Archive for December, 2009

Pork chop noodles

December 30, 2009

Over the years, I submitted many recipes to Sunset Magazine, but the only one that was ever published was my mother’s recipe for Pork Chops in honey and apple-cider vinegar, which appeared in the 2002 Thanksgiving issue (see above).  Unfortunately, they changed the recipe, so this is the original.   When I came to visit for the holidays, my mother made the dish served over chinese noodles:

  • Four pork chops approximately ½” thick
  • ¼ tsp anise seed
  • 1 tsp salad oil
  • 1 white onion, peeled and sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large, deep non-stick skillet, bring three cups of water to a boil, add anise seed.  When the water is boiling, add the pork chops and parboil them just till they turn color.  Remove the chops and discard the anise water.  Pat the pork chops dry with a clean kitchen towel.  Return the skillet to the stove and heat salad oil in it over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the pork chops and brown them on either side.  Remove the chops and add the sliced onion.  Saute until the onion is soft.  Return the chops to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-high.  Add vinegar, soy sauce and honey and cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until chops are cooked through.

While chops are cooking, heat up a generous quantity of water in a large pot.  While water is heating wash and trim 2 cups baby Chinese broccoli or spinach.

When water is boiling, add 8 oz thin dried Chinese noodles (for soup, the kind that cook in about 5 minutes)  after three minutes, add vegetables.  Cook about two minutes more or until noodles are done.  Drain.  Remove vegetables and mix them with

  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar

Portion noodles into 4 large bowls, top each with one pork chop, a bit of the pork chop sauce and vegetables.  Makes four servings.

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Pork with Orange Sauce

December 27, 2009

Super easy during busy holidays

  • Four pork chops ( 1” thick)
  • ½ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • Grated rind from one orange
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Grill pork chops 6-7 minutes per side or till no longer pink but still juicy when cut.  While pork chops are grilling, stir remaining ingredients together in a microwave-proof bowl or mug.  Microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway.  Serve pork chops with sauce.

Makes 4 servings

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Island Shrimp

December 20, 2009


I’m back at my friend Sue Ellen’s.  A little bit of Aloha.  We had this with pina coladas.

  • 4 tsp oil
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 3 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 1 cup cut carrots
  • ½ bunch green onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup broccoli florettes
  • 1 pound raw peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup cut zucchini
  • 1 cup canned pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup whole cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup teriyaki sauce
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • Cooked rice

Heat up 2 tsp oil in a nonstick wok over high heat.  When oil is hot, add onion, ginger and carrots. Stir fry 3 minutes.  Add green onions, garlic, and broccoli and stir fry another 3 minutes.  Turn vegetables out into a large serving bowl.  Heat the 1 tsp oil in the wok.  Pick out the ginger slices and toss them back into the wok.  When the oil is sizzling, add the shrimp and stir fry until they turn pink.  Pick out and discard ginger, turn cooked shrimp out into the vegetable bowl.   Heat the remaining 1 tsp oil in the wok and add the zucchini.  Stir fry 1 minute.  Add pineapple and tomatoes. While they are stir frying, blend teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, water and cornstarch.  Add sauce mixture, pineapple and tomatoes to the wok and stir until sauce thickens.  Turn mixture into the vegetable bowl and toss all ingredients.  Serve with cooked rice.  Makes 6 servings.

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Hannukah dinner

December 13, 2009

It is customary to eat foods cooked in oil during Hannukah to commemorate the discovery of a small flask of pure olive oil, which was only supposed to last one day, but instead it lasted eight.  I did forego the jelly doughnuts, but couldn’t resist the potato latkes (pancakes) served with applesauce and (light) sour cream.

Pot roast in red wine

  • One  4-pound chuck or bottom-round roast, trimmed of fat
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Generous amount of ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 ½ cups dry red wine
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • ½ pound mushrooms, sliced

In a deep stove and oven-proof casserole dish just slightly wider than your roast, heat up oil over medium-high heat.  Mix flour, salt and pepper together. Sprinkle flour mixture on one side of the meat and rub it in.  Flip the roast over and repeat on the other side.  Rub remaining flour mixture onto the sides of the roast.  When the oil is hot, put the roast in the casserole and brown it, then flip it over and brown the other side.

Removed the browned roast to a cutting board.  Add wine and broth to the pan and scrape up any browned bits.  Add vegetables.  Return roast to the pan.  Using a ladle, spoon liquid over the top of the roast.  Put the cover on the dish (or cover it tightly with foil) and put it in a 325 degree oven on the lowest shelf.  Roast will cook about three hours.  Or until it can pierced easily with a knife.

Roasted Balsamic root vegetables

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed but still whole
  • 1 pound each carrots, parsnips and beets, root ends, stem ends removed. Peeled and cut into 1 ½” chunks
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced rosemary
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Marinate garlic in olive oil for about 1 ½ hours.  Remove garlic and discard.  Blend the oil, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper together.  Toss with the vegetables and spread them out in a baking dish in a single layer.  Put on the top shelf of oven and roast 75-90 minutes.  Stir mixture once to allow even browning.  Turn the heat off.  Take the roast casserole out of the oven.  Take the roast out of the dish and put it on a cutting board to rest.  If the sauce is not thick enough, thicken it with a paste of 1 tbsp cornstarch and 2 tbsp water and heat over high heat until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Potato Latkes

  • 2 pounds russet (floury) potatoes, shredded
  • ½ onion minced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 6 tsp oil

Put shredded potatoes in a clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel around potatoes and wring out as much moisture as you can.  Mix the potatoes with the remaining ingredients.  Heat 2 tsp oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  When oil is hot, spoon about 3 tbsp of the mixture into the skillet and flatten it to make a 2-in pancake. Repeat to make three more pancakes.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until brown on the bottom. Flip pancakes over and brown the other side.  Remove pancakes with a pancake turner and put them on a heat proof serving platter.  Put the platter in the oven to keep it warm under the residual heat.  Repeat, two times to make 8 more pancakes, for a total of 12 small pancakes.

While latkes are cooking, steam one 1 pound of frozen green beans according to package directions.  Add 1 tbsp butter and toss.

Slice roast and top with gravy.  Serve with roasted vegetables and green beans, and latkes topped with applesauce and light sour cream. Serves 6.

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Shrimp and Chard Pasta

December 11, 2009

A very fast meal.  You can have it done in about 20 minutes

  • 8 oz dried pasta
  • 6 canned anchovies fillets with their oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch swiss, red or rainbow chard
  • 1 pound shelled raw shrimp
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1 can diced tomatoes


Put a large pot of lightly salted and oiled water on the stove to boil.  While water is coming to a boil, open anchovy and tomato cans.  Peel and mince garlic, strip leaves from chard and chop leaves and stems separately and rinse them off. Add pasta to the boiling water and set the time for 10 minutes. Heat anchovies and their oil over medium high heat in a work or large skillet.  Add minced garlic and pepper flakes.  Add chopped chard stems and cook for about 2 minutes.  While stems are cooking peel and devein shrimp.  Interrupt this to add the leaves to the pan and stir occasionally.  Cook chard for about 5 more minutes.  Finish peeling and deveining shrimp.  When chard is reduced to about ¼ its original size and liquid has boiled away, turn the chard into a  bowl.  Heat the 2 tsp oil in the wok till hot and add shrimp.  Stir fry them until they turn pink.  Add them to the chard bowl.  Add the tomatoes and capers to the wok and cook until liquid has evaporated.  When pasta timer goes off, drain pasta and return it to the pasta pot.  Add tomatoes and remaining olive oil and mix well.  Stir in chard and shrimp.  Makes 4 servings.

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Roast lamb

December 10, 2009

When it’s at a good price at Costco, I’ll buy a five-pound boneless leg of lamb.  Then I’ll cut it up for five meals.  First I hack a 2 pound piece off the end to make a mini roast (two meals).  One pound gets cubed for stew, one pound is sliced for stir fry, and one pound ground up for meatballs, kibbeh, etc.  Save these cuts in freezer bags and pull one out the day before you plan to cook it and let it defrost in the fridge.  This is my favorite marinade for lamb.  It comes from a cookbook I’ve had since my college days by Lou Pappas, a Greek-American food writer.  The marinade is a fusion of several different culinary traditions.

  • One 2-pound section of boneless leg of lamb
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp minced rosemary
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Combine mustard, rosemary, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and oil.  Place the lamb on a cutting board.  Smear marinade over all exposed sides.  Roll the lamb up to make a compact roast.  Using kitchen twine, tie it in several places so it stays compact.  Put lamb back in the fridge, covered and let it marinate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove lamb and put it on a roasting rack in a pan lined with foil. Insert a meat thermometer. Roast it in a preheated 400 degree oven on the lower shelf.  One to one hour and fifteen minutes.  Starting checking on the lamb temperature after 45 minutes.  I like it at 180 degrees internal temperature, which is medium rare.  Go higher if you like it more well done, and lower if you like it rarer.

After you put the lamb in the oven, prepare oven roasted potatoes:

  • 2 pounds potatoes scrubbed, unpeeled and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced rosemary
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • Generous amount of ground pepper.

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Pour potatoes into a large baking sheet and spread them around so they are not touching.  Put them on the top shelf of the oven.  After about ½ hour check on the potatoes.  If you can easily flip them over with a pancake turner do so.  If they are still sticking, return them to the oven and check again every five minutes.  When you can easily flip them over, do so to brown them evenly.  When potatoes are nicely browned, remove them from the oven and keep them warm until ready to serve.

As for the gravy, I cheated and used a dark gravy mix from Costco’s spice section.  But I replaced half of the water called for with dry red wine. 

Makes 4 servings.

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Pork and Black Bean Stew

December 8, 2009

It was a cold blustery day today.  This was the perfect day for this dish.  You can use canned beans instead of making them yourself.  If you do, use 4 15-oz cans of drained beans.  This is a good recipe to “hide” vegetables if you have family members who don’t like to eat vegetables.

Black beans

  • 2 cups dried black beans
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 4 bay leaves

Soak beans overnight in about six cups of water.  Drain beans and put them in a pot.  Add 4 cups water, garlic, onion and bay leaves, bring to boil  When boiling, turn down heat and simmer for about 1 hour.


  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 ½ pounds pork sirloin or boneless shoulder, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small green pepper stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed seeded and chopped (2 peppers will give a pretty hot stew but won’t burn your mouth off.  1 pepper will give moderate heat)
  • 4 tbsp California (mild) chile powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp beef bouillon paste or granules
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • Salt to taste

Heat up canola oil in a large stew pot.  When the oil is hot, add pork and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.  Add onion, garlic, celery and peppers and stir until vegetables have softened.  Add chile powder, oregano, tomatoes, bouillon and partially cooked beans (if using canned beans, do not add them yet), including enough bean liquid to make a nice thick (but not watery) stew.  Reserve the rest of the bean liquid.  Bring to boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 1  hour, stirring occasonally.  If mixture gets too thick add more reserved bean liquid.  After one hour, add cabbage (and drained canned beans if you used those instead of cooking them yourself).   Stir well to mix.  Cook for another ½ -1 hour.  Adjust seasoning.  Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream.  Makes 8 servings.

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Balsamic-Rosemary Chicken

December 7, 2009

A very easy dish.  Polenta is also easy to make in the microwave.  Covering the cooking corn meal with wax or parchment paper prevents a “skin” from forming on top of the polenta during the cooking process.

 Balsamic-rosemary chicken

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts or thighs, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup dry white wine or champagne (flat is fine)
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp rosemary, minced

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat up butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken and brown on both sides (about five minutes per side).    When chicken is brown, add wine, vinegar, garlic and rosemary.  Turn heat to medium low and cover.  Start polenta (below) while chicken is cooking.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is cut.  Turn chicken once during this process.  Remove chicken pieces to a warmed platter.  Turn heat to high and reduce sauce until it is syrupy and large shiny bubble form.  Strain sauce and pour it over the chicken.

Microwaved polenta

  • 5 cups boiling chicken broth
  • 1 cup polenta or cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put the boiling broth and polenta into a large microwave proof glass bowl.  Cut a piece of wax paper or parchment paper about two inches larger that the diameter of the bowl and press down onto the surface of the polenta mixture.  Microwave for about six minutes.  Remove paper and stir well.  Replace paper and return to the microwave and microwave about six minutes more.  Remove from microwave, discard paper and in butter and cheese, stir until butter and cheese are melted.  Adjust seasoning. 

Serve chicken and polenta with a steamed buttered green vegetable.  Makes 4 servings.

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Hanoi Noodles

December 5, 2009

When I worked in Pleasant Hill, I ate at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant, sometimes twice a week.  Hanoi noodles, also known as Bun Cha Hanoi, along with Beef Pho, were my favorite dishes.  This time, I sliced the pork into too small pieces;  slices about 1 and 1/2 inch square and ¼ inch thick would be ideal.  This recipe is a modified version from Andre Nguyen’s cookbook “Vietnamese Home Cooking.”  Mr. Nguyen used to live in Washington State (where I also lived) but I didn’t’ meet him till I moved to Scottsdale, where he had opened up an excellent Vietnamese restaurant (his ginger lemonade is to die for).

Marinated pork

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin or sirloin (I used the latter)
  • 5 tbsp Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp each honey and chopped green onion
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • Generous grating of black pepper

Nuoc cham dipping sauce

  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ½ tsp Asian chile sauce
    • ½ cup shredded carrot


  • 4 oz dried rice vermicelli
  • 2 tbsp chopped roasted peanuts

Soak 8 bamboo skewers in water for at least one hour.

Slice pork into slices (see note above) and mix with marinade ingredients.  Set aside for at least 15 minutes.

Pour ½ cup water into a large glass microwave-proof measuring cup.  Heat water for about 1 minute or until boiling.  Stir in remaining dipping sauce ingredients and pour into small dipping bowls.  Make a salad to serve on the side.

Set broiler on high heat.  Thread marinated pork onto skewers 1/8 of the pork on each skewer.  Leave a little space between each piece to ensure even cooking.  Broil pork skewers on the closest rack from the element or flame for about 5-7 minutes on each side, turning once or until cooked through

Boil vermicelli according to package directions, or if your package doesn’t have directions, like mine, drop the noodles into 4 cups of boiling water and boil for about 3 minutes, poking the noodles into the water to make sure all noodles are saturated.  Drain noodles.

Distribute noodles among four plates, top with skewered or deskewered pork.  Sprinkle peanuts on top.  Serve nuoc cham and a salad on the side.  Serves 4

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Seafood Risotto

December 4, 2009

Before mid September 2009, when I resolved not to cook the same dish twice for a year, seafood risotto was a frequent dish on our dinner table.  It requires ongoing attention but you can tend to other matters while the rice is cooking in between stirs.  In Italy seafood risotto tends to be more liquid than other risottos.  Go with the larger quantity of liquid if you like a creamier risotto, and the smaller quantity if you want a drier risotto.  Trader Joe’s sells frozen mixed seafood (shrimp, calamari and scallops) for $5.99 a one pound bag and I always like to keep a couple of bags in the freezer.

  • 3-4 cups fish stock, half-strength clam juice or chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes cut into strips (if tomatoes are not stored in olive oil, soak them in hot water before slicing)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound mixed frozen seafood
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped parsley

Bring stock to boil in a sauce pan,.  When it comes to boil, turn heat down to medium low.  While stock is boiling, melt 2 tbsp butter in a large sauté pan or medium skillet over medium-high heat.  When butter is foaming, add onion garlic, and rice, and stir until rice is translucent.    Stir in tomatoes.  Add a ladleful (about ½ cup) of hot stock and stir.  When liquid has boiled down, repeat.  In between adding liquid and stirring you can make a salad, set the table, pour yourself a glass of wine, etc. Continue until rice is almost al dente (about 25 minutes).  This will happen after you have used up 3 3 1/2 cups stock.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add the seafood and stir into the rice. If you want creamy risotto, add the remainder of the hot stock.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir in peas and grated cheese, cover and cook about 2 more minutes or until shrimp has turned pink and peas are heated through.  Serve in shallow bowls, sprinkled with parsley.  Makes 4 -6 servings.

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