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.

Braised Lamb Riblets, Grilled Summer Squash, Apricots + Chard

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We found riblets at the farmer’s market. Only a tiny package was left, with these tiny riblets.  We ate them slowly, carefully, little delicacies in our fingers. The sweetness from the peach, crispiness from the braised, then blackened fat, and bitterness from the greens. It’s also a nice thing to grind your own spices in a mortar & pestle. You can switch up the ingredients in this recipe all you want, adding, replacing, changing the spices. The dish is super versatile, but the best part is when the braised ribs get caramelized in a skillet.

Braised Lamb Riblets, Grilled Summer Squash, Apricots + Chard
1 lb pastured lamb riblets
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red chili flakes
Sea salt
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, chopped
Handful of fresh thyme
2 cups water or beef broth
1 tbsp butter
5 summer squashes, cut lengthwise
Huge handful chard, chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
Lemon juice
5 apricots, halved & quartered
Handful of cilantro

Bring the riblets to room temperature.
Add the pepper, coriander, cumin, chili flakes and sea salt to a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast until fragrant, 2-3 minutes and then grind in a mortar & pestle. Rub the spices into the riblets, place in a covered bowl, and let sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Heat the oven to 325*.
Place the butter to a dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions to the skillet, cover and saute for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, but now browned. Add the ginger and garlic, saute for a few minutes, then add the thyme, broth or water, and the riblets.
Bring to a gentle simmer, then place the dutch oven, covered, in the oven and braise for about 2 hours, until the meat is tender.
About 15 minutes before serving, heat the grill, and cook the summer squash.
Remove the riblets from the braise, and cut them into individual ribs, reserving the braising liquid for roasting future vegetables.
Heat a skillet, add some olive oil or butter to the pan, and add the chard and rosemary. Season the greens with lemon juice & sea salt, and then throw the apricots in the with greens. Cover the skillet, turn the heat down and allow to cook for a few minutes until the greens and apricots are slightly wilted & cooked down.
In the meantime, heat another skillet, add a little oil or butter, and sear the ribs until the fat starts to caramelize on all sides.
Serve the riblets with the chard, squash, and apricots, sprinkle with cilantro and a grind of salt & pepper.
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Portabella filled with Farmer’s Market Vegetables topped with Cucumber-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

This dish is just exciting to me. I mean it combines a lot of my favorite things; it combines my life and food philosophies. It is simple, diverse, local and colorful. It is beautiful and each bite is a new and different combination. You have the umami richness from the mushroom giving the dish this grounded fullness and then you’ll get a crunch of the cucumber and lightness from cilantro and then a crisp piece of kale or the chewiness of eggplant. And then there is the roasted tomatoes and arugula offering sweetness and bitterness. And there is cheese, of course there is cheese, adding that richness, that depth of flavor and decadence. Oh, and corn, there is corn, and peppers and all kinds of different ingredients I picked up on the farmer’s market on Saturday. If you don’t have all of these ingredients, just modify, if you do, or have even more, incorporate them.

 Portabella filled with Farmer’s Market Vegetables and a Cucumber-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

1 portabella mushroom
1 small red onion, diced
2 small peppers, sliced
1 small Japanese eggplant, sliced
1 ear of corn taken off the cob
A few stems, or about a cup of kale, stems removed
½ cup cooked quinoa
1 handful cilantro
1 handful arugula
1 lemon
sea salt & pepper
olive oil
Good, spicy salsa
cheese: I used jack and goat cheese

Cucumber-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

¼ cup cucumber, sliced into small pieces
1 big handful of cilantro, stems removed
¼ cup whole milk yogurt, I used Straus.
Sea salt & pepper
Lemon

Method:

First just prep all of the ingredients and turn the oven to 425.

Then heat up a cast iron on medium-high heat, sauté the onions and eggplant for a minute or two in olive oil, then add the peppers, corn, kale and quinoa. Add a drizzle of oil, salt & pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, cover and cook for several minutes.

Meanwhile wash the portabella, remove the middle stem, and drizzle the mushroom with olive oil, salt & pepper, and some lemon juice. Place the mushroom in a mini cast iron, or other small baking pan, and put it in the oven.

When the veggies are slightly browned, turn the heat off. Take the mushroom out of the oven and fill it with the veggies, not all of mine fit so I saved them as leftovers. Next, add a few dollops of salsa on top of the veggies, then add the diced cheese on top of the salsa. Finally, season with salt & pepper, add some tomatoes to the cast iron, and bake for about seven or so minutes.

While the mushroom bakes, make the cucumber-cilantro sauce. Just mix together the cucumber, cilantro, yogurt, salt & pepper and lemon juice.

During the last few minutes of baking, set the oven to broil. Add a handful of cilantro to the pan, and cook for just a minute or so, until the cheese is browned and the arugula is a little crispy and wilted.

I ate mine right out of the cast iron, topped with the yogurt sauce and plenty of extra cilantro for seasoning. I also added a few slices of avocado and a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice.

Enchiladas with Charred Green Onion, Jack and Goat Cheese

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These enchiladas might not really resemble enchiladas, but they were incredibly tasty. It really all came down to the fact that the tortillas were homemade. I get lazy sometimes to make my own tortillas, even though it takes just a few minutes, and taste way better. I’m reminded with dishes like these enchiladas that a simple recipe is always so much better when you make all the components.

Enchiladas with Charred Green Onion, Jack and Goat Cheese
8 homemade tortillas (you’ll need masa harina and a tortilla press)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 ear of corn removed from cob
1 handful green beans, chopped
¾ cup sliced grass-fed beef
Green onion, diced
Jack cheese
Goat cheese
Gruyere
Cilantro
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Whole-milk plain yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraiche

 Method:

Oven: 435. I use Bob’s Red Mill masa harina, just follow the instructions on the bag. Sauté the onion, squash, zucchini, corn and green beans on medium-high heat in olive oil. Season with salt & pepper, when some of the vegetables are slightly browned, remove them from the skillet. Next add the beef, I used a stir-fry cut, and cook until just seared on the outside. Mix the meat with the vegetables.

Cook the tortillas lightly first and then fill with the vegetable-meat mix. Spoon on big scoops of the salsa so that it coats the enchiladas and then top the salsa with sliced jack, a few dobs of goat cheese and a few slices of gruyere. Place the green onions on top and grind on a little salt & pepper

Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, and then broil until the cheese is browned. Top with cilantro and yogurt.

Salsa
1 heirloom tomato
1 small spicy colorful pepper
1 small onion
Several handfuls of cilantro
Salt & pepper
Lemon juice

Method:

Roughly chop the ingredients and then pulse them together in a food processor until uniform in size. If you’re without a processor, chop all of the ingredients nicely to make pico de gallo.