Tag Archives: boston

The Questionable Legality of Open Flames in the Backyard: Twelve or So Hours of Epic Roast Beast

We promised pig photos, and pig photos you’re going to get. Be forewarned though; spit roasting a 50 lb pig in the backyard is not exactly a pretty process, although it ends in lots of happy deliciousness. If you’re squeamish about meat, weird animal parts, nose-to-tail eating, or happen to be (gasp!) vegetarian…you probably shouldn’t click the button below. But if you’re curious about how to roast your own whole pig on a bed of charcoal in your backyard, then choose the blue pill and take the plunge into our carnivorous world…
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Mom, Dad and BeanPie Turn 150. We Celebrate with Roast Pig, Crack Pie, and Butter.

It was a grand occasion in the Li family household on Sunday for an epic once-in-a-lifetime event: the 150th birthday party! Once-in-three-lifetimes, to be exact – it was a springtime celebration of our mom’s 60th birthday, Irene’s upcoming 20th birthday, and our dad’s upcoming 70th. Obviously, 60+20+70 = BADASS PARTY TIME. And no badass party would be complete without roasting a 50 lb pig in the backyard.  Or grilling a 30 lb fish. Or baking 10 desserts, including 4 crack pies. Or making 3 kinds of homemade pickles. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of beef brisket, pulled chicken, barbecued ribs, sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, three bean salad, collard greens, and sandwich rolls from Lester’s Barbecue and three sheet trays of cornbread from Andy’s restaurant Harvest.  And an accompanying approximately 20 cubic feet of alcohol. How else would you celebrate such a once-in-three-lifetimes occasion?

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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.

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The Family Styles Holiday Eating Escapades, Part Three: Chinese Home Cooking and Tea Glazed Eggs

One of the best things about being home at my parent’s house is the likelihood that any given moment – approximately 89.75% of the time – the Bean and I can walk into the kitchen and there will be delicious Chinese food cooking.  Yep. It’s pretty sweet.  There’s a lovely Chinese couple, Jenny and Don,  living there who help our Dad around the house and also cook tummy filling and seemingly effortless and homestyle Chinese food.

Quite often these dishes are aesthetically pleasing and easily replicable, like the black tea and spice glazed eggs above.

Other times, these dishes are neither easy to prepare nor particularly attractive…

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The Family Styles Holiday Eating Escapades, Part Two: The Wake and Bake

I am a gloriously productive person every time I return to the States. Blessed with a five-hour time difference from London, I arise at the I-do-lots-of-useful-and-important-things hour of 7am (a time of day I am generally unacquainted with, especially on vacation) and…I do lots of useful and important things.  Like bake lots of focaccia.

Okay, so obviously this is a relative usage of the words ‘useful’ and important’.’  But I do consider baking to be a valuable activity, particularly so over the holidays when the day’s activities consist primarily of getting together with family and eating, meeting up with friends and eating, catching up with old family friends and eating…you get the picture.  In such a gastronomically focused time, baking and other food production techniques grow to paramount importance.

Thus, I present to you the newest addition to my useful brunch party repertoire: The Wake and Bake Eggs. Simple, cheap, non-labor intensive, adaptable, and basically idiotproof.

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The Family Styles Holiday Eating Escapades, Part Two: The Wake and Bake

I am a gloriously productive person every time I return to the States. Blessed with a five-hour time difference from London, I arise at the I-do-lots-of-useful-and-important-things hour of 7am (a time of day I am generally unacquainted with, especially on vacation) and…I do lots of useful and important things.  Like bake lots of focaccia.

Okay, so obviously this is a relative usage of the words ‘useful’ and important’.’  But I do consider baking to be a valuable activity, particularly so over the holidays when the day’s activities consist primarily of getting together with family and eating, meeting up with friends and eating, catching up with old family friends and eating…you get the picture.  In such a gastronomically focused time, baking and other food production techniques grow to paramount importance.

Thus, I present to you the newest addition to my useful brunch party repertoire: The Wake and Bake Eggs. Simple, cheap, non-labor intensive, adaptable, and basically idiotproof.

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The Family Styles Holiday Eating Escapades, Part One: Now THIS is Fried Chicken.

When Irene Bean (little sis) and I (big sis) are in the same place, certain things are bound to happen.  Things like:

1. Obsessive playing of video games (this year it’s Dr. Mario).

2. Multiple rounds of board games (Settlers of Catan, Bananagrams, what have you).

3. Repeated watching of cute things involving babies on the Interwebs (seriously, go watch this).

and, obviously,

4.  A sick amount of cooking. And not just regular cooking. Wake-up-at-7am-and-start-baking-style of cooking.  Make-a-new-kind-of-cake-every-day-style of cooking. Take-24-hours-to-make-fried-chicken-style of cooking. In short, Family Styles cooking.

Hey, it’s the holidays. What else do we have to do?

So here’s what we did. Let’s start off with the chicken. Biggest props go to the Bean for the most laborious, complicated preparation of  Brined-Steamed-Dessicated-and-Deep-Fried-then-Rolled In Special Sauce Chicken from the Momofuku cookbook. Talk about an insanely delicious masterpiece of crispiness. She found the recipe online and spent the first day brining several chickens in multiple plastic bags in the fridge and then steaming them in multiple batches.

Yeah, I know it looks kinda gross, but just wait till it gets deep fried. She then cooled them overnight to dessicate the skin so when the chicken hits the oil, it doesn’t take as long to crisp up the dried skin.  Once deep frying time came around (always an eventful moment in our kitchen), the Bean rigged a Macgyver-style candy thermometer setup using a bobby pin to monitor the boiling oil. I kid you not. It is not pictured though. Sorry.

Then it’s time for a quick dip in the boiling oil. The genius of this extremely labor-intensive process is that the pre-cooked chicken and carefully dessicated skin makes for super short frying time and no danger of overcooking the outside in order to make sure you don’t get raw chicken on the inside.  Plus the skin is thin and incredibly crispy without a thick layer of gross breading and flabby skin. Amazing.

Yup. Tasty time. The chicken by itself was already an amazing bite of oily, crunchy, golden perfection. But to keep things exciting (and add another level of complication to the whole business), Irene meticulously sliced and diced up an Asian vinaigrette with about a dozen ingredients. Jalapeno, garlic, ginger, hot sauce, soy sauce, corn oil, sesame oil, black vinegar, rice vinegar, etc etc = OH HOLLER YOU ARE A WALLOP OF SPICY TANGY NUTTY SALTY YUM.

Stop, drop, and roll. Then fall to your feet in appreciation. This fried chicken is that good, people. Thank you to the inspired brilliance of David Chang and the culinary dedication of my sister. I love you both.

P.S.  If you want to recreate this madness, the recipe is here (in PDF) from TimeOut via the awesome Inuyaki blog.  Or in the Momofuku cookbook. Which I don’t own, but hopefully will someday.

P.P.S. I am still accepting Christmas presents.

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My New Year’s Resolution Was to Post About Thanksgiving, So…

Who doesn’t like to think and read about Thanksgiving deliciousness, even if it’s well after New Year’s? No one, that’s who.

This beauty right here is a kahlua pumpkin pie with a latte-art-esque design in heavy cream, courtesy mostly of one Daniel Bartholomew. We made sure to use real pumpkin (boiled it ourselves and all) and plenty of cream. Just to be safe.

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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.’

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street food in boston: chickpea fritters and incredible bread from the clover food truck

chickpea fritter sandwich

my mother has been working at the same building at MIT medical my entire life. that’s 27 years (as of last week…yeeesh) that i have been visiting or picking her up on the same exact street in cambridge upon which there have never before been big white street food trucks serving freshly made locally sourced meals. and all of a sudden, i pop into boston for three days and here you are, delightful clover food truck.  so happy to make your acquaintance.

if you don’t obsessively follow the san francisco food scene from halfway around the world like i do, you may not know that street food is big these days. it used to be just the taco trucks and the tamale lady when you were drunk at zeitgeist. now everything from soup to salami and curry to creme brulee is being sold from carts and bikes and trucks and hovercraft all over the city. okay, maybe not the last part, but that would be pretty sweet. anyway, the SF street food scene has seriously blown up recently, as have the NYC and LA scenes, many of whom release their locations in real-time via twitter. even from london, i know exactly when a delicious fatty cured pig part sandwich goes on sale at a random intersection in san francisco and i can only mourn that i’m about 6,000 miles too far away to get in line. it’s gotten so big that it’s even spawned a backlash of anti-street-food-fad-sentiment. yes, you know things have gotten big when the haters come out to play. but ignore them and revel in the excitement that is street food. beyond all the tastiness, what’s particularly exciting is that the amazing people at la cocina are organizing a street food festival and the go game is running a street food themed scavenger hunt!  if you’re anywhere near san francisco, go sign up to play because it’s going to be AMAZING.

anyway. talking about street food gets me so excited that i’ve lost track of the original topic of this post, which was intended to be the excellent clover food truck. hooray boston for not letting sf, nyc, and la grab all the attention and making an impressive showing of your own.

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