Braised Pork Shoulder (Ragu) with Fennel and Mushrooms

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 6 servings

2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1½ inch cubes

1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced medium

3 celery stalks, diced medium

4 large carrots, peeled and diced medium

1 medium fennel bulb, end trimmed and diced medium

1 pound baby bella mushrooms, quartered

2 tablespoons tomato paste (preferably double concentrate)

10 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly

1/8 teaspoon crushed red (chili) flakes

1 tablespoon toasted whole fennel seed

1 cup red wine (red zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon)

2 cups chicken stock

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 cup water

2 dried bay leaves

7 sprigs fresh thyme

3 (4-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary

3 (4-inch) sprigs fresh oregano

4 teaspoons soy sauce

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Ragu Base: pasta, polenta, gnocchi (your choice!)

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre grated

Season the pork (cubes) all over with the salt and pepper.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle-lower position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Open a few windows and/or turn on the oven hood/fan; it might get a little smoky!

Heat a heavy 5.5 quart Dutch oven over medium-high until hot, then add 1 tablespoon oil. It will most likely start to smoke. Evenly distribute the pork and brown on all sides, about 1 minute per side. (Work in batches if need be to not overcrowd the pan) Transfer the pork to a medium bowl. (You should have about 2 tablespoons of oil left in the Dutch oven. If not, add some extra-virgin oil to make up the difference.)

Add the onion, celery, carrots, fennel and mushrooms. Stir, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, chili flakes and toasted fennel seed. Stir. Cook uncovered for approximately 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid has thickened.

Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, loosening up any brown bits stuck to the sides and bottom of the pan. Cook for 5 minutes more; it will begin to thicken and you will see large bubbles.

Stir in the stock, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, oregano, soy sauce, Worcestershire, sugar and pork with any of its juices left in the bowl.

Bring the Dutch oven to a simmer throughout (not just the sides), cover partially (opening the lid about an 1-inch) and transfer to the oven. Cook for 90 minutes, stirring once after 45 minutes, until the pork is tender and can be easily shredded with a fork.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes, covered (lid on fully). Remove the pork and transfer to a large bowl. Shred the pork with two forks. Discard the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, rosemary and oregano. Return the pork to the Dutch oven. Stir and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle pork ragu over pasta, polenta or gnocchi. Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts Salad

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield:  4 servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and any discolored outer leaves discarded

1 large shallot, peeled and halved lengthwise

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 small apple diced small

1/3 cup toasted and salted pecans, roughly chopped

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Feed Brussels sprouts and shallot through the food processor chute with the slicer attachment.

Add the sliced Brussels sprouts, shallot, cayenne pepper, coriander, salt and pepper to a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Add olive oil and stir to combine.

Spread Brussels mixture evenly on an aluminum foil-lined sheet tray.

Place an oven rack in the upper position. (Approximately 5-inches below the heat source.) Place sheet tray under broiler for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir and broil for an additional 3 minutes. (Keep your eye on things!) Remove from oven and set aside.

In the same bowl you used to mix the brussels sprouts, add the mustard, maple syrup, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Whisk to combine.

Transfer the brussels sprouts mixture from the sheet tray to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Stir to combine.

Add the apple, pecans, pomegranate, parsley and Parmigiano and stir to combine.

Serve while still warm.

Steamed Mussels in a Coconut Lemongrass Broth

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 2 servings

2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil

1 large shallot, peeled and diced small

12 (2-inch) pieces lemongrass, bruised with the back of a knife

3 (3-inch) pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

10 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced

¼ red pepper (chili) flakes

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large makrut (Thai) lime leaves, each leaf torn into quarters

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup water

½ pint (5 ounces) grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (not lite, no guar gum)

1 small bunch cilantro, stems finely chopped, leaves reserved/set aside

2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Sourdough bread, sliced and toasted

In a 5.5 quart dutch oven add the oil and set over medium heat. Heat until oil is shimmering, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shallot, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, black pepper and lime leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is translucent, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, water and cherry tomatoes. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to pull up any brown bits aka deglaze.

Add the coconut milk and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is slightly thickened and reduced by half, approximately 20 minutes.

Add the cilantro stems (do not add the leaves) and stir.

Stir in the mussels. Cover and let cook for 4 minutes, shaking the pan every minute for even cooking, until the mussels are cooked through and have opened.

Turn off heat. Transfer mussels, with a slotted spoon, to a large bowl.

Add the lime juice to the coconut milk broth and stir. Taste and season with additional lime juice and/or salt and pepper as needed.

To serve, distribute the mussels among large shallow bowls. Spoon over broth and a sprinkle of the cilantro leaves. Serve with copious amounts of toasted sourdough bread to sop up the liquid gold coconut lemongrass broth.

Note: this makes a nice appetizer or light lunch, but if serving for dinner, you may want to add a serving of rice and double up on the recipe!

Herb Encrusted Chicken Paillard with Spicy Lemon Quinoa Salad

paillardquinoa

 

Watch me make this on my YouTube channel!

Yield: 4 servings

 

Chicken:

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approximately 2 pounds)

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, oregano or thyme (or a combination of all three)

2 teaspoons lemon zest (zest of 2 lemons), grated on a Microplane

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

 

Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil. Adjust an oven rack to the upper position.

Pat the chicken breasts dry. Using a mallet, rolling pin, or the back of a saucepan, pound each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap until ⅓ inch thick.

Remove the chicken from the plastic wrap, then drizzle lightly with the olive oil, just enough to coat both sides, rubbing to coat evenly. Season equally with herbs, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper.

Set your oven to broil. Place chicken on sheet tray and broil for approximately 8 minutes, flipping the breasts halfway through, until the internal temperature is 150 degrees Fahrenheit. (Keep your eyes on that chicken under the broiler – things can happen fast!)

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing / serving over the quinoa salad.

 

Spicy Lemon Quinoa Salad:

Citronette:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced finely (3 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the citronette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

 

Salad:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

½ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

3/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

1 (15-ounce) can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

1/4 cup roughly chopped kalamata or green olives, pits removed

 

Cook quinoa according to package instructions.

Transfer the quinoa to a medium sized bowl. Add the chile flakes, parsley, pine nuts, garbanzo beans and olives. Drizzle the citronette over the salad. Fold to mix everything together. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Sesame Crusted Salmon Rice Bowl

Salmonbowl

Watch me make this recipe on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 4 servings

 

Sauce

2 tablespoons mirin

4 teaspoons unsweetened rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

 

Mix together in a small bowl. Set aside.

 

Bowl Ingredients

2 cups cooked rice (your choice e.g. sushi, brown, forbidden)

4-ounces small carrots, (approximately 2 small carrots) peeled into ribbons with a vegetable peeler

3-ounces cucumbers (Persian or English), (approximately 1 cucumber) thinly sliced

12 seaweed squares (your favorite brand or seaweed snack)

2 teaspoons Nori Komi furikake (use toasted sesame seeds if you don’t have it)

4 teaspoons pickled ginger

1 avocado, cut in half lengthwise, pitted and cut into slices

1-ounce scallion, (1 scallion), dark green part and root end cut off, sliced thinly on a bias

 

Salmon

1 pound wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, preferably Copper River Salmon, skin on, pin bones removed, cut into 4 equal sized pieces, 1-inch thick

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

 

Pat the fish dry (all sides) with a paper towel.

Lightly oil salmon with ½ teaspoon olive oil. Use fingers to ensure oil is evenly coating the flesh. Season flesh side of salmon pieces evenly with salt and pepper.

Place sesame seeds on a plate.

Gently press flesh side of salmon into plate of sesame seeds to coat the flesh.

Add remaining 1½ teaspoons oil to a medium nonstick sauté pan and place over medium heat. Let pan heat until hot, approximately 2 minutes. Swirl to coat bottom of pan with the oil. Place fish (cook all 4 pieces at a time if pan is large enough), sesame seed side down into pan and let cook until golden brown, approximately 2 minutes. Flip fish and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes until skin is crispy and salmon changes in color from bright pink and translucent to opaque and coral.

Remove from pan and transfer to a plate. Remove skin before serving if you wish.

 

Bowl Assembly

To assemble the bowl, divide the rice among 4 bowls. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of furikake over each portion of rice. Arrange carrots, cucumbers, avocado, scallions and pickled ginger on top of the rice. Drizzle sauce over each portion, to taste. Place 3 seaweed sheets upright against the side of the bowl and lay a piece of salmon atop each bowl, sesame seed side up.

Serve immediately.

Coriander Spiced Calabacitas Tacos with Chipotle Crema

Coriander Spiced Calabacitas Tacos

Coriander Spiced Calabacitas Tacos with Chipotle Crema

Yields: 12 servings

 

Chipotle Crema:

1 cup organic sour cream

2½ tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Tacos:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, peeled and diced small

1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced small

1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeds and veins discarded, diced small, or to taste

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

5 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and diced small

2 medium zucchini or summer squash or mix of both (1 pound), diced small

½ bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 lime)

 

Toppings:

12 tortillas, warmed on a griddle, nonstick pan or directly over a flame

Salsa of choice

Cotija Cheese, crumbled

Fresh cilantro leaves

 

Mix Chipotle Crema ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more salt or making more spicy with additional adobo sauce. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, poblano and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are beginning to soften.

Add the cumin, coriander and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Stir, and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the tomatillos, zucchini and cilantro. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in fresh lime juice. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper and/or lime juice.

Assemble tacos by putting a dollop of chipotle crema on a taco, then adding the calabacitas followed by salsa, cheese and cilantro. Repeat – repeat – repeat!

 

Spicy Smashed Cucumber Salad

Spicy Smashed Cuc salad

For those of you who like spice – this recipe is for you! The play of the heat from the red pepper flakes and numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorns (commonly used in Sichuan cuisine) makes this dish have an addictive quality. That, plus it’s easy to whip up AND when you have a glut of summer cucumbers on hand, it’s nice to try something new!

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Smashed Cucumbers:
1 pound small cucumbers, Persian or Japanese, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
1 tablespoon natural (unseasoned) rice wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons roughly chopped dry roasted peanuts
1 scallion, ends trimmed, sliced thinly (white and light green part), optional

Place cucumbers flesh side down on a cutting board. Gently smash with the side of a large knife. Tear into bite sized pieces.

Place vinegar, sugar, oil and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Add cucumbers, peanuts and scallion (if using) and stir to combine.
Spiced Oil:
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (chili flakes)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium low. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic turns light brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour spicy oil over cucumbers. Fold to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and serve.

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Asparagus Fritatta

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Yield: 6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon*, peel only (rinse lemon before chopping)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound asparagus, bottom of stems trimmed, stalks cut on the bias into 1/2 -inch slices, tips kept whole
7 large eggs, whisked with a fork
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 packed tablespoon chiffonade (sliced very thinly) fresh mint leaves

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2. Set a large, oven-safe, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter, preserved lemon, chopped onion, salt and some pepper.

3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become soft and transparent, about 8 minutes.

4. Add the asparagus stems, stir and let cook for 2 minutes.  Add tips, stir and cook for 1 more minute.

5. Add eggs and sprinkle over feta and the mint evenly. (Shake the pan to distribute the ingredients if needed.) Cook for 30 seconds, then transfer the sauté pan into the oven.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 11 to 13 minutes or until the eggs are just set.

7. Remove the frittata from the oven, slide out onto a cutting board, slice into 6 pieces, and serve.

*You can find preserved lemon at some local grocery stores and at Whole Foods and/or Amazon.

Baby Yellow Potatoes with a Lemony Herb Citronette

German Butterball Potatoes

Yields: 2 servings

 

1 pound small yellow potatoes (preferably German Butterball or Baby Yukon Gold), cut into eighths

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 small shallot, peeled and diced finely

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh chives

¼ cup crumbled fresh sheep’s milk feta

 

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover potatoes with cold water, just enough to cover by ½-inch. Add the salt and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through (easily pierced with a fork), but not falling apart approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add shallot, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Drain potatoes and add to the mixing bowl along with the oregano and chives. Mix to combine.

Serve potatoes topped with crumbled feta.

Tray Baked Chicken Thighs with Roasted Grapes and Arugula

Chicken and Roasted Grapes

 

Yields: 4 servings

 

Zest of 1 lemon (grated on a Microplane)

10 (3-inch) sprigs fresh thyme

1¾ boneless skinless chicken thighs (approximately 6 chicken thighs)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound seedless red grapes

4 packed cups arugula (5 ounces)

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

 

Adjust an oven rack 5 inches from the broiler and set the oven to broil.

Add the lemon zest, thyme, chicken thighs, olive oil, salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Place chicken thighs on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray.

Add grapes to the same large mixing bowl and mix so that you coat the grapes with the excess olive oil and seasoning left in the bowl.

Distribute grapes on the sheet tray, but do not cover the chicken. (You may need to do some rearranging on the sheet tray so nothing is overlapping.)

Place sheet tray in oven and set a timer for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, flip the chicken. Continue cooking for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees with a digital thermometer.

Remove sheet tray from the oven and transfer chicken and grapes to a plate (don’t pour out the jus!).

Add arugula to a large mixing bowl. Pour ¼ cup of the warm chicken/grape jus from the sheet tray over the arugula. Add the balsamic vinegar and gently fold to combine. Season with salt.

Serve by dividing the arugula onto plates. Top each salad with chicken and some roasted grapes. Got any leftover jus? Drizzle it over each plate for extra flavor.