Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Melon Gazpacho

This isn't the first time I've made gazpacho, and it certainly won't be the last. I look forward to making this soup every summer.

½ seedless watermelon
½ Santa Claus melon
1 large cucumber
1 large tomato
2 red bell peppers
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1.5 tablespoons salt
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1.5 cups croutons (recipe follows)
Hot sauce to taste (I used Frank’s)

Remove the rind from the watermelon and Santa Claus melon and roughly chop. Peel and deseed the cucumber by cutting it in half lengthwise and using a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Give it a rough chop. Remove the seeds from your tomato, and give it a rough dice. Deseed the peppers and – you guessed it – give it a rough dice. Remove the papery husk from the garlic and dice.

Add all these ingredients to a large bowl along with the vinegar, salt, extra virgin olive oil and croutons. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.

Add half the contents of the bowl to a blender and blend until you have a smooth soup. Repeat with the second half. Taste and season with salt.

To serve:
Basil leaves
Black pepper
Sungold cherry tomatoes, halved
Extra virgin olive oil

Ladle some gazpacho in a bowl and garnish with the remaining ingredients.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed but kept whole
5 sprigs thyme
3.5 cups hearty stale bread

Cut bread into ¾” to 1” cubes. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil and the garlic; when the garlic starts to sizzle, add the bread and thyme. Cook until the bread starts to color (5 to 8 minutes? I wasn’t really paying close attention to how long it took, exactly), but be careful not to burn them. Add 1.5 cups to the gazpacho mixture, and reserve 2 cups (let them cool) for serving.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Puerco Pibil

I first heard about Puerco Pibil from director Robert Rodriguez, who featured his recipe on the DVD extras of Once Upon a Time in Mexico (naturally, you can find this online:

It’s a really fantastic, tangy pulled pork dish with a little bit of kick to it as well. I made a few notable changes to Rodriguez’s recipe: I omitted the tequila (didn’t have any, wasn’t about to buy a bottle for this) as well as the banana leaves. I don’t know if the banana leaves add any flavor, but I suspect they are used as a traditional garnish since in the past this was cooked on coals buried in dirt (pib is Mexican for pit barbecue)

Puerco Pibil:
5 lbs. pork butt, cut into 2-3” cubes
5 tablespoons annatto seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
½ teaspoon whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
2 habanero peppers, deseeded and chopped
½ cup orange juice
½ cup cider vinegar
8 garlic cloves, diced
6 limes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt

Use a spice grinder to grind the annatto seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper, cloves and allspice into a powder.

In the container of a blender add the orange juice, cider vinegar, habaneros, diced garlic, brown sugar, salt, spice blend from the grinder and brown sugar. Juice the limes into the mixture as well.

Blend to liquefy, and add the marinade into a large Ziploc bag along with the cubed pork. Toss the bag into the fridge, and marinate for 4 to 6 hours, turning every so often.

Preheat an oven to 325. Add the meat and the marinade to a 9”x13” baking pan and cover with foil. Bake for 3 hours. Remove the pork from the sauce and shred. Serve over rice with some salsa. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Tomatillo Salsa:
6 tomatillos, halved
2 garlic cloves, still in their husks
1 habanero, deseeded
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
½ cup of water (more if needed)
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black peper

Put a pan over medium heat and add the tomatillos, garlic and habanero, and cook, flipping once, until everything starts to get some color on it. Add the tomatillos straight into a blender. Chop the habanero and add it to the blender. Remove the garlic cloves from their papery husks and chop, then add to the blender. Add the cilantro and water (go easy on the water and add more if you think it needs it) and puree. Season with cumin, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste.