Sizzling Summer Skewers

Summer Skewers 18

Skewers are fun to eat and simple to construct; however, if you make a large number of them, then you will probably get annoyed with both the assembly and cooking, because it will take forever.  If you’re making skewers in large numbers I suggest making it a team activity.

Start with a marinade.  I had chicken and pork, so I decided on two different marinades.

For the pork: I peeled the membrane off this pork tenderloin and cut it into bite-sized cubes.

Summer Skewers 2

Summer Skewers 3

Then I assembled the marinade: buttermilk as a base (and tenderizer), sriracha, teriyaki, pineapple juice, fish sauce, and garlic.

Summer Skewers 4

Mix that sucker up and shove it in the fridge overnight.

Summer Skewers 5

For the chicken: I trimmed the fat off several boneless, skinless chicken thighs (cheaper than breasts) and cut them into chunks.

Summer Skewers 6

This one I cheated and used a store-bought teriyaki marinade that I got from Farm Boy.  It was worth it.

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Pour that over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Summer Skewers 8

I also set a package of bamboo skewers in water and left those to soak overnight as well. This is so they don’t catch fire on the grill.

Summer Skewers 9

Assembly time!  For the pork I used onion chunks, fresh pineapple and some red pepper.

Summer Skewers 10

I always use two skewers to prevent the food from rolling around when I’m trying to rotate the suckers. It’s a bit trickier to put together (I did stab myself with one of the skewers) but worth it in the long run.

Summer Skewers 11

For the chicken I had onion chunks, button mushrooms, and cocktail tomatoes.

Summer Skewers 13

The button mushrooms turned out to be too small and kept breaking off, so I would use a bigger mushroom next time.

Summer Skewers 14

Grill!  I made so many skewers I had to do about four batches.  It took FOREVER.  Make sure to check that the meat is fully cooked before serving.

Summer Skewers 16

Tada!  All lovely and crispy!

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Petite Piglet Patties

Petite Piglet Patties 14

I was going to call these things “savoury sausage sliders,” or even “summer savoury sausage sliders,” but then the Pie suggested the above title and for some reason I started to laugh so hard I needed a tissue and had to sit down.  And then he suggested that, since we used hot italian sausage meat, we call them “picante petite piglet patties” and I may have told him to shut up at that point.

Petite Piglet Patties 13

Anyway.  These are sliders, if you hadn’t gathered that by now.  I picked up a package of ground sausage meat the other day and this is what we did with it.  Basic ingredients are about 1lb ground pork, 1 egg, half a white onion, and some fresh summer savoury.

Petite Piglet Patties 2

Mince up the savoury and the onion and chuck them in a bowl with the sausage meat and the egg.  Season with salt and pepper.

Petite Piglet Patties 3

Give that a good stir with a spoon and then mix in about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (or whatever kind of bread crumbs you have on hand).

Petite Piglet Patties 4

Form the goo into balls slightly larger than a golf ball but smaller than a cricket ball and flatten them into patties (I ended up with eleven patties).

Petite Piglet Patties 7

Fry those suckers up.  For some reason the light was such in my kitchen on this particular afternoon that it took us twelve tries (the Pie tried to help) of blurry patty photos before I gave up and used flash.

Petite Piglet Patties 11

While that’s on the go, why don’t you have yourself a salad, too?  Here we have a mixture of baby spinach, a small hunk of plain goat’s cheese (chevre), a handful of sliced almonds, another handful of dried cranberries, and a diced ripe pear.

Petite Piglet Patties 9

Then the dressing is 3 equal parts vegetable oil (I used almond, because we’re trying to use it up), rice vinegar, and orange juice).

Petite Piglet Patties 10

Toss it up!

Petite Piglet Patties 18

Top your sliders with whatever floats your boat.  I used mayo, tomatoes, avocado, and spinach.  The Pie voted for barbecue sauce and cheese.  We had them on some picnic buns I grabbed in the bakery section.

Petite Piglet Patties 8

All in all, a good summer meal. Don’t forget to eat your veggies! You see them peeking at you in the background? Don’t forget them!

Petite Piglet Patties 16

Pork Ragu with Fettucine


Gren on a Saturday 5-3

Oh winter.

While Gren may adore this particular season (at least until his little feet get cold), I do not. Some days I just want to wrap myself up in as many blankets as I own (which is quite a few) and count down the days until spring. But I can’t, and this is why people invented comfort food.

This particular recipe comes from a recent issue of Real Simple magazine, and it does the trick. The Pie and I have a resolution to use our slow cooker more (because it’s AWESOME), and it was really nice to come home the other day to a house that smelled like awesome had been slow-cooking in it for hours and hours. And the preparation takes no time at all. I did ours the afternoon before, which was a weekend, and put it in the fridge overnight. Then before I left for work the next morning I popped the crock on the pot and turned it on and blamo kablam it was done.

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 4

So let’s get around to that preparation, shall we?

Start by scrubbing and chopping up a large carrot. I ended up using two because I wasn’t sure if mine qualified as large or not. Do the same with a medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic (I may have used the whole head, but I really like garlic and this head was pretty old).

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 1

For spices, you’re going to need about 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and about 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. But feel free to add more or less if you choose.

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 2

You also need a large (14oz) can of diced tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste. The recipe calls for just 2 tablespoons of the paste, but that’s like a third of the can and I would just have to figure out what to do with the rest of it so I used the whole can.

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 3

Chuck all your vegetables and spices and canned goods in a 4-6 quart slow cooker (for scale, this one is 6 quarts).

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 6

And you need a hunk of pork shoulder or pork butt (haha, butt), about 1 1/2 lb.

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 7

Trim off the larger hunks of fat and cut the shoulder/butt in half.

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 9

Pop that in the slow cooker as well and give everything a stir to coat it in tomato juice (the acids in the tomatoes will help to tenderize that sucker).

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Cover it and let it cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or low for 7 to 8 hours, until the pork is super dooper tender.

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 13

About twenty minutes before you want to eat, cook up a package of fettuccine according to the package instructions (normally fettuccine takes about 12 minutes to cook to al dente).

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 17

While that’s on the go, take two forks and shred all that lovely slow-cooked pork in the slow cooker.

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 15

Pork Ragu with Fettucine 16

Drain your pasta and plop it into the slow cooker on top of the pork stuff and give it a thorough stir.

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Serve, spraying bits of tomato juice everywhere (at least, that’s what I did). Grate some parmesan on top and eat your way into ragù heaven.

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The recipe says it serves four but the Pie and I think that serving size is immense, so we would say that it more accurately serves 6-8, and it’s especially good the next day when all the juices have been sucked into the fettuccine. When I brought it to work everyone became jealous of my delicious leftover lunch.

Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Braised Cabbage

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 14

I actually cooked this recipe up on Hallowe’en, but with my garnish it looked so darned festive I had to push back the publishing date to sometime when people start thinking of roasting chestnuts and Frosty the Snowman.  But for authenticity I am listening to Toccata and Fugue in D Minor while I type this up.  Spooky.  Yet festive.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 13

Anyway, there are lots of things you can do with pork tenderloin, and they’re extra handy when you’re in a rush because they cook so quickly. In addition to roasting up nice and tender in the oven, you can also slice up raw tenderloin into medallions for a fast fry, which is what we do here.  This recipe, modified a bit, comes from a recent Every Day Food.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 1

First you want to peel off all the silvery skin on your pork tenderloin, to make it extra tender.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 3

Then you can slice it up into relatively thin medallions.  Mine are about 3/4″-1″ thick.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 4

Then you will take a small cabbage (red one will be prettier, but I prefer the taste of green) like this one.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 5

And chop it all up into shreds.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 6

Now, heat some oil in your beautifully seasoned cast iron skillet and cook your pork medallions on medium-high until they are done all the way through and slightly brown on the outside.  Put them on a plate somewhere and cover them to keep them warm.

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Then take your cabbage and plop it in your still hot skillet.  Cook that, tossing occasionally, until it’s all wilted.

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Then pour in about 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice.

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Raise the heat a little bit and let that simmer down until it’s reduced to about half and starts to thicken.  I used unsweetened juice, so I suspect if mine had had more sugar in it it might have thickened a bit more (notice how there are two incidences of duplicated words in that sentence?).  At this point, add in about 3 tablespoons butter and a dash of red wine vinegar and you’re ready to serve.

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I garnished my rather sadly coloured green cabbage with some steamed frozen peas and some fresh pomegranate seeds for festivity’s sake, and we had roasted potatoes on the side.  It was highly tasty.

Tenderloin & Pom Cabbage 11

O Canada: Canadian Bacon

Peameal Bacon

Today is my dad’s birthday.  He’s 64.  Happy birthday Dad!  It’s also the 75th birthday of the CBC.  Happy birthday to a Canadian institution!

I’m going to finish off our O Canada feature month with a delicacy that was originally introduced to me by my dad, back when we were both quite a bit younger than we are now.

In Canada we call it back bacon, or peameal bacon due to its peameal crust.  You might know it as Canadian bacon.  And oh is it ever divine.

Peameal Bacon

There is no extra fat, no dripping, spitting, liquid pain when you’re cooking it.  Just solid bacony goodness.

You just slice it up thin and heat it in a pan — it’s pre-cooked!

Peameal Bacon

You can also cube it up and put it in soups and stews.  Marvellous.

O Canada: Baked Beans with Toutons

Baked Beans with Toutons

My house currently smells like awesome.  All the windows are steamed up.  It’s great.

Baked beans, I think you’d agree, are a traditional staple all down the eastern seaboard of North America.  Add a splash of Québec maple syrup to the sweet, dark sauce and serve it with a side of Newfoundland toutons (“TAOW-tuns”), however, and you’ve got yourself a Canadian dish.  It all takes quite a bit of time (you have to start by soaking your beans overnight), but it’s worth it to have your house smell this good.

For the Baked Beans:

I cobbled together this bean recipe from three others, which I’ve listed at the bottom of this post.  I think baked beans are conceptually pretty fluid, so feel free to experiment on your own.

Baked Beans with Toutons

This recipe also involves some interesting food items that are not usual additions to my refrigerator contents: fatback pork and salt pork.  If you can’t find fatback pork or pre-cut scruncheons, you can also deep-fry the toutons in vegetable oil.  Here in St. John’s, salt meat, which you can buy in 4L buckets, has its own section in the grocery store, right next to the bologna section.  That’s right, bologna section.  As in, there are several different kinds and cuts of bologna available to the residents of this lovely city.  Luckily I found smaller amounts of fatback pork and salt pork riblets, and was able to get away with just a scant pound of each, rather than having to find a use for a whole bucket of meat.  You could probably use a salty ham (Virginia-style) in place of the salt pork if you can’t find it.  And of course if you want a vegetarian version of the baked beans, leave out the pork altogether.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Start with about 4 cups dried white navy beans.  Rinse them and plop them in a bowl.  Cover them with several inches of water and leave them overnight to soak.  You may need to add more water as it gets absorbed.

Baked Beans with Toutons

The next day, drain and rinse the beans and plop them in a very large pot with three times their volume of water to cover (so take the bowl the beans were in and fill that sucker three times with water and you should be good).

Baked Beans with Toutons

Plop in 1lb salt pork.  Usually this comes on the bone.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the beans and pork simmer for 40-50 minutes, until they’re all tender and stuff.  Scoop out 1 1/2 cups bean cooking water and then drain the rest.

While the beans are simmering, finely chop up 1 large onion.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Plop the onion in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon dry mustard (Keen’s or Colman’s are the traditional versions around here), 2 teaspoons chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.  Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and fragrant.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour into that 4-156mL cans of tomato paste (that’s about 2 1/3 cups), 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup fancy molasses, and 1/2 cup pure maple syrup.  Give that a good stir and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes.  It will bubble like the Thing from the Black Lagoon and get absolutely everywhere, so make sure to cover it.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour in the reserved bean cooking water and mix well.  You can purée it in a food processor at this point if you wish, but I didn’t bother.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Preheat your oven to 300°F.  You could do this earlier but it really doesn’t take long, so there’s no point in having your oven on for such an extended period of time.

Strip the salt pork from its bones and tear it into small pieces before tossing it back in with your drained beans.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Mix the beans and the sauce together.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish.  Cover and bake for 2-3 hours, then uncover and bake until sauce is thick and the beans are coated, about another hour.  Serve hot with toutons, or allow to cool and freeze for later.

Baked Beans with Toutons

For the Toutons:

I pulled the recipe for these weird little Newfoundland doughnuts/dumplings/biscuits from this site.  Most of the other recipes I found ended up being exact copies of this one, so I figured it was legit.  Toutons are essentially fried white bread dumplings.  Most of the time they are served doused with butter and maple syrup.  This sounds like a good idea to me.  You can buy pre-made touton dough at the gas station down the block from our house.  During the summer festival here they have touton-throwing contests.  These bready balls are evidently important to Newfoundland culture.

Start by dissolving 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.  Add in 1 tablespoon traditional yeast.  Allow that to stand for 10 minutes, then stir it in until it’s all dissolved.

Baked Beans with Toutons

In a saucepan, scald 1 cup low-fat milk (the recipe called for 2% but we use 1% so I figured that would only save us from an earlier death).  Add in 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening and stir until it’s all melted.

Baked Beans with Toutons

To the hot milk, add 1/2 cup cold water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Make sure the milk mixture is lukewarm and then add the yeast mixture and stir until well-blended.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Add in 2 cups all-purpose flour and stir until it’s all smooth.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Gradually add 3-4 more cups of flour until you have a moist dough that no longer sticks to the bowl.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Shape the dough into a ball and plop it in a greased bowl, turning the ball to grease the top.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put it somewhere warm and draft-free for the dough to double in size, about an hour.

Baked Beans with Toutons

While you’re waiting, you can make your scruncheons (or scrunchins), which are fried pork back fat.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Mmmm.  Like bacon only without the actual pork.  So you take your backfat, about 1/4lb, and you cube it up as finely as you can.

Baked Beans with Toutons

This is harder than it looks.  Pig backs are tough.  Also see the surface of this particular chunk?  I’m convinced it was actual skin, because it was a pain to get through, and it fried up almost rock hard.  I suggest trimming that off if you can.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Set your raw scruncheons aside for a spell, until your dough is ready.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Punch down the dough and squeeze off pieces about 1/3 cup in size.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Flatten them to about 1/2″ thick, in a circular or triangular shape.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Fry your scruncheons until the solid pieces are golden brown and crisp.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Take them out and lay them on a paper towel.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Fry the toutons in the liquid pork fat until they are golden on both sides, a minute or so per side.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Add a dab of butter to the hot touton, sprinkle with crispy scruncheons, and douse with maple syrup.  Serve hot!

Baked Beans with Toutons

Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go and have a heart attack somewhere.

Baked Beans with Toutons

More Baked Beans:

http://canadianwinter.ca/index.php?page=canadian_winter_molasses_baked_beans

http://www.canadianliving.com/food/maple_baked_beans.php

http://suppertonight.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/canadian-baked-beans/

O Canada: Maple-Glazed Salmon

Maple Glazed Salmon

You won’t see too many fish or seafood dishes on here, because the Pie won’t eat them.  You can’t do a feature on Canadian cuisine without talking about Canada’s vast ocean resources, so I’ve kind of snuck this one in under the radar.  I discovered the recipe a few years ago when the Pie and I had two other roommates who were a little more into sea creatures than he is, and I made it often.  The plus is that the marinade works really well on pork chops as well, so when I make this I can make a piece of salmon for me and a piece of pork for the Pie and we’re both happy.

Maple syrup forms the basis of this marinade, but the lemon juice, ginger, and soy sauce give the sweetness a bit of a snap.  Quick and easy, too.  I pulled it from an issue of Canadian House & Home a million years ago.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup genuine maple syrup, 4 tablespoons light soy sauce (I used organic tamari), 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon minced ginger.  This is enough marinade for 4 pieces of fish.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

You’ll notice here that I butterflied the porkchop I had, just to make it the same thickness as the salmon. That way I could cook them at the same time.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Place your salmon* (or your pork) in a shallow dish and, saving about 1/4 cup of the marinade for later, pour the sauce over the fish.  Refrigerate that for an hour.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

While that’s heating up (mine takes forever), peel 2 very large carrots and wash 3 very small zucchini.  Or whatever ratio you prefer.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Use a mandolin to slice the vegetables thinly lengthwise.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Plop them in a pot with a few inches of water.  Add a generous pat of butter and some fragrant herbs, like herbes de provence.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Cover and steam for 8-10 minutes, until the carrots are all bendy.

Thinly slice up about 3 tablespoons scallions or green onions.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Spray a glass dish and set your fish in it with a bit of marinade to coat.

Maple Glazed Salmon

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, basting halfway through with some leftover marinade.

Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with some of that 1/4 cup of marinade you saved earlier.  Sprinkle with the sliced onions. Drain the vegetables and serve as well.  Mmmmm … This makes up a little bit for the poutine we had last week, but won’t stand up in the face of what I’ve got planned for you on Friday.  Stay tuned!

Maple Glazed Salmon

*** THE END ***

*If you’re reading this asterisk-ed caveat, you got me: that is actually trout, not salmon.  It was in a big jumbled pile at the seafood counter and I picked it up by mistake, okay?  Sheesh.