Okay, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I don’t want you to think this is a “food blog” because then you would automatically assume two things.
1) That I am a good cook.
2) That I can take fancy color saturated photos of the all gorgeous and fussy food I make.
Both of the above are untrue. My cooking is okay, I am in the process of learning, and I am taking pictures on my iPhone. I will not Photoshop them. I’m no Martha, I’m no Betty, I’m no Julia, I’m no Rachel, or for that matter, any of those kitchen queens who intimidated me out of the kitchen in the first place, I’m just a mother-of-two living in an Iron Chef world, trying to get some decent food in my family’s stomach while resisting every temptation to have it delivered in.
I don’t know what a ceviche is or even how to spell it but I know it exists because they talk about it on Top Chef.
I am from the landlocked Midwest. This means I like food that is simple and chances are it won’t include fish. But do not let “simple” means bland. I like flavor, baby.
So, if it isn’t a food blog and it isn’t pretty pictures of food, what is this series? This is Sunday in the kitchen with Sharon. It’s me in my pajamas, unplugging from 2012, slowly making food for my family and reclaiming “domestic” from people who have made it way too fussy.
I will not decoupage. But I do own an immersion blender and I will pull it out if you make me.
Here’s what we’re doing: I am cooking other people’s recipes (and I will give credit). Every blue moon I will create my own food (I have one for you today. So delicious. So simple. You won’t believe it.) Let’s get going.
GOALS FOR SLOW COOK SUNDAY
WHAT: To make food for the whole week using as many similar ingredients as possible. This should include (but is
not limited to):
1) Food that can be divided in half to freeze half.
2) Food that with minimal adjustment makes a good lunch (usually a roasted meat for sandwiches).
3) Seasonal foods.
4) Food that is healthy and Weight Watcher’s friendly***
***Quick business disclaimer: I write a blog for Weight Watchers and under contract I can not post a recipe with assigned PointsPlus values, so don’t expect me to do that. Can’t. Not allowed. I can link to a recipe on the WW website (I will do that this week) but know that I frequently doctor their recipes a smidge for extra flavor, so thePointsPlusvalues listed on their site might change. This is not a Weight Watchers blog post. Please sign your understanding here X___________. Thank you.***
WHO: Just me, Chef Sharon, although I will occasionally have a 4-year-old helper, Beatrix, (an excellent egg cracker) or spouse Rob Meffe who will prepare a bird for roasting (it literally makes me gag), or14-year-old Charlotte who might pop in and stir or chop depending on her Facebook and Skype social schedule.
WHERE: In my kitchen with food from Trader Joe’s, Stew Leonards and my closest grocery store, a quasi-seedy joint called Fine Fair that has all my last minute needs.
WHEN: Sundays, all day.
HOW: Football on, Pandora Radio going, pumpkin candle lit. The kids are playing with Charlotte’s old Playmobile (any time her big sister will play with her, Beatrix is thrilled). Rob is doing orchestrations and is still in his pajamas at 3:17pm, which is a WIN in my book, because the man works too hard and needs to relax. I know he’s working, but there is something about working in pajamas with football on that seems better. A big part of Slow Cook Sunday is general family time and attention to needs–emotional and domestic (which includes laundry).
Today I started cooking, as all real cooks do, by making lunch. BLTs, carrot ginger soup and sauteed apples. Let’s face it, it’s October and every Sunday in October should involve some kind of apple recipe. I bought a bag of macintosh apples, sliced them, peeled them, and sauteed them in a pan with PAM and butter and cinnamon. Simple. Aromatic. Delicious. Basically the inside of an apple pie without the fattening crust. I hear adding a packet of cinnamon oatmeal and a little water turns it into a quick and low cal cobbler. Next time, next time.
Now that everyone is full
I cleaned the kitchen Rob cleaned the kitchen and I got everything ready for the all day cook.
Here’s the menu for the day and it is all thanks to my pals on Facebook who listed recipe options. Bonus points to my Dad’s side of the family who showed up all over Facebook and in my e-mail inbox with recipes. Go Wheatley! (None of them have the Wheatley name because my Dad is the only boy, but still, you get my drift.)
This is only a select few of the recipes sent and I chose recipes based on A) what had common ingredients. B) what sounded good, and C) what would give us a great variety for the week.
Here we go.
Cathy Creason’s Pork Roast
Weight Watchers Layered Mexican Chicken Casserole
Brian Myers Cooper’s Tuscan Ribollita
Sarah Uriarte Berry’s Kale Salad
Possible additions: Some Zucchini Bread from The Reluctant Domestic just because I love the name of her blog and this is zucchini season.
First let’s talk about the roast.
1) Cathy Creason, one of my theater teachers from high school and a dear friend showed up with the most complete package that starts with roasting pork and takes into consideration Rob Meffe’s sandwich needs. He voted, she won. Just to give you an idea of how complete she was, check out her FB post.
1. Do y’all eat pork? You could bake a pork roast (fairly low in fat – I won’t mention the nitrates) and serve it with brown rice and a salad or green veg. Later in the week, serve slices topped with an apple/onion compote (use PAM in which to saute this) with a cauliflower mash. Rob, the Sandwich Man, could go Cuban with a slice by adding ham (also nitrate-filled, but “turkey ham” is no better as lunchmeats go), swiss, and a smear of spicy mustard (add dill pickle slices for Creason style). Then turn the leftovers into pulled pork by adding some sort of WW-friendly sauce.
2. Buy a couple of chickens to bake (or save time and get some from the rotisserie at your store). First meal: baked chicken. Leftovers for Rob’s sliced chicken breast sandwich. Throw the carcasses in your great big freezer to make stock later for soups.
I e-mailed her for the details, especially the hows of roasting a pork. This is what I got.
CATHY CREASON’S PORK ROAST (this is easy; Beatrix could do it)
As with any meat, remove from frig about an hour before you pop it in the oven to bring it to room temp.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (the secret to moist pork roast is a slow oven; these are also great in the crockpot….if you go that way, cook on low for 8 hours).
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1.5 teaspoons dried rosemary…measure it out in your hand and then take your fingers and rub it around in your palm to release the oils)
IF YOU DON’T HAVE ROSEMARY, SUB ANOTHER HERB (same amount fresh/dried) LIKE THYME OR OREGANO.
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I like a lot, but you might not)
Rub this all over the meat.
Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan, and put it in the oven. (If you don’t have a pan with a rack, you can simulate that by crumpling up some aluminum foil in the bottom of your pan. This will raise the roast off the bottom of your pan and allow the heat to circulate all around that puppy).
Roast at 20 minutes per lb., or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the roast reads 145 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you don’t have a meat thermometer….and I don’t….you will be fine. I’d roast a 3.25 piece of meat for about 1 hour and 10 minutes). Just make sure you’ve preheated your oven to 300 degrees).
Remove the roast from the oven, and cover it with aluminum foil. Place the roast on a cutting board, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. The roast will continue to cook, and at the end of 15 minutes, it will reach an internal temp of 160 degrees…the recommendation for pork).
Slice, serve, and enjoy!
I love that right off the bat she says it’s so easy that Beatrix could make it, but then floors me by saying the meat should sit out an hour prior to roasting to get to room temperature. I HAD NO IDEA. Does everyone know that? I have such a long way to go as a cook.
Creason also sent along a little compote recipe, which I didn’t make but I will include for you.
I serve pork with this. Full of flavor. It’s good with or without the butter. Or use PAM…just use plenty and watch it to make sure it doesn’t stick.
APPLE and SWEET ONION COMPOTE
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 medium sweet onions, sliced lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch half-rounds
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1.5 teaspoons dried thyme)
1.5 teaspoons of white sugar (helps with the carmelization)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 or 4 large tart apples (like Granny Smith….the bright solid green ones), peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
1/2 cup chicken stock
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
Melt the oil and butter in a large skillet or saute pan on medium-high heat. When the butter begins to sizzle, add the sliced onions and cook, tossing occasionally, until they just begin to soften and color a little bit (about 5 minutes). Watch the pan, and move the onions around some so that they don’t stick and burn (especially if you are using only PAM).
Add the thyme, sugar and salt and toss together well. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium, and let the compote
sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the apple slices, mix well and add chicken stock. Cook, shaking the pan a bit, until the apples just soften and the juices reduce almost completely. Add a few grinds of pepper and touch of salt, if needed. Keep warm until serving. (I sometimes take a potato masher and smash up the apples).
Makes about 2 cups.
Our grand plan for this pork is Cuban sandwiches all week, so if you are doing this be sure to add sliced pickle and swiss cheese (or lite Jarelsburg) to your shopping list along with the mustard of your choice and some lean ham slices. Toast or grill the bread and voila, much better than a Cuban cigar.
While the roast was in the oven I put together Brian’s Tuscan Ribollita soup? Stew? What is it? The link to his recipe is HERE and follow his instructions to the letter because he is a genius cook. It’s a great way to eat kale without feeling like I’M EATING KALE. It also has cabbage and fennel and other ingredients you see in the supermarket as you reach for your usual baby carrots and bag of baby spinach and think I wonder who buys that stuff. My husband loves this soup. Loves, loves. Great flavor, interesting, hearty and designed to re-heat as a left over (the word ribollita means reboiled). Thanks to Brian.
Once I had the soup going I focused on the Weight Watchers layered Chicken casserole (thanks to Pauline Frommer, fellow Weight Watcher’s blogger and friend. You can find her HERE). I will give you the recipe (which I changed) and tell you the rest of the days cooking activities tomorrow because this blog post is getting too long! Plus, I will give you my arugula bread salad recipe which is possibly the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. That is only a slight exaggeration. Seriously, so easy, so delicious, it’s a new salad you’ll love. I’ve had it 3 times in 2 days.
Slow Cook Sunday continues tomorrow.