I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Tomato, Mozzarella and Red Onion Salad

Last week I made one of my all time favorite salads. It isn't really a salad in the American sense. It is more like an appetizer. It is so good that it almost always overshadows the main course.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Red Onion Salad

4 ripe plum tomatoes cut into wedges
1/2 cup olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 of a red onion, cut up
3 clives garlic, minced
4 or 5 leaves of fresh basil, torn
salt to taste
1/2 t dried oregano
1 small ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
fresh ground black pepper

Lay down a layer of mozzarella and top with tomatoes and red onion. Combine other ingredients and pour over the dish.

I also had spaghetti and meatballs with it.


1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup parmesan
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup ground oyster crackers (or other crackers of choice)
1 T italian herbs
1 t crushed red pepper
1 t fennel seed

Mix all that stuff up and shape into balls. Place balls into a baking dish that has been oiled down with olive oil. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes, until all of the pinkness is gone from the center of one of the bigger meatballs.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

4th of July = Pulled Pork

I decided to fire up the smoker for the 4th of July. I was initially going to make burgers but I was hungry for BBQ and there is nothing more American than pulled pork. I have this philosophy that you should serve traditional foods around the holidays. I think that food is a majorly important part of every holiday and that the cultures and traditions associated with holidays need to be preserved. Just like you wouldn't expect to see spaghetti and meatballs at a Chinese New Year's celebration, you shouldn't have to suffer through Indian food for 4th of July. It isn't that I don't like those foods. In fact, look through this site and you will see how much I love them. Its just that for holidays I like the traditional foods associated with the holiday.

There is a huge history in this country surrounding pulled pork. Different regions of the country have their own unique methods and recipes. When I was out interviewing for plastic surgery I sampled BBQ all over the country. There were a lot of places that had pulled pork. In North Carolina I got some pulled pork. They served it on a cheap white bun with coleslaw on top of the meat. They had BBQ sauce served on the side but the meat itself was tasty and seasoned enough that it didn't really require any sauce. The place that I ate at BBQ's whole hogs over log fires and then makes the pulled pork from that. They mix the meat in with a vinegar BBQ sauce. I decided to get as close to that flavor as possible.

One thing I have learned over the years about pork is that if you get too fatty a cut of meat it will taste gamey. Most people who make pulled pork will by what is called a Boston Butt or a Picnic Cut or some other huge piece of pork with a lot of fat and a big bone in the middle. I used to do it that way but I found the meat to be too fatty and a little gamey. What I do now, which is almost as cheap, is I go to Sam's Club and but a whole pork loin. I bought a 12 pounder for $20. I cut it into 3 pieces and tie the pieces together with what little fat is present on the outside. I rub the pork down with spices and let it sit overnight in the fridge. The next day I get up real early and fire up the smoker. It takes about an hour and a half per pound to do it right. I try to keep the temperature of the smoker nice and low, about 220. It is very hard to keep it at that temperature so I am not too rigid about it. Yesterday I smoked the pork for 13 hours until it was at the correct internal temperature. You want the pork to be between 170 and 180. It takes a long time to get there at such low heat, but the results are worth it. Every hour or so I stir up the coals or add new ones as needed. I also mop the meat down with my special mopping liquid. The mopping helps keep it from drying out. Over the long hours of cooking the fat renders away and the meat tenderizes. What you are left with is a perfectly tender piece of meat with very little fat. I let the meat cool for about 15 minutes and then I pull it apart. I mix in a little of the mopping liquid to give it some flavor. Here are my recipes for rub and mopping liquid. I also included a recipe for coleslaw that is pretty similar to what I got in North Carolina.

Celery Seed Coleslaw

1 large head of cabbage, finely shredded
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium sweet onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup cider vinegar

Combine coleslaw vegetable ingredients; chopped cabbage, chopped bell pepper, chopped onions, and grated carrots in a large serving bowl.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved; pour over vegetables and toss well. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Enough slaw for 8 to 10 servings. Delicious with pulled pork!

Pulled Pork Rub

1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T salt
2 t ground mustard
1 t cayenne

Rub about half of that mixture onto about 10 pounds of pork. Save the rest to make into the mopping liquid.

Pulled Pork Mopping Liquid

2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
3 T ground black pepper
2 T saltr
1 T worcestershire
1 T paprika
1 T cayenne
the remaining rub

Combine the remaining rub with the above ingredients in a saucepan. Stir and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.

Some people like the coleslaw ON the sandwich!

To drink, I made sun tea. I like Luzianne brand tea for sun tea.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Grandma's Ham Sandwich Recipe

Now given that this recipe is from around the time of WW2, and meat was fairly scarce, and ham was probably extremely pricey, I would venture a guess to say that the recipe probably came off of a can of spam. Although it has been demonized lately, Spam was actually quite a popular product back in the day. Spam even has its own website. I bet you can't guess which state eats the most Spam. Well as it turns out, Hawaii enjoys the most. There is even a cookbook from Hawaii called Hawaii's Spam Cookbook. I have also seen other spam cookbooks in gift shops and the like.

Now its time for the recipe:

Muriel's Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

½ pound cubed boiled ham
½ pound cheddar cheese (mild)
1/3 cup sliced green onions
2 hard boiled eggs
½ c stuffed olives
3 T mayonaise
½ c chili sauce (not hot sauce but Heinz Chili sauce, two totally different entities)

Combine ingredients, put onto buns. Wrap buns in tin foil. Cook 10-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

GQ tacos

I got this recipe from GQ magazine of all places. What makes it good is the homemade taco shells.

GQ East LA Hamburger Tacos

1 pound hamburger
½ onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 serrano chilies, diced
2 pinches mexican oregano
salt and pepper

12 corn tortillas (not the hard shells, the actual tortillas)
shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
lettuce, shredded
diced tomatoes

1) Brown hamburger. Add in onion, garlic, serrano, oregano and salt and pepper. Cook until onions soft.
2) Char tortilla on both sides over an open flame on gas stove until almost toasted. Have a frying pan full of vegetable oil sizzling. Quickly dredge both sides of the toasted tortilla in the oil, fold in half and then fry for 30 seconds. Turn it over and fry for a little longer. Drain tortillas on a paper grocery bag or a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.