Friday, October 21, 2016

Vietnamese-Inspired Roasted Pork Ribs

Every time we have ribs for dinner, we chuckle about this story. D was about three-years-old at the time, riding in the cart with me at the grocery store. He asked me about the rack of ribs in the cart, pointing, "Mommy, what are those?" 

Ribs, I answered. 

His chubby fingers went to his side and he declared, "These are my ribs!" 

Yes, that's true. 

Horror contorted his little face and he whispered, pointing into my shopping cart, "Whose ribs are those?!?" 

Not a person's, I assured him. 

"Then who?" he demanded. He knew meat came from a living animal. But, I suppose, ribs were a little too recognizable. Now he loves ribs, but we still tell that story every time they're on our table.

The marinade on these ribs were inspired by the flavors in some of our favorite Vietnamese dishes. Well, it has a lot of Asian-inspired flavors. It was tasty!


  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, smashed and very finely chopped (approximately 2 T)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 to 2 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 t fresh turmeric, grated
  • 2 T gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T hot sauce (I used our Homemade Hot Sauce)
  • 2 t  salt
  • 2 T organic dark brown sugar
  • 2 t Chinese five-spice powder (You can Blend Your Own)
  • 1 rack baby back ribs
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 t rice vinegar

Slice your rack of ribs in half, if needed. They need to fit comfortably on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a small mixing bowl, place the shallots, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, soy sauce, fish sauce, hot sauce, salt, sugar, and five-spice powder. Mix well. 

Lay meat on a piece of foil (two, if you sliced the rack in half) and pour the marinade of the top. Let stand for 10 minutes. Flip it over and, using your hands, make sure the rib surfaces are completely covered with marinade. Let stand another 10 minutes. You can let the meat marinate overnight - and that's probably better - but I was pressed for time and the 20 minute-marinade was fine.

While ribs marinate, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Drizzle the ribs with olive oil and vinegar, then place another piece of foil over the top and make an packet. Roast at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Raise the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees and remove the top of the foil packet.

Return the ribs to the oven to brown and char, approximately 15 minutes. Divide ribs with a sharp knife and pile them onto a platter. Serve immediately.

I served them with an Asian-flavored slaw and baked beans.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fideuà Negra for #FishFridayFoodies

It's time for Fish Friday Foodies' October event. We are a group of seafood-loving bloggers, rallied by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, to share fish and seafood recipes on the third Friday of the month. 

This month, Caroline of Caroline's Cooking is hosting. Here was her challenge to the group: "As fall is upon us and winter all too soon, let's create some pasta dishes with fish and seafood. Whether it's a quick midweek meal for a busy school day or a comforting weekend feast, pair together your favorites."

As I was researching possibilities, I came across fideuà which is essentially paella made with pasta instead of rice. Then I came across a Fideuà Negra and I was sold. I am more than a little enamored with anything that includes cuttlefish ink!

Oh, about the name - fideuà is usually made with short lengths of dry pasta called fideus. Since I couldn't find any of that, I opted for some gluten-free spaghetti noodles. I broke them into two-inch lengths. Also, I will be the first to admit that mine is not a traditional fideuà, but it was so, so tasty!

Ingredients serves 4
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced (approximately 1-1/2 C)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • ½ t fennel seed
  • ½ t coriander seed
  • 1 to 2 bay leaves
  • ½ pound shrimp, peeled
  • ½ pound squid, cleaned
  • ½ pound fish, cubed (I used a local, wild-caught rockfish)
  • ½ pound mussels
  • ½ pound clams
  • 2 T tomato sauce (I used some of my Roasted Tomato Sauce)
  • 1 to 2 T cuttlefish ink
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 pound spaghetti broken into 2" pieces (I used gluten-free)
  • 2 C water
  • 2 C stock (I used some homemade duck stock from the bones of my Spicy Braised Duck Legs)
  • lemon wedges for serving

In a large, flat bottom pan with a tight-fitting lid, melt 1 T butter in 1 T olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened and beginning to turn translucent. Stir in the fennel seeds and coriander seeds.

Add in the squid, shrimp, and fish. Saute until the the shrimp begins to turn opaque. Stir in the tomato sauce and the cuttlefish ink. Tuck in the bay leaves and sprinkle the saffron over the top.

Top the seafood with the pasta pieces. Pour in the water and the stock. Nestle the mussels and clams into the pot. Drizzle with 1 T olive oil. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and simmer for the length it will take to cook the pasta. Mine took 7 minutes, according to the package.

Uncover and cook until your desired soupiness or dryness. I left some broth because we love soup!

Ladle into individual soup plates. Traditionally this is served with a dab of aioli; we went with a squeeze of lemon juice instead.

New-to-Me Ingredient: Boiled Cider

I came across an intriguing recipe last night that called for "boiled cider" and the recipe included a link to purchase the boiled cider - at $13 for the bottle and $6 for shipping. First, I didn't know what boiled cider was; second, I was pretty sure I could make it myself for less than $19!

I did some reading and realized that boiled cider was nothing more than apple cider reduced to a thick syrup. So easy!! Done. And it smelled amazing the entire time it was simmering. It smelled like fall!


  • 1 gallon fresh apple cider

Pour cider into a heavy pot; I used my Dutch oven. Bring the cider to a boil. Reduce the heat and keep at slightly more than a simmer until the gallon of liquid is reduced to about 2 C. It took me 4 hours.

Pour into a sterilized jar and refrigerate once cool. It should keep refrigerated for several months! You will see this in some Halloween treats I'm making next week.

Uni (Sea Urchin) Handroll

We are huge fans of uni - sea urchin. So, when we have a chance to get it, we always do. I added these on to our CSF delivery from Real Good Fish the other week and asked D how we should prepare it. Last time we got them, we did a Sea Urchin Crostini and his Urchin Soup is a perpetual favorite. We settled on a simple handroll that would let the urchin shine.

Ingredients makes 4 handrolls
  • 2 sheets of nori (seaweed sheets), cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cooked rice (I used organic Jade Pearl rice)
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 8 pieces of uni

While the rice is still hot, mix in the rice vinegar.

Place the nori, shiny side down, on a work space. Place 1/4 C rice on the nori - in one corner at a 45 degree angle. Lay 1 or 2 pieces of urchin on the rice.

Okay, I drew a little diagram for you. Don't laugh!

The bottom right corner will be the top of your cone. Fold the top right corner down over the rice and filling. Then keep rolling until it is in the shape of a cone. Lay the seam side down. The moisture from the rice will seal the cone. If not, just moisten the edge a tiny bit and press down.

Repeat with the other three pieces. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spicy Braised Duck Legs

I was on a deadline last night and the boys were coming home late anyway. So, I wanted a dinner that was mostly hands-off. This requires a little bit of active time, then it goes in the oven, and you don't have to think about it again for over an hour. It was perfect for me to get in some good, uninterrupted writing time.

And that crispy duck skin! It's amazing. 

The spice blend I used was an Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf special which means that I really have no idea what he put in it. But, from what was left out on the counter, I know it had juniper berries, cardamom, coriander, paprika, and some cayenne. It was deliciously spicy. Maybe use your favorite spice blend...

  • 4 duck legs
  • 1 T butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cubed
  • 1 C chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 C red wine
  • 1 to 2 T spice blend (your choice - D whipped up something with juniper berries, cardamom, coriander, paprika, and some cayenne)

Preheat oven to 390 degrees F. In a Dutch oven, braiser, or other heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, melt butter in a splash of olive oil. Place duck legs skin side down. Sprinkle 1/2 your spice blend on the duck. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes until the fat is rendered and the skin golden and crisped. Flip to the other side and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the rest of the spice blend on the second side of the duck.

Remove the duck to a plate. Place the onions in the pot. Lay the browned duck pieces on top. Pour in the chicken stock and wine. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven. Braise for 75 minutes.

Raise the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees F. Return the duck to the oven, uncovered. Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes. 

The skin should be crispy and a deep mahogany brown. Serve immediately. 

I served this with a potato salad and carrot-bean salad. It was a great dinner...and I turned my article on time! Perfect.

Nutty Coffee Toffee

When you didn't plan anything for dessert and your Sugar Pig (yes, he knows I call him that) asks for something sweet...

Toffee is always easy. I always have butter and sugar in the house. Then I just stir in whatever else I can find and call it good. It's so simple. I don't event use a candy thermometer.


  • 1 C butter
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T finely ground coffee
  • 1/4 C pistachios

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, combine the butter and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it becomes a dark amber. 

Note: If you've never made toffee, there will be times when it looks as if you're doing something completely wrong. It'll look frothy and foamy. But keep cooking and it will eventually look like a cohesive caramel. You cook it just until you start seeing dark streaks where the sugar is beginning to scorch. Remove it from the heat immediately.

Stir in the ground coffee and pistachios until well-combined. Work quickly as the toffee begins to harden as soon as you remove it from the heat.

Spoon the toffee onto the parchment paper, flattening it with a spatula. Let cool until set and hard. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container. 

Roasted Kabocha Fries

If ever I had to name a junk food that I love, it would be fries. Greasy, salty, delicious fries. But, I know they aren't good for me. So, I can usually stave off my fry-cravings with some oven roasted veggies. This time I had a kabocha squash from our CSA box. Awesome. I love that this only needs two ingredients besides the squash and is done in about an hour. This is one of my favorite autumn snacks.

  • 1 organic kabocha squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into half-moons
  • 2 to 3 T olive oil
  • freshly ground salt

Heat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In large mixing bowl, toss squash and olive oil together until well coated. Spread squash in even layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Roast 20 to 25 minutes, then flip and roast another 20 to 25 minutes more.        
Increase heat to 500°F. Roast an additional 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on both sides.

Serve hot.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf's Beef Biriyani #lecreusetlove #sponsor

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Le Creuset. All opinions are my own.

You can read about how I ended up with these lovely mini cocottes from Le Creuset in this post: Utility and Beauty. As soon as I opened up the box and my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf saw the cocottes, he squealed, "I'm going to make biriyani in those!!" Okay.

A couple of years ago, when the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and I were watching an episode from the second season of Mind of a Chef, we watched Chef April Bloomfield make lamb biriyani with Chef Stevie Parle. Here's a link to the Venison Biriyani on his website. We loved the presentation with the naan on top of the pots. We've been making it that way every since.

Beef Biriyani

Quick Note: This recipe was made over a period of two evenings. On the first, we seasoned the meat and made the curry which cooked for over three hours. On the second, we assembled the pots, baked, and enjoyed. This is well worth the efforts, I promise! Also, because our naan is made with gluten-free flour, I add an egg to help bind the dough. If you are using regular flour, you can skip the egg.

Spice Blend
  • 1 t cloves
  • 1 T black cumin 
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 3 t peppercorns (we used a mix of white, black, pink, and green peppercorns)
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • 6 white cardamom, seeds removed and pods discarded
  • ¼ t ground turmeric
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1/2 t red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 2" cinnamon stick
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 T butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 to 2 pounds beef (we used a sirloin steak), cubed
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 C tomato sauce
  • 2 T vinegar
  • 2 heaping T plain yogurt
  • 2 T ground almonds
  • 2 C basmati rice cooked
  • pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 C boiling water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • fresh herbs (I used a mixture of cilantro, parsley, and mixed greens)
Naan for topping pots and serving on the side
  • 1 t active dry yeast
  • 1 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 C warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 C gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 C plain yogurt
Prepare the spice mix by placing all the whole spices - except for the cinnamon - in a pestle. Grind with the mortar. Grate the cinnamon and stir in the cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, ground ginger, and nutmeg. Put to one side. In the same pestle grind the garlic and ginger with one teaspoon of salt until you have a rough paste. Set aside.

Place your meat in a large mixing bowl. Add in the dry spices, ginger, and garlic. Massage the spices into the beef. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large pan - we used a Dutch oven - melt butter in a splash of oil. Brown the meat until golden on all sides.

Remove meat from the pan and stir in the onions. Stir well. When the onions begin to soften, add the meat back in to the pan.

Add the tomatoes, vinegar, yogurt and ground almonds. Stir well to incorporate all of the spices that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Add enough cold water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil, cover, and let simmer for three hours, until the meat is tender. You can stop at this point and resume the following evening...or keep going if you have planned far enough in advance to not be eating dinner at midnight!

An hour before you'll be ready to assemble, soak your basmati rice in cool water and make your naan dough (see below). Bring your curry to room temperature if you refrigerated it over night. Drain the rice and cover it with boiling water. Add a pinch of salt. Let it boil for five minutes. Drain the rice, then return it to a covered pot to let it steam.

Place saffron in a small bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let steep for 5 to 10 minutes before assembling your pots...

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Drain the rice, place it in a lidded pot, and cover it with boiling water and a pinch of salt. Boil for four minutes, then drain and leave to steam in its pan with a lid.

Spoon some of the beef curry into the bottom of your dish.

Layer it with rice.

Add a drizzle of saffron water and a sprinkle of freshly grated cinnamon. Repeat: curry, rice, saffron water, and cinnamon.

For the Naan...
In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the active dry yeast and sugar in the warm milk. Let it sit until it blooms, approximately 10 or 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

Once the yeast is frothy, add the yogurt, egg, and 1 T olive oil to it. Whisk to combine. Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and blend the dough together with a fork. As the dough begins to come together, dust your hands with flour and knead into a soft, sticky dough. Knead just till it comes together.

Lightly grease a bowl and transfer the dough to it. Cover with a dish towel and let sit in a warm place for an hour.

Once you're ready to assemble and bake, take golf ball-sized pieces of dough and press them plan into a circle. Sprinkle some of the flour on top of the dough and on your hands as needed.

Place the naan circle on top of your curry and rice pots. Press it down securely and place it on a baking sheet. Bake until the naan is cooked and golden brown. Ours took approximately 12 minutes. If you have extra naan, cook them quickly on a hot skillet.

On the upside, I think that I've finally put my mini cocottes to good use. On the downside, I think he thinks these belong to him now! I might just need to get another set when he goes off to college. For now, we can share.

You may find Le Creuset...
on the web
on Facebook
on Twitter
on Pinterest
on Instagram

*Disclosure: I received this product for free from the sponsor and/or its public relations team in exchange for an honest review. I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

Share Buttons