Pumpkin with Mexican Chorizo

Every time I cook and eat vegetables with Mexican chorizo, I smile and shake my head in disbelief.

October 23, 2017
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Tapas: Pinchos Morunos | Moorish Skewers

Pincho, or pinchito, means “little thorn” or “little skewer,” so pincho moruno roughly translates as Moorish kabobs and is a typical tapa of the Spanish autonomous communities of Andalusia and Extremadura. Being Muslims, the Moors made similar dishes with lamb. Christian Spain took their traditional spice mixes and applied them to preferred chicken and pork. During the summer, pinchitos are often served with bread, wedges of lemon, and wine. Usually, these skewers are made during the barbecue season. Steps 5 nd 6 of this recipe show how to make this delicious appetizer using the convenience of your indoor kitchen, rain or shine.

March 21, 2017
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Swedish Meatballs: Köttbullar

Yes, they exist in all cuisines of the world, in some of them — forever. Different names, kinds of meat, sauces, and seasonings depend on what is available in the region. Last night, during the class we made classic Italian meatballs with tomato sauce to serve them with fresh pasta, and I remembered how much more I like Swedish meatballs. It’s time to add my favorite school recipe to this website collection.

March 7, 2017
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Steamed Buns: Char Siu Bao

It feels like an ode to pork belly! I can’t stop cooking it since my experiments with Ukrainian-style salo. After salo I wanted to make chashu, and this morning I woke up craving for char sui bao — super soft and fluffy steamed buns filled with flavorful barbecued pork.

February 20, 2017
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Ramen: Pork Belly for Ramen | Chāshū | チャーシュー

Chāshū is my favorite meat ingredient for ramen. Just like ramen, it came to Japanese cuisine from China and transformed into a very different dish. Originally, char siu 叉燒 is a kind of barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. In Japan, it is meaty pork belly slowly cooked in a flavorful broth. At the end of cooking, pork belly loses a lot of fat and becomes very tender and soft. Every bite of chashu melts in the mouth. For ramen, chashu os served thinly sliced. A very similar Japanese recipe for cooking pork belly to serve it with cooked rice, hot mustard sauce, and pickled vegetables is called Buta no Kakuni (豚の角煮, “pork cut square and simmered”). For both recipes, pork belly can be skinless or with pigskin, based on personal preferences and availability.

February 16, 2017
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Salo #3 | Cured in Hot Brine and Smoked Pork Belly

As I mentioned earlier, Salo in a Jar (сало в банке) is a highly popular way of wet curing salo at home, and there are recipes with cold and hot brine. But where the idea hot brine comes from? Can I speculate that someone impatient decided to try it hot? The result was somewhat in between cured and cooked salo, which is another widely used cooking method for pork belly in Ukraine. Cured with hot brine salo was so pleasing that the recipe quickly became popular. Using sous vide allows full time and temperature control in this recipe.

February 8, 2017
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Salo #1 | Dry Salted Pork Belly

Even though true salo comes from the back of the pig, a thick pork belly with one or two thin layers of meat is what most of Ukrainians consider a treat as well. In any case, it’s a good start for homemade salo in Texas. There are different ways to make salo: dry and wet salting, using cold and hot brine, making it cold or hot smoked. Adding other ingredients to salt rub or brine changes the recipe from region to region. In Kharkov and Poltava region, I’ve seen salo made with salt and garlic only. In Western regions, black pepper and paprika are added to salt. The recipe below is my first experiment with local pork belly and dry salt rub and covers both variations.

February 5, 2017
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Red Pozole

Toppings are my favorite part of this soup. I think they are what makes this traditional Mexican soup exceptional from the taste and texture point of view as well as its serving and eating experience. I like how some recipe authors refer to pozole as a “soup-salad,” because so many raw ingredients are added to a hot bowl of soup right before eating it.

January 21, 2017
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Cachucha Peppers Stuffed with Green Mexican Chorizo

To compare cachucha peppers to other green chili peppers I know, I’d say they are close to Spanish padron or Japanese shishito peppers in terms of texture. They are not meaty and slightly crunchy when cooked. To my taste, cachucha peppers are very flavorful and complex with clean and fresh grassy note. There is no heat in them at all. Thus their other name is sweet chili, Ají dulce, though there is no sweetness in them at all, at least when they are green.

January 18, 2017
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Carnitas

To cook 4 pounds of pork using traditional method, we need 4 pounds of fat. For people who count calories, it sounds really, really scary! Since so many people swear old school carnitas are the best and I call my kitchen a lab, I tried different cooking methods to see for myself. I slowly cooked larger and smaller pieces of pork in the oven, in croc pot, in a pot of lard, etc. Then I found Chef Roberto Santibañez’s recipe and that was the end of my search. I am a big fan of slow cooking and I am not afraid of fat, but for my taste these carnitas are the best.

October 6, 2016
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