I had a pork shoulder sitting in the fridge that I really wanted to make. They take a LONG time to cook on the Big Green Egg but don't require much work; season it simply, and just keep the temperature fairly low (around 300º). I pulled it off the Egg after 4 1/2 hours and let it rest for 30 minutes. It was tender and juicy without a lot of effort.
But what to have with it? I usually like a homemade coleslaw made with a little mayo but quite a bit of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar helps cut the richness of the pork but I didn't have any cabbage. I went with some tropical flavors and came up with a Mango Salsa made from farmer's market tomatoes, avocado, mango and lime juice. I still needed one more side dish so I raided my fridge and used up some leftovers. I had 2 ears of corn and some leftover green beans. I combined them in a bowl, added some tomatoes and boiled a few potatoes and added them to the party. I made a simple vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, basil and olive oil and tossed it all together. It was great; an excellent use of leftover vegetables. You could easily vary the ingredients based on what you have in hand and the vinaigrette could be used on freshly steamed or boiled vegetables.Mango Salsa
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve.Green Bean & Corn Salad
After making Turkey and Pinto Bean Corn Bread Pie a couple of weeks ago, I saw the cookbook, Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet in my local bookstore. Everything looked so good, I snapped it up and set about figuring out which recipe to make first. This carbonara sounded delicious and was quick and easy to make. I also liked the idea of adding asparagus and I had everything on hand. This is a great go to recipe to have in your repertoire as it can be made with frozen peas and pantry staples. I used 1% milk as that was what I had. The most important step is to transfer the pasta to a bowl, add the eggs and quickly stir in the eggs so they don't become scrambled eggs.
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 pound English peas, shelled (about 1 cup), or 1/2 cup frozen peas
1 pound spaghetti
4 ounces asparagus, sliced diagonally 1/8 inch thick (1 cup)
10 fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
5 eggs, whisked, at room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish (2 ounces)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the bacon, cooking for about 5 minutes, until crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel and set aside. Return the pan with the rendered fat to the stovetop for future use.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the peas into the water and cook them for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a strainer with a slotted spoon or a spider basket. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes, or until al dente.
While the pasta cooks, heat the bacon fat in the sauté pan over medium heat. Add the peas and asparagus, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil, and set aside.
Whisk together the eggs and milk. Have the egg mixture, vegetables, and bacon ready to toss with very hot pasta.
Quickly drain the pasta and transfer immediately to a large serving bowl. Pour the eggs and cheese on top of the pasta, and toss vigorously to coat the strands and gently cook the eggs, forming a creamy sauce. Add the vegetables, and bacon, and continue tossing to incorporate them. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Portion the spaghetti on plates and ladle any sauce left in the bowl over each serving. Grate additional cheese on top if you like.
On Friday, I was reading Dorie Greenspan's excellent blog where she wrote about a blueberry breakfast cake. That got me thinking about her recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake from her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Soft and flaky, with fresh blueberries bursting in each bite. I can't stop thinking about it. I made it yesterday morning with the idea of having it for dessert last night but by mid afternoon I couldn't resist any longer! My family came home to a beautiful crumb cake sitting on the counter, missing a big piece! I, of course claimed that I needed to sample it in the name of quality control!
Blueberry Crumb Cake
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
For the crumbs:
5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted this)
For the cake:
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries (preferably fresh, or frozen, not thawed)
2 cups plus 2 tsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
grated zest of 1/2 lemon or 1/4 orange
3/4 stick (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 and place the rack at the middle position in the oven. Butter an 8-inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.
To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the nuts in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms clumps and curds and holds together when pressed. Scrape the topping into a bowl, stir in the nuts and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate until needed. (Covered well the crumb mix can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
To make the cake: Using your fingertips, toss the blueberries and 2 tsp of the flour together in a small bowl just to coat the berries; set aside. Whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or in another large bowl, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the butter and, with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar with the butter at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for about 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled — it will soon smooth out. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients.) You will have a thick, creamy batter. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the berries.
Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top gently with the spatula. Pull the crumb mix from the fridge and, with your fingertips, break it into pieces. There’s no need to try to get even pieces — these are crumbs, they’re supposed to be lumpy and bumpy and every shape and size. Scatter the crumbs over the batter, pressing them down ever so slightly.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool just until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature.
I love breakfast. My day has to start with a great breakfast; not a good breakfast but a great one. God forbid I don't have breakfast. And it has to be substantial. Eggs are my favorite, fried, scrambled or poached. But on the weekend, I love to make pancakes. I get up early while everyone else is sleeping and start making the batter and preheating the griddle. I enjoy the quiet. In the past few years, I have had two helpers; one wants to mix and one wants to flip. I am not allowed to make pancakes until they assume their positions which is great unless I am famished and can't wait until they get up.
Today, I felt like making pancakes. No one was up and it was peaceful. I have been on a quest to find the perfect pancake recipe. Something that reminds me of the pancakes I had as a kid, sweet (not too sweet), fluffy and tangy (from the buttermilk) but I can't find them. So I keep trying tweaks on pancake recipes. This recipe comes from Alton Brown and it is very good. Light & fluffy. He calls them "Instant Pancakes" because he premixes the dry ingredients in a large tub and then when you are ready to make pancakes you just have to add the wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs and melted butter). It does make it easier in the morning. My daughter had a sleepover last Friday night, so I mixed up a batch of the dry ingredients so I was ready to go in the morning. I still have a good amount left so I whipped up pancakes again this morning. So good!
*I did not use a whole stick of butter to grease the pan!"Instant" Pancake Mix
Recipe by Alton Brown
Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded container. Shake to mix.
Use the mix within 3 months.
Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 degrees F. Heat oven to 200 degrees F.
Whisk together the egg whites and the buttermilk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter.
Combine the buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the pancake mix. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together. Don't try to work all the lumps out.
Check to see that the griddle is hot by placing a few drops of water onto to the griddle. The griddle is ready if the water dances across the surface.
Lightly butter the griddle. Wipe off thoroughly with a paper towel. (No butter should be visible.)
Gently ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle and sprinkle on fruit if desired. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake and the griddle-side of the cake is golden, gently flip the pancakes. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the pancake is set.
Serve immediately or remove to a towel-lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Hold in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes.
Yield: 12 pancakes
This is a favorite standby in our house. Great flavors and quick to make, it has a nice balance of salty and sweet. After I had settled on making this, I realized that I didn't have any orange juice so I substituted lime juice and zest and increased the hoisin sauce to balance the tartness of the limes. It was even better with the lime juice! I served this with white rice and corn.
Asian 5 Spice Barbecued Pork Tenderloin
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Coat tenderloins in steak seasoning or season with salt and pepper. Combine brown sugar and 5 spice powder. Rub sugar and spice over pork. Brush baking dish or broiler pan with oil. Place pork in oven and bake 10 minutes. Combine barbecue sauce with orange zest and juice and sesame oil. Baste meat liberally with sauce and roast meat 15 minutes longer. Remove meat from oven and transfer to a serving platter. Coat meat with sesame and cilantro or chives for color.
I was making boneless chicken breasts for dinner last night. I cannot get excited about boneless breasts. I know they are a blank canvas and take well to all sorts of flavors but I frequently find them to be dry no matter how carefully I cook them. I prefer dark meat but my husband prefers white meat so we have a battle which I usually win because I'm the cook. I was thinking of a twist on a recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant with arugula and sourdough bread salad but at the last minute I changed course and went with chicken milanese. Chicken Milanese is simply breaded chicken cutlets served with an arugula salad. It was light, crispy and delicious. I love arugula and having it simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, it was special. I paired this with cauliflower puree.
I made extra to have for sandwiches later in the week.
Combine water, salt and sugar. Stir to combine. Place chicken in a ziptop bag and pour over the salt water. Seal and place in the refrigerator for two hours.
Remove chicken from brine and dry with paper towels. Pound each breast until uniform in size. Place the flour on a plate, the eggs in a bowl and the breadcrumbs on another plate. Dredge the chicken first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a baking sheet.
Heat canola oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Cook chicken breasts until golden brown and cooked all the way through. Drain on paper towels.
Toss arugula and tomato with the lemon juice and olive oil. Serve chicken breast with salad.
Basic comfort food. I love it. Nothing epitomizes comfort food like mashed potatoes but they can't be just any mashed potatoes. What makes mashed potatoes great. Well, they should be light, fluffy and full of flavor. To get that though, mashed potatoes are usually full of fat. Since I love them, I swapped out ingredients to make them lower in fat and calories. I can't call them low fat, but these mashed potatoes are better for you and delicious. Don't be shy with the salt and white pepper.
This recipe makes a lot of mashed potatoes. I like to save the leftovers for breakfast with eggs. Another great use for the leftovers is to make them into cakes with chicken or fish. Look for that recipe later in the week.Mashed Potatoes
Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, add salt to the water and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot and place over the burner used to cook the potatoes. The warmth from the burner will help dry out the potatoes. Add the butter and mash using a potato masher until fluffy. Add buttermilk and milk and continue mashing until smooth. Stir in sour cream and season to taste with salt and white pepper.