Categories
Cooking My Favorite Sandwiches Photography Uncategorized

Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

PorkTenderloinMoneyShot



This one is Pork Tenderloin Confit, with Braised Cabbage, Applesauce, and Blue Cheese, on a Brioche Roll. When I first came up with the idea for this, I thought to myself that it was a late fall kind of sandwich, Sunday dinner on a roll. Well, it could be, but it also proved to be a Saturday spring picnic in the park kind of sandwich. Strange but true, it was both, depending on whether it is prepared hot or cold. Another thing that struck me was how similar it is to the last sandwich I made, the Pork Belly Reuben. It’s almost like the two are fraternal twins or something, except this sandwich was a star pupil and a model citizen, while the other had a penchant for 8 balls and hookers. But they both turned out alright, and no, I haven’t forgotten we’re talking about sandwiches here.



PorkTenderloinRub



I turned to Charcuterie yet again for the rub in this recipe, and it was indeed this book that influenced the creation of this sandwich, with its talk of how confited pork loin is an “amazing cold cut”. I couldn’t resist the temptation so I bought a tenderloin from Trader Joe’s and rubbed it down, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for two days. To confit something is to poach it in fat; to fully submerge the meat in fat and to cook it at a low temperature for a long time, until it is fork-tender. This technique creates an incredibly rich, perfectly cooked product. The only trouble is that it takes a while. It’s not hard, though, on the contrary it is mind-bogglingly easy in terms of the results you can achieve. It does require that you keep a ton of rendered fat on hand. There is that: you have to be willing to keep a few pounds of fat in the fridge or freezer.



PorkTenderloinTrifecta



The Braised Cabbage and the Applesauce recipes come from the Chez Panisse Vegetables and the Chez Panisse Fruit cookbooks respectively. These are both wonderful books, and ones I turn to again and again for inspiration and guidance when I am faced with the conundrum of figuring out what the hell to do with God’s bounty. They rarely let me down. I make the braised cabbage all the time. It is so easy and a full-sized cabbage can last quite a while. It’s a wonderfully healthy thing to have on hand, and its great for dishing out a good old fashioned Ukrainian Gasmask to your better half. Making applesauce is even easier, and it’s interesting to mess around with different kinds of apples. The possibilities are endless!



PorkTenderloinCabbage



For the Tenderloin: you will need a piece of pork tenderloin as large or as small as you care to make. Combine 2 Tbls Kosher Salt, 3 Bay Leaves, 4 Garlic Cloves, a half bunch of Flat-leaf Parsley, 2 Tbls of Black Peppercorns, 1 Bunch of Sage, 3 Tbls Chopped Shallots, and a 1/2 teaspoon Prague Powder (pink salt)(not essential, but it draws out a lot of water). Pulverize in a spice grinder, or barring that, grind it up as best as possible in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Rub the mixture all over your tenderloin, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two days.

Pre-heat the oven to 200º. Unwrap the tenderloin and fit it into a large enough pot or dutch oven to accommodate the meat and enough fat to cover it. On the stovetop, bring the tenderloin and fat to a simmer before placing it into the oven. Cook for about 3 hours.

When the loin is done, remove from the oven, and allow it to cool in the fat. Then refrigerate for at least 24 hours. This will keep for weeks, so if your not up to eating it right away it will be there waiting for you. To serve you can do one of two things. In either case, you pull it out of the fat, but in the one case you slice it up and fry the slices in a pan, and in the other you heat the whole thing, or a piece of the whole thing, up just enough to get the excess fat to melt away, then slice it up cold. It’s awesome either way.

To make the Cabbage you will need a whole red or green cabbage, an onion, a bay leaf, salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, and an apple. Take cabbage, cut it in half and core it. Then, slice it as thinly as possible. Do the same with the onion. Heat some sort of oil or fat in a large pot or dutch oven, and cook the onion for about 5 minutes or so. Add the cabbage, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, the vinegar, and a half cup of water. If the cabbage doesn't fit all at once, add it batches by allowing it to cook down for a few minutes. Once it is all in the pot, cover it and turn the heat down, and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Take the apple, peal and grate it, and once the cabbage has braised for the alloted time mix it into the cabbage, and allow to cook for an addition 5 minutes. That’s the cabbage.

For the Applesauce take as few or as many apples as you wish, so long as they aren’t mealy and flavorless, and quarter them, discarding the cores. Cut the quarters into half inch pices. Add a half inch worth of apple juice or cider to a pot on the stovetop and add the apples. Bring to a simmer, and cover, stirring occasionally, until cook until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. It can be as thick and chunky or as thin as you wish. That’s the applesauce.

To make the sandwich, all you have to do is combine these three things with a nice soft, crusty roll, and a sharp, tangy blue cheese to act as a counterpoint to the sweetness of the apples. I used a variety called Blue de Gex, but anything that has a real bite will do. I also add mayonnaise, but I think that’s an individual decision. It doesn’t really need it, but I thought it worked well to hold all the cabbage together, and thus give a more cohesive feeling to the sandwich. As I mentioned earlier, this can be prepared either hot or cold, depending on when you are eating it, and whether you are up to dirtying a bunch more dishes in order to make a sandwich. My girlfriend claims that this is the best of all the sandwiches I have featured here thus far. If you decide to try it, I hope that you agree!

One more thing. . . I’d like to give it a catchier name, but can’t seem to nail it. Any suggestions? The winner will receive my eternal gratitude!

PorkTenderloininHalf

Categories
Cooking Photography Uncategorized

Mr. Bungles Berry Good Bourbon Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Strawberrieshulled
Every time that I decide to do some sort of food project it inevitably ends up costing a small fortune. Finally, we have an exception to the rule with Mr. Bungles Berry Good Bourbon Strawberry Rhubarb Jam! Gabrielle and I both had Friday off, so we decided to go on a cheap date: Strawberry Pickin’. After doing a quick google search, I came up with this web address, www.pickyourown.org, and we drove out to the first place on the list for the Portland, OR area: Albeke Farms. The description says that they have all kinds of pick your own produce, with strawberry’s coming first in the season, and just our luck, they opened their farm a day before we called. I hadn’t been berry pickin’ since I was a very young boy, so I don’t remember much about that time, except we walked away with a boat load of strawberries and it was a dreary day. That wasn’t the case for us. It was mostly sunny and right in the 70’s. Perfect berry pickin’ weather!



BriePickinBerries
It may have been that we loved pickin’ berries, or it may have been because they only cost a dollar a pound, but either way, we managed to pick 20lbs of strawberries. I suppose that’s peanuts if you consider the couple a few rows down from us had just finished rounding up an even hundred. We were going by bucket, and we decided to fill two buckets each. I figured that would be about enough to make some jam, and maybe have enough left over for a milkshake or two. So this is a word to the wise: be weary of the buckets one fills lest one be buried in berries!



StrawberriesinaBowl



Afterwards, we fished around for some canning jars, and the lady at Bed Bath and Beyond sent us over to Bi-Mart, where we found an abundance of canning jars at incredibly low prices. If that weren’t enough, everyone that worked there was incredibly nice and helpful, and just about every costumer we saw was jolly as a sonamabitch. It was like if Big Lots were Kubla Kahn’s stately pleasure dome, except with cheap chips instead of fly maidens playing the dulcimer. If you live in the Northwest, and you are planning on canning some things, I recommend going there. Seriously, though, they had the 9oz bags of Kettle Chips for 2 bucks.



StrawberriesMashed



I suppose a little back-story is in order. Before I became the Catastrophysicist, I was a Mr. Bungle. Now I am only a Mr. Bungle when I am in the kitchen (Mr. Bungle’s Bistro), or whenever Brie and I are in the same place at the same time. For those that don’t know what a Mr. Bungle is, you can educate yourself with this video:







Me and the star of this video share the same name, but we’re basically opposites. I do ALL of that Mr. Bungle shit!

As for the jam, I followed the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to guide me through successfully. Making the jam wasn’t really difficult, it’s just kind of a long process that you have to stay focused on till the end. It involves mashing 8 cups of berries, adding pectin and lemon, bringing that to a boil before adding 7(!) cups of sugar, and then bringing that to a boil, and cooking it down to a certain consistency. I decided that it called for some bourbon all on my own. Meanwhile you have to prepare the jars for canning, which is kind of too involved to relate here. I recommend buying the book. It has very easy to follow step by step instructions, and over 400 recipes! I ended up with 10 8oz jars, and if you consider I used about 4 pounds of berries at $4.00 and paid $6.00 for 12 canning jars, that comes out to a dollar a jar! This was the first time I tried and it won’t be the last. Canning is not just for old ladies in the country anymore!



Jam



Update: WordPress has actually automatically generated an appropriate link below this post. The link for How to Make Jam – A Beginner Tutorial expertly outlines the process, albeit for a much smaller batch. Check it out!

Categories
Nature Photography Uncategorized

Dog Mountain

ThruTheTrees
SinglePinkFlower
TallPurpleFlowers
NeonOrangeFlowers
TinyPurpleFlowers
DogMountainSign
GoldenFlower
GoldenFlowerGroup
GoldenFlowerField
GoldenFlowerOverlook

Categories
bicycle touring Photography Sustainability

Wasted!

Crossing
“I confess that I am angry at the manufacturers who make these things. There are days when I would be delighted if certain corporation executives could somehow be obliged to eat their products. I know of no good reason why these containers and all other forms of manufactured ‘waste’—solid, liquid, toxic, or whatever—should not be outlawed. There is no sense and no sanity in objecting to the desecration of the flag while tolerating and justifying and encouraging as a daily business the desecration of the country for which it stands.



“But our waste problem is not the fault only of our producers. It is the fault of an economy that is wasteful from top to bottom—a symbiosis of an unlimited greed at the top and a lazy, passive, and self-indulgent consumptiveness at the bottom—and all of us are involved in it. If we wish to correct this economy, we must be careful to understand and to demonstrate how much waste of human life is involved in our waste of the material goods of Creation. For example, much of the litter that now defaces our country is fairly directly caused by the massive secession or exclusion of most of our people from active participation in the food economy. We have made a social ideal of minimal involvement in the growing and cooking of food. This is one of the dearest ‘liberations’ of our affluence. Nevertheless, the more dependent we become on the industries of eating and drinking, the more waste we are going to produce. The mess that surrounds us, then, must be understood not just as a problem in itself but as a symptom of a greater and graver problem: the centralization of our economy, the gathering of the productive property and power into fewer and fewer hands, and the consequent destruction, everywhere, of the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community.”
— from the essay Waste by Wendell Berry 1989



The above photograph is from the tail end of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park just outside Trenton, NJ. That’s right, this is sponsored by the State of New Jersey (although, in fairness the rest of the canal trail was extraordinary.) It gets worse further on into the actual city, though. The whole “urban nightmare” is in effect. I took this picture last summer while Brie and I were on our bike tour, and I regularly go back to look at it, and try to reason how it made, and makes, me feels to see all that trash, with the turtle presiding over it all like it’s his kingdom. As I was reading the essay from which the above quote is copied, I realized that Wendell Berry had articulated my comparably rudimentary thoughts some 20 years ago in this powerful injunction. I challenge every one who reads this to go a single day without consuming something that comes pre-made or packaged.

Categories
Cooking My Favorite Sandwiches Photography Uncategorized

Pork Belly Reuben

PBRSquare



One of the benefits of making your own bacon is that you end up with a boat load of bacon fat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: save your bacon fat! Otherwise, you might not ever be able to make pork belly confit, perhaps one of the most luxurious, if not down-right hedonistic things one could prepare from the all-mighty pig!



To confit something is to slowly cook it in fat, and so essentially what’s going on here is that you take a piece of pork belly, the same cut used to make bacon, cover it in it’s own fat, and cook it in the oven for about 3 hours, until it’s fork tender. My first encounter with pork confit was at a restaurant called Fork, located in the Old Town area of Philadelphia. I ordered it despite everyone else’s cackles and uhllll’s, and it turned out the pork belly upstaged the rest of the meal. It’s still the best I’ve ever eaten, and it’s set me on a dangerous course leading to coronary heart disease, because now I order pork belly if I see it on a menu irregardless of everything else.



This brings us to Bunk Sandwiches, a lunch spot staple for me in SE Portland. I had read in a magazine that this place features a Pork Belly Reuben on their menu, and therefore I was instantly drawn to the place. However, the menu changes daily, and this sandwich alluded me for many weeks. In that time, I decided the hell with it! I’ll make my own! And that’s what I have done here. I have since eaten one at Bunk, and I can attest that their’s is indeed very good, but so is mine! In fact, my girlfriend even told me that mine is better (haHa!) The amazing thing is how absolutely different they are.



While wondering aimlessly around the Portland Farmer’s Market a while back a certain loaf of bread caught my eye at the Pearl Bakery booth. It was called Vollkornbrot, a dense, hearty, German rye. Once I saw this bread, I knew I would make my reuben on it. In fact, it was actually the catalyst for the whole endeavor. It’s a great bread, and worked out wonderfully. The cheese I used was Tillamook Swiss. I had originally intended to make my own sauerkraut, but after realizing it would take at least five days, I decided to go with Picklopolis, a local pickler, instead. I had my heart set on sauerkraut made from purple cabbage, though, and they don’t make it in a purple variety, so I conspired to dye it purple with a bit of beet. However, while experimenting, I discovered another local sauerkraut purveyor, It’s Alive, produced just a few blocks from where I live, and was overjoyed that I had another choice. Both are excellent sauerkraut’s, and I recommend both of them, but It’s Alive won out for aesthetic reasons. What can I say? Finally, I used the Thousand Island recipe from Charcuterie for the dressing.



As for the Pork Belly Confit, here’s how I made it (you can make more than this at once, just double or triple everything):
Heat the oven to 200º.

Combine 2 tablespoon of the basic dry cure(1# Kosher Salt, 8oz Sugar, and 2oz Pink Salt), 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of peppercorns, a few leaves of fresh sage, 1 shallot, and 2 tablespoons of cocoa, and crush them to a powder in a spice grinder, or a mini-food processor.

Take this mixture and rub it into a 1 to 2# piece of pork belly. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for a day or 2.

PorkBellyInFatAfter this time has passed, place the the pork belly into an oven-proof pot, such as a dutch oven. Make sure that it’s a snug fit. Cut up the pork belly if necessary. The more room that is in the pot, the more fat that will be required in order to cover the pork belly. And yes, cover the pork belly completely with rendered fat.

Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, and then place it in the oven, uncovered, and cook for about three hours. When the pork belly is extremely tender, transfer to a separate dish, then strain the fat over the top of it, and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, or up to a month. This stuff keeps well, but trust me, it won’t last a month. That’s it for the pork belly confit, from here on out, it’s just heat and serve.

To prepare this sandwich, I sliced the pork belly into quarter inch thick pieces, coated them in cocoa powder, and fried them up in a non-stick skillet. Meanwhile, I toasted two slices of the Vollkornbrot in butter, in a pan on the stovetop, melting a couple slices of the swiss on one slice. Once the pork belly had a crispy golden exterior, I drained it on a paper bag, before placing it on top of the swiss cheese. Then I added the sauerkraut, and smothered it with the Thousand Island dressing, before topping it off with the other slice.

Give yourself time to eat this sandwich. It is incredibly rich. If you eat it too quickly, I swear, you’ll go into a pork belly coma.



PBRonBlack

Categories
Bacon Cooking Photography Uncategorized

Home-Cured Bacon

baconsliced



After visiting Fubonn, “The Largest Asian Shopping Center in Oregon”, a few weeks ago and seeing the overwhelming selection in their meat department, I knew one thing for sure: the hour was nigh that I would attempt to make my own bacon. The pork belly was abundant. I went back a week ago and picked up a 3lb slab or so for around $8.00.



Using Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn’s book Charcuterie as a guide I set out to find some pink salt. It says in the book that you will likely have to order it and have it shipped to your home, but being in Portland, a culinary empire unto itself, I just new there had to be some about. I headed over to Pastaworks and looked around for some there, but they didn’t have any for sale. So, I asked their on-site butcher Dave if he might know where I could pick some up. He quickly asked me how much I needed. I said how much can you spare, and he replied, “About 50 lbs.” It turns out that he had ordered what he thought would be a small box, but ultimately proved to be a life-time supply. I left with about 8oz. The Basic Dry Cure in the book couldn’t be simpler. It consists of 1# Kosher Salt, 8oz Sugar, and 2oz Pink Salt. That’s it. You mix it up, then rub it all over your pork belly. For my first attempt I also added crushed juniper berries, garlic, and black pepper, thus creating a savory bacon. Most breakfast bacon, I believe is sweet cured, typically with brown sugar, so this turned out to be quite a departure from what I am used to.



dsc_0058



To carry out the curing process the only equipment that is required is a 2 gallon Ziploc bag and a pan to place the pork belly in. Once the dry cure has been applied, you put it in the bag with the other ingredients (you can basically use anything you want to.) Then place it in the refrigerator, and flip it over everyday for 7 days, or until the belly feels firm at the thickest point. Effortless, really. Once it is done curing, take it out, rinse it off, and dry it. Then place the pork belly on a wire rack on a baking sheet, and put it in a 200º oven for 2 hours. Take it out and slice off the skin with a sharp knife, and there you have it: Bacon.



baconcooked

Categories
Cooking My Favorite Sandwiches Photography Uncategorized

Croque Madame

croquemadame1



The Croque Madame is a decadent, luxurious sandwich which I learned about in Thomas Keller’s cookbook Bouchon. This is indeed the preparation from that book. This sandwich is a grilled ham and cheese, with a fried egg on top, and smothered in Mornay sauce. Mornay is a basic traditional white sauce from French cuisine called a Béchamel with shredded cheese added to it—-essentially it’s a boojey alfredo sauce. Croque Madames are an addiction for me, and every time the urge strikes me to make them I simply go into auto-pilot and let the madness take over. I was inspired to make them this time during the course of our first visit to the Portland Farmer’s Market, where I came across a vender selling farm fresh eggs with his son, promoted as being no more than 4 days old. Now, I’m no egg expert, but that’s a fresh egg! I have read that eggs in the supermarket can be up to a month old before they are even put on the shelf, and those are mainly the eggs I use, because, well, they’re cheap! So I know about supermarket eggs: pale yellow yolks, and watery whites. These eggs from the farmer’s market were a different story with vibrant, deep orange yolks, and wholesome, substantial whites. The difference was palpable in every way, and it has to do with many more factors than shelf-life, but this is meant to be a post about a sandwich, so moving on. . . .



The Mornay Sauce



miseenplace
click on picture for weights and measurements



To make the Mornay Sauce you will need the following ingrediants: milk, heavy cream, onion, flour, whole cloves, peppercorns, nutmeg, white pepper, a bayleaf, salt, and Comte cheese or a similar variety.



mornay1 To begin, melt the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan set on a diffuser. This is to prevent scorching. I don’t have a diffuser, so I set the saucepan over a second, larger pan.



Once the butter has melted, add the diced onion and cook until almost translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to fry them.



Next, slowly sprinkle in the flour, stirring continuously to avoid burning, cook for about 3 minutes longer on low heat. This is called a ‘Roux’.



Up the heat and slowly add the milk and heavy cream, whisking constantly, and bring to a simmer. Once the sauce begins to simmer lower the heat, throw in the bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves and allow to cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it reduces to a rich, creamy consistency. Move the saucepan around on the diffuser occasionally to prevent any scorching. If it does begin to scorch, transfer the sauce to a different saucepan, and continue to simmer.



mornay2Once the sauce has reduced to the desired consistency, remove from the heat and add a few gratings of nutmeg, a pinch of white pepper, and salt to taste.



Stir it up, and then strain it into a separate container large enough to hold at least 4 cups.



Finally, throw the cheese in and stir it up again, really well this time, so the cheese melts and distributes evenly.



And there you have it: Mornay Sauce!!






Putting It All Together: The Grilled Ham and Cheese and the Fried Egg



eggs



The cookbook calls for Brioche bread, boiled ham, and swiss cheese to make the sandwich, but realistically you could use any combination of similar items, and it would still be good. I’m pretty sure most every one knows how to prepare a grilled cheese sandwich, and fry an egg, but I’m going to do the rundown on how they do it at Bouchon, because that’s how I do it every time at home.

Here goes: Preheat oven to 375º. Heat a large skillet and a small non-stick frying an on the stovetop. Butter 2 slices of Brioche, place butter side down in the skillet, and layer as much or as little ham on the slices as you desire, then top with cheese. Once the bread has evenly browned to a golden crisp, place the whole pan in the oven and bake until the ham is thoroughly warmed and the cheese is melted. Next butter the fry pan and crack the egg. Cook until the white has set, and the egg can slide around freely, then place the pan in the oven to finish cooking off the top of the white. The two should finish in the oven at about the same time. And that’s how they do it at Bouchon. I don’t know anyone else who’s doing it this way. I do it because they charge 17 dollars for this sandwich, and I want the full effect!



All that remains is assembly. Plate one half of the sandwich, and then flip the other half on top of that, top it with the fried egg, and cover it with the Mornay sauce, leaving the yolk exposed (obviously!) Finish it off with some fresh ground pepper and some parsley, and you’re good to go. I think Owen Lightly over at Butter on the Endive said it best when he called this a “fork and knife” sandwich. It is indeed. Dig in!!



brokemadame

Categories
bicycle touring Photography Uncategorized

All Downhill

snowshoe
A word to the wise: Do Not Attempt to Snow Shoe Through Texas!

The idea of doing an end of the bicycle tour blog has given me bloggers block for some time now. It has proven difficult to come up with a clever or witty way to express giving something up, so I’ve decided to forego all that and do a basic rundown of events in order to finally move onto other serious blog business. The gist of it is that things were intensely boring and unsatisfying throughout the entire state of Texas, and from the looks of things the atmosphere wasn’t going to change much in the next 1000 miles (i.e.: between El Paso and San Diego). Meanwhile, we were spending money on all kinds of gross food and lodging accommodations, and it just got to the point where it wasn’t worth it anymore. I basically snapped when we stopped for lunch La Familia in Sierra Blanca off Interstate 10, and was served the same soggy corn tortillas filled with boiled chicken thighs and watery pico de gallo in a room where the patrons were either Border Patrol or at least 100 lbs. overweight. That’s where I told Brie I was ready to give it up, and she more or less agreed, although somehow it was harder for her than for me. And that’s it. The next day would be our last, from Fort Hancock to El Paso, and it would also prove to be one of the most trying of the whole trip: ninety degrees in February, with west winds at 30 to 40 MPH. By the time we made it into El Paso it was like 8PM, and all we had really heard about the place was that Mexican drug lords throw headless bodies off the bridges, so you can bet we were psyched to be riding through the place in the dark, right? Brie got the last flat tire of the trip as we rode underneath the bridge leading to Mexico.
flatfixed
Then we checked into this faux-swank hotel called El Camino Real and drank a gang of wine and calculated how much it was going to cost us to move to Portland, OR. That’s when we realized we were making the right decision in ending our bicycle trip. Cost will humble the purest of intentions. The next day we rented a Penske moving truck for our bicycles and headed due North, and now, here we are in Portland.



An addendum of some photos from Texas:



eaglesnestcanyonEagles Nest Canyon



goldengrassGolden Grass



purpleflowersThe Only Thing not dead in West Texas: these purple flowers.



whitecowsSome white cows on the roadside along the Rio Grande.



desertshoesPrada Marfa

Categories
Photography

Georgia 12/25/08

sunshot
rocks
sky

Categories
Photography Uncategorized

North Georgia Fog

fog1fog2fog3