SLOW COOKER PORK LOIN CARNITAS FOR TACOS

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I have become somewhat obsessed with our slow cooker recently, and this recipe for pulled pork tacos is SO DAMN EASY. AND SO DAMN GOOD. It is definitely set for high rotation, especially as it gets colder out. More traditional recipes for Pork Carnitas call for pork shoulder or other similarly fatty cuts, but I prefer using a healthier, leaner cut of meat – trust me, it will still blow your mind. And decreased calories means more servings with less of the guilts! A few minutes under the grill at the end of cooking will crisp up the edges deliciously, but this is totally optional.

This recipe will serve four comfortably, but if you love these as much as we do you might want to up the quantities somewhat. I adapted this recipe from here and here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp ground black pepper
  • 1kg freedom farmed port loin
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • handful of jalapeños (from a jar)
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 Lime juiced
  • 1 lemon juiced, plus zest of half a lemon
  • 2-3tbsp olive oil

How-to:

Combine chilli flakes, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Rub pork loin with extra olive oil and then season with the spice mixture, rubbing in thoroughly (ensure all spice mixture is used – just whack any that doesn’t stick to the pork into the pot with everything else).

Place garlic, onions, jalapeños, orange juice, lime juice, zest, olive oil and seasoned loin into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Remove pork shoulder from the slow cooker and shred the meat before returning to the pot with the juices; season with salt and pepper, to taste, if needed. Cover and keep warm for an additional 30 minutes. add a little water if needed.

Preheat your oven to grill. Place carnitas (minus liquid etc) onto a baking sheet and grill for a couple of minutes until slightly browned in parts. Place back into liquid and stir before serving. (Optional, but YUM).

Serve in small corn tacos with a little bit of cheese, sour cream, homemade pickled red onions, coriander, tomato and red onion salsa and grated zucchini. Also good with lettuce, refried beans etc. Anything you like really!2015-04-05 18.02.25-1

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Tomato Kasundi relish

I have recently returned home from living in London and was ridiculously excited to discover how enthusiastic our tomato plants have been this season. The smell of a ripe homegrown tomato is one of the best in the world, and being the self proclaimed condiment queen, I had to find something to do with the glut.

This Indian spiced tomato relish is SO, SO good, foolproof to make, and veeeery easy to consume! Great with BBQ anything / Smeared on crackers with cheese / served with simple rice, herbs and a dollop of yoghurt for a simple but delicious meal / amazing added to a tomato based pizza sauce… I literally eat this stuff with everything.

The recipe below is based on one I found here, with some slight adjustments to spice quantities and a few extras added in. I definitely recommend pureeing the tomatoes. The level of chilli used here gives a nice wee kick, but nothing too crazy. Adjust depending on your taste buds. Makes about 3-4 jam jars.

 

Ingredients:

  • 125g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 60g garlic cloves
  • A couple of small green or red chillies
  • 250ml malt vinegar
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 45g black mustard seeds
  • 15g ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 40g ground cumin
  • 10g smoked paprika
  • 10g hot paprika (*if you only have one type if paprika fret not, just use more of the one type).
  • 1kg tomatoes, fresh or tinned, pureed
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 20g salt

 

Method:

Pop ginger, garlic, chillies and 50ml of vinegar in a food processor and puree to a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a heavy based pot, add dry spices and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add puréed tomatoes, sugar, salt and remaining vinegar and simmer for (about) 40-60 min, stirring every five minutes or so. When the oil comes to the top and the relish looks somewhat like a curry sauce, it is ready. Pour into sterilised jars and seal while still hot. 

NB: this is a white tshirt free zone. The mixture does tend to spit a bit as it cooks so keeping a lid loosely over the pot is a good idea.

Spaghetti with chilli, lemon & herbs

ImageA super easy dinner option, you can throw this together and add in anything else you might have on hand – chicken, feta, extra herbs etc. The anchovies disappear into the sauce but definitely leave a tiny hint of something deliciously salty (if you’re an anchovy lover by all means add more).

Serves 5(ish)

Ingredients:

1 x 500g packet wholemeal spaghetti

Approx 1/3 cup good quality olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed

3 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped

1 x super hot small red chilli, roughly chopped (or dried chilli to taste) 2 tbsp grated lemon zest

Approx 1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp brown sugar

Salt and pepper

2 cups roughly chopped rocket

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, shredded

1/3 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

How to:

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook gently for 1 minute, then add the anchovies and chilli and cook for another minute, crushing the anchovies into the olive oil (they should almost begin to dissolve). Next add the lemon zest, lemon juice & tsp of brown sugar, turn up the heat slightly and cook down for 1 minute. season with salt and pepper, then take off the heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain (reserving a little bit of cooking water in case you want to thin the sauce) and combine with the sauce, rocket, coriander and mint in a large bowl. Toss well and top with the Parmesan. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and some extra chilli to serve.

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Anything Salad

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Today I made this Salad for lunch. A pull-together-from-whatever’s-in-the-cupboard kind of thing. So easy, so good for you, so delicious, definitely not boring.

Serves 2 (or 4 as a side).

Ingredients

1 carrot, julienned (julienne hand grater’s are amazing & cheap!)

1 can organic chickpeas, drained well

1 tbsp chia seeds (I used black chia)

About 1/8 cup white quinoa, cooked with just over 1/4 cup water

A couple of tbsp grated organic cheddar cheese (or feta if you have it, roughly chopped)

1 handful organic broccoli sprouts

A few canned beetroots, roughly chopped (although real, roasted beetroot would be far better)

Good quality olive oil / salt / pepper / lemon juic

Plus anything else you have hanging out in your kitchen – chopped tomatoes / cucumber / capsicum / mushrooms, etc.

How to

Cook quinoa by adding to just over 1/4 cup of cold water in a small pot with a tiny pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then turn heat to low, cover and simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and then add to rest of salad ingredients in a big bowl. Dress with olive oil, salt & pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and then roughly toss.

(Other dressings like a traditional vinaigrette or Japanese sesame dressing would also be yum).

Moroccan spiced lentils with pumpkin

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A delicious way to spend a wintery Sunday afternoon, this makes the perfect easy vegetarian supper with just a bit of sourdough needed to help mop up the juices. Super nutritious and high in protein, I adapted this recipe from one I found in “The Food of Morocco” by Tess Mallos. A bit of kale or spinach, thrown in 5-10 minutes before the end of cooking would also be fabulous.

Serves 4

Ingredients

275g green lentils

50g split peas

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

700g pumpkin, chopped into 3cm chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 tsp ground cumin

3/4 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp smokey paprika

3 tsp tomato paste

1 can chopped tomatoes in puree

1 tsp castor sugar

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

3 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped

1/2 lemon

How to

Pick over the lentils/split peas and check for stones. Rinse thoroughly in a sieve and then add to 1 litre of cold water in a medium sized pot and bring to the boil. Skim any scum that rises and then turn the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 20ish minutes.

Heat the oil in a large pot (cast iron is ideal) over a low heat, add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic, cook for a few seconds, then stir in the cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the paprika, tomato, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, sugar, half of the parsley and coriander, 1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Add the lentils, pumpkin, stir well, then cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the pumpkin and lentils are tender. Towards the end of cooking squeeze in the lemon and add the skin to the pot.

Adjust the seasoning, sprinkle over the remaining parsley and coriander and serve hot or warm with some crusty bread. Also fabulous served with some thick organic yoghurt with a teensy bit of salt added.

This is the kind of recipe that is even better the next day.

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Creamy quinoa porridge

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Quinoa is on my top five foods list for sure. Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein source as it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids vital for our optimal biological functioning. It’s also packed with fibre, iron and is gluten free!

The surface of quinoa contains a chemical that has a bitter taste – while most commercial quinoa will be pre-washed to remove this, it’s always a good idea to rinse it well before use to ensure no residue remains.

I came across this recipe for quinoa porridge here and slightly adapted to suit. The overnight soaking of the grains with an active culture (yoghurt, raw cider vinegar etc) is new to me, but makes total sense. Soaking grains starts the activation process and helps to break down some of the hard-to-digest proteins making them more nutritionally available. Importantly it also neutralises phytic acid – an anti-nutrient that prevents our bodies absorbing minerals such as iron and magnesium.

The addition of chia seeds helps boost the nutritional benefits of this breakfast – I have been adding chia seeds to everything recently –  they are a great source of dietary fibre, omega 3, protein, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, iron and more!

While I do love my oats, this recipe for quinoa porridge is just as good, if not better on a frozen Auckland morning. Coconut milk, cinnamon and cardamom pods gives it a level of luxury and almost elevates it to pudding status. Dessert for breakfast? Perfect.

*the coconut milk can easily be substituted for almond, oat or soy milk.

Creamy Quinoa Porridge

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

1 cup of warm water

1 tbsp live culture e.g. yoghurt, raw apple cider vinegar, etc

½ cup coconut milk

½ cup water

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp agave syrup (or sweetener of choice)

4 cardamom pods, crushed (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

The night before, combine the qunioa, warm water and culture. cover and keep in a warm place overnight (I put the bowl in my hot water cupboard).

Morning of – transfer the quinoa into a sieve and rinse well

Place the quinoa, chia seeds, coconut milk, water, spices and agave in a small pan. Bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring occasionally, and then lower heat, cover pot and cook for 15 minutes until quinoa has swelled and absorbed most of the liquid.

Serve with your toppings of choice! I used organic yoghurt, berries, banana and an extra dash of coconut milk and agave. Nuts, LSA,  cacao etc would also be delicious.

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Basmati & Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Currants & Herbs

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Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi has got to be my favourite cookbook of the year so far. SO GOOD. This wee gem was the first recipe sampled, and it’s definitely a keeper. We ate it simply, with roasted carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, bread and organic butter (on another note, bread, butter, & olive oil-laced roast tomato juices – best combo ever?). The recipe looks kinda long, but it’s super easy; the only thing that takes time to cook is the rice.

Serves 6

50g wild rice

2.5 tbsp olive oil

220g basmati rice

330ml boiling water

2 tsp cumin seeds

1.5 tsp curry powder

240g cooked chickpeas (tinned are fine), drained

180ml sunflower oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tbsp plain flour

100g currants

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp chopped coriander

1 tbsp chopped dill

salt and black pepper

Put the wild rice in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, boil and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but still quite firm. Drain and set aside.

To cook the basmati rice, pour a tablespoon of the olive oil into a medium saucepan with a tightly fitting lid and place on a high heat. Add the rice and 1/4 tsp of salt and stir as you heat up the rice. Carefully add the boiling water, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with the lid and leave to cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a clean tea towel, then the lid and leave off the heat for 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking prepare the chickpeas. Heat up the remaining olive oil in a small saucepan on a high heat. Add the cumin seeds and curry powder and after a couple of seconds add the chickpeas and 1/4 tsp of salt. Stir on the heat for a minute or two, just to heat up the chickpeas, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Wipe the saucepan clean, pour in the sunflower oil and place on a high heat. Make sure the oil is hot by throwing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously. Use your hands to mix the onion with the flour to coat it slightly. Take some of the onion and carefully place in the oil (it may spit!). Fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown, transfer to kitchen paper to drain and sprinkle with salt. Repeat in batches until all the onion is fried.

Finally, add both types of rice to the chickpeas, add the currants, herbs and fried onion. Stir, taste and add salt and pepper as you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.

RIVER CAFÉ’S SLOW-ROASTED SHOULDER OF PORK

IMG_7663The Rive Café cookbooks are fabulous, and their slow-roasted shoulder of pork is, hands down, my favourite way to eat pork. It has become our family’s Christmas dinner staple (during my almost three years of being a vegetarian I would cave once a year, on Christmas day, and eat this) and is basically fool proof. Slow cooking like this produces meat that falls off the bone and for reals melts in your mouth. The pan juices also make the most amazing gravy- bonus! Even friends who do not like pork like this dish.

We typically have this with apple sauce, some kind of simple green vegetable, salad and new potatoes. I have also used the recipe to do a kind of pulled pork sandwich easy summer dinner.

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This recipe feeds about 8 people. We recently used a 4.5kg piece of shoulder to feed 12 people and it was pretty perfect (always err on the side of caution – leftover roast sandwiches the next day are SO good). If using a large piece of meat just increase the other ingredients accordingly. According to the River Cafe ladies you can cook this from 8-24 hours – the longer the better! When serving for dinner we usually pop it into the oven after breakfast. 9 hours seems about perfect for this size piece of meat, although an extra couple of hours would likely be even more delicious!

Always buy freedom farmed happy pork and ask your butcher to score the skin for you. SO much easier than DIY. If you like your crackling to be nice and crispy, as we do, remove the skin once the meat is out of the oven, chop up roughly, and place under the grill until it is done to your liking.

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Serves 8

1 small whole shoulder of pork, with skin, about 2.75-3.25kg/6-7lb

10 garlic cloves, peeled

100g/4oz fennel seeds

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

5-6 small dried red chillies, crumbled

juice of 5 lemons

3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 230C/450F. If your butcher hasn’t already done this for you, score the whole skin of the shoulder with deep cuts (about 2cm between each cut).

Smash the garlic with the fennel seeds, then mix with salt, pepper and chilli to make a rough paste. Rub and push this mixture into and over the skin and all the surfaces of the meat. Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes or until the skin begins to crackle up, blister and brown. Turn the shoulder and pour over half the lemon juice and two tablespoons of the oil. Place back skin side up, turn the oven down to 120C/250F, and leave the meat to roast, overnight or all day. Baste the meat occasionally with extra lemon juice and, if necessary, a little more oil.

The shoulder is ready when it is completely soft under the crisp skin. You can tell by pushing with your finger: the meat will give way and might even fall off the bone. Serve each person with some of the crisp skin and meat cut from different parts of the shoulder. Add extra lemon juice to deglaze the pan, and spoon some of this over. Make a gravy with the remaining pan juices – remove any overly dark clumps of fennel seeds, place the pan over a medium-high heat, add a little water and, stirring well, bring to the boil before adding a couple of teaspoons of flour to thicken. The combination of lemon, fennel, olive oil, chilli and meat juices makes for the BEST. GRAVY. EVER.

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Vietnamese Caramelised Pork Belly

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Parkside Café in Mt Albert, Auckland, is the most wonderful place. It’s a very unassuming regular (but tasty) café during the day, but a few nights a week they open for dinner and serve the most incredible Vietnamese cuisine. Their Vietnamese Caramelised Pork Belly is the best way I’ve ever eaten this cut of meat, and every time I go to Parkside I leave dreaming of recreating this meal at home. I finally had the chance this week when I came across some Black Rock freedom farmed pork belly.  It also happened to be my mum’s birthday. Good excuse to make something a bit more decadent! There are a huge number of varying recipes for this dish online, but the one I came across that seemed to be the most similar to what I wanted is this one. I have adapted the recipe somewhat to include star anise, less sugar and a few other bits and pieces.

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This is definitely a “sometimes food” kind of meal, but we’re all allowed to be a little bit naughty now and then. Don’t freak out (as I did) if it looks pretty anaemic and unappealing at the beginning, trust me, it is a completely different looking dish at the end of cooking! I removed the chillies towards the end of cooking once they began breaking down as I wanted a good level of heat, but not the mouth-watering spice that can occur once the seeds have been unleashed from their shells.

I wanted some simple vegetables to cut through the richness of the pork, so just pan-fried some zucchini in a little coconut oil, salt & pepper.

Serve with some nutty brown rice and you’re good to go!

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Ingredients

1kg pork belly (free farmed)

175g raw brown sugar

2 litres (8 cups) water

½ cup good quality fish sauce

75 g sugar, extra

1 onion, roughly diced

2 star anise

4 fat cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp salt

2 tsp fine white pepper

3-6 red bird’s eye chillies, left whole


How to

Cut the pork belly into 2x4cm pieces and set aside.

To make the caramel, put the sugar and 2 tbsp of water in a large heavy-based saucepan and place over high heat. Cook without stirring until sugar becomes foamy & bubbly & a rich golden colour (this shouldn’t take long, don’t let it get to the candy stage) then carefully add the pork pieces to the pan.

Stir well to coat the pork with the caramel and then add the water. Bring back to the boil, skimming off any fat and impurities that rise to the surface with a slotted spoon.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, then add the fish sauce, extra sugar, onion, garlic, ginger, star anise, salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. the sauce will eventually reduce to about 1/4 of its original volume and will darken and become glossy as some of the fat melts off the pork. If you think it needs a little longer than 90 minutes, keep it simmering for another 15-20, topping up the sauce with ½ cup of so of water.

Serve over brown rice with vegetables on the side.

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Crispy tofu with brown rice and kale

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This was a throw together midweek meal. A friend passed on the tip of lightly coating the tofu in cornflour.  I’ve always been a fan of tofu but never thought to cook it like this before! The cornflour makes the tofu to go all deliciously crispy and also soaks up any sauce you throw its way. I could easily have eaten the whole thing myself.

We used kale but it would be equally as good with cabbage, kavolo nero, even spinach.

Serves 2

1.5 cups brown rice

Kale

Lug of organic coconut oil or peanut oil

2 cups chopped kale

2 fat cloves garlic

Generous squeeze of fresh lemon

Tofu

1x block firm organic tofu cut into 2x2cm cubes

3 tbsp cornflour

4 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)

3 tbsp regular soy sauce (e.g. Kikkoman))

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tbsp mirin

Good squeeze lemon juice

Cook the rice as per the packet instructions

Once cooked, start the kale. Add a lug of your chosen oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Add kale and stirfry for a few minutes, then add garlic, mix together and continue to stirfry until kale is wilted but not soggy. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice to the pan and take off the heat.

Coat tofu cubes with the cornflour (add together in a bowl or plastic bake and mix/shake together until coated)

Combine the sweet soy, soy, sesame oil, chilli flakes, mirin and lemon juice, set aside.

Add a good lug of coconut oil (2 tbsp approx) to a pan, heat on medium-high heat and then add the tofu (check with one piece  of tofu first, if it sizzles when it hits the pan, its hot enough and ready for the rest of the tofu). fry, stiring/shaking the pan until tofu becomes light golden brown on most sides and is crispy (about 5-10 mins). Once tofu is ready, take off the heat and add the sauce. The residual heat in the pan will make the sauce go all bubbly and yum, stir around until the tofu is well coated

To serve, spoon some rice into bowls, top with the kale mixture and finally the tofu. Drizzle some of the sauce over everything and top with a final squeeze of lemon juice and a squiggle of Japanese kewpie mayo if you are that way inclined (I definitely am – makes everything better!).

So easy!

(excuse the poor quality photo – I was without a camera so had to make do with my phone)

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