Ground Steak, Cucumber Pickle and Spinach

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I bought a package of mini cucumbers the other day because they were cute and had a picture of what looks like a little Haitian boy on the cover.  Maybe he’s not Haitian, although the cucumbers came for Canada (all the U.S. cucumbers apparently died from blight) and there are a lot of Haitians in Canada, or I was just thinking of my husband still resisting retirement in Port Au Prince.

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I decided to make a quick Japanese inspired pickle by first removing the seeds before slicing.

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I added a little sliced ginger to the cucumber because I like ginger in general and it’s good pickled.  I refrigerated this with rice vinegar and sugar for about 2 hours and it was great! Tomorrow it will be even better.

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One thing leading to another, with pernicious anemia dogging my heels, I thought I could use a boost from some spinach, which means I wanted some spinach  ;)

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I knew that if I found a really large garlic clove, which I did, things couldn’t go wrong.  The Disney World tomatoes and scallions were just side issue.

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Now if I were Nepali, vegetarian or had sensitive teeth or something, I would have just eaten the spinach over an enormous pile of bland rice with the pickle on the side.  But, thank you Lord, that isn’t the case.  I had some bespoke( I love the British people) ground steak that I pan seared to satisfy my carnivorous disposition.

Cucumber and Ginger Pickle

6 mini cucumbers

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin into batons

2 tsp salt

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

Roasted sesame seeds

Score the outside of the cucumbers with a fork, half and remove the seeds with a small spoon, then slice.  Gently stir the cucumber slices in a bowl with the salt, mixing well, then put into a strainer for about 10-15 minutes to release most of the water, rinse with cold water, then pat dry on paper towels.

Place the dried cucumber and ginger batons into a zip lock bag.  Mix the vinegar and sugar together, then pour into the zip lock bag with the cucumber.  Squish around and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Garlic Spinach with Tomatoes

1 tbsp peanut oil

1 tsp sesame oil

2 scallions, sliced

1 really large garlic clove, thinly sliced

8 oz (weight) baby spinach

2 tomatoes, seeds removed, then diced

Roasted sesame seeds

Heat the oils in a skillet, then add the scallions and garlic to lightly brown.  Add the spinach and stir fry to just wilt.  Add the tomatoes until heated.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lamb and Chickpea Stuffed Aubergine

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I found some enormous eggplants at Dave’s SuperDuper Market this week.  I don’t really like this eggplant size; I’d rather the smaller Japanese variety or a small to medium young, domestic eggplant.  If you make this recipe, I’d suggest 4 small to medium eggplants, if you can find them.  I’ve made a variation of this recipe with a medium sized, round Italian eggplant.  Very pretty🙂

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Anyway.  I cut about a fourth of each eggplant half per serving with a salad of lettuce and some very tired tomatoes😀

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Lamb and Chickpea Stuffed Aubergine

4 medium size eggplants

1 lb ground lamb

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 basil leaves, chopped

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp Mexican chili powder

Salt and pepper

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed

Olive oil

Crumbled feta

Fresh basil leaves, snipped

Cut the eggplants in half horizontally and hollow out both sides.  Chop the eggplant flesh and reserve.

Quickly cook the ground lamb in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and saute the onion, pepper and garlic until the onion is almost soft.  Add the reserved, chopped eggplant and continue to saute the mixture for 2-3 minutes.  Add the basil, sugar and tomatoes, chili powder and season with salt and pepper then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Spread half the sauce on the bottom of a baking pan.  Mix the other half with the ground lamb and chick peas, then stuff into the eggplant halves.  Put the stuffed halves in the baking pan on top of the sauce, brushing the cut edges with olive oil, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 F oven for 40 minutes.  Remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes.

Top each serving with feta cheese and basil.

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Portuguese Chicken with Roasted Capperino Peppers and Eggs

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In order to avoid continuing to watch the terrifying train wreck that has become our election campaign, I decided to hang out in the kitchen.  I had a thawed, small chicken and knew the seasonings for Portuguese chicken.  I added the boiled eggs, thinking of Ethiopian doro wat and eggs found in Indian curries.  I don’t think the Portuguese cook their chicken with eggs but I don’t care🙂  The capperino peppers were from the garden of my neighbor Caroline and were starting to look sickly, begging to be used. The peppers are good roasted, as long as you remove the seeds before eating.  M. Parret would have liked this.

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I’ve seen a lot of spatchcocking lately on the internet and figured it must be the season so I decided to join in.  It’s okay to marinate the chicken from 2 hours to overnight.  Because you cook the chicken with the marinade,  2 hours is okay but the flavor will be more intense overnight.

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I made a silly decision to boil the eggs, crack them a bit, then put into a zip lock with some of the marinade.  Totally unnecessary.  The eggs can be boiled, peeled, then just added to the roasting pan with the chicken, basting them a bit with the marinade.

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Hello!  Tajine!  You’ve missed me and I you.  The magic of a quality tajine is that you just put decent ingredients inside and everything will sort itself out in a delicious way.

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This mild, pear shaped squash is called mirliton in Haiti or chayote in Mexico.  These came from Mexico, so that’s alright, although I first ate them in Haiti.

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Unless your kids abhor the color green in vegetables, they would probably like this squash because of it’s mild flavor, but even if they don’t, make them eat it anyway.  You’re the parent and in charge of their health.  I knew a kid once who would only eat macaroni and cheese; well you know what happened to him.

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I sauteed this mirliton with yellow bell pepper, garlic and onion.  Very nice for a light lunch with buttered bread.

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The mirliton also was the perfect compliment to the spicy chicken.

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Portuguese Chicken with Roasted Capperino Peppers and Eggs 

1 small, whole chicken, spatchcocked

2 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp brown sugar

4-5  garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1-2 tsp piment d’espelette

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

5-6 boiled eggs, peeled

4-6 whole capperino peppers (optional)

Mix all the seasonings together in a small bowl, rub some into the chicken on both sides. Place the chicken into a zip lock bag with the rest of the marinade, squish around and refrigerate for 2 hours – overnight.

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator, place skin side up in a baking pan/tajine along with the marinade.  Add the eggs and peppers, if using.  Brush all with some of the marinade in the pan, then roast at 400 F for about 45 minutes, brushing with pan juices occasionally.

Sauteed Mirliton with Bell Pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliceed

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tbsp butter

4 mirliton/chayote, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced vertically

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the onion, pepper and garlic, then saute until the onion is soft.  Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.

Add the butter to the pan along with the chayote and saute until the chayote is lightly browned and crisp tender.  Add the sauteed vegetables to the chayote and saute for about another minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Haitian, Mexican, Portuguese, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Baby Spinach with Char Sui Pork

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Baby Spinach with Char Sui Pork

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 large garlic cloves, slivered

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced, prepared char sui pork

6 cups baby spinach

Tamari soy sauce

Saute the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil until the bell pepper is crisp tender. Stir in the pork for about 1 minute.  Add the spinach and continue to saute until just wilted.  Sprinkle with a little Tamari soy sauce and enjoy.

 

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

Easy Sunday Brunch Casserole et al

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Last week my husband and I, he who took a break from being un-retired in Haiti, motored down to Boston, a city I’ve never seen, to meet with a really cool medical specialist about my “pernicious anemia.”  Great trip all around!  Boston is a wonderful city and I want to go back to spend some quality time there.  The doctor is involved in both treatment and research on this rare type of anemia and plans to get me back to France soon, swilling champagne and snarfing down tons of cheese and “les abats” with my crew in Sens. Big shout out to Jeanette Silvert Lovett who pointed me in the right direction.

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Every year around Labor Day, our neighborhood organizes a Sunday potluck brunch to celebrate the holiday and to catch up with each others end of summer news.  I chose an easy, old breakfast stand by with sausage, bread, cheese, scallions and red pepper.  I have used this recipe numerous times for overnight guests because you can assemble the casserole the night before, refrigerate covered, remove covering and just shove it in the oven the next morning.  No fuss.  This recipe is so quick and easy that you actually could do it in the morning; crunchy bread cubes. savory sausage and moist eggs, that is if you aren’t too busy drinking coffee and staring out at the trees, which is my usual morning activity😉

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Sometimes I am just not hungry, can’t think of anything I want to eat, there are no leftovers and I don’t feel like cooking.  So I end up skipping a couple of meals.  The problem with this is that I eventually get “I could eat a bear” hungry and end up messily throwing anything I can find onto a plate, as long as it’s large🙂  Here is my big bread, sausage patties, egg, cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich, with mayo.  Not elegant, it wasn’t about that, but ENORMOUSLY satisfying.

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Because the refrigerator is so bare, I decided to defrost a rolled pork roast from the freezer, which is far from bare, and make some char sui pork to have on hand for salads, sandwiches and Asian noodle bowls.  For pork haters, I have also done this successfully with boneless chicken thighs.  You just hang them for less time in the oven.

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Also, I just love “S” hooking meat in the oven🙂  Although it was my husband’s idea, I always feel so clever!  But like his money, his ideas are my ideas😀

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I removed the strings and cut the roast into four, more or less, equal chunks.  I could have cut them smaller but I wanted to make sure that while getting a charred, somewhat crispy outside, that the inside would be cooked yet still juicy.

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Be sure to aluminum foil wrap a cookie sheet or something for the the pork to drip on to, otherwise you could risk an oven fire, your home smoke alarms will annoy you and the oven clean up could ruin your day.  Looks like MY oven racks are crying out for Easy Off🙂

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Whether you make char sui with pork or chicken, it is delicious and fun to do.  Is it me or does the front piece of char sui look like a pig’s head with a smiley face?

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Sliced char sui makes wonderful sandwiches and with ingredients you can go the American lettuce, garlic mayonnaise and tomato route, the Vietnamese Banh Mi route or whatever you like on your sandwich.  You can’t go wrong.  I smeared a little hoisin sauce on top.

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If you are avoiding the “white stuff” or are not a big fan of bread, just eat it plain with some salad.  I did, at first, and then I ate the sandwich.  I’m going to be big😀

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Easy Sunday Brunch Casserole

Butter

6 cups of cubed bread

1 lb bulk sausage, cooked

1 bunch scallions, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

10 eggs

3 cups milk

1 tsp salt

Butter a large baking pan, sides and bottom.  Place the bread inside, then sprinkle with half the sausage, half the scallions and bell pepper and 1 cup of the cheese.  Repeat the layer, reserving the 1/2 cup of cheese.

Beat the eggs, milk and salt together until well blended, then pour over everything in the baking pan.  Sprinkle with the reserved cheese.

At this point, you can either bake the casserole for about 55 minutes – 1 hour in a 325 F oven or refrigerate, covered until ready to bake.  Overnight is fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Poached Egg New Orleans

IMG_3877bShrimp Clemenceau is a New Orleans specialty, usually made with shrimp, asparagus, mushrooms and fried potatoes.  The last time I made this, at Chef Dave’s suggestion, I substituted mirliton for the fried potatoes.  This time I substituted aubergine for the fried potatoes because I’m craving aubergine.  So that’s why.

This should really be called Gambas Clemenceau because the shrimp in the freezer were humongous!  I wonder where I bought these?  They would be great on the grill.  I’ll have to look around.  You can also use “normal” shrimp which I had intended to do, but who knows what manner of creature lurks in the heart of my freezer?  Not even The Shadow🙂  I recently ordered a 14 DVD set of “Rumpole of the Bailey” and the series is as hilarious and entertaining as I remembered.

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Too lazy to make up a batch of Emeril’s essence and determined never to use any seasoning labeled “McCormick”, I remembered that my mother used Old Bay seasoning on practically everything, especially seafood.  Good enough for me and it was okay but I think I would have preferred a little “essence” or another good quality Creole seasoning.

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The thing about this rendition of shrimp Clemenceau is that I adore each ingredient; aubergine, shrimp, mushrooms, asparagus, garlic.

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This was a very pretty aubergine; firm, white fleshed and dark purple skin.

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Be sure to brown the diced aubergine on high flame and avoid overcooking so that the pieces remain firm.  Mine were a little softer than I wanted.  Good, but still.

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This dish is easy to assemble and would make a nice main course for a “Laid back” Sunday brunch because you can quickly cook everything in the morning and just reheat before topping with a poached egg to serve.

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Gambas Clemenceau

2 lbs of gambas or shrimp headed, shelled and deveined

2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning or a good quality Creorle seasoning

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 large, firm aubergine/eggplant, diced

3-4 garlic cloves minced

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp butter

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch young asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into thirds

1 tbsp butter

Poached eggs (optional)

Toss the gambas with seasoning and set aside.  Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a skillet, add the aubergine and brown on high flame until cooked but still firm.  Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove the mixture to a plate/bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, then add the 2 tbsp of butter and the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms begin to release their water, then add the asparagus and continue to saute for about 2 minutes until the asparagus are crisp tender.  Transfer to the plate with the aubergine.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the gambas.  Saute until just done, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the vegetables to the skillet and gently toss and heat.

Divide in to serving plates and top each serving with a poached egg, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

I’m Still Here

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I remembered one of my favorite films, Papillon with Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen.  Continually surviving the inhumane conditions of the French prison system in French Guiana, he famously declares “Hey you b*st*rds, I’m still here.”  Me too.  I’m still here.  I’m going to look at that movie tonight!  Here’s Jessie that I heroically hand-stripped for the first time.  It took about 10 days.  In this picture I still have the legs to complete but I did a fabulous job on the ears!

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It’s way too hot to cook anything meaningful (94F yesterday with a 1000% humidity or almost) and I’ve been eating some of the most horrendous meals that, if someone told my friends what I was eating, they would staunchly deny it, backing it up with their 2nd amendment right😀

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So today, in order to avoid a possible O.K. Corral and health deterioration, I racked my brains for something quick but good to cook and came up with Asian aubergine with leftover steak.  I usually make this with ground lamb or veal but I couldn’t be bothered to thaw anything.  After browning the garlic, ginger and aubergine, you could just salt it and eat it like that if you can’t be bothered.  Confession:  I use way more garlic and ginger than I write down in my recipes, out of concern for the “babies” (Caroline) who follow my blog😀  Hail Mary…..

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This is my Dorflinger crystal red wine glass that I bought at an antique fair.  I had never heard of Dorflinger crystal/cut glass until, having nothing to do, I visited the local glass factory  and museum that used to produce this crystal.  Apparently in it’s heyday, this crystal could be found in the inventories of U.S. Presidents and filthy rich scions of the East Coast.  Huh!  Dorflinger made some beautiful pieces for formal dining and ostentatious display.  Resisting the temptation, this time, for gratuitous ostentation, I only bought 2 glasses😉

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This pretty plate was given to me for my photography by my gracious, thoughtful neighbor Christine who is of the British ex-pat persuasion.  Thank you Christine.

Spicy Aubergine with Steak

3 tbsp sambal oelek

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp rice vinegar

3 tbsp sake

2 tbsp mirin

2 cups of sliced leftover steak

7 tbsp peanut oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 inch fresh ginger, minced

2 large aubergine, cut into chaos chunks

Scallions, sliced

In a little bowl, mix together the sambal oelek, soy sauce, vinegar, sake and mirin.  Set aside.

Add 1 tbsp of peanut oil to a skillet and fry the garlic and ginger until brown, then remove from the skillet and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet, add 3 tbsps of peanut oil, then brown half of the aubergine chunks, remove when done, add the last 3 tbsp of oil and brown the other half of the aubergine. Put all of the aubergine into the skillet along with the sauce, steak, garlic and ginger. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with scallions and serve with noodles or rice.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments