roasted strawberries + stewed rhubarb

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Summer is my time of excess.  Too many choices at the market means more greens, more zucchini, more berries than I can tackle in a week.  Weekends become packed with adventures: hiking, kayaking, boating, picnics, road trips.  Typical weekend tasks are crammed into weeknights, and suddenly on any given Thursday night I realize I have a fridge full of produce that needs to be used before Saturday morning’s farmer’s market… and that I haven’t vacuumed in two weeks… and that I haven’t slept properly in two weeks, either.  Time for another G&T.

Believe me, this is not a complaint.  Instead, here are a couple ideas to help you use up that glut of rhubarb you’ve got in the backyard or those strawberries you just had to bring home.  Last Friday morning, I picked a flat of strawberries.  For whatever reason, I had made up my mind that I needed a full flat.  Had to have it.  Then I had a million errands to run for the weekend’s canoe-and-camping trip, and I realized at 4pm that I had no clue what to do with the berries and the rhubarb on my counter… but I was leaving for the weekend.  So I fell back on an old mantra- “When in doubt, roast.”  Sweet or savory, you’ll cut through the bulk quickly, and if nothing else, it’ll prolong fridge life.

(I don’t think that’s actually an old mantra, I think I just made that up. Go with it anyway.)

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Think of these more as “guidelines” than “recipes.”  Cardamom could replace the vanilla bean, or sherry could replace the brandy, or lemon juice could replace the balsamic.  Be creative.

This is a simplified version of Heidi Swanson’s Roasted Strawberries from her Super Natural Every Day.  The balsamic vinegar really makes these an irresistible treat that should be put on top of pretty much everything.  My favorite so far: mascarpone spread across a gluten-free butter (Ritz-style) cracker and topped with a huge dollop of these strawberries. 

Roasted Strawberries
Makes a generous 1 cup (1/2 pint)

3 cups strawberries, cleaned and quartered or sliced
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons brandy (or similar liquor or liqueur, or apple juice)
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
Olive oil, approximately 1 tablespoon

Preheat oven to 350.  Clean and chop strawberries.  Stir in maple syrup and brandy.  Brush olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet, then spread out strawberries and shake lightly to even out.  Roast for 35-45 minutes, carefully stirring with a rubber spatula 2-3 times while roasting.  Remove from oven to cool.  If using balsamic vinegar, pour over the hot berries and lightly stir in.  Cool for 5 to 10 minutes and serve warm over shortcakes, biscuits, yogurt, or toast.  Store extra in a jar in the fridge for a few weeks, though they won’t likely last that long.

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I first saw this idea on Orangette a few years ago, and I tweak it slightly every summer.  I use less wine and chop my rhubarb more finely, which results in a thicker, almost stew-like rhubarb.  This preserve is amazing with tangy yogurt, some soaked or fermented oats, and a small handful of toasted nuts.  But like Molly, I tend to eat it straight from the jar, cold, with a spoon.

Stewed Rhubarb
Makes approximately 1 cup (1/2 pint)

3 cups chopped rhubarb (roughly 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces)
1/4 cup cane sugar or caster sugar
1/4 cup red wine
1/3 to 1/2 vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 350.  In a pie pan or bread pan (or similar baking vessel), stir together the diced rhubarb, sugar, and wine.  Split the vanilla bean and nestle in both halves- no need to scrape out the seeds, most of them will be jostled out during cooking and stirring.  Roast for 35-45 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times throughout.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving or moving to a jar for the fridge. I personally prefer this chilled, but I imagine it would be good over warm baked oatmeal or on toast too.

DSC_1679Happy 4th, everyone.

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Filed under Condiments, etc., Desserts, Gluten-Free, Spring, Summer, Uncategorized

Meatball and Kale Soup

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Saturday was probably my favorite date of the year.  Not day, necessarily; there was nothing particularly eventful, and it wasn’t full of great friends, great food, or everything going exactly as planned.  (Yes, that would be a requirement of my Type-A personality “Perfect Day.”  Pathetic.)  But more a perfect date, being one of the elusive longest days of the year.  It was sunny and warm and slightly humid but not oppressive.  The farmer’s market finally exploded with leafy greens and herbs, radishes and green garlic and pea shoots.  I made progress on goals and crossed things off lists, one by one, satisfying that Type-A personality.  A friend brought over a hand-picked peony bouquet.  We dug a hole and planted a tree in our front yard and wiped the sweat from our brows, warmed from the sun, sticky and dirty but satisfied.

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Funny that just a few weeks before was almost exactly the opposite.  A light drizzle had been falling for four days straight, and the damp and chill had permeated.  Cooped up in the house alone, I listened to melancholy songs on repeat and devoured a lovely book, story by short story, each one highlighting the inevitable disappointments of meaningful relationships.  The weekend required a long solo hike, a strong bourbon drink, and a bowl of steaming soup.  I granted it all three.

One bright spot was finding the first bit of leafy green at the farmer’s market, tucked away in a far corner.  A small Hmong woman was selling bunches of petite kale, freshly picked, roots and all.  The morning was gusty and cold, spitting rain and angry gray, and I was one of the few straggling around.  Not many seemed to make it back to the kale corner.   I considered myself lucky and in the solitary walk back home, decided I would consult my not-so-new but new-to-me favorite vegetable book for inspiration.

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As soon as I saw the recipe, I recognized it from a handful of food blogs, and my mind was made up.  There were green onions, mint, and the kale from that morning’s market; pork and chicken stock in the freezer.  No fresh chiles this time of year, so dried would have to do.  One soggy hike later and I was prepping meatball soup for supper.  The recipe came almost straight from the book, with the addition of a few potatoes cubed over the pot, thrown in to appease my deep-seeded and ever-present longing for carbs in all forms.  It was filling, but not in a extra-couple-of-pounds-in-winter kind of way.  After a bowl of soup and a whisky smash, the gloomy spring weekend didn’t seem so bad after all.

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Nigel Slater’s Chicken Broth with Pork and Kale from Tender (aka meatball and kale soup)
Serves 4

Even though it’s summer, I’ve made this twice since, once with fresh spinach in place of the kale, thrown straight into the soup pot (skip the blanching).  I highly recommend either variation.

1 pound ground pork (I used half pork and half beef)
3 green onions
a small handful each of fresh mint and fresh parsley
2-3 green garlic, or 2 garlic cloves
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (original calls for 2-3 thai or similar chiles)
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 small-medium potatoes, scrubbed
1 bunch kale, rinsed and coarsely chopped (approximately 3-4 cups)

Place the meat in a medium bowl.  Slice or chop the onions, fresh herbs, and mince the garlic or slice the green garlic.  Throw all of it, along with the red pepper flakes or diced chiles, into the bowl with the meat. Mix well with your hands.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan.  Form the meat mixture into small balls, no more than 2 inches diameter, and place in the pan.  Brown well, in batches if needed- don’t crowd the meatballs or they’ll steam each other.  Once well browned, set aside on a plate.

Put the stock in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cut the potatoes over the pot into bite-sized pieces (not on a cutting board- a lot of the starch is left on the board, and I like it in the soup to thicken things a bit) and carefully place in the hot stock.  Simmer for 5 minutes or so, then add in the meatballs and the drippings from the meatball plate.  Season with salt and pepper, and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch kale leaves for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how thick or tough they are.  (More delicate kale may only take 2 minutes, so be flexible and watch the pot.)  Depending on the size of the pot, you may want to blanch in multiple batches.  As the kale is blanched, lift from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop directly into the soup pot.  Once all the kale is in the soup, bring to a brief simmer, stir, salt to taste, and serve.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Soups, Spring, Summer, Vegetables, Winter

blubarb + buckwheat crisp (gluten-free)

It’s not too late, is it? I think we’ve got time for one more rhubarb recipe.

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This came about from a recipe that haunts me.  I first saw a link to the world’s easiest blueberry crisp last spring on Dinner: A Love Story (it’s the first link that sadly seems to be lost), and I hesitated before I put it on my weekend list.  I wanted something sweet but quick and easy, disguised as healthy (read: containing fruit), and I already had all the ingredients. But something so simple couldn’t honestly be that good, could it?  Frozen blueberries in a pie dish, a handful of panty staples haphazardly thrown together in a pot- butter, sugar, flour, oats- and popped into the oven.  But then.  45 minutes later your house smells like heaven and before you know it, you and your husband eat the whole dessert, along with a half-pint of softly-whipped cream melting into the divets of the crumble, running into the blueberry sauce, hovering over the stovetop with forks.  Seriously.  The whole thing, straight from the pan, minus a small dish that was set aside for breakfast the next morning.  Okay, not exactly set aside for breakfast… it was only for breakfast because I ate it before my husband got out of bed, because I wasn’t gong to share.  I wish I wasn’t serious.  (Oh, who am I kidding, I’m not even that ashamed, because IT IS THAT GOOD.) (Plus, it was a year ago.  I’ve matured since then.  I wouldn’t do that now, right?)

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So, the problem? Nothing, except a little gluten.  *sigh* But it’s okay, because I’m a tinkerer.  And I’m lazy.  My laziness manifests in the form of Trader Joe’s gluten-free all-purpose mix, which I love for recipes like this.  I understand that this mix is not perfect. A mix of starches and heavier flours (and yes, possibly gums) would be ideal, I’m sure.  However, that would require multiple bags and a food scale, and lots more tinkering.  In this case, laziness beat tinkering.  But in all fairness, for a crisp or a crumble, I don’t need to mimic wheat’s elasticity or tenderness – I just need bulk.  TJ’s gluten-free mix is perfect for this: not grainy, no weird aftertaste, and no gums added!

Of course I added rhubarb, because duh- it’s spring, rhubarb is everywhere, and blueberry + rhubarb is my favorite fruit combination.

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And while I was tinkering (lazy tinkering? “linkering“?), I also threw in some buckwheat.  It’s not really wheat, or even a grain- it’s a seed, and it’s in the rhubarb family- it’s got a bit of a rustic, dusty flavor.  It’s gritty and it adds some heft and chew.  And, of course, there are gluten-free oats, because a crisp is merely a crumble (and therefore inferior) without the addition of oats, in my completely unscientific and unsupported opinion.  If you’re not sure of the gluten-free-ness of oats, I’ve heard that quinoa flakes are a great substitute.  Or, if you’ve got another opinion on the necessities of crisps- chopped nuts, perhaps?- go ahead and tinker with it.

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When the berries and rhubarb cook down, they release lots of water.  Keeping an edge bare without topping around the pan will help some of that liquid evaporate, ensuring that you get a nice thick fruit filling.

Blubarb & Buckwheat Crisp
Inspired by Ruth Reichl’s Blueberry Crisp
Serves 2-8, depending on how greedy you are

In the spirit of the original, I tried to keep things fairly simple, but I did add in a little fancy by browning the butter.  If you’re in a hurry to get this in the oven, feel free to skip it.  But if you’ve got the extra 7 to 10 minutes, do it.  Browned butter and brown sugar… what could possibly go wrong?

Wild blueberries are really the key here. They’re small and sweet and juicy.  The big ones have got nothing on wild blueberries.  If you don’t like rhubarb, shame on you  just use 4 cups of frozen berries, and skip the 1/3 cup of sugar and the tapioca starch.

2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 cups diced rhubarb
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 4 oz.) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
pinch of cardamom and salt
2/3 cup gluten-free all purpose flour blend
1/3 cup buckwheat
1/3 cup gluten-free oats (or quinoa flakes)

Over medium heat in a medium-sized pan, melt the butter.  Once it starts sputtering, lower the heat to medium-low or even low, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently and keeping a close eye.

Meanwhile, butter a pie dish or cake pan.  Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Put the fruit in the pie dish, sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar and the tapioca starch, and stir to coat evenly.

Once the butter has separated and the solids on the bottom have turned golden brown, turn off the burner and remove the pan from heat.  Stir in the brown sugar vigorously.  Add the cinnamon, cardamom, salt, AP flour, and buckwheat, and stir well.  Finally, stir in the oats.  Scoop the topping over the top of the fruit in the dish, and use the back of the spoon or your hands to even and flatten it out, trying to keep the topping at least 1/2 inch away from the edge of the pan.

Bake at 375 for 45 to 60 minutes, watching closely to ensure you get a thick filling and crispy crisp without over-browning the top.  Mine took close to 60 minutes.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Best warm with homemade icecream or softly whipped cream, although I’m particularly fond of leftover crisp straight out of the fridge for breakfast.

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten-Free, Summer

Easy pickled asparagus

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Spring came late this year.  Maybe you experienced it yourself; otherwise, these whiny posts might’ve clued you in.  No bother – We all still seem to be smitten with the token spring produce players.  Every year, an onslaught of rhubarb, asparagus, ramp, etc. posts flood the internet.  I’m a definite contributor…  and I’m not apologizing.  But the spring season seems so fleeting.  The ramps don’t stick around long, and then asparagus gets woody, stringy, and flavorless.  And with spring quickly turning to summer around here, I wanted to find a way to make that green, grassy joy-flavor stick around a little longer.

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Enter: the pickle.  Frozen and canned asparagus fall apart.  Freezing makes the cell walls burst, causing asparagus to go limp and lifeless.  Canning does the same, except in the form of overcooking.  But pickling…

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Pickling takes that grassy flavor and intensifies it.  It’s also perfect for those big stalks you find at the market a 3 or 4 weeks into the season that seem to be un-cookable when roasting or sauteing, then suddenly are overcooked and bland in the blink of an eye.  I like to blanch the spears briefly before dousing them in the hot vinegar solution, just to make sure each spear is cooked through.  But magically, pickled asparagus keeps some of it’s bite.  I wouldn’t say it’s crunchy… it’s certainly “bendy.”  But it’s also firm, and sliced into a salad or munched alongside an after-work beverage, pickled asparagus is one of my early summer favorites.

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Easy pickled asparagus
Makes 2 – 24oz. jars
Inspired by Simple Bites and She Simmers

*Note: I used the pint-and-a-half wide mouthed jars that are 24 oz. each.  You can certainly use wide mouth pint jars, but you’ll have to trim more of the asparagus bottoms off.  Also be sure to wash your asparagus well in cool water; gritty pickles are the worst.

1.5 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit jars
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 dried chiles de arbol, or 2 teaspoons dried chile flakes
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mustard seed

Wash and trim asparagus.  Bring a pot of water to rolling boil and blanch the asparagus (in multiple batches, if needed,) for one minute; rinse with cold water and set aside. Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a pot (I used the same one) and bring to a rapid boil.  While waiting for the mix to boil, put one chile (or one teaspoon chile flakes), one clove of garlic, and 1/2 tablespoon of mustard seeds in each jar.  Then place asparagus in jars.  Once the mix comes to a boil, stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Carefully pour the boiling liquid into the jars, and carefully top with a lid.  Leave at room temperature for 6-8 hours, then move to the fridge to store.
Pickles are ready to be eaten after 24 hours in the fridge, but I let them sit about 48 hours before digging in.

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Filed under Condiments, etc., Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables

rhubarb + sour cherry beer preserves

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I feel like this has been the spring of failures.  First my body failed me; I’ve been sidelined from the activities I love due to some chronic health issues.  While I’m slowly getting back to normal, it’s been… slow.   I’ve had a few friends let me down, and I haven’t been the best friend either. Not on anything big, but the little things add up.  I’ve set goals, monthly and weekly, and haven’t hit them.  I’ve messed up quite a few things  in the kitchen.  And over the top of all of this is the feeling that spring completely failed us.  Months of unrelenting cold and snow, and then the sudden, unceremonious unfurling of greenness, hurling itself into being, even though it feels as though the sun hasn’t even properly shone yet.  All of this failure has been a little bit exhausting.

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The failed kitchen experiments have been particularly frustrating.  I’m realizing how much better I feel without gluten in my diet. I’m amassing a whole shelf of flours and starches – at last count I had something like 15 different kinds! – but gluten-free baking really is a whole new world.   I want to avoid adding gums, but I can feel my resolve breaking down.  There have been cookies that were cake-like, and cookies that spread into a giant mass on the pan;  miserable hockey-puck muffins;  cardboard pizza crusts;  an attempted crumble where the “crumb” sank into blueberries and rhubarb like the lost city of Atlantis, and then was completely forgotten about in the oven and burnt to a crisp.  And don’t forget the particularly disastrous upside-down cake that I absentmindedly assembled in a Springform pan.  (It actually hurts to write that one “out loud.”)  I’m still chipping bits of charred mess off the bottom of my stove.  Even my trusty loaves of (completely gluten-filled) sourdough have been falling flat – literally.

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AND since I’m moaning, I’ll point out that while the flavor of this preserve is very, very good, it’s looser than a typical jam.  Another failure.  I cooked and cooked and cooked, over double the time given in the recipe, but still I ended up with a very loose preserve, despite my addition of a cup of apple pectin stock.  All of the extra cooking I did after adding the fruit gave me a lower yield than the original recipe – 5 half-pints instead of 7 – and I’m still scratching my head at how the original recipe could work.

But the triumph here is that the combination of rhubarb and sour cherry is really winning, bright and tart, and lifting me above all of the little let-downs.  I particularly love that I was able to put some of my husband’s excellent homebrew to use.  The balance of sour and sweet with some slight hoppiness is exactly what I need to cope with some of these feelings of inadequacy.  Ah, emotional eating at its finest.

Hopefully I’ll have some recipes to share, and SOON.  In the meantime, I’ll be slathering this preserve with butter on top of pieces of crusty – albeit, flat – sourdough bread.

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Rhubarb + Sour Cherry Beer Preserves
Adapted from The Preservation Kitchen

Notes: I changed this up from the original in a few ways.  First, I used 2.25 pounds of fresh rhubarb and 0.75 pounds of frozen sour cherries, as my rhubarb is really green and I was afraid of ending up with a greenish-gray jam.  *shudder* I considered using strawberries, but I’m really glad I went with cherries- the tanginess of the two marry perfectly.  I also used a blonde ale that my husband homebrewed– but the called-for wheat beer is going to be a bit sweeter and less hoppy.  I added an extra 1/4 cup of sugar, left out the lemon zest, and instead added 1 cup of apple pectin stock and let the whole mess macerate with the lemon halves in an attempt to eek out some additional pectin.  Here is a link on apple pectin stock, and Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation is where I got the idea of macerating overnight with a lemon.

2-1/4 pounds diced rhubarb
3/4 pound frozen sour cherries
1-3/4 cups sugar
3 cups wheat beer
1 cup apple pectin stock (optional)
the juice of 1 lemon

In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine all ingredients and stir.  Throw the juiced lemon halves in as well, but try to pick the seeds out first.  Optional step- let macerate in the fridge for 4-6 hours.  (This will extract more of the juice and hopefully more of the pectin out of the lemon, slightly changing your cooking time.)  Bring ingredients to a low simmer, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, cover with a lid, and place in the fridge overnight or for up to 5 days.

When ready to make the jam, remove the lemon halves. Place a small saucer in the freezer.  Use a sieve or slotted spoon to separate the juice from the fruit solids; return the juice to the heavy pan and set the fruit aside.  Bring the juice to a rapid simmer, stirring frequently, and allow to reduce by almost half.  (Virant said 12 minutes; mine took closer to 20 minutes.)  Stir in the fruit solids and return to a simmer.  Stir frequently to prevent scorching.  While your jam is cooking, prepare 5-6 half-pint jars and lids for a boiling water bath.  As the jam thickens, use a spoon to place a small amount of jam on the frozen saucer and return to the freezer for 60-90 seconds.  When the jam is gelling on the plate, it’s done.

*Virant says to cook until the jam reaches 215 degrees F and lightly coats the back of the spoon, approximately 10 minutes. In my experience, the spoon-coating consistency results in more of a sauce than a jam. I cooked for over 25 minutes, stirring frequently, and I personally prefer the freezer gel test.

Once you’re satisfied with the texture of your jam, pour the jam into half-pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars from the water bath and place on a towel; leave for 12-24 hours without disturbing. Remove lid rings for storage.

*If you’d rather not process, you can simply store this in the fridge in clean jars.  I’m going to guess it’ll last a month or two, if not longer- but I haven’t tested it.

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Filed under Condiments, etc., Desserts, Gluten-Free, Spring

Carnitas

Anybody who has dinner at my house will eventually have carnitas.

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There’s something kind of magical about carnitas.  The sweet-savory aroma as they cook is irresistible, and guests smell it as soon as they walk in:  salty, fatty pork; sweet cinnamon and orange; the smell of cumin and oregano from a pot of beans; corn tortillas frying on the stove top.  It’s welcoming, but not overwhelming.  They’re not too fancy, and each person gets to add what they want.  It’s like a grown-up taco bar. (And I love a good taco bar, believe me.)

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The thing that puts them solidly in the “Entertaining” column is that almost all of the prep is done ahead.  The only thing you’re doing when your guests arrive is sliding them under the broiler, just above a stack of freshly-fried tortillas.   Little bowls of cilantro, queso fresco, diced onion, and avocado are already on the table.  You’ve got time to mix a couple of cocktails, pull a bowl of red cabbage slaw out of the fridge, and then dinner is served.

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I had tried crockpot carnitas, but they were always a bit dried out and dusty by they time they made it onto our plates.  At the same time, I refuse to fry 4 pounds of pork cubes in a vat of oil in my kitchen, and definitely NOT when I have people coming over.  Then I stumbled on this article by Serious Eats’ The Food Lab, and things got real.  Instead of cooking the pork in water-based liquid, you still cook the pork in fat- it’s own fat.  By packing it tightly in the dish and cooking it slowly, the fat is rendered out of the pork, filling the dish and effectively frying the meat.  It’s genius, simple, and deliciously fatty while being not at all messy.  The best part is that the pork can be cooked ahead – days ahead! – and all it needs is a quick crisping-up under a hot broiler.  Brilliance!  I use the fattiest pork shoulder I can find, and although that means I have to buy a heavier cut and thus pay more, it’s worth every penny.

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Carnitas
Serves 4-6
Adapted (barely) from Serious Eats

3.5-4 pounds pork butt roast (shoulder)
1 medium onion
1 orange
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into 3-4 small pieces (1 if you have new/pungent cinnamon; 2 if it’s older)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil
2-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt

To serve: tortillas and any extra condiments you want.  I serve queso fresco, cilantro, diced onion, avocado, tomato, salsa, lime wedges, and cabbage slaw.

Preheat oven to 275 F.  Cube pork into 2-3 inches pieces, trimming away large hunks of excess fat, but not being too picky.  Place in a 9×13 baking dish; the pieces should form fit in one layer, but should be touching. Quarter the onion and nestle the quarters into the baking dish.  Juice and orange and lime over the pork, then nestle the pieces into the dish as well.  Place the garlic, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick pieces throughout the dish.  Drizzle the oil over the top of the pork, then sprinkle with cilantro and salt.

Cover the dish with foil and bake until the pork is fork tender, approximately 3.5 hours.  Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.  Remove the onion, garlic, lime and orange pieces, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks.  If serving later, place the pork in a covered container in the fridge. Dispose of the grease remaining in the dish.

Before serving, heat broiler on high.  Break up pork slightly and place on a baking sheet.  Broil for 5-6 minutes, until the edges are crispy.  Shake or stir and broil for 1-2 minutes more.  Serve with warm tortillas and accoutrements.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes

Fresh red cabbage slaw

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There are a couple of big things that have happened in the last few weeks.  The first: I think spring might actually have arrived.  Secondly: I apparently now like cilantro.

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The first one is a big deal because IT’S MAY.  The last weekend of April was gorgeous.  Mid-60s and low 70s, sunshine, green grass, even budding tulips and the tips of iris and hostas poking through the mulch.  And then, on May 2nd and 3rd (!) the Midwest got hit with a nasty system that included snow (!) and sleet (!) and freezing rain (!).  Not just a dusting, but 18 inches fell in northwest Wisconsin.  18 freaking inches of white, dream-shattering, soul-crushing snow.

But between the 60s and 70s yesterday and today, the snow has melted, the grass is re-perking, and my rhubarb has unfurled an impossible number of frilly leaves.  Spring is here to stay, I think.

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The second part- the part about me finally coming around to cilantro- is a big deal because, c’mon, it’s cilantro.  It’s fresh.  It’s green.  I can grow it.  It’s a big deal in Mexican and Indian cuisines.  And I’m pleased to say that I actually have bought and used it three whole times in the last two weeks and it’s been awesome.

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I made this slaw to serve with carnitas, and it’s crunch and tanginess was exactly what the tender pork needed.  And after all, the recipe is a bit like the weather we’ve had lately: schizophrenic.  It combines winter staples (cabbage and carrot) with a few fresh things that pack a little more punch in the flavor department (jalapeno, cilantro, and lime).  Even if I have to keep buying cilantro for a another month while the weather warms up (*grumble grumble*), I’m adding cilantro to my seed-purchase list, and I’ll definitely be making this slaw frequently for the summer barbeque circuit.  It took me less than 20 minutes to prep, and it needs only an hour in the fridge to really come together.

Fresh red cabbage slaw
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Pezzo

juice of 2 limes
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 large clove garlic smashed (approximately 1/2 tsp)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Greek yogurt might work?)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1 diced jalapeno (I removed the seeds; keep them for more spice)
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 large or 1 small head of cabbage

In a jar or bowl, whisk together the limes, honey, garlic, mayo, and cilantro. Salt and pepper, and set aside.  Prep the veggies, and thinly slice the cabbage- you want approximately 4 cups of cabbage. Toss all the veggies together in a bowl; dress with the dressing.  Set aside in the fridge for the flavors to develop, at least 1 hour.  Taste before serving and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Condiments, etc., Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian