Friday, March 27, 2009

Pulled pork (p. 500), Southern barbecue dry rub (p. 587), Western North Carolina barbecue sauce (p. 587), and Ray's mustard barbecue sauce (p. 586)

As all of my regular readers know, I'm trying to get through my entire Randomized List as quickly as possible because I want to make a new list. Pulled pork (p. 500) was on the RL so that's what I decided to make.

I burned out, years ago, on pulled pork. One summer, my father roasted THREE (yes, three) whole hogs in one month. Hundreds of pounds of pork. There were TONS of leftovers. My stepmother, brothers, and I ate so much pulled pork that month (whereas dad got to escape for two meals a day to work). I think there were weeks where we ate pulled pork for all three meals a day. My stepmother finally threw the rest away. And I have never been able to look at pulled pork again. That was about 15 years ago. I decided it was time to try my hand at pulled pork again.

The first step was to make the Southern barbecue dry rub (p. 587). The recipe requires a quarter cup of cracked black peppercorns. I didn't know how to do this in a way that wouldn't make a huge mess. It finally occurred to me to put the peppercorn in a plastic bag:

And then smash them with a meat tenderizer:

Totally worked! The rub also included brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, red pepper, cumin, mace, and salt. Very very easy.

The dry rub was then rubbed into a pork shoulder roast:

The dry rub recipe makes a LOT of spice.

I decided to use my awesome Le Creuset dutch oven. The pork went into the oven at a low temperature for around three hours.

At this point the pork shredded easily. Look at the blade bone:

It pulled cleanly out. This pulled pork was among the easiest things that I have made out of TJOC. The recipe made a LOT of pulled pork. A simple, cheap, easy recipe that makes a LOT of meat--I really recommend it.

What is pulled pork without barbecue sauce? I decided to make several types so that we wouldn't get bored with the pulled pork. I made TJOC's simple barbecue sauce. I also made the Western North Carolina barbecue sauce (p. 587) (which I thought was a very specific name). It was easy--I mixed white vinegar, cider vinegar, hot peppers sauce, sugar, crushed red pepper flacks, and a little catsup and it was done! I heated the bbq sauce a little but the recipe doesn't require it.

Finally, I made Ray's mustard barbecue sauce (p. 586). I don't typically like mustard so I wasn't very excited about this recipe. Again, it was easy. I mixed yellow mustard, catsup, cider vinegar, vegetable oil, onion, honey, garlic, a little lime, Worcestershire sauce, and some black pepper.

I made a LOT of barbecue sauce. Three containers! Yum.

So how was it all? Tasty! The pulled pork was tender and flavorful and the sauces were awesome! The vinegar sauce was amazing and the mustard sauce was incredibly good too. When you think of barbecue sauce what do you think of? I think of the sauce on the far right but do you think of something else?

I do realize that I wrote this entry almost two months late. I've been insanely busy with my comprehensive preliminary exams for my PhD (I PASSED!!) so I was incredibly behind on TJOTJOC--and I took about a month off from cooking. I promise to have it caught up to date within a day or two and I'm already back to cooking :)

Hot buttered rum (p. 61), Poached eggs (p. 196), and Japanese noodles in broth (p. 333)

We got a LOT of snow. The picture doesn't even show the beginnings of all the snow we got--that stool in the yard is at least two feet tall. Doesn't Mother Nature know it's almost April?

I thought, what a terrific day for Hot buttered rum (p. 61)! The first step is to spoon a teaspoon of powdered sugar into a warmed mug (I warmed the mug in the microwave).

Two ounces of boiling water, two ounces of rum, and a tablespoon butter were added to the cup.

And then it was filled with boiling water.

It was warm, which was nice on a cold day, but I thought it was too watery. I must like my cocktails more stout! It was my first buttered rum though--maybe there is a trick to making it.

I've been trying to cook through the Randomized List as quickly as I can (because I want to make a new list) and I noticed that Poached eggs (p. 196) were one of my choices. It seemed easy, so I decided to knock the recipe out for a late lunch. I had never poached an egg before and was nervous about the process--I'm actually not sure I had even eaten a poached egg before.

The recipe calls for a few inches of water, brought to a roiling boil, with a little vinegar and salt added.

The egg was cracked into a bowl and slowly slid into the water:

Eventually the whites started looking done. I don't really care for eggs, but if I'm going to eat them, I like the yolks a little runny. Josh doesn't so I cooked his longer.

I ate my poached egg on some toast.

It was good! I was nervous poaching the egg but it wasn't that difficult. It's a good thing it went well--poached eggs are involved in about 25 more recipes in TJOC.

As I mentioned above, I am trying to hurry through the randomized list. One of the pages included a bunch of Japanese soups so I decided to make Japanese noodles in broth (p. 333).

I'm not a huge fan of udon. I ate very little udon during my months in Tokyo partially because I find it difficult to eat (without slurping, which I can't do even if it is culturally acceptable). I also could never get close to finishing the trough of soup that usually got served to me--I would stuff myself and only finish half the bowl of udon (very similar situations also happened with ramen and any other Japanese noodle served in bowls). But I had a bunch of homemade stock so it seemed like the perfect time.

What is udon, you ask? A flat wheat noodle that is typically eaten in broth. They are usually in the Asian food section of the grocery store (if you've never noticed them, they are probably there, just look next time).

The recipe is easy. I combined eight cups of chicken stock with some soy sauce, sugar, and salt until it boiled.

The udon noodles were cooked while the broth was heating up. The wrapper said only to cook them for one minute. One minute! They cooked really fast, like fresh pasta. Even so, I think they could have stood another 30 seconds of cooking.

The cooked noodles are divided into individual bowls, sprinkled with scallions, and topped with seasoned broth.

You can admire Josh's new soup bowl:

The soup was pretty good but not particularly similar to anything I ate in Japan. It was a little boring. Five- or seven-spice powder is recommended as a complement. Make sure you like a kinda sweet, desserty taste to your noodles if you use five-spice as the five spices are (typically) cinnamon or cassia, cloves, fennel, anise, and some sort of pepper. I personally am not a fan :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Minestrone (p. 128)

Minestrone (p. 128). I like minestrone soup but I've never made it. I actually really like vegetable soup and the recipe looked excellent. I was motivated to make it because I stumbled upon Parmesan rinds at Whole Foods and knew they were an ingredient.

My mom asked where I thought she could get Parmesan rinds since there are no Whole Foods in Iowa. I told her that I imagined that anywhere that actually cuts their own cheese would have rinds left over from their Parmesan (although you might have to ask).

The recipe has a LOT of ingredients but wasn't very difficult. Two slices of bacon were rendered in some olive oil. Onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, chard, garlic, a little rosemary, basil, and parsley were cooked in the fat until tender (the recipe only took three pieces of chard so I used the rest to make another batch of Creamy pasta with tomatoes and chard).

A can of tomatoes were added, along with a can of cannelloni beans, some salt, and a chunk of Parmesan rind. TEN CUPS of chicken stock were then added. That is a LOT of chicken stock. A cup of elbow macaroni was added, the soup was cooked for a while, and the soup was done!

How was it? Very tasty and very easy. I thought it was too thick (which is absolutely mind-boggling when it has ten cups of stocks but there were a lot of ingredients) so I added more stock when I heated it up. It made a lot of soup and terrific leftovers. I absolutely adore soup, though, so maybe I'm biased.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Salmon chowder (p. 143)

I needed to use the fish stock in the refrigerator before it turned. I have no idea how long fish stock is good for but I didn't want to find out the hard way (and I still have a ziploc full of stock in the freezer). I flipped through the fish section of Stocks and Soups and found the recipe that looked like it would be the cheapest (I live in land-locked Colorado--seafood is not cheap). Salmon chowder (p. 143) fit the bill, especially since I found a piece of salmon at the grocery sale on closeout.

The first step was to reduce a cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan until it's only 2/3 cup. Because it can't be allowed to boil, this takes forever.

At the same time, in the stock pot, I sauteed some leeks, vermouth, and garlic in butter. I adore leeks and garlic and vermouth always reminds me (fondly) of martinis so I knew this recipe was going to be a winner.

Eventually, fish stock, potatoes, and salt are mixed in and the soup was simmered until the potatoes are tender. Twelve ounces of salmon and a little black pepper were added and the soup was cooked for another ten minutes.

The soup was really good! TJOC states that fish soups don't reheat well so Josh and I made a concerted effort to eat the entire pot. That being said, it needs a LOT of salt. The half teaspoon that the recipe recommends isn't even close to the salt that the recipe requires. The salmon chowder was the first chowder I've ever made and it was easy.

I imagine that the stocks and soups section will be the first chapter of TJOC that I actually finish (an exciting prospect). I'm making terrific progress.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Applesauce I (p. 216) and Kumquat compote (p. 225)

Applesauce I (p. 216) was a recipe that had been on my to-make list for a long time. My method of grocery shopping is to flip through TJOC, make a list of all the recipes I think look interesting, and buy ingredients for those recipes at the store. I had bought the apples for applesauce about ten times without ever getting around to making the recipe. I figured it was finally time.

I use our apple corer all the time but never for apples. It's a really good way to quickly slice up a potato if you don't mind having one wedge that is a cylinder (I don't). This time, though, the corer got used for Empire apples.

The apples were combined with a little water, some lemon juice, and half a cinnamon stick.

(As an aside, I learned a lot from the wikipedia entry on cinnamon sticks. Apparently, cinnamon sticks are the inner bark of the cinnamon tree rolled into quills.)

When the apples started to fall apart, I added brown sugar. Eventually the sauce thickens.

I don't have a final picture, but I used the immersion blender to make the applesauce more smooth. Delicious! The cinnamon flavor wasn't very strong, which was great, because it's one of my least favorite spices. And it was really easy.

I've been trying to knock items off the randomized list as fast as I can because I really want to make a new list (it's exciting to see what's on it!). One of the pages included Oranges in syrup and Kumquat compote (p. 225). I had never had a kumquat before and, to be honest, I know nothing about them. How do you even pronounce kumquat? TJOC says that they aren't actually citrus fruits, which is bizarre, because they look, smell, and taste like tiny, strong oranges. And they can be eaten whole, which is terrific because it would be really difficult to peel such tiny fruit.

Kumquat compote only had three ingredients so I decided to make it. Two cups of kumquats went into cold water and were brought to a boil.

They were then drained and sliced. Any seeds were removed (a pain, the seeds were really small). Two cups of water and a cup of sugar were combined and brought to a boil, then the kumquats were added.

About five minutes later, the compote was done. Delicious! Nice and sugary. Much like the pickled grapes, this is a recipe that quickly disappears. Josh liked to use some of the compote in his smoothies and said it brightened all the flavors.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tortilla soup (p. 132), Refried beans (Frijoles refritos) (p. 254), Bean burritos (p. 103), and Chicken burritos (p. 104)

I have written a number of blog posts in the last few days, so be sure to check them all (I think I've written about seven in a week with four more to go). Also, comment if you have anything to say :) I wrote this whole blog and then it disappeared, so it might be short. I hate re-writing when things poof.

I decided to actually made a cohesive meal--Josh and I had a Mexican food night. We tend to eat a main entree and no side dishes which is not the best way to eat.

I adore tortilla soup in general, and since I had a boatload of chicken stock, I decided to make TJOC's version--Tortilla soup (p. 132). The first step is toasting a jalapeno or two and some garlic in a dry pan on the stove. Joy says this will only take ten to fifteen minutes but it took at least twice as long for me. Why does nothing cook more quickly? Everything I make seems to take longer than TJOC says it will.

I forgot to take pictures for the entire middle of this recipe but the jalapeno and garlic need to chopped in a food processor or blender. I didn't want to dirty my little food processor so I decided to use the immersion blender--a lifesaver! A big can of tomatoes was then added--although TJOC says to drain the tomatoes, I didn't because I didn't read that sentence until it was too late. I didn't think it would matter (and it didn't matter).

At the same time, in the soup pot, I sauteed onions in a little olive oil. A few cups of stock and the tomato mixture were added.

I couldn't imagine ruining homemade tortilla soup with store-bought chips so I whipped up a plateful of tortilla chips. I may have eaten a few too...

The tortilla chips were mixed into the soup, cooked a few minutes, and the soup was done. I put a little shredded Monterrey Jack cheese on the top.

DELICIOUS! But really really spicy. I can't imagine using two jalapenos when just one made the soup incredibly hot. The leftovers heated up extremely well. It was so good that just writing this blog is making wish I had another bowl...

I thought Refried beans (Frijoles refritos) (p. 254) would go well with tortilla soup. I like refried beans but have never been particularly motivated to make my own. The first step is heating up some fat--either vegetable oil, bacon drippings, or lard. Might as well make it lard since I had some in my cupboard.

I added chopped onion and garlic to the delicious lard.

It's a rather strange system--add one cup of black or pinto beans (I used canned black beans), and smash smash smash. Then add the next cup and smash smash smash. A couple more times and it looks like refried beans.

There was a confusing part of the recipe--TJOC says not to drain the beans if they are canned, so I didn't. Then it says to stir in one cup of reserved bean cooking liquid or water. I didn't have any cooking liquid because I didn't drain the beans. Do you think I should have added in a cup of water? I didn't and the beans seemed okay.

There is nothing attractive about refried beans but they were really good. Josh pointed out that they were strong and they were--I assume that is a combination of using black beans instead of pinto and all that garlic and onion.

Because I had such a big batch of refried beans, I decided to make both Bean burritos (p. 103) and Chicken burritos (p. 104). They are easy--take a flour tortilla (burrito sized), smear some refried beans on it, add some cheese, and roll it up.

To make it a chicken burrito, add chicken (obviously) and slightly less refried beans:

Heat them up in the oven and serve them. They were good--I think the burritos were way better with homemade refried beans than they would have been with canned beans. If you used canned beans, a rotisserie chicken, and bagged shredded cheese this recipe would take about a minute to throw together. The burritos heated up really well, which is great because eight burritos is way more than we can eat in a sitting!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stuffed artichokes (p. 248) and Fish stock (p. 118)

Artichokes are one of my favorite foods and I had never made them before. My grandmother used to make me stuffed artichokes and it was a special delicious delicacy that my mother almost never made. I'm extremely happy when I see whole artichokes as an appetizer on a menu (rarely, I realize people don't like to eat with their hands at nice restaurants). Artichoke hearts with Wishbone 5-cheese Italian dressing (which I think they discontinued--very upsetting!) is one of my favorite snacks.

That all being said, I'm counting what I produced as Stuffed artichokes (p. 248), even though I didn't *completely* follow the recipe. I read the recipe and felt that the main point was that the artichokes are stuffed with something (they give a number of choices) and steamed. And the recipe uses medium artichokes.

First off, I used baby artichokes.

The top third of the artichoke was chopped off and the outside leaves were removed (they are tough and stringy). The stem is chopped off.

Instead of using TJOC's recommendation I stuffed my artichokes with a breadcrumb, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic powder, and olive oil mixture, which is my grandmother's recipe. Water was added into the pan until it was half way up the artichokes (TJOC recommends the steamer basket but they don't stand well that way).

After about twenty minutes, they were totally done.

I then gorged myself on them. I LOVE these. Artichokes are amazing! Now that I've passed my irrational fear of making my own stuffed artichokes I will make them more often--far far more often. I don't know how long Whole Foods will have baby artichokes, so I better eat large amounts while they are available.

I bought two trout on sale at the grocery store. They were field-dressed, so they had their guts removed but their head, tail, and bones still intact. I had no idea what to do with them and was too intimidated to follow any of TJOC's recipes, so I decided to make them into Fish stock (p. 118) (I know it's a waste but they were really cheap).

Like most stocks, it was easy. the fish, onion, a leek, garlic, lemon juice, and bouquet garni went into a pot with enough water to cover.

(The fish are under the veggies)

After about thirty minutes, the stock was done! It was incredibly fast. I drained the stock into a bowl and threw all the veggies away. Looking at my fish, I thought I could make another batch out of them, and made a second batch of stock. After the second batch, I threw the fish away (again, I know it was a huge waste, but I had no idea what to do with the fish).

The fish looked like it was swimming away! I packaged half the fish stock and put it in the freezer and saved the other half in the refidgerator to use in a future recipe. The stock was easy and fish scraps can be used instead of wasting whole fish.