Tuscan Pork with Rosemary, Garlic and Blueberries

crock_pot_tuscan_pork

 

In December of 2010 Michael and I were lucky enough to visit Florence, Italy. We had a recommendation to get The Slow Food Guide for Florence to find those little hidden treasures that a normal tourist might miss. We actually almost did miss finding this restaurant because it was so well hidden that we walked past it three times. The waiter barely spoke English and of course we didn’t speak Italian. (Although I did have some luck speaking Spanish to a taxi driver. I hadn’t thought of it until our way home). Anyway, we ordered pork that had been slow roasted with garlic and rosemary and drenched in white wine. I have been attempting to recreate this dish ever since. This is the closest I’ve come and I added in the blueberries. Michael said this meal could be added to the regular rotation. That means its really good. ;)

 

 

tuscan_pork_blueberries_roasted_potatoes

Recipe:

2-3 lbs pork shoulder

1 cup dried blueberries

10 cloves of garlic cut in half

3 tbs chopped fresh rosemary

salt & pepper

2 cups white wine

Directions:

Pat the pork dry with a paper towel. With a pairing knife, make small deep cuts in the meat to make pockets to insert the garlic, rosemary and blueberries.  Alternate inserting blueberries, rosemary and garlic into the cuts (on item per pocket). Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides

In a large saute pan, heat two tablespoons of canola oil. Sear the meat on all sides until nicely browned. Place pork in the crockpot and pour wine on top. Sprinkle in any remaining garlic, rosemary or blueberries. Set crockpot on low and cook for 5-6 hours until meat is tender and easily flakes when shredded with two forks. Enjoy!

 

Grilled Skirt Steak with Avocado, Cilantro and Grilled Green Onions

grilled_skirt_steak

This recipe is California Comfort Food to the “T”. Its succulent, delicious and has that fresh element that makes your body want to do backflips and take a jog on the beach. It also has that Latino flare which is oh so authentico de los Mexicanos esta en California. I love it! The other great thing is that its actually really easy which is always helpful. Since its pretty much an endless summer here grilling on the barbecue isn’t relegated for just June through September. I love grilling so much that I’ll fire up my Charbroil just to cook one turkey patty for myself for lunch in January. But if barbecuing is out of the question for you at the moment feel free to remember (or pinterest!) this for future use. Enjoy!

Marinated Skirt Steak with Grilled Green Onions, Avocado & Cilantro

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs Skirt Steak

6 Green Onions

1 Avocado sliced

Fresh Cilantro to garnish

Marinade (recipe to follow)

Directions:

In a large plastic freezer bag combine skirt steak and marinade. Marinate for at least an hour or overnight.

Heat your outdoor grill to medium high heat and place steak on the grill and cook until medium to medium rare.  Green onions to grill and cook until there are some nice grill marks. Once steak is done set aside and let rest. Slice steak against the grain and put it on a platter. Top with avocado, green onions and cilantro. Serve with grilled corn tortillas and salsa if desired. Enjoy!

Marinade Recipe:

two cloves garlic (large)

½ cup Canola oil

¼ soy sauce

½ tsp garlic salt such as lawrys

juice from one lemon

1/8 tsp cracked pepper

Directions:

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade mince the garlic. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse. Set aside.

Grandma’s Meatloaf

grandma's_meatloaf

 

A sunday dinner at Grandma’s house was tantamount to going to Disneyland for me when I was a kids. The boredom of Sunday was only bearable

Grandma’s Meatloaf Recipe:

Ingredients

2 lbs low-fat ground beef

1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup celery diced finely

1/2 cup onion diced finely

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried sage

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Direction:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine the beef, breadcrumbs, egg, carrot, celery and onion, thyme, sage, salt & pepper and combine thoroughly. Put mixture in a greased 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 meatloaf pan and bake until an internal temperature thermometer reads 150 degrees (about 45 minutes). Top with ketchup mixed with a little brown sugar if you’d like. Enjoy!

Bacon Fig & Gorgonzola Burger

bacon_fig_gorgonzola_burger

Michael and I went to a restaurant in town called Eureka’s for lunch one day and that is what inspired this recipe.  Eureka’s specialized in gourmet burgers and is absolutely delicious. I ordered their Fig Marmalade Burger (which I’m still not sure why the fig spread is called a “marmalade.” I thought marmalades were made of citrus fruit with a peel…) and loved the sweet fig and bacon combination. I revised it a bit by doing gorgonzola instead of goat cheese so there was more of a “bite” to it. I’ve now made it 4 or 5 times and twice for dinner parties. Its easy, delicious and definitely a crowd pleaser.  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients: Serves 4

4 hamburger patties

4 hamburger bun

1 cup crumbled gorgonzola

fig jam

8 strips of bacon cooked crisp

arugula

Directions:

Grill burger patties on a outdoor grill until you’ve reached desired doneness. Spread fig jam on both the top and bottom of the bun. Layer in the burger, gorgonzola, bacon and arugula. Serve and enjoy!

Succulent BBQ Spare Ribs Recipe

bbq_spare_ribs_crock_pot

You will never have more delicious bbq spare ribs than the ribs from this recipe. The crockpot gets the meat tender and juicy while the barbecue finishes them off with some nice grill marks for texture. Whenever I ask Michael, “What do you want for dinner?” his usual response is, “ribs.” We have a little white board on our fridge so we can write grocery list items we need and “ribs” ends up there a lot too. Although the other day I saw “ambrosia” written up there which was a new one. The little white board on the fridge really does work because I did actually make that ambrosia. Hello 1960!

Ingredients:

Spare Ribs

BBQ Sauce

Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Salt & Pepper both sides of your spareribs. Place ribs in a large crockpot and set on low. Slather BBQ sauce over both sides of the ribs. Set the crockpot for 8 hours. After 6 hours check the ribs and if they are falling off the bone you can take them out. If not, keep them in for another hour or two. Once they reach the desired doneness transfer them to a platter. Place the ribs on the barbeque heated to a medium high temperature. Cook just long enough to get a few grill marks on each side. Remove from grill and serve. Enjoy!

bbq_spare_ribs_grilled

Steak, Grilled Vegetable and Gorgonzola Salad

steak_gorgonzola_arugula_salad

I’m obsessed with grilling. Its the quickest way to develop some amazing flavor and its fun to be outside! For this salad I love the peppery arugula combined with succulent steak and that bite of gorgonzola. Yum. You can make this salad outright (as it is delicious) or make it after a night of grilling when you have some delicious steak and veggies leftover in the fridge. Two for the price of one always works for me!

Ingredients:

1 lbs sirloin steak

2 zucchini cut in thick strips

2 yellow squash cut in thick strips

1 bag arugula

8 oz crumbled gorgonzola

1 tomato diced

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

salt & pepper

Directions:

Heat grill to medium high heat. Salt and pepper steak on both sides. Grill steak for 4-5 minutes on each side or until it reaches desired doneness. Set aside and rest. Meanwhile, brush each side of the zucchini and squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until tender with nice grill marks. Set aside and turn off grill.

Once the veggies and steak have cooled down enough to handle, cut into large bite size pieces. In a large mixing bowl combine arugula, steak, veggies and tomato. Top with gorgonzola. Serve with olive and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Turkey Meatballs with Cilantro over Spaghetti and Homemade Marinara

turkey_cilantro_meatballs

I like cooking with turkey for a weeknight meal. Its yummy, healthy and makes you feel great afterwards. I’m a big fan of cilantro because I love the zesty fresh taste it has and I think its a great twist for spaghetti & meatballs. Enjoy!

turkey_cilantro_meatballs

Turkey Cilantro Meatballs

Ingredients: 

1 pound ground turkey

½ tbs seasoning salt such as Lawry’s

1 egg beaten

½ cup parmigiano reggiano cheese

⅓ cup dried bread crumbs

2 small cloves garlic minced

handful chopped cilantro

extra virgin olive oil

marinara (recipe follows)

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine turkey, seasoning salt, egg, cheese, bread crumbs, garlic and cilantro. Mix together with hands until thoroughly combined. Form into 12 meatballs and place on a sheet pan. Cook for 15 minutes until browned and firm. While meatballs are cooking make the marinara and pasta.

Note: Turkey can overcook very quickly so keep a timer on hand and don’t cook for longer than 15 minutes unless the meatball registers under 160 degree’s on a thermometer.

Marinara & Pasta Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 pound spaghetti

2 tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced

1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes

¼ cup red wine

1 tbs sugar

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbs tomato paste

2 oz herbed goat cheese

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water. Drizzle some olive oil and salt in the water before adding the spaghetti. While the pasta is cooking make sauce.

Heat a pan to medium high and add 2 tbs olive oil. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant about a minute. Add crushed tomatoes & tomato paste. Add wine, sugar, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper and oregano. (Crush oregano between your palms to release the oils before adding).  Simmer for 5 minutes and then add goat cheese. Let the goat cheese melt and mix it into the sauce completely. Taste and correct seasoning.

Drain pasta and add to sauce in batches making sure that there is a good balance of sauce to pasta. Top with meatballs. Serve and enjoy.

Duck Duck (Food Shoot)

I love doing food shoots. The amazing Duo Catering created this DELICIOUS duck breast with panisse crouton, bloomsdale spinach and blood orange and sage demi glace. And of course it was styled by the incredible Kelly Oshiro of sbchic.com. One of the perks of shooting food is you get to EAT once you are done! Its awesome…. Enjoy!

Let’s get started:

Ingredients:

6 7-8 oz Duck Breasts (source from a reliable butcher or specialty market)

*****

2 cups Panisse (Garbanzo Flour) – Polenta is a good substitute

6 cups water or chicken stock

2 Tbl of chopped shallots

1 tsp of picked thyme leaves

*****

6-8 cups washed spinach (roughly 2 bunches)

2 cloves garlic (sliced)

Zest and juice of 1 small lemon

2 Tbl Olive Oil

2 tsp of Butter

*****

1 cup Veal or Duck Demiglace (homemade or sourced through a specialty grocer)

2 Tbl diced shallots

1 clove sliced garlic

6-8 Sage Leaves

½ cup of Blood Orange Juice (Pomegranate Juice would also work well)

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Serves 6.

Procedure for Panisse:

  1. Sauté shallots in 2 tbl of olive oil in a large saucepot until translucent (2 minutes).
  2. Add 6 cups of chicken stock (or water) to the saucepot and bring to a boil.
  3. Add Panisse and reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Stir in the chopped thyme.
  5. Cook until Panisse is thickened and pulling away from the pan.
  6. Pour the mixture into an oiled baking pan and allow to cool.
  7. After cooling, cut the Panisse into 1×4 inch rectangles.

Preparing the duck:

  1. Score the skin of the duck breast. (Cut a crosshatch pattern into the skin of the duck taking care not to slice into the flesh of the duck).
  2. Heat a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Season the duck with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the duck into the pan skin side down.
  5. Reduce heat to a medium low flame and cook until the skin has darkened to a rich brown color and has crisped somewhat (this may take 4-5 minutes).
  6. Flip the duck and continue to cook for 2 minutes more (be careful not to over cook the duck- you are aiming for medium rare).
  7. Remove the duck from the pan and allow to rest while you prepare the remainder of the dish.

Preparing the Duck Sauce:

  1. Immediately after removing the duck from the pan, reserve all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered duck fat (this will keep several weeks in your refrigerator).
  2. Add 2 Tbl diced shallots to the pan and sauté until translucent (1-2 minutes)
  3. Pour the blood orange juice to the pan (this is called deglazing) and reduce by half.
  4. Add the veal or duck stock (you could also use chicken stock in a pinch); add a garlic clove and the sage leaves.
  5. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Cooking the Panisse:

  1. Heat 2 Tbl of olive oil in a pan until it shimmers in the pan (just before it reaches the smoke point).
  2. Place the Panisse croutons in the pan and cook until browned on all sides, remove from pan and set aside.

Wilting the spinach:

  1. In the same pan that you prepared the Panisse in, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Add the cleaned spinach and allow it to begin to wilt.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the sliced garlic and Lemon.
  5. Finish with 2 tsp of butter (optional)

To Complete:

  1. Slice the duck breasts into 5-6 slices on a bias.
  2. Place two Panisse croutons in the center of each plate.
  3. Top with drained spinach (draining on a paper towel prevents the spinach liquid from running across your plate- ruining your presentation).
  4. Arrange your duck breasts over the spinach in a fanlike pattern.
  5. Spoon 2 Tbl of sauce over each breast (about midway up).
  6. Enjoy with your favorite bottle of wine.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Easiest recipe ever (sorry this isn’t an uber specific. You can’t really ruin it…) :

Pork Shoulder or Pork Loin (Pork shoulder is more tender and is traditional but sometimes I use pork loin if I have it)

Bottle BBQ Sauce

Crockpot

Directions:

Set crockpot to low setting. Put pork in crockpot and dump bbq sauce on top. Move around to be sure the bbq sauce gets over the entire slab of meat. Cook on low for 4-5 hours depending on how much or little meat you added. The pork is done when its tender and can be shredded easily with a fork. Put on toasted buns for sandwiches or just eat by itself. I like to add bread and butter pickles to my sandwich. Just sayin’… Enjoy!

Santa Maria Style Tri Tip Marinade

Tri Tip is indigenous to California and specifically to Santa Maria which is about an hour from where I live in Santa Barbara.  Tri Tip is the same cut as a sirloin tip roast but is barbecued instead of braised. This marinade is fantastic and I make this recipe often at home. I usually have corn tortillas, ranch beans and salsa to serve along side which is traditional. I have to say that barbecuing is one of my most favorite activities. Our house sits well above the street level and we have a nice deck where I BBQ. There is nothing better than being outdoors and cooking while watching the activity of the neighborhood below. Now that I have a little one I stick her in her bumbo seat and she loves being out there too. Its pretty hilarious that I am manning the barbecue at our house and shooing away the men folk. I’m just so finicky about the temperature of the grill and if I see someone trying to cut into the meat to see if its done it really irks me! (By cutting into meat its lets out all the juice which will make it dry up). I’m a girly girl in most ways except when it comes to getting down and dirty with barbecuing!

Marinade: (enough for 4 pounds of tri tip)

1/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup oil

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbs black pepper

1/8 cup Lawry’s seasoning

7 cloves garlic

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade chop the garlic. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until just mixed. Pour over tri tip  in a glass pan (making sure the marinade gets on all parts of the tri tip) and cover. Marinade for at least 6 hours or overnight. Grill on bbq until you achieve desire doneness. Let rest for 10-15 minute before cutting. Enjoy!