Okra, Tomato, Mushroom, Onion… Vegetarian & Indian Savory Style

Because the okra, the paste tomatoes, the mushrooms and that onion were looking at me accusingly, and the okra was reminding me I bought them nine days ago.

Because one should be creative when facing one’s fridge, and that veggie doomsday clock which was ticking down!  And they need to remain tasty.

Because these foodstuffs are still good, but needs to be cooked… NOW!  Not tomorrow, but now.  I am NOT Martha Stewart.

Okra, Tomato, Mushroom, Onion, Indian. Recipe

Upcoming lunches brought into their proper habitat on an Indian cuisine table

Those okra:  Tucked into a side corner of the fridge — out of sight, out of mind.  My fridge is like that.  A Bag of Holding.  The fridge is so small that things have gaps to hide behind other things in.

Note:  this okra after nine days looks a heck of a lot better than any okra I find at the supermarket, the day I see it at the supermarket.  Makes me wonder how long they let that stuff sit out before putting it on the shelf.  I now only purchase my okra at the Asian market (or during New England okra season, at farmer’s markets).  I think there’s a high turnover at that Asian market, and that might be why it’s so fresh there.  Or maybe they care more, as their two or three varieties of bok choy are also always super fresh, and I love their Thai basil, and their on-ice and fresh seafood department is to die for.  (And a LOT cheaper than my regular supermarket.)  No, we won’t go into their frozen section…  I don’t shop in that part.  ‘Nuff said.

The okra has been muscilagenously maligned.  (To coin a phrase.)  I grew up in a house where okra was frequently served by my parents, so I liked it early on.  I recognize this is not a dish for everyone.  And there are ways to cut the mucus.  But:

Ask me what the five veggies I’d eat forever on that hypothetical desert island, without recourse to any others, but being able to cook them any which way I’d choose?

In no particular order:

Asparagus (okay, this one IS first)
Cucumber (probably fifth?)

(Well, I’d miss fennel and beets and collard greens and sugar snap peas and delicata squash and green or red cabbage, and, currently speaking, Brussels sprouts.  One of these might switch out with the cuke, depending on the day I am asked.)

Prep Time:  15-20 minutes
Cook Time: ~40 min
Rest Time:  None
Serves:  2 or 3 as a main, about 5 as a side

Okra, Tomato, Mushroom, Onion…  Indian Savory Style

* 2 tablespoons ghee (to make vegan, substitute avocado or sesame oil)
* 1/3 teaspoon cumin seeds
* 1/3 teaspoon fennel seeds
* 1 medium yellow or white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
* 1 pound okra, trimmed of stems and any brown spots, larger ones cut in half
* 5 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
* 1 six-ounce can of tomato paste.  (Mine had been opened to remove a tablespoon for another recipe.   If you have it, add the whole can.)
* 2 plum tomatoes, quartered or so
* 1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, diced.  Seeds removed or retained depending on heat tolerance.  Any other pepper can be substituted.  (This one just happened to be in the fridge at the time.)
* 2 cloves diced garlic
* 3 sprigs of curry leaves (try two if you have the fresh, not frozen, leaves); remove stems.
* 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
* Salt and pepper to taste

Get the ghee/oil hot on medium-high in a high sided skillet or pot.  Add the cumin and fennel seeds.  Cook until brown (alternatively you can dry-fry them and add the ghee right after).  This will take 2-3 minutes.

Add the onion, stir around, let it get translucent, about ten minutes.

Add mushrooms and okra, allow to cook another 5-10, until the mushrooms are noticeably cooked.

Add the tomato paste, the tomatoes, hot pepper, salt and ground pepper, garlic, curry leaves,  and turmeric.  Mix around for about five minutes, then reduce heat to a very low simmer, and cover.  We want a little liquid to develop.    About 15 minutes.

PS:  there was little if any mucus in the okra, and it still had a little welcome crunch. And it is great fun to find a batch of items in danger of going bad, and treat them RIGHT before they really do so, without having to run out to supplement at the grocery!  And this one makes a great recipe actually to plan for, if one is so inclined (I do realize a lot of people don’t have a stash of Indian spices to hand at the ready, as I do).

I now have two lunches ready for work next week.  Yay, team.

Okra, Onion, Tomato, Mushroom, Recipe, Indian

Team Veggie Salvage Prep, and a bit overexposed photo!

My recommendation for keeping spices to hand: Online — Source Penzey’s, source Kalustyans, source Savory Spice Shop, AND additionally, source your local Indian or far Eastern market, and buy those spices.  Unlike herbs, spices have a long shelf life, especially the ones you buy whole.  If you do source herbs in advance, many (not all) can be frozen for future use.  Yes, some are expensive, but since you’d be using them in tremendously small quantities, this is cost-effective for the flavor factor down the road.   (Maybe not quality saffron, but at some near point I plan to grow my own saffron crocuses.  It’s the hand by hand harvesting of saffron that makes it shopping-prohibitive, not the plant itself).  Buy just a few spices at a time, and learn what you like, and what you seriously desire to taste!





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Just Ducky V: Braised Legs and (Optional) Backs, with Plum

This one owes a lot to the Zenbelly Cookbook, by Simone Miller .  It’s highly recommended (the book, not necessarily my adaptation of one recipe, although I seriously did enjoy this…).  I like her approach to wholesome food and a good variety of flavor.  She’s worked as a professional chef, and has a catering company named Zenbelly.  All her recipes are gluten-free.  The book is available both in paperback and on e-readers.    I’m looking forward to trying many of her vegetarian dishes as well as her seafood delectables.

Duck leg, Recipe, Plums, Duck

Duck Leg on Pan Drippings, Accompanied by Plums

My duck came out of the freezer with legs attached to the back.  You can separate them or leave them together, just smash them down so you can brown up the skin.  Or you can save up the backs (and/or necks) for future stock.  At any rate, I was surprised I hadn’t posted any leg recipes in my Just Ducky series!  I mean, I’d been getting the entire birds!  My last delivery (Marwin Farm) was a year ago, and these guys were lurking in the depths of the upright stand-alone, and it was time for them to see the light of the cooking pot.

Duck legs, Recipe, Onions, Duck

Onions ready to go!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes to sear each load of duck, if you have more than fits to sear in one pot.  15 -20 minutes for onion (5 for shallot).  2 hours to braise in oven.  15-20 minutes with plums and crisping.  
Rest Time: 15 minutes.
Serves:  3-4.

Duck legs, Duck, Recipe

Duck after searing, before braising, and ready for the oven

Duck, four legs, optional two backs, optional necks.
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 really large onion, sliced (shallots are in the book, but I wasn’t going to dash out for two missing ingredients), or a couple small ones.
Ground pepper to taste
A few sprigs of fresh thyme (if you have — that was the other ingredient I didn’t dash out for, but thyme makes everything savory taste better…)
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup chicken broth/stock   (the total volume of these liquids may depend on the size of your braising dish. I eyeball and don’t measure this.)  Go for low sodium whether homemade or store-bought.  Or add less salt in yourself during the earlier stages.
About a pound of plums.  This is about 4 large ones, or maybe ten-twelve small ones (considering the latter have proportionally greater pits to flesh ratio).
About a tablespoon additional of that duck fat, for the plum stage.

Pre-heat your oven to 300 F.


Heat your oven-safe tall-sided Dutch oven or other appropriate large pot to medium high.  You can use a regular skillet but it’s nice not to have to dirty up additional pans.

Quickly salt your duck with just a little of the salt, both sides.

Add in duck, skin side down, it will generate its own cooking fat.  If the legs are connected by the back, smush it down so all the skin on that side has contact with the heat.  You may have to cut into it a bit so this works, but it should.

Sear about 7 minutes, not burning but browning.  Flip and sear another five minutes on the flesh side.

Remove duck and set aside.

Drain off all but one tablespoon of duck fat (reserve for duck fat purposes)!

Cook the onions or shallots in the same pan.  Shallots are ready by five minutes, for onions I often like to carmelize them lightly — so say 20 minutes in the skillet, turning often.  Add the rest of the salt, and some ground pepper.

Leaving the allium family members in the pot, introduce the liquids (wine and broth), and raise the heat to a boil, meanwhile deglazing the pan by using a spatula to scrape up any adhered bits in the pan.  Let this boil one minute.

Add the duck, skin side up.  The skin parts should be more or less above liquid level.

One interesting contribution from the Zenbelly Cookbook is the addition of parchment paper.  Cut or tear off enough to cover your legs and all, wrap directly over the top of the meat — she uses the word, “snug” — then cover the pot with a lid.

Oven Braising:

Braise in the oven for 2 hours.  If some of the duck has to overlap other pieces of duck, so be it.  It will still cook through in the same amount of time.

Remove from oven.  Do be careful removing the parchment — I’d recommend tongs and stepping back, as this will release steam.

15-Minute Roasted Plums

15-Minute Roasted Plums

Plum Wonderful:

At this point, one can either proceed ahead, or put the duck (once sufficiently cooled) into the fridge for the final stage at a later date.  I opted for the later, for two reasons.

1) I like to remove excess fat when something like this is cooked — reserved, in this case, since it will be nutritionally healthy duck fat from a local farm.  Once this dish is cold, scraping off the fat is child’s play.

2) Well, I also didn’t have the plums, but I just saw wonderful ones at my Whole Foods, better than I’d ever seen at any area supermarket, and this will give me the chance to go back and get some.  (And the duck had to be cooked when I cooked it, as I’d thawed it a couple days ago, so it was just like Floating Holidays at work: use ‘em or lose ‘em…)

In the immediate gratification case:  

If going to this next step immediately, I’d follow the Zenbelly advice and:

Pre-heat your oven to a toasty 450 F.

Put the duck into a separate pan, a wide cookie sheet is advisable so that everything can fit.

Rinse the plums and slice into quarters, removing the pits.  Use about 1 tablespoon duck fat to coat your plums, and place in the oven, in the pan with the duck, for 15 minutes, or until the skin crisps up.

Remove from oven and allow to rest, about 10-15 minutes.

In the original pot, your juices are still here.  Pour any plum drippings in, and bring to a boil.  Allow to thicken, 2-5 minutes.

Plate, either individual plates or the entire platter:  the juices / sauce first, the duck served skin side up on top of the sauce, and the plums arranged around the bird.

In the delayed gratification case:

The day you want to make the final meal, please pre-heat oven to 475 F.

Bring the duck out of the fridge and allow 25-30 minutes for it to come close to room temp.  Meanwhile, while it is still cold, scrape off and reserve any fat.  Fat without underlying stuff can last close to six weeks in your fridge.  Any underlying stuff will vastly decrease the shelf life to, oh, a week.

I think the duck needs more time to crisp up (20 minutes) in this scenario, while the plums will be cooking at the same time as in the immediate gratification method (15 minutes).  Besides, my wide cookie pan is hidden away somewhere (this is a disfunctionally-small kitchen, and so I store seldom-used things elsewhere).

In whatever pan you do use, cook the duck for about 20 minutes, or until the skin crisps up.  Remove, and cook the plums, coated with the aforementioned tablespoon of duck fat, for 15.

In the original pot, your juices are still here.  Pour any plum drippings in, and bring to a boil.  Allow to thicken, 2-5 minutes.

Plate, either individual plates or the entire platter:  the juices / sauce first, the duck served skin side up on top of the sauce, and the plums arranged around the bird.

This is GOOD!

Duck Legs, Duck, Recipe

Duck, after roasting, before crisping.

Don’t forget to reserve the bones for your next stock.

Duck Legs, Duck, Duck Fat

A little jar of nutritious duck fat.





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Roasted Lamb Shoulder, with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

PS:  I now have a Recipe Index up at the top of this blog.  Definitely it helps to remind me what I’ve already posted, and what I thought I posted, but apparently did not…


I simply cooked up a most awesome meal!!!  It would be perfect for a small dinner party of six, although this is ending up being parts of my lunch-bring-to-work-plan for next week.  At least I know this one is a keeper and a good idea for any lamb-loving visitors!

Lamb Shoulder Roast, Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Recipe, Paleo

The platter is much larger than it looks. It can hold a small turkey. This is a lot of meat and will last many meals.

A couple of years ago, I bought a half a lamb from a local farm, and while nearly all of this is long gone, I found a vacuum-packed lamb shoulder lurking in the back of the upright freezer which lives in the garage.  (Food does last longer in these stand-alone uprights or chests because you do (or should) periodically need to defrost them.  The frost-free freezers that come with your fridge go through periodic cycling modes, raising and lowering the temperature, which keeps them frost-free but increases the chance for freezer burn, and wears out your food faster.)

I’ve cooked shoulder chops (yum!) and leg of lamb (yum!) before, but not a whole shoulder, which in this case clocked in at 5.85 pounds, with bone-in.   So I simply surfed around to find a good time and temp to roast it at, and then I’d go from there.

I adapted this Jamie Oliver recipe:

Incredible Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Smashed Vegetables and Greens.

Since he also recommends pastured lamb, I figured his timings and temperature(s) should be on the money — often quality grass-fed animals will cook differently than your supermarket stressed-out variety.

Since Jamie Oliver is overall a good cook, I figured I’d adapt his recipe in other regards, too — but using what I had on hand rather than running off to the supermarket for the sides that he used. Besides, doing a riff in the kitchen is always fun!

He uses plenty of fresh rosemary, and I thought I could find my jar of dried rosemary, but couldn’t, so I subbed with some fresh thyme I had on hand for a different recipe, as well as with  some Penzy’s Herbes de Provence, whose first ingredient is rosemary.

Roast Lamb Shoulder, Recipe, Paleo

Prior to cooking, prep up the lamb.

Prep Time:  15 minutes but you’ll prep some more while the lamb is cooking.
Cook Time:  4 hours 15 minutes.
Rest time for the lamb:  ~25 minutes (during which you’ll do some veggie cook time).
Serves 6 for the lamb.  2 or 6 for the veggies depending on what procedure interests you.

Roast Shoulder of Lamb

The Lamb, Initial Prep:

1 Shoulder of lamb (5-6 pounds, but less will work fine, too.
5-8 bulbs garlic, peeled and chopped
Several rosemary sprigs (or sub dried rosemary leaves; or sub as I did:  several sprigs of thyme + a teaspoon of Herbes de Provence).
Salt and pepper
A teaspoon of avocado or olive oil.

Preheat oven to MAXIMUM.  (You won’t be keeping the temperature there.)

Fat side up:  Make slits in the fat where ever you want.  Early and often, as they say about voting…

Sprinkle half of the rosemary (thyme) and half of the garlic on the bottom of the deep-sided cooking pan you will use, in an area of the pan that will be directly under the shoulder.

Rub the shoulder with just a little oil on both sides, a little goes a LONG way.  Rub all sides with salt (I used Himalayan), ground pepper, and the Herbes de Provence, if using.

Put the shoulder in the pan on top of the aforementioned rosemary (thyme) and garlic, fat side up.

Add the rest of the rosemary (thyme) and garlic to the top, tucking some of these seasonings into the slits.

Tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil, and place in oven.

Immediately reduce heat to 325 F.

Allow to cook for 4 (FOUR) hours.  For three of those, go have fun doing something else, like maybe the laundry.   Yep, hate doing the laundry but…

Pull the roast out of the oven, and as soon as it is cool enough to handle, remove it to a platter and keep it tented.  The gravy is discussed below.

Lamb Shoulder Roast, Paleo, Recipe

The shoulder is resting. And providing a wondrous kitchen aroma.

The Veggies:

I’m doing this for me at home, so although the lamb and its sauce (below) will serve six more or less, I don’t want the veggies to provide more than two servings, so I can switch out to other things as the week progresses.  Eating exactly the same meal every time I serve the lamb roast is not a good idea.  Maybe a salad, Or two.  Or maybe roasted beets.  Anyhow switch things out depending on what’s in your fridge or garden.  Don’t eat bored!

* 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes (for two servings), 6 (for 6 servings).  Peeled.
* 1/4  teaspoon allspice.  Or a teaspoon for six.
* 6 ounces shaved  or chopped Brussels sprouts (for 2 servings),  1.5 pounds for 6 servings.  (or, shredded cabbage)
* 1 teaspoon butter or olive oil for the sweet potatoes.  (2 teaspoons for 6 servings.)  No I don’t exactly triple the level of fats when I upscale things.
* 2 teaspoons butter for the brussels sprouts. (4 teaspoons for 6 servings)
* 1 teaspoon vinegar or lime/lime juice for the sweet potatoes.  1 tablespoon for 6 servings.
* salt and pepper.

Boil the sweet potatoes vigorously 20 – 30 minutes until soft, check, and check.

Drain off water, mash with a fork or a potato masher, with the butter or oil, and with the allspice.  Plus a little salt and pepper.

In a skillet, heat up the butter and add in the Brussels sprouts plus a touch of salt and pepper.  Stir fry until the sprouts begin to brown, around 8 minutes.


For the gravy, no matter if you are serving yourself for the week, or for a dinner party:  

* About 1 cup drippings (see below)
* 2 teaspoons tapioca flour.  (Make substitutions if you wish.)
* 1.5 tablespoons of capers, lightly rinsed, if you have them (optional)
* 1/2 teaspoon vinegar (or lemon juice)

Your roast is on its carving platter, and your drippings are in their pan…

Gently pour off most of the drippings — fats will mostly be in the top.  Reserve to put into the fridge for later, when you can truly separate the rest of the fat from the stock.

Leave about 1 cup in the pan.  This should still be hot, and will be mostly stock (with a little fat).

Add two teaspoons of the flour to what remains in the pan, and whisk vigorously with a fork or a whisk.  Tapioca goes in easily.  Don’t add too much, we don’t need this to be thick!  Tapioca seems a bit “gritty” if too much is used.

Add the capers, if using, and vinegar – and mix further.

To your lamb shoulder platter:  Plate the veggies and then pour most of the gravy over the dish, including over the veggies.  If you made a full amount of veggies for six, you could probably pour all of it over.  I had extra.


(This smelled so GOOD I probably ate a little more than I should have.  That’s okay, I’m pacing out my containers for the work week!)

The Evil Spell-Check wants me to change the spelling of “thyme” to “time”.  I doubt the Evil Spell-Check has ever cooked anything in its life… 







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Osso Buco Style in the Slow Cooker — but with a Fresh Pork Hock

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Osso Buco.  It probably didn’t run in my circles or something, besides it is usually veal and it is extremely hard to justify how those supermarket calves are raised.  But even back in the days decades ago when we ate veal Parmesan, Osso Buco was just something we heard about, but apparently never tried, as far as I can recollect.

Nowadays you can occasionally find humanely raised veal, not reared up in a crate separated from mama, and I’ve tried some, but I’ve never ended up with a shank of veal.

But I do have an un-smoked pork hock. The hock is the piggy equivalent of the shank.

osso buco, pork hock, pork shank, fresh, recipe

Ready to eat, excuse that overlarge segment of zest to the left!

With a smoked hock, I’d probably wait until I could scare up some collard greens at a farmer’s market (ie, wait another year) and create my fave southern dish.  Or at least my fave southern dish with its soul somewhere north and east of New Orleans.

I bought the hock on a whim through my meat CSA.  Odd cuts are cheap, for one.  And flavorful, despite usually needing a long cook time.  It remained in my freezer until a couple days ago.  And then I wondered?  What would I like to do with it?  Pork and beans?  Naw, not for a good pasture-raised porker!  Well, at least not this time!  Soup?  Porcine bone broth?  I have some pig’s feet in my freezer for just that occurrence, so not this time.  Fresh pork hock and cabbage?  I have cabbage available, but I have other plans for that. Not this time… Besides cabbage almost cries out piteously for the pork to be smoked.

Osso buco!

Yes, osso buco is a Milanese Italian dish associated with veal, or at the very least, beef.  But “Osso Buco” doesn’t mean “Veal”, although the dish is intrinsically associated with veal  — the phrase means “Bone with a Hole”, according to Wikipedia.

Being porcine, the flavors will definitely be different, I’m certain.  But that doesn’t matter.  It may still be an honorable way to treat the pig.  However, let it be noted I will have no way to compare it to the veal version, since as noted I doubt I’ve ever eaten that.

Note:  For the same approximate size veal shank to pork hock, there’s more of a bone to meat ratio in the pork hock.  I noted this by looking at the veal shanks in my local supermarket a couple days ago.

Prep time:  40 minutes including browning
Cook time: slow cooker 6-7 hours on low
Rest time: 15 minutes
Serves 2-3 including some soup

Pork Hock-Inspired “Osso Buco”

* 1.33 pounds pork hock, bone in.  (Hey, you can always sub in veal!)
* 1/2 medium/large onion, nicely diced.
* 1 stalk celery, nicely diced.
* 1 regular-sized parsnip (or carrot), peeled and sliced thin.
* 1/4 cup (or less) coconut flour.  PS, the coconut flour didn’t add any coconut flavorings.)
* 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced.
* 2-3 large plum tomatoes, diced.
* 1 cup boxed low sodium veggie broth (or homemade).
* 1/2 cup dry white wine – Pinot Grigio might be appropriate.  Nothing fancy or expensive.
* 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
* 4 good sprigs of fresh thyme.
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano.
* Salt and Pepper to taste.

And then there is the traditional gremolata, which you can use to top the dish off, or not:

* 1-2 anchovies packed in olive oil, and finely chopped up..
* Zest from one lemon, in small pieces
* 2 large cloves garlic, minced.
* a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped.

Gremolata recipe

Gremolata can be chopped more finely than depicted but it still tasted great. Contains garlic, parsley, anchovy, and lemon zest.

Making your osso buco:

Pat dry and then season your pork shank / hock with salt and pepper all around.  Roll it in the flour until all surfaces are covered.  (If you do use a veal shank, it seems you may need to tie it together before doing anything else, with twine.  That’s what all the recipes say.  The pork hock doesn’t need such help.)

Using a pat of butter in your skillet, heat it to mid-high.  Add the hock, browning it on all sides, about 3-5 minutes a side depending on your heat level.

Add the onions, celery and parsnips (carrots if using) to the slow cooker, then place the hock in, on top of the veggies.

Use some of the wine to de-glaze your skillet, and with your spatula transfer these contents to the crock pot.

Add everything else except the gremolata ingredients to the slow cooker pot.

Cover and cook in the slow cooker for about 6-7 hours on low.

When close to being ready, prepare the gremolata by mixing the ingredients together.  For a finer topping than I made, use a mini food processor, or better yet, chop more finely.  (It was now a little later at night than I’d planned, and I was impatient to dine!)

Remove the hock, and place on a platter, discarding the thyme sprigs.  Add a few scoops of the veggies and sauce over it.

Then top with some of the gremolata.

Osso buco, pork shank, fresh pork hock, recipe

Osso Buco styled fresh pork shank

Serve with a tasty side salad dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Pork hocks as previously mentioned are mostly bone — this recipe serves one or two depending on sides with enough sauce left over for a small soup on a subsequent day.   (So, use more than one hock and double or triple the recipe!)  You can also find a larger pork shank than I had to hand – I remember one Octoberfest at a local German restaurant where they came out with the intensely-sized roasted pig hock!

I did turn this particular dish into two servings with a judicious use of sides.  And some of the juices and remaining veggies in the crock pot made a nice small serving of soup, too.

It is traditional to serve veal osso buco with risotto — but frankly, I don’t like soggy rice; I like my rice Indian, Japanese or Thai-styled.  Perhaps a different tradition with pork?   (Maybe pan-fried unsweetened apple slices with some nutmeg or allspice???)  At any rate, I passed, and went with salad.

I surfed down several recipes to develop this; this one probably had the most impact on the above dish, but I wanted to use non-canned plum tomatoes, and when I discovered gremolata traditionally contains anchovies, I decided to incorporate those, too.  Slow Cooker Osso Buco.




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Pomegranate Spritzer

I totally loathe this Wake Up One Hour Earlier Nonsense, aka Daylight “Savings” Time, here in most of the US.  Back in the years when it fell on a weekend near April Fool’s, I considered it an April Fool’s Joke in very bad taste.  (I also remembered the October switch-over back then as a very bad prank on Halloween-trick-or-treaters, who now had to go out in the dark.  Though the dates have changed, this is how I remember this stuff.  Spring Forward?  Nope, I really feeling like I’m springing backwards, which is not a way for remembering anything.  I’ve lost an hour that I probably never will ever regain…)

Pomegranate, spritzer, seltzer, anti-oxidant, beverage, recipe

Pomegranate Spritzer

Pick a time.  STICK WITH IT!  Don’t mess with my bio-rhythms!

Before I get to the Pomegranate Spritzer, I want to put in a plug for Russ Crandall’s upcoming book, Paleo Take Out:  Restaurant Favorites Without the Guilt.  I’ve volunteered to test drive one of the recipes this week — no, I can’t post the recipe (it’s for a real live BOOK), but if I get good photos, I can certainly post those here.  Today I’ve picked up all but two ingredients — but I simply refuse to walk into three grocery stores in one day!  And I know the third store has the best quality for price for these ingredients than the other two.   I’ll be testing Russ’ Hot and Sour Soup, my litmus test for a good Chinese restaurant.  (Honestly, most of the ingredients were already to hand — it was just a few things.)

If you are not familiar with Russ Crandall, he runs the blog, The Domestic Man, and has already published cookbooks.  The first is out there in print and in electronic form:  The Ancestral Table.  The second is strictly an e-book, obtainable from his website, The Safe Starch Cookbook, (which unfortunately got downloaded to my old computer shortly before it died (the computer, not the book, but I will be able to retrieve wanted files soon…)  The reason I seriously like his recipes, his blog, and The Ancestral Table — is he’s not afraid to make recipes from around the world, and create them in healthy formats.  He posts a new recipe every Tuesday.

And I also picked up ingredients for an Indian riata that will appear soon on my blog here, too.  Been wanting to blog about riata for ages, but somehow thought I already had!)  You can also expect a few other recipes here very soon: an Indian-inspired goat curry recipe; a roasted lamb shoulder recipe, and a scalloped potato/cabbage/cheese vegetarian recipe.

The other thing is — I’m now creating a Recipe Index page here, which will appear at top along side Home and About, at the top of this blog.  Going through the recipes here make me realize how many good standbys I’ve left out, assuming, I think, that I’ve already posted them.  This should appear in two or three days.  Maybe sooner.  Do Enjoy!

Back to the Pomegranate Spritzer:  

This is entirely too simple, but I love it two or three times a week.

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a high anti-oxidant, as shown by the deep red-purple color of its fruit.  It is native to a region extending from current-day Iran to northern India, and was widely cultivated in the Mediterranean from antiquity.  It is a pain to open up these fruits, and you certainly don’t want to be wearing white!

However, fruit juices concentrate down a LOT of fruit.  It’s said that a regular glass of OJ provides the sugar levels of 6 oranges in several quick gulps.  Plus, most OJ is consumed with all the pulp removed.

Growing up, Mom provided hand-juiced orange juice with all the pulp, using a manual juicer.  To this day, the only way I like OJ is straight up, with pulp, and undiluted (mimosas non-withstanding).  Okay, I have put blood oranges in “blends” I’ve created that have focused on veggies rather than fruits.

I’ve decided orange juice is really not part of my healthy life, per se.  But pomegranate…

Pomegranate is sweet and tart, very tart.  I find I like diluting it vastly.  I can get the anti-oxidants and far less sugar, and to me it tastes very good this way – much more accessible than full strength, and less likely to make a mess so long as I watch how I put that glass down!

The brands of pomegranate juice that I’ve noticed which are good are Pom Wonderful, and Bolthouse Farms.  There may be more, but these I can find in my supermarket, and they both seem pretty pure.  As always, read labels!

Regards sugar, I don’t need to add it — if you personally do, stay with more wholesome sources.  If you like sweet but aren’t supposed to do added sugars, you can try stevia.  To me, stevia tastes like what I’d imagine old dirty socks might taste like — perhaps my reaction is something genetic like how some folks think cilantro tastes like soap?  But if you think it tastes sweet, Do It!

Prep Time:  Assuming the ingredients are chilled — seconds.
Cook Time:  Zilch.
Rest Time:  Zilch.
Serves one per tumbler.

Pomegranate Spritzer

1 part chilled pomegranate juice (find the stuff that’s pure juice).
3 parts chilled seltzer water (I make my own using a SodaStream, but any source works).
Optional:  Sweetener (start with 1/8 teaspoon of either honey or coconut palm sugar, or the equivalent sweetening amount of stevia, if making in a water glass tumbler.  Work up, if needed.  Since I don’t tolerate the “taste” of stevia, see the link below for a conversion table…)
Optional:  Ice.

Make enough to fill one water tumbler per person.  Or, make enough to fill a one-liter seltzer bottle — just drink up the one-quarter volume you use, first.

Add any sweetener to the juice, and mix, prior to combining with any seltzer.  Personally, I’m fine without adding any, but I’ve come to realize a lot of people might want some.

Stevia to sugar conversion table.  I have not tested this as I detest the taste of stevia, but if your genetic heritage or whatever tastes this as sweet, use it.

By the way, if you use the SodaStream, don’t ever spritz up a beverage with your flavor or juice already included — spritz just the water and pour it over your flavor or juice.  Real Bad Carbon Dioxide Juju, especially if your juice is something as purple as pomegranate!

Or, as noted, pour off one-quarter of the seltzer (already made, or bought) from the bottle, and add your juice (with or without sweetener) gently.

You know what to do with the ice.

pomegranate, seltzer, spritzer, recipe

Pomegranate Spritzer – ready and waiting




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Pan Fried Monkfish with Simmered Greens and Mushrooms

Monkfish, Greens, Mushrooms, Cilantro, recipe

Monkfish dish with the nearly forgotten cilantro!

Monkfish is a rather homely (to us — they probably look just fine to each other) denizen of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  It allegedly tastes like,  and has the texture of, lobster tail.  I can see the resemblance, but it’s not a fully convincing substitute.  And, actually, most of the fish doesn’t end up available for human consumption — it’s just the tail.  I assume the rest of it gets ground up for feeding at fish farms, or maybe for your pet’s dinner.  I suspect without proof that the rest of the fish may be rather bony.  It’s not something I will buy very often, but the fact that this particular fish was caught locally bent the scales (as it were) here.

Monkfish, recipe

0.8 lb uncooked monkfish tail in an 8 inch skillet

Usually when I do make this, I bake it in the oven.  I decided to try pan-frying it.  It wasn’t going to cook completely through in a skillet, so I cut pieces to thicknesses of one inch or less.  The tip of the tail, and then monkfish “steaks”.

Monkfish, recipe

These actually all fit in that skillet!

 Prep Time: 15 minutes.
Cook Time:  20 minutes.
Rest Time:  None.
Serves 2it generates a lot of water upon cooking.

Pan Fried Monkfish with Mushrooms and Greens

Recipe:  (The fish makes two servings – it generates a lot of liquid upon cooking.)

* 0.75 – 0.85 pounds monkfish, sliced or cut into sections no larger than 1/2 inch thick.
* 1/4 lemon or 1/2 lime, with a slice of either reserved for later
* 1 teaspoon cooking oil (butter, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil, or coconut oil)
* Cracked ground pepper to taste
* Optional small pinch of red pepper flakes
* 2-4 ounces sliced button mushrooms per person (4-8 ounces for two)
* 2-5 ounces cooking greens per person (4-10 ounces for two).  Remove any thick stems from things like Swiss chard or kale.

* For garnish:  fresh cilantro; juice from the reserved slice of lemon or lime mentioned above.


Marinate the fish in the black pepper and lemon/lime juice for about 10-15 minutes.

Get your oil to sizzling hot in your skillet — then add the fish, layer it around the skillet so that all pieces are cooking, and add the red pepper flakes if you are so inclined.

Reduce heat to medium low, and cook on each side for 4-5 minutes a side.

Flip back to first side for approximately another 30 seconds, and then remove fish but not liquid.   Tent the fish under foil, and let it rest.

Add the mushrooms to the skillet, and some more cracked ground pepper.  There will be a lot of water from the monkfish when you cook; this is where the simmer part comes in.  When they begin to get that shiny “cooking” look on their outsides, add in the greens.  (If you are using older cooking greens — ie, mature Swiss chard or the stems from bok choy, add those in when you first add the mushrooms.)  For the baby greens I used, 3 minutes of skillet time was sufficient.  Otherwise this may take 5-8 minutes.

When the greens are wilted, plate the greens and mushrooms without the excess liquid.  Add the monkfish.

Garnish with a squeeze of lemon (or lime) and with the optional cilantro.

Monkfish, recipe, greens, mushrooms

If you use a lot of greens, do use a larger skillet! (These were the only greens I had left in the fridge on this occasion due to long and involved reasons — personally I’d have preferred more.)  Notice all the juices from the monkfish!

An optional variation for an Asian flavor:  use sesame oil (toasted or untoasted), and add in about a teaspoon of freshly shaved ginger root and upon serving, a splash of tamari sauce (I am partial to San-J’s gluten-free low-sodium tamari/soy sauce, as it is delicate enough for seafood), or a Thai fish sauce.  In such a case, bok choy would be an excellent green to cook with the fish.

Monkfish, recipe, mushrooms, greens

Just about ready to eat!  (Two bites in, I remembered I’d left out the cilantro.  Can’t do that!  Added it – check top photo!!)

PS, the other serving of fish I made was eaten cold, later, on the road.  This really saves on having to decide between Drunken Donuts and Mac’s Steak House, especially since I do NOT like trail mix, and the nuts in trail mix don’t particularly like me.  Nor do I like the “food” at either of those two establishments.

(This recipe was made back in 2014.  Time Machine drifting back through old drafts on WordPress…)



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Quinoa in the Rice Cooker

I have to admit, when I first saw this word, I thought it would be pronounced Kin-Oh-Ah, and went by this misconception for some time.  After all, that’s what it looked like.  People started talking about Keen-Wah, and I hadn’t a clue as to what they meant.  Seriously.

Quinoa, rice cooker,  recipe, broth

Cilantro doesn’t taste like soap to me…

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a “pseudo-cereal” or “pseudo-grain”, and is in the same family as amaranth.  It is native to Peru and was cultivated by pre-Columbian cultures in that region of the world.  It is high in iron and protein, and is considered by some to be a “superfood”, whatever that really means.  (The spell checker isn’t sure, either…)

I tried cooking the stuff a couple of times a few years back on the range, but epic FAIL.  I’m not sure what went wrong, and at this date there’s no point in trying to figure this out.  So until now, I’ve simply been eating it out, or taking it home from the salad bar at Whole Foods.

quinoa, rice cooker, recipe, broth

“QuinoaGrains” by User:Ben_pcc. – Bob’s Red Mill, organic product.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:QuinoaGrains.jpg#mediaviewer/File:QuinoaGrains.jpg

However:  Rice Cooker Quinoa, attempted for the first time tonight, is an Epic Success in this household!  (This is also the first time I’ve tried cooking anything other than sushi rice in the thing — I stumbled upon a whole world of rice cooker recipes that aren’t rice on YouTube the other day…  As the unfortunately-late Leonard Nimoy [Spock] would say:  “Fascinating.”)

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time: about 20-25 minutes, I wasn’t watching
Rest time:  with the added veggies, another 5-10 min.
Serves 2.

Rice Cooker Quinoa

* One rice cooker (if you don’t have, use a pot on your range, and watch constantly and perhaps you will have better luck than I did…)
* 1/2 cup quinoa
* 1 cup liquid, I went with nutritious, gelatinous homemade chicken stock.  You can also do boxed low sodium chicken broth, homemade vegetable broth, boxed low sodium veggie broth, or just plain old boring water.
* About ten cherry tomatoes, sliced in half.
* About an ounce of mung bean sprouts.
* Half teaspoon of ground chipotle chili powder.
* Salt and pepper to taste.
* Cilantro for garnish

(Actually, use whatever veggies you have to hand that sound appealing.  The cherry tomato glut was due to having a pot luck dinner cancelled on account of snow, and the mung beans due to an urge for making something Asian for the Lunar New Year, which I posted recently — although this dish was made earlier.  Didn’t want two starches posted in a row!)

Put the quinoa and the liquid into the rice cooker, and set to the ” Brown Rice” setting.  Since my stock is concentrated (and stored in the freezer in small containers), I added enough water to the stock to bring it to a one-cup volume.

Within a half hour or less, the quinoa will be done.

Add in the tomatoes, sprouts and seasonings, fluff with a fork, close lid back down for another ten minutes, then serve with a little (or  a lot) of cilantro.  Or save for workday lunches.

Optional:  If you prefer to sprout your grains or pseudo-grains prior to cooking, these quinoa things will sprout in about two hours of soaking in water.

Quinoa, rice cooker, recipe, broth

More than just rice!

I am thinking there might be a lot of other things to do with this techno-beast.  I bought it shortly before going very very  low-grain in my personal food plan, and this should be a venue for further experimentation!  (PS, I don’t consider myself standard “Paleo/Primal” since I find nutritious value in rice, quinoa, fermented soy, lentils and some other beans, especially if one regards real limits.  And the occasional potato, which is now okay there, it seems.  But I definitely approve of what the overall Paleo movement is trying to bring to the, ahem, table.)

I remain Low Starch!





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