Pork with Roasted Tomato Salsa

Basically, this recipe from Steamy Kitchen.

Differences, based on what I had handy:

2 butterflied boneless pork pieces (loin? chop? I forget) and spicy brown mustard instead of Dijon. One Roma and 3 Campari tomatoes (which are smaller than Romas). Added 1/2 cup of corn to the salsa.

Differences, because I was too lazy to go look at the recipe*:

My salsa was tomatoes, corn, 2 green onions (white parts and small bit of green) basil, salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne. I cooked the tomatoes in a saute pan with a bit of olive oil and garlic then took the tomatoes out and added the corn (which was cooked on the cob then cut off earlier in the week) to get a little garlic infusion.


We ate this with whole wheat rolls and some fingerling potatoes (not pictured/ leftovers). It was quite tasty, even if I missed half the ingredients in the salsa.

*This, if anything, would justify having an iPad. Why? Because my laptop is a 17 inch wide-screen monster. With an iPad, I could just slip it behind a plastic cookbook cover (for protection) and conserve counter space but actually follow the recipe.

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Chicken Curry

I started out with the intention of making something Asian-y for dinner- a Chinese stir-fry type of thing. This is because the chicken we had was pre-cut in to strips, ideal for a quick cook. Looking around the house, I realized that a. I need garlic and b. this cilantro we planted is getting out of control. And c. warming up naan is way quicker than making rice.

So I detoured south and went for Indian cuisine. Using the cookbook, 5 spices 50 dishes, a gift for Chris*, I decided to make the chicken curry because I had all the correct spices. The other reason I was drifting from more Chinese-Asian was a lack of ginger- a key ingredient in most Chinese/Korean/Vietnamese dishes.

I did have to make a couple of changes based on what I had and a desire to add more veggies.

What I used- (followed by as in the book where necessary)

1 onion, 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 sliced thin (2 onions, finely chopped)
14 oz can crushed tomatoes, no salt added (3 fresh tomatoes, chopped = 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly (not in book version)
1 package chicken breasts, strips style (3 lbs chicken parts, bone-in)
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, finely ground
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup chicken broth (1 cup water)
1 tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

What I did

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook onions until they begin to brown (or completely brown if time permits).

Combine cayenne, turmeric and cumin with 1 tablespoon of water to create a paste. Stir paste in to onions, mix to combine and cook 3-5 minutes. Add tomato and stir constantly so mixture doesn’t scorch.

Add chicken and bell pepper; mix to combine. Cook about 10 minutes then add water plus salt. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a high simmer. Cook uncovered until chicken is completely cooked through, up to 30 minutes (boneless chicken strips only took about 15 minutes). Add vinegar and sugar, adjust seasonings.

Served with garlic naan and plenty o’ cilantro.


This was good, spicy with just a little sour from the vinegar. However, it was not thick so perhaps not suited to naan dipping. I didn’t have anything handy to thicken it up (i.e. sour cream or cream or yogurt) so we made do. I still like chicken tikka masala better but with no marinating, this was way quicker.

*So, this was meant to be a gift for Chris so he could make some Indian food. How many dishes has he made so far?

EDIT: add bell pepper with chicken or partly through onion sauteing, whatever floats your boat.

Making it up as I go along, part deux

Now this, I really did just make up as I went along. I had to make a dish to pass for Thursday’s holiday luncheon at work. I planned to make something like the squash risotto but then I just did not feel like doing all the stirring required. And cutting up a hard, awkwardly shaped squash.

On our sign-up sheet I had marked “casserole” and US/Italy as the country (this year’s theme was international). A little departure from that but I definitely think I got the US of A part down!

All American Rice Casserole

Ingredients

1/2 bunch asparagus
1 small red onion
1 can creamed corn
5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Gouda cheese
brown rice (2 cups dry)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
chicken broth
nutmeg
sage
salt/pepper
1 mashed clove of garlic

Directions

  • I cooked the rice in the rice cooker first. Took about 40 minutes for 2 dried cups of short grain brown rice. I let that work its magic while we ate dinner (see Part 1). When ready, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Trim asparagus, set tips aside then cut stems in to 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Quarter the red onion then slice thinly.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds then add red onion. Sprinkle a little salt on the onions to encourage the water to come out.
  • Season onions with 1 teaspoon dried sage and 1/4 tsp nutmeg (I grated part of a whole nutmeg using a microplane grater). Reduce heat to medium-low and allow onions to soften and begin caramelizing.
  • Meanwhile, spread cooked brown rice in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Unless the rice is very moist, pour a 1/4 to 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable) over it. Sprinkle generously with grated Gouda cheese. Spread 1 can of creamed corn over the rice and cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon dried sage and a dash or two of nutmeg.
  • When onions have just started to brown, add sliced asparagus stems to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes until asparagus turns bright green.
  • Spread onion-asparagus mixture over corn in casserole dish.  Cover completely with grated Gouda; get right up the the edge of the casserole dish.
  • Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove covering and raise temperature to 475 or turn on broiler. Scatter tomato halves, asparagus tips and sliced (or slivered) almonds over top of casserole. Cook 10 minutes more until almonds begin to turn light brown. I did this under the broiler, about 8-10 inches from the element. Closer in, I would say 5 minutes or less- watch for burning!
asparagus corn casserole

asparagus corn casserole

 


Since I really did just make this up as a I went along, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Then I was late getting in the buffet line today and wondered if I’d get to try out my own dish! But I did. It was about 1/2 gone (and completely gone by the time the serving was over). I’m pleased but I would say that this dish is best served hot from the oven with the cheese bubbling. Being reheated and held in the oven dries out the rice.

E. coli for everyone!

The big news, its another beef recall due to E. coli. And not just any ole’ bug, but the O157:H7 variety of E. coli.   From the linked article:

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Friday said Omaha meat packing company Nebraska Beef Ltd is recalling 1.2 million pounds of beef because it may be contaminated with a particularly dangerous strain of E. coli.

The recall is of beef prepared for shipment to retailers but not yet cut up in supermarket sized portions.

The recall is “Class 1,” meaning there is a “reasonable probability” that eating the beef “will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death,” the USDA said. It is the most dangerous level of the three classes of recall.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said the beef was sent to processing establishments and retail stores across the United States and had been produced June 17, June 24 and July 8.

How likely is that the beef involved is still sitting in processing establishments and retail stores waiting to get broken down in to smaller packages for the consumer? In case you missed it, Nebraska Beef had a massive ground beef recall earlier this year. And the company has had some major compliance issues with USDA inspections over the last several years. 

Making bigger headlines today but related to the Nebraska Beef problems is Whole Foods voluntary recall of ground beef sold in stores since June:

Whole Foods Market, the top US organic foods supermarket chain, announced this weekend a voluntary recall of fresh ground beef it sold since June 2 due to potential contamination with E. coli bacteria.
The beef “apparently came from Coleman Natural Beef, whose Nebraska Beef processing plant was previously subject to a nationwide recall for E. coli 0157:H7 contamination,” Whole Foods said.

According to Whole Foods, they didn’t know that Coleman was sending their beef to Nebrask Beef for processing.

In a smaller recall, S&S Foods of California is recalling ground meat after a boy scout camp experienced an outbreak of E. coli. 

S&S Foods of Azusa, Calif., is recalling 30-pound boxes of ground beef that went to distribution centers in Milwaukee and Allentown, Pa. The company is acting on the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, agency spokeswoman Laura Reiser said yesterday.

The meat was intended for food service companies and institutions and was not being sold in stores, Reiser said. The Agriculture Department would not say where the beef might have gone, she said. “From a public health standpoint, that’s not going to help the consumer or the doctor to treat their illness,” she said.

 

Not in to E. Coli, how about some salmonella? A recent outbreak in the UK has affected approximately 90 people with at least one death.  The investigation there has found a possible source in Dawn Farm Foods in Ireland.  The meat was sold to Subway stores. This outbreaks is notable in that the average age of the people sickened is just 29. The strain linked to this outbreak, salmonella agona is rare, accounting for approximately 1.5% of salmonella infections.
 
More here and here.

Don’t forget the pets!
Mars Petcare US announced a voluntary recall of 100 of the 20-pound bags of PEDIGREE(R) Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites sold in Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada to a limited number of Albertsons locations due to potential Salmonella contamination.


During the height of the tomato/pepper/cilantro/salsa/something from Mexico Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, there were news reports of an isolated poisioning by salmonella in Lake Garda, Italy. Approximately 30 people, mostly British tourists fell ill while on vacation at a hotel is this area. The onset of illness was very quick and one man died within 24 hours. An autopsy was carried out and eventually, the owner of the hotel was charged with manslaughter. Since early July, I haven’t been able to find any English-language updates to this story so I don’t know the current status of the hotel manager’s case or what the final determination for the source or type of infection. I was quite surprised to learn that the Italian authorities had charged the owner with such a serious crime. I guess here in America we just sue the pants of whomever has the deep pockets (i.e. Wal-Mart is the first to be named defendant after the outbreak here).

By the way, the Mexican authorities are rather insistent that their own testing has not found a positive pepper in conflict with the FDA’s claims that they found 1 pepper on a farm in Tamaulipas state that had the same salmonella which caused the S. saintpaul outbreak.
However, Agricola Zaragoza, the distribution center that provided the first real pepper clue, is recalling peppers distributed between June 30 and July 21 (the date of the press release) due to a possible contamination with Salmonella Saintpaul:

The jalapeno peppers were distributed to customers in GA and TX. The jalapeno peppers being recalled were shipped in 35-lb plastic crates and in 50-lb bags with no brand name or label.

The recall is a result of sampling by FDA, which revealed that these jalapeno peppers were contaminated with the same strain of Salmonella Saintpaul responsible for the current Salmonella outbreak. It is unknown at this time which, if any, of the more than 1,200 illnesses reported to date are related to this particular product or to the grower who supplied this product.

No name or label. Useful.

Summertime Tomato-Potato Saute

After harvesting a few of our cherry tomatoes, I decided to incorporate them in to tonight’s dinner.

Yesterday, on our way back from a weekend camping trip, we stopped in Grand Rapids to visit The Fresh Market.  This place has a really great meat market and a nice selection of organic produce along with a good size wine area, a bakery and a deli stocked with ready-to-eat items.  Besides picking up some Paninis for lunch, we stocked up on meat and fish for this week.  Since fish doesn’t last long, I knew I’d be making the Parmesan-crusted Tilapia tonight.  While waiting for our paninis to grill, I noticed a little bag of baby red skin potatoes all by itself at the back of a display.  The bag was filled with organic reds, most not much bigger than a golf ball.  I knew I had to have this bag and I knocked over a bunch of Yukons in the process of reaching it but soon it was tucked safely in my cart.

While thinking about dinner this afternoon, I had a thought that I’d use the potates as a side dish- maybe just boil them and top them with a nice mustard sauce.  I was planning to use some green beans too and they could share the sauce.  Unfortunately, the green  beans were looking a little peaked when I pulled them from the crisper so that idea was tossed.  Then my eyes wandered to the balcony and our pot full of little red drops.  And this is what I came up with.

For the fish, I followed the directions- saute 3 minutes per side then finish in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Tomato-Potato Saute

Ingredients:

Cherry Tomatoes; about a dozen, cut three-fourths in half and separate from the whole ones.
Baby red skin potatoes; 3-5 per person depending on size
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
3-4 sprigs Rosemary, stripped from stems and roughly chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
Olive oil/butter
Chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper

Directions:

Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool (so you can touch them).  Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Add garlic and 1/2 the rosemary, saute 30 seconds until fragrant then add sliced onion.

While onion is cooking, slice the potatoes in to 1/4 inch rounds and sprinkle with salt.  When the onions are quite soft but not browned, add the potatoes and halved cherry tomatoes.  Continue to cook until the tomatoes are softened and the potatoes begin to turn golden on the edges.  Push contents of the pan to the side and add just enough stock (about 1/8 cup for me) to deglaze the pan and mix it all together.  Garnish with whole tomatoes and additional rosemary plus fresh ground pepper.

The picture isn’t as pretty as it could be since I’d already started eating it.  I recall that someone was asking for photos….