Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kale Sauteed in Olive Oil with Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes & Red Wine Vinegar

A couple weeks ago, I had a small crop of Lacinato (aka "Tuscan") Kale growing in my veggie garden that was ready to harvest but I was conflicted on how to prep them in the kitchen. Salad, sautéed, or made into Kale chips? Hmmm...I asked Gil for his opinion but he was no help whatsoever because he declared that he, frankly and intransigently, HATED to eat kale (even though he's only probably tried it once in his lifetime). Thanks a lot, dude. Fortunately, my dilemma was solved when I happened upon a recipe in the New York Times for sautéed kale that seemed to fit the bill. The key is really to strip the leafy green part from the tough central stem of each leaf so that the cooked greens come out nice and tender. So, here's my adaptation of that recipe which Gil grudgingly tasted and admitted was "pretty more than ok."

1 large bunch kale, rinsed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup water
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1. Heat 3-4 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or saute pan. Add the minced garlic and toss briefly until just softened (do not brown). 

2. Add the chopped kale to the pan. Toss to coat the leaves with the olive oil. Add the water (1/2 cup at first, then more if the water evaporates too quickly). Stir, then cover the pan and let the kale cook for 7-10 minutes until wilted but still green. 

3. Remove cover and season the kale with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and the red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

4. Remove from heat and serve as is or as a side dish to a meat or fish entree. 

 Lacinato/Tuscan Kale growing in one of our raised beds.

 Leaves are rinsed and ready to be stemmed.

 Coarsely chopped kale leaves and minced garlic.

 Minced garlic is sautéed in the olive oil over medium high heat until just soft.

 Add the kale, toss well, and then add the water (1/2 to 1 cup, as needed).

 Cover and cook 7-10 minutes or until the kale is wilted but still bright green.

 Remove cover and season with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar.

 Serve as is or...

as a side (in this case, with pan-fried blackened salmon filets).

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Shredded Pork with Sweet Bean Sauce (Jing Jiang Rou Si)

This traditional dish from Beijing consists of shredded pork marinated in soy, rice wine, sugar and cornstarch which is then sauteed in a sauce of sweet bean paste, sesame oil, and rice wine, then poured over a bed of thinly sliced scallion before serving. Great served with steamed white rice or wrapped in a "bing" (Chinese wheat flour pancake).

1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork chop, country rib meat, or shoulder, cut into shreds


2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. rice wine
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. soy sauce

5-6 scallions, thinly sliced along the bias


2 tbsp. sweet bean paste (Tian Mian Jiang)
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. rice wine
3 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. sugar

2 cups vegetable oil

1. Place the shredded pork in a bowl and combine with the marinade ingredients. Let sit for 30 minutes. 

2. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a measuring cup or bowl. Set aside.

3. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Add the pork and stir with a slotted spoon for about 20-30 seconds until just cooked through. Remove the pork to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

4. Pour out all but 2-3 tbsp. of the oil in the pan. Add the sauce mixture, bring to a boil. Add the reserved pork back to the sauce and toss briefly to combine. 

5. Line a serving plate with the shredded scallion, then pour the pork mixture over. 

6. Serve with steamed white rice or as a filling for Chinese wheat flour pancakes (flour tortillas are a good substitute).

 These are boneless pork chops.

 Cut the pork into shreds or thin "matchsticks."

 Combine the pork with marinade ingredients and marinate for 30 minutes.

 For the sauce: sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine and sweet bean sauce or paste.

 Marinating pork, sauce mixture, and thinly shredded scallions.

 Blanch the pork in hot oil for 20-30 seconds. 

 Remove pork to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

 Remove all but 2-3 tbsp. of oil from the pan and add the sauce mixture. 

 Bring to a boil.

 Stir in the pork and toss to combine.

 Pour the pork onto a serving plate lined with thinly sliced scallions. Serve with steamed white rice or Chinese wheat flour pancakes.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Corned Beef and Cabbage (New England Boiled Dinner)

Corned Beef and Cabbage, a popular dish here in the U.S. on St. Patrick's Day, is not actually Irish but rather Irish-American in origin. New England Boiled Dinner, essentially the same dish, incorporates other veggies such as carrots, onions, potatoes, in addition to the cabbage. My fav veggies to use are cabbage, small (mini) Yukon or Klondike gold and/or red potatoes, carrots and several whole cloves of garlic. After experimenting with several methods of cooking this dish (slow cooker, braising in the oven, and just plain ol' boiling over the stove), I've found that the best way is low and slow (3 hours) in a Dutch oven or enameled cast iron pot on the cooktop. To reduce the sodium content of the broth so that you can actually drink it, I first cook the corned beef in water for 30 minutes, discard the water, then add fresh hot water to continue the cooking process. The beef comes out super tender and any leftovers can be used to make corned beef hash for breakfast the next day. Yum!

5 lbs. (use 2 pcs. if needed) corned beef with spice packets
6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 lbs. whole small Yukon gold, red, and/or purple potatoes
5 large or 10 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
1 head cabbage, cored and cut into wedges

Optional Condiments:

Mustard (I like stone ground or Country Dijon)
Prepared horseradish

1. Rinse the corned beef, pat dry, and place into a large Dutch oven or enameled cast iron pot. 

2. Add water to the pan until the beef is covered by 1" of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. 

3. Drain water from pot and refill with fresh hot water until 1" over the meat. Add the garlic and spice packets. Bring back up to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 3 hours or until the meat is very tender.

4. Add the potatoes and carrots and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes. Add the cabbage wedges and cook another 10 minutes or until all the veggies are just tender. 

5. Remove the corned beef to a chopping board and cut just enough slices to serve (put the remaining brisket back into the broth to keep warm. Plate and serve in individual serving bowls or plates along with veggies and a ladle of broth. 

6. Serve with your fav mustard and/or prepared horseradish on the side. 

 Point Cut brisket is a bit more expensive than the flat cut, but I personally prefer the flat cut.

 This is the flat cut.

 Simmer the corned beef for 30 minutes.

 Drain the water.

 Add fresh hot water to the pot, to cover 1" over the corned beef. 
 Add the garlic and spice packets. Bring up to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 hours.

Our Albertson's market carries these mini Klondike potatoes (gold and madly of gold, red and purple potatoes) which are great for this recipe. If you can't find these, just use your fav combo of small potatoes.

After 3 hours of cooking, add the potatoes and diced carrots. Cook for 10-15 minutes.

Add the cabbage wedges and continue cooking another 10 minutes or until the veggies are just tender.

Slice the beef and plate. Serve with veggies and a ladle of the broth, if desired. Serve with mustard and/or prepared mustard on the side. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce

Well, how can you not like this dish? So simple, so delicious. Another adaptation I made of a recipe from Kenji Lopez-Alt's fantabulous compendium The Food Lab.

6 pieces of thin-cut chicken breasts (or 3 chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise and lightly pounded)
Kosher salt & black pepper
1 large shallot, finely minced
1 cup flour, for dredging
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 tbsp. capers, rinsed
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp. minced fresh Italian parsley

1. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breast pieces on both sides. 

2. In a large saute pan, add 3 tbsp. of vegetable oil and heat over high heat. 

3. Dredge the chicken in the flour and add half (3 pieces) to the pan so as not to overcrowd. Saute for about 2 minutes to brown on one side, then turn over and continue cooking another 1-2 minutes until the other side is also nicely browned. Remove to a platter and set aside.

4. Cook the remaining 3 pieces of chicken the same way and set aside.

5. In the same pan, add the minced shallot and cook for about 1 minute stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon until softened. 

6. Add 1 tbsp. of butter and 1 tbsp. of flour and cook briefly, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds (this is the roux or thickening agent).

7. Whisk in the wine and capers. Turn heat up to high and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to about 1 cup.

8. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, parsley and remaining 2 tbsp. of butter. 

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Dredge the seasoned chicken in flour.

Heat 3 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a large saute pan over high heat and brown the chicken on both sides. 

Capers, white wine, minced shallot, lemon juice, flour, and chopped parsley.

Saute the minced shallot in the same pan and cook briefly until softened.

Add 1 tbsp. of butter and 1 tbsp. of flour to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds, to make the roux.

Stir in the white wine and capers. Bring to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes or until the sauce is reduced to about 1 cup.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, 2 tbsp. of butter and the parsley. Taste the sauce and season with extra salt and/or pepper if needed. 

Plate the chicken and pour the sauce over before serving.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Grilled Antelope with Santa Maria Style Seasoning and Salsa

This past weekend we discovered The Naughty Pig Butchery here in Murrieta and it was a welcome find. We wanted to grill beef tri-tip and would have gone to Costco, Stater Bros or Ralphs to buy the meat, but on a whim I did an online search and lo and behold found the only butcher shop here in the Temecula Valley. It's a relatively small store front in an unassuming strip mall on Madison across from Walmart but the selections are, well, select and top notch. They carry quality cuts of grass fed beef, Duroc Iowa pork, chicken, lamb, duck, buffalo, venison, wild boar, and (at least on that day) antelope!!! We ended up buying two try-tips and, after a tasting of the antelope, bought a pound of that, too. The proprietor, Chef Daniel, advised that we grill the antelope simply with some olive oil, salt and pepper, quickly seared and then cooked over indirect heat until about medium to medium rare in the center. Overcooking is an absolute no-no with lean game meats. I brushed the antelope on all sides with olive oil then seasoned it with a generous amount of the same Santa Maria-style seasoning that we used on the trip-tip (basically salt, garlic powder, pepper, and parsley flakes). Gil grilled it on our Santa Maria grill, which has an adjustable grate, and we served it with some home-made Santa Maria-style salsa. Sooooo good! Antelope is not gamey at all - tastes very much like beef and is very tender as long as it's not well done. 

1 lb. antelope*
Santa Maria-style seasoning (I like Susie Q's) - or, a blend of kosher salt, granulated or powdered garlic, black pepper and parsley flakes
Olive oil

Santa Maria-style Salsa

1. Make the salsa, cover, and set aside.

2. About 5-10 minutes before grilling, pat the antelope dry with paper towels, rub olive oil over the meat and and season liberally on all sides with the seasoning mix. 

3. Prepare the grill using charcoal and/or red oak chunks (Gil uses this to grill try-tip). When the flames have died down, sear the antelope over the center of the grill, about 1 minute per side. Remove the meat to the cooler side of the grill (over indirect heat). 

4. Continue grilling about 5-6 minutes per side for each 1/2" of thickness, turning over once (baste with extra olive oil as needed). Cook to about 120F for medium rare. 

5. Remove the meat and let rest for 5, no more than 10 minutes so that it won't overcook. Slice and serve with salsa on the side.

*1 lb. will serve about 2 people for an entree or 4 as an appetizer. Antelope is expensive (about $35 per lb., so I would serve this as an appetizer unless money ain't no object)

 Since we planned on grilling both the beef tri-tip and antelope, I seasoned both liberally with Santa Maria-style seasoning (salt, garlic, black pepper and parsley flakes).

 Rub the antelope with olive oil first before seasoning.

 Susie Q's is my fav brand of Santa Maria-style seasoning. Extra olive oil on the side for brushing the antelope as it grills to keep it moist.

 The meat is first seared on both sides over high heat briefly (Gil is brushing on some of that extra olive oil here).

 Once seared, move the meat to the side of the grill and cook it over indirect heat for 5-6 minutes per side, turning over once, until internal temp is about 120F for medium rare.

            Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve with the salsa on the side.