Bok Choy, Eggplant and Peppers with Oyster Sauce

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Beautiful Bok Choy Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

We love baby bok choy and chinese eggplant.  When I saw them looking all fresh and delicious at the Asian market, I couldn’t resist.  I grabbed a beautiful red pepper, too and it made for a quick and easy supper.   The recipe is from foodandwine.com with a few tweaks of my own.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. baby bok choy, washed and patted dry
2 small Chinese eggplants* (about 1 ½” x 10″) halved and cut into ½” half circles
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1″ squares
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 big tsp chopped garlic (or two cloves fresh minced)
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 cups basmati or jasmine rice**
3 and 7/8 cup water
1 tsp salt

Rinse rice well and start cooking with water and salt on medium heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil on medium/high heat. You can use peanut oil or canola, but I had Olive oil handy so I just used that. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.

Add bok choy and cook, moving it gently but constantly so the garlic and ginger don’t burn.  Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add eggplants and peppers and continue cooking and tossing for another minute.

Add oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce and cook for another minute or so until everything is warmed through. If the bottom of the pan is starting to brown too much, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and scrape up the bottom.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice.

*You could probably substitute a small regular eggplant for the Chinese eggplants. Don’t think it would be the same without the Bok Choy. If you can only get regular bok choy, wash and pat it dry and then slice it into four quarters.

** Jasmine or another long grain rice would be great, but I always have basmati, so that’s what I used.

Ina’s Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Served for Christmas Lunch this year with Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad and Baked Apple Pancakes.  It’s from Ina Garten’s “Back to Basics” cookbook. So delicious and so easy!

Ingredients

3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp minced Garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh Rosemary (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh Thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
3 Pork Tenderloins (about 3 lbs.)

Combine everything (including 2 tsp salt in a 1 gallon ziploc bag. Mix really well. Add the pork tenderloins and coat with marinade. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven 400. Remove the pork tenderloins from the bag, letting excess liquids run off but keeping herby stuff on the meat. Place on a baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Remove from oven, cover with foil and let sit for another 10 minutes. Cut against the grain in 1/2″ slices.

The kids suggested that next time, I try a reverse sear on this, cooking it at 400 for 25-30 minutes and then broiling it for the last 5 minutes, to get a darker outer color. As long as you hit 145 degrees, either way is great.

Ina actually grills hers – for 15 to 25 minutes turning to brown all sides, until meat hits 137 degrees. Then she covers with foil and lets sit for 10 minutes.  Winter in Nebraska made grilling a no go – but even roasted, it was so delicious and easy!

I look forward to trying this marinade with boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breasts.

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

portobello-lasagnaThis is one of Ina Garten’s recipes from “Barefoot Contessa at Home.”  It is a surprisingly easy dish to make and was really delicious.  I oohed and aahed about it so much that my friend Donna photographed the cookbook page.  So Donna, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

kosher salt
good olive oil
12 lasagna noodles
4 cups whole milk
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 lbs Portobello mushrooms (I used three 8 oz packages of sliced Baby Bellos.)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.
Bring a large pot of water to boil with a Tbsp of salt and a splash of oil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

Heat milk in a glass container in the microwave until just starting to bubble at the edges. In a large saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter and add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Add the hot milk, 1 Tbsp salt, the pepper and nutmeg and cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, for 3-5 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of oil, until shimmering. Add the first 8 oz. container of mushrooms. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released some of their juices and are starting to get golden edges.

Remove from pan, add a little more oil and butter and start second container of mushrooms. You’ll do the same for the third container.

Since each container gets its own layer of the lasagna, you can start creating the layers while the second and third batch of mushrooms are cooking.

To assemble the lasagna, pour about 1/3 of a cup of sauce in the bottom of a rectangular, ceramic baking dish. (My dish held three full lasagna noodles perfectly.)

Next, put three lasagna noodles, then about a cup of sauce, then the 1st batch of mushrooms, and about a 1/4 of the Parmesan. Second layer: again noodles, then sauce, then mushrooms and then Parmesan. Third layer: again noodles, then sauce, then mushrooms and then Parmesan. Add last three noodles and pour remaining sauce on top and sprinkle remaining Parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot. Yum!

Shrimp with Orzo, Tomatoes, Dill, Lemon and Feta

Great dish for supper last night! I found the original recipe here, but made some changes:  I swapped out celery for fennel, lemon juice for lemon zest and dried dill instead of fresh, because it’s what I had.  It was supposed to also be baked for 8 minutes at 450, but it cooked just fine right on the stove.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb shrimp, peeled
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups celery, in bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1⁄8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1⁄2 lb orzo pasta
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup pitted kalamata olive, halved if large (small is fine intact)
1 1/2 Tbsp dried dill weed
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2⁄3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
5 ounces feta, coarsely crumbled, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Dry shrimp with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add shrimp and cook 1 1/2 minutes per side, turning once. Remove to a plate, and turn heat down to medium.

Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to pan, and add celery, garlic, chili flakes, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Cook for several minutes, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.  Stir in white wine and let reduce for a minute or so.

Add orzo, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, dill, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add chicken broth, stir again and return shrimp to skillet.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.  Cook for 8 or 9 minutes until Orzo is cooked to al dente. If it seems to be getting too dry, add a little more chicken broth. Check seasonings.

Serve immediately, with feta sprinkled on.

Note:  you may want to cut the tomatoes in half, as they got very, very hot and kind of exploded into tomato napalm in our mouths.

Autumn Soup – a Very Reliable Form of Soup

My mom, Marilyn Hunter used to make Autumn Soup from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and we loved it.  It was a pretty simple soup – but filling and delish.  I was pleased years later when I came across a reference to this soup while reading “A Girl Named Zippy” which is a wonderful autobiography by Haven Kimmel.

Haven grew up in Mooreland, Indiana and approached life with an irrepressible spirit.  She mentions that her friend’s mother made Autumn Soup, which she called “a very reliable form of soup.”  So if you get a chance, order the book, read it and make Autumn Soup to celebrate Marilyn, Haven Kimmel and reliable food!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups water
1 cup each chopped carrots and celery
1 cup diced potatoes (peel first if needed)
2 tsp salt
1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
2 fresh tomatoes, diced

Heal oil in a dutch oven. Add ground beef and brown. Add onions and cook stirring frequently for several minutes. Add all other ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes. Check seasoning and serve.

Note: The original recipe called for six fresh tomatoes completely intact added to the pot. Each bowl would get a giant tomato smack in the middle of the bowl, but my Mom never made it like that, and six diced tomatoes would just be too much.

 

Po’ Boys for a Crowd

how-to-make-a-po-boyThere was Moon over Bourbon Street at our house recently, and we served Po’ Boys for a crowd.

Making Po’ Boys is quite easy, and they are so tasty! We offered a choice of beef brisket or Cajun Roasted Cauliflower for fillings, along with fresh, sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, Remoulade Sauce or Mayo and hot sauce on a split french roll.

We served the Beef Brisket in one 1/2 catering tray, and the roasted Cauliflower in another 1/2 catering tray. Both trays fit in one large tray, with 1/2″ of water in the bottom to keep them warm, with two tins of chafing dish fuel.

Each Beef Brisket 1/2 catering tray makes 16 – 24 sandwiches, depending on how much brisket people use. The Cauliflower is probably the same.

For each half tray, you’ll need

5 lbs. of sliced beef brisket (We used 2 packages of beef brisket from Costco.)
10 cups cauliflower florets, seasoned and roasted
3-4 sliced tomatoes
3-4 cups shredded tomatoes
Remoulade Sauce or Mayonnaise
Hot Sauce
18 French Rolls (Again, we used the french rolls from Costco.)

To heat the brisket, just add two packages (5 lbs.) of brisket to a 1/2 catering tray and add 1/2 cup water. Seal tightly with aluminum foil and bake at least 30 minutes. We warmed out trays up ahead of time and kept them in a warming oven.

For a vegan version, make only the Cajun Roasted Cauliflower, and serve with Remoulade Sauce or vegan mayo.

To serve, we kept a little sign by all the Po’ Boy fixings and let our guests assemble them. People loved them!

Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon

This is a somewhat time-consuming dish, since it has to cook on the stove and in the oven, but well worth it on a cool, Fall evening. I’ve actually made this amazing dish twice in the last month! You may want to make it the night before since it takes a while to cook, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ lb bacon or turkey bacon, cut into ½” slices
2½ lbs chuck beef cut into 1″ cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb carrots, scrubbed and sliced diagonally into 1″ chunks
2 yellow onions, cut into good sized chunks
2 tsp chopped fresh garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
½ cup dry brandy (Ina calls for Cognac, but I didn’t have any.)
1 bottle dry red wine (Three buck Chuck worked fine.)
2 cups of beef broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1½ tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried  (I used several stems of Thyme and fished out the stems later.)
6 Tbsp butter at room temperature
3 Tbsp flour
2 more yellow onions cut into quarters (Ina uses frozen pearl onions)
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced. (I used two containers, pre-sliced.)
A nice rustic bread, thickly sliced (I used an Herbes de Provence loaf.)
garlic cloves

Directions

In a big dutch oven, heat oil and saute bacon until lightly browned. Remove from pot. Dry beef cubes with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add beef to bacon drippings. If you’ve used turkey bacon, you’ll want to add a little more oil at this point.

Cook meat in batches, browning on all sides. (Actually, I did dump it all in and just stirred it occasionally, until the water had reduced and the meat was all nicely browned. I suppose a proper cook would be more patient. Alas…)

Remove the beef to the plate with the bacon. Add the carrots and the two onions cut into chunks to the pot. Add 1 Tbsp salt and 2 tsp pepper and cook 10-15 minutes until onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the Sherry (or Cognac) and be ready with a lighter. Hold the flame just above the mixture and watch the blue flame burn away the alcohol. It’s pretty cool. Just be careful to have the pot away from anything flammable!

Add the bacon and beef back in along with any juices from the plate. Add the bottle of wine, and the beef broth. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, then cover and place it in a 250 degree oven for about 1½ to 2 hours until the meat and veggies are nice and tender. Remove pot to stove.

Mash together 2 Tbsp of butter and flour until you have a smooth paste and stir into the stew gently. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp butter and saute the second batch of onions for several minutes until they turn translucent. (Normally you would just add frozen pearl onions at this point, but I don’t really like them and my family is pretty picky about onions, so sauteeing them helps cut the oniony bite. Add the onions to the pot.

Wipe out the pan, and add 2 more Tbsp of butter. Saute the mushrooms for 10 minutes or so, until they are starting to brown and the water they have released is mostly dried up. Add to the stew pot.

Finally, give everything a nice stir, and check seasonings.

Toast the bread under the broiler until nicely toasted, then rub a raw clove of garlic on the toast. Place it in a flat bowl, ladle the stew over and serve. (Ina adds fresh parsley as a garnish, but I forgot and it was still pretty delicious.)