EATSouth's 2014 Organic Gardening Workshops

EATSouth Organic Gardening Workshops

Quick Tip: How to Peel an Entire Head of Garlic in Less than 10 seconds.

I haven’t posted in forever, which seems to be more of the norm around here than my making a daily, weekly or even monthly post. Life happens, yo!

Anyway, I hit up Pinterest for the first time in months as well today and I came across this little gem. We all know how to take a single clove and smash it with you knife, but how about an ENTIRE HEAD in less time than it takes to peel the stupid paper off your fingers?!

Check this tutorial out from Saveur.com.

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds from SAVEUR.com on Vimeo.

New Orleans Oyster Fest

New Orleans Oyster Fest So this weekend I’m heading down with the parental units to New Orleans for Oyster Fest. It is relatively new and one of their lesser known “fests”, but I’m excited about it.

I haven’t been to NOLA since Mardi Gras 2004 and let’s just say that trip was one that took me 9 years to recover from. Mardi Gras is something everyone should do once…the operative word being “once”.

This post is really a preamble to the big post i’m planning on making upon my return. I’ll post lots of pictures of the food and atmosphere that make New Orleans New Orleans.

I have to admit I have a real love/hate relationship with NOLA. I feel like I’m supposed to like it, but almost every time I go is a royal clusterfuck. I’m hoping this is one of the few times that isn’t. But my travel details have very little wiggle room and do not involve a youth hostel this time. Ew. Thank God.

There is one place that I’d really like to go, but it’s way too far from where we are staying at where the festival will be. But in case you’re wondering, this is it.
If anyone’s been there, let me know if it as wonderful as I’ve heard.

Can’t wait!

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Chinese Grocery Roast Pork

Chinese Grocery Roast Pork

Preface: This is one of those recipes that normally doesn’t make it into an actual post. But I figured I’d done the leg work, so why not post it and show everyone that i’m not infallible. I can cook poorly sometimes!

See, I was all set to do this wonderful long post about this awesome pork tenderloin recipe I had cooked from one of my mom’s cookbooks (Screen Doors and Sweet Tea) and then I tasted it…It is probably the saltiest thing I’ve ever cooked and I haven’t the faintest idea why it came out that why. I followed the recipe exactly…well not exactly.

Upon closer inspection, I did two things that may be been the culprits in this culinary murder. I realized that it may have been because instead of using a 3 lb roast, I used a pork tenderloin which was probably shy of 2 lbs. AND I used normal soy sauce instead of dark soy sauce.

Wow. I really screwed this one up. Looks like i’ll be making this THE RIGHT WAY in another post and see how it goes.

On the upside, the flavor of the pork is good, so I’m not totally giving up on this recipe, but some definite alterations needs to be made. I think trying a real dark soy sauce and with the right size roast for starters. Apparently, dark soy sauce us made sweet with the addition of bead molasses to the normal ingredients. So yeah…duh. Also if anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

All that aside, here is the recipe and the pics I so painstakingly took.

Chinese Grocery Roast Pork

INGREDIENTS:
3lb. picnic shoulder or Boston butt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup dark soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 rice vinegar, preferably red
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 star anise
2 inch cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp Chinese Five Spice

INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat oven to 325°F

In a large Dutch oven or roasting pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.

Add soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, honey brown sugar, hoisin, star anise, cinnamon and Chinese Five Spice. Simmer for 1 minute.

Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat under the pan so that the mixture simmers.

Loosen the skin from the meat in several places, but do not remove it. Place the meat in the liquid, turning it several times to cost it with the sauce. Transfer the pan to the oven.

Cook for 30 minutes undisturbed, then baste with the cooking liquid and continue to baste every 20 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat is 185°F (about 4 – 4.5 hours)

Move the pork to the cutting board or serving platter and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice thinly and pour pan juices over the meat (after removing the star anise and cinnamon stick)

I tried presenting it in a few different ways because it looked so amazing… The one in the middle has a spinach cole slaw I was experimenting with. It needs tweaking…  I also shredded it instead of slicing it. I was shredding so nicely that I just couldn’t see serving it any other way.  Also I liked the Asian spin on a pulled pork sandwich!

chinese-grocery-pork

Apple Flavor Spectrum

I found this on Facebook this morning and thought it was really interesting. I’ve never seen so many varieties compared and so I thought it might be helpful!

Apple Flavor Spectrum

Apple-Stuffed Thick Cut Pork Chops

I made this recipe for the first time about a month ago and it was so freaking good! So I had some pork chops thawing out the other day and thought I would appease my friend, Beth, and do a post about it. I still owe her a post on how to sear stuff. Oddly enough though, I just realized you’ve got to sear the pork chops before baking them in the oven. So I guess this could work as a time to try out those searing skills.

Before we get to that though, we need to make our stuffing and put wonderful little pockets for said stuffing to go in! Let’s do the stuffing first.

First off, breadcrumbs! I use the same bread I use for my sandwiches, just normal wheat bread. Cut three slices into 1/2 inch cubes and put them in a medium-sized bowl. To the bowl, add two cups of chopped apples. I used Grannie Smith, but you could use any kind. Next toss in a handful of chopped celery, which can be optional. I never seem to have any on hand when I decide to make this recipe, so I have to be honest… I’ve never put it in, but it makes sense. So if you want to use it, use it. If you don’t, dont.

Add handful of chopped fresh parsley and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the bowl. Don’t mix it yet because we still need to add the sautéed onions and butter.

sautéed onions

Melt a 1/4 cup of butter (or margarine) in a hot pan and then add a tablespoon (or more) of chopped onions. I am always surprised at that measurement, so I’ll usually just toss in a handful. If you like more, add more.

Saute the onions until translucent and soft then remove from heat and dump them into the bowl with all the stuffing stuff.

apple stuffing

Toss this well making sure the butter gets evenly distributed. Now that the stuffing is made, we can move on to making pockets in those pork chops.

Lay the pork chop on a cutting board, place one hand on top of the pork chop and using a sharp knife cut into the short side. Slide the knife in until you’ve sliced approximate 2/3 of the way through to the other side. Slowly work the knife horizontally down the pork chop until about half an inch from the end. You should end up with something like this.

pork chop

A lot of times, I won’t cut the pocket deep enough. Just use the knife to cut further into the chop.

apple stuffed pork chops

Next, stuff the stuffing into the pork chop. This part can be messy and yes, stuffing will fall out of everywhere. It take a certain amount of finesse to stuff them well, so take your time. I also thought tying them with kitchen string might work, but then I thought it might not because of the searing. I might try it next time. Don’t get rid of the extra stuffing! We’ll put it on top of everything before sticking it in the oven.

browning apple stuffed pork chops

Chop stuffed! Moving on to the next step. Heat up the pan you used for the onions again. You’ll want it good and hot, but don’t want the leftover butter to burn. Once the pan is hot, add a little oil if necessary and then place the chops into the pan.

Sear them for about 3-4 minutes on each side and then place into an ungreased baked dish.

apple stuffed pork chops

Now you can dump the extra stuffing over the pork chops. Cover the whole thing with foil and put into a 350° oven for 30 minutes.

apple stuffed pork chops

This is what it looks like at the half way point. So yummy! Uncover the dish and stick them back in the oven for another 15-30 minutes. This last bit really depends on how much you seared them. I only had them in for an additional 15-20 minutes. Just check on them and if you need to cut one open (do it – I do even though I know some people would consider it a mortal sin).

Once they are done, take them out of the oven and let them rest for about 5 minutes.

Then serve ’em up! These things are so ridiculously good and so simple! You will add these to your dinner rotation in no time! Enjoy!

apple stuffed pork chops

___________________________________________________________________

Apple-Stuffed Pork Chops

INGREDIENTS:
1 Tbsp chopped onion
¼ cup butter
3 cups soft bread cubes
2 cups finely chopped apples
¼ cup finely chopped celery
2 tsp minced fresh parsley
¾ tsp salt, divided
6 thick-cut pork loin
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a small skillet, sauté onion in butter until tender.

Remove from the heat; add the bread cubes, apples, celery, parsley and ¼ tsp salt.

Cut a pocket in each chop by making a horizontal cut through the meat.

Sprinkle inside and outside with pepper and remaining salt.

Spoon stuffing loosely into pockets.

Tie loosely with twine

In a large skillet, brown the chops on both sides in oil. Place in an ungreased large baking pan.

Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Uncover; bake 30 minutes longer or until a thermometer reads 145°.

Let meat stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Eat Watch Settle

The TasteBelow is a link to a great, albeit long, article on the evolution of Food TV and those chefs who have decided to bow to the TV devil. It did help me to understand why The Layover is ending so soon after No Reservations. Looks like Mr. Bourdain is moving onto… *shudder* …network television with his latest venture, ABC’s The Taste.

I used to be an avid Anthony Bourdain admirer, having made more than one post on Facebook in regards to his attractiveness, but after watching him completely crap all over my favorite BBQ joint, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in one of his latest episodes of The Layover, my love affair has all but died. And now with his new show, I can’t help but feel like he’s sold out. Seems a little late in my book especially since his whole schtick is being “real” and not taking any shit…

Whatever, dude… A brother’s gotta get paid, I guess.

Eat Bray Love: The corruption of Anthony Bourdain, the return of Emeril Lagasse, and the state of food television

Tuesday Funny

Korean Dumplings (aka: Mandu)

I haven’t the foggiest idea why I wanted to make my own dumplings, but on Saturday evening I did.  And I have to admit, I was really impressed with how amazing they came out!

Finding the supplies wasn’t challenging, but it did have a little legwork to it.  The great thing about living in Montgomery is that there is a great Korean community here because of the Hyundai plant just south of town.  This made finding the more unusual ingredients pretty simple.

Let’s get started, shall we?

First measure out a cup of ground pork and two cups of ground beef and place them in the biggest bowl you can find.

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Add a tsp of salt, a Tbsp of sesame oil,  and ½ tsp of ground pepper.  Mix this and the meat together well and push it over to one side of the bowl.

Next, wash your Asian chives, making sure to dry them off well.

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Chop up 2 cups, add a Tbsp of canola or vegetable oil then mix.  The oil coats the veggies and helps them to retain their moisture.

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Add the chives to the big bowl next the to ground meat mixture.

Chop up a handful of shiitake mushrooms and half an onion. Put them into a small bowl and add a tsp of soy sauce, a tsp of sugar, and 2 tsp of sesame oil.

Mix everything together by hand and transfer it to the big bowl.

Now open up the tofu. I use extra firm because I feel like tofu is so soft as it is, but this is person preference. So use whichever your prefer. After opening the tofu and slicing it in half, place it into a cotton dish towel or several layers of paper towels. Gather the cloth at the top and twist to squeeze out as much of the water as possible and then put it into a small bowl with a pinch of salt and a tsp of sesame oil. Mix it by hand and then put it next to chopped chives in the big bowl.

Tada!  Does it look so pretty already?! Just add 3 cloves of minced garlic to the big bowl and get messy because now we’re mixing all ingredients by hand to create our dumpling filling.

Now I have to admit after I mixed everything by hand, I tossed it into the food processor (in batches) because I’m not a huge big, ole’ chunk of onion fan.  But that is completely up to you! If you like large chunks of veggies then you’re ready to start filling your dumpling wrappers, but if you’re more like me… put it into the food processor in manageable amounts and pulse it until its a consistency of your liking.   I don’t have a picture of that because, to be honest, it looked a little gross…

Onto the wrapping!  You want to make sure you buy the right kind of dumpling wrappers and not spring roll or rice paper wrappers.  They are WAY TOO thin for this.  I had to go to a couple of different stores and then finally found them at a small Korean market in their freezer section.
Look for eggroll wrappers or mandu skins.

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Take a wrapper and place it in the palm of your hand.  Using a soup spoon, put a scoop of filling into the wrapper like so…

Yes, I am aware this dumpling isn’t in my hand, but it’s kinda hard to take photos and make dumplings.  This is also the reason there aren’t any shots of me actually wrapping up the dumplings.  I guess I need a kitchen assistant or something.  BUT there are plenty of videos online that demonstrate the various wrapping techniques, but I thought this would be a good example, because it’s simple and short!  How to Wrap a Dumpling.  Be prepared to make a bunch of these!  I took the big bowl of filling, wrappers, little dish of water and a plastic-wrap lined cookie sheet into the den and watched “The Vicar of Dibley” while wrapping.

Now I’m pretty much a book-definition WASP, therefore this was the first time I’d ever attempted to make korean dumplings and let’s just say my wrapping skills need work.  The “pea pod” fold is a lot harder than it looks… as you will see in the pictures below.  They aren’t the most attractive looking dumplings in the history of mankind, but shit happens!  This particular shape of dumpling is good for steaming and pan- or deep-frying.

pea pod dumplings

This tray of dumplings went straight into the freezer…which reminds me, I need to take them out.  I’m going to chuck the lot of them into a Food Saver bag and vacuum pack them for later use.

The second shape of dumpling I did is the “big hug”, as the lady in the video calls it.  They are super easy.  Just remember to put water on the edge of the wrapper when you want two parts to stick together and you’ll find that these are easy to do!  These guys are great for poaching, steaming or boiling.

big hug dumplings

I have to admit, I was really proud of myself when I looked at them because they didn’t look bad!  In fact, I think they are pretty cute.  The big hugs are also traditionally used in making dumpling soup too.  I just realized that they kind of look like big tortellini. :)

All the dumplings have been sufficiently stuffed and wrapped so let’s start cookin’ these bad boys!  I chose to boil mine.  I would have steamed them, but alas, I have no steamer.  I know, I’m a horrible person…  Moving on…

Bring a pot of water to a good rolling boil and drop a few in, making sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot or each other.  I recommend doing them in small batches.  Once the dumpling floats to the top, it’s done!  It’s that simple!

boiling dumplings

I removed them from the pot with a slotted spoon and put them on a plate with a ramekin of dumpling sauce that I bought while at the Korean market.  You don’t have to get this particular brand whatever it is…*shrugs*  If you can’t find a “dumpling sauce” look for “Gyoza” sauce.  It’s a Chinese dumpling dipping sauce and it’s awesome too.

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Dumplings boiled – check!  Dipping Sauce – check!  Time to chow down!  These little guys were more labor-intensive than a lot of things and yes you could just go buy some gross, highly-processed frozen dumplings, but what the hell would you?!  Gross.  Go to the store(s), buy some fresh ingredients and make your own, damnit!  You know exactly what is going into these little dudes and you know they are fresh!  Ever since I’ve started cooking more and more and growing a lot of my own produce, I get the heebee-geebeeies when I look at a lot of the stuff at the grocery store.  *steps off soapbox*

I have to admit that considering how easy they were to make (which they were!) and how amazingly good they tasted, I’ll definitely be making these many more times.  I want to try making them with shrimp!

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INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of ground pork
2 cups of ground beef
2 cups of chopped Asian chives
Shiitake mushrooms
half onion
half package of tofu
3 cloves of minced garlic
salt
sugar
sesame oil
vegetable oil
mandu skins

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place 1 cup of ground pork and 2 cups of ground beef into a big bowl.

Add 1 tsp of salt, 1 Tbsp of sesame oil, ½ tsp of ground pepper and mix it by hand and push the mixture of meat on the side of the bowl.

Wash Asian chives, and dry well. Chop 2 cups of chives. Add 1 Tbsp of oil and mix it up. Place it in the big bowl next to the ground meat.

Chop a handful of shiitake mushrooms and half an onion. Put them into a small bowl.

Add 1 tsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of sugar, and 2 tsp of sesame oil to the small bowl. Mix by hand and transfer it to the big bowl.

Squeeze a half package of tofu with a cotton cloth or paper towel and put it into a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tsp of sesame oil. Mix it by hand and then put it next to chopped chives.

In the big bowl, add 3 cloves of minced garlic and mix all ingredients by hand.

Put some of the filling mixture into the center of a mandu skin.

Use your fingertips to apply a little cold water to one edge of the skin. This will act as a sealant when you fold it over.

Fold skin in half over filling and press edges together to make ripple shape.  Find out  How to Wrap a Dumpling.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and place a small batch of dumplings into the water.

Once the dumplings float to the top, remove them and start a new batch.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce.