We picked up a couple of pie holes from The Pie Spot the other day. You see them here and there around town at a few restaurants, and even a few other carts, but I was never compelled to get one, because if you tack 3. 50 onto an 8 dollar lunch, you get a double digit lunch lunch bill, which I only go in for when I’m in Napa Valley, or ballin’ outta control in the ATL. These ones were post-dinner, so I felt a splurge would do. We bought a Brown Butter Pecan, and a Marionberry. They were both delicious, very well made pies, but unless you happen to be a squirrel, don’t count on more than 3 or 4 bites. These might be OK for cute tiny people, but I’m a hungry bear and I’ll eat the hell out of some pie, so the pie-to-dollar ration just doesn’t work for me here. Sorry, them’s the breaks––America taught me to like everything big.
Visit: The Pie Spot’s Website
Located at the D-Street Noshery @ 32nd & Division, Portland, OR.
I’ve been wanting weird sandwiches lately, like a fried boloney sandwich1, but without the utter gross of boloney. Luckily, there is this fancy faux-bologna stuff called mortadella that allows me to savor the joys of fried boloney without the possibility of suffering a largely imaginary slap on the taste buds by a pair of raunchy desert oysters. No, that would not due at all. And, yeah, purists, I’m calling mortadella boloney, so up yours! I read up on it before posting, and you’re all full of crap. It’s a beef/pork/whatever loaf with special seasonings in it, and some cubes of fat, and some pistachios and peppercorns, but it is what it is: a fancied-up, yet utterly delicious bologna!
Out of the brown wrapping and into the grill pan! In case you didn’t know (perhaps some perspective was in order?) these slices have about a 12″ diameter, so at least 4 slices are required for a sandwich, but who would argue with more? Start with the grill pan mega-hawt and add a splash of olive oil. They fry up super-quick, and take on an elegant brown blistering faster than you’d imagine, so you have to fry flip and cheese with no delay, otherwise the cheese may not have sufficient time to melt over the meat.
I asked for a few slices of provolone, any’ll do, at the swank cheese counter I frequent, and they gave me a thinly sliced half-lb of the stuff that is melting over the mortadella. I’ve got no idea what it is called, but I recommend dropping some coin on some bomb ultra-lux provalone sometime. This stuff had a crisp, tangy bite. I daresay it made the sandwich. In general, I regard most provolone’s as just something one puts with italian-style meats as a matter of course, just so that you can tell yourself, you slapped some cheese on it, but it’s never been game-changing like this stuff was. I’ve got some inquiring to do… The red things are Mama Lil’s Peppers. I’ve liked these for a while, but lately I have become obsessed with them. They’re kinda like other pickled peppers, except a million times better (literally.)
Here we are, at the last paragraph, and I have an admission to make: I totally ripped-off the idea for this sandwich from an venerable food cart here in portland called Lardo, but I’m not ashamed of it. Listen, I’d planned on eating hot dogs for dinner that night, and the meat counter was out of Sabretts! I had to think quick on my feet! And I said to hell with it, I’m making some fried-boloney sandwiches for dinner! (With a side of sugar snap peas for good health…)
Fried Mortadella Sandwiches
to make 4 sandwiches
• 4- small loaves of crusty french bread or ciabatta, toasted
• 16- thin slices of mortadella
• 8- thin slices of provolone
• Mama Lil’s peppers or similar
• Lettuce, julliened
• Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper
• Additional condiments of you choice like Mayo or Mustard
Combine the peppers, a hearty handful of lettuce, a glug of the oil/brine from the peppers, and a dash of S&P, and set aside.
Heat a grill pan or whatever, and start toasting the bread. When the pan is hot add a slosh of oil to coat the pan, then slap in the mortadella in single layer. It will fry quickly, so be careful not to burn it, but allow the first side to brown nicely, then flip the slices, and arrange so that they are ready to go straight from the pan to the bread. Add the cheese as soon as possible. Hopefully, the bread is finished toasting by now, and you can quickly add some mayonnaise or mustard or both, or none even. One the mortadella is done on the second side, and it shouldn’t take longer than a minute, transfer it to the bread. Add a hearty helping of lettuce and peppers, and fold it over so that the bread and everything comes together in a sandwich-like manner.
1I can’t footnote the title, but if I could I’d add the same note: I (also, it would seem) ripped-off the title of this post from a great novel about a young man who looks exactly like Sidney Poitier.
I bought you on ebay 4 years ago and today I had to lay you to rest, your neck snapped, your body tattered and bruised. I had believed we had a fine relationship, but now it seems that perhaps I abused you, and treated you unkindly. But, as I look at you, laid out on top of this soiled napkin in a second had stoneware baking dish, I am reminded that I don’t really give a shit about phones at all, and I’ve moved on to an LG I took from the phone recycling drop box on the counter at Bi-Partisan Cafe. It’s shinier than you ever were, but that will change. RIP
I was out at a place called Tanya’s European Deli to pick up some rye and pierogies, and I got those things, but I also got a jar of this mustard mayo that features the Russian Flava-Flav. In fact, I don’t even think that the image is modeled on a real Russian person, but rather that it is Flava-Flav; that moonlighting on random mustard jars around the world is a leisure activity for him.. I don’t even think I’m going to use it. I just feel better knowing that it’s in my fridge.
Around the same time we had a baby, a couple friends and myself went in on a half a pig from Tails & Trotters. I’ve been taking some heat on my FB page about how there should be more baby pics than pork pigs. I don’t know why people have to hate—it’s an even heat anyway!
For Xmas Eve dinner, I made a pork belly roast from the slightest portion of the vast amount of belly that we got in the share. I followed the procedure from Canal House Cooking Vol. 5, and paired it with roast carrots, and a celeriac remoulade, which was also featured in the cookbook. The whole meal is really easy, and if you already love to eat bacon, this recipe isn’t going to give you any added risk of a massive coronary heart attack. Well, it might. The simplicity of this dish belies the time it takes to prepare. The following is a minimum of time needed, in hours, and by stage, to prepare this pork belly, just so you can plan if you decide to give it a go: 4+1.5+1+2+.25 or almost 9 hours. Of course, this is the kind of thing that you can have ready to go well in advance of a proposed dinner hour, as in days early.
This can be prepared with a piece of pork belly that has the skin still on, or not. I made it with the skin still on, but when I make it again, I’ll probably remove it. I learned that it is better without out it because I wasn’t paying enough attention (Scotch plus ) to the oven during the final stages of cooking and I burnt it to a crisp. When I heated up the remaining portion a few days later, I watched more closely, and the skin did some cool stuff, but it was inconsistent—half of it popped up like a pork rind, but the other half just remained chewy and almost a burden to eat. If you could guarantee that it would all pop up (I’m sure there’s a way. . .) then I’d say leave it on without question. Either way, you want to score the meat into a small-square patchwork as illustrated in the pictures. If you leave the skin on, your knife will have to be extremely sharp!
Ingredient List for the belly: 2 Tbls Sugar, 2 Tbls Kosher Salt, 2 Tbls fresh thyme leaves, 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 3lb (or less) piece of pork belly, and 1 cup of apple cider.
Combine the first four ingredients, rub it all into the meat, and put the belly into a ziploc bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 250º. Once it has cured for a sufficient amount of time (I let it go for about 4-5 hours), remove it from the bag and rinse it off. Dry with paper towels, then place it into a roasting pan, skin side up, that will fit it snugly. I used my 10″ skillet, because all my roasting pans are enormous. Pour in the cup of apple cider, cover the pan with a lid or tin foil, and roast in the oven for about 1.5 to 2 hours, basting occasionally. Up the heat to 400º and roast for an additional hour. The meat should have a very appetizing golden brown color. Remove it from the oven and wrap it up in tin foil. Place it on a plate, or baking sheet large enough to accommodate the meat, and place a similar sized plate or baking sheet on top of it, weighing it down with something on the heavy side. I used a pyrex filled with dried garbanzo beans from back when I was making quiches on the regs. Let it chill in the refrigerator for as long as you have time to wait. Word is, that you’re supposed to let it chill thoroughly, but I wouldn’t sweat it. The purpose is to let the weight compact the flesh and the fat of the pork belly into a more solid block. It does help in terms of mouth-feel and presentation to a degree, but if you just want to get it going as soon as possible, I’d allow about 2 hours of chill time.
Once it has chilled thoroughly, preheat the oven to 350º, and take the belly and cut it into (reasonably-sized) squares. Heat the individual squares for 15 to 20 minutes. Of my own accord, I decided to hit ’em with the broiler to finish them off. This is where I charred the skin to inedibleness and almost started a Christmas fire via flaming parchment paper (not really. Well, possibly.) But it was OK. In the midst of all the smoke pouring from the oven, I cut off all the char to reveal a fatty layer, and as the baking sheet I was using was covered in a tattered war zone of burnt and fat, I placed the individual pieces into separate spots in a muffin tin and returned them to the broiler. This time I watched more carefully as the fat caramelized under the extreme heat, and pulled them when they reached a rich dark brown.
EXTRAS: To make a delicious sauce, pour off the majority of the fat in the roasting pan that will inevitably have rendered from the belly. The gooey brown bits, and sugary sludge are what you want here. Pour in a cup more of apple cider, bring up to a boil, and all the while scrap up the bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce until it’s a nice syrupy consistency, and reserve.
To make the Celeriac Roumelade: julienne a 1lb celery root bulb. Combine the juice of 2 lemons, 2 Tbls of Dijon mustard, and half a cup of heavy cream. Mix it in with the celery root, and season to taste with salt and pepper. This is a great addition to the dish as the fresh tang of the lemon, and vinegariness of the dijon pairs wonderfully with, and cuts through the rich fattiness of the pork. If not this, then it should be paired with a similar side dish.
Edit: This is a pic of what happened with the piece that I broiled more carefully:
It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the crisp crunchy skin pieces, and the ones that stay relatively chewy. I’m wondering how to get them all to pop…
Is it too soon for another cupcake post? I thought so, too. Let’s talk about the Portland “Turkey Bomber” instead. If you didn’t know, a young man, 19, named Mohamed Osman Mohamud tried to detonate a car bomb next to this Christmas tree lighting ceremony, an implied attack on Christian morals and values, that was held the day after Thanksgiving here in Portland, OR. I know, on the face of it this is simply shocking, and would have been a terrible tragedy if this event were authentic and not a completely fabricated propaganda scheme set in motion by the FBI. Some people outside of the mainstream news media in the city believe that the reasons behind this bomb scare stem from Portland’s refusal to participate in the Joint Terrorism Task Force with the FBI, indeed the only major city in the US to decline. The JTTF was seen as essentially an agreement that gives Federal control over local police. Of course, after this “act of terror” the City Council appears willing to change course and join the JTTF. So this, in addition to the general public being scared shitless (and maybe even willing to forgive airport screening?) makes this all a success, no matter what the final verdict on Mr. Mohamed turns out to be.
But why is this all a fake scheme? The mantra here is “the threat was real”, but it wasn’t. There was never a threat, unless you count the FBI as one. The FBI successfully stopped a plot that it had manufactured itself. They hunted out and found a disillusioned young immigrant boy, who had abstract thoughts about what was being done to Muslims by the United States, and they sent him a couple of undercover jihadists to help him along in his indoctrination, and provide him with EVERYTHING he needed to follow through with this plot, including the van, the bomb and, I believe, the true desire to do it. I mean, they also paid his rent. This is not to completely exonerate him, but come on, this dumb kid didn’t stand a chance against a team of highly trained federal psychological specialists. No one would. I’m pretty sure that starting from the right seed they could get anyone to perform any act that could be dreamed up.
This article from Salon.com is an excellent criticism of the whole plot. All I can really say about the matter is that I am not any more afraid, rather I am extremely angry, and seeing this story unfold has made me question this so called War on Terror from a fresh perspective. It makes me question all of the plots that have come before it, including the shoe-bomber, and the underwear-bomber. Try to remember that the person who was pawned into this set-up will be largely forgotten, while the possibility of being blown-up while running errands will remain. This is a game of psychological warfare, and the whole community has been victimized.
I wish i could say that these cupcakes were the bomb, so that I could have focused this post on them instead, but they were only a ‘B’ at best. They’re from Ad Hoc at Home. Make the brownies instead.
Oh, and by the way, there is an ongoing trial at the moment of a couple of white folks in Woodburn, OR who successfully detonated a bomb at a bank killing 2 police officers. Funny how the FBI weren’t all over that one, and how the suspects in that case aren’t considered terrorist, either.
I’d been in the mood for a cupcake for a while now, and Gabrielle always has a hankering for one, so I thought what better way to rectify this situation than by paying a visit to The Sugar Cube and picking up a couple of what by many, many accounts is the best cupcake in town.
Behold: The Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake!
So, the hype is real. . . this cupcake was mad good, and I basically wish that I had ordered 4 of them instead of 2. Here’s the breakdown: it’s a super dark chocolate cake, with a dark chocolate ganache, with Ruffles jammed into the top and smothered in caramel sauce. Pretty much everything about it was perfect. Some Portland transplant ahead of me in line said it “sounds disgusting” and when asked if she was serious, tried to play it off like she was saying it ironically, like it sounds “bad!” or something. Some people. In any case, if anyone in Portland was considering making a trip out to try one of these, and were on the fence about heading out of the house in this miserable weather that we are getting into, then here is some incentive–Kirsten (the owner) is closing up the Cube for 3 months to focus on working on a cookbook for Chronicle Books. So this weekend is your last chance to catch this motherfucker! (until spring)
The Sugar Cube
4233 N Mississippi Avenue