Swiss Chard with Anise

Swiss Chard With Anise

My best friend was at the grocery story and found top sirloin tip steak on sale so this gorgeous piece was just $5.00 so she bought one for me and dropped it off with some fresh chard. Since introducing her to how well anise seasons vegetables, she is always experimenting with new ones. She had made chard seasoned with anise the night before and wanted me to be sure to try it, so of course I did and of course it was delicious.

  • 2 cups of clean, chopped chard
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • pince of anise seed
  • salt and pepper

Clean the chard, stripping the leaves from the stem. You can save the stems and pickle them if you like. I think you can pickle most fibrous stems, cauliflower, broccoli, chard, etc. Vinegar is cheap so it costs pennies to try. Chop the chard by rolling it and slicing the rolled chard. This allows you to make even slices. Then you can cut the opposite direction for smaller pieces.

So the next thing you do is heat a cast iron pan. Add a pinch of anise seed to the dry pan so the heat releases the oils. Then add a half tablespoon of olive oil, just enough to coat the pan. Add the chard and sautée. Chard is tender and cooks quickly so this takes at most two minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.

The steak is not part of the recipe, but because it is in the picture, here are directions.

The steak I cooked the way you always cook a steak, let it come to room temperature, pat it dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the cast iron pan to med. high with olive oil. Add the steak, cook about 5 minutes, flip and add butter to the pan, and cook on the other side about 5 minutes, using a spoon to keep putting the butter back on top of the steak. Let rest for 10 minutes and it’s perfectly medium rare. I have no idea how you cook it wrong (well, medium, well, etc.)

There is no reason not to cook the steak, remove it to rest, and then to cook the chard in the same pan, addind the little bit of steak juices to your chard sauté. It’s not like it hurts.

 

Baked Eggs with Bacon and Kale

Baked Eggs with Bacon and Kale

My best friend treated me to breakfast at The Little Griddle last week and I enjoyed a delicious baked egg dish served in a small cast iron skillet. It was made with bacon, eggs, and spinach and topped with panko and parmesan. It was delicious, so much so I wanted to try to recreate it in spirit, if not in form. I don’t have the right size skillet, so I used a small baking dish.

I decided to go with kale rather than spinach. I love spinach in salads and in spanokopita, but in cooking, I am very much in agreement with Imani Grandy. You think you have enough and you start cooking it and it disappears.

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It took me five trials to get it right. The first three times, it still tasted good, but getting the eggs baked so the yolks remained soft and runny while the panko toasted was tricky. If the panko was toasted, the egg yolks were hard, broiling resulted in toasted panko with semi-raw eggs. I tried different temperatures but finally succeeded by baking the eggs until nearly done before adding the panko and broiling. During my trials, I tried different spices and discovered that I really liked sage and cinnamon the most. However, cumin and red pepper flakes was also tasty. So was cinnamon and cayenne. I decided on going with sage and cinnamon to satisfy my love of umami. So here goes.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 tsp of dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onions
  • 1 stem of kale, cleaned and stripped off the stem, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Put a skillet on medium heat, add bacon, sage, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the aroma fills the room.
  3. Add onions and kale and continue to cook until done. Ideally, the bacon, onions, and kale are all the same size.
  4. Remove from heat and place in the bottom of a small baking dish or two ramekins. If you have a small enough skillet, you can leave it in the skillet and skip this step.
  5. Put 1/2 cup of sour cream on top of the spinach and bacon. You could use cream or yogurt. Don’t stir it in, lay it in top because the eggs bake into it, sort of like coddled eggs.
  6. Carefully crack two eggs and lay on top. Add salt and pepper and bake for about 10 minutes.
  7. After 10 minutes, check the eggs, the whites should be close to done and the yolks still runny. This can be anywhere from 10 to 12 minutes, depending on your stove and the size of the eggs.
  8. Remove from oven and sprinkle with panko all over the top. Turn oven to broil
  9. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes. Keep your eye on it so the panko does not burn.

Needless to say, this is delicious. I would not experiment over and over on the same recipe for two weeks if I were not trying to get to something perfectly delicious. In many ways, this is like coddled eggs, but I didn’t have cream and love sour cream with kale so much I had no interest in buying cream for an authentic coddled egg. If I had cream, then I would have needed to add some parmesan to get a bit of sour flavor to counter the sweetness of the cream. I thought sour cream easier and even tastier.

I think this dish could be made with collards, mustard greens, spinach (obviously), kale, and any other flavorful greens. Variations could be made with fennel, cauliflower, and more. Experiment yourself, just cook everything, put the sour cream on top, then the eggs, bake. Add panko, and broil. Go for it and let me know how your own experiments pan out.

Carrot & Cilantro Sandwich Spread

Carrot Cilantro Sandwich Spread

Recently I saw a restaurant menu that offered a carrot sandwich. It included grated carrots, cheese and maple syrup. I was reluctant to try it because I think carrots are very sweet on their own, but it got me thinking about what I might like on a sandwich. This is what I came up with.

  • 1/2 cup of grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp of seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp mayonnaise
  • Cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste

I grated a medium carrot on the second to finest side of a box grater. I chopped a small handful of cilantro, including the stems. I added mayo, rice vinegar, and spices and stirred.

You should use this right away. It does not improve by sitting overnight as water is drawn out of the carrots, making it more watery.

Carrot Cilantro Sandwich Spread`

I added some roast pork, but it would be great with turkey, chicken, and even beef. It also works on its own without meat if you want a vegetarian sandwich. I used enough cayenne that it does not work as a salad, it’s grated too finely and is too spicy. It needs the bread to balance the spiciness.

Caramelized Onions, Pear, and Pecan “Pizza”

Caramelized Onions, Pear, & Pecan Pizza

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 tsp molasses or brown sugar (optional)
  • pinch of baking powder (optional, 1/2 tsp per pound of onions, so a pinch only)
  • 1 pear, peeled, and sliced
  • 2 TBSP pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Bread dough

In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter. Add the thinly sliced onion, carefully separating all the rings. Stir and add a bit of salt and continue to cook on low heat for a long time, checking occasionally and stirring. Be patient and go read a book. You can cook it on higher heat, but the goal is not one single bit onion getting charred, so I slow cook it for an hour or even longer. After the onions are softened, you can add a pinch of baking powder to speed the Maillard reaction. I like to add a bit of molasses to make the flavor just that bit more complex. You could also bake it in the oven at 350° but it stains the sides of the pan above the onions and is hard to clean.

While the onions are cooking you could make the bread dough using this recipe a friend gave me. This makes enough dough for eight pizzas or four artisanal boules. I make it and just keep it in a plastic container in the fridge to use when I need some dough. I use it for boules, for pizzas, for fry bread, and for wrapping around cocktail sauces or cheese for snacks. Anyway, the two hours the onions take is plenty of time for the first rise of the dough. 

Turn the oven on at 400°

Roll the dough out as thin as you can and then roll the edge to the center, just one roll so you have a bit of an edge to keep anything from going on the baking sheet.

Spread the caramelized onions on the dough and spread to the edges.

Place the pear slices evenly over the “pizza.”

Sprinkle the mozzarella and pecans over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Makes two services of two slices each.

Let cool for about 10 minutes and cut into four pieces. Letting it cool makes it easier to eat and the flavors are more intense when they aren’t too hot. Also, when it’s hot out of the oven, everything will slide right off the bread.

This is delicious, caramelized onions and pears are pure magic. I’ve made this with blue cheese too and it is delicious as well.

Wild Rice & Brussels Sprout Salad

Wild Rice & Brussels Sprout Salad

In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil, add 1 cup of rinsed wild rice. Let cook on a low boil for 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Check frequently and stir so it does not boil dry. Pour into a colander when done and let drain until completely dry. I left it in the fridge overnight. I added salt and pepper to taste in the morning. Seasoning during each step makes for a richer flavor without over-seasoning.

Clean 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, cut the bottoms and any damaged leaves, then slice into thin strips that you can break up into individual pieces. After I finished cutting all the sprouts I broke the slices up by working with my fingers.

Chop one small red onion

Heat a skillet on medium, grate fresh nutmeg into the pan and toast until the aroma rises. Add a few handfuls of sprouts and saute until just warmed through. Repeat until all the Brussels sprouts have been sauteed.

.In same pan, toast 1/4 cup of slivered almonds.

Mix onion, Brussels sprouts, and wild rice in a large bowl. You can either add the almonds or set to the side and add when serving (It keeps them crunchier.)

Make mustard vinaigrette to dress the salad.

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup.
  • Juice from 1 fresh-squeezed lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Stir this into the salad and let rest. It really takes a couple hours minimum to reach its best flavor, so make ahead and let rest. I made this for Thanksgiving Dinner. It makes 8 servings. It was a hit, there’s a nice toothiness from the rice, a nutty flavor, and a bit of crunch. It’s also colorful with the brown, bright green, and the purple of the onions, looking lovely on the table.

 

 

Masa Cakes with Kale & Sweet Potato Salad with Over-Easy Egg

Masa Cake with Kale/Sweet Potato Salad

This was easy and delicious. I have been experimenting with masa harina to figure out ways to cook with it since I got a huge bag from Harvest Share. I’m not fond of cornbread  so I wanted to go in a different direction. I made the salad first and made more than I needed for the masa cakes.

For the salad, this makes enough for 8 masa cakes, but is also good on grilled cheese and with sandwiches. So I don’t mind.

  • 1/2 bunch of kale, cleaned, stripped off the stem, and finely chopped. This is about 3 cups of kale.
  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • Juice from 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt.
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced.
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled,  cut into small pieces, and parboiled in salted water.

Mix these first four ingredients together and rub the oil, salt, and lemon into the kale to soften it. Add the sliced onions. Drain the sweet potatoes and add to the kale. Let rest for an hour or more in the fridge.

For the Masa Cakes, this makes four masa cakes.

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1½ tablespoons  butter, sliced
  • 1 cup masa harina corn flour
  • Dash of Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup grated cheese (I used pepper jack)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Mix together the masa, salt, sugar, use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter, add milk and stir together until smooth, add the cheese and mix it in.  Divide into 4 balls.

Using a piece of wax paper, but one ball of dough between two layers of wax paper. Press flat to about 1/4 inc. I used a small bowl and pressed down to make the edges smooth, tossing remaining dough back in the bowl to use. This will make 4 masa cakes.

Heat a griddle on medium and put about 1/2 tbsp of olive oil on it. When it’s heated, put two on the griddle to cook, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

When you’re ready to serve, fry an egg over-easy. You could poach them instead.

Assemble by putting a torta cake on your plate. Then put a handful of kale salad on top of the cake. Add the over-easy egg so when you eat it, the egg dresses the salad.

Makes four servings.

 

Grilled Havarti Cucumber on Rye

Grilled Cucumber and Havarti Sandwich

This is an easy recipe but must be made in two steps. First, you want to marinate a cucumber in some vinegar with dill weed, salt, and pepper.

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dill weed
  • salt and pepper

Slice the cucumbers and put in a sealable container. Add vinegar, dill weed, salt, and pepper. Put the lid on and shake. Stick in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Since you are only using the cucumber slices, you can reuse the vinegar to pickle another cucumber. I like this on sandwiches and have used it on a fried chicken sandwich and on a sandwich with slices of London broil.

Now on to the sandwich. Heat a cast iron skillet on low (3 out of 10 on my stove). Butter one side of a slice of rye bread and lay butter side down in the skillet. Layer thin slices of Havarti Dill cheese to cover all the bread. Then layer the cucumber slices. I layered two layers of cucumber because I think Havarti is a relatively sweet cheese and wanted more vegetable than cheese. Please the second slice of rye on top. Let cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is grilled. Flip and cook the other side. Remove, cut in half and serve.

It’s very important the cucumber marinate so it’s more pickle than cucumber. The unctuous cheese needs that vinegary bite. The dill in the cucumbers reinforces the dill in the cheese. The cucumber retains just enough of its crunch to give you a bit of toothiness. It’s delicious and easy.

Pork, Pears, Nectarines and Ginger Sauté

Pork, Pear, Nectarine Stir Fry

  • 2 TBSP chopped onions
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 4 oz boneless pork loin cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2  Bosc pear cut in wedges
  • 1 small nectarine, cut in wedges

Heat skillet to medium-high. Add 1 TBSP of olive oil. Add onions, ginger, and garlic and sauté until transparent, about 4 minutes. Add pork pieces, salt, and pepper and cook until it browned, about 4 minutes. Turn heat down to medium, add pear and nectarines. Let cook for about 3 minutes, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon and 2 tsp of soy sauce

Serve over rice.

This actually made two servings. There was sweetness from the fruit, tartness from the lemon and the heat of ginger and blending together for a tasty and easy dinner. About 20 minutes from start to finish.

 

Grilled Pear Sandwich with Caramelized Onion Jam & Tomato Jerk Jam

Grilled Pear Sandwich

Who doesn’t love a grilled sandwich? I discovered that pears are delicious on a grilled rye sandwich. I don’t have a grill nor a yard for grilling, but if you turn your stove fan on high and pay attention you can grill thinly sliced pears on the electric burner. Just don’t try to do more than three slices at a time.

To make this sandwich, I heated my griddle to medium heat and buttered two slices of rye bread. I spread some caramelized onion jam on one side and some tomato jerk jam on the other. I layered 1/2 of a pear thinly sliced and grilled on top of both slices of bread and let them cook on the griddle until toasted, putting the sandwich together after it’s done.

Grilled Pear Sandwich

The char on the pear gives it such a delicious flavor, sort of sweet and smoky. The onion jam is deep and herbaceous with the flavor of bay and thyme lifted by balsamic vinegar. The tomato jerk jam is bright, sweet and earthy. Together they all come together into a burst of flavor that is bright, fresh, and satisfying. If you spread the rye bread with olive oil instead of butter, you could make a vegan version.

 

Jerk Pork, Rhubarb Nectarine Chutney, and Cabbage Salad Sandwich

There’s nothing like a delicious sandwich for lunch. The trick is to get a good blend of flavor and texture and this sandwich brings everything. There are three ingredients in this sandwich, roast pork, cabbage, and chutney.

Roast Pork

I like to buy the cheapest pork roast, the shoulder or picnic roasts which run about $1.50 per pound. I spread Jamaica Jerk seasoning over the outside of the roast, top, bottom and sides. I roasted for about 40 minutes at 450° F. Roasting time depends on the size of the roast, so I always use a meat thermometer, removing the roast from the oven to rest when the thermometer reaches 140°.

Nectarine-Rhubarb Chutney

Chutneys are the easiest thing to make. All you do is toss some fruit in with sugar, spices, lots of ginger, and some vinegar or citrus juice, in this case, lime juice. Chop everything up, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about one to two hours so all the substance is cooked down to a thick liquid. These are ingredients in this chutney.  This makes about a cup of chutney.

  • 3 stalks of rhubarb
  • 4 small or 2 large nectarines
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 small lime, use zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cabbage Sandwich Slaw

Just about any slaw will work, a mix of crunchy cabbage with a dressing of vinegar is all you need.

  • 1 cup finely chopped cabbage
  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • 2 TBSP diced yellow onion
  • 1 TBSP rice vinegar (more or less)
  • Lime zest from one lime

For this, I finely chopped one cup of cabbage, added cilantro and yellow onion. I added some salt and pepper to taste. I then added rice vinegar, just enough to dress the salad (about 1 TBSP). Mix it up and let it rest for an hour or more so the cabbage absorbs the vinegar. (This makes enough slaw for two sandwiches)

Rye Bread

I suppose you can use any bread, but I am partial to rye. I spread chutney on one slice and mayonnaise on the other. On the side with mayo, I put the cabbage slaw and I put the pork on the chutney side. I spread a bit more chutney over the pork. This helped hold it all together when I put the pieces together and cut it in half.

This is a delicious sandwich with the crunchy freshness of the cabbage with the bit of tang of vinegar and lime. The chutney adds the unctuous sweet and sour. The rye lays down this hearty foundation for the meat and slaw. It’s perfection.