Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Boy and His Adobo

Among the many, many terrible versions of Christmas carols playing on satellite radio at work, somehow a rendition of "A Few of my Favourite Things" seems to have slipped in. I've never really considered the song a carol (correct me if I'm wrong), but regardless, it served as something of an inspiration. No, not for cream-coloured ponies or schnitzel with noodles - but Pork Adobo, one of Matt's favourite dishes.

Matt had been asking for this one for a long time, and I'm honestly not quite sure why I've been putting it off. I'm not generally a lazy cook, and this was far less time consuming than I remembered it being. That said, the last time I made it, it did fall a little flat. My dad usually does a version with beef short ribs, which I prefer, but Matt wanted pork, and I figured if I was going to try it again, I might as well do it more or less right.

The original recipe is from The New York Times, and is presented with very limited tweaking. I used boneless pork ribs, mostly because they were cheaper than the whole rack of baby back, but also because I'm a recovering vegetarian, and bones in my food weird me out. So does lard, as you may remember from my last post.

Pork Ribs Adobo
adaptedish from The New York Times

1 cup apple cider vinegar, preferably organic and unfiltered
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 small bay leaves
1 large jalapeno chile, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 lbs baby-back pork ribs, (1 side, cut into individual ribs, or boneless ribs)
2 teaspoons sea salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons black peppercorns

In a bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves and chile and set aside.

Season the ribs with 1 teaspoon salt. With a mortar and pestle or a small food processor, grind the remaining teaspoon salt with the garlic and peppercorns until it forms a rough paste. Rub past into ribs and transfer to a large ziploc bag. Pour in the vinegar mixtures, seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight, turning occasionally.

Transfer ribs and marinade to a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, until the meat is tender. (I let mine cook for more like an hour and a half, but I like the meat all shreddy, so take your pick). Remove ribs to a baking sheet and simmer sauce until thick.

Preheat the broiler, pour 1/4 cup of the thickened sauce over the ribs, turn to coat, and broil until nicely browned, about 7 minutes, turning once.

Serve over rice with the remaining sauce. Provide coarsely chopped tomato and onion to go along, if you like (it's tasty!)

And smile when you eat it - it makes the cook happy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A nice, multicultural cookie. Or something.

Sorry I've been so lax about updating lately... we are in full swing of Holiday Hell here in retail-land, and by the time I get home from a grueling day of customers and cookware, it's all I can manage to put something together for dinner... let alone photograph or write about it. But I had a day off yesterday, and so I offer these, the most Christmas spirit I've exhibited so far this season:

Biscochitos are high up on my list of favourite holiday foods, and are nigh impossible to find outside of New Mexico. I'd been planning on making a batch for weeks, and finally buckled down and did it, even using my new snowflake cookie cutter that I picked up at work. They turned out looking more like Stars of David, but I guess that makes for a nice, multicultural cookie. Or something.

I was actually reduced to googling "biscochitos" to find a decent recipe for these little cookies, with mixed results. I almost used this one, but it didn't call for alcohol, and I don't believe in virgin  biscochitos. I finally settled on this recipe, with a little tweaking. I feel like they could stand further tweaking, so I'll let you know once I have an updated version. The current recipe is highly edible, though, so don't feel like you need to wait.

Take One

1/2 lb butter (2 sticks - and I know that I am way out of line using butter; a proper biscochito must be made with lard. I'm a recovering vegetarian - I don't know what to do with hunks of animal fat).
3/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp. anise seed
1 large egg
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. red wine

1/4 c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter (or lard, you brave souls), sugar and anise seed. Add the egg, and mix until combined.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

Alternating with with the red wine, add the flour to the butter mixture.

Roll out to between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick, depending on how you like your biscochitos, and cut into suitable shapes. Snowflakes are great, especially if they melt into not-snowflakes.

Combine the remaining 1/4 c. sugar and tablespoon of cinnamon in a wide bowl, and press the face of each cookie into the mixture before putting it on the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are golden.

Cool on a rack, and start eating as soon as they are cool enough to not burn your mouth.

In retrospect, here are a few ideas for tweaks: try brandy, which is what the original recipe called for, rather than red wine. While initially a lovely purplish colour, it faded to an odd grey, which is really not what you're going for with cookie dough. I could have sworn my grandmother makes them with red wine.... Also, out here in the humid northwest, err on the side off a little too much flour. I added probably a quarter cup during the rolling process, just to get the proper consistency for a rolled cookie, rather than a drop cookie.

Oh, and a word to the unenlightened - never ever ever call a biscochito a snickerdoodle, or at least not if you value your life.