Tag Archives: sapore

The hallmarks of greatness.

Standard
Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

“Mom,” I texted, “would you please send me your recipe for sweet and sour pork chops?”

“Will try,” she replied. “Not sure what condition it’s in.”

Four hours later, three photos arrived, each a yellowed sheets of paper, splattered with more than 40 years of food, the hallmarks of a good recipe. The top of the first page reads, “McCall’s 1969.”

Mom's sweet and sour pork chopsThis is the recipe that defines sweet and sour pork for me. Far from small scraps of pork hidden in thick, doughy breading, choked in a gelatinous blend of corn syrup and Red Dye #40, Mom’s recipe is a simple but elegant balance of vinegar and brown sugar, tied together by sweet, acidic pineapple. Earthy soy and the underlying bitterness of green pepper ground the dish, whose flavors are mellowed and bound by rich pork.

A online scan of 15 sweet and sour pork chop recipes revealed few changes from McCall’s 1969 masterpiece. I dove in, eliminating bottled ketchup and canned stock. Mild, sweet, white balsamic vinegar and light Temari soy sauce let thick, porterhouse pork chops, fresh pineapple and vegetables shine through. Tapioca starch gently thickens the sauce.

It’s a good recipe. Really good. The kind you want to print out and start splattering with food. It should be nicely yellowed in 40 years or so.

Sweet And Sour Porterhouse Pork Chops

Serves 4

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 4 porterhouse or loin pork chops, about 1″ thick and bone-in
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup White Balsamic or Peach Vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup cup Tamari soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 1/2 large red onion cut in 1” chunks
  • 1 red pepper cut in 1” chunks
  • 1 green pepper cut in 1” chunks
  • 1/2 pineapple cut in 1” chunks
  • 1” ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbs tapioca or corn starch**

*Sapore’s Peach vinegar was delicious in this dish! White Balsamic would deliver similar mild acidity with light sweetness.

**What’s up with tapioca starch? If you can find, it is a very neutral tasting thickener, not dulling the flavors of the other ingredients. I use it exclusively for fruit and berry pies. Corn starch is a perfectly acceptable substitute.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Directions:

  • Pat pork chops dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Whisk together brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and chicken stock. Reserve.
  • Heat peanut oil in a large sauté pan over med-high heat. Brown pork chops, about 3 minutes per side. Reserve pork chops.
  • Return pan to medium heat and add onions. Cook 2 minutes until softened. Add red and green peppers and cook 2 minutes longer.
  • Add pineapple and ginger. Cook an additional two minutes.
  • Return pork chops to pan, along with any liquid that has accumulated on the plate, nestling them in the vegetables. Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 50 minutes.
  • Remove pork chops and vegetables with a slotted spoon. Whisk together tapioca starch with 2 tbs warm water. Add to pan and cook, on med-high, stirring, until sauce thickens. Serve over pork chops, pineapple and vegetables.
Advertisements

Meat on a stick.

Standard
Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

When I was a kid, fondue was a special family night. Mom would plug in the electric pot full of vegetable oil on the dining room table, as we grabbed for whichever long, two-tined fork was tipped in our favorite color. We cooked cubes of top sirloin in the hot fat, then dipped them into the homemade Béarnaise and burgundy sauces that Mom set out in small bowls.

I know fondue pots are a lost fashion of the 1970’s, but I have so many fond memories; like the time my godmother, Aunt Ali, served cheese fondue, and I spent the rest of the night throwing up. (Totally not her fault. It was an 8 year-old’s stomach bug. And the fondue was delicious!)

Whether at the end of a fork , skewered with wood  for a party or metal for the grill, meat on a stick is one of those foods – like anything smothered in cheese or made with bacon – that leaves us clamoring for more. These kebabs, spicy with Tunisian Harissa – a paste of sun dried chills, sweet with brown sugar, rich with tomato paste and earthy with fresh thyme, are exotic but easy. Oh, and if your fork handles have colored tips, I’ll take the blue.

Top Sirloin Cherry Tomato Harissa Kebabs

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbs Harissa
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup Pomegranate Vinegar* or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large green peppers cut in 2” pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds top sirloin steak cut in 2” cubes (about 2 steaks)

*Pomegranate vinegar is back at Sapore (and it’s delicious!).

 

Directions:

IMG_2249-1

Photography by Sam Armocido

  • Make marinade: Whisk together Harissa, brown sugar, tomato paste, red wine, Pomegranate Vinegar, cinnamon, thyme and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Mix together tomatoes, peppers and steak and toss to coat with marinade. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  • If using wooden skewers, soak them for an hour before grilling.
  • Load skewers with beef, tomatoes, and peppers.
  • Prepare a hot grill and cook over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side, about 8-10 minutes total for medium rare.
  • While grilling, place remaining marinade, and any extra tomatoes, in a small saucepan and cook at a high simmer until thickened.
  • Brush cooked kebabs with sauce and serve.

Too darn hot.

Standard
Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

For Natalie

When it gets really hot and humid, I get nostalgic, or delirious, about my childhood summers. Without AC, on New England’s hottest summer days we’d jump in a lake or sit in front of a fan (speaking like Darth Vader, of course). Dinner was served cold, following a swim, and dessert was ice cold out of the freezer, usually juice frozen in a popsicle mold.

Summer meals were fresh from the garden. We would wake up in the morning to a list of chores, which included a pic list to of ripe vegetables to harvest. My Mom would send us out with a woven basket…

You just rolled your eyes so far back in your head you can see yesterday.

This really was my childhood. We really did pick green beans, tomatoes and peppers in the morning. We swam in Pelham or Puffer’s ponds. And no, mom would not get us those sugary frozen tubes of bright blue, red and orange ice, no matter how hard we begged. But she made a mean cucumber salad, and I lived for fried rounds of breaded, egg-dipped squash cut from large zucchinis.

I admit, I had it pretty darn good, but I’m still excited to go home to air conditioning tonight.

Cucumber Zucchini Salad

Serves 6

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced.
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Dressing:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup Merlot* or another red wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Arbrosana* or another good quality Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbs chopped dill and parsley

*Sapore’s cool choices for this hot weather salad. Merlot is a beautifully balanced red wine vinegar, not the typical prickly acid-bomb from the grocery store. Arbrosana is bold and green. Buy ’em online.

Directions:

  • Mix together cucumbers, zucchini and red onion in a large bowl.
  • Make dressing: mash garlic and a pinch of coarse salt into a paste.
  • Whisk together garlic paste with Merlot Vinegar and mustard.
  • Whisk oil into dressing in a thin stream to form a creamy emulsion.
  • Whisk yogurt into dressing. Fold in herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Dress vegetables starting with about 2/3 of the dressing and adding more as needed. Season to taste.
  • If not serving immediately, season to taste before serving.

Red, White and Waldorf.

Standard
Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

“You’ve got to serve something red, white and blue,” says Valerie, a U.S.Department of State employee by day, farmer on nights and weekends (God, I love DC!). We were discussing the catering menu I was planning in celebration of a friend’s recent citizenship.

“What’s blue besides blueberries,” I thought. “Besides, they’re not locally in season yet.”

So, I settled for red and white, 2/3 of the way there. My homage to the salad Oscar Tschirky created for the Waldorf Hotel would have to make up the balance. Sweet strawberries replaced apple, while crisp fennel stood in for celery. Toasted pepitas lent warmth in place of walnuts and a sweet, light vinaigrette displaced heavier mayonnaise as the dressing.

Add a handful of the June’s first tart-sweet blueberries, and you may just have this season’s superlative summer salad.

Strawberry And Shaved Fennel Salad

Serves 6

Washed StrawberriesFor dressing:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup White Balsamic or Tropical Spice* vinegar
  • 2/3 cup grape seed, vegetable or Avocado* oil

For salad:

  • 1/2 cup pepitas*
  • 2 cups hulled, sliced strawberries
  • 2 fennel bulbs thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs fennel fronts, finely chopped
  • 2 mint leaves, finely chopped

*We’ve been shopping at Sapore again! A mild tasting oil is important here. Olive oils will overpower the other flavors. Pepitas are raw pumpkin seeds. Smooth and green, you will find them with other packaged nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Substitute toasted sunflower seeds if you can’t find them.

Directions:

  • Combine shallot, sugar, mustard and salt in a bowl with vinegar. Whisk together.
  • Toast pepitas in a small skillet over medium heat, tossing often to prevent burning. Once you hear them start to pop, toast for a minute longer until at least 1/3 of the seeds are browned on 1 side.
  • Combine strawberries, fennel, fennel fronds and mint in a separate bowl. Toss together.
  • Whisk oil into dressing to form a creamy emulsion.
  • Season dressing to taste and toss with salad.
  • Top with toasted pepitas.
  • Can be served alone or over greens like baby spinach or butter lettuce.

Why cook anything else?

Standard

Photography by Sam Armocido

I blame bacon. Amish bacon.

You see, until last week, I was living in a beautiful fantasy world where people came to my Eastern Market demos each week to taste new, farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients. We were learning new foods, new recipes and new techniques together. But it was all a lie.

One of my farmers, Dan, picked up four pounds of bacon during his weekly run into Lancaster County, PA. “Fry it up at the end of your demo,” he asked, so he and his staff could eat it for lunch between slices of bread with fresh baby arugula. I got more attention and more questions during 20 minutes of frying bacon then I had throughout three hours of strawberry soup, spinach salad and fiddlehead ferns. Most of them were, “Is that bacon?”

But, Mom and Dad didn’t raise a quitter. So sorry folks, you’re just going to have to suffer through asparagus soup with mushroom spaetzle this week. As my Dad used to tell me, “People in hell want ice water.” And, apparently, bacon.

Spinach With Spicy Bacon Vinaigrette

This is not the salad to use baby spinach for. The hot vinaigrette will wilt it right down into soup. Buy grown-up spinach with good substance to the leaves. Yum! No Cabernet Sauvignon jam in the fridge, bust out just about any jam with this salad from tart beach plum or cherry to acidic orange marmalade.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 4 thick slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 red onion cut in thin slices
  • 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or other tart jam
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard
  • 1/4 cup Sherry or Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry Vinegar*
  • Ground Habañero chile or cayenne pepper
  • 1 orange, sectioned
  • 1 pound grown-up Spinach, de-ribbed

*You can find Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry Vinegar at Washington, DC’s Sapore Oil and Vinegar. Stop by or order online. I love it and easily go through a bottle a month.

Directions:

  • Warm oil in a 10” skillet over medium-high heat. Brown bacon and remove with a slotted spoon, leaving behind rendered fat.
  • Add diced onion, reduce heat to medium and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add Cabernet Sauvignon jam and mustard and cook, stirring, until jam liquifies and liquid reduces by half.
  • Add vinegar and whisk until vinaigrette comes together and thickens.
  • Season vinaigrette to taste with salt, pepper and Habañero or other hot chile powder.
  • Toss spinach, sliced onion and oranges with vinaigrette and serve. If you want this to look extra special for guests, dress the onions and orange sections in a separate bowl and plate on top of the dressed spinach.

 

The root of the problem.

Standard
Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

A beetroot salad, in British television, seems to be shorthand for punishment or penance. However, faced with a spring   season where the calendar had gotten far out ahead of the weather, that’s precisely what we made.

Cold days had prevented the emergence of sweet asparagus or spring onions, so we sat in the test kitchen staring at winter storage celeriac, parsnips, carrots and beetroot. They seemed more suited to a fall roast tossed with thyme than a light spring salad.

Our first decision was to serve them raw, the second was a light poppyseed vinaigrette. Shaving them thin on the smallest side of our box grater eliminated thick , tough shreds  of fibrous root vegetables. With the grater already out, we grated onion rather than dairy to thicken our dressing.

Faced with several vinegars, Sam, part of our #testkitchen crew, selected a mildly acidic, slightly sweet Autumn Apple from Sapore. It was the perfect choice.  Winter never tasted so much like spring.

*Yes, this blog post title is a terrible pun. If one of you had brought me more coffee it could have been avoided.

Sam’s Root Vegetable Slaw

The beets turn the rest of the vegetables a beautiful bright ruby color.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

For slaw:

  • 1 cup grated beet
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated celery root
  • 1 cup grated parsnip

For dressing:

  • 3 tbs grated onion
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1-2 tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup Autumn Apple* or Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

*Autumn Apple vinegar is available in DC or online at Sapore. Commonly available cider vinegars tend to be bitter and acidic. Sherry vinegar would be a closer match to the autumn apple.

Directions:

  •  Toss together grated vegetables in a large bowl.
  • Make dressing: whisk together onion, dry mustard, paprika, poppy seeds, honey and Autumn Apple vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Whisk oil into dressing in a thin stream to form a creamy emulsion.
  • Dress slaw and let rest 10-20 minutes before serving to let flavors develop. These vegetables are bold and heavy, so add a little more dressing than you would to fresh greens.
  • Serve topped with grated lemon zest.

Todd wants wings.

Standard
Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Two years ago, my husband, Jason, and I were sitting at home watching Food Network. On comes Giada De Laurentiis who announces she’s preparing a Game Day menu for her husband and his buddies. “Todd,” she exclaims, “is going to be thrilled when I substitute his usual game day foods with these healthy alternatives!”

Now, I love Giada, but Jason and I, without speaking a word, exchanged a look that said, Todd and his buddies are going to be pissed when Squid Stew and Swordfish Sandwiches replace chili and sliders.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Fast forward to last weekend and my live cooking demo at Eastern Market’s Sapore Oil and Vinegar. Reading my Super Bowl Snacks menu filled with roasted, spiced chick peas, orange and rosemary oil marinated olives, and spicy homemade hummus, Jason tells me, “You’ve turned into Giada.”

A compliment under any other circumstances, I knew he wasn’t talking about my figure and that he was right. There was only one solution: we needed wings. These two recipes were designed to showcase two special vinegars available at Sapore, and they are available online. They are sweet and spicy, sticky, rich, tender and moist.

We’ll even cook a few extra for Todd.

Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Honey Wings

This is based on Sapore’s wonderful, seasonal Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar. Order it online or use the substitutions I suggest below.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2” ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste with salt
  • 1 tsp rosemary, minced
  • 1.5# split chicken wings and drum sticks

*To substitute, add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup pear nectar and 2 cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan and simmer until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup.

Directions:

  • Whisk together marinade ingredients. Place wings in a ziplock bag and toss with 1/2 cup of the marinade. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Place wings in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Don’t skip the foil. The sugary marinade will caramelize and make a mess on your unlined sheet pan. Cook for 30 minutes, turning once. If roasting two pans at once, switch positions in the oven at 15 minutes.
  • While wings cook, place remaining sauce in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and let bubble away for 10 minutes until thickened.
  • When wings have cooked for 30 minutes, brush with sauce and return to oven for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Serrano Chile Soy Honey Wings

This is based on Sapore’s versatile Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar. The vinegar is made from fermented honey and is wonderful with Asian, African and Asian recipes. Order it online or use the substitutions I suggest below.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar*
  • 1/4 honey
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
  • 2 tbsp soy
  • 2 tsp Sriracha Thai-style hot sauce(optional)
  • 1.5# split chicken wings and drum sticks
  • 2 tbs toasted sesame seeds

*Try a good quality Sherry vinegar instead of the Serrano Chile Honey and substitute puréed chipotle in adobo for the Sriracha to get some smokey flavor.

Directions:

  • Mix together marinade ingredients. Place wings in a ziplock bag and toss with 1/2 cup of the marinade. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Place wings in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Don’t skip the foil. The sugary marinade will caramelize and make a mess on your unlined sheet pan. Cook for 30 minutes, turning once. If roasting two pans at once, switch positions in the oven at 15 minutes.
  • While wings cook, place remaining sauce in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and let bubble away for 10 minutes until thickened.
  • When wings have cooked for 30 minutes, brush with sauce and return to oven for 5 minutes.
  • Remove wings from oven, brush again with sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.