Tag Archives: salty and sweet

Sichuan Green Beans

Among other things, my mom instilled in me a deep love of Sichuan green beans. That sweet, spicy, sticky glaze sends me over the moon. I am sorry to be the one to tell you this (if you didn’t already know), but  most restaurant versions are deep fried. That doesn’t entirely cross it off my list, but I do sort of stop counting it as a “veggie” if it’s primary method of cooking is submersion in hot oil. Call me crazy.

Anywho, I found this recipe on Cooks for stir-fried Sichuan green beans and figured I’d give it a go. I edited it a bit, mostly to eliminate some ground pork. Not that pork wouldn’t be good, but I want a veggie dish. Plus, cutting out the pork, but keeping the sauce the same means that the beans are extra saucy and I like that. Boom

Here they are with an Asian cucumber salad and some of those frozen shrimp potstickers I chefed up awhile back:

  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T dry sherry (or vermouth, in a pinch)
  • 1 t sugar
  • ½ t cornstarch
  • ¼ t white pepper
  • ¼ t red pepper
  • ¼ t dry mustard
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T veggie oil
  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 scallions, white and green thinly sliced
  • 1 t toasted sesame oil
  1. Stir together soy sauce, sherry, sugar, cornstarch, white pepper, pepper flakes, mustard, and water until sugar dissolves; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot (just smoking). Add beans and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender and skins are shriveled and blackened in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. If beans darken too quickly, reduce heat to medium-high.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-high and add garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (~20 seconds). Stir sauce to recombine and add to pan. Toss and cook until sauce is thickened, 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Remove pan from heat and stir in scallions and sesame oil. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Green Chile Pork Tacos

Sigh. This is honestly one of my favorite dishes I have ever made in my whole life. SO delicious! Meaty and spicy and tangy and earthy and soft and crunchy. Basically, perfect. Also, easy. Hells bells!

Here’s the problem…I don’t really have a recipe, per se. More like some vague instructions. Still, it’s so easy, I don’t see how it can go wrong. It seems like a lot of steps, but it’s a lot of passive cooking and it literally made 20 tacos.

I’m breaking it down into 4 separate sections- pork, pickled red onions, sauce and tacos.

Pork

  • Slow cooker
  • Pork roast (needs to fit in slow cooker)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Veggie oil
  • Chicken broth
  • Roasted green chiles (I used hatch frozen)
  • Seasoning: Mexican oregano, Salt & Pepper, Flour
  • Yellow onion
  1. Get ~2 T veggie oil heating in large skillet over med-high. Meanwhile, trim the pork of outside fat. Pat dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with flour and pat in (about 2 Tablespoons). When oil is very hot, add pork and sear on all sides.
  2. While pork is searing, slice onion into thin half moons (pole to pole, then across). Place onions in bottom of slow cooker. When pork is seared, place on top. Add green chiles to taste (I used a full container of hot, so about a cup).
  3. Add enough chicken broth (or water + bouillon) to come 3/4 up roast. Smash and peel garlic, and add whole. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon mexican oregano. Put slow cooker on high for first hour, then cook on low for 6-8 hours. The meat should fall apart.
  4. Remove meat from pot, cover and set aside. When cool enough, strain remaining solids (onion, chiles, garlic) from liquid and set aside for sauce.
  5. Defat liquid by placing in fridge and removing top fat when cool OR by using a fat separator.  Place remaining liquid in small pot and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until reduced to ~1/3-1/2 cup.
  6. Meanwhile, shred meat with two forks or fingers. When liquid is reduced, stir into pork and set mixture aside.

Pickled red onions

  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and cut into rings (OPTIONAL)
  1. Thinly slice onions into half moons and place in medium, heat-proof bowl.
  2. Bring vinegar, sugar, salt and optional jalapeno to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When boiling and sugar fully dissolved, remove from heat and pour over onions.
  3. Stir to combine and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in fridge for 30-60 minutes. Strain liquid and reserve onions.

Green chile sauce

  • Reserved solids from pork
  • Honey
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Blend reserved solids in blender until smooth. If too thick, add a bit of water.
  2. Add ~1-2 teaspoons honey (you can always add more later, but you can’t take it back) and salt and pepper to taste. It should be spicy and creamy.
  3. With blender running, slowly drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to emulsify.

Tacos

  • Corn tortillas
  • Green chile pork
  • Creamy green chile sauce
  • Sweet, sour and spicy pickled red onions
  • Optional: cilantro, feta or cotija cheese, shredded carrots and/or cabbage
  1. Warm corn tortillas over gas burner until slightly charred or wrapped in foil in 350 degree oven.
  2. Place pork in tortilla. Top with pickled onions, green chile sauce and optional toppings. I don’t have a picture of it, but I LOVE it with carrots, so don’t discount that.
  3. Eat!

Granola

This is a new kitchen staple and I thought it was time to share it with the world. Right? I’ve adapted and adaptation of (I think) and adaptation of an Ina G recipe. I like mine a little less sweet and with a LOT of nuts, but you can do whatever you like. That’s the beauty of these infinitely adaptable granola recipes (see also chewy granola bars). Here’s how I eat mine:

  • Mix a grated golden delicious apple with Greek yogurt and serve with ~1/4 C granola
  • Layer cut up nectarine with 1/4 C granola, top with keffir
  • Sprinkle a bit over vanilla ice cream

It is just so good. I keep it in a tupperware on the counter with a 1/4 C scoop in the container and we just work away at it. I’d estimate that a batch lasts us 2-3 weeks, so I often just half it. Including the FULL recipe below, so feel free to cut in half or tweak as you see fit. Try it!

  • 4 Cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 Cups similar-sized nuts (I use chopped almonds and pecans)
  • 1/2 Cup veggie oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup honey (I use somewhere in between)
  • 2 Cups similar-sized fruit (I use dried cherries, yellow raisins and diced apricots)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup toasted coconut (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and adjust rack to lower middle position
  2. Toss oats, nuts, oil, honey, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Setting bowl aside, pour into a sheet or jelly roll pan and back in oven, turning regularly (every 10 min or so) for 20-40 minutes. Note: I know that’s a big difference, but it just depends on your oven and how toasty you like. This is not the recipe that you can pop in and forget. Just keep an eye on it, ok?
  3. Let granola cool slightly and pour back into bowl. Add dried fruit and coconut and toss. At this point, if you want it sweeter or saltier or toastier, you can adjust as needed and just pop it back in the oven for 5 minutes
  4. Let cool and then store in an airtight container

Turtle brownies

I just made 3 humongous pans of turtle brownies for my niece’s wedding and they were seriously yummy.  Let me be clear, I did NOT make homemade brownies. I only believe in homemade brownies if someone else is making them. Otherwise, I believe in a) Ina Garten’s brownie mix, b) Ghiradelli’s brownie mix, or c) Trader Joe’s truffle brownie mix. Let some other superstar baker spend their time making something that is only marginally more delicious than a mix, but far more time consuming. If you disagree, try to convince me with samples of your homemade goodies. I will try to remain open-minded.

On to the goodness, I adapted a recipe from the Joy of Baking that transformed my Ghiradelli mix into a salty, chewy, sweet, crunchy brownie delight.  Use the following topping on any brownie recipe you like, but try to make the brownie on the thinner side. Just use the largest pan option given (I used 13×9).

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

5 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups pecan halves, well toasted and salted**

  1. Prep ingredients while brownies bake. You should start the process the minute you pull the brownies out of the oven.
  2. In a three quart heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Once it boils, stop stirring and cook the mixture until it turns a golden caramel color, about 10 – 12 minutes. (Swirl the pan as needed so the caramel cooks evenly.)
  4. Remove from heat and carefully add the cream and vanilla (the mixture will sputter and steam so be careful). Stir in the pecans and immediately pour over the still warm brownie layer, spreading evenly.
  5. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate brownies for 2-3 hours until the brownies are firm.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toss 2 C pecan halves with 1/4 C veggie oil or melted butter. Roast on low heat, stirring every 30 minutes for about 90 minutes, or until dark and toasty. Immediately sprinkle with salt (~1-2 T).

Pickled Asian cucumbers

This is one of my all-time favorite staples. It’s fast, easy, delicious and adaptable. I love it as a side (cut the cucumbers fatter and add red onion), as a slaw (cut the cucumbers into matchsticks), as a little accompaniment, and as a topping for sandwiches

  • 1  English/hothouse/seedless cucumber (I wish they would just pick one name and stick with it)
  • 4  Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Those are the only essential ingredients. Now, here’s where the creativity begins. Peel or don’t peel the cucumber. Slice it thick or thin. Mix 1/4 t cayenne and 1/2 t sugar into the vinegar for a spicier “pickle.” Add thinly or thickly sliced onion. Who cares? Have fun. Just prep your cucumber, add the ingredients, mix it up and set it aside for about 30 minutes minimum. It keeps beautifully, although you may need to strain a bit of the liquid off (cucumbers release water when combined with salt).  One of my hubby’s favorites.

Salty Redneck Toffee

There are so many versions of this recipe floating out there in cyberspace, that I can’t even begin to imagine who to credit for this insanely delicious/addictive treat. A lot of recipes use Matzoh and I have served that during Passover. My favorite version, however, is with Saltines. Lordy, lordy.

Approximately 40 Saltine crackers (enough to cover one rimmed baking sheet)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted sliced almonds
Extra kosher salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit. A pain, but it will be worth it when you end up with foil-less crackers

Fully line the bottom of the baking sheet with Saltines, covering all parts. You may need to cut crackers to fill gaps- it’s better if they don’t overlap.

In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla. Quickly pour it over the crackers and spread evenly. Be ready to move quickly here, because it starts to set FAST.

Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. Reduce the heat by 15 degrees if this starts to happen.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel with an offset spatula. Occasionally my chocolate chips got wonky and wouldn’t spread right. I just put the whole tray back in the off (but warm) oven for 3 minutes and it melted better.

Sprinkle chocolate-covered caramel crackers with your toasted nuts and then a bit of Kosher salt. Not much salt, as the Saltines are already pretty salty. God help you if you used salted butter too.

Set aside to cool. You may want to do this in another room of the house, outside or in the fridge. My kitchen gets too hot for anything to actually “cool.” Break it into pieces (Saltines break nicely) and store it in a container.