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.

 

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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.

 

Asparagus Breakfast Tostadas

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  • 4 breakfast sausage links
  • a dozen young asparagus spears
  • 1/4 yellow onions
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 corn tostadas

This delicious breakfast was easy to make and so tasty. Preheat the oven to 450°.

Clean the asparagus and slice the onion into thins strips. Sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt. Roast in the oven until they begin to caramelize.

Meanwhile cook the sausage links in a pan on medium high heat. Use a fork to smash up the sausage into small bits. You can use ground sausage, too, but I didn’t have any.

In a small egg pan, cook two eggs, over easy (or however you prefer) and season with salt and pepper.

Put the tostadas on a plate, add the sausage, then the egg and the asparagus and onions on top. Before you eat, use a knife or fork to poke the yolk so it begins to seep out over the sausage, etc. Definitely poke the yolk before lifting up the tostada and taking a bit so it does not burst when you bite and send egg yolk all over your face. This is the voice of experience.

This was delicious. The tostada gave it a great crunch and added a foundational flavor that the sausage and eggs combined with for this wonderfully satisfying umami flavor. The onions and asparagus brought some brightness and freshness, a great flavor combination. This makes one giant breakfast for this hungry person who skipped supper last night.

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Braised Beef Shank & Vegetables

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This is a shot at the big cooking pan full of vegetables and the beef shank I braised with them since it makes about 8 servings and the shank will be pulled apart to add bits of beef to each serving. This takes several hours in the oven, so you must plan ahead, but it takes very little to prepare.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp shaved nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 beef shank
  • 1.5 onions, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 small potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen Italian beans
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

To begin, I warmed olive oil on medium heat is a big pan. I shaved about 1 tsp of nutmeg into the oil using a microplane. I added 6 peppercorns and a tsp of cinnamon. I let the oil heat until the spices thoroughly infused the oil and the air was rich and aromatic. This is enough nutmeg to be spicy, to leave a bit of tingle on your tongue. You can use less, but I love the flavor it brings.

I added the beef shank and let it brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. While it was browning, I chopped 1 and a half onions and 2 stalks of celery.

Removing the shank from the oil and setting it aside while I sautéed the vegetable. I added the onions and celery and let them cook. I added some  salt and pepper.

I turned the oven on to 350° to pre-heat.

I chopped up the carrots, potatoes and smashed and peeled the garlic gloves. When the onions were transparent, I added these veggies and let them cook for a few minutes. I added some  salt and pepper.

Then I added the Italian beans and diced tomatoes and stirred everything together. I added some  salt and pepper, then I tossed in a bay leaf and put the shank back in the pan.

Remember that adding salt and pepper throughout the cooking builds flavors more effectively and helps avoid over-salting at the end.

I put the pan in the oven and let it braise for the next 3 hours. It was delicious, spicy and aromatic. It made at least eight servings, so I stored it in an airtight container and reheated for several meals.

 

Lettuce Salad with Grapes, Feta, Almonds & Celery

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I had a huge and easy salad for lunch today. I made a big bed of chopped romaine lettuce. Here’s an easy tip for cleaning your lettuce to avoid contamination. Just put the uncut leaves in a bowl of white vinegar for a bit and then shake off the vinegar, it will kill more bacteria than rinsing under cold water and unlike hot water, will not make your lettuce limp.

While the lettuce is soaking in vinegar, you can toast a handful of almonds to chop and toss on top of the salad at the end.

I cleaned 1 stalk of celery, cut it in half lengthwise and then sliced both pieces on the diagonal. I placed that on top of the lettuce. I drizzled the dressing left over from making my grapefruit and asparagus salad yesterday. It makes a dark dressing and I thought the salad would just look better if it was mixed into the lettuce and celery rather than on top of the cheese and grapes.

  • grapefruit zest
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Then I sprinkled on some feta cheese, more than I intended because I was shaking some on and it would not come and not come and not come and then a whole bunch fell out at once. But it’s not like a little too much feta will ruin anything. I then tossed some red seedless grapes on top that I also rinsed in vinegar. I usually cut them in half, but I was feeling super hungry and in a hurry. It makes no difference to the flavor.

I sprinkled on the almonds and then generously sprinkled tajín on top of the salad. Use salt and pepper or any other spice blend you might like.

It has a nice mix of flavors and textures and brings in enough indulgence with the grapes, feta and almonds to be very satisfying.