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.

 

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Roasted Root Vegetable and Kale Soup

Roasted Root Vegetables and Kale Soup

Sometimes you think you have the ingredients you need and then you cut into something and discover you need to rethink things on the fly. I hate onions, garlic, and linguiça sauteeing for a Caldo Verde when I discovered only a couple of my potatoes were any good. I suppose this is why you are supposed to do mise en place before you cook one thing, but I chop while I cook and probably always will. Okay, time to cook on the fly.

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 linquiça sausage sliced into 1/2 slices.
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups of finely chopped fresh kale
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • kosher salt

So, starting with what was already cooking:

In a stock pot, I heated 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. I added yellow onions and sauteed until beginning to brown. I added the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and linguiça and cooked for about 3 minutes. Now this was when I would be adding the potatoes for Caldo Verde, but no…

I turned on the oven to roast some root vegetables rather than boil potatoes.

So, I decided to use rutabaga and thought I needed a brighter flavor. I added diced tomatoes and added the same amount of water as I added tomatoes. (I filled the empty cans, shook them a bit, so everything dumped into the stock pot.) I turned the heat to a low simmer.

Meanwhile. I tossed the chopped rutabaga, carrots, and potatoes in a roasting pan with 1 TBSP of olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. I roasted them at 450°, turning them after about 15 minutes. After about 25-30 minutes they were tender and browned.

 

The tomato sauce/soup has been simmering away very slowly for about 30 minutes. I added the kale and let it wilt in the soup until tender, about 5 minutes. I then added the roasted vegetables and added a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

This is definitely something to make again and again. It has a bright, fresh taste with just the tiniest bit of heat. The carrots balance the rutabaga with a bit of sweetness, the linquiça is amazing as always, and the tomatoes and kale are made for each other. It’s a delicious soup, a bit lighter than Caldo Verde, and beautifully vibrant.

This made 8 servings, but that means 8 meals of progressively more flavorful soup since it always is better the next day.

Lentils with Curried Rutabaga

Lentils with Curried Rutabaga

In a saucepan, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 diced yellow onion and 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced, 1 tsp of dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, 2 bags of black tea (Remove the string.), and salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add 1 cup of dried lentils and 4 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer and putting the lid on to simmer for about 20 minutes until done. The tea adds a bit of smokiness and umami to the lentils.

Peel and chop one rutabaga into half-inch pieces.

In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 TBSP of Jamaica jerk seasoning and 1 TBSP of curry powder to the oil and heat until the aroma blooms. Add the chunks of rutabaga and sauté for about ten minutes so the pieces start to soften and brown a bit. Add about 1/2 cup of water and put the lid on for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Add the rutabaga to the finished lentils. Stir, and add 1 TBSP of balsamic vinegar or more to your taste. The vinegar’s tang will reduce the heat from the Jamaica jerk and curry powder.

Serve with a bit of fresh chopped cilantro on top.

The cool thing is that while the flavors blend beautifully, the constituent parts retain their individual flavors, so the rutabagas have that heat and the lentils that rich smokey heartiness. This is a thirty minute or so dish and serves eight. I know it’s not a single serving, but rutabagas are HUGE! The thing is, it reheats perfectly and only gets more delicious the next day.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite winter vegetables and since they are in season, I thought it might be fun to come up with a red and green dish with them, experimenting in advance of Christmas. Sun-dried tomatoes are such a rich red, with the bright green of the Brussels sprouts, I decided I had to try it.

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. Brussels Sprouts, cleaned, ends cut off, and quartered.
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 TBSP Asiago cheese grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil with the dried pepper flakes, infusing its heat into the oil.
  2. Add chopped onions and sauté until turning transparent.
  3. Add garlic, stir quickly.
  4. Add Brussels sprouts and sauté, stirring occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes. Add pepper but withhold the salt until after you add the sun-dried tomatoes. (They can get really salty depending on the brand and you will want to taste it with the tomatoes before you add any salt.)
  5. Add juice of 1 lemon and sun-dried tomato strips. Cook until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Add grated cheese and stir quickly. It will melt right in.

This actually made two generous servings, so I have one to reheat. It’s very umami with the cheese giving it a bit of nutty creaminess. The sun-dried tomatoes add a bit of sweetness and tartness at the same time. It’s a very comforting side dish.

I can imagine it with a bit more of a Mediterranean vibe by adding some black olives. You could also use parmesan instead of Asiago, I just prefer Asiago myself. It’s just a bit nuttier. This is fast and simple, taking less than ten minutes from start to finish.

Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry

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My best friend makes this for Thanksgiving every year, but this year she was deep in roasting lamb, making brioche, and baking pies and brought the ingredients over with her recipe and said, “Here.” Well, not quite so peremptorily, but you get the idea. Knowing that her lamb is the most delicious dish that has ever existed on the planet, I was happy to help. Besides, my contribution was two pickled salads that I had made the day before so the brine could work its magic. This is a recipe that originates with Nigella Lawson and was printed in The New York Times years ago. It has been a tradition ever since.

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  • 2 med red onions, peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 serrano pepper – don’t remove the seeds, you want the heat.
  • 2-3 inches of ginger, peeled
  • 3 TBSP canola oil

Chop onions, garlic, serrano pepper, and ginger. Sauté in canola oil over medium low heat for about 5 minutes until softened.

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  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 2/3 tsp turmeric
  • 3 cardamon pods, crushed
  • salt to taste

Add spices, stir and mix. Let bloom by heating so the aroma fills the room. This releases the aromatic oils so they infuse more flavor.

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  • 3 med sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 3/4 cup coconut milk (light) (1 can)

Add sweet potatoes and stir until covered by spices. Add coconut milk. Raise heat to medium and simmer.

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  • 1 TBSP tamarind paste
  • 2 1/4 cup vegetable broth (can use water if you don’t have broth)

Heat broth and stir tamarind paste in hot liquid until dissolved (You can use a microwave). Tamarin paste is super sticky, so you want to be sure it is completely dissoved in the hot liquid before you add it to you pan of simmering sweet potatoes. Keep simmering, partially covered for about 25 minutes. You want the sweet potatoes to be tender, but not soft.

  • 4 to 5 cups cooked chickpeas

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Add the chickpeas, stirring them into the sweet potatoes and making sure they heat through. Then remove.

  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro

Top with cilantro when serving.

This is a warm, slightly spicy dish rich in the hearty, warm flavors of fall with the beautiful browns and oranges of fall as well. It is delicious, hearty, and a great substitute for the traditional mashed potatoes and gravy.  It is a huge meal, serving 12, or great for leftovers. It just tastes even richer the next day.

 

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!

Peanut Slaw with Dried Dates

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This was a quick and easy slaw using some Spicy Peanut Dressing I made the other day.

Dressing:

  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TSBP seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lg. clove of garlic, crushed and macerated with salt
  • Juice from 1 lime, squeezed.

So I sliced up  a salad bowl full of cabbage, diced up two dried figs. Tossed with the peanut dressing. Delicious.

The mix of spicy heat and sweetness and citrus tang make this a great salad dressing. Cabbage is friendly to just about any dressing and the dried figs add just a perfect contrast.

Chicken Peanut Sauce Burrito

Chicken Peanute Sauce Burrito

I got some peanut butter from Harvest Share last month and discovered that it actually is pretty good on celery. When the jar was close to empty, I thought it might be interesting to toss some rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, and dried red pepper flakes, shake it up so the peanut butter sticking to the sides of the jar did not go to waste. I tried it on some lettuce and it was delicious. So this is the peanut dressing I made.

  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TSBP seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lg. clove of garlic, crushed and macerated with salt
  • Juice from 1 lime, squeezed.

I thought it might be good with some chicken. So I sauteed a chicken breast with just some salt and pepper in olive oil. While it was cooking, I chopped 2 TBSP of yellow onion,   thawed out 2 TBSP of frozen peas by running them in cold water, toasted 6 pecans in a dry pan and chopped them up.

I removed the chicken breast and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then I heated up my burner and with the air vent on high, charred two flour tortillas against the coils of the stove. If I had a gas stove, I would grill, but this is my “electric grilling.” Just lay them on the medium-high coil with half hanging off the edge so you can grab them.  Flip with your fingers as soon as it begins to char, I generally “grill” on each side a few times to grill the whole tortilla. You cannot be doing anything else when you do this because you don’t want to start the tortillas on fire.  It adds a really great flavor and makes delicious tortillas.

Chicken Peanute Sauce Burrito

I compiled my dish with a small handful of lettuce, the sliced chicken breast, onions, pecans and thawed peas. I then added the peanut dressing and rolled them up.

This is delicious. Chicken is such a mild ingredient that it embraces nearly anything you do. I liked the peas (And yes, fresh would be better, but needs must,) They added a bit of texture and freshness. It all went together so well. It’s zingy and spicy from the lime and red peppers and then the peanut adds this kind of hearty sweetness.

 

Shakshouka with Tomatillos

Yesterday I got about 5 pounds of tomatillos from Harvest Share. I had eaten them before but never cooked with them. Last night I made a quick stir fry with them that was tasty. Seeing how they cooked, I wondered if they might work for a shakshouka. No harm in trying, right? Well, I tried it. I liked it. I will make it again. Shakshouka made with tomatillos is very different, but still very good.

To make the shakshouka, I heated my pan to medium, added 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp of red chili flakes to my dry cast iron man and let them toast for a couple minutes, just long enough to make the air fragrant. I then added 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, and 2 cloves of garlic and sautéed until the onions were tender and turning transparent.

While they cooked, I chopped up 6 small tomatillos. I added the chopped tomatillos and let everything simmer until the tomatillos cooked down. I squeezed juice from one lime to make it zing. After about 10 minutes, I added 1 cup of water and stirred.

When the tomatillos were broken down into a sauce, I cracked four eggs on top to let them poach. To be on the safe side, you can crack your eggs into a small bowl and slide them into the liquid to avoid breakage. I find that if I crack them on a flat surface, I don’t break the yolks and I don’t get shells falling into the dish either. Add some salt and pepper to the eggs.

I let them poach for a few minutes, covering them for the last minute to make sure they cook thoroughly, though not so the yolks get hard.

So this made four servings, or two with 2 eggs. There is a delicious tartness to this shakshouka. There’s gentle heat from the pepper flakes and some delicious umami from the the eggs. It was delicious and I will definitely make it again.

Easy Baked Rice Casserole

This is inspired by a recipe I learned in college, though it’s run far afield since then. I was an international studies student then, was learning Arabic and Spanish, and had a lot of friends from around the world. Fairly often the International House, the center of international student and International Studies student social life, would have a potluck. They also had a big dinner fundraiser for which I helped make 1500 gyoza and 1200 krumkake in two of the most mind-numbing days of my life. But that’s another story for another day. One of the things at least or or two or three Arab students would bring was kabsa. And every kabsa was different. I learned how to make it and decided it was perhaps the easiest thing in the world to make. Now this is not going to be a traditional recipe because that’s the thing with kabsa, you make it what you want it to be.

The first thing is you heat your oven to 350° F. While it’s heating up, you put a baking dish on a medium high burner with a tbsp of olive oil. In the olive oil, you put about 1/4 tsp or so of an aromatic spice like nutmeg, cardamom, anise, allspice, cinnamon. The heat releases the oils and flavors the oil which is going to make everything wonderful. For today’s dish, I used 1/4 tsp of anise and a few shakes of red pepper flakes.

Then toss in a piece of meat – a chicken breast, 1/2 pound of ground beef, or some stew meat cut into good sized pieces, at least 1 inch square. I went far astray and used carnitas–which means I can’t really call this kabsa, because no Muslim would be using pork. You want to brown the meat.

While the meat is browning, cut up some vegetables into big chunks. No need to be dainty. For this one, I cut an onion into 8 wedges, crushed a couple cloves of garlic, cut some asparagus stalks into thirds, and chopped up two inch long pieces of red chard stalks and fennel stalks.

After the meat was browned, I tossed in all the veggies. I tossed salad tomatoes in whole and cut a lemon into quarters. The lemon is not required, but it sure makes it delightful. I just dump everything in, then I made a dip in the center, put one cup of rice there, added two cups of water. Now, if I were using chicken, I might add some turmeric here, but not for pork.

The raw rice, veggies, meat, and lemon – ready to get baked.

Okay, so to recap, aromatic spiece, browned bits of meat, big chunks of veggies, 1 cup rice, two cups water. That’s all you need, takes less than 10 minutes. Now you stick in the 350° and come back in 30 minutes and it’s done. No stirring, no messing with it, all in one pot. What could be easier?

The rice will be perfectly cooked. The large cuts of veggies keeps them from overcooking. Brownign the meat keeps the meat juicy and tender. It will taste not tasted boiled! The aromatic spice adds depth and the lemon wedges infuse the entire dish with a subtle, light lemony flavor. This makes four servings, that get better with every meal.