Today I have the ridiculously huge honor and fortune to share with you the experiences I’ve been having with a brand new paleo cookbook, called The Paleo Recipe Book, by Sebastien Noel over at Paleo Diet Lifestyle.
When I first got my hands on the eBook, I expected what I had come to expect from every paleo cookbook I’ve ever come across– plenty of meats, a smattering of different ethnic dishes, and liberal uses of protein and fat. I was not disappointed in this regard. However, when Sebastien said to me, “I tried to make this will the one paleo cookbook anyone will ever have to buy,” OMG did he ever deliver. Comprehensive, thorough, intuitive, innovative, and beautiful are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of this book. Mindblowing might be another.
I’m the world’s worst self-promoter, and I hesitate just as naturally to promote another person’s work. But I really can’t help myself this time. The last post I wrote for this blog was about how happy I am to be in Taiwan and never cooking my own food, but Sebastien has made me regret enormously not having access to a kitchen. From Sebastien’s instruction, Paleo is easy and is tasty and I’m just itching to get started.
The Paleo Recipe Book opens with a foreword in which Sabastien shares the philosophy that went into his food choices. The book is based off of the paleolithic principle, which states that people achieve optimum health by eating the foods they evolved to eat, but it does not ignore neolithic foods, such as butter, which Sebastien believes (correctly) are in fact quite healthy. This book is also based off of supremely accessible and cheap ingredients and achieves inexpensive, satiating, and quick meals suitable for the widest range of audiences possible. Unbelievable.
Before jumping into recipes, the Paleo Recipe Book includes a guide to each:
Doneness, Temperature, and Roasting times of all meats
The food list
How to find foods online
Good fats and how to cook with each
How to make clarified butter (ghee)
and Rendering Animal Fat
Then you get blown away by the content:
395 pages thick, with a mouth-watering photo of each recipe (one per page), The Paleo Recipe Book covers just about anything you might ever want to make. Each recipe page contains both a clear ingredient list and a set of instructions which almost never exceeds ten steps and is usually more like seven. The book doesn’t presume any prior cooking knowledge, but is never bogged down in silly details. Simple, straightforward, and intuitive for any level of cooking skill, this book does it right.
The Table of Contents is as follows:
36 Red Meat Recipes. This section spans a coffee and vanilla bean prime roast, venison medallions, beef brisket with onions and tomatoes, and just about every cut of beef I can think of. What’s more, it opens with a “how to” on the perfect steak, a diagram of a cow, and a discussion of each different cut of beef.
18 Pork Recipes. I’m not much of a pork girl but the recipe for garlic pulled pork has made me a willing convert.
35 Poultry Recipes. These include: Moroccan chicken, duck confit and bacon wrapped turkey with pears. Lots of both simplicity and complexity here. Totally awesome.
27 Stews and Curries. This section just about hijacked my imagination, oh my goodness. Check out the dark chocolate venison stew, beef ghoulash, or African sweet potato and ghoulash stew… each of these recipes is so rich in complexity and flavor… I can’t wait for you to see the other twenty-four. Gods.
15 Fish Recipes. Fifteen doesn’t seem like much, but it covers every cooking technique (frying, broiling, tartare, searing) as well as a variety of flavors. Plus this is supplemented by the section below on seafood, which really rounds out a rich tour of the plentiful Flavas of the Sea. This section includes pan roasted wild salmon with anchovy-rosemary dressing and broccoli, and mango and salmon tartare.
16 Shellfish and other Seafood Recipes. These include Scallops with ginger and pineapple salsa, and basil and cilantro marinaded squid.
17 Vegetables and Sides Recipes. This section really takes paleo nutrition to heart. Vegetables are combined with rich flavors and plenty of fats to make both delectable and filling sides. Some include: creamed spinach, Ratatouille, and carrot confit.
22 Salads. This is pretty cool. I’ve been a salad girl all my life, and the innovation here went beyond my normal thought patterns. I guess I’m in a bit of a salad rut. In any case, some I’m just itching to try are the kale and seaweed hot salad, tuna salad with apple and orange, and–gods, I love this, it’s so important to be practical– both a canned sardine and a canned salmon salad.
11 Stir Fries. Much like the stews and curries, I think that the stir fries here make for brilliant flavors and paleo playgrounds. This section includes basil and chilli beef stir fry, cabbage and apple stir fry, and spicy shrimp stir fry.
24 Eggs and Omelets! Goodness, I can hardly get over this. Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods out there, and it is so fun to play around with savory and sweet flavors. Some sample omelet and frittata flavors in the book are: cajun, blackberry and honey, lobster, pizza, smoked salmon, and dark chocolate (!).
12 Snacks. Good, I’m glad there’s only twelve. Still each is healthful and tasty and basically the bomb: eg: pork rinds, bacon wrapped dates (!), nut and fruit balls.
17 Offal Recipes. Okay. I think Offal should have gotten a bit of a higher spot. At least above snacks! They’re vital and brilliant and super tasty. However, this slight is made up for the fact that just about every organ is covered here, and many in ways I know aren’t common on the internet. (Sautee liver with onions and pepper, yeah, I get it, thank you eHow.com). Some good looking recipes include: grilled liver with bacon and mushrooms, kidney and orange stew –I can’t wait for that one — chicken liver pate, braised beef heart… You name it, it’s here. Plus, the techniques special to each organ is simply laid out. In this way, you can follow the recipes by heart, or you can take your new offal skills and combine them with different flavors to make spectacular dishes of your own.
14 Soups and Stocks recipes. These are super important for a paleo kitchen repetoire. Instructions for stocks are included, as well as delicious flavors in the soups: Shrimp gumbo, shrimp and salmon chowder, and bacon and parsnip soup are a few stellar ones.
And then the two sections I’m most excited about. This is because, as I’ve been pronouncing the whole time, I think incredibly rich and interesting flavors are easy with a paleo diet. You just need to know how to work the ingredients. The book shows you how, brilliantly, with 54 different sauces:
30 Vinaigrettes, marinades and sauces, including: sauce vierge warm dressing, roasted chilli dressing, chermoula wet rub, and Brazilian chicken marinade.
And 24 Condiments. Let me say that this is awesome. These sauces are home made and lightyears more delicious than that store bought poison. Sebastien includes: mayonnaise (a must, and it looks like his emulsion will work, too), tapenade, tartar sauce, different horseradish varieties, and both a simple and rich ketchup.
15 Breakfast and dessert foods. I like this. Good job on grouping them together. Sebastien seems to put the right emphasis on the right foods–such as the meats, fish, and offal–but to include everything we might want to dabble in regardless. He’s got breakfast burritos, gingersnaps, almond banana pancakes, almond milk custard, and bbq grilled peaches with cinnamon on here. Also, pumpkin pie! Double chocolate cookies! Carrot and orange cake! Oh, how I miss thee, sugar!
10 Smoothies, all of which I’m seriously impressed with. Both simple and complicated flavors here: kale and banana green smoothie, pumpkin smoothie, spicy tomato smoothie, and almond butter and chocolate blueberry smoothie, for example. I like, again, here, how the smoothies are included, but not the stars. Their place seems to say: “go ahead, make me, I will be delicious, but don’t forget that there are over 100 ways to cook a cow listed above.”
And last, but definitely not least:
11 Lacto-fermented vegetables. I’m not sure they deserve to be mentioned so late in the game, but Sebastien makes up for that fact with some really kick ass flavors and techniques. These include: apple and juniper berry sauerkraut, sour dill pickles, lacto-fermented peach chutney, kimchi (woot!), and beef kvass, something I’ve never even heard of but is simple and delicious looking.)
And that’s it! The whole cookbook. Are you tired, too? I want to play Julie and Julia and see if I can make it all in 365 days. That said, reading through the book, it certainly doesn’t seem overwhelming. Rich, yes. Detailed, yes. Informative, absolutely. But not dense, and not repetitive, and not confusing. I am impressed with this cookbook (it is called a recipe book, but you are indeed taught how to cook each type of food, so it could just as easily be called a cookbook) in the same way that I am impressed with the Sebastien’s site: it is organized in a phenomenally intuitive and reachable way. The information is right there and it is just begging you to use it. I am a super critical consumer of books, and believe me, I dug deep to be objective here. And I succeeded. It just so happens that there’s practically nothing I can say against this book.
Included with The Paleo Recipe Book is a Paleo Meal Plan. The Paleo Meal Plan is pretty cool because it is designed both with a budget and your time in mind. A stock prepared one night and may be used again for braising a lunch meal the following day, or breakfast and lunch may be cooked adjacently to the previous night’s dinner, for optimal time management. As a final bonus, the page reference for each recipe is listed under each meal recommendation. All of these things make this really awesome, and super doable, and I commend Sebastien for that fact.
That said, the meal plan is a little bit too conventional for me. I know that this is the point of the meal plan, to be accessible to the masses, and to those who require guidelines to get into the diet, but I have two small problems with the plan: 1) breakfast meals are pretty heavy in carbohydrates and 2) each day includes a snack. Snacks are fine, I guess, but I think we include them in paleo books just because we’re supposed to. And as for the breakfast, the book could unashamedly say: “bacon and steak!” instead of “berries with coconut milk” or “almond flour pancakes” like it actually does. This isn’t to say eggs and meats are ignored, because they are in fact plentiful. It’s just that I find the kowtowing to conventional foods and methods a bit unnecessary.
All that said, you can probably tell I’m thrilled by this book. “The only paleo cookbook anyone will have to buy?” Absolutely. If you want to go ahead and supplement with other books, go ahead. It’s a fruitless exercise, but that’s your decision. The sheer amount of content in this book, as well as the beautiful and easy-to-navigate presentation, make it an absolute must have. There’s this one episode on the Simpson’s where Homer sells his soul to the devil for a doughnut. If I had to pick one culinary item to sell my soul for, it just might be this book, which could guide me in exploring paleo flavors and techniques for years without tiring.
Head over to www.paleorecipebook.com to see some sample pages and read more about Sebastien’s work and book. The Meal Plan and a guide to spices in the kitchen are both currently available for free, and this book is normally forty seven dollars, but right now thirty four dollars, and Wow, I couldn’t believe it when I read that. I was prepared to pay at least one hundred, and this is coming from a girl who lived off of canned tuna in Italy because artisan foods still weren’t worth it.Tweet