Eggplant and Garbanzos

Happy New Year, wherever in the world you might be this day! Start the year off with this wonderful vegan dish of eggplant and garbanzos (sometimes known as chick peas). I am not a fan of ratatouille, so this came as a surprise from Greece! It seems like a lot of ingredients,but many of them are flavourful spices which really enhance the taste of the dish. Hope you will enjoy it!

Eggplant and Garbanzos Greek Style

1.5 lb eggplant, cut into cubes

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced

1 carrot, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 dry bay leaves

1 to 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika OR smoked paprika

1 tsp organic ground coriander

1 tsp dry oregano

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 28-oz can chopped tomato

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, reserve the canning liquid

Fresh herbs such as parsley and mint for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a large bowl or directly over your sink, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow eggplant to “sweat out” any bitterness. Rinse with water and pat dry.

3. In a large braiser, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, bay leaf, spices, and a dash of salt. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.

4. Now add eggplant, chopped tomato, chickpeas, and reserved chickpea liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Stir often. Remove from stove top, cover and transfer to oven.

6. Cook in oven for 45 minutes until eggplant is fully cooked through to very tender. (While eggplant is braising, be sure to check once or twice to see if more liquid is needed. If so, remove from oven briefly and stir in about 1/2 cup of water at a time.)

7. When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and add a generous drizzle of EVOO, garnish with fresh herbs (parsley or mint). Serve hot or at room temperature with a side of Greek yogurt or even Tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Smorgasbord of Leftovers

Fast approaching the new year...FINALLY! With two holidays in such a short period of time there are bound to be leftovers. Am I right? Indeed we had leftovers from both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at this point. No turkey in this house this year, but we did have hamand roasted duck. I raced to Pinterest as usual and the results were both quick and easy – Classic Split Pea Soup and Duck, Duck Soup. Both were great for the cooler days this holiday season.

  1. Classic Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 ribs of celery, diced

3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 to 1-1/2 cups diced ham

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 to 3 cups water

1 lb (about 2-1/4 cups) dried split peas (I used a jar of cooked white beans)

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, ham bone, diced ham, split peas, chicken broth, 2 cups of water and bay leaf to the pot.

Bring the soup mixture to a slow simmer and cover, leaving the lid slightly askew.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas have broken down completely and the soup has thickened, 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove and discard the ham bone and bay leaf.

Stir the soup to blend thoroughly and if necessary, add more water until the thickness of the soup is to your liking.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls for serving.

2. Rachel Ray’s Duck Duck SouP

Ingredients

Bones from cooked duck

1-quart chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 slices ginger

3/4-pound bok choy, sliced OR spinach

1 1/4 cups shredded duck meat

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 scallion, sliced

Preparation

In medium pot, simmer bones, broth, 1 cup water; garlic and ginger for 25 minutes; strain. Remove any residual meat from the bones. Return to pot with remaining ingredients; simmer 5 minutes.

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

By now you know me well; I am always searching Pinterest for new recipes to try. In this case, it was to do with pork chops which I had already thawed. This one caught my eye as we both love capers. And no, they are NOT fish! They are berries from a bush. It turned out great or else I would not share it with you. I quickly steamed some cauliflower to accompany the chops. The flavour was really good. You could omit the capers but it really adds to the flavour.

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1-inch thick center-cup, bone-in pork loin chops (allow chops to sit at room temp for 30 mins)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 200°F.

Pat chops dry with a paper towel, and then generously sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the chops and sear on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown on the bottoms.  Flip the chops over and sear the other sides for another 4 to 5 minutes. (The chops should be firm to the touch, but still have a little give).

Transfer the chops to the oven to keep warm while preparing the sauce.

Pour all but about 1 teaspoon of oil from pan and reduce the heat to medium.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the capers and cook for 30 seconds

Add the vinegar and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

Add the stock, mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 – 3 minutes.

Stir in the cream.

Shrimp Stir Fry

I am always looking for new stir fry sauce recipes and I came across this one on my favourite sites, Pinterest. I almost always use peeled and deveined shrimp to simplify cooking prep and this suited what I had on hand. Since we began a KETO diet years ago for the most part, we avoid rice and pastas, with some exceptions. You do not need to have rice with this, and thus, it becomes a shrimp “stew”…LOL. We always have a stir fry blend of vegetables on hand in the freezer, so you can substitute these with the frozen vegetables.

Shrimp Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 1 lb large shrimp (I usually buy peeled and deveined)
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 8 oz baby Bella mushrooms or other variety
  • 8 oz snow peas
  • 1/2 cup diced green onion
  • 2 bell peppers

Stir Fry Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth can also use vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp chili paste more if you want spicier
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

Peel and de-vein shrimp if needed. Whisk all ingredients for the sauce together and set aside. Chop vegetables and set aside.

Preheat a large cooking pan or a wok over medium heat and add peanut oil.

Sauté vegetables, mixing often, until start to soften. Don’t cook vegetables all the way because it will continue to cook after you take it out of the pan and later with sauce.

Take veggies out of the pan and add a little more oil to the pan.

Sauté shrimp over medium-high heat until just turns opaque on each side.

Add vegetables back into the pan and stir.

Whisk the sauce again and pour it into the pan. Stir well and cook for a few minutes, just until sauce thickens.

Stir in green onions and serve right away.

You can serve shrimp stir fry over rice, with noodles, or just on its own.

Chicken and Spinach in Creamy Paprika Sauce

Hope you will love this recipe as much as we did! Our spinach was not looking good, so I needed to cook it up! Pinterest to the rescue AGAIN! Fortuitously, we had purchased some smoked paprika when we were in Budapest years back and I had never used it. Since I only had chicken breasts I used them and it turned out fine. as you can see below. I cooked up some wonderful Parmesan and garlic green beans with pine nuts to accompany the dish.

Chicken and Spinach in Creamy Paprika Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (boneless & skinless)
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika (for seasoning chicken)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt and Pepper (each for seasoning chicken)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Creamy Paprika Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (sodium free)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (juice of squeezed lemon)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp paprika

1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika, rubbing it evenly over both sides.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet (I used cast iron skillet) over medium high heat and cook on the first side for about 3 minutes. Flip, and turn the heat down to medium and cook for another three minutes. Remove and set chicken aside on separate plate.

Making Creamy Sauce:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the now empty skillet. Add garlic and cook stirring frequently about 2 minutes. Add flour using a sifter until well mixed. Add wine next and cook for 1-2 minutes to allow alcohol to evaporate.

 Stir in chicken broth, heavy cream and lemon juice. Add salt and paprika. Mix well. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning (if necessary) at this point.

Spinach:

Add in the spinach and cook for additional 2 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Return the chicken to the skillet and cook covered for 2-3 minutes if your chicken breasts are thin; or for 5-7 minutes, if they are thick.

Serve immediately.

Butternut Squash Coconut Curry

Imagine my surprise at finding more butternut squash at our Favourite supermarket, Superama, here in Mexico. It is highly unusual, so much so that I bought all seven of them! They were hidden among the pumpkins which had just arrived. Those of you who live in northern climates will easily find these everywhere this time of year. Pinterest to the rescue with this recipe…

Butternut Squash Coconut Curry

Ingredients

  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled, deseed and diced
  • 1-2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, or 1 vegetable bouillon plus 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium-high. Add onion, garlic and ginger.

2. Cook until onion is soft, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in curry powder, paprika and thyme. Cook for 1 minute.

4. Stir in squash, coconut milk, vegetable broth.

5. Bring to boil, Cover and reduce to a simmer on low heat.

6. Cook for 15 minutes until squash cubes are tender but not mushy

7. Stir in pepper, salt and cilantro.

Delicious served with rice.

Salmon Pasta with Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

Quite often when I purchase a salmon filet there are little pieces which I cut off and freeze separately to use to make salmon poke, etc. Searching Pinterest for more ideas, I came across this great pasta dish!

Salmon Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-pound salmon fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 5 oz spinach fresh
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz penne

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.

2. Season salmon fillets with salt.

3. When the oil is hot, add salmon fillets flesh side down (skin side up). Sear for about 4 minutes on medium-high heat.

4. Reduce heat to medium.

5. Flip the salmon fillets to the other side (skin side down). Sear for another 4 or 5 minutes on medium heat until salmon is flaky.

6. Remove salmon from the skillet.

Pasta Sauce

1. To the same, now empty, skillet, add chopped sun-dried tomatoes and minced garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Add fresh spinach, and continue cooking and stirring until the spinach wilts, for a couple of minutes.

3. To the skillet with sautéed vegetables, add 1 cup of heavy cream, paprika, red pepper flakes. Bring to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute, stirring. Season with salt. Add more paprika, if you like.

Pasta

1. Cook penne according to package instructions. Drain.

1. Add cooked and drained pasta to the skillet with the cream sauce. Stir in.

2. Remove skin from the salmon by sliding the fork between the salmon fillet and the skin.

3. Slice salmon into large chunks.

4. Add salmon chunks to the creamy pasta. Stir to combine. Simmer for a minute or more, until the salmon is warmed up and cooked through. The salmon should be flaky.

5. Season with salt, if needed.

Egg Roll in a Bowl #2

Second version of this recipe… we both liked the finer chopped vegetables.

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Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • 1-pound ground pork or chicken
  • 4 green onions whites/greens separated
  • 2 teaspoons ginger grated
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-pound coleslaw mix (Mrt. Lucky Broccoli, Cauliflower and Carrot )
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil or to taste
  • cilantro & sesame seeds for garnish
  1. Brown pork in a pan until no pink remains. Drain fat
  2. Add the whites of the green onions, ginger, garlic, and coleslaw mix.
  3. Cook until slaw is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil and stir until coated.
  4. Garnish with cilantro, greens of green onions, and sesame seeds and serve.

Optional additions:

  • Chopped mushrooms, water chestnuts or other vegetables
  • Sriracha or hot sauce to taste

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Egg Roll in a Bowl #1

I made this version of Egg Roll in a Bowl last year and have been using it ever since while we were on the Keto Diet. It is great, but I have recently come across this one which uses a Mr. Lucky Mini Flakes of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. It’s far easier than chopping up all that cabbage…LOL.

The original recipe from Tasha Metcalf with the cabbage is below.

Keto Egg Roll in a Bowl   Tasha Metcalf

Prep Time 5 minutes     Cook Time 15 minutes    Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1-pound ground pork OR chicken
  • 1 head cabbage thinly sliced
  • ½ onion medium, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 stalks of green onion

Instructions

Brown ground pork in a large pan or wok over medium heat.

Ensure cabbage and onion is thinly sliced into long strands. Use a spiralizer to cut the vegetables for quickest results.

Add sesame oil and onion to pan with browned ground pork. Mix together and continue cooking over medium heat.

Mix soy sauce, garlic, and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Once onions have browned, add the sauce mixture to the pan.

Immediately add the cabbage mixture to the pan and toss to coat the vegetable and evenly distribute ingredients. Add chicken broth to the pan and mix. Continue cooking over medium heat for three minutes, stirring frequently.

Garnish with salt, pepper, and green onion.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 268
  • % Daily Value*
  • Total Fat 18g 28%
  • Total Carbohydrates 10g 3%
  • Protein 15g 30%
  • * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Brown Sugar Carnitas

Carnitas, literally meaning “little meats”, is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the state of Michoacán. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. The process takes three to four hours, and the result is very tender and juicy meat, which is then typically served with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans (frijoles refritos).

Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich boston butt or picnic ham cuts of pork. The 6–16 lb (3–7 kg) sections are usually cut down to a workable (6–10 lb) size and seasoned heavily before slow braising or deep frying.

The traditional way to cook carnitas is in a copper pot (or any thick-bottomed pot), which disperses the heat evenly in a process similar to confit. Lard is used to cover the dish in proportion to the amount of meat being cooked. Once the lard has melted, pork and flavorings are added (usually salt, chili, cumin, oregano or Mexican oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and crushed garlic cloves). Traditional carnitas are then made by a process of simmering the meat in the lard until tender over a very low heat. Once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. At this stage, the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver. (WIKIPEDIA)

Having read that, you are probably thinking TOO MUCH WORK! Indeed, my spouse made carnitas the traditional way, complete with the copper pan we bought in Quiroga when we visited that area of Mexico. It took hours and was incredible BUT….too time consuming and messy!

One of my favorite Mexican TV cooks is Pati Jinich, who has a program on PBS and on YouTube (Pati’s Mexican Table). The following recipe is her version and done on the stovetop in a Dutch oven. It was PERFECT and a lot less onerous.

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Brown Sugar Carnitas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lard, vegetable shortening, or oil (I used oil)
  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, fat on, cut into 3” chunks
  • 4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute.

Heat the lard in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Season the meat with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper. Once the lard has melted, add the meat, brown on all sides, stirring and flipping as it does, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

In the jar of a blender, pour 1 ½ cups of the milk and add the garlic, onion and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Puree until smooth. Pour over the meat and let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, drop in the bay leaves, and cover. Cook covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, flipping the chunks of meat a couple times in between.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup milk with the sugar. Pour over the carnitas, stir, and let them continue to cook, uncovered, for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and place in a bowl. Shred with a couple forks, add a couple tablespoons of the seasoned fat remaining in the casserole and toss.

This is normally eaten in  tacos with toppings like sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo salsa, etc. As you can see we skipped the tacos/tortillas and simply plated it with some rice and green beans.