Braised Pork Cheeks

pork cheeks

I’ve seen beefs cheeks on menus in some very good restaurants, but I can’t recall ever seeking pork checks. When I went to my favorite butcher looking for beef cheeks, which turned out to be unavailable, he suggested pork cheeks instead. I took his suggestion and I’m happy I did.

From a cooking standpoint, beef or pork cheeks are not much different from chuck or shoulder, they’re well-used muscles and need to be tenderized, either with a marinade, slow braising or both. But pork cheeks are one of my very favorite cuts now, because they have a terrific flavor, much better than many other pork cuts.

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Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

blueberry pound cake

As a writer, I love words and one of the things I love most is learning how something familiar earned its name. That’s why I get a smile whenever I think about making this lemon blueberry pound cake — or any pound cake.

Cooks have been making pound cakes almost forever. In his book, Ratio, author Michael Ruhlman cites a recipe from 1747 in which “a pound of eggs is beaten into a pound of butter followed by a pound of flour” then beaten together for an hour, by hand. Hence the name.

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Smoky Mac and Cheese

All Posts, Lunch, Recipes | November 20, 2014 | By

It’s not possible to have a food blog, apparently, without a recipe for Mac and Cheese. It’s a metaphor for comfort food, and there must be as many variations of mac and cheese as there are grains of sand. Maybe more.

I settled on this version as my favorite after a visit to a local restaurant that’s known for its creamy, classic mac and cheese. It was great, but as I sat in the rather noisy joint savoring theirs, I started thinking about how to tailor it even more to my taste. The missing ingredient, I decided was smoke.

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Chocolate Pancakes

Chocolate Pancakes

A few days ago, I posted an orange cranberry muffin recipe and the purpose, in part, was to highlight the idea that there is a close kinship between muffins and pancakes. So here is the other side of that equation. These chocolate pancakes were made using exactly the same base recipe, but swapping cocoa powder for some of the flour and, of course, eliminating the fruit and juice.

I don’t know whether to think of these as a brunch item or a dessert or maybe a brunch dessert. Whatever use you them for, these chocolate pancakes are decadently rich and I suspect very appealing to kids.

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Jambalaya from the Crescent City

jambalaya

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ve spent a little time in New Orleans and have developed a great affinity for the classic Cajun and Creole cooking, especially those dishes like jambalaya, gumbo and etouffee which began life as every day working class meals and have since been elevated by the city’s many fine restaurants.

Like gumbo and etouffee, jambalaya is a one-pot meal that has many variations, often determined by what ingredients happen to be readily available. By some accounts, the name literally means “mish-mash.” While no two jambalaya recipes will be exactly the same, there seem to be three distinct styles: a city or “red” version that is typical of New Orleans and its surroundings, a rural or Creole style, and a “white” version that can be found throughout the South along the gulf coast.

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Baking 101: Orange Cranberry Muffins

orange cranberry muffins

I’ve been cooking for many years, but my interest in baking is fairly recent. One of the key motivators was a book that’s simply called Ratios (author Michael Ruhlman), which explains the science and the practice behind baked treats in a way that opened the door for experimentation and creativity. Now I’m hooked and I thought that with the holidays upon us, this would be a good time to talk about what I’ve learned, starting with these very simple orange cranberry muffins.

It turns out that the baking of everything from crepes through pancakes to angel food cakes involves mostly the same ingredients and the differences lie in just two things, the ratios of the ingredients and the order in which they’re combined (along with the different techniques implied by that order). More amazing is that the formula for muffins, batter breads (quick breads) and pancakes is the same:

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Kashmiri Chicken Curry with Cashews and Raisins

chicken curry

It’s great to live in a very international city, if only because you’re apt to meet and make friends with people from half-way around the world — and their favorite food. This Kashmiri chicken curry developed out of just such a friendship.

For the better part of a summer not long ago, I worked with, and occasionally grabbed a meal with this friend, whose family came from northwest India by way of Georgia. Go figure. He introduced me to Kashmiri curry at one of these lunches, and I’ve been working to duplicate that flavor ever since.

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