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.

 

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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.

 

Tomato Jam

Tomato Jam

Ever since I read the words tomato jam in some book about the South, I have been thinking I need to try it. When there were two freah tomatoes in my Imperfect box this week, I knew its time had come.

  • 2 tomatoes, remove the core and chop
  • 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

Put all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring steadily. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for about 90 minutes, checking and stirring every 15 minutes or so until reduced to a thick jam texture. Store in a covered container in the fridge. It will keep for a couple weeks, but it won’t last that long as it’s so good. This makes about 1 cup of jam.

So wow! This is so good. It’s got this amazing sweet and sour flavor that would be good on just about anything. There’s some great heat from the ginger and red pepper flakes, there’s this aromatic oomph from the cloves and cinnamon and truly, my house smelled like tomato heaven.

Tomato Jam Sandwiches

Here are a few sandwich options. I toasted and yes! those are heels because I like how crispy they get when toasted. It makes me think this may be really delicious on knäckebröd and makes me want to go to Ikea. On the left, toast, tomato jam, sliced cucumber, and grapefruit. On the right, tomato jam, feta cheese, and a sprig of fennel.

Tomato Jam

Here I used knackebröd with tomato jam. On the left, I added feta and on the right, I used sauteed kale, fennel, and onions from the grilled cheese.

Grilled Cheese with Fennel and Kale

Grilled Cheese with Fennel and Kale

My Imperfect box came yesterday and I got a fennel bulb. I love fennel and want people to cook with it a lot more so it becomes more common and less expensive. This time I made a grilled cheese sandwich using some of the 5 pounds of kale I got from the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share.

So what did I do?

Fennel, Onions, and Kale
I put a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat and added 1 tbsp of olive oil. While it heated, I used a mandoline to thin slice a medium-sized yellow onion and the small fennel bulb. I tossed the thin slices in the skillet, added a bit of salt, and sauteed until tender. Meanwhile, I chopped up about 2 cups of raw kale. I pulled the leaves off the stems, rolled to chiffonade. When the onions and fennel began to caramelize, tossed in the kale and covered to let it cook for about 5 minutes.

I removed the veggies from the skillet and dropped some butter, putting down one slice of whole wheat bread, I added thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese and then forked some of the veggies on top of the cheese. When it was toasted and ready to flip, I added some more cheese on top of the veggies and added the second slice of bread and flipped the sandwich. In a few minutes, it was beautifully toasted.

So, this has an unctuous kind of savory deliciousness. People think of fennel as sweet, but it’s not and when it’s cooked it mellows even more. Kale is best with strong contrasts and fennel is ideal.

 

Cucumber Grapefruit Salad

Cucumber Grapefruit Salad

So I got my very first box of produce from Imperfect Produce and decided to make something with the cucumber, grapefruit, green onions, and cilantro I ordered. I had this idea…

I took a half of a cucumber and peeled it, cutting it into quarters so I could easily remove the seeds. Then i chopped into 1/2 inch bites.

I supremed one small grapefruit, cutting off the pith and peels and cutting the segments free.

I chopped two green onions and about 8 pieces of cilantro. I mixed this all in a bowl with some salt and pepper, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes (just a few flakes!) and 1 tsp of maple syrup (good maple syrup!). Shake it up a bit and serve. Makes one serving.

I kind of thought the maple syrup would make magic and it did. There’s just the tiniest bit of heat and a hint of sweetness, perfectly tempered by the freshness of the cucumber and the bright zesty grapefruit. This was so good I wish I had made double.

Now about Imperfect Produce. A friend forwarded the site to me on Facebook, knowing that I have to be careful about spending and how I rely heavily on the Oregon Food Bank’sHarvest Share to have enough vegetables since the regular food banks are heavy on carbs. I decided to give it a try because saving money and saving the environment sound like a good plan to me. Below are the results. As you can see, my imperfect produce is not that imperfect, I see a little dent in the cucumber, but nope, not that imperfect. They are incredibly fresh. I ate the first grapefruit just as a fruit and ended up with grapefruit juice everywhere. It was delightfully messy. And look how much I saved!

Imperfect Produce

I saved a lot

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Dill Lemon Sour Cream

The best way to cook vegetables is roasting. They retain their flavor and get a bit of flavor emphasis with caramelization. It’s popular to melt a little cheese on top but that seems a bit heavy for lunch. I like the contrast between hot veggies and cool, fresh, and light sour cream.

Preheat oven to 450°

Toss six cauliflower florets, 2 very small onions cut in half, and 3 slices of asparagus cut in half. Toss a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Rub the oil all over the veggies so they are coated.

Roast 20 minutes, turn oven to broil for 5 minutes so the veggies are all browned beautifully.

While roasting, make a sauce with 1/4 cup of sour cream, the juice of half a lemon and some dill weed (to taste), add a bit of salt and pepper.

Roasted vegetables are the best, a light, cool sauce is a delightful contrast. It’s also super easy to make.

Turnip, Apple & Celery Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

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This makes more than a single serving, but then a good salad is nice to have for snacks and side dishes. The main ingredients all came from Harvest Share. Because marinating is important to its flavor, it’s better the second day.

  • 1 large turnip, peeled and diced into small pieces.
  • 5-6 stalks of celery chopped.

You want equal parts of turnip and celery, so cut enough celery to make as much bulk as the turnip.

  • 2 apples, chopped (You want about half as much apple as turnip by bulk.)

Meanwhile, toast some pumpkin seeds with a bit of oil and salt. Toast until they start popping like popcorn. Put on a towel and pat dry so they don’t have oil on them.

Mix the apples, turnips, and celery together. Add dressing made from

  • 1 fresh lemon, squeezed juice
  • 3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Stir together and then add toasted pumpkin seeds. Let sit overnight.

This is a delicious salad with lots of crunch and chew. The turnip adds a bit of tang, the apples add sweetness to balance the turnips and the celery gives us crunch and earthiness. The pumpkin seeds add a bit of meaty, nutty, and salty snappy crunch. I love how the flavors marry together.

Brussels Sprouts, Black Beans, and Carrots

This was a quick and easy supper.

  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, cut off the end and then halve or quarter depending on the size so they are all the same size.
  • 1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed with water
  • juice of ½ fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add anise seed until the aroma fills the room. Add carrots and salt and pepper. Sauté for about two minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until warmed through. Be sure you don’t overcook to the point they are softened. Add black beans, rinse thoroughly so the juice from the can does not color the veggies. Add salt and pepper. When they are warmed through, squeeze fresh lemong juice and cover for 1 minute.

I love the flavor of anise and vegetables. It really does not taste like licorice. It marries vegetables perfectly. The black beans adds a bit of protein to balance the dish and give it the carbs that really make it satisfying.

Brussels Sprouts & Radish Salad with Candied Almonds

Yesterday volunteers spent a couple hours in the rain to distribute fresh produce to local residents. A project of the Oregon Food Bank, Harvest Share is open to everyone in the area. All they ask is your zip code and how many are in your household and if you have been there before. Food banks are dominated by nonperishable foods, lots of carbs, canned food, and frozen food. There’s very little fresh produce, so Harvest Share which is all about fresh produce is a wonderful option.

However, Harvest Share gives a lot of a few items, like about ten pounds of radishes and 6 pounds of Brussels Sprouts. Hmmm, time to think outside the box. I found a recipe by Jeremy Fox featured by Martha Stewart who has never released a bad recipe, but I didn’t have celery hearts, almond oil, or even an assortment of different radishes. It did sound like a good place to start, though. I like nutmeg with Brussels sprouts and I thought it would work with this recipe with a few alterations. Of course, I cut it in half as well to make it a single salad entree.

Make the garnish first because it must be cooled down first.

Garnish:

  • 2 TBSP sliced almonds
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Toss these in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook, shaking the pan so the sugar gets over all sides of the almond slices and cook until the sugar caramelizes. Removed quickly so it does not burn and let cool on some parchment paper. Break it up on the salad when it is cooled.

Salad:

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat some freshly grated nutmeg until you smell its aroma. Add the butter and let it melt before adding the garlic. Cook about two minutes, softening the garlic.

The Brussels sprouts need to be broken down for salad. Cut off the ends and then cut away quarters from the center, discarding the core. Break it up with your fingers into leaves. Add to the garlic and butter and cook, stirring so all the Brussels sprouts are coated and let cook until warm, but not limp. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice and stir it in and transfer to your salad bowl.

Put the sliced radishes on top and then add the candied almonds.

  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, broken down into leaves.
  • 4 radishes, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed

The salad is delicious. There is something luscious about mixing savory and sweet, the garlic, the lemon, the candied almonds. It also has a lovely mix of textures, the tender leaves, the crunchy radish, and the crispy almonds. You could use a nut oil or olive oil instead of butter for a vegan option, but it would lose the richness of butter and garlic and lemon coming together in mouth-watering dressing.

Yum!

Ginger Chicken with Turnips and Pears

Ginger Chicken with Turnips & Pears

This is so delicious that I am going to make it again and again, though it would be nice to add some fresh parsley just to get a bit of green. We humans like a bit more color variety in our food, but the flavor is intensely varied. I was at Harvest Share and a woman from Somali who was in line ahead of me asked what she might make with turnips. I mentioned how much I like them in a salad with pineapple and onions, but we also were given a big bag of pears and I said the pears and turnips would go together in a soup or puree. When I got home, I was inspired by our conversation to come up with something tasty with turnips and pears.

I had a chicken breast thawed out for supper, so I decided to try something with chicken. I thought the piquant flavor of the turnip would go well with ginger, so I decided to focus on ginger and garlic for flavor. Wow, it worked out so well.

I heated a cast iron skillet to medium heat with about 1 TBSP of olive oil. I chopped up ¼ yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, and about ½ inch of ginger root chopped fine and added to the skillet with some salt and pepper. As soon as the onions softened, I added the chicken breast. I might have cooked a whole breast, but I bought this bargain bag of chicken breast pieces, so I cut it up into bite-size pieces.

While the chicken browned, I peeled a turnip and cut into ½ inch size pieces. It was more than I wanted, so reserved half for something tomorrow and added half the turnip pieces to the skillet. I stirred things around and put the cover on for about 8 minutes, to the point where the turnip was close to tender.

Meanwhile, I peeled a mid-size pear and chopped into ½ size pieces. When the turnip was close to done, I added the pears and stirred, sauteeing for about 2 minutes since the pears just need to be warmed. I removed the food to a plate and added about 1 TBSP of water to deglaze the skillet. Stirring the juices in, I added a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and added the food back, stirring it into the sauce, making sure it is well-coated. I served it on a plate and sprinkled some sliced almonds on top.

This is so delicious, there is this wonderful umami from the chicken and onions, this fresh tartness from the ginger and turnips, and a delicate sweetness from the pears. It comes together in this rich flavor explosion.

I think I might toast the almonds next time. It might be interesting to try with pistachios, too. A sprinkling of fresh parsley would add some color.