Sunday, July 7, 2019

Ghee Hollandaise


So we were recently gifted some ghee from our friends at gheewell.com and were debating what to do with it beside saute, which is what ghee is excellent for. So I'm was debating doing a Dutch baby, or some caramel sauce or something like scampi and I remember I"m sitting on the last ham steak that I was gifted from a friend who raised his pork from a baby and had it cured and smoked at Taylor's Sausage. So I whipped up a hollandaise sauce, which ghee is perfect for, and roasted up that ham steak, toasted up some rye bread, and fried an egg sunny side up to top this off and away we went.

Got some Cro-Mags to go with this because we scored tickets to see the Misfits (with the surviving original line-up, including Glen), Rancid, Cro-Mags, and The Damned. So we've been listening to a lot of the old school punk from our youth.


Ghee Hollandaise
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 4 people

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 8 tbs liquid(melted) ghee

This recipe is really simple. Separate four egg yolks from their whites. Add those to your blender. Juice one lemon and separate one tbsp juice to add to blender. Add more if you prefer a more tart or sour hollandaise. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne. Blend on medium high. Drizzle in melted ghee slowly until hollandaise is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Drizzle on food and thoroughly enjoy.




Some notes: we frequently alter this recipe to make it exotic or different. This time I added powdered chipotle and some yellow curry. The wife has often substituted lime for lemon and added cilantro for a Mexican twist. Do you.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Cochinita Pibil

I'm a huge fan of Mexican food, citrus, pork, and easy meals. Every couple of weeks I'm buying a pork shoulder roast and doing it up Mexican style in the slow cooker with a lot of the same flavors found in a traditional cochinita pibil. It's easy to throw together, very little clean up, super delicious and it leaves you with some awesome broth leftover that's a great liquid for making rice or masa with.

Traditional cochinita pibil calls for slow roasting the marinated meat in a banana leaf but I add a couple of peppers to zip it up a bit and do it in the slow cooker lined in banana leaf. So it comes pretty close to the real deal and it's definitely good enough that you won't care about any differences.

Pork shoulder roasts, or butt roasts, come in a couple of different preparations.  The least processed is the bone-in, skin-on roast and the most processed is the boneless, skinless pack. I prefer using the bone-in roasts because that bone imparts some awesome flavor during this slow cooking process. If your roast comes with skin on, remove the skin. I find it easiest to start at a corner and once you get a little flap up, it's pretty easy to just pull that tab up and run the knife edge along the bottom side of the skin. Careful not to hack the actual meat up too badly and make sure not to trim all the fat off during this process. That fat layer between the skin and meat is what's going to give that awesome, rich pork flavor to the roast.

Now, banana leaves. You may live in an area where there are no banana leaves available. I pity you. I happen to live in California where banana leaves can be purchased at the local supermarket and many folks have them growing in their yards and pay nothing. If you can't get banana leaves, or just don't want to use them, don't worry. This pork is awesome even without banana leaf. However, the leaves do impart that amazing, vegital sweetness that goes well with pork. In fact, it goes SO well with pork that Hawaiians flavor their Kahlua pork with sea salt and banana leaf and smoke. Nothing else. So if you have the means to use banana leaf, I encourage you to try it. And if you end up with a ton left over, like I did, you can vacuum freeze it and it lasts a good long time. So you can bust it out of the freezer next time you need some tamale wrappers!

I was feeling a SoCal vibe while making this so I was jamming to some Sublime. Some punk rock Sublime. Paddle Out.



Cochinita Pibil
Prep time: 1 day
Cook time: 12-14 hours
Difficulty: easy
Serves: loads of people


  • 10-12 lb pork shoulder roast (bone in is preferred)
  • 10 cloves garlic, pealed
  • 1 habanero pepper (deseeded)
  • 5 puya peppers (deseeded)
  • 2 limes (juice of both, zest of one)
  • 2 oranges (juice and zest of both)
  • 1 tsp whole cloves (about 8)
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seed (1 1/2 tsp ground can be substituted) 
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 six inch stick canela (1 tsp ground cinnamon can be substituted)
  • 3 tbsp ground annatto seeds (can be omitted but will change flavor and color)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp grated piloncillo (dark brown sugar can be substituted)
  • 1 large banana leaf 
  • 2 cups water
First thing we're going to do is make the marinade that is going to season this dish. In a blender combine the garlic, habanero and puya peppers, juice from both of the limes, the zest of one of the limes, the juice and zest of both oranges, the cloves, peppercorns, Mexican oregano, cumin seed, coriander, canela stick, ground annatto seed, salt and piloncillo. Blend thoroughly on the highest setting, until the mixture is as smooth as possible.

Place the pork roast in a marinating container or bag and thoroughly coat with the marinade. Let marinate in the fridge over night.

If using banana leaves, cut into six inch strips and line the bottom and sides of the slow cooker with the leaves, covering the entire surface. Place the pork roast in the slow cooker and cover with strips of banana leaf, folding and overhanging leaves into the center of the slow cooker. Add the two cups of water. Cover and cook.

Cook the roast on the low setting for twelve to fourteen hours, or until pork is fall apart tender. Reserve the liquid when removing the pork as you will want to add some back to the shredded meat to achieve the desired moistness. Also, any left over broth is great to make rice or quinoa with or to use for making tamale masa. P.S. After you make tamale masa with that delicious broth, fill them with that awesome pork!



This pork makes an excellent taco filling, or enchilada filling, or tamale filling, or whatever. Make pulled pork sandwiches out of it, or fry it up with some eggs. Taquitos. Just sayin.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

J's Homemade Bacon

So, several years ago, I wanted to try brining and curing my own meats. I did  couple of corned beef roasts but I've been wanting to try my hand at bacon. So here's my first, real attempt at homemade bacon. It's not too tricky but it does take some fridge space and a little while to do properly, so it may not be for everyone. Also, if you look up homemade bacon recipes on the interwebs, you will find everyone has a particular way that they insist is the only way to do bacon properly.  Well, I've tried about three different ways of doing it now and the one I settled on isn't how anyone says to do it that I could really find but it's how I brine most meats in our house so it's what I'm comfortable with.

First of all, you'll need to source some raw pork belly. Not every store will carry unadulterated pork belly and you may need to look around a bit. Also, some places may carry pork belly in different stages of processing. I was fortunate to have my local Cosco carry pork belly in a slab with the skin removed as well as packages of that slab cut into 3-4 inch strips. I opted for the strips because we have a meat slicer I wanted to use for my slicing and it was not large enough to accommodate the full slab of pork belly, nor did my fridge have that much free real estate.

There's two basic methods of brining when it comes to bacon: dry and wet. If you do some research, you'll find people are very particular about the method they use and they're more than happy to tell you why. I tried both. I prefer the wet method to the dry method and my reason is simple: I got more consistent coverage and even penetration than with the dry method. That's all.

You will also find people are very adamant about the use of pink curing salt (a.k.a. Prague Powder #1, butchers salt, Morton Tender Quick Meat Cure, etc.) which is common table salt with sodium nitrite and coloring added so that it isn't confused for regular salt. This should not be confused with Himalayan pink salt, which is pink due to the presence of trace minerals in the salt itself and doesn't contain sodium nitrite. Do some research, use what you like, don't use an ingredient you don't want to. There are natural alternatives to sodium nitrite infused salt but what I basically found is that those natural methods use ingredients (usually celery salt) that eventually break down during the curing process into...sodium nitrite. Consuming nitrites is like anything else in life: Large quantities = bad. Moderation = good.

Quick note: I used agave syrup and Puya peppers as my sweet and heat in this recipe because it's what I had around the house since I've been doing a lot of Mexican food recently. Used crushed red pepper flake and honey if that's what you prefer or get crazy. It's your bacon.



Been jamming to a lot of Osker recently so I'm going to go with their song Kinetic off of the album Idle will kill. Some classic, late-ninties, early 2000s skate punk.



J's Bacon
Prep time: 3-5 days
Cook time: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: easy
Serves: depends on batch size
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pink curing salt
  • 1/4 honey (I used light agave syrup cause it was around and I thought 'why not?')
  • 2 tbsp crushed red pepper flake (I used Puya peppers since it's what I had readily available)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 3 lbs raw pork belly cut into strips with the skin removed
Get your red pepper flake, and cumin seed into the saucepan over a low flame.  Toast the pepper and cumin until they give off scent, a couple of minutes. You're just trying to wake up the oils in them and bring them to the surface so they will come off quickly in the water. 

Add the water, both salts, sugar, honey, and paprika to the pan and kick the heat up to high. Bring to a boil, stirring in the ingredients until they are all dissolved (except the pepper flake and cumin seed obviously). As soon as the brine comes to a boil, turn off the heat, and set aside to cool to room temp. You don't want it to be warm enough to cook the pork belly when you apply it.

Place your pork belly slab/strips in a gallon ziplock bag (I find the heavy duty freezer ones work best) or some other container appropriate for holding sweet/salty, porky water for a few days in your fridge without making a huge mess. Add the cooled brine. I like the ziplock bag because it allows me to expel most of the air from the bag making sure that the brine is in contact with the all the pork surfaces, all the time. That is one of the problems with the dry rub brine method is uneven coating and distribution of the season over time creates "hot spots" that are heavily seasoned and "dead zones" that have little seasoning by comparison. This method gives full coverage and full penetration.


Now just toss you pork belly in the fridge for 3-5 days depending on how salty you like your bacon. I prefer mine on the less salty side so I like the three day soak but try it out and if it's not salty enough or just doesn't give you that hammy/bacon kick you're looking for try a 4-5 day soak.


Lastly, comes the smoke. Now, you can take your bacon out of the brine. Rinse it off under cold water and pat dry with some paper towels. Set it out on a cooling rack over a baking sheet so as to allow for air flow on all sides and to catch any drippings or whatnot and place it in the fridge for 12 hours (just toss it in overnight) prior to cooking. This drys the surface and forms what's called the pellicle that better captures the smokes flavors and colors on the finished product. If you can't let it sit overnight for some reason, some dry time is better than none. At least let it dry till the surface is tacky to the touch.
See the paprika and chili bits adhered to the surface of the meat?!

At this point your bacon could be finished in the oven, sliced and cooked and served immediately. However, I like my bacon smoked. So I soaked wood chips for smoking. I used 50% apple wood, 25% alder, and 25% mesquite. I smoked at 225 degrees on my little gas grill and 3 lbs took about 2-3 hours each time or until the internal temp reaches 145 Fahrenheit. Remove from the grill and let cool.


One tip I will give for slicing bacon is that it should be very cold before you attempt to cut/slice. As in, just on the verge of freezing is perfect. The warmer it is, the harder it will be to slice thinly. Once it is sliced, package and freeze or cook up a bacon feast. Do what you want. I'm not the boss of you. You just made your own bacon. You make the rules now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Blueberry Clafoutis



One mixing bowl desserts and cakes... you gotta love that, right!?  I came across a recipe via a Facebook ad thrown at my face that sounded sort of souffle-ish, sort of custard-ish, sort of cheesecake-ish... and I thought it sounded pretty good, but would be better with a few adjustments.  Lo and behold, it came out great first time around!  What I didn't know is that there is a name for these sort of dishes - the French call it clafoutis.  This is my version with blueberries... not super sweet, which is the kind of desserts we prefer.  You could most certainly sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar if you wanted.

Had a cover of a Depeche Mode song come on the speakers while I was typing this recipe out and I was like, "Who is this?!  I like this!"  Turns out, it was No Use For A Name doing "Enjoy the Silence".  Give it a go!  -jen

 

BLUEBERRY CLAFOUTIS
Prep Time: 10 minute
Cook Time: 50-55 (with an additional 30 to rest)
Difficulty:  Easy
Serves: 6-8

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1+1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9" round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray - bottom and up sides.

Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until smooth.  Add melted butter, ricotta, yogurt and vanilla, mixing until smooth.  Add flour, salt and baking powder  - mix until combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan.  Sprinkle blueberries over the top.  Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes.  Edges should turn golden brown and tester inserted in center should come out clean.  Cool in pan on baking rack for 30 minutes.  Serve room temp or chilled.



Friday, September 22, 2017

Strawberry Cheesecake Banana Bread

 
Oh, you read that right... Strawberry.  Cheesecake.  Banana.  Bread. 

Born from the need to use up very ripe fruit before it went to waste!  Truthfully, I was hoping the cheesecake would swirl into the bread more, but I think the cheesecake layer is just too runny for swirling into such a thick batter!  No matter!  It was just a delicious layer of strawberry cheesecake atop my banana bread!  I'm wondering if muffins would be a better form of this recipe?  To be tried next time!  In the meantime, I made it this way, I know it works, and I know it was bomb!

This band keeps popping into my punk stations on Pandora and when they come on, I'm always like, "Oh yeah, I like this song, who was this again?"  So I think it's time I buy an album or two!  The Loved Ones - Pretty Good Year.  -jen




STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE BANANA BREAD
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 75-85 minutes

Resting Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Makes: 2 loaves


Strawberry Cheesecake Batter 
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (use 3tbsp if you like it on the sweeter side)
  • 16-ounces cream cheese, room temp (2 bricks)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
Banana Bread Batter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of ripe, mashed bananas (about 5 medium-sized)
  • 2 eggs, slightly whisked
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease two loaf pans (9" or 10") with nonstick cooking spray or butter and set aside.

Place sliced strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar, set aside.  In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; make a well in the center.  In a medium bowl combine mashed bananas, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and coconut oil, mix well.   Pour the wet ingredients into the well you made in the dry ingredients and mix by hand, just until all of the flour is incorporated.

Using a stand mixer or electric mixer, whip softened cream cheese.  While the mixer is running add the 3 eggs and vanilla and mix until completely blended.  Then add the strawberries and all of their syrup and mix until just combined and most of the strawberries have broken up.  (It will look like Strawberry Quik!)

The left pan is swirled, right is about to be swirled.
Set aside 1 cup of the banana bread batter and pour the remaining mix into the loaf pans, half into each.  Smooth it out until even.  (If you have extra strawberries, I think I'd add a bunch to the top of the banana batter before this next step!)  Then pour the strawberry cheesecake mix on top of that.  Take the set aside cup of batter and spoon 1/2 down the center of each loaf.  Take a butter knife and just zig zag across the whole loaf pan once, from top to bottom.  (It doesn't swirl well, but I think it gives the cheesecake batter something to "hold on to".)  Bake for 75 minutes and use a butter knife to check for doneness - stick the butter knife straight down the center of one of the loaves (the largest one if yours are uneven), then pull it out.  If it comes out clean, your loaves are done.  If you're using 9" loaf pans, you may need 10 more minutes or so - just keep checking with a clean butter knife.

Allow to cool at least 30 minutes in the loaf pans - the cheesecake portion will need to "set".  Then remove from pans, slice and serve!  (Since this has a top layer of cheesecake, I store leftovers in the refrigerator.)



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Thai Style Green Curry Pork

We love Thai food.  Seriously.  We have a giant Thai cookbook on our kitchen counter.  And we have galagal, kafir lime leaf, and ginger in our freezer along with fish sauce in our fridge and powdered lemongrass and fermented shrimp paste in our pantry.  Spring rolls are a staple in our diet.  Peanut sauce has morphed into a Thai peanut salad dressing in our house.And while we go out for Thai on occasion it's usually take-out and it's usually because we're lazy. 

So, since we also usually have a can of coconut milk in the pantry as well, little green curry paste was all that we needed to do up some Thai style Green Curry Pork with Quinoa.  Most of these things can be found at a large grocery store with a good Asian/Ethnic isle.  Fresh galangal may not be available to you but fresh ginger root can be substituted.  It won't taste quite the same as galangal has that floral aspect that ginger just doesn't posses.  Same goes for kafir lime leaf.  Lime zest can be subbed but it isn't quite as sweet or perfumed as kafir lime leaf.  We're fortunate enough to live in an area with a decent southeast Asian community and a Co-op that carries a lot of Central and Southeast Asian ingredients so I stock up on the good stuff when it's available.

So this curry sauce is classic Thai flavor and you can serve this with any steamed grain you like.  We went with quinoa because it's what we had in the cupboard.  Same goes for veggies.  Onions, carrots, pumpkin, and bell peppers are all traditional Southeast Asian curry ingredients but use what you have or what you like.  We tossed in some cauliflower and zucchini because we had it in the veggie drawer. Also, we didn't do much heat in this.  This is very mild as curries go so zip it up if you like.  Slice up a jalapeƱo or serrano and toss it in.

So, Guttermouth goes with Thai food, right?  And this was blasting in the car around the time I made this dish.  Love me some old, raw, hardcore Guttermouth.  Never got to see em live, though.






Thai Style Green Curry Pork
Time:  
Difficulty: Medium
Serves: 4-6


Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp galangal root, grated (ginger root can be subbed if you can't find galagal)
  • 2 tbsp green curry paste (in the Asian food isle of the grocery store)
  • 1 Kafir lime leaf (1 tbsp of lime zest can be subbed if you can't find Kafir lime leaf)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 cup acorn squash, chopped into 1/2 pieces
  • 1 lb pork shoulder chopped into 1" cubes
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • basil and/or cilantro chiffonade for garnish

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Toss cauliflower, carrot, and squash in 2 tbsp of the canola oil (set the remaining 2 tbsp aside for later), salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil and the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often.   

When onion is translucent and fragrant, stir in the galangal, the kaffir lime leaf, and the green curry paste.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often until the aromas are strong and a paste is formed.

Stir in the red bell pepper, zucchini, and meat and stir to coat with the onions and spice paste.

Add the water, coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the meat is cooked through. 

Stir in the roasted veggies, lime juice, and taste for any final salt and pepper that may be needed.

Serve with rice, quinoa, or your preferred steamed grain and garnish with basil and/or cilantro.





Saturday, July 29, 2017

S'mores Lacey Cookies


These cookies were crazy good!  Thin with crispy toffee-like edges, some caramelized marshmallow and a soft, chewy, chocolatey center, and crunchy bites of Kit Kat and walnuts throughout.  They'd be so perfect for ice cream sandwiches, if that's your kind of thing! Or if you're just looking to make some cookies that stand out amongst others, these are a great way to go!

I was singing along loudly with the Bouncing Souls' "Lean on Sheena" whilst making these this afternoon.  -jen



S'MORES LACEY COOKIES
Time:  10 min. per batch, about 50 minutes total
Difficulty:  Easy

Makes:  48 cookies
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups old fashioned (rolled) oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3 oz king size Kit Kat (or 2 regular sized ones), chopped into 1/2" pieces
  • 1.5 cups mini marshmallows (not big ones!)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together.  Then add eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.  Beat together.

In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add to the wet mix while mixing at a medium speed.  When the flour is combined, add the oats, coconut, and walnuts until combined.  Then mix in by hand with a wooden spoon the Kit Kat  pieces and the marshmallows.  Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Scoop 1.5 tablespoon balls of dough and place 6 to parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 3" apart.  Cookies will spread out thin so you want to give them plenty of space.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, until golden and edges are just starting to brown.  Remove and allow to cool on a baking rack.  Remember to put the dough back in the refrigerator in between baking.