Two heads are better than one…

20150321_002200517_iOS

When I braise my cabbage, I normally add fennel seeds, pancetta, and sherry to the mix and the result is perfect balance of flavors and tasty broth to sop up with crusty bread or pour over creamy German butterball potatoes. I do not happen to have any artisan bread or potatoes on hand today, however I do have some some thinly sliced pork cutlets and the feeling that I can produce a similar flavor profile. And that is where our recipe begins… More…

especially when they are both cabbage! That’s right, cabbage. This humble vegetable has gotten a bad rap, much like the Brussels sprout–maybe it is guilt-by-association. But regardless, the “act of boiling” is the guilty party–not the veg!

It was not that long ago that I made colcannon, which included a fair amount of cabbage, to serve with my husband’s homemade corned beef. While possibly not the healthiest side–for a moment–I believed that I could eat this concoction every day, for the rest of my life, and never tire of it. But logic kicked in and said, “That may be the case, but at some point, your expanding waist would become an actual tire.” Probably so, but it was a nice, all-be-it fleeting inter-dialogue.

But, back to the cabbage; sort of. Several years ago, I periodically frequented a restaurant that had iceberg lettuce wedges on its menu. I thought this insane. Personally, I can not image paying for this. Full disclosure: I do not use salad dressing so if the secret to this menu item’s success is in its accouterments; I apologize. But for me, this just seems like throwing money away. What I am trying to get to is that while this seemed a rather odd idea–the lettuce wedge that is–the idea of a cabbage wedge, does not. Why, you ask? Because…it is no longer a cold water-logged slice of salad slapped on a plate. It is a braised piece of cabbage that is seared on the stovetop, seasoned to perfection, and cooked until tender.

Strangely enough, this post is not about the cabbage wedge I just so lovely spoke of, but rather its brother: the cabbage steak. The reason being, if you recall, I used (and I quote) “a fair amount of cabbage” in my colcannon, but it turned out, not all of it. I was left with two center strips a little over an inch in height; each about the size of a hearty steak.

When I braise my cabbage, I normally add fennel seeds, pancetta, and sherry to the mix and the result is perfect balance of flavors and tasty broth to sop up with crusty bread or pour over creamy German butterball potatoes. I do not happen to have any artisan bread or potatoes on hand today, however I do have some some thinly sliced pork cutlets and the feeling that I can produce a similar flavor profile. And that is where our recipe begins…

20150321_002045215_iOS

Fennel-crusted Pork

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 thinly-sliced pork cutlets
  • fennel seeds to coat both sides of cutlets
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil to coat the fry pan

Cabbage Steaks

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 center sections of leftover savoy cabbage
  • knob of butter and olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp of fennel seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few splashed of sherry
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tsp of tarragon, minced

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Allow pork to get to room temp.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Salt, pepper, and fennel crust pork, and set aside.
  4. Make sure salt, pepper, fennel seeds, oil, sherry, and chick stock are within reach.
  5. Take cabbage out of fridge.

STEP ONE
Over medium heat, add a knob of butter and a bit of oil to oven-proof fry pan. Once melted, add cabbage. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once golden brown, on lower side, turn and brown on other side, taking care to salt and pepper top side. Remove from pan and set aside.

STEP TWO
In same pan, add oil and then port cutlets. Cook over medium heat until browned, approximately 2 minutes. Turn and cook other side until browned, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from pan, tent, and rest.

STEP THREE
Deglaze the same pan with a few splashes of sherry, scraping bits of goodness from the bottom. Add cabbage back in, add chicken stock to cover half way up the cabbage. Sprinkle fennel seeds over cabbage and into surrounding stock. Pop in the oven and cook until tender. Remove from oven, plate with pork, and garnish with tarragon and a week bit of the pan drippings.

COOK’S NOTES
If making again in the future, I would do a quick brine on the pork as the cutlets are so thin, they can easily dry out when cooking. Letting them get to room temp also aids keeping the meat moist as the meat does not have to heat up before starting to actually cook. And if you have any leftovers from this meal–chopped up–they make a savory addition to a breakfast scramble.

20150321_184013470_iOS

 

On the Frittata Fence?

pintrest

I know how you feel! Frittatas were never my thing. In fact, until recently, I had never even made one at home. If you don’t believe me, you can read more about my egg adventures by clicking here. But that has all changed. I have broadened my horizons, and become a frittata lover. And not just because they taste so good. They also happen to be a perfect meal-on-the-cheap. And while their main gig is brunch, they can stand in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! More…

I know how you feel!

Frittatas were never my thing. In fact, until recently, I had never even made one at home. If you don’t believe me, you can read more about my egg adventures by clicking here. But that has all changed. I have broadened my horizons, and become a frittata lover. And not just because they taste so good. They also happen to be a perfect meal-on-the-cheap. And while their main gig is brunch, they can stand in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

2

Yes, the humble frittata is extremely versatile–even in what you pair with it. You see, frittatas are the Garanimals of the food world. For every five or six eggs in your frittata, you simply mix and match about one cup of fillings and a handful of grated cheese–all based on your taste and what’s available in the fridge. Leftovers and eggs make for a really inexpensive culinary adventure. Every time I think I have found my favorite, I am surprised by a new combination and gobble it up with the excitement of a 1-year-old eating cake for the first time. I am not normally a second helping type of girl–just ask my husbandbut I now break that rule for frittatas (and Indian food, if I am being completely truthful)!

My favorite combo had been smoked ham with sauteed leeks and smoked Gruyere. But then a  few days ago, I made warm bacon, fennel, and Brussels sprouts over tagliatelle pasta with chicken liver alfredo sauce, which had leftover braised fennel and Brussels sprouts. I knew immediately that these veggies would play well with pancetta and, of course, smoked Gruyere. As luck would have it, our girls egg production has increased with the longer days, so six eggs was a drop in the basket.

Putting this light supper together was a snap. I simply cracked and whisked the eggs, added the accouterments, poured into a buttered fry pan, cooked over low heat until slightly giggly, and then popped in the oven until set. In the off chance you would like a more formal recipe, here it is:

Pancetta, Fennel, & Brussels Sprouts Frittata

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 or 6 free range eggs (depending on the size provided by your egg source)
  • 113 grams (4oz) of pancetta, precooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup (by volume) braised fennel & Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup(by volume) of grated smoked Gruyere
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • knob of butter

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Get leftover veg braise out to bring to room temp.
  3. Cook pancetta.
  4. Crack and whisk eggs.
  5. Grate cheese.
  6. Get out butter, and make sure salt and pepper are within reach.

STEP ONE
Heat 8″ non-stick fry pan over low to medium-low heat. Add butter. Once butter is melted, add veg to reheat.

STEP TWO
Add whisked eggs, most of the meat and cheese, salt, and pepper. Slowly cook the mixture; gently but constantly stirring, making sure to scrap sides of pan as you go. Continue to stir until slightly giggly.

STEP THREE
Once slightly giggly, pop in oven until just set; approximately 5 minutes, but really dependent on your oven and how well done you like your eggs. Do keep in mind that they will continue to cook from residual heat after being removed from the oven.

STEP FOUR
Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. At that point, you can run a spatula around the side of the pan and slip the frittata on to a cutting board to cut/portion. To serve, sprinkle a bit of the leftover pancetta and grated cheese on top of each slice.

Cook’s Notes
The addition of crusty grilled bread would be a nice complement at breakfast, while the grilled bread and a green salad would be satisfying lunch or dinner. I would also recommend that you try cooking for slightly less time than you think is appropriate. When the eggs are cooked to perfection, they are creamy; without being runny. But if you take the frittata out of the oven too late, the texture will become rubbery and lack the rich, velvety texture that makes this meal stand out.

Makes 4 servings.

4

Meal Menagerie: Starring Cauliflower

20150313_030345780_iOS

Every few weeks, we have a grocery standoff in my house. No one is interested in heading to the store, but we are all hungry. For the most part, when we do go grocery shopping, I plan the meals and make a detailed grocery list so that I do not have to frequent the store any more than necessary. This way of shopping helps keep down on wasted food, but does not lend itself to making meals up on the fly. So when we have a meal menagerie, where we have to put together a meal from what’s in the cupboard, it is a challenge akin to Chopped or Iron Chef except there is no time limit. More…

Every few weeks, we have a grocery standoff in my house. No one is interested in heading to the store, but we are all hungry. For the most part, when we do go grocery shopping, I plan the meals and make a detailed grocery list so that I do not have to frequent the store any more than necessary. This way of shopping helps keep down on wasted food, but does not lend itself to making meals up on the fly. So when we have a meal menagerie, where we have to put together a meal from what’s in the cupboard, it is a challenge akin to Chopped or Iron Chef except there is no time limit.

This week’s odd pairing consisted of orecchiette pasta, a head of cauliflower, a few slices of leftover bacon, Italian bread crumbs, and some herbs–nothing to outrageous. I put all the ingredients in front of me, trying to make sense of what to do. It started off simply enough. I decided to roast the cauliflower, but as I began to unwrap it, I changed my mind. I decided that I would fry up the bacon and then stir fry the cauliflower in the bacon drippings. But then I had an interesting thought. What if I took a potato peeler and shaved the cauliflower, and then braised those tender slivers in a pan with a knob of butter and some chicken stock? I decided it was worth investigating. It took a bit of work to shave the whole head, but was well worth it,  it looked like pristine albino truffles when I was done.

20150313_022321823_iOS

The rest of the meal came together rather easily and I was more than happy with the results. The orecchiette provided a nice toothsome quality that I have not found in other pastas; chewy yet somehow creamy. The cauliflower provided a sweetness, and by braising it, a small amount of sauce to stick to the pasta. The bread crumbs stood in for grated cheese. The bacon provided some guts and smoke. But what pulled it together were the herbs. They took what otherwise may have seemed a heavy dish and brightened it up; making my first bite of tonight’s meal menagerie enchanting! And as I watched my 9-year-old eat her entire bowl of pasta containing more than two servings of veg without arguing about it, I realized this dish was pure magic!

Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon, & Herbs

INGREDIENTS

  • 250 grams (8.8oz) of dried orecchiette
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • a knob of butter
  • chicken stock to almost cover cauliflower in pan
  • 4 sliced of smoked bacon
  • sprinkling of Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp of thyme, cut finely
  • 1 Tbsp of tarragon, cut finely
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp of salt for pasta water

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Cook bacon in the oven at 400 degrees until fully cooked.
  2. Fill large stock pot with water.
  3. Shave cauliflower.
  4. Get out butter, chicken stock,bacon, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper.
  5. Cut herbs finely.
  6. Slice cooked bacon into thin strips.

STEP ONE
Turn pasta water to high. Once boiling, add salt and dissolve. Cook according to package directions.

STEP TWO
Heat large fry pan over medium heat. Add butter. Once melted, add cauliflower. Once fully coated with butter, add chicken stock and simmer over low heat until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

STEP THREE
Using a spider/slotted spoon, add cooked pasta to cauliflower pan. Add bacon, a sprinkling of bread crumbs, and most of the herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

STEP FOUR
Serve in wide bowls, adding a bit more bread crumbs and herbs to garnish.

Makes 4 generous servings.

20150313_030345780_iOS

Po’ Boy with a Twist

20150310_201846256_iOS

Recently, I decided to introduce liver into my meal repertoire. And the first dish I made was a surprising success. I had decided the best way to present it for all to enjoy was to…well…disguise it. I made a medley of warm bacon, fennel, and Brussels sprouts over tagliatelle pasta with chicken liver alfredo sauce. It worked; the disguise, that is. But no one was saying that they now loved liver–they didn’t even know liver was in the sauce until I told them. It was at this point that I realized that I needed to push it a bit farther. I still had half a pound of liver to play with, so I decided it was time to hit the kitchen and find my inspiration. More…

Recently, I decided to introduce liver into my meal repertoire. And the first dish I made was a surprising success. I had decided the best way to present it for all to enjoy was to…well…disguise it. I made a medley of warm bacon, fennel, and Brussels sprouts over tagliatelle pasta with chicken liver alfredo sauce. It worked; the disguise, that is. But no one was saying that they now loved liver–they didn’t even know liver was in the sauce until I told them. It was at this point that I realized that I needed to push it a bit farther. I still had half a pound of liver to play with, so I decided it was time to hit the kitchen and find my inspiration.

As luck would have it, we had a few things in the cupboard that were screaming to be made, and from my earlier research seemed a match made in heaven. I pulled out some rocket rolls and an onion. I then turned to the fridge and pulled out some mushrooms and spinach. At this point, my vision was clear: a Liver Po’ Boy. I set about making it happen.

20150310_193751709_iOS

20150310_195325196_iOS

But before I spring the recipe on you, I have to tell you something in the spirit of full disclosure. This was the most painful meal I have ever made! No joke. Yes, the sauteed onions were perfectly caramelized, and the mushrooms plump and savory, with vibrant and perfectly-wilted spinach in addition to the main attraction having a delicate yet crispy crust with velvety interior. But the fact is, I burned the heck out of myself making the liver, and realized that I am not an expert on shallow pan frying. So be fair-warned, use a grease guard on this one! And maybe a glove. The grease spats like it’s pop rocks on the 4th of July–from beginning to end. So, if that didn’t put you off, here is the tasty, all-be-it dangerous, recipe in all its glory…

Liver Po’ Boy

INGREDIENTS

Filling

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 170 grams (6oz) of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • salt & pepper to taste

Liver

  • 227 grams (8oz) of liver
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper

Extras

  • enough oil to shallow fry livers
  • 4 rocket rolls
  • salad greens, if desired

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Clean, remove stems, and slice mushrooms. Peel and slice onions. Grab two handfuls of pre-washed spinach. Make sure salt and pepper are within reach.
  2. Prep liver by removing sinew and odd bits, and chopping into similar-sized pieces, no more than an inch in size.
  3. Measure out the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix together in medium-sized bowl.
  4. Get out a large fry pan to cook filling in, and deep fry pan to cook liver in, and slice rocket rolls. Remove excess bread so that there is enough room for mushrooms, onion, spinach, and liver.

STEP ONE
Place little liver pieces in bowl of flour dredge.

STEP TWO
Heat large fry pan over medium heat and add oil. Add mushrooms and onions. Add a pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook until soft. Add spinach, turn down to low, and cook until wilted.

STEP THREE
Gently drop dredged liver pieces into oil and fry, turning over if needed. Cook until crisp on both sides; approximately 4 minutes total. To confirm that the liver is cooked, simply take one piece out and cut into.

STEP FOUR
Assemble the po’ boys by adding filling, the liver pieces, and them more filling into each rocket roll. Place over bed of greens. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 4 generous servings.

20150310_201923454_iOS

Aunt Jemima On My Mind

20150315_200625941_iOS

I grew up in what may now be considered a large family. And most of us were not very culinarily (is that even a word?) adventurous. But one thing we could all agree on was Aunt Jemima’s Buckwheat Pancakes. If you have never had them; I feel sorry for you. Very, very sorry. You can’t even buy the mix now, or at least I was unable to find it in any grocery store or available online. I did however find plenty of strings of content from those of us who would love to buy a box of this mix; maybe even a case. More…

I grew up in what may now be considered a large family. And most of us were not very culinarily (is that even a word?) adventurous. But one thing we could all agree on was Aunt Jemima’s Buckwheat Pancakes. If you have never had them; I feel sorry for you. Very, very sorry. You can’t even buy the mix now, or at least I was unable to find it in any grocery store or available online. I did however find plenty of strings of content from those of us who would love to buy a box of this mix; maybe even a case.

I can remember my mom making us pancakes, and delightfully dancing around the kitchen as she cooked them, taking in the rich, earthy aroma as I spun. Eventually, my mom would shoo me into the dining room as I had become a distraction or worse, dumped something over, but I was happy to sit down knowing that the flapjacks were on their way. Interestingly enough, I do not recall having any other pancakes as child other than buckwheat pancakes. I am not sure if that is just my mind playing tricks on me or if my mom never made buttermilk pancakes. In either case, I did not feel deprived. As I sat in the dining room, patiently awaiting those golden brown discs, I prayed that I would get first dibs. You see, unlike many breakfast cakes or crepes in which the first batch is for the dog, the first buckwheat pancakes were always my favorite. They possessed a crisp, yet tender, ring around the edge of the sphere that is reminiscent of flaky pie crust or a deep-fried turnover but with an earthiness that neither pie crust or turnovers can deliver. Sadly, each batch thereafter, did not boast that crunchy edge.

20150315_200910018_iOS

Today, I found myself in the mood for a stack of this childhood favorite, but without the original mix, I had to fend for myself. I decided that trying to replicate Aunt Jemima’s was futile, so the next best thing was to put my own spin on this classic from my youth. My extremely smart husband had talked about adding chocolate milk to your standard pancake batter a few weeks ago. I filed that idea away for trying with buckwheat cakes as it theoretically seemed like a tasty match. As it turns out, it is in reality as well. The chocolate milk provided a hint of chocolate without overpowering the hearty flavor the buckwheat offers up.

I did learn a few things in creating this recipe. First, it needed a little more sugar than I used in the first batch. I assumed that by adding the chocolate milk, I would need little to no added sweetness. I was wrong. Second, while the taste was good, I would suggest letting the batter sit for at least fifteen minutes to a half hour after mixing until the bubbles have calmed down.

As you can see from this picture , the craters were a bit over the top using the unrested batter.

As you can see from this picture , the craters were a bit over the top using the unrested batter.

Once I let the batter rest, the cakes were less holey but still provided a thin, yet tender stack with my oh-so-sought-after edges!

Once I let the batter rest, the cakes were less holey but still provided a thin, yet tender stack with my oh-so-sought-after edges!

Auntie M’s (that’s me!) Flapjacks

INGREDIENTS

  • 140 grams buckwheat flour
  • 80 grams of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 16 oz chocolate milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla paste
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter for oiling griddle

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Measure out all ingredients.
  2. Get out accouterments such as syrup, yogurt, fruit, etc
  3. Preheat griddle to 325 degrees.

STEP ONE
Whisk all ingredients together. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes.

STEP TWO
Melt butter on griddle. Using a large ice cream scoop, pour batter onto griddle and cook until you can see bubbles throughout top of batter. Flip and cook on other side until done.

STEP THREE
Wipe down griddle and melt more butter (in hopes of getting the crispy edge again). Repeat step two until all batter is used.

STEP FOUR
Bring pancakes, accouterments, and plates to table. Serve and enjoy!

Makes approximately 24 5″ pancakes.

20150315_192108069_iOS

20150315_192727909_iOS

20150315_200641996_iOS

Food Find Friday: Crispy Onions

20141120_042401470_iOS

Have you ever had an epiphany that left you wanting to share it with the whole planet; to shout from the highest mountain or maybe click Share with the World on Facebook (if that option existed)? I have; in the form of an edible epiphanyMore…

Have you ever had an epiphany that left you wanting to share it with the whole planet; to shout from the highest mountain or maybe click Share with the World on Facebook (if that option existed)?

I have; in the form of an edible epiphanycrispy fried onions. Originally, I bought them for an Indian dish that I was making. The recipe called for these golden, crunchy toppings and said it was the only way to get an authentic depth of flavor in this Korma sauce. I had already tried several recipes in this particular book and was happy with the results, so I trusted that I needed to get these crispy onions if I wanted the recipe to turn out right.

Image from Amazon.com

Image from Amazon.com

I do not have an Asian store here on the island, so I had to purchase online. When the box arrived, as I started to open it, a sweet and savory scent tickled at my nose. By the time the box was completely open, the aroma was taunting me to open the contents inside. I submitted–and sliced open the top of the plastic bag holding in the cripsy tid bits of caramelized onion. I rushed over to the utensil drawer, grabbed a teaspoon, and experienced my first bite. It sort of hit me, the taste that is. It was strong, and meaty. There was a slight brininess that I was not expecting but still sweetly pleasing. I took another bite, and with that my head started spinning with all the ways that these little brown bits could be enjoyed–way beyond adding to my Indian sauce.

These fried onions could be put sprinkled over a salad, added to a sandwich, showered over rice, married with veg on a pizza, included in a stew or sauce, crushed for a breading on fish, artfully dropped atop soup, and my personal favorite, scooped up on a spoon and eaten straight.

If you have an Asian market near you, I highly recommend trying this tasty and versatile version of the onion. If you cannot find them, feel free to use this, or any other link on this page, to purchase through Amazon.com. And yes, I will get a few cents for your purchase, but that has no bearing on why I am sharing this product with you…I promise. I would be just as happy with you buying these golden fried onions in your neck of the woods, and supporting your local purveyor of global food.

20141120_042401470_iOS

PB & GF?

P1020408

In honor of my little peanut who just turned nine, I thought it only appropriate to share one of her favorite cookies of all time; classic peanut butter cookies. These old-fashioned chewy treats have been a staple in our house for years, but the recipe is by no means traditional. More…

In honor of my little peanut who just turned nine, I thought it only appropriate to share one of her favorite cookies of all time; classic peanut butter cookies. These old-fashioned chewy treats have been a staple in our house for years, but the recipe is by no means traditional. Our grandbaby also happened to spend the first six and a half years of her life on a gluten-free/dairy-free diet. During that time, I invested many hours in the kitchen reworking many of my recipes so that we could all eat the same food when she came for dinner, was visiting at brunch, or eating an after school snack. And this little nut also likes to bake, and cook, and eat. Between my desire to share the experience of making food and her desire to help, and ultimately eat, along with her dietary restrictions–we challenged each other. The results were so good that we still use many of the GF/DF recipes today; and she is no longer on the restricted diet!

P1020406

It turns out that many of the recipes I reworked are also pretty good for someone on a diabetic diet, or anyone watching their carb intake, as my preferred source of flour replacement is a combination of almond flour and coconut flour. Together, these flours offer a very low glycemic load and are pretty high in dietary fiber. I am not saying there is no sugar to be had, but the load ends up being much lower without the all-purpose flour. The recipe below makes 30 cookies that are 182 calories each with an estimated glycemic load of only 8. Pretty good for a moist, buttery Thai-inspired nibble! That reminds me, the thing that makes these biscuits alluring is an East-meets-West influence. The use of coconut oil ended up being pure genius–if you like a good Asian peanut sauce. The aroma in the kitchen while these babies are cooking is intoxicating.

P1020408

Thai Peanut Butter Cookies

INGREDIENTS

Wet Ingredients

  • 200 grams of coconut oil
  • 200 grams of baker’s sugar
  • 200 grams of brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 grams peanut butter

Dry Ingredients

  • 100 grams of almond flour
  • 100 grams of coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Measure out ingredients.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl.

STEP ONE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream fat, sugar, vanilla, and eggs together. Beat until smooth. Add peanut butter and beat again until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.

STEP TWO
Using a cookie scoop for uniform-sized cookies, place balls on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes or until desired doneness.

COOK’S NOTES:
This recipe was altered to be gluten and dairy free from a classic peanut butter cookie recipe written on lined notebook paper with years of peanut butter marks and vanilla extract stains that give away its age. I do not know where it came from, but I salute the original creator…whoever you are =)