fall cookin’

October 17, 2012 Comments Off on fall cookin’

One of the all-out grand slams last winter was posole.  We had a magazine recipe that involved more cans than I’d normally prefer, but that also included slow-roasted pork shoulder with a garlic and cumin rub that was stellar.  The kids liked it the first time around, but after a few weeks in the freezer (OK, I thought it was pasta sauce at first) the stuff was magical.  They asked for it again this summer, but the thought of firing up the oven all day–even at only 245°–was too much for me to take.  “That’s a Fall or Winter dish,” I told them, laying down the seasonal law.  “It can’t be hot out.”

So, with daytime highs down into the 60s here, this was their first request out of the box this week.  I got a 2-lb. pork shoulder, arranged my Tuesday to work at home during the afternoon, rubbed that thing to within an inch of its life, and fired up the oven.  C earned his Rick Bayless merit badge when he walked in the door after Lego League.  “I SMELL POSOLE!” he said.  And he did, brother, he did.  The whole house reeked of roasted pork, onions, cumin, and slowly stewing hominy and tomatoes.  It smelled like home and Fall all at once.

I did the full condiment plate, even though I knew the kids wouldn’t touch the cilantro and would be purists about not letting the lime touch their spicy, woodsy soup.  But those added just the right amount of brightness, and I cooked down the roasted pork juices until they were super-concentrated, and then chucked those into the almost-cooked rest of the stuff to make the broth more flavorful.  It was as good as we remembered it, but we also saved enough to stash in the freezer.  That stuff will be delicious and warming come January.  They did, on the other hand, chow down on the flour tortillas–I’m convinced that there is no reason in the world to buy these things, since a stack of eight takes about ten minutes to throw together.  And they’re good fresh and hot…seriously good.

And we stuck with the Fall theme for dessert.  What could say October more than pumpkin pie?  And when it’s still warmish?  How about pumpkin pie ice cream?  I am NOT a fan of the coffee chain October pumpkin obsession–a pumpkin chai latte seems like the worst possible wake up on the planet.  But this combination seemed  reasonable–all the usual pie spices steeped in cream and egg yolks made for a nice warm/cold balance, and a few strategically placed pepitas and a gingersnap added salt and brightness.  The recipe was from SeriousEats, and even though I left out the bourbon on account of the kiddos (that sounded like a visit from a social worker) it was some of the best cold stuff we’ve made yet.



December 18, 2011 Comments Off on fish’n’chips


Holiday break!  The kids piled home Friday all ready for a few weeks off.  And proceeded to spend most of the weekend doing absolutely nothing, which I heartily endorsed.  It was nice enough that they could get outside–not too many more of those without the full winter gear on, I’m sure–and O’s riding lesson was chilly but not completely frozen.

L and I made them posole last night, which was amazing.  Bon Appetit had a recipe this month and it seemed readily achievable–roast a pork shoulder basically all day, shred it and add hominy, tomatoes, chicken broth, and a truckload of spices.  I made some tortillas, and the kids were impressed–O went back for seconds, and thirds.  Fortunately it made a ton, so the freezer is alive with southwestern goodness.

O announced that she’d nommed her friends’ fish sandwich Friday at lunch and really liked it.  I was not aware that the girl had ever eaten seafood before, so this was kind of a stunning revelation.  She asked whether we could have fish and chips for dinner tonight, and she appealed to her brother’s sense of adventure.  He was in, but skeptical.

We came home from Thanksgiving with a good segment of Mom’s cookbook library, including a Cook’s collection of international meals.  Sure enough, the British Isles section had fish’n’chips (what else would it have?)  When we lived in London, greasy fish’n’chips were one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  Whenever K would leave town for business I’d make my first dinner out of a dripping mass of fried cod and potatoes, usually with a pickle or two, all wrapped up in a genuine newspaper.  And, without fail, K would come home a few days later and say “ugh, you went to the chippy, didn’t you?”  Not a fan.  So it had never really been on my radar, but with my newfound love of the dutch oven and its ability to hold gallons of boiling oil, we figured this was a winner.

The Cook’s recipe was complicated, but it made sense.  The choreography went something like this: cut the potatoes into 1/2″ batons, dry out the fish in the fridge, boil the oil, drop in the fries for 6 minutes at 350°.  Take the fries out, get the oil hotter, dredge the fish in flour, a beer batter, and flour again, and fry it for 8 minutes.  Then do the fries again at 375° for another five minutes, and serve it all with peas.

It was a dance, for sure, but it worked really well.  The potatoes were crispy on the outside, and “cloud-like” (their words, not mine) on the inside.  And the fish?  Even better.  I used a nice lager for the batter–Bell’s–and the result was super-light but crunchy.  The fish was moist, tender, totally made of yum, in O’s words.  I got a high-five from her.  C ate about half of his, which is about his usual, and they said we should do it again.  I didn’t have the heart to make it an official British chippy meal, though–I left the peas unmushed, and no pickle.

It brought back London, for sure.  And the house smells like a chippy, probably for the next few days…

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