Jamaica Jerk Cole Slaw with Pepitas

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So this is going into my regular rotation and will be made again and again and again and again and again. It’s a flavor sensation as they say.

First, I love cabbage. It’s my favorite vegetable and I would eat it ever more often that I do, but I already eat it more than I should as it tends to upset my stomach a bit. If not for that it would be perfect, sharp and peppery in its own self and so ready to blend with other foods, to accept and incorporate seasonings and dressings. Delicious cooked or raw, hot or cold and with all that, it’s inexpensive and keeps well stored in a cool, dark place. So yeah, it’s great stuff. But wow, this makes it even better.

  • 1/2 head of finely chopped cabbage
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 1 TBSP white wine
  • 2 tsp Jamaica Jerk seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

So, I cut up about 1/2 a head of cabbage, about 8 cups of cabbage. I cut the onion in thin slices. I heated a cast iron skillet on a low medium with NO oil. I added the sliced onions and stirred them steadily so they did not get any char. I wanted a light caramelization that sweetened the onions without softening them too much. That’s why no oil and the medium low heat.

In another dry pan, I toasted the pepitas until they began to pop and turn toasty brown.

When the onions and pepitas were cool, I mixed them in with the cabbage.

I mixed the rice vinegar, white wine and the Jamaica Jerk and the bit of sugar. I mixed them together well, poured on the salad, put a lid on the bowl and shook really hard because there’s not a lot of dressing to coat everything.

I stuck it in the fridge for a couple hours so the vinegar “cooked” the cabbage. Every time I happened to walk by I shook it some more because there really is not any extra dressing, so it needs some shaking.

This made 8 servings and you know what? The last serving did not sit in a pool of dressing. This kept the salad nice and crisp, but rich in flavor. Jamaica Jerk is spicy, so adjust to your taste. It leaves a delicious wonderful aftertaste, too.

 

 

Fruit Fusion Gumbo

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I asked friends to suggest names for this one. It’s a delicious fruit salad made with plums and cucumber which are botanically a fruit.

So I cut up a cucumber and 3 plums. There were two different kinds of plums, hence the different colors. I chopped up about 2 TBSP of yellow onion. Dumped them all in a plastic container and then made a dressing.

Dressing: Mix together. Buckwheat honey takes a long time to mix in but keep at it, it will dissolve. You can add more vinegar if you like. There is no olive oil or anything so it’s not a vinaigrette. It just seems to me that the juices in the fruit really do not need oil. Pour the dressing on the fruit. Put the lid on the bowl and shake it up. Refrigerate  for an hour or so and it will be delicious.

  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp of chile powder
  • 2 tsp of mustard
  • 2 tsp of buckwheat honey and
  • rice vinegar, about 1/4 cup

 

This made 6 servings. There are things that get better and better the longer they sit, so making a single serving would be silly.

Plum Tostada

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I got about 5 pounds of fresh plums from Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share a few weeks back. I have been waiting for them to ripen, but decided to just try cooking one to see what happened. I was really not sure what I wanted to make. Well, I wanted to make a cake but I don’t have a mixer or blender and it’s hot and I didn’t want to turn on the oven, so I stood in front of the fridge hoping something would leap out at me. I saw some fresh rosemary a friend gave me from her garden and wondered how plums would taste sautéed in a bit of butter with some onions and rosemary. I have some tostadas from WinCo, so decided to try something crazy.

So, I melted

  • 1 tsp of butter in a small sauce pan and added about
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped onions. I tossed in about
  • 1 inch long piece of fresh rosemary. I cut up
  • 1 large plum into about 8 segments and then chopped them in half. I added them when the onions were tender. I sautéed for about 8 minutes on a low heat. I added about
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (I have a vanilla bean in my tea sugar and used it instead of my cooking sugar.) I added about
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Stirring everything, I thought about adding lemon, but thought the unripe plum was so tart on its own, I didn’t really need the lemon.

I spread it on the tostada, added some sour cream and lightly toasted pecans.

This was so good, I washed out the pan and made myself a second one. Who knew rosemary and plums were divine? That is a flavor combination I am going to try again. Perhaps in a cake when it’s not so dang hot.

Makes one serving, darn it.

 

Zacatecas Cole Slaw

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I was passing the radishes at WinCo and saw how big and beautiful they were, unblemished and at their peak. I could not resist grabbing a bunch. I also got two big heads of cabbage and about a pound of cilantro at the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share so I really needed to figure out something to use them. I remembered how La Sirenita would add slices of radish as a garnish and got this crazy idea of making a Mexican cole slaw. I looked at a few recites for ensalada de repollo, but didn’t find anything that appealed to me.

  • 1/2 head of cabbage sliced thin, salted and rested in a colander for 20 minutes. Squeeze out liquid.

Add

  • 1/2 red onion sliced thin and chopped
  • 4 large radishes sliced horizontal, as thinly as possible
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
  • Zest from 1 lime (get all the zest you can)

Mix well using blender or Magic Bullet.

  • 1 fresh lime, juiced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • Salt and pepper

So, the traditional ratio for a vinaigrette is 3:1 oil and acid (vinegar) and this is closer to 1:1 with the lime juice. But that’s how I like it, I am happy with just vinegar, but it really needs the oil to make the vinegar adhere to the veggies and suspend all the spices, so I never do 3:1 even if that is the proper ratio. Cooking is about personal preferences and I will use a Magic Bullet to help these emulsify even though the ratio is out of balance. It is what I like. For a more traditional dressing, 3 TBSP of olive oil to 1 TBSP of vinegar.

This is not a single serving because this salad tastes better the second, third and fourth days. It makes 8 to 10 servings. I love this on a tostada with some broiled carne asada.

Kale & Cabbage Salad with Toasted Pepitas & Plum Vinaigrette

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I sliced 1/4 head of cabbage into thin ribbons and chopped up an equal amount of fresh kale in similar thin ribbons.

In a large pot, I brought 2 cups of water to a boil with a teaspoon of salt. I added the cabbage and kale and put a lid on it, letting them cook for one minute. I strained the water off and set them in the fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, I sliced up 2 plums and sautéed them in 2 TBSP of white wine vinegar and 2 tsp of soy sauce with 2 tsp of Tajín. I added a bit of salt and pepper, a tsp of sugar and stirred until the plums were just about to break down, but were still holding together. I poured the dressing on the kale and cabbage, stirred and set back in the fridge to cool.

Before serving, I toasted the pepitas in a bit of peanut oil with smoked paprika.

This made two large servings or four small salads. It’s a great blend of hearty veggies, sweet fruit and tangy vinegar. The pepitas add a bit of crunch and umami.

Bolillos with Soft-Scrambled Eggs & Dill, Asparagus & Tomatoes

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Heat a cast iron pan to medium-high, rise 4 asparagus and cut into thirds. Lay on the bottom of the pan and cook without oil or water until tender, turning so it browns evenly. Slice 8 cherry tomatoes in half and toss in and cook for 2-3 minutes with the asparagus. Remove from the pan, and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Cut two boltllos in half and lay them on the cast iron pan, turning the heat down low. Put a lid on and let them toast. The lid will help them heat all the way through, not just on the toasted side.

In another pan, on medium-low heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter. Meanwhile, beat 3 eggs with 1 tsp of dry dill weed. Do not add salt and pepper. Pour into the melted butter and scramble. This is a soft scramble, which makes a creamy, tender scrambled egg. It’s imperative you add no salt until the eggs are done or they won’t get the creaminess you want. Stir constantly until the eggs are cooked to a creamy consistency. Then add some salt and pepper.

Remove the now toasted bolillos, spread the eggs on the pieces, then place some asparagus and tomatoes on top.

These are a delicious blend of flavors, the creamy soft-scrambled eggs are wonderful foils for the asparagus and tomatoes. The crunchy bolillos are a good contrast in texture to the creamy eggs, juicy tomatoes and the semi-crisp asparagus. These make a nice light meal or great snack.

 

Sausage, Green Beans & Dried Plums

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This was a fast, simple dinner that took very little time or effort.

  • 2 pork sausage links
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1 cups of green and yellow beans
  • 3 dried plums
  • salt and pepper

I sautéed two breakfast links in my cast iron pan. When they were half done, I added some chopped onion, green and yellow beans and put the lid on my pan, adding salt and pepper. While they cooked, i sliced the dried plums in strips. I added them when the beans were nearly tender and put the lid back on. When they veggies were tender, it was ready to serve.

It’s a nice, hearty dinner with lots of umami and a bit of sweet surprise from the plums. Pork and dried fruit are always delicious together.

Asparagus Pear Couscous Salad

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I made the couscous using the leftover broth from cooking farro just to add the richness of the vegetable broth to give it a deeper flavor. I made the farro and couscous at the same time and after the couscous was done, I stuck it in the fridge overnight to make a salad for lunch the next day.

  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Bosc pear
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 4 stalks asparagus
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley
  • Seasoned rice vinegar

To make the couscous, I poured 1/2 cup of hot broth on top of 1/2 cup of couscous in a plastic container and put the lid on it for 5 minutes. Then I stirred it so it did not stick together. I put the lid back on and left it in the fridge overnight.

To make the salad, I took four thin early asparagus and cooked them in simmering water just long enough to be tender. I cut into chunks. While the asparagus was cooking, I chopped up about 1/4 of an onion, chopped up a 2 tbsp of parsley and cored and cut up a Bosc pear. I added a bit of salt and pepper. I added 1 tbsp of seasoned rice vinegar. I shook it on so that is a guess. I added enough to add dress the salad lightly.

This is was light, fresh and delicious. The pears and asparagus are amazing together with the seasoned rice vinegar. The onion adds a bit of bite, the parsley a bit of freshness and then the couscous is a great foundation.

 

 

 

 

Farro with Sausage & Dried Plums

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This is one of those recipes that begin with one ingredient and then just come about by thinking what would be good with it, then what would work with two ingredients, with the third, the fourth and so on until you know it’s done.

So, I had about 1/2 cup of farro and decided to use it up. I had an open container of vegetable broth, too, so I decided to cook the farro in the broth for extra flavor. I used about 2 cups of broth for the 1/2 cup of farro even though I only needed 1 cup because I would simply drain the extra off and use to make some couscous for a salad.

Farro: Add 1/2 cup of farro to 1 cup of vegetable broth and bring to a boil, lowering to a simmer for 30 minutes or so. Strain (I used an extra cup and reserved it to cook some couscous because doubling up is smart cooking.)

Meanwhile, I cooked 4 breakfast links in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. When the sausage was half done, I added 1/2 can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained). I wanted to use cannellini beans but I didn’t have any. No matter, chickpeas worked great. I added some salt and pepper and added about 1 cup of chopped spinach and just a splash of water, covered with a lid and let the sausage, beans and spinach steam a bit.

Meanwhile, I sliced 5 dried plums into strips, added them to the mixture and put the lid back on for a minute. Stirred and mixed everything together.

I put the farro in the bottom of my bowl and then spooned the sausage, spinach, beans and dried plums mixture on top. I sprinkled a bit of feta over it and served. Makes a great one-dish single serving meal.

The flavors are so wonderful together. The pork sausage and the dried plums are perfect together. The feta and spinach were made for each other, the farro and beans add a great foundation for these flavors. Cooking the farro in broth gave it a rich flavor to begin crafting the dish. The spiciness of the sausage and the sweetness of the plums meant there was no need for anything other than salt and pepper.

 

Spinach Pear Salad with Hazelnuts

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My best friend came over for dinner last night, so I whipped up a lovely salad. Those pears I got from the Food Bank last week are ripe and I need to be using them up quickly, so I decided on a salad with pears.

First I sliced 1/2 of a yellow onion on the mandolin so I could get super thin slices. Then I cut up 5 of those mini peppers. (A 4 pound package of mini peppers costs less than 3 regular red peppers.) into thin strips, removing the seeds. I also corned and sliced three Bosc Pears. I put all of this in a plastic container with a lid. I added 1/3 cup rice vinegar, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp of dry mustard powder.I put the lid on and shook it all as much as I could to mix it together. Then I added about 6 cups of baby spinach. Put the lid back on, shook some more and put it in the fridge for about an hour.

I toasted some hazelnuts (about 1/4 cup) with tajín (a spice mix of lime and chilis) in a dry pan.

To serve, I put the salad mix on the plate, added some hazelnuts and slice some asiago cheese on top.

The flavor is a wonderful blend of sweet, sour and a bit of heat. The hazelnuts are a great crunch and it was one of the best salads I have come up with this year. Service two.