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The Dish

Since I’ve been back at work, I’ve been really racking my brain for healthy, satisfying lunch ideas to make ahead at the beginning of the week and just grab on my way out the door in the morning. After having been in school for the past twenty-something years, you’d think I have a hefty reserve of lunch recipes. But honestly, you can only eat so many ham sandwiches, boring salads, and microwaved leftovers while at work or school. Lunch is supposed to be that special meal that reinvigorates students and employees to get them through that last stretch of the day. Fortunately, with a little bit of digging, I found a fabulous recipe that is satiating, delicious, and easy to make. Not to mention it only gets better after the flavors meld a bit. Here is the link to 101 Cookbooks’ incredible Sprout Salad, one of my favorite go-to lunch or snack options:

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/sprout-salad-recipe.html

Until now, I had only made the recipe with Leasa brand “Snack Sprouts,” which is a combination of adzuki, lentil, and mung bean sprouts. This was all that was available at my local supermarket, but I found the mixture to be very flavorful!

Another favorite item that’s been on my mind this week happens to be a prepared food. I know… I already feel guilty wanting to feature this snack, but it is so worth mentioning.

I have countless cherished memories of growing up in the Florida Keys, and one of these happens to be snacking on smoked fish dip out on the water with friends and family.

I can't get enough of this stuff.

I can’t get enough of this stuff. (Also, I made that fantastic dish with my bare hands at camp!)

A few months ago, I was making a quick run through Whole Foods Market’s seafood section to grab salmon for dinner, when I saw a guy setting up a sample table out of the corner of my eye. He casually started a conversation with me and explained that he was about to kick off a sampling of fish dip from the keys. Of course, I felt compelled to tell him that’s where I was born and raised. Although I was in a hurry and he had barely unpacked his merch, he opened the first container just for me try. At first taste, I was immediately transported back to the salty fishing town I grew up in. Voila—Islamorada on a buttery cracker. I told him I was sold, grabbed a container of my own, and bustled on home.

This dip certainly gets me smilin'!

This dip certainly gets me smilin’!

I must warn you, though, this stuff is addicting. But, your guests will definitely thank you if you serve it at your next summer get-together. (You might want to buy a couple of containers, though!) Smilin’ Bob’s ships their dip, and there’s a list of locations where it’s available on their website.

That’s it for the dish this week! Enjoy your weekend, everyone 🙂

Osso Buco

This slow-braised meal is a new favorite of mine.

When I decided to feature osso buco on the blog this week, I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into. Tender medallions of veal slowly braised on the bone in a sauce of white wine, homemade stocks, aromatics, and fresh herbs—I’m about to abandon this post and run to the kitchen for seconds. However, if you are as eager to try your hand at this dish as I was, there are a few things I must mention first:

  • Veal shanks aren’t cheap.

Unfortunately, I knew that this specific cut of meat wasn’t going to be particularly affordable, but I was hell-bent on using veal. (Until I actually started speaking with butchers at grocery stores around town, which brings me to number two…)

  • Give yourself plenty of advance notice to hunt down or order some shanks.

I can’t speak for all grocery stores, but after visiting and phoning a number of markets around town, it became clear to me that most of them don’t stock shanks of any kind on a regular basis. Don’t get stuck planning osso buco as the highlight of a dinner party without already securing your shanks first, or you (and your guests) will be very disappointed. (Take it from me: It isn’t cute to start desperately begging butchers for “any kind of shank you’ve got in the walk-in.”)

  • There are alternatives to veal.

Just plain can’t locate some veal? Feeling guilty about consuming delicious baby cows? Want to avoid taking out a loan to buy such a glorious cut of meat? I totally understand. Fortunately, there are other options! Beef, lamb, and pork shanks can all be used, but remember that the flavor of your end result will be different from the traditional veal, and these cuts will vary in size as well, possibly warranting a bit more cooking time.

“I WILL FIND YOU, VEAL SHANKS.”

Those are the main lessons I learned in my first experience with veal shanks. Hopefully these tips save you the hassle of running from store to store interrogating butchers about shanks like you’re Liam Neeson searching for his daughter in Taken.

Now that you’ve been briefed on my veal woes, we can get to some of the more interesting history behind osso buco:

In Italian, osso bucco means “bone with a hole” and refers to the decadent, marrow-filled shin bone that is a defining characteristic of this dish.1 I had never tried roasted marrow until I cooked this recipe, and I must admit that I have been missing out. I have heard chef and Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern refer to bone marrow as “meat butter” before, but I didn’t fully understand his description until now. The idea of eating marrow weirded me out a bit at first, but it is important to try new things and waste as little of the animals we eat as possible. I highly recommend you try it!

Osso buco is usually associated with Milanese cuisine. Traditionally, it is served with risotto alla Milanese, a golden rice dish seasoned with saffron.1 I chose to pair my braised shanks with a simple, buttery Parmesan polenta, which paired beautifully with the rich sauce.

Mmm browned goodness.

Mmm browned goodness.

The recipe begins with two important components of making a flavorful braise, stew, or pan sauce: a fond and mirepoix. First, the veal shanks are seasoned, floured, and browned in a single layer on all sides in order to caramelize the meat a bit and develop a flavorful fond, or the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. This will naturally deglaze when the wine and stock are added to the pan and will infuse your sauce with incredible flavor.2 After removing the browned shanks from the pan, we introduce an Italian soffritto or mirepoix, consisting of chopped onions, celery, and carrots sautéed in butter or oil. (Italian soffritto is not to be confused with the Spanish/Latin version of sofrito I used in the pork pernil post!) This very simple mixture is the base for countless dishes.

Mirepoix

Mirepoix

The principle cooking method in osso buco is braising, which has an interesting history behind it. The word braise comes from the French term for “glowing embers.” Meat and vegetables used to be cooked with a small amount of liquid in a large, heavy pot over hot coals.3 However, like on a stove, even cooking is more difficult to achieve when the heat source is only coming into contact with the ingredients on one side–the bottom. Therefore, coals were also placed in an indentation on the lid of these large vessels in order to create more even heat distribution.3 Today, we replicate this method by using braising pans or Dutch ovens that begin the cooking process atop the stove and then finish in the oven. A well-executed braise is rather simple and traps all the flavors and moisture in the ingredients, which is especially useful for transforming tough cuts of meat into fall-off-the-bone tender morsels.

Hungry yet? Let’s move on to the recipe!

Osso Buco

(adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust)

  • 3 ribs celery, medium-diced
  • 3 carrots, medium-diced
  • 1 leek, cleaned well and medium-diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, medium-diced
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pancetta, medium-diced
  • Approximately 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest (about one lemon)
  • 2 cups good chicken stock
  • 2 cups good beef stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 large veal shanks tied with twine (or substitute beef, pork, or lamb shanks)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper
  • Fresh herbs for bouquet garni (I used about 5 sprigs fresh thyme, two sprigs fresh sage, two sprigs fresh rosemary, 4 sprigs fresh parsley, secured with twine)

    Bouquet garni

    Bouquet garni

  • Kitchen twine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse the shanks and dry well with paper towels. If not already tied, use one or two pieces of twine (depending on the size of the shanks) around the circumference of each shank in order to keep the meat attached to the bone as they cook.

Combine flour with 1 Tbsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper. Coat each shank in flour, making sure to knock off any excess. In a Dutch oven, render the fat from the pancetta until it is browned and just crisp. Remove the pancetta pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add 2 Tbsp. of butter to the pancetta fat, and once heated, brown the veal shanks in one layer on all sides. Additional oil or butter may need to be added. (Be sure not to crowd the pan, or the meat will steam instead of brown.) Once browned all over, remove the shanks to a plate.

Wipe the excess oil from the pot with paper towels. Melt 2 more Tbsp. of butter, then add the celery, carrots, leek, onion, and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for 1 more minute.

Osso buco just before going into the oven.

Osso buco just before going into the oven.

Add the wine and chicken and beef stock, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula to loosen the browned bits at the bottom. Introduce the shanks pack to the pan, add the bouquet garni, reserved pancetta, and salt and pepper to taste.

Allow the liquid to warm through, but not quite simmer, then cover the pan tightly and place in the oven for approximately 2 hours, or until the shanks are very tender.

Taste for seasoning, carefully remove the twine, and serve the shanks hot with the sauce atop polenta, mashed potatoes, or risotto.

(And don’t forget to dig into the marrow!)

Hello, beautiful.

Hello, beautiful.

Sources
  1. Cloake, F. (2014, March 6). How to cook the perfect osso buco. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/mar/06/how-to-cook-perfect-osso-buco
  2. Allen, C. (2008, April 22). Fond of Fond. Cooking for Engineers. Retrieved from http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/244/Fond-of-Fond
  3. Brenner, L., & Deane, D. (2015). Braise of glory. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/food/la-fo-braising-s-story.html#page=1

The Dish

So, my first week at the new job went very well! I think I earned some brownie points for bringing in clafoutis to share with my coworkers. Or maybe it’s clafoutis points? Regardless, I’m happy to have a new group of guinea pigs for my recipes and some input from someone other than my mother and our dogs!

However, since moving back home, I have been missing the chicken wings at my favorite college bar and grill. Needless to say, wings probably aren’t something that I should be eating all that frequently anyway, so I’m in no rush to try and find a new place to get my wing fix. Fortunately, I found this recipe on Pinterest a couple years ago, and it is a fabulous vegetarian substitute. It’s also a far less fattening option for when I’m craving greasy bar food. Trust me, this is definitely worth a try!

http://www.persnicketyplates.com/buffalo-cauliflower/

My mom's new Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!

My mom’s new Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!

In other news, my mom has been saving for a new Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for some months now, and she finally made the purchase! Not only am I excited for her to have a beautiful new version of one of her favorite kitchen tools, but this means that I get her old one! I’ve been frequently sending my boyfriend baked goods in care packages, and I am so excited to not have to mix cookie dough by hand anymore! Here’s some pictures of my mom’s new equipment.

I tried out my new mixer this week with a new cookie recipe as well. My boyfriend is a fan of mint and chocolate sweets, so I thought I’d give a cookie version a try. Although it isn’t my favorite flavor combo, these cookies turned out pretty well. They were a big hit with my beau and his roommates too! The only thing I would alter is the amount of green food coloring, though. It’s definitely necessary in order to let people

My new/old mixer atop a kitchen island that my mom got me as a house warming gift.

My new/old mixer atop a kitchen island that my mom got me as a house warming gift.

know that these aren’t the plain old chocolate chip variety, but I don’t think that a brilliant green hue is very attractive unless you’re making them for Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day.

http://www.mccormick.com/Recipes/Dessert/Mint-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies

That’s all for The Dish this week! I hope you all have a fantastic holiday weekend. 🙂

Cherry Clafoutis

This rustic French dish is an easy and elegant option for dessert, breakfast, or brunch.

This week has been an exciting and dizzying experience. Monday marked the beginning of my first full time job (hello, adulthood!), and I couldn’t be happier with my current situation right now. However, I have to admit that I have been scrambling to balance work and experimenting in the kitchen. When I found this recipe during my research, I thought it would be a perfect dish to add to my repertoire. Although it has a fancy-sounding French name (I mispronounced it horribly when trying to explain this week’s post to my mom and co-workers), the recipe is very simple—only a few steps!

As much as it pained me to come home from work earlier this week and start littering my kitchen with sugar, flour, and cherry juice (aka baking), it was well worth it. The result was a flavorful, mildly sweet custard full of ripe, warm cherries, and it totally hit the spot. Cherries are in season and at their sweetest during the next couple of weeks, so get them while you can!

I brought the leftovers in to work this morning, and by the end of the day, only one piece was left! I’d consider that a success, especially since this recipe was the first time I had ever used a cherry pitter, and I accidentally missed a few of the stones…

Cherry pitters are magical, but I learned the hard way that you still need to be extra thorough when removing the pits.

Cherry pitters are magical, but I learned the hard way that you still need to be extra thorough when removing the pits.

I’d like to think that they simply added some extra flavor to the dish since the original recipe calls for unpitted cherries. (At least that’s what I told my new guinea pigs/colleagues!)

Lastly, though clafoutis is considered a dessert, I think that this dish could easily be the star of a breakfast or brunch table as well. Not to mention it is easily adaptable for whatever fruit happens to be in season. So, read on to learn a bit more about this versatile dish, hit up the grocery store for some fresh fruit, and get your clafoutis on:

First of all, let’s start with the pronunciation. Here’s a quick recording of how to say the name of this dish without sounding completely silly like yours truly:

Clafoutis first originated in the Limousin region of France, where, due to the unique geography of the area, farming is particularly successful. Historically, the cuisine of this region is reliant upon local ingredients, making for simple, rustic dishes.1 The name clafoutis can supposedly be traced to the Occitan dialect word claufir, to cover or fill.2 Traditionally, a Limousin clafoutis is prepared with unpitted cherries, but when it uses other kinds of fruit instead, it is called a flaugnarde.

Cherries are a member of the genus Prunus, which belongs to the Rose family (Rosaceae).3 These small stone fruits are actually closely related to peaches, apricots, and even almonds. It is said that the original clafoutis recipe included the cherry pits in order to provide a subtle almond flavor to the dessert. Surprisingly enough, this distinct flavor comes from a natural poisonous compound that plants in the Prunus family produce in order to discourage herbivores from chowing down on them. This toxin, amygdalin, is a precursor to a chemical I’m sure you all have heard of: cyanide.3

Now, before you jump to the conclusion that I’m trying to poison you with a delicious French dessert, it’s important to know that cyanide gas is a miniscule byproduct of consuming ingredients like cherry pits that contain amygdalin. I would suggest eating around the pits if you choose to leave them whole in your clafoutis, but you certainly won’t experience any detrimental effects from accidentally swallowing or nibbling on a few of them. (The difficult part would be trying not to break a tooth!) Another less potent and more enjoyable byproduct of amygdalin is benzaldehyde, which is responsible for that lovely almond flavor.IMG_4263

(Later this week I plan to experiment with adding a dash of almond extract to the custard in order to more closely replicate the traditional recipe’s flavors. I’ll post an update with my conclusions!)

As for the unpitted vs. pitted decision, for me, it boiled down to when and how I wanted to work around the pits: either before baking with a cherry pitter or after baking with my teeth. Personally, I’d rather get them out of the way so I can enjoy my dessert without risking an emergency trip to the dentist. I’m also still contemplating what the proper etiquette for consuming an unpitted clafoutis would be… a clafoutis spittoon?

Cherry Clafoutis

(adapted from Saveur at http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cherry-Clafoutis)

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons sugar (adjustments may be necessary depending on the ripeness of your fruit)
  • 2 tablespoons kirschwasser
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups ripe cherries, pitted or unpitted (or other fruit of your choice)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ cast-iron skillet or baking dish with butter. In a blender, combine the butter, milk, sugar, kirsch, vanilla, eggs, and salt to form the base of your custard. Blend these ingredients together, then incorporate the flour and process until smooth–about 1 minute.

Clafouti just prior to going into the oven.

Clafoutis just prior to going into the oven.

Pour the custard into the greased skillet, then evenly distribute the cherries atop the batter. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the batter comes out clean and the top is golden.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with a dollop of whipped cream on the side.

  1. Limousin: the “château d’eau”. (n.d.). France.fr. Retrieved from http://www.france.fr/en/regions-and-cities/limousin-chateau-deau.html
  2. Cloake, F. (2013, August 29). How to cook the perfect cherry clafoutis. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/aug/29/how-to-cook-perfect-cherry-clafoutis
  3. Preston, K. A. (2012, August 30). The Stone Fruits of Summer [Web log]. Retrieved from https://botanistinthekitchen.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/the-stone-fruits-of-summer/#more-65

The Dish

Happy Friday, all! Throughout this week my mom and I have been trying to work through the mountain of pork we made on Sunday. (I know, poor us.) Instead of simply gorging ourselves on the same, yet delicious, pork pernil meal, we decided to try our hand at a leftovers recipe. We both love a hot cuban sandwich right off the press, and were thinking along those lines, but thought we’d come up with something a little more original. This sandwich features a tasty chipotle mayonnaise that adds a smoky, spicy kick, and rich manchego cheese that melts beautifully. It is also the perfect vehicle for consuming the rest of those pork pernil juices! Here’s the recipe:

Pork Pernil Round Two Sandwich

Tonight's dinner rocked. Leftovers are so underrated.

Tonight’s dinner rocked. Leftovers are so underrated.

  • 1 loaf of Cuban bread
  • Leftover Pork Pernil
  • Chipotle mayonnaise
  • Thinly sliced vidalia onion
  • Arugula
  • Sliced Manchego cheese
  • Leftover Pork Pernil cilantro-lime sauce for dipping
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeds and stems removed and minced (optional)

Cut the bread into the desired size for your sandwich(es) and then slice in half lengthwise. Remove some of the bread from the top half so you can stuff that baby with plenty of goodness! Spread a couple tablespoons of the chipotle mayo on the bottom piece of bread, add ample leftover pork, a sprinkle of jalapeno (if you wish), the onion slices, a handful of arugula, and then top it all with hearty slices of Manchego. Place the top piece of bread on the sandwich, wrap the entire thing loosely, but securely, in one layer of aluminum foil, and press on a hot pan until the bread is toasted, the cheese is melted, and everything is warmed through. Serve with a side of the leftover cilantro-lime juices for dipping and extra napkins!

I also thought it would be worth mentioning my mom’s nifty panini press that made quick work of these awesome pressed sandwiches. Yes, it is Le Creuset. Yes, it is gorgeous. Yes, we are obsessed. Our sincerest apologies. However, this square grill pan and press set is as functional as it is heavy. Though it may be difficult for me to pick up with what my mom calls my ‘noodle arms,’ the weighted press piece pretty much does all the work for you. Check it out!

*Swoon*

*Swoon*

http://www.lecreuset.com/cookware/grill-pans—griddles/grills—grill-pans/panini-set

(And if you’re like me and can’t afford your own, you can always buy a big brick from Home Depot, wash it, and wrap it in plenty of aluminum foil. It works like a charm to press sandwiches!)

Upon tasting this pernil round 2 recipe, I immediately knew that it needed a drink to go along with it. I fancy a fresh and well-made margarita, but these days so many of them are made with horribly sweet and/or sour bottled mixes. I’m not sure when bars and restaurants began forgoing fresh citrus juices for sugary synthetic replacements, but I am so not on board. After a little experimenting in the kitchen, I came up with a simple, refreshing twist on a margarita that doesn’t end up leaving me with a stomach ache.

Ashley’s Sparkling Marg

  • Juice of 1 ripe lime
  • 1 1/2 oz. blanco or silver tequila
  • 1/2 oz. of Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 tsp. agave syrup
  • Plain seltzer water

Mix the first four ingredients together in a glass. Top it off with the seltzer and some ice. Stir well and garnish with a slice of lime.

That’s all for this week’s Dish! If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to finish unpacking my clothes while sipping on a sparkly marg. Enjoy your weekend, everyone. 🙂

Pork Pernil

Things are really coming together at my new place. Best of all, I finally have Internet! However, I spent most of my time with my mom at her place over the weekend. We had a blast cooking together for this week’s post, watching old movies, and enjoying a few mimosas during the process. I hope you all had a wonderful time with your mothers this weekend as well!

Now, I can’t speak for everyone out there, but pork is one of those culinary delicacies that I can never get enough of. Roasts, chops, sausages, tenderloins, bacon, prosciutto: you name it. Pork products are my tasty, tasty kryptonite. So, it seemed only proper to feature a glorious roasted pork recipe in one of my first posts.

Lilly and Dixie got to enjoy some of the pork bones after all our hard work was over!

Lilly and Dixie got to enjoy some of the pork bones after all our hard work was over!

Although this slow-cooked dish takes a number of hours to marinate and roast, the recipe is fairly simple. Personally, I love things that I can prep ahead of time and then just pop in the oven. I adapted this pernil recipe from Cook’s Country, and it turned out fabulous. This would also be ideal for a summer get-together since it is affordable and easily feeds a crowd. Although the crowd that enjoyed this roast consisted only of my mother, myself, and our two spoiled Maltese pups.

Here is a bit of background on Pork Pernil:

Pernil is traditionally cooked using a fresh ham from the rear of the pig. However, this recipe (and most out there, it seems) calls for a pork picnic shoulder. The meat is marinated for at least 12 hours, cooked low and slow initially, and then at a higher temperature to crisp the skin. The bones, connective tissue, skin, and fat in this cut will all contribute to intensifying the decadent pork flavor of the meat and pan drippings. Essentially, using smaller and easier-to-find cuts of the hog helps you to replicate a full-blown outdoor pig roast in your oven.

I love the bright color of the sofrito marinade!

I love the bright color of the sofrito marinade!

Particularly popular as a Christmas dish in Puerto Rico, pork pernil is seasoned with traditional spice blends such as adobo and/or sofrito and served with rice and pigeon peas. Like any dish, preferred seasonings can vary widely from country to country, region to region, and family to family. Adobo is the Spanish term for a marinade or dressing that is comprised of herbs and spices—usually with a base of garlic, oregano, and black pepper.1 Sofrito is another popular staple in Spanish, Latin American, and Portuguese cooking. The ingredients in this flavorful base are typically lard or oil, onions, various kinds of peppers, cilantro, and sometimes tomatoes.2 Combining these two seasonings for marinating and braising the pork really IMG_4026imparts a lot of rich flavor.

I’m already getting hungry for leftovers again, so let’s get to the recipe!

Pork Pernil

(adapted from Cook’s Country at https://www.cookscountry.com/recipes/7453-pork-pernil)

  • 2 cups chopped cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 heaping tablespoons fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, chopped with ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped with ribs and seeds removed (optional)
  • 1 bone-in pork picnic shoulder with skin on
  • 1½ tablespoons lime zest
  • 2/3 cup of lime juice

To make your sofrito mixture, combine 1½ cups of cilantro, the onion, salt, olive oil, garlic, oregano, pepper, cumin, thyme, parsley, and cubanelle and jalapeno peppers in a food processor. Blend well until the sofrito is finely ground. Dry the pork shoulder with paper towels and then spread the sofrito over the entire roast. Marinate in the fridge overnight, or for at least 12 hours for best results.

This is just after removing the foil.

This is just after removing the foil.

Shortly before you are ready to begin cooking, remove the pork from the refrigerator just to take the chill off. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and pour 8 cups of water into a large roasting pan. Place the roast skin side down in the pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 90 minutes. I suggest placing the roast in the lower third of the oven to prevent it from being too close to the heating element–especially in later steps when crisping the skin.

Remove the foil and decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Roast for 2½ hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and prepare your V-rack with nonstick cooking spray. Carefully remove the roast from the pan in one piece (the skin may try to stick to the bottom) and transfer it to the V-rack with the skin side up. Pat the skin dry with paper towels to allow it to begin crisping. Place the V-rack inside the roasting pan with the juices and return to the oven for 1 hour. If the juices in the pan begin to run low, add water as needed.

Look at that crispy skin!

Look at that crispy skin!

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the pork and the V-rack to the baking sheet. Return the pork to the oven and increase the temperature to 450 degrees. Roast for 15-30 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. When it is done, the skin should turn dark brown and make a hollow, crispy noise when tapped with a utensil.

Remove to a carving board and let the pork rest for 30-45 minutes. While the roast is resting, take the juices from the roasting pan and pour them into a fat separator. Let the juices settle for a few minutes and then pour the defatted liquid into a large bowl.

I could drink these juices with a straw.

I could drink these juices with a straw.

Add the remaining ½ cup of cilantro (leaves look prettiest added to the sauce) and the lime zest and juice.

Carefully remove the crispy skin from the pork in one piece, and scrape away any large globs of fat from the bottom of the skin. Chop the cracklin into bite-size pieces and set aside on a plate. (Do not let them steam in a bowl or they will get soggy!) Remove the meat from the bone, taking care to discard any excess fat. Chop roughly and add to just enough of the cilantro-lime pan juices to moisten and flavor the meat (about 1 cup). Toss and serve with the crunchy skin on the side. Garnish with wedges of lime.

The finished roast along with the cilantro-lime juices. (We over-cooked the skin just slightly)

The finished roast along with the cilantro-lime juices. (We over-cooked the skin just slightly)

  1. Collado, K. (2014, December 30). What is Adobo. The Daily Meal. Retrieved from http://www.thedailymeal.com/cook/what-adobo
  2. Rodriguez, H. (2015). Sofrito. Retrieved from http://latinfood.about.com/od/seasoningmarinade/p/What-Is-Sofrito.htm

The Dish

Blogging sure is difficult when your home doesn’t have internet yet! I foresee a few afternoons of writing posts at Starbucks until I can get an appointment with the internet provider. However, I am all moved in and really enjoying my new place!

My mother refers to her LC pieces as "jewelry for the kitchen."

My mother refers to her LC pieces as “jewelry for the kitchen.”

Since my mom so generously helped me relocate earlier this week, I knew that a very special thank you and Mother’s Day gift was in order. My mom and I are both Le Creuset fanatics, and as soon as I saw their new Marseille line, I fell in love with the brilliant blue color. To make this gift even more special, I decided to splurge on the limited edition mariner star dutch oven. The company is only producing 1,925 of these, and my mom is now the proud owner of #854! I know I’m a few days early on the whole Mother’s Day thing, but I simply couldn’t wait to give it to her. If you’re still looking for a last minute gift for mom, I highly recommend you check out Le Creuset.

http://www.lecreuset.com/mariner-star-round-dutch-oven

 

This contraption is so cool!

This contraption is so cool!

As I mentioned in last week’s Dish, I love trying out new things with my spiralizer. While I was searching for new recipes, I happened upon this kale and sweet potato vegan caesar salad. I am totally hooked! The cashew dressing sounds a little odd, but it is surprisingly flavorful. I usually end up making extra to keep in the fridge for spicing up some romaine. If you don’t have a spiralizer, (or your daughter has stolen it) you can just dice the sweet potato instead. Here’s the link to the recipe:
http://www.inspiralized.com/2014/10/05/vegan-kale-and-sweet-potato-noodle-caesar-salad-with-crispy-spiced-chickpeas/

I love the colors in this dish.

I decided to forgo the roasted chickpeas this time around and added some blackened shrimp instead.

Well, that’s all for this week’s Dish, folks! Enjoy your weekend and give your mother lots of love on Sunday!

Ginger Breeze

Once again, summer is just around the corner. Around this time each year, as the temperatures hover in the upper 80s, I begin to regret cursing the mild and intermittent chills that we Floridians call ‘winter’. In no time at all, it will be impossible to set foot outside for even a moment without breaking into a violent sweat.

There's nothing like perfecting recipes mid-move!

There’s nothing like perfecting recipes mid-move!

Thankfully, I just completed my big move before the dog days of the season. However, it was still sweltering and unpleasant enough to prompt me to try out a new concoction meant to help ward off the oppressive summer heat. Allow me to introduce the ginger breeze. Once I’m all unpacked, I want to do nothing else but lay on the beach sipping one of these until I start my new job in two weeks.

This drink uses ginger-infused vodka and thyme simple syrup to spruce up a tried and true iced tea and lemonade beverage. Some of you may know the nonalcoholic version as an Arnold Palmer or half and half. As refreshing as the original is, however, I feel that a summery beverage definitely calls for an extra kick. Although it may sound fancy, it’s actually quite easy to make.

The original Arnold Palmer beverage is, of course, named after the renowned golfer. With 92 overall victories, 4 Masters, two PGA Player of the Year Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and many more accolades, Palmer’s legacy is far greater than a refreshing clubhouse mocktail.1 In that golf history vein, an alcoholic version of this citrusy tea drink may also be referred to as a John Daly. Another prominent golfer with a less pristine past, Daly has admitted to struggling with alcohol and gambling issues.2 The ginger breeze certainly is tasty, but hopefully it doesn’t cause anyone to start binge drinking or wearing obnoxiously loud golf pants.

I apologize for the shorter entry this week, but I am still mostly living out of boxes and without internet! If you try this recipe, I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me:

Ginger Breeze

       Ginger-infused vodka

  • ½ cup fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 1.75 liter bottle of good vodka

       Thyme rich simple syrup

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tea bags (black tea)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice

For the ginger-infused vodka, pour entire bottle into a pitcher with a lid. Add the chopped fresh ginger and store in a cool, dark place. Allow the mixture to infuse for at least three days, and stir or shake it a few times per day. Once the vodka is done, strain out the ginger pieces.

To make the rich simple syrup, combine two cups of sugar and one cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and add the sprigs of thyme. Let the syrup and herbs infuse for 10-15 minutes. Remove the thyme and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Brew three cups of tea to your desired strength and let it cool. (I used Lipton original black tea*.) Combine the tea, lemon juice, 1½ cups of simple syrup, and two cups of vodka in a pitcher and serve chilled with a sprig of thyme or a slice of candied ginger.

*Note: I’m not really a tea person (aka a coffee addict) and actually over-steeped my tea and it was incredibly strong. To counteract the bitterness, I diluted my tea with water and used three cups of this mixture in the final recipe. Try not to steep your tea too long, but if you do, just try this simple fix.

Sources
  1. Arnold Palmer. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.arnoldpalmer.com/allarnie/index.aspx
  2. Murray, E. (2014, April 7). John Daly: I was young and dumb back in the 90s but I had a lot of fun. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/apr/07/john-daly-masters-golf-young-dumb-90s

Introducing: ‘The Dish’

I have an announcement! Each Friday I’ll be posting a brief round-up of cooking tips, tricks, revelations, and experiments to keep everyone up-to-date on what’s happening in my kitchen. I hope you enjoy!

The past two weeks have been incredibly hectic. I don’t ever recommend starting a blog during finals week and just before a move! I have been packing boxes and writing final assignments like a fiend. Unfortunately, most of my cookware is already packed, so please forgive the lack of pictures in this first edition of ‘The Dish’. (I know nobody wants to see me eating chambord berries off of a paper plate!) However, I’m finally done with this semester and will be settling into my new apartment next week, so things can only get better from here. Here’s a few of my culinary musings for this week:

  • I made a big ol’ pot of three bean turkey chili in my slow cooker this week, and naturally, I found myself having to chop quite a bit of onion for the recipe (and some extra for topping). Onions always frustrate me. I know that there is a nifty, professional chef-type way of easily slicing and dicing them, but my knife skills aren’t exactly top-notch. However, I finally gave it a try, and it was well worth the experimentation. (And there was no blood involved!) Here’s a how-to video from chef Jamie Oliver:
  • While I was home for spring break this year, I swiped a pretty peculiar piece of kitchen equipment from my mother—a spiralizer. In all honesty, the contraption looks like a Play-Doh machine that has been given a chef’s makeover, but after fooling around with it for a few weeks, I am in love! I don’t think my mom’s ever getting this thing back… Here’s a link to the one I have stole: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/paderno-sprializer/?pkey=e|spiralizer|12|best|0|1|24||4&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules
  • Lastly, strawberries are in season and I have been absolutely craving a recipe my mother used to make with macerated berries and pound cake, topped with liqueur-infused whipped cream. Sounds heavenly, right? Sadly, since I don’t currently have a mixer, this heavenly whipped topping is out of the question. However, I did decide to tackle my own version of this dessert on my own and it couldn’t be easier. The best part is you can’t really mess it up!

    Chambord Macerated Berries

    • 1 pint of strawberries, hulled and cut into bite-size pieces
    • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup Chambord Liqueur

Mix cut berries, sugar, and Chambord in a bowl, cover, and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour. Depending on the tartness of the berries and your personal taste, additional sugar may be necessary. (I like my berries quite fresh and not overly sweet.) You can also try this with other kinds of berries or a mix! Serve atop ice cream, pound cake, or both!

That’s this week’s ‘Dish’! What’s been going on in your kitchen this week?

Chicken Paprikás

Take a trip to Hungary via your spice cabinet. Paprika is sure to warm your soul.

Florida’s rainy summer weather is starting already, and I have to say, I’m quite fond of the thunderstorms that roll in each afternoon like clockwork. (So long as I have nowhere to be and can cozy up in my apartment with a good book or movie!) The only thing that’s been missing from my rainy day festivities is some soul-warming comfort food.

hunky1

One of my great-grandmother’s cookbooks–published in 1955!

It just so happens that my mom dug up her grandmother’s (my great-grandma’s) old cookbooks the other day, so I thought I’d try to whip up one of these recipes with my own flair. My maternal grandfather’s family was extremely Hungarian, so most of the books and recipes that my mom rediscovered include things like ‘pot steak,’ jellied pigs’ feet, and stuffed cabbage. Considering that most people these days aren’t gnawing away on pickled pigs’ feet, I thought I’d go for a classic slow-cooked dish: chicken paprikás.

Looking over the few different recipes for chicken paprikás in my great grandmother’s cookbooks, I noticed that there was a serious lack of vegetables in all of them. But, to be fair, this dish originated as humble country grub. While the adapted recipe I’ve provided below may not be totally authentic, I found it to be flavorful and a tad more nutritious. (Veggies 4 lyfe!)

hung2

One of the variations I found in my great-grandma’s cookbooks.

Here’s a bit of background on this beloved Hungarian entrée:

Chicken paprikás is named for the spice that stars in this flavorful red dish. Paprika is made by grinding the pods of Capsicum annuum peppers into a powder. It can come in eight different grades, varying from mildly sweet and bright red (Különleges) to a dark reddish brown with ample heat (Erös). Paprika has become pretty much synonymous with Hungarian cooking, but the peppers from which it is made did not originate anywhere near Central Europe.

IMG_3924

My version of paprikás simmering away on the stove.

Native to North and northern South America, Capsicum annuum is a species of pepper that varies widely in shape, size, color, and level of spice.1 It is said that Christopher Columbus mistook these spicy plants for the source of prized black pepper and brought them back to Spain from the New World at the end of the 15th century.2, 3 However, culinary use of these peppers did not take off immediately. Paprika peppers, or ‘Turkish peppers’ were actually used as exotic ornamental plants in wealthy Europeans’ gardens.3

Like many ingredients in the culinary world, paprika did come full circle, though. In the 16th and 17th centuries, paprika was brought to Hungary from the Balkans by Greek, Turkish, and Slavic peoples.3 Peasants and herdsmen began using the spice in their simple stews, such as gulyás (goulash), and eventually wealthier folks embraced the practice as well. It is suggested that widespread use of paprika in Hungary came about in the late 18th century, when it appears on a written monastery inventory, and even as a surname in a few registry documents.3IMG_3901

Nowadays, paprika is typically used as a finishing touch of color atop deviled eggs, but if you’re looking for some truly authentic flavor in your paprikás or gulyás, look for the Hungarian variety. The two main hubs for paprika production in Hungary are Szeged and Kalocsa, and each is home to a paprika museum and festival. (Szeged brand is what I used in the recipe below, and it is available in many grocery stores.)

Chicken Paprikás

  • 2 Tbsp. bacon fat or oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz. mushroom caps, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1.5 lbs. chicken pieces (I opted for skinless chicken thighs)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (approx.)
  • 2.5 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sour cream brought to room temperature
  • Cooked egg noodles for serving

Heat bacon fat or oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and carefully brown, stirring frequently to avoid sticking and burning. After the onions are browned, salt and pepper the chicken pieces and add them to the pot. Brown chicken on both sides. Add the red pepper, garlic, and mushrooms, stirring to incorporate well. Allow to saute for a few minutes.

Carefully brown the onions and chicken.

Carefully brown the onions and chicken.

Add enough chicken broth to just cover the chicken pieces, being sure to scrape the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the paprika and tomato paste, lower heat to a simmer, and cover. Let cook for approximately one hour.

The chicken should be tender and easily come off the bone, and the drippings should be of a sauce consistency once done. If there is too much liquid, cook a little longer uncovered to boil it off, or use a roux to thicken to desired consistency.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Take the room temperature sour cream and slowly stir in warm sauce from the pot a spoonful at a time. This ‘tempering’ helps to ensure that your sauce will incorporate smoothly rather than break or curdle. Once the sour cream is warmed, add it all to the pot and stir.

Voila: A hearty hunky favorite!

Voila: A hearty hunky favorite!

Serve hot over dumplings, rice, mashed potatoes, or noodles. Enjoy!

Sources:
1) Paprika. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/442178/paprika
2) Swains, H. (2013). Paprika: A primer on Hungary’s spicy obsession. Retrieved
from http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/29/travel/paprika-hungary/
3) Smith, M., & Jusztin, M. (2014). Paprika: The spice of life in Hungary. In Jolliffe, L.
(Ed.), Spices and tourism: Destinations, attractions, and cuisines (pp. 53-71). Bristol, UK: Channel View.
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