Pork Belly and German Style Cabbage

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I do love violet/purple vegetables!  There’s a science fiction like quality about them that I like.  I imagine that early man didn’t think much of the color purple, especially after some deadly encounters with the color red in the form of deadly nightshade.  But you evolve and you learn or you don’t.

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Today I had a little cabbage and a little pork belly.  Sounded German to me.  The pork belly came from the commissary (my husband is so pleased that the government shut down did not affect the commissary.  It’s open.) but was not USDA approved!  Oh my God! I think they bought local!

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I scored and salted the little pork belly, rubbed in some Bavarian Essence and put it into my little refrigerator.

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This is my little kitchen refrigerator.  The drawers are storage drawers and the rest is refrigerator.  When the landlord showed me this refrigerator, I politely congratulated him on the cleverness of having a refrigerator installed as a cabinet, then I gave my husband a look. We have two “normal” sized refrigerators in the downstairs laundry room.

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Look!  Where have the tajines been?  In the closet because, after being traumatized by the cracking of my gold tajine in the apartment’s cheap oven, I hesitate to use them in the house’s cheap oven.  I felt lucky today.

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I scattered some sliced onion, rosemary sprigs and apples on the bottom of the tajine.  It looked like Christmas!

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I know I should have left the pork belly in the refrigerator for overnight to get a perfectly crispy skin, but I didn’t because I just thought of making it this morning.  3 hours.  It was a little crispy.  I ate it.

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The apples caramelized in the bottom of the tajine and were ugly but tasted fantastic.

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Pork Belly Roasted with Apples

1 1/2 -2 lb pork belly, scored

Salt

Bavarian Essence

1 onion, halved and sliced

1 -2 apples cut into eighths

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Rub the pork belly all over with salt, then with Bavarian Essence.  For a really crispy skin, refrigerate overnight uncovered.  If you can’t be bothered, 3 hours works.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  On the bottom of a tajine or roasting pan, scatter the onion, apples and rosemary.  Whisk the olive oil and vinegar together, then pour over the onions, apples and rosemary.  Place the pork belly on top and roast for 1 1/4  - 1 1/2 hours.

German Style Cabbage

1/2 cup lardons

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, halved and sliced

1 small head purple cabbage, shredded

3-4 sprigs thyme

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 -1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

Salt and pepper

Brown the lardons in a wok.  Add the olive oil and the onion, then cook until the onion is soft.  Add the cabbage and thyme, then stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

Mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper together, stir into the cabbage, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Beverage suggestion:  Beer.  We’re in Germany now.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, German, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

My Husband’s Lunch

IMG_4855bbAs you might know, I absolutely adore the blog My Dad’s Lunch, a playful look at mid-day dining and nutrition.

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Everyday I make my husband a bento box to take to work using a combination of leftovers and items made especially for his box.  It’s funny about the box.  When we were in Senegal, the Japanese country representative (no Japanese Embassy in Senegal) and his wife came over for dinner one night and we started discussing bento boxes.  They were both pretty impressed that I knew what a bento box was, and that I made daily bento box lunches for us to take to work.

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Proudly, I showed them my bento box collection.   Yes, I have lots.  But you knew that :) Anyway, they looked at all of my boxes, then exchanging puzzled looks, they explained that all of my bento boxes were for children.  Cuteness for adults is obviously frowned upon :D Seeing my dismay, they comforted me and promised to bring an “adult” bento box on return from their vacation in Japan and they did.  Now my husband only wants his lunch packed in the adult box and spurns the cute little butterfly top he used before.  Of course the Hello Kitty bento box that he used to like is completely out of the question :)

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Today I made some 5 spice rubbed, USDA certified baby back ribs from the commissary for the family’s Sunday lunch and for my husband’s Monday bento box that also included leftover grilled chicken, courgettes, salad, a hard boiled egg and cheese.

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This impromptu recipe was so popular that I just managed to save enough ribs for his lunch!

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Grilled 5 Spice Rubbed Ribs

1 tbsp 5 spice powder

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp white pepper

2 slabs of baby back ribs

For glaze

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 inch fresh ginger, chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp sugar

Mix the 5 spice powder, coriander, sugar, garlic powder and pepper together, then rub on both sides of the ribs.  Preheat the gas grill to 400 F, then turn off the burners on one side, adding the ribs to the cold side, close the top and grill for about an hour.

In the meantime, mix all glaze ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved.  After the ribs have grilled for an hour, baste the ribs with the glaze, turning and grilling for about 30 minutes.

        

Posted in Asian, bento, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Herb Grilled Chicken with Orzo

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When modern man no longer had to hunt, nor cultivate, nor worry about where his next apple was coming from, he created pesticides.  This was about the same time that grapefruit started to taste bitter because man had a surfeit of comestibles at his disposal that he didn’t necessarily have to shoot or grow himself.

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Having time on his hands, modern man decided that he not only wanted to see beauty in art but also on his plate because, you see, he wasn’t really hungry and had a desire to eat also with his eyes.   The French started this.  In France it is essential to get to the farmers’ market early if you don’t want produce with fingerprints that has been squeezed and pawed so much that it’s practically colorless.  The French invented food art.

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As more and more people passed over bug eaten, malformed fruits and vegetables in search of perfection, no longer content to wash it off and kiss it up to God, business man decided to supply that demand by talking the problem over with science man.  The concern was health; who knows what those bugs and/or worms were eating they asked, and although the answer was apparent, it wasn’t marketable.  So that’s why.

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Jade’s home today, ready to “eat Hell off the cross” as my grandmother used to say.  Soon I will be as old as my grandmother was when I knew her and am practicing these “bon mots” to insert into conversations with young people :)

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The poultry man in the market sells great local products; fresh and pre-boiled eggs, turkey, duck and chicken.  Last week he was out of poussin, but he had some Spring-like chickens that caught my eye.  Why did I buy two?  They looked nice sitting next to each other and I didn’t want to break up the set.  Plus, we like chicken salad :)

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Spatchcock time!  I haven’t spatchcocked anything in a long time and needed the practice in case my mind starts to go.  I looked in the garden and saw loads of herbs, so I took some sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano to slather on the chicken with olive oil.

I don’t like rice or risotto.  I know, gasp.  That’s just the way it is.  But I like orzo/risseti/risoni because it’s shaped like rice but is actually pasta.

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The Italians are so clever!  Thank you Italian people!  I boiled some orzo with chicken broth and mixed in chopped fresh basil and Parmesan before serving.  So good.

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We had courgette with the chicken and orzo because it’s good and you can practically cook it with just a smoldering glance.

Herb Grilled Chicken

2 small chickens, spatch cocked and seasoned with salt and pepper

3 tbsp mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano), chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 -5 tbsp olive oil

Mix the herbs, garlic and olive oil together in a small bowl, then smear it all over the chicken.  Save any reserve for basting.  If you don’t have any reserve, pour a little olive oil in the same bowl and baste with that.

Preheat the grill by turning the burners on to the maximum, until the temperature reaches 450 -500 F.   Turn half the burners down to low and brown the chicken skin side down, weighting them with a cast iron skillet to flatten.  Remove the skillet, baste the inside of the chicken and turn over, skin side up, basting the skin.  Grill the inside for about 5 minutes, turn the burners on the chicken side completely off, lower the top and grill for about 45 -50 minutes, turning and basting occasionally.

Basil Orzo

2 tbsp butter

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 cup dried orzo

1 2/3 cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Melt the butter in a large saute pan, then saute the orzo and garlic until the pasta begins to brown.  Add the broth, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for about 20 minutes.  Stir in the basil and cheese and serve.

             

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Italian, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Poached Egg Topped Foie Gras with Piperade

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Today I decided to cook myself an elegant lunch.  Not because of The Dog’s lightly veiled sneers about my lack of enthusiasm for cooking and eating solitaire, but because, sleepless in Stuttgart,  I thought of foie gras poêle and it’s melting, rich goodness.  Another consideration was the pornographic picture I might be able to take with a poached egg and my leftover piperade.

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In honor of the foie gras, I brought out one of my favorite Villeroy and Boch plates, the Baccarat crystal and my slightly tarnished Ethiopian silverware.  Wine, being absolutely necessary with this meal, I opened a rosé from Provence, France that I thought would compliment the Mediterranean flavor of the piperade.  I sat down, sipped the wine, tasted, and thought of how much my family and friends would have enjoyed this feast.

Foie Gras Poêle with Poached Egg and Piperade

2 small scallops of fresh duck foie gras, not canned

1 egg

Piperade

Quickly sear and brown the foie gras scallops in a very hot skillet on both sides, then place in a 425 F oven for about 3 minutes.

In the meantime, warm the piperade and poach the egg.  Place the piperade on a plate, top with the foie gras, then the egg.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Barbecued Turkey Salad

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Last week, at some point, I barbecued some small turkey legs and this morning I found a leg and a half in a tupperware container.  My first impulse was to grab the half leg and take it upstairs to munch in front of the computer for lunch but it sounded as if Quincy whispered, “turkey salad.”

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He only seems to talk when no one else is here, not even in front of the other cat, Bandit.   That, or I’m losing my mind :D  It would really be helpful if some of the neighbors spoke either English or French, that is, someone besides the Anglican minister next door.

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Anyway.   I chopped the leftover turkey, added scallions and chopped German picnic eggs. I really like having these pre-boiled eggs on hand and they look pretty in the refrigerator. I think they must color them because they wouldn’t want anyone to mistake them for fresh eggs.  So efficient or anal, however you want to look at it :)  Thank you, whoever’s idea it was!  While in Germany, I shall never boil another egg.

Turkey Salad

Mixed salad greens

1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped

2 scallions, chopped

2 boiled eggs, chopped

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 heaping tsp grainy mustard

Place the salad greens on a plate and set aside.  Mix everything else together and mound it on top of the greens.    

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Salad | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Stuttgart Solitaire or Home Alone

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I have never been a solitary drinker nor, for that matter, a solitary eater.  If there is no one to share a glass of wine with, I rarely drink wine.  My husband says, I think unfairly, that I just like to get tipsy in public :D  He, on the other hand, can savor and enjoy a quiet glass or two of wine or whiskey in front of the computer or with an interesting book, without the urge to laugh and converse with a companion.  Antisocial I would call it. Opposites, apparently, attract.

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In addition, I am never so hungry nor so enthusiastic about eating as when I’m sharing a meal with at least one person, preferring gluttony in public to a Mr. Woodhouse bowl of gruel taken in solitude like some people.  Cooking for myself only, other than quick egg dishes or sandwiches, is distasteful  :) and avoided.

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My husband has traveled to the States and Jade is at boarding school for the week.  What to do about food?

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My tendency is to stand with a spoon, the refrigerator door agape, and eat spoonfuls of cold leftovers from various tupperware containers.  Instead, today at least, I tried to make an effort.

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Why piperade?  Well, I haven’t made it in a long time, it’s good, looks pretty, there were all those peppers and cherry tomatoes aging in the downstairs fridge to be rescued and I was thinking of a spinach omelette.  Piperade is a versatile accompaniment for eggs, fish, meat or whatever you like.  I made a big batch to have on hand during the week.  Home alone.

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Spinach and Cheese Omelette with Spicy Piperade

2 eggs, beaten

Butter

Salt and pepper

Grated cheese

1 small handful of baby spinach, torn into pieces

Spicy piperade (see below).

Melt the butter in a small saute pan, add the eggs, then season with salt and pepper.  Cook the egg until almost set, sprinkle with the grated cheese, pile the spinach on one side, fold, then continue to cook until done.  Top with the piperade.

Spicy Piperade

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

4 sprigs fresh thyme

3 tbsp olive oil

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 red chilli, sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

1 tsp salt

Saute the garlic, thyme and onions in the olive oil until the onion begins to soften.  Add the peppers and chilli, then continue to saute for about 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and salt, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Scallops, Spinach and Mushrooms

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Our daughter Jade is crazy for sea scallops.  Whenever we’re in a restaurant she immediately turns to the seafood section in the menu, hoping for scallops.  I decided to make some for her back-to-school lunch today since my husband has gone to the States for a week and is not here to eat the scallops without enthusiasm.

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Jade also ate the garlicky spinach and mushrooms with relish and no “spinach is not my préféré” comments.  Quick and easy.

Garlicky Spinach and Mushrooms

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 lb mushrooms

1 lb spinach

Fry the garlic in the olive oil until aromatic.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to release their moisture.  Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.

Thyme Scented Scallops

1 knob butter

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 lb scallops

1/4 cup Sake

Melt the butter in a large saute pan, then add the thyme leaves.  When the butter is hot and foamy, add the scallops and cook on one side for about 3 minutes, turn and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the sake and reduce for 2 minutes.  Serve immediately   

Posted in Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments