Saturday, August 12, 2017


As I peruse through the bread section of Tartine Bread , a fascinating cookbook my son gives me, I fall in love with the recipes, even though they are so very convoluted and complicated. Having sampled the finished products at Tartine Manufactory and Bakery, I know my endeavors will fall way below their standards. So I settle for the food. 

Porchetta is intriguing. I like the idea of a slow roast. Pork loin is butterflied and stuffed with herbs and bread. The stuffing is a fresh green aromatic paste, made with parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, fennel, garlic and sourdough bread. It is spread in a thick layer, while singing Scarborough Fair, onto the butterflied pork. Rolled and tied, the foil wrapped pork roasts for six hours on the grill. The pork needs to tied well.  Click the aforementioned link to do it the right way. I do not, and make a bit of a mess, but the strings hold. The original recipe calls for an overnight roast in the oven, but I'm too chicken to leave pork in the oven all night. The grill makes an adequate alternative. It's outside, so no heat permeates the house. The heavenly roasted pork aroma is now the gardener's and neighbors delight.

The cooked roast cools in the fridge for a few hours. Or overnight. The refrigeration lets me cut the pork easily into slices that hold together. Browned in olive oil till they are slightly crusty, the pork is ready for us to indulge.

Adapted from Tartine Bread 
Serves 4-6

1 2-3 pound boneless Pork Loin
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1 cup Parsley, stems and leaves
1 tablespoon Rosemary 
3 tablespoons Thyme leaves
6 Sage leaves
2 slices of Sourdough bread
1/2 cup Fennel fronds
1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon Chile flakes
6 Garlic cloves
4 tablespoons Olive Oil 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper 
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Pat pork loin dry. 

Butterfly pork by making a vertical cut about an inch away from one long end of the roast. Keep slicing downwards till you can open the flap. Turn the knife carefully, slicing through the pork till you have one flat piece of pork. OR you can have a butcher do this task. Or watch a video.

Cover the pork with a piece of plastic wrap. Use a tenderizing tool to flatten the pork. The flat pork should be one inch thick. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Place parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, fennel fronds, fennel seed, garlic, chile flakes, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse a few times.

Cut sourdough into small pieces and add to parsley.

Pour 4 tablespoons olive oil in to the bowl and pulse several times till you have a rough paste.

Smear the paste over the pork.

Roll the pork tightly. 

Use twine to tie the pork. Tie the twine both lengthwise and breadthwise tightly. I made five vertical ties. I then threaded the a long piece of twine through the vertical ties pulling hard as I looped them. 

Place the pork on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Cover pork with foil.

Heat a gas grill to 300F using indirect heat. Or heat your oven to 300F.

Place the tightly wrapped pork on a baking sheet. 

Put the sheet onto the grill or in the oven.

Roast for 6 hours.

Take pork off the heat. Cool the pork and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Discard the foil and place pork on a cutting board.

Cut and discard the twine.

Slice pork into 3/4 inch slices.

Heat olive oil in a nonstick saucepan.

Lay slices flat in the pan. Saute till golden brown and crusty, three to five minutes.

Serve hot with pan roasted potatoes.

The porchetta is a meat lovers delight. That translates as all are pleased at my table. I am truly happy with this roast..a lot of effort with a huge reward.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Corn and Methi Bhaji

A month of holy Mondays begins and I make the requisite thali dinners. Today's thali is a simple one. The sweet component is keroli or plantains stuffed with coconut and raisins. Zucchini bhaji or fritters, varan bhaat or dal and rice, cauliflower curry, peas and cauliflower (yes we do love cruciferous veggies) and fresh corn with methi leaves.

Fresh corn is a summer staple, found at farmers markets, local grocery stores and even at garden centers. I scrape off the kernels with a sharp knife. Cleaning methi leaves or fresh fenugreek is another story. Methi is usually grown in sandy soil. This batch comes with its own bag of soil! Once it's thoroughly washed, I give it a rough chop. If you cannot find fresh fenugreek leaves , use baby spinach. Oil goes into a hot pan. Mustard and cumin seeds are spluttered till they hiss and pop. Minced green chiles add zing. In go the corn kernels for a quick saute. Chopped methi leaves sit atop the corn, wilting with the high heat. A short steam later the vegetable is ready for the thali.

Serves 4

2-3 Corn cobs
2 small bunches of Methi leaves or baby Spinach leaves
2 tablespoons Canola Oil 
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
2 green Chiles
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1/2 teaspoon Sugar

Remove husk and silk from corn cobs. Hold the corn upright in a flat dish. Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels, going in a downward motion. The dish should catch most of the kernels. You should have a little more than 2 cups of kernels.

Pick off the leaves from methi stems. Discard stems. Wash the leaves thoroughly to remove all sandy grit. Roughly chop leaves.

Mince green chiles finely.

Heat canola oil in saucepan over high heat.

Splutter mustard and cumin seeds. Let them turn brown and pop.

Add green chiles to hot oil. Wait a few seconds.

Then add corn kernels. Let corn saute over high heat for a few minutes.

Scatter methi leaves and turmeric powder over corn. 

Season with salt and sugar.

Cover the saucepan and lower heat. 

Cook the vegetables for 8-10 minutes. 

Uncover pan, stir the veggies and serve the bhaji hot.

This is a simple side. It pairs with rice or any Indian bread. The blessed thali is presented to the youngest family member...who does full justice to the meal.