Green Bean and Tomato Salad

I bemoaned on Facebook this morning that, “I will be SO glad when school is back in session so I can eat like an adult again.”

Having The G Man so often this summer has required a lot of kid-friendly meals.  Which suits The Young One just fine – he’s never outgrown his love of chicken nuggets, spaghetti, pizza and meatballs in barbecue sauce over mashed potatoes (last night’s dinner).  Beloved, Darling Daughter and I, on the other hand, are going through quinoa, lamb curry and liver paté withdrawal.

In fact, once the adult palates are all that’s left in the house, liver paté is going to be one of the first things I’m going to make.

At any rate, this past Saturday it was just me and Beloved for dinner.  (Of course it was just me and Beloved for dinner – there was a bushel of green beans to clean and can; do you honestly think there would be a kid anywhere in sight??)  While I was busy with the green beans, Beloved cut up and vacuum sealed three of the four chickens we’d picked up from our poultry farmer a couple of days before.  The fourth chicken was duly spatchcocked, seasoned with s&p and slipped into a Ziploc bag with some buttermilk and fresh tarragon to marinate.

Later that evening, after the beans had (mostly) been dispensed with, Beloved fired up the grill and roasted the chicken along with a couple of ears of fresh sweet corn, and I made this, for a dinner that was so locally sourced I could barely eat it, I was feeling so smug.

Oh, I kid.  I wolfed it down.

Along with the absurd amount of green beans we picked up last week, we also have been getting some lovely cherry tomatoes and red onions from the CSA.  Inspired by a recipe that came with our CSA share last week, I decided to combine the 3 with some fresh rosemary from our garden, although you could use any fresh herb you like (I know at least one of my readers is allergic to rosemary).  One quick balsamic vinaigrette later, we had a wonderfully refreshing, delicious and seasonal salad.

Please let the salad marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before eating to allow the flavors to marry – in fact, if you can remember to make it ahead, this is even better the next day.  I ate the leftovers for 3 days straight, it’s just so yummy.  And this is not only paleo-friendly, if you leave out the honey, which is completely optional, it’s Whole30 compliant, as well as vegan-friendly.

Green Bean and Tomato Salad. A fantastic summer side dish for when fresh green beans and tomatoes are at their best.

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Green Bean and Tomato Salad
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stock pot; drop in the green beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into a large bowl of ice water until completely cooled.
  2. Drain the beans again and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large bowl with the tomatoes, onion and rosemary; toss to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey (if using). Add the olive oil, pouring in a thin stream, whisking continually until well-combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the dressing over the green bean mixture and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before tossing again and serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 142 calories, 12.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 6.4mg sodium, 151.5mg potassium, 8g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 2.7g sugar, 1.3g protein

Mexican-Style Chorizo

Well, hmmm – this is my second “Mexican-Style” recipe this week.

I didn’t plan it that way.  It just sort of happened.

If you ask my kids what their favorite breakfast is, they’ll all say “Chorizo!”  Which is shorthand for breakfast tacos consisting of eggs scrambled with Mexican-style chorizo – a fresh sausage, as opposed to Spanish-style chorizo, which is a smoked sausage – fried potatoes and cheese all wrapped up in a tortilla (corn for Oldest Son, Darling Daughter and Miss J and flour for Jolly and The Young One – who will also skip the potatoes.  Yes, the kid is weird).

At any rate, I’ve slowly but surely been cutting out purchased fresh sausages – since we buy or procure all of our meat exclusively from our friends at Whitefeather Meats, this not only gives me a little freedom for how my sausage is seasoned, but is also a little cheaper as well (all those spices, herbs and seasonings cost money, you know).  Making fresh sausage at home is also so quick and easy, I’ve begun to wonder why I didn’t begin years and years ago.

Chorizo was the last hold-out.  Their version – which, of course, isn’t an authentic chorizo but chorizo-spiced ground pork – is just delicious and I tend to buy a pound or two every time we visit them.  Sometimes, though, I get a request for The Favorite Breakfast, and have no chorizo on hand; in cases like these, the 40 minute drive to Whitefeather isn’t exactly an option.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and this is true – especially when aided by a well-worded Google search.

This recipe tastes pretty spot-on – it was well-received by Darling Daughter, The Young One and Beloved, so I’d call that a win.  As written, the recipe doesn’t give the pork that deep, brick-red tone of most commercial chorizos, but you can add a couple of teaspoons of regular paprika (which has little flavor) if you’d like the color.

If you don’t eat pork, this would be just fine with ground turkey or venison.

Making fresh, Mexican-style chorizo at home is super simple - and super delicious!

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican-Style Chorizo
Serves: 4 to 6
[i]Adapted from [url href=”http://honestcooking.com/authentic-homemade-mexican-chorizo/” target=”_blank”]Honest Cooking[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, gently combine all of the ingredients, using your hands, until well-blended.
  2. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours before using in your favorite recipe.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 218 calories, 16.7g total fat, 54.4mg cholesterol, 402.5mg sodium, 315.4mg potassium, 3.4g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, <1g sugar, 13.6g protein

 

Mexican-Style Rice

Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, and if you live in northeast Ohio you’ll either 1) ignore it, 2) find yourself in a restaurant that wouldn’t know real Mexican (to say nothing of Tex-Mex) food if it jumped in their lap, or 3) make it yourself.

For the last 9 years, I’ve opted for number 3.

I guess ideally, I should have posted this recipe prior to Cinco de Mayo, but since I make Mexican food on a fairly regular basis – and you should, too – I figured it would be worth putting up post-weekday-reason-to-drink-margaritas anyway.  Well, that and the fact that it’s the first time I’ve ever really made it successfully.

For some reason, Mexican-style rice, or sopa seca, is something I’ve never been able to master to my satisfaction.  Something of an oddity, really, since things like handmade tamales and traditional chiles relleno pose no problem for me at all and neither of those dishes are what you could call “quick and easy.”  However, since I was making enchiladas for the “holiday” (I found some wonderful organic, sprouted corn tortillas at our local natural foods store) and I’d just made western-style beans a few days before, I wanted some rice.

I wanted some good rice, and I found the recipe over at Homesick Texan.  Lisa is a marvelous cook (her blog is where I found the aforementioned western-style beans originally) and I was more than willing to try her version of Mexican-style rice.  With a few modifications – I like peas and carrots in my Mexican-style rice and subbed half the tomato paste with some homemade Enchilada Sauce while cutting back on the cumin – it was just marvelous.  Not only did I love it, but Beloved, Jolly and Darling Daughter also ate it with great enthusiasm.

Really. Good. Stuff.

Mexican-Style Rice. A must for any Cinco de Mayo feast, this recipe for Mexican-style rice is easy, delicious and pretty much perfect.

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican-Style Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from [url href=”http://www.homesicktexan.com/2008/06/with-beans-comes-rice.html” target=”_blank”]Homesick Texan[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the rice, chicken broth and kosher sea salt in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat. Stir again, then cover the saucepan with a dry, clean dishcloth and place the lid on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice is cooking, sauté the onion in the butter in a shallow skillet over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, enchilada sauce, cumin and peas and carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables are warmed through, another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the onion/vegetable mixture from the heat and stir in the cooked rice, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 197 calories, 3.7g total fat, 7.9mg cholesterol, 347.9mg sodium, 313.1mg potassium, 35.3g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 3.6g sugar, 6g protein

 

 

Coffee-Peach Glazed Pork Belly

If you’ve been reading here any length of time at all, you know I love me some pork belly – there are five different recipes on this blog that include it in some way or another.

Make that six.

I’ve been using the sous vide enough to make it a good investment, but haven’t really posted any recipes for it other than the Homemade Yogurt.  The reasons for this are varied – it’s not a common household item, I’m not really crazy about the texture the sous vide gives very tender cuts of red meat, like beef tenderloin and venison backstrap (those should be simply cooked – broiled or grilled, really; the sous vide gives them a slightly mushy texture), the one time I made salmon in it I had the temp too high and over-cooked the fish.

Now, having said all that, I LOVE the way pork comes out of the sous vide (and you know how I feel about pork), and pork belly is no exception.  And for all of my recipes for slow roasted pork belly and braised pork belly and glazed pork belly and crispy pork belly, I do believe this is the very best pork belly I’ve ever made.  The sous vide made brining or curing the pork in advance unnecessary; the fat that didn’t render out was incredibly succulent and the meat was firm, yet juicy and tender.  The coffee-peach glaze infused the cut with marvelous flavor – it was just delicious.

This does take a little planning – I wouldn’t suggest immersing the sealed pork belly in the sous vide for less than 24 hours, but once it’s there, you can pretty much walk away and forget all about it until you’re ready to finish it off, which takes less than 15 minutes.

I’m also not going to apologize for the use of the peach preserves – they were high quality, homemade preserves that contained nothing but peaches, pure cane sugar and pectin.  And, because almost all of the glaze is poured off at the end, just a small fraction of that 1/3 of a cup remains in the entire recipe.  In fact, the calorie, fat, carbohydrate and sugar counts included, as usual, with the recipe are probably overstated by quite a bit, since everything in the bag – rendered fat and the coffee-peach reduction – is discarded at the end.

If you don’t have a sous vide, try slow roasting the pork belly.  Combine the preserves, coffee, honey, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a pan and heat them just enough to melt preserves, whisking the ingredients together, before seasoning with the red pepper flakes and salt.  Place the pork belly in a gallon-size zip-lock plastic bag and pour the coffee-peach mixture over it.  Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Remove the pork belly from the bag and place it in a small glass baking dish, just large enough to hold it, and pour the marinade over the top.  Roast at 450 F for 30 minutes; reduce the heat to 325 F and continue roasting for 2 1/2 hours, basting the pork belly every 20 minutes or so with the liquid in the dish.  Finish the dish as per the recipe below.

Coffee-Peach Glazed Pork Belly. The sous vide and a reduction made from coffee and peach preserves turns pork belly into a rich, decadent appetizer.

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Coffee-Peach Glazed Pork Belly
Serves: 8 as an appetizer
Ingredients
  • 1 pound pork belly, skin removed
  • 1/3 cup good quality peach preserves
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. hours in advance, fill the sous vide to the fill line with water and set the temperature for 160 F.
  2. Pat the pork belly dry and sprinkle liberally with salt. Slide it into a sous vide bag that’s been sealed on one end and is about twice as long as the cut of meat. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, combine the preserves, coffee, honey, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and, still stirring frequently, simmer until the mixture has reduced and is thick and syrupy. Allow the coffee/peach mixture to cool a bit, then season to taste with the red pepper flakes and salt.
  4. Carefully pour the syrup into the bag with the pork belly and seal – the bag should be long enough and the syrup thick enough that it isn’t sucked out when the bag is sealed (you can use the “gentle” setting if the vacuum sealer has one).
  5. Place the sealed pork belly into the sous vide and cover. Cook for 24 hours.
  6. Remove the sealed bag from the sous vide. Carefully cut open the bag and remove the pork belly, placing it fat-side up on the top of a vented broiler pan – do not pat or wipe off any of the liquid clinging to the meat. Discard the liquid in the bag.
  7. Place the pork belly about 3 inches beneath the broiler of the oven and broil on high for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the top is crisp and browned. Remove from the oven and allow the pork belly to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 346 calories, 30.1g total fat, 40.8mg cholesterol, 31mg sodium, 134.6mg potassium, 13.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 10.8g sugar, 5.4g protein

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs

TGIF.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Personal (read: unbloggable) life keeps rolling on, eating up a lot of my time, but at least I’m not bored.  At any rate, I do have a really tasty recipe for you today.

If you were at all wondering what to do with any leftover ground lamb/liver/bacon from the Lamb Dirty Rice – and there will be – this recipe is it.

Boy, is it…it.

I’ve gotten to the point where, if I want The G Man to eat something he doesn’t like (anything that resembles a vegetable, for example), I hide it in meatloaf or meatballs.  The Young One, too – he absolutely loathes zucchini and summer squash, but he’ll scarf it down if I shred it and stick it in a meatloaf.  This recipe hides nutrient-dense liver – you can’t even tell it’s there, with all the bacon and spices.

These come together really quickly, are ready in less than 20 minutes and simply just delicious.  You can use just about any ground meat/liver from the appropriate animal you like, too (chicken, beef, pork) – the bacon keeps the meatballs moist and you can adjust the spices to suit your personal tastes.

These would be quite good served with the Red Onion Jam I posted earlier this week.

Note:  Make sure your bacon is “clean” and these are Whole30 compliant.  (Oh, look – I still do that.)

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs. Easy and nutritious, your family will never guess what's hiding in these delicious little meatballs.

Click the image to enlarge

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ground lamb
  • 3 ounces lamb liver, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, gently combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Form into 16 meatballs of equal size, and place on the slotted top of a broiler pan.
  3. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/red-onion-jam/” target=”_blank”]Red Onion Jam[/url].
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 428 calories, 35.3g total fat, 195.7mg cholesterol, 902.48mg sodium, 346.5mg potassium, 5.3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, <1g sugar, 21g protein