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Weeknight Porchetta Is Bursting with Flavor


This porchetta dish is easy to make.

This porchetta dish is easy to make.

What’s in a name? We’ve been asking ourselves that since Shakespeare proffered the question in “Romeo and Juliet.”

We asked it again when we spied this recipe for Weeknight Porchetta from the January 2015 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. Yes, it was the name “porchetta” that attracted our attention, but there were so many differences in approach that we were skeptical, despite Alison Roman’s introduction: “Sometimes it’s OK to cut corners. Here we make the classic Italian dish with bacon and skip the multiday air-drying process. It’s not traditional, but it sure is delicious.”

We gave it a try anyway and was pleasantly surprised at how satisfying the dish was on so many levels.

The roasted garlic is perfect by itself, if you want an appetizer to spread on toast; or you could pair it with another cut of meat, such as a juicy steak or a thick slab of prime rib.

Roman offers this insight into why you wrap the tenderloin in bacon: “As the bacon cooks, the fat renders, basting the tenderloin with flavor and ensuring it stays juicy (all while cooking perfectly itself). To keep the bacon in place, wrap the slices around the tenderloin, tucking ends underneath each other.”

One time we made the dish, we varied it by adding slices of apples at the last minute. The slices added to the overall dish; whether you like the baked apple slices depends on your fondness for rosemary, because they absorbed a lot of the herb’s flavor.

Weeknight Porchetta

Use apple if you'd like.

Use apple if you’d like.

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus 2 bulbs, halved crosswise
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 4 sprigs
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin
6-8 slices bacon
1-2 apples, cored and cut in small slices (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss chopped garlic, chopped rosemary, fennel seeds, salt and 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl; season with pepper.

Rub garlic mixture over all tenderloin (if you have time to do this in the morning, great; refrigerate pork until dinner). Scatter rosemary sprigs in a large baking dish and set tenderloin on top. Wrap bacon slices around tenderloin, tucking ends underneath, so bacon stays put. Nestle halved heads of garlic around tenderloin and add apple slices, if using. Drizzle everything with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of tenderloin registers 145 degrees for medium, 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 300 calories, 15 g fat, 1 g fiber

Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2015

 

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Give Your Coconut Cream Pie a Makeover


I love to read food magazines, but I rarely find myself making recipes from them. I don’t exactly know why. Maybe it’s because too many of them call for an ingredient like freeze-dried strawberries or buckwheat flour, which are never found in my pantry – and not likely to make a guest appearance there for one single recipe.

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie with Macaroon Press-In Crust

But when I saw the recipe for Coconut Cream Pie with Macaroon Press-In Crust from Tandem Coffee + Bakery in the latest issue of Bon Appétit, I knew I was destined to make it. That is, without the optional pandan leaf that the recipe calls for.

The primary appeal for this largely gluten-free recipe is the crust, made from chocolate-covered coconut. So, yes, you can have your own version of a homemade Mounds or Almond Joy bar and still have coconut pudding on top of it. (The largely gluten-free is because of the iffy nature of cornstarch. If you’re avoiding gluten, you can find modified cornstarch that will work.)

I was too busy reading the recipe to note that there were step-by-step photos on how to make this pie, which might have helped with the chocolate you use. I needed more to line the entire crust, so I just covered the bottom. Plus, I had a slight problem with the pieces you need to make for the garnish. My first attempt wasn’t thin enough to make as much as I needed, so my suggestion would be to double that part of the recipe. If you have leftovers, just eat them like candy.

In the meantime, I’m entertaining thoughts about other pies to use with that macaroon crust. Chocolate pudding would work of course, as would pistachio. No-bake fruit pies, such as strawberry or cherry, would also be great. Any other suggestions?

Coconut Cream Pie with Macaroon Press-In Crust

Coconut crust

Coconut crust

Crust:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 large egg white
1 ¾ cups unsweetened shredded coconut (see note)
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted, slightly cooled

Custard and Assembly:
2 wide strips lime zest
1 pandan leaf (optional)
1 ¾ cups whole milk
¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk (do not use low-fat)
¼ cup raw skin-on almonds, coarsely chopped (pecans also work)
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted slightly cooled
3 large egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch

Chocolate-lined crust

Chocolate-lined crust

¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 ½ cups heavy cream

Note: You can find unsweetened coconut at H-E-B in the produce section with the other dried fruits and snacks.

Crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick spray. Mix egg white, coconut, sugar, butter and salt with a rubber spatula in a large bowl until evenly combines and the consistency of a stiff paste. Using your hands, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie pan. Bake until edges are golden brown and bottom is set and just barely golden, 15-20 minutes. Transfer pie pan to a wire rack (leave oven on to toast almonds and coconut) and let crust cool. Brush crust with melted chocolate.

Custard and Assembly: Bring lime zest, pandan leaf, if using, milk and coconut milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Cover and let sit off heat 30 minutes.

Press the plastic over the filling.

Press the plastic over the filling.

Meanwhile, toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Let cool. Toast coconut on same baking sheet, tossing once, until edges are golden, about 4 minutes.

Stir almonds into melted chocolate in a small bowl. Spread in an even layer on a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle toasted coconut over chocolate almonds and chill until firm, 8-10 minutes. Coarsely chop, then cover and chill.

Pluck out lime zest and pandan leaf from milk mixture; discard. Return milk mixture to a simmer. Whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, salt and ½ cup sugar in a medium bowl to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add ½ cup milk mixture to egg mixture. Whisking constantly, add egg mixture to milk mixture in saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbling (it will look like thick pudding). Remove from heat and whisk in butter and lime juice.

Scrape custard into crust and press a piece of plastic wrap against surface. Chill until set, about 2 hours.

Just before serving, whip cream and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl to medium-still peaks. Spoon over custard, leaving about a 1-inch border, and swirl decoratively. Scatter chocolate-almond mixture around perimeter.

Do Ahead: Pie (without whipped cream) can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled.

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

From Tandem Coffee + Bakery/Bon Appétit

Coconut Cream Pie with Macaroon Press-In Crust

Coconut Cream Pie with Macaroon Press-In Crust

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Hot Joy Makes Bon Appetit Top 10 List


Congrats to one of San Antonio’s newer restaurants, the all-over-the-plate inventive Hot Joy at 1014 S. Alamo St.

Hot Joy logoBon Appetit released its Top 10 Best New Restaurants — and right at No. 7 is Hot Joy.  It edges out an Austin food truck called Thai-Kun, at No. 8. (This is something we’d like to see become a trend!)

Described by writer Andrew Knowlton as a pan-Asian stoner-food temple in San Antonio, the slide show starts with Hot Joy chicken wings and meanders through the menu by chef Quealy Watson. Chad Carey is one of the restaurant owners.

Watson may not have ever been to Asia, but the food of this restaurant is described as a “new sub-genre” which, “when executed with passion and skill, rewards the pleasure center of the brain just as much as some preciously foraged $100 tasting menu.”

Before choosing their top 10 best, Bon Appetit also placed San Antonio’s Cured, at the Pearl and owned by chef Steven McHugh, to the top 50 best new restaurants in the country.

The other 10 restaurants can be seen here, with slideshows, at this link.

 

Hot reds and cool stone welcome guests to San Antonio's Hot Joy.

Hot reds and cool stone welcome guests to San Antonio’s Hot Joy.

 

 

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Light the Grill for Some Buttery Lemon-Tarragon Lobster


I have to admit I’d never grilled my own lobster until recently. ButI had long wanted to, so I used the following tips from “The Grilling Book” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $45), which was put together by Bon Appétit magazine and editor Adam Rapoport:

When grilling lobster, place the cut side down first.

When grilling lobster, place the cut side down first.

How to Prepare Lobster for the Grill

For the most delicious grilled lobster, you have to start with a live lobster. This requires that the lobster be killed and partially cooked just before it hits the grate. There are a few different ways to to it, but this method is the most simple and straightforward.

  1. Bring water to boil in a large boil.  Add lobster headfirst. Cover pot tightly. Boil lobsters 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, remove lobster (now red) from pot.
  2. Place lobster belly side up on work surface. Put tip of large knife in center; cut from center to end of head, then from center to end of tail.
  3. Discard the gray vein, gills and sand sac from head. Keep the red roe and green tomalley intact, if desired.

The only slight variation I made was that my kitchen shears proved easier to cut through the tail than any of my knives. After cutting the lobster in half, I finished it off with this recipe, which is also from “The Grilling Book.” The butter was so good, made with tarragon and chives from the garden, that I could see using it on shrimp, scallops, some type of sautéed white fish or even chicken.

Lemon-Tarragon Lobster

1/2 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 (1 1/2-pound) live lobsters
Vegetable oil, for brushing

Use the lemon-tarragon butter on the lobster meat.

Use the lemon-tarragon butter on the lobster meat.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Stir butter, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small saucepan over low heat until butter melts. Mix in chives and tarragon; season to taste with salt and pepper. Set pan at edge of grill to keep sauce warm.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop lobsters headfirst into water. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes (lobsters will not be full cooked). Using tongs, transfer lobsters to a work surface. Using a large heavy knife or cleaver, cut shell; if necessary, use poultry shears), then cut in half from center to end of tail. Scoop out and discard gray vein, gills and sand sac from the head. Leave any red roe or green tomalley intact, if desired. Crack claws. Brush cut side of lobsters with 1 tablespoon butter sauce.

Brush grill grate with oil. Grill lobsters, cut side down, for 3 or 4 minutes. Turn and cook for 3 or 4 more minutes longer. Turn one last time, so that cut side is down and grill until lobster meat is opaque but still juicy, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Using tongs, transfer lobsters to plates. Brush with sauce. Serve, passing any remaining sauce separately.

Makes 2 servings.

From “The Grilling Book,” Adam Rapoport, editor

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Light the Coals for Pork Chops with Tomatillo Salsa


Grilling this weekend? Think about matching pork chops with a tomatillo salsa, a natural pairing, according to Bon Appétit‘s Adam Rapoport, editor of the new “The Grilling Book” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $45): “The tart, citrusy flavors of tomatillos is a nice counterpoint to the richness of pork. Charring tomatillos, garlic and jalapeños is a Mexican cooking technique that softens their pungency and adds a deeper roasted flavor to salsa.”

Grill the pork chops to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Grill the pork chops to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Pork Chops with Tomatillo Salsa

12 tomatillos (about 1 pound), husked and rinsed
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapeños
2/3 cup finely chopped white onion
2/3 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 (1- to 1 1/4-inch thick bone-in pork rib chops (each about 12 ounces)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
1 garlic clove, halved
12 corn or flour tortillas

Preheat broiler. Place tomatillos, 4 garlic cloves and jalapeños on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil, turning vegetables occasionally, until tender and slightly charred, about 7 minutes for garlic and 8 minutes for tomatillos and jalapeños. Transfer to a plate and let stand until cool enough to handle. Stem and seed jalapeños. Place tomatillos, garlic, jalapeños, onion and cilantro in a food processor. Purée until almost smooth. Season tomatillo salsa with salt and pepper. Do ahead: Salsa can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Return salsa to room temperature before serving.

Tomatillo salsa

Tomatillo salsa

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grate with oil. Rub both sides of pork chops with halved garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper; brush with oil. Grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of pork registers 145 degrees, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer chops to a plate; let rest for 10 minutes. Grill tortillas until slightly charred, about 1 minute per side. Serve chops with tortillas and salsa.

Makes 6 servings.

From “The Grilling Book” edited by Adam Rapoport

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Dear Bon Appetit.com: Blue Bell Ice Cream a ‘Cult’ Favorite?


Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream beat out a panel of contenders at a Bon Appetit.com taste test. The results were published Sunday on Yahoo’s home page and Blue Bell was described as a “cult” favorite. Bon Appetit.com mentioned where it was distributed, but not that it originated in Texas, in Brenham, where it has been produced for more than a century. We thought we’d point that out.

 

Dear Bon Appetit.com editors, Julia Bainbridge and Supermarket Standoff participants:

I write to you with some amusement and just a bit of chiding.

In a recent article entitled Supermarket Standoff, you sampled 10 vanilla ice creams.Your taste test winner (and in fact No. 3 in relative healthfulness) was Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

We applaud the results. But, here’s a fact that you left out:  Blue Bell Ice Cream originated, and still is made, in Texas. (Only in the 1990s did the company open additional production facilities in Broken Arrow, Okla., and Sylacauga, Ala.)

It has been a favorite here in its home state for more than 100 years. It is still produced in its original location in Brenham, a little town northwest of Houston. It is delicious (as you discovered), and it is sold in grocery stores all over the state at a reasonable price and in plenty of flavors.

How would this make it a “cult” ice cream?

This is not homerism. I believe you’ve misused the word. You do mention, in fact, that it is available in some 20 states. To me, “cult” is a word I’d use for a product that was not readily available to the general public — perhaps it is hard to find, or it is hard to afford. I think of the term “cult” wines and my first thought is that I probably can’t get them in my favorite wine shop, and if I could, I probably wouldn’t be able to afford them.

I also wonder about your sentence: “We included it because it is such a cult favorite …” Why the dismissive (or even grudging) note here? Did you, perhaps, use the word “cult” because it was preferable to using the word “Texas”?

Blue Bell has a venerable history. The ice creamery was established by a cooperative of farmers to make good use of their excess milk and cream back in the early 1900s. It has long been the everyday, go-to ice cream for Texas ice cream lovers and families. Oh, and probably lots of families in those 19 other states you mention.

When I moved to Texas from Arizona years ago, I would joke to my husband that Blue Bell Ice Cream and ZZ Top were the main reasons I moved here. (Actually, I moved here to marry him.)  Not only was the flavor and texture of Blue Bell excellent, I loved the fact that they rotated flavors by season. For instance, when summertime comes, they take advantage of the bounteous crop of peaches grown in the Texas Hill Country and elsewhere to make one of their rotational ice creams.

Texas (as did other agriculturally rich,  food-producing states) actually had that “seasonal, local” thing going many years ago — maybe even before it was recognized as a hip restaurant concept “originating” in that politically correct state, California.

I am really glad that you did choose Blue Bell to test, and that your taste test discovered what we’ve known for years. You might even want to send a writer out to Brenham — it’s a great topic for an article.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Walker,

Editor, SavorSA

 

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Chefs’ Corner: Johnny Hernandez’s Ceviche Verde


Ceviche Verde

In the newly redesigned Bon Appétit magazine, the August Challenge for four chefs was to come up with a dish using avocado. One of those chefs was San Antonio’s Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria.

His recipe was for a sensational Ceviche Verde, which calls for tomatillo, green olives, cilantro and jalapeño in addition to avocado.

The other recipes are from Carly Groden of Proof in Des Moines, who offered an avocado smoothie, Greg Baker of the Refinery in Tampa with Avocado Salad with Peaches and Shaun McCrain of Book Bindery in Seattle with Avocado and Crab Soup.

By the way, Hernandez was also honored recently by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Business Owner of the Year.

Congratulations to him for both honors.

Ceviche Verde

1 pound fresh Pacific halibut or other firm-fleshed fish, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3/4 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup diced tomatillo
1/4 cup very finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tostadas or tortilla chips, for serving

Place the fish in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Add lime juice and toss to coat. Marinate until the edges of the cubs begin to turn opaque, about 30 minutes. Add avocado, olives, tomatillo, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño, if using. Add olive oil and season with salt, to taste. Serve over tostadas or with tortilla chips for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.

From Johnny Hernandez, La Gloria/Bon Appétit

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