Lemon Leek Pork and Not So Sweet 16

Milestones are supposed to be fun and celebrated.  Our daughter turned 16 this past weekend and there were a few fun things planned.  Unfortunately the plague is still upon this household!  Poor thing woke up on her birthday with the stomach bug.  Day canceled!  Of all days.  We’ll have to do a proper celebration when we have them back again.

That is if it doesn’t keep going round this house.  I had it last week and now my poor husband is knocked down with it.  The puppies are keeping him company, too bad their licking isn’t the cure!

With all the germs, not a lot of cooking is going on so creating new dishes has been put on the back burner.

I did make this dish a few weeks ago on one of my few days off when I had some boneless pork ribs and leeks on hand.

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For this dish, I sliced the pork ribs lengthwise and browned them in butter in a large skillet.

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Once both sides have been browned remove the pork and cook off in the oven at 350F/175C to cook off.  Just make sure you don’t overcook the pork.  Chop about a cup and a half of oyster mushrooms (12oz) and saute them in the butter.  Cook until they start to brown.  As they brown add a few cloves of garlic that are finely chopped.

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Slice about half a cup/4oz of leeks and add to the skillet.  As that cooks add about two tablespoons of lemon juice.

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Next add 8-12 oz of cream and about 1/2 a cup/4oz of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Toss in cooked spaghetti and serve with the pork.

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It goes without saying this would be great with a nice white wine and some garlic bread.

Fingers crossed we can all get germ free and take our daughter out to celebrate.  🙂

Mushroom Tarragon Pork Pasta

I’ve lost count on how many days I’ve been saying I need to do a blog post!  It’s been the typical craziness with the holidays and all the prep that goes along with it.  We had a lovely Christmas with the kids.  It was our turn to have them for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning which I love.  We have Chinese food at night and sticky buns in the morning.  Other than that it was a very quiet day with my husband.

For one of the dinners before the holidays I wanted to make a nice comfort type of dinner to go along with the very cold nights we were having.  I am so ready for spring.  My MIL has been emailing me telling me how the grass is growing and how she is trying to keep up with weeding.  Harrumph!

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I had some boneless pork ribs and I decided to do a slow cooked dish with mushrooms and tarragon.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Season the pork with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides.

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While this is browning chop half a red onion and a few cloves of garlic.  Remove the pork and cover.  In the skillet saute the onion and garlic.

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Quarter several mushrooms until you have about a cup or 8 oz.  Add them to the skillet.  Chop a handful of fresh tarragon and add that as well.

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Saute for a few minutes then add half a cup/4oz of sherry or dry white wine.  Simmer for a couple of minutes then add the pork back in.  Next add 3 cups/24oz of vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.  It was at this point I got a text from my boss wondering when I was coming in.  Erm, not working this week?  Turns out, yes I was.  Nuts.  Turned off the dish and dashed off to work the evening shift.  It also turns out to be a happy accident.  It allowed the flavours to really deepen.  The next day I slow cooked it for several hours which reduced the broth.

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Cook the pasta and add to the skillet just before you are ready to eat.  My husband made a delicious quick bread to go along with this dish.

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Top with a dollop of sour cream and serve.  If you want this to be more like a soup don’t reduce the broth so much.

Happy New Year’s everyone, I hope it is a safe and enjoyable evening.

 

Definitely Time for Comfort Food

A week ago I was filled with such anticipation of being on the cusp of history.  Since then I’ve been in complete shock, along with a lot of the world.

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I wore my version of the pantsuit.  I don’t actually have one so a suit coat would have to do!  I also wore white and purple for the colours of the suffragettes.  I was excited!  But after the evening wore on I could see the writing on the wall.  Going to sleep that night I was hoping beyond hope that the numbers would be wrong. The first thing I saw in the morning was a message on my iPad from a friend in Scotland asking what the hell did this country do.

Clinton wasn’t great shakes but I am having trouble wrapping my head round the fact that so many people accepted the sexism, the racism, the ego, the inciting of violence, and outright lies of Trump.  It pains me that these weren’t deal breakers and in fact celebrated.  I don’t know what is in store in the next few years but I can’t say my normal optimism is in play.

It was also difficult talking about it with our kids.  Fortunately they are old enough to recognise what is right and what is wrong.  Let’s just say my daughter can’t wait to be old enough to vote!

In the meantime we have to get on with our lives.  Given we had another weekend of home improvement and how the week went, comfort food was definitely in order.

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Because we still have a ton of apples from apple picking I thought a pork hand pie with apple and sage would do the trick.

For the pastry I cut in 1/2 a cup of butter into 1 1/2 cups of flour and a 1/4 tsp of salt.  When the mixture is reduced to the texture of bread crumbs and they stick together, gradually add cold water until the dough comes together.  It doesn’t take much so add a bit at a time.  Cover and set aside until it’s time to fill the dough.

In a skillet heat up about two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add about 1/2 a cup of finely chopped onions and begin to cook.  Once the onion starts to become translucent add a pound of ground pork.  Finely chop 2 large cloves of garlic and mix in.

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When the pork is half cooked add a small handful of chopped fresh sage and a small handful of sliced fresh cranberry.  Then add a spoonful of mustard and about a 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

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Roll the dough out thinly and cut out circles.  I used a bowl for this.

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Fill one side of the dough with the filling.  I had filling leftover because I only needed one pie but that would be good for a later pasta dish!   Brush beaten egg round the edge of the pastry and fold the pastry in half.  Pinch with a fork round the edge and then put 3 small slashes in the top. Brush with the egg and bake at 425F/220C for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

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My husband made a fabulous dessert with apple and frangipane so it was a lovely meal.

Now that a week has passed I hope the grass roots efforts that are springing up to hold on to the progress we’ve made for equality and to make this place better continue.  It won’t be easy but we do have a voice.

Grilled Pork, Quinoa, and Eddie Izzard

Sometimes it’s good to be lucky.  I was scrolling through Facebook, as you do, and saw something about Eddie Izzard coming to New Hampshire.  I thought I wasn’t reading that right as why would someone who did Wembley do a small theatre?  But lo and behold, it was true!  And it was brilliant.

He has always done really funny stuff but he has definitely progressed into a much more thoughtful dialog while using history to illustrate his point.  In a hilarious way of course but he got his view across.  And he did Q & A afterwards.  It was a fabulous evening.  My favourite quote was “I believe in human beings”.  What a lovely sentiment.

I did find time to cook this weekend.  When I went food shopping I found some quinoa on sale (who doesn’t like a sale?) and bok choi.  I also found some pork ribs which would go great with homemade mustard.  I recently made some without the chili so it would go well with this dish.

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The quinoa itself is really easy to make, only takes about 15 minutes.  Make it according to the package.  Thinly spread mustard on both sides of the pork ribs.  You don’t want it too thick otherwise it can overwhelm the dish.  If you think it will you can always mix the mustard with some olive oil and white wine vinegar. Set the pork aside. In a skillet, heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and add a few mushrooms that have been chopped and a couple of garlic cloves that have been finely chopped.  Add some fresh thyme and season with sea salt and pepper.

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Once the mushrooms start browning add a quarter cup of dry sherry and half a cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer.

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Chop up the stems of the bok choi and add it to the skillet.  Add the quinoa.  Allow the stems to cook for a minute or so.  Then add the leaves.

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Top with the grilled pork and enjoy.  There were enough leftovers that I changed it up with bacon, sausage, and white wine.  Quinoa can be surprisingly versatile.

Peach Bourbon Grilled Pork

I’ve been trying this week to figure out video editing and the open source software.  No success yet. I’m trying not to get frustrated but it drives me batty when my love of technology runs into the wall of not knowing how to make it work for me.  So it may be awhile before I get this up and running.  Annoying since I have a few ideas and I can see it in my head.  Just need to get it through the keyboard onto the screen.

Peaches are in season and they have been showing up at the co-op, yay!  And they had pork on sale. I know, I know, meat on sale?  Can’t be a good idea.  Usually I would agree but I’ve had success with the sales at the co-op.

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In a small bowl mix up a dry rub.  I used a tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper,  1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon of ground cumin and dried cilantro, and sea salt and pepper.

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Mix well and rub on both sides of the pork.  Set aside to “marinade”.  For the peach bourbon sauce chop up an onion to make about 1/2 a cup and finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and start cooking the onion and garlic.

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Peel and dice one peach.  Add to the skillet. Simmer until the peach starts to soften.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of bourbon.  I used Gentleman Jack but use whatever one you enjoy.  Then add brown sugar.  I started with a tablespoon but added more as it cooked to balance it with the bourbon.  I also seasoned it with a teaspoon of cayenne, sea salt, and pepper.

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Continue to simmer until the peaches soften and the sauce reduces a bit.  Grill the pork and a peach cut in half.

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I could do without the stifling heat of summer but boy do I love the flavours.

White Wine and Sage for Pork

It was a fantastic weekend.  It just felt really productive and it was fun to hang out with the kids after our holiday.  The meds for the fibro have started to work so I feel like I’m on a roll now.  And gathering steam!

The weather was perfect and no forecast of frost so it was time to clear out the house of the multitude of seedlings we have growing.  It can be hard to time when to start them because we have no idea when the danger of frost has past.  It can be the beginning of April or the end of May.  We got most of it planted and we’re just left with the tomatoes.  I was playing it safe in case the weather people were wrong.  Which never happens.  Ahem.

I was also in crazy baking mode.  I found some burratta at the shops and wanted to do an Italian night with the kids so I made ciabatta and chopped up fresh tomatoes to go with the burratta as a starter.  I also made brioche and shortbread which I’ll be posting about soon.

I flipped through the cookery book that I have by Marcella Hazan and she had a recipe with white wine and sage for pork ribs.  I used it as an inspiration though the only two ingredients I used was the white wine and the sage.  I had a pork loin to cook for this.

White wine sage pork 1 2016

We have discovered that my son, who hates mushrooms, is ok with oyster mushrooms.  So we found some nice fresh mushrooms to pair with the fresh sage.   I chopped enough mushrooms to make up a cups’ worth.  I also finely chopped 3-4 cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh sage.

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the pork with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides.

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Finish it off in the oven at 350F/175C.   In the skillet add a bit more olive oil and the mushrooms.  Saute for a few minutes then add the garlic.

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Once the mushrooms have browned a bit add 3/4 cup of dry white wine and 1/2 a cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and add the sage.  After the sauce has reduced by a third season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

I also made a mash with potato and parsnip.  To dish up add the mash and topped with sliced pork and the sauce.

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I felt the sage was a strong flavour so I would back off the sage a bit for myself but my family all thought different.  Funny how taste buds work!

Red Wine Chorizo

The first flurry of the holidays, Thanksgiving, is past and we’re into the flurry of activity getting ready for Christmas.  Our son was all excited once the meal of Thanksgiving was over because that meant the Christmas songs could start playing!  I swear that kid would play those songs year round, crazy kid.  Egg nog is pretty much the only thing that we do Christmas wise before December.  Well, that and the cards.

I normally use Shutterfly for the cards and family photo books.  This is the last year I’ll do that for the cards. Couldn’t use that site for the book because they took away a lot of features I like to use.  So I am trying to learn Blurb.  A big feature I like is to use my photos as a faded background.  Blurb doesn’t do that either but I can fade them using GIMP.  Just a bit of jumping through hoops to get the book done.  So that is getting pushed out to the New Year.  But I hear Blurb is good for creating books like cookery books so I figure now is a good a time as any to learn.  I am curious which software of Blurb to use so I’d be interested in feedback.

The recipe I’m showing here was done for my husband’s birthday to go along with the jerk chicken I made.  It came from a book my family found for me at the annual library sale.  It is called Tapas by Susanna Tee.  I found an easy recipe for chorizo simmered in red wine.  Something easily eaten at a party.

I would recommend finding good quality chorizo.  We found average chorizo and it didn’t absorb the wine during the marinating stage as well as it should have.  No worries, it came out in the end.

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To start, always pick a good wine.  Never use cooking wine or plonk.  If it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with!

In a saucepan, bring to a boil about a cup of the red wine.  Then cover and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl big enough for the sausages.  Prick the sausages and marinate overnight.

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When you are ready to cook these, slice the chorizo into pieces.  Add them to a skillet.  Warm a couple of tablespoons of brandy then pour into the skillet.  And, this is the fun part, light it up!

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As fun as this is, be careful.  Not all flame is visible and you don’t want to get burned.  You can see in the picture the sausage didn’t really suck in the wine.  I suspect, better chorizo would do that.  Once the brandy has cooked off add the wine you used to marinate the sausages.  Simmer on medium heat until the wine has reduced quite a bit.

To serve, sprinkle freshly chopped parsley over the chorizo.

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This is a great dish for a tapas meal, party, or potluck.  And it is very easy to make which is always good.  🙂

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms and Cruel Cowardice

It’s hard not to be distressed by the capacity of some people to be heartless.  Don’t get me wrong there is a lot of good in this world.  People who have compassion and work hard to bring light to those that need it.  But there is a side of humanity that seems desperate to cause harm.  There is a endless list of horrors.  It gets overwhelming.

Such a representation of that this week was the senseless killing of Cecil.  In the scheme of things it’s a lion, there are much deeper issues of children in this world not safe, women not safe, people starving.  But it is indicative people lacking the basic compassion of living things.  It takes a special kind arrogance and cowardice to travel to the other side of the world, pay thousands, and then to bait an animal to give it a slow death.

I get the need for hunting in turns of population control.  Deer can face slow and painful death with overpopulation in winter.  And I get people hunting for food.  In our area there are a lot of families who need to put food on the table.  But to hunt so you can decorate your wall?  I find that disgusting.  I do hope the outrage keeps at its current level.  We need to stop the destroying of this earth’s gifts and resources.

This just really fired me up.  Thank you for letting me say my piece and I’ll get on with the usual program of food!

Due to the dietary needs of my various family members I always try to come up with ideas of tasty dishes that everyone can eat.  I thought repurposing a crostini into stuffed mushrooms would be fun.

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We learned how to make this bacon crostini in Tuscany on our honeymoon.  For this recipe I added onion to it.  I finely chopped a clove of garlic, half a small onion, and a bit of rosemary.  Then chop up half the mushroom stems.

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Chop up 3 rashers of streaky bacon and begin to render it in a small skillet.  After a few minutes add the onion.

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After the onion has softened a bit add the garlic, rosemary, and mushroom to the skillet.

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Keep cooking until the bacon starts to crisp a bit.  Add a few splashes of white balsamic vinegar.  Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 375F/190C.  Remove the bacon mixture from the heat and grate fresh parmesan over it and mix well.  Stuff the mushrooms and grate more parmesan over it.

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Bake until the mushrooms are cooked.  About 10 minutes or so.  While it is baking make up the salad if you are having this as a main meal.

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Of course I put more fresh parmesan on.  I can’t resist the stuff!  And it’s gluten free.  🙂

Grilled Pork Salad With An Asian Flair

I heard from my mum this morning and she wanted to know what I was feeding my kids as they are growing like weeds!  I wish I knew!  I know it can’t just be they have a tall dad.  I have one as well but I didn’t get very far with the height thing.  And I did eat my vegetables though for all the good it did me. 🙂

It is strange coming into the last bit of the school year.  Both kids are finishing up at each of their schools and getting ready to move up to the next school.  Which means a flurry of celebrations and year end events.  A lot of lasts.  My son’s school has a cookout for the whole school with activities outside.  They finish off with a water balloon toss with the oldest students and the teachers.  They absolutely love that bit!

A big change from when I was a kid though would be the new tradition of having a graduation for every level of school including preschool!  At least our son’s celebration is called a recognition instead of graduation.  It’s a bit much.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m insanely proud of our kids.  I love watching them grow and becoming fabulous people.  They are really coming into their own.

The other day I planned on grilling pork in an Asian marinade to put over salad.  Great plan until I realised we had run out of gas for the grill.  Plan B was grilling on the stove top.

In a bowl mix together the following:

4 tablespoons of peanut oil

3 tablespoons of oyster sauce

3 tablespoons of rice vinegar

1 tablespoon of lime juice

2 tablespoons of amino acid

3-4 finely chopped garlic

A couple of teaspoons of cilantro

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Marinate the pork for at least an hour.  Also, take some of the marinade and marinate a few mushrooms.  If you are lucky enough to have a working grill on hand, grill away until the pork is cooked.  Otherwise continue with plan b.

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While the pork is resting grill the mushrooms.

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Slice the pork and mushrooms and top your salad with them.  For a dressing I quickly mixed up a bit of peanut oil, rice vinegar, and lime juice.

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A great light meal for the hotter weather.  And we’ve since rectified the gas situation so no more plan b for the time being!

Chorizo Risotto and the Strange Priorities

I don’t like cheats.  I think those that cheat should face consequences.  But when the consequences are out of whack compared to other offences I have a problem with it.

A news story that lit up the internet this week had to do with the NFL and the Pats.  In a game at the beginning of the year there were some deflated balls.  The NFL couldn’t, to their satisfaction, get the quarterback to talk about it even though he wasn’t the one who deflated the balls.  So they suspended him for four games and took away the team’s first round draft pick.  People went nuts!  The reason?  In the past few years the NFL has been grossly underwhelming with their punishments over things like rape, domestic violence, etc.  But a ball is deflated and all hell breaks loose.

And that saddens me no end.  I keep hoping the world will move in the direction that my daughter doesn’t have to worry about these issues.  I do hope the increasing outrage over these priorities will usher in a world, eventually, that doesn’t consider women and girls as second class citizens and a woman being punched so hard she is knocked out and dragged out of the lift will prompt a more swift and complete investigation than the one that happened for balls deflated.

In the meantime we just keep moving along.

This week I had some chorizo from the co-op.  I actually like chorizo very much but I made the mistake of getting the ones they make at the co-op.  I keep trying but they are either dry or mealy.  I think I need another source!  Shame really.

This is for two so double it for a family of four.

As always do the prep before you start cooking for this dish.  I chopped up half a cup of onion, a few cloves of garlic, and a few mushrooms.  Grate about 3/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and prepare two cups of vegetable bouillon.  Make sure it is hot before you cook.

Chorizo risotto 1 2015

Heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and saute the onions until they are softened.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes.  While this is started begin to grill the sausages.  Don’t worry about cooking them all the way through as they will be finished off in the risotto but you do want to get a sear on the sausages.

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After the garlic and mushrooms have cooked for a couple of minutes add 1/2 cup of arborio rice to the skillet.  Stir for a minute or so then add 1/2 a cup of a dark ale.  I used our Irish Red for this.

Chirozo risotto 2 2015

Bring to a simmer and add 1/2 cup of the broth at a time allowing it to absorb before adding more.  When it is halfway cooked slice the sausage and add it to the skillet.  For this dish I added some frozen corn for a pop of colour.

Chirozo risotto 4 2015

When the last bit of the bouillon is added add the cheese to melt in.

Chirozo risotto 5 2015Once the risotto is al dente it is ready to serve.

Chirozo risotto 6 2015Grate cheddar cheese over the dish and serve.  It’s a shame the sausages weren’t up to snuff as the rest of it was quite enjoyable with the cheddar and ale.  I’ll have to try again with different brands.