DIY Hoisin Sauce

by Anne Maxfield on April 14, 2016

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Accidental Locavore DIY Hoisin SauceAre you a huge fan of hoisin sauce? If you’ve ever eaten Peking Duck or Moo Shu Pork, it’s that delicious dark sauce that gets painted onto the pancakes. The Accidental Locavore has always been a big fan–Frank and I often make pork roasts smothered in some mix of hoisin and whatever looks Asian in the fridge. So when bon appétit ran this recipe for pork chops with hoisin sauce that you make yourself, I was skeptical at first—why make it when the stuff in the jar is just delicious? But then I saw how easy it was and became interested.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, honey, vinegar, tahini, and Sriracha and whisk until smooth. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture is thick and smooth, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper and let it cool. The sauce will keep about 4 days, covered, in the refrigerator (if you don’t eat it all first).

I used half the hoisin to marinate the pork chops overnight, but if you’re impatient, you can do them for as little as an hour. The way I’ve been cooking pork chops recently is really simple, it just requires “standing over a hot stove” but you can catch up on email etc… Click here for the recipe.

Accidental Locavore Hoisin Marnated Pork Chops (2)My verdict: We were both really surprised at the addition of tahini which I’ve never thought of as Chinese, but hey, they travelled. This was really good and the hardest part was coaxing the honey from the container. They just don’t make those bears like they used to! I’m about to make another batch to coat a pork loin that will get roasted (unless the weather warms up and we can grill). I forgot to do a taste test with our old standby, but there will be other chances. What do you think the results will be?

 

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Spring vs. Fall: Guilty of Seasonal Profiling?

by Anne Maxfield on April 11, 2016

Accidental Locavore Red Hook ApplesWhile wandering the golf course on a beautiful October day last fall and picking apples off the trees, it occurred to the Accidental Locavore that maybe, just maybe, it’s not really a dislike of fall produce, but possibly I’m guilty of seasonal profiling.

Accidental Locavore Nice MarketWhile I’ll happily gorge on asparagus, ramps, morels and strawberries the minute they start to appear, apples, and any form of winter squash generally get the cold shoulder from me. I’m always so ho-hum about them – cooking them and enjoying them on an as-needed basis, but never really embracing them.

Accidental Locavore Butternut Squash With SaucesHowever, this winter, I made a recipe for butternut squash from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More that was wonderful and could make me a believer. And when I feel like they’ve been sitting around too long, there’s always dehydrating them for the dog (or unsuspecting guests). Like most fruits and vegetables, a fresh-picked crisp apple has a lot going for it, great flavor and texture, that you don’t get later in the year. But the days get shorter, leaves fall off trees and you know it’s going to be progressively colder. Not good.

Accidental Locavore DaffodilsSpring on the other hand, brings all sorts of young greens. There are morels and ramps to be foraged for, or bought at a farmers’ market – which are back in business. Asparagus hit the stores, getting bigger (my favorites, yes, I’m a size queen) as the season progresses. Artichokes, another favorite, arrive from the other coast and strawberries introduce months of berries and cherries. There are all my favorite flowers – daffodils, tulips, peonies and lilacs. The days get longer and warmer and sorry, you can’t begin to argue that anything in October beats that!

Accidental Locavore Huge SquashEven though I might be a candidate for fall tolerance training (butternut squash matter?), I love a day where it’s light past 5:00, I can dust off the barbecue and save Frank from washing a pile of pots and pans. Give me spring lamb, asparagus any way, and a bunch of daffodils from the garden and I’m happy! What about you? Any arguments for squash and apples?

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Mark Bittman’s Slow Cooker Cassoulet

by Anne Maxfield on April 7, 2016

Locavore Slow Cooker CassouletCassoulet, slow cooker, all ingredients on hand, cold weather, dinner, time for the Accidental Locavore to start cooking! This recipe was on the NY Times Cooking site and serves 4 or more.

  • ½ pound dried small white beans, like pea or navy
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes, with their juice (canned are fine)
  • 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ pound slab bacon or salt pork, in 1 piece
  • 4 sweet Italian sausages, about 3/4 pound
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 duck legs (confit if possible)
  • Chicken, beef or vegetable stock, or water, or a mixture, as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs, optional
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Combine beans, crushed garlic, onion, carrots, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and meats in a slow cooker, and turn heat to high. You can brown the sausages and duck legs in a skillet before, if you’d like. Add stock or water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and cook until beans and meats are tender, 5 to 6 hours on high heat, 7 hours or more on low.

When done, add salt and pepper to taste, along with minced garlic. If you like, remove cassoulet from slow cooker, and place in a deep casserole; cover with bread crumbs and roast at 400 ° until bread crumbs brown, about 15 minutes. Garnish, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Mark Bittman's CassouletMy verdict: Three caveats before I begin: I’ve never been a big fan of Mark Bittman, but was intrigued by the idea of an easy cassoulet. If you think something is weird in a recipe, trust your gut and figure out a work-around. Finally, you have to cook with love and if you don’t things never taste as good. This was made in a series of bad-mood days and it was reflected in the finished product.

You’ve probably gotten the idea that this wasn’t one of my better meals. As a matter of fact, it was one of the worst. It started out with good ingredients, beautiful dried beans, sausages (breakfast, not Italian – really Mark?) from Four Legs Farm, ditto the pork shoulder. I had homemade duck legs confit and breadcrumbs from a recent baguette.

Accidental Locavore Duck ConfitFirst sign of trouble – ignoring the warning signs in my head that the beans should have been soaked overnight before going in the pot. After the first day of cooking (and it was more than the 5-7 hours given) the beans were rock hard and inedible. The pot went on the back porch to cool down, we went out to eat. Long story short, I cooked everything for about three days, before the beans were tender enough to eat. By that time, we were both well over our cassoulet cravings, so we foisted it off as dinner on an unknowing, but very polite friend (sorry Laura!). It was essentially mush, and what might have been distinct flavors on day one or two, were just different textures.

So, except for the buttermilk biscuits I use for making strawberry shortcakes, I’m through with Bittman! But not cassoulet – I had a great one in Nice!

 

 

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1,2,3,4: 1 Pig, 2 Saturdays, 3 Chefs, 4 Takeaways

by Anne Maxfield on April 4, 2016

Accidental Locavore Saturday 2Two Saturdays cutting up a pig seems like a big commitment, and the Accidental Locavore wants you to know it was a one of the best events I’ve been to in a long time! The first day was mostly about breaking down (butchering) the pig. Tom, the butcher/instructor, first showed us what the various parts were and different ways of cutting them, depending on what sort of finished product you were after. There were a lot of lessons to be learned, and not all of them were about how to cut up a pig.Accidental Locavore Ancho Chile Powder

  1. Dehydrating chiles: Our lunch for the first day was a Southwestern Chili made with tender bits of pork in a tomato-based sauce. Ancho chile powder was one of the big ingredients. Dan said they made the chile powder by dehydrating chiles and grinding them in a coffee grinder. Since I was working on the dehydrated sweet potatoes for the dog, it wasn’t too hard to just add a cookie sheet with some anchos. I seeded them and put them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. They were in a 170° degree oven for about 6 hours. I then ran them through my spice grinder (which is just a coffee grinder, drafted for spice duty) and got a great-tasting container of ancho chile powder –so much better than what you get at the store!Accidental Locavore Freezer Inside
  2. My freezer: On the second Saturday, buoyed by the work of the previous week, a couple of the guys were talking about buying and breaking down their own pig. As tempting as this might be, real life gets in the way. First of all, my butcher block isn’t big enough for 50 pounds worth of pig. Even if it was, there is absolutely no way it would fit in the freezer. The worst part about that last statement is that we have a refrigerator-sized freezer. As friends of mine have said, you could eat out of that freezer for 100 years. Probably not, but possibly 100 days. I decided to challenge myself to see how long I could go without buying meat. So far, we’re at the end of week two and the only protein I’ve bought were some sole fillets, because we were eating so much meat. I’ll give you a rundown of what I’ve concocted from the freezer as soon as it looks like we’ve made a dent in it.Accidental Locavore Tom and Half Pig
  3. Planning ahead and possibilities: Like so many things in life, when you’re butchering a pig, you need to have a plan. Surprisingly, there are lots of options and what you do depends on what you want to end up with. Ribs or roasts? Hams and shanks or osso buco of pork? Belly or bacon? If cut number one is halving the animal, cut number two is where the planning starts.Accidental Locavore Tete Pressee
  4. Stepping out of your comfort zone: Besides the fact that the barn where we were was about 20 degrees, which is definitely not in my comfort zone, there were plenty of chances to step out of your food comfort zone. My most daring venture was probably the head cheese (tête pressée) and as it turned out, my favorite of all the things we made with the odd parts.

So those were some of the surprising lessons learned over a pig carcass. Stay tuned for what the contents of my freezer ended up being.

 

 

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