Roasted Jewel-Toned Beets

First beets from my garden, ready for roasting.  Varieties here are Red Sangria, Golden and Chioggia, grown from  Jewel-Toned Beets from Renee’s Garden. Candi the dog is waiting excitedly, as she knows the beet greens will go into her dog food!

To roast beets: Wash well and trim, leaving 1 inch of stem. Place in foil pouch, tightly seal, and roast at 425° for 45-60 minutes, until tender when pierced with fork. Cool, then slip off peels.

Super Bowl Fare – Slow Cooker Chile Verde

Chile Verde is a perfect slow cooker recipe, because the longer it simmers, the better the flavors. It doesn’t matter if your pork is boneless or bone-in. For variety, you can substitute chicken thighs or leg quarters for the pork.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pork shoulder roast (3 to 4 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups prepared salsa verde (we like Herdez brand)
1 chopped jalapeno pepper
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large frying over medium-high heat.
2. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of pork, then place pork in hot oil. Brown both sides, then remove from pan and place in slow cooker.
3. Add onions to pan and saute until just beginning to soften, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Pour onions into slow cooker.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro to the slow cooker, and cook on low for 6 hours.
5. At the end of cooking, the meat should be falling apart. Stir, taste and adjust seasoning.
6. Serve with warm corn tortillas and steamed rice.
7. Garnish with chopped cilantro

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Meat Stadium!

Having a big Super Bowl Party?  Perhaps a Meat Stadium is in order:

‘Tis the Season for Oranges

Tuscan Grilled Chicken with Orange and Rosemary

Make this quick and easy marinade in the morning and let the chicken marinate all day. Fire up the grill, put on some rice, toss a salad, and you have dinner in 30 minutes!

For the marinade:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or half as much dried)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 chicken, cut into halves or serving pieces

1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
2. Place chicken pieces in a plastic zip bag and pour marinade over. Smush it around a bit to coat all the pieces. Let marinate, refrigerated, for 2 to 8 hours.
3. Preheat gas or charcoal grill and grill chicken for 20-25 minutes, turning twice during cooking (Grill temperatures vary, so take care not to burn chicken. You want a deep brown glaze to form.)
4. Remove to serving platter and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and orange slices, if desired.

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Coriander Crusted Scallops with Ginger-Orange Broth

After eating at Tampa’s excellent Restaurant BT, I could not stop thinking about the taste of ginger with chiles and citrus.  When I returned home, I made this dish, which satisfied my craving for those bright flavors.

You can make the broth and prep the vegetables well ahead of cooking the scallops, making this a perfect dish for entertaining, as the final cooking takes less than 10 minutes.  Serve with steamed jasmine rice and snap peas, which can be spooned right into the bowl to absorb some of the delicious broth. Barely steamed snap peas are a wonderful accompaniment.

½ cup chicken or vegetable stock½ cup orange juice
1 knob of ginger, about 1 inch by 1 inch, unpeeled
1 serrano pepper
1 large clove garlic
4 scallions
¾ pound sea scallops (about 10)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons sugar, preferably raw (turbinado)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use
1 teaspoon butter
¼ cup minced cilantro

1.    Pour stock and juice into small saucepan.
2.    Using knife, remove peel and any small side knobs from ginger.   You should end up with approximately 2 tablespoons of trimmings.  If not, add a small slice of ginger.  Toss these trimmings into stock/juice mixture.
3.    Remove stem end of Serrano chile and toss into stock.  Gently simmer stock for 20 minutes, then turn off heat and let rest for 1 hour. Strain, then set aside. You should have 1/3 to 1/2 cup of broth.
4.    While stock is simmering, prepare vegetables: using mandolin or knife, cut ginger into thin julienned strips.  Remove seeds and membrane from pepper, then slice into very thin strips, then cut to 1-inch lengths. Thinly slice garlic. Combine ginger, pepper strips and garlic in small bowl and set aside.
5.    Prepare scallions: Separate dark green ends from light bottoms.  Thinly slice white/light green ends crosswise and set aside.  Slice dark green parts into thin 1-inch long pieces and set aside.
6.    Sprinkle one side of scallops with salt and pepper. Turn over, repeat, then sprinkle ground coriander over scallops.  Sprinkle sugar over tops.
7.    Place large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and butter.  When butter stops foaming, place scallops, coriander side down, into pan, making sure not to crowd them. Cook for 4 minutes, or until deep golden.  Turn over, then cook for 1 minute more. Place in serving bowl or deep platter and keep warm.
8.    While scallops are browning, reheat broth in small pan or in microwave.
9.    After removing scallops from skillet, add remaining tablespoon of oil.  Add ginger/garlic mix and stir for 30 seconds.  Add light scallions pieces and stir 30 seconds more.  Remove from heat and add dark green scallion pieces and stir.
10.    Pour broth around scallops.  Top scallops with the ginger/scallion mixture, then sprinkle with cilantro.

Music in the kitchen – Pierre Bensusan, various cuts

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Carbonada in a Pumpkin

Seven Fires, Grilling the Argentine Way is an enticing collection of recipes from the famous South American chef Francis Mallmann. I have been browsing through it for the better part of a year, wondering what dish to make first.  The recipe for Una Vaca Entera, although fascinating, was just not going to happen. A partial list of the ingredients and equipment for that one:

1 medium cow, about 1400 pounds
1 heavy duty block-and-tackle attached to a steel stanchion set in concrete
2 cords hardwood logs!!

So, what to make? Pork Tenderloin with Orange Confit? Salt-Crust Chicken? As luck would have it, my garden gave me my cue – I had dozens of delicious moschato-type pumpkins that had voluntarily appeared, and Mallmann’s book had a recipe for Carbonada in a Pumpkin, a dish that is typically served in Argentina on July 9, its Independence Day, which happens to fall in the dead of winter in that hemisphere. I am not sure how out-of-season peaches and corn made their way into this stew, but they are phenomenal additions.

This dish did not bowl me over upon first tasting – it was good, but it lacked the wow-factor.  However, on day 2 it was sensational, so I have adapted the recipe to be made over one long day or two, so you can enjoy it at its best.

For the stew:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta cut into ½ inch dice
2 bay leaves
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 pound tender stewing beef, cut into ½ inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup finely chopped onion
½ teaspoon sugar
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 cup dry red wine
1 large red potato, cut into ½ inch dice
1 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
2/3 cup of chopped tomatoes with their juice (fresh or canned)
1 2/3 cup beef stock
1 ear of corn, husked and cut into 6 pieces
2 ripe peaches, pitted and quartered

Cooking the pumpkin:
1 medium pumpkin, approximately 4 pounds
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, smashed
6 black peppercorns
1/2 cup of beef broth

Garnish (optional):
2 tablespoons chopped green onions or parlsey

1.    In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add pancetta, 2 bay leaves, and rosemary and cook until the pancetta becomes translucent and renders it fat.
2.    Raise heat to high and add beef and 4 garlic cloves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then sauté until browned on all sides. Add the red wine vinegar and boil until liquid evaporates.
3.    Add onions, sugar and carrots, then pour in the red wine, bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked off.
4.    Add potato, sweet potato, tomatoes and beef stock and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Add corn and peaches, cover pan and simmer until meat and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and rosemary and season to taste.
5.    Let cool, then refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
6.    3 hours before serving, remove the stew from the refrigerator and prepare the pumpkin: Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice off the top and remove seeds from cavity, creating a large bowl. Sprinkle interior with salt and stand the bottom in a roasting pan.
7.    Place the 2 bay leaves, thyme sprigs, 2 garlic cloves and the peppercorns in the pumpkin, then pour in the ½ cup beef broth. Cover with pumpkin top and place in oven.
8.    Roast for approximately one hour, until pumpkin is tender (test with skewer or fork through the side). Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.
9.    Meanwhile, slowly heat the stew until bubbling.
10.    Empty out the pumpkin and set in upright in a deep platter (juices may leak, so you need a dish with sides). Spoon the stew into the pumpkin, sprinkle with garnish if desired, then place top on pumpkin and bring to the table.  Spoon into soup bowls, scooping a bit of the pumpkin flesh into each serving.

A nice rustic bread and an Argentinian wine, such as LaMadrid Bonarda or Norton Malbec Reserva, are the perfect accompaniments.

Music in the kitchen – Os Mutantes

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It is that wonderful time of year, when the garden is still producing tomatoes and peppers, but the evenings are cool enough to make indoor cooking enjoyable again.

Blessed with an abundance of delicious Carmello tomatoes and a basket of colorful mini bell peppers, my thoughts turn to Basque Chicken, a satisfying fusion of French technique with Spanish flavors. The tomatoes and peppers melt into a delicious sauce accented by the smoky Spanish paprika.

I serve this with rice and a simple salad, paired with a Rioja such as Marques de Riscal, which I find at my local Trader Joe’s.

Poulet Basquaise (Basque Chicken)

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or serrano ham, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 3 to 4 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups of chopped bell peppers, any color but green (quartered mini bells are perfect)
6 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups chopped tomatoes (can use one 15-ounce can diced tomatoes)
3 teaspoons Spanish (smoked) paprika, divided use
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1.    Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and sauté until browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.
2.      Sprinkle chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper.  Brown chicken in same pan until golden, about 5 minutes per side.  Work in batches so as to not crowd the pan.  Remove and set aside with pancetta.
3.    Add onions, peppers, and garlic to pan, and sauté over medium heat until peppers are soft.  Add tomatoes (with their juice), wine, 2 teaspoons paprika and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add back the chicken and the pancetta, then cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. The sauce should taste rich and melded.  Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired.
4.    Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon paprika over the chicken pieces.  Garnish with the chopped parsley.

Music in the kitchen – Groove Armada, Just for Tonight

BTW, my favorite Spanish paprika is Chiquilin Bittersweet Paprika, which is widely available in stores and online.Find this recipe, and hundreds more, at