Monday, February 13, 2012

How I'm roasting chicken right now

The bird comes from Little Red Hen now. They are just too good, in every way. I split it and roast 1/2 at a time. The other half I freeze for another night. There's only 2 of us and somehow still always leftovers, even with cooking just half at a time. Turn the oven up to 450 and let my cast iron pan heat up with it. Dry the chicken, rub on olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe paprika. When the oven and pan are hot, in it goes, cut side down. After 15-20 minutes (depending on size of the chicken) I turn off the oven and let it stay there for another 15 minutes. It is done perfectly every time.
 If I want veggies--wedge half a red onion, some carrots, always garlic cloves (still in their peel), dress them in just a little olive oil. Nudge them in under the chicken after about 10 minutes of cooking. This time I added fresh shittake mushrooms too, but a bit later on--maybe at the 20 minute mark. They came out crispy yet tender. 
 I barely know what to do with myself now, but how can you not love a dinner that basically makes itself?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Momofuku Bo Ssam

My parents got us a NY Times Sunday subscription for Christmas (and it is fabulous, every Sunday morning we tune out completely for a couple hours to drink coffee, listen to the bizarre reggae show on 88.5, and read the paper, it's heaven.) and a couple weeks ago they had a recipe from Momofuku. I have never been to Momofuku, and I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to it. This recipe offered melty roasted pork cooked in a salty-sugar crust that you basically just pull apart and eat all rolled up in lettuce leaves with tangy sauces. Pretty great! I tore it out and saved it for a week or so, analog style. 
Now, observe: 1.) any given pork butt is way too big for just us to eat on our own; 2.) the actual eating of this meal sounds fun and communal; 3.) the recipe is wicked easy and basically fail-proof. This adds up to a recipe tailor-made for a casual dinner was super fun and everyone freaked out about how yummy it was.
Here's the recipe, more or less as God and the January 15, 2012 Times Magazine intended it:
Pork Butt:
1 whole pork butt [they said 8-10 lbs; I used about 7 lbs.]
1 cup each [!] sugar and kosher salt
Mix the sugar and the salt; rub all over your pork butt. Put said pork butt in the fridge, wrapped in plastic, at least 6 hours, or overnight which is what I did.
The next day, turn the oven to 300 and put the pork in there in a roasting pan for about 6 hours.
The best thing is how the recipe now says "meanwhile, make the sauces." These two sauces will take you approximately 10 minutes to make. Count on having 5 hours and 50 minutes to "meanwhile" on something else. For example, I cleaned the house and studied some Supreme Court nuttery for school. Here's the two sauces:
Ginger-scallion sauce:
Mix 2 1/2 cups thin sliced scallions with 1/2 cup minced fresh ginger, 1/4 cup oil [I used peanut; they recommended grapeseed, fight!], 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Ssam sauce:
Mix 2 tablespoons ssamjang paste with 1 tablespoon kochujang, 1/2 cup sherry vinegar, and 1/2 cup oil [see above]. Ssamjang is a fermented bean-chili paste. You'll need to go to an Asian market for it; ditto kochujang, which is a Korean chili paste. They are totally worth having around; you will find a thousand delicious uses for them.
To accompany the roasted pork butt you'll have both these sauces, plus white rice (2 cups, cooked), and several heads of Bibb lettuce to wrap it all up in. Kimchi is good in there too.
 When you are close to being ready to eat, take out the pork. It should be really soft and falling apart to the touch. Stir together 1 tablespoon salt with 7 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub it all over the pork and put it back in the oven, crank it up to 500 and let it get dark and caramel-sticky for about 10 minutes. It should have a really nice, dark crust all over. Pull it out, get all the accompaniments in little bowls, call your friends and eat. You just pull off bits of pork, stuff it into lettuce leaves, and add sauces as you like. It's ridiculously good and a lot of fun.
Here's a link to the actual article in the New York Times, if you want to see a really trustworthy version of what I just told you and if you haven't hit your paywall for the month yet. Their pictures, of course,  are nice too.

Monday, February 06, 2012

There and back again

Super simple lunch time. Black beans--2 cups dried soaked in very hot tap water for 30 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water (probably at least 4-5 cups) and bring to a boil with 2 tablespoons epazote (can be hard to find but here, Penzey's can explain it) and 2 cloves of garlic, crushed. Let simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Drain, but reserve a cup or so of the cooking liquid. Saute 1/2 onion (and I had a little bit of carrot in there too but only because it needed using up) in oil or butter then put the beans back in with their cooking liquid. Stir often and let cook for 10 minutes, then stir in 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar plus a drizzle of soy sauce and a splash of hot sauce, if you like hot sauce. Add salt to taste and stir it all really well together to combine.
Meanwhile cook 2 cups quinoa in 3+ cups water. I've noticed that quinoa lies somewhere between couscous (1:1) and rice (1:2) in the ratio of solid to liquid as far as cooking goes. Bring it to a boil with a little salt and a pat of butter, then turn to simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. 

For lunch--a scoop of the quinoa and a scoop of the black beans, topped with chunks of queso fresco or whatever tangy cheese you have in the fridge. Add cilantro, hot sauce, leftover pulled pork, a hard-boiled can go on like this all week long...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sugar-jojoba lip exfolliant

I know this isn't a recipe like I usually do, but hey, it's what I've been up to lately and I'm into it so I think I should share!
Lip exfolliant! It's winter, you are dry and sad and your lipstick looks crusty because your lips are weathered! Mix a couple teaspoons of sugar with a few drops of jojoba oil until it forms a gritty paste. Rub it on your lips enthusiastically and rinse off gently.
The jojoba oil will moisturize like whoa and the sugar will take off dead skin. You look great.

Clementine panna cotta

Guess what? The most delicious dessert in the world is also the super easiest thing to make! How often does that happen?
Phil's boss was coming for dinner (doesn't that sound retro for some reason?) and I was going full-on Italian for the main course so I thought panna cotta sounded really good. It's yet another example of cultural culinary cross-pollination--it's basically vanilla pudding...or flan..or crème brûlée, sans the brûlée. I made my version with zest and juice from clementines because I love winter citrus right now. At the end I drizzled a little honey that had been melted together with orange liqueur right over the top for extra flavor. Start by sprinkling one packet of unflavored gelatin over 3 tablespoons water. Let it stand while you take care of everything else--it should absorb for 5-10 minutes.
Now heat up 1/3 cup of sugar with 3 cups heavy cream. Yes, that sounds insane, just typing it down here. Three cups of cream! You must be out of your damn mind. Substitute in a cup half-and-half to help make up the 3 cups, if it makes you feel better. I'm pretty sure that's what I did.
Heat it up quite hot, almost to a boil, until the sugar has all dissolved. Zest in your clementine and squeeze in some juice too. If, let's say, you wanted to make it cardamom flavored instead, or maybe vanilla-ginger or something, this is where you'd add those flavors. I just stuck with the citrus but it's a really great blank canvas.Remove it from heat and pour over the gelatin mixture.
Stir it all up until completely can see here how it is already getting thickened.
Now! You have probably ordered panna cotta at a restaurant and it came out all cute and molded onto a plate and topped with berries or something. That's a lovely way to do it and if you want to go the molded custard route, go ahead and grease up some ramekins so they will unmold properly after the panna cotta has set. But! If you are lazy and/or afraid of unmolding something and having it break right before the boss comes to dinner, go ahead and pour it into cute cups instead and skip the unmolding part.
Here's my cute cups. My bestie Jocelyn and I accidentally stole them from a roommate when we were very young and lived in a huge dirty old house with a bajillion other people.
I feel kind of bad about it now but it was a really long time ago.
I think it would be weird to track him down on Facebook and return them at this point, right?
I had a bunch leftover so the rest went into espresso cups and came to work with me the next day. Teeny espresso cups are perfect for panna cotta! So cute.
They chill for at least 2 hours. Mine went overnight--this really is the perfect make-ahead dessert!
And for a drizzle on top--I heated up 2 tablespoon honey with 1 tablespoon orange liqueur...
And just spooned it over the top in a puddle.
A little twist of clementine peel on the very top et voila! You are done with dessert.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bacon brittle

This is crispy, salty, sweet and ultra-easy! It's also an excellent way to get more bacon into your daily diet. I think it would make a great holiday treat to hand out--it's also amazing without the bacon so don't let that deter you...though bacon is so rarely a deterrent.Fry up a couple pieces of bacon and set aside. I used 4 slices of fairly thick cut fancy local bacon so you may need more of thinner bacon. Meanwhile melt together 1/2 cup brown sugar with 2 sticks of butter. After the butter melts down, bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 2 minutes. By now you should have some crispy bacon...ready to be crumbled/chopped up.
And you'll need a heaping cup of nuts...I chopped up a bunch of pecans but you can also use sliced almonds. Pecans go really well with bacon though.
Now get a sheet of parchment paper and lay it over a rimmed baking sheet. Find your graham crackers and lay them out in a more-or-less single layer to cover the whole pan.
And sprinkle over your pecans...then make an even covering of bacon over the nuts.
Now pour your butter-sugar mixture over the top of that! Like a toffee. This can be hard to do evenly so just keep drizzling until you think you hit every nook and cranny.
Then you bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minuites, let it cool for about an hour--then break it up into squares! If you didn't use any bacon (and maybe even if you did) a sprinkle of sea salt over the top gives it that addictive sweet-salty crunch. Make them today!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Arugula-pepper frittata

I had tons of arugula and noticed on Information Is Beautiful's taste buds graphic that it would be good with this simple and luscious frittata was the answer! It's good warm or at room temperature and makes a perfect cocktail hour snack as well as dinner. I used 1 big poblano pepper plus two small jalapenos, but you can use any combination of long green peppers with good flavor that you like--maybe anaheim or something. Start by preheating your oven to 350.
Cut the peppers into super thin strips.
And saute them in a little olive oil in a big pan over medium high heat until they are getting soft.
Add in 1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onion and continue to saute until all are very soft--probably about 6 minutesGet about 6 cups will seem like a ton but it cooks down into zero, trust.Chop it up and add it into the pan with the peppers and saute until wilty.That will take pretty much no time at all--the arugula cooks very quickly.Meanwhile, combine 5 eggs with salt, pepper and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.Beat them all together pretty well...
And add in all your veggies. You can add a couple of dabs of goat cheese in if you want as well--I thought that was pretty tasty.Meanwhile, heat up a heaping tablespoon of butter in a 10" pan that can go in the oven. After the butter is hot, pour in your vegetable-egg mixture, don't stir it all all, and let it cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
It will get a bit more solid.
After 10 minutes on the stovetop, transfer it to the 350 degree oven for 5 more minutes.
After you pull it out, let it sit for 1 or two minutes, then flip the pan over on a cutting board to pop the fritatta out. Mine got kind of browned because I made it in cast iron, but I think it was awesome that way.Cut it all into wedges and add a sprinkle of kosher salt over the top.
Like I said--it's great at room temperature too so a perfect ahead of time appetizer, if you cut it into cute strips or something. Or just a couple big slices for a healthy dinner.