The Family

Someone recently told me that if you open your lunchbox and find an arugula salad, tossed by the hand of another, it means love. And this got me to thinking. Food is an expression of love. It takes time, and attention, and a ton of patience. Food doesnt always work out, it can be frustrating, and fail. But food can also make you smile, and desire, and dream and experience it again…and so does love.

So, the six of us got together and made love, or well, rather, we made meatballs!

JB began at the pasta helm. Armed with 00 seven flour as we affectionately call it, she began her magic. Organic yolks were added and special things happened.

She made short work of the task and soon we had pasta dough, ready to have a little rest then become the fettucine it was meant to be.

During her respite, we set out to turning 4lbs of pre cased weasel into our meatball mash. We derobed the lovely lasses, and noted immediately the course grind of actual strands of pork meat entwined with fat. Our butcher was a pro! This was no table scrap throw together everything but the kitchen sink organization!

This was real sausage, two ingredients, as it should be. Simply put…run from someone who extols the virtues of additives and extras in your casing. Or rather…question those who need to drive the Ferrari’s, what are they reaaaaaaallly trying to hide. Just sayin’, less is often more in both sausage, and love, as it turns out.

We added some grass fed beef to the bowl, chopped white onions, eggs, several cups of breadcrumbs, and then a healthy dash of oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the fold. The secret white ingredient you ask…why thats our dear friend ricotta, do it, you’ll never do it without again.

Shape your meatballs to your desired dimensions, but don’t handle them to much. Something important with meatballs is that you want the fat intact, not melted from you pawing them too much. This is important in the maintenance of a juicy meatball, and burger too for that matter. Sometimes you dont need to have your hands on everything, just bits of things, for bits of time. You’ll learn. You may err now, but your next go you’ll make less mistakes, better, juicier, meatballs. People will remember them. They’ll remind you after even you have forgotten. They’ll smile, because of you.

Speaking of smiling. The smell of fresh pasta is something you need to treat yourself to. We did. After her most successful pasta nap, enter kitchen aids.

We draped it over the back of chairs and across our tables, dusted it lightly with semolina and just admired with eyes and nose at our splendors. Soon she would be ready for a quick boil, a slight sauce, and her meaty companions.

What happened next you ask? Bruschetta was made by JB: the most elegant rub of ricotta and lemon zest topped toast with roasted butternut squash and fried sage. Beth fashioned a crisp arugula salad with fennel and generous shavings of aged parmesan laced her lemony leaves. I created a caponata of eggplant, and Donald handled dessert in the way that only he knows best-Tiramisu in all her glory. Rich, silken marscapone, espresso drenched lady fingers…truly heaven.

Natalia supplied us with our Italian wares, so scarf teckties were worn and of course mustaches did abound. Some more creatively wore their facial hair compared to others, some just got sassy, and others didnt need them because they can grow their own!

The rest of the evening was for us. We could post a few more photos but you wouldn’t see it. You wouldn’t catch the lingering glances and shared smiles. Nor the passed forks and the infectious laughter, like a favorite song, trickling up and down the lengthy mustachioed table.  Arms were slung around neighboring chairs, and something more than a thank you for full bellies was occuring. A deeper, unmentionable gratitude was present. Sated by our epicurean creations, and each other, there was love in them meatballs, and I’ll take that in my lunchbox any day.

xo sks

Carnitas…a love story in three hours

Sometimes there’s a scene from a movie you just can’t get out of your head, or a sentence in a novel that is unforgettable. Well, this one began with a glance and an utterance…
Isn’t it sexy,” her eyes glinted as she gave a sly grin and the smallest upward flicker of an eyebrow.
It was the look of luck, of something special happening that words or cameras can’t capture. It’s something that can only be conveyed through the eyes of those who have a pretty certain idea of the bliss ahead. Of possibility. And let me tell you, more than an inkling was coming from those eyes.

Fingers and steel found the invisible seams in the 12lbs of gorgeous pork shoulder as JB deftly carved the meat into manageable mounds of lovely. Seems that butchery was just another one of her many hidden talents, that, well, none of us were that shocked by.
Nestled in our largest pot we ladled liquefied lard over our pork, and a bottle and a half of Negro Modelo, the latter just seemed fitting with the theme.
Feel free to do what you wish with that leftover half bottle of Cerveza.
Refresh yourself if you will, because this is hard work!
Two oranges were quartered, squeezed of their juice, and their rinds joined the party in the pot as well. Lastly, our caldron received 3 sprigs of thyme, some bay leaves, and a cinnamon stick for good measure.

Crank up the heat to get a good amount of bubble coming through, and then turn her down for her slow 180min simmer in the beautiful bath.

No, you’re not done.
As in any relationship worth its weight, there is always work to be done.JB revealed that she isn’t opposed to traveling with tools as she pulled a hand blender mixer-y sort from her bag and blitzed a fiery roasted tomatillo salsa into submission.

Jicama was pealed, and compatibility was found as she was mixed with grapefruit,cayenne, cilantro, some lime and olive oil, and a simple salad was born.

Cabbage showed up and with patience, and radish, she became a lovely lime driven slaw to top our tacos.

Ok, so, apparently kitchen aids in a gal’s bag are common because Natalia pulled a tortilla press from her satchel too. Hmmm…JB is the hand mixer type, Natalia the old school masa iron.
If I pass you on the street and you see my gaze lingering on your bag, now you’ll know what I’m wondering about you. Maybe on first dates we shouldn’t ask people what their hobbies are, or where they grew up, but more like, if you could have ANY kitchen utensil in your bag right now what would it be? I bet you could tell a lot about someone.
What type are you? Take some time on that one, a second date may depend on it!

Well Nata’s satchel surprise was well worth it. Our masa, being the consistent dependable partner she is, was molded into the tortillas she was always going to be, nothing different, yet truly delicious.

Guacamole made her presence known, a habanero pesto happened, queso fresco was in attendance and of course Beth brought it home with the beans!
Soaked, parboiled and pinto’d to perfection, she mixed in some sauteed onions, thyme and a healthy handshake of our very own snowy white lard. Its not so much a refry as it is a mash, mix and heat. Holy Moses they are good!!
I’m going to say this once now…Stop screwing around ordering blackkkkk beans at those taquerias in the mission. Step up, and ask for what you really want, refried beans. Seriously. You’re practicing in your head arent you? Dont let us down.

Three hours came and went and it was time. The table was set, the margaritas were shaken.JB fried us up some tasty chickpeas to start off our celebration. Spicey wonderfulness happened in our mouths.

I turned up the heat on the carnitas to get a golden sear on our meat.
Parchment paper lined our largest serving dish and the meat was pulled from her pot. We ladled some of the pan drippings over the hand shredded jewels.

The image was eye fellating.
We paused. We sighed. You’re pausing, see.
This time the glances were of success, and yes, there was lust. Use your hands, fingers slippery with greasy lick your plate clean kind of lust!
The meat, what to say about it. The edges were crisp from their light fry, the inside supple, savory and porky with just a hint of orange and a whisper of cinammon. I can say a lot of it didnt even make it into the tacos because she, alone, was kind of a star.

Isnt that how things, life, people, should be?
Alone…awesome, and then mixed with something else…somewhere else…someone else…you get amazing.
Hmm…I’ll have to have a think about that one, and maybe put a whisk in my bag for my theatre date tonight. Maybe.

Lemon Confit

Pork is incoming! Today I started to have a mini panic about all this meat. The panic quickly turned into excitement as I began to brainstorm more than pork recipes, but the shear possibilities of accoutrement at hand as well.
This leads me to today’s recipe: Lemon Confit. I actually thought of this recipe because I have a friend who insists that lemon belongs on almost everything. In salads, on meats, you name it, she’ll squeeze it, so this recipe is for her.
This is a fantastic fridge staple, and a recipe that allows you to reap the benefits of your hard hard work for months to come.
We may thinly slice the confit and serve it with charcuteries or atop a smear of our lovely pate jacketing a crostini. In butters to brighten sauces, and yes, we believe it’s a friend of bourbon as well. She’s destined to be a major player!

5 lemons, if you can pick ’em off that tree down the street, even better.
4 tbsp sugar
4 c kosher salt
1 quart mason jar

Wash and scrub your lemons.
Cut them in 6-8 slices each
Toss them into a bowl, squeezing them to release a bit of their juices as you do.
Pause…enjoy that fresh lemon scent, and your dripping citrus-y hands in your lovely kitchen.

Mix the salt and sugar together in a clean bowl.
Add a cup of the salt-sugar mix to the bowl of lemons and juices, toss ’em
Now, alternately add salt-sugar mix and lemons with their juices, to the mason jar.
I chose to employ the handy wooden kitchen spoon and spear my mixture through a few times to release any air bubbles and get all those juices flowin’. Air = mold, so get all of it out if possible and that lemony acid equally distributed throughout the jar because the acid will keep your fruit vibrant in color as well.

Cap it.
Fridge it.
Wash up.
Stay tuned.