Spicy Beef Strips and Chard

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  • 2 TBSP of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of red chili flakes
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 6 oz beef round steak sliced thin
  • 4 stalks of red chard, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • Rice Vinegar.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet a medium heat. Add the red chili flakes, they will flavor the oil so the heat permeates all the ingredients. While that heats, chop 1/2 a yellow onion, and toss in to sauté with a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until softened.

While the onions cook, take the beef round (it was on sale for 1.99/pound) and slice in thin strips of about 1/4 inch. Toss into the onions, add salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally. Let it get some nice char.

While the meat cooks, clean and chop the red chard. Toss into the pan with the meat, add some salt and pepper, and stir. Put a lid on the pan and let cook for two minutes or so, add 1 TBSP of rice vinegar. Put the lid back and let everything soak up the vinegar.

This is a delicious, meaty dinner with the rich flavor of beef and kale, the heat from the red chili peppers and the bite of vinegar are delicious.

 

 

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Smoky Split Pea Soup

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So, the recipe began with The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Cookbook I am reviewing for my book review blog. I will note the adjustments I made to the recipe.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 coffee beans
  • 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3–4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced (The cookbook called for red, I don’t have any on hand.)
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil (This seemed like a lot, but I decided to trust the recipe. It is the right amount.)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine (The recipe calls for vermouth, but I didn’t want to buy something when I had white wine which worked perfectly well.)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat the olive oil, add the thyme, red chili peppers, and coffee beans. Add chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper, two bay leaves, and smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low until onions are tender, but not caramelized.

Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Cook ten minutes or so, until alcohol is cooked off.

Toss in the split peas, salt, pepper and water and turn heat up to a low boil for about an hour to 90 minutes until the peas are tender. Check frequently, stirring so it does not burn or stick to the bottom.

Using a slotted spoon remove the bay leaves and coffee beans and let cool. The book does not mention doing this, but it just makes sense. However, I missed one coffee bean (it must have been a small one) so it got blended up in the blender, hence a few tiny brown flakes in the soup. This was not enough to ruin the soup, but I think blending all the beans into the soup would be a disaster.

Blend in batches in a magic bullet, blender or with immersion blender.

So this soup is magical, rich and creamy with no dairy, smoky and rich in flavor without bacon or ham. Those coffee beans were an intriguing idea and they worked a treat. The splash of balsamic vinegar gives it a fresh and light lift that is what you taste first before it deepens to the smoky umami of the peas and ends on the gentle heat of the peppers.

 

Bacon, Egg, Pear, Parm Sandwich with Caramelized Onions & Apricot Cabbage Slaw

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I don’t know what got into me today, but I was about to make a roast pork and slaw sandwich and I thought about all the pears I need to eat and ended up making the most delicious sandwich ever.  It began with the Apricot Cabbage Slaw I was going to make for the sandwich.

I got ambitious and decided to make slow caramelized onions. To do that, I thinly sliced 1/2 an onion on a mandoline. I heated a cast iron skillet to medium high (7 of 10), added 1 TBSP of saved bacon drippings (but you could use olive oil or butter) and melted it. I added the onions and cooked quickly, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes until browned, then I lowered the heat to medium-low (3 of 10) and let cook slowly while I prepared the Apricot Cabbage Slaw. Be patient, the longer the onions cook, the more tender sweet they are, almost like a jam.

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Turn the broiler on before the onions are done to heat up.

When the onions were done, I removed them and set them in a small bowl. Any leftover onions can be used in a sauce or another sandwich.

I then cooked two slices of bacon in the same pan, rendering the fat and saving it for another day. I removed the bacon and set it aside.

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While the bacon was cooking I broiled 2 slices of bread on one side for about 2 to 3 minutes. Just to get some strength from drying, it did not get toasted. Between broiling on one side and then on the other, it was time to cook the egg.

I wiped the fry pan clean of any bacon, and put a dab of butter in the middle of medium hot pan and cooked one sunnyside up egg, adding some salt and pepper.

While the egg was cooking, I broiled the other side of the bread.  On one piece, I shaved parmesan cheese. On the other piece, I layered thin slices of pear to caramelize sightly. I put them back under the broiler for a few more minutes until the parm was melted.

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Assembly

On the side with the melted part, I stack the two slices of bacon, cut into 4 pieces. I added the sunny side up egg. On the side with the pears, I stacked caramelized onions, and the Apricot Cabbage Slaw. Then I put the two pieces together with a bit of hard push to break the egg yolk so it spread through the sandwich and sliced it in half.
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Believe me, this is worth spending 40 minutes to make. The pear and caramelized onions are dream. And of course, bacon, eggs, and parmesan are delicious. A good sweet/sour slaw is a perfect balance to the sweetness and the creamy egg marries everything together. This is the most delicious sandwich I have ever concocted. This made one sandwich, but I have some caramelized onions and slaw left over. I had thought to make a vinaigrette with the onions, but now I think I will be making this sandwich for supper.

Apricot Pear Sandwich Slaw

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Chop about 1 cup of red cabbage and lightly salt, setting it aside while you make the dressing.

Chop up 5 dried apricots into small pieces. Heat a clean, empty saucepan (no oil, no butter) to med. Add about 5 anise seeds and warm until aromatic. Toss in the dried apricots and an equal amount of water, about 1/4 cup. Cook until the apricots fall apart and are tender, adding more water if necessary. When the water is all soaked into the apricots, add 2 TBSPs of rice vinegar and stir quickly. Toss into cabbage, season with salt and pepper to taste.

With just four ingredients, this achieves a subtle and complex flavor, blending the aromatic pungency of the anise with the sweet tartness of apricots, the bite of the vinegar and the fresh crunch of cabbage. It’s delightful on its own but I made it as a sandwich slaw to use with slice pork roast on bread.

However, before I started to make this, I got a wild idea to make a different kind of sandwich and ended up using it in an amazing sandwich made with Bacon, Eggs, Onions, Pears and Parm. This is plenty for 4 to 6 sandwiches, or a couple small side salads.

Pear & Delicata Squash Soup

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I have an abundance of pears so I decided on making a pear soup. One of my favorite soups is Pear & Parsnip Soup but I didn’t have any parsnips. I had a delicata squash though and thought it looked promising.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Delicata squash
  • 3 small pears or 2 large pears
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 32 oz. or 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • kosher salt

I put my soup kettle on a low medium with the olive oil. I added the diced onions and dried thyme, letting them slowly cook until transparent.

Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped up the squash, reserving the seeds. It made about 2 cups of chopped up squash, perhaps a little bit over.  Adding the squash to the pot, I stirred and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes. While they cooked, I peeled and chopped up the pears and added them to the pot and let it cook a couple more minutes before tossing in the wine and the broth. I turned up the heat so it began to simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes.

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While the soup was cooking, I rinsed the seeds in water and cleaned away the stringy pulp. Pushing the pulp against the strainer mesh helped in cleaning it away. I then heated a cast iron skillet in a dry pan with no oil to a notch above medium. I tossed the seeds in and toasted them with some kosher salt until toasty brown, stirring frequently so they did not burn. These I set aside for garnish.

I let the soup cook until the squash was tender and puréed with an immersion blender. Serving with a few squash seeds on top, it was a delicious soup. The flavor of the wine comes through without overpowering the soup. The sweetness of the pears and the squash make it lush and slightly sweet. It is a light and refreshing soup. This makes six servings.

 

Roasted Radishes and Carrots with Lemon Dill Sauce

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I had far too many radishes from the food bank, so I decided to try roasting them. As you can see they are huge radishes so are relatively mild.

I scrubbed them with a wire brush because the dirt was ground in. It took a lot of work to clean them, but it was worth it. I cut them into halves or quarters depending on their size. I wanted to get them all about 1.5 inches or so. I peeled and cut the carrots to the same size.

This is about eight radishes and 4 carrots cleaned and cut to size.

Preheat oven to 450°. I use paella pan for roasting vegetables. You can use a cookie sheet, bar pan, anything that is on the shallow side. I tossed the radishes and carrots in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt. I roasted them until they began to caramelize.

To make the sauce, I heated 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP of flour in a sauce pan, stirring over medium low heat for about four minutes until the flour is completely cooked, but not browned. I then added 1 cup of milk. I had low fat milk on hand, so that’s what I used. I stirred until smooth, adding the zest and juice from one lemon and a bit of dill weed. I used a bit more dill weed than I intended because the bag slipped. It was still delicious.

The contrast between the piquant radishes and the sweet carrots with the creamy sauce was delicious. This made four servings.

 

 

Broccoli Frittata

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Turn oven on broil

Bring water to a boil in a small pan. As soon as it’s boiling, drop broccoli in for 90 seconds. Drain.

Chop up 4 slices of bacon. Toss in 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. Cook in medium cast iron skillet.

Dice one small onion (I used a red onion.) Add to skillet and sauté until transparent. Add parboiled broccoli.

Beat 4 eggs, add 1/2 cup milk and pour into the skillet. Stir slowly, pulling from the outside to the center. When the eggs are early cooked through remove from the heat.

Add a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese across the top. Broil until toasty.

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This is delicious and makes four servings.

Scrambled Eggs with Bok Choy and Bacon

Eggs Bok Choy Leaves

Chop up two slices of bacon into small bits and fry in cast iron skillet on medium heat with about 2 TBSP of chopped red onion until onions are transparent.

Tear the green tops off some bok chop and rinse clean. Roll up into a tight little cigarette shape and chop finely (usually called chiffonade) and sauté lightly.

Crack 3 eggs, stir together with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Pour into skillet, stir briefly before turning down the heat and keep stirring gently until done. You want to soft scramble the egg so it’s fluffy, moist and soft.

Add salt and pepper when you’re done. Salt added during cooking ruins scrambled eggs.

Makes one serving. It’s delicious, the bok choy leaves are a great blend with bacon and onions.

Chop Salad

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This is a simple salad that is fast, easy, crunchy and delicious.

Strain a can of chickpeas and rinse in cold water. Let drip dry a bit before tossing in a bowl.

Chop up the following veggies to add:

  • Dice 1/4 red onion
  • Slice 2 radishes
  • Chop one celery stalk
  • Chop one Carrot
  • Chop some fresh cilantro

Mix together 1 TBSP of seasoned rice vinegar with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. The usual ration of vinegar is 1 to 4 to emulsify, but I like it a bit more vinegary. I do it about one to one, then add some salt and pepper.

It’s better the next day. Makes two servings.