Friday, October 28, 2011

Soy-Ginger-Marinated Pork Chops and Green Rice

Voted best leftover lunch dish by Liv's belly, this dish came from one of the recipe cards in Martha Stewart's Living magazine. The marinade calls for low-sodium soy sauce, but that's like eating non-fat yoghurt: ridiculous. Soy sauce is salty, so if you find it a bit much, use less of it or cut back on your sodium with respect to other ingredients.  As far as I'm concerned, low-sodium soy compromises on flavour and that's just not what Martha would have wanted...although she did edit this recipe. These chops were loins and quite low on the lard side, but the marinade also kept them tender. Yay food!

From: Martha Stewart Living Sept 2011

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T soy sauce 
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 3 T freshly grated ginger
  • 3 T light-brown sugar
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 4 bone-in pork chops

Whisk together soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of oil, ginger, sugar, chopped onion and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Arrange pork chops in a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Reserve 3 tablespoons marinade and pour remainder over pork chops. Marinate, covered with plastic wrap, flipping chops halfway through for 45 minutes. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove pork chops from marinade and sear for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Flip chops and sear until just cooked through, 4 minutes more. Transfer chops to a board or platter. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add reserved 3 tablespoons marinade to skillet. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 30 seconds. Spoon sauce over chops. Garnish with thinly sliced scallion.

Green Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • coarse salt

Puree water, cilantro, mint, onions and garlic in a blender until smooth. Heat oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook until slightly toasted, 1-2 minutes. Add herb puree and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Winter Tomato Soup

My soup has been outdone for sure! Check out this broiled tomato soup from Smitten Kitchen:

Yes, that's what time it is folks. I've just loaded up on beer, snacks and some good conversation at my favorite stomping ground, Sugarbowl and felt the need to contribute a little to my neglected blog. Although, I've been a cooking machine on my free weekends, I ended up with little energy to write about it. Some catching up is necessary.

I made this soup when I had my bacon fat revelation (for those of you who weren't there, I used bacon fat in lieu of oil to saute a few items). Who would want to throw out bacon fat, when it's the perfect base for sautes, sauces, soups, etc.?  This soup benefited from the flavour of the bacon grease and the basil added a little tanginess too. If you have fresh tomatoes, you know what to do: put away that can! 

Winter Tomato Soup

Adapted from:

Serves 6


  • 1 26 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 3 T butter (or bacon fat if you're using bacon to top your soup)
  • Bacon pieces for use as a topping (I LOVE being a vegetarian!)
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the tomatoes and stock to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. Add the basil and blend using a hand mixer, or transfer to a blender and puree. Return to pot and add butter and yoghurt. Let simmer for 5 minutes to allow remaining ingredients to melt and stir well. Top with pieces of chopped bacon and basil leaves. 

Tapas Night

Tapas translates to finger food in English, and despite my wish to keep last weekend's appetizers Spanish in nature, I strayed a little in order to satisfy my curiosity. We ate tapenade and a chick pea spread on crostinis, chorizo-filled dates wrapped with smoked bacon, stuffed mushrooms and meatballs with Jagermeister and mint in them. Of course there is a lot of wine to be served with it. Below are a few of my favorites.

Chorizo-filled dates wrapped in bacon

Adapted from:


  • Package of bacon
  • 8 chorizo sausages
  • 24 dates

Remove eight sausages from their casings and saute them in a frying pan, breaking them up into small pieces as they cook. Remove the pits from 24 large dates and fill with the sausage. Wrap the sausage-filled dates with uncooked bacon and secured with a toothpick. I used half a piece of bacon for each date. Bake for about 25 minutes in 350-degree oven.

Olive tapenade crostinis

Adapted from:


  • Baguette of french bread
  • 1 cup olive tapenade (either green or black olives chopped to a paste the consistency of your choosing)
  • 3 T dried currants
  • 3 T  fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 5 T chopped walnuts
  • 5 oz soft goat cheese

Cut baguette into half-inch slices and brush olive oil on each side of each slice. Place on a cookie sheet and toast for 6 minutes each side, or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool before using.

Place the olive tapenade, currants, thyme and walnuts into a food processor and blend to a paste. Spread a thin layer of goat cheese onto each slice of crostini. Add a few spoonfuls of the tapenade over the goat cheese. Serve with a few thyme leaves topped on each crostini.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rocking Squash

Buttercup, butternut, acorn, scallop, ambercup, banana, delicata... the list goes on. I was introduced to the kaboche squash over Christmas and got my first glimpse of how truly unique a flavour it is. Similar to a buttercup squash, when grilled, this veggie is smoky in flavour and filling. Ruedi's mom nailed it's flavour: it tastes like a roasted chestnut. We've been slicing up various squashes over the summer and throwing them on the barbeque for about 25 minutes at medium heat. This is the kind of experiment I live for. I little salt and pepper after they've been pulled from the heat seals the deal.

Potatoes & Other Ramblings

My idea appeared as somewhat of a revelation last year, but I've been adopting it in ever-increasing frequency over the last few months. Part of this trend has to do with Ruedi's mom's visit. She brought gifts of market preserves and pickles and that, combined with a trip to the St. Albert Farmer's Market (awesome, by the way!), got my brain juices flowing.

At the market, Ruedi picked up a pound of bacon. Of course, your city-born yokel over here did a double take at the price. This must have been a species of Nepalese, vegan pig that had been slaughtered according to some pork-eating faith. Nope it was just a friendly, happy farm-raised pig that was raised right. I cooked it a few days later and left much of the bacon in the pan in the form of fat. Instead of throwing out the fat, I threw it in a jar and used it in lieu of butter or oil in a few recipes. Why had I not thought of this before? What, do I have my head up my arse? The flavour of the fat was a spectacular addition and it made sense to get every little bit out of that package of bacon. I was smug.

So this concept evolved to include the brine in pickle jars. I've saved brine on occasion to add to salads as part of a dressing. The oils in my artichoke and sundried tomato jars have been set aside too for further use. I know this is basic stuff people, but I feel like freaking Einstein. Anyways, the last few tablespoons of bacon fat were used tonight in a grilled potato mix that was thrown on the barbeque  (see pics below). I added a little fat as well to some chopped kohlrabi and a unique-looking cabbage that I think is called a Spitfire. Great flavour, but watch out for the gas!