Duck Vindaloo

Duck VindalooGOA-an Somewhere?
In December of 1999, when my husband and I were just engaged, we were invited by a dear friend to stay with him and his family in Mumbai, India. The plan was to be in Mumbai to soak in all that the city has to offer before heading down to Goa to ring in the new century at a resort on the beach. This would be my first time traveling outside of the United States. And, if the Adventures of Alice in Wonderland comes to mind, you wouldn’t be wrong.

My husband has traveled all over the world. The only continent he has yet to explore is Australia. He’s lived in Mexico and Canada, gone on safari in Tanzania, explored much of Europe, and traveled through South America and parts of the Middle East—to name just a few destinations.

Back then he was only a few years removed from a stint in the Peace Corps. I was definitely a fish out of water. But, I was curious and fascinated by India, the food, the people, and the customs. (Don’t get me wrong it was a shock to the system. Nothing can prepare you for the sheer number of people, among other things.)

The markets were an explosion of color. I went with our friend’s mother and grandmother one day to pick out a sari and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. (Getting it to fit correctly was a challenge. At 5”10”, I couldn’t buy off the rack. Alas, after 3 kids, it no longer fits…) We ate spicy curry every morning for breakfast and drank the best chai you ever tasted. (It was rough on my Western stomach, but it was sooo good.) But the tandoori crab we ate one night…OMG. We still talk about it in hushed and reverent tones…

Goa was a totally different experience. It has a much more Mediterranean feel, and, because of Goa’s Portuguese history, you see things there that you would not see anywhere else in the country. The architecture is different. The lifestyle is different. It is a much slower pace. Most people live in villages versus the city. Goa is a haven for the Bohemian and creative-minded and artists from all over come here to live.

Lastly, Goan food is different. As you would expect of an area on the coast, the diet of Goa relies heavily on fish and seafood. But, it is not uncommon to find pork and beef on the menu thanks to its Portuguese Catholic roots. And you will always find something spicy. The Portuguese are responsible for bringing chilis over from Brazil and introducing them to the rest of India. So, it should come as no surprise that Vindaloo, or Vindahlo, the spicy curry found on the menu of numerous Indian restaurants, comes from Goa. Shrimp is everywhere in Goa, and I am always down for a spicy shrimp vindaloo. Paired with steamed Jasmin rice it’s a great way to warm yourself up on a cold winter day.

I was intrigued, however, when I saw this recipe for Duck Vindaloo. I can count on one hand the number of duck recipes I have come across while looking for Indian food. I see it more with Thai or Indonesian food. This dish can be served with rice in true Indian fashion. And, for a more Portuguese/Goan feel, serve it with some boiled potatoes and your favorite sautéed winter greens.

Duck Vindaloo Recipe
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Brined Pork Loin with Molasses-Mustard Glaze and Apple Butter

Brined Pork Loin with Molasses-Mustard GlazeFallin’ for Pork
Fall is when pork shines. My family eats pork pretty much year-round—either as pork chops, or in tacos, or whatever. But, when the calendar flips to fall, I start thinking about juicy pork roasts. (Turning the oven on in the middle of July when it is 102º outside is a non-starter.) Fall flavors like apple and cinnamon pair perfectly with the mild flavor of pork.

But, the challenge with pork roasts is that they can dry out if you cook them too long. To solve that problem and to introduce the flavors of the season to the pork, I like to throw any roasts or chops that we’re having for dinner in a brine.

Brining is easy and you don’t have to do it for long periods of time. Pork chops, for example, only need to be brined for 30 minutes to an hour depending on how thick they are. (Double cut chops can go as long as 2 hours.) Over-brining will cause the meat to be mushy which is never pleasant.

There are so many brines to pick from. But, I am partial to any that include apple juice or cider. The end result is just a bit sweeter but not super apple-y. One of my all-time favorite brines for pork is our recipe for Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins. I use it 90% of the time, as it’s relatively quick and can be managed mid-week.

Sometimes though, you wanna go bigger.

This recipe for Brined Pork Loin with Molasses-Mustard Glaze and Apple Butter is not a quick weekday whip-up. It is better left for a lazy Sunday dinner with friends and family watching the leaves fall from the trees. Serve this with some roasted sweet potatoes and/or Brussel sprouts and maybe our Barley and Pine Nut Pilaf for the best representation of Fall on your plate…

Brined Pork Loin with Molasses-Mustard Glaze and Apple Butter Recipe
Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay and the Food Network
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Chicken with 40 Cloves Of Garlic

Chicken with 40 Cloves Of GarlicFall, Fires, and Garlic
September is a weird time in California. While the rest of the country is thinking about colored leaves, pumpkin spice, and has started pulling out their light sweaters, we here on the west coast are still battling 90-degree heat and, sadly, forest fires. What’s happening in Tahoe is heartbreaking. What would normally be a gorgeous Labor Day weekend to celebrate the last days of summer (at least according to the calendar) is now an ash-filled hazy orange nightmare. Makes talking about food trivial but, we still gotta eat…

There are a lot of reasons I chose this week’s recipe. First, this dish is the very essence of comfort food. French comfort food. With everything that is going on locally as well as across the globe, we could all use a little comfort right now. And, I think Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic will do just the trick. There are multiple versions of this classic dish, the most obvious being from Julia Child. I personally like my modified version of the James Beard’s classic.

Rosh Hashana starts Monday at sundown and for those who celebrate, this recipe is a tasty and flexible melt-in-your-mouth way to feed a small family or a large crowd depending on the size of your Jewish New Year feast. This is the second reason I chose this recipe.

The third reason is because you put it in a pot, throw it in the oven, and walk away for over an hour. (Preferably with a lovely, very cold glass of white wine). Since my daughter has practice that runs fairly late in the evening, a recipe like this is a great way to have a hot meal ready when she gets home and is ravenous.

Paired with crusty bread and your favorite salad on the side, this is a classic satisfying meal no matter what your reasons for choosing to make it.

That being said, thank you and Godspeed to our firefighters! L’shana Tovah to all who are celebrating. And, Go Falcons!

Chicken with 40 Cloves Of Garlic Recipe
Adapted from James Beard
Serves 8 Read more…

Sausages & Peppers

Sausages & PeppersPick A Peppa
It has become abundantly clear that the month of August will be all about cooking from my garden—with a little protein brought in to round out the meal.

At the moment, my challenge is to use all of the peppers and chilies that are growing like gangbusters. Sure, there are the obvious salsas and salads, but that will only take you so far. The good news is that you can dice up the peppers and freeze them for later. And, this will save you time and prolong the enjoyment of your garden long after the plants are gone.

Still, there is something about picking a pepper, taking it inside, and chopping it up for dinner that is satisfying. So, the other night I did just that. I picked all of the sweet Italian peppers that I could, sliced them up, and made them into sausage and peppers.

Ask any Italian American they will tell you that Sausages & Peppers is some of the best comfort food. And, served in a crusty Italian roll or alongside some cheesy polenta, it’s a mouthful of straight-up yum. I opted for the roll because, for whatever reason, that seemed more like summertime to me. Save the polenta for a chilly evening in the fall…

Sausage & Peppers Recipe
Yields 6 Servings  Read more…