One of the items in the produce department that is of great interest is Chinese green beans. That's probably not the official name of this vegetable, but its delicious. Each bean is approximately 12 to 16 inches in length. All you do is cut each one up in the lengths that you want and prepare them the same ways you prepare regular green beans. They are slender like the French style green beans and are indistinguishable in flavor. The preparation presented here is a sesame stir fry with bacon chunks, shallots, and fresh ginger. Preparation is very easy to assemble and cooking time takes only minutes. Here's what you'll need:
1/2 pound of Chinese green beans, cut into 3 inch lengths
1/2 pound of bacon chunks (bacon strips sliced in 1 inch strips)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 medium shallots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, julienned thinly
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
salt and pepper to taste
It is preferable to use a wok if you have one. Otherwise, use a large saute pan. Heat the sesame and vegetable oil over medium high heat. Once hot, saute the bacon chunks until they begin to get browned. I much prefer to use chunks of bacon. You can take and chop it up in smaller pieces. Ask your butcher to prepare them for you. Many times you can find a few packages in the meat section next to the pork and chicken. They are usually chunks that would otherwise be thrown away, but you'll be amazed as to how much more meat there is than regular bacon.
Once bacon is beginning to brown, add the shallots, garlic, and fresh ginger. Continue to saute, stirring frequently. After a few minutes, add the beans and stir until all ingredients are well blended together. Add your salt and pepper to taste, and continue to saute, reducing heat to medium, for about 5 or 6 minutes. Add about 3 tablespoons of water, stir, and lower heat to low. Continue to simmer for a few more minutes. Right before finished, sprinkle a tablespoon of oyster sauce and stir. Finally, sprinkle the sesame seeds over the dish and serve and present in the wok. Serve hot with a side of steamed white rice or noodles.
1 Tenderloin of Pork (about 1.5 lbs)
1/4 lb of fresh Dungeness Crab
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1/4 cup of capers
1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup of roasted bread crumbs
1/4 cup of grated Gruyere or Parm cheese
salt and pepper (as we go along)
1/4 cup of cream
1/4 cup of water
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Let's first start by preparing our crab stuffing. In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Saute the garlic and shallots for a few minutes. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper and stir in the bread crumbs. Finally, add the water, stir so that everything is well blended, and transfer all to a small mixing bowl.
In the mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and butter. Mix very well until a nice paste is formed. Add 1/2 of the capers, the parsley, and stir thoroughly. Now add the cheese and crab and stir gently so as not to break down the crab too much. You want to be able to have some chunks of crab stay whole. Set the mixture aside and prepare your tenderloin for stuffing.
Begin by cutting 6 pieces of cooking string, each about 10 inches long. Now, lay your tenderloin on a cutting board and using a sharp knife make a cut down the center of the entire length but don't cut all the way through. Leave about 1/4 inch between the knife and the cutting board. You'll now have 2 halves that are still connected at the bottom. About 1/4 inch from the bottom, cut into the meat down the entire length on each half, making sure not to cut all the way through the side. You got me so far? Your knife should be cutting horizontally. Now you have 4 quarters, still connected together. Do this one more time and open your tenderloin so that it becomes a flat sheet of meat. You may at this time use a mallet and very gently pound it so that it has a smooth surface.
You are now ready to stuff your roast. Start by sprinkling salt and pepper on the meat. Next, using a soup spoon, place your stuffing in a line down the length of the center of the meat, leaving about an inch on each end bare. Take those two ends and fold them in like you would a burrito and fold the length of the meat together so that one side overlaps the other. Now begin to tie your roast up by sliding each string under the meat and tying each string to keep the roast from opening up. You don't need to tie it too tight, just enough to keep it from splitting apart and having the stuffing squeeze out.
Set your oven to 400 (200c). Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium high heat. When oil just begins to smoke, add the roast carefully and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side to nicely brown the meat. Transfer the pan into the oven and bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, set the roast on a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. REMEMBER THE HANDLE WILL BE EXTREMELY NOT, so use mitts. While resting, heat up the pan drippings and add the remaining capers and the cream. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, salt and pepper to taste, then shut heat off.
Carve your roast into 1 1/2 inch slices and pour a bit of the sauce over each slice. You may serve this with steamed rice, baby white potatoes, or your favorite green vegetable. Add a bit of the sauce over your side dish as well. Enjoy. This whole dish from start to finish does not take more than an hour to prepare so don't fear that you'll be stuck in the kitchen (although your guests will think so). You will love the flavors !!!
Anyway, I digress. This week I decided to try figs with pork. I chose the tenderloin cut since I consider figs a luxurious and exotic fruit and the two would be very happy together in a pan... LOL. I was right. This dish turned out so incredibly good that I want to live next to an orchard so as to have an endless supply of them. So easy to prepare and yet so "gourmet" in appearance and flavor, you will certainly want to try it out on your loved one. Tonight, mine happened to have been my Mom. Whoever your loved one is, be sure to serve this dish under candle light because, well, just because. Without further dissertation, here is what you will need:
1 Tenderloin of Pork, about 1 1/2 lbs.
5 medium fresh Figs, sliced in halves
1 1/4 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon of fresh minced Tarragon
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
2 teaspoons of crushed garlic
2 teaspoons of minced fresh parsley
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste and for the meat (keep shakers handy)
Start by gathering all your ingredients together and as usual, make sure everything is minced, measured, and chopped. I can't say enough how prep work makes cooking so easy!
Pat your tenderloin with a paper towel so that it's dry and has no excess moisture. This will make your meat brown much nicer. Now cut it in two halves, salt and pepper it liberally and set aside for a minute. Preheat your oven to 400 (200c).
In a medium size oven safe pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until the oil smokes, usually a few minutes. You want your pan and oil hot to get a nice browning crust around the meat. Now saute each Pork Tenderloin half approximately 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Cut one of the tablespoons of butter in half and place on top of each piece of meat after you have sauteed for the 5 minute period. Place the pan in the oven uncovered and let cook for approximately 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, set oven to broil and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. USING OVEN MITTS, remove the pan and place it on the stove top burner you were using and transfer the tenderloin to a plate, placing a foil wrap loosely over it to stay warm.
Turn stove top burner to medium high and saute the shallots and garlic in the same pan with the pan drippings for about 5 minutes. Next, add the wine and bring to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Once boiling begins, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook uncovered for about 10 minutes to burn the alcohol out and to reduce the liquid by half. Now add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the sauce and stir until completely melted. The sauce should begin to thicken a bit.
Continuing to cook, reduce heat to low and add the tomato paste and stir so paste is well blended into the sauce. Add the tarragon, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste and add the figs. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally and turning the figs over to coat them completely. Turn off heat, stir in the parsley, and let pan set. While sauce is setting, take your tenderloin and slice 1/2 inch thick slices. Place a small spoonful of the sauce in the middle of each dinner plate and then place 3 slices per person. Finish by placing a fig half on top and a couple on the side of each meat serving and drizle some sauce over the meat.
As a side dish, you notice that wedges of Russet potatoes were used. This was simple to prepare. Use 3 small Russet potatoes and peel them. Cut them in half and cut each half in thirds. About one minute before you place your pan in the oven, add the potatoes around the Pork Tenderloin and allow to saute a bit. Then do as instructed above and place the pan in a 400 degree oven.
This truly is a wonderful dinner, full of savory flavors. The potatoes will be perfectly cooked, just lightly browned and puffy. The tenderloin is absolutely moist and cooked to just below medium with a very light pink in the center, perfect doneness for this cut of meat. Enjoy and let me know what you think !
1 cup of Black Japonica Rice
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspsoon of butter
6 oz. of coconut milk (170 ml)
1 red bell pepper, sliced and chopped
1 green Italian pepper, sliced and chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, minced
3 pinches of red chili flakes
1 level teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of crushed black pepper
Heat the sesame oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. When butter is melted and begins to foam, add the uncooked rice and stir, bringing heat to medium high. Continue to stir for about a minute or so to toast rice. Now add your water, stir and bring to a boil. When boiling occurs, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook covered for about 40 min at low heat.
While rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. When oil begins to smoke slightly, add the peppers, shallots, and ginger, and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. When peppers begin to brown, reduce heat to medium low and add the coconut milk and stir. Bring heat to low and add the remaining ingredients (crushed garlic, red chili flakes, salt, and pepper) and stir to blend everything together. Cover and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once rice is cooked, drain any excess water there may be and add rice to the pan with the peppers and sauce. Stir so rice is completely coated. Taste for flavor and add more salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot. This is a delicious side dish that can be served with pan fried chicken strips or your favorite seafood, or you can eat it all by itself. Enjoy!
Having forgotten to take something out of the freezer, the second choice was to find something out of the pantry (which consists of 2 small shelves in the cupboard above the kitchen sink). Don't laugh, you would be amazed how much can be packed in an area not much larger than 2 carry on bags! Well, as it turns out, the pantry was the right place to start. I found a bag of French style lentils that was begging to be prepared in a way that I had not yet created. The Mexican Paella posted not long ago was a hit and it was time that lentils had their day South of the Border. And so that is the story of this recipe, which turned out wonderful I might add. It's very simple to make and with the exception of one or two ingredients, most of the other ingredients are probably loafing around in your pantry and fridge. Here's what we need:
1 1/2 cups of French style lentils (they keep their shape better when cooking)
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of water
4 oz. (100 gm) of chorizo (Mexican or Spanish) sliced thin
5 Tomatillos (medium, cut in quarters)
2 Tomatoes (medium, cut in halves, then sliced)
2 cups of fresh green beans, cut in halves
8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 shallots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 large red bell peppers, chopped
1/4 cup of parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of Cumin
1 teaspoon of fresh chopped Tarragon
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of salt + 2 pinches
1 teaspoon of black pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil
A few drops of Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon of colorante (see below - only if you have some)
A word about colorante. It is a substitute for Saffron. It comes in powder form, yellow-orange in color, and much less expensive than Saffron. It adds a nice color to your dish and I think it adds an extra layer of flavor albeit very subtle. Nowdays, you can probably find it in ethnic food stores and even the Asian supermarkets that are springing up everywhere in the States. If you're in Mexico, Central and South America, or Europe, you should find it easily available. I recently found some at one of the Asian markets that sell foods and spices from all over the world. If you can't find it, go ahead and use a few Saffron strands.
As usual, please do all your prep work before you start cooking. It will make it much easier on you. Also, don't fear the "long" list of ingredients for this recipe. Most of it consists of spices that are so integral to this dish. Now that you have everything ready and together, it's time to cook.
Start by getting a large pan that is a good 3 inches deep and pour 1/2 of the olive oil. Heat the oil over medium high heat and saute your chorizo until it is beginning to brown. Remove the chorizo and set aside. Do not discard the oil. When chorizo has cooled a bit, use a sharp knife and chop each slice into rough pieces.
In the same pan, now at medium heat, saute the garlic, onion, and shallots until they become translucent. Next, add the red peppers, stir and continue to saute for about 5 minutes. Add the lentils and stir well so that they are well coated. If you need more oil, you can now add the other half of it. Saute for a few minutes.
Next, add your remaining vegetables and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Saute another couple of minutes and add your liquid, bringing heat back up to medium high. Return the chorizo to the pan and add all your spices, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. You should have have all your ingredients in the pan.
Bring to a boil, stir well, and cover, reducing heat to medium low. Continue to cook for 30 minutes, returning for a final stir about half way through (15 minutes). When done, lentils should be cooked through just past al dente and still retain their shape. Stir one last time, remove from stove and keep covered for about 10 minutes so that remaining juices can be absorbed.
You can serve this in a dress up way or casual, as the pictures show. Dressed up, gather a few metal molds that look more like cookie cutters. Set molds on a cookie sheet and fill them, making sure to pat the lentils down with a spoon. Fill to about 1/4 inch below top rim of mold and fill remaining quarter inch with a Mexican blend grated cheese and set under the broiler for about 6 minutes or until cheese bubbles. Remove them from the oven and let set for a few minutes. Then, using a spatula, transfer them to a dinner plate, run a thin, sharp knife around the rim and carefully lift the mold.
The ingredients are as follows for a group of 4:
5 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes
4 fresh eggs
2 nice handfuls of French style green beans
2 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic
3 tablespoons of fresh Tarragon, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of anchovy paste (or 2 anchovies, crush)
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground pepper
salt to taste, but start with 1/2 teaspoon
3 tablespoons of capers
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of white balsamic vinegar (or rice vinegar)
Start by bringing a pot of water to boiling. Add the potatoes (unpeeled) and boil until you can stick a fork in and there's little or no resistance, usually about 20 minutes or so. Remove the potatoes but leave the water in the pot boiling. Let the potatoes sit for a few minutes until they have cooled slightly and can be handled without getting burned. They should peel very easy. Leave whole for now.
In the pot of boiling water, add your eggs and boil until they are between soft boiled and hard boiled. This can be a hit or miss but I have found that it takes no more than 4 to 5 minutes. You want to leave a bit of the yolk soft so that it will mix with the potatoes and dressing. When they have boiled, immediately take them out of the water and transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Again, leave the water boiling.
Now add the green beans in the same pot and boil for about 4 minutes until they are just al dente and still bright green. Remove them and transfer to a bowl of cold water so they don't continue to cook. Now you can dump the boiling water, it's no longer needed.
Cut the potatoes in halves and set them in a large bowl. Next, add the beans and capers. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, add the ingredients for your dressing. Start with the anchovy paste, salt, pepper, garlic, and basil. Don't be afraid of the use of anchovy paste. Your dressing and salad will not have a fishy flavor whatsoever. You may actually place all these ingredients in a mortar and crush them all together until a nice paste has been achieved. Now add the Dijon mustard and vinegar, mixing the ingredients well with a spoon. While stirring, slowly add the olive oil until it is well incorporated. You may add a bit more olive oil than stated if you wish, there's no harm. I usually add a bit more.
Once all is well blended together, pour it into the bowl with the potatoes and green beans. With your hands, gently mix all the ingredients together until everything is coated with the dressing. Shell your eggs and cut them in halves. The yolk should have a thick creamy consistency and some of it should be harder. Add them to the salad and very carefully toss with your hands again.
Finally, add the fresh tarragon and give one brief last toss before serving. There you go. That's all there is to it. For some it may seem like this is complicated or laborious. Rest assured it couldn't be further from the truth. This salad is very easy to make and oh so wonderful to eat. Serve as a side dish with your favorite meat or fish. You can even serve over a leaf of bib lettuce for a nice presentation. As a topper, cut a few more tarragon leaves and sprinkle over the top. Enjoy. We all did!
1 Large punch bowl
1 bag of ice
1 gallon of low pulp orange juice
2 bottles of champagne
1 1/2 to 2 cups of vodka
1 cup of orange brandy (or mix of orange liquor and brandy)
1/3 cup of grenadine
2 large oranges, sliced
Start by filling the punch bowl half way with ice. Next, add your vodka and orange brandy. Stir the ice around. Now add the champagne, pour the orange juice carefully, and finally drizzle the grenadine into the bowl, allowing it to sink to the bottom.
Finally, arrange some of the orange slices around the rim of the bowl and lay the remaining slices in the bowl. Serve and enjoy this quenching punch. It is and has always been a hit at holiday gatherings and this quantity will respectfully serve 8 to 10 party goers. Have extra on hand in case you need it or depending on the size of your party. The 4th of July was very festive! As always, please, if you're going to drink do it sensibly and never get behind the wheel and have a designated driver at all times.
2 cans of chick peas (also called garbanzo beans), save 1/4 cup of the juices
2 garlic bulbs, roasted (see directions below)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (alternatively you may use tahini)
Juice from one fresh lemon
1/4 teaspoon of white finely ground pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (hot or mild, your choice)
1 teaspoon of pimentos (for garnish)
1 teaspoon of capers (for garnish)
flat leaf parsley (for garnish)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (medium hot)
First, preheat your oven to 400. Place garlic bulbs unpeeled, directly on the middle oven rack and roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour until cloves are nice and soft. Don't short the roasting time because you want the garlic to be "creamy" when blended.
While garlic is roasting, drain the beans, remembering to save 1/4 cup of the liquid. Set liquid aside. Combine beans, olive oil, sesame seeds, lemon juice, and all the dry spices in a food processor. Add 1/2 of the liquid from your beans. Pulse process for about 1 minute until beans become smooth and ingredients are well blended. Next, add the Dijon mustard and pulse for another 10 seconds or so. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse process another 30 seconds. If you need more moisture, add the remaining liquid from the beans. Leave mixture sitting in the bowl until garlic is ready.
Once garlic is well roasted, peel and partially mash cloves before adding them to the hummus. Now pulse the mixture with the garlic once last time for about 20 seconds and give it a taste for flavor. It should be perfectly seasoned; however, if you like it a bit saltier, add a couple more pinches of salt and pluse for 5 seconds more. It's all to personal taste. If you like it a bit spicy, you can even add 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes, but it's probably not necessary.
Transfer to a nice clay bowl for a casual get together, or go crazy elegant with a crystal dish. Place the parsley in the center of the bowl and carefully place the pimento on top of the parsley so as to make a flower. Place the capers in a circular position around the parsley. And there you have it, ready for your most discriminating guests, sure to gobble this up like there's no tomorrow. Serve with your favorite dipping bread or crackers and enjoy.
Many thanks to Gabriel, who captured my attention with this recipe.
Bringing in the taste of Mexico is a perfect marriage for Paella. Mexican chorizo, tomatillos, and spicy green chilies simply sets sail the Paella that made culinary Spain famous across the Atlantic to become Mexican Paella that everyone is sure to embrace every bit as much as its famous cousin. So without further dissertation, let's begin with our shopping list.
Enough to feed 6 people:
2 lbs of chicken wings
1 pound of shelled and cleaned medium shrimp
1 pound of Mexican chorizo, medium heat, sliced in 1/2 inch thickness
2 pounds of fresh Manila clams in shell
1 1/2 cups of short grain rice (Bomba is best)
2 medium sized tomatillos, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, diced
1 small green chili, finely diced (2 if you're brave)
2 medium shallots, diced
1 1/2 cup of frozen baby peas
2 cups of fresh green beans, cut in 1 inch sizes
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of Tequila
1 teaspoon of paprika (smoked if possible)
1 cup of diced tomato
1/4 teaspoon of red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of Saffron threads
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt (to taste, so taste before)
The best way not to make this dish labor intensive or complicated, let alone intimidating, it is best, as always, to do all your prep work ahead of time so that all you have to concentrate on is the cooking. Trust me, it works very well that way. So start gathering all your ingredients in their proper amounts, wash, soak, slice, chop, and dice. You're now halfway there. In a very large pan (either paella pan 14" or large oval dutch oven ) heat the olive oil over medium heat. The oil should completely cover the pan. If it doesn't, just add a bit more.
Start by sauteing the chorizo until they are slightly browned and the oil has taken on a shade of the color of the chorizo. Remove the chorizo and now brown your chicken wings for a few minutes. Remove and set alongside the chorizo. If the oil gets too hot, simply turn down the heat slightly.
Next, saute in the same pan, the onion, garlic, diced chili,, and shallots until they become translucent and begin to slightly brown. Once this occurs, add the Tequila and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Stir well so that Tequila gets absorbed completely by the onions. Now, add the tomatillos and the rice. Stir well so that rice gets well coated. Allow the rice to saute for no more than a minute or so. Now you can add the chicken stock but save 1/2 cup to heat up separately for the saffron threads. Stir well and add the green beans, paprika, diced tomato, black pepper, salt, and chili powder.
While you await the stock to come to a slow boil, heat the chicken stock you set aside in the microwave and add the saffron threads. Allow them to completely bleed into the stock. Add to the rest of your stock. When chicken stock begins to boil, add the chorizo and chicken back into the pot, bring back to a aboil, and then reduce heat to low and cover for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, add the peas, clams, and shrimp, carefully immersing the clams into the rice and broth. Cover again and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes. When finished, there should possibly be a small amount of liquid left, which is totally fine. Remove from heat and allow to rest semi covered for about 10 minutes. This will allow the rice to complete its absorption of the liquid and you will have a perfectly moist but firm rice.
Present the Mexican Paella in the dish it was cooked in so that it will remain hot. Your guests will be impressed with your culinary prowess and melt in their seats when they savour the first bite. And you won't have to tell them how easy it was to make. Enjoy!