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Stir Fry: Harvest Special

I didn’t grow a ton of veggies in the garden this year. I did have a substantial carrot patch, a mix of Touchon and Purple Dragons. I also had a pair of Fairy Tale eggplants, some Pablano peppers and a good amount of Tatsoi bak choi. Needless to say, all of these things came to meet one another in My wok. With a few additions, a very nice meal was spawned. There is just nothing better than garden fresh food! Here is what I did for the first meal after harvest. Paired with rice, noodles, or bread, this recipe serves two ravenous teenagers, or four average appetites.

Garden Fresh Stir Fry © Andor

Supplies Needed: Knife and cutting board. Wok, or large, high sided fry pan. Large bowl, or zip-lock bag for marinating.

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
3-4 large carrots, chopped into pieces no more than a quarter inch thick
4 small eggplants, sliced about a quarter inch thick(Kamo eggplants are best for frying)
1 large onion, chopped to Your liking
2 pablano peppers, diced
1 head of bak choi, stems removed(about 30, 3-4 inch leaves)
a quarter cup of dry sherry
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
salt and pepper to taste
bacon grease(I love bacon grease!), or Your choice of cooking oil.

Prep and Cooking:

Mix the sherry, lemon juice, hoisin and pablano peppers in a large bowl, or zip-lock bag. Add the pork and let marinate for at least 30 minutes(over night is best). Over medium-high heat, stir fry the carrots until they reach Your desired texture and remove from pan. Then stir fry the eggplants with black pepper and a pinch of salt and set aside as well. Now start cooking the onions, when they start to turn translucent, turn the heat to high and add the pork and liquid mixture. Stir fry on high until the meat is done cooking, then reduce heat to medium and stir in the bak choi. Then, turn off the burner and mix everything together. Plate and serve!

Notes:

Obviously, nearly any meat will work with this recipe.

Pablano peppers are really mild, this is not a spicy dish…

If using mock duck, marinate for no more than 5 minutes. Add the liquid marinade to the onions and let it thicken a little, before adding the mock duck to the fry pan.

Running short on time? Skip the marinating part, simply put the liquids and peppers in the pan when You go to cook the meat. It will still taste great, but the meat won’t be quite as flavorful.

Most varieties of eggplant will cook VERY fast and fall apart, becoming mush. Which is why I suggest Kamo eggplants, which hold their texture very well compared to every other variety. If using another kind of eggplant, You must pay close attention to the texture, once You can dent it with Your finger, remove from the pan immediately. Some eggplants are very moist inside, laying them on a dry towel or napkin after slicing(before cooking) can dry them a bit and thus help keep them from disintegrating as You cook.

You can use the bak choi stems if You like. Chop them up like onions and fry until tender after You cook the eggplant.

Cooking each ingredient separately helps mix up the flavors that hit Your tongue. You can indeed cook the carrots and onions together, then add the eggplant and meat. Stir frying till everything is done, but You end up with a more uniform flavor, which is good, but lacks the depth of each ingredient. You also have more control over the texture of each thing when cooking them solo…

I admit to using too much bacon fat in making this one. You may have noticed by the glossy nature in the photo… It was delicious though!

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Cooking in the Twilight Hours

Cooking in the Twilight Hours © Andor

I often find Myself cooking between two and four in the morning. Not sure why, but this is when the proliferation of stir-fried creations tends to happen. In this case, a very simple set of ingredients lead to yet another delicious meal. Chicken in a salty caramel sauce, lightly fried veggies, caramelized onions and peppercorn rice. The chicken is a bit of a rip on a Vietnamese style Ga Kho, or as most of us call it, hot and spicy chicken. I simply omitted the fish sauce, lemongrass and ginger instead using seasoned salt. The rice was quite nice. It’s subtle, like sushi rice, until You bite on a peppercorn. If You use white pepper, it will be quite spicy. Other varieties emit a mild peppery flavor, but most of the bite dissipates while cooking. The onions took Me three hours to get to that amazingly sweet, gooey texture. If You skip that part however, this meal can be prepared and cooked in thirty to fourty-five minutes. Even faster if You make the chicken in one pan and the veggies in another.

For starters, chop up 2 medium to large onions and cook over low heat until caramalized and set aside. Don’t worry if it looks like a lot when You start, they will be dramatically reduced as You cook. This can take hours, but it is so worth it.

In Your rice cooker, or pot, add 1 cup of rice and 1 tbsp whole peppercorns, mix until the pepper is evenly dispersed. Then add 1.5 cups of water and 1 tsp of rice vinegar. Mix thoroughly and cook until the rice has reached Your desired texture.

While the rice is cooking, thinly slice a medium sized carrot and fry over medium heat to Your liking and remove from the pan. Then, stir fry 1 cup of brocolli with 1 cloves worth of minced garlic and a splash of soy sauce. Once finished, remove from the pan and wipe it clean.

Now, over high heat, stir fry 2 chopped up chicken thighs with 1 tsp rice vinegar, half a tbsp of lowry’s seasoned salt and 2 tbsp(or more!) of brown sugar. Cook until You have a thick brown caramel glaze and You are done. Enjoy!

 


Andor’s Traditional Ribs!

Andor's Traditional Ribs (2)

Yes! This is it! The ribs I served for several years at gatherings of many varieties. This is a time consuming recipe, but it’s actually quite simple and pretty easy to accomplish.  The seasoning is a pairing of sauce, dried herbs and spice blends that are available at most big box grocery stores. If You have eaten My ribs in the past, You were very likely devouring the following recipe..

Andor's Traditional Ribs (1)

With that said, this is slow cooking! It’s very simple, but since You are cooking at low temperatures, it takes a while. Barbecue is different from grilling in that You tend to use indirect heat. Many hours will pass by once the actual cooking commences and every 20 or 30 minutes, You’ll be adding wood to the coals, flipping racks and spreading thin layers of sauce! One must have the dedication to give 4 to 8 hours of loving to Your ribs for them to acheive that highly desirable, fall off the bone texture. As such, I have divided this up into two recipes that have the same seasoning arrangement. ‘The Way of the Food Junky’ delivers the afore stated texture, as well as that lovely smokey flavor. Taking 5 to 8 hours depending on the temperature in Your smoker/grill and the thickness of the meat being used. ‘The Slacker’s Attempt’ is done at higher temperature in the oven, which means it cooks through in 3 or 4 hours, but brings forth tougher meat. Both do taste quite good of course!!

Ingredients(listed per 1 rack of pork spare ribs with the cartilage tips not trimmed):

1.5 tbsp – Garlic Granules
3 tbsp – Chili Powder Blend(the kind for making chili!)
3 tbsp – Ms. Dash Lemon Pepper Blend(or 2 tbsp of regular lemon pepper)
2 tbsp – Dried Thyme Leaves
2 or 3 tbsp – Dried Terragon Leaves
2 tbsp – Freshly Ground Peppercorns(the multi colored peppercorn blends will add a lot more depth than just black pepper)
Salt to taste, although, I’ve rarely ever salted this recipe…
3/4 of a cup or so of BBQ Sauce, We all have our favorites, or hate the stuff. This recipe is based on the thick midwestern, tomato based sauces. I use Ken davis, which is from Minnesota and Sweet Baby Ray’s, which I beleive is from Illinois.

The Way of the Food Junky: The First Method

Supplies Needed:

Baking sheet with raised edges that is large enough to hold Your rack of ribs. A Very sharp knife for slicing. A brush, fork or spoon for spreading sauce. Smoker or large grill(You don’t want your ribs near the coals). with enough of a tasty hardwood(cherry and hickory are My main choices) or charcoal(1 to 1.5 standard bags), to keep a decent temperature for 6+ hours. If You are using charcoal, You shall also require chips/chunks of one of the afore stated woods, along with a large bowl or 1 gallon bucket, with water high enough to cover the wood chips.

Prep:

Get Your smoker or grill started. I tend to start large in My modest smoking pit. If using a regular grill however, You’ll be needing a very small pile of coals. The desired temperature is about 260F, starting a little hotter than that won’t hurt at all. I would avoid going over 300F for any period of time when Your cooking. While the fire burns out and becomes coals to cook with, You’ll be seasoning Your meat.

On Your baking sheet, lay the ribs in-side up(the bones should be curved like a shallow bowl). Evenly spread half of everything EXCEPT the sauce across the ribs, press or pat them in a bit, so the herbs don’t just fall off and flip the rack over. Spread the remaining herbs and spices over the top side of the ribs and press them in a bit as well.

Once You’ve got coals instead of flames, it’s time to get smokin’

Cooking:

If using a smoking pit, simply place Your ribs on the rack and close the lid. For charcoal users, You’ll need to soak the wood chips in water for an hour or so before use. Add wood/charcoal to the coals as needed to maintain the desired temperature of 260F or so. When adding to the coals, it’s best to spread them out a bit and put the fresh stuff centered on top. This will get the new stuff burning and formed into coals the fastest, as well as add a perch for the wet wood chips, thus protecting the coals. Some put the chips in foil, I just lay it on the top in a fist sized lump. Every 20-30 minutes, You’ll need to add another fist-full of wet wood chips to the top of the coals, so as to keep the smoke billowing out.

Continue this cycle: flipping the ribs before adding more charcoal and wood chips, every half hour or so until the meat seems fully cooked, but not yet tender. On a hot summer day, this can be done in about 4 hours, however, on a cool spring or fall morning, it will likely take 6 or more hours to get it cooked through. Then, You want to start brushing on the sauce in thin layers, while continuing the flipping and adding to the coals cycle, adding sauce every time You flip the ribs. Keep it up until You can wiggle the bones away from the meat. Remove from the grill and let the rack rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

The Slacker’s Attempt: The Second, Shorter Method

Supplies Needed:

A baking sheet with raised edges and a sharp knife for slicing. An oven safe bowl with 1 or 2 cups of red wine or sherry and an equal amount of water. A brush, fork or spoon for spreading sauce.

Prep: Preheat Your oven to 400F. Season the ribs as described in the prep section above.

Cooking:

Put the bowl containing the watered down wine on to the bottom rack of the oven. Place the pan laden with ribs middle rack of the oven and immediately lower the tempurature from 400 to 300. Bake for an hour and start flipping them every 30-45 minutes for an additional 2.5 hours. The meat should be just about cooked to the bone at this point. If it doesn’t feel cooked, then let it bake a while longer. Sauce the bottom of the ribs first, then flip and sauce the top side. Place the ribs back in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes:

All cooking times will vary depending on the tempurature, thickness of meat and bones, etc…

On a regular grill, such as a Weber, You’ll want to shove the coals off to one side and place the meat on the rack as far away from the heat as possible. If You can’t manage to cook without burning the edges, You may want to consider starting the ribs on the grill. Using very little charcoal, but a lot of wood in a short period of time, say 45 minutes to an hour. Then place the ribs in the oven at 260F to actually cook them. This will give You a nice smokey essense and reasonable control over the texture of the meat. This is also the best method for those who live in the north. Trying to smoke food in temperatures under 20F tends to give a more jerky-like texture. As well as force You to use 3 or 4 times the amount of charcoal.

I use to peel the membrane off of the under-side of the ribs, but in the last couple years, I have swayed away from this. Leaving it in place does reduce the thickness of the smoke line(the red’ish color in the outer sections) in the meat and thus decreases the smokey flavor slightly, but it makes it a little easier to control the texture by holding in more moisture. It’s a preference thing that I don’t think makes much of a difference.

Using the ‘Slacker’s Method’ You can also achieve that succulent, fall off the bone texture. Instead of cooking at 300, lower the temperature to 260 and add an hour or two to the cooking time.

This recipe is actually pretty tasty without the sauce, so long as You don’t burn the spices and herbs during cooking. This will make it a bit bitter. It’s better to use fresh herbs if You’re going this route though.

The Charcoal quantities listed are for use with My pit smoker which has a 15×18 inch burning chamber and a 15×30 inch cooking area. You’ll use less with a normal grill.Andor's Smoker in Action © Andor Blogs


Spicy Garlic Chicken and Broccoli

Spicy Garlic Chicken and Broccoli © Andor

My cooking style has always been to throw a bunch of things I like together, then hope it’s delicious… That’s how I made this one 5 or 6 years ago. I’m not sure how I lost this recipe, which was the most popular on My old site. I recently found it on an antiquated external hard drive that I haven’t been using, so here We go. One of the great many flavor combinations I’ve stumbled upon over the years. A good blend of savory, sour and sweet, followed by a round of  heat! As with all Stir Fries, this is straight forward, fast and quite easy to make! Matched with a side of bread, noodles, or rice, this serves about 4 people.

Supplies Needed: A Wok or High Sided Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board. As well as a Large Bowl, Pot, or Pan to shuffle the cooked veggies onto while the meat cooks.

Ingredients:

2 or so lbs of Boneless Chicken, chopped
1 Bag of frozen Broccoli, thawed
6 to 8 large Garlic cloves, minced
1 Habanero Pepper, de-seeded and minced
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, finely chopped
3 tbsp of Rice Vinegar
2 or 3  tbsp Soy Sauce
1 and a half  tbsp of Lemon Juice
3-4 tbsp of Hoisin Sauce
1 tbsp Mild Chili Powder
1 tsp of Terragon flakes
half a tsp of Turmeric
2 tbsp of freshly crushed Black Pepper
1 tbsp of Sugar(optional)
and 1 or 2 tbsp of veggie/canola/peanut oil.

Prep and Cooking:

Using med-high heat, put half the oil in the pan and start frying the Carrots, once they’ve started to cook a bit, add the Onions, Turmeric, half the Pepper and a third of the Garlic, stir fry til the Carrots and Onions are about half way done, add the thawed bag of Broccoli. Stir fry until all 3 ingredients are done, then remove from the pan. You don’t need to clean the pan either.

Set burner to high heat. Pour the rest of the oil into the pan, adding the Chicken, Habanero and remaining Garlic. Stir it up a bit and add the Sugar and liquid ingredients. Stir it again and add the remaining seasonings. Stir fry until the meat is cooked through, turn off the burner. Put the veggies back into the pan with the meat and mix everything thoroughly. Enjoy!

Notes:

If You’re using fresh Broccoli, simply steam it and mix into the pan at the end…

Some stove tops will have high enough heat to make the liquids sauce down, which is good. Others will have liquid in the bottom when the chicken is done cooking, that’s fine too! It still tastes great! Just use bread, noodles or rice to soak it up!

Obviously, this works just fine without the Habanero Pepper, for those who can’t handle the burn.


Fruit Stuffed Tenderloin

 

A sweet and savory meat dish. It’s a recipe I stumbled upon while sifting through a stack of old family cook books a couple years ago. No idea why I didn’t attempt to make it sooner. Far more delicious than I anticipated after reading the ingredient list. If you use the right amount of apple juice in the roasting pan, you end up with 2 sweet sauces to accompany your meal. I drizzled the apple/dripping sauce atop some spinach and cooked down the last of the basting sauce to use for dipping. Loins cooked in this fashion would go well with some wild rice and steamed, buttered asparagus, or brussel sprouts, or as pictured, with fresh greens. Serves 8 to 12 depending on the size of your tenderloin.

Supplies Needed: Sauce Pan, Roasting Pan or Baking Sheet with high sides, Mixing Bowl, Cook’s String, and a Large Sheet or cutting board for prep. If Your tenderloin did not come in a vacuum sealed, leak-proof packaging, You shall also need something large enough to soak the meat in.

Ingredients:

1 Pork Tenderloin
1 Large Onion, chopped
3/4 of a cup of Bread Crumbs
half a cup of Dried Cranberries
half a cup of Dried Apricots, chopped
half a cup of Golden Raisins
half a cup of Apricot Preserves
1 cup of Apple Juice, possibly more.
1.5 cups of Port Wine
2 tbsp of Thyme
1 tsp or so of Cinnamon
1 cup of water
2 tsp or so of sea salt
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep and Cooking:

First, mix a cup of the port wine, a cup of water and 2 teaspoons or so of sea salt. Mix until the salt has dissolved. Put Your tenderloin into the mixture and store in the fridge for at least 6 hours, rotating the meat as needed to get it soaking in from all sides.

In a mixing bowl, combine the onions, bread crumbs, dried fruit and a quarter cup of the port. Next, You must butterfly the tenderloin. Lay it out length-wise on a sheet or cutting board and slice down the side, half way up like a hot dog bun. Do try to make the top and bottom even in thickness, or it will cook un-evenly. After it’s cut open, salt and pepper all sides to Your liking. Lay it with the inside facing up and rub/sprinkle on the thyme and cinnamon, then spread the dried fruit and bread crumb mixture evenly over the meat, fold the tenderloin back up and tie it shut. Pre-heat Your oven to 350 degrees. Place the loin in the roasting pan, pouring the apple juice into the bottom of the pan. Roast for 35 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, bring the preserves and remaining port(1/4c) to a boil, stir until it starts to thicken up a bit. I started this sauce 25 minutes into the roasting on medium-low heat and it was a nice semi-thickened sauce, perfect for basting when I checked the loin at 35 minutes. Use this sauce to spread upon the tenderloin. You will want 3 to 5 layers for a nice sweet glaze. Continue to roast, basting every 5-10 minutes until the tenderloin is cooked fully, a meat thermometer should read at 160 degrees(F) or more. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes, slice and serve!

Notes:

This recipe is very sweet. The dried fruit and the port have a fair amount of sweetness to them, then You add the apricot preserves into the mix as well. If You can aquire some ‘less sugar added’ preserves, I would do so.

If You’re buying a tenderloin that comes in vacuum sealed plastic, You can make the brine/marinade with half of the quantity listed above. Cut a slit at one end of the packaging, drain the extra liquids and pour in the salted wine marinade, tying the end shut again with string, or twist ties. This is the most effective method for spreading the flavor, as well as using the least amount of wine/water/salt. On the other hand, those buying from a butcher, hunter or farmer will likely have to use a large bowl or cooking pot/pan of some variety. Which will require much more of the marinade to be made. If You have a ‘food saver’ or vacuum sealer, this might be a nice time to get some use out of it..


Almond Chicken Curry

I’ve seen many recipes similar to this. It’s very close to more Thai styled peanut-based curries, found in many restaraunts here in America. Since I usually make that asian style curry with potatoes and spinach, the aging bak choy in My fridge turned out to be the perfect candidate to accompany this simple almond curry, which is seasoned with more of an Indian style. I ended up making a first attempt on a 4am cooking excursion. Frying up some bacon, to grease the pan and to have something to nibble on as I cooked, I rounded off the meal with a pack of strained ramen noodles. Don’t ask Me why I used two habanero peppers, it was some pretty fiery stuff, but it was quite delicious! I’ll be having future goes at this one for sure.. Prep and cooking took Me 45 minutes, including frying the bacon and greens separately, the curry it’s self should take an average home cook half an hour or so. When paired with veggies and rice, noodles, or bread, this recipe serves about 4 people.

Supplies Needed:

A Wok, or high sided Fry Pan, Blender, or something(magic bullet, mincer, large hammer?) to turn the nuts to sand sized particles or smaller, Knife and Cuttung Board.

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of thinly sliced Chicken Thighs
1 Onion, chopped up as You like
30 Almonds, mashed, minced, or otherwise turned as close to a paste-like texture as possible
3 large Garlic Cloves, minced
Fresh Ginger, a piece about the diameter of a quarter, 2 to 3 inches long, minced
1-2 tbsp of Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Mild Chili Powder
1 tsp or so, Garam Masala spice blend
1 Bay Leaf
a pinch of Dried Terragon bits
half, to 1 cup of Water
a bit of Cooking Oil

To Cook:

Over medium heat, saute the bay leaf and garlic in a bit of cooking oil. Once the leaf starts to brown, add the ginger and chili powder. Stir for a few seconds and pour in the water. Adjust the burner to medium high, to high heat. Once this begins to boil, add the meat, onion, soy sauce, almond mash and half the masala blend, stirring frequently. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the remaining masala and the terragon. Cook until the liquids have become a nice thick sauce, discard the bay leaf, remove from heat and enjoy.

Notes:

If You cut the chicken into pieces more than a quarter inch thick, You will want to cook the meat half way before starting the above process. Slicing semi-frozen, boneless thighs makes it pretty easy to get nice thin slices.

If You do not have access to some Garam Masala, try adding 4 or so cloves and a 1-2 inch chunk of a cinnamon stick at the same time as the bay leaf. Removing them as the sauce starts to thicken.

If You so desred, You can soak the almonds in warm water for half an hour or more and peel the skin off of them. I just leave it on and toss the nuts into the food processor.. Also, if You are using chunks of almonds, You may want to soak them for a while before cooking, or at least put them in at the same time as the water, to soften them up a little.

A carrot or two adds a lot to this dish! Spinach, greens and broccoli match up quite nicely as well. Turmeric is also a great addition. Try a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest, or some minced lemongrass in place of the ginger. I find that a nice spicy chili, such as Thai Dragon, or Habanero, rounds this out very nicely. When adding such heat though, I admit to adding about a teaspoon of sugar, or 2 teaspoons of honey as well.


Marinated Pork with Peas

This is a particularly versatile flavor combination. Over the years, I have used it on cuts of pork from ribs, to tenderloin. I have also used it for marinating whole chickens prior to smoking them, as well as chicken stir fries and with veggie and shrimp dishes. It’s always a hit! The bitter punch of the time tested ginger/lemongrass match up, balanced by savory, salty and sweet elements, creates a lovely experience which is sure to satisfy the taste buds of all who consume it. Having done no research, I just assume this marinade was devised in China. It is pretty close to many common ‘bbq’ and ‘Sweet and Sour’ pork recipes found in south-east asia. I’m listing it as a stir-fry recipe, but the marinade is suited to nearly any cooking method one may choose. Eat this recipe with rice, or try serving it over a baked potato! Serves 4.

Supplies Needed: Large Ziplock bag or Bowl for marinating, Wok or Large Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of pork tenderloin, or de-boned chops, sliced into thin strips
1 large onion, chopped to Your liking
Half a bag or more of frozen sugar snap peas
3 tbsp of fresh ginger root, minced
2 tbsp of garlic, minced
6 inches or so of fresh lemongrass, at least half an inch thick, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
4 tbsp of cooking sherry
2-3 tbsp of soy sauce
1-2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp mild chili pepper powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Prep and Cooking:

Mix all but the peas and onion together in a resealable bag, or large mixing bowl. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes, allowing it to marinate over night will deliver the best flavor. Heat Your pan on high and put ALL the ingredients in. Stir fry until the meat and onion are cooked and the liquids thicken up into a sauce. Remove from heat, discard the lemongrass chunks and serve.

Notes:

Don’t worry if You can’t get high enough heat to thicken the sauce in the time it takes for the other ingredients to cook. Just soak it up with some rice or bread, or remove everything else from the pan and cook the sauce til it’s thickened then mix everything back together.

Hot chili sauce is a great replacement for ketchup in this recipe too.