Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Garden of Eating, Cook Book Review Part 1.

Well, I've been cooking up a storm thanks to my new friend Ms. Rachel Albert-Matesz. Also know as The Healthy Cooking Coach.

About a month ago, Rachel contacted yours truly and told me she liked my blog and the way I went about cooking. (I was full of spring all day, and saw my long dream of becoming a famous chef turn into reality, but I digress ;-) )

She offered to send me a copy of her cookbook and if I would be so kind to try the recipes and write some reviews. So here we are. Before I get into the cook, it need to mention Rachel's' ex-husband Don Matesz. He helped co-write the book. If you read Richard's blog (I do everyday) you might already be familiar with Don as he comments frequently. Don has his own SUPERB blog called Primal Wisdom. It is very concise and well written. He makes difficult subjects easy to understand for all. So please take a look if you haven't yet. it will become one of your daily reads.

The Garden of Eating

I don't know how many of you are cook book aficionados, but unlike the more traditional variety with just pictures and directions, this baby (all 580 pages of it) is part cook book, part paleo/primal education and part meal planning and shopping guide. It also cleverly shows a nutritional break down for each recipe which ties in with the chapter on how to construct a good eating regimen.

Heavily influenced by Weston A. Price. The start of the book gives a great review of what "Real Food" eating is all about. They even tackle the subject of FAT. I like that, because with all the quality information out there in regards to the myth of "bad fat", we are still a "fat-phobed" nation.

This book would be excellent as a gift for friends and family that would like to start eating the way our little community does. I can not stress enough how simple Rachel makes it to get going. For everyone that still struggles with inspiration, BUY this book. You will be set for at least a year.

I will write more about the different non-cooking chapters of the book in the rest of the series. I will do at least 7 posts with recipes and pictures. A good weeks worth of The Garden of Eating".

So what did I make first? There's so much to choose from, so I decided to just let fate decide. I tossed the book on the kitchen table and randomly opened to a page. What did I get?


I can always get my hands on fresh local shrimp so this was a great one to start with. Ingredients; 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (side note; this is where Rachel really shines with her thoroughness for people that need help cooking. Little notes along the ingredients like "make sure the shrimp are patted dry"). 1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil, 1 teasp. sea salt, 1 cup finely chopped onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 cup thinly sliced crimini mushrooms, 1 cup of carrots, 1 -14 ounce can of coconut milk, 3 cups of "shrimp shell stock" or preservative free chicken stock, 1 tbsps paprika, 1 tbsps lemon juice or acv , 1/4 or 1/2 teasp chipotle or hot sauce, 1/4 teasp black pepper, 3 tbsps arrow root powder (again the little details) or...4 tbsps if you are using lite coconut milk. 1/4 cup minced scallions, chives or parsley for garnish. (My input, you can use cilantro also.)

1. chop veggies and set aside

2. Heat oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic,mushrooms, salt and carrot, stirring for 1 minute after each addition. Cover reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Shake unopened can of coconut milk. Rinse top and remove lid. If contents have separated, whisk or puree in blender or food processor until smooth (see how she helps if you are new to coconut milk. Many people are)

4. Add coconut milk, stock or broth, paprika, lemon juice, chipotle and black pepper. Bring to a boil, add shrimp and dissolved arrow root. Reduce heat and simmer. Stir until thick and shrimp turns pink, about 5-7 minutes. Ladle into bowls, garnish and serve.

Nutrition for 1 serving; 296 calories, 13 gr. protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat, 42 mg calcium, 416mg sodium.

Before I tell you how this "fine restaurant tasting bisque" came out, I want to quickly explain the shrimp shell stock.

Just the take the shells from about 1 pound of shrimp. Toss together with 2 celery stalks, small onion, a few carrots 2 or 3 garlic cloves a bay leaf and 5 or so peppercorns. Cover with water, (about 3 inches above food line) bring to a boil turn down heat and simmer for an hour. When you pour it threw your strainer, press on the veggies to get out all the flavor. I added 1 tbsp of fish sauce to this stock. This is so simple to make, and will give you bisque the real restaurant type flavor you're used to.

The bisque was unbelievable. I almost didn't believe I was the one who made it. Full of strong and subtle flavors, perfect texture and great aroma. This is really an easy recipe to try and you will be most pleased with the results.

Ok, back to my day job. Much more to follow.

Had you ever heard of Rachel? Have you seen the book? Was my recipe description clear?


Yummy Gatherer said...

Yay! I'm the first commenter! :)

This looks like a great cookbook! I'll have to get it to add to my collection.
Awesome review too! I'm looking forward to the rest of the posts.

Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen said...

I really enjoyed the book - a lot. So sensible, well-researched and nicely written. The only thing I didn't care for was the consistent use of stevia liquid and agave nectar in recipes.

Both are very modern and unnatural despite their prevalence on the shelves of health food stores. Agave nectar undergoes a manufacturing process very, very similar to high fructose corn syrup. Agave nectar's high fructose content exceeds that of high fructose corn syrup! Stevia liquid is also heavily processed.

Greg at Live Fit said...

I'll have to look this one up. I'm always looking for new cooking ideas using fresh produce.

Mark said...

that book has been on my radar for a while...just haven't gotten around to buying it yet.

Primal Mama said...

Great explanation. I remember reading about Rachel on freetheanimal.com and I enjoy reading her husband's blog. It's nice to see cookbooks geared to paleo/primal cooking.

Marc said...

Thank you. Like i said a lot more to follow. Stay tuned.

I couldn't agree more. I will talk about this in further posts.

It really is produce dominated. So I think you would enjoy it.

Glad to hear that. Did you learn about it through the Primal Wisdom blog?

Primal Mama,
Thanks for always supporting my blog ;-)
Are you back in Spain yet?


Primal Mama said...

No, still in the States. Right now we are down in Holden Beach, NC. We've still got a month to go. I'm starting to miss my jamon serrano!

Mark said...

Yep, I read Primal Wisdom. It's excellent. I loved his "Top Ten Problems With Applying The Paleolithic Diet Principles" series.

Chef Rachel said...

Hi Marc,

Thanks for the rave review. I like your idea of adding fish sauce to the Shrimp Bisque. I will have to try that!

In response to what Jenny@Nourished Kitchen said about the use of stevia and agave in The Garden of Eating, I would like to reply:

I know they are not traditional foods. However, I offer stevia as a way people can make healthier sweets while reducing or eliminating isolated sugar from their diets.

I rarely use agave nectar; wherever I list that it is as an alternative to honey, which I prefer, because I do have some vegans in my cooking classes and I like to present options for a wide range of people. I am aware that the low GI of agave nectar arises from its high fructose content so even when I offer that it is almost always paired with stevia to reduce total sugar calories.

My aim to focus mainly on REAL, TRADITIONAL foods but also to provide some modern even slightly processed foods at times that may help people approximate the nutritional composisition (such as low sugar content) of more traditional diets.


Marc said...


I think Don's blog is just excellent.

Primal Mama,

I can understand that. But enjoy where you are now it's gorgeous there too, and life is strange like that, when you're back in Spain, after a few weeks you'll miss the states. ;-)
Although the jamon would be pulling at me too.

THANK YOU for your generosity and fantastic cook book. I will adress the stevia and agave issue in one of the next posts. But I can hint, towards what I'm going to post. People have to understand your aim of the book (and from what I gather, the aim of much of your career) is to realy get people to change to a better way of eating. In order to do that, changes need to be gradual for most and part of that is holding on to some of the flavorings they are used to.
More to follow.
Thanks again Rachel!!!


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