ice cream on the side.

I'm going to take the cream challenge one step further and get some clotted cream today for another slice this evening.

Thanks to Ellie & Gary over Primal Britain - this is a fantastic dessert.

Oh ... are desserts paleo?

Absolutely! Paleo food is paleo food whether sweet or savoury.

I'm not one for emulation of neolithic foods or neolithic ways, but I really do not see an issue with this pie, afterall, it's not like any of our "paleo" food is actually paleo anyway. Our paleolithic ancestors did not eat domesticated meat and gently steamed cultivated vegetables. Just because the animals are left out in fields and on hillsides does not make them wild, nor does organic mean natural; they're all still farmed, which is in itself wholly neolithic.

Whoa! It's a long way down off this soap box and I've not got a head for heights. This guy does, though ...

Simple Pickled Salad Sides

There are so many health benefits from vinegar, especially cider vinegar and red wine vinegar. Why not make up a couple of sides to go with ... well, pretty much anything ...


Red Chilli
Red Pepper
Red Onion
Red Wine Vinegar
Chopped Coriander


Green Chilli
Green Pepper
Spring Onion
Cider Vinegar
Chopped Coriander


Chicken & Mushroom Stroganoff with Aromatic Roasted Carrots

Stroganoff is a Russian dish of sautéed meat and soured cream, or smetana.

Popular worldwide, Stroganoff has grown to incorporate many combinations of tastes, flavours and textures, from the inclusion of vegetables, mushrooms, pasta or rice, served inside crepes, as a topping to baked potato and made with almost any cut of meat, even sausage.

We're going to serve it over a paleo pasta!

For some reason, I have a glut of chicken in at the moment - good news, since this is a dish I absolutely adore! I also have some oyster mushrooms, so this could potentially take on some more exotic flavours.


This can be a very rich dish, so, deviating from my usual base of carrot and courgette ribbons, I decided to go with just courgette ribbons and to roast the carrots.

Peel, halve from top to tail and then, depending upon the size cut each half again or into three.

Melt some fat in a roasting dish and then coat the carrots.

Sprinkle over ground coriander, ground ginger, ground chillies, perhaps cumin; whatever flavours you like, but make them warm, aromatic and inviting.

Roast at 200C (400F) for about 20 minutes. This will give to time to prep and cook the Stroganoff. Easy!

Back to main event ...

Stroganoff is a quick dish for which preparation is the key ...

Chop an onion - I like to top, tail, cut in half through the top/tail axis, lay eat half flat and shred through the top/tail axis to produce long pieces. Set aside until you are ready to cook.

Slice up some chicken breast and set aside until you are ready to cook.

Halve the largest oyster mushrooms. If you are using more regular mushrooms, slice them up. Set aside until ready to cook.

Chop some parsley and dill, mince some garlic, setting all aside until ready to cook.

Peel some courgette ribbons and set aside until ready to cook.

Stroganoff comes together quickly and is best served fresh ...

Melt some fat in a heavy based skillet and get the chicken coloured up, toss in the onions and garlic ... and the mushrooms if you are using more conventional mushrooms.

Add in the dill, some black pepper, sea salt, paprika and possibly cayenne - I fancied a hotter dish, so used cayenne.

Now for the overture ...

Drop the vegetable ribbons into boiling water and turn the heat off. We don't want to overcook these while we're preparing the remainder of the dish.

Pour in some double cream and a tablespoon of natural yoghurt. If you're fine with yoghurt, but not cream, just go with yoghurt. With the heat down, if not off, use the heat in the pan to meld the ingredients together.

Drain the vegetable ribbons and assemble a mound on a plate.

Toss the parsley into the skillet, maybe some more black pepper and sea salt to taste.

Spoon the Stroganoff over the paleo pasta.

Bacon & Egg Umami

I have some egg whites left over from Hollandaise the previous day.

I could do a mega egg, making one giant fried egg with these yolks and cracking one extra egg in for the yolk, or I could just make a large fried egg white.

I'll do that ...

What should go with it? Bacon! Everything is better with bacon.

What else? Tomatoes.

What else? Herbs, chilli and something new.

To work ...

Get the bacon cooking in a skillet - we want it cooked through and all the fat nice and crispy. Cooking for two, I used a couple of slices of streaky bacon.

Once cooked, set aside for a second while the egg is cooked in the grease.

Simply pour the egg whites into the skillet. I had four whites.

Flip over, turn out onto a board to cut. I was using fancy rectangular plates, so the egg was trimmed into a couple of rectangular pieces. Gobble the trimmings down with a little sea salt. Chef's privilege.

Lay that on the plate, thin slices of tomato over, some Tabasco over that, then the bacon, then some chopped chives and ...

Finally, a sprinkling of Laura Sattini's 'Umami Dust'.

Umami Dust? Is that paleo? Probably not, but there's nothing sinister in the ingredients list.

"Designed to turn any savoury dish into a culinary delight, Laura Santtini has released a new powdered version of the original Taste #5 Umami all-natural flavour bomb paste. Taste #5 Umami Dust is made from a combination of everyday Mediterranean ingredients, including natural umami, lemon peels, garlic, balsamic vinegar, anchovies, porcini mushrooms and tomatoes. Unlike many of the other food seasonings on the shelves it does not contain the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate." foodmasters.co.uk

Voila! Simple starter ... and boy, what a flavour!

Lightly Smoked Salmon Fillet Hollandaise with Beetroot Salsa

Smoked salmon is one of my favourite things. Better? Lightly smoked fillets, and what better than smothered in hollandaise with a tart salsa alongside?

Preparation is the key here, so let's get the easy bits done first.

The salsa ...

Cube some vine tomatoes and some pickled beetroot. Toss together in a bowl. Add some chopped chive, extra virgin olive oil and a little sea salt, perhaps a grind of freshly milled black pepper. Mix well and pop it in the fridge until you're ready to eat.

Next, the hollandaise ...

In all seriousness, Hollandaise is really simple to make. No, really!

Take a couple of egg yolks per person and drop them into a bowl. Whisk together with something astringent - lemon juice is classic, white wine vinegar is good and pink grapefruit juice is really fly. I went with lemon juice. Put the bowl aside until you're ready to serve. The final bit is really quick.

The fish - this doesn't want over-cooking. I simply parcelled up in foil and popped it into a pre-heated oven set to 180C (350F) for 12 minutes.

Removed from the oven and set aside still in its foil, I boiled some asparagus for a couple of minutes. Retrieve with a slotted spoon and pat them dry - leave the pan boiling!

Plate up!

Spread the salsa around in a circle, asparagus in the middle with the salmon on top.

You left the pan boiling, right? Great!

Quickly melt some butter in a small sauce pan, pop the bowl of Hollandaise onto the boiling water and slowly pour the melted butter in, whisking all the time.

If the sauce thickens too quickly, lift the bowl off the steam and if it looks like it's starting to set, a half teaspoon of cold water whisked in should get it back to manageable. With practice you'll just pop the bowl on, pour in the butter and you'll have a sauce.

Pour over the fish, garnish with a couple of chive stalks and a wedge of lemon alongside.

Every part of this meal was absolutely necessary and every part complimented every other part. The smoked salmon, softened by the blanket of Hollandaise, cut through with the iron punch of asparagus and the sweetly astringent tang of beetroot, entirely different to the cut of the sour tomatoes.

As the meal progressed, the Hollandise melded with the beetroot to make pink swirls all over the plate.

Absolutely gorgeous, and a dish I will absolutely, definitely do again ... straight down the line, no messing, no changes, just exactly as I did here. That says a lot! I never make the same thing twice.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Prawn Guacamole Cocktail


Yes, the 300th post and how fortuitous that it is what might well be a signature dish!

Inspired by the regular prawn cocktail, which I have previously enhanced with cubes of avocado, I decided to go the whole hog and just serve some prawns over guacamole with an interface of shredded lettuce.

I'm sure this has been done by someone, but I was very happy to have come up with it on the spur of the moment.

Let's get to it ...

First, purée some avocado. I used two for two people.

The process of fully puréeing is important - I use a stick blender and once the avocado is broken down, continue to mash it for some time until the oils start to release. This leads to a really smooth mole, which I like unadulterated with nothing more than a little lime juice and sea salt: Holy Guacamole.

Carefully spoon into a tumbler, glass, small bowl, or something that you might normally serve a Prawn Cocktail in.

Next, shred some crisp lettuce and pat down over the guac. You could drop a few small cubes of tomato, cucumber, radish, ingredients like that over the lettuce - I may well do next time.

Stir some sour cream into a portion of prawns, a little sea salt and a good dusting of smoked paprika. Stir together and spoon over the lettuce.

Eat immediately, or chill in the fridge until ready.


Tuna Non-Nicoise

Inspired by the classic Niçoise salad, I set about a hearty main centred around a nice piece of fresh tuna steak.

Niçoise is tuna, steak, seared, canned, cool or warm, green beans, olives, capers, tomatoes and optionally lettuce leaves.

Close, but not close enough to actually call it Niçoise , I went with shaved fennel, mixed leaves, vine tomatoes, capers, black olives, cucumber, chives and extra virgin olive oil for my salad.

Dress the plate and leave a space in the middle for the tuna steak, seared in a griddle pan; tenderstem broccoli, lightly boiled; an egg, hard boiled, halved and placed alongside.

Garnish with a couple of chives and a wedge of lemon.

Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

I'm not sure how this has happened, but for some reason, my freezer is full of chicken! I have thighs, wings, drumsticks, whole legs and breast. I could easily make up several zombie chickens with Meccano skeletons to do my bidding, or ... cook 'em ...

What better than keep it simple and use lots of chilli?

First, the sauce ...

You could buy some. There are a good many chilli sauces out there that are without all the usual additives and if you look very carefully, you'll find one or two without sugar.

I chose to make mine up. Winging it, I seeded, veined and chopped a few red chillies. Rumour has it that it is the seeds that are the very hot part of a chilli, but I have also read that it is the white flesh inside - I removed both. Anyone know for sure? Anyway, a few chillies were really well chopped and then minced with the edge of my knife until practically liquid.

Into a bowl. Add lemon juice, tomato puree, and sea salt. Stir together well and then spoon over the chicken drumsticks arranged in a roasting tin.

Into a pre-heated oven set to 180C (about 350F) for 30 minutes.

Dust the drumsticks with dried oregano and back into the oven to another 15 minutes.

As an observation, my chilli sauce had dried out and remained more as a crust and the oregano left almost a crunch. Eating, this worked out really well since the skin and crust came off, leaving really juicy meat underneath.

This was a starter course - three for me, two for Mrs. Huge fun!


Scallop & Prawn Chowder

Chowder is a creamy seafood soup, typically of shellfish and diced potatoes and traditionally thickened with broken up crackers.

Chowder is most definitely a paleo+ dish containing full fat cream and peeled white potatoes.

Let's begin ...

Peel and dice a few salad potatoes. I prefer salad potatoes to larger white potatoes for Chowder since they retain some firmness.

Chop an onion, or half an onion and some leek. I went with half an onion and some leek. Later, we're going to add in spring onions and chives, so lots more goodness from the onion family. No garlic!

You'll need some chicken or fish stock and full fat cream. No milk!

You'll also need some shellfish - clams, mussels, scallops, prawns; perhaps fish - cubes of monkfish, salmon, tuna, swordfish, something firm.

Anything else? I added some oyster mushrooms.

To the pan ...

In a large heavy-based skillet, begin by softening the onion and leek in some butter.

Toss in your cubed potatoes and let them just colour in the butter. Pour in the stock and perhaps some more water (or white wine, if you have some), allowing the potatoes to soften.

Once soft, retrieve a few pieces and mash - this is the thickener.

Toss in any shellfish you don't want to colour up and any other ingredients you've assembled - oyster mushrooms, for me and prawns. I also had scallops, which I just wanted to colour up prior to serving.

Pour in sufficient cream to make the dish opaque, season with sea salt and flavour with white pepper and a good handful of chopped parsley.

Reduce for a few minutes until thickened.

Ready to serve?

Colour up a few scallops in butter while you're serving out the Chowder into wide brim bowls. Scatter some shredded spring onion over, crown with scallops and garnish with some chopped chives.

Wow! Too gorgeous!

Scandinavian Herring Salad

I've travelled a lot around Scandinavia, the Baltic and out to Russia ... one thing that I always take home is the food!

I just seem to thrive on their cleaner, simpler version of what is very much British food, just done cleaner and simpler.

This salad is based around things you can find in your local supermarket.

Pickled herring, pickled beetroot, pickled gherkin, red onion, fennel, radish and dill. Eggs.

That's the ingredient list ... here's how ...

Shave some fennel. Use a veg peeler or a very sharp knife, but get some shavings of fennel and pop them on the plate.

Cut a couple of slices of red onion and immerse them in water - this will take the sting off them. After a good ten minutes, drain, collect the best bits, slice into reasonable sections and scatter over the plate.

Place a few pieces of pickled herring over, slices of radish, pickled gherkin and quarters of pickled beetroot.

Garnish with dill.

Slosh some olive oil over if you like ... I did. I also had a grind of black pepper over.


Coq au Vin

Burgundian French - a simple stew of rooster in wine, lardons, mushrooms, onion and garlic.

This is a simple, rustic dish, so let's keep it that way - unfussy.

Straight to it ...

You need some chicken pieces, or a coq, if you can get one, and some good Burgundian red wine (Bourgogne, so Pinot Noir grape). Immerse the chicken pieces in the wine and sit it in the fridge overnight.

Retrieve the chicken pieces into lidded casserole dish and pour over some of the wine, making up the liquid half and half with chicken stock.

Mince a load of garlic cloves and pop into the dish, a couple of bay leaves and a good handful of lardons or streaky bacon. You can add in some onion at this point, or at the end if you follow my madness and use pickled onions - soak them in water while the dish is doing its main cook and add in at the end.

Pop that into the oven for a couple of hours with the lid on at 175C (around 350F).

Remove the lid, toss in a load of button mushrooms, optionally carrots and the pickled onions. Shock! Horror! I used tinned carrots and tinned mushrooms! It's comfort food at its best ...

Increase the heat to 200C (400F) and let the stock reduce for about 20-30 minutes, stirring through each 10 minutes.

Serve out into a wide brimmed bowl with some mashed roots alongside.

That's it! Told you it was easy ...


Pan Fried Tilapia over Stir-Fry Vegetables

Sometimes, simplicity really is the best.

Short of time, here's a really fast and very paleo-friendly meal.

Cook some protein - mine happened to be a couple of fillets of tilapia, pan fried in a little butter. Coconut oil would do fine here.

Cut up a bunch of veggies - I had white cabbage, green cabbage, red pepper and broccoli, which I enhanced the flavour with onion, garlic, ginger and chilli.

Stir-fry the veggies, wetting up with some coconut oil or beef dripping.

Serve the fish on top of a good pile of veggies, adorn with some fresh herbs and a slice of lime.


Catalan Fish with Paleo Picada

What a way to kick off Living in the Ice Age 2.0!

Where better to look for fish recipes than northern Spain - the Catalan region.

Inspired by Rick Stein from his Spanish travels shown on the BBC's 'Saturday Kitchen', I set about a meat and fish stew, thickened with a picada.

Read on ...

Chef Stein made a meatball and cuttlefish stew with peas, thickened with a picada. More on that in a minute.

I get home after food shopping where I scooped up a whole heap of nearly gone fish, fresh fish and fish which will last, some of which went in the freezer, some in the fridge and some out for tonight.

Chef Stein's recipe (from memory) was cuttlefish, prawns and meatballs.

I had defrosted a dog end of a carton of minced meat, so had maybe half a pound to play with. The supermarket had some squids about to turn, so I bagged them, and, they had some tilapia about to turn. All half price and all going into my pot this evening.

Let's begin ...

First, prep. I skinned and cleaned the squid bodies, chopped the heads from the tentacles, thought about reserving the ink sacs for something but binned the little fellows' head in the end.

Chop some leek - leek is great with fish. Grind some garlic down with a little sea salt.


Meat - pummel the minced beef with some marjoram (or your favourite aromatic herb), some celery salt and some black pepper. Squeeze it through your fists a few times and them make up a stack of little meatballs just a couple of centimetres in diameter.

Using a heavy bottomed pan, skillet, or whatever it is you use, brown the meatballs off in a little fat. I used coconut oil.

When browned, toss in sliced squid reserving the tentacles 'til the end.

Sauté a few times (that's toss in the pan, for non-gastronomes) and add a shredded leek just to soften, then a carton of chopped tomatoes.

Add some tarragon to perfume - tarragon is fantastic with fish.

In goes a few cloves of creamed garlic and chopped chilli - Scotch Bonnet pepper for me.

Add a handful of frozen peas and a small handful of frozen prawns.

Pour in some water and let it simmer for a short while ...

Test for flavour and add in some stock - fish, chicken or just a bouillon will do. I had some fish stock in the freezer, so dropped that in and reduced, adjusting seasoning at the end - more sea salt.

Retrieve the tarragon.

I had some tilapia, which I just dropped into the now reducing stew to cook through for a couple of minutes.

We're about done!

Two things: the picada and the tentacles.

The picada - this is a thickening concoction of herbs, garlic, almonds, hazelnuts and bread. What better than almond bread, eh? That, some ground hazels, pickled garlic, pickled chillies, parsley and some olive oil blended with a hand blender.

Put a few tablespoons into the stew and allow it to just thicken.

Those tentacles ... cut them off the head, taking care not to puncture the ink sac, pull off the long ones with the sticky bits at the end. Fry them off in a little olive oil and when ready to serve out, spoon out the stew with the tilapia on top and the fried squids to crown.

Whoa! Hot! Hot! Hot! Mellowed with the bread thickener. Damn good!


Living in the Ice Age 2.0?

Is it time for Living in the Ice Age 2.0?

Living in the Ice Age is not strictly a paleo food blog.

Living in the Ice Age began as a paleo food weblog as I began my paleo journey. Intrigued by discussion on paleo forums over fringe ingredients, I began experimenting and ran a second weblog alongside: Leaving the Ice Age.

Much of this was incorporated back into Living in the Ice Age when I closed down its sibling weblog, dropping some of the more perverse experiments and bringing through useful entries which included foods that were not paleo: namely, dairy and white potatoes; occasionally, rice and starchy breads based on tapioca flour.

I am not a health nut. I am a fellow who enjoys being outside, walking, running, getting muddy and going home grinning from ear to ear. I have never been to a gym. I do not concern myself with body fat, nor do I formulate my intake or concern myself in the slightest with weights and measures.

Deciding that I was happiest somewhere in the middle, perhaps termed epi-paleo, or the transition period between paleolithic and neolithic, I rebranded as "paleo+".

Living in the Ice Age is a food weblog ... my food weblog, which happens to be ancestral in focus and founded upon paleo from the outset.

Richard Nikoley's post on Free the Animal strongly echoes my own sentiments, albeit with more swearing, and some serious sense I've read from the likes of Chris Kresser and Mark Sissons along the lines of it's not paleo, but does it actually matter?

I've found a template that I am happy with. It is rooted in the paleo diet and as such has flourished, healed me, and become what I trust is the foundation of a long, happy and healthy life.

It is still an ancestral diet. Epi-paleo, perhaps?

Yes, it includes white potato, very occasionally rice, and yes, it includes dairy: fermented and fatty, goat, preferably. I don't apologise, but I should make the distinction when it comes to writing about what it is I do as "paleo". Paleo is more than diet - it is as much about activity, rest and the absence of food; no snacking, occasional macronutrient restriction and intermittent fasting. Paleo is an attitude.

For this reason, I still call what I do "paleo" but like the term "paleo+".

As Richard Nikoley says, paleo is about eating the very best you can get hold or for the price you can afford; beyond that, engage in solid activity, rest up and enjoy the hell out of what it is that you do! Yeah, Mark Sissons says exactly that, too. So does J Stanton ('Live in Freedom, Live in Beauty') and I'm pretty sure Paul Jaminet would concur.

There: my favourite paleo/ancestral authors in summary.

Now, to get to the heart of the matter ...

I don't know whether it is the time of year, having moved house and not quite found my groove or just the food we're eating, but ...

In a word, I'm bored!

Looking back, I found some really exciting food pictures; light, vibrant, full of flavour and appealing. Most recently, I seem to be down the end of a dark alley unable to put together the kind of meals that produce those pictures and not really enjoying what it is that I end up making.

I seem to be eating meat for the sake of eating meat. Yes, it sustains life and arguably, that is the most "paleo" I could be, but ...

It doesn't satisfy my creativity our nourish my artistic flair.

More than once in the weeks leading up to me writing this I have stated on paleo forums that I would quite happily be a shell/fish paleo. Whether in response to a former vegetarian easing in or a picky person who just doesn't like meat, I've been in there saying that they can carry on with a seafood based diet quite happily and taking that all the way, saying that I could happily do that.

So, Living in the Ice Age 2.0?

I love fish. I love shellfish.

Meat? I can take it or leave it. Fillet steak, I love! Brisket of beef, I adore! Lamb shoulder, I adore! Belly pork, likewise. We've come to the understanding that when we do eat meat, we like slow-cooked meat, or we like uncooked, rare at best, fillet.

But, I could take it or leave it. Everything else in between, diced, sliced, minced, shredded, it's only in there as protein - it doesn't inspire me.

Nor am I a big fan of birds, generally, but a slow-cooked stew of chicken thighs is great every now and again. Turkey, like diced meat, has become something that is there for simple protein and very little else - it doesn't inspire me.

My whole life, I've always eaten mostly fish and truth be told, I only really started boosting my meat intake because of paleo and even in my life prior to paleo, my preference was for slow-cooked and fatty cuts, unpopular cuts and offals. The great thing about shell/fish is, it seems to work better with organs than the meat from the corresponding animal. What a win!

I don't intend to go dogmatically paleo-pescetarian. I hate dogma ...

I may well eat fillet steak when out and it's not like I'm going to consider it a "cheat", am I? I may well slow-cook a chunk of beef or mutton for Sunday dinner. I may well shove a stew of chicken pieces into the oven for a ready made dinner on a busy week night.

I am going to return to eating mostly shell/fish.

I feel happier working with fish, more spontaneous, more creative with the ingredients that I have to hand, or don't have to hand, intelligently working around and creating all manner of new combinations. This is the spark, the inspiration and the satisfaction that I get from cooking.

Will I get enough nutrition?

I am absolutely certain that I will. Seafood is protein-rich, balanced in fat and nutrient dense. Seafood provides some of the richest sources of those vitamins and minerals prized by paleo eaters and often sit higher in those lists of Top 10 Sources of Whatever than ruminant meat. In fact, seafood often considered as "supplements" for meat eaters to really pack in long chain omega-3, selenium, zinc and so on. Oysters, clams, mussels, oily fish, even white fish.

It will also be a fun experiment, putting my lifestyle where my mouth is - is a shell/fish paleo diet sufficient? It's pure n=1, naturally, but I'm always up for an adventure.

For whatever reason, meat has drained me.

My culinary creativity has gone down a dead end and my artistic flair is waning. I actually feel refreshed and invigorated by just writing this.

From now on, my mantra will be: fish, shellfish, organs, eggs, veggies and "meat for a treat". Wish me well and I hope you enjoy my forthcoming creations.

Presenting: Living in the Ice Age 2.0 ...


Easy as Cheesecake

More primal than paleo, because it's practically all dairy, but even paleo purists seem to be warming to good dairy.

Seriously, this is so easy to make, even a fellow who'd just overindulged in sensible indulgences can put this together ... and I'm not talking eating too much chocolate :)

You need:

Some cream cheese - check the ingredients, coz Philadephia is NOT primal. Cream Cheese which lists the ingredients and milk is what you want.

Some soured cream - again, check the ingredients ... blah blah blah ... cream needs to be the ingredient. Soured cream adds the tang that cheesecake needs without spoiling the vanilla flavour with lemon juice.

Some honey - check your sources. Much honey is cut with HFCS nowadays, so get your honey from a local apiary that you know collects their honey from their hives. Honey is a superb sweetener, packed with all manner of complex health goodies - it's more than just a sweetener!

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.

Vanilla essence - or, vanilla seeds extracted from a pod. I only had essence in, so that's what I used.

Gluten-free biscuit. Fauxfood, I know (after all the care I took over my sweetener), but I lacked the inspiration to whip up a nutty base at that time of night but reckon something like crushed hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and maybe a little butter would do the trick.

Hand whisk.

Get to it!

2/3 cream cheese, 1/3 soured cream, touch of honey, whisk like the clappers until it stands up. Get the bowl in a headlock to work the core and swap hands part way through to ensure an even workout. Yes, I mean a hand whisk, not an electric whisk you hold in your hand!

[I've done this a few times since (without any base) using Greek yoghurt, goat yoghurt and double cream ... that 2 parts cream cheese to 1 part something creamy works out perfect. When using soured products, like soured cream or yoghurt, the right bitterness is imparted. Using straight cream, some tartness can be imparted with some sour berries on top ... bilberries are perfect; for US readers, these are related to wild blueberries.]

Form your base in a Chef's ring and spoon the mixture over. Pop into the fridge to set.

When ready to eat, retrieve from the fridge, warm the metal ring with your body heat and allow the cake to slide out. The cheesecake will set in about an hour, so this is something that can be made and eaten the same evening.

Eat, enjoy, feel fantastic!