Braised Pork Loin with Figs and Pears

This recipe takes some time since the pork loin is marinated but worth the effort and wait. The gravy is lick the plate good! Now I’m thinking I should add fruit puree to all my gravies. Yum, yum. Braising cooks food slowly so be sure that the loin is well seared (browned) before cooking so that it doesn’t lose all its juices. And since I love figs and pears, and I know they go well together, I thought how about braising them with the loin. This recipe would also work with a turkey breast or apples instead of pears.

At least 4 hours before the cooking starts, put in a gallon food storage bag:

1/4 cup seasoned vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (or herbamare)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried thyme

6-8 dried figs

Add:

1 1/2-2 1/2 pound pork loin

Seal and let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. If you are using a chicken, duck, or turkey breast, you can put this directly into the cooking vessel – either a roasting/baking dish with a cover, or the bowl of a slow cooker.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees if the loin is going in the oven. I cooked mine on the stove top in a medium size Dutch oven. Remove the pork loin (or turkey breast) from the marinade. Dry thoroughly and rub with:

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

In a 10″ skillet or one large enough to hold the loin, heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Turn the oil down to medium heat and add the loin (or turkey breast). Sear (brown) on all sides. Remove the meat and add to the skillet:

1 medium onion chopped

1/2 bag of baby carrots, cut into bite size pieces

1 large or 2 small (I used one small sweet and one small white) potatoes

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes. Add:

figs from the marinade (or 6-8 other fresh or dried figs)

Add the meat back into the cooking vessel along with:

1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock

Cover the pot or dish and cook over low heat (simmer) until the meat reaches 145 degrees for pork or 165-170 for poultry. On the stovetop in the Dutch oven, my just under 2 pound pork loin took just over an hour. When the meat is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables and add to the stock:

1 diced medium pear (peeled or not doesn’t matter)

If the meat was cooked in the oven, pour the stock into a small saucepot before adding the pear. Turn up the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the pear is soft. Add:

A slurry made with 1/2 cup turkey or chicken stock whisked with 2 tablespoons all purpose gluten free flour

Stir until the gravy thickens and the pear pieces are integrated into the gravy, this should only take a couple of minutes. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes so that the flour cooks completely. Slice the pork loin (or other meat) and place on a platter surrounded by the vegetables and figs. Pour some of the gravy over the pork and serve.

Pork with Sauerkraut (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free)

Sauerkraut was one of my mother’s favorite foods but as a child, I didn’t much care for it. Too salty for my taste! Now that fermented foods are all the rage, I thought I should try it again. At my former apartment, the dining room often served a pork with sauerkraut that was delicious, not salty at all. So here’s my version. Feel free to add diced apples or pears!

You’ll need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

16 ounces lean pork (4 chops or steaks at least 1/2 inch thick, loin)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 medium onion thinly sliced

16 ounces sauerkraut, drained

1 apple (or pear) peeled and diced

1 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into pieces

In a 10″ skillet with a lid, heat the oil. Dry the pork and salt and pepper to taste. When the oil is hot, brown the pork on all sides over medium heat. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the sweet potato and apple. Cover the pork with the onions and sauerkraut.

Mix together the stock, paprika and minced garlic. Pour over the pork, cover and simmer on low for at least 35 minutes. The longer and slower you cook the pork, the tenderer it will be.

Makes 4 servings.

Easy Sweet and Sour Pork (or chicken or tofu) (Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free)

I do love Chinese food but its been off limits since I developed an allergy to soy. With the soy substitute I gave you last year on this blog, this is really delicious! It’s not quick but it is very easy to put together; takes longer to cut everything up then to cook. Do it in stages and use precut or frozen vegetables to make it even quicker.

Start by cutting into 1/2 inch pieces 1 pound of pork, chicken or tofu

Put the pork into a zip-lock bag with 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper [If you are allergic to corn, use 1 tablespoon tapioca or cassava flour or arrowroot]. Shake to coat all the pieces of pork and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

While the pork is sitting, prepare your vegetables. I’m giving the list of what I used but feel free to use whatever veggies your family likes.

1/2 large onion sliced

2 celery stalks cut on a slant

2 baby bok choy sliced

1/2 cup grated or thinly sliced carrot

1 medium bell pepper sliced and seeded (you could cut into chunks if you prefer)

1 small can water chestnuts

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger (be sure to mince it well because no one wants a big piece of ginger! Or you can buy pre-minced in a jar)

Mix the sauce together:

1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock (use a little more if you’d like a saucier dish but increase the thickener as well)

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup date sugar (or 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder, 1/4 cup agave or coconut nectar)

2 tablespoons soy substitute [See recipe under sauces and dressings or use can use coconut aminos]

1 tablespoon corn starch [or cassava or tapioca flour; I wouldn’t recommend using arrowroot because it will be very slimy]

Whisk together. Tip: Put the date sugar and corn starch in the bowl first and then the liquids. Set aside.

When the pork is ready, add 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil to a large skillet (or if you have one use a wok). When hot, add the pork in individual pieces so that each one cooks individually. In other words don’t just dump the bagful into the skillet! Turn the skillet down to medium heat and let brown for about 1 1/2 minutes before turning. It will only take about another 1 1/2 minutes for the pork to cook through. Remove from the skillet.

And the vegetables and let cook for several minutes 2-3 before turning and then give them another 2-3 minutes covered so the celery, bok choy, and carrot soften. Remove cover and add the pork back in and stir to combine.

Add the sauce and stir until the sauce thickens. This should only take about 30 seconds. And its ready to eat! Serve over rice or quinoa, or noodles.

Serves 4

Spicy Spanish Meatballs (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free)

Just like with meatloaf, I love meatballs. I’ve gotten lazy in my old age and simply made meatballs with some of my meatloaf mix but I recently saw a recipe for Spicy Spanish Meatballs and thought I’d give them a try. Here’s my revision of that recipe that used beef, veal and eggs, none of which I can eat.

You’ll need for the meatballs:

2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or ground cumin)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds (or ground coriander)

2 whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

9 ounces ground turkey

8 ounces ground pork

2 teaspoons allspice (or you can use nutmeg, I don’t happen to like it so substituted allspice)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 garlic cloves crushed

1/2 cup chopped dates (if you used dried dates, be sure to rehydrate them before adding)

1 small hot red chili pepper (I used a red finger pepper, seeds and veins removed), finely chopped

flax gel (3 tablespoons ground flax mixed into 1/3 cup hot water; let stand 5 minutes)

You’ll need for the sauce:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (roast and grind as above) (or 1 teaspoon ground cumin)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons diced garlic

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon paprika (I used 1/2 teaspoon regular paprika and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika)

1/2 cup wine (if you can have it) OR 1/2 cup chicken stock

28 ounces (1 large can) diced tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon dry oregano or marjoram

2 tablespoons date syrup

Make the meatballs: In a dry skillet, heat the cumin and coriander seeds and whole cloves over medium heat until aromatic, a minute or two. Let cool for a few minutes and then grind in either a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I used my coffee grinder that I never use for coffee).

Add to a food processor, the flax gel, dates, dried spices, garlic, cinnamon, allspice and chili pepper and grind until smooth. Remove to a bowl, add salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of each) along with the meats and blend until mixed. Try not to overmix to avoid tough meatballs. Form into about 1 ounce meatballs with wet hands (makes about 16-18). Place on a greased, small baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Whwn the sauce is simmering, take the meatballs out of the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper (again about 1/2 teaspoon each), cumin, cinnamon and paprika and cook for a few minutes over low to medium heat being careful not to let the spices or garlic burn. Add the wine or chicken stock and boil for several minutes until almost evaporated. Add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes uncovered, stir occasionally.

Add 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste depending on how thick you like your sauce, and the oregano or marjoram along with the date syrup (don’t have any? Use maple syrup or agave instead).

Add the meatballs to the sauce, remove the bay leaves. If you wish, you can sprinkle the dish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve over any small grain such as quinoa or faro, couscous would also work. Or serve with slices of gluten free bread to sop up the sauce.

Serves 4 people generously.

Oriental Spare Ribs

(Dairy free, soy free, gluten free, sugar free)

One of my favorite foods – spare ribs! Probably because all summer my father grew the pigs for our winter table and the treat was always the ribs. I had them so rarely growing up, just that one time every year, so now that I’m grown I cook them as often as I possibly can. I had to give up Chinese style ribs when I developed my soy allergy but with the soy sauce substitute (see sauces), I’m now experimenting with some of my favorite Chinese dishes like ribs. The recipe is very simple to make and prep time is short but cooking time is longer to get that bone tender rib that we all love.

You’ll need for 2 servings, depending on how many ribs you can eat!:

1 full rack of ribs (I prefer the St. Louis style, more meat, less bone)

6 tablespoons chicken stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (or use real soy sauce if it doesn’t bother you)

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

6 tablespoons date syrup (or agave, coconut nectar, etc.)

1 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Cut the ribs into individual sections. If you have a cleaver, you can chop them into 3 pieces for each rib but this isn’t necessary. Mix the liquid ingredients together.

If you have a crock pot, you can cook them on high for 2-4 hours. Put the ribs in the pot then cover with the sauce. If you don’t, like me, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, spray your casserole or oven safe dish with olive oil, add the ribs and the sauce. Use a covered dish so that the sauce doesn’t all boil away during cooking. I turned them every 20 minutes since my dish didn’t allow them to all be completely covered. Cook in the oven 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Once cooked, pour the remaining liquid into a saucepan and boil down until syrupy. Pour over the ribs to serve. At this point, you can top them with sesame seeds or chopped green onions.

HINT: Ribs can be very fatty. I cooked mine, poured off the liquid and then refrigerated them separately overnight. The next day, dinner prep was simple. I heated the ribs in a low oven while I removed most of the fat from the sauce and then boiled it down. I then poured it over the ribs, and heated them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops (Dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free)

My mother used to make pork chops covered with onion-soup mix and cream of mushroom soup.  I loved those pork chops and have been trying for years to find a recipe that I could eat that would produce such juicy, succulent pork chops.  And I think I’ve finally found one!  This recipe adds some spice (I like to use spicy brown mustard) along with a slight sweetness to a juicy chop.  I serve it with some of my celery root and parsnip mash that’s been reheated in a skilled until crispy brown.

This recipe is for 2 chops but can easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many chops are needed.

In a small bowl mix:

  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  •  2 tablespoons honey (I like to use raw organic honey)
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil

Grease a 6×9″ baking dish.  Trim excess fat from the pork chops.  Add the chops and spread with half the honey mustard mixture.  Turn over the chops and spread with the remaining mixture.  Marinate at least a half hour but I’ve left them as long as overnight.  The vinegar in the mustard will tenderize the pork so the longer you let them marinate the better.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the chops for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your pork chops and then remove and turn the chops over.  Be sure to test with your finger or a spoon to determine if the chops are cooked (a done chop with have no give when pushed with a spoon or finger).  If my chops are almost done after turning over, I put them under the broiler to brown the top for 3-5 minutes.    A 1-bone chop takes roughly 20 minutes total.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes to rest before serving.

Shredded Pork Sliders with Cole Slaw (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

One of my more recent discoveries, pork sliders are so good as a meal if you eat several or as an appetizer for a party.  People love them.  I made these first last Christmas for a party I went to and they disappeared.  A large pork roast will make 30-36 sliders but for a meal for my husband and I, I use a smaller portion.  Great use of leftover pork roast.

Combine:

  • 1 cup shredded pork (I use my food processor to break up the pork)
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (such as Organicsville Agave Barbecue Sauce or home-made)

Heat in a skillet for several minutes and place on gluten-free dinner rolls (or if you have a leftover bagel, that works as well).  Top with several tablespoons of cole slaw (see recipe under Soups and Salads).  The cole slaw adds a great crunch to the slider.

Spaghetti and Meatballs (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, sugar-free)

A throwback to my earlier life cooking for my best friend and my son, and sometimes for her parents as well, this recipe holds lots of memories.  The marinara sauce is a remake of my Aunt Jean’s sauce while the meatballs are an off-shoot of my meatloaf recipe.  If you prefer, a jarred sauce works just as well if you have one your family especially likes, and it sure is a lot quicker and easier than making a sauce from scratch.

Marinara Sauce:

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 64 ounces of pureed tomatoes
  • 16 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine (or stock if you can’t use wine)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • fresh oregano, thyme, and parsley (about 2 tablespoons of each)
  • monk fruit powder, stevia, or agave nectar if needed for additional sweetness

In a large skillet, saute the onion and bell pepper for a few minutes and then add the diced garlic and the grated carrot.  Saute until softened, about 3 minutes over medium heat.  Add the red wine and cook off the alcohol.  Add the pureed and diced tomatoes and cook over a low heat, covered, for approximately 1 hour.  Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Add the fresh herbs along with salt and pepper to taste and the tomato paste.  If needed, depending on your taste, add additional sweetener.  Simmer over low heat until ready to add the meatballs.

Meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 8 ounces mixed mushrooms, pulsed in a food processor until small dice
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs (I used an herb mixture such as Mrs. Dash)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free ketchup (such as Organicsville Agave Ketchup) OR 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 slices of gluten-free bread crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; grease an 8×10 baking pan with olive oil.  Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until combined but try not to overmix so that the meat mixture stays tender.  I use a soup spoon to measure out the meatballs so that they are all about the same size.  Mine were approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter and the recipe made 24 meatballs.  Bake in the prepared pan for about 45 minutes, in the middle of the oven so that the bottoms of the meatballs don’t burn.  Add the meatballs to the sauce.

Prepare your favorite pasta.  I use the red lentil and quinoa linguine which takes just about 8 minutes to cook and my husband thinks tastes good even though he doesn’t realize its gluten-free and contains protein.  After you drain your pasta, put it back in the cooking pot, add sauce and mix thoroughly.  Serve with the meatballs and feel free to sprinkle some grated mozzarella (non-dairy of course) over the top.