A review of the Zenbelly Cookbook: An Epicurean’s Guide to Paleo Cuisine
I first tasted Simone Miller’s cooking at AHS14 (Ancestral Health Symposium 2014). She has a catering business, Zenbelly Catering in San Francisco, CA. She and someone I know named Bob Montgomery of Not So Fast Food Truck fame in San Diego, CA, prepared the presenters’ dinner that I attended in August on the UC Berkeley Campus. The dinner was lovely and so delicious. I think I recognize one of the recipes in her book from that memorable meal. The dinner was lovely and so delicious. I think I recognize one of the recipes in her book from that memorable meal.
This is a lovely new book written and photographed by Simone Miller. I’ve had it for at least two months. So far, I’ve made four recipes from it. My favorite so far was the Perfect Roast Chicken. What make it perfect was the oven temperature and rubbing the skin with sea salt before cooking. I’d never been as generous with the salt. I used coarse Celtic Sea Salt rather than fine. I loved the way the skin became so crispy and delicious. There was only a small amount of pan juices (not a bad thing). The chicken was moist and delicious, even the breast meat. It was cooked uncovered the whole time. I plan to make this again. I want to add dried, powdered rosemary, my favorite way to use the herb. I try it myself and then powder a little at a time, which helps disperse it throughout a dish so people don’t have to bite into twiggy pieces of the herb.
The other dishes I made from it included the Coconut Cauli-Rice, which my friend Noelle was wowed by (she’d never eaten cauliflower “rice”), a Jicama Slaw and a Roasted Cauliflower Soup that I shared with two friends, two days in a row. The slaw had a wonderful crunch and flavor. The Soup was velvety smooth. I’m already a big fan of cauliflower. I would make both dishes again. My friend, Renee made the Ginger Scallion Pork Meatballs and we ate them with the cauliflower Soup, Jicama Slaw and some steamed broccoli. The last dish I made from it was the Best Brussels. I liked them but I still prefer my own roasted Brussels Sprouts (see my post from October on that). Still I enjoyed some of the dish one night last week night with herbed meatballs and Moroccan BBQ Sauce and I ate the leftover Brussels for breakfast the next morning with over easy eggs and wild nori (a sea vegetable).
Zenbelly is a lovely book with so much to offer. Besides beautiful photographs and easy to follow recipes with clear instructions you will find special menus in the back for a Romantic Spring Dinner, A Better than Takeout Feast, a Summer Picnic, a Make Ahead Dinner Party, and a section on How-to tips for newbies who want to see step by step how to hold a knife properly, how to easily perform certain cutting techniques. (She cores and dissects bell peppers the same way I do, which most of my students are amazed to learn ¬¬–– it is less messy and makes the peppers look prettier than the way most people cut peppers and remove the core and seeds and how to slice, dice, and mince various vegetables, cook en pappillote (parchment packets). You will also learn how to cut up a whole chicken, in case this is new to you, set up your mise en place to make cooking go more smoothly and efficiently, how to get the most from the book.
The recipes in Zenbelly are varied, flavorful, appealing and there are many more I’ve flagged that I want to try. If you’re new to eating a paleo or whole foods diet, you’ll learn a bit about how to source the freshest ingredients and what you will need. Some of the most beautiful recipes in the book include the Silver Dollar Pancakes with Blueberry Compote, Loaded Banana Bread with Cashew Cream Cheese, Plantain Shoestring Fries, Brazilian Fish Stew, The Perfect Roast Chicken, and Eggs Benedict.
One of the most inventive recipes is the Sweet Cinnamon Cereal (I’ve never seen anything like it), Sesame Zucchini Noodles, and Lemon Pound Cake (the cake looks like something I made as a teenager, but better and healthier. The Grilled Sardines look amazing to me. I grew up eating canned sardines as a kid. I’ve never had fresh ones. I would love to find and cook some.
You’ll find dishes for every occasion, including, birthdays, holidays, entertaining, making lovely housewarming gifts for a friends or a new mom. You will also find a warm and wonderful looking chili and things like crackers and flat breads to serve with soups, salads, dips or spreads as a starter for any meal or party.
The Zenbelly Cookbook would make a great gift for the food lovers in your life, particularly someone who is interested in learning to cook paleo, primal, grain-free, gluten-free, whole foods meals with fresh ingredients.
This is another Victory Belt title. I highly recommend it.
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