Cookout prep

Things I made or will make tonight: an ordered list.

  1. Vegan baked beans – another 2 hours to go, though I may not make it that long
  2. Pickled red onions
  3. Vegan chili
  4. Diced onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes
  5. Cole slaw
  6. Horseradish aioli which, if it turns out, will knock another item off my 25 Recipes

All of these things and more will be available as hot dog toppings at tomorrow’s birthday cookout. And for those concerned about my health (and by extension, their health) – don’t worry. I washed my hands about 100x.

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0707 Black Bean Tacos a la Smitten Kitchen

I was recently helping a friend brainstorm meals that he and his vegetarian girlfriend could make – and I dug up this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen archive for crispy black bean tacos.  It’s not so much a recipe as it is instructions for quickly throwing together a cheap and delicious dinner – all things that I like!  After Steve raved about the end results, I added it to our menu for the week.

Black Bean Tacos a la Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen recommended a number of modifications to the recipe, which was originally published in Bon Appetit, including using a different slaw, adding in more protein, or using beans canned with a savory sauce or other spices.  Since she recommended further modifications to a recipe that she already modified, I felt pretty comfortable fooling around with it as well.  The resulting tacos were tasty – especially the slaw – but still need some work.  The recipe below combines my noodling about this time, as well as modifications I’d make for the next round of tacos.  Measurements are approximate, and you should absolutely season to taste.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw
Adapted from Bon Appetit by way of Smitten Kitchen

2 cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
a handful chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup nonfat yogurt
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish (more to taste, but start conservatively)
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of one lime
1 15-ounce can black beans
1/4 pound (or so) Mexican chorizo (the crumbly stuff)
generous 1 tablespoon ground cumin
generous 1 tablespoon ground coriander
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6-8 small corn tortillas
crumbled feta cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, horseradish, sugar, lime juice, and a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss with cilantro and shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Drain your black beans, then mash them together with the cumin, coriander, and a generous pinch of salt.  In a small pan, saute the chorizo over medium heat until cooked through, then add black beans and stir to combine.  Continue to saute until the beans are warmed through, then remove from heat.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil (or a generous amount of non-stick spray) in large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tortillas in single layer, then spoon the bean-chorizo mixture onto half of each tortilla and cook 1 minute.  Fold tacos in half and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 1 minute per side.

Serve with feta and slaw.  This recipe should make 6-8 small tacos – 4-6 if you omit the chorizo.  Plan for at least 2 tacos per person, and have hot sauce on hand.

0515 David Byrne Day (Observed)

In lieu of a local wedding reception, and also in celebration of the birthday of our favorite Talking Head, we threw a party tonight and called it David Byrne Day (Observed).  We’d been anxiously watching the weather given the omg constant rain, so were delighted to have a beautiful day and clear night for grilling and campfire sitting.

But before I get to that, let me tell you about what we did earlier in the day!

First, we got up and drove to WCCC so that I could run the Washtenaw County Start! Heart 5K .  Last night’s sausages and polenta proved to be excellent fuel, and I logged my best 5K yet, although I don’t think the distance was actually 5K.  To celebrate, we grabbed breakfast at Beezy’s, where Shane overheard a fortuitous conversation: a sever had spotted a moped at a yard sale!  So off to the yard sale we went, returning home with a non-running $100 Suzuki FA50.  Shane spent a good part of the afternoon poking around at the ‘ped, while I camped out in the kitchen and prepped for the party.

I never know how much food to make for parties, especially potluck-y cookout-y type parties.  You always end up with too much of this and not enough of that, with way too many buns and not enough condiments, etc.  The thing you decide not to make is always what someone else also forgets.  We decided to just do a variety of things, knowing that a cake and other delicious treats would be coming with our guests.  Worst case scenario? We order a pizza.

No pizza was necessary tonight, though!  We had tiny pork burgers – made from our pork, ground by me – on homemade dinner rolls topped with delicious pickled red onions.  The roll recipe was supposed to make 24 and instead made 40, so we have a bunch of delicious yeast rolls for the freezer.

Rolls + rolls

I also made cole slaw with the remaining cabbage from last weekend, and a lovely and simple asparagus crostini that disappeared within the first half hour of the party.

Asparagus crostini

In addition, friends brought salads, lots of grillables, homemade bread and prosciutto, dulce de leche ice cream, and a totally beautiful wedding cake (pictures forthcoming).  We ate well, and then we sat around the fire and talked until late.  It was a fantastic evening.

(One of these days I really will talk about our wedding.  I promise.  We’re still working on the photos, and I want to be able to show you guys instead of just telling.)

Recipes:
Pork Sliders With Pickled Red Onions from Moogie & Pap
Pillow-Soft Dinner Rolls from Taste of Home

0511 Last Minute Shrimp Tacos

I say ‘last minute’ because I really didn’t have a plan tonight.  Well, I kind of had a plan, but then it was extremely rainy, and also we went out to dinner last night, and the quantity of cheese and fancy fish on hand wasn’t really enough to constitute a meal, per se.  I also forgot that Karin doesn’t eat fish (or is it just shellfish? not sure) and had planned to do something shrimp-y.  So you see, there were problems.

It all worked out just fine, though.  Karin had picked up a salad from Plum Market while out being a grocery store tourist, so she was all set.  I had been kicking around the idea of roasting shrimp using this basic recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, so I quickly thawed some shrimp, lined a roasting pan with tinfoil, drizzled the shrimp with olive oil and salt and pepper, then popped them in the toaster oven (oh beautiful Cuisinart oven) for about 7 minutes.  We filled warmed tortillas with the shrimp and a bit of plain Greek yogurt, then topped them with leftover coleslaw from Sunday’s pork.  The tart spiciness of the coleslaw nicely balanced the sweetness of the shrimp, and the Greek yogurt mellowed out the extremes of both flavors.

This was such an easy dinner – from start to finish, about 45 minutes, including time to thaw the shrimp – and I suspect you’ll be seeing it on the menu again soon, especially if we can source the local shrimp we keep hearing about.

0509 Southern-Style Pork & Slaw

This was very nearly an unmitigated kitchen disaster, and it was all my fault.

See, I checked out Jamie’s America from the library last week and, in looking for something to do with our 89.5# of pork, I hit on this delicious-sounding Southern-Style Pork and Slaw.  Pork shoulder? Check.  Crunchy tangy cole slaw? Check. Good with homebrew and thick slices of bread? Check.  Cooked over several hours and requiring minimal supervision? Check – err, wait.

If you’ve clicked through to the recipe and then clicked back to this post, you may see where I’m headed.

We had free tickets to see Coraline in 3-D this afternoon, so just before we left, I popped the seasoned shoulder into the oven at 320.  We went to the movie, came home, Shane turned on the game, and I crawled into bed for a quick nap.  About 45 minutes later, Shane woke me up, concerned that the pork was overcooking/overcooked.

But wait!  It’s supposed to be in the oven for 6 hours and it’s only been in for 4!

Oh.

The recipe called for AN ENTIRE pork shoulder, not a 3# piece. An entire pork shoulder cooked for 6 hours is one thing.  A 3# shoulder cooked for 6 hours is a dense piece of charcoal.

Fortunately Shane, in his quick thinking, had pulled the shoulder after the internal temperature topped out our thermometer (200+), and we were still able to have delicious pulled pork for dinner.  I’m pretty sure this is a testament to how forgiving this cut is – especially when topped with the tart and very green slaw.

If I were feeding a small army, I’d definitely make this again, following the full recipe, though I’m not sold on the cole slaw part.  I love cole slaw, but the addition of collard greens just made it taste too, I don’t know, vegetal?  I have a solid recipe that I love, so next time I’ll just stick with that.

Recipe:
 Southern-Style Pork and Slaw from Jamie’s America