Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

It’s finally feeling like winter now, in nearly mid-February, a few weeks after Mother Nature dropped a mammoth blizzard on my northeast neck of the US woods, which was quickly followed by our temps skyrocketing up the thermometer to quite a bit warm, like in the 50’s, for days and days on end. It was strange – that’s not the usual January weather up here, but whatever. My point is, there wasn’t much excuse for the typical cold weather comfort food we all know and love.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

I mean, if you’re not even running the heat in your house, and you can enjoy the windows being cracked at night, then it’s extremely hard to justify things like beef stew, or meaty lasagna, or cream-based soups. However, it is still winter, despite what the thermometer might say, so a light crisp salad really wasn’t in order either.

Fish cakes are, I think, the perfect compromise. These are light enough that they don’t induce any guilt twinges, but a hearty tomato sauce and a soft, rich texture does serve to remind you that it ain’t the middle of the summer.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

These are some of the better fish cakes I’ve had. We love crab cakes around here, but fish cakes make fewer appearances. That might have to change! The texture on these babies was so unbelievably perfect. Soft, rich, with just the right amount of chew. Also, they were SO easy to work with. Not too sticky, not too dry, they packed together properly… oh, and they reheat well too, as an added plus! Enjoy!

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

Source: Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients:

CAKES:
3 slices stale white bread, crumbled or blitzed in a food processor to make bread crumbs
1 1/3 lb. cod, skin and pin bones removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbs ground cumin
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
4 tbs olive oil

SAUCE:
2 tbs olive oil
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp crushed red chile flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp sugar
2 tbs mint leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
First, make the CAKES: chop the fish very finely and place in a large mixing bowl along with the bread crumbs and the remaining cod cake ingredients except for the olive oil. Mix together well, then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes about ¾-inch thick and 3 ¼ inches in diameter. You’ll have 8 cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
While the cakes are refrigerating, make the SAUCE: heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or frying pan for which you have a lid. Add the spices and onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is completely soft. Add the wine and simmer 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chile flakes, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Simmer about 15 minutes, until pretty thick. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
Remove the cakes from the refrigerator. Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once very hot, add half the cakes and sear 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with the other half of the oil and the cakes.
Gently place the seared cakes side by side in the tomato sauce. Add just enough water to cover the cakes partially, a scant 1 cup. Cover the pan with its lid and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cakes settle, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the mint and serve warm.

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

Over the past eighteen months or so, I’ve purposefully dropped a bit of excess weight, and I’ve done so not by following a standard program that gets advertised on television, but by making some simple lifestyle changes and adjustments. And I’d say the two biggest changes I made were in my exercise habits (as in, now I actually have exercise habits), and my dessert eating habits. I adore baking and making carb-laden and sweet treats, but I’ve learned to focus on the satisfaction and catharsis that comes from making them and less on eating them. Now, I’m more of a dessert taster than a dessert eater.

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

Until I made this bread pudding… Holy crap, this bread pudding. This is the dessert that made me unabashedly throw out my newfound healthy attitude towards dessert. I feel I exhibited serious restraint, the kind that deserves shiny medals, to not eat the entire pan in one sitting. I wish I was kidding. I only had one serving a day for two days in a row, which is more dessert than I typically eat, but that was simply the best I could do in the willpower department.

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

This is phenomenal, superfluous, amazing dessert right here. This particular sauce is special, boozy, and pairs so beautifully with the coconut in the bread pudding. A Sazerac is a classic New Orleans cocktail made from rye whiskey, Absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters. The cocktail itself is outstanding, one of my favorites, and I’m very happy but not totally surprised that it translates beautifully to a syrupy sauce for bread pudding.

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

I can’t say enough good things here. You must go out and make it, right now!! Enjoy!

Sources: Bread Pudding adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2016; Sazerac Sauce from Louisiana Cookin’

Ingredients:

BREAD PUDDING:
1 loaf stale challah bread, cut into cubes
1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
½ cup granulated sugar
2 (13.4 oz.) cans full-fat coconut milk, shaken
2 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp salt

SAZERAC SAUCE:
1 cup water
½ cup rye whiskey
3 tbs absinthe
2 drops Peychaud’s bitters
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp fresh peeled orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
To make the BREAD PUDDING: grease a 9×13” baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the bread cubes and shredded coconut until well combined. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Wipe out the bowl, then add the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, coconut milk, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to thoroughly combine, then evenly pour this mixture over the bread. Use your hands to press down on the bread to submerge it. Line it with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 F and set a rack in the center of the oven. Bring a kettle of water to a boil, then remove from the heat. Remove the plastic wrap from the bread pudding and place the baking dish in a larger baking dish or large roasting pan. Put the baking dish on the oven rack, then carefully pour enough hot water into the larger baking dish to come up about halfway up the sides of the baking dish with the bread pudding.
Bake until the center of the bread pudding springs back when gently pressed with a finger and knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the water bath for 15 minutes, then carefully lift the baking dish out of the water bath. Transfer it to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with the Sazerac Sauce liberally drizzled over.
While the bread pudding is baking, make the SAZERAC SAUCE: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water, whiskey, absinthe, and bitters. Add sugar, whisking to combine. Add zest, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to cook until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla, then cool completely before using. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Gratin

Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Gratin

If I were a New-Year’s-Resolutions-making kind of girl, then one of mine for 2016 would be: learn to like cauliflower. Even as my palate has matured over the years, cauliflower and I could never quite be friends. I’ve always found this particular vegetable somewhat off-putting, with both a perceived bland flavor and a weird texture.

Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Gratin

So. What do you do to a food you don’t love? Smother it in cheese. Oh yeah. Then bake it in the oven until that cheese is browned and bubbling, and the cauliflower has turned incredibly soft but not mushy.

Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Gratin

I’m happy to say there’s at least one variation of cauliflower that I very much enjoy now! Actually, spoiler alert – I’ve found two ways in which I love it, but that post will come later. For now, we stick to drenching cauliflower in a three-cheese sauce and topping it with more cheese, and while I wouldn’t necessarily describe this as low-carb mac and cheese, it might be the closest thing. I highly recommend! Enjoy!

Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Gratin

Source: slightly adapted from The Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
6 oz. Monterey jack cheese, grated
8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled, divided
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided, plus extra for garnish
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets, each floret cut into 2 or 3 pieces
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a 10-inch baking dish or cast-iron skillet.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium heavy saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Don’t let the mixture brown. Slowly whisk in the milk. Raise the heat to high and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Monterey jack cheese, half of the goat cheese, and half of the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the cauliflower to a large mixing bowl, then pour over the cheese sauce. Stir well to combine. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking pan or skillet, then sprinkle the remaining goat cheese and Parmesan evenly over the top. You can also top the casserole with a few more grinds of black pepper if you desire.
Place the skillet or baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, then bake until the cauliflower is tender and the top is bubbly and browned, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley and extra Parmesan, if desired.

Duck Chorizo Tacos with Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Duck Chorizo Tacos with Brussels Sprouts Slaw

I made my first batch of homemade fresh chorizo about three years ago, and I haven’t looked back once. The homemade is infinitely superior to the store-bought taste-wise, and no scary-sounding, unpronounceable ingredients either. Chorizo is almost exclusively made from pork shoulder (or so I thought!), and that cut is fatty enough that you don’t really need to hunt down fatback. Although you can, and it’s fantastic that way too!

Duck Chorizo Tacos with Brussels Sprouts Slaw

But, like I said, I had always thought pork had the market cornered on chorizo, only to find out I was happily mistaken – duck chorizo is a thing! So when Fresh Direct sent me a duck breast that was misshapen and didn’t look all that great for searing and slicing, I decided to run it through the meat grinder and try my hand at some duck chorizo.

Duck Chorizo Tacos with Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Wow. Yeah. It’s phenomenal! I opted for tacos, and I wanted to keep the tacos themselves on the simple side to really showcase the chorizo. So I’d been thinking a cabbage slaw, but saw these giant Brussels sprouts at the market and since Brussels sprouts are little cabbages, I decided to try it.

Duck Chorizo Tacos with Brussels Sprouts Slaw

As duck chorizo is and very well should be a thing, so should Brussels sprouts slaw. It was really fantastic! A tad more flavor than regular green cabbage, but it definitely didn’t overpower the duck flavor. This is definitely a repeat-worthy meal here. Enjoy!

Duck Chorizo Tacos with Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Source: Duck Chorizo is from Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook by Harold Dieterle; the rest is from yours truly

Ingredients:

CHORIZO:
1 lb. ground duck, doesn’t matter what cut just make sure the skin and fat is ground along with the meat
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs sweet paprika
4 tsp chili powder
2 tbs ground fennel
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tbs sherry vinegar
Kosher salt

SLAW:
4 giant Brussels sprouts or their equivalent, trimmed, halved, and very thinly sliced across
Juice of half a lime
Kosher salt and black pepper
Slight drizzle of olive oil

8 corn tortillas, warmed
Minced cilantro, for garnish
Crumbled Cotija cheese, for garnish

Directions:
To make the CHORIZO, place the duck, garlic, paprika, chili powder, fennel, oregano, sherry vinegar, and kosher salt to taste in a large bowl. Stir to incorporate, then refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
Right before you’re ready to cook the chorizo, make the SLAW. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts to a mixing bowl and add the lime juice, plus salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside until serving.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a slight drizzle of olive oil (the duck has plenty of fat!) and once it’s hot, add the duck. Cook, crumbling with a spoon and stirring, until the duck is cooked through. Let cool just slightly before assembling the tacos.
To assemble the tacos, fill a warmed tortilla with the duck chorizo, then top with slaw and garnish as you like it – I kept mine simple with a little minced cilantro and crumbled Cotija cheese. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

So apparently it was National Chocolate Cake Day this past week?? Is that right? I cannot and don’t even try to keep up with all these arbitrary food holidays. And, I personally don’t think chocolate cake needs any reason whatsoever, actually…

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

I picked up one of America’s Test Kitchen compilation magazines last summer and was delighted to find this gem in there. I’d actually been hunting down such a recipe for purely nostalgic reasons. One of the BEST things my mom made while we were kids was this amazing chocolate bundt cake. It had sour cream in it, plus chocolate chips, and it was always made from a boxed cake mix and a boxed pudding mix. I’ve always wanted to make it from scratch, but could never find a recipe that exactly matched its intense chocolate flavor and fudgy texture.

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Until now, that is! I mean, I should’ve looked to ATK first. Lesson learned…

This was everything I fondly remember about that childhood cake, made from scratch. I grinned stupidly with every bite. This will forever be my go-to chocolate bundt cake. I’m officially done looking. And whether chocolate bundt cake is nostalgic to you or not, I highly, highly recommend that you start baking this one and make it a nostalgic part of your life. It’s SO good.

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Special Collector’s Edition Best Ingredients Recipes, 2015

Ingredients:
1 tbs plus ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
1 tbs unsalted butter, melted
12 tbs unsalted butter, softened
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp instant espresso powder
¾ cup boiling water
1 cup sour cream
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
5 large eggs
12 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Mix 1 tbs cocoa powder and the melted butter into paste. Using a pastry brush, thoroughly coat the interior of a standard Bundt pan. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat your oven to 350 F.
Combine the chocolate, espresso powder, and remaining ¾ cup cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate mixture and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture gently until smooth. Let cool completely, then whisk in the sour cream. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a separate bowl.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the softened butter, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined.
Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating the chocolate-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the chocolate chips, and give the batter a final quick stir by hand to incorporate the chips.
Transfer the batter to the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan once halfway through baking. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 3 hours.

Emeril’s Chicken and Andouille Gumbo #SundaySupper

Emeril's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Welcome to Sunday Supper! Our theme this week is Big Game Day Party Recipes! Thanks to trademark infringement laws, we cannot specifically tell you which football game we speak of, but I’ll give you a hint: it will air February 7th, and it features the Carolina Panthers playing (and hopefully beating) the Denver Broncos. And we all know food is very important for this particular game, so today we’re here to give you tons of ideas for what to serve or bring to your party.

Emeril's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

I read once that while the rest of the US serves chili on this particular once-a-year Sunday evening, the fine people of New Orleans serve gumbo instead. I purposefully did not do any further research to confirm the veracity of this claim, because eating gumbo while watching the culmination of the NFL season sounded absolutely fantastic to me. If I’m wrong, I don’t want to know.

Emeril's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

I decided that a heartier gumbo with chicken and sausage, rather than seafood, fit the occasion a little better. I went looking for a perfect recipe and chose Emeril’s. To say it did not disappoint would be a gross understatement. This is some of the best gumbo I’ve EVER tasted.

Emeril's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

So, the bad news about this recipe is that it’s quite involved and takes forever to make. But, the good news is that it tastes far better the day after you make it. This one is perfect to make the day before, put it up overnight, and then when your guests are arriving, you just heat it up and steam some rice. This is actually an ideal thing to serve if you want to enjoy your own party.

Emeril's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

I can’t recommend it highly enough, for this particular occasion of which we vaguely speak, or for a wonderful weekend project. It’s so awesome. Go Panthers!!! And be sure to check out the wonderful game day treats from the rest of the Sunday Supper crew!

Source: Essential Emeril by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:

Stock and Chicken:
1 (4-5 lb.) chicken, cut into parts if desired
2 quarts store-bought chicken stock
2 quarts water
2 medium onions, quartered
2 carrots, rough chopped
2 ribs celery, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
5-6 fresh parsley stems
2 bay leaves
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Gumbo:
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 medium onions, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 tbs minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ tsp cayenne pepper, plus more to taste if desired
1 ½ lbs. andouille sausage, cut into 1/3-inch thick rounds
1 ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
¾ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, divided
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Cooked white rice, for serving
Louisiana hot sauce, for serving

Directions:
First you will need to make the stock and cook the chicken (which happens simultaneously). Place the chicken (or chicken parts) in a large stockpot and cover it with the stock and water. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour. At this point, the chicken should easily pull away from the bones.
Using tongs, remove the chicken from the stock and set aside until cool enough to handle. Strain the cooking liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Discard the vegetables. Pull the chicken meat off the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Shred and reserve the meat. Refrigerate until needed.
Once the stock has cooled, start the rest of the gumbo. First you need to make the roux. Place a Dutch oven on the stovetop but don’t turn on the heat yet. Add the canola oil and flour to the pot and whisk vigorously until there are no lumps. Turn the heat on medium-high, stirring with a wooden spoon. Once the roux bubbles and starts to turn color, lower the heat to medium or medium-low. You’ll keep the heat between medium and medium-low the rest of the time you’re making the roux. Keep stirring continuously, adjusting the heat as necessary. If the roux is doing absolutely nothing color-wise, turn it up to medium, and if it’s bubbling or threatening to scorch, turn it down to medium-low. Do not burn the roux – that’s why you never move the heat higher than medium, ever. Keep stirring until the roux is the color of dark peanut butter, or light milk chocolate. This will take about an hour.
Once the roux is ready, turn or keep the heat to medium and immediately add the onions, celery, garlic, bell pepper, cayenne, and sausage. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved cooled broth to the mixture (if you have a touch of grit you can leave off the last cup of broth with no problems). Also add the salt, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer, skimming off any excess foam or fat that comes to the top, until the sauce is flavorful and thickened to your desired consistency, about 2 hours.
Now add the chicken, most of the sliced scallions (save enough for garnish), and parsley. Stir it in and continue simmering for 30 minutes. Don’t stir much here or the chicken may fall apart on you. Adjust the thickness if necessary, by adding water or more broth. Taste and adjust the cayenne and salt if necessary.
Serve the gumbo in bowls topped with a good scoop of white rice and garnish with the reserved scallions. Pass the Louisiana hot sauce at the table.

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PB&J Pie

PB&J Pie

Sometimes outstanding things come out of your kitchen as a result of poor planning and pure practicality. Such was this amazing pie. It was just after Christmas, our company was gone and the tree was taken down. I took stock of the pantry and fridge, and realized that, as usual, I’d bought too much for hosting.

PB&J Pie

I had tons of excess saltine crackers from a dip we’d enjoyed; plus, I had bought peanut butter anticipating someone possibly wanting a sandwich, only to realize that we already had peanut butter. I also had 6 ounces of cream cheese left over from making this pimento cheese spread, and had no clue what on earth to do with that. Then, on Christmas morning, I received some homemade blueberry jam from my mother-in-law, which I was excited to taste.

PB&J Pie

Thus, this pie came to be, a result of combining all those excess ingredients, plus letting me use that jam. There’s a good amount of saltines in the crust, peanut butter plus exactly 6 ounces of cream cheese in the filling (exciting!!), and jelly or jam on top. Beautiful! And delicious! Enjoy.

PB&J Pie

Source: First Prize Pies by Allison Kave

Ingredients:

CRUST:
30-35 Saltine crackers
6-8 tbs unsalted butter, melted

FILLING:
¾ cup heavy cream
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
Pinch of salt, if your peanut butter is unsalted
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

TOPPING:
1 cup jam or jelly, any flavor you like (I had blueberry)
½ cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:
To make the CRUST: Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grind the crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Pour in the melted butter and mix to combine. The texture should resemble wet sand.
Firmly press the cracker mixture into the bottom of a greased 9” pie plate. Chill the crust in the freezer or fridge for 10 minutes. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then let cool completely.
Make the FILLING: whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Using a hand mixer with clean beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar, starting on low speed and increasing the speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the whipped cream to the mixture and mix again until just combined.
Put the cooled pie crust on a baking sheet. Spread the peanut butter filling into the crust. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow it to set up.
Make the TOPPING: heat the jam in a small saucepan over high heat until it just starts to boil. Let it cool slightly, then pour it over the peanut butter filling. Return it to the fridge to set up and chill. Before serving, garnish the top evenly with the peanuts. Serve cold for best results.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

Pork and Whiskey Chili

I’ve done quite a bit of cooking since 2016 began, with well, mixed results. I’ve learned valuable lessons though, like if you’re going to put baby back ribs in the slow cooker, the membrane MUST stay attached; otherwise they completely fall apart on you. I’ve also learned that kumquats have a very mild flavor when slow roasted, and probably weren’t worth the trouble as they only lent a slight citrusy background note that likely could have been achieved with some basic orange zest. (I might try that pork dish again with that change, because it was otherwise quite tasty.) Anyways.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

This chili was, thankfully, superb. Despite my pickiness about chili texture, I do enjoy shaking up the flavors from time to time. Sure, I’ll always be loyal to a Texas bowl o’ red, but I don’t feel guilty for occasionally stepping out on it. Pork in chili is delicious. It just is.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

This chili features pork in three ways, with bacon, Italian sausage, and ground pork shoulder. Despite the Italian sausage, this chili’s flavor profile is definitely Tex-Mex. The Italian-ness of the sausage doesn’t distract, it just provides an interesting note to wake up your tastes buds a little. Seeing as we just sat through a blizzard, I’m wishing the leftovers weren’t already gone… Enjoy!

Pork and Whiskey Chili

Source: adapted a little bit from The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh

Ingredients:
1 tbs unsalted butter
3 thick-cut strips bacon, chopped
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from its casings
1 lb. ground pork
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 cups water
1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
¼ cup whiskey or bourbon
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs paprika
1-2 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbs masa harina
Garnishes of your choice (sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, scallions, pickled jalapenos, chopped onion…)

Directions:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisped and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the sausage to the bacon drippings by pinching off little free-form meatballs. This will give your chili some texture later. Stir the sausage chunks until browned all over, then move all the sausage to one side of the pot. Add the pork and cook, breaking it up with a spoon or potato masher, until no traces of pink remain. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now add the water, tomatoes, whiskey, brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well to mix and increase the heat to a simmer. Cook the chili at least 1 hour or more, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching. Adjust the heat up or down as necessary to keep a simmer going.
Add the masa harina and stir to thicken. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Once the chili is to your desired thickness, serve with the garnishes of your choice.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

One of my favorite pies on this planet is Key Lime Pie, but over the weekend, I was harshly reminded of why I rarely ever make one. I once again completely see why so many published recipes for this pie advocate for using regular limes with a vehement lack of apology. Key limes are a real pain in the butt.

Key Lime Pie

This recipe needs ¾ cup of key lime juice, and at first I decided I would be Rambo or something and just juice all those limes with a handheld reamer. One of those teeny limes slipped out of my fingers as I was squeezing it, flew across the kitchen and knocked over the measuring up of almost ¼ cup of already-juiced lime juice. I was not impressed.

Key limes

So I busted out the stand mixer juicer attachment, and things went much more smoothly from that point. I eventually got my juice and baked the pie. One bite in, and I was reminded of why I went to all this hassle. So. Incredibly. Worth it.

Key Lime Pie

Sweet and tart, with a perfect custard texture and the slight crunch of the graham cracker crust, this pie is just perfect in my book. This particular recipe is a classic version, but expertly done. It turned out, well, perfect. Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie

Source: slightly adapted from First Prize Pies by Allison Kave

Ingredients:
1 ½ – 2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
6-8 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup Key lime juice
4 large egg yolks
Zest of 3 Key limes
¼ tsp salt
Whipped cream, for topping (optional)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Grease a 9” pie plate, then pat the graham cracker crumb mixture into the pie plate and up the sides. Chill the crust for 15 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes, then allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, lime juice, yolks, lime zest, and salt until fully blended.
Place the pie crust on a baking sheet. Pour the filling into the crust and bake 30-40 minutes, until the filling has just set and the custard is smooth and not browned. Remove the pie to a wire rack to cool at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before refrigerating. Serve sliced topped with whipped cream, if desired.

Meyer Lemon French 75

Meyer Lemon French 75

Why is the first week back to work after the holidays always so sluggish and difficult? Every year, it’s the same. I have trouble waking up in the morning, I’m bushed every night for no apparent reason, my workouts feel terrible, and my mood is… out of sorts, to put it politely. Then that first weekend comes, and everything is okay again. I don’t know…

Winter citrus has arrived, and I said that this year I wasn’t going to go crazy trying to make as many recipes as possible, and thought maybe I’d skip it altogether, but I’ve already used Meyer lemons, key limes and kumquats, plus some blood oranges sit on my counter patiently awaiting their fate, so there goes that, I guess.

Meyer Lemon French 75

No matter! This drink is certainly worth sharing. A French 75 is a classic New Orleans libation, supposedly named after French military artillery (???), and while it sounds fancy, it’s actually a very simple drink made of simple syrup, lemon juice, and either gin or cognac, then topped off with Champagne or sparkling wine.

Meyer Lemon French 75

Today we make it more seasonal with Meyer lemons, but regular lemon juice would obviously do just fine. Meyer lemons have an almost bitter yet sweet quality to them that I thought played well off the strong gin. This drink certainly sounds and even looks a bit fancy, so I say bust it out for an appropriate occasion! Enjoy!

Meyer Lemon French 75

Source: Down South by Donald Link

Ingredients:
1 oz. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
1 ½ oz. gin
Champagne or sparkling wine
Twist of Meyer lemon peel

Directions:
Combine the Meyer lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin in a cocktail shaker with a scoop of ice. Cover and shake vigorously. Pour the strained drink into a champagne flute or coupe glass. Top off with Champagne and garnish with the lemon peel.
Makes 1 drink as written.