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.

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.

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.

 

Pickled Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Radishes with Anise Seed

Pickled vegetable salad is found in cuisines around the globe. I made the giardiniera from The Grand Central Market Cookbook the other day so it had a few days to marinate in brine for Thanksgiving. I decided to make a second salad to evangelize my love of anise with vegetables.  Believe me, anise seed does not make your food taste like licorice.

  • 2 tsp anise seed
  • 2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP sugar

To make this, I made the brine first because it must be cooled down before you add it to the veggies. I heated a saucepan over medium heat. I added anise seed and let it bloom a bit, heating it in the dry pan until the aroma scented the room. Then I added apple cider vinegar, a whole serrano chile with the stem removed, salt, and sugar. Heat this until the sugar dissolves, Remove from the heat and cool.

  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cups of carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 2 cups of radish, trimmed and sliced.
  • Serrano chile, (removed from brine and chopped)

Chop the vegetables, add the brine. Let marinate for at least 12 hours. This is a crispy, crunchy salad with a bright flavor. This is my second pickled salad for Thanksgiving dinner and serves 8.

 

 

Breakfast Tostada with Kale, Eggs, and Lemon

This took less than five minutes to make. I heated two pans on the stove, one set at about 4/10 and the other at 6/10 on the heat dial, a low and a high medium. In the low medium, I added no oil at all. I put about 1/4 of a small onion cut in thin slices and about 1 cup of chopped kale, chopped up. I added a bit of salt and pepper and a few red pepper flakes. I squeezed the juice from half a lemon on it and let it cook. I did not want it to get overly cooked, just warmed.

When the kale was about half done, I melted 1/4 tsp of butter in the other pan and cracked an egg in the melted butter. I added salt and pepper, and let it cook for a minute.

I put the tostada on a plate, spooned the kale and onions on the tostada, then I flipped the egg for a few seconds and placed the egg on top of the kale. When eating, I broke the yolk right away so it blended with the kale and onions. The kale alone tastes too strongly of the lemon juice until you mix the egg yolk…and then it’s a perfect lemony sauce .

This is a pleasant mix of textures, soft creamy eggs, crunchy tostada and soft, but still toothsome veggies. The egg yolk and lemon are a light and creamy sauce for the salty tostada and the sharp onions and slightly bitter kale. It’s fast, easy, and delicious.

Southwest Cole Slaw

Salad

  • 1 small head of green cabbage, chopped fine, salted
  • 1 small head of red cabbage, chopped fine, salted
  • 10 carrots, in ¼ in strips
  • 8 tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced fine and chopped

Dressing: Drop everything in a blender or magic bullet and blend

  • 6 limes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1½ cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce

The cabbage should be chopped first and left in a colander, salted to bring out the liquid so the slaw does not turn watery. Wring the cabbage out after it has sat for 30-45 minutes. Then add the carrots, onions, and tomatillos. Mix. Add dressing and shake to distribute dressing over the entire slaw. Do not serve for at least 30 minutes so the flavors begin to marry.

This is a very light, fresh cole slaw. Despite the Sriracha and the ginger, it is not that hot. It just has a bit of zing. The tomatillos add a tartness that is fabulous and there is the layer of lime that is right there, adding that citrusy note but it not bitter. I chopped everything very small to make it work well on sandwiches or even dropped into a bowl of chili or soup. There is just enough dressing to coat the veggies and soak in a bit, but not enough to leave a layer of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, so it does not saturate the bread and when you sauté it with some pasta or rice, it does not add a lot of oil.

This is a big batch. It made 4 quarts of cole slaw and I gave half to my best friend who went with me to Harvest Share. However, the thing with cole slaw that does not have a creamy dressing, that has no buttermilk, yogurt, mayo, or sour cream, is that it will last for several days…which means it is there for several meals and there is nothing more versatile.

 

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.

Grits with Red Chard & Egg

So, you can make grits ahead of time if you like and even make a big batch of grits in advance, or you can make a single batch for just this dish.

Today, I made one serving, so I brought 1 cup of water with a dash of salt to a boil and added 1/4 cup of corn grits. Stir the grits in the boiling water for a couple minutes and then cover, turning heat down low for 15 minutes. If your pan is thin, check on it and stir frequently. If you have a big thick pot, you can just leave it and it will be cooked to perfection without sticking.

About 10 minutes before serving, heat a tsp of olive oil in a small pan. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of anise and warm in the oil, add salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup chopped onions and sauté until tender. Chop 1 cup of red chard, add when the onions are tender. Sauté lightly for
a minute or two then add 1 TBSP of rice vinegar. Let cook.

Poach an egg. You can either drop it in boiling water that you swirl to make centrifugal force keep it together or you can poach it in a microwave. Add about 1/2 cup of water to a bowl. Crack you egg into the bowl. It must be submerged under the water, but to be on the save kid, prick it with a toothpick or the tip of a knife anyway so it does not explode. . Cover the bowl with a plate. Microwave for about a minute. Keep an eye on it, sometimes it will be done in 40 seconds, sometimes a minute. I have poached dozens of eggs in the microwave and each egg seems to need their own time somewhere between 40 and 80 seconds.

Spoon the grits in the bottom of a bowl. Add the cooked chard, Place the egg on top. The yolk mixes with the vinegar and oil of the veggies into the luscious creamy, tangy dressing with the perfect blend of heat and bright tang.

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.