Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simple Sweet Rosemary Rubbed Pork

(so simple, it only needs one photograph)

Laura: an epic introduction Part 2.

Taste (like everything in a post-modern world) is really (really) subjective. When you consume a lot of food media, like Jessica and I, you need a filter to unconsciously sort all those lovely, tasty descriptors. Some words make me immediately salivate: creamy, crisp, browning, garlic-y, smokey, pulled, spice, butter, salty-sweet, braised butter and buttery will sell me before my eyes hit the actual ingredient list. Other 'headline' grabbers, well, aren't too exciting. Herbs for instance. Before I tried this Porkchop recipe I never completely bought into the 'few fresh ingredients = life-altering taste'. Usually such recipes demand a specific ingredient, market-fresh, in season, organic, and well expensive or else IT WILL NOT WORK, DON'T EVEN TRY, GO AWAY.

Now, I love the market as much as any other Western-middle-creative-class gal but fuck folks, I need to eat seven days a week. In my 'local area' Sainsbury's is posh (and even then it will run out of such things as lettuce on a regular basis). I rent an ill-equipped shared kitchen in a foreign country with a poor culinary heritage. I do not have proper anything. I need my recipes to work hard and deliver when conditions are not perfect.

(Ok so London may not be Ethiopia, but it took me four hours to find pretzels last weekend - I am only exaggerating a little bit).

Right, where were we? Oh yes. Rosemary Pork. Now you get your rosemary, pork, brown sugar, salt. Mush those things together. Grill. That is the recipe. There. I mean I will write it out with steps and things later on but that's it. Let it marinate overnight for a treat, but if you just got home from work and need something nownownow go for it. This dish is hard to make disappointing.

And the flavours? Simple, delicate and ridiculously ridiculously delicious. The sugar and salt form an addictive briney-sweet crust while the rosemary gives the whole bite a garden-fresh hit of herbs. While this fresh dish is perfect for a summer grill, its lack of truly seasonal ingredients means it brings a little backyard sunshine to the darkest winter days (unlike say, a tomato dish that just reminds you how good life is in July).

Sweet Rosemary Rub Pork
(adapted from thekitchn... I like more of a 'crust' on my chops so I doubled their rub. Feel free to adjust to your taste).

- 4 pork steaks

- 2 teaspoons olive oil for the pan
- 2 tablespoon rosemary
2 tablespoon brown sugar

- 3 teaspoons salt

- 1.5 teaspoon pepper
0.5 teaspoon cumin

Mix herbs/spices in a small separate bowl before rubbing into the pork. Let the pork sit in the rub for as long as you can stand it (overnight if you are organized). If you've left it in the fridge, take the pork out and let it warm up a piece. Cold meat + hot grill will make your dinner curl up and cook unevenly (servicey!).

Grill or cook on a grill-pan for 5 minutes a side, until cooked. Let the pork rest under foil for a few minutes then serve with pan juices or anything else that will give your pork a bit of loving.

A reminder

Alright so I should of posted this in June but, seriously folks, these are what we call Ontario strawberries.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another day, Another Burnt Pizza

Let's quickly refresh the scoreboard here...Pizza - 5, Jess - 0

Today's lesson is: don't do ANYTHING but stand anxiously outside the oven and check your pizzas every thirty seconds while it's under the broiler on the very top rack. It takes a surprisingly short amount of time for them to burn.

Luckily it wasn't the DINNER pizza, but just the "oh let's be clever and make extra pizzas for lunch tomorrow" pizzas. And they were just on pitas as we only had enough dough for the dinner pizza. So it could have been worse. But I'm still not over it.

By the way, the dinner pizza had SPAM on it. And it was delicious! I'm calling it my "true" Hawaiian pizza. Hawaiians love their SPAM. So do Koreans. Yum.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oh, Hello!

My name is Laura and I like to consume food! Jess is totally my BFF. I will be blogging. I live in England. Here I am making offal pies for the Queen's tea! Pip Pip!

Beeb's Brambly Apple Blackberry Crumble

Laura: an epic introduction Part 1.

Hello! I am a messy cook. Jessica (over there, delicately forming sugar cages and perfectly laced peach pies) is worthy of Martha Stewart magazine but alas, I must fully embrace the rustic family-style cooking trend. And yes, during the day I am paid to make things pretty while Jessica is paid for math so I don't know how this happened.

It's not that I don't love a good complex recipe (oh I do! the most!) it's just that after simmering that sauce for four hours I want it in my mouth – damn the presentaion, plate, knives, forks, etc.

Needless to say, the science of baking and I have a complex relationship (leveled cups of flour? ha!). I save 'baking' for a weekend of Julia or Deb role play.

So now then: "Brambley Apple & Blackberry Crumble: when you can't be arsed to make pie."

Pie has its place. I love pie. But there is something about just chucking a bunch of apples, blackberries & topping into a dish then, popping it into the oven for 30 minutes and come out with something so perfect and delicious. Amounts? Times? Ballparks! Simple! Perfect! Delicious! How the fuck did it do that?

Okay so you have to caramelize the apples so the gooey apple-caramel coasts the blackberries. And topping the buttery crumb with clotted cream (whipped, extra thick or creme fraiche will work as well) is required by law. But how else are you going to make the 'best crumble in England'*

To summarize: Pie is great but crumbles are your dirty secret.

*independently validated by a bunch of English people who have eaten more crumble in their lives than you can imagine.

Brambly Apple Blackberry Crumble
(heavily adapted from a BBC recipe, now offline – philistines!)
3 large Bramley apples (use what you can find, tart cooking apples are traditional)
30g/1¼oz butter
150g/5oz caster sugar (or 150g of granulated sugar)
pinch of cinnamon
A squeeze or two of lemon juice (to taste)
80g/3oz fresh blackberries (looks tiny but trust, there is enough)

100g/4oz unsalted butter, diced
220g/8oz plain flour
100g/4oz caster sugar
clotted cream

1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. Peel, core and cut apples into ¼in thick slices (or so they are relatively thin and even)
3. Heat butter in large saucepan. Add apples and gently sauté.
4. Add sugar and cinnamon. Continue stirring until apples are just cooked and the goo is thick and ready to coat the blackberries.
5. Add blackberries & lemon juice and stir very gently until coated with delicious.
6. To make the topping, lightly rub butter into flour and sugar until crumbly.
7. Spoon apples and blackberries into shallow, oval 23cm/9in ovenproof
dish. Sprinkle crumble mixture over top until fruit is covered. I enjoy crumble. I am liberal on this step.
8. Place in oven until light golden brown (usually between 15-40 minutes depending on your oven)
9. Serve with clotted, whipped or heavy cream. Creme fraiche works as well if you like a sour tang... I just wouldn't recommend vanilla ice cream, the flavours clash.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Busy Bee

So it's been a pretty busy summer. Birthdays, weddings and a trip to Chicago has booked up practically every weekend in July and August. Not to say that it hasn't been enjoyable, but I haven't been cooking as much as I'd like. And I'm sorry to say that I haven't baked a single cobbler, pie or cake with my favourite summer fruit: peaches!

I went to the market this past weekend and had a little panic attack that I was missing peach AND corn season (though I believe both are actually in season for another month...I get a little anxious!). That led to me buying a dozen ears of corn (which aren't as light as you'd think), shelling the ears and freezing both the kernels and cobs (for soups). I bought some peaches too. Yum! I still don't have much time for the next few weeks to bake so we'll probably just be enjoying them fresh, but they did remind me of some delicious hand pies that I made last summer when I was baking up a storm while spending a few weeks in Ancaster with my mom.

These may seem a bit intimidating, and are admittedly a bit more work than a traditional pie. But they're so cute, how could you resist? Plus it's pretty much impossible to take pie in to work or social settings without easy access to plates and serving utensils. But hand pies? Hand pies are perfect for the office! Or parties! Or stuffing a plateful into your mouth while telling yourself "they're so small, one more can't possibly make a difference...". Whatever. Make them. Love them.

Peach Hand Pies

adapted from SmittenKitchen
Makes 14 to 24 (depending on cutter size)

1 batch of Pie Dough
1 1/2 lbs peaches, preferably freestone
1/2 lb blueberries
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract

One egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)
Sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

1. Make pie dough; you don't need to divide into discs here but I would divide into two balls for easier handling later. Make sure it's been refrigerated for at least an hour

2. On a lightly floured counter, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter (or a knife if you don't have a biscuit cutter...seriously, I make biscuits enough that I should probably get some of those), cut circles out of the rolled dough until you can't anymore. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and chill in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

3. Blanch the peaches: bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop the peaches in and let them boil for about 2 minutes. Remove from water and dunk in ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, peel and chop the peaches into small pieces, (remember they need to be small enough to fit into small pies!)

4. Make the filling: mix peach bits with bluberries, flour, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla, plus a pinch of salt. Set aside.

5. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for just a few minutes until they're pliable. Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoonfuls of filling onto one half of each circle of dough. Brush a little cold water around the edge and fold it in half so the other side comes down over the filling. Seal the pie, and press down on the edge with a fork. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place the hand pies back onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, and return to the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit, 190 degrees Celsius

6. Remove the chilled hand pies from the fridge, cut a small slit in each and lightly brush with the egg yolk wash. Sprinkle some sugar over the pies, and bake for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and just starting to crack. Remove from oven, and try to let them cool slightly before you taste them.