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Mojo Pork Cubanos

March 3, 2015

We enjoyed a Food Truck Fantasy at Tuesday Lunch at The Culinary Center of Kansas City this week. Now you can make this flavorful pork sandwich at home. Try it with our Spicy Cucumber Salad (click here for the recipe).Mojo Pork Cuban Sandwiches

Mojo Pork Cubanos

  • 6 ounces boiled ham, thinly sliced
  • Room temperature butter, for brushing
  • 6 (6-inch long) soft baguettes, split lengthwise
  • Yellow mustard, for brushing
  • ¾ pound mojo-marinated pork shoulder, thinly sliced, recipe follows) (or store-bought roast pork)
  • ½ pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  • 3 half-sour dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise

Heat a large cast-iron griddle or panini press. Add the ham slices to the griddle and cook about 1 minute over moderate heat, turning once, until browned in spots. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Generously butter the cut sides of each baguette and toast 1 to 2 minutes on the griddle over moderate heat until lightly browned. Transfer the baguettes to a work surface and generously brush the cut sides with mustard. Layer the ham, pork, cheese and pickles on the baguette and close the sandwiches.

Generously brush the outside of the sandwiches with butter and set them on the griddle or press; if using a griddle, top the sandwiches with a large baking sheet and weigh it down with heavy cans or a cast-iron skillet. Cook the sandwiches over moderate heat for 3 minutes per side (or 3 minutes total in a press) or until browned and crisp on the outside and the cheese is melted. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

Mojo Pork Cuban SandwichesMojo-Marinated Pork Shoulder

MARINADE

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cilantro, fresh, finely chopped, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, ground fine
  • ¾ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, finely chopped, lightly packed
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, fresh, minced
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, in one piece

For the marinade, in a bowl whisk together oil, cilantro, orange zest and juice, lime juice, mint, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Whisk in the salt and pepper. Transfer the marinade to a large re-sealable plastic bag and add the pork. Seal the bag and turn to coat pork. Place in a baking dish and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the pork to a work surface; discard the marinade. Fold the pork under itself, into thirds if necessary, and tie with kitchen string to form a neat roll. Season all over with salt and pepper and set it on the rack.

Place in the oven and roast the pork for 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes longer or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 160 degrees. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Discard the string before slicing across the grain.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Spicy Cucumber Salad

March 3, 2015

When you’re looking for special side dish with a kick, this is the ticket!  We served it at Tuesday Lunch at The Culinary Center with our Mojo Pork Cuban sandwiches. (Click here for that recipe.)

Spicy Cucumber SaladKorean Spicy Cucumber Salad

  • 1 cucumber, washed, ends removed, sliced into ¼-1/8-inch pieces (preferably English)
  • ½ to ¾ cup rice vinegar *
  • 2 dashes apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste (Gochujang)
  • 2 teaspoons red chili peppers (Gochugaru-Korean style, fine powder – not cayenne pepper)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic, fresh, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 dashes salt

On a cutting board spread cucumber slices in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for at least 15 minutes or until water starts to form on them.

In a 1-1/2 quart mixing bowl add rice and apple cider vinegars, red pepper paste, red chili peppers, garlic, sugar, oil, and salt. Set aside.

Press cucumber slices with a paper towel to remove water (or cheesecloth). Transfer cucumbers to a bowl and add the marinade. Stir to coat and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour before serving. (Cucumbers may start to be a bit limp, but do not let them get soggy due to vinegar.) Store leftover cucumbers in the refrigerator in a plastic container with only a little bit of the liquid. Makes 4 servings

* COOK’S NOTE:  Use ½ cup rice vinegar for small to medium-size cucumber; ¾ cup for larger size.

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Miss Lucy Makes A Fine Storm Shelter

March 3, 2015

The Main Dish here again writing to you directly from Heaven … scratch that … Coral Bay, St. John USVI.

My copilot is my dear friend Andrea, and we are on quite a ride.  Our first morning I knew exactly where I wanted to go … Miss Lucy’s out on the East End.  It just happens that it is Sunday morning, so getting there 30 minutes before it opens is a must.  We grabbed the table closest to the beach and ordered a Rum Punch because, well … we can.  When I tell you it is idyllic, I am understating it.  Look at the picture.  You’ll agree.

As soon as we chatted it up with our waitress Donna, who did an excellent job describing the full moon party to be held there this Thursday (note to self), we ordered.  Then the wind kicked up a bit and you could no longer see Peter Island… that’s island talk for … we have 5 minutes before the rain hits.  Not much here runs by a clock, but that did.  We grabbed our drinks (first things first), our roll-ups and the sugar and salt packets and ran to the bar… as any good islander would.  What a serendipitous party it was… our bartender Jim (a 70-ish expat from New York with a career as an oral surgeon, who ran to the islands as soon as his dog died… you see, everyone has a story here) was an excellent barstool companion.  Andrea had him in stitches of course, but it wasn’t until Jim started rolling the storm shutters down that the hilarity began, because you see, the folks sitting on the outside of the bar, toward the ocean, thought they were so clever.  little did they know that the storm shutters would come down between them and their brunch plate.  By the end of the rain squall we had met 3 new friends and recounted our reasons for flying south.  Dat is da way tings go here, ya know?

And oh yes, since this is a foodie blog, I had an amazing salmon and spinach scramble, and Andrea, the Eggs Benedict Island Style.  Sometimes its not all about the food.    Now about that Full Moon Party …

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Goat Water, Fish & Fungi, Callaloo… Doesn’t It Make You Hungry?

March 2, 2015

Laura-CaribbeanTrip-goatsWelcome to paradise… not just the pristine blue waters and white beaches but the food culture, as well.  The Main Dish here … in the U.S. Virgin Islands researching (ahem) the best foods to eat while on the beach.  Not really … well kinda.

I am here on holiday, but when I hit the tarmac of any spot outside Kansas City, I can’t help but be drawn to the people and their connection with food.  Because food is what we must do each and every day, it turns out to be a lively barometer of the its inhabitants.

In that case, the people of the Caribbean might look a lot like a rum bottle.  More on that later….

Let’s start with Goat Water.  Yes, these gentle little four-legged folks make you laugh, but they also make a great stew.  Sorry if I have offended any of you;  I guess I should say an interesting stew, at the least.  It starts with cubes of goat meat, dredged in flour and browned in oil.  Remove the meat, then add cubes of pawpaw, breadfruit and onions and brown them too.  Add tomatoes, ketchup, margarine, salt and pepper and a few maggi cubes and let it stew on low for a while.  Make some dippers (read: dumplings) with the remaining flour and there you go — Goat Water, otherwise known as Goat Stew.  Serve it with bread and a rum drink, of course.  (you’ll see this reference to rum throughout my blogs… again, more on that later)

You’re ready to go … Mon!

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Make Bread Like the Italians Do! Focaccia!

February 25, 2015

Enjoy this flavorful herbed focaccia bread recipe!

focaccia breadArtisanal Focaccia

  • 5 cups unbleached high-gluten flour plus more for rolling (or bread flour)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil plus ¼ to ½ cup oil, for misting and pressing into the surface of dough
  • 2 cups water, room temperature
  • Caramelized onions, for topping (optional)
  • Fresh chopped herbs, for topping (optional)

In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, and yeast.  Gently stir together.  Add 6 tablespoons oil and water.  Repeatedly dip one of your hands (or metal spoon) into cold water and use like a dough hook to work the dough vigorously into a smooth dough mass, while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand.  (To develop the gluten further, reverse the circular motion a few times.) Continue this process for 3 to 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and ingredients are evenly distributed. (See Cook’s Note below for alternative method using an electric mixer.)

Dust a countertop with enough flour to make a “bed” about 6-inches square.  Using a scraper (or spatula) dipped in water, transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and dust the top liberally with flour.  Using your fingers, pat the dough into a rectangle and set aside to relax for 5 minutes.  After coating hands with flour, stretch dough from each end until it reaches twice its size.  Fold it, letter style, over itself to return to a rectangular shape.  Mist top of dough with dough with spray oil and dust again with flour.  Loosely cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.  Stretch and fold the dough again, mist with spray oil, and dust with flour.  Recover with plastic wrap and let relax 30 minutes.  Repeat this process one more time but allow dough to relax (or “ferment”) for 1 hour. (It should swell, but not double in size.)

Coat a 17-x 12-inch baking sheet with oil and transfer dough. Using your fingers, shape the dough to fit the pan and loosely cover entire pan with a sheet of plastic wrap.  Place in refrigerator overnight (or up to 3 days).

One hour before you are ready to bake the focaccia, remove the pan from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 500 degrees and position the rack in the middle of the oven. Drizzle remaining oil over the surface of the dough. (You can use all that you want as the dough will absorb it, even though it looks like a lot.) Dough should be about ½-inch in thickness when filling the pan completely.  (Gently add any toppings on top of the dough, if desired.)  Place in oven and bake for 12 to 18 minutes or until dough is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, rotating pan from front to back halfway through for even baking. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack for 2 hours before cutting to cool and to allow the bottom to dry out a little.  Serve immediately (preferred) or at room temperature.

Makes 1 focaccia.

COOK’S NOTE:

If preparing with an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes or until dough takes on a smooth, sticky texture.  The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. Additional flour may be needed to firm up the dough enough to clear sides of bowl while keeping the dough soft and sticky in texture.)  Then continue with resting and baking process as outlined above.

We served our focaccia bread at Tuesday Lunch at The Culinary Center along with Lemon Basil Chicken, a Caesar Salad, and Ganache Brownies with Toasted Pecans. (Click here for the Ganache Brownies with Toasted Pecans recipe).

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Now Here’s a Brownie Recipe For Ya!

February 25, 2015

These double chocolate brownies are out of this world. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Brownies With Toasted Pecan Ganache

Brownie with Toasted PecansBROWNIES

  • ½ pound semisweet chocolate
  • ¾ pound butter, unsalted
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 1/2 pounds granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup dark cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces white chocolate chips

GANACHE

  • 1 pound dark semisweet chocolate
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 ounces corn syrup
  • 1 ounces whole butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted

For the brownies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a half-sheet pan and line with parchment paper.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate and butter until combined. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl add eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Mix to combine. (Do not whip.  Whipping to a foam creates more leavening, resulting in a more crumbly and less fudgy brownie.) Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour and fold in.  Fold in nuts and white chocolate.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and place in the oven to bake for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the ganache, in a mixing bowl add the cream, corn syrup, and butter. Set aside. In a saucepan add cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, being careful not to scorch. Pour over the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.

Pour the ganache over the cooled brownies. Sprinkle the toasted pecans over top, for garnish. Place in the refrigerator to set the icing.  

Makes 20 brownies.

This decadent dessert topped off our Tuesday Lunch of Lemon Basil Chicken, Caesar Salad and Herbed Focaccia Bread. (Click here to find the recipe for the focaccia bread.)

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Special Engagement: Cooking Lessons with Debbie Gold

February 22, 2015

 

Debbie Gold

Wow! We alerted our email subscribers of a special engagement class on 3/21 just yesterday and it sold out by the end of the day!  Luckily, Debbie Gold has agreed to do a SECOND class on Sunday, March 22. Here’s your chance to register, and if yesterday was any indication, you’d better sign up NOW if you’re interested

Rarely does one get a glimpse inside the mind of a James Beard Award winning chef.  Not to mention a Top Chef Master participant, owner of the legendary 40 Sardines Restaurant and Executive Chef of  The American Restaurant here in Kansas City.  And that’s only part of her resume!  Did I mention her experience at Charlie Trotter’s

Join us on Sunday evening, March 22, for a very special “limited enrollment” hands-on cooking class with Chef Debbie Gold.   She will engage us with her extensive expertise and her stories as she teaches us some of her favorite dishes such as Soubise Risotto and Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Polenta, Toasted Garlic and Parsley.  We couldn’t resist asking her to  teach one of her legendary desserts, as well.  Get a bit of hands-on experience this evening with Chef Gold at your side. 

   Class size is limited so register early.  LHO 

Sunday, March 22 @ 6:30 p.m.
$125/Person
Hands-On Cooking Class, Dinner & Paired Wine
 

Register NowSeats are Limited!

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