Spicy Ground Pork in Basil Leaves

Good news everyone! I have another winner from The Everything Thai Cookbook! 

I made this with my LA bestie one Sunday afternoon at her home in the deep north of the valleys of Los Angeles.

Conditions were fair that afternoon, so fair that I don’t have any notes of interest about our cooking process. I can only say we both liked this recipe and had fun making it together.

Let’s get straight to the punch then!

What you’ll need

  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1/2 pound of ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tablespoon ground dried chili pepper
  • 5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted rice powder
  • Lettuce and/or large basil leaves

The first step is to squeeze half of the juice of a lime on the pork. Let it marinate in the juices as you slice your shallot and chop your cilantro.

Now get a skillet out and heat it on high. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir in the pork. Cook it completely through then remove the excess fat.

We are now ready to combine everything but the lettuce and basil into a bowel. Do so and  feel free to adjust lime juice to taste.

Once everything has been throughly mixed you will be ready to serve and eat!

The consumption and serving protocol is a lot like chips and salsa only with meat and lettuce. Lettuce being your chips and the pork being the salsa. Both require scooping and placing in your mouth!

As I mentioned earlier, this turned out extremely well. My bestie and I were pleasantly surprised. Even my bestie’s husband liked it and he can be a little picky in comparison to the two of us.

Taste wise it reminds me a lot of Vietnamese noodle bowls only without the noodles. I think this is because both use ground pork, basil, and light fish sauce.

The ground pork gives both dishes a grainy and chewy texture that is complimented with a slight tang from the fish sauce.

All in all I am so pleased to have another win from this cookbook and look forward to the next recipe.

Hope all of you enjoy this as well!

 

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Olives Rolled around in Fried Breadcrumbs

I have changed the translation of this recipe from Sicilian Cookery to the above, because I feel it is mis-leading. The cookbook translated Olive Con Pangrattato Fritto to Fried Breaded Olives. This puzzles me.

I know this is an authentic Italian cookbook that was translated into English because my sister got it for me when she visited Italy. The Italian portion should be correct but it doesn’t add up for me.

I studied Italian in college and I wouldn’t brag about my translation abilities, but I’m pretty sure fritto is Italian for fried. I did not know what pangrattato meant and had to look it up. It means breadcrumbs.

Olives = Olives, Con = with, Pangrattato = Breadcrumbs, and Fritto = Fried.When we put it all together and translate this literally, it’d be Olives with Fried Breadcrumbs.

Olives with Fried Breadcrumbs is a more honest and accurate translation in my opinion.

My current job is quality control for subtitles. I’ve seen a lot of languages pass my way and have encountered cases where translators debate on how to translate because just like certain words in English can mean the same thing, they can also be interpreted differently depending on where you live and/or the placement of such translated words.

In this case, I think the term fried solely applies to the breadcrumbs, whereas in the United States, when we say fried we mean the whole damn thing is fried. If it’s just one portion we are quick to point that out.

What can I say, we enjoy the delicacies of frying and to flat out translate this as Fried Breaded Olives, just makes it seem like it’s fried olives. It’s offensive I say to trick us like this!

Of course, I’m just joking around and translating is a hard gig. It’s a lot of pressure. You gotta be careful sometimes. Still at the end of the day, this translation is mis-leading. I’d reject it if I was translation q.c.

What you’ll need

  • 1 pound/3 cups of green olives, scored
  • 4 ounces/1 cup of dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • hot red pepper
  • olive oil
  • vinegar

The first step is to fry the breadcrumbs, do so by heating a little oil in your pan, adding the crumbs, and stirring continuously.

In a bowl, get your olives and toss them around with your seasoning of garlic and some chopped parsley that was not mentioned in the ingredient list for some reason.

To be fair, parsley is practically in every Italian recipe. It’s just something a chef of Italian cuisine should just know.

We will then add the hot pepper, olive oil, a pinch of vinegar, and the fried breadcrumbs.

Mix this well and serve!

I brought this recipe over to my friend’s place because I wanted verification that I was reading the recipe right. Despite knowing Italian I was thrown off by the whole fried breaded olives interpretation.

We read the instructions a couple of times and determined that was indeed not fried. So we moved forward and created the below.

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Blessed be the olives

I’m not going to lie, they’re a little odd, but they aren’t bad. Ultimately I don’t know if I liked this enough to make again. My friend seemed to like it, but I was on the fence. The breadcrumbs were just too crumbly for me.

What I liked most were the olives. Why bother spreading bread crumbs all over if they aren’t enhancing the taste?

This might be wonderful for some people, but I’ll admit I’m just not really feeling it. I recommend making this recipe but leaving the breadcrumbs out.

Then again, if you’re like me and enjoy trying new things, you really should just try it and decide for yourself.

Choose your own adventure folks. It’s the way of life.

 

Eggs in Purgatory

This is a fitting recipe to describe my life currently let me tell you. Eggs in Purgatory.

Scratch that, I realize that the egg bit makes it seem like I’m going through menopause or trying to get pregnant maybe. Neither of those things is happening.

What I meant is that work has been hell for me right now and the weekend is like purgatory before I have to go back to the hell on Monday.

Purgatory isn’t so short and oh so sweet for most people, so I suppose I should feel lucky in that regard. I mean have you read Dante’s The Diving Comedy? 

Whatever purgatory you’re in right now, the good news is that this recipe is from Cook This, Not That which should help your case if you’re hoping to go up instead of down.

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 cup of farro or barley
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 ounces of pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mince
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (feel free to up the ante on this one if you enjoy spice as well)
  • 1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 eggs

The first step is to cook your farro or barley. To do so, follow package instructions which will most likely tell you to boil in water for x amount of time.

While x amount of time is occurring, heat the oil in a large skillet. Once the oil is hot, cook the pancetta and let it brown slightly. Next, add the onions, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook this until the onion has softened which should take around three minutes and then throw in the tomatoes and your grains from before. Provided said grains are ready to be cooked that is.

Cook this until the tomato juices have slightly reduced. This should be about 5 minutes and once these 5 minutes are up this is your time to season with salt and pepper to your likeing.

We are now ready to cook the eggs and will do so by creating 8 large wells in the sauce. It’s going to be difficult to do this perfectly, but try your best. Our goal is to make a well that will fit an egg. Once you’ve made eight that can accommodate start cracking your eggs into each of their little wells.

Cook the eggs under low heat for about 7 minutes until they’re cooked, but still slightly runny. You can poke your eggs with a pitchfork to make them cook faster if necessary. That might earn you points down instead of up though. Choose your own adventure.

Once those eggs are cooked, you’re ready to enjoy!

Cook This, Not That recommends consuming this dish by scooping it up with some bread and I say don’t make it just any bread. Make it garlic bread!

That would be straying from the low calorie breakfast goal intended unless you incorporated the crostini from Light and Healthy. Seems like a good option here to me. Again choose your own adventure, but depending on your current state of health garlic bread could be the devil on your shoulder. Tread carefully.

This was my first experience with Eggs in Purgatory and I have to save I was not disappointed. It’s an Italian version of Huevos Rancheros which makes the list of breakfast favorites for this girl so I’m not too surprised.

It was fairly easy to make as well. I did struggle with not breaking up the egg when I tried to remove it from my pan. The picture below was the best result I could get and I recognize it’s not one of my better pictures.

I’m not a professional food photographer so if this offends you then I suggest you hire one for me.

Despite it’s looks, this was tasty and I suggest you give it a chance. It may not be beautiful but it’s got a good soul.

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Eggs in Purgatory

Farm Fresh Sweet and Sour Beans

The actual name of this dish from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen is Sweet and Sour Green Beans or in Italian Fagiolini all’Agro.

Early in the recipe for this it was mentioned to use French beans. That got me thinking, are these French-Italian beans and if so, who is the sweet and who is the sour? Cultural stereotyping tells me that both can be such, but just like a Japanese eggplant and Chinese eggplant are both eggplants, they are also not the same.

So, I did a quick investigation and what did I find? Agro in Italian means sour, but it also means countryside. Given that Agro was capitalized in the naming of this dish, it would appear to be going for the countryside term, but this is also a truly sweet and sour dish.

I’d like to think the Italians were being clever when they named this since the naming means both. If we were to do a direct translation to Californian we’d call this Farm Fresh Sweet and Sour Beans, but’s that’s long right? So Italians were like, it’s from the farm, it’s sweet and sour. Let’s just called it all’Argo so people get that it’s both!

Still doesn’t explain the whole French bean thing, but maybe that’s just a side note anyway.

What you’ll need

  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 10 1/2 ounces of fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • pepper
  • Lemon wedges

The first step is to fill a saucepan with salted water and bring it to a boil. Once boiled add the beans and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until tender. Drain the water and set the beans aside.

We are now going to mix our sweet and sour dressing. Do so by mixing in a small bowl the lemon juice, olive oil, and vinegar with your to taste addons of salt and pepper. Once everything has been properly mixed pour it over your beans and toss.

The beans should have a nice glossy coat and you should be ready to serve and eat with lemon wedges on the side.

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Lemon wedges not included

This is another dish that turned out well! It’s amazing how a simple dressing can transform a vegetable into something delectable.

This is exactly what’s happening here. The olive oil gives the beans a smooth silky texture and the lemon juice and vinegar give it a slight kick that dances around your tastebuds.

If you need a simple side dish for dinner then I highly recommend you give these beans a try!

Penne with Angry Sauce

According to Classic Pasta at Home red pepper flakes make pasta sauce angry.

Look Williams – Sonoma, I’m here to tell you the sauce isn’t angry, it’s just talking! And boy does this Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce love to talk!

What you’ll need

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes aka angry flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 pound of ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • salt
  • 1 lb of penne
  • 1/2 cup of grated pecorino cheese

Your first step is to heat some olive oil over medium heat in a nice large saute pan. Then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. The actual cookbook has a see note asterisk for this. This said note is basically letting you know that if you don’t use the full 1/2 teaspoon of flakes then you won’t be like a Roman.

My reaction to this note is represented below,

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I guess Ron and I are just “angry”

A 1/2 teaspoon is not that much sissies! I’d put at least a whole tablespoon.

Ok, I know. I’m being a spice snot. I will get over my spice elitism and advise you to adjust to whatever level you desire. Afterall, I did a ramen spice challenge this past weekend and none of my friends could handle it. One even asked me if I had magical powers.

If that is a power, well you can enlist me in The Mystery Men.

Seriously can someone do that for me?

Once you’ve determined your spice level, saute for about a minute and then add the parsley. Stir that for a few seconds and then add the tomatoes. Kick the burner heat up to medium-high to allow the tomatoes to simmer until they break down. Stir occasionally as you wait for this to happen. In about 15 minutes they should break down into more of a sauce consistency. Feel free to add water to thin out the sauce if necessary and salt to taste as well. Once you feel satisfied with the sauce texture, reduce the heat to low.

We are now ready to cook our pasta. Do so the usual way with boiled water and such. Follow your pasta box instructions for cooking time and when it’s time to drain the water, keep about a 1/4 of a cup for later use.

Combine the pasta and sauce together and toss to allow sauce to cover evenly. Then add the cheese and do the same, adding the reserved water as you toss.

Once the cheese and reserved water has been mixed evenly you are now ready to serve!

Do so by placing each serving in a pasta bowl and then topping with some cheese and parsley like below.

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Angry pasta with crostini

I was quite satisfied with the results of my angry pasta. It was simple, fresh, and “angry.”

Normally I love thinner and longer pastas like linguine, but the chunky tomatoes added to the texture of the penne making it juicy with just the right amount of chewiness. Also, there’s something about how the parsley and cheese fall into the grooves of the penne that make it bellisimo.

If you enjoy a little kick to your meals and want an easy, light pasta meal then this angry little pasta is your man!

Crostini, aka tiny garlic bread

My next recipe comes from Light and Healthy and the good news is that mini garlic toast doesn’t need much tweaking if you need to lay low when it comes to food consumption.

The only tip Light and Healthy has given us is to use olive oil spray so one can control the amount of oil and avoid infomercial level embarrassment like below

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We’ve all been there

Other than that this is your standard garlic bread recipe which consists of rubbing garlic on bread.

In case you don’t know how to do that, here’s what you’ll need.

  • 1 large baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • olive oil spray
  • salt and pepper

The first step is pre-heat the oven to 400 and place your rack in the middle.

Once the oven is heated, place the toast on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. You’ll want to turn them over half way through this process as well.

When baking time is up, take them out of the oven and immediately rub the garlic on each toast. You only need to do one side as well.

After the garlic rub, spray each toast with oil, lightly season with salt and pepper, cross your fingers, throw salt over your left shoulder, and then you should have some mini garlic bread.

For those of you who are not aware of my sarcasm, you don’t have to do the last two steps.

My point with the jokes is that this is elementary cooking my friends and I have faith each and every one of you can make this.

It’s so easy that I don’t know how to elaborate more on this or how to even end this post. So, on that note, check out this cute cat plate with crostini and have a good day!

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Crostini makes kitties happy

 

 

 

Plum Preserves

I’m going to admit something slightly embarrassing to all of you.

I took the term preserve too literally and didn’t realize that this was actually a jelly or jam if you will. Preserves to me are vegetables and fruits that are preserved. I mean that’s what I call a “preserve.”

This is exactly what jam and jelly are as well, but I interpreted the term for a broader base.

After trying to eat this preserve as a side item, I realized that this was more of a jelly. That and a phone conversation with my boyfriend who is mostly from the south. Why mostly? He moved around a lot as a kid. I’d say he’s a southern boy with a dash of mid-west.

Below our conversation,

“What are you making this time?”

“It’s a plum preserve…it’s kinda like a sweet plum applesauce type of thing.”

Boyfriend pauses for a moment. “….I think that’s a jelly! Ooh I’m excited! I’m pretty sure a preserve is a jelly.”

Being the sweet southern man that he is I’m pretty sure he knew this all along but didn’t want to make me feel stupid. Those southerners like to preserve your pride when they like you. I appreciate it.

Wherever you hail from and whether you enjoy jellies, jams, or preserves then you should try out this plum preserve from Cooking Light. It’s surprisingly easy to make and delicious!

What you need

  • 6 cups of sliced ripe plums (about three pounds)
  • 2 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 4-inch cinnamon stick

The first thing you’re going to do is combine plums and sugar in a bowl. Once combined, cover and leave on your room temperature counter for 8 hours.

Then combine all the ingredients, including your plum mixture into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce your heat so that it only simmers and cover the pot for 15 minutes.

Once those 15 minutes are up, uncover and cook for an additional hour.

While this cooking process occurs be sure to stir and mash the mixture every few minutes or so. When the hour is up you should have a nice even consistency that resembles a jelly.

Pour this into a large bowl to cool and throw away your cinnamon stick.  Once it’s chilled out you can then enjoy your jelly!

This turned out really well and it tasted like apple pie to me. Granted these are plums, but the taste of cinnamon and the slight gooey and chewy plums reminded me of that coveted pie.

Once I realized this was a jelly, I served it with cream cheese on a cracker as you can see below.

I also brought some to work and a co-worker liked it so much she took some to her grandmother. I was told the grandmother approved. She apparently is a preserve connoisseur.

If you haven’t gotten the hint, then let me be east coast blunt and tell you that you need to try this as soon as you can! It’s delicious and so easy to make! You’d be a moron not to try!

Midwest translation, “I think you should try this. It’s good and easy to make.”

Southern translation. “Honey you gotta try this! My grandma used to make preserves for me as a child and I’m telling you this is just so easy to make. You won’t regret it.”

West coast translation, “You should really think about making your own jelly. When you’re in control of your own food intake you can cut out all the preservatives and chemicals that are being forced fed into our body by the food industry. It’s a real comfort to know my jelly is completely organic.”

Plum preserve in a bowl

Jelly and cream cheese