Posts tagged ‘sandwiches’
The kitchen first this time is not a new ingredient, but instead the conquering of a kitchen technique: the poached egg, no cheatsies! Up until now, whenever I was called on to create a poached egg I would simply reach for my handy dandy egg-poaching device, let the eggs cook in their little metal cups, and then slide them out, looking all freakishly disc-shaped. I am not a fan of runny yolks, so poached eggs are not a huge deal for me and I was happy enough with this arrangement as it allowed me to quickly and easily make poached eggs for Stephen. But, the more I cook and blog, the more I realize how obsessed food people are with poached eggs, so it kind of bothered me that I wasn’t able to create a normal-looking, old fashioned poached egg in a water bath. Enter my new favorite cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking For Two: 2010, and I finally found a poached egg sandwich recipe that I could master, and even enjoy. (more…)
This Fourth of July, we found ourselves without plans for a potluck, barbecue or family get together. This was totally ok by me for a change, but I did want to preserve a little tradition, at least by making some semblance of a to-do about it, since my usual fourth’s of july rely heavily on a barbecue, copious fireworks, a chocolate butterscotch bundt cake, and a generous sprinkling of sangria. So, to maintain a sense of celebration, we decided to try something new: pulled pork! I happen to love a good pulled pork sandwich, so I figured now was as good a time as any to learn how to do it.
However, a google search of pulled pork recipes quickly revealed that there are a dizzying number of ways to make it, and everybody seems to think theirs is the best. As a pulled pork enthusiast but a total virgin at making it myself, this makes it pretty friggin difficult to figure out the best/easiest/traditionalest version to try. As far as I’ve gathered, there are several ways to attack a pork shoulder:
1) Most traditionally, on the grill (we are ill-equipped for this, so it wasn’t an option for now)
2) In a slow-cooker, with or without searing it first. I gather that the Splendid Table’s unseared, slow-cooker “ultimate cheater” pulled pork is a well-loved recipe, and can maybe be improved by searing it first, but you can also check out Martha’s slow-cooker version here (slow-cooker appeals to me, and will star in its own post as soon as we’re ready for more pulled pork)
3) In a dutch oven, also à la Martha (we don’t have one for the time being)
4) In a roasting pan in the oven– there are many ways to do it, but I figured I could count on Cook’s Illustrated‘s indoor pulled pork recipe
5) On the stovetop, à la Simply Recipes, which I trust, and which seems quickest (about 2 to 3 hours start to finish) although this method will result in no crunchy bits in the finished pork.
Given these options, and after a ton of internet comparison, I decided that for our first pulled pork, I would try the Cook’s Illustrated oven version, which I dub the rub n’ roast. Instructions follow, both for a little roast like the one we used (2 lbs, only makes 4 sandwiches) and for a more standard, 4-6 lb pork shoulder. This method features a seasoned brining (to keep things moist), a wet and dry rub (for flavor), a covered roasting period (simulating a dutch oven), and an uncovered roasting period (for developing a crunchy crust) before shredding and saucing, and it produces a fabulously flavorful pork shoulder with those oh-s0-lovely crispy bits. Once the meat is rested and shredded, you can toss it with your favorite barbecue sauce (bottled or make your own), and I like that you have the flexibility to use a sauce you like (also, you can leave some of it unsauced and use it for all kinds of other applications if you have leftovers). We thought this method was great for its ability to produce a shoulder with deep pulled pork flavors, melt-in-your-mouth shreddable-ness, and crunchy bits, but also for its accessibility to those of us who are either new to pulled pork, or lacking in certain equipment. Stay tuned for part 2 in this series, where I will try pullin’ some pork in a slow cooker.
This week we’ve gone middle eastern (well, westernized middle eastern perhaps) for kitchen firsts to fill in a real gap in my culinary repertoire. That’s right everybody, I have never made falafels before (let alone awesome baked ones). Some of you may consider this a sin, but I was slow to discover the need for a good falafel recipe because I used to think they tasted like sawdust balls. But after eating some really good ones as street food in France and then discovering some even tastier versions of them around here, I’ve finally warmed to the crispy savory deliciousness and come to appreciate the opportunity they provide to eat a really satisfying meatless (nay, vegan!) meal.
Even after I discovered that eating falafels was not so bad, they remained on my no-cook list for quite awhile because I was skeptical about making them myself, what with the trouble and questionable healthfulness of frying the little guys up. Then about a year ago I came across this recipe for baked falafels, and I stored the smart-sounding idea in the back recesses of my mental recipe-log, until this week when we finally made them! And now that I’ve tried them, I can’t believe I waited so long.
The recent springy, even summery weather seems to be leaving me craving light, fresh dinners. We went through a salad-for-every-meal stage, and then a ravenous farmers market stage, and now I’ve come to a place where it gets to be dinner time and all I really want is a sammich; gimme two pieces of bread with some goop in the middle, and I’ll happily chomp away with the early evening sun streaming in and a drink in my hand.
However, as a person who likes to cook (and as a person with an interest in bloggables), I do feel like if I’m going to bend meal-rules and eat a sandwich for dinner, it had better be something interesting that requires at least a smidge of something resembling cooking (but not too much cooking, since it is just a sandwich after all). Regular ol tuna salad or grilled cheese or turkey sandwiches are just fine at lunch or for a snack, but for dinner I require at least a little something different from my sandwiches. So, when I stumbled upon the ideas for Italian Chicken Salad and Mediterranean Tuna Salad, I threw them onto our weekly meal plan and we ended up moving our schedule around so we could eat them sooner.
This is the time of year when people tend to have a surplus of interestingly colored hard boiled eggs laying around. Before I came to appreciate egg salad, I remember we always used to try to make ourselves eat some of those chemical-colored eggs just as they are, and then we’d end up throwing most of them away. But it recently occurred to me that as long as your eggs aren’t too unappetizingly colored, there is really nothing better to do than make a batch of egg salad! I always used to eschew egg salad because I thought it sounded and looked and smelled weird, but over the last year I realized that my fear of the stuff was really quite irrational and I should go ahead and conquer it. I discovered the simple tastiness of a really good, simple, freshly homemade egg salad sandwich (without too much mayo!), and while I don’t make them often, when the mood strikes they can really hit a spot. Right after Easter seems the perfect time to have an egg-salad mood strike, and even though I didn’t actually dye any eggs this year, seeing a recipe for egg salad that involves bacon and horseradish was enough to make me set a pot of eggs to boil!
Sometimes I forget that sandwiches can exist outside the realm of lunch. A few too many soggy sandwiches have started turning me into a bit of a sandwich skeptic, and call me crazy, but I often find that the idea of a sandwich is better than the actual sandwich itself. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of the sandwich and a good one done right is pure bliss. It’s just that for me, most sandwiches are just not particularly memorable meals, and don’t even cross my mind when it’s time to prepare dinner. But I do love it when a sandwich can prove me wrong, and I recently discovered one that did just that.