Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

It's that magical pre-vacation time when the last thing you want to do is go grocery shopping. With no vegetable box this year, our options for dinner are more limited than usual. I found this recipe while looking for something different to do with the ground pork sitting in the freezer. This came together incredibly quickly (after I skipped on marinating the veggies for an hour!) and was remarkably flavourful. I made some changes I'd recommend (reducing the sugar), some I'm on neutral on (using cucumber slices instead of daikon), and some I'd recommend avoiding (using the last of our slices of bread instead of baguette).

One year ago: Baked Green Lasagna with Meat Sauce

Pork Meatball Banh Mi (adapted from epicurious.com, originally Bon Appetit)

Hot Chili Mayo:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 cups coarsely grated carrots
2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
16 large fresh cilantro sprigs

1. Hot Chili Mayo: Stir all ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt.
2. Meatballs: Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
3. Sandwiches: Toss first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally (I just had them sit while the meatballs were cooking.)
4. Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs. Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes.
5. Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell.
6. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread shell. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro, in bottom halves. Fill each with 1/4 of meatballs.
7. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. Press on baguette tops.

Red Braised Pork

This is a rich, flavourful dish that comes together easily. It does require a bit of time, but good things come to those who wait.

One year ago: Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Scones

Red Braised Pork (from Land of Plenty)

450 - 560g boneless pork belly, preferably with skin
2" piece of ginger, unpeeled
2 scallions
3 tbsp peanut oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 of a star anise

1. Cut pork into 2 - 3" chunks, leaving each piece with a layer of skin and a mixture of lean meat and fat.
2. Crush ginger with a heavy object. Cut scallions into 3 or 4 sections.
3. Heat oil in the pot until beginning to smoke. Add pork and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
4. Add stock and all other ingredients and stir well. Bring to a boil.
5. Simmer half-covered or uncovered over a very low flame for 2 hours, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced and meat is fork tender.


I decided that the perfect thing to bring some people at the office was homemade fudge. Of course, I've made fudge in the past, but it was cheater fudge with evaporated milk. I decided this year would be the year to try the real thing. The first batch went smoothly, although it did require more patience and checking of the temperature than I bargained for ... not to mention the anxiety of whether or not it would turn to fudge (the transformation was nothing short of amazing!). I got a little bit cocky for the second batch (of course the mint ones!). Instead of setting, the fudge remained like chocolate taffy. Luckily, the book had remedies for this and I think the finished product turned out amazingly, even if I did have to warn people about foil bits! Unluckily, the transition to saving the dish involved covering the counter and my hands in chocolate. Don't get cocky! I omitted the nuts. They don't belong in fudge in my world!

One year ago: Maple Pecan Pie

Fudge (from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

1. Generously butter the sides of a 2.5 - 3 qt saucepan. Mix sugar, cocoa, salt, cream, and corn syrup in pan. Stir over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil.
2. Cover the saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Uncover the pan and place a thermometer in the pan. Boil without stirring until it reaches 236F.
4. Gently remove from heat. Add butter, do not stir. Let stand until temperature drops to 110F.
5. Prepare a pan, covering the bottom and sides on a loaf pan with aluminum foil.
6. When fudge has cooled, remove thermometer and add vanilla. Beat using a wooden spatula or spoon without stopping until fudge becomes very thick and is barely beginning to lose its shine.
7. Stir in nuts if using. Push mixture into lined pan. Push into smooth layer.
8. As soon as it feels firm but before it hardens, remove from pan by lifting foil and cut into portions with a long, sharp knife.
9. Wrap immediately.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Butter-Roasted Cabbage Strips with Caraway Seeds and Mustard Seeds

I was pleasantly surprised that I liked this dish. Thus far, I've mostly enjoyed the cabbage we've been getting with more Asian flavours or in raw preparations. This recipe was nicely seasoned and brought out the sweetness of the cabbage which paired nicely with pork tenderloin. We skipped on the optional aged Gouda because the boy wasn't willing to part with some of his precious Gouda for this recipe. I imagine it would be even better with the cheese!

One year ago: French Lemon Cream Tart

Butter-Roasted Cabbage Strips with Caraway Seeds (from All About Roasting)

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp caraway seeds, coarsely ground
1 tsp mustard seeds, brown or yellow
1 small head green cabbage (680g), preferably Savoy
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Gouda cheese (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350F. If desired, line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add caraway and mustard seeds and set aside.
3. Quarter cabbage and remove cores. Slice each quarter into 1/3" thick pieces. Pile onto baking sheet (don't worry if it's high, it will shrink!).
4. Pour butter over cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
5. Roasting, tossing and turning with tongs every 10 minutes until tender with crispy brown edges, about 30 minutes.
6. Serve hot or warm with some grated Gouda.

Sear-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Quick Vermouth Sauce

The last of the cheap pork tenderloin has now been eaten. The boy got stuck cooking this dinner as I went Christmas shopping after work. I think he did a pretty good job! This recipe is more of a guideline or springboard for dinner. The pork could be seasoned differently with rubs, but the method is excellent and results in an extremely moist piece of meat. The sauce has more substitutions listed in the cookbook than ingredients. If you find that too much sauce evaporated off before you put the finishing touches on it (perhaps because it was left on a hot burner), just add more liquid before adding the butter.

For best flavour, season the pork 4 - 24 hours ahead of time.

One year ago: Veal Scaloppine with Marsala and Cream

Sear-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Quick Vermouth Sauce (from All About Roasting)

1 pork ternderloin, silverskin trimmed
1/2 to 3/4 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp grapeseed oil or other neutral-tasting oil
1/4 cup finely minced shallots, scallions, leeks (white parts), or onions
1/4 cup dry white vermouth (or white wine, apple cider, marsala, or sherry)
1 cup chicken broth
1 to 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or other herb)
2 - 4 tbsp unsalted butter, heavy cream, or creme fraiche

1. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Set on a plate and refrigerate for 4 - 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Let pork sit at room temperature while oven heats, 25 - 30 minutes. Pat surface dry.
3. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and sear undisturbed until brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn and brown on all 4 sides. Transfer to a small rimmed baking sheet.
4. Roast pork until internal temperature reaches 140 to 145F, 13 to 18 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, let skillet cool slightly. Add shallots and return pan to medium heat and saute until they are slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
6. Add vermouth to skillet, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Scrape bottom of skillet. Simmer until vermouth just barely covers bottom of skillet, 2 - 3 minutes.
7. Add broth to skillet and simmer until reduced by about half, 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
8. Transfer pork to a carving board to rest for 5 - 8 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, heat sauce over medium heat to just below a simmer. Add any drippings from pan (we didn't have any). Whisk in butter 2 at a time in 1/2 tbsp sized parts. Don't let the sauce boil. Add dairy depending on how rich you want the sauce. Allow sauce to simmer until thickened.
10. Carve pork into 1/2 to 1" thick slices. Pour any meat juices into the sauce. Spoon sauce over each serving.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ground Lamb Meatballs with a Saffron Sauce

I know I just had a ground lamb Indian dish, but I couldn't resist the sudden availability of small packages of ground lamb at a reasonable price at the store. This recipe is less indulgent than the last one, but still delicious with more spice and a bit of heat. I had a friend over and messed up slightly by forgetting to scoop the lamb meatballs out and then reduce the sauce. I ended up overcooking the lamb a bit and not having a thick broth to pour over the meatballs. I recommend not making that mistake, but promise that the dish will be good even if you do!

One year ago: Slow Cooked Scrambled Eggs with Cream Cheese

Ground Lamb Meatballs with a Saffron Sauce (from 660 Curries)

225g ground lamb
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, ground
1/2 tsp black cumin seeds, ground
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp saffron threads
4 or 5 black cardamom pods
6 whole cloves, crushed
2 tbsp canola oil

1. Mix lamb, salt, fennel, cumin, ginger, onion and garlic together in a medium-size bowl. Form into 10 balls and place on plate.
2. Pour 2 cups water into a small saucepan, add cayenne, paprika, saffron, cardamom pods, and cloves. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered until you have an aromatic, reddish-orange broth, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add meatballs and cook, moving to ensure even browning until seared all over, 5 - 7 minutes. Drain off excess fat.
4. Pour spiced broth over meatballs. Raise heat to medium-high and vigorously simmer uncovered, basting every minute or two, until lamb is barely pink inside, about 10 minutes.
5. Remove lamb from broth and transfer to a serving bowl.
6. Continue to simmer broth until it reduces to about 1/2 cup, 8 - 10 minutes. Pour over meatballs and serve.

Ants Climbing a Tree

This is a simple dish that's perfect for a weeknight meal. While it wasn't quite as impressive as some of the dishes I've cooked lately, it was a surprisingly satisfying dish that seems cozy for a winter night. The name comes from the look of ants (the ground pork) clinging to the noodles (the tree). I substituted rice noodles (because that's what I had) for the bean thread noodles, so I didn't have quite the visual effect for that. I also doubled the pork and spice ingredients just because 115g of meat didn't seem like enough to make dinner for 2 with leftovers. Maybe with the right noodles it would've been a better proportion. The original is included below.

One year ago: Red Lentil and Chickpea Soup

Ants Climbing a Tree (from Land of Plenty)

115g bean thread noodles
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
115g ground pork
peanut oil
3 tsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp chili bean paste
1 2/3 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
3 scallions green parts only, finely sliced

1. Soak the noodles in hot water for at least 15 minutes.
2. Add Shaoxing rice wine and a couple of generous pinches of salt to the pork and mix well.
3. Season wok, add 2 tbsp of oil and heat over a high flame. Add pork and stir-fry until lightly browned and crisp with a tsp or so of light soy sauce.
4. Add chili bean paste and stir-fry until oil is red and fragrant.
5. Add stock and drained noodles and stir well.
6. Tip in dark soy sauce for colour and season with light soy sauce and salt to taste.
7. When stock has come to a boil, simmer over a medium flame for about 10 minutes until liquid has mostly evaporated and been absorbed.
8. Add scallions, mix well, and transfer to a serving dish.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lamb-Almond Dumplings in a Tomato Cream Sauce

Ground lamb was on sale the last time I was in the grocery store, so of course I couldn't pass it up. The flavours in this dish were perfectly balanced. Serve with the buttery basmati rice for an amazing meal.

I made a couple of mistakes with this recipe and forgot the chopped red onion. I also thought this recipe didn't need cumin seeds and used all of them making the rice (apparently cumin seeds now don't last much more than a month around me!), so I added a bit of ground cumin to the meat mixture instead. I'd recommend following the recipes, but it's not the end of the world if you have ground cumin instead.

One year ago: Red Lentil and Chickpea Soup

Lamb-Almond Dumplings in a Tomato Cream Sauce (from 660 Curries)

450g lean ground lamb
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds, ground
1/4 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
6 medium-size cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp Punjabi garam masala
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup canned tomato sauce (I used strained tomatoes)
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, ground
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Combine lamb, onions, almonds, mint, cilantro, garlic, garam masala, and salt in a medium bowl. Divide into 12 equal portions and shape into a meatball.
2. Heat ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and smell nutty, 5 - 10 seconds.
3. Add meatballs to the pan in a single layer. Cook, gently shaking every 2 - 3 minutes until they are evenly browned, 5 - 8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to plate.
4. Pour tomato sauce into skillet and scrape bottom to deglaze. Stir in cardamom and cayenne.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally until a thin film of oil starts to form, 5 - 8 minutes.
6. Stir in cream.
7. Add meatballs to skillet and spoon sauce over them. Cover skillet and simmer, basting occasionally, until meatballs are light pink in center, 10 - 15 minutes. Serve.

Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion

My cookbook suggested I serve this side with my main dish and I have to admit when I first read the list of ingredients, I wasn't terribly excited. Still, I decided to give it a shot. Mostly because it would use up the chard I had in the fridge (chard and spinach are exactly the same, right?) and partly because I had all of the ingredients on hand. The end result, though, is so much more than the sum of its parts. I took one bite and was pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavour. The boy had a bite and was also impressed and wanted to know what was in it. I started listing the ingredients and felt sure I had missed something, but no, I had remembered it all.

Usually I don't bother with the rinsing and soaking of rice, but I figured this time it didn't really add any time as the rice soaks while the onion and greens cook. I'm not sure if that's part of the magic, but it's probably worth doing!

One year ago: Pita Bread

Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion (from 660 Curries)

1 cup basmati rice
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium-size red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 cups firmly packed fresh spinach leaves (chard!), well rinsed, patted dry, and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt

1. Place rice in a medium bowl. Fill halfway with water to cover rice. Rub grains, drain, and repeat 3 - 4 times until rice remains relatively clear. Fill halfway with cold water and let sit until grains soften, 20 - 30 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and smell aromatic, 5 - 10 seconds.
3. Stir in onion and add a handful of spinach. Lower heat to medium and stir until greens wilt, about 1 minute. Repeat until all spinach has been added.
4. Cook onion-spinach mixture until all liquid has evaporated and onion has turned soft and honey-brown, 15 - 20 minutes.
5. Add drained rice and toss with onion-spinach mixture. Pour in 1 1/2 cups water and add salt. Stir rice once.
6. Increase heat to medium high and cook until water has evaporated from the surface and craters form, 5 - 8 minutes.
7. Stir once. Cover with lid and reduce heat to lowest possible setting. Cook for 8 - 10 minutes.
8. Turn off heat and let pan sit on burner undisturbed for 10 minutes.
9. Remove lid, fluff, and serve.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pork Ribs with a Sweet-Sour Glaze

While trying to make room in the freezer and reorganize it so things could be found, I discovered a package of pork ribs. Although this recipe calls for them to be grilled, I thought putting them in the slow-cooker would be much easier for a weeknight meal (baking also works according to the book). Be sure to start the night before with making the paste, marinating, and making the glaze.

I was a bit skeptical of the sauce when I walked in the door to a sauce simmering and was overwhelmed by the smell of garlic, but the end result had sweetness and a hint of heat. I served it with a salad with cilantro jalapeno dressing and some stewed beets with a few Indian spices. Not only did the plate look beautiful, but the earthiness of the beets complemented the ribs wonderfully.

One year ago: Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes
Two years ago: Arugula and Cheese Pseudo-Frittata

Pork Ribs with a Sweet-Sour Glaze (from 660 Curries)

2 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1.8kg pork ribs
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp Balti masala (I used a premade garam masala)
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
4 medium garlic cloves
2 - 3 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, stems removed
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

1. To prepare ribs, mix ginger and garlic pastes, salt, and turmeric together in a small bowl. Smear paste over ribs. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Combine all glaze ingredients in a small bowl and stir thoroughly.
3. Place ribs in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or until tender.
4. Combine garlic and chiles in a mortar. Pound together with the pestle, scraping the sides.
5. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and stir-fry until dark brown around edges, 5 - 8 minutes.
6. Add pounded garlic-chile blend and stir to lightly brown garlic, about 1 minute.
7. Stir in tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and turmeric. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until vinegar evaporates and there is an oily sheen, 3 - 5 minutes.
8. Pour in 1 cup water and scrape pan to deglaze. Once the sauce comes to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer until it thickens, 5 - 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
9. Paint glaze on ribs and continue to cook until glaze has a slightly opaque look to it (You might also consider using the broiler.). Remove ribs from slow cooker and let rest for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.
10. Rewarm sauce and stir in cilantro.
11. Slice ribs and transfer to a platter. Brush with sauce.

Fish-Fragrant Pork Slivers

I've been craving Chinese food a bit lately and had found some cheap pork chops at the grocery store, so this recipe seemed like a perfect candidate for a weeknight dinner. At first, I was a bit turned off by the name, but there's nothing fishy about this dish. The end result is salty, sweet, sour and spicy ... everything you could want in a Chinese dish! If you mix together everything while your mushrooms are soaking, the dish comes together very quickly and easily. Don't forget the rice to soak up the sauce!

As far as changed to the recipe go, I did omit bamboo shoots (and the alternative of celery stalks). It's supposed to add a crunchy element to the dish, but I also served a side of sliced daikon (turnips!), so I felt it wasn't needed.

One year ago: Gingerbread Cupcakes
Two years ago: Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad

Fish-Fragrant Pork Slivers (from Land of Plenty)

a small handful of dried cloud ear mushrooms
280g boneless pork loin (meat from pork chops)
peanut oil
2 tbsp pickled chili paste
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 scallions, green parts only, very thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cold water
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp black Chinese vinegar
3/4 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp chicken stock or water

1. Cover cloud ear mushrooms in very hot water and soak for 30 minutes.
2. Cut pork into thin slices and cut these into long, fine slivers. Place in bowl, add marinade ingredients, and stir to combine.
3. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
4. Thinly slice cloud ear mushrooms, discarding any knobby bits.
5. Season wok and add 1/4 cup of cool oil and reheat over high flame.
6. When oil is beginning to smoke, add pork and stir-fry.
7. As soon as strips have separated, push to one side of wok, tip the wok toward the other side, and tip the chili paste into the space you have created.
8. Stir-fry until oil is red and fragrant and then add garlic and ginger and mix everything together, tilting the wok back to normal.
9. Stir-fry for another 30 seconds or until you smell the garlic and ginger.
10. Add mushrooms and stir-fry briefly, until just hot.
11. Stir the sauce in its bowl and add to wok. Stir to incorporate, add scallions, toss briefly, and turn onto a serving dish.

Stracotto with Garlic and Pancetta

This is another recipe that can be blamed solely on impulsively bought meat. It's such a bad habit and at the same time has such delicious results that I don't think I'll be stopping any time soon. The sauce on this dish is incredible and worth every bit of extra work straining and shredding the pancetta. This is a perfect winter meal. The author suggests serving it with polenta. I served potatoes, but think polenta would be an even better vehicle for soaking up every last bit of sauce. This dish does require some planning ahead as it needs to marinate before braising.

One year ago: Christmas Macarons
Two years ago: Cream of Tomato Soup

Stracotto with Garlic and Pancetta (from All About Braising)

1.6 - 1.8kg boneless beef chuck roast or 1.8 - 2kg bone-in beef chuck roast
coarse salt
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 head garlic, cut crosswise in half
2 bay leaves
2 3" rosemary sprigs
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
one 750mL bottle fruity, dry red wine (Chianti)
aromatics and braising liquid
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grappa or brandy
1 cup beef or veal stock
225g pancetta (preferably in one piece, but sliced works)
freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, and carrot and saute until vegetables are slightly brown, about 8 minutes.
2. Add garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, and peppercorns. Add wine and bring to a boil.
3. Simmer for 5 minutes and set aside to cool to room temperature.
4. Tie meat with kitchen string and season with 1 tsp of salt. Slide into a zip-log bag and pour in cooled marinade. Refrigerate for 24 - 36 hours, turning once or twice.
5. Heat oven to 300F.
6. Remove meat from marinade, reserving marinade. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
7. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meat and sear on all sides, 15 - 20 minutes total. Transfer to a 3 - 4 qt Dutch oven.
8. Pour most of the fat from the skillet and discard. Return skillet to medium-high heat and pour in grappa.
9. Bring to a boil and scrape pan. Continue to boil until reduced to 2 tbsp, 3 - 4 minutes.
10. Strain marinade into skillet, reserving vegetables, and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes.
11. Add stock and boil again to reduce down by half, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
12. Tuck pancetta under roast in Dutch oven. Scatter reserved vegetables over top and push some under the roast.
13. Pour braising liquid oven top of roast. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and then with the lid. Slide pot into lower third of oven.
14. Cook until roast is fork-tender, 2.5 - 3 hours, turning once halfway.
15. Lift beef from braising liquid and transfer to a shallow platter.
16. Strain braising liquid into a saucepan, reserving the pancetta and garlic and discarding remaining aromatics. Skim off fat from liquid and bring to a boil.
17. Simmer for 10 minutes to give sauce body and concentrate flavour.
18. Squeeze garlic from cloves into a small bowl and smash to a paste.
19. Tear pancetta into small shreds and add to simmering sauce.
20. Snip strings from roast. Carve into 1/2" thick slices. Spoon sauce onto each serving and top with a small spoonful of garlic paste.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Babi Kecap

I bookmarked this recipe a while back, but had it on the back burner due to never seeing kecap manis (Indonesian soy sauce) in Montreal (not that I had looked very hard). Imagine my surprise when a friend led me into a tiny Dutch convenience store outside of Ottawa and I found some sitting on the shelf. Of course there was no question as to whether or not I was buying the tiny bottle. The sauce on this recipe was fantastic. I should've listened to my inner voice, though, that told me to cover the pork while it simmered as the pork turned out a bit dry and the sauce reduced more quickly than I wanted it to. Despite the amount of chiles in the recipe, I didn't find it to be spicy.

One year ago: Chicken with Lemongrass
Two years ago: Espresso Chiffon Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting (which I recently remade!)

Babi Kecap (from Almost Bourdain, originally Rick Stein)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
100 g shallots, thinly sliced
50 g garlic, minced
25 g peeled ginger, finely grated
1.25 kg lean pork shoulder, cut into 3cm chunks
4 tbsp kecap manis
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp Tamarind water
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3-4 medium-hot chillies, seeded and chopped
4 red bird's eye chillies, left whole
500 ml Asian chicken stock (~2 cups)
Crisp fried shallots, to garnish (I omitted)

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat.
2. Add the shallots and fry until they are soft and richly golden.
3. Add the garlic, ginger and 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the pork to the pan and fry for 2 minutes until lightly coloured.
5. Add the kecap manis, dark soy sauce, tamarind water, pepper, chopped and whole chillies and stock.
6. Leave to simmer, uncovered [I recommend ignoring and covering], for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring now and then towards the end of cooking, until the pork is tender.
7. Lift the pork out of the sauce with a slotted spoon onto a plate.
8. Boil the cooking liquid until it has reduced to a well-flavoured, slightly thicken, shiny, dark brown sauce.
9. Season to taste with salt, return the pork to the pan and stir in. Spoon the pork onto a warmed serving plate, scatter with the crisp fried shallots and serve.

Quick and Easy Chinese Greens

My one complaint with the CSA box of late is they don't seem to understand that bok choy cooks down. They insist on giving us only a 1/4 lb or so of bok choy, which when making this recipe really only leaves you with a brief taste of this dish and wishing that they'd given a reasonable portion. One day, I will get a full serving ...

One year ago: Goat Cheese and Asparagus Risotto (how seasonal of me!)
Two years ago: Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Quick and Easy Chinese Greens (from Seductions of Rice)

1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 scallions, cut into 1" lengths
1/2" ginger, peeled and minced
450g choi sum (or bok choy), cut into 3" lengths and thickest stalks cut lengthwise in half
2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tbsp cold water.

1. In a small bowl, mix together stock, oyster sauce, wine, soy sauce, and sugar.
2. Place a wok over high heat. When hot, add oil and let heat for 20 seconds.
3. Toss in garlic, scallions, and ginger and stir-free for 30 seconds.
4. Add greens. Stir fry for 1.5 - 2 minutes.
5. Add sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes.
6. Stir in cornstarch mixture and stir-fry until sauce thickens, about 15 seconds.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


First of all, please note that this recipe is not a quick, weeknight dinner. It is, however, a flavourful, rich dish that I think would be outstanding as a hearty winter dinner. A nicely spiced ground beef is covered with a layer of custard, giving you hearty beef and rich eggs. I roughly halved the recipe and cooked it in a loaf pan, rather than a square pan, so I needed a bit extra cooking time (and my oven always seems to run cool). I also messed up and added chili powder instead of curry powder initially as a substitute for the Green Masala, however, the masala is quite spicy according to the recipe, so that may be a good addition if you like a tiny bit of heat. Serve this dish when you need a little comfort as an alternative to Shepherd's Pie or meatloaf.

One year ago: Peppermint Meringues
Two years ago: Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes

Bobotie (from The Soul of a New Cuisine)

560g ground beef
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Green Masala or curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
2 tomatoes, chopped or 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup crushed peanuts or smooth peanut butter, unsweetened
2 tsp salt, divided
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
pinch of ground nutmeg

1. Heat a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and onion and cook, stirring to break up any lumps until beef is well browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in garlic, masala, cumin, coriander, and tomatoes, reduce heat to low and cook stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
3. Stir in the bread crumbs, peanuts, 1 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/2 cup water and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove beef mixture from pot and drain on paper towels. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
6. Whisk together milk, eggs, egg yolks, nutmeg, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt.
7. Spread beef mixture in bottom of pan and press down to pack well.
8. Pour egg mixture over beef mixture.
9. Set baking dish in a larger baking pan and add enough hot water to come 1" up the sides of the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.
10. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes until custard topping is golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pickled Cabbage

Our CSA box seems to think we should be eating cabbage right now. The problem is, I'm not a huge fan of cabbage for the sake of cabbage. Luckily, if you cover it in enough tasty seasoning, I think it's delicious (or I can't taste the cabbage at that point!). The recipe below claims to make 4 servings, but I'm not sure how 2 cups of cabbage plus some red onion can be a serving! I didn't have fresh grapefruit on hand, so I just threw in some juice that was sitting in the fridge. Even without the grapefruit juice though, the mix is quite nice. I also substituted chili powder for harissa because I didn't have the time to make it. Next time, I will do this recipe right. Don't skip on the basil and cilantro on this!

One year ago: Spicy Red Beef Curry
Two years ago: Egg Drop

Pickled Cabbage (from The Soul of a New Cuisine)

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp Harissa
1/2 head Napa cabbage shredded (about 8 cups)
1 grapefruit, peel and pith removed and segments sliced, juice reserved
2 sprigs basil, leaves only, chopped
2 sprigs cilantro, chopped
one 2" piece ginger, peeled and grated

1. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, water, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Transfer to small bowl and let cool.
2. Add onion, garlic, peanuts, peanut oil, and harissa to vinegar mixture and stir well.
3. Put cabbage in a deep baking dish or large bowl and pour mixture over it. Toss to combine.
4. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
5. Drain cabbage and transfer to large bowl. Add grapefruit segments and juice, basil, cilantro, and ginger, tossing to mix.