Sunday, December 26, 2010

Foodland Dreamworld

Merguez Sausage
Originally uploaded by CaptainShen
I've always been a little on the adventurous side of the kitchen, in comparison to most people I know. I find myself most at home in asian markets, and as such, have always had access to 'exotic' produce and exciting flavors.

Recently, however, I've been ebbing ever-so-quietly toward the vast craggy canyons of culinary dreamworld. I excitedly bought up parsley root and let it shine in Stir-Fry Day's (Dec 25th) giant stir-fry. I nibbled on Parmesan crisps-- not exotic in the least, but certainly delicious and reasonably uncommon-- and savored three types of caviar* (Yukon Gold Salmon, Golden Whitefish, and American Sturgeon) with litlte spoonfulls of crème fraiche. Into my lunchbox I have tossed, without a thought, everything from ahi sashimi nori rolls to Kabocha-Tuna Salad (made with homemade mayonnaise). Raw Cocoa nibs with coconut flakes, cinnamon, and black pepper are a regular snack for me.

I say all this not to idiotically commend myself for my uniqueness, but to highlight the fact that in this world (uh, country?) of unending pressures for ease and quickness, a person in my situation might come to realize something. Inevitably, this would go one of two ways: I would retract, snap-quick, into a swirling pit of fruit-loops and hot-dogs, never to touch a well-seasoned iron skillet or a jar of coconut oil again, or: something phenomenal would happen. I would stand in my kitchen, laugh maniacally, and sear the underbelly of wonderment on an open flame (while Super Saiyan).

The latter occurred.

But lets back up, shall we? It began this evening-- nay, December 24th, even-- when I saw two unnassuming, unfamiliar little figures lying in the glorious Whole Foods meat case. A variety of the in-house sausages... unknown to me. This cannot be. I have scoured the world for a good sausage, something without sugar and that didn't taste solely of salt and unidentifiable (unmentionable?) things. And there it sat like a humble little prince: Mergeza Lamb Sausage. Ingredients? Lamb, Paprika, Cumin, Chili, Sea Salt, Garlic, Natural Pork Casing. Mergeza...?? I did not know what this was, and that was unacceptable. I bought it (5.99 a pound.. I paid 2.40 for a single sausage! Mumble) and let it wait anxiously in my fridge for a bit.

Back to tonight. I went on my monthly trip to Super H-Mart, a large Korean market about 30 minutes from me. That isn't too far, but commuting an hour to and from work leaves you with not-so-much of an urge to drive elsewhere. When I got to H-Mart, there was a large light up sign suspended in the sky above the store, that read: "CAUTION: ALL OF YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS AWAIT*". I grabbed a cart and went inside. This is where the magic happened. I bought not many things, not individually so unique at all, but my heart went all a-flutter for each of the little treasures that I found. Into the cart went a lotus root, a banana leaf flower, powdered coconut milk, seaweed salad, very good shirataki noodles, oyster mushrooms, tomatillos, okinawan sweet potatoes, guavas, and Grey Squash (or so I thought).
I came home and fried a few thin slices of lotus root to try. Awesome. I then did some internet digging on the Mergeza sausage and found it by another name, Merguez, to be a Tunasian sausage. I prodded a bit deeper and found other dishes, such as Mechuoia and Les Ojja. I didn't make them, but I did take inspiration from their ingredients. I stir-fried garlic and slivered purple onion in a pan with red bell-peppers. I began to batonnet my Grey Squash (if you must know) and was shocked to find myself staring at what looked like a neon cucumber. I bit it. It tasted like a neon cucumber! Was it a Grey squash? Was it a Korean Cucumber, which I recalled being adjacent to the former? The world may never know. Anyhow, in went wedged tomatoes as well. Finally, to top it off, I scrambled an egg into the mix.

I had removed the Merguez sausage from the broiler by this point and sliced carefully into it, revealing the most gorgeus paprika-fire imaginable. I don't know how to describe the beauty of it, but I can tell you that I used to own white dish-towels and now I own orange dish-towels. After tasting a slice of the best sausage that I have EVER had (like some kind of mash-up of a regal chorizo and a refined corned-beef hash, taken to the next level by the complexity of lamb), I decided that a creamy slice of avocado would be a nice addition to cool it down.

How was this meal, you ask?

I mean, did you see the length of the post that it inspired?

*Despite the price (and expectation) that comes with American Sturgeon, I liked the oily burst of the Salmon the best.

*It did not actually say this. It also did not exist.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

松風 Chicken

松風 Chicken
Originally uploaded by CaptainShen
Japan has had a huge impact on my life. I have studied the language since I was 12 years old in 7th grade, and met a penpal that I have kept in touch with for at least a decade now. Japanese elements were always in my young life-- and I ended up getting a minor in the language.

Anyhow, if you've known me for a very long time, you might know that my experiments in cooking began, long ago, with teriyaki salmon. It was delicious, at the time, and probably about half sugar and the other half salt-- but my friends and family tended to love it. Even this blog began as a sort of 'bento' blog (I still do use my boxes), and yet, I've strayed far from Japanese style cooking. I began poking around, recently, at a blog called Tess's Japanese Kitchen, and upon finding the Matsu Kaze Chicken, I was completely re-inspired and went out and bought the things to make it. What a delicious sounding name-- Wind In The Pines!

So, with my own 'primal' adjustments (as well as a culinary one or two), I made this. Please check out that blog-- there are MANY exciting, amazing recipes (check out the Minty Carrot Tsukemono!) that I want to take inspiration from and make. For the most part, they are easily primalized.


I omitted the sugar, used Coconut Shoyu (that is what I have come to call it-- it is Coconut Secret's Aminos) in place of Shoyu, and used only a teensy pinch of salt. My topping (where on earth do you find white poppyseed??) was a mixture of black poppyseeds and white toasted sesame, as well as an addition that I thought sounded delightful-- crushed Juniper Berries!

I also added to the chicken mixture white pepper. Oh yeah-- and as the original poster mentioned-- I was also generous with the ginger juice!

When I baked the chicken I left it covered for 15 minutes and uncovered it for the last 15, heeding the warning of 'dryness' found in that post's comments.

I served it on spinach and wakame tossed with the same topping tha the chicken got and green onion as well as a drizzle of sesame oil and coconut shoyu. On the side was thinly sliced sweet potatoes sauteed with green onion, onion, coconut shoyu, and cinnamon. This was very delicious and VERY filling. It'll be stellar on salad cold, I'm sure.

I used a bit too much egg white on top and it ended up looking like cooked egg, but was still delicious.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Challenge Dinner

Challenge Dinner
Originally uploaded by CaptainShen
This is my submission for the third (I think) challenge at Mark's Daily Apple. The challenge involved making dinner and taking a picture of it. As you know, I have trouble taking pictures of my food, but I seem to have just made it over my phobia in order to share.

"What is it? How can I do that?!"

Is the previous statement the exact same thing you uttered upon seeing this masterpiece? Well, then boy howdy. You'd better read on.

Summer Evening Salmon
Baked Salmon with Thyme, Basil, Dill, and Lemon Butter
Sauteed spinach
Rainbow Jiconut Salads*

First, procure an ultra-mini STAUB Cocotte. From where, I don't know. I would tell you that a regular ramekin will do, but that is a straight lie, for this recipe will simply fail if this exact proportion of awesome and adorable is not present.

Now that you've got your ultra-mini STAUB Cocotte (don't ask me how to say that), spoon about a tablespoon of butter into it. I was lucky enough to still have some real "Mountain Butter," churned by some farmers or somesuch in Georgia, from last time I was in Georgia at the farmers market. Anyway. Turn the oven to 200 and put the little Cocotte guy into the stove while it preheats. You could get your baking pan out, rinse and dry your salmon, hang a tire-swing, whatever. In a moment, it will have melted, and you should remove it and let the oven finish doing its preheating thing.

Chop up herbs. So many of them. I used basil and thyme that I was growing, as well as a little heap of dried dill. Spoon them into the butter, squeeze in some lemon, and go to your little baking pan. Drizzle the melted butter over the entire salmon fillet, top and bottom, so that it has a nice thin coating. Put the salmon into the oven (inside the pan, dummy) and shut that door. Look at the clock and mathmatically calculate what time it will be forty minutes from now.

Put the rest of the little butter Cocotte into the refrigerator. Now, go type your post about the meal and then sautee your spinach. Thats easy, man. 1/8 a finely chopped onion, sauteed in bacon dripping (with thyme, to match it to the salmon), then add the spinach leaves and move them around until they wilt.

Serve the salmon with the Herb Butter, spinach, and Rainbow-Jiconut Salads*.

Delight in your genius!

*Recipe soon to come.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Challenge

I can confidently say that every single one* of my dedicated readers knows that this is going on.

You should definitely join up-- its a BLAST and you'll eat like a warrior and play like a kid!

*I can confidently say that every single one of my dedicated readers knows about this because I believe my only dedicated reader is my mother.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bison Horns

Cut open for you to see.
Though you'd never believe it, sometimes, when it comes to dinner, I'm very uninspired. Sometimes its just going through the motions to make your stomach quiet down.

But sometimes, a meal just makes your heart sing. Sometimes you create a masterpiece so magnificent that you strap on your brand new pair of TrekSports*, climb atop your roof, thrust your fists into the sunset clouds hanging in the air above, and shout "I LOVE THE GRILL FAR MORE THAN I HAVE EVER LOVED ANY SENTIENT BEING!"

Despite working in a lovely store that I am very proud of, I often get tired of the manufactured 'hype' surrounding any one product. One week its one feature, the next week it is forgotten for a thing. However, when Hatch peppers come into season in Texas, I can't help but get all giddy. So there I was, bumping into everything with my pushing my awkwardly shaped cart through a crowded grocery store in Fort Worth, Hatch pepper riding in the upper basket toward its destiny. I bought many things. Many strange things. I hadn't been in that store in a long time, and everything seemed to pique my interest and weasel into my cart. They had Elk! ($33.99, though, so I looked at it longingly and moved on.) Everyone was quite nice in that store, but I gotta say, I hate the way they package your seafood and meat. I despise plastic bags-- and these were not just ordinary 'annoying-level' plastic bags, these were the 'contaminated-by-raw-something-so-that-you-may-never-reuse-or-recycle-them-level' plastic bags.

I digress. Are you still here? Awesome. Because this is going to get good, fast.

Skip forward. I am home, and I have brought home ground bison and my little hatch, and a shallot. I already had cheddar & goat cheese in my refrigerator, as well as some garlic. I told you-- this is going to get good, fast.

Bison Horns Ingredients

Bison Horns
Hatch Pepper ... 2
Ground Bison ... 1/4 lb
Shallot ... 1/2 small, minced
Goat Cheese ... 1/2 TB
Cheddar Cheese ... some, chopped
Garlic ... 1 or 2 cloves, chopped
Butter ... just a bit, melted (or soft enough to smear)

Cut the tops off of the hatch peppers and use a spoon to get the cores and seeds out. You can choose mild or hot peppers-- I chose mild.

Mix the rest of the ingredients and massage with hands until well incorporated. Cilantro and black pepper are also good in there.

Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture. I used a chopstick to make sure it got all the way into the bottom! Coat the outside of the pepper in butter (real, yeah?) and wrall them up (I just made that up, wrap/roll. I'm so creative I'm going to pass out) to make sure they're really well sealed! Hang on... do this next thing too.
Grilled Veggie Mix
Green Beans ... 2 or 3 cups, clipped and cut in half
Okra ... 2 cups, sliced long and short ways
Tomato ... 1 large, chunked
Garlic ... 3 cloves, minced
Butter ... 1 tsp-1 TB, cold, chopped

Put them all on a foil sheet and sprinkle the tiny butter chunks in there. Crack black pepper all over the top. Wrap it up in the foil and seal it really well, then wrap again, then wrap again. Three times, the wrapping. OK, now where were we?
An Den?

You put your grill on medium or medium-low and you lay these foil packets on there. Cover the grill. I don't have cover, so I put foil over the whole thing... its a bit funny. Leave'um for 8-10 minutes. (10 mo bettah) Now, flip them, then leave them for another 8-10 nervous (maybe you think the first 10 minutes was too much and do 8 this time). Gingerly remove the foil packets, don't pierce them now, and leave them in a casserole pan or something to cool. I don't care where you put them. Get something good and cold to drink and clean up.

Now, break the foil and pull these guys open so excitedly. The smell leaking out of the veggie packet made, yeah, me weak in the knees. Good heaven almighty. Holy culinary amalgamation. Sweet baby Zorak. This is powerful good. I almost ate the entire packet of veg alone... and then is the bison horn. You know what? No descripción. You eat it.

Lets eat?!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pancetta Fancy Shrimp & Paprika Artichoke Hearts

Pancetta Fancy Shrimp
Originally uploaded by CaptainShen
On the dawn of my graduation, I found myself in the mood for an entirely planned, carefully contemplated, totally 'fancy' dinner. Of course, being that I was indeed upon the dawn of my graduation, I did have reports and things to do. So, it became a fancy lunch. But it was meticulously thought through, I promise. I delighted in making it for a friend and myself.

Fancy Shrimp
10 Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Pancetta (rolled type), 5 slices
Goat Cheese, a bit
Avocado, Sliced small
Horseradish root
Ground Black Pepper

These guys are very simple. More of the process can be seen on the flickr at the other end of that link, there.

Slice the pancetta peices in half. Spread some goat cheese on-- I just took a pinch with my fingers to warm and soften it, then smeared it a little. Lay down a shrimp right up beside a slice of avocado and roll him up in there, together, all snug. Oh my goodness, you're done. You quick thing, you.

Broil or grill the fancy buggahs until crisp or done, then top with fresh ground black peppercorns and freshly grated horseradish (seriously, go get a root and grate it!).

The artichoke hearts were simiple from a can (what?! I can only be so fancy at one time, on the dawn and all!), tossed with paprika, and grilled and broiled with the shrimps. Try topping them with good butter-- I didn't, I had already eaten them.

Have a happy dinner!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hakusan Fancy Drink : Creamy and Sparkling

Hakusan Fancy Drink
Originally uploaded by CaptainShen
Simple drink. Truly, all you need to do is pour about a tablespoon of heavy cream into the bottom of a glass and pour sparkling water over it.

I usually drop in flavors of liquid stevia (like English Toffee).

This one was chocolate raspberry flavored with a frozen strawberry dropped in :).

Life is good, sometimes, from such simple delicacies!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Beef Bacon Review...

I just tried Beef bacon for the first time. Pretty good-- I couldn't get it to crisp up like pork, though.

Imagine Beef Jerky falling in love with Pork Bacon on a post-breakfast hike. Thats what this is like. Their delicious love child.

Its great as an ingredient (in stir fry, or like tonight, in my creamed spinach) but its a different thing than bacon... pork bacon still has its old crispy place in my heart.

Seriously though, two bacon posts in a row? A bit excessive, methinks.

...then again, if beef bacon is indeed a different thing...

In other news, I have recently tried Heavy Cream. I expected so much from it-- I expected glory in a spoon-- but really was let down. Until, that is, I tried creamed spinach-- and sparkling water with cream and vanilla stevia drops.

And I'd like to note that I feel I should apologize somewhat for the abrupt 'change' that this place has undertaken-- but I didn't feel that I should write it all off and start a new blog. My life has changed (as has my eating life) in a very real, very purposeful way, and I was inspired again to share the things that I discover and believe in. Come with me, yeah?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Awesome Morsels

Awesome Morsels
Originally uploaded by CaptainShen
Prepare this.

I used:

1 scallop
2 chicken livers
3 Slices of bacon
3 Chunks Avocado
Rosemary Avocado Oil Mayonnaise

I soaked toothpicks in water for around 30 minutes while I went to the store, then came home and wrapped each meat morsel with a drizzle of wasabi (I mixed the powder so that it was thin) and an avocado.

I thin made a big flaming show of the grill outside and pulled the little morsels off, then feverishly looked for my camera and used my mayo as a little topping.

Bask in the glory of the awesome morsels!

Friday, July 9, 2010

FINALLY! Good Mayo.

I've made quite a few bad batches of mayonnaise, ever since learning to embrace fats. I was excited to have mayonnaise again-- 'real' deviled eggs and tuna salad seemed like an amazing prospect to me. However, as I think soybean oil, canola, and other various processed seed oils are kinda, you know, poison, I decided I'd make my own. I own great olive oils, right now being a Nazareth and Canaan (hahaha, well, thats kind of funny now that I realize it) and they made absolutely nasty mayonnaise. I was at a loss-- I love lemon. I love olive oil. I love egg! They emulsified themselves into an epically bad spread that made me sad. However! Tonight, I have done it.

I wanted to use avocado oil, but the only avocado oil I had was infused with rosemary. Well, boy howdy. Not such a bad problem to have, I thought. However, mayonnaising seemed to bring out the worst in my oils thus far, so all I could do was try...

And this is the tale of what I did.
1 egg yolk
1 TB white vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp stevia
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
I guess people have a lot of trouble with 'breaking' their mayonnaise. I've made it (even if it wasn't that great in the past) many times and have never had a problem. I have a teensy tiny mini red food processor (Farberware, looks like they don't make them anymore) that has dips in the lid for a grip, and in the bottom of that dip, there is a tiny air hole. I simply pour the oil into the finger-dips and let the air hole drip it in. Its a long process, but it works perfectly. So, I put all of the first ingredients in, gave it a pulse, and let it sit for a moment (because I thought the mustard needed to develop or something). After that, I just poured oil into the little well and let it go until the concoction 'felt' mayonnaisey.

AND IT WAS GOOD! Wonder of wonders. Now, for some salmon salad...


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


For one month, I have decided to go without eating nuts. Or nut butters. This comes from the ridiculous amount of which I overeat them. I started yesterday, and I find myself hungrily wandering into the kitchen to find them, but alas-- I have bagged and frozen them.

Anyhow, in my nut-free wanderings, I needed a good little snack, and I came up with something... genius.


Thats right. Celery. Plus homemade mayonnaise (olive oil and lemon-- though next time I'll use vinegar) and tiny cubed bison steak.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cold Coconut Chicken Tamales

This is a primal recipe-- no grain (masa) used! The texture of coconut flour lends itself perfectly to cornmeal/masa recipes. I needed a car/finger food for my 20 hour drive to Georgia and tamales sounded so, so good. I worked hard to develop this recipe. They're GREAT cold and the texture is just dreamy. However, the process is VERY involved, as tamales are famous for. So, set aside a few days and get the big kitchenware out. Be prepared to be amazed.

Note: I hardly ever add salt, but it was needed in certain areas of this recipe. I used fine himalayan pink salt for this one.

Butter ... for browning
Garlic ... 4 or 5 cloves
Onion ... 1/2 of a huge one or 1 whole regular
Whole chicken ... Just one
Brown a whole chicken in a large stock pot with butter. Add Garlic and onion.

Boil the buggah for like 2 hours, maybe more. It should faaaall apart when you grab it with tongs. Let it cool right there in the stock, after you turn off the stove. When it is cool enough, put the whole thing in the fridge. Take it out the next day and skim off the fat, then remove the chicken. Shred the meat, you don't need the skin or bones anymore (but you can save them for soup and whatnot. I don't know, you have freedom to do whatever you like, I don't mind)
Put that chicken meat in a biiig mixing bowl and shred it like mad!
Coconut oil ... 1/2 Cup
Chili Powder ... 3 TB
Cumin ... 3 TB
Garlic Powder ... 3 TB
Black Pepper ... 1.5 TB
White Pepper ... 1.5 TB
Salt ... 2 TSP
Red Bell Pepper ... 1/2 of one, diced EXTRA tiny
Green Onions ... 2 stalks, thinly sliced (including white)
Unsweet Coconut Shreds 1/2 cup

Warm the first set of ingredients in a pot on the stove simply to wake up the spices with the oil and then add Red Bell Pepper and Green Onions until the green onions are JUST softening, then turn it off and add salt. Add this to the shredded chicken and knead with your hands (Uh, make sure its cool enough, dude). Knead it some more. It should be brilliantly colored and taste AWESOME. But it should be REALLY well mixed. Don't do anything with the coconut shreds yet.

Coconut Flour ... 2 Cups
Eggs ... 3
Paprika ... 1.5 TB
Salt ... 2 TSP
Cumin ... 1 TB
Chili Powder ... 1.5 TB
Garlic Powder ... 1.5 TB
Coconut Oil ... As Needed (I started with 3/4 cup and went from there)
Chicken Stock ... Some

Knead all together. Add chicken stock if you need to, I believe I ended up using about 1/2 a cup. Knead it like mad! Knead it more than you did the chicken. This is going to take a while, and also be kind of an organic process, by which I mean you'll add more coconut flour, more coconut oil, a bit more chicken stock, until you believe it is JUST right and enough. It should be doughey-sticky. This didn't work at ALL for me until I added my 3rd egg (I started with 2) so don't be afraid to add more eggs, either.


Originally, I was using Ti Leaves to wrap these guys, but my plant didn't produce enough large ones. I'm sure you'd be OK using corn husks (though, they need soaking in advance, I think) but I used FOIL and it worked just fine. I may have felt less cool, but they worked great. Just lay a little rectangle of foil down, greased (I used coconut oil spray... mmm). Then, spoon the dough down and spread it with the back of the spoon. I had never done this before, but I grew up making sushi and stuffs, so I used a sushi roller under the foil and that method. Lay a beautiful layer of chicken down (not all the way to the edges) and-- hey, remember the coconut shreds from up the page?-- Add a line of coconut shreds to the center of the chicken! Now, roll this up and peek in to make sure the dough seals all around, then fold it up and set it aside! Everyone will probably catch on to their own method of rolling these guys after 3 or 4 tamals. Thats it! I made lots of tiny ones and a couple big ones.

When you are done, steam them. They're "supposed" to all be on end in a big steamer, but I didn't have that kind of space, so I just laid mine in my chinese steamer inside of a huge pot. They were a magnificent mound. Steaming takes far longer than I thought it one-- I think it was an hour or more-- but I just kept checking the tamales. They're done when you can peel the foil away from the tamale without it crumbling.

I froze these and took them on my trip-- they worked magnificently! Eat them nice and cold (but thawed) a dipped in Greek Yogurt and Guacamole! ENJOY!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Eons, Changes (and Trout)

I suppose a lot of time has passed! I'm still eating, and I just made something totally blog-worthy. I have got to tell you though, I have changed the way that I eat. I realized that I wasn't getting sufficient fats in my diet and that I felt sluggish and tired every time I ate grain, so I began eating in the way Mark Sisson outlines on I started this a little while back-- I'm not sure when, exactly, but I feel great.

Anyhow, I'm calling this amazing meal the World-Isn't-Ready-Yet Trout (Wiry trout? Hmmm...) because it was so good that I couldn't take a picture and post it, for that very reason. It is VERY easy. I had some wild steelhead trout (1oogm) and when I had previously grilled it, it was.... good... but just wasn't 'there' for me. I grabbed a little spice bag of 'Fiesta Mixed Spice' and my mortar and pestle, as the spices were whole (looks like fennel, cumin, peppercorns... I don't know what else). I ground up about 2 TB and then added in a half clove of garlic, mashed that in, added a small squeeze of lemon juice (from a lemon that thought it was already spent), and then last of all I added enough coconut oil to give it a kind of more 'pesto' texture. I gave the fillet (flesh up, skin down) a small drizzle of olive oil (because I'd be cooking it, you know, and that destroys it...) and basically just covered the flesh in the 'spice paste.' I stuck it in a container in the fridge and it was there for two days before I decided to use it.

Seeing as it was a rainy day, I couldn't grill, so I used the stovetop for the first time in ages. I don't have a skillet so I used a pot and got it nice and preheated. I then took the fish (without greasing the pan, because I knew there was plenty of oil in the spices) and dropped it in, flesh & spices down. I let it sear for a good while and get nice and black before flipping it and leaving it until it was done.

A fantastic bowl of romaine, green onion, avocado, pine nuts, fresh cilantro, green bell pepper, and the worlds teensiest cherry tomatoes was being prepared. Topped with olive oil, it was ready for the trout... and as I slid the trout from the pan onto the salad, sweet glorious beams of heavenly light hit me in the face and knocked me on my back. When I awoke, I consumed the best trout ever.