Turnip and Pineapple Salad

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This is a simple, but tasty, salad that only gets better the next day.

Peel one turnip and dice into small rectangles or squares. Chop 1/4 of a Spanish onion. Chop up 1 cup of pineapple chunks and chop about 3 TBS of fresh parsley. Mix together with a bit of salt and 1 tsp of cayenne and let settle so the pineapple juice marry the ingredients together.

The cayenne blends perfectly with the sweetness of the pineapple and its acid is a good counterpoint to the earthy turnip. The onion brightens the flavor and the parsley adds color and freshness.

This makes 2 servings or 4 small servings the size of the one in the picture.

Spicy Pineapple Cole Slaw

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This is a fresh, crispy, crunchy mouthful of sweet and hot. It’s refreshing and delicious.

First I chopped up about 3 TBSP of yellow onion. I also chopped up half a head of red cabbage and two carrots.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan I heated 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar and 2 TBSP of sugar and one serrano chili finely chopped. I cooked until the sugar was fully absorbed and the chili’s hotness blended with the sweet and sour (about 3 minutes).

I poured over the salad fixings knowing that the heat would not cook the veggies. I stirred well and added 1 cup of chopped pineapple. I added some salt and pepper to taste. This made 8 servings.

 

 

Dragon’s Breath Sweet & Sour Pork

S&S Pork

 

This is significantly tastier than dragon’s breath, but it will add a touch of fire to your day. I was hankering for some sweet and sour pork, but I also had some parboiled rutabaga left over from salad fixings and some pitted cherries left from a chutney I had made and it occurred to me that they could work in a sweet and sour pork. They would add compatible flavors, at least. However, there was nothing at least about this dish. It was by far the most delicious sweet and sour pork I have ever made.

So, to start it off. I chopped half an onion and minced an inch of ginger and 1 serrano chile. I sautéed them in olive oil on a medium low heat with some salt and pepper. Meanwhile I chopped up 1/2 a red pepper. I had cleaned and cut up the pineapple yesterday, so it was in a container in the fridge. I parboiled rutabagas for salad 2 days ago and they were also in the fridge in a container. I added a pork loin chop (about 6 ounces) and let it cook with the onions, ginger and chile and added some salt and pepper. When it was browned on one side, I added the red pepper. I let cook for about 5 minutes and added 1/4 cup cherries and 1/4 cup of pineapple chunks and 1/4 cup of rutabaga and season with salt and pepper. I let them cook until warm. Then I added 2 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of white vinegar and stirred. Added salt and pepper to taste.

Please note that when you add salt and pepper at ever step of cooking, you are adding much less at one time. Seasoning step by step means you will avoid over or under seasoning.

I served over plain rice. This had all that sweet and sour pungency of the traditional dish, but the rutabaga and cherries added an earthiness and umami that made it simply out of this world. Frankly, it would taste delicious without the pork for a vegetarian entree.

 

Pork Chop & Rice with Sweet & Sour Cherry Sauce

Pork Chop and Sweet & sour Cherry Sauce

 

My best friend brought over about a quart of fresh sour cherries she picked yesterday. I decided I might try them as an option for sweet and sour pork chops since I had some fresh pineapple that could be used to sweeten their sourness.

First I cooked some rice. I always make 2 cups of rice when I cook it because it stores well and I can use it in many dishes. To make rice, I put two cups of long grain white rice in my wire strainer and run it under cold water, rinsing away the starch. I then put it in a pot that has a tight-fitting lid with 3 cups of cold water and 1 tsp of salt. I turn up the heat to medium high and let it come to a rolling boil. Then I turn the heat off and leave it until I am ready to serve. I do not lift the lid. I do not stir. I do nothing at all. It will be perfectly done if I leave it alone, steaming in the pot. Now I like slightly dryer rice than many Americans, so you can try up to 4 cups of cold water. 4 cups gives you the usual soft (and to me, mushy) American style of cooked rice.

To make the sauce, I cut about 1 inch off a ginger root, peeled and minced. I then minced 3 garlic cloves. I heated t tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and added about 10 cardamom seeds that I removed from 2 pods. I then added the ginger and garlic and let them sauté while i chopped up half a small purple onion and added that. I let that sauté away while I pitted cherries, cutting them in half and removing pits. When I had one cup of pitted cherries, I added that to the sauté pan with the onions, garlic and ginger. I then added a dash or Sriracha and 1 serrano pepper, minced. I let the cherries cook until tender. Then I added 1/4 cup of chopped fresh pineapple and the juice from chopping it up. Taste-testing, it was still a bit too sour, so i added about 1 TBSP of buckwheat honey. Now it was perfect. I had enough for two chops, but I only cooked one, putting the rest in a container for another day.

I heated a pan with a bit of oil and fried the pork chop. After it was done on one side, I turned it over and poured half the cherry sauce on top of the chop and let it continue to fry. When it was done, I put it on a plate with some rice and made sure to spoon rest of the sauce from the pork chop pan onto the rice.

Pork loves fruit and sour cherries were no exception. The sauce was hot, tart, sour and sweet. That buckwheat honey gives it s deep earthiness that regular honey does not. Balancing sour does not always require a lot of sweet. Spicy can balance sour, too, and in this case, spice was a great balance. The addition of cardamom added a rich, headiness that made the whole thing so fulfilling to all the senses.

 

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

I made the rice ahead using 1 cup of rice and 1.5 cups of water with a dash of salt. I rinsed the rice, added it to the water and brought it to a rolling boil in a solid saucepan. As soon as it hit a rolling boil, I put a lid on it and removed it from the heat. 20 minutes later it was done to perfection.

I put some peanut oil in a saute pan (I don’t have a wok.) and set it on medium heat. I added 2 TBSP of yellow onion, 2 minced cloves of garlic and about 1.5 inches of fresh garlic, minced. Next I cleaned and minced 1 jalapeño pepper. While they sautéed, I cleaned and sliced 2 mushrooms, 1/2 stalk of celery and 1/4 of a red pepper. I tossed them in. I then chopped a 6 oz piece of boneless pork loin and added that in to cook. I put a lid on the pan for about 2 minutes.

I had a container with about 1 cup or so of fresh pineapple. I added 1/4 cup of white vinegar and let it blend with the pineapple juice. I added 1 tbsp of soy sauce and swirled it around. When the pork was nearly done. I added the pineapple and liquids to the pan and stirred it all together. It took about another minute to warm the pineapple.

I dished up a half cup of rice and put half the sauté pan full of sweet and sour pork on it. This made two large servings.

I don’t like breaded, battered sweet and sour pork and don’t care for the sweet and sour dressing that tastes sort of like ketchup and honey. This is a very light taste of sweetness from the pineapple more than balanced by the sour of the vinegar and soy. There’s plenty of heat from the jalapeño and ginger. The strong flavors balance each other perfectly without dominating.

 

Rutabaga & Pineapple Salad

Rutabaga & Pineapple Salad

The idea for this salad came to me while I was coring a fresh pineapple yesterday. The bromelain in the pineapple did such a good job of macerating the skin on my thumb it occurred to me that it might tenderize a rutabaga (swede) as well. Well, that turned out not to be true as bromelain breaks down proteins not cellulose. I produced a delicious salad, but it was not quite right. The pineapple did not break down the rutabaga enough, but the delicious zest of raw rutabaga blended so well with the sweet tang of pineapple I had to try it again. I considered parboiling, but was afraid I would lose that subtle spiciness of raw rutabaga. So, I tried salt which is often used to tenderize vegetables such as cabbage and kale. It worked perfectly.

I took one rutabaga, peeled it (not just the thin colored peel but that 1/4 inch of thicker sort of rind) and diced it into small cubes. I put it in a plastic container with a lid and sprinkled about 2 tsp of salt on it. I shook it a few times and let it sit overnight to soften. I shook a few times, just whenever I happened to walk by the fridge. By morning it was tender, but still with the crunch and the delicious raw flavor. I put the rutabaga in a strainer and rinsed the salt away.

Putting it back in the container, I added 1/4 cup of chopped leek greens and 2 TBSP of chopped parsley. I added about 1 cup of fresh pineapple cut in small pieces. I mashed the pineapple lightly with a force to express some of the juice since that is the only dressing on this salad. I added just a touch of salt. Then I let it rest for an hour for the flavors to marry.

This makes 4 servings of salad. It’s got a satisfying crunchiness and the flavors are intense with the rutabaga’s heat, the sweet and tangy pineapple, the bright onions and the mellow earthiness of parsley blending into a rich, multi-layered flavor. The only downside I can see tot his salad is that it could get addicting and that would mean coring and cleaning more pineapples.