Napa Cabbage Soup

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a recipe. I sprained my ankle right before Christmas and was down for the count. I’m finally getting around enough that cooking, carrying plated food over to the window where I take my photos and balancing a camera… and maintaining balance myself, aren’t daunting tasks. Not to mention that the natural lighting has been working against me. It’s been exceptionally dark and dreary these past few weeks – even for Oregon. We’ve been socked in fog “‘thicker than frozen snot on a door knob,” according to Portland’s National Weather Service Office. So much so that my dad, who’s an umpteenth generation Oregonian, commented on how miserable it is.

Today’s soup is perfect for the dead of winter. I have fond memories of playing at a friend of our family’s farm out of Troutdale, OR. They lived in a house up on a bluff above the Sandy River and running around exploring and tormenting the older brother was heaven (it was two girls against one boy – poor kid!). They were (and still are) basil farmers and their house always smelled of the delicious, rich smell of fresh basil. So many fond memories in that house up on the bluff. My family was so taken with this simple soup that my mother had to ask for the recipe and it’s been a staple ever since in our family. I’ve made a few modifications to it over the years but for the most part, it remains the same. The best way to describe this soup is simple Italian peasant food. It’s nothing remarkable when you look at the ingredients but the flavors meld themselves together in such a harmonious blend… it’s impossible to not over-indulge and have one too many bowls.

It’s the kind of soup that will pump the lifeblood back into your bones on a cold winter’s day (or a day with dense fog) and won’t leave you overly full…. and only takes 30 minutes to cook! (Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray!)

But before the recipe, a few notes: You really want to use napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage) with this soup. It’s far more delicate than your typical “green cabbage” and cooks down nicely. You retain much of the crunch and texture of the cabbage but it’s not your “normal” thick pieces. Napa cabbage can easily be found at a farmer’s market or a natural foods store – if you aren’t sure which is napa, just ask!

 

Napa Cabbage Soup

  • 1 head organic napa, shredded
  • 5 pieces organic, nitrate-free, pastured bacon, sliced (can also use half a pound of a clean pancetta – this gives it an even more delicate Italian flavor)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can organic diced tomatoes, BPA-free lining
  • 7 cups meat stock
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 12-month aged, raw Parmesan for garnish (optional)
  1. In a medium-large stock pot, over medium heat, cook bacon (or pancetta) until done. Remove bacon from pan, leaving fat at the bottom. Cut up cabbage while bacon is cooking.
  2. Add garlic and saute in the bacon fat until golden, stirring often.
  3. Add tomatoes and juice from can and shredded cabbage. Stir.
  4. Add filtered water and meat stock and stir. Cover with a lid and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until cabbage is cooked.
  5. Add bacon back to soup and add sea salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with shredded Parmesan (optional) and an extra dollop of fat (such as coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, or more bacon fat) (optional).
A quick and easy GAPS, RESTART Program, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, and, most importantly, DELICIOUS soup that only takes 30 minutes to make!

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Frittata

I made this frittata for Mother’s Day and it was a hit – except for the 11 year old who doesn’t like stinky cheese and my sister’s 24 year old boyfriend… who also doesn’t like stinky cheese. Haters gonna hate.

The frittata is a spin-off of a great restaurant here in Portland that is renowned for their weekend brunches. In fact, it’s usually an hour wait minimum on the weekends. Ouch, right? But in all seriousness, we love our brunch in Portland. So much so that they made a Portlandia skit about us.

So yea. Apparently we’ll do just about anything to get to a good brunch place.

Okay, so this frittata. It’s so easy. As are most frittatas. The main specialty item you will need is a well-seasoned cast iron pan (which should be a staple in any kitchen anyway) or a skillet that can go in the oven.

Choosing a mild Gorgonzola is key. It’s a stinky cheese and can easily overpower other flavors. I talked to the cheese counter dude at the local cheese shop… okay. New Seasons. I talked to the guy at New Seasons. I’m not that fancy, even though there are some FANTASTIC cheese shops in the Portland area. But, cheese people – they know their cheese. Tell them you’re making a frittata and want something mild that won’t magnify in the oven. They’ll know exactly which cheese to set you up with. If they don’t, find a new cheese guy. 🙂 If you’re doing level 3 of the 21 Day Sugar Detox, omit the cheese and also omit if you’re dairy free.

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Finally, make sure you don’t toss your excess butter – by the time you’re done caramelizing the onions, it will be infused with onion goodness. It’s what makes this dish fantastic – that and the bacon and cheese.

Here goes!

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Frittata

  • 2 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced into “half moons”
  • ½ cup organic grass-fed salted butter
  • 1 dozen pasture-raised eggs, beaten
  • 4 strips bacon, minced and cooked
  • ½ cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (or any mild bleu cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (wait until onions are almost done, it could take a while).
  2. In an 8" (or wider if your skillet is shallow) cast iron skillet, and over medium-low heat, melt the ½ cup of butter. Add onions and saute until onions are caramelized (see link if you need a great how-to from The Kitchn).
  3. Remove onions and set aside, being careful to keep as much of the butter as you can in the pan. Swirl the butter around so it coats the bottom and all of the sides of the pan.
  4. While pan is hot, pour in beaten eggs. “Sprinkle” carmelized onions, bacon and crumbled Gorgonzola on top.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until a knife in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Set aside and allow the eggs to set. Cut like a pie and serve warm.

South of the Border Zucchini Pancakes

These guys. So tasty. I had plain zucchini pancakes recently and wanted to give them a little flavor kick. (I’m obsessed with savory for breakfast, what can I say?) So these babies were born. I originally served them with fresh pico de gallo, sliced avocados with pink salt and hot sauce. Always gotta have the hot sauce. After I’m done with my 21 day sugar detox, I’ll serve them with a bit of crème fraîche (French fermented cream that tastes a lot like American sour cream – you can buy it relatively cheaply at Trader Joe’s) or some whole milk cojita cheese. Latin American Sauerkraut would also taste fantastic with these. Enjoy!

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A little note: conventional zucchini is a GMO crop (when at the grocery store, conventional crops start with a 4xxx, organic a 9xxx). Make sure you buy organic zucchini or buy conventional ONLY at Trader Joe’s as they do not carry any GMO products in their produce department. Their open statement on their commitment to non-GMO is only another reason why I love T.J.’s with all my beating heart.

South of the Border Zucchini Pancakes

  • 4 organic zucchini, shredded
  • 4 organic soy-free eggs, beaten
  • ¼ pound bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  1. In a medium frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Reserve the fat in the pan.
  2. While bacon is cooking and using a cheese grater, shred the zucchini. Add all of the other ingredients and stir until well incorporated. Once the bacon is done, add to the mixture.
  3. Over medium heat, and using the bacon grease in the pan, ladle about a 1/3 cup (pancakes should be about 3" wide) of the mixture. Cook each side until lightly browned, only flipping once.
  4. Serve immediately.

    Note: nightshades are not allowed for some on an anti-inflammation diet. If you do not tolerate cumin, red chili powder or cayenne pepper, simply omit.

Oven Bacon

Bacon. Is there anything more superb in the whole meat kingdom? (If any of you say “Yes,” we’re no longer friends… kidding. But seriously.) Anyway, my love of bacon is nothing new – my roommates know when I’m cooking it because the whole house smells like heaven. I’ve also been known to sport the bacon socks on a run or when I’m working out. And my friends in general hear me praise the meat almost non-stop.

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However, I hate cooking bacon in the morning when I’m in a rush and have slept in. There are usually 15 other things I need to be doing on those days in order to get out the door and get to work on time.

To solve this little problem, I started baking my bacon. It’s fast, easy, and has minimal clean-up. Also, it’s easier to capture the fat to add to my mason jar that I keep in the fridge. By the way, I use the fat to cook everything – eggs, chicken, saute onion, pan fry broccolini, broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower… the list goes on and I’m too lazy to write it all out.

Back to bacon, it’s important to select a good quality meat. A lot of the bacon you buy in packages at the store is crap. Absolute and total crap. Bacon is supposed to have a long cure time. The way many commercial producers make it forces a brining period of a few hours due to a massive use of chemicals. Mmm… chemicals. Tasty. Also, look out for the sweetener – a lot of bacon uses high fructose corn syrup to sweeten it. When you read those words, think “Chemical shit storm.” There’s really no other way to say it.

I generally buy my bacon from New Seasons here in the Portland area. They use a traditional brining process and a honey cure. It’s not pasture-raised meat (and I do buy pasture-raised when I can), but it’s the next best thing. They also sell their bits and pieces for a pretty steep discount – if you don’t mind cutting up chunks of bacon into thinner pieces, it’s definitely the way to go. Search out a vendor in your area that sells good bacon. You might end up paying a little bit more for it but sometimes you have to dish out money to get a better quality product. If you find that your vendor sells bits and pieces, buy those. Unless you’re cooking for guests or it’s a holiday, chances are you and your family aren’t going to care if your bacon is completely picturesque. They’re just going to want to eat it ASAP. Or, visit US Wellness Meats. (I don’t get paid by them… I just really like their products.) Best of luck!

Oven Bacon

  • Line a jellyroll pan (one that has the short sides) with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Lay bacon onto the pan and place in a cold oven.
  • Turn the oven on to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on the degree of crispy you like. Monitor closely toward the end.
  • Remove from oven and promptly remove bacon from the hot fat to stop the cooking process.
  • Allow the fat to cool a bit and then drain into a jar for later use or, let fat harden on the paper/foil and toss. Wash pan (which should be relatively clean) and you’re done!

And yes. Seriously. It’s that easy. Here’s some before and after pics from this morning. My pan was still clean when I was done – yey for no dishes! (Sorry for the pics, I slept in, was a in a rush and my trusty 4S came to my rescue.)

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Paleo Breakfast Strata

I used to love stratas. Nothing beat stale bread, lots of butter, sauteed veggies, some kind of sweet meat and lots of eggs. Unfortunately, they didn’t like me so much. Fast forward to today. And I haven’t had a true strata in over two years. GASP!? I know. This week was looking to be busy (if only I knew HOW busy – a last minute trip to Seattle was tossed in the mix) and I needed a quick and easy breakfast that still fell within the Whole30 challenge I’m doing with a bunch of people at my gym. Cue this wonderful mistake.

I have a bunch of flax meal – I’m pretty sure my roommate wonders what it’s all for. But, I’m trying to use it up so I can make my own fresh meal (the Omega 3’s are even more potent in the fresh-made stuff). And really. I love Omega 3’s and this is a whole lot cheaper than buying salmon (which is on the menu for next week anyway). So, if you’re looking at a busy week ahead and only have time to blanch a few veggies for your breakfast and that’s about it, think about making this.

Enjoy!

p.s. A better picture is coming, I promise. I was trying to get out the house and all I had time for was my iPhone.

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Paleo Breakfast Strata

  • 12 organic, free-range eggs, beaten
  • 5 strips organic, grass-fed non-sugar cured beef bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 small organic zucchini, diced
  • 1 heirloom organic tomato, diced (omit if SCD)
  • 3 leaves organic swiss chard, diced (omit if SCD)
  • 1 organic yellow bell pepper, diced (omit if SCD)
  • 1 cup flax meal
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat an 8"x8" pan with coconut oil.
  2. In a medium skillet and over medium heat, cook bacon until done. Remove bacon from pan and set aside.
  3. Add onions to bacon fat and cook until almost translucent. Add garlic and saute for a minute or two longer.
  4. Meanwhile, chop veggies and toss in a large bowl. Add onions, garlic and bacon (and remaining fat) when done. Stir until everything is incorporated.
  5. Mix in spices and flax meal. Stir. Mix in eggs. Let sit for a few minutes (this gives the flax meal a chance to “activate”) and stir again.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a knife cut yields no runny egg in the middle.
  7. Serve hot with roasted delicata squash and blanched asparagus or cut into pre-portioned sizes and place in containers for the week. Re-heat in the oven, using an oven-safe container. 

Have a wonderful weekend!