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.

Pork & Asparagus Stir Fry

I loved that this was a veggie-loaded dish. Other members of my family may have complained that they wished it had more meat. 😉 Everyone enjoyed it!

I used asparagus combined with farm stand sugar snap peas and my CSA garlic scapes and bunching broccoli. Any crisp vegetable could be incorporated. We ate it over rice drizzled with Sriracha to add extra heat- perfect.

This Sichuan-inspired stir-fry recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Deb Perelman.

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 to 2 T peanut or vegetable oil, divided (I used 6 teaspoons)
  • 2+ lbs crispy green vegetables (I used 1 lb asparagus, trimmed, cut on a diagonal into 1″–2″ pieces with 1 lb bunching broccoli, cut into 2″ pieces, and 2 cups sugar snaps)
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • pinch or dash of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 4 to 6 scallions, white and pale green parts only, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped, optional
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 2″ piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 T Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or medium-dry sherry
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • white or brown rice, cooked, for serving
  • store-bought chili crisp or sriracha, for serving, optional
  1. Heat 1 or 2 teaspoons of peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
  2. Once pan is hot (oil will be lightly smoking), add half of the vegetables and a couple pinches of salt and cook, tossing only once or twice so the pieces have a chance to blister, until crisp-tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add another 1 or 2 teaspoons of peanut oil to skillet (no need to wipe it out) and repeat process with remaining vegetables.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-high; add remaining 1 or 2 teaspoons of peanut oil to skillet, then add pork, spreading out into an even layer. Season with a couple pinches of salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired. Cook, undisturbed, until meat begins to brown underneath, about 2 minutes.
  4. Break up meat with a wooden spoon and add scallions, garlic scapes (if using), garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring, until pork is crisp and mixture is very fragrant, about 2 minutes. (I used a mini-food processor to finely chop the scallions, garlic, garlic scapes, and ginger.)
  5. Add wine and soy sauce and return the vegetable to the skillet. Cook, turning to coat with pork mixture, until heated through, about 1 minute.
  6. Transfer stir-fry to a platter or large shallow bowl and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve with rice and hot sauce.

Ottolenghi’s Meatball Toad-in-the-Hole

More meatballs! This is an updated version of the classic British dish. Ottolenghi describes the key elements as “well-cooked meat, crisp pancake and velvety gravy.” He modified the popular dish by using ground pork in the meatballs. It was very hearty and rich.

The complete dish was time consuming to prepare, but the components can be made separately and ahead to save time, if desired. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I modified the baking times.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: about 2 hours

For the Batter:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup/240 ml whole milk
  • 2/3 cup/160 ml India pale ale or another pale ale (I used Sierra Nevada)
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 3/4 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Gravy:

  • 2 T sunflower or canola oil
  • 1 T (15 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 small onions (about 12 oz (350 g) total), halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups/480 ml chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 T/100 ml India pale ale
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

  • 7 oz/200 g sourdough bread, crusts discarded and bread cut into 1/4-inch (1/2-centimeter) cubes
  • 3/4 cup/180 ml whole milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds/700 g ground pork
  • 4 oz/115 g pancetta, very finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 1/2 onion or 1 very small onion (about 3 oz/80 g), grated
  • 1/3 packed cup/20 g roughly chopped parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 T/90 ml sunflower or canola oil
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  1. Heat the oven to 475°F/240°C, preferably on convection.
  2. Prepare the batter: Add the eggs, milk, beer and mustard to a large bowl, and whisk vigorously until foamy, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the flour and salt to a separate large bowl, making a well in the center, and pour the egg mixture into the well, in about four increments, whisking lightly each time until the flour is just incorporated. Whisk until there are no lumps and the ingredients are just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter.
  4. Set batter aside for at least 30 minutes, or while you continue with the next step.
  5. Prepare the gravy: Add the oil, butter, onions, rosemary and vinegar to a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-centimeter) baking dish (tin)(Do not use pyrex/glass). Bake, stirring a couple of times during cooking, until the onions are thoroughly collapsed and browned, about 20 minutes.
  6. Whisk together the flour, stock and beer in a bowl until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper, then pour flour mixture into the baking dish.
  7. Return gravy to the oven and bake, stirring twice throughout, until the gravy is thick and rich, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs and keep warm.
  8. While the gravy is cooking, prepare the meatballs: Soak the bread in the milk in a small bowl and set aside until the liquid is absorbed, 10 minutes. Use your hands or a fork to break apart the bread into a lumpy mash.
  9. In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, pancetta, onion, parsley, garlic and lemon zest with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add the bread and use your hands to knead the mixture until it is very well mixed. Shape into 12 large meatballs.
  10. Spread 2 tablespoons oil across the bottom of a large roasting pan (tin), about 9-by-13-inches (23-by-33-centimeters) in size. (I used an enameled cast iron baking pan.)
  11. Add the meatballs and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until some of their liquid has been released. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet (tray) lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Pour the liquid released from the meatballs in the roasting pan directly into the gravy, and then wipe the roasting pan dry.
  12. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil to the meatball roasting pan and return to the oven until very hot and beginning to smoke, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  13. Working as quickly as possible, pour the batter into the pan (it should bubble around the edges) and then add the meatballs and 2 rosemary sprigs. Return to the oven immediately and bake for 15 minutes.
  14. Reduce the temperature to 400°F/210°C (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until golden and well risen. (If you want, near the end of baking time (when the custard is set), you can sneak the gravy into the oven to rewarm during the last 5 minutes of baking.)
  15. Serve immediately, with the gravy alongside.

Spicy-Sweet Sambal Pork Noodles

This tasty and quick dish is listed as one of Bon Appétit’s Most Popular Recipes of 2019. It’s a great list! 🙂 The dish is inspired by pad kee mao, known as drunken noodles.

I used fresh noodles from an Asian grocery that were the most similar to fresh ramen noodles. This dish was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions and method. Great.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2.5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs ground pork, divided
  • 1 2 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks or finely chopped
  • 10 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 T tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus more for serving
  • 6 T hot chili paste (I used sambal oelek)
  • 5 T soy sauce
  • 5 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 lbs fresh ramen noodles or 16 to 20oz dried spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 T unsalted butter

  1. Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add half of pork to pot, breaking apart into 6–8 large chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until well browned underneath, about 5 minutes. Turn pieces and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until pork is browned on 2–3 sides, about 5 minutes longer.
  3. Add ginger, garlic, sugar, and remaining pork to pot and cook, breaking up pork into small clumps, until meat is nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.
  4. Add tomato paste and 2 basil sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until paste darkens, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add chili paste, soy sauce, vinegar, and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened and flavors have melded, 30–45 minutes.
  6. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute short of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. (I cooked 1 pound of noodles at a time for 1 minute each, removing the first batch with a bamboo strainer.)
  7. Add to cooked noodles to the pot with sauce along with butter and a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Simmer, tossing occasionally, until sauce begins to cling to noodles, about 1 minute. Pluck out basil sprigs.
  8. Adjust consistency with additional pasta water, as desired.
  9. Divide noodles among plates. Top with torn basil.

Shortcut Baked Rigatoni with Meatballs

There are so many end-of-the-school-year parties this time of year. A great time to share a crowd-pleasing casserole! I brought this baked pasta dish to my son’s pre-County Championship Swim Meet pasta dinner. I was thrilled when my friend’s husband asked for the recipe. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from such a fun book- Mad Genius Tips: Over 90 Expert Hacks + 100 Delicious Recipes by Justin Chapple and the Editors of Food and Wine. I love Chapple’s column in the printed magazine and knew I would enjoy this book as well. The pasta and the meatballs cook in the oven. Truly genius!

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed basil, torn or chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ziti, rigatoni, rotini, fusilli, shells, or campanelle pasta
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 28 oz (about 3 cups) prepared marinara sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pork, beef/turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, 1/3 cup torn basil, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; mix well.
  3. Using a cookie scoop, form the meat mixture into one-inch balls.
  4. In a 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish, spread half of the pasta in an even layer.
  5. Arrange half of the meatballs (about 16) and mozzarella on the pasta.
  6. Spoon half of the marinara on top and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  7. Repeat with the remaining pasta, meatballs, cheese, and marinara. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  8. Place baking dish on a rimmed cookie sheet. Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the baking dish and cover tightly with foil.
  9. Bake for about 1 hour, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  10. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer, until lightly browned.
  11. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil and parmesan and serve.

Make Ahead: The baked pasta can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

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Swedish Meatloaf with Caramelized Cabbage (Kalpudding)

I planned to make this Swedish dish after spending the afternoon at IKEA. 🙂 I knew that we could buy the lingonberry preserves for the topping during our shopping spree too.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I used a combination of ground pork and ground turkey instead of ground beef. Next time I would double the sauce- loved it. Sifton recommended serving it with boiled potatoes. We ate it with mashed new potatoes (my husband’s request) and roasted asparagus. It was such wonderful comfort food. Great.

Yield: 6 servings

For the Meatloaf:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 head green cabbage, approximately 3 pounds, cored and shredded
  • 3 tablespoons molasses or golden syrup
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ cup chicken, turkey, beef or vegetable stock, ideally homemade or low-sodium store-bought (or water)

For the Sauce:

  • ⅓ cup lingonberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
  1. Shred the cabbage in a food processor.
  2. Heat oven to 350, preferably on convection.
  3. Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and add the butter. When it starts to foam, add the cabbage and molasses, lower the heat to medium and sprinkle with salt. Cook slowly, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is caramelized, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  4. While the cabbage is cooking, lightly mix the meats in a large bowl, then add the onion, cream, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Mix again to combine.
  5. When the cabbage is done, add about a third of it to the meat mixture, and mix to combine.
  6. Grease an 8-inch-square or 8 x 10-inch baking pan, and transfer the meat mixture to it, spreading it out to cover the whole surface evenly.
  7. Spread remaining cabbage over the meat, pour the stock or water over the top and place in the oven, on a parchment-lined baking sheet, to cook for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is very, very caramelized, almost dry and crunchy at the edges.
  8. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.
  9. While the meat and cabbage cooks, make the sauce. Heat lingonberry preserves, vinegar and butter in a small pot set over medium heat, then add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serve alongside the kalpudding.

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Squash & Pork Stir-Fry

I’m sure you’ve rushed around the grocery store thinking you’ve purchased the necessary ingredients to throw together a “quick” weeknight meal. Right? I thought that was the case for me… When  I started to prepare this dish, I realized that I had ground pork instead of pork sausage and butternut instead of kabocha squash. I’m blaming holiday stress and distraction. (Well, truth be told, the squash was a conscious substitution- no fabulous kabocha to be found.) :/

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I doubled the recipe, used ground pork instead of pork sausage (oops!), seasoned accordingly, butternut instead of kabocha squash, and cashews instead of peanuts. I also omitted the sugar. I roasted the squash instead of steaming and sautéing it. We let the dish stand alone, but it would also be wonderful accompanied by rice. Delicious!

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 1 medium butternut or kabocha squash, cut into 1-inch pieces, approximately 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound (80 percent lean) ground pork
  • 1 tsp coarse salt, plus more for squash
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for squash
  • dash or two of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and sliced
  • 1 T finely grated peeled ginger root
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)
  • 4 tsp fish sauce
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • salted, roasted peanuts or cashews and chopped cilantro, for serving, as desired
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Toss squash with 1 T olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place squash on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, and paprika; cook, breaking into large pieces and stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, shallot, chiles, and ginger and cook, stirring often, just until softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add roasted squash, lime juice, fish sauce, and scallions; toss to combine.
  6. Serve stir-fry topped with nuts and cilantro, as desired.

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