Archive for the ‘stew/chili/etc.’ Category

Next up in project clean out my parents’ freezer: pork loin

Back when I was buying cheap meat, a pork loin was one of the best bargains out there – almost all lean meat, no bones, and could be found on sale as cheaply as $1.88/lb

Being just one person, I’d cut a whole loin into three roasts and freeze them. Even then, it’s quite a lot of meat. And it has a tendency toward being dry and flavorless.

The cooking method I learned from my mother was to pick the roast with the thickest outer layer of fat as possible, embed some garlic cloves in the meat and threat some rosemary sprigs between the fat and the meat, coat the outside in garlic salt, and roast it in a slow oven. This produced a lovely, and usually juicy, meal. But the leftovers still tended to be dry.

So ever since I discovered carnitas, I’ve taken to braising this cut. And that means I can even trim off the fat layer.

Braised Pork w/ tomatoes and orange peel

Put the following things into a pot:

  • Pork roast, trimmed of exterior fat and freezer burn (cause I live a classy life)
  • 1 quart of (homemade, home-canned nyah nyah nyah) stock
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (okay, so this was storebought, but it was a great sale)
  • thinly sliced orange peel – now this one requires some explanation because I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do this, but last year I started keeping my citrus peels in water. That simple: eat fruit, put clean peel into a container, fill container with water all the way up to the top so there’s minimal oxidization, refrigerate. I should probably worry about bacteria, but the citrus is fairly resiliant on its own and the peels never developed an off smell. If you change the water every couple of weeks, then the peels are less bitter with each successive change of water, and the pith softens so it can be easily scraped away. Seriously – this is amazing. Why isn’t everyone doing this? Right, so I had these from last winter and they still smelled fine, and I knew I’d be cooking the stuff for hours, so I sliced it into little orangey ribbons and delicious flavor.

And then cook it for a few hours. I went to OutFest with it on low, and then turned the heat up for a few hours once I came home and could supervise it.

I considered it done once the meat was falling apart and almost all of the liquid had been cooked out (as much as I felt confident cooking out without burning it to the bottom of the pan)

So now I had a tasty meat base, so what was I going to do with it so I didn’t get tired of it?

Well, I made half a cup of white rice, and I froze some lunch portions with the rice and about half of the braised pork.

And I had a we smidgeon of rice left, so I took another wee smidgeon (1/4 cup) of pork and made quesadillas

Braised Pork Quesadillas (pork is braised, not the quesadilla)

They key to a good quesadilla (and a good filled crepe) is to not put too much in. If it’s still flat, then you’re I’m going to enjoy it more.

So throw a tortilla in a heated skillet. Once the tortilla is warm, flip it over and start working very quickly (that is – have a mis en place).

Add the thinnest layer of cheese you can.

Pick a half of the tortilla. Cover it with a little leftover (but warm) rice that has been tossed with lime cilantro dressing, a little of the braised pork (drain the liquid away and have a mostly dry filling), and some shredded kale (some sharp onions would have also been good here).

Fold the bare (i.e. with just cheese) half of the tortilla over the filling and make a nice even sandwich. Press flat. And flip it over to brown the outside of the tortilla and wilt the kale. Peek under to see when you have a few burnt spots on the underside of the quesadilla. Decide whether you want the (now) top crisped up anymore (if so, flip and cook a little more). Then serve. Have sour cream on the side.

And I still had about half of the braised pork left. So I made a stew-type dish.

Pork and Chickpea Stew

Add a little oil to the bottom of a pot and sweat an onion, diced. Once the onion is translucent, add a drained can of chickpeas (or soak them overnight and cook them a bit longer than is called for in this recipe… since this here cooking is mostly just getting everything warm enough for the flavors to intermingle).

Now my braised pork was pretty intensely flavored, but if it hadn’t been, I would start adding seasonings here – some cumin seeds, maybe a stick of cinnamon, marjoram, and maybe some raisins would have been an interesting choice. But I didn’t do that.

I did, however, have a baked sweet potato in my fridge, and that seemed like a good addition, so I pulled it out, peeled it, sliced it a couple times against the grain, and mixed it in with the chickpeas.

And then I added the braised pork.

Cooked it for a couple minutes until the smells mixed, and then I dished it up into containers to freeze for lunches.


Beef Black Bean Soup as a Work In Progress

   Posted by: Livia N Tags: , , ,

There’s a good chance I’ll be moving into a house! A real house! (with hardly more counterspace than my current apartment, which wouldn’t be nearly as charming without owning this URL – but there’s lots of room to add furniture, shelving, and counters)

As part of looking forward to moving all of my belongings, I have a goal of not buying any groceries all month. I’ve already caved with a packet of soba noodles, but they’re small and light and I was in Chinatown.

So I’m going through my mind and reviewing what’s in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and pondering how they’d match together.

Okay, so I’ve been overeating because as soon as I come up with another plan for food, I have to do it right away, but still.

I’ve finished off three lingering containers of loose tea. Yay!

And I’ve started a plan for soup –

  • I have a bunch of leeks
  • I’ve pulled a random/unidentified cut of beef from the freezer to thaw
  • I have several large cans of black beans
  • I have an open jar of pipian sauce

Simple, right?

Only I was pondering this potential soup in my mouth, and I think it will not be pleasing to have chunks of meat in this soup.

My first thought, of course, was, “Oooo… if only I had bought a meat grinder for my recently acquired Kitchenaid.” (thanks, @geeksdo1tbetter) And, yeah, that would be lovely… but let’s be honest that it probably isn’t really something I want until I also own a dishwasher. And, either way, I don’t have one.

So the only other way I know to get a pleasing texture will be shredding the beef with slow braising. And, ~whine~ … I don’t want the soup to take that long.

But, on the plus side, it will help heat the house.

So here’s the rough draft of the soup plan:

Beef Black Bean Soup

In medium saucepan

  • beef
  • can of tomatoes
  • red wine
  • 1 tsp pipian (to get the flavor started in the meat, but I’m not sure about its pH and texture and all, so not too much)
  • -> braising

in large saucepan

  • whites of leeks
  • carrots
  • big can of black beans
  • quart of stock
  • -> cooked until beans are soft
  • -> add beef
  • -> add more pipian to taste

in large skillet

  • greens of leeks
  • 2 tsp oil
  • -> fried hard over high heat for greasy, salty, delicious garnish of joy

busy day

   Posted by: Livia N

So far today, I have

  • shoveled out 2/3 of my car (Back end with enough rooms to maneuver an exit; foot and a half strip to the left, with hopefully enough black top showing to melt down some of the impenetrable crust from the plow; a little bit around the corner to the front; and most of the chunky stuff off the car itself)
  • pouted over the newly acquired blisters on my hands
  • Made a pot of tea
  • Started a big pot of beef & bean chili (huh, which hasn’t been properly written up on the food blog yet)
  • bought groceries and produce
  • washed the dishes
  • removed the stinky garbage from my freezer and yet forgotten to take the bag out to the cans – Yay! (actually, I’m not too worried – I have the heat turned off in my house right now)

What I have not yet done:

  • bought 1 can of tomato paste
  • vacuumed the floor of the bedroom
  • cleaned the bathroom
  • started the vegetarian chili / black bean soup
  • wiped the worst of the crud off the stove & kitchen floor (different types of crud)
  • put down paper bags or a towel for people’s shoes tomorrow
  • go to ATM so I can pay people to finish digging out my car for me
  • buy salt for the icy spot in my alley

To do tomorrow:

  • Cook beef & bean chili some more – add flour slurry
  • Cook vegetarian chili more
  • oil up baking potatoes and wrap them in foil
  • free car from snowbank
  • drive to Bryn Mawr
    take with me

    • bag with containers and stuff
    • spare car key
    • 2 canvas bags & bookbag to carry stuff back
  • meet parents for lunch at 1pm
    get stuff:

    • 2 tablespoons corn flour
    • package from knit picks
    • another package
    • box of bowls
    • cat food
    • cat treats
    • something I am forgetting
  • take train home (they’ll get my car fixed up before I try to drive it Baltimore)
  • vacuum floor again
  • make Cincinatti chili
  • 3:30pm start baking potatoes
  • prep chili condiments: grate cheese, open sour cream, mince purple onion, slice scallions, hard boil an egg (?), put out hot sauces, slice jalapenos

Okay, so the second try was also a big shameful and full of weird miscellaneous condiment selections. And yet also tasty.

Turkey Squash Lentil Soup

Okay, so roast squash and have some sitting around in your refrigerator all cooled and diced.

Also, leftover turkey, cut into chunks.

And this time, I’m trying it without soaking the lentils first. Rinse/wash them in three vigorous changes of water before using.

Oh, and I’ve made both turkey stock and vegetable stock. You can go with all of one or the other or just water – but they shouldn’t be at least warmed up to room temperature.

So brown 2 teaspoons of flour in a pan. Dice an onion pretty finely and stir that into the browning flour. Once the onions are limp and the flour is getting toasty, add a teaspoon or so of butter (or lipid of choice).

Now add some turkey stock and stir it all together until you have a gravy base. Add a teaspoon of red wine, a shake of Worcestershire sauce, and a little bit of browning sauce.

Add lentils and minced garlic with some vegetable stock. Once it reaches a simmer, add the cubed winter squash. And then a couple minutes later, the turkey leftovers.

Season with ground black pepper, ground ginger (I was bizarrely generous with this, but luckily the soup absorbed it well), a sprinkling of cinnamon, and some hot pepper.

Because these are all leftovers that have been sitting in the fridge, you really should have the soup boil for about 20 minutes, but my lentils were already pretty mushy by the end of that.


food planning for my week – Chili, Coconut Rice

   Posted by: Livia N Tags: , ,

Okay, so after this weekend, I have a lot of meals ready to go:

already cooked
mashed potatoes
coconut rice

vegetable lasagna
2 chicken leg quarters in an indian marinade

1 large sweet potato
collard greens (leftovers)
1 zucchini

Monday: George Takei talk
(buy more cheese)

Tuesday: not going to dance practice, possibly going to Film Festival closing night part 6-7pm
cook chicken
coconut rice
spinach or zucchini on the side

Wednesday: not watching Lost, first night of Passover
cook greens with bacon rind (for Passover)
bake sweet potato
leftover chili

Thursday: second night of Passover
vegetable lasagna (buy cheese)

Friday: third night of Passover
mashed potatoes
cook greens with bacon rind (for Passover)
any leftover veggies

Wow – I totally lose at Passover.

Now do I want to buy a box of Matzoh so I can look pious in front of my two jewish coworkers? Sliced ham and mayonnaise is really good in a matzoh sandwich.

ETA: And we have Godiva chocolate at work today because it was a gift from the dental librarian. Later in the week, my boss has promised truffles because she has to clean them out of her house before Passover – score!

ETAA: Why don’t I also give you some recipes?

I make chili from a mix. But it is the best packaged chili mix ever because it doesn’t come out as a single powder. Instead, they put each spice in its own little packet.

I always use chunks of meat instead of ground beef. And I always have to add real onions and garlic.

Then, when I am adding the spice packets, I have started not using the salt packet and only adding a little salt by taste at the end. I’ll add extra black pepper, powdered thyme, worcestershire sauce, a bay leaf (removed later), and a pinch or two of sugar. This time, I also added a couple cap-fulls of Manischewitz wine.



Coconut Rice
Yeah, I totally made this up with no idea whether it would work.

1 part long grain rice
1 part water
1 part (whole) milk
no butter
instead, a chunk of coconut cream, well – a chunk of the fatty solids on top and a dollop of the liquid below. Note – this is different from coconut milk
a pinch of salt
more sugar (about 2 tsp sugar/cup rice… but I didn’t measure)


Menu possibilities:
Chicken Creole
Fried Catfish
Red Beans & Rice (if I can get mom’s recipe and have the time)
Macaroni & Cheese (if you want something not rice)
beans & bacon (the way you make them)
corn bread
cheese grits
Jello mold
Sausage Balls (if you can find a way to turn gluten-free flour into a bisquick substitute)

Chicken Creole
1 stick of butter
1 medium – large onion depending on preference
2-3 lbs of chicken breast
1 green bell pepper
10 garlic cloves
as many tomatoes as you can peel (or 3 cans)
season as needed

Melt 1/3 of the stick of butter and saute diced chicken breast until barely pink. Add onions and keep cooking until chicken is cooked through and onions are creamy golden. Add garlic and give it just a moment to cook in the fat before adding the tomatoes and bell pepper.

Add a lot of salt, some pepper, a bay leaf if so inclined, and absolutely a dash of worcestershire sauce.


Gresham Gumbo (that is with neither tomatoes nor okra)
2 medium onions
3/4 – 1 cup flour
2 1/2 – 3 lbs chicken, cut up (white or dark)
smallish stalk of celery
2 bay leaves
6 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, cooked and cleaned (with tails still attached)
1 1/2 lbs crab meat, picked over (or 6-8 soft shell crabs)
worcestershire sauce
seafood seasoning

Dice and saute onions in butter until translucent.

In a separate pan, brown flour and make into a roux. Add enough water to make a thick gravy.

Pour gravy in a stock pot and add onions. Add chicken. Add more water until the gravy is medium thin.

Add salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, and a dash or two of seafood seasoning to taste. Add smallish stalk of celery, bay leaves, and garlic.

After a bit of cooking, add shrimp and crab.

Let cook until perfect. Serve over rice (with tabasco sauce and gumbo file).

Jambalaya (altered from a Bon Appetit recipe – never tried)
1 stick of butter
1 large red onion
2 medium yellow onions
4 scallions
1 large green bell pepper
6 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 celery stalks
2 jalapeno chilies, w/o seeds
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon powdered thyme
3/4 teaspoon vegemite
1 lb andouille sausage
3/4 lb ham
(and/or chicken, shrimp, mussels, whatever) (can brown meats first, too)
2 1/2 cans of chicken broth (45 ounces-ish)
2-3 cans of tomatoes
3 cups rice

garnish with scallion and/or parsley

Melt butter in a heavy large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, scallions, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, celery, jalepeno, Creole seasoning, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Mix in vegemite. Add meat, broth, tomatoes, and rice. Bring mixture to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until rice is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Garnish with green onion or parsley.


Red Beans & Rice
Look over the beans and remove any stones or seriously defective beans.

Wash the beans in at least three complete changes of water.

You have a choice: either soak the beans overnight, or cook them longer. I usually cook them longer.

Put the beans and a gracious plenty of water on the stove and bring to a boil.


1 clove of garlic, minced very fine (you don’t want to
consciously taste garlic)
One large-ish onion, diced.
Meat: I use fresh pork, but I prefer ham
Seasonings: pepper (not too much), worcestershire sauce, dash of tabasco.
About half a teaspoon of sugar (or less; go by taste; it removes any bitterness/astringency)
(Maternal grandmother used to put in a stalk of celery for an hour or so of the cooking, but mother never did.)

Cook and add water for hours and hours, until a good bean gravy has developed. Correct the seasoning–which usually means add more salt, unless the ham was very salty.

If it’s good, that’s it. If it doesn’t seem _quite_ perfect, add a bit of gumbo file about five minutes before you serve it.

Serve over plain white rice.

My mother gave me a package of chicken breasts to use up – anyone want to come over and let me cook for you? Not only will this use up the meat, but also it will force me to get off my ass and clean my apartment (which I have been neglecting for a couple months).

Dinner would probably be chicken raft. I know – you’ve never heard of it. It’s one of my family’s recipes… and, since I promised Biz, I’m including a few of my family recipes in the post (note: measurements are almost always approximations)

Chicken Raft (Sometimes this is called Chicken & Dumplings, but this is not the vegetables, yellow gravy, and distinct floating blobs of dough – but it’s not really a Chicken Pie, either)

Boil together:

  • 2lbs cubed chicken breast
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • dried celery flakes (or 1 whole stalk celery to be removed later)

  • water to cover, plus some

Add salt & pepper when done (if using celery stalk, remove it now).

Pour chicken and onion into a large casserole dish, and then pour the water left in the pot until it almost covers the chicken.

Mix up the BisQuick biscuit recipe only slightly drier… basing the amount on 2 cups of BisQuick, more if using more chicken. (Biz – substitute any biscuit recipe that works for you)

Roll out the dough to at least the length of the casserole dish. Slice the dough into 1/4″ strips. Any excess can be wadded up and plopped into the chicken… corners first to support the raft. Then lay strips 1″ or less apart lengthwise and then widthwise (I start at the edges, then middle, and then evenly divide the space until the grid is filled).

Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes.

Open oven, but don’t remove the raft – add 1 whole stick of butter, sliced into pats and laid atop of the intersections of the raft… and add as muck milk as the dish will accommodate (pouring evenly over the crust to soften it)

Bake another 10 minutes.


Chicken Creole

bunch of chicken breasts (3-4?) (you can substitute shrimp in this recipe)
1/4 lb butter
1 onion, chopped
8-10 fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes)
10-12 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
fresh marjoram (optional… or can be substituted by thyme)


IN one saucepan, lightly brown bite-sized chunks of chicken breast in lots and lots of butter. Add onions and keep cooking until creamy golden. Add tomatoes, garlic, and green pepper. Cook until saucy but not watery. Salt and pepper to taste. If you have fresh marjoram, it is nice if added right at the end of cooking.

Serve over plump, white rice.


Gumbo Now, there are worlds of debate over how to make gumbo, even within the family, but this is how my mother likes it

3 medium onions
3/4 or 1 cup flour
2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken, cut up (white or dark)
smallish stalk of celery
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, cooked and cleaned (with tails still attached)
1 1/2 lbs crab meat (or 6-8 soft shelled crabs)

water (stock can be substituted for some of the water)
worcestershire sauce
seafood seasoning (Old Bay, or your preferred brand)


Chop up onions. Grill onions in butter until translucent.

Brown flour. Make into a roux. Add enough water to make a thick gravy.

Pour gravy into a stock pot and add onions. Add chicken. Add more water until gravy is medium thin.

Add salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, and a dash or two of seafood seasoning to taste. Add celery, bay leaves, and garlic.

Add shrimp and crab meat.

Let it cook until perfect.

You could also add scallops or lobster, but no fish or sausage or any of that crap (really – my momma says so).