Some Pig!

July 21, 2016

168_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1In the Yucatan they marinate huge pieces of pork in a wonderful red spice mixture, wrap it in banana leaves and bury it in a pit to cook very slowly for many hours. It makes a wonderful dish for a crowd – and the leftovers give you great tacos for days. 

This easy home version doesn’t require a yard or a pit, but it does require a trip to a Latino grocery store for the achiote and frozen banana leaves. It also requires a bit of forethought; the pork needs to marinate for at least 12 hours, to soak up the flavor of all those spices.170_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1

Spice-rubbed pork cooked in Banana Leaves (Cochinita Pibil)

Shopping list: 6 or 7 pound bone-in pork shoulder, cut in half.  1 package of banana leaves. 2 tablespoon achiote seed. 2 teaspoon peppercorns. 2 teaspoon dried oregano. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. (2 inch Mexican cinnamon stick) 2 teaspoon coriander seeds. 2 limes. 3 onions. 2 red peppers (not hot). 2 hot peppers.

Staples: 2 teaspoons salt, 8 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Serves 8-10, with some left over for tacos.

Put the spices into a spice grinder; whirl to a paste.  This may take a bit of time; achiote seed are rather hard and dense. Add garlic cloves and vinegar. Whirl again. Add the juice of 2 limes.

Smear the deep red paste onto the two halves of the pork shoulder, cover well and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day remove the pork from the refrigerator and the banana leaves from the freezer.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Peel the onions, cut them in half,then slice them lengthwise into matchsticks.  Saute them in a bit of olive oil until they turn translucent.   Meanwhile, slice the peppers into strips (use rubber gloves for the hot ones.) Add the pepper strips to the onions, sprinkle in salt and pepper and saute them, until they’ve all gone limp and tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

By now the banana leaves should be defrosted (it takes about half an hour). Remove them from the package, unfold them and cut off the frayed edges and the thick middle spine with kitchen shears.  171_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1To make them soft and pliable, quickly run each leaf across a gas burner.  172_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1I love watching the way the color change ripples across the leaves, turning them shiny in a matter of seconds.205_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1

Line two dutch ovens or casseroles with banana leaves. Then put each piece of pork on a banana leaf, top each one with half of the onion/pepper mixture and wrap the packages well, tucking in the ends.173_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1174_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1

Cook for 3-4 hours in a slow oven.

Serve with white rice, black beans and pickled onions. 

Pickled Red onions.

Shopping list: 2 red onion

Staples: 6 tablespoons vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, 4 cups water.

Slice the onions into fairly thin rings.

Put 4 cups of water into a small pot and stir in the vinegar, sugar and salt, and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the onions and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain. These will keep for a week or so in the refrigerator.203_Reic_9781400069989_art_r1


A Few Great Vintage Recipes

July 20, 2016


As I said yesterday, the April 1980 issue of Gourmet was a particularly good one, filled with all sorts of intriguing recipes. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Figs are in the market now, so I’d begin by making my own fig jam, but this fig tart from the Bistrot de Mougins is intriguing

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This Indian zucchini soup seems just right for this time of year:

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I like the idea of this eggplant dish, from one of those tony uptown New York Italian restaurants too (although I’ll probably use a much simpler tomato sauce):

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Here’s an appealing shrimp dish:

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And finally, Nina Simonds’ irresistible black bean spareribs:

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I can’t leave you without posting this interesting ad, which says so much about the time:

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Looking Backward

July 19, 2016


These are dispiriting days.  No wonder I find myself leafing through the pages of old magazines, dreaming of a time when you could travel to London without going through metal detectors, and spend an entire week in London – hotel, meals and theater included – for less than five hundred bucks.

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City not your thing?  You could travel rural England for about the same price.

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A time when I might actually be inclined to make a strawberry charlotte so complex  it required five separate recipes.

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Come to think of it, this might be the perfect recipe for today, an antidote for this relentless cycle of terrible news. And since it’s raspberry season, I’ll use fresh instead of frozen fruit.

This issue, incidentally, is filled with fantastic recipes: Nina Simonds’ take on Chinese pork. An ode to fresh coriander. And lots of interesting ways with lamb.  Not all of them are as time-consuming as this one; I’ll post more tomorrow.



Corn Puffs Anyone?

July 18, 2016


In the September, 1960 issue of Gourmet, puffs were all the rage. Here are two:



Also in that issue, three ads for Restaurant Associates restaurants: The Four Seasons, The Forum of the Twelve Caesars and The Four Seasons.  I love the modern look of this graphic.

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Perfect Summer Drink, Morning or Night

July 16, 2016

ruth_day_1_902I love sour cherries, love the sly way they sneak away from sweetness, and this time of year I buy them by the quart at the farmers market, bring them home, pit them (with a paper clip), and freeze them to make sour cherry crostatas when the weather’s less congenial.

But the pleasure of this particular recipe is that I don’t bother pitting the cherries.  I simply give the fruit a shower, pull off the stems and plunk them into the blender.

Sour Cherry Lemonade

1 quart sour cherries

4 lemons

1/2 cup sugar (If you like things sweet you’ll want more.  If you’re a connoisseur of sour, you might not want any sugar at all.  Give it a taste and figure out the right recipe for you.) 

1. Wash the cherries and remove the stems.

2. Put the cherries into a blender and process, pits and all, until it is a puree.

3. Strain the cherries in a sieve using the back of a ladle to press on the cherries.  Discard the solids.

4. Squeeze the lemons.

5. Pour the puree into a pitcher and stir in the lemon juice and sugar.

6. When you are ready to drink the cherry-lemonade, pour into a glass and add water (or  sparkling water), to taste. Want to make it a cocktail? Add vodka or gin and top with a sprig of mint.

The puree keeps for 2 days in the refrigerator.