Tart and Tangy Thai Pork Noodles

This makes for a quick and easy dinner, using one skillet (or wok), and just involves a bit of chopping.  As always, please please, taste your marinade before adding cornstarch.  If you don’t smack your lips and say yum yum, try adjusting.  Maybe you like it spicier?  – add chile flakes.  Maybe you like it more tart?  – add lime.  Any dish that has Thai in the title should be well balanced, with salty, sweet, spicy & sour in perfect harmony. Once you get that perfect balance add the corn starch.

Pork noodles

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb boneless pork loin,  cut into strips
  • tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • tablespoons soya sauce (reduced sodium)
  •  4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided use
  •  broccoli florets
  • carrot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • bamboo shoots (optional)
  • water chestnuts (optional)

Realistically – – – all the vegetables are optional, use whatever you like, just make sure you have a good assortment of color and crunch.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes.  Remove enough just to cover pork and place in bowl.
  2. Add pork, marinate while preparing pasta and vegetables or up to overnight.
  3. Cook (or soak) rice noodles according to package directions, drain.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute garlic & ginger for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vegetables and saute until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
  6. Remove vegetables from skillet and keep warm.
  7. Add remaining oil and pork mixture to skillet. Cook until pork is nicely browned.
  8. Remove pork, keep warm and stir in remaining marinade to skillet.  Cook until bubbly so the cornstarch is cooked through and thickens.
  9. Return pork & vegetables to skillet, add rice noodles, heat through and serve.

Garnishes:  sliced green onions, toasted and chopped peanuts and roughly chopped cilantro.

This dish works equally well if you want to make it a vegetarian dish, or decide to change up the protein, try:

  • sliced chicken thighs
  • prawns
  • seafood

We like rice noodles, but you could easily use any type of pasta you have on hand like chinese egg noodles or spaghetti noodles.

Grilled Shrimp and Cauliflower with Romesco Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romescu
The first thing you need to know is that this sauce is A M A Z I N G.  Put it on your sandwich, toss hot pasta with it, fresh veggie dip or meat skewer dip …. it wins every time.  Today’s appetizer included these grilled cauliflower florets, lightly marinated shrimp and green onions.

Ingredients for Romesco

1 1/2 CUPS SERVINGS

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Pulse first 8 ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Romesco can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

romescu

To use as a dipping sauce, heat through until easy to stir and warm.

 

Shrimp and Vegetables

  • 1 head of cauliflower – cut into florets
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp – tails and shells on
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 bunch green onions

Lightly steam cauliflower until just tender crisp – be careful not too overcook it.

Season with salt.

In a large bowl, toss shrimp with vegetable oil and lime juice.  Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Grill cauliflower, shrimp and green onions just until heated through (and shrimp is fully cooked) – try to get some pretty grill marks on there!

Arrange on a serving platter with the Romesco and dip merrily away.

 

 

Basil Chive Vinaigrette

Nothing smells like fresh basil – definitely my favourite herb.  Summer is the only time of year I make this vinaigrette, when the basil is plentiful and salads grace every meal.

Basil Vinaigrette 1

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients, except for the olive oil.  Give it a good whiz, until all the herbs are bright flecks of green, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.

Basil Vinaigrette 2

I really think this needs either an immersion blender or food processor to get the consistency.  If you don’t have either, chop herbs very fine and whisk it all up.

This will yield about 1 pint jar, and I’d suggest trying it in a variety of ways …

Basil Vinaigrette 3

salad dressing   ~   vegetable dip   ~   blend with cream cheese for a spreadable bread topping   ~   toss with zucchini ribbons   ~   brush over grilled chicken or seafood

 

Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing & Dip

This smooth, creamy and herb packed dressing packs a bunch of flavour into any salad – don’t use as much buttermilk and it doubles as a fan fave for vegetable dip (or chips, but who would do that????…)

P1090588

Served this year at the Wittal/Steli Family Reunion 2017, and it was a real hit.

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup mayonnaise (use the best quality you can find)

2 minced garlic cloves

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 – 2 tsp fresh minced parsley

1 – 2 tsp fresh chopped dill

1 – 2 tsp fresh chopped basil

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

just a few dashes of hot sauce

Taste and adjust for seasonings ….. everybody has different condiments, and the level of freshness of your herbs will also affect the taste.  I think I went through a whole serving of salad dipping lettuce leaves in and adjusting for taste!

 

Blend everything together really well and allow to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before using.  This keeps really well for a week or so in the fridge.

Pancake Mix

I love this mix, tastes great and made up ahead of time, it is just as easy as buying a premix package, but tastes way way better!

Pancake Mix

(Makes 4 batches of pancakes)

Ingredients

4 cups flour

3 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar

Directions

1. Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl and store in an airtight container or zip-close plastic bag.

2. Tape pancake instructions to the dry mix receptacle.

To make the pancake (to serve 4 people)

1. Scoop one cup of dry pancake mix into a bowl.  Add one egg, one cup of milk and one tablespoon of melted butter. Whisk until smooth.

2. Preheat a pan or griddle over medium high heat until 375 F. Grease the pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray.

3. Pour the batter onto the preheated pan or griddle by 1/4 cup measures (or any size you like) and cook until bubbles appear on the surface of each cake. Flip and cook another 1-2 minutes, until the second side is golden brown.

(If you like blueberry or banana pancakes, drop the fruit onto the pancake as soon as you have it on the surface of the pan.)

4. Serve immediately with toppings of your choice like butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar and fruit.  Sloan and I like our pancakes with a little brown sugar sprinkled over, then a squeeze of lime or lemon juice.

Crunchy Broccoli Slaw

Broccoli Slaw

Huge thanks to SmittenKitchen for this delicious, crunchy and addictive slaw.  We loved it!  I’ve tried a few recipes out, but this one hits all the notes and it will be on repeat all summer long.

Makes about six cups of slaw

2 heads of broccoli
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

Buttermilk Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (or if you are like me, and always have some pickled red onions in the fridge, use those ….. so pretty!)

Using a jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously to combine.  Set in fridge while you prep the salad.

Peel the broccoli stems and either use a mandolin on a fine setting, or dice quite small.  Separate the broccoli florets into bite size pieces, slicing the larger bits.

In a large bowl, combine broccoli, cranberries, and red onion.  Pour dressing over, and stir to mix well, sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Enjoy!  This works exceptionally well as a side to any grilled meat – tonight we served it with smoked baby back ribs.

Best Chocolate Oat Cupcakes

Chocolate Oat Cupcakes

If you call these a muffin, and focus on the oat flakes you could even consider this a breakfast item ….but I don’t know if you’d get away with that in my house.  Putting oat flakes into these chocolate muffins may make them a healthier snack, but they are still a treat!

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats (not rolled oats)
  • 1 3/4 cup very hot strong coffee (use decaf if you like)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten and best at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 TBSP real cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (mini ones melt best, but if you like a bit of a chunk of chocolate in there use the larger ones)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tins and set aside.

In a bowl, combine quick oats with VERY hot coffee.  Stir well and set aside, covering to keep warm.

In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt cocoa powder and cinnamon.

In stand mixer cream butter with both sugars, using paddle attachment.  Beat until light and creamy.  Add vanilla and eggs.  Mix well.

Add dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Add hot oat/coffee mixture and chocolate chips, mixing it in by hand.  If you used mini chocolate chips and your oat mixture was warm enough they will melt, however if you used larger ones you will still have mini bits which I thought was perfect …

Spoon (or use ice cream scoop) mixture into paper liners, filling about 2/3-3/4 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, just until an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean.

Allow to cool in muffin tins.

These are great with pretty much any topping, or even left alone.  Today I made them with a raspberry buttercream icing and they were a real hit.