Stick to Your Ribs

This is a perfect recipe during a polar vortex. It’s pretty much a delicious mess on the plate. I served it with some sauteed cabbage.

1 slab St. Louis style pork ribs, cut in half
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee
1 1/2 cups sliced leek greens
1 28 oz can tomato puree (preferably homemade)
1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons dry mustard
dash cayenne pepper or more to taste
3/4 cup water or chicken stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 lemons slices

Salt and pepper the meat. Preheat oven to 300 F degrees. In a very large saute pan or flat bottomed roasting pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. When it is shimmering, add the pork, fleshy side down and let fry, undisturbed, until nice and brown, about 8 minutes. Flip the meat over and repeat. When it is nicely browned all over, remove it from the pan and set aside. Turn down the flame and add the butter and the leeks. Stir fry the leeks until they are wilted and browning. Add all of the spices all at once and stir briefly. Add  remaining ingredients except the lemon and bring to a simmer. Return the ribs to the pan and coat them with the sauce. Top the ribs with the lemon slices. Cover the pan and bake for 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender. Remove the pan from the oven and skim off as much fat as you can from the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary with salt and pepper.

Ginger Crusted Catfish with Gingery Tartar Sauce

Yes, I like ginger. I suppose any thin, white-fleshed fish would work here. I like catfish because I can get locally raised. I used King Arthur gluten free all purpose flour. Make the tartar sauce in advance and let it sit in the fridge while you cook the fish.

For the fish:

1 lb. thin catfish filets
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup wheat-free all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup clarified butter or ghee
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 egg
salt and pepper

Salt and pepper the fish filets and set aside.  Combine the cornmeal, flour and spices in a shallow dish.  Break the egg into another shallow dish, add a few tablespoons of water and beat vigorously with a fork until it’s a little frothy. Dredge each piece of fish in the flour mixture, then roll it in the egg wash, and then dredge it in the flour mixture a second time.  Heat the butter and oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the fish at once without overlapping.  When it is shimmering and starting to smoke, add the fish. Let fry for 2-3 minutes or until just browned. Flip the fish and fry another 2-3 minutes until browned and cooked through. Serve with the tartar sauce.

For the tartar sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise (I used Duke’s)
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1 tablespoon minced scallion greens
1 tablespoon minced dill pickle
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
grated lemons zest from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
grated lime zest from 1/2 lime
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
Tabasco to taste
salt and pepper if needed

Stir together all of the ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Lemony Skillet Chicken, Rice, and Spinach

This is a quick and tasty meal for a busy weeknight. You need a large, straight-sided skillet with a lid. The turmeric gives the dish a gorgeous color.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thighs
2 leeks, chopped, green parts only
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
freshly grated zest from one lemon
2 cups water or homemade chicken broth
1 cup long grain white rice
4 cups torn spinach leaves
freshly squeezed juice from one lemon
s&p

Heat the olive oil in the skillet on high heat. While the oil is heating, generously salt and pepper the chicken. Put the thighs in the hot oil, skin side down. Let sit undisturbed until the skin is nicely browned, maybe 5 – 7 minutes. Turn the thighs over and let the other sides brown, 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Put the leeks in the hot pan and stir fry them for 1 minute. Add the spices and zest and give another stir or two around the pan. Add the water or stock, the rice, and the spinach. Stir. Let the mixture come to a simmer. When it does, place the chicken on top of the mixture, skin side up. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to low and simmer 15 – 20 minutes until the rice and chicken are cooked through. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Shepherd’s Pie

This is a nice dish for supper on a cold night. I had two partially used packages of ground meat in my freezer, so that’s what I used for this recipe. I had carrots freshly picked from my garden and green beans that I had blanched and frozen earlier in the season.

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons clarified butter
1/2 cup lactose-free milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar or other hard cheese

olive or vegetable oil
2 leeks, washed and sliced, green parts only
1 1/4 lbs ground beef, lamb, or a mixture of the two
2 -3 carrots, diced
1 heaping cup cut green beans, frozen is fine
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. Put the potato chunks in a large saucepan, cover with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the potatoes are tender 10 – 20 minutes depending on the size of your chunks. Drain and mash the potatoes together with the butter and milk. Stir in the cheese then taste and adjust seasoning.

While the potatoes are boiling, heat about a tablespoon of oil in an oven-proof skillet.  Add the leeks, and give them a couple of stirs around the pan until they just begin to soften. Add the meat and cook, breaking up clumps, until it is no longer pink. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until the carrots start to soften. There should be a little liquid in the pan but it should not be soupy. Add water if necessary.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Remove from the heat and spread the mixture out evenly in the pan; top with an even layer of the potato mixture. Pop into the oven uncovered and let it bake 25 – 30 minutes or until the potatoes just begin to brown. Serve hot, hot, hot!

Spaetzle and Cabbage Gratin

Last week, Melissa Clark of the New York Times published a recipe for a homemade noodle (spaetzle) made with rye flour and served in a simple gratin with some quickly braised cabbage. I have my favorite way of fixing cabbage so I combined that with some wheat-free spaetzle. It was delicious and perfect for a supper on a chilly fall evening.  Clark used a colander with large holes for making her spaetzle; I used a potato ricer. My batter was a bit thicker than hers (watch her video) and it worked perfectly. I used King Arthur Flours gluten free blend.   Common green cabbage is allowed on the low FODMAP diet.

1/4 cup clarified butter or ghee
2 leeks, washed and sliced, green parts only
3 cups sliced green cabbage
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

1 egg
1/3 cup lactose-free milk
1 1/2 cups King Arthur gluten free flour, divided
salt

1 cup grated hard cheese (parmesan, romano, asiago, cheddar, whatever)

Preheat oven to 425F and put a large pot of salted water on the stove over high heat. In a large, oven-safe skillet, melt the butter. Add the leeks and saute for a few minutes until the leeks start to soften then add the cabbage. Put a lid on the pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring every few minutes until the cabbage is cooked through and the leeks are starting to brown. While the cabbage is cooking, mix together the egg and milk. Add a pinch of salt. Whisk in 1 cup of flour and combine thoroughly. Let it sit for a minute. If the mixture is very thin, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time until you achieve a batter that won’t just run right through the holes of your colander or potato ricer. When the batter is thick enough and your large pot of water is boiling, hold the colander or ricer over the water and push the batter through the holes. Give the water a stir. The noodles are done when they float to the surface.  Remove the noodles with a slotted spoon and reserve them in a bowl.

When the cabbage is cooked, remove the lid from the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and plenty of nutmeg. This dish should be highly seasoned. Taste and add more s&P and nutmeg as needed. Add the noodles to the pan and stir gently to combine with the cabbage. Spread the mixture out in the pan, top with the grated cheese and pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot with more pepper.

Zuppa Marcella

I was inspired to make a minestrone-like soup when I heard about the passing of Marcella Hazan recently. I didn’t dare actually call this a minestrone because it is not authentic. But it sure is tasty and quick! To prepare the leeks, I cut the white bottom ends off and then split the green parts in half length-wise. Separating the layers of green leaves, I rinsed them thoroughly under running water. Leeks can get really dirty and need to be washed carefully.  Then I sliced the leek greens up into half-rounds.  I planted the white ends in my garden where they are starting to grow new leaves.  I didn’t measure all of the vegetables; my amounts are estimates.

SOUP
2 tablespoons clarified butter
1 cup sliced leeks, green parts only
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 cups fire roasted tomatoes, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup chopped green beans
1 small zucchini, diced
a few sprigs each of whatever fresh herbs you have on hand – I used parsley, rosemary, oregano and chives

Parsley PIstou
about 1 cup parsley leaves
about 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
about 1/4 cup best quality garlic oil

SOUP:

Melt the clarified butter in a large saucepan. When it is hot, add the leeks. Fry until they start to turn brown.  Add the ground beef and stir over high heat until it loses its pink color. Add the tomatoes, wine, carrots, cabbage, and green beans. Bring to a simmer over high heat.  Create a bouquet garni with the herbs.  Tie them up with kitchen twine.  When the soup is simmering, lower the heat, place the bouquet in the pot and put a lid on it.  Simmer, stirring every once in awhile, until the vegetables are almost soft.  Check the liquid level and add a bit of water if your soup is not soupy.  About 10 minutes before serving, remove the bouquet and add the zucchini. Put the lid back on and cook until the zucchini is just tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Put a tablespoon of pistou on each serving.

Parsley Pistou:

Put the parsley in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add roughly the same about of parmesan cheese to the bowl as you have chopped parsley.  Pulse a few more times.  With the motor running, add some oil until you have a pesto-like consistency.  Serve with soup!

Vaguely Indian Fish and Tomato Curry

Recently, I was at my farmers’ market looking for Roma tomatoes to roast and can, but there were none to be found. I got to talking to one of the vendors and he had about 8 lbs of “unsellable” tomatoes; those that were too blemished or ugly to sell. I bought them for 75 cents per pound and ended up with about 7 pints of tomatoes. Score! I highly recommend using homemade roasted tomatoes. I served this over rice.

3 small tilapia filets, cut into chunks
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1 pint fire roasted tomatoes, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 Serrano peppers, minced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil and mustard seeds. When the seeds start to pop like popcorn, add the zucchini and Serrano peppers and saute, stirring frequently, until the zucchini has just started to soften. Add the tomatoes and all of the remaining spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Place the fish on top of the sauce, put a lid on the pan, and simmer gently for another 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Give it all a stir and serve over rice.

Roasted Okra

Okra season is in swing! This makes me happy. According to the Monash University Low Fodmap Diet app, 3 pods of okra are acceptable on a low FODMAP diet. I have no idea what that means because okra pods range in size from tiny to gigantic. I assume that a serving is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped okra.

The traditional American approach to okra is to either stew it, put it in gumbo, or coat it with cornmeal and fry it. Those can all be good but I am a huge fan of roasting it. It is delicious just tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. But it can also be tossed with any number of other spices. One of my favorites is chaat masala. The brand I have in my cupboard is Shan and it is a blend of different peppers and spices. It does not contain any garlic or onion.

For roasting, I always buy the smallest okra I can find. I don’t use any that are bigger than my pinky finger.

Okra
Olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425F. Toss okra with just enough olive oil to coat it. Spread it out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or in a large, flat bottomed roasting pan. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven for 15 minutes or until browned in spots. You might want to check it about half way through and give the pan a shake. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with any other spice mixture you might like. Or not. Serve hot.

OMG Blueberry Pie

I’M USING ALL CAPS BECAUSE THIS PIE IS SO GOOD. AND IT IS SUPER EASY.

What a great way to indulge in blueberries. The cookie crumb crust is easy and delicious. I use Mi-Del brand arrowroot cookies; I find them in the health food section of my supermarket. If you are very sensitive to lactose, just leave off the whipped cream. Believe me, the pie is still delicious without it. Or you could try and find a non-dairy whipped topping that you like and can tolerate. Some folks swear by whipped coconut milk but I haven’t tried it.

For the crust
2 cups arrowroot cookies
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons melted clarified butter or ghee
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the filling
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon water
4 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
pinch salt

For serving
lightly sweetened whipped cream or low FODMAP alternative

Make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9 inch pie plate. Put the cookies and sugar in a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and vanilla and pulse a few times until thoroughly combine. Dump the mixture into the pie plate and pat it out with your hands across the bottom and up the sides. Try to get it as evenly distributed as possible. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until it starts to look golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Make the filling:
Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water and set aside. Combine 1/2 cup water, 2 cups blueberries, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, stir in the cornstarch mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining blueberries. Pour into the prepared pie shell. Let cool and then refrigerate until cold. Serve with or without whipped cream.

Spicy Slaw

I made the Aloha Skewers the other day, substituting shrimp for chicken. They were fantastic. I served this slaw alongside.

4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (Napa or regular)
1 serrano chile, finely minced
1 bunch scallions, green parts only, chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Toss together the first four ingredients. To make the dressing, whisk together the next four ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine the dressing with the salad, add a little salt to taste, and let sit 10 minutes before serving.