Apple, Celery & Celeriac Puree

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Since this will be pureed, there is no need to dice or chop finely. Big chunks are just fine, so long as they can cook evenly and will fit in blender or Magic Bullet.

Heat 3 TBSP of butter (or olive oil for vegan option) at medium low (4 on a 10 point electric dial) in a large stock pot. Add 2 yellow onions and a bunch of celery, all chopped. Add salt and pepper. Cook until the onions have sweat and are translucent.

While that’s cooking, chop up 4 large or 6 small apples. I used some Galas and a Pink Lady. Eating apples, not cooking apples because we are not adding any sugar. Crush and peel 3 cloves of garlic. Add the apples and garlic to the stock pot. Add tsp of thyme. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid on a let cook about five minutes.

Meanwhile peel and chunk the celeriac. Add to the crock pot with 1 quart of vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper.  Bring heat up to medium. When everything is tender, remove from heat and let cool.

After it’s cooled down, puree with an immersion blender, blender or Magic Bullet. Serve hot with a bit of chopped parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds and, if you’re feeling ambitious, some thinly sliced pear grilled on a hot burner. I accidentally spilled enough pumpkins seeds to two servings in this picture. They were delicious, though.

The soup is a smooth, mildly tart puree with a delicious, rich flavor. There’s a nice bit of bitter heartiness from the celery that is lightened and balanced by the apples, the onions adding some bright notes and of course, celeriac is always delicious.

This makes about 8 servings, but it also tastes better as leftovers. In fact, it’s so much better the next day that I didn’t eat it the day I made it but let it wait overnight. Unlike most celeriac purees, I don’t add any cream so it will keep several days and can also be frozen.

 

 

Grilled Pear Sandwich

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  • 1 pear, sliced and grilled
  • small handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 slices of multi-grain bread
  • cream cheese

 

I went to Harvest Share, an Oregon Food Bank project, at Impact NW on Friday morning. it takes place the fourth Friday of the month and Harvest Share programs are more likely to have fresh fruits and vegetables. This month there were sacks of potatoes, onions and pears. I think my sack of Bosc pears is about 10 pounds. They aren’t quite ripe, but you know pears, once they ripen, your window of perfection is short.

I thought cooking the pears would be a good option for using them while I wait for them to ripen, so I experimented with grilling the pears for a sandwich. I heated my cast iron griddle on medium heat, put no oil or butter on it, leaving it completely dry. I sliced the pears and let them heat. They were softening, but I wanted a caramelized pear, so I turned up one of the electric burners on the stove up to high. I turned on the  fan and opened the door and windows. When the pears were nearly done on the griddle, I laid them directly on the hot burner for a few seconds to give them the charred look and caramelized flavor I wanted. Just a few second, because you don’t wan them to catch fire. My fire alarm still went off for a bit, so it’s a good thing I didn’t make these when I woke up at 6 a.m.

I set them back on the griddle to stay warm while i toasted two slices of multigrain bread (also from Food Bank) and chopped a handful of cilantro. I spread the bread with cream cheese, laid the cilantro on top and then added the pear slices.

This makes one serving. It was delicious, the cream cheese and cilantro complement the sweetness of the pears beautifully. I can’t think of anything to make it more delicious except maybe chèvre or crème fraîche instead of cream cheese. Cream cheese fits my budget better, though.

 

Asparagus, Fennel & Grapefruit Salad

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I made this delicious salad, riffing off a delicious sounding salad in the Italian Diabetes Cookbook by Amy Riolo. Her recipe served six and include oranges to which I am allergic. I miss oranges terribly as they were one of my favorite fruits and I loved citrus-based cleansers. I guess I must have already eaten my lifetime allotment of oranges because all of sudden about 10 years ago, I became terribly allergic to them. So for me, I often substitute grapefruit which oddly enough I can still eat. It’s not the same, it is not nearly so sweet, but it’s in the ballpark. And sometimes, I think it is probably even more delicious precisely because it is less sweet.

The thing to remember about cooking is that it’s like jazz while baking is like classical music. When you cook, you can extemporize. Don’t have an ingredient, use something else. Use your instincts and your taste buds. Her recipe also called for fresh parsley and I did not have any. I used the fennel fronds instead just for the color. Parsley would have been a good addition and I will make this again with parsley, but it still made a delicious salad. In fact, that I can mess around with the original recipe here and there is proof, in my opinion, of the soundness of the foundation recipe. Good recipes can tolerate a lot of fiddling.

  • 3 asparagus spears, lightly boiled or heated on low for a few minutes in microwave, until tender
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced and chopped fennel
  • 1/2 grapefruit supremed (cut segments out)
  • 4 black olives, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp of fennel fronds

Mix together in a bowl, squeeze the juice out of the leftover grapefruit, add 2 tsps of olive oil, a splash of rice vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

This was light, flavorful and satisfying. The olives were a surprisingly good addition, adding a satisfying bit of fattiness to the very light meal. I have loved green olives and grapefruit in salads. I thought black olives would be too mild, but they are a surprisingly good match. Asparagus is mild, which makes it a great foundation for strong flavors like fennel and grapefruit. Crunchy, light, flavorful, what more can I ask?

 

Caramelized Potatoes with Jamaica Jerk

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Boil a dozen small new potatoes until fork tender. Let cool.

About 15 minutes before serving, heat a pan on medium. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar and let melt and start to brown. When the sugar is brown, add 1.5 tbsp of butter and 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix them together, keep the heat low. If it gets to high they start to separate. Drop the potatoes in the caramelized syrup and  heat the potatoes thoroughly, about 7 – 10 minutes.

Turn repeatedly so the potatoes are completely coated. Before serving, sprinkle a couple teaspoons of Jamaica Jerk seasoning over the top, stirring and rolling the potatoes around so they are completely coated.

 

Ground Turkey Fennel Cutlets Sandwich

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It’s fun to experiment and this was a good one. I had some ground turkey that the store had overground, it was closer to meal than meat so the only thing it was suited for is meat balls or cutlets. So, that’s what I went for.

Prepare the vegetables in advance.

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Chop the vegetables in advance, mushrooms, onions, red pepper, fennel bulb and garlic

In a small pan, melt 1 tsp of butter and sauté on medium heat until tender the following veggies. Add salt and pepper.

  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 cup red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh fennel
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced.

There won’t be any butter to drain. Just toss into a bowl with the following ingredients and form into small cutlets. The flax seed doesn’t add any flavor or anything. They are just a good source of antioxidants and other health benefits. Cooking releases their optimum benefits.

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Mix cooked veggies to ground turkey and saltines.

  • 12 oz ground turkey
  • 12 saltine crackers
  • 1 TBSP of flax seed
  • Salt and Pepper

Heat a skillet to medium heat with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add the cutlets to the pan and cook, turning when browned on one side. Cook until browned on both sides and then put a lid on it, setting it aside on a low heat burner while you toast the bun.

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Flip turkey cutlets after one side has browned, brown the other and then cook on low with a lid on it to cook the meat thoroughly.

1 baguette sandwich bun, sliced and toasted on a griddle.

For the mushroom sauce, use the small pan you cooked the veggies in. Melt 1 TBSP of butter. Add garlic cloves, then the mushrooms, paprika, salt and pepper. Sauté until tender and add white wine, cook it down and add sour cream.

  • 4 mushrooms sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 TBSP white wine
  • 2 TBSP of sour cream
  • salt and pepper

Meanwhile, chop some fresh cilantro to top the sandwich. This makes two sandwiches.  There is plenty of sauce from the mushrooms that you don’t need butter or mayonnaise on the bread.

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Oops, part of a cutlet broke off Add mushrooms and cilantro on one side, cutlets on the other. No mayo or butter needed because the mushroom sauce has plenty of moisture.The sandwich is so delicious, that little bit of fennel is everything. 

Pork, Pear and Grape Vinaigrette Slaw Sandwich

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One of the things I brought home from the Food Bank is a package of great sandwich rolls. They were a bit old, so I lightly toasted them to freshen, just laying them unbuttered on a cast iron griddle to toast lightly.

Meanwhile, I sliced about a half cup of cabbage and mixed it in a bowl with the Roasted Grape Vinaigrette I made last night. I chopped up the top of one fennel frond and mixed it in

After the bread was toasted, I spread some mayo on both halves. On one side, I placed several slices of Earl Grey Roast Pork. On the other side, I spread some slices of Bosc pear and the impromptu cabbage slaw.

This was delicious, there’s the savory pork, the sweet pear and the vibrant, tangy slaw all coming together. I will definitely make this again.

Earl Grey Pork Roast

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I decided to post this recipe again because my original posting shared the recipe with a side dish and did not make the roast pork the centerpiece of the post. It deserves to be, as I make it so often.

The recipe is beyond simple. Preheat the oven to 450°.

While it is heating, open up 4 or 5 bags of Earl Grey Tea and dump them in the roasting pan. Add some salt and pepper and mix with your fingers. Now roll the roast around in the mixture, making sure to coat it everywhere.

If it’s a lean roast like a loin, you can just leave it right there on the bottom of the pan. If it’s a fatty roast like this shoulder roast, put it in a rack so the drippings fall to the bottom of the pan. Stick it in the oven to roast.

It will take about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of your roast. Use a meat thermometer and remove as soon as it reaches 140°. This will give a you a beautiful pink, tender, and juicy roast. Let it rest a good 10 to 15 minutes before you cut. This lets it cook a bit more and ensures that all the juice does not run out.

This is good with salads, sandwiches or just about anything you can think of. The tea’s flavor and aroma permeate the meat. It is hard to describe how good this is.

Fennel, Asparagus, Strawberry & Feta Salad with Grape Vinaigrette

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After making the Roasted Grape Vinaigrette, I was hungry for a salad. I tore up some Romaine lettuce leaves to form the base, shaved off a couple slices from a fennel bulb and chopped them up, shaved three asparagus spars with a peeler, sliced three strawberries (they were twice the length of regular strawberry) and layered it all on the lettuce. I added the Roasted Grape Vinaigrette, assed some salt and pepper and sprinkled with feta cheese (a bit more than usual because the package was so close to empty) and that was it.

The flavors are a good blend. The sweet strawberries are a delicious counter to the tangy feta, the fennel and asparagus complement each other and Romaine is always a good foundation. The vinaigrette is a perfect, sweet and tangy dressing.

Roasted Grape Vinaigrette

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The Oregon Food Bank is an essential part of my monthly food budget, but except during the summer Harvest Share, it is a better source of canned and dry goods like beans, oatmeal and pasta than fresh foods. Most of the vegetables are at or past their sell-by date and it shows. However, that does not mean they are unusable. I went to the Food Bank yesterday and came home with about two cups of green grapes. They were more brown than green and looked rough around the edges, but I figured I could come up with something. I picked out the few that were actually rotting, only a small handful, and washed the grapes. I tasted one and it was pretty bland, its grape flavor lost, so I decided to roast them, hoping the dry heat would intensify their flavor. I spread them out in a pie pan and put them in the oven at 450° for about 20 minutes. They were starting to brown, but had no charring at all. I tasted another one, it had a rich, deep flavor now. I thought about making a sauce for some roast pork or chicken, but then had the brainstorm to make a vinaigrette – sort of a honey mustard vinaigrette without the honey, letting the roasted grapes provide all the sweetness. I think it was a stroke of genius.

  • 1.5 cups of seedless green grapes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp of mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • poppy seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 yellow onion, cut in a few pieces so it’s easy to chop.
  • 1 clove of garlic

First, clean, dry and roast the grapes at 450° for about 20 minute or so. Set aside and let cool.

In a magic bullet, blender or food processor (I only have the first) put the grapes, olive oil, vinegars and mustard, salt and pepper and puree completely. This whips everything together and the oil and vinegar do not separate later. Add the onion and garlic and pulse a few times so they are chopped up into tiny bits, but not completely liquified. You can tinker a bit, adding more vinegar, salt, pepper, etc to get this to your perfect sweet-tartness.

This is delicious salad dressing. It’s very tart with a bit of the sweetness of a sweet and sour dressing, but not nearly as sweet as a honey mustard. There’s a layered flavor from the roasted grapes that make me think of wine and a bit of smokiness. I will have fun trying it out.

Grapefruit & Fennel Salad with Grapefruit Balsamic Vinaigrette

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  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Fennel
  • Yellow Onion
  • Green Olives
  • Grapefruit
  • Asiago Cheese (or Parmesan)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Tajín

Make dressing first. Zest a whole grapefruit, Add 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1 TBSP olive oil, 1 TBSP white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. This makes enough for three salads.

Chop six leaves of romaine lettuce and layer on the bottom of a platter. Thinly slice about 1/4 cup of fennel bulb. Dice up about 2 TBSPs of onion. Supreme half a grapefruit and layer six segments on the salad. Toss about eight olives on top. Shave a few pieces of asiago or parmesan cheese on top. I sprinkled with a bit of tajín on top to add a bit of heat and zest.

This salad is delicious. The olives and asiago add a bit of fatty creaminess to balance the astringency of the grapefruit and vinaigrette. The onions and fennel add sweetness and bite, balancing each other and the lettuce makes a solid foundation to marry all these flavors together harmoniously. It was a nearly perfect salad, I just should have made a little bit more.