Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gluten-free, Low-fat (ish?) Pork Loaf

I know way too many people who can't have gluten now, it's getting ridiculous. So I'm trying to revamp my already tried and true recipes so I can pawn some of my cooking off on my gluten-impaired friends and family. And ahh, it does feel good to be able to cook again! The entire summer, I've been bedhopping because my apartment is too hot to survive in. No really, 3rd floor + no air conditioning + Above 100 degree weather = death, so I've been couchsurfing since this awful weather began. It's no joke, they say more people die from heat than any other natural weather condition, including hurricanes and tornadoes. Just this summer alone so far, 22 people have died, including a 10 year old girl. In '95 a similar heatwave killed over 700 people. So by allowing me to crash for a day on their couch, my father, my best friend and my new semi-long distance lover have actually been saving my life. Cooking for them is the least I can do.

1 1/2 lbs of ground pork
1 Cup Rice Krispies, crushed. (Note: You may need a bit more)
1/4 cup All Whites (my new cholesterol-friendly alternative to eggs)
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp each: thyme, parsley, garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika and something special I picked up at Trader Joe's- South African Smoke seasoning. Oh yeah, it was totally worth the trip.
Okay, the smoke seasoning is optional. But really good!
If you don't care about gluten, you may use regular breadcrumbs either instead or in addition to the cereal.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.
In a large mixing bowl, mash all the ingredients together with your hands and form it into a loaf. Don't be shy, mash your love right into it- really get in there! You can always wash your hands later. Once it's in the pan and your hands are clean, sprinkle a bit more parsley over the top for color and bake at 350° F for about an hour. Oh, you probably want to put some water in the pan (or pam spray) to keep it from sticking.
Once it's done, let it rest for a few minutes out of the oven, then slice and enjoy!

Mmmm, this is South African Smoke seasoning. It tastes and smells so good, even if the grinder part of it really sucks. Get it anyway!!!

My raw loaf. I actually forgot to put the worcestershire sauce into the mix so I just poured it on top. Who's gonna notice? I could have remixed it, but as I've mentioned before, I'm LAZY.

Sadly, all the sauce did was color the water I put at the bottom so the loaf wouldn't burn. And wouldn't you know it, the loaf  burned anyway. Do as I say, not as I do. This actually wasn't done out of laziness for once; I was told it's not a good idea to check on your food that often. Every time you open the oven door, the temp inside decreases by 25°. This would be especially annoying while baking. While that may be true, some checking is required, or you can end up having to soak your baking dish. All I'm saying is, learn from my dumb ass.

 Another thing I got at Trader Joe's which went absolutely amazing with this dish... Goddess dressing! No really, it's like... soy and tahini sauce, and a bunch of other stuff and it's just freakin' delicious! Seriously, I used to look at people who shopped at Trader Joes and think they were a bunch of pretetious hipsters, but now I guess I'm one of them. *Le gasp!* This freakin' dressing makes it all worth it!!

Baked Flounder in Lemon Soy Vinaigrette

Imagine my surprise [read: shock and horror] when my local supermarket didn't have fish fillets in saran-wrapped trays anymore, only these prepackaged, vaccum-sealed things. WTF?? I really wanted fish, and it was only $1.50, so I tried it, and the neat little recipe on the back. All told they weren't bad, but they smelled ultra-fishy and they were ridiculously small. Plus, I don't take too well to change. I'm just weird like that. Although the hippy in me is happy they aren't using styrofoam anymore.

4 flounder fillets. Doesn't have to be prepackaged, just any fillets.
2 garlic cloves, diced (or 1 1/2 tsp of pre-minced garlic out of a jar. I'm lazy!)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used sushi & sashimi sauce which is really, really good)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Optional: thinly sliced lemon for garnish. I'm telling you that unless you're entertaining, it's not that serious.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. That may sound like a lot for fish, I thought so too. But it's okay, just do it.
Arrange the fillets in a ceramic or glass dish (they were specific about this for some reason) just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Frankly, I only have one pyrex dish and it's ginormous. They're lucky I didn't pop these little fuckers on a piece of tin foil and call it a day.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce sugar and salt and whisk in the oil until emulsified. I don't know what that means so I just stirred everything together. I figured what's the difference? But then I found this- Oops. lol

Well, once you have your unstable emulsion, pour it evenly over the fillets and bake on the center rack of the oven until just cooked through, and no longer translucent, about 4-6 minutes.

To be quite honest here, this was okay. Not fantastic, not terrible. It needed a little something. Maybe mustard, maybe an herb... so I added some fresh dill to the cooked fish and that made it better. My suggestion to you is add a bit of mustard into the vinaigrette to begin with. It may add some dimension which this recipe was severely lacking. Ah well, you live and you learn.

Eating Condiments for Dinner


So that up there, I guess you'd call that fish porraige, congee or gruel. It's some weird crap I whipped up using a bass fillet and a can of cream of mushroom soup. It's a twisted, freakish abomination and I have no excuses, but at least it tasted good. It wasn't technically an entire meal, per se, more like something that goes on top of something else, maybe something mealy or starchy, or even fluffy. I ate it plain cos I was starving. You don't have to. Here's the recipe in case you care.

1 Large Bass Fillet
1 Can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup with roasted garlic
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 tsp milk or Skim
lemon juice
white wine
red bell peppers, diced
onion or shallots, diced
smoked paprika
black pepper
Optional: capers

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until it coats the pan. Put in the onions (or shallots) and bell pepper. Saute' until slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Put the fillet in and cook until side is done, about 5-7 minutes, then flip over.
Pour in the lemon juice, white wine, herbs and spices. I really have no idea how much I used. Just keep tasting until you like it.
When the fish begins flaking, use your spatula to chop it up into small pieces. Add the capers now if you have them and feel like it.
When it's all pretty much done (and you'll be able to see it) scoop contents of cream of mushroom soup out into the pan, mixing everything together. Thin it out with a little bit of milk. Let it heat through another 2-3 minutes until hot, but not too long 'cos this stuff tends to burn.

Serve over something. What kind of something? I dunno, am I supposed to tell you everything?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Easiest Dish Evar.

Okay, it's back to business for me. Now that I actually have an audience, I must perform, so I'm going to start out small because this is the shit I'm making for myself these days. And only because the lean cuisines are starting to get expensive.

Fucking capitalism.

So here we have quite literally a two-ingredient main dish. It's really cheap and so easy to make, you can pull this off if you've never cooked before in your life. I'm dead serious. Check this out:

What are you looking at? Something my ex's mom used to make that I've been craving. It's pork and sauerkraut, the end. No really, you take some pork chops, dump an 8 ounce can of sauerkraut on top of it and bake it for 40 minutes at 350 F. Serve with instant mash and you have a traditional German dinner. Of course she used to slow cook a whole pork roast in the kraut for hours, and I suppose if you slow cooked this in a crock pot instead of baking it, it would come out fantastic, but this is good too, in a pinch. Just remember to pour a bit of water in the bottom of the pan so your pork doesn't burn.

The most important thing about this dish is how you eat it. You have to try a little bit of everything on your fork at once, just for the sake of the different tastes in your mouth. I could cite poetry about a virtual symphony to your taste buds, but it would mean nothing unless you actually tasted it for yourself. Sometimes, it's not all about the why, it's the how. There is no excuse not to try this recipe, really. You probably already have the makings of mashed potatoes in your house. These pork chops cost me under $3 and the small can of sauerkraut was 39¢. It made three whole meals for me!! You need to try this, okay? Just do it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Aw, crap.

I forgot to take pictures at the Pow-wow because my friend showed up massively late and we didn't have time to eat or see all the tents before they closed up. It was the last day too. Ah well, maybe next year. Besides, I'm changing my diet around to eat healthier so grease-laden frybread just isn't a good idea for me right now. But I have been cooking a little bit, even though it's a thousand degrees in my shitty attic apartment. But a dude's gotta eat and I'm trying to save up money to move. The biggest obstacle is remembering to take pics when I do cook. When I get better at this, you'll be the first to know.