Monthly Archives: November 2011

Crock Pot Asian Pork

Crock Pot success! I swear, I just do not “get” a Crock Pot. It’s too easy. You’re telling me you just throw some things in, put the lid on and it’s done in 6-8 hours? Psh. Give me a kitchen full of grease splatters, oven spill-over and a bunch of dishes and I’ll believe you.

But finally, I saw this great recipe on Pinterest. If you haven’t joined Pinterest yet, you must immediately! Check out my pin boards to get your juices flowing. It’s basically a digital pin-board application that allows you to easily keep track of all the cool things you see on the web every day. It’s my favorite new social media community and has served up tons of inspiration from weddings to food and fashion. GET ON IT. I think it’s still in beta, so you’ll have to request an invite, but that takes less than a day.

So this yummy pork dish came from Pinterest and Skinny Taste. I like it because it’s healthy but so RICH in flavor. Searing a pork butt and then bathing it in a pool of soy sauce, sesame oil, chili flakes, garlic, balsamic vinegar and ginger…reveals a most succulent butt of pork. It doesn’t seem like enough liquid to keep the roast from drying out, but do not fear! (Note: Grant says he dumped a bottle of beer into it, which I cannot confirm, but the liquid was still low when I finished).

Fabulous over rice, I could practically drink the juices (that fat solids of which nicely solidify in the fridge for you to scoop out the next day).

Crock Pot Asian Pork

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb lean boneless boston butt pork roast (or pork center rib roast, pork center loin roast)
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1 cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup good soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root

Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet with canola oil. When hot, sear pork on all sides, until nicely browned, then set aside.

In Crock Pot, combine remaining ingredients. Place pork in pot, cover, and put on low for 8 hours.

Remove pork – it will be so soft, you can barely hold it with tongs – and shred with two forks. Add meat back to sauce. If you like, add some mushrooms and greens.

Serve up over rice and top with chopped cilantro and green onions.

I mean wow, I can’t stop talking about this! The next night, we used the leftovers in pork tacos.

If you are a Crock Pot novice, I highly recommend this recipe. Not only is it easy and delicious, but you will go crazy smelling those smells all day long! I cooked mine on a Sunday where I didn’t have time to do much cooking – had the roast in by 10:30 a.m. and it cooked away. Just fabulous.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Wine-Poached Pear Frangipane Tart

Almonds remind me of the first sentence in one of my favorite books, “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

The almonds used in this French frangipane tart are not bitter – rather, they are richly sweet ground into the pillowy filling that holds my tender wine-poached pear slices.

Adapted from Martha Stewart, of course, this flower-like tart is a definite crowd-pleaser. I omitted the rum simply because I had none, but a dash of alcohol never hurt anyone…

Pate Sucree (crust)

Ingredients (makes 2 crusts – you’ll need one; freeze the other):

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add yolks; pulse. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until dough just holds together (no longer than 20 seconds). Divide in half; shape each into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (up to 2 days).
White Wine Poached Pears
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 4 firm but ripe pears, stem on, peeled

Combine wine, 4 cups water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Add pears, reduce to simmer, and cook until the pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool pears in poaching liquid.


Wine-Poached Pear Frangipane Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 pate sucree
  • 4 wine-poached pears
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted, room-temperature butter, plus more for tart tin
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup fig jam, for glaze

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch tart tin with a removable bottom. Set aside. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour, and roll pastry dough (pate sucree) into a circle with a 14-inch diameter. Fit circle into prepared tin, being careful not to stretch dough too thin. Transfer to freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, finely grind almonds. Set aside.

Make the frangipane: Combine butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer). Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add ground almonds, egg, almond extract, and flour, and beat until smooth. Spread evenly into chilled tart shell and refrigerate while preparing pears.

Remove cooled poached pears from liquid and cut each in half lengthwise, removing core and stem. Place each half, cut side down, on a cutting board and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange sliced pear halves on frangipane around edge of tart, leaving space between each half. Bake until the tart shell is golden brown and the frangipane is puffed and brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

While the tart is baking, melt jam with 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Brush warm-from-the-oven pears with apricot-rum glaze.

Cool tart to room temperature before slicing.

Delicious! The pears themselves smell so wonderful while poaching – the wonderful combination of lemon, cinnamon and vanilla. Then the almond frangipane baking with that rich, buttery crust…ahhhh.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Kale Chips

Kale chips! How am I just now making these?! So easy and tasty. I guess I just didn’t believe in them. Now I can’t believe I haven’t been making them for years.

Just toss a few leaves with EVOO, salt and pepper, then bake until they become crisp for a perfect little snack or side. You can easily add other spices to jazz things up. Think cajun seasoning, BBQ seasoning, etc.

Here, I simply added lemon zest, from a Rachael Ray Magazine recipe.

Lemon Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped into chip sizes
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • EVOO
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Toss kale pieces with oil, then place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake, turning sheet once, until crispy – 8-10 minutes.

Once out of the oven, sprinkle with more seasonings and lemon zest.

They will look weird and kind of soggy and shriveled in places – but no! They are like shards of saltiness with a bitter-green undertone. And the chips literally dissolve on your tongue like a piece of rice paper.

Even for the kale haters, enjoy, friends! xoxo

Apple Butter, Brie and Prosciutto Toasts

Apple butter makes me think of the Fruit Loop in Oregon – a stretch of winding country roads that takes visitors through apple and pear orchards, vineyards and pumpkin patches. One stop along the way makes great BBQ, but what I remember more than the thick smoke hanging in the cool air is the giant cauldron of apple butter that a poor soul stirs and stirs over coals.

Now that I’ve made my own apple butter, I can really appreciate the labor of love. You literally need to commit a whole afternoon to stirring and reducing and checking for burning, etc. But I don’t have that kind of patience, so I took my butter to just under the butter stage (where the sauce becomes thick and spreadable). It still had the caramelized apple flavor, just wasn’t quite as thick as it should be.

Apple Cider Butter

  • 6 lbs apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 c. apple cider
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

In large saucepan, combine apples and cider. Bring to boil over medium, then reduce and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft, about 30 min.

In batches, transfer apple mixture to food processor and puree until a uniform texture is reached.

In clean big saucepan, combine apple puree, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil over medium, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring, until mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon – I did it for about 45 min.

Transfer to clean jars and let cool, then store in the fridge or give away!

I used mine on a yummy appetizer.

Apple Butter, Brie and Prosciutto Toasts

  • 1/2 c. apple butter
  • 1 baguette, cut into slices
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 lb. thin prosciutto slices
  • Thinly sliced apple
  • 8 oz. brie cheese

Toast baguette slices drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper, then rub the warm slices on one side with a garlic clove.

Top each slice with a dollop of apple butter, then prosciutto, then a slice of apple (or pear if you have it!) and finally the brie.

Broil the toasts until the brie is melted. Finish with another drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

The garlic is a nice touch, underneath the sweet apple butter, gamey ham and buttery brie. You will love it.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo