Friday, August 9, 2013

Nanking Cherry and Apple braised pork shoulder in a cherry cream sauce

My baby eating a baby sized
apple from my father's backyard. 
Sorry for the hiatus.  It's been a while. :) Motherhood has been busy, but enough of excuses. To be honest, life has been tough lately, and instead of airing my dirty laundry, I shall share my favourite recipe to date. Skip to the title for the recipe.

I came back from a sudden 2 1/2 week emergency trip to Montreal to find my garden had dried out. I had to harvest all my tomatoes and then prune what was left of my poor plants.  I cut all the flowering stems off my thyme (which I used for this recipe). But a trip to see my father and brother helped, in which I found apples and cherries ripening in the backyard, touched only by the birds and wildlife. Harvesting them was quite fulfilling, and eating them was even more fun, as I got to share it with my family.

The apples from my father's backyard are sweet and crispy.
Most of the ingredients were sourced locally. The pork shoulder is from a friend's farm, MooseWood Acres, from which I bought a 1/4 pig last year. The nanking cherries and apples were grown in my father's backyard.   The tomatoes, thyme and basil were from my dying container garden. And finally my friend runs Heritage Harvest CSA, a community supported agriculture program, which I joined for this season, and she had these darling potatoes! I was lucky to have all of these fresh ingredients after discarding most of my produce (which had gone bad from being gone for so long).

Nanking cherries, ripe for the picking. 
Explanation for the naming of the side salad: the little white and orange colours in the Caprese salad remind me of the balls in Pokemon, hence the name "Poke-caprese".  On top of that - I keep them together by "poke"ing a skewer through them.  Punny!
Nanking cherries, freshly picked! 

Braised Nanking Cherry and Apple braised pork shoulder
The basic ingredients. 

Salt and Pepper

Thyme (fresh chopped or dried), 2 tbsp
Salt (of your favourite variety), 2 tbsp
Pork Roast

Apples (peeled, cored and sliced), ~ 1 apple or  ~3 small apples.
Nanking Cherries, (pitted or in a mesh bag or teabag), ~ 1 or 2 cups for braising
Onion (sliced), 1 medium
Potatoes, (about 7 baby potatoes, scrubbed or peeled - keep whole)
Water (enough to cover half the roast)

Cherry Cream Sauce
Stock from the braising, ~ 250 mL
~25 large cherries, pitted
Cream (whipping or heavy), ~ 200 - 250 mL

Side: "Poke-caprese salad"
5 Cherry Tomatoes
5 Cocktail bocconcini cheese balls
10 basil leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Finished product!

1. Combine salt and thyme in a bowl. Rub on all sides of the pork roast.
2. In a dutch oven, heat oil on medium-high heat, sear the outside of the pork roast on all sides.
3. Using the same pot, fry onions in butter
4. Add half the water.
5. Add the apples, onions, potatoes and cherries.
6. When the stock boils, set temp. to low heat.
7. Cover and cook for about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, until the pork roast is tender.
8. Reserve 1 cup of stock.

For the sauce:
1. In a saucepan, heat the reserved stock on medium-high heat.
2. Add pitted cherries, bring to boil, and then immediately lower the heat.
3. Simmer until syrupy, on low heat.
4. Add cream, and simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Poke-caprese Salad:
1. In a small jar, combine olive oil and vinegar. Shake to create a vinaigrette (emulsify!)
2. Cut all the tomatoes and bocconcini into halves.
3. Skewer the tomatoes and boccncini as shown, with a folded basil leaf between each half.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Dress with vinaigrette.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baby-ful! And quick Pork Chop recipe

Dudes! I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. So many pictures, it's hard to pick the one I want to show off.  But motherhood is tough - and limited.  So - I finally found time to post one of the recipes I use to cook a dinner for me and my baby daddy when he's able to watch the baby. It takes 30 min start to finish. Pictures may happen next time I make this dinner.  For now, just use your imagination.  Plus, my baby is cuter than pork chops any day.

Tummy time!  
Dijon cream pork chops with hand cut chips
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

2 pork chops
olive oil
salt and pepper

1 tbsp butter
1 cup milk or cream
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp flour or cornstarch
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

1 potato, sliced into thin chip like slices
duck fat
herbs de provence
salt and pepper

In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter, and add garlic and onion. Add milk/cream and simmer until bubbling while stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from burning. Season with salt and pepper and add the flour to thicken the sauce to desired consistency. Add mustard and stir evenly.  If you want a smooth cream sauce, strain the sauce to take out the onion and garlic.

Coat the pork chops with olive and season with salt and pepper.  On high heat, fry the pork chops until browned.  Wrap (tent) with tin foil and place in a preheated 250 degree (toaster) oven for about 15 minutes (or until done).

While the pork chops in the oven, using the same pan, heat up butter and duck fat on medium to medium-high heat.  Place a layer of potato slices in the pan, avoid overlap. Season with salt and pepper, herbs de provence and fry until golden brown, then flip and fry up the other side.  Repeat with rest of the chips if needed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Duck Fried Rice

After completely roasting the duck, boiling it, I spent 1 hour (30 minutes per carcass) separating the meat and skin from the bones.  It was certainly time consuming, but well worth it.

My favourite thing to do with duck remnants is duck fried rice. Why? Because I often have veggies that I  need to use that are going bad, and it's a good way to use leftover rice that is too dry for normal consumption. But man, roasted, boiled, then STIR-FRIED?  This duck is going through a lot, and my dad calls it duck cruelty... after helping himself to seconds of the duck fried rice.

Duck Fried Rice
My lunch with dad - he steamed the siew choi with the
siu mai.  I just added it to my rice. 

Prep time: 30 minutes for cutting
Cook time: 15 - 20 minutes

1 tsp oil (or duck fat from skin)

3 dried shitake mushrooms (soaked and then diced finely)
leftovers of 1 duck carcass or about 1 cup of duck pieces (deboned, shredded)
1.5 - 2 cups of rice (semi-dried, best if it was cooked the night before)
1 green onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 medium onion (more or less dependent on the amount of fat you want to soak up) (diced)
1 egg
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp sugar

Random veggies for colour and flavour (pick and choose, I may or may not always have these):
1 small carrot (finely diced) - need to add with onion to cook longer for softness
1 small red/yellow/orange pepper (diced)
kale, spinach, broccoli (diced)
Whatever else you find in your fridge you want to add

Heat oil in pan or wok until hot.  If you have the duck skin separated from the duck meat, add that in first.  The oil from the duck skin should render out.
When oil/fat is heated, add garlic to flavour the oil/fat.
Then add the minced onion and mushrooms (and diced carrots if you want to at this point). Stir-fry until aromatic and/or caramelized.
Add shredded duck. Stir-fry until heated, then add veggies.

Push everything to one side and then add the flavouring ingredients (hoisin, tamari, sugar) and mix well into the veggies and duck.

If there is still too much oil, push everything to one side, and then scramble in the egg to soak up the leftover oil. After the egg is cooked, you can mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

Finally, add rice and mix well - stir fry until desired temperature and consistency (my rice usually comes cold, straight out of the fridge).

Serve. Top with green onions.

Best thing about fried rice? It tastes better the next day. :)  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

$5 Duck Carcasses = stock, fried rice, confit and more!

So, duck, it's a luxury item, right?

Confit potatoes, rendered duck fat and roasted duck carcass
Nah.  For $5 from the nice man at Green Eggs and Ham, I was able to get not 1, not 2, but 3! 3 duck carcasses! *muwahahahahaha*  I can't afford a whole free range duck, so I might as well get the off-cuts!

I defrosted all three, gave one to my brother and kept two, of which I roasted.  My brother's a champ - stating that the flavour in the protein is enhanced when you roast the duck for 35 minutes at 350 degrees after it has been dried.  So, I roasted the duck, with a little water in the collecting tray, and rendered the fat. So now I have duck fat for confit!

But of course, I couldn't get all the fat out of the tray, so I took some baby potatoes and onions, and mixed it in with the fat I couldn't collect. Then I stuck them in the oven (with some S&P) and confited the heck out of them (for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees). Heheheh gourmet hashbrowns for tomorrow morning! Just reheat in a frying pan and serve!

Duck carcass boiling for soup stock
One carcass will be used for stock, so that I can then freeze and thaw when I need stock for sauces or soups, including my agedashi tofu recipe.

After all this I will be tearing the meat off the bones - and using it for duck fried rice as well as duck green onion cakes.

No wonder I liked all the duck shows as a kid - like DarkWing Duck, Duck Tales, and even the Christmas Special with Scrooge McDuck! I knew how delicious they were as peking duck, bbq duck and now, leftover duck.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

I took on a new job: subbing for an intro psych course, and after meeting the lovely professor who I was replacing (I took a course from him in 1998/1999) and his lovely new Philipino wife, I was inspired by her honey/mustard/garlic bacon-wrapped shrimp. I wanted to make something simple and flavourful, so I came home to an overripe pineapple, old and dry rice and defrosted chicken breasts. I was super surprised how yummy my first attempt at pineapple chicken came out, and my chicken turned out very tender! So I thought I should share. I think you should use the veggies or fruit you have that go together (e.g. pear + raspberry + onions, pineapple + sweet peppers, mango + sweet peppers, etc...) so mix and match until you find your favourite combinations!

Stick in a bowl, turn it upside down - and voila!
Dim sum worthy presentation. :)  
Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice
Prep time: 30 minutes (add more to fresh cut your pineapple)
Cook time: 15 - 20 minutes

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 large onion (that's all I had), diced or minced
2 chicken breasts (or drumsticks, or whatever chicken you have, deboned) diced or 1" cubes
1 cup diced pineapple, the sweeter the better.
3/4 cup diced sweet red pepper
3/4 cup diced yellow pepper
green onions, finely chopped
2 - 3 cups day old rice (Using leftover rice is good because it is usually pretty dry)
Spinach as garnish/bedding

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Rub salt and pepper into chicken before cubing. Cover and let sit while prepping other veggies.

Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan on medium high to high.
Add garlic and onions and fry until aromatic.
Add chicken, and fry until outsides are cooked.
Add pineapple, and stir fry.
Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and honey, and stir fry (continually stirring to prevent burning).
Add peppers and stir fry until chicken juices flow.
Quickly add the rice, stir until all the moisture is absorbed by the rice, breaking up the rice as it cooks.
Add green onions and stir in.

Remove from heat, serve on bed of spinach (for nutrition).

This is pretty healthy - not much oil, not much sugar. It's not *pow* in your face flavour, but the subtle meshing of the simple flavours of the sweet honey/garlic/pineapple and salty sauces make it delicious. Of course, add more sauce/honey to enhance the flavour, but I am happy with subtle. I am going to use mango next time. :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interim post: Chilled Egg-drop Soba Soup

It's summer! It's hot! Soup is totally out of the question...or is it?

Ice cubes, bitches! :) LOL. 
This is quite popular in Japan, although the way I make it is with the local western ingredients that are available.

I love the egg and the avocado in my soup - it adds a nice creamy texture, and the avocado goes so well with the soup base. It also gives me a good dose of fat and protein, perfect for baby!  Although I like my egg a little less cooked than most people prefer.

Chilled Egg Drop Soba Soup

Prep time:  5 - 10 minutes
Cook time: 6 minutes

2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soy sauce (less if you want to decrease salt intake)
1 cup chicken stock (I make mine  from scratch)
pinch of sugar
1 egg

1 self-portioned organic buckwheat soba ($1.79/pack of 4 portions from Superstore - called Zarusoba).

Toppings: (anything you want really)
1/2 avocado, sliced
handful of spinach, washed and drained
cherry tomatoes
ice cubes

In a medium pot, bring water to boil, drop in soba noodles. Cook until desired softness (about 3 minutes).

In the meantime, boil mirin on high heat in a small pot until alcohol evaporates. Add soy, stock and sugar and bring to a boil.  Drop in an egg, and stir to break it up into "egg drops", cook until just before your favourite consistency.  (I like to leave my egg yolk intact and break up only the egg whites, and cook until the whites are cooked but the egg yolk is still runny).  Remove from heat.

Drain noodles and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, and to cool down the noodles.

Add noodles in a bowl, top with spinach.  Add soup on top (will slightly cook the spinach - I like that).
Top with toppings and add ice cubes to cool down the soup.


I know this is supah-azn, but some of you might appreciate the subtle flavours. :)
On that note: still no internet at home. It may be a while to the next post.  But since everyone is considering

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First meal in new home!

I now live in a townhome. Prepping for a baby. It's a nice home - very cozy, not modern or sleek, and definitely not in downtown.  I guess that's what people call "nesting". 

So breaking out all the awesome tools in my new (beautiful kitchen)...I made my first meal for the home:

It's all about the presentation, baby. :)
Omelette with Proscuitto wrapped Asparagus

Prep and cook time: Quick.  Seriously.

To be honest, I would post a recipe, but it's nothing special.  I used the same proscuitto ends I got on discount, and I tried a hard, strong cheese from the italian centre, loved it, bought it and promptly forgot what it was called (either that or it was leftover pecorino). It went well with apples though! The rest? Orange peppers (were on sale at superstore, but really don't have much flavour), green onions, cheddar, and 3 eggs (but the eggs were farm fresh). Add some salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, paprika to the egg, and some lemon juice for the asparagus, and voila, lunch.

I stuck some of the cheese in with the proscuitto and asparagus - and it went nicely. It was a nice light lunch after a whole weekend of packing/unpacking/moving/cleaning, etc...

On that note - I am sorry for the long break in between posts - I have been relying on my phone for internet/social networking, because Telus has yet to install actual infrastructure in our area. As I value porn over blogging, I used up most of my data plan.  Now I'm posting this from my dad's, who by the way, is the pickiest eater. :) He won't eat ANYTHING western.  Turns out the agedashi tofu I make is now a favourite so he wants it for his weekly wednesday lunch now.  I gotta keep making chicken stock for it! :P