Category Archives: mmm meat.

Real Bacon, Real Excitement, and a Really Delicious Caramelized Garlic Tart. Obviously, With Bacon.

If  you’ve ever met me, you know I have a thing for bacon.

I love bacon enough for my sister and I to make an all-bacon Thanksgiving feast with 8 dishes including bacon stuffing, bacon mashed potatoes, and bacon-wrapped turkey. I love bacon enough to go to a Bacon Camp and make bacon sushi and take random photos of beautiful bacon dishes. I love bacon enough to do a 4-course Iron Chef-style bacon smackdown that included bacon chocolate and bacon cookies and have been known to make bacon cupcakes and even bacon macaroni-and-cheese cat cakes. Don’t ask. I even love bacon enough to tattoo it on my face.

So you can probably comprehend my fat-kid-in-a-candy-shop-on-Christmas-morning level of excitement when this package arrived in the mail. I actually jumped up and down and squealed like a pig.  A delicious, dry-cured British pig.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

A Rambling Aphrodisiac Dinner, Complete With Searing Loins and Gin & Tonic Jelly

Hooray! It’s time for another Rambling Restaurant Singles Night featuring an aphrodisiac dinner, so you know things are bound to get hot.  Particularly when you have five people in a veryverycozy kitchen and have fresh bread baking in the oven, a giant vat of soup bubbling on the stove, and ten large pork loins popping and fizzing boiling oil all over the place.

Really. Hot. Temperatures. Luckily, there was also a dining room full of really hot people (yes yes, as in extremely attractive) all mixing and mingling on the other side of the curtain.  To get their taste buds primed and hearts racing, we served four courses featuring ingredients thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.  Of course, both dessert courses featured what is inarguably the most guaranteed aphrodisiac of them all – a large quantity of alcohol. Which is how we started the night as well, with glasses of passionfruit, raspberry and rosebud fizz.

Each cocktail came with a little tag marked with a suit denoting where to sit for your first table, along with some silly icebreaker questions inside to spark conversation or incite passionate debate.  Our eleven brave men and eleven brave women scattered amongst four tables to wait for these shiny happy braids of dough…

…to toast to perfection into these lovely browned plaits with a soft and fluffy white interior.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Adventures in Haggis Making: Sheep Innards, Beef Kidney Fat, and Fun with a Deep Fryer

A handful of haggis

When I was told we’d be celebrating our Rambling Restaurant Burns Night with poetry, whiskey, and homemade haggis stabbing, my thoughts went like this:

1. Awesome! I’ve always wanted to try haggis.

2. By the way, what’s Burns Night?

3. And while I’m asking…what, exactly, is haggis?

4.  A sheep heart, lung, and liver minced and mixed with oatmeal and onions and stuffed inside a sheep stomach? <gulp> We are definitely going to need that whiskey.

Haggis, to most ignorant Americans like myself, is one of those iconic Scottish associations like kilts, bagpipes, and Mel Gibson covered in blue facepaint and exuding a throaty roar for ‘FREEEEDOOOM!’ We might have heard of it but almost certainly wouldn’t be able to say what it’s made of, only that it has something to do with terrifying animal parts and probably shouldn’t ever be consumed until after seven shots of Scotch.

Well, let me set the record straight on two fronts.

1. As much as you may love William Wallace in a skirt, kilts weren’t invented for another three centuries (one of the many twists of truth contributing to Braveheart being second on a list of ‘most historically inaccurate’ movies ever made).

2.  Haggis is, shockingly, absolutely delicious.

However, it took quite a long time and a lot of work to get it to that point. And I’ll be  honest, there was a fair amount of  grimacing, gagging, nose-holding, and are-we-really-serving-this-to-paying-customers?-questioning along the way.  It all started with my haggis-making partner-in-crime, foodrambler, hunting in vain and then finally securing three lamb’s plucks – the windpipe, heart, lungs and liver – for our haggis adventure. Following this recipe from the Guardian by Tim Hayward, she began the adventure the previous evening by cutting out the windpipes (blecch), boiling the plucks for several hours then leaving them to cool overnight in the murky cooking liquid.

A rubbery white sheep heart above and a massive chunk of liver below. Not exactly the most appetizing start to a meal, is it?  Don’t worry though, there is deliciousness to come…

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Family Styles Holiday Eating Escapades, Part Five: Momofuku Inspired Miso Butter Scallops

If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you know quite well that Irene and I have a bit of a thing for David Chang and his small East Village Momofuku restaurant empire.  The cookbook has been bedtime reading for both of us as well as the source of three or four or maybe eight dishes over the past few weeks. I’m almost glad I left the book back in Boston with Andy (it was ostensibly his Christmas gift anyway) because things were getting a bit out of hand.

I first ate at Momofuku Noodle Bar in its initial tiny incarnation about four years ago and felt a pressing and insistent desire to return after finishing the cookbook.  Luckily I was leaving for New York the next day, so less than 24 hours later I found myself alongside devoted noodle fans Lexi and Rachel, hunkered down over steamed buns glistening with fatty pork belly, pungent and slippery ginger and scallion noodles, and a steaming hot porky bowl of classic Momofuku ramen that I could now recreate if I had a ridiculous amount of time and an even more ridiculous amount of pork.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

Holiday Happiness With Perfect Pork Shoulder and Crunchy Crackling

One of the most deliciously useful bits of knowledge I have gained so far in my time in London: how to roast a perfect pork shoulder, complete with addictive crunchy little strips of crackling on the top. At Rambling Restaurant a few weeks ago, chef foodrambler made a classic Sunday roast from the excellent River Cottage MEAT book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. While flipping through the cookbook, I happened upon this recipe for Aromatic Shoulder of Pork ‘Donnie Brasco,’ so named because you can put it in the oven on low heat overnight and ‘fuhgeddaboutit.’ Oh Hugh F-W, you are hilarious. Also, a meat genius.

Since the mere reading of the recipe made my stomach grumble with longing, we decided to make the pork shoulder for three consecutive Rambling Restaurant suppers. After a day’s worth of roasting, you pry apart the brittle outer shell of crackling and dig through a shuddering layer of burning hot pork fat to find the most perfect, tender, juicy, falls-apart-with-the-tug-of-a-fork meat. Shredded with two dueling forks and bathed in an impromptu soy-hoisin-chili-garlic-leftover spring roll dipping sauce mixture, we had guests raving that it was the best pulled pork they’d ever tasted.  And so I recreated it for my family back home in Boston, introducing them to the joy that is garlic and spice-rubbed, high heat-blasted pig skin.  Here’s the recipe so you can do it yourself, very very slightly adapted from Hugh F-W’s recipe in ingredients and time, should you decide at lunch that pork shoulder is essential for dinner, without quite enough time to ‘fuhgeddaboutit.’

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

Insanely Indulgent Butter-Fried, Onion Soup-Simmered Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Ricotta

butternut squash butter roasted pasta

This may look appear to be normal pasta – if anything, a bit mushy and brown looking,  but otherwise nothing special. But no. This is some seriously, insanely, unnecessarily butteriffic pasta.

Butteriffic: (adj) infused with a completely superfluous amount of butter to the point of unsurpassed deliciousness and extreme caloric overload.

TV is generally full of all sorts of useless drivel, which is why I don’t own a television. However, sometimes TV teaches you important things. For example,  how to take a decadent and already relatively unhealthy dish such as macaroni & cheese and then infuse it with more deep, rich, buttery flavor to the point of…well, I was going to say heart attack, but I’m still standing.  So then, more accurately, to the point of AMAZING.  For this knowledge, I owe thanks to the final episode of MasterChef, which, based on my one viewing, appears to be  a British show of similar concept and nearly identical name to Top Chef.  In the ultimate challenge to determine a winner, the contestants had to recreate the dishes from a Michelin-starred chef for thirty other Michelin-starred chefs.  Yikes. I learned that Michelin-starred food is precise, complex, innovative, boundary-pushing, technological, demanding, beautifully presented, really ridiculously complicated, and most importantly – you guessed it, butteriffic.

The macaroni & cheese, elevated to Michelin-starred standards, involved dried pasta pan-roasted in butter,  simmered in veal stock, covered in stock glaze, cut into perfect circles, and stacked into a tower with layers of butternut squash and another over-the-top indulgence, duck confit.  Apparently the dish took four hours to make,  and that’s along with the 18 ducks that Steve, the ultimate winner, had to simultaneously roast.  Obviously I have neither the skill nor the time to recreate this dish, although maybe I should try because then I could eat it. But pan roasting in butter and simmering in stock? That I can do.

And now you can too, if you’re looking for that extra hefty dosage of calories. But hey – it’s also an extra hefty dose of seriously tasty comfort food, perfect for curling up in a comforter on the couch on a cold day.  This would also be an excellent dish if you were a bear looking to stock up on fat for hibernation. If you’re not a bear…well, you’ll just have to take my word for it that the buttery goodness is worth the fat.

Continue reading

Tagged ,

bacon camp recipes, round two: panko encrustifried avocado and bacon sushi with wasabi bacon mayonnaise

three of the most i-could-eat-you-any-time-in-any-form-and-am-totally-head-over-heels-obsessed-with-you foods in my world of edibility: 1. bacon. 2. avocado. 3. sushi.

add them all together. toss in some deep frying action. squiggle on some bacon mayonnaise. OH HOLY CRAP!!!!!

deep-fried-avocado-bacon-sushi-with-wasabi-bacon-mayonnaise

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

an award-winning chili recipe and a straight-from-the-farmer’s-market salad

i’d like to take the opportunity to share the recipe for the best chili i’ve had the pleasure to taste, as invented by my cousin jeff and his friend jack.

pssssh, you say. everyone thinks they have the best chili recipe.

well, does everyone have a ‘people’s choice’ award from an actual legit chili cookoff?

people’s choice?’ you disdainfully snort. that’s like the loser miss congeniality award for the girl that doesn’t have big enough fake boobs to actually win Miss New Jersey Junior Teen America.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

fun with leftovers – the ultimate cage fighting of the cooking world

to follow up on my food politics and cooking post, i’m going to try to write a bit about easy, affordable, healthy, and hopefully sustainable ways to cook. one way to keep things free and sustainable is by recycling the items already available in your fridge! if you find yourself in the somewhat-unlikely-but-always-possible scenario of having a fridge full of leftovers from a bacon smackdown, you may not be able to cover the healthy part, but hey, animal fat is good for you, right? right?

the thing i like best about cooking with leftovers is that there are no rules. it’s like the ultimate cage fighting of cooking  – you can forcefully fish-hook someone in the nostrils or make brown sugar pork pie if you that’s what you fucking feel like doing. you’re not trying to follow a predefined recipe or get your souffle to rise, you’re just tossing together what you’ve got in a way that hopefully tastes delicious. so what if it’s not an actual dish? when you’re done mixing shit up, it will be.

food porn and alien pigs after the jump.

Continue reading

Tagged ,

i love you, sweet sweet bacon dessert.

part two of recipes from the bacon showdown covers my experimentation with the bacon dessert world. irene, as you and i know from the sweet corn-maple-bacon cupcakes incident, people do not necessarily enjoy their desserts tasting like meat. why this is, i do not know. however, the foodie crowd attending the bacon smackdown was definitely primed and ready for some sweet bacon experimentation.

i was having trouble selecting a single dessert recipe, so i ended up making two bacon dessert items plus a bacon cocktail (considered but discarded ideas included a maple bacon bread pudding, candied bacon popcorn, and maple icecream with bacon bits…i’ll save those for the rematch). two of the dishes included the fabulous duo bacon and bourbon together. here’s a photo of the new BFFs for life.

bacon-and-bourbon

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,