Brrrr! Winter is officially here to stay.
To help warm you up we’ve asked Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan from
The Clothes Make The Girl to whip up some recipes perfect for the upcoming cold(er) days. Enjoy!
Crispy Spiced Chicken Livers
I was a weird kid, and I distinctly remember voluntarily ordering beef liver with onions for dinner at my dad’s diner. I was also a crazy for chicken liver paté on toast and ordered it whenever it appeared on a menu. Then I became a surly teenager and went to Weight Watchers summer camp where they forced us to eat liver once a week as part of the weight-loss plan. The culinary skills of the cooks at camp didn’t stand up to my dad’s line cooks, and I developed an aversion to liver that lasted for years. But now that I’m eating paleo, I’m also falling in love again with chicken livers. This time, they’re rolled in aromatic spices and lightly pan-fried in coconut oil to form a lovely, crisp crust.
- 1 to 11/2 pounds chicken livers
- 2/3 cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
- garnish: fresh lemon and chopped fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, or mint)
- Cut chicken livers into 2-inch pieces and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a small bowl, mix flour, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cloves with a fork until blended. Pour the seasoned flour into a large ziplock bag, add the chicken livers, and shake gently until coated evenly.
- In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium-high until hot, about 3 minutes. Add about half the chicken livers in a single layer — try to arrange them so they don’t touch. Allow the bottom to brown well and form a crisp crust, about 3-5 minutes. Using tongs, flip the livers, and brown the other side. Set aside to drain on paper towels while you cook the second batch. You may need to add more coconut oil to the pan.
- Place the livers on a serving plate and garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs.
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The cooking part of this recipe takes about 2-3 hours, but at the end of that waiting period, you will be rewarded with caramel-brown, lemony, crispy lamb that practically falls apart when you look at it. Isn’t that worth a few hours of bubbling atop the stove? And the seasonings! The cumin is rich and earthy, the mint adds just the right bite, and the citrus juice creates a deep, layered flavor while it slyly tenderizes the meat. Gyros are usually served with pita bread and a sauce made from yogurt — both a no-no in the paleo world. This deconstructed salad delivers all the flavor of the original, without the downside of dairy and gluten.
- 3-4 pounds lamb shoulder roast
- 2 tablespoons dried mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- Diced tomatoes
- Diced red onion
- Diced cucumber
- Shredded lettuce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade; see recipe)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon za’atar
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- With a sharp knife, cut the lamb shoulder into 3- to 4-inch chunks. You don’t want them bite-sized. Place the lamb pieces in a large ziplock bag.
- In a small bowl, rub the mint and oregano leaves between your palms to crush them. Add the cumin, Aleppo pepper, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper; mix with a fork until blended. Add the spice blend to the bag, zip it closed, and shake assertively until all the lamb pieces are coated with the spices.
- Place the lamb in a large, deep pot. Pour the lemon juice into the bottom of the pot, then add water to just cover the meat.
- Place the pot on high heat and bring the water to a rip-roaring boil. When it’s rolling, reduce the heat to keep a steady, strong simmer with the pan uncovered. The liquid should bubble a fair amount, but should not be a vigorous boil. While it’s cooking, it will look like uninspired soup. Do not be discouraged! As the water evaporates, the acidic qualities of the lemon juice tenderize and flavor the meat.
- At about the 2-hour mark, check the pot. The water should be much lower and maybe even almost gone. Allow all the water to cook out of the pan and watch as the meat magically fries and caramelizes in the fat and fruit juice.
- Carefully turn the hunks of meat — without shredding them — to brown all sides, then remove the hunks to a plate and let them rest for 5 minutes before eating.
- While the meat rests, make the dressing. In a small bowl, crush the dried mint with your fingers, then add mayo, parsley, za’atar, Aleppo pepper, and garlic. Blend well with a fork. Drizzle in the lemon juice, mixing with the fork, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the raw vegetables on the plate, add the lamb, and drizzle with the dressing.
Olive Oil Mayo
Lemony, light, silky, and luxurious, this mayo makes just about everything better. Indulge with a dollop on grilled meat, transform it into creamy salad dressing in a flash, or stir it into a can of tuna for instant salad. Mix up a batch every week in the blender or food processor to rediscover creamy salads and sauces.
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup plus 1 cup light-tasting olive oil (not extra-virgin!)
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a blender or food processor, place the egg and the lemon juice. Put the lid on your appliance and allow the liquids to come to room temperature, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
- Add 1/4 cup oil, dry mustard, and salt to the canister and blend on medium until the ingredients are combined. Now the exciting part begins. Your mission is to incorporate the remaining 1 cup oil by pouring very, very slowly. You want the skinniest drizzle you can manage; this takes about 2 to 3 minutes. If you’re using a blender, you’ll hear the pitch change as the liquid begins to form the emulsion. Eventually, the substance inside the blender will resemble traditional mayonnaise, only far more beautiful.
- When all of the oil is incorporated, revel in your triumph and transfer the mayo to a container with a lid. Mark a calendar with your egg expiration date — that’s when your mayo expires, too.
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Italian Sausage and Eggplant Strata
It’s said that good things come to those who wait, and this dish may test your patience. Constructed with layers of tender eggplant, spicy homemade sausage, and silky tomato sauce, this casserole tastes best eaten a few days after baking. But the delayed gratification is worthwhile. A bite of the top layer, so tender and airy, is followed by a pleasant kick of heat that’s soon tempered by the creamy eggplant.
- 3 1/2 pounds globe eggplants (about 2-3)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 pounds ground pork
- 3 tablespoons Italian Sausage Seasoning (see recipe below)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 8 large basil leaves, slivered (about 2 tablespoons)
- 4 eggs
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil and brush a 13X9-inch pan with some of the melted coconut oil.
- Slice the eggplant into rounds about 1/2-inch thick and place on baking sheet. Brush the eggplant with the remaining melted coconut oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F for the next stage of baking.
- While the eggplant is roasting, crumble the ground pork into a large mixing bowl with your hands, then add the Italian sausage seasoning and knead until well blended.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Crumble the pork into the pan, then break up large chunks using a wooden spoon. Cook until the pork is nicely browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl and return the pan to the stove.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then add 1 tablespoon coconut oil and the garlic to the pan. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of the basil. Stir to combine, increase heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- When the tomato sauce is cool, scramble the eggs in a small bowl, then blend them into the tomato sauce with a wooden spoon. Warning: This will not look like something you’ll want to eat, but soldier on.
- To assemble the strata, place a single layer of eggplant in the bottom of the greased 13X9-inch pan. Sprinkle half of the cooked meat on top of the eggplant, then top with 1 1/2 cups of the sauce. Create another layer of eggplant, top with the remainder of the meat and 1 cup of the sauce. Build your final layer with eggplant and spread the remaining sauce evenly over the top.
- Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing or eating. Before serving, lightly brush the top of the strata with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the remaining basil.
Italian Sausage Seasoning
Sausage shouldn’t be complicated: it’s essentially meat made magical with spices. But too many store-bought brands include sugar and other mystery ingredients. This sugar-free blend works well with ground pork, turkey, and chicken and produces flavorful, worry-free sausage flavor that guarantees you won’t need to rely on store-bought.
- 4 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons coarse (granulated) garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed (optional)
- In a medium bowl, crush the dried parsley and Italian herbs with your fingers or a fork to release their flavor.
- Add the black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel seed.
- Mix with a fork and transfer to an airtight container for storage.
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My perfect Friday night? Pizza and a movie on the couch. Some might argue it’s the cheese that makes a pizza, but I disagree. I think it’s the friendly wedge shape of the slices and that they’re meant to be eaten with our hands. Then there’s the play of herbs and garlic against the sweetness of the tomato sauce, and the slightly guilty pleasure of just a little grease. This version has a Mexican spin with chili powder and salsa for spice, plus avocado for a cool finish. So go ahead! Pop in a rental movie, slide a slice of meatza pie onto a paper plate, and snuggle in.
- 2 6-inch individual meatzas, enough for 2-4 servings
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
- Green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- Red onion, cut into thin strips
- Avocado, diced
- garnish: fresh lime, chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef with the crust seasonings until combined.
- Divide the meat in half, roll into a ball, and press evenly into an 8- or 9-inch round pie pan. Cover only the bottom of the pan and smooth the meat with damp hands until it’s an even thickness. Repeat with the other piece of “crust.” Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and the edges are brown. Leaving the oven on, remove the crusts from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
- Assemble your meatza. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place the meat crusts on the baking sheet. Spread about 1/4 cup salsa on each meat crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Arrange the peppers and onions on top, pressing them gently into the sauce. Pop the pizza back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until hot and browned to your liking.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with diced avocado, then squeeze a little fresh lime juice over the top and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
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