Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts tagged ‘budget’

This is a fun meal to serve if you are having people over since everyone can assemble their own carnitas to their liking.  You can make the braised pork ahead of time (or the day before).  My neighbor Karen told me about a great local Hispanic market “Chavez” where I buy freshly made guacamole, salsas, and queso fresco to accompany the carnitas.  I also serve shredded cabbage (green and/or purple), sour cream, lime wedges, fresh corn cut off the cob, and chopped cilantro on the side.  I like to use white corn & wheat tortillas and my friend O’Neal taught me how to warm them up: simply place directly on top of your gas burner over medium heat for about 10 seconds per side and flip over with your hands.  Tortillas should be warmed and slightly browned.  Cover in tin foil until ready to serve.

This is the caption here.

Recipe on blog by David Lebovitz (adapted from his cookbook The Sweet Life in Paris.)

Carnitas

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 4-5-pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil
  • water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced

Directions:

1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1- to 3-days. (You can skip this step if you want. Just be sure to salt the pork before searing the meat in the next step.)

2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.

3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.

4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.

5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.

7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.

8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.

9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.

I like mine deeply, darkly, crispy brown on the outside.

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I don’t know about you, but I always seem to mess up rice!  I know it’s a simple thing to cook, but if you are off on something (size of the pot, amount of the water, level of heat, cooking time, etc.) you can be left with a sticky mess or burnt rice.  I’m so bad at cooking rice, that  lot of times I resort to (don’t tell!) Boil-in-a-bag Success Rice, but that’s not as good for you.  We are supposed to be eating slow-cooked foods — and choosing whole grains over white.  So, I was over-the-moon when I tried Gwyneth’s recipe for Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice.  Just like it promises, your rice will turn out beautifully and it does keep well in the fridge for a few days.

Perfectly Cooked Brown RicePerfectly Cooked Brown Rice

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good

Makes 3 cups

1 cup short-grain brown rice

1 3/4 cup water

Coarse sea salt

Rinse the rice thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear.  Place it in a pot set over high heat with the water and a big pinch of salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, exactly 45 minutes.  Turn the heat off, place a dry paper towel between the pot and the lid, and let the rice sit for at least 5 minutes before giving it a fluff with a fork.

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This is my easy recipe for Swiss chard – I love the flavor of this healthy superfood (excellent source of vitamins A & C and fiber), so I don’t do much to mask the taste.  If your kids won’t eat this, try pureeing it with a bit of the cooking liquid or chicken stock.  You can easily substitute kale if you wish (I prefer the taste of Swiss chard as I find it a tad less bitter).

Swiss Chard

Weeknight Swiss Chard

Ingredients:

2 bunches of Swiss chard (or kale), rinsed and chopped

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Boil 12 cups of water in a large pot and add Swiss chard leaves and stems so they are submerged in the water.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Drain in colander, pressing with back of a spoon to remove any excess water.  Return Swiss chard to the pot and add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Serve warm.

Serves 6.

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This is one of my favorite, easy soups that I make regularly.  You could easily double the recipe and freeze extra into gallon ziplock freezer bags for future dinners.  This is a great vegetarian dinner (since you get protein from the lentils) served with a toasted baguette or rice.  My whole family loves this!

Lentil Kale Soup

Recipe inspired by one that I saw on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Mother’s Group.

Lentil and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, finely sliced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups dry lentils (I prefer red)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 bunches of kale (or spinach), chopped roughly

Directions:

In a large pot, sauté the onions and carrot in the oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until onions turn clear.  Add the garlic and sauté.  Add the lentils and brown for 5 minutes (be careful not to burn the onions and garlic).  Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and salt.

Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes (less for red lentils). Remove bay leaves.  Throw in kale (or spinach), cover and simmer until greens are soft (about 10 more minutes).  Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and purée in blender before serving.

Great for the whole family.  Add more salt for adults when serving.

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This is a fun recipe because it’s easy to make, yet looks so elegant!  My kids like this (they think the stack is fun) or it could also make a nice side dish to a fancier dinner if you are entertaining.  It’s so delicious…

Personal Potato Gratin Stacks

Recipe from blog Witty in the City, which was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food.

Personal Potato Gratin Stacks

Ingredients:

  • Baking potato – 1 (for 2 servings)
  • Gruyère cheese
  • Cream
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

To make these potato gratins, preheat your oven to 400ºF. Use a mandoline to slice a baking potato into 1/8th of an inch slices. Make sure the slices are all the same size so that the potatoes cook evenly. One potato makes about 6 gratin stacks. Two stacks per person is probably sufficient for most people, but we each ate 3 and wanted more!

Coat a muffin tin with non-stick spray. Put 2 potato slices into each of the cups, and season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on some shredded Gruyère cheese. Repeat this process until your muffin tins are full, about 2 more times/4 more slices.

After you’ve salted and peppered the top potatoes, pour 1 tablespoon of cream into each cup. Sprinkle more shredded cheese over the tops.

Bake the potato gratins for 30 minutes or until the cheese is brown and the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Run a small knife around the edges of the stacks to break them free from the muffin tin, and pop them out. I don’t know what happens to the cream, but these potato stacks aren’t liquidy at all.

The top layer is crisp from the cheese and the heat, and the bottom layer is crisp from touching the hot metal muffin tin. And the in-between layers are perfectly soft and cheesy. You can pick these stacks up with your fingers and take bites out of them (me), cut them with a fork and knife like a civilized person (David), or peel each layer apart for more individualized attention (also me). I want another one right now.

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This is a very flavorful lentil salad if you are looking for something different…

Spicy Red Lentils

Recipe from Mayo Clinic.

Spicy Red Lentils

This Moroccan-style dish is quick to assemble. Serve it as a side dish with roasted meats or fish. In larger portions, it also makes a satisfying main course.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried red lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Directions

In a saucepan over high heat, combine the lentils, water, bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain and discard the bay leaf. Set aside.

In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chili and garlic and saute until softened, about 1 minute. Add the cumin, coriander and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the lentils and the spice mixture. Toss gently to mix. Stir in the parsley, cilantro and mint and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Stir in the vinegar and serve immediately.

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