Monthly Archives: February 2016

Carnitas

This recipe takes a while to cook, but its flavors are well worth it. Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 3-4 pounds of pork shoulder
  • 2 rounded tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 cups of some mixture of lemon and lime juice.
  • Water
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The ingredients.

The first step is cutting up your pork shoulder into chunks. They don’t have to be perfect cubes, but I cut mine with sides of about two inches. Make sure you remove and discard any bone.

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The meat. Don’t remove the fat! It’ll be delicious.

Next, combine the spices in a bowl – the cumin, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Mix them all together.

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Mixing the spices.

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Mixing the spices.

Next, put all the meat and the spices into a ziplock bag. Shake. The purpose here is to coat the meat in the spices.

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Shake, shake, shake.

Next, put the coated pieces of pork in a pot. Enameled cast iron works well. Add in your lemon and lime juice, and just enough water to coat the meat. Then turn the heat on high and bring the pot, uncovered, to a full boil. Once it’s fully boiling, turn trhe heat down a bit – say to medium – but it should still be boiling away steadily, uncovered. Leave it alone for a while. Check on it periodically – maybe after an hour or so. At about the two-hour mark (give or take, depending on the size of your pot) the fluid should be nearly all boiled away.

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Let it boil.

And the meat itself should easily fall apart. The citric acid will tenderize the meat, and it’ll be imbued with tremendous flavor. Be careful not to burn the meat once the fluid is all boiled away, but you do want it to caramelize.

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Once most of the liquid has boiled away.

Shred if you like. I eat mine over rice. Enjoy!

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Ryan’s Mussel Fettuccine

This recipe of mine has changed over the years, and as you can see from the list of ingredients, there’s still plenty of room for improvisation:

  • ½ cup white wine
  • Garlic
  • Stick of butter
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Fettuccini (box)
  • Mussels (2 lbs)
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt?
  • Pepper?
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The ingredients.

First, you may want to soak and de-beard the mussels. Since we’ll be putting the mussels, shell and all, into our meal, you may also want to scrub the shell. I don’t – I think rinsing is fine – but to each his or her own.

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Soaking the mussels. Use cold water and soak them for as long as you like. Soaking incentivizes the mussels to let out their beards, which you can then pluck more easily.

Next, fry the onions and garlic in the butter for a little while. I might use a large onion, or less, or more. Similarly, the amount of garlic you use is up to you. I use at least a few crushed cloves.  Again, how much you want to cook things at this stage is up to you.

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Onions in butter smell delicious.

Next add your white wine and diced tomatoes.

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Adding stuff

And then your lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Again, you have discretion in how much you use. You can always add more red pepper later, if you want it spicier – and in my opinion, this dish is better with some kick. But it’s up to you.

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Adding more stuff.

At some point, you may want to start making your fettuccini. Follow the instructions on the box. I use a whole box, but again, it’s up to you. And I add olive oil and a bit of salt to the water, but you may do things differently.

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Making fettuccini

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Making fettuccini

Add the mussels. Yup, just pour them in there – just the mussels, that is; not the water they were soaking in.

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Adding the mussels.

Cover the pot – let them steam. In the heat, they’ll gradually open, which is how you know they’re cooked. At some point, you may want to add in the noodles, too. Then cover the pan again so the mussels can continue to cook.

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Adding the noodles.

When the mussels are fully open, the dish is done. You should taste test it, and see how much salt and pepper you want to add, and decide whether you want to add more lemon juice or white wine or red pepper flakes or anything else. Then you get to the good part:

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Yum.

Enjoy!

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Portobello Appetizer

This recipe is simple, delicious, and easy to make. This is the (very short) list of ingredients:

  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Pepper flakes
  • Gorgonzola cheese, preferably crumbly (but blue cheese works too)
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The ingredients.

First, clean the portobello caps, and cut down any stem that might make them difficult to fry on both sides. Then make sure they’re dry.

Next, coat the bottom of your pan (preferably cast iron) with olive oil.

Fry the caps – gill sides down – on low heat for a while. You want to cook them thoroughly, but without burning or searing them.

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Gill sides down.

When you’re ready, flip the caps. Now they can cook gill side up for a while. And the gill side is now hot enough to help melt the cheese you’re going to crumble over them. Add as much cheese as you care to. Then add some red pepper flakes too – again, to taste.

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Crumble the cheese

Cook for a while, until you think they’re ready, or the cheese is melted. Cut into quadrants and enjoy!

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Delicious.

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Ryan’s Potato & Leek Soup

This soup is hearty – and easy to make. Just look at the list of ingredients:

  • 16 cups of water
  • 6-8 large potatoes
  • 3-4 leeks
  • Head of garlic
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Salt (to taste)
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The ingredients.

Step 1: Boil the water

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Boiling water.

While you’re doing this, you can do some of the other prep work, like cleaning the potatoes and leeks.

Step 2: Add the potatoes

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The potatoes.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, you can add the potatoes. I usually leave the skin on (though I scrub the skin to get rid of the dirt) and cut the potatoes in half lengthwise before dropping them in. It may take some time for them to soften up completely, usually a half hour or more. Use any kind of potato you like.

Step 3: Fork the potatoes

When the potatoes are completely soft, I usually divide the halves unevenly into about four quadrants. This I do with the side of a fork instead of a knife, because a knife would cut too clean. The purpose here is to create a soup with uneven chunks of potatoes, but nothing really larger than bite size in the end. From this point on, the cooking will continue to gradually break down the potato chunks.

Step 4: Add your Bouillon

This is the kind of bouillon I use:

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The bouillon.

I add a full package – eight cubes. These slowly dissolve in the soup, but if you’re so inclined, you can help them along by mashing them up when they get soft.

Step 5: Add the leeks

I usually cut up the leeks into wide swathes, about half an inch wide (this allows them to last longer in the soup before turning into mush). Obviously you just want to stick with the stalk itself, and discard the part above where the leaves start separating from the stalk.

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The leeks.

When you have all your swathes cut up, you can break up the rings with your fingers and add them to the soup.

Step 6: Add the garlic

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The garlic.

I use a garlic presser and a full head of garlic. The fresher the garlic, the better. This part can be messy, depending on the kind of garlic presser you have. And if you have any cuts on your hands, watch out! They’ll sting with the garlic juice.

Step 7: Salt to taste

After letting the soup simmer for a final few minutes or so – just enough time to let that garlic permeate the soup – you can sample the broth. What you’ll probably find is that the soup tastes great, and without any additional salt. But if you used fewer bouillon cubes, you may find that it’s missing that final kick. If so, adding a bit more salt at this stage will bring the flavor into full bloom. It doesn’t just make the soup saltier, in other words, but it makes it taste fuller and richer. Try for yourself and see.

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The end result.

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