bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon, …

Pig cheeks, salt, sugar, thyme, pepper, and bay

Evenly distributed spices

With surprisingly little effort, we’ve been able to make at home a simple cured pork product we’d been paying nearly thirty dollars a pound for. The most difficult part is procuring the pig jowls. It turns out, they are readily available on the internet.

Once received, cut away any nodes of discolored or harder meat from the flesh side. Rub the 4 pounds of jowls down very thoroughly with a spice mix of –


2 cups sugar

2 cups salt

1/4 cup chopped thyme

6 bay leaves, julienned

2 Tablespoons coarse ground black pepper

After four days turn and redistribute spices

For more meat, adjust the recipe as necessary. Assure the meat is well covered and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the back of the fridge for ten days. After four days, remove and stir and redistribute the spice mix. After ten days, remove from the spice, rinse lightly, and dry well. Pat with paper towels. Punch a hole through the narrow end of the jowl in order to run a string to hang. Hang the jowls for at least ten days. It is at this time that humidity control can be very advantageous. We used a damp dish towel in the empty fridge. I would assume a fridge with more contents would be slightly more humid. Ideally, the curing period should start off wet and end drier. Now, what to do with this stuff. Pasta carbonara and alla amatriciana are two recipes originally written for guanciale. We did a Fusilli guanciale i tot soi with hearty greens from the garden. Good Stuff!

Fusilli guanciale i tot soi

    Fusilli guanciale i tot soi

1/4 cup guanciale, chopped

1/8 cup chopped garlic

2 cups chopped hearty greens, tot soi, chard, broccoli rabe,…

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 pound fusilli

2 Tablespoons of butter

Slowly render the sliced guanciale in a little olive oil. When nearly crisp and tan, carefully drain off excess fat and add garlic. Cook for only a few seconds and then add the hearty greens. Reserve the fat for sauteeing vegetables and such. Add fusilli to boiling water and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, stir the greens, once all are wilting, add the stock. At this time, make sure the burner is on high. Cook until greens are tender and remove from heat. Add butter and stir until incorporated. Toss with pasta hot from the pot. DO NOT RINSE pasta before this step, EVER! Serve with the biggest wine you can find (not the biggest box!) Good Stuff!




Berry Nice!

Strawberries en Regalia

June can never arrive too soon in our home. Maybe the work is almost done in the garden, maybe it’s warming up, maybe there are strawberries at the local stand. Fresh local berries stand on their own, but there are oh so many wonderful ways to prepare them. We love shortcake, but serve something that is more like berries, cream, and biscuits. A longtime favorite is ice cream. Some of us have an ice cream maker, hidden in the back of the pantry, perhaps. A maker is not necessary, however. We simply use two nesting plastic containers with tight fitting lids( check FB for the video!). The smaller, inner container holds the ice cream mix. The larger, outer container is filled with ice and 1-2 cups coarse ice cream salt (available at most markets.) Make sure all lids are tight, when the ice cream mix cools it will try to suck in the saltwater from the surrounding tub. Shake the tubs for 15-20 minutes, even thirty minutes. Before checking the ice cream, rinse the saltwater from the tub. Once the ice cream is set, return to the freezer for at least one hour before service. Good Stuff!

Strawberry Shortcake

1 quart strawberries, washed and sliced

½ cup sugar

juice of ½ lemon

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon butter

½ cup more heavy cream

2 teaspoons sugar

Mix the berries, sugar and lemon. Set aside. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add most of heavy cream, and then all, if necessary, to make a stiff dough. Knead for 45-60 seconds. Spoon heaped tablespoons of dough into melted butter, coat the top and bottom and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle all the biscuits with sugar before baking for 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees. Allow biscuits to cool fully before serving with berries and whipped cream. Good Stuff!

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

1 pint strawberries

¾ cup cream = 12 T

3/8 cup sugar = 6 T

2 yolks

1 ½ tablespoons honey

1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Place the berries into the container of a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth and set aside.

Heat 5/8 cups of the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble at the edge of the pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, remaining 1/8 cup cream, and honey. Gradually pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and heat until the mixture is 170 degrees. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Combine custard with the berry puree and strain through a sieve and refrigerate until deeply chilled.

Fill an ice cream maker with the mixture, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions or freeze using the method described above. Good Stuff!

Tomato, Tomawto

Carefully scooped out tomatoes with diced flesh in foreground

Stuffed and ready for the oven

Father roasted a leg of lamb with saffron and garlic for Easter dinner. It was fabulous! Mother, however, is a vegetarian. So, for dinner for her and as a side for us we made these fantastic stuffed tomatoes. Simple and quick, and from what I understand, even better the next day. Good Stuff!



Stuffed Vine Ripe Tomatoes

4 – 6 Medium vine ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

3/4 cup shredded cheese (we used parmesan and romano)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic chopped

1/2 medium onion chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

pinch of chopped fresh rosemary and thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the garlic and onion in the olive oil until soft and set aside to cool. Cut about 1/2 inch from the top of the tomatoes, reserve for another use. Carefully scoop the interior flesh from each tomato leaving a solid 1/4 to 3/8 inch shell of tomato to stuff. Over a sieve, remove all the seeds and waters from the tomato flesh, strain out the juice and reserve for another use. Dice the flesh, use about one half for the stuffing and, you guessed it, reserve the rest for another use. Toss the diced tomato flesh with the breadcrumb, cheese, herbs, cooked onion and garlic. Season to taste. The stuffing should be on the dry side. If you desire, it may be moistened with some of the tomato waters. Stuff the tomato shells and arrange in a baking dish. Bake at 400 degreesfor 15 – 20 minutes, until the stuffing starts to brown. Allow to set for several minutes before plating and serve warm. Good Stuff!

Toasty loveliness fresh from the oven


Plated with roast lamb, kobucha squash, braised cavallonero, and potato lyonnaisse

Boiled with stock and spices

Cooked vegetables and cabbage laid n bottom of roasting pan.

Winter has nearly ended, and it never really began! Nevertheless, this month we will celebrate the beginning of spring and the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day with Mickey Valcich, Grand Marshall. It is an honor well deserved. In recognition we will be preparing Corned Beef and Cabbage with Brown Irish Soda Bread. Corned beef is called such because it was originally beef that was packed in salt, salt kernels roughly the size of corn. The beef would then be boiled to rehydrate and rinse the salt off. Today the beef brisket we buy for corned beef is already salted and rinsed and is ready to be boiled for presentation. This recipe has been adapted from the MFD recipe passed down by word of mouth over the years. Particularly the presentation method lends itself to an easy parade day, just pop it in the oven and pop a cold one. Good Stuff!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

4 pounds corned beef brisket

1 pack spices (included with beef)

4 bay leaves

2 Tablespoons pickling spice (optional)

1 head cabbage, cut into wedges

4-5 potatoes, cut into wedges

2 carrots, cut into thick slices

2-4 ribs celery, cut into chunks

1 quart, more or less, water or stock to cover vegetables in roasting pan

1 beer

On the day before service, place beef, spices, any juice from beef package, beer and water into a large pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook over low heat, covered, for 3-4 hours. Until fork tender but not falling apart. Remove meat from pot and place in refrigerator to cool. Strain the juice and return to pot. Boil potatoes, carrots, and celery until fork tender as well. Remove from pot and arrange in roasting pan along with wedges of cabbage. Place all in refrigerator to cool. Also chill the juice. Next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice corned beef and spread over the vegetables in roasting pan. Add enough juice to cover all vegetables. Cover and reheat in oven until boiling well and cabbage is tender, about 1 and ½ to 2 hours. Remove from oven and leave covered while preparing bread, below.


Brown Irish Soda Bread

4 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup bread flour

1/3 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups buttermilk


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets. In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, white flour, rolled oats, baking soda and salt. Gently mix in the buttermilk until soft dough is formed. Knead lightly and shortly. Divide dough into 4 pieces; form into rounded flat loaves. Mark each loaf with an ‘X’ and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes. Serve warm with corned beef, boiled vegetables, and cold Smithwick’s. Good Stuff!

Corned beef and cabbage


Stuff it!

Assembled ingredients and sauteeing mirepoix

Three pans, ready for simmering

We love roasting chicken. A noble meal, roast bird satisfies on day one and provides meat for days of other applications. Leftover pulled pork, stewed meat, and even chopmeat can be used in this dish. This dinner took most of an hour to prepare, but was so very well worth it. Simply get all the pots going at once, and all is ready at the same time. Remember that rice always cook for sixteen minutes after boil, so when heating the beans and baking the rellenos, time accordingly. Serve with ice cold Dos Equis! Good Stuff!


Chili Rellenos with Ranchero Sauce and Yellow Rice

1/2 pound cooked meat, pulled or shredded

2 large poblano peppers roasted, peeled, and seeded

1 large tomato peeled, seeded, and chopped (or 1/2 cup chopped tomato)

1 yellow onion chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

3 ribs celery chopped

1 carrot chopped fine

1-2 jalapeno pepper chopped

3 Tablespoons bacon fat or Olive Oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup rice

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup water

2 Tablespoons cornmeal

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Sautee onion, celery, carrot, and jalapeno in fat until soft. Add cumin and oregano and toast while stirring for several minutes. Remove from heat. Remove 2 Tablespoons cooked vegetables to a small pot for the rice, add turmeric and reserve. Remove 3 Tablespoons vegetables to a second small pot and add 1/4 cup chicken stock and chopped tomato, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with 1 Tablespoon oregano and 1 Tablespoon cilantro and reserve. Return remaining vegetables to heat and add cornmeal, toast for several minutes and add meat. Stir well and add 1/4 chicken stock. Simmer for several minutes, add water sparingly if necessary. Add 2 Tablespoons cilkantro. Season meat and ranchero sauce generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the two peppers with half of the meat each. Place in a baking dish and cover with ranchero sauce and shredded cheese. Place in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until brown over the top and hot inside. Meanwhile turn heat on to high on rice pot, add rice to vegetables and toast shortly. Add 1/2 cup stock and 1/2 cup water, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with fork, season with salt, pepper, and 1 Tablespoon cilantro and reserve for service. Serve piping hot with iced cold beer. Good Stuff!

Hot out of the oven, two stuffed poblano peppers

Plated Chili Rellenos with ranchero sauce and black beans with yellow rice



What in Sam-osas?

Cut rings from the rolled out dough with a round cutter or glass

Fork those edges tight from both sides

While looking about for a protein to serve with the fantastic romanesco masala we put together, chanced upon a great recipe for samosa dough. Assembles easily, handles fluidly, and bakes airily. The dough can be stuffed with any leftover masala or these we stuffed with some chopmeat seasoned with garlic, onion, ginger, cumin, and garam masala. OK, tacomeat seasoned with garam masala! Seal them well, the flour on both sides makes that a little difficult, and serve them hot. Good Stuff!

Buttery Samosa Dough

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup ice cold butter, diced small

4 to 8 Tablespoons ice cold water

Deeply chill kitchenaid bowl and paddle attachment for some time before assembly. Combine flour, salt, and small diced butter in kitchenaid and mix at low speed until completely combined into a granola-like texture. Add half of the ice water and then slowly add more, while mixer is still running, until dough comes together into a dryish single body. Divide dough into two, wrap tightly and place in refrigerator to rest for an hour or up to overnight. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick, lightly flouring as you go, and cut into rounds with a cutter or glass. Place 1 teaspoon of stuffing into each and crimp edges well with a fork as shown. It may be necessary to crimp from both sides. Bake samosas at 400 degrees for 10- 12 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with masala and ice cold Kingfishers. Good Stuff!

Served toasted golden brown

Ay! Calamansi!

Calamansis and cookies

Toasted Palmerita Crust

Tell me what you call them. As a child we called them calamandarins. Food encyclopedias call them calamondins and calamansis. They are evidently, a hybrid of kumquats and tangerines and surprisingly, a traditional mainstay of Filipino cuisine. And one more thing, if you buy green keylimes at the market, you may be getting these. You’ll know if they are orange inside and not the muted pale yellow of keylime flesh. There is good news, however, it appears from my experience that they can be substituted for keylimes in a pie recipe. Good Stuff!

Calamansi Pie

1 cup cookie crumbs

5 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons melted butter

Mix well and press firmly into a 9 inch pie pan. Toast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. If the crust needs some shaping when it comes out of the oven, it must be done immediately. The crust will set quickly as it cools. Allow to cool while preparing the filling.

3 eggs, separated

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup calamansi juice

1 Tablespoon calamansi zest

Beat egg yolks well. Fold in sweetened condensed milk. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Add juice and zest to yolk mix and immediately fold in the egg whites. Pour gently into the prepared shell and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about thirty minutes. Give the pie a gentle shake to confirm that the custard has set. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. Good Stuff!

Calamansi Pie in Palmerita Crust