Guyanese Pepperpot with Oxtails

We were introduced to Guyanese (where they drank the Kool-aid) pepperpot at our son’s house this Christmas by his partner who is originally from Guyana.  Guyanese pepperpot is a traditional Christmas beef stew made with aromatics and spices.  The stew is usually cooked for most of the day until the meat falls from the bone and eaten with toasted bread.  It was delicious!  I immediately thought of making oxtails a la Guyanese  🙂

Not really wanting to do an all day stewing for my first try, worrying about liquid levels and doneness, I took out my pressure cooker, browned the oxtails in a bit of oil, then removed them and set them aside.

I added onions and garlic to the oil remaining in the pressure cooker and sauteed until they were soft.  I intended to chop the onions and garlic in the food processor but got distracted taking this picture and before I knew it,  I had just dumped them in the pot.  Oh well, it didn’t hurt.  I returned the oxtails to the pot along with some water and pressure cooked for about 40 minutes.  This pre-cooking tenderized and allowed the meat to loosen from the bones.

The spices, herbs,  aromatics and casareep, a yucca based molasses, are added to the pressure cooker, top off, to simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Maybe this was not as good as the version we had at Christmas, but it was pretty good.

Guyanese Pepperpot with Oxtails

3 lbs oxtails

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp peanut oil

2 onions, chopped

4-6 garlic cloves, chopped

6 cups water

1 whole habenero or scotch bonnet

2  2 inch strips of orange peel

5 thyme sprigs

1 inch ginger, skin on, chopped

1  3 inch whole cinnamon stick

5 cloves

5 allspice peppercorns (Jamaican)

3/4 cup Casareep

Season the oxtails with salt and pepper, then brown them with the peanut oil in the bottom of a pressure cooker (no top), remove and set aside.  Add the onion and garlic to the pot and saute until soft.  Return the oxtails to the pan add the water, put on cover and the bobble thing.  Cook on high until the bobble begins an excited swing.  Lower the heat to simmer, maintaining a gentle bobble swing for about 40 minutes.  Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and set aside to cool.  Don’t touch the bobble or try to open the pressure cooker until the lock rises to the top!

Add the remaining ingredients to the pressure cooker and, top off, simmer for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with rice.

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Herb Crusted Echine de Porc with Romanesco

I like this French cut of echine for both pork steaks and roasts.  My favorite recipe for this is when it is coated with herbs and roasted with prune stuffed apples, whole garlic heads and onions.

When the roast is done and removed from the pan, the cooked garlic cloves are squeezed into the bottom of the pan and coarsely mashed with the onions and apples.  This is what I call “bottom of the pan” relish and it goes perfectly with the pork.  This time I used 4 pink lady apples but I thought they were too large for my roaster and would have preferred 6 smaller apples.  But everything was fine!

Time has flown and 3 months seems to be too little time to cook, eat, drink and talk with friends. I almost missed the romanesco season but managed to find 2 small heads.

I still had one can of Campbell’s mushroom soup and some French’s Fried Onions left over from making the traditional green bean casserole for Thanksgiving and thought I’d try adding these ingredients along with lardons to steamed romanesco.

Good casserole!  Just follow the recipe for the green bean casserole on the box of fried onions, add browned lardons and you’re in business.

The relish from the pan bottom is a delicious side for a roast and also great to spread on pork sandwiches.

Herb Crusted Echine de Porc

4 lbs or so pork loin roast

2 tsp dried rosemary leaves

2 tsp dried thyme leaves

6 bay leaves, broken in half

4 onions, quartered

4 carrots

2 heads of garlic

6 small apples, cored

Dried seedless prunes

Stab lots of slits in the roast and stuff with the herbs and bay leaf.  Place the onions, carrots, garlic heads and the apples stuffed with the prunes in the bottom of a roasting pan.  Roast for 45 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lower the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, loosely cover with foil and continue to roast for 1 1/2 – 2  hours. Remove the roast and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Squeeze the roasted garlic into the pan bottom and discard the husk.  Lightly mash the  vegetables and fruits, serving along side the roasted pork.

 

 

 

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La Magie de Trotoux

France has wonderful tasting and textured, farm raised turkeys.  Before we left for France, I promised my husband that I would make a full Thanksgiving meal and invite some of our friends so that they could experience the food and history associated with one of our most popular holidays.  We packed cranberry sauce, fried onions and mushroom soup because I knew they were not available in our part of France, or maybe in no part 🙂

5 days before Thanksgiving at the farmers’ market:

Me:  Do you have any whole turkeys?

Them:  It’s not the whole turkey season.  It’s usually at the end of November.

Me:  It is the end of November.

Them:  Or more likely the beginning of December.

I knew what I had to do!  The multi-award winning traiteur/butcher Trotoux specializes in the finest quality of poultry and meats in Sens.  Yes, he is expensive but always worth it.  No question of “if” but of when, size and what breed.  When my turkey arrived, like farm fresh turkeys here always do; feathers, head, feet, Trotoux began to demonstrate his expertise, gathering a crowd as he “civilized” the bird in the only way I would accept it.  Really, people took seats to watch!

In the end I had a featherless, headless and feetless pretty 10 lb turkey that I seasoned with salt and pepper, stuffed the cavities with carrots, onions and celery, closed up and slathered with butter before nestling it on a bed of onions and apples, ready for the oven.

Our meal began with a pumpkin soup, similar to the Haitian soupe giramon but without the scotch bonnets.  The ambiance would have been killed with the streaming eyes, hacking coughs and stricken looks of the French.  Pity 😀  I adore these little potimarron pumpkins/squash!

Bertrand, the blog photo police kept reminding me to take photos for the blog between pauses in his total, conversational enjoyment with the rest of the guests.  I wasn’t too enthusiastic about taking photos because of the artificial light in the kitchen and dining room but, under pressure, I did take a few 🙂

I thought Thierry took the prize for the most artistic and tastefully arranged plate.  The main course was roasted turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, giblet gravy and canned cranberry sauce.  The cranberry sauce was a surprising treat for our French guests who had never heard of nor tasted it.  They loved it!

My husband made an American apple pie.  Our group talked a bit about how American “pie” was not the equivalent of French tarte.

While we agreed that both were good, the differences in the pastry, fruit preparation and spices used make one a tarte and the other a pie.

I also made strawberry ice cream with Picard frozen strawberries (not the season) and fresh cream from the farmers’ market.  No picture, the photo blog policeman was eating his dessert 😀

I found this picture in my camera from a small meal we shared with the chef/owner of Chez Guy who instructed us on how it is eaten.  The cake comes with a small container filled with rum that is injected into the cake just before eating.  I thought that was cool.

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Pork Belly with German Cabbage

Our experience has been that domesticated pork, no matter in what country we’ve eaten it, manages to maintain some taste of its wild, Eurasian boar origins.  The exception seems to be found in American pork, which is tasteless and lately has a spongy quality, like that found in American chickens.  Bleah!  I don’t know exactly when this happened, having spent most of our lives overseas, but during one home leave we noticed the difference in both the pork and poultry; no taste, other than that added by rubs and sauces.  The spongey thing is fairly new.

Anyway, the purple cabbage, which everyone else calls red, is so pretty in an outer-space alien kind of way.

I love cooking this, and the German recipe I found while in Stuttgart is perfect for pork.

I rubbed the pork belly, as usual, with salt, then Emeril’s essence and overnighted it in the refrigerator uncovered.  Perfect for sandwiches.

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.

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, German, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pork Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Onion Gravy

My husband likes gravy.  It’s odd in a way because I know his mother didn’t make gravy, but would offer pan drippings from roasted meat that my husband would call gravy until I rudely sneered(not when she was there), made real gravy and modestly accepted my accolades 🙂  But I’ve created a monster and I have to make pints of gravy for Thanksgiving and Christmas to satisfy his gravy lust.

Neither of us care for a pureed potato for gravy, but prefer a coarser mash with a potato masher, tons of butter, no milk, salt and pepper.  The odd lump means nothing, as long as it’s cooked.

I like this pork steak cut.  Here in France it’s called a “cote d’echine” and it tastes like pork, no sponge.

Browning seasoned and floured meat in oil enriches the leftover oil and is the base for making gravy.

Onion Gravy

Makes 3 cups

3 tbsps leftover oil from meat browning

1 onion, chopped or sliced

3 tbsps flour

3 cups of water

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion in the same pan as the meat was browned, scraping up the bits, until the onion is just soft.  Sprinkle the flour over the onion and continue to cook slowly until the flour is browned.

Add the water a bit at a time, maintaining consistency and avoiding lumps.  Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the gravy has thickened to taste, stirring occasionally.

 

 

 

 

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Mont d’Or

Mont d’or is a rich, unctuous cheese that is heated in the oven in it’s box until melted and bubbly.  Like it’s cousins, fondu and raclette, it’s eaten with baguette, cornichons, charcuterie and sometimes small, boiled potatoes.  If you’d like to see how it looked before we ate it, click on the link above 😀

Mr. Parret told me about this cheese over coffee last week.  I’ve had fondu and raclette but had never heard of Mont d’or.  He promised to bring some over for lunch on Friday if I would invite our very friendly and chic neighbors, Bertrand and Caterina.  They are both doctors and will make house calls 🙂  We, of course, were happy to share a meal and conversation with them.

I don’t want to name any names are anything, but M. Parret was late.  In addition, he had not heated the cheese which takes about 40 minutes!  Thank God for the charcuterie, cornichons, olives and roasted peppers.

By the time the cheese was heated, I served it and forgot to take a picture.  It was delicious.  I stopped sniping at M. Parret and served the salad 🙂

I’d like to say that I made this gorgeous pear torte, but too many people know me and probably would comment.  I bought it at the bakery where we get our daily baguette 🙂

 

 

 

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Salmon and Udon Noodle Dashi Soup

Wandering around the Courtenay, France farmers’ market on Thursday, I stumbled upon two packages of fresh udon noodles!  Not available in Sens, this was quite the find.  I started cooking in my head and couldn’t wait to get home!  I knew I had kombu seaweed and katsuobushi flakes for a home made dashi broth and the fish monger for salmon is only a few steps away from my house.

I made the so easy dashi broth, steamed some chinese cabbage, boiled the udon, eggs and fried the salmon.  I placed the noodles, salmon and cabbage in two bowls, ladled hot broth over all and added boiled egg.

I gave my husband the big bowl because he looked very hungry 😀

Dashi Broth

1 large piece of kombu

8 cups water

2 cups bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

4 tbsp Usukuchi soy sauce

2 tbsp tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp sake

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp mirin

1/4 tsp salt

Place the kombu in the 8 cups of water and set aside.  After at least 30 minutes, pour the kombu and water into a pot and bring almost to a boil (small bubbles appear on the edges of the water).  Remove the kombu and discard.   Add the bonito flakes, bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds.  Place a paper towel lined strainer over a bowl and pour the bonito flakes and water into the strainer.  When cool enough, gather the flakes in the paper towel and squeeze the liquid out into the bowl before discarding the flakes.  To season the broth, add the soy sauces, sake, sugar, mirin and salt.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments