I made that!

Dear Pork, I am in love with you.

Posted in All Things Pork, I Like Salt Too by brandi on June 28, 2009

Dear Pork, 

You did it again. Just when I think I’m (almost) ready to be a vegetarian, you inspire me. It was a day not made for cooking. Sunny and hot (like actually hot!), I had to spend the day at the beach, burning to a crisp. I returned home red and tender, not far from resembling a piece of jerky, and didn’t really look forward to turning on the stove. But there you were, so pink and porky. I didn’t want to slice you up.


But I had guests arriving. And I wanted tacos. Carnitas tacos. So into a pot you went, with some orange juice, orange peels, mexican coke, water and garlic.


You boiled for a while as I thought up ways to serve you. First we needed tortillas. Props to Pantea for dominating the tortilla press. Tortillas for 11 is no small task. But for you, pork, anything.


She made a lovely stack.


And there was a watermelon chilling on the counter, so we made agua fresca.


And then we caramelized some onions.


And marinated some radishes in lime juice and pepper.


And you just kept boiling.


While we roasted some tomatillos for salsa roja. For YOU, pork. You.


And then you did the most amazing thing. All the water evaporated, and you were frying in your own fat. It was so beautiful. I almost wept with love.


But it was 10.30 and the guests were getting crazed. So I started frying up those fresh tortillas.


And when you were nice and caramelized, we all stared for a while, admiring your loveliness.


And then I ate you. I’ve never felt so close to a pig before.


Yours forever, 




4 pounds pork shoulder, with fat intact

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice

3/4 cup mexican coke (has real sugar not corn syrup)

5 garlic cloves, peeled

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

several orange peels


– Cut pork into 2-3 inch chunks. Combine everything in a large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until pork is tender and fat is liquifying, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours, adding more water by 1/4 cupfuls if necessary to keep pork partially submerged.

– Uncover and boil pork mixture until the water evaporates and meat browns and begins to get crisp, stirring often.

– Cool meat slightly. Pull meat into bite sized chunks if necessary.

– Eat yourself silly.

Bacon + Ice Cream = Happyface

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, All Things Pork, The Creamery by brandi on March 1, 2009

We finished off the rest of the Meyer Lemon gelato last night, and I was feeling the need to fill the void IMMEDIATELY. Also, I have my landlord’s ice cream maker on loan and am itching to put it to good use. Whilst poking around on the interweb for ice cream recipes, I found one for candied bacon ice cream on David Lebovitz’s site. I really can’t think of a flavor I’d like to make more. Well, except maybe some of the Humphry Slocombe flavors (government cheese flavored ice cream? BLOWING. MY. MIND.), but anyways. I don’t care how cliché the bacon dessert trend is, I am all over it like salt on caramel.

As all good things in life start, this one started with candying some bacon strips. It sounds kinda fancy, but it really just means baking bacon with brown sugar until it caramelizes. The hardest part is not stuffing it all in my mouth.


I chopped the bacon into little bits and hid them to keep from eating them.


Then I made a custard flavored with brown sugar and cinnamon. The recipe called for rum, but we don’t have any and I was much too lazy to go get some.


I chilled the custard and put it in the ice cream spinner. Once it was thick and creamy I tossed in the bacon bits. Then I spooned it into a container and stuck it in the freezer to firm up. This is always the hardest part, waiting and waiting until it seems “ready”.

As usual, we only made it an hour, long before it was completely firm. But to be honest, I like the pre-firm squishy moment of ice cream. At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m digging in.




Update: I just went for a run in the rain to justify coming back to the house and eating bacon ice cream for lunch. I think I might be in trouble.


For the candied bacon:

5 strips bacon

about 2 tablespoons brown sugar


For the ice cream custard:

3 tablespoons (45g) salted butter

¾ cup (packed) brown sugar (170g), light or dark (you can use either)

2¾ (675ml) cup half-and-half

5 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons dark rum or whiskey

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

optional: ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


To candy the bacon:

– preheat the oven to 400.

– Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet.

– Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon.

– Bake for 12-16 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet.

– Continue to bake until as dark as mahogany. Remove from oven and cool.

– Once cool, chop into little pieces.

To make the ice cream custard:

– melt the butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan.

– Stir in the brown sugar and half of the half-and-half.

– Pour the remaining half-and-half into a bowl set in an ice bath and set a mesh strainer over the top.

– In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the warm brown sugar mixture to them, whisking the yolks constantly as you pour.

– Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

– Cook over medium low heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

– Strain the custard into the half-and-half, stirring over the ice bath, until cool.

– Add liquor, vanilla and cinnamon.

– Refrigerate the mixture.

– Once thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

– Add the bacon bits during the last moment of churning.

Getting My Southern On

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, All Things Pork, I Like Salt Too, Southernness by brandi on February 5, 2009

It was a night of deliciousness. I was at my friends’ house for our weekly night of (don’t judge) 90210. We’re usually so excited to relive a version of high school that doesn’t even closely resemble ours that we cook a feast to eat beforehand. I was feeling especially southern, and decided to dig through my old copy of “Louisiana Kitchen” for some ideas. In the end I decided to try out the red beans and rice recipe, since I’ve yet to make one that I think is worthwhile.

Probably the most shocking thing of the night was learning that most of my friends had never even HEARD of red beans and rice! When I told them that is what I would be cooking, they imagined some boring dinner of “beans” and “rice.” How little faith they have in Cajun cuisine.


It took a few hours to cook. It was spicy. REALLY spicy. It was not pretty to gaze upon. It was filled with smoked ham hocks, Andouille sausage & bell peppers. Basically it was perfect.


And of course there was dessert.

I had been thinking about apple cake for a few months, so I decided to try one out. Also a traditional Southern dish, it is a super moist cake filled with big chunks of apple, pecans, cinnamon & nutmeg. It has so many apples in it I was concerned that it might not even turn into a cake once baked.


But it turned out just fine. Better than fine.


And since Southerners are just never happy with something simple in the dessert department, it was smothered in a caramel sauce.


90210 never tasted so good.

Here is the recipe for the Red Beans & Rice, from Paul Prudhomme’s “Louisiana Kitchen”:

1 pound dried red kidney beans
6 large ham hocks (3 1/2  pounds)
2 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
5 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 pound Andouille smoked sausage, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces
4 1/2 cups hot cooked rice

Cover the beans with water 2 inches above beans. Let stand overnight. Drain just before using.

Place the ham hocks, 10 cups of  water, the celery, onions, bell peppers, bay leaves, and seasonings in a 5 1/2-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven; stir well. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until meat is fork tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks from pan and set aside.

Add the drained beans and 4 cups of the water to the pan; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining 2 cups water and simmer 30 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the andouille and continue simmering until the beans start breaking up, about 35 minutes, scraping pan bottom fairly often.  Add the ham hocks (that you have been shredding this whole time) and cook and stir 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

And here’s the recipe for the apple cake, from “The Gift of Southern Cooking” by Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock:

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 fresh apples, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups not-too-finely chopped pecans
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (160C).

Put the sugars and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl, and beat until very well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and gradually add to the sugar and eggs, mixing just until well blended.

Stir in the apples, pecans, and vanilla, and pour into a buttered and 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours (begin checking after 50 minutes). Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the pan while you prepare the caramel glaze.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add both the sugars and the salt. Stir until blended, and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Use a skewer or toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake, and pour the warm glaze over the surface. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Because sometimes you just want some spaetzle.

Posted in All Things Pork, I Like Salt Too by brandi on January 15, 2009

At least I do. And my Hungarian friend Courtney let me borrow her spaetzle maker. And I thought I had every kitchen gadget!


It’s basically a cheese grater that can rest on your pot, and comes with a scraper that pushes the spaetzle dough through the holes and into the boiling water. It looks just like this:


They cook in like a minute, and then you scoop them up.


Fluffy little pasta poos!


And what do we do with spaetzle? We pour goulash all over it! and sour cream!


Not the most photogenic of meals, but it was fabulous.

Beef Goulash Recipe (Joy of Cooking):

4oz bacon or smoked ham, diced

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, 1″ cubes

1 1/2 lbs pork or veal shoulder, 1″ cubes

1/2 cup flour

3 cups onions, thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup sweet paprika

3 red bell peppers, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 TBSP dried marjoram

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

3 bay leaves

2 cups beef or chicken stock

1 cup dry white wine or beer

1/4 cup tomato puree or 2 TBSP tomato paste

1/2 to 1 cup sour cream

– Brown bacon in large pot. Remove bacon and pat dry.

– Flavor meat with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Add to pot and brown all sides, being careful not to crowd or scorch the meat. Remove meat using a slotted spoon and set aside.

– Lower heat and add onions to pot. Cook until lightly colored and soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the paprika, stir well and cook for another 2 minutes. Add bell peppers, carrots, marjoram, caraway, black pepper, salt and bay leaves to the pot. Toss to coat.

– Add stock, alcohol, and tomato. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add the meat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until meat is tender (1 1/2 hours). Reduce sauce to thicken if necessary. Check seasoning.

– Serve over spatzle with sour cream.

Because everything’s better with bacon cornbread

Posted in All Things Pork, I Like Salt Too by brandi on December 15, 2008

Occasionally I like to trade dinner for a Top Chef Marathon with my old roomies. It was a night just like that. And there was a request for cornbread. I’ve had my eye on Peter Reinhardt’s recipe from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”, so i gave it a shot.


First roast some bacon.


And then bake it on top of the cornbread.


And viola! The perfect winter dinner. And by that I mean chili. But vegetarian chili for the delicate among us.


1 cup (6 oz) coarse cornmeal
2 cups (16 oz) buttermilk
8 oz bacon (approx. 10 slices)
1 3/4 cups (8 oz) flour
1 1/2 Tbsp (.05 oz) baking powder
1 tsp (.25 oz) salt
1/4 cup (2 oz) white sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz) brown sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbsp (1.5 oz) honey
2 Tbsp (1 oz) butter, melted
2 1/2 cups (16 oz) corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp (1 oz) bacon fat or vegetable oil)

– The night before making the bread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

– The next day, fry the bacon or cook it in the oven. Drain off the fat into a can or bowl and save for greasing the pan. When the bacon has cooled, crumble it into coarse pieces.

– Preheat the oven to 350. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and brown sugar. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Dissolve the honey in the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs. Add this to the soaked cornmeal mixture.

– Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth. Stir in the corn kernels until they are even distributed.

– Place 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in 10 inch cake pan or a 9×13 inch baking pan. Place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the fat gets very hot. Remove the pan, tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides and pour in the batter. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top, gently pressing them into the batter.

– Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes, until the bread is firm and a tester comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. For muffins, fill muffin tins to the top and bake at 350 F for the same amount of time.