Archive for October, 2011

Next up in project clean out my parents’ freezer: pork loin

Back when I was buying cheap meat, a pork loin was one of the best bargains out there – almost all lean meat, no bones, and could be found on sale as cheaply as $1.88/lb

Being just one person, I’d cut a whole loin into three roasts and freeze them. Even then, it’s quite a lot of meat. And it has a tendency toward being dry and flavorless.

The cooking method I learned from my mother was to pick the roast with the thickest outer layer of fat as possible, embed some garlic cloves in the meat and threat some rosemary sprigs between the fat and the meat, coat the outside in garlic salt, and roast it in a slow oven. This produced a lovely, and usually juicy, meal. But the leftovers still tended to be dry.

So ever since I discovered carnitas, I’ve taken to braising this cut. And that means I can even trim off the fat layer.

Braised Pork w/ tomatoes and orange peel

Put the following things into a pot:

  • Pork roast, trimmed of exterior fat and freezer burn (cause I live a classy life)
  • 1 quart of (homemade, home-canned nyah nyah nyah) stock
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (okay, so this was storebought, but it was a great sale)
  • thinly sliced orange peel – now this one requires some explanation because I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do this, but last year I started keeping my citrus peels in water. That simple: eat fruit, put clean peel into a container, fill container with water all the way up to the top so there’s minimal oxidization, refrigerate. I should probably worry about bacteria, but the citrus is fairly resiliant on its own and the peels never developed an off smell. If you change the water every couple of weeks, then the peels are less bitter with each successive change of water, and the pith softens so it can be easily scraped away. Seriously – this is amazing. Why isn’t everyone doing this? Right, so I had these from last winter and they still smelled fine, and I knew I’d be cooking the stuff for hours, so I sliced it into little orangey ribbons and delicious flavor.

And then cook it for a few hours. I went to OutFest with it on low, and then turned the heat up for a few hours once I came home and could supervise it.

I considered it done once the meat was falling apart and almost all of the liquid had been cooked out (as much as I felt confident cooking out without burning it to the bottom of the pan)

So now I had a tasty meat base, so what was I going to do with it so I didn’t get tired of it?

Well, I made half a cup of white rice, and I froze some lunch portions with the rice and about half of the braised pork.

And I had a we smidgeon of rice left, so I took another wee smidgeon (1/4 cup) of pork and made quesadillas

Braised Pork Quesadillas (pork is braised, not the quesadilla)

They key to a good quesadilla (and a good filled crepe) is to not put too much in. If it’s still flat, then you’re I’m going to enjoy it more.

So throw a tortilla in a heated skillet. Once the tortilla is warm, flip it over and start working very quickly (that is – have a mis en place).

Add the thinnest layer of cheese you can.

Pick a half of the tortilla. Cover it with a little leftover (but warm) rice that has been tossed with lime cilantro dressing, a little of the braised pork (drain the liquid away and have a mostly dry filling), and some shredded kale (some sharp onions would have also been good here).

Fold the bare (i.e. with just cheese) half of the tortilla over the filling and make a nice even sandwich. Press flat. And flip it over to brown the outside of the tortilla and wilt the kale. Peek under to see when you have a few burnt spots on the underside of the quesadilla. Decide whether you want the (now) top crisped up anymore (if so, flip and cook a little more). Then serve. Have sour cream on the side.

And I still had about half of the braised pork left. So I made a stew-type dish.

Pork and Chickpea Stew

Add a little oil to the bottom of a pot and sweat an onion, diced. Once the onion is translucent, add a drained can of chickpeas (or soak them overnight and cook them a bit longer than is called for in this recipe… since this here cooking is mostly just getting everything warm enough for the flavors to intermingle).

Now my braised pork was pretty intensely flavored, but if it hadn’t been, I would start adding seasonings here – some cumin seeds, maybe a stick of cinnamon, marjoram, and maybe some raisins would have been an interesting choice. But I didn’t do that.

I did, however, have a baked sweet potato in my fridge, and that seemed like a good addition, so I pulled it out, peeled it, sliced it a couple times against the grain, and mixed it in with the chickpeas.

And then I added the braised pork.

Cooked it for a couple minutes until the smells mixed, and then I dished it up into containers to freeze for lunches.

Tags: , , , ,

Wooo! Let me tell you something amazing!

So my sister got me a food processor for a house warming gift. And this is the magic key to making bean dips. I had no idea.

But now there is so much freedom!

Last weekend I had people over to craft, and I made up a platter of sandwich fixings. But I forgot to make something vegan (I mean, there was bread and lettuce and tomato and all, but nothing of bulk to hold it together). I’d meant to buy some hummus – as you do – but I’d forgotten and checked it off my shopping list in error.

And the person came up to me and softly asked, “Erm… food?” Or words to that effect.

And I could just go to my cabinet and pick a random can of beans and turn it into random dip.

Random Dip, I tell you!

First option: Chipotle Black Bean Dip

Step 1 – drain the beans, rinse thoroughly (otherwise it can get too salty), and dump into the processor.

And then I said unto myself – we need a saturated fat alternative to lard, and I have this here awesome coconut fat. So I added about a tablespoon of that. And some olive oil, because why not?

Oh, and you’re closing the food processor and turning it on in between each addition and then tasting to see what else would be good – I don’t think you can over-process bean dip.

And then some fajita seasoning. But the beans are a strong flavor, so also some powdered oregano and thyme and maybe some cinnamon, too, for fun.

Oh, yeah, and there were a few cloves of the roasted garlic I had in the fridge. Raw would have been fun, too.

And, yet, still not spicy – and rather thick.

So I squeezed a lime into it and added about half a teaspoon of chipotle sauce (maybe more?).

And it was amazing. The non-vegans were all over that, too! I enjoyed it on potato bread with microgreens.

So then a few months later, there was a need for dip again… and a guest had started a bottle of red and turned out to be the only one drinking wine that night, so I decided a swig of red wine wouldn’t go amiss, and I shaped the dip around that flavor.

Red Wine and Ginger Black Bean Dip

Drain, rinse, and add the beans to the food processor. And a slug of red wine!

Oh, yeah, coconut fat would be even more appropriate in this combination.

And then peel and grate about an inch of ginger into the bowl of the processor (and then brush it off the middle part because that gets awkward).

Grind some black pepper. Squeeze some lime. sprinkle just a little cinnamon and thyme.

And a teaspoon of dijon mustard rounds it out nicely.

Tags:

4
Oct

Invitation: Roman Cooking Workshop – 10/23

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in Food, historical, invitation

Here’s a rough list of dishes that look interesting, which I still haven’t tried:

III.iv.1 – Gustum de Cucurbitis

Cucurbitis coctas expressas in patinam compones. Adicies in mortarium piper, cuminum, silfi modice, [id est laseris radicem], rutae modicum, liquamine et aceto temperabis, mitted defritum modicum ut coloretur, ius exinanies in patinam. Cum ferbuerint iterum ac tertio, depones et piper minutum asparges.

Tastings of Marrow

Cook marrows, drain off the water, and arrange in a shallow pan. Put in the mortar pepper, cumin, a little asafoetida, a little rue, and blend with liquamen and vinegar. Add a little defrutum to give color, and pour this sauce into the pan. When it has come to the boil three times, take off the fire and sprinkle ground pepper over it.

~*~

III.xi.2 – Aliter betas elixas

Ex sinapi, oleo modico et aceto bene interuntur.

Boiled beets redux

They are good served with a dressing of mustard, a little oil, and vinegar.

~*~

III.xxi.2 – Aliter caroetas

sale, oleo puro et aceto

Carrots, another way

with salt, pure oil, and vinegar

~*~

V.ii.2 – Lenticulam de castaneis

Accipies caccabum novum, et castaneas purgatas diligenter mittis. Adicies aquam et nitrum modice, facies ut coquatur. Cum coquitur, mittis in mortario peper, cumium, semen coriandri, mentam, rutum, laseris radicem, puleium, fricabis. Suffundis acetum, mel, liquamen, aceto temperabis, et super castasead coctas refundis. Adicies oleum, facies ut ferveat. Cum bene ferbuerit, tudiclabis [ut in mortario teres]. Gustas: si quid deest, addes. Cum in boletar miseris, addes oleum viride.

V.ii.3 – Aliter Lenticulam

Coquis. Cum despumaverit, porrum et coriandrum viride supermittis. coriandri semen, puleium, laseris radicem, semen mentae et rutae, suffundis acetum, adicies mel, liquamine, aceto, defrito temperabis, adicies oleum, agitabis. Si quid opus fuerit, mittis. Amulo obligas, insuper oleum viride mittis, piper aspargis at inferes.

Lentils with Chestnuts
(note: this dish will only be made if there are at least three people able to help with shelling the chestnuts) (Also, it was referenced in an episode of Highlander… and I’ve had trufax in person conversations with the writer for the show who added that bit about what the ending consistency and texture should be.)

Take a new saucepan and put in the carefully cleaned chestnuts. Add water and a little cooking-soda. Put on the fire to cook. When cooked, put in the mortar pepper, cumin, coriander seed, mint, rue, asafoetida root, and pennyroyal; pound. Moisten with vinegar, add honey and liquamen, blend with vinegar, and pour over the boiled chestnuts. Add oil, bring to the boil. When it is boiling well, stir. Taste: if something is missing, add it. When you have put it in the serving dish, add best oil.

Lentils

Boil [the lentils]; when you have skimmed off the froth, put in leeks and green coriander. Pound coriander seed, pennyroyal, asafoetida root, mint, and rue, moisten with vinegar, add honey, blend with liquamen, vinegar, and defrutum. Pour over the lentils, add oil, stir. [Taste]: if something is wanting, add it. Thicken with flour, pour on best oil, sprinkle with pepper, and serve

[Combine these two dishes for Lentils AND Chestnuts]

~*~

V.vi.3 – Aliter fabaciae

ex sinapi trito, melle, nucleis, ruta, cumino et aceto inferuntur.

Green beans

[Boiled], served with ground mustard, honey, pine-kernels, rue, cumin, and vinegar.

~*~

VII.xv.3 – Aliter fungi farnei

Elixi ex sale, oleo, mero, coriandro conciso inferuntur.

Three Fungi, Another method (we’ll use regular mushrooms)

Sautee with salt, oil, wine, and chopped coriander.

~*~

VIII.viii.12 – Leporem [pipere] sicco sparsum

Et hunc praecondies sicut haedum Tarpeianum. Antequam coquatur, ornatus suitur. Piper, rutam, satureiam, cepam, thymum modicum, liquamine collues, postea in furnum [mittes], coques et impensa tali circumsparges: piperis semunciam, rutam, cepam, satureiam, dactylos iv, uvam passam ustam coloratum super vatillum, vinum, oleum, liquamen, caroenum, frequenter tangitur ut condituram suam omnem tollat, postea ex pipere sicco in disco sumitur.

Hare Sprinkled with Dry Pepper (using chicken)

Prepare the hare as for Tarpeian Kid (VIII.vi.9 – de-boned). Before cooking it truss and sew up. Moistenit with a mixture of pepper, rue, savory, onion, a little thyme, and liquamen, then pour it in the oven, cook, and pour all over the following mixture: 1/2 oz pepper, rue, onion, savory, 4 dates, raisins browned over a brazier, wine, oil, liquamen, and caroenum. Baste the hare with this mixture frequently, so that it absorbs the entire liquid. Then lift out and serve on a round dish with dry pepper.

Let me know if you are interested in attending. I’d like to have a minimum of 3 people, but because my kitchen is still fairly small there should not be more than 8.

Note: All translations by Barbara Flower and Elisabeth Rosenbaum

3
Oct

Manakeesh

   Posted by: JS74nCLOr6    in restaurant, Review

I’ve been remiss in writing, and I’ve been holding out on you. Some of the restaurants I visit most end up being the ones I never get around to reviewing.

But let me assure you that I was thrilled when a Lebanese bakery opened one block from my old apartment… right after I moved away. I’d been avidly watching the renovation of the abandoned building into something beautiful – with dark wood tables and colorful walls.

Manakeesh

Manakeesh = flatbreads with tasty stuff. Sometimes they are served flat, sometimes folded in half, and sometimes rolled. I haven’t yet figured out the pattern. But here are the ones I’ve tried so far:

  • Za’tar – Their za’tar blend is heavier on the thyme than the Penzey’s version. I highly recommend asking for a side of labneh and tearing off pieces of the bread and dipping it.
  • veggie – it kind of like ratatouille on a flat bread. I really want there to be one with loosely held together roasted vegetables, but it is not this one. Guaranteed to drip on your shirt at least once. Tasty, if you don’t have a pre-conceived craving.
  • spinach and cheese – Is taste for 3 minutes while the cheese is gooey. And then not tasty. And then – oddly – tasty once again when it is cold and you’re eating it for breakfast.
  • kishk – So one morning I was looking at the board and going, “Yeah, but what here is underappreciated that I should try?” And the owner pointed me toward this one. And, yes, it is delightful. It’s spicy and rich (and messy – I tried to eat it as street food while walking, but I quickly gave up and sat on a stoop to finish it). Not what I was expecting at all from the “cracked wheat and yogurt paste” description.
  • Kafta – a fine layer of ground beef and lamb folded around a surprise pickle. Well, the pickles were a surprise to me. And they went surprisingly well with the flavor, just a mild sharp note to balance the richness of the meat.
  • tawook – also a surprise pickle. Also working really well here. The chicken is incredibly tender and delightful.

Salads and Dishes

  • Baba Ghanouj – tasted as if it were generously mixed with tahini.
  • Fool – mixture of paste and identifiable beans, this is generously seasoned with lemon. Make sure they serve you the pita that comes with (for most of the others you have to order pita separately)
  • Tabbouleh – is excellent here! Lovely fresh parsley and very summery. Well, at least it has been through summer.

Sweets

  • Fried dough – skip the fried dough. It has hardly any taste, and it is coated with enough tough sugar to be able to withstand being out all day
  • Baklava – but a billion tasty varieties of attractive baklava. YAY!
  • Seriously, everything except the fried dough is delicious.
  • ma’moul – I love these! They are not so sweet, but they are stuffed (with dates, walnuts, or pistachio). This right here is a delicious breakfast.
  • “power bar” – nuts held together with syrup on top of an amazing short bread. This is incredibly filling and great with tea.

Beverages

  • Tea! There are two paths for tea appreciation here. TWO! (three if you count iced, but I don’t.) You can have traditional tea in an elegant pot (which will burn you, if you aren’t careful) poured into small glasses (which would burn you, but of course you are careful and place your fingertips around the rim above the pour line). It has a blend of teas and mint (with a mild mint taste that complements, rather than taking over). OR you can have non-traditional tea (for some reason they always look at me funny when I say that to order it). They stock Mighty Leaf, one of my favorite brands
  • coffee – they take their coffee seriously, and you can have traditional Turkish tea or a wide variety of sexy coffee beverages, but that is not my thing.
  • They do smoothies. Those are only okay – they come from a mix/

And they opened up outdoor seating! I love eating outside. During Ramadan they switched to evening hours and had specials each night. I didn’t get to take advantage of it this year, but next year I am totally stopping by after work (since I frequently work until 9pm).

So what has me thinking about them? This Saturday I was walking by, and they had a sign out advertising a new manakeesh – Cream Cheese! Have I mentioned my ongoing love affair with cream cheese? So I go in thinking it’s, you know, cream cheese on a flat bread, so I order it with some za’tar. But no, it has vegetables and olives and all kinds of stuff going on. (made for me!) So I order it with vegetables, but no olives – since I don’t like olives.

…and it comes with olives. But I liked it anyway! This one came rolled up, and it wanted to dribble out the end, but it was so sinfully good. Intensely favored, mellow and creamy, and just the right amount of filling.

So this sounds like the perfect place, right? Well, there are a couple things I don’t like. For one thing, if you were looking for the land of passive aggressive notes, this is the place for you. There are about 40 numbered signs pinned up (on the soda machine, by the trash, in the bathrooms, on the cash register, etc.) with helpful hints like, “Our customers are the best because they don’t use credit cards for checks under $10.”

And… well, actually that’s the main thing I don’t like.

The owner remembers your name (and will remember that you are capable of drinking quite a lot of tea), and the staff is delightful.

And some day I am going to remember the name of that orchid drink I fell in love with over the summer and ask the owner if he’d consider carrying it.