Another day of cooking

Fun and very easy dinner shared here.  It is interesting having my six year old granddaughter for the summer, as she has very specific likes and VERY specific dislikes.  No tomatoes, but loves tomato sauces.  So the other night I bought some Lamb Loin Chops and rubbed them with lots of herbs from my garden and olive oil.  We grilled them quickly on barbecue and that was a huge hit, just simple and delicious. Carrots are high on her lists of favorite veggies, so sautéed with butter and fresh dill from the garden and they were devoured.  Funny, but that is the one cooked vegetable I do NOT love.  She kept asking me why I didn’t eat the carrots.  America’s Test Kitchen bread, with very little kneading was totally tasty and another big hit with Claire and my husband.  But risotto with Reggiano Parmesano was not in her palate, so she would not even try it, even though she loves cheese and loves rice.  So you never know what will make it and what will not.  The salad with greens from my garden, tomatoes and avocados, was a “don’t bother to put on her plate”.  I don’t think I liked lettuce or tomatoes at that age either.

Since the most of the dinner was simple and as easy as described I will just post the recipe for the bread.

Almost No-Knead Bread

A no-fuss recipe that is revolutionizing home baking trades flavor and reliability for ease. Could we improve the bread’s bland taste and make it rise high every time?

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To avoid lengthy and tiresome kneading, we let our bread dough sit for 8 to 18 hours, during which a process called autolysis develops gluten—the protein that gives baked breads their bubbly, chewy crumb structure. After that, just 15 seconds of kneading does the trick. To give our bread more flavor than standard no-knead recipes, we add vinegar for acidic tang and lager beer for extra yeastiness. We bake the bread in a preheated covered pot to create steam, producing a springy interior, and then finish baking it uncovered for a beautifully browned crust.

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

Makes 1 large round loaf

3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
6 tablespoons mild-flavored lager
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Vegetable oil spray

Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild nonalcoholic lager also works). In step 3, start the 30-minute timer as soon as you put the bread in the cold oven. Do not wait until the oven has preheated to start your timer or the bread will burn. The bread is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to two days.

1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together in large bowl. Add water, lager, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.

2. Lay 18 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and spray with oil spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam side down, to center of parchment and spray surface of dough with oil spray. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Remove plastic from pot. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Cover pot and place in oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake bread for 30 minutes.

4. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours.

TEN STEPS TO EASY RUSTIC BREAD

1. HAND-MIX INGREDIENTS: Combine flour, yeast, and salt; then stir in water, beer, and vinegar and fold it all together. No mixer required.

WHY? This bread will form gluten as it sits, so there’s no need for a lot of mixing at the start.

2. LET REST: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.

WHY? Much like kneading, letting the dough sit develops gluten through a process called autolysis.

3. PREPARE PARCHMENT: Spray an 18 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper lightly with vegetable oil spray.

WHY? You’ll use the parchment to move the dough from the counter to the Dutch oven for its second rise, and to remove the bread from the pot after baking.

4. KNEAD DOUGH: Transfer the dough to a floured counter and knead it just 10 to 15 times.

WHY? During the long rest, the proteins in the dough break down, making it easier to manipulate, and with less than a minute of kneading, the gluten has been sufficiently developed.

5. SHAPE AND LET RISE: Form the dough into a ball, place it on the parchment, and transfer it to a Dutch oven. Then cover it and let it rise for 2 hours.

WHY? Once shaped, the dough undergoes its final rise, during which the yeast produces carbon dioxide to make the dough puff.

6. SLASH DOUGH: Use a sharp knife or razor to cut one 6-inch- long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along the top of the dough.

WHY? Slashing the dough allows steam to escape so the loaf bakes evenly, preventing splits and cracks.

7. COVER UP: Place the cover on the pot.

WHY? The covered pot produces a steamy environment that gives the loaf an open crumb structure.

8. START IT COLD: Place the covered pot in a cold oven. Heat the oven to 425 degrees and bake the bread for 30 minutes.

WHY? Starting the bread in a cold oven ensures against burning the bottom, and the bread rises just as much as in a preheated oven.

9. REMOVE COVER: Uncover the pot and continue to bake the bread until it is deep brown and its center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes more.

WHY? After the steamy environment has created the ideal interior texture, uncovering the pot allows the crust to brown and crisp.

10. LET COOL AND SERVE: Remove the bread from the pot and place it on a rack to cool for about 2 hours before slicing.

WHY? There’s still a lot of moisture trapped inside the hot bread. As the bread sits, the steam escapes giving the cooled loaf just the right texture.

Another day of cooking

Asian Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw

Asian Style pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw

The other day at the grocery store there was a package of pork at a very reduced price, so I grabbed it, never knowing exactly what I might make. It was getting past its prime so looked for a recipe online.

America’s Test Kitchen has yet to let me down for a good result, so this one looked interesting and it was very tasty.  My husband prefers flour tortillas, so I bought the fresh ones from our local Central Market, where they make them while you watch.  I have yet to find a good source for homemade corn tortillas.  If anyone has a local source please share it with me.

I threw the ingredients in the slow cooker about noon, and it was ready for dinner.  I have an All-Clad slow cooker that cooks much more evenly than any other I have used.  It is worth the extra money to have no burn spots.

Slow-Cooker Asian-Style Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear and Cucumber Slaw

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

This incredibly easy and multidimensional recipe features tender shredded pork, flavorful sauce, and a crunchy pickled slaw. We found that we could make a sauce and season our pork all at once by combining hoisin, ginger, and Sriracha in the slow cooker. Boneless country-style pork ribs were a great choice for the slow cooker; after a few hours of braising, they were moist and extra-tender. We let the cooked pork rest briefly before shredding it and stirring it back into the sauce. To add freshness and crunch to our tacos, we made a quick pickled slaw while the meat cooked. A simple combination of Asian pears, carrots, and cucumber tossed with rice vinegar provided the perfect balance to our rich taco filling. A little bit more sesame oil and Sriracha in the slaw brought together the flavors of the dish while keeping it light and fresh.

INGREDIENTS

2 Asian pears, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ cup  hoisin sauce
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1 ½ pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed of all visible fat
  Salt and pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
12 (6-inch)  corn tortillas, warmed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine pears, carrots, cucumber, and vinegar in bowl; set aside until ready to serve.
  2. Microwave onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon oil, and ginger in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in hoisin, water, and 1 teaspoon Sriracha. Nestle pork into slow cooker, cover, and cook until pork is tender, 2 to 3 hours on low.
  3. Transfer pork to carving board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks, discarding excess fat. Stir shredded pork into sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, remaining 1 teaspoon Sriracha, and cilantro to pear and cucumber slaw and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide shredded pork among warm tortillas and top with slaw. Serve.

 

Asian Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw

Just for the Halibut

Halibut with Parsley Garlic Butter

Whenever I see a “deal” on Halibut, I buy it fresh and change whatever dinner plans I have for the evening.  This was half off at our local Albertsons.  I will post the recipe below that came out beautifully.  Beware of two things with this recipe.  Splatters everywhere when you initially sear it, and really makes a lot of smoke in the oven.  Be ready with fan and cleanup.  The fish was moist and the Parsley Garlic Butter was just the right addition.  It was simple and simply delicious.

My husband is a beef and potatoes kind of guy, even though he does like Halibut.  I made the day before a Slow-Cooker Beef Pot Roast, so served that to him for his dinner. He loves cooked carrots, so I added in a few more for him.  Lots of chopping, but very easy and throw it all in crock pot after browning the roast, and cooking the onions and garlic. This would be lovely served over a simple polenta, as the flavors would sink in the polenta to a divine taste.  I left out the parsnips, as I did not have any and was too lazy to run to the store.

Rjoast with a Vegetable Ragout

Pan-Roasted Halibut Steaks

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

2 halibut steaks, each about 1 1/4 inches thick and 10 to 12 inches long (about 2 1/2 pounds total), gently rinsed, dried well with paper towels, and trimmed of cartilage at both ends

 

  Salt and ground black pepper

 

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 4 TO 6

This recipe calls for a heavy ovenproof skillet. If you plan to serve the fish with one of the flavored butters or sauces below, prepare it before cooking the fish. Even well-dried fish can cause the hot oil in the pan to splatter. You can minimize splattering by laying the halibut steaks in the pan gently and putting the edge closest to you in the pan first so the far edge falls away from you.

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. When oven reaches 425 degrees, heat oil in 12-inch, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over high heat until oil just begins to smoke, about 2 1/2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of both halibut steaks generously with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-high, swirl oil in pan to distribute; carefully lay steaks in pan and sear, without moving them, until spotty brown, about 4 minutes (if steak is thinner than 1 1/4 inches, check browning at 3 1/2 minutes; thicker steaks of 1 1/2 inches may require extra time, so check at 4 1/2 minutes). Off heat, flip steaks over in pan using two thin-bladed metal spatulas.
  3. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into steaks reads 140 degrees, flakes loosen, and flesh is opaque when checked with tip of paring knife, about 9 minutes (thicker steaks may take up to 10 minutes). Remove skillet from oven and separate skin and bones from fish with spatula. Transfer fish to warm platter and serve immediately, with flavored butter or sauce (see related recipes), if desired.

Parsley Butter

4 TBls Softened butter

2 TBls Parsley

4 – 5 Garlic Salt & Pepper

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

Throw everything in a Cuisinart till combined. I put it in a small covered bowl in the refrigerator, then served with a melon baller.

 

Slow-Cooker Beef Pot Roast

INGREDIENTS

(2 1/2- to 3-pound) beef shoulder roasts

  • Salt and pepper
  • tablespoons vegetable oil
  • onions, chopped
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • tablespoons Minute Tapioca
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • pound carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • pound parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • teaspoons white wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pat roasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown roasts all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Add onions and additional 2 teaspoons oil to empty skillet and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in wine and simmer, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tapioca, tomatoes, and thyme; transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Toss carrots, parsnips, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining oil in bowl until vegetables are well coated. Scatter vegetable mixture over pork. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours (or cook on high 4 to 5 hours).
  4. Transfer roasts to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes.  Cut meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices; transfer to serving platter. Using slotted spoon, transfer carrots and parsnips to platter with beef. Stir vinegar into sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing sauce at table. I left out this last step and served ( as you see) directly on the beef.

My husband loved it, but said he used to make his in the pressure cooker, with carrots, potatoes, water and a bay leaf.  He doesn’t cook much in our home.

 

Just for the Halibut