Archive | August, 2011

Pork Free Post: Carrot-Almond Milk Pudding

20 Aug

We’re off for a much needed 15-day vacation this week, and I couldn’t be happier. It has been waaaay too long since we’ve had a real getaway. Very excited for relaxing on Nantucket beaches.

I’ve got the house to myself for a few days, so I’m trying to work through the fresh food we have before we go away. First on my list was some almond milk that I needed to use up. I figured that a pudding would be a good use, since I could snack on it over time and it wouldn’t make too much. I loaded up Google to find a good almond milk pudding recipe and came across the most interesting idea on the My Creative Flavors blog – Carrot and Almond Milk pudding. That would be perfect, since I’ve got a whole bunch of carrots that need to be used. Christian has also started to buy key limes for cocktails, but we didn’t go through the last bag – I thought that might be an interesting addition to the pudding as well.

I doctored up the recipe a bit, based on what I had and didn’t have. So the below one is slightly different that the original, but absolutely delicious. It is sweet, but not too sweet; rich in texture, but still light tasting. Nutritionally, it isn’t too bad for you. Each serving has about 168 calories, 5 grams of fat and 15 mg cholesterol. For a dessert, those are pretty good numbers. Amazing stuff – definitely will be made again. You need to make this!

Carrot – Almond Milk Pudding

  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • zest from 3 key limes

In a saucepan, add the almond milk and shredded carrots. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes. Cool for roughly 10 minutes, then add to a blender or Cuisinart and puree. Rinse out saucepan and return milk-carrot mixture to it.

Add the half-and-half, sugar and cardamom to the milk-carrot mixture. Remove about 1/2 cup of the mixture and add the cornstarch; whisk to incorporate and return to the saucepan, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute or two until it starts to thicken. Stir in lime zest.

When done, ladle into four 1/2-cup ramekins. Chill for an hour or so. Garnish with additional zest, if desired.

Day Thirty Four: Pupusas de Chicharrones

19 Aug

Normally, I wouldn’t be into anything labeled “chicharrones”. Even though I love pork, I’m not particularly fond of pork skin. Sin, I know. But lucky for me, in El Salvador, chicharrones means something different, and something way better in my opinion. It is essentially pork that has been boiled, then fried in it’s own fat, then minced or pureed into pure deliciousness with a tomato-based sauce. What isn’t to like about that?

Latin American food is heaven sent when it comes to eating a gluten-free diet. Take for instance the pupusa, basically El Salvador’s answer to a real gordita (not Taco Bell’s pathetic rendition) or an arepa. A homemade corn tortilla stuffed with fillings like meat, beans, cheese, etc, with a traditional offering being the Pupusa de Chicharrones. That brings us to day 33.

I was super excited to make these. Fresh tortillas are fantastic, but a filled one is even better. And really, it is quite easy. Time consuming, maybe, but a lot of it is unattended since you have to cook that pork down real good before frying it. The recipe below is an adaptation of one I found on Food Network here.

I served these with the traditional accompaniment, cortido – a simple slaw you serve on top of the pupusa. It is a bit fermented, as you are supposed to leave it out for a while at room temperature. It is tangy, crunchy goodness that pairs very well with the pupusa. You really can’t skip this part if you want the real deal. I also fried up some yuca that I bought at the store yesterday, and grilled up some corn from the farmer’s market.

Overall, this was good, but not great. The dough dries out pretty quickly, which made some of the last ones a bit dry. But the filling, which is the most important part of course, was very tasty. The recipe below makes WAY more than you’ll need, unless you plan on making 800 pupusas. Christian ended up piling extra filling on top of the pupusa, whereas I used it for a pork sandwich the following day for lunch. Delish.

I have to apologize (yet again) for the crappy pictures here. Our “good” camera was out and about with Christian, so I was stuck without it. I promise you, they taste better than they look!

Pupusas de Chicharrones

  • 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 jalepeno, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Mexican oregano
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup cotija cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 3/4 cups masa harina
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Place the pork in a crockpot with garlic, onion, water and 1/2 of the chopped jalepeno. Cook on low for 6 hours, until tender.

When done, transfer pork and juices to a large heavy pot (enameled cast iron, for example); cook over high heat so that the pork starts to fry in the juices and fat. Cook until most liquid is gone. Add the tomatoes, rest of the jalepeno, oregano, cinnamon, and salt/pepper to taste. Cook over medium low, covered, until thick and very little liquid is remaining. You’ll want to stir a lot in order to break up the meat – you want it to really incorporate with the sauce. Set aside to cool, then stir in the cheese.

To make the dough, combine the masa harina with water and salt until you have a dough; let stand for about 20 minutes. Add more water so the dough becomes very soft, like Play-Doh, but not sticky. Divide into 8 balls and cover with a moist paper towel.

Take each ball and press your thumb into the middle to form an indentation, then turn the dough to begin to flatten it into a disk. Add some filling to the center and bring the edges together over the filling; squeeze to form a seal. Gently press each dough ball into a flattened disk that resembles a thick pancake. Repeat with remaining dough.

Brush each pupusa with oil and place them on a heated and greased griddle. Cook until puffy, about 4 minutes on each side. Serve with the cortido on top.

Day Thirty Three: Chashu Rice Bowl (Chashu Don)

12 Aug

Day 33 (which by the way, is extremely delayed due to my laziness) takes us to Japan, one of Christian’s favorite cuisines. When he asked what I was making, and I told him Japanese food, his reponse was “Oh good, that is my favorite”. So the bar was high for me. The food is so clean, but so flavorful – there isn’t much to not like about Japanese cuisine.

While I really wanted to make ramen, I couldn’t do it without the real noodles, and since I can’t eat real noodles, it just wasn’t worth the effort. So, instead I opted for another uncomplicated, traditional dish – donburi, or a rice bowl. A super versatile concept adaptable to any type of meat, fish or vegetables. And yet another bonus is that it is so simple, and it really lets the meat (or whatever topping) shine as the star. Basically, you want your meat to be as flavorful as possible, because there is nothing there to overshadow it or emphasize the flavor. That is a good thing – uncomplicated dishes can really result in some of the best tasting food.

This rice bowl features chashu, a traditional Japanese boiled pork that becomes really tender, but not falling apart – it is sliceable meat, not pull apart meat. It should be made from fatty meats, like the shoulder, belly and even cheeks. The cooking liquid is full of flavor, with soy sauce, ginger, green onions and mirin. I added some white miso for a bit more flavor, but it isn’t necessary at all. I love miso though, and will find a reason to put it in whatever I can now. (This was another new discovery during the cleanse – dressings, soups, marinades, etc.)

After Christian’s first bite, he said “this is f’ing awesome”, so that is good. I thought it was really good too, but did not have the same level of appreciate for it that he did. The pork was tender and had quite a bit of flavor. I think, for me, the end product would have been better if I had reduced the cooking liquid down to a more concentrated and thicker sauce. Seemed like that is what fell flat for me. But the pork was cooked well and tasted great.

The recipe was really easy to make, and definitely could be a weekday thing (it was for me, at least). To go with the chashu, I quickly sauteed some beautiful white turnips and mizuna from the Farmer’s Market, adding a bit of tamari and mirin to finish it off. Delicious!

I ended up doing a lot research on this, since it was a new concept for me. I finally decided to take two recipes and mesh them together – this one and this one.  The latter site, from No Recipes, made me really want to seek out some pork cheeks – it is like the best of pork shoulder and pork belly combined. Sounds like heaven.

Chashu Rice Bowl

  • 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2″ piece ginger, sliced
  • 1 green onion, green part only
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • About 20 peppercorns
  • 1 cup
  • 1 additional green onion, sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

In a large pot or dutch oven, combine all ingredients except rice. Liquid should almost cover the pork. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Leave lid ajar slightly, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, until meat is tender (but not falling apart). Remove and let rest, covered in foil. Meanwhile, boil the sauce for about 10 minutes (longer if you want to try to make it more concentrated). Slice the meat thinly against the grain.

While meat is cooking and/or resting, make 1 cup of what rice (more if you want, less if you want). To serve, dish up the rice and top with pork, a drizzle of sauce and the green onions.

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