April 20, 2010

Jack Reed Moon

If there ever was a man who enjoyed eating, it was Jack Reed Moon. TLMM's father Jack passed away last Friday from cancer. We enjoyed so many amazing meals together, I wouldn't know where to begin. I picked one post I especially like because as I wrote it, I was looking forward to a visit from him and Marilyn. Click here. The first time I met Jack, we shared a meal at a Japanese restaurant in Pittsburgh and he informed me that I wouldn't like France very much because the portions are very small. We laughed! He had me pegged. One of the best meals I have ever had was at their apartment - click here. One year, we celebrated his birthday at Joe's Stone Crabs- see here. Jack read ...and the eggs, and even commented now and again.

Until a couple of weeks ago, Jack was eating everything you could fit on his plate. After his move to Florida in 2008, Jack had the chance to try Cuban food- he especially liked Cuban sandwiches. He was always game to go out to a new restaurant, and it was easy for him to find something to try. He was adventurous with food and instilled that curiosity in his children. We will miss Jack for so many different reasons, I will especially miss my dining companion...and the eggs.

April 9, 2010

Fresh Ham, Cuban Style and then Carnitas Tacos!

As a nice follow up to Passover rolls, I present to you one of the best pieces of pig I have ever had the pleasure to place on my palate!

It's really very simple. The day before you want to eat it (pork leg or butt), take out a small bowl. Make a paste out of 10 minced garlic cloves, 1 T salt, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon bay leaf powder and 2 T olive oil. Add some extra olive oil if the paste isn't pasty enough. Cut deep slits in the fresh ham and rub the paste all over it, forcing it into the slits. In another bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups sour orange juice, 1/2 cup sherry and 2 large onions, thinly sliced. Place the roast in a large plastic bag and pour the wet mixture in, massaging as you go. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or even over two nights. Turn a couple of times a day.

On the day of cooking, remove from plastic bag and put in large roasting vessel. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put in oven, uncovered. Flip after 2 hours. A 10 pound fresh ham takes 3 1/2 to 4 hours to cook.

The photo above is before we put it in the oven and the photo below is after 2 hours, when it was time to flip it.

As you let it cook, your kitchen and surrounding areas will fill up with the most incredible smell. If I could only bottle it...

Finally it's done! Our Cuban pork cooking guru, Mr. Jimenez, told us that it would be done when about 2" of that big bone was sticking out. He was right--see photo below. Remove from oven and let it sit for 20 minutes. It is easiest to slice into chunks, around the large chunks of fat. It almost cuts itself.

The pork is incredibly tender, and the herbs give the perfect amount of contrast to the porky flavors. We served this with a corn casserole and green beans. It was wonderful. Another great thing about this pork is that you can use the leftovers to make carnitas tacos, which we did. Just buy a package of corn tortillas, an onion and some avocado- it's really all you need. The tacos were addictive. We just heated a skillet with a little bit of vegetable oil and threw the leftover pork, sliced up. Let it cook for about three minutes, so that it is warmed through and slightly charred on the outside. You'll be glad you did...and the eggs.

April 1, 2010

Passover Rolls- A Taste of Childhood

As a child, I got to eat these only during Passover. My mother recently sent me the recipe and I got to work making them!

1/3 cup margarine or shortening
2/3rds cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup matzo meal (for a finer roll, use cake meal- I did!)
3 eggs

Combine shortening, water, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to a boil. Add matzo meal or cake meal and cool slightly. Add eggs, one at a time.

Drop on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes and then turn heat down to 350 and cook for 20 minutes more. This usually cooks hollow, almost like a cream puff.

I doubled the recipe, which I highly recommend so that it makes more than 12. The result is delicious! The rolls aren't heavy - they are light and they have that taste that I remembered. Slightly sweet, slightly matza-y. It's easy to eat 3 or 4 of these suckers since they're so light. They're perfect to take to work with leftover chicken or brisket. I brought some to work and shared them with my Jewish co-workers (and one non-Jewish co-worker) and they were loved by all. The recipe has already flown around my group of friends. They freeze well- I should have made more 'cuz they're all gone now. Well there are still 5 days of Passover left, I will whip up another batch tonight. Thank you, mom, for the recipe and for helping to make me feel like I was home for the holiday...and the eggs.