Monday, July 29, 2013

Pork with Rice and Plantain (and fresh figs)

You ever get a craving for a dish your mom made from time to time, but you can't remember the name of it?   I've been there lately.   Mom used to make this dish, she got the recipe, such as it was, from a friend.    I think it was Dutch/West Indies in origin, but despite a few Google searches I've not been able to find the name of this dish.

Just cause I don't know the name of something, does not stop me from trying to recreate it though.
Pork with Rice and Plantain (and fresh figs)

I think I recreated it just fine.    Just a few tweaks needed to be made. 

I seem to remember we put Chile Sauce on top of this to eat it, but really, I have to say it tasted odd to me when I did it.   So I got out the bottle of Sweet Chili Sauce from the fridge, and that was the ticket.   Along with the Plantains and Pork and Rice, they all went together nicely.    And the fresh figs I caramelized a little weren't bad either.    A friend handed me a bag of fresh figs the other day and as I was making this dish, I decided to throw a few into the pan with the pork.  I'm so glad I did.   They were so sweet, and caramelizing them a little brought out the sweetness very nicely.

No real recipe as such.   But since I had some lovely ripe (meaning black) Plantains, I decided that they would be perfect. The picture is blurry, and I apologize, for some reason I didn't take a couple of followup shots.  But this is what your ripe plantain should look like, just like a banana that's gone totally black.

PlantainsJust peel it at this point, the flesh inside will still be firm.    I cut it into slices, and placed them in a greased frying pan.   To make this a little more decadent, you can cook them in a little butter if you like.  

 Yesterday I was good, and used some EVOO.

Let them cook just until they start to brown a little.  Then turn them over and cook the other side.   If I was using these for dessert, I would let them get a touch browner, which just makes them sweeter.   You can add brown sugar as well if these will be served for dessert.  They make a great topper for vanilla ice cream.  Just sayin...

Remove to a separate plate and then cook the pork chops.  I cooked two because I wanted leftovers.  I like leftovers, they make a great breakfast.


Just before the chops were cooked all the way through I got one of those AHA moments, and threw in a handful of fresh figs I'd been given.   I wanted to see what would happen to the figs and I knew they would go with the pork as well.
Figs and Pork
A little steamy there, but they cooked down nicely.
And yes, they went very well with the pork, plantains and rice.   The only seasoning I used on any of it was a little salt on the meat, and very, very little grind of salt on the plantains, just as I plated it.   Which basically just brought out their sweetness a little more.   
Pork with rice and Plantain and figs

As I said, I ate the leftovers for breakfast. 

I sauteed the rice in a little olive oil, added some soy sauce, sesame seed oil and some scallions, got a whole nother meal out of it.   And it was good.  

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Egg Rolls

I made some 'baked' spring rolls last week  for Tapas and then ended up having to fry them anyway.   They just did not brown, but I think I know what I did wrong.   The filling on them however, was very good.   And is one I will be making again, and again.   It will be fun to play with it a little.   I think it would make awesome pot stickers.   Hmmm, I think I have an idea...

I got the filling recipe from here,  Daily Waffle  and even though I followed the instructions for baking, they came out of the oven looking not very appetizing, so I hurried up and heated some oil, threw them into it and finished them off like a regular egg roll. 

1 lb. ground pork
2 t. cornstarch
2 t. soy sauce
1 T. Oil
1 small carrot, grated
3 small baby bok choy, chopped
6 button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 grated carrot
2 green onions, whites and greens, finely chopped
1 T. fresh ginger, minced  ( I keep fresh ginger in the freezer and use my Microplane to shave off the ginger as needed) 
 2 t. chili garlic sauce (I made my own by sauteeing a couple cloves of finely chopped garlic in a little oil, then adding some sambal chile sauce, mainly cause I did not have access to chili garlic sauce.)
1 package egg roll wrappers
Sweet chili sauce for dipping

Mix ground pork together with 2 t. soy sauce and 1 t. cornstarch. Set aside. 

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add vegetable oil. Brown the ground pork, breaking it up into very small pieces. Add the vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes until wilted.   Stir in chili garlic sauce.

 My homemade Chile Garlic sauce using a couple tablespoons of Sambal Sauce and some chopped garlic.  I actually had a little too much, but it is now in my freezer waiting to be used on something else. 

 (I never said I was a neat and tidy cook.  I did wipe down the stove after I finished frying everything though).

Drain the meat mixture in a colander if you need to. You don’t want all the liquid, it’ll sog out the spring roll wrappers.
Use 2 T. of filling per wrapper and seal with water.
The following were the instructions for the egg rolls, but I ended up frying them, and it was all good.  
Arrange spring rolls on the baking sheet as you go. Brush with vegetable oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes until browned, flip the rolls over and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the second side.

 Put about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture on the egg roll wrapper.
 Fold over the end, then fold in each side.   I keep a bowl of water handy to dip my finger in and moisten the wrapper on the ends.  This helps to dissolve the flour and it sticks that way.

 After folding over each end, roll them away from you making sure you have a nice tight roll.  It is important to not tear the wrapper or roll it too loosely. 

After rolling it all the way, seal with a little water, and set aside as you finish the rest.

    I used some of the rice noodles from the spring rolls, threw them into a little hot oil and watched them blossom.  

Set those on the serving dish like this.  And set it aside.  

 I shallow fried these in just a couple tablespoons of oil, and got them nice and browned.
When the egg rolls were finished frying, I cut them in half and served them on this platter and of course did not get a great shot.  Sigh,  But my guests were arriving and you know, I had to take care of them.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spring Rolls for Taste and Create and Tapas

I bought some rice paper a couple of weeks ago, mainly cause I wanted to try my hand at making some spring rolls.   It's been awhile since I've some, and as I think I've said before here, a lot of the time if I'm craving something other than fish, I have to make it myself since there are not a lot of restaurants close by.   And luckily for me I was assigned My Cooking Journey for Taste and Create this month.   I say lucky cause she had this recipe on her site for Spring Rolls.  And it looked easy.   And the ingredients were not only vegetarian friendly, but gluten-free friendly.

Wait a minute, can something be gluten-free friendly?  Or would it be correct to just say it's gluten free.   Whichever, all I know it was an adventure making these.

Spring roll wrappers, especially the rice paper kind have been known to be kinda difficult, but I figure since I've mastered phyllo dough, sorta, I can handle  rice paper.    Famous last words?  Nah.     The rice paper was actually fairly easy to work with.   Somewhere along the way I'd read that you swish the rice paper through warm water, back and forth 5 times.  And it works.  I tried doing it that way as well as setting it in the water as well.   Ummm, did you know Rice paper turns transparent when it gets wet?  It does.

Here are the photo's of the process alongside  the recipe.   I will note that I used this super duper toy tool I got with my mandolin many years ago and it shredded the carrot and cabbage so well.

Spring Roll Recipe
1 ounce Rice Noodles or Mung Bean Noodles, prepared, and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 package Rice Paper, about 15 sheets
 1 cup  Cabbage shredded very fine
1 scallion/green onion, finely minced
1 Carrot, grated fine
2 tsp. Cilantro, finely chopped   (my Cilantro had headed south so I substituted finely chopped celery leaves)

1-2  tbsp Rice vinegar 
1  tsp Sugar
½ tsp Salt 
1 clove  Crushed garlic
1 tbsp Water

Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside. 
Prepare the cabbage, carrots, green onion, cut noodles and celery leaves.

 Toss together until well mixed.   Pour the dressing over top and toss again.  Set this aside for about 20 minutes to let all the ingredients marinate.  

Keep a flat bowl with hot water in the work area. Slowly immerse a single rice paper sheet into the hot water, dip it back and forth for a count of five.  Really.  Swish it back and forth five times.  or four if you're impatient.
 I put a damp kitchen towel on top of my cutting board and placed the wet rice paper on that.   It did make it easier to roll up the spring roll.  And even though my first couple of attempts were a little strange looking, it did not take long to do these.  I kept a damp towel handy and covered the rolls as I was making them. 
Place about 2 tbsp of the prepared noodles and vegetable mixture on one half of the sheet (the side closer to you)
Roll the rice paper tightly so that all the stuffing is tight and intact. It will take some practice to roll them well.  Keep them covered with a damp towel until ready to serve. Serve with sweet chili sauce.

I prepared these about 5 hours before I served them.   I kept them covered with a damp towel, in the fridge and they held up very well.  

And I have to say, they disappeared rapidly at Tapas.   I got some lovely positive feedback on how tasty they were.  This will be something I make for myself as well as others, again.   Just gotta go to the big city and get more rice paper.   

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tapas for July

Despite the fact that it was a rainy, and I do mean rainy, night last night, we had a lovely crowd come.    Of course it could have been because everyone had a touch of cabin fever.  There has been a lot of rain here the past few weeks.   Nah, they came cause they knew it would be a great time.   We've had about 2 inches of rain in the last 24 hours, and I think most of that came down as people were arriving.  

 We had some unscheduled entertainment, a water pipe broke outside so we were without water for part of the night, but that didn't faze anyone too much.  At least not those of us who were inside.   The guys outside trying to cap the pipe in the rain weren't having much fun, but... Life Happens.

A lot of good food was brought and eaten, I made some Spring Rolls as well as some Egg Rolls, but I'll tell you about them in another post.

Baby Bok Choy, poached with a rice wine vinaigrette made by moi.   They all get eaten, but I did sneak one before I took the picture. 
Caprese Tomatoes, so good.   YUM   And I now have the recipe.   :)   Guess who's got Plum Tomatoes on a shopping list?  That would be me.  
And I'm so mad at myself.  I made these yummy Spring Rolls, and this is the only shot I got of the finished rolls. sigh.  They disappeared in short order though.  
Whoever came up with Pimento Cheese was a genius, always good.
Stuffed Jalapeno's.   HOT!!!! and so good.   I managed to get one, but when I went back for seconds, they were gone.

Deviled Eggs, I got to take their picture, but before I got back to taste them, they'd been eaten.  sigh.

Spinach Salad with a hot bacon dressing.   Sooo good.   I really love Spinach Salad and why I don't make it for myself I'll never know.   This is going on my to do list.  Make Spinach Salad. 
 Egg Rolls  I will be sharing the recipe soon. 
 Fish Dip.   Another one of those dishes I got introduced to here in the South.   And so glad of the introduction. 

Roasted Potatoes with an Aoili Sauce.  So good.   (Don't tell anyone but I put of the sauce on a spoon and just ate that)  I think I see this Aoili sauce in my very near future.   And yes the picture is blurry,  but at least I got one.    

 Just a few of the offerings last night.
 Potato Salad,  I managed to snag a taste, and look at that pretty bowl.  
 More stuffed Jalapeno's.   Gotta say I was a happy camper last night.   I do love Jalapenos.
 This was a Pineapple/Cream Cheese spread.   Very nice, of course anytime you put those two together, I'll eat them.
 Pickled Shrimp.   As you can tell by the picture, they disappeared fast.    The dish was full when I went to get my camera, by the time I got back (15 steps in all), this is what remained.   I did get a taste though.  Really good. 
More Deviled Eggs.   As you can tell, they are a popular item.
Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms.   I must get this recipe.   Luscious, and I could have eaten more.   Really. 
Curried Vegetables.   The bowl was licked clean, but I managed to get a taste.   I do love Curry.
Fruit Salad.   My picture does not do it justice.   It was so good. 

 And we finish off with Dessert.   Of course.   This was very popular, I did see people devouring it.  I did not however get a taste.  sigh.
These looked so good, but they also disappeared.  I think they were Turtle Brownies.  And how clever to put them in cupcake papers.   So easy to grab and eat.

So there you have it.  Well, with one exception.  There was another dessert but the picture I took of it was so blurry you could not make out what it was.   It was a Banana Cake.   And I was told it was also very good.

We get such a wonderful variety of foods here, and it's always good.   I love doing Tapas Night.   I get to play with food and then I get to try new stuff all the time.

Have fun with your food.  

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Garden Dip

I think I've told you about the fact I get together with some ladies most Friday nights, just to chat and socialize.   We discuss world affairs, local affairs, and generally chit chat.   We also bring snacks, and since I love to experiment play in the kitchen, I have fun most Friday's.

I've made hummus and brought it there, last week I brought this killer Feta Dip, and this week I brought this:
Garden Dip.

Well it got renamed last night, I had it in my recipe file as Garbage Dip, but they all decided it was too good to be called that.   And of course me being me, I had to play with the original recipe, which is simplicity itself, well it is if you have all the right ingredients to hand.  Which I sorta did.

 Here is the recipe with the original ingredients to the side in parenthesis and in blue.

1 cup light sour cream                (1 pint sour cream)
1 sweet onion, finely chopped     (1 small onion, chopped)
1 1/2 tomato, finely chopped      (1 tomato, chopped)
1/2 cup ranch dressing               (1 package dry ranch dressing)
2 cloves garlic, minced               (1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt)
1/2 teaspoon Cavenders Greek Seasoning
1/4 package Sazon Tropical Seasoning, this could be optional

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for an hour, in the fridge before serving with either chips or with some fresh bread.
I thought I'd made a lot, but most of it was eaten and enjoyed.   

I will make this again, and maybe add some cilantro, which was a suggestion made by one of the ladies.  At any rate, have fun with it yourself.  

Now to go and figure out what I'm making for Tapas this week, gotta think on that one. 

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