Sunday, April 22, 2012

Avocado and Pistachio Toast

Few years back I was in Washington DC visiting my friends from the graduate school. We went out for dinner to Cork. Very vibrant small plate wine bar. One of the appetizers we had was grilled bread with avocados, pistachios, pistachio oil and salt. I thought it would be nice to replicate it at home and I did.

List of ingredients is short: ripe avocado, some good bread (I use Bakery Nouveau baguette or Grand Central Bakery's Piccolo Como), roasted pistachios, roasted pistachio oil and salt. To assemble, toast several slices of bread and place 3-4 thin slices of avocado on each, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and drizzle with pistachio oil. Salt in the end.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Japanese Sweets from Tokara

Last weekend I tasted something new - Japanese sweets called wagashi. My friends brought them over for Russian Orthodox Easter. They bought them from Tokara store. I tried three sweets - Sakura Robe, Petals of Cherry and Spring Daydream. All sweets looked beautiful. Taste wise they seemed all similar to me and I could taste the bean paste and sugar. It is definitely something unique that I have never tried before. But is it better than praline dream cake from Bakery Nouveau? Hmm, not for me. Yet. But I am sure there are people who appreciate and love wagashi. Hope some will find this post useful.

Tender Pork Chili Verde

One of my favorite Mexican dishes is Chili Verde. Few years back I learned how to make it at home by adapting a recipe from PCC Natural Markets. It takes a long time to make it (4 hours) but I love eating leftovers for lunch for several days. Ingredients list may seem long at first but a lot of them are spices. This is also a great dish to make for a big family dinner. Here is the recipe I use.


For Chili Verde:
2.5 - 3 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup of chicken stock
1/4 cup of white flour
1 yellow onion, half-moon sliced
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of dried ground oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive oil for cooking
Tomatillo Sauce (2-3 cups)

For Tomatillo Sauce:
7 fresh tomatillos, cleaned and cut into quarters
2 cups of chicken stock
1 green pepper, diced
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of dried ground oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Extra cilantro for garnish


1. Start by making the Tomatillo Sauce. Combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until soft. Transfer to a blender/food processor and puree. I usually do this in two batches since my food processor is small. Set the sauce aside.

2. Preheat oven to 425F. Toss pork with flour using your hands. Salt and pepper to taste. Next I add about 2 tablespoons of oil and toss pork in it. Transfer pork on to a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes until crispy and brown. I usually turn pork after 20 minutes. Once cooked drain the excess fat and transfer pork to a clean bowl. You can turn the oven to 325F.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a pan and on medium high heat saute onions, garlic and poblano peppers for 2 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano and saute for another minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn the heat off and set aside.

4. It is time to assemble chili verde and bake it in the oven. You should have kept oven on at 325F. I use Le Creuset Cast Iron pot for this. I start out by putting a layer of pork on the bottom, then add onion mixture and bay leaf, then add chopped cilantro and pour tomatillo sauce. Mix with a wooden spoon. Cover the pot and bake in the oven for about 2 hours, stirring once or twice. Taste for salt and pepper. Add if needed. Serve with white or brown rice.