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Posts Tagged ‘food’

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If you follow my blog, you know that the photos on it are taken by my husband, Steve Pool.  After many, many years of prodding, we finally got him to put himself out into the internet world through a website which is www.stevepool.net.  I share one of his much-loved flower photos with an urge for you to visit his website.  He sells prints and should you desire, I think he might make cards from any of the photos on the website or from any photos on my blog that lend themselves to the card format.  We – his friends, family, and editors – love his work and I hope you will share it with others also.

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It’s been quite a while since I wrote my last blog post.  I don’t exactly know why I stopped. Maybe I felt I had run out of things to say. Maybe I just got lazy.  Maybe I wondered if I had been at it so long that I couldn’t write another recipe that was interesting.  But if I really wanted to speak the truth I think that after I lost my oldest son to lung cancer, my heart just wasn’t interested in doing too much of anything other than watching my grandchildren grow up, particularly our youngest granddaughter who is 15 years younger than our middle granddaughter. Watching her as she celebrates her birthdays gives us one more chance to feel the joy of watching a little one grow up to be an amazing adult.

One day last week the thought came to me that I’d like to be back at it.  So here I am.  I hope that I have a little stick-to-it still in my bones and that I will keep writing recipes for years to come.  More than anything, I would love to hear from you if you come across the blog. I would love to hear about the foods you enjoy, favorite recipes, and, of course, tell me if you enjoy the blog or even if you hate it.  If the latter I’ll try to do a better job.

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Mussels cooking

 

Fortunately, our Union Square Green Market isn’t just vegetables and fruits – we have cheeses, meats, poultry, fish, plants, and cut flowers to complete the outdoor shopping experience.  I was looking for some inspiration on Saturday and found some merguez sausage at the Flying Pigs Farm (www.flyingpigsfarm.com) stall.  That purchase led to a couple of pounds of mussels at Seatuck Fish Company (www.seatuckfish.com) and the two of them led to dinner pulled together in my beautiful Scanpan covered chef’s pan.
Here’s how it came about:  I sautéed some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until just softened.  I sliced up the sausage and added it to the pan and cooked it until it had lost its color.  Then I added about 1 cup of dry white wine, brought the mix to a boil and then lowered the heat and simmered for about 4 or 5 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.  That was followed with ¾ cup of pureed fresh tomatoes, 1 cup of clam broth, and some basil and chile flakes.  I cooked the liquid for a bit to allow the flavors to blend.  Then I added the scrubbed mussels and covered the pan.  Since the lid is glass I could watch the mussels open so just as they began to open I added a big handful of yellow cherry tomatoes and another handful of sliced baby red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.  Again, I covered and watched the mussels finish popping open.  Voila! A one pot dinner came to the table, 1,2,3!

 

Mussels plated

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The only real spring product in this dinner was the asparagus, but it was, at long last, local.  This has been such a long winter that any sign of spring has been welcomed with enthusiasm.  Very slowly, spring omens have appeared – first thin stalks of asparagus, just the past week ramps have shown their bright green leaves at the farmers market, but I think that they are being picked far too young as you barely see the white stalks as they are so thin and not scallion-like or bulbed at all.
I sautéed the asparagus with some parmacotto ham that I had leftover from a little pre-wedding cocktail gathering we had for friends.  I seasoned it with a touch of sherry vinegar and that was it.  The sweet potatoes were the last touch of winter and the chicken breast is my year-round go-to for a quick dinner.

 

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Harissa_3060182

 

I had some dried chilies on hand so decided to make harissa. We all love spicy food and a little dab of harissa can turn even the dullest dish into a hot tamale. Should you have some extra dried red chiles on hand, here is my recipe. Don’t remember where I got it, but it certainly does the job up right.

½ pound dried red hot chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon toasted mustard seeds
½ to ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Place the chiles in a heatproof bowl with boiling water to cover by 1-inch. Set aside to soak for 2 hours, or until the chiles are very soft. Drain well and pat dry.
Place the soaked chiles in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the garlic and mustard seeds and, with the motor running, slowly add ½ cup of the olive oil. When well blended, add the salt and process to incorporate. If very thick, add the remaining olive oil to thin.
Transfer the harissa to a nonreactive container and store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 month.

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Just in case you are tired of the same old toss green salad, here is something that will add some zing to your dinner table. I shaved a bunch of radishes (which were unusually crisp and pungent) over a container of daikon radish sprouts. I tossed the mix with a dressing made with sesame oil, lemon and orange juice, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and pickled ginger. A sprightly mix that highlighted an otherwise ordinary dinner. It is a salad I will return to often.

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Nachos_0341

 

We used to do production for clients in a factory near Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. At the end of a long day we would head to this charming Mexican restaurant that welcomed us with sparkling tiny white lights strung through the trees and a gurgling fountain in the enclosed patio. We would immediately sink into relaxation. The first thing on our menu was a frosty margarita followed by my pick, nachos. Until recently I had never bothered to make those delicious nachos at home, but urged on by Steve (who had a yen for them) I decided to give replicating our favorite the old college try. When all was said and done, I think I made nachos that were even better than we remembered.
Here’s what I did.
I covered the bottom of a large jelly roll pan with chips (I use Xochitl brand, Mexican style stone-ground corn chips). I sprinkled carnitas over the chips followed by black beans and pico de gallo. Then I did another layer of chips followed by the same threesome. Sprinkled cheese over the top and put the whole mess in a very hot oven. In about 10 minutes we had a melted cheesy mess that we garnished with guacamole and more pico de gallo. It was delicious. All that was missing was the twinkling lights and gurgling fountain.
Carnitas

 

1 tablespoon lard or peanut oil
5 pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into large chunks
Salt to taste
About 2 cups chicken stock or nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon pure chile powder (not commercially packed seasoned chili powder)
1 teaspoon ground cumin

 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pork, season generously with salt, and sear, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until very crusty and dark brown.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned pork to a double layer of paper towel to drain off excess fat.
Add 1 cup of cold water to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the drained pork to the pan. Add just enough chicken stock (or broth) to almost cover the meat with liquid. Make sure you do not cover it entirely. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, chile powder, and cumin.
Transfer to the preheated oven and roast, turning the meat occasionally, for about 3 hours or until the pan is almost dry and the meat is falling apart.
Remove from the oven and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate to cool. Let rest until cool enough to handle.
When cool, pull the meat apart into almost bite-sized pieces. The carnitas may be made up to this point and returned to whatever cooking liquid is left in the pan. Then, stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Place the pork pieces in a baking pan along with the liquid and roast, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the pan is dry and the pork pieces are almost charred and crispy. This meat may be used for tacos, nachos, burritos, or enchiladas.

 

nachos

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