Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

I made the rice ahead using 1 cup of rice and 1.5 cups of water with a dash of salt. I rinsed the rice, added it to the water and brought it to a rolling boil in a solid saucepan. As soon as it hit a rolling boil, I put a lid on it and removed it from the heat. 20 minutes later it was done to perfection.

I put some peanut oil in a saute pan (I don’t have a wok.) and set it on medium heat. I added 2 TBSP of yellow onion, 2 minced cloves of garlic and about 1.5 inches of fresh garlic, minced. Next I cleaned and minced 1 jalapeño pepper. While they sautéed, I cleaned and sliced 2 mushrooms, 1/2 stalk of celery and 1/4 of a red pepper. I tossed them in. I then chopped a 6 oz piece of boneless pork loin and added that in to cook. I put a lid on the pan for about 2 minutes.

I had a container with about 1 cup or so of fresh pineapple. I added 1/4 cup of white vinegar and let it blend with the pineapple juice. I added 1 tbsp of soy sauce and swirled it around. When the pork was nearly done. I added the pineapple and liquids to the pan and stirred it all together. It took about another minute to warm the pineapple.

I dished up a half cup of rice and put half the sauté pan full of sweet and sour pork on it. This made two large servings.

I don’t like breaded, battered sweet and sour pork and don’t care for the sweet and sour dressing that tastes sort of like ketchup and honey. This is a very light taste of sweetness from the pineapple more than balanced by the sour of the vinegar and soy. There’s plenty of heat from the jalapeño and ginger. The strong flavors balance each other perfectly without dominating.

 

Chicken, Kale and Potato Soup

Chicken and Kale Soup

 

I put two cups of chicken broth in  a sauce pan and brought to a simmer. Meanwhile, I cut up a potato into small pieces and tossed them in to cook. I added salt and pepper for seasoning and then cleaned and chopped up three stalks of kale, removing the ribs. I added the kale to the broth about 10 minutes after the potatoes so they were both tender and ready to eat 10 minutes later. I squeezed about 1 tbsp of lemon juice in before serving to just brighten and elevate the flavor a bit

This was another hearty and flavorful soup with an emphasis on umami flavor.

Chicken, Kale and Mushroom Soup

Chicken, Kale and Mushroom Soup

I made a good chicken stock by stewing a chicken in water with mirepoix (celery, carrots and onions), oregano, salt and pepper and a bay leaf for several hours, removing all the meat and vegetables and straining for a relatively clear broth. I reserved the chicken for sandwiches and salads and stored the broth in covered containers in the fridge. I also saved about 1 cup of the carrots, celery and onions from the mirepoix to add back into this soup.

To make this soup, I turned the heat on a dry saucepan to low-medium. I sliced up 3 large mushrooms and cooked them without oil for about 5 minutes. This intensified the mushroom flavor and if you keep your heat low enough, they won’t burn or stick because they have enough moisture – moisture than you are sweating out so you get the richest mushroom flavor. I then added 2 cups of broth and brought the heat up to a simmer. I tossed about 1/2 cup or so of the mirepoix I had saved. I cleaned 3 stalks of kale, removing the ribs and slicing into small pieces. I added them to the broth and let simmer until tender. I added salt and pepper to taste.

The broth was rich and flavorful and the mushrooms added a rich earthy flavor while the kale gave it a hearty feeling. This soup was pure comfort food, rich in umami flavor.

Rutabaga & Pineapple Salad

Rutabaga & Pineapple Salad

The idea for this salad came to me while I was coring a fresh pineapple yesterday. The bromelain in the pineapple did such a good job of macerating the skin on my thumb it occurred to me that it might tenderize a rutabaga (swede) as well. Well, that turned out not to be true as bromelain breaks down proteins not cellulose. I produced a delicious salad, but it was not quite right. The pineapple did not break down the rutabaga enough, but the delicious zest of raw rutabaga blended so well with the sweet tang of pineapple I had to try it again. I considered parboiling, but was afraid I would lose that subtle spiciness of raw rutabaga. So, I tried salt which is often used to tenderize vegetables such as cabbage and kale. It worked perfectly.

I took one rutabaga, peeled it (not just the thin colored peel but that 1/4 inch of thicker sort of rind) and diced it into small cubes. I put it in a plastic container with a lid and sprinkled about 2 tsp of salt on it. I shook it a few times and let it sit overnight to soften. I shook a few times, just whenever I happened to walk by the fridge. By morning it was tender, but still with the crunch and the delicious raw flavor. I put the rutabaga in a strainer and rinsed the salt away.

Putting it back in the container, I added 1/4 cup of chopped leek greens and 2 TBSP of chopped parsley. I added about 1 cup of fresh pineapple cut in small pieces. I mashed the pineapple lightly with a force to express some of the juice since that is the only dressing on this salad. I added just a touch of salt. Then I let it rest for an hour for the flavors to marry.

This makes 4 servings of salad. It’s got a satisfying crunchiness and the flavors are intense with the rutabaga’s heat, the sweet and tangy pineapple, the bright onions and the mellow earthiness of parsley blending into a rich, multi-layered flavor. The only downside I can see tot his salad is that it could get addicting and that would mean coring and cleaning more pineapples.

Parsnip-Rutabaga Soup with Andouille Sausage

Rutabaga Parsnip Soup

This was a delicious and successful experiment. I have been thinking rutabagas might make a tasty soup but was not sure how to approach them. I decided to give it a try today.

I added 1/2 TBSP of olive oil to my soup pot and put it on medium heat. I then added about 3 TBSP of onions and the tiniest pinch of anise seed – about 10 seeds in all. I cooked until tender and then added two chicken andouille sausages. I know that is not authentic, but it is delicious. I browned the sausages slightly. While they were browning, I peeled and chopped into 1/2 bites 1 rutabaga, 1 parsnip, 1 carrot and 1 potato. I figured I needed the sweetness of the carrot and the mildness of the potato to balance out the tartness of the rutabaga and parsnip. I added enough water to cover everything and set simmer about 30 minutes or so until they were all tender. I removed the sausage and let the soup cool enough for me to blend it in my magic bullet. I pureed the soup, cut the sausages into 5 pieces each and put them back in the soup.

This made two large bowls of soup that was a bit spicy, a bit tart and totally delicious.

Chicken Noodle Soup from Leftover Roast Chicken

Chicken Noodle Soup

I seldom roast chicken because I love soup and hate losing all the broth I can get from boiling a chicken for soup. However, I got this brainstorm the other day, wondering what would happen if I saved all the bones from my roast chicken and boiled them for broth. I tried it and it worked. Now, the broth was not a rich in chicken flavor as one that has had the skin and meat cooking away with the bones, but it was flavorful and delicious anyway.

To start, I sautéd an onion in 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. I added 2 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper and 1 tsp of dry mustard. Then I tossed in the carcass and all the remains from the roast chicken. I added water enough to cover the bones, put a lid on and brought it to a simmer. I added a bay leaf and let it simmer away for about an hour. I strained the broth to be sure I got all the bits of bone and cartilage out and tossed them away. Now I was left with a tasty broth. I added 2 carrots and 8 mushrooms, in 1/2 pieces or so, and let them cook until tender. I then added 1 cup of frozen green beans and 1 cup of dry packaged egg noodles. The noodles took about 10 minutes to cook until tender and by then everything was done. I added some salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp of mustard to boost the flavor a bit.