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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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

 

The Scent of Fried Eggplant

Some of you may be thinking, “Oh no…not another eggplant recipe!”

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I get it, I like eggplant, but I’m getting tired of writing about it. So how do we make this fried recipe from The Scent of Orange Blossoms interesting?

History. Provided you find history interesting. I’ll make it entertaining….

Eggplant did not come from an Isle of Eggplants, but from the regions of India and China. It then spread in both directions, west and east where it ended up in Egypt, the Iberian peninsula and finally England. The Wikipedia page on eggplant pulled a quote from a British writer that states

This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere. -English Botanist 1597

The people of the western side of Earth loved this purple cucumber and it followed many cultures and crossed the pond into the Americas in such a fashion that would make a bodysnatcher proud.

If this little history lesson hasn’t amped you up enough, I have another tidbit for you. Apparently at some point in China’s history the below quote was a thing.

In China, as part of her “bride price,” a woman must have at least 12 eggplant recipes prior to her wedding day. –The Elegant Eggplant

So ladies, if you’re single this is number 4 of eggplant recipes that I have written about. You’ll need 8 more if you want to get married and I’ll certainly update you if I come across more.

What you’ll need

  • 1 globe eggplant
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • finely minced rind of 1/2 preserved lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or balsamic

The first step is to cut the eggplant into 1/2 thick slices. Then place them on paper towels and salt them. This will help with the frying process later.

Let the eggplant soak in its salt bath for about 15 minutes and then turn over the slices and repeat on the other side.

This is like eggplant’s version of sunbathing/spa treatment.

After both sides have been salted, rinse the eggplant with water, pat dry, and then set aside.

Get more paper towels and line a baking sheet with them.

Side note, what did people do before paper towels for these eggplants? I’m sure they just used a towel of some sort, but it had to have been a super absorbent one right? The middle ages version of a shamwow is what I’m picturing.

We are now ready to fry the eggplant. Do so by heating two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add just enough eggplant that each slice has its space and then fry each side. You’ll know they’ve been fried enough when the eggplant establishes a light brown color. Once each side is fried, allow it to drain on your paper towel pan.

Once they’ve cooled you can garnish with garlic, parsley, preserved lemon rind, and vinegar.

After this process they are ready to be served and enjoyed!

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Eggplant, (2018) fried in pan

 

Noodle Nuggets with Cheese Sauce

Have you ever had a noodle nugget? Well, I have and it’s all thanks to laziness.

So how do you create a noodle nugget? First step is to try to make your own pasta with a recipe from Classic Pasta at Home after your 9-5 job by yourself, get tired, and end up with pasta that’s 10 times thicker than water. Then you bring leftovers for your friends to enjoy who don them noodle nuggets.

Let me quickly add that my friends actually liked the noodle nuggets, but we all like to tease and have quirky senses of humor, thus noodle nuggets were born.

What you’ll need for noodle nuggets

  • 2 1/4 cups of un-bleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

What you’ll need for noodle nugget cheese sauce

  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 3 ounces of fontina cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley

Our first step will be to make the noodle nuggets. By the way, feel free to not make noodle nuggets and buy fettuccine instead. You’ll be missing out though.

Place flour in a mound on a flat clean surface. Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs. Using a fork, gradually mix the sides of the wall into the egg. Do this carefully so your wall doesn’t breach.

Continue this process until you can safely mix all the flour in and the dough is no longer wet.

You are no ready to knead the dough. Prepare your hands by dusting flour on them and then press your knuckles into the dough in a semi-circular motion until the dough is no longer sticky.

Divide the dough in half and roll out your divided half until smooth and flat. If you have a pasta machine, make it flat enough so it can go through the machine at the widest setting. Fold into thirds to make a rectangle and then flatten the dough again. Pass the dough into the machine again and repeat 9 times. Fold the dough into thirds after each pass through as well.

Set the machine to it’s second widest setting and pass the dough through. Continue this process but with each pass change the setting one notch lower.

Repeat this process with your other half and then cut the dough into strips. This will give you fettucine.

If you want noodle nuggets, do this same process until you’re like, “Eh, that’s good enough, I’m getting tired.”

Whichever pasta you choose to make, you’re now ready to boil water to cook the pasta. Do that. If you don’t know how to do that, just put water in a pot and then heat it until the water boils.

While that’s happening, combine cream and broth in a large skillet. Let it simmer over medium heat until it thickens. Reduce the heat to low once it’s thick and then stir in the cheeses. Let them melt and then add pepper and salt.

Allow the sauce to thin out and once it has thinned, keep it warm over low heat.

The water should be boiling at this point, which means you can cook your pasta. Allow the pasta to only cook for about a minute. Drain the water and then add the pasta to the cheese sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high and let it cook, stirring constantly until the pasta has absorbed the sauce and seems fully cooked.

The pasta should now be ready for serving and eating. Do so and touch it up a bit with some sprinkled parsley and pepper.

As I mentioned, my pasta came out very thick, but it was still tasty. The cheese sauce is rich, comforting, and flavorful. You could serve it with just about any variation of pasta, but I do think a thinner type would be best since the sauce is also thin and will easily absorb into the pasta.

I had to make new sauce for my leftovers, because the noodle nuggets absorbed practically all of the sauce. They had also congealed together, which made it difficult to get indivual pasta strands.

Making more sauce over corrected the problem so my friend added some spaghetti to it as well. The combo of spaghetti and noodle nuggets was interesting and it made the meal into a game where we felt like we won something if we got a big chunk of noodle nugget.

I highley recommed pursuing the noodle nugget, but don’t feel ashamed if you end up with fettucine or buy some pasta instead because this sauce is delicious and easy to make. There’s no reason to make it harder for yourself if you don’t feel like it.

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Noodle Nuggets

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Noodle Nuggets with sauce

Historically Accurate Beef Fajitas

These beef fajitas come from I Love Spice and are actually called Classic Beef Fajitas, but doesn’t the word classic really just mean from the past?

So I decided to name it historically accurate, but it might not actually be historically accurate come to think of it. I mean I don’t know if this is an authentic recipe. However, it is a recipe from the past that millions of people enjoyed and that’s historically accurate.

At least here in the Americas this is the case.

I think now is a good time to say,

“Rachel assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site. The information contained in this site is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness…”

Just covering my bases…

What you’ll need:

For the fajitas

  •  1 pound of beef skirt steak, cut into strips
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • large pinch of mild chili powder
  • large pinch of paprika
  • large pinch of ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1-2 avocados, pitted, chopped, and tossed in lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream

For the pico de gallo salsa

  • 8 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1-2 fresh green chilies, such as jalapeno or serrano, seeded and chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 5-8 radishes, diced
  • ground cumin

The first step is to combine the beef with the garlic, lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to your standards, mix, and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes outside the fridge or overnight in the fridge.

While this is happening, make the salsa by combining the tomatoes, scallions, chilies, cilantro, and radishes in a bowl. Then season with cumin, slat, and pepper.

The cookbook now recommends you warm the tortillas in a skillet and then wrap them in foil to keep warm while you continue to cook.

I recommend you make everyone warm their own tortilla in the skillet right before they eat. It doesn’t take that long and it’s guaranteed tortilla warmth.

Once the meat has been marinated to your liking, you can prepare to cook it by heating vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. Stir fry the meat in this pan until browned and slightly tender.

You are  now ready to create your historically accurate and classic fajita masterpiece!

Do this by heating that tortilla, scooping in the meat, and topping with salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

Please note, that my fajita was not historically accurate because I left out the sour cream. I know it’s terrible, but forgive me history snobs.

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Not historically accurate, but good.

If you chose to be historically accurate or not, like all classics it goes without saying that this is an easy, satisfying meal that the whole family can enjoy.

Croûte de Fromage for the Distinguished Individual

This recipe is from French Farmhouse and it’s basically fancy grilled cheese.

The author of this cookbook describes this dish like a dating app profile,

Hearty yet sophisticated, it fits with the craggy mountains where hikers crowd the slopes in summer and winter brings cross-country and downhill skiers.

Don’t you get the feeling this dish is an outdoor adventure loving seeker who also enjoys long walks on the beach? I mean, I’d go out with it.

What you’ll need.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of light fruity wine or Riesling
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 3 long slices of Sourdough Bread cut in half crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of mild vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of grated Gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley leaves

The first step is to whisk the eggs, wine, a fair amount of salt, and a touch of pepper together. Once whisked, transfer this mixture to a shallow bowl for dipping purposes.

Place the bread slices in this dish until it is thoroughly soaked. Flip sides if necessary for even soaking.

Next, heat butter and oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. Place the soaked bread into this pan and add a generous amount of the grated cheese on top.

Cook the slices for a little over three minutes or until the cheese is half way melted. Then make these slices into full on sandwiches and flip sides until cheese is fully melted.

Once this is complete, remove from the skillet, cut crosswise and sprinkle with parsley.

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The final result is quite good, not that I’m surprised. Grilled cheese has always been a simple, yet effective comfort food. When you combine that simplicity with the best of cheeses it can only get better.

Soaking the bread in the Riesling also gives it a tangy taste which is toned down nicely with the parsley.

If you feel like stepping up your grilled cheese game or starting your own food truck, than this is a sandwich you should try.

Mrs. Lloyd’s Curry Dip

This curry dip from Tastes of Monroe County is making my spider senses tingle.

First off, it was submitted by a Mr. and Mrs. Fernandez, but it’s called Mrs. Lloyd’s Curry Dip.

Who was this Mrs. Lloyd to the Fernandez family? Was she a babysitter, a neighbor, or a legendary pirate?

I mean, she could be a legendary pirate. One-Eyed Willy made it to Oregon and hid all of his treasure there in a cave. A pirate named Mrs. Lloyd could have settled in Indiana with her curry dip recipe which is actually a code leading to secret treasure.

It’s possible.

I will have to interview Mr. and Mrs. Fernandez about one Mrs. Lloyd later. For now though…

What you’ll need.

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • 1-5 teaspoons of horseradish (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of tarragon vinegar

Despite the mystery surrounding this recipe, making it is self-explanatory and simple. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. That’s it.

It is recommended to add the horseradish teaspoon by teaspoon to test what you can handle, but that’s about it.

No booby traps, no skeleton organs, no mobster families, no Baby Ruths, and most importantly, no secret code leading to treasure.

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I like that it matches my bathroom counter, yes that’s my bathroom counter.

Yes, no secret mystery was found, but I did discover a new dip and that is an adventure in itself.

The cookbook suggests you use this as a dip with vegetables, but I think it would be amazing as a sandwich spread. It’s got a honey mustard vibe to it. A curry infused one, yes, but they are both tangy and delicious on a chicken sandwich.

I do think it’s an adventure to try this dish, despite the pirates.

Still wish there were pirates though.