Days 10-12: Easy Entertaining

The idea of cooking for others while eating a strict Whole30 paleo diet may sound intimidating. What if they think the food is weird? What if it’s too simple? What if they miss the pasta? Ask yourself this, do you think any of those things when cooking for yourself? I know I don’t. I’m satisfied by my meals, I’m enthusiastic about eating them, I’m eager to share them. If you’re not feeling that way, you need to shake things up a bit. I promise you, eating paleo is NOT BORING. All you need to do is start searching the internet. There are SO MANY delicious paleo recipes out there now. You have no excuses for making the same thing every day.

Saturday night, my friend Jessica came over to hang out. It seems to be a tradition now with Jess and I to make a scrumptious seafood feast. We did this when we went out to my cabin on the coast this summer, feasting on clams and crab. We did this again Saturday night, picking up the provisions at the local grocery store. The crab was straightforward: just crack it open and devour. As for the clams, Jess was rather astounded that we couldn’t steam them in some white wine, but she improvised and they turned out incredible. She sauteed some garlic, ginger, lime and chili flakes, then added the clams and some chicken stock, cooking until they’d all opened their shells, proffering up their delicious meat. So fragrant and delicious!

manila clams

manila clams

The following night, I was supposed to cook dinner for my sister and brother-in-law. Since I have a well-stocked freezer, I was prepared to feed any size crowd (seriously, you should see how much meat I have in there…). I pulled out some pork chops to defrost and looked up some recipes. I landed on one for Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples from a copy of Sunset Magazine’s Best Recipes. Done. Now what to serve with them? How about some Sweet Potato-Parsnip Latkes? Yes please! I did most of the prep work during the day– brining the chops, shredding the sweet potatoes and apples, making the latke mixture– so I wouldn’t be in the kitchen too long while they were here.

Unfortunately they ended up cancelling. It happens. So I made myself a pretty impressive meal! Let me just say, the latkes may be a bit time consuming, but they were so worth it! I made a half batch, which was more than enough, substituting the matzo meal with almond flour and adding an extra egg to help bind them. The trick is to get the oil really hot, and to wait until they are nice and crispy before trying to flip them. Oh man, I’m almost glad they didn’t come over so I could eat all the latkes myself, for dinner, for lunch, for breakfast…

Sweet Potato-Parsnip Latkes

Sweet Potato-Parsnip Latkes

As for the pork chops, they were a huge success as well. Super juicy and flavorful from the brine (and from not overcooking them– pork can be a little pink in the middle), the sauteed apples and mustardy sauce adding sweetness and tang. Scrumptious! I cooked two of them on Sunday and cooked the other two Monday night for my boyfriend and I. He seemed pretty darn impressed. He even picked up the bone and gnawed the meat off. I’d call that a success.

Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples

Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples

Monday night, I served the chops alongside some brussels sprouts (remember, I wasn’t going to share my latkes!). I improvised the recipe, and I think it’s my new favorite way to eat them!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Crispy Prosciutto & Pecans

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Prosciutto & Pecans

Here’s what I did:

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Crispy Prosciutto & Pecans

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and arrange the prosciutto in a single layer. Bake until the prosciutto is crispy, about 5 minutes or so (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn). Let cool, then crumble and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until softened.
  3. Add the brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften.
  4. Add the cider vinegar and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Stir in the pecans and crispy prosciutto. Taste, season as needed, and enjoy!