Category: Andrew

Roasted Broccoli, Fennel, and Sausage

I don’t show fennel nearly enough love as I want to. I really like it a lot. Roasting it was new. It’s a refreshing sweetness.

This whole combination is nothing short of wonderful. Make sure you get a sausage you really like since that’s really going to be the star of the show. I went with a spicy Italian -and- added the extra pepper. It shouldn’t be that surprising at this point. The broccoli and fennel compliment it nicely.

The couscous was kind of an afterthought for a filling addition. I could eat roasted vegetables and sausage for days otherwise. There’s never enough, so I needed something else.

It doesn’t really need to be said, but this is ridiculously simple to make. It’s quick, easy, and full of flavor. The trifecta of awesome when you’re in a hurry.

Inspiration: Food52

Ingredients

  • 12oz pork sausage, casings removed and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 fennel bulb, white part thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Couscous, rice, mixed greens for serving

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat.

In a large bowl, toss the broccoli florets and fennel slices with the olive oil, mustard, lemon juice/zest and red pepper flakes. Spread it in an even layer on the baking sheet. Evenly distribute the chunks of sausage among the vegetables. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the sausage is cooked and the broccoli is starting to darken at the edges. Turn on the broiler for a final couple of minutes to crisp up the sausage.

Season with salt and pepper before serving.

McMinnville, Oregon — Birthday Weekend Round 2

I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday for another weekend. I’m surrounded by good people. Andrew surprised me with a weekend trip to McMinnville, Oregon to basically eat and drink my way through the town. McMinnville is home to a sweet little downtown surrounded by a whole lotta wine country and farms. We stayed at Third Street Flats right downtown. There are 11 of them, each with their own theme. We stayed in the 11th Flat, their noir flat. Apparently he really wanted number four, which was booked, but 11 was incredible. The only thing four could have beat it on is the view since it overlooked Third Street. The 11th faced away. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know kind of what it looks like. Since neither one of us took a legit camera, phone photos are all I have. I’m a sucker for the wood floors and exposed brick. The kitchen was open, had floating shelves, and an island. Want. Want. Want.

After wandering the main street and checking out the shops in their quaint historic district, which was totally decked out for Christmas, we settled in for dinner. We ate at La Rambla Restaurant & Bar for northwest inspired Spanish tapas. There wasn’t a bad thing on the menu and the service was absolutely on point. It’s slow season, so while we made a reservation, we didn’t need one. We actually went in early since it was really slow and my stomach begging for some food. I started off with their house sangria while we ate the pork migas and stuffed piquillo peppers. I could have eaten four more plates of each. The “small” plates were way bigger than I was expecting. The various types of pork were super tender, and the chunks of bread soaked up every bit of the juice. The bread actually made the dish for me. The piquillo peppers were stuffed with saffron rice and chicken and smothered in a nutty, cheesy cream sauce. I switched to a really nice pinot noir while stuffing ourselves on lamb nachos, sautéed shrimp in a Calabrian chili oil, and sautéed green beans with hazelnuts and Valdeón blue cheese. The lamb nachos were a trip — thinly sliced sweet potatoes, topped with ground lamb and more Valdeón blue cheese. The shrimp were about as perfect as you could get them. That Calabrian chili oil though! Green beans love some blue cheese. That’s not something I would have thought of before but definitely will now. We finished off the night with a thin, bright sherry and a citrus flan with espresso caramel. Like I said, the server was fantastic. He brought us a hand-written list of wineries with our check. All of his recommendations that night were really great. It was actually hard not to go back for the second night; the food was that good.

We started Saturday off at the Red Fox Bakery for some coffee and a breakfast snack. Our sights were set on a big lunch to set us off on wine tasting for the day, so a light breakfast was in order. Red Fox is known for their breads and sandwiches, but there wouldn’t be time since they were closed on Sunday. A simple Americano made with Illy espresso and their house specialty coconut macaroon for me; a dry cappuccino and quiche for him. That macaroon was crazy good. It was larger than most macaroons I’ve had, like a muffin top, and had a softer, more dense texture. The coconut morphed into an almost toasted marshmallow flavor when baked. I dunked mine in the coffee. I highly suggest that. Lunch was a BBQ feast at Ribslayer BBQ, which was right across the street from our flat, but hidden in an alley. It was hands down the best BBQ I’ve had since Kansas City. A deliciously charred burnt ends sando for him; a meaty Mofo sandwich for me. Their Mofo sandwich takes their pulled pork and tops it with their brisket and housemade BBQ on a slightly crunchy, soft-yet-sturdy roll. It handles the BBQ with ease and balances that meat-to-bread ratio well. That meat was so subtly smokey, and super tender. Their BBQ sauce is tangy and addicting. They had others for purchase, but it made sense to use what they serve up. It was a filling sandwich. Perfect for preparing someone for an afternoon of tasting.

Tasting started with Seven of Hearts/Luminous Hills in Carlton, Oregon. It’s a little bit north of McMinnville, but hardly a trek. Their wines were really, really fantastic. All kinds of old world varietals in a very easy-to-digest atmosphere. It’s not snooty at all, and has an in-house chocolate shop! The owner and wine-maker Byron chatted with us while he poured. It’s all very generous from the number of tastes to answering a bunch of questions to the bits of chocolate to pair with certain wines. It was a seriously great time. We walked out of there nearly members, but instead with a bottle of Roussanne [a white] and Grenache [a red]. Carlton’s little main street has that same historic charm and is chock-full of tasting rooms, but we only did that one tasting before heading back out for another winery in a different part of the area. Maysara Winery is heavy on the pinot noir and prides themselves on their Biodynamic farming practices. We headed here because of the pinot I had the night before at La Rambla. It was pretty awesome, and I’m not usually a huge pinot fan. The rest of their line up was only okay for my tastes, but the grounds and tasting room were gorgeous. The tasting room is relatively new and had a cavernous, rustic feel. They were so slow, making us their only visitors of the day. Getting there was really a drive out into the country on some dirt roads. If it weren’t for some tiny signs, I’d have had no idea where we were going. We headed back into town for one final tasting since my tastebuds tend to give up after three. The third and final stop was Remy Wines. The Remy label is for her single vineyard Italian varietals and the Three Wives label is for anything else that suits her fancy and doesn’t fall into that category. You know I’m a sucker for Italian varietals. We tasted their Lagrein, which I don’t think I had until that moment. It’s super rare to be grown in the US. It was lovely. The second was their ridiculously affordable red blend — sangiovese, barbera, and dolcetto. You hardly ever see a bottle of red for $19 at a winery. It was a great, easy drinker. The stars of the show for me was their sangiovese, which was unbelievably fruity, and their barbera, which ages for an unbelievable amount of time in the barrel. I would have had no idea it was a sangiovese if you hadn’t told me. It was totally approachable from the first sip. I feel like sangiovese is usually a bit of an acquired tasted if you didn’t drink it regularly, but this would please many people. The barbera is hands-down the best barbera I’ve ever had. That extra time in the barrel does incredible things to the wine. It really makes for a rich flavor. It’s a beautiful wine. We also got to taste some of the dessert wine made out of barbera grapes. It’s almost port-like, but still tastes like barbera. It was stunning. The wine did not disappoint this trip.

The final dinner of the trip wasn’t La Rambla, even though we were so tempted to go back for more. We headed to Thistle, a farm to table kind of spot. The menu rotates often and is written on a chalkboard when you first walk in. The whole meal kicked ass much like the previous night. Amazing service and even more amazing food. I knew immediately it would be another meat heavy night, so I let our server pick some wines. We started with a glass of gamay with the rabbit rillet and steak tartare. The quality of meat here is no joke. I fell in love with the rabbit on first bite. It was served in a little mason jar, had a delicious fatty top, and tenderly spread on every bite of bread. The tartare was some of the best I’d had. Again, I could have gone for three rounds of just this alone. The mains were lamb medallions on top of slightly sweet polenta in an addictive sauce and slices of rare+ beef on top of sautéed cabbage, blue cheese, and roasted potatoes. It was a great with the glass of cabernet franc. It was hard to pick favorite main. Probably the beef, if only because of it’s tangy notes. Savory always trumps sweet for me. We finished up the meal with a gin and parsnip cake and a meyer lemon panna cotta topped with berries and hazelnuts. I couldn’t decide on a dessert so Andrew picked both. What a gentleman. In the end, I think the cake won me over. The gin was a lovely aromatic element to the cake.

This morning we stopped into Community Plate, Thistle’s sister restaurant for a little breakfast before heading back home. It was a cozy, rustic place. The menu was simple. The coffee good. I had a simple bowl with a tender biscuit and housemade sausage gravy. The gravy was heavenly. I should have used a spoon. Andrew had the pork hash, and I just now realized I never got a bite. The horror.

And now that I’ve written a novel, I really just want to sum up that McMinnville was awesome. There was so much more food I wanted to eat, wine I wanted to drink, and walking around I wanted to do. I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of this great little town. It’s so close to Portland, and I’d never been in all my life. That’ll change now. It’s an easy day trip, but making a point to stay somewhere in-town was so much fun. A mini vacation. A delicious one. Andrew knows me well. That was a great way to celebrate.

Lamb Stuffed Pita with Tabbouleh

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

I took the longest a road trip down to San Diego for family, sun, heat, and eats. Not a single disappointment in that department. There was talk of 80s, but it turn out much closer to 90s. It was the first time I’ve ever eaten Thanksgiving dinner outside. A novel concept, but it really could have been cooler. That’s totally fine with me.

The rest of the trip involved three burritos, four tacos, half of a plate of carne aside fries, a spinach, bacon, and egg croissant sandwich, a ham scramble, a brisket benedict on a popover, a french toast donut, jambalaya, and a pile of mussels in a blue cheese whiskey sauce and spicy lamb sausage. San Diego doesn’t have a shortage of Mexican food, that’s for sure. Two new favorite restaurants are Brabant [Belgian pub with housemade everything] and Great Maple [creative, comfort foods with that whole local/seasonal thing]. We also went to a beer tasting event at Modern Times to try a ton of their coffee stout variations [in honor of Black Friday, after all] and cold brew coffee. Two of my favorite things. We were given 10 tickets for five ounce tastes, which was more than enough for rich, delicious beer. Some favorites were obvious like their Monster’s Park stout aged in rye barrels and double chocolate Black House, but after awhile my taste buds went numb and I couldn’t taste anything but liquid. Seriously good beer and coffee, though. I brought home 8oz of their rye barrel-aged sumatra manhelding beans and it’s in the process of making some cold brew. If you’re in San Diego, and love beer, I highly suggest checking them out.

Let’s talk about something that could easily be made if you’re in the luxury of good weather, like San Diego. I’m not too scared to grill in the winter, but when Portland is below freezing with the wind, I’m not to inclined. Bon Appétit posted this in their grill issue, and I’m all for a variation of the traditional burger. Lamb and middle eastern flair will get me damn near every time, too. I went all out and made up the tabbouleh while the tomatoes were still clinging to the summer season. If tomatoes aren’t to be had right now, I’d just leave them out. Tabbouleh is better without tomatoes than with mediocre ones. You deserve better than that.

It’s a nice refreshing salad [herbs!] to compliment that burger. When the burger cooks within the pita, it soaks up all the juice and still retains a nice crunch. It also saves the time to toast a bun, which means I’m less likely to burn it. I’m a notorious bun burner. I’m end up busy with something else and leave it just a little too long.

Inspiration: Bon Appétit – Lamb Burger & Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4lbs ground lamb
  • 4 pita pockets
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the grill
  • 1/2 cup dried bulgur
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped mint
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste

Preparation

In a bowl, mix together the lamb, small diced onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, teaspoons salt and pepper, and two tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. Cover and chill for about an hour.

While the lamb chills, make the tabbouleh. Put the bulgur in a pot with 3/4 cup boiling water and let it soak until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is soft. Toss the bulgur and the rest of the ingredients through the mint until evenly mixed.

Oil the grate of your grill and turn on to a medium heat. Slice the pitas around half of the edge so you can open it up. Stuff equal amounts of the lamb mixture into each pita. Use your hands to flatten the burger out from within. Grill the pitas for about 5 minutes on each side.

Toss the tabbouleh with the olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes before serving. Taste for salt.

Salted Double Chocolate Cookies

It was an amazing birthday weekend, as usual. I seem to get lucky in that department. It helps to surround yourself with awesome people. The rest of it seems to work itself out. I started Saturday with brunch at Radar with Andrew, my parents, my sister, and her fiancé. You know I love Radar. It’s not a birthday without going there. I ordered the bubble and squeak. Again. Creature of habit. Roasted veggies in what’s basically a mashed potato pancake and topped with mushroom gravy. It makes me hungry just thinking about it. That night some friends and I took over the new wine bar and bottleshop in the neighborhood, Spoke & Vine. It was glorious. They are only three months old, and have a great selection of affordable wine and snacks. It’s always fun to get some of my favorite people in the same place.

Sunday was my actual birthday. It involved a trip to Pip’s Original Doughnuts for a thai tea, fennel, and cardamom latte with almond milk and three of their made to order doughnuts — raw honey and sea salt, nutella and sea salt, and cinnamon sugar. There are about as many housemade chai varietals than there are doughnuts. The doughnuts are like little bites of fresh elephant ear. So, so good. Dinner was Toro Bravo with Andrew. Finally. That place still has a notorious wait years later, and you can’t get reservations. We showed up five minutes before it opened to a small line formed already, but we were thankfully able to get into the first seating. It lives up to the hype. Easily one of my favorite meals in the city. I’m actually glad I waited to go until after I’d gone to Spain. I think I appreciate what they’re doing so much more. It was a gorge session. Fried anchovies with fennel and lemon; sautéed chanterelles with cream on griddled bread; housemade chorizo and manchego; oxtail croquettes; jamon wrapped chicken; paella; churros and chocolate; cheese ice cream with berry compote; two bottles of wine. Happy birthday indeed.

These cookies were intense as must double-chocolate anything is. It’s not technically two chocolates, but it is the same chocolate half melted into the dough and the other half chopped up and studded throughout. That said, you are using unsweetened chocolate. I splurged on some good stuff, and it was freakin’ intense. I didn’t chop up the chunks nearly small enough for my taste. You’d get a super bitter and intense pure chocolate hit out of nowhere. Maybe some people are into that, but I most definitely am not. They were pretty, though, and the dough was delicious. It was just those dang chunks. The salt and espresso powder are necessary. Don’t skip! They stay gooey even long after they cool, which is exactly what I want in a cookie when I actually want a cookie.

Inspiration: Desserts for Breakfast

Ingredients

  • 10oz good quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped about the size of chocolate chops
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • sea salt flakes for topping

Preparation

Measure 6oz of the chopped chocolate and melt it in a double boiler or other favorite melting method with the coconut oil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, bakng powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla extract for at least five minutes. The batter will be pale, light, and fluffy. Fold in the flour mixture and then the melted chocolate. Lastly add the chocolate chunks. Cover and chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350° when you’re ready to bake. Line a cookie sheet or two and drop even tablespoons of batter on them. Space them out a fair amount as mine spread quite a bit. If they stick together, that’s just one cookie. Sprinkle the dough with the sea salt flakes.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. They will still be pretty gooey, but they’ll solidify as they cool. They’ll maintain their soft texture this way.

Black Bean Chicken Chili

So after last week’s post about lusting after a mandolin, one showed up at my house. A special thank you Andrew to the person in my life who is way better at pulling the trigger at buying things than I am. I haven’t used it yet, but I will. The blades are just as intimidating as I had anticipated, but that won’t stop me. I just need an excuse to use it.

It’s soup/stew/comfort food weather again. The last bits of summer disappeared right before the end of the month. It’s never that nice throughout October, but I’ll take it. I already miss it. Sunny and cool is my favorite. I know I’m in the wrong place for that, but it makes it when it happens that much sweeter. I’ve taken to living in my lined rain boots since the streets don’t drain nearly as well as they should. My wool coat is out in full force. I know I really don’t need to be wearing it yet, not all the time at least, but I can’t help it. I’m all in.

This was another attempt at putting something in the slow cooker the night before, cooking it while I sleep, so it’s ready when I wake up. Of course this does nothing for my quality of sleep. I’m partially smelling the food which smells awesome and wakes me up, and I’m partially freaking out that it’s going to burn. It did. Almost. It started running out of water, silly beans. They were fine ultimately. A slightly smokey flavor is a nice addition. Without adding a ton of water, I was never going to puree this, which is fine. I prefer chunky, stew-like texture. Later that evening, I browned some ground chicken for an extra protein boost. Not thinking about the color difference, it looked like I was folding in popcorn to the mix. Odd.

I piled it high on a baked potato because that seemed like the thing to do. Dunking some bread probably wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Top liberally with sliced green onions. Sour cream/yogurt optional.

Inspiration: Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1lb uncooked black beans
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and green parts sliced
  • baked potatoes, cheese, sour cream, bread for serving

Preparation

Rinse the beans under cold water and pick out any substandard looking beans or pebbles. Place them in the slow cooker along with all of the ingredients through the water. Stir to combine. Turn the slow cooker on high for 6-8 hours. Check the mixture for additional water. You don’t want it to dry out. The beans should be nice and soft. When it’s done cooking, brown the ground chicken in a separate pan. Stir into the beans. Top with green onions.

Apple Fennel Salad

The ants are back. Sigh.

I don’t know why they bother me so much, but they do. It’s really annoying. They haven’t found the pantry again yet, so that’s a plus. They did find the microwave above the stove which isn’t used so much for cooking as for a place to store things that aren’t in a well sealed container. They seem to be have found a new way in — one that I haven’t found yet. I will find it. I will stop them. I always win. Always.

The ants definitely signal the season’s change, much like the produce in the grocery store. All the gourds are out. There are more variety in apples than I can count. I’ve gone through at least two cans of pumpkin.

Fennel is fast becoming my vegetable of choice. I’m a sucker for that black licorice flavor and the fact that it’s crisp totally contradicts the soft black licorice my taste buds expect. The rest of this salad is damn near about as fall as you can get. Apples? Pistachios? Arugula? So nice. Every time I need something thinly sliced, I curse not having a mandolin. I’m convinced the risk of slicing my hand off is worth the evenly sliced fruits and vegetables. Now that I look back, I’m not really sure what apple I used. I think I just grabbed one. Whatever it was worked well with what this salad is trying to accomplish, which I’m pretty sure is just being delicious. What other job should a salad have really?


Inspiration: Joy the Baker

Ingredients

  • 1 large apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, evenly sliced
  • 2-4 handfuls of arugula, depending on your handful and love of arugula
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup diced dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved or shredded

Preparation

Add the thinly sliced apples, fennel, arugula, and red onions to a large bowl. Toss until combined. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil and use your hands to make sure everything is coated. Add the apricots, pistachios and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. That arugula is going to get wilty otherwise.

Banana Coconut Cookies

I feel like I hardly ever bake anymore [for good reason since I’m way more inconsistent in quality], but when I do, I make a few things in rapid succession and then shelve the baking skills for another day. I’m sure practice makes perfect, but I’d much rather “practice” my cooking skills. I prefer the savory to the sweet 98% of the time. Unless it’s a fresh sopaipilla smothered in honey from La Panza that I had last night. I’ll choose that 98% of the time.

To be fair, these “cookies” hardly count as baking. I turned the oven on and they practically made themselves. It was equal parts convenience and sheer luck that I actually had a couple of ripe bananas on hand that I wouldn’t be able to use before they went bad or at least amassed an army of fruit flies to do their bidding. Putting bananas and shredded unsweetened coconut into a food processor is about as hard as it gets. You must must MUST like both of these flavors. Don’t make them otherwise or you’ll be sorely upset. It’s definitely banana and coconut all up in your mouth. Very tropical. Very daiquiri-ish without the booze. They turn extremely banana-y the longer you keep them, and they keep pretty well in a sealed container. No browning like I expected. They’re soft, even with the baking, but hold a cookie shape well. Keep them in until the coconut starts to toast. Necessary.

Inspiration: Grok Grub

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet or three with a SILPAT [greasing it or using wax paper, also options]. Add the bananas and coconut to a food processor and pulse until well combined. Use a cookie or ice cream scoop to get uniform balls of banana coconut mush and space them out evenly on the baking sheet. Press them down into cookie shapes. They won’t spread so keep that in mind. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges start to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan. They’ll set the longer they cool.

Italian Pulled Pork and Butter Bean Salad

I know the weather is changing the second I start to smell grapes when I come and go from the house. Our neighbor has a tree that likes to grow over our fence, and within its branches climbs a grape vine that produces a lot of grapes. A lot. I’m not sure what kind they are; I’m guessing something like concord. That’s what they smell like anyway. I haven’t tried eating them, but Roma has. Now that they’re getting ripe and full, they’re falling in the yard. It’s always a fun time trying to keep her from eating them.

Tis the season for the slow cooked, comforting meats I suppose. Isn’t that what fall is for? I’m not a pumpkin spice kind of girl, but I can get behinds pork roast slow cooked in a Dutch oven. Starbucks can’t do that. They’ll probably try soon now that I’ve said this. Gross.

How weird is it that I made the pork purely because I wanted an excuse to buy some butter beans? It was a pretty bizarre craving [even for me] that I’d been having for a few weeks, that was finally about to be satiated all in the name of a juicy, shredded pork. It’s usually navy, black, or garbanzo when I’m grabbing for beans, so butter beans were a nice change.

Inspiration: The Italian Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4-6lbs pork shoulder
  • 28oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 5oz arugula
  • 1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 300°. Mix the onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl before covering all sides of the pork shoulder. Put the pork shoulder into the Dutch oven. Pour the tomatoes over the top. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover the pot. Place in the oven for about 5-6 hours, turning it over about half way through. Start checking the shoulder for doneness at about 5 hours. If it falls apart with a fork, you’re done. Otherwise keep going. You can take the pork out of the pot and shred it on a cutting board if you prefer or just leave it in there and shred with forks. I’m a fan of leaving in all the vegetables with the cooked meat and letting it soak up all of the delicious tomato juice before serving. You can take them out if you want.

Toss the arugula and butter beans in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil and vinegar and toss to evenly distribute. I like to use my hands to make sure there isn’t a dry leaf. Serve on plates or bowls and top with the pulled pork.

Grilled Zucchini and Leek Salad

Another gem of a Bon Appétit salad. Simplicity at its finest, really. I hadn’t ever thought to grill a leek, but it makes perfect sense that it would be as delicious as it was. Grilled onions are awesome after all. After my anti-toasting confession, I went ahead and dry toasted the walnuts in this salad. Not only did they smell great, but mixing their warmth with the olive oil, lemon, and garlic was really quite heavenly.

It comes together almost unnecessarily quick since it’s just grill and slice. Sometimes that’s all I want to do. Spending more time slicing ingredients than eating is usually unfulfilling. I don’t get any sort of warm fuzzies doing it, unless I’m cooking for other people. I’ll gladly do it for you.

Inspiration: Bon Appétit

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, dark green parts removed, sliced in half length-wise
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced in half length-wise
  • 1/2 up flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped [remove any tough stems, unless you like eating grass]

Preparation

Preheat your grill to medium, or about 400°. In a large dry skillet, toast the walnuts on a medium-high heat. Stir them often so they don’t burn. They’ll darken in color and smell delicious when they’re done, which is about 5 minutes. In a bowl, toss the warm walnuts with three tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice, and garlic. Set aside.

Cover the leeks and zucchini in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Place them cut side down on the hot grill. Turn then often until char marks appear. The leek will finish faster than the zucchini. Be careful not to leave everything on too long so it wilts — 5-8 minutes for the leek and 8-10 minutes for the zucchini.

Remove everything to a cutting board. When it’s cool enough to handle, chop into bite sized pieces and add to your bowl with the walnuts and oil mixture. Add the parsley. Toss to combine. Serve with a liberal seasoning of salt and pepper.

Gai Pad Prik Gaeng [Chicken and Green Beans Stir Fried in Curry Paste]

It’s already been a year since visiting Asia. Time Hop has done a great job of reminding me, showing the photos and check-ins from the three weeks spent in Thailand and Cambodia. I thought I would need longer than a year to detox from the sensual assault that was Asia, but here I am already thinking about going back. The Thai food we’ve been eating is definitely stirring that desire a little more than normal. The Mark Wiens videos have been viewed again, and he’s been posting more recipes as well as reviews of restaurants. His video of this dish absolutely prompted its making. The Tom Yum soup is on deck at some point. It’s easy. It has to be if you’re going to make it quickly from a road-side cart. The key is getting your hands on the ingredients [kaffir lime leaves] or making them yourself [curry paste]. Well stocked “ethnic aisles” in the store or even straight-up Asian markets make this pretty dang easy. In a perfect world, I’d make my own curry paste, but it just wasn’t happening. The thing is with pre-made curry paste is salt. Holy hell is it salty. In a traditional curry, the coconut milk takes care of that sodium. In this dish, there is nothing to help tone that salt down. Tread lightly if you don’t make your own. Start low and then make up a batch of rice to help with what saltiness is left.

When you get that magical balance, it’s just freakin’ delicious. It comes together so quickly, which is perfect for hungry stomachs that just don’t want to wait. The smell of this as it cooks is so hunger inducing, you’ll be thankful it’s just a quick stir fry.

I didn’t go out of my way to find the Chinese long beans. Plain ol’ green beans will do. Frying an egg on top is optional, but let’s just call it necessary because it should be. Keep the fish sauce and sugar around. I started low when I stir fried it up, and then added more to my plate as I ate.

Inspiration: Eating Thai Food

Ingredients

  • 1/2-3/4lb chicken breast, diced into small pieces. Think small and then dice it smaller.
  • 1/2lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 2-3 tablespoons red curry paste [make your own]
  • 1-2 teaspoons fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon high heat oil [canola or coconut]
  • Rice and fried eggs for serving

Preparation

Add the tablespoon of oil to a large pan or wok on low heat. Toss in your curry paste and stir it into the oil so it soaks it up. Stir often so it doesn’t stick or burn and let it heat up and smell delicious. It’ll darken as it toasts up. It shouldn’t be longer than a minute. Turn the heat up on high and add the chicken. Stir often, coating the chicken in the curry paste. Add about a teaspoon and a half teaspoon of sugar to start. Cook for 2-3 minutes, adding a little bit of water if necessary because it can dry out. When the chicken is fully cooked, add the green beans and lime leaves. Remove from the heat after about 30 seconds so the green beans are still crisp.

Serve with rice and top with a fried egg.