Archive | January, 2011

BBQ pulled pork tacos

28 Jan

Slow cooker + pork shoulder + apple cider vinegar + brown sugar = magic.

Definitely planning these BBQ pulled pork tacos for an upcoming charity dinner. They combine a vinegary, spicy and sweet, North Carolina-inspired pulled pork BBQ with a roasted jalapeno and cilantro slaw, queso fresco, and cilantro-lime sour cream. Have yet to eat them for a meal, but have eaten two of them.

Here’s the recipe. It’s derived mostly from a pulled pork recipe on, and a little bit from condiments that are delicious:

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Chocolate-chunk-pecan cookies, with bacon

28 Jan

About a week ago, I started thinking up Southern-themed cookie recipes, in celebration of Carolina being not only not awful, but actually almost somewhat decent at basketball this season. Barring a macaroni-and-cheese cookie, I came up with a short list of ingredients that remind me of home: pecans and pork.

After ruling out actually putting pieces of bacon in the cookies (though that idea might come back around), I settled on a chocolate-chunk-pecan cookie that is flavored with bacon salt, instead of the standard Kosher. The sort of bacon salt I had on hand is from City Market, and is essentially what would happen if you blended Bacos into a powder (no pigs were harmed in the production of this seasoning). It makes the cookie taste like a meal.

The result, using a mix of extra-dark chocolate, semi-sweet chips and pecans, was satisfyingly sweet and mystifyingly hearty. I might recommend toasting the pecans on a second round, or adding a splash of sweet bourbon for extra Southern flavor.

Go heels. Go cookies. Read on for the recipe:

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Recipe: Tomato soup with basil and roasted garlic

24 Jan

We had a soup-themed charity dinner this week, with tomato-basil and broccoli-potato-cheddar anchoring the menu. They’re two of my favorite kinds of soup (that has nothing to do with their adaptability to cheese, promise), and I just couldn’t make it through the week without eating more of them.

Unfortunately, we ate all the soup at charity dinner, so I had to make more. Fortunately, I have some pretty amazing soup-lunch plans for the next few days.

This post is home to a work-in-progress version of a chunky tomato soup with basil and roasted garlic. It uses canned diced tomatoes, a few fresh Roma tomatoes, a head of roasted garlic, yellow onion, fresh basil, chicken stock, milk, butter, and a spice mix that seems to have magically appeared in our apartment (made up of dried peppers, kosher salt, garlic, onion, various Italian herbs, and raw sugar).

Read on for the recipe.


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Accidental recipe: Coffee-hazelnut-chocolate-oatmeal cookies

23 Jan

For about three years living in Colorado, every cookie I baked was a grainy, mortar-textured hockey puck. For each recipe that worked in North Carolina, there was suddenly a useless, tooth-breaking counterpart.

Successful cookie-baking was completely elusive until a little treasure chest of high-altitude-friendly recipes entered my world in the form of the North Fork Ranch‘s family cookbook.

For the first week or so, I was convinced these recipes didn’t work — surely it was the shortening that was making them so crispy. Turns out I was baking everything for about 8 minutes longer than necessary. With adjusted timing, those recipes turned into springboards for chewy, slightly salty cookies that have countless adaptations.

This one was brought on by some leftover coffee and a very tempting bar of hazelnut-infused chocolate from one of Steamboat’s organic food stores, Bamboo Market.

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Recipe: Sweet potato roll

23 Jan

For a brief second (four hours) leading up to last week’s charity dinner, I thought I would make seven or so different types of low-budget sushi rolls.

Then I put off planning, shopping and cooking until about 4 p.m. Sunday — three hours before we planned to start dinner. And the house was a mess. And I threw out my back (doing laundry, or something).

In revising the menu, it seemed like such a shame to toss out the sushi idea entirely. So the meatier rolls became stir fry, the more work-intensive rolls became a noodle salad, and the simplest, most adaptable, cheapest rolls stayed on. One of the latter options was a tempura snack lifted more or less directly off the menu of our favorite sushi place in town: a nori/seaweed roll with sticky white rice, tempura (lightly battered and fried) sweet potato, cream cheese and fresh basil.

Here’s the recipe, though the description above pretty well covers it:

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Recipe: Soy dipping sauce

18 Jan

I will believe absolutely anything Mark Bittman writes or says.

Small, oily fishes are a wonder-food? Sure — that’s why there’s a misshapen, gallon-sized bag of them in our freezer.

That would be better if you made it with pork? Well, duh.

So when I decided to go with a general pan-Asian theme for this Sunday’s charity dinner, I consulted my two favorite Bittman-related resources: the classic “How to Cook Everything,” and the Asian-leaning “Best Recipes in the World.” Here’s the problem: both books are bulky, and I love them, and I was afraid to get hoisin all over them. Things got a little adjusted, based on a slightly skewed memory of the recipes on the other side of the room. Here’s my take on Bittman’s soy dipping sauce (paired with pork potstickers in his books, but good on anything that is not cereal (probably; cereal theory is untested)):

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Recipe: Ignoring themes with dessert (cookies)

12 Jan

Planning on using this cookie recipe for a to-be-determined charity dinner theme this week.

The amounts are scaled for high altitude (7,000 feet above sea level), but translate decently to sea level. The amounts also are slight estimates — because cookie baking is one time you do need to measure, and the one of many times I do not.

White Chocolate Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies:

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Accidental recipe: Char Siu BLT

10 Jan

Given too much time and access to the Internet, my charity dinner themes can tend to get a little inflated.

So back at the beginning of football season, ran a chicken wing contest:

That contest led to a finger-food themed menu, initially intended to include chicken wings and a vegetable item or two. But then we just happened to end up with pork belly. And then we just happened to end up making pulled pork egg rolls, pork dumplings, pork belly confit and pumpkin cheesecake-filled wontons. We were on a vaguely pan-Asian-themed, cholesterol-slicked roll.

And that led to one of our best charity dinner discoveries to date: the Char Siu BLT.

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Here’s the idea

9 Jan

About a year ago, we heard a news story that sounded like something we could do. In small, journalist- and intern-occupied apartments in Washington, D.C., friends were getting together for a dinner club with a cause. Each week, they’d choose a place to have dinner, choose a theme, and cook up a tasty mess of food. And each week, they’d throw a few dollars into a pot. After a few months, the money in the pot went to a local charity.

In Steamboat Springs, Colo., we’ve been happily stealing that idea since winter 2010.

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