Pork and Apple Pot Stickers

OR

Pot Stickers are worth the effort because they are just so delicious! If you really don’t want to make your own dough you can buy store bought won ton wrappers and I will show you how to make both ways in this recipe. I gotta say, they are WAY better if you make them all from scratch! You can  freeze them and keep them for your next get together too. Your guests will be dazzled! I can just hear my friend Mary Ann saying “dough is just too much work I will make them from scratch when I retire!!” Come on, try them once and you will be hooked.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of flour – all purpose
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups boiling water

*this makes enough for approx 32 (3 1/2 inch circles)

* or if you don’t want to make the dough you can use store bought won ton wrappers

  • 1 pound or 1/2 kg. of minced pork (you could also use mild Italian sausage, casing removed)
  • 4 small leaves of Savoy cabbage
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 hot chili – I used medium hot
  • 1 scallion/spring onion
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 small handful of cilantro/coriander
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Tamari Soy sauce
  • 1/2 apple – cut into chunks, skin on
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp finely chopped red chili (the strength of heat you like!)
  • 1 tbsp honey

Step 1: start with some good quality minced pork. If you find it difficult to find any you can use some mild Italian sausages instead. I just slit the casing and remove them so you have just the minced meat.

Step 2: in a pot add an inch of water to the bottom and add 4 small leaves of savoy cabbage. My cabbage is a small one and you can use another variety of cabbage if you have it. Cover and cook on high heat for 5 minutes until the leaves are tender and soft.

Step 3: take the onion, garlic, small red chili (as hot as you like- mine is mild/medium hot) Spring onion also called scallion, fresh grated ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, soy sauce, apple, 5 Spice powder and salt into a food processor. Pulse until minced.

Step 4: add the soft cabbage leaves and process again until finely minced and combined.

Step 5: add pork and pulse 4-5 times until combined. Place in a bowl and keep covered in fridge until you are ready to fill your dumplings.

You can get square or round won ton wrappers in the fridge of any grocery store usually.

Step 6: Place a tsp – tbsp of filling in on a few wrappers (they dry out so you must cover the remaining and only do a few at a time. I dip my finger in water and run it along 2 sides of the wrapper then seal with the 2 sides that are dry. You are folding the square to make a triangle.

Place in a floured plate or cookie sheet. Do not let them touch each other to avoid sticking. You can separate them and freeze them at this stage. Once frozen you remove them to a Ziploc Bag for storage until you need them.

Step 7: in a non stick pan (very important!) add a small bit of Olive Oil or other vegetable oil you prefer but, I am using a mild Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Step 8: fry on one side until they get browned slightly, then carefully flip to cook the other side. Once both sides are browned. Add 1/4 cup to the pan (it will spit so be careful!) then immediately cover with a lid. Let them cook for 3-4 minutes will the water evaporates and they eventually start to fry again in the oil.

Make the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients listed under the Dipping sauce above and mixing. The store bought won tons are much more fragile and delicate. They will tear easily and you should avoid filling the wrappers too much so they don’t break.

Step 6: (again! for the homemade dough) Take flour and salt and mix in a bowl.

Step 7: add boiling water 1/4 of a cup at a time. I make a well in the center of the flour and add the water. I then take a fork and start to gather the flour around the crater into the water, mixing as I go.

Step 8: once you have a shaggy dough and it is cooled enough to handle. Knead the dough and gather all remaining flour until you have a smooth dough.

It takes about 5 minutes to knead it until smooth.

Step 9: you can roll the dough out entirely into a flat sheet and take a round cookie cutter or even a drinking glass to cut out 3 1/2 inch circles. I find it easier to just keep dividing the dough in half until I get 32 even balls, then I roll each one. This avoids scraps and re-rolling and cutting. I take the ball of dough and cut it into 2, then each into 2 and so on until you have even pieces.

I flatten each ball of dough with the palm of my hand and easily roll out a circle by rolling and turning, and rolling and turning. If you find this too hard then the cookie cutter method might be the better option. I always roll a few, stuff and roll a few more to avoid drying out.

Step 10: I like to measure out the filling -these are 1 tbsp each.

Step 11: hold the circle of dough in your hand with the filling in the center. Pinch the center to hold in place. Fold a pleat and pinch, going towards one end. I kind of pull towards me, fold, pinch and go to the next one. I make 3 folds on one side, then 3 folds on the next. I am sure you can Google how to make dumplings if you don’t understand my instructions in photos. This dough is very forgiving and easy to work with.

The circles don;t need to be perfect just relatively round. Remember flatten with your palm, roll and turn, roll and turn.

Since you are only pinching and gathering dough on one side it creates a nice dumpling with a flat bottom that can stand up. Place on a floured baking sheet to finish all of them. You can freeze them at this stage or cook them. Don’t let them touch or they will stick.

In a non stick pan add some mild Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other vegetable oil if you must. I let them fry on one flat side until browned.

Then flip to brown on the other side.  Then place on its bottom and immediately add about 1/2 cup of water or broth and cover. Let them steam for 5 minutes until you hear them start to fry in the oil again.

YUM!!

Serve the homemade dumplings while hot with the dipping sauce.

Both ways are good!

Tuscan Bean and Lentil Soup – Zuppa Toscano

This is a glorious hearty soup with a bit of Italian Sausage, some smoky bacon, beans, lentils, cauliflower and your favorite hearty vegetables. I have topped it with some fresh chopped herbs and some robust exceptional Franci Villa Magra Olive oil which is a robust and peppery extra virgin olive oil from the region. Feel free to add some grated Parmesan and don’t forget the crusty bread and the red wine!!

You will need:

  • 2 slices of smokey bacon
  • 2 fresh hot Italian sausages – casings removed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – like Amelia Oil from Umbria
  • 2 leeks- washed and cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot- washed stem end removed – chopped into large pieces
  • 1 stalk celery -washed cut into large pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic – peeled
  • 1 small onion – peel and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp dry Italian seasonings – mine has chili flakes in it if yours does not add 1/2 tsp
  • lots of salt and pepper – you will need to taste and re-adjust a few times while cooking
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 small can 14oz of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can 14 oz of cannelini beans
  • 1/2 cup french green lentils
  • 1/2 small savoy cabbage – sliced
  • 5 or 6 cauliflower florets – sliced thin
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chives and parsley – chopped fine
  • a drizzle of great extra virgin olive oil – like a robust and peppery Franci Villa Magra
  • Parmesano Reggiano cheese – freshly grated at serving
  • a glass of red wine and a heel of crusty bread

Step 1: in a food processor add peeled sausages (casings removed) and bacon – you can place them in the food processor uncooked or cooked. I had some left from the previous dinner.  Puree until finely minced.

Step 2: in a large pot with a drizzle of good oil (ok, I always use a glug!) cook the bacon and sausages until they are crunchy and browned a bit.

Step 3: add leeks, carrot, celery, garlic and onion into food processor pulse a few times until fine but there is still a bit of consistency to the vegetables left. Do not completely puree.

Step 4: add vegetable mix to hot pan and cook for 5 minutes to saute vegetables and cook off most of the water. Add Italian seasonings, hot chili flakes and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. You can and should taste after it has cooked for 30 minutes to re-adjust seasonings if necessary.

Step 5: add chicken stock (or a bottle of beer would work well here) and crushed tomatoes. Stir and add lentils. Cook on low heat (nice steady blip not a heavy boil here!) for 30 minutes.

Step 6: add sliced cabbage, cannelini beans, and cauliflower sliced. Cook another 20 minutes. Add a bit of water if you find it too thick. It should be a hearty bowl of soup though. Taste it and adjust as necessary for salt and pepper. You can also add Kale or chard to this kind of soup.

Step 7: finely chop fresh herbs and add to some extra virgin olive oil like Franci -Villa Magra this is a big robust and peppery olive oil and perfect added at the end as a drizzle.

Serve with a spoon of chopped herbs and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and a fresh grating of Parmesan. Get the bread and wine and enjoy!! It is hearty and warming with a hint of smokiness.

Crispy Pork Chops with Apricot Drizzle

These are pounded very thin and quickly pan fried in great extra virgin olive oil. I have served them with an apricot sauce but you can use your favourite or none at all.

 

You will need:

 

  • 4 pork loin chops – bone in, fat removed, pounded thin
  • 2 fresh apricots (or peaches)
  • 1 shallot – chopped fine (1/2 is cooked and 1/2 added raw)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 chili – sliced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp Za’atar spice mix
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • more olive oil for frying (halfway up chops)

 

Step 1: remove fat and pound thin. You can place between plastic wrap or wax paper. I actually like them even thinner than this so they cook super fast and stay crispy.

Step 2: chop a few apricots, shallot, garlic and fresh chili of your choice. I like the save a bit of the shallot to add raw at the end. Cook in olive oil a few minutes until soft.

Step 3: let cool and puree in a blender to make smooth. I add honey and shallots depending on how sour the apricots are. Set aside.

Step 4: add seasonings to your flour and dredge meat once.

Step 5: cook in good olive oil. I add enough oil to come halfway up the chops. Wait until they are browned well on one side before turning to sear the other. I wait until pan is very hot then I add oil and then sear meat to get it crispy. The cast iron pan helps.

Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Burgers

When it is too hot to heat up the kitchen turn on the grill!

These are moist and juicy burgers filled with the bold flavour of dried mushrooms, spinach and crumbled salty feta cheese. I also created a simple tomato relish for the topping along with some crunchy lettuce served on a soft brioche bun.

 

 

You will need:

 

  • 1 oz of dry porcini mushroom – re hydrated with 2 oz boiling water  & chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 slice of bread with crust removed
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • handful of fresh spinach chopped fine = 1/3 cup
  • 2 fresh basil leaves – chopped fine
  • 1 oz crumbled or chopped feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp dry Italian seasonings
  • lots of salt and pepper to be put on just as you grill.
  • 4 fresh brioche hamburger buns
  • fresh lettuce leaves

Tomato Relish

  • 1 tomato chopped into small dice
  • 2 spring/green onions – chopped finely
  • a few slices of hot chili – chopped fine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • squeeze of lemon

Start by gathering all your ingredients. I like to make sure my burgers are a room temperature before grilling.

Step 1: take a handful of dry mushrooms. I used porcini that I re hydrated with some boiling water in a small bowl. It takes about 5 minutes until they are softened. I then remove the mushrooms from the liquid (don’t throw this liquid away!) Chop mushrooms finely and add back to the liquid they were soaking in. Add some aged thick balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, a slice of bread (any kind but remove the crust) and let the bread soak up the liquid. I simply use my hands to squish bread and mix. Add the meats to a large bowl and then add your mushroom mix. If you can grind your own meat the burgers are always the best however, they are still good with store bought ground.

Step 2: take a handful of baby spinach and basil and chop finely (you don’t want the pieces too big )

Step 3: chop spring onions and crumble feta, dry Italian seasoning and gently toss throughout the meat. I like to keep the mix loose to make a nice tender burger if you compact it too much it can make a tough burger.

Step 4: divide meat into 4 big burgers and form patties. Apply a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper to the meat just as you put on a hot grill.

Step 5: chop some tomatoes, spring onion, a few slices of a hot chili pepper, salt, pepper, olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Mix and set aside with your favourite toppers.

Slice the perfect bun.

Grill to your liking and serve hot!

Juicy perfection!

 

 

Pad Thai

 

Pad Thai is a great meal which you can make vegetarian, with chicken, shrimp or pork. It is packed full yummy things like rice noodles, tofu and eggs served with lime wedges and toasted peanuts or cashews. You can make it in a traditional wok however, if you don’t have one just use a large pan and do it in a few stages. Once all the prep work is done the cooking is done quickly.

 

You will need:

 

  • 100 grams of pork, chicken or shrimp – sliced into thin strips/pieces (or make it vegetarian)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic- crushed or chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamarind concentrate or chutney
  • 1/2 tsp sambal olek
  • rice noodles
  • boiling water to cover noodles and soak
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 150 gram extra firm tofu – cut into strips (I used 1/2 a pkg of tofu)
  • 2 scallions/spring onions- sliced fine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • coconut oil or peanut oil for cooking
  • cilantro. lime wedges and sweet Thai chili sauce for serving

 

 

 

Step 1: chop and prepare all your ingredients in the order you like. Chop tofu, slice pork, chicken or shrimp if using. Chop scallions and peanuts.

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Pour boiling water over rice stick noodles and leave according to directions. Mine re-hydrated within a few minutes. Once soaked I like to drain and lightly dress the noodles with a bit of oil to keep them from sticking while you prep the rest of the dish.

 

Step 3: In a small dish add the meat – in my case I used pork tenderloin because it cooks quickly and is very tender. Add 1 tsp of sugar and 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, stir and set aside.

It is a small amount of meat however if you prefer more then you can double the amount but, remember to double the amount of your sauce as well. I typically go very light on the sauce however,  you can double it if you like it more saucy. I will show you in Step 5.

 

Step 4: in a small dish or measuring cup whisk your eggs.

 

Step 5: in another small dish prepare sauce. Add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tbsp tamarind concentrate or tamarind chutney and 1/2 tsp sambal olek (double or even triple this sauce if you prefer your Pad Thai to be more saucy)

 

 

 

Step 6: in a very hot non stick pan or wok add 2 tbsp coconut oil and meat, shrimp or chicken. Quickly saute and once cooked remove from pan. This should take 2-3 minutes.

 

 

Step 7: add a bit more coconut oil and saute the tofu for a few minutes until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

 

 

Step 8: add a bit more oil and eggs along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook almost like a crepe, flip over and once cooked remove from heat and roll up and slice into ribbons. Set aside.

 

 

Step 9: If you need a larger pan then heat to very hot and a bit of oil, your meat, tofu, egg ribbons, rice noodles, bean sprouts and sauce. Mix with tongs or two wooden spoons to quickly coat everything and reheat.

 

 

Serve with chopped cilantro/coriander, lime wedges, chopped peanuts and sweet Thai chili sauce.

Eat right away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pork Pot Stickers

 

You can certainly make these with store bought won ton wrappers but, why not try making the dough. It is really easy and tastes so much better. I have made the filling with very lean pork tenderloin that I have chopped up by hand. You can make a simple soy dipping sauce to serve them with.

 

Once made the pot stickers can be frozen or cooked by frying briefly and then steaming in a bit of water. They have a great crunchy, brown bottom and a soft juicy interior. You wont be able to stop eating them!

 

 

You will need:

 

  • 300 grams of pork tenderloin – chopped fine
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped fine/or crushed
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 spring onion/scallion – chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped bok choy or spinach

Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups flour – all purpose
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 220 ml of boiling water

 

Dipping sauce

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp chili oil
  • pinch of sugar

 

 

Step 1: slice the cleaned tenderloin (you only need a small one) and then chop into smaller pieces. You can use two knives to almost mince the tender meat by hand.

 

 

Step 2: add all your flavourings to the tenderloin in a small bowl. Add: baking soda, corn starch, salt, pepper, sugar, water, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, spring onion, soy sauce, Worcestershire, sesame oil and either finely sliced baby bok choy or baby spinach. Stir and set aside.

 

 

Step 3: in a large bowl add flour, salt and boiling water. Start by stirring ingredients in the bowl then turn out onto the counter. Knead the dough 5 minutes until soft and smooth. If you need a bit more flour you can add it. Wrap in plastic and let sit in fridge 30 minutes.

 

 

Step 5: divide ball in half and work one half at a time. Leave the other half wrapped in the plastic to avoid the dough from drying out. Take the half and roll into a log. Cut the dough into half and keep diving each piece in half until you have 16 balls. With a rolling pin and flour to prevent sticking try to create roundish pot stickers (they don’t have to be perfect but, aim for a round)

 

 

 

Step 6: take a teaspoon or so of filling (this one probably needs a bit more filling) place on the piece of dough held in your hand and flatten the meat with the spoon slightly.

 

 

Pinch the centre to hold it in place.

 

 

then going from centre to each edge, make small folds and pinch to close. The folds are made only on one side of the dough.

 

 

then seal the other side starting from the centre, again folding until you reach the edge. You should now have a cute little sealed dumpling. This dough is nice and soft and does not require water to seal it. You should get a dumpling that forms a fat half moon shape with a flat bottom so it will stand up.

Repeat 35 more times until you are done.

 

 

Place finished dumplings on a generously floured sheet pan and do not let them touch each other to avoid sticking. I like to freeze them on the pan for at least 15 minutes even if I am going to cook them right away. If you want to save them for another day. Once they are frozen remove them from the sheet pan and place into a Ziploc bag.

 

 

Step 7: heat a large pan (one that has a lid) with a bit of oil and place the pot stickers in the pan. Cook until the bottom gets browned. Once browned add about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of water to pan and cover. Cook until water evaporates and you can hear them sizzle again.

 

 

 

 

Serve with a simple dipping sauce and enjoy hot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear, Ham and Cheese Ravioli

 

 

Next time you have some leftover ham make a batch of ham and cheese ravioli. The pasta is really not difficult to make fresh and you can make a ton and freeze some for a later date. I have actually made these from a ham hock that I slowly cooked and mixed with grated pear, ricotta, mascarpone and Swiss cheeses. I cooked the ravioli and just tossed in some great extra virgin olive oil and some spring onions. Simple but dynamite!

 

You will need:

Pasta

 

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp water only if necessary

 

Filling

 

  • 2 cups chopped cooked ham
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped Swiss cheese
  • 3 heaped tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small pear – grated

 

  • 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil to saute
  • chopped spring onions/scallions
  • salt and pepper
  • optional: shaved Parmesano Reggiano

 

 

 

 

I used a ham hock which I cooked for ages however, you can simply use some chopped ham if you prefer or are pressed for time. I took the ham hock and cooked it slowly in a large pot of water. The water just covered the ham and I included a few bay leaves, 2 chopped carrots, a few cloves and a few peppercorns. I cooked the ham hock (knuckle) for 3 hours on low and then let it cool. I removed the skin and any fat.

 

At this stage in a food processor I pureed: 3 cloves garlic, 1 onion, 2 green onions, a handful of parsley, some fresh thyme, a fresh red chili, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp of each – salt and pepper, 1/4 cup fresh chopped pineapple and 1 tsp jerk seasoning. I covered the ham with my puree and roasted in a 375 degree F oven for 2 hours more.

 

 

Finally, I took the ham hock and all its juices and covered it about halfway up the hock with water and once again let it slowly cook on the stove covered and on low heat for another 2 hours until it was falling off the bone. This is a tough piece of meat but, if you cook it slowly it will get as tender and actually more delicious than some hams you can buy.

 

Hey!!! I get it, most people can’t be bothered because this just takes too long that is why I have also suggested you can use good quality ham and still get a great product. I am just sharing another way.

 

 

Step 1: make your pasta. I use a food processor for great results. Place all ingredients except water in processor and mix for 10-15 seconds. If it doesn’t start to form a ball it will need the additional water. Re-start the machine and let it run for approximately 30 seconds and it should form a ball and almost stop the machine. Take out dough and with a bit of additional flour knead a few times on the counter. You should have a lovely soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes before rolling out.

 

 

Step 2: Make your filling. Take your chopped ham (buy the best quality ham you can find for optimum flavour and texture – you can even use good quality sliced deli hams here), mascarpone cheese, Swiss cheese, ricotta cheese, chopped parsley, salt and pepper and grated pear. Mix and taste it to make sure it is not bland. If you need to adjust your seasoning do it.

 

 

Step 3: cut dough into 8 equal pieces. I cut in half and then keep cutting each in half until I get 8 even pieces. Make sure you have lots of flour to avoid pasta from sticking to machine and also counter. I run through my pasta roller attachment on my kitchenaid machine until I get to about #5. I don’t want the dough too thin so the filling comes out. I work with 1 sheet at a time and keep the other pieces of dough covered with plastic wrap while I am filling the one I have. I simply cut squares and add a tsp of filling to each square, then dip my finger in water and run water along 2 edges of square, then fold and seal by pinching together. You can cut them with a cutter if you prefer this is just fast for me.

 

Place finished ravioli on a floured baking sheet. Repeat until finished.

 

If you want to freeze them at this stage place separated ravioli in freezer and let get hard for 1 hour. Once frozen remove and place in Ziploc bag. When you want to cook them take them from frozen and right into boiling water to cook.

 

 

 

Step 4: in salted boiling water place a few ravioli and gently stir. Once they float to the top let them cook 2 minutes more.

 

 

Step 5: remove from water with a spider or slotted spoon and place into a hot pan with butter and olive oil

 

 

Step 6: gently cook on medium heat for another minute or two on each side. Add a sprinkle of spring onions and salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Serve with some chopped parsley and a shaving a Parmesano Reggiano.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan Orange Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin is inexpensive, tender and perfect for two. I think this quick tenderloin is juicy and packed full of Moroccan seasonings along with complimentary orange and honey. Any leftovers are wonderful in a sandwich served cold and sliced thin. Make two tenderloins just so you have nice slices for lunches. I have served mine with a coconut rice and green beans. Ras El Hanout is a blend of spices from North Africa the name translates to “head of the shop” and implies it is the shopkeepers best blend. It is typically a blend of cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chilies, coriander, cumin, peppercorn, fenugreek and turmeric. If you cannot find this blend in your store it is easy to go on line to find a recipe for a blend to make yourself.

You will  need:

  • 1 pork tenderloin – cleaned of any fat and silver skin
  • 3 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – your best quality like Mandranova Nocellara
  • 1 heaped tsp Ras El Hanout – which is a Moroccan blend of spices
  • 1 tbsp orange zest – finely zested
  • salt and pepper
  • Juice from one large orange
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • coconut rice (see Note*)
  • your favourite vegetables

Note* Cook 1 cup rice in 2 cups liquid. In a 2 cup measuring cup add 160ml of coconut milk and fill the rest up to 2 cups with water and a pinch of salt. Add liquid to rice in a pot with a lid.  Bring to a boil and reduce to low and cover. Cook on low for 20 minutes until cooked. You can turn off and leave covered on stove until pork is ready.

Step 1: remove any fat and silver skin from the tenderloin.

Step 2: crush garlic with a garlic press and rub over the entire tenderloin. Pour over great olive oil and add a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Leave to sit and make your coconut rice and chop your vegetables.

Step 3: sprinkle the Ras el Hanout over tenderloin and zest the orange over meat. Roast in a 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Juice orange and mix with honey reduce in a small pan for 5 minutes until thickened and concentrated.

Slice

Serve with a drizzle of honey orange glaze.

Beef and Ricotta Cannelloni

 

 

This is a simple baked pasta that can be made with dry pasta shells that do not require cooking. You simply stuff, add sauce, cheese and bake. Add a beautiful salad and dinner for a crowd is served.

 

You will need:

 

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic – peeled
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves-removed from stalks
  • 3 basil leaves (larger ones)
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil – like Mandranova Nocellara
  • salt and pepper to taste and add all along the cooking way!
  • 1/2 pound ground beef (or mix half beef and pork)
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning mix
  • 250gram/1 cup ricotta cheese
  • more fresh basil leaves 2-3
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves removed from stalks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • pkg no bake cannelloni shells
  • 796ml/28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella or Parmesan (or both) to top
  • salt and pepper to taste in each step.

 

 

 

 

Step 1: to a food processor add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, thyme leaves, basil leaves and parsley. Puree until mix is a fine mince.

 

 

Step 2: in a large hot pan add good olive oil and minced vegetables. Sprinkle salt and pepper. People usually do not add enough salt and pepper to their cooking in an effort to reduce sodium however, this is why you taste all along the way so you can adjust when it tastes bland.

 

 

Step 3: add ground meat, dry Italian seasonings or even some chili flakes and cook until cooked through. Make sure you cook out all the water and then the meat will start to brown in the olive oil. Do not stop until all water has evaporated and it sizzles for a few minutes and starts to brown. Taste it and adjust salt and pepper. Set aside in a large bowl to cool slightly.

 

 

Step 4: add basil leaves, parsley, thyme, olive oil and garlic cloves to a food processor. Pulse until chopped. Add tomatoes and puree for 15 seconds until pureed. Add more salt and pepper. That is your sauce, set aside.

 

 

 

Step 5: once meat has cooled slightly add ricotta cheese and you may want to add a bit more chopped basil and parsley. This will add a bit of fresh uncooked flavour to the meat and cheese mix. Taste it and add salt and pepper if bland.

 

Note: it is not necessary but, I removed 2-3 tbsp of the meat before I added the ricotta so I could sprinkle it on top of my finished dish.

 

 

Step 6: fill your no bake shells (I use my clean hands because it is the easiest) Place on a large pan with a layer of sauce as a base. I use a pan that will accommodate 2 rows of shells. Because you are using no bake shells you must be generous with the sauce as the shells will absorb much of the liquid. If it looks like there is too much sauce don’t worry. I used 3/4 of the sauce and saved a bit for serving to add a fresh uncooked sauce to the finished cannelloni.

 

 

Step 7: cover the tops of your cannelloni with tomato sauce to cover, sprinkle with cheese and the reserved beef if you like. I think it tells people there is meat in the dish. Bake in a 350 degree F oven until browned and bubbly approximately 30-40 minutes.

 

 

Top with a bit more parsley and some extra sauce for those that want some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varkens Stoofvlees – Belgian Pork Stew cooked in Beer

 

This recipe is for Theo. He said this is a traditional pork stew made in Belgium. He challenged me to find the best beer in his opinion a Flemish Grimbergen beer however, my selection of beers from Belgium was limited so I made it with Affligem. I bought 2 dark beers for the stew and two blonds for drinking with it! Plus I did all the prep work on the stove however then I cooked it in a slow cooker which worked out perfect.

 

You will need:

 

  • 1200 grams/1.2 kg or 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder or sirloin chops – cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4-6 tbsp good olive oil or a combination of olive oil and butter to sear meat
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 small onions – processed in a food processor or chopped fine
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small apples
  • 2 cups of sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp dry mushrooms- re hydrated in boiling water 2 tbsp and chopped
  • a bunch of thyme
  • 3 cloves – crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 dark Belgian beers
  • 3 sliced bread -with Dijon mustard spread on them

OPTIONAL

  • more sliced mushrooms to saute just before serving cooked in olive oil/salt and pepper.
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

 

Step 1: slice pork into strips and then into chunks.

 

 

Step 2: dust meat lightly in flour and cook in a hot pan (I have used a cast iron pan because it gets nice and hot and leaves lot of crusty bits on the bottom of the pan) Do not over crowd the pan. Cook in batches so you can get some carmelization on the meat. Set aside.

 

 

Step 3: puree onions and garlic until finely minced.

 

 

Step 4: add onions and garlic to pan scraping up all the bits and cooking for another 5 minutes.

 

 

Step 5: puree apples.

 

 

Step 6: slice mushrooms and soak dry mushrooms in some hot water for 5 minutes then chop fine.

 

 

Step 7: add meat, onions and garlic, mushrooms and mushroom liquid to a large slow cooker.

 

 

Step 8: add 2 of the 3 beers now, plus the thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir.

 

 

Step 9: spread Dijon mustard on 3 slices of bread.

 

 

 

Step 10: place mustard side down on top of stew and cook on high for 5 hours.

 

 

Step 11: after 5 hours stir and break up all bread to combine. Add last beer and taste. Adjust salt and pepper. Set for 1 hour on low.

 

 

 

I made some fried potatoes and served with a blond bitter beer which was perfect with the sweet, rich stew. The meat is fall apart delicious.  Pork, apples, mustard and beer all perfect friends.