February 23, 2012 · Recipe · (No comments)

 

As a kid, cornbread was always one of my favorite foods to bake and to eat. Even today, I cannot eat beef stew without it and struggle through cornbreadless chili. The perfect cornbread is a little dense, moist and crumby but still holds up to dipping. Each time I make cornbread, I tend to use a different recipe- whatever I find quickly on the internet. However, after the last recipe I tried, I won’t make anything else.

I was skeptical about the recipe because the process was different from all others I have tried. Instead of mixing fat (usually oil) into the batter, this recipe called for melting a fat (I used butter) in a cast-iron skillet or baking dish in a preheated oven and then pouring the batter in. I thought that surely the cornbread would end up dry and to crumbly. I was wrong. It was crispy on the outside, moist and dense on the inside. Perfect and a new go-to recipe.

Original recipe from NY Times Diner’s Journal.

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons butter, olive oil, lard or bacon drippings
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-grind cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, more if needed

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Put fat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or in an 8-inch square baking pan. Place pan in oven.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix eggs into milk, then stir this mixture into dry ingredients, combining with a few swift strokes. If mixture seems dry, add another tablespoon or two of milk.
  3. When fat and oven are hot, remove skillet or pan from oven, pour batter into it and smooth out top. Return pan to oven. Bake about 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned and sides have pulled away from pan; a toothpick inserted into center will come out clean.
February 2, 2012 · Recipe · (No comments)

There is a certain quality to slow, low cooked fatty pork that can’t be found in any other meat. When it is juicy, crispy and caramelized, each bite melts in your mouth. While many cuisines do pork well, none seem to have preparations that work quite as well with fatty pork as Asian cuisines.

A couple of weeks ago, Ian forwarded me a link to a New York Times article about slow roasted Korean Bo Ssam. The article provided a description of the Bo Ssam sold at David Chang’s Momofuku in New York ($200 for six to eight people!) and a simple explanation of the cooking process. With a few minutes of searching, I was able to find a more detailed recipe. The delicious photos accompanying the recipe along with a fortuitous sale on pork shoulder led me to spend a lazy Saturday marinating and roasting.

The recipe was easy to follow, but I had some doubts along the way. First, the recipe was for an 8-10 pound bone-in shoulder and I had a 4 pound boneless. I halved the quartered the volume of salt and sugar for the initial rub, and halved the secondary rub. After the initial rub, the pork felt rubbery on the outside and had released far more juices than I expected. I was skeptical about the possibility of juicy pork, but kept on cooking.

My second issue with my boneless 4 pound shoulder versus the recipes 8-10 pound bone-in came with cooking time. I assumed that the smaller weight would reduce the length of time, but didn’t know how the bone would effect it. In the end, I roasted the shoulder for about 3.5 hours- until it was well caramelized. (Of course my kids demanded my attention right at the wrong time and the shoulder was overly browned in the end.)

The resulting pork was good- especially the crisp outside- but not juicy and a

bit too salty. As suggested, we ate the pork in lettuce wraps with white rice and Momofuku’s ginger scallion sauce. However, I substituted Sichuan pickles for kimchee and Sichuan soybean chili paste for Korean in the Ssam sauce. We had a difficult time determining whether the saltiness was in the pork, the pickles (which are quite salty) or the modified Ssam sauce.

Saltiness aside, neither Ian nor I came close to disliking the meal, and I will try it again. Next time I will plan ahead so that I can make the kimchee and original Ssam sauce. I will reduce the salt in the original rub even more, reduce the marinating time, and reduce the roasting time (with Ian around so I can pay attention at the end!). Stay tuned…

After my time in Colorado, I have gotten out of the habit of planning meals. I find that meal planning is fairly important to me because vegetables from the grocery stores tend to go bad more quickly than I expect them to. The best routine for me is to buy produce for no more than three days at a time- even then I occasionally find them on their way out before I need them. On my only trip to the store after returning to Switzerland, I had no meals planned and just grabbed a handful of vegetables- mostly ones I can feed to 8-month old J. Sure enough, when I reached into the refrigerator tonight to steam some vegetables for J, I found a head of orange cauliflower beginning to turn. I was planning on an easy tortellini dinner (Ian is out of town and I am focusing on simple while we recover from jet lag), but the cauliflower needed to be used immediately. My first thought was to just steam it all up and save it for later. However, I remembered a bag of arugula and decided to use it before it even came close to wilting. My body has been craving vegetables after heavy holiday eating so I decided to make a giant salad. I knew I wanted to roast the cauliflower and decided to toss chickpeas, onion and cumin into the roasting pan. I made a very simple balsamic and olive oil dressing for the arugula, tossed in the roasted ingredients while they were still warm (I love arugula that cooks slightly with warm additions), and sprinkled avocado slices, sunflower seeds and a bit of lemon juice on top. It was a filling, tasty single parent night meal. If I were to make it again, I would prefer pumpkin seeds to sunflower and might toss the roasted cauliflower with yogurt instead of putting a dressing on the arugula. The meal reminded me of the ease and simple deliciousness of roasted vegetables. Yum!

November 7, 2011 · Weekly Menus and Recipes · 2 comments

Somehow this week turned out to be one of those where I didn’t cook all the
 meals I had planned. I’m not sure how it happened, but at the end of the weekend I had a surplus of vegetables as well as a package of smoked salmon that need to be used up. Craving sushi but at home alone with the kids onSunday afternoon, I decided to try Temari (ball) sushi. I imagined that forming the balls would take less time and effort than rolling. I imagined wrong. The Temari sushi took just as long as rolling, and it was quite tricky to figure out how to include some of the ingredients (thankfully both the salmon and nori worked well to “tie” the vegetables onto the ball). However, the balls had the major advantage of allowing D to help me create. We had a great time, and used up all our ingredients. D loved choosing which ingredients to use, and wasn’t too disappointed when I told her we couldn’t include sprinkles.
While not really a faster or easier way to make sushi, the Temari was fun for us to make and may be a repeat.
Check out the following links for the process:
Temari Sushi
How to make Temari sushi

Both Ian and I remember exactly what we ate on the night he proposed to me. Vegetarian sloppy joes.

July 15, 2006

The oddity of this meal is significant in the memory of that night. He proposed in a place, my house in Thoreau, NM, that we had spent very little time in and that I would move out of just a few weeks later. We don’t have that location to bring our daughters to and fondly say “this is the spot,” but we do have that simple meal to joke about. Thanks to a bit of internet searching, I can now repeat that meal all around the world.

The original sloppy joes came from a white Fantastic Foods box. Ian had stopped at the local co-op in Gallup (the grocery stores would never carry something so exotic!) on his way to spend what was perhaps one of two nights we passed in Thoreau in the year I lived there. The Fantastic Foods mix was perfect in that it took no time and only a jar of tomato paste to put together. We ate it often during our graduate school days. Of course now that we are living as expats, Fantastic Foods is impossible to come by. Sloppy joes have slipped from a common meal to a fond memory. Until this recipe. While the texture doesn’t match that of the TVP used by Fantastic Foods, the flavor is spot on. As per our tradition, we eat it on simple bread (hamburger buns are great) with mayonaise, cheese and pickles. This recipe boosts the dish from easy and filling to healthy with the use of lentils and flax seed. The jury is out on whether it is kid-friendly as our daughter threw such a fit at the table that she went to bed without eating. Due to her exhaustion, Ian and I were able to once again enjoy a favorite meal, just the two of us and the bags under our eyes.