Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta — Surf & Turf Made Easy!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta
Now let me admit this to you.

Some girls love flowers delivered to their door and some gals love chocolate.

Me?

You’d have my attention with a nice bottle of vino or meat. :)

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

DSC_0047

So when our friends at Farmer John sent over a box of their latest Cheese & Wine Flavor Smoked Sausage, I squealed with joy.

Seriously…squealed.

Not only because I was so excited to try it out but we coincidentally were having our monthly Sunday Family Dinner just a few days after. Complete divine intervention since a part of our menu required for us to bust out our beloved habachi grills.

DSC_0090

It was perfect since our proteins mainly consisted of seafood (calamari, prawns, shellfish, lobster) and sausage was a much welcomed addition.

We sliced a few links up and threw them on the habachi which imparted even more of a smoky flavor. The sausage itself turned out to be a tad on the sweeter side (likely because of the wine) but it paired well with the salty-briny seafood.

So when it came time for me to use the sausage in a dish, I wanted to make sure to balance out the flavors.

Cue in spices, herbs and tomatoes.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

I played around with a few ideas and decided to use the browned sausage with a heavily spiced shrimp in a tomato sauce.

I finished the whole sha-bang with a mountain of fresh herbs and tossed it with linguine — a pasta that can hold up to a hearty sauce.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

It. Was. Delish.

Don’t believe me?

Well…shame on you!

Because it was.

Fo’ reals!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

The entire dish was then showered with a mound of freshly shaven parmesan cheese….and then I paused…..

Because when you make happy things in your kitchen, it deserves a moment of silence…

Followed by a serious dance-it-out session and a swig of chianti…or whatever you’re sipping on.

It’s completely mathematically sound.

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

And yes, all of the flavors balanced out perfectly.

The salty, sweet sausage paired well with the spicy shrimp. The acidic tomato sauce with its aromatics added the much needed punch to the dish. And the cheese—well, the cheese added love.

Obvi.

Much thanks again to our friends at Farmer John - we love ya!

__________________________________________

Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
kosher salt
olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage (I used Farmer John® Wine and Cheese Sausages), sliced
¼ cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed Roma tomatoes
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pound dried linguine
¼ chopped Italian parsley
1 cup parmesan (shaven, grated, etc.)

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a heavy bottom, deep skillet (or pot) to medium. Add the sausage slices and brown on both sides. Toss in the shrimp and cook until they turn pink – approximately 2 minutes. Remove the contents to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook for a minute before adding the garlic. Cook for a minute and stir in red pepper flakes. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to high and pour the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil. Once it comes to temperature, lower the heat to medium-low. Use the wooden spoon to crush and break apart any large pieces of tomatoes. Stir in the thyme and oregano and simmer the sauce, partially covered for 20 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, boil the linguine for approximately 10-12 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

Stir the shrimp and sausage into the simmered tomato sauce. Toss in the cooked linguine, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Plate the pasta and sprinkle each dish with parsley and the freshly shaved parmesan.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Kālua Pig

Kālua Pig

 

It’s ALOHA FRIDAY and what better way to kick off the weekend with some island grindz? And it sure doesn’t get any easier or more ono-licious than Kālua Pig made in a Crock Pot!

 

Sure, you could go traditional and dig an imu in your backyard to channel the Hawaiian spirit. And heck – I would definitely be the first to give you mad props if you did! But as my family have continually denied my pleas to dig a large hole in their yards, I’ve had to settle for conventional methods and use slow cookers.

Kālua Pig

It really is a fool proof method of creating delicious Kālua Pig since you throw everything into the pot and then twiddle your thumbs for the next 10 hours. But the secret is the addition of banana leaves and liquid smoke which truly impart the authentic flavors an imu provides.

I like to serve my Kālua Pig over sticky rice with mac salad or sandwiched in my beloved Kings Hawaiian rolls with a tangy slaw. However you choose to serve it, your loved ones will adore you for channeling the flavors of the islands onto their plates.

Alohas!!!

___________________________________________________

Slow Cooker Kālua Pig

Ingredients:

5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
sea salt (Hawaiian sea salt if possible)
black pepper
3-4 banana leaves
½ small white onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
4-5 dashes liquid smoke
Using paper towels, dry off the pork and generously season with the sea salt and black pepper.

Line the bottom of the slow cooker with banana leaves, setting aside one to top off the pork. Place the seasoned pork shoulder in the cooker and top with the onions, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves. Wrap the remaining banana leaf over the top and cover the slow cooker. Cook the pork on low heat for 10 – 12 hours.*

Once done, carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a platter or large dish. Using two forks, shred the meat into pieces.

Skim and discard the fat and oil from the liquids left in the slow cooker. Pour the liquid over the shredded pork and stir in the liquid smoke. Taste and season with additional sea salt as needed.

Serve over rice or my favorite Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls.

*You can also cook the pork over high heat for about 5-6 hours but I prefer the texture of the low and slow method.

(Isaan) Pork Larb Gai – Thai Minced Pork Salad

Pork Larb Gai

Larb (also often spelled as laap or laab) has been one of my favorite Thai dishes for a long time. It essentially translates to “minced meat salad” and can be made from a variety of different proteins – pork, beef, chicken, fish, duck, etc.

The word larb means “to chop up” in Thai. That’s right folks–authentic larb aficionados use a cleaver to chop/mince their proteins until they reach the perfect consistency. But truthfully, I’m a tad lazy and use pre-ground pork/chicken/turkey.

Andy Ricker, chef and author of Pok Pok does a beautiful job narrating his adventures of Thai cuisine and does an infinitely superior job of explaining the nuances of larb than I ever could. In a nutshell, there are two different schools of larb — the Northern Thai version and Northeastern Thai (Isaan) version. I gravitate towards the Isaan style that is heavily laden with citrus and toasted rice powder. The Northern style also uses various proteins and herbs but often includes pork/beef blood.

Pork Larb

I’m obsessed with Isaan-style larb because it’s truly a flavor explosion (I’m so cheesy). It’s incredibly savory with the garlic, shallots, fish sauce……bright and aromatic from the tons of citrus & fresh herbs…..and rather “earthy” from the toasted rice powder. Whether you eat it with sticky rice or as lettuce wraps, larb has multiple layers of texture, especially when you take intermittent bites of fresh cucumber slices, cabbage or fresh chiles.

My version isn’t totally authentic but it definitely is my homage to the original and can be whipped up in about 20 minutes. Not bad at all when you need a quick bite and its lightness is perfect for a warm summer meal.

_________________________________________

(Isaan) Pork Larb Gai – Thai Minced Pork Salad

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 tablespoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground pork
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon toasted rice powder*
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn
accoutrements: extra fresh herbs, lime wedges, cabbage, lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, steamed rice

In a bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 1/2 teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 1/4 teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the pork.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the pork around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the pork until it is no longer pink, approximately 3-4 minutes. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, red onions, mint, cilantro, and basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, lettuce and cabbage. Serve with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.

Korean Feast for Sunday Family Dinner + Happy Birthday Nina!

August 2013 Korean Family Dinner

My eldest niece, Nina, turns 15 today *gulp*

Don’t ask me how it happened but within a blink of the eye, our super chubby little baby turned into a beautiful and intelligent young woman. The bday gal requested Korean for last week’s Sunday Family Dinner and we willingly obliged.

We LOVE Korean food! And as I’ve shared before, our mom went through an extensive phase where she cooked all types of Korean dishes to dazzle her guests.

August 2013 Family Dinner

As always, we cooked way too much food. But what can we say, we wanted a “little” bit of everything and leftovers are a good thing in our book. A HUGE thanks to Emily Kim, author and founder of Maanchi, whose recipes were heavily used in our menu that night.

As for the menu…..

What’s a Korean meal without some type of Kimchi? Eldest seester started a week before our dinner and prepared a ridiculous amount of Kimchi—and I mean a TON OF KIMCHI! Though I’m not complaining as we each got to take a jar home.

Kimchi

We had crispy, Grilled Pork Belly served with an acidic, vinegar based dipping sauce…….

Grilled Pork Belly

A huge pot of bubbling Soondubu Jjigae – Soft Tofu Stew with lots of seafood……

Soondubu Jjigae - Soft Tofu Stew

Plates of Haemul Pajeon - Seafood Pancake……….

Haemul Pajeon - Seafood Pancake

You can see that the there’s definitely more “filling” than batter in these pancakes.

Haemul Pajeon - Seafood Pancake

And there was a huge pan of Ddeokbokki – Spicy Rice Cakes which is one of my personal faves. Mimi (my oldest friend/ex-roomie) used to make this all of the time for me in grad school and it’s carboliciously, delicious.

Ddeokbokki - Spicy Rice Cakes

We also had Galbijjim – Braised Beef Short Ribs that just fell off the bone. Slightly sweet and incredibly tender. Man, my mouth is watering just remember this goodness…..

Galbijjim - Braised Beef Short Ribs

And there was some Kimchi Bokkeumbap – Kimchi Fried Rice.

Kimchi Bokkeumbap

And last, for dessert, Patbingsu – shaved ice. We adorned ours with sweet red beans, fresh fruits, mochi, tapioca and a drizzle of condensed milk.

Patbingsu - Shaved Ice

And that’s how we roll–Korean style!

Happy 15th Birthday Nina-love!!!! May this year bring you success in school (and tennis), laughter, happiness and adventures (in moderation, of course :) )

xoxo!

August 2013 Family Dinner

Cuban Family Dinner + Mojito Cheesecake

Mojito Cheesecake

We’ve been on a Latin and Spanish kick with our Sunday Family Dinner themes. But since eldest Seester and her fam were soon headed to Miami for an extended vacay, what better menu for June’s Fam-Din than Cubano?

Plantains

As usual, we started off our dinner prep with a few (okay, more than “a few”) bright and refreshing cocktails. Mojitos for the adults and virgin Valencia Orange-Mojitos for the kiddos.

Mojitos

Eldest Seester, N, kicked off dinner with a duo of Empanada appetizers. She made the dough out of flour, salt, baking powder, butter, sugar, eggs, and cream cheese. It was surprising to see how easy the dough came together but it was truly outstanding! The cream cheese made the Empanadas incredibly flaky and rich. A total keeper!

She filled half of the Empanadas with roasted chicken, mushrooms, cumin and other layered aromatics. The other half was stuffed with a savory Ground Beef mixture.

I could nosh on these all day long. You could definitely make a double batch and freeze them to bake off on a rainy day. Perfect little party apps.

Empanadas

Next came my homage to the beloved Porto’s Bakery. If you’re from Southern California, chances are, you are well acquainted with the renown Cuban Bakery and Cafe. Not only do they make delicious Cuban inspired sweets such as Guava & Cheese Pastries, Tres Leche, & Flan but they also are the creators of some of my family members’ favorite cake–the Triple Chocolate Mouse Cake.

You can also satisfy your savory Cuban cravings at Porto’s by ordering their sandwiches (including a Cubano), soups, or my personal favorite– Papas Rellenas. Essentially, they’re a crispy mashed potato ball filled with a ground beef mixture of onions, peppers, and tons of spices.

We made them a tad smaller than the original version but other than that, I was quite pleased with the copycat recipe and thought it was pretty spot on. I’ll be posting a step by step on it soon but you can find the recipe I used here.

Cuban Potato Balls (Papas Rellenas)

And what’s a traditional Cuban meal without plantains?

My sis and niece made these Tostones by twice-frying plantains. They took slices of plantains that were about 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch thick and fried them until they were golden. Afterwards, they took a cleaver and smashed them to about 1/4 of inch. After being pan fried for the second time, they seasoned them with course sea salt and served them with a peppery garlic dipping sauce.

It’s incredible how starchy plantains are and, in my opinion, are more like potatoes than bananas.

Tostones

Seester, T, made a huge and I mean HUGE batch of slow cooked Frijoles Negro.

They had a wonderful, rich flavor to them and were thick…almost stew-like. She also made rice but I totally blew it and didn’t take a picture of it.

#fail

Frijoles Negro

And for the main course, Cuban Roast Pork with Mojo Sauce.

HOLY aromatic!

The moment we walked into T’s house, we were engulfed with the delicious scent of the pork roasting in the oven. She ended up doing a mash up of several different recipes she found but at the base of it, the marinade included tons of garlic, fresh orange and lime juices, fresh herbs and some spices. The Mojo was a pureed mixture of garlic, cilantro, serrano peppers, citrus juice, and olive oil.

It was surprising how much sweetness the fresh orange juice added but it was because of it that allowed the roast to become rich and caramelized.

Total winner.

Cuban Roast Pork with Mojo Sauce

And finally, dessert. We had a two types that night (as if we weren’t gluttonous enough already).

The first were Sweet Empanadas using the same pastry dough as the savory version. This time, N took whole Guava and cooked them down with sugar and lime until it broke down into a thick, almost compote texture. She then pressed it through a fine sieve to get a floral Guava paste. Seester and the kids stuffed the Sweet Empanadas with a few spoonfuls of the guava paste and a dollup of cream cheese. YUM!

But again, I blew it and didn’t get any good pictures of them.

#failedagain

DOH!

I promise I’ll be better next time!

Mojito Cheesecake

The second dessert of the night was my riff on a Mojito inspired Cheesecake.

What makes this a Mojito Cheesecake?

I started off by making “mint sugar” by pulsing plain ol’ granulated sugar with a few handfuls of fresh mint leaves. The end results in a bright and herbaceous sugar. Perfect for baking like in my Mojito Cookies or in drinks.

Mojito Cheesecake

The filling is flavored with mint sugar, tons of fresh lime juice, lime zest and lime extract. If the kiddos weren’t partaking, I would have also added a few splashes of light rum to the batter as well as the whipped cream. Granted the baking would cook off any alcohol but I didn’t think the munchkins would like flavor.

And since we were already sipping on Mojitos, I thought we could skip on the extra booze. I can practice restraint sometimes. :)

Bellies full, to-go bags packed…..I’d say it was another SUCCESSFUL Family Dinner!

_____________________________________

Mojito Cheesecake
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

Mint Sugar:
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons mint sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup mint sugar
1/8 teaspoon cornstarch
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime zest
1½ teaspoon Key Lime extract
1 ounce light rum, optional

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons mint sugar
1 tablespoons fresh lime zest
½ ounce light rum, optional

Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.

Prepare the mint sugar. In a food processor, pulse the granulated sugar and mint leaves until the leaves have been ground down and combined with the sugar.

Prepare the crust. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, mint sugar and butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan and press crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and cool to room temperature.

Prepare the filling. Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and sour cream until its light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the mint sugar and cornstarch. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the lime juice, lime extract, zest, and rum (optional) until well combined. Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven with a pan half full of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door propped open for about 30 minutes. (To prop the oven door, I use a wooden handled spoon to keep it ajar a few inches). Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool for an additional 30 minutes. Wrap well with plastic film and foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove the sides of the pan by running a hot knife around the outside of the cake.

When you are ready to serve, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the mint sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the zest, rum (optional) and whip until combined.

Pipe the whipped cream on top of the cheesecake and garnish with additional lime slices and mint leaves.

Pork & Shrimp Gyoza and Our Kid Chefs

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

One of the neatest things about our family dinners is seeing how accomplished my neices have become in the kitchen. We got them involved quite young with baking, creating their own pizzas, and so forth—and I think that it’s really helped them become more at ease with cooking.

Fast forward to today where Nina (14 years old) and Nini (13 years old) have developed their own specialities in the kitchen. Nina can whip up a wonderful dressing and a to die for chocolate cake. Nini is a whiz at shucking oysters, cupcake decorating, and quite recently has become a dumpling-making pro.

Nini and Nina

With the endless things that had to be done at our last family dinner, I needed some help finishing the Gyozas. I showed Nini only once how to fold a Gyoza and the next thing I knew it, she had completed an entire tray of dumplings for me–and they were perfect!

Gyozas are the Japanese version of delish panfried dumplings. They can be filled with a variety of proteins and are wrapped with thin dumpling skins made from flour, salt, and boiling water. Here’s how I make them:

Start off by creating the filling. I like to do a Vietnamese-Japanese fusion and mix ground pork, roughly chopped shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, fish sauce, soy and a variety of other aromatics and spices. The shrimp adds a slight sweetness and great texture. Once the filling has been thoroughly mixed, it’s time to assemble the gyozas.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Place one gyoza wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center. Be careful to not over stuff your dumplings or else the filling will burst from the seams.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Pick up the gyoza and fold it in half.

Um…I really should have gotten a manicure before I took these pics.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Start pleating the top layer of the gyoza wrapper. After each pleat, fold, and firmly press the edges together, ensuring that that the gyoza is well sealed.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Place the gyoza on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with either flour or cornstarch to prevent them from sticking. Cover the sheet with a dish towel while you finish making the rest of the gyozas.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

After the gyozas have been pan fried, serve them up with a soy-vinegar sauce or my preferred sauce– ponzu.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

These gyozas have a wonderful flavor and all of your loved ones will gobble them up. And if given the chance, get the kids involved and exposed to the cooking process. They’ll have a lot of fun and take pride that they are eating what they helped to make.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, like our aunties, we can retire from cooking duty soon so that the kiddos can take over. Now if we could only get them as excited to do the dishes.

One step at a time. :)

___________________________________________

Pork and Shrimp Gyozas
Makes approximately 40 dumplings

Ingredients:

¼ pound shrimp, shelled and devined
½ pound ground pork
1 heaping cup finely chopped cabbage
1 heaping cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
½ cup finely diced scallions
¼ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1½ tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, additional (for frying)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 package gyoza wrappers (50 count)
vegetable oil (for frying)
water (for frying)
ponzu sauce, or your choice of dipping sauces
chives

Chop the shrimp into small pieces and add them to a large bowl. Add in the pork, cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, sake, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Using your cleans hands, mix the filling until thoroughly combined.

To make the gyozas, lay one gyoza wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center. Pick up the gyoza and fold it in half. Pleat – fold – and press the edges together, ensuring that you seal the gyoza tightly. Place the gyoza on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch or lined with parchment paper to avoid them sticking to the pan. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

Heat a large frying pan to medium heat with vegetable oil. Place a layer of the gyozas in the pan. Fry the gyozas for 1-2 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Add about 3-4 tablespoons of water and immediately place the lid on the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow the gyozas to steam until almost all of the water has evaporated.

Remove the lid, turn the heat back up to medium and lightly drizzle sesame oil around the inner edge of the pan. Continue cooking until remaining water has evaporated. Plate and garnish with chives or scallions. Serve immediately with ponzu sauce.

Crispy Roasted Porchetta for Sunday Family Dinner

Porchetta

I was first introduced to Porchetta by the beloved San Francisco truck, Roli Roti. A regular at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, Roli Roti draws throngs of followers by the delicious scents of their slow cooked, free range rotisserie chickens. As the chickens spin on the rotisseries, the juices drip down on trays of roasted potatoes. Drools….

Bruschetta

And of course, they have the most mouthwatering Porchetta – an Italian pork roast scented with herbs and enveloped in crispy, crackling skin. They serve their Porchetta on rolls piled high with arugula leaves and needless to say, it’s heavenly.

Porchetta

We were feeling quite ambitious for last month’s Sunday Family Dinner and attempted our own version of Porchetta. We did have a little challenge deciding on which cut of pork to use as some recipes call for whole pork belly with the skin on and other recipes list boneless pork shoulders.

We ended up using both pork belly and pork shoulder rubbed with a TON of herbs and garlic. To cook the Porchetta we enlisted my sister’s rotisserie oven but were not able to fit all the pork in at once. As such, we cooked a portion of it in the oven. As I would imagine that most folks do not own a rotisserie, the recipe below lays out a traditional oven cooking method. The oven Porchetta really is delicious but if you can get your hands on a rotisserie, I would highly recommend it.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

The pork was extremely tender and the crackling—OH THE CRACKLING! Deliciously crispy and juicy! Just forget about your cholesterol for the day because it’s so worth it! We served ours on ciabatta slices with a ton of arugula and Italian pickled veggies. The peppery, slight bitterness of the greens with the tang of the veggies helped balance out the richness of the Porchetta. To accompany our Porchetta sammies we served a fennel salad with citrus and roasted potatoes.

For appetizers, my sis T whipped up some Bruschetta and my niece made her infamous Raspberry Chocolate Cake.

Sunday Family Dinner

We were definitely pleased with how everything turned out and Dad even gave his stamp of approval. And although I’m a little hesitant to admit it, we even had a bit of excitement with a small little fire that occurred in the rotisserie oven. But don’t worry, it was quickly contained.

After all, it’s not a Sunday Family Dinner without a little adventure. :)

_____________________________________
Crispy Roasted Porchetta

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh rosemary
10 sprigs oregano
10 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup Italian parsley
20 large garlic cloves
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
zest of 2 lemons
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil
5 pounds boneless pork shoulder (skin on) or pork belly with rib meat still attached (skin on)
2 pounds new potatoes, quartered
2 cups white wine or chicken stock

In a food processor, pulse together the rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley and garlic. Add in red pepper flakes, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1/2 tablespoon black pepper and 1/2 cup olive oil. Pulse until a loose paste is formed.

If using pork shoulder, take a sharp knife and slice the pork open so that it lays flat. For both cuts of meat, score the skin of the pork. Heavily season the pork with salt and pepper. Rub the herb paste all over the inside of the pork, ensuring that you are able to get inside all the parts. Tightly roll up the pork and use kitchen twine to hold the roll together. Let the pork marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. In a large roasting pan, add the potatoes and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and then pour the white wine over them. Place a roasting rack on top of the potatoes. Rub the exterior skin of the porchetta with oil and season with additional kosher salt. Place the porchetta on the rack and roast for about 30 minutes until the skin becomes crispy and brown. Lower the heat to 375 degrees F, tent the the porchetta with aluminum foil and continue to roast for approximately 2 1/2 hours. Remove the foil, raise the temperature back to 425 degrees F and continue roasting the porchetta until internal temperature of the pork reaches 155-160 degrees.

Remove the porchetta to a cutting board and tent for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, turn on the broiler and roast the tops of the potatoes until they are crispy. Thinly slice the porchetta and serve warm with your choice of accoutrements.

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

 

 

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (also spelled Pâté Chaud) are deliciously flaky pies with a savory filling.

I know what you’re thinking. Puff pastry isn’t exactly among the first things that comes to mind when you think of Vietnamese cuisine. But, like the baguette and coffee, we’ve taken these items initially introduced by the French and have given them a Vietnamese makeover.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Pa Tê Sô are usually cut into round shapes but if you want to minimalize the waste of excess pastry dough, you can shape them into squares, rectangles, or triangles. But for the record, when I shape them into rounds, I never throw away the excess dough. Instead, I take the leftover strips, twist them and sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar before baking them. That way, I get a little sweet treat, too. Yum.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

 

 

The pork filling I use is essentially a riff off of my Chả Giò (eggrolls) filling with the slight adjustments of a few things—such as the addition of peas. I also make a curry-lemongrass pork filling that is really fantastic with the buttery puff pastry, too. But whatever you choose to fill your Bánh Pa Tê Sô with, just be sure to not over stuff them or it will not cook through and may bulge out of the seams.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

You can also freeze the pre-baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô. Just wrap them up individually with plastic wrap and freeze. Before baking, thaw them out to room temperature and bada-bing, bada-boom. Freshly baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô, whenever your heart desires.

Of course if you’ve got some time and ambition on your hands, homemade puff pastry dough would be ideal. I just don’t have that kind of patience and think the store bought pastry dough works just fine for me.

And no, that’s not cheating–despite what my sister, P, would say :)

_________________________________________

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Ingredients:

1 Package Puff Pastry Sheets (typically contains two 10×15 inch sheets)
½ Pound Lean Ground Pork
¼ Cup Rehydrated Wood Ear Mushrooms, minced
¼ Cup Rehydrated Bean Thread Noodles, minced
¼ Cup Peas
1 Small Shallot, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
½ Teaspoon Ground Pepper
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together pork, mushrooms, noodles, peas, shallots, garlic, fish sauce and pepper until well combined.

Using a 3-inch ring biscuit cutter, cut rounds of puff pastry. Place one tablespoon of the filling in the center of one round and place another piece of puff pastry on top. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges of the rounds to seal the pastry. Transfer the Patê Sô to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pastry rounds. Brush the tops of each Patê Sô with the beaten egg.

Bake the Patê Sô for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #18 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Bonnibella for hosting this month!**

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

When our clan gathers, you can be sure that there will be a massive array of delicious food. One can always count on the usual favorites such as Bánh Ít (sticky rice dumplings), Bún Bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup),and Cua Rang Mui (salt roasted crab). And intermixed with all the Vietnamese goodies would often be a sprinkling of “American” dishes such as mom’s Turkey.

Growing up, each dish became linked to one of the aunties or Mom as they each refined the recipes to make it their own. But as my generation grew older, the proverbial baton was passed and we in turn began to make these iconic family favorites.

And I find comfort in knowing that these dishes that my siblings, cousins, and I create will pass on my family’s traditions through food.  It’s kind of remarkable to think that the Phở Gà I’ll make for my kids will be exactly the same recipe my mom would have made for them.

Incredible, really.

One dish that I hope to continue is Gỏi Mít Trộn. At the heart of the salad is Mít Non—young, unripe jackfruit. The flesh of the young jackfruit is tender and mild in flavor. In the states, Mít Non is sold both canned and frozen. However, if you use the frozen type, you’ll need to boil it for a bit.

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

After being washed and well drained, the Mít is stir fried for a few moments before it’s tossed with shrimp, pork and several herbs like Rau Răm (Vietnamese Cilantro).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The Gỏi Mít Trộn is then topped with fried shallots, crushed peanuts and accompanied with nước chm (dipping sauce).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

It’s best served with Bánh Đa – crispy rice crackers flecked with black sesame seeds. Want to know something funny? When I was little, I used to think that the black sesame seeds in these were ants and stayed clear of these crackers for many years :)

 

 

 Bánh Đa

 

I like to eat Gỏi Mít Trộn by drizzling nước chm with lots of chili on top of the salad with a healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice. Then I take a piece of the Bánh Đa and use it to scoop up the goodness. YUM!

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The layers of flavor and textures in this Gỏi really rock it out. Extremely savory from the proteins and fish sauce with bright herbaceous notes from the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. With each bite you get a lovely crunch from the rice crackers and peanuts that balances so well with the tender Mít.

If done correctly, everything is in perfect harmony.

I doubt my Gỏi Mít Trộn will ever be as good as my mom’s or aunties’. But one thing is for certain— in due time, our kids will be trying their hand at it, too :)

 

______________________________________________

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)
Serves 8

Ingredients:

3 Cans (20 ounces each) Young Jackfruit
1 Pound Shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 Pound Pork Loin, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
½ Cup Scallions, chopped
1½ Cups Rau Răm Leaves (Vietnamese Cilantro), roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Mint, roughly chopped
N
ước Mm (Fish Sauce)
Ground Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Accouterments:
Bánh Đa (rice crackers)
N
ước chm (dipping sauce)
Fried Shallots
Crushed Roasted Peanuts
Lime Wedges
Thai Chilies

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, pork, ½ tablespoon garlic, 1 tablespoon shallots, and a few dashes of fish sauce. Mix and season with black pepper. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.

Drain the cans of jackfruit. Remove any seeds (including the shell layer surrounding the seeds) and cut off and discard any hard sections. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the jackfruit and transfer to a large bowl that has been filled with cold water. Repeat until all the jackfruit has been cut and rinsed. Using clean dishcloths, gently squeeze out the excess liquid. If too much moisture is left, your salad will be really wet and mushy. Set the jackfruit aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium flame. Add pork and shrimp and sauté until cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same skillet, add another 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium flame. Add the remaining shallots, half the scallions and sauté until softened before adding the rest of the garlic. Stir and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the jackfruit and remaining scallions and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes before seasoning with a few dashes of fish sauce and black pepper. Remove from heat and mix in the shrimp and pork. Toss in the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. Taste and adjust accordingly, keeping in mind that additional Nước chm will be used. Plate the contents to a large dish. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots and crushed peanuts.

Serve the Gỏi Mít Trộn with Bánh Đa, Nước chm, limes, and chilies. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #15, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Angry Asian Creations for hosting this month!**

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

Tonkatsu is such a delicious meal to pull together when I need a quick Japanese fix.

Since the pork used is so thin, it fries up in a flash! Even if you need to make your own sauce, you can have the whole dish done in 20 minutes. Which, let’s be honest, is “Buddha-sent” for weeknight meals!

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

A lot of Japanese markets carry a perfectly yummy bottled Tonkatsu sauce. But if you don’t have some on hand, it’s just as easy and delish to make. Though, I have been just as happy to dip the crispy cutlets into BBQ sauce :)

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

I also should have sliced the pork before snapping the pic—as that’s the way Tonkatsu is traditional presented. But my tummy won over and I didn’t realize it until I had polished half of it off already! DOH! :)

_____________________________________

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Tonkatsu:
4 Pieces Pork Loin, ½ inch thin
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Flour
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Milk
¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper

Tonkatsu Sauce:
2 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
½ Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Teaspoon Rice Wine Vinegar
½ Tablespoon Sugar
½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper

Prepare the sauce by mixing whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside while preparing the pork.

Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and place the flour in another. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Working in batches, dredge a few pieces of the pork in the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off the excess between each step.  Repeat with the remaining pork.

In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium high heat.  Slide in 2 pieces of pork and fry until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and drain the cutlets on paper towels. Repeat with remaining pork.

Serve Tonkatsu with rice, sauce, and a squeeze of lemon.