Honey-ed Jalapeno Popper Toasted Sandwich

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No menu this week, I’m jet-setting to Sydney and the gang has to fend for themselves for once. The Boyfriend and I wanted toasted sandwiches for an easy lunch before I left, so I went to the undisputed king of grilled cheese over at Closet Cooking for filling ideas. The Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese stood out immediately and then things got out of control when I drizzled honey all over it. Jarred jalapeños aren’t particularly fiery but you can remove the seeds for a milder warmth. Jalapeno poppers usually have bacon wrapped around them but I substituted with ham to avoid adding another frying pan to the mix (it’s just occurred to me though, what about toasting the sandwiches in BACON FAT?!).

I haven’t included quantities for the fillings because it depends on the size of your bread, personal preference for cheese and spiciness from the jalapeños, so just fill in the blanks with what you like.

I’ll post again when I get back from Sydney next week, hopefully with lots of food photos!

Honey-ed Jalapeno Popper Toasted Sandwich

Inspired by Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich over at Closet Cooking.

2 thick slices sourdough

butter

cream cheese

sharp cheddar, grated

jarred jalapeños, sliced

smoked ham, thinly sliced

honey

Put a small frying pan on medium heat.

Butter the outside of each slice of bread.

On the non-buttered side of one piece of bread, spread on cream cheese then add the grated cheese, jarred jalapenos, ham and drizzle with honey.

Add a little more grated cheese then top with the other slice of bread (butter side out) and place in the pan, cooking 2-4 minutes each side, or until dark brown and the cheese inside has melted.

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Dolsot Bibimbap (Korean Fried Rice in a Stone Bowl)

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Buying stone bowls was definitely a tipping point in my obsession with Korean food. Nothing else would do but that authentic stone flay-va. As well as getting delicious crispy bits of rice through your meal the stone bowls have the extra advantage of keeping your food hotter for longer. You don’t need stone bowls to cook this dish but you would never find me trying to talk someone out of buying them. They need a little love and attention (don’t we all?) but just like a well kept wok they will last you for the rest of your life.

This dish is more then a bit of work but it’s all assembly after the ingredients are prepped. I usually double the recipe and freeze all the ingredients in little meal packs that are ready to go for a quick dinner. The vegetables listed below are favourites in my household but you can give anything the sesame-oil-garlic-treatment and it will fit in great. Use the freshest egg yolks that you can if you are concerned about lightly cooked egg but I have to warn you, they add a creaminess to the rice that is hard to replicate or do without.

Dolsot Bibimbap (Korean Fried Rice in a Stone Bowl)

Adapted from Dolsot Bibimbap over at SBS Food.

6 cloves garlic, minced and divided into thirds

3 tbsp sesame oil, plus extra for final cook

2 carrots, julienned

1 large zucchini, julienned

1 1/2 cups of bean sprouts

1 cup dried shitaake mushrooms

4 cups cooked rice (2 cups of raw rice)

one lot of Korean Pork

4 tsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

4 egg yolks

Prep:

Preheat a large saucepan on high heat, drizzle in 1 tbsp of sesame oil and add the carrot and a third of the garlic.

Stir constantly until the carrot is lightly cooked but still crunchy, transfer to a small bowl.

Repeat with the zucchini and bean sprouts separately.

In a small, heat proof bowl cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water, allow to sit for 15 minutes then drain.

Cook the Korean Pork as per the instructions in the post.

Final Cook:

If you have 4 Korean stone bowls, rub the inside of each with a little bit of sesame oil.

Place 1 cup of rice in each bowl then 1/4 each of the carrots, zucchini, bean sprouts and mushrooms.

Add desired amount of meat to each bowl as well as 1 tsp each of gochujang (you can add more later as desired).

One at a time, place each stone bowl on a gas stove and set to the lowest possible heat.

Drizzle a tiny amount of sesame oil around the ingredients in the bowl.

Cook until you can hear the rice beginning to crackle then cook for a further 10 minutes.

Take the stone bowl off the heat (heavy duty oven gloves are great for safety) and place on a heat-proof silicone mat.

Place an egg yolk on top and quickly mix everything together, making sure to reach all of the rice at the bottom.

Repeat with the 3 remaining stone bowls.

IF you don’t have Korean stone bowls, follow the instructions exactly the same but do it in a small, non-stick saucepan.

OR do it all at once in a large non-stick saucepan.

Drunken Pulled Pork Quesadillas

quesadillas

New favourite dinner, we had this 2 weeks in a row and not just because the recipe makes so much pulled pork. This was my attempt at recreating the Pulled Pork Quesadillas from Typika in Perth and I have to say, I’m pretty darn pleased with my efforts. The pork came together without too much need for tweaking and the Grilled Corn and Avocado Salsa came out right on the first go as well. Even though both elements are delicious on their own it’s unbelievable how much better they taste together, totally food BFF’s.

If you can’t face doing everything on the same day then cook the pork a day in advance and allow it to nap overnight in the fridge, then all you have to do is whip up the salsa just before you eat. You can feed a bunch of people with 1.5kg of pork or freeze half of it for a future dinner. I cooked the pork in my pressure cooker, which I am currently courting and getting to know a little better. I was scared of it to begin with but with the option of reducing meat to tender shreds in 50 minutes, I’m seriously considering ending things with the slow cooker.

Drunken Pulled Pork Quesadillas

Recipe by Ainsley Badman.

Drunken Pulled Pork:

1 cup smokey BBQ sauce

330 ml beer

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp white vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp maple syrup

salt and pepper to taste

1.5 kg pork shoulder, skin removed

In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients but the pork, mix well and adjust flavours to your preference.

Place the pork in a pressure cooker and pour over the marinade, cook for 50 minutes (follow your pressure cooker’s instructions).

Alternatively, cook in a slow cooker with the marinade for 7 hours on low.

OR Cook in a 160 C oven for 2-4 hours with the marinade in a dish tightly covered with aluminium foil.

Remove the pork from the sauce and allow to cool slightly, shred with two forks and set aside.

Transfer the liquid into a medium saucepan and simmer until it thickens then mix it back into the shredded pork.

To serve:

grated cheese

flour tortillas

one serve of Grilled Corn and Avocado Salsa

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Cover half a tortilla with 1/2 cup of cheese and desired amount of the shredded pork, fold in half then grill for 5 minutes on each side (or until the tortilla is light brown).

Serve with Grilled Corn and Avocado Salsa.

Maple and Cinnamon Bacon

bacon

Yeah, so this isn’t bacon cooked with maple and cinnamon, this is bacon CURED with maple and cinnamon. That’s right, today we’re going to cure our own bacon! Just to let you know, this bacon isn’t likely to save you money (unless you can get a raging good deal on pork belly) but you will get the tastiest bacon you could ever hope to find in your mouth. I’m a huge fan of the sweet and salty combo but you can replace the maple syrup and cinnamon with garlic cloves and cracked peppercorns for a more savoury bacon. I first tried this bacon because I have grand dreams of salting and smoking meats like a regular Italian nonna but the humid climate of Queensland will forever be keeping me down. Solution? Fridge curing. The process is easy and you barley have to pay attention to the bacon once it’s in the fridge, just flip it and pat it a little so it knows that you care.

Word of warning, pink salt is not normal salt so do not eat it! It also goes by the name Prague Powder #1 and is composed of sodium nitrite and table salt. I bought mine online but it arrived to me opened and taped shut again, so I have a feeling that it could be used for nefarious purposes and I’m now on some kind of government watch list. Don’t be scared of the pink salt, just label it carefully so that no one in your household uses it to season a steak by accident. At the time I could only find it in 500g quantities but I make this bacon once or twice a year so it’s definitely not going to waste.

Maple and Cinnamon Bacon

Adapted from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Fresh Bacon from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

Basic Dry Cure:

225g kosher or sea salt

112g caster sugar

25g pink salt

Combine and mix well, will keep in an airtight container indefinitely.

Bacon:

1.25-2.25kg slab of pork belly, skin on

enough Dry Cure for dredging, approx. 1/4 cup

1/2 cup maple syrup

6 cinnamon sticks

5 splashes of liquid smoke

Spread the dry cure on a baking tray large enough to hold your pork belly, press all sides of the belly into the cure making sure that it is uniformly covered in a thick coating.

Place the pork belly in an extra large ziplock bag along with the maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and liquid smoke, close the ziplock bag.

If you are concerned about your first bag splitting, place it into a second ziplock bag for peace of mind.

Place the pork belly on a large tray and refrigerate for 7 days, flipping the bag every second day for equal distribution of the liquid.

After a week check the pork belly for firmness, if it feels firm at its thickest point then it is ready, if not then you can refrigerate for up to 2 more days.

Remove the pork belly from it’s bag and rinse it thoroughly, then pat dry with paper towels (you can now discard the curing liquid).

Preheat the oven to 93 C and roast the pork belly until its internal temperature reaches 65 C, which will take about 2 hours (start taking its temperature at 1 1/2 hours).

Remove the rind while the bacon is still hot, discard or keep to use in soups and stews.

Allow the bacon to cool to room temperature then wrap well and place in the fridge until chilled.

Slice off a small piece and cook it, taste to assess saltiness (remember that small end pieces may be saltier than the rest of the bacon).

If your bacon is too salty, blanch it in boiling water for 1 minute before cooking to reduce the saltiness.

The bacon will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge or cut it into slices and lardons and freeze for up to 3 months.

Churro Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

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This is my first venture putting bacon into baked goods, I’m a little late to the party. To be honest the idea never really appealed to me until I saw this recipe. It was passed on by some friends (who are vegans?!) and I had just enough time to whip them up for an American themed food night at a friends house. Movie of choice, Independance Day, because what’s more American than the President blowing up aliens? The menu:

Bris-adelphia Cheese Steaks

– KFC Chips with Big Mac Sauce for dipping (homemade by The Boyfriend)

– BBQ Pork Ribs

– Mini Macs

– Sriracha Hot Wings

– Churro Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

The cake itself is delicious, it’s a little denser than your average sponge but it holds its own against the icing and the bacon. If I was in a hurry I would leave off the bacon and it would still be an amazing cupcake. The sugar on top of the sponge dissolved overnight so they lost their delightful crunch and the candy coating on the bacon slowly dissolved and trickled down the icing, so I would recommend serving them on the day you assemble them for maximum impact. The reactions to the bacon were mixed, one friend couldn’t get enough of it but another just wasn’t a fan.

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1 3/4 cups of sugar is quite a lot, as well as the extra sprinkling on top which is why it’s recommended to pipe a smaller amount of icing than you normally would. Cake flour is an American product that is used to make cakes lighter and fluffier, you can make your own by taking out 2 tbsp of plain flour for every cup and replacing it with 2 tbsp cornflour. Sift as many times as you can be bothered and you have cake flour! It’s a nice trick to use in any cake recipe to achieve a lighter texture.

Churro Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

Adapted from Churro Bacon Cupcakes over at Holy Taco Church.

Cupcakes:

1/2 cup plain flour

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

225g butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups caster sugar

4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 175 C, line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the plain flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a mixing bowl large enough to hold the finished batter, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add in the vanilla then the eggs one at a time, mixing in between.

Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two batches of milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure the mixture is well combined then fill the paper liners 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes.

Allow the cupcakes to rest in the tin for 5 minutes before cooling on a rack.

Repeat until all the batter is used.

 

Crunchy Sugar Topping:

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

6 tbsp melted butter

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, mix well.

Brush the tops of the completely cool cupcakes with the melted butter then dip into the sugar mixture, rolling it around to make it really stick.

 

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing:

115g butter, room temperature

250g cream cheese, room temperature

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 cups icing sugar

Cream together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy then add the cinnamon and vanilla.

Add in the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches desired sweetness, mixing in between each addition.

Pipe a small amount of icing onto the cupcakes (they are already quite sweet).

 

Candied Bacon:

4-5 pieces of bacon

1/2 cup brown sugar

2-3 tbsp hot water

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cook the bacon in a pan over medium heat until crispy on both sides.

Remove the bacon from the pan and drain off the excess fat.

Add the brown sugar and water into the pan, cook on low until the sugar dissolves then add the bacon back in.

Make sure the bacon is completely covered in sugar then transfer to the prepared baking tray to cool completely.

Cut into bite sized pieces then place a piece on top of the icing on each cupcake.

Crispy Sassage Stir Fry

sassage

This recipe has similar flavours to my Chinese Duck Stir Fry but the Chinese sausage brings its own unique taste. It is quite sweet and is a perfect match with crunchy onion and any mild flavoured vegetables. The vegetables are cooked in the fat that renders out of the sausage, helping the flavours to meld. Unfortunately this fat does not have a high smoking point like vegetable or peanut oil, so whenever I used to make this I would set off the smoke alarm, even with all of the doors and windows open. The plus side is you get a lovely smokey flavour that can be so elusive in home cooked stir fries. I now have my hardcore three ring gas burner set up in the garage for stir fries (woop woop!) so I don’t have to stop mid stir fry to frantically bat at the smoke alarm with a pillow.

The Sassage Flare! Chinese sausage (lap cheong) is sold at all Asian supermarkets and butchers but I have also found them at my local Coles. There are 6 sausages per vacuum sealed packet and they will keep forever in the pantry, making this a great store cupboard ingredient. The ones I am using at the moment are from a Chinese butcher in Sunnybank and are quite large so I just use three but if you can only find the small ones use all six.

Sometimes I add soaked shiitake mushrooms but most vegetables will work with these sausages so use whatever you have in your fridge. In the original recipe Ching uses Sichuan peppercorns but I prefer to use the powder because crunching on whole Sichuan peppercorns isn’t high on my things-to-do-list. As with any stir fry have all of your ingredients prepared and laid out in the order that you will need them. This meal comes together really quickly in the wok because the sausages are pre-cooked.

Crispy Sassage Stir Fry

Adapted from Ching’s mala Crispy Sichuan sausage with pickled chillies and wood ear mushroom over at BBC Food.

3 lap cheong

2 small zucchinis, de-seeded, sliced

1 onion, sliced

2 large handfuls green beans, trimmed and chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp Chilli and Bean paste

1 tbsp Chilli paste

1 tbsp hoisin or kecap manis

1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, ground

Boil the lap cheong whole in water for 15 mins, drain and allow to cool.

Slice lap cheong on an angle into bite sized pieces.

Heat wok on high until smoking and add sausage.

Stir constantly until crispy then transfer the sauasge to a bowl, keeping all of the fat that has rendered from the sausage in the wok.

Heat wok back up and add the zucchini, onion, green beans and garlic and cook in the sausage fat for 2 mins, stirring constantly.

Add the sausage back in to the wok and add all of the sauces and ground Sichuan peppercorn, stir to combine.

Serve with rice.

Korean Burritos (Koritos!)

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In an effort to find different ways to cram Korean food to into my mouth I’ve taken the meat and coleslaw from my Korean Burgers and Slaw recipe, slapped on some Guacamole and wrapped it all in a tortilla. I had a feeling that the spicy pork would go really well with the cool guacamole and not to toot my own horn but I was pretty spot on. What’s the best bit? Apart from the sugar in the pork marinade it’s all pretty darn good for you (just take it easy with the mayo). I cook a lot of Korean food at home because our favourite restaurant (Madtongsan 2) is nestled right in the middle of the CBD and although the food there is cheap the parking is not, meaning we have to decide if we want Korean enough to pay an extra $15.

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The Korean pickled radishes are tangy and spicy, you can find them at most Asian supermarkets but if you can’t get them try using pickled jalapenos. If you don’t like pork then just whip it up with chicken instead, just allow more cooking time.

Korean Burritos

Recipe by Ainsley Badman.

one lot of cooked Marinated Pork and Coleslaw from my Korean Burgers with Slaw post

one lot of Guacamole

flour or corn tortillas

Korean pickled radishes

Japanese mayonnaise

Warm up the tortillas then pile on the cooked pork, coleslaw, guacamole, pickled radishes and mayonnaise.