Thursday, February 27, 2014

Orange-Cranberry Pork Stew

This stew is based on a simple “twist of tastes.” It’s fruity and tart with a bit of spice all at the same time. The flavors from the combination of the orange and cranberries spiked with very small shot of hot chili paste and a bit of intrigue from the dark sesame oil just burst in your mouth and I’ve never eaten anything quite like it.

The pork is meltingly tender and the stew goes very well with rice. The fruit ends up cooking away and integrates into the sauce and virtually disappears. So if you want it to look pretty like the picture, I recommend that you use my suggested garnish of fresh orange segments and a sprinkling of cooked cranberries before serving, which was not a part of the original recipe.

This was my first experience in cooking with a pork shoulder, also known as a Boston butt. We trimmed every bit of fat we could from the pork, but the stew still ended up looking a bit greasy. But don’t let that be a problem. Simply let the stew sit in the refrigerator overnight and skim the fat from the top before you reheat it. Letting it rest also gives the flavors a bit more time to meld. Remember that bag of cranberries you tucked away in your freezer? This is perfect time to get it out. Also some supermarkets sell bags of frozen cranberries in their freezer section all year long. The closest thing I could find to the sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste) at Publix in the Asian section was Thai Kitchen’s roasted red chili paste, which worked out perfectly, but Amazon has a nice selection of sambal oelek on line. If you are as confused as I am by all of the different chili sauces, here's an excellent article from "Eat It Atlanta" that explains them very well. I wish I had found it before I searched for sambal oelek.

This stew is most definitely a have-again and the only thing I would change is to double it because it was so good.

Orange-Cranberry Pork Stew
Adapted from Cooking Light – serves 4

1 medium Naval orange (more if you wish to garnish, see below)
1 ½ teaspoons dark sesame oil + more as needed
1 pound boneless pork shoulder, also known as a Boston butt, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1” pieces
Kosher salt
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
5 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
1 cup low-sodium, low fat chicken stock
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (more if you wish to garnish, see below)
4 cups hot cooked long grain white rice
2 tablespoons diagonally cut green onions, including green tops
Garnish of more orange segments and cranberries if desired (see below)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Peel and section and orange over a bowl; squeeze membranes to extract juice. Set sections aside; reserve orange juice.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork evenly with salt. Add pork to pan, taking care not to crowd or it will steam, and sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may have to cook the pork in batches as I did. In that case, you will need more dark sesame oil. Add ½ cup chopped onion to pan and sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in orange sections, reserved orange juice, chicken stock, brown sugar, and chili paste. Cover and bake for one hour. After 1 hour, stir in the cranberries. Bake, covered, for an additional 30 minutes or until the pork is fork-tender.

At this point, the stew can cool and be stored in the refrigerator, covered, over-night (recommended to be able to skim excess fat). The day of serving, remove the stew from the refrigerator, scoop off the accumulated fat and discard. Reheat the stew slowly while you prepare the rice. If you prefer a thicker stew, reduce the broth to ¾ cup, or simmer on top of the stove after baking.

To serve, place 1 cup of cooked rice in each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with about ¾ up of the pork mixture. Garnish if desired with the additional orange sections and cranberries, then sprinkle with green onions. Serve right away.

Garnish - optional but highly recommended
From My Carolina Kitchen

1 – 2 oranges, depending on their size, peeled and cut into segments
½ cup or so cranberries, fresh or defrosted, cooked in water until their skins pop, and then drain well.

You may notice that I've just installed something new - a "printable recipe" option located below the original recipe. I would like to thank Pat, one of my followers, for urging me to do it and to my friend Penny of Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen for her help and guidance in finding and helping me with an easy program from Google that I could install myself. I have updated most of my recent posts with the printable recipe option, but if you run across one that doesn't have it and you want to be able to print the recipe, please email me and I'll fix it right away.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, and The Comforts of Home - Tasty Tuesday .   
Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Quick French Cassoulet / Sausages and White Beans Cassoulet-Style

Today I have a quick version of a French cassoulet, a sausage and white bean stew. A true French cassoulet is a hearty, slow-cooked, meat-studded stew from the South of France. The typical French version consists of duck confit, goose, pork or bacon, sometimes with mutton or veal, and is always combined with wine and beans. The southwestern French villages of Toulouse and Carcassone are thought to be the capital of cassoulet.

The recipe is Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans and it is from Pam Anderson’s delightful book Perfect One-Dish Dinners – All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers. If you aren’t familiar with Pam, be sure check out her blog Three Many Cooks. Pam is a former executive editor for Cooks Illustrated and has written several cookbooks, including one of my favorites - How to Cook Without a Book, Recipes & Techniques Every Cook Should Know By Heart.

A French cassoulet is a perfect one-dish meal for casual entertaining. Pam’s Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans is a quick version that comes together in about 10 to 15 minutes and only takes about an hour to cook. She shared her recipe here on Merry-Jennifer’s blog The Merry Gourmet. Merry-Jennifer’s recipe is almost exactly as written by Pam, but she modified the recipe slightly for her family’s taste by decreasing the cherry tomatoes from 3 pints to 2 and adding 4 cans of white beans instead of the 3 called for in the original recipe.

I followed Pam’s original recipe to a T and, as you can see above I included a butter crumb topping, which is typical in French cassoulet recipes. For the crumb topping, tear several slices of a good hearty bread or a European-style loaf into small pieces and chop them in a mini food processer until you have about two cups of fine bread crumbs. If you make more crumbs than you need, they store well in a baggie in the refrigerator or freezer. Melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter in a skillet and toss in the crumbs and season with a bit of sea salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown, about 12 – 15 minutes. Use the crunchy crumbs as a topping on the cassoulet before serving.

Cassoulet has long been a favorite in our family. You may remember my lighter version shown below, recipe here, that uses chicken as the base. If you’ve never eaten cassoulet, I really encourage you to give it a try. It’s French classical comfort food and just may become one of your family’s favorites too.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes.   
Have a great weekend everyone.

Big News - Larry at Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings and Chris at Nibble Me This have just announced the dates for their 5th Annual Blogger Get-Together at Larry's home, Almost Heaven South, located on Tellico Lake in eastern Tennessee. The dates will be either June 7 or June 8. Here's a link to last years party from Larry's blog and a link to my post about last year's luau as well. If you are interested in attending, please contact Larry at the above link. Meakin and I been to every one of the get-togethers and absolutely everyone has a fabulous time. Guaranteed. 

Grab a plate and join me and the other bloggers for the 5th Annual Blogger's Get-together at Almost Heaven South on Tellico Lake, Tennessee in June.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Spanish-style Chicken and Chorizo Stew

This Spanish-style stew is packed with tons of flavor and highlights saffron, sherry vinegar, and Spanish chorizo.  Chorizo as you know comes in two forms – Spanish, which is a cured, firm sausage, and the Mexican version, a spicy ground pork which you may remember I used in the pan-grilled chicken with vegetables and chorizo confetti here.

I like both chorizos because they are so different, not only in texture, but in taste. Where the Mexican needs to be cooked and is hot and spicy and a little goes a long way, the Spanish chorizo has a depth of flavor that comes from smoky paprika and is fully cooked and ready to eat with your favorite cheese and wine.

The two chorizos are not interchangeable and Mexican chorizo should not be substituted in this recipe. Imported Spanish chorizo can be found at La Tienda and Amazon, two on-line sources. Goya also makes a version that is available in supermarkets. The one shown below is from Palacio and is an authentic Spanish chorizo made from a generations-old recipe by a family owned company in La Rioja and was the first Spanish brand to be available in the US.

Saffron threads and Spanish sherry vinegar are the other major flavoring ingredients in the stew and can be found in most large supermarkets and specialty stores. La Tienda and Amazon stock both on line. It’s handy to have a bottle of sherry vinegar on hand. I use it quite often in many recipes, including two of my favorites - a sophisticated and attractive arugula salad tossed with truffle oil and sherry vinaigrette here, and a French lentil salad with goat cheese here.

The chicken breasts in this recipe are poached, so you’ll want to take great care not to overcook them or they will be tough. If you are in a hurry, purchased rotisserie chicken could be shredded, eliminating the poaching step, but be sure to make up for the cooking liquid that would have accumulated while poaching the chicken. Actually I think we will use rotisserie chicken next time to avoid overcooked stringy chicken. The stew can be made in advance, but if you do, add the shredded chicken when you reheat the stew and stir in the vinegar at the last moment. Wedges of southern-style savory cornbread would be an excellent accompaniment to the stew.

Spanish-style Chicken and Chorizo Stew
Adapted from Cooking Light, serves 4, easily doubled

Poached chicken:
2 cups fat free, low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 garlic cloves
1 onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
2 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat

6 ounces chopped Spanish chorizo
3 cups cubed red potatoes
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, dissolved briefly in warm water
1 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

To poach the chicken, combine all of the ingredients except the chicken in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer about 14 minutes or until chicken is done, checking at about 11 to 12 minutes. Take extra care not to over-cook the chicken or it will be tough and stringy. Remove the chicken, reserving the cooking liquid. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve, save and discard solids. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred and set aside.

Wipe the saucepan with paper towels and sauté the chopped chorizo over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, onion and bell pepper to the pan and sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt & pepper the vegetables, then add the garlic, cumin and the saffron and sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Simmer 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.* Add the shredded chicken and simmer for a minute or two, just to warm the chicken. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Ladle about 1 cup of stew into each of 4 bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve right away.

*Cook’s note: If you are making the stew in advance, stop at this point. Add the chicken when you reheat the stew so as not to make the chicken tough and the stir in the vinegar at the end.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, & Food on Friday at Carol's Chatter.   
Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Roasted Squash, Potatoes, & Pomegranate Salad over Arugula featured on BuzzFeed

My Carolina Kitchen’s Roasted Squash, Potatoes, & Pomegranate Salad over Arugula is featured on BuzzFeed’s 23 Delicious Salads To Get You Through Winter, link to their site and link to my salad recipe. Who said salads are only for summer?

I thought since it was still winter, you might enjoy my salad too. It's colorful enough to be part of you Valentine's Day menu. BuzzFeed are featuring many other delicious winter salads. Here are a few examples: Pink Grapefruit, Avocado and Watercress Salad, Kale, Apple & Pancetta Salad, and Roasted Spanish Cauliflower Salad. Link to BuzzFeed’s 23 Delicious Salads To Get You Through Winter. 

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes.   
Have a great week everyone & Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Heart Shaped French Coeur a la Crème with Raspberry & Grand Marnier Sauce

Coeur a la crème, a rich and impressive heart shaped French cream dessert served with a red berry & Grand Marnier sauce, is easy to make for Valentine’s Day and can be prepared days in advance. Raspberries or strawberries are the traditional garnishes, but chocolate shavings or molded chocolate roses also make a pretty presentation.

Coeur a la crème is made in white porcelain molds with tiny holes in the bottom to allow the excess liquid in the sweetened cheese to run off as it chills. Molds are available in specialty kitchen stores or from Amazon. They come in two sizes, a seven inch that serves six and individual four inch molds. If you don’t have a mold, Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten suggests you make a round Coeur in a seven inch sieve lined with cheesecloth and suspend it over a bowl to drain in the refrigerator. James Patterson in Glorious French Food makes individual round Coeurs by molding the cheese in cheesecloth lined muffin tins, pulling the cheesecloth up over the tops of each and transferring the wrapped cheese to a cake rack to drain overnight in the refrigerator.

For our Coeur, we followed a recipe from Ina Gartin’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook with raspberry sauce. Ina says the recipe was inspired by friend Anna Pump from her Loaves & Fishes Cookbook. Anna flavored the sauce with Framboise, a French raspberry eau-de-vie, and suggested garnishing the Coeur with either fresh hulled strawberries or strawberries dipped in chocolate.

The Coeur recipe is simple, includes only six ingredients and is quickly combined in the bowl of an electric mixer or a hand-held mixer will work too. The mixture goes into the heart shaped mold that has been lined with cheese cloth so the excess liquid can drain away. It can sit in the refrigerator for a day or so. To serve, unmold the cream on plate, drizzle with the berry sauce and garnish with fresh berries. Or you can ring the Coeur with raspberries and serve the sauce on the side so everyone can help themselves. It makes a nice amount of sauce. Voila, as the French say. It can’t get much easier than that. I suggest sitting close to your valentine and sharing this special dessert with the one you love.

Coeur a la Crème with Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce
The Food Network & Barefoot Contessa in Paris, by Ina Garten 

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean (or use good vanilla extract)
Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce, recipe follows
2 half-pints fresh raspberries (one for garnish)
Mint sprigs for garnish, if desired

Place the cream cheese (at room temperature) and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl with a hand-held mixer) and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds and beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.

Line a 7-inch sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl (preferably into a Coeur a la crème mold), making sure that there is space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, discard the liquid, remove the top layer of cheesecloth, invert the Coeur onto a plate and remove the mold, then remove the remaining cheesecloth, and drizzle with raspberry and Grand Marnier sauce (recipe below) around the base. Serve with raspberries and extra sauce. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs if desired.

Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce

1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)

Place raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and orange liqueur into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Strain to remove seeds if desired. Chill. Yield: 2 cups.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes.   
Have a great weekend and happy Valentine’s Day.