Sunday, August 25, 2013

Spanish Pork with Apple-Citrus Salsa, plus a delicious salad

I'm not even sure how I stumbled across this recipe, but man, it was awesome. I'm copy-pasting it in case the link stops working someday, because it is that good, and because I made some modifications (minor ones).


The Pork
1 1-pound pork tenderloin
1 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all the seasonings in a wee bowl. Rinse your pork (boyfriend always does this and now I do too) and pat it dry. Lovingly rub the olive oil all over it, then the spices, making sure its evenly coated with the mixture. Set on a plate.

Then, get to work on the apple salsa. Which just involves mixing all of the following together:

3-4 apples (preferably something tart, but one semi-tart is also fine. I had 2 green apples and one honey crisp), cored and diced (no need to peel)
2 tbs apple juice (I got the Simply Apple - you don't want one that's super sugary)
zest of one lime
juice of 1/2 lime
chopped cilantro (the original recipe called for 2 tbs, I probably did more like 4?)
1/4 of a sweet white onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno papper, finely diced

The longer it sits, the better it will taste, is the thing.

Turn the oven on to 350. Sear the pork on all sides in a cast iron pan. Stick a meat thermometer in it. Curse your meat thermometer for apparently having stubborn pre-set temperature ratings, such that you can't actually set it to 145. Settle for the lowest setting, 158. Put pork in the oven. Remove it after what seems like 3 minutes? Seriously? Because your meat thermometer says it has reached a temperature of 158. Let it sit for half an hour because you have timed your dinner prep terribly. Or, you know, time your dinner better, and have a better method of roasting a pork loin properly (though mine did come out perfect, albeit room temperature).

Slice, and top with the apple salsa. Seriously fantastic.

But wait! you say. What is that gorgeous looking pile of salad? 
Funny you should ask. It happens to be the perfect accompaniment to this pork, and totally delicious in its own right. Kind of a pain the butt to make, and you end up with A LOT of it, so this might be a potluck/bbq/dinner party type thing, but I have to give you the recipe, because it's soooo awesome.

You need:

2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 tbs tamari (probably regular soy sauce would be ok too, but we happened to have tamari anyhow)
1/4 olive oil (use the good stuff)
1 tbs grated lemon zest (it's gonna take a whole lemon)
1/4 cup lemon juice (also a whole lemon)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oranges
1 one-and-a-half-pound head of red cabbage, cored and finely sliced
2 small fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup hemp seeds
~1 bunch cilantro (get a large bunch and use some for your apple salsa)

Here's where it gets to be a pain in the butt.

Preheat your oven to 350. Spread the pepitas across a foil-lined baking sheet (I needed two. I didn't line it with foil and man was it a pain to clean). Roast for about 6 minutes, then take out, toss with the tamari, and put back in the oven for 3 minutes. Remove, set aside.
Whisk the lemon juice and zest with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. No idea why the recipe felt it was necessary to do this in advance but sure.
Now you need to dice all cabbage, which is a pain. And the fennel. And, the most annoying part to me, pick all the cilantro leaves off the stem. SO TEDIOUS. Anyways, put all that in a very large bowl with the hemp seeds and about 2/3 of the pumpkin seeds. Or all of em, but honestly, it's a lot, and they make for a nice snack so hey. Peel the oranges, or ask your boyfriend to do it for you because your pork loin has already been out of the oven for 20 minutes at this point, and it's almost 12:30am and you're both really hungry. Once he's peeled them, use a sharp knife to slice the spines off each wedge (you know what I mean?) and maybe cut the backs off and basically try to get little chunks of orange without all the connecting tissue. Hurry up, I'm hungry. Throw that in the bowl, pour the dressing over the top, and mix it all together. It's a lovely blend of colors and flavor, and also a delightful combination of textures. From the Food and Wine Cookbook of 2013 (or maybe 2012?)? Which we've been using a lot lately and enjoying.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ton Katsudon

Boyfriend, Harold, and I went to Oiistar for dinner on Sunday night, and while much of the meal was not that exciting,* the buns were pretty great, particularly the tonkatsu bun.** I was trying to come up with something quick and tasty to make Boyfriend when he got home from work last night (he usually returns around 11pm) and remembered that tasty pork. A little googling later, I had a plan - a combination of this and this recipe, which culminated in a totally delicious dinner.

You need:

for the tonkatsu:
pork (I bought two thinly cut pork cutlets, because that's what Dill Pickle had, and I felt like buying local, humanely raised, hormone free, etc etc)
panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil
salt and pepper
worcestershire sauce
1 egg

make it don!
1 small onion
2 eggs
1 green onion
dashi broth (I made some - 1 wee piece of kombu and a handful of bonito)
soy sauce

If you're using dashi broth, get that started - put a wee piece of kombu into about 1 cup of water. Let it sit. After half an hour, put it on heat until almost boiling. Then remove from heat, add a handful of bonito flakes, let sit.

Now, make your pork.  Beat an egg in a wide, shallow bowl. Shake some panko crumbs onto a plate. Add some salt and pepper to it. Trim the pork chops so that you're not getting sudden bites of nasty (ie gristle). Dip the pork chop into the egg, then roll thoroughly in panko. Carefully lay on a plate. Note that most recipes would tell you to dip in flour first, but the flour was hiding in the back of the pantry so I left that part out. And it turned out ok. Anyways, pour a whole bunch of oil into a pan - 1/2 inch or more. Crank the heat. When it's hot hot hot, grab some tongs (kitchen life is SO much easier with tongs. I never used them before, but they are great) and carefully slide the pork into the oil. When the bread crumbs turn a nice golden brown, flip it. When its browned all over (mine took about 4 minutes?), remove and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Clean your pan.

Make rice! Rinse 1 cup rice in a pot. Sprinkle salt over it. Add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to as low as it'll go, cover, and cook until done - about 20 minutes.

Strain your dashi broth (I use a coffee filter). Put it in a bowl with a tablespoon of mirin and a tablespoon of soy sauce.

When your pork is cooled, slice into strips. Sprinkle worcestershire over it.

Chop the onion into thin-ish slices. Fry over medium-low heat until they start to soften. Meanwhile, finely chop your green onion. Pour the dashi combination over the sauteed onions and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, quickly beat two more eggs into that bowl. When most of the liquid is gone from the onions, pour the egg over it (you're supposed to put the pork on there too. I couldn't bring myself to do it - not my beautifully crisped pork! so the end result was that my pork was only room temperature, which is maybe not ideal, but it was not soggy and covered in egg, so hey). Shake it around the pan, and when its most set, flip it (you can break it into smaller chunks to do that; its fine). Sprinkle about half of your green onions over the top and kinda push em in, so they wilt a wee bit.

Now, you're ready to assemble. Pack some rice into a bowl. Put a layer of onion-egg over it. Top with a few strips of pork. Garnish with some more green onion. Serve with sriracha, for those who want to kick it up a notch.


One of the best meals I've made in a long time. And really quite easy!


*Avoid the tuna carpaccio. It's just not very good. The chicken wings are excellent, and the ramen and green beans were both very pleasant. I'm not sure why I left with such a meh impression of the place, actually - most of what we ate was quite tasty. It's just that we paid more than I'd have liked, and it seemed like everything had an egg on it.

** Both the tempura shrimp and the duck breast were also awesome; the chicken was so-so; the pork shoulder was dry and flavorless. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bacon lentil side dish

Like clockwork, as my return to Amereeka draws nigh, I begin burning through my pork reserves like an asteroid entering Earth's atmosphere. I've had some luck before uniting lentils and pork, so I figured I'd give it another go. I poked around the internet and found this recipe, and also this one, and sort of combined them.

3 glasses green lentils, bacon, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, fennel, chard, red wine vinegar

I put 3 glasses of lentil in a pot with the scraps (ie, the leafy bits) of a fennel bulb and a teeny bunch of celery* and added 1 liter or so of boiling water and two packets of Goya Sazon powder. In the future, I'd add some bullion as well, or at least some salt.

As those cooked, I fried half a pound of bacon in two different pans over medium low heat. When it was done, I placed it on paper towels, and poured the grease into one pan.

I finely diced the fennel, two onions, and chard stems and put them in the pan I'd poured the grease out of, adding a little bit of grease from the other pan. I let that cook over medium heat until softened but still firm. Meanwhile, I chopped the celery and (peeled) carrot quite fine and put them aside.

At this point, my lentil were done, so I drained them, discarded the scraps, and put them in a big bowl. I added the sautéed onion, fennel and chard stems. In the less greasy pan, I cooked the celery and carrot for a couple minutes, until slightly mellowed but still crunchy, and added them to the bowl.

I chopped the chard leaves into strips then chunks of strips and put them in the pan, drizzling plenty of red wine vinegar over them. I pressed in 4 cloves of garlic and cooked over low heat, stirring. When the garlic had lost its bite and the chard was wilted and well infused with garlic and vinegar flavor (2-3 minutes), I added it to the bowl. Then I crumbled the bacon in and stirred everything.

I tried to make a dressing with mustard, bacon grease, salt, pepper and olive oil, but it wasn't very good so I trashed it. Instead, I added plenty of salt and pepper to the bowl and more red wine vinegar and served it. And it was pretty dang good, if I do say so myself. I think having the chard leaves be the primary dressing vehicle, as it were, kept the flavors of the other ingredients from being overpowered. The texture was nice, crispety and crunchety - important, I think, with lentils, which can very easily be sort of chalky. Overall, definitely a success!

*Turks don't seem to recognize celery stalks as food. You can buy celery root, but the stalks are hard to find, and usually scrawny, pathetic little things thinner than a drinking straw.

Bacon soda

I've been meaning to post about this but I think my taste buds are struggling to suppress the memory. Awhile back I was contacted by a representative of the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop, asking if I'd review their new bacon soda. Of course I said yes, with the usual provisos - no guarantee of a positive review, but you do retain veto power, so if you send me something awful, I won't post a bad review if you don't want me to. Apparently, the Rocket Fizz folks decided that even bad reviews could be good publicity, so here's the deal: this stuff is super gross.

I was dubious of bacon soda from the get-go, but this was far more repulsive than even I imagined. It has a weird grassy flavor, like a vaguely bacon-y dirt. What's worse though - and maybe it's just my imagination, generated by some chain of associations that happens in your brain when you consume a pork flavored beverage, but I could swear it had a slightly greasy texture. And to top it off, it was sickeningly sweet. Essentially, it was all the worst things about both bacon and soda, united into one foul product. Even the smell is rank. I'm vaguely glad I tried it, in the way you are pleased with yourself for doing something that few others would, but it's not even the kind of interesting gross that makes you want to have another sip a few minutes later. It's just disgusting.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easy Chorizo Hash

Sometimes the simplest things are best. Slice up some baby potatoes and put in a pot with cold salted water. Light a flame under it. Meanwhile, chop up a few onions and some peppers and peel some cloves of garlic.

Squeeze a few links of Mexican chorizo onto a pan and cook over medium heat, breaking it up. When it's browned, add the chopped onions and peppers, and squeeze the garlic in through a press. Add olive oil if needed - but you shouldn't need much, because chorizo is oily stuff. Your potato water should be boiling by now. Let the potatoes boil a minute or two, until they're just barely or maybe even not quite cooked through. Drain. Your onions and peppers should be somewhat softened. Add the potatoes into the mix, stirring well so that everything is coated with chorizo grease. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, but carefully - you don't want to turn your potatoes into mush. Grab your favorite hot sauce and drizzle it generously over everything. I used Co-op Mole Hot Sauce, which I love. It added a nice earthiness and a note of bitter chocolate. But I think regular old Frank's would be pretty awesome too. Or whatever else you like. Anyhow, stir, then turn the heat to high and let everything crisp up some. As a finale, sprinkle some grated cheddar over the top.

Pretty awesome.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chorizo and fish?

Whoulda thunk it.

I have some Mexican chorizo that I smuggled in from the States, and was cruising the internet looking for some new ideas with what to do with it. I stumbled across this recipe and decided to give it a whirl, despite finding it kind of odd. As usual, some slight modifications:

*It doesn't really specify, but I'm pretty confident that the recipe was thinking of Spanish chorizo, not Mexican. Pretty different, but hey. Also, if i had Spanish chorizo right now I would just eat it plain, not cook with it. Oh man do I love Spanish chorizo.

*Not having dry sherry, I used white wine (which I think gave it a rather fruitier flavor, not entirely unpleasant but I definitely want to try the sherry version.

*Not knowing the Turkish word for haddock, or what any of the Turkish names for fish translate to, I ended up with a fillet of panga. The internet suggests that this is neither a tasty nor a healthy fish. I can't comment on the second, but as to the first, the internet has a point. It's pretty blah. A meatier white fish would have been much better.

*I didn't have crusty bread, I just ate it as it was. Which was fine.

*It said to season the fish, but didn't say with what. I just did salt and pepper.

Overall - wow! I will definitely make this again. A really interesting combination of flavors, and really, really simple to make. There's a slight risk of it being a bit on the sweet side, which probably has a lot to do with what alcohol you end up using. Also, I'm not big into parsley, but I think it was actually pretty crucial to this, for a bit of freshness. But it's a delicious meal, and I know it seems like a weird assortment of ingredients, but it's definitely worth trying.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Prosciutto, Arugula and Parmesan

My dear friend Daniel Leonard was in Italy in January and brought me back a souvenir:

I am naturally a hoarder, but I suddenly got worried that it would spoil, so why not, today was the day. Although prosciutto is completely delicious on its own, to be totally honest, I have a preferred method of consuming it. Tear it into pieces and add it to a hefty bunch of arugula. Squeeze a lemon half over it, drizzle with some high quality olive oil, and top with parmesan shavings (Daniel brought me some of that too!) and freshly grated black pepper. Toss and eat (do it fast-ish, because the acid of the lemon starts to act on the prosciutto pretty quickly). This might actually be on my top ten list of all-time favorite foods. It's so good that I didn't even really miss a glass of a good wine to go with it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Baby favas with chicken and bacon

The other day I went to an organic food store with a friend. I bought what I thought was a container of green beans, but which turned out to be baby favas. I only know one way to deal with fava beans - boil them in salt water (shucked beforehand - in Poland you can buy them already shucked) and eat em. Delicious. But I was willing to try something new. I was, however, resistant to the idea of eating the pods, even if they are allegedly ok when still young. Just didn't appeal to me. The fact that recipes I found suggested grilling them didn't assuage my fears. So I shucked them, which left me with only a few handfuls of wee little beans. This quickly tanked my lofty plans to make several dishes out of them, Iron Chef style.

In the end, having browsed various recipes online, I defrosted 3 slices of the bacon from my cache, chopped them and fried until nearly crispy. Pressed in a few cloves of garlic, stirred, then added some diced chicken rolled in oregano (or maybe thyme. Jury is still out). Once that was nearly cooked, I added the fava beans, stirred, then splashed maybe 1/2 a cup of white wine in and simmered until it was evaporated and everything was cooked through. I served it over polenta with some grated Parmesan, and overall it was pretty decent. In the future though - I'd do it without the favas. They added very little joy. I'll have to find something else to do with those, I guess.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bacon Greeting Cards

Awhile back I was contacted by a representative of Ron Kanfi, the president of Noble Works, a greeting card company, asking me if I'd be willing to review some of their bacon-themed cards on the blog. I agreed, and she sent over a pack.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what occasion calls for a bacon card. Happy Birthday, friend! Have I told you lately how much I love bacon (and you, I guess)? Though come to think of it, I get quite a lot of emails declaring that International Bacon Day is nigh (there seem to be many such days - is there some kind of international committee that regulates such things? They should investigate the Bacon Day issue), so maybe if you're bringing someone a gift of pork on a day that is devoted to it, you could match it with a thematically appropriate card saying Happy Bake-day (wink wink), or Happy Birthday (to Bacon, not you)? I really don't know. I'm actually not big into gift cards myself (though I do love sending postcards when I travel), but Better Half almost always includes them with gifts, which makes me feel like I need to step my game up. Maybe it is more conventional than I realize to have birthday cards that seem to be talking about things totally unrelated to the person or their birthday. Or maybe I could think of these as postcards with a lot more space and an envelope. I dunno.

ANYWAYS. These are very nice cards. Bright, lively colors, and reasonably clever messages. This was my favorite:

But if you go to the Noble Works website - - you'll find that they have lots of cards of all different kinds, many of which have more obvious use than missives pledging love to pork.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Foods Made Better with Bacon

This blog seems to be getting a lot of traffic lately, because I keep getting emails from people with links to things they think my readers (I guess I have some?) might enjoy. I tend to ignore the blatantly commercial stuff (no, major fast-food chain, I do not want to advertise your latest bacon burger. Please stop writing me.), but if something actually looks good, I pass it on.

Suzanne Cullen sent me a link to her list of 25 Foods that are better with bacon, and I have to say, it's a damn good list. Aside from the blue cheese, because I am just not down with blue cheese at all, to the extent that I can't even think about whether they would work well together, I agree with every single thing on there. I've even posted about some of them, or at least I think/hope I have. I don't eat corn on the cob (or any corn in non-popped or corn nut form), but I am pretty confident that it'd taste better with bacon grease.

Anyhow, overall, an excellent list. Thanks for the email, Suzanne!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I was recently contacted by a guy named Nathaniel, who is co-founder of a site called MetaBright. MetaBright is an online community where people post challenges and then users can post their "solutions" to them. It bills itself as a way to "showcase your skills and get better at stuff you're passionate about."The challenges are divided by topic - I was contacted because, of course, they have a bacon section. But they've got other categories too. To be totally frank, I'm not entirely sure how posting a picture of your favorite American food improves any skills other than finding an image online and posting it (though I will say that hats off, finding a bacon-themed coffin is pretty impressive), but it does seem like kind of a fun site to play around on, and Nathaniel seems like a really nice guy, so I wanted to pass on the info for people who might be into it.* Unfortunately, you do need to link either your google or your facebook account to it in order to register - Nathaniel and I exchanged a few emails about that, because I am deeply opposed to the idea, and he was willing to listen and said they are still trying to figure out the best way to balance how closed/open the site will be, which is understandable but doesn't change how I feel about it - but if that doesn't bother you, dive in and get to work!

*If you are reading this and thinking that this means I will also advertise whatever bacon product you sell, you're mistaken. I don't really like advertising stuff on this blog. But if someone mails me free stuff to review, or contacts me with something neat, or emails me and seems like a cool person who I'd like to help out, then I will make an exception. But most of the emails I get seem like they've been written by robots and they really creep me out. And insanely enthusiastic ad copy about the latest burger at a certain fast food chain annoys the crap out of me. You know who you are. Quit it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Pozole

My sweet baby is nothing if not an idea man, and this was definitely one of his better ideas: making pozole on New Year's Day. After girding ourselves with a few bloody mary's from Big Star, and stopping for a few last minute groceries from the miraculously open corner store, we put our pork in a pot with half an onion and set it a-cooking. As it simmered, we catnapped and watched The Princess Bride - another brilliant idea. When the movie was done, the meat was cooked, and we pulled it off the bones and chopped it up. To be totally frank with you, I'm not entirely sure what happened next, because I am still suffering from the deleterious effects of jetlag, and I simply could not stay awake. I roused myself when the soup was basically done, and obediently chopped up the accoutrements for it. A big, hot bowl of this stuff is a meal in itself - a spicy, soul-warming serving of awesome. Happy New Year's!

Pozole Rojo, adapted from Rick Bayless' Mexico One Pot at a Time

1/2-1 pound of pork shoulder
1 pound pig head, chopped into chunks (we were going to get trotters, which is what the recipe calls for, but the nice guys at Butcher and Larder persuaded me that head would be richer and meatier.)
3 cans hominy
1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled and halved
1 large white onion
4 medium dried ancho chiles
2 arbol chiles
1 small cabbage
1 bunch radishes
dried Mexican oregano

Put all the pork in a large pot with half the onion, diced, and cover with 4 quarts of water and a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil, skim off the grayish foam that appears on the surface, and let it cook over medium low heat for about 2 hours. Let it cool in the broth.
Meanwhile, rehydrate the chiles in a little bit of hot water for about 20 minutes. Leave the seeds in if you want it spicier, or remove them if you want it milder. We did about half and half, and ours was pretty fiery. Put them in a blender and puree the ever loving crap out of them.
Remove the meat, pull it off the bones and chop or tear it up. Skim the fat off the top of the pot - lick the spoon off every so often for a little taste of heaven.
Put the two cans of hominy in a small pot with a bit of water and the garlic. Cook for about 20 minutes.
Throw that into the pork broth. Push the pureed chiles through a medium sized strainer. Now that you've got all that combined, add a few cups of water and simmer the soup for 45 minutes or so, reducing it down. Add the meat and simmer another 15 minutes or so.
  Meanwhile, chop up the rest of the onion, rinsing it in cold water. Slice the radishes thin. Cut the lime into wedges. Chop the cabbage into thin ribbons. Chop up an avocado. Set these all out as a kind of buffet, along with a small bowl of the oregano and a pile of tostadas. Let everyone add what they will.