May 27, 2011

Grilled Pork & Peppers Tacos

3 lb pork roast, cubed
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup lime juice
1 onion, thinly sliced into quarter moons
2 cubanelle peppers, sliced
3 serreno peppers, minced
1 tablespoon Hot Mexican chile powder
1 tablespoon hot paprika
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

to serve:
flour tortillas
sour cream
hot sauce

Place all ingredients in a marinating container or large resealable bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prep your grill using the indirect heating method. Place the food into a grill wok. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the pork is throughly cooked through.

Towards the end of the cooking time, add tortillas to the grill and breifly heat them through. I found it helpful to keep them warm in a tortilla holder until you are ready to eat.

My thoughts:
Welcome to the first Friday grilling post of the summer! Look for a new grilling recipe each Friday from now to Labor Day.

These were such great tacos, I tried over a few days to get a passable picture of them so I could share the recipe. Tacos are one of my least favorite things to photograph because they are so darn flat. But! These were truely awesome, tasty tacos I had to share. Matt ate so many he felt sick to his stomach afterwards but didn't care. That's how good they were! Luckily, they are as easy to make as they were tasty. The ingredient list is on the longish side but it is all easily found items and the sauce they end up making is amazing. Spicy but not terribly hot and incredibly flavorful. I used these great "uncooked" tortillas from Tortilla Land that I think cooked up better than any other tortilla I've made on the grill.

May 25, 2011

Seven Spice Deviled Eggs

3 hard-boiled eggs*
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Japanese seven spice powder (shichimi togarashi)
1/3 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/3 teaspoon mustard powder

Slice the eggs in half. Scoop out the yolks and set the whites aside. In a small bowl, mash the yolks with a potato masher. Add the vinegar, mustard powder and 7 spice powder. Beat with a fork until smooth. Spoon the yolk mixture into the whites. Sprinkle with additional 7 spice powder to garnish. Refrigerate leftovers up to 3 days.

*I boil them in a little “butter warmer” but any small pan will do; if they have too much room they knock into each other and crack.

My thoughts:
Growing up, I ate a fair amount of deviled eggs. My mom was a master lunch packer and packed my lunch all through school. She would create lunches that were made up of small amounts of many different foods: dip and celery, tuna salad and crackers, pickles, cheese, homemade baked goods, shrimp salad and occasionally, deviled eggs. She would stick the two halves together so the yolk didn’t smear and place it into a perfectly sized Tupperware container. She’d make one for herself and one for me as my picky brother and father were not interested. I work from home so I eat a lot of solo homemade lunches. Following my mom’s lead I make micro batches of deviled eggs for a snack, just 2 or three eggs at a time, once every other month or so.

Making a small batch of deviled eggs only takes a few minutes and a tiny amount of effort. If you are making a big batch you can use a blender or food processor to get a super silky textured yolk. That doesn’t really work for a small batch of eggs unless you have a very small mini chopper or food processor and then there is some yolk loss. After some experimenting, I worked out a technique that yields smooth yolks even in very small batches. I place the yolks into a very small bowl then smush them with a potato masher until they look fluffy and grainy. Then I add the wet ingredients (and spices if using) and beat the mixture against the side of the bowl with a fork until smooth. Of course you can double or even triple the recipe but three just right for a couple of lunches.

May 23, 2011

Gorgonzola Salad Dressing

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Whisk together all ingredients. Served over salad. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

My thoughts:
This recipe is the result of a reader who wanted to know if I had a recipe for a really chunky, thick blue cheese dressing. I didn't but I was happy to make one. Save time and use pre-crumbled Gorgonzola. Many grocery stores and cheese shops sell very good quality Gorgonzola already crumbled. Anyway, this dressing is really thick, nearly dip-like. If that isn't your thing, thin it out with a bit of buttermilk, milk or mayo.

May 20, 2011

Plum & Lemon Zest Jam

8 cups black plum chunks*
4 1/2-5 cups sugar
1 box powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest from two lemons


Prep jars/lids for canning. Place the plums into a large, heavy bottomed pan. Add the sugar,  lemon juice and zest. Bring to a boil, stirring and breaking up any big chunks (I used a potato masher) until it begins to reduce and thicken. Stir in the pectin. Continue cooking at a low (rolling) boil for 2-3 minutes or until it looks jammy. Fill the jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: 6-7 8-oz jars.

*I started off with about 2 lbs of whole plums.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
Canning, canning, canning. I am a bit worried this is turning into a serious addiction. I was overjoyed when my husband brought home jam jars (from a regular grocery store!!) because all of mine were....used up. Either half empty in the fridge, waiting in the canning cabinet or at the houses of people who were, if I may say so myself, lucky enough to be given a jar of whatever I made. And BTW, if you happen to have an empty jar of mine and would like to give it back, I would not turn it down! They are not cheap. Anyway, when faced with a bunch of plums I had bought when they were perhaps a bit underripe, all ripening at once, I quickly turned them into jam. It was actually one of the easier jams I've made. Not as easy as just dumping in whole blueberries but easier than de-seeding blackberries or supreming citrus. The pits popped out easily and the plums chopped up quickly. I just used regular old black plums but I am sure any variety of plum would work and there is probably some sort of plum that is especially good for canning out there that I am unaware of. I also used powdered pectin which I haven't had as much experience with and it worked just fine, the plums were really juicy but the jam set up just fine. It was also fun to work with plums because while I like them a whole lot, I normally just eat them out of hand and never do anything with them. I think this might be the first plum recipe I've posted.

May 16, 2011

Grilled Jam Glazed Chicken

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 oz orange jam
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 large onion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper

wood chips for smoking

Place all ingredients in a resealable bag or marinating container. Marinate at least 2 hours. Prep grill. Place the chips in a foil packet (poke holes in it) or in a smoker box. Grill, flipping once, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.

My thoughts:

I found this nonstick spray for grilling and I love it. It holds up to high/direct heat and while in the past I've oiled the rack, I've had problems with chicken sticking to the grill. The chicken did not stick at all when I used the spray. I'm going to stock up. In the meantime, this is some seriously juicy, tasty chicken.

May 14, 2011

Strawberry Thyme Jam

8 cups finely chopped, hulled strawberries*
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 box liquid pectin (both packets)
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest from one lemon
5 springs fresh English thyme


Prep jars/lids for canning. Stuff the thyme into a tea ball. Secure it to one side of a large, heavy bottomed pan. Add the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Bring to a boil, stirring and breaking up any big chunks with the back of a spoon until it begins to reduce and thicken. Use an immersion blender if necessary (my chunks were so small that this wasn't needed) to make a smoother jam. Stir in the pectin. Continue cooking at a low (rolling) boil for 2-3 minutes or until it looks jammy. Fill the jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: 6-7 8-oz jars.

*About 64 oz of strawberries.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts
Strawberries mean jam, right? At least these did. We just picked them up yesterday but we are headed out today and have a concert tomorrow night so I know I won't be using them in time. Finely dicing that many strawberries wasn't terribly difficult but it was made much easier (and faster!) by this awesome strawberry huller. I know some people are very anti single use gadgets and honestly, I got this for free in some goodie bag but it saved the day! Minimal fruit loss, minimal effort, perfect hulling every time even with the smaller berries. I am a convert. I know people use knives or even this method involving a drinking straw but that always takes forever and maybe I have feeble fingers but I end up wasting too much fruit. Which I don't mind too much when I am say, making a quick snack but when I am actually making something with them, I want the full berry! We just planted an herb garden so I had plenty of fresh, English thyme on hand. Which the guy selling it to us said was prettier and more fragrant than the French stuff, so that's what we have on hand. I had made some lovely strawberry-thyme cupcakes a few years back and have been waiting for an excuse to make something with that combination again. Luckily it did just as well in jam form as it did baked into cupcakes. Freshly herbal yet not overpowering. make sure you use the tea ball  or you will be fishing out molten bits of leaves. I tossed some lemon juice and zest in for good measure, it isn't lemon-y tasting exactly but there is a note of tartness there.

May 13, 2011

Mango Pineapple Coconut Salad

1 pineapple, cut into chunks
3 mangos, cubed
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup mint leaves

Toss all ingredients together. Let marinate for 30 minutes before serving.

My thoughts
Another recipe that is more than the sum of its parts. One of the things I love about my pineapple corer is that it not only makes perfect slices of pineapple but that it leaves the pineapple intact to use as a bowl. That really appeals to my kitschier side. Since the fruit is so juicy, it makes a lovely sauce all by itself just by sitting for a bit.

May 11, 2011

Asparagus Salad with Hard-Boiled Egg

1 1/2 lb steamed asparagus, cooled
2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely grated*
2 slices lean thick cut bacon, crumbled

for the dressing:
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Capote capers
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 tablespoon minced basil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Toss the bacon and asparagus in a bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Top with the eggs.

*I found the easiest way to do this is to grate the eggs not from the ends but on the sides.

My thoughts:
I was looking through some 1950s cookbooks awhile back and in one there was a recipe that featured asparagus topped with a creamy sauce and a fine sprinkle of hard-boiled egg yolk. It looked good in sort of a gross way. It was winter at the time so I mentally filed it away until asparagus was in season. I still can't bring myself to drown poor, innocent asparagus in a cream sauce so I switched that out for a light vinaigrette. To be truly healthy, leave out the bacon but it adds a great savory-salty not that went perfectly with the asparagus-egg combo.

May 09, 2011

Cel-Ray Citrus Flank Steak

2 lb flank steak
12 oz can Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda
1 lemon, sliced thinly
2 oranges, sliced thinly
dash hot sauce

Place all ingredients in a resealable bag or marinating container. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Prep outdoor or indoor grill. Grill until steak is of desired doneness. (Keep an eye on it, it easily can over cook) Cover in foil for a couple of minutes, slice and serve.

My thoughts:
A super quick easy recipe for today. I've made this both inside and outside and each time I am suprised by how much I liked it so I thought I'd share. It is slightly sweet and caramelized on the outside and the citrus flavor shines through. Plus, who doesn't want to find a new use for a celery flavored soda.

May 06, 2011

Melting Potatoes & Pearl Onions

1 lb peeled pearl onions
2 lb baby potatoes
2 strips crisp thick cut bacon, diced
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
freshly ground pepper


In a single layer, arrange all of the potatoes and onions into the bottom of a large, nonstick pan. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and partially cover with a lid. Continue to boil until the broth has evaporated some but the potatoes are still surrounded by broth up to the half way mark, about 20 minutes. Carefully use the back of a spoon to gently crack the skin of each of the potatoes. Raise the heat slightly and continue to cook until all of the broth has evaporated and the potatoes and onions have browned on the underside, about 10 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook the other side for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to sit about 2-3 minutes before removing the potatoes from the pan and serving.

My thoughts:
Pretty much my favorite way to make potatoes is fondant style. That is not a terribly popular way to prepare potatoes (at least in this country) but they are so good. They are tender from the broth and crispy at the same time. Win-win. I've simplified the (French!) process before but this time I added another favorite, pearl onions, for extra flavor. The onions and the potatoes caramelize so how could you go wrong? Impossible, I say! The easiest, tastiest side dish yet.

May 04, 2011

Dressed Up Egg & Cress

4 slices good quality white bread
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
handful of small leaf watercress

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Saucy Mama Dijon or Tarragon Lemon mustard
1/2 teaspoon tarragon vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the dressing. Spread on two slices of bread. Top with a layer of egg then the cress. Top with remaining bread slices.

My thoughts:
We watch a fair amount of British TV and have been amazed at the numbers of 1. sandwiches they seem to eat out of triangle shaped plastic wedges from corner shops and 2. how many of those sandwiches were egg and cress. Now, I don't like egg salad (odd, I know since my love of deviled eggs is well documented) but after hearing "egg and cress" so many times, it started to sound like something I had to eat. So I decided to make my own, slightly fancier, version that I would actually enjoy. Oddly, watercress has become nearly ubiquitous around here lately so it was easy to procure. I wasn't 100% sure that I'd like the sandwich but I really did! It was light and fresh tasty and had a great peppery bite from the watercress and tang from the mustard. A great addition to my sandwich repertoire.

May 02, 2011

White & Green Asparagus Tortelleni Salad

9 oz fresh (refrigerated) cheese tortellini
3/4 lb white asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
3/4 lb asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley
zest of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the tortellini. Towards the last few minutes of the cooking time, add the asparagus and peas and allow them to cook until all is tender. Drain, allow to cool at least slightly. Toss together with the onion. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the vegetables and pasta. Toss again. Serve cold or slightly warm.

My thoughts:
Asparagus continues to be readily available and delicious. This time, Matt came home with some white asparagus, which while more fussy (you have to peel it) is a tasty change of pace. It is sweeter and more tender than the green variety because it is grown without any exposure to light. Anyway! I used them both for this light, tasty and best of all, one pot side, dish. Perfect to accompany all those it is spring but not quite hot meals I've been having lately. I haven't made refrigerated tortellini very often but I really liked it in the salad, it was just as easy as regular pasta but it seemed more special somehow. I look forward to making this again!