Friday, December 25, 2009

Spiced Pecans

All of my holiday memories involve my mother’s kitchen – from the Christmas goose to painstakingly decorating gingerbread guys and gals to resemble each one of my 17 cousins. This recipe for spiced pecans is by far the most basic, but it has always been my favorite. Whisk the egg whites and water, toss in the nuts, and coat with sugar n spice. Whipping up a large batch to round out the holiday gift list is no more difficult than making a few for an intimate gathering. The pecans will keep for a week in a tin or covered container. However, if you make them too far ahead of time, there won’t be any left for your guests.

Makes 1 pound

Butter for the pan
1 egg white
1 teaspoon cold water
1 pound large pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Set the oven at 225 degrees. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet. Butter the pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and water until frothy. Stir in the pecans; mix until they are well coated.
3. In a small bowl, mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Pour over the nuts, and mix well.
4. Spread the pecans on the baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
5. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

Pictured here are 3 of those 17 cousins (and me) at Christmas around 1982. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From Pork Roast Comes Delicious Banh Mi

From the Boston Globe -- December 23, 2009

Roasting, wrote the great American cook James Beard, is one of the most spectacular forms of cooking. As luck would have it, an ordinary home oven does a pretty wonderful job of roasting. Perhaps that’s why a roast was the traditional centerpiece of the midday Sunday dinner for so long. It’s still a good choice for the celebration table. Pork loin, a popular cut sold on and off the bone (boneless is easier to handle when it’s time to carve) has a reputation for being dry and a little bland after roasting. No doubt the classic accompaniments of applesauce and gravy were intended to mask that. We rub the meat with soy sauce and salt and let it sit for half an hour (or half a day). That gives color to the finished pork and lends a good flavor to the next day’s Asian recipes. During roasting, brush the meat with a honey and jalapeno glaze.

The next day, turn the pork into a tasty Vietnamese banh mi. These sandwiches, made on French baguettes, began as street food and have developed a cult-like following. Begin with an Asian dipping sauce; mix a few tablespoons of the sauce into mayonnaise and use this dressing with cucumbers, carrot matchsticks, and lots of chilies to layer with thinly sliced pork in crusty loaves. Then sprinkle with chopped peanuts and garnish with fresh cilantro. From Main Street to Saigon all in one roast.

Glazed Pork Roast

Serves 4 with leftovers

1 boneless pork loin (about 4 pounds)
1/4 cup soy sauce
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup honey
1 jalapeno or other small chili pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 cup spicy mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1. Rub the meat with soy sauce and sprinkle with salt. Set in a dish large enough to hold it. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to several hours.
2. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a roasting pan and rack.
3. Line the pan with foil. Place the rack in the lined pan. Set the meat, fat side up, on the rack. Sprinkle with black pepper.
4. In a saucepan, combine the honey, jalapeno, or chili pepper, mustard, and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Brush the meat with the honey mixture. Roast the meat for 1 hour, brushing with the honey mixture every 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meat reaches 140 degrees.
5. Turn the oven temperature up to 450 degrees. Glaze the meat again, and roast for 5 minutes. The glaze should be crispy and dark brown.
6. Set the meat in a warm place; the internal temperature will rise to 145 degrees. Cut into thick slices.

Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches)

From the Boston Globe -- December 23, 2009

Serves 4


2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Sriracha), or to taste
1 piece ( 1/2-inch) fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, hot sauce, ginger, garlic, scallion, and sugar.
2. Stir well.


1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Asian dipping sauce (see above)
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno or other hot chili pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 cups sliced roast pork
2 baguettes, split horizontally
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves pulled off
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

1. In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise and dipping sauce. Add the carrot, cucumber, jalapeno or other chili pepper, and scallions. Toss well.
2. Layer vegetables and dressing with the pork on the baguettes. Add cilantro and peanuts to each. Halve each baguette to make 4 sandwiches.