Good-for-You Super Green Pilaf with Fresh Breakfast Sausage

Mmmmm…. fresh sausage…..

Good-for-You Super Green Pilaf with Fresh Breakfast Sausage

Adapted from Food52’s One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

2 c. salted water

1 c. washed quinoa

8 oz. chopped kale

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 orange, juiced

2 scallions, minced

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

3 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts

1/4 c. Feta cheese

Big pinch red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper to taste

2 2 oz. patties fresh breakfast sausage, cooked

Bring the water to boil in a covered steep-sided pan. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until just simmering. Simmer 10 mins., top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer 5 minutes more, turn off the heat, and stem an additional 5 mins. or until the kale is just tender and the water is absorbed.

While your quinoa is cooking, combine the lemon and orange juices in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, scallions, oil, pine nuts, red pepper flakes and feta.

Add the pilaf to the bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt & pepper to taste and serve topped with a 2 oz. patty of fresh breakfast sausage.

Serves 2 for dinner with enough left over for lunch.

Grits & Greens

So tasty I almost forgot to take a picture

Grits & Greens

1 onion, halved & sliced thin
1 pint sweet mini peppers, sliced
1 head collards, washed, de-stemmed & sliced
1 tsp. Hungarian hot paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground chipotle
1/4 c. Water
1 c. Good quality tomato sauce
Batons of cooked bacon
1/2 c. Yellow grits
2 c. Mixed water & milk
Splash balsamic vinegar

Sautée onions and peppers over medium until very soft and starting to caramelize. Add 1/2 of the tomato sauce, collards, spices & salt & pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally 2 mins or until well incorporated. Add water and cook, stirring occasionally and adding tomato sauce when the mixture looks too dry, 15 mins. Or until collards are softened and look done. Add remaining sauce and vinegar, taste for seasoning and adjust.

While the greens are cooking, make the grits. Over high heat, combine milk and grits with 1/2 tsp. Salt in a saucepan. Whisk continuously until the mixture comes to a boil. Cover and reduce eat to a simmer. Simmer 5 mins.

Serve immediately.

Canadian? Bacon — Charcutepalooza Challenge #4

I’ve always wondered what made Canadian bacon Canadian. Is it that Canadians don’t know how to make real bacon? Does it have something to do with Virginia and hams? was it originally a marketing ploy by McDonalds? How many degrees away is this from Kevin Bacon?

You don’t know either? Let us then take a culinary detour of sorts to discover the real roots of this bacon.

Canadian, aka back bacon or Irish bacon isn’t Canadian at all. Not really. It’s more of a Canadian-English-American hybrid super bacon.

Canadian bacon comes from the lean pork loin, which is located in the middle of the back. It is then brined and smoked.

According to Kitchen Project, this type of savory pork was most likely dubbed “Canadian” by marketers in the United Kingdom who took to importing pork from Canada to deal with a shortage in the mid 1800s.

This imported bacon was prepared Canadian-style (unsmoked and brined) and rolled in ground yellow split peas (or some other form of fine yellow meal) to aid with preservation. In Canada, this type of cured bacon is still common in parts and is called Peameal bacon.

When the English got their porcine packages, they added smoke and didn’t bother to change the name. Emigrating bacon lovers brought the new concoction to the States and Canadian bacon as we know it was born. Isn’t globalization great?

Mmmmm…. pork loin…..

This slab o’ pork wasn’t nearly as hard to find as the pork belly. My friendly neighborhood butcher at Laurenzo’s Italian Market had it on hand and was more than happy to hand me the tastiest looking roughly 3 lb. pork loin in the case.

Since this preparation is all about the smoke, I broke down and purchased a stovetop smoker (Camerons large from Amazon). The smoker is compact, looks easy-to-use and presents as a neat silver self-contained package.

Ok, so I forgot to take a nice beauty shot of the smoker before it got not so nice looking but smoky.

The brine for this preparation was simple; just tons of water, Kosher salt, pink salt, table sugar, garlic, thyme and sage.

Ever feel like a serial meat drowner?

I popped the loin in, waited 2 days, took it out, wiped it off and slapped it on a tray to air cure in the fridge for a few days.

All brined up and nowhere to go
Ok, so it has somewhere to go…

And then my smoker finally came in from Amazon, and we were off!

 

 

 

 

Alder chips/dust for smoking

 

 

 

 

The lid didn’t quite sit perfectly over the hump of meat, so I wrapped the smoker in foil

I smoked my pork centered on one burner over medium with Alder chips for a couple of hours. It smoked the house out a bit, but not unbearably so (keep in mind that smoke is sticky and if you don’t want your kitchen and/or house to smell like someone’s been cooking bacon for a week, make sure to clean anywhere the smoke could have gotten thoroughly).

Deeply smoky pork exterior
Smoky but not quite so baconed interior

The final product was meh. Not terrible, not great. The outer portion on the outside of the fat cap looks and tastes like Canadian Bacon, but the inside looks and tastes like a pork roast. A deeply smoky pork roast at that. I think where I went wrong was the nice thick pork loin. Had I used one of the thinner loins, I think it would have turned out just right. Live and learn.

I’ve been racking my brains trying to think of a new vehicle in which to premiere the Canadian Bacon, but to no avail. I tossed a handful in with some greens and a fried egg, and it was not my favorite. Entirely edible, but I liked the dish sans smoke better.

I’m thinking maybe a soup. Maybe even the split pea soup my DH has been begging for for months will do this “bacon” justice.

Split Pea Soup

A Much Better Use of Canadian Bacon–Split Pea Soup
Adapted from Split Pea Soup with Country Ham from one of my favorite food blogs, Orangette

6 oz. fresh Canadian Bacon, cubed
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 c. dried split peas
8 c. water
Cap full of apple cider vinegar
Salt & white pepper to taste
Olive oil
Crusty bread (optional)

Add1 Tbsp. olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. After the oil heats up, add the bacon and cook, stirring, until starting to brown.

Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring to avoid burning, until the vegetables are tender but not browned (roughly 10 minutes).

Add the split peas and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook 90 minutes to 2 hours or until the peas have broken down.

Taste, add the vinegar if the taste needs punch; salt & pepper to taste.

I covered the pot while cooking and the resulting soup was more watery than I like. So, I grabbed my slotted spoon and got to work separating the bacon from the vegetables and excess liquid.

If you want a more refined-looking soup at this point, let the soup cool a bit and blend the vegetables and desired amount of liquid until smooth, add back to the pot along with the reserved bacon and heat through to serve.

Serve with a nice swirl of olive oil to finish and thick slabs of crusty bread for sopping.

Serves 1 hungry deprived husband for dinner with enough left over for you too, if you don’t get too close.

Canadian? Bacon — Charcutepalooza Challenge # on Punk Domestics

Greens with Eggs

Ignore the pork

When James Oseland names a dish his favorite over the past year, I tend to sit up and take notice. I don’t know about being my favorite, but this dish was a pleaser. Ignore the ham in the photo above. This shot was taken with the leftovers, which I foolishly added home-cured Canadian Bacon to. I shouldn’t have. This dish was absolutely great without it, and the smokiness ruined it the second time around. The original version also didn’t call for heirloom tomatoes, but I had a bunch on hand with no plans so I threw them in. I happen to love tomatoes cooked like this, so I liked them. If you do not, or if you don’t have any on hand, feel free to omit.

Greens with Eggs
Adapted from Wild Greens with Fried Eggs (Horta me Avga Tiganita) from Saveur

Extra virgin olive oil
5 scallions, minced
8 oz. cut n clean seasonal cooking greens
1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 c. mint leaves, chopped
1/4 c. fennel fronds, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs per person
Double handful heirloom cherry tomatoes
Crusty bread, sliced on a bias and toasted (optional)

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook for 4 minutes, until soft. add the greens, parsley, mint, fennel, garlic, tomatoes and 1/2 c. water; salt & pepper to taste. Cook, stirring as needed, until the greens are tender and tomatoes have softened and split, 10-15 mins.

In a medium pan, heat a turn and a half around the pan of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Crack your eggs (1 person’s at a time) into the skillet and fry by constantly spooning hot oil over the yolks until the yolks are just set, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to de-grease and then onto your greens to serve. Serve with crusty bread.

My first batch of eggs I cooked a little longer than the second, and I actually enjoyed that more. The eggs were still a little runny, and the whites were nice and fried. Cook as you like.

Serves 2

Thrown Together Simple Tomato Pasta

After capturing the tomatoes for posterity, I threw together this quick and simple lunch

After stopping to photograph the heirloom tomatoes for posterity, I threw this quick pasta together for lunch in under 10 minutes.

1 Serving rice noodles

Olive Oil

Double handful tomatoes

1 clove garlic

1 handful parsley

Big pinch red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper to taste

Take 1 serving thin angel hair-style rice noodles, place in a medium pot. Add cold water until half full, place on burner on High. Cook according to package directions (approx. 3 mins.) drain.

While you’re waiting for the pasta to cook, slice 1 clove garlic super thin and chop 1 handful parsley. Rinse a double handful tomatoes.

Over medium-high heat, bring 1 Tbsp. olive oil up to just shimmering; add garlic and stir. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until tomato skins begin to split and garlic is deeply golden (but not burnt!)

When pasta is done, add it to the pan, salt & pepper to taste and add a shot of olive oil if the mixture looks dry. Add parsley and a pinch red pepper flakes. Toss to combine and serve.

Serves 1 for lunch.

Black Sesame Walnut Noodles

Rabbit poo? Nope. Black sesame seeds, which play a starring role in today’s recipe.

This dish is adapted from Heidi Swanson’s recipe for Black Sesame Otsu from her upcoming book, Super Natural Everyday. If you haven’t visited her food blog (101 Cookbooks) before, go. She is one of my favorite healthy food recipe authors and I can’t wait to get my hands on her new book.

This dish is everything you want in a Spring dinner–nice and light-tasting, not too heavy and packed with green leafy goodness. The only change I would make next time would be adding more cayenne. 2 big pinches just wasn’t enough for us.

Now on to the goodness that is a bowl of Japanese noodles.

Black Sesame Walnut Noodles

1/2 c. walnuts, shelled
1/2 c. black sesame seeds (note: these will end up looking like coffee grounds. If that bothers you, use white sesame seeds)
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. shoyu
1 1/2 tsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. rice (sushi) vinegar
2 big pinches cayenne pepper
12 oz. soba noodles
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
Handful Chinese chives, chopped (optional)

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan over medium-high heat until they begin to release their aroma and are lightly toasted. Don’t forget to shake the pan regularly to avoid burnt spots. Add the sesame seeds and toast for only a minute or so, until they smell toasted. Be careful not to over-toast!

Transfer the nuts to a mortar & pestle or bowl of a food processor. Crush until the mixture looks like black sand. Add the sugar, shoe, miring, sesame oil, vinegar and cayenne. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning.

Wash and slice your chard into thin ribbons.

When the water is boiling, add the soba and cook according to package directions until tender (about 3 minutes). In the last minute or so of cooking, add the chard and stir.

When your noodles are tender and the chard is nicely cooked, drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.

Reserve some of the sesame paste and the chives for a garnish. Scoop the rest into a large mixing bowl and thin with 1/3 c. of the reserved cooking liquid to form a sauce.

Add everything else to the bowl and toss until combined. Serve topped with the reserved sesame paste and chives.

Serves 2 for dinner, with enough left over for a nice lunch.

Pickle Me Pink Salad

Wondering what to do with all the pickled beets you just made? Well so was I, so I whipped up a little light salad to use up some CSA veggies.

Pickle Me Pink Salad

Oh no she didn’t go there; that recipe title is terrible! Ok, so I’m a dork, so sue me ;p

1 c. bulgur wheat
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. broken walnuts
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 grapefruit
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 bunch spinach, washed & chopped
3 oz. goat cheese crumbles
3/4 c. sliced pickled beets
1/4 c. + 2 tsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper

Add bulgur to 2 1/2 c. boiling water, turn off the heat, slap on a lid and let sit for 30 mins.

In the meantime, slice garlic wafer thin and add to a pan on medium heat with 2 tsp. olive oil. Sautee until golden and crisp. Set aside and wipe the pan.

Put the pan back over medium heat and add walnuts. Toast in a dry pan until starting to color and smell sweet. Add maple syrup and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the syrup has evaporated. Remove immediately to a dish to cool fully.

In a large bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 grapefruit, dijon mustard and 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil. Salt & pepper to taste.

Add the bulgur (drain if it is a little wet), chopped spinach, goat cheese crumbles and sliced pickled beets to the dressing. Stir & serve.

Makes a nice healthy meal for 2, with enough left over for lunch the next day.

What to do with a box of vegetables: CSA box #3

2011 CSA Box 3

8 oz. local Florida strawberries

6 oz. blueberries

5 fair trade bananas

2 local Florida ruby pink grapefruit

2 small butternut squash

4 yellow onions

8 yukon gold potatoes

3 small heads broccoli

1 head cauliflower

3 medium and 2 small red beet roots

5 oz. bagged spring mix salad greens

2 hass avocados

3 roma tomatoes

1 bunch rainbow chard

How I Used My Share

  • One of the grapefruit supremed in a big salad with the spring mix, crisped bacon, shredded fontina cheese, half the container of blueberries and a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes with a grapefruit whole-grain mustard vinaigrette.
  • The other grapefruit with the avocados in a chicken and bulgur salad with fennel.
  • Four of the potatoes diced as hash browns as breakfast for dinner with home made bacon, leeks and eggs.
  • Cauliflower in a barley salad with almonds and capers.
  • Tomatoes roasted for a slow-roasted tomato jam.
  • Chard and half the onions in a barley and split pea soup.
  • The other half of the onions in a slow-cooked bacon jam.
  • Most of the fruit I ate out of hand.

I pickled the beets because I am desperately looking for more ways to make them not taste like dirt and my father tells me often they are the very best way to eat them. They are pickling as I am typing. I’m skeptical, but we shall see.

Left over: Butternut squash, four potatoes, broccoli

My Favorite Recipe From This Box

Eggs & Hash Browns With Fried Eggs and Leeks

My Favorite Recipe Not Shared Previously

Barley and Split Pea Soup with Chard
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

This soup is light and healthy tasting while still being satisfying. I ate this for dinner and then again for 2 days for lunch, and it got better with each meal.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onions
1 1/2 c. chopped carrots
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsp. cumin
10 c. chicken or vegetable broth (my favorite is Better Than Bouillon goo mixed with water)
2/3 c. pearl barley
14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used San Marazano)
2/3 c. split peas
1 bunch Swiss Chard, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh dill (don’t skip this ingredient, it brought a great unexpected taste to the party)

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté until the onions are golden brown and delicious, roughly 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Mix in the cumin and cook, stirring, until it releases its scent, about 1 minute. Add the broth and barley and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes (with juice) and the split peas, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes until the barley and peas are tender.

Add the chard, cover, and simmer roughly 5 minutes until the chard is tender. Stir in the dill and season with salt & pepper to taste.

1 Year Ago

8 oz. local Florida strawberries
6 oz. blueberries
7 valencia oranges
1 kent mango
1 huge lime
5 jalapenos
2 heads garlic from Argentina
2 Haas avocados
1 bunch cilantro
2 huge local Florida roma tomatoes
2 jumbo red onions
scallions
2 ears local Florida bi-color corn
1 bunch local Florida lactino kale
1 head romaine lettuce
3 heads broccoli
2 large russet potatoes

What I made: Ginger Fried Rice, Thai Black Rice Salad, Cilantro Lime Rice, Stir-Fried Kale & Broccoli, Carnitas Tacos, Jalapeno Salsa, Broccoli & Chicken Stir-Fry, Lemon Smashed Potatoes

2011 CSA Box 1

2011 CSA Box 2