A weekend in Austin

27 Oct

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I’m in route back to North Carolina after a wonderful weekend full of adventure and love in Austin, Texas. Many members of my family and childhood friends traveled from coasts and mountains to meet up and celebrate the nuptials of my cousin Callie and partner Eli. Eli has been considered a part of the Thompson family for many of years but the opportunity to celebrate their love and commitment was a special day that we’ve all have been looking forward to. The wedding was a perfect reflection of their style, humor, artistic nature and family traditions combined. I’m so glad I was able to share the day with them.

The weekend also provided time to catch up with childhood friends, celebrate my grandfather’s belated 90th birthday and explore Austin! Of course, it was a weekend of much eating – Torchy’s Taco Truck, Salt Lick BBQ, Jester King Brewery, brunch at Lamberts, an incredible wedding dinner from East Side King and a final most amazing Thai dinner at Sway. I’d recommend all of them if you visit. And, of course I have a list of places I’d love to try next time.

We all went crazy for the brussel sprouts from East Side King at the wedding. They were packed with flavor, herbs and spicy jalapeños. I was lucky enough to find the recipe online (see below) and I can’t wait to attempt to recreate them at home.

Fried Brussels Sprouts (East Side King)

1 cup sweet chili sauce, preferably Mae Ploy brand
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Thai chiles, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound brussels sprouts, quartered
1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced green cabbage
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1 large jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
Salt
1/8 cup torn fresh mint leaves
1/8 cup torn fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Fried Brussels Sprouts. Photo (c) Angie Mosier
1. Place the chili sauce, vinegar, garlic, and Thai chiles in a small mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the brussels sprouts and cook them until the cores of the sprouts are approaching golden brown and the edges are caramelized, about 1 1/2 minutes.

3. Toss the red and green cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, onion, and jalapeño in a large mixing bowl. Add the brussels sprouts and the chili sauce mixture. Season with salt to taste and garnish with the mint, cilantro, and basil.

Halloween Chili Ideas

23 Oct

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My favorite tree in Westerwood is at it’s most glamorous right now. It is bright orange and glowing in the sunlight and loosing leaves daily. Winston and I love taking short trips over to stand under the tree and gaze at the orange filtered light. It’s also a reminder of Halloween around the corner. Every year, I make a big pot of chili and invite friends to join me on my front porch for bourbon cocktails and bowls of goodness. This year I’m planning on making a beef brisket chili and I look forward to reporting back. In the meantime, here are a variety of chili recipes if you’re looking to get into the swing of Fall and Halloween!

 

Pear Pulled Pork with Currant and Caper Cauliflower Slaw

20 Oct

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It’s a joke between my friends that ever since my friend Jessica moved away, we’ve been eating a lot of pork. It’s true – we’ve saved up a lot of pork recipes while entertaining and cooking with our kosher friend. Now that she’s gone, we send tipsy texts and devour pork noodle soups and slow roasted pork shoulder. Kidding aside, it’s the perfect time of year for slow cooking anything  and this pear pulled pork is perfect on it’s own or with a tangy cauliflower slaw on a warm roll. This is pretty fancy for a tailgate but would impress plenty of friends at any gathering.

We enjoyed this on Friday night while sipping pear & ginger cocktails on the front porch.

This post is sponsored by the North Carolina Pork Council. 

Pear Pulled Pork

  • 7 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons, kosher salt
  • 1yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 pear chopped
  • 1 orange sliced
  • 3 chipolte peppers
  • 1 tablespoon, each, garlic powder, corriander, cumin, fennel, smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Around 8pm (the night before), put the pork shoulder into a dutch oven. Season generously with salt. Add a chopped onion, a chopped pear and sliced orange. Top with brown sugar and spices. Cook overnight – until about 6am-ish at 225 degrees. This is at your own risk – trust your oven to sleep with it on over night! But, it’s the most simple way I’ve found to cook a whole pork shoulder.

The next day, chop or shred the pork. Reduce the liquid for a sauce – I also like to add some apple cider vinegar to the sauce (if you’re an Eastern BBQ lover).

Cauliflower Slaw from the Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
Juice of half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon), plus more to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, then more to taste
3 tablespoons (30 grams) dried currants
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
2 tablespoons (about 25 grams) brined or salt-packed capers
oil for frying
1 small, compact-looking head of cauliflower (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced (use green and white parts)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional, mostly for color)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread almonds on a tray and toast them until they’re a deep golden color, tossing them once or twice to ensure even cooking. This will take 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside to cool.**

Meanwhile, place lemon juice, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add currants; set aside and let them soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

If using brined capers, drain and spread them on paper towels until most of their moisture has wicked out, about 5 minutes. If using salt-packed capers, soak them in water for 10 minutes to remove the saltiness, then drain, rinse and pat dry on paper towels. Pour a 1/2-inch of olive oil or another oil that you prefer to fry in in a small skillet or saucepan. Heat it over medium-high. When hot enough that a droplet of water added to the oil hisses, carefully add the capers and step back — they’re going to sputter a bit for the first 10 seconds. Once it’s safe to get closer, give them a stir. Depending on how dry they were, it can take 1 to 2 minutes for them to get lightly golden at the edges and then crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

Trim cauliflower leaves and cut head into quarters. Using an adjustable-blade slicer (this is mine; it takes up very little room) to cut cauliflower, stem and florets, into 1/4-inch slices. Add to a large bowl.

Scoop currants from vinegar mixture with a slotted spoon and add to bowl with cauliflower, along with almonds, capers, scallions and parsley. Slowly whisk 5 tablespoons olive oil into remaining vinegar mixture in a thin stream. Add several turns of freshly ground black pepper. Pour over cauliflower and other ingredients and turn gently to coat all pieces. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon juice, salt or pepper to taste. Dig in!

My New Favorite Kale Salad

14 Oct

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Hey Friends! I’ve had a crazy couple of days between a research trip to Richmond, VA for the Richmond Folk Festival, to back home to enjoy Elsewhere’s annual fundraiser, to a catch up sprint at work. Life is moving quickly, sprinting through Fall with travel and friends  and lots of hustle in the workplace. I’m having to schedule time for cooking in addition to improvisation on week nights post work and gym.

I recently came up with a tasty new salad of Tuscan Kale, dried cranberries, walnuts and chopped hard boiled egg. The dressing is simple too – a teaspoon each of honey and tahini, the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper and a good drizzle of garlic infused olive oil. It’s quite tart and savory but stands up well to the bitter kale. The cranberries and honey are an absolute must to balance the flavor.

This salad is great one it own but also good with shredded chicken, a nice piece of grilled steak or a roasted and sliced turkey sausage. Oh, and a glass of red wine, obviously.

Here’s to civilized meals in the midst of chaos!

Coriander Carrot Salad

10 Oct

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If you’re looking for a different spin on a side or salad, this coriander carrot salad might just be the trick. A healthy crunch of carrot and pistachio, a nice bite of acid and spice from lemon juice and coriander, you’ll need to season to taste – I thought it needed more salt and lemon juice. This would be delicious on a leftover sandwich the next day – BBQ, Bahn Mi, you know.

Coriander Carrot Salad 

¼ cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios
¾ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ garlic clove, finely grated
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
⅓ cup olive oil
Kosher salt
1 pound carrots, peeled, julienned or coarsely grated
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop.
Toast coriander in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool; coarsely chop.
Whisk garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and coriander in a large bowl, then whisk in oil; season with salt. Add carrots, toss, and let sit at least 30 minutes. Toss with cilantro and pistachios just before serving.

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken

7 Oct

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Large bins of pumpkins are starting to pop up around town. They all say, “it’s Harvest time!” and I personally like their chipper. After a successful fundraiser in Center City Park (with many many pumpkin) I had my own personal kick off to Fall with this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken. My friend Jessica sent this recipe to me last year in honor of the Jewish holidays. We celebrated late (at an absolutely inappropriate time) but with good intentions.

I skipped the boiling of the marinade and blanching of lemons for the sake of time and laziness. I chucked the marinade and lemons into a bag for about 5 hours before roasting. Add onion, dates and carrots and roast away. This dish has great flavor and leaves the house in a desire for a fire and blankets.

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken from the NY Times

  • 1 lemon, plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more for pot
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezedorange juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  •   Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick)
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  •  cup sliced dates
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts, for garnish
  1. Quarter the lemon lengthwise, removing any seeds. Thinly slice crosswise into small wedges and add to small pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 2 minutes and drain. Reserve slices.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Put chicken in a bowl and add honey mixture. Add carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon slices. Turn mixture several times to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a sheet pan with a rim. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings (remove the pieces as they are done cooking). When the chicken is done, give the carrot mixture in the pan a stir; if the pan looks dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender, about 7 to 12 minutes longer.
  5. Spoon carrots over chicken and top with cilantro, scallions and pistachio nuts.

Andy’s Bloody Mary

30 Sep

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This weekend I stumbled upon this sweet photo of my friend Andrew enjoying a Bloody Mary in the mountains. They are a tradition for the boys on Sunday mornings. I’m usually enjoying a greyhound or a water in recovery from a big night before and walk in the morning. But he gets rave reviews from fellow tomato juice drinkers.

I asked Andrew to share his recipe for bloody Mary’s and it was too good of a text not to quote verbatim. Here’s the recipe. Cheers to you!

Well, this won’t satisfy the purists, but I start with Zing Zang mix and then I add a lot of freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice, a little Texas Pete, some Worcestershire, a tiny bit more fresh horseradish if there’s some in the house, some ground pepper, and then Absolut vodka. I like to make it in a pitcher – and I think 1 part vodka to 3 parts mix is a better ratio than 1 in 4, but others (Methodists?) may demur. Mix it well with a spatula and serve the blend over crushed ice. I like to skewer several green olives and a lemon wedge in lieu of a celery stalk as a stirrer, but whatever. If you have a highball glass instead of a solo cup (there’s no reason to fool with a double old fashioned glass), you can do the salt rim thing if you like. I think I’ve given that up.

Cauliflower & Kale Gratin

29 Sep

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Fall is here. Pool season seems to be over and the only last hope is cool nights with bourbon, chili and good cashmere. This year the summer season caught up to me. I’m left with few regrets – just longing for a couple more warm nights in the garden with rose and a fired up grill. But so it goes. It goes to gratin – potatoes, cauliflower broccoli, squash, throw in some kale this year to make yourself feel better. He is a good starter recipe for your fall meal. It pairs well with a simple roasted pork loin or quick seared piece of red meat.

Cauliflower & Kale Gratin

1-1/2 to 2 pounds curly or *Tuscan kale (about 3 bunches)
2 small heads or one large head of cauliflower (3-4 lbs)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk*
1 cup half & half *
1 3/4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (about 3 firm slices of whole wheat* or white sandwich bread)
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg*
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Parmesan

Strip kale leaves from stems and center ribs (discard stems and ribs). Tear or cut leaves into 2-3 inch pieces.
Cut and discard greens and core from cauliflower, then cut cauliflower into 1 1/2-inch florets.
Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Butter the baking dish.
Cook kale in a pasta pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, in 2 batches until almost tender, about 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking, then transfer with tongs to a colander to drain. Gently squeeze excess water from kale by handfuls and transfer to baking dish. NOTE: If using Tuscan kale do not squeeze too hard. Press on dishtowel or paper towels to remove moisture.
Cook florets in 1 batch in pot until crisp-tender, about 3 to 6 minutes, then transfer with slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking and drain well in colander. Nestle cauliflower in kale.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in lower third.
Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking frequently, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and half & half and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer béchamel sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes, then stir in 1 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 cup (of the 3/4 cups) of grated Parmigiano cheese. Pour sauce over kale and cauliflower.
Toss together bread crumbs, oil, rest of the cheese, and 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper, then sprinkle evenly over mixture and bake gratin in oven until sauce is bubbling and crumbs are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
If you wish the crumbs to be more golden, broil gratin under a preheated broiler, about 6 inches from heat, watching carefully, 1 to 2 minutes.

Spicy Pork, Kale and Noodle Soup

22 Sep

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This weekend, my friend Margaret and I had a “quiet night in” that turned into an evening of much wine, laughter and a bit of minor mayhem. Those are the best kind, in my opinion, unexpected rolling of hilarity between bottles of red wine, political gossip, skyping with friends far away and cooking. We picked out this recipe for Pork, Kale and Noodle soup early in the day because Margaret had a pound of Massey Creek Farm ground pork on hand and we are both devouring kale right now. It’s also fun to make new recipes with friends – finding replacement ingredients when you just happened to purchase “salted sand lance” instead of fish sauce (lemon juice is a good replacement).

With all that said, have casual nights in the kitchen cooking with friends. You’ll have an unexpected fun time, a delicious meal and a night to remember. This recipe is perfect for the start of Fall.

Spicy Pork and Kale Soup, from Eat Live Run

1/2 lb ground pork

1 tsp chopped ginger

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/4 tsp lemon zest

3/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp vegetable oil

4 cups chicken broth

4 scallions, sliced thin

1 large bunch curly kale, roughly chopped

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

8 oz rice noodles

If you have a mortar and pestle use it to smash together the peppercorns and lemon zest. If not, use the back of a knife on a cutting board (carefully). Do the same thing with the cumin seeds. Place the smashed peppercorns, lemon zest, smashed cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic in a medium size bowl. Mix well then add the ground pork and mix very well to combine the spices with the pork. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the oil and heat over medium high heat. When hot, add the seasoned ground pork. Sprinkle with salt and break up pork with a spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes, until pork is done.

Add the chicken broth to the pot along with the scallions, fish sauce and soy sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 6 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Add the kale — don’t worry if it seems like a crazy huge amount, it will cook down! — and stir well. Keep simmering for about 10 minutes while you prepare the noodles.

In another pot, cook the rice noodles in boiling salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

To serve the soup, place some rice noodles at the bottom of bowls. Ladle soup on top. Serve with sriracha if you desire but keep in mind that this soup already has a big kick!

Grilled Poundcake with Balsamic Peaches and Whipped Cream

19 Sep

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As a child, my mother would allow me to eat toasted pound cake for breakfast as a treat. Nothing beats it. I used the same concept in the mountains and grilled store-bought pound cake from The Fresh Market and topped it with fresh peaches in balsamic and fresh whipped cream. I promise it takes so much better than you would expect and it couldn’t be easier. Use any seasonal fruit you’d like and even consider grilling the fruit!

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