Lemongrass Vietnamese Pork Chops with Spicy Maple-Ginger Roasted Acorn Squash, Leek, Beets + Thyme

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Welcome to the quintessential fall meal. Roasted squash, beautiful beets, rich and savory pork chops, fresh rain outside, snow up high, boots and sweaters and fires and hot tea. This time of year is so special. We visited the farmers market in Nevada City yesterday and found the market full of goodies, including peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, tons of strawberries. It was so lovely, sunny and warm, and then on the way back home the temperature dropped 30 degrees and snow fell. We cleaned up the garden today too, dug up many pounds of potatoes, hung herbs to dry, gave the turkeys and chickens tomatoes and lettuce the frost ruined. It feels good to bundle up and enjoy the act of roasting falls best vegetables.

Lemongrass Vietnamese Pork Chops with Spicy Maple-Ginger Roasted Acorn Squash, Leek, Beets + Thyme

2 pork chops (or more)

Marinade:
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small white onion or shallot
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 inches lemongrass stalk, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pomegranate jelly

Process all ingredients together in a food processor until sauce reaches a smooth texture. Coat the pork chops on both sides and allow to marinate for at least an hour in the fridge.

Roasted Vegetables
1 acorn squash, sliced vertical with seeds removed
1 chioga beet, cut in half, then sliced
1 red beet, cut in half, then sliced
1/2 leek, cut in half, sliced
1/2 lb green beans
1/2 white onion/shallot sliced
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 inches ginger, peeled and chopped
1 handful fresh thyme
Arugula for serving
Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate for serving

Heat oven to 425.
In a small saucepan, combine butter, olive oil, maple syrup, cayenne, salt, and ginger and mix on medium heat just until the butter is melted. Pour the mix over the acorn squash, or dip the squash in the mix, then spread on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minute, flipping once or twice until browned.
Place the beets, green beans, onion, and leeks on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in the oven after the squash have been roasting for about 20 minutes.
During the last 8 or so minutes of browning, add half of the fresh thyme to the beet vegetable mix, and roast until everything is fragrant and caramelized.

Cook the pork chops during the last 10 minutes of vegetable roasting. Heat a skillet to high. Add 1 tbsp of butter, then add the pork chops. Cook and blacken on each side for about three minutes. When both sides are done, add the remaining marinade and reduce it with the pork chops for another 5-8 minutes.

Serve the acorn squash, roasted vegetables, and pork chops on a bed of arugula, drizzle everything with the reduced marinade, sprinkle on pomegranate seeds and add the remaining fresh thyme.

Sea Salted Apple Cider Caramels

IMG_2352 IMG_2348 IMG_2350It seems that these caramels make it officially fall. They are so good, but good in a way where you can just have one and feel satisfied. They are sweet and savory and deeply apple-y. The color is darker amber because I used coconut palm sugar. The pairing of rich and caramel flavored coconut sugar with the apple and sea salt just brought a better flavor and complexity, and somehow made these treats taste a bit more grown up.

Sea Salted Apple Cider Caramels
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
4 cups apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sea salt flakes
8 tbsp/1 stick unsalted butter-I use Straus, chopped into pieces
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used raw heavy cream)
Avocado oil

Line a small baking pan with parchment paper.
Pour the apple cider into a saucepan over high heat and boil for about 45 minutes, or until the apple cider is greatly reduced in volume to about 1/2 cup of thick, syrupy liquid. Stir occasionally as it heats.

Once the cider has reduced, remove from the heat and add the butter, sugars, and cream. Stir to combine, then place back on medium-high heat. If you have a candy thermometer, bring the temperature up to 252*, if not (and I didn’t have mine where I made these) you’ll do the cold water trick. So as you heat the caramel, the texture becomes more bubbly, every so often you drop a bit of caramel into a very cold glass of water. The caramel is done when the drops become firm and chewy. This step happens pretty fast, and the caramel is ready in about 5-8 minutes. Keep and eye on the caramel, but more importantly your nose, make sure you don’t smell any burning.

Remove the caramel from the heat, stir in the cinnamon and sea salt, then pour the mix onto parchment paper in the pan. Try for about 1 inch thick, but you can also choose what size/shape you want, so this is up to you.

Allow the caramels to cool for about 1-2 hours in the fridge. To cut them into shape, coat a sharp knife with avocado oil and recoat after each cut. Store the caramels in wax paper of on layers of parchment paper in a tupperware in the fridge or on the countertop.

Korean Stir Fry with Sirloin, Eggplant, Soba + Chile Sauce

IMG_2376 IMG_2372 IMG_2393 IMG_2389During these last sweetest days of summer/fall I’ve primarily cooked on the barbecue on my favorite skillet. Its a giant cast iron griddle that gets super hot and when I cook outside the house stays cleaner and free of cooking odors. I just don’t like noodle dishes when the noodles aren’t boiled then charred over fire, its such a better texture and flavor. Cooking over the grill for the charring is second only to over fire. This dish by the way is simple and pretty quick and fulfilling. It’s a bit sweet and spicy and each bite is a different kind of happy surprise.

Korean Stir Fry with Sirloin, Eggplant, Soba + Chile Sauce

Sauce:
3/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp chile sauce (recipe below)
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 inches fresh ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Chile Sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)
6 jalapeno peppers
3 peeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt

Cook the jalapeno peppers and garlic in a boiling salted saucepan for about 2 minutes. Blend chiles, garlic and red wine vinegar, season with salt and let cool. You will have extra to use on other meals and as a topping. By the way, this sauce is HOT.

Stir Fry
1 lb grass fed top sirloin, cut into very thin strips
2 medium Japanese eggplants, chopped
2 carrots, julienned
1 bell pepper, julienned
1 cup mushrooms, I used chanterelle, shitakes work great too, sliced
Bunch of cilantro
3 tbsp sesame seeds
Soba noodles-2 of the small bunches within the packages

First, make the chile sauce, then make the stir fry sauce, you can make this in advance. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the sirloin and marinate as the steak comes to room temperature.
Next, get the vegetables chopped. Its easier to have these all ready to go.
Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for four minutes, then rinse in cold water.
While the water boils turn the grill to high and place a large skillet on the grill-you can also do this on stove top in a wok.
Add the eggplant to the grill skillet, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook until softened and starting to get some color, about 10 minutes, then add the carrot, pepper and mushrooms. Pour 1/4 cup or so of the sauce on the veggies and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Next, add the noodles to the wok/skillet. Mix in with the vegetables, again adding more of the stir fry sauce. Cover and allow to cook until the noodles start to crisp.
After crisping and stirring the noodles a few times, clear a space on your pan and add the meat. Cook it over high heat so it sears and if you need to, cook it in batches. It should take very little time, maybe a minute or two on each side to cook, when its done, stir everything together.
To finish, spread a nice big handful of cilantro leaves on top, sprinkle the sesame seeds on and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve with the hot chile sauce, and extra cilantro.

Cilantro Lime Coconut Curry with Chanterelles, Fresh Ginger + Avocado

IMG_2289 IMG_2270-001 S IMG_2274This soup made my house smell like fresh ginger and cilantro and lime in such a gentle and refreshing and rather uplifting way. And this was good, because the onion I used, bought from the farmer’s market a few days ago, it made me basically weep. I’ve had the occasional onion make my eyes watery, but this one forced tears to stream down my face. I had to walk away and compose myself. My suggestion is to use a gentler onion, like a white one, or a shallot, but I guess I was starting to think I’m immune to oniony induced emotion and this one put me in my place. This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd, and you could add chicken or pork belly if you have it on hand. The avocado is essential as it balances out a pretty citrusy soup and adds depth, but the rice is optional as well. It is also quite good topped with those rice sticks you find at health food stores and a good grind of fresh black pepper. Oh and I did also just happen to have chanterelles on hand, which is something that has never really happened to me before, as lovely as they are I would happily use shitake or maitake mushrooms in their place.

Cilantro Lime Coconut Curry with Chanterelles, Fresh Ginger + Avocado
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 inches peeled fresh ginger, chopped
4 baby sweet peppers, or 1 big red pepper,  seeds removed + sliced
1 zucchini, halved and diced
1 handful chanterelles, sliced
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
2 long pieces lemongrass, chopped
1 tablespoon yellow curry paste
1 lime, juiced
1 can full fat coconut milk + 1 can amount of water
1/4 cup brown or wild rice
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped + extra for garnish
Butter + olive oil
Salt + pepper
Avocado

Add a tbsp of butter to a deep saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and cook about 15 minutes, or until translucent.
Next add the ginger, peppers, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, jalapeno and lemongrass. Stir and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, then add the curry paste, stirring again.
Add the lime juice and pour in the full can of coconut milk plus a can sized amount of water. Turn heat to medium, add the rice to the soup, cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro, and taste for seasoning, adding olive oil, salt and pepper if needed. Test to make sure the rice is fully cooked, and serve with sliced avocado, cilantro, a grind of pepper and drizzle of olive oil.