Sunday, August 7, 2011

STEINGARTEN-LA - Restaurant Review

This weekend we ate out more than usual.  Friday night we were exhausted and headed over to our favorite neighborhood Thai restaurant for curry. Delicious, but I woke up Saturday with swollen eyes and massive congestion. Something in my curry caused a wee bit of inflammation in my system. I am that sensitive to food. Since it was not the first time I had swollen up after a dinner there my husband declared my favorite Thai restaurant no longer Paleo Chick friendly. He is right. I really hate waking up with a sinus headache and allergic double shiners.

Saturday we had to be in Los Angeles. While in Los Angeles our favorite place to eat is the Brazilian BBQ in Farmer's Market. Everything there is prepared with olive oil! My husband asks what oils restaurants cook in. Everyone should. If you want to avoid health damaging man made oils ask what your food is cooked in and suggest alternatives to canola and vegetable oil. After a delightful lunch we went out to dinner with good friends at their new favorite neighborhood restaurant- Steingarten-LA.

Steingarten-LA is a sausage lovers dream. They have everything from bratwurst to sausages stuffed with duck, venison, elk, or lamb. I decided to go for the duck and bacon along with the blueberry venison topped with caramelized onions and sauerkraut. My sausages arrived in what looked like a pretzel bun which I promptly removed. The sausages were smothered in tangy sauerkraut and slightly sweet caramelized onions. Delicious! The duck and bacon tasted exactly like it sounds. I could taste the saltiness of the bacon with the delectable savoriness of the duck. They had an amazing horseradish mustard and curry ketchup to dip in. Both were quite tasty. I never say no to curry or horseradish. The blueberry venison was my favorite. The sausage had the sweet taste of blueberry along with a subtle meatiness. If you like fruit and meat then the blueberry venison would delight you. No gamey flavors at all.  I also had a pretty little side salad of pickled red onions on baby greens. The meal was heaven!

I didn't take any pictures of my dinner. Sorry folks but my dear little bunhead drained my phone playing Angry Birds. Next time I will take some photos because I am totally going back!! The picture you see is from the Steingarten-LA website. Hope they don't mind.

Definitely check out Steingarten-LA the next time your in Los Angeles. The interior is both trendy and a little serene. Definitely a cool place to hang out. I wouldn't call it child friendly but my kids eat non child food with gusto and can behave like small little people instead of caged monkeys. I am told Steingarten-LA  has a wicked fire pit seating area with lush vegetation.

Did I mention they also serve beer? They do. We are not beer drinkers and beer is not paleo but hey I know some serious beer connoisseurs who will love this place!

One more thing they serve grass fed beef !!! Yes, you heard correctly GRASS FED !!  Next time burger for sure!! And you can get coupons for this amazing eatery from Open Table!

1045 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

Whole Foods Mergeza Lamb Sausages

I do love Whole Foods. Where else can one find eggs from New Zealand and octopus salad? I like to spend a lot of time in the meat and poultry section during my Whole Foods treks. I am always looking for something new and exciting. Food makes me wildly happy and shopping for food rates up there with shoes.  Last week I discovered the lamb Mergeza sausage.  The Mergeza sausage is typically a spicy, red sausage made from mutton, lamb, beef, or a mixture seasoned with chili pepper or harissa, sumac, fennel, and garlic stuffed into a lamb intestine casing. The Whole Foods Mergeza is made from just lamb and spices.

At first glance they looked a lot like chorizo which is one of my favorite childhood flavors. My digestive system however would prefer the spicy flavor of the chorizo to stay in my childhood where it belongs. I am not a huge lamb fan unless the lamb has been seasoned so well that it doesn't taste like lamb. Needless to say I took my first bite with a wee bit of hesitation.

 My taste buds were met with what at first tasted a bit like chorizo but with half the heat. I could taste the harissa immediately. As I continued to chew I was met with the strong gamey flavor of lamb. Gaminess is a huge obstacle for me. I have a typical American palate that can't quite handle strong flavors in meat. I have found ways to get around this problem when preparing liver pate and other lamb dishes. The gaminess of these sausages is too strong for me. Shame really as they probably would have been tastier had they been spicier. I had them with eggs and they distorted the taste of the eggs as well. My husband however loved them.  If you enjoy strong flavors in meat and a little heat Whole Foods' Lamb Mergueza sausages would be a wonderful addition to your breakfast menu.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Will be back shortly

I've had to take a little hiatus due to bit of family troubles and a super busy schedule. I'll be back later this week with some delicious recipes and a few reviews. I have been busy making lovely dishes like fried almond crusted fish, coconut milk strawberry ice cream, and banana bread. I plan on kicking off August with a series on cooking Paleo Moroccan and other Middle Eastern styles or perhaps Southeast Asian. Can't decide what I want to devote August and September to as I am in the mood to cook both.  Until then....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Peaches and Sausage

Peaches and Sausage
Apples and Sausage is one of my favorite dishes. During a trip to Riley's Farm in Oak Glen, CA I was introduced to this tasty little early American dish at the Hog's Head Colonial Restaurant. It was love at first bite! Naturally I recreated the dish and we eat it every so often when I am at a loss for what to cook.

Today was definitely a day where I was not so much out of ideas but out of time. We took our children to Wild Rivers for a day of water slide fun. Before I left this morning I took some gorgeous pork bratwurst out of the freezer just so I could make Apples and Sausages when we returned. When we got home I realized there was a big problem. I was out of apples! I try to buy seasonal produce and apples well... just aren't in season. Sure I keep a few around but yesterday when I did the shopping I didn't buy a single apple. But I did buy California peaches. Peaches, pork bratwurst? Really? I know what your thinking " Paleo Chickie did you get too much water up your nose today? Spend too much time in the sun?" Yes, I did. But that is not the point! The point is that this is GOOD!!!
Peaches, red pearl onions, tarragon, and thyme.

Normally when I make Apples and Sausages I add in fresh thyme and oregano from the garden. Fresh herbs are not only delicious but they provide minerals that are lost when herbs are dried. Even if you live in a tiny apartment grow a pot of fresh herbs on your windowsill. My daughter has a mini herb garden sitting on her windowsill. I am training her for a lifetime of culinary pleasure and good health.
Peaches and oregano? Maybe, but I happen to have some tarragon growing right now. Tarragon has a licorice like flavor. I am certain your thinking I am quite mad, licorice flavored herbs, peaches, and pork, yuck! Trust me, its GOOD!

Before we go any further let's talk pork bratwurst. Whole Foods sells a mean pork bratwurst that is simply meat and spices. Some bratwurst contain fillers like wheat or even canola oil! Seriously! If you can't purchase the Whole Foods pork bratwurst look for sausages that are as simple as possible.  Make sure you read the label! I can't begin to recount the number of times I have brought home something that looked healthy only to find hidden dairy, wheat, or unsavory oils.

I love to buy fresh local produce when I can. California grown is important to me. I like to support local farms as well as have produce that didn't have to travel across the country or even the world to get to me. When I buy California grown my produce is always fresher and lasts longer. This week I found some beautiful  red pearl onions. Naturally I had to add those into my peach, pork bratwurst dinner.

Slightly frozen sliced pork bratwurst.
I whipped up my savory Peaches and Sausage in about 30 minutes and it was a hit! The best part was that the peaches created a delicious sauce. Next time I am serving it over sweet potatoes!

What you need:

6 small red pearl onions chopped or 1 large red or brown onion chopped, whatever you have on hand will work.

2 ripe peaches cut into small pieces or chunks, it's up to you.

6-8 pork bratwurst sausages slightly frozen, sliced into pieces. If your buying Whole Foods 6. If not add more! Slightly frozen results in easier to cut.

3 sprigs fresh tarragon finely chopped.

3 sprigs fresh thyme finely chopped.

4 Tablespoons coconut oil

How to do it:

Saute your onions in the coconut oil over medium high heat. Coconut oil unlike olive oil can be used to cook at higher heat. Coconut oil has a higher smoking point than olive therefore more stable and less likely to oxidize and become damaged. I use a lot of coconut oil for that reason. If your afraid of coconut oil don't be. It is delicious and nutritious. Here is a fantastic article explaining the misconceptions surrounding coconut oil.

When your onions are nice and browned toss in your sausage. I should not have to tell you to stir everything occasionally, right? Good. When your sausage is browned add in your chopped herbs and peaches. Cook (don't forget to stir) until your sausages are cooked through and your peaches have softened quite a bit. You should have a beautiful tasty sauce at the bottom your pan from the peaches and the juices from the sausage. My children loved this dish. Of course I did have to tell my son the Ninja Warrior that the peaches were in fact nectarines. He is 6 and has fuzzy fruit issues. This wonderful dish serves 4.

I served this delightful meal with a big salad made from dinosaur kale, red butter lettuce, radishes, heirloom tomato, and avocado with a olive oil vinaigrette dressing. Everything fresh and locally produced.

The leftovers!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tasty Baked Chicken

Tasty Baked Chicken!

I refuse to believe eating a correct diet equates to less tasty. Since I must eat a Paleo diet for the sake of my health I have an enormous incentive to enjoy everything I can eat. I have found that I enjoy eating a Paleo diet much more than my previous "optimal" American diet. I am a heck of a lot healthier and feel more satiated and nourished.  As a person who used to battle hypoglycemia not being hungry all the time and feeling good after I eat instead of sick is nothing short of miraculous.

This dish is one of my favorite due to the ease of preparation. Making this dish truly easy requires maybe ten minutes after you load the morning dishes in the dishwasher. All you need to do is season your chicken with olive oil and spice and leave it in the fridge to marinate.  The longer it marinates the more flavorful the chicken. 

What you need:

6 chicken legs, skin on. I prefer Mary's Air Chilled chicken due to its superb flavor and tenderness.
Garlic powder
Ground sage
Dried marjoram
Fresh ground pepper
Garlic infused olive oil or regular extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves peeled.  I buy my garlic pre-peeled and ready to use. It is a little more expensive but worth it since I use so much garlic.

How to do it:

Place your chicken in a large plastic container or bowl.  Sprinkle very generous amounts of the paprika, garlic powder, sage,and marjoram over your chicken. Don't be shy with the spices! Add a nice sprinkling of freshly ground pepper but not too much. Pour over a generous amount of olive oil. Using your hands rub the olive oil and spice all over the chicken until all the pieces are nicely coated.  Add your garlic cloves. Cover and place in the fridge for 3-24 hours. Again the longer it marinates the tastier the chicken.

When your ready to cook heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place your chicken on a foil lined baking dish or pan. I like to use a deep flat baking sheet lined with non stick foil. Pour any remaining marinade over the chicken. Don't forget the garlic cloves! They need to go in the oven too!Place the chicken in the oven for about an hour.  When the chicken is ready the skin will be golden brown and have pulled away from the bottom of the legs. Once the chicken is out of the oven scoop up all the beautiful juices and the garlic from the bottom of the pan and pour back over the chicken and serve. Serves 4.

I serve this meal with a large mixed green salad and usually a seasonal fruit for dessert.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zhug - Yemenite Salsa

Not the best picture but you get the point.

Yemenite cooking reflects its people;  spicy, vibrant, and very opinionated. Zhug is nothing short of these things. I will never forget the first time I ate Zhug or Yemenite salsa. Shortly after I met my husband I was invited to a family lunch where I was served a beautiful bowl of Yemenite chicken soup with a side of red rice. I was offered a pretty green salsa like substance with a name that I still have trouble pronouncing with the right flare. I timidly took a spoonful and added it to my soup like my then boyfriend did. The soup on its own was quite nice but it was divine with the addition of the Zhug. The Zhug gave the soup a spicy garlicky finish. It was the best bowl of chicken soup I have ever eaten. Since then I have eaten Zhug with everything from eggs to burgers. My husband's eyes always light up when he sees there is Zhug about. I used to rely on my mother-in-law to keep us supplied but with her poor health I have begun making it for my family. Someday I hope my daughter will become the family Zhug maker.

Yemenite Zhug

What you need:

4 jalapeno peppers, seeded
4-6 garlic cloves, if you like a lot of garlic add more
1 bunch cilantro
salt to taste

Less spicy

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded
4 garlic cloves
2 bunches cilantro
salt to taste

How to do it:

Toss everything in the food processor and whirl until you get a vibrant green thick salsa like substance. Add salt to taste. Store in a glass jar. It should last several weeks in the fridge.

Zhug is great with eggs, burgers, chicken, roast beef, added into bone broths or soups. You could even serve a little on top of an avocado. Use your imagination! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Temecula Olive Oil Company

Raise your hand if you like drinking olive oil shots? You don't? Really. Why not? Oh, it's because you have never had olive oil good enough to drink. Shame. Most people have that problem. I did, dear reader, I did. When I visited the Temecula Olive Oil company several months ago the thought of taking a gulp of plain olive oil was anything but attractive. Being the adventurous type and surrounded by my wine drinking buddies I had to try. I am the wine drinking buddy wrangler and had managed to watch my friends drink who knows how many glasses of wine over one weekend in the Temecula Wine Country. I felt left out. So when we ventured into Temecula Olive Oil I had to... well.. drink something.. you know to prove my womanhood or something like that. I discovered in that first sip of pure olive oil that olives are truly amazing little fruits that can produce smooth flavorful oils that don't have a bitter aftertaste.

Keep in mind that the olives used are all California grown and the balsamic is made in house. Everything is fresh and delicious.  I left that first day with a very large and heavy bag of oil and vinegar and big huge happy grin on my face. Because you know stuff like olive oil makes me all twitterpated and giddy.

Since that fateful afternoon we have been back three times. Today we were fortunate enough to try the Temecula Valley blend and the Pecante Pepper. The Temecula Valley blend is very earthy with a hint of heat. This oil is produced from the winter harvest and has very different qualities from your typical olive oil. The Pecante Pepper is made with crushed jalapeno peppers. When I first tried it I assumed I was in for something hot and painful. Instead I was met with the crisp taste of green bell pepper followed by a little heat. The lovely lady who served us our oil suggested the Pecante for coleslaw. I adore cabbage and slaws so I had to bring the Pecante home. We also purchased the Rotture di Oro based on the recommendation of our daughter. The Rotture has a excellent herby finish. It is how olive oil should taste.  I can't wait to use these amazing oils on my salads and warm vegetables.

We also brought home some of the amazing Vanilla/Fig balsamic and my personal favorite the California Honey. I use the vinegars on all my salads and I even use the California honey when I make meringue.

Today's purchases...

You can purchase these and many other incredible olive oils from the Temecula Olive Oil Company at They ship all over and are well worth the price. If you join their club you get 10% off every time you order and will receive olive oil shipments to your home four times a year.  I finally joined and can't wait for my first box to arrive.

They also make amazing soap!!