Categories
Cooking mexico Uncategorized

Ben’s Carnitas con Ottolengi’s Slaw

I decided to make, it turned out, a rather large pot of carnitas the other day from a rather motley crew of random pork shoulder pieces suspended in the condensed ice in my fairly antiquated ice-box. Eating mountainous portions of tender, caramelized and crispy carnitas is great, and all, but what really heightens the experience for me is having a vibrant, fresh foil to play off of the rich lusciousness of the heavily seasoned meat. I turned to Plenty, a cookbook comprised of articles collected from Yotam Ottolengi’s weekly article ‘The New Vegetarian’ published in the Guardian newspaper. Leafing through the pages, I came to the recipe titled Sweet Winter Slaw, and saw in it the perfect match for my particular craving. It pairs and abundance of cabbage with plethora of tropical fruit, and things get even more intense with the addition of sweet & salty & spicy nuts!







The most difficult part of this recipe was squeezing almost have a cup of lime juice out of these limes that I bought that turned out to be a touch mealy. Everything else was a breeze; just chopping, slicing and measuring. To make the dressing combine: 6 1/2 Tbls lime juice, 1 chopped-up lemongrass stalk, 3 Tbls Maple syrup (or, agave nectar), 2 Tbls toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, an 1/4 tsp red chile flakes in a small sauce pan and boil to reduce to a syrupy consistency, 5-10 minutes. Strain, set aside and allow to cool, then wisk in 4 Tbls light olive oil. You can obviously play around with the sweet/salty components of this dressing. I would argue that the only truly essential components are the limes and lemongrass.







The recipe calls for macadamias, but suggests peanuts as an alternative, and that’s what I used since I had some on hand. This was the truly eye-opening component of the recipe, because I had never caramelized nuts before, and was struck by the ease with which a rather pedestrian snack staple could be elevated into something so extraordinary that constant snacking becomes lost in a crunchy fog of peanuty sugar-dust. These are unstoppable!

Place 1 cup of peanuts in in a frying pan and dry roast over medium heat for a few minutes. If you are already using dry-roasted peanuts, you won’t have to spend too much time dry-roasting (but it’s probably a good idea to get the heat up on em’ for the rest of steps.) Next, add about a tablespoon over butter to the pan, and allow it to melt completely, stirring the nuts with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Then, add 2 Tbls Sugar, I/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp chile flakes, all at once, to the pan and stir constantly for just a few minutes until the sugar begins to caramelize, and it all looks irresistible, then turn them out onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool.

Just a note of personal safety: if a nut jumps out of the pan, DO NOT attempt to retrieve it and throw it back into the pan. Hot sugar is mean. I’ve learned this from experience (too many times.)







From here on out, it’s all slicin’ and dicin’ baby! With a BIG bowl at the ready: finely shredd about half a Savoy cabbage, and half a red cabbage; cut 1 mango into thin strips; cut 1 papaya into thin strips; seed and slice 1 red chile; roughly chop about a 1/4 cups (1/2 a bunch) worth of mint leaves, and 1 1/2 cups (basically a full bunch) of cilantro. Toss all of these ingredients together, then add the dressing and toss again.

My only deviation from the recipe is to reserve the caramelized peanuts and to add just before you are ready to serve the slaw. This is another lesson that I have learned in regards peanuts, but it never seems to stick: peanuts get very soggy, even super crunchy and sugary ones. I had to make a second batch of them for the leftover slaw the next day.







Look at the vibrancy of this salad! It really is a terrific combination of ingredients, and yields quite massive amount of food. I’m not sure why it is named a winter salad aside from the cabbage. I’m looking forward to whipping up a big bowl of this for a picnic now the spring is creeping up on us.

As for the carnitas, at first I went with the traditional food cart-style with a simple dressing of chopped onion and cilantro:







But the next day, I went for it and topped the heaping mounds of carnitas with the slaw. Truly a revelation: Best Taco Ever!?







Link: to original Sweet Winter’s Slaw recipe



Ben’s Carnitas template:



“5-6 lbs pork shoulder, cubed (1 in deep by 3-4 in long)

Sauce:

2 oranges
Lime
Onion
Oregano
Cumin
Bay leaf
(garlic)
(vinegar)
2 cups h20
Salt

325 covered 2, 2.5 hrs

Pull meat, reduce sauce

Mix meat with sauce

Place on trays in oven, broil till crispy (5-6 min)

This is pretty basic explanation but you should be able to figure it out. Typically put one orange and one lime skin/husk in while cooking. oregano/cumin measurements are a liberal cover. Oh, I’ve also gotten to replacing about a cup of the liquid with booze. have tried bourbon and dark beer, both have been fine, former probably better if you’ve got it to spare”

Categories
Photography Portland Uncategorized

Saturday with Lucia

Before we left the house I managed to give her a nice big bottle which knocked her out for a little while. She was getting a kind of fussy as I was preparing for us to leave, but then she fell asleep on my shoulder. When she’s asleep is the best time to sneak a bottle in. Otherwise, she rejects it outright.







After we hit the bank and the post office we walked past a cool mural at FAB PDX down on Distillery Row. I tried to talk her into a few distillery tours, but she told me she only likes tequila, and none of those guys are making that yet.







So we headed down to the water front and checked out the Hawthorne Bridge. You can get right down on the water via these little mini-piers they have set up. They are pretty cool spots, pleasantly undulating in the currents of the water. There were two other guys down there. One was reading and the other was fishing and enjoying a cold one.







After that we headed over to Pioneer Courthouse Square to check out this protest the Radical Left was having this afternoon. The theme was ‘How is the War Economy Working for You?’ Lucia thought it was a bore, and decided to sleep through it. But, you can’t expect a little noodle to understand these kinds of things yet. Her dad wanted to go down because he has a few strong feelings and opinions about what is going on in this country. Unfortunately, I was turned off by the scene. There is a reason these folks are on the fringe. Stoned, disheveled, and crazy isn’t a good look for anybody (except maybe really hot babes, of which there was decidedly none here), let alone folks who are trying to save the world. It just comes off as amateurish, and basically laughable, which is how most people I overheard passing by on the street read the event.







I’m sure this could sway a few minds, though:







After that we headed over to Powell’s to pick up a few books. Bringing a stroller into that place is not advisable, but we stopped giving a damn about people’s opinions of stroller pushers a few months ago. People melt when they see this baby, anyway, lol! She slept through this particular nightmare shopping experience. We bought the Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty. We love Ottolenghi around here these days. Fabulous, fresh and and easy seasonal recipes abound! Highly recommended!! We also got a copy of the latest GRANTA, this quarters theme being ALIENS (the illegal or otherwise immigrant kind, mainly) then got the hell out of there, and back down to the water-front. Lucia was getting antsy for a bottle by this point, but she has a pretty sophisticated palette, and scoffed when I offered her a bottle of cold milk. We were lamping in front of the Steel Bridge as she rejected my meager offering.







On our way back to the house Daddy decided to check this bombed-out warehouse in the SE Industrial District.







Lucia thought it would be funny to re-enact the scene from Tropic Thunder where Tugg Speedman gets riddled with bullets running back to the helicopter. Not really sure what brought that on, but we went with it. She’s a funny bird.







Speaking of funny, Lucia couldn’t get enough of the Sunshine Room, even after I told her that this is where heroin-chic junkies ascend to the outer-realms. I made her promise she’d never wear neon-orange lipstick, unless she grew up to be eccentric and rich.







This is when it finally dawned on her where daddy had taken her:



Categories
Uncategorized

Head-to-Toe Mailing Products

I’ve decided to ramp up my presence on Zazzle, and thus far, I am most satisfied with this Pig’s Head Postage Stamp. About every 4 or 5 months I get a check from them for 50 bucks or so because people in Australia seem to love the bacon shoes I designed and posted a couple years ago. So I thought, Why not stick some bacon on some other shit? That’s what I’ve been doing today, along with some other designs revolving mainly around beets. Heh, what the hell, right?

Categories
Uncategorized

Sunday Morning Cheeseburger





I’ll consider my mortality on Monday.

Categories
Kids!

Glo Mobile





In regards to getting a mobile up, I wouldn’t say that I’m a lazy parent, so much as a particular one. I vetoed all the rest because i wasn’t try to crank that horrid lullaby every time. Then our friend Jenn gave us a blank one outfitted with a bunch of roach clips, so I stuck my collection of glo-worms on it. Lucia is losing her mind in glo-worm land right now. Thanks, Jenn!



In other news, it may have been legal to literally bleach children white in the mid-80’s:



Categories
Food Carts Portland Uncategorized

Food Cart Fridays: The Pie Spot





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.



Categories
Cooking Uncategorized

I Am Not Fried Boloney Sandwich





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.

Categories
Foodcarts Portland

Food Cart Fridays: Fuego de Lotus





Fuego de Lotus specializes in arepas, a traditionally handheld street food originating in Venezuala. I was originally introduced to them while watching an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network. Essentially they are small, deep fried rounds made of masa harina, a very finely ground corn flour, that are then stuffed with your choice of ingredients. I thought they sounded great as a drunken snacky kind of food, and so I made some a while back in anticipation of being drunken and wanting some. I remember following a recipe that I found through Cook’s Illustrated (which I was more or less addicted to as I was learning to cook, and therefore trusted) that called for a chicken and avocado filling. I made that and one other filling that I can’t recall right now. In any case, they were delicious–creamy pockets with a crisp exterior bursting with an abundance of fresh flavors. I made about a dozen. I didn’t make enough. Once I heard about this cart specializing in arepas I was eager to taste the wares. Well, what can I say? It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was still very good. However, I will stipulate that we both ordered plates and not a stand alone arepa, which may have been more in line with my preconceived notions of arepadom.







I ordered a plate with chorizo sausage. All plates are $9 and come standard with an arepa, black beans, rice, red cabbage salad, fried plantains, and cotija cheese. The plates were well composed and balanced; the chirozo was medium spicy, and well seasoned, the rice and black beans cooked perfectly, with the vinegary cabbage rounding out the flavors, and providing a nice counter weight to everything else on the plate. I wish more people would include a simple item such as this to their dishes at food carts–something to go to in order to cleanse the palate and start a new cycle of bites. It really makes the meal so much more enjoyable.



This is tough. My only gripe is with the arepa! While it was crispy and savory, I would argue that it was too much so. It wasn’t light and moist on the inside, but rather dense, almost solid. I tried to make an arepa sandwich with it and everything just evacuated the premises when I tried to squeeze it together. I ended up using it to scoop and bite, which I didn’t mind so much as it just wasn’t what I wanted. I feel like I am greatly exaggerating the importance of this, though, because I was still very satisfied with the dish as a whole.







Gabrielle ordered the plate with chicken verde. As you can see, it is virtually identical with the exception of the meats. The chicken verde was flavorful and well spiced. I think I liked it a bit more than the chorizo, but I only tried a bite or two. Gabrielle agrees with me about the arepas, and prefers them they way I made them that one time. However, this difference isn’t enough to keep from going back. On the contrary, we would definitely return, but we might just ask to have the arepas fried a bit less.







http://fuegodelotus.com/



Located at 32nd & Division in Portland, OR at the D-Street Noshery

Categories
Uncategorized

Dead Ringer





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

Categories
Uncategorized

Moutarde de Gangsta





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.