Thursday, July 26, 2012

No Blah Here

This is my new favorite summer salad.  It's almost too pretty to eat.


As if.

It is really pretty, though, and it couldn't be any easier or more customizable.  The basics:  chop the stems of rainbow chard into 1/4 inch slices, and chop or tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.  Place the chard stems in the bottom of a colander, put the leaves on top.  Boil a cup (or more) of orzo--I used whole wheat.  When the orzo is done, pour it over the chard.  Drain really well, and then mix in what you want.  This salad has sliced zucchini and radishes, shredded yellow squash, diced tomatoes, and basil.  Add the cheese of your choice (this one has feta), and the dressing of your choice (I'm partial to a red wine vinaigrette), stir, and either eat right away, or chill and serve cold.

Normally, I find pasta salads either overdressed, really boring, or both.  But there's no blah here, and doesn't have to be because you can change up what goes in each time.  Hooray!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Twee Tasty Tartlets

We had a surfeit of blueberries this week, and more than any other fruit, except possibly apples, blueberries inspire me to cook with them.  We've had blueberry muffins, blueberry scones, and now, miniature blueberry tarts.

My first thought when I saw the recipe was, "Ugh.  Fussy."  But they weren't.  Here are my tips:

1.  Get yourself a tart tamper.  It will make putting the dough in the mini-muffin tin a heck of a lot easier.  I was singing my sister-in-law's praises for recommending this little beauty.

2.  Don't be tempted to overfill the tart cups.  You'll have blueberry lava flowing and merging all over the tin.  (If, like me, you can't resist, make sure you start smoothing the lava back into each cup shortly after you pull them out of the oven.  Also, start carefully loosening the tarts as soon as you've re-sorted the lava.  And clean the tin as soon as you have the tarts safely on the cooling rack. Once that blueberry stuff cools, it takes a jackhammer to remove.  I've done it both ways, and prefer the non-jackhammer way.)

3.  After you fill the cups, pop them back in the fridge for a while, even though the recipe doesn't call for it.  Especially if it's a 90 degree day, as it is here.  

3.  Make sure your mini-muffin pan is really, really non-stick.  Life will be easier.

4.  If some of the tartlets resist coming out of the pan, eat the evidence.  Heck, there are 24 of them.  Who's going to miss one?  Or, um, two. 

Here's the link.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Delicious Experimentation

I know.  It's been awhile.  These nachos were inspiring, though (and my sisters asked what the heck was going on with the blog) so here I am!  But more importantly, here are these nachos.

The town we live in is just south of Boston, Massachusetts.  We have a wealth of restaurants in Boston, of course, but our town is no slouch, either.  You can get great Vietnamese at Pho Hua, great fried seafood at Tony's on the beach, tasty "modern comfort food" at Remick's, and AWESOME nachos at the Fat Cat. 

The nachos in question are Roasted Garlic-Pulled Pork nachos.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that when I'm having an especially bad day, I have been known to eat the entire plate (minus a few naked chips) by myself.  I'm sure it's only about 7,000 calories and 920 grams of fat.  Fortunately, I don't have those kinds of bad days too often...!  Usually, I'm willing, nay, I prefer, to share.

As you can imagine, there's nothing low-fat about these suckers.  But making them at home, it's easier to control that somewhat.  There's nothing fast about these if you don't already have the pulled pork made, but do yourself a favor:  roast a pork shoulder for dinner one night over a weekend, roast some garlic at the tail end of the roasting, and shred and save about 2 cups of the meat so you can make these.  You won't be sorry.

Roasted Garlic and Pulled Pork Nachos
idea taken from the Fat Cat Restaurant

Roasted Pulled Pork and Roasted Garlic
one 4-5 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast, with fat left on
salt and pepper
2 bulbs garlic

Preheat oven to 425.

1.  Score the fat on the pork in a diamond pattern, making sure not to cut into the meat.  Rub about 1 tsp salt into the cuts.  Salt and pepper the other sides, to taste.  (see Jamie Oliver for an amazing recipe for this)
2.  Put the meat fat side up on a rack in a roasting pan (I used a cooling rack inside a jelly-roll pan, because I left my roaster in NY.).  Bake for 30 minutes, or until the fat starts to get crispy (crackling!).
3.  Cover the meat tightly with foil, lower the heat to 325, and roast for 3-5 hours (depending on the size of your roast) or until the meat is shrinking from the bone and pulls apart with two forks.  Remove the foil for the last 1/2 hour so the crackling crisps up again.  If you want to eat it.  If not, don't bother. 
4.  One and a half hours before the pork is done, cut the top off of the garlic bulbs, so that all garlic cloves are showing.  Place each on its own square of heavy-duty foil, drizzle each with about 2 tsp olive oil, wrap tightly, and roast in the oven until soft. 
5.  Remove pork and garlic from oven.  Shred two or so cups of the pork to use for the nachos, and enjoy the rest for dinner!  Or, well, maybe a few dinners... 

(serves 4...or in our house, two for dinner)

2 cups shredded pork
1 cup barbecue sauce of your choice, divided  (a balanced sweet-tangy is best here)
roasted garlic, cloves squeeze out of the papery husk (use as many of the cloves as you want--I used a little more than half of a bulb; the restaurant definitely uses more)
1 cup cooked corn  (frozen is fine here)
two to three handfuls of tortilla chips per person
4-6 oz shredded smoked mozzarella or smoked cheddar (or a mix)
pickled jalapenos (optional)
Corn and tomato salsa (see below)
plain Greek yogurt or sour cream for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 325.

1.  In a medium saucepan, heat the pork, 3/4 cup barbecue sauce, and garlic over low heat until warm.  Add corn, cook until warm.
2.  Scatter the tortilla chips on a jelly roll pan.  Evenly distribute the pork over the chips, drizzle over remaining barbecue sauce, sprinkle with jalapenos (if using) and evenly sprinkle cheese over all.  Bake on middle rack of oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and edges of chips are just starting to brown.
3.  Remove the nachos from the oven.  Evenly distribute the corn and tomato salsa, leaving the juices behind, over the nachos.  Return to the oven on the top rack, and bake until the tomatoes start to soften and the chips are browned at the edges, 7-10 minutes.  Serve with yogurt or sour cream, if desired.

Corn and tomato salsa

1 cup cooked corn* (fresh is better here, but frozen-quick cook it and drain it well-is fine)
1 cup chopped tomato
1 tbsp shredded basil
salt, to taste

Mix all ingredients to combine.
*If your corn is fresh, you could pan roast it or grill it to add a slight layer of smoky flavor.