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

SPICY COTIJA & BLACK OLIVE SOURDOUGH

OCTOBER 16th IS WORLD BREAD DAY!

Sometimes I like a pure sourdough bread, one that allows just the flavor of the flour (a little rye is mandatory) to come through. Other times I get into a daring mode and try to come up with unusual or at least new to me combinations.  I’ve made a sourdough before with some Sriracha in the dough, and loved the outcome.  I decided to repeat it in this formula, but also included Mexican cheese (Cotija, a favorite of mine), and some special black olives that were on sale at our grocery store. To take the bread into a deeper Mexican path, I included some cornmeal in the formula too.  I love to see the olives peeking through the crust. Like Pavlov’s pup, I start to salivate…

cotija-sourdough
SPICY COTIJA AND BLACK OLIVE SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

for the levain:
15 g starter at 100% hydration
23 g water
23 g flour

for the soaker:
23g cornmeal (coarse)
75g boiling water
(mix and cool to room temperature before incorporating in the dough)

for the dough:
60 g levain
140 g water
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
all the soaker made as above
33 g spelt flour
208 g bread flour
6 g salt
80 g Cotija cheese in chunks
50 g black olives, pitted, diced fine.

Add starter to water and Sriracha, mix well. Add all flours, but leave salt behind. Incorporate the mixture into a shaggy mass, and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Add salt and mix well, it should get a little smoother.

Bulk rise the dough for a total of 5 hours, with folds every 45 minutes (4 times). Shape, retard in the fridge overnight. Bake at 450 F with initial steam. I removed shaped loaf from the fridge one hour before baking time.  Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Comments: I kept the cheese and the olives in reasonably large pieces. When you do that, the crumb structure won’t be particularly open, but I like the way the cheese gets very assertive in flavor once you bite into a piece. If you are a beginner at bread baking, cut into smaller pieces to make it easier to handle the dough. As you become more comfortable with the folding method, you can be more daring.  Particularly when adding nuts, it can be a bit of a challenge to fold the dough. But, once you shape and allow it to go for te final proof, all the goodies inside will find their perfect spot to be.

crumb

Phil made a full meal for himself the following evening resting a very tasty pan-fried red snapper on it, then crowning the whole thing with avocado slices. A sprinkle of black pepper and a squirt of lime juice on top, he was a very happy camper. I even got to try a bite…

meal

I am submitting this post to Bread Box Round Up,
hosted by Karen, the Bread Baking Goddess.

spicy-cotija-sourdough-from-bewitching-kitchen

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

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

FOUR YEARS AGO: October 16: World Bread Day

FIVE YEARS AGO: The US Listeria Outbreak 2011

SIX YEARS AGO: 36 Hour Sourdough Baguettes

SEVEN YEARS AGO: October 16 is World Bread Day

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CHICKEN THIGHS WITH ARTICHOKES AND CAPERS

If you are into Paleo recipes, make this dish!  If you are not into Paleo recipes, make this dish!  Yes, I am a bit bossy today, as a husband and a few graduate students might have noticed. But it’s all with good intentions, as I know what is good for them, for you, and maybe even for myself.  The inspiration for this recipe was found in one of my Kindle cookbooks, Make it Paleo II, by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley. They also have a food blog, Primal Palate, with great recipes and youtube videos. I always read the good and the bad reviews of a cookbook before buying it, and one of the reviewers at amazon.com said that this recipe alone was worth getting the book. I made it twice, once exactly as written, but in this post I am sharing my take on it, modified not only in flavor but also in the method itself. In their version, it is all made in a single skillet, but I did not want to turn on the big oven, so after browning the meat I transferred the pieces to a baking dish that fits in our Breville.

SkilletChickenThighs

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH ARTICHOKES AND CAPERS
(adapted from Make it Paleo II)

6 skin-on chicken thighs, boneless
Sea salt to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp za’tar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (6-oz) jar artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and drained
2 Tbsp capers
1 lemon, sliced into rounds and quartered

Heat the oven to 425°F. Heat a skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, removing as much moisture as possible. Season the skin with salt and place them skin side down in the hot skillet. Flip the thighs once they develop a nice brown sear on the skin, which should naturally make them easily release from the pan. Cook the chicken skin side up for 1 minute, then transfer to a baking dish, skin side up.  Season evenly with the oregano, za’tar, and  more black pepper to taste. Add the artichoke hearts, olives, capers, and lemon slices to the skillet. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  If you never de-boned a chicken thigh yourself, take a deep breath and try it, because it’s a nice skill to acquire in the kitchen. I don’t know what type of chicken meat your grocery store carries, but where we live I can find bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, and boneless, skinless.  The former I use for roasting all the time, but the skinless I reserve for either braises, stir-fries, or grilling (usually after a nice marinade with yogurt or some citric concoction).  You absolutely need boneless pieces with the skin on for this recipe, so if you cannot find it, roll your sleeves up and get working.  It was a bit of a struggle, but I got better and better as I did it.  I watched some videos on youtube to help me with the technique, but most videos available show professional chefs who handle the knife as if they were born with one in their hands.  Amazing to watch, but when trying to mimic them, my shortcomings became quite evident. I say take your time, put some soothing music on, and practice. By the way, if you don’t have za’tar, don’t worry. But get some, will you?  I must say it’s one of my favorite spice mixtures at the moment. Love it.

Phil is so addicted to my default recipe for chicken thighs, that at first he was disappointed by the different preparation. But, it took him only one bite to say that I should revisit this recipe whenever I feel like it. Two thumbs up!  So there you have it, make this dish because I said so, and Sally knows what’s best for everyone. HA!

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt

TWO YEARS AGO: Mushroom Stroganoff

THREE YEARS AGO: Tomato Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Gamberetti con rucola e pomodori

FIVE YEARS AGO: Flirting with Orzo

BLACK OLIVE SOURDOUGH BREAD

Inspired by a bread from Hamelman (Olive Levain), which I’ve made a few times in the past, I improvised on the basic sourdough method from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou and his “How to Make Bread“, that I recently blogged about.  You want this bread to deliver real big olive flavor, so keep the olives in large pieces, you can even leave some whole (but pitted, of course! 😉

BLACK OLIVE SOURDOUGH
(adapted from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou)

400 g (3 + 1/2 cups) bread flour
10 g (2 tsp) salt
200 g (3/4 cup) warm water
300 g (1 + 1/2 cups) sourdough starter (100% hydration)
4-5 ounces black olives (preferably Kalamata, pitted and chopped in large pieces – roughly 1 cup, loosely packed)

Add into one bowl the flour and the salt.   This is your dry mixture.

In another, larger bowl, mix the  water and the sourdough starter. This is  your wet mixture.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until it all comes together. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it stand for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, add the pieces of olives and knead the dough in the bowl, by pulling one portion of the dough from the side and pressing it down in the middle.  Repeat it turning the bowl slightly at each kneading, doing this kneading motion about 8 times and covering the full circumference of the ball of dough. The whole process should take about 20 seconds.   Cover the dough again and leave it resting for 10 minutes.

Repeat this kneading cycle three more times, 10 minutes apart.  Cover the bowl and let it rest for one hour.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and shape it  as a round ball,  coat the surface lightly with cornmeal or rice flour, and place it in a suitable container for the final rise.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size, which should take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on how active your starter was.

Heat the oven to 475 F, and have your method to generate steam ready.   Slide the bread on a parchment paper or a wooden peel, slash it, and place it in the oven.  I like to bake it over tiles, and place an inverted roasting pan moist with hot water over it for about 30 minutes, then remove it.   Once the bread is in the oven, reduce the temperature to 425 F.  Bake for a total of 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is over 200F.

Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I confessed before that I am a kalamata-cheerleader,  so this bread is obviously a favorite of mine.  I already have a spicy kalamata sourdough in the blog,  but in this version I took a minimalist approach and used only olives, nothing else.

Don’t worry if when you start kneading the dough, the pieces of olive insist on poking out, just let them be.   In the end, they will find their perfect spot in the crumb.   Try not to squish the pieces too much as you fold or knead the dough.

I used cornmeal to coat the surface of the bread during proofing, because I ran out of rice flour, but in the end it turned out pretty good, the cornmeal gave the bread an interesting golden hue, and did a good job releasing the proofed bread from the banetton.

I am sending this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting, make sure you stop by to get inspired by all the baking going on this past week…   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Buttermilk Cluster

TWO YEARS AGO: Farfalle, Farfalle

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EVERYDAY FOOD TO THE RESCUE

Last week, on a very busy day in which I had zero inspiration for cooking dinner, the daily email from Martha Stweart’s Everyday Food was a life saver.  It arrived mid-morning as usual,  and featured a grilled pork tenderloin with a simple soy-citrus marinade.  I had a tenderloin in the fridge, and all ingredients needed for the marinade.   Side dish?   Orzo sounded great, so I searched for recipes on the same website, and one of the top choices was “Toasted Orzo with Olives and Lemon”.   The clouds left the horizon,  blue skies announced that my dinner blues were gone.  And you’ll get both recipes in a single post!  😉


PORK TENDERLOIN WITH SOY, GINGER, AND LIME
(adapted from Everyday Food)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), trimmed of excess fat and silver skin

In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, oil, and ginger. Add pork to the marinade, turning to coat well on all sides. Marinate in the fridge for several hours to overnight.

Remove meat from marinade, and pat it dry.  Season it very lightly with salt, and grill for 7 minutes on a hot grill.  Turn the meat to grill the opposite side, and grill for 6 minutes more.  Without opening the grill, turn the heat off and let the meat stay inside for 5 minutes.   Remove the meat from the grill, tent it with foil, and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

to print the recipe, click here


TOASTED ORZO WITH OLIVES AND LEMON
(adapted from Everyday Food)

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound orzo (1 + 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt and ground pepper
1/4  cup slivered black olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add 2 cups of water and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover, and simmer until orzo is al dente and liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in olives, parsley, lemon juice, and remaining tablespoons of olive oil, if desired (I omitted this step).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  What a great dinner this was! Ready in less than 30 minutes, all I had to do was make the marinade at lunch time (but you can do it in the morning, if you don’t go home for lunch), and by the time we came home from work, dinner was a cinch to make.

I used the 7-6-5 grilling method for the pork tenderloin, because it works well with pretty much any type of marinade or dry rub.  It is easy to take care of the rest of the meal when all you have to do is set a timer and move the meat around when it goes off.

Toasting the orzo is what makes this side dish so special.  I’ve used a similar method before in one of the simplest and greatest recipes I’ve made last year, the “Carrot Nib Orzo”.  If until now you’ve only treated orzo as a normal pasta, boiling in salted water, please try either of these recipes, you will be more than pleasantly surprised by the improvement in taste and texture.

ONE YEAR AGO: Weekend Pita Project

TWO YEARS AGO:  Mandioca Frita 101 – Fried Yucca Root (Brazilian Food at its best!)

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ANCHOVIES, THE FINAL FRONTIER

This is my 300th post!

While growing up I was a picky eater.  The list of things I avoided was huge, including most vegetables (except for tomatoes and potatoes) and all kinds of seafood.   Invitations for dinner at a friend’s home made me worry for days, thinking about what to do if they served such or such an item. When my friends suggested a night out for sushi, I made sure that the restaurant had other choices (and I don’t mean miso soup or tempura!  ;-)).  But, in my twenties the food aversions started to bother me.    Even though I had trouble admitting it, I wanted to be a person who could appreciate any type of food that a host served me, and stop worrying about my humongous list of neurotic restrictions.

Slowly but surely I experimented  with things I disliked: a small bite here, a taste there, and to my surprise, I found that the worst part of the experience was not the food itself, but its anticipation, … the fear of it.  When I was 30 I’d overcome almost all my food aversions, and each one felt like a small victory. Nevertheless, one item stubbornly refused to capitulate: anchovies.  I recently set on a mission to change that.  Following  Jeffrey Steingarten in his great book “The Man Who Ate Everything,”   I’ll slowly  introduce anchovies in my cooking.  This recipe is my first step on the path to  enjoying them.

PASTA PUTTANESCA
(adapted from Fine Cooking, October 2010)

salt
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2  cloves garlic, minced
2-3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
One 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 lb. dried spaghetti
1/2 cup pitted brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs. nonpareil capers, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil with the garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant, but not too dark, about 2 minutes.  Add the anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the tomatoes,  increase the heat to medium high, bring to a boil, and then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

After adding the tomatoes to the pan, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions until al dente.

When the tomato sauce is ready, add the olives, capers, and oregano and stir. Simmer until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain well. Return the pasta to the pot, set it over medium-low heat, pour in the sauce, and toss, adding cooking water as needed for the sauce to coat the pasta. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Pasta puttanesca was a perfect option for anchovies, because it has so many other flavors in the sauce: capers, black olives and herbs.  I felt a little uneasy opening the can of oil-packed anchovies, took a careful sniff and tried to concentrate on “umami” instead of “impossibly fishy.”  I had no idea that they would splatter so much in the pan, loudly announcing their presence  and making  a mess on the stove.  Next time I’ll be better prepared!

The verdict?  I detected a hint of the salty, smoky flavor of the anchovies, but nothing offensive.  This time I only used two filets, just to be safe, but the next time I’ll  add three.   Some day I want a slice of pizza with one of those small fish laying defiantly on top, but it may take more time!

Puttanesca is a hearty dish that will stand on its own as a meal, but because I wasn’t sure about it, I also prepared plan B: grilled flank steak.   It was really a tasty match!

ONE YEAR AGO:  Hoisin Explosion

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