Friday, December 31, 2010
The people at Cook's Country magazine come across as mad food scientists. They make and remake and mess with and test a recipe so many times that it makes me impatient just reading about it. The result is typically a reliable recipe, but sometimes involves ingredients I'd rather not keep on hand (anybody keep apple brandy in the cabinet??).
In the case of their "New Mexican Pork Stew", the result is a delicious and fairly simple posole. When deciding to make this recipe, I did something I really shouldn't do. I decided to make an ethnic dish from a recipe when I had never tasted any other version of the dish, good or bad. I've attempted this foolishness with varied results. Spanikopita was only so-so. Korean bulgogi was actually pretty great. And so was this posole. The problem is, I don't know whether these recipes even begin to approximate the authentic dish. If you're some kind of posole expert, please enlighten me. I guess when it comes right down to it, I don't particularly care--this stew is that good.
Many meals in our home either start out spicy or get some kind of spice added to them later (red pepper flake, jalapenos, sambal). This was not one of those meals, and yet we both found it immensely satisfying. The ancho chiles, which Wikipedia tells me are a dried poblano, are not particularly spicy. Instead, they are smoky and earthy. Between the chiles and the intensely corny hominy, this dish reminds me of the first particularly earthy Mexican dish I ate, a tortilla soup at La Mestiza in Madison. This is one recipe that will be going into our regular rotation.
One major benefit of Cook's Country (and they don't pay me to say this) is the mad scientist's report on the process which led to the recipe. While mind-bogglingly involved, it does provide the justification for each step of the recipe that might seem unnecessary, like, say, browning hominy. Steps that I might be tempted to skip, which would be very silly of me. I will not be typing up Cook's Country's introduction to the recipe. Just trust me and follow the directions. As a side-note, the pork ribs from our butcher had little bones in a few of them, but they had no adverse effect. Just pull them out when you shred the pork. Also, my grocery store doesn't carry 15-ounce cans of hominy, so I went with two huge 28-ounce cans. The more hominy, the better, I say.
New Mexican Pork Stew (Posole)
from Cook's Country-January 2011
3/4 oz dried ancho chiles (about 3 chiles)
8 c low-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade)
2 lbs boneless country-style pork ribs
salt & pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 (15-oz) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained well
2 onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tbsp lime juice
chopped avocado, cabbage, and radishes for serving (optional)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chiles on baking sheet and bake until puffed and fragrant, about 6 minutes. When chiles are cool enough to handle, remove seeds and stems. Combine chiles and 1 cup broth in medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Let stand until softened, 10 to 15 minutes.
Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook pork until well browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer pork to plate. Add hominy to now-empty pot and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and hominy begins to darken 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer hominy to medium bowl.
Heat remaining oil in now-empty pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Puree onion mixture with softened chile mixture in blender. Combine remaining broth, pureed onion-chile mixture, pork, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon sald, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in now-empty pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until meat is tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer pork to clean plate. Add hominy to pot and simmer, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Skim fat from broth. When meat is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces, discarding fat. Return pork to pot and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Off heat, add lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Posole can be refrigerated in airtight container for 3 days. We did not really skim the fat off the soup, thus the shiny spots in the photo. We did, however, scrape some of the congealed, bright-orange fat off the top of our leftovers before reheating. Only some though. Matt's turned me into an animal-fat fan.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Dinner from last weekend is fresh on my mind, so here goes! We like to have excuses to try pricier restaurants and my birthday's as good a reason as any. Matt and I went to Nostrano on Saturday night, a brand new restaurant on the Capital Square. I would call it loosely Italian, with several pasta dishes and house-made Italian-style meats. The atmosphere is great in there, with old architectural pieces and pretty bottles giving the place a modern yet comfortable feel.
We had read that their charcuterie plate was excellent, and unsure as we were about liver-based snacks, we gave it a try. I knew I would like the salsiccia, pickled peppers, and smoked shallots. What surprised me was how much I liked the pate with smoked pork (bottom left) and turkey liver mousse (bottom right, my favorite!). If you are a connoisseur of fine meat platters, please don't read my amateurish exposition too carefully. But if you are a newcomer to charcuterie (like I was) and iffy on the merits of chopped and formed liver (as was I), let me assure you that both the pate and mousse were delicious. The mousse we've decided must be something like a turkey liverwurst and tastes like a soft, smooth, smoky summer sausage. The pate is harder to compare, but both items were pleasantly meaty and fatty. I am very glad we tried everything.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Creamy Basil Summer Squash Soup
adapted from myrecipes and epicurious
This soup gets nice and creamy and tastes like summer. We liked it topped with grated parmesan, roasted red pepper strips, and pine nuts.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 lbs zucchini or other summer squash, chopped (about 6-8 cups)
4 c reduced-sodium or homemade chicken broth
1 c loosely-packed rinsed basil leaves
2-4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add squash and cook another 2 minutes; then add chicken broth and 1 cup basil leaves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes. Purée the soup in batches in a blender. Pour the soup through a strainer into a bowl, using a ladle to push any solid bits through. Add the cayenne pepper. Season with salt to taste.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I've had a love/hate relationship with canned tuna over the course of my life. When I was little, I don't think I knew that it was fish. And once I realized that it was not some sort of canned chicken, I was done. Since then, I've been back and forth, craving tuna salad and then taking a hiatus after gagging on the fish taste. I recently got over my fish issues (Japan had a great deal to do with that), so I was ready to hop back on the tuna saddle. I know that's a catfish--use your imagination.
I have tried many different kinds of canned tuna with varied satisfaction. At the suggestion of Cook's Country, I'm sticking with white albacore packed in water from now on. I ate some of this on a spinach flatbread with lettuce and tomato today. So good.
The Best Tuna Salad
from Cook's Country magazine
3 cans white albacore tuna packed in water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c minced onion
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp mayo
1 celery stalk, minced (I always skip this because I don't like crunchy tuna salad)
Drain tuna and pat dry with paper towel (so the olive oil won't bead up on the water). Microwave olive oil and minced onion for about 2 minutes, until onion begins to soften. Mix onion mixture with tuna, lemon juice, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Let marinate for 10 minutes. Stir in mayonnaise. You can add dill or roasted red peppers and capers for something different.
Oh, and by the way, this is me.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
A few days later, the rest of the chicken became a lunch and a dinner. Sorry about the dark photos. We've been eating really late for the last few weeks, so my natural lighting for photos has been nearly gone.
Curry Yogurt Salad
from Serious Eats
1 squeeze of lemon juice
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons of curry powder
7 ounce container of single-serve Fage 2% yogurt, or other Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of cashews
2 tablespoons of golden raisins (sultanas)
1 pinch of nutmeg (optional)
Mix the curry powder into the Fage, add a pinch of salt or pepper to taste. Add the raisins and cashews. Add a pinch of nutmeg if desired. Squeeze lemon on the cooked, shredded Quorn or poultry. Stir into the yogurt mixture. Add more curry powder, salt, pepper, or lemon to taste. Serve on shredded lettuce or on a slice of warm cinnamon raisin bread, whole wheat bread, or Naan bread.
Minced Chicken in Lettuce Cups
from Serious Eats
I had less chicken and more mushrooms than were called for, but everything still balanced well.
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 cup water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
2 scallions, white part diced and green part chopped
1 cup cremini mushroom, chopped
8 leaves Boston, bibb, or iceberg lettuce
Salt and pepper
Finely dice the chicken. Pour the oil into a work or large iron skillet set over high heat. Add the ginger and scallion whites and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Dump in the chicken and mushrooms. Continue stirring, breaking up the chicken pieces, and cook for about a minute, or until the chicken is white and no longer raw (if using precooked chicken, just stir-fry until the chicken is warmed). Pour in the oyster sauce and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and add the scallion greens and chopped water chestnuts. Stir until everything is combined. Season with salt if necessary. Fill each lettuce cup with a little bit of the mixture and serve.
I felt like this could have used some kind of soy-based sauce to top the lettuce cups. I liked a bit of okonomiyaki sauce and Matt used some Sichuan black bean paste. I thought something like a ponzu might be nice too. Any ideas?
Monday, August 23, 2010
The chicken in the picture is actually one we made back in June or July, but I forgot to get a shot of the one this week and they turned out essentially the same anyway. It doesn't look that exciting, but the skin gets nice and crispy and it has an appealing barbecued flavor. The beer (or soda, whatever you like) keeps the chicken very tender. Each time I've used a Penzey's seasoning mix, first Northwoods seasoning and then Bangkok mix. Like on an oven-roasted chicken, most of the flavor stays on the skin, so the meat does benefit from a gravy, mustard, barbecue or other sauce. There is a good set of directions for grilling a whole chicken here. The only adjustment I have made is to place a crushed garlic clove and some additional seasoning inside the can of beer.
We had a lovely dinner of about half the chicken, plus corn on the cob, grilled cherry tomatoes, and grilled brussels sprouts. Next time I'll show you the lunch, dinner, and soup I made from the rest of the chicken.
I can't say how authentic this is since I have never eaten its equivalent at a restaurant. I just know that I thought it was really great.
from Serious Eats
I let this marinade for at least 24 hours, and that seemed to be the key to the pork's tenderness.
1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and excess fat
1/4 c soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp gochujang
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp crushed ginger root
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 green onions, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Place the pork in the freezer until it firms up, about 1 hour (or if frozen, thaw until it is still slightly firm). While the pork is in the freezer, combine the soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, gochujang , mirin, sesame oil, ginger, red pepper flakes, and green onions in a small bowl.
Remove the pork from the freezer and slice into pieces 1/8 inch thick. Place the pork and sliced onion in a large Ziploc bag, pour in the marinade and seal. Toss to evenly distribute the marinade, then open and reseal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least one hour to overnight.
bacon, egg, & kimchi sandwich
adapted from Closet Cooking
makes 2 sandwiches, can be easily multiplied for more
4 slices bacon
1/2 c kimchi (drained and chopped)
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp gochujang
2 English muffins (lightly toasted)
1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese
shredded romaine in a korean sesame vinaigrette, optional
Cook bacon until crisp (we like a cast iron skillet), then drain on paper towels. Pour off all but a couple tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add kimchi to the skillet and saute until a bit caramelized. Carefully crack one egg at a time into skillet, cook over medium until bubbling, then flip and cook just until set, 1-2 minutes.
Mix mayonnaise and gochujang in a small bowl. Sprinkle bottom of muffin with cheese, then top with fried egg. Add bacon, kimchi, and romaine salad, if using. Slather top muffin with gochujang mayo mixture, join the halves, and enjoy!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I'm going to unload a few of my summer recipes, lazy style, before summer produce is gone like my lazy summer.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Summer Bean and Tomatoes Bruschetta
from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool
Makes 12 servings
I halved everything and this made a nice light dinner for two along with a kale salad. I used a very nice Italian loaf from a Milwaukee-based bakery and a box of incredibly sweet mixed cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market. This really tastes like summer.
1 c miniature or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c sliced fresh basil
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz small green or wax beans (I used some of each), cut diagonally into 1/2-in pieces
12 thick diagonal slices whole grain or hearty Italian bread
6 oz fresh goat cheese, such as chevre
freshly ground black pepper (addicted to Penzey's four-peppercorn blend!)
Preheat the broiler. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. (Note: If you're making this as an appetizer with a pasta dish, consider blanching the beans along with the pasta to conserve energy and water. Or if you're a real planner, blanch the veggies you'll need cooked for the week all at once and store in the fridge.)
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, oil, vinegar, and salt. Toss to coat well. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add the beans to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes or until tender-crisp (I preferred them pretty soft so they were easier to eat in the bruschetta topping.) Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to the tomato mixture.
Place the bread slices on a broiler pan. Broil for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned on one side. Turn the slices and brush each with some of the juices from the marinated tomatoes. Broil for 2 minutes longer, or until browned. Remove the bread and place on a large serving platter, moistened side up. Divide the cheese evenly among the bread slices and spread over each.
Scatter the tomato mixture over the cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Monday, July 19, 2010
We started with yakitori, a common type of Japanese bar food involving chicken or some other meat and veggies grilled on skewers, and sashimi, or raw seafood.
"Have you ever tried (insert food name here)?"
"Let's get some."
breaded & fried baby octopus
Friday, July 16, 2010
First we searched for (and found) Hara Donuts in Shimokitazawa. Like most shops in this area, it was tiny and super cute.
We opted for three varieties: plain, tomato, and grapefruit. None of them were overly oily or too dense. Similar to a cake donut but lighter, Hara's donuts were subtly sweet and a bit chewy. The grapefruit, with its citrus-y glaze, was my favorite by far. The tomato was not as weird or as interesting as we had hoped as it was somewhat bland and also tougher than the other two.
When our hosts took us to their friends' house, we were offered two unexpected items to sample: Sendaiya's donuts and natto.
I will not be eating natto every morning for breakfast as does one person we met, but I will certainly gobble up some natto donuts from Sendaiya at any chance I get.
These donuts were dense and moist, much like a pound cake (which we saw on many menus). Like Hara donuts, Sendaiya's are also lightly sweetened and fried compared to American donuts.
We saved the best for last...drumroll, please!
In the last few days of our trip, we headed to Yoyogi-Uehara in the rain, specifically to try Harrits Donuts.
Staying with the trend of the donuts we tried, these were subtle, light, and tended toward being a healthier breakfast treat. The texture was somewhere between a cake and raised donut and even resembled a pastry somewhat.
I would recommend any of these donut shops without reservation. If you're ever in the area, it's worth seeking them out!
If you have tried Mister Donut, I'm curious: did we miss out?
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Takoyaki hail from Osaka, as do the gentlemen who prepared them inside this pink VW bus. Matt spotted this stand in Shimokitazawa and decided it should be the place for us to lose our takoyaki virginity. They were proud to have a couple of gaijin (foreigners) eating behind their stand.
And I do mean behind...
I think they had a great little set-up.
Possibly my very favorite food that I tried in Japan turned out to be a dish from Osaka. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake that is similar to takoyaki in that it is topped with the same sauces and sprinkles, but is much easier to eat due to the absence of molten dough. Our friends in Tokyo took us to a great little place for our first experience with okonomiyaki.
First, mix your ingredients that include egg, cabbage, meat, and veggies...