Weekend: Happy 2017

Big Sky. Beauty. All you wish for.


Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes: Braised Pulled Pork BBQ & Creamy Corn Polenta

I grew up with a mom who was a fan of pressure cooking. This was back in Russia. No, I don't have any stories of explosions to report. For one reason or the other, however, I did not start using a pressure cooker until earlier this year. I just never thought to buy one. And then one showed up at my door.

So far I've used it to make beans, ribs, pulled pork and chicken tikka masala. This weekend I added two more recipes to my repertoire. Both of the recipes, Braised Pulled Pork BBQ and Creamy Corn Polenta, come from Bren Herrera's new cookbook Modern Pressure Cooking. I received a preview copy of the book for the blog. All opinions are my own as always. 

You could read the book and learn about pressure cooking, pick up tips and techniques, and plan an entire menu made in a pressure cooker, or you could page through and choose a few recipes and jump in. Guess which one I chose!? :)

It's funny that a Jewish girl chose to make a pork recipe. But then I've never kept kosher. I decided to make the Braised Pulled Pork BBQ and serve it with Creamy Corn Polenta. My original plan was to make both recipes in the same day, but it turned out a bit much. I ended up making the pork on Saturday (first night of Hanukkah...oy), and serving it over freshly made polenta on Sunday. 

Braised Pulled Pork BBQ
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups diced Spanish onion (large dice)
1 cup diced green bell pepper (large dice)
2 Roma tomatoes, cut into large dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 1/3 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano {I did not have it, so left it out}
1 cup chicken stock
3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, skin off, cut into 3" pieces

Place all of the ingredients except the pork in a large mixing bowl and mix well with a spoon or spatula. Using tongs, place the pork in the pressure cooker. Ladle all of the sauce over the pork. Do not stir. Close the lid.

For the electric pressure cooker: Use the meat/poultry setting, or set to high pressure (10-12 PSI) and 45 minutes.

When done, turn off the cooker and allow the pressure to release on its own, 10 to 12 minutes.

Here's what I did after opening the pressure cooker: take out pieces of pork and let them cool slightly. Then using two forks, pull the meat apart on a cutting board. Get rid of all the fat!!! This will take a while.

Pour the sauce with the vegetables into another bowl and let it cool. Remove as much fat as you can. Then put the pulled pork into the bowl. 

I found it best to make this recipe the day before serving it. The flavors mingle and intensify and you can remove even more fat once the entire dish has been in the refrigerator over night.

Creamy Corn Polenta
Serves 4 to 6

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup milk, plus 1/2 cup
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal (noninstant)
2 teaspoons sugar (I did not use it)
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh
1/2 teaspoon achiote oil (optional: I used chili oil)
1 cup corn, canned (drained) or fresh
2 tablespoons salted cultured butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (I used quite a bit more)

Add all the liquid, except the 1/2 cup of milk, to the pressure cooker and stir. Bring to a very light boil using the saute setting, about 3 minutes. {I used meat setting on mine.}

For electric pressure cooker: Set to high pressure (10-12 PSI) and 8 minutes total. I could not figure out how to do this on my model, and used rice setting instead.

Once all the pressure is out, open the cooker. Gently stir in the corn, remaining 1/2 milk and butter. Season with salt. Serve immediately.

Both the recipes were straight forward. Bren provided directions for both the electric and the stove-top pressure cookers. My condo smelled incredible! I served the pork directly over the polenta topped with corn kernels, red onion and cilantro. It was such a comfort meal, and I'm having leftovers for lunch today.

Don't be scared of pressure cooking. Use this book as a guide to make everything from beans to tongue (!!!!) to flan!


Weekend Flowers

Have a festive weekend whatever it is you are celebrating! 


Weekend Inspiration: Sparkle

Wishing you a sparkling weekend! 


Taco Tuesday + Travel Tuesday = Austin Report

Today's post is all about Taco Tuesday and Travel Tuesday!

Oh what I would not give for some breakfast tacos! Writing this quick post brings back awesome memories of spending Thanksgiving in Austin with Anna and Kate. Special shout out to Naomi for excellent food recommendations!

This was my second time in Austin and I was looking forward to good food, good company, and low key time. I got it all and more.

Our first taco stop was at Torchy's. It was fun sitting outside, listening to the birds, and discussing the day's plans over tacos, Mexican corn {off the cob} and one of the best spicy guacamole I've had in a while. This was also the first place I've discovered Topo Chico. {Photo above.}

The photo below is from a taco place we visited twice: Las Trancas. Good food at super low prices, good service, music, spicy salsa. What else do you need? Definitely go for tongue tacos, barbacoa and vegetarian!

For something with more ambiance, go for al fresco lunch at El Alma. I had a fish taco with a side of Bloody Mary and mango fresca, chips and salsa and ceviche. That's where the new blog header comes from too. Don't leave this restaurant without trying their tres leches cake.

And finally, Tamale House East. Yes, despite the name, this restaurant with a super cute outdoor space has tacos! We were surprised that tacos were served in flour tortillas {I prefer corn}, so I mostly ate the insides with a fork. A combination of black beans, avocado, and bacon was great. As was the potato/egg/cheese taco. We also tried one of their tamales with mole sauce.

And for some great news, looks like I would not have to go back to Austin to get my taco craving satisfied: my friend Anna is opening Taqueria Del Barrio right in DC! Cannot wait.


Weekend Vibes: Pantone 2017 Color of the Year

Pantone announced its color of the year for 2017 and I could not be happier. It's called Greenery and it's a bright, happy-looking, and vibrant green. Never mind that the name sounds close to an ex boyfriend's last name, this color has been my favorite for years.

If you've been to my condo, you know my kitchen is a bright apple green color.

This color is also something I love in plants, doors, my wallet and handbag.

I think this is the perfect time to look at some greenery and get excited for the weekend ;)


Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Chorizo "Lasagna"

Love leftovers?
Love lasagna?
Love cheese?
Love a casserole?
Well, then you MUST make my Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Chorizo "Lasagna!"

I made this dish a few weeks ago and froze most of it after having a few servings because 1) it's pretty decadent and there's no need for me to eat this 4 times in a row 2) this is a great dish to freeze and have over a few weeks when you need a random lunch or dinner 3) when you come back from a vacation to an empty refrigerator, it's nice to have a full meal in the freezer.

I don't have any hate for noodles, but sometimes it's fun and more nutritious to play around with other ingredients. In this case, I roasted disks of butternut squash and sweet potatoes and used them instead of noodles to layer this "lasagna." You can choose to use all butternut squash or all sweet potatoes, or even add a few layers of lasagna noodles.

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Chorizo "Lasagna"
Serves 4-6

"trunk" part of butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1/4" thick slices {use the bottom part of the butternut squash, where the seeds are, for something else}
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4" thick slices
olive oil
salt & pepper
10 ounces Mexican chorizo, browned
24 ounces tomato sauce {I used Terlato Kitchen Pomodoro because the company sent me a few samples: I'm not being paid for mentioning them}
3 cups full fat ricotta
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons adobo sauce {leave out if you don't like spicy food}
2.5 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup panko crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Coat sliced butternut squash and sweet potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer for 10 minutes on each side.
2. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the bottom of a baking dish {I used 8x10 inch rectangular Le Creuset}
3. Add an overlapping layer of roasted vegetables.
4. Add 1/2 of chorizo.
5. Mix together ricotta with an egg, thyme leaves, adobo sauce and salt and pepper. Add half of the mixture on top of chorizo.
6. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella.
7. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce.
8. I'm getting tired of typing this ;)
layer of roasted vegetables
the rest of chorizo
the rest of ricotta
1 cup of mozzarella
the rest of the sauce
NOW combine the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella with the panko crumbs and top your concoction
9. Lower the oven temperature to 350F and bake your lasagna for 30 minutes. As an option: put it under the broiler for a few extra minutes.
10. Allow the lasagna to "chill out" for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.

1. Leave out chorizo for a completely vegetarian dish
2. Feel free to use more cheese
3. You may have some roasted vegetables leftover. No worries: eat them for another meal.


Meatless Monday: Ricotta With Radishes And Marcona Almonds

I love avocado toast. But it's rare to find avocados that are perfectly ripe exactly when you want to eat them. Also, I've been trying to cut down on carbs, which makes the "toast" part somewhat problematic.

Still, occasionally I crave something smooth and decadent with a bit of heat (in avocado toast I add sriracha!). That's how this Ricotta With Radishes And Marcona Almonds idea came about. You get the creamy ricotta, which has zero need to ripen, the crunch or radishes, similar to a toasted piece of bread, and a drizzle of chili oil instead of sriracha, with a few extras thrown in.

1) using a fork, vigorously whip ricotta in a bowl
2) spoon ricotta onto a shallow plate or a board, or if you desire a toasted baguette slice
3) drizzle with chili oil
4) top with radishes, Marcona almonds, celery leaves
5) sprinkle with Black Truffle Sea Salt {shout out to San Francisco Salt Co for sending me a few samples}

This makes a great side salad, light lunch or an appetizer.


Cheers to the weekend

TGIF. I'm no longer in Austin, but I have plans for good friends and food this weekend. And perhaps some laundry.

Hope you do too!