Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Four loads of laundry, two batches of chicken broth (one for egg-lemon celeriac and carrot soup, and one for the freezer), one soba noodle, French lentil, and swiss chard main dish, and one glass of Maker’s Mark later, I’m now comfortably writing on my couch, cat elongated next to me, the Olympics playing in the background, writing about cabbage, collard greens, and blood orange coleslaw from last week’s pulled pork feast.
Everyone around me is sick lately. Norwalk virus is skulking invisibly through Marymount and Juilliard, leaving dehydrated, weak, and nauseous students in its wake, and students and teachers alike are sneezing and sniffling through classes, having succumbed to the common cold. I’ve managed to stay healthy, and eating cabbage may be the secret.
Eat more cabbage!
Along with other cruciferous vegetables, it is purported to reduce cancer risks (especially lung, stomach and colon) by as much as 69 percent, and according to new studies, signals genes to create more enzymes that are responsible for detoxification of the body. It is rich in vitamin C, a known antioxidant, and a powerful immune system booster. With just three servings a week, you’ll lower your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast cancer. If cabbage isn’t your thing, other cruciferous vegetables provide similar protection, so it’s wise to add more collard greens, brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli or cauliflower to your diet.
You should listen to me, you snifflers; I haven’t been sick in over a year. (She says, touching wood, cabbage slaw in belly...)
Cabbage, Collard Greens, Red Onion, and Blood Orange Coleslaw
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
4 or 5 collard green leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 blood oranges, supremed
1 teaspoon celery seed
*homemade mayonnaise (optional -- if not using, add some olive oil, instead)
a bit of apple cider vinegar and maple syrup or sugar, if desired
Combine the first five ingredients. If using, add a little mayonnaise to combine. Splash in a bit of apple cider vinegar, and, if you like, add some maple syrup, or agave syrup, or sugar, to balance the acidity. (I didn’t add any additional sweetener, as the oranges were enough for me, and instead of plain apple cider vinegar, I used a bit of the barbecue sauce that I made for the pork.)
*Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe
1 egg yolk, room temperature
unflavored oil, such as grapeseed, or canola, about a cup, also at room temperature
lemon juice, to taste
Whisk the egg yolk alone, and then, a few drops at a time, and very slowly, add the oil, whisking constantly, until the color of the yolk changes, and the oil incorporates with the egg, forming an emulsion. Continue adding the oil, slowly, and in a steady stream, until all is incorporated. Whisk in the lemon juice and the salt.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Pulled pork barbecue with vinegar sauce is one of my favorite foods, and evokes images of sultry, humid, North Carolina days, kudzu coiling around tree branches, and bottomless glasses of sweet iced tea. But pulled pork barbecue in the middle of winter? Indoors? Yes, you can.
All you need is this Cook’s Illustrated recipe, a nice five pound boneless pork shoulder (mine came from Aberdeen Hill Farms via my food coop), some spices, and a little bit of time. After the success of the trial run, this is a recipe I’ll now make in larger quantities to relive Southern memories with college friends, and to introduce barbecue neophytes to the porky umami deliciousness that is this easy, smoky barbecue, and not that far from the barbecue I used to devour at Allen and Son Barbecue in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
In three short months I have to pull on a very attractive flesh colored unitard, and dance around onstage again in Boris Charmatz’s 50 Years of Dance when the piece tours to Amsterdam and Berlin. Eating fatty bbq and looking good in a flesh colored unitard is an oxymoron, but the aroma of smoky paprika mingling with this slow-roasted pork shoulder banished all skinny thoughts of salads, dance class, and the stationary bike. Winter’s for indulging, and we are in the thick of it.
I made an improvised version of coleslaw to go with the pork, and in addition to cabbage, I added a few chopped raw collard greens, blood oranges, and mixed them together with some homemade mayonnaise (next week's blog entry, this slaw). I don’t like coleslaw as a condiment to my sandwich, as some Southerners do, but on the side it provided a nice crunchy counter to the richness of the pork, and the blood oranges, while adding some bright color, also sweetly balanced out the vinegar present both in the sauce for the pork, and in the slaw. Sunday Southern brunch in my Brooklyn apartment. Who knew? Next time I'm making hush puppies, too; flesh colored unitard be damned.
Indoor Pulled Pork Barbecue Recipe
from Cook's Illustrated Magazine Jan/Feb 2010
Note from Banu: I made a version of the Lexington, NC vinegar sauce (listed among others, below) with only two tablespoons of ketchup and a splash of Tabasco, some minced garlic, and a little onion juice for more flavor. I also made a sauce with no tomato product at all, Eastern Carolina style, containing, simply, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and some of the defatted juices leftover from cooking the pork. I actually preferred the first sauce I made (sorry Eastern North Carolinians!), as the vinegar was tamed by a bit of sugar and a little water, and I didn’t mind a little ketchup in the sauce for color. In any case, a vinegar based sauce is the way to go with pork; they are a perfect match.
Note: Sweet paprika may be substituted for smoked paprika. Covering the pork with parchment and then foil prevents the acidic mustard from eating holes in the foil. Serve the pork on hamburger rolls with pickle chips and thinly sliced onion. Alternatively, use 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce thinned with 1/2 cup of the defatted pork cooking liquid. The shredded and sauced pork can be cooled, tightly covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat it gently before serving.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons table salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 boneless pork butt (aka pork shoulder, about 5 lbs), cut in half horizontally
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (you can substitute sweet)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dissolve 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons liquid smoke in 4 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge pork in brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
While pork brines, combine mustard and remaining 2 teaspoons liquid smoke in small bowl; set aside. Combine black pepper, paprika, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and cayenne pepper in second small bowl; set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
Remove pork from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub mustard mixture over entire surface of each piece of pork. Sprinkle entire surface of each piece with spice mixture. Place pork on wire rack set inside foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Place sheet of parchment paper over pork, then cover with aluminum foil, sealing edges to prevent moisture from escaping. Roast pork for 3 hours.
Remove pork from oven; remove and discard foil and parchment. Carefully pour off liquid in bottom of baking sheet into a fat separator (or spoon off the fat with a ladle until a light film remains, and then gently use a paper towel to soak up the remaining fat from the surface of the pan juices) and reserve the pan juices for the sauce. Return pork to oven and cook, uncovered, until well browned, tender, and internal temperature registers 200 degrees on instant read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer pork to serving dish; tent loosely with foil, and rest for 20 minutes.
To serve: Using 2 forks, shred pork into bite-sized pieces. Toss with one cup sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.
Lexington Vinegar Barbecue Sauce
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketcup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with 1/2 cup defatted cooking liquid and whisk to combine.
South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with 1/2 cup defatted cooking liquid and whisk to combine.
Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup light or mild molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
While pork rests, pour 1/2 cup of defatted cooking liquid from fat separator into medium bowl; whisk in sauce ingredients.
Pulled Pork Bbq
Saturday, February 13, 2010
“I love your color scheme! Happy Valentine’s Day!” This stranger may be as close as I get to a Valentine this year, a man who cupped his hands around his mouth to yell from across 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, and comment on my everyday brown coat, deep red leather gloves, and maroon patterned purse I was carrying while accomplishing Saturday’s errands. I was doing the usual grocery shopping, taking the requisite weekend trip to my neighborhood antique store, and to the Brooklyn Flea, on the perennial search for the elusive metal (or mirrored Deco) desk, and visiting the hardware store for paint swatches to confirm my suspicions that vivid teal behind my grass green couch is a perfectly acceptable choice, my apartment’s reds and oranges and myriad patterns notwithstanding. If my Valentine’s right, I’ve got a way with color.
Last week New York City was silenced by snow. Juilliard and Marymount canceled classes, so, on my snow day, I made cinnamon rolls. I have been craving the real deal cinnamon roll for a while now, and when I saw these dreamy pictures on a blog I read, out came the mixing bowls, the yeast and the flour. I am a problem baker. This time it was expired yeast, the culprit. Yeast expires? Well, yes, it does. And you used it still? Well, yes, I did. I have conducted an experiment, and now I know: science will not be fooled. If you use expired yeast, your cinnamon rolls will not rise. They will not rise, and the resulting dense, mini-buns may taste all right, but the texture’s nothing to do with the fluffy dreaminess in the pictures.
But I don’t care about those failed buns anymore; I’ve already moved on. There’s a pork shoulder roast in my refrigerator, waiting to be brined, that holds my heart’s affection. Tomorrow I am making indoor pulled pork barbeque, North Carolina style, and I know the day of brining, slow pork cooking, cabbage slaw making, and barbeque sauce marinating will put to rest the bad memories of those difficult cinnamon rolls. Who needs a Valentine when you’ve got a slow-cooked, spicy, pulled-pork sandwich to grip between your fingers and savor between your lips? Aw, yeah...
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll Recipe
Note from Banu: I am reluctant to provide my recipe here, since mine didn’t turn out so well, and since I improvised more than simply using old yeast (in the interest of a healthier roll, maple syrup for sugar, walnut oil for butter), it’s possible that there were many factors that led to the rock hard buns. So, that in mind, I am providing the links here and here that I used in my adapted recipe, and from those, perhaps you will be able to make a fluffy cinnamon roll, like the one from my dreams. And, if anyone has a fool-proof recipe (healthyish recipe preferred) for cinnamon rolls, I’d love to hear about it; I'm a staunch believer in giving second chances.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I’ve been in a Carolina frame of mind lately. Never mind that Chapel Hill was hit with eight inches of snow over the past couple of days, generally, at this time of year, the weather is easing up, and in the next month, spring arrives, with its colorful azaleas, heather, and rhododendrons dotting the campus and the lawns of the recessed houses that line Franklin Street. I spent four years in North Carolina while I was in college, and making this recipe sent me right back to that time, to Chapel Hill, and to Crook’s Corner, the restaurant that popularized Bill Neal’s now famous shrimp and grits.
As I was cooking, I remembered things in non-sequiturs: I remembered hearing the story from my roommate, Ericka, who, while working at Crook’s Corner, dumped a pitcher of ice water on the head of her ex-boyfriend as she served him and the girlfriend he left her for, and I remember my later boyfriend, Timothy, telling me about the Mexican cooks there who would eat whole jalapeños with their morning coffee, something I think of every time I toast red chiles to put on my cheese toast for breakfast. Coffee and jalapeños may be another perfect combination, the morning version of red wine and chocolate.
I remembered taking off in the middle of the night to visit the primate research center at Duke forest in my roommate’s Alfa Romeo convertible because she left us the keys, and because our friend Mike thought we should, and driving to Durham to eat at Wimpy’s Grill for lunch with my then boyfriend George, which may have been the trip that began my interest in traveling distances for the tastiest whatever-it-is I’m craving.
I remember seeing bands at the Cat’s Cradle, crashing frat parties, working at Pizza Hut and the Carolina Coffee Shop, eating black bean chili nearly everyday at Rosemary Street Cafe (and Pepper’s Pizza on the off days), having crushes on boys in bands, and boys in class, and boys playing hacky sack in The Pit, and studying about biology (but not too intently), and hoping I wouldn’t fail genetics. I remember house parties where the Pixies and fIREHOSE were playing on the stereo, and The Veldt and Dillon Fence were playing live, and I remember feeling trepidatious going into Schoolkids Records to buy a cassette tape (tape!) because the people working there were intimidating in the New York Kim’s Video kind of way.
I remember my purple plastic dinosaur key chain, and the red plaid mini-skirt I used to wear with fishnet stockings and pointy buckled shoes, and only top-lid black liquid eye-liner for makeup -- real deal 80s wear. I remember borrowing a silky antique robe, and, while wearing it, making nutritional yeast crusted tofu sandwiches for lunch with Michael, my boyfriend, the long-haired boy who worked at the vintage clothing store Time After Time. And I remember sweet iced tea, and Time Out’s disgustingly appealing Bucket O’ Bones that we used to eat after nights at Molly’s, and boys nodding to me with respect when we passed on the street, and everyone’s sugary hellos, and, coming from the North, being surprised when people answered “yes ma’am”, and “no sir”, to the professors in class, and sounded smart even with their Southern accents.
I thought I was so grown up then. And now, I make Bill Neal’s shrimp and grits for the first time in years, and at 40, I’m cooking in my supposed grown-up kitchen. Now, a non-grown-up grown-up, I am aware that I haven’t figured anything out, and I’m simply relaxing into the absurd and unpredictable voyage, with a warm bowl of shrimp and grits and these wonderful memories.
Bill Neal’s Shrimp and Grits Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
2 cups water
One 14 1/2 ounce can chicken broth
3/4 cup half and half
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup stone ground grits
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 slices bacon
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil, in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits; reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, according to time on package. When the grits are done, stir in the cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients, stirring until cheeses are melted. Cover and set aside, but keep warm.
While the grits are cooking, fry in bacon in a large skillet, until crisp. Set aside on paper towel and reserve 1 tablespoon of drippings in skillet. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and set aside. In the bacon drippings, saute the mushrooms about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the scallions and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes, until the shrimp begin to brown. Stir in the chicken broth, lemon juice, garlic, and hot sauce, and continue to cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen brown bits from skillet. Divide the grits into 4 large, shallow bowls, ladle the shrimp mixture over the grits, and top each with crumbled bacon. Serve with lemon wedges.
Note from Banu: I wanted to keep the shrimp looking beautiful, so I cooked them separately in a little butter and olive oil, and then added them to the top of the grits and mushroom sauce mixture. Also, I found that 2 tablespoons of lemon juice was a little much, so I'd decrease this amount, or add it slowly, to taste.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
It was frigid in New York this past weekend, and minus the snow, reminded me of weekends in Chicago, where, after hearing whatever hideous number below freezing the temperature would reach, and whatever unbelievable number of inches above twelve the snow would hit, I’d hibernate in my apartment with guilty pleasure DVDs and food to cook up into comforting meals. I wasn’t prepared enough for this past weekend’s freeze, and was caught with nothing fresh in the fridge, and only a few pantry items, but still managed to make a filling and savory, warming soup with what I had lying around.
Leftover from the chicken pie I made a couple weeks ago, I had two chicken breasts and some chicken broth in the freezer, and, in the pantry, after a little rummaging, I found dried chanterelle mushrooms, and a half-empty bag of spelt. I love spelt for its soft inside and crunchy outside texture; it has a squeaky clean kind of feeling to the tooth, probably because of its low gluten content. It feels substantial and filling, but without the gooeyness present in rice. When I opened the bag of earthy mushrooms I detected a faint cinnamon fragrance, which gave me an idea. I’d make chicken soup with cinnamon, spelt, and chanterelle mushrooms, and spicy chiles added to ramp up the temperature on this day, a day where even indoors, and wearing my wooliest woolen socks and my cashmereiest cashmere sweater, I was still shivering.
I am frequently surprised when I throw odd things together and my creation tastes good, and this is one of those cases. I’ve never really heard of cinnamon chicken soup before, but it works well, and my apartment smelled like a seductive North African or Persian kitchen while the soup was cooking. Cinnamon has all kinds of nutritional properties, too; it’s a known anti-microbial, helps control blood sugar, and in Chinese medicine is used as a warming herb. Come here, cinnamon, and cozy up with me, please; I think we've got some long, cold nights ahead.
Cinnamon Scented Chicken Soup with Spelt and Chanterelle Mushrooms Recipe
2 tablespoons butter, plus 1/2 to 1 tablespoon for sautéing the chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 oz chanterelle mushrooms, dried
1/2 cup spelt
7 cups chicken broth, plus one cup of broth or water for soaking the mushrooms
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
2 chicken breasts
Soak the chanterelles in one cup of heated broth, or one cup of warm water, until soft. Remove the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid for adding to the soup later. Roughly chop the mushrooms, and set them aside.
In a large, heavy bottomed pan, heat the butter. Add the onion, and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic, and stir a few times. Add the cinnamon and stir until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for a minute or so. Stir in the red pepper and the chanterelle mushrooms. Combine well.
Add the spelt to the pot, and combine the ingredients, until all the grains of spelt are coated. Pour the broth and the reserved mushroom soaking liquid into the pot; add the bay leaf; bring the liquid to a boil; and reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a low simmer. Cover, and cook gently until the spelt is cooked, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, and season with salt and pepper. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the butter, and sear the chicken breast pieces on one side, until golden brown. Turn to the other side, cook briefly (be sure not to over cook), and set the chicken pieces aside. I added a little of the simmering soup at this point to the empty pan and stirred it around, in order to get all of the nice browned bits of chicken, and then added this goodness back to the soup.
When the spelt has cooked, add the chicken pieces to the soup, test for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if needed.