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Pernil on the Grill

31 Aug

Pernil on the Grill

This past August, my parents rented a lovely place upstate in the Hudson Valley and generously invited me and my boyfriend Michael, and my brother Jonathan and his fiancee Eva, to come visit as much as possible. Boy, did we take them up on that. One night, it was just the four of us without the parents, and when Jonathan invited his friends Mikey and Nicole to come over for dinner, I knew we had an excuse to go all out and make something special, something our parents would never go for . We settled on pernil, the slow-roasted Puerto Rican pork shoulder. We planned on using Joshua Bousel’s version of the recipe from his grilling column on Serious Eats. I called up Fleisher’s in Kingston, New York, a finalist for Happiest Place On Earth, and placed an order for the pernil, which is often sold as a picnic shoulder (it’s the lower part of the shoulder, with skin on and bone in).

When my brother went to pick up this beautiful hunk of meat, the woman behind the counter suggested that we score the skin, rub salt and herbs all over the thing, let it sit overnight, brush off the salt, marinate for a few hours, roast in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour to crisp the skin, then finish on an indirect, low grill for 3-4 hours. This differed a bit from the original plan. Always one to trust the butcher, especially at a mecca of fine meatstuffs such as Fleisher’s, I decided to follow this recipe, borrowing from Bousel’s.

After a total of about 5 hours on the grill (plus one hour in the oven to start), the thing was just shy of falling apart tender, salty in places and just plain porky in others, absolutely perfect served with a drizzle of mojo sauce or just some lime juice–something bright and tart to cut the richness of the meat. Hands down one of the best things I’ve ever made. Click “Read More” for the pernil and mojo recipes.

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Cocktail Hour: Rhubarb Syrup

4 Jun

Cocktail Hour: Rhubarb Syrup

Last week at the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket I was moved to buy a bunch of rhubarb stalks. I don’t know why. I’ve never cooked with the stuff, and when I got it home I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I landed on a recipe from The Paupered Chef for a simple syrup made with rhubarb. Looked easy enough, which was lucky because I fancied a cocktail. (more…)

Ramp Fever: Scrambled Eggs with Ramps

30 Apr

Ramp Fever: Scrambled Eggs with Ramps

What do you do with ramps? As little as possible.

The leafy wild leeks that inspire euphoria and rage at the Greenmarket in early spring each year are absolutely delicious but pretty mild. Throwing them in a stir fry with everything else in your fridge is a waste; the flavor of the ramps will get overpowered. No, lately I’ve been thinking that they need as little interference as possible.

Lately I’ve been chopping them up a bit and then scrambling them with eggs. This is great on toast but even better on a corn tortilla with a bit of hot sauce or salsa; the sweet ramps will steal the show. They’re also great in polenta, or tossed with pasta. Click through for the recipe. (more…)

Other Books: The New Basics

30 Mar

Other Books: The New Basics

I received a press copy of How to Cook Everything: The Basics weeks ago, and I meant to write about it right away. But I found myself stymied. Because I think that what Bittman and his team may have unleashed upon us here is a book so good that it could replace the full edition. And that sounds like crazy talk! (more…)

Freelancing: Braised Pork with Tomatoes, Cinnamon and Olives

3 Feb

Freelancing: Braised Pork with Tomatoes, Cinnamon and Olives

I’ve written a few times now about how much I adore Melissa Clark’s recent cookbook, Cook This Now. In a year when culinary hero Jacques Pepin released an expansive career retrospective, Melissa managed to write the best cookbook of the year for my money (which is not to downplay the Essential Pepin, a truly essential work).

My admiration for her work led me to reach out to Melissa a few months back, and to my delight I found myself doing some freelance work on her blog over at melissaclark.net. Melissa’s been blogging recipes over there for years, but she wanted a page that would index all those recipes. As it turns out, there are over two hundred of them in all! I’m proud to tell you that as of today, that page is live on Melissa’s site, and there’s something for everyone on it. (more…)

Tomato and Bread Gratin

30 Jan

Tomato and Bread Gratin

Here’s one of those elegant-yet-simple Pepin dishes from Essential Pepin. Toss together tomatoes, bread (torn or cubed up), garlic, parsley or thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Put in a gratin dish. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Garnish with some more parsley or thyme, but only if you feel like it. Serve. Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. I think I ate half in the kitchen before I served it. (more…)

Treats: Christmas Bark

27 Jan

Treats: Christmas Bark

So, I’m a little late here, but you could certainly make this for Valentine’s Day, or the Super Bowl. Or to celebrate that you don’t have bedbugs, and that your paranoid freakout just that, nothing more. Wait, what? I digress.

For these I used toasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, for their Christmas color scheme, and broken up pretzels, because I love any chocolate/pretzel combination. Recipe follows, adapted from this one from the Barefoot Contessa. (more…)

Sort-of Stir-fry: Soy Poached Shrimp with Greens and Tofu

26 Jan

Sort-of Stir-fry: Soy Poached Shrimp with Greens and Tofu

So, this recipe is something I made based on a Minimalist recipe for fish poached in soy sauce, which is a great way to cook any type seafood (flavorful and forgiving). As Bittman noted in his column, the scallions end up being the best part after simmering in the poaching liquid. I threw in some tofu and greens to round out the dish and served it over rice. Click through for the recipe. (more…)

Got Yourself a Stew Going: Beef Stew

9 Jan

Got Yourself a Stew Going: Beef Stew

This beef stew, the recipe from How to Cook Everything augmented with a whole lot of dried shiitakes, was a Fishner joint all the way: my brother and I collaborated in the kitchen to make a huge double batch of it (way too much, incidentally). Which is to say, it was all his fault that the beef came out dry and flavorless. Okay, fine, that’s not really true. I think we just picked out too lean a cut of meat. Dry meat aside, it was still delicious. I picked the beef out of my portion, and upped the amount of egg noodles. A fantastic meal, all things considered. (more…)

Mystery Vegetables: Any Vegetable Soup

29 Nov

Mystery Vegetables: Any Vegetable Soup

Shopping at the farmer’s market is great for a number of reasons. One of them is the interesting, lesser known vegetables you can get your hands on that are never seen at your local A&P. But what do you do when you get home with a bunch of parsley root? I’ll tell you, below, with a recipe to boot. (more…)