Korean Fried Chicken Sliders

Holy Balls, Batman

Korean Fried Chicken Sliders

Oh haaaaaaaaaay!

Anyone there? Have you left me? It would be well deserved – I am a giant slacker and I apologize. This has been, perhaps, the busiest six months of my life, and I am exhausted. Just when I think things are easing up, they absolutely do not do that. Luckily it’s been mostly great, fun, exciting and lovely stuff, but I am tired. I have a list a mile long to tell you about, but it’s been so long since I have made some of the things I want to share, I am going to have to go back and make them again.

BUT, I had to write today, because as it turns out, today B&G turns FIVE. That’s right. Today is Bread & Ginger’s fifth blogiversary. I am currently celebrating with a delicious gimlet and some pork chops that I can’t wait to tell you about, but we are going to celebrate with some fried chicken sliders, which might be how I celebrate everything from now on, because they are good. I first made this a full sized sandwich, which was good but it was a lot. I like the sliders better for their spicy/sweet meat-to-everything-else ratio.

These are good and easy and quick! There is some deep frying but hopefully that doesn’t scare you anymore. The sauce is sweet and spicy and nutty from the sesame, and also has a hint of funk from the fish sauce. (A good thing, I promise…) There are some ingredients in here that you may not have, but if you have an Asian supermarket nearby you will be able to find all of them ( if you don’t  - Amazon!) Gochujang – Korean chile paste – is spicy, but spicy like sriracha, rather than spicy like Frank’s or Texas Pete. There is a great depth of flavor and umami-ness to it. The spice is balanced by the sweetness from the sugar, and the pickles and the Kewpie mayo and the buttery brioche combine with the sauce for crazy goodness.

I miss you all, and B&G. I am still working on making more hours in the day. If anyone has any ideas, I am all ears.

Happy Blogiversary B&G! And thank you all for reading!!

Seriously, you are not gonna want to stop.

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough

1. It is apparently National Junk Food Day which makes me feel way better about the snacks I had today.

2. I will watch Parks and Recreation any time it is on, notwithstanding how many times I have seen a particular episode.

3. I am currently reading A Clash of Kings. I am currently listening to Beyonce as often as possible. I saw her and Jay in concert a couple weeks back. It was amazing – life changing even. (Too hyperbolic?)

4. I am recovering from an ankle sprain. Apparently walking is a struggle. I wear heels for days, and hike around Denver, and a curb in front of one of my favorite restaurants three blocks from home lays me low while I am wearing top-siders. My high school soccer career is coming back to haunt me. Forever a champion. (This is the most annoying because I was starting to run again, and I have a Jawbone. It counted crutching, which was nice, but I am falling way short of my goal while I have a bum wheel.)

5. MAKE THESE SLIDERS. They are so good. You are going to like them. (And then use whatever sauce you have leftover for chicken wings. I am planning on doing just that this week.)

Korean Fried Chicken Sliders (makes 8 sliders)

For sauce:

4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbl gochujang (Korean chile paste, available at Asian markets or online)

3 tbl dark soy sauce (available at Asian markets)

1 tbl fish sauce

1 tbl brown sugar

1 tbl sesame oil

2-3 tbl rice vinegar

Put all ingredients and two tablespoons of the vinegar in a blender and pulse until ingredients are mixed and ginger and garlic are minced. If sauce seems a little thick, add another tablespoon of vinegar and blend to combine. Place in bowl and set aside.

For chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in two equal pieces each

1 egg

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup masa harina (corn flour)

1 tbl corn starch

Salt and pepper

oil for frying

Heat three inches of oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat until it reaches 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in one bowl mix egg with 1 tbl water and whisk until combined. In another bowl, mix both flours, the cornstarch and generous pinches of salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Dredge chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then the flour mixture, and then again in the egg and then the flour. Fry chicken in batches until light brown and crispy, about 6 or 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let the oil come back to temperature and repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces.

For sliders:

8 small brioche rolls

butter for toasting

dill pickle slices

kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese style mayonnaise – can be found in Asian markets and some supermarkets.)

Spread butter on the sliced brioche rolls, and toast until cut sides are golden brown and toasty. Spread each side generously with kewpie mayonnaise and layer pickle slices on the bottom roll. Dredge fried chicken pieces in sauce until well coated, and place on top of the pickles. Cover with the top of the roll and voila!

Pressed Sandwiches are the best sandwiches…

Perfect picnic food

Perfect picnic food

Sandwiches are perfect.

They are portable, they include bread, the filling can be anything you want, they are usually pretty easy to put together, and in this case, they are made ahead of time, so they are great for adventures or weeknight dinners or bag lunches or picnics. And they are really great for summer.

Sandwiches are perfect. These sandwiches are even perfecter.

I have made these a couple different times, most recently for a fundraising meeting at my house on a Tuesday night. I work later than most of the rest of the ladies, and needed something that I could do ahead of time so I wouldn’t spend the whole meeting cooking instead of, you know, meeting. Plus it was hot as blazes that week, and we needed to be able to stay in the living room with the AC.

These can be done with mostly meat or mostly vegetables. They could be completely vegetarian and would be delicious, and I suppose they could be all meat and cheese, though I think they might be a bit one note done that way. I recently did them with various cured meats, some pesto, some provolone and roasted peppers, and they were great. This version included grilled eggplant and squash, pesto, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and sweet capicola on a really good ciabatta that I can get at a bakery in my neighborhood. Next time I might try tapenade or olive spread of some sort. Maybe another meat or cheese or both. You can really do anything your heart desires, but don’t leave out the pesto, because that might be the best part. All the work is done the day or night before, and then the sandwiches get wrapped up and pressed under bricks in the fridge. All you have to do the day you eat them is slice them up.

Plan a picnic, or a boat ride, or a night a roof deck or even a meeting. Invite your friends. Make these sandwiches. Bask in their thanks and awe. Pack them leftovers if you have them. Bask in their thanks once more. And do it in August. It’s national sandwich month!

What I am thinking about when I am not thinking about food:

1. ALL THE BOOKS. I just finished Canada by Richard Ford. It was beautifully written. I have about eleventy hundred still on my list. The problem is they keep publishing more. Someday I am going to find a job that involves copious reading, cooking food, and writing about stuff. And then I will be happy.

2. I, like the rest of humanity, can’t stop listening to Blurred Lines. This is my new favorite version.

3.  I just spent a week with 50 of the loveliest humans I know. They are fun, funny, smart, musical, kind and generous, and I am lucky that they are also my family. We have good times.

Pressed Sandwiches (makes 8 big sandwiches)

One large loaf ciabatta (two smaller would work just fine too. The ones I get are 16 or 18 inches long and about 8 inches wide. You may not be able to find them that big. Two smaller ones would work just fine!)

three large red peppers

two medium summer squash, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

two medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

one large globe eggplant, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

1 cup of your favorite pesto

12 oz fresh mozzarella sliced in 1/4 inch slices

1/2 lb thinly sliced sweet capicola or prosciutto

olive oil for grilling

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Roast the peppers in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, turning every 15 minutes or so, until the skins are charred and the peppers are soft. Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to steam. Set aside for 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, salt the eggplant slices and let sit on paper towels for 20 minutes or so to remove the bitter liquid. At the same time, heat a grill pan over medium high heat (or an actual grill is even better!) and rub lightly with olive oil. Grill the squash, zucchini, and eggplant when they are finished salting, in batches until cooked through and soft. Set aside.

Remove the roasted peppers from the bowl and peel, stem and seed them. Slice them into wide slices and set aside.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise, and spread the pesto on the bottom half. Layer the cheese over the pesto, followed by a layer of meat. Follow that with the grilled vegetables, then the peppers, then another layer of meat. Put the second piece of bread on top and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Find a spot in the fridge and use bricks, cans or cast iron pans to press the sandwich down overnight.

Slice the day you plan to eat it and enjoy!

layers of goodness

layers of goodness

Indian Butter Chicken

A lot of my earliest memories are food related. I remember sitting down at the dinner table with my dad and my little brother after my dad got home from work. My mom worked at a Hospice at the end of our street a couple evenings a week, and before she left for work in the afternoon, she would make dinner that my dad could put in the oven when he got home. She would make Chicken Tetrazzini or Mac and Cheese or Chicken Divan and we would sit down at the table and instead of saying grace, we would count to three and scream “Good Dinner Mom!” at the top of our lungs, because my brother and I were SURE she could hear us down the street. And the next morning when we would ask if she heard us, she always said yes.

I remember my dad making us Cream of Wheat in the mornings. It was my favorite. He would skip stirring it just enough, so that it would be the perfect amount of lumpy, because I loved it lumpy. On St. Patrick’s Day he would put a drop of food coloring in the bottom of the bowl, so when we stirred it up it would turn green.

I remember my brother burning his top lip on a cookie sheet of hot homemade pretzels, and he had to wear this green vitamin e paste on his top lip for days, so the burn wouldn’t scar.

I remember special chicken, the most delicious, perfect birthday dinner of fried Chinese chicken wings you could ever imagine, which I have never been able to recreate correctly.

I remember lobsters every July for the joint birthday celebration for my mom and dad and their friends. My middle sister and I would get to have a lobster of our own because we would eat anything and everything. The other two would have chicken or hot dogs or something, because they were not very adventurous eaters and had no interest in lobster, which was fine with my parents because two kids with expensive tastes were plenty.

I remember the school lunches my dad always made. Always. Like every day of my life until I graduated from high school. The lunches were epic, the brown bags were always overflowing. He started making me two sandwiches because the boys in high school would hound me for mine until I shared. Bulkie roll, mayo on the bottom, then lettuce, then ham, then American cheese, then tomato then more mayo on the top – the tomato juice and the mayo made the most delicious combo.

I remember my grandparents’ 50th anniversary dinner at their beach club. My dad and my aunt cooked for my grandparents and all their friends. I suspect my mom made dessert. That’s always been her wheelhouse. My cousin and brother and I were the servers. I have a picture of my dad from that night over the sink in my kitchen. Just looking like he’s always looked, and like I picture him. With an apron on, prepping something and smiling.

I don’t remember when my dad took over primary cheffing responsibilities, it was probably gradual, but now when I think of him, it’s always in front of the stove or the cutting board. It might be for that night’s dinner, it might be for the next day’s brunch and it might be for something a week down the road, but that’s where he likes to be. It’s a very good thing. We eat well at my parents’ house.

I also don’t remember when I really started cooking, though I would imagine it was in college. I used to bake in high school, lots and lots and lots of chocolate chip cookies, but cooking came later. My first major event was a sit down, plated engagement lunch for my college roommate junior year. Which was totally insane, if I think about it. I made pork tenderloin, and fried chicken and greens for the people that didn’t eat pork. It was for about 30 people I think. That was the start…I never really looked back. There were epic law school dinners, and lessons for my roommate who would eat anything, and wanted to learn to cook herself. And then I had a big kitchen all to myself, and so there have been Christmas parties for 40 with food for 90, and football Sundays, and lots of brunches and a few catering gigs.

I am never happier than when I am in a kitchen, preferably my own, cooking for people I love. I love the feeling of providing for people, for nourishing them, for making them happy and, if we’re being honest, the kick in the ego I get when people enjoy it. I feel good when I am cooking, in part because I think I am pretty good at it, but mostly because it is the surest way I know how to tell people I love them. And this, more than anything, is the part of my cooking that I got from my dad. It is how we are most alike and it what I am most thankful to share with him. (If you are wondering, this does NOT translate into us cooking well together, which is mostly on me, because if he’s the sous chef he can’t help futzing and adjusting and perfecting whatever is in the works – as all good sous do – AND I DON’T LIKE PEOPLE TOUCHING MY STUFF. And I’m nobody’s sous-chef. So you see how this is a problem. (That kind of obnoxious behavior is how I’m LEAST like my dad, BTDubs…))

All of this is basically just to say Happy Father’s Day, a couple of days late and plenty of dollars short, of course, to a dad who continues to teach me and my sibs what it means to love and be loved. And who makes one hell of a frittata…

Killer 'stache.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend

———-

And now, a confession. I am losing my mind. I posted the last installment, and promptly realized I ALREADY HAVE A CARBONARA RECIPE ON HERE. I am THE WORST. And then I took eleventy months off. So I am making it up to you by posting THIS recipe. Because it is delicious. It should make up for all manner of sins, it is that good. I actually made it a couple of months back, and have been meaning to share it with you since, but then time got away from me (have you heard that before?)

Don't mind the fabric cutting mat...that's just how I roll

Murgh Makhani

I have wanted to make Butter Chicken since the first time I heard the words. It has butter in the name – I’m an easy sell. When I found out it is kind of  a buttery version of Chicken Tikka Masala, my need to make it got more urgent. I looked around and found a recipe by Floyd Cardoz, who I really enjoyed on Top Chef Masters. The recipe looked like it had perhaps a few more steps than some of the others, but still wasn’t particularly difficult. The extra step is straining, and while it may also be delicious without that step, the sauce that results from it is so silky and creamy, I can’t imagine not doing it.

This Butter Chicken is cumbersome only in that you need to start a day or two before you plan to eat it. I marinate the chicken on day one, cook it on day two, and make the sauce and eat on day three. Each day requires about a half hour’s worth of work, if that, and day two and three could easily just be done the same day. It can be a weeknight meal for sure.

The first step is marinating the chicken, and it should be done a day before you cook it. The marinade is garlic, ginger, jalepeno, lime juice and yogurt with garam masala and paprika. I used skinless boneless chicken thighs because I like the flavor of the dark meat. Marinate the chicken overnight.

Step two is broiling or grilling the chicken until it is cooked through and slightly charred. This can be done the day before or the day of dinner.

Step three is the sauce. Onion, tomato, more garlic and ginger, another jalepeno and butter. This gets simmered down for about a half hour, then pureed and strained. It’s finished with cinnamon, honey, fenugreek leaves and cream. Apparently fenugreek is THE thing that makes Butter Chicken, Butter Chicken, but I have a secret…I can’t find it, so I haven’t used it either time. This was still delicious. Someday I am going to find it and add it, and I suspect my mind will be blown.

It sounds like a lot, or like it might be time consuming, but it really isn’t, it just needs a little foresight. And the results are amazing. The sauce is so smooth and flavorful and great.

Thanks Floyd!

Heaven

Just because I haven’t been around here doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking and eating – I wouldn’t want you to worry that I have been hungry for four months.

I have had pizza

pizzapizzapizzapizza

mushroom, onion, black olive…doesn’t get better.

Softshell Crabs

getinmybelly

with Israeli couscous, garlic scape pesto and tomatoes

Chicken Stir-fry

quick and easy quick and easy

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

More chicken of the sticky soy variety

Honey Soy Chicken Legs

Honey Soy Chicken Legs

Somen noodle bowls

Tofu, what?

healthy AND delicious

and lobsters, among other things…

You were delicious

Hello little buddy!

I have also been cooking for others quite a bit. I’ve had a couple of catering jobs, a personal chef gig, and LOTS of baking for office birthdays. Exciting stuff!

In other thoughts:

1.) I needed a distraction this past weekend. I decided on CandyCrush, which may have been a huge mistake. I mean, it was a GREAT distraction, incredibly effective, but now I JUST. CAN’T. STOP. I am really concerned for my future. I thought level 33 was going to kill me dead.

2.) Netflix and Hulu Plus are the greatest and the worst. I am SO EASILY DISTRACTED.

3.) It seems to finally be summer here. It took forever to get here, but the weather has been glorious for the past week. Thank goodness.

4.) It is very nice to live in a place where there is almost always a team in contention, it makes things fun. GO B’s!!

5.) What I am listening to: Josh Ritter’s The Beast in Its Tracks. This album is great. I was listening to it for the second or third time, and bopping along and started actually listening to the words…yikes. Dark. JRitt went through a divorce a couple of years ago, and clearly it sparked his creative juices. All is well though, because I saw him in concert about a month ago, and it was the happiest, giddiest most joyful I have ever seen a performer on stage, so it seems like he’s bounced back.

6.) What I am reading: Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers

7.) I am making an Olive Oil Cake for the wedding reception of one of my oldest friends this weekend. I can’t wait to celebrate with her and then tell you about the cake, because it is pretty tasty.

And now, for the main event. Hopefully I will see you all back here again soon!!!

Indian Butter Chicken (serves 4-6)

From Floyd Cardoz and Serious Eats

4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbls minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 tbls juice from 3 limes
3 tbls neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)
1 tbl kosher salt
3 tbls paprika
1 tbl garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups yogurt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
 
2 (28 oz.) cans roasted tomatoes
2 cups water
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tbls fresh minced ginger
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
8 tbls (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Kosher salt
3 tbls honey
3 tbls fenugreek leaves, toasted and crushed
1 tbl black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream, to taste
 

For Chicken: In a food processor, combine garlic, ginger, chili, lime juice, oil, salt, and spices. Process to a paste, then add yogurt and process until smooth. Transfer to a large zip top bag or tupperware and add chicken. Marinate 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

Set broiler rack 4 inches from heat source and preheat broiler to high (or feel free to grill these!). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove chicken from zipper lock bag and wipe off excess marinade. Lay out in a single layer on baking sheet and broil until color darkens and some dark blisters form, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken, rotate sheet pan, and broil until color darkens on other side, about 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice until chicken is cooked through, and there is some dark char on each piece. This takes me 12-15 minutes.

For sauce: In a large, heavy pot, combine tomatoes, water, onion, garlic, ginger, chili, butter, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered at a hard simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens to about 2 1/2 quarts, about 30 minutes.

Transfer 1/3 of sauce to jar of a blender. Starting with low speed, gradually increase to high. Blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean large saucepan. Repeat with remaining two batches sauce. Keep sauce warm over low heat and stir in fenugreek, black pepper, honey, and cream to taste. Season with salt to taste, then chop chicken  into bite-size pieces and add to sauce. Serve with rice and a garnish of julienned ginger.

Stocking up for the New Year…Chicken, Beef and Vegetable Stock

Essentials for the new year...

Essentials for the new year…

Hola nerds!

How I have missed you! It has been a busy fall and winter, blah blah blah, excuses, blah, blah, travel, blah, unitentional hiatus…

Now that I have cleared that up, what’s new with you? I hope all has been well!

My brother recently said that I needed to post something asap, because he was really tired of looking at wings. I did not know that my brother was actually visiting the blog, but since he is, I certainly don’t want to cause fatigue and lose him as a reader, so here I am with a new post. This may not actually be what he had in mind, but beggars can’t be choosers.

This one is really more about technique, as there are myriad ways to make stock and pretty much all of them have already been documented on the interwebs, so instead of considering this a recipe, consider it a friendly reminder/suggestion. Make stock, put it in the freezer, use it until you run out, make stock again. Repeat ad infinitum. The work involved is minimal and the payoff is HUGE. The flavor is better than what you get in the store, your house will smell good while you make it, and people will be impressed. Actually, those three reasons pretty much make up the sum total of my rationale for cooking at all…

I value my “stock”pile (ahahahaha) so much that it is the only frozen item that made the move to my new place with me. I make the stock and let it cool and then measure two cup quantities in to quart-sized ziploc bags. Then each stock bag goes into a second ziploc bag to prevent freezer burn. Label with the type of stock, the quantity and the date, and there you go. This is not the most environmentally friendly storage method, but it is the best storage method, and if you label the INSIDE bag, you can use the outside bag again. (Label the bag before you add the stock. This is probably obvious to most, but in case it’s not, take it from me…) (Also, I know you are looking at the photo and saying “but Meghan, those don’t look like ziploc bags…” and you would be correct, but ziploc bags don’t photograph particularly well, so I dirtied some extra dishes for you. You are welcome…) Freezer bags are the best storage because they can be laid flat and stacked on top of each other in the freezer to maximize space. Two cups is a good amount because if you are making soup or risotto, two bags will typically do the trick, and if you need less than that, you will likely be able to use the rest of what you defrosted without it getting lost in the back of your refrigerator for many moons and going to waste…though maybe that kind of thing never happens to you, in which case, carry on.

the beginnings of beef stock

the beginnings of beef stock

Stock is pretty much the same regardless of type – the main ingredients, the aromatics and water get simmered together for enough time that the water becomes rich flavorful stock rather than boring, flavorless water. Which aromatics and vegetables you choose can depend on the stock you are making, but for the most part, if you have the holy trinity of cooking: onions, carrots and celery, and perhaps some garlic and herbs, you have what it takes. For chicken stock I like to make sure I add thyme, bay leaves, lots of peppercorns and, sometimes, ginger, to brighten it up. For lobster stock I like to add fennel and some tomato paste because they are so suited to lobster, and for vegetable stock I like to add mushrooms, because they deepen the flavor and add the umami-ness that is important when you aren’t including meat. The rules are the same: bring everything to a gentle boil, then reduce the temperature and let the goodness simmer for a couple hours until it’s stock. In the case of beef stock, you want to avoid boiling at all – you just want to bring it to and keep it at a simmer instead – but otherwise, the process is the same.

Make stock my darlings, if you’ve never done it before, it will revolutionize your cooking.

In other news…my 10 things:

I don’t like asking for things, but this one’s for Shania – I am so lucky to call her my homie: http://www.fundraiseforbcrf.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1021963&team=5354081

BostonGLOW: an amazing organization that I am proud to be a part of…small now, but I’m certain it won’t be small for long…

My album of the moment is really not an album at all, just a playlist of ridiculous Top 40 amazingness.

What I am reading: I just finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Amazing and heartbreaking.

I want Tina and Amy to be my best friends. http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/2013-golden-globes/tina-fey-amy-poehler-dazzle-hilarious-golden-globes-014640389.html

Pitch Perfect might be my new favorite movie. Best. Ever.

I guess I have to root for the 49ers in the Super Bowl? Not how I hoped that would go.

Resolutions are tricky, so I am setting goals instead. Because those will totally be easier. Financial, Work, Personal, Fitness, B&G, they’re all covered…we’ll see how it goes. Happy New Year!

It’s the beginning of free week at the casa! If you are new around here, free week is when I decide not to buy any groceries, and just fashion dinners out of what I have in the house. I did cheat and buy eggs today, but I figured that didn’t count, because you can practically buy eggs with pocket change. The menu for free week includes: Penne with fennel, tomatoes and olives inspired by this, cowboy beans from here, spaghetti carbonara (I think I might have figured out how to make this work every time! I will share) meatloaf, soy sesame noodles and sweet pea ravioli with pecorino romano. As you can see, it was high time for a free week. It will not be much of a sacrifice.

I guess that was only nine things…until next time, my lovelies…

Here’s to 2013. I have high hopes.

Be good to one another.

And to the recipes we go…

Beef Stock

Vegetable Stock

Basic Chicken Stock (makes about 3 quarts)

4-5 lbs chicken wings

2 medium onions, quartered

2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, peeled and roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic, unpeeled

Handful of fresh parsley

2 dried bay leaves

1 tsp peppercorns

Add all ingredients to a large pot with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for two or two and a half hours. Strain the stock through cheese cloth, and store for future use.

Feel free to add leeks if you have them, ginger if you would like to add a little zip and bright flavor or thyme if you want a more herby flavor.

Buffalo Wings for Football Sunday

It’s really fall. I’m sleeping with blankets, wearing boots to the grocery store, listening the college kids partying into the wee hours and making wings for a football Sunday.

a football classic

…At least the wings were successful.

I’m just going to chalk that Pats performance up to a show of solidarity for that smoking wreckage of a baseball team we have up here right now, and figure we’ll all be moving on next week.

***

Buffalo wings are delicious. And actually pretty easy to make. Ingredients are minimal: hot sauce, butter or margarine, and chicken. I like to add a little salt, pepper and cayenne also. You can technically bake these, and I have. They are fine, and they still taste like buffalo wings, but I’m not going to lie, deep-frying them is better. A bit more work, but not much, and worth it I think. Yep, they are more unhealthy, but we are talking about a recipe in which one of the primary ingredients is butter or margarine, so let’s go all in, shall we?

I have made these for years with butter, but I was just reading the most recent Saveur, and apparently, the original recipe – like the Anchor Bar in Buffalo original recipe – used margarine. Which makes sense, since these were invented in the 60′s. I used margarine today to see if it made a difference, and I am not sure if it does, and since margarine is pretty much poison, I will probably stick to butter in the future. But I did come up with another trick. I tossed the wings in just a little corn starch before I fried them. It doesn’t really make a huge difference in the crispiness, but it gives the sauce something to stick to, so it’s a win!

crisp fried and delicious

Wings are a crowd pleaser. They are messy as anything, but that is half the fun. Obviously, blue cheese dressing is a requirement, and it’s always nice to add celery and carrots for health. And just like that, you can skip the bars and strangers and have delicious wings at home! (If you are like me, this is a dream come true.)

Sunday Funday

Buffalo Wings (makes two dozen wings)

24 chicken wing pieces (from twelve wings, separated, tips removed)

1/4 cups corn starch

3/4 cups hot sauce, like Franks

3/4 cups (1.5 sticks) butter or margarine

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

salt and pepper

Peanut or canola oil (or a combination) for frying

Blue cheese dressing (recipe below) celery and carrots for serving

Heat several inches of oil in a dutch oven or other heavy pot to 350 degrees. Toss the wings with the corn starch and salt and pepper. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, shake off the extra corn starch and add half the wings and fry until crispy and cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. When finished cooking, remove the first batch from the oil and drain on paper towels. Let the oil come back to 350 degrees and add the second batch of wings.

In the meantime, cook the hot sauce, butter, cayenne, salt and pepper over low heat until the butter melts. Keep mixture warm over low heat until the wings are finished cooking. Toss the wings in the hot sauce mixture and serve with blue cheese dressing and carrots and celery for dipping.

If you want to bake these, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and toss the wings in half the hot sauce mixture. Lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes until the wings the cooked through. Toss with the rest of the hot sauce mixture and serve.

Blue Cheese Dressing (makes about 1 1/4 cups)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 tbl white wine vinegar

Splash of red wine vinegar

4 oz blue cheese crumbles

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine sour cream, buttermilk, vinegars, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add blue cheese and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

A Soufflé for Julia

for one…

I am, as always, behind the eight ball on this one. Julia Child would have been 100 last month. She was remarkable and funny and talented and tall. And she seemed like a joy to be around. She came to the cooking game “late” in life, after spending time over seas as a SPY. That is awesome. I always wanted to be a spy. Or a fighter pilot, or an astronaut. I didn’t quite get there. I do real estate now though, so…close. But maybe I can still follow in Julia’s footsteps someday. Have a second career in food. That seems more manageable (says the girl that can’t even maintain a blog with any regularity. Or figure out how to add an accent to an “e” on a Mac.)

At any rate, I made a soufflé for Julia’s birthday. I also made one a couple days later, just for the hell of it, when Meredith and Baby M came to visit me on M’s first big city adventure, because they are delicious. The good thing about that is I made an individual one, AND a full size one, so I can share the recipes for both of them with you. So if you are chillin by yourself and craving soufflé, as one does, don’t despair! It can be done.

For the full-sized soufflé I turned, of course, to Mastering the Art of French Cooking because where else would you turn? That book is perfect. For the single serving, I turned to Judith Jones, and her book The Pleasure of Cooking for One. Judith, as you might know, was Julia’s editor for MTAOFC, so it was an appropriate birthday tribute.

The way people speak about soufflés, you would think they were these super sensitive explosive devices that detonate the moment you don’t fold egg whites correctly or look at them the wrong way while they are cooking. They are not. They are actually mostly hot air. Since air pressure increases when it is hot and decreases when it is cold (science!!!) soufflés love to puff up really beautifully when they are in the oven, and then deflate pretty much immediately when it is removed from the oven, so you want to make sure you get the most puff for your buck when it is cooking, and have the table set and your guests sitting down and ready to eat by the time it’s finished.

for a crowd

This is also the reason you will have to excuse the photographs, the more I took and the more time I took to set each one up, the more the soufflé deflated, so they are not looking super puffy. I also think in the case of the big one, I could have cooked it for 4-5 more minutes so it set up a little firmer, which would have helped it keep its puff, but since there was a 6-week old baby to hang out with, I got distracted and forgot how many minutes I had put on the timer and didn’t want to overcook it. (I would have made a really terrible spy. Foiled at every turn by babies and kitchen timers.)

But really, soufflés are actually pretty easy, especially after you’ve done it once or twice. And there is a good chance you have everything you need in the house at any given time. Eggs, milk, butter, flour, cheese. That’s it. A standing or hand held mixer is certainly helpful, but I whipped the egg whites by hand for one of these and it worked out just fine! Soufflés for everyone! Go forth and impress yourself and your guests!

So many thoughts…

It’s the fall guys! I love the fall! The cooking is so good, and the weather is so great. What should I make? And football! And new tv is back. Have you guys watched Homeland? It is so very good. You should watch it.

This is terrible news…Ry! How could you? No, jk jk. Good luck you crazy kids.

This made me inappropriately sad, considering I have never met them.

Bought my ticket to the west coast for Thanksgiving and I cannot wait. It’s been too long.

What I’m reading: Zone One by Colson Whitehead. It’s a post-apocalyptic zombie book. Post-apocalyptic books might actually be last on my list of genres I’m interested in but the writing is pretty much perfect. I am very glad I gave it a try.

What I am listening to: Miles Away from Sam McCarthy – Short and sweet, and fantastic; and The Wheeler Brothers – my sister studied in Spain with one of the guys in the group, and they are great.

Craftiness of the week: I’m working on pillow covers for my living room pillows. Pictures to follow.

If you get a minute, this is pretty amazing and heartbreaking.

Other things I’ve been eating:

zucchini linguine

You will see that one again, the recipe is a work in progress…I’ll keep you posted.

mexican corn

This you will be seeing again. Probably like tomorrow, because it is JUST SO GOOD. You need to make it. I will share post haste.

fideos with aioli

I just found my new comfort food people. Fideos are kind of like a pasta version of paella.

Be good to each other.

I am just going to go ahead and get to the recipes, because if I don’t this post might sit around another month and that would be the worst…

Cheese Soufflé according to Julia

For Four:

1 tbl butter, softened (for preparing the mold)

1-2 tbl grated parmesan cheese (for preparing the mold)

3 tbl butter

3 tbl flour

1 cup milk, brought to a boil

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

A pinch of cayenne pepper

5 eggs, separated (you will need four yolks and all five whites)

3/4 cup grated swiss cheese (or gruyere if you’re fancy)

For One:

1 tsp butter, softened for preparing the mold

1 tbl grated parmesan for preparing the mold

2 tsp butter

1 tbl flour

1/3 cup milk brought to a boil

pinch of salt

small pinch of cayenne

2 eggs, separated (you will need one yolk and both whites)

1/3 cup grated swiss cheese (another option is to use “an aged mountain cheese.” I…have no idea what that is, but if you find it, feel free to give it a whirl!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. For the large soufflé, prepare a six or eight cup soufflé dish with the melted butter and sprinkle with the parmesan, for an individual soufflé, prepare a 1.5 cup ramekin with the butter and parmesan. (The butter keeps the soufflé from sticking, the cheese gives the batter something to climb as it rises.)

Set aside. Melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the flour. Stir for a minute or two until it foams. Remove from heat and whisk in the boiling milk. Return the pan to the heat and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Season with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks.

Beat the egg whites with a mixer or a wire whisk until stiff peaks form. Add about a quarter of the beaten egg whites to the egg yolk mixture with the grated cheese, and mix. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently, and transfer the mixture to the prepared mold.

Put the soufflé in on the middle rack of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake the small soufflé for 18-20 minutes and large soufflé for 25-30 minutes until the soufflé has puffed up an inch or two over the top of the dish. The top will be golden brown. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the soufflé is firm, remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Chicken Tinga Tacos…one of my new favorites

You guys are going to love me for this...

I’m sick again. I may have discovered the kink in my plan to be a person that sleeps less and accomplishes more. All I want to do is lay around, drink smoothies and eat chicken soup. This is on the stove as I type. I’m hoping that by virtue of the almost insane amount of ginger in there, I might actually be able to smell and taste it when it’s finished. It would be about the only thing.

Perhaps my most favorite recent discovery, Chicken Tinga Tacos will likely be in the rotation for some time. I spotted these in the pages of Food & Wine, and may have skipped right over them, but for a recent celebration of Taco Tuesday with the gals at La Verdad, where the Chicken Tingas were our favorite tacos of the evening.

From my very scientific web searches on the topic, it appears Tinga is a stew of braised chicken, pork or beef, with tomatoes, onions, garlic and chipotles in adobo. Which is good, because that’s what it is in this recipe, so it appears we’re on the right track. A couple of the recipes I saw also called for Mexican chorizo (definitely different than Spanish chorizo, if you are reading a recipe that specifies you definitely want to get the right one, Spanish chorizo has the very distinctly flavored Pimenton in the mix, Mexican chorizo uses chile peppers.) I am sure that would also be quite delicious.

This recipe calls for chipotles in adobo. I have mentioned them before for the Chilequiles, and when I finally get a B&G Pantry page together for your viewing pleasure they will definitely be on it. They are spicy and smoky and add a ton of flavor and background smoke and some excellent heat to things. They are also potent. A little goes a long way. I am guessing you can find them in most grocery stores. Whole Foods carries them, and any market with a decent international section probably does too. (I wonder if my dad can get them? I think yes, even in good old small town CT he can find them, so it is looking good for the rest of you.)  They last pretty much forever in the fridge so don’t be afraid to buy a can or two if you see them. They look so innocuous, but they are spicy. Chipotles are, after all, smoke dried jalapeños, and the seeds are still in there.

This would be a great dinner during the week, it only takes about an hour, and better yet, I think the Tinga would only get better with time, though I can’t say I’ve had many leftovers to test this theory. There is also something that feels very Sunday about it, probably the braising part, even though it is a short braise. It also would be great game day food, and easy for a group. I served it the first time with a combo of hard shells* and soft shells – the hard shells won the day – and it would also be great as a tostada topping, or for nachos, or probably on a roll of some sort like pulled pork. And also just with a fork. Or any spare tortilla chips you might have hanging around. (*Do me a favor next time you are making tacos of any kind, heat some oil in a frying pan ¼ – ½ inch, I’d say, fry corn tortillas until they start to get just a bit stiff, then fold them over so they are taco shell-like and fry for another minute until they are just barely brown and crispy, but not stiff and shatter-y like those gross ones you buy in a box. Truly, it makes a world of difference and takes very little work.)

someday we'll talk about that corn...

There are really only a couple of steps. First you brown the chicken thighs in a little oil, then take the chicken out and add some sliced onion. Let it soften and brown a little, then add the garlic, cook for a minute longer, and then add the tomatoes, chipotles in adobo and chicken stock. This combo simmers for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off for a couple minutes and let it cool slightly, then puree it in a blender, add it back to the pan and add the chicken back in.

pureed

Simmer for another 20-30 minutes and voila! Shred the chicken and you are ready to serve.

shredded

I serve mine with corn tortillas, either fried into hard shells or just warmed in foil in the oven. Cotija cheese is a must, and I like avocado and something pickled too, radishes or red onion. And finish it with a squeeze of lime.

toppings

Hold UP. I think, I THINK I just saw a commercial for TGI Fridays that involved allusions to romance and cute bartenders. Is Fridays a martini bar now? With an app and entree combo for $10? When did that happen?

Is there ANOTHER GOP debate tonight? Are there more debates this primary season than ever before? Doesn’t it seem that way?

I am trying to turn over a new leaf in 2012. I am trying not to let people annoy me for no reason. It’s their life, and if they want to jump around like a fool like the Sweaty McHeadband in my kickboxing class, or kill themselves with cancer sticks like half the people I get stuck behind walking to work, that’s their problem, not mine. It means I will be putting the next blog I wanted to start, peopleiwanttopunchintheface.wordpress.com on the back burner for the time being. Here’s to new beginnings!

I’ve gotten locked in my bathroom twice in the last week. I thought I was going to waste away on the floor of the smallest bathroom in the world. It was terrifying so I took the doorknob off. Now there is no doorknob, but also no chance of getting locked in there. Probably time to talk to the landlord.

I am currently obsessed with Ryan Adams’ “Easy Tiger.”

I am reading The Line of Beauty, and am having difficulty getting into it, but that is probably because I don’t get in bed to read until about 11pm and one of my eyes is already pretty much shut from exhaustion.

This is awesome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9NF2edxy-M

So is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9-sEbqDvU and this (even better): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta9K22D0o5Q&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

And now, please enjoy your Tinga…

Chicken Tinga Tacos (serves 6-8, probably with leftovers)

adapted from Food & Wine

1/4 cup plus 2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/2 lbs trimmed, skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 large garlic cloves, minced

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 canned chipotles in adobo, coarsely chopped

1 cup chicken broth

24 corn tortillas

Cotija cheese, avocado, pickled onions, slaw or toppings of your choice

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 12 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and pour off the fat.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and then add the onion. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned and softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the chipotles and the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, 20 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a food processor and let cool for 15 minutes. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Add the sauce back to the pan and add the chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Simmer the sauce and chicken over medium low heat until the meat is tender and the sauce is very thick and darkened around the edges. Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven for about 10 minutes or fry into hard shells.

Shred the meat, spoon about 3 tablespoons of chicken onto each tortilla and sprinkle with the crumbled cheese and toppings of your choice.

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Fall Project: Bacon!

Bacon. Homemade!

Hello my little jellybeans…I have missed you so. It has been crazy around here! Since we have spoken last, the following things have happened:

I have been to CT for a baby shower during a hurricane.

I have started class every Monday night with some colleagues.

I have been to Virginia for a wedding.

I have been to NY for a surprise party.

I ate pig eyeball. I also ate pig brain on a cracker.

I have been hanging out with my new best friend Baby L.

I rediscovered my love for cereal. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal? But trust me, it’s huge, and kind of problematic. I am now remembering why I don’t keep cereal and milk around all the time. I could eat cereal three meals a day and not get tired of it. Rice Krispies with banana? Raisin Bran? (Kellogg’s. Obv.) Fruity Pebbles? Cap’n Crunch? Kix? I LOVE it. Love. It tends to limit the amount of cooking I do. It also does not include vegetables, so there are serious nutritional holes in the all cereal diet. But so good!

I have been doing new fun stuff at work.

Another baby was born into the family! Welcome Baby Dubs!

I joined the gym again! (Incidentally, took a class this weekend that has rendered me practically immobile. So. Much. Pain. Good pain?)

I finished watching “Friday Night Lights.” That show is AMAZING. I want to go back to the beginning and watch again. Seriously. Amazing.

The following things DID NOT happen:

Much cooking of any kind. A little bit here and there, I guess, but not much. I made some classics and repeats, and supplemented with much takeout, no real adventures.

But it’s fall! Football season! The perfect time for cooking! I feel my groove coming back. Yesterday I made ricotta, and might make some gnocchi later. I also made some tomato soup. I am excited about trying puff pastry, because all butter puff pastry is expensive, and the ingredients for all butter puff pastry are not, so I figured I might as well give it a try. I have a bunch of chicken in the freezer and a bunch of weeknight chicken recipes to try. I have some more projects for these upcoming months…bread, noodles, sausage, duck confit. Lots of plans.

But now, to what you are here for. If you recall, I made bacon awhile back. Every time I have mentioned that, some smart ass has asked if I slaughtered a pig. I did not. I am not allowed to raise pigs in my apartment, my landlord has allergies.

Lucky for me, Whole Foods sells lovely, large pork bellies for just such a purpose, so I got one there and we were off.

Making bacon is perhaps the easiest project ever. It requires almost no work. It takes a little bit of effort to track down the required ingredients, and then it takes about 10 minutes to put together. That’s it. You let it sit for a week in the fridge, and every night when you get home from work, you try to remember to flip the belly over. Literally, that is pretty much all there is to it. Once it has cured for a week you cook it in a low oven or smoke it until the internal temperature is 150 degrees, and voila…bacon! Delicious, porky, flavorful homemade bacon. So fun!

You need pink salt for making bacon. It contains nitrates, which kill bacteria and keep bacon that charming reddish/pink color instead of turning gray like most pork that you cook until well done. They have been vilified, but for no real reason, it seems, since they are not bad for you in the doses you find in cured meats. Plus, though curing bacon to bacteria free levels can be done without it, the risk of poorly cured meats is not something I like to mess with, so I am decidedly pro-nitrate. Gimme an N! Gimme an I! To give credit to the anti-nitrates out there, they ARE poisonous if you ingest too much. And a teaspoon on its own is too much, so keep away from the kids. Also any adults that confuse tablespoons and teaspoons. No one said curing meat wasn’t a job for a responsible adult. As with all things bacteria, you must be careful.

A good basic dry cure is salt, sugar and pink salt. The rest is just gravy. I followed the instructions of Michael Ruhlman, because his post on the subject was what got me wanting to do this in the first place. But I like the idea of including mustard, because I bet that’d be good. I will be doing this again, and stat. Seriously, do it with me. It is so easy. And very impressive. I made bacon!

As it was in the beginning…

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 6

Day 8 - looks like the real thing!

To keep you updated on things around here…

What I am currently reading: A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. It is about Commercial Real Estate, and set in Atlanta. Both of these things are wildly relevant to my current job, so I am very much enjoying it.

What I am currently listening to: A lot of playlists. I’ve got a good mellow one, a good regular one, and a good upbeat one for the gym. And A LOT of cheesy pop (see: gym.) Also Otis Redding. There is nothing better than Otis Redding. Except for when I am listening to it through my iTunes and my Otis Redding is followed by Phoebe Snow. Phoebe Snow! SO good.

Home Cured Bacon

1 5lb piece of pork belly, skin removed.

2 ounces (1/4 cup Morton or Diamond Crystal coarse kosher) salt

2 tsp pink curing salt #1

4 tbl coarsely ground black pepper

4 bay leaves, crumbled

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup brown sugar or honey or maple syrup (I used brown sugar)

5 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife

5 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

Find a large bag that will hold a 5lb pork belly flat. The 2 gallon Ziploc bags are perfect for this. Mix all of the ingredients for the rub together in a bowl (that would be everything but the belly.) Stick the belly in the bag, and then rub well with the dry cure. Make sure you get it all on there and press it into the meat as best you can. Seal the bag and put in on a baking sheet and stick it in the fridge. Flip the bag every 24 hours or so.

After a week, preheat the oven to 200 degrees (or better yet, get your charcoal grill fired up to smoke it.) Remove the belly from the bag, rinse it under cold water and pat dry. Place on a rack on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven or smoke on the grill for an hour and a half, or until the internal temperature of the belly is 150 degrees. Remove from the oven, marvel at your creation and give yourself a big old pat on the back. You made bacon! You are like a straight up pioneer or something!


Pulled Pork and Slaw for Five or Thirty-seven…

pulled pork with dad's slaw

Pulled pork confuses me a little because from a cooking standpoint, if you are without a grill, this is a wintery food. The cooking is low and slow (overnight at about 275, which is as low as my oven goes) and the result is fall off the bone goodness that feels like a braise. But the result is all summer-barbecue-potluck-outside-hanging out to me. It tastes like summer, goes well with summer sides, and has kind of a 4th of July feel. So I guess really, make sure you have an air conditioner, so it doesn’t matter that it’s 85 degrees in the house when you have the oven on all night, or just stick to winter. Which ever best suits your fancy.

I’ve made this twice this summer. Once with my cousins for the cousin dinner on our family vaca (four boston butt roasts for 37 adults) and once recently, because my brother was in town and I figured he’d like it (just one smallish one for five adults, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to have enough.) Also because I didn’t take pictures of it the first go round, and I wanted to tell you all about it, so I needed to make it again. Both times I had some leftovers, and both times I made hash with them. Bonus.

Pulled pork is served in a couple of different ways, and I THINK I know which one I like better, but I suppose I could change my mind at any time. You will see it served with a sweet/spicy barbecue sauce finish, or you will see in served North Carolina style, which is a vinegar sauce finish. On the vacation I finished two of the roasts with barbecue sauce, and two of them with vinegar sauce. The second time, I went just with the vinegar. It is just so good that way. Maybe because sweet, sticky barbecue sauce has never been my favorite condiment? Not sure, but North Carolina style is the one for me. I think.

Pulled pork is really so easy, which is why I thought about it for the cousins’ dinner in the first place. I knew we could put the rub on it and cook it over night, come up with some sides that could be done mostly ahead of time (we came up with meat beans…oh meat beans, so good. I think normal people call them campfire beans, but really, meat beans is a more apt description, since there was no campfire but lots of meat…they are for another post, when my cousin sends me the recipe) throw together the slaw, and still spend the day at the beach, which was the point of the vacation, after all.

When I was originally looking for a recipe for pulled pork, I called the expert, and Pops mentioned that he used the Chris Schlesinger rub from his grilling cookbook. Chris Schlesinger owns a fantastic barbecue place up here that is so delicious, so I figured it would be tasty, plus, my cousin used to work there before we lost her to the far reaches of the Florida beaches, and I figured she would appreciate it too. It got such a great reception at the reunion, I didn’t change much up the second time, except I added a brine, because I felt like it.

The rub does not mess around. It is spicy. I was nervous it was too spicy when they first came out of the oven, but with the sauce and the slaw and the buns it does just fine, and the spice holds up nicely. It’s basically equal parts salt, sugar, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder and pepper, and then half as much cayenne and twice as much paprika. Tons of flavor.

The brine was pretty standard, water, salt, sugar, spices, but honestly, I am not sure it made a huge difference.

brining

The meat went into the brine and into the fridge for 24 hours. The next night I went out after work and stayed out a good bit later than I anticipated. When I got home I rinsed off the roast, rubbed it vigorously with the spice rub, and threw it in a pan in the oven as low as it could go, and went to sleep. I woke up, got ready for work, and it still wasn’t quite done, so I had to make a quick run home a few hours into the work day to take it out of the oven, but it was all ok! Totally worth it. The pork comes right off the bone and shreds and the fat melts into it and it is all just so good. The nicest part about this is that you can turn it into a meal that is fairly quick to pull together and serve if you are having company, because even though it requires a lot of hours, it doesn’t require a lot of hours of actual work, and all the prep can be done ahead of time. My fam was coming over for dinner that night after work, my brother and his gf were in town, and I was able to easily make a basic slaw, add the vinegar sauce to finish, reheat the meat, and put together the rest of the sides (in this case, fried corn (a revelation, but not exactly haute cuisine…open and drain a can of Keebler’s Niblets corn. Saute three pieces of bacon, crumble bacon, add corn to frying pan with bacon fat, fry until delicious, add crumbled bacon back in. Serve.) and baked beans (in this case, open a large can of B&M. Pour into a pan. Add ketchup and mustard. Serve. Doesn’t make me proud, but they sure taste good)) and it feels like a quick weekday meal. The meat is spicy for sure, but the slaw and the rolls balance it out so well. The slaw that I like is a basic vinegar based slaw, not a creamy one. I love me some creamy slaws, but this one is nice, feels light, is a little sweet, and is good as a side on its own too. It gets rave reviews. I can’t figure it out, because there really is almost nothing to it. But it’s a hit. I think it’s all the sugar.

mmmmmmm...

The boys, the girls and the moms-to-be were all pleased with this. Lots of clean plates in the group of 37 and the gang of 5. And, in both occasions, I used the leftovers to make hash. One of these days, I will tell you about hash, because it is easy and great for a crowd, uses leftovers and could be done the night before or the morning of. And it’s pretty…

leftovers for breakfast.

Pulled pork is a fun treat. It feels indulgent and like it took work. It is a crowd pleaser and it makes for very tasty leftovers.

Before I get to the recipes, I want to give a little hint as to the nature of my August project…

makin bacon…

That was actually a big hint, and if you follow B&G on Twitter (@bandgmeg) or Facebook, you already know this, but I am pretty excited…it is day five and it is looking pretty good…full report to follow, of course.

What I am listening to these days: Josh Ritter The Animal Years pretty much blows my mind every time I hear it, my running mix is pretty pimp, and Toots & the Maytals is the perfect summer soundtrack…

What I am reading these days: Just finished The Hunger Games trilogy. That is some DARK young adult fiction, currently reading Kitchen Confidential which is making me simultaneously miss working in restaurants and wonder how I possibly survived, AND, I just restarted my subscription to the Sunday Times. Nothing makes me happier than waking up in the morning and having that outside waiting for me.

Hey, did you guys know it’s almost time for football? Guess what is perfect for football?! Pulled pork! Get to it!

pulled pork and slaw

North Carolina Pulled Pork (serves 6-8)

thanks to Chris Schlesinger for the recipe

1 7-8 lb bone in Boston Butt pork roast or shoulder

Hamburger buns for serving

For rub:

2 tbl kosher salt

2 tbl sugar

2 tbl brown sugar

2 tbl cumin

2 tbl chili powder

2 tbl black pepper

1 tbl cayenne pepper

4 tbl paprika

For vinegar sauce:

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup cider vinegar

1 tbl sugar

1 tbl red pepper flakes

1 tbl hot sauce

salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the sugar and spices for the rub together and stir to blend. Place the roast, fatty side up, in a large roasting pan, and rub spice mixture onto roast, coating it well, and massaging into the meat. Place the roast into a low oven (250-275 degrees) for 8-10 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. The meat should be falling off the bone and easy to shred. If the rub on the outside of the roast starts to get too dark or crisp during the roasting, cover the meat with foil and continue until done.

Mix the vinegars, sugar, spices and hot sauce together and set aside. When the meat has cooled slightly, enough that you can shred it with your hands, pull the meat off the bone and shred. Pour the vinegar mixture over the meat (you may not need all of it, put the remaining aside for people to add to their sandwiches as they’d like) and mix well into the pork. If you are not serving right away, reheat the pork in a low oven until heated through. Serve pulled pork with hamburger buns and slaw (see below.) (NOTE: If you prefer a bbq sauce finish, that is easy enough! Skip the vinegar mixture, and mix pork with your favorite bbq sauce, and serve extra along side.)

Cabbage Slaw (makes about 8 cups)

1 head savoy cabbage sliced thin and into bite sized lengths

1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin

1 cup sugar, divided

3/4 cup canola or other neutral oil

3/4 cup white vinegar

1 tbl dry mustard powder

2 tbl kosher salt 

Mix the cabbage and the onion in a large bowl, and toss with 3/4 cups of the sugar. Mix the oil, vinegar, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, mustard and salt in a small saucepan, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and pour over the cabbage mixture. Toss to coat the cabbage well, and chill. Drain excess liquid off slaw before serving. (Note: this makes more liquid than you need. When I made this for 37, I used three heads of cabbage and only doubled the liquid and it worked quite well.) Slaw is best eaten the same day. It will brown quickly, and while it tastes fine, it is not nearly as aesthetically pleasing.

July project: Canning – Dilly Beans, Sweet Hot Mustard, Plum Jam and Zucchini Relish

You guys! I missed you! Work has been total madness! I have the emotional constitution of a pubescent pre-teen this week! Fighting off a nervous breakdown at every turn! I don’t know what’s wrong with me…but I missed B&G for sure. It’s the weekend, and I needed one bad. So things are on the mend…

First, some housekeeping…

1. Happy Blogiversary B&G! Bread & Ginger turned two years old on July 21st. I should have posted that day. I didn’t.

2. Happy 100th post B&G! That happened with my previous post on July 20th. Fun coincidence!

3. In which I am over “In which…” it’s too binding. When I started it, it was a nod to something that quite frankly, at this moment I cannot recall…Peace out “in which…!”

4. B&G is on Twitter! Follow me @bandgmeg

5. B&G is also on Facebook, but you may already know that…

6. And lastly, if you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you will see that I added a Widget that allows you to donate to the World Food Programme to aid the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Everyone has their charitable causes that they choose to support, as you can imagine, many of mine involve food or hunger. The pictures of the crisis are devastating, I can’t think about them without tearing up, so I figured I would just offer up the opportunity to donate if you are able. Just 50 cents is a whole meal, or something crazy like that. It doesn’t take much.

It is amazing what I am lucky enough to be able to take for granted.

7. I may have made a grave error. I started watching “Friday Night Lights” on Netflix. What in the name of Gracie Belle Taylor took me so long? I am obsessed, and will probably get nothing accomplished until I finish all five seasons.

So hello!

I embarked on a project last month. I am hoping to do that more regularly. I already have a good one in the works for this month. In July, I took on canning.

the results

As in: putting stuff in jars, and then sealing them with a water bath, so that they can hang out in the cupboards for awhile, and then in say, February, when you get a hankering for the taste of summer, you can open up a jar of dilly beans, and snack away.

At the ready.

This all came about because my family went up to Portsmouth, NH earlier this year to visit my sisters, and we went to lunch and several people at the table ordered bloody marys. The bloodies at this particular establishment came garnished with a delightful looking green bean that I snatched off of one of my unsuspecting siblings, and I was hooked. It was awesome. A green bean pickle with some spice. I wanted to replicate them immediately. As you can imagine, immediately turned into several months, and I decided that my July project would be canning. I had never done it before, so I called in an expert. My aunt and I picked a Saturday (the hottest in creation) and four recipes.

I planned on making dilly beans and my Aunt El’s (by way of my Aunt Col) sweet hot mustard that is to.die.for. My aunt picked plum jam and the my grandmother’s zucchini relish, which is a favorite in our fam.

Canning is not difficult by any stretch, but it requires a fair amount of time, and it has to be done correctly, because there is some risk involved. But as long as you pay attention, it really is quite simple. The jars must be sterilized, and the contents must be hot enough to create a seal as it cools. The pop of the top sealing as it cools is a delight after all the hard (and hot) work of canning. If you are going to give this a whirl, I recommend grabbing a book and doing a little reading. The Ball Blue Book is a classic authority, but there are tons of good ones out there. There are some little important steps in the process that you want to make sure you check off the list. Botulism would blow, I suspect.

We started with the zucchini as it has to sit for a couple of hours at two different points during the process. The zucchini, onion and red pepper are sliced thin, tossed with salt, covered with water and left to sit for two hours.

relaxing

And beans were prepped. Lots of them.

beans

The beans were the easiest to prepare actually. Once I trimmed them, I stood them upright in the jars…

lined up, ready to go.

and then added garlic, dill seeds and cayenne (lots of cayenne. These are SPICY. I might add a bit less next time.)

spicy beans

The liquid is boiled (vinegar, water, salt) and poured over the beans, the lids are put on the jars and the jars are processed in a boiling water bath for five minutes. And voila! I just opened these up the other day after letting them sit and develop flavor for a couple of weeks. Delicious! And quite spicy.

dilly beans!

Back to the zucchini…the process is similar to the dilly beans. We drained the water off the zucchini and boiled the pickling liquid, poured it over the vegetables and let it sit again for two more hours.

brewing

And now the plum jam, which I don’t have very many pictures of. The jam had the fewest steps. Boil the fruit, add a bonkers amount of sugar, boil some more, and voila! Jam! The recipe we were following did not call for pectin. In hindsight, we probably would have used it, because this is not super thick, but it is super delicious.

plums

The interesting thing about the jam is that they get wax tops. Paraffin is melted and poured over the top of the jam, and that is what seals it. It’s very cool.

in jars

The last of the day was my Aunt Col’s (or apparently Aunt El’s…unsure) sweet hot mustard. This stuff is SOO good. It is perfect with kielbasa. It is hot and sweet at the same time, and in a bizarre twist, it has eggs and butter in it. I was very surprised to find that out.

Dry mustard powder, horseradish, vinegar, water combined, boiled up, and then eggs and butter are added and then, because of the eggs, we processed this in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes to make sure the eggs were cooked. (Eggs are pasturized at 140 degrees for five minutes.)

mustard in jars...

Overall, the canning project was awesome. I will absolutely be doing this again. Yes, there is work involved, and you do have to pay attention, but it is so worth it. Look at all the good stuff…

savory...

sweet.

The jam is perfect in the mornings, the zucchini relish is awesome with a sandwich or on a hot dog, the mustard is amazing with sausage, a ham or turkey sandwich, pretty much anything you can imagine, and the dilly beans are a fantastic snack. Success! And there is something very satisfying about canning. It’s so pioneer-like. And like I said, it’s not hard, exactly, but it is precise, and you want to leave yourself some time to do it, to make sure you do all the steps. The jars have to be sterilized by boiling, they have to be clean when they get sealed, and the water bath has to be at a rolling boil. The alternative is botulism, so this is one you definitely want to do correctly. But sally forth and can stuff! It is very satisfying, and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor for months! And your friends will be so impressed when you hand them a homemade hostess gift! I think I am going to give it another try in September…I need to start planning my recipes.

A couple more things, since it has been so long since we’ve talked…

I have a very funny friend with a very funny new blog…you should def check it out.

I know I mentioned it already, but seriously, Friday Night Lights? Oh. Ma. Gah. For real, how did I miss this the first go round? This show is amazing. And perfect (except for the slightly creepy feeling I get when I realize that I am totally gaga for Tim Riggins, a character that is supposed to be in high school. Granted, the most age inappropriate high schooler in the history of high school, and also, the actor is actually like 28, but still, squicky.)

Dilly Beans (makes four pints)

Adapted from Food In Jars

2 pounds green beans, trimmed to fit your jars

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (you can use more, but know that I used a generous 1/4 teaspoon for each jar of beans, and they are quite spicy, so you may want to restrain yourself.)

4 tsp dill seed (not dill weed)

4 cloves garlic

2 1/2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity – it says this on the label, and is the standard for white vinegar, but you want to confirm, since the acidity of the vinegar is what helps keep canned relishes preservable and safe.)

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup plus 1 tbl kosher salt

Place your jars on a rack or a towel on the bottom of a large stock pot or canning pot, and fill it with water. Bring to a boil to sterilize the jars while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

Wash and trim your beans so that they fit in your jar.

Combine vinegar, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. As you wait for the brine to boil, pack your beans into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace (distance between the tops of the beans and the rim of the jar). Add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 clove of garlic and 1 teaspoon dill seeds to each jar with the beans.

Pour the boiling brine over the beans, making sure to leave that 1/2 inch headspace. Use a plastic knife to remove air bubbles from jar by running it around the interior of the jar. Wipe the rims and apply the lids (which have been sitting in a small saucepan of water at a mere simmer for at least ten minutes in order to soften the sealing compound) and rings.

Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath (timing doesn’t start until the pot has come back to a roiling boil).

Let the beans develop flavor for a couple of weeks, then enjoy!

Zucchini Relish (makes four pints)

Recipe from my Gram

2 lbs zucchini sliced thin

1 medium onion (about 1/2 lb), sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin

1/4 cup salt

2 cups white vinegar

3 cups sugar

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp mustard powder

2 tbl mustard seed

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Toss the vegetables with the salt, cover with water and let sit for two hours or overnight.

Boil vinegar, sugar and spices. Drain salted vegetables well, and pour hot brine over the top. Let vegetables stand in the brine for two hours.

When the two hours is up, sterilize the jars, boil the vegetable mixture again, and pour hot mixture into the clean jars. Make sure the edges of the jars are wiped and clean, and cover with lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the seal for 1o minutes. Twist rings in place and process in a boiling water bath for five minutes (timing starts when water returns to a rolling boil.) Voila!

Plum Jam (makes about 4 pints, but I would use half pint jars for this, a pint is a lot of jam)

Adapted from a book that I can’t remember the name of right now…I’ll get back to you

3 1/2 lbs ripe but firm plums

2 cups water

3 1/2 cups sugar (this is REALLY sweet, super crazy delicious, but quite sweet, if you like your jam a bit more tart, feel free to cut this down a little.)

1 tsp butter (apparently reduces the foaming that jams like to get in to)

Cut plums in half and remove the pits. Crack some of the pits (you will need a hammer), remove the kernels inside, and set aside (ok, so this step seems a little suspect and unnecessary…though, I would recommend it if only to smell the kernels. No joke, they smell so good and so purely of plum, it really is crazy. If you are going to do this, wrap the kernels in cheese cloth so they don’t get lost in the jam, and then fish them out when the jam is cooked.)

Put the plums, water and kernels in a large pot. Bring to a boil, the reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Add the sugar and heat gently, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved. Add the butter and boil rapidly for 15 minutes until the setting point is reached, skimming any foam off the top. Pour into the sterilized jars and let cool for 10 minutes. Seal with wax tops, or process in a boiling water bath with regular lids and rings, for 10 minutes.

Sweet Hot Mustard (makes 2 quarts)

recipe from my fabulous Aunts, El and Col.

3-4 tbl prepared horseradish

1 2/3 cups dry mustard powder (Coleman’s)

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp white pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup water

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

3 eggs

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

Combine horseradish, mustard powder and peppers in a large pot. Whisk in the water to make a paste (break up any lumps of mustard powder.) Add the sugar and salt and stir, then whisk in the vinegar (the mustard powder does, in fact, want to lump up, whisk vigorously.)

Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, and slowly, while whisking, add about one cup of the hot mustard mixture to the eggs to temper them and prevent curdling (I was only mildly successful at this part.) Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the hot mustard mixture, add the butter and stir until the butter melts. Pour the mustard into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (I couldn’t be too careful here, what with the raw eggs, and all – though the hot mustard cooks them. I am a nervous person.) Note, my mustard seemed a little runny, and did separate once in the jars. Don’t fret! It firms right up in the fridge and if it separates just shake shake shake before serving! This is best served cold anyway, so stick it in the fridge before you are going to use it. That should keep it from separating as well.

So there you go! Can away! I will totally be doing this again…there are pretty limitless options!