Monday, June 6, 2022

 

Rick’s Summer Tabbouleh Salad

TabboulehI had never had tabbouleh until I met my wife’s family in my early twenties.  It was a staple of their summer picnics and I loved it. I seldom make it, as I was reminded yesterday by my unopened Bob’s Red Mill Bulgur with a 2012 sell-by date. A quick trip to Guido’s for new bulgur and I was ready. We had friends over for a Mediterranean dinner last night. We started with pita, hummus, feta and mixed olives, some nice Rose from Provence. Then I made grilled marinated butterflied leg of lamb and grilled veggies with the tabbouleh. Summer dining on the back porch at its best!

Ingredients

1 cup bulgur

2 cups boiling water

4 ripe tomatoes finely chopped

½ red onion finely chopped

½ cup fresh mint finely chopped

½ cup fresh dill finely chopped

1 cup fresh parsley finely chopped

The juice of one lemon

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

A dash of ground allspice

Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe

Put the bulgur in a good-sized bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Invert a dinner plate over the bowl and let it sits for 30 minutes. Strain the bulger through a big fine sieve until most of the water is gone. Return the bulger to the bowl. Add the chopped ingredients. Make a dressing by whisking the lemon juice and olive oil until it thickens. Add to the bowl. Season with salt, pepper and allspice and toss well. Serve at room temperature.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

 

Rick’s Vietnamese Pork Chops

Pork chop

We had a great little Vietnamese Restaurant nearby and their pork chops were one of the best things on their menu. Sadly, for us, the family that ran the place retired and moved to Florida. I’ve found several recipes and this is my take. Serves four.

Ingredients

4 bone-in pork loin rib chops about an inch thick

½ of a small onion or the white part of a couple scallions, finely chopped

½ cup of Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce

4 TBS brown sugar

2 TBS rice vinegar

1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 TBS peanut oil

Recipe

Add fish sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and pepper to a small bowl and whisk well to make the marinade.

Poke the chops through with a fork in several places, so they will take the marinade. Put the chops in a freezer bag, add the marinade and turn the chops to coat. You can leave them on the counter for at least a half hour (or overnight in the refrigerator.) Turn them over from time to time.

Add the oil to a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Scrape off the marinade and put the remainder in a small pot and bring to a boil, and simmer to reduce. Wipe the chops with a paper towel.

Cook the chops until they are well browned, about four minutes to a side.  Serve with the marinade sauce, Jasmine rice, and lime wedges. An Asian beer would go nicely. Or a sturdy red wine.


Sunday, February 13, 2022

Rick’s Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Honey Sauce

A pork tenderloin is an inexpensive, delicious dinner that can be put together in very little time. For this recipe you need a big pan that can start on the stovetop and be finished in the oven. I have a 14-inch well-seasoned cast-iron pan that does the trick. You’ll want your kitchen fan on high during the initial searing.

Ingredients

Pork tenderloins (they come two to a package)

2 TBS peanut oil

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

Kosher Salt

Black pepper

Paprika

Sauce

!/2 cup honey

1 TBS soy sauce

1 TBS Chinkiang Vinegar

1 TBS Chinese rice wine or Saki

2 Tsp Dark sesame oil

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. Sprinkle the tenderloins with salt, pepper and paprika.

Set pan over burner on medium high heat until it is very hot. Put in the oil and when it starts to smoke sear the tenderloins all over, until they are nicely browned, about three minutes per side.

Turn off the burner and toss in the garlic and stir it in the hot pan for about 15 seconds (don’t burn it!) Give the sauce a final stir and add it to the pan, coating all sides of the pork.

With a couple good potholders carefully put the pan in the oven, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until internal temperature is 150 F. The tapered ends will be medium and the center will still be pink. Something for everyone! I would serve this with rice and apple sauce or chutney. Or baked beans.


Monday, November 22, 2021

 Art’s favorite dessert: New England Indian Pudding

If you are not from New England, you probably have never had Indian Pudding, a much loved regional dessert. It is basically cornmeal slow cooked in molasses and milk, and was given its name because of an American Indian dish that used maple syrup to sweeten ground cornmeal.

The Boston Globe recently had a piece suggesting it be renamed Puritan pudding, but I’ll stay with the original name, and think of it as an homage and not an appropriation.

It is a humble dish, often on the menus of good diners. Both my father and father-in-law (Boston born) loved it, as well as my brother and my son. I love it.

My beloved father-in-law , Art, died a few weeks ago at age 94, and I have made it a couple times since then. He loved the Indian Pudding at the famed, now gone, Durgin-Park Restaurant at Faneuil Hall in Boston. Durgin-Park was in operation since 1827 and closed in 2019. Sad.

My mother-law found and gave me a handwritten card with the Durgin-Park Recipe, but it bakes for 5 to 7 hours, so I have tweaked my own that can be done in under 3. 

I consulted several cookbooks, including Fannie Farmer (Boston Cooking School) and Jasper White’s “Cooking from New England.” White suggested using Johnny Cake meal (an heirloom corn meal from RI). It turns out that Gray’s Grist mill that makes it is a stone’s throw from my daughter’s house in Adamsville, RI, and so I got some last time I was there (The mill is actually in Westport, MA right on the line.)

Ingredients

3 TBS unsalted butter (divided)

3 cups good whole milk (I used local High Lawn Farm from nearby Lee, MA)

5 TBS yellow cornmeal or johnnycake meal

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup dark (unsulfured) molasses

¼ Tsp salt

¼ Tsp dried ground ginger

¼ Tsp cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

1 cup whole milk, cold

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 1 ½ quart ceramic baking dish with a tablespoon of the butter (I used my soufflĂ© dish). Heat the 3 cups of milk on the range just to the boiling point and stir in the cornmeal, reducing the heat to low. Stir like you would polenta, until the mixture starts to thicken. Turn off the heat, and add the maple syrup, molasses, salt, ginger, cinnamon, remaining butter and egg. Pour into the buttered dish.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Pour the cold milk over the pudding and return to the oven. Bake for 2 hours. It’s OK if it separates a bit.

Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.


 Baked Sea Scallops with Tarragon and Panko

The best way to cook sea scallops is to sear them in a hot cast-iron pan, but when you are cooking for a crowd, baking is a good second best, and much less labor intensive. These were delicious.

Yields 4-6 servings

Ingredients

2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed and drained

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4  cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion chopped

2 teaspoons dried tarragon

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup Panko

3 tablespoons olive oil 

Chopped parsley for garnish

Lemon wedges for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place scallops, melted butter, garlic, onions and tarragon in a bowl. Season with salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Transfer to a casserole dish. Arrange the scallops in a single layer.

In a separate bowl, combine Panko and olive oil and stir to mix. Sprinkle on top of scallops.

Bake in the preheated oven until crumbs are brown and scallops are done, about 12 to 15 minutes. Top with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

I served this with couscous and a salad, and a crisp white wine.

Rick’s Mediterranean Sheet Pan Roast Chicken

Since COVID has enlarged our family bubble, I have rediscovered ways of cooking for a crowd. The slow-cooker is my friend. And I have been having fun roasting things on sheet pans. Lo, and behold, the New York Times just had an article about this as a trend. When you think of trendy, I’m sure you think of me.

So, tonight I roasted some bone-in skin-on chicken thighs with some vaguely Mediterranean flavors and it came out pretty good.

Ingredients

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, about 4 lbs.

1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin ribbons.

1 small jar of chopped pimentos

1 dozen whole pitted green olives

1 dozen whole pitted Kalamata olives

Spices

Salt 

Pepper

Smoked paprika

Garlic salt

Onion salt

Cumin

Oregano

Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 425 F.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and brush it with the olive oil to coat. Place chicken skin side up on the sheet. Sprinkle the rest of the ingredients around the chicken. Shake the spices onto the chicken to your taste.

Cook for 35 to 45 minutes until the chicken is brown on the top. An insta-read thermometer should read at 165 F.

I served this with yellow saffron rice and a tossed salad. A nice red blend from Portugal carried the Mediterranean theme. Enjoy!


 

Monday, May 17, 2021

 

Rick’s Berkshire Jambalaya

For tonight’s Shrove Tuesday dinner my son requested that we have both pancakes and jambalaya, which is a thing their church in Alexandria does. “Dad, do you have a jambalaya in you?” he asked last week. It was in rotation during his childhood, but I seldom make it anymore because it is a pile of food, and until the pandemic, it was just the two of us.

The first jambalaya I ever made was decades ago from a recipe in the original “Frugal Gourmet.” It was a recipe Jeff Smith got from some Methodist Church ladies in New Orleans and it was pretty darn good.

Later, I got Chef Paul Prudhomme’s “Louisiana Cookbook” which has several great jambalayas. I made all of them and took a tweak or two from each of them.

You can make a simple version or a more elaborate one. For the essentials you need ham (which is where it gets its name from “jambon” the French for ham.) Prudhomme uses tasso, and if you can find some, it works great. You’ll need rice, and not  just any rice, but parboiled rice like “Uncle Ben’s Converted” rice (trust me on this). You’ll need the “trinity ”of cajun and creole cooking: onion, celery and green bell pepper. I usually make this the day after we have roasted a chicken so we have some leftovers. This recipe serves eight or ten, since that is how many people live in my house right now.

Ingredients

2 TBS vegetable oil

3 yellow onions chopped

3 stalks celery chopped

1 big green bell pepper (I’ve made it with red bell pepper and it was fine)

1 lb. Andouille sausage chopped

½ lb. ham chopped (I used a ham steak)

1 cup cooked small leftover chicken pieces

1 lb. uncooked shrimp peeled and deveined (save the shells to make the stock)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper (cayenne) or to taste

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 bay leaves crumbled

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

2 TBS tomato paste

2 TBS Worcester Sauce

4 cups chicken stock (or shrimp stock made from the shells)

4 chopped scallions

4 TBS chopped parsley

4 cups parboiled rice

Recipe

I make this in a big cast iron Dutch oven. I start it on the range top and finish it in the oven.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 f. Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over high heat and saute the ham and sausage for about five minutes, stirring frequently. 

Add the chopped onion, green pepper, and celery and cook for another five minutes or so, stirring. Add the Worcester sauce, the tomatoes and tomato paste and keep stirring until it bubbles. Add the chicken and stir.

Add the dry seasonings (salt, red pepper, black pepper, white pepper, and bay leaves) Stir for a minute and add the stock. Bring to a boil stirring frequently. Add the scallions and parsley and stir in the shrimp. Stir in the rice. Bring it all to a boil, cover and put it in the oven for 35 minutes. Let it stand covered for 10 minutes and serve.

I like a sturdy red wine with it, but a crisp white will work or beer.

(Photo: R.L. Floyd, 2021)