Archive for the 'Recipe' Category

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Sườn Nướng – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Ribs

Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops/Ribs

One of the perks of having a mother who works for a meat distribution company are the random acts of kindness meatiness that occur from time to time. I love it when Mom surprises me with pounds of jumbo shrimp, bags of frozen chicken fingers, or most recently, racks of baby back ribs. With Memorial Day, the official start of the summer grilling season, around the corner, the timing could not have been any more perfect. These racks o’ ribs were destined to meet the heat, Vietnamese-style.

Sườn nướng was a mealtime staple growing up. Not only was it served often on weeknights for dinner, but it also made regular appearances at beachside family gatherings—La Jolla Shores, represent. The ease of prepping and cooking the ribs, as well as their intrinsic deliciousness, made them a standby for every occasion.

Comprised of just five ingredients—fish sauce, sugar, salt, black pepper, and shallots—this easy marinade treats pork to a sweet, salty, and wholly umami bath. Soaked overnight, then grilled over hot flames, the ribs’ exterior caramelizes beautifully, while the innards remain tender and flavorful.

The recipe below produces ribs that are savory enough to pair with a heap of rice, the Vietnamese way, but for those looking to eat their meat straight up, ease up some on the fish sauce and salt.

According to Mom, this is the best marinade ever. And she’s absolutely right.

  • 2 to 3 pounds pork ribs, separated
  • 2 large shallots, finely minced
  • 4 ounces fish sauce (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar (approximately 1/3 cup)

Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops/Ribs

To prepare the marinade, whisk together the shallots, fish sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar in a medium-size bowl. Transfer the marinade to a gallon-size Ziploc bag, along with the ribs, and let the meat and marinade marry in the refrigerator overnight.

Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops/Ribs

Let the ribs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Over medium-high flames, grill the ribs on both sides until slightly charred and fully cooked through, approximately 6 to 10 minutes per side. Optional: brush the ribs with leftover marinade.

Once the ribs are fully cooked, transfer to a serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Continue reading ‘Sườn Nướng – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Ribs’

Pear and Cardamom Fruit Leather

Cardamom Pear Fruit Leather

It’s that time of year again…

For The Astronomer and my first wedding anniversary, I made two varieties of Vietnamese spring rolls, goi cuon and bo bia, to represent paper. In recognition of our second anniversary, I prepared a feast of cottontail as a nod to cotton. Continuing my streak of edible anniversary gifts, The Astronomer received fruit leather for our latest to signify leather. Next year’s gonna be decidedly less creative with “fruit and flowers” on the docket!

While my initial plan was to make fruit leather using The Astronomer’s two most beloved ingredients, raspberries and cinnamon, the prohibitive price and undependable quality of summer berries in early spring had me searching for a more fitting fruit. After scanning the produce aisle and my long mental list of The Astronomer’s loves and loathes, I happily settled on pear fruit leather spiked with warm cardamom.

Using recipes from Elise and Kirbie as my guide, I successfully transformed fresh pears into candied leather without too much trouble. The only hurdle that I encountered was my oven, which heats intensely and unevenly. This meant that I had to check on the leather rather often to make sure that it hadn’t turned the fruit into chips or, worse yet, burnt it to a crisp!

I tried my darnedest to keep this gift a secret, but knowing my penchant for edible interpretations of antiquated anniversary traditions, The Astronomer figured it out before the big reveal. Oh, well. It didn’t hinder his enjoyment one bit.

Happy Anniversary, Vernon Chaplin!

  • 4 cups chopped pears
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Granulated sugar
  • Ground cardamom

Cardamom Pear Fruit Leather

Rinse, peel, core, and chop pears into bite-sized pieces. Taste the fruit and note how sweet it is. If the pears are very sweet, you will not need to add any sugar. If the pears are a touch tart, you may need to add some sugar in the next step.

Cardamom Pear Fruit Leather

Place fruit in a large saucepan. Add water and bring to a simmer; cover and let cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through. Uncover and stir. Use a potato masher to mash up the fruit in the pan.

Taste the fruit and determine how much sugar, lemon juice, and cardamom to add. Add sugar in small amounts, one tablespoon at a time, to the desired level of sweetness. Add lemon juice, one teaspoon at a time, to help brighten the flavor of the fruit. Add a pinch or two of cardamom for pizzazz. Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5-10 minutes (or more). Continue reading ‘Pear and Cardamom Fruit Leather’

Prairie Pâté (or Granola Bars with Oats, Nuts, Marshmallows, Dried Cranberries and Pork Rinds)

Prairie Paté - Bon Appetit May 2013

Granola bars aren’t usually the kinds of things that I tackle in my home kitchen, mostly because they’re too darn wholesome and practical, but I couldn’t pass up making a batch of Prairie Pâté—a wonderfully twisted granola bar punctuated with pork rinds, sweetened with honey and marshmallows, tarted with dried fruit, and fortified with three varieties of nuts and whey protein powder.

I found this most unusual recipe while thumbing through the latest issue of Bon Appétit. Once the idea of a chicharrón-studded energy bar took hold of my imagination, I found it difficult to concentrate on anything else; I just had to know what this peculiar combination of ingredients tasted like as soon as possible.

Since the recipe called for a random assortment of dried goods that I didn’t already have in my pantry, I headed for the bulk bins at my local Sprouts. There, I found everything that I needed and was able to purchase the precise amount of each that the recipe called for. I mean, what’s a girl to do with a full-sized jug of whey protein powder? Problem solved.

The resulting bars were sweet and tangy with just the right amount of porky essence—the bites with cracklins and cranberries were especially noteworthy. Since the article’s author promised that these bars “will sustain you during car rides and afternoon hikes,” The Astronomer and I packed them on our Sunday afternoon stroll through Eaton Canyon. Sure enough, we were very well fueled from start to finish. It must’ve been the pork rinds.

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unflavored whey protein powder
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 ounces pork rinds (about 2 cups), large pieces crumbled

Prairie Paté - Bon Appetit May 2013

Line a 13x9x2-inch pan with parchment paper or nonstick spray. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add marshmallows and honey and cook, stirring constantly, until marshmallows are melted.

Prairie Paté - Bon Appetit May 2013

Add protein powder and stir until smooth. Off heat, fold in oats, sunflower seeds, nuts, cranberries, and pork cracklins. Working quickly, stir to combine.

Continue reading ‘Prairie Pâté (or Granola Bars with Oats, Nuts, Marshmallows, Dried Cranberries and Pork Rinds)’

Miss Verba’s Pimiento Cheese

Chef Frank Sitt's Pimiento Cheese

The Astronomer and I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama this past weekend to celebrate Grandpa Herschel Bryant’s 100th birthday! On Saturday afternoon, The Astronomer’s mom and dad hosted a luncheon at their home where guests were treated to Honeybaked ham sandwiches served on silver dollar-sized rolls, fresh fruit salad, and spinach Pauline.

Celebrating Vern's grandfather's 100th birthday! Woooot!

An Instagram-able moment between The Astronomer and The Centenarian

To nibble on before the main courses was a tall stack of saltines accompanied by a heaping bowl of pimiento cheese. A chunky marriage of sharp cheddar, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and roasted red peppers, pimiento cheese is a Southern classic that’s traditionally eaten smothered between two slices of white bread, dipped with vegetable crudites, or dolloped generously atop crackers. Our salty, crisp vehicles proved to be an excellent match for the hefty spread this afternoon.

This recipe, which The Astronomer’s mother entrusted me to prepare in advance for the party, comes from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill. Chef Stitt attributes the recipe to Miss Verba, an associate of his at Highlands Bar and Grill, who as far as he is concerned makes the best pimiento cheese ever. The Astronomer’s mother wholeheartedly agrees.

Aside from the chore of roasting the bell peppers and grating the cheese, this pimiento cheese comes together quite effortlessly. Whether served as a dip or a spread, the pimiento cheese hits all the right notes that a good appetizer ought to—creamy, sweet, spicy, and salty. With outdoor entertaining season around the corner, I’m looking forward to sharing this seriously tasty starter at potlucks, picnics, and beach parties. A Southern staple in Southern California—why the heck not.

  • 1 pound sharp yellow cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise or best-quality commercial mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Splash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Cholula
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Chef Frank Sitt's Pimiento Cheese

Begin by roasting the bell peppers. Simply place them on a grill over a hot fire or under a hot broiler and turn them occasionally until the skin is black and charred all over. Note: I used my grandma’s tried and true stove-top roasting method. It’s more effective than barbecuing or broiling in my experience.

Continue reading ‘Miss Verba’s Pimiento Cheese’

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