Thursday, February 27, 2014

One-Track Mind

My father, whom most people call the Colonel or KP, kind of has a one-track mind. He gets fixated on one thing and it remains top-of-mind for quite a while. Anytime you speak to him, he'll ask you the one same question as if he's asking you for the very first time. It's like a weird selective amnesia.

Anyway, he really likes comfort foods, such as soups, beef stroganoff, pot roast, etc. So when I moved into my first house after college, my father decided to buy me a "very special gift." He was quite proud that he thought of this and picked it out all by himself. Of course my interest was piqued and I couldn't wait to open this mystery gift. Low and behold, I unwrapped a . . .  crock pot. My reaction was probably similar to my mom's when, upon their first Christmas together as a married couple, she opened her "very special gift" he picked out to find a vacuum cleaner.  [Side note: he wisely adopted a no-appliance gift policy since, which may be the secret to their nearly 52-year union.]

On the upside, my new crock pot wasn't avocado green, like my mom's from Rival in the 1970s. I'm not going to say it was a self-serving gift but I kind of think he was hoping I'd make a lot of slow-cooked meals for him. I also think he thought he was doing me a massive favor by giving me something that would be an easy tool to make really delicious meals. After all, I did love to cook and I was just getting into the work world so I'd have less free time on my hands. I can see how he thought this was the most thoughtful gift in the world.

And then the one-track mind question began. Every single time we spoke, he'd excitedly ask, "So, how's your crock pot?!" I know he was hoping I'd say, "Dad, how can I ever thank you? My crock pot rocks! I'm cooking pot roasts left and right! Come over for dinner!" Instead, I was like, "Umm, it's still in the box." It wasn't that I was defiant about making delicious, easy meals. I think I wanted to spread my culinary wings once out of the nest. I was more interested in making technically challenging, somewhat exotic meals that I hadn't grown up on. I wanted to slave for 3 days in a kitchen making a 7-course French meal. I probably even wanted to woo a man with a proposal-worthy meal, which I guess I didn't think could come from a crock pot. Ironically, most boys would probably rather have a pot roast than a perfectly roasted 2-oz duck breast with a juniper berry gastrique. Oh knowledge in youth is wisdom in age . . . . So my crock pot sat in the cupboard collecting dust from many years, in spite of my father's routine questioning of its usage.

At some point, I realized I was being an idiot. And at some point, I realized the crock pot was rebranded as the "slow cooker," which sounds way sexier. Finally I saw the light my father had been trying to shine on me for years. In short, the crock pot: 1) Makes the cheapest cuts of meat taste amazing. 2) They're blindingly simple to use. 3) Using one means your dinner's waiting for you when you come in from work. Comfort food is comfort food for a reason. And life is busy. If you can use the slow cooker to make some of your beloved childhood meals while you're working your ass off, why not?!

While I don't use my slow cooker as often as I should, a rainstorm is heading to SoCal so it would be an ideal time to get it out. And by rainstorm, I mean "the wettest in two years." And by the wettest in two years, I mean the last time this much rain has come to the area was on March 25, 2012 when 0.91 inches of precipitation fell. I'm just saying that rain in SoCal is a kin to the crippling effects Storm Leon dealt to Atlanta. This winter "storm" will sweep away the 70-degree temperatures the region has enjoyed with temps dropping to the low to mid 60s. Overnight lows could dip precariously into the upper 40s. It might even rain for the Academy Awards on Sunday. *Gasp!* Good lord are we weather wimps! We've only had a total of 1.2 inches of rain since July 1 and have been in a full-on drought. But that's why I live here and not in Portland. 

And if you live in the midwest or on the east coast, I hope your slow cooker has been in heavy rotation. You've had an awful winter and could use a little culinary TLC—and an early spring. Regardless of your geography, almost anyone would welcome a tasty meal cooked with little effort which renders your house intoxicatingly fragrant and allows you to spend the day getting shit done. As such, you should make this recipe. It's not your "everyday slow cooker meal," which I kind of like, but is just as delicious, tender and comforting. Moroccan food is certainly nothing I grew up on, but I find myself gravitating towards the spices and ingredients. More Mediterranean than Middle Eastern, Moroccan food is satisfying yet healthy with layer after layer of flavor given the vast arsenal of spices used. Typically everything is cooked together, yielding a heavenly melange.

The beauty of the slow cooker is its simplicity. You prep your ingredients, add them to the slow cooker and press Start. But there is a difference between a good slow-coooker meal and a great slow-cooker meal. Here are a few simple rules to keep in mind:

Prepping. When you take a few minutes to brown your meat and sauté your vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker, you'll be rewarded with an additional layer of deep, caramelized flavor.

Avoid overcrowding. For best results, fill a slow cooker between one-half and two-thirds full.

Leave it alone. Resist the urge to lift the lid of your slow cooker to stir or peek at your meal. Each time you remove the lid, enough heat escapes to lengthen the cooking time by 20-30 minutes. Only open it once, within the final hour of cooking, to check doneness.

Plan ahead. If you want to turn your slow cooker on first thing in the morning, a little planning goes a long way. The night before do all the prep. Cut and trim the meat, chop the veggies, measure out dry ingredients, etc. Do not refrigerate components in the actual slow cooker. A cold insert takes too long to heat up and affects cooking time and food safety.

Happy slow cooking!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Chickpeas

1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
8 bone-in chicken thighs
1/2 tsp group black pepper
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
1 1 /4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 (3-in) cinnamon stick
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
2 (15-oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro chopped

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirls to coat. Sprinkle meaty side of chicken with 1.2 tsp salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pan, meaty side down; cook 5 minutes or until well browned. Remove from pan (do not brown other side).
2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin and next 6 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add stock, honey, and cinnamon, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6 qt slow cooker. Stir in apricots and chickpeas.
3. Arrange chicken, browned side up, on top of chickpea mixture. Cover and cook on low for approximately 7 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over couscous or quinoa.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Prettier than a Picture

When I was young, I fancied myself to be quite the little artist. I would spend most of my time drawing with nary a blank piece of paper safe. There are two drawings that stand out in my memory. One was King Tut's sarcophagus I did in pencil. I think I was in 4th grade. I thought it kicked ass. I also thought my talent was well beyond my years—probably because that what your parents and grandparents tell you, right? 

The second was a few years later. It was a reproduction of a Cosmopolitan magazine issue with Paulina Porizkova on the cover. Mind you this was in the early 80s, so while stunning, Paulina was definitely channeling a weird mash-up of Grace Jones and Billy Ray Cyrus. Even though I'd taken some artistic license and redesigned her dress, I thought my finished piece was a kin to a photo replica. 

I could barely digest that I had drawn such an amazing piece. Well, needless to say, the Guggenheim did not come calling (but this was before answering machines so maybe they did call and no one was home). I found the drawing and literally laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of my original opinion. That drawing was about as good looking as Ric Ocasek, which further supports the proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. [P.S. Thanks, Mom, for keeping all my "art."]

They say you eat with your eyes, which I think by and large is true. But this is a dish that may not be the prettiest although it's definitely one of the tastiest. Actually, it isn't that it doesn't look appetizing. It's more of an issue where I couldn't figure out how to photograph it in a manner that adequately captured the yumminess. Apparently the chef who invented this had the same problem because there was no photo of this dish in his cookbook either.

It is called caponata, which is a beloved Sicilian dish best described as a sweet and sour eggplant stew. I'm not really into eggplant, but this dish is so much more than that. It's more of a hearty, savory relish with eggplant, zucchini, and peppers sweetened with caramelized onions and golden raisins. This is a sophisticated crowd pleaser, comprised of familiar ingredients with a twist. If you love ratatouille, you'll love this. It's kind of an Italian take on it with a bigger hit of acidity from red wine vinegar that I think is frankly borderline addictive. I like to serve it with grilled bread topped with a dollop of burrata cheese. But you could definitely serve it over pasta or even as an open-faced sandwich.

You can actually bang this out pretty quickly if you're a fast chopper. If not, it still comes together pretty quickly once everything is in the pot. In truth, the finished dish tastes like it took hours and hours to make. It's not something you likely see everyday so it feels a little special even though it's very rustic and comforting. 

It's typically served at room temperature which is great for entertaining but also keeps in the refrigerator for several days—if there's any leftover. So don't let my ugly photos dissuade you. This is good stuff. 

Caponata Modo Mia
from Urban Italian 

1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium inion, diced large
1 red pepper, diced large
1 yellow pepper, diced large
2 japanese eggplant, diced large
3 stalks celery, diced large
2 small zucchini, diced large
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
1/2 cup golden raisins, rehydrated in 1 cup water
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, and eggplant. When the vegetables have softened (about 5 minutes), add the celery and zucchini. Season liberally with half the salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients and continue to cook. 
2. After 10 minutes, add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Cover and reduce the heat to medium, and let the steam roast the vegetables for 5 minutes. 
3. Add the rehydrated raisins (without the water), tomato sauce and oregano. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not falling apart and the sauce is well incorporated. 
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. 
Note: This can be served hot, but I prefer it at room temperature with burrata cheese mounded on top served with grilled, sliced bread. It can definitely keep in the fridge for up to a week. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

So Let Us Begin

Hello 2014! It seems like you got here kind of fast but, whether I like it or not, I guess you've officially arrived. I welcomed you with the stomach bug, which I won't blame you for, but it wasn't exactly the way I thought I'd detox and lose some weight after ringing in the New Year. It did serve as a springboard to start in earnest to clean up my diet and get back to the gym. It seems almost impossible to avoid excess sweets and alcohol and missed gym classes over the holidays, but I do feel very ready to restart my commitment to living a healthy, active life. 

To make that work, it certainly doesn't involve steamed chicken breast and broccoli every night. It's mainly (at least for me) about making better choices. I'm always going to eat pizza at least once a week and drink one can of Coke nearly every day, but I know I have to make better choices elsewhere if I want those treats. I have learned, though, that healthy, body-nourishing food can taste good. And the more I eat it, the more I want it. And I feel better and have more energy. And then I feel more excited about creating the life I want. So let us begin anew!

Here are a few of my favorite recipes you might consider making if you too are looking for healthy, yummy food. Whether you want something fast or something impressive enough for company, you've got options. 

Pan-Seared Salmon with Warm Winter Slaw

Asparagus, Orange and Lentil Salad

Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry

And while I know it's popular to make a long list of resolutions at the beginning of a new year, for me, it's more about recommitting to a lifestyle, which is something I strive to honor on a routine basis. [Special props go out to this person who worked with me in 2013 and taught me how to make this viable.] Having said that, I do make a cooking resolution! This year, I'm going to finally try my hand at homemade gnocchi. But I don't want to make hard, rubbery gnocchi. I want to make pillowy-soft, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi! So if you have any tips or favorite recipes, please share!

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes, which seems fitting as we set forth on a new year: 
"You are the author of your life's adventure. Weave your tale of wonder and believe in your brave heart." — Brancy Britton
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and wondrous 2014! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cold Front

It's cold here! I know Californians are total weather wimps (see Exhibit A, courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel). We act like a bunch of idiots as the local news teams tell us to brace for the "coldest nights you've ever experienced," but I mean it this time. It was 35 degrees this morning. That's cold no matter where you are! 

Exhibit A

I went to a 6 am spin class this morning and someone was telling a story about how shocked they were to find frost on their car windshield and admitted she didn't know what to do. She thought flipping the windshield wipers on would do the trick, yet realized that was not happening. But like an inexperienced (yet resourceful) Californian, she said she used her credit card to scrape her window. I know, right?! Not a person I've spoken to owns an ice scraper. 

And when it's cold, few things seem to warm you better than a nice bowl of soup. Although summer seems like it was a long, long time ago, I can still remember one of the highlights. It was a clam and corn chowder I ate here while visiting my high school bestie in Annapolis.It left quite an impression on me. Honestly, I still fantasize about it. I took a picture of it on my phone and I find myself browsing through my camera roll from time to time and pausing to gaze at this lovely bowl of deliciousness. Food porn. 

As the temperatures dip "precariously," I thought it would be the perfect time to try to recreate the dish and conjure up memories of warmer days. It's not a replica by any means, but it's damn good—and surprisingly quick to put together. 

It's also the perfect bread-sopping soup, so make sure you pick up a baguette to eat with it. The whole milk and heavy cream definitely make this taste luxurious but it's not heavy and gluttonous. The corn adds a sweetness and crunch that is the perfect foil to the briny clams.I should just say that I know clams can be alienating but if you buy them fresh they will have no odor and should be tender when cooked. Overall it's very well balanced and incredibly satisfying. You'll want seconds but there likely will be none. 

Stay warm!  

Clam and Corn Chowder 
from Gourmet

3 bacon slices, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 bunch scallions (5 or 6) 
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 cups of corn cut from about 4 ears (can use frozen)
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 (8-oz) bottles clam juice
1/2 cup water
2 lbs small clams, well scrubbed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Cook bacon in a 4- to 5-qt heavy pot over medium heat, stirring until slightly browned but not crisp. 
2. Chop white and pale green parts of scallions and add to bacon along with 1 Tbsp butter. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in corn, potatoes, clam juice, water and 1/2 tsp pepper and bring to a rolling boil, uncovered. 
3. Add clams and return to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until clams are just opened, 5-8 minutes (discard any clams that remain unopened after 8 minutes). 
4. Chop 1/2 cup scallion greens and add to chowder along with milk, cream and remaining Tbsp butter. Cook, stirring, until heated through (do not let come to a boil). Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On the Side

Wow, Thanksgiving is a week away. I'm not sure how that happened. This year is evaporating! I'm getting a little overwhelmed thinking about all that has to get done between now and the end of the year, but I'm certainly looking forward to next week. It has perhaps two of my favorite events:
1) Thanksgiving at my grandmother's 
2) The Iron Bowl [Roll Tide Roll!]

I'd be hard pressed to rank them so please don't make me, but I am not shy about ranking my list of favorite side dishes that typically accompany the Thanksgiving turkey. Dressing is at the top. If you are not from the South, you're probably like, "What the hell is dressing?" It's what you call stuffing. But at our house (and all over the South and perhaps in other geographies), no stuffing makes it into the turkey before cooking. Because of course you'd get salmonella and die if you ate that. Instead, you make the stuffing and cook it in a baking dish, which we refer to as dressing. How it got that name, I have no idea, but man do I love it. Probably because I love bread and that's basically what dressing is. On the other end of the spectrum lays the fruit and jello salad. Why it's made and served every year is a mystery (because there is always plenty left over), but I suppose it's just one of those Thanksgiving traditions you keep because if you didn't, someone—who never even eats the jello salad—would complain that it was missing. 

Second to the bottom of the list is the green bean casserole. I'm not much of a "casserole girl" anyway, but I tend to steer away from "creamy" vegetable dishes. I love green beans though. I just don't understand why they have to be swimming in cream of mushroom soup and topped with French's fried onions. If you want cream of mushroom soup, just make it. Why do you have to mix in the green beans with it? 

Anyway, my friends always host a Thanksgiving dinner for friends a week before the big day. This year it was 2 weeks ahead. It's always a great excuse to do a "dry run" and get your stomach ready for the main event, but it's also really special to be able to give thanks for your friends (or the "family you choose" as my mom says). The hosts provide the turkey and everyone brings a side. This year, I decided to spare the green beans from the soupy catastrophe and I made citrus green beans. 

It's a winning dish for several reasons:
1) You don't need the oven which has no available real estate on Thanksgiving
2) You can make this ahead of time and just stick it in a ziploc bag in your refrigerator
3) It's healthy but, more importantly, tastes good

I also love that it calls for cane syrup, which is the maple syrup of the South. If you haven't had cane syrup before, you're missing out. I can't find any in California so my parents are nice enough to haul it 3000 miles when they come and visit me. [Thanks, Mom!!] It adds just the right sweetness (and Southern hint) to the salad. The green beans are cooked crisp tender and should maintain their vibrant green color if you plunge them into an ice bath after you cook them. The citrus provides a fresh zinginess you'll crave and the pecans add a little crunch. Campbell's cream of mushroom soup need not apply. 

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!  

Green Beans with Citrus and Pecans

1 shallot
3/4 cup olive oil
zest from 1 orange
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup cane syrup (you can substitute maple, it just won't be as sweet so you may want to add a little honey)
2 lb haricot verts (thin green beans)
3 oranges, sectioned
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

1. Steam green beans in the microwave until crisp tender (3-5 minutes). Plunge the green beans in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and drain. 
2. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. I made my dressing a little saltier than normal because I didn't salt the green beans. 
3. Pat the green beans with paper towels to dry and place in a zip-loc bag. Add orange segments and vinaigrette. Seal and chill for at least 2 hours. Sprinkle with pecans before serving. Serves 8

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bragging Rights

I don't mean to brag but I think I'm kind of getting the hang of this grilling thing! Don't let my drunk beer-can chicken fool you!

I've been wanting to make this recipe for awhile, which was provided by the chef at Root Down in Denver. I had the chance to eat there several months ago during a business trip and was blown away by how good the food was. It's received a lot of accolades and frankly deserved every single one. It was a very memorable meal. It was almost a perfect meal actually. So when Bon Appetit published this green curry pork tenderloin recipe, I knew I wanted to make it—even though it would involve grilling the meat. And for some reason, I knew I wanted to make it for a party.

While I know it's not recommended to serve something at a dinner party without having tried the recipe before, I've honestly had good luck with that in the past. Maybe it's beginner's luck? Having said that, I usually pick pretty straightforward stuff—nothing with unfamiliar ingredients or overly complicated steps. But I do suffer from perfectionism, so spent a good chunk of time researching the best way to grill a pork tenderloin. The rest of the recipe—overnight marinating, making the curry sauce and cumin-spiced pumpkin seeds—didn't ruffle my feathers. It was grilling the meat that kept me up the night before the party. I'm sure to many, that would be the easy part.

I stumbled upon a cooking technique for the tenderloin online that people swore by: 7-6-5. There was very strong consensus that this was THE WAY to cook pork tenderloin. It was very detailed too and addressed all my neurotic usual concerns with grilling......Should I close the lid? How many seconds am I supposed to be able to hold my hand over the grill before I know that it's the right temperature? Do I have to worry about direct and indirect heat?.....Anyway, the 7-6-5 technique can be easily summed up:
1) Turn the grill on high and let it warm up for 10-15 minutes.
2) Place the tenderloin on direct heat and cook with the lid closed for 7 minutes.
3) Turn the tenderloin over and cook with the lid closed for 6 minutes.
4) Turn the grill off and let the tenderloins sit with the lid closed for another 5 minutes.
5) Take them off, let them rest for another 10 minutes, slice and you will be guaranteed to have a perfectly cooked tenderloin.

I am now an evangelist about the 7-6-5 method and would challenge anyone to find an easier and more successful way to grill a pork tenderloin. The meat was so succulent. I would say "moist," but for some reason, that word really grosses me out. It's up there next to "runny." Anyway, you can see in this photo how juicy the meat is. It is glistening.

The funny part about the experience was that the kids in attendance kept asking what we were having for dinner. It was not the likely candidates of burgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts they probably more often associate with the grill. So when I told them pork tenderloin, they gave me confused looks. Finally I said, "Do you like bacon?" I got an overwhelmingly positive response, so I told them we were going to be eating something like bacon. That seemed to alleviate any concern they had over the mystery meat. In fact, they chowed down on it, even though I served theirs without the curry sauce because I didn't want to push my luck.

But that curry sauce. . . . Oh my. It was delicious. I wanted to just put a straw in the sauce and drink it. It was the right amount of fresh (from the cilantro and lime juice) and spicy (from the curry paste) and sweet (from the coconut milk). It was really a beautiful amalgamation of flavors that struck just the right chord. It was "cleaner" and more elevated than a curry you might get from Thai take-out but exotic and different enough to make it feel special. People seemed to really love the crunch from the cumin-spiced pumpkin seeds but to me it was a nice to have not a must have. It makes plenty, though, and I did enjoy crunching on them throughout the following week.

I served the meat along side this spicy Asian noodle salad that was frankly ridiculous. We inhaled it and several kids asked to take left-overs home (there were leftovers because I have a phobia that I won't make enough food for parties so always make about double what is needed). I used fresh linguini as the base and coated the noodles with a spicy soy and peanut butter sauce. I didn't take many photos of it though. Sorry, so you'll have to trust me that it was the right amount of crunchy, bright, and spicy and a perfect accompaniment to the meat. But some jasmine rice would also be an excellent choice and great for soaking up the sauce. Actually I didn't take many photos of anything for this post. That's the downside of cooking for a crowd—it's hard to run around snapping food pictures when you're trying to get everything on the table. 

I have since used the 7-6-5 technique several times and have become a staunch believer that it is THE WAY to grill tenderloin. And I feel equally confident that this is a damn good recipe. So even if you're a little grill-shy like me, I would encourage you to give this a try. It's fragrant, it's delicious, it's different but something you'll want to eat over and over again. And people will shower you with compliments  and make you feel like you're a fabulous chef, even if the kitchen—or grill—is usually not your strongest suit.

Green Curry Pork Tenderloin
from Bon Appetit

Note: Yes, it's recommended that you marinate the meat overnight, but a few hours will totally do the trick, and the curry sauce comes together very quickly even though it seems like it has a lot of ingredients and steps. It easily doubles and triples! The seeds can be made several days in advance and kept in a tightly sealed container. You can probably make the sauce a day ahead too. It certainly makes plenty and I used it on other dishes on subsequent days and it still tasted amazing.

Pork and Marinade
  1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  2 Tbsp maple syrup
  2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  2 pork tenderloins (about 2 - 2.5 lbs total)
Cumin-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
  1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  3/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  1 Tbsp sugar
  1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  Kosher salt
Curry Sauce
  3 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  1 small shallot, chopped
  1 garlic clove, chopped
  1/4 cup green Thai curry paste
  1 tsp finely grated lime zest
  1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut mile (light is fine)
  1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pork and Marinade
1. Combine soy sauce, orange juice, maple syrup and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add pork and seal bag. Chill, turning occasionally, at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.
2. When ready to grill the meat, prepare grill for high heat. Remove pork from marinade; pat dry. Grill pork for 7 minutes on one side with the grill lid down. Turn the pork over and grill on high for another 6 minutes. Turn the grill off and leave the meat on the grill with the lid closed for another 5 minutes. The meat should be cooked to 140 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes and then slice.
3. Slice the pork and serve with curry sauce and cumin-spiced pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

Cumin-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast, shaking the pan often, until the seeds are brown, about 4 minutes.
2. Add cumin seeds, then gradually add sugar, then lime juice, tossing constantly to coat seeds with melted sugar and juice.
3. Transfer pumpkin seed mixture to a foil-lined baking sheet; spread out and let cool. Season with salt.

1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add curry paste and lime zest and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add coconut milk and bring just to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
3. Transfer coconut milk mixture to a blender. Add cilantro, lime juice, brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp water and blend until smooth. With motor running, drizzle in remaining 2 Tbsp oil and blend until creamy. Season curry with salt and pepper, return to pan and cover to keep warm.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Snaps

I heard someone say that August is like the Sunday of Summer. I couldn't agree more; I just wish it wasn't true. As Labor Day nears, I feel my favorite season slipping away and thought I'd share a few snaps from it. It was really a good one, filled with some fun trips, some special reunions and a lot of good food and drink! Hope yours was too! And while yes the tans will fade, the memories will last forever.

Heart-Shaped Homegrown
The Golden Hour
A Cool Cocktail
Afternoon in the Low Country
Best Tri-Tip (aka California BBQ)
Cold Spring's Rooftop Jungle 
My First Cronut (or Doughsant)
Full of Life Flatbread
The Calm Before the Storm at Cypress
Chicken 'n' Waffles (Santa Barbara-Style)
Sunset on the Bay
Clams with Corn
My Precious Godson
Alfresco Evenings
Nightcap by the Firepit
Lumineers Live