Cauliflower and Smoked Trout Salad

Indeed, I have been long absent and I do apologize.  My only excuse is a remarkably warm, dry, beautiful summer that included lots of projects.  First, I got the new patio that I have been lusting after for a couple of years.  Second, I’ve gotten involved in several non-profit volunteer opportunities.  Last, I’ve been canning.  I make jams and jellies and pickles from June through September.

All that aside, I had a wonderful salad at the Woodsman Tavern this summer that resulted in me coming home and working on my own version.  After pickling a reasonable amount of cauliflower, I had some leftover.  Now, I have finally made the salad that meets my expectations.  Allowing the cauliflower to sit in the dressing for 6 or more hours tenderizes the vegetable but doesn’t take all the crunch.  It’s similar to the effect dressing has on coleslaw.  The finished dish is beautiful and delicious.

Ingredients:

Cauliflower (about 1/2 of a small head)

1/4 cup Pesto (any kind you like.  I used Buitoni’s All Natural Pesto with basil)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

salt to taste

1 tsp sugar or agave syrup

3 oz smoked trout, canned in olive oil

Pickled shallots (optional)

cherry tomatoes (optional)

Break the cauliflower into bite size florets and place in a ziplock bag. Mix pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and salt to taste in a bowl and pour over cauliflower.

Break the cauliflower into bite size florets and place in a ziplock bag. Mix pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and salt to taste in a bowl and pour over cauliflower.

Seal the bag and massage to get some of the dressing on each piece.  Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Seal the bag and massage to get some of the dressing on each piece. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

If you want the pickled shallots, combine one thinly sliced shallot with 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp red wine vinegar.  Let it sit for about an hour and voila! Time to eat!

If you want the pickled shallots, combine one thinly sliced shallot with 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp red wine vinegar. Let it sit for about an hour and voila! Time to eat!

Pour the cauliflower into your dish, toss a few halved cherry tomatoes and pickled shallots if you like and top with the drained trout.

Pour the cauliflower into your dish, toss a few halved cherry tomatoes and pickled shallots if you like and top with the drained trout.

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Pam Pam Noodles

I love most Asian food.  Hot, spicy, sweet, sour, salty are all good to me.  I also am quite fond of pasta in most forms.  Combining the two is always a good thing in my mouth.  One of my favorite noodle dishes is Dan dan noodles.  Dan dan noodles are decidedly Sichuan but there are as many different recipes out there as there are types of Chinese noodles.  In fact, I have recipes calling for rice noodles, glass noodles, wheat noodles, flat noodles, thick noodles and so on.  Some recipes add an egg, some add bok choy or pea shoots.  When you prepare this recipe, feel free to add whatever more or less that your mood requires.  In the following version I have used Barilla plus spaghetti for the benefit of the added fiber but as I mentioned, choose your noodle.  I have also used ingredients that are easily found in most regular grocery stores.  I have avoided the sesame paste, black bean sauce, black vinegar, Sichuan peppers and Chinese pickled vegetables even though you can probably find these things in my cupboards.  Any pickled vegetable that is not dill based will work fine in this recipe.  Some examples might be Escabeche or the Italian version of pickled cauliflower and carrots.  I used some pickled cauliflower that I put up this last summer and it worked beautifully.  Let me just say that it’s a good thing I only made a single serving considering my serious lack of control concerning food.

PS:  The whole thing takes about 20 minutes!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 oz ground meat (I used pork but turkey, chicken, beef or tofu can be substituted)
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 green onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated, fresh ginger
  • 1 scant Tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy but any will do)
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced pickled vegetable (see previous comments)
  • Sambel oeleck to taste (optional) (substitute siracha, chili oil or some other hot sauce)
  • cilantro to taste (optional)
  • 2 oz dried pasta noodles

First, marinate your pork by combining the first five ingredients and set aside. noodles1 noodles2

Make your sauce base by combining the remaining ingredients except for the pasta  and set aside to allow the flavors to meld.

Cook your noodles of choice according to the directions provided.  In the meantime, make your sauce base by mixing the remaining ingredients together and set aside to meld.  Saute the pork, stirring constantly to prevent one big lump of meat forming.

Drain your noodles and place into your dish.  Top with the Pam Pam noodle sauce.  Grab your chopsticks and dig in!

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Pork Chops with Peanut Sauce

Now and again I tend to spend a lot of my waking hours thinking about one of three things:  1) Things I liked to eat as a kid, 2) Things I used to cook for my kids, and 3) Things I still want to try to cook.

Things I liked to eat as a kid get jumbled up in my memories sometimes.  I loved and still love plain old fried potatoes.  Ah, memories.  She also was a great one for things like the Tomato Soup Cake and Oatmeal Cake with broiled frosting.  Oh, I do remember those.  One of my favorite food memories is my Aunt Ruth’s Hamburger Soup.  It was a mix of whatever vegetables were available on hand combined with hamburger, but it almost always included corn and potatoes and I loved the stuff.  I tried duplicating that soup for years but it never tasted as good as hers.  Of course hers had a healthy helping of love stirred into the broth.

Another epicurean delight was a totally blackened and crunchy red hot dog, cooked over a bonfire, stuck on a green switch and buried under a ton of hot dog relish.  I ate the marshmallows we roasted but the hot dogs were the star of any weenie roast.  My uncle Herman and my dad built the fire while we kids searched for a long, green stick that we could spear our dogs on and roast.  These were the dogs that were bright red with food dyes.  I always roasted mine to charcoal black.  Crunchy burnt on the outside and juicy red inside.  That was better than any sit down meal we ever had.

But best of all was a good old fashioned crunchy peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich.  Nowadays, I’m still excited by anything that includes crunchy peanut butter.  Hence the following recipe for pork chops with peanut sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1 center cut porkchop (4-6 oz)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow squash, cut in 1-2 inch chunks

For the sauce:

  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • sambel oeleck to taste
  • 1/4 Cup water

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and add the sliced green onions and set aside.

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Brown your chop in a lightly oiled pan.

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Add the vegetables.

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Once they start to brown, reduce the heat to low and pour over the sauce.  Cover and simmer about 20 minutes (depending on vegetable choices and size of cuts).

PC5Plate the meat and vegetables.  You can increase the heat on the sauce and reduce a bit before pouring over the other ingredients if it isn’t as thick as you like.  By itself, this meal is low glycemic, low cholesterol and reduced sodium.  However, (and best of all) it includes my beloved crunchy peanut butter!

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Chicken, Artichoke and Broccoli Casserole

Here in the Pacific Northwest, winter is marked by chilly rain.  When our summers are dry like this year, we actually find ourselves longing for cold wet nights with the sound of water gushing down the gutters.  It’s true.  We have webbed feet and we quack when we walk.  Umbrellas are a rare sight though it can rain for 30 days and 30 nights straight.  A tiny break in the deluge brings everyone out for a walk or yard work or just a quick visit.  The sun is appreciated more in its brief appearances than it was all summer long.

However, we do take comfort in our food.  In fact, many of us in Portland are food obsessed.  Well, maybe that is an overstatement.  Mmmmmm, no, it’s a fact.  We don’t eat to live, we live to eat and wake up tomorrow to do the same thing over again.  Organic fruits and vegetables and healthy grains, local meats, eggs and dairy are much the norm.  We like our Dave’s Killer Bread and Freddy Guys hazelnuts.  Our farmer’s markets get mobbed when in season and many of our front lawns are vegetable gardens.

Keeping all that in mind, too much holiday food makes me long for something more comforting and healthy.  For me, comforting either comes in a nice soup pot or a casserole dish.  Finding what’s available in the fridge, I’m usually able to concoct something edible.

What we have here are the ingredients I gathered.

What we have here are the ingredients I gathered.

  • 2 oz fiber plus penne
  • 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 small bunch of broccoli
  • 1/2 Cup chopped artichoke hearts (I used marinated in vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
Brown the chicken in a sprinkle of olive oil.

Brown the chicken in a sprinkle of olive oil.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter or oil a 1 quart casserole.

Saute the chicken in a hot skillet in a little olive oil.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions, adding the chopped broccoli during the last few minutes.  Chop the artichoke hearts.

Mix and place in casserole dish.  Cover with remaining cheese.

Mix and place in casserole dish. Cover with remaining cheese.

Mix everything together with about 1/2 the cheese and place in the casserole dish.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes or until it’s all bubbly and the top is starting to brown.

Dig In!!!

Dig In!!!

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Holidays and Things

I have been so busy helping other folks prepare for parties this month that I haven’t posted as much as I would like.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating.  While much of my cooking efforts are focused on cooking for just myself, I do love to entertain.  I usually host a regional dinner for a select group of people monthly but we skipped December because of everyone’s schedule.  I think I may have made up for some of that by hosting a Christmas Tea.  I am including some pictures and descriptions here for your pleasure.  If something you see needs a recipe, just let me know.

We set up for 20 ladies.  Each table will have 2 teapots, 2 cream and sugars and lemon, a plate of savory nibbles and a plate of sweets.

We set up for 20 ladies. Each table will have 2 teapots, 2 cream and sugars and lemon, a plate of savory nibbles and a plate of sweets.

Teapots all lined up for boiling water.  We used a tea blend from the Perennial Tea Room in Seattle called Room 11, It's Heaven.  Believe me it is.  It also has a very cute story about a 5th grade class studying the Boston Tea Party.

Teapots all lined up for boiling water. We used a tea blend from the Perennial Tea Room in Seattle called Room 11, It’s Heaven. Believe me it is. It also has a very cute story about a 5th grade class studying the Boston Tea Party.

Savory nibbles, Artichoke and egg salad sandwiches, chicken, cranberry and walnut sandwiches, toasts with goat cheese and tomato jam and puff pastry sandwiches of spinach, bacon and cheese.

Savory nibbles, Artichoke and egg salad sandwiches, chicken, cranberry and walnut sandwiches, toasts with goat cheese and tomato jam and puff pastry sandwiches of spinach, bacon and cheese.

Sweet nibbles.  Lemon cherry tarts, orange cranberry scones, pecan tassies and carrot cupcakes with maple cream cheese icing.

Sweet nibbles. Lemon cherry tarts, orange cranberry scones, pecan tassies and carrot cupcakes with maple cream cheese icing.

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Braised Pork with Star Anise and Coriander

Let me just say now, before I forget, the pictures used here are for two portions.  This is one of those recipes that I want some leftovers for another use tomorrow.

This is my adaptation of a Gordon Ramsey recipe for Braised Pork with a Rich Glaze in his “In the Heat of the Kitchen” cookbook.  Besides reducing the ingredients for the proportionate amounts, I’ve substituted a 1 pound hunk of pork loin for his pork belly (considerably leaner) and adapted for the slow cooker.  Gordon serves his with ‘truffled pomme puree’ but I chose oven roasted brussel sprouts and kale sauted in some of the sauce from the pork.

As a little added information, it’s very important to brown your hunk of meat before putting it in the slow cooker.  Contrary to popular belief, browning does NOT seal in the juices of the meat.  If you doubt me, sear a nice hunk of steak and set it on a plate and wait for the moisture to rise to the top.  In fact, that sizzling sound you hear is juice escaping from the meat.  What browning does, however, is add color and a wonderful layer of flavor from the carmelization that results.

Braised Pork

  • 1-1.5 pounds pork loin
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1/2 onion (I used leftover red onion)
  • 1 small stalk celery
  • 3 large or equivalent cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 Cup low sodium soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/4 Cup sherry vinegar
  • 3 star anise
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 10 coriander seeds
  • 1 Cup (+/-) reduced sodium chicken stock
I like to pull all my ingredients together before I start in order to avoid leaving out some important item.

I like to pull all my ingredients together before I start in order to avoid leaving out some important item.

Because the sauce will be strained, a rough chop on the vegetables is fine.

Because the sauce will be strained, a rough chop on the vegetables is fine.

Brown the pork on all sides in a bit of olive oil.  A nice crust will add a lot of flavor.

Brown the pork on all sides in a bit of olive oil. A nice crust will add a lot of flavor.  Set aside on a plate.

Saute the vegetables and spices in the same pan as the pork until translucent.  Add the sherry vinegar and scrape up any browned bits of flavor.  Pour into the crockpot.

Saute the vegetables and spices in the same pan as the pork until translucent. Add the sherry vinegar and scrape up any browned bits of flavor. Pour into the crock pot.

Put the hunk of meat on top of the vegetables and add the stock and soy sauce.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.  I like the slower cook as the meat seems to keep it's texture better.

Put the hunk of meat on top of the vegetables and add the stock and soy sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours. I like the slower cook as the meat seems to keep it’s texture better.

Remove the gorgeous hunk of meat and set it aside to rest while you prepare the sauce and sides.

Remove the gorgeous hunk of meat and set it aside to rest while you prepare the sauce and sides.

Strain the sauce into a shallow pan and boil heartily until the sauce is glossy.  It will not be thick but it is intensely rich tasting so you'll only want to use it as a drizzle on the finished dish.

Strain the sauce into a shallow pan and boil heartily until the sauce is glossy. It will not be thick but it is intensely rich tasting so you’ll only want to use it as a drizzle on the finished dish.

I sauted kale and brussels sprouts, added a couple of nice slices of the pork and drizzled a bit of the sauce over all.

I sauted kale and roasted brussels sprouts, added a couple of nice slices of the pork and drizzled a bit of the sauce over all.

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Turkey and Cranberry Handpies

My cousin posted a recipe to Facebook this morning that looked so tasty that I was tempted to dash out and buy a can of crescent rolls.  The original recipe can be found here:  http://theseventhkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/11/turkey-cranberry-crescent-ring.html .  But, I fought the urge and decided to give it a shot for one, healthier and perhaps tastier.  The best I have been able to come up with is actually 2 servings.  However, as a hand pie it is just as tasty cold as in lunch tomorrow.

First order of business is the crescent rolls.  Using Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry flour, I was able to prepare a reasonable size recipe.  I believe it would make 3 small rolls or crescents but you can easily freeze any portions that you aren’t prepared to use at the time.

Crescent Rolls

  • 3/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/3 Cup warm water
  • 1/2 Tbsp agave syrup (you can substitute 1 tsp sugar or honey)
  • 1/4 tsp malted barley flour (optional)
  • 3/4 Cup whole wheat pastry flour (plus some for rolling)
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt

(The malted barley flour just gives a bit more rise to your bread things by giving the yeast something extra to feed on- makes for a little lighter bread)(Agave syrup has a very low glycemic index and is quite a bit  sweeter.  You can replace with a full tsp of honey or sugar.)

Mix yeast, water and sweetener plus malted barley flour if using together until the yeast is dissolved.  Let stand in a warm place until bubbly.  Add the oil, salt and flour and stir together until the dough forms into a ball.

If necessary, add additional flour by the tablespoon at a time.  The dough will be slightly sticky but should pull away from the bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled.
Scoop the dough from the bowl onto a well floured board (dough will be sticky).  Using floured hands, knead for a minute or so with a little flour.  Separate into 2 pieces.

Roll out each piece to a circle.  Place 1/2 the filling in the middle and using a knife, cut ‘spokes’ to the filling like a sun (see photo).  Pick up one spoke at a time and fold over filling.  Slightly flatten the top and push in the sides to shape similar to a hamburger bun.


Cover and let rest/rise a second time for about 30 minutes. Brush with a little milk (I hate wasting an egg for something so small :) Bake at 375 for 25 – 30 minutes.

Recipe for the filling follows:

Turkey Filling

  • 1 Cup chopped turkey
  • 1/3 Cup diced celery
  • 1/4 Cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 2 heaping Tbsp unsweetened dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced parsley or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp whipped cream cheese ( 1 Tbsp is not whipped)
  • 1 Tbsp grated or shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 Cup shredded cheese.  (I used a reduced fat cheddar but swiss, Monterrey Jack, gouda or any full flavored cheese would be nice.)

Mix everything together well.  The mixture will be a little dry but it works when the cheese melts.

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