Cooking at Home with Brian Murdock, Mohegan Lake

As Murdock grew more concerned about his health as he aged, he found the “caveman” diet to be just what he needed: lots of protein and little grains, sugar, processed food and other Paleo no-nos.

Brian Murdock of Mohegan Lake  specializes in primal or “caveman” cuisine. A retired teacher, he’s the primary cook for his family of five—including his working wife and three daughters—plus Mickey, the dog.

Started to cook: In his 20s. “When I was on my own, I’d call my mom for any problems I had cooking one of her meals.” First dish: Lasagna. His kitchen: 12 feet by 24 feet, with electric appliances, stainless steel, granite counter tops, and marble floors. Signature cuisine: Formerly Italian and now primal, or “caveman,” eating. “It’s turned my cooking upside down.” A quick primer on primal eating: No grains, sugar, processed  foods, soy, canola, or corn oil, or legumes. “Some primals eliminate dairy but I don’t. I pretty much have the family on meat, eggs, veggies, and fruit.” When did he go paleo? November, 2011. Why? “As I’ve gotten older, I have become increasingly more concerned about my health. I’m pretty healthy now and want to stay that way.” Signature dish: Pizza with a cauliflower- or chicken-and-mozzarella crust. Most unusual ingredient used: Coconut oil—to fry, sauté, and bake. Weirdest ingredients he’s whipped up a dish from: Chocolate pudding made with avocado and cherries. Best tip for preparing delicious food: Cook things slowly. “I prefer to have a meal sit for a while and then re-heat it. I find it tastes better.” Easiest dish to master: Soups. “Cook the ingredients, add spices—maybe cumin, turmeric, or curry—cook slowly in broth, churn up in the food processor, and, for the final touch, add some heavy cream or a dollop of sour cream, and you’ve got a great soup.” Can’t-live-without-it cooking gadget: The food processor, for smoothies, grinding nuts for flour, and making homemade mayonnaise, soups, pizza crust, chicken salads, etc.  Always in his fridge: Eggs. “They’re used a lot in primal recipes. For example, primal pancakes can be made with eggs and banana, eggs and coconut flour, eggs and almond flour, eggs and coconut, or a combination of all of the above.”  Most recent culinary triumph: Two friends whom he prepared a dinner for, including cauliflower pizza, curried carrot soup, and pan-seared halibut with cilantro sauce, wanted every recipe. “I even impressed myself!”
   

Culinary Influences
Cooking soundtrack: Jazz. Most food-splattered cookbook: Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals by Mark Sisson and Jennifer Meier. Favorite online recipe collection: The PaleoFood Recipe Collection at paleofood.com. everydaypaleo.com; nomnompaleo.com; Cooking bloggers he follows: Mark Sisson at marksdailyapple.com; Diane Sanfilippo at balancedbites.com; Megan at detoxinista.com; and Sarah Fragoso at everydaypaleo.com.

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Local Shopping & Dining Guide
Everyday supermarket: Stop & Shop in Baldwin Place. Favorite market: Mrs. Green’s Natural Market in Yorktown Heights, especially for nuts, coconut flour, and organic produce and meats. Source for organic meats, eggs, and veggies: Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor. Best source for meats: BJ’s and Trader Joe’s. Don’t-feel-like-cooking restaurant option: “Marco in Mahopac for great, grass-fed steaks that are cooked to perfection—and great Martinis, too.”

For Murdock’s recipe for “You Won’t Believe It’s Cauliflower Pizza Crust,” please go to westchestermagazine.com/webexclusives.

Take It From Them 
Our Chefs’ Top Tips for Newbie Cooks

“Get a cookbook or hit the web, find a recipe, and jump in.” 


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