pork and sweet potato stew

Sometimes my brain hurts.  This week my brain hurts 'cause I'm tired... but it's for a good reason.
It's pretty sunny here this week.  That's a good thing.  I've been able to run and cycle easily throughout the work week.  That's helped my brain hurt a little less.  Really.
It does kinda keep my sane.

I also got to go to a Sara Bareilles show down at the Phoenix this week.  Jeez, it was rad to see GOOD live music.  She was fab.  Seriously.  Songs all sounded great live.  She's a fantastic musician and her voice was in great form.  The Toronto crowd was .... get ready for it... seriously into it!!!  I know.  Who would've guessed that.
Funny story though.  Here's how long it's been since I've gone to something like this (at least a show where I'm not backstage 'cause D is performing).  Tickets read 7pm.  I thought, 'Cool, they know it's a work night and we'll get the show going and then be out of there by about 9'.  D then told me I was in lala land.  Why?
1.  The doors open at 7pm, the show doesn't start at 7pm.
2.  There will always be at least one opening band (in this case 2)
3.  The main show won't start until 9:30 - 9:45.
4.  If you are not willing to go early and line up then you will be standing (didn't care about that, would rather stand anyway)
Well, duh... how naive was I.
There I was at 9:40 texting D to tell him that he was exactly right.  I felt dumb and old (mmmk, not THAT old) but I didn't let it stop me from thoroughly enjoying every second.  I stayed out that night later than I wanted to.  I've felt tired since but haven't regretted it for a second 'cause it was just what I needed.  If you get a chance in the next little while, do something for you that you haven't done in a long time.  Something that even though it might take a little more effort than normal will give you some true and deep pleasure.  My only regret?   That I can't go and see Kate Nash playing in the same place 5 days from now... Jeez, when it rains...
All this really has nothing to do with the food.  I just couldn't make my food on my normal 'cooking' day because I went out, had fun and blew it off.  The stew is good.  Very good.  It's been a hit and I'm glad 'cause I might've felt bad if it sucked... just maybe ;-)

Pork and Sweet Potato Stew adapted from the milk calendar '10
serves 4

1 lb pork (or beef, or...) cut into chunks or strips
1 onion cut into large chunks
1 green pepper, sliced chunky
1 rib of celery, cut in chunks
2 med (about 3 cups) sweet potato, partially peeled and cut into chunks
2 tsp each (or so - that's how I cook Peeps) cinnamon, cumin, ginger, coriander,  saffron
2 tbsp honey
2 - 3 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups milk
1 cup (scant) broth
salt, to taste

1.  Heat large pot.  Over medium heat, add oil (use leftover fat or butter).  Add veggies (including the sweet potato) to cook for a few minutes.
2.  Once the veggies have cooked down a little (about 5 - 7 minutes) add in the sliced meat.  Cook for about 8 minutes together.
3.  Turning the heat down a bit to low or med/low, add in the spices, honey and tomato paste.  Mix everything well.
4.  Add in the milk and the broth.  Cook over low heat for about 30 min.
5.  Check the tastes and adjust as necessary.


I feel a little bit like celebrating... just a little bit!
I haven't been baking much this week.  I kinda blew off my cooking/baking night to do something fun (yeah - whatever.  I'm not perfect all the time) and time just got away from me.  It's was a lot of fun though, did I mention that?
A post or two ago I was talking about my BF KT going through some serious medical crap and being worried but trying not to and all that.  I'm happy to report that her most recent medical experience has resulted in some good decisions regarding what her next steps should be and we're all pretty happy with that.  Sometimes just having somebody tell you what the next step should be is a huge relief, even if it's hard to take the step.  I'm just glad to get some momentum forward.  So, I'm breathing a little freer this afternoon.
Also, the weekend is a day closer.  I'm over the hardest bit of the week and feel no small amount of relief over that too.
Thirdly, it's been sunny and warm (for the middle of November at least) here in T.O.  That feels good.
 I feel a little bit like celebrating.  I was going to celebrate by making another recipe from the Ottolenghi cookbook but I got kinda sidetracked because it called for a pan that I don't seem to have.  Well, two pans actually and I only have one.  (Jeez, who has two of anything except underwear.  Really!)  So, I kinda ditched that plan in favour of another - Brownies.  I still tried the recipe in the Ottolenghi book.  It's good.  And, I made sure not to over bake them 'cause I like 'em gooey.

You could feel free to add some toasted Macadamia or Walnuts but I threw in no small amount of white chocolate and called it a day.  These are easy and bake up quickly and were a great middle of the week celebration.

Brownies (adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook)

200 g unsalted butter (just under 1 cup)
280 g all-purpose flour (just under 2 1/3 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
300g dark chocolate, in pieces (about 1 3/4 cup)
2 lg eggs
220g sugar (about 1 1/3 cup)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp instant coffee
200g white chocolate, in chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 22 cm baking pan.
Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over lightly simmering water.  Make sure it doesn't get too hot and that no water gets into it.  Once it's all melted, take it off the water and set aside.
In a bowl combine the flour and salt.  Set aside.
In another bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Once whisked together, add in the vanilla and coffee.  Add the chocolate/butter mixture.   Mix well but don't over beat.

Add in the flour mixture and combine.  Once mixed, add in the white chocolate and mix them in.  Pour into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for about 22 - 25 min.
Cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan.

Cauliflower, Cumin Fritters

Recently, I bought a book.  It's a cookbook.  It's called 'Ottolenghi: The Cookbook'.  No fuss, no muss.  I discovered that this cookbook has interesting vegetable recipes in it.  Oddly enough, I'm always looking for interesting vegetable recipes.  This is an interesting coincidence. 
I had Cauliflower waiting, asking... begging to be used.  What could I do with my head of cauliflower?  I thought to myself though, 'How many times can you make Cauliflower Cheese?'  Well, Ottolenghi has thought of that too and in the pages of the book I found this recipe for something interesting to do with Cauliflower.  How amazing. 

Please don't think that I'm hatin' on Cauliflower Cheese.  Because I'm not.  Cauliflower Cheese is proof to me that God exists.  It's amazing stuff.  Sticks to the ribs, brings life to dry bones, etc.  BUT when you've had some cauliflower cheese a little can go a long way. 
Well, this recipe is charming, it's easy, it's tasty, it's different and it can easily go in a lunchbox and be eaten at room temperature.  A lot of the recipes in the book are recommended at room temp.  In fact, they (in Ottolenghi-land) believe that all food tastes better at room temperature or heated - not cold.  Interesting. 
So if, like me, you are looking for something interesting to do with cauliflower AND maybe are looking for something that you could put in a lunchbox (or picnic basket, or car ride, or....) then maybe this is just the recipe for you to try too.

Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters
makes about 12

1 medium/small cauliflower
120 g all-purpose flour
3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 cloves garlic, crushed
2 shallots (I used on onion), finely chopped
4 lg eggs
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Oil for frying (I used canola or something)

Remove leaves and stem from cauliflower.  Break the cauliflower into pieces and boil in salted water for about 25 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Cut up any pieces that are big.
Heat a large frying pan.
In a large bowl combine the flour, spices, parsley, onion and garlic.  Mix well
Add in the eggs and mix it well until well incorporated.  Add in the cauliflower and mix until everything is looking well blended.

Add some oil to the heated frying pan.  Drop batter but 1/3 - 1/2 cups onto the frying pan.  Let each side brown for about 3 - 4 minutes.
Drain on a cloth if needed.  Serve hot or room temperature.

Kinda-sorta Moroccan-inspired Chicken

These are exciting times, my peeps.  Not always the best but definitely exciting.
D has just returned from a short but exciting trip to Copenhagen.  One of the groups that he is with, Kobo Town, opened a World Music Industry Festival called Womex.  All seems to have gone well and it looks like D is going to be on the road quite a bit next year.  All over the UK, Europe and the US... that's it so far but who knows.
My 'Sister-from-another-mother' is dealing with the recent and sudden loss of her own Mother.  She's far away in London and I can't be with her right now.
My BFF KT is impatiently dealing with recent health issues and I'm trying to be supportive and positive and not show her that I'm worried too.  I know everything is going to be all right but I want to KNOW that everything will be all right, if you know what I mean.

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and would love to stay home all day and cook and clean, which sounds dumb.  There's an almost 'bury-your-head-in-the-sand' kind of quality about it for me.  I'm trying to keep focused and 'get-it-done' but I'll be honest, it catches up with me once in a while.  I had told myself that I was done my cooking and baking for the week when I made my Apple Sauce Cake and the Cabbage Stew.  Hell, even the cake was unplanned!  Then D took a chicken out of the freezer and there it was thawing on the counter.  I have learned a little in 15 or so years with D.  His intentions are great when it comes to cooking AND he's damn good at it too... not always so organised though.  So when the chicken came out, I kinda had a hunch that I'd be doing something with the chicken before it went bad and not him.  Now, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that I only left it in the fridge for two days before I got on it and just maybe he would've gotten to it on day 3 and there I would've been feeling all dumb...
It's done now.  I tried something kinda new, kinda with this Harissa Paste stuff that I picked up

and that I'd kinda been wondering about.  I threw it together rather than having time to really think it through.  I used too much cayenne and it's kinda hot but not overwhelmingly so but I'll adjust it for your recipe.  Generally though, I like it.  it's kinda exciting.  You'll notice though by way of the pics that I got kinda uninspired when it came to the grain.  I literally put some boiling water over some coucous and let it steam in a covered bowl for five min.  Ok... there it is!

Moroccan inspired Chicken.  Sorta.
serves 4 - 6

1 whole chicken, cut into about 8 or 9 pieces
1 med onion
1 1/2 med zucchini, cut into biggish chunks
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
4 cups chard, sliced or diced small
3 tbsp Harissa paste
3 cups broth
2 tbsp cumin
2 - 3 tbsp sugar or honey (I used honey)
2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp turmeric
dash of salt and cayenne

Brown the chicken in a large, hot Dutch oven.  Use some good grease for this.  If the pot is hot enough then it won't stick.  Once it's browned and cooked a bit then take the pieces out and set aside.
Turn the heat down to med/low.  In the same pot, using the oil and everything, cook the veggies just until the onions are see through and wilted.  Add the chicken back in.  Add the broth, spices and honey/sugar, leaving the out cayenne.  Mix well and let it simmer for a good 40 minutes or so (even longer if you can).  Check the tastes and add cayenne dashes at a time - test after each addition just to make sure.

I think that if you had some dried apricots or something that might go nicely in this at the very end too.
Serve with rice or couscous.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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