Cider Braised Pork

Apple Cider Braised Pork

Earlier this month we drove up to Kenosha Pass for a bike ride through the trees. We were not alone-- the lot off of the Colorado Trail was packed even by 9 in the morning, a bustle of people, dogs, and babies getting ready for the trail. 

Apple Cider Braised Pork

Once we started up the trail the crowds thinned; on bikes we were able to get ahead of the walkers and wanders. After an initial thirty minutes of hill climbing, it was more than just the altitude taking our breath away: the vast aspen groves were golden yellow, sometimes red. The valley was washed in buckets of fall light, and the skies were a perfect lapis blue, dotted with fluffy clouds. 

"This is the part where you just want to die and go to heaven," my mom said. (At first I thought she might mean there is another big hill, i.e., You'll want to die trying to bike up this thing! but then I took in everything around me and thought, Yes, I could stay awhile.) 

At home, a slow cooker full of cider braised pork-- homey, slightly sweet, fall-apart tender- awaited our hungry post-ride stomachs. Honestly, at that point we were so hungry anything would've done the job but then and I thought: This is what September feels like.

Apple Cider Braised Pork
Apple Cider Braised Pork

Cider Braised Pork

Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free    |       |    Print This Recipe

Flavors of fall in a homey, slow cooker dish.

Serves: 4   |    Total Time:



Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pork shoulder, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 2-3 large carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup apple cider (hard cider or apple juice)
  • 2 cups bone broth
  • 2 springs each thyme and rosemary
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat coconut oil in the bottom of a pan or your Instant Pot. Place pork in pot, and brown on all sides. If you are browning meat in a separate pot, place the pork in your slow cooker/Instant Pot now.
  2. Mince garlic. Chop onion into wedges, slice carrots into rounds, and dice celery. Place all in the slow cook. Pour cider and broth in. Season with salt & pepper, and top with thyme & rosemary springs. Set slow cooker on low setting and cook for 10 hours (set Instant Pot to slow cooker setting).
  3. Optional: after stew is done cooking, spoon it into an oven-safe dish (such as a cast iron pot) and place under broiler for 5-10 minutes, to brown the top of the pork a bit more. Serve hot over sweet potato mash!

Grain-Free Fig & Almond Linzer Cookies

Grain-free linzer cookies

A year ago I was wandering through Austria & Germany, riding up gondolas and getting lost in forests thicker than any forest seen in Colorado. Each mountain top was dotted with a unique restaurant or bar. Just last night I was going back through old photos, wishing I could teleport back. Since that wasn't an option, I started cooking instead. 😉 

Grain-Free Fig & Almond Linzer Cookies
Grain-Free Fig & Almond Linzer Cookies
Dolomites

Linzer Cookies are a classic Austria dessert, so it feels appropriate to make these cookies now, as I swim in nostalgia. The cooler weather just serves as an excuse to turn on the oven again. As you assemble these cookies, you can imagine you are deep in a valley in Austria again, maybe in a small cottage with gingerbread trim and a wood burning stove in the corner. 

The Linzer Cookies are stuffed with figs, because I had a special bag of Smyrna Figs from Made in Nature (which I love because they are the softest, juiciest dried figs I've ever had, and they're unsulfured). All week I've been sprinkling them on various meals-- cheese plates, Harissa roasted eggplant- refraining from putting the whole bag in my desk snack drawer and eating them all straight, which is what I usually do with dried figs. When these cookies were plated, the wait was worth it. ❤️

Grain-Free Fig & Almond Linzer Cookies
Grain-Free Fig & Almond Linzer Cookies

Grain-Free Fig & Almond Linzer Cookies

Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free    |       |    Print This Recipe

Almonds and figs pair perfectly!

Yields: 12   |    Total Time:



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup figs
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Place the figs in a bowl, and pour water over top to soak them.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. Whisk until incorporated. Add the melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla, and stir until a uniform dough forms. Shape dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in fridge for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. After dough has chilled, remove from fridge. Cut out a piece of parchment paper and roll dough out with a rolling pin on parchment to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut cookies out as desired and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool.
  4. While cookies cool, make fig filling: drain water, and place figs in high powdered blender and puree into a thick jam-like mixture, scraping sides of blender as needed to get a consistent texture.
  5. Spread fig jam on a cookie, and top with a second cookie to make a sandwich. Repeat until cookies are used up.

Harissa Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce & Tomatoes

Harissa eggplant with yogurt sauce & tomatoes

A jar of harissa sits in my fridge, leftover from this roasted cauliflower

Every time I open the fridge it stares back at me, potential waiting to happen. Smothered on chicken? Stirred into baba ganoush? Smeared on eggplants, and roasted to a crisp? 

Harissa eggplant with yogurt sauce & tomatoes

You mull over these ideas enough and you just have to make moves. Next thing you know, I’m buying eggplants and dicing tomatoes. I’m straining yogurt into lebneh, and toasting pine nuts. 

Harissa eggplant with yogurt sauce & tomatoes

Having a jar of an unfamiliar ingredient in the fridge is a muse— it keeps the imagination wandering. I know harissa has been “trending” for a while now, and I’m a bit late to the show, but in my own pace I’m discovering it’s marvels… 

Harissa Roasted Eggplant with Lebneh and Cherry Tomatoes

Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free    |       |    Print This Recipe

Eggplant is roasted with harissa and then topped with cool lebneh and fresh tomatoes.

Serves: 2   |    Total Time:



Ingredients:

  • 2 baby small to medium eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup harissa paste, depending on preference
  • 1/4 cup lebneh (or make your own: 1/2 cup greek yogurt + cheesecloth)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 dried figs, diced
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. If you are making your own lebneh: scoop yogurt into cheese cloth and place over bowl. Allow to sit for 30 minutes (or while you prepare the rest of the dish), until whey liquid has seeped out and yogurt is thick and creamy. If you are using store bought, skip to step 2.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Half eggplant, and then use a knife to score flesh in a grid pattern. In a small bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil and harissa (we use 1/4 cup because we like our food hot, hot, hot. Use less if you like your food just mellowly spiced). Brush mixture over eggplants, getting the sauce into the crevasses you created when scoring. Place on baking sheet, and then in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, until the eggplants puff, their skin in brown and wrinkled, and they are softened through. Set aside to cool, and then place on serving dishes.
  3. Scoop a dollop of lebneh over each half of the eggplant.
  4. Halve the cherry tomatoes, and dice the cucumber. Sprinkle over top of the eggplant. Lastly, sprinkle figs and pine nuts and season with salt & pepper. Serve hot.