Classic pork chop with a bit of spice

It’s been awhile since I’ve cooked a pork chop. Wonderful when cooked properly, dry and chewy if over-cooked. But quick and easy. I’ve added a bit more than the standard salt and pepper, but the result is great.

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4 pork chops, at least 1 inch thick

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 Tb ground cumin

1 Tb ground ginger

1 tsp ground allspice

salt and pepper to taste (approx. 1 tsp of each)

Mix all the spices and dry rub the pork chops. Let sit at least 30 min, ideally 4-6 h. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). In an oven-proof skillet, pan fry the pork chops on medium heat in a bit of oil, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork chops to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes, then serve. A reasonable amount of pork fat and juices will pool in the pan. Pour a bit over the meat just prior to serving.

Sweet potato, cabbage, and pecan (creamed) soup

This soup is sweet, nutty, and rich. The final addition of cream just before serving provides a smooth, creamy texture. The flavors are reminiscent of sweet potato pie, but there is no added sugar in this soup. All the sweetness is from the sweet potatoes and onions, offset by the cabbage and pecans. I served it with warmed bread from the oven. My girls enjoyed it.

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Ingredients

2 Tb oil

2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cut into bite-size pieces (I don’t bother peeling; extra minerals and flavor)

1 large brown onion, minced

1/4 green cabbage, shredded

2 cups pecans

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)

1 Tb ground cumin

1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, allspice, and mace

1/4 tsp black pepper

salt to taste (most stock will have salt, unless you make your own)

1 to 2 cups cream (depending on final consistency desired)

Saute the sweet potatoes, onion, cabbage, pecans, and garlic until the sweet potatoes start to brown and caramelise. Add the stock and spices, bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat, and cook for about 25-30 min. Using a hand blender, blend the mixture until smooth. While still blending, slowly add the cream until the desired consistency is achieved. Salt if needed.

Spinach, basil, grana and mixed nut pesto

May 17, 2014 1 comment

There is no pretty photo with this post. The photo is portioned pesto for freezing. But the pesto is great, freezes well, twaws easily, and comes in handy for quick and easy meals. My girls love pesto in pasta, and this pesto, packed with spinach, pecans, and walnuts, packs a healthy punch. Taken from the freezer, I put the frozen zip-bag in a bowl of hot water, and by the time the pasta is boiled, it’s ready to toss with the pasta. It’s that simple. Though I often add a few more things on the day. Want some meat? Fry up some chicken thigh. Add some broccoli, some minced green beans, the options are endless. The recipe is below.

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Ingredients

1 lb (1/2 kg) spinach

200-250 g (1/4 lb, 4 oz) fresh basil

8 cloves garlic (approx. 1/2 head)

125 g (3-4 oz) parmesan, grana padano

1/2 grated nutmeg (1 tsp approx.)

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 cups each whole pecans and walnuts

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tb salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. You will likely need to slowly add the spinach and basil, because of the whole leaf volume, but the processed product will fit into most large food processors. Once thoroughly blended, portion out the pesto into zip-bags or other storage containers, and freeze. I portioned out into 5 large portions (each amount was about 3/4 cup+), each enough to toss with 4-6 servings pasta. If you don’t want pasta, the pesto also works well as a chicken/seafood marinade, or a dip with bread, biscuits, cheese, etc.

Pickled chiles

May 2, 2014 1 comment

I posted a photo of fermenting chiles a while back on Instagram, and now want to follow up with the recipe and final pics of the product. I am so enjoying these pickled chiles. Almost a bit sweet and sour with a hint of garlic and a finish of good heat. I’ve used the pickle as a spread on sandwiches, to spice up nachos, and used in stir-fry. Between the chiles and the probiotics in this pickle, your GI system will love you.

The recipe is easy.

1 kg (2 lb) fresh chiles, stems removed (I used a mixture of long, red and green chiles, cayenne or similar)

2-3 cloves garlic

2 Tb sea salt

1 L (2 cups) apple cider vinegar

In a food processor, blend the chiles, garlic and salt until finely minced. Transfer to a large glass or other non-reactive container, cover, and let ferment at room temperature for 3 days. Add the vinegar, mix well, and leave at room temperature for at least 1 week. I left mine for 3 weeks, as the flavors will develop the longer you age the chiles. Once satisfied with the flavor, return the chile mix to the food processor and blend thoroughly. At this stage you can strain the liquid using a fine sieve for hot sauce, or what I did which was use the mixture as is. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

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Hickory smoked pulled pork shoulder with chunky BBQ sauce

April 28, 2014 Leave a comment

I have only had my Texas off-set smoker for a few weeks, and the weekends are the only time I have to devote the time required, so I’m on a learning curve. But having said that, I was very pleased with the outcome. I started with a boneless pork shoulder, skin on and weighing 2 kg (4 lb). I then made a dry rub with the following:

4 Tb salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tb ground cumin

1 Tb ground allspice

1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

I dry rubbed the pork shoulder and left overnight in the fridge. The next morning, I packed the smoke box of the smoker with hickory wood and kindling, set it alight, and let the fire cook down for about 2 h, until there was a substantial amount of smouldering chunks of wood and coal.  I then topped up the wood a bit, closed up the smoker and closed the flues somewhat to limit the burn of the wood and promote smoke. I then placed the pork shoulder in the main portion of the smoker, and smoked it uncovered for 4 h, maintaining the temperature around 100 C (210 F). I then wrapped the shoulder in baking paper and aluminum foil to limit moisture loss, and continued cooking for 3 h (my next try will be to cook uncovered for the full time to see the differences). After resting the pork for 1 h, I ‘pulled’ the pork apart with two forks. The pork was very moist but not dripping wet, very meaty and it had a nice smoke crust on the outside. My first meal with the pork was with fresh bavarian rye bread, a generous portion of pulled pork, and home-made chunky BBQ sauce, which was made with the following:

1/2 butter, unsalted

1 medium onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 small can (8 oz, 220 g) whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 Tb ground cumin

1 Tb dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1 Tb ground sweet paprika

1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp salt

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter for a few minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 1 h, until thickened.

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Broccoli quesadilla

April 25, 2014 Leave a comment

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You can put almost anything in a quesadilla and make it appealing. It is also a great way of making a quick meal when you have limited supplies in the fridge. So I always make sure I have tortillas and cheese on hand. On this occasion the fridge was pretty empty but I had broccoli. I sautéed the broccoli with a bit of onion and garlic and a splash of lemon, and cooked until just tender but still with bite. For the cheese I used a mixture of cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan. A simple and easy lunch!

Smashed potatoes (Aussie style?)

April 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Smashed potato? I had never heard of the phrase until recently. Supposedly it is an Australian thing? Now, twice-baked potatoes I know. I grew up with these. Larger potatoes, baked in the oven until tender, cut in half, innards scooped out and mixed with any combination of butter, sour cream, garlic, onions, chives, peppers, bacon, cheese, and spices, then baked a second time. Wonderful. But now back to the smashed potato. I first heard of the dish from my friend Gina, who has a great blog, every day fresh with gina brown. Of course, I am living in Australia and she is living on the other side of the earth where I grew up, yet she found a supposed Australian smashed potato recipe! Nevertheless, I did a bit of searching and found a number of recipes for smashed or ‘crash hot’ potatoes. Not all of them sounded great, unfortunately. The main hits on google came up with one, two, and three. All of the recipes included parboiling the potatoes before roasting. And the last one, from Poh’s kitchen, does not seem appealing at all. Sorry, not my style. I have nothing against parboiling before roasting, and use this method at times with wonderful results, but I wanted to do something simpler, and I reckon better for the dish in question.

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I used small desiree potatoes (about 10), and kept the skin on.  After a quick wash, dry the potatoes, rub with a bit of oil, and place on a baking sheet and bake at 180 C (350 F) for 20-30 min, until fork tender. Remove from the oven and smash the potatoes flat using a potato smasher. Using a mortar and pestle (or a spoon in a bowl), mix the following in a small bowl: 2 Tb oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper. Brush or spread the herb-oil mixture onto the smashed potatoes, sprinkle a bit of cheese (sharp cheddar, and/or mozzarella, parmesan), and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and the edges of the potatoes are beginning to crisp. These potatoes are good, and are great re-heated for breakfast, served with eggs.

 

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