Friday, September 5, 2014

The Ancestral Table by Russ Crandall

Over the past few months, I've been cooking through Russ Crandall's The Ancestral Table.  If you've not heard of the book, you might know Russ better from his blog The Domestic Man.  I really admire Russ.  I often look at The Domestic Man and wonder how week in and week out he is able to publish a new post with a new recipe presented in such an elegant manner.  He reminds me what a hack I am at this blogging thing.  I was honored that he thought to send me a review copy and selected a few recipes to blog here to give you a feeling for what his lovely cookbook has to offer.  

The Recipes:

My first stop in reviewing this cookbook was a recipe that had been tempting me since I'd seen pictures of it in my social network feeds, the Japchae. One of Russ's guiding nutritional principles is to make historically appropriate dishes and that includes traditional and international foods and there are many recipes in the book with Asian origins.  This was my first time cooking and eating sweet potato noodles.  If you've not tried them, they aren't like any pasta noodle you've tried before.  This dish was fresh and light, yet filling at the same time.  

My next review was the Salisbury Steak and I was not disappointed.  In fact, out of all the recipes I've tried so far, this was my favorite.  The meat was incredibly juicy and had a lovely herby flavor. With a total preparation and cooking time just under 45 minutes, this could be a weeknight dinner.

Next up, were Russ's Lemongrass Pork Chops.  I made this recipe both on the grill and in the oven and while both were great, I preferred the oven version.  The flavor of these chops only improves over night.  Two words come to mind when I think about these chops:  juicy and tender.  

The Rogan Josh gave me another opportunity to try some flavors I'd not before.  The star of this dish is the Kashmiri chili pepper.  Make sure to check out my review to get suggestions for finding this spice. This dish, as you would expect, has a full flavor with a little heat that only improves the next day.  This dish does take a little while to simmer, but its well worth the investment in time. 

My last stop in my culinary journey through The Ancestral Table took me to Kenya.  The Sukuma Wiki, with a total preparation and cooking time right around 30 minutes gives you a complete meal with great flavor for any weeknight.   Think super charged emergency protein.  

As you would expect, given the excellent photography on Russ's blog, The Ancestral Table each recipe is accompanied by a photograph that is sure to make you hungry.  


In addition to the 115 recipes in the book, Russ offers some great resources.  First he discusses his "dietary and culinary tenants." Whether you are well versed or new to a paleo template of eating, Russ's take helps you to understand his ingredient choices and also make your own decisions about the ingredients you choose to use in your kitchen.  I really enjoyed the thoughtful and concise way he presents his version of the paleo template.  He addresses some of the less common ingredients he uses, tools, and cooking techniques.  He provides a great primer on grilling and smoking that I will be using in the near future.  

I was really glad to see that Russ included a substitution guide in the cookbook as well that provides suggestions for making his recipes a little more "strict" paleo.  I was also impressed that there was a fairly detailed index that made finding recipes by name or ingredient easy.  

All that and AIP Friendly too!

For those of you who are following an Autoimmune Protocol, Russ has even taken the time to create an AIP guide to the cookbook on his blog.   Very nearly half of the recipes in the cook book are either AIP or easily made AIP.  

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!

If you've been on the fence about getting a copy of The Ancestral Table, hesitate no longer.  Buy the book.  You won't regret it.  Get it for the Salisbury Steak recipe alone.  It's worth it.  I have many more recipes tagged that I'm looking forward to cooking from this beautiful book.  

Thank you Russ for creating this awesome cookbook!  I am honored to have it prominently placed on my cookbook shelf in my kitchen.  

Blog Note:  If anything, I aim to please around here and while my posts have not been as regular as I would like, it doesn't mean I don't have some great things in the works in my kitchen. As I aim to please tell me, before I get to reviews of recipes from The Paleo Mom's Autoimmune Cookbook, which post would you like to see next: 

1.  Paleo Snack Foods -  This post has a compilation of some great paleo snack foods that could be good while your on the go.  I've been asked for suggestions for good camping foods before and some of these would certainly fit the bill.  

2.  PaleoPro Protein Powder and Paleo Recovery Powder -  PaleoPro graciously sent me some samples of these two products.  I'm thinking of starting a running protein powder post, so this could be the beginning of a new food quest, or 

3.  A recipe for an Herb/Spice Blend that's pretty much great on anything (I call it my Poor Man's Sunny Paris Seasoning).

Leave a comment letting me know what piques your interest.