Monday, May 3, 2010

Spring Cleaning.

The pollen is burning my eyes and I'm sneezing like an out of control epileptic. Yup, Spring time is here. Once again it's time to starting going through your closets and get rid of the junk you don't need anymore.  That sexy dress that makes you feel like an over-stuffed sausage; gone.  Your adorable, half broken, Precious Moments collection; to Goodwill.  That corpse you can't seem to find the time to dispose of; dumped in the river.  Yes Ma'am every year good old Springtime comes along and tells you that you have too much crap and according to a few popular television shows, you must de-clutter your home or you risk the public shame of being a hoarder.  Such a nasty word.  I prefer the word collector.  It makes it sound as though my trash has value.

Here at The Hunger, Spring cleaning in full effect.  I'm emptying out my closets and forcing my unused collectibles on to you.  I do not own trash my friends, I just happen to no longer wish for a closet full of unused diamonds.  So I'm coming out of the closet (once again) with deliciousness in tow.

 The Wedge - You've probably seen it on your local dive bar's laminated menu.  I always assume it was added to the menu as some sort of practical joke.  Like you order it and the greasy, ironically mustached cook comes out and slaps you for ordering such a dumb thing and hands you a plate of deep fried pizza tots covered in bacon gravy and cheese. Okay, so perhaps you frequent classier joints.  This salad is so stinking simple yet it's so wondrous and tasty.  Make it for your favorite meat eater and I swear they'll eat it all up.  Sure, there's giants strips of bacon on it but still, a salad is still a salad.  So to make my wedge I used Thomas Kellers yummy herb buttermilk dressing (from his book Ad Hoc at Home) and some apple wood smoked organic bacon.  Quarter a head of organic iceberg lettuce and you're ready to go.  Oh, and it looks pretty next to a big bloody steak.

Quiche Florentine - If you've ever been to a baby shower, 1st Communion, Sunday brunch, wake, exorcism, satanic ritual, etc... you've most likely run into a quiche.  There are always ten or twelve of them at any morning potluck. Why is this?  Because they are easy to make and they are delicious.  If you're a slacker (which I know many of you are) you can purchase a perfectly acceptable, already made pie crust from your grocery store freezer, fill it with a velvety egg custard with a hint of nutmeg and grated Gruyere cheese, some bacon batons, and spinach.  You can eat it cold or hot.  It has great staying power so you can bring it to your next Knight of Columbus meeting and it can sit on the buffet table all day long.  In fact, I once came across some quiche that was forgotten overnight sitting at room temperature and I ate it without batting an eyelash.  I was a very hungry child.  I would've eaten bologna off the driveway in the middle of Summer without even thinking about it.  Now, I at least give it some thought before eating trash.  Recipe follows post.

Roasted Pork Shoulder with Salsa de Poblano and Honey-Pimenton Glazed Brussel Sprouts -
I am a Cuban.  I eat pork like 40 times a day.  It's just what we do.  Pork shoulder is a pretty fatty hunk of meat but it's seriously full of flavor.  Roasting slowly with low heat for 3-4 hours produces a falling apart delicious roast.  I usually marinate mine for a bit with garlic, oregano, lime juice, orange juice, cumin, salt and pepper.  It's such a comforting dish.  I made a quick salsa with tomatoes, garlic, scallions, roasted poblano peppers, lime, spices.  For the Brussel sprouts I seared the cut sides in a saute pan with butter.  Then I added a Tbsp of honey, 1 tsp of hot pimenton (smoked Paprika), salt and pepper and some chicken stock.  Covered and cooked for 5 minutes until just soft.  Very simple.

Fideo "Risotto" with Broccoli and Portuguese Linguica Sausage -  Say that ten times fast.  Fideo is a lovely little Spanish noodle that resembles vermicelli cut into 1" pieces.  It's used a lot of the time in soups and paellas.  I cooked it risotto style by browning the fideo in butter (kinda like Rice-O-Roni - or as my grandmother used to say "Rick-a-Rooni).  Start by adding a little chicken stock while stirring.  Once the liquid is absorbed add more.  Do this until the fideo is cooked.  You will have a super creamy texture almost like you cooked it in cheese but that's just the broken down starches.  Toss in some steamed broccoli and cooked linguica towards the end of cooking.  Don't forget to season throughout.  Sometimes I'll forget to say salt and pepper but always assume I seasoned the food throughout cooking.  Unless you have a heart problem don't skimp on the frickin' salt.  I hate coming to your house and eating unsalted bland food!  Salt, salt salt!  But don't over salt! Seriously.

Irish Fry Breakfast - Okay, so those eggs and sausage look somewhat imposing.  Go ahead, say it.  "Hey Violet, your Irish breakfast looks like a set of cock and balls sitting on a bed of baked beans!" Okay so now that we've gotten over any childish remarks we can safely say that Irish Fry Breakfast is a delicious heart attack in the making.  If I ate this all the time I'd have to invest in a closet full of moomoos.  You got your eggs, rashers (Irish bacon), bangers (Irish sausage), skizzers (okay I made that up), baked beans, broiled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, black blood pudding, white blood pudding (they are delicious but I totally understand how you feel about the words blood and pudding in the same description.  In a word; creepy).  After you eat this breakfast and of course wash it down with a few Guinnesses and Black Velvets you aren't going anywhere.  Just sit down a watch Futbol all day or perhaps Leprechaun 6 - Back 2 Tha Hood.  Ninja please!

Tacos de Pollo Picante - That's Spicy Chicken Tacos for to the gringos in the house. Everybody always has leftover chicken laying around.  Just check your fridge or between the couch cushions.  It's in there.  If you have to make it from scratch all you have to do is boil or roast some chicken thighs (you can use breasts if you have to but the flavor is in the thighs).  Shred the chicken with a fork.  I added some New Mexican chili powder, cumin, sauteed jalapenos, garlic, and green onions.  A few dashes of Tapatio hot sauce (pronounced Ta-Pa-Tio until my sweet friend asked for some Tapásheeo and it stuck) and you're ready to construct your tacos.  Garnish with some salsa fresco, sliced avocado, and cilantro and your are good to go.  I have a demon inside me that craves Taco Bell.  It's sad, I can't drive by a TB without drooling all over myself.  Like an addict, you can find me some days in the alley behind the dumpster eating a triple decker chalupa.  With a little willpower, I have asserted to my brain that my tacos and really any handmade delicious tacos are better than deep fried canned taco beef wrapped in a Mexican pizza.

Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies - And now for the dessert portion of our show, kinda.  Okay so I am not capable of making dessert without adding pork to it.  I blame my Latina heritage!  The maple in these cookies was delicious and the bacon adds a yummy salty smokiness.  I don't even really like sweets for the most part but these are interesting and porky.  Bacon and chocolate go very well together.  In fact they are best friends.  I made these for Christmas and bewildered my friends with lovely packages of goodness.  I call em Meat Sweets.

Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Susan Russo via One for the Table
5 strips maple smoked bacon (8 strips if you want extra to sprinkle on the cookie)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon maple extract
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate and chop finely.

In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars; about three minutes. Add egg and maple extract and beat until just blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until just incorporated and the flour is dissolved. Stir in the chocolate chips, walnuts and bacon.

Drop one large Tablespoon of cookie dough 2-3 inches apart. Make sure you only do about 6 cookies on a sheet. If they spread and touch each other, you will have a mess. Bake 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven only until the edges are brown and slightly soft in the center. Let them finish cooking out of the oven, on the pan. The edges will get too dark if you leave them in the oven. Transfer to a wire rack and let completely cool.

*Also, I made 3 extra pieces of bacon so I would have enough to sprinkle on the top of the cookie dough. I also pressed in some extra chocolate chips too. This is completely optional.

Quiche Florentine
The Crust:
2 cups flour
1⁄4 tsp. salt
Pinch sugar
8 tbsp. cold butter, cut in small pieces
3 tbsp. cold vegetable shortening, cut in small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten

The Filling:
1/2 lb. slab bacon, cut into batons
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 lb fresh spinach, blanched and drained
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

The Crust
Sift together flour, salt, and sugar into a food processor. Add butter and shortening into flour and pulse until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in up to 6 tbsp. ice water, stirring the dough with a fork until it just begins to hold together. Remove from the food processor and using your hands, press dough firmly into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Give the dough several quick kneads with your hand to form a smooth dough, then shape into a ball, flatten slightly to make a round, and dust with flour. Wrap round in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°. Allow dough to soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out on a lightly floured surface into a 14'' round. Fit dough, without stretching it, into a buttered 10'' bottomless metal quiche pan, set on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Press overhanging dough down slightly into sides of ring to make the sides of the crust a little thicker and sturdier. Run the rolling pin over the top of the ring to remove any overhanging dough. Using a fork, prick bottom lightly, then make a decorative edge around the rim. Line dough with parchment, then fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is set and edge just begins to color, about 25 minutes. Remove parchment and weights, brush bottom and sides with egg, and continue baking until crust is pale golden, another 2-5 minutes.

The Filling
Reduce heat to 375°. In a saute pan over medium-low heat cook the bacon batons until brown and ans crispy. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. After blanching the spinach in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Shock in ice water.  Then place the spinach in a kitchen towel and squeeze out all of the moisture.  Mix with the bacon and layer the dry, cooked spinach & bacon over the bottom of the pie crust

Beat eggs, cream, and salt together in a medium bowl and season to taste with nutmeg and pepper. Pour mixture into crust and bake until custard is puffed and golden and just set in the center, 30-35 minutes. Slide quiche off parchment paper onto a serving platter and remove ring. Serve quiche warm or at room temperature, sliced into wedges.

1 comment:

Violet Séverine said...

Some days I can hear the crickets chirping up in this joint. Don't be shy peoples.