I was looking through older menus for inspiration and found the reference to Milk Pork from a past holiday party. My notes from the party indicated it was good though I didn’t really remember it so I thought I’d give it a try. It was worth a second go.
Roasted Acorn Squash with cumin
Petite Peas with Mushrooms
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip cookies
Notes under the cut
Our favorite winter farmer’s market has returned and with it a bounty of root vegetables. One of our favorites is rainbow carrots. They come in purple, yellow, white and the usual orange. They are a wee bit of color in the otherwise drabness of winter.
This recipe is inspired by one we saw Jamie Oliver make on Food Network (or maybe it was Cooking Channel).
Shaved Carrot Salad with Spiced Pork
Vinaigrette is one of the easiest recipes to master and are infinitely flexible. The homemade stuff is almost guaranteed to be better than any bottled dressing from the supermarket. You can adjust the taste on the fly until you hit upon the right combination for your taste buds.
Our typical vinaigrette uses lemon juice as the acid and extra virgin olive oil. Red wine or cider vinegar works great in place, or along with, lemon juice. Walnut oil is nice, particularly on a salad involving apples or beets. Finely chopped fresh herbs make a nice addition as well.
I came upon the shaken method years back when all the whisks were dirty and I was too lazy to wash one. 🙂
Our Standard Vinaigrette
Servings: about 1/2 cup of dressing
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 7 minutes
- 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, peedled and minced (or pressed)
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- pinch of kosher salt
- equal amount of freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. acid (vinegar or citrus juice)
- 6 Tbsp. oil (olive, vegetable, nut, what have you)
- a jelly jar with a screw-type lid
- Combine everything except oil in jar, cover and shake until well combined.
- Add the oil to the jar, recover and shake vigorously until you have a well mixed dressing.
- Taste, adjust salt & pepper and serve.
Our local winter farmer’s market is open and we found some great salad greens plus red and yellow beets. Honestly, it was the centerpiece of the meal. The rest was just to fill our stomachs. 🙂
Green salad with orange vinaigrette and roasted beets
Rigatoni with Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce
Cranberry-Pecan Quick Bread
Notes under the cut
The addition of one ingredient doesn’t make a dish Ethnic with a capital letter. I came across this recipe in a copy of Food Network Magazine with the title “Spanish Chicken and Potato Roast”. That seemed like an overstatement so I’ve rebranded it and rewritten the recipe a bit to follow how I prepared it.
Potato, Chicken and Paprika Bake
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
- 5-6 fist sized yellow-fleshed potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs.), cut into 1″ pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil (or other fat)
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 5 or 6 pieces
- 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 4 Tbsp. chopped chives
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into thin half-moons
- 1 red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
- Set oven to 450°F. Place a heavy casserole dish on the middle rack and allow the oven to preheat.
- Combine potatoes, garlic, olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave at full-power for 8 minutes.
- When oven is preheated transfer the partially cooked potatoes to the baking dish. Spread into an even layer and bake for 10 minutes. Be warned, you may get a bit of oil splatter or smoke when you add the potatoes to the dish.
- While the potatoes bake combine the paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper with the lemon juice and chives in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat.
- When potato baking time has elapsed use a spatula to toss the potatoes to allow another side to brown. Scatter the onions and peppers over the potatoes. Top with the chicken and any remaining paprika-lemon-chive-spice mixture. Return to the oven.
- Bake for another 20-25 minutes, rotating the dish half way through the cooking time. Temp the chicken; it should reach 160-165°F before removing. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.
When I followed Food Networks recipe, which used the juice of a whole lemon, all other flavors were lost to the lemon. So I cut it back and adjusted a few other amounts to suit my tastes.
Any oil that can stand a high heat should work fine. We used some goose fat that we were given in place of the olive oil.
While coming up with a menu for our holiday party I received an email recommending a book from The Splendid Table. The email included an excerpt page for Endive Spears with Fig-Onion Jam, which sounded like a fine addition. Alas, the excerpt didn’t include the recipe for fig-onion jam. After a bit of web-searching I had enough suggestions of recipes to put something together.
Onion & Fig Jam
Servings: about 3 cups
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 80 minutes
- 1 large white onion, weighing ~13 oz., cut into 1/2 inch diced (about 3 cups)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups red wine
- 10 ounces mission figs, dried, halved
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Heat olive oil in a medium sauce plan over high heat. Add onions, salt and pepper. Stir to coat the onions with oil and even out the onion layer across the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to low, or even lower if your stove does that, until the sizzle dies out. Leave the onions alone for 5 minutes. Stir, even out the onion layer across the bottom of the pan and leave alone for another 5 minutes. Repeat the stir, even, ignore process for a total of 30 minutes. In the end you should have lightly browned, very soft, kind of sweet onions.
- Add the red wine and scrap the bottom of the pan. If you cooked the onions low and slow there probably isn’t anything on the bottom of the pan but it’s worth a try. Add the dates. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove cover and cook onions & dates for another 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes mash the dates with a potato masher (or the back of the spoon if you a the patient sort).
- Add the sugar and stir until incorporated. Make a judgement call – is there enough liquid to simmer another 20 minutes? If yes then cover and cook for 10 minutes. If not add a 1/2 cup of water, stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Give the mixture another bashing with the potato masher. If you like the consistency then give it a taste, adjust salt if needed and allow to cool. If you want a finer texture then transfer mixture to a food processor and give it a whirl until you happy.
- Once cool transfer to a storage container. It’ll keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.
You could replace the wine with a different liquid such as apple cider, broth or even water. Using a fruit juice will yield a sweeter end product.
In addition to The Splendid Table suggestion this recipe was heavily influenced by one from Everyday Gourmet.
These cookies are based on a childhood memory of Christmas gatherings at my aunt’s house. It was a potluck affair and another aunt always brought a cookie assortment. There would always be 4 or 5 meringue cookies, usually with chocolate chips inside, in the box. I probably ate 95% of the meringues present because I thought they were just so good.
Servings: 5 dozen cookies
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 75 minutes
- 135g egg whites (about 4 eggs)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of a mix of mini chocolate chips, mini cinnamon chips and raspberry jammy bits
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Line 4 baking sheet pans with Silpat or parchment.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer add the egg whites, salt, cream of tarter and vanilla. Beat on low for about 30 second to combine then incrase speed to medium or higher. Beat until the frothy egg whites turn into a thickening white meringue, about 2 minutes.
- With the mixer on medium-low gradually add the sugar. Increase the mixer speed and continue to whip until the meringue has gone from shiny to dull white.
- Carefully fold in the chips & bits with a spatula. Do not beat at the meringue or it will deflate.
- Using 2 teaspoons (the dining utensils, not the measuring spoons) scoop our a heaping spoonful of meringue and use the second spoon to transfer it to the baking sheet. You can fit 12-15 meringues per sheet.
- Bake two baking sheets at a time for a total of 30 minutes, swapping sheet locations and rotating the sheets 180 degrees half way through baking.
- Move the finished cookies to a cooling rack, leaving the cookies on the baking sheet to cool. Bake the second batch of cookies at this point.
- Meringues should cool completely in 30 minutes.
While I used a mix of add-ins you could use all mini chocolate chips or just about any small morsel of tastiness. I prefer the “mini” variety of chips. These are small cookies and full-sized chocolate chips overtakes the meringue.
You can check that you’ve reached the desired stage by stopping the mixer and removing the beater. Invert the beater; if the meringue is at the correct stage it should stand up without moving.
I used two recipes as references in creating this recipe: the first is from gimme some oven and the second was from FoodTV.