Category Archives: Food

Pepita Granola

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Granola 3

I have been making granola forever, it was probably one of the first foods I made in my adult life as a cook. When I was in cooking school in Cuernavaca, Mexico we had some with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and since then this has been my favorite recipe. My favorite way to eat granola is on top of fresh Greek style yogurt with some fresh berries or fruit. This is very easy to make and far better than most store bought versions. I do not add dried fruit to the granola until serving as it tends to soften the granola, but this goes nicely with dried fruits as well as fresh. You can also store granola in the freezer to prevent softening.

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This recipe was adapted from Calle Ocho in New York City.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

6 Cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups hemp seeds (available at health food stores)
2 Cups unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup vegetable oil (you can use pumpkin seed oil if you have it)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups green hulled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup local honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup maple sugar
sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon
pinch of salt

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Mix all in a very large bowl. Bake on baking sheets lined with parchment or silpat for 15minutes, remove from oven and stir well, then bake for another 10 minutes. If the granola is browned, remove from the oven. If it is not browned, stir and put in for another 5 minutes. When golden brown cool, then place in airtight containers.

 

 

Guinness Braised Short Ribs

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Ecstatic Meaty Velvet…. that is how I describe the end result of this dish. Short ribs are covered with spices and then seared, then the vegetables are caressed by the fire and finally the braising liquid of tomatoes, porcini mushroom broth and Guinness are married to the pot. In go the short ribs and they braise for 2.5 hours while the sauce concentrates as the veggies become succulent. I served them this time over Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with creme fraiche instead of milk. Sometimes I do them over grits. This is the kind of meal that ends with pristinely clean plates, except for those bones which gave up their marrow in the dish.  A sacrifice well appreciated.

short ribs raw

Here is how you do it, feel free to exchange out the spices to your personal palate, this is just what works for me. You will need 6-8 meaty English Cut short ribs to feed two. This recipe can be doubled, but when you brown the ribs, do it in batches.

spice blend

Spice Blend: 

1/4 cup of brown sugar or 1/4 cup of Sweet Onion Sugar (or you can do 50/50)

1 Tablespoon Sweet Smoked Paprika (or Hungarian Sweet Paprika)

2 Tablespoons Vik’s Garlic Fix

2 Tablespoons Bloody Mary Seasoning (or good black pepper if you don’t have it, the full bodied flavor is worth seeking out)

1 Tablespoon dry mustard

 

Alternately, you can use some much more conventional spices if you don’t have access to the above blends:

The smoked paprika is essential,  find it.

  • 3 tablespoons of salt
  • 1/4  cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon of dry mustard

 

short ribs veggies en place

Sofrito: 

1 cup of re-hydrated dried shallots, drained or 4 medium leeks chopped (pale white part only)

4 tablespoons of home rendered lard or olive oil

4 carrots chopped into medium sized pieces

3 celery ribs chopped into medium sized pieces

2 bay leaves (4 if using fresh)

10 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup of dried porcini mushrooms re-hydrated and then strained, reserving liquid

For even more mushroom flavor, add 1/4 cup of kibbled mushrooms

1 440 mil can of guiness

1 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes with the liquid

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 (I use convection roast setting). Be sure that you will have room for the lidded pot or dutch oven to fit on the rack on the lower third of the oven.

Pat ribs dry and and arrange in a sheet pan.

short ribs seasoned

Blend the spice mix and generously coat the ribs with it on all sides. There will be some leftover, reserve it.

Heat the lard or oil in a large deep pan or dutch oven. Brown the ribs taking care not to crowd them, do them in batches if your pan is not large enough. This should take about 1 minute per side.

short ribs browning

Transfer meat back to the sheet pan and ad the shallots, carrots, celery and bay leaves to the pot and cook over moderate low heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables begin to soften (about 3 minutes), clear a hot spot and add garlic. Cook for 1 more minute. Stir in mushrooms.

Add broth, beer and tomatoes with their juice, then add the ribs and any remaining spices and spoon the sauce over the ribs. Bring to a boil uncovered

short ribs ready for oven

Cover and place in the oven and braise for 2.5 hours, checking after about 1.5 hours to see if more liquid is needed, if so add beer, stock or water.

short ribs in oven

Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes, grits or polenta. Click here for the perfect grits/polenta recipe.

short ribs close up

I doubt that there will be any meat left, but if there is it makes amazing tacos. Any veggies/sauce left are great for a soup, just add more liquid and puree.

If you liked this, you might also enjoy Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder Latin Style.

Tomato Pie from the Stono Farm Market Tomato Shed Cafe

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Tomato Pie
This really should be a mid summer recipe, but there are times when nothing tastes as good as this tomato pie and if you can find the tomatoes, it brings summer right to your plate. It is quite different from any tomato pie I have ever tasted. It is less of a pie and more of a juicy tomato casserole really. The key, and I really mean the KEY is beautiful  juicy ripe red tomatoes. They can be any kind of tomato, but they have to be deeply red and ripe. Fortunately the folks at the Stono Farm Market Tomato Shed Cafe  have access to the Ambrose Farm hoop house tomatoes, including some incredible heirloom tomatoes and some juicy red orbs of cherry tomatoes, even in February, which in the Low Country is not really all that cold.  I agree, that tomatoes are best in July and August, no matter where you live, sun ripened tomatoes grown in soil are the best.  South Carolina grows some delicious ones in her sandy loam. I have had this dish at the Tomato Shed Cafe many times, and have made it a few times for company with rave reviews. The best thing is that it is EASY!

Tomatoes

Here is the Ambrose family’s recipe:

Tomato Pie

Makes 8 servings

6 large ripe tomatoes or 2 # of good ripe cherry tomatoes

1 yellow onion thinly sliced

dried basil

fresh chives, chopped

Salt and Pepper

1 cup of Duke’s Mayonnaise

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Biscuit dough, rolled thin and baked till golden (you can do this ahead in batches and freeze)

Method:

Place pieces of baked thin pieces of biscuit dough around the bottom of a pan, it can be a square 9 X 9 pan, a pie pan or a cake pan.

Slice the tomatoes in to 1/2 inch thick slices and salt, let sit for a few minutes, then fill the pan with several layers of tomatoes, salting and peppering and adding basil and chives on each layer. Add a layer of thinly sliced onions (you could insert garlic here too). I added some sweet onion sugar at this point, but if you do not have it, you can skip that. You can “fancify” it too by using smoked salt. I did.

Mix the mayo and cheese and top the pie.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  I promise you, this is delicious! I have never had a tomato pie this good, or so easy to make.

Tamale Time

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tamales to steam

I make a big batch of tamales several times a year. Yesterday I made a batch of pork and green chile tamales. They are not at all difficult to make and they freeze really well. They are also easy to re-steam. Here is the recipe, but keep in mind the filling can be any number of things, from chiles and cheese to chicken, pork, crab, beef etc. Once you get the rolling technique down you will be able to make them with anything. I often triple this recipe. This recipe makes about 20 good sized tamales. You can make them smaller if you are using them as an appetizer.

filling and husks
You will need: 

Cornhusks or banana leaves for wrappers

String

4 cups of Masa para tamales (this can be found in the Hispanic aisle of most large grocery stores.

1 1/2 cups of home rendered lard (see here how to do it and why) or butter

4 cups of good stock (I used duck stock, but turkey chicken or veal stock works great)

2 tablespoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

A large pot fitted for steaming. You need a lot of water for this, so raise your steaming basket to allow for a lot of water. This has to boil for 40-60 minutes.

filling

Filling: 

2 tablespoons lard or olive oil
2 cups of well seasoned shredded pork shoulder (see my recipe here for making smoked braised pork shoulder Latin style).

1 onion finely chopped

6-8 roasted poblano chiles seeded, skinned and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (or in a pinch you can use canned green chiles)

8 cloves of garlic finely minced

1 tablespoon Vik’s Garlic Fix

1 tablespoon Sweet Onion Sugar

1 teaspoon of smoked salt (I make my own, but you can buy it here)

2 tablespoons of Ancho Chile powder

1/2 cup of stock

queso

2 cups of Queso para Quesedillas, para papusas or Jack cheese grated. Any good melting cheese is fine for this.

sauce

Sauce:

4 tablespoons of masa para tamales

4 tablespoons of house rendered lard or butter

1 cup of New Mexico Red or Green Chile powder

3 cups of good stock

Method

Cut lengths of string long enough to wrap the tamales. There are different ways of folding and wrapping the tamales, but this is my favorite way to do it. You can also tie just the ends or you can fold it so there is one side open and don’t even use strings. If you do this, you must place them upright in your steamer. Some people use parchment paper instead of corn husks or banana leaves.

Soak the corn husks in hot water, weight them down so they are immersed. Just before making the tamales, pour out the water. If you are using banana leaves they need to be heated to soften. I blanch them and place them on a wet towel.

In a stand mixer (or bowl with a beater) whip the cold lard for about 3 minutes on high speed till it is fluffy

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients and stir. Fold that and the stock into the lard. Mix until a very moist (but not sticky) dough forms. Chill for about 20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

masa

In a large skillet melt the lard and add onions. Stir and cook till the onions are translucent, add garlic in a hot spot and stir, then add the chiles and spices and finally deglaze the pan with the stock and allow to simmer till the stock is absorbed, then cool.

Set up a station on a table or counter top. You will need the masa, the cheese, the filling, the string and a platter to stack the finished tamales on.

tamale ready to fold

Start with about 1/2 cup of masa on a corn husk. Fold the sides of the husk where you will want the ends of the tamales to be and spread the masa with the folded husk. Do the same thing with the top and bottom of the husk so that the dough is spread out and you end up with a square of dough about 4″ X 4″. You will need to select the husks that are large enough to accommodate this size of tamale. You should have at least an inch of exposed husk on all sides. Place the filling in the center of the masa and lightly push down on it. Then take the bottom end of the husk and roll it forward to meet the end of the dough. Pull the dough forward making the two ends of dough meet. Then fold in the sides and roll the tamale. Place the string under the tamale and tie like a package. Repeat till you have used all of the dough or filling.

tamale folded

In a steam pot, place the tamales on a rack, cover and boil vigorously for 40-50 minutes. While you are steaming make the sauce.

Chile Sauce:

You can use New Mexico Red or Green Chile powder for this. I used red this time, but my next batch of corn, cheese and chile tamales I am making green sauce.

Make a roux of the masa and lard, stir till slightly brown. Add the chile powder and stir, then whisk in the stock. Allow to simmer and thicken slightly. Keep warm till ready to serve.

To serve, open the husks and remove the tamales to a plate. The masa should be soft and supple, yet firm enough to hold together. Spoon the sauce over and add additional cheese, crema and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

tamales steamed

tamales plated 2

 

 

 

 

Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder Latin Style

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plate 2 This recipe has been one I have used for years. I used to make it at my cooking school for Cuban Night. I change out a few things here and there to go more Italian or more Cuban. Even if you do not have a smoker this is delicious braised or done in a slow cooker or dutch oven. You simply make a paste in the food processor and then make slits in the pork shoulder (bone in or out, your choice). Marinate it over night, smoke the next morning and then finish it off in a crock pot or in a dutch oven in the oven.  Note: I do not add salt before cooking, but I offer it at the table. 

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Ingredients:

1 cup each of packed cilantro and flat leaf parsley

1/3 cup each of coriander, cumin and fennel seeds toasted

30 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup crushed red pepper (the kind you put on pizza)

1/4 cup pink pepper berries (optional)

1 tablespoon hickory powder if you are not smoking the meat

1/4 cup olive oil (I use smoked oil that I make)

1 5-7 pound pork shoulder (get them on sale and freeze)

2# Yukon Gold Potatoes

3 large onions, quartered

2 cans of beer

1/4 cup Spice and Tea Exchange Sweet Onion Sugar (optional)

Method:

Put the cilantro, parsley seeds, garlic, pepper berries, crushed red pepper, hickory powder if you are not smoking and the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse till you have a thick paste.

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Put on latex gloves if you have them, this gets messy. Cut 1 1/2 inch slits into the meat on all sides. Stuff the slits with the paste. If you have any paste left over, smear it on the meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
porchetta
Remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile set up your smoker and turn your grill on high.

Sear the meat on all sides on the grill. Then place in the smoker at about 200 degrees over a drip pan and smoke for 6 hours. If you do not have a smoker, go directly to the slow cooker or roaster but cook for 8-10 hours on low.

Porchetta out of the smoker

Prepare the roaster or slow cooker by placing a bed of Yukon Gold potatoes (small ones or cut larger ones in half) and the onions. Sometimes I add other root vegetables too. Place the meat directly on the bed of veggies. pour two cans or bottles of beer over the meat. Sprinkle the sweet onion sugar all over.

Roast at 350 degrees covered with foil or in a dutch oven. Or you can use a slow cooker on high for 4 hours (either method).  It is just that easy. The leftovers are sometimes my favorite part… tamales, tacos pulled pork sandwiches. 🙂

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Roasted Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Ravioli

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Wonderfully easy and fresh Ravioli! So easy 40 minutes from oven to table. You can also roast the tomatoes ahead of time and make this even faster.

The tomatoes are mostly small grape tomatoes, but I tossed in a few others too. The ravioli dough is actually won ton wrappers. I cannot find my ravioli cutters after the move, so I used a biscuit cutter. This recipe serves 2, but you could easily double it.

Ingredients:

  • 1# of ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Vik’s Garlic Fix (or fresh garlic minced with a sprinkling of Kosher salt)
  • finely chopped Italian Parsley, Basil and rosemary (about 3 tablespoons total)
  • 8 nice leaves of Italian Parsley and Basil for the raviolis
  • 8 small balls of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers
  • 1 cup of dry vermouth (or chicken stock)
  • Reggiano Parmesan for grating
  • Additional seasoning to taste for the sauce, smoked salt, Vik’s Garlic Fix, coarse black pepper & crushed red pepper.

Cut the tomatoes in half. Place on a cooking sheet with rim. Drizzle with olive oil, Vik’s Garlic Fix, a spring of rosemary leaves and black pepper.

Roast at 350 for 30 minutes

Remove and cool slightly

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On a floured counter, lay out 8 wonton wrappers and place one parsley leaf, one basil leaf, one tomato half and one ball of mozzarella ball on each. On 8 other wonton wrappers, brush the egg wash and then place on top of the “loaded” wrappers. Seal carefully and then cut with a ravioli cutter or leave square. Place these on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and allow to dry a bit. 10 minutes is optional, but 5 is fine.

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While the ravioli is drying, put remaining tomatoes and juices in a saute pan and simmer with the vermouth and additional basil, parsley and rosemary. Season to taste.

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In a pot of boiling water, cook the ravioli for 3-4 minutes in small batches. Use a slotted spoon to plate and cover with sauce and top with cheese.

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Sriracha Buffalo Chicken Wings

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Wings plated with Beer

I love sassy stuff. Sriracha is a staple in my house. So is Frank’s Hot Sauce. This recipe is easy and delicious too. If you want to make it healthy, you can use the sauce as a marinade and grill the wings. I opted for the fry method here, but I do grill them too.

Sauce:

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce

2/3 cup Sriracha Sauce (Rooster on the bottle)

3 tablespoons Vik’s Garlic Fix 

1 tablespoon Sweet Onion Sugar 

Place all in a pan and simmer while frying the wings.

sauce

I used Drummets, they have more meat on them and they are readily available here. When we lived in Hawaii they were impossible to find. I wonder what they do with all of the other wing parts…. cat food?

In a large deep pan, heat oil to 400 and then adjust the heat to maintain 350-400 degrees while frying.

Fry in small batches so the wings do not stick together.

This should take about 6-8 minutes, remove when golden brown.

wings fried

Drain.

Place in a pan once all are fried and pour the sauce over and stir to make sure the wings are completely covered with sauce.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Serve with celery, carrots and blue cheese dressing. FINGER LICKING good.

wings plated

Want another great wing recipe: Here I recreated Husk’s Sweet Tea Brined Smoked Kentuckyaki Chicken Wings. 

And here is a post from my friend Scotty Harris, who lives near Buffalo about wings… he insists there is no such thing as Buffalo Wings, they are just wings to him.

Candied Bacon, Beyond Delicious

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bacon candy

File this one under DELICIOUS! This recipe could not be easier, especially if you have access to the flavored sugars mentioned. But you can also make your own by adding chile powder to raw sugar. The Spice and Tea Exchange of Charleston is part of a larger company with many franchise stores around the US. They also sell everything on their corporate website. I have provided links for the sugars in case you would like to order them. You can also play around with other flavors, but this is a terrific combination.

1 package of bacon, I used thick cut black pepper bacon

3 tablespoons of Spice and Tea Exchange Sweet Onion Sugar

1 tablespoon of Spice and Tea Exchange Habanero Sugar

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  • Place the bacon strips close together on a broiler pan
  • Sprinkle the bacon with the sugars and fresh ground black pepper
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the bacon is crispy

You may want to double this recipe… it is impossible to resist eating these.

All of the grease will go down to the bottom pan and after you pour that out clean up is easy.

 

Grilled Pink Grapefruit

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Grilled grapefruit on salad

I have two grapefruit trees. Both are heavy with yellow and pink orbs. So, when I was grilling chicken the other night, I decided to see what would happen if I grilled some. The results were amazing. The heat brought out the juices in the already juicy fruit and set the sweetness soaring. I used the wonderful Salted Caramel Sugar from The Spice and Tea Exchange of Charleston where I work, but you could use Sugar in the Raw with success.

grapefruit peeled

All you have to do is remove the skin and pith from the grapefruit, this is achieved in much the same way as doing orange supremes. Cut off the top of the grapefruit so you can clearly see where the pith meets the fruit. Then do the same on the bottom. Using a sharp knife, cut away the pith and skin in slices (you can save these for twists in your beverages) and once you have removed the skin, cut thick slices and place on a plate.

grapefruit slices

Just before grilling, top with the sugar and place the unsugared side on the grill. It only takes a few minutes to get grill marks. Flip and sugar the grill marked side. When the sugar has melted and started to caramelize, remove and serve immediately or cool and cut into quarters for salads.

Chicken Orzo Salad grapefruit