Pork Loin Bruschetta with Basil-Feta Farfalle

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This is super easy and about 15 minutes from start to finish. First I heated my iron skillet to medium with a TBSP of olive oil. I took a pork tenderloin and laid it in the skillet to cook. Then I sliced off a 1/4 inch or thinner slice off a medium yellow onion and chopped it fine. I also minced on large clove of garlic. I took half the garlic and all the onion and added it to the skillet, away from the pork loin chop and let is saute in the oil.

Meanwhile, I put on a kettle of water to boil on high.

I chopped one mushroom into small pieces and added that to the skillet. While it cooked, I chopped up one small tomato and added it. By now, the water was boiling so I added 1/2 of dried farfalle pasta.

While it boiled, I turned the tenderloin to cook on the other side, added salt and pepper and continued to watch and stir the onions/mushrooms/tomatoes mix.

I took two large leaves of basil and rolled them up like a cigarette and cut them in very thin strips (chiffonade). By now the loin chop was done, so I put it on the plate to rest.

The farfalle cooks quickly so I tested it for doneness a few times and removed as soon as it was tender. I added 1 tsp of olive oil, the half a clove of minced garlic I saved back from the skillet, stirred that in with and oz of crumbled feta and the chiffonade basil. I dished that up on the plate next to the pork and then put the bruschetta mix (which is usually put on bread and baked) and spread that on top of the loin chop.

The flavors all work beautifully together. The pasta with the basil and feta has a sharp, bright flavor. The pork loin with the bruschetta is hearty and full of umami savoriness. Mixing the bruschetta with the pasta is a delight.

Hungarian Mushroom Noodles

Hungarian Mushroom Noodles

Heat saute pan to medium, add 1 TBSP olive oil, 2 tBSP of chopped onions and 2 large mushrooms sliced in half and then sliced into 1/4 slices. Add salt, pepper and 1 TBSP of paprika. Cook until tender. Add 6 ounces of ground turkey. Put a sauce pan of water on to boil. When the meat is browned, add 1 TBSP of tamari sauce, 4 TBSPs of sour cream, 1 TBSP of dill weed and juice of 1/2 fresh lemon. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Add noodles to the boiling water, they will cook quickly. Meanwhile, taste the sauce and add paprika to taste. Drain the pasta and toss the sauces with it.

Best Black Bean Lasagna

Black Bean Lasagna - the Potluck Version

Believe it or not, this vegetarian black bean lasagna tastes better than a meat lasagna to this carnivore. It’s an amazing recipe and one that I don’t cook often, because it’s more work than I usually like to put into cooking a meal. However, for potlucks, parties and guests, it’s a perfect choice. People will be amazed.

Ingredients:
1 15 oz can black beans, drained with liquid reserved
2/3 cup of brown rice – uncooked
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2  tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup vegetable stock plus 1 tablespoon
1/3 cup Anaheim chili pepper, seeded and diced
1 4 oz. can chopped green chilis – drained
3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro

Bean Sauce
3/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons onion
2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1.5 tsp dry sherry
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
(plus reserved beans and liquid from above)

2 2/3 cups marinara sauce
6 sheets lasagna noodles
2 2/3 cups mozzarella, grated
1 cup lowfat ricotta (you can be more generous and use the whole container)
1/4 fresh bread crumbs

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Measure 2/3 cup of beans and reserve the rest for later.

Cook the rice.

Roast the cumin and coriander in a dry skillet.Add cooked rice, stir in salt and pepper and let cool. Stir in corn, stock, peppers, chilis, cilantro and 2/3 cup black beans.

Place 2 tablespoons of the vegetable stock in a saucepan. Add onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, chili powder, sherry and sherry vinegar.  Simmer 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, reserved beans and its liquid. Cook additional 8 minutes. Process until nearly smooth, leaving some bits of beans intact.  Add remaining vegetable stock and cilantro. Reserve.

Spread 2/3 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9*13 backing dish.  Cover with one layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Spoon on half of the rice mixture and 3/4 cup of the bean sauce. Top with 1/2 cup of the ricotta cheese and 1 1/4 cup of the mozzarella. If you want, add more ricotta and use the whole container.

Cover with another layer of lasagna noodles and 1 cup marinara sauce. Repeat the layering of rice and cheese. Top with the last layer of noodles. Press lightly to distribute evenly..

Add last layer of marinara (3rd). Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Let stand about 20 minutes before cutting.

Pork Shoulder Steak with Blackberry Sauce and Mushrooms and Tortellini with Lemon/Brown Butter

Pork Steak with Blackberry Sauce, Tortellini and Mushrooms with Lemon Brown Butter

I picked up some raspberries, strawberries and blackberries at the Farmer’s Market. They are so yummy, picked at the peak of freshness – which means I want to cook them up right away. Pork loves fruit, so I decided to go with a pork steak. Mixed packs of pork chops, shoulder blade steaks and other pork steaks cuts were on sale for $1.99 per pound so I picked up a family pack. To top it off, they had a Buy Two Get One Free deal, though I don’t have the freezer space and had to pass.

I heated my skillet to medium heat, sprayed it lightly with olive oil spray and put a shoulder blade steak on to cook. These are thin cut, so I immediately put water on for the tortelli.

I put a couple tablespoons of white wine in a sauce pan. I cut two 1/8 inch thin slices off a medium onion and chopped very fine and tossed it in the wine. After the onions softened, I added a cup of blackberries and used a fork to crush them slightly. I added just a touch of salt. Because I planned to serve it on pork, I did not add any sugar, though if I were serving with beef or chicken, I would add a half teaspoon. I thought the pork would be sweet enough to not require sugar and I was right. It was unnecessary. By now it was time to flip the pork steak and start the tortelli.

While that was cooking, I sliced two large crimini mushrooms and tossed them in the water for the tortellini. I then added a cup of tortelli and let them boil.

I turned the heat up a bit on the sauce to cook it down quickly and poured it into a little bowl so I could rinse and reuse the sauce pan. I put the pork steak on the plate to rest and tossed a tablespoon of butter in the sauce pan and heated it until it turned brown. I then squeezed the juice from half a lemon in. I strained the tortellini and mushrooms and added them to the plate. I put the blackberry sauce on the steak and the brown butter on the pasta and added a few blackberries on the side.

It was delicious. The blackberry sauce was very tart but missed with the brown butter and the pork for a fabulously savory flavor. As to the pasta, there’s nothing quite like brown butter with a dash of lemon juice. Yummy!!

Lamb Tarragon Wine Sauce, Spinach Pasta and Slow-Roasted Asparagus

Lamb Tarragon Wine Sauce

I started water boiling for the pasta and preheated oven to 450. I cut the dried ends off the asparagus spears and put them in a shallow roasting pan with a bit of olive oil. I rolled them around to get the oil to coat the spears and sprinkled kosher salt on them and put them in the oven. When the water started boiling I added fresh spinach noodles (these are from Pastaworks) and began working on the sauce.

I put a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet, added 2 tbsp of sliced leeds and cooked a couple minutes. I added 1 clove of minced garlic and 2 tsp of dried tarragon and 1 tsp of dry mustard and cooked a bit more. I took 3.5 ounces of lamb sausage and broke it up into the skillet and let it cook. While it cooked I sliced 5 mushrooms and 1 small tomato. I added them after the meat had browned. By then the pasta was done and I strained it into a colander. Putting it back in the pan, I added a bit of my cooking juice and stirred it in so it didn’t get sticky.

Back to the sauce, I added a splash of white wine (about 4 TBSP) and put the lid on a minute. I then plated the pasta, ladled some sauce on and pulled the asparagus out of the oven – perfectly done and added them to the plate.  I squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on the asparagus. The lamb sauce on the pasta has a lovely savory taste with a bit of heat from the mustard and beautiful freshness from the tarragon. That dash of lemon juice was a perfect complement to the asparagus, offsetting the olive oil and salt splendidly.

The asparagus was not literally slow-roasted. I just forgot to turn the oven on at first.

Tortellini Primavera

The zucchini at the store was pretty sad, but I bought some anyway just because I love zucchini. I knew I had to cook one for lunch today or lose it, so I started this lunch before I had completely made up my mind what I was going to make. I took out a small leek and cut a vertical slice about 1.5 inches from the end where I last cut, turned it and cut another slice. Then I made diagonal thin slices, giving myself tiny, 1/4 cuts of leek that I put in the skillet with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. I cut up about 1/8 of a sweet red pepper and tossed it in. I took my zucchini and sliced it lengthwise twice, quatering it before cutting it on the diagonal. I wanted small chunks, not slices. Tossing that in with the leeks and red pepper, I added some salt and pepper and a tsp of oregano.

I remembered that i got a free bag of tortellini from Schwans and put some water on to boil with a bit of salt in the water. I measured out 1 cup of the tortellini to toss in when the water began to boil.

I cut 1/2 of a medium tomato in chunks and tossed that in with the veggies and put the lid on my skillet. I then picked cilantro leaves off the stems and chopped them up.

Water boiling now, I tossed in the tortelli and turned the heat off on the veggies, adding the cilantro and putting the lid on so the cilantro would wilt a little in the steam, but not get cooked. Four minutes later the tortellini was done, I dished it up with a slotted spoon and tossed the veggies on top.

It had a fresh bright flavor, very light and spring-like. There was just a bit of bite from the leeks, but the overall flavor was a light spring freshness. I thought about adding cheese, but decided it would just make it heavy and take away from its bright flavor and texture. I could have squeeze some fresh lemon juice on it and that would have been tasty, but didn’t think of that until I was done eating it. Next time!

Chicken Mushroom Soup and English Muffins

This is the same soup I made earlier this month. It’s a favorite of mine and I make it a lot. This time, though, I used fresh noodles that I picked up at the grocery store which are closer to homemade noodle, my favorite way to make it. I made some homemade English Muffins to go with it. You will notice they are quite small. I am diabetic and bread is worse, I think, that candy, for managing my glucose. So, I make smaller individual muffins and pretend I am eating more. It should not work since I know what I am doing, but it does. It just makes me feel like I am not denying myself two muffins. How much smaller do I make them? The recipe makes 16 normal muffins and I get 26.

Warm up some water.

Mix 1/2 cup warm water and 1 pkg of dry yeast. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix 1 cup of milk (or as I did,  1/2 cup of nonfat dry milk with 1 cup water), add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar and add to the yeast. Add 2 cups of flour and stir until blended. It will be soft and sticky. Now add 3 TBSP of vegetable oil and 1.5 cups of flour and stir. It will still be soft, but no longer sticky. Cover with a towel and let sit until double in bulk – about one hour.

Knead lightly and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut with a circular cookiet cutter (my muffins) or tuna can (normal size muffins) and let rise 1/2 hour. Cook on a hot griddle that  you have dusted with cornmeal. Cook about 10 minutes on one side and flip and cook about 15 minutes on the other. I only cook the ones I want to eat at the time. The dough for the rest have been dusted lightly with cornmeal and are bagged up in baggies in the fridge for fresh, hot English Muffins on demand.

I added a lovely Red Velvet Apricot for some fresh, bright color, but then I went and ate it while the muffins were cooking.  There’s a nice article with pretty pictures over at foodie hunter. When you see how pretty they are, you will understand why it didn’t make it to the table.