Sunday, June 26, 2011

From the archives -- Home Style Sweet and Sour Pork

Home Style Sweet & Sour Pork
Homemade Sweet and Sour Pork

  Craving sweet and sour pork and not wanting a trip to your favorite Chinese restaurant?  Not hard to make at home and a bonus is leaving the bright red food coloring in the bottle for dying Easter eggs instead of coloring your main dish.

This has brightened our family table on a regular basis since the 19 ... cough... 70's, and I have modified it in varying ways over the years. The result makes a reasonable restaurant inspired dish at home.  But the basis, from back then is one of ratios that come in handy in your cooking tool kit. Using pineapple juice, vinegar and sugar and a dash of soy sauce -- that is nearly all you need. You can use this sauce for pork, chicken, fish and prawns would be equally delightful. An added bonus, this is a very wallet friendly meal, sirloin pork was on sale for 2.99 a pound!

The cookbook the original version came from is now completely disassembled, front and back covers no long part of the three rings and the tape that once held it together has crumbled completely off.  I've had it so long, I can't remember where it actually came from to start with. Seems it has just always been there.  Do you have one of those old favorites in your cookbook library? You know the ones, slightly or completely worn, smudges on the pages, maybe some notes in the margins. Somehow like the Velveteen Rabbit, you know, so loved to pieces.

This one is for my sons who asked me to share the recipe.  Let's get started!

Prep your meat and vegetables, assemble ingredients. I like it colorful!
Brown pork and add onions, fresh ingredients
Pour in fresh ginger infused chicken stock. Cook covered for 30 minutes.
Add sweet and sour sauce mixture, stir as it thickens.
To read the full recipe and directions, Click Read More.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Duck Tales -- Pick your ending!

5 pounds of boneless, skinless duck breasts, frozen solid. Don't look a gift duck in the beak my Dad would have said, but still that's a whole lotta duck. Thanks to my sweet nephew, there were visions of duck confit, a la orange at hand. First up, What the Duck Confit! A day's preparation yields a bounty for a variety of recipes. If you take time for this, it is well worth it! Read on my friends, as the trilogy unfolds.

Duck Prep
What the Duck Confit!
Step one, marinate in mixed herbs, garlic and hint of orange overnight. Step two, lacking copious amounts of rendered duck fat, substituted olive oil for preparing the long slow, low heat braising for hours. Resulting in fall apart goodness and a flavored oil for storing this tender, earthy meat. Added bonus was the residual juices that I just had to make into a gravy, yes, said it. Gravy. Take me to the Bavarian forests for a hearty game inspired meal. Don't be cranky, but I just reserved three of the breasts as large servings, made a quick gravy from the reserved juices and added to homemade Spaetzle. No recipe written down for this part, online Spaetzel recipe worked just fine.

Duck Tale 1: Braised Duck over Spaetzle and Herb Gravy

Herb Duck in Gravy and Spätzle
Herbed Duck with Spätzle and Gravy
Herb Duck in Gravy and Spätzle
Caraway Carrots and Herb Duck for Dinner!
I reserved two breasts and created a orange accented stir fry. Quick and easy for a week night delight. The orange is a nice contrast to the earthy duck breast. Fresh snap peas provide a sugary crunch.

Duck Tale 2: Stir Fry Duck Breasts with Orange Sauce
Orange Duck Stirfry
Stir fry Duck with Orange and Snap Peas

Here's where it gets a little wacky. Mid-week, dead tired and not really hungry made me think margarite style pizza. But even though the brain said, "sure, you can make a quick pizza dough," my heart wasn't in it. Substituting the thicker soft taco sized flour tortillas as the crust and added some beautiful fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Shazam! This is really good!

Duck Tale 3: Personal Tortilla Pizza with Duck Confit
Personal Duck Pizza
Here's a tip: oven bake your tortilla a couple minutes each side before adding toppings.
And the good news is, I still have a lovely tub of confit still beckoning me in the refrigerator and two more whole breasts in the freezer. Hmmm wonder what is next?

Click Read More for Recipes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Week 22 in the Kitchen ... starts with Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

This has been a busy week in the What about the Food kitchen. How can it be that this year is nearly half over?

My first effort was to make some healthy, tasty soup for a dear friend recovering from surgery. Nothing better than chicken noodle for healing, so how about a little Thai twist.  I was happy with the result and my darling friend gave it her foot thumping happy dance as the sweet and spicy broth aromas filled the kitchen and made their way to her soup bowl.

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
Fresh Sweet Corn adds a nice touch to this traditional Thai Soup
Other kitchen creations included eggplant and pepper puree over polenta, a mediterranean potato and golden beet salad, pesto chicken and gnocchi with stuffed mushrooms on the side. Oh!  And a splurge on some fresh scallops. So much cooking so little blogging time! I will be getting to these beauties later on, but will tease you a bit with their portraits to admire.

Polenta & Roasted Eggplant
Roasted Eggplant and Red Peppers over Cheesy Polenta
Pesto Chicken Gnocchi
Mushrooms stuffed with sundried tomatoes and fried capers. Pesto Chicken and Gnocchi
Simple Scallops
Seared fresh scallops with a herb wine reduction.
Click Read More for the Soup Recipe

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Honey Chèvre Chicken with Apricot Thyme Sauce

Ripe Apricot
Fresh Ripe Apricots
As spring fades into summer one of my favorite fruits hits the markets in California, oh the joy of apricots! As a small child I would climb my Grandma's apricot tree (you know, the one just in front of the chicken coop, next to the clothesline.) The tree was really old, it's sharp rough bark nearly cutting into my hands. Drippy pitch the color of amber oozing onto my hands as I climbed higher to reach the fruit that tasted of honey and sunshine.  Hopefully you will find a ripe treasure at a farmer's market or fresh produce stand near you.

What is your favorite early summer fruit? Close your eyes, what memory does it bring back to you as you take that first bite?
On the Menu
Spring Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Honey Chèvre Chicken with Apricot Thyme Sauce
Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts
On the wine list: Clos du Bois 2009 Savignon Blanc

Honey Cherve Chicken
Honey Chervé Chicken with Apricot Thyme Sauce
Click Read More for the Recipe!