Tag Archives: pork

on ribs and granny carts: honey herb pork tenderloin

honey herb pork tenderloin

Some years ago, in New York City, I would become very frustrated when I would find a recipe that was perfectly suited for whatever occasion it was, and then a harsh reality would hit.  I’d realize that I didn’t have things like stand mixers for coconut cakes and fancy French mandolins for perfectly cut matchstick slaw, and, oh yeah, I didn’t have that backyard outfitted with a grill that those finger-lickin’ ribs necessitated either.

honey herb pork tenderloin - fresh herbs and garlic

Instead I had a rickety and rusty 1960’s four burner gas stove (of which, two worked reliably, one was dead, and one threatened a gas explosion each time you encouraged it to light), a janky communal collection of pots and pans bequeathed to us from various donors, and a fire escape ‘patio’ that threatened to buckle each time we crawled out the window to enjoy a glass of wine ‘al fresco.’

honey herb pork tenderloin - pureed flavors

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it’s a wrap: pork & quinoa lettuce cups with thai chili, bell pepper, and coconut cream

pork & quinoa lettuce cups with thai chili, bell pepper, and coconut cream

I made these lettuce cups a few weeks back, and, lemmetellya — these bad boys are a keeper.

pork & quinoa lettuce cups, quinoa rinsed and ready to cook

I’m not generally one to wrap things up in lettuce and call it a day (I’m sorry, but is there anything more depressing than watching someone attempt to wrap a juicy cheeseburger in a flimsy wisp of romaine lettuce and proclaim that they truly don’t even miss the bun?), but I will admit that sometimes when I crave something that normally requires some sort of vehicle to get it from Point A (the plate) to Point B (your mouth), I don’t actually feel like noshing on said (usually bready) vehicle.

pork & quinoa lettuce cups, fresh thai chilis - warm & spicy!

Tortillas, wraps, pitas – I do love all of them, but after recalling pizza, fish tacos, and a pita-fueled mezze platter on my list of eats week-to-date, I was feeling a bit breaded out.

pork & quinoa lettuce cups, fresh grated ginger & garlic

Enter these lettuce wraps – where the exclusion of any wrap-type thing adds to the intensity of the flavors and lets the ingredients shine. Here, sauteed ground pork is mixed up and folded together with crunchy bell peppers, spicy thai chili rounds, and a hefty dose of garlic and ginger, and the whole lot is bound together by a silky hit of coconut cream.

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touchdown!: creole jambalaya with pulled chicken, sausage, and diced ham

creole jambalaya with pulled chicken, sausage, and ham

I’ll admit that in the days and weeks leading up to The Biggest Sunday of The Year, I was scheming and planning what Cajun-style fare to make as the Ravens unexpectedly (and somewhat unbelievably) notched their way up the Superbowl totem pole.

creole jambalaya peppers cut

I’ve alluded before to the fact that I am generally more enraptured with the food indulgences that come along with the big game (because really, when else is it morally sound to scarf buttered hot wings and beer at 11am on a Sunday?), but this year my excitement for the actual clash and crash of helmets was genuine.

creole jambalaya celery cut up

If it wasn’t for that pesky power-outage (seriously Beyonce?!) and the nail-biter of a second half that ensued, it would have almost been too easy — but thankfully, for my sanity and the sanity of every single person wearing black and purple, we managed to seal the deal. Superbowl 2013: nailed it!

creole jambalaya sausages whole and ready to cook

I woke up early on Sunday morning to start on a dish that I thought was worthy of being consumed on such a momentous occasion – inspired first because the game was being played in The Big Easy, and secondly because Fat Tuesday (and Mardi Gras!) are suddenly rightthere around the corner.

creole jambalaya cooked sausages

One of my favorite places to visit in the States is New Orleans, and though I believe it is to be fervently avoided during the two-week Mardi Gras celebration (have you ever smelled Bourbon Street even when it isn’t stuffed with thousands of tourists guzzling technicolor hand grenades?), the cuisine alone is enough to keep me coming back.

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my favorite: arugula salad with figs, fresh peaches, prosciutto, parmesan, and truffle oil

A few years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I was invited to a business dinner at Il Mulino. This was back before the economy started its slide on into hell in a hand basket, and before Il Mulino had become an empire of sorts, with outposts in Las Vegas, Aspen, Miami, and…..{shudder}….Atlantic City.

Way back then (cough), Il Mulino was still a singular quaint and crowded little Italian restaurant tucked up into a tiny little space in the village, on West 3rd Street. It was the kind of miniscule space where you would gnash elbows with strangers when you would back out your chair, and the sort that had grape vines painted on the walls, mustachioed older-male waiters clad in double-breasted suits, and dusty magnum bottles of expensive Barolos lining the walls.

Not exactly a decorators dream, admittedly, but Il Mulino was charming in that respect, and over the years that it had been open for business (since 1981) it had become a favorite haunt of a (very) well heeled crowd of celebrities, high profile businessmen, and those who were simply willing to pony up for a fantastic plate of pasta.

It was there, young and decidedly not well-heeled, crowded around a round table in the back of house, that I had my first taste of real truffles. Shaved thinly over a twirled and twisted mound of cream soaked pasta and tucked up into pillows of ravioli, the knobby little fungi that I had read so much about were finally placed within my forks reach, and the scent that wafted up from them was intoxicating – almost obscenely so.

I tried my best to wait patiently as the waiter presented me with a sample of each of the pastas spooned upon my plate, and just as the last platter was gently laid upon the table, I dug in with gusto.  Though the scent alone partially gave away the treat that I was in for, I was completely unprepared for their incredibly unique flavor, and I was floored.  I’m not even going to pretend that I can accurately describe what a truffle tastes like in words, except for saying that they are at once earthy, but complicated; heady, and utterly rich.

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of unclassified nature: asian style pork meatballs with ginger, garlic, & cilantro with bean thread noodles & roasted asparagus

I’ve always actually detested the word ‘meatball;’ it’s nondescript and carnivorous nature gives me a bit of a shiver down the spine.  Even it’s lowly and more casual cousin the hamburger isn’t called a ‘meatpatty’ or ‘meatdisk’ – it is at least lent the less literal in nature ‘ham’ and ‘burger’ monikers.  I don’t know.  Something about  ‘meatball’ just strikes me as too graphic, too perverse.

I have the same bone to pick with the ‘meatloafs’ of the world – and now that I think of it, it might even be a bigger bone — loaf?!  But I suppose one cannot bestow critisicm on something if they themselves in fact have no more suitable titles to suggest.

What in the world would I even want to rename the meatball, after all?

Yeah...I’ve got nothing.

At it’s essence a very humble thing, the meatball is generally an amalgam of ground meat and breadcrumbs, with an egg thrown in to bind everything together.  When one thinks of a traditional ‘meatball’, we conventionally default to the type made with beef (or a bit of pork), spiked with parsley and parmesan, cloaked in a thick red tomato sauce, and perched atop a tangled mess of spaghetti.  Though I love a good plate of that old Italian-American standby, I do find it to be quite heavy, and not always conducive to me wanting to do anything but waddle after it’s consumption.

You feel me here, right?

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the best oven baked ribs & housemade BBQ sauce

One of my best friends, the lovely and hy-sterical Knoxville-born-and-bred Miss Chaise, used to always refer to our dearly departed little Lily Bean as her little bag of GRITS.

That is,

Girl
Raised
In
The
South

To all you naww-thaners and way-out-west-ers.  One of my closest friends had taken a shining to that tiny little pug of mine; the snub-nosed pup that was born and raised for the first two of her eight short short years below one all important marker of American Southern tradition: the Mason-Dixon line.

If you were brought up outside the confines of this country’s most Southeastern quadrant, those three little words most likely hold little sentimental value.  Being a Cape Cahd girl through-and-through, I most certainly cannot claim Southern roots, values, or that molasses-thick-slow-drawl accent that seems to get more substantial with every sip of sweet tea and swig of bourbon that those who are rooted there so often display.

I can, however, take claim to spending four of the most glorious years holed up in Tallahassee, Florida, and if anyone knows anything about Tallahassee it’s that this part of ‘God’s Country’ is brimming with good ole’ boys driving mud-crusted pickups, jean shorts and cheap American beer, and utterly delicious finger-lickin’-oh-mah-goodness-good barbeque.

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take me in: pork + chive wontons with peanut dipping sauce

What irks me most about the majority of Chinese takeout is not the thing that seems to irk the general population: that phenomenon of being starving an hour after you indulge in a feast.  My gripe is that so often the quality of what you receive is subpar, and does little to parallel the  grandiose ideas of what you had envisioned it to be in your mind.

After dialing in the order, one does not wish to receive a greasy and limp pile of lo mein, pallid and sad (and greasy) vegetables, or little rock-nuggets of mystery meat that slide glibly out of — you guessed it – greasy — dumpling skins.

The latter is what really makes my skin crawl.  If I am not 100% certain that the restaurant I am ordering from is renowned for their ingredients and preparations, I unwaveringly and always without regrets take a pass.  In NYC, I had a few favorite spots to get my reliably good MSG fix: Grand Sichuan (cheap eats), Chin Chin (if I was feeling flush), and Dumpling Man (for, well, dumplings – duh!!).

One thing I’ll always order at an Asian restaurant is whatever version of a dumpling they have on the menu.  Siu mai, wontons, gyoza, steamed buns, or dumpling — no matter what they are called I must have an order.  I’ve admittedly yet to seek out what the best Chinese spot is here in town, but have kept my dumpling cravings in check with regular visits to Zoe Ma Ma (a Chinese street food joint), Sushi Tora (our sush spot) and Chey Thuy (a Vietnamese restaurant with the most extensive menu – ever).

Having spotted some wonton wraps nestled in next to the tofu at Whole Foods, I thought that making some up at home would be a fun project.  Not being one to want to bite off more than I could quite literally chew, I had a hunch that attempting to make the dough on my own could prove to be tricky. A quick google search whilst standing in front of the refrigerated case confirmed my suspicion that it is very difficult to achieve the proper dough-thickness for a wonton or dumpling at home, and I immediately felt better about my decision to call something ‘homemade’ when in reality a component of it was purchased for $3.49.

There’s no judging here.

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