PORK WITH PRUNES, OLIVES AND CAPERS

Time for comfort food. This is great on the day it is prepared, but even better a couple of days later, so it is one of those perfect dishes for entertaining. I went the extra mile and cut the pieces of meat myself, from a large bone-in pork shoulder. I suspect if you buy pork stew meat it will work nicely too, and save you quite a bit of work. Zen work, but… sometimes even that seems a bit much. There is a ton of flavor, so you don’t need to brown the meat, just marinate it overnight and it will be perfect.

PORK WITH PRUNES, OLIVES AND CAPERS
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

1.5kg pork shoulder – diced into pieces
375 ml dry white wine
200g pitted prunes
75g pitted black olives
2 Tbsp capers
2 tbsp Herbes de Provence
2½ tsp sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
250ml water
lemon juice to taste
fresh parsley leaves to serve (optional)

In a large freezer bag add the diced pork, wine, prunes, olives, capers, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Seal the bag and marinade overnight in the fridge.

Before cooking it, take out of the fridge a couple of hours before it goes in the oven to bring it to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 300 F.

Put the marinated pork into a large casserole dish, then add water.  Stir together, put the lid on cook in the oven for 2.5 to 3 hours. The pork will be soft and tender. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if so desired, and a nice squeeze of lemon juice.  

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Perfect meal to prepare during the weekend, although it could also be marinated early in the morning, stay full day in the fridge, and cook in the evening. Then it can go back to the fridge for a fantastic dinner next evening, absolutely effortless.  If you don’t care for capers or briny flavors, this might not be for you, it’s really the most prominent flavor. I happen to love it.

We enjoyed it with cauliflower puree, but obviously it would be a nice match for other side dishes, from mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even a hearty pasta too.

ONE YEAR AGO: Kansas Corn Chowder

TWO YEARS AGO: Impossibly Cute Bacon and Egg Cups

THREE YEARS AGO: Pulling Under Pressure

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-vide: Two takes on Chicken Thighs

FIVE YEARS AGO: Miso Soup: A Japanese Classic

SIX YEARS AGO: On my desk

SEVEN YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

NINE YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo

WORLD BREAD DAY 2018

I am a bit of a loner as far as blogging is concerned, rarely taking part of group events. But World Bread Day is special, and whenever I have a chance, I like to join the party started in 2006 by Zorra.  This year (my third time participating) I share a sourdough loaf made with my friend Elaine’s starter, Star. It flew all the way from England and now lives quite comfortably in its new home in our kitchen in Kansas. A well-traveled starter! A few details made this bake quite special for me. Read on…

SOURDOUGH BATARD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 g active starter (at 100% hydration)
375 g water, room temperature
400 g bread flour
100 g whole-wheat flour
10 g salt

Mix all ingredients for the bread in a large bowl, making a shaggy mass. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Mix gently folding the dough a few times until smooth.

Allow it to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough 3 times during the four hours, no need to be precise about the spacing of folding cycles. Just make sure you fold it a few times.  At the end of four hours, shape it either as a round ball or a batard.

Transfer to a well floured banneton, seam-side up, and place in the fridge overnight, 8 to 12 hours, longer if needed.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450 F. Invert the shaped loaf, still cold from the fridge over parchment paper. Dust the surface with a little flour (I added just a touch of cocoa powder to make it darker, but it’s not necessary).  Score with a brand new razor blade.

Place in a cold Dutch oven, cover, and stick in the hot oven for 30 minutes with the lid on, and 15 more minutes with the lid off.  Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: With this bake, I finally felt I managed to shape a batard reasonably well. Most of my attempts in the past were epic failures. I also had never tried a more artistic scoring on a batard-shaped loaf. The central slashing perhaps a tad too enthusiastic, so the dough exploded more than expected.

First special thing about this bake: no discard of starter whatsoever. I followed Elaine’s method, and I must say it’s pretty amazing how well it works. I had about 60 g of starter in the fridge, sleeping in there for a full week. The morning of the bake, I took it straight from the fridge and added 40 g water + 40 g flour to it. Let it come to life at room temperature, by mid-afternoon it was bubble party in the container. So I just removed 50g needed for the bake and placed the rest back in the fridge.  I’ve used this approach three weeks in a row, without refreshing the starter for two or three days and discarding most of it every time. The oven spring is impressive, and the bread does not taste more sour than usual. If you are concerned with waste this method is for you.  Give it a go. I haven’t tried to keep the starter longer than 1 week in the fridge before using it, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with it.

Second special thing about the bake: shaped dough was placed in a COLD baking container. I cannot tell you how much I love this! I am so tired of juggling the super hot pot and lid, often burning my arm in the process. No more. When the oven is hot, you place the cold pot with the shaped bread inside, no need to add a bit of water for steam, nothing. It simply works, even with bread straight from the fridge. Excellent oven spring, as I mentioned before, and excellent crust texture.  Elaine has been playing with cold pot, cold dough, in a cold oven that she turns on when she places the pot inside it. I doubt it would work for me, as my oven heats very slowly, but she’s been baking amazing loaves using this method. Stop by her site to learn more about her experiments.

I hope you have a chance to celebrate World’s Bread Day, either bay baking or enjoying a great loaf of bread. Zorra, thank your for organizing the event, I look forward to seeing the contributions coming from all over the world…

Grab a pin!

ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

TWO YEARS AGO: Spicy Cotija and Black Olive Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

FIVE YEARS AGO: PCR and a Dance in the Mind Field

SIX YEARS AGO: October 16: World Bread Day

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The US Listeria Outbreak 2011

EIGHT YEARS AGO: 36 Hour Sourdough Baguettes

NINE YEARS AGO: October 16 is World Bread Day

THE BRAZILIAN BATTENBERG

Triple culinary fusion, the cake is originally from UK, and was designed to honor the marriage of Princess Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg from Germany, back in 1884.  In my version, a little tropical flair was added to the party, even if 134 years late. Better late than never.

LIME AND MANGO BATTENBERG
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

175 g butter
175 g sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
175 g all-purpose flour
2 + 3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of two limes
2 tsp Amoretti mango emulsion flavor
350 g marzipan

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour Battenberg pan, including the inserts.

Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Gradually add the beaten eggs.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt so that they are evenly mixed. Fold it in the butter-egg mixture.

Divide the cake batter into two equal parts.  Add the lime zest and a drop of green gel food dye to it. Mix gently. Add the mango flavor and a drop of orange food dye to the second portion of the batter.  Spoon the green mixture into two sections of the pan, spoon the orange batter on the two remaining sections.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan. When completely cold, remove from the pan and trim if needed. Brush the mango jam onto the long sides of the cakes and join one plain and one pink slice together and then one pink and one plain on top, creating a checkered pattern. Now brush the jam over all the sides. The jam is what glues the marzipan to the cake, so make sure you have a  thin coating all over the surfaces, and also in between the  four individual parts.

Roll out the marzipan on some sugar, making a rectangle approximately 8 x 12 inches. Place the cake on to the marzipan so that one edge is lined up to the edge of the marzipan (see my composite photo below). Trim away any surplus marzipan and both ends of the cake with a sharp knife. Decorate the top, if you so desire.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I first saw this cake on the Great British Baking Show, and was mesmerized by it. Of course, they made the poor contestants improvise a pan using folded parchment paper, and then go into heavy hyperventilation as the two-colored batters baked in that iffy environment. I followed a safer route and got the right tool for the job. Shocking, I know…

If you browse the internet and cookbooks, you’ll see countless variations on Battenberg, many will have not four, but 9 blocks of two-color bakes. In that case the easiest way is to bake two large cakes and cut blocks from them, assembling them in alternating colors. The traditional version has a single flavor, almond, and half the batter gets food coloring, usually pink.

I used the recipe that came with the pan as a starting point, as I reasoned it would generate the perfect amount of batter. The recipe called for British self-raising flour which is different from that sold in the US.  I made the British version from scratch (it is essentially 2 tsp baking powder per cup of all-purpose flour).  To take the cake into a more tropical atmosphere, I chose lime and mango in the form of lime zest (inspired by this cake from Philip), and Amoretti mango flavoring. Great product, by the way. I highly recommend it .

The cake was a perfect project for a rainy Sunday…

This was my second time working with marzipan (first time was for the Fraisier Cake), but in the Battenberg the marzipan plays a much more prominent role. You need to make sure it is rolled with uniform thickness (not too thin so it won’t crack as you fold it), and that you have enough marzipan to cover the whole cake. So, measure twice and roll away. Any imperfections on the edge of the cake and marzipan layer will disappear once you trim it. As the baker, you are allowed to nibble on the trimmings, but it is absolutely mandatory to share with any four-legged creatures in your home. Which explains that I barely had any, magnanimous soul that I am. Buck and Oscar were in absolute heaven, BogeyQT™ inhaled it all so fast, I doubt his taste buds had a chance to fire. Not much I can do about it. Such is the life of a 75-pound dalmatian.

If Battenberg Cake appeals to you, I urge you to visit Philip’s blog,
he has many versions, one better than the other.
Check them out with a click here.

The cake turned out wonderful, both flavors complemented each other well… and what’s even better, it was highly appreciated by our colleagues next day!

Now I want to pick new pairings of flavor… chocolate and orange, coconut and lime, white chocolate and strawberries… the possibilities are endless!

ONE YEAR AGO: Salzburg Sourdough

TWO YEARS AGO: If I had One Hour

THREE YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

FIVE YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

SIX YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

NINE YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

 

 

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: OCTOBER 2018

Time to feature recipes that are so simple they hardly qualify as such.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

AIR-FRIED CHICKPEAS
(also work in a regular oven)

AIR-FRIED CHICKPEAS

1 can chickpeas
a little olive oil
spices of your choice (I used Southwest mix from Penzey’s)
salt
grated Parmigiano cheese

Drain the chickpeas and dry them on paper towels. You need to prevent them from steaming, as much as possible. Place them in a bowl, coat lightly with olive oil, and add the spices of your choice, just a little sprinkle will do. Season with salt.

Spray the basket of your air-fryer with olive oil. Set it to 360 F. Add the chickpeas and roast them for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the basket every five minutes or so.  Transfer them to a serving bowl, and sprinkle Parmigiano while they are hot. Enjoy right away, or store them for many hours at room temperature, uncovered. They are still excellent next day.

If using a regular oven, set it to 400F, and roast the chickpeas for 25 to 30 minutes.

to print the recipe, click here

I’ve made them both ways, oven and air-fryer. The air-fryer gives a little more crunch, so it is my favorite method. The fact that it is so fast does not hurt it either!  Beware, they are addictive. Perfect to nibble as appetizer but also quite good sprinkled over salads, spinach in particular goes well with crunchy chickpeas. Curry is a great spice to add to them before air-frying/roasting. Make sure to save them in an open bowl, they keep their crunchy nature better that way. Not that they will last that long.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

LEMONY SAUTEED ZUCCHINI

LEMONY ZUCCHINI

Prepare enough zucchini pieces to almost cover a 12-inch non-stick frying pan, like shown below:


Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat until almost smoking. Add the pieces of zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and do not touch them. Let them develop a dark golden color on the side touching the pan, like shown below:

Only when they get to this point, move them to get some color on another side. Again, move them as little as possible, and wait for a deep color to develop. When the zucchini is tender (but not mushy), squeeze lemon juice all over, and shake the pan to move the slices around and gently coat them with the lemony glaze that forms.  Serve immediately, adjust seasoning if necessary.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

SMOKED RICE

Smoked rice, you ask? I first read about it in a blog I follow, Love and Olive Oil. Lindsay bought some smoked Basmati rice and raved about it. I was intrigued, and decided to take the smoke into my own hands. If you don’t have a smoker, you can follow the method described hereIf you have an electric smoker, it’s quite straightforward…

Add hickory wooden chips (or any wood you like) to the smoker

and set it to 175 F.

Place 2 cups of rice on a quarter-sheet baking pan.

Smoke it for one hour.

Allow it to cool completely, and cook the rice as you normally would.

 

I cooked one cup and saved another smoked cup for later. I was afraid that the rice would be all clumped up, because I did not want to rinse it after smoking. To my surprise, it was super fluffy, all grains well separated. The hour of heating at 175 F did not hurt anything, quite the contrary.  The rice had just the right amount of smokiness, and was excellent as a side dish for some sausages cooked sous-vide. We are smoking rice quite often these days…

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

SOUS-VIDE ITALIAN SAUSAGES

SOUS-VIDE ITALIAN SAUSAGES

5 Italian sausages
1/2 cup Lager beer
salt and pepper

Heat the sous-vide to 170 F.

Place the sausages inside a food-safe plastic bag. Add the beer, season with a little salt and pepper.  Use the water displacement method to close the bag.

Submerge the bag and cook the sausages for 1  to 3 hours.

Remove the sausages from the bag, discard the cooking liquid. Dry the sausages very well, and crisp them up on a non-stick pan with a light coating of oil, or on a hot grill.

The sausages cooked sous-vide can also be kept in the fridge for a couple of days. When you want to serve them, place them in hot water for 5 minutes, then proceed to saute them as described.

to print the recipe, click here

Sous-vide sausages, smoked rice, and a little butternut squash on the side…

When we cook sausages on the grill, we go through a pretty elaborate method of switching them from the grill to a pan with simmering beer on top of the stove. They go back and forth, back and forth, from simmering to the grill, to make sure they end up moist and flavorful. The sous-vide delivers the same quality in terms of texture, without any hassle at all. I doubt I will cook this type of sausage any other way. Even warmed up in the microwave two days later, they were excellent.  If you have a sous-vide gadget, give it a try.

I realize that this series of Incredibly Easy recipes used an air-fryer, electric smoker, and a sous-vide, but except for the Italian sausages, all others can be prepared without any special cooking equipment.

ONE YEAR AGO: Parsnip, Coconut and Lemongrass Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

THREE YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

SIX YEARS AGO: Bourbon and Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

NINE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

BOURBON-GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PEA PESTO

At the risk of having some readers running away, I inform that this was made sous-vide. But, you can adapt to your favorite method of cooking without problems. I made the glaze and the pesto the day before, and started the tenderloin in the sous-vide at lunch time, for a fantastically easy dinner on a Thursday evening. As I pat myself on the back, allow me to share the recipe with you.

BOURBON-GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PEA PESTO
(adapted from Modernist Cooking Made Easy)

1 pork tenderloin (450g to 900g)
small pat of butter
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

for the Bourbon glaze:
1 cup bourbon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne chile powder
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
Salt and pepper

for the pesto:
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup packed fresh spinach
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper

At least 3 to 6 hours before serving heat a water bath to 150°F (or your favorite temperature for this type of meat).  Salt and pepper the pork then rub the lemon juice all over it. Place the pork in a sous vide bag with the butter then use the water displacement method to close the bag. Cook the pork for 3 to 6 hours.

Make the glaze by mixing together all ingredients in a pan, and simmering for about 30 minutes, until thickened. Reserve in the fridge if made in advance.

Make the pesto by adding all ingredients up to olive oil to the bowl of a food processor. When it’s all very smooth, add the olive oil, stir the Parmigiano cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  It is better if made in advance so that the flavors have a chance to develop together.  

At dinner time, heat  your grill or the broiler in the oven.  Remove the pork from the sous vide bag and pat dry. Brush the tenderloin with the glaze and sear it on the first side for a couple of minutes. Brush the glaze on the side facing up and turn the tenderloin. Repeat several times until it is coated with the glaze, cooking about 30 to 60 seconds per turn. Remove from the heat, brush once more with the glaze, slice and serve with the pesto at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The composite photo above shows how I almost pulled my left hamstring. I started “simmering” the components of the glaze, but evidently things got out of control, and I happened to catch the scene from the other side of the kitchen. Let’s say I arrived in time to prevent a huge mess, but not without some discomfort on a big muscle that was not happy with the unexpected sprint. Oh, well. It was all worth it. The glaze is pretty spectacular. And yes, I increased the heat again to catch it on camera because it was quite beautiful in its own adrenaline-inducing way. Reminded me of the lab in Brazil, when we used to throw dry ice in hot coffee. Fun times. Have you ever done that? Pretty cool, check it out here.

But, where was I? Oh, yes, our dinner. The pesto was wonderful too, but hubby preferred it warmed up, more like a pea puree of sorts. I like the contrast of cold with hot food, but I can actually enjoy it both ways. I leave the idea here, so you can decide how to serve it.  On a chilly evening, the puree idea is quite attractive.

Those familiar with sous-vide cooking might be wondering why I chose water displacement instead of vacuum sealing the bag. I’ve cooked pork tenderloin both ways, and in my opinion the vacuum sealing is too strong for this delicate type of meat. I find that it compresses the meat too much. By using the water replacement, it cooks with a perfect texture. Give it a try…

Great weeknight dinner! Pork, pea pesto, and roasted butternut squash.

ONE YEAR AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Naturally Sweet

TWO YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

THREE YEARS AGO: Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

SIX YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

NINE YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

 

IN MY KITCHEN: OCTOBER 2018


Summer is over. I know, it’s pathetic and makes me want to cry. On the bright side, though, it is time to invite you for a virtual tour of our kitchen. In My Kitchen is a fun tradition started by Celia and now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Stop by their virtual spots to say hello…

I like to start by sharing the gifts that found their way into our kitchen…. This time I have only one, but super special. From my beloved, a paint sprayer! No, I am not re-decorating the kitchen, this one will be devoted to spraying chocolate. How cool is that?

If you’ve been around lately, you probably saw my first adventure with it. Stay tuned for more…

In our kitchen…

This could be considered a gift too. After all, I bought it, but Phil slaved away to install it for me. A rack. Born to hold nail polish, but evolved into something much better.

Finally all my food dyes and powder dusts are organized and very easy to work with. I still have some space left for food dye emergencies of the unexpected kind. Or maybe a nail polish or two…

 

In our kitchen…

Stuff we’ll definitely miss now that summer is over… Look at those cute eggs!  They had been laid just hours before we brought them home.


In our kitchen…

Jams from our favorite producer, Maury Island Farm. I’ve featured them before, and it was time to get some new flavors like Boysenberry (you will see a post using this jam very soon). Those berries have a very interesting story, if you like to read about them, click here (but come back to walk with me through our kitchen). We also got Seedless Raspberry (perfect for the filling of certain French cookies), and a Blackberry-Blueberry mix. They are all fantastic!

In our kitchen…

Aji-Amarillo sauce. This is a product from Peru, and I highly recommend you give it a try, in case you’ve never had it. The jar says “hot pepper”, but I actually find it pretty mild, very flavorful. I normally add it to marinades together with yogurt, and use it either in chicken breasts or pork tenderloin. Just last week I added some to my default turkey burger recipe and it was a nice move, trust me. The color is gorgeous, pure turmeric-like yellow.

In our kitchen…

Japanese goodies!

Can you tell I am slightly obsessed with all things Japan? The roasted green tea was not easy to find, but totally worth it. The roasting process not only reduces the caffeine level, but it makes the tea taste quite smooth. It has a brown-golden color instead of the usual light green, and a more assertive smell. I intend to use it in baking too, in fact the first time I heard about it was in one of my Japanese baking cookbooks.

The little vial next to it is a ground pepper called Sancho. Think about a Chinese Szechuan pepper (with that interesting numbing characteristic), married to lime zest. I sprinkle it over fried eggs, and also find it particularly good on grilled salmon.

The other two products are related to yuzu, a unique Japanese fruit with strong citric flavor. I was lucky to find those items in our Oriental store in town, but the owner told me they are not always available. Lucky, lucky me. The bottle of yuzu juice is quite small, so after I use it for a special dessert, I will freeze it in cubes for future adventures. The marmalade will find its way to my beloved’s Ak-Mak crackers and some special dessert concoctions I have in mind.

In our kitchen…

I cannot fight the passing of the seasons, so I embrace it instead. Aren’t those the cutest toppings for cupcakes? And, speaking of toppings, I’ve got a couple more for you…

Beware of this company: Fancy Sprinkles. You can break your baking budget if you do not exercise caution browsing their MANY products. You’ve been warned. I managed to escape with just these two. Can you guess what I used the one on the right for?

In our kitchen…

Amoretti is another company I found out about through Macaron-Obsessed folks on Facebook. Amoretti makes very concentrated, natural flavors, and bakers go crazy for them. Oddly enough, I did not use the mango essence for macarons (not yet, that is), but for a tropical-ish cake. Not to sound repetitive, I have to say “stay tuned.”

In our kitchen…

I am so in love with this one! It is a pistachio bowl with a clever design. You get the pistachios, and discard the shells in the lower compartment. Of course, you could use it for olives, peanuts, or anything that you want.Or forget the waste function and use the two bowls independently. They are made of high quality plastic, sturdy and cute.

In our kitchen…

A baking mat to roll out cookie dough, pie dough, marzipan, or even to knead bread dough. It is better than most around. I like its size (not too big, not too small), the fact that it shows measurements both in inches and centimeters, and the way it glues to the surface, no slipping around. I love it. It is amazing the number of nice gadgets I learn about from being around serious bakers on Facebook groups. When they recommend something, I pay attention. Same goes for Craftsy classes online. Great source of tips on the right tools for any job.

In our kitchen…

Another very interesting gadget, this time I saw it in a cookbook. It does a fantastic job to uniformly soak genoise cake layers. Of course, you can use a spoon, a silicone brush, but it is tedious and hard to judge if you are soaking one spot too much and ignoring another. This bottle showers a constant amount as you go over the layer of cake with it. A pleasure to use, and very efficient.

In our kitchen…

Sourdough bread… a regular appearance in our kitchen, particularly now that I’m using a superstar starter. Elaine’s Star is one powerful mix! This was a White Cheddar-Sundried Tomato loaf, absolutely delicious. I will share the details next month. 

In our kitchen…

Watermelon Sorbet, made by my beloved. In fact, after juicing a watermelon bigger than a newborn baby, he proceeded to make sorbet three evenings in a row. Watermelon-Banana (with a touch of Cointreau), Watermelon-Blackberry (with a touch of pepper vodka), and Watermelon-Strawberry (also with a smidgen of vodka).  He enjoyed it with diced up dried mango bits and a cookie. Happy man. The ice cream maker is now stored for its hibernation during the cold months ahead. Pass the Prozac Kleenex. I cannot help but get hysterical emotional.

Well, I must stop here and say goodbye, see you in 2019… It’s been great to… wait, wait… what’s all this annoying barking, and biting of my ankles?

Ah, the pups… Insistent to have their five minutes of fame on the blog.

 

Ok, ok, they can join the tour too. I start with a little video, to show you how “well-trained” they are. Not very easy to make three derelicts perform a trick on the same small space, but somehow Phil got it done. Of course, Buck does three roll-overs for every one his brothers attempt to do. That pup is always ready to show his skills, even before we give the command…

This summer was pretty awesome for the Magnificent Trio. They went for long walks with us almost every evening, to profit from the long days, and to say hello to their new best friends, the horses. Well, we’ll skip the bit about Buck trying to bite the nose of the biggest one. He is our little pot of honey…

We pass through many farms, and in one particular spot we like to stop and feed the largest group of horses around. I used to be terrified of horses, but you can see I’m much better now.

The pups get along well, for the most part, but there is quite a bit of posturing and rivalry between the resident alpha dog, aka Oscar For the Love of God Stop, and BogeyQT™.

Oscar lies on Bogey’s bed at every opportunity, and firmly believes “if it matches my fur, it is mine.”

BogeyQT™ fires back with sharp criticism of his brother’s looks: “You need to trim these eyebrows, you look ridiculous and dishevelled.”  This is what a pair of handsome dog’s eyes should look like:

Are you on drugs? Your eyes have a bald and desolate appearance! And allow me to point out that your nose is so big it does not fit in the photo.  Whereas mine… it is the definition of a well-proportioned canine body part. I could move back to Hollywood (where “I” was born), and make some serious cash in the movies.

BALONEY!

Osky and BQT™ live in parallel realities. Literally, it seems…


Buck floats above all the non-sense, with his royal poise and dignity…

That, of course, rubs the brothers the wrong way…

And cannot even keep his nose clean. What a travesty!

But they all agree on one point: they live for the weekend!

 

Unfortunately, weekdays were not the worse to happen to them
since our last virtual tour…

Why? Oh, why???? We haven’t done anything wrong!

Or… have we?

Yes, we did have a work-related trip, and left them behind for a few days. But as usual, we came back to rescue them and resume our delicious routine…

That’s all for now, folks!  See you with in January 2019 for my next IMK… 

Thank you, Sherry for hosting! I invite my readers to stop by Sherry’s Pickings to take virtual tours of many kitchens around the world!

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2017

TWO YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

THREE YEARS AGO: Coxinha de Galinha: A Brazilian Delicacy

FOUR YEARS AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Simple Dinner

SIX YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

NINE YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

GRILLED LAMB-STUFFED PITA BREAD

Amazing recipe. Ground lamb and grill take your mind to hamburger or koftas, right? But by enclosing it all inside a pita bread, you’ll have something totally different and incredibly tasty.  I first saw the recipe on a TV show by America’s Test Kitchen, then noticed variations of it in several Middle Eastern cookbooks. If you enjoy the flavor of lamb, give it a try. It’s a real keeper.

GRILLED GROUND LAMB PITAS
(adapted from The Splendid Table)

2 pounds ground lamb
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 (8-inch) pita breads

Mince cilantro very well. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in oil, lemon zest and juice, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon. Add lamb and knead gently with your hands until thoroughly combined.

Using kitchen shears, cut around perimeter of each pita and separate into 2 halves. Place 4 thicker halves on counter with interiors facing up. Divide lamb mixture into 4 equal portions and place 1 portion in center of each pita half. Using spatula, gently spread lamb mixture into even layer, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge. Top each with thinner pita half. Press each sandwich firmly until lamb mixture spreads to ¼ inch from edge of pita. Transfer sandwiches to large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Place sandwiches on hot grill, cover, and cook until bottoms are evenly browned and edges are starting to crisp, 7 to 10 minutes, moving sandwiches as needed to ensure even cooking. Flip sandwiches, cover grill, and continue to cook until second sides are evenly browned and edges are crisp, 7 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer sandwiches to cutting board and cut each in half crosswise. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you look at the original recipe, you’ll see that I considerably reduced the amount of spices (and also the amount of olive oil, as lamb has enough fat). I tend to do that very often. In my opinion many recipes use too heavy a hand with spices, so that the flavor of the food itself becomes secondary. In this particular preparation, I prefer to let the taste of the meat shine a bit more. Do as you must to suit your taste. We loved these pitas, they were a complete meal with just the right amount of carbs to satisfy, and the lamb nicely seasoned.

You can adapt this method to ground turkey, ground beef, or even go vegetarian and make some type of garbanzo bean, mushroom concoction inside. That would be wonderful too, I am sure.

I made a pin for you…

ONE YEAR AGO: Elderflower Macarons (one of my favorite blog posts!)

TWO YEARS AGO: A Duet of Sorbets

THREE YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

FOUR YEARS AGO: Spiralizer Fun

FIVE YEARS AGO: Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak

SIX YEARS AGO:  Secret Recipe Club: Corn Chowda

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Page-A-Day Calendar (Pits and Chief 5 minutes of fame…)

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Home Sweet Home (our beloved Pits in one of his last photos)

NINE YEARS AGO: Marbled Rye

 

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