A Hamburger Today

Cook the Book: 'Nom Nom Paleo' by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong

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The Paleo diet is pretty far from my diet of choice. Frankly, I eat I pretty strict non-Paleo diet: very little meat, lots of beans and lentils, and plenty of good bread. I could toy with the idea of giving up beans and eating more meat, but bread? There's too much wonderful bread here in the Bay Area to even begin to consider it.

Despite my fanatical allegiance to grains, I'm willing to experiment with some Paleo cooking with the help of well-known blogger, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo. (Consider this week my equivalent of Kenji and Ed's vegan experience—except it's kind of the opposite.) Tam, along with her husband, Henry Fong, just released a graphic novel-esque cookbook celebrating their quirky approach to the popular Paleo diet. The book is over 50% photographs amended with colorful cartoons, with recipes that are cheerful and lighthearted to match. And while the duo is both proud of and sincere about their dietary choices, they are far from self-righteous; this is no diet handbook. Even without considering the recipes, though, the book is a fun read.

Tam and Fong lay out the basics of the diet—no grains or legumes, no processed foods, little to no dairy, plenty of meat and vegetables—before diving into the recipes. The first chapter is devoted to Paleo staples like nut-based "cheeses," ghee, egg-based dipping sauces, and how-tos for cooking bacon and eggs. After that, the book's format is similar to most any cookbook published today: there are soups and salads, vegetable mains, seafood, poultry, meat, and desserts. Tam's directions are clear and concise, and her aim is as much to teach people to cook just as it is to explain the Paleo diet. Many of the recipes don't contain any diet-based substitutions, and the number of vegetable-based dishes certainly surprised me.

But as a non-Paleo eater, I was most curious about those Paleo substitutions like nut "cheese" and the supplemental staples like bone broth. I'm guessing you are, too. So this week, we'll learn how to make macadamia nut "ricotta," a gelatinous broth, and cauliflower "rice," before transforming these basics into eggplant- and "ricotta"-stacked appetizers, fried "rice," and a beefy chili.

Win 'Nom Nom Paleo'

Thanks to our friends at Andrews McMeel, we have five (5) copies of Nom Nom Paleo to give away this week. All you need to do for a chance to win is to tell us what food you think of when you hear the words "paleo diet" in the comments section below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.

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