Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's been a couple weeks since I've posted though I've had some good meals and good shopping lately. Two weeks back we had friends for a dinner of two dishes that we had never made before. Luckily, all went better than expected.

pork shoulder with chipotle orange barbecue sauce

caramelized apple skillet cake

Matt put together the barbecue pork in the slow cooker the night before. I've been nervous about the slow cooker after having made an extremely dry bison roast a few years back. That being said, this roast was perfect. After 24 hours on low, it was fall-apart tender and very flavorful. Matt usually doesn't like barbecue flavors, but we all enjoyed this unique combination of seasonings.

Pork Shoulder with Chipotle Orange Barbecue Sauce
from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool

1/2 c fresh orange juice (we used Simple Orange)
1/4 c honey
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 whole canned chipotle chile pepper, pureed or minced
1 tbsp vegetable or light olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (we left this out)
1 pork shoulder or butt roast (4 to 5 pounds)
1 tbsp finely sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (if using the oven).

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, chile pepper, oil, garlic, salt, cumin, and cinnamon (if using).

If using the slow cooker, put pork in cooker, coat with sauce, and cover with lid. Cook on low for 24 hours.

For oven roasting, put the pork in a roasting pan that can be easily covered and coat the pork complete with sauce. Cover with a lid or foil. Reduce oven to 200 degrees. Roast the pork, without opening the door, for 5 hours. Check to see if it is falling-apart tender, and if not, cover and roast for about 30 minutes longer, or until it is tender. Sprinkle green onions as a garnish. Serve with coleslaw on its own or slice/shred and eat on a bun.

For dessert I made an apple skillet cake, which I started after our friends had arrived. Be warned, it takes longer than you might think. We've been lucky enough to have local apples available at our co-op until mid-February, though they've been pretty soft in the last few weeks. That made them just right for making applesauce and this cake.

The batter under the apples is sweet and fluffy with a delightful crunch from a bit of cornmeal. Be sure to layer plenty of apple slices on the bottom of the skillet. At the blog where I grabbed this recipe, the outcome of too few apples was batter stuck to the bottom of the pan, making it difficult to remove. My cake did not get as brown as The Amateur Gourmet's, most likely because I didn't leave the sugar and butter mixture to bubble in the pan long enough. Still, the cake was delicious and I will definitely make it again.

Caramelized Apple Skillet Cake
From The Amateur Gourmet, originally from Karen DeMasco's The Craft of Baking
(click on the link for step-by-step photos)

1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
2 tart baking apples, such as Mutsu or Granny Smith (I used whatever I could find!)
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal or fine polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup whole milk (2% worked for me)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In an 8-inch ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with 2 tablespoons water, stirring to make sure all of the sugar is damp. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden brown caramel, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter.

Peel, core, and using a mandoline or a sharp knife, cut the apples crosswise into 1/8-inch thick rings. Tightly shingle all of the apple rings over the caramel, starting around the outside of the skillet and working toward the center, overlapping the slices.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the remaining 6 tablespoons butter, and the vanilla. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In three additions, add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, to the butter mixture. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into a large bowl.

Clean and dry the bowl of the electric mixer well. Add the egg whites and, using the whisk attachment on medium speed, beat to soft peaks, about 4 minutes. In three additions, fold the whites into the batter. Spread the batter evenly over the apples in the skillet.

Bake, rotating the skillet halfway through, until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes. Place the skillet on a wire rack and let it cool just until the cake is warm, about 30 minutes (we flipped and ate ours after only 10 minutes or so and it was just fine!). Then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The cake is best eaten the day it is baked but can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

vintage style

This picture has nothing to do with anything, but isn't it great?

I came across a post about vintage style at Bertie's New Blog for Better Sewing. I really relate to her complaints about the expectations of vintage dressing. If I begin to wear vintage dresses, am I then obliged to style my hair in a certain way or to wear red lips every day?

I try to combine a few vintage pieces with modern ones or to mix clothing from several decades. I still wear the same hairstyle that I've had for years (partly because I'm too lazy to do 40s hair). My goal is to capture a vintage look or silhouette without looking like I'm in full costume. I do admire the girls who can pull off a more complete look, but it's not for me.

This is an old photo that I've posted before, but it's the best I could find that shows a combination of old and new that represents what I aim for.

top - American Apparel
scarf and skirt - thrifted
belt - a gift from Mom
tights - Target
shoes - Urban Outfitters

Friday, February 5, 2010

easy & hearty

I definitely did not want to cook tonight, but since we try to save eating out for one day a week (and that day is tomorrow), I hunkered down and got cooking. Luckily I had ingredients on hand to make a very tasty, satisfying, and easy pasta recipe. It's so good when I'm tired, cold, and craving richly flavored, starch-heavy comfort food.

This makes a lot of pasta and sauce for only two of us, so I only made half a package of pasta and froze half of the sauce. That way, I'll have an even easier meal on hand in the future. By the way, this is vegan-friendly--unless, of course, you add the pancetta like I did.

Bucatini with Tomato Sauce
adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine

3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
4 oz finely chopped pancetta (optional)
1/2 tsp red pepper flake (optional)
2 cups diced tomatoes (I just used a 32-oz can)
1 lb bucatini (or other long-cut pasta)

In a medium skillet, combine the olive oil, garlic, and parsley over medium-high heat. When the garlic sizzles, add the pancetta and red pepper (if using). Cook for about 1 minute, then add tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and the oil has begun to separate from the sauce. Put the water on to boil and cook the pasta according to the directions. Top the pasta with sauce and parmesan, if desired.

Monday, February 1, 2010

another brush with greatness



Behold! Another recipe from Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft cookbook. Many of the recipes in the book involve a complicated meat preparation in order to produce the sandwiches. I was initially intimidated by this, but then realized that the recipes make for two nights of meals: one where I cook the meat and eat it as the entree, the second when I use the leftover meat to make my sandwich. In a post on Serious Eats last week, I was reminded of a goal of mine: to make one large meat portion that will last for two or more meals. Stretching meat in this way is more economical, healthier, and more earth-friendly.

I made the short ribs Saturday evening (be ready to spend several hours near the kitchen) and then made the sandwiches Monday night for a quicker dinner. I couldn't imagine making the short ribs and the sandwich in one shot. This way worked much better.

The short ribs were served with very simple mashed red-skinned potatoes and the carrots that roasted with the meat. The mashed potato recipe is included below. Don't shy away from the horseradish in the sauce--I went on the light side and wished I had included the full amount for flavor. Also, for the sandwiches I didn't get around to pickling the vegetables, but I really wish I had. We just topped the sandwich with some thinly sliced radishes and carrots, but the tart quick-pickles would have really brightened the overall flavor. You'll need to make the veggies ahead, as they have to refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Maybe next time I'll make them while the meat braises.

Beer-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Pickled Vegetables, Aged Cheddar, and Horseradish

adapted from 'wichcraft by Tom Colicchio

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless short ribs, cut into 4 pieces (I used about 1 1/2 lbs with bones in, worked fine)
1/2 small carrot, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 cups brown ale (I used a winter ale that I had on hand)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or a few shakes of dried rosemary leaves
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black peppercorns, roughly crushed
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
4 thick slices aged cheddar
1 cup pickled vegetables (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Add the oil to a large, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and sear on all sides. (According to Smitten Kitchen, this step should not be rushed nor should the ribs be crowded. It should take between 15 and 45 minutes and can be done in two shifts if there's not enough room.) Remove the meat from the skillet and set aside. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic to the same skillet and saute until caramelized. Add the ale and deglaze. Place the meat back into the skillet and add the rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cover the skillet and transfer to the oven. Braise for about 2 1/2 hours, until fork tender. Remove and transfer the meat to a clean skillet. Keep oven on.

Strain the braising liquid and discard the fat. In a bowl, combine the strained liquid and the horseradish, and pour over the meat in the new skillet. Over low heat, glaze the meat as the liquid reduces. Remove from the heat when the pot is almost dry.

Mashed Red-Skinned Potatoes


2 pound red potatoes
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

Cut potatoes (with skin) into 1-inch pieces, then generously cover with cold salted water (1 teaspoon salt for 5 cups water) in a large saucepan and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat milk, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted.

Drain potatoes well in a colander and return to pan. Mash with a potato masher, and, while hot, stir in milk mixture. Season with salt.

Cut the baguette into four pieces and slice each in half. Remove some of the bread from the top halves. Slice the meat and distribute one piece on each bottom half of bread. Spoon some of the liquid left in the skillet over the meat. Place the cheese on top of the meat and transfer to the oven together with the top slices of bread. Remove once the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted. Spread some horseradish on the top slices (optional, but recommended). On the bottom halves, top the cheese with the pickled vegetables. Close the sandwiches, cut into halves, and serve.

Pickled Vegetables

from 'wichcraft by Tom Colicchio

1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
5 star anise
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 bulb fennel, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 large carrot, sliced on the bias and cut in half (about 1 cup)
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
4 garlic cloves

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups water, the vinegar, wine, sugar, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, star anise, and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, and pour into a large bowl containing the fennel, carrot, radishes, and garlic. Set aside and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Keeps well if refrigerated in its liquid for up to 2 weeks.

a brush with greatness

One day recently Matt brought home Tom Colicchio's cookbook from his sandwich joint, 'wichcraft. Seeing as we are both sandwich fans and Top Chef fans, it was a match made in heaven. And I feel like some of his incredible food knowledge may rub off on me if I make some of his recipes!

This past week I made two of the sandwiches and both were knock-outs. On the first, a roasted turkey sandwich, I cut corners a bit by using sliced deli turkey instead of roasting my own turkey breast. Can you believe that the grocery store was all out of whole turkey breasts? Next time (and there will be a next time) I will try to roast my own meat. Anyway, it was still delicious, so if you wanted a quicker meal, I would wholeheartedly recommend using some good-quality deli turkey.

The onion marmalade is delicious, similar to a caramelized onion jam I made to go with Thanksgiving leftovers, but with that great balsamic flavor. A few days after I made the onions, I found another use for the marmalade, Brunch Burgers from the Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy blog. Definitely on my "to make" list.

Roasted Turkey with Avocado, Bacon, Balsamic Onion Marmalade, and Mayonnaise

from 'wichcraft by Tom Colicchio

6 sage leaves
1 (3- to 4- pound) boneless turkey breast
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 slices bacon
4 ciabatta rolls (I used slices of a country French sourdough loaf)
1/2 cup Balsamic Onion Marmalade (below)
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 tbsp mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slide the sage leaves under the skin of the turkey breast and place the turkey on a sheet pan. Rub the skin with butter and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the turkey with 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Baste the meat with its juices throughout. (Keep in mind that the meat will continue to cook even after it's removed from the oven, so be careful not to cook it too long.) Allow the meat to rest before slicing, or cool completely.

In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Slice the ciabatta rolls in half. Place the turkey slices on the bottom halves and top with the marmalade. Place the bottom and top halves of the rolls in the 350 degree oven and remove once the marmalade is heated through and the bread is toasted. Top the marmalade with the bacon, followed by the avocado. Evenly spread the mayonnaise on the top halves of the rolls. Close the sandwiches, cut into halves, and serve.

Balsamic Onion Marmalade

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it slides easily across the pan. Add the onions, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the onions are soft.

Add the sugar and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the onions appear dry.

Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the onions are soft and dry.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Store the marmalade in the refrigerator. It will keep for several weeks.