Caramelized Pork & Cucumber Stir-Fry

I have never cooked cucumbers before! The cucumber slices in this stir-fry were quickly sautéed until just crisp tender- great. I also loved the seasonings in the finished dish.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Christina Chaey. I used my largest skillet (14-inch) but would use a 12-inch next time. I don’t have a 14-inch splatter screen and I made quite a mess. :/ It was worth it.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 large English/European cucumber, peeled in alternating lengthwise strips, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, halves sliced crosswise on a diagonal 1/2-inch thick (I used a melon baller to remove the seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal), plus more
  • 2 T oyster sauce
  • 2 T soy sauce (I used Trader Joe’s light soy sauce)
  • 2 T Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or medium-dry sherry (I used dry sherry)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3 T grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 Fresno chile, halved, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 one-inch piece ginger root, peeled, finely grated
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground white or black pepper
  • white rice, for serving (I used white Basmati rice)
  • minced cilantro, for garnish, optional
  1. Toss cucumber slices and kosher salt in a medium bowl to coat evenly. Let sit until cucumber slices start to release their liquid, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, stir oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sherry (or Shaoxing wine) in a small bowl to combine; set aside.
  3. Using your hands, form pork into six small patties. Season lightly with salt; set aside.
  4. Drain cucumber slices in a colander and rinse well under cool running water. Drain, shaking off any excess water, then pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet (12-inch) over medium-high. Cook cucumber slices, tossing vigorously, until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.
  6. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high.
  7. Add reserved pork patties; gently flatten with a spatula. Cook, pressing occasionally to help meat make contact with pan, until deeply browned and crisp underneath, about 4 minutes.
  8. Flip patties; cook until other side is deeply browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  9. Break up pork into large pieces; continue to cook until no longer pink, about 1 minute.
  10. Add chile, ginger, garlic, and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  11. Add cucumber back to skillet along with reserved sauce. Cook, tossing often, until sauce is reduced and evenly coats pork and cucumber slices, about 1 minute.
  12. Serve stir-fry over rice. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

One-Pot Chicken Thighs with Black Beans, Rice & Chiles

The New York Times recently posted a list of “The 13 Best Cookbooks of Fall 2019” along with one recipe from each book. Such a wonderful peek. 🙂

Baked chicken and rice dishes are an absolute favorite in my house, so I was immediately drawn to this dish adapted from Diana Henry’s From the Oven to the Table: Simple Dishes that Look After Themselves, contributed to The New York Times by Margaux Laskey.

This Mexican-inspired dish was incredibly flavorful. I loved serving it with all of the garnishes as well. We ate it with sautéed greens on the side. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves to 8

  • 8 to 10 (5 pounds) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil
  • 1 large yellow, Vidalia or white onion, chopped
  • 2 green or red bell peppers, halved, seeded and sliced (I used my CSA long green peppers)
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 red Fresno chiles or jalapeños, halved, seeded and chopped, plus one sliced chile for garnish
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
  • 6 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice, rinsed in a sieve until the water runs clear
  • 3 T chopped cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges, pickled chiles, sliced fresh chiles, sour cream and sliced avocado, for serving, as desired
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch (or larger) ovenproof skillet (the pan size is very important) over medium-high. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  4. In two batches, brown the chicken on both sides to give it good color, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Add the onion and bell peppers to the pan and sauté until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil.
  7. Meanwhile, add the chiles, cinnamon, garlic and cumin to the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the black beans and cherry tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  9. Sprinkle the rice on top in an even layer. (It’s important that the black beans are beneath the rice and chicken. The rice will burn otherwise.)
  10. Add the stock and return the chicken to the pan, skin-side up.
  11. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. The chicken should be lovely and golden, the stock should be absorbed and the rice should be tender.
  12. Sprinkle with the cilantro.
  13. Serve with lime wedges, pickled chiles, sliced fresh chiles, sour cream and avocado (squeeze some lime juice over the avocados in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper), as desired.

Velvety Corn Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Swirl

I have another fresh corn dish to share. 🙂 This wonderful soup was buttery and luxurious. The beautiful swirl of roasted red peppers puréed with Fresno chiles and smoked paprika gave the finished dish the perfect amount of heat. It is a great late summer dish to serve as the evening temperatures begin to drop.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I modified the proportions and puréed the soup in a Vitamix and omitted pressing it through a sieve. I used chicken stock, but the original recipe also includes instructions to make corn-cob broth to use as an alternative. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 3 fresh Fresno chiles, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp pimentón (smoked paprika) or 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 4 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 6 large ears) or 4 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 4 1/2 cups water, corn-cob broth (see below) or chicken stock, plus more to adjust consistency
  • Lime wedges, for garnish, optional
  1. Place bell peppers on an aluminum foil lined, rimmed baking sheet under broiler and roast, turning frequently with tongs, until blackened and blistered all over, about 5 minutes per side. (Alternatively, the peppers can also be charred over an open gas flame.)
  2. Remove from heat, wrap in the aluminum foil pan lining (to steam off the charred skin), and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Cut in each in half vertically. With a paring knife, remove seeds from each half, then turn over and peel away the blackened skin. Do not rinse; a little remaining char is fine. Reserve one half for another use.
  4. Transfer 3 halves of roasted pepper to a blender or food processor and add Fresno chiles, pimentón, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend to a smooth purée. Set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  6. Add onions and corn kernels to the melted butter. Season well with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium. Cooking, stirring, until onions are softened and beginning to color, 7 to 8 minutes.
  7. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  8. Add 4 1/2 cups water or stock/broth and salt to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes, until corn is well cooked.
  9. Transfer to a blender or Vitamix and whiz to a smooth purée. Thin with additional water or stock/broth to the consistency of heavy cream, as desired. (I did not add any additional stock.)
  10. If using a Vitamix, purée soup at the highest setting for one minute to ensure a velvety smooth purée. (If using a blender or food processor, pass soup through a fine mesh strainer, pressing with the back of a large spoon or ladle to extract every drop of liquid. (This step is important to guarantee a velvety texture.) Discard any fibrous remains.)
  11. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  12. To serve, reheat and ladle into shallow soup bowls. Swirl about 2 tablespoons pepper purée into the center of each bowl. Pass lime wedges at the table, as desired.

To Make Corn-Cob Broth: put 8 cups water in a large saucepan. Add 6 corn cobs, cut into 3-inch chunks; 1 small onion, sliced; and a small sprig or two of thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain. Make broth up to 24 hours in advance.

Creamy Corn Chowder

Wow. This was delicious. A real celebration of summer farmstand corn. My local farmstand happens to have absolutely wonderful bi-color corn which I used for this special chowder.

A fresh corn broth is made for the base of this soup. It incorporates the corn cobs, shiitake mushroom stems, herbs, as well as parmesan rinds. I think it really makes the finished dish extraordinary.

I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit, contributed by Rick Martinez. I lightened the recipe by using half and half instead of heavy cream. I also used home-grown jalapeños instead of Fresno chiles and parsley instead of marjoram. I doubled the garlic too, of course. 😉 Fabulous!!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 8 ears of corn
  • 2 Parmesan rinds (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • coarse salt
  • 5 T unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces (I used 3 thick slices)
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces (I used 1 1/2 large potatoes)
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 2 Fresno chiles or jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 T chopped marjoram or parsley, plus more for serving
  • oyster crackers, for serving, optional
  1. Cut kernels from cobs and place in a large bowl. Reserve cobs.
  2. Place cobs in a medium pot and add Parmesan rinds, if using, mushroom stems, thyme, bay leaf, 2 tsp. salt, and 8 cups water.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until broth is fragrant and reduced by half, 40–50 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids and set broth aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 4 T butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high.
  5. Add corn kernels, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and juices have evaporated and browned on the bottom of the pot, 12–15 minutes. Reserve ½ cup corn for serving; transfer remaining corn to a medium bowl.
  6. Add wine to pot and cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid is syrupy, about 2 minutes. Scrape into bowl with remaining corn.
  7. Heat remaining 1 T butter in same pot over medium and cook bacon until golden brown and fat has rendered, about 6 minutes.
  8. Add potatoes, shallots, leek, garlic, and chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened but haven’t taken on any color, 12–15 minutes.
  9. Add chiles and cook until fragrant and softened, about 3 minutes.
  10. Stir in flour and cook until nutty and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  11. Add reserved broth, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork-tender, 10–15 minutes.
  12. Add half and half (or cream) and corn mixture and cook, stirring, until chowder has thickened, 5–10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parley. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.
  13. Divide chowder among bowls. Top with additional parsley, oyster crackers, and reserved ½ cup corn; season with pepper.

Note: To make this vegetarian, omit the bacon and replace with more shiitake mushrooms; sauté them until they’re golden brown.

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