Category Archives: Uncategorized

Work in Progress: Stinky Bacon Sriracha Wrapped Sweet Peppers

peppers

It seems like at every supermarket they sell miniature sweet bell peppers in red, orange and yellow and they’re so delicious to eat in many different ways.  Usually I just saute them but I was in the mood for something more feisty.   I picked up a bag of them at a farm stand on the way back home from my mom’s house, along with a pound of bacon from a fantastic place in Lockeford. I got to thinking that it might be a pleasant change from the spicy jalapeno stuffed peppers to use these sweet peppers instead.

When I got home I realized I did not have cream cheese but I did have goat cheese, and I found a wedge of Tallegio, a marvelously flavorful and stinky soft rind aged cheese. When I opened the fridge door my erstwhile bottle of Sriracha sauce fell out, again, and the idea for stinky bacon wrapped Sriracha sweet peppers was born!

I used about three ounces of Tallegio cut into small pinky-shaped pieces, and shoved those into the hollowed out peppers first, followed by a topping of goat cheese.

Each little pepper was wrapped in bacon, and then I prepared a cutting mat with a puddle of Sriracha sauce and mound of Demerera sugar.

20140713-164314-60194589.jpg

Each fat little pepper got rolled in the hot sauce, and then rolled around in the crunchy sugar and placed on a little baking sheet covered with mushed up tinfoil to make an impromptu rack.

Because I’m still using the kneeling walker/scooter thing I can’t use the big oven, but my convection toaster oven is pretty fantastic, despite my not having all of the required equipment, like mini baking racks.

20140713-164315-60195577.jpg

I baked them at 425 F for 15 minutes until the bacon was a crispy and bubbly and the sugar and Siriracha melded together for a savory sweet spicy coating.

20140713-164316-60196504.jpg

My apartment smelled mercilessly of Tallegio and bacon and chilies, but I didn’t care, I was just waiting for them to cool down my enough that I could eat them.

photo.JPG

I call this recipe a work in progress because obviously they baked up too dark, but they still tasted amazing.  Next time I will lower the heat and maybe add more bacon.

photo.JPG

While I waited for the peppers to cool I mounded a few of them on a little plate and mixed up a vodka Gibson. I was expecting a dear friend to come over but didn’t know exactly when she would arrive, and wouldn’t you know, the moment I sat down my doorbell rang. Perfect timing!

The heat from the Sriracha was exactly enough to make you want a sip of your cocktail, and the sweet pepper, cheesy baconiness was the perfect snack for a tipple when the sun pasts the yardarm.    We knocked back the Gibsons and then made another batch and chatted about her travels while noshing on the peppers.   Then we made pizza!  It was a perfect Sunday evening.

Work in Progress:  Stinky Bacon Sriracha Wrapped Peppers

Being Fed By Others

I realized I haven’t written in a while, the impetus to create has just fizzled away after a minor surgery last month.

It was rather a shock to realize they I have been in pain and in healing mode since November 2010. It’s a hell of a long time.

20140625-145454-53694988.jpg

I’ve had a lot of hopes fade away, I’ve lost people I’ve loved – both my fathers, my ex boyfriend, and family friends. My ability to have fun has been squashed by 2 major surgeries, 2 minor surgeries, and a 5 month bout with whooping cough. I still am not allowed to walk and I’m looking at another month or so of being on the scooter. No wonder I haven’t felt like writing, cooking, creating, anything really. I don’t even feel like knitting, which had been a source of solace.

The inability to cook for myself has been a blow. When I could walk I wasn’t allowed to carry anything, ergo no shopping for myself. Now that I’m on the scooter I can’t be on it too long because it hurts my knee and other parts and it’s damned awkward. It’s an amazing device, and I am so grateful to have it, it allows me to be able to support myself and work during this recovery period. But trying to cook or use the stove is tricky, and using the oven just doesn’t work, too tippy and dangerous and I burned my arm pretty good last time I tried it.

Despite the inevitable depression over all of this, I am lucky to have supportive friends and family. It’s lonesome being stuck at home or turning down events because there’s a flight of stairs, or I’m too exhausted or uncomfortable, or no way to get there easily – danged SF hills!! Being an independent person I supremely fail at asking others for help, so my kitchen gets cold and empty and I end up snacking on random things instead of eating properly.

If money were no object I could order prepared food from a variety of places. The tech boom in SF has really made a positive impact on my life. Without all of the great services offered here I would have had to rely and wear out the goodwill of others.

  • Seamless, Grub Hub, Eat24 have some good options but in my neighborhood the variety is rather meh
  • Postmates is a great way to get restaurant and other deliveries but it’s pricey and you’re dependent on nice people with bikes to fetch and deliver.
  • Instacart has been a godsend for getting consumables from Rainbow, Whole Foods, Safeway and Costco. I’ve had such nice people shop for me.
  • Good Eggs has been my go to place for fresh food. They liaise with farmers and food producers such as the ones I regularly visit at the farmers markets. I’m totally addicted to Firebrand Hearth’s bacon fougasse. The price is about the same but you have to order a few days in advance.
  • Flywheel, Uber and Lyft have helped me get to and from work every day as I don’t dare risk MUNI. I used to ride the bus but I’ve been injured 3 times because of passengers and my mom has basically forbidden me from riding until I’m off the scooter. These apps are fantastic and I don’t care what BS the taxi commission says, they’re all essential.
  • Taskrabbit has been amazing at helping me with chores around my apartment. I’ve learned the hard way I can’t vacuum or clean while on the scooter and after it took an hour to change the sheets on my bed (an hour!!!) I’ve realize paying someone $20 an hour to do things is rather essential.
  • I miss my routine so much though, shopping at the farmers markets on the weekends, cooking up a storm and making meals to take to work, having friends over for dinner, taking inspiration from recipes on websites and then shopping to make them. I don’t even feel like I can connect socially with people, I’m too inconvenient, I’m tired of explaining why I’m not able to walk, why I’ve gained weight so drastically, and why I’m otherwise broken to everyone. My ability to appear chirpy and not complain or avoid talking about what’s going on is just not happening. I shake my head. I’m a fucking mess and I can’t even joke about it now.

    I know someday I will have my life back, I know it in my heart. But right now it’s obvious it won’t be this year, and that feels like a millstone around my heart. I feel like my life is in my past, and that the future isn’t even worth thinking about or planning because none of the plans I’ve tried to make have been possible.

    In this holding pattern the years are slipping away and yet I still feel guilty feeling down about this because I have so many friends who are worse off than I am, with cancer, permanent crippling injuries or other horrible issues that I can’t even comprehend. How dare I feel upset about my ankle/shoulders/knees/back/neck/allergies.

    There we are though, so tonight I’m going to try to see a beloved vendor at a party for his latest cookbook, and tomorrow I have another minor surgery that I’m just minimizing with my work and my friends because I’m scared to death of losing both groups.

    Deep breaths, think positive, onward.

    Comfort Food – Italian Wedding Soup

    After my stepdad’s memorial, mOm and I drove back up to her house in the country for some much needed rest and relaxation, the car filled with flowers from the service.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfgal/12055603726/

    Flowers from my office for the memorial service, so pretty

    In case you have ever wondered about the capitalization of “mOm’, she started signing cards and emails this way, saying the O in Mom was for a big hug, how completely adorable.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfgal/13065860393/

    My pretty mom

    This has been a tough winter and whenever the road life takes you on gets bumpy we gravitate to comfort food. To me, that means a brothy soup with lots of great vegetables and something meaty.

    Mom and I love cooking together, even when our hearts are heavy.  My produce CSA box was delivered a few days before the service so I brought up a huge bag of beautiful cooking greens, winter root vegetables and lettuces. Mom found a recipe online for Italian Wedding soup and wanted to make it with me, so we donned our favorite aprons and started assembling the soup ingredients.  Not only do aprons keep your clothes tidy, they are also very absorbent for when tears fall unexpectedly.  When you are grieving it is a lot like leaving the drip hose on in the garden accidentally, you don’t really notice the tears are falling until a puddle forms or the vision blurs.  This is problematic when trying to chop things.

    Many hugs later, while reading the recipe, we realized that the ingredients for the meatballs seemed really bland so we started pulling out cookbooks, looking at our favorite meatball recipes and all the many variations and finally settled on just using our favorite flavors in the Italian theme: garlic, oregano, basil, parsley.

    Mom had in her fridge a pound of pork sausage and a pound of ground beef ground fresh from her local butcher. I love her grocery store, it’s been around since 1865 and was a former Wells Fargo pony express stop.  The savvy agent added mercantile products and eventually the stop became the one and only grocery store in the township, and it still is the only game in town. The butchers are really nice and love special requests. Being in the country, their customers are heavy meat eaters so everything is really fresh. Seafood, on the other hand, is an impossibility. I love that behind the counter the staff have a lot of their buck and other animal heads mounted on display, this goes to show you they know how to butcher everything.

    I had made a wonderful stock using a duck leg and some wings and some odds and ends of bones from the freezer, which was our soup base but premade chicken stock would have been just fine too.

    The meatball assembly was fun. Mom weighed out the meat while I played sous chef, chopping garlic and parsley to sprinkle over the ground meats in the bowl. Mom added grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses, plain breadcrumbs and dried oregano and salt and pepper and mixed up the bowl of meatballs. We decided to bake them since we omitted the egg in the batch in lieu of my allergies and we were not sure if the usual method of poaching the meatballs in the stock would work without the egg as a binder.

    A half sheet jelly roll pan was lined with a Silpat and Mom used her smaller meatball scoop, which makes golf ball sized meat. I rolled them up quickly with water dampened hands.  After a few meatballs were formed, we decided they should be smaller, so we halved the balls and ended up making 80 or so tiny balls.

    It didn’t take too long to roll the little marble sized balls and space them on the baking pan. I tossed one in the hot stock and fried another one up in a skillet for a taste test and, surprisingly, the poached meatball did really well and did not fall apart. The additions to the meatballs were just what we had intended and we nailed the seasoning perfectly.  Although both of them were delectable, the sauteed meatball was even more flavorful because of the browning process so proceeded with our plan to bake the meatballs.

    Into the oven they went while we diced up onions, carrot, celery and a mound of kale and chard for the soup pot. I cooked a little diced bacon first to render the fat to sautée the vegetables and resisted the urge just to eat the mirepoix from the pan. The hot stock was poured in and I splashed in a few shakes of Worchestershire sauce and bitters to deepen the flavors of the broth.

    When the meatballs were browned and sizzling from the oven, they were left to cool a bit and then we slid into the soup along with the kale. When the greens were tender it was time for supper. We sprinkled the last bits of the grated cheeses decadently over our soup bowls and tucked in while watching an episode of Sherlock on PBS.

    I wish I had a photo to share because the soup was just lovely.  The stock was a warm brown with tiny brunoise of vegetables, long shreds of bright green kale and little meatballs, just the size to nestle into the soup spoon comfortably but not too large so that you couldn’t fit in a mouthful of broth and a few vegetables.  The cheese melted over some of the kale and some of the meatballs and then settled gently down to hug the bottom of the bowl, to be scraped up in long, cheesy strings, in subsequent mouthfuls.   Time seemed to stop for that bowl of soup.

    We ate contentedly, sitting side by side on the couch in the cozy family room, the heat from the kitchen spilling out into the room while the hot soup warmed us from the inside out.

    The soup pot was still full so I ladled the soup into five or so plastic storage containers to be frozen for future dinners for Mom. There’s nothing like finding a tub of homemade soup on the freezer when you want a meal but don’t have the energy or motivation to cook, rather like finding forgotten money tucked away in a pocket.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfgal/11969418715/

    My family, from happier days

    Italian Wedding Soup
    printable recipe

    Mangalitsa Pork Loin Extravaganza

    While I was recuperating from pertussis, or whooping cough, I was staying with a very sweet friend during the convalescence period, just in case I kicked off during the night but mostly to alleviate the tedium of being stuck at home from this dread illness.  My friend was quite kind to take me in, and when I was feeling a bit better and my appetite returned, I asked if I could cook dinner one night for her and another understanding friend.

    I was not contagious, just not suitable to be out in public, and completely wiped out from not sleeping more than an hour at a time.  But I could make a simple meal!  Stashed in my freezer from hog butchering season was a loin of pork from a Mangalitsa pig, a very fat and flavorful porcine breed, and the loin had been waiting for a suitable occasion.  With additions from the wonderful delivery service Good Eggs, we also had a gorgeous butternut squash and some fresh asparagus and other herbs that would make perfect accompaniments to the meat.

    I thawed the pork loin and scored the fat in a diamond pattern, and then made a marinade out of salt and pepper, herbs and garlic and a splash of white wine and olive oil.

    Marinating Mangalitsa pork loin, fat side, garlic paste and herbs, paprika

    In my friend’s largest skilled I browned the meat very well.  With the capacious fat cap on the loin there was no need to add any fat, I just allowed the meat to render the savory, hazelnut scented fat to brown the roast.  The aroma that wafted from the kitchen filled the hallway outside my friend’s apartment and the cats were underfoot, constantly meowing hopefully.

    Browning the Mangalista pork loin

    To accompany the roast I halved fat and sassy shallots and then topped them with slabs of peeled butternut squash, and then slathered on the leftover marinade from the pork.  They roasted first for about 40 minutes, and then the browned roast sidled up next to them in the oven to finish off.  I like this kind of cooking, it’s very hands-off and perfect when you are exhausted by life or just feeling lazy.  The house is warm from the heat of the oven and everything feels so very cozy.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfgal/10527957935/

    The pork roast was richly browned and smelled so tempting while it rested a bit before carving.

    Mangalitsa pork loin

    When I sliced the loin you could really appreciate the thick blanket of nutty fat from this special breed of pig.  The trick to a good pork roast is to not cook it to death, just to 160 and then let the meat rest.  The pink hue is due to the pasture raising of the pig and does not mean it is undercooked.  While the meat roasted it bathed the lean loin with its own fat and juices and it is probably one of the most memorable roasts I have ever prepared.

    Mangalitsa pork loin. It's all about the fat.

    We arranged everything on a serving platter, the tender and succulent pork slices on one side, and the meltingly browned, sweet shallots and squash on the other, everything fragrant with herbs.

    Roasted Mangalitsa pork loin, butternut squash and whole shallots

    To offset the richness of the entree I made a light and refreshing salad of shaved fennel, blanched asparagus and herbs, with a creamy chive dressing.  The baby lettuces, arugula, fresh mint, fennel fronds, chives and parsley were washed and spun absolutely dry.

    Herbs

    I shaved a fennel bulb into the salad bowl using a serrated Y shaped peeler, sharper than lemon juice in a paper cut.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfgal/10527993945/

    It was hard not to snack on the blanched baby asparagus, I cut them into forkable lengths and splashed them briefly into salted, boiling water, then refreshed under cold tap water and drained well on a towel.  *Most* of them made it into the salad.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfgal/10528042234/

    I tossed everything together gently with my hands and then served separately a little bowl of creamy chive dressing, inspired by the Princess Diana’s favorite salad dressing from her chef at Balmoral Castle, Darren McGrady.

    Herb salad

    Chive cream dressing

    It was a simple dinner to prepare, the hardest part was making the salad.   It was a convivial evening and it felt good to do something to thank my friend for her caretaking of me and to share the rich treat of the Mangalitsa.

    Printer friendly recipe:

    Chive Cream Salad Dressing

    Asian Inspired Soup from Costco Shopping

    My mom visited this weekend and we girded our loins and went to Costco on Sunday. May I suggest that if there is an epic rainstorm in your city and it is the weekend that Costco is probably the worst possible place on earth to be? It was like that World War Z movie but instead of zombies exploding out of the crowd it was surly people viciously jabbing giant shopping carts at other shoppers in mass hordes.

    I hadn’t been there in months and months for a variety of ankle related reasons, so despite the crowds and the overall oppressive and surly attitudes, Mom and I had a good time checking out what was available and picking up some good finds.

    I was quite delighted to find packages of Chinese cured pork sausages, the kind that taste like char siu BBQ pork. In the walk in cooler I found a package of beech mushrooms and my favorite haricot verts and Meyer lemons. Of course, we had to pick up cheese and wine and toilet paper and a few other necessities and checked out all of the kitchen gadgets.

    Once home at my apartment, we watched the the rain bucketing down, which was wonderful because we are in a drought and despite 20 inches falling in Marin that weekend we would still need six more storms of this level to take us out of drought situation this year. For dinner, given we were both not terribly hungry, I concocted an Asian inspired soup from the goodies from Costco, plus a few items in the pantry and from my last produce CSA box.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfgal/12426465584/

    The soup only took 30 minutes or so to put together and we watched the Olympics and caught up on Downton Abbey until dinnertime. I am taking the leftovers to work for lunch this week, which makes me terrifically sharp at watching the clock, or checking this site often.

    Asian Inspired Soup

    1 pork chop, diced
    2 Chinese cured pork sausages, sliced
    1 Tbl grapeseed oil
    2 Tbl chopped ginger
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup dry sherry
    1 quart of pork stock (from 4505 Meats) or chicken stock
    2 cups of water
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    2 Tbl fish sauce
    1 stalk of lemongrass, crushed
    1 bunch of green onions, sliced
    2 cups of beech or other mushrooms (sliced if they are large)
    1 cup green beans, cut into 1″ lengths
    2 bunches of spinach, stems removed
    Juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon
    1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
    1/3 package of rice noodles, cooked in boiling water per the directions, drained and rinsed with cold water
    Cilantro for garnish

    In a soup pot over medium high heat, heat the oil and brown the pork chop pieces and the Chinese cured pork sausages. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. Pour in sherry and scrape the bottom of the pan and let reduce for 5 minutes. Add pork stock, water, soy and fish sauces, lemongrass and the Sichuan peppercorns and bring to a boil. Toss in the green beans, mushrooms and the white parts of the green onions and turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and stir, simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, my soup needed a bit more salt and I added the lemon juice and the green onion tops right at the end.

    To serve, add a heap of the cooked rice noodles to each soup bowl, ladle in the hot soup and top with handfuls of fresh cilantro.

    Printer Friendly Recipe here

    I am so glad my mom came in for the weekend to stay with me, despite the rain.  It was so lovely to catch up on things, do a little shopping and errands together and enjoy each other’s company.  Since my stepdad passed away it seems time is very precious and every moment we get to spend with family and friends feels that much more important, even if only shared over a fast bowl of soup.

    Under the Calamansi Tree

    As a California girl I grew up with the ubiquitous citrus trees in the yard; everyone had citrus coming out of their ears in my neighborhood. Our lunch boxes were stuffed with giant naval oranges, every mom’s kitchen had bowls of lemons and limes everywhere that were deployed for sherbets, and every kid on my block would set up a lemonade and limeade stand in the driveway.  I used to lie under the orange tree when it bloomed to just inhale the sweet fragrance.   Mom used to paint orange or lemon leaves plucked from the trees with melted chocolate and then slowly peel off a perfect glossy leaf to make decorations for our summer cakes. One horrible year our rabbit almost killed our trees by nibbling away all the bark, almost girdling them. It was a close call but we caught him and put him back in his hutch with a branch of leaves as an apology for his ongoing confinement. You just can’t trust a rabbit.

    Photo from Wikipedia Commons

    Photo from Wikipedia Commons

    What we didn’t have, however, was a calamansi tree.  The Citrofortunella microcarpa, aka the Calamondin or calamansi is a tiny green/orange marble-shaped citrus fruit that tastes like a cross between an orange and a lime, and is most commonly used in Filipino cuisine.   I first got to try this charming citrus varietal during my working days at the Bank. My coworkers, who were Filipino, had weekly potlucks with lots of halved calamansi to squirt over our adobo and pancit and as a flavoring in desserts. This group loved to cook and loved to have parties and I was instantly smitten with their cuisine and their beloved calamansi lime.

    I forgot about the rare calamansi until years later when I was at the Russian festival and one of the volunteers gave me a shot of a unique sour orange infused vodka. Served ice cold in tiny shot glasses the stuff was lethal and the guy explained that he found a tiny tree growing these strange round mini oranges in his back yard of his new home in Daly City.  They looked like oranges but were so tart and aromatic, so naturally he made vodka with them. What else? He didn’t know what they were called but I knew they looked familiar to me.  It was such a puzzle.

    Fast forward again to a month ago when food blogger Gapultos of Burnt Lumpia. was touring his new Filipino cookbook, The Adobo Road. It was a wonderful event and the book is really exciting, a mix of traditional Filipino recipes with local California ingredients and a modern edge.  Of course Marvin’s delicious food was served and much to my delight decorating his noodles were a few halves of calamansi!

    Adobo

    (you will want to buy this)

    One taste and suddenly everything clicked. I remembered the fruit from the bank and from the vodka tasting booth and I think I might have shouted, “That’s it!!!”   I relayed this all to Marvin and we had a good chuckle.

    I have been meaning to shop in the Mission and pick up a bag of calamansi so that I can cook some of Marvin’s recipes and also infuse some vodka of my own, but again, the thought slipped my mind. However, today, my coworker brought me a treat from her weekend visit home where her grandparents were visiting from the Philippines – she brought me a bag of calamansi!

    Calamansi

    I was so excited! I dashed to the kitchen immediately and sliced up a few to add to my ice water. The bright flavor really perked up the stuffy afternoon. We are going through a mild heat wave and the chilled citrus tang in cool water was a most welcome treat.

    A chilly treat

    When I got home I washed them and piled them in my favorite souffle pan, which doubles as my fruit bowl. Humming my version of the song from Dr. No I started perusing my other Filipino friends’ blogs for recipes using calamansi.

    “Underneath the calamansi tree me honey and me can watch for the moon…..”

    (apologies to Diana Coupland)

    My coworker had suggested making a syrup from the calamansi or just squeezing the juice and freezing it.  This bowl of calamansi is especially ripe so I must work with them quickly and I plan to zest them with my microplane grater before juicing them.  One idea I bookmarked for the juice is a marinade with soy sauce and garlic for pork or beef.  Another popular use is squeezed over fried or grilled fish.  This made me think about the delicious shrimp poke I had over the weekend with D___, wouldn’t a shrimp cervice with calamansi be delicious?  I am working on a recipe for this.

    I came across Jun’s calamansi whiskey sour.  I just happened to have everything required and it was perfect (thanks Jun!) way to relax while I read a mound of cookbooks for inspiration.

    photo.JPG

    While I was relaxing a friend called and we decided to go out to a movie that started in 23 minutes at the theater down the street.   Hurriedly I made up a rather large batch of calamansi whiskey sours and strained it into a canteen, then filled up a baggie with ice cubes and added some plastic cups and shoved my illicit cocktail party into my capacious handbag. There is a reason ladies carry large handbags and sometimes my handbag is the happiest place on earth!

    Dayum. Calamansi rye sour.

    During the movie I poured out the heady cocktail into ice filled cups, filling our row with a heavenly scent of citrus, rye and honey. We sipped them slowly and enjoyed watching a very handsome Superman; it is truly a most civilized way to see a movie!

    Tonight I will marinate an orphaned pork chop from 4505 Meats with soy and garlic and broil, and add some some sauteed baby bok choy and steamed brown rice to complete my dinner.  While this cooks I will zest and juice the remaining bowl of calamansi to be stashed in my freezer.  The rinds will go into a rather large bottle of vodka to infuse it with the sweet tang of the fruit.   A few weeks from now I will have a rather lovely bottle of infused vodka to drink over ice with splash of bubbly water or in an elegant version of a “calamansi” drop.

    If you ever see calamansi in your shop or see a tree at your garden center I highly recommend you scoop them up.

    My First Goat, with Mojo

    I received a special treat in my 4505 Meats Butcher Bag, a bone-in goat shoulder roast that was over 3 pounds. Goat! I have never eaten or cooked goat before, what a fun adventure!

    Goat is the most popular meat in the world and yet it is rarely served here in the United States. Similar in flavor and texture to lamb, goat meat is very lean and is best cooked in a braise or a combination of roasting and braising to ensure juicy meat.

    At first I was a bit daunted, I didn’t want to mess up such a beautiful piece of meat.

    Goat roast

    Researching goat recipes on the internet was great fun and I thought of making birria, which is a traditional Mexican stewed goat dish with lots of chile. Then I thought of making a goat adobo, which is again a braise with a careful balance of vinegar and sweetness that is from the Phillipines. I kept putting it off though, and I realized it was my fear of making a mistake that was holding me back. I have never actually eaten birria before and it has been years since I have had adobo. How could I accurately make a dish when I wasn’t sure what it should taste like? I could make the dish taste great but it might lack the authenticity that I desired.

    Time passed and then I found a bottle of sour orange juice from Miami in my pantry and I realized, that was IT! I would make a mojo marinade and then slow roast the goat.

    Sour orange juice from Miami

    Usually the Cuban’s use pork marinaded in mojo, but why not the goat? I have made it with pork many times, you marinate the pork shoulder in sour orange juice, garlic, oregano, a little cumin, olive oil and salt and pepper and roast it slowly covered with foil for the most part until the roast is tender and yet browned and glazed on top. The pork is sliced thinly and made into sandwiches with lightly pickled red onions and pickles and melted cheese, or my family just like to eat it sliced for dinner with pickled red onions and a cheesy potato dish on the side.

    Cuban mojo marinade

    I made up the marinade in a ziplock bag, I just threw everything together quickly. The garlic this time of year is especially wonderful. The skin is just barely formed and it is so tender and fragrant. I love how my hands smelled after mixing up this mojo marinade.

    Garlic

    I slid the meat into the bag and ensured all of the garlic and oregano were distributed evenly, and then placed the bag into a dish and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight.

    Goat meat in mojo

    The next day was a work day and all day long I thought about how wonderful my kitchen was going to smell once the goat started roasting. I wanted to use my wonderful vintage porcelain chicken roaster from the famed Taylor & Ng. This roaster was a gift from my dear A___ one year, it is such a treasure as they are no longer being made. When it’s not being used it lives under my coffee table as a decoration! Doesn’t everyone decorate their homes with their cookware? In the living room?

    Chicken roaster, ready for the oven

    The advantage of this roaster is that it is quite capacious, and roasts and browns the meat but keeps in the moisture, rendering the chicken or other protein rich and juicy. It is pure magic.

    I removed the meat and then strained out the herbs and aromatics into a strainer to go on top of the meat, leaving a bit of the marinade in the bottom of the roaster. The meat went onto a bed of sliced fiery and eye-watering Spanish onion. A sprinkle of salt and pepper and into the oven it went with its chicken lid. I added a few unpeeled carrots as well, as I love a roasted carrot almost more than meat itself.

    Marinated goat I mojo, on a a bed of onion and carrot

    All of the recipes I found on the ‘net said a goat roast of this size should slow roast for 3-4 hours in a slow oven, e.g., 325 F, after bringing the roast up to room temperature. The warming process of my roast took 2 hours but the enclosed browning environment of the chicken roaster must have sped up the cooking process. My roast was done at 2 hours and 15 minutes, with an internal temperature of 180 F, the meat was so tender to a fork’s touch and had withdrawn perfectly from the bones.

    Finished early! The garlic browned nicely.

    The garlic cloves that I had strewn on top were caramelized too! There was a pleasant amount of juices left at the bottom of the roaster, which I defatted it and used it as is.

    Pleasant amount of juices for the roast

    Despite my taking the roast out of the fridge the moment I got home, and the quicker than anticipated roasting time, the goat mojo was done very late in the evening, it was past 10:30 pm, so I let the meat rest for a bit in a tin and then put everything away in the fridge for another evening. I did carve off a nugget and the goat did taste like lamb, but a more elegant and softer flavor and so very, very tender. I think that goat is my new favorite meat over lamb now.

    The following night, I had my great friend D___ over for a goat dinner. I carved the meat and saved the bones for stock, and laid the meat and carrots and onions in a gratin pan and wiggled out the completely gelatinous juices over the top, and let them warm gently in the oven. I had obtained three enormous bunches of rainbow chard from the farmers market with the widest and thickest stems I had ever seen, they were gorgeous! I removed the stems and sauteed them until tender with lemon olive oil and slivered garlic and then made my mom’s delicious bechamel sauce to spread over the tender vegetables and topped the whole thing with soft levain bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese to become a gratin.

    We spooned out rich slices of goat and tender roasted carrots and garlic cloves, and heavenly rich scoops of chard gratin with its crunchy top and then spooned the savory meat juices over the plate. It was Negroni night and we really enjoyed the complimentary flavors of the herbaceous and tart cocktails with the goat.

    I drink alone, yeah, with no body else! #Georgeknows

    Despite my initial fear over cooking this kind of meat, I am now completely in love with Goat Mojo and plan on making it many times again.

    Decadent Pleasures: Fried Chicken (Part 1)

    Fried chicken has long been a decadent pleasure of mine and apparently it’s a family tradition as well. I came across photographs of my grandparents and great grandparents and a gagillion of great aunts and uncles and assorted family picnicking the backyard eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes. They did this a lot.

    With this genetic predisposition I’ve always made excellent fried chicken using a variety of methods, American, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and even a Turkish version, albeit not authentic, but always delicious.

    Last night I went out to dinner at Miss Ollie’s in historic downtown Oakland with some dear friends to try out their fried chicken and rum cocktails.

    20130417-134037.jpg

    Fried chicken and rum punch is almost as heavenly as fried chicken and rosé Champagne.

    The amazing Miss Ollie’s uses some sort of magical chopped parsley, onion, and perhaps lemon mixture and stuffs it under the skin before she batters and fries her chicken. Holy cow was that good!

    20130417-134142.jpg

    At lunch today while I was nibbling on the amazing leftover chicken wings and some her delicious fried Kale with shredded cabbage and carrot pickle I had sort of a brainstorm. I was trying to think of what is in this concoction of Miss Ollie’s, and then my mind wandered over to Margaret Fox’s recipe from Cafe Beaujolais of gooped potatoes. Potato goop is a delicious mixture of garlic and herbs, parsley and olive oil that she tosses with cubed potatoes and then roasts in the oven until everything is crunchy and succulent and heady with aromatic herbs.

    Would it be completely outrageous of me to use a similar type mixture stuffed under the skin of my fried chicken?

    I thought of how fond I am of brining the chicken first using a brine similar to what Ad Hoc does but using buttermilk.

    That’s when it hit me. I don’t really have any plans this weekend. I’m going to make fried chicken in a decadent way.

    20130417-134259.jpg

    You can almost see the gears turning…

    Contemplating Eggs and The Lack Thereof

    20130402-212936.jpg

    Last week I ate a Sushirito, a burrito sized sushi roll, and unbeknownst to me it contained tamago, the Japanese rolled omelette. It wasn’t on the menu and I told the preparer and the cashier I was allergic to egg, but still they added it to the roll. I ate two bites and started to feel funny, within minutes I was having a severe allergic reaction.

    20130402-213030.jpg

    I took 2 Claritans as my immunologist instructed, then took another one. By this time my tongue was tingling and my throat felt like it was closing up to I went a block from my office to an urgent care center, they promptly sent me to the ER. The ER staff were great and gave me a whopping shot of steroids and some massive antihistamine and noted a rash developing all over my arms, chest and back, and that my throat was closing up and my tongue was swelling up. After 4 hours of medication and monitoring I was allowed to go home with a handful of prescriptions.

    In the days that followed I was dealing with the “hangover” of this allergy reaction, a hugely busy workload and a severe family health emergency. The steroids I was taking prevented me from sleeping but also gave me insane energy and insomnia to deal with all of these crises.

    A few days later it really hit me. It’s been two years since these weird food intolerances appeared. Technically they are not a true allergy as the blood and skin tests were negative. But there is no denying that I’m having an anaphylactic response to eggs.

    20130402-213225.jpg

    I had a bad night realizing all of the foods that are now shut off to me, probably forever. All of my life I have never given a thought to what I ate, except whether it tasted good or was well prepared. Now I can never relax my vigilance just in case the next allergy attack proves to be more serious. I carry an EpiPen and I read labels. When I dine out or eat prepared foods I have to place my trust and my life in the hands of others.

    Did I mention that I have major control issues? I have always, in my quiet and diplomatic way, maintained an iron grip of control over my life. Now, this doesn’t help me, matters are out of my hands. It’s terrifying and frustrating.

    So, in an effort to help me get over these feelings of sadness I need to get it off my chest. I’m pissed I can’t eat quiche, poached eggs, hollendaise, Green Goddess dressing, salad Niçoise, Caesar salad, waffles, soufflés, meringues, dacquois and Pavlovas, macarons and deviled eggs. No matzo balls, fresh pasta, donuts, cookies, lemon curd, freaking lemon meringue pie, tuna salad sandwiches, aioli and frittatas, pot au cream, custard, my Granny’s tapioca pudding recipe, BLTs with a thick smear of mayonnaise and creme brûlée. I’m going to miss the Creme Brûlée Guy. A lot.

    20130402-213833.jpg

    Fuck you, eggs, I hate you.

    I don’t like how sick I get after eating eggs now. It’s super scary. I need to avoid them diligently just in case this intolerance gets more sensitive and the reaction gets more severe. This is a true threat. So why do I miss these things? It’s in my head, a sort of denial. I need to get over it and move on.

    But for today I am angry and bitter.

    Fucking eggs. Fucking beautiful eggs.

    20130402-213347.jpg

    Chicken Mock Pot Pie

    It was one of those nights. I came home from work cranky, sore, hungry, and exceedingly broke.

    I surveyed the emptiness of my refrigerator and found a partial carcass of a roasted chicken from the other night and spotted a box of Bisquick stashed in the corner of the pantry. Perfect, it’ll be a mock chicken pot pie kind of night.

    20130306-185434.jpg

    I made myself Negroni, because of course I have all the ingredients for that, but no vegetables, for Pete’s sake I am even out of pepper. But I muster onwards, sipping a few sips of my cocktail made me feel a little better, they also accentuated the urge to have something decent and slightly hearty for dinner.

    I looked in the freezer and found a little bit of frozen spinach and some frozen corn kernels and spread those in the bottom of one of my beautiful oval casseroles. I picked out most of the meat from the chicken carcass and added all of the pan juices and sauce from the chicken into the casserole. This went into the oven to get bubbly, while I pulled out that ubiquitous box of Bisquick. I measured out the mix and grated in some cheddar cheese and sprinkled in as much black pepper as I could from the tiny porcelain chicken salt-and-pepper set that I keep on my dining table. I mixed up the biscuit dough with my hands and patted it rather flat between my palms and laid it on top of the casserole filling.

    My chicken mock pot pie went into my convection oven while I relaxed at the kitchen table finishing up the latest issue of Lucky Peach. The aromas of Campari, orange and gin were slowly eclipsed by the baking smells of biscuits, cheese, and chicken.

    20130306-185557.jpg

    This is certainly not haute cuisine but it is wonderful comfort food and I’m grateful to be able to cook a decent dinner out of my pantry. I am grateful for a pantry full of great things, including very fine gin.

    Nine more days until payday!

    hal’s Negroni