Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fig-Balsamic Jam

A few weeks ago, I managed to find fresh figs at Trader Joe's for only $2 a pound!  I quickly snapped up four pounds, and used half of the figs to make this fantastic jam.  Since it doesn't use pectin, it's not overly sweet, and the balsamic vinegar adds a lovely acidic element.  This jam is fantastic with cheese and crackers - here, I served it with a creamy blue cheese, and the two were a perfect pairing.  But, it's not just good in savory bites - I've also enjoyed it on toast and in a plain old PB&J.  This is one jam I may be keeping all for myself rather than giving it's that good!

Fig-Balsamic Jam (adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, via Authentic Suburban Gourmet and The Gingersnap Girl)
Makes 4 half pint jars

2 pounds fresh figs, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T lemon juice

1. Combine the figs, sugar, and vinegar in a large pot (use the biggest you've got for jam-making so you don't risk boiling over).  Bring to a simmer, and then reduce heat to medium low, maintaining a gentle simmer and stirring often.  Continue to simmer and stir until the jam thickens and passes the gel test, about 30 minutes.
2. Use an immersion blender to blend the jam until it's as smooth as you like it - I made mine fairly smooth.  Stir in the lemon juice and briefly return to a boil.
3. Transfer the jam to sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Make sure to check seals before storing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kale-Carrot Salad

This tasty salad is a great way to eat your veggies.  I love using kale in salads, but it needs a little bit of special treatment in order to be tasty raw.  I combine finely chopped kale with salt, lemon juice, and oil, and mash it between my fingers for a couple of minutes until it begins to wilt.  Then I let it chill out for a bit while I prep the rest of the meal, and then add some finishing touches - in this case, shredded carrots and toasted pine nuts.  A cumin-honey dressing adds some smoky sweetness.  This makes a great side dish for pretty much any meal - you could play around with the spices to pair it with different cuisines.  And, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so it's a great make-ahead side or a delicious green option to take for lunch.

Kale-Carrot Salad
Serves 4

1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves finely chopped
1 lemon
Olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin
4 small carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1. Place the chopped kale in a salad bowl.  Slice the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice of half the lemon over the kale (reserve the rest of the lemon for later in the recipe).  Drizzle on a bit of olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the greens.  Massage the greens with your hands for a couple of minutes, until they are nicely wilted.  Stash in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the salad/meal.
2. In a small jar, combine the juice of the other half of the lemon along with about 1/4 cup olive oil, a pinch of salt, the honey, and the cumin.  Screw on the lid tightly and shake well to combine.
3. Take out the bowl of kale and add the dressing, carrots, and pine nuts.  Toss to combine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Herb-Crusted Pot Roast in the Crock Pot

I wasn't in the mood for a big birthday party this year because I have so much going on with school this semester, so instead I decided to celebrate with a small dinner party at home.  Since I was feeling a little overextended, I decided to make something that would impress my guests without involving a ton of work on my part.  Enter the slow cooker!  I love being able to do a little bit of prep early in the day and then have dinner ready when I need it.  This pot roast with herbs and sweet onions is melt-in-your-mouth tender and has great flavor, all for maybe 15-20 minutes of work.  I served it with roasted carrots (cooked separately in the oven a few minutes before the roast was done) and good bread from the grocery.  The leftovers were really tasty too, especially with some blue cheese crumbled on top.

Herb-Crusted Pot Roast in the Crock Pot (adapted from Yammie's Glutenfreedom, original recipe here)

Beef chuck roast (I used two, 6 pounds total)
Salt and pepper
Lots of chopped herbs: I used a few sprigs each of thyme, oregano, rosemary, and tarragon)
1 large yellow onion

1. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. In a large skillet, heat just enough oil to coat the bottom over medium high heat.  Add the meat (working in batches if necessary), and cook for a few minutes on each side, until nicely browned.  Be very careful when flipping, as the oil will spatter.
3. Scatter some of the herbs in the bottom of the crockpot.  Place the beef in the crockpot, and then scatter the rest of the herbs on top.  (If you're using two roasts, scatter some herbs between them as well.)
4. Cut the onion into medium-thick slices, and then scatter all over the meat.
5. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Corn Muffins with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

I really love muffins for breakfast, but sometimes it's fun to switch it up a bit and go with savory muffins instead of sweet ones.  These take a little longer than your typical muffin recipe because of the caramelized onions - this step definitely takes some time (probably 25-30 minutes), but it's so worth it for the sweet, soft onions that result.  I recommend making a double batch and using the extra onions in another dish (maybe in an omelette).  Once the onions are done, they're combined with shredded cheddar and corn muffin batter to make some seriously dynamite muffins.  Next time I might also add some minced chives for a pop of green, but overall I was really happy with these morning treats.  They'd also be excellent next to a bowl of chili later in the day.

Corn Muffins with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions (adapted from the kitchn)
Makes 2 dozen plus a few extras

1-1/2 large onions, thinly sliced and slowly caramelized
1 cup all purpose flour
3 cups corn flour (such as Bob's Red Mill)
1 T plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 T salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
2-1/2 cups buttermilk
10 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 and line muffin tins with baking papers.
2. Caramelize your onions, low and slow in a nonstick pan.  When they're done, let cool and roughly chop.  Set aside.
3. Whisk together the flour, corn flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and honey.  Whisk in the dry ingredients.  Fold in the caramelized onions and cheese.
5. Fill the muffin cups, using about 1/4 cup of batter per muffin.  Bake 20-25 minutes, until the tops are browned and a tester comes out clean.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn Spice Cookies with Dark Chocolate

I make cookies for an event at my church most months, and it's always a good excuse to try a new recipe.  In October, I wanted to make something appropriate for the season, so I settled on these chocolate chip cookies with an autumn twist.  Cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom spice up these cookies and make them the perfect choice for when the air starts to get a bit chilly.  The original recipe called for molasses, which I would definitely use if I made these again - I thought I had it in the cupboard, but only discovered it was missing after I'd started the recipe.  I subbed in dark corn syrup, which worked just fine (and made the cookies extra chewy), but didn't have the same intense flavor that molasses would have contributed.  Either way, these spice cookies were definitely the perfect choice for October!

Autumn Spice Cookies with Dark Chocolate (adapted from Serious Eats, original recipe here)
Makes about 5 dozen

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup chopped dark chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment, foil, or a Sil-pat.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a small bowl.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Add both sugars and beat another 2 minutes or so.  Beat in the egg until fully incorporated, followed by the corn syrup.  Beat in the flour-spice mixture until just incorporated, and then stir in the chocolate using a rubber spatula.
4. Scoop the batter onto cookie sheets in small spoonfuls.  Bake 6-8 minutes, until set on top - be careful, these burned easily.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

This is one of those high-effort but high-reward dishes.  It's definitely got a heck of a lot of steps - cooking the chard and then squeezing it dry, making a sauce, slicing sweet potatoes, grating cheese, and then putting everything together and baking.  So it's for sure more of a weekend project rather than a weekday dinner.  That said, if you have the time, this dish is totally worth it.  The creamy potatoes combine really well with the more earthy greens, and the sauce binds everything together nicely.  I'd actually add more cheese and sauce if I made this again - I was adjusting the recipe for the amount of sweet potatoes and chard that we got in our CSA, and I think I got the ratio a little off.  The gratin was plenty creamy and delicious, but hey - you can never go wrong with more cheese and bechamel!  Serve this with a simple protein - maybe roasted chicken or seared steak - and you've got a fantastic dinner.

Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, original recipe here)
Serves 6 as a side dish

2 T unsalted butter, divided
1/2 small onion, minced
2 bunches Swiss chard (about 1-1/2 pounds)
A few grates of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 cup half-and-half, plus a little extra as needed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T flour
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds (a food processor is great for this)
1 T minced parsley
1-1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano
2-1/2 ounces Emmentaler cheese, grated

1. Prepare the greens.  Melt 1 T of the butter in a heavy pot over medium-low heat, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown.  While the onions cook, separate the chard leaves from the stems.  Chop the stems into fairly small pieces, and cut or tear the leaves into roughly 1-inch pieces (nothing here has to be exact).  Once the onions are soft, add the chard stems along with the nutmeg and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until the veggies are tender, about 8 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and add the chard leaves in batches if necessary, stirring until all the greens are wilted.
2. Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the greens into the cheesecloth.  Let rest until cool enough to handle, and then squeeze the greens to remove as much liquid as possible - it will be a lot!  Set aside.
3. Make the sauce.  Combine the half-and-half and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 T butter in a nonstick skillet over moderate heat.  Add the flour and whisk to combine using a silicone whisk (which will be safe for the nonstick coating).  Cook the roux, whisking, for about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the warm half-and-half and boil, whisking, for one minute.  Season with salt and pepper and then set aside.
4. Assemble the gratin.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a 1-1/4 quart (or so) baking dish with oil.  Spread half the sweet potatoes into the dish in an even layer.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, a quarter of the herbs, and about 2 T of the shredded cheese.  Distribute half the greens evenly over the cheese, and the season with a bit of salt and pepper, a quarter of the herbs, and 2 T cheese.  Check the bechamel - if it's quite thick, whisk in a little more half-and-half to get a pourable consistency.  Then pour half the bechamel sauce over the greens.  Spread it around a bit with a rubber spatula.  Then repeat the same layering as the first time around, ending with any remaining cheese.
5. Bake about 1 hour, until golden and bubbling.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
6. If you want to prepare this ahead - you can prep and assemble everything the day before and stash in the fridge.  Then you'll just have the baking to do the night you want to eat the gratin.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Whole Wheat Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread

I've had a craving for cinnamon-raisin bread recently, and just got around to making some.  I started with a tried-and-true whole wheat loaf to make the bread a little healthier.  After the first rise, I gently patted it into a rectangle - this dough is not to soft, so it's really easy to work with.  Then I topped the dough with raisins and a bunch of grinds from the Trader Joe's cinnamon-and-sugar grinder that I recently got (this thing is genius!).  Of course, you can just mix up some cinnamon and sugar yourself if you're not near a Trader Joe's.    The bread baked up soft and delicious, with great flavor.  And, it's not too sweet - you can enjoy this for breakfast with butter, but it also works as the base for a PB & J at lunchtime.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
Makes 1 loaf

1 recipe soft wheat sandwich bread, made with butter instead of Crisco
3/4 cup raisins
Boiling water
Cinnamon-sugar mix (I used the cinnamon-sugar grinder from Trader Joe's

1. Prepare the dough for the bread up through the first rise.  While the bread is rising, pour boiling water over the raisins until they are covered by a few inches.  Let sit for half an hour or so, and then drain well.
2. Punch down the dough and press into a rectangle as long as your loaf pan.  You shouldn't need flour as the dough is not very sticky.  Sprinkle the raisins over the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border all the way around.  Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon and sugar - I just did several grinds of the cinnamon-sugar grinder until the raisins looked well-covered.
3. Roll up the dough into a log and press into an oiled loaf pan.  Proceed with the rest of the bread recipe, baking about 5 minutes longer.  Let cool before slicing.

I'm sending this recipe off to Kitchen Bootcamp: Yeast Breads!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Red Cod with Xec (Maya Citrus Salsa)

I find fish for dinner to be sort of a funny middle ground in terms of effort - you've really got to hit the grocery that day if you want it to be fresh, but then actual preparation time is often minimal.  The grocery bit is probably why I don't end up making fish as often as I'd like to, but this recipe is absolutely good incentive.  The fish itself is prepared super simply - just cooked on the stovetop with salt and pepper.  You could use any flaky white fish here - snapper, cod, etc. and cook it up any way you prefer - it would also be tasty baked in the oven if you happen to be making a roasted veggie side dish.

The star of this dish is the citrus salsa - I used orange, lemon, and grapefruit, but the original Mark Bittman article says that any combo you have on hand will be tasty.  It's spiced up with some seriously spicy habanero - be careful here, and use more or less depending on your spice tolerance.  The tart citrus and herby cilantro goes perfectly with the fish - a super easy and tasty dinner.  Definitely serve this with a big scoop of white rice.

Red Cod with Xec (Maya Citrus Salsa) (adapted from the New York Times)
Serves 4

1 orange
1 grapefruit
1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 to 1/2 habanero chili, seeded and minced
4 red cod fillets (or sub in snapper, regular cod, etc.)

1. Supreme the orange, grapefruit, and lemon, catching the juice in a bowl.  Add the sections of fruit to the bowl with the fruit.  Add the cilantro, chili, and generous pinch of salt.  Use more or less habanero depending on your tolerance for spicy food.  Mix to combine and let sit while you prepare the fish.
2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat (you may need two skillets or you may need to work in batches).  Season the fish with salt and pepper.  Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the cod.  Cook it 3-4 minutes per side, flipping once, or until the fish flakes easily and is opaque in the center.
3. Serve the fish with the citrus salsa.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Plum Spice Cake

Today is my birthday!  And although this isn't a birthday cake - it's one a made a week or so ago - I still thought it would be appropriate to celebrate with a cake post!  This cake is absolutely fantastic - moist and spicy with a sweet-tart layer of juicy plums on the bottom.  We got some sort of weird plums in our CSA - they never really got soft enough to eat raw, but the skin was clearly starting to get a little wrinkly and old-looking.  This recipe is the perfect use for imperfect fruit - after baking, the plums were so delicious and it was impossible to tell that they weren't in their prime.

If you have access to golden syrup, you can use it in place of the dark corn syrup, as that's what the recipe originally called for.  I know everywhere online says golden syrup is supposedly impossible to substitute for, but don't let a lack of access stop you from making this cake!  It works perfectly well with dark corn syrup, which should be easily available in American grocery stores.  Whatever you can get, definitely make this cake sometime before plums go out of season.  It's like autumn in cake form, and it lasts really well if you have leftovers.

Plum Spice Cake (adapted from Ripe by Nigel Slater)
Makes one cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1 level tsp baking soda
2/3 cup dark corn syrup
2 heaping T honey
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup skim milk
2 large eggs
4 large plums, pitted and quartered

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment.  Spray the parchment with oil.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
3. Combine the dark corn syrup, honey, and butter in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-low heat until the butter is melted.  Add the brown sugar and stir to combine over the heat for a minute or two.
4. Using a two cup liquid measuring cup, measure out the milk.  Add the eggs, and then whisk to combine.
5. Pour the golden syrup mixture into the flour and mix together until almost blended.  Add the egg-milk mixture and whisk until well combined.
6. Lay the plums in the cake pan, each with one cut side down.  Pour the batter over the plums.  Bake about 35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

Monday, October 8, 2012

SRC: M. Jacques' (Brandy) Chicken

My Secret Recipe Club partner for this month was Margaret of Tea and Scones.  At first I was really tempted to try one of the fantastic bread recipes she has on her blog, but then I spotted this super tasty recipe for chicken roasted with lots of veggies and a sauce made of Armagnac. It turns out that Armagnac is a type of brandy, and luckily I had just exactly the right amount of brandy in my cupboard, even if it wasn't exactly the right kind (coincidentally, just like Margaret when she made this recipe!).  Margaret's tips on this recipe were invaluable - she thought the breast was a bit bland, so I went with my usual technique of rubbing salt under the chicken skin before baking.  This always makes for really flavorful chicken, although it's sort of gross (but worth it!).  My chicken also needed some extra time to brown up, like Margaret's.

The end result was amazingly delicious.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked: super creamy fingerlings, carrots from our CSA, and soft melted onions.  The chicken was moist and flavorful; I think this cooking method which essentially steams the chicken keeps it from drying out.And finally, the sauce was totally divine and perfect for dipping veggies and chicken in.  The only thing this meal   could have used was some crusty bread - I will definitely keep that in mind for next time!  Thank you Margaret!

I also want to send out a huge thank you to Biz of My Bizzy Kitchen - I won an awesome portable lightbox in a giveaway on her blog for taking dinner photos after dark...pretty much a necessity except in the middle of summer! I have been wanting one of these for a while, and it is totally awesome! I'm still learning how best to use it, but I definitely think it makes those nighttime photos way better!

M. Jacques' (Brandy) Chicken (adapted from Dorie Greenspan, via Tea and Scones)
Serves 4

Olive oil
8 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
5 small carrots, peeled and thickly sliced on the diagonal
Salt and pepper
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of oregano
1 bay leaf
1 chicken, about 3-1/2 pounds, patted dry
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Find a large Dutch oven or casserole dish that's large enough to hold the chicken and the veggies.
2. Put the Dutch oven over medium heat and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  When it's warm, add the potatoes, onions, and carrots all together.  Stir for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are coated in oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Stir in the herbs.  Turn heat down to low.
3. Prep the chicken.  Using your fingers, separate the skin from the meat of the breast and drumsticks.  Rub a teaspoon or so of salt into the meat (under the skin).  Then sprinkle a bit more salt and a generous amount of pepper all over the bird and rub into the skin gently.  Working with the chicken breast-side-up, tuck the wings under the bird and tie the legs together with chicken twine.
4. Wash your hands carefully, and then give the pot of veggies a good stir.  Push them towards the sides of the pot, leaving some space in the middle.  Plop in the chicken, breast side up.  Wash your hands again.
5. Pour the brandy over the chicken and let it heat up for a minute or so over medium heat. Then cover the pot with either a tight-fitting lid or a double layer of aluminum foil.
6. Place the pot in the pre-heated oven and let the chicken roast undisturbed for one hour.
7. Carefully remove the lid - there will be lots of steam!  Take a look at the chicken - if it needs to brown a bit more, return it to the oven for 15 minutes or so.  When the chicken is cooked through, transfer the Dutch oven to the stovetop.
6. Carefully transfer the chicken to a serving platter and cover with foil.  Using a spoon, skim the fat off the cooking liquid and discard.  Pick out the bay leaf and discard it as well.  Turn the heat to medium and gently stir the vegetables.  Add the water, stirring to blend it with the pan juices.  Simmer about  minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.  Taste for salt and pepper.
7. Serve the chicken with the vegetables and sauce.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blueberry-Almond Muffins

I was recently asked to make muffins for a cafe at my church on Sunday morning, and after a lot of indecision, I eventually decided on these blueberry-almond beauties.  I figured that coming from a bakery cookbook, they'd have good 'hanger appeal,' and they did - I made a double recipe and they sold out!  These muffins don't just look good - they're super tasty and definitely have that 'bakery' feeling (although in a more reasonable size than most bakery muffins).  The almond meal  in the batter makes the muffins extra tender, and orange zest and orange juice add an excellent background citrus flavor.  Of course, the blueberries are really the star here, juicy and tart - I think you could even do more if you like.  Overall, definitely a winning muffin and one I would make again.

Blueberry-Almond Muffins (adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
Makes 1 dozen muffins

Grated zest of one orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large egg whites
4 T butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup almond meal
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 12-cup muffin tin with oil.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, milk, egg whites, and butter.
3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the almond meal, flour, sugar, sliced almonds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and stir until just combined.  Fold in the berries.
4. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full.  Bake about 15 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.  Cool on a rack.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sage and Honey Pork Chops

Another easy Jamie Oliver dinner - and this one created a totally reasonable amount of dishes, unlike the last one I cooked!  Unfortunately, I didn't think the flavor of these pork chops was as good as it could have been.  The ingredients sound fantastic - fennel, honey, sage, and garlic - but the chops somehow weren't a knockout.  If I make these again, I think I'd probably use twice as much of all the seasonings so their flavor would come through better, because I do think this flavor combo has the potential to be amazing.  I'd also look for the recommended bone-in pork chops, which I have a feeling would be moister and more flavorful.  Still, you can't complain too much when you get dinner on the table in 20 minutes or so - this is definitely one of those recipes that needs some tweaking, but that has real potential.

Sage and Honey Pork Chops (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
Serves 4

8 cloves of garlic, peeled but not chopped
4 6-ounce pork chops
1 tsp fennel seeds
Small bunch of fresh sage, leaves picked off the stems
Honey, to drizzle

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Set a frying pan on the stove over medium high heat and add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan.  Lightly smash the garlic  and add to the pan.  Give it a minute or so, and then stand the pork up in the pan, fat side down (on their edges).
3. Transfer the garlic to a roasting pan, and scatter the fennel seeds over.  Place the roasting pan in the hot oven on the top shelf.
4. Once the fat on the pork chops is golden brown, use tongs to lay them flat in the pan.  Cook about 4 minutes total, flipping them halfway.  Remove the roasting pan from the oven and add the pork chops.  Top each chop with a few sage leaves.  Drizzle with honey, and then return the pan to the oven for about 10 minutes, until the pork is golden and cooked through.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sweet Potato-Pulled Pork Hash

This dish is a great way to use up leftover pulled pork.  I love cooking up a big piece of pork shoulder in the slow cooker, but I don't want to eat it plain for too many meals in a row.  This hash is the perfect solution.  It comes together quickly, although there's a fair amount of chopping.  Lots of veggies get added to the pork to make this a relatively healthy dish, and smoked paprika and cumin seeds add a fantastic smoky flavor to the whole dish. I'd recommend this hash for brunch, possibly with a fried egg on top or some buttered toast on the side.  The most important part, though, is leaving the pork in the skillet long enough to crisp up on the edges - to me, this is what really transforms it into a new dish.  You could also easily make this hash with leftover chicken or steak if that's what you've got on hand.

Sweet Potato-Pulled Pork Hash (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Serves 2

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 tsp cumin seeds
Big hunk of cooked pork shoulder, in bite-sized chunks

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the sweet potatoes with oil, and then sprinkle generously with paprika, salt, and pepper.  Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast, tossing occasionally, until tender.
2. Heat oil in the largest nonstick skillet you've got over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until it starts to get soft, and then add the bell pepper.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute until the vegetables start to brown, and then push them to the edges of the pan.  In the open space in the middle, add the cumin seeds.  Let toast for about 30 seconds, and then stir everything to combine.  Push the veggies to the edges of the skillet again, and add the pork in the middle.  Let cook undisturbed for a few minutes until the pork starts to crisp up.
3. Stir the hash a few times, and then add the cooked potatoes.  Saute everything together for a few minutes, until everything gets a little crispy.  Serve right away.