Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oven Braised BBQ Pulled Pork Shoulder [Zack]

The weather has been gorgeous in Belgium for the last week or so, and which gave us a hankerin for some pulled pork!  I guess the Spring/Summertime weather made us nostalgic for outdoor cooking.  Since my smoker is stored away back in the US and I don't have a grill, I have to make my pulled pork in the oven.  Not to worry though, your guests will go bonkers over this and you won't miss your grill (except for a tiny bit).

The process is simple: brown your meats, add in the veggies and sauce, and then cook in a low oven until it's fork-tender.  Then you'll use the braising sauce as your BBQ sauce, which will be packed with flavor.  As per Katy's suggestion, we made a light and tangy red cabbage and green apple slaw to go on top of the sandwiches.

I added bacon to the recipe to add a smokey flavor to mimic some of the great flavor you would get from the grill/smoker.


First, slice the bacon into matchsticks and brown it slowly over low heat.   This should take about 15 mins. While this is going, you can prepare your veggies.  The shape of the cuts for the bacon and veggies doesn't really matter - you'll be blending them all into a sauce later.

Remove the bacon from the pan, increase the heat to medium, add the pork shoulder and brown on all sides.   Add the onions, peppers, cumin powder, and garlic.  Wait 3 mins, then add the liquids.

Don't add salt until the end - the bacon will add most of the salt by itself.

Place everything into the oven in a covered pot (or in a baking dish covered in tin foil).  The oven should be at around 275F.  Cook until the shoulder until the meat easily shreds with a fork. This should take around 5 hours depending on the size of your pork shoulder.

Cole Slaw:

Refer to the recipe here if you need more details.   Here is a quick run-down: shred your cabbage with a cheese grater on the large holes, slice your green apples and red onions, and combine it all into a bowl.   Make up the dressing by mixing the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, honey, and soy sauce together.  Mix in the dressing and let the flavors combine until you are ready to serve your pork.

Back to the pork:

Remove the shoulder and puree the veggies and sauce that are left over.  This will be your BBQ sauce for the pulled pork. If the sauce looks a bit too runny, reduce it over low heat.  Pull the pork with your fingers or a couple of forks and combine it back with the BBQ sauce.

Put the pulled pork on a toasted bun, top it with the slaw, and enjoy!  We made a simple pasta salad to go with it and we felt like we were transported into a field, sitting on a picnic blanket :)

a few slices of bacon, diced
1 pork shoulder (doesn't matter if the bone is in)
3 bell peppers (any color), sliced
6 cloves garlic
2 onions, sliced
1 T cumin powder
1 cup tomato puree
1/3 cup hot sauce
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup water

Red cabbage and green apple slaw:
1 head cabbage, washed and shredded
2 red onions, sliced
4 granny smith apples, sliced into matchsticks

1/2 cup mayonnaise
4T dijon mustard
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2T honey
4T soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil

Song to pull that pork:  Miguel - Adorn (nice suggestion Mike!)
Adorn by Miguel on Grooveshark

Red Cabbage and Green Apple Cole Slaw [Zack]

If your pulled pork or BBQ'd meat needs a friend, cole slaw is a nice sidekick. It's crunchy, tangy, creamy, and a little bit sweet.

This was suggested by Katy to go on top of our pulled pork sandwiches. It paired perfectly with the oven roasted pulled pork sandwiches!


Shred your cabbage with a cheese grater on the large holes. Be careful not to get any of the red juice anywhere - it stains! Slice your green apples into matchsticks. Next, slice the red onions, and then combine everything into a bowl.

Make up the dressing by mixing the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, and soy sauce together. Taste the dressing and adjust if you want it to be creamier (more mayo), tangier (more vinegar/dijon), or sweeter (more honey).

Toss the veggies in the dressing and let the flavors combine until you are ready to serve.

1 head cabbage, washed and shredded
2 red onions, sliced
4 granny smith apples, sliced into matchsticks

1/2 cup mayonnaise
4T dijon mustard
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2T honey
4T soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil

Song to shred to:  Jamie Lidell - What's the use?
What's the Use? by Jamie Lidell on Grooveshark

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mexican Party [Tom & June]

                                                            CARNE ASADA TACOS

             Cinco de mayo is appoaching quickly. Here are 3 recipes to make your party fun.

4 Cloves Garlic – minced
1 Jalapeno (or Serrano) chili pepper – seeded and minced
1 tsp Ground Cumin (fresh or dried)
1 large handful Fresh Cilantro, leaves & stems, finely chopped
Kosher salt & pepper
2 Limes, juiced
2 Tbsp White Vinegar
½ tsp Sugar
½ cup Olive oil 

Other Ingredients
2 Lbs Flank or Skirt Steak
8 Flour Tortillas
See Pico de gallo recipe below 


Put steak in baking dish or large baggie. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over steak. Refrigerate 1-4 hours.  (It is even better if it marinates a day or two!!)

Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill steak until desired doneness. Remove to cutting board & let rest for 5 minutes.  Cut steak into small bite-size pieces.

Serve on warm flour (or corn if you prefer) tortillas. Easiest to warm is to microwave – can do several at a time - cover with a damp paper towel & microwave for 30 seconds.  Fill tortilla with carne asada.  Add your choice of toppings – pico de gallo, cilantro, salsa, cheese, jalapenos, avocado.

Pico de gallo – equal parts of chopped onion, cilantro, tomato.  Add Serrano or Jalapeno if desired.

Chicken Enchiladas [Tom & June]

You will need:

Shredded cooked Chicken (we use 4 half breasts – grilled)                                                        

2 cans Enchilada Sauce
1/8 cup finely Chopped Onion
3 tablespoons finely Chopped Cilantro
8 Corn Tortillas
Shredded Cheese (we buy a 4-cheese Mexican mix cheese – might not be available everywhere)

Pour ½ can of the enchilada sauce in a 8 x 8 (or approximate) pan.  Mix remaining ½ can enchilada sauce, onion, chicken, cilantro and ½ of cheese.  You can make individual enchiladas or make a layered casserole.

  1. Take a tortilla and fill with filling, roll up and place in dish.  
     2. Or, place a layer of tortillas over sauce, spread a layer of filling on top and repeat until all is used up.

Top with enchilada sauce, spread cheese on top and bake approximately 30 minutes or until heated.

Chili Relleno [Tom & June]

Cinco de mayo is approaching soon. This is one of three recipes for your Mexican party. We decided not to deep fry like most recipes do. This is fairly simple using some ready made ingredients.

Chili Relleno for 8

Shopping List:
~ 8 Cubano Peppers
~ 1/2 cup Flour
~ 18 ounces canned Enchilada Sauce
~ 1/2 cup Milk
~ 3 Egg Whites
~ 1/8 teaspoon of each Salt and Pepper
~ 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
~ 1 Brown Paper Bag
~ 8 oz. shreded or sliced Montery Jack Cheese

Prepare the Peppers:

Wash the peppers, towel dry. Lightly brush the peppers with oil. Set half the oil on the side.
Grill on a medium flame careful not to burn. Turn until a bit charred on all sides and softened.
Remove from the grill and place the peppers in a brown paper bag. Close the bag for 15 minutes. Remove the peppers and start to remove the charred outer skin if cooled enough to the touch. Make a slit lengthwise on one side and remove the seeds. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, brush a sheet pan with oil. The photo below shows the flank steak being grilled for our next recipe as well as the cubanos.

The Coating:

In a large bowl beat the egg whites, add the milk and beat in for a wash. Pour the flour in a flat dish combining the salt and pepper and mix. Place each pepper in the wash, then in the flour to coat. Lay the peppers on the sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes or until coating becomes firm.

Lightly coat the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish with 6 oz. of the enchilada sauce. Lay the peppers in the baking dish. Spoon the remainder of the enchilad sauce over the peppers. Place the cheese on top. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Beer Battered Mexican Fish Tacos [Zack]

I don't cook fish very often.  I like it, but never really prefer it over a veggie or meat dish.  So I can say that my wife knows me pretty well judging by the note she left me (click to enlarge):

Since I was cooking for myself and I had some leftover guacamole and tortilla shells, I figured I'd try to beer batter the white fish.  You know, make it healthy.

The beer batter is extremely simple to make.  You pour everything into a bowl and stir it.  If it's slightly thinner than pancake batter, you're ready to coat something with a delicious crunchy armor.  The bubbles in the beer and the baking soda make the coating very light and crispy.  The cumin and paprika give it a nice Mexican flavor and color.


Gather your beer batter ingredients:

Slice your fish into finger-sized strips.  I cut against the grain so it flakes once cooked.  Make sure you check for small bones in your fish (if you find some, needle-nose pliers or tweezers can pull them out without damaging the flesh).

Prepare your beer batter:  pour the flour, beer, baking soda, salt, and seasonings into a bowl.

If you have whole cumin seeds, you can grind them with the mortar and pestle.  I like the flavor better :)

Whisk together to combine everything, but don't over-mix it - you'll beat out all of the bubbles in the beer.  It should be similar to a thin pancake batter.

Ready any garnish that you need for your tacos and heat up your pan on medium heat.  Also, warm your taco shells up.  For garnish, I chose to have guacamole, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, cilantro, and a splash of lime juice.  You can always add sriracha too....

Add enough oil to the pan to coat the bottom with 1/4 of an inch of oil.  Let the oil heat up - you will know it's ready when you stick the handle of a wooden spoon in it and it bubbles quickly.

Toss your fish fillets in the beer batter and gently place them in the oil.  Cook them the same way you would cook pancakes (wait until the bottom browns around the edges, then flip!)

Once both sides are golden brown, take them out of the pan and transfer to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

Put the fish fillets directly into the taco or tortilla shells, garnish, and serve quickly while they are still warm.

Ingredients (makes about 5 tacos):
2 filets of white fish
3/8 cup flour
1/2 cup beer
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp of salt
sprinkle of paprika
sprinkle of cumin powder

Taco shells or tortillas

optional toppings:
sliced tomato
sliced onion
lime wedges
sour cream
tomato salsa

Song to fry to:  Jamie Lidell - You naked:
You Naked by Jamie Lidell on Grooveshark

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tom Kha Goong (Thai Coconut Soup with Shrimp) [Rhonda]

Do not be afraid, all you fierce lovers of Thai food. While this fragrant, unbelievably delicious soup has a long list of unusual ingredients, it takes no real skill outside of crafting a shopping list. Galangal, a knobby cousin of ginger, may present your biggest challenge to find. I failed. So I subbed in some ginger and kept going.

If you're lucky enough to live close to an Asian market, shop there. We have CAM, Columbus Asian Market, where you can get a whole mess of birdseye chillies for a dollar or two, lemongrass, all kinds of exotic mushrooms and cheap limes. I got more gingerroot than I'll ever use for $1.83. And FYI, they have trays of peeled garlic for a couple bucks, in case you do lots of stir fry.

For this soup, if you don't like shrimp so much and prefer chicken, you can slice two boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips and cook them in the soup where it calls for shrimp. (It then becomes Tom Kha Gai Soup.)

We made the chicken version in my Cooking with Friends group a few months ago, oddly, as part of an Australian menu (lots of Asian influence in the northeastern part of the country near the Great Barrier Reef). It was one of the favorites of the day.

3 cups chicken stock, preferrably homemade
2 stalks lemongrass, tender parts cut into thin diagonal slices
3 kaffir lime leaves (or more to taste), chopped into slivers
3 slices galangal, cut into thin matchsticks (you can use ginger if you're desperate, but galangal is more intense)
6 straw or button mushrooms, sliced
Salt to taste
1/4 cup lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
12 ounces large shrimp (frozen is fine)
2 cups coconut milk (I made do with a 13.5 ounce can...works just fine)
2 or more red birdseye chillies, split and seeded
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, more to garnish

Place the chicken stock in a large saucepan and add the lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, mushrooms and salt and bring slowly to a boil, then reduce heat.

Add the lime juice, fish sauce and shrimp and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes, taking care not to overcook the shrimp.

While stirring, add the coconut milk and chillies. Bring slowly back to a boil, continuing to stir. Don't cook it too quickly after adding the coconut milk or it will separate. Stir in cilantro.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with cilantro.

Suggested soundtrack: Rihanna's "Stay"
Stay by Rihanna on Grooveshark

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

In college, one of my "specialties" was to make hash browns for my roommates for breakfast on the weekends. I had created a very complicated recipe - I used a bunch of different powders, spices, and techniques.  It always took me forever, but I didn't mind because I was having a blast.   I'd make a nice side of bacon, scramble some eggs, and serve the home fries alongside.

I still like having crispy potatoes with my breakfasts.  It's interesting to see how my recipe has evolved from my college days.  I have distilled my crazy "hangover cure" recipe down to the essential steps and ingredients, and it's still as good as before.


Start by sautéing 1 diced onion in a pan in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat.  Let the onions soften, and then add cumin seeds, toasting them to bring out the flavor.  Add 1T of garlic butter.  Once you can smell the cumin and garlic, the sweet potatoes should join the party.

I pour some water into the pan (you can cover it if you like), and then steam the suckers.  Keep adding water like you would for risotto until the potatoes are fork-tender.  This should take about 20-30 minutes.

When the potatoes are a nice texture, let the water cook off.  Let the potatoes fry on the bottom of your pan, turning occasionally when one side is browned.

Serve next to some type of delightful egg dish.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish):
2 sweet potatoes
1 large onion
1 tsp cumin seeds
1T paprika powder
salt and pepper
1T garlic butter (or normal butter mixed with 1 clove of chopped garlic)
1tsp olive oil

Funky Potato Song:  Jamie Lidell - What's the use?
What's the Use? by Jamie Lidell on Grooveshark

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing [Zack]

I’ve come a long way from my early cooking days in my presentation.  My improvements have come less from an increase in skill, but I now take a little bit of time to conceptualize and arrange the plates before serving.  I used to think that the flavors of my food would speak for themselves, but taking an extra minute or two to wipe down a plate or to add some fresh accent colors to a dish makes a marked difference.

Note:  Unless you are my Mom (who will light candles and use accents like parsley when eating alone), this tip only applies when you are cooking for others.  When I’m fixing a salad for myself, I use large Tupperware container indiscriminately add the ingredients.  I pour the dressing over the top, cover it with a lid, and shake until the dressing is evenly distributed.  I plop a few warmed goat cheese circles to the top, and voila! 

This recipe is my new favorite dressing recipe for your fancy or Tupperware salad.  The light sweetness from the Raspberry jam offsets the tartness from the vinegar, and is balanced with a great umami note from the soy sauce and mustard.  Goat cheese is the perfect complement to the dressing.


Making salad dressing in a jar is one of my favorite life pro tips.  Just spoon or pour each ingredient into the jar, cover with a lid, and shake like crazy.  It will emulsify your dressing, plus if you don’t use it all, it’s ready to go into the fridge for a second use.

Therefore, add the raspberry jam, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, and soy sauce to the jar.

Give it a good shake, and dress your salad with it.  I like to shake it (Always Sunny reference)

Pour it over your salad to lightly coat the leaves.  You can toss the salad in a bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients for a nice visual.

My salad was:  warmed goat cheese circles, butter lettuce, sliced red peppers, and whole grain croutons (sautee leftover bread cubes in olive oil, butter, and any powders or herbs that you enjoy).

3T raspberry jam
2tsp dijon mustard
3T extra virgin olive oil
2T apple cider vinegar
1tsp soy sauce
freshly-cracked black pepper

Song:  John Legend - who did that to you
Who Did That to You? by John Legend on Grooveshark

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fiery Sriracha Shrimp [Rhonda]

The flavors are vivid. The visual is pretty.
And the time it takes to execute is next to nothing.

Adjust the sriracha for the babies in your group...this ratio is potent and terrific.

Fiery Sriracha Shrimp
Degree of difficulty: super easy
Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 as an appetizer

2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons Sriracha
3 cloves minced garlic
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
OR 2 tablespoons cilantro without the mint and basil

Preparation: Melt butter in skillet. Add Sriracha.

Sauté minced garlic in it and toss in shrimp.
Just before they're done, add lemon zest and mint and basil and let them wilt.
Serve on a platter with toothpicks or thread onto decorative skewers.

Suggested soundtrack: Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30--Allegro ma non tanto