Red Chard and Pork Loin with Couscous

Red Chard, Pork Chops, Tomatoes, Chop 1 TBSP of yellow onions and clear the leaves off two stems of red chard. Slice the stems lengthwise and then chop into small pieces.

Heat 1 TBSP of olive oil and add the onions. Grate about 1/4 tsp of fresh nutmeg on the onions and let them cook until tender. Add the stems and let them cook until tender. Cut a boneless piece of pork loin chop into small pieces and add. Add salt and pepper. Sauté until done.

Meanwhile heat water until boiling. Add 2/3s cup water to 1/3 cup of couscous and let steep until all the water is absorbed.

Chop the red chard leaves, add to the sauté pan. Cut 4 grape tomatoes into quarters and add to the pan. Cut 5 dried cherries in half. Toss in about 1 TBSP of red wine vinegar.

Serve with a bed of couscous and put the red chard and pork on top. It is a delicious blend of hearty chard, sweet cherry and tomatoes and aromatic nutmeg with a dash of sour vinegar.

Red Chard, Lentil and Feta Salad

Lentils, Red Chard, Feta & Bacon Salad

This was a fairly easy dish to make. It is more of a warm salad than a casserole, but you consider it whatever you like. Whatever it is, it is tasty.

I started by making some lovely red lentils. I used about 1 TBSP of reserved bacon fat that I had saved from another mea. I put it in a small kettle on medium heat with 1/2 cup of chopped onions and 2 cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper. I cooked on medium heat until they were tender and the onions transparent. I then added 1 cup of red lentils and stirred a bit. Then I added 2 cups of water and brought to a slow boil. I kept it simmering, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or so. Then I took it off the heat and put a lid on it, letting it rest until all the water was absorbed.

After I took the lentils off the heat, I heated a fry pan to medium high, adding 1 cup of chopped bacon pieces. After most of the fat was rendered, I added 1/2 cup of chopped onions. salt and pepper. I cleaned the red chard, separating the stems from the leaves. I chopped the stems into 1/4 inch pieces and tossed them into the bacon and onions. I cooked for about 3 minutes so the stems became tender. Then I added 2 cups of finely chopped red chard leaves. I stirred in lightly, adding some salt and pepper. I then added 2 TBSP of red wine vinegar. I added the lentils and mixed them in with the chard. If you have no red wine vinegar, use fresh lemon. This dish needs the acid.

Then I let it all rest for about 10 minutes so it was warm, not hot. I served it in a bowl with a sprinkling of feta on top. Makes 4 servings.

The lentils are wonderfully hearty and flavorful thanks to the onion, garlic and bacon. The richness of the bacon and feta are balanced by the red wine vinegar and the chard brings a wonderful earthiness to the dish

 

Cucumber Strawberry Lemon Drop Salad

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

I dreamed about this salad before I made it. It was hot out and I was reading a book, cooled by a fan. I dozed through dinner, though I dreamt I made myself a salad of cucumbers and strawberries with a tart lemony vinaigrette. I sliced these strawberries twice, one in a dream and then later when I decided to make my dream-inspired salad.

This is a fast and easy salad. I sliced up 2 cups of fresh strawberries and 2 cups of English cucumber (but no reason you can’t use regular cucumber) and tossed them in a storage container.

I juiced two lemons and added the zest from one of the lemons. This gave me about 1/2 cup of lemon juice. To that I added about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 TBSP of sugar. I mixed it all together and then added 1 TBSP of white wine vinegar. I added this to the strawberries and cucumbers and shook them together.

I let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes so the dressing could permeate everything. It was as sweet and tart as a lemon drop with rich fruity strawberry flavor and fresh, springlike cucumber. This made two servings.

Next time, I might use just half the dressing and reserve the rest for another salad.

Spinach, Pomegranate, Apple and Couscous Salad

Spinach, Apple, Pomegranate Couscous Salad

It was a hot day today. I went to the World’s Largest Louie Louie Sing-A-Long downtown so I was not interested in cooking or making anything difficult, but I wanted some rich and complex flavors. I kind of just started with some couscous and added what appealed until I ended up with something scrumptious.

  • 1/3 cup of couscous
  • 2/3rd cup of boiling water
  • Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 1/3rd cup chopped red onion
  • 10 toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, chopped.
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

I took 1/3 cup of couscous and poured  2/3rds cup of boiling water on top of it in a small bowl and put a lid on it. While it absorbed the boiling water, I prepped a pomegranate. I used all the seeds from half of a pomegranate.

There is a fast and easy way to prep pomegranates. Carefully cut through the skin without cutting deep, leaving the pomegranate seeds whole. Once you have cut through, give a little twist and it will separate into two halves. Take a half and pull and twist the edge a bit to loosen it, then turn it upside down in the palm of your hand and whack it hard over and over and all the seeds will fall out. I only needed half a pomegranate, but I cleaned both halves and stored half the seeds in a plastic container for another day.

I toasted some almonds in a clean dry skillet and chopped them in half after they cooled.

I cleaned and chopped a bunch of fresh spinach, chopped up some red onion and tossed them in with the pomegranates and couscous. I added some salt and pepper, the feta and toasted almonds.

I then chopped up 1/2 of a granny smith apple and tossed in some balsamic vinegar.

I put a lid on the bowl I was mixing this all up in, shook it up a bit and refrigerated for about an hour.

This was delicious and so rich in texture from the crispy apple, crunchy almonds, tender couscous and the juicy bursts of pomegranate. The flavor is grounded in the couscous, the spinach adds a nice fresh taste, the red onions a bit of heat, the apples some sweetness, the almonds some umame and the pomegranate a lovely sweet-sour tang. The feta gives a bit of richness, making it all come together in this big explosion of flavor and texture and color.

Makes two servings.

 

Baked Egg & Portobello Mushroom

Scrambled Egg Portobello

While pulling some broccoli out of the crisper to roast for my supper, I accidentally knocked an edge of this gorgeous portobello mushroom I was planning to stuff and cook on Sunday. Deciding to cook it before I added more injury, I had to think a bit about what to stuff it with. Al the meat I had was frozen, so I knew it had to be meatless. I decided to try scrambling a couple eggs and baking it in the mushroom. It worked beautifully and was delicious.

First, I heated my oven to 400°.

Then, of course, I removed the stem and scooped out the black gills underneath the mushroom cap, making plenty of room for my eggs. I reserved it all for another meal, perhaps a mushroom gravy.

In a bowl, I cracked two eggs, added 2 TBSP of finely diced scallions, the leaves from one sprig of fresh tarragon and 6 San Marzano tomatoes cut in half and then in thirds. You could use cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, too. You want tomatoes that are small so they have more flesh and less water in their substance. I used a fork to stir it all up.

I put a small amount of oil on the top of the mushroom and laid it in my roasting pan and poured it into the bowl of the mushroom. I sprinkled pepper and salt on top. I did not mix them into the eggs because salt will make a scrambled egg tough. I added a bit of broccoli on the other side of the pan with some olive oil and garlic and roasted about 20-25 minutes, until a lovely brown. The broccoli was also done and you can see they were served on the side.

I had thought about adding cheese, but felt that the tarragon had more than enough flavor to carry the dish and the cheese would only distract from it. I think I was right and it is better without cheese.  It was nice and meaty, though still tender. Eggs and mushrooms are always a good match and the tarragon added such a bright flavor profile that I could easily make this again and again.

Sweet & Sour Pork With Couscous

Sweet & Sour Pork Couscous

This was very fast and easy to make.

First I boiled some water for couscous. I put 1/4 cup of couscous with 1/2 cup of boiling water in a bowl and put a lid on it to soak up the water while I cooked the rest.

Then I put 2 tsps of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. I added 2 TBSP of chopped onion and a small sliver of fresh ginger, some salt and pepper and cooked until tender. I cut a 3 oz. piece of boneless pork loin steak into small pieces and added them to the onions. Meanwhile, I pitted 6 fresh cherries and cut them in half and chopped up about 1/2 of fresh cilantro.

When the pork was done, I added the cherries and the couscous. I added two packets of sweet and sour sauce I had saved from a takeout from Panda Express. I don’t use many condiments except mayo and mustard. I don’t like ketchup and buying any condiments is just a waste, so I save a few from when I eat out. They come in handy as I didn’t want to make a batch of sweet and sour this size and probably won’t make something using sweet and sour sauce for months. So, I mixed in the two packets and added the cilantro at the end. This made one serving. It was flavorful, with sweetness from the cherries and tang from the ginger and onions and a nice freshness from the cilantro. The sweet and sour sauce could have been left out, it would still be good, but I liked how it married the flavors.

Spicy Black Bean and Bulgur Salad

Black Bean Bulgur Spicy Corn Salsa Salad

This was another easy to prepare and flavorful salad I made ahead for some company coming over for brunch.

In the morning, I added 1 cup of boiling water to 2/3 cup of bulgur in a one quart plastic bowl with a lid. I sealed the lid and left for later. In a few minutes the wheat absorbed all the water and it was ready. I stuck it in the fridge for later when I would mix up the salad.

I drained a 15 oz can of black beans, rinsing all the liquid off and let them drain in a strainer while I chopped up the veggies.

I chopped 3 green onions, 1/2 of a red pepper and a bunch of cilantro. I also quartered 8 cherry tomatoes. I mixed them all in with the bulgur, added the beans and 1 cup of corn salsa. I squeeze 2 fresh limes, added a dash of salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp of cumin and it was ready for prime time.

It’s a flavor fiesta – spicy, sweet, crunchy and toothsome. The corn salsa adds just the right amount of heat. This made one quart of salad – all in the original container – so it also meant very little cleanup – a strainer and a knife.

Sour Cream Slaw with Fennel

Sour Cream Cole Slaw with Fennel, Carrots and Dried Cranberries

I had company the other day and decided to make a big batch of cole slaw. I love cole slaw and am always trying to find new ways to make this favorite form of salad. Of course I started with cabbage. Using a mandoline, I cut 1/2 of a medium sized head of cabbage into thin slices. I added some salt and let it rest for an hour. After an hour, I squeezed the excess liquid out. This keeps the salad from getting watery after it is dressed.

Next I sliced one bulb of fresh fennel on the mandoline, I set the slicer blade at the thinnest option for both the cabbage and the fennel. I then peeled and sliced on carrot, switching out the triangular piece of the mandoline from flat to one that cuts matchsticks. I chopped up one half of a Spanish or red onion and added that. I shook all the ingredients together.

For the dressing, I added about 1/2 cup of sour cream and squeezed in the juice of one fresh lemon. I then added 1 TBSP of white wine vinegar, some salt and pepper and a tbsp of poppy seeds. Lastly I added a large handful of dried cranberries.

The fennel adds a great light tanginess to the hearty slaw. The dried cranberries balance the sourness of the sour cream and the choice of sour cream instead of mayonnaise made this salad much lighter and fresher tasting, perfect for a hot summer day.

This made 8-10 servings.

Couscous with Red Chard, Celery, Leeks, Tarragon, Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds.

Couscous with Celery, Leeks, Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds.

This was a fast and easy salad to make. In the morning when I made tea, I poured 2/3 cup of boiling water on 1/3 cup of couscous (tri-color couscous) and sealed the container it was in, letting it rest on the counter until I was ready to make the salad. I also toasted about a dozen almonds in a dry pan and let them cool off on the counter for later.

I got out my mandoline for fine slicing. I sliced two stalks of celery and 1/4 cup of leeks. I tossed them in with the couscous along with a  handful of dried cranberries. I cleaned two stalks of red chard and rolled them up so I could cut them into thin slices. Then I chopped them the other direction for small pieces.  I removed the leave from 1 bunch of tarragon and chopped the leaves up. I chopped the almonds in half and tossed them in. Then I added some salt and pepper and about 1 TBSP of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. I put the lid back on and shook it all up and let it rest in the fridge so the flavors could marry.

This made about 1.5 pints of salad, 4 servings.

There is a nice bite from the leeks, a bit of tang from the tarragon, earthiness from the chard and zingy sweetness from the dried cranberries. The balsamic blends the flavors perfectly.

Earl Grey’s Roast Pork with Root Vegetables

Roast Pork with Earl Grey Crust and Roasted Vegetables

Winco had roast pork for $1.66 per pound, so it seemed like a good time for pork roast. While trying to decide what to serve with it, I came across a recipe for Earl Grey-Crusted Pork Loin with Fennel and Apples. I didn’t have a pork tenderloin and wanted to use some dried cherries, not fresh apples. I like raw apples better than roasted ones, but I thought the recipe gave me something to work with.

I preheated the oven to 450°. I cut one small yellow onion in slices and lined the bottom of my paella pan which doubles as a roaster for me. I cut the tops off four Earl Grey tea bags and poured them out onto my cutting board. I added 1 tsp of salt and a tsp of pepper and mixed them together and then I rolled my pork roast in it. It was a three pound roast and was completely coated by the tea, salt and pepper blend. I have never seen anything stick so completely or so well as this tea, it was much easier than doing a pepper coating.

I stuck the roast in the oven and let it cook at 450 for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I peeled and cut 1 yam, 1 turnip and 2 red potatoes into chunks about 1 inch square or so.

Now it was time to take the roast out and add the vegetables. I added  1 TBSP of olive oil to a small bowl, added some salt and pepper and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Then a handful at a time, I tossed the root vegetables in the oil to coat them and then spooned them into the pan around the roast. I added a handful of dried cherries at the end, putting them into the oil, salt and pepper first as well.

I put the roast back in the oven at 350° for 40 minutes. I checked the temp and it was 140° which is what I wanted. I removed the roast to rest for 15 minutes and put the veggies back in to finish cooking. I turned it up to broil for the last 5 minutes just to get a nice dark brown crispiness on a few of them.

The vegetables were magnificent as roast vegetables always are. The juice from the onions and the pork blended with the dried cherries for a delicious liquid that the vegetables drank up. The real revelation, though, was the pork. The Earl Grey’s sweet and tart bergamot flavor permeated the meat, but with delicacy so it was not overwhelming at all. it was extraordinary, so delicious and so fragrant. I will definitely make this again. After all, it turned a $1.66 per pound cheap roast into something fit for fine dining.

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