Category Archives: Home Meals

2019 Cookery Project — Spicy Pork Roast with Leeks and Potatoes

Spicy Pork Roast with Leeks and Potatoes

Spicy Pork Roast with Leeks and Potatoes

This is the first meal of my 2019 Cookery Project — Spicy Pork Roast with Leeks and Potatoes. And Garlic and Kale. And the contents of a small spice rack. There’s a lot going on here.

It’s probably the last Cookery Project plate I’ll be posting until late February. The various Washington-area Restaurant Weeks start tomorrow and run through most of January. Shortly thereafter, I’m making an excursion to Charleston, SC, a city that shows up on most of those “Top Ten US Cities for Dining” surveys. I’ve never visited before, but I’ve got a little list….

So I’ll be eating well, but cooking little these next few weeks.


I got the recipe for this dish from Bon Appétit. It takes two or three days to put it all together.

What gives this pork roast its kick comes from the blend of spices that you put on the pork.  I started by toasting black peppercorns and fennel seeds, then blending them with red pepper flakes and cinnamon with a mortar and pestle. (I didn’t own a mortar and pestle before I decided to try this recipe, but, fortunately, the DC area is rich in 24-hour mortar and pestle stores. It’s something we’re known for.)

I covered the pork with the ground spices, sealed it in plastic wrap, and refrigerated overnight.

The rest was easy. The next day, I halved a mix of small red, white, and purple potatoes, cut some leeks into rounds, and sliced six garlic heads in half, crosswise, and, yes that’s full garlic heads, not garlic cloves. They filled the bottom of a big roasting pan. While I was chopping away at the vegetables, I also cooked half a head of garlic and a few sprigs of thyme in butter.

I put the pork on top of the vegetables, basted it with the melted garlic butter, and roasted the whole thing at a low heat. After a couple of hours, I removed the pork and let it rest on a platter. (This was easily the best-rested pork roast in America,)

Final steps: I raised the oven temperature to 500° and added some apple cider vinegar and a lot of shredded kale to the roaster. The well-rested pork when back on top. A half hour later, it was golden brown and beautiful.

After a final 20-minute rest, it was ready to eat.

Meal prep took forever, and there was a lot of stop-and-go action, but the result was well worth the effort.

2019 is off to a good start.


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

Advertisements

2018 Cookery Project — Second-Half Review

Some of the things I cooked in the second half of 2018. Click on any picture to launch a full-screen slide show view:

2018 Cookery Project — Leg of Lamb with Mint Sauce and Black Bean Salad

Lamb with Mint Sauce and Black Bean Salad

Lamb with Mint Sauce and Black Bean Salad

In what was almost certainly my last Cookery Project meal in 2018, I roasted a leg of lamb for the holidays. I got my recipe for Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary from Epicurious.

I’ve cooked lamb before, but I’d forgotten about the high ratio of fat and gristle to meat in a leg of lamb.  When the GMO food people get around to breeding a fat-free lamb, I’ll be first in line at Safeway.

With some memorable exceptions, lamb has often seemed a bit bland to me, so for a side dish, I went with a FoodNetwork recipe for a colourful Black Bean Salad to liven things up. It turned out that the side was tastier and more interesting than the main. Not a result I was looking for.

Still, it was satisfying. Just not the high note with which I wanted to end 2018.


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.


Meat & Livestock Australia’s 2017 Lamb Ad Campaign 

Some Hindus, some Anglicans, and some vegetarians complained about the ad, but for whatever reason, there were no reports of protests from the Scientologists about L. Ron Hubbard’s presence at this Feast for the Gods.

2018 Cookery Project — Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Chicken

 Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Chicken

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Chicken

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Chicken is another of those one-pan, 10-ingredient dishes from the A Spicy Perspective website that come in handy when I want to make something beautiful and elegant, but fast and easy. (“Fast and easy” was my middle name, back in younger and more adventurous times.)

I could probably have put this together blindfolded. It didn’t require learning any new techniques, and there were no unfamiliar ingredients. Like so many things I cook, it began with diced onion and minced garlic. I seared the chicken in butter. then added, at various stages, finely diced roasted red peppers, chicken broth, cream cheese, crushed red pepper, and basil. If you look closely, you can see that I sliced the chicken before serving.

Another good one. I think I’m getting the hang of this cookery thing.


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

2018 Cookery Project — French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

This was a first attempt at making French Onion Soup, one of my favourite things, right up there with raindrops on kittens and whiskers on roses.

And it worked! I knew I’d succeeded from my first sip, because It tasted unmistakably French.

I’ve been building up to this for a long time, comparing a number of recipes and finally settled on this one from Epicurious. I even bought a special set of ramekins and soup spoons, for authenticity and because I liked saying “ramekins”.

I started by slow-cooking four sliced Vidalia onions in butter. It took about an hour to get them to the perfect state—soft, and golden brown. Then I added white wine and beef broth, thyme and bay leaves, and simmered to reduce.

To finish, I poured a bit of sherry into each ramekin, filled them with the onions and broth, added lightly-toasted baguette slices, and covered the whole thing with Gruyère cheese.

Five minutes in the broiler gave me the delicious result you see above.

Bon appétit!


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

2018 Cookery Project — Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

The description of this Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken, from a website called The Recipe Critic, says, “This meal tastes like it is straight from a restaurant.  I couldn’t even get over how amazing the creamy sauce was!  It has such a delicious creamy garlic taste with spinach and sun dried tomatoes.”

All of which is totally accurate. It was like something I’d be happy to find on the menu of a good restaurant, and after tasting it, I’d make a note to order it again next time I visited.

The chicken was boneless, skinless breast, sliced and then cooked in batches in a skillet. When it was done, I moved the chicken to a plate, deglazed the pan, and added heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, chopped spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes.

While the sauce was thickening, I cooked the pasta, which turned out to be the killer secret ingredient. On a whim, I’d picked up a small package of Pasta Valente’s Garlic Parsley Fettuccine at Giant. I hadn’t heard of it before I bought it, but I now think it’s the best packaged pasta I’ve ever eaten.

The chicken went back into the skillet to reheat, and a few minutes later, it was ready to serve.


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

2018 Cookery Project — Smoky Oven Baked Salmon with Horseradish Sauce

Smoky Oven Baked Salmon with Horseradish Sauce

Smoky Oven Baked Salmon with Horseradish Sauce

I have my defaults.

My default Breakfast Cereal is Open Nature Naturally Flavored Granola with one or more servings of fresh fruit (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and/or bananas), Golden Raisins, and heavy cream.

My default Ham Sandwich is Black Forest ham on hand-cut slices of sourdough bread, with my own honey-mustard spread, some cress, and a sprinkling of bleu cheese.

And now I have a default recipe for salmon.

The recipe for Smoky Oven Baked Salmon with Horseradish Sauce that I found on a website called A Spicy Perspective turned out so well that I’m sure I’ll be using it over and over.

Here’s how it works: You spread brown sugar over the salmon, then add liquid smoke to the sugar and rub the mixture to coat the entire fillet. Bake it on parchment paper for 15 minutes. The liquid smoke and brown sugar blend give the fish a wonderful, shiny glaze.

The Horseradish Sauce is a mixture of grated shallot, sour cream, milk, mustard, and, uh, horseradish.

Add some capers and parsley, and you’re ready to go.


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.