Monthly Archives: May 2010

we’re heading out on a pork-celebrating trip

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Danny, Lu, and I are excited beyond words about a trip next week. (Okay, Lu isn't even 2, so she doesn't entirely understand. But she will have a great time!)

We're going to one of the states pictured here. Can you guess?

It's a pork-loving state.

It's blue on this map.

It's right in the middle (or I meant it to be, when I took this photograph).

That's right. We're going to Iowa!

The Pork Board is flying us to Iowa for farm tours, meat fabrication classes, a visit to the La Quercia factory, and various other fun adventures.

We can't wait to bring you these stories.

In the meantime, if you know any places in Iowa where we can eat great pork, pass along the suggestions, please!

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pork tenderloin blog

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Sometimes people say to us: wow, aren't you tired of writing about pork by now? After all, we're headed into our second year of writing this blog. For someone less interested in pork than we are, this could be too specific a focus.

We're not even close to tired of writing about pork. We could go on for years here, and we hope we do. There's something creatively interesting about using gazing at one subject and see what emerges when you look through that lens.

Besides, if you think this blog is specific, we have found one far more specific.

Des Loines is a blog entirely about the various breaded pork tenderloins available across Iowa, and near Des Moines in particular.

This may be the greatest blog we have ever seen.

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pork red salsa tamale

pork red salsa tamale

I love farmers' markets. I love meeting the farmers, trying different varieties of apples, finding fennel bulbs to plant in our garden for $3 a package.

It's hard to find someone unhappy at a farmers' markets. Everyone chooses to be there, for the most part. Even when it's raining, we're beaming.

And if you're lucky, like I was recently, you come across a stand run by a brother and sister from Mexico who are determined to teach Americans what real Mexican food tastes like, teach through tasting.

I was happy to be their student for this red salsa pork tamale.

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barbecued pork ribs

barbecued ribs

Early spring warm evening. Kid in bed, the day’s work behind us. It’s so warm it’s almost balmy. Time to eat on the porch.

It’s the year’s first barbecued ribs.

Want some?

Put the pork spareribs in Danny’s brine.

Let them sit for 8 hours or more.

When you are ready to cook, fire up the grill.

Remove the pork ribs from the brine and pat them dry, as dry as you can.

Season them with salt and pepper.

Slather them with Danny’s barbecue sauce and cook them.

Danny’s favorite barbecue sauce for pork

barbequed pork

After a wonderful lunch together, our friend Matthew had only one question:

can I get the recipe for that barbecue sauce?

This is Danny's favorite barbeque sauce. It's always good, slightly unusual, not overly sweet the way many bottled dressings can be. We use it on everything, but we especially love this on barbecued pork loin.

Now, it's yours too. (And Matthew's.)

1 cup ketchup
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup oyster sauce (we have to make sure ours is gluten-free)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
½ bunch green onions, sliced thin

In a saucepan, bring the ketchup, rice wine vinegar, oyster sauce, garlic cloves, and green onions to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down to medium and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the barbecue sauce.

Use as you wish.

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brining pork

brining the pork ribs

Danny told me recently: “We need to brine all our pork from now on.”

He has been working on a brine recipe for pork, based on the basic ratio he knows and the flavors he likes. He'd like you to know that all pork — no matter what the cut — is more tender with some time in the brine. (And you can let it sit overnight, while you sleep, so there is really no work involved.)

Here is Danny's template of the moment:

½ cup brown sugar
10 bay leaves
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
½ bunch fresh thyme
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley
½ cup garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons peppercorns
1 cup kosher salt
5 quarts water

Put all the ingredients into a large stockpot over high heat. Stir the liquid until the salt has completely dissolved. Turn off the heat. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature.

Plunge the pork into the brine and let it sit in the brine, in the refrigerator, for at least 8 hours.

Let us know what you think after you have brined your first pair of pork chops or pork loin.

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salami and asparagus

asparagus and salami

It's finally warm in Seattle. We had this unseasonably cold May, after a mild winter, and everyone is confused by what the weather will be next.

However, yesterday, we had a lovely picnic with our friend Jenise, in the middle of a community garden, and we were all wearing short sleeves.

We brought lots of food, far more than we could eat, but this was my favorite plate. Blanched asparagus, lightly salted, alongside slices of salami from The Swinery here in Seattle.

All year long we wait for local asparagus. Eat asparagus in January and you'll be sadly disappointed by its lack of taste. But when the stalks are grown just on the other side of the mountain, the taste is fresh and green and full.

We wait all year for asparagus season.

Luckily, it's always the season for cured pork.

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Cornmeal mush and bacon

cornmeal mush and bacon

My mom used to make cornmeal mush for us for breakfast.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I understood not everyone had eaten cornmeal mush, or even heard of it before. You see, my mom spent the first part of her childhood in Pennsylvania, in Pennsylvania Dutch company. It's an area of Southeastern and South Central Pennsylvania, populated before 1800 by German-speaking peoples. Pennsylvania Dutch was originally Pennsylvania Deutsch, you see. The area has its own colloquialisms and habits. In my family, we didn't clear the dinner dishes. We redded off the table.

And we ate cornmeal mush, a simple combination of cornmeal, water, butter and salt, simmered the night before into a porridge, then chilled overnight in a casserole pan. In the morning, my mom sliced up the chilled porridge and fried it up on our electric skillet, smothered it in maple syrup, then handed it to us at the breakfast table.

I always loved it.

Danny had never eaten cornmeal mush before he met me. We make polenta all the time, which isn't very different from the cornmeal porridge we made, so it wasn't a leap for us to make our own. I fried it up for us one morning with good olive oil and a pinch of salt. Danny didn't want syrup — silly man. So I took this picture of his relatively clean plate.

We did agree on one thing: bacon. This plate needed bacon.

I particularly love a thick, smoky slice of bacon dipped in maple syrup. With this breakfast, I got my wish.

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pinwheels with prosciutto

lu loved the savory palmiers

This is a palmier. It's usually a sweet cookie, made from puff pastry and rolled into a tight log, then cut into these cookies that look like large ears.

This, however, is a savory palmier. A palmier with honey mustard, fresh sage, Parmesan, black pepper, and prosciutto.

(And technically, since it's not sugary, this is called a pinwheel, not a palmier.)

Our toddler certainly enjoyed them. Moreover, these were made with gluten-free puff pastry, a recipe I spent months developing. You? Gluten eaters? All you need is some frozen pastry dough from the store.

Would you like one?

You would? Then you need to buy a copy of The Newlywed Kitchen: Delicious Meals for Couples Cooking Together.

One of the authors of this book is a good friend of ours, so you might think we're biased. We probably are. (In fact, I wrote about that here, extensively.) However, part of the reason we are such good friends with Ms. Lorna Yee is that she loves to eat and talk about food as much as we do. And oh boy, is she ever a pork enthusiast.

So we can recommend this book to you, enthusiastically, without any hesitation. Everything in it is great. But look at the pork recipes alone:

Bacon, Onion, and Pecorino Mini Quiches

Bourbon-Glazed Baby Back Ribs with Sweet-and-Smoky Barbecue Sauce

Cheddar, Ham, and Dill Biscuits

Cheddar Cheese Grits with Shrimp and Bacon Gravy

Chicken and Chorizo Empanadas

Cuban Roast Sandwiches

Extra-Cheesy Classic Lasagna

Italian Grandmother Meatballs

Kale, White Bean, and Sausage Soup

Lorna's Award-Winning Four-Cheese-Mac-and-Cheese (with bacon)

Pancetta-Wrapped Pork with Gorgonzola Sauce

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Slow-Cooked Ragu

Smoky-Sweet Corn Pudding

Steamed Clams in White Wine with Chorizo

Super Bowl Chili

Warm Mushroom Salad with Ginger Soy Vinaigrette

You love pork? Yeah, you're going to want to buy this book.

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ham at a picnic

Ashley's quinoa salad

It's May 1st today. Thank goodness. It's really and truly spring.

Or so we thought.

Yesterday, we had a much-anticipated picnic with our friends Ashley, Gabe, and their two darling sons. Our daughter loves these two, plus we chose a picnic spot at the beach, with swing sets and slides nearby. What could go wrong?

Well, it rained. A cold, hard rain. (This has been the strangest spring in Seattle.)

Thank goodness for covered picnic areas, for good friends who know how to laugh off the unexpected unpleasantness, for jackets always in the trunk of the car, and for Ashley's quinoa salad with avocadoes.

perfect picnic food

It went really well with the Black Forest ham we had brought, along with the cheese. In the cold rain, a slice of salty, slightly sweet cured ham made everything feel better.

(Pork is actually a great accompaniment to quinoa. The nutty grain goes well with the full-bodied taste of bacon or sausage or ham. We've been enjoying the combination lately.

Plus, Ashley brought handmade macarons.

Really, it was a lovely picnic. Being with good friends and good food — the weather doesn't really matter.

But man, it has to grow warm around here someday!

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