Tag: pork

That Time I Was On The Radio & A Recipe For Korean Tofu-Pork Patties

Cooking Korean food in North Iowa is often an adventure.

This weekend, Twin Cities food critic, James Beard award-winning writer and author Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl invited me to pop into her radio show/podcast Off the Menu to talk about food and community in North Iowa. She is one of the first food writers I ever followed and her writing inspired me to be curious about exploring our local dining scene. The invitation was very much an honor.

I felt like a North Iowan ambassador. We discussed ham balls, the low ceilings in the Frank Lloyd Wright hotel, Greek influence on our culinary scene, Casey’s gas station breakfast pizza, and North Iowa blogging community. You can actually download the podcast on iTunes later this week.

WCCO

Our conversation made me reflect upon the challenges that arise from having access to a smaller variety of multicultural grocery stores and food products.

On one hand, I can’t just make Pad Thai or vegetable korma on a whim. Obtaining the ingredients to make these dishes requires enough forethought to grow the ingredients (such as Thai basil) or purchase them online or while visiting a bigger city. Don’t try to find tamarind paste here, it’s basically impossible. On the plus side, I’ve learned how to be more creative and replicate certain flavors with the ingredients that I can find.

We may not have an Asian market or Indian restaurant in town, but friends continue to eagerly introduce me to their favorite food traditions and restaurants. Ham balls, pork burgers, pork tenderloins, loose meat sandwiches, old school supper clubs like Half Moon Inn in Clear Lake, Iowa, gas station breakfast pizza, it’s all been fun. As Deb Brown, the Executive Director of the Webster City Chamber of Commerce said, “We make magic out of small towns because we have to.”

Here’s a simple recipe for pork-tofu patties. I riffed on a recipe from The Korean Kitchen: Classic Recipes from the Land of the Morning CalmI served the patties with a soy sauce dip, marinated zucchini strips, steamed rice, and kimchi.

Korean Pork-Tofu Patties
Adapted from the recipe for Gogi Chun (Bean Curd and Pork Patties) from The Korean Kitchen: Classic Recipes from the Land of the Morning Calm 

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Ingredients:
1 package of firm tofu. Crumble, squeeze out in towel
1/2 pound ground pork
1 egg
Handful of finely diced onion
1 clove of garlic, minced or grated
1/3 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
Panko break crumbs. Enough to bind mixture, about 1/2 cup.

Dipping sauce:
Soy sauce
Grated ginger
Crushed garlic clove
Brown sugar
Vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Remove tofu from package. Crumble with your hands. Wrap tofu crumble in a clean towel and squeeze out excess water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine crumbled and drained tofu with ground pork, one egg, handful of minced onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Add enough breadcrumbs to bind the mixture. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before adding more breadcrumbs. It will tighten up as the breadcrumbs absorb the moisture.
  4. Form into small patties.
  5. Fry on each side in a thin layer of hot vegetable oil (I used peanut) until the pork is cooked through. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven on a cooling rack set on a sheet pan until you are ready to serve.
  6. To prepare the dipping sauce, season soy sauce with grated ginger, crushed garlic, brown sugar and vinegar. I did not have rice wine vinegar, so I used a splash of plain vinegar.

Oven-Baked Ribs For Frank Underwood [Possible HOC Seasons 1-3 Spoilers]

DISCLAIMER: Possible House of Cards: Seasons II & III spoilers. 

I don’t own a smoker and I’m not as experienced at cooking them as Freddy, but Frank would be damn proud of my ribs.

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I’ve tried preparing pork ribs in the oven many times before without too much success. People have guided me to do all sorts of strange things to ribs, such as boiling them in water before baking or even boiling them in saran wrap. I’ve also ruined them by forgetting to remove the silverskin on the backs of the racks. Whatever you do, don’t buy the racks in the vaccum-sealed in plastic pouches; purchase them fresh from a local butcher. The plastic-pouch ribs I’ve bought are practically pickled in a slimy brine that I’m guessing extends their shelf life. I like my food to lean towards the saltier side, but find these almost inedible.

Fresh ribs taste so much better and usually cost less, too. To commemorate Netflix’s release of House of Cards’ third season, I bought racks of ribs from my favorite local butcher, Louie’s Custom Meats in Clear Lake, Iowa. Frank would want you to support your local butcher, too.

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I like Frank Underwood because Frank Underwood gets things done. Of course, I don’t like that he’s mean and pushes people in front of trains, but he’s all like “I want to raid FEMA funds so America Works can be a thing” and then he does and makes AmWorks a thing.

Whenever I get strange emails from PR reps, I wonder what would Frank Underwood do? Most of the messages I receive regarding my blog are fantastic. I love hearing from readers, receiving dining and recipe suggestions, and invitations to food events. However, the PR requests can be a different story.

Frank Quote

The funniest email I ever received was from a company that sells shaving supplies. They suggested I write a free post around their theme of “Shaving money” and “Happy Shavings.” For the rest of the month when Jake and I would come and go from the house, we’d shout “Happy Shavings” at each other and laugh hysterically. Then, we’d jog together at night and smoke cigarettes by the window sill. Just kidding. We don’t run and we don’t smoke, but we did laugh and laugh and laugh.

Some people need a “Come to Frank.”

Frank Whale Quote

Anyway, I may never know what Frank Underwood would say regarding my day-to-day life conundrums, but I do know what Frank might eat: BBQ ribs! Frank would totally make these ribs if he didn’t have Freddy’s BBQ Joint, a smoker, grill, or White House chef to make them.

Oven-baked BBQ Ribs
Cooking time will vary depending on the tenderness and size of the racks. I like mine to be tender, but have enough of a bite that the meat doesn’t just fall off of the bone. After a few hours of cooking, most of the fat should render. 

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Ingredients:
2 racks of pork ribs, back silverskin removed
Your favorite spice rub or seasoning salt: I used Mis’ Rubins Black Magic. It’s a spice blend with charcoal.
BBQ sauce

For a Korean Twist on BBQ Sauce:
Combine one cup of BBQ sauce with 1-2 tablespoons of gochujang, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, and a splash of soy sauce. Heat gently over low heat until ready to use.

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 300℉.

2. Cover a large sheet pan with foil. Place a cooking rack on top of the foil.

3. Remove the silverskin lining the back of the ribs. Sometimes it’s easier to loosen the membrane with knife, before peeling. If you leave this on, the ribs will be tough

Ribs silver skin

4. Place racks of ribs on the pan and season both sides with spice mix.

5. Cover with more foil. Place on the middle oven rack and bake 2 1/2-3 hours or until ribs are tender. One of my batches took 2 1/2 hours while a second took at least three.

6. Carefully remove the pan from the oven so the liquid fat doesn’t spill. Drain off the fat.

7. Uncover the ribs and brush with barbecue sauce.

8. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, brushing again with sauce halfway through.

Wini Moranville’s Pork Meatballs With Dijon Cream Sauce Are Too Good

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Wini Moranville & was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wini’s Pork Meatballs With Dijon Cream Sauce are too good, it’s true.

Jake and I know we’ve hit the dinner jackpot when we battle over leftovers. In this case, Jake won.

Wini is a writer, Des Moines Register columnist, and blogger who wrote French Cookbook La Chez Bonne Femme and The Braiser Cookbook. Last fall, I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Iowa Food & Lifestyle Blogger gathering in Iowa City. When she generously offered to let us enjoy her newest cookbook and choose a recipe to share, I jumped at the opportunity.

Braiser Cookbook Cover

The Braiser Cookbook is an e-book available on Amazon and it’s a steal at $2.99 (as of 10/18/14). I appreciate how all of the recipes are both elegant and approachable for the home cook. There really isn’t a recipe in this book that I’m too intimidated to try in my own kitchen. And guess what? I don’t even own a braiser. All of these recipes can be prepared at home without a braiser, and Wini provides advice for adapting them accordingly.

Jake and I have experienced a busier than any other in recent memory. We’re out-of-town more weekends than we’re home and crave warm, homecooked food after work. I gravitated towards Wini’s meat balls recipe because they were simple to prepare on a weeknight. The Baked Cabbage With Bacon and Apples she suggested as a side dish was also a breeze to prepare, but you’ll have to get her book for that recipe. I can’t be giving away all of Wini’s secrets.

The meatballs are actually made without any breading or filler. I was surprised by how moist and tender they tasted, since I’ve never prepared a ground meat dish without bread crumbs or oatmeal. They are delicate so Wini recommends flipping them gently with a large tablespoon. The sauce is rich with cream, but not overly so, as it is reduced with white wine and tangy mustard. Plus, the full cup of parsley adds a bright note. I bought ground pork at my favorite butcher shop Louie’s Custom Meats in Clear Lake, Iowa. It’s worth the drive from Mason City.

I only took one photo of these meatballs after we had filled our plates. We enjoyed our dinner so much that there was just no time to pause for photos. “I’ll take more tomorrow, when the lighting’s better,” I swore. But alas, when I came home from work they were gone. I could hardly blame Jake, though, because if I had beaten him home from work, I would have eaten them too. The lesson we learned from this dish is that if you really love something don’t ever let it go.

For more photos, check out In The Kitchen With Jenny’s post.

Pork Meat Balls With Dijon Cream Sauce
This recipe is a collaboration between Wini Moranville & Chef David Baruthio of Baru 66 in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Wini's Pork Meatballs text

Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds ground pork
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-1/2 cups heavy cream

Instructions: 

  1. In a bowl, mix together the pork, parsley, egg, garlic, salt & pepper. Go easy on the salt because the mustard is salty and tangy. I added about 1/2 teaspoon. Shape into about 12 meatballs.
  2. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 3 1/2 quart braiser until the oil shimmers. I used a large saucepan with deep sides and a lid.
  3. Add the meatballs to the hot oil and cook until lightly browned. Flip and cook the other side of the meatballs until they are also lightly browned. This should take about six minutes total.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook the meatballs, turning occasionally until they are browned on each side.
  5. Remove meatballs from pan and drain off all of the oil except for a sheen.
  6. Increase temperature to medium
  7. Cook onions until tender but not brown.
  8. Add the wine and cook, stirring up the loose bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce wine to about 1/4 cup which should take about three minutes.
  9. Whisk in the mustard. Add heavy cream and cook, stirring until the sauce is reduced to about one cup.
  10. Return meatballs to pan and simmer until they are cooked through (160℉).
  11. Per Wini’s recommendation, I served the meatballs with her Baked Cabbage With Bacon & Apples. It’s also easy to whip together. Let the cabbage bake while you cook the meatballs. I like to add splashes of red wine vinegar for some tang.

Connect With Wini:
Facebook for DSM Food Lovers: All Things Food DSM – Wini Moranville
Facebook for France Lovers: Chez Bonne Femme
Blog: ChezBonneFemme.com
Twitter: @winimoranville

Three Recipes I Like & My Childhood Cookbooks

Summer is making me want to cook and bake everything.

I love the sunshine and even the thunderstorms. I like opening my windows in the morning and look forward to going to our little farmers market each week. All of these things feel make me feel energized about trying new recipes. Here are several I’ve tried recently that turned out well.

Pulled Pork in the Crock-Pot
I’m sheepish to admit that I’ve never made pulled pork. Growing up, my mom slow-cooked boneless country pork ribs with barbecue sauce. I think we ate it so often that I haven’t wanted to make it as an adult.

Three things inspired my pulled pork endeavor: Eating a fantastic pulled pork meal from Pimento Jamaican Kitchen located in the food court of the Burnsville Mall, reading Beth’s Slightly Savory Saturday post about pulled pork, and winning an Iowan pork prize pack from Cristen’s blog Food & Swine.

I followed Christine Gallary’s recipe for Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork from Chow.com it turned out perfectly.

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Pull-apart tender, moist and flavorful. Plus, you are left with wonderful au jus after you de-fat and strain the juices. We enjoyed our pork with this homemade coleslaw on either buns or steamed rice.

Taste of Beirut’s Recipe for Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeeha)
I love Lebanese food and miss the little triangle pies I bought at Emily’s Lebanese Deli in NE Minneapolis. These beef pies aren’t as pretty as Joumana’s but they taste so good.

Meat Pies

I followed her recipe as written, except that I substituted balsamic vinegar for pomegranate molasses and minced red jalapeno for red pepper paste. You could always substitute slivered almonds for pine nuts and don’t forget to buy lean meat, otherwise, the fat will turn into molten lava while they bake and drip.

We like dipping our pies in greek-style yogurt.

Rhubarb Custard Meringue Dessert
I’m kind of obsessed with Rhubarb. I tried bake Aunt Emma’s Rhubarb Custard Dessert (from the Land O’Lakes website) in my tart and pie pans.

rhubarb tart
The crust stuck to the pans and one of meringues started weeping, but the dessert tasted fantastic. If I were to make this again, I’d bake it in a regular baking dish lined with parchment paper or blind-bake homemade pie crust for the tart and pie pans.

Jake’s never tried a variation of this dessert before and declared it one of his favorites, weepy meringue and crumbled crust and all.

My First Three Cookbooks
Do you remember your first cookbooks? Mine were Enclyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake, Alpha-Bakery by General Mills & Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual.

My original books were long since misplaced, so I ordered my own copies again. The recipes aren’t the most exotic, but many of my friends consider dishes like Alpha Bakery’s banana bread and Kids’ Cooking’s Disgustingly Rich Brownies classic favorites. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right? Someday, I’ll share them with my kids.

As I’ve alluded to earlier, my parents were hesitant to let me experiment in the kitchen, so I didn’t prepare many of these recipes. It’s time for some cooking catharsis.

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Catharsis never tasted so chocolatey.

Have you tried any great recipes lately? What were your first cookbooks? 

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