Tonkatsu Sauce

Who knew tonkatsu sauce was so easy to make?  We were lucky enough to get some Japanese chow mein from the Japanese bazaar, and it seemed a perfect time to cook up a pork cutlet with tonkatsu sauce.

Pork cutlet with Tonkatsu

Japanese chow mein is such a treat, I love the way it tastes crunchy with the lightest of seasonings.  It goes so well with many dishes.  Tonight we served it alongside the pork cutlet with tonkatsu and bok choy with peppers and lemon tahini sauce.

  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili oil

Whisk together and adjust to your liking.  Traditionalists will use 1 tsp sugar instead of the chili oil but we really like the additional bite of heat.

 

Indian Spiced Chicken Korma

This rich Indian sauce is packed with enough spices and layers of flavour, you will want extra rice or naan bread to mop up every bit of sauce left on your plate.
Korma 8
  • 2 white onions, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 1/2 cup ground raw almonds
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 a small red chili, de-seeded and minced (dried or fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (packed)
Korma 7

Key to making a dish like this is to have all your ingredients ready at hand.  Here I’ve blended all the dry spice together so it is ready to be stirred in at the moment I need it.

Korma 2

Chefs call this “mis en place”, which simply means having everything ready to go, BEFORE you start cooking at all.  It sure does make things smoother!

Instructions

  • Place the onions, garlic, and 1 cup of water in the bowl of a blender. Puree until smooth.
  • Measure out the spices (curry powder through nutmeg) into a small bowl.
  • In a large saucepan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pureed onion mixture and cook for a 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to darken in color.

Korma 6

  • Add the tomatoes, ginger, ground almonds, coconut milk, yogurt, red chili, pre-measured spices, and brown sugar. Stir well.

Turn the heat down to low and simmer 30 minutes. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan; simmer for an additional 15 minutes. 

Korma 4

I had roasted a whole chicken the day before and felt like this Korma would be the perfect way to eat it all up the next day.  Use a rotisserie chicken for a quick dinner if you don’t have leftover chicken on hand.  Honestly, when we eat out, we usually order lamb korma, so you could just as easily use any protein of your choice – or go vegetarian and stir a bunch of fresh vegetables in.

Korma 3

Served today with homemade naan and the best crispiest crunchiest vegetable pakora!

Perfect Pulled Pork

During the winter months we just can’t use our smoker ….. too cold, it’s buried under snow and nobody wants to be out there checking the temperature.  I have a perfectly acceptable and delicious slow cooker recipe for pulled pork, but I’ve been looking for one that roasts low and slow in the oven for those crispy bits around the outside.  I found this one on a website:  www.kevinandamanda.com

Pulled pork rice bowl

I know, I know …. pulled pork sammies are the way to go, but we have not been eating a lot of wheat products, so for the second night we had “pulled pork bowls” and you know what???  I liked it even better!

It’s rare that I don’t make any changes, but this was phenomenal just the way it was written, and we all devoured it.

1 4-5 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast

Dry Rub

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar

Brine Solution

1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 cups cold water
3 tbsp dry rub mix
2 bay leaves

Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar and dry rub and stir well to combine.

Rinse the pork shoulder in cold water and place in a 2 gallon ziploc bag (or a container big enough so the shoulder is completely covered in brine solution). You can add more water if necessary to completely cover the pork.

And add two dried bay leaves.

And refrigerate for at least 12 hours. 24-36 hours is best. I usually do it about 24 hours. Make sure that however you keep it, either bag or container – that it is completely submerged.

At least 12 hours later…

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. (Yes, 225 degrees, that is not a typo :)) Remove the pork shoulder from the brine solution and place in the roasting pan

Pat the skin dry with paper towels so you’ll get a nice, crisp crust.

Generously, generously, cover the WHOLE thing in your dry rub mix.And massage it into that skin real good. Be sure and get it up under any flaps you may come across.  Make sure the fat layer is on TOP.

Place uncovered in a 225 degree F oven on the middle rack.  This is totally adjustable.  The original recipe had the roast cooking for 13 hours, but I just didn’t have that much time.  I adjusted the temp to 250 for a 4 1/2 pound roast, and it took about 6 hours.

When shoulder has reached 200 degrees, turn off the oven and let the roast rest for about 2 hours before removing from the oven.  Keep the thermometer in the meat, so you can monitor the temperature. If the bottom of the pan is dry (or crusted with dried spices) cover the pan with foil to retain internal moisture of the meat during the resting period. Mine still had a lot of moisture in the bottom, so I didn’t cover mine.

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After a couple hours, when the temperature drops to 170 degrees or slightly lower, remove the shoulder from the oven.

Remove the large sheet of crusted fat on the top. Using two large forks, begin pulling the meat apart. It will fall apart *very* easily and it should not take you long at all to pull apart this whole roast.  If you can stop yourself nibbling while you do this, it will feed quite a crowd!

Pulled Pork

Serve on buns with creamy cole slaw and prepare to be licking your fingers. My recipe for:

Jean’s creamy cole slaw 

2/3  cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

 

Blend well, and keep tasting – should have a nice balance of sweet and tangy.

 

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.

Tacos al Pastor (at home!)

I was able to find a recipe from Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill, and when you get a great recipe like this one, don’t mess with it!  I’ve tried to make tacos mimicking the tacos al pastor from Mexico before, but without that upright spit to grill it all on, it is very difficult to achieve. We found this to be the closest thing I could do at home.

Serve it with Mexican Pickled Vegetables, Pickled Red Onions and it is a real hit.

INGREDIENTS

  • A 3 1/2ounce packageachiote paste
  • 3canned chipotle chile en adobo, plus 4 tablespoons of the canning sauce
  • 1/4cup vegetable or olive oil, plus a little more for the onion and pineapple
  • 1 1/2pounds thin-sliced pork shoulder (1/4-inch-thick slices are ideal—the kind Mexican butchers sell for making tacos al pastor)
  • 1medium red onion, sliced 1/4- inch thick
  • Salt
  • 1/4of a medium pineapple, sliced 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 20 warm corn tortillas
  • About 1 1/2cups raw tomatillo salsa
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If you have a great butcher, have him slice the meat super fine – you’ll be thankful!

INSTRUCTIONS

In a blender, combine the achiote paste, chiles, canning sauce, oil and 3/4 cup water. Blend until smooth. Use 1/3 of the marinade to smear over both sides of each piece of meat (refrigerate the rest of the marinade to use on other meat or fish). Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

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Marinate for at least an hour, but I did this overnight.  The flavour gets right through the meat.

Light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until covered with gray ash but still very hot; bank the coals to one side and set the grill grate in place. Or, heat one side of a gas grill to high. Brush both sides of the onions slices with oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay in a single layer on the hot side of the grill. When richly browned, usually just about a minute, flip and brown the other side; move to the cool side of the grill to finish softening to grilled-onion sweetness. Oil and grill the pineapple in the same way. Finally, in batches, grill the meat: it’ll take about a minute per side as well. As the meat is done, transfer it to a cutting board and chop it up (between 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces). Scoop into a skillet and set over the grill to keep the meat warm. Chop the onion and pineapple into small pieces as well, add them to the skillet and toss everything together. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Serve with the tortillas and salsa for your guests to make soft tacos.

Pizza Pockets & Hand Pies

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Following is the recipe for a basic, soft and easy to work with dough.  I used this recipe for making pizza pockets for my granddaughter Sloan’s first week of Grade 1, and then turned leftover dough into meat hand pies for 93 year old Auntie Elsie, who is kind of tired of cooking these days. Leftover dough you say???  Well I didn’t think 8-10 small pizzas would give me enough dough so I doubled the recipe … which yielded 25 pizza pockets, 10 hand meat pies and 1 pizza for our dinner.  Significant yield!!!

Pizza Crust: (makes 8-10 small pizzettas)
Ingredients:

  • 750 g white flour (use Tipo ’00 flour if you can or a strong bread flour)
  • 200 g semolina flour
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (or 1 x 8 oz packages) yeast
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place your flour(s) and sea salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Create a well in the center.
  2. In a large measuring cup, mix together your lukewarm water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes, until the yeast starts to ferment.
  3. Pour the water/sugar/yeast mixture into the well along with the olive oil and stir together with a fork or large spoon until it is well mixed. Once it becomes too difficult to mix together with your fork or spoon, sprinkle extra flour on the dough and your hands and mix with your hands until the dough comes together in a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a well-floured flat surface and knead, pushing the dough using the palms of your hands, for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and stretchy. You may need to add extra flour as you go, being careful not to add too much to keep the dough from being too stiff.
  5. Place the ball of dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, dust the top of the dough with flour, and cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm draft-free area for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down.  At this point you can either refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 2 days, covered with plastic wrap and occasionally punched down) or divide the dough into 4-6 portions (depending on how big you want your pizzas).  I highly recommend making your dough in advance and letting it sit in the fridge as the longer ‘proof’ really makes a difference.   Ensure that your pizza dough comes to room temperature before cooking (bring it out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before you are ready to cook).
  6. Once ready to cook, heat your oven to the highest heat setting (500F for most ovens) and place your pizza stone in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Portion the dough into 8-10 balls and place on a well-floured surface. Using your hands, with your knuckles, (dusted with flour, along with the counter to prevent the dough from sticking) form your pizza crust 15-20 minutes before cooking your pizza on a flat surface dusted with semolina flour until it is nice and thin. Keep stretching it with your hands to make a flat pizza base (it doesn’t have to be round or perfect!).
  8. Remove the pizza stone from the oven, lay your rolled dough on the stone, and add your ingredients ….

If you are using this dough for pizza pockets or hand pies, after step 5 skip to step 7 and form circles of dough.

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For pizza pockets, layer on pizza sauce, your chosen ingredients and cheese, closing the pockets with a fork.  Make sure to prick the top surface with the fork so steam can escape.

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For the meat pies I used an ice cream scoop to get a consistent amount of the meat mixture – centered on the dough, and then brought up the edges to crimp over the middle of the circle.  Brush with beaten egg and poke with a fork.

Bake pizza pockets or meat pies at 400 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

FILLING FOR MEAT PIE

1 onion, minced finely

1 garlic clove, grated

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

1/2 cup each frozen corn and peas

1 small zucchini, diced

1 lb ground beef

1 tbsp each dried oregano and basil

Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is lightly carmelized, add the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are almost cooked through, then add zucchini and saute for another few minutes.  Remove from heat and place in bowl.  Add frozen corn and peas.  Return pan to heat and stir in ground beef – cooking until lightly browned, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add beef to vegetable mixture and season with dried herbs, adding more salt and pepper if needed.  At this point, if you feel like it needs a bit more flavour, add 1 tbsp of tomato paste.  Stir well and set in fridge to cool down.  When cool, continue on with forming your hand pies.

These pies are only limited by your imagination – use whatever you feel like to fill the pies, making sure to taste the mixture before filling the dough rounds.  Made in a smaller size they make a great appetizer too.

Jean’s Cole Slaw

This simple coleslaw is great as a side for a variety of summer meals, but as a topping on either pulled pork or pulled chicken it really shines.

Pulled Pork

 

2/3  cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

 

Blend well, and keep tasting – should have a nice balance of sweet and tangy.