April 24, 2015

Vietnamese Ham (Cha Lua)

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Vietnamese ham, also know as Vietnamese pork roll or cha lua, is one of the simpler sausages to make. All you need is some ground pork, some seasoning, and baking powder. The baking powder and tapioca flour add the desired bounciness you're looking for. In fact, some chefs bounce the meat on the counter to make sure it's cooked. If it bounces, it's done. To get it just like you would find in a grocery store or restaurant, use the ingredients below. Otherwise, go crazy and mix it up!

This goes particularly well with some stir-fried veggies and rice, in soup, or in spring rolls. The leftovers freeze quite well too. Enjoy!

Vietnamese Ham (Cha Lua)

Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large bowl, add the pork and fish sauce and mix.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the water, tapioca flour, and baking powder and mix.
  3. Fold this into the pork. It will be quite moist.
  4. Cover and allow to rest at least 6 hrs in the fridge - preferably overnight.
  5. When ready to cook, grind the mixture in small batches in a food processor. It’s very important to keep the mixture cold, so only work in small batches and keep remainder in the fridge. The texture should be very smooth.
  6. You can either wrap it up in banana leaf or in plastic wrap. Wrapping it in plastic wrap is much faster and easier. The meat will rise and expand a bit when cooked too.
  7. Steam for about 20-25 minutes.

April 17, 2015

Stuffed Roast Pork Loin

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This one's a little tricky and takes a little time, yet the roast that emerges is savory with a not-too-sweet stuffing. It's huge and well worth it. It also works extremely well without the stuffing. The brine is just that delicious. Enjoy!

Stuffed Roast Pork Loin

Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts pork brine
  • 2.5 pound pork loin roast
  • 1/2 cup fennel, cut into 1 1/2 by 1/2 inch pieces
  • canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fig and balsamic jam
  • 1/4 cup stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • kosher salt and fresh black pepper
  • Pork Brine
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves, crushed, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 8 cups water
  • Fig and Balsamic Jam
  • 0.8 pounds figs, preferably Black Mission or Kadota, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, tied in a sachet
  • lemon juice
Cooking Directions
    Pork Brine
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve salt. Remove from heat and cool completely, then chill before using.
  2. Fig and Balsamic Jam
  3. Combine figs, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and sachet in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring to break up large chunks of fig, until the jam reaches 215 F to 220 F. Remove from heat and remove the sachet. Add lemon juice to taste. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Pork Roast
  5. Pour the brine into a large container and add the pork. Refrigerate for 10 hours but no longer.
  6. Remove pork and rinse. Pat dry or let air dry. Discard brine.
  7. With a long knife, make a horizontal lengthwise cut all the way through the center of the loin. Work from both ends. Then make a vertical cut to form a cross.
  8. Set a rack over a baking sheet and line with paper towels.
  9. Heat a small amount of canola oil in a medium pan over medium heat, cook fennel for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Add garlic and shallot and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the jam until warm, then add stock, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until combined. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool completely.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put a roasting rack in a roasting pan and put it in the oven.
  11. Meanwhile, use your fingers to widen the cavity in the meat. Stuff the pork loin from both ends all the way to the center. Tie the loin with kitchen twine.
  12. Season the loin with salt and pepper all over. Heat some more canola oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until smoking. Brown the loin on all sides, 2-3 minutes per side.
  13. Transfer the pork to the roasting pan and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the pork is 135 F to 140 F. Remove from the oven and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove the string and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Plate and sprinkle with coarse salt.

April 10, 2015

Perfect Collard Greens

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These are the perfect basic collard greens. As is, they're vegan. From here, you can fancy them up however you like. They go great with some mac and cheese. Enjoy!

Perfect Collard Greens

Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch collard greens
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add seasoning and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium.
  2. Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Slice into 1/2 to 1-inch thick slices.
  3. Place greens in pot and add butter. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, taste and adjust seasoning.

April 03, 2015

Sinful Baked Mac and Cheese

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Deliciously sinful baked mac and cheese is a luxury. A luxury in that it's so rich, you should probably only have a small portion and have a large salad and steamed veggies with it. It's not, however, a luxury in time or cost. Extremely easy and simple, this will fulfill any mac and cheese craving you're likely to have for a long time. Enjoy!


Sinful Baked Mac and Cheese

Yield: 8-12 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Gruyere, grated OR
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 pound macaroni or similar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
  2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Melt the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When it bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  4. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep the mixture smooth. Continue whisking constantly until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, and 3/4 cups Gruyère (or 1/4 cup parmesan). Set the cheese sauce aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain the macaroni. Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce.
  7. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes to set, then serve.

March 27, 2015

Healthy Granola Bars

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Most often, granola bars are laden with lots of extra sugar and less-than-good-for-you ingredients. The "healthy" part of them all but disappears at that point. Sure, there are a few good ones out there now, but they can be expensive. For the same price you can make an entire batch or more.

The best part is that the recipe below can be tweaked to your liking. Don't like dates? Sub in raisins. Want to cut back on the honey? Go for it. Got a thing against peanut butter? Well then you're crazy and I just can't help you. Or use a nut/seed butter. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

Healthy Granola Bars

Yield: 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roasted
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
Cooking Directions
  1. Soak dates in water for 10 minutes.
  2. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should be able to roll into a ball, with a dough consistency.
  3. Toast the oats at 350 F in the oven until slightly golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. Place oats, nuts, and dates in a bowl.
  5. Warm honey and peanut butter in a small pan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates.
  6. Once mixed, transfer to an 8x8 or 7x11 dish lined with parchment paper.
  7. Press down until uniformly flat. Cover with parchment paper, and let set in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to harden.
  8. Remove bars from pan and chop into 16 bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or wrapped up in the freezer.