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.

Sandwich Slaw

I love slaw on my sandwiches. I love the freshness it brings, the crunch, the tang of vinegar. It is what really makes a sandwich. I generally just throw a few things together without hard and fast rules. There is no wrong way to make a slaw, but this slaw is kind of perfect. I use seasoned rice vinegar which is one of my favorite things.

I cut about 1/3 of a small head of cabbage into thin strips and then chopped the opposite direction for a finely shredded chop. This gave me four cups of cabbage that I put in a big colander. I sprinkled with a teaspoon of salt and let it sit, the salt bringing out the liquid, for several hours. (Actually, I left it overnight.)

The next day, I squeezed the liquid out of the cabbage, put it in a bowl and added

  • 1 cup of chopped yellow onions
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups of chopped cilantro
  • zest from 1 lemon

I mixed these together. Then I squeezed the lemon and added the juice with an equal amount of seasoned rice vinegar, some pepper, and 1 TBSP of olive oil. It should have enough salt from the salting the night before. Season it to your taste.

I know the usual ratio in dressing is 2:1 oil to vinegar and this is the opposite, but this makes it tangy. It doesn’t exactly pickle the slaw, but it gives it a light, bright, zing that I want.

This makes enough for six sandwiches, more or less, depending on how much you like to use. I use this with bacon, sausage, or in this example, pulled pork. It makes a perfect sandwich or on a tostada shell, a delightful, fresh tostada.

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Pulled Pork with Cabbage Slaw Burrito

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This is from last month and I am slow to blog it. It was too hot to bake anything, but I had a 3 pound pork shoulder roast to cook. I decided to make pulled pork on the stove top.

I don’t have a Dutch oven, so I used my soup stock pot. I put it on medium heat with 2 TBSP of olive oil. I added the roast and browned it on all sides before removing for a few minutes. I wanted it to be browned but also wanted to develop flavors before adding the meat and did not want to use two pans.

I chopped up a yellow onion, added it to the oil, with some salt and pepper and sautéed until tender. I tossed in 4 cloves of garlic and about 4 TBSP of Jamaica Jerk seasoning. Yes, that much! I then added 2 cans of diced tomatoes and 2 cups of vegetable broth. I heated everything, stirring and then put the pork back in and let it simmer for a few hours, checking repeatedly until it was falling apart and tender. This was just amazing! So flavorful and not at all too spicy.  This makes a lot of pulled pork that you can use for all sorts of delicious things.

I made a simple slaw of sliced cabbage, diced onions, salt, pepper and oil and rice vinegar.

  • 1 cup of chopped cabbage
  • 1 TBSP of chopped onions
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of seasoned rice vinegar.

I grilled two flour tortillas using the electric coils on my stove. You have to keep a close eye, do not walk away and have the exhaust fan going on high to avoid setting off your smoke alarm.

After grilling the tortillas, I put half the slaw on each tortillas, and then put a half cup of pulled pork on each, rolling up and cutting in half. It was delicious, meaty and fresh and crunchy with the cabbage.

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Rocket & Chickpea Salad with Cantaloupe Dressing

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I made the salad dressing earlier and let it refrigerate so the flavors were mellowed and blended. I used a Magic Bullet™ but a blender or food processor would work even better.  My inspiration was a Linguini al Melone I had several years back at Martinelli’s, a wonderful local deli that closed last year. The linguine has a melon cream sauce. It was as delicious as it was weird, so every taste, I was thinking this is so weird, it tastes so good.

I thought melon might be just sweet and creamy enough to pair very well with rocket – which I have a lot of thanks to the Oregon Food Bank Harvest Share. Rocket is peppery and its bold flavor takes some thought to balance.

Melon Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup of melon
  • 1/4 small yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add everything together and pulse until smooth. You may adjust ingredients to your taste, but remember it is a dressing so you want the flavor more intense than what you would eat plain. It should be tart and sweet. Honey might be a good substitute for sugar, but I don’t have any except buckwheat honey and that is too smokey a flavor for this.

Toasted Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

Open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse thoroughly. Drain so they are dry. You can pat them dry with a paper towel if you are in a hurry. Heat a cast iron pan on the stove a medium high heat, about 7 out of 10 on an electric stove. Add the chickpeas without oil and toast them, shaking the pan frequently so they do not burn. When they first begin to pop in the pan (just a little pop, not like popcorn) shake some salt and paprika on them and keep shaking and roasting until they are browned and slightly toasted. I would normally roast them in the oven but it’s over 90°.

Rocket Salad

Cut a very small yellow onion in half length-wise, cut off the ends and then slice thinly length-wise for small strips of onion. Then chop two stalks of celery on the diagonal for nice thin, but longish pieces. Then add about 4 cups of rocket. You can see that about half the salad volume is rocket.

Toss the chickpeas on top and stir. Add the dressing when you serve so the dressing does not make the chickpeas mushy.

This is a delicious salad. There is the bite of the onion, the earthy celery, the peppery rocket and the smoky, salty paprika of the chickpeas and blended and worked together with the sweet and tangy cantaloupe dressing.

This makes 4 servings, though you could make it in smaller batches and save the toasted chickpeas for something else.

 

Fresh Tomato Rocket Soup with Basil

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The Oregon Food Bank Harvest Share gave huge bags of tomatoes. As soon as I saw the tomatoes I thought of making tomato soup with basil. They also gave out big bags of rocket, a peppery salad green that is wonderful as an accent and highlight in salad but a bit strong on its own. I thought it might make a good flavor accent in the soup. It worked.

This is a recipe that will make almost four quarts of soup, enough to freeze for later and enough for several servings. Enough to share with friends.

In terms of prep, do not worry about chopping things fine. I only cut the onions in quarters. After all, it’s all going to be pureed anyway.

Put a big stock pot with a cover on medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add 2 yellow onions. I cut into quarters, but you can dice if you like. Crush 6 cloves of garlic and toss in after the onions are nearly softened.

Toss in the bag of tomatoes, about four pounds or so. I poked the tomatoes with a knife just to make them release their liquid faster. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid on top. It needs to fit tightly because I am not adding any water. Leave it to cook for 20-30 minutes and check. There should be plenty of liquid with no need for water or broth.

Add 1 cup of fresh basil and 2 cups of rocket. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid back on for another 10 minutes.

Let cool and puree with an immersion blender, regular blender or a Magic Bullet.

This makes a great tart, peppery tomato soup. The flavors are really rich and deep, with a lovely tang. I served with just a bit of fresh rocket on top. It keeps well because tomato is very acidic and there is no dairy in it.

Sausage, Green Beans & Dried Plums

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This was a fast, simple dinner that took very little time or effort.

  • 2 pork sausage links
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1 cups of green and yellow beans
  • 3 dried plums
  • salt and pepper

I sautéed two breakfast links in my cast iron pan. When they were half done, I added some chopped onion, green and yellow beans and put the lid on my pan, adding salt and pepper. While they cooked, i sliced the dried plums in strips. I added them when the beans were nearly tender and put the lid back on. When they veggies were tender, it was ready to serve.

It’s a nice, hearty dinner with lots of umami and a bit of sweet surprise from the plums. Pork and dried fruit are always delicious together.

Asparagus Pear Couscous Salad

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I made the couscous using the leftover broth from cooking farro just to add the richness of the vegetable broth to give it a deeper flavor. I made the farro and couscous at the same time and after the couscous was done, I stuck it in the fridge overnight to make a salad for lunch the next day.

  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Bosc pear
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 4 stalks asparagus
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley
  • Seasoned rice vinegar

To make the couscous, I poured 1/2 cup of hot broth on top of 1/2 cup of couscous in a plastic container and put the lid on it for 5 minutes. Then I stirred it so it did not stick together. I put the lid back on and left it in the fridge overnight.

To make the salad, I took four thin early asparagus and cooked them in simmering water just long enough to be tender. I cut into chunks. While the asparagus was cooking, I chopped up about 1/4 of an onion, chopped up a 2 tbsp of parsley and cored and cut up a Bosc pear. I added a bit of salt and pepper. I added 1 tbsp of seasoned rice vinegar. I shook it on so that is a guess. I added enough to add dress the salad lightly.

This is was light, fresh and delicious. The pears and asparagus are amazing together with the seasoned rice vinegar. The onion adds a bit of bite, the parsley a bit of freshness and then the couscous is a great foundation.

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Melt

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A fast and easy lunch made with just a few ingredients.

In a sauté pan, I heated 1 TBSP of olive oil and added a pinch of anise seeds to it. When the aroma filled the air, I added 1/2 of a yellow onion, sliced thin along with 3 small peppers (the mini red peppers. I actually used a red, orange and yellow) or 1 large red pepper, cut into stripes. Add salt and pepper and let cook until tender.

I sliced two small zucchinis into little rounds and added them to on top of the onions and peppers. Then I cut about a 10 cherry tomatoes in half and tossed them on top with some salt and pepper. I let them cook for a while until tender.

Lastly I grated a bit of parmesan on top and let it melt. This made one large serving for a lovely, flavorful lunch. Anise is usually used in cookies and candies, but it is amazing with vegetables. It does not add a sweet flavor, it adds a subtle bite, sharper than you might imagine, but so delicious.

Apple, Celery & Celeriac Puree

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Since this will be pureed, there is no need to dice or chop finely. Big chunks are just fine, so long as they can cook evenly and will fit in blender or Magic Bullet.

Heat 3 TBSP of butter (or olive oil for vegan option) at medium low (4 on a 10 point electric dial) in a large stock pot. Add 2 yellow onions and a bunch of celery, all chopped. Add salt and pepper. Cook until the onions have sweat and are translucent.

While that’s cooking, chop up 4 large or 6 small apples. I used some Galas and a Pink Lady. Eating apples, not cooking apples because we are not adding any sugar. Crush and peel 3 cloves of garlic. Add the apples and garlic to the stock pot. Add tsp of thyme. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid on a let cook about five minutes.

Meanwhile peel and chunk the celeriac. Add to the crock pot with 1 quart of vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper.  Bring heat up to medium. When everything is tender, remove from heat and let cool.

After it’s cooled down, puree with an immersion blender, blender or Magic Bullet. Serve hot with a bit of chopped parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds and, if you’re feeling ambitious, some thinly sliced pear grilled on a hot burner. I accidentally spilled enough pumpkins seeds to two servings in this picture. They were delicious, though.

The soup is a smooth, mildly tart puree with a delicious, rich flavor. There’s a nice bit of bitter heartiness from the celery that is lightened and balanced by the apples, the onions adding some bright notes and of course, celeriac is always delicious.

This makes about 8 servings, but it also tastes better as leftovers. In fact, it’s so much better the next day that I didn’t eat it the day I made it but let it wait overnight. Unlike most celeriac purees, I don’t add any cream so it will keep several days and can also be frozen.