Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Creamy Pork and Cabbage Soup with Tortellini

It’s been chilly and we’re expecting a windy, rainy storm in the next couple of days. I had to visit the grocery store to pick up something for dinner. The only thing I knew walking in was that I wanted pork. After Thanksgiving and smoking a turkey and a beef roast, I wanted something different. I was originally thinking of pork steaks or something along those lines. However, as I wandered through the store I came up with a totally different idea. I wanted a creamy, hearty soup. As such, this is what I came up with…

Recipe

4 lbs lean pork,cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 lb bacon, diced

4 TB butter

2 leeks, thinly sliced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 head of celery, diced

3/4 small head of cabbage, diced

20 oz tortellini (I used 3 cheese stuffed)

1 qt beef stock

1 qt half and half

1/3 cup white whine

dried thyme

poultry seasoning

salt and white pepper to taste

Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the bacon and render out the fat. Add the pork and brown. Remove the pork and bacon from the pot. Melt butter and add the leeks to the pot. Saute until tender and fragrant and the garlic and saute for one more minute.

Add the white wine to the pot and deglaze. Return the pork to the pot, add the stock, celery and seasonings. I didn’t really measure how much I put in but I’d guess at least a teaspoon of dried thyme and poultry seasoning. Taste it and adjust it as desired.

Bring the pot to a boil and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add the half and half and the cabbage. I added a 1 inch by 2 inch piece of parmesan cheese rind. This addition added a tremendous amount of flavor but I let it boil a bit too much so it wound up looking a bit curdled. The flavor is outstanding but it’s not pretty lol.

After the cabbage is tender, add the tortellini and cook for another ten minutes or so until the pasta is tender and cooked through.

This is a very filling and hearty soup. I’m not really sure I would call it soup because it wasn’t very soupy lol. I don’t make very good “soup” because it’s always too thick. However, it only took me about an hour start to finish to make and it was REALLY tasty. Jene even went back for seconds and I’ve been nibbling from the pot after eating my first bowl full.

One more note: I’m writing this after having a wee bit to drink so if something doesn’t make sense, please post a message letting me know lol. πŸ˜€

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Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder with Tomato sauce

Welcome to 2014! Now that it’s the start of a new year, it’s time to get back on the “eating less crap” bandwagon again. Jene and I have both been very guilty of eating a lot of junk food and sweets since Thanksgiving. Carbs carbs and more carbs! With this in mind I decided I’d better get back to cooking.

I had a rather large piece of pork shoulder in the freezer that I pulled out to thaw. It was too big to fit all of it into the slow cooker so I cut it in half and made soup with one half and put the other half in the slow cooker.

I did my usual seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic and onion. Then as I was laying in bed with Mew on my stomach, I got the idea to make up some sauce and put it in with the pork. Apparently Mew’s purring was very inspirational, the dirty look I got when I moved her was less so πŸ˜‰

Tomato Sauce (rough measurements)

2 14.5 ounce cans of tomato sauce

1/3 cup honey and/or molasses

1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup worchestershire sauce

1 TB dried ground mustard

1 TB mixture of cumin and coriander (2 parts coriander to 1 part cumin. this is something I had on hand that I had ground myself. if using preground spices, use 2 teaspoons instead)

salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to a pot and stir over medium low heat for a few minutes to let the honey and/or molasses melt and everything is well blended. Pour over the pork in the slow cooker.

Cook on low heat 6-8 hours or until the pork falls apart.

After removing the pork, pour the sauce into a sauce pan and simmer over low heat to reduce and thicken up.

Really easy and really tasty. πŸ˜€

 

 

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Pork Chili

It’s cold. Some parts of the country actually have snow this time of year (poor buggers). Here in the Bay area it’s mostly just kind of chilly. It’s still good weather for making a nice thick hearty chili.

Recipe

This makes about 6 quarts so use a big enough pot.

5-6 lbs boneless pork butt/shoulder cubed into 2″ pieces

1 head celery, chopped (yes, it’s a lot)

3 cans diced tomatoes

2 onions chopped

chili seasoning of choice

salt

I like to use my crock pot for this. I’ve got a nice big one, about 6 quarts I think. I spray the inside with non-stick cooking spray and just toss everything in. For the BEST flavor, brown the cubes of pork over medium high heat in a skillet on a the stove before putting them in the crock pot. I didn’t do that today because I wasn’t feeling good. Thus the chili was a little bland. Once you have all the pork in the crock pot (browned or not) add the canned tomatoes, salt and chili seasoning. I used about 4 TB of Penzeys Chili 9000 which is probably my favorite. I also kicked it up with a bit of extra cumin. I let the pork, tomatoes and seasoning cook on high for about three hours and then added the celery and onions. It cooked in the crock pot for another hour until we had to leave for the party. My crock pot was too full so I moved everything to a large stock pot. Then it simmered on the stove at Darren’s house for another hour or two. So probably, a cooking time of about six hours. I could have started it last night and kept it on low.

Garnish with sour cream, green onions and shredded cheese. Pretty tasty. πŸ™‚

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Ham and Egg Bake with Broccoli

Last week I got a nice big ham and slow roasted it in the oven. While I was sitting around trying to figure out what to cook for dinner I had an idea to use some of the ham up and create a tasty low carb meal. This is basically a crustless quiche and easy to make.

Recipe

2 cups diced ham

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

16 oz frozen broccoli (steamed to thaw and then pressed between paper towels to remove extra water)

6 oz sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup finely minced onion

7 eggs

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Mix together the mushrooms, onions and ham. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the broccoli evenly over the ham mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Mix the eggs, cream and parmesan cheese in a bowl and pour evenly over the broccoli and ham. It will NOT cover the mixture entirely.

Bake for about 45 minutes until the eggs puff up and set.

This turned out really good. I didn’t add any salt because the ham is salty enough but I did grind a little extra black pepper over it. Otherwise, I didn’t add any extra seasoning. πŸ™‚

hamandeggbake

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Slower Cooker Asian Pork Loin

This is actually something I threw together earlier this week and finally got around to nibbling on. Jene’s been taking it to work for lunch but I’ve been eating bagels with home made cream cheese lol. This recipe happened because I had a chunk of pork loin (3-4 lbs maybe) that I needed to do something with. I didn’t feel like stuffing it so I got out the slow cooker. I had picked up a copy of Cooking Light Best Ever Slow Cooker Recipes and one of the recipes gave me the idea of what I made.

Recipe

1 pork loin roast 3-4 lbs

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 TB rice wine vinegar

1 TB garlic paste

1 TB ginger paste

1 tsp sesame oil

pepper to taste

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with some non-stick cooking spray. Put the pork loin in the pot, fat side up. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the pork loin. Cook 3-4 hours on low until the pork is cooked through. Unlike a pork shoulder, you do NOT want to cook this until it falls apart. Pork loin is a very lean cut of meat and should only be cooked to an internal temp of 145F. If you over cook it, it gets really dry.

For the ginger and garlic pastes… if your store doesn’t carry those lovely tubes of pre-made paste, just use finely minced fresh ginger and garlic in place.

One last note… as usual, I didn’t actually measure my ingredients so I’m guessing. You want enough liquid to come about 1/2 – 3/4 inch up the side of the pork loin. So if the measurements I gave don’t make enough, just make more. πŸ˜‰

What I did today was make some rice, pour some sauce over the rice and put some slivers of pork on top. Really really tasty. This recipe is one I will put into rotation and make on a regular basis.

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Bacon-wrapped Asparagus, poached eggs and dill hollandaise sauce

What do you do when you have absolutely no idea what to make for dinner and all your large proteins are in the freezer? You improvise!

Sunday I happened to find some really nice finger size asparagus for only an arm, instead of an arm and a leg. I bought three pounds and have been thinking about what to do with it. Tonight, I figured out a use for some of it. I had some bacon so I wrapped the bacon around bunches of five asparagus spears and broiled it in the oven until the bacon was crispy and the asparagus was tender, about ten minutes, flipping it once halfway through.

I was originally thinking about a cream sauce but Jene wasn’t thrilled about that idea but he got onboard for some hollandaise sauce. I used my favorite recipe from Epicurious.com. This sauce is crazy easy to make because the blender does all the hard work. I never make hollandaise with a whisk anymore lol.

Finally, I poached up a couple of eggs for each of us. Topped everything with sauce and viola! Dinner πŸ˜€

Dill Hollandaise

Epicurious Β |Β 2005

by Katie Brown

3 egg yolks
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 sticks unsalted butter
dill, snipped

1. In a blender, combine egg yolks, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and heat until bubbling hot.

3. Cover the blender and blend the egg yolk mixture on high speed for several seconds.

4. Either remove center cap of blender lid or carefully remove the lid itself with blender still running.

5. Pour hot butter in a thin stream into whirring egg mixture.

6. Add dill and pulse to combine.

7. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
If sauce gets too thick, add one tablespoon of hot water at a time to make it thinner.
So here’s a picture of it. I sort of started eating it before I remembered to take a picture lol. But it was really good and I was really hungry

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Portabella Mushrooms stuffed with Homemade Sausage

The asian market down the street had portabella mushrooms on sale when I was there yesterday. Being a big lover of mushrooms, I bought lots! I also picked up a nice fatty piece of pork shoulder and decided to try my hand at making sausage. Since I don’t have casings yet, this was a great excuse to make a fresh, uncased sausage to stuff my mushrooms with. And because my hubby is completely awesome, I had the grinder attachment to my KitchenAid mixer. He bought it for me three years ago and this is the FIRST time I’ve used it lol.

The grinder is basically a plastic tube with a screw inside that pushes the meat through a cutting blade and die. The die comes in two sizes, large grind and small grind. After fitting the attachment to the front of my mixer I started feeding the cold (first lesson, it should be almost frozen cold) into the chute of the grinder, using the large die. Then I switched to the small die and fed the meat back through again, this time adding a few cloves of garlic. Once everything was ground the second time, I put the meat in the mixer bowl and using the paddle, I beat in salt, red wine and seasonings. Then I took a small bit and fried it up in a pan. With pork, you need to cook your sample instead of eating it raw. Jene and I decided it tasted pretty good πŸ™‚

The next step was to add my veggies for the stuffing. I added minced celery, onions and mushrooms, stirred it all together and heaped it up on top of the mushrooms. I decided that the mushrooms needed an acid flavor so I drizzled some balasmic vinegar in the caps before adding the sausage stuffing. Finally, I topped it off with a bit of grated parmesan cheese. Then the mushrooms went in the oven at 350F for about 45 minutes.

The texture of the sausage come out really nice. It’s more tender and not as mealy as store bought sausage. I will definitely be making more sausage! Jene and I both feel the flavor is missing something but can’t quite nail down what. I was in too much of a hurry to keep adding things and frying a taste to fix it tonight. It’s not bad, just missing something… I’ll figure it out on the next batch. πŸ™‚

 

In addition to the sausage, I also processed yet another batch of tomatoes. Theoretically this is the last batch for the season and it was a small batch, just the tomatoes from the garden yesterday. I’ll get a quart or two and that’s perfect. πŸ™‚

I picked up some proper pickling cucumbers which I was going to can tonight but the sausage making took a bit longer than I thought it would. So pickling will take place tomorrow. I decided to use some regular, green cucumbers because the crystal apple cucumber skins are just too tough for my liking. Plus I got too much ginger in the spice mix and it’s a little strong. Not bad, but not the flavor I’m looking for.

So that’s today’s cooking adventures. πŸ˜€

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Filipino Pork Adobo (Adobong Baboy)

One of the things I have come to love since I moved to the Bay area is Filipino food. I have always wanted to travel internationally but at the same time, I really hate to travel lol. So instead, I settle for eating internationally. Jene’s best friends are Filipino and I’ve been adopted into the clan. I think I forever won the hearts of the Aunties when I announced my love of Chocolate Beef. It’s a beef dish made with beef blood, giving the sauce a deep, chocolate brown color. Apparently most Caucasians find the idea of using blood somewhat off-putting. Now, since I don’t have any beef blood on hand, I’m making Pork Adobo today.

Adobo is a word that people are more familiar with in Mexican cooking. Chipotle chiles are packed in adobo sauce and Mexican Adobo is heaving on the cumin, garlic and onion. Filipino food has a lot of influence from when the Spaniards were sailing around and spreading Catholicism. However, Filipino Adobo has nothing to do with Mexican adobo lol.

Filipino adobo is marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper. It is then cooked right in the marinade until the meat is falling apart. I love the succulence of the pork shoulder with the tang of the vinegar. If you think about it, this is very similar to the vinha d’alhos that the Portuguese make half way around the world from the Philippines.

This recipe comes from Filipino Cuisine: Recipes from the Islands by Gerry G. Gelle (1997) pg 4.

Recipe

1/3 cup cider vinegar

2 T soy sauce

1 tsp salt

3 bay leaves

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 T sugar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt – cut into 2″ pieces

1 T vegetable oil

Combine all the ingredients except the meat and oil in a non-aluminum saucepan. Aluminum reacts badly with vinegar in case you were wondering. Add the meat and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Simmer covered for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat and reserve the sauce.

Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the meat on all sides. Dream off the excess oil. Add the reserved sauce to the meat and heat for a few minutes, stirring and scraping the sides of the pot.

Serve with rice.

Now that you have the basics of the recipe you can play around with it. Once the meat has been cooked you can saute some onions and garlic and add that to the meat. You can add tomatoes and bell peppers, potatoes and plantains… it’s all about what you want to achieve. Today I’m doing just the very basic adobo although I might add some onion at the end πŸ˜€

The other thing I did was make a MUCH bigger batch than the recipe calls for. I’ve got about 9-10 lbs of pork in the pot.

Β  Here you can see the big chunks of pork in the pot soaking up the yummy flavors. The meat starts to take on a caramel color as the soy sauce and vinegar interact with the meat. Because of the high vinegar content it’s fine to leave sitting on the counter marinading for an hour or so. If you want it to sit longer than that you should refrigerate it.

I also decided to caramelize some onions to stir in after the pork is done. Slow cooked with lots of butter, the sugars in the onions are released to bring to life a sweetness not found in a raw onion. I skipped the step of browning the cooked pork. It’s really a matter of personal preference. πŸ™‚

And to the right is the finished product. If you see the ring around the edge of the pot you can see that I let the sauce reduce a bit then thickened it with a butter/flour roux. I had some extra butter floating around in the pan with the onions and used that in the roux to impart some extra flavor. After thickening the sauce I returned the pork to the pot and added the onions. Ideally this would be served over rice but since we’re low-carbish we don’t have the rice.

Give it a try and enjoy the international flavor!

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Yet more Pork!

I will state right at the beginning, I do not have a picture for today’s post. I was tired and flat out forgot to take a picture.

So, this is a recipe that I found on Epicurious.com. It is a super yummy way to cook pork.

Pork Roast Braised with Milk and Fresh Herbs (Maiale al Latte )

Gourmet | April 2008

by Ursula Ferrigno

Simmering a pork roast with milk and a generous handful of herbs results in very tender meat with rich, silky juices. Many Italians will leave the milk curds that form alongside the meat where they are, but Ferrigno strains them out for a more refined sauce.Yield: Makes 6 servings
Active Time: 25 min
Total Time: 3 1/4 hr

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (4 1/2- to 5-pound) boneless pork shoulder roast (without skin), tied
3 juniper berries (see cooks’ note, below), crushed
2 large rosemary sprigs
2 large sage sprigs
1 sprig fresh or 4 dried California bay leaves
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350Β°F with rack in middle.

Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot over medium heat until it shimmers, then lightly brown roast on all sides with juniper berries and herbs, 8 to 10 minutes total. Add garlic and sprinkle roast with sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then cook until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Pour wine over roast and briskly simmer until reduced by half. Pour milk over roast and bring to a bare simmer.

Cover pot and braise in oven, turning roast occasionally, until tender (milk will form curds), 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer roast to a carving board and loosely cover. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (discard solids), reserving pot, and skim off fat. Return juices to pot and boil until flavorful and reduced to about 2 cups. Season with sea salt and pepper. Slice roast and serve moistened with juices.
Cooks’ notes:
β€’Juniper berries can be found in the spice aisle at supermarkets.
β€’Pork can be braised 1 day ahead and chilled in liquid, uncovered, until cool, then covered. Bring to room temperature, then reheat and proceed with recipe.

Now, here’s what I did differently… I didn’t have a pork shoulder, I had two good sized pieces of pork loin instead. I also used part milk and part heavy cream. (More fat means more flavor.) Instead of the juniper, rosemary, sage, and bay leaves I tossed in some whole cloves, allspice and some chunks of cinnamon for a warmer flavor. Using pork loin instead of pork shoulder means watching to make sure you don’t over cook the meat and dry it out. I was super tired last night (not sleeping well this week) and wasn’t watching it very closely. It got dried out. Fortunately, Jene is not super picky and loves it anyway. (He also tells me I’m TOO picky lol)Β  I have made this in the past with pork shoulder and it was out-standing. πŸ™‚

Enjoy!

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Pork Loin

Behold the Pile O’Pork!

 

We made a trip to Costco this past weekend. Needless to say, there’s no such thing as “small” quantities when you shop there. Jene had been wanting some thick-cut smoked pork loin chops. We bought an entire pork loin lol. So this picture is a stack of 1″ thick chops and 2″ thick chops that have been stuffed with mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, fresh basil, garlic and sun dried tomatoes. Not picture is about 7 thin sliced chops as well. All of that porky goodness is currently in the smoker getting all tasty.

Something that I should talk about is the difference between a wet smoke and a dry smoke. A wet smoke has a water/liquid source in the smoker to create steam and help keep the meat extra moist. A dry smoke is just what it says, it’s dry, no steam or moisture added. My smoker does a wet smoke. I have a large bowl that I fill with liquid, usually beer or wine. However, I can also use water. Tonight we’re out of beer and wine that I’m willing to use in the smoker (instead of drinking it lol). So to add a bit of extra pop, we added some onions, garlic, lemon and lime to the water bowl. There’s no need to clean or peel anything, just chop it all up and toss it in the bowl. These ingredients simmer in the water lending their subtle flavors to the steam rising through the smoker.

I wish I could share the joy of using the smoker with you. I’m sitting on my couch with the AC running yet I get hints of wood smoke coming in anyway. I can look out the patio door and see the smoke billowing out of the smoker. It’s not a quick cooking process (probably 1 1/2-2 hours for these chops) but it is a satisfying process. There’s something almost primal about this method of cooking that speaks to the soul.

And here’s a picture of the finished, smoked, stuffed chops.

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