Multitasking & Pork & Black Bean Stew with Salsa Verde

swiss_armyAfter the lazy, hazy days of summer, it’s time to get down to business. With cooler air, we feel the need to move faster and stretch the time further. Although rarely successful, multitasking is one of the ways we try to jam more into every day.

Successful or not, we all brag about our ability to do seven things at once. How long has it been since you gave a phone call your undivided attention? Months? Never? Whether driving or loading the dishwasher, answering emails, coaching little league, folding laundry or running on the treadmill, no one drops what they’re doing to answer the phone. And that’s not all. Knitters binge watch their favorite drama while clacking out miles of scarves and dozens of mittens. Neatniks get their exercise and keep in rhythm by doing a samba with the vacuum cleaner.

When we’re not doing three things at once, we’re flitting back and forth from one task to another and another. Take this article; just as I was getting started, my email pinged. Of course, I checked it out. Next thing you know I’m paying a bill and then emptying the dishwasher. Finally, I get back to the article. Now, what was that terribly clever anecdote I wanted to add?

To distract ourselves further we search far and wide for multifunction gizmos and gadgets. Remember the days when we marveled at a Swiss Army knife. How innocent we were. A knife that whittles, opens bottles (both beer and wine) and tightens screws (both Philips- and flat-head) is an excellent addition to any pocket. But alas, it’s nothing compared to a phone that surfs the net, receives and sends email and text messages, takes pictures, guides you to your destination, sends you moneysaving coupons, tells the time and temperature, takes a message, finds you a date and plays both music and games.

Putting the phone aside … if you can. What are your favorite multitasking machines? I ran into a couple when I lived in Europe. I guess necessity was the mother of many of these clever inventions. For one thing, apartments were generally compact. For another, people did seem at least a bit more concerned about their carbon footprint than the average American.

My favorite multitasker was something called a robot. It was nothing more than a combination food processor, blender, mini food processor and coffee grinder. Any cook would love to have one. I can’t believe they don’t exist on this side of the Atlantic. There was a base with a decent motor and three maybe four processing bowls in different sizes and shapes. The robot came with a bunch of different blades and attachments. It could chop, slice, dice, blend, knead, grind and probably more that I’ve forgotten. When I returned to the US, I had to buy three, make that four, different machines to do the same work.

Although I was forced into buying a closet full of equipment to replace my robot, I have discovered a few hacks to turn some of my favorite kitchen tools into multitasking miracles. You probably already know these tips but here goes nothing. The easiest way to peel ginger is with a regular old spoon. An ice cream scoop is perfect for filling muffin tins. A melon baller can core an apple in a flash. And finally, when in doubt; grab the tongs. They work for just about everything. Flip steaks, stir soup, toss a salad and, my favorite, use them to grab something off the top shelf.

Whether you save time or not, have fun in the kitchen this fall. Bon appétit!

Pork & Black Bean Stew with Salsa Verdepork_bean_stew_salsa_verde_01
Although it requires a fair amount of multitasking, this Brazilian-inspired stew is worth every delicious step. Enjoy!
Serves 8-12

1 pound dried black beans
12-16 ounces hot (or sweet) Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
Olive oil
About 3 pounds pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons (or more to taste) minced jalapeno
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee
1/4 cup rum
2 bay leaves
4-6 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup sour cream
1/3-1/2 cup per person white, basmati or brown rice
Salsa Verde (recipes follows)

Rinse and soak the beans overnight in 10-12 cups water.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the sausage in a large ovenproof skillet, add the sherry and 1/2 cup water and, turning once or twice, roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Cut the sausage into chunks and then, in 2 or 3 batches, transfer to a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Reserve.

While the sausage is cooking, pat the pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole over medium-high heat, add the pork and brown well on all sides. Remove the pork from the casserole and reserve.

Put the vegetables, spices and oregano in the casserole, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the sausage and brown sugar, add the orange zest and juice, lime juice, espresso and rum and stir to combine. Add the pork, 1 bay leaf and enough chicken stock to come about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pork.

Bring everything to a simmer, cover and transfer to the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and turning the pork a few times, cook for about 2 hours.

After the pork has been cooking for about 45 minutes, drain and rinse the beans. Put the beans in a large pot, add water to cover by 3-4 inches and the remaining bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer until almost tender, about 45 minutes.

Drain the beans and add them to the pork. If necessary, add more chicken stock. Return the stew to the oven and cook for another 30-45 minutes or until both the pork and beans are very tender.

Remove the stew from the oven and cool to room temperature. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces.

Put the sour cream in a small bowl and a little at a time, stir 1-2 cups of sauce to the sour cream.

Stir the pork and the sour cream back into the beans. Cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Reheat the stew in a 350-degree oven until bubbling, about 45 minutes or 1 hour. While the stew reheats, cook the rice according to package directions. Serve the stew in shallow bowls with rice and a spoonful of Salsa Verde.

Salsa Verde
2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 scallions, sliced
About 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
About 1 cup cilantro leaves
About 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar and lime juice in the bowl of a small food processor, add the lime zest, scallions, garlic and herbs, season with salt and pepper and pulse to chop and combine. Add the olive oil and process until finely chopped and well combined.

Let sit the salsa for at least 30 minutes before serving. Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Serve at room temperature.

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One Year Ago – Applesauce Scones
Two Years Ago – Homemade Bratwurst Bites with Horseradish Mustard
Three Years Ago – Fettuccine with Fresh Corn & Tomatoes
Four Years Ago – Lemon Rice Cakes with Spinach & Manchego
Five Years Ago – Apple Crumb Cake
Six Years Ago – Ginger Scones
Seven Years Ago – Curried Eggplant Soup
Eight Years Ago – Braised Beef Bourguignon

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Wha’s your favorite multifunction gadget? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

In the Kitchen … Is It Done Yet?

If you are looking for Thanksgiving menus and recipes … Click Here!
Otherwise – read on …

Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas rib roast or pork chops on the grill – stop the guessing with an Instant Read Thermometer …

You know I’ve got, well not a million, but lots of gadgets. Each and every one of them is an absolutely, positively essential. Especially at Thanksgiving, this gadget girl couldn’t live without her instant read thermometer.

It’s the perfect tool to end the great is-it-done-yet debate. Whoever’s advice you follow, Julia, Martha or the USDA, an instant read thermometer lets you know if your turkey is done in three hours (twelve to fourteen pounds) or needs another fifteen or thirty minutes. Just insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. In a few seconds, you’ll get a reading on the bird’s internal temperature. As soon as the thigh reaches 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to drive all over town to find one. Most supermarkets have instant read thermometers on their gadget  rack with the wire whisks and rubber spatulas.

And it’s not just for Thanksgiving, I use my instant read thermometer throughout the year. Whether I’m roasting or grilling, it’s a great way to know when meats, poultry and even fish are ready.

Don’t forget to let the turkey rest for twenty to thirty minutes once it’s cooked. If you cut it too soon, all the juices will run out and you’ll end up with a dry bird. Have a great turkey and a great holiday.

Bon appétit

Want more? Click here for more tips, tricks and tools!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving trick or tip? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011

In the Kitchen … Peeling Apples

Peel a bushel or peck of apples with ease and speed!
My sister introduced me to this fabulous old fashioned apple peeler…
Thank you Brenda!

It’s easy to use and lots of fun for kids. Core, peel and slice for Rustic Apple Tart in minutes. Or just peel and then chop by hand for Apple Crisp. A melon baller works great for coring the apples. Cut the apples in half and remove the seeds and core with a quick scoop.

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You know I love a bargain. Luck was with me and I snagged mine a few years ago at Marshalls or TJ Maxx – can’t remember which one. You can also find them at fancy kitchen stores, on-line and at some of the big chain stores.

Have fun and bon appétit

Want more? Click here for more tips, tricks and tools!

What’s your favorite kitchen trick or tip? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011

In the Kitchen … Grilling Salmon

I like grilled salmon. Not only is salmon (and peas) a centuries old 4th of July tradition in New England, it’s good for you and great for a crowd. However, I have found a two or three pound filet difficult to maneuver on a hot grill. Several years ago I was delighted to find a fish basket in the hardware store. You can also find them on-line in different shapes and sizes.

To grill salmon using fish basket: Season the salmon, spray the basket with nonstick spray and place the fish in the basket. Fold the tail if fish is too long. Put the basket on a hot grill and cook the salmon, turning once, for 8-10 minutes.

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Then again, maybe you’d like to grill you salmon on a cedar plank. You can get the plank at any lumber yard. Just make sure you buy untreated cedar and give it a good long soak.
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To grill salmon on a cedar plank: Soak an untreated cedar plank in water for at least 2 hours, overnight is better. Use a clean stone or a couple of large cans to weigh it down.

Lay the salmon skin-side down on the cedar plank.

Setup the grill with the coals or gas flame on one side only. Preheat to medium-high. Place the salmon and cedar plank on the grill on the side without the fire. Cover the grill and cook until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your filet.

Check the plank occasionally. If the edges start to catch fire, mist with water or move the plank to a cooler part of the grill.

Bon appétit!

More Tips, Tricks & Tools

What’s your favorite ice cream? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for lots more to read, see & cook! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2011

In the Kitchen … Make It a Mini for Me

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, the following will seem very familiar … put all of the ingredients in a mini food processor and process until smooth.

Since this Gadget Girl has many favorites, all tied for number one, I’m not sure where the mini food processor actually fits into the tools’ brigade. That said, it is without a doubt one of my most used kitchen tools.

The mini is for all those times when you’d like to use your food processor … but it’s just too big. You know what I mean. You put all of the ingredients in the machine, give it a whirl and whala! All of the barely chopped ingredients are stuck to the sides of the bowl. You just can’t make a cup of pesto in a nine cup food processor!

Whether I’m cooking for one or a dozen, it saves tons of time. It’s great for making salsas, vinaigrettes and pesto. I just toss everything in the bowl. A few quick pulses will chop vegetables for salsa. A few more will create thick, creamy vinaigrettes or pesto.

When I have mountain of garlic, tons of pepper or a boatload of ginger to mince, it’s done in a snap. It’s also great for grating Parmesan. Cut the cheese in about-1-inch cubes, dump it in and pulse until fine.

And finally, drum-rooooooooool, please … it’s goes in the dishwasher!

Bon appétit!

Oh…and just so you know, no cash or goods passed hands in return for this post. I’m just a girl who loves gadgets and actually uses them. I’ve had the mini food processor for years. I think I bought it at Costco or maybe on-line because I’m a sucker for anything priced at $39.95 … but I think I found this baby for $34.95 … maybe even $29.95.

I hope you like this new feature. More or less once a week I’ll bring you into my kitchen for tips or a gander at tools. On the other hand, some weeks I may feel the need to share some gorgeous or fun photograph or inspirational quote. It’s a work in progress … let me know what you think.

More Tips, Tricks & Tools

What’s your favorite gadget? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for lots more to read, see & cook! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2011

In the Kitchen … Making Ice Cream

I’ve been in an ice cream mood for weeks. Ever since I wrote a trio of ice cream stories for Image, Around Concord and Best of Burlington magazines. It was great fun discussing all thing ice cream with some of New England’s best ice cream makers, athletes, musicians and comedians.

It was cold and rainy yesterday but I couldn’t help myself. I had to get out my ice cream maker. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a bit of a gadget girl. I love playing with kitchen tools and gadgets. In spite of the dreary chill or maybe because of it, I spent an hour or two working on a new Tiramisu Ice Cream recipe.

It’s still not quite ready for prime time but I had fun playing with my ice cream maker.

Bon appétit!

Are you looking for an excuse to buy an ice cream maker? Try my recipe for Strawberry Gelato. Look for more when the summer heats up!

Quick Tip … make sure your ice cream, gelato or sorbet mixture is VERY cold before you put it into the ice cream maker. I usually put the mix in the freezer for 30-60 minutes to make sure it is cold enough.

Oh…and just so you know, no cash or goods passed hands in return for this post. I’m just a girl who loves gadgets and actually uses them. I’ve had the ice cream maker for years. I bought it at Costco or BJ’s because I’m a sucker for anything priced at $39.95.

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I hope you like this new feature. More or less once a week I’ll bring you into my kitchen for tips or a gander at tools. On the other hand, some weeks I may feel the need to share some gorgeous or fun photograph or inspirational quote. It’s a work in progress … and this is only the first installment! Let me know what you think.

More Tips, Tricks & Tools

What’s your favorite ice cream? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for lots more to read, see & cook! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2011