Stir Fried Greens with Crispy, Spicy Rice Noodles

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We recently returned from 10 glorious, 87 degree days in Miami to the brutally stark contrast of 7” of snow and no food in the house. My immediate thought was of course our serious food shortage situation. So before more snow fell I needed to get to the grocery store and stock up. My second thought was to ensure that I stocked up on greens. And that is all due to our eating patterns during this last trip. Normally when we are in Miami we eat fairly lean. Lots of salads, fresh cut fruit and lighter fare. But this trip was indulgence, and more. More of everything and anything, including sun. So my NY shop was going to be all about getting back us back on track. I filled my cart with lots of produce to make soups and sautéd veggies. And I was on a good track except that as I was looking for true buckwheat noodles, meaning no wheat, just buckwheat a lady placed a package of rice noodles back on the shelf. What else could I do but grab them? Now with my shopping cart busting, and some noodles to make me smile, I went home. (Notice that I didn’t have a third thought of how cold it was. I was betting on the “let’s not focus on the mound of snow” attitude.)

First, I made two different soups which we slurped up for 2 days. But I really didn’t feel like slurping anymore and needed to chew on something, and not just drink my meals. As I stared down at all those greens stir fry was the immediate light bulb. And even though there was snow on the ground, I ventured out to the shed to get our plancha* as thoughts of stir fried noodles and veggies floated in my head and made my tummy gurgle.

*plancha = flat metal grilling surface or pan

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Serious commitment to cooking.

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Serious commitment to cooking.

I was fully aware that I was getting a jump start on dinner by cooking at 11am. So I resigned to the idea of eating this dish for lunchtime and making enough to share with ‘others’ (my hubby and sister) so they could enjoy at dinner time.

Here’s what I pulled out of the fridge.

A bounty of greens

A bounty of greens

Scallions, Cilantro, Swiss Chard, Carrot, Onion, Baby Kale, Baby Bok Choy.

First things first. You should know the drill by now. MISE EN PLACE, people. Cut it all up and ready it for stir frying. I grabbed just handful of each. This is stir fry so you can add as much of each as you like. Amounts are of no consequence here. Let me say that again. Amounts DO NOT matter. Use what you like or what you have.

Now that is a beautiful board full of chopped up veggies.

Now that is a beautiful board full of chopped up veggies.

Look at the vibrancy of that chard!

Look at the vibrancy of that chard!

I’m not usually a big fan of bok choy, but this fresh and tender and tossed with noodles, that’s another story.

I’m not usually a big fan of bok choy, but this fresh and tender and tossed with noodles, that’s another story.

Before I tackled stir frying the veggies, I cooked my rice noodles and set them aside. Then on my plancha, I added olive oil and two veggies at a time. I cooked each one separately to keep their integrity. Plus I wanted this dish to have the same feel and eating style as you often see in a big bowl of Asian soup. You know the kinds where all the toppings are sectioned off on the top of the soup and you stir them in as you wish.

I gathered my mise en place board of nutrients, and readied them up next to the plancha for easy grabbing. I only seasoned the veggies with salt, pepper and drizzle of sesame oil as each one cooked, then plated them onto a large platter before enhancing the noodles that were standing by.

The real seasonings was going on the noodles.

The rice noodles I just had to grab. I love me some noodles.

The rice noodles I just had to grab. I love me some noodles.

It fits perfectly over two burners. I love this plancha.

It fits perfectly over two burners. I love this plancha.

Bok Choy and onions getting stirred with love.

Bok Choy and onions getting stirred with love.

A good shot of vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin B

A good shot of vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin B

Once everything was stirred with love I got a slurry of spiced sauces ready. In a cup I mixed a tablespoon of red curry paste, a heaping tablespoon of Thai chili paste, half tablespoon of chili oil and 1/2 cup of olive oil, and a tad of sesame oil. I didn’t actually use all of it. You can use as much or as little heat as you desire.

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Having left the scallions on the plancha, I dumped my cooked rice noodles onto the grill and drizzled the slurry on top, then let it cook away until some parts got crispy. I added in the cilantro, then I cut some more and added it to the top.

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Done and done. I couldn’t stop eating this. I think I ate too much. So much for eating light again. Sure there were greens, but in order to truly accomplish the lean eating I would have needed to swap the noodle to veggie ratio a bit. Something I recommend you do if you don’t want to rice noodle your way into a carb coma… like I pleasantly did. What can I say, I love noodles.

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A Pork Full Sandwich & More

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You may remember way, way back I wrote about our travels to Chile and the biggest, sloppiest, oddest pork sandwich we encountered, Germany in Chile - A Super(bowl) Pork Sandwich. Thanks to the advice of the dearly missed, uber-talent of Anthony Bourdain, JuanCarlos and I visited one of his restaurant recommendations. The draw to the unusual German spot was a pork sandwich called the ‘lomito’; for what Tony described as a ‘towering monument all its own’ and delicious. And it was. (To watch the episode, and you should, visit Anthony Bourdain No Reservations. I miss him and his thoughtful insights into cultures around the world. A moment of pause for his passing.)

The sandwich was not just good because we were tired, starving and practically had lost hope on finding a place to eat. It was good because it was filled with individually good foods that seemingly didn’t go together, but somehow worked.

I promised way back then that I would try to recreate it. It may have taken awhile, but JC and I finally did. Mind you, this was not exactly that sandwich but it was our homage to the lomito. Nothing truly can ever be the original experience. But according to our guests, ours was delicious.

First you have to make the pork. Or you can buy cooked pork from a specialty market. You can go two different avenues - the pulled pork kind or roast pork slices. Here is what we did with JuanCarlos leading the charge on the pork as I captured his messy hands along the way. If you make your own pork, bare in mind that you have to start a day (or 2 depending on what time you need to serve it) ahead of time because once the pork is marinated it needs rest in the fridge for several hours or overnight, plus the cook time of an additional 7 hours. So, this is not one of those “let’s make pork” tonight recipes.

The spice rub line up.

The spice rub line up.

The pork shoulder. Definitely a piece of meat you can lean on.

The pork shoulder. Definitely a piece of meat you can lean on.

Ingredients

We used Ree Drummond Pork Recipe as a guide, but added a few of our own ingredients. Below were the amounts we used. Follow the linked recipe for cooking. JC made two modifications. He didn’t refrigerate overnight, and he cooked the pork for only 6 hours. This gave us pork slices instead of shreds but I would be careful doing it this way as it is easy to run the risk of the pork not being tender. If you are experienced with cooking pork shoulder, go ahead. If not, I would recommend cooking it according to the Ree’s recipe to get the pull of the pork. Also, we did not use BBQ sauce. We only used the luscious juices that it produced along with the onions.

For the Pork Roast

1 Pork Shoulder roast
1 t Cayenne
1 T Chili Pepper
1 t Cumin
2 T Anise Seeds
1 T Paprika
Bay Leaves
1/3 c Garlic
1/2 c Sugar in the Raw
1 heaping T salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
4 onions, cut into halves

 

For the Sandwich Fixings

Spicy Slaw
Guacamole (store bought)
Mayo or Yogurt Lemon Sauce
Sautéed Peppers & Onions
Buns

We used fresh garlic.

We used fresh garlic.

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After you have all the ingredients mixed together, lovingly rub the mixture ALL over (front and back) the pork. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Rub-a-dub-dub, Rub it with love.

Rub-a-dub-dub, Rub it with love.

Then place the pork in a large roasting pan on a bed of the onion halves and cook in a 300 degrees F. Roast until fork-tender and falling apart, about 7 hours. Remove the pork from the pot and set it on a cutting board. Slice some of the onion.

While you are waiting for the pork to cook, move on to making all the fillings. I decided that instead of the limp string beans, I would make a slaw. I used my Spicy Crunch Slaw recipe which I knew both the crunch and spice would work well with the pork. I bought guacamole because frankly I had way too many other things to make, and a good store bought one can be delicious. I made caramelized peppers and onions, and created my own type of ‘mayo’. I used half mayo, half greek yogurt with lemon juice to thin it a bit, salt and pepper, but you can use mayo if that’s your groove. Once I gathered all the ingredients, all that was left to do was to pile them onto a soft bun.

Everyone was ready and waiting to be piled on.

Everyone was ready and waiting to be piled on.

Guac first

Guac first

Start piling on the flavors. I think the slaw works nicely with the guacamole.

Start piling on the flavors. I think the slaw works nicely with the guacamole.

Pork and onions.

Pork and onions.

Creamy and tangy mixture of mayo, yogurt, salt and pepper.

Creamy and tangy mixture of mayo, yogurt, salt and pepper.

Sautéed peppers & onions.Simply slice them thin and slowly sauté them in oil and butter until they are soft and caramelized. Salt/pepper, too.

Sautéed peppers & onions.Simply slice them thin and slowly sauté them in oil and butter until they are soft and caramelized. Salt/pepper, too.

A platter full of pork with luscious juices and soft, flavorful onions.

A platter full of pork with luscious juices and soft, flavorful onions.

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Funny enough, my original blog post suggested that this was a Super(bowl) of a sandwich and I posted right before SuperBowl Sunday thinking you might serve it for the big game. And now, I am posting my recreation again right before the SuperBowl. So, now you can serve up this ‘towering monument’ of pork to your cheering fans. You may also want to include a charcuterie/cheese platter, as I did. A few other ideas for game day; maybe make my 3 Dips or my Tapenesto. Great choices for a crowd. No matter what you serve, you are a winner in my book.

 

Dana's Nuts - Granola and Spiced & Candied Nut Offering

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Well, haven’t we all thought that at one time or another. This time it is true. I’m nuts. Nuts for sharing good things. Nuts for sharing the love. And one that will take you from morning to night time snacking.

Although, the sharing part is a bit ironic since this period marks the first time that I haven’t posted on a weekly basis. It actually felt odd and sad and weird, like something was missing in my life. The lack of posts were not because I haven’t been making a mess in the kitchen and inventing. Exactly the opposite. I have been cooking up things to offer you. A different type of offering. Instead of providing recipes that you may not have a chance to make, I will provide the actual result of the recipe. How’s that for an offering? I realize that some of you enjoy homemade but just don’t have the time for homemade. You appreciate the quality and taste of small batch food made with love but just aren’t always able to do that for yourself. I totally get it. So, I’ve launched an idea that people have been suggesting, asking, begging for for years - offering some of my baked goods for sale. (Of course, some of you have also urged me to open a restaurant. Now, I’m willing to tackle some suggestions… Others, not so much, but thanks for the vote of confidence.)

I have been giving baked goods as gifts for quite a while now, and each time I’ve heard, “I wish you would sell these. I would buy them.” So, I pinch my nose and take the deep plunge, starting small with ideas for growth. I’m keeping things simple just to get the ball rolling. My first offerings are my Crunchin’ Coconut Granola and Dana’s Nuts - Spicy & Candied.

My granola is made with oats, coconut, pepitas and sunflower seeds, oil and honey. Pure and simple. Baked to crunchy toasted perfection.

Crunchy goodness.

Crunchy goodness.

Once you get your bag home, place it in an airtight jar to keep it fresh.

Once you get your bag home, place it in an airtight jar to keep it fresh.

Since I know some of you eat granola regularly, my goal is to offer it on a monthly subscription basis, too. This way you are assured to get your granola every month, just in time to top off your morning yogurt, or evening ice cream. So, I welcome the comments to see if this is a service you would enjoy signing up for. The monthly cost of the granola would naturally be discounted from a single purchase. For now, single purchase is what I can offer, but with your feedback, subscription granola could be on the future horizon.

Enjoy it with yogurt, or milk. Or eat it like my husband does - with a spoon right out of the jar.

Enjoy it with yogurt, or milk. Or eat it like my husband does - with a spoon right out of the jar.

My Spiced & Candied Nuts are a mix of walnuts, cashews and peanuts baked with a spice mix and maple syrup. These nuts are the perfect blend of heat and sweet that keeps your hand grabbing for more. Ideal for a cocktail party or just as a snack. (There will be other nut mixes in the future.)

What goes better with a drink then a handful of nuts?

What goes better with a drink then a handful of nuts?

Ideal for a snack or a cocktail party.

Ideal for a snack or a cocktail party.

I hope you enjoy these treats. As always, I look forward to sharing with you in best way I know how, stirring life with goodness and love.

Please visit the SHOP page for more details. Happy Crunching.

Shop Granola
Shop Nuts

 
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Roasted & Spiced Cabbage Slabs

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Sometimes plain. Sometimes not.
Sometimes spiced, making it hot.

This little rhyme reminded me of an old commercial for chocolate bars. 
'Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't.' 

I realized it's exactly the same when adding spices. Sometimes you feel like spicing things up a bit while others times not.  It got me thinking about the last few recipes I posted.  In the category of 'sometimes plain', my recent post for a quick, pull together stir fry didn't utilize any spices. That recipe was all about letting the vegetables do the talking.  In the 'sometimes not' category, my recipe for cauliflower was all about zinging up the veg and making them sing.

Although I'm not feeling like a nut, I am definitely yearning more spice lately.  It could just be 2018, as many things are being spiced up for me this year. My 2017 was a bit bland, but 2018 is shaping up to be banging.

So with that, here's another spiced up idea for slabs of vegetables.  Given the recent slabbing of cauliflower and dousing with spices, the heads of cabbage were destined to meet the same fate.

Normally, my first 3 thoughts for using cabbage are:

  1. Slaw
  2. Soup
  3. Stir fry

On first viewing, I see cabbage and think of slaw. Hence being at the top of the list.  Then soup, then stir fry.  Since slaw is usually cold food/warm weather food- scratch that.  Number two on the list is soup and that completely fits the cold weather/warm food criteria, and was actually my intention when I bought them.  However, I just wasn't feeling soupy. And third on the list was stir fry.  And as you know, of the three cabbages I bought, the Savoy cabbage actually did make it into the stir fry recipe. But now I had two other heads staring back at me.  My need for variety coupled with my recent desire for spice was screaming at me, 'You can't make stir fry again!'   

Which forced me to add #4 to my hit list...

Roast it, baby!

Hey, this is not such a far fetched idea.  I roast everything.  Much like the cauliflower, it was time to heat things up both in temperature and flavor.

Once again, not wanting a big fuss because I had no idea how this would turn out or what I would serve this with, I kept the prep fairly simple.

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Ingredients

1 small purple cabbage, cut in 3/4 - 1" slabs
1 small green cabbage, cut in 3/4 - 1" slabs
1 rounded t each of cayenne, turmeric, paprika
1 t salt
¼ t red pepper flakes
1 heaping T freshly grated ginger
1 heaping T grated garlic
4-5 T olive oil

Instructions

Cut the cabbage in thick slabs and place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 T oil.

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In small bowl, mix the cayenne, turmeric and paprika. Then sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the cabbage slabs.

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In another small bowl, grate the ginger and garlic, add the red pepper flakes, salt and oil.  Mix and then brush on each slab.

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Roast in a 425 degree oven until soft in the middle and a little crisp on the edges, turning them to ensure they are well roasted on both sides. 

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Once they were done I will admit I wasn't sure what I would do with big spicy slabs.  Certainly, they could be served as a side dish with jasmine rice and grilled chicken or fish.  This would be great with Tikka Chicken and a cucumber yogurt sauce. But I didn't have any of that made, so I packed them up and stored them in the fridge.  As the next day dawned, these spiced cabbages solved a lunch dilemma.  I decided they would be the feature in Indian inspired tacos.  I sautéd some spinach and warmed the cabbage. Grilled corn tortillas melting some cheese on them. Then filled them with the vegetables and topping it with sour cream.  Quite the tasty bite.

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Sardinian Style Spaghetti

Rich with flavors from the sea balanced with sweetness from the tomatoes paired with Spanish wine from Menica,  Petalos

Rich with flavors from the sea balanced with sweetness from the tomatoes paired with Spanish wine from Menica, Petalos

One Sunday morning after getting home super late from a wonderful night out with friends, we rolled out of bed at 10am. Indeed, we slept in uber late, waking up still sleepy and without much motivation for anything. But given that we hit our pillows at 3:30a, I feel you understand. We ain't no spring chickens anymore.

So after our morning coffee and a little work, starving pangs hit our stomachs and brains at the same time. JC was jonesing for pasta, and no big surprise, so was I. It was Sunday after all.  Our pasta day.  I do feel quite responsible, and delighted at the same time, as I take full credit for conditioning him to crave pasta on Sundays. The two just go together.

We truly had zilch in the house. Not even parsley, which is considered a constant round these parts. I do, however, try to keep some staples in the pantry for just these occasions.  Knowing we had anchovies, sardines, garlic, red pepper flakes, I suggested a Sardinian style pasta from our stash. When I yammer on about creating something from nothing, this is exactly it.  Scrounging around the pantry, and fridge to see what might be viable options.  It's moments like these that having quality pantry items can be your hunger pangs' salvation.

JC was up for the challenge and immediately ran to carry out our plan.  I must say, he executed this perfectly, creating a spicy, salty mix reminiscent of that sexy Italian island.

Now, there are tons of recipes for Sardinian style pasta.  Some incorporate raisins and spices and other combinations which are all fantastic. And I implore you to experiment with them. But when you want pasta fast, easy and without having much in the fridge, but still delivering bold flavors, then try this one.  It will knock your socks off.  Again, the key is the quality of the canned ingredients. The ones we used truly enhanced this dish to the max. Since I work at Despaña, I have access to some delicious products. (And you can too, the website here ships all across the country.) These tiny tins pack so much flavor that you barely need to add anything else.  I will say that both the Spanish and the Italians have a knack for producing some of the best jarred and canned products. 

JC and me in the Italian countryside. Montespertoli, Tuscany

JC and me in the Italian countryside. Montespertoli, Tuscany

So with Spain providing a healthy boost to create the sauce, and Italy providing the idea of combining them together for pasta, it was a lovely marriage that resembles the one between this Italian American gal and her spicy Spanish man.

 
These Spanish fishes are canned at peak freshness and are absolutely delicious.  Despaña carries them both in their stores and website.

These Spanish fishes are canned at peak freshness and are absolutely delicious.  Despaña carries them both in their stores and website.

Ingredients

 

1 - 4 oz. tin sardines in olive oil
1 - 4 oz. tin sardines in hot sauce
1 - 4 oz. tin Baby Surimi Eel
2-4 anchovies, optional
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 c roasted tomatoes
1 T capers, drained and wash in water
pinch red pepper flakes
pinch dried oregano
2/3 c olive oil
1/2 lb spaghetti

 

 

Instructions

Start by slowly heating up oil, red pepper flakes, oregano and garlic.    

Add the two tins of sardines with their liquids and eels, but draining the tin of baby eels first.

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Add the roasted tomatoes and let the sauce warm through.  That's all it takes.  You should not need to add salt to this dish, but always taste and season according to your taste bud.

This may look strange, but these roasted tomatoes keep in the fridge for weeks due to the amount of oil.  It keeps them cured as it congeals protecting them.  Use some of that oil in the sauce, too.  

This may look strange, but these roasted tomatoes keep in the fridge for weeks due to the amount of oil.  It keeps them cured as it congeals protecting them.  Use some of that oil in the sauce, too.  

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Spoon some of the sauce on the bottom of the bowl, swirl the spaghetti on top, then spoon more sauce and add grated cheese.

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Honestly, this couldn't be simpler. It's all about using a few good ingredients and warming them up so they can swim together.  Pour yourself a big glass of red wine. We choose a Mencia wine, Petalos from the Bierzo region of Spain. This was the perfect way to stave off the hunger pains and soothe our European souls.

Viva Italia, and ok Spain helped too.

 

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P.S. Happy birthday to my fellow Piscean friend, Dianne., who is loyal reader and supporter. And although she may not be a fan of sardines, it's still appropriate in honoring the glorious versatility of fish!