Friday, November 27, 2009

Much Thanks-giving


Picnik collage

We gathered at G's parents'--the first year we've all been together for Thanksgiving.  For the last two, we've been in China. Sister and mom got back from the Bahamas the night before. G's brother and his family came (and brought Legos). Joe, the son of G's dad's childhood friend (in Washington temporarily and flies Marine 1 for the President), joined us with his girlfriend. Uncle Mark was there, too.

Turkey (G did the carving), stuffing, cranberry salad, dressing, cranberry bread, candied carrots, asparagus, potatoes, gravy, citrus cake, pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan pie. Various reds and ice wine. Happy and thank-FULL!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Roast Lamb Shoulder with ratatouille and happy Thanksgiving!

As promised: the last of the successful weekend meats. This time it was roast lamb shoulder with ratatouille, green salad with blanched green beans and lemon dressing, cheese and almond pear tart. For a party of seven.

(a starter of olive oil, avocado and pistachios on grilled bread)

We had Cecile, Augustin, Deb, Martin and Henry over. Anyway, it was not too unlikely of a gathering. It was a good Saturday evening and we were happy with the way the food turned out.

Chopped fresh rosemary and garlic to rub on the lamb

A mandoline and vegetables for the ratatouille

(C&A brought Champagne and Deb and Martin brought and nice Bourdeaux--we had a Wesmar Zin and Graham Beck, a sparkling, at the ready).

 Green salad of Boston lettuce, basil, blanched green beans and pistachios. Dressed with lemon vinaigrette 
A small cheese course of Comte, Saint Andre triple cream, and a local Virginia semi-firm cheese 
An amazing pear and almond tart with port glaze that we bought at Costco a couple months ago (and put in the freezer); whipped fresh cream

We bought some orange and yellow striped tulips for the table. Overall, it was a fun evening full of laughter and good conversation. (You'll note that G's hands in most of the cooking images. He insisted on doing all the dirty work as I architected the meal; I can really get used to this!)

{click on the recipe to print}

The good time makes me thankful for all that we have in our lives: good health, food, and friends. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clay Pot Pork-the Sequel

The pork recipe I made for Eileen was so good, I thought I'd do it again...the next day. G came back from a week of business travel and what better way to welcome him home than with strange Eastern aromas. Again we started off with the spring rolls (see recipe here) and moved on to the clay pot pork.

I still had a bunch of the herbs left over and I asked him to pick up some more pork loin on his way home. I used a different recipe this time (that I liked better, see below), which yielded the heavenly juices that were missing before. It was savory, saucy and bursting with umami. The recipe also called for a hard boiled egg. Sounds strange, but it added an additional dimension and creaminess to the dish.

We finished with a little bitter and sweet (financial news and dark chocolate fudge store-bought bundt cake).

Here's the recipe from


"One of our everyday dish. If you don't have a clay pot, use a normal saucepan, big enough to hold about 1 1/2 lbs. pork and some sauce. I prefer pork tender loin with a bit of fat, but many people like pork shoulder or pork chops. If you use pork chops, change to about 1 3/4 - 2 lbs."

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup sugar*
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 to 2 chili, chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or change depending on your taste)
1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloins, cubed about 1 1/2 inch in size
1 pinch salt, to taste
1 pinch pepper
4 to 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (optional)
1/2 cup water

Put oil in pot or pan over medium heat, add sugar and cook, stirring frequently till it dissolves.

Add ginger, garlic, shallots, chili, cook for about 4-5 minutes Turn up the heat to high, add pork, stir till the meat has browned a little, then add water. When it comes to a boil, lower heat to simmer.

Cut hard boil eggs in half and put into pot. The eggs are optional, but they will absorb all the sauce and taste heavenly!

Cover the pot and let it simmer. I find the longer you leave it, the better it taste.

But after 30-35 minutes it's done.

Serve with cooked white rice or basmati, and that's a meal there.

Normally we just steam cabbage or water spinach for vegetables.

4-6 servings

*instead of just sugar, I used my mom's home-made caramel.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Clay Pot Pork

Thursday night I made a little birthday meal for my friend, Eileen. She said she wanted to have Vietnamese food.  I had never really made anything authentically Vietnamese before, but thought it shouldn't be all that difficult.  So I chose a popular braised pork dish.

Clay pot pork, is a traditional rustic dish made with a fatty cut (which lends so much flavor), a smokey caramel (not butter), fish sauce, and unctuous aromatics including ginger, garlic, and scallions.

I used a Gourmet recipe I had found online. True to my usual form, I only partially followed it. I had a jar of my mom's pre-made caramel and basically just chopped and tossed the meat in it along with about a tablespoon of Thai fish sauce and the aromatics. I threw it in a warm pot, put a lid over it and stirred it a few times for the better part of 30 minutes.
It turned out more like a lacquered pork. Still amazingly delicious, but the usual sauce in which vegetables (I used steamed bok choi) are usually dipped was sadly missing.

We enjoyed it nonetheless. (I had a do-over the next evening when G came home from his business trip.)

Here's recipe from Gourmet Cookbook (which I found online). (What it needed was water; but we'll get to that in the next recipe.)

Clay Pot Pork

Diary of a Foodie: Season Two: Vietnam: The Taste of Simplicity

  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:2 hr

Cooking meat in caramel sauce is a popular technique in Vietnam; the sweet/bitter sauce makes a perfect foil for slow-braised pork. This is traditionally made in a clay pot, but a heavy saucepan or small Dutch oven also works well. The relatively large amount of fish sauce is important for the flavor of the dish. Serve the pork over white rice.

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth or water
  • 1/3 cup Asian fish sauce, preferably Vietnamese
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally, white and green parts kept separate
  • 1 lb trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • Accompaniment:

    cooked rice

  • Cook sugar in a dry 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, without stirring, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar has melted into a deep golden caramel. Carefully add stock and fish sauce (caramel will harden and steam vigorously) and cook, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Add shallots, garlic, and white part of scallions and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes.

  • Toss pork with pepper in a bowl and stir into sauce. Bring to a simmer, then cover pan, reduce heat to low, and braise pork, stirring once or twice, until very tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

  • Stir in scallion greens and serve with rice.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Three days of successful meat

[Warning: look away vegetarians, vegans, and others who are really missing out...lots o meat ahead]

It's late Sunday night. I feel really proud. You see, I've had a lot of celebratory food in the past several days, all of which I made myself. And each dish turned out well, if I do say so...

Sure I feel bloated and sluggish right now, but I'm still happy for the successes. They're worth it.

Clay pot pork (two recipes, two nights back to back); roast lamb shoulder.

Sorry, only teaser pics for now (did I mention it's late Sunday night?). Recipes (and context) to follow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Againn and again

We toasted to yet another (again?) special occasion for our fave Frenchies, Cecile and Augustin: they just came back from Paris, fresh from their civil wedding ceremony.

They told us of the pompous deputy mayor who officiated. It was very hilarious! All I remember is that he put on a show which included broken English and utterances of "New York! New York! New York!" as well as his posturing as a friend of Africa whilst asserting that Columbia University (where the couple met), while a great school, is "no Sorbonne."

We decided on Againn (pronounced agwen), a new gastro pub. I love their elevated pub menu which includes a "daily roasts" section (for this particular Saturday it was roast pork with crackling and bubble and squeak--which they ran out of) and traditional English bar fare (including shepherd's pie, black pudding, and bangers and mash). Though there was a very full display of wine, their focus was the whiskey menu.

Starters included, poached pear, Stilton and grapefruit salad; grilled sea bass; raw oysters and Champagne! For dinner: I had the fish and chips with mashed peas. Cecile had the roasted flat iron steak with bone marrow. The guys had the pork belly with cracklings and apples. All pretty good! I'd like to try it....AGAINN!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday night with the in-laws: Huneeus wine dinner at the country club

We spent Friday evening with G's parents at the Army Navy Country Club annual wine dinner. It was cute and the old, tired club made a good effort. The menu was decent, but the wine was fantastic.  The showcased vintner was Huneeus. They paired outstanding wines with each course.

The Huneeus family has roots in Chile, but is now established in Napa. At the display table: Veramonte Sauv Blanc (Chile), Illumination Sauv Blanc (Napa), Primus Red Blend, (Chile), Faust Cab (Napa), Quintessa Red Blend (Napa), and Veramonte Rose of Syrah (a port/fortified wine - Chile) 
We started with cheese and other little apps, including passed Arctic Char canapé . Had it with the Veramonte Sauv Blanc (which was just okay). 

We sat at table 4.
Fabulous hearts of palm, pomello and pink grapefruit salad in tamarind-chive dress. Stunningly delicate and nuanced, paired SO well with the Illumination Sauv Blanc (a fantastic, crisp, yet dense style)
Sardinian Asfodello Honey Lacquered Breast of Long Island Duckling in saffron orange sauce over grilled polenta. Yummy flavors, the duck was a bit overdone and tough; I prefer rare to medium rare. It was paired with the Primus Red Blend (Chile). Not bad.

Main cours of Hickory Smoked Wisconsin Lamb Chop with mashed potatoes (I think they were from a box!), Chinese eggplant a la Parmesan, corn tuille, and asparagus. This had little flavor and was, again, overcooked. Lamb really should be served more rare. But the effort and plating were nice. Served with Quintessa Red Blend (FANTASTIC!!!) and the Faust Cabernet (which was nice, but I liked the Quintessa better).
Yummy white chocolate and ricotta mouse in strawberry soup and Sicilian Pistachios --TOTALLY YUMMY! Served with an okay port/fortified Veramonte, Reserva Rose of Syrah.

Handmade chocolate truffles and shortbread cookies. The truffles were soft and nice.

I think G's parents had a nice time, as did we. We all agreed that the food could have been a bit better, but the effort was notable for this old club. The flavors and presentation were good, just wish the meats were prepared more rare. But great ideas and great wine.
Related Posts with Thumbnails

View My Stats