Island Pork Chops

The other night I took a shot at stacking elements in food presentation. The idea was to make a kind of Caribbean-y pork (or what I think of as Caribbean, anyway) dish. I’d grill some pineapple slices, make a rice cake, and some grilled pork with a salsa, and stack them up with some greens at the base. Like an island….

It worked, in the sense that I stacked everything and it all tasted great. It was also sort of failure, in the sense that it looked more like an odd rock formation than anything else. Plus, I made one salsa too many.

stacked pork

stacked pork again

Yeah, yeah, I should have cut the pork chop to match the rice cake and the pineapple slice better, and I could probably work on plating the greens and the red pepper coulis. And, as I mentioned, there’s one salsa too many: that’s a tomatillo salsa there at the sides. The tomatillo salsa was ok, but it certainly wasn’t needed. Oh well. (I also need to work on my photography… the colors all seem a little washed out. The greens in particular…. any advice on that?)

Back to the food; it’s all pretty simple. I made this to serve two, but all the recipes can be easily multiplied.

Swiss chard, sauteed with garlic.

1 bunch Swiss chard (I trimmed the stems)
2 tspns garlic sliced thin
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp veg. oil

Heat the oil in a sauté pan. Add the chard and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Add vinegar and toss before serving.

roasted red pepper coulis

2 medium sized red bell peppers, cleaned
1 clove garlic
1 tsp red wine vinegar
pinch kosher salt

Roast the peppers under the broiler until the skin wrinkles and chars on all sides. Transfer the peppers to an ice bath. Peel the peppers and chop coarsely. Add peppers and remaining ingredients to blender. Process until smooth.

banana rice cake

2 cups cooked rice
1 banana, chopped
1/4 cup fat free yogurt
1 large egg
salt & pepper to taste

Mush up (that’s a technical cooking term) all the ingredients in a zip-lock bag. Heat 2 tblsps veg oil on med-high heat in a small skillet. Put two round metal cookie cutters in the hot oil. Cut a hole in a corner of the zip-lock baggie and pipe the rice mixture into the cookie cutters. Cook in the oil for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, turn over the cookie-cutter encased cakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The idea is to brown the bottom of the cake and then brown the other side. A crust will form on the bottom of the cake that will hold the cake together and keep it from spilling out of the cutter when you flip it. (I really liked this rice cake.)

pineapple ginger salsa

1/2 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup grated ginger
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tangerines, zested
2 tspns cilantro, chopped
1 small drop Dave’s Insanity sauce.
salt & pepper to taste

Heat 1 tspn oil in a sauce pan. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add pineapple, ginger, and tangerine zest. Cooke for 4-5 minutes. Add juice from the two tangerines, the cilantro, and the drop of Insanity Sauce (just a drop!). Cook until the liquid has reduced. Salt and pepper to taste. (Never add salt before reducing a liquid, it will end up too salty.)

grilled pinepple slice

Slice the pineapple and grill it.

pork chops

2 pork chops
salt & pepper

I got this cool little oil spritzer for my birthday and I use it when I’m prepping meat for the grill. I spritz both sides of the meat and then sprinkle each side kosher salt and ground pepper. I added a little cumin to these chops, but that’s it.



Caribbean Soup

Our days have been pretty hectic lately. September is a busy month, what with my step-daughter’s birthday, my wife’s birthday and then my mother’s birthday all occurring on sequential days (keeps thing easy to remember). And then there’s my mother-in-law’s birthday about a week later and my step-son’s birthday a week after that. Toss in some back-to-school nights, some travel baseball, and some flag-football practice, and our September days fill up quickly.

I usually do most of our grocery shopping (it’s an easy stop on the way home from work), Jamie ended up getting the protein for Wednesday’s dinner on her way from home on Tuesday. She was looking at the chicken sausage and decided that “Italian” was getting a little boring, so she settled on Teriyaki and Ginger. “Sounds good,” I thought when she told me. But then I paused… teriyaki and ginger chicken sausage… what do I do with that? (I figured a marinara sauce would be… odd)

Yes, I know. Stir-fry. But I made chicken and broccoli stir fry on Tuesday night (it’s one of our youngest boy’s faves), and we’re a decadent American family. Not only do we not eat the same food twice in a week, we don’t even like to eat the same method of preparation twice in a week, much less on back-to-back days. So on Wednesday, I stopped at the market and tried to decide how to prepare the sausage.

I know what you’re thinking. “If you had time to go the store, why not just buy something else? Take a flyer on some beef why don’tcha? Keep the teriyaki ginger sausage in it’s little hermetically sealed packaging until next Wednesday and whip up another stir fry!”

I did think of that. But by this point, I felt like one of the Iron Chef’s. “This week’s theme ingredient is Asian Chicken Sausage!” “Fukui-san! What’s he doing there?” “I… I’m not sure, I think he’s opening another beer… yes, yes, it’s another beer… I think it’s Hefeweizen.” “Hefeweizen! Fascinating! And he’ll what, use that to deglaze the pan?” “No, no, I think he’ll drink that one too!”

Ok.. so maybe more of a Brass Chef.

I was standing in the veggie section, trying desperately to imagine an alternate preparation for teriyaki and ginger flavored sausage. I was running through sausage recipes in my head… grilled sausage sandwiches, sausage pizza, sausage and potatoes with some sauerkraut, sausage soup… AHA! Sausage soup! But not Italianate… how about… Asiany/Caribbean?

In the end I decided on a Sausage/Coconut/Pineapple soup. It was very, very yummy. Very reminiscent of Tom Kha, but definitely not Tom Kha. Here’s my best guess as to the recipe, since I once again failed to take notes as I went along.

1 lb Teriyaki & Ginger Chicken Sausage, sliced into discs
1 cup fresh pineapple cut into chunks
2 cans coconut milk
1 tblspn fresh grated ginger
2 tbslpns minced garlic
2 tbspns coarsely chopped cilantro
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 tspn Thai fish sauce
1 tspn crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper to taste

I began by throughly browning all the sausage in a dutch oven. When the sausage was browned, I added the onion and let everything saute together for a few minutes. Next I added the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper, cooked for a minute, and then deglazed the pan with some beer from my glass (white wine would work too, and water would do in a pinch) — just enough to deglaze the pan.

Next I added the pineapple and let everything simmer together for a few minutes.

Then I added both cans of coconut milk, the fish sauce, and the cilantro and brought the soup to a slow boil. Salt and pepper to taste.

I served it with Tostones.