Cooking on the Road: Second Edition

My first few posts on cooking have been popular, so I’m sharing more of my culinary projects.  When cooking, my quest is always to use up items we already have so that I’m not wasting any food.  With autumn setting in and colder weather to contend with, I was pretty giddy about these delectable offerings.  Autumn is one of my favorite seasons.  The rains begin, the air turns crisp, the leaves change color and most everyone and everything starts prepping to hunker down for winter.  Soups are one of my favorite foods, so within this selection of recipes are some of my go-to dishes.  Enjoy! 😍

Chicken curry with rice:

After discovering there were more recipes related to the Half Baked Harvest cookbook by Tieghan Gerard online, I decided to try out another one of her recipes: Spicy Coconut Basil Chicken Curry with Garden Vegetables.  I was craving curry, but wanted something with a nice balance of vegetables and protein that I could serve over rice.  Matt doesn’t like that much heat, so I backed off the amount of cayenne the recipe called for, opting for 1/8-1/4 teaspoon.  Otherwise, I left the recipe as is, think it had balanced flavor, and I would make it again.  

Pork ramen:

This combination of recipes was the culmination of needing something for hot weather and then using the leftovers to make ramen during the colder, rainy days.  It turns out that this plan spanned three states!  We bought pork shoulder while we were still in Dubois, WY in preparation for making carnitas during our stay at Bruneau Dunes, ID, where it was going to be hot, and then made ramen while in Wallowa, OR.  I found this instant pot recipe for carnitas, and it turned out to be a great option for making tacos and burritos.  Just add in whatever veg or starch you desire to supplement your meal.  We had pickled radishes, cilantro, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and Pico de Gallo (salsa) and those all worked well with the carnitas.

I saved 3/4 pound of carnitas and the broth from the instant pot, skimming the hardened fat off the top before mixing it with chicken stock.  I started with this base recipe for pork ramen, and added 2 baby bok choy, 1 large carrot, 1 tablespoon ginger paste, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 pinches of crushed red pepper in lieu of sriracha, and substituted chives for green onion since I already had chives that needed to be used. I had noodles left over from another recipe and added them until I reached our preferred level of starch. You can also use instant ramen and toss the spice packet. Finally, I garnished the ramen with soft boiled eggs and cilantro.  The stock base from the instant pot added that umami taste you search for when eating a delicious ramen, so the broth required no additional seasoning.  This recipe with my modifications was a success, so give it a try if you are going from taco Tuesday to a cold front and want something to to warm you from the inside out.

Salmon puttanesca:

Another cookbook Matt bought me for Christmas is The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen by Samantha Ferraro.  My favorite part about this book are the one pot dishes, which are all delicious and easy to put together.  The very first meal we made in our travel trailer back in April was salmon puttanesca from this publication.  It is now one of Matt’s favorites, is quick and easy if you have the key ingredients, which I always keep on hand: tomato sauce, Kalamata olives, anchovies, and capers.  The only modification I make is adding the entire can of tomato sauce instead of tossing 1/3 of it.  Extra sauce never hurt anyone.  We purchased the salmon in Columbia Falls at the Flathead Fish & Seafood market and this was a perfect use for it.  It’s bursting with flavor, tangy and tart, and complements the salmon well.

Red Lentil Soup with North African Spices:

Pulling from the soup section of The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, I used the remaining red lentils in my pantry and supplemented with an autumn blend of lentils I found in the supermarket while in La Grande, OR.  They didn’t have red lentils, so I gave this blend a chance and it worked out beautifully.  The firmer lentils in the blend gave the soup a little more texture without being too dense.  I garnished with cilantro, paprika and cumin.  It’s a simple, yet flavorful soup that I highly recommend.  I have made it several times and it is one of our go-to meals for cooler weather.

Spiced Fava Bean Soup:

Another one of our favorite soups from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen utilizes dried Fava beans.  The recipe has you cook the beans for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, so I cut this time significantly by soaking the beans for a minimum of 8 hours, and using the instant pot to cook them for 8-12 minutes.  Prior to pressure cooking, I sautéed the onion, salt, pepper, and added in the garlic and spices, soaked Fava beans.  I cut the added liquid from 8 cups to 5 cups for a looser consistency of soup that still thickens nicely as it cools.  

To garnish, I toasted some pine nuts with paprika and cumin, then added this on top with a little swig of olive oil and some cilantro…not altogether that different a garnish than the red lentil soup, which has a similar flavor profile but a different texture.  You can’t go wrong with either one.  

I hope you have enjoyed the second edition of cooking on the road.  My cooking projects never cease, so I will be sure to share more as I gather recipes.  Happy cooking everyone! 

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