Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lolita Squeeze

One of my bridesmaids got us the cookbook Tacolicious as part of our wedding gift, and this week I tried one of the cocktails.  It was both pink and delicious, which makes it a winner in my book!  It reminded me a lot of the cocktails at Comal, my favorite Mexican restaurant in Berkeley, California.  I love the combination of sweet watermelon with herbal cilantro in this cocktail - they balance each other really well.  Yum!  

Note: If you want a boozier cocktail, the original recipe had half the amount (2 ounces) of watermelon juice -- I doubled it because I tend to like a fruitier drink, and it was perfect for my taste!

Lolita Squeeze (adapted from Tacolicious)
Serves 1

A couple of sprigs of fresh cilantro
Pinch of salt
4 ounces watermelon juice (puree watermelon chunks and strain through a fine-mesh strainer)
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup

Muddle the cilantro and pinch of salt in a cocktail shaker.  Add the watermelon juice, tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup to the shaker, fill with ice, and shake until very cold.  Strain over ice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kalua Pork Brown Rice Bowl

This recipe goes firmly in my often-used category of "Cooking Light recipes that I have made completely unhealthy" -- in this case, by replacing pork tenderloin with country-style ribs and by eating multiple servings because it was so good.  Although this bowl has quite a few components, it's actually pretty easy to put together with the help of an Instant Pot.  You can definitely make this recipe without one -- the kalua pork can be made in a slow cooker or in the oven, instructions here -- and of course you can make the rice on the stovetop.  But, the Instant Pot does make things a lot quicker and dirties less pots.

In terms of flavors, you've got super rich pork that's crisped up to perfection in the oven, sweet-and-tart roasted pineapple, tender roasted veggies -- I did zucchini and red onion, but you could easily switch those out for whatever you like -- and nutty brown rice.  A honey-soy sauce pulls everything together -- adjust the chili flakes to make things as spicy or not-spicy as you prefer.  So yummy!

For the Kalua Pork (adapted from Nom Nom Paleo, original recipe here with variations for slow cooker or oven if you don't have a pressure cooker):

2 slices bacon
2 pounds bone-in country-style pork ribs (about 4 large ribs)
3 peeled garlic cloves
1/2 T kosher salt
1 cup water

1. Place the two pieces of bacon in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Press the saute button, and cook until the bacon is crispy, flipping it as needed to get both sides cooked.

2. Cut a couple of slits in each rib.  Cut each garlic clove in half and stuff into the slits in the pork. Rub on the salt.

3. Place the pork on top of the bacon, in a single layer. Pour over the water.

4. Cover and lock the lid.  Hit the "meat/stew" button.  When the timer has finished, allow the pressure to release naturally (about 15 minutes).  Check that the pork is fork-tender, and if not, cook for another 5-10 minutes on manual.  Transfer the pork to a bowl, and carefully remove all bones.  Use two forks to shred any remaining pieces.  Taste, and add a little of the cooking liquid if the pork needs salt.

For the bowls (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 2 or 3, but easily multiplied

1 cup brown rice
Olive oil
Several thick slices of fresh pineapple (from about 1/4 of a fresh pineapple)
1/2 red onion, cut into medium slices
1 small zucchini, cut into thick coins
Kalua pork, from above
2 T lower sodium soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
2 tsp honey
2 tsp vegetable oil
Generous pinch Aleppo chili flakes

1. Rinse the rice, and add to the Instant Pot with 1-1/4 cup water, a pinch of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.  There is no need to rinse out the pot between making the rice and the pork.  Cook on high pressure for 22 minutes, and then allow the pressure to release naturally (about 15 minutes).  Note: You can also strain the cooking liquid from the pork and use it to replace some or all of the water.  In this case, omit the olive oil and salt.

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Toss the pineapple, onion, and zucchini in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet, along with the kalua pork at one end.  Roast 20-25 minutes, flipping everything halfway through.

3. While the rice and vegetables are cooking, prepare the sauce.  Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, oil, and chili flakes.  Set aside.

4. Build your bowl!  Start with brown rice on the bottom, then pile on the roasted pineapple, onion, and zucchini.  Top with kalua pork, and then drizzle with the sauce.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Pineapple Margarita

Another delicious tequila drink in keeping with our recent obsession with Mexican food.  Here, a margarita is sweetened up with fresh pineapple -- it's a little less tart than a classic margarita because orange juice replaces the traditional lime juice, but it's equally delicious! And it will definitely make you feel a little tropical without being as sweet as some pineapple drinks (like pina coladas).  We definitely need that with all the cold weather we've had lately -- come on spring, it's time to arrive!

Pineapple Margarita (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 2

2 cups fresh pineapple
1/4 cup orange juice
2-1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce orange liqueur 
1 T simple syrup

Purée the pineapple in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to yield about 3/4 cup.  Add to a cocktail shaker, and strain the orange juice into the shaker as well. Add the remaining ingredients and shake until cold. Strain into glasses.