Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy, Gluten-free Meals the Easy Way (Anglais) Relié – 6 mars 2013
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Arsy Vartanian (Santa Cruz, CA) is a foodie and Paleo diet success story herself. Her blog Rubies and Radishes (formerly 30 Days of Paleo) features tasty and inventive meals for those Paleo obsessed. She is also doing Cross Fit like many of her fellow Paleo dieters.
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Over the last couple of weeks, we have prepared several recipes from the cookbook. We have yet to be disappointed by the finished product, but the recipe directions and lack of photographs leave much to be desired. Here are examples of the lack of clarity in the directions:
-No note on when to add ingredients - Pear Ginger Pork Chops - no note to add cinnamon and allspice
-Vague instructions - Paleo Chicken Adobo - "Put the chicken and all the other ingredients into a bowl", but really means all except the ghee. It made for an interesting marinade when my husband prepared it with the ghee included
-No information on how to prepare a given ingredient - Paleo Beef Casserole - garlic sliced, crushed, smashed, minced? Chicken with Butternut Squash and Figs - leave chicken breasts whole? Cube? If whole, shred at the end?
We have found flaws in all but one recipe we have prepared thus far. I would definitely not recommend this for a novice or beginner cook because of the room for interpretation left by the lack of explicit instruction. One would think that the delays in publishing would have afforded ample time for recipe editing and testing.
Here's the rub. I can't quit this cookbook because the food is delicious. I find myself reaching for it as I make my weekly meal plan and including at least 2-3 meals from it. As someone following an Autoimmune Protocol, I was pleasantly surprised to find at least a few recipes in each section that do not include nightshades. We have thoroughly enjoyed each dish we have prepared, and my husband has requested the Beef Roast with Beets and Tarragon enter the regular rotation. I do think most of the chicken recipes would benefit from a 4-5 hour cooking time, rather than 6 hours, but that's an easy adjustment to make personally.
Overall, if you can get past the editing and lack of food photography, the food is good. I almost wish I had held out for a reprint with edits in place, though.
Things I don't like....they definitely did NOT proofread. We have made 5 recipes so far. In every single one there are ingredients listed that aren't in the instructions anywhere, ingredients in the instructions not on the list, or what looks to be part of another recipe's ingredient list inserted mid-sentence in the instructions. I have just kind of guessed what I thought it was supposed to be.
This would be okay if the recipes where any good. But every one has been "okay." Edible, but nothing we'd bother to make again (or serve anyone else). We've been eating strict paleo for a few years now,and cooking for a very long time,so we've started trying to amp them up a bit (adding more spices, deglazing the pan when it calls for browning the meat - why wouldn't you do this if your already browning the meat? missing stuff like this makes me think the authors haven't been cooking very long)but it hasn't helped much.
Oh, and I REALLY dislike that there is no recipe list under the table of content headings (i.e. what beef recipes are under the beef section?). There is an alphabetical index in the back, but that isn't useful unless you know the exact name of a particular recipe you're looking for. I like to be able to quickly scan and see what I've tried/get ideas without flipping page by page.
We'll keep trying recipes from it, although I usually half them now to not waste expensive meat, etc. (we buy free-range) on something that likely will just be okay. But if you're new to paleo, don't get this book! There are better ones out there, and I think it might turn you off. But if you're not new and/or have been cooking a long time and don't mind tweaking the recipes some, then it's okay. But really, save your money.
"> Sauté onion in a 2 lb lean ground beef 1/2 cup sliced pimento stuffed green olive heavy pan over medium high for 5 minutes until translucent."
This is an example of the simple, but unfortunately common, errors that permeate the book. For those who are curious, it should read:
"> Sauté onion in a heavy pan over medium high [heat] for 5 minutes, until translucent."
By the way, ground beef and green olives both appear in this recipe, but in different quantities, and the olives aren't stuffed.
Virtually every recipe has some sort of typo, or the ingredients list is organized horribly, or a step is missing. In most paleo cookbooks, the oil or type of fat is specific, since some have strong flavors. In this recipe, no fat or oil is listed at all, while In another recipe, the first instruction simply says sauté the vegetables, and butter is listed last in the ingredients list. That was annoying, as I just reached for olive oil and was cooking, before I realized I was supposed to sauté in butter. It changes the flavor of the dish, and anyone who knows how to cook or write recipes knows that you list ingredients in the order that you use them.
Another minus is that the author loves to sauté things prior to putting them in the slow cooker. The buyer should be aware that many of these dishes require 20-30 minutes of prep and pre-cooking before letting the slow cooker finish. ALSO, and this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, the author wants you to brown most of the meat. Unfortunately, many of the chicken dishes use breast or boneless thigh meat, and the chicken comes out dry and mealy (horribly overcooked). I understand that she's trying to develop flavor, but many of these dishes really only need to cook 4 hours on low, not 6, as specified, so if you have a digitally-controlled slow cooker that kicks down to warm, keep that in mind.
HOWEVER, once you fight your way through the directions, the recipes I have tried are quite good. Ingredients are typical of a paleo kitchen/house, and there is a wide variety of dishes from many cuisines, which I VERY much prefer. Keep in mind that there is no apparent effort to divide them into seasonal dishes, so you may not find things like dried figs, leeks, fennel, or fresh okra year-round. If you are looking for flavorful paleo dishes, and you are ready to make some adjustments on the fly, many of these recipes are quite good.
As an experienced restaurant and home cook, this cookbook is incredibly annoying. The flavors are very good, but you will likely run into one or more issues, including cooking time/temp, in most recipes. I've found nothing better, though, and it is a useful starting point, if you have enough experience to modify your cooking methods, as needed.