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Nov 28, 2015
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Just Five: Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015




We love visiting our friends in Iowa City, Iowa. After several hours in the car, they always have the Manhattans or martinis at the read, and they also manage to have amazing dinners waiting for us. Our most recent trip was no exception. We walked in to warm hugs, chilled martinis and a feast of pork tacos. If you want to gild the lily, quick pickle some red onions in white vinegar with bit of sugar and salt or add some sliced avocado. Note the lack of cheese: You won’t miss it.


Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos
4 to 6 servings

2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. chipotle powder
1 3½-lb. pork shoulder roast
20 small corn tortillas
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup chopped cilantro

• Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Mix the salt and chipotle powder together in a small bowl, then rub it into the pork on all sides.
• Place the pork in a deep roasting pan with a lid, cover and bake 3½ to 4 hours, until it falls apart when you pierce it with a fork. Let rest 15 minutes.
• Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in a skillet over medium-high heat until soft. Place on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.
• Use 2 forks to shred the pork. Fill each tortilla with meat, garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice and serve immediately.

Prefer to set it and forget it? Make this in a slow cooker on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours.

Cooking the Classics: Baked Ham

Thursday, November 19th, 2015



If your holiday isn’t complete without a beautiful glazed ham, call your butcher shop this year and place an order for uncooked country ham instead of a bagged, precooked option. They’re a bit more work, so we turned to Juniper chef-owner John Perkins to guide us through the days of soaking, baking and glazing to make a proper country ham worth the wait.

Don’t freak out, but when you remove the ham from the packaging, it might have some mold on it. Like an aged cheese, a little mold is normal. Place the ham in a large pot (or new cooler) and cover it with cold water – it has to soak at least 24 to 48 hours. Change the water every eight hours or so to properly leach the salt from the ham. After 12 to 24 hours, remove it and scrape off any mold with a knife. Rinse the ham, place it back into the pot and cover with fresh water to soak another 24 hours, changing the water every eight hours.

After soaking, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the ham thoroughly and place it on a rack in a roasting pan filled with 1 to 2 inches of water and 1 roughly chopped onion. Tent the ham tightly with foil and bake 20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 163 degrees. Let the ham rest at room temperature 1 hour, then remove as much of the skin as you can. Start at the hock (the small end) and trim away the tough outer skin, leaving as much fat as possible on the ham. (There is no need to score before you glaze since the skin has been removed.)

Now it’s time to glaze. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, baste the ham with your preferred glaze (recipes p. 41), and bake 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and continue to baste as it cools.

Ham is tastiest served slightly warm or at room temperature. To present the ham, first cut a slice from the bottom to make a flat base. Start about 2 inches from the hock and make a cut straight through to the bone. From there, make thin parallel cuts perpendicular to the bone. To release the slices, cut parallel along the bone from the small end. Wham, bam, thank you, ham.

Save that bone to add depth to a pot of greens or beans. Once completely cool, wrap the bone tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of foil, then toss it in the freezer. Bone-in, uncooked country ham ($4 per pound) is available at Kenrick’s Meat Market and Catering.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Cooking the Classics: Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015



Nothing says love like a big bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy. Every family has its favorite rendition of this classic dish, and even the pros disagree about some things. Kevin Nashan, chef-owner of Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. and Sidney Street Cafe, prefers a rough mash of partially peeled, small red potatoes or fingerlings. Gerard Craft, chef-owner of Niche Food Group, goes for a smooth puree of russet potatoes. Nashan seasons his water; Craft doesn’t. But lumpy or whipped, fingerlings or russets, milk or cream, there are some things all good mashers can agree upon. Here, 6 steps to the perfect mash.

1. Cut about 3 pounds potatoes (such as russet, fingerling or small red potatoes) into equal 1½ – to 2-inch cubes.

2. Place those spuds in a very large pot of cold water and give them room to dance with 1 inch of water above them. Set the pot over medium-high heat.

3. Put a fork in it. Three pounds of potatoes cooked over medium-high take about 30 to 35 minutes. When a fork goes in easily or breaks the potato, drain immediately. If the potatoes fight back, continue to cook, checking every 5 minutes. Pay attention: Overcooked potatoes make a soupy mash.

4. Burn calories while you mash. The paddle attachment on a stand mixer works, but it is easy to go from perfection to glue when using appliances. Keep it old-school with a wire masher and leave some lumps, if you’re into that. If you like a silky-smooth texture, use a potato ricer.

5. Use about 1 stick melted butter and ½ cup milk, half-and-half or cream for every 3 pounds potatoes. Always warm the butter and liquid before adding them.

6. Don’t be bland. Add salt and white pepper to taste – start with 1 teaspoon salt and a couple grinds of pepper and go from there. Other additions may include roasted garlic, creme fraiche or sour cream and, of course, cheese. Try mascarpone, goat cheese, cheddar or Parmesan. You can also add a little chicken or beef stock diluted in warm milk.

Pro tip: Making your potatoes ahead of time? Hold them up to 4 hours in a slow cooker on low. Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter and ¼ cup warm milk into the slow cooker insert before adding the mashed potatoes, then cover. Stir well before serving.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Just Five: Roast Chicken Bread

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015


There are countless roast chicken recipes flying around online. I recently read two that offered up even more methods to achieve the perfect bird. One suggested that the “traditional” method of roasting breast-side up was passe; the other shared a brilliant method of cooking the bird atop slices of sourdough bread. Both sounded like great ideas, so I combined them, and voilà – a stellar Sunday dinner.

Starting the chicken breast-side down, then flipping it about halfway proved the perfect combination of roasting methods. It kept the white meat from drying out, but finishing it breast-side up gave me the crispy skin I love. Its bed of sourdough resulted in a chewy, crisp delicious treat that overrode the need to serve another starch with the meal. Vegetarians, be warned: My veg daughter was sorely tempted to “cheat” when this succulent bird hit the table (Don’t worry – she didn’t!).


Roast Chicken Bread
Inspired by an Epicurious recipe 
4 servings

1 loaf sourdough
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 4-to-5-lb. chicken
2 large shallots, sliced
½ lemon
8 fresh sage leaves

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Cut the bread into 1½ inch-thick slices and place them in the bottom of a roasting pan in a single layer. Drizzle the bread with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Reserve any remaining bread for another use.
• Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry inside and out. Season the cavity with 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then place the shallots, lemon and 6 sage leaves inside. Carefully slide a finger under the skin of each breast and tuck the remaining 2 sage leaves under the skin. Season the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon salt, then tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Let rest 30 minutes.
• Place the chicken breast-side down on top of the bread. Roast 30 minutes.
• Use tongs to carefully remove the chicken from the roasting pan and set aside. Flip the bread slices. Return the chicken to the roasting pan breast-side up and continue to roast 45 minutes, until a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees.
• Let rest 10 minutes before removing the kitchen twine and carving. Serve with the roasted bread slices.



Just Five: Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015



This simple vegetarian recipe is a great dish to serve before sending your goblins out to trick-or-treat, but it’s also sophisticated enough to serve as a starter for a grown-up Halloween party. Roasting the carrots brings out their natural sugars, the ginger adds just a hint of sweet pepperiness, and the coconut milk adds a silky texture and just a hint of the tropics. Start your evening in the carrot patch, and you’ll feel less guilty unwrapping those fun-size Snickers for dessert.

Roasted Carrot-Ginger Soup
4 to 6 servings

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
3 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
½ cup full-fat coconut milk

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• In a large bowl, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread them a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until they start to brown.
• Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 8 minutes, until translucent. Add the ginger and cook 1 minute, then add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
• Add the roasted carrots to the pot, cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Use an immersion blender or work in batches with a regular blender to carefully puree the soup until smooth. Add more stock to thin to reach desired consistency.
• Return the soup to the pot over low heat and stir in the coconut milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.



Make This: Tropical Pancakes

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015



Put down that breakfast bar. This tropical, gluten-free spin on the banana-based pancake fad proves there’s always time for a homemade, healthy morning nosh. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk 1 egg and 1 ripe banana until combined. Stir in 1 tablespoon shredded unsweetened coconut, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, a pinch of baking powder and a pinch of kosher salt. In a skillet over medium heat, melt a pat of butter and spoon about 2 tablespoons batter per pancake into the pan. Cook until golden brown and flip carefully with a thin spatula, about 1 minute per side. Top with equal parts maple syrup and crushed pineapple and serve.

-photo by Greg Rannells  

Just Five: Marinated 7-Minute Eggs

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015



Most chefs in this town love their jobs and are all too happy to share their ideas and recipes. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Lucky Buddha chef René Cruz after a weeknight dinner. I had just slurped up a bowl of Cruz’s ramen, adding a soy sauce-marinated egg that was so delicious, I begged him to share his recipe.

A ramen egg is usually a seven-minute egg – one simmered for exactly seven minutes – resulting in a cooked white and a slightly wiggly, gooey yolk, not runny like a soft-boiled egg. They are then marinated in a potent brew of flavors and ingredients that vary from chef to chef.

Lucky Buddha’s soy-marinated egg has a few more than five ingredients, so I made some tough choices, but I ended up with a delightful treat. These eggs are great as a snack with sake bombs, sliced over a spinach salad or as a savory breakfast with rice and green onions.


Marinated 7-Minute Eggs
1 serving
Adapted from a recipe from Lucky Buddha’s René Cruz

2 eggs
1 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped ginger

• In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and sugar. Microwave 30 seconds and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the rice vinegar and ginger, then set aside.
• Prepare an ice water bath. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Carefully place the eggs in the water and boil 7 minutes. Remove the eggs and plunge into the ice water bath. Let rest until cool enough to handle, 3 to 5 minutes.
• Peel the eggs and place them in a zip-top bag with the soy mixture. Refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours. Serve with stir-fried noodles, ramen, on a spinach salad or with rice and green onions.

Just Five: Cauliflower Fritters

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015



As you may know, I not only pen this column, but also write a regular column for the print issue of Sauce Magazine, Make This. These recipes only require one to two steps and can be tossed together in less than 10 minute with minimal ingredients. Yep, I keep things simple in the kitchen – but simple ain’t always easy.

My goal with that column is to break down recipes to their basic elements and still retain flavor. Former executive editor Ligaya Figueras originally suggested these cauliflower fritters as a Make This recipe. Alas, I quickly realized there was no way to make it work without steaming the cauliflower first – the texture of raw cauliflower was horrible. Since so many steps are a Make This deal breaker, so this recipe moved to my Just Five file.

These fritters are a marriage of roasted cauliflower and latkes, two dishes my family loves. Cauliflower is a great substitute for roasted potatoes, and these are far quicker to make than traditional latkes. Serve them on a bed of lightly dressed arugula or with sour cream mixed with parsley and chives.


Cauliflower Fritters
8 to 10 servings

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 to 5 cups)
½ cup flour
½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup water
¼ cup chopped shallot
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

• Place a steamer basket in a large pot with a few inches of water in the bottom over medium-high heat. Steam the cauliflower 6 to 7 minutes, until fork-tender. Remove and immediately rinse cold water.
•Chop cauliflower into small pieces, but not quite minced and place in a large bowl. Add the flour, Parmesan, water, shallot, eggs, salt and pepper and mix well.
• Add the oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Scoop ¼ cup batter into the skillet, pressing gently with a spoon to flatten to ½-inch thick. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, then flip and fry another 2 to three minutes. Remove and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
• Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Make This: 3-Minute Honey-Almond Cake

Saturday, September 19th, 2015



Sometimes, it’s all you can do to throw stuff in a cup and nuke it. Make someone’s day a touch sweeter in minutes with this mug cake. Whisk together 4 tablespoons flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon almond extract in a coffee mug. Gently fold in 1 tablespoon sliced almonds and 1 additional teaspoon honey. Microwave 1 minute. If still wet, microwave 15 more seconds. Serve warm.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Just Five: Apples with Honey-Caramel Dip

Monday, September 14th, 2015



I’m not Jewish, but I thought I was growing up. We belonged to the Jewish Community Center, and it had a great pool, which in my 3-year-old mind was a perfectly good reason to adopt the culture. I went to dozens of bar and bat mitzvahs in my early years, and my Jewish friends often invited me to their homes for holiday meals. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around the culinary traditions surrounding the High Holy Days, like dipping apples into honey at Rosh Hashana to symbolize the sweet year to come. To all my Jewish readers: I wish you a sweet 5776. L’shana tova!

Apples with Honey-Caramel Dip
2 to 4 servings

1 cup honey
¼ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
Sliced apples

• In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey and cream and stir to combine. Stir in the butter, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature and serve with sliced apples.


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