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Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops (Thit Heo Nuong Xa) with Cold Rice Noodles

These Vietnamese pork chops are marinated in a perfectly balance of lemongrass, ginger and sugar, grilled to perfection, and served with cold rice noodles and pickled sides.

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How to put together a perfect charcuterie board

We put the must in mustard, the cute in charcuterie, and the jam in …er … jam, with this spectacular picnic spread. Ham! Cheese! Pâté! Salami! Pickles! Our festive charcuterie board is topped off with fresh, tangy home-made Maple Mustard and sweet Red Onion Jam.

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Homemade Maple Mustard

If you like mustard, you seriously have to try making your own. It’s so much better than the jarred kind and it couldn’t be easier. Our Homemade Maple Mustard is a little sweet, a little spicy and tastes incredibly fresh.

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Polenta With Sausage and Onion

Polenta With Sausage and Onion

Butternut Squash Polenta With Sausage and Onion

This is the topping that we made to go on the Butternut Squash Polenta. It’s one of those really satisfying, but incredibly simple recipes that barely takes any prep. Once you’ve got the polenta going, you can relax, have a little wine (since you’ve already opened it to make the sauce so, why not?), do a little chopping, and you’re ready to cook.

There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this so use the best quality sausage you can get. It works well with pork but I really love using turkey sausage from DiPaola‘s. You can get it at several farmers’ markets around New York City but sadly, we have’t seen it around here yet.

A great vegetarian option would be to use cannellini beans. Rinse them well and sauté them with a little olive oil, garlic, rosemary and chile flakes. 

This was adapted from Melissa Clark’s version. I wanted a bit of a sauce to go with it so I added the wine and mustard. The result is a delicious, savory, quick and easy dinner.

Spring Salad with Eggs

Spring Salad with Eggs

Spring Salad with Eggs

When it comes to things like fashion*, I’ve never been accused of being too colorful. As a born and raised New Yorker, my idea of wearing a rainbow consists of black, dark gray, heather gray, and maybe, if I’m feeling particularly spring-like, medium gray.

(*One exception: hair color. I’ve pretty much done them all, including green, blue, pink and many, many iterations of reds, blondes and blacks).

Somehow though, nothing makes me happier than a big, bold, colorful salad. It’s so satisfying to see nature’s bounty, all tossed together in a pleasingly chaotic array of hues.

While it’s still kind of slim-pickings at the a farmer’s market, we did manage to find some lovely red and yellow cherry tomatoes. Combined with avocado, hard boiled eggs, and best of all,  Quick-Pickled Red Onions and Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes, this salad is as pretty as it is delicious. 

Spring Salad with Eggs

The nice thing is, if you’ve gone to the (minimal) trouble of making the pickles, you can use some of the seasoned vinegar to make a delicious, simple vinaigrette.

Nerd Tips:

  • Don’t over-cook the eggs! That will prevent the gross sulphur green ring around the yolk.
  • If you use bacon, you can also make a warm bacon-vinaigrette. Yum.
  • Want more protein? Add beans (I love cannellini beans best)
  • Like lots of crunch? Add 2 tablespoons toasted walnuts (or pecans, hazelnuts or even peanuts).
Pulled-Pork Sandwich with Pickled Onions and Radishes

Pulled-Pork Sandwich with Pickled Onions and Radishes

Pulled-Pork Sandwich with Pickled Onions and Radishes

I’m not going to tell you that slow-roasting a pork shoulder is the quickest path to dinner – far from it – but, for a weekend cooking project, it definitely pays off in spades. 

There are actually two different cuts that get called pork shoulder: “Boston butt” and “picnic shoulder.” Either is fine for this, but do get bone-in and if possible, pasture-raised. Boston butt is easier to find but I tend to look for picnic because it’s usually sold skin-on and I like to make crackling.

True, there is a bit of planning involved here but most of the time is inactive and the end result is so worth it. It’s perfect for a relaxed kind of party (the best kind, in my opinion) where people don’t mind getting messy or sparring over bits of crunchy pork skin. 

I combined two recipes here, one is Momofuko-style with a sweet/tart glaze from Bon Appétit (I love the flavors but it didn’t include crackling). The other is a Jamie Oliver recipe which I used mainly as a technique to get crispy skin. 

What you wind up with is a huge pile of delicious pulled pork with a tart vinegary glaze and a sheet of crackling that you can cut up and distribute as you like (or eat by yourself when no one’s looking). This would be perfect on its own or in tacos, quesadillas, grilled-cheese sandwiches (try one with bleu cheese!).  I definitely recommend making something pickled to go along-side (we made both Quick-Pickled Red Onions and Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes). We also made a version of this Asian Cabbage Salad, but without fennel since we didn’t have any. 

We meant to take a picture of the pork coming out of the oven, but Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 1 was just starting and … well, there are some things you just don’t trust your DVR with.

We also meant to take a picture of the crackling … but we ate it. 

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Guys, I’m seriously worried that I might actually be living in a Portlandia sketch. Sometimes I watch it, and I laugh and laugh and then look around nervously to see if anyone is giving me the “um, that’s you” side-eye. I think it was the Battlestar Galactica episode that hit a little too close to home.

Nerd aside: some of you may remember my little black cat, Special Ed. Oh how I loved that boy. So Special Ed, being much adored, had about a hundred nicknames (mostly having to do with the fact that he was a skinny, scrawny, wee little gentleman). So during the height of my BSG obsession,  his name became “Edward James ALMOST” (another fave was “Roger PALTRY”). Still makes me laugh.

If you haven’t seen Portlandia, you’re probably wondering what the bleedin’ hell I’m on about, but one of their sketches is about people who pickle everything (a dropped ice cream cone, a used band-aid, a broken high-heel). Well, stop laughing immediately because pickles are delicious!

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

(Yes, it’s true that I’ve mentioned Portlandia before in the Spiced Pickled Grapes post).

Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

These pickled radishes are my go-to if I’m making tacos, quesadillas, or really any kind of  sandwich. They are so quick and easy and are just the perfect thing to perk up anything slow-roasted or long-simmered. Best of all, they’re ready in under an hour and last for weeks.

Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

We aren’t ardent picklers, but we do have two favorites: quick-pickled red onions, and these tangy babies. You can also add herbs (I like thyme, bay leaf and tarragon best), chili flakes or whole dried chilies for spice.  I had a big tin of pink peppercorns that I picked up from Sahadi’s last time I was there so I added them as well.

Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds

Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds

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