Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What I'm Reading Today

Hope you've recovered from your spring holidays and that you had some wonderful meals to celebrate.  Time for some new recipes?  I've got you covered.

Could anything be better than roast pork?  Good question, Russ Parsons, and I think not.  In the LA Times the esteemed Mr. Parsons shares his secret to a perfect roasted pork shoulder, and a photo of his own beauty from his Easter dinner.  Pork shoulder might just be my all time favorite cut of meat.  It's succulent, flavorful, and inexpensive.  Yes, it's a tough cut which means it needs slow and low cooking but, this is absolutely low maintenance cooking if I've ever seen it.  325 for a few hours then 450 at the end for that crackling skin-be sure you have an instant read thermometer and you're set.  Remember, this is a shoulder on the bone and you want to be sure you buy it from a good butcher.  This will ensure you get nice quality meat and that layer of fat on top that not only crisps up in the oven but naturally bastes the meat as it cooks.  

I tweeted about this recipe last week after I literally drooled at the sight of the photo.  Melissa Clark, who writes the Good Appetite column in the NY Times (and this wonderful book), is someone to watch.  She writes incredibly well tested recipes (they always work) with a keen eye on the busy home cook.  She's about honest flavors, simple food, and preparations that make sense to anyone.  Trust me, read a few columns or pick up her book and this is someone you'll want to meet over a glass of vino.  She wrote this recipe, for a Silky Caramel Rice Flan, after craving a Catalan dish she remembered making years ago.  It's a custard based rice pudding cooked like a flan, in a souffle dish lined with a deep, nutty caramel.  Inverted onto a plate it looks much like a traditional flan but put your fork in and you're rewarded with a texture that, to me, is a lot tastier and more interesting to eat.  I'm a rice pudding nut and when you add that caramel, oh man...  Can not wait to make this dessert.  Who's coming over?

Fast and healthy are two words my students love to hear when I introduce them to new recipes.  Problem is they are often synonymous with bland.  Not this time.  In the Washington Post, I found this recipe for Moo Shu Vegetables and it's lacking nothing when it comes to flavor.  In addition to sesame oil, ginger, and hoisin, the real secret here is the shredded veggies. Think cabbage, carrots, and zucchini-veggies that stay crunchy after a quick cook.  I'd buy them whole and julienne them by hand, but I happen to love that part of cooking.  If you haven't sharpened your knife lately (what are you waiting for?) or just need to speed things along, look for a bag of shredded veggies in your produce department.  They'll be just fine here and before you know it, your Chinese take out will be on the table in less time than it would've taken the delivery guy to get to your house.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!

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