Homemade Sauces: Mayo, Harissa, & Chimichurri


I’ve always been a bit intimidated by homemade mayonnaise, but if you’re eating Paleo and you want mayo, then you need to make it yourself(because you can’t have canola oil).  First I whipped out my fancy schmancy Vitamix (which instantly gave me confidence).  I got started making the mayo according to the Vitamix instructions and almost immediately my eggs were scrambled from the heat of the motor.  I’m sure that I could have tried again and lowered the speed and that would have solved the problem.  But, I didn’t want to play trial and error. So I moved on to the food processor, after all, it’s how Mark Bittman makes his mayo.  Same problem.  Cooked eggs in about 2 seconds.  Next, the hand blender.  No emulsification.  Fail.  Fine, I guess I will to whisk it by hand, the old fashioned way.  I whisked until I thought my arm would fall off and the result was nothing short of amazing.  The mayo came out great and was so silky and delicious – incomparable to the store bought stuff.  I will definitely be making this again.

The Best Homemade Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk

1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice

¼ tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp salt

¾ cup *light* olive oil

Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk to combine everything well.

Whisking with fury, gradually add oil to the yolk mixture.  Start with just a few drops at a time, then add it in a slow stream.  Whisk like crazy until the oil is gone.  And don’t forget to breathe.


My little lady enjoying harissa and chimichurri. Brings a tear to my eye.

I’ve been wanting to make harissa for awhile.  I did some research and came up with this concoction that was extremely easy, very delicious (even my 4 and 5 year olds loved it), and, gasp, healthy!  We dipped almond meal crusted chicken tenders in it, but I think I will be dipping grilled chicken in it, come summer.  Here’s the recipe:


2 red peppers

2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press

½ tsp red pepper flakes

½ tsp cumin

¼ cup olive oil

A good squeeze of lemon juice


Char the peppers on the grill.  Cover and let steam for a few minutes.  Peel off the black stuff and remove the seeds and stem.  Put the peppers, along with the rest of the ingredients in the food processor.  Add salt to taste.  Done.


While I realize that Chimichurri is traditionally served in Argentina with steak; I personally love it with vegetables.  Greens beans and asparagus are particularly good matches.  Try this very simple recipe from Mark Bittman; no special equipment needed.


Mangia e bevi come ti pare ma vestiti come si conviene.

“You can eat and drink the way you like, as long as you know how to dress accordingly.” – Italian Proverb

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Mouthwatering Chicken (and Magic Garlic Gravy!)


Here are a few chicken recipes I have made over the last few weeks.  When I want to make something fast but still satisfying, I immediately think of Chicken and Pineapple Skewers.  Chicken, pineapple, on a skewer – sprinkle with salt (or soy sauce) and some toasted sesame oil.  Grill until chicken is cooked through.  The sesame oil adds a terrific flavor, and you only need a little bit.  (Trader Joes carries it for a good price)  These skewers disappear in my house.


This picture does not do the chicken or the gravy justice.

Ina Garten has a recipe for Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic in her book, Barefoot in Paris, and I’ve always wanted to make it.  In order to make it Paleo compliant, I left out the Cognac, white wine, flour, and heavy cream.  I was worried that it wouldn’t be as good, but then I had an idea to puree the garlic with the chicken stock, and it turned out incredible.   The gravy had such amazing flavor and my husband didn’t believe that it didn’t have cream in it.  I’m calling it magic gravy.  I will be adding this into my regular rotation of meals.

Chicken with 30 cloves of Garlic with Magic Garlic Gravy

Adapted from Ina Garten

30 peeled cloves of garlic (Trader Joes and Costco sell peeled cloves)

1 4 ½-5 pound chicken, cut into eighths (or whatever combination of chicken pieces you want)

1 T butter (or ghee)

1 T olive oil

1 ½ cups of chicken stock

Season chicken liberally with kosher salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  In batches, sauté the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes on each side.  Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don’t want to pierce the skin with a fork.  If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium.  Put the chicken pieces on a plate.  Add all of the garlic cloves to the pot.  Lower the heat and sauté for 5-10 minutes turning often, until evenly browned.  Add the chicken stock and return to a boil and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pot with the juices.  Cover and summer over low heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken and half the garlic cloves to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Raise the heat and cook down the broth just a bit.  Pour broth and garlic from pot either into a blender or use a hand blender to blend together.  Taste to see if it needs more salt or if you want to throw in a few more of those garlic cloves.  You can either pour the sauce over the chicken or you can pass the gravy separately, which is what I did.

*Next time I will double the garlic and chicken stock, just so I can have more gravy.

*You can make this ahead, just refrigerate the chicken with the sauce an reheat over low heat before serving.


Chicken Francese

We ate a lot of Italian food growing up and one of my favorite things was Chicken Francese: thin chicken breast filets dredged in flour and then dipped in egg and cooked in olive oil – add in some wine and lemon and you’re good to go.  Fast enough for a weeknight meal, but impressive enough for company.

Chicken Francese

2 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about a pound or so)

Flour for dredging (if Paleo, use almond meal)

Salt and Pepper

2 eggs, beaten

olive oil

½ small lemon, with rind, cut into thin rounds

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup dry white wine (skip if Paleo)

½ small lemon, juiced

1 T butter or ghee

chopped parsley

Put chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap on a cutting board.  Pound until they are about ¼ inch thick (to me, pounding away at a chicken breast is very cathartic).  Cut the chicken into more manageable sized pieces.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Dredge the chicken in the flour or almond meal, dip them into the beaten egg, and add the chicken to the skillet and fry until golden, about 2 minutes on each side.  You will probably need to do this in 2 batches.  Remove the chicken to a platter.

Toss the lemon slices into the pan and cook for a minute or two.  Add the chicken broth (wine if you’re using it) and lemon juice, and simmer for a few minutes to reduce a bit.  Add the butter to the skillet (add a bit of flour to the butter if you want a thicker sauce) and swirl it around.  Reduce the heat and return the chicken to the pan to get warmed through.  Sprinkle parsley on top.  Enjoy.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be making Tandoori chicken (using coconut milk instead of yogurt for marinating), almond crusted chicken tenders, and Buffalo chicken wings.  All Paleo and all delicious.  Although it would be nice to dunk the chicken wings into a rich, thick, blue cheese sauce……mmmmmm……..only a couple more weeks until the return of my beloved cheese.

“A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

What to do with all those vegetables?


Purple brussel sprouts at the farmers market!

Okay, I’m 2 weeks into the Paleo plan and I have yet to feel my energy burst or clearer skin.  But I am still holding out hope!  I’m normally a person who craves things a few times a week.  I get it in my head and then I have to have it.  It’s like I’m pregnant all of the time.  It drives my husband nuts.  The weird thing is, on this Paleo diet, I haven’t had cravings for anything!  That said, my palate is getting a little bit bored eating 2 servings of vegetables with every meal.  So, what is a gal to do?  Get creative with her veggies.


Roasting Veggies – not only do I think it produces the best tasting vegetables (you know, those crispy caramelized bits), but it’s also hands off, so you can tend to other parts of the meal.  The favorites in our house are broccoli (roast with stalks up), brussel sprouts (I quarter them – these are especially good tossed with browned butter and some lemon juice – a-maz-ing), butternut squash (cubed), and fennel (my personal fav, since it really transforms from the raw version – it’s like candy).  It’s easy – heat your oven to 400 degrees and toss the veggies with a good amount of olive oil and kosher salt.  Spread in an even layer and roast for about 10-15 minutes and toss around and roast for a few more minutes.  You can also use the same technique and make amazing carrot and sweet potato fries.

Veggie Fritters

Dreamy chef, Curtis Stone, makes these amazing vegetable fritters that my whole family gobbles up.  I grate some carrots, zucchinis, and onion.  Add an egg or two and some salt and pepper.  Cook in some olive oil and enjoy your vegetables in a new way.


Skip the tears with scuba goggles!

Caramelized onions are a must have in your cooking repertoire.  This recipe from Ina Garten is my go-to recipe.  I like to cook mine down so that it’s more like an onion jam.  They are amazing on burgers, a great topping for pizzas, or delicious added to scrambled eggs.  And they freeze very well.



I love greens, but get bored of salads real fast, especially in winter.  Sauteed kale in olive oil (or cook some bacon first and sauté in the delicious fat that renders) is amazing and I make it every week.  I also love to sauté spinach and then add some lemon juice and pine nuts at the end and you are in for a real treat.  Indian Greens: To say that I love Indian food would be a major understatement.  Indian spices make any vegetable taste amazing.  As far as greens go, I love Saag Paneer.  Here’s a link to a yummy picture of it.  My favorite Indian spice blend is garam masala – try sprinkling on your veggies.

Some other veggie ideas are sweet potato hash, butternut squash soup (more on soups next week).  And don’t forget about the magic of spaghetti squash – it’s amazing how a vegetable can mimic pasta!

And, sauces and condiments are your friend: Gravies (I have an amazing roasted garlic gravy to share with you next week), chimichurri (recipe next week) on green beans is incredible, hollandaise (recipe next week) over asparagus, and salsa pretty much tastes everything taste better.

One last idea, sautéed cabbage with some apples and apple cider vinegar.  It’s a nice change a pace and a beautiful color!  Got the idea from a great book, Practical Paleo.

Next week, chicken dishes, beef dishes, and soups.  “Like” Tinycookbigappetite.com on Facebook if you want to be notified in your news feed anytime I have a new post.  Or you can sign up for e-mail subscription on the right hand side of my homepage.  Bon appetit!


New Kitchen, the Paleo Experiment, & the Best Roast Chicken



The tiny cook is back and I have a lot to talk about.  First, drum roll please…I have a fabulous new kitchen!  I’d like to thank Ikea for making affordable cabinetry and Home Depot for dealing with my price haggling on my 2 ranges (with 2 warming drawers).  I am so grateful for the new hub of our house.


Old kitchen

What have I been cooking in my new kitchen?  Well, I’m glad you asked because I have been cooking up a storm over the holidays and now I’m ready for a healthy start to the New Year (aren’t we all?)  After hearing so many wonderful things about the Paleo diet, I decided to give it a try for 30 days to cleanse my body of all the wine and cheese I ate over the holidays.  Let me first say that as someone with a foodie heart, I do not plan on sticking with this way of eating for the rest of my life.  For me, this is a way for me to create some new, healthy eating habits and it’s a fun food challenge.  What is Paleo?  To sum it up, eat like the cavemen used to eat: each meal should include a palm size piece of organic protein (pastured and/or grass fed is best), 2 thumb sized knobs of fat (ghee, olive oil, & coconut oil are good), and the rest of your plate should be filled with veggies.  No dairy, no grains of any kind, no legumes.  You can read more details about it here.

I have just finished the first week and so far I feel pretty good.  No withdrawal headaches or crazy cravings.  I haven’t felt that bloated feeling you feel after eating a giant bowl of pasta, but besides that, nothing earth shattering.  The 3rd and 4th weeks I’m supposed to feel “Tiger Blood” – a huge energy boost that is supposed to come along with clear skin.  I’ll keep you posted on that.  For now, here is a list of things I ate for the first week:

Week 1

The first recipe I’d like to highlight is Lemon Roast Chicken, which is incredibly satisfying and cooks fast enough to make it weeknight material.  This recipe is a must-try.


Lemon Roast Chicken

This recipe is adapted from Cook’s Country

1 (4-5 pound) whole chicken, backbone removed (save this in your freezer to make stock later), and butterflied (*this can be done the night before)

3 Tablespoons grated zest, plus 1/3 cup juice from 2-3 lemons

(*Note – I used Meyer lemons because that’s what’s growing in my yard, but you can use regular lemons, you just might want to add 1 tsp of sugar to the zest)

Salt and Pepper

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

1 – Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Combine lemon zest and 1 tsp salt.  Rub 2 Tablespoons zest mixture under skin of chicken (breasts and legs).  Season chicken with plenty of kosher salt and some pepper and transfer to a small roasting pan or a 9x 13 cake pan.  (If the pan is too big, the liquid will evaporate and burn your pan – trust me, it happened to me).

2 – Whisk broth, water, lemon juice, and remaining zest mixture together and add it to the roasted pan.  (The liquid should just reach skin of thighs.  If it doesn’t, add enough water to reach the skin.)  Roast until skin is golden brown and thigh meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, about 40 minutes.  Transfer to cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes.

3 – Eat the delicious, crispy skin and then carve and enjoy!  A 5 pound chicken feeds my family of 4 for dinner, plus I have plenty of leftovers for sandwiches and chicken salad all week long.

*You can make a light gravy with the juices and some cornstarch, but I find the jus in the pan so flavorful by itself.


*Another goal for the New Year is to learn to take better pictures for the blog.  Be patient with me.  They are coming.

*Also, I have a Facebook page now, so “Like” me on Facebook if you want to be notified in your news feed anytime I have a new post.  Or you can sign up for e-mail subscription on the right hand side of my homepage.  Thanks for your support and happy cooking and eating!

L’appetito e la salsa piu buona che ci sia. 

“Appetite is the best condiment there is.”

-Italian Proverb