I’m going to be completely honest with you, because I think we’re cool like that. You take time out of your day to come on over and spend some time with me, so it’s only fair I’m open with you… right?
Here’s the deal. Originally this was going to be a burrito post. But for the life of me I could not get a good photo of all the different components wrapped up in the tortilla. It didn’t look appetizing at all! Ah the woes of food photography.
And really, I don’t know why I was so fixated on making this a burrito anyway. Asheley always prefers hers as a burrito bowl. And I’m totally happy with a bowl as well.. as long as I still have a tortilla or some tortilla chips nearby so I can scoop up some of the goodness and eat it that way. What can I say? I’m tortilla dependent.
Does anyone else share my obsession with corn? I just love everything about it. I can still remember summer days walking up to the local farm-stand around the corner from my house with my mom, where we bought super fresh, juicy, sweet summer corn. It was the kind of corn that when you bit into it, juices would fly out and hit people smack on the forehead on the other side of the table. Those were the days. That farm-stand isn’t there anymore… some plumbing company took over the property. Lame, indeed.
I’m a sucker for cornbread. Whenever we are out to eat and I spot it on a menu, uncontrollable excitement takes over and I’ll order it. But almost always, it’s disappointing. Why is cornbread so often a dry, crumbly, stale-tasting mess? It’s almost like an afterthought at a lot of restaurants. Not anymore. It deserves better than that.
You will totally love this cornbread recipe, because it’s warm, moist, and has just a touch of sweetness from the honey and heat from the jalapeño.
2012 was really spectacular for me. The highlight of the year had to be July 7, which was the day I married my beautiful wife Asheley. A close 2nd to our wedding day was the week-plus we spent eating our way around Paris on our honeymoon. It was a culinary adventure we will never ever forget. And although a lot of the year was pretty busy with planning both the wedding and honeymoon, there were still some pretty amazing recipes I came across in the kitchen.
Looking back over all the recipes I posted throughout 2012 was a lot of fun… there are some dishes I completely forgot about and totally am going to make soon, like the Pork Tinga Tacos and Baja Fish Tacos. I also got to see how horrendous most of my food photos were at the beginning of last year. Yikes! Improvement has definitely been shown in that department I think… I’ve been learning a lot about food photography from some books and my good friend and very talented photographer Tyler as of recent, but I still have a ways to go. I actually just bought a new camera as a Christmas present to myself, and am super excited for what’s to come in 2013. But for now, here’s a look back at 2012.
My first attempts at making pulled pork a year or two ago were extremely delicious, but totally inauthentic. I used, dare I say, a slow-cooker. You can check out the horridly bad photos of that early Shared Appetite post here: slow-cooker pulled pork. Over the past couple of years, my affinity for making a more authentic version of Pulled Pork grew hungry… especially after attending the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in NYC and having numerous conversations with some BBQ enthusiast friends. Purchasing a smoker really wasn’t in the cards, being that my now wife and I were saving big time for our wedding and I just obtained a super awesome gas grill. I needed to figure out how to smoke up some pork shoulders in an authentic way… on an inauthentic gas grill.
The results were… well, you take a look:
Do you want to learn how to speak Khmer, the official language of Cambodia? Well actually, just maybe one very important word. A word anyone that may ever remotely be in the Union Square area should memorize: Num Pang. Go ahead, say it. Say it again. Memorize it. Meaning ”sandwich” or “bread” in Khmer, Num Pang is not only a tasty word, it’s quite the tasty place.
Owned by Ben Daitz and Ratha Chaupoly, Num Pang has a unique line-up of Cambodian-inspired sandwiches. They offer a wide variety of sandwiches that will make carnivores, vegetarians, and everyone in between happy as can be. Just make sure to bring cash to cover your meal, which shouldn’t be hard considering sandwiches are around $8. Although there is also a Num Pang location right by Grand Central (140 E. 41st Street between Lexington and 3rd Ave.), I have only been to the one just around the corner from Union Square (21 12th Street between 5th Ave. and University Place).
So what exactly is a Cambodian sandwich?
June… one of my favorite months of the year. Why, you ask? Being a teacher, summer vacation is nearly upon us, and more importantly, June is Big Apple BBQ Block Party time! Celebrating it’s 10th year, the Big Apple BBQ brings together the top pit masters from across the United States for an amazing weekend filled with award-winning barbecue, live music, and cooking seminars.
Best of all, the event is totally free to attend and no ticket is required. Food is sold directly from each pit master rig at $8 (cash) per plate. Drinks and desserts range from $2 – $6. If you planned ahead for the event like we do each year, you went to the Big Apple BBQ website ahead of time to secure a Fast Pass ($125). The fast pass gives you and a guest access to the express lines at each pit master rig, and also includes a $100 value redeemable for food, drinks, and merchandise.
And even better yet, the whole event supports the Madison Park Conservancy, the organization responsible for beautifying and maintaining the amazing park.
Here’s a picture-filled recap of that glorious porky day…
At Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria in NYC, there is a dynamite pasta dish called Taccozzette con Stracotto. Featuring braised pork shoulder tossed in a tomato sauce with fresh basil and served among pasta that resembles a shrunk down version of lasagna noodles, it is hands down one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to attempt recreating a version of this mouthwatering pasta dish at home (imitation is one of the greatest forms of flattery, isn’t it?).
The other night Asheley and I invited another couple over for a little dinner get-together, and I felt it the perfect time to try my hand at recreating the Taccozzette con Stracotto! Lisa is an amazing cook in her own right (check out her super delicious Sausage, Bean, and Spinach Soup Recipe that she wrote up for Shared Appetite), and her husband Joe is a wine connoisseur. They know good food, so I had to bring my “A” game. I decided for an added challenge, I wasn’t just going to try to recreate Batali’s braised pork shoulder ragu, but I would also attempt to make homemade fresh pasta for the very first time. I know it was incredibly risky, but I was feeling “go big or go home”. To complete the meal, I made a delicious Winter Caprese Salad to start and finished with a super easy Chocolate Souffle with Grand Marnier Creme Anglaise (recipes coming soon).
This braised pork shoulder ragu recipe is a one-pot wonder. It is a warming, hearty dish that is perfect for a winter night dinner and makes entertaining super easy. All the prep work is done way ahead of time. When you are ready to eat, just boil up some pasta and serve! Feel free to make your pasta fresh like I did, but that is totally not necessary.
Typically, movie sequels just aren’t any good… or at the very least, not as good as the original. When it comes to food, however, sequels (a.k.a. leftovers) don’t have to be boring! They can actually be even better than the original meal. My fiance and I look forward to pulled pork every time I make it, but we look forward to the leftovers even more. Why is that? Because pulled pork, the sequel in our house blends together the flavors of BBQ with Mexican cuisine: Pulled Pork Nachos and Pulled Pork Quesadillas! Not only are they absolutely delicious, it is a fantastic way to make those leftovers last for a couple more meals.
I have recently become quite the fan of fusing Mexican dishes with the flavors of BBQ food. Several New York City restaurants are feeling the food fusion love also. Restaurant and food truck Mexicue offers a menu dedicated to the fusion of Mexican and BBQ foods. At Sue Torres’ mexican restaurant in Chelsea, Suenos, she offers a superb appetizer of shredded beef mini tacos topped with a smoky, rich bbq sauce. You feeling the food fusion love yet? Try these simple recipes to give your pulled pork a tasty, inventive makeover:
I love pulled pork. It’s the dish I always order at a BBQ joint. In fact, every time I check out a new BBQ restaurant, the three things I always tend to judge their food quality on is their pulled pork, mac n’ cheese, and cornbread. To me, it’s the perfect trifecta of BBQ eating… add in some sort of sweet potatoes and I’m a happy, happy man. Making authentic pulled pork at home would involve smoking the meat for hours and hours outdoors under my careful watch. Although I can’t wait to own a smoker and embark on the art of smoking meat, there is a simpler, easier, no-fuss way to make a delicious pulled pork meal at home that doesn’t require you to be outdoors with a smoker all day long.