Salted Watermelon Salad

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Here are more photos of animals that tried to kill us in Alaska.  Ok, Bullwinkle wasn’t dangerous. But pretty sure he will uproot your plants.  These guys, however, are another story.

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They will definitely uproot your plants. We met them in our new favorite saloon, The Salty Dawg, in Homer Spit, Alaska. Yes, I said saloon. I also said Homer Spit.

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The bar is filled with one dollar bills.

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But where do these guys get all those singles? Oh……………….

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It was a great time. I wore plaid and drank beer.

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Before ordering the only glass of wine ever served at the Salty Dawg.

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It’s a classy joint.

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Vandalism is allowed.

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Lots of love here….

5I mean, lots of love….

17And some other feelings…

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Salty. Like this salad.

26A much better idea than our last round of shots at the Salty Dawg.

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Salted Watermelon Salad
 
Author:

 
Ingredients
  • Watermelon (cut into chunks)
  • Jalapeno (sliced)
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • Crumbled Goat cheese (or feta)
Instructions
  1. Toss the watermelon in a large bowl with a heaping tablespoon of coarse salt. Give it a stir a few times but let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Combine with all other ingredients; give a gentle toss.

 

Blue-beary Bars

Bear Viewing. Katmai Penninsula, Alaska.

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Prior to this trip, this is the closest I have ever gotten to a bear.

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And as I recall,  Corey and I went for tapas afterwards. This excursion was a little different….

And I thought Grendel was big.

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About 30 seconds into Katmai National Park, I started to understand the Accidental Death & Dismemberment Waiver I just signed.

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I shot this about 8 feet in front of me.

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With my Nikon. Not with a harpoon. (which I wish I had brought).

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Gulp.

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Why did we do this again??? Did we pay for this activity??

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They sure don’t look like Yogi. Or Smokey. Or Pooh. Now Pooh, he was a good bear.

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And as I type this, I recall a sound I could live without hearing for the rest of my life…

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That would be the sound of a bear chewing.

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But we were brave.

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Because in the wild, there is probably nothing more dangerous than stumbling upon a mama bear with her cubs.

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Ooops and look, there it is.

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About 10 feet in front of us.

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No worries, pal.  Bear dismemberment must be covered in our short term disability plan.

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Much like Joe, a bears waking hours are dominated by their search for food. Try these blueberry bars when you are hungry.

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Instead of salmon…

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Grass….

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Or tourists….

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It’s beary good :)

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Blue-beary Bars
 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Filling: In saucepan, bring blueberries, sugar and orange juice to boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch and boil, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until cooled, about 1 hour or up to 1 day before using.
  2. Base/Topping: In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. Cut in the butter to form a crumbly mixture. Reserve 1½ cups of the crumbs, and pat the rest evenly into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
  3. Spread the blueberry mixture over the base. Crumble the reserved amount of the base/topping over the blueberry mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F until light golden, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool completely on rack as these cut better when they are fully set. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or overwrap with heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.).

Double Chocolate Raspberry Sea Salt Brownies

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We are hours away from our trip to Alaska.

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We have our North Face hoodies, our bug spray bracelets, our Merril hiking boots, our REI moisture wicking underwear, our bear repellent socks.

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We also have band aids and Neosporin for when we inevitably get our asses kicked for having all of that stuff in Alaska.

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To kick off our journey right, I decided to make something with sea salt. I have been watching too much Deadliest Catch.

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So I made…..a brownie.

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Rugged.

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See you soon!!

Double Chocolate Raspberry Sea Salt Brownies
 
Author:

 
Ingredients
  • Soft butter, for greasing the pan
  • •Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
  • •4 large eggs
  • •1 cup sugar, sifted
  • •1 cup brown sugar, sifted
  • •8 ounces melted butter
  • •1¼ cups cocoa, sifted
  • •2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • •1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • •2 packages fresh raspberries or fruit of your choice
  • 1 package of dark chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 whopping tablespoon of coarse sea salt (more for finishing, to taste)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.
  2. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, raspberries and chocolate and mix to combine.
  3. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it’s done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it’s mostly cool.

 

 

Strawberry Ice Cream

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By far the best parade in NYC is the Gay Pride Parade.

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And one of the best days the city has all year.

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Sorry Colombus.

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You don’t have glitter.

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People actually applaud the cops.

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Gentleman wear their Sunday best.

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As do the ladies.

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Even the dogs are fierce.

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But there is a moment every year that I realize the ugly truth.

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There is no way I will ever have an ass like that.

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And it hurts.

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May as well drown my sorrow in ice cream.

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Were you thinking Baskin Robbins?

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Big Gay Ice Cream is pretty awesome. But having a flavor called The Bea Arthur is “bend & snap” amazing.

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Don’t even get me started on the Rue McClanahan. Joe had the Salty Pimp. It was more appealing than the American Globs. Hey, no judgment.

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The parade closed out with Lennox Hill Hospital.

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Who held up signs that said “For your non-fashion emergencies”.

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And we came home for more ice cream. Strawberries, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract.  Takes about 60 seconds. To make and to eat.

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I used my Vitamix to make this but feel free to use any bougie blender.

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A beautiful day for so many of my closest friends…..

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And such a nice way to end it…

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Happy Pride 2014.

Strawberry Ice Cream
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup milk or half and half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Use the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.
  5. In about 30-60 seconds, the sound of the motor will change and four mounds should form.
  6. Stop machine. Do not over mix or melting will occur. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

Carrot, Apple and Walnut Muffins

Orlando. Part two. The Conference.

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The conference is the same every year. Fourteen thousand human resources professionals gather from all around the country. Do you have any idea how much Diet Coke is consumed by 14,000 women in four days?  There are lots of scrungees, lots of khakis, lots of crocs.  I would come in an Eyes Wide Shut mask if I thought I could get away with it.  Thirty two percent of these attendees will be named Barb.

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For the next 4 days, I will see Barbs everywhere- in the hotel lounge, walking around with Mickey Mouse ears (yes, they make you look fat), making jokes about the gator ball appetizer they just had at the pool bar, gulping up half price electric Blue Hawaiians like their khakis were on fire. Might even see a cannonball if I stay up that late. (Don’t worry, I won’t).

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On the days of the conference we get a boxed lunch. A sandwich wrap and a giant cookie. What’s with the giant cookie? Is it supposed to make me forget we haven’t seen daylight for the last 12 hours of this conference?? If you want to make me happy, hide a nip of tequila in my boxed lunch and I will meet you at the pool later for the Macarena, Barb….

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All I can think is: get me home where there are no Chilli’s, no Checkers, no Chuy’s, no Chachki’s so I can pack my own lunch that doesnt automatically come with diabetes and a trio of dipping sauces.

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Something healthy- like this muffin. Yes, it counts if it has carrots in it.

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Something healthy that will give me lots of energy so I can dance to the Society of Human Resources Management’s main event headliner……..

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Oh you guessed it. That would be DJ Jazzy Jeff, regretting everything he has ever done in his life that led to headlining the Society of Human Resources main event.

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Which actually wasn’t too much. Should have had a muffin.

Carrot, Apple and Walnut Muffins
 
Author:

 
Ingredients
  • Topping
  • 3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp butter cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup plus 11/2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 5tsp light muscovado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
  • 11/2 tbsp. black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1tsp sunflower oil
  • 11/2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 cups plus 6 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 free range eggs
  • ⅔ cup sunflower oil
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz peeled, grated carrots
  • 7 oz Granny Smith apples, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup walnuts (or pecans)
  • ⅔ cup golden raisins
  • ⅔ cup flaked coconut
Instructions
  1. To make the topping, in a bowl, stir together the butter, flour, and sugar. Rub with your fingertips until the butter is incorporated and you have a crumbly texture. Mix in the oats and seeds and then the water, oil and honey. Stir everything together and set aside. It will be a wet, sandy, texture.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, superfine sugar, vanilla, and grated carrot and apple. Gently fold in the walnuts, raisins, and coconut and then the sifted flour mixture. Do not overmix, don’t worry if the batter is lumpy. Spoon into the muffin liners and scatter the topping generously over the top. Bake for about 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan when they are just warm and allow them to cool before serving. Their flavor will actually improve after a couple of hours.

 

 

Batter Dipped Scallions

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Orlando – Part 1

At first glance,  Orlando doesn’t seem half bad. For example, taking a tram to go about 25 feet (awesome), 4pm dinner specials (yay, another chocolate fountain!!) , waiters with 35 pieces of flair.  Yup, all good.

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But after a few days, Orlando shows its dark side. Guys with soul patches, Tilikum, mom jeans. No……. mom jean-shorts. And Orlando always seems just a little annoyed all the time. Like, even when its really sunny, you can see an inky black cloud out of the corner of your eye that will scare you enough to stop what you are doing and buy a poncho. With Mickey’s face on it.

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I had a hard time eating in Orlando. I finally stopped for dinner at a place called Chuy’s, thinking, well, that it would be.  But I was disappointed.  I was forced to order my “go to” dinner when I am afraid everything else will give me Mad Cow.

Onion rings and diet coke.

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But a much more elegant way to do onion rings- batter dip some scallions and add a sriracha yogurt sauce.

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Now, that’s a bloomin’ onion.

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Batter Dipped Scallions
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup flour
  • teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • 4 bunches of scallions
  • Vegetable oil
  • Greek Yogurt, Sriracha (optional)
Instructions
  1. Whisk wine into flour in a bowl until smooth. Season with salt and cayenne.
  2. Halve scallions crosswise. Dip into batter, and fry in hot vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat until crisp (2-3 minutes). Drain on paper towels and salt generously.

 

Jalapeno Watermelon Vodka Granitas

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We always keep infused vodka in the house.

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Not milk, eggs, or bread but always infused vodka.

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Mom. I know that makes you so proud.

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Jalapeno is my favorite.

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Of course you could just buy Jalapeno vodka.

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But that would take away the fun of enjoying your favorite cocktail 45-60 days from the time you actually want to drink it.

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I jazz it up with a lime simple syrup.

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And plenty of fresh watermelon.

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This recipe also makes a great granita.

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Which is basically a giant, boozy, slushy.

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You know you’re in trouble when you have to start eating your cocktails.

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But it’s a fun way to use up any leftover cocktails.

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Yes, I just heard that out loud.

Jalapeno Watermelon Vodka Granitas
 
Author:

 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of watermelon seeded
  • 2 limes, zested
  • 1 cup ( or more) jalapeno infused vodka
  • Mint or basil for garnish
Instructions
  1. Puree the watermelon in a blender until smooth
  2. In a large bowl, combine strained watermelon juice, jalapeno vodka and lime simple syrup.
  3. (To make lime simple syrup, add 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar and bring to boil; add lime zest. Wait at least an hour, preferably overnight. Strain to remove zest.)
  4. Pour into glass pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for at least one hour.
  5. After an hour, take a fork and scrape frozen parts.
  6. Repeat every 30 minutes for another 2 -3 hours or until the mixture is a slushy consistency.
  7. Serve in a martini glass. Garnish as desired.
  8. Granita can made 24 hours in advance.

 

Cubano Medianoches

 

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Pamela and I just saw the movie “Chef”.

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Jon Favreau’s character quits his day job and opens a food truck selling Cubanos.

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He’s so money.

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I couldn’t imagine a world without Cubanos.

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A friend of mine just mentioned that he has never heard of the Cubano sandwich.

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But he’s from Denmark.

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He eats things like frikkadeller and flaekesteg and leverpostej and roget laks.

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He doesn’t know what he is missing.

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This is a variation of the Cubano- called a Medianoche. They sell them off food trucks after midnight in Little Havana. Medianoche means the “midnight”. Clever name.

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It’s also about the time it will be ready because roasting the pork yourself tastes forever.

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The main difference between a medianoche and a traditional Cubano is that it is served on an egg bread, like a challah instead of a Cuban roll.

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Serve it with a beer or a nice tall Glogg.

Cubano Medianoches
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed with the side of your knife
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 long Cuban bread roll or Challah bread for a Medianoche
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 thin slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup bread and butter pickles
  • 8 thin slices deli ham
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Begin by braising the pork shoulder. Tie the shoulder in 4 places with kitchen twine so it will hold its shape. Season the pork with salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Set the base of a dutch oven over low-medium heat and add a 2 count of olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and chili flakes and as the oil heats up it will become fragrant and infuse the oil. Add the pork. Add onions around the pork and brown slightly before adding orange juice, lime juice, stock and bay leaves.
  3. Cook pork at 325 for an hour per pound.When done allow to cool in juices before removing twine and slicing.
  4. To prepare sandwiches, split bread in half then layer the sandwich with mustard, cheese, pickles, ham, pork then cheese again (the cheese glues everything together). Season with salt and pepper in between the ham and pork layers. Drizzle a little of the pork braising liquid over the meat as well.
  5. To cook, heat a large cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat and lightly coat with olive oil. Place the sandwiches on the skillet and top with another heavy skillet and a couple of heavy weights (bricks, or cans of tomatoes work well). Press down firmly and cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side until the sandwich has compressed to about a third of its original size and the bread is super-crispy. Serve with beans, rice and plantain chips.

 

Guava Pastelillos

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Brooklyn, you sure do love your warehouse parties.

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And your newsboy caps.

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Brooklyn would celebrate the opening of an envelope if it was done in a derelict warehouse that made people feel like they weren’t cool enough and were wearing the wrong shoes.

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So like any reluctant aging non-hipster couple in bad shoes, we met some friends and hit Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory early Sunday morning for a sugar art installation before the factory was demolished forever.

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Ah the sweet smell of decades of sugar, worker exploitation and asbestos.

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But mostly sugar. 80 tons of it.

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That’s alot of Fun Dip.

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The exhibit included a 35 foot high, 4 ton, anti-slavery-inspired Sugar Minotaur.

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Damn Brooklyn, you think of everything.

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So I was inspired to get my sweet on.

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And because a big part of me still believes I am still on vacation in Central America, I made guava pastilillos to satisfy my sweet tooth.

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I used queso blanco for the filling instead of cream cheese because it’s in the Latina Handbook.

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These are out of this world.

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Expect another kind of demolition.

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Guava Pastelillos
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (1-pound) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or queso blanco, cut into 8 equal pieces
  • 8 (1 by 1-inch) squares guava paste (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Sprinkle the sugar on your work surface to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll out each sheet of puff pastry to an 8 by 8-inch square. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut each sheet into 4 squares.
  3. Make the turnovers: Set a pastry square in front of you with 1 of the corners pointing toward you. Place 1 piece of cream cheese diagonally over the center of the bottom of the square. Top with a piece of guava paste. Brush the edges of the square with beaten egg. Fold the upper half of the square over the filling to make a neat triangle. Crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat with the remaining turnovers, placing them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet as you go.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.
  5. While the turnovers are baking, mix the confectioners’ sugar with the milk and vanilla, stirring to dissolve any lumps. Set aside.
  6. Cool the turnovers on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then drizzle the glaze over them. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Coconut Bread

Don’t ever come to Corn Island, Nicaragua.

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The beaches are deserted.

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And full of debris.

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The animals are wild.

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It’s easy to get lost…

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You can get dehydrated very easily.

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You never know where your food comes from.

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You may even have to sleep outside.

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It can really affect your mood.

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One of the best parts of the whole trip was the coconut bread.

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And the coconut pina coladas.

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But that’s another post.

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Bake up a big loaf of this stuff.

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Even add fresh whipped cream and a fruit compote.

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We won’t have to wear bathing suits again for a while.

Holly and Ami, thank you for the best time…

Coconut Bread
 
Author:

 
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 5 ounces sweetened flaked coconut (about 1½ cups)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted or melted and browned, if desired
  • Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray for baking pan
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add sugar and coconut, and stir to mix. Make a well in the center, and pour in egg mixture, then stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Add butter, and stir until just smooth — be careful not to overmix.
  3. Butter and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or coat it with a nonstick spray. Spread batter in pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, anywhere from 1 to 1¼ hours. Cool in pan five minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack.
  4. Serve in thick slices, toasted, with fresh whipped cream and your favorite fruit compote.

 

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