Posts tagged ‘you pick’

October 22, 2011

You Pick: Apple-Stuffed Pork Rolls Katsu Style

This year is turning out to be a great year for apples on the East Coast. And besides that – fall is THE season for apples. Crisp, cool, tart and sweet – they are turning out in hues of red and pink, burnished gold, pale winter yellows, bright greens… ::sigh::

Apples are possibly my favorite fruit – they are generally durable, easy to handle and to cook with, versatile and perfectly delicious in any number of recipes – pies, salads, roasts, soups, sandwiches – and (unless you are seeking the delightful Honey Crisp variety) inexpensive. I love apples in savory dishes especially – apples are great for brightening up a dish, and they pair well with both chicken and pork! You can still wander into older forested areas across the United States and find apple trees growing wild. Historically, it wasn’t that long ago that well over 1,000 varieties of apple were grown in the U.S., and though the majority of these are now extinct (thank you, mono-crop farming and a certain seed company), there are still several hundred known varieties, many heirloom, that are actively grown today.

This dish is a great way to use up spare ingredients if you happen to have a bunch of odd bits and pieces of Asian cuisine languishing in your fridge. Otherwise, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with ingredients that aren’t terribly expensive and that (for the most part) can hang out in your fridge for a VERY VERY LONG TIME.

I love otsukemono – assorted pickled vegetables – because there are so many colors, flavors, and textures! They can really dress up a dish (even just a quick bowl of rice porridge), and while I used my favorites in this recipe, don’t be afraid to experiment, especially if hot and spicy is not your scene.

Now, as for rice – if you want to cheat and use some form of parboiled rice, that is your prerogative – but every time a person uses a package of pre-cooked rice a puppy gets kicked. True fact. Don’t be afraid of preparing rice, and don’t feel as though you have to have a rice cooker – most inexpensive rice cookers are like quick-cooking crock pots anyway. You can prepare rice in a pot of water on the stove no problem, and it really is as simple as following the directions on the bag. And if you’re still not sure what to do – measure one cup of rice grains into a pot/rice cooker, fill the pot with cold water until the rice is just covered, and rinse the grains by swishing them around in the pot with your hand. Do this for about thirty or forty-five seconds and then drain the water and repeat three more times. ALWAYS wash rice, even if the bag says it’s cleaned or treated – washing your rice this way will rinse off extra starch that would otherwise make it mushy and gross. After you’re done rinsing, fill the pot up until the rice is covered about three-fourths of an inch. If you’re using a pot, set it on the stove (if you’re using a rice cooker, follow the cooking directions that come with your device), turn it to medium heat, and stir with the stick end of a wooden spoon every once in a while to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. If you want to salt the rice, salt the cooking water before it starts to boil, just past the point where you would enjoy it (when you think it’s too much salt, it’s probably enough). When most of the water is absorbed and the rice is swelling, turn the heat off and take the pot off of the hot eye, let it sit a few minutes, and fluff it with a fork. For this recipe I’ve left the rice unsalted – instead , I added about a quarter cup of Rice Wine Vinegar while fluffing. If you’re nervous about making rice, then do the rice first, before you prepare the pork rolls – otherwise, just start the rice when you start chopping up the pickles for the filling (see recipe below).

Please keep in mind that this is an inspired interpretation of Tonkatsu – fried pork cutlet – and while these are not the ingredients you would traditionally fill the pork with, I hope you find the taste yummy and comforting (it IS a comfort food, after all) when you try the recipe. ^_^

Apple-Stuffed Pork Rolls Katsu Style

  • One Green Apple (Suggest: Granny Smith)
  • One Red Apple (Suggest: Fuji)
  • Rice Wine Vinegar – 1/4 cup for apples, 1/4 cup for rice
  • 6-8 Korean Salted Pickled Green Peppers
  • 1 Large Clove of Garlic
  • 2 Red Umeboshi (Pickled Plums), Pits Removed
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Aka Miso Paste
  • 4 Thin Pork Cutlets, Cleaned and Trimmed (There may be a bit of connective tissue, but they usually come clean at the supermarket)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Eggs, Well-Beaten
  • Most of a Package of Panko Crumbs (if you are concerned about waste, the best thing is to store any leftover crumb in a plastic container labeled with the meat you have used it for)
  • 1 Cup Short Grain Rice (I use Han Kuk Mi Sushi Rice – it’s not terribly expensive for a five pound bag, and it has a nice texture when cooked)
  • Vegetable Oil – Enough to fill about an inch and a half on the bottom of a deep pan or wide-bottomed pot
  • Optional Toppings: Katsu Sauce, Tempura Dipping Sauce, Pickled Daikon, Shin Shin Parikko (pickled Spanish Cucumber), Leftover Cooked Apple, Umeboshi, etc.

[You’ll notice I’ve left salt/pepper out of this recipe – that’s because you really don’t need it. The miso paste and green pepper pickles are salty enough in the dish that the pork really doesn’t need any help]

First thing’s first – peel, core, and slice your apple into longish pieces on the thicker side (no need for julienne here!). I like combining red and green apples in most dishes, for both flavor and texture (I also like leaving a bit of the peel on for color, but you’re welcome to strip it all or leave it all on!). In a pot or pan on medium-low heat, gently toss your apples in the Rice Wine Vinegar and allow to steam and sweat until they just begin to soften. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for later. Remove the stems from the green peppers and finely chop (alternatively, you can just dump the peppers, garlic and pickled plums in a food processor and pulse to a fine relish) finely. Finely chop the plums and garlic, stir in with the peppers, and set the relish aside.

On a flat, clean surface, stretch out two lengths of plastic wrap – be sure to squish out all the air bubbles so you don’t pop any holes while your pounding out your cutlets. When rolling a chosen cut of meat, it’s better to use as thin a piece as possible – not only will you have more surface area to spread filling on to, but the meat will cook much more quickly. It’s best to choose a pounding implement with a flat surface, you’re just trying to break up bits of muscle and spread out the surface area, not poke holes in your meat with a carryover from medieval weaponry. As it happens, I have an ice cream scoop that, while being perfectly useless as an ice cream scoop, is smooth and has just the right amount of weight for pounding thin cuts of meat – so don’t feel that you have to go out and purchase a proper meat mallet if you don’t have one.

Lay out your pork cutlets (you can do them all at once or one at a time) on the plastic wrap, cover with more plastic wrap, and commence pounding. The surface area should increase by at least a 1/3 to 1/2 of the original size of the cutlet. As you finish each cutlet, layer them in paper towels. You want to draw out as much moisture as possible before you begin rolling them up – your filling will stick better, and the meat will seal better to itself, instead of unrolling while cooking.

Now the fun part! lay out your cutlet, take a fourth of your miso paste, and using the back of a spoon spread VERY thinly over the whole of one side of the cutlet. Next, spoon a quarter of your pickle mixture and spread it thinly over the surface. Take four or five pieces of your cooked apple, lay them out on top of the relish, and tightly roll up your cutlet. The edge should seal nicely to itself. Set aside seam side down and repeat with the rest of your cutlets.

Depending on how quick you are about it, you may want to take this moment to go ahead and heat up your oil for frying. Set it to medium-high heat – when the oil shimmers in the bottom of the pot, it’s ready.

Set out three dishes – one each flour, beaten egg, and panko crumbs, in that order. In turn, roll each cutlet first in the flour, the egg, and then panko crumbs (you want to coat it well).

When the hot oil is ready, place two rolls at a time, seam side down, in the pot. The cooking time is not exact here, but it should be about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes per side, or until the crumb is a deep golden-brown. Remove from the oil and set either on a paper towel or colander to drain and rest. Allow the rolls to rest about 5-10 minutes before serving.

To serve, slice each cutlet on a diagonal with a serrated knife, and lay out over a bed of rice. What you serve the dish with is up to you, but I like a nice squirt of katsu sauce, and my favorite pickles (daikon radish!!!) to go with it. The pork should be moist and the filling should be lip-tingling spicy. The apples won’t overpower the dish, but will add a richness and brightness (not unlike a good tomato sauce) that is surprising when you’re not used to apples in savory dishes.

Go and enjoy! And don’t forget to vote for next week’s recipe (below in next post)!

October 20, 2011

You Pick 10/20/11-10/26/11

The winning recipe… Is a tie! Fig, Goat Cheese and Onion Tart and Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Bread Pudding! More to come soon!

October 17, 2011

Your Winning Pick…

And the winner is…………………………




…Apple-Stuffed Pork Rolls, Katsu Style! Yay!

Check back Wednesday evening for the recipe of the week, stay tuned!

October 13, 2011

You Pick: 10/13/11-10/18/11


The polls are open, time to vote! Voting will close Sunday, 8pm Eastern.

October 10, 2011

You Pick: Mexican Chocolate Brownies

So – firstly, what is Mexican Chocolate? Mexican Chocolate is made up of a combination of chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, nuts and chillies (sometimes other spices), most commonly found pounded into a paste and molded into round disks that are then used to make a hot chocolate drink. Or sometimes eaten by itself for a caffeine boost late at night (I only recommend this in times of necessity, it will make you jittery).  The taste is warm and smoky, and the chocolate has a grainy texture – perfect for cozying up on a chilly, rainy fall day.

The ingredients for these brownies may require a trip to a specialty store, but the end result is well worth it. In this batch I’ve used one 6oz. bar of Dagoba Organic Chocolate 100% Unsweetened Baking Chocolate. The 100% means that the bar is made up entirely of cacao beans, no dairy fat (such as in semi-sweetened or milk chocolate) and no sugar added. At 4.99 per bar Dagoba is a nice, mid-range priced chocolate, but if you want to splurge on Valrhona (14.99 per lb.) or Scharffen Berger (8.99 per 12 oz) then go for it. Cocoa nibs – the by-product of roasted, shelled cacao beans – may be a bit harder to find. Pure Dark makes a dark chocolate covered nibs at 5.99 per 3 oz bag that you can find in the candy section of specialty stores (Pure Dark is a division of Mars Chocolate, so it’s a bit more mainstream). I like that these are covered, it protects them a bit in the mixing process, but it’s not necessary. Chipotle peppers – smoked-dried jalapenos – are relatively easy to find, and extremely cheap. They are nearly always located in the spice section, the ethnic section, or (as in our Food Lion) the fresh fruits and veggies section. Mexican vanilla will be a bit harder to find, and if you can’t locate any, regular vanilla is fine (usually Tahitian or some variant) – Mexican vanilla is a fragrant, intensely floral vanilla, and I find it to be fuller bodied (it’s my favorite). As for pecans – a 6 oz. bag right now is anywhere between 4-7$, depending on where you are. Pecans are native to South-Central North America and are found in a lot of Mexican cuisine. They are meaty in texture, and have a richer, less bitter flavor than walnuts.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

Oven: 325 F; Makes about 24 Servings at one square per serving

  • Three Chipotle Peppers
  • One 3 oz. pkg of Cocoa Nibs
  • One 6oz. bar of 100% Cocoa Baking Chocolate
  • One 6oz. pkg of Pecans (toasted)
  • Set Aside Together: 1 tsp. Sugar, 1/2tsp. Chili Powder, 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (8 oz.) of Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter
  • 1 & 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. either finely ground coffee or espresso powder
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 Tab. Vanilla
  • 1 cup + 1 Tab. All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa (go for a nicer, dark cocoa)

First thing’s first – take your three chipotle peppers, slice them longways down the middle and stick them in a glass to soak for about one hour.

You want to re-constitute the peppers so you don’t bite into your brownies later and wonder why there’s a bit of plastic in it. Cutting them in half will speed up the process. When they’re ready they’ll be more pliable and the inside flesh will be pulpy and red. When they’re ready to use, preset your oven to 325F. Drain your peppers, blot them with a paper towel, then slice them, again longways, into thin strips. Then dice the strips into small pieces and set aside for later.

Spread your pecans onto an un-greased baking sheet or pan, and toast in the oven, 7-10 minutes (not longer) – a good way to tell they’re done is if you can smell them. Take them out and set aside to cool. When they’re cool enough that you can handle them, chop the pecans finely and set aside.

Mexican Chocolate Crumble:

Now, this next part, you can do in a food processor if you’d like (a lot of people don’t have a mortar and pestle hanging around in their kitchens), but you have to be careful that you don’t make a paste. You just want to grind the nibs up enough to sprinkle. Here, we’re making something that we will sprinkle between layers of brownie to boost the flavor in the center (optionally, you can sprinkle on top and swirl with a toothpick – or your finger). If using a food processor/spice/coffee mill, you can add all of the following ingredients at once, and pulse until you reach the desired texture. If using an M&P (like me), start first with half the package (about 1 & 1/2 oz.) of cocoa nibs, pounding until about 2/3 is crushed and powdery.

Add in the reserved sugar and spices (see above) and  continue until most of the mixture is crushed, then set aside.

Batter: When making your brownie batter, it’s best to have all your ingredients prepared before you begin melting the butter. In a bowl, combine your sugar, salt, and spices (the coffee here will enhance the flavor of the chocolate, without adding any coffee taste), whisk together and set aside. In another bowl, add together your flour, cocoa, and nuts, and set this aside as well. A helpful tip – when you make cookies and brownies, adding nuts or chocolate chips or dried fruit to your flour first will not only sift your flour (saving you an extra step), but it will protect your added ingredients so that they aren’t torn up by the beater or whisk when you mix them in! Yay! Go ahead and crack all your eggs together in a measuring cup, and add your vanilla (the best time to add vanilla in most any baking recipe is when you are adding the eggs).

Chop up the 6 oz. of chocolate – the easiest way to do this is to cut from the corners of the bar, you’re almost shaving the chocolate off. Put the chocolate in the mixing bowl.

Melt the two sticks of butter – you can do this in the microwave or over the stove, but overall I’d recommend the stove, the butter gets hotter, and there’s less of a chance that you’ll burn yourself (a lesson from childhood). Pour the melted butter over the chocolate, allow to sit for about thirty seconds, and then stir (gently!) with a whisk.

You want the chocolate to be completely melted into the butter, no chunks of chocolate floating and no butter fat uncombined.

For this recipe, I prefer using a whisk, because it’s such a soft batter, the whisk puts a little more air into it, but it’s such a friendly recipe, you can use beaters, or even just whisk/beat it by hand, if you prefer. When your chocolate is combined, quickly add your sugar and mix together on a low speed until all is combined. Scrape down the sides, add vanilla and eggs (altogether), and beat at a higher speed, until the batter starts to look a bit fluffy. Add your chipotle peppers, mix in, and then add your flour mixture, mixing it it on LOW speed, until all is combined.

Do you like thin brownies, or thick ones? The pan I’m using to bake with is a 7X7X3 ” pan, so I get a fairly tall brownie square. If you are using a longer, rectangular pan, and want a thinner brownie, your baking time will be twenty minutes. For thicker brownies (like mine), your time will be thirty minutes. Spray your pan GENEROUSLY with baking spray – there’s no need for paper or flour when you spray the pan properly. I’m using a Pillsbury Baking Spray, but you could use Baker’s Joy (my favorite), or Pam Baking Spray. Do NOT use cooking or vegetable or any spray that doesn’t have ‘baking’ in the name – it will make a mess of your baked goods. Period.

Spoon in about a half of your batter and spread evenly to the edges in your pan. Sprinkle your chocolate crumble all over, and then spread on the rest of your batter on top of it.

Sprinkle a handful or two of your leftover cocoa nibs over the top before putting in the oven. Bake at 325F 20-30 minutes, depending on your choice of thickness. The top will be dry, but give a little bit when you press on it. When they’re done, remove from the oven and allow to rest for two hours before cutting. Don’t worry, they’ll still be warm when you cut into them, but this will give all the molecules a chance to settle down after being so busy rearranging themselves in the oven.


Dairy-Free: To make these completely dairy-free, use cocoa nibs that aren’t coated in chocolate, and substitute the butter with Earth Balance Buttery Spread (my favorite non-dairy, vegan friendly choice, just be sure to reduce the salt in this recipe to 1/4 tsp.)

Vegan: Besides the Earth Balance, you can substitute 1 & 1/3 cup veggie or canola oil for eggs (that’s 1/3 cup per egg). It will keep the same texture, no worries. ^_^

Pumpkin: Take one cup of canned pumpkin and beat in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. each allspice, ginger, nutmeg. spoon drops over full pan of batter, swirl with a toothpick (or your finger) and if desired, sprinkle with 2/3cup of pumpkin seeds. ^_^

When you make the recipe, be sure to post a picture and let me know how they turned out. Questions? Comments? Okay – get to it, and enjoy!

October 9, 2011

Your Pick Recipe!

And the winner is…

…the Mexican Chocolate Brownies!

Thank you for voting – and make sure you check back tomorrow evening for the recipe!


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