Friday, May 20, 2016

Pulled Pork

This is, without a doubt my FAVORITE pork recipe EVER...And it on the menu tomorrow for the Hub's birthday party. Enjoy!


Chef Julie's Porkalicious BBQ

4 Lb. bone-in shoulder roast (you can use boneless if you prefer)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper

Mix the salt, sugar, and pepper together. Completely encrust the pork with the salt mix. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest 12-24 hours in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 275F (250F for convection). Remove the roast from the plastic wrap and place is a roasting pan.

Cook 7-8 hours, basting the pork with its own juices every 20 minutes after 4 hours time.

Allow the roast to rest for 30-45 minutes on the counter, remove the bone (it will pop right out with no resistance if the roast is cooked properly).

 Shred the meat with two forks and place in a bowl or on a serving platter.

You can reheat it in the oven or the microwave if you like. Serve with Cabbage slaw and barbecue sauces.

Mustard-based sauce

3/4 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup red wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbs. brown sugar (optional)
1 Tsp. hot sauce (I like Frank's Original)
        Mix, chill, and serve.

Vinegar-based sauce

1 cup red wine or cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. ketchup
1 tsp. cayanne or red pepper flakes
1 tps. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. salt

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Empanadas

I went against the grain a little yesterday and made empanadas! If you live on the Mexican boarder you know exactly what they are, but for the sake of my fellow foodie friends who don't know: An empanada is a mini pie usually filled with savory ingredients and usually pan or deep fried. You can bake them too, but I think pan fried is the traditional way to go. They are a staple in South and Central America, where the shell is usually made from
MASA-or corn flour. Mine are made from all purpose flour for the sake of easiness.

 I have filled these lovely little pockets with every combination of ingredients I can think of. From simple taco meat to five spice spiked chocolate truffle mix. Any way you eat them they are gorgeous.

Below is a standard filling. But use your imagination. Go wild and try some of your own fillings. You will be rewarded time and time again with amazing yumminess!!!

My favorite thing about them is that they freeze very well. I like to make a large batch and cook a few now and freeze the rest for later. Here is the recipe and corresponding pictures.

Empanadas

DOUGH:
3 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher, or sea, salt
9oz. (18Tbs.) very cold butter
11Tbs. cold water
Place the first four ingredients into a food processor and pulse on and off until you have a pebbly sand consistency.


Add the water and pulse the machine on and off a few more time until the mix comes together.

Transfer the dough to a clean surface and gently knead for 20-30 seconds just until you form a ball. DO not overwork the dough or it will be tough and chewy. Flatten the dough into a thick disk and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes to rest and chill.

Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. cut into 2 1/2 inch circles with a cookie cutter or the rim of a rocks glass.

FILLING
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Lb. ground beef, pork, lamb, goat, or chicken-or any combination thereof
1 Tbs. each smoked paprika, cumin, coriander
1tsp cayenne
2 tsp. salt

Over medium high heat, saute the onions and garlic in the oil. once the onions are cooked-about 5 minutes- add your ground meat of choice (I have used smoked tofu as well with some success). saute until the meat is cooked through. Drain off as much oil as you can. Add the spices and saute until fragrant. About 5 minutes more. Let the mix cool, and stuff your empanada dough with filling.

TO ASSEMBLE
Flatten out the dough a little bit more. Place it on a clean surface. Brush the entire disk with egg wash (1 egg and 2Tbs. water whisked together). Place 2 Tbs. of filling in the center of the dough disk.

Fold the dough over to form a pocket and crimp the edges together.
Bake the pocket at 400* for 12-15 minutes. Or you can pan fry them in a little corn oil for
3-4 minutes per side, or deep fry them for 3-5 minutes. Serve with sour cream, salsa and anything else you think would be yummy to dip them in!! Ole!!!

Caprese appetizer for parties

Last weekend I was entertaining guests for dinner. I didn't have a lot of time to get a starter together, so I thought about making a "Salad Caprese". The trouble was that I needed something that I could pass about and it be a finger food. So I took all the elements of the Caprese and recomposed them into a finger-food. Here is a photo:

What you need:
BEAUTIFUL Cherry Tomatoes
Buffalo Mozzarella
Whole Basil Leaves
2 Tbs. Vintage Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. (crushed to a pulp) garlic
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp. brown sugar
Fancy Martini or cocktail picks

Cut the tomatoes in half. Cut the Mozzarella into pieces small enough to fit tidily onto the tomato halves. Place the tomatoes, cut side down on a nice serving plate. Place one basil leaf atop the tomato, and one piece of cheese atop the basil leaf. Stick the martini picks through the stack.

In a container with a tightly fitting lid, shake the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, and sugar vigorously to emulsify.

Using a pipette you can buy from any craft store ( I use Micheal's), suck up the dressing and dot about the tomato piles and the serving platter. Serve with pretty beverage napkins and/or little plates.

New England Clam Chowder

Even though I consider myself a Low Country chef by training, I am a Proud New Englander by birth and upbringing. One thing I have noticed about the 44 states that are not New England, they cannot do clam chowder.

Now please don't write to me about your Manhattan, or Chesapeake Bay chowders; I'm not talking about you or your amazing cuisine. I'm talking about all the mediocre chain restaurants (and a few very nice upscale places too) that absolutely butcher one of my favorite foods on Earth.

There has been a trend here in American to over-thicken creamy soups and turn them into a textural nightmares resembling pudding. It's disgusting, and it NEEDS TO STOP! Soup is supposed to be a liquid, not a semi-solid. No soup has suffered from this trend more than my beloved clam chowder. So I am here to tell you, dear readers, that clam chowder-while creamy-is definitely not "thick" like gravy.

The recipe below is the result of several recipes that I inherited from the ladies in my family back in Salem, MA. The first thing you will notice when you make this is that the broth, while satisfying, is not gloppy or super thick. The second thing you'll see is there there are tiny, glistening bits of melted butter floating on the surface of your chowder. This is how you know that you have done it the right way!

 I did take the shortcut of using canned clams instead of fresh ones, because I now live in eastern California and fresh clams are hard to come by. If you'd like to use fresh clams, I have included instructions for you at the bottom of the recipe. Otherwise, it is as close to authentic as I can get without mucking for the clams at low tide myself. Happy eating!

Julie's (Most Traditional) Clam Chowder
4 Tbs. salted butter or bacon fat (bacon fat is more traditional, but butter is more available these days)
1 cup medium diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery-optional, some recipes have it, some don't
1 Tbs. flour
3 cups clam juice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 cups of 1/2 inch diced potato
2 cups canned chopped clams
2 cups cream
pepper and finely minced parsley to taste

In  a large stock pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add Onions and celery and sauté 5-7 minutes until the onions are fragrant and turning translucent DO NOT LET THEM BROWN!

 Add the flour and stir so that there are no lumps. Pour in the clam juice and add the bay leaf, thyme and  potatoes.

 Bring to a simmer (do not boil), and allow the potatoes to cook 10-12 minutes, until they are tender. Lastly, add the clams and cream. Simmer another 5 minutes.

 Season with pepper and parsley. Serve immediately.

We like ours in Hollowed out mini boules.




Steamed Clams-for anyone lucky enough to be near a source!
5 pounds hard shelled clams-scrubbed and ready for steaming
Steam in a large stock pot in 1 cup of water 10-15 minutes. Remove the clams from their shells, chop them coarsely, and strain the remaining liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove any bits of sand, and reserve for the soup. Follow the recipe as written using the fresh clams in place of the canned one, and 2 cups of clam juice and your remaining strained cooking liquid.
Even my picky kid loves this chowder!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The World's finest Holiday Rum Cake

My Favorite Christmas Cake












2 cups flour
1 stick butter
1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown  sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
 1 cup toasted and chopped nuts of your choice
1 bottle rum
2 cups of dried  fruit



Sample  the rum to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the rum again.

To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure

the rum is still OK. Try another cup... Just in case. Turn off the mixerer

thingy.  Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.



Pick the frigging fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner… If the fried druit

gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample

the rum to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something.

Check the rum. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one

table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you can find. Greash the

oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to

beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the

rum and wipe counter with the cat. Bingle Jells!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

My Annual Holiday Rant: The Food Police Suck!!!

Holiday Food Police SUCK!!!! 

 

Hola friends, family, and loyal readers! Let me be one of the first people to wish you a happy holiday season filled with amazing food, and good cheer (which as far as I am concerned go hand in hand). I am not Christian: I consider myself an Agnostic Buddhist, but I do love the sights, sounds, music, and especially the food that goes with the Christmas/Haunaka/Kwanza/(insert your made-up holiday here) season! Even though I eat mostly vegetarian, even I love to indulge this time of year! BUT...

I have ALREADY started to see the Damned Food Police out on TV waggling their boney fingers at us, and telling us all how to avoid excess holiday calories! Every year since I first read it (in 2003), I have sent out this OpEd from the USA Today newspaper about holiday eating to friends and family. I am posting it here so everyone can read and enjoy it.


THOU SHALT NOT SKIM FLAVOR FROM THE HOLIDAYS
 By Craig Wilson, USA TODAY

 I hate this time of year. Not for its crass commercialism and forced frivolity, but because it's the season when the food police come out with their wagging fingers and annual tips on how to get through the holiday without gaining 10 pounds. You can't pick up a magazine without finding a list of holiday eating do's and don'ts. Eliminate second helpings, high-calorie sauces and cookies made with butter, they say. Fill up on vegetable sticks, they say. Good grief. Is your favorite childhood memory of Christmas a carrot stick? I didn't think so. Isn't mine, either. A carrot was something you left for Rudolph. I have my own list of tips for holiday eating. I assure you, if you follow them, you'll be fat and
happy. So what if you don't make it to New Year's? Your pants won't fit anymore, anyway.

 1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

 2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an egg- nonalcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

 3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

 4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

 5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?
 6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the

buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
 7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can't leave them behind. You're not going to see them again.

 8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

 9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards, mate.

 10. And one final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips. Start over. But hurry! Cookieless January is just around the corner!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday Spice Cake with Apple-Rum Caramel

For me, Thanksgiving dinner preparations start with desserts. This year I am making a Spiced Bundt cake with apple/rum caramel. I took the recipe from an old Bon Appetit magazine, but I did tweak it a bit from the original. If you would like to use the recipe as printed you can find it on their webpage. Here my version of the recipe:

Holiday Spice Bundt Cake with Apple/Rum Carmel


cake

1 3/4 cups butter
1 vanilla bean-split lengthwise and scraped

2 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups slivered and toasted almonds

2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg (please grate your own if you are able)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice (again please grind your own if able)
3/4 tsp. freshly grated ginger (ok....even I use the stuff in the jar here)
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 eggs
5 yolks
1 cup whole milk

In a sauce pan melt the butter. Add the vanilla bean and the scrapings. Cook over medium high heat-stirring often-until the butter foams up and then browns. Be very careful not to allow the butter to burn, you just want a light amber color.

Remove the bean from the butter, and pour the hot butter into a tempered glass dish. Place in the fridge for about an hour until the butter has set back up to nearly solid.

In the meantime...with the blade attachment in your food processor, pulse the flour and almonds until the almonds are finely ground. Add the next 8 ingredients, and pulse a few times to mix everything together.
(Preheat oven to 350F)
Once your browned butter mixture is solid, place into a stand mixer with the peddle attachment in place. Add the 3 sugars and turn the machine to the highest setting and whip the mixture until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Turn the machine off and scrape down the sides. Add the lemon zest and turn the machine to the middle setting. Add the eggs and the yolks ONE AT A TIME BEATING FOR 30-60 SECONDS AFTER EACH. If you have done this correctly you will have a very light, fluffy (almost icing-like) texture.

Turn the machine to low and add 1/2 the flour mix and all of the milk. Mix for 2 minutes and add the remaining flour. Mix one more minute.

Pour your cake batter into a very well oiled Bundt pan. Bake undisturbed for 65-70 minutes. Cake is done when a tooth pic is inserted into the deep part of the cake and comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 25 minutes, invert onto a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool completely before serving or storing WELL WRAPPED in the fridge for up to 6 days.

caramel

1 cup white sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup filtered or distilled water
1/4 cup fresh apple cider
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs. dark rum
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Combine sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a HIGH WALLED sauce pan (you will thank me for this later).

Over medium high to high heat dissolve the sugar. Cook without stirring until the caramel turns a dark amber color (about 320F on a candy thermometer).

Remove from the heat, while standing a bit back from the pot, and add the remaining ingredients. The caramel with boil VIOLENTLY...this is normal and why you need a high walled pot.

Once the boiling has subsided, with a wire whisk, vigorously whip the caramel over low heat until any hard bits of sugar remaining are dissolved. Set aside and cool to room temperature before use.

Once the cake and the caramel are room temperature, you can pour the caramel over the Bundt cake and serve!

You can chill this in the fridge, and store cold in an airtight container for about 10 days.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Rice Noodles with Broccoli


If you have known me for a long time, then you will remember that was a vegetarian for about 9 years. While I am no longer strictly a vegetarian, I do still eat mostly meat-free. This dish is one of my favorites, and while there is no meat in it at all, you can add it if you like. I think it would be super-yummy with shrimp, or chicken. 


Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Broccoli
3 Tbs. soy sauce or tamari
3 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. freshly ground ginger
1 Tbs. finely minced chives
2 Tbs. chili garlic sauce
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tsp. sesame seeds

1 Tbs. Fresh minced garlic ( about 3 cloves)
12 oz. broccoli florets
16 oz. bag of wide rice noodles
1-2 Tbs. sesame oil
Combine the first 7 ingredients together in a glass measuring cup, or a jar. Whisk to make a smooth thick sauce.
Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. In the meantime, place a 12-14 inch skillet over very high heat. Once the skillet is hot, spray it with a little nonstick food spray. Add the broccoli and allow it to brown on one side. 
Toss, and add ¼ cup of water, and allow this to completely evaporate while continuing to toss the broccoli. Be careful not to overcook it, as broccoli loses nutrients during the cooking process. The longer you cook it, the more goodness escapes!
Once the water begins to boil; add the rice noodles and turn the heat down to low. Soak the noodles according the package directions (about 7-9 minutes).
When the broccoli is done cooking remove it from the skillet, and add the sesame oil. Turn the heat off and add the minced garlic, gently brown it by tossing it vigorously to keep it from burning.

Add the reserved sauce. 
When the noodles are done drain them thoroughly, turn the sauce mixture up to medium-high heat and allow it to begin to simmer. Add the noodles and broccoli and toss together.  
 Serve immediately.  
Yields 4-6 portions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Stuffed Roma Tomato Appetizer

Have you ever been asked out to a party or get-together on short notice, and then asked to please bring a snack or appetizer? While it doesn't happen often, it does happen. With the holidays coming up I've been thinking about last minute foods I can just throw together with a minimum amount of time and effort but a maximum amount of "YUMMINESS". Here is a recipe I came up with a few weeks ago when I got into a pinch and needed an appetizer on very short (like a couple of hours) notice.

I make my own pesto and freeze it in 4 ounce containers, but you can buy a pretty decent pesto sauce-premade-from the dairy section of most supermarkets these days. This is one of those must-have items to keep around for last minute ideas. You can purchase 3 or 4 tubs of the ready-made stuff and freeze it until needed. It thaws in less than an hour at room temperature.

I keep Roma tomatoes in my veggie bin year round. You will never come to my home and not find them (unless I just ran out, and I'll be getting more tomorrow). I like Roma Tomatoes because they are fairly small, usually firm, and always available. They puree well into sauce and are easy to chop for salsa fresca. They are also a wiz for cutting in half and stuffing with a variety of ingredients-from truffle infused savory rice pudding to simple shredded cheese. Roma tomatoes are the workhorse of the two-bite world!

Here is my last minute easy-breezy appetizer for everyday use!

Pesto Stuffed Roma Tomatoes
6 Roma tomatoes cut in half lengthwise
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup pesto
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Scoop out the 'guts' of the tomatoes and set aside for another use.


 Mix the breadcrumbs and pesto together in a bowl and stuff into the tomato shells.

Mix the two cheeses together and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Place them stuffing side up in a glass baking dish.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Teavana: a Review

WARNING: These people are like the used car salesmen of tea!

I was walking through the mall the other day, and passed by Teavana. Remembering that I was out of my hibiscus tea, I wandered inside thinking that their variety would be fun to try.

I tell the girl at the counter that I'd like to purchase a very small amount of an herbal (because I am caffeine sensitive) Hibiscus tea. That's where things went downhill.

She pulls out two large tins and begins fanning them with their lids in my direction. Sheesh...that's super-cheesy! So she tells me that they mix these two varieties together, and how much do I want. There is a two ounce minimum purchase, by the way. I tell her again that I am caffeine sensitive and the tea on the left has tea leaves in it and I can't have that one, so I'd like just two ounces of the tea on the right.

She then insists that the tea on the left has ONLY 1-15 mg of caffeine per serving and mixing them won't cause me any problems. This is like saying to a person with a peanut allergy "there is only one peanut in you cookie, so I'm sure you won't die of anaphylactic shock".

I finally convince her that I really do only want the damned tea on the right and she begrudgingly puts away the caffeinated one. Sheesh!

Then she starts trying to UPSELL me an airtight metal tin, that will keep my tea fresh for a full year (she tells me). But I then remind her that I only want two ounces of tea, just to try it out, which will not last me a full weekend. Then it's on to selling me some ugly-assed giant brown sugar crystals. I prefer, and have an organic honey for my tea, so I decline.

She then puts two big scoops of tea into a little bag and weighs it, it's four ounces, and she starts closing the bag...ugh!!!...I insist that I still only want two ounces ( am I speaking Japanese? ) just to try it out. She again begrudgingly removes a scoop of tea from the bag.

So $7, some medium aggravation, and a baggie in hand. I FINALLY have a pitcher's worth of iced tea to make. This type of salesmanship always makes me very uncomfortable, and quite upset.

Next time I'll just buy Celestial Seasonings.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

It is the end of October, and it is still warm here in Northern California's river delta area. As a matter of fact the farm stands, and farmer's markets are still overflowing with a great abundance.

This morning I was looking at the cucumbers I bought a few days ago, and was trying to come up with something besides pickles, or adding them to a salad. I am trying to eat a bit more healthfully of late, so I am limited on options. Then it came to me: Cucumber Soup!

Cucumber soup

Ingredients

4 cucumbers, seeds removed - peeled and grated
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups plain yogurt-or 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup heavy cream if you are not watching calories
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
fresh black pepper
Directions
  1. Combine the grated cucumber, lemon juice, mint, dill, garlic, yogurt, olive oil, and salt in a large mixing bowl; stir with a large spoon. Pour the mixture into a blender; blend on high speed until smooth. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Divide the soup between four bowls.Grind a little black pepper over each bowl and serve.
  2. Variations: reserve the olive oil until the soup has been served and then drize it over the soup (it just looks pretty that way. If you'd like a truly chilled soup, add 1/2 cup crushed ice to the blender with everything else, them puree. Reserve a few sprigs of dill and top the plated soup with them as a garnish.