Japanese Vinegared Cucumber

Japanese Vinegared Cucumber

This is a refreshing and simple recipe for the ubiquitous Japanese side dish that seems to go well with anything. The sanbaizu, or “three flavors vinegar” dressing, is a delicate balance between sweet, sour, and salty but doesn’t overwhelm the clean and mild flavors of cucumber.

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Sugar Snap Peas Fresh from the Farm

Sugar Snap Peas from the Farmers\' Market

The first batches of sugar snap peas have just made an appearance at the local farmers’ markets and I couldn’t be happier. The vibrant colors of spring and summer produce from Nichols Farm immediately grabs my attention even as I entered from the sidewalk farthest from the stand. I walk past several vendors, each with their own offerings — honey, artisan breads, strawberries, and flowers to name a few. I couldn’t help but head directly to the biggest booth in terms of size and color spectrum.

As if framed by tables containing rhubarb, green garlic, and fennel, the sugar snap peas get to have its own table in the middle of the stand. I hover around the guy giving out sugar snap samples trying to play it cool and pretending to be uninterested. I wanted one bad. Eventually I get noticed so I get my first taste. As the name implies, the snap peas are crisp and have a refreshing quality from the watery sweetness of the pods.

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Pumpernickel Bagels

Pumpernickel Bagel Crumb - Peter Reinhart

This is pumpernickel in the American tradition where a little help from wheat flour (for structure) and molasses (for color) are added to coarsely ground rye flour. The dark color characteristic of German pumpernickel breads is achieved through the Maillard reaction where loaves are cooked low and slow for 16 to 24 hours. This baking method deeply caramelizes the pumpernickel flour and develops an intense flavor (more on that in a later post). I would call German pumpernickel the barbecue of breads but depending on who’s around, I suppose you could call barbecue the pumpernickel of meats.

A lightly toasted pumpernickel bagel is a fine alternative to my other breakfast bread. Avoiding the vending machine until lunchtime is a cinch with this 100% whole grain bagel and its pronounced flavor really wakes up your taste buds in the morning.

The flavor and texture is completely different depending on how soon the bagels are eaten after baking. Within fifteen minutes the crust is pleasantly crisp but hours later a more bagel-like chewiness comes through.

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Pork Shoulder Braised with Oranges – Puerco en Naranja

Puerco en Naranja - Pork Braised in Oranges
Pork Cooked in Orange Juice

I’m always looking for flavor combinations I’ve never tried before. The less ingredients there are, the more appealing it is because tasting how the different components complement each other can help inspire ideas and creativity in the kitchen. In this recipe, pork shoulder is slowly braised in orange juice, oregano, and garlic resulting in a savory combination of sweet, salty, and a hint of sourness.

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Carnitas

Carnitas

This simple recipe for making succulent morsels of carnitas requires nothing more than pork, salt, and water. Whereas braising usually calls for searing the meat before cooking slowly in liquid, this method is the exact opposite. The pieces of pork shoulder are slowly simmered first then browned in its own rendered fat.

View Diana Kennedy's Carnitas recipe »

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