Category Archives: Dinner

Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce


Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

About a month ago we decided it was finally time to cook the gigantic 16lb pork shoulder we have had in our freezer ever since we bought our last hog (hint: almost a year now).  Rather than eat leftovers for weeks we decided to throw a party where the centerpiece was a huge brined and smoked hunk of pork.  Doesn’t that sound like the best centerpiece ever?

The Simple Ingredients

The pork was pretty amazing on its own.  However, we are sauce people at heart.  Marc has been known to whip up a batch of his favorite Thai peanut sauce and pour it over just enough rice to make it appear as if he is not eating only sauce.  The problem with commercial bbq sauces is that they tend to be loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup and light on things like tomatoes and spices.  So we figured we had best make our own. Besides, if we are going to spend 11 hours smoking fresh pork, why would we let someone else add the final touch in the form of a sauce?

Onions and Garlic in the Pan

Turns out that this project was really pretty simple.  As a matter of fact, we already had all of the ingredients in the house, no shopping necessary.  Gently saute some onion and garlic in oil, add all of the ingredients, simmer 15 minutes and it’s pretty much done.  A final whiz in the blender to make a nice smooth sauce and it was ready to go.  So easy… why haven’t we done this in the past?

Simmer Simmer

Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

Adapted from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (70 grams) chopped onion

1 tbls (18 grams) chopped garlic

1 tbls (15 ml) vegetable oil

1/2 cup (25 ml) cider vinegar

1/2 cup (125 ml) Worcestershire sauce

1 tbls (4 grams) dry mustard powder

2 tablespoons (26 grams) dark brown sugar

2 tbls (16 grams) paprika

1 tbls (15 grams) kosher salt

1 tsp (3 grams) cayenne pepper

1 cup (250 ml) catsup (we like Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup because it actually tastes like tomatoes, you could substitute the same volume of tomato puree if you would like)

To Make:

Start with a medium sized heavy bottom sauce pan and heat the vegetable oil (or use olive oil if you want that flavor as part of your sauce). Add the onion and garlic and gently saute until soft but not browned.

Add in the cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, dark brown sugar, paprika, kosher salt and cayenne pepper.  Stir the ingredients together and bring to a gentle simmer.  Add in the catsup, return to a simmer and set your timer for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking to the bottom of  the pan.

After 15 minutes of simmering, remove the pan from the heat and allow to slightly cool before blending.  Using a blender, puree the mixture until smooth.  Please, please, please be careful blending hot or warm liquids.  The steam builds up and can cause the sauce to splatter all over, creating both a mess and potentially burning you.  To avoid this, puree in small batches and remove the top from the blender lid to allow the excess steam to be released.

To Serve:

This is a nice, slightly tangy bbq sauce that is great on meats of all kinds (especially smoked ones!).  It would also make a great base for a bbq chicken pizza (like this one). Makes about 2 cups and stores up to a week or so in the fridge.

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Filed under Add-ons, Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

There is a Korean restaurant near where we live that we visit whenever we get the chance.  They make a kimchi pancake that is fantastic; even the small Things love it.  The only problem is that when we get takeout, the kimchi pancake is cold and slightly soggy by the time we get it home.  The idea of my beloved kimchi pancake cold and soggy makes me sad… so we decided to try our hand at a home version.

Ingredients

Ingredients

These vegetable pancakes make a pretty nice substitute.  They have the flavor of the different vegetables and the use of rice flour makes them nice and light.  Even better, the batter comes together very quickly so you can have these on the table in less than 20 minutes.  They make an excellent side to Korean-style ramen noodle soup or to some beef and broccoli.

Pancake batter

Pancake batter

If you wanted to make these more like traditional kimchi pancakes, you could increase the kimchi to two cups, substitute 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup liquid from the kimchi, and omit the carrot, scallion, and cilantro.  You could also add some cooked and shredded pork to make these more hearty.

Cooking the cake

Cooking the cake

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rice flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbls neutral oil, such as peanut or canola

5 scallions, green parts only, finely diced

1 tbls fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 large carrot

1 cup kimchi

To Make:

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, eggs, 1 tbls oil and 1-1/2 cups water until a smooth batter is formed.  Let the batter rest while the veggies are prepped.

To prep the vegetables, coarsely grate the carrot and finely chop the scallions and kimchi.  Chop the cilantro.  Once the vegetables and cilantro are ready, add them to the batter and stir gently until just combined.  The batter will be thick, like pancake batter.

Heat a griddle or large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.  When hot, ladle a quarter cup of batter and spread it out into a circle.  Cook until the bottom is browned (turn down the heat to medium if needed).  Flip and cook the second side until it is lightly browned, about another 5 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

As the pancakes finish, remove them and, if necessary, store on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm, cut into triangles.  Dip in a sauce made with soy, rice vinegar, and a bit of sesame oil

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-free, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

It feels like we have been gone for a long, long time.  The winter has overtaken us… beat us into submission and stolen our kitchen creativity.  Sometimes, I dream about vegetables (that aren’t roots) and days when we can pick blueberries and eat fresh tomatoes.  Plus, things have been mighty busy around the wicked whisk household.  Of course, all of these thoughts are really just excuses for not blogging lately.  There are still plenty of delicious winter cooking options out there.

Local pork chops

Local pork chops

Take this dish, a slow braise of local pork and in-season cabbage.  Braising is a wonderful winter cooking technique.   Since you are in the house for long periods of time, you don’t mind having the oven on and cooking something for hours.  Meats get so tender that they practically melt in your mouth.  Most of the cooking work is done at the beginning. And braising is very forgiving.  If something simmers for an extra 20 minutes, it’s only going to be more delicious.  It helps build in a little buffer for the spouse that leaves the office late or gets caught in traffic on the way home.

Cabbage and the flavor

Cabbage and the flavor

Pork chops and cabbage are a wonderful, soul warming pairing.  The chops are browned first to give them a nice depth of flavor.  The cabbage is cooked with wine, mustard seeds, and fennel seeds before the two components are simmered together to let their flavors mingle.  While the pork chops are resting, the cabbage is finished with some heavy cream. You will be disappointed when there are no leftovers.

Browned chops

Browned chops

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Adapted from All About Braising

Ingredients:

2 thick cut pork chops, about 2 1/4 lbs total

all-purpose flour, for dredging

3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbls butter

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

2 medium shallots

1/2 small head green cabbage

1/2 cup dry white wine

2/3 cup water

1 tbls cider vinegar

1 small chicken bouillon cube, crushed

1/4 cup heavy cream

To Make:

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge each chop in flour, tapping to knock off the excess.  Add the extra-virgin olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven(with a lid) that has been heated on the stove top over medium high heat.  Brown the pork chops for 4 minutes on each side.  Remove the pork chops to a plate.  Add in the butter and wait until melted.  Add in the caraway seeds and mustard seeds.  The mustard seeds will pop everywhere, be careful!  Stir frequently for about 1 minute while dodging the flying mustard seeds.  Add in the shallot and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add in the white wine and boil for a few minutes.  Add in the cabbage cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.  The cabbage should be wilted, but not completely limp.

Add the water, the bouillon cube, and the cider vinegar.  Stir until everything is combined.  Place the browned pork chops on top of the cabbage, pouring in any juices that have accumulated on the plate.  Put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat until the liquid gently simmers. Let it cook for 30 minutes, turning once, or until the pork chops are cooked through.

Remove the pork chops to either a cutting board or their final destination plates.  Cover with foil so they stay warm while they rest.  Stir in the cream and boil for about 5 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve immediately.  Serves about 4.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Vegetables

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

Wait, please don’t run away.  I realize that the title of this post might not rouse tons of enthusiasm and that the soup isn’t the most appetizing color.  BUT, hang with me for a few minutes because this soup is fantastic… full of roasted delicious flavor and easy to make.  It is warm and filling which, if you leave in any of the 49 states in the US that currently have at least a little snow (yes, I am jealous of you, FL), makes it a perfect soup for a winter evening.

Cauliflower ready for the oven

Cauliflower ready for the oven

The particular color of the soup is because we let our cauliflower get nice and roasted.  If you choose to roast your cauliflower to a less, er, caramelized state, your soup would be more white than tan.  However, looks aside, the taste of richly browned cauliflower mixes with roasted garlic, wine, and cheddar cheese in a really fantastic way.

Richly roasted

Richly roasted

Other than roasting the cauliflower (which takes about 40 minutes), this soup is very quick to put together.  If you are pressed for time, you can roast your veggies in advance and pop them in the fridge.  Once you are ready to make the soup, it only takes about 20 minutes of (largely unattended) time.  We used an inexpensive riesling for the wine but you could use whatever type of white wine you have on hand (or omit the wine and use extra stock).  Feel free to add a little cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes if you like a little heat or use fresh herbs if you’ve got them.  Really, have a little fun with this soup… It is rich tasting, simple, and satisfying, especially when you are looking at 2 feet of snow in your driveway!

Cheesy goodness

Cheesy goodness

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Recipe adapted from the Tasty Kitchen Blog

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower

3 large cloves of garlic (or 6 smaller cloves) peeled and cut in half

2 tbls olive oil

3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock

1/2 cup white wine

1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbls chopped fresh thyme)

1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbls chopped fresh oregano)

1 and 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Make:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Chop the cauliflower into florets, discarding the core.  Place the cauliflower and halved garlic in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss with your hands until well combined and spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Put the sheet into the oven and roast, turning once, until the cauliflower is caramelized and is fork-tender, about 40-50 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and about two cups of the stock to a large saucepan or stock pot.  Using an immersion blender, blend until the cauliflower is smooth and creamy.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can do this in batches in a regular blender.  Just be careful that the steam doesn’t cause a blender explosion in your kitchen.  Add the rest of the stock, the wine, and the dried herbs and bring to a gentle boil (make sure you add the puree back to the pot if you are using a regular blender).  Turn the heat down and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Remove the soup from the heat and add the grated cheese, stirring until completely melted.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

To Serve:

Serve immediately with some good bread for dipping.  Serves 4.  The cauliflower can be roasted ahead of time and held in the fridge for up to a few days.  Just heat it with the stock a little before pureeing.

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Soup, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Honey-Glazed Beans

Honey-Glazed Beans

Honey-Glazed Beans

T-minus 12 days and counting until Thanksgiving.  We are hosting this year for the first time ever.  It is exciting but also a little nerve wracking.  Even with all the cooking we do, the idea of putting a big spread together and serving everything perfectly cooked and timed is somewhat overwhelming.  To help ease the stress, we try to plan a meal that has lots forgiving dishes.  Those that take very little minding while they are cooking and that provide a lot of flexibility for serving.

Dried Pinot Beans

Dried Pinot Beans

These beans meet both of those criteria, with the additional benefit of offering a unique twist on classic baked beans.  The honey flavor comes through loud and clear in this dish, making it immediately obvious that you are dealing with something just a little bit different.  Like all good bean dishes, these cook long and slow and need very little help from the chef.

Honey and Maple Syrup

Honey and Maple Syrup

The beans cook in a honey-flavored broth with onion and a smoked ham hock (or bacon) until they are tender.  Then the beans are removed, the ham hock is chopped, and the broth is reduced until it is thick and syrupy.  Everything is tossed together and can sit, gently warming, on the stove until the rest of dinner is ready.  It’s the perfect recipe for a busy Thanksgiving meal.

Chopped Smoked Ham Hock

Chopped Smoked Ham Hock

Honey-Glazed Beans

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 pound dried pinto beans

2 medium onions, diced

1 smoked ham hock (or 8 ounces bacon, diced)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbls ground ginger

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

To Make:

Rinse the beans.  Combine them with 10 cups of water in a large, oven-proof pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until beans are almost tender, about 45 minutes.

Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid.  Place the bean along with the onion, garlic, and ham hock (or bacon) back in the pot.  Stir the honey, syrup, ginger, mustard, salt, and pepper into the cooking liquid.  Pour the liquid over the beans, cover, and place in a 300 degree F oven.  Cook until the beans are fully tender, about 2.5 hours.  If cooking with a ham hock, remove the skin and bone and chop the meat.

At this point, you could separate the liquid from the solids refrigerate them both overnight.  About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, boil the liquid over medium-high heat until it is reduced by about 2/3.  Once the broth is thickened, fold the beans, onion, and ham hock (or bacon) into the liquid.  Keep warm on the stove top until ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm.  Makes 8 servings.

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Filed under Beans, Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Well hello there, how have you been?  I am not sure what happened but I must have blinked because October is almost over and we haven’t done any blogging.  Yikes.  Luckily, it is fall and we just got our first Winter CSA distribution so there is plenty of inspiration to go around.  The winter CSA is lots of fun because the distributions are over flowing with tons of vegetables, apples, dried beans, and other goodies.  With that big box of yum, we were quickly inspired to make this delicious (almost vegetarian) butternut squash stuffed with flavors of fall.

Apples and Bacon (home cured)

Apples and Bacon (home cured)

The squash is roasted with butter and maple syrup and then filled with a stuffing made from leeks, apples, bacon, brown rice, and more maple syrup.  The stuffing nicely balances the sweet with the savory and makes for a light but filling main dish.  The recipe calls for butternut squash but you could easily substitute acorn or another hard shelled squash if that is what you had on hand.

Chopped Leek

Chopped Leek

This dish requires a few steps to make but it can almost all be done ahead of time.  It makes a great Thanksgiving option because you can prep it all a day or two in advance and then heat it up right before serving.

Ready for Roasting

Ready for Roasting

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

2 medium butternut squash

1 tbls butter

3 tbls real maple syrup, divided

2.5 ounces thick cut bacon

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 small apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup cooked brown rice

To Make:

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Arrange the squash in a roasting pan, cut side up.  Divide the butter and 1 tbls of the syrup between the four cavities.  Fill the pan with about an inch of water, cover with foil, and roast at 375 until mostly tender, about 40 minutes.  Remove the foil, rub the butter and syrup from the cavity all over the squash and cook for another 10-15 minutes until it starts to caramelize around the edges.

Meanwhile chop the bacon and cook in a heavy skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp.  Remove the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels.  Drain off all but about 1 tbls of the bacon fat from the pan.  Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until the leeks are softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the apples to the pan and sauté until they are soft, another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked rice and 2 tbls of maple syrup to bind it all together.  At this point, you can refrigerate both the squash and the stuffing, tightly wrapped in separate containers, until you are ready to serve.
Mound the stuffing into the cavity of the squash halves and bake in a 375 degree oven until warmed through, 10-20 minutes, depending on how cold everything was.
To Serve:
Serve hot as a main dish or as a hefty side.  Make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using olive oil or butter instead of bacon fat for sauteing the filling.  Serves 4.

 

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Filed under Dinner, Fruit, Recipes, Rice, Vegetables

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Can I share a fear with you?  I am afraid that corn and tomato season is almost over.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall with its cool weather, pretty displays of nature, and pumpkins.  But corn and tomato season sends my heart aflutter and makes me do things like eat tomatoes at every meal and make enough corn and black bean salsa to fill a 5-gallon bucket.

Corn off the cob

Corn off the cob

So while there is still corn left, please make this pesto.  It is a revelation, and I don’t use that word lightly.  Gently cooked corn is pureed and mixed with pine nuts, parmesan, and topped with chopped bacon and basil.  It is so thick and creamy that I contemplated eating it with a spoon like pudding (okay, maybe I actually did that).  The corn is super sweet, the bacon and cheese are salty, and tomatoes add just enough acid to balance the whole dish.

Bacon and tomatoes

Bacon and tomatoes

While we served this over pasta as the recipe suggested, it would also be excellent spread on crusty bread, or eaten with a spoon for breakfast.  Seriously, it is that good.

Smooth and creamy

Smooth and creamy

Corn Pesto

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces spaghetti

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters if very large)

To Make:

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain and roughly chop.  Pour off all but 1 tbls bacon drippings from skillet.  Add corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups corn kernels in small bowl and put the remaining corn mixture into a food processor or blender.  Add grated Parmesan and pine nuts and pulse to combine.  Add olive oil through feed tube in a thin stream with machine running and blend until pesto is almost smooth, set aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and the basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.  This definitely made a very thick pesto that needed some thinning.  Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the bacon.  Divide the cherry tomatoes among each serving.

To Serve:

Serve hot, with additional grated Parmesan as desired.  Serves 6 as a main course.

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables