Peachy-sweet pork chops

On the menu tonight were two beautiful pork chops from our foodshare. To complement them, we decided on a farm-fresh peach and capsicum pepper sauce. What’s great about this meal is that both the chops and the sauce are incredibly simple, quick, and easy to make, making this a perfect dish after a busy day at work that’s delicious, but also very healthy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 4 pork chops
  • 2 fresh peaches, chopped
  • 1 small red sweet capsicum pepper (the long variety, rather than the bell variety), chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon of grapeseed or olive oil

Substitute Ingredients:

Advertisements

Summer-kissed macaroni pasta

Photo credit: Vivian Chan

My mom got me a gorgeous new titanium/cast iron pot that you can apparently cook anything in without adding oil or water and it’s non-stick. I couldn’t wait to try it out. Last night, I made a risotto – true enough, nothing stuck. Tonight, I gave it another whirl. So, with a fridge full of our biweekly local foodshare harvest, I decided to whip up something that would take full advantage of all that wonderful summer produce: a summer-kissed macaroni pasta. The great thing about this is that you can use any fresh produce you have – feel free to substitute with what you have. The only important thing are the tomatoes.

Ingredients:
Makes 4-5 servings

  • 4 strands of garlic scape, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 leeks, chopped
  • 5 peeled tomatoes, chopped (you can leave the peels if you like, I took them off this time for a smoother texture)
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups arugula leaves, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt, to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of lime or lemon zest
  • 1 squeezed lime or 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon mixed Italian spices (oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of butter (optional)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of shredded parmesan or romano cheese
  • 2 cups of macaroni
  • water Continue reading

Fa’alifu Ulu: Coconut Breadfruit

Image credit: Vivian Chan

I fell in love with breadfruit in Jamaica a few years back, so when I came across breadfruit in one of my local grocery stores recently, I was elated. I decided to make my version of Fa’alifu Ulu, a simple Samoan breadfruit dish. “Fa’alifu” is a savoury coconut sauce and “Ulu” is breadfruit. You can use this sauce with any starchy vegetables or fruit like sweet potatoes, yams, Chinese taro root, and even bananas. If you use bananas, use green bananas that aren’t ripened yet. The cooking process is the same no matter what you use.

Ingredients:

  • 1 breadfruit (peeled, decored, and chopped)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 medium sized white onion (or a Spanish onion if you prefer the sweetness)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of salt, or to taste
  • water

Optional:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut flakes (according to preference)
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

First, fill a large bowl 3/4 of the way with water. As you peel and cut the breadfruit, you will need to put the pieces into the bowl of water to keep the fruit from going brown. If you don’t care too much about the fruit browning a little you can skip the water bowl.

Continue reading

Bacon-wrapped maple lamb

Sometimes, the best recipes can come out of combining of a few of your favourite things. For me, I found recent inspiration in bacon and maple syrup and decided to apply them to lamb and some beautiful local seasonal root vegetables.

The outcome: a gorgeous bacon-wrapped maple rack of lamb on a bed of maple-glazed roast vegetables for four. Satisfying, delicious, and easy to make. It really doesn’t get better than that.

What you need are:

  • 1 8-boned rack of lamb
  • 1 pack of bacon
  • 3 vine tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper (your choice), coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized white or red potatoes, peeled or unpeeled and coarsely chopped (or 7-10 white or red baby potatoes, halved)
  • 1 bunch of local medium-sized carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (rather than the super-sized large ones that often come in bags or sell individually – if you use these large ones, use only 2 carrots)
  • 3 average-sized beets, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole (feel free to add more if you’re a garlic lover, or less if you’re not) Continue reading

Feeling sick? Plain congee to the rescue

This post is dedicated to my friend, Lola.

Photo credit: Vivian Chan

When I get sick, nothing helps me feel better than the warm comfort of Chinese congee. I used to think it was the nostalgia of my childhood when my parents would nurse me back to health with bowlfuls of it, but more recently, I’ve found out there’s science behind the old tradition. Congee is not only high in fluid content, which your body needs plenty of when you’re sick, but is also high in electrolytes from the rice. (Italians have a similar concoction, only it’s boiled pasta and the starchy water is drunk afterwards. Same principle.)

I will make congee regularly around the year, but never at a higher frequency than when I’m sick. This week was no exception. Having picked up an ugly virus, I gathered up the pot, rice, and chicken broth for my congee. That is the beauty of congee. That’s all you need. My basic recipe will make a large pot of plain congee that will last one person about two or even three days, which is great when you’re sick and don’t want to be cooking multiple meals.

Main ingredients:

  • 2.5 to 3 litres of chicken stock (may also be substituted with vegetable stock or water)
  • 1.5 cups of white jasmine rice
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Continue reading

One pot wonder

Whenever the snow is blustering outside and winter seems to be showing its bad side, nothing seems more comforting than a few extra hours spent in bed on a Saturday. Sadly, when it’s mid-week and braving Old Man Winter is your only option, a simmering pot of something on the stove could very well be your next best friend.

A generous helping of chili con carne (taken from Spanish means “with meat”) has been a lifesaver when I’ve been short on time and needed a pick-me-up. It doesn’t need a babysitter and the longer these ingredients stay in the tub, the better. I like my chili with a bit of a kick, but feel free to add less or more spice according to your own tastes. You can also throw in your favourite chili peppers for extra bite. So, if you’re in the mood for more spicy meal ideas to chase away those winter blues, you’re in luck!

  • splash of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 4-5 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) extra-lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons cumin, to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons paprika, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup Jasmine rice, washed (optional)
  • water, for rice (optional)

Continue reading