Pork

Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Meat on a stick.  What’s not to like?  Bonus points for you all if you make your own pita bread to go with this.

Serves 4

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Pork Souvlaki

2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 red peppers, each cut into 1′ slices

2 Tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped (or 1 TBS dried)

2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 TBS dried)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients,  EXCEPT for pork and red pepper, in small bowl, mix well to combine.  Place cubed pork in ziplock bag and pour contents of bowl over pork in bag.  Massage bag to work marinade through the meat, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.  (don’t forget to put the bag in a bowl incase it springs a leak)

Assembly:  Toss red pepper with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Thread pork and red pepper cubes onto skewers.  Cook in a grill pan or bbq about 10 minutes, until cooked thru.  Cooking time will vary, depending on how hot your pan/bbq is.

Serve with Pita Bread and Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)

Tzatziki Sauce

1   6″ cucumber, peeled, seeds removed

1 cup greek yogurt (whole milk)

1 clove garlic, grated

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Grate cucumber and place in strainer.  Toss with a pinch of salt and let sit for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in small bowl.  Squeeze out as much water as possible from cucumbers and add them to the yogurt mixture.  Mix well and serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  1.  If using wooden skewers, soak 30 minutes before using.
  2. The first time I made this, I cut the pepper in half and grilled them separately.  Putting them on the skewers makes more sense.
  3. Tzatziki Sauce can be made 1 day ahead.

 

 

 

 

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Pork

Jerk Back Ribs

I recently found an article containing “11 rib recipes that we must make” this summer.   Really???  Who can resist such temptation!?  Certainly no one in this household.

11 recipes all so wonderful that my life could possibly be less than complete until I have tried each and every one?    Perhaps that is a bit extreme, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to be missing out on anything, especially when it is food related.

I sent Kevin to our local Sams Club for a gross of back ribs, which we separated into several weekly servings to prepare for this grand adventure.    After reading the list, we decided there were actually some we could live without trying and narrowed it down to 5.  Co-incidentally, the same number of portions we got from that enormous package of ribs.

This one happened to be first on the list.    Of course, there are a couple of tweaks to suit our tastes and what I had in the house: amber rum instead of dark, regular allspice instead of Authentic Jamaican, onions for scallions (they looked terrible at the market last week, and Habeneros for Scotch Bonnet (and fewer!), but basically, the recipe was made as written.   Click here for the link to the original recipe.

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Jerk Back Ribs

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground allspice

2 tablespoons amber rum

1 tablespoon lime juice

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 habanero peppers, stems removed

1/2 white onion, roughly chopped

4 racks baby back ribs

Put all ingredients except for ribs in a blender and puree until mostly smooth.  Place ribs in ziplock bag and pour in marinade.  Gently massage bag to be sure the ribs inside are well coated with marinade.   (See Cooks Note)  Place bag in bowl large enough to catch any leaks that may occur and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, line a sheet pan with foil and a baking rack.  Discard marinade left in bag. Place ribs on rack on tip of the foil, cover with more foil and seal securely.  Roast at 325F until tender,  2 – 2 1/2 hours.  Remove top foil and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, pour all pan drippings into a sauce pan, bring to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half.  About 10 minutes.  Let mixture cool.  Brush half of the reduced sauce over cooling ribs.

Heat grill to medium heat.  Grill ribs, flipping and basting often with remaining pan drippings until slightly charred and heated thru – 8 – 10 minutes.  Serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  •  It is best if you do not touch the marinade with your hands.  If you want to massage the marinade into each individual rack, wear rubber gloves!   This contains HOT peppers and  your hands will complain bitterly if you don’t.
  • Ribs and sauce can be cooked 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • If you want more spice in these, add a couple more habaneros to the marinade.

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Main Courses · Rice and Beans

Brown Rice and Black Beans with Chile-Ginger Salsa

I don’t make a lot of vegetarian dishes.  I was raised a meat and potatoes girl and I don’t see that changing soon.  However, this one caught my eye and I am glad it did.   I have made a few changes from the original recipe to suit our tastes and what could be found in the market.  When you make this, don’t skip the salsa part!  You only need a little dab, but without it, this would be just another bland bowl of rice and beans.

Start to finish, this will be done in about the time it takes to cook the rice.  This recipe makes a nice dinner for 2, with some rice left over.   It can easily be doubled.

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Brown Rice and Black Beans with Chile-Ginger Salsa

2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 large onion, chopped, divided

1 cup raw brown rice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, divided

1  15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 Anaheim, or Cubanel pepper, halved, seeds & stems removed

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

1 Tablespoon lime zest

1 avocado, halved, pitted and chopped

12 grape tomatoes,  halved, or 1 tomato, diced

2 radishes, thinly sliced

Rice:  Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in pot over medium heat.  Add 1/4 the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.  Do not let it brown.  Stir in rice and stir for another minute.  Add 2 cups water, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until rice is tender.  About 40 minutes.   Remove from heat and let stand, covered 10 minutes.  (See cooks notes)

While rice is cooking, make the beans and salsa.

Beans:  heat remaining tablespoon of oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add the rest of the onion, and cook stirring frequently until onion is soft – about 5 minutes.

Add cumin and coriander to onions, cook, stirring one minute until spices are fragrant.  Add beans and chicken stock.  Bring to boil, reduce  heat and simmer, mashing beans until thickened.  About 10 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Salsa:  Pulse chiles, garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice and last of the onion in a blender until a chunky sauce forms.   Taste and season with salt.  Pour into small serving dish.

Remove cover from rice, fluff with fork and stir in half of the cilantro.

Place rice in bowl, add beans and top with diced avocado, radishes and tomato.  Serve salsa and the remaining cilantro on the side.

COOKS NOTES:  Cooking instructions for rice are general.  For best results, check your package of rice and follow instructions on the package for amount of water and cooking times.

 

 

 

Chicken · Main Courses

Conquering Dinner for 1

 

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Piri Piri Chicken Thighs with Peanut Satay and Fried Plantain

Kevin has been away these past few days, and his absence has reminded that  while I love to cook, I don’t so much like cooking for 1.    Mostly, because it seems like a whole lot of effort for just me.   A psychologist may want to delve deeper into this thought; perhaps I feel I am unworthy of a healthy home cooked meal, but the reality is that I  enjoy the temporary freedom from meal planning and the need to have something more substantial than a sandwich or bowl of noodles on the table every night.

Which is why, in the past 2 weeks I have eaten Ramen Noodles for dinner at least 3 times!  Yikes, I do love ramen,  but I reluctantly had to admit last night that I had eaten too much of it for my own good.

So, I took a break from sloth and convenience, and actually cooked dinner for one.    It is obvious that my plating needs work, but aside from its lonely appearance on the plate, my one-pan dinner was extremely satisfying.

Peri Peri Chicken Thighs with Peanut-Lime Sauce and Fried Plantain

1 Tablespoon cooking oil, plus more for frying the plantains

4 chicken thighs

1 teaspoon Peri Peri spice blend (or more to taste, see cooks notes)

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice ( from about 1 large or 3 Mexican limes)

2 Tablespoons water

1 green plantain, cut into 1″ slices

Sour cream to top the fried plantains

sliced radishes

Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat.  Rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towel.  Sprinkle with Peri Peri spice on both sides and put in pan, skin side down.  Cook 15 minutes, then turn chicken over.   Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes more until thermometer inserted into centre of thigh reads 175.  Cooking time will vary, depending on size of the thighs.  Remove from pan to plate and tent with foil.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix peanut butter, lime juice and water together.  Mixture will seize at first, keep stirring until it becomes liquid and creamy again.  Add more water  by teaspoons if mixture it too thick.  It should be runny, but not soupy.  Set aside.

Put a paper towel on a clean plate and set aside.  Add more oil to pan to depth of 1/2 inch and heat over medium heat until shiny, but not smoking.   Using tongs, carefully place plantain slices flat in the oil.  Fry about 2 minutes and carefully turn over and cook 2 minutes more to brown the other side.   Remove from oil to paper towel lined plate.

Reduce heat under oil to low while you do this next step, and   work quickly.   Place the fried plantain pieces between 2 sheets of waxed paper and using a meat mallet or the flat bottom of a glass press gently to flatten each piece to a thickness of about  1/3 inch.  (Be gentle, you want to just squish them, so they will still be soft and chewy in the inside, not flatten them beyond recognition. )

Increase heat under oil, until it shimmers again, and with the tongs, gently place each flattened plantain in the oil and re-fry for about 3 minutes, until they are golden.   Remove from oil, back onto paper towel lined plate.

Put a smear of peanut butter sauce on the place, add chicken and plantains, some radishes or other fresh veggie on the side, a little sour cream for the plantains and you have a dinner for 1 ready in under an hour.

Bonus:  for me, the leftover chicken thighs are going into a chicken salad for tomorrow nights dinner.

COOKS NOTES  – depending on the brand of Peri Peri you have, and your personal taste, the amount you use will vary.  I used 1 teaspoon of Silk Road Inferno Peri Peri blend, for all 4 thighs and found it very tame so I sprinkled more onto the chicken after it was cooked.  Remember, you can always add spice, but you cant always take it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken

Za’atar Chicken Breasts

Stupidly simple.  Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend, made up mostly of thyme, oregano, marjoram and sesame seeds with a bit of citrus tossed in.  If you have trouble finding it,  just sub in poultry seasoning or thyme and toasted sesame seeds.  Not entirely the same, but who knows, you might come up with an even better blend.   The point here, is to try something just a tiny bit different on those predictable ‘same old’ chicken breasts.

Za’atar Chicken Breasts

Serves 2

2 boneless, skin on, chicken breasts

salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 1/2 Tablespoons Za’atar

Heat oil in heavy frying pan over medium heat.  Pat chicken breasts dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.   Add to frying pan , skin side down and cook until , 6 – 10 minutes (depending on thickness of breasts), until sides of chicken start to turn white and become opaque.  Turn breasts over, lower heat, partially cover pan and continue cooking another 6 – 10 minutes.

Sprinkle Za’atar seasoning over both sides of  breasts and cook another minute.  (a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast should read 170F).  Remove from pan, set on plate and tent with foil.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes.  This finishes the cook on the meat and prevents all the juice  from running right out the second you cut into it.  Failing to rest any meat will result in  a flavourless, rubbery mass, so have patience and let it rest.  Mix yourself a dinner cocktail , set the table, toss the salad or  pay a bill on line, while you wait.  Just be sure to wait!!

Chicken

Oriental Chicken Sandwich

It seems very strange to be posting a recipe for a sandwich, but hey, people are actually publishing whole cook books based on the subject so I guess it isn’t that far out of the park.    And, besides, summer is here which means most of us will be looking to spend less time in front of the stove and more time enjoying the great outdoors!

But, as much as we want cool  and convenient, we still want flavour.  This sandwich will give you both.

 

Serves 2

Banh mi sandwich topping

Oriental Chicken Sandwich

3 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 carrot, shredded

3 radishes, shredded

1 cup finely sliced lettuce

thinly sliced red onion (about 2 rings, separated)

5 fresh basil leaves, shredded

2 cups shredded chicken, either rotisserie or left over from last nights bbq

1  baguette or small french loaf, halved lengthwise

mayonnaise

Whisk rice vinegar, oil sugar, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl, combine carrot,  radishes, lettuce, onion and basil.  Pour dressing over, toss and let stand 10 minutes while you shred the chicken and assemble the sandwiches.

Spread mayo over cut sides of bread, top bottom half with the shredded chicken then the tossed veggies.   Add the top half of the bread and enjoy!

Chicken · Main Courses

One Pot Chicken and Rice

I like this dish because it has a short list of ingredients which I usually have on hand and there is only 1 pot to wash up.   It also tastes fantastic.   The short simmer time makes this good  for weeknight dinners, and tasty enough for a casual dinner with friends.  Add some good bread, a nice salad, maybe some wine….

Serves 4

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One Pot Chicken and Rice

4 chicken thighs with legs attached

1 teaspoon salt  (divided)

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (divided)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 cup long grain white rice

1 3/4 cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 1/2 cups peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse and pat chicken dry.   Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy deep skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken,  on both sides, about 10 minutes total.  Use tongs to transfer chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoon fat from skillet.   Cook onion and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add rice and almonds and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add stock, water and tumeric and bring to a full boil. Nestle chicken in rice, keeping as much rice around (rather than under) chicken as possible.   Pour any juices from plate into the pan.   Cover tightly and simmer, over very low heat until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender and most liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.   Remove from heat and stir in peas.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and then lid and let stand until all of liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle cilantro over top and serve.

 

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