Sunday, May 31, 2015

Berries with Balsamic Vinegar and Pepper (A Fast Dessert) #WholeFoods #Giveaway


My favorite Spring dessert is berries. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries; they all  make me thing Spring. As their prices fall and they are sourced from places closer to me, they seem to become tastier. Whole Foods is one of my favorite places to find fresh berries. When looking for strawberries I try to find those that are all red, not those that have white tops. You know the ones, I'm talking about, don't you? The kind that looked like they use suncreen, but missed  one spot?

Blueberries are my faves. I love the plump berries, covered in a white haze. They develop that haze to protect them form the sun. To me, that means they must be ripe, because that is what good berries look like. You want them to shake around in their package which means they aren't moldy and clumped together, but you don't want them shriveled, which means they are old and dry.

I never wash my berries until I am ready to serve them. I always store them in the refrigerator and I always eat them as soon as possible. That's never very hard because it always seems I am grabbing a handful to put in my mouth. Zoe was the notorious berry stealer. That girl packs them away and I can never have enough berries to please her.


Today is Sunday, the last day of May. I don't know about you but Sundays are busy for me. In Denver we've been waiting for our weather to improve; translate that to no rain- and yesterday and today are those days! I've been working on yard projects and trying to catch us up for the season. Yesterday I finally was able to clean off the deck and put out some new cushions. I must tell you that we really scored on a new power washer. We found it for less than half price at Tuesday Morning! We also found two deck chairs that work perfectly for sitting in the yard-if I ever get to sit!

Why am I telling you this? Well, all that busy work keeps me from the kitchen, though that doesn't have to stop me from eating dessert. In these cases, this simple berry dessert is perfect served over ice cream or yogurt, or even with a spoonful of creme fraiche. The use of vinegar and pepper may sound odd, but combined with the sweetness of the berries makes a very refreshing, healthy dessert. Plus it is fast, which makes it perfect on a busy day.

And for a few more berry recipes, check out my links and the Whole Foods website.

Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift card to help fill your basket. This post is sponsored by Whole Foods but all opinions expressed are mine. Open only to US residents. No compensation has been given but products have been provided. Giveaway closes on June 30th, 2015Subscribe if you don't want to miss the announcement of the winner in July to see if you won! Winner will be chosen by a Random Number Generator! 

How to Enter:


· Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me your favorite ways to use berries!
· Enter twice by subscribing to This is How I Cook
· Enter again by following me on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter or on Instagram.



Berries with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper
Serves 2
Time to Make: 5 Minutes

Ingredients:
1 pint raspberries
4 strawberries
Handful of blueberries
1 T good balsamic vinegar
3 T brown sugar
2-3 grinds of fresh black pepper
Ice cream, creme fraiche, yogurt

Directions:
I usually start these before I prepare dinner so that the berries have a chance to macerate. Wash your berries of choice and combine with vinegar and sugar. Before serving add a few fresh grinds of pepper. (You can adjust this to your liking, but this is a good, basic recipe and even tastes great with shortcake!)

Other Berry Desserts:
Raspberry Crumble Tart
Blueberry Chicken Pesto Salad
Black Pepper Strawberry Jam
5 Minute Raspberry Rose Jam
Strawberry Spiral Biscuit Pie
Triple Berry Hand Pies
Blackberry, Blueberry, Basil and Browned Butter Cobbler
White Chocolate, Blueberry Brownies



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Libby Cocktail with Iced Tea Vodka and St Germain + an 80th Birthday Celebration


I've been holding out on you. If I've seen a bit distant, it's because I've felt a bit distant. Really. Since the beginning of February, I've been a party planner. At least a party planner for one party that took countless hours to plan. You see my father decided he wanted to have a surprise party for my mother's 80th birthday. He had never given her a surprise party and I guess that is one thing he wanted to cross off his bucket list. So I feel like my second job has been party planning. Not that I mind. It was a lot of fun. It also required a lot of patience and since the party was in Phoenix it required a lot of faith. Well, we celebrated my mom's birthday on Saturday and I must say it was the first time I ever saw her speechless. My dad was in 7th heaven that he pulled it off.


I am now in perfect party planning mode for the upcoming bridal shower we are planning for a friend. That will be so much easier because it will be in our backyard and I will do the cooking. The first issue we had to resolve for my mom's celebration was where to have the party. After looking at all the major resorts my father decided that he wasn't giving a wedding; he was giving a party and once we decided on Soul Cafe (one of my parent's favorite restaurants), the planning became a whole lot easier. Sheila was so easy to work with; not like all the stick in the mud resorts. She allowed my creativity to shine and was open to any menu ideas and recipes. Her staff was the huggy, warm kind and they outdid themselves Saturday night.

So how does one give an 80th surprise party? Very carefully! My brothers, family and Dad were so careful to watch what we said; which meant I couldn't let you in on my secret life because my mother does read this blog. Sorry I haven't been posting like usual, but this took a lot of planning. With my cousin and Aunt's help we actually had a really fun party. I love details so I think you will see some of them in the photos. I didn't get to take as many photos as I wanted but at least they convey the mood. We had great paper decorations that I found on Etsy and had shipped from Israel of all places. I hung tissue paper flowers from the Palo Verdes tree in the courtyard and we had two gigantic orange balloons that also were major focal points. The tassel garlands were so festive hanging on the head table. I think all the happy colors put everyone in a great mood. The flowers were fabulous and perfectly matched the paper goods. The hot pink votives really made the tables glow. The ribbons around the napkins added extra color and the name cards were fun and carefully placed. Zoe did a play list of oldies and goodies and though we couldn't hear them well they still added to the ambiance.


The menu consisted of many of Mom's junk food favorites and Sheila even made a raspberry cake from her past when I supplied the recipe, but personally I like her chocolate cupcakes better. Well, really I liked the homemade potato chips and onion dip even more! All the food was served family style which I think makes for a more casual atmosphere. The most fun part of the evening in my opinion, was the homemade fortune cookies, also found on Etsy. I wrote 48 different fortunes and everyone had to stand and read them to my mother before we left. It  ended the party on a high note and I can't wait to adapt this idea to other events. Not only were the cookies pretty, they also tasted fabulous!  Fortunately Yours was the best! We also sent everyone home with bags of caramel corn from Garrett's in Chicago, because my mom loves caramel corn.


Below is the speech I gave for mom:

Well, Mom. We got you good this time and on a momentous occasion like this, there are a few things worth remembering. I know your mind is probably not as clear as mine, (after all, I am younger), so travel back in time with me if you will.

First let me mention that I am writing this in pen. I haven't written anything in pen in a long time except for the occasional check. You probably still write in pen-because you are old. Whoops. 80 years young to be politically correct. Whoops! no politics at this party for fear of offending the wrong side!

So on to our back in time adventure. Next to Dad, Aunt Shirley and Aaron, I believe I have know you the longest. Which means I am old, too. But not as old as you. This means you have loved me longer than people like my brothers, which of course must mean you love me the most!

Being the only girl and the oldest also means I'm there for all those special moments in your life. I'm there to help move you. I'm there to help care for you. I'm there to help plan this party. It means I've got your back, Mom. just like you've had mine all these years.

Being your daughter means I've had special bathroom moments with you that my brothers never did. My mornings began as I walked into the bathroom and saw you on the pot with a lit cigarette. You said not a word to me until you had the first cup of coffee which was waiting for you in the kitchen. As you exited the bathroom you left me pondering the meaning of my existence and what actually was my place in the world. Two things were accomplished in this bathroom moment. #1 I've never had a desire to smoke and #2 I've never figured out my reason for being.

Being the only girl allowed me to raid your closet for the latest fashions. You always had the trendiest stuff and looking back at your old photos I realize what a trend setter you were and WHAT A POSER! I also raided your lingerie drawer but not for the lingerie. We all know you had a GIANT Hershey's bar with almonds hidden in its depths. No, it wasn't me that discovered this, it was my brother David.

Being the only girl also allowed me to watch as you created yourself in the bathroom before an evening out-of which you had many. I witnessed those special moments as you wiggled yourself into a girdle with garters and later tummy control panty hose. You then applied blue eye makeup, eye liner and doused yourself in Shalimar, which I believed help rid the bathroom of smoke. All this was done while Dad patiently waited for you. You were always late and I presume it is because you wanted to make a grand entrance.

And what an entrance you made tonight. It will not be forgotten. Dad called a few months ago and said the one thing he had never done was throw you a surprise party. I believe he finally achieved his goal.

Being your child gave me an appreciation of all things fine. Alex would say that you probably started the "Finer Things Club". Fine wine, fine food, fine art, books, travel and music are important to you. Thank you for helping me achieve the "culture" you always felt was important.

In your own way you have given me a love of Judaism and that is still a big part of my life. I am thankful for that. You have shown me what a good man is without saying a word. You have shown me that even though a Virgo is known for being fussy, fastidious, harsh, conservative and judgmental, they are also intelligent, practical and reliable. All good skills for being a mother.

In conclusion, I can only hope to live to 80. I can only hope my life is half as good as yours appears to be. I can only hope that the next 80 years are better than the first. Being a mother is not easy. I'm grateful that you made it look easy for the last 57 years, well, except of course for those Virgo moments. I'm grateful you are my mom. Happy Birthday!

 and the fortunes:



 Last, but not least Manservant and I created a cocktail which we called "The Libby",  named after my mom. It combined St. Germain, iced tea vodka and lemon. Let me tell you these slide easily down your throat and went perfectly with our picnic style meal. This is the perfect summer drink, but be careful. They go down easy! OK. I know this is a super long post, but I must document history! It is hard to make my mom speechless!


The Libby (Serves 1)
Ingredients:
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz St. Germain
2 oz Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka (we did some taste comparisons with these)
2 drops grapefruit bitters
Club soda to taste

Directions:
Stir into a tall Collins glass. (We used a 14 oz glass.) Fill with ice cubes. Add club soda to rim sand garnish with a lemon slice.

Other fun drinks and nibbles:
St Germain Arnold Palmers
St Germain Lemon Aid
The Gardener Cocktail
Saigon Crunch Chex Mix
Buttery Garlic Parmesan Potato Chips
3 Ingredient Artichoke Dip

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Raspberry Crumble Tart


Lately I feel like I've been thinking in the color gray. Denver has been inundated with rain. And more rain. And then a few more thunder showers just for variety. I came to Denver years ago and one of the reasons I stayed was because of the sunny, dry days. I am not used to gray days which might be the reason I have been so attracted to all things spring, particularly in the grocery store. Green peas, red radishes, olive colored artichokes, beets in yellows and reds, Swiss chard in all its glory, but oh my-the berries. Red luscious strawberries and perfect crimson raspberries, purple blueberries and giant blackberries just sing Spring to me.

Recently I had the boyfriend for dinner and what a glorious dinner it was. Just sayin'. I made crab cakes which are my perennial spring favorite, and a layered potato tart that I will have to make again, just so I can share with you, and so I can eat it all myself. It was simply divine. Dessert was this fabulous berry crumble tart that can be made with your favorite type of berry. I've been making it since 1981 which says something for staying power, does it not?

I had planned to use the raspberries for my favorite raspberry rose jam that is super simple to make and requires less time than making this tart. But alas, I didn't get to it so I decided to use raspberries in combination with blueberries to make a berrylicious tart. I loved how the blueberries rose to the top, but when you sliced into it, there was a glorious pink filling.


Driscoll berries are the best. Trust me, I know. I have my own raspberry patch and am always fighting off Japanese beetles and rabbits to get to them. Not to mention the thorns and the wee little bushes that sprout up into the grass make growing raspberries, shall I say challenging? Truth be told, I don't know why I don't take them out. Trust me, my dear friend Driscoll, supplements me because it seems I never have enough raspberries at one time to make anything with. I usually throw them in fruit salad or eat them straight from the patch.


My life has been in a bit of chaos lately. Spring seems to make me feel rushed. Between spring cleaning and yard cleaning, I always feel overwhelmed. I need a break and this tart does it for me. The crust easily becomes the crumble, by using the same mixture and adding an egg. The crispy, almost brulee like topping, welcomes whipped cream or ice cream as an added luxury. Take it from me. Give yourself a break. Cut yourself a slice of tart and sit back and enjoy it. The boyfriend did. Manservant did. And then he even did the dishes.


Raspberry Crumble Tart (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Time to make: About 20 minutes
Time to bake: About 45 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 c sugar plus 2 T sugar
1/4 t salt
1 stick butter chilled
1 1/4 c flour
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 c Greek yogurt
2 T cream or milk
2 t vanilla
2 c of raspberries
2 c of fresh blueberries (or use all raspberries or blueberries or any other berry!)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine 3/4 c sugar and salt. Cut in the butter, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the flour. Set aside 1/2 the mixture. Add cinnamon, baking powder and 1 egg to the other half. Mix until blended. Press into the bottom of a 9" tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the pastry is baking, whisk together 1/4 c of the sugar, the remaining egg, the yogurt, cream or milk and the extract. Remove the pastry from oven and cover with berries. Spread the yogurt mixture over the fruit and sprinkle with the reserved butter-flour mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 T of sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes, though this may take longer. When it is almost finished, if the top is still not brown, I brown this under the broiler to give it a creme brulee like crust. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Disclosure: Driscoll did send me coupons to try their berries, but all opinions are my own.


Other berry dishes:



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mandel Bread: Cinnamon Sugar or Chocolate, Apricot and Earl Grey


Hidden treasures are kept in shoe boxes. For some that might mean their favorite Jimmy Choo's or their collectible Nike's. Others keep love letters and hidden secrets. Kids keep their marble collections, Lego's or doll clothes. In my Omi's shoebox was Mandel bread, laden with cinnamon sugar and hidden between layers of wax paper. The box was brought out with tea served in tea cups, not mugs; thank you very much. We gingerly passed around the box and carefully chose a slice of Jewish biscotti.

Yes, Mandel bread is a type of biscotti and what came first? Italian biscotti or Jewish Mandel Bread? I don't know. Mandel Bread is not as crisp as biscotti, because of its higher oil content, but is baked in the same way. First the loaf of bread is baked, then sliced, then toasted on each side. It may take a bit of time, but the best part about Mandel Bread is that they age well. Well, that is if you can keep them around long enough.


Recently I attended a Bar Mitzvah in Chicago and sure enough Mandel Bread made their appearance. They reminded me of visits with my grandfather and Omi. They reminded me of walking into the apartment entrance and the numerous smells of everyone's cooking greeted us. They reminded me of plastic covered furniture and  the dining room chairs pulled out, so everyone had a place to sit. Mandel bread reminded me of family photographs hanging on walls and my Papa's ribbed tank t-shirts. I even remember his muscles. My Papa had muscles.

Mandel bread reminded me of Sunday night, when we all went a visiting. I loved Sunday nights. Sometimes it seemed like a chore, but looking back brought up many fond memories in the memory bank. I'm only sorry that my family has never lived close enough for Sunday night visits. It was a good tradition and had a way of bringing us together in that tangled knot called family.


Mandel Bread was originally called Mandelbrot which was an almond bread. It was common in Eastern European countries but its precise origin remains unknown. It isn't overly sweet and it keeps well. It is perfect with tea and I presume coffee. It is easily dunked. Commonly made with dried fruit and chunks of chocolate and coated in cinnamon sugar, Mandel Bread is the perfect cookie for that lazy part of the day. It is a cookie meant to be eaten slowly.

I had never made Mandel Bread before last week. It is now on its way to my Zoe who is spending all her free time studying to take her CFA exam. It is meant to revive her when her brain starts falling asleep. Yes, it travels well. I always picture a shoe box of it sailing along with my Papa and family on the great ship Normandy, as they made their journey here in 1938. I don't know if it did, but it sounds good eh?

And now my stores of Mandel Bread are seriously depleted. I kept them in a big Zip Lock bag, but it just didn't seem the same. I want a shoe box for my Mandel Bread. I want them kept like treasure between sheets of waxed paper. I must go shopping for a new pair of shoes.



 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After serious research, I found that most Mandel bread recipes are very similar. Some are made with butter, but most are made with oil, so that they can be served with dairy or meat meals. Some don't have a coating of cinnamon sugar, but in my opinion those are missing something. There are many versions with various dried fruits and I came up with one using Earl Grey tea, apricots and chunks of chocolate. I love the traditional, but I think the Earl Grey variety could quickly become my new standard!

The nuts can be varied to suit your taste. I normally would have used walnuts, but I was out. I used pecans instead. You might want almonds.


Cinnamon Sugar Mandel Bread
Makes About 48
Time To Make: About 45 minutes
Time to Bake: About 45 minutes
Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 c sugar
1/4 lb melted butter or 1 c oil (I used oil)
1 t vanilla or almond extract
1 Earl Grey tea bag contents (optional)
3 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 c chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds
3/4 c chocolate chips
1/3 c cinnamon chips (if you an find them are also good in cinnamon version)
1/2 c dried apricots cut into small pieces (optional)
For sprinkling:
1 t cinnamon mixed with 1/2 cup of sugar OR
1/2 of contents of an Earl Grey teabag mixed with 1/2 c sugar
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine eggs and sugar. (A mixer is not needed but be prepared to stir.) Add oil and vanilla and mix well. Add flour and baking powder.  Stir well and add nuts, and chocolate. Dough may be sticky.
At this point I divided my dough in half so that I could make two versions. The first is traditional and you may add cinnamon chips to that. If you want the Earl Grey version, mix in the tea and the apricots.
Now divide dough into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into an 8 to 10" loaf about 4" wide. Roll in the appropriate sugar. Place on parchment lined pans and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cut each loaf into about 12 slices. Cover each slice in appropriate sugar. Place on baking sheet cut side down. Bake 5 minutes and remove from oven. Turn over to bake other side for another 5 minutes. Now get your shoe box and store these for your next cup of tea!

More Omi Recipes:
German Apple Pancake
No Eggs Potato Kugel
Ilse's Passover Mocha Nut Cake
Spritz Cookies




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Migas Scrambled Eggs with Tortilla Chips and Chorizo


May conjures up memories; in particular end of school memories. Let's face it. May always ended up in a blur. And then it was over. School was out and we all took a deep breath and breathed a big sigh of relief. It always seemed teachers would cram every possible thing that didn't get finished, into the last few weeks of school. I love teachers, but as a parent May was the month I cursed them.

May was also the month that every  music teacher had a recital and every sports team had a tournament and churches and temples planned end of the year events, and then there were graduations and theater performances. As they grew, we added in prom and finals and award nights. This craziness never included things like getting the yard ready for summer and making sure all summer activities were planned.

And YES! I almost forgot. Mother's Day. Somewhere in all the chaos we are supposed to celebrate the reason of our children's existence. Yes. The Mother. OK. Fathers get their day, too. And they get it when summer has begun. When summer is still fresh and no one is bored. And the mothers can actually cook. Well, at least in this family.


So Mother's Day it is. I miss Mother's Day with my children. Even with all the chaos, we celebrated. The morning always began with a needle pointed tray (made by my beloved grandmother, Ilse), delivered to my bed. The tray was filled with fresh orange juice and a freshly made omelet and the one red tulip that grows outside our front door. The meal was determined by what I had in the house, so if I wanted something GOOD, I learned to have all the prerequisites on hand.

Then came presents, which in later years were usually bedding plants. Yeah. You know the rest. The day involved the planting of the flower boxes and the cutting of the lawn and the hosing of the deck, so that summer could officially arrive. The best part was that the kids always helped. I could guarantee that Mother's Day was the one day that found us all working in the yard. Now I am not a big fan of yard work, but that day, yard work always seemed so easy.

Well, this year isn't going to be like that. The kids will not be home. I will miss them.They will miss me. Of course, they will miss me. Zoe will remember who taught her to make an omelet. (It wasn't me.) Alex will probably remember the trips to buy flowers and the washing of the dishes. I will still lay in bed and read the paper. I'll let Manservant let the dogs out and feed the puppy and give Freddie her medicine. And then maybe I'll get up and make these eggs. And pray for rain.

________________________________________________________________________________

These eggs have had many lives. I always had ingredients on hand so I could whip up a skillet for whoever might wake up in our home each weekend. It was always a surprise to me! They are great for using up leftover stale tortilla chips. This recipe can easily be adjusted to serve more. This recipe as written could be written with 8 eggs instead of 4 and serve 4-8 people. You could use bacon, ham or the chorizo. You can leave them all out. Your choice. Feel free to add in red peppers, cheddar cheese, green onions, jalapenos. What ever. These are the perfect quick eggs for a crazy morning.


Migas Scrambled Eggs
Serves 4-8
Total Time: About 20 minutes

Ingredients:
5-6 oz chorizo
1/2 c chopped onions
4 - 8 eggs (see notes above)
1/4 t each of oregano, garlic powder, Lawry's seasoning salt
2 oz cream cheese cubed
1/2 c green chilies choped
1/4 c  chopped cilantro
1/2 c of your favorite salsa
2 handfuls of your favorite tortilla chips
Garnishes such as avocado, green onion, tomatoes, olives some grated cheese

Directions:
In cast iron or non stick skillet, brown chorizo over medium heat. Stir and smush into tiny bits. (Your pan should contain enough grease to finish the recipe. If not add a touch of butter.) Stir in onions and saute until softened. Whisk eggs with seasonings. Over medium low heat, stir in eggs. After eggs are cooked slightly, add cream cheese and cilantro. Let cream cheese melt in a bit, while stirring. When eggs are almost set, stir in salsa and tortilla chips. Cook until desired consistency is reached. Garnish as desired.

Other Mother's Day recipes:
Colorado's Best Hash
Everything but the Bagel Scrambled Eggs
Strawberry Crepes
Belgian Liege Waffles
Frozen Cheese Souffle
Overnight Mexican Egg Casserole

And check out my new Mexican collection under recipe collection.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Carnitas


Today is May Day! (Well, it was when I wrote this, but this pup is keeping me busy! And it was a big event in Geordie's life. After all, one ear went up!)


 As children we used to gather pretty purple lilacs and yellow forsythias, tie them with ribbon, ring the neighbor's front door bell, whereupon they would open the door to find, probably some dead flowers. I don't know why we started doing this and I don't know how many years we did it for, but yes, we were the May Day flower delivery service. I'm sure my mother probably suggested it to keep us busy, but we had fun doing it.

Fast forward a lot of years and I found May Day was still celebrated big time at the college Zoe attended. They had huge May Day celebrations, complete with parades and games and May poles and I know, some libations. What a perfect way to get ready for finals, is the way I looked at it. She loved the tradition, and I don't blame her. Traditions are familiar and easy to recognize and always ready to be repeated.

Though we never celebrated Cinco de Mayo, it is a tradition that is big time in Denver. A big affair is always held in Downtown Denver, but Manservant isn't big on festivals. Bummer, I know.  In any case, this has never stopped us from eating Mexican food. As a child,  Mexican food hardly graced my plate, except for the time my mother brought home hard taco shells from the grocery. I don't recall liking them. My father believes it doesn't matter what you order in a Mexican restaurant
because it all looks the same. He still eats it though!


Fast forward to college where I spent my freshman year at Arizona State. Yes, that is where I discovered Mexican food. I recall a girlfriend taking me to some dark restaurant where she proceeded to tell me to order a chimichanga. Soon this fried giant egg roll appeared, stuffed with ground beef and covered in sour cream around its tremendous girth. Ooh. I was in heaven; Mexican food heaven. I then quickly discovered a cheese crisp which is similar to a quesadilla but is crisped with butter and cheese and broiled or baked and served like a giant cheese pizza. I've never seen them in Denver, but my oh my, they are really good, too.

So for the record, I was hooked. I lost track of how many times I ate chimichangas at that restaurant, whose name has escaped me. I ate a lot of cheese crisps at Dr. Munchie's, a name I never forgot, but alas is no longer there. And I ate a lot of pizza and fried zucchini that year, too. My love affair with Mexican food had begun and then I married a Texan. He has always had a love affair with food South of the border and could eat it every day.

Last weekend in our 4 days that we will have had together out of 27, but who's counting; I took pity on him and made carnitas. I thought he was going to be around -- but no -- only long enough to pick up little Geordie. Manservant loves meat and he loves meat that can be thrown in just about anything. The nice thing about carnitas or Mexican shredded pork, is that you can throw it on a salad, you can mix it in  scrambled eggs, you can top it with eggs. You can use it on a sandwich and add bbq sauce. Quesadillas and nachos make perfect receptacles for carnitas, as do enchiladas. Top a baked potato with carnitas, turn it into Mexican sloppy Joe. Make burrito bowls with rice, beans and salsa. Add some lettuce and you have a Chipotle bowl. What is your favorite way of using carnitas?


Cinco de Mayo is still coming. though I'm sure many celebrated over the weekend. In any case, carnitas are still an excellent entree to serve as part of any Mexican meal. Finally, I've put my Mexican and Mexican influenced recipes on their own page under recipe collections. Take a look. I'm sure there will be something to satisfy any taste!

Carnitas (Braised Pork)
Adapted from Saveur
Serves 8-10
Cook Time: About 3 hrs Time to Prepare: About 30 minutes
Ingredients:
3 T bacon grease, canola oil or lard
3 1/2 lb bone in pork shoulder, cut roughly into 3" chunks
Salt to taste
3/4 c whole milk (I used 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 skim milk)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
6 canned or jarred whole pickled jalapenos plus 1/3 c pickling liquid (I used sliced jalapenos)
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 limes and 2 oranges
1 Bay Leaf
2 T dry oregano

Directions:
Heat oil in a 8 quart Dutch oven over medium high. Season pork with salt. Place chunks into hot oil and turn as needed until brown. Do no crowd you pot. You may need to do this in two batches. Throw the bone in also and brown that. It gives extra flavor. When all chunks are browned put them all in pot. Add milk, garlic, jalapenos and pickling liquid, onion, juices, Bay leaf and oregano.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, covered, until pork is tender; about 2-3 hours. Let pork cool and then transfer meat to a cutting board. Chop/shred into bit size shred. Strain cooking liquid and return to pot. Personally, I think the meat is quite tender and not dry and I prefer to separate the meat from the liquid. If you are heating up all of the meat at once you may want to heat it in the liquid. We keep our meat for all of the uses listed above and feel it is moist enough without the liquid. I used the liquid and cooked hominy in it for a Mexican style posole.

To serve as tostadas: I brushed a cast iron pan with oil and cooked a corn tortilla on both sides until crisp. I then topped it with salsa, carnitas, and cheese. Cover the skillet and the cheese will melt. Serve with garnishes such as avocado or guacamole, sour cream, sliced radishes, cilantro, and hot sauce. Cabbage or shredded lettuce is also great!

For More Great Mexican Recipes:
My Mexican Recipe Collection

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