Carnitas and Rocket


I heated my cast iron skillet to medium, adding

  • 1/2 TBSP of olive oil,
  • 1/4 tsp of dried ginger,
  • 1/4 tsp of chili powder,
  • salt,
  • pepper, and
  • 1 tsp of Jamaica Jerk seasoning.

The spices will bloom in the hot oil. I added

  • 2 TBSP of thinly sliced onions.

While they cooked. I cut up a piece of boneless pork “carnitas” that was on sale for $1.58/pound at WinCo. I cut up about

  • 1 cup of thinly sliced pork pieces

I let the pork cook until done. When it was fully cooked, I added 2 handfuls of rocket (arugula) and stirred in with

  • 2 tsp of seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp of soy sauce

Mixing everything together, as soon as the rocket was tender, I served it up in a bowl. It made a tangy and spicy delicious dinner.

Scrambled Eggs with Rocket, Peppers and Onions


This was a delicious breakfast scramble and so easy.

I heated my cast iron skillet to medium, melting about 1 TBSP of butter, tilting the pan to make sure it was all coated with butter. I had a bag of those mini bell peppers in all colors.  I chopped up about 2 TBSP of red onion, added it to the pan and let it cook. Then I chopped up 2 TBSP of red and yellow peppers and added it to the onions. I cooked until tender. I lowered the heat to low, so I could slow scramble.

While they were cooking, I cracked 3 eggs, added 1 TBSP of water, and blended with a fork. I also grabbed about 1/2 of fresh rocket (arugula) and chopped it up.

After the heat was lowered, I added the eggs and began stirring, stirring, stirring, stirring. Slow scrambling makes super creamy eggs, but they do require a lot of stirring. As soon as the eggs started to solidify, I added the rocket. I did not want it to overcook, so it went in last. I kept stirring until the eggs were done. I then added some salt and pepper to taste. Remember, never add salt to scrambled eggs until they are cooked or they will break.

This was a delicious and hearty breakfast. I like the peppery zest of the rocket.

Pulled Pork with Cabbage Slaw Burrito


This is from last month and I am slow to blog it. It was too hot to bake anything, but I had a 3 pound pork shoulder roast to cook. I decided to make pulled pork on the stove top.

I don’t have a Dutch oven, so I used my soup stock pot. I put it on medium heat with 2 TBSP of olive oil. I added the roast and browned it on all sides before removing for a few minutes. I wanted it to be browned but also wanted to develop flavors before adding the meat and did not want to use two pans.

I chopped up a yellow onion, added it to the oil, with some salt and pepper and sautéed until tender. I tossed in 4 cloves of garlic and about 4 TBSP of Jamaica Jerk seasoning. Yes, that much! I then added 2 cans of diced tomatoes and 2 cups of vegetable broth. I heated everything, stirring and then put the pork back in and let it simmer for a few hours, checking repeatedly until it was falling apart and tender. This was just amazing! So flavorful and not at all too spicy.  This makes a lot of pulled pork that you can use for all sorts of delicious things.

I made a simple slaw of sliced cabbage, diced onions, salt, pepper and oil and rice vinegar.

  • 1 cup of chopped cabbage
  • 1 TBSP of chopped onions
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of seasoned rice vinegar.

I grilled two flour tortillas using the electric coils on my stove. You have to keep a close eye, do not walk away and have the exhaust fan going on high to avoid setting off your smoke alarm.

After grilling the tortillas, I put half the slaw on each tortillas, and then put a half cup of pulled pork on each, rolling up and cutting in half. It was delicious, meaty and fresh and crunchy with the cabbage.


Fry Bread with Apples and Yogurt


I made these last month when it was too hot to turn on the oven, but wanted to make an apple dessert. I decided to make some fry bread with apples and yogurt.

To make the fry bread. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan. Use plenty of oil (1 or 2 cups), you can strain it through a cheese cloth and use it again.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup water

Mix together and form into four rounds. Drop into the oil, one or two at a time, depending on the size of your pan. You want plenty of space. When one side is done, flip it over and fry on the other side. Remove and rest on paper towels to drain, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

So, these are slightly savory apples. I put 1/2 TBSP of butter in a pan with some sliced red onions and a few rosemary leaves. I added two apples, peeled and sectioned, and cooked until tender but not mushy, adding a TBSP of sugar at the end to sweeten the onions a little bit more.

I served  half the apples with two fry bread and a spoonful of yogurt. This made two servings.

All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips


All Under Heaven is a comprehensive guide to the cuisines of China, all 35 of them. Did you even know there were 35 Chinese cuisines? Cynthia Phillips does and she wrote the book. The cuisines are organized geographically, starting with the North, and the Manchurian Northeast, down the Yangtze River and Environs, down to the Coastal Southeast, across the Central Highlands and off to the Arid Lands of the West. There is also a huge section on the fundamentals of Chinese cuisine. There’s also valuable tips you won’t find everywhere, such as removing boar bristles and pinfeathers or how to fold  a chopstick wrapper into a chopstick holder three different ways.

This book would be worth it, just for the Basic Recipes section. This is a great reference book, with an extensive glossary and great tips. With all the other sections, though, it is a huge book, with more than 350 recipes and so heavy, I rested it on a pillow on my lap to read because it is too heavy to hold for long.

It would be nice to have a few color photos, but the illustrative sketches are superior to photos for the technique and tips. Photos can have too much information, simple line drawings show only the relevant and important elements.


This is an outstanding cookbook, one of those that will be a classic that anyone serious about learning Chinese cooking will invest in. It is written with authority. The variety of recipes is vast and vegan and vegetarian recipes are noted in the sectional recipe lists, making it easier to select what you like. Phillips also notes when you can substitute pork for chicken, for example. This is important because cooks need to know they can stray from the recipes. Good cooks learn best from cookbooks that are not too prescriptive, but allow for options.

As outstanding as it is, I have to point out to one flaw that irked me. There are frequent historical and cultural notes, some of the most important elements in the book, and they are in red print and small san serif text. I really wish the folks who design books would spare a thought for people who struggle with really fine print. I would prefer darker ink, so the contrast is more stark, making it easy to read.

I received a copy of All Under Heaven from Ten Speed Press through Blogging For Books.

Cookbook Reviews

I write book reviews on my other web site and realized some people who follow this site have no idea about that site and vice versa. So here’s a catchup of links to books reviews.

Rocket & Chickpea Salad with Cantaloupe Dressing


I made the salad dressing earlier and let it refrigerate so the flavors were mellowed and blended. I used a Magic Bullet™ but a blender or food processor would work even better.  My inspiration was a Linguini al Melone I had several years back at Martinelli’s, a wonderful local deli that closed last year. The linguine has a melon cream sauce. It was as delicious as it was weird, so every taste, I was thinking this is so weird, it tastes so good.

I thought melon might be just sweet and creamy enough to pair very well with rocket – which I have a lot of thanks to the Oregon Food Bank Harvest Share. Rocket is peppery and its bold flavor takes some thought to balance.

Melon Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup of melon
  • 1/4 small yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add everything together and pulse until smooth. You may adjust ingredients to your taste, but remember it is a dressing so you want the flavor more intense than what you would eat plain. It should be tart and sweet. Honey might be a good substitute for sugar, but I don’t have any except buckwheat honey and that is too smokey a flavor for this.

Toasted Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

Open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse thoroughly. Drain so they are dry. You can pat them dry with a paper towel if you are in a hurry. Heat a cast iron pan on the stove a medium high heat, about 7 out of 10 on an electric stove. Add the chickpeas without oil and toast them, shaking the pan frequently so they do not burn. When they first begin to pop in the pan (just a little pop, not like popcorn) shake some salt and paprika on them and keep shaking and roasting until they are browned and slightly toasted. I would normally roast them in the oven but it’s over 90°.

Rocket Salad

Cut a very small yellow onion in half length-wise, cut off the ends and then slice thinly length-wise for small strips of onion. Then chop two stalks of celery on the diagonal for nice thin, but longish pieces. Then add about 4 cups of rocket. You can see that about half the salad volume is rocket.

Toss the chickpeas on top and stir. Add the dressing when you serve so the dressing does not make the chickpeas mushy.

This is a delicious salad. There is the bite of the onion, the earthy celery, the peppery rocket and the smoky, salty paprika of the chickpeas and blended and worked together with the sweet and tangy cantaloupe dressing.

This makes 4 servings, though you could make it in smaller batches and save the toasted chickpeas for something else.


Sausage, Rocket & Tomato Pasta


I heated a cast iron pan on medium low (3 of 10) and on another burner put a pot of salted water on to boil.

In the cast iron pan, I tossed in a pinch of fennel seeds, about 1/4 tsp or so and let them heat while I removed the casings from 3 breakfast sausage links. I added the sausage and, using a fork, smashed it up to little bits of pork. There was not much fat, but it was enough to cook this without any additional oil. I added 2 TBSP of diced yellow onion. Then I diced a small Roma tomato and added it. I let them cook.

I added 3 handfuls or 3/4 cup of dried egg noodles. I ended up with about 1 cup of noodles when it was done cooking.

I added 1/4 cup of sour cream to the cast iron pan, strained the pasta and stirred it into the sauce and then added a big handful, a cup or more, of fresh rocket. I stirred and removed from the heat so it just warmed but did not cook the rocket.

Grate just a bit of asiago or parmesan cheese on top.

This made one serving. It has a peppery flavor from the rocket, a bit of heat from the sausage and this wonder deep flavor coming from the fennel. The sour cream gave it a nice creaminess and added some fat that it really needed to soften the acidity of the tomatoes and the peppery rocket.


Potato Salad with Green Beans


So, I started out making a potato sad that I intended to use rocket in, to use up some of the rocket I have, but then I got around to adding the rocket and changed my mind and added green beans instead. I am glad I did because the freezer was just starting to extract the liquid from the beans and would have soon dried them out.

This is a pretty standard potato salad. I boiled 4 potatoes in salted water and hard-boiled 4 eggs. I use Martha Stewart’s method to boil eggs and it never fails me. I am not going to reinvent boiling eggs. When the potatoes were done I ran cold water on them to chill. I also chilled the eggs. I then boiled some salted water and blanched the green beans. I did not want them mushy and wanted them to stay bright.

So then I chopped up one whole yellow onion, the potatoes, the eggs and the green beans and tossed them together. I drained a can of black olives and crushed about 1/3 of the can.

In a bowl, I missed 3 TBSP mayo, 1 tsp of mustard, 3 TBSP of apple cider vinegar and a 1/2 tsp of sugar, salt and pepper. I made it to taste and added to the salad and blended.

This made 4 to 6 servings and was better the next day. It’s nice and tangy with the mustard, the olives add an earthiness that I love.

Fresh Tomato Rocket Soup with Basil


The Oregon Food Bank Harvest Share gave huge bags of tomatoes. As soon as I saw the tomatoes I thought of making tomato soup with basil. They also gave out big bags of rocket, a peppery salad green that is wonderful as an accent and highlight in salad but a bit strong on its own. I thought it might make a good flavor accent in the soup. It worked.

This is a recipe that will make almost four quarts of soup, enough to freeze for later and enough for several servings. Enough to share with friends.

In terms of prep, do not worry about chopping things fine. I only cut the onions in quarters. After all, it’s all going to be pureed anyway.

Put a big stock pot with a cover on medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add 2 yellow onions. I cut into quarters, but you can dice if you like. Crush 6 cloves of garlic and toss in after the onions are nearly softened.

Toss in the bag of tomatoes, about four pounds or so. I poked the tomatoes with a knife just to make them release their liquid faster. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid on top. It needs to fit tightly because I am not adding any water. Leave it to cook for 20-30 minutes and check. There should be plenty of liquid with no need for water or broth.

Add 1 cup of fresh basil and 2 cups of rocket. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid back on for another 10 minutes.

Let cool and puree with an immersion blender, regular blender or a Magic Bullet.

This makes a great tart, peppery tomato soup. The flavors are really rich and deep, with a lovely tang. I served with just a bit of fresh rocket on top. It keeps well because tomato is very acidic and there is no dairy in it.