I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!


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Moving into Monday

If you want something, go out and get it. If you miss someone, just tell them. If you love someone, love them for them to know. You don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. Don’t hide in the shadows. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t pretend. Don’t fear. Don’t regret. 


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Portuguese Pork Chops

I don’t spend a lot of time cooking through my Portuguese heritage. We make a few dishes in my family, but not many. So I thought I’d spend the last of Foreign Food February in Portugal. What should next month’s theme be? Celebrations? Quick night meals? Guess we’ll see! But on to my delicious meal. 

Every thanksgiving my mom would go to the Portuguese deli and purchase linguica to make a stuffing recipe handed down from my grandmother’s side of the family. I’m not big on stuffing, but will need to get this recipe to share one day. Someone told me once that Portugal is beautiful. Maybe one day I’ll get there. But for now I have my cookbooks. Reading through them to see what I wanted to give a go at, I found a pork recipe and a potato recipe that sounded delicious! I didn’t have the right potatoes (oops!), but it came out pretty good anyways! 

Pork Chops Alentejo-Style with Bay-Scented Potatoes and a Cucumber Tomato Salad 
Recipe from The Food Of Portugal by Jean Anderson

Ingredients 

6 loin pork chops, cut 1 inch thick
2 tbs paprika
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups dry white wine (preferably vinho verde)
3 tbs olive oil
Salt to taste

2 lbs new potatoes of uniform size, scrubbed but not peeled (I only had russet so peeled and cut into large cubes)
1 medium onion, peeled and stuck with two cloves
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs olive oil
4 large bay leaves, crumbled fine
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Directions 

Rub the pork chops well on both sides with the paprika, garlic and pepper. Place in a large shallow bowl and cover with the wine. Refrigerate for 24 hours. When ready to cook, heat the oil in a pan and brown the pork chops, about 8-10 min on each side. Place the marinade in a shallow pan and boil uncovered until reduced about three fourths and the consistency of a medium gravy. Add the reduced marinade to the chops, turn the heat down to low and cook 10 minutes. Taste for salt. 

Meanwhile, start on the potatoes when you begin to cook the pork. Boil the potatoes with the onion in water to cover about 30 minutes until fork-tender. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over low heat. Mix in the olive oil and crumbled bay leaves and let steep at the back of the stove while the potatoes cook. Once the potatoes are tender, discard the onion, drain the potatoes well and peel. Strain the butter mixture and return to the skillet. Add the potatoes, set over moderate heat, and turn them in the bay scented butter mixture about 5 minutes until nicely glazed and touched with brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Serve with the tomato and cucumber salad – a classic in any Mediterranean country – and a glass of that delicious Portuguese wine. Enjoy! 


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Scallops in a Lemon Butter Sauce

As we continue our tour through Greece, I was reminded of a dish I haven’t made in some time. Looking through all my cookbooks the other day, I saw a recipe for scallops over pasta and remembered the dish my mom used to make. And then I remembered I had the recipe. When I went to retrieve it from my recipe binder, the flood of memories came back and seeing this little exchange and her handwriting again brought me to tears. I’m not sure I ever shared this, but my mom suffers from an atypical form of Parkinson’s and not only hasn’t been able to write for some time now, but hasn’t been doing well overall at all as of late. Another recipe I’ll always keep around and never transfer onto its own recipe card. 

My mom always said she should have been a doctor with that handwriting lol. (And the above is “neat”!!). It always made me chuckle. And believe me she was definitely smart enough to have been one which I think, weirdly, makes it even funnier. 

Anyways, off to the store I went for scallops after I pulled myself together because I knew I had to make this dish as my next Foreign Food February. With just a few small tweaks, the smell of this dish cooking brought some more tears to my eyes. It’s a quick and easy must try trip to Greece. 

Ingredients 

1/2 lb bay scallops or sea scallops cut in 4ths
Greek extra virgin olive oil, twice around the pan
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste (I made this extra peppery)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs butter (lactose free for me!)
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 lbs pasta, cooked to al dente

Directions 

SautĂ© the garlic in the oil for about 20 seconds so it’s starting to become fragrant. Add the scallops, which have been patted  dry. Season with pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, mixing a few times. As you’re not cooking to sear the scallops, some juices will begin to release which will be important for the next step. 

Add the butter to form a sauce, cooking for about a minute. Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute. 

Remove the sauce from the pan and reserve to the side. Sprinkle the scallops with the breadcrumbs and place under the boiler for about 5 minutes or until browning. 

Mix the pasta with the sauce and add the scallops over top. Serve with a side of a Greek village salad (tomatoes, cucumber and feta). 

Hope you enjoy this as much as I always did. 


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A Birthday Tour Through Greece

Foreign Food February continues in Greece for my dad’s birthday. This year, we decided to cook my dad a huge birthday meal with some of his favorite foods. Through this, I realized I have 5 Greek cookbooks, photo copies of some recipes from my mom’s treasured Greek cookbook, recipes passed down from family, and my own engrained Greek flavor talents… Maybe a bit too much haha. But as you know by now, I’m obsessed with cookbooks! The below photocopy will forever be treasured, though. My dad thinks my mom’s cookbook is still around somewhere and promised to look for it for me. It’s out of print so I could never get my own. But this photo copy of the pastitsio recipe, with my mom’s handwriting at the bottom… I don’t think I’ll ever throw this out. 


A trip to the Greek store supplied me with pasta noodles for pastitsio, locanico sausage, pita, olives and cheeses for last nights trip to Greece. 


Locanico is a Greek sausage typically served grilled with lemon. Since it’s winter and was snowing out, I sliced these up and browned them in a pan. 10-15 minutes on medium-high to get a nice brown to them. Serve with lemon wedges along with the olives, cheese (feta and kefalograviera), Taramasalata (a dip made from fish roe- also purchased at the store), tzaziki sauce (ala Danielle my sister), pita chips and tiropita (see recipe to follow!). 

An all time favorite, pastitsio, the beloved recipe featured above was the dinner for the birthday boy. I’m really perfecting this, although I will say I still don’t understand how Rachel Ray makes her bechamel sauce so quick and I’m sitting here forever working out my arm muscles whisking that sauce thick! But I will say, this smelled like love and tasted even better (patting myself on the back, I know!). 


Stay tuned for my dad’s favorite for dessert. But for now, here’s the recipe for my tiropita! It’s adapted from this big beautiful cookbook which really could be a coffee table book it’s so pretty. Tiropita is simply a cheese pie. 

Now, if you never worked with phyllo dough before, please take note that it’s not an easy ingredient to work with! It needs a delicate touch and proper care. Once your dough is defrosted, remove from the packaging and lay between two clean, damp towels until ready to use. As you take a layer, put the top towel back in place over the remaining layers. You must do this to avoid the dough from drying out and breaking. Even with doing this, the layers can tear so handle carefully! Now you’re ready for the recipe 🙂 

Tiropita
Recipe adapted from World Food Greece: The Food and The Lifestyle by Susanna Tee 

Ingredients 

1/2 lb crumbled feta
1/4 cup cottage cheese
2 tbs parsley, chopped
1 egg beaten
Pepper to taste
8 sheets phyllo dough, cut into 3 equal strips long ways
1 stick butter, melted 

Directions 

In a bowl, mix together the feta, cottage cheese, egg, parsley and pepper. Set aside.  


Get your baking pan ready, greased with some of the melted butter. 

Take one strip of the phyllo dough and coat the top with melted butter. Layer a second strip on top and top with melted butter again.  

Take a tablespoon of the cheese mixture and place in the bottom corner of the dough. Fold the corner of the dough over the filling to the opposite side of the strip, forming a triangle. Continue this folding technique up the strip, forming a little triangular pie.  Place on the baking sheet and coat the top with more butter. Continue this until there is no more filling (should form about 10 triangles. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, flipping once to get both sides toasty brown. So cheesy good! 

Now, for the icing on the cake (pun intended) – walnut cakes to sing a very happy birthday to Papou. My Aunt Toula, who I’ve told you about before, always used to have this cake ready and waiting for my dad when we’d arrive to California. This is not the traditional Greek walnut cake by any means – hers was simply the box and walnuts. But I dockered my version up a bit. But feel free to find a traditional recipe if you so prefer! And here we go! Buy your favorite yellow cake mix and prepare to the box instructions but add in 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, and 1 shot of grand marnier. 

Fold in 1 cup of walnuts. So simple! Next, bake to the box instructions. I recently purchased the cutest baking pan which makes these mini bundt cakes. So this is what I used so everyone had their own mini cake. How cute!?


So, ending on a sweet note… hope you enjoyed my trip to Greece, even if I tend to take you there a lot through my cooking! Looking through these cookbooks did inspire me to try out a few other recipes for this weeks travels. But do let me know where else you’d like to visit before the month is through! 🙂 


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The beauty of the butterfly

I love butterflies. Maybe partly because of the change they undergo. Change is coming, and I sure miss that person I can talk to about it. But reflecting on the below quote, and remember the beauty of the butterfly…. while drinking some French wine for Foreign Food February in France 🙂 

*We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty* ~ Maya Angelou 


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Beef Bourguignon

I’ll be taking us to France this Valentine’s Day. Partly just because saying “Beef Bourguignon” is romantic in itself. Julia Child is a cooking legend, and if you can’t win your Valentine over with the first fork into her amazingly tender, amazingly tasty beef then there’s no helping you. Joking… sort of… haha 

But seriously, this is an impressive and romantic meal so it’s the perfect culinary vacation for this week. The main dish takes a few hours to cook so make sure to plan accordingly and start your night off with some Brie and a beautiful French bread. Open up a bottle of wine while your beef bourguignon finishes off cooking. 

Beef bourguignon is traditionally served with potatoes. I’ve decided to pair it with a wide egg noodle. Just because I like noodles better. You can also choose to serve it with rice. I opted for no veggies, but Julia Child suggests peas cooked in butter. Your decision! You can also easily half the recipe which is what I did. 

And here’s another reason why French food is the Foreign Food February this week. After you’ve ate this amazingly delicious meal, you can finish the night with silky, delicate, sweet Creme BrĂ»lĂ©e. A favorite! 

And now, Julia Child’s famous recipe for Beef Bourguignon. Enjoy, and a Happy Valentine’s Day to y’all. 


Beef Bourguignon 
recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simon Beck

Ingredients 

A 6 ounce chunk of bacon **Note, I did not use bacon in my dish and skipped future bacon steps.
1 tbs olive oil
3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2 inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbs flour
3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine
2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned boullion
1 tbs tomato paste
2 cloves smashed garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
A crumbled bay leaf **Note, I didn’t crumble since I like to remove at the end
18-24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock **Note, I skipped this because I forgot to buy them! Oops!
1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs 

Directions 

Remove the rind from the bacon and cut bacon into lardons (sticks 1/4 thick and 1 1/2 inch long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

SautĂ© the bacon in the oil in a dutch oven over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to brown slightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set dutch oven aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sautĂ© the beef. 

Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it’s damp. 


SautĂ© it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat (or just oil if skipping the bacon) until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon. 


In the same fat, brown the carrots and sliced onions. Pour out the sautĂ©ing fat. 

Return the beef and bacon to the pot and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set the pot uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove the pot, and turn the oven down to 325. 


Stir in the wine, and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover and set in the lower third of the oven. Regular heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. 

(Oops! Was so excited about the smell which consumed my kitchen by this point I forgot to take a picture!)

When the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set aside into needed. 

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the pot and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat. 

Skim the fat over the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute of two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few more tablesooons of stock. Taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Cover and cook about 2-3 minutes, basting the meat with the sauce several times. 

Serve over the noodles on a pretty painted plate (sets the scene!). Sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!