Why I cook with Pork...

As you all know, I don't usually do a lot of writing here, since this blog is all about RECIPES...however, I did promise to write a little, so I've decided to write about "Pork".

Why ? Because, if you haven't noticed, I do have quite a lot of pork recipes. The reason being,and I do admit - I love pork. Not to say I don't like other meats like beef, chicken, lamb etc... I do, but pork and I have a soft spot for each other.

Besides, compared to beef, lean cuts of pork, such as tenderloin or loin have a lot less fat per ounce than beef. And of course, the taste is very different. 

There are so many myths about pork that turn people on or off...mostly off. But I won't write about that, I'll let you do your own research and decide which side of the fence you're on. Of course, if you don't like it, you don't. End of discussion. Or if because of your traditions, religious constraints or other disallow you from eating this meat, then so be it.

I love it - for the taste, the texture, the versatility etc. And I like my pork "pink"... 

Following this post will be two more great, easy, Pork recipes, so ENJOY !

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Mussels with Celery, White Wine and Fresh Tomatoes

Time: 35 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

2 1/2 lbs fresh mussels, rinsed and cleaned of beards
4 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced
1 large Spanish onion (red) halved and sliced lengthwise
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 large ripe red tomatoes, diced
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
Fine sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic and celery in olive oil on medium high heat. Add the tomatoes and the wine, salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the tomatoes are almost crushed. Add the mussels and cover. Simmer until the all the mussels have opened. About 10 minutes. Add the cilantro and spoon the sauce over the mussels. Serve immediately with fresh Baguette or with fries and home made mayonnaise.

Veloute of Sweet Potato & Romanesco with Parsley Cream

Time: 35 to 45 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

3-4 large Romanesco flowerettes (you may use Broccoli instead)
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
Water for steaming and boiling - approx. 4 cups
1 cup chicken or beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 oz finely chopped curly parsley
4 tbsp heavy cooking cream

Steam the Romanesco or broccoli until very tender. Meanwhile boil the sweet potatoes in water until very tender. Save the water for later use. Place all the vegetables in a food processor with some of the chicken/beef stock and blend, adding more of the stock a little at a time. Once you have added all the stock the puree should not be too thick, if so, add a bit of the water from the boiled sweet potatoes. Return the puree to a medium sized saucepan and simmer on low. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a drizzle of cream sprinkled with chopped parsley. 

Calf Liver with Mushrooms and Creamy Dijon & Red Wine

Time: 20 minutes or less
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

4 slices of calf liver (veal)
1 shallot, minced
8-10 small white mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Fine sea salt and fresh black pepper
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp dry red wine
1 tbsp dijon mustard

In a medium sized bowl, whip the cream until almost stiff, then slowly add the red wine and dijon mustard until well combined. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a skillet until very hot. Quickly saute the liver so they are browned on each side, then remove them to a plate. Add the shallots and mushrooms along with the balsamic vinegar. Saute until the mushrooms are browned. Add the liver and quickly saute - about one minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately with the dijon-wine cream. (Served here with roast potato wedges and baby spinach salad with a balsamic reduction).

Chicken Thighs Stuffed with Asparagus and Lemon Shallot Sauce

Time: 35 - 40 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

4 boneless, skinless (optional) chicken thighs
8 green asparagus stalks, lightly steamed
2 tbsp butter 
Juice from 1/2 lemon, plus the rind - grated
2 shallots, sliced lengthwise (not too thin)
4-5 white mushrooms, sliced thickly
Fine sea salt and a generous amount of fresh grated pepper
Cooking string to tie up the thighs

Steam the asparagus until crisp. (About 3 minutes or less). Open up each chicken thigh, skin side down - like a butterfly. Insert 2-3 asparagus stalks cut to size, keeping the remainder for decoration later. Roll up each thigh, and tie the ends securely with string, cutting off any extra. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet until very hot. Add the chicken thighs and brown on each side, then remove onto a plate. Reduce the heat a little and add the rest of the butter, shallots and mushrooms. Saute until the shallots are transluscent, then add the chicken and a little water to deglaze the skillet. Add the lemon juice, rind, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for approx. 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Serve with mashed potatoes (shown here - mashed with parsnips) and garnish with the remaining asparagus.

Oriental "Tapas"

Who said "Tapas" had to be from the Iberian Peninsula ?
The real meaning of "Tapas" is lid or cover... they are little appetizers served with ones drink, and can be made from anything. They originate from Spain. If you want to read more about tapas, there's a ton of information available on Google or other search engines. Here's an Oriental twist to "Tapas" !
Wonton wrappers shaped into cups, filled with seared scallops, giant shrimp. Served with mini pork dumplings,fried wonton crisps and peanut sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce and Soy-Hoisin Espuma (purple cauliflower in the middle)
Time: 1 hour (approx.)
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

Extras that you will need for this presentation: 
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Mini pork dumplings (store bought)
  • Steamed vegetables for decoration and to dip (I used purple cauliflower)

1. Soy-Hosin Espuma (or Whip)
Note - this recipe calls for a cream whipper. If you don't have one, you can simply whip the cream and add the rest of the ingredients, however with a cream whipper the texture is totally different. I use the ISI whipper. See below for details on where to buy or at your local kitchen supply store.

1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 - 3 tbsp Hoisin sauce
Combine the ingredients until well blended. Adjust the taste to your liking. Pour the mixture into your cream whipper and charge twice. Shake a couple of times and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the "tapas".

2. Wonton Cups & Crisps
10 wonton wrappers
4 giant shrimp (raw, shelled)
4 giant scallops, each cut in half
1 tsp Safflower or Canola oil, plus 1/4 cup for frying & brushing the cups
2-3 drops of Sesame oil

Heat oven to 450o. Take 2 muffin tins that hold 4 muffins each (or a larger one - as long as you make 8 cups, 4 for each person) and brush the insides lightly with safflower oil. Place each wonton over a cup, and gently press down so that they form a cup in the mold. Brush the tops with a little more safflower oil. Bake in the oven for approx. 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove to cool. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp of safflower oil with the sesame oil unti it is very hot, and saute the shrimp until pink on all sides. Remove and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Saute the scallops until golden on all sides and springy to the touch - try not to over cook or they'll be rubbery. Remove and place on the plate with the shrimp. Add the remaining oil to the pan, and return to the heat until piping hot. Cut strips from the remaining wontons and fry quickly, a few strips at a time, turning once. Careful because they burn quickly ! Using a slotted spoon remove the strips onto another plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the strips. 

3. Peanut Sauce
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp black & white roasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix all the ingredients together until it makes a smoothe sauce. You may need to add a little more water if the sauce is too thick.

4. Mini Pork Dumplings
8 mini pork dumplings (found in most supermarkets in the frozen section)
3 cups water for boiling
1 tbsp oil
2-3 drops of Sesame oil
In a medium sized saucepan, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the oils and the dumplings. Boil for approx. 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain in a collander. Make sure not to let them stick together!

Assembly of the "Tapas"
Take two large plates and arrange the wonton cups nicely, filling each one with shrimp and scallops. Form a circle with your vegetables, and pour in your Soy-hoisin Espuma or whip. In between each cup, add a spoon of peanut sauce and top with a dumpling. Pour a little Thai sweet chili sauce all around, and garnish with the wonton crisps that you can use to dip into the sauces. 

ISI Whipper: 

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Belated Happy 2013!

Wishing everyone a very good year in 2013!

Kicking off 2013 at Jump Into My Kitchen with lots of new and fun
RECIPES! (which are coming your way shortly.)

As you may have noticed, this is not a typical food/foodie blog.
I don't write endlessly about why I made this or that, nor about how I was
feeling on a given night, day etc. 
This blog is for RECIPES. Simple as that.
No need to read on and on in each post to get to a recipe.
The recipe is the first thing you will see when searching for an ingredient or specific recipe.

Most of the recipes are created by me, or existing ones that I've reinvented
and added a new twist to. I love experimenting with flavors, colors and textures.
While I am not a professional Chef, I am completely self-taught, I have been cooking and experimenting for over 25 years therefore I know a lot of techniques and am constantly striving to learn new ones.

For example, this year you will see recipes on "Espumas", "Foams" and some other molecular-type recipes which are fun and will add another dimension to your repertoire and mine.

So, enjoy cooking, don't be afraid to experiment and be creative !

Bon Appetit !