Chicken, Beef or Pork

I haven’t blogged in a while because I was uninspired, bored with food choices and grossed out by the texture, taste and size of our meat products; both the chicken and pork most times have a sponginess in the flesh and, of course is tasteless.   What is that?!  The supermarkets seem to be fond of selling beef steak without the bones and declaring that every piece is Angus cow.  I immediately went on “yellow alert”  about the boneless meat, you really can’t tell what you’re getting.  As far as Angus is considered, the bar has been set so low by our USDA that any black cow can be considered Angus.  Forget the fish, it comes from fish farms and are fed with a dog food mixture of chemicals and whatever, then frozen before it makes it to the market.  I now get all poultry from the Jewish kosher store in Scranton, beef and pork from either the IGA in Hawley or Pete’s Market in Narrowburg which, I hope, comes from local farmers and at least has some taste and no sponginess.  I swear, I have lost my “joy of cooking” here,  but I’m coming home in a few weeks, so voila!

Anyway. Beef brisket, although I was born in Texas, was never on my barbecue list.  Growing up we barbecued, beef and pork ribs, steak and chicken, no brisket.  When I heard about Texas barbecued brisket, I assumed that it was just some bizarre innovation of barbecued meats created by people who didn’t know any better.

I finally had some Texas barbecued brisket when we were in Haiti.  Our neighbor from Texas brought a large brisket back from the States and barbecued it, proving my point 😀  So I didn’t bother to try beef brisket for decades until listless, bored, depressed and unenthusiastic, I was shopping for meat at the IGA in Hawley (beef, chicken, pork) and spotted a 2 lb beef brisket that my husband and I thought, hopelessly, we might as well try.

I rubbed the roast down with bavarian essence, set it inside an aluminum wrapped roasting pan, let it sit for 1 hour and then threw it, in the pan, off flame, onto a 250 F preheated gas grill, top down, went away and drank Bailly Rose cremant for 1 1/2  hours.  It looked okay.  I then slathered it with barbecue sauce, turned it over and continued to grill for 15 minutes.  I slathered again, turned it and grilled another 15 minutes until the sauce coated the roast but was not burned.

We were interested and my husband started to hover, snack and look for sandwich makings.

He grew these heirloom tomatoes and the flavor is wonderful.  They taste like tomatoes!  He toasted a Hoagie loaf and layered it with mayonnaise, horseradish, tomatoes and lettuce.  Mea Culpa, the brisket was juicy and flavorful.  I’ll do it again when we get to France.



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Spinach Cobb Salad

This is my breakfast salad, prepared for today’s Sunday coffee get together.  Baby spinach on the bottom, topped with red onion, boiled eggs, sliced mushrooms, crispy bacon, with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette served on the side.

I love this bowl!  It’s certainly West African, probably Niger and normally used for hand washing clothes.  The serving spoon and fork are from Kenya.

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Topinambour with Braised Flanken Ribs

Topinambour or Jerusalem artichokes or sun chokes are a delicious alternative to potatoes.  I poached this recipe idea from Jamie Oliver, although I did increase the simmering time.

I purchased these beauties from an actual farmer at one of the tables set up in the parking lot of Super Duper.  There wasn’t a lot of produce available but maybe it’s too early and I intend to swing by from time to time.

These rather fatty, beef flanken ribs were found lurking under other lost orphans in the freezer.  I saw some duck legs also!  I’ll have to get to them one day.

I browned the ribs, pouring off excess fat before braising them in a light barbecue sauce.

Fairly simple and they were perfect with the sun chokes.

Sauteed Sun Chokes

1 lb Sun chokes, washed, ends cut off and discarded, cut into chunks

2 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, grated

4-6 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried bay leaves

Splash of white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Brown the chokes in the olive oil, stir in the garlic, bay leaves and the vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the cover and bay leaves,  increase the flame and cook for a few minutes to crisp.

Braised Flanken Ribs

2 lbs flanken beef ribs



Garlic powder

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, halved and sliced

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup water

Season the ribs with salt, black pepper and garlic powder.  Brown on all sides in the olive oil.  Remove the ribs and set aside.  Pour off accumulated fat except for about a tablespoon, add the onion and saute until soft.  Return the ribs to the skillet, add the bbq sauce and water, bring to a boil, cover and turn down to a simmer for 40 minutes, turning the ribs occasionally.







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Duck Magret with Mushrooms and Pears

The United States has a food magazine publication called Saveur and France has one called Saveurs.  The advantage of the French publication is that the recipes and articles are seasonal, therefore the ingredients are always available in the produce, meat and fish markets.  In addition, the omnivorous French eat everything and celebrate the agricultural varieties found in their country.  For instance, mushroom season is overwhelming.  So many different varieties and ways to prepare them.  My favorite are “trompettes de la mort” or trumpets of death, indispensable for braised Bresse chicken.

When I left Sens last December, I grabbed a number of issues of Saveurs magazine and put them in my already over loaded suitcase; even if I couldn’t find the exact ingredients, the produce,meat and fish varieties, I thought I could at least drool over the photos 🙂

While drooling over these photos, I found a delicious, simple recipe that I thought I could prepare; Magret de Canard with Pears and Mushrooms.  I had 2 duck breast in the freezer and the mushroom and pear varieties would have to be substituted.

I was able to find a pound of pre-sliced and packaged portabello, shiitake and oyster mushroom crumbs.  If you live in or near a city, you should be able to choose and make up a pound of these varieties from the loose bins and slice them yourself.  You would certainly want more than crumbs from the oyster mushrooms.

The sauce was rich with butter, pears, shallots and the mushrooms.  Perfect for the duck breasts.  Easy.  Fabulous!

Duck Magret with Mushrooms and Pears

1 cup chicken broth

1 large sprig fresh rosemary, separated into leaves

2 tbsp butter

1 large shallot, thinly sliced vertically

1 lb mixed mushrooms (portobello, oyster and shiitake), sliced

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp butter

2 William or Anjou pears, cored and sliced into 6 portions each

1 rounded tsp sugar

2 tbsp pear brandy

2 duck breasts, fat scored and seasoned with salt and pepper

Boil the chicken broth until it is reduced by half.  Remove from the flame, add the rosemary leaves and set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large skillet, add the shallots and slowly cook until very soft.  Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, then continue to saute for 3 minutes on a high flame.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in the same skillet, add the pears and saute for 5 minutes on a medium flame.  Sprinkle with the sugar and continue to saute for 2 minutes.  Add the brandy, then on high flame, set it alight(flambe) and cook for 1 minute until the flames go out.  Put the mushrooms and broth in the skillet, heat for about 30 seconds, then set aside.

Sear the breasts in a dry, heated skillet, fat side first for 6 minutes, turn and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes.  Wrap the breasts in aluminum foil for 5 minutes.

Reheat the pear and mushroom sauce.  Slice the breasts and serve with the sauce.




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Smoked Turkey Tails

When living in landlocked Niger we would often load up the car for a day’s journey down unpaved roads to the coast in Lome, Togo.  Because of the roads, the going was slow and sometimes we’d stop to stretch our legs, at times strolling through local, outdoor markets just off the road.  At one of these markets we saw dozens of shipping cartons of American imported, raw “turkey tails”.  That was one on us!  Curious and no strangers to West African street food, we joined the queue to the 8-10 half barrel, charcoal grills where they were grilling the tails, slicing them and serving them on torn pieces of cement bag with an eye popping green chillie sauce on the side.  They were good and the experience so memorable that we still talk about it from time to time.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw these smoked turkey tails at Super Duper last week!  We’ve always believed that the American poultry growers had found a lucrative market in West Africa for a portion of the turkey that is usually tossed during processing.  And they had!  The queues to the grills were long and packed with excited, impatient consumers.  We had to wait quite a while in the hot sun!

The turkey tails are enormous, 4 1/2 – 5 inches.  How big are these turkeys?!  When did we start buying and eating turkey tails as a main course?  Or did we always eat them, at least in Pennsylvania?  Whatever.

The smoked tails are cooked in a 375 F oven for 35 minutes, then sliced and eaten.  The texture and flavor is somewhat like fatty ham.  Shrug.

They were okay but I don’t think I’ll buy them again.  We were younger then,  impressed with the ambiance of local outdoor markets, probably driven senseless by the 112 F sun and the really large African beers we drank to keep our strength up.  Everything was fun 😀

I also found some not so young okra at the Weiss supermarket and thought since West Africans eat a lot of okra, it would make a correct side dish for the tails.

The okra was leaning towards “woody” but I added onions, chilli, bell pepper and garlic to take my mind off the texture.



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The Sunday brunch group members are back in Honesdale, having spent the last of the winter in fairer climes.  In a crazed mood, I decided to bake something, carelessly disregarding the fact that the group is composed of fairly experienced bakers and my efforts are never quite successful nor enthusiastic 🙂

I think baking is an art.  Of course, I’m still on stick figures and cone shaped trees 🙂  I’ve seen some beautiful creations on other blogs and at my friend Trix’s restaurant.  I don’t have the gift nor the patience, but I found a recipe  on the internet that sounded pretty good and like something I could do, though I thought the sugar amount was exaggerated.

At the start, when I set out all the ingredients, I felt pretty cheerful and confident with the bright colored boxes and lemons.

But then, with the STEPS which were not intuitive,  involving numerous bowls, measuring cups, spoons, juicing and zesting, creaming and electric hand mixing, I was annoyed.  There is nothing “approximate” in baking or “the kingdom is lost.”  I tell you, I was horrified when they mentioned greasing AND flouring 2 loaf pans!  I took it as a personal affront and, in retaliation, greased and floured 3 loaf pans of a size I thought would be equivalent.  Mistake and flour was everywhere.

Of course the pans where too full and they overflowed in the oven, creating shards of charcoal on the racks and the oven bottom.  The smoke alarm in the hallway could not be appeased until I had closed the hall door, turned on the exhaust fan and opened both outside doors from the kitchen.

The spillover from the pans also created brittle overhangs on each pan and made it fiddly to remove the loaves.

The glaze, at least, was easy to make.  The ladies at brunch, who are the epitome of politesse, said that the lemon poppy seed loaves were good and, the  recipe does read well.  (See the link above).  Baking and the needed precision is just not my forte.  I’ll leave it for others.



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Grilled Pork Rib Loin with Pear Salsa

Easter has always been a big deal for our family.  I cook a large meal, sometimes we go to mass 🙂 and my husband makes surprise Easter baskets for the children/adults, having done so for 35 years.  I guess this is the first Easter that he’s been absent and whining was heard.

In addition to his absence, the kids had made other plans for Easter with their partners, but our son was able to come up with his friend the weekend before Easter, as a substitute celebration and to check on me/eat.

From the age of 5, our son has loved room service.  In our travels we often stayed at hotels and because his bedtime was fairly early, we would order a room service meal of his choice, get him into his pajamas, turn on the TV and then go downstairs for some adult eating and drinking.  He loved/loves room service; the rolling cart with a white table cloth, the suited and always friendly server with his meals under silver domes.  Those days being long past, he now makes a lot of expensive home delivery orders of, I’m sure, the garbage food that you can get delivered.  When he does consider cooking home meals, he usually texts me for a recipe that he doesn’t use 😀  Probably hoping that I’ll drive up for 4 hours and cook it.  He has always lived in a romantic, partial dream world that I encouraged by allowing him to look at golden age musicals with me.  Oh well, we make mistakes 😀

Anyway, for just the 3 of us, I made a whole lot of food; an 8 bone grilled pork loin, pear and tomato salsa, a large macaroni and cheese,  herbed roasted parsnips and carrots and individual apple and pear crumbles for dessert.  All the leftovers were taken away as I had intended.  A hiatus, preventing me from being grossed out for a few days, thinking about what he’s eating.

Our son is a master carver!  If he ever gets married, maybe his wife will appreciate this, if she cooks 😀

Grilled Pork Rib Loin with Pear and Tomato Salsa

1 8 rib pork roast, gently poked all over with a fork

1/2 cup grainy mustard

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup melted butter

1-2 tbsp rosemary, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

For the salsa

3 pears, peeled, cored and diced

1 shallot, chopped

1 large tomato, pulp and seeds removed, diced

1 handful each mint and cilantro leaves, chopped

1 long green, mild chilli, seeds removed and chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tbsp sugar

Mix the mustard, honey, butter, rosemary and garlic together, then rub all over the roast.

Turn on all the gas burners on the grill and preheat to at least 450 F.  Turn off the burners on one side of the grill and place the roast on the flame-less side.  Put the top down and roast for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, basting  every 30 minutes with leftover mustard mixture.

For the salsa, mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.



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