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Thomas The Accidental Gourmet

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wilted Spinach and Spicy Pork Salad

So, I'm in trouble with my wife's trainer.

Apparently, the food I cook isn't healthy enough.

What E.V.E.R.

I can cook healthfully. The trick is to make it taste good, but I can do that, too.

When I get lucky. And the stars align. And the gods smile upon get the idea.

Wilted Spinach and Spicy Pork Salad

What You Need

4 cups raw spinach
1/3 cup chopped red onion
4 crimi mushrooms
4 strawberries
12 oz extra lean pork loin (trim the fat, if necessary)
1 tbsp bacon grease
1 tsp olive oil
powdered chipotle
powdered, smoked paprika
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese
kosher salt

What To Do with It

Sprinkle the chipotle and paprika (liberally) on 2 sides of the pork loin (OK, you're going to coat it, just don't overdo it, as it will get a bit HOT).  Lightly sprinkle on some salt. Let stand, unrefrigerated, for 2 hours.

After 1 hr, halve the strawberries and mushroom, then slice (you want them at room temperature before serving).

After 2 hours, turn an oven to 400.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon grease then sear the pork loin for about  5 minutes per side. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

While the pork finishes in the oven, sautee the onions in the olive oil, and quickly wilt the spinach in the same pan you cooked the pork in (and by quickly, I mean throw in the spinach, then flip after 10 seconds, then remove after 10 seconds).

Remove the onions from the other skillet, then put in the vinegar. Remove from heat.

Plate the spinach, feta, strawberries onions and mushrooms and toss.  Drizzle on the vinegar, and sprinkle a bit of salt on top.

Remove the pork loin from the oven, cut longitudionally, then slice and plate.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Iron Skillet Quail (with a few sides)

Even The Babe had a slump now and then.  I'm not comparing myself to him, of course...I'm not from the Bronx, nor do I play baseball. And I'm certainly not fat.

I'm just saying, it's been a while since I cooked anything worth sharing.  That, and my analogies stink.

That all changed Monday.  Jenn and I were doing some shopping at Central Market, and had already picked up some fiddle heads, when Jenn spied quail at the meat counter."I want that," she said. 

One thing I am is well-trained. So quail for dinner it was.

Iron Skillet Quail (with a few sides)

What You Need

For the quail

2 quail, deboned except for legs & wings
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground fennel seed
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime

For the sides

1/2 cup fiddle heads
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp butter
1 basil leaf, chiffonaded

3 crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 shallot, finely diced
1 yellow squash, sliced
4 leaves of tarragon, minced

1/4 cup black quinoa

What To Do With It

Tie together the legs of the quail at the bottom (just to make them behave a little better when you're cooking them).

Mix together the rest of your ingredients into a paste and spread on the quail on both sides. Let sit at room temperature for 1.5-2 hours.

20 minutes before you want to eat, turn an oven to 400, heat a small skillet over low heat (and put in the butter, basil & garlic to awaken it) and put about 2 cups of water on to boil.  Rinse your quinoa until the water is no longer cloudy. Drizzle the mushrooms, squash and shallots with olive oil, add a couple pinches of salt and the tarragon, and transfer to an oven-safe dish.

At the 15-minute mark (or once your oven is preheated and your water boiling), put the mushrooms in the oven and the quinoa in the water (once that starts to boil again, turn it down to a simmer).  Turn your small skillet up to medium-low and add the fiddle heads with a pinch of salt. 

Continue to stir the quinoa and keep an eye on the fiddle heads (when they turn a bright green, let them cook another two minutes and they're done: turn off the heat, but leave them in the pan). At about the 6-minute mark, turn the heat under a cast iron skillet to medium high.

With 4 1/2 minutes to go, drizzle some olive oil in your cast iron skillet, get it coated, and put in the quail for just over 2 minutes a side.

Plate it all up and enjoy (any time other than a couple weeks in spring, you won't be able to have the fiddle heads).   We served this with a Dis-Tinto wine (50/50 syrah/tempranillo), which didn't go too badly, but fought with the fiddle heads a bit.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Drunken Mango

I like rum. And by "like" I mean it should be one of the food groups.

Unfortunately, I've yet to find a nutritionist that will back me up on this.  What's worse, they all seem to go the exact opposite direction and tell me that perhaps I should cut some out of my diet, and cite various studies linking rum with all sorts of bad things.

It just goes to show you, some people will believe anything they read.

Nonetheless, I think I've found the perfect way to mollify such people: include what they would consider a healthy fruith with my rum.

Genius, I tell you. Pure genius.

Drunken Mango

What You Need

Some sort of fancy container that will seal.
Enough ripe mango to fill said container.
Good rum (for this I used Pyrate XO, which is from Antigua, though just about any good sipping rum from the Windward or Leeward Isles would do)
Vanilla bean.

What To Do With It

After cutting the side off your mango, peel it then slice it lengthwise.  Turn your container on its side and lay the mango in (you're going to stack it like logs so that all the slices are standing upright). 

Once you've gotten your vessel sufficiently packed, add about 1/10 of a vanilla bean and fill to the top with rum.  Let that sit for a week or so.

Eat the mango. Drink the rum.