Bee Sting Bars (paleo, gluten-free)

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When I went Paleo, I thought I would never eat a bee sting pastry again. That was a pretty big blow. Even after I quit Paleo in favor of a more moderate diet, I figured the amount of refined flour and sugar would make it a “sometimes food” at best…and then my favorite baker moved out of town, taking all of her bee stings with her.

For those of you who have never seen one, a “bee sting” is a German pastry, two layers of yeasted cake filled with vanilla custard with a caramelized almond-honey topping. The one I’ve made was an elaborate production, complete with almost burning the custard and having just an awful time splitting the layers. It was a delicious mess, and one I figured I just wouldn’t deal with again.

Until last week, when David Lebovitz posted a recipe for miella, French snack cakes with the same crunchy almond-honey topping. His use of almond flour piqued my curiosity — could I make a gluten-free, even Paleo, version of my all-time favorite pastry? Continue reading

Stuck-pot rice (gluten-free, meatless)

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You guys know it’s best not to cook in anger, right? Or when you’re in a rush?

Suddenly, utensils go missing, the stove doesn’t work properly, your ingredients end up on the floor, and suddenly the dog has eaten half a bag of peanuts and that’s really bad.* Nothing is easy, nothing goes your way, and everything you do takes twice as long and is twice as frustrating.

My point? Don’t even try to cook this dish in anger or quickly. Continue reading

Braised Short Ribs

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Short ribs were one of those cuts I was never sure how to deal with. As a former vegetarian, sometimes I have difficulty imagining how to prepare anything that comes from a cow and isn’t steak. It’s a weird gap in my knowledge; give me a whole chicken, and I’ll whack the backbone out of it in no time flat. Give me a boneless leg of lamb and I’ll have it smothered in mint persillade and roasting within the hour.

Now that I have this recipe, though, I am no longer confused. Clearly, the destiny of all short ribs is to be braised in a mixture of cider, stock and balsamic vinegar and served with horseradish-laced parsnips. Braising makes the meat so tender, it falls off the bone if you even breathe on it wrong. The horseradish keeps the creamy parsnips and deep, dark braising liquid from becoming too heavy, while complementing the flavors of the cider perfectly.

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Easy Tomato Sauce

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Reporters talk about stories that fight them; stories that don’t want to come together, no matter how easy the subject matter is or how many sources have been consulted. A story that should take half an hour to write will take two hours, and for no apparent reason.

Recipes can be this way, too. I had this experience over the weekend, when a relatively simple gumbo recipe went rogue on me. I burned the roux and had to remake it — twice — and when I went to pour the broth into all of the other ingredients, I heard a distinct and disgusting plop.

Suffice to say, the broth had spoiled in a spectacular way, despite the fact that it had been freshly purchased from the grocery store that morning. Two turkey thighs, half a bag of frozen okra, an onion, a bell pepper and four links of chorizo made their way to the trash.

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