Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How To Hassle A Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder/boston butt is hands down my favorite cut of meat. It's nearly foolproof, it's incredibly versatile, and it's one of the most inexpensive items per pound in the butcher section. Here are some of my favorites - notice just how different they are. They're more like frameworks than recipes - feel free to ask, or google away for more ideas or specific instructions.

One thing, before we start: Do not, under any circumstances, shred up the meat until it's super fine. Not with forks, especially not with a mixer. Gently pull it apart, but mostly, let it slump apart. Well-cooked meat should separate in moist chunks, not dry shreds or paste.

This is SO good with fresh  noodles, but egg noodles or regular pasta is also delicious. 

2 big cans whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
Olive oil
Herbs you like
Grated parmesan
Cooked pasta

In an oven-safe pot or pan big enough for the meat, if you have one, or in a  sweat the garlic and onion in the oil until translucent over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and if you want 'em, dried herbs. Cook, stirring constantly, for a minute. Add the tomatoes and stir. Season to taste with salt & pepper. If you used an oven-safe dish, put in the pork; if not, pour sauce into a baking dish and add the pork. Cook for 6-8hrs @300, or until meat is falling apart tender. Break up any big chunks of pork, gently letting it fall apart into chunks. Sprinkle with fresh herbs (basil & parsley here) and grated cheese.

Bo Ssam

Here is the recipe, from David Change of Momofuku. Idk about the oysters, I've never done that part, but everything else about this is inexpensive and easy and SO delicious. A great way to dip your toe into Korean flavors.

Sweet Green Curry
Listen, this and the following are very basic. For more in-depth recipes, visit SheSimmers and search or browse for curries. 

2 cans full fat coconut milk, Aroy-D, Chao Koh, or another brand with no stabilizers (they make the curry slimy)
3+tbsp green curry paste (very spicy, let your heat tolerance be a guide, if you don't do spicy food, just...make something else. Not joking.)
1/3c sugar
Several dashes of fish sauce. If you don't have it, DO NOT use soy sauce, just put in some salt.
Veggies you like, chopped into bite-sized pieces, such as:
-Summer squash
Cooked jasmine rice

Dump it all in the crock pot or dutch oven with lid in a 300 oven and cook for 6-8 hours. Near the end, add veggies and cook until soft. Stir to gently shred the pork, breaking up any big pieces. Serve over rice.

Panaeng Curry
Less spicy, rich, peanutty, delicious. 

2 cans full fat coconut milk
1 can red curry paste (less for less spicy - this one's not nearly so incendiary as the green)
1/3c natural peanut butter - the kind you have to stir. Jif-style will make the texture weird.
1c roasted peanuts
Fish sauce or salt, to season
Any of the veggies previously - sweet potatoes, squash, etc are also good here.
Cooked rice

See previous recipe.


Tacos! Burritos! Nachos! Salad! This is so delicious. When in doubt, Kenji Alt-Lopez's Food Lab recipes at Serious Eats is the way to go.

Cuban-Style Roast Pork
Okay full disclosure here: I don't remember where I got this recipe, or why I started making it in the first place. I serve it with black beans (saute up some minced garlic, onions, and cumin, toss in drained cans of black beans) and rice, and salad, and it seems to be a meal for a crowd that covers most dietary restrictions - people can usually eat at least two or three components, and it contains no gluten, eggs, dairy, or soy. I straight up stole the idea from one of my best friends' Cuban husband's family - they served a similar meal (it was in 2012 and I was very tired and a little hungover, don't ask) and it stuck in my mind. Here's a link to a quick write-up of the pork.

BBQ Sandwiches, Indoors
Yeah yeah, not real barbecue. Feel free to use any rub you want - I usually just throw stuff together on the basic formula of salt, sugar, mustard, spices. 

1/4c brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp mustard powder or sharp mustard - dijon, grainy, whatever
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp paprika (smoked if you've got it!)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin
Liquid smoke, if you want

Your favorite BBQ sauce

Mix rub ingredients together and pat on the meat. Roast, uncovered, in a 300 oven for 6-8 hours. You know what to do next.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Roast pork shoulder

I've found that with pork shoulder, all you really need is enough time. I was planning on splitting this up between my oven and turkey roaster, and the amounts of the other stuff are very flexible. Ideally, it's very tender, but not shredded up like pulled pork sandwiches - it COULD be shredded up, but it's served just broken into pieces. There are roasty brown parts and tender inner parts, and it's super tasty and easy. Here's someone else's picture I straight up stole to show kinda how it looks at the end.

For ever 6-8lbs of pork shoulder:

-10+ whole peeled garlic cloves (actually important - jarred garlic will make it acrid and overwhelming, whole cloves roast into mushy sweetness, because of science reasons that aren't important).
Lime juice - 1/3 cup
Mojo marinade - 1 cup
2 tbsp dried oregano (I also have this)
1 tbsp table salt or 2 tbsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300. Put pork in a baking dish with high sides, packing it in as much as possible. Pour and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients over (no need to premix). Cover loosely with foil, and bake for 3 hours. Uncover, baste with juices, and turn up the oven to 325. Bake for another 2-4 hours, basting occasionally, until a knife inserted into the meat meets almost no resistance and the surface is crackly and brown. When it's cool enough to handle, drain juices into a bowl and reserve. Pick over meat, taking out bones and big chunks of fat. Pour some of the juices back - not enough so it's swimming, just to moisten - and toss. It should have fallen apart already, but if there are any huge chunks left, break them up. Bits of fat will render in when it's reheated.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Cashew-coconut non-dairy cheesecake with sauteed apples and vegan caramel in a maple-oat crust

So needed to make a dessert that was dairy, gluten, almond, and egg free. I really could have sliced up some apples and tossed together some cinnamon sugar to dip, but I thought: can I make a dessert people with no restrictions will still like? Also, I'd need to go to the grocery store, but I didn't want to be hunting specialty ingredients.
 I spent some time thinking about techniques and googling vegan and Paleo desserts and this is what I came up with. This recipe is neither of those, but could be made that way with some alterations - it's especially close to vegan, if something else is used as a stabilizer. It could be paleo pretty easily, too, with something else to sweeten.

Okay. So. I won't lie, this is a process. It's for a special occasion, when you really want to go all out.
The cashews need to soak overnight. The gelatin gets bloomed, heated to liquefy, and tempered in. It needs taste-testing along the way - I've only made this once and I was tinkering as I went, so the amounts of some things, like sugar, lemon juice, and spices, are approximate. Also, you'll need to factor in time for making the crust, the caramel, and the apple topping, and letting it chill to set.  This should in no way be seen as a tested, prescriptive recipe. These are just my notes, and you can use them as a guide if you want to.

Things I'd consider changing, if I do this again:
1. Less cashew. Just, like, less. This made a ridiculous amount - we're talking a 10" spring form pan, full.
2. Chocolate version! Melt some dark chocolate with the coconut oil and milk. Reduce lemon juice, leave out cinnamon. No apples in the topping, maybe toast up some coconut shards for a decoration on top of the caramel. I'm probably making this version for Christmas.

Autumn Cheesecake (without gluten, dairy, egg, soy, almonds, pecans), or Creamy Firm
Cashew-Coconut Pudding With Maple Oat Crust, Coconut Caramel, And Sauteed Cinnamon Apples.

The crust, caramel, and topping can be made in advance.

The crust:

This is based off of the oat steusel in the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook. If you don't need to be gluten free, use whatever crust you like.

-1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
-3 tbsp maple syrup
-Oats: I used a mix of oat flour and baby oatmeal because I had them, but normally I would have just whizzed some rolled oats. I think I'd like this better with oats the texture of quick-cook, no more grinding.

Mix oil and syrup. Add oats a little at a time until you have a rubble. Let it cool until the it firms up a bit - a few minutes in the fridge. Line the bottom of a springform with parchment or foil and grease lightly. Press crumbs into the bottom of the pan and chill again until cool. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or maybe longer, checking it frequently. When it's toasted, take it out and cool it completely.

2 cups raw cashews (make sure they're raw, or they won't get as creamy, and it'll taste very cashew-y)
2 cans coconut milk
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
Juice of 1 big, heavy lemon, or two small ones
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

The day before you bake, dump cashews in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Put it in the fridge, and forget it. The next day, when you're ready to make the filling, put the bowl in the microwave and nuke it until it's boiling...or dump it all in a pot and do it on the stove. Get out your food processor or high powered blender and plug it in. Drain cashews in a colander and immediately dump hot nuts in the machine, and whirl it up. You will need to stop it to scrape down the sides. If it's too thick for the machine to handle, open one of your cans of coconut milk and add some until it loosens up. Process it until it's very creamy and smooth - it'll get there!

In a medium bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2c cold water and whisk out lumps. Let it sit until it's gelled up, a few minutes or less. Microwave as little as possible (10 second intervals), stirring in between, until it's liquified. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a big bowl you'll use with a hand mixer), put the sugar and half of one of the cans of coconut milk. Turn it on, and pour in the liquified gelatin mixture, making sure there are no lumps. If there are, strain it - you don't want those gummy bits in your cheesecake. Once the mixture is homogenized, add a few tablespoons of the lemon juice, the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and the rest of the coconut milk and melted coconut oil, and mix. Start up the food processor again, and slowly add this to the cashew puree. Taste, and adjust seasoning as you like - probably more lemon juice. When you like how it tastes, pour mixture on to the crust in the springform and chill until set, a few hours. If you have too much filling, chill it in other containers - it's tasty to eat as pudding.

These are easy. The apples are just like cooking up mushrooms in a pan. The caramel is just like making regular caramel stuff, just instead of butter and cream, you use coconuts that have been processed and refined into various forms.

Sauteed apples

3 apples
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp coconut oil

Dice apples into rough 1" dice; peel if you want, I didn't. In batches, saute in coconut oil until browned. Don't overcrowd the pan and don't stir too much; you want some color on them. Toss with cinnamon.

Coconut caramel:

1 3/4 c white sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 can coconut milk
Pinch of salt

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar. If you prefer to use a wet method, do that, or do it dry. When the melted sugar is a nice caramelly color, turn off the heat and add the oil, salt & milk. It'll sputter and froth! Whisk until smooth and then turn the heat on and cook until it reaches soft ball. Let cool a bit, so it's still very liquidy but not scalding hot, and pour it over the chilled cake, tilting so it conver evenly. Chill until firm, top with apple mixture, and serve!

Ugly but good (bonus: low carb!)

Like most white people, I'm very certain that most of my ancestors ate a lot of cabbage, beige carbs, and pork. They can be combined in many ways, and this one's very easy, inexpensive, filling, and so, so ugly.

I'm too lazy for cabbage rolls, and the phrase "unstuffed cabbage rolls" makes me roll my eyes hard enough to be heard the next state over, so I layered this in protest. It all mixed together in the bowl anyway so it might as well have just dumped the rest of it on top of the shredded cabbage.

Add whatever you want. Use more rice, or leave it out and put it over a carb of your choice (but your choice should be egg noodles.) Use canned tomatoes in any form and feel free to use sour cream, labneh, etc instead. Add some sweet peppers, carrots, or whatever before. Replace all of the rice with cauliflower crumbles for really low carb.

Shannon's Fictionalized Ancestors' Hotdish
We ate this for dinner four nights in a row. I made some quick pickles one night, rough tziziki another, and mashed beets another. The pickles were the best. A dollup of lebneh, sour cream, or Greek yogurt at the end would not be terrible, and showering it with chopped scallions or parsley will help with visual appeal.

1 large head cabbage, shredded or roughly chopped
1lb ground beef
1lb ground pork
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme or some? fresh
1 cup instant brown rice. Any leftover grain while be fine, as well
2 cups cauliflower crumbles - fresh or frozen. If frozen, thaw florets and chop finely, if fresh, whiz in food processor or chop.
3 15oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
2/3c (FINE, it was just some big dollops) Greek yogurt
3tbsp Apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp white miso*
A few shakes of fish sauce*
Salt to taste
Generous amount of black pepper

 *No, my Irish, Slovenian, French, and English forebearers did not have these, and they're optional, because if you don't have them, going out to get stuff especially for this is against the spirit of this dish. If you have some bullion, a bit of tomato paste, some MSG, or any other umami booster, put some in, or just salt it more.

Cook the meat in a large pan, crumbling as you go. When there's more grey than pink, add the onions, thyme, and some grinds of black pepper. Continue cooking until the onions are very soft and browning and the meat is sizzling and browning. Add garlic and stir, and then add cauliflower and thyme. Splash in some water and scrape up the frond, and add vinegar. If using instant brown rice, add it now with a bit more than the amount of water recommended on the package. If using cooked leftover grain, just add a splash of water to loosen it up. Separately, mix the tomato, cream, and yogurt, and season.

In at least one big casserole, or maybe two (eyeball it based on your pile of cabbage and pan of meat/rice), line the bottom with all of the shredded cabbage, and sprinkle with salt. Top with the meat mixture and then pour the tomato micture on top of that. Bake until the cabbage is soft and the whole thing is bubbly and browning... maybe half an hour at 350.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

#MillennialPink slaw

If we've been at the same potluck in the sometime over the last several years, you've probably had The Slaw. It's so basic but so, so good: tangy, crisp, a bit sweet, very lightly spicy. It's good as a side, but my favorite is piling it on pulled pork (or other meat) sandwiches. Incidentally it's very healthy - almost no carbs and very low calorie, incidentally gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and nut free. Plus it can sit safely on the potluck table for hours, unlike mayo-based sides.

It's based on this Smitten Kitchen recipe for sandwich slaw. There are many variations, but this is my favorite. It's just so pretty! 

You can spiralize/matchstick cut the veggies in whatever way you prefer. I have a mandolin that makes very short work of it, and I buy the carrots, beets, and sometimes cabbage already cut up.  You can use any crunchy veggie for this that you like. The red cabbage stains everything pink, so I use white if I'm making a rainbow version.
Pre-brine. The cabbage turns electric pink all the way through after a few hours.


2 cups white vinegar
1/2c kosher salt (less if it's table salt - the tiny grains fit more salt in the cup.)
1/4c white sugar
2tbsp mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
4 cloves of garlic, gently smushed with the bottom of a glass or two side of a knife, so they're still mostly in one piece
Pinch of dried Thai chilis, or some slices of a jalepeƱo pepper
2 cups cold water

A bunch of veggies, to fill whatever container you want to put them in, all finely julienned or spiralized to roughly the same size:
- raw beets (cut your own or I've found "noodles" in the produce section)
-part of a head of red cabbage
-1 red onion
-1 or 2 red peppers
-a bunch of radishes
-peeled, seeded cucumber
-one of the small bags of matchstick carrots

On the stove, mix all brine ingredients except for the hot pepper & water. Bring to a simmer, stirring, until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Cool while you get the vegetables ready.

Layer the veggies in a container with a lid. Put the onions on or near the bottom.

Add water to the brine - if the mixture is cool, proceed, if not, put it in the fridge until it's at least room temperature. Pour it over the veggies and push down on them to submerge. Put in fridge for at least two hours before serving, preferably overnight - this is remarkably better after a day. Store in refrigerator.

Creamy variation: stir a few tablespoons of sour cream and/or mayonaise into well-drained slaw. It, to, will be gloriously PANK. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Gluten free chocolate oat beet cake: This is the weirdest cake recipe ever but it's so so good

I promise you, this isn't healthy cake. Really. The last dessert I made was an 8x8 of blondies that had a cup each of butter, flour, sugar, and chocolate chips, plus a healthy glug of whisky (these Smitten Kitchen ones. follow her note at the bottom). This cake is moist, tender, delicate, deeply chocolaty, and oaty. Because the structure comes only from oats, almond flour and cocoa powder, there is nothing to make it gritty, dry, or weird like a lot of gluten-free baked goods. It's not good for being gluten-free, it's just really good. Consider the fiber, protein, and nutrients to be a bonus - I promise you won't notice them. 
And yes. It has beets. I hate beets, except in this cake. It's kind of like how with zucchini bread, the vegetable melts in to add moisture... but with a faintly perfumey, rich flavor that goes perfectly with the chocolate. I promise, it doesn't taste like dirt. You can also sub the same volume of pureed zucchini for the beets, just add 1/2c extra sugar - beets are sweet, zucchini is not.
This cake bakes up with a very tender, delicate crumb, one that falls apart into fudgy bits when you look at it wrong. For that reason, make sure that whatever frosting you choose is very light and spreadable. I thinned a basic buttercream, but next time I'm going to do a chocolate whipped cream, and one time I did a white chocolate whipped cream with beets in it and it was soooo pretty, so I'll include that below as well.

So, anyway, here's this weird cake. Make it next time you need to bring a gluten free dessert somewhere...or just next time you need to bring a dessert anywhere. 

Chocolate Beet Cake
Adapted from this recipe, which is also vegan. That means it's dairy- and egg-free, if your dessert plans require that. Makes a 13x9 or two 8" rounds. The beets can be precooked, but for goodness' sake not pickled. 

1 large or 2 small beets, or 1 large zucchini + 1/2c brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk + tbsp lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oat flour (I whirled rolled oats in my food processor. If you do that, keep in mind that the oats should be measured after grinding.)
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup cocoa powder (dutch process cocoa makes this cake a deep oreo-colored brown/black!)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

If using beets, and they are uncooked: Wrap in foil and roast at 400 degrees for 60-75 minutes, or until soft. Or steam for 30 minutes, or cook them however you want, just get them really really soft. Peel and puree in a blender or food processor.
If using zucchini: Leave raw. Grate by hand on the finest holes, or puree in a food processor or blender with some of the buttermilk to thin, if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350. Mix vegetable puree, buttermilk, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs until combined. Add in dry ingredients and beat until smooth. No need to worry about overmixing this cake - there's no gluten to make it tough! 

Line pan(s) with parchment paper and grease well - especially important with 8" rounds, as this is a very delicate cake and won't come out intact otherwise. Pour in the batter - it will be very thin. Bake 30-35 minutes for rounds, longer for the 13 x 9 (totally forget, sorry!). When done, the crumb will be fudgy and stick to a knife or toothpick, but not liquid.  Allow to cool completely before frosting. 

You can top it with a sprinkle of powdered sugar if you're one of those people who thinks that's sufficient, or you can frost it. Here are some frosting options, because I love frosting and you deserve  some too:

Chocolate Whipped Cream
This is so good, I can't even. 

5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
2 cups heavy whipping cream
dash salt

Chop chocolate finely. Heat cream in microwave or on stove and pour over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Stir once or twice to combine, allow to sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate, add salt,  and stir again until smooth. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to a few days.  Whip until firm but not stiff and frost cake. 

White Chocolate Beet Whipped Frosting

5oz white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
A few tbsp of the beet puree from the cake 

Chop chocolate finely. Heat cream in microwave or on stove and pour over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Stir once or twice to combine, allow to sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Add salt, vanilla, and beet puree, and stir. Cool overnight, whip, frost. 

Basic American Chocolate Buttercream AKA frosting frosting
Use Google to find a recipe by someone who is less tired than I am, or...

1 cup / 2 sticks butter, softened
A bag of powdered sugar
Cocoa powder
Splash of vanilla
Several tbsp milk

Cream butter. Add some powdered sugar and whip it in, then add more. After you've added maybe 3 cups, add some cocoa powder - start with 1/3 cup. Mix that in. Add your vanilla, and if your butter was unsalted, add some salt. Keep tasting it (I'm assuming you've been tasting it already). Add more cocoa to taste or add more sugar. Keep adding until it's stiff, and then add a tablespoon of milk. Mix. Add another tablespoon and mix again. When it's thin enough to spread, put it on a cake. Or just eat it, you do you.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve 2016 menu

Lil Smokies (grape jelly & chili sauce)
Trader Joe's feta & caramelized onion bites
Gyoza (soy, rice vinegar, rice wine, ginger)
Strawberry spinach salad (poppyseed dressing, hazelnuts, pickled shallot)
Cheese: Bent River camembert, blue chevre
(thin water crackers, fig jam)
Dessert: Fudge, cocoa truffles, amaretti truffles
Wine: Ernest Rapeneau champagne, little bottle

Asher had strawberries, blueberries, fries, cheese, chicken, and bubbly water (from a champagne flute!)