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Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Low ‘n’ Slow Pork Roast

In Pork on May 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm

The smell of this cooking will torture you all day.

Who doesn’t love sweet, tender, fall-off-the-bone pork? It’s a summer staple, and an economical one at that. I bought a seven pound pork shoulder for $10, we’ve already eaten one meal off of it, and it looks like there’s at least two more to go. Of course, that’s barring a Gorilla binge night – I’m using it for pulled pork sandwiches later this week, and who knows where that will lead!

Fall. Off. The. Bone.

For those of you who think that a pork roast is a cheap way to make leather, listen: the secret is to cook it at a low temperature for a VERY long time. Like, all day. The other secret is to buy a pork shoulder that still has the skin on it. I know, it’s kind of gross to handle when it’s raw, but that thick skin keeps the meat from drying out. And underneath that skin is a healthy layer of fat that liquefies during cooking, making the roast basically self-basting. Not to mention that once the roast is cooked and you cut the skin off, it makes an absolutely awesome doggie treat.

Low ‘n’ Slow Pork Roast

This is so easy, I don’t even need to format it like a recipe.

Buy a pork shoulder with the skin still on.

Cover a cookie sheet with two layer of aluminum foil.

Slice a large sweet onion into thick slices, and arrange in a single layer on the cookie sheet. This will be the base for your roast.

Unwrap and rinse your pork shoulder, and stab it several times with a sharp knife. No, I am not advocating violence against pigs, just stay with me.

Shove a peeled garlic clove into each of those holes. Aha! See?

Rub the shoulder with a generous amount of salt and pepper, and place on the cookie sheet, atop the onions.

Put the cookie sheet in a 225 oven and leave it there for about 8 hours. Seriously. Don’t check on it, don’t baste it, don’t open the door and poke it. Just leave it.

Come back later and dig into the best pork you’ve ever had, and you didn’t even need a smoker to do it!

You’re welcome.


Pasta and Bean Casserole

In Pasta, Uncategorized on May 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm
pasta and bean casserole

So rich and hearty, even the kids will eat their beans!

I know, I know. It’s too hot for a casserole. So crank the air down to sixty, ’cause you’re gonna want to try this! It’s actually a vegetarian dish, although not vegan because of the cheese. The beans make it high in protein, so you can feel good about eating it even though it tastes really fattening. It’s not, though! Well, the cheese is, but there’s not much of it.

I wasn’t sure about this dish at first. When you’re just reading the recipe, it doesn’t sound all that impressive, but it is! The cheese forms the perfect little crust, and when it come s steaming out of the oven, your salivary glands will start reacting like garden sprinklers. It’s also a great make-ahead dish, and it freezes well. This recipe fed the Gorilla and I, and we have enough for another dinner in the freezer.

Pasta and Bean Casserole


1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup split red lentils

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 cups water

1/2 pound rotini, dry

1 pear, chopped

1 tablespoon ketchup

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 ounces mozzarella, shredded

3 slices of toast

salt, pepper, coriander, turmeric to taste


Preheat oven to 350. Liberally butter a glass baking dish and set aside.

In a large pot, saute to onion in the oil until tender.

Add the garlic, tomatoes, beans, lentils, pear, and water, and bring to a boil.

Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until everything is tender.

Add the rotini, ketchup, and parsley, and let simmer another 10 minutes, or until rotini is cooked.

If the mixture is beginning to dry out, add a little more water. It won’t hurt anything.

Stir in the seasonings and spices, and the lemon juice. Stir very, very well.

Pour it into your baking dish and top with the cheese.

Run the toast through the food processor until you get breadcrumbs (see how I tricked you into that again?), and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the dish.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

A word of advice – this stuff holds heat like a neutron star, so let it cool for awhile before you dig in. Example – my last bite was still steaming when  I put it in my mouth. Have fun!

Piece Montee for the Daring Bakers!

In Breads / Grains, Daring Baker's Challenges, sweets, Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I made this! And it was goooooood!

When I saw the challenge for this month, I almost wet myself. They expect me to make that?!? Hoookaaay…

But, once I set my mind to it and began, it went very quickly and easily. Just follow the directions. The only thing I changed about the recipe was that I added about 3 ounces of cream cheese to the filling with the butter. ZOMG. It ended up tasting like cannoli filling. Lordy, lordy. And it was so easy to do, I’ll probably make it again. Damn. Just what I need. Easy access to French pastry.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

MexiGreek Phyllo Wraps

In Breads / Grains, Chicken, Uncategorized on May 26, 2010 at 4:31 pm
phyllo wrap

Betcha never heard of MexiGreek food before!

Okay, I totally made this one up. Even the name. MexiGreek. What the bleep is that? I’m so goofy. This dish is almost totally Mexican, but because of the phyllo dough, I couldn’t just call it a burrito. I had to acknowledge the Greekness somehow. So, MexiGreek.

It’s a lighter, healthier version of a burrito, made from the leftovers of a couple of previous dinners. They taste great, and there light enough that you can even serve them as a side dish if you make them smaller. Know what? You could even make them like little eggrolls, and they would be MexiGreekese.

Phyllo Wraps


16 sheets phyllo dough

cooking spray

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups shredded chicken

4 diced Roma tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, pressed

2 cups chopped polenta

1 cup tomatillo sauce or salsa verde

1 roasted pepper (bell or poblano work), chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

guacamole, sour cream, and chopped cilantro for garnish


Preheat oven to 350, and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.

Saute the onion in the oil over medium heat until tender.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, chicken, and pepper, and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 7 minutes.

Tranfer mixture to a large bowl, and add polenta, tomatillo sauce, and cilantro. Mix well.

Stack 4 sheets of phyllo dough, spraying each sheet with cooking spray and pressing down to form a seal. Spoon about 1/4 of the mixture onto the dough, towards one end.

Roll up the sides of the dough, then begin rolling like a burrito, finishing seam side down. Repeat the process until you have four wraps.

Place the wraps carefully on your prepared cookie sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Garnish with cilantro, guacamole, and sour cream.

This is what they look like all rolled up. Pretty!

Tomato Parmesan Biscuits

In Breads / Grains, Uncategorized on May 25, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Great savory biscuits to accompany any meal.

I made this recipe while reviewing Biscuit Bliss by James Villas. I originally picked it because I had all the ingredients already, but god, were they fantastic! They complimented dinner just perfectly, and they even made a great cold-pizza-like breakfast the next morning.

I have to say, since reviewing this book, I’ve really gotten into the whole daily bread product thing. Mr. Gorilla was always a bread fiend, and I was as a kid but grew out of it. Funny – when my cousin Cory and I were little, we would rob every family function of dinner rolls before the meal even started. I remember one time at a family reunion or something, we each must have eaten half a dozen of these sandwich-sized rolls from DiFonzo’s Bakery. My mom caught us and was quite miffed. But they are so good!

Anyway, memory lane aside, these biscuits are awesome. The only way I altered the original recipe was to run fresh tomatoes through the food processor instead of using tomato juice. Came out chunkier and awesomer.

Tomato-Parmesan Biscuits

(slightly adapted from Biscuit Bliss by James Villas)


2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cu parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3 Roma tomatoes, run through food processor

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled


Preheat oven to 425.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I like to use a whisk for this. I don’t know why.

Add the cheese and oregano, and stir well.

Add the tomato and butter, and stir until soft and slightly sticky.

Using your very own floured hands, lift the dough and sort of flop it back and forth from hand to hand a bit. Knead it if you want, but I haven’t really found that to be necessary. Just kind of manhandle it a little.

Plunk it down on a sheet of parchment and pat down to a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

Using a very sharp knife, cut into squares, but do not separate.

Transfer the whole shebang, paper and all, to a cookie sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until slightly golden and cooked through.

Allow to cool for five minutes or so, then pull apart at cuts and gobble. Breathe. Gobble some more.