Monday, December 29, 2008

Melted Pork Sammiches

In the wake of the first holiday wave, we're finally getting settled back into some semblance of a routine. There always seems to be a bit of let-down after so many consecutive days of activity, so it seems appropriate to share something delicious and comforting.

You might recall the meltingly tender pork roast recipe that we shared with you earlier in the month. Well, in addition to serving as a delicious dinner that first night, the pork also turned out to make some great leftovers. And this sammich is one of the best of the best.

The inspiration began when we found these delicious looking pretzel rolls at the supermarket bakery.

We bought up a couple of them, brought them home, and started cooking up our sammich concept. The first step was to chop and saute a bit of onion.
And why not get some good caramelization in while we're at it?
We shredded up a bit of the leftover pork...
... sliced up one of the rolls and spruced it up a bit with some of those delicious melted apples and onions.
At that point, we added the pulled pork, a nice handful of the caramelized onions, and a few slices of aged swiss cheese.
And we put the sammich right under the broil to melt the cheese and brown everything up a bit.

The results were beyond fantastic. In fact, this was the perfect sort of sandwich for pairing with a nice pumpkin ale on a cold, snowy evening.

My advice? Make up some of that pork roast and try it for yourself!

Meltingly Tender Pork with Apples

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Imagine the Feasting!

We hope that each and every one of you enjoyed a fantastic holiday... and that it was replete with great food and good company. Ours was beyond enjoyable, despite the seemingly endless snowfall that left us with some sore shoveling muscles and an eight-foot mountain of snow in the back yard! We enjoyed much feasting with our families (including a delicious prime rib dinner at our house on Christmas Day).

The menu:
Roasted chestnut and porcini soup
Rib roast marinated in garlic and fresh thyme leaves
Porcini mushroom and bacon gravy
Baked mashed potatoes with fontina
Butternut squash gratin with goat cheese and hazelnuts
Steamed spinach

and for dessert...
Frozen Grande Marnier Torte with Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberry Topping
We failed to take photos of the complete feast, but I did manage to get a few shots of the rib roast before we set it up for a couple of days of marination time. Not long ago, Amy from We are Never Full posted a recipe for Herb and Lavendar Stuffed Standing Pork Loin Roast (um... YUM). As great as the pork roast was, it was her comments about finding a good neighborhood butcher that rang the most true.

We have a fantastic neighborhood butcher shop just down the road from our house. Bunzel's has been our savior when it comes to last minute dinner parties, mid-summer grilling, and Christmas rib roasts for the past 4-5 years. Not only do they provide a quality product, but their service is impeccable. This year, we put in our order for a USDA prime rib roast the week before Christmas. Not only did Bunzel's come through with a fantastic roast -- but they trimmed and tied the roast up for us on the day we needed it. Just check out the marbling on this roast!

We slathered it up good with the marinade -- which consisted of about 10 cloves of fresh garlic, a few tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme, some salt, and a few tablespoons of olive oil.
The smell was enough to convince us that this roast was to be a thing of beauty...
And from there, we laid it to rest in the fridge for a couple of days until it was ready for roasting.

The roast was seriously fantastic, especially when paired with the porcini gravy. I'm still mourning the fact that I didn't get photos of the finished product... then again, you can probably imagine this beauty for yourself.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Peace & Joy to All!

Here's hoping that each and every one of you is blessed with a very happy holiday -- awash with the company of good friends, family, and plenty of delicious food!

We're taking a short break to enjoy the holidays with our family... but we'll be back in no time to share the joy with all of you!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Meltingly Tender Pork Roast

Although we are not huge meat eaters at our house, when it's time to pull out the roaster we tend to go whole hog. And, in this case, I mean that literally.

This recipe is my absolute favorite way to cook up a pork shoulder. The slow cooking renders the pork meltingly tender, and the apples and onions (which are dessimated by the length of the cooking process) make a seriously fantastic sauce. On top of everything, this roast is a cinch to put together -- although it does require a bit of foresight, as the overnight marination really helps the flavors to permeate the roast.

As I've mentioned, first you must marinate the roast. When you've slathered it all over with a mixture of anise, rosemary, thyme, garlic, peppercorns, salt, and olive oil, you should wrap it up as tightly as you can in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for a day or two. Trust me, it will be beautiful.
When you've got the roast all nicely marinated, you should chop up a few apples. I like to do five apples. But, if you've only got four, that will do nicely. Also chop up a couple of onions.
Season the apples and onions with salt and pepper and place them into the bottom of a nice roasting pan with a cover.
Add the pork roast right on top. I chose (this time) to chop my roast into two pieces. It seemed to work fine, so you can follow my lead if you like. You're also welcome to leave your roast in one piece.
You'll roast the pork at 450ยบ for about 30 minutes. Then you'll turn the temperature way down, add a bit of wine to the pan, and continue cooking it for about 3 more hours. What you'll find in the oven upon your return is a lovely thing. Sweet, succulent pork on a bed of the softest apples you've ever laid your eyes upon.
Don't hesitate to plate the whole mess up nicely on a platter and serve it to guests. They'll love you for it.
We had this beauty for Thanksgiving this year with a side of shaved brussels sprouts and some smashed potatoes with white truffle oil.

Stupendous stuff.
And the best part is, you can make it yourself.

Meltingly Tender Pork with Apples

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Roasted Chestnut and Porcini Soup

I didn't expect to find locally grown chestnuts in our local market the weekend before Thanksgiving. But, when I found them, I couldn't resist buying up a nice handful. I wasn't sure exactly what I'd do with them at first. But, when I ran across this recipe, which I'd clipped out of an old Bon Appetit magazine, I knew it would be the perfect starter for our Thanksgiving dinner.

We'd never roasted chestnuts before, but we figured that now was as good of a time as any to figure it out. We didn't have an "open fire" lying around, so we opted for a more modest method -- roasting the nuts in a cast iron pan. It worked out quite well, if you ask me. And I'd recommend it, if you've ever got yourself a few cups of chestnuts and a 1/2 hour's time. If you're interested, you can read about our technique here.
When the chestnuts were done roasting, they needed to be peeled. A bit labor-intensive, maybe... but totally worth it in my guesstimation. I am all about enduring a bit of pain for the sake of good, honest food, though. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt if you're the type who looks for instant gratification.
While we were peeling those pesky chestnuts, we set a few porcini mushrooms afloat in some nice hot water.
The rehydrated porcini and roasted chestnuts were thrown (albeit gently) into a mid-sized saucepan with some delicious stock. We let them frolic there for between 20-30 minutes so that their flavors could meld and the chestnuts could pick up a bit of additional tenderness. And then we pureed the crap out of them...
... which resulted in one of the silkiest, smoothest soups you can imagine.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we chopped up some rutabaga and carrots and sauteed them until they were nicely caramelized. We'll spare you the details, but when all was finished, we piled them nicely into our prepared soup bowl.
When covered with the delicious soup, the veggies bobbed up top for a bit of air.
This soup definitely relies on the porcini mushrooms for its earthy character; but the chestnuts lend sweetness and texture that really takes the soup up a level. The caramelized root vegetables add interest, and they offer something toothsome to the otherwise creamy soup.

On Thanksgiving day, it was just the two of us. But, this soup is good enough that it needs to be shared. So, I'm suspecting it will have to make an encore performance at Christmas Day dinner.
Am already looking forward to it. *slurp*

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Been Tagged: Seven Random Facts

Been tagged by Lisa over at What We Eat! (OK, got tagged aeons ago... but thanks to Lisa I was inspired to blog again) So, although this is only remotely food-related, I'm going to give it a whirl. My project for class is wrapping up this week, so I promise there will be posts about food very shortly.
  1. I took over five years of piano lessons, and still can't seem to play piano.
  2. I love Lakefront Pumpkin Lager, but I think that Three Lakes pumpkin wine is pretty horrible. Am choking down the last few sips right now, as I type. I'm not sure why I'm still drinking it.
  3. I managed to get through college (as an English major) without having read McBeth.
  4. I roasted chestnuts for the first time on Thanksgiving. Does roasting them on my gas stove count as an "open fire"?
  5. I have been toying with the idea of going back for my master's degree for almost six years now. Ultimately, I think I've decided that I love cooking more than I love school. For some reason, that realization was a little bit scary.
  6. I would really like to get my nose pierced.
  7. I haven't blogged in so long that I'm almost scared to start again.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Foodies on TV?

Remember the pig roast we attended back in September?
Well, apparently, footage from the event was being taped for the television show, Wisconsin Foodie, and Farm to Fork will be shown on Milwaukee television. Catch it this Saturday @11:30 on WISN Channel 12.

You might also be able to catch the FARM TO FORK episode online at

Who knows? Take a gander and you might be able to catch a glimpse of Peef or Lo!

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner Pix

Our Thanksgiving this year was... a bit less than than traditional. The purists would be appalled. But, we couldn't help ourselves.

It was a simple affair that started with roasted chestnut and porcini soup (this soup was seriously good... no great... we just might make it again for Christmas).
Dinner included a side of sauteed shaved brussels sprouts with garlic.
And smashed yukon gold potatoes with buttermilk and white truffle oil.
But, the highlight of the meal was the slow roasted pork with melted apples.
No turkey here folks. And our leftovers... well, they are of the porkly persuasion. But, I can't say I'm terribly disappointed. After all, I did buy that holiday turkey (who can argue with Big Bird at $0.38/lb?). We'll just have to cook him up some other weekend.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been a rough week here. Peef's job was eliminated early in the week, so we're feeling a bit bruised and beaten down. Despite all of our optimism, it seems that the rough economy has finally nipped at our heels. But, we're hoping that the closing of one door brings the opening of another -- and that this is more of an opportunity than a tragedy. So, we're trudging onward, and enjoying a relaxing holiday together.

Even in the midst of bad news, we've got a lot for which to be thankful. In addition to good health, a warm safe home, and a slew of great friends and family, we're celebrating ten amazing years of marriage today. Yeah -- ten whole years! Hard to believe. We've got a lot to celebrate.

So, without further adieu, let's get down to the menu!

We took a less-than-traditional approach to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
For starters, we've cooked up a nice chestnut and mushroom soup, accompanied by sauteed rutabaga and carrots. We'll follow that up with some slow roasted pork with melted apples, a side of sauteed shaved brussels sprouts, and some buttermilk smashed potatoes with a drizzle of white truffle oil. We're drooling just thinking about it.

We hope that you had the chance to enjoy a feast of your own today. And that you also enjoyed the company of friends, family, and a true sense of thanksgiving. We'll be back later with some photos and recipes.

In the meantime -- give thanks!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mmmmm, Beer....

Here at Burp! we love us some good beers. You may have noticed that we tend to sneak a bit of the old brew into our cooking whenever possible.

Fortunately for us we live in an area where it is pretty easy to find good beers. Fortunately for you, I stumbled upon a very helpful website at Seasonal Beers Throughout the Year and am sharing my find with you today.

Here you simply select the season and choose the state you live in and it will find all of the beer that should be available in your area. Along with excellent descriptions of style and flavor each listing comes complete with a food pairing.

We'll do our best to share with you what we are enjoying this holiday season and seasons to come!

In the meantime, don't forget about these recipe that make use of a bit of the old brewsky.

Brussels Sprouts with Beer & Gorgonzola
Green Tomato Chocolate Cake
Butternut Squash Soup with Beer & Cheese
Peef and Lo's Corned Beef

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Slow as Molasses 'Round Here

Greetings, all!
You've probably noticed that I've slowed up a bit on my postings this week, and it looks like that might be the trend for a while. I'm in the midst of a research project that will probably suck up most of my free time for the next few weeks.

So, I wanted to give you fair warning.
I probably won't be posting quite as often as I would like. I will be making an earnest effort to keep up with everyone's blogs, but I won't be posting here quite as often as usual.

I'm hoping that Peef will entertain you with a posting here or there. And rest assured, I'll be back just as soon as I get the chance!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Lentil Soup and Rat Bones

It's the beginning of soup season at our house.

How do we know? Well, there are a number of contributing factors. The air has a pleasant chill to it. The heat's on. And the farmer's market is filled with Brassicas, root vegetables, and winter squash. And that means we're moving beyond the namby-pamby brothy soups that can sometimes sneak their way into our late summer repertoire.

This weekend, we thought it might be nice to use up some of this lovely red kale -- along with some carrots, a couple of onions, and a few cloves of garlic. So, let's start there. I also happened to have purchased some of my favorite little legumes -- the adorable red lentils -- primarily because I was having a craving for red lentil soup. These pretty little guys are much misunderstood. They don't hold their color when cooked. And, rather than holding their shape, they tend to cook up into a mass of lentil-ISH-ness, which some people don't like. But, Peef and I both love a nice red lentil soup/stew/pulse, so we set out to cook them up.
"Ew," Peef winced as he was rinsing the lentils.

Since he sounded pretty grossed out, I spun around from my work sauteeing the onions and carrots, and gave him my full attention.

"It's a rat bone!" he shouted, holding something up between his fingers.

Ever the skeptic, I pulled his fingers closer to my face and took a long, hard look at the piece of debris he was holding in his hand. Sure enough, it was a strangely shaped, slightly hollow looking piece of ... something that looked like bone. Ew. I began to get a little grossed out.
Well, I should have known better, because the funky little smirk that began to appear on Peef's face belied the fact that he was completely throwing me a line.

"Of COURSE it's not a rat bone," he said, as if it wasn't entirely possible that an unsuspecting rat climbed into my bag of lentils and decided to die there.
"It's a stick.""A stick, yeah," I said, "Of course. A stick."
Feeling a little bit silly, I decided to take a picture. You can decide for yourself whether or not it looks like something that belongs in a bag of lentils or not.
In the meantime, let's take a look at the final product.
This is stick-to-your-ribs red lentil soup. A little bit chunky. Nice and thick (though not quite thick enough to stand a spoon up in). Perfumed by the scents of cumin, coriander, garlic, and turmeric. This is the sort of soup that is perfect when served alongside some na'an or other flatbread for dunking. Don't forget a little bit of lemon juice to brighten up all the flavors.
So, heck, make some of your own :)
Red Lentil Soup with Kale
The leftovers made a great side over rice with a bit of throw-together saag paneer.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eat Your Brussels!

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap. Seriously. And I can tell you why.

The first time almost any of us had brussels sprouts, they were overcooked. They smelled of cabbage. Their consistency was a bit, er, slimy. And the flavor. Well, let's just say that their Brassican roots got the best of them.

But, not every brussel sprout dish is created equal. And some can make this humble vegetable taste downright fantastic. This is one of those dishes. So, I want you to listen closely. And open your mind up as far as it will go.

First, you want to start off with the freshest brussels sprouts you can find. These happen to be from a batch I picked up at Saturday's farmer's market on the stalk. I LOVE buying brussels sprouts on the stalk. Not only do they look really cool, but you know they're at the peak of freshness. You want to wash the spouts, peel back any yellowing leaves, and trim off the ends. Then, you'll want to slice each little cabbage in twain.
Heat up a skillet, add a bit of oil, and saute a few onions. When they are starting to get tender, make sure the heat is on the higher end of medium, and add the brussels sprouts. I like to flip them over so that the cut side is down in as many cases as possible, as this promotes the lovely browning you'll see in the photo below. That browning is the beginning of what makes this dish so fantastic. You've never had brussels like this.
Now, when the brussels sprouts look fairly nice and browned, you'll want to add another secret ingredient -- a splash of beer. I like a darker brew here, but almost any beer would work. Splash the beer right into the pan, and cover the brussels sprouts for 5-10 minutes, until they've steamed and are fairly tender. Then get out a block of bleu cheese.

I love this Mindoro Gorgonzola. It has a nice, smooth flavor, and it's just perfect with the brussels sprouts. Now, I don't want to lose you here if you're not a fan of bleu cheese. If that's the case, I want you to substitute a small block of feta cheese.
Either way, cut off a bit of it and make sure it's nice and crumbled.
Then, throw it on top of those unsuspecting brussels sprouts.
When you take your first bite, the salty bleu cheese will greet you on the surface, with the subtle sweetness of the caramelized brussels sprouts lingering underneath. This is the perfect dish to serve alongside anything grilled. But, it also makes for an exceedingly nice topper for baked or mashed potatoes. And, if you have leftovers, they're not half bad piled into an omelette.

I could be wrong. But my bet is this might be just enough to make you rethink your previous opinion of the much-maligned brussels sprouts.

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