Grilled fish and leeks with citrus salad
Normally, I write about all of the things I make on the trip; however, since getting Covid I have not been as motivated to cook. Matt took the reins for a while, which I truly appreciated. ❤️ Matt picked out a refreshing fish dish, which is great for a hot summer day since the only cooking required is on the grill. In addition to this recipe having a great combination of flavors, the list of ingredients is small, it is simple to put together, and it doesn’t take a long time to prepare. And, for once, we are not cooking salmon. 😂
I’m not the biggest fan of swordfish, so we picked up some mahi instead, and I bought both navel and blood oranges for a little variation in color and taste. The richness of the fish, contrasted with the brightness of the oranges, tanginess from the olives and vinegar, and herbaceous zip from the dill were brought together with the aromatic charred leeks. We loved how this all came together and think you will too.
When we visited my folks during the winter holidays last year, my mom shared some of her canned goods to take with us, one of which was canned venison stew meat. Matt never had this before, and thought a bolognese would be an ideal way to try it. I found this Food and Wine recipe, and decided to give it a go.
I halved the recipe, since we had a pint jar of venison, which is around 1 lb. It’s not ground meat, but it’s very tender, so I broke up the meat as I cooked off most of the excess moisture. We had spiral pasta (fusilli bucati) on hand, which worked well. Since the venison was already tender, I only cooked the sauce for about 30 minutes instead of 1 1/2 hours, and that was still sufficient time to develop plenty of flavor.
If you love venison or are curious about trying it for the first time, this is a fabulous way to prepare it. You can’t go wrong with a mirepoix base (celery, carrots and onion), a red wine reduction, herbaceous notes from the bay leaf and oregano, and a creamy finish with the addition of butter and parmesan. They all add a little something to the flavor party, making this a dynamic sauce and some of our favorite leftovers. 😋
Creamy chicken and kamut casserole
In my continued quest to experiment with different types of whole grains, another grain I wanted to try was kamut, a species of wheat called khorasan with grains twice the size of modern-day wheat. In searching for recipes, I did not find very many; however, there are so many wheat-based grains to choose from that I think you could easily substitute one for another and simply adjust cooking times.
This casserole caught my eye because it incorporates collard greens and bell pepper, but has a creamy element with the addition of a small amount of milk and flour, and a toasty cheesy topping to round out the dish. To cook the kamut I used my instant pot, a 3 to 1 ratio of water to grains, a pinch of salt and set the pressure cooker on high for 45 minutes. During that time I prepared the rest of the dish, which came together quickly, and by the time I needed to add the kamut to the casserole, it was ready to incorporate.
Because everything is already cooked and you are just looking to brown the top cheese layer, I used the broiler function in my oven. However, the broiler took a while, so I left the casserole in the oven for about 20 minutes. If you are going to use your broiler, I recommend setting a timer at 5 minute intervals to ensure you don’t scorch the top. Oven broilers vary, and you don’t want to risk an oven fire or wrecking your meal.
Matt loved this dish, and for me it felt like a guilty pleasure with its cheesy top layer and creamy consistency. The flavors worked very well together, and the whole grains and vegetables satiated me as well, so I wasn’t left feeling the need to snack after dinner. 😋👍
Blueberry buttermilk chess pie
Matt and I were going to visit Beth and Roy, whom we met in Savannah. They invited us over for dinner once we arrived in Portland, Maine, and we simply could not come empty handed. I was inspired to try this recipe, having never made a chess pie before. The supposed reason it’s called “chess pie” is because someone misheard another person who had said “just pie” and the name stuck. It’s a custard based pie, and this one was dressed up with buttermilk, blueberries, vanilla and orange zest.
Because I had to pre-bake a pie shell and didn’t bring pie weights with me, I improvised. I was going to line the inside of the pie with foil anyway, so I found medium sized flat rocks outside, washed them, and covered the bottom of the pie with them. It worked great! The resulting pie had delicate textures and flavors, and received rave reviews. 😍 If you like custard pies and are in dire need of a creative use for your blueberries, give this one a try. 🫐
Grilled gochujang pork shoulder and bibimbop bowls
Matt bought a pork shoulder roast a while back and stuck it in the freezer, but recently we needed to free up freezer space for other things. I get daily emails from Food and Wine, Bon Appetit and Epicurious, one of which was a lengthy list of pork recipes. I LOVE gochujang (fermented chili paste), so this grilled gochujang pork shoulder steaks recipe was perfect. Once my marinade was blended, I reserved some of it as a dipping sauce for later. After Matt cut the pork shoulder into 3/4 inch steaks per the recipe, we let the steaks soak up the marinade in a covered bowl in our refrigerator while we went out for the afternoon.
I always want to balance out a hefty portion of meat with some veg, so this vegetable bibimbop recipe was a great complement to the pork. Matt doesn’t like bean sprouts and I don’t like mushrooms, so I substituted radish and wakame seaweed. In addition to garlic and sesame oil, I added 1 1/4 teaspoons of gochujang as a stir fry sauce to the veggies. Pulling it all together, I used some short grain Japanese rice, and dressed the bowls with all of the bibimbop components, adding some of the reserved marinade for the pork to provide a bit of heat to the dish.
It was a big meal, but everything tasted wonderful! If I were to make it again, my only change would be to add a hint of salt to the spinach. However, if you mix everything together before you eat it, then you likely won’t need that extra bit of salt since the dipping sauce, pork, and seaweed all have plenty. The creamy egg contrasted well with the sauce, and the rice added great texture to the party. Though each component takes a bit of individual attention, this is a wonderful combo and gets 4 thumbs up from Matt and I. 😋👍👍👍👍