Collards & Bacon call it what you want!
The inspiration for this recipe comes from an article in Sunset magazine a while back on Tim Luym, former chef at Poleng (aka my backyard). He called it bacon and kale adobo; I say, call it what you want. Either way, it’s delicious. My version is made with collard greens and adds a few additional ingredients to make it into a main dish. I usually serve it with brown rice, but this could easily be a very yummy side dish. Also very easily veganized: just replace the bacon with some tempeh or smoked tofu and you’re done. It would require some additional fat though, and I would recommend using something with a smokey flavor.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add 6 oz diced bacon. Cook until done and almost crispy, about 6-8 minutes. When done remove to a dish and set aside. Keep about 5 tbsp of the bacon fat in the pan and discard the rest. Keep the heat at medium and add 1 small diced onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, and 2 bay leaves. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden. Add 2 bunches of washed and chopped collards, or one bag of pre-torn collard greens. Saute for a couple minutes, until all the leaves are covered in oil and slightly wilted. Then add the rest of the ingredients: 2-3 tbsp soy sauce, 2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 diced bird’s eye chiles (these are the small Thai red chiles that come frozen in a bag; they are my first choice, but if you don’t have them, a diced serrano or jalapeno would work too or even a few shakes of some crushed red pepper flakes), 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1 cup water, 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans, and half of the bacon that’s been waiting for you. Turn the heat down, cover the pot and simmer for one hour. Keep an eye on it occasionally and make sure it’s not drying out. If the pan looks dry, add some more water, more soy sauce, or more vinegar to your liking.
After about an hour, the collards are soft and awesome and your meal awaits!
People, it is zucchini season. This fact lead me to have an abundance of zucchini in my fridge that needed to transform itself into meals as soon as possible. What to do with too much zucchini? Make zucchini bread of course! The only thing holding me back was grating it, but actually, zucchini is the perfect consistency for grating; kind of fun when you get into it. Anyways, enough of that, on to the recipe!
This one comes to us from the wonderful/awful Silver Palate Cookbook. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Silver Palate is a loving, spiteful, but most of all complicated mistress. It can be difficult to make her recipes come through, but when they do, they do not disappoint. Oh man, this bread is so good. As you can see, I had to hurry up and take a photo before I gobbled up the rest of the bread. This one is also definitely an “easy” on their scale of difficulty.
- some butter for greasing the pan
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
- 2.5 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a standard loaf pan. Sift the dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until “light and thick.” Light and thick required a bit too much mixing for my little hand mixer to handle. Instead my batter got to somewhat thick but still quite runny. Either way the bread ended up tasting fine. Add the zucchini to the mixture. Stir in the dry ingredients until just blended. Add the walnuts if you’re using them. (I didn’t use walnuts only because I didn’t have them in the house. I’m sure this bread would be even more delicious with them added.) Pour the batter into the buttered loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Cool slightly and then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.
This bread keeps very well for about one week. I’ve been just storing it in a ziploc bag and it still tastes great. Especially good slathered in your buttery spread of choice.
This dish sure does look a mess, but it really doesn’t matter. This magical deliciousness covered in melted cheese will be your new favorite dish, and it can feed a crowd! (Or you and one other person.) This can easily be made into more proper enchiladas, but this is the lazy version. Everything falls apart on your plate anyways, so why not have it start that way? This version is made with chicken, refried beans, and green enchilada sauce, but feel free to take this in any direction.
Put one 14.5 ounce can of your favorite refried beans into a small saucepan. Add some water (about half a can), some garlic salt, cumin, oregano, and a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes. Stir all together and simmer over med-low heat. They should be slightly soupy.
While the beans are cooking, dice one chicken breast (or whatever meat/non-meat you want to use) and heat some olive oil in a skillet. Saute the chicken until it is browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate.
In the same skillet, heat some more olive oil. When hot, add some sliced onion, red or green peppers, and a couple cloves of minced garlic. Saute over medium heat until done to your liking. You could easily just make more veggies and skip the meat. I have also made this with fresh spinach and zucchini and it was very delicious.
Assembly: Heat the oven to 350 degrees; lightly grease a 9x13 glass dish with some vegetable oil. Now you can get creative. I usually layer some corn tortillas so that they cover the bottom, then a start with a layer of beans, then some of my grilled veggies, then some diced green chiles from a can, then some chicken, then some cheese. I use Trader Joe’s jalapeno yogurt cheese, but use whatever you like/have around the house. Be generous with the cheese; I usually use at least one pack (which I think is 12 or 16 ounces). Top this off with another layer of tortillas. Open up a can of green enchilada sauce and pour enough on top of everything you’ve assembled until it’s all quite saucy. Repeat this process until you’ve got a couple layers and you’ve used up all the ingredients lying around or you run out of space in the pan, whichever comes first. Be sure to finish it off with cheese on top, and then pour as much of the remaining enchilada sauce on top as well.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top looks kind of crispy and everything is bubbly. Eat as much as you can and then slowly descend into a food coma of bliss.
Product shout out: Onion Goggles!
If you’re like me and chopping onions turns you into a teary, sniveling mess, purchase these onion goggles immediately, if not sooner! They work incredibly well. The onion smell hits your nose, but then, miraculously, nothing happens! You just keep chopping in a goggled state of bliss. Plus, you get to look super stylish while you cook. This is the best new piece of equipment my kitchen has seen in quite a while.
Slowcooker meatballs in tomato-wine sauce
I thought I would finish up my little ode to the slow cooker with other favorite recipe from the Not your Mother’s…cookbook. This fairly basic meatballs and tomato sauce recipe is really excellent in the slow cooker. The meatballs are browned before hand, but allowed to cook for a good long time in the crock pot until they are ridiculously flavorful. This recipe only takes about 5-6 hours, which is short for slow cooker times. Therefore, I recommend this one for a weekend afternoon.
The sauce works with any kind of pasta, gnocchi, or polenta (it’s pictured above with polenta). Don’t be fooled by the long list of ingredients, this is really quite easy to throw everything together. If you skip the meatballs, it’s super easy.
For the sauce: heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 large chopped onion and 3 minced cloves of garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add 3/4 cup dry red wine, bring to a boil, and continue boiling for about 1-2 minutes. Scrape up anything stuck to the pan. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Add a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes (don’t drain), 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp dried basil (or 1 tbsp fresh), 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1 bay leaf, and 2 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley. Stir to combine, cover, and cook on HIGH while you make the meatballs.
To make the meatballs, combine 1.5 pounds ground turkey, 1 cup plain bread crumbs, 2 eggs, 3 tbsp fresh grated parmesan, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 cup fresh minced flat-leaf parsley, dash of ground allspice in a large bowl. Mix everything with your hands. Make sure all ingredients are blended, but try not to pack everything together. Gently shape into about 12-15 meatballs (they should be the size of golf balls).
Heat another tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total for each one. You might need to do this in batches. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce once they’re ready. Add another 1/4 cup red wine to the pan; cook over high heat for 1-2 minutes, scrape up anything left in the pan. Pour the mixture over the meatballs, make sure the meatballs are covered by the tomato sauce and everything is gently mixed together. Cover and turn the heat to LOW. Cook for 5-6 hours on low. Remove the bay leaf before eating and enjoy!
Addition: If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll sautee 1/2 pound of sliced button mushrooms when there’s about 2 or 3 hours left of cooking time and add them to the sauce.
Slow cooker pork with peanut sauce
Continuing with the slow cooker theme, here is one of my favorite recipes from the Not Your Mother’s cookbook mentioned last time. This method of cooking pork is super easy and versatile and delicious. The slow cooker has the wonderful effect of making everything get tender and just sort of fall apart. This recipe can be taken in any direction or made with any sauce you like.
- a 1-2 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of any visible fat
- 1 or 2 sliced red bell peppers
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce (bottled or make your own with soy sauce, fresh or ground ginger, a little sugar, and dash of sesame oil)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
Cut the pork into three or four pieces. Put everything else (except the peanut butter) into the slow cooker; cover and cook on Low for 8 to 9 hours. The pork should be fork tender. Remove the pork to a plate and add the peanut butter to the sauce. Stir until the peanut butter has dissolved into the sauce. Return the pork to the slow cooker toss to coat the meat evenly. Garnish with scallions, lime wedges, or extra peanuts if you want to be fancy.