four-ingredient slow cooker pulled pork with corn-cabbage slaw

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pulled pork with corn-cabbage slaw on whole wheat roll

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pulled pork with caramelized onions on hamburger bun

DSC04562Allrecipes.com had this recipe that had only three ingredients in it: root beer, pork, and barbecue sauce. As root beer is a rather exotic animal in these parts, I substituted Leo beer instead. I had the beer in the pantry as well as two kinds of Beerenberg sauces that I combined–one for its tomato flavor and the other for its spiciness. So I guess you could say this is a “found” recipe rather like found poetry where you use whatever is on hand to create something new. I used pork tenderloin, which some cooks on the internet said couldn’t or shouldn’t be done as it would get dry and trashy. However, the good thing about using the tenderloin instead of pork shoulder is that the tenderloin is leaner. In addition,  allrecipes.com had already adapted this recipe for pork tenderloin and I found it quite delicious. The only special equipment needed for this recipe is a slow cooker.  Switch it on and forget it–well, almost!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 6 hours

Ingredients
2 pounds pork tenderloin
12 oz Leo beer plus half a can more (original recipe: root beer)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (omit if using root beer)
2 300ml bottles Beerenberg sauces, any flavor (original recipe: barbecue sauce)
caramelized onions for serving, optional
corn slaw for serving, optional
8 hamburger buns or medium rolls

Put the tenderloin in the slow cooker and cover with beer. Add the brown sugar and mix. Turn on the slow cooker to low and let it cook for 6 hours. After 6 hours, remove the tenderloin and shred it with two forks. Drain the liquid from the slow cooker and return the shredded pork to the cooker. Add the sauces. Heat through about 15-20 minutes on low in the slow cooker. Serve hot on hamburger buns topped with caramelized onions or corn-cabbage slaw.

Corn-Cabbage Slaw
Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 ear of corn, kernels removed from the cob or 2 cups frozen corn
1 small cabbage, shredded, about 4 cups
1 cup grape tomatoes
4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup cheese cubes (I used mozzarella)
1-2 jalapeños, thinly sliced on the bias, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the fresh corn in boiling salted water, about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse in cool water. Drain again. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix to coat. Refrigerate until ready to use. Top the pulled pork generously with about 1/3 cup slaw.

lunch: skillet pizza and sangria

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Sangria is easy. Choose any kind of clear juice–apple, pomelo, or grapefruit. Then choose a red juice–pomegranate or grape. I really don’t like to use orange juice partly because of the pulp but mostly because it makes the sangria look “muddy.” Serve it over crushed ice as a non-alcoholic drink with a quarter cup of soda water or seltzer. But it really takes off with red wine. Here’s what you do:

In a tall jar with a wide mouth, add two parts pomelo juice to 1 part grape juice, and 1 cup of apple juice to sweeten. Cut up half an orange, half an apple, quarter a small lime and put all the fruit in the juice mixture–I like the jar better than a jug. Chill. To serve, pour a quarter cup red wine in a glass, top  up with sangria and fruit, and drop in some ice cubes. Drink.

The skillet pizza comes from America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve  made it before and it is really easy to make too. Because it’s ATK tested you know it will come out. I find this dough is tasty without the fuss of making a  pizza dough with yeast. The beer adds a little yeasty-flavor but it’s not required.

Pizza dough
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup beer or water
7 tablespoons olive oil

Pizza topping
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup diced grape tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded basil for garnis

In the workbowl of a food processor put the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Turn it on to low speed. While the motor is running, pour the beer or water down the food chute. Then add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Process until the flour comes together in a shaggy ball.

Remove the dough from the food processor. Wrap dough in plastic film and let it rest 10 minutes. Divide the dough in half and wrap the remaining half in the plastic while you roll out the other half on a lightly floured board into a disk that is roughly 9 inches in diameter. I don’t stress that it’s not a perfect circle; I like the uneven look of the dough–it looks home-made.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. When it is hot, add the disk. When it begins bubble, use a fork to prick the dough. When the underside begins to brown, turn the dough over. Add the tomatoes then the cheese to the fried top. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. It takes about 4 minutes to do the first side. After I add the toppings, I cover the skillet and turn the heat down to medium, letting the dough cook for about 2-4 minutes or until browned, so that the heat has a chance to melt the cheese topping. Repeat with the remaining dough. Garnish each pizza with shredded basil leaves. Makes two personal pizzas! Did I say pizza is great paired with sangria? It is!

miami beach birthday cake for mother’s day

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I make this cake once a year. I like to make it to perfect it. This year I added a caramel sauce to the topping because it seemed a little dry. I know this recipe is long but I took notes so I could remember what to do next year when I bake it again.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Cooling time: 2 1/2 hours
Assembling the cake: 20 minutes

Topping
1 cup (6 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate morsels (at least 70% cacao), divided
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
2-4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Cake
250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 tablespoon for pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon for the pan
338g (1 1/2 cups) superfine sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar in 1 cup measure topped up with milk to 1 cup mark)

Quick Crème Fraîche Frosting (from The Cake Bible)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream or 1 small carton (substitute: Greek style plain yogurt)
2 tablespoons sugar

Equipment needed: 9-inch springform cake pan, 2 wire racks, cake lifter or pancake turner

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix it with 1/2 tablespoon flour. Generously grease bottom and sides of springform pan with this butter-flour mixture. Set aside.

Melt 1/3 cup morsels in a bowl over hot simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Set melted chocolate aside. To make the topping, combine graham cracker crumbs with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add enough melted butter to make the graham crackers come together, up to 2 additional tablespoons. Add nuts and remaining 2/3 cup morsels; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add half the sour milk and beat until just combined. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the remaining buttermilk/sour milk and vanilla to the beaten eggs. Starting and ending with the flour, add the flour mixture alternating with the egg mixture, beating until just moistened. Scrape down the bowl after each addition. There should be light streaks of flour in the batter. Scrape down the sides one last time.

Cake Baker’s Note: To make a chocolate swirl cake, remove 1/2 the batter to a medium bowl. Add the melted chocolate morsels and combine. Pour half the plain batter into the prepared pan. Top this layer with the chocolate batter. Top with the remaining plain batter. Use the end of a wooden spoon or a skewer make 3 large swirls in the batter.

Sprinkle top with crumb mixture, making sure to get right up to the edge of the batter. Bake for 30-40 minutes. If the top still jiggles after 30 minutes, bake another 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then use a skewer to loosen the sides. Remove the side of the springform pan. Cool completely on the wire rack. To remove the bottom, loosen the cake around the edges with a thin blade. Using a pancake turner or a cake lifter, carefully lift the cake from the pan bottom. Remove the pan bottom from the wire rack and place the entire cake back on the wire rack.

Cake Baker’s Note: Cake may be baked one day ahead and stored in an airtight cake tin. First, cool the cake thoroughly. Remove the side as directed but not the bottom. This ensures support for the cake when you remove it from the cake tin. Wrap cake and springform pan bottom airtight in plastic. Store it in a large cake tin, preferably one with a tight fitting lid. When ready to frost the cake, remove the pan bottom as directed.

Make a quick crème fraîche. Chill medium bowl and beaters in the freezer. Put heavy cream, sour cream, and sugar in bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Crème fraîche may be made while the cake is baking then refrigerated until ready to use.

The cake will be completely cooled to frost in about 2 1/2 hours. Slice the cake a little more than in half horizontally with a large serrated knife. Put the half with the topping on another wire cake rack, lifting the layer with a pancake turner or cake lifter.

Cake Baker’s Note: Before slicing the cake horizontally, I put a piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of the nut mixture when I do this so that I can place my hand lightly on top without damaging the nut layer.

Assemble the cake. Place the cake bottom with the cut side up on a serving plate. Put about half the crème fraîche on top of the cut side. Smooth it out evenly. Place the layer with the chocolate-nut mixture on top of the crème fraîche, nut layer up. Frost sides with remainder of crème fraîche. Drizzle caramel sauce on top. Don’t drizzle the sauce too close to the edges or it will run over the sides as happened in the picture. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice with a serrated knife. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Variation
• Top the cut-side layer with crème fraîche. Drizzle the crème with caramel sauce, then place the nut layer on top of the crème fraîche-caramel sauce layer. Frost the sides with crème fraîche.

anya’s mango with sticky rice, dessert fusion style

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This is a fusion version of that Thai favorite in mango season: sticky rice with mango. Going clockwise around the plate:  mango sorbet, mango, coconut-jasmine jelly, mango maccaron with pineapple jam. And that’s a cube of sticky rice with coconut sauce in that syringe-like tube sticking out of it like a junkie’s stolen fix. The tube was the only inedible thing besides that plate. And that purplish blob in the center is taro sorbet. The whole thing was lined up on a bed of crushed cookies and nuts.

As a fusion dessert it was whimsical if a bit puzzling. We had to ask what was in the tube. So we pulled it out of the rice (For some reason The Sword in the Stone flashed in my mind) and squirted the coconut sauce  all over the rice, as that is customary. The dessert tasted a lot better than it looked.  It was sweet, salty, crunchy, cold, gelatinous–though I would have preferred the taro ice cream with corn for texture. We split the maccaron and I was disappointed that the pineapple jam was from a jar. Now I’m curious to know if they outsourced the maccaron, the jelly, the cookies, and the sorbet. We were so completely distracted by the novelty of the presentation that we forgot to notice we only got four pieces of mango, all for the price of Baht 250. I could just spit. At the market you get an entire half of a mango, without the fussy fusion.

chocolate red wine cake with red wine glaze

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This is a cake that’s  dark, fudgy, and moist throughout. The red wine was most pronounced in the raw batter–I scooped the leftovers out of the bowl with my finger. Yum. Because of baking, the red wine taste disappeared. Spooned on a slice of the cake, the red wine glaze, a tart garnet-colored sauce, played against the sweetness of the chocolate cake in a very satisfying way.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake (adapted from Food and Wine Magazine and Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:
Cake
1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder to grease and flour 1 small bundt pan and 1 7-inch springform pan
260g (2 cups) cake flour
66 g (3/4 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (no substitution; see Cake Baker’s Note)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
227g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
394g (1 3/4 cups) superfine sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
Red Wine glaze
28g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup red wine
125g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Crème fraîche or whipped cream, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350˚F or 180˚C. Butter the inside of the pans, making sure to get into the crevices. Add 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder to each pan and swirl it about inside the pan.  Tap out the excess flour.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer. Working in two batches, to the butter mixture add half the flour mixture, all the wine, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat between additions until just incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top so that the batter gets into all the crevices. Then tap the pan on the counter-top to dislodge air bubbles. Then bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack; let cool completely.

To prepare the glaze, combine the butter, wine, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Set aside until ready to serve.

Dust thoroughly cooled cake lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Slice cake and drizzle each slice with glaze. Serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream, if desired.

Cake Baker’s Note: Now that I live in Thailand, both American and European cocoa powders are available, with Hershey’s being more expensive than Van Houten’s. I decided to research the difference between the two cocoas. Food and Wine recommend using an American brand cocoa powder such as Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, or Scharffen Berger in this recipe. Unprocessed or natural cocoa powder is lighter in color than the darker Dutch processed cocoa (Joy the Baker). Because processed cocoa powder’s acidity has been neutralized, it needs baking powder.  So if a recipe doesn’t specify what kind of cocoa to use, look for the baking powder and baking soda in the list of ingredients. However, this isn’t always a hard and fast rule, I have discovered. The recipe called One Bowl Chocolate Cake from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook uses both baking powder and baking soda, with baking powder being the larger amount. Since this is an American recipe I have always used Hershey’s without thinking twice. I did notice though, that Claiborne’s chocolate cake is lighter in color than the chocolate red wine cake. Perhaps it has something to do with the baking powder? I need to do more research!

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linguine in katsuo nori furikake carbonara sauce

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Since making the breakfast baozi the other day I have discovered the wonderful umami flavor of katsuo nori furikake. The sauce is hardly complicated. First I made a roux then whisked in a cup and a half of warm milk. I added about two tablespoons furikake and two teaspoons of soy sauce, a bit of salt and several twists of cracked pepper. To the sauce I added the cooked linguine with blanched sugar snap peas, stir-fried carrots and sweet pepper, and some shredded cooked chicken. That’s it. My take on carbonara sauce!