Archive | March, 2011

Day Twenty Four: Stuffed Pork Shoulder with Greens, Green Garlic and Lemons

27 Mar

Spring hasn’t really hit us, despite the unusually unbearable time change two weeks ago. We’ve had the biggest winter season, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The past week has brought us storm after storm, blizzard after blizzard. I can only hope that the summer will be extra warm and sunny to make up for all this misery.

The only bright spot this week (in addition to having both of my brother-in-laws here with us this week) was the new CSA box. Beautiful deep purple colored red cabbage, tender braising green mix, green garlic, carrots, mandarins, fennel, chard, parsnips and fingerling potatoes. It was so inspiring, and I just wanted to use it all up in one meal! But alas, I can’t blow through it too fast – I want to enjoy the good stuff over time. However, this week  I needed just one meal that would remind me Spring is just around the corner, using up a lot of these fresh veggies.

There isn’t a better time for me to go all out with dinner than when we have John and Lynn over for our bi-weekly dinner. We thought we’d be watching the finale of Top Chef, but it appears the producers at Bravo want to keep this season going forever. So, while there was no finale (however, there were 2 perfectly good episodes to view), we would still have a delightful meal that was worthy of a finale.

Greens and pork shoulder go so naturally together, but I needed to try something that was different and an inventive way to incorporate some of the box’s ingredients. In doing so, I came across a posting from the oh so fabulous Fatted Calf Charcuterie in SF. There was no recipe, just the title “Berkshire Pork Shoulder Roasts Stuffed with Lemon, Green Garlic, Spring Onions and Greens”. It was one of their dishes available to purchase at the store, and it sounded sooooo good. And as simple as that, I was done searching. It seemed so perfect, given that I had green garlic and greens this week. There was no recipe, that was fine – I was determined to make this amazing sounding dish.

The idea of a stuffed shoulder with greens worked so well. The tender greens were extra good with pork juice and hint of lemon. Overall, the lemon gives the dish a great brightness without overpowering the subtle flavors of the green garlic or the pork, and infuses the pan juices with just the right amount of tart, lemony goodness. The pork was crispy on the outside, and amazingly juicy on the inside. It came together perfectly, just as I had envisioned it to taste.

To round this out, I served it with a relish of black eyed peas and sweet onions (recipe also included here). It was a great accompaniment – didn’t compete, but rather complemented nicely. I also served some pan-braised young carrots (another CSA fixing), and for the salad, shaved fennel (from the CSA box, of course) with blood oranges, greens and a light lemon vinaigrette. And last, for dessert, a parfait of sorts with lemon curd, mascarpone cream and homemade amaretti cookies.

Really, the meal just screamed…..and tasted……and smelled like Spring. I was happy, for the time being. As we ate, the clouds parted and there were blue skies for the first time in days. I like to think this meal may have actually kicked off the Spring season.

Stuffed Pork Shoulder with Greens, Green Garlic and Lemons

(serves about 6 people)

  • 3 to 4 lb pork shoulder, boneless, and butterflied
  • 1 lb greens (I used a braising mix, but kale, chard, collards or other greens will work)
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 stalks green garlic (depending on preference), thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups white wine

Season the pork with salt and pepper on all sides. Set aside and bring to room temperature.

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the greens and simmer until tender. Drain and let cool in the refrigerator. When cooled, squeeze out excess water and place in bowl; add the green garlic slices.

Layer the lemon slices across one side of the pork shoulder. Add the greens and garlic mixture on top of the lemons. Using kitchen string, tie up the shoulder in a few locations, making sure you keep it as tight as possible. Place in a roasting pan.

Roast the pork for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the size, roughly 1 hour per pound or so. Halfway through cooking, add the wine to the pan and baste the pork. Continue basting every 30 minutes or so. When done, remove the pork and let rest for about 30 minutes. To serve, remove strings and slice, drizzling pan juices over pork slices on the plate.

Black Eyed Pea and Sweet Onion Relish

(adapted from Food and Wine, with changes to the herbs and vinegar)

  • 1 cup dried black eyed peas
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 whole large Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 stalk green garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tbsp cider vinegar (depending on taste)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Soak the black eyed peas in hot water for about one hour. Drain and transfer to a saucepan. Add the cubed sweet potato and cover with water (should be 1″ above surface of peas and potatoes). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until peas and potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside.

Add olive oil to a large pan and heat over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown (the original recipe says to cook until translucent, but I wanted some “char” on mine). Add the green garlic and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and add the sweet potato-pea mixture; stir to combine. Add the herbs and the vinegar; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside until ready to serve – this is served at room temperature.


Pork-Free Post: Gluten-Free Goodies

17 Mar

Since going gluten-free a few years ago, I have felt somewhat deprived of sweets, although I always managed to make do. I made “pies” using crushed store-bought GF cookies as the crust, like my mascarpone cranberry pie with a gingersnap crust. Or I’d make crisps with an oat-sugar topping and various types of fruit, or random flourless cookies that you can’t really be too creative with. While they all help with my cravings, I am always left wanting more. I want “real” cookies and cake.

The problem for me with baking, mostly with cakes or cupcakes, has been a two-fold issue. First, gluten-free flours have been very finicky for me, and it can be difficult to get baked goods just right. We all know about the sinking cake. But most importantly is that I live at about 6,700 ft above sea level, which makes baking even more frustrating. Even before my entrance into the gluten-free world, I couldn’t get my stuff to rise properly – the ratios were all off, no matter what I tried. Now, that mixed with the different flours, is a whole new ballgame and is even more overwhelming. So, to deal with it, I just basically decided I wouldn’t bake.

That was until this past Christmas, when I thought I’d overcome my fear and crank out some cookies to pass around to the neighbors. I’m not sure why, but I decided to use quinoa and oat flours – maybe I thought they’d be more “healthy” and I could eat larger quantities. Maybe it was the oatmeal pancake recipe I’d read about that sounded so good – having the flour around wouldn’t be a total waste if the cookies didn’t turn out. Whatever it was, my decision was made and I would succeed.

Despite my inexperience with these flours, the cookies turned out great. They really tasted like regular old flour-based cookies. I also think that using coconut oil instead of butter played a role in that too – it yielded very crisp cookies without a hint of oilyness. I prefer crisp cookies to real soft ones, so this may just be a matter of preference. After reading a lot about using coconut oil, I found out that it has a similar structure to butter so they are quite interchangeable in baking.  Plus, it has a bit more health benefits so it made me feel a little bit better about stuffing my face with cookies.

My second attempt at baking slightly more aggressive. I decided this past weekend to bake a cake. I had no real idea what I was doing, but with the power of the internet I was able to research various flours and figure it out. I opted to create a pretty basic sour cream spice cake, using white rice flour and oat flour, with thinly sliced apples. Because I didn’t have enough sour cream, I used a combo of sour cream and Greek yogurt. The result was a moist, but dense, cake that had a great creaminess to it, especially around the apples. It was almost as if there was a very very thin layer of custard-like cake right around all the apple slices.  The runny glaze nicely finished the cake, soaking into the cake and filling up the wells on the top surface.

This cake turned out fantastic, which was seconded by folk who are able to eat “real” cake. Spicy, appley, cakey goodness.  While it was baking, I couldn’t help but break out into song, singing about how amazing the house smelled and how, get this, the cake actually rose! It was a miracle – I beat the gluten-free and altitude Gods at their game. For the past week, I have been so excited to finish dinner so I can actually have cake for dessert. I’m definitely looking forward to playing around with the flavors on this one – pears and other fruits, different spices. The possibilities are endless.

Gluten-Free Apple Spice Cake (serves about 6-8)

  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 3/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup sour cream, Greek yogurt, or a mixture of both
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (see note at end about this)
  • 2 large apples, cored and thinly sliced (I used Pink Lady apples, leaving the skin on)
  • Glaze, made with milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees if you are at lower altitudes).

In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, cardamom and baking soda. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Beat (I used my KitchenAid mixer) on medium-high until mixed and the volume has increased to about twice the original, about 4 minutes. Add the sour cream and mix on low until incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add the sliced apples.

Grease an 8″ or 9″ round cake pan with oil (I prefer coconut oil) and lightly coat with rice flour. Tap out the excess. Pour the batter into the pan. The batter will be very thick, and the apples may sit on top – you can press them down if you want to. Bake for about 45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cake plate or platter. Mix up a glaze with milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. I like mine on the runny side, but feel free to use whatever quantities you like. Drizzle on the cake.

Notes: My quantities are for high altitude – you’ll want to increase the amount of baking powder, to about 2 to 3 tsp. Also, the baking temperature for lower elevations should be 350 degrees, and the cake should bake for about the same time, but keep an eye on it as higher altitudes tend to need more baking time.

Kristina’s Gluten-Free Kitchen Sink Cookies (makes about 2 dozen)

  • 6 tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 chocolate chips, or more or less depending on how much you like

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If using coconut oil, melt on stovetop over low heat.

In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, beat the coconut oil (or butter) and both sugars until smooth, on medium. Add in the peanut butter, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until combined on medium. Turn to low and add the baking soda and baking powder. Slowly add in the quinoa flour and oat flour and mix until well mixed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the oats, chocolate chips and coconut, stirring with a wooden spoon until combined.

Drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, roughly about 1 tbsp each. Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned. When done, let cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooking rack.

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