Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trader Joe's to the Weeknight Rescue!

I have made the most delicious, quick and easy, though somewhat unusual dinner. I'm calling it Pork and Beans Pasta. I used leftover pork roast that I had cooked in my magic pot, two pints of homemade marinara made with my own garden tomatoes and herbs, and two cans of Trader Joe's Giant Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce. Then I served this hearty, savory sauce over Trader Joe's Organic Red Lentil Sedanini (like a small penne). So tasty, and so packed with protein and legume-y goodness!

 Image may contain: food
Image may contain: food
Image may contain: food
Image may contain: food

Monday, February 13, 2017

Snowed-In Din-Din

We're experiencing the first Snowpocalypse of the year, and I wanted to make a good Sunday supper last night, but without having to leave the house in a blizzard. I had a pork roast that I had in the back fridge and needed to cook. So I sprinkled it liberally with seasoned salt, browned it on all sides in a skillet, then threw it in the Instant Pot with a bottle of beer, a sliced onion, some garlic cloves, a few glugs of Worcestershire sauce, a good squirt of sriracha, and a bay leaf. I cooked it on the meat setting for 75 minutes and let it release naturally.

Then I found a box of cornbread mix in the pantry, so I zhooshed that up with some caramelized onions and creamy goat cheese. After I took this picture, I added a sidecar of my homemade Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut.
Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut 
(Source: Adapted from Nourished Kitchen)

3 1/2 pounds red cabbage, shredded
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
4 medium jalapeno peppers, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt

Toss the cabbage, garlic, jalapenos and salt into a large mixing bowl. Knead the vegetables together by hand for five minutes until they begin to release their juices. Allow the shredded vegetables to rest a further five minutes, then return for five more minutes of kneading.

Layer the salted vegetables into a quart-sized fermentation jar or crock (find a crock online), and pack tightly until the brine created by the vegetable juice and salt completely submerges the shredded cabbage and peppers. Weigh down the vegetables with a glass weight sterilized stone or other heavy item small enough to fit within your crock, close and ferment at room temperature.

Taste after about three weeks and continue to ferment if the sauerkraut hasn't achieved the level of tartness you prefer. Transfer to cold storage when sour enough for your liking.

Cornbread with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 15 oz. box cornbread mix (or 2 boxes of Jiffy)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chevre (goat cheese), broken up into large crumbles

To a large skillet over medium-low heat, add two tablespoons of the olive oil and the onions, and cook, stirring frequently until dark golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool to warm (not hot).

In an 8x8 baking dish or deep dish pie plate, add the other two tablespoons of olive oil, swirl it around, and put the dish in the oven to preheat to 375 F. Meanwhile, whisk the cornbread mix with the buttermilk, eggs, Parmesan, and black pepper. Stir in about 2/3 of the caramelized onions.

When the oven comes to temperature, remove the heated baking dish and pour in the cornbread batter. Poke the goat cheese crumbles here and there down into the batter. Top with the remaining caramelized onions. Bake for about 35 minutes until a tester comes out clean in the middle.

The college where I teach was closed today because of the snow, and I had some more time for home cooking, I decided to make some zesty succotash to accompany my leftover pork and cornbread.

Corn and Lima Bean Succotash

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
1 cup chopped roasted red and yellow peppers
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 16 oz. bag frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1 16 oz. bag frozen sweet corn
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
few shakes of hot sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion, peppers, garlic, and lima beans for a few minutes until the onion is tender. Add the corn, Creole seasoning, black pepper, hot sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chicken broth. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the broth has almost entirely evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh parsley.

The last thing I cobbled together on my snow day (again, I was not interested in leaving the house!) was a Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Nut Bundt Cake with Bittersweet Ganache Glaze from a box of yellow cake mix. For a "cheater" cake, it turned out pretty darn good, I think!
Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Bundt Cake with Bittersweet Ganache Glaze

1 (15.25-oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix (without pudding added)
1 cup plain yogurt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 (3.4-oz.) pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup macadamia nut pieces

Ganache Glaze:
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine cake mix, yogurt, eggs, vanilla bean paste, pudding mix, oil, and water in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium, and beat until light and fluffy, two to three minutes. Gently fold in semi-sweet chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.

Pour mixture into a lightly greased and floured Bundt cake pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Remove cake from oven, and cool in pan for about ten minutes. Transfer cake from pan to wire rack; cool completely, about one hour.

Microwave the bittersweet chips and the cream in a large bowl for one minute, then whisk until smooth. (Microwave an additional 30 seconds if needed.) Whisk in the butter until smooth. Pour the glaze completely over the cake. Let the ganache set before slicing and serving.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Always Save the Instant Pot Broth...and Make Soup!

I woke up an hour early yesterday for no reason, so what's a gal to do but get up and head to the kitchen to make some soup in her magic pot? I had some reserved black bean liquor from making refried black beans recently, and I bought some spicy sausage that was an in-house special at a local grocery store. I added some sweet potatoes and other tasty things, and ended up with this soup. And it's gluten-free and fairly low-carb--well, it has the good carbs, anyway--if such things are important to you. (I shared the leftovers at work today, because I'm nice like that.)

Spicy Sausage, Black Bean, and Sweet Potato Soup

1 lb. spicy sausage (chorizo or Italian)
1 large onion, diced
1 large Cubanelle or Italian frying pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 quart black bean liquor* (or chicken or vegetable stock)
4 cans black beans, drained and two cans mashed by hand

Saute the sausage in the IP with the onion, pepper, and garlic until meat is no longer pink. Add the sweet potatoes, oregano, and black bean liquor or stock. Cook on manual for four minutes. Do an instant release, then add the black beans, and additional stock to thin if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*My black bean liquor (reserved liquid in which a previous batch of beans were cooked) was already very well-seasoned, but if you're using regular broth or stock, you may wish to add other/more seasonings such as paprika, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper, to taste.

For the beans, I rinsed a pound of dry black beans and let them soak while I got started on the other ingredients. In 1/4 cup olive oil in the IP, I sauteed a large onion, four large cloves of minced garlic, and 4 whole canned green chilis that I chopped (I was looking for a chipotle in the freezer when I found the milder green chilis, so I used those). To the sauteed veggies, I added two teaspoons of dried oregano, a teaspoon of chopped dried rosemary, a half teaspoon of black pepper, and a teaspoon each of chili powder, cumin, and ground celery, and a good pinch of cayene. I put in the drained beans and a quart of vegetable stock, stirred everything, then cooked on chili/bean mode for 35 minutes. I let it release naturally, drained and reserved the liquid, mashed the beans by hand with a potato masher, adding some of the bean liquor back in until I reached a desired consistency, then seasoned to taste with a favorite cilantro seasoning salt blend.

Monday, February 06, 2017

A Taste of Stockholm's Funky Food Truck Culture

When my friends picked me up from the airport in Stockholm this past summer, the first place that they insisted upon taking me was to the food trucks that set up on the weekends along the river in Södermalm (which means "South Island" and is not at all unlike hipster Brooklyn, NYC).
You have a wealth of cuisines from which to choose, it's very inexpensive, and then you sit on these bleachers in the sunshine while you dine. It's all quite a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon!
Beyond the food trucks, there's also an eclectic flea market that you can browse your way through after lunch.
Though my friend, Jen, decided on Greek fare, her husband, Mats and I opted for--ironically--"New York Style" Chicken and Rice from a fabulous truck (complete with operational disco ball!) calling itself the Funky Chicken.
The dish was comprised of yellow rice, grilled chicken marinated with Mediterranean flavors, a refreshing yogurt sauce, and a spicy harissa hot sauce, garnished with flat-leaf parsley, and served with a side of "sallad" (cole slaw) and a piece of crusty bread.
The chicken and rice was so delicious, and it reminded me very much of the halal chicken that you get from food carts in New York City. (Funny that I traveled all the way to Sweden to enjoy New York cuisine!)
Since my visit, I have reflected fondly and often on that dish, so much so that I had no choice but to try and copycat it--or something close to it--at home. And here was my recreation! Pretty close in both looks and taste, I'd say! I need to make some minor tweaks, but I was pretty proud of my first attempt.
Before I get into the recipes, I have to share a funny epilogue to my Stockholm food truck tale. The following weekend, we returned to the food trucks on Södermalm, and despite all of the wonderful choices of things to eat, I found myself back at the Funky Chicken, this time to try their "award-winning" triple cheeseburger. But as is my way, I had to put it together in a way that even the chef didn't know how good it could be.

Actually, I made them quite angry by asking if they'd put some of the harissa sauce, yogurt sauce, and slaw on my burger. They balked at this request, but with some persuasion on my part, the cook finally agreed to give me the condiments on the side. But the guy told me that I would DESTROY the burger if I put that stuff on it. (That's a direct quote.) What he failed to realize is that they could be making money hand over fist if he sold the Mediterranean Burger that I designed! It was frickin' DELICIOUS! They didn't understand who they were dealing with! I KNOW THINGS!

Instant Pot Yellow Rice
(Source: Adapted from Budget Bytes)

2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups uncooked long grain jasmine rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf

Add the butter, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon and rinsed rice to the IP. Sauté over medium heat for a couple of minutes, or just until the garlic has softened. Add the chicken broth and bay leaf to the pot. Put the lid on and cook for four minutes on manual. Let release naturally, then fluff with a fork.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken and Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce
(Source: Adapted from The Mediterranean Dish)

For the Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce:
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, stems removed
1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt, to taste

Combine the minced garlic, fresh dill, yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and whisk together. Season with salt. Transfer to a small container, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to use.

For the Grilled Chicken:
10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or substitute cinnamon)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium size red onion, sliced
1 large lemon

In a large bowl, mix together the minced garlic, yogurt, spices and olive oil. Toss in the whole chicken thighs and the sliced onion. Cut the lemon into eighths, squeeze the juice into the bowl, and also add the rinds in. Mix everything together making sure to thoroughly coat the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight.

When ready, heat a gas grill to medium-high. Place the chicken thighs on the grill. Cover for 5-6 minutes, then turn the chicken over and grill for another 5-6 minutes covered. (You can also use a grill pan or pan-fry them in a skillet if weather does not permit outdoor grilling.)

Harissa Tomato Sauce
(Source: Adapted from Abel and Cole)

2 garlic cloves
1/2 onion
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
harissa, to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Finely grate zest from the lemon and juice it.
2. Warm the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and onion. Stir and cook for one minute until the pan smells sweet and spicy.
3. Add harissa, lemon zest, sugar, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down. Cover with a lid. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is a little thicker. Stir every so often while the sauce cooks.
5. Remove the bay leaf, and use a stick blender to puree the sauce until smooth.
6. Add the lemon juice to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Swedish Cabbage Sallad
(Source: Adapted from Key Ingredient)

1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cabbage, very finely shredded
1 carrot, shredded
5 teaspoons white wine vinegar
5 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano (optional)
1/2 teaspoon basil (optional)

Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage. Let sit for 15 minutes or so, then squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Stir in the cabbage and shredded carrot. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (It's better the next day!)

Note: This salad is somewhat different than the one I had at the Funky Chicken, and that was intentional. This recipe is for what the Swedes call "pizza salad," which as the name suggests, is apparently served with pizza in Sweden.