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November 2012
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February 2013

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork for Tacos

image from distilleryimage11.instagram.com

Having received a slow cooker for Christmas, and anxious to try it out, I picked up a nice big pork tenderloin roast at the grocery store this week. I typically roast these in my electric oven, but rarely have the patience to do so for longer than 2 hours. After all, it heats up the apartment and I have to keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn't dry out. Which is why I was excited about the slow cooker.

  • 1 3.5-4 lb pork tenderloin roast
  • 1 bottle beer (I used Red Stripe)
  • 1/2 cup tangerine juice (you can use orange juice if not available)
  • 1 red onion roughly chopped
  • approx 2 TBSP Sriracha sauce

Liberally cover roast with Sriracha sauce, rubbing it all over the meat and place into 3.5 quart slow cooker. Add onions on top. Pour juice and beer over meat.

Cook on high for 6 hours, or low for 11-12 hours. Remove from cooker when done and shred with forks. If meat has cooled by the time you are done shredding, place in a glass dish with 2-3 TBSP of the liquid from the crock pot and heat at 350 until your desired temperatue for juicy shreds or under the broiler until your preferred level of crispness.

Serve with corn tortillas, cheese and sour cream.


Miss Erika's Chicken Pot Pie

image from instagram.com

After coming across Martha Stewart's  pot pie recipe on an especially gloomy December evening, I got motivated to whip a couple up for dinner. Although mine are not as pretty as hers (I should have trimmed my puff pastry more aggressively), I'm pretty sure I improved upon the tastiness a little bit, in addition to slimming down the recipe to be just enough for two robust pot pies.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 14 baby carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek thinly sliced
  • 2 parsnips, coarsely chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 -3/4 cups half & half
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray glass baking dish with 1 TBSP olive oil. Add all vegetables and chicken to dish, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 1 TBSP olive oil and bake until vegetables are starting to brown. Stir vegetables every 10min to keep from drying out. Should be ready in 45 minutes. Let chicken cool, then chop into bite-size chunks, and add back to dish of vegetables.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock and half & half, cooking until liquid comes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper. Add to bowl with chicken and vegetables; toss to combine. Divide mixture evenly between 2 round baking dishes (approx 12 oz).
 
Cut puff pastry into two 8-inch circles and place on top of each of the baking dishes, crimping edges. Cut slits in the center of each piece of puff pastry to allow steam to escape; brush push pastry with beaten egg if desired. Place baking dishes on a baking sheet and bake until puff pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbling, approximately 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 


Miss Erika's Holiday Bread Pudding

our tiny bread pudding for Christmas Eve dessert

It's becoming a holiday tradition for me to make my bread pudding for bringing to our Sonoma Christmas dinner with L's family.

  • 1 loaf of Challah, stale, torn into bite-size chunks (approx 9 cups)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
  • 1 package chocolate chips

Preheat oen to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and bourbon together. Add bread chunks, stirring them into the egg mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow bread to soak up the egg mixture. Pour into buttered 2 quart baking dish. Add chocolate chips and gently toss with bread chunks.

Bake 45 minutes or until set.


The Makings of Christmas Eve Dinner

looks like Santa has already visited our Christmas stockings...

I don't usually head out to the market on Christmas Eve. But this year, with it falling on a Monday, and our week's grocery shopping having been done the prior Wednesday, it just hadn't felt right to buy everything that far in advance. And thus, I ended up on the 1 California bus, along with a few dozen senior citizens and 4 parents schlepping their brood of children off to somewhere closer to downtown from our end of the Avenues.

My destination? Bryan's. A small fancy neighborhood market in Laurel Village, about  two miles from my place. When I first moved out here, Bryan's used to have a standalone meat shop in the same block as their grocery store. It was a wonderous place-- with every conceivable cut of meat for which you might ever read a recipe. A few years back, they consolidated the butcher shop into the store, but it's still the first place I think of in my neighborhood when I want to go find a nice cut of meat to build a dinner around.

Although the place was packed with last minute shoppers like myself, it had a happy hum. Neighbors we're exchanging Merry Chistmases and hugs in the dairy aisle. Strangers were smiling at each other and giving unsolicited advice on produce. I even got into a conversation with a stranger while waitng to check out, which pretty much never happens at any other grocery store.

I'd entered with the thought of making lamb, but the whole pork tenderloins just looked so amazing I went with that instead.I'll roast it in a peach marinade I picked up there, and serve with roasted yukon gold potatoes and apples, and fancy greenbeans (with bacon+onions.) And we'll have a teeny bread pudding as a preview of the one we're bringing to christmas dinner tomorrow. Inspired by the pork rillettes and spanish chorizo, I'm doing a charcuterie and cheese plate as our starter. And it will all be accompanied by champagne, naturally.

Recipes and photos of the final dishes to come!


Holiday Cookies

image from @sferika on instagram.com

Baking holiday cookies has been an annual tradition of mine since junior high school. In fact, I've been making my honey cookies, seen above, since then.

image from @sferika on instagram.com

A few years ago, I added these gorgeous chocolate shortbread cookies to the mix. I love that they are a tiny bite-sized chocolate bomb. I've traditionally always topped them with chopped pistachios, but this year decided to try something new and covered some of them with chopped up See's molasses chips.

image from @sferika on instagram.com

And back by popular demand, I made the peppermint surprise cookies that were such a hit last year. I had intended to try a new recipe of some sort as well, but the above took me the whole weekend -- an entire day to bake (I did double batches of each) and another day decorating them.

image from @fynralyl

It was all worth it when I took in my goodie bags and cookie tins and shared them with colleagues and friends. It was a nice way to say goodbye to folks, with something sweet in hand.


Cocktails, Crab and Changes

 

The Whaler cocktail at Prospect, San Francisco.
The Whaler cocktail at Prospect, San Francisco.


That gorgeous cocktail is called The Whaler (Jamaican Rum, Sparkling Wine, Blackberry Honey
Mint, Lime, Egg White), and is obtainable at Prospect here in San Francisco. Not only is it one of my favorite fancy pants cocktails, it was also my beverage of choice for my going away party. It was a lovely gesture -- and it felt good to be surrounded with so much love and so many well-wishes.

But back to the reason for the shindig. That's right -- after 10 nonconsecutive years with my employer, in a variety of roles, I've taken the plunge and accepted a job outside the firm. But first, I have three glorious weeks off, which means I get to lounge around and enjoy the holidays and be a tourist in my own city for a bit, which I so love to do.

It got off to a somewhat comical start however. I had a few appointments booked at Burke-Williams Spa, which is housed in the Westfield San Francisco. And apparently, not too long after I arrived, the hot water went out. For the entire building. And it remained out the entire time I was there. I'm lucky I got the last of the hot water for my jacuzzi bath when I arrived! I would have been bummed to miss out on that as it is one of my favorite splurges (our bathtub was installed in the 1960s and is low to the ground, short, and has glass doors on a track taking up one side so it's not made for a luxurious soak.)

After my spa time was done, I was starving. La Boulange was mobbed, without any place to sit and eat, and I wanted a salad, so I decided to give Nordstrom Cafe another try.There was a short wait for a table, followed by a prompt taking of my order (salad nicoise) from the waitress. And then there was a 20+ minute wait, punctuated by assurances from the waitress that she was looking into what was taking so long. When my salad finally arrived, the waitress was also carrying a bowl of soup with a cheese toast perched on top. "So sorry for the wait! Here's a cup of soup on the house." she said, then ran off before I could ask what was in the soup.

Now, you are probably thinking to yourself, "don't be such a pain! just enjoy the free soup already!" But here's the thing: it's Dungeness Crab season in San Francisco. And despite not seeing a crab soup on the menu, I had a sneaking suspicion that this lovely, tempting bowl of creamy orangey pink colored soup was made from crab. Which I am deathly allergic to (it's the reason I carry an Epi Pen with me everywhere I go.) I was so tempted to just try a spoonful. But I know better than to do that if there is even a chance it might be crab. And when I finally flagged down a waitress to ask what it was? that's right-- it was crab!

Disaster and ER trip averted, I finished lunch and headed to see the Hobbit w/L. Unfortunately, our theater's 3D was the 48 frames per second super fast 3D. It took me most of the film to get used to it. It felt like a cross between HD TV and my old 3D Viewmaster slides. Next time, I'll either opt for the regular speed 3D or 2D. I enjoyed the film despite that distraction, and would like to see it again at home.

My following days have been less eventful, though still very much fun. I've had lunch at Martin Yang's new place M.Y. China, with my fabulous globe-trotting friend Xiaoming. I've also gotten my holiday cards out, and started plotting round 2 of holiday baking which will likely be this weekend, just in advance of Christmas dinner in Sonoma. It'sso  nice to have this break before jumping in to a new position in a new field in January. Lots of things to do between now and then though...