Smoked trout, arugula, strawberry, avocado salad

This salad is basically the perfect salad. I’ve been addicted to it for weeks. Today I experimented with spinach instead of arugula and nope, it just didn’t work as well.

So, to a base of arugula, add four sliced strawberries, chunks of half an avocado, approximately 2/3 of a Trader Joe’s smoked trout, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. So good. The strawberries taste best with some arugula — bitter and tangy in the same mouthful. And the trout and avocado also taste best together — salty and creamy, plus the different textures.

I appear to have never taken a picture of it, which is okay, since my photos are pretty terrible, and I find it tough to believe that I will ever forget this recipe… but here it is, saved for posterity anyway.

Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic-based Rub

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CostCo sells multi-packs of pork chops and, as meat goes, they’re cheap. It works out to something like $1 per fat pork chop. Since eating AIP starts adding up, I decided I’d give them a try, even though I’ve never really cared for pork chops.

OMG, I am now in love with pork chops. Seriously, I’ve eaten five in the past two weeks or so, because they are so, so, so good. At least when cooked this way…

Make a rub of a couple cloves of pressed garlic, zest from a lime or lemon, a couple teaspoons of a chopped up herb (I’ve tried rosemary and mint, both are good, cilantro is next on my list to try) and a couple teaspoons of kosher salt. These measurements obviously are not precise, but it depends on how many chops you’re making. It’s better to have extra than not enough, IMO.

Rub the mixture all over your pork chop (preferably thick-cut) and let sit for at least an hour and up to four. Longer might be fine, too, but I haven’t tried it.

Grill on a pre-heated grill as appropriate for your cut of chop. The ones from CostCo are fat — they need about seven minutes per side. Don’t overcook them, though. Pork doesn’t need to be solid white, the way people always cooked it in the 70s. . Trichinosis is a) extremely rare since Congress passed a law in 1980 not allowing pigs to be fed garbage and b) killed at a temp of 137 F. You can cook your pork to 145, which would seem close to rare, and it should be safe.

Add some olive oil and lemon or lime juice to the dish where you made the rub and mix thoroughly. Voila, salad dressing. (You could also use vinegar.) Pour the salad dressing over a salad of your choice–mine was arugula and avocado the first time and it was delicious.

Slice the pork chop and serve over the salad. So good! That was the first time I stopped eating three bites into a meal and went off to find my camera, because I knew I wanted to save this recipe/idea. It was delicious. The two times I’ve made it since, I’ve cooked two pork chops and turned the second one into cold salads for the next day. Two pork chops can be three meals for me, so I’m getting my protein for less than $1/meal, plus getting my leafy greens. Yum. Plus, it’s easy to mix it up by changing the herbs and the citrus — maybe someday I’ll try orange zest and basil, or grapefruit zest and mint. Oh, that sounds so good. Maybe that someday will be this weekend.

Pan Sauce and Chicken Thoughts

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I make roast chicken fairly often these days, because it’s a solid protein that I can use in a bunch of different ways. Leftovers are basically the only way I can imagine surviving the AIP regimen — otherwise, I’d be cooking serious food at every single meal and sometimes one just wants a bowl of granola level effort when it comes to breakfast or lunch. Or dinner, for that matter, although I suppose we’d call it take-out at dinner!

So chicken — can be eaten plain, hot or cold, put on a salad, mixed with various ingredients to be sort of a chicken salad (no mayo, so it never feels like real chicken salad to me), used in soup, mixed with cooked veggies as stir-fry, loads of options. And yet… chicken is kind of boring, especially when you’re not breading it, adding barbecue sauce, or frying it. Even my stir fries seem bland since I can’t use soy sauce. (Fish sauce — while similar and a useful discovery — adds too much saltiness to be equivalent.)

Anyway, last time I made roast chicken, I decided to try chicken gravy. It was … interesting. I understand why people don’t make chicken gravy very often. It’s fattier than turkey gravy or beef gravy. I suppose southerners are actually notorious for chicken gravy on biscuits, but I’m not a real southerner, so I’ve never even tried that.

This time, I decided to make sort of a combo — part pan sauce, part gravy. A pan sauce would usually be made with chicken broth, not the chicken drippings from the roast chicken, so with this pan sauce/gravy, I used chicken drippings, added white wine vinegar and capers, cooked it down a ton and then added arrowroot powder to thicken it up.

It requires more experimentation. But the general concept — pan sauce over roast chicken slices, is excellent. Next time the right approach might be to try a couple tablespoons of the drippings for the flavor, water, and balsamic, cooked down a ton.

Meanwhile the roast chicken strategy that I tried last night was the chicken rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic salt, in a 400 degree oven, cook for 30 minutes, then turn, then cook for another 45 minutes. The turning wasn’t worth the effort — the bottom skin still wound up soggy. Someday I’m going to figure out how to make a perfect roast chicken without a lot of effort (my favorite answer used to be pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, but that no longer works for me, alas) but my roast chicken also still requires experimentation.

Why post experiments? Because the last five times I’ve made roast chicken I’ve tried something different and now I can’t remember anymore what I’ve tried or not. ARGH! So writing down the experiments is how I’m going to find the answers. It’s the scientific method of cooking.

Salad dressing

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I’m all about the salads these days. Arugula and spinach, mostly, with some kind of protein. Today’s lunch was arugula, spinach, roasted brussels sprouts, olives, avocado, and cold pan-seared rainbow trout. It was yum. But it was the third straight meal where I used the same salad dressing, because it was even yummier.

Minced red onion
Finely chopped mint leaves
Lime juice
Olive oil
White balsamic vinegar
A bit of sea salt

Whisk together ingredient and pour on salad. Last night’s salad was shredded cabbage, avocado, and trout (warm). This mornings was shredded cabbage & leftover steak. Good every time.

Coconut curry fish stew AIP

I was feeling resentful about this stupid diet this morning before breakfast. I wanted granola with yogurt. Nice and easy and fast, stick the food in your mouth, chew it up, swallow it down, get on with life. But no, that’s not an option if I want to feel healthy. So fine… I went out to the kitchen, browsed around and wound up making myself a nori handroll with smoked salmon, avocado, capers, red onion, and thinly-sliced lemon. As I ate it, I thought about the number of times I might have paid serious money for similar foods at restaurants. $8 for a bagel with lox, red onion and capers, easily, in almost any city I’ve lived in. Or a fancy sushi roll, $10.95, maybe. And yet here I was, lucky enough to be eating such in my own house. I should have appreciated it.

Then lunchtime rolled around. I had some leftover options, but I’d eaten both yesterday already, so I started cooking, feeling grumpy the entire time. I wanted a tunafish sandwich. On good bread. With mayonnaise, and maybe some melted cheese. Instead, I was chopping carrots and onions, pulling out my homemade chicken broth, finding the bag of seafood medley in the freezer… grump, grump, grump. But within half an hour, I was sitting down to a coconut curry fish stew with calamari, mussels, shrimp, and scallops, and rolling my eyes at myself.

This diet looks like so much work. Well, and feels like so much work. That coconut curry was only possible because I’d already made home-made chicken stock and a seedless curry powder with about eight different ingredients. But if I’d been eating at a restaurant with fancy tablecloths, my curry stew wouldn’t have been out of place. So much of the food on this diet is delicious for an amount of effort that is actually not nearly as oppressive as it seems. The stew took me half an hour to make, and I have enough for at least two more servings before I’m through with it.

So… coconut curry fish stew derived from Feed Me Rachel’s coconut chicken curry:

Seedless Curry Powder:
1 tbsp Granulated Garlic
1 tbsp Granulated Onion
1 tbsp Turmeric
2 tsp Cilantro, dried
2 tsp Basil, dried
2 tsp Dill Weed, dried
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Black Pepper (omit for Ballantyne version of AIP)
1 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground Clove

Combine all ingredients together thoroughly.

(Note: this doubles Rachel’s recipe, because I’m too lazy to measure 1/2 tablespoons.)

Coconut Curry Fish Stew

1/2 bag of frozen seafood medley from Costco
2 tablespoons seedless curry powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 chopped onion
5 carrots, sliced
1 tsp salt
2 cups chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
some cilantro

Add oil to a large pot on medium heat. Chop onion and slice carrots, then put them in the pre-heated pot. Saute for a few minutes, add salt, keep cooking until vegetables are lightly browned (approximately 15 minutes.)

In another pan, saute the seafood. It’s super-watery from the ice so give it five minutes or so, but be careful not to overcook it.

Turn the heat down to low on the vegetables and add the curry powder. Lightly brown the curry powder, keeping it moving, and adding oil if necessary to stop if from burning. You’re “lightly toasting” the spices. Add the chicken stock, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring the stew to a boil. Add the seafood and continue boiling until liquid is reduced to half of what it was. Add the coconut milk and cilantro, turn the heat down to medium lowish, and simmer until again reduced by half, about ten minutes or so.

Eat. Say yum.

Easiest Shrimp Ever

I’ve cooked so many new recipes in the past three weeks. If I wrote a post for all of them, it would be all that I did. That said, I want to remember this one, because it deserves to become a staple meal.

Take frozen shrimp out of the freezer and run warm water over them while pulling off the peels. (Is that what one calls that part of the shrimp? Maybe shells? Skin? But whatever, the clear stuff that isn’t edible.) Let the shrimp sit in the warm water while you get out a pan and put it on the stove and turn the heat to medium, medium-high, and put a little coconut oil in the pan.

Or olive oil or butter or whatever. A tablespoon of oil is plenty and you could probably get away with less, depending on how many shrimp you’re cooking. I find 6-8 per person feels like enough, and 10 feels like plenty, but when I’m cooking just for me, a small pan with a teaspoon-ish amount of cooking fat works fine.

Let the frying pan heat for a couple of minutes. Dump the water off the shrimp, pat the shrimp dry, and then sprinkle them with garlic sea salt. (Purchased for $1.99 in my grocery store, so not nearly as posh as it sounds.) Give them a minute or so to sit with the salt on them while your pan is heating, then toss them in the pan. Two minutes, flip, and two minutes more. Squeeze a little lemon on top.

Put on top of… well, pasta would be nicest, but if you can’t eat pasta, zucchini noodles or salad greens is fine.

Say yum. Totally delicious, takes less than ten minutes beginning to end from frozen, so no forethought required, and even healthy! What more could one ask for?

Roasted acorn squash and carrots with cinnamon and ginger

Preheat the oven to 400.

Peel and chop an acorn squash into smallish chunks (one inch or so). Cut a couple carrots up into similar-sized chunks. Put them in a ziplock bag. Grate about half an inch of fresh ginger into the bag, add a tablespoon or so of cinnamon and maybe two tablespoons of coconut oil and shake thoroughly to distribute the seasonings. Spread in a pan and roast for about an hour, turning once or twice. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve. Yum. Delicious, filling, and about 100 calories per serving, most of which comes from the coconut oil.

Caprese salad

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I would love to know why WordPress ate my post. But it’s a simple salad, so I’m not going to bother to rewrite it. Home-grown delicious tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, a little salt, a little pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, let sit until room temp. Nothing mysterious but very yummy.

Grilled tilapia with lime & cilantro marinade

No picture, but C might have one later.

Sprinkle fillets of tilapia with salt & pepper & Old Bay seasoning. Let sit while preparing a marinade of:

Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
The zest of half a lime, the juice of a whole lime
Some chopped up cilantro
A tablespoon of drained capers

Pour some of the marinade over the fish and leave it for a while. (A longer while than the ten minutes or so that I gave it would have been good.)

Oil the fish… basket? grate? the thing we bought at Big Lots for $5 last week that holds fish on the grill so you don’t lose them into the flames… and do a better, more thorough job of it than I did.

On a pre-heated grill, cook the fish, three minutes per side.

Serve with the extra marinade and add extra marinade to tilapia.

Say yum.

The smokey flavor from the fire was so good on the fish, and the lime, garlic, cilantro, and capers added much flavor without over-powering the lightness of the fish. It was excellent.

Idea for another time: the same marinade with grapefruit and mint. It sounds weird but I bet it would be delicious on tilapia.

Spicy Grilled Chicken

No photo, bad me, but last night I grilled chicken tenders.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them when I started out. I’ve found that marinating chicken in a dairy-based product (yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise) keeps it moist when you cook it, but I was sort of in the mood for spicy. Or tangy? I didn’t know, so I decided to go with everything. I made a marinade with the zest and juice of a lime, a couple tablespoons of mayo, and a tablespoon or so of siracha, and marinated the chicken in it all afternoon, before grilling it on a hot grill, a couple minutes per side.

Yum. Both spicy and slightly limey and as low-calorie as a marinade gets. Eaten with grilled asparagus and small potatoes. I burned the potatoes, but they were still delicious.

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