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Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk Paperback – June 23, 2015
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About the Author
Russ Crandall is the talented home chef behind The Domestic Man, a leading food blog in the Paleo, gluten-free, and whole foods communities. In his 20s he suffered a number of life-threatening illnesses, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition--and was sent home with a lifetime's worth of medications. Disenchanted with modern medicine, Russ started searching for his own answers and quickly discovered that eating a gluten-free, nutrient-rich diet alleviated most of the medical issues that had plagued him for years.
Taking cues from traditional cuisines, The Domestic Man inspires readers to look to historical recipes for that ever-elusive key to health. His work has been featured in People Magazine, Food & Wine, and was nominated by Saveur Magazine as one of the Best Food Blogs of 2013. He released his debut cookbook, The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle, through Victory Belt Publishing in February 2014.
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Top customer reviews
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Truth is, I'll enjoy a good grass-fed steak any day, but frankly turn my nose up at the plethora of Paleo pretend foods which have arisen in recent years and which bear as much resemblance to the real thing as a scratch n' sniff sticker.
Until this book.
They call him the Domestic Man, but he comes close to the Domestic Magician. These recipes are awesome!
Russ uses real food ingredients to make real food versions of favorite take-out items, all of which are good first in their own right and second as "versions" of other things. He covers favorite dishes from many ethnic traditions, drawing on his experience and travels and a wealth of authentic flavors and techniques.
I had long ago given up on good Buffalo wings that didn't come delivered in a Styrofoam box. Russ's were not only equal; they were in fact superior to local delivery. His pizza crust? Better than any gluten-free version in NYC (and that includes our fancy pants restaurants).
Also tried to great delight: gyros (including homemade Tzatziki sauce made with homemade mayo and served on homemade flatbread). We had a gyro making party and the UPS guy stopped in and tried one, and even he rated it an A+! A note on the flatbread--it does not taste like pita; it does taste better! At first when we tried it on its own I was nervous, because while tasty it was "different"--chewier and a little sweeter. However, when it actually was used in the assembled gyros the flavors were a perfect marriage! And it's consistency held together better than traditional pita/flatbread--I can only say it is an improvement over the "real" thing.
We also made Eggplant Parmesan (with Italian Grandma-worthy homemade sauce); Mongolian Beef & General Tso's Chicken; Chicken Tikka Masala (approved my Indian friend for authenticity); Chicken Nuggets (perfect consistency) and all were delicious and worthy so serving even to non-Paleo company. Note: the savory recipes seem to be closest in taste to the "real" thing (e.g. the Chicken Tikka Masala), while the sweeter recipes (e.g. General Tso's) are good in their own right, but less closely mimic the restaurant version, no doubt due to the absence of high fructose corn syrup and canola soaked fried breading. Similarly, the "bread recipes" e.g. pizza crust and gyro flatbread are awesome, but do not taste "just like" the "real" thing. Enjoy them on their own, but let's not play pretend.
The recipes in this book are not fast-food in the literal sense. Keep in perspective that this book is named for a demographic whose meal preparation began with meat that still had a pulse, and you’ll be more satisfied with the actual work and time involved. Most will take about an hour, though some a little less and some a lot more, and a few need to marinate overnight or even for a few days. (Russ does have a handy chart which spells out the timing for various recipes, as well as ideas on how to make them more quickly and efficiently. There are some that can go "fridge to face" in 30 minutes if you are efficient).
You will also have to play hunter-gatherer to procure some unusual ingredients: arrowroot, tapioca starch, mirin, coconut aminos, lard. (And you may wish to invest in a bulk bottle of white pepper, which seems to be Russ's BFF). They are not for the cheap or lazy or those with bland taste buds.
This book is great for anyone who loves food, Paleo or not. This book is NOT for the fat-phobic, vegans, vegetarians, or those offended by the inclusion of "debatable" Paleo items such as dairy (mostly butter or yogurt) or potato starch or honey. It is adaptable for those on Whole 30 or AIP (Auto-Immune Protocol)--see The Domestic Man web site for how.
Nor is it for those seeking Paleo desserts. I applaud Russ for this decision, and I think it adds to his credibility as a chef. Just say no to fake food!
Bottom line: buy the book. Real food for real people, in the cave or in the real world.
With this new book Russ lets down his hair a little bit and parties with the rest of us mere culinary mortals. The Ancestral Table is for when you have some more time to cook; Paleo Takeout is for when you want your food fast. (You probably will need less time than you would need to drive to a restaurant once you get the hang of it.) But don’t think that the meals you cook from the new book will be short on Domestic Man quality. Case in point: I just cooked the green curry for friends (with the beef meatballs—amazing) and one of them said: “this is the first time I’ve ever had Thai food outside of a restaurant that actually tastes authentic.” I of course put a cocky smile on my face as if I had had something to do with it. But it was actually Russ—spending all that time researching the history of food, and sneaking into the kitchens of Asian restaurants.
OK, let me try to get some more information across here. The majority of the food in the book is indeed Asian, but if you think about it, that kind of makes sense: Asian fast food menus just have more items than “American” fast food menus. There are plenty of American standards on offer, though: interesting burgers (buns are mostly tapioca starch!), pizza (tapioca and potato crust!), wings with lots of different sauces and rubs, chicken nuggets, spaghetti and meatballs, fajitas, etc., etc. I find the Asian selections interesting: there are a lot of dishes you would see at any old Chinese or Thai or Korean or Indian restaurant in any old town in the States—sweet and sour chicken, orange chicken (cooked it, was awesome), pad thai, bi bim bap, chicken tikka masala—but then there are also dishes that Russ has discovered on his travels or by ordering adventurously—korean seafood scallion pancake, okonomiyaki, bakso... By adding these to his book, it’s as if Russ is saying: hey, this is good stuff too, try it!
What else. The directions are all clear, I’ve found. The introductory material is all interesting (btw, if you don’t know Russ’s story, you should go check it out). There are a few items you’ll need that aren’t exactly standards in a typical American kitchen, but once you get them you can keep using them (e.g., a high quality fish sauce), and as Russ would probably say, you’ve got to put in at least a little energy if you want to get quality out. And there are a few time-intensive procedures, but they usually don’t involve you very much—like marinating, which your refrigerator does fairly well—or making stocks, which, I admit, does require some attending to, but you do it on the weekend and the stock lasts you all week, or longer. Autoimmune issues and other allergies are accommodated: there’s a list of substitutions in the back, and Russ has more extensive autoimmune information in an online appendix (it’s up, just checked).
I guess I could mention the design of the cookbook last. It’s kind of a play on a takeout menu, which is fun and refreshing, but it’s also, well, appetizing. The “Recipe Index” in the back of the book is like a picture menu at a Chinese restaurant: little thumbnails of the food (and one photo of Russ’s son mischievously eating chicken nuggets). I took one look at it and thought: “I must cook all of this food, immediately!”
So there you go. Fun food that is also high quality. And all of it healthy. One last note, on that: I think the most important thing that has come out of the whole ancestral movement is the stress on eating nutrient-dense food. Whatever your macronutrient ratios, however sweet or savory you like it, you gotta get your micronutrition. All the recipes keep that in mind.
This is one of the three or four must-have paleo/ancestral cookbooks. I’ve been recommending it to everyone.
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