Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lemon Grass Pork

This is another knock out that Rose made from one of her international cookbooks. It's an absolutely delicious stir-fry which was wonderful over rice noodles though we agreed that we would have it with rice the next time.


1-1/2 lb boneless pork loin
2 lemon grass stalks, finely chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
12 black peppercorns, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh red chilies, seeded and chopped
1 tsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
Salt and pepper

Trim excess fat from pork. Cut meat into 1/4 inch slices and then 1/4 inch strips. Put pork in bowl with lemon grass, green onions, salt, and crushed peppercorns. Mix well. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat wok, add oil and swirl around. Add pork mixture and stir-fry over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until browned all over.

Add garlic, chilies and stir-fry 5-8 minutes over medium heat until pork is cooked through.

Add sugar, fish sauce, and chopped peanuts. Toss to mix and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice noodles or vermicelli pasta.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Baking

Just to show that everything old is new again ... or something like that ... I was going to write about Christmas baking. Found this in last year's archives and the order is almost the same, except that as the last week before Christmas comes into view I am rather behind in the baking. But we always pull it off one way or another.

Anyway, I'm reposting this holiday goodness for anyone who cares to try the recipes.

I kicked off the baking season, as I always do, with a batch of Amaretti. Those little almond meringue cookies that are so easy to make and even easier to eat.

Next were Date Crumb Bars ... think homemade "Fig Newton" for these.

Then I stalled out ... luckily Rose came home and with everyone at work has time enough to take up the slack.

She began with some Chocolate Chunk Biscotti, which are so much easier to make than most people would ever credit.

Next up were Chocolate Mint Filled Cookies. This recipe basically is a chocolate sandwich cookie with a chocolate mint patty as filling. I had some Andes' chocolate mint chip-ish bits and she used those for the filling instead of the thin mint patty. They are good enough but not minty enough and next year we will go back to the standard way.

Of course, we can't forget Mexican Wedding Cakes, which are amazingly, buttery, nutty bits of goodness with just the slight sweetness that comes from a powdered sugar coating.

Peanut Butter Bears (which I can't believe I never shared here ... must fix that soon). They are a delicious, crisp peanut butter cookie that has a texture reminiscent of shortbread somehow. This year we figured the girls are finally old enough not to care about making bears of the dough and Rose added chocolate chips and rolled them into balls which she flattened with her hand. Delicious!

Last up will be sugar cookies, cut into various Christmas shapes, of course, and then frosted in a Christmas Eve family decorating marathon. I am still searching for that holy grail of sugar cookie recipes so tend to try a different one every year in my quest for perfection.

That isn't all the baking though.

Last weekend I made Mashed Potato Dinner Rolls and put them in the freezer awaiting thawing for their Christmas dinner debut.

On Christmas Eve I will make Pecan Rolls, which was our family's traditional Christmas morning breakfast all through my youth. There is nothing like eating those rolls and ripping open gifts while the paper sticks to your hands because of the cinnamony syrup. Mmmm, mmmm.  I never realized until now that I have neglected to share it with y'all. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's only potatoes, you say. No. It isn't. [UPDATED]

And my sis has the whole story why at her blog, The Guideline.

Guess what?

I already was planning on making those potatoes. Haven't had them for years but they are "on my palate" whenever I think of the roast pork I am planning.

Our family is definitely on the same page.

The recipe is freestyle. Check comments for Lisa's version and for mine.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

More of Rose's weeknight culinary delights. This one is from Cooking Up a Storm (recipes requested and restored to the Louisiana folks that lost them during Hurricane Katrina). Tom gave it to me for Christmas but I never got around to making anything from it. Which is clearly nuts, given how good this was.

Cooking Up a Storm, page 197

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1-1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 lb smoked sausage (andouille, kielbasa), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1-1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped
1 cup green bell peppers, chopped
3 cups water
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp green onions, chopped
1-1/2 cups long-grain rice

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot. Season the chicken pieces generously with Cajun seasoning. Add the chicken to the pot and cook, stirring, over medium heat until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the onions and peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft and golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the water, tomato paste, parsley, and green onions. Stir and bring to a boil.

Add the rice, cover the pot, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid, 15 to 20 minutes. Do not stir. Fluff the mixture with a fork before serving.

All I Want for Christmas is an Old Fashioned Pork Roast

The kind with moist, tender roast pork and crackling fat. Yes, I said it.

Kind of like this one I found on Leite's Culinaria.

Or the fresh Roasted Pork Leg from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries.

Obviously, I'm ready to relive the days of my past when all pork wasn't dry and lean.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Rigatoni with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese

Here's another dish Rose chose that never would have appealed to my mental palate in a million years. But it worked beautifully. In fact, Tom said that it was like something you'd get in an Italian restaurant and wonder what they did to make it so delicious. High praise indeed, as he is not averse to blue cheese, but he's also not its biggest fan.

I believe this came from one of my Cooking Light cookbooks. Rose cooked it for one of our meatless Friday dishes. It was no penance at all, I assure you!


Cooking oil
1 cup onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp flour
6 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1 lb rigatoni pasta, cooked
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Heat oil in large pan over medium heat. Saute onions until golden brown. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Whisk flour into chicken broth. Add chicken broth, spinach, and tomato to pan. Cook until spinach has released liquid. Bring to boil and simmer until sauce thickens. Add more flour if needed. Pour sauce over pasta . Add blue cheese and toss until cheese has melted.