Friday, May 28, 2010

Three-Bean Salad

Hello!  I’m back!  Wow it has been a crazy couple of weeks (fun, but crazy).  We’ve had Mother’s day, my wedding anniversary, and my birthday in the last couple of weeks.  Throw in my daughter performing in a youth theater production and my son’s school’s Festival, and I’ve hardly had time to eat much less cook.  We’ve had too much take-out, and when I have cooked, it’s been simple pasta dishes.  I did make dinner a few times this week, so I’m hoping to change the trend.

Oh, and along with everything else, I’ve recently acquired a stalker.  I know.  Nice, huh?  My friends warned me this might happen once I started blogging, but I pooh-poohed them.  Who would stalk me?   Beach Ball Bill, that’s who. 

My daughter brought home Beach Ball Bill from the Festival, and almost immediately he became my stalker.  He peers around the corner when I’m cooking.  He will suddenly appear on my dresser when I’m in my room folding laundry.   Every time I turn around he is there.  The kids think it’s funny, but when he peers at me with his beady eyes, I’m a little freaked out.  I can only hope he will spring a leak soon!

What are you doing for Memorial Day?  If you are having a barbeque, you should make this simple Three-Bean Salad.  I know what you’re thinking, “Three-Bean Salad?  Really?”  This Three-Bean Salad is fresh and refreshing.  The tarragon is a great addition to an old recipe, and using haricot vert instead of canned green beans really makes this salad special.  I loved the tarragon in the salad, but not everyone likes tarragon (including my daughter and son), so if you or someone you’re cooking for doesn’t like tarragon, then I recommend you use thyme instead.

Three-Bean Salad
Printable Recipe
3 tablespoons olive oil
The juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
1 14 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb haricot vert (French green beans)

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.  Stir in the shallots and tarragon.  In another small bowl mix together the garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and the vinaigrette, set aside.

In a large steamer set over boiling water, steam the haricot vert until crisp tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Immediately immerse the cooked beans into ice water to cool.  Drain the beans and pat dry with a paper towel.  Layer the haricot vert on a platter and top with the kidney bean mixture.  Serve.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pork Tinga Tostadas

I couldn’t let Cinco de Mayo go by with out posting a Mexican food recipe.  We are big fans of Mexican food in my family.  We are also big fans of carnitas, so I had reservations while I was making Pork Tinga from Cook’s Illustrated.  Would Les and I like it?  Would the kids eat it?  I was especially worried while I was pouring the tomato sauce into the pork mixture.  I was worried it would taste like pasta sauce or chili.  I had misgivings up until the time I tasted the pork mixture.  I love the flavor of Pork Tinga.  The tomato sauce doesn’t make the pork taste like pasta sauce.  No, the flavor is rich and spicy.  The filling would be fantastic in enchiladas and tamales as well as the tostadas.   Pork Tinga will probably replace carnitas in this family.

I unintentionally adapted the recipe by adding 2 tablespoons of chipotle powder instead of one.  Les and I loved the spiciness of the 2 tablespoons of chipotle powder.  The kids even liked the spicy pork even though they went through a half-gallon of milk!  You can decide the amount of spice you would like in your Pork Tinga by decreasing the chipotle powder.

Pork Tinga Tostadas
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Printable Recipe
2 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, cut one into quarters, and chop one fine
5 medium garlic cloves, 3 cloves peeled and smashed, and 2 minced
4 sprigs of thyme
Table salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 14.5-ounce can tomatoe sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder
2 bay leaves (optional)

Tostada shells
Refried beans
Queso fresco
Fresh cilantro
Chopped avocado

Place the pork, quartered onion, the 3 smashed garlic cloves, thyme and 1 teaspoon salt in 6 cups of water.  Bring the pork to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam that accumulates on the top.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover, leaving a gap to let off steam, and simmer for 70 to 90 minutes, or until the pork is fork tender.  (The next time I make this, I will be placing the pork, onion etc. into a crockpot and cooking it for 8 to 10 hours).  Drain the pork, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and discard the onion, garlic and thyme.  Shred the pork by mashing it with a potato masher.  Cook’s Illustrated recommends this technique, and it works great!

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or 12-inch skillet, and add the shredded pork, chopped onion and dried oregano.  Cook, stirring often, until the pork is browned and crispy, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the chipotle powder to taste, reserved cooking liquid, tomato sauce and bay leaves.  Simmer until the liquid is almost evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove and discard the bay leaves, and add salt to taste.

Serve the pork tinga on the tostada shells with the refried beans, queso fresco, cilantro and avocado.


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