Monday, November 23, 2015

Pork Ragù over Creamy Polenta

I had such a lovely weekend staying in town, I often love to run away to the coast or mountains but it is important to remember how much I truly have in this city.  It started with Friday afternoon I took some PTO and left work a little early and went and had lunch with one of my very close friends, we ended up getting Ethiopian food at E'Njoni Cafe one of my favorite spots in Portland.  Then later that night I hung out with another awesome friend and we went to the Blazers vs. Clippers game.  I was a little nervous for the game because we were on a 7 game loosing streak but we played really well and beat them 102 - 91.  Then Saturday afternoon I attended an amazing 2 hour African dance workshop at the Vitalidad Movement Arts Center (pictured below).  It really brought me back to college days when I use to take African dance classes every term.  Saturday evening we celebrated my mom's birthday (happy birthday mom!) and my dad and I made her this delicious meal that I'm blogging about, original recipe here, it was a wonderful evening spent with family.  Sunday late morning I went on a hike with my good friend in Forest Park.  We both know this park very well but we were going on a new 9 mile loop and ended up getting a little our 9 miles turned into 12.5 miles haha.  We are both fit people so that was totally fine but I was pretty tired by the end and slept very very well last night.  Enjoy and happy Monday!

Serves 8

The Ingredients

3 pounds skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 3 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup full-bodied red wine
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves

Polenta And Assembly:
Kosher salt
1½ cups coarse polenta (not quick-cooking)
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup grated Parmesan (from about 2 ounces), plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil (for drizzling)

The Process

1.  Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Cook pork, turning often, until evenly browned, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and pour off pan drippings.
Wipe out any burned bits from pot, but leave the golden-brown pieces (doing this will keep the finished sauce from tasting bitter).

2.  Add onion and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown and caramelize, 12–15 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly darkened in color, 5–8 minutes.

3.  Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half, 5–8 minutes.  Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, then add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves; stir in 2 cups water. Add pork with any juices accumulated on the platter; season with salt and pepper.

4.  Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until pork is falling-apart tender, sauce is thickened (it will be thicker than a typical pasta sauce), and flavors have melded, 2½–3 hours.

5.  Using 2 forks, break up pork into pieces or shred it (your choice!); taste and season with salt and pepper.  Pork can be cooked 5 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill in sauce.

Polenta And Assembly
1.  Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a large pot. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, whisking often, until polenta is tender and creamy, 20–25 minutes (if polenta becomes too thick too soon, loosen mixture by adding more water and continue cooking).

2.  Add butter and ½ cup Parmesan to polenta and whisk until melted; season with salt and pepper.

3.  Spoon polenta into bowls or onto a platter and top with pork. Scatter parsley and more Parmesan over top and drizzle with oil.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pork and Vegetable Soup

Portland's weather was pretty crazy last night and supposedly will be again tonight.  After my workout I was headed to my friend Becca's to hangout and make a warm fall soup when I hit a huge puddle I didn't see and it caused my battery to die, who knew that could happen?  Then on my way home from her house one of my windshield wipers just flew off out of nowhere, who knew that could happen either?  In other news I just read that Chris Kimball is leaving America's Test Kitchen which just break my heart.  If you haven't heard of this show you must check it out, it is all about food, cooking, testing, processes, etc.  I mostly listen to the podcasts at work while I'm working with data and his voice is just so comforting...sadness.  Anyway last night I hung out with my friend and finally met her adorable baby girl, then we put our heads together and came up with this delicious recipe.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 lb ground pork
1 15-oz can of tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, sliced
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper 
Canola oil

The Process
1.  In a large pot over medium high heat add olive oil and butter.  When hot add onions, pork, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes.  Then add garlic, kale, and tomatoes.

2.  Cook for about 2 minutes and then add the stock.  Bring to a boil and then simmer.  While simmering add all spices, vinegar, bacon fat, and salt and pepper (to taste).

3.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes but make sure not to overcook the kale.  Serve up and eat!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Crispy Chicken with a Creamy Irish Whiskey and Chanterelle Mushroom Sauce

Last weekend was relaxing and funny because while I had some great down time, Saturday evening my friend had a 90's party and people were very animated.  I also managed to watch many of the last Blazer games which has been fun but frustrating because we are now on a 6 game losing streak but the hard part is we are barely losing most of these games.  We have a very new team and it is obvious that the players are still really learning how to play with each other, not to mention we have been playing some really good teams on this road trip.  My last blog post that I wrote on Friday was right before everything was coming out about what was happening in Paris and it just breaks my heart when things like this happen in our world.  I feel like it especially hit close to home since we were just there a little over a month ago and I had just finished reminiscing about Paris in my blog posts.  I can't imagine the horror and pain of being in a situation like that... So Friday evening after work I went and hung out with my parents for a little bit talking about the events of the day and sitting in front of their fireplace.  They then gave me a bag of fresh picked chanterelles and I was on my way (so generous of them).  I proceeded to cook and work through such a heartbreaking day and I adapted this delicious recipe that The Splendid Table featured.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy this dish, and it was just what we needed for such a somber night.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Apple cider vinegar braised kale, to serve with

For the sauce:
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
10 1/2 ounces chanterelle mushrooms
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Irish Whiskey
1 1/4 cups half and half
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon

The Process
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place an ovenproof skillet or grill pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Once they have warmed and the butter has melted, add the garlic cloves and place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan. Season with salt and black pepper.

3. Cook until the skin is crisp, 2 minutes, then turn over and cook on the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The whole garlic cloves will add a very slight flavor to the chicken.

4. While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the shallots and chanterelle mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Pour in the whiskey and turn up the heat. Let simmer until the whiskey has reduced by half.

5. Stir in the half and half and tarragon. Season with salt and black pepper, reduce the heat to low, and cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Serve the dish in four warm bowls. Divide your chosen braised kale between the bowls. Arrange the crispy chicken on top and spoon over the Irish whiskey and chanterelle mushroom sauce.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pork Chops with Chive Butter

T.G.I.F. people!  It has been another long week even though I had veterans day off.  I'm very excited for tonight because my parents just got back from Yachats and they went mushroom hunting with their very good friends and came back with a bunch of chanterelles and they are sharing them with me.  So tonight I plan on making something amazing with them, yum yum yum!  Below is a picture of my dad (on left) and his bud foraging for mushrooms.  Speaking of mushroom hunting we are going to go out and hunt on Sunday with some of our friends so hopefully we have as much success as my parents did.  It is suppose to be a very wet hopefully that will all happen tonight and Saturday and then be dry for us on Sunday.  I can't believe the holiday season is just around the corner!  I've already started thinking about what I want to make for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and my mom's birthday is coming up and I want to make a delicious meal for her too!  Last night I adapted this simple recipe and paired it with balsamic roasted broccoli and sauteed mushrooms.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 pork chops
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 clove of garlic (halved)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

The Process
1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Season both sides of the pork chops with salt & pepper.

2.  Place chops in the heated skillet, cooking for about 5-8 minutes (or until golden brown) on one side. Flip and continue cooking for about 3 more minutes. Remove chops to a plate and cover to keep warm.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium. Place a tablespoon of butter in the skillet along with the chives and garlic. Heat until butter has melted and begins bubbling and turning brown. Drizzle butter over pork chop and serve.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mulled Wine

I have one last story about Europe and that is about our favorite bar in Paris.  The day we got to Paris and had all that trouble trying to check in to our apartment is the day we discovered this place.  We went to this bar while waiting for the owner to show up and let us into our apartment and we were tired, hungry, and grumpy.  This is the first time we met the owner Didier, who was there each time we went.  We ordered a charcuterie board (pictured below) and some wine and were blown away at how tasty both were.  Once we had eaten we started to look around and realized that this bar was decorated with tons of food and cooking certificates ranging from gastronomy to cheese.  One of our visits while getting to know Didier he insisted on buying us both one last glass of wine, and on our last visit I finally asked about all of his certificates.  Didier is an amazing chef and all the food we ate there was fabulous, at one point in his life he was very involved in the chef scene and was a major competitor.  What we gathered is that he left that life to open his own bar and just do what he loves and cook, he is also quite the entertainer.  He was always being a ham and putting on American music for us and dancing around and singing along.  On our last visit I asked to get a picture with him and he insisted we take a picture with him kissing my cheek, so if you are ever in Paris in the 18th quarter please stop by Au Gamin de Paris.  Now let's talk wine, last night I hosted an event called Wine Wednesday which is a lovely thing that happens almost every week.  A bunch of us girls get together and cook and eat healthy foods and talk about life, play games, watch games and so forth.  Last night was the first time I hosted so I made sure to do it right and I made the ever so tasty Pizza Chili and adapted this recipe for the mulled wine.  Enjoy!

Makes 2 liters

The Ingredients
2 (750 mL) bottles red wine
1 (750 mL) bottle sweet vermouth
3½ ounces Angostura bitters
Peels from 2 oranges
2 grams clove
Peel from 1 lemon
About 6 whole green cardamom
About 4 whole cinnamon sticks
6 grams nutmeg
About 10 whole star anise
About 3 vanilla beans, split
3½ ounces brown sugar

The Process
1.  Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low.

2.  Steep on low heat, covered, for at least 1 hour.

3.  Strain or ladle, and serve hot.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sharp Cheddar and Broccoli Stuffed Chicken

During one of our last days in Paris we assessed what we had seen and what we couldn't live without seeing and that brought us to Musée Picasso Paris.  I had never realized that there was an entire museum dedicated to Picasso, so I was beyond delighted when we decided to go there.  It was in the nice part of Paris and it felt like we were in a movie, sun shining and all.  Below is one of my favorite paintings we saw and of course I bought quite a few fun things in the gift shop before we left.  After Picasso we walked around until we found a fun little place to eat lunch, but during our walk we found this open air market with the most adorable mushroom display I've ever seen (pictured below, note the little skiing guys).  Our lunch was fabulous and I got steak tartare one last time so that I wouldn't forget how delicious it is in Paris.  That last evening we stayed in and made food, I made porcini ravioli with tomato/eggplant sauce topped with fresh tomatoes and goat cheese (pictured below).  I can't even begin to tell you how badly I want to go back to Europe and eat all this amazing food again...  Well in the meantime I'll just keep trying to cook up some wonderful food here at home in PDX.  I adapted this recipe and it is so simple and tasty.  Also I forgot to take a picture of this dish because I was so hungry so the picture credit goes to Center Cut Cook.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast pounded thin
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1  cup chopped fresh broccoli
sea salt
ground black pepper
garlic powder
1/2  tbsp olive oil

The Process
1.  Preheat over to 350 degrees. If you're chicken breasts are not already thin, pound them with a mallet until thin. This makes the chicken easier to fold in half. Place them in a baking dish.

2.  Coat chicken with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
Sprinkle sharp cheddar cheese evenly on top of the chicken breasts. Save a little bit to add to the top after you fold them.

3.  Sprinkle chopped broccoli evenly on top of the cheese. The smaller you chop your broccoli, the easier it stays on when you fold it.  Fold your chicken breasts in half and secure with 2-3 toothpicks each.  Brush the tops of the chicken breasts with olive oil.

4.  Cover baking dish with tin foil and place in the over. Cook for about 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Remove tin foil and sprinkle chicken with the remaining cheese.  Bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Honey-Tamari Glazed Salmon with Bok Choy

One of our many amazing evenings in Paris we went to a restaurant that I had made reservations at called Le Timbre.  I had read amazing things about this place and decided it was a must do while in Paris.  It was a fixed menu with options on how many courses you wanted and we went all out with the five courses.  It was a very small and intimate restaurant with only the server and the chef running the entire show.  Everything was super delicious but my favorite three dishes are pictured below: cauliflower and smoked eel, white fish with cannellini beans, and rare filet mignon.  We also purchased an unforgettable bottle of wine to pair with our meal.  It was the most romantic meal we had in Paris.  After that we stopped at a store and bought a bottle of wine and headed towards the Eiffel Tower.  The Eiffel Tower was so beautiful with all of its lights shining in the night, we sat down on some grass near the base of it and popped our bottle of wine.  This romantic evening was so amazing I hope to experience it again in my lifetime.  Ok now let's talk salmon, my awesome dad caught this salmon and gave me a big ol' slab so I had to do it justice and make a tasty meal.  I adapted this recipe and it was heavenly to say the least.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 cup tamari
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 inch peeled fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 pounds salmon (about 4 fillets)
1 head bok choy, chopped up

The Process
1.  Whisk tamari, honey, lemon juice, ginger, and garlic together until honey dissolves. Reserve 1/4 cup of marinade in separate bowl, then place salmon, skin-side up, in marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes (I did an hour).

2.  Meanwhile, preheat broiler (or grill) to high. Heat 1/4 cup of water in medium skillet over high heat and bring to a boil. Add bok choy and cover. Allow to steam until almost tender, about 4 minutes, then add reserved marinade. Toss to combine, cook for an additional 2 minutes to reduce excess liquid. Remove from heat.

3.  Put the salmon under the broiler skin-side down and broil without turning until exterior is well-caramelized and the fish is just cooked through, 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness and the distance from broiler. (I did 8 minutes and it was perfect).

4.  Arrange bok choy on plates and top with the salmon fillets.