Tag Archives: Pork

A Girl and Her Pig | April Bloomfield


Swine never looked (and tasted) so good!

A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories

TITLE: A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories
AUTHOR: April Bloomfield

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Pork Belly
Pork belly
is a boneless cut of fatty meat derived from the belly of a pig. Pork belly is popularDarren's Belly Pork by John Leach in Asian cuisine, and forms a part of many traditional European dishes such as the Alsatian Choucroute garnie, the Swiss Berner Platte, and the German Schlachtplatte. In the United States, bacon is most often made from pork bellies. A 100-gram serving of pork belly typically has about 520 calories. The calorie breakdown is: 92% fat (53 g), 0% (0 g) carbohydrates, and 8% (9 g) protein [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
The book has a very comfortable and personal feel to it. Making it more like the telling of a passionate food life than a recitation of recipes. It’s obvious from the start that food is a passion for April and not just a vocation. The book is loaded with interesting recipes for pretty much any occasion. The dishes themselves are fully formed and well thought out. In some cases they’re not easy to execute. But, at least the steps are there should you want to make an attempt. Whoever made the stock selection should get a pat on the back. The paper has a silky, easy to handle quality that gives it a “soft” quality. Fantastic illustrations are sprinkled throughout as are images by photographer David Loftus.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
big bowls of soup
well-dressed greens and things
meat without feet
a little lamb
fine swine
the not-so-nasty bits
potato and friends
dressings, sauces and condiments
a couple of stocks

• • • • •

A hog butchering video would be ideal here. But, I don’t want to scare the kids. Everybody loves Claymation, right? Let’s get those toes out and start counting!

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Pancakes with Bacon and Chili Lamb Chops with Chimichurri
Chopped Chicken Liver on Toast Liver and Onions
Smoked Haddock Chowder Crispy Fried Vegetables
Duck-Fat Potatoes Ginger Cake
Green Goddess Frozen Moscow Mule

As usual I’ve got some of my favorites for you. There are a few interesting two page stories that relate directly to a recipe or chapter. Nice touch. Grilled Sea Bass (p. 114) and Tongue Sandwiches (p. 140) are examples. I have a Sarasota Florida connection. So, the Marcella Hazan story was a home run for me. April’s re-creation of Marcella’s Roasted Veal Shanks with White Wine and Shallots (p. 150) was too much to resist. You’ve got to give it a spin. The Cassoulet (p. 178) would make an amazing cold weather dinner. You can almost feel it warming you from the inside out. Wait until mid-January then break that one out.

• • • • •

Special Features
The introduction contains a little of April’s history. Also a very A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Storiesdescriptive ingredient listing is included. Towards the back there is a page dedicated to online resources for various ingredients used throughout the book. I love the inclusion of these outlets. There is nothing worse than reading through a mouthwatering recipe, deciding to make it for yourself or your family and then come crashing back to earth with the realization that your local Kroger doesn’t carry Fennel Pollen or Fenugreek Seeds, bummer. In my mind, it’s almost mandatory that if your dish is going to include what most people would call exotic ingredients that you are obligated to provide an outlet. Thanks!

• • • • •

For a cookbook that at first blush seems to be “swine-centric”, it is very broad in scope. There is much more to it than pork, pork and more pork. Don’t get me wrong you will get your fill of the other white meat. But, the main ingredient is used in ways that could make you forget the dramatic cover image (which I LOVE by the way). A Girl and Her Pig hits on all cylinders and is one of the best cookbooks to grace the market this year. It’s a standout in a crowded field.

Culinary Expertise Required: 7
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories

Links, Resources and Press
April’s Restaurant: The Spotted Pig
April Bloomfield’s Last Meal: The Village Voice
Harper Collins Book Information
NPR Feature Story on April

A Sunday Roast is a Thing of Beauty

Trying to resist the scent is senseless.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

We have five senses. Some people say six. But, for the sake of this post, let’s just agree on five. When it comes to food they’re all pretty important. Obviously, taste is a BIG number one. After that smell, sight, sound and touch fall into line. I’ll let you argue the order of the remaining four.

Let’s try an experiment.

Close your eyes. Smell that smell. Something is roasting away in your oven. The particular scent can change from moment to moment. But, the familiar, comforting aroma still wafts through the house. As they say, “It smells so good you can almost taste it”.

You can vote for whatever sense you want. I’m logging smell in at an easy number two.

The smell of a Sunday roast is like no other smell. If you’ve been outside all day, you walk in the door and the rich aroma greats you like an old friend. It says, “come on in”. The scent breeds anticipation. It makes you sit up and take notice. Something delicious is about to happen.

We’ve all had the obvious Sunday roasts. Standing rib, pot roast and a perfectly roasted turkey all qualify. But, what if you want to mix it up a little. What are the options? Lucky for us there’s a more than able guide.

Betty Rosbottom’s aptly titled, Sunday Roasts, A Years’ worth of Mouthwatering Roasts will give you enough ideas for, yes, a year. After looking and cooking, you may want to set some time aside for drooling on these recipes. There are so many tempting dishes in this book, choosing one to make is a first class challenge.

I was looking for something a little different than the standard leg of lamb for my Sunday effort. After stopping at nearly every page to say, “WOW that looks great”, I settled on the Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears. I think I made an excellent choice. You can decide for yourself.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

Here’s how to do it.

2 ½lb. center cut boneless pork loin
2 Tbsp. rosemary, dried and crushed
2 Tbsp. thyme leaves, dried and crushed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1½ cups fresh bread crumbs (I used Panko instead)
1 cup blue cheese (I used Maytag)
3 Tbsp. + 1 cup chicken broth, reduced sodium
4 or 5 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Bartlett or Bosc pears, slightly under ripe
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Fresh rosemary and thyme springs for garnish

Take a long narrow knife and insert it through the center of the roast lengthwise. Push the knife all the way through the roast. Turn it to cut out a 1 inch pocket in the center all the way through.

Mix together the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Place about half of this mixture into a bowl with the bread crumbs and the cheese. Reserve the rest of the seasonings. Combine gently using your fingers. Stir in just enough chicken broth to moisten the bread crumb mixture.

Blue Cheese Stuffing

Using your thumb, push the stuffing into the pocket. Fill to within ½ inch of each end. Keep pushing that stuffing in. It will take a lot. When finished, pat the roast dry and rub the whole roast with the remaining spice mixture.

Rubbed Pork Roast

Preheat your oven to 400⁰. Arrange rack to center position.

In a medium size bowl whisk together 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Add pears and toss to coat. In a large flameproof roasting pan add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and heat over 1 or 2 stovetop burners on medium high heat. Brown rubbed pork on all sides. About 6 to 8 minutes. Place pan in oven and roast for 10 minutes. Scatter pears around roast, skin side up around meat. Roast another 10 minutes. Turn meat and pears. Continue roasting until an internal temperature of 150⁰F is reached. About 20 to 25 minutes. Remove meat and pears from pan. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove any loose stuffing from pan. Skim off any fat that has accumulated.

Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Add remaining 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 tbsp of vinegar. Reduce by one third while scraping bits from bottom. Swirl butter into the sauce. Salt if needed.

To serve, slice ¾ inch thick. Drizzle the meat (and pears) with some of the sauce. Serve!

Serves 6

Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears
Recipe adapted from Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears. Betty Rosbottom, Sunday Roasts, Chronicle Books © 2011.

TIPS: OK, I know all of that looks complicated. Let me tell you it’s not. It actually pretty easy especially when you see how elegant the finished product is. Any fine dining establishment would be happy to have this on their dinner menu.

The bottom line: Betty’s book is loaded (and I mean it) with delicious comforting roasts. From beef to chicken and lamb to seafood there is something for everyone’s taste and diets. There are some easy to make sides too. Be sure to check out the Best-Ever Mashed Potatoes. I could have that as my main course. Sunday Roasts is intended for those lazy Sundays that are the prelude to another busy workweek. But, any of these dishes would be a welcome mid-week indulgence.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of LambAuthor: Betty Rosbottom
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN-10: 0811879682



The Cookbookman Recommends

If you like Sunday Roasts here are a few other cookbooks for your consideration.

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art Williams-Sonoma: Roasting All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking Roasting: Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Sauces, and More

Do Little Old Ladies Really Make The Best Food?


Sometime it’s hard to distinguish between the comfort and the food.

BUY IT! - Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom

Comfort food is, well, comforting. No big surprise there. But, is it really the food itself or the memories that come rushing back when we eat it? And, does it really matter?

I know when I take that first forkful of pot roast or meatloaf it makes me feel different than when I bite into a chicken Caesar wrap. When I’m eating it I can picture my Mom slathering that seven bone chuck roast with cream of mushroom soup. Or, mixing all of the mystery meatloaf ingredients together with her hands. If my sisters or I were in the right place at the right time, we would be able to steal a taste of some fresh raw ground beef before it was mixed and loafed.

It’s those memories that we have when we eat that type of food that enhances everything. Smells, sights and sometimes sounds all come together to form the comfort food experience. At times those things even outweigh the taste of the food itself.

Last week a little cookbook filled with big comfort food hit my desk. Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom. The book which measures only 5X7 is packed with comfort food recipes that will take you back in time. It’s easy to see after turning the first page that the tagline “Made with love and lots of lard” fits. Especially the love part.

Author Meg Favreau, highlights some easy to make standards. But, the real beauty to this little gem of a book is the accompanying photos. There are enough Grandmas and favorite Aunts in this book for anyone to be reminded of who really made these recipes shine. Dishing out sage kitchen advice with classic recipes is a hard combo to beat.

All this comfort food talk has made me hungry for a little taste. Why don’t we give one a whirl?

Pork Chops

Here’s how to do it.

Pork Chops

4 to 6 pork chops
Salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper chops to taste. If chops are lean, add a little oil to the pan. Brown chops about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Reduce heat and cook until chops are tender.

Serve with applesauce (of course) or mint jelly. My family likes hash browns too!

Serves 4 to 6

Pork Chops

Recipe adapted from, Pork Chops; Little Old Lady Recipes, Meg Favreau, Quirk Books 2011. Images: Larry Hoffman, cookbookman ©2011

That’s it! Honestly. That could not be any simpler. I think in all the reviews that I’ve done here on cookbookman.com, a two ingredient recipe takes the prize.

Tips: When I cooked my chops I used a good old fashioned Sunbeam Electric Skillet. It’s circa 1970 and I believe the original color was “Almond”. I figured it’s not doing me any good stuck in the back of the cabinet. It’s a perfect recipe to break it out.

Sunbeam Almond Electric Skillet

The Bottom Line: Winter is here. That means time to cook more meals indoors. Kids are in school and life is a little more hectic than during the summer. So, we all could use a little uncomplicated comfort food to complete our day. Meg’s new cookbook is a great place to start making new food memories for your family or bring back a few old ones for you.

BUY IT! - Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom


Author: Meg Favreau
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (November 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1594745188

Cookbook Daily: The Whole Hog Cookbook

Cookbook Daily

BUY IT! - The Whole Hog Cookbook: Chops, Loin, Shoulder, Bacon, and All That Good Stuff

If wrestling pigs qualifies you as an expert on all things pork, then Libbie Summers makes the grade. This Missouri girl has written an amazing book on how to cook just about every part of the animal.

Summers book, The Whole Hog Cookbook: Chops, Loin, Shoulder, Bacon, and All That Good Stuff is a roadmap to anything you could possibly want to make from a hog.

We’re talking about everything from how to cure your own bacon to grinding that perfect sausage that your guests will be talking about into next weekend.

Of course, you can also expect information on cooking the usual cuts of pork and some lessons on how to prep it for cooking. If you’re looking for the whole hog, as the name suggests, this is it.

BUY IT! - The Whole Hog Cookbook: Chops, Loin, Shoulder, Bacon, and All That Good Stuff

Author: Libbie Summers
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Rizzoli (September 13, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0847836827

The Book, Like It’s Author, Big, Bold, Brash

Art imitating life. At least that’s how it looks.

BUY IT - Guy Fieri Food: Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It

Like the man himself, his book stands out from the crowd. It’s big (416 pages), it’s wildly colorful and it’s filled with food and stories that scream GUY! What would you expect from a chef who’s TV persona is larger than life. No matter what you may think about his culinary chops, it always looks like he’s living life to the fullest. I like that.

Reading though his latest cookbook, Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It, you get the sense that he loves his trade. I’m sure there are those that take one look down their nose at the cover and sniff. But, they should take the time to crack the spine. There is some serious business in there.

I don’t really have a set routine when it comes to evaluating a new cookbook. One thing I do know, I’m going to cook something from it. No preconceived idea of what that something might be, but, something. Whatever might catch my eye from a stunning food image (oh, I can make that) to a super engaging recipe title is fair game.

One thing that struck me as I was paging through this meaty tome, was the complexity of the recipes. This was not home kitchen fluff. These were complex, multi component recipes with some ingredients that most people don’t have stocked in their pantries. This isn’t a complaint, this is a pleasant surprise.

I consider myself to be a fairly competent home chef. One a scale of one to ten, I would give myself a seven (OK, maybe six and a half). I can perform most basic skills and have a pretty good idea of what should go with what. I also have a great array to toys (I mean tools).

My search for the perfect “Guy” dish ended when I turned to page 220 and saw the Watermelon Pork Tacos.

Watermelon Pork Tacos

This recipe has a bunch of great, but at the same time dissimilar ingredients. After I read through it a couple of times I thought, “OK, I can do this one”. In reality, it was harder than I thought.

The thing that makes this spin on the usual taco so unique, is the Asian influence paired with the decidedly not so Asian watermelon.


Fresh summer watermelon makes this a great seasonal dish.

Here’s a look at the pork. All trimmed up, sliced, marinated and ready for the grill.

Marinated Pork

Making the marinade is easy enough. Lots of ingredients. There was one thing that did get my attention when I was putting it all together. The possible heat potential of that marinade. A chopped Serrano pepper and red chili flakes are both in there. As you can see from the above image, there is chopped ginger and garlic too.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Looks great after coming off the grill. The cooking time was right on too. Three minutes per side, then three minutes resting. Want to see how it all turned out? Sure you do.

Watermelon Pork Tacos

WOW, is right! As Guy would say “Off the hook!”. They actually tasted even better than they looked. My worry about the heat level of the finished product was totally unfounded. It did not have a huge pepper burst to it at all. I think some of the Asian elements (sesame oil, oyster sauce and rice vinegar) may have tamed some of that. Just a theory.

Here’s How To Do It

Ingredients – Pork
1 whole pork tenderloin, silverskin removed & cut into 1inch thick slices
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
1 Tbsp. Serrano chile, seeded & minced
2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil

Ingredients – Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sesame oil

Ingredients – Salsa
1 cup watermelon, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup English cucumber, seeded & cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 Haas avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

1 head romaine lettuce

To make the pork, combine all of the pork ingredients except the pork slices in a small bowl. Mix well. In a gallon Ziploc bag, add the pork slices and the marinade. Seal and marinate for 30 minutes.

While the pork is marinating mix all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette together in a small bowl. In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the salsa ingredients. Pour the vinaigrette into the salsa and mix gently. Be careful not to crush the watermelon or guacamole-ize the avocado.

Trim off the dark green ends of the romaine and cut off the root end. Separate, wash and dry the leaves. These will be the “shells” for the tacos. Place in fridge until ready to use.

Heat your grill to medium. Remove the pork slices from the marinade. Grill 3 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and rest 3 minutes. Take pork to a cutting board and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Fill lettuce shells with pork, top with salsa and enjoy.

Serves 6

Watermelon Pork Tacos

Recipe Adapted From Watermelon Pork Tacos, Guy Fieri, Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It.

Notes: This thing looks and reads through easy enough, but, it’s deceptive. Lots of ingredients and a fair amount of prep. I think once you’ve made it one time, the next attempt would be a lot smoother. It was a nice light, summertime meal. I’ll be a repeat customer for sure.

BONUS: Since we only had two people eating a recipe sized for six, we had a fair amount of pork leftover. I’m not one to just pitch some great seasoned meat. So, day two, a more traditional taco, with the fantastic untraditional pork filling. This was great too!

Leftover Tacos

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you like Guy’s style both in the kitchen and on the tube, you’ll love his book. It’s him to a T. You won’t be disappointed.

Be ready for some challenging recipes. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of culinary security by the sometimes brief instructions. These dishes are worth the effort in the end. But, getting there can be a little challenging.

BUY IT - Guy Fieri Food: Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It


Author: Guy Fieri
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks (May 3, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0061894559

Summer Is THE Time To Grill

There is nothing like a great summer barbeque, nothing.

Time To Grill

Just like a lot of families around the country, we do a bunch of grilling come summer. So much so, that we have to turn the oven on every once in a while just to make sure that it still works.

On weekends we’ve been know to grill for a pretty good size group. It’s not easy cooking burgers to order for fifteen or twenty people. During the week though, it’s usually a two or four person affair. Even though cooking for the masses is fun, you can do a lot more when it’s scaled back just a bit.

At the moment there are lots of great grilling books out there. Steven Raichlen’s Barbeque Bible, Seven Fires and one my my favorites, the Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbeque. Now, there’s a new contender for my grilling affection, Weber’s Time to Grill by Jamie Purviance.

The books contains great takes on old BBQ standards and features some brand new dishes. Each dish has a sibling. One adventurous version and one easy. This makes Jamie’s grilling guide a nice fit for grill tenders of all stripes.

One of the unique features of this book is a slick tech integration. The book is part traditional cookbook and part smartphone cooking app. The best of both worlds! For each recipe you can go to a mobile website on your smartphone or tablet, enter the page number of your recipe and viola, instant grilling aides. Have a look at some of the extra help you get.

Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops

Awesome, right? You get a recipe overview to have at the grill. Plus, cooking timers, grocery lists for your shopping trip and more. This takes the traditional cookbook off the kitchen counter and out into the backyard. This is the best integrated use of the technology I’ve seen yet. It really works well.

Onward to todays main event. As you can see above we’re going for Buttermilk-Brined Pork Chops with Whiskey-Braised Cabbage and Apples. An ambitious attempt (it’s from the adventurous side of the book!).

Lately, we’ve all become accustom to brining poultry as well as some cuts of meat. The usual process calls for a ratio of salt to sugar. And then maybe throw in some herbs or fruit. The brine for this dish uses buttermilk as it’s base. I was a little suspect at first, but, the results are fantastic.

Shred some red cabbage.

Shredded Red Cabbage

Course grate a nice tart Granny Smith apple.

Granny Smith

Add something that’s bound to make things interesting.

Jack Daniels. Never settle for less than the BEST!

And, you’re on your way to making a nice side dish for your chops. It’s really a classic paring for the meat.

Here’s How To Do It

Ingredients – Brine
2 cups cold buttermilk
1 cup water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, finely chopped

Ingredients – Cabbage
2 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
4 cups red cabbage, shredded
2 cups Granny Smith apple, coarsely grated
1/3 cup whiskey (I used Jack)
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. celery seed
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

4 boneless pork loin chops (about 8oz. each & 1 inch thick)
Extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all of the brine ingredients together in a large or medium size bowl. Place your trimmed chops in a large resealable bag. Pour the brine over the chops. Seal and place in the fridge for about 1 1/2 hours. Flip the bag over every half hour or so.

When chops have fully brined, remove the chops from the bag and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Lightly brush each chop with olive oil and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Prepare your grill to cook using direct heat, medium temperature (350 to 400).

In a large skillet add the shredded cabbage and apples. Sauté until the cabbage starts to wilt, about 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the whiskey, balsamic and celery seed. Cover and cook until the cabbage is tender (10 to 12 minutes). Stir occasionally. When finished remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and cover to keep warm while you grill the chops.

When your grill is heated, cook the chops over direct medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, flipping a couple of times. This is where you can use that nifty grill timer on your phone. Grill until they are just pink in the center. Once cooked, remove from grill and let rest about 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve with your braised cabbage and apples. Great!

Buttermilk-Brined Pork Chops with Whiskey Braised Cabbage and Apples

Recipe Adapted From Buttermilk-Brined Pork Chops with Whiskey Braised Cabbage and Apples, Jamie Purviance, Weber’s Time to Grill, Oxmoor House.

The Bottom Line

Weber’s Time to Grill: Get In. Get Out. Get Grilling, is a fantastic addition to any barbeque cookbook collection. The recipes are geared towards all grilling skill levels, so there will be lots of things for everyone to cook. There are helpful hints and grilling advice scattered throughout the text, which also makes it a nice read as well as a useful manual.

Thinking about firing up that grill? I know you are. Let Jamie help you tame the flame.

BUY: Weber's Time to Grill: Get In. Get Out. Get Grilling


Author: Jamie Purviance
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Oxmoor House
ISBN-10: 0376020601