Saturday, December 06, 2008

Date Night! (With Pork Shoulder)

From the draft archives..... You know, that time when I was writing the book and just could *not* manage a blog too. I know, lame, but hey-- honest. Hopefully by the time I get to write another book I will be better at managing my adjectives~!!

Here's the invite: Hello again, hungry kiddies! I have had my smelling salts and recovered from the conventions. I am lucky enough to have a well placed mole in Anchorage, so if you have pressing questions about Sarah Palin that you feel are not being addressed in the media feel free to ask me... I am sure we can get the real answer. Astoria is in the full grip of Ramadan, which basically means the dates are huge, gorgeous, and everywhere, and most people on Steinway street are cranky until the sun sets. And you? You are back to work! But wait... you can still put your feet in the grass.... in the Love Shack's Back Yard! SND Next Saturday, Sept 13th. Karl will even be there! A couple of nods to Ramadan and improbably, a tribute to my favorite of all meats... PORK. Chilled Red Pepper Soup with Sumac and Lemon Yogurt *** Steakhouse Salad with Tomatoes, Red Onion, Blue Cheese and BACON Vinaigrette *** Summer Squash Gratin *** Roast Pork Shoulder with Figs and Dandy Greens *** Braised Rice Soubise *** Date Shakes!! As usual, the first 20 peeps get the seats, so rsvp as soon as you know. I do run a waitlist. Please, no cancellations after Friday @ 5pm. I look forward to breaking bread with you! In Love and Garlic, Tamara (Mrs!!)

Zucchini Gratin. So simple, and sooo delicious. Slice up zucchini, toss with a salsa verde (the Italian kind-- basil, mint, parsley, thyme, rosemary, garlic, anchovy, olive oil and a touch of lemon in the cuisinart until a smooth paste), and layer with a little guyere or fontina, parmesean, and bread crumbs that have been toasted in butter on the top. Bake it for 1/2 hour on 350. So so good-- even people who don't LIKE zucchini love it! A spring/summer/fall staple.

This dinner was accidentally very rich. Between the braised pork, the rice soubise, (a soupy rice with onions, butter and stock-- I even left the cheese OUT because it seemed like a bit much!), the figs and the dates... whoa Nellie. When I plan a menu that is this rich I make sure to add EXTRA dandy greens. Believe it or not, at times like these, they can be refreshing! Seriously! Plus, when you put them under a braised meat they become "dressed" by the sauce of the meat and slightly wilted, taming their aggressive bitterness.
MMMmmmmmm. Date Shakes! Dates, Whole milk, vanilla ice cream, and dark rum! Blender it up! Yeah, man.
Braised pork shoulder, one of the best cuts of meat for bang for your buck, In our neighborhood, it is sometimes only .89/lb. UNDER a buck a pound!! It takes time, but you can steal that while you are sleeping!!! No really. Put the shoulder in a big pan with a tight fitting lid, some stock, water and or wine, spices, and pop it in a lower temp oven (225-250) and go to sleep! When the delightful smell or your need to pee wakes you up at dawn, take it out, go back to sleep, and round about the time you get up for real, it will be cool enough to put in the fridge until you get home from work and are ready for it. Additionally, the day of flavor development can only help.

Figs. Magical figs. These were just cut up and tossed with the dandy greens, salt and pepper. Hot pork juice sauced and wilted it all!
This red pepper and sumac soup feels like a year round recipe. It is bright but substantial, and finished with a lemony/garlicky yogurt. Greek yogurt here- always. Pre-strained, thick and delicious-- so much better than even whole milk yogurt.
Steakhouse salad with bacon vinaigrette. Slab bacon, cut into a dice and fried, taken out of the pan and then cider vinegar and a little sugar tossed in. All poured over a romaine salad with shaved red onions and sliced persian cucumbers. Yeah. Pretty much anytime you can add bacon to a salad it is a good plan.
This was one of the last dinners in the yard... how does summer end so quickly???? Next summer we will be in a different yard... a little sad, a little exciting. I will hope for more space and better soil. All the better to grow my tomatoes, beans and sorrell!!

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