First of all, I owe an apology to lots of folks that we’ve not blogged or reviewed anything as of late. On the book tour, it was about hours of travel by plane or car or ferry, and media spots, and caring for the baby and trying to keep our heads straight while away from home. When we got back, I was burnt like toast. It was everything I could do to try and get milk supply back up, getting the man-baby back on some kind of schedule, and of course not feel like a slacker mom. We’re now digging in our heels and are pouring through the many books that have been sitting on our bookcase, waiting for us to dive in and make something. The first of these books (full disclosure: received as a complimentary review copy) actually arrived on our doorstep right as we were packing up for the book tour, and I brought it along with me for the trip to peruse (drool over) at every spare moment. Let’s give you a little back story first:
The first time I met Melissa Joulwan was at the Ancestral Health Symposium in Los Angeles in 2011. Charles and I plopped down in seats behind her, and I said something like, “Oh, you’re Melissa of The Clothes Make the Girl, right?” Off the bat, she gave me a hug. And not one of those weak hugs, it was a strong, solid hug, as though she had known me for years. Let me do a little sidenote here: As Charles and I did not start out on this whole Paleo journey as bloggers, I know for a fact she had no idea who we were, so the fact that she gave me a hug right off the bat pretty much sealed the deal that she was and is one of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.
I sat behind Mel, and took note of her (but not in a creepy-stalker-kind-of-way, I swear!). Her penmanship told me, “Ah, she’s one of those super creative people, with really nice handwriting, who could probably address wedding invitations for a living if she wanted.” Her clothes – well her blog is The Clothes Make the Girl, so ‘nuff said there. And she took copious amounts of notes, making me feel like a slacker as I am apt to feel.
Fast forward to the first-ever PaleoFx in Austin, Mel’s current (but maybe not-for-long) hometown. She and Dave (her other half who I had not met before, and who made me feel short) had us and some other bloggers over for supper. This lead to imbibing and all sorts of scribblings on the paper tablecloth she had laid out on that beautiful evening in her backyard. She made little appetizers that paid homage to the recipes of some of the guests at the table, and then she made a fabulous feast for us all to enjoy. This was, of course, a few months after Well Fed hit the world with all its glory, treating people to amaze-balls recipes like Bora Bora Fireballs, Pad Thai and Sunshine Sauce. Not only is the book amazing with the recipes contained, but the layout and photos are so unique, so creative, and so fun, that you’d be hard-pressed to find any cookbook anywhere that is remotely similar. Oh and about 99% of both books are totally Whole30 compliant!
That is, in fact, not an entirely true statement anymore. Well Fed 2—which just released last month—is somewhat similar to Well Fed…and while I could say better, that isn’t fair to Well Fed, and would make you think Well Fed isn’t awesome (because it is). It’s like that favorite restaurant of yours opening a second location, equidistant from your house. You still love the first, and return to it often, but the second has new things to love and adore too! What you’ll find in Well Fed 2 (like in the OG Well Fed): The trim size and the fact that Melissa and Dave self-published and self-photographed these books are common to both (and, I might add, no small feat at all to self publish, do all that work together, and still be married!). The outstanding design and layout isn’t identical, but keeps within the theme. Oh, and the head notes and “tasty ideas” for each recipe are an absolute joy, as always. With all that’s the same, you may be wondering, “Well, is there any difference?!?” Um, hello, can you say a veritable crap ton of new recipes? We’ll get to that in a second.
While I love Mel’s recipes, I absolutely adore her approach to life, her wit and witticism and her unique narrative which comes through in spades all throughout the book. Let me give you some examples. In her “About the Book” section, she states clear as day that this isn’t a diet or health book. She writes, “…my mission isn’t to clobber you with the healthfulness of the recipes in the book. My mission is to inspire you with stories and tempt you with recipes that will make you want to smash your face with joy.” Recipes that make you want to smash your face with joy. What’s not to love about that whole quote?! Or how about the following, “Cook for an additional 3 minutes or so while you daydream of the craggy shores of the Mediterranean.” I mean, c’mon! She even quotes Casablanca (and not the usual “Here’s looking at you, kid…”).
While I haven’t had time to cook my way through this book, I’ve drooled over a plenty, and made a few choice items that spoke to me. For example, we just so happened to have all the ingredients for Pan-Fried Sardines (page 158). I know what you’re thinking: Sardines? The fish in the can? Hear me out: Sardines are inexpensive, sustainable (for the most part, especially if you’re talking about actually consuming them vs. them being used as food for other fish) and one of the healthiest fish-foods one can eat. Evidently, generations before ours were frequent sardine consumers. Somehow, someway, that has fallen off. I tried Mel’s recipe for sardines, using the Spanish adaptation she noted, and it was delish. Especially when paired with my new favorite condiment.
Yes, there’s a new sauce that is currently on my favorites list. Sorry Chipotle Dipping Sauce, Sriracha, Cave Ketchup, and all others. I still love you too, but for now, there’s a new kid in town: Romesco sauce. “Nubbly” and—just like she says—delicious on eggs, sweet potatoes, steak, burgers, and pretty much everything else, this condiment is sure to be a favorite (that is of course so long as you don’t have to ignore peppers, which would be really sad for me). Honestly, this stuff is delish. However, a word of caution: most romesco restaurant recipes incorporate bread (stale bread at that!) in the sauce. Yes, I know, weird. Just know that if you’re ever tempted to order something with romesco sauce because you absolutely adored the recipe from Well Fed 2, you need to check and make sure they haven’t added bread. Wah wah wah.
Now, I know you all probably want the recipe, and I’m going to be nice and give it to you. However, the hope is that this inspires you to buy Mel’s book because it’s got 100+ other fabulous recipes and all sorts of fun snippets that I know you’ll enjoy. Oh, and make sure you keep reading for how you can enter to win this fabulous book!
- 1 dried ancho chile
- 2-3 cups boiling water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped (about 2/3 cup)
- 1 (12 ounce) jar piquillo peppers, drained and chopped
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1. Cut the ancho chile in half lengthwise and remove the stem, ribs and seeds (it's easiest to do this with kitchen shears rather than a knife). Place in a medium-sized bowl, cover with boiling water, and set aside for 30 minutes.
- 2. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over very low heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne and salt, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- 3. Drain the ancho chile and chop it, then add it to the pan. Cook about 2 minutes. Add the tomato; stir until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the piquillo peppers, stirring to combine everything. Cook an additional 3 minutes or so while you daydream of the craggy shores of the Mediterranean.
- 4. Carefully (!) transfer to the bowl of a food processor and run the motor until it's almost smooth - I saw this described in one recipe as "nubbly." Add the vinegar and pulse until combined. Allow to cool to room temperature before eating. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
We’ll choose one lucky person to receive their own copy of Well Fed 2 PLUS a pair of Well Fed socks (heck, I don’t even own a pair of those)!
To enter, leave us a comment below with your most favorite food that makes you feel “Well Fed.”
If you simply must get your hands on Well Fed 2 (or Well Fed) ASAP, go on and order it here or here or here (or go and find it at a real life bookstore!). Follow Mel on Facebook or Twitter, because you never know what fun stuff she’ll be sharing!
Okay, now before you go and get making your vat of Romesco sauce, go on and enter the contest! Share with some friends! Feel the love!