Mustard and Mushrooms

I had high hopes for our kale because every other year we’ve had an abundance of it from just a few plants.  Alas, not this year.  Which I think my husband is thrilled about as he is not a huge fan of what he refers to as rabbit food.  🙂 I succeeded in growing tiny kale, most of which I used for this dinner.  For two, mind.  Pretty pathetic if you ask me.

Mushroom mustard sauce 1 2014

The kale was the base of the dish with pan browned pork and a mushroom mustard sauce.  Because I’ve recently done a couple of dishes with bacon I had bacon fat on reserve which I used to brown the pork.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.

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Remove from the pan and finish cooking by baking.  I had the oven going for the roasted parsnips so I popped the pork in with the parsnips.  For the mushroom sauce pick a mushroom of your choice that is on the lighter side, not meaty like portabellos.  Chop up the mushrooms and saute in the bacon fat used for the pork.

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Add about 2 tablespoons of stone ground mustard and 1/4 cup of dry white wine and continue to saute.  Add a few pinches of sea salt and a bit of pepper.

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When the pork is nearly done add a bit of bacon fat to another small skillet and lightly cook the kale.

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Reduce the sauce by about a 1/3.

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Place the pork on the kale then spoon the sauce over the pork to serve.

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A simple dish that has loads of flavour.  🙂

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and Tacos with a Cuban Flair

Our tomatillos are coming along like crazy so it is time to pick them and make delicious food.  There isn’t any way to use them all at once so I’ll be freezing a bunch this week to keep up with it all.  We had roast pork left over as well as the marinade from the Cuban sandwiches I made so I thought with these ingredients and a tomatillo salsa we’d have a delicious dinner.

I enjoyed puttering about the kitchen making the various components to this dish.  First on the list were the easy tortillas.  Though it is hot work in the summer!  I found this tomatillo salsa recipe that was easy to make and needed some hot peppers.  Which are ready to pick in our garden!

Roasted tomatillo sauce 1 2014

Remove the husks of about a pound of tomatillos, rinse and slice them in half.  Place them face down on a baking sheet.  Add two jalapenos and two cloves of garlic with the skins still on.

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Broil until the three ingredients are charred.  Keep an eye on them while broiling as you don’t them to be charcoal!

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The original recipe calls for using a mortar and pestle.  One I don’t have one and two I’d rather have this quick and easy.  I do have, however, a blender!  Top the peppers, skin the garlic, and remove the toughest char on the tomatillos.  Add this to the blender.  Slice about 1/4 of a small onion and two tablespoons of fresh cilantro.

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Add the juice of half a lime.

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Season with salt then pulse in the blender.

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The hard part is over!  Not that it’s been that hard up to now.  🙂  For the tacos prep the veg you want in the dish.  In addition to the mushrooms, onions, and sweet pepper I picked a Ring O’ Fire pepper and a poblano pepper.

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I sliced up the remaining pork and sauteed it with the onion in a little bit of olive oil.

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Add in the peppers and mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes.  Then add about 3/4 cup of the marinade and simmer until the sauce reduces by more than half.  Spoon some down the middle of the tortilla.

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Sprinkle shredded cheese over the filling and spoon the tomatillo salsa over the cheese.

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Add the sour cream and enjoy!

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The tomatillos worked really well with the citrus of the marinade.  A bit messy to eat though!


Hot Italian Sausage with Apples and Sage

It’s been a fun week so far.  Last night a few of the ladies from our PTA decided we needed a girl’s night out.  It was a lot of fun and we stayed out past 10 on a week night!  LOL.  Today our school put on a volunteer tea for those of us that have been volunteering with the PTA and other school activities.  It was lovely with iced tea and baked goods.  A treat in the middle of the week and I got to see the kids on an off kid week.  Bonus!  Now if the pending thunderstorms hold off until we get the dogs walked, well, we’ll just be riding high.

At our farmer’s market I bought some ground hot Italian sausage and I wanted to do some meatballs.  I saw an idea for using apples and sage.  Once again though the pin was considered spam and didn’t give me a recipe.  That’s ok though, I was able to come up with something.  🙂

I made our homemade pasta first so it was ready to go.

I was pleased to see our sage was doing well again this year so I had some fresh sage at hand.  The plants only last about three years or so.

Apple Sage Sausages 1 2014

Peel and chop about 1/2 a cup of apple.  Give the rest to the optimistic dogs at your feet.  I swear the mantra is “drop it, drop it, drop it”.   In a small bowl mix about a pound of the sausage, the apple, chopped sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Form the sausage into balls and heat up olive oil in a skillet.  Brown both sides.

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Bake the meatballs at 375F/190C until cooked.  In the meantime prepare the sauce.  Chop up some onion and a couple cloves of garlic and saute in the pan that browned the meatballs.  Slice up mushrooms and add to the mixture and saute for a few minutes.

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Add a cup of reisling and a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Reduce about a third.

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Add about 3/4 cup of milk or cream to the dish.  Bring to a low simmer but do not boil.  Add the meatballs and the cooked pasta.

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Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish and serve.  I do like the pairing of sage and apple and it went well with the spice of the sausage.

Such A Treat – Pork Belly!

A few months ago I was able to try pork belly for the first time.  I had heard how wonderful it was so I kept an eye out for it. One of the restaurants downtown had it as a special so I couldn’t pass up the chance.  I was hooked.  Buttery, tender, and oh so good.  But then I couldn’t find it in any store so I could try it at home.

That is until recently.  Our local co-op was selling big pieces of it so I snapped one up.  I figured I would cook a small piece for dinner and save the rest for my attempt at homemade bacon.  That is still on the list for something after tax season.

Preheat the oven at 300F/150C

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Cut off the piece that you want to roast and score a diamond shape into the fat.  Don’t go so deep that you hit the meat.  This will help render the fat down into the pork.

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Rub some sea salt and pepper into the skin with some olive oil.  Place into a baking dish.  Next I added some rosemary, a few cloves of garlic, half a red onion, and red wine.

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Bake covered for a couple of hours until nearly done.  Remove the cover to brown the top. If you want more of a crispy crackle then uncover sooner.  This would be too much fat for me so I wasn’t overly worried about how crispy it was.

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Some will remove that fat and roast the fat to make it really crispy as a treat.  Set aside the pork to rest.  In a skillet pour about half the juices in and add some more red wine and about a 1/2 cup of veg broth.  Simmer to reduce down.

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Once it’s reduced by half remove from the heat.  It is ready to serve.  I added roast potatoes and some corn for my dish and my husband had some Brussels sprouts.

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I really loved it.  I’m looking forward to trying my hand at the bacon.  But I will make something along the lines of this again.

No Two Tastebuds Alike

How things taste to different people fascinates me.  For this recipe of cherries and pork my husband and I had two different reactions to it.  It makes me wonder how various foods made it on our list of ok to eat.  If I had been the first person ever to try Brussels sprouts then it would have never made it on the list.  I would have deemed it poison and moved on.  Way too bitter to me.  I’m not convinced it can have a nutty sweet flavour.  And unless an onion fell into the fire before I tasted it I would have said the same about raw onions.  Then again I love Marmite and my husband would be pleased to never have it in the house.

I was puttering about my pinterest boards and came across this recipe for pork chops with a cherry balsamic sauce.  It sounded interesting but I made some changes to it as I felt solely using balsamic to reduce would be overpowering with the cherries.  It took some tweaking to get the sauce right because the cherries were quite tart as well.  This is a quick meal that is perfect for a busy school night or you just don’t feel like cooking too much.

In a skillet with olive oil brown both sides of some pork chops that have been seasoned with salt and pepper.

Cherry and pork 1 2014

Remove and keep warm.  In the same skillet put about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and add in about a cup of chopped cherries.  Add some fresh thyme along with a cup of turkey or chicken stock and simmer for a couple of minutes.

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The cherries were very tart and the balsamic was adding a similar note so I added a bit of honey then half an onion to counter the sweetness.  It was very much an experiment to get the right balance!  Once you have the right balance add the pork back into the sauce and simmer to cook the pork and reduce the sauce.

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We served the pork with some corn and rice pilaf for a simple meal.

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Now for the two different reactions we had.  I felt the sauce was ok but not very exciting by itself but when I had it with the pork it really came alive.  For my husband he enjoyed the sauce but felt the pork was gamey and fought with the sauce.  I know he and I taste things differently as it’s proved out time and again when I’m trying to make something spicy enough for him.  I’ll be on fire and he’ll be enjoying the mild flavour.  🙂  So I think at the end of the day this was a fun experiment but I may have to revisit it so both of us enjoy it.

Garlic Mustard Pork Loin

Thursday night was a continuation of the violent storms.  Which meant I was not cooking outside!  I did not want to risk looking like a seared steak.  My only choice was to do this dish on the stove top and toaster oven.  It came out great but I do like having it done on the grill.  A nicer sear on the meat.

It had to be a quick dish as boy scouts started up that night as well.  Well it’s Webelos which is one step down from boy scouts.  Anyone who swears girls scream louder than boys has never been to a pack meeting.  It can be deafening.  But my son loves it so what can you do?  He learned two new knots last night and he got a kick out of that.

I took some locally made garlic mustard and blended it with a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Mustard pork 1 2013

I seasoned the pork with salt and pepper and rubbed the mustard onto the pork.  After heating up some olive oil in a skillet I seared both sides of the pork.

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I placed it in the oven at 325F/160C to bake.  At the end I did up it to 375F/190C because time was a ticking and I still had to do the homework check before the boy scouts.  In the meantime I cooked up some rice, sauteed Brussel Sprouts for my husband and some eggplant/aubergine for the rest of us.  After letting the pork rest I sliced it.

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The pork came out nice and moist and the garlic mustard was a nice pairing without overwhelming it.

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Loads of flavour for a quick meal on a busy school night!

No Two Ways About It…

I’ve mentioned before about the different diets in my family and working out how to cook for everyone.  I’m included in that as there are some things I just won’t eat.  My sister has been vegetarian for most of her life though since she had kids she will eat some fish.  She is bringing up her kids the same way.  When she visits I usually take the opportunity to cook some salmon as I don’t have that often.

I didn’t want to cook two separate meals though as it was a hot day, there were 5 kids in the house running round, and we were tired!  Kids should not have more energy than the parents.  Evolution seriously got that wrong somewhere along the lines!  So I needed something that would work for grilled pork and grilled salmon.  I got inspiration from Richard with his post on a fabulous salsa.  The funny thing is I did this dish on Wednesday and his post yesterday was with pork.  🙂  I went the Italian route for this as it couldn’t be spicy.  Turns out my sister reacts to spicy peppers.  I thought she just didn’t like spicy food.  However, fire roasted tomatoes sounded wonderful!

We still have boatloads of tomatoes in the garden so I grabbed a bunch and also picked some fresh thyme for this dish.

Fire roasted tomato sauce 1 2013

Slice the tomatoes in half and season with salt and pepper then drizzle with olive oil.  Cut one onion in half as well.

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I put the onion directly on the grill but the tomatoes were in a grill pan.  The grill temp was about 325F/163C.  Halfway through cooking turn them over.  Cook until the skins start pulling away and they shrink a bit.

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For the onions I grilled them until they had nice grill marks on them.

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In a food processor I pulsed the tomatoes and onion coarsely.  In a skillet with olive oil I sauteed some garlic and thyme then added the tomato mixture.  I added a bit more salt and pepper and some real balsamic vinegar and let it reduce slightly.  In the meantime I grilled the pork and salmon.  I have to say this was the best salmon I bought.  It was wild caught which is so much better than farmed but even this raised the bar.  Need to go back and see if they have anymore!  I kept the proteins simple, just salt and pepper to season.

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To serve I spooned the sauce over the pork and salmon.

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My sister was kind enough to bring a chick pea salad and I did a greek salad with homemade greek dressing.  We had a lovely visit with good food and good company.  Oh and good wine.  😉


Sausage Rolls

Whenever we head back to England for a couple of weeks I always have a list of food to eat.  All the foods we can’t get stateside.  Fish and chips, cornish pasties, chocolates, pork pies, and sausage rolls!  Not to mention the crumbles my MIL makes.   Surprise, surprise I usually gain a few pounds and then have to Zumba like crazy.  But it’s worth it.  🙂

We had friends over a few nights ago and I made sausage rolls as finger food.  I don’t make it often because there are only so many Zumba classes I can take!  But these are super easy to make and very yummy.

Preheat the oven to 425F.

To start with chop half an onion and saute in melted butter.

Once the onions are soft let them cool a bit.  In a mixing bowl add about a pound of ground pork, some fennel seeds, salt and pepper, oregano and basil.

Freshly grate parmesan cheese.  About 3/4 cup will do and add to the bowl.

Add the onions then mix.  Don’t be shy dig in with your hands!  They will clean up.  🙂

Roll out some puff pastry.  One of these days I’ll learn how to make it from scratch but until then store bought it is.  Place a line of sausage onto the pastry.

Roll it once to surround the sausage and then use a knife to cut the pastry.  Cut the roll in half and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and flaky and the sausage is cooked through.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

I’ll be on the road this week so it will be a bit before I do my next post.  See you soon!



Pan Fried Pork Chops with Apples

I’ve mentioned before Rich can cook.  He cooks amazing things.  And true to form, this dish was delicious.  His inspiration was from an old cookbook we have.  It was the pan fried pork recipe out of the “The Good Housekeeping Cookbook – A step by step cookbook”.  Of course, ahem, we’ve changed the recipe. 🙂

First you want to slice up some onions and saute them in olive oil.  Once they’ve softened a bit put them aside.  Salt and pepper the pork and place it in the pan you used for the onions.

Cook 5 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile put a baking pan in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil at 350 F.  We use the toaster oven.  We heat the pan so we aren’t placing food in a cold dish with cold oil.  We want to keep that nice sear that was achieved.

Put the pork in the baking dish and sprinkle with lemon thyme. Bake until nearly cooked.

Onto the sauce!  Saute sliced apples and the sauteed onions together and add a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Take 1/2 cup of hard cider with a teaspoon of corn starch dissolved in it and add to the pan.  Add splashes of the cider as you need to deglaze the pan as well.  Simmer until you have the apples at the softness you want.  Add the pork back into the sauce.

Simmer for a few minutes so pork is cooked then serve.  This dish takes between 30-45 minutes to make.  And this was enough for our family of four with a side potato dish.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

For our wedding anniversary we’ve started a tradition where we pick out a present for ourselves.  Something we would enjoy together.  Last year our grill that was over 10 years old was falling apart and probably wasn’t the safest thing anymore.  So off we went to get ourselves a new grill.  After much research we settled on one that had 5 burners, a side burner, and last but not least, a smoker!  This is the only smoker I like, the human kind walking by me on the street, not so much.

For pork I usually use apple wood chips.  To add flavour to this dish I also used lemon thyme from the garden.  But you must soak these first in water.

These should soak for about 20 minutes but you can do it for longer if you have other stuff to complete.

For this cut of meat I am able to get all natural without any antibiotics or hormones at our local grocery store.  For the marinade I used a bit of olive oil, minced garlic, white balsamic vinegar, some dried oregano and basil.  I salt and pepper the pork then put the marinade on top.  I got distracted and forgot to take a picture.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Trust me.  😉

While the pork is absorbing flavours I start the smoker.  When it is about 250F I put the pork in.  If I have time I let it cook completely in the smoker. I do let the temperature get up to about 350 F.  It was getting late and we all get cranky if we don’t get fed so I smoked it for about 40 minutes and finished it off in the toaster oven.  Crankiness averted!

Let it rest and then serve.  This meal took a bit longer due to the protein.  Overall from the time I started until the time we sat down to eat was about an hour and 15 minutes.