Sunday, May 30, 2010

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches


It's Memorial Day weekend, and that means a couple months of sweet corn, burgers, ribs, and pulled pork sandwiches.  This pulled pork recipe, like many others of its kind, calls for being made in an oven and not the grill.  I find that's also the case for ribs, and I've come to prefer making ribs in the oven to avoid that char you get so easily on the grill.  I also love how easy this pulled pork is -- just marinate, cover and bake for a few hours the next day, pull apart, and you're done.  And unlike other pulled pork recipes I've tried, this one is truly pull-apart tender; no shredding with your knife is required.  It's a great hot-weather dish.

Raised Bed
And speaking of hot weather, my little vegetable and herb garden is taking off.  We prepared a raised bed for the first time in our yard.  Removing the sod was the hardest part, and we kept the rest simple.  No poured concrete or deep barriers, since it is a rented house after all.  We've got four varieties of tomatoes --Early Girl (top right), Sun Sugar (a yellow variety), Roma, and Grape -- along with parsley, chives, buttercrunch lettuce, and eggplant.  There was originally more lettuce, but some of the young plants got drowned in heavy rain, as did my strawberry plants.  I cursed Mother Nature and went off to get more strawberry plants, but the store was all out except for what they called these urban planters.  It was more than I planned to spend, but it's got almost a dozen strawberry plants, and a cool pot.  It already has some green fruit and beautiful white flowers.  I'm excited for my upcoming summer bounty!

That includes peonies.  I'm crazy about these flowers.  Too bad they're such slow growers and last so briefly.  I planted the one in the top right photo a few years ago, and it finally had one bloom this year.  Just one bloom.  I had gotten so impatient I bought a potted one (lower left), and it also yielded exactly one bloom.  I just can't win.  At top left is a shrub that blooms every spring, but I have no idea what it is.  The Sun Sugar tomatoes, at bottom right, have begun to sprout flowers that will bear the fruit.

So back to that pulled pork...

Pulled Pork
I used a tenderloin instead of the pork butt the recipe calls for, since that was what I had in the freezer.  I was concerned it might turn out dry because tenderloin isn't as fatty as butt (go ahead, snicker), but you might be able to see that this tenderloin had some fat.  It was also half the size the recipe called for, but that's OK for our household of two.  We've still got leftovers for today!  I also have a confession: I didn't use the barbecue sauce the recipe includes, or even make my own.  I resorted to a storebought bottled sauce, but it was still delicious.  Come on, I had to work Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Black & White Biscotti

This ain't no toothbreaker.  You know those biscotti that are so hard you think you're going to crack a tooth?  These are nicely crunchy without threatening any of your dental work.  I was shivering on an un-springlike day, wanting to warm up the house with some baking.  Yeah, I know I could have simply jacked up the heat, but there's something about the aromas of baking and the prospect of a project.  Biscotti was on my list of things I haven't tried baking yet, and I was drawn to this two-toned variety on the King Arthur Flour blog.  It's very simple, yet homey and comforting, exactly what I was looking for.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Caramel Custards


This is the easiest custard.  Thirty minutes to bake, at least another 20 minutes to chill, but only about 10 minutes to whip up.  And there's only four servings so you're not left eating dessert all week (bad for the body, if good for the soul).  The taste is admittedly more vanilla than caramel, and I was hoping for the caramel.  I wonder if a good brulee-ing would solve that.  Next-day perspective tip: Let them chill for several hours if you have the time and patience.  They're more delicious when very cold.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cheesecake Brownies


If you love cheesecakes and you love brownies, this one's for you.  I don't really do chocolate with cheesecake, but one exception is that Godiva Cheesecake Factory cheesecake (it truly is something else!) and the other is this cheesecake brownie.  And two of my chocolate-hating friends loved it!  It's also a cinch to whip up: Combine the ingredients for the brownie base and pour in a pan, then combine the ingredients for the cheesecake and pour on top, then bake.  That's it.  My main alteration?  The brownie is supposed to be coffee-flavored, and I just don't do coffee.  I can almost hear the disbelief of all the coffee lovers I know, but I promise it's still good.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Beyond Hummus: Roasted Chickpeas


The jury's still out on this one.

I'd seen roasted chickpeas in other blogs and a magazine lately, and it sounded tasty and healthy.  I remember reading a review of a local restaurant that served what someone called "chickpea crack," or deep-fried chickpeas.  If I'm going to eat something deep-fried, though, I'd skip the chickpeas and just go over to french fries.

The best way I can describe roasted chickpeas is . . . different.  It's definitely a healthier snack than potato chips and a dozen other things you can think of.  The first bite is just weird.  Subsequent bites are nutty, and Joe and I kept eating them, yet we were unsure if we actually liked them.  Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.  You can also flavor them in a multitude of ways, with cayenne pepper or various herbs.


Making them is easy enough.  Just preheat to 375°.  Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas.  I usually buy low-sodium or organic, which tends to have lower sodium.  You might also want to use two cans, so you're not using all that gas or electric for one little can.  Spread them on a baking sheet, drizzle with a tablespoon of canola oil and some salt and pepper, and roast for 25 minutes.  I sprinkled on some paprika for color.