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Friday, December 23, 2016

Lick Your Chops


Lick Your Chops served with Pesto-No-Pasta, also on this blog, and fresh arugula

The Ingredients (for 2 hearty servings):

  • 1 small green papaya, weighing approximately 600 g (or 1¼ lb)
  • 25 g (or 3 tablespoons) of coarse sea salt
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, 2½ cm (or 1 inch) thick and weighing approximately 900 g (or 2 lb)
  • 350 g (or 12 oz) of mushrooms (I used a mix of portobello and king oyster mushrooms)
  • 115 g (or 4 oz) of onion
  • 60 ml (or ¼ cup) of sherry
  • table salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cooking grade olive oil

    The Method:
    1. About 6 hours before you intend to eat the chops, place a large cast iron skillet in the oven and set the heat to 75°C (or 165°F).
    2. Remove the papaya skin, cut it in two, and scrape out the seeds.
    3. Roughly chop the papaya and grind it to a thick paste in a food processor or blender, adding a small amount of water if necessary.
    4. In a medium size bowl or a large measuring cup, dissolve the sea salt in 240 ml (or 1 cup) of boiling water. 
    5. Add 710 ml (or 3 cups) of cold water to the salt solution.
    6. Add 240 to 475 ml (or 1 to 2 cups) of the papaya paste to the brine and stir to combine it thoroughly.
    7. Rinse and pat dry the pork chops, then use a slender carving fork to poke several holes into both sides of the chops.
    8. Using protective mitts, remove the skillet from the oven and place the pork chops into it.
    9. Pour the brine mixture over the chops so that they are submerged, adding more water if necessary. 
    10. Place the skillet back into the oven for 3 to 4 hours, monitoring the temperature of the brine, which should be 60 to 70°C (or 140 to 160°F) for best activation of the papain.
    11. Meanwhile, dice the mushrooms and onions.
    12. About 45 minutes before eating, put on the mitts, remove the skillet from the oven, and empty it over a colander to discard the brine mixture.
    13. Rinse the skillet, and return it to the oven, and increase the temperature setting to 205°C (or 400°F).
    14. Rinse the chops briefly in cold water and pat them dry.
    15. Sprinkle the chops sparingly on both sides with table salt and black pepper, and spray or brush them lightly with olive oil.
    16. When the oven reaches the target temperature, turn on a stove-top burner to medium-high.
    17. Using protective mitts, remove the skillet from the oven and place it on the burner.
    18. Pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet, and immediately add the onions and mushrooms. Stir constantly until the oil is absorbed completely.
    19. Immediately pour the sherry into the skillet and stir again until it is almost completely evaporated.
    20. Scoop the mushroom-onion mixture into a bowl and set it aside.
    21. Immediately place the pork chops into the skillet and brown them lightly on one side for 3 to 4 minutes.
    22. Turn the chops over, then add the mushrooms and onions back into the pan.
    23. Replace the skillet in the oven.
    24. After 5 minutes, begin checking the internal temperature of the thickest chop. When it reaches 60°C (or 140°F), remove the chops from the oven and serve.

      The Story:

      It's amazing how long you can live without really feeling confident about cooking a pork chop. So when I came across an article in the kitchn that promised tender and juicy pork chops I had to try it. Tasty and juicy they were, but not really tender. Knowing that papaya is a natural tenderizer, I searched for and found a recipe for papaya paste, posted on The Curry Guy's blog. Green papayas are rich in papain, which breaks down protein, thus tenderizing meat. Adding this to the original recipe and including my own touch with the onions and mushrooms, I ended up with some of the best pork chops I've had anywhere.

      Wednesday, November 16, 2016

      *PC Lamb Shank Soup

      *PC Lamb Shank Soup garnished with a sauce made from garlic, salt, chèvre, and goat milk

      *Pressure Cooker. (You can prepare this dish without pressure by simmering at boiling point for about three times as long as the pressure cooker in step 14.)


      The Ingredients (for 4 servings)

      • 70 g (or ½ cup) of bulgur
      • 2 medium onions, weighing approximately 450 g (or 1 lb)
      • 4 cloves of garlic, weighing approximately 15 g (or ½ oz)
      • 2 or 3 carrots, weighing approximately 225 g (or 8 oz)
      • 2 sticks of celery, weighing approximately 170 g (or 6 oz)
      • 6 sprigs of fresh oregano (or the equivalent dried)
      • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or the equivalent dried)
      • 1 small bunch of fresh parsley, preferably the flat-leaf variety
      • 4 lamb shanks weighing approximately 1.4 kg (or 3 lb)
      • 20 g (or ½ tablespoon) of cinnamon powder
      • 700 ml (or 3 cups) of beef stock or consommé
      • 25 ml (or 1½ tablespoons) of tomato paste
      • Cooking grade olive oil
      • Salt
      • Freshly ground black pepper

      The Method:
      1. At least 3 hours before serving the soup, soak the bulgur in 350 ml (or 1½ cups) of hot water and let it stand for at least 1 hour.
      2. About 1½ hours before serving the soup, prep the vegetables by first dicing the onion.
      3. Finely dice, crush, or grind the garlic cloves.
      4. Peel the carrots and cut them into bite-size pieces.
      5. Cut the celery into fine slivers.
      6. Wash and finely chop the oregano, rosemary, and parsley.
      7. Wash, trim if necessary, and pat dry the lamb shanks.
      8. Lightly season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.
      9. Heat the pan of a pressure cooker over medium-high heat and pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom.
      10. Place the seasoned lamb shanks into the pan and brown them on all sides.
      11. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and cinnamon powder.
      12. Stir until the onions are starting to wilt.
      13. Immediately add the beef broth, tomato paste, oregano, rosemary, and parsley, and 10 cups of water.
      14. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and, following the manufacturer's instructions, cook the lamb shanks and vegetables at high pressure (100 kPa, or 15 psi) for 40 minutes.
      15. Allow the pressure to recede gradually.
      16. Remove the lid, and add the bulgur to the soup.
      17. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes without the lid on to cook the bulgur.

      Saturday, October 8, 2016

      *PC Coq au Vin

      *PC Coq au Vin served with Smashing Cauliflower, also on this blog,
      and steamed asparagus
      *Pressure Cooker. (You can prepare this dish without pressure by simmering at boiling point for about three times as long as the pressure cooker in steps 24 and 37.)

      The Ingredients (for 6 servings):

      • 600 ml (or 20 oz) of a dry red wine
      • 1 small onion
      • 2 stalks of celery
      • 2 large carrots
      • 3 to 5 cloves of garlic
      • 6 g (or 2 teaspoons) of whole black peppercorns
      • 1 chicken, weighing approximately 2.3 kg (or 5 lb)
      • 170 g (or 6 oz) of thick-cut bacon
      • 170 g (or 6 oz) of shallots
      • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, weighing approximately 14 g (or ½ oz)
      • 4 to 8 sprigs of thyme
      • 4 to 8 sprigs of parsley, preferably flat-leaf Italian parsley
      • 4 bay leaves
      • 120 ml (or ½ cup) of chicken broth
      • 25 g (or 3 tablespoons) of garbanzo bean (chick pea) flour
      • 450 g (or 1 lb) of mushrooms
      • 12 to 15 small boiling onions, weighing approximately 450 g (or 1 lb)
      • 28 g (or 2 tablespoons) of butter
      • cooking grade olive oil

        The Method:
        1. The day before you intend to cook the coq, make a marinade by first pouring the red wine into a medium size saucepan.
        2. Peel the onion, carrots, and the 3 to 5 cloves of garlic.
        3. Roughly chop the onion, celery, carrots and garlic, and add them to the wine in the pan.
        4. Add the peppercorns to the pan.
        5. Bring the marinade mixture to a boil and simmer it for 5 minutes.
        6. Allow the marinade to cool, then add 30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of olive oil.
        7. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into sections: wings, drumsticks, thighs, and breast pieces. The breast pieces can be boneless or with ribs still attached.
        8. Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces.
        9. Add together the chicken pieces and the cooled marinade. (I like to marinate in a ziploc plastic bag, pressing out the air before sealing it.)

        10. Place the marinating chicken into the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
        11. About 2 hours before you plan to eat, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and, using a colander or large sieve, strain off the liquid part of the marinade into a bowl. 
        12. Pick out the chicken pieces and place them on a rack or paper towels to drain and dry and reserve the marinade vegetables.
        13. Cut the bacon into thin slices across the grain.
        14. Finely slice the shallots and the 2 to 3 cloves of garlic.
        15. Pour enough oil into the bottom part of the pressure cooker to lightly coat it, and turn the heat to medium-high.
        16. Add the bacon bits and stir them almost constantly until they render most of their fat and turn golden brown.
        17. Remove the bacon bits from the pressure cooker and set them aside.
        18. Pour off most of the rendered fat.
        19. Replace the pressure cooker on the burner over medium-high heat, and place the chicken pieces, skin-side down in the pan.
        20. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides.
        21. Add the marinade vegetables into the pan and stir to brown them slightly. 
        22. Add the marinade liquid into the pan and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pressure cooker.
        23. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and chicken broth and give a quick stir to distribute them evenly throughout.
        24. Following manufacturer's instructions, cover the pressure cooker and cook the chicken at high pressure (100 kPa, or 15 psi) for 5 minutes.
        25. Allow the pressure to recede gradually.
        26. Meanwhile, place the garbanzo bean flour into a small bowl and add enough water to make a thin slurry. Allow it to sit while continuing with the following steps.
        27. Plunge the boiling onions into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain them.
        28. When they are cool enough to handle, cut off the tops and bottoms, and remove their outer skins.
        29. Wash the mushrooms and, if they are large, cut them into bite-size pieces.
        30. In a large skillet, melt the butter in an equal amount of olive oil over medium-high heat.
        31. Add the mushrooms and turn them constantly until they absorb the oil. 
        32. When the mushrooms begin to render back the oil, add the onions and brown them with the mushrooms, then turn off the heat.
        33. Open the pressure cooker and remove the chicken pieces into a serving dish.
        34. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard all of the vegetables and herbs from the cooking liquid.
        35. Add the reserved garbanzo bean paste to the cooking liquid, place the mixture back on the burner on high heat, and stir until it thickens slightly.
        36. Add the reserved bacon bits, mushrooms, and boiling onions to the cooking mixture.
        37. Following manufacturer's instructions, cover the pressure cooker and cook them at high pressure (100 kPa, or 15 psi) for 5 minutes.
        38. Following the manufacturer's instructions, bring the pressure back to normal rapidly.
        39. Pour the contents of the pressure cooker over the chicken pieces.

          The Story:

          The basis for this method is a recipe for "Classic Coq Au Vin" on the epicurious.com web site. The pressure cooker saves braising time (but not, alas, prep time), while maintaining the deep, rich, goodness of this classic dish.

          Sunday, October 2, 2016

          *PC Veri Teri Short Ribs


          *Pressure Cooker. (You can prepare this dish without pressure by simmering at boiling point for about three times as long as the pressure cooker in step 8.)


          The Ingredients (for 4 servings):

          • 1 kg (or 2.2 lb) of beef short ribs, Korean cut
          • 45 g (or 1½ oz) of ginger
          • 60 ml (or 4 tablespoons) of dark soy sauce
          • 60 ml (or 4 tablespoons) of white wine or sake
          • 30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of rice vinegar
          • 30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of sesame oil
          • stevia equivalent of 20 g (or 1½ tablespoons) of sugar
          • 4 g (or ½ tablespoon) of freshly ground black pepper
          • 120 ml (or ½ cup) of beef broth
          • cooking grade olive oil


          The Method:

          1. Rinse and pat dry the ribs, then cut them into pieces between the cross-cut rib bones.
          2. Peel the ginger and grate or grind it into very small pieces.
          3. Mix together the ginger, soy, wine, vinegar, sesame oil, stevia, and pepper. (I do steps 2 and 3 at the same time by using a small food processor.)
          4. Coat the bottom of the pressure cooker with olive oil and heat it to medium-high.
          5. Brown the pieces of short rib in the oil, turning often so they do not burn or stick to the pan.
          6. Add the ginger-soy mixture to the pressure cooker and turn the ribs in the mixture to coat them evenly.
          7. Add the beef broth and mix again.
          8. Following the manufacturer's instructions, bring the pressure cooker to high (100 kPa, or 15 psi) and cook the ribs at this setting for 25 minutes.
          9. Remove the pressure cooker from the burner and allow the pressure to recede.
          10. Pour off any fat from the ribs and turn them over a few times in the veri teri sauce before serving.

          Saturday, September 24, 2016

          Broccoli Crumble


          Broccoli Bake pairs well with Moussagna, also on this blog

          The Ingredients (for 5 to 6 servings):

          • 55 g (or 2 oz) of raw, unsalted macadamia nuts
          • 450 g (or 1 lb) of broccoli
          • 6 to 8 cloves of garlic, weighing approximately 20 g (or ¾ oz)
          • 75 ml (or 5 tablespoons) of cooking grade olive oil
          • 4 g (or ½ teaspoon) of salt
          • 4 g (or ½ tablespoon) of freshly ground black pepper
          • 55 g (or 2 oz) of hard Italian cheese such as Parmigiano (I used Pecorino Romano)
          • a few sprigs of basil
          • 1 lemon, preferably a Meyer lemon

            The Method:
            1. Heat the oven to 175°C (or 350°F).
            2. Toast the macadamia nuts for 5 minutes then remove them and set them aside.
            3. Heat the oven to 220°C (or 425°F).
            4. Wash the broccoli, shake off as much water as possible, and cut off bite-size florets, discarding the thick and fibrous part of the stem.
            5. Bruise and peel the garlic cloves, then slice them lengthwise several times.
            6. Place the florets and garlic cloves into a shallow baking dish, such as the bottom of a broiler pan, and sprinkle them with the olive oil.
            7. Mix the broccoli and garlic to coat all with a small amount of oil.
            8. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the broccoli and garlic and mix again to distribute the seasoning evenly.
            9. Place the broccoli-garlic mixture into the oven and roast it for 20 minutes.
            10. Meanwhile, grate the cheese in a food processor.
            11. Change the grating blade for a food processing blade and add the cooled macadamias to the grated cheese.
            12. Wash and dry the basil, strip off the leaves, and add them to the food processor.
            13. Zest about half of the lemon and add the zest to the food processor.
            14. Grind together the cheese, macadamias, basil, and lemon zest until the texture is like that of a crumble topping.
            15. When the broccoli-garlic mixture is ready it will look slightly browned and the stem pieces will not be limp. Toss it immediately with the macadamia crumble mixture.


              The Story:

              Always looking for ways to make broccoli a fun vegetable, I came across a recipe that had most of the ingredients above and claimed to be "The Best Broccoli of Your Life". After making it a couple of times without being able to concur, I decided to retain the spirit of the dish but recast it in a different light. I am much more pleased with this version.

              Saturday, July 23, 2016

              *PC Chick-Chick


              *Pressure Cooker. (You can prepare this dish without pressure by simmering at boiling point for about three times as long as the pressure cooker in step 18.)

              Ingredients (for 6 servings):

              • 250 g (or 1¼ cup) of lentils (I used channa dal, or dried baby chick peas)
              • 170 g (or 6 oz) of salt pork
              • 1 medium onion weighing approximately 225 g (or 8 oz)
              • 8 cloves of garlic
              • 450 g (or 1 lb) of carrots
              • 1 chicken weighing approximately 1.8 kg (or 4 lb)
              • 55 g (or 2 oz) of parsley (preferably the flat-leaf Italian parsley)
              • 1 g (or 1 tablespoon) of dried tarragon
              • 5 bay leaves
              • 8 g (or 1 teaspoon) of salt
              • 8 g (or 1 tablespoon) of freshly ground black pepper
              • 60 ml (or ¼ cup) of sherry
              • cooking grade olive oil

                The Method:
                1. Six hours before you plan to serve the Chick-Chick, place the lentils in a medium size saucepan, cover with two or more inches of water, and bring the pot to a boil.
                2. When the lentils have boiled for one minute, remove the pot from the heat, place a cover on the pan, and allow the lentils to soak until you are ready for step 11, below.
                3. About 2 hours before you plan to serve, prepare the other ingredients by first cutting the salt pork into thin slices and then into approximately 1-cm (or ¾-inch) pieces.
                4. Dice the onion.
                5. Finely dice or grind the garlic cloves.
                6. Peel and chop the carrots into bite-size pieces.
                7. Wash the chicken thoroughly, pat it dry, and chop it into about 12 bone-in pieces—wings, thighs, drumsticks, 4 to 6 breast pieces, and the lower spine piece.
                8. Wash the parsley, tie the stems together with twine, and cut the stems off the bunch.
                9. Pour enough olive oil into the pressure cooker to coat the bottom, and heat it over medium-high heat.
                10. When the oil is hot, sauté the salt pork until it is browned and slightly crisp.
                11. Meanwhile, drain the soaked lentils in a colander and rinse them in cold water to remove all of the soaking water.
                12. When the salt pork is browned, add the chicken pieces to the pressure cooker and brown them on all sides.

                13. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent.
                14. Add the carrots and drained lentils, and stir to coat them with the olive oil.
                15. Add 300 ml (or 1¼ cup) of water.
                16. Add to the pressure cooker the parsley stems, tarragon, and bay leaves, salt, and pepper, and stir to distribute them in the mixture.
                17. Lock the lid onto the pressure cooker according to the manufacturer's instructions, and turn the heat to high.
                18. Cook the chicken and lentil mixture in the pressure cooker according to the manufacturer's instructions for 15 minutes at high pressure (100 kPa, or 15 psi) .
                19. Meanwhile, chop the parsley leaves finely and set them aside.
                20. When the pressure has subsided, remove the chicken pieces from the pressure cooker and set them aside.
                21. Remove the parsley stems from the mixture and discard them.
                22. Add the sherry to the lentil mixture, stirring to distribute it throughout.
                23. With the lid off the pressure cooker, return the lentil mixture to the stove and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes more, or until it becomes thickened and creamy in texture.
                24. Return the chicken pieces to the pot, add the parsley leaves, and stir gently to distribute them evenly throughout.

                Friday, June 10, 2016

                I Put Basil in the Ratatouille


                I Put Basil in the Ratatouille with green lentil penne basilico



                The Ingredients (for 6 to 8 servings):

                • 6 ripe tomatoes, weighing approximately 900 g (or 2 lb)
                • 2 red onions, weighing approximately 450 g (or 1 lb)
                • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, weighing approximately 20 g (or ¾ oz)
                • 2 to 3 Asian eggplants, weighing approximately 340 g (or ¾ lb)
                • 1 or 2 crookneck squash, weighing approximately 450 g (or 1 lb)
                • 3 bell peppers, weighing approximately 450 g (or 1 lb)
                • several sprigs of basil
                • several sprigs of thyme
                • 1 small (400-g, or 14-oz) can of whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano style plum tomatoes
                • 22 ml (or 1½ tablespoons) of balsamic vinegar
                • 1 lemon
                • cooking grade olive oil
                • salt
                • pepper

                  The Method:
                  1. About 2 hours before serving the ratatouille, begin to prep the vegetables.
                  2. Boil a large pan of water and immerse the raw tomatoes in the boiling water for 20 seconds, then place them on a board or a grid to cool.
                  3. When they are cool, peel them, cut them in halves across—mid way between the stem and the bottom dimple.
                  4. Press out and discard the seeds from the tomato halves, then cut them into bite-size pieces.
                  5. Peel the onions and slice them into wedges.
                  6. Peel the garlic cloves and grind them with a mortar and pestle or put them through a garlic press.
                  7. Wash the eggplants and cut them into bite-size pieces.
                  8. Wash the crookneck squash and cut them into bite-size pieces.
                  9. Wash the bell peppers, remove stems and seeds, and cut them into bite-size pieces.
                  10. Strip the basil sprigs, reserve the leaves, and chop the stems finely.
                  11. Heat 45 ml (or 3 tablespoons) of olive oil in the bottom of a large pan.
                  12. Over medium heat, sauté the eggplant slices until they begin to render the oil.
                  13. Add the onion and garlic, and continue to sauté until the onion softens, adding more oil if necessary.
                  14. Add the squash, bell peppers, and basil stems, and continue to saute until all of the vegetables have a thin coating of oil.
                  15. Add the thyme leaves, tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar and mix well.
                  16. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and mix again.
                  17. Still over medium heat, simmer the vegetables for 40 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced and slightly thickened.
                  18. Meanwhile, if the reserved basil leaves are large, roughly chop them. (Mine were small enough to leave whole.)
                  19. Grate the zest off the lemon.
                  20. When the ratatouille is fully cooked, add the basil and lemon zest and mix well to distribute it throughout.

                    The Story:

                    This recipe closely follows Jamie Oliver's Classic Ratatouille on his web site.

                    On this occasion, though, I added strips of seasoned opah (or moonfish) fillet About 5 minutes before executing step 20, making this into a rat-a-tat-tat fish stew.
                    I Put Basil in the Ratatouille, with opah and green lentil penne basilico