Posts Tagged ‘pork’

So it is the time of birthdays among my friends.

One weekend there was a joint birthday party for three of my friends, and one of them received three beautiful blocks of cookware grade Himalayan salt from a boyfriend.

if google+ displays the pictures, this is an assembly of all three blocks, two small and one large

(Oh, yes, there is a possibility of photos on this post! That’s because my friend took pictures and posted them to Google+. Is there aren’t photos, blame google for not displaying them. Wooo!)

The next weekend, for my birthday, we cooked on salt.

salt block on a big, sexy gas range

So I’d spent all of the past year pondering the Charcutepalooza challenges, participating in one, and looking all over the D’Artagnan catalogue to use the challenge’s discount code. And all year, no purchases from them. I sigh over the missed discount.

But that meant that when it was time to grill meat, I was ready. What’s more, I was grilling meat with someone who only eats fowl or swine for meat. But that was perfect since the one thing I’d really been pining after in the D’Artagnan catalogue was the wild boar.

And since I wanted the most forgiving cut possible, I went with the wild boar tenderloin. And then just to hedge my bets, I also selected a chicken sausage.

the styrofoam shipping container with the wild boar and chicken sausage all propped up and looking eager to be cooked

We started with the wild boar, and we sliced it into three thicknesses – thin (about 2-3mm), medium (4-6mm) , and thick (10-15mm).

one intact tenderloin, and below it the one we were slicing into the thicknesses

We started with the thin ones – and they were delightful. All salty on the outside, but with the salt taste very distinctly on the outside. The people who rarely eat red meat thought it tasted like steak. I thought the wild boar had a delightful funk of liver. But there wasn’t any flavor I’d call gamey. And they just melted on the tongue delightfully. Sadly, thought, the block had not yet reached a temperature to give the meat a good sear.

meat. cooking on salt. it's kind of beige in the picture.

The middle thickness was not as pleasing. It ended up being a bit chewy. But then once it cooled, it developed a graininess that made it tender again.

By the thickest ones, we were getting a lovely caramelization while still retaining the juicy center. Also, we threw some asparagus on the salt, too.
just what the text says

Of everything we made, the asparagus was the most delicious! The outside could blister while the inside still hadn’t lost its crisp. The saltiness was perfect, and it needed no other seasoning.

Oh, right – other seasoning. We also tried some thick boar slices rubbed in Penzey’s Galena Street rub. Meh. Not only did the rub already contain salt (so not necessary with this cooking method – imparts mild saltiness, my ass (luckily, I love salt)), but also the pepper and paprika powders were not happy with the high heat and turned a little bitter. Don’t get me wrong – I still ate the meat and loved it, just not as much as the plain slices.

You can also see that we’re building up meat residue on the salt block. If we’d cooked much longer, it could have grown a bit off putting. Here’s what it looked like scraping the salt down after we’d finished with the boar.

Ewww meat crud

And then we moved on to chicken sausages, sliced mushrooms, and slices of onions (a brilliant last minute addition). Slicing the sausages into rounds proved to be a mistake because that was just too salty. But grilling intact ones was delicious. Even more delicious was wrapping them in dinner rolls and adding mushrooms and onions and a bit of mustard and calling it a hot dog.

foreground: sausage sandwich. My friend has also added ketchup, but I'm trying not to judge her for that. background: chicken sausages and mushroom slices grilling on the salt block

The mushroom slices were more exciting that expected. We didn’t cook them to a point where the were releasing a lot of liquid, but the outside got firm while the inside puffed a bit, and it was like biting into a tiny mushroom pillow.

And the onions were beautiful grilled onion slices, pulling up the meat juices from the previous grillings.

And then there were birthday cupcakes. (Using Nigella Lawson’s Victoria Sponge Cake recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, topped with King Arthur Flour’s lemon pastry filling whisked with whipped cream). Not only a good dessert, but they also made a good breakfast the next day.

a while cooking rack full of cupcakes, with one special chosen one bearing a lit birthday candle

I have some wonderful friends.

Tags: , ,

Next up in project clean out my parents’ freezer: pork loin

Back when I was buying cheap meat, a pork loin was one of the best bargains out there – almost all lean meat, no bones, and could be found on sale as cheaply as $1.88/lb

Being just one person, I’d cut a whole loin into three roasts and freeze them. Even then, it’s quite a lot of meat. And it has a tendency toward being dry and flavorless.

The cooking method I learned from my mother was to pick the roast with the thickest outer layer of fat as possible, embed some garlic cloves in the meat and threat some rosemary sprigs between the fat and the meat, coat the outside in garlic salt, and roast it in a slow oven. This produced a lovely, and usually juicy, meal. But the leftovers still tended to be dry.

So ever since I discovered carnitas, I’ve taken to braising this cut. And that means I can even trim off the fat layer.

Braised Pork w/ tomatoes and orange peel

Put the following things into a pot:

  • Pork roast, trimmed of exterior fat and freezer burn (cause I live a classy life)
  • 1 quart of (homemade, home-canned nyah nyah nyah) stock
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (okay, so this was storebought, but it was a great sale)
  • thinly sliced orange peel – now this one requires some explanation because I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do this, but last year I started keeping my citrus peels in water. That simple: eat fruit, put clean peel into a container, fill container with water all the way up to the top so there’s minimal oxidization, refrigerate. I should probably worry about bacteria, but the citrus is fairly resiliant on its own and the peels never developed an off smell. If you change the water every couple of weeks, then the peels are less bitter with each successive change of water, and the pith softens so it can be easily scraped away. Seriously – this is amazing. Why isn’t everyone doing this? Right, so I had these from last winter and they still smelled fine, and I knew I’d be cooking the stuff for hours, so I sliced it into little orangey ribbons and delicious flavor.

And then cook it for a few hours. I went to OutFest with it on low, and then turned the heat up for a few hours once I came home and could supervise it.

I considered it done once the meat was falling apart and almost all of the liquid had been cooked out (as much as I felt confident cooking out without burning it to the bottom of the pan)

So now I had a tasty meat base, so what was I going to do with it so I didn’t get tired of it?

Well, I made half a cup of white rice, and I froze some lunch portions with the rice and about half of the braised pork.

And I had a we smidgeon of rice left, so I took another wee smidgeon (1/4 cup) of pork and made quesadillas

Braised Pork Quesadillas (pork is braised, not the quesadilla)

They key to a good quesadilla (and a good filled crepe) is to not put too much in. If it’s still flat, then you’re I’m going to enjoy it more.

So throw a tortilla in a heated skillet. Once the tortilla is warm, flip it over and start working very quickly (that is – have a mis en place).

Add the thinnest layer of cheese you can.

Pick a half of the tortilla. Cover it with a little leftover (but warm) rice that has been tossed with lime cilantro dressing, a little of the braised pork (drain the liquid away and have a mostly dry filling), and some shredded kale (some sharp onions would have also been good here).

Fold the bare (i.e. with just cheese) half of the tortilla over the filling and make a nice even sandwich. Press flat. And flip it over to brown the outside of the tortilla and wilt the kale. Peek under to see when you have a few burnt spots on the underside of the quesadilla. Decide whether you want the (now) top crisped up anymore (if so, flip and cook a little more). Then serve. Have sour cream on the side.

And I still had about half of the braised pork left. So I made a stew-type dish.

Pork and Chickpea Stew

Add a little oil to the bottom of a pot and sweat an onion, diced. Once the onion is translucent, add a drained can of chickpeas (or soak them overnight and cook them a bit longer than is called for in this recipe… since this here cooking is mostly just getting everything warm enough for the flavors to intermingle).

Now my braised pork was pretty intensely flavored, but if it hadn’t been, I would start adding seasonings here – some cumin seeds, maybe a stick of cinnamon, marjoram, and maybe some raisins would have been an interesting choice. But I didn’t do that.

I did, however, have a baked sweet potato in my fridge, and that seemed like a good addition, so I pulled it out, peeled it, sliced it a couple times against the grain, and mixed it in with the chickpeas.

And then I added the braised pork.

Cooked it for a couple minutes until the smells mixed, and then I dished it up into containers to freeze for lunches.

Tags: , , , ,

6
May

Quiche two ways, both dodgy and delicious

   Posted by: Livia    in dinner/lunch, Recipe

The past couple weeks, my friends and I have been having collaborative dinners.

Yesterday, it went like this:

NoCounterspace: if you want to have dinner at my house (dining out is fine), I have: more potatoes, more asparagus, bell peppers, onions, eggs, cooked zucchini of dubious virtue. I could make a frittata or possibly a pizza (never tried before, but I think I can buy pre-made dough at the coop sometimes).

geeksdoitbetter: i have roasted eggplant, mushrooms, onions wanna make a quiche?

NoCounterspace: There could be quiche!

geeksdoitbetter: shall we pitch the communal cooking idea @ Lulu?

And the pitch went like this:

Lulu –

Geeksdoitbetter has concocted a quiche dinner idea. It could be cooked your house, or at mine if you want some but not until 7pm.

ingredient options from me include:
more potatoes
more asparagus
bell peppers
onions
fresh or roasted garlic
cooked zucchini of dubious virtue (just means they need checking, not that they are necessarily bad)
raw yellow squash of dubious virtue
radishes

cheddar
rustic cheddar of eww
blue cheese
parmesan
homemade soft cheeses

ingredient options from Geeksdoitbetter include:
roasted eggplant
mushrooms

And we decided to make two quiches (for 4 people). One full of tasty things that Lulu’s husband (G) hates, and one full of things he could eat. G was included in the emails and could have been in on the decision making process if he’d answered them, so there’s no gender discrimination here.

So first on pie crust. I’m new to baking, yeah? I’ve never made pie crust. On the other hand, I really like the Pillsbury refrigerated crust that you just pull out and unroll. I think it tastes good and would be aiming to have any crust I made at home taste like that one. So why not buy that one? (note: I am considering changing this attitude now that I both own a food processor and have been introduced to Lulu’s pie crust, which is indeed better than Pillsbury’s – maybe over the next few months, but not this night)

I really wanted to use up some of my potatoes, so the first thing I did was to wash two handfuls (small red potatoes), cut out any bad parts, and throw them onto a baking sheet. I added 2 teaspoons of olive oil and put them on the low rack of the oven. Then I started the oven heating up to 350F, where I’d be baking the quiches.

I tasted Geeksdoitbetter’s roasted eggplant leftovers (eggplant, onions, some herb mix that included rosemary), and they were going to be delicious with the potatoes, so that was planned. If I hadn’t found anything to go with the potatoes, they would have made a good side dish, anyway.

Then I pulled a pound of bacon out of the freezer (because the pieces in the fridge had gone off). Open the package, cut the strips in half width-wise (because they fit in a round skillet better that way) and forcibly separated about half of the half strips (quarter of the pound) out to cook (and put an eighth of a pound into a half pint takeaway container in the refrigerator for easy use later). Put that in my little cast iron skillet and popped it into the oven next to the potatoes, with the slices still all frozen together.

Now for the pie crust. I selected my two 9″ pie plates, unrolled a crust into each of them, settled it into the shape, tucked the edges under and pressed them into place, and took a fork and pricked the shells thoroughly. Then I cracked two eggs into a bowl and brushed the crusts with just the egg white bits (but no need to get another dish dirty – and you can just scramble the eggs for the filling in this bowl). Pie crusts go into the 350F oven (which had reached temperature by now) for 15-20 minutes – they’ll be golden, but not brown.

I pulled the skillet with the bacon out of the oven and started cooking it on the stovetop where I could watch and micromanage. By now the pieces were easy to separate, so I moved everything apart.

Then I took a bunch of asparagus, trimmed the bottoms, sliced them into 1cm pieces, and pre-cooked them on the stove in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Over fairly high heat (7-8 on a knob with numbers) they got a nice bit of roastiness in 8 minutes. I could have put them in the oven, too, but I wanted to be able to look them over.

From my freezer, I pulled out the tomatoes I had grown and Geeksdoitbetter had dehydrated 2 summers ago and sliced them into small pieces.

Right – so here’s the plan.

Quiche 1 (with things G does not like): Roasted eggplant and onions with roasted potatoes and goat cheese

Quiche 2: Asparagus, dried tomatoes, bacon, cheddar cheese

Pulled the first cooked crust out of the oven… and, well, it has sagged a bit and isn’t all that pretty. Luckily, that’s the opaque pie plate, too. So because Geeksdoitbetter is dating him, she decides that G gets to have the pretty quiche, and I load up the less pretty one with the eggplant and roasted potatoes. I pull out my 5 ounce log of chevre, and I manage to fit all of it in the quiche (in nice rustic chunks). The pie is pretty full!

I mix up 4 eggs (two of which have had some of their whites used on the crust already) and pour in about a cup and a half of whole milk – not all of the liquid fits in the pie plate… let’s say I only got 2/3 of the mixture in. Set that up to bake.

Take the other pie crust, which has stayed in place and is lovely. I dump in the asparagus and tomatoes. And it’s really not taking up nearly as much space. So I do quickly sautee a smallish onion (cut into quarters and them thin crescents) and drizzle about half a teaspoon of balsamic over them at the end. Add them in, too!

So we have asparagus, 2/3 of the cooked bacon (crumbled), onions, dried tomatoes, and 3 ounces of sharp yellow cheddar cheese, thinly sliced into short pieces. I added the rest of the egg mixture and then quickly scrambled two more eggs and a bit more milk.

They should probably bake about 40 minutes, but quiche is never done when I expect it to be. I suspect it’s because there’s such a range int he possible density of fillings and that I freehand my ratio of liquid dairy products (milk or cream or whatever) to egg.

But we had it cooking for about 25 minutes when 8pm hit. By then things were not sloshy and we could relocate to Lulu’s kitchen.

The asparagus one was not as pretty as desired. My last egg scrambling could have been more thorough and patches of egg white were visible. No problem! I’d already planned to top that one with the rest of the bacon, so I gave it a quick dusting of paprika and then crumbled the bacon on top.

We relocated, put the quiche’s back into an oven, and settled down for a pot of tea and chatting. And it had to heat up from scratch, so the heating times are complete bunk here.

But 25 minutes later, both quiches could pass the knife test. We pulled them out of the oven and ate them while hot. Because hot quiche is even more delicious than room temperature quiche.

And they did not suffer one bit for all of the dodginess in the preparation. The texture was smooth and the appearance was lovely… well, lovelier on the asparagus one because the eggplant one was clearly overstuffed and abundant, so still sexy but not as elegant.

Everyone went back for seconds, and they were still tempting once we were full. Quiche is amazing!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

17
Mar

Carnitas

   Posted by: Livia    in course, dinner/lunch, hors d'oeuvres, non-vegetarian, Recipe

So I have found out via Rick Bayless’ twitter (he’s one of my favorite people to follow!) that the way I make carnitas is not authentic. If you want authentic, go to his recipe.

Because this is slowly cooked in liquid, it might be helpful to think of my carnitas as more in the pulled pork family of swine goodness.

Instead, when I set about to find a recipe after I went to San Diego and decided that this was something I’d have to try more often (but this was before I was on Twitter), I searched recipe and found a huge variety – some cooking in stock, cola,orange juice, beer, milk, or even water… but none in lipids (not that I knew I should be looking for lipids back then).

So I picked a recipe (water (which I partially replaced with stock) and citrus zest with spices and peppers) and followed it and loved the result. If you want a strict recipe, that’s a really good one. Then I tried it again from memory. And I’ve slowly been paring it down to one of those dishes can just be made from whatever’s hanging out in my refrigerator.

I have a lot of trouble going through a quart of orange juice, so I usually pull this out when I start nearing the orange juice expiration and need to use it up.

Carnitas

Meat
Yeah, so you’d think that you’d want a nice fatty shoulder for ideal flavor. But I started with a cheap ass pork loin with no fat at all, and I loved the results. This will still get tender and juicy and lovely even if you buy the cheapest and leanest option out there (don’t you love when those two occur together?).

When I buy a whole pork loin, I usually cut it into three large roasts and freeze them. So I usually work with a 3-4 pound lump of meat.

Feel free to put it in the soup pot without even defrosting it.

Liquid
Add some orange juice (1-4 cups)

Add some stock (I have quarts of vegetable stock right these days)

Add a splash of wine or beer or tequila – whatever makes you happy.

Feel free to squeeze in a lime

With this much flavorful liquid, you can add some water if the roast still isn’t covered.

You do not need to add any extra fat/oil

More flavor
If you like onion, you can either half an onion and plan to remove it later, or cut up an onion decently finely so it won’t be stringier than the meat.

Mince up some garlic, if you like. Oddly, I usually skip it.

Feel free to grate in some citrus zest. My first recipe that was heavy on the zest ended up with a slightly too strong citrus flavor, but I still like some – whatever I have that’s easy.

pinch off the head of a couple cloves (the spice) and crush with your fingers into powder

Add some cinnamon, if you like it.

I like to add some ground oregano and some ground thyme. (If you have fresh cilantro, either wait until the dish is ready to serve or add just the stems, finely minced, this early in cooking)

And you can add some crushed pepper now, but I recommend waiting because it’s important to realize that just a little bit of pepper will accumulate a lot of heat the longer it cooks in wet heat.

Cooking
So bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

An hour or so later, when the meat it thoroughly thawed, carefully pull out the roast (let it drip a bit) and move it to a cutting board. With a large knife, cut it into 1″ to 1.5″ slices – against the grain. This will keep it from getting too stringy as it disintegrates.

note: if you were starting from fresh meat, you could have done it at the beginning, but it’s fine to wait, too.

Return the meat to the pot. Check that you still have a pretty mild simmer going on.

And hour later, come by and start poking at it with a wooden spoon. See if you can just poke a hole through the slices – or break them into halves. Just start encouraging it to fall apart.

Check your water level – it’s probably still scarily high and you’re wondering if you’re going to have to drain the meat later. Be patient.

But about now I start checking at half hour intervals – but that’s because I like poking at my food.

Hey, now would be a good time to add a conservative amount of crushed pepper, if you want.

Cook, cook, cook.

Is it starting to fall apart? Pinch off a bit and taste it. If the flavors are good, but a bit mild, that’s perfect.

Cook, cook, cook.

Okay, start paying attention to the level of liquid when it starts being stew-ish, rather than soup-ish. Stir more frequently and make sure you’re in the same room so that you can tell when it starts to smell drier (I know this sounds odd, but watch the liquid and smell – the sound of the cooking will also change a bit).

Okay, once it’s mostly dry, it’s a fairly harrowing time. Well, if you have fancy enameled cookware, just keep going until you get a little burny crisp around the edges.

I, however, have cheap, thin nonstick cookware, so I don’t want to go that far. Sometimes I have the right combination of attentiveness/patience to get it just perfectly dry without burning. Sometimes I drain it a little at the end – with pulling out not more that a cup or so of liquid, you really do want all those flavors absorbed into the meat (and then I use the liquid of tasty joy to make rice).

More cooking?
You can put it into batches and freeze now. Or you can crisp it up some first.

This is the time to add salt, pepper, and lipids.

Get a big casserole dish and put an inch thick layer of pork (you might have to do more than one batch) – pour over some olive oil (or, you know, bacon fat) and salt and pepper it.

Roast in a 375F oven (Hella hot, but not so hot you have a fire, because that would be bad) until is starts to crisp up.

Take out of the oven. Stir. Put back in the oven. Crisp. Out. Stir. In. Crisp. Out. Taste. Moan.

Seriously!

ETA: I have since come across this recipe for cochinita pibil, which (with the addition of annatto) might be a more direct antececent of this dish

Tags: , ,

27
Oct

More food

   Posted by: Livia    in Food, lists

Made mushroom risotto this morning, using the last of the vegetable stock I had made.

And then I finished and strained a new batch of stock. Whee!

I’m working on a pot of red beans and pork, but after several hours of cooking over two days, it’s still not coming together right. I think that’s because this is my first time trying to use canned beans instead of dried. I don’t know – I’ve just had an urge to use up my canned goods lately. Eh, even if it doesn’t develop the proper gravy-ish base, it’s still coming out with the right taste.

Tonight, I need to develop a plan for the broccoli rabe (rapini).

And then I’ll just have the copious amounts of winter squash to figure out. I think I’ll break into the sweet roasting squash first – mainly because it’s big, and I have no place to store it. I’m thinking cutting it in half and roasting it with some butter – then I’ll eat some right away with cinnamon and sugar. Make soup out of most of it. And then reserve some to make ravioli with the thai basil and then cook it in a browned butter sauce.

That’s the plan, at least.

Tags: , , , ,

I bought and made so much food this weekend.

First, there was the farmers’ market out by my parents’, which I had to go to because I’d bought very promising looking butter there last weekend, but found it had gone off, when I tried it as soon as I got home. So I took it back in hopes of swapping for fresher butter, but they hadn’t made any this past week – so I swapped for two butternut squash, instead. And I bought a 4 pound sweet roasting squash on impulse.

And then I bought stuff for the Roman cooking workshop. And some broccoli rabe that looked gorgeous. And what’s a couple (or 7) beets for a buck?

So then I met up with my parents so we could try breakfast at an “authentic British pub”. And, yes, they had sourced the right kind of bacon and there was both black and white pudding. And beans from a can. But the eggs were standard tasteless American eggs and there was no grilled tomato… and the tea was only halfway in between the two countries’. I may sound a little down on it, but that’s less because of the quality of the food and more because the entire breakfast run had only one waitress, so the food wasn’t quite as hot as it could have been.

And then my parents wanted to go to a large, indoor farmers’ market. And there was a gorgeous, large, pristine, beautiful head of cauliflower. Locally picked. And some huge white mushrooms picked locally the day before. And we split 3 dozen eggs (I only took one of them) from happy, pasture raised chickens (with flavor!).

And then… just to tempt me further, they wanted to stop and show me their new fancy supermarket, which was very much like a small, off-brand whole foods. I bought an environment-friendly dish soap so that I can finally declare the Dr. Bronner’s experiment a failure. And then I binged on comforting grains – two kinds of oatmeal and some barley. Also, for you doubters of the corporate benefits of social media – I totally impulse bought an unnecessary jar of salsa because I enjoy following the guy’s twitter feed.

Then I went home.

I had completely run out of frozen leftovers for lunch, so last week I had made some desperate bulk quantities of dinner food:

  • leftover pasta salad suddenly turned into dinners
  • mexican-ish rice with chicken and beans
  • macaroni with (homemade) pesto, chicken, and zucchini

You don’t want recipes for those, do you?

This week – There was the Roman Cooking workshop.

We made a pork loin roast boiled in salt water and bay leaves (now I’ve heard of brining, but there was no mention of roasting this meat or any cooking method other than boiling. So I left it in until it started to shred, but I pulled it out then because it was already quite salty. It makes an okay sandwich with mayonnaise (almost tasting like canned chicken). But this morning I started a pot of red beans on the stove, and I used the pork with no additional salt for the beans.

And then we make the barley stew with pork – it turned out almost like risotto, and despite only having two people come to the workshop, there were no leftovers. I might need to make it again soon.

The mushrooms were very tasty (as almost always) and made a great companion to the barley.

Because it wasn’t entirely clear whether the cabbage was to be made with fresh cilantro or dried coriander seeds, I did each half differently – there was a preference for the coriander, but neither one was really exciting, and I do have a lot of leftovers for those. I’ll need to think of a way to repurpose it into something that will freeze.

The fried carrots in wine and fish sauce smelled like ass – fishy ass – while cooking, but ended up tasty enough that I didn’t get to try the finish product.

And then I was pretty much done, especially with only having two people over. SO I handed over the book, and let them select the last recipe. And sweet egg cakes were chosen. Well, it was 4 eggs to 1/2 a pint of milk (with an ounce of oil) to be cooked in a shallow pan (I don’t have the recipe in front of me for the specifics, but it was distinctly not supposed to be custard because that was the recipe above). Because the mixture was so thin and I happened to have a brand new nonstick skillet, I suggested that we could pour many thin layers and treat them as crepes. While not a single one was removed as a flat sheet, we kind of had to bundle it together into a central pile to move it successfully. Oh, and then it’s dressed with honey and black pepper before serving – and it is some tasty! Well chosen!

And then after they left on Sunday, I made two more dinners that I could pack up for lunches:

  • Smitten Kitchen’s pasta with Cauliflower, walnuts, and feta – for which I did substitute regular pasta for whole wheat because I have boxes sitting around that I’m using up before I buy more pasta – and I’m not 100% sure that either the walnuts or the feta will take well to freezing, but the recipe was too tempting to pass up. I did taste a small portion that was didn’t fit evenly into the containers, and it was amazing fresh. I’d almost forgotten the few drops of lemon juice and vinegar (apple cider), but they really brought the flavors together.

    ETA: when she says this reheats well as leftovers, she wasn’t kidding. I was seriously dubious about freezing this one on account of both the nuts and the feta – but thawing it before microwaving has produced consistently tasty leftovers

  • gobhi bharta – inspired by the recipe in my favorite Indian cookbook, but then I took a left turn with the seasonings when I saw an opportunity to use up more of my mother’s extraneous Penzey’s spice mixes – so I used Rogan Josh seasoning with sumac instead or pomegranate powder to tartness and some extra hot pepper. The recipe also called for mustard seeds, so I toasted them in a little bit of my mustard oil I keep meaning to experiment with more. For all of that, it still wasn’t particularly strongly flavored, and it might have been a mistake to put up with rice, but I’d started making it when I started cooking, and I didn’t want to have to think up another use for it.

And then this morning I made one more: pasta with stuff

First, I cooked down a diced purple onion, 2 large mushrooms having been diced, and a bunch of (homemade) turkey meatballs I have in my freezer. Once everything was softer and the meatballs were browner, I splashed some sweet red wine in the pan.

As soon as the pan was dry again, I added 2 small-medium zucchini and some cauliflower (all diced small). Cook cook cook. As soon as it started to soften, I poured in 1/3 cup pasta sauce from a jar. Stir, cook, cook. And then I added macaroni (the pasta box in front, not my first choice of shape) and another 1/3 cup of sauce. And then I took it up into containers. Would be good with cheese.

Oh, and I also did laundry this morning.

And then I pondered whether I wanted to make another set of lunches or whether I wanted to start turning over dirt for restructuring the flower bed out back. And I decided to take a nap, instead.

Now I want soup, and tea, and hot chocolate. And another nap.

I think I’m going to use the remaining stock to make risotto to use up all the surplus mushrooms, so I need to also put on more stock so I can make soup with some of these winter squashes.

I also need to make the brussel sprout and beef stir fry before the brussel sprouts go off.

And I need to figure out something to do with the beautiful broccoli rabe before it starts to taste like nail varnish remover, like the last few bunches I bought did because I didn’t use them right away.

Anyone want to come over for random dinners at 10pm this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I bought and made so much food this weekend.

First, there was the farmers’ market out by my parents’, which I had to go to because I’d bought very promising looking butter there last weekend, but found it had gone off, when I tried it as soon as I got home. So I took it back in hopes of swapping for fresher butter, but they hadn’t made any this past week – so I swapped for two butternut squash, instead. And I bought a 4 pound sweet roasting squash on impulse.

And then I bought stuff for the Roman cooking workshop. And some broccoli rabe that looked gorgeous. And what’s a couple (or 7) beets for a buck?

So then I met up with my parents so we could try breakfast at an “authentic British pub”. And, yes, they had sourced the right kind of bacon and there was both black and white pudding. And beans from a can. But the eggs were standard tasteless American eggs and there was no grilled tomato… and the tea was only halfway in between the two countries’. I may sound a little down on it, but that’s less because of the quality of the food and more because the entire breakfast run had only one waitress, so the food wasn’t quite as hot as it could have been.

And then my parents wanted to go to a large, indoor farmers’ market. And there was a gorgeous, large, pristine, beautiful head of cauliflower. Locally picked. And some huge white mushrooms picked locally the day before. And we split 3 dozen eggs (I only took one of them) from happy, pasture raised chickens (with flavor!).

And then… just to tempt me further, they wanted to stop and show me their new fancy supermarket, which was very much like a small, off-brand whole foods. I bought an environment-friendly dish soap so that I can finally declare the Dr. Bronner’s experiment a failure. And then I binged on comforting grains – two kinds of oatmeal and some barley. Also, for you doubters of the corporate benefits of social media – I totally impulse bought an unnecessary jar of salsa because I enjoy following the guy’s twitter feed.

Then I went home.

~*~

I had completely run out of frozen leftovers for lunch, so last week I had made some desperate bulk quantities of dinner food:

  • leftover pasta salad suddenly turned into dinners
  • mexican-ish rice with chicken and beans
  • macaroni with (homemade) pesto, chicken, and zucchini

You don’t want recipes for those, do you?

This week – There was the Roman Cooking workshop.

We made a pork loin roast boiled in salt water and bay leaves (now I’ve heard of brining, but there was no mention of roasting this meat or any cooking method other than boiling. So I left it in until it started to shred, but I pulled it out then because it was already quite salty. It makes an okay sandwich with mayonnaise (almost tasting like canned chicken). But this morning I started a pot of red beans on the stove, and I used the pork with no additional salt for the beans.

And then we make the barley stew with pork – it turned out almost like risotto, and despite only having two people come to the workshop, there were no leftovers. I might need to make it again soon.

The mushrooms were very tasty (as almost always) and made a great companion to the barley.

Because it wasn’t entirely clear whether the cabbage was to be made with fresh cilantro or dried coriander seeds, I did each half differently – there was a preference for the coriander, but neither one was really exciting, and I do have a lot of leftovers for those. I’ll need to think of a way to repurpose it into something that will freeze.

The fried carrots in wine and fish sauce smelled like ass – fishy ass – while cooking, but ended up tasty enough that I didn’t get to try the finish product.

And then I was pretty much done, especially with only having two people over. SO I handed over the book, and let them select the last recipe. And sweet egg cakes were chosen. Well, it was 4 eggs to 1/2 a pint of milk (with an ounce of oil) to be cooked in a shallow pan (I don’t have the recipe in front of me for the specifics, but it was distinctly not supposed to be custard because that was the recipe above). Because the mixture was so thin and I happened to have a brand new nonstick skillet, I suggested that we could pour many thin layers and treat them as crepes. While not a single one was removed as a flat sheet, we kind of had to bundle it together into a central pile to move it successfully. Oh, and then it’s dressed with honey and black pepper before serving – and it is some tasty! Well chosen!

~*~

And then after they left on Sunday, I made two more dinners that I could pack up for lunches:

  • >Smitten Kitchen’s pasta with Cauliflower, walnuts, and feta – for which I did substitute regular pasta for whole wheat because I have boxes sitting around that I’m using up before I buy more pasta – and I’m not 100% sure that either the walnuts or the feta will take well to freezing, but the recipe was too tempting to pass up. I did taste a small portion that was didn’t fit evenly into the containers, and it was amazing fresh. I’d almost forgotten the few drops of lemon juice and vinegar (apple cider), but they really brought the flavors together.
  • gobhi bharta – inspired by the recipe in my favorite Indian cookbook, but then I took a left turn with the seasonings when I saw an opportunity to use up more of my mother’s extraneous Penzey’s spice mixes – so I used Rogan Josh seasoning, with sumac instead or pomegranate powder for tartness, and some extra hot pepper. The recipe also called for mustard seeds, so I toasted them in a little bit of my mustard oil I keep meaning to experiment with more. For all of that, it still wasn’t particularly strongly flavored, and it might have been a mistake to put up with rice, but I’d started making it when I started cooking, and I didn’t want to have to think up another use for it.

And then this morning I made one more: pasta with stuff

First, I cooked down a diced purple onion, 2 large mushrooms having been diced, and a bunch of (homemade) turkey meatballs I have in my freezer. Once everything was softer and the meatballs were browner, I splashed some sweet red wine in the pan.

As soon as the pan was dry again, I added 2 small-medium zucchini and some cauliflower (all diced small). Cook cook cook. As soon as it started to soften, I poured in 1/3 cup pasta sauce from a jar. Stir, cook, cook. And then I added macaroni (the pasta box in front, not my first choice of shape) and another 1/3 cup of sauce. And then I took it up into containers. Would be good with cheese.

Oh, and I also did laundry this morning.

And then I pondered whether I wanted to make another set of lunches or whether I wanted to start turning over dirt for restructuring the flower bed out back. And I decided to take a nap, instead.

Now I want soup, and tea, and hot chocolate. And another nap.

I think I’m going to use the remaining stock to make risotto to use up all the surplus mushrooms, so I need to also put on more stock so I can make soup with some of these winter squashes.

I also need to make the brussel sprout and beef stir fry before the bussel sprouts go off.

And I need to figure out something to do with the beautiful broccoli rabe before it starts to taste like nail varnish remover, like the last few bunches I bought did because I didn’t use them right away.

Anyone want to come over for random dinners at 10pm this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Okay, so here’s a tentative list of dishes I could make for the Roman Cooking Workshop I’m hosting on October 25.

All recipes are from the Flower and Rosenbaum translation of Apicius.

liber VIII Tetrapus; I in apro; 2 aliter in apro
Boar, another method

boil the boar in sea-water* with sprigs of laurel until it is tender. Take off the skin. Serve with salt, mustard, and vinegar.

*Cato (De Agricultura, 106) gives
directions for the treatment of sea-water: “Take 6 gallons of sea-water from the deep sea, where no fresh-water comes in. Pound 1.5 lb of salt, put it in, and stir with a stick until a boiled hen’s egg will float on it, then stop mixing. Add 12 pints old wine,

So I’ve made carnitas, but I’ve never brined a pork roast. I have had great success with using pork loins in carnitas even though they have less fat than the recommended recipe. But, if I’m going to cook off most of the water for maximum flavor and shred-ability, I probably want to cut back on the salt and just make a mild saline solution to put the bay leaves in. Since I already have a pork loin in my freezer, this recipe will definitely be made.

liber VII Polyteles; xv fungi farnei vel boleti; 6 boletos aliter
Mushrooms, another method

Chop the stalks, place in a new shallow pan, having added pepper, lovage, and a little honey. Blend with liquamen, add a little oil. [Cook.]

For those just turning in, liquamen is a salty fermented fish sauce.

I’d need to buy mushrooms, and since I have nothing planned for the caps, we might as well make this out of whole mushrooms.

liber IV Pandecter; iii minutal de piscibus vel isiis; 6. minutal ex praecoques
fricasse with apricots

Put in the saucepan oil, liquamen, wine, chop in dry shallot, add diced shoulder of pork cooked previously. When all this is cooked pound pepper, cumin, dried mint, and dill, moisten with honey, liquamen, passum, a little vinegar, and some of the cooking-liquor; mix well. Add the stoned apricots. Bring to the boil, and let it boil until done. Crumble pastry to bind. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

I’d use dried apricots, but all of the wet cooking should do well by them. And I just happen to have diced shoulder of pork cooked previously already sitting in my freezer. I’ll have to see if there is any mint left growing. I do not think I have dill.

liber IV Pandecter; ii patinae piscium holerum pomorum; 37. patina de cydoneis
patina of quinces

stew quinces with leeks in honey, liquamen, oil, and defrutum and serve; or boil with [just a little water and then very slowly in] honey.

If I can find quinces at the farmers’ market this weekend, I am totally trying this.

liber IV Pandecter; ii patinae piscium holerum pomorum; 2. aliter patina versatilis
translated as turnover. *sceptical face*

toast pine kernels and chopped nuts, pound with honey, pepper, liquamen, milk, and eggs. [cook in] a little oil

I have a lot of pine nuts in my freezer. And I have pecans and almonds (and maybe some walnuts). I’d have to buy milk.

liber III Cepuros; XXI Caroetae seu Pastinacae; 1. Caroetae frectae and 2. Aliter caroetas
Fried carrots and Another method

fried carrots – serve with a mixture of wine and liquamen
another method – [serve raw?] with salt, pure oil, and vinegar

I’d need to buy fresh carrots, and since none of the recipes in the section mentioned pasnips specifically, I could probably use a mixture of the two for the cooked one. For the second one, I’m thinking of shredding the raw carrots.

liber III Cepuros; ix cymas et cauliculos; 2. aliter
Another method

Boil and halve the cabbages, mince the tender parts of the leaves with coriander, onion, cumin, pepper, passum or caroenum, and a little oil

Since you are boiling it whole, I’m thinking more like blanching would be best.

Tags: , , , , , ,

28
Oct

More miscellany – betrayed by greens

   Posted by: Livia    in dubious, Food, non-vegetarian, Recipe

What happens when broccoli rabe goes off
Broccoli rabe, rapini, whatever you want to call it – it’s pretty tasty. And I picked up a bunch the last time I was at the farmers’ market.

So I’ve had broccoli rabe go off once before, and you could tell because the stems got hollow and squishy.

Well, this one was pushing its lifespan, so I checked that and it was fine… possibly because these had been well trimmed by the woman selling them. I also smelled them because I remembered that there had been a cleaning solution kind of smell to the leaves, and I did not detect anything off.

So I went ahead with preparing a delicious meal.

First, I browned a slice of bacon until is was very crispy.

In a pot of water, I boiled a link of turkey sausage I pulled out of the freezer.

When the sausage was cooked through, I pulled it out of the water and pulled off the casing as soon as it was cool enough to handle. Then I sliced the sausage into 1/2″ thick rounds, and put it in the bacon fat to brown.

I also added an onion (cut in half and then sliced), some sliced garlic, and two jalepeno peppers (cut off the seeds and then sliced). Oh, and some sliced bell pepper, too.

Then into the pot of water, I dumped 2 ounces of rotini pasta and brought it back to a boil.

About 3 minutes before the pasta would be ready, I added the stems from the roughly cut up broccoli rabe.

About 1 minute before the pasta would be ready, I added the leaves and buds.

Splash some of the pasta water over the leaves to help them wilt and to add a little more liquid to the dish.

Drain the pasta and then dump the noodles in with the sausage and veggies.

I cut up and added some fresh herbs: fennel sprig and basil (and there might have been a leaf of sage or two)

I put up one portion for freezing, and I poured the rest into a bowl and sprinkled with cheddar from the farmers’ market.

And then two bites in, I got this overwhelming taste of ammonia. URGH!

This would have been a great dish, if the broccoli rabe hadn’t gone off.

Let this be a lesson: eat your greens, and eat them promptly!

I least I had already nibbled on the bacon while making the dish.

~*~

So there’s pretty much 1 recipe for green tomatoes (fried, fried with cheese and tomato sauce, fried in pie, totally fried), but there are a ton of recipes for tomatillos. And, to me, they taste pretty similar.

Can you think of any reason why I shouldn’t try tomatillo recipes with my green tomatoes?

Tags: , , , , ,

One of the food blogs I have read in the last month, has been raving about recipes from various cookbooks written by Georgeanne Brennan. So I checked my library and its newly massive cookbook collection, and I had a look at the two they have.

Down to Earth – her exploration of root vegetables. Instead of trying to be comprehensive, she instead offers a few recipes each for potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, jicama, lotus root, carrots, radishes, salsify, celery root, horseradish, turnips, leeks, sweet potatoes, and onions. And so if you are going, “OOoooo… I wonder which recipe she chose to highlight onions instead of just counting them as an ingredient as everything… maybe something with really sexy caramelization,” you’d be wrong (and you’d be looking for Smitten Kitchen, instead) – onions just sometimes show up in a lot of recipes, as they do, not really highlighted. I think, I ended up returning the book after looking through it for an hour. It didn’t even make it home. Because while it had a really lovely section talking about the ingredients, the food wasn’t anything I couldn’t figure out on my own. Jicama – apparently, no, there’s no way to cook it or give it flavor, just cut it into little strips and pretend you like the crunch while it bulks out your salad. Horseradish – did you know you could add it to sauces for meat? You get the idea. So by all means, you should grab someone else’s copy and look through the first chapter, but not so much spending money on your own copy.

Great Greens – Suffers from pretty much the exact same problem, but I can talk about it more since this one made it home with me, and I even bookmarked three recipes that might be interesting (Bacon-wrapped cabbage rolls with blue cheese and walnuts, Taco salad with cabbage and red snapper, and Shepherd’s pie with three greens). Actually, you know what? I was going to pan this one just as much as the other one, but then I went to the farmers’ market today – and there was a woman with greens I’d never seen before but recognized from this particular cookbook, so I bought them and have reached for the cookbook to give me ideas. So this one is not a total wash.

So her glossary of greens includes: arugula, bok choi (only one variety, I think), cabbage (many varieties), chard, chicories (belgian endive, radicchio, curly endive/frisee (which I hate with a passion, and she apparently loves with a similar passion), and escarole), kale (oddly, only the lacinato variety, instead of the kind I see cheap and plentiful at the stores), lettuces (crispheads, butterhead, iceberg, looseleaf, romaine), mâche, mesclun (separate from the lettuces), spinach, and watercress. With this variety, you’d think there’d be some pretty exciting recipes, yes? Well, I listed three for you. And that’s about it for me. I mean, there’s a lovely roast chicken with cornbread recipe, served with a garnish (kid you not! Just a garnish) of mâche. There’s some pretty standard soups you’d see anywhere. Salads… with lettuces. Starters such as: make a nifty dip and then serve it on individual leaves. And healthy side dishes like: gratin of belgian endive with pancetta or savoy cabbage gratin or creamed spinach gratin (isn’t that a little redundant?).

So, yeah, it’s not a keeper, but it’s worth a slightly longer term borrow.

~*~

Meanwhile, today for lunch I made fried rice. For some reason, it is ingrained into my psyche that fried rice must contain peas.

Well, about a year ago, I found a great sale on canned vegetables and I only really trusted two kinds: peas and corn. So I bought 5 cans of each. I have been very happy with having cans of corn on hand to dump randomly into soups – I only have one left. However, I have 3.75 cans of peas left.

The only recipe I have for canned peas is from Meghan:

Make some bacon. With the bacon grease, make a béchamel sauce. Dump in peas. Maybe half a teaspoon of brown mustard. If there are any pieces of the bacon still uneaten, crumble them on top. If you were being really fancy, there could be another pot getting dirty making some pasta to go with that, but we aren’t that fancy.

But for every other purpose, I have learned that I much prefer frozen peas.

I mean, sure, there are fresh peas, but I have only seen them in the early spring at the farmers’ market in Baltimore where you have to wake up early in order to fight your way to the head of the line before the peas run out.

So in conclusion, I think I can reconcile myself to losing $1.50 to donate the remaining three cans to some Thanksgiving food drive and then let myself buy some proper frozen food.

Tags: ,