Wednesday, March 25, 2009

faux-b-que

It's not real barbeque -- real barbeque is cooked slowly over hickory and is one of my favorite meals. Faux-b-que is cooked in a crockpot. It's not the real thing, but it's a pretty nice replacement that can cook while you're at work.

Faux-B-Que
3-4 lbs. pork loin
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 t. liquid smoke
1-2 T. hot sauce
dry rub of your choice (including, but not limited to: sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin...)

This really couldn't be simplier...

1. Apply dry rub to loin.

2. Place in crockpot.
3. Mix together vinegar, hot sauce and liquid smoke. Pour over loin.

4. Cook on Low for about 8 hours.

5. Take two forks and rip the pork to shreds.
6. Apply the BBQ sauce of your choice.

Being from South Carolina, I should naturally like mustard sauce. I'm actually partial to the Western North Carolina style sauces. These are similar to the vinegar/hot sauce concotions of Eastern North Carolina, except a bit of sugar and tomato paste is added back in help balance the vinegar and provide a bit more body.

Here's the rough recipe I use:
1 c. apple cider vinegar
2+ T. hot sauce (for this one, I went with Frank's Red Hot)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 T. tomato paste concentrate
crushed black pepper

Heat over medium for 30 minutes or so. Adjust for taste (more hot sauce if you like it spicy, etc...)

I like to add a portion of the sauce to the meat, and hold the rest back so that people can use as much as they'd like. Serve on a hamburger bun with some coleslaw either on top or to the side.

Friday, March 6, 2009

greek pork loin

I've made this a few times now, still tweaking it a little bit here and there... it's a Greek inspired pork loin, served over a bed of spinach with some feta cheese. The pork loin is rolled around a Greek salsa of sorts: kalamata olives, tomato, onion and spices. Served with some hummus and a pile of baked pita triangles ahead of time!

Greek Salsa:
1/2 c pitted kalamata olives
1/2 medium red onion
3 roma tomatoes, gutted/deseeded/whatever...
salt
pepper
1 T oregano
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor.

2. Blend, then set aside for later.

Pork Loin:
1 3-4 lb. boneless pork loin
salt
pepper
1 lemon
spinach
feta cheese crumbles
grape tomatoes

1. Slice pork lengthwise, doing the best you can to create a flat piece of even thickness. You're going to be rolling this up in a bit.

2. Spread the greek salsa you made earlier all over the unrolled pork.
3. Roll the pork back up on itself. I do all this right in the baking dish. Lay it back down in the dish.
4. Some salt and fresh ground pepper across the top, then the juice of 1 lemon squirted all over.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in a 375F oven for about an hour. (Take it's temperature just to make sure.)

6. Let the meat rest for about 5-10 minutes, then slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Serve over a healthy handful of spinach, a few grape tomatoes on the side, some feta cheese across the top, and then a spoonful or two of the liquid from the pan back on top of the pork slices. Additionally, I drizzled some good balsamic vinegar over the entire plate.

Here's a parting shot of my hummus and pita appetizer. I'll leave that for another post...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More of Guest Blogger Week - Damn Yankee Grits

In this dish, New York Cheddar meets Carolina Grits:
Recently, I was lucky enough to find ‘Cuba Cheddar’ at the local supermarket. There is no better cheddar than a sharp New York cheddar, and the cheddarati will tell you that the cheese from Cuba, New York is one of the best New York cheddars.

I also had a bag of stone-ground Carolina Grits that I smuggled north from my last visit. These are not the pasty instant grits we find around here. These grits have real flavor, aroma and texture. In this dish, the coarser texture holds up well and contrasts nicely with the creaminess of the cheese.

Damn Yankee Grits

2 c. grits
6 c. water
3 Tb. Butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt
5-6 cloves garlic - chopped
8 oz. New York Cheddar - grated
1 Andouillle Sausage - diced
1/2 c. milk
3 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Bring the water to a boil and stir in the grits. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Stir more often toward the end of the cooking time, and lower the heat if necessary to keep it from sticking.
3. Meanwhile, fry the sausage until browned and crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on some paper towels.

4. When the grits are done, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, garlic and sausage and season to taste with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Add in all but ½ c. of the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the milk and eggs and pour into a casserole. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 1 hour.
6. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guest Blogger Week Continues - Vodka Riggies - and dessert

One thing this family DOES know is food! You will hopefully soon see recipes from Regina's Mom, Bobby's cousin, and Matt's brother. Today's Guest Blogger is Regina's cousin Susan.

Sue & Scott's Vodka Riggies Recipe

Ingredients:

1 small onion (Bermuda is called for, but I've used anything in season), diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 lb. of prosciutto ham, diced (bite-size)
4 oz. vodka
1 can diced tomatoes
4 bay leaves
3 oz. heavy cream
Olive oil
Box of Rigatoni (or Ziti) pasta, cooked and drained

Directions:
Sautee prosciutto and garlic. Add onion and continue to sautee until onions are soft.

Add vodka - mixing well, then stir in diced tomatoes and bay leaves. Let simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Remove bay leaves once simmering is complete, then mix in heavy cream.

Place cooked pasta in a large serving bowl, add vodka mixture and combine well.

Serve with a nice green salad.

Hope you like it :)

(and even though Susan did not send photos of her Vodka Riggies, she sent this real live package in the mail instead...and they did not need re-crisping - they were just perfect!!! We will work on her to get this recipe to share with you one of these days. In the meantime - we aren't sharing anything more than the pictures.)


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Guest Blogger Week -Italian Veggie Saute


Our Guest Blogger today is Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl Designs. A friend of Regina's, Joan's favorite food is chocolate, and she knows her way around the kitchen just as well as her way around the sewing room. As Joan would say - let's raise a cuppa and enjoy... Thanks for joining us, Joan.


Italian Veggie Saute
2 medium onions, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, chopped/diced (fire-roasted diced is good)
1-2 tsp oregano
1-2 tsp basil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Just a bit of oil and butter

Italian Veggie Sauté is one of my all-time favorite and go-to veggie dishes due to its ease in making and versatility in using. The end result is a nice flavorful medley, perfect as a side dish, great topped with feta or parmesan, and wonderful on top a bed of rice. I’ve baked it atop chicken breasts, too.

Whether you make a little or a lot, the basic principle behind it is to aim for equal parts onion, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes. Use what you have on hand or is in season. Use fresh tomatoes when possible, otherwise try diced ‘fire roasted’ tomatoes from Hunts or Muir Glen (organic).

After sautéing the onions, this recipe comes together quickly, so I like to chop the zucchini and squash and set it aside. Then I heat the oil/butter as I chop the onions. I like to use my food processor to chop the veggies so they are consistent in thickness and will cook evenly. And it’s fast, and I’m Lazy, so it’s a good match.

A few notes about the rest of the ingredients. Whenever I start a sauté, I like to use a little butter with the oil to help caramelize the onions just a tad. Use a little or a lot of oregano and basil – you know what you like. The same could be said for the garlic as well.

I use a 3 quart sauté pan. Don’t use an aluminum pan if possible. This dish is going to simmer on the stove for a while and the acid from the tomatoes will react with aluminum.

Let’s get started:

Heat oil and butter in sauté pan over medium high heat.
Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add garlic and sauté another minute or two.

Add zucchini, squash, and spices.

Top with tomatoes.

Cover and cook a few minutes to release juices from the veggies.
This will also allow the tomatoes to carry the spices down to the bottom of the pan for you and get the party started.

Stir, reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 15-25 minutes as needed to soften the veggies. Stir occasionally.

Serve any way you like. My favorite is a topped with feta cheese. Enjoy!