Carnitas

Carnitas has always been a bit mysterious to this white woman from the midwest. It’s delicious, yes, but could I tell you what’s in it? Nope. But! We found a recipe, and it turned out to be one of those recipes that was basically: put a bunch of ingredients in a pot and then walk away for a couple of hours. I can do that. Then we had some yummy tacos for dinner – plus leftovers.

3.5lb-4.b boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 0.125″ thick, cut into 2″ chunks
2c water (we ended up using more)
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2T juice from one lime
1t ground cumin
1t dried oregano
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper
1 orange, halved

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300F. Combine all ingredients (1t salt, 0.5t pepper) except the orange in a large dutch over (the liquid should just cover the meat). Juice the orange into a bowl and remove any seeds. Put the juice and the spent orange halves into a pot. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, then cover and put into the oven until the meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with a fork, about two hours.

Remove the pot from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl; remove the orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from the cooking liquid and discard. Place the pot over high heat and simmer the liquid until thick and syrupy, 8-12 minutes. You should have about 1c of liquid.

Using two forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in the reduced liquid, season with salt & pepper to taste. Spread the pork in an even layer on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet or broiler pan. Place the sheet on the lower-middle rack and broil until the top of the meat is well browned but not charred and the edges are slightly crisp, 5-8 minutes. Flip the meat over and continue to broil until the other side is the same, another 5-8 minutes.

Serve immediately with tortillas & garnishes. (Potential garnishes: corn tortillas, lime wedges, minced onion, fresh cilantro, sliced radishes, sour cream)

Chicken Cacciatore

This chicken cacciatore recipe is an old one from the October 2000 Cook’s Illustrated. It’s one of the first things I learned how to cook, and has become comfort food for me. Pair it with some good bread, and this is a hearty meal that makes me feel at home.

8 bone-in chicken thighs (about three pounds, the thighs I got this time were HUGE and four were about 2.5lbs, so I just went with that)
salt & pepper
1t olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6oz portobello mushroom caps, cut into 0.75″ cubes
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1.5T flour (Yes, I used flour. Feel free to sub in cornstarch)
1.5c dry red wine (not merlot, nothing oaked)
0.5c chicken stock
1-14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2t minced fresh thyme
1 piece parmesan cheese rind
2t minced fresh sage

Season chicken with salt & pepper. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add four thighs, skin-side down, and cook until skin in crisp & brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and brown on other side, another 5 minutes. Transfer to plate, and brown remaining thighs, transferring to plate when they’re done.

Drain off all but 1T fat from the pot. Add onion, mushrooms, and 0.5t salt. Sauté over medium-high heat until moisture evaporates and vegetables begin to brown, 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, remove and discard skin from thighs. Add garlic to pot, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add mine, scraping pot bottom to loosen brown bits. Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme, cheese rind, and pepper to taste. Submerge chicken pieces in liquid and bring to boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes, turning chicken pieces halfway through cooking.

Discard cheese rind, stir in sage, adjust seasonings with salt & pepper, and serve.

Miso-glazed chicken with mushrooms

Chicken and mushrooms is a classic combination. It’s one of my favorites. I saw this recipe in a Milk Street magazine and had to try it. It’s pretty good, very full of umami flavor, which was probably my generous hand with the miso. I served it with white rice, I’m sure there are other good combinations to pair it with.

0.5c mirin
6T white miso
2T soy sauce (I, as always, substituted gluten-free tamari)
1T finely grated ginger
0.5t ground black pepper
3lbs bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
1lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed & quartered
1 bunch scallions, cut into 2″ lengths, whites and greens separated
1T unseasoned rice vinegar

Mist a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray. (I skipped the foil for environmental reasons and scrubbed for awhile to get the pan clean, just FYI). In a large bowl, whisk the mirin, miso, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper. Cut two parallel slashes on each chicken thigh, slicing down to the bone. Add to miso mixture, and turn to coat, working the mixture into the slashes. Place skin-side up on baking sheet.

Add mushrooms and scallion whites to now-empty bowl; toss to coat. Add to the baking sheet, scattering around the chicken. Roast on the middle rack at 450F until everything is well-browned and the chicken thighs reach 175F, 30-40 minutes.

Transfer chicken to serving platter and spoon mushroom mixture over it. Sprinkle with the scallion greens. Pour pan juices into a bowl; skim fat & add rice vinegar. Mix, taste, season with pepper to taste. Serve with the chicken.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I mentioned last week that I made chocolate chip cookies for dessert along with the miso-glazed salmon. They were delicious, but because gluten-free cookies go stale so quickly, I ended up taking them into work and everyone ate them before I thought to get a photo. What I’m saying: these are a delicious cookie that even non-gluten-free folks will enjoy.

(Recipe, as usual, adapted from ATK’s How Can It Be Gluten Free)

5oz gluten-free flour
1t baking soda
0.75t xanthan gum
0.5t salt
8T (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
5.25oz light brown sugar
2.33oz granulated sugar
1 large egg
2T milk
1T vanilla extract
7.5oz chocolate chips

Whisk flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt in bowl, set aside. Whisk butter and sugars together in large bowl until well-combined and smooth. Whisk in egg, milk, and vanilla, and continue until smooth. Stir in flour mixture with rubber spatula and mix until soft and homogeneous. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to middle and heat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Use two soupspoons, working with about 1.5T of dough at a time, portion dough and space ~2″ apart on sheets. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until golden brown, 11-13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, the transfer to wire rack. Serve warm. Cookies are best eaten day of, but can be stored in air-tight container for up to 1 day.

Miso-glazed salmon

I don’t know if it’s still salmon season or not – isn’t it usually over about now? But there was some delicious salmon at the farmer’s market this weekend, so miso-glazed salmon called my name. I served it with oven fries and fresh-made chocolate chip cookies for dessert. It was a good Sunday night meal.

3T white miso
5t honey
1T soy sauce (I used tamari, because: gluten-free)
2t mirin
1.5t toasted sesame oil
0.25t cayenne pepper
4-6oz center-cut salmon pieces
2T water
1T sesame seeds
1 scallion thinly sliced on diagonal

Whisk miso, 4t honey, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and cayenne together. Measure out 2t of sauce and brush onto tops of salmon. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Mix water and remaining teaspoon of honey into remaining sauce.

Evenly space filets, skin-side down on oiled wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Broil until thickest part of salmon reaches 115F (6-8 minutes). Transfer to platter, drizzle with 2T of remaining miso mixture. Sprinkle sesame seeds and scallion. Serve.

Vietnamese Cucumber Salad

Glass bowl with cucumber salad, including peanuts, cilantro, and jalapeños.

Let me be the 12 millionth person to recommend Salt Fat Acid Heat, both on Netflix and in book form. This is Samin Nosrat’s Vietnamese-style cucumber salad. I served it with pan-seared chicken thighs and rice, and it was the interest in an otherwise unremarkable meal. The extra dressing from the salad made a nice sauce for the chicken.

2lbs (about 8) Persian or Japanese cucumbers
1 large jalapeño, seeds removed if desired, thinly sliced
3 scallions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
0.5c coarsely chopped cilantro
16 large mint leaves, coarsely chopped
0.5c toasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
0.25c neutral-tasting oil
4-5T lime juice
4t rice wine vinegar
1T fish sauce
1t sugar
pinch of salt

Using either a mandolin or a sharp knife, thinly slice cucumbers, discarding the ends. In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, jalapeño, scallions, garlic, cilantro, mint, and peanuts. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients and stir until salt & sugar are dissolved. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix. Taste and adjust with more salt or lime juice. Serve immediately.

Tomatillo-beef stew

It’s tomatillo season at my local farmer’s market, so when the latest Milk Street magazine had a *super* easy tomatillo stew recipe, we jumped on it. You can eat it both as a stew, but also as fillings for tacos, as you see in the picture above. Both are good options.

2.5 lbs boneless beef chuck, trimmed & cut into 2″ chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
5 medium garlic cloves, smashed & peeled
2 jalapeños, 1 stemmed, seeded, roughly chopped, 1 stemmed & sliced into rounds
3 bay leaves
1t dried oregano
0.5t ground cumin
salt & pepper
1lb Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1.5″ chunks
12oz tomatillos, husked, cored, and roughly chopped
pumpkin seeds, toasted, for serving
roughly chopped cilantro, for serving

  1. Heat the oven to 325F. In a dutch oven. toss together beef, onion, garlic, chopped jalapeño, bay, oregano, cumin, 1.5t salt, and 1t pepper. Cover, transfer to oven and cook for two hours.
  2. Remove pot from oven, stir in potatoes and tomatillos. Cover, return to oven and cook until potatoes are tender and a knife inserted into the beef meets no resistance, another 1-1.5 hours.
  3. Remove and discard the bay, taste, and season with further salt & pepper. Serve sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, sliced jalapeño, and cilantro.

Salad Niçoise is yummy

I ate a LOT of salad niçoise in Europe, both in Switzerland and France. It seems to be having something of a moment (plus, it also feels very summery to me, salad for dinner). I love the veggie-protein mix, and it’s easy to make vegetarian. When there was a skeleton recipe in the latest Bon Appetit, it seemed like a godsend.

Any Way Niçoise
6-8 servings; Switch this up to suit your preferences, but try to always include a mix of cooked and raw veggies for the best textures.

0.75c extra-virgin olive oil
0.25c fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon, in my world)
2T dijon mustard
1t honey
1t each salt + pepper
6 large eggs
1lb green beans, trimmed; asparagus, trimmed; and/or small waxy potatoes, halved or quartered
4c halved or sliced radishes, cucumbers, fennel, and/or tomatoes
3c shredded rotisserie chicken, oil packed tuna, cooked salmon or steak, cooked lentils, or canned white beans or chickpeas
olives, capers, peperoncini, pickles, or other pickled-briny ingredients

Whisk oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add eggs and cook for seven minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water (keep pot over high heat). Peel eggs after ~5 minutes.

Meanwhile add green beans, asparagus, or potatoes to the same pot of boiling water and cook until just tender (cook each vegetable separately, in sequence), 2-4 minutes for green beans & asparagus, 10-15 minutes for potatoes. Transfer to bowl of ice water; let sit until cold, about 3 minutes. Remove, gently pat dry.

To serve, slice eggs in half & arrange on platter with cooked & raw veggies and protein. Top with pickled-briny ingredients, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle dressing over the top.

(You can cook the eggs and veggies up to 2 days ahead of time.)

Homemade Tomato Salsa

a bowl of homemade tomato salsa, with tomatoes, onions, jalapeño, and cilantro.

You know what tastes like summertime? Fresh tomatoes from the farmers’ market. The best way I know to use some of them up is homemade salsa. It’s easy to make and we have been known to go through a batch a week.

Homemade tomato salsa

12 small-ish tomatoes (I like early girl, Roma will do in a pinch)
1 onion, quartered
1 jalapeño, remove seeds if you don’t like it spicy
2 cloves of garlic
juice from 0.5 lemon
1T-ish of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
cilantro to taste

Core the tomatoes, put them, the onion, the jalapeño, and the garlic in your food processor. Run it until everything is as pureed as you like it. move to bowl. Add the lemon juice and seasoning salt. Mix. Chop about 2T of cilantro. Taste, adjusting seasoning to your liking. Once satisfied, let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Salsa, like soup, tastes better when the flavors have a chance to blend.

Roasted potatoes & asparagus

Roasted asparagus and potatoes alongside some chicken with a dijon mustard cream sauce that my husband made. Delicious!

I bought a bunch of asparagus at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago. I like asparagus more than anyone else in the house does, so I usually end up eating most of it. But just pan-roasting it (my quick-and-easy go-to) can get old. So sometimes I roast it along with potatoes. They combine well together, and it’s a low-effort side dish you can let cook while preparing something else more complicated.

Roasted Potatoes & Asparagus for 1-2 people

4oz of small waxy potatoes, quartered or otherwise cut into 1″ dice
3-4 asparagus stalks, cut into 1.5″ long pieces
olive oil
salt
1-2 cloves sliced garlic (optional)

Heat oven to 425F. Mix potatoes, 1T olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt in a bowl to coat potatoes with oil in a small bowl. Spread onto small cookie sheet. Cover with aluminum foil. Put in oven, roast for 20 minutes.

While potatoes are roasting, put asparagus pieces into same bowl (add a bit more olive oil if needed) to coat them with olive oil. Remove potatoes from oven, remove aluminum foil, add asparagus, mixing the potatoes & asparagus together with a spatula. Roast for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, mix, add garlic slices if using. Roast for 5 more minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!