Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Kind of Grilled Cheese

It only took us three days to go through this entire loaf of H&F Bread Co.'s dark, earthy, Pumpernickel bread. It toasted up quite nicely for my take on the grilled cheese sandwich (to wrap up National Grilled Cheese month)... inspired by one of my previous posts.

I'm calling it: The Islander.

The Islander

The Islander

8 slices of pumpernickel bread
6-8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
8oz cream cheese
1/2lb deli-sliced black forest ham
4 Ataulfo mangoes (these are sweeter and less fibrous than the Tommy Atkins variety, but if you cannot find Ataulfo mangoes, you can use whichever are available)
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the thinly sliced shallots into a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, to remove some of the sharpness. Drain and place onto paper towels or a clean dish cloth and pat dry. 

Wash the mangoes and cut into thin slices.
*Even though this video shows them cutting Tommy Atkins mangoes, which are large than Ataulfo mangoes, the same principles apply when cutting any mango.

Heat large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Spread one side of each bread slice with butter. Place 4 slices butter-side down in pan and spread each with 1 tablespoon cream cheese.

Top each with a few slices of ham and sliced mango. Season with salt and pepper. Add thinly sliced shallots and a few leaves of cilantro.

Top with another bread slice, butter-side up. Grill, turning sandwiches once until bread is golden and cheese is melted. Serves 4.

Monday, April 23, 2012

David's Take on Pork & Beans

Pork & Beans

I can't take the credit for all of the dishes that come out of my kitchen these days. While most of the stuff on my blog is definitely my doing, there is a much more experienced and talented palette at my side.

So, I'll post a few of David's creations here and there, sans recipe, for your culinary inspiration and stomach's desire. Why no recipe? Some chefs don't like to freely give away their secrets, especially on their carefully tested (or magically concocted) recipes. I have to respect David's wishes. I ask him *politely* if he minds if I post a recipe that he comes up with, and if he gives me that look... I just post a photo. Another reason is that David usually cooks as he goes (without a recipe in mind), and his recipes tend to have more complicated-than-I-feel-like-typing steps.

Luckily for me, even after a 50+ hour week in the restaurant, he still wants to come home and cook. This was dish #2 to come out of our massive pork shoulder buy. 

David's Pork & Beans

It's David's take on pork and beans. Braised and seared pork shoulder with cranberry beans, watercress (can't get enough of these two) and chimichurri. Being from The South, this was not at all what I envisioned when tossing around ideas about doing a variation on the classic dish. It was light and fresh, packed with flavor, and dare I say it, pretty damn healthy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Importance of Eating Seasonally

There are plenty of reasons why one should eat seasonally. Without a doubt one of the main reasons is flavor. Take a mango for example, which, a few months ago, would not only cost you twice as much as it does today, but would also not shower you with the amazing sweetness that a perfectly ripe mango can offer. I adore mangoes. Probably due to the fact (ok, mythical fact) that I fell from the mango tree - which is where my mom told me I came from.

A few weeks ago, Ataulfo mangoes started appearing at our international farmer's market. Native to the Philippines and Mexico, they're smaller, bright yellow, luscious, and buttery. Unfortunately, they were all imported from Mexico, but alas, it's difficult to find these type of mangoes in the U.S. (mangoes grown in Florida are usually Tommy Atkins).


This same time last year, I was in the Philippines visiting the other half of my family for the first time since 1995. Sixteen years. My cousins who once were small enough for me to tote around on my hip were now sharing a beer with me at the dinner table.
I forgot a lot of things about the Philippines... the sights, the sounds, the smells... well, I may have purposely dismissed some of that from my memory.


I forgot, or maybe just never realized how good the food really was. Everything seemed new to me, except for my Lola's house... and the taste of a perfectly ripe mango.

Lunch on the Beach

Nothing beats the bang! thump, thump... thomp of a mango falling off of the tree and rolling down your roof... then bribing your little brother to climb up there and get it for you. That's right, they are so ripe that they fall off the tree. None of this picking it 2 weeks before it's ready so that it holds up through shipping and processing crap.