Recipes

1 Comment

side pork raw original

I'm not sure that "sprinkle with salt & pepper; broil for 10-15 minutes" qualifies as a recipe but I really, really wanted to share this favorite food with you today.  I was shocked (shocked I tell you!) to discover how many people have never heard of this product after I put a picture of it up on my Instagram feed.

side pork raw

Everyone assumed it was bacon because, well, it does look an awful lot like thick cut bacon.  But it's not bacon. Close but no cigar.

There were some other great guesses:

  • duck belly (which sounds wonderful!)
  • pancetta
  • Serrano ham (which was also in the fridge)
  • fat back
  • raccoon (that is a story for another day)

We had this about once per week growing up and there was never enough because everyone loved it.  Hot, meaty, salty, a little crunchy...

side pork cooked final

... It's called Side Pork!

Yes, it looks just like bacon but there are some distinct differences.  I will share:

First of all, Side Pork is not cured.  It is raw as raw can be which is why you need to generously salt it before cooking.  No curing means no nitrates, yippeee!

Secondly, Side Pork is from a little further up the side of the pig than bacon.  Bacon is closer to the belly where all the fat is.  Side Pork does have fat on it but certainly less than bacon, especially after it renders down.  Side Pork is much meatier than bacon which makes it a perfect, protein-packed breakfast food.  I have been known to eat it for dinner as well.

side pork rinds

Lastly, Side Pork has a sort of...rind.  I'm not 100% sure, but I believe it's the skin of the piggie, the part that you would normally use to make crack'lins or chicharron.  For me, this is what Side Pork is all about because after it cooks in the oven, it gets all curly and crispy and toasted.  Some parts of the rind also get sorta chewy. It will be the last part you eat and you will chew on it for a while.  I'm not gonna lie, it can be tough and rubbery. Kind of like pork-flavored chewing gum.  But I grew up gnawing on those skinny rinds so it doesn't seem weird to me, I suppose just like Spam is normal to some people. You will either love it or hate it.  If you hate it, just don't eat it or you can cut it off before cooking.

Side Pork can be hard to find.  Once I asked one of the youngsters at the meat counter of my local supermarket if they had any Side Pork and he pointed me to the "fat back" next to the bacon.  I didn't know whether to correct him or pat him on the head & pinch his cheeks.  Kids today!

If you have a reliable, experienced butcher he can order Side Pork for you and may even have some in stock.  My Uncle P. (you also know him as Uncle Farmer's Market) has a butcher that orders it for him.  A couple weeks ago he paid $2.99/lb for it.  I'm a little embarrassed to tell you that I don't know how that price compares to bacon but I just don't buy bacon that often so... maybe you can tell me.

If given the choice, I prefer it cut thinner rather than thicker.  Certainly no thicker than thick-cut bacon.  I like it on the thinner side because I feel that the fat renders out a little better.  But don't get me wrong... I'll eat it thick, thin or anywhere in between.

Once you find some Side Pork, cooking it is pretty simple.  Generously salt both sides with salt and a little pepper.  Place it on a baking sheet lined with foil or broiler pan and broil for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness).  It needs to get well browned so that the fat melts out and the rind curls up and gets dark in some spots.  Flip it over and let the other side get a little toasty as well, about 2 minutes.  Place the cooked Side Pork on paper towel to drain off any extra fat and serve hot.

I hope you can find some Side Pork and give it a try!

It's been a crazy, crazy week. So instead of leaving you hanging on our regular Friday Recipe article, I'm reposting an older (short) one that you may have missed! Have a great weekend!!

--------------

Food & Wine Magazine

I just got back into town and I couldn't wait to get this week's Friday Recipe posted.  It doesn't matter the time of year, I'm ready to eat pasta.  This recipe from Food & Wine Magazine is chock full of spinach which is so good for you but also luscious ricotta and creamy fontina which makes it xtra yummy.  Use the rigatoni or any other favorite pasta shape.  Just follow the link to get the full recipe.

Have a happy, relaxing weekend everyone!

2 Comments

12lemon ricotta oil title

Like you didn't see that one coming, right?

Obviously I was going to use my own new recipe for our Friday Recipe even though I kinda-sorta shared it with you already on Tuesday because:

1.  My knee has recovered enough that I can drive and walk reasonably well, so I've been running all sorts of errands this week and didn't have time to come up with a different recipe.

2.  It's a really good recipe.  Really.  And I don't want my readers to miss it.

2lemon ricotta prep

4lemon ricotta ready

This recipe comes together in the food processor and has a short list of ingredients.

5lemon ricotta prep dish

There is just a teensy bit of butter involved. Or you can omit the butter and just use olive oil.  I'm flexible like that.

11lemon ricotta finished muffin

I ate the leftovers for breakfast.  This recipe is good hot out of the oven or later after it's cooled off a bit.

I have updated this post with the full recipe below or you can visit this post over at The Ranting Chef.

LEMON-DILL BAKED RICOTTA

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup cream cheese

1 small to medium garlic clove, chopped

1 loose Tablespoon chopped dill

1 green onion, green and white parts

Zest of one lemon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper, about 1/8 teaspoon

Olive oil to drizzle, about 2 teaspoons

Preheat oven to 375⁰.  In the bowl of a small food processor combine the ricotta, cream cheese, garlic, dill, green onion, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Pulse for about 1 minute.

Transfer mixture to an 8 oz. ramekin that has been lightly greased with butter.  Place the ramekin on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until mixture begins to lightly brown on the top and along the edges.

Serve warm with pita chips, crostini or English muffins.

 

2 Comments

1lemon dill baked ricotta title

Oh my gosh I'm so excited I can't stand it!  I have had something in the works, a little something up my sleeve but I was keeping it a secret... well because I had to. I thought it was going to "launch" tomorrow but I came home from dinner tonight and noticed the traffic on my site was waaaay up.  Guess what?!  It happened today so now I can share it with you!!

Today I have the privilege of being a guest poster over at the amazing site The Ranting Chef!!

The Ranting Chef (Pat), has a site that is chock-full of inspiring recipes, helpful tips and fun community of food writers and people who just like to eat!  One of my favorite things about The Ranting Chef is that you can search his recipes by ingredient...brilliant!  Please, please pop on over to Pat's site and check it out, I promise you won't be disappointed!!

You can click here to jump to my recipe that is featured today: Lemon Dill Baked Ricotta

4lemon ricotta ready

I'm really proud of this recipe, I put months and months of thought into the flavor combos, using Bree & LeiLani as my taste-testers.  This Lemon-Dill Baked Ricotta dip comes together in a flash, is cheap to make and is very versatile.

12lemon ricotta oil title

I just know you will love this recipe as much as I do, please jump over to The Ranting Chef and give it a shot!  Oh, and let me know how you like it!!

lemon dill baked ricotta title long lemon ricotta oil title long

1 Comment

thai coconut soup
from Epicurious.com

It all started with a birthday celebration and Voxer.

6 girlfriends and I went to a local Italian restaurant for Spaghetti Night and to celebrate some recent birthdays.  This group of gals could not be a more mixed bag: some married, some single; some with kids, some with no kids; ages ranging from early 30's to 60's.  Some have known each other since birth, some are new to the group.  But we are all friends.  We care about each other.  We do life together.

We had a great time celebrating and eating heartily (no one in this group is bashful about eating) then we hopped in our cars, drove away to our 7 different homes and went to bed.

And then the next day something strange and beautiful happened.

Bright and early the next day, I heard my phone buzzing, messages coming in on Voxer (an app that is like walkie-talkie meets voicemail).  But I was at work and I didn't have time to stop.  It seemed every 10 or 15 minutes my phone was alerting me to a new message!  Later in the morning I had a few moments and I listened to the thread of messages from all 6 of my friends and it went something like this (paraphrasing for the sake of time):

(Friend 1) Thank you everyone for coming out last night, I loved spending an evening with all of you, eating and being loud.

(Friend 2) Yes, thank you everyone, it was amazing to spend time with you all.  Let's do it again on St. Patrick's Day!

(Friend 3) I want to second that, I had so much fun with you all.  Send pictures!

(Friend 4) Amen, all my favorite girls in one place!  Will have to do a Shamrock Day just to have an excuse to get together again!

(Friend 5) Thank you all for such a wonderful night, I had such a good time laughing with you. Thank you for reminding me how beautiful life is.

Here's what I forgot to tell you about this group of gals: every single one of us is going through something.  Big things, little things. Life things.  And although we spent a good amount of time laughing and celebrating the night before, we also shared the challenges and heartaches we were dealing with that week.  That day.

So the Voxer conversation took a turn later in the morning that went like this:

(Friend 3) Friend 5, I went to bed with you on my mind and woke up with you on my mind.  I'm praying for you today!

(Friend 4)  Amen, I'm praying for all of you!

(Friend 6) Can someone pray for me, I've been sick for a month and now I've thrown my back out!

So we spent the next few hours sending each other words of encouragement and prayer.

Then out of the blue, the subject of soup came up:

(Friend 4) I know what will make you feel better Friend 6, my Thai Coconut Soup that you love so much.

(Friend 1) Umm... I really like your Thai Coconut Soup too!

(Friend 3) Yeah, I've been feeling under the weather.... I need some healing soup....

(Me) I don't think I've ever had this soup....

(Friend 5) I like soup too!!

So Friend Number 4 did something completely and totally selfless: she volunteered to make a vat of Thai Coconut Soup for all of us to share.  She packaged it up individually and all we had to do was show up at her house and pick it up.

And we did.Every single girl drove over to her house to receive her gift of soup.  And while we ate her Thai Coconut Soup later that day we knew we were loved, that we were not alone in this mean world.

I know I've shared this with you before, but I'm going to share it again today and I'll go on sharing it every time I feel like I should. Jesus made a big deal out of feeding people.  There is a connection between nourishing someone's body and nourishing someone's soul.  It's such a small act, but conveys so much.

I hope you all have a support group as amazing as mine.  I hope you have people in your life who will make soup for you when they find out you are sick.  If not, you just let me know.

Here is the link to the recipe on Epicurious for Thai Chicken Coconut Soup.  This is not the exact recipe that Friend 4 used but I think it's pretty close.

Maybe you can make a little extra and share it with someone this weekend.

1 Comment

777

Happy Friday ATC friends!  By the time this post goes live I will be lying on a bed in a light blue, backless gown with an IV poking out of my arm, waiting to be wheeled in for surgery Lucky Number 7.  My last surgery (2008) was to replace my severed ACL but unfortunately it has not felt right since then.  In fact, I've lost roughly 80% of my muscle in that leg.

So my surgeon is removing the screws and washers that were used to attach the new ACL, apparently they aren't necessary any more and are sticking out the wrong side of the bone.  I saw it on the MRI, it was surreal to think that long skinny thing was jutting out of my bone or even in my body at all.

Supposedly I will be back on my feet in just a few days so I will be taking just a short rest before getting back to my crazy life.  And physical therapy, blech.

But that is not going to stop me from our Friday Recipe, no way!

avocados-salad-l

I don't know why exactly, but I have been craving avocados all week.  I have been dreaming up recipes in my mind, pinning and bookmarking other people's avocado recipes but strangely, I have not yet bought a single avocado!  I guess in the back of my mind, I know it's not quite yet time for the creamy California Haas avocados or the smaller but flavorful Mexican avocados that are so easy to find here in Northern California.  Especially when your Uncle planted such a tree and has now grown into a mighty giant.  Yes, when the time is right I will be able to walk down the road and pick a few of my own avocados, right off the tree.  Jealous?

One of the recipes I stumbled on is from Sunset Magazine called Avocados with Warm Bacon Parsley Vinaigrette.  I'm sure I don't need to explain why this simple side dish would be delectable but  besides the obvious there is a bit of sentiment involved here.  My mother used to make the classic spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette and I loved it.  Which is saying a lot because generally I don't like raw spinach.  But the smokey bacon mixed with the tangy vinaigrette is irresistible to me and I know, I know, I know that combo will pair deliciously with velvety avocados.

If you've never made warm bacon vinaigrette it goes like this:  cook your bacon and set aside to drain.  With a little bit of the bacon fat still in the pan stir in and lightly cook garlic, lemon juice, sugar and water.  Check for salt & pepper then add back in the bacon and some chopped parsley.

Drizzle your warm vinaigrette over sliced avocados and then take a moment to thank me for sending this recipe your way!  Click here for the full recipe.

I'm going to be a little sore (actually, a lot sore) and possibly a little cranky this weekend while my knee recovers.  I don't  usually eat much post-surgery, just oyster crackers and Peanut M&M's.  I got my super-size bag of each.  I'm ready for this.

2 Comments

from Epicurious
from Epicurious

It finally happened.  After months of mind numbing cold, the sun finally came out.  In fact, I was running errands outside the office this afternoon and I actually got hot!  I rolled down the windows of my car and let the preSpring air whip my hair into a knotted mess.  It was glorious.

And that's when it got me thinking... thinking about the upcoming Spring/Summer season and all the glorious produce we are going to have.  For the new friends here, I live smack in the middle of the farmlands of Northern California.  There are large and small farms all up and down the highways and just about everybody has a small vegetable garden or at least a tomato plant or two.  You name it, we grow it: cherries, peaches, corn, strawberries, nectarines, avocados, greens, herbs, garlic, onions, beans, and so much more!

So I've been dreaming.  Dreaming about all the sun-soaked fruits and veggies I'm going to eat so very, very soon.  And that's where this recipe from Epicurious comes in.

This salad recipe contains so many of my favorite California flavors: creamy avocados (yum), crunchy romaine (yum x 2), delicate corn (yum!), smoky chipotle (yummy!!) and puckery lime (YUMMY!!!).   I don't know why they named it Romaine, Grilled Avocado, and Smoky Corn Salad with Chipotle Caesar Dressing.  What a mouthful of a name!  They should have simply called it NorCal In A Bowl.

You may be thinking "grilled avocado?!" but try it!  Avocados have so much natural fat, they grill quite well and that little bit of char adds an interesting layer of flavor.  While you're at it, grill up some corn.  Then mix together parmesean, garlic, oil, lime juice, chipotles in adobo and a pinch of salt & pepper to form the dressing.  Toss that all together with some romaine and you will have one delicious salad that will make your taste buds oh so happy. (click here for the full recipe)

The only important thing on my checklist this weekend is to get outside and let the sun shine on my face.  Sunscreen...I need to find my sunscreen!

garlic chicken couscous

Most of the time when I share a recipe I try to include a little story, a little anecdote that leads up to the food.  I try to bring it all full circle in the end.  Today, I'm not gonna lie.  I got nothin'.

What I can tell you is this:  I'm hungry.  I like chicken.  I like quick and easy prep.  And this recipe fits the bill. It has garlic, it has wine, it has onions.  It all goes into the slow cooker and comes out a chickeny-garlicky-saucy dinner to be served over a bed of couscous.  This is a recipe I must share with you.

This recipe for Slow-Cooker Garlic Chicken With  Couscous comes from good ole Martha Stewart.  After lightly browning chicken pieces in a skillet, the onion, garlic and thyme are tossed into the slow cooker and the chicken pieces are placed on top with a little salt & pepper.  Flour and white wine are whisked together and drizzled over top.  In as little as 3.5 hours (on high) or 7 hours (on low), the chicken & sauce is ready to be served over couscous which takes approximately five minutes to prepare.  Top it off with parsley.

So there you have it, no fuss, no muss.

What is muss?  I'm going to have to look that up....

cracker jack title

Here it is, as promised!  I'm really excited to share this Friday Recipe with you for a few reasons:

  1. It's a Carey-original recipe.
  2. Actually, that first statement is only partly true.  It's really my mom's recipe, which is another reason why I'm thrilled to share it with you. I just added a tiny twist to make it mine.
  3. This is a super-simple recipe and if you  have young cooks in the kitchen this would be a perfect recipe to start them out on.  I learned this recipe when I was in Jr. High and my mom was my home economics teacher.  I wasn't allowed to call her "mom" in class.  That's a whole other weird story.
  4. The ingredient list is short and cheap.
  5. To put it plainly, it's good.  Really good.

cracker jack handwritten recipe

I have very few memories of my mother cooking with pre-packaged, processed foods.  She preferred to make things from scratch, and she could.  She was a brilliant cook.  Ironically, although she was very health conscious (very!), she was fine with sweet treats that were homemade in our kitchen and we made this recipe for Homemade Cracker Jack often.

It's easy enough to whip up on a weeknight after dinner and still maintain a feeling of health because the ingredients are very natural.  You can easily increase or decrease the size of your batch, making it a perfect party snack.

Are you ready?  Let's get started!  The full recipe will be at the end of this post, but I'll walk you through the finer points:

cracker jack pour

This recipe starts out simple enough... pop some popcorn.   You can use air popped corn, microwave popcorn (natural, not flavored) or you can do the stovetop method, which is my personal favorite.  You are going to need about 2 quarts of popcorn.  Don't know how much that is?  It is roughly 1/2 cup unpopped kernels but you can also use a 2 qt sauce pan to measure your corn after it is popped. This recipe is casual, easy-going, forgiving.  Don't get too hung up on getting exactly 2 quarts of popped corn, just estimate.  All will be well, I promise.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat combine the honey, butter and my addition, molasses.  The molasses is optional, my mom didn't use it.  But I think it adds one more delectable layer of flavor.

After those ingredients are melted and combined add the peanuts.  Some of you observant ones are looking at the above photo and thinking, "Those don't look like peanuts!"  You caught me!  It turns out, I was all out of peanuts so I grabbed some almond slivers.  This proves my point that this recipe is so easy, so forgiving.  You can swap the peanuts for your favorite nut or better yet, use a combination of nuts.  You could even leave the nuts out or use pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds instead.

Pour the melted honey-butter mixture over the popcorn and then using your hands or two spoons lightly toss the popcorn so the syrup and nuts are evenly distributed.

cracker jack tray

Slide the gooey popcorn onto a shallow baking sheet.  I line mine with parchment so the cleanup is a snap. Spread the  popcorn across the pan in a single, even layer.  You observant ones have caught me again, "That doesn't look like a single layer!"  Do as I say, not as I do!    My pan was a little too small.  But you can get around that non-problem by either giving the popcorn a little stir halfway through OR bake it in 2 batches.

Into a preheated 350 degree oven it goes for 10-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it!  It will be very sad if it burns because there is no salvaging burnt cracker jack.  It will turn golden brown as it bakes, pull it out before it starts turning dark brown.

This part is important: when you take it out of the oven you must let it cool!  You will be greatly tempted to start snacking on your cracker jack as soon as it comes out of the oven.  It will smell nutty and sweet, glistening from the butter and honey.  Resist!  You will blister your fingers and taste buds, I speak from experience.  Also, the popcorn might appear to be a little soggy when it first comes out of the oven.  Be patient dear friend, you will be rewarded.

cracker jack finished

After about 15 minutes of relaxing on the counter the popcorn will be nearly dry and cool enough to touch.  Slide your cracker jack into a big bowl, give it a little toss to break up any big clumps and enjoy!

It's crunchy and sweet.  It's salty and nutty.  It's addicting.  I really hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

____________________________________

Homemade Cracker Jack

by accordingtocarey.com

1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick)

1/4 cup honey

1 Tablespoon molasses (optional)

2 quarts popped corn, in a large bowl

3/4 cup peanuts (can substitute other nuts, seeds or leave out completely)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter, honey and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Mix in the nuts.  Pour mixture evenly over the popcorn and toss lightly to coat the popcorn evenly with the butter mixture.  Spread the sticky popcorn onto a shallow baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake the popcorn for  10-15 minutes, giving it a stir halfway through.  Remove the popcorn from the oven when it has turned golden brown.  Let it cool on the counter or stove top for 15 minutes before transferring to a large bowl.  Gently toss to break up any clumps and enjoy!

,

The power of suggestion is dangerous.  For example, last week a gal at my office was eating pork rinds (aka : chicharrones).  I have not thought of or eaten pork rinds since... well, I think it was while my Grandpa Dee was still alive and that was over 20 years ago.  He used to buy the big bag of spicy pork rinds and snack on them while watching television.  Or in the car.  Or when he driving tractor.  Or in bed.  He had a snacking problem.  Anyway... he used to share them with me and that salty, crispy, spicy crunch of deep fried pork fat sticks in my memories of him.  So when my office pal was eating them, I immediately started craving them.

It has been a week and I have not yet given in to the chile-flavored-pork-rind-craving, but I don't know how much longer I can withstand.  Hold fast, Carey!!

You can bet I'm going to give in sometime this weekend.

Today's recipe was also brought on by the power of suggestion.  Lately, I have been considering pulling out my mom's recipe for cinnamon rolls and doing a little experimenting.  I've only made them once and that was a very long time ago.  It will be a lot of trial and error to get them just right.  I hate error.

Then one day I was Pinterest-prowling and ran across Ree's recipe for Orange Marmalade Rolls.

It was the "orange" that got me, you know how much I love my citrus.  Plus they are a homemade-knockoff of these:

rolls

Pilsbury Orange Sweet Rolls.  They are so disgustingly sweet, processed, sticky and... yeah, I admit it, I like them with a big cup of coffee.   But homemade would be OK, right?  I can control the sugar and know that no Franken-foods went into the recipe.  So I filed that away in the back of my mind, craving them a little.  But not in a hurry.

Then I ran across this recipe from Saveur:

..

Sweet Orange Buns! It was a sign! Right?  Clearly, somebody wants me to eat orange cinnamon buns, it's all part of a Master-Plan.  The Master-Plan that makes me gain 15 pounds and have to wear jeans with an elastic waistband.

The gravitational pull towards these orange buns is going to get the better of me, I can feel it.

Whether you make the Saveur version or Ree's version, I hope you give them a try.  And gain 15 lbs.  That way I won't feel alone in the stretchy-pants-department.