Monday, July 27, 2015

Pulled Pork weekend

This weekend Brenda's folks came in so I prepared a pulled pork to have plenty to eat for a few meals. I even have three 2 portion bags in the freezer.

I started with thawing the pork on Wednesday and then putting it in the brine I mentioned earlier in the blog, overnight. Friday morning instead of roasting since it was going to be a scorcher outside I opted for the crock pot and rubbed the roast with the dry rub recipe also on a previous post.

 Meanwhile I had made the dough for the kaisers Thursday night and that was also rising in the fridge overnight.

Jill had stopped by after work and brought me sweet corn right from the farm. Bonus! We were eating around 6 and I made the rolls first and they turned out very well. I covered them hot with a towel after removing from the oven  to steam the crust a bit and soften them for sandwiches. I made the slaw dressing as follows:

Coleslaw Dressing by Todd Wilbur

1/3 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon celery seed

Combine all and dress cut cabbage mix. I left this sit for a few hours to wilt the cabbage a bit. It has a nice tang to it. I also added celery seed for a bit of flavor.

I topped the sandwiches with Trader Joe's Siracha Garlic BBQ sauce.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mahi with Pesto Butter over Pasta

Trader Joe's has the greatest deal on fish if you can find it. Occasionally they have packages of Mahi or Cod pieces that make great meals at a bargain price.

I have a few packages of Mahi in the freezer and used the package recipe for ideas. I had everything I needed for Pesto Butter with the exception of Pine Nuts which are somewhere in the freezer but I was too lazy to look so I used toasted almonds instead.  Made a great little dinner with a few modifications.

Basil Pesto Butter

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c of pine nuts
juice of 1 lemon and zest
3/4 stick softened butter ( I used olive oil and butter)
Salt and pepper

Mahi pieces or fillets
1/2 cup flour 

1 pound of pasta cooked
1 med zucchini, spiraled  (noodles)
1/2 cup Parmesan

Everything in the mini chopper except the butter. I cut that down and used a bit of olive oil too. Add the butter once mixed and chopped.

I dredged the Mahi in flour and sauteed in olive oil and butter till lightly browned.

After the pasta cooked and I added the zucchini for a few minutes. I put the pasta/ zucchini in a large bowl, added the Pesto and a handful of grated Parmesan. Served up in bowls with chunks of fish added on top made for good eats.

We use zucchini 'noodles' to cut down on some of the pasta carbs in our summer meals.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kaiser Rolls

Family visiting this weekend so the plan is to pull out that Pork Roast and do a little pulled pork from the recipe I posted from Kevin and Amanda's blog. Ann Thibeault also posted this Kaiser roll recipe and if I am going to all the trouble of pulled pork, I may as well may the rolls too. I am sure everyone feels this way...right?


Kaiser Rolls

4 1/2 cups flour
1 to 2  teaspoons sugar
2 to 3  teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 to two cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg
sesame seeds/poppy seeds

Mix flour, sugar and yeast together.  Mix egg in measuring cup and add 1 1/2 cups of water.  Mix to combined.  Add more water if needed.  Let dough sit for 20 minutes. Add salt and turn on machine and knead dough.  Place dough in buttered dough pail, cover and let rise until the dough has doubled.

Tip dough on to floured surface.  Shape into a log and cut into 4 oz pieces.  Should net 12 rolls. Shape pieces into logs and let rest, covered for ten minutes.  Roll dough between hands, or on board to make a rope.  Tie a loose knot in the middle of the rope and then tuck one end under and up the middle and the other end down the middle.  Place on parchment covered baking sheet.  When all the dough has been shaped , cover and allow to rise until double.  About one hour.   While rolls are rising, preheat oven to 450°F.   When rolls are ready to bake, spray with water and sprinkle with poppy seeds and/or sesame seeds.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until rolls are golden brown.

A Tale of 2 Pizzas

Last night with Brenda working late I got creative and experimented with pizza. Toppings are always a fluid element in pizza and I didn't get too freaky. I have left over sous vide cooked sirloin to a beautiful medium rare, grilled onions and mushrooms. A jar of Cheez Whiz, steak sauce, blue cheese and Monterey Jack. I made a quick batch of dough. I had about 4 hours...

A Philly cheese steak came to mind of course. Onions and sliced beef with Cheez Whiz (don't get your shorts in a knot, its actually quite traditional)  and I have made the steak pizza before to mixed reviews but I had a craving for it so....

Half and half Cheese Steak and Steak

Bubbly perfection, could have stood a few more minutes and got a bit browner.

Pizza Dough by the weight method

I only make dough by weight now so I can control the hydration precisely. 70%-75%  You know me, I have made a million pizzas and am never quite satisfied with things. This method makes me happy. I can cook it inside or outside. The crust is perfectly chewy and has a lot of nice holes in it.

300 gms flour
210 grams water
1 teaspoon of yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
about a tablespoon of olive oil

This is mixed quite quickly and makes a nice sticky dough. Mix it up and let it sit for 40 minutes then toss it again. I never touch it, I just use a spatula cause it is so sticky.  Let it rise until you are ready to assemble. You could also put it in the fridge over night if you wanted. It will slowly rise there.

I use a piece of parchment paper, dump the dough out, spread a bit of olive oil on it and press it out to about 12-14 inches with a nice rim. Preheat the oven to 400 and use your stone or steel or cast iron like I do. Bakes for about 10-15 minutes. The paper makes it easy to move the dough to the hot oven. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pork Carnitas

On Friday we have a pot luck at work. Tacos or Mexican whatever but I wanted something more than taco hamburger meat so I had a nice 5 pound pork butt in the freezer ready for a little action.

Most of the recipes I found had some similarities, a citrus juice, garlic and cumin.
I brined the pork roast overnight in the fridge after it thawed in a basic 1/4 c salt to 4 cup water brine.

I put a good glug of orange juice in the crock pot along with 2 medium onions cut into petals, 4 cloves of crushed garlic, a jalapeno  and the juice from 2 limes.

I made a rub of 1 teaspoon oregano, 2 teaspoons of cumin and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and rubbed the roast before placing the pot,  fat side up. I set the pot to low for 10 hours and left for work.

The roast was falling apart tender when I came home so I picked the fat off and shredded the meat.

I tasted the drippings and removed some of the fat. they were awful and a little bitter, so I added a cup of them to a sauce pan with more orange juice, salt and about 3 tablespoons of brown sugar to offset the bitterness from the juice. A bit more oregano, chili flakes and chipotle  powder  rounded out the flavor and took off the bitter edge. I poured this over the meat again.

Normally I would 'fry' a bit of this in a skillet to color it before serving but as is will be fine for Friday.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pulled Pork from Kevin and Amanda Blog

Looking for something to do with a couple of Boston Butts we found cheap. This sounds like a plan..

Perfect Pulled Pork



  • 1 (4-7 pound) whole boston butt (bone in with a layer of fat on the bottom)
Dry Rub
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • ½ cup brown sugar
Brine Solution
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 qts cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp dry rub mix
For the Dry Rub
  1. Mix well and store in an air tight container.
For the Brine Solution
  1. Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar, dry rub, and bay leaves and stir well to combine.
Pork shoulder preparation
  1. Rinse the pork shoulder and place in a large container, pour in the brine solution until the shoulder is completely covered. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
  2. Remove pork shoulder from brine solution, pat dry with paper towels, place in baking pan that is bigger than the shoulder by at least a inch in length and width and at least 3 inches deep. Sprinkle dry rub onto the surface of the shoulder and massage in such that it adheres to the surface. Coat all sides. Make sure the fat layer on the shoulder is facing up before cooking! Place baking pan uncovered in a 225 degree F oven on the middle rack. Insert a probe thermometer into the center or thickest part of the shoulder, but not touching the bone. Monitor the temperature throughout cooking (a digital thermometer with an alarm function is the easiest way to do this). Do not remove from the oven until the center of the shoulder reaches 200 degrees.
  3. When the shoulder has reached 200 degrees, shut off the oven and let the roast cool for a couple of hours before removing from the oven. If the bottom of the pan is dry (or crusted with dried spices) then cover the pan with foil to retain internal moisture of the meat during the cooling period. When the temperature drops to 170 degrees or slightly lower, remove from oven. Place on a large, clean work surface such as a cutting board, and remove the large sheet of crusted fat on the top. Pull apart with two forks, it will pull apart very easily. Serve for friends and family!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sometimes Lazy is a Good Thing...

It was another lazy weekend. We worked plenty hard of course getting things done but really not much effort put forth in general. We went to the store for a few items on sale and decided to pick up a few sausages of different flavors and just grill them for dinner with various mustards.

What goes better with a grilled sausage than a pretzel and I had a few hours to kill so I made the pretzel recipe elsewhere in this blog. Now....for something green. Frozen peas, a bit of mayo, green onion and chunked cheddar? A winning combination!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fruit and Meat...and a bounty of Cherries!

Jill stopped by last night with a generous basket of fresh picked berries and cherries thanks to her mom, Joy. Thanks Joy!

So I haven't made a fruit compote for meat in quite a while possible because I over made it back in the day after visiting Alice Water's restaurant in Berkley in the 80's.  The night we went, a roasted pork loin was served with a Fig and Cherry Compote. I had to make that but figs in the Midwest are hard to come by although Trader Joe's now offers them in season.  I found that Oregon Brand offered canned figs and Bing Cherries and there I had my mainstay. I made it as our 'fancy' meal for years.

I can no longer find canned Figs in town (Oregon Fruit no longer cans Figs.) but take advantage of fresh ones whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Jill's only request was that I post a recipe for some kind of cherry sauce for pork or duck (I added the duck since it is also a fruit friendly meat)

I have been researching a bit and find a lot of sauces that can be used 2 ways. Savory meats or sweet desserts. I remember our friend, Michale,  spooning the Fig and Cherry compote over ice cream once.

Making a sauce like this will generally always include corn starch, probably some sugar depending on the tartness of the fruit, some spice like clove or cinnamon. It simply depends on your mood. I find that cherries have a subtle flavor easy to overcome with spices so you want to try and intensify that cherry flavor if possible. Reductions and concentrations help.

I saw several recipes that incorporate Balsamic Vinegar so that would be a nice component. I must retreat to the test kitchen to experiment with the Cherries on hand and see what I can come up with. My first food commission!  More to come.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day fixins

Just another day with the kids all working or out of town. A very, very quiet weekend for us.

I made Chicken Korma, my first attempt to decipher a zillion recipes, all different but the same. Some with tomatoes, some not. Not a lo cal meal at all, this one had a nut paste in it made of cashews and almonds. The side was an Aloo Gobi type treatment to zucchini and potatoes. The zucchini got a little soft so I would think harder about this combo again.

The paleness of the dish denies its intense flavor. Chicken braised in a gravy made from pureed nuts, cream and various spices. This one was a bit hot but I have my Masala Dabba mixed up. Cayenne and Chili are not the same thing...oops. Luckily we can handle a bit of heat and it really added to the dish.

Chicken Korma

2 pounds chicken boneless breast and thighs cut into chunks
1 tsp curry powder
plain Yogurt
1/2 cup almonds/ cashews in 1 cup water, boil 10 minutes
1 med-large onion cut into petals
2 T olive oil
1 tbl butter
1 tbsp ground Cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
12 cardamon seeds crushed (I removed the husks and crushed the seeds)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp hot chili powder (I used about tsp or more of Cayenne)
bay leaf
4 cloves
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
salt and pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
Green onion and Cilantro leaves for garnish
1/4 to 1/2 cup Cream (hold to just before serving)

First I marinated the chicken pieces in 1/2 cup yogurt and 1 tsp curry for a few hours. Set aside in the fridge.

I boiled the nuts in 1 cup water and processed them with an hand blender till smooth. Set aside.

Heat oil and butter, add onions and saute till soft then add spices, garlic/ ginger paste.
Add the nut paste and cook for a few minutes, add the tomatoes and extra water if needed.

Turn the heat to simmer and add the chicken pieces, nestle into the sauce, cover and let braise for 40 minutes slow heat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, remove cloves.

Chicken should be tender. Thicken gravy if needed, I used Wondra, then add cream to finalize the sauce. I mixed a bit of the cilantro into the gravy as well as a garnish on top with sliced green onion.

On Saturday, I just did not feel the cooking genie so we opted for a Charcuterie tray with various salami and cheeses, some deli chicken fingers, blue cheese dressing, cheese, olives and fruit.
I added a few Shishito peppers, blistered in olive oil and salted liberally.Delicious.

To top off the relaxed weekend, Brenda found a new Gin and Tonic recipe so I made that for her

The scotch and soda was for me.

Lemon Blackberry Gin and Tonic

Juice 1/2 lemon in a cocktail glass. Add 2 mint leaves, 2 plump blackberries and 2 tbsp simple syrup (1 cup water and sugar dissolved). Muddle then add 1 1/2 oz gin, ice and top with tonic water. I hate gin but this was pretty good.


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