Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chorizo Fresco and a Book Review

This Chorizo Fresco is from a new book, Charcutería: The Soul of Spain.

In this stunningly photographed book, the author, Jeffrey Weiss, explores the various regional authentic Spanish meat curing techniques and recipes. The book covers the history of Spanish butchery, including how the tradition survived the occupation of Iberia by the Moors.

It is clear that the author cares deeply about this topic after having immersed himself in the tradition. If you have an interest in meat curing and/or would like to learn more about Spanish Charcuteria, this book would be the ideal resource, short of spending a year in Spain.

To see photos of the finished chorizo, visit Nic Cooks.


Printed with permission. Agate Surrey, 2014

This is Chorizo 101: Class is in session.

YIELD: 3–4 loops or 6–8 links of sausage per 2.2 pounds (1 kg)

This incarnation is the most basic form of a Spanish-style chorizo sausage, a raw amalgam of its more famous dry-cured cousin with all the smoky-garlicky punch and none of the waiting times or space concerns. It’s perfect for those who are averse to dry curing or for beginners who want something tasty for dinner.


per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of the
following blend of meats, cut into
large cubes: 40%
aguja (pork collar), 40% panceta (pork belly), and
papada (pork jowl) 
3⁄4 ounce (20g) whole cloves garlic, peeled and destemmed
1 ounce (25 g) kosher salt 
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) dry white wine, such as a Verdejo, chilled
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) water, chilled
1⁄3 ounce (10 g) pimentón dulce
1⁄3 ounce (10 g) pimentón picante
1⁄8 ounce (2 g) dried oregano 
3 tablespoons (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil, for frying, divided
2 feet (60 cm) 11⁄4–11⁄2-inch (32–36-mm) hog casings, soaked, or more as needed
Caul fat, as needed

1. Place the aguja, panceta and papada meats and grinder parts in the freezer for 30 minutes to par-freeze before attempting to grind.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic and salt to form an ajosal. If desired, you can finish the ajosal in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the meats and ajosal. Toss together and set aside as you set up the grinder.
4. Fill a large bowl with ice, and place a smaller bowl inside the ice-filled bowl. Grind the meat mixture one through a medium-coarse (9.5 mm [3/8 inch]) die into the smaller bowl. Be careful: The meat is wet, so it may squirt and pop out of the grinder.
5. In a small mixing bowl, combine the wine, water, pimentones, and oregano, making a slurry. Keep the bowl containing the slurry chilled until ready to use.
6. Place the ground meats in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or you can just mix in a mixing bowl with a sturdy spoon.) Begin mixing on low speed. As the mixer runs, pour the wine slurry into the bowl in a steady stream.
7. Continue mixing on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the wine slurry has been fully incorporated into the mixture, a white residue forms on the sides of the bowl, and the mixture firms up. Place the bowl containing the ground meat mixture into the refrigerator to keep it cold until you are ready to stuff the sausage into casings.
8. To make a prueba, in a small skillet over medium–high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place a small piece of the meat mixture in the skillet and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.


  1. If stuffing: Stuff the mixture into the casings and tie into 12-inch (30-cm) loops or 6-inch (15-cm) links. Using a sterile pin or sausage pricker, prick each sausage several times. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight. (See Notes.)
  2. If not stuffing: Form the mixture into 8-ounce (226-g) patties. Wrap in plastic wrap or caul fat, if using. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight. 

  1. If stuffing: If you have stuffed the sausages into links or loops, warm the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat and fry for 8 to 10 minutes, until they register an internal temperature of 150°F (65°C). You can also oven roast or grill the sausages at 350°F (180°C) for 20 to 25 minutes, until they reach the same internal temperature.
  2. If not stuffing: Warm the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat and fry the sausage patties for 8 to 10 minutes, until they register an internal temperature of 150°F (65°C).
  3. Remove the sausages from the heat and serve.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book to review and share a recipe. All opinions are my own. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

How elegant would it be to serve these Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts at a dinner party? Your guests would be blown away. 

Instead of serving the salad with the traditional garlic croutons, just place the salad in this flakey, garlicky, buttery, and cheesy crust. Ah-maze-ing. Your guests will be raving about it for days. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

The pastry crusts are loaded with sweet roasted garlic. Heavenly. 

The crusts can be made a day or two in advance, wrapped in foil, and refrigerated until your elegant party for eight or romantic dinner for two. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

If you are nervous about raw egg in your Caesar dressing, this version will make you happy. While not as creamy as traditional Caesar, it is crazy delicious. I think the difference is the addition of crushed capers. This will be my go-to Caesar dressing forevermore. This is not hyperbole (well, maybe, but it's the best Caesar dressing I've ever tried... so far). And you can make it up to three days in advance. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

All you need is fresh romaine and grated Parmesan and you have a stunning garlicky first course. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

Makes 8 servings. 


Garlic Crusts

2 whole heads of garlic
2 T of extra virgin olive oil
1 C/2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 C finely grated Parmesan cheese (grate it yourself, do not use pre-grated cheese)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 C unbleached all purpose flour

Caesar Dressing

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 T capers, rinsed and smashed
2 tsp fresh parsley
1 heaping tsp anchovy paste
4 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil


1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces


To make the crusts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut the tops off of the garlic heads and sprinkle with the olive oil. 
  3. Wrap in foil and bake for about 40 minutes. 
  4. Remove the garlic heads from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. Remove the cloves of garlic with a small fork and place them into the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  6. Add the butter, cheese, and salt, and mix with the paddle attachment for about a minute. Add the flour and mix for another minute, until just crumbly. 
  7. Divide the dough among 8 four inch tart pans and press into the pans. "Dock" the crusts with a fork. Place the pans onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. 
  8. Cool on the cookie sheet on a rack. At this point, you can wrap them in foil and refrigerate. 

To make the dressing:

  1. Add all of the ingredients into the bowl of a small food processor and pulse.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Place each tartlet on an individual salad plate. 
  2. Toss the romaine with the dressing and the Parmesan. Divide the salad among the crusts. 
  3. Serve and bask in the glory.  

I am participating in a celebration of #NationalGarlicDay along with all of these wonderful food bloggers. This is indeed an honor. Check out their crazy good garlic recipes:
In honor of National Garlic Day and our love of the stinking rose, we are giving away a Garlic Lovers Prize Pack (valued at over $100) that includes:
  1. The Garlic Farmers' Cookbook
  2. One-year membership to the Garlic Seed Foundation
  3. 5 Garlic Button Covers
  4. OXO Good Grips Garlic Press 
  5. The Ultimate Garlic Peeler
  6. Tumbleweed Pottery Garlic Clove Canister Keeper with Vented Lid
  7. Terra Cotta Garlic Roaster
  8. 2 Bulbs of Whole Black Garlic
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (mandatory) answering this question: What is your favorite GARLICKY dish (or one that you'd love to try)? After you've answered the question for entry into this contest, be sure to record that you did so in the rafflecopter widget below; doing so will unlock many more optional ways to earn entries. a Rafflecopter giveaway This giveaway is open to residents of the Continental USA. Entries will be accepted through 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, April 24, 2014. All entries will be verified. A winner will be chosen from qualifying entries via random draw, and notified via email within 48 hours of the close of this contest. The winner will have 24 hours from the time the email is sent to respond with their complete name and mailing address (no P.O. Boxes). If no response is received within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Prizes provided by The Garlic Seed Foundation, Food Lust People Love and girlichef. Prizes may vary slightly from images shown and are subject to replacement with comparable items if ones pictured are no longer available at the close of this contest. Items may be shipped separately.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stir-Fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions | Wok Wednesdays

Stir-fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions

According to Grace Young, the author of the James Beard award winning book Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, this Stir-Fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions is a favorite lunch in Inner Mongolia. The scallions balance the lamb flavor.

The dish is flavored with garlic (a whole tablespoon), rice wine, dark and regular soy sauce, hoisin, and sesame oil, and as Grace says in her book, no single ingredient dominates. Grace also seasons this dish with toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns.

This stir-fry took only a few minutes to prepare, and created very little havoc in my kitchen. In fact, once I'd sliced and tossed the lamb in the garlic, wine, soy, pepper, salt, and sugar, and had combined the rest of the ingredients to make the sauce, I had enough time to put away all of the bottles and jars before starting the stir-fry. I felt pretty smug.

When you prepare this, make sure your scallions are super fresh, because they will wilt pretty quickly once you toss them in. I had to add in more at the end for "looks."

We thought this lamb stir-fry was pretty tasty. The meat is so tender and succulent, and the sauce is delicious. It's simply amazing with rice. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Most of the ingredients for this recipe can be found in any grocery store (although lamb seems to be getting harder to find these days for some reason). The two exceptions are the dark soy sauce and Sichuan peppercorns. Both can be found in Asian grocery stores or online. I am now on my third bottle of Pearl River Bridge dark soy sauce, the one with the pink label. It's miraculous.

As a participant in Wok Wednesdays, we've all agreed not to give out the recipes from the book. Instead, our job is to entice you to get the book, join the group, and wok along.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti #TuesdayswithDorie

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti

According to Dorie Greenspan, Cantuccini is the true name for what we think of as biscotti. All Italian cookies are called biscotti (biscuits), but these are the "official" twice baked cookies that are super crunchy and dunked in wine, coffee, or tea.

Mr. Kitchen, who is used to something always in the oven in this house, even made a comment about how good the house smelled when these were baking. The combination of cinnamon and almond is amazing.

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti

This is my first attempt at making biscotti, and all I can say is, "wow." If you make these, you'll never buy biscotti again. I like the fact that they are smaller and thinner than the biscotti you typically find in coffee houses. Way better for dunking!

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti

This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking Cantuccini, a recipe by Nick Malgieri. This is another recipe from the book Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers.

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti

This recipe is super easy. You can do the first bake in advance and slice and bake the cookies the second time the next day, or even several days in advance. How convenient is that?



2 C (9.5 ounces) all purpose flour
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C unblanched whole almonds
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 
  3. Whisk the eggs and and vanilla together and pour over the dry ingredients.
  4. With your hands, mix the ingredients together until fully incorporated.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface, and knead the dough for about 3 minutes. 
  6. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a 12 inch log. 
  7. Move the logs to the baking sheet and press them down to 2 inch wide by 1 inch high crescents. 
  8. Bake for 30 minutes. 
  9. Slide the logs, parchment and all, onto cooling racks. Let cool completely. (If you are not planning on making the cantuccini the same day, wrap the logs in plastic wrap to keep them fresh until baking time). 
  10. When you are ready to bake the cantuccini, line two baking sheets with parchment, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  11. With a very sharp serrated knife, slice each log into 1/4 inch thick slices. 
  12. Place them on the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Cool on the pans.
  13. Store in an airtight container for up to a month. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Edamame Noodle Salad

Edamame Noodle Salad

This Edamame Noodle Salad is so bright and fresh tasting. The dressing is flavored from a combination of fresh tangelo juice and the zest of a whole tangelo (you can use a tangerine or half of an orange) plus soy sauce.

Edamame Noodle Salad

Making this salad is astonishingly simple, and it keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days. I used angel hair pasta for the noodles, but you can use any noodles that you prefer.

Where I live, I can easily find fresh cooked edamame in my local grocery store. If fresh is not readily available, US readers can usually find it frozen at Costco or Trader Joe's.

Edamame Noodle Salad

Edamame Noodle Salad

Orange Soy Vinaigrette Dressing

1 clove of garlic, minced
2 1/2 T soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 1/2 T rice vinegar
The zest and juice of 1 tangelo or 1/2 orange

Add the ingredients to a small container and shake until blended. 

Salad Ingredients 

6 ounces of dried noodles (I used angel hair pasta)
1 C quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
8 ounces of shelled cooked edamame
2 green onions, sliced
All of the orange soy vinaigrette
Black pepper to taste


  1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the rest of the ingredients, including the vinaigrette. Serve and enjoy!
Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge

For the second year in a row, I am participating in Eat A to Z, Healthy Recipe Challenge. created by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic. Click on this link for more details. This month's letters are E or F. I participate because the challenge forces me to try new recipes with healthy ingredients. Join us!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Black Pepper Taralli

Black Pepper Taralli - Karen's Kitchen Stories

Taralli are a southern Italian snack that is kind of a cross between a looped breadstick and a pretzel. They look like tiny bagels, but they are super crunchy like grissini. These crackers are about 2 inches in diameter (smaller than they look in the photos). I've also seen them referred to as Italian wine pretzels.

Black Pepper Taralli - Karen's Kitchen Stories

Taralli? How did I discover taralli? you ask! Well.... there was a cookbook sitting on my nightstand called Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks.

I definitely have a bit of a cookbook problem. A book solely devoted to crackers and dips? How did this get in my house? Typically the culprit is some gorgeous article in Fine Cooking or Bon Appetit featuring a stack of beautiful cookbook spines. Amazon Prime strikes again.

Time to try one of the recipes.

At least I don't collect cars, right? Or shoes. Or exotic animals. I swear, you won't see me on Hoarders weaving my way through narrow aisles of cookbooks.

Black Pepper Taralli - Karen's Kitchen Stories

Tartalli come in both savory or sweet flavors. They are often served with wine, and are crispy enough to be served with cheesy dips. I made these with very coarsely ground tellicherry black peppercorns. I loved them both plain and with a gooey dip of Harvarti cheese with pepperoni.

Black Pepper Taralli - Karen's Kitchen Stories

You can substitute any number of savory flavors for the black pepper. I really like the spiciness of the bits of tellicherry.

Black Pepper Taralli


2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 C warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 C white wine
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
2 C/255 g unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 C/290 g semolina flour (not extra fancy durum)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground (on course) black pepper
1 egg + 1 T water, beaten


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all of the ingredients in the order that they are listed, except the beaten egg.
  2. Stir with a large spoon or dough whisk until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients.
  3. Knead on medium speed for about 3 minutes. The dough can also be kneaded by hand for about 6 minutes. 
  4. Allow the dough to rise, covered in an oiled bowl, until doubled. About 90 to 120 minutes. 
  5. Divide the dough in half, covering one half with plastic wrap while you work with the other half. 
  6. Divide the other half into 28 equal pieces and roll them into 6 inch long ropes. Coil the ropes into a circle and press the ends together. Place them one inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. 
  7. Cover the first sheet with plastic wrap, while preparing the second baking sheet. 
  8. Brush the taralli lightly with the egg wash. 
  9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. 
  10. Cool on a wire rack, and then store in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks. 
Sharing with Yeastspotting

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers

Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers

These Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers are ridiculous. Beyond amazing. Seriously delicious. Happy dance good.

Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers

I am not an expert in grilling and neither is Mr. K. We've always had a charcoal grill, and have recently learned about using a chimney starter. About a year ago, we purchased a gas grill. We are still trying to figure out the manual (give me bread formulas or even Excel pivot tables - just don't ask me to figure out how to use this damn grill). Being the holder of all earthly knowledge is a lot of work.

These pork belly skewers are soooo good. The ingredients in the marinade make the dish. I still can't believe I devoured a skewer full of pork belly the minute it came off of the grill.

Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers

I used the gas grill to make these skewers. While the original recipe calls for about four minutes to make these skewers, it took me about twice that amount of cooking time suggested in the recipe. With grilling, there are a lot of variables, including the weather, so keep a close eye on the meat and go with your instincts. Next time I might double up on the scallions too. 

I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour introducing Grilled to Perfection by two champion pit masters Andy Husbands and Chris Hart. I chose to make these pork belly skewers as part of this tour. Zero regrets here!

This book is loaded with new and wonderful barbecue recipes. There are recipes for hot direct grilling, roasting on the grill, and low and slow grilling. The recipes are adapted for both charcoal and gas. There are lots sauce recipes as well as tons of grilling tips. The grilled corn with miso butter and the lemon and fresh herb grill-roasted leg of lamb recipes are next on my list.

Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers

Posted with permission from Page Street Publishing

We found that grilling these over a low grill helps build a wonderful sticky-crunchy texture. Make sure to flip the skewers over every 30-45 seconds. Soaking the skewers in water helps keep them from burning.

1 cup/240 mL water
1/2 cup/90 g brown sugar
1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
2 pieces star anise
1 two-inch/5 cm cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons/10 mL coriander seeds, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons/10mL red pepper flakes
1/4 cup/60mL soy sauce
2 tablespoons/30 mL fish sauce
2 tablespoons/30 mL white vinegar
1 pound/450g pork belly, skin removed, cut into 1"/2.5 cm-square slices, each 1/4"/6 mm thick
10 scallions, thick white part cut into 1"/2.5cm-pieces

Makes 10 skewers, 4 - 6 appetizer servings

Equipment: Ten 8"/20 cm wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 4 hours

Cooking Instructions
In a small saucepan over high heat, bring to boil the water, brown sugar, lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon stick, coriander and red pepper flakes. Boil for 30 seconds, then remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, about 2 hours. Add the soy and fish sauces and vinegar. 

Place the pork belly chunks in the marinade for at least 4 and up to 24 hours.

Thread the pork belly and scallion alternately, starting with pork belly (scallion should be perpendicular to the skewers). Each skewer should have 3 pieces of pork and 2 scallions.

Build a low direct fire. Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the grill. Fill a chimney one-third full with charcoal. Stuff two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney and light it. When the coals are fully engaged – you should see flames peeking over the top – pour them over the unlit charcoal. If using a gas grill, light the gas and adjust the temperature on both sides to low.

When you can hold your hands over the fire for no more than 8-10 seconds, clean the grill grate. Place the skewers directly over the fire, with the exposed wooden ends pointing the edge of the grill, and grill for 30-45 seconds, until the meat starts to brown. Flip skewers over and repeat. Continue this process for about 4 minutes, until the meat is dark brown, almost black in some areas.

Serve hot, and make sure you get one for yourself. These will not last long.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.