Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!
Driving out of the harbor this morning,
we found this alongside Colington Road.

So very sad.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Rosie Tries Her Hand At Char Siu Pork.

I had some credit on my Amazon credit card,
so I put it to good use.
I ordered three of Fuchsia Dunlop's Chinese cookbooks -
 Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook - Recipes from Hunan Province,

Land of Plenty - Authentic Sichuan Recipes,

and Every Grain of Rice  - Simple Chinese Home Cooking,

and Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen.

Yes, I need more cookbooks.

Today, I'm making the Char Siu Pork,
adapted from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen.
I'm using pork loin strips,
marinated overnight,
then roasted in a 475° oven,
and basted with the marinade every ten minutes
for about 35 - 40 minutes.

In authentic Char Siu,
the pork has a ruddy red color and a pinkish ring under the surface
which comes from red food coloring.
Le sigh.
I can't do food coloring.

Ingredients for the marinade:
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB sugar
1/2 tsp Chinese Five-Spice Powder
3 TB Hoisin Sauce
2 TB honey
2 TB rice wine
2 TB Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 TB Tamari Sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Mix all together.

Ideally, one would use pork belly,
but I always use what I have in the freezer.

Take three slightly frozen pork loin chops.

Slice into strips.

Mix all marinade ingredients together.
This is Mr. Hawthorne's sourwood honey
 from the Blue Ridge Mountains.
There's nothing like it.

Soy in.

Rice wine in.

Tamari sauce.

Toasted sesame oil.

Whisk away.

Add in pork strips, coating with marinade.
Cover and let marinate for at least 2 hours.
I went for overnight.

Remove pork from fridge 45 minutes before you're ready to cook
and arrange the strips on rack in a baking pan.

Spread a little marinade over top the strips.

The directions said to cook in the upper third of a 450 degree oven
and baste with the marinade every 10 minutes.
It said nothing about cooking the marinade.
I didn't like the idea of basting with a liquid
that had raw pork in it, 
so I brought the marinade to a boil first,
then basted.

I had to try a little fatty, charred morsel.
It fell off.
Really, it did.

I wish I could describe what the house smells like right now.
Even Middle Hawthorne came down 
to see what that intoxicating aroma was.

I wanted a quick side dish -
bok choy

I melted a tablespoon of butter
and added a tiny bit of sesame oil.

Add in the bok choy and ...

... onions and pepper.

Stir fry to wilt the bok choy.
Add freshly ground salt and pepper and sesame seeds.

The charred sweet glaze is quite nice.

Pretty glossy sheen.
Nice and tender inside.
You have little bits of fatty pork
along with lean pork
and it's crisp and dripping in caramelized juices.

And lots of flavor.
This is drool-worthy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Hawthornes Attend Cooking Class At The North Carolina Aquarium.

The Hawthornes traveled to Manteo
for another cooking class at the North Carolina Aquarium.
Chef Jason Smith of the Black Pelican
was the guest chef today.
I've always enjoyed his presentations.

Chef Smith was recently featured
on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
as he made Wanchese Fisherman's Risotto.

And it's Wanchese, not Wancheese, Food Network.
For an interesting article about Wanchese,
check out Our State Magazine.

We started out with an appetizer - Shrimp Caprese.
"Caprese," in case you didn't know, and I didn't,
means, literally, "of Capri," as in Italy.
It denotes a particular combination of ingredients -
mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil.

It's hard to tell,
but that's a little shrimpie on the bottom.
Chef Smith sautéed his shrimp, 
then added a basil pesto to the pan
and coated the shrimp with the pesto.
The shrimp were topped with a small slice of grape tomato,
fresh mozzarella, a dab of balsamic reduction,
and a sprinkling of pine nut brittle.

I usually have a problem with seafood and cheese,
but I didn't with the shrimp and mozzarella.

This is a one-bite appetizer
and Chef Smith served it on these cute little serving spoons
which have a little wedge on the handle so it can sit upright.
He gets them from J. B. Prince
which might be my new favorite cooking place.

And yes.
I will be making this.
I have plenty of frozen North Carolina shrimp
and pesto from my Hurricane Harvest.

When Mr. Hawthorne and I tasted the shrimp,
we turned to each other,
"This is not North Carolina shrimp."

And Chef Smith admitted it wasn't.

 The main course was Summer Mahi Napoleon.
mahi mahi filet
basil pesto
slice of tomato
slice fresh mozzarella
4 x 4 pastry square
egg wash

Chef Smith partially cooked the fish filets,
then spread the pesto over top
and added a slice of tomato and the mozzarella.
Then he wrapped the filets in the pastry.

These went into a 380° convection oven.

I kept waiting for him to take the filets out.
He kept them in for 30 minutes.

Granted, it's hard to cook in ovens 
one is not familiar with,
but next time, bring a probe thermometer
and cook it to around 140° internal temperature.
(He forgot his thermometer.)

Sorry, but 30 minutes was way too long.
My fish was very dry and overcooked
and, gasp!, tasted fishy.

I won't be making the Mahi Napoleon.
I don't care for the pastry.
But I love me some mahi mahi,
when it's cooked properly.

Also on the plate were roasted tomatoes.
Drizzle some olive oil on the pan,
coat the tomatoes, and sprinkle some
Herbes de Provence and freshly ground salt and pepper.

A crab meat orzo and mixed greens salad
 with a balsamic vinaigrette rounded out our meal.

Orzo and Crab Meat
2 cups orzo
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup heavy cream
1 TB butter
1/4 pound crabmeat
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
freshly cracked pepper and salt
1 TB lemon juice

Cook pasta and drain.
Combine garlic, cream, butter, salt, pepper, and lemon juice
and bring to a boil.
Pour over the orzo
and toss with Parmesan and crab meat.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cups honey Dijon 
1/2 cup brown mustard
1 TB brown sugar
pinch garlic powder
pinch celery seed
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
pinch oregano
1/2 cup honey

I had to stop and say hello to Myrtle.

As always, the turtles were excited to see me.

If you're ever on the Outer Banks,
you owe it to yourself to check out the aquarium.

This little otter was happily playing with pipes.