Thursday, June 23, 2011

Anyone Else Have This Blogger Issue?

I want to apologize to any bloggers of whom I have been a loyal and faithful reader.  You may be noticing that I haven't been commenting on your blogs.  Well, part of that is that I sometimes don't get around to doing blog reading as much as I would like to these days, but when when I carve out a chunk of "Blog time" to get to everyone's blogs and steal recipes, I am still not commenting on certain blogs.

Fear not, dear friends.  I am still a fan of your blog.  I am just having some major tech issues with Blogger.  I will post comments on certain blogs, logged into my Google account, and I will be prompted to "choose an account".  I choose Google and it boots me back to the login screen.  I then log in and it takes me back to the comment screen.  I try to post the comment again, and it boots me back to the login screen.  I log in and go back ot the comment screen.  I try to post the comment, and I'm back to the login screen.  It goes round and round until I am totally frustrated and just give up.

Two blogs where this issue stands out are Burp and My Tasty Treasures - two of my favorite blogs, but I believe there are a couple of others I can't remember right now.  If anyone knows why this is happening, I'd love some tech support.  In the mean time, please note, dear friends, that I still love you and still read your blogs whenever I am having my "blog time".

Thursday, June 16, 2011

From Sea to Shining Sea; A Tale of Two Seas; Keep Reading and You Will SeaSee What I Mean

No, my dear muffins, it's not about me cooking fish!
One of my most favorite dishes to make is risotto.  It's easy, it's creamy and comforting, and people who don't know how to make it think you slaved over it and are really impressed.  It's also extremely versatile.  You can eat it plain, or you can add just about anything to it. 

Most cooks like to enhance their risotto dishes according to the season.  In the fall and winter it will be adorned with squash and carrots.  In the spring it's peas and asparagus. 

I was in a risotto mood and didn't know what I wanted to do with it.  Asparagus has been done to death in this kitchen lately.  I hate peas.  Spring is just turning into summer and the later summer abundance of vegetables is yet to be available.  I'm also growing tired of sticking broccoli and cremini mushrooms in everything.  I really have a strong need to branch out.

What, besides vegetables and fruits from the farmer's markets does summer make me think of? With the recent heat wave I have been craving icy tropical drinks and ice cream.  Imagine a lovely pina colada on a hot day.  Then I knew I had my inspiration.

I asked myself what a risotto made with coconut milk would be like?

"You would be making rice pudding," answered my logical brain.

"No," argued the creative side.  I would not include any sweet ingredients.  This would have a savory edge."

So my idea for "fusion risotto" came to be.  I would be combining the Mediterranean technique of risotto with Caribbean flavors - a mishmash of two seas.

I did a quick internet search and found out that I was not the inventor of coconut risotto.  Recipes abound out there.  Here I was thinking I was so creative!  I vowed not to look at anyone else's recipe so my recipe could truly be my own.

I have been keeping this stuff in the house a lot lately.  I've been replacing regular milk with it just for kicks.


The risotto was also lightly flavored with ginger and scallions.

I made the risotto as a side dish.  I decided that as long as we were on a Caribbean them, I would make a jerk sauce.  I used the same spices I used on pork once: allspice, cinnamon, hot pepper, and nutmeg.  I blended this with molasses, olive oil, and garlic.

My victim carrier for the sauce was a whole turkey breast, covered with the sauce before being slow roasted.

My turkey was seriously spicy, so the risotto was a nice creamy foil for it. I made grilled lemon zucchini and summer squash on the side mostly because I couldn't think of any other vegetable to make and the sale on these just jumped out at me at the store.   I thought the risotto was a bit too rich.  I would use less butter (or none) next time and add some lime juice and zest to freshen it up a bit.  As I was cooking it, I thought it tasted a bit weird, but the finished product was pretty good and will be awesome with a few tweaks.

Jerky Turkey Breast

  • 1 whole turkey breast - 4 lbs
  • 1 Tbl allspice berries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Few grates nutmeg
  • 3-5 dried hot peppers stemmed and seeded (I used red chills and habeneros)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbl molasses
  • 1 tsp salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small pan over low heat, toast the allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and hot peppers.  Your kitchen should smell like Christmas - in Hell. 

In a mini food processor, coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, or other grinding device of your choice, add the toasted spices to the garlic, oil, molasses and salt.  Process into a paste until relatively smooth (you won't likely get  it completely smooth).

Rub the paste generously over the turkey.  Roast for about 75-90 minutes.  Let sit a few minutes and serve.

Coconut Risotto

  • 2 Tbl butter
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio or similar rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2" piece of ginger, cut in a few small chunks
  • 3 scallions, sliced, green parts only
In a small saucepan mix the coconut milk, ginger, chicken stock together and bring to a gentle simmer.  Keep warm on the stove.

Heat butter and olive oil in a larger saucepan.  Cook onion until transparent.  Add garlic and cook a minute or two until it becomes fragrant. 

Add rice and cook until grains are coated and start to look translucent.

Slowly add the simmering stock mix about a ladleful at a time.  Stir until absorbed.  Keep adding stock and stirring till absorbed.  Stir in scallions and serve.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Else Can I Do with Pork?

I was craving pork tenderloin.  I had to have pork tenderloin.  There was a deep-seated feeling in my soul that cried out for pork tenderloin and assured me that life as I knew it would end if I didn't have pork tenderloin.   I knew that the next time I made dinner, it would have to be pork tenderloin. 

Unfortunately, the store was out of pork tenderloin.

How about some really big thick pork loin chops?

So I'm cool with this, but the next question is, "What do I do with them?"

Such is the life of a food blogger.  If you want to stay relevant, you have to keep it fresh.  If I was going to make pork chops, I was going to blog about it. If I was going to blog about it, I had better make a pork dish that wasn't the same old pork dish.  Otherwise, why would anyone want to read my blog?

I had made pork with oranges, with limes and oranges, with mangoes in two ways.  I had made it with port (and pomegranate), and brandy, and sherry, and bourbon and more bourbon as well as stuffed with sausage.  What else was left?  What could I do with pork that I had never done before that would be totally TERP-worthy?

I first considered fruit.  Did I want it fruit-flavored, and if so, what fruit?

I never made pork with raspberries before.

Next I started raiding the cabinets again.  I needed something more than just raspberries.  What would go with them?

Limes!  Chipotle!  Raspberry vinegar!

Sear in a pan.


Finish in the oven and serve!

Inspiration is saved once more.

The pork tasted of fresh fruit and lots of spice with just enough burn on the throat.  I would consider putting this sauce on chicken as well.  I lost a bit of sauce when I cut the meat off the bone for presentation though.  Next time I put a big sloppy chop on the plate!  I would also reserve a little glaze before glazing the chops to drizzle over this.

Sir Pickypants did not go hungry.  I had the chipotle and limes, so I took a cue from the other Kevin over at Closet Cooking who had a good recipe for fish tacos using lime and chipotle.  I didn't bother with the taco part.  Just made some nice spicy fish.

Asparagus seems a little atypical for the flavors, but it's local.  I thought I'd be a little PC.

Raspberry Lime and Chipotle Pork Chops

2-4 thick pork chops, about 12 oz. each
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar
Juice and zest of one lime
1 tsp honey
1 tsp chipotle powder.

Heat over to 400 degrees.

Puree berries in a blender until they are very smooth.  Press puree through a sieve to remove seeds.  In a small saucepan combine puree, vinegar, lime juice, zest, honey and chipotle powder.  Bring to a boin and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 20 minutes or until nice and thick like a barbecue sauce.

Sprinkle chops liberally with salt and pepper.  Brown them well on each side in a hot, ovenproof pan. 

Remove from heat and cover them with the raspberry sauce.  Place pan in the oven and roast an additional 10 minutes (less if your chops are not so thick).