Monday, 22 July 2013

Beef Penang

Disclaimer: I am not Malaysian and I don’t really know the difference between rendang and penang, so forgive me if this is not the correct one. Formalities done, let’s proceed.

I am a big fan of no-fuss cooking. Toss everything in a pot and leave. Come back to a mouth-watering dish. Sound about perfect!

Beef penang is just that: melt-in-the-mouth pieces of beef, infused with all the lovely flavours of galangal (Filipino: langkawas), coconut, lemongrass, chili and kaffir lime. All it requires is basic prep.

Cheap cuts work best for slow cooking. Shin of beef is ideal, as the tough, sinew-y flesh is guaranteed to turn moist and buttery. A trick for this recipe is to use pre-made red curry paste (no MSG, no E-numbers), and awaken the flavours by using fresh ingredients too. I used:

1.5 kg shin of beef, chunks/diced
2 tins coconut milk (no E-numbers please!), about 800mL
2 tbsps red curry paste
2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, bashed
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 pcs star anise
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp grated ginger
10 large fresh kaffir lime leaves, shredded
1 tsp cumin seeds
A bit of ghee / coconut oil
Fish sauce

1. Pre-heat oven to 140C.
2. In an oven-friendly pan, heat 2 tbsp ghee/oil on medium and fry the curry paste, garlic, ginger, cumin, lemongrass, cinnamon and star anise until fragrant. Make sure they do not burn.
3. Turn heat up, put the meat in and partially brown for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.
3. Pour in the coconut milk and stir. This should cover the meat. If not, top up with a little water. Heat up to boiling.
4. Cover and place in the oven, and let cook for about 3 hours.
5. Check the tenderness of meat and adjust seasoning with fish sauce.
6. Put back in for another 30 minutes or an hour.
7. Take out and stir in shredded lime leaves.
8. Serve on rice or lots of vegetables of your choice.

This keeps well in the fridge or freezer, and tastes so much better after a few days. If it lasts that long. ;)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Pulled Pork

I bet many have been wowed by the utter deliciousness of pulled pork sandwiches/wraps/buns. Juicy and flavourful with melt-in-the-mouth texture. Surely such complex creation can only be achieved by the select few gastronomic geniuses!?? Wrong.

Only two key things are needed: great ingredients and patience. The process is so forgiving; things do not have to be exact. Adjustments can be made. There is almost limitless room for error. A bonus for those who prefer to free-style in the kitchen (i.e., me). ;) You’ll need:

Around 2 kg pork shoulder off-the-bone (belly works fine too)
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 onions, roughly cut
2 tbsp tomato paste/puree
3 tsp sea salt (or less, you can always adjust at the end)
Lots of crushed black peppercorns
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Some dried bay leaves, maybe 4
Hot water

1. Pre-heat oven to 140C.
2. Mix everything (apart from the pork) in a pan that can accommodate the size of the pork using about a cup of water.
3. Place the pork in the pan skin side down, then top up with hot water until just about fully covered.
4. Cook in the oven for 2 hours. Turn the pork, skin side up for the remaining 2 hours just to give the skin a bit of colour.
5. Take the pork out and leave to cool.

6. Heat the cooking liquor until reduced. Test and play with the seasoning.
7. Once the pork has cooled, start ‘pulling’ using 2 forks.
8. Return to the liquor to re-absorb all the goodness.

9. Eat however you please.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Easy Spicy Beef Pieces

It’s been a long time coming. Apologies, apologies! Have been so busy with work, training and flat hunting.  The latter is exhausting and occasionally frustrating. Fingers crossed one with a good dining space is available and hopefully a paleo supperclub might just materialise!!! Still far out though.

Right, this beef nibble is so easy.  All you need is a larder staple: red curry paste. Just make sure it does not contain nasty stuff like MSG and added sugar --- check the label. You can use sirloin for the meat, but I found flat iron steak works just as good. Half the price, too. Here are all you need:

1 kg flat iron steak, cut into thick strips
1.5 tbsp red curry paste (or more)
2 tbsp cane vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 cloves grated garlic
1 inch grated ginger
1 tbsp honey (optional)

1. Mix the marinade and dunk the meat in. Leave for 30 minutes minimum, overnight ideally.
2. Pan-fry on very high heat for about 2 minutes each side depending on the size of your beef. I prefer mine a little bit pink. TIP: do not crowd the pan, otherwise, the meat will steam.

3. Eat with your favourite veggies.

You can have this any time of the day. Great for breakfast with avocado and plum tomatoes.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Honey/Chinese Spiced Pork Skewers

Inspired by a recent visit to SE Asia, this recipe uses street-food cooking and Chinese spices. Marinated thin slices of pork belly are skewered and simply grilled or barbequed. Easy-peasy, and a good breakfast idea too.


1 kg pork belly, sliced into thin pieces

For the marinade:
2 tbsps honey
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1. Mix the marinade and marinate the pork for at least 2 hours.
2. Soak the bamboo sticks in water for 30 minutes. This stops burning.
3. Skewer the meat. 
4. Grill on medium for about 5 minutes each side, basting with residual marinade with a little oil.
5. Devour. :)

Friday, 5 April 2013

Crispy Pork Belly

As you may have guessed already, we love pork at the Paleo Larder.  And many will agree that pork belly is the crowning glory of all swine cuts (beats tenderloin, anytime).

The mix of fat and muscle that melts in your mouth is just way too enticing. Then, there is the crackling. A bit tricky to get right, but when you do, it beats winning the Olympic gold. ;)

Most recipes will ask you to cook the meat at a really high setting in the oven then turn it down. We tried the opposite method over the weekend and it turned out ok actually. Better, actually. We think it is because the initial cooking at a lower temperature cooks the meat without burning or crisping, while driving out water. So when the temperature is ramped up, the skin crisps up nicely.

All you need is the best pork belly you can find (free-range, flown first class, went to Eaton, massaged, and had a facial J), oil and salt.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C fan.
2. Score the skin of the pork and dry with paper towels.  Rub with oil and season with salt all over.
3. Place in oven and cook for an hour, opening occasionally to let the steam out.  If water gathers in the pan, tip it out carefully.
4. After the hour, ramp the temp up to 180C for 20 minutes, then to 200C for another 20 minutes. Again, occasionally letting out steam.
5. Brush the skin with a little oil and season again. Grill under setting 2, or just one notch above the lowest.  At this stage, make sure that you keep an eye on it as it could burn.  If the skin burns before it crisps up (forms little bubbles), turn the setting down.  If it is taking ages, turn it up a bit.
6. Rest for 15 minutes or longer before carving.
7. Serve with lime, fish sauce and chilli dressing to cut through the richness.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Simple Brownies

These devilishly delicious brownies are so easy to make. Remove the chips if you want it strictly paleo as some chocolate chips use soy lecithin --- read the label. You may also add half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper if you are of the adventurous kind. ;)

1 cup almond flour
½ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt (remove if using salted butter)
Handful of dark chocolate chips (optional)

½ cup of melted coconut oil/ghee/butter or combination of any
½ cup of runny honey
3 whole eggs
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod (1 tsp extract is ok too)

1. Combine the dry ingredients (except for the chips) and set aside.
2. Beat the eggs, then add all the other liquids and whisk until the honey is dissolved.
3. Mix the liquid and dry ingredients.  This will be a bit runny.  Throw in some dark choc chips if you fancy.
4. Transfer into a greased 8x8 spring-form.
5. Bake at 175C (fan) for 20 minutes.  On the 20th minute, check by inserting a toothpick/fork into the brownie. If it comes out clean, it should be ok. If not, bake for a further 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Thoroughly cool before cutting. My cake rose at the centre while cooking but actually flattened out once it cooled. 

*Warning: may cause addiction.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Pork Scratchings / Pork Popcorn

Pork (and fat in general) has had a bad reputation. Saturated fat, cholesterol, blah blah blah --- the demonisation of this delicious meat has gone on forever and this has got to change.

O well, a few stuff I’ve read indicate that dietary fat does not directly affect the levels in your blood.   I’m not going to bore you with science bits but what I am trying to say is that pork is delish and not as bad as what it’s been purported to be.

This pork popcorn recipe was lifted from a Gordon Ramsay recipe.  The skin is cooked in two stages and is fool-proof.  You can use long strips of skin or, like me, some irregular diamond cuts as Waitrose already sells their pork scored!

What you only need is pork skin and salt.  If this is not available, take a slab of belly, slice the skin off, maybe around half a centimetre thick. You can use the remaining belly for other recipe.

Stage 1:

  • Generously salt both sides of the skin and wrap in paper towel and keep in the fridge for a day or two. The more dehydrated the skin becomes, the better.

  • When ready, slice the belly however you want it.

  • Heat a pan of oil over medium fire. Ramsay suggests 120C. I just waited about 5 minutes ;)

  • Cook the skin in the oil in batches for 8-10 minutes. Do no overcrowd.  If the temperature is fine, the skin should not blister.

Take out and drain.

Stage 2:

  • Turn the fire to high (or 190C).

  • Fry the pieces again for 2 to 3 minutes. This time they will blister.

Take out and drain.

Season and enjoy!

Word of caution: Hot oil is really HOT! Careful not to burn yourself.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Easy Fish Cakes

Here’s a dinner idea, quick and easy for when you do not have a lot of time in the evening.  Frozen fish fillets (after thawing, of course) work perfectly fine for this, no need for expensive varieties.

You'll need:

500g white fish fillet
6 large kaffir lime leaves, shredded
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 chopped lemongrass
1 tbsp red curry paste (without MSG)
1 egg
Coconut oil for frying

1. Blitz the fish in the food processor until it forms a paste.
2. Add all the other ingredients apart from oil. Blitz some more.
3. Form into patties and fry until brown on both sides.

Aromatic and light. Quick and healthy. Should be a regular on the paleo menu. Serve with paleo mayonnaise or a dip made equal parts fish sauce and lime with chopped chillies. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Lemongrass Pork Winter Warmer

This one was borne out of the necessity to use the lemongrass that has been in the fridge for about a week. A simple, broth-y dish which will keep you warm on a cold evening. With an Asian twist.

You will need;

Thin strips of pork (1 kilo), free range is best
2 stalks of lemongrass, bashed and tied into knots
Half a bulb of garlic, crushed
1 or 2 cans of coconut milk
Shredded cabbage
Sliced pepper
Mange tout
Salt (or fish sauce) and pepper to taste

Sauté crushed garlic until aromatic. Stir in pork, cook until all pinkness is gone. Pour in coconut milk. In go the lemongrass stalks too. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the veggies, mix in, and cook for another 3-5 minutes (cabbage should still be green-ish). Season to taste.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Paleo Bread

(contributed by JBairam @jonskib -- thanks dude!)

This is a basic recipe for a low carbohydrate, gluten-free and dairy-free bread recipe. It can be eaten savoury as is or as I prefer, to be sweetened and lemony as a cake type treat.

I used a teacup size cup and I got a decent size loaf. It's the ratios that count rather than the amounts but the teacup will give you a small loaf tin sized loaf.

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
1 1/4 Cups Almond Flour
1/4 Cup Ground Chia Seeds or Flaxseeds
5 Eggs
1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
A dash of water if required to loosen

For the sweet version add: 3/4 Tablespoons of Agave syrup / Honey and the zest of 1 small lemon.

Just a note on coconut flour: I ordered mine and it arrived as desiccated coconut, so I blitzed it in a food processor to get it fine enough to use. It really should be as close to flour as possible to avoid larger bits in the bread.

1. Blend all dry ingredients in bowl and all wet ingredients in separate bowl.
2. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
3. Pour into a 7.5 “x 3.5″ loaf pan and smooth the top.
4. Bake at 200°C for 35-40 minutes.
5. Let cool before slicing.

I find that this bread doesn't crumble and does toast well. Be careful not to put too much coconut in, as I think it changes the flavour. The sweet version is definitely my favourite, but the savoury is great, too. It works for sandwiches and makes great on-the-go food.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Curly Kale Crisps

Fancy a quick snack, this one is really, really easy.

You will need:

Kale leaves
Olive Oil
Smoked Paprika

1. Pre-heat oven at 170C fan.
2. Wash & remove stalks from the Kale so left only with bite sized leaves
3. Dry thoroughly
4. Drizzles with olive oil and mix well so the oil coats all the leaves
5. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and salt [or any other spices you fancy] ensuring spice is well distributed
6. Put in middle shelf of the oven for 12-15 mins
7. Kale should be slightly brown at the edges but not burnt


Paleo Fish Pie

O, the humble fish pie. Comforting, filling, and simply satisfying. On a cold winter’s night, it brings feelings of warmth and homeliness.

In this instance, the classic British dish was given a paleo twist. Still as hearty as the original, but just a tad healthier. :)

You will need:
1 kg sweet potato
1 kg skinless white fish (frozen is ok)
250 g smoked haddock/cod
1 can coconut milk (arroy brand is best, personally)
2 × 50g butter
3 pcs bay leaves
2 to 3 tbsps sweet potato flour
Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash the sweet potato and cook in the microwave for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the flesh is soft. No need to peel as it is easy to cut through the skin and scrape off the flesh when cooked. When done, make a sweet potato mash with 50g butter, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk plus half a can of water on the hob. Dunk the bay leaves in and season with salt and pepper.
When nearly simmering, place the fish in to gently poach for about 10 minutes. When this is done, take the fish out and just flake with a fork. Take away the bay leaves too. Set aside.
Make a rue by melting 50 g of butter in a separate pan then adding the sweet potato flour in. Mix until it forms into a paste consistency.
Transfer this paste into the cooking liquor, heat, and gently stir until just thickened (coating the back of a spoon). Ta da!! Bechamel sauce. Season to taste.
Place the flaked fish in an oven dish, pour the sauce over the fish, the spoon the mash on top.
Don’t flatten out the top. The uneven surface will create nice little burnt mash that tastes caramel-y.

Enjoy with your choice of veggies.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Paleo Parmigiana (Beef Aubergine Layers)

Parmigiana is a hearty Italian dish made with layers of fried aubergines, beef mince and parmesan cheese.  This paleo version does away with the cheese.  It does not lack in flavour though.  You’ll have to trust me on that. :D

The proportions I used made a big batch – freeze or eat for lunch the next day – perfect for lazy ladybirds and busy bees. I used:

800g mince beef
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 dried bay leaves
2 star anise
5 big heaped tbsp of tomato puree / paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Bit of stock / water

3 large aubergines sliced (1 cm thickness)
Bit of salt
Olive oil

Note: you can salt the aubergine slices before proceeding, to extract moisture prior to frying.

1. Brown the meat in a pan. Make sure to really break the mince pieces.  I do this until the meat is browned well and frying in its own fat.  This deepens the beef flavour.
2. Make space in the pan and fry the garlic in the rendered fat until fragrant and a tad brown. Mix.
3. In go the bay leaves, star anise, tomato puree, and maybe a cup of stock or water. Season.  Add some chilli or cayenne pepper if you prefer.
4. Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes.

5. Pat the aubergine slices dry. Sprinkle with olive oil.
6. Cook them in a hot frying pan or a griddle pan until soft or a little bit charred on both sides.  Add some more oil if needed.

7. Once done, spoon some meat at the bottom of a baking dish, cooked aubergine next. Layer and end with aubergines on top.
8. Sprinkle with olive oil (I used basil-infused oil) on top and grill on high for about 5 minutes.
9. Serve and enjoy.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Cumin and Garlic Tenderloin of Pork

This cut of pork is very lean and I have always been a bit apprehensive in using it. Some pork cuts are easy to dry out, resulting to rubbery textures.

I took the challenge anyway, and the gamble paid off.  Together with its perennial partner, the humble apple, it is a surprisingly quick-fix dinner idea.

For this I used:

2 tenderloins of pork, cut in halves
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds (ground is ok)
1 tsp Schezuan peppercorns (normal black peppercorns ok too)
Olive oil

4 medium sized apples (I used Cox. Braeburn is good too.)
Bit of butter

1. Make incisions in the loin and insert garlic in. Oil up.
2. Ground cumin and peppercorns with a bit of salt.  Sprinkle onto meat and rub in.
3. Sear in pan over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 200C.
3. Transfer meat to oven dish and cook for 10-12 minutes.
4. Take out meat and rest for another 10 minutes.

5. While the meat is cooking, peel and core the apples and slice to slivers. Transfer into the pan used for searing the pork. Add a bit of oil and butter until they colour slightly.
6. Add stock (or just plain water) and simmer until pork is ready.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice meat and serve with apple slices and veggies of your choice.

Note, this will result to slightly pink pork.  If you prefer your meat well-done, increase the oven time to about 15 minutes.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Morning Power Smoothie

Some mornings you just don’t have time for a sit down breakfast, you need something quick to consume on the go.

Step forward Morning Power Smoothie; a blend of fresh veg, fruit and coconut milk for a nutrition rich early morning hit.

You will need;

2 x generous handfuls of Kale
2 x generous handfuls of Spinach
2 x Kiwi
Half a punnet of either Blueberries, Raspberries or Strawberries [or a mixture of all three]
1 x can of high quality organic Coconut Milk
A little honey [optional]
1 x spoonful of Almond Butter [for increased protein]

We also added 1 x scoop of Greens Powder from Genetic Supplements. This is a mix 32 organic ingredients to help the body detoxify, nourish and maintain the correct pH balance [completely optional]

Blitz all your ingredients in a mixer / food processor, serve and enjoy

Tip: You may find it easier to add the ingredients in stages. We usually blitz the Kale and Spinach first then add the rest of the ingredients.

[makes 2 smoothies]

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Cajun Chicken Nuggets

This is an easy and quick accompaniment to your veggies.  Easy to prepare.  Make a batch over the weekend and consume throughout the week.

For the cajun rub, mix equal amounts of:

  • ground cumin
  • paprika powder (smoked variety is good too)
  • cayenne pepper
  • dried oregano

If you have a mortar and pestle, grind them all with a pinch of salt and a few peppercorns. Mix in enough olive oil to make a paste.  The oil helps the elements stick to the meat for more flavour!

Now, add the paste to your nuggets of chicken (thighs and breast work best).  Ensure enough coverage for maximum flavour.  Marinate overnight. Pan-fry in the morning for about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your nuggets.

I have mine for breakfast with slices of avocado - protein and good fats - BOOM!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Paleo Ginger Chocolate Cookies

For those with sweet tooth, fear not! Eating Paleo does not mean eliminating all the treats. It takes a little bit of time; you have to make your own. But they are worth it.

Make a big batch of these Paleo cookies to take to work and avoid the menace of Cadbury streets and roses.

You'll need:

1 cup chopped dates
200g ground almonds (use 300g if not using sweet potato powder)
1/2 cup sweet potato powder
2 tbsp ginger powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
50g butter (still cold)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (extract with seeds)
40g chopped 85% dark chocolate bar

Heat oven to 175°C.

Blitz the dates in a food processor until almost finely chopped. Add and blend all the dry ingredients except the chopped chocolate.

Next add the butter, egg and vanilla. It will only take about 10 seconds for the mixture to clump up. Stop and transfer to a bowl. Mix in the chocolate and fold using a spatula.

Scoop out 1 tbsp balls of dough out and flatten. This recipe makes about 18 cookies.

Bake for no more than 10 minutes, slightly less if using a fan oven. Once done, let cod outside oven before indulging.

Dunk into black coffee for your morning fix!!