Thai Beef Curry

Don’t forget to enter to win Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals cookbook!  Giveaway ends Saturday, April 2 at midnight!

Have I ever mentioned Asian is my favorite cuisine?

I think I may have a hundred time or two.

I especially love Thai food, and I miss things like pad thai and pad kee mow. *sigh*  Well, that’s okay; I also love Thai curries, and usually the spicier the better.  And fortunately, if you remove the nutritionally void white rice from the dish, Thai curries are marvelously healthy and pretty low in carbohydrates.

I’ve posted a couple of curry recipes before – one with chicken and one with fish – and here I offer a heartier one with beef.  I won’t lie – it takes a while to cook, but it is so worth it.  The spiciness of the curry paste is perfectly complimented by the sweetness of the coconut milk, the saltiness of the fish sauce (please – find one without any added sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup) and the silky texture of the beef, which is first fried then simmered.

Yum-o, y’all.

Serve it with steamed jasmine rice if you want – or, as I did, grated cauliflower sauteed in a little coconut oil with finely chopped onions and garlic.

Note: The evaporated cane juice/sugar is completely optional; I’ve found the longer I go without sugar, aside from the occasional dish made with a little honey or maple syrup, the more sweet things taste to me.  For me, the coconut milk provided just enough sweetness, but use your own judgement.

Thai Beef Curry

Thai Beef Curry

serves 6

1 1/2 pounds bottom round steak, cut into strips
1 tablespoon beef tallow
1/2 cup finely-chopped onion
1 tablespoon curry paste
2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
1 can coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons evaporated cane juice, or sugar (optional)
1 cup spinach leaves
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat until it until it begins to smoke. Add the tallow and heat for about a minute; add the beef. Cook, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes; the fat will become cloudy with the moisture from the beef. Keep cooking and stirring until the moisture evaporates and the fat becomes clear again and the meat sizzles and browns.

Add sliced onion; stir-fry until soft and beginning to brown, another 2 or 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Add curry paste; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add coconut milk, beef stock, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until the beef is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Uncover and add the spinach; stir until it is wilted.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with the chopped tomato and cilantro.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

A Fruity Little Rant

Don’t forget to enter to win Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals cookbook!  Giveaway ends Saturday, April 2 at midnight!

My food photographs keep getting rejected by Tastespotting.  That they keep rejecting me for things like “lighting” and “composition” wouldn’t be nearly so irritating if I didn’t keep seeing photos on the front page of their site like this:

 

Avocado Donuts

And This:

 

Fruit Leather

Lighting?  Composition?  We’ll even ignore how incredibly disgusting an avocado donut sounds.  But it’s burning my behind a little that pictures like the above are given a green light, when the following of mine (and they aren’t the first) have all been rejected:

 

Honey Ginger Scallops

 

Mayonnaise

 

Huevos Diablos

So, yeah – I’m a little peeved.  Don’t get me wrong – 99% of what ends up on Tastespotting is just delectable-looking, and I often end up admiring the composition and lighting of pictures of food I’d never eat in a million years.  I’m also the first person in the world to admit that I am NOT a professional food photographer and have tons more to learn about it.  But will someone please tell me what is so great about the lighting and/or composition of those first two photos that make mine inferior?  I simply don’t understand it.

Meh.

Well, since I’m apparently the world’s biggest masochist, I’ve submitted yet another photo: yesterday’s Tortilla Espanola.  And if that gets rejected, I’ll submit again because in addition to being the world’s biggest masochist, I’m also fucking stubborn.  The next photo, whether my Tortilla Espanola is accepted or not, will be this, which I took exclusively for this week’s You Capture – the subject is ” Vibrance.”

 

Vibrant Fruit

It’s not The G Man’s bright blue eyes, nor the tulips in our garden that are growing but have not yet bloomed.  It is, however, a photo that I am particularly proud of – in terms of color, composition and lighting.  It reminds me of something I knew when I decorated cakes for a living – I have an eye for this sort of thing, and the more I practice, the better I get.

So just keep on turning me down, Tastespotting.  I’ll get on your front page yet.

Tortilla Espanola

Don’t forget to enter to win Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals cookbook!  Giveaway ends Saturday, April 2 at midnight!

As a household, we really love eggs.  Which is a good thing, because we eat a lot of them.  I mean a LOT – between the three of us, we go through 3 to 4 dozen eggs a week.  There was a time, somewhere around the time I turned 18,  when the medical community would have thrown their hands up in horror and issued dire warnings about how we are all going to drop dead of a cholesterol-induced episode reminiscent of Uma Thurman performing the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique on David Carradine in Kill Bill 2.

Fortunately, that is (mostly) no longer the case, and eggs have had their reputation restored as an excellent source of nutrition.  Eggs are rich in B vitamins, particularly B12, as well as riboflavin, choline and vitamins A and D.   Eggs are great sources of minerals including selenium and phosphorus and, if the hens are fed the correct diet (pastured, folks, pastured!) they are also an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids.  And they’re versatile!  They can be fried, basted, poached, hard boiled, soft boiled, scrambled, baked, shirred or whipped.  They can be made into omelets, frittatas, souffles, quiches, stratas, casseroles and custards.

Or they can be made into this.

In the United States, a Spanish omelet is typically a rolled omelet filled with peppers and tomato; however, an authentic version is flat, thick and filled with onions and potatoes.  Tortilla means “little cake” but this tortilla has nothing to do with the wheat or corn versions common to central and south America.  I don’t eat white potatoes any longer, but if you’d prefer to use them I recommend Yukon golds – they are just so wonderful and buttery tasting.  Mine also didn’t come out very thick – use a 12″ skillet; if you’d like yours thicker, use a 10″ or smaller.  Also, strictly speaking, the tortilla should be flipped and finished on the stove top – mine is run under the broiler of the oven, just to keep things a little simpler.

At any rate, this is a delicious egg dish to add to your repertoire.

And while the recipe says it serves 6, that’s only if Beloved isn’t one of the people it’s feeding.  In that case, it serves “Beloved, with a slice for Jan.”

Note: this can easily be made dairy free by using a different fat, such as bacon fat or coconut oil, instead of the clarified butter/ghee.

Tortilla Espanola

Tortilla Espanola

serves 6

4 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee, divided
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and very thinly sliced
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Melt 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter in a heavy, ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onions are soft and golden, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until soft and golden. Remove the onions to a plate and set aside.

While the onions are cooking, bring a quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Carefully place the sweet potato slices in the water and return to a boil. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender; drain the potatoes in colander and run cold water over them, to stop the cooking process.

Melt the remaining two tablespoons of clarified butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Place the sweet potato slices in a single layer, covering the bottom of the skillet. Spread the caramelized onions evenly over the potatoes. Lower the heat to medium.

Whisk the eggs together with the salt and pepper; pour them over the sweet potato and onion in the skillet. Cover and cook, checking frequently, until the eggs are set on the bottom. Run a thin, flexible spatula around the perimeter of the dish, sliding it underneath the tortilla, to ensure it is not sticking.

Place the skillet 3 to 4 inches beneath the oven broiler, set to high, and cook for an additional minute or two, until the tortilla becomes golden brown and puffy.

Remove from the oven and allow the tortilla to rest for a moment; it will deflate slightly. Cut into wedges, garnish with salsa if desired, and serve.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Win an Autographed Copy of Mark Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals” Cookbook!

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love and collect cookbooks; a conservative estimate would put my collection at over 200 books.  I tend to buy them indiscriminately – you never know what kind of recipes/information you’ll find in them.  I love to sit, curled up on the sofa, with a nice cup of coffee (or tasty cocktail) and thumb through them, reading introductions, studying ingredients, picking apart procedures, and drooling over photos.  It is truly one of the great pleasures of my life.

So it may come as no surprise that I was absolutely thrilled when Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple recently announced his new cookbook Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals.  I was even more tickled when I saw that the first 1,000 copies were to be autographed, and before I knew it I was in possession of not one, not two, but three autographed copies of this lovely volume.

Because I’m quick with a credit card special like that.*

It’s an absolutely beautiful book with well over 100 primal/paleo/low carb/grain free/gluten free/dairy free – and anything but boring – recipes, accompanied by more than 300 full-color, mouthwatering photographs and complete macronutrient information.  The section on dry rubs alone makes it worth owning, but it contains so much more.  The book is broken down into six sections – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Appetizers and Snacks, Sauces and Toppings, and the marvelous Rubs section.

Front to back, it does an exquisite job of proving that a primal/paleo/low carb/grain free/gluten free/dairy free diet is in no way restrictive.  From the Berry Crumble to the Tropical Avocado and Shrimp to the Pork Loin Salad with Date Vinaigrette to the Belgian Endive with Honey and Walnuts to the Spinach Horseradish Sauce to the Ancho Chile Cocoa Rub, the Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals cookbook is packed with recipes that promise delicious and nutritious meals that can be on your table in less than 30 minutes with a minimum of effort.

And did I mention that it comes with a reusable, laminated, comprehensive shopping list and a dry-erase marker?  Well, it does.

Out of the three volumes I purchased, one is staying with me and one is going to a good friend.  The third?  Goes to one lucky reader.  You have until midnight, Saturday April 2, 2011 to enter and win this gem of a cookbook.  The rules are more than simple – you get one entry into the contest for each of the following:

  1. Leave a comment stating why you’d like to win
  2. Subscribe to Jan’s Sushi Bar blog via RSS feed (button on the sidebar)
  3. Follow Jan’s Sushi Bar on Facebook via Networked Blogs (button on the sidebar)
  4. “Like” Jan’s Sushi Bar on Facebook (button on the sidebar)
  5. Follow Jan’s Sushi Bar on Twitter (button on the sidebar)
  6. Tweet about this contest
  7. Post about this contest on Facebook
  8. Subscribe to Jan’s Sushi Bar on the Kindle (counts as two entries, button on the sidebar)
  9. Blog about this contest and link back to Jan’s Sushi Bar (also counts as two entries)

To make it a little easier on all of us, and to ensure that you receive credit for each entry, either leave a comment letting me know how many entries you qualify for (including if you are already a subscriber or follower), or send me a message via the form on my contact page with the subject line “Cookbook Giveaway” (and yes, I can – and will – verify each and every entry).  This contest is also open to everyone, everywhere, regardless of geographic location, as long as each of the entry requirements is met.

Remember, you have until midnight, Saturday April 2, 2011 to enter.  The winner will be announced Monday, April 4, 2011.  Good luck and Grok On!!

*I was not given these books – I purchased them on my own; nor have I received any compensation for this giveaway.  I also contacted Mark Sisson and asked his permission to have this contest, which he graciously granted.

I’m Mad Cow As Hell, And I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore

Yesterday, we took possession of our second side of grass-finished beef.  I can’t even begin to list all of the cuts we got, but in addition to the roasts and steaks and brisket, we asked for and received the tallow, marrow bones, liver, tongue, kidney and heart.

Think about that for a minute:  The tallow.  The marrow bones.  The liver.  The tongue.  A kidney.  The heart.

What really burns me about this is that the kidney and heart should not be in the list.  You see, we wanted those organs added to our ground beef (at least 60 pounds worth).  Organ meats are incredibly nutrient dense, and as a rule Americans don’t eat enough of them.  I certainly understand why; with the exception of liver, which I happen to adore, the thought of cooking and eating a beef heart/tongue/kidney gives me pause – and I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to food.

When we went to Whitefeather Meats a couple of weeks ago to discuss the butchering of our side of beef (and have a good visit with the Perkins family, who are just the most wonderful people), we asked about adding the organ meats to the ground beef and were told the USDA doesn’t allow it.  I was a bit flabbergasted (to say nothing of disappointed) and didn’t think to ask why at the time.  A few days later, I contacted them and asked – and was told that since mad cow disease came to the United States in 2003, the USDA changed what was deemed “edible” and organ meats could no longer be mixed with muscle meat and fat in ground beef.

But they can vacuum pack the damn heart and kidney and give them to me to do with as I will, if I want them.  WTF???  I can eat them alone, but not mix them into our ground beef.  Oooookaaaaaay.

Not that any of this really makes any sense, but if the USDA is using mad cow disease as the excuse to no longer add organ meats to ground beef it makes even less sense.  Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), “is a fatal neurodegenerative disease in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord.”  A neurological disease, which is why the sale of cattle brains or any part of the spine is no longer allowed.  The heart is the main organ of the circulatory system, and kidneys are the main organs of the urinary system.

Now, having said that, while the disease itself may be most concentrated in the nervous tissue (most notably the brain and spine) of the animal, it can be found in virtually any organ in the body, including the blood.  So basically, if there were a threat of contracting mad cow disease from our animal,  the heart and kidneys aren’t any more of a danger than the Filet Mignon or the rump roast.  And if you’re still trying to figure out why it’s okay for me to cook and serve those organs alone, but not have them ground into the parts that serve as our hamburger, you’re not alone.

What really makes all of this even more frustrating is how cattle contract mad cow in the first place.  According to Wikipedia, “A British inquiry into BSE concluded that the epizootic was caused by cattle, who are normally herbivores, being fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat and bone meal (MBM), which caused the infectious agent to spread. There are studies indicating that the cause of BSE may be from the contamination of MBM from sheep with scrapie that were processed in the same slaughterhouse. The epidemic was probably accelerated by the recycling of infected bovine tissues prior to the recognition of BSE.”

So, basically cattle get mad cow by eating the remains and by-products of other animals. My cow was completely grass-fed.  Which means its chances of being contaminated with mad cow are basically…nil.  Nada.  Zip. Zilch.  Nothing.

After pondering this for awhile, I decided to ask the USDA why the heart and kidney from my personal cow, meant for my personal consumption, could not be mixed into my personal ground beef.  Have you ever tried to call the USDA?  Their “information hotline” is a joke – it’s only there if you want to know things like the internal temperature meat must be cooked to in order to be deemed “safe for consumption” or why so many people eat corned beef on St Patrick’s Day.  Oh, they’ll give you the same old song and dance about keeping meat safe if you ask them why organ meats cannot be included in ground beef, but offer no justification for why I cannot have it included if I wish in ground beef meant just for my personal consumption.

There is an extensive telephone directory on the website, if you know the name of the particular person you wish to speak to.  But a directory of actual departments?  Fat chance.  There is absolutely NO indication who might be the right person to speak with if you have a specific question.  There is an option to send an email to their “Ask The Expert” person.  So I did.

Twelve days ago.

I have received no answer.

We’re looking at meat grinders.  Anyone have a suggestion for a good one?

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday