May 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Sweet & Savory Pork Roast with 'Gumes & Roots!

My fabulous husband got me a super-duper fantastic slow cooker!! Now, the reason for my excitement is that until last year, no one in Norway even knew what the Hell I was talking about when I asked about slow cookers or crock pots. This is something very new to Norway.

As an American, crock pots have been a part of our lives for decades. They were the "go to" way of cooking for working folk or if you wanted to slowly cook meats, beans, chickens, hens and such. Now that I have one here in Langevåg, life will never be the same. In a good way.

Cheaper cuts of meat or fattier meats will tend to benefit the most from slow cooking. The long low cooking process tenderizes the meat and the more fat content, the juicier the meat.

I had this lovely center cut pork roast just waiting to find a home in my cooker. Last night I seasoned it up:

Pork Roast Prep

1kg center cut pork roast
6 cloves garlic
2 tbsps molasses syrup
crushed red pepper
2 tsps cumin powder
Creole Seasoning, to taste (optional)
1 tbsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp balsamic creme
1 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, large slices
2 large carrots, large slices
1 small leek, sliced, washed

Cut pockets into your roast so that the garlic tucks deeply inside without peeking out. You don't want it burning or slipping out while you're searing it.

Cover it with all of the spices, herbs, molasses syrup, balsamic creme and oil. Let it rest for 1 hour.

After the roast rests for an hour, cover it with the sliced veggies, cover it well and put into the refrigerator over night or for at least 8 hours.

Most people think when you slow cook it's all about throwing everything into a pot, setting it and not having to think about it until it's time to eat. Some slow cooker recipes are like that, this is not one of those. It's going to be some work involved here.

Remove the roast from it's little nest under the veggies. It's going to smell like heaven!

To ensure a lovely, juicy roast I like to sear the meat. I heat a skillet with a touch of oil on high heat. When it's nice and hot, sear the meat on all side for a couple of minutes to get a nice brown crust.

My slow cooker has a stainless steel rack, if your's doesn't, it's okay you can make a little riser for the roast with your veggies. I place half the veggies on and under the rack, the roast on top and then the rest of the veggies on top of the roast.

Set the cooker to medium and set a timer for 5 1/2 hours. Now onto my side dishes!!

You may be wondering what 'Gumes & Roots is all about. 'Gumes is my short word for Legumes or beans and their relatives. Roots are root vegetables of which there are many. The legumes I'm using are white beans and dark red kidney beans. I soaked them over night so they were ready to cook today.

My roots are sweet potato, new potatoes and carrots.

'Gumes & Roots

1/2 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight
1 cup dried dark red beans, soaked overnight
1 small sweet potato, cubed
2 new potatoes, cubed
2 small carrots, cubed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tsps oregano
2 tsps basil
2 tsps thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp Spanish paprika powder
1/2 tbsp olive oil

In a saucepan, heat your oil and sautee onions, garlic, bell pepper and celery until your onion are slightly transparent. Add herbs, beans a cover with water, about 2-3 inches over the beans. Add spices and stir. Cover and simmer over medium low heat. I like them to cook for 4-4 1/2 hours, adding more water as needed. In the last 30 minutes of cooking add diced root veggies and cook until those are tender. They will also help to thicken the liquid in the beans. Adjust salt & pepper as needed.

Fuzzy is in charge of sharpening the knife and slicing this pretty roast. After it comes out of the cooker, I let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

I serve with steamed brown rice.


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May 21, 2014

Tortellini with Pork and Green Sauce

Hiya Folks!

I have a quick delicious meal for dinner that I made last night and my good friend and fabulous cook, Jennifer Rooney (featured along with her husband, David in Friendly Foods) asked me for the recipe. So, here ya have it!!

When you've been running about all day or just coming in from work and need to make a dish that's quick, easy and fantastic in your mouth, pasta is always a great choice.  I chose tortellini because my husband loves it and I can always find an interesting variety in the food boutiques here in our tiny town. I only use the kinds that I find in the refrigerated section of the store, I am not a fan of the dry packaged kinds. That's my personal preference. My 2 favorites are the mixed mushroom filled or 3 cheese filled. For this dish I used the 3 cheese filled.


500g package (serves 4-6)
prepare to package instructions
Tortellini will break up and become total chaos if over cooked.

Once it's cooked, I drain the pasta and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil so that is does not get sticky. Don't drown it in oil or you'll have an oily, sloppy mess when you add your sauce.

Pork and Green Sauce

400g pork, thinly sliced
3 sprigs green onion, finely sliced
2 cups spinach, finely chopped
1 tbsp basil pesto (prepared or homemade, it's up to you!)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, don't use canned peas. They get squishy.
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
6 shitake mushrooms, finely sliced
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsps freshly grated Parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. When the oil is nice and hot, add pork strips and sautee until most of the "pink" is gone but not completely cooked. Thin pork strips cook quickly and over cooking will make it tough and no fun to eat.

Reduce the heat to medium, add spices, chopped veggies, mushrooms and frozen peas. Sautee until the peas are warmed through. Add pesto and Parmesan cheese. once the pesto and cheese have come together with your other ingredients, turn off the heat. Add your cooked tortellini and gently mix together. Don't mix it roughly or you'll break up the pasta. It will still taste good, of course, but will look like a gelatinous mess!

This is a great meal, even for a dinner party with friends. The lovely shades of green with specks of red from the bell pepper make for a beautiful presentation.


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