Monthly Archives: April 2012

Hawaiian SPAM Fried Rice Recipe

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In my last post, I admitted that I like SPAM. I’ve since received emails from chef and food writer friends of mine that have read like this:

“Honey, are you depressed?”

“Food Blogga likes Spam? No way!”

OK, folks, this SPAM antipathy has got to end. It’s good. It’s pork. How could it not be good? Especially when you eat it like I did in Hawaii — pan-seared to crisp perfection and tossed into softly scrambled eggs and wrapped inside of a warm tortilla or diced until lightly browned and added to a spicy, chili-laced, Asian vegetable stir-fry.

One of the tastiest SPAM dishes I ate in Hawaii was a breakfast fried rice with diced SPAM and egg. You’ve eaten pork or ham fried rice and loved it, right? Well, you’ll love SPAM fried rice too. And if you think fried rice wouldn’t taste good in the morning, think again. It was somehow satisfying yet not heavy. We’d eat it and stay comfortable until late afternoon.

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Since we’ve returned home to San Diego, I haven’t attempted to make SPAM musubi; working with Nori still intimidates me. But I have made SPAM fried rice, and you should too. In the recipe below, I used Lite SPAM and low-sodium soy sauce to reduce the sodium level in the dish and added lots of healthy fresh veggies, ginger, and herbs. Enjoy it as a side with baked fish or as a main meal with a green salad. You can even scoop it into large Iceberg lettuce leaves for a fun, hand-held appetizer.

Whatever you do, give SPAM a chance.

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Hawaiian SPAM Pineapple Fried Rice

Serves 4

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

6 ounces Lite SPAM, diced

3 scallions, thinly sliced (reserve some of the green part for garnish)

1/2 large red bell pepper, diced

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 small red or green chili (the more the seeds the hotter the flavor)

2 cups leftover cooked white rice

1 cup diced pineapple, preferably fresh

1 to2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (salted or unsalted)

1. In a wok or a large skillet over high heat, warm sesame oil. Add the SPAM and saute 2 minutes. Add scallions, red bell pepper, ginger, and chili; saute 3 minutes, or until SPAM is lightly browned all over. Add cooked rice, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add pineapple, soy sauce, and macadamia nuts; stir until well coated and heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the scallion greens and serve immediately.

I Like SPAM.

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I like SPAM. I didn’t know I liked it until a month ago when my husband and I were visiting The Big Island in Hawaii. Having grown up in an Italian-American family on the East Coast, it’s not something my mom bought. (We weren’t even allowed to buy jarred tomato sauce.) In fact, when I called her from Hawaii recently, here’s what she had to say:

Mom: “Hi, honey. What’d you have for breakfast this morning?”

Me: “SPAM musubi. It’s a big rice ball filled with SPAM and wrapped in Nori seaweed. It’s amazing.”

Mom: “Ham and rice?”

Me: “No, SPAM and rice.”

Mom: “Cause I know you’d never eat SPAM. Blech.”

Me: “Mom, it’s SPAM, not ham.”

Mom: “Not the pink stuff in the can? —Dramatic pause — You wouldn’t!”

Me: “I would and I did. And it’s actually really good. You’d like it.”

Mom: “I can’t believe my daughter ate SPAM.”

I hadn’t heard that kind of despondency in her voice since “Dynasty” went off the air in 1991. I understand her disbelief. SPAM has endured a lifetime of unnecessary scorn. Hormel Foods introduced Spam in 1937 as a way to use up leftover pork shoulder and ham; however, it quickly (and unfortunately) become known as “mystery meat,” paving the way for ridicule and satire, most famously illustrated in the 1970 Monty Python “Spam” skit.  Since it was canned and wouldn’t spoil easily, SPAM was ideal for the military; during WWII, more than 100 million pounds of SPAM were shipped abroad to feed allied troops. Due to its geographic isolation and limited farming, Hawaii quickly became a destination for SPAM as well. Hawaiians love SPAM: Almost 4.5 million cans of SPAM are eaten per year in Hawaii, which comes out to an average of six cans per person. They eat it at home in sandwiches, stir-fries, salads, rice dishes, and more. Many McDonald’s franchises there offer SPAM burgers and scrambled eggs with SPAM, and most restaurants offer at least one item with SPAM.

6935953422_8dc237bbc4_bHawaiian SPAM Musubi

Here’s how I came to like and understand SPAM: my husband. Each morning on our Hawaii trip, we’d walk to the local Island Gourmet market which sells Hawaiian foods, products, and memorabilia. On the first morning he picked up a few packages of cooked foods including SPAM musubi. I didn’t want to taste it. He cajoled. I acquiesced. I experienced a revelation.

Biting into the SPAM musubi is a full-on sensory experience. The paper-tissue thin, black Nori, which tastes and smells like the ocean, contrasts deliciously with the sticky, chewy, white rice and slightly salty, very hammy SPAM. That’s right— if you like ham, you’ll like SPAM. I took a second bite, then a third, then told my husband he had to go back inside the store to buy himself another one. This SPAM musubi was mine. Turns out SPAM musubi is a wildly popular Hawaiian snack. I spotted it in many markets and even at several convenience stores in those square glass heated cases that store hot pretzels and hot dogs.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering if SPAM is just a Hawaiian thing, SPAM.com, the official SPAM website, says that it has sold over 7 billion cans. I’d say that makes the mystery meat pretty popular. Take that, Mom.

IACP New York 2012, Fashion and Food: My Experience


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Some pork swag for attendees.

I love blogging here at Pork, Knife & Spoon. I get to write about tasty topics like bacon, BBQ, and holiday traditions and create recipes for porky fare including BBQ spare ribs, pork tenderloin, and bacon ice cream. I chat with chefs and cookbook authors and get to host contests (for bacon!) and give away great prizes like a children’s cooking set. Best of all, I get to talk pork with all of you here and on Twitter at @PorkandKnife.

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Hanging out with my fellow fabulous Pork Board gals.

Recently I had a special opportunity: The Pork Board hosted several of us at the 34th International Association of Culinary Professionals’s (IACP) annual meeting, where culinary icons including Jaques Pepin and Amanda Hesser and working people come together to share, learn, and be inspired. This year’s meeting took place in New York City, and as such, the organizers chose The Fashion of Food as the theme. Shoes and food? I’m there.

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Our session: “Marketers and Bloggers: How to Create Rewarding Alliances.”

There were over 75 sessions on topics ranging from food trends and craft beer to how to pitch editors and write compelling recipes. I was a speaker on a panel entitled, “Marketers and Bloggers: How to Create Rewarding Alliances.” My distinguished co-panelists included Cathy Lee Frederickson of The Pork Board (@allaboutpork on Twitter), Casey Benedict of Kitchen Play, Janet Helm of Nutrition Unplugged, Jenn Sutherland of Edelman Public Relations, Katie Goodman of the blog Good Life Eats, and Heather Travis, head of public relations at Canadian Beef. We were able to help scores of marketers and bloggers by sharing our stories of success and answering their many questions. Perhaps the primary theme of our session was for marketers and bloggers to cultivate long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, like I have here with the Pork Board. It was a gratifying and rewarding experience.

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Networking

As for the rest of the conference, here are a few nuggets I gleaned about food and fashion:

  • Kale is currently the most fashionable vegetable out there. I believe I heard it mentioned in six different panels. One speaker even quipped, “I wonder when Kale, the Book is coming out?”
  • Some foods, including petite macarons are no longer the super models of desserts. Pie tried valiantly to take macaron’s spot, but the humble confection couldn’t pull it off. French cannelles are getting a lot of press among the fashionistas of food but still haven’t caught the public’s imagination.
  • People are increasingly seeking novel vegetarian and vegan options. Notice to restauranteurs and chefs: grilled portobello sandwiches and veggie lasagna aren’t cutting it anymore.
  • Unlike the waistlines of runway models, dietary restrictions continue to grow. Food distributors and chefs who can provide delicious alternatives to people with allergies will not only benefit financially but will also gain the loyalty of shoppers and diners.
  • Cupcakes haven’t died yet. But there’s hope.
  • Freelance food writing unfortunately remains an over-saturated, under-paid field. (Ruth Reichl confirmed this.)
  • Depending on where you live, Ramen noodles may be painfully hip, passe, or non-existent.
  • Everyone still loves bacon.
  • New York Times food writer, Kim Severson, is the Ellen Degeneres of the culinary world and should have her own TV show.

As another example of our working well together, The Pork Board asked me to create a recipe for  the IACP which I’m sharing here. These Espresso-Maple Pulled Pork Breakfast Burritos are spicy, salty, earthy, sweet, sticky, tangy, and chewy. Eat them for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Because pulled pork tastes great any time of day.

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Espresso-Maple Pulled Pork and Egg Breakfast Burritos
Makes 10 burritos
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 6 to 7 hours

1 (3- 3 1/2 pound) boneless pork butt (shoulder) or sirloin roast

Dry Rub:
1 1/2 tablespoons ground espresso (or very dark roast coffee)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Espresso-Maple Barbecue Sauce:
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup brewed espresso (or very dark roast coffee)
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt

Eggs:
1 teaspoon olive oil
10 large eggs
A couple of pinches of salt and black pepper
10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup regular or low-fat grated cheddar or mixed Mexican cheese

Add the rub ingredients to a small bowl and stir until well blended. Rub the mixture over all sides of the meat pressing it to adhere. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place meat, fat side up, on the rack of a shallow roasting pan. Cook uncovered 2 hours. Raise oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Cover meat with tinfoil and cook 4 to 5 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees and meat is very tender. Transfer the meat to a cutting board, tent with tinfoil, and let rest for 20 minutes.

In a small pot over medium-high heat, add barbecue sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Pour sauce in a wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the meat.

Uncover the meat, and using two forks, shred into bite-size pieces. Transfer shredded meat to the dish with the barbecue sauce and toss to coat completely.

Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

To make the eggs, warm olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk eggs with salt and black pepper and pour into the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft and fluffy, but no longer runny.

To assemble a burrito, place a warm tortilla on a plate. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese, top with 3/4 -1 cup of bbq pulled pork, a spoonful of eggs, then an additional 1 tablespoon cheese. Roll up and serve hot. If making ahead, place on a baking sheet and keep in a warm (200 degrees F) oven until ready to serve.

What’s the Secret to Great Scallop Chowder? Bacon, Of Course.

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What do you do when you get home from the fish market, open your bag and realize that the two pounds of large sea scallops you thought you bought are actually two pounds of tiny bay scallops? You put them back in the refrigerator, get in your car, and go to the market to buy bacon for the scallop chowder you’re going to make.

Having grown up in New England, I’ve eaten my fair share of creamy chowders, and the truly great ones share one common characteristic: They’re made with bacon. With its distinctive salty-smokiness, bacon has a way of bringing out the best in others. And in this recipe, you’ll saute the vegetables in the bacon fat instead of butter or oil, which infuses the entire chowder with bacon flavor.

Thank you, bacon.

Bay Scallop Chowder with Crumbled Bacon
Makes 8 servings
Adapted from Scallop Chowder on MyRecipes.com

NOTE: I use 2% low-fat milk, but low-fat or full-fat regular milk will work as well.

4 slices bacon (or up to 6 if you’d like a no-holds barred bacon flavor)
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup chopped celery (about 4 stalks)
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
4 cups diced Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups 2% low- fat milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 pounds bay scallops
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/3 chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Let the bacon cool; then crumble and set aside. Add onion and celery; sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add clam juice, black pepper, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender.
2. Combine milk and flour and whisk until smooth; add to the pot and bring to a simmer; do not boil, or the milk will separate. Stir in scallops, half-and-half, thyme, parsley, and half of the crumbled bacon. Cook 3 minutes, or until the scallops turn opaque. Remove from heat. Garnish individual servings with remaining crumbled bacon and, if desired, thyme sprigs.

Got Leftover Easter Ham? Make Deviled Ham Sandwiches.

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Ever wonder how “deviled ham” got its name? So-called “deviled” foods are those prepared with hot seasonings, such as cayenne pepper and dry mustard. (And, yes, the name refers to the mythical red-hot horned beast from hell.) In the 1960s, deviled ham sandwiches were the stars of the ladies luncheons. They were typically bite-sized creations of ground cooked ham mixed with a variety of seasonings and condiments — cayenne pepper, spicy mustard, chopped pickled and mayonnaise — spread between bread.

Apparently, there were also potent main-bait. As you can see from the vintage ad above, all a woman needed to trap a full-blooded all-American man was a picnic basket filled with Underwood deviled ham and egg sandwiches. The Underwood Company, which was created in 1868, helped make deviled ham sandwich spread wildly popular throughout much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with its effective marketing to women.

Needless to say, deviled ham sandwiches have lost their luster over the ensuing decades. Yet, I think they can make a comeback. Here’s why: they’re inexpensive, nostalgic, tasty, and oh-so-Mad Men. Can’t you see Betty Draper serving deviled ham sandwiches with icy cold bottles of Coca-Cola for a summertime ladies luncheon?

I’ve done my part to help the deviled ham sandwich make a comeback by including a recipe for it in my book, The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, Recipes, History, and Trivia For Everything Between Sliced Bread. With bracing Worcestershire sauce, hot Tabasco, and tangy sweet pickle relish this deviled ham sandwich recipe would make even the red-hot horned demon sweat under the collar. So grab your leftover Easter ham and whip up some sandwiches. And to keep from over-heating, don’t forget some all-American Coca-Cola on ice.

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Photo credit, Matt Armendariz

Deviled Ham Sandwich from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches

Make about 1 dozen finger sandwiches of 4 full sandwiches

2 cups chopped or ground cooked ham

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 teaspoons Tabasco

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 finger rolls or white or whole wheat bread sliced into circles with a cookie cutter

1 cup alfalfa sprouts, optional

1. Pulse ham in a food processor. In a medium bowl, combine with relish, mayo, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and pepper. Mix until well blended.

2. Spoon filling into bread. Top with alfalfa sprouts, if desired.

The Daily Buzz Whips Up Easter Ham

Easter isn’t Easter without a ham. And I know you’ve got yours. You do, don’t you? If not, stop what you’re doing and go to the market right now and buy yourself a big, beautiful ham. Actually, watch this video first, then go to the market and buy yourself a big, beautiful ham, and Reese’s peanut butter egg. Just because they’re so good.

In the short video below you’ll be ham inspired by Daily Buzz Chef John Ashton. With lightening speed (and a charming British accent) Chef Ashton pulls together a Thyme-Basted Ham with Roasted Grapes in less than 15 minutes! He also tells you how you could win an Easter ham.

For more Easter inspiration, check out these posts:

Italian Easter Sausage Bread

Three New Easter Ham Recipes from Pork, Be Inspired

BLT Deviled Eggs AND Bacon and Blue Cheese Wedge Salad

Even better, there’s a give-away involved. Last week  gave away two Easter hams, and the generous folks at The Pork Board want to give away more!

A BLT Deviled Eggs Recipe and Pork Chat with Kendra Bailey Morris

Here at Pork, Knife & Spoon, we’re always on the look-out for fellow pork lovers. Today, we’ve got a lady who says “pork is her thang.” Her name is Kendra Bailey Morris, and she’s a Virginia-based food writer who has contributed to a variety of publications including Food Republic, Better Homes and Gardens, and Chile Pepper Magazine. She is the author of White Trash Gatherings: From-Scratch Cooking for Down-Home Entertaining (Ten Speed Press, 2006) and writes about food on her blog, Fat Back and Fois Gras. She also currently hosts a monthly cooking segment featuring Virginia grown products for the Virginia Farm Bureau’s television show, “Real Virginia.”

In the video below, which she made for The Virginia Farm Bureau, Kendra shares her recipe for sassy BLT Deviled Eggs. They’re fun for Easter brunch, a birthday party, or just a lazy Saturday afternoon picnic.

Q: What was your inspiration for the BLT deviled eggs recipe?

A: My thought-process when developing this recipe was, “How can I go wrong if I take all of the elements of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and stuff it into a deviled egg?” Admittedly, I am addicted to both deviled eggs and bacon, so that right there is a winning combo. Add in a bit of mayo, a few minced bread and butter pickles, and then top it all off with shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes, and you’ve got a smoky, salty sweet combination that is impossible to resist.

Q: How does pork inspire you as a cook?

A: Growing up on my grandma’s and my mom’s country cooking (I’m originally from West Virginia, by the way), there was always some kind of pork dish on our dinner table, whether it was kale cooked with a ham hock, brown beans cooked in fatback, cornbread made with a bit of bacon grease (and yes, I have a little pot of bacon grease next to the stove at all times) or my mom’s famous slow-cooked barbecued ribs. My grandfather used can his own breakfast sausage, and I’ve been to and hosted my fair share of Southern-style whole hog pig pickin’s where the star of the show was fifteen hour slow-smoked meat that simply falls apart in your hands. There’s really nothing like it. At home, we try to eat a little healthier and often cook boneless pork chops in a simple marinade or grill pork loin rubbed in garlic, rosemary and olive oil. This, and a side of garden-fresh vegetables makes for a simple, elegant and healthy meal. We do this often.

Q: Would you please share a favorite Easter tradition and/or recipe with us?

A: I’m a huge fan of iceberg wedge salads, and one of my favorite ways to make it at home is to top the lettuce with homemade blue cheese dressing and crumbled bacon. It’s so good, and when it comes to entertaining for the holidays, it’s a great make-ahead starter that’s easy to assemble at the last-minute since the dressing can be made up to two days ahead. (See recipe below.)

Q: Finally, what do you hope the Easter bunny brings you this year?

A: Chocolate covered bacon!

Thank you, Kendra! I’ll put in a good word with the Easter Bunny for ya. He and I are tight.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Wedge Salad
By Kendra Bailey Morris
Serves 4

1 head of iceberg lettuce
Buttermilk blue cheese dressing (see recipe below)
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 cup blue cheese, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced chives, optional

Cut lettuce in 8 wedges and plate two wedges on each plate. Drizzle each wedge with some blue cheese dressing. Then sprinkle with tomato, bacon bits and blue cheese. Season with freshly ground black pepper and garnish with chives.  Serve any additional dressing on the side.

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing
Makes about 4-6 servings

½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk*
1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1 small clove garlic, minced
Coarse black pepper, to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together mayo, buttermilk and sour cream. Add rest of ingredients and mix well, incorporating the blue cheese, but leaving a few chunks as well. Season generously with black pepper, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If dressing is too thick, simply add a little more buttermilk until you achieve your desired consistency. Add less buttermilk if you want a chunkier-type dip.

Note: this dressing is excellent served alongside spicy Buffalo wings and celery.