Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Herbed Pea Sauce

I can't believe it has been a week and a half since I last blogged, that is way too long!  Last week was a very busy and intense week to the point that I only cooked dinner once...and that recipe will be the next post.  Where to begin, I had a pretty wonderful Memorial day weekend filled with kayaking (pictured below), my dad's 60th birthday BBQ, and eating lots of amazing food.  We went kayaking at Smith and Bybee Lakes off of the Columbia river where we saw a bunch of swallows, cranes, and river monsters (which we now realize were big old sturgeon).  This park is the largest protected wetlands within an American city.  We also witnessed a snake eating a frog which was sad but we couldn't interfere with nature.  The lakes were pretty low but we still managed to have a full afternoon of kayaking fun and now I really want to purchase my own flat-water kayak.  My friend also just bought a new GoPro camera so we made a fun little video of our adventure...makes me want to buy one too!  I need more toys in my life, but not till after our Europe trip.  I adapted this amazing pea sauce recipe from Bon Appetit and served it over pork but I'm sure you could serve it over a countless number of dishes and it would be just as delicious.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 thin pork chops
2 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 2 pounds pods), or frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Olive Oil (for pork)

The Process
1.  Pan-fry pork chops in olive oil over medium heat until done, about 3 minutes each side. Set aside and keep warm).

2.  If using fresh peas, cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 3 minutes; drain and set aside (do not cook frozen peas).

3.  Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add scallions and peas and cook, stirring constantly, until scallions are just beginning to soften and peas are heated through, about 1 minute.

4.  Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice. Stir in parsley and chives; season with salt and pepper.  Serve over pork chops.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Brussels Sprouts and Steak Stir-Fry

So as you would have guessed our experience at Kachka was amazing!  The food was outstanding, service was very fast and friendly, and the vodka nice and refreshing.  This is one of my new favorite Portland restaurants and it received a 5 star rating on my Yelp review.  Below are photos of a couple of dishes we had, which were: brindza pashtet, salo, siberian pelmeni with garlic broth, golubtsi, and two flights of vodka and we were full.  I can't recommend this place enough, but be sure to make reservations.  I am exhausted already just thinking about all the plans we have this weekend...April and May are the months where I swear almost every single person I know was born.  Saturday alone I have 3 parties throughout the day that I am attending...hopefully Sunday's hike on Mt. St. Helen's will be somewhat rejuvenating.  Onto the food, here is an easy and delicious weeknight meal that I adapted from Bon Appetit.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
8 ounces flank or skirt steak, thinly sliced against the grain
Kosher salt
4 scallions, whites chopped, greens sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
Optional steamed rice (for serving)

The Process
1.  Whisk oyster sauce, tamari, vinegar, garlic chili sauce, and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl; set sauce aside.

2.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; wipe out skillet.

3.  Season steak with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add steak in a single layer; cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until nearly cooked through, about 30 seconds. Add to brussels sprouts.

4.  Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add scallion whites, garlic, and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, adjusting heat as needed.

5.  Return brussels sprouts and steak to skillet and add reserved sauce. Cook, tossing occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve with steamed rice and garnish with scallion greens.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes)

Well today the President is in town and traffic will be horrible, makes me so glad I live and work on the east side (the better side) ;)  Today is also my older brother's birthday so I will be attending his comedy show tonight at Curious Comedy Theater, it is a pretty fun spot if you are into improv.  This weekend is pretty low key with a date night to Kachka on Saturday night and mother's day on Sunday.  This makes me happy because I really need to relax and catch up on my sleep after Tuesday night's late night show.  Yesterday was a really long day that felt like it was never going to end and all I wanted to do was go home and cook.  So after the gym when I finally got home I adapted this recipe and was very happy with the results.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
1/2 lb of ground pork
1 tsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbs diced shallots
1/4 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes
3 green onion, thinly diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive Oil

The Process
1.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pork, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, salt, shallots, and mushrooms.

2.  Next using a melon baller empty out the membranes of the tomatoes and set aside.  Now you’re ready to stuff the tomatoes.

3.  Stuff just to the top of the tomatoes, leaving a flat surface for even cooking.  In a large sautee pan, heat olive oil and garlic on medium high heat. Add the stuffed tomatoes with the stuffing side down first. Also add the cored tomatoes around as well.

4.  Cook until the meat is nicely golden brown and flip once. The cored tomatoes will also soften and turn in beautiful sauce. Cook until tomatoes start to soften and the pork is fully cooked (about 5-7 minutes).  Serve with a side of rice or vegetables.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Classic Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese

Goat cheese everything is what I say!  It is one of my favorite foods, I love how sour it is much like yogurt.  Anyway last night I went and saw an amazing show, Sleater-Kinney, they have been one of my favorite bands for a very long time now.  My very first time seeing them was also at the Crystal Ballroom in 2002 or 3, I was 18 years old and a freshman in college.  If you don't know much about them this line gives you a taste: "Sleater-Kinney is a key part of the riot grrrl and indie rock scenes in the Pacific Northwest.[2] The band is also known for its feminist and left-leaning politics." In food related news look at this cool new marketplace that is coming to PDX, it is focused around farmers markets and craft fair items!  The foodie world also received very sad news that surrounded the James Beard Foundation AwardsJosh Ozersky passed suddenly at the age of 47, here is a beautiful piece he wrote for Saveur magazine.  As you recall from my last post I was on the hunt for a wonderful tomato soup recipe, lots of people responded with amazing recipes that I will have to try soon, but I ended up using this recipe from Saveur that I adapted.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 large tablespoon bacon fat (use butter if you want vegetarian)
1⁄2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, halved and thinly sliced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
4 tsp. almond flour
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups canned diced tomatoes, well drained
1/4 tsp. thyme
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
4 tbsp. heavy cream
Goat cheese for garnish

The Process
1.  Turn heat to medium-high and add the butter to large pot. Saute the onion and carrot for 8-10 minutes or until very soft and beginning to caramelize, stirring occasionally.

2.  Add the tomato paste and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture, mix well and continue cooking for another minute.

3.  Gradually pour in the stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the diced tomatoes, thyme, garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.  Remove soup from the heat. Add the heavy cream and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season to taste and serve garnished with lots of goat cheese

**To make this soup vegetarian:** Omit the bacon and increase the butter by 1 tablespoon.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tomato and Goat Cheese Risotto

What a weekend, full of sunshine, friends, family, and lots of gardening.  Saturday I spent all day in the garden planting seeds and my starts (pictured below).  Here is the official list of items planted: marigolds, celery, Walla Walla onions, green onions, tomatoes, peppers, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, spinach, kale, carrots, beets, turnips, oregano, and basil.  Then Saturday night I made and adapted this recipe with my lovely friend Sarah.  In other news do you live in PDX?  If so check out this great guide to Portland's summer concerts and festivals, I personally can't wait for the Jazz festival which is right down the road from us.  I'm looking to make tomato soup tonight, do you have a favorite recipe you love to use?  I am always looking for new twists on classic dishes such as tomato soup.  It's a Monday so let's keep this post short and sweet.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 shallots, thinly sliced
5 mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of fresh baby spinach
6 big sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of white wine
2 cups of vegetable broth (you might need a bit more)
1 cup of risotto
14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
5 ounces of goat cheese
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon of butter

The Process
1.  In a large saucepan, heat up the butter until melted and bubbling. Throw in your sliced shallots and cook for 3 minutes on medium heat, stir frequently. Add the garlic and mushroom and continue cooking for about 3 to 4 minutes.

2.  Throw in the risotto, mix well and bring the heat up. Cook on high for about 1 minutes and throw in the white wine. De-glaze the pan and bring the heat down to medium high. Stirring frequently, wait until the liquid has almost all been absorbed.

3.  At that point, stirring in 1 cup of vegetable broth and bring the heat down to medium. Throw in the Parmesan and the sun dried tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring until the liquid has almost all been absorbed. Add in 1/2 cup of vegetable broth along with the diced tomatoes. Continue cooking until there is almost no liquid left.

4.  Test your risotto. If it is still hard, add in the rest of the vegetable broth and stir frequently until the liquid has been absorbed. Test your risotto again and do the same thing, 1/2 cup at a time until it is cooked to your liking.

5.  When the risotto is cooked, throw in the spinach and cover, on low heat for about 2 minutes. The spinach will wilt. Mix the spinach in and add the crumbled goat cheese and mix thoroughly. Keep cooking until the cheese has melted and is well incorporated.

Serve immediately!