Moving for some can be a traumatic experience. For me, other then looking for a place, which is exhausting, the actual move is cathartic. I am one of those people who likes to purge my belongings, especially when moving. I usually like to get rid of around 50-60% of what I have. I think of it as a way to get new things! I look forward to getting new furniture or items that I want for the new place. I always see it as the new home tells me what is needed. That old dresser may not work anymore. I may only need a side table or a desk. I even get rid of clothes, books and knick knacks. It’s like Christmas for myself. Fun times!!!
I’ve been in my new place for two months now, and I still don’t have furniture, but, I am in no hurry. My room will tell me what I need. I know I will find what I need, when I need it. But as a treat for you all I have been exploring my new neighborhood. So here are few pictures for you to enjoy.
Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper corns, coriander seeds and bayleaf in sauce pan
Heat on medium till salt and sugar dissolve
Let liquid cool
Put peppers and garlic in a jar
Add liquid and put in fridge for 12-24 hours
Peppers should last at least a week.
With summer in full swing the thought of canning seems like a huge chore, not to mention, who wants to heat up jars in a hot kitchen? I have a solution that I’m quickly becoming obsessed with. Quick pickling! All the benefits of canning without using a stove for hours. Not only is it easy, but you get to take advantage of the fresh produce available you can’t get in the fall or winter. We have already pickled carrots, cipollini onions and are already planning much, much more! This week it’s peppers, celery and garlic scapes. Yum!
I love celery!! The taste, the crunch, the smell, yum! I know nutritionally its lacking, but the flavor is undeniable. It adds so much to most dishes that most people probably take it for granted. We use it as an appetizer with cream cheese or peanut butter, as a garnish for color, or to stop the heat from a chicken wing, even adding that crispness to stuffing. Just to name a few. But a celery soup, is a great way to celebrate a sometimes through away vegetable. It’s bursting with flavor and richness that any creamed soup could want. Celery has an important roll in most soups so why not let it shine on its own? I recently had some left over and decided to make my own soup, and I was glad I did. I read up on some recipes and I didn’t have everything they were asking for, so I decided to go with my gut and make my own version. Enjoy!
Breakfast of Champions, or giant gut bomb. It’s hard to decide which is true. Either way huevos rancheros is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember. I love ordering it or making it. Ordering it at a restaurant is by far the easier way, but as you all know I don’t mind spending the time in a kitchen. My challenge is making the perfect ranchero sauce. It has plague me for decades. I have tried many times to get it right. Not always with the best results, but that has not stopped me from trying! And today, I think I have made the best one yet. So good, I have to share it with you.
I fried the tortillas in vegetable oil, and instead of refried beans between the eggs and tortilla, I combined whole black beans and rice. If you don’t have whole beans and rice cooked, then use canned refried beans. The sauce was canned tomatoes and a mix of spices. Pretty simple. After years of making it harder then it needs to be, I just went with my gut. Sorry for the lack of direction, on the sauce, but don’t let that scare you. Sometimes throwing caution to the wind can give great results.
This is a quick and easy sauce. When I made it, as usual I didn't measure. This is a recipe that depends on how you want it to taste. I put about a quarter to half a teaspoon of each spice into the tomatoes. But you may want to alter some of them. I did add less of the chipotle chile then the others as it is very strong.
Refried beans (or combo rice and whole beans)
1 Can of chopped tomatoes
Crushed chipotle chile peppers
Cilantro for garnish
Crumble cheese, set aside
Chop cilantro, set aside
Simmer beans in small sauce pan
Keep an eye on beans, so they don't burn
For Ranchero Sauce
Combine all spices, garlic, salt and pepper into a small sauce pan
Simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes or till the flavors marry.
I love pork shoulder. Well, it’s fair to say I love pork. Be it bacon, ribs, the shoulder, or chops, I’m ready to cook and or eat! Pork shoulder is a pretty easy piece of meat to cook. You either slow roast in the oven or in a crock pot. Although it does take some time, it’s worth every minute. I usually like to make pulled pork tacos with the shoulder. In my mind, which may not be saying much, it’s probably one of the most common ways to have this cut of meat. Most of the time I keep it pretty simple with garlic, salt, pepper and a squeeze of citrus, but this time I added a spice rub to give it that extra oomph. I made this for an Oscar party I convinced some friend give, well the promise of pulled pork tacos really helped. And, everyone loved it! I hope you do too.
Cut excess skin and fat from under side of shoulder
You only need the top part of the skin and fat.
Score the skin
In some of the slits poke holes to put garlic pieces into
Rough chop garlic and place in holes
How to make rub
Add chile powder, salt, pepper and oregano florets to a bowl
On low heat roast cumin seeds and chipotle chile
Roast till cumin gets smokey and chipotle dries out
The jarred chipotle is little sticky thats why you want to roast it.
Also it give is even more smokiness.
Grind cumin seeds and chipotle chiles in mortar and pestle
Add ground cumin and chipotle into bowl with the rest of the rub
Give it a stir and crush the oregano florets
Rub the spices into the scored parts of the pork
Drizzle roasting pan with olive oil
Place pork in oven for 5 - 6 hours
After about 2 hours place a sheet of foil over pork till its done.
It should fall apart with touch and or fork.
I mentioned two ways to cook a pork shoulder. Here you have the oven version. The crock pot version is just as simple, just cut off all the skin. If left on it will be super chewy and not at all appetizing. Next use the same rub but just add it to the pot, you may want to increase the amount and add a bay leaf. Also still you can still poke holes into the meat and put garlic in them. Or rough chop the garlic and add it like the spices. Also you will need water to keep it from drying out. Adding a little orange citrus is nice, but not necessary.
* You should treat this like you would a regular roast*
We are deep in winter, and for me, soups are the cornerstone of comfort food. Everyone has their favorites, be it stew, curry, a roast or a grilled cheese sandwich. But on a cold winter day, just the thought of a cup or bowl of hot soup is enough to warm the body, soul and mind.
This year if you noticed I amped up the soup recipes. I make soups all winter, but always forget to post them, so this year I am making it a point to share my obsession and recipes. I hope you have been enjoying and cooking them. Today we are having, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. It’s a very simple recipe. Perfect for a weeknight after a busy day at work, or a lazy weekend day when you don’t want to do too much. There’s only a couple ingredients and the hardest part is pealing the butternut squash. But, dont let that stop you from making this amazing simple comforting soup.
Potato leek soup is such a staple in restaurants and kitchens that it seems impossible to improve on it. Most of the time it’s potatoes, leeks, stock, cream and buttermilk or just cream. I dont use cream or buttermilk, but add a carrot, celery and garlic. I not sure this is an improvement, but its just way I do it. Like a lot of recipes, it comes from a mistake. I was making a bunch of soups(winter does that to me) and they called for a carrot and celery. So of course I addded them to my potato leek soup. Oops! Not normal. But it was for a dinner party and everyone liked it, so I kept on making it that way, and still do! Of course now I add garlic. Always tweaking the recipe. I can’t help it!
My dear friend Shawn made the most incredible deviled eggs. Well, to be fair, his deep fried deviled eggs are the most incredible. One day I will get that recipe! This recipe is a close second, if I do say so myself. He used our hot sauce, some butter and turn deviled eggs on their head, again. Here is what he did:
He hard boiled eggs, mixed equal parts room temperature butter with the egg yolks, added sautéed garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Grilled the egg whites in the pan that he sautéed the garlic in. Then, put mixture back in egg whites and sprinkled the plate with our Sweet Tart hot sauce to dip the deviled eggs into. Simple but, incredible.
Every once in a while we have some free time at work and I like to make something out of what’s around. As most of you know, this is one of my favorite things to do. We always have a few ingredients lying around, like dough, onions, eggs, among other random items. So on this rare slow day, I decided to put some of these ingredients to use. Well, we did plan this the day before, as we needed a few extra ingredients, but you get the picture. It turned out so good, my colleague’s said I had to write about it. As usual I didn’t really measure, but don’t let that stop you, it’s quite easy to make. This is a recipe for two tarts. We make dough in huge quantities so if you only want one tart cut recipe in half, but use one whole onion. Also, I don’t know how much commercial store bought dough makes, so use your best judgement. Of course homemade dough is best!
What to do with holiday leftovers is as much a tradition as the holidays themselves. So with that in mind, I decided to go along and add a dish to the leftover tradition. We had ham, as do a lot of people. And like lot’s of people, we had lot’s of it left over. After a few days of eating it I was starting to wonder what else besides sandwiches or frying it up with my morning eggs I could do with it. I thought about for a little while and decided a soup would be good. But what kind? My friend said potato and ham. I thought genius, but it needed something else. I then thought bean with bacon! So I thought use the ham, instead of bacon. And our ham, potato and bean soup was born. This was supposed to be a cream soup, but I couldn’t decide whether to blend just the potato, or the beans, or both. As I was cooking, I realized that if I cut some of the potatoes small, and cooked them long enough, the potatoes would start to break down and create a creamy effect. Thus, solving the problem of what to blend. In the end, what I got was a brothy soup with bit of a creamy texture that is simply divine. Enjoy!