Monday, December 30, 2013

Pork Belly Porchetta

Porchetta is traditionally a pork loin rubbed with aromatics and citrus, then wrapped in a pork belly and slow roasted. At our house for the holidays, we dispense with the boring pork loin part, and use just the sexy part - pork belly itself, which is really just a giant slab of uncured bacon. As far as the spices and aromatics, tradition says use rosemary, red pepper flakes and lemon zest, but I always use a different combination each time to keep it fresh. In this case, I used a medley of wintry herbs and then spiced it up with sichimi togarishi, a zippy medley of seven different Japanese herbs including chilies, ginger, black and white sesame seeds, seaweed, Sancho (a mouth-numbing berry like Szechuan peppercorns), and orange peel. I let the orange in the sichimi stand in for the traditional lemon zest. Salting the belly liberally on both sides, rubbing the outside with baking powder, and then letting it sit overnight is crucial to develop the juxtaposition of crispy skin and moist meat that we are going for.

Pork Belly Porchetta
by Steve
adapted from Serious Eats Food Lab

serves 6

1 whole boneless, rind-on pork belly, about 7 pounds
2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
3 Tablespoons whole fennel seed
1 Tablespoon sichimi togarishi
1 Tablespoon each finely chopped rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley leaves
15 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Lay pork belly skin-side down on a large cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, deeply score the meat at an angle, using cuts about 1-inch apart. Rotate belly 90 degrees and repeat to make a diamond pattern.

1. Toast peppercorns and fennel seed in a small skillet over medium-high heat, until lightly browned and aromatic. Transfer to a spice grinder and process until coarsely crushed.

2. Sprinkle belly liberally with salt, then with crushed pepper and fennel, sichimi, chopped herbs, and microplaned garlic. Rub the mixture deeply into the cuts in the meat.

3. Roll belly into a tight log lengthwise and push to top of cutting board, seam-side down. Cut several lengths of kitchen twine long enough to tie around the pork at 1-inch intervals. Lay rolled pork seam-side down on top of strings. Tie up roast tightly. Mix kosher salt and baking powder. Rub mixture over entire surface of belly.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Place pork in a v-rack set in a large roasting pan. Roast until internal temperature of pork reaches 160°F, about four hours, basting with pan drippings every half hour after the second hour.

5. Increase oven temperature to 500°F and continue roasting until completely crisp and blistered, about 20 to 30 minutes longer.

6. Tent with foil and rest for 15 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife into 1-inch thick disks and serve.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tart

This dish is beautiful and would make a lovely addition to your special New Year's Eve dinner. - 37 Cooks

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tart
by Woo

serves 2 generously or 4 lightly

1 sheet of puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm, thawed and unfolded)
1 medium zucchini with a nice uniform shape 
1 medium yellow squash with a uniform shape
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 sprig of fresh thyme
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
olive oil for sauté
salt and pepper to taste (seriously season everything as you go)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crescent Cookies

Every Christmas Eve, crescent cookies were part of my aunt's massive dessert extravaganza. I loved those cookies. They never appeared any other time of the year, or any other place.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Apple Pancake

One of my favorite holiday traditions is Christmas morning breakfast. Nowadays my family is scattered about and we get together for Christmas Eve, but I still like to get up early and make something from my childhood. This year it's an apple pancake covered with sweet whipped cream and Vermont maple syrup.

From my family to yours, We wish you Health, Love and Happiness. Happy Holidays...Christine

Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa’s Milk Shots & Cookies

I love Christmas Eve! It combines two of my most favorite things, my faith and my family. While we do have our traditions, we wake up with a flexible attitude and excited to see what the day brings.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Coconut Craisin Pecan Scones

We love our friends and neighbors and feel lucky to be surrounded by such great people. So here it is, our way of showing appreciation and thankfulness for the community we live in. It's very simple and a lot of fun!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chiffonade's Roasted Carrot Soufflé

I came up with this recipe because I had come to love the carrot soufflé sold by Fresh Market and other high-end stores. That stuff costs $5.00 for a small 4 x 4" block! There are recipes all over the net for carrot soufflé, but they all required boiling the carrots and a ton of sugar. My recipe decreases the sugar and roasts the carrots for maximum flavor.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Crock Pot Bourguignon

This is a great meal to make during the holidays for days when you're shopping and wrapping presents! - 37 Cooks

Crock Pot Bourguignon
by Willie
adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
(Sorry Julia, it wasn't even a French crockpot.)

4 ounces diced bacon

1 ounce olive oil
2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1/2 diced medium onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
4 Tablespoons Kary's Dry Roux
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups beef stock
1 medium onion, cut in half and quartered
1 cup Merlot or Cabernet red wine
1 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Pretzel Bites

When I think of the holidays, my mom always comes right to mind. She loved when the holidays rolled around. She loved to decorate the whole house and cook all the delicious big holiday meals. She was also the number one baker, making dozens and dozens of different types of Christmas cookies each year. I don’t bake, but there is one treat she used to make which I can pull off!

Holiday Pretzel Bites
by Sarah M

Mini pretzels
Rolos candy

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sand Tarts

As a child, when Christmas rolled around, we always knew we would be making these wonderful cookies. To this day they still remain my favorite! Not sure how it came to be that we called them Sand Tarts, but that's all I've ever known them to be (others call them Mexican Wedding Cookies).  On Christmas Eve, we would set them out on a plate for Santa along with a glass of milk. He (Santa) would always leave a note saying that he was so full, he just couldn't eat the last one and he'd place it inside the empty glass of milk. I guess maybe that's why one of my photos shows the spilled over glass with SEVERAL cookies in it. My mother still makes these cookies every year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Stars

Holiday Stars
by Tracy
adapted from this recipe

makes 18

2 sheets frozen puff pastry - thawed
1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
1/3 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon fresh dill
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 ounce red caviar, orange salmon roe, or black lumpfish caviar
2 Tablespoons chives, minced 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Happy Holiday Canapes

Nothing says “retro fun” like canapés - cute, open-faced mini sandwiches made of a variety of simple, tasty ingredients. What better way to celebrate the old-school hospitality of the past than with these fun, tasty morsels, all done with a whimsical holiday twist!

In the past few years, our holiday parties have drawn inspiration from a variety of sources. Since it seemed like everyone else had done “retro” by this point, I thought it would be safe for *me* to do it without any conflict!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Red Velvet Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

Red Velvet Cake. I hadn't even heard of it 12 years ago. I have been a Texas transplant since 1972, originally from Washington state. Red Velvet is a Southern cake. When I reconnected with Mark - we dated a few times in high school - he mentioned that this was his favorite cake so, of course the search was on. Although I have tried many recipes this is my favorite, and his. This is a great cake for the holidays because it is red and festive. Take it up a notch and adorn with holiday decorations for a special event.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Persimmon Cookies

Oh, persimmon cookies...I love this recipe! They are a Christmas treat that I look forward to making every year. The scent when they're baking and the taste when I bite into one gets me to thinking about all of fond memories I have of my grandparents. And when I pull out my recipe card, there's my dad's handwriting. I guess you can say that the handwritten card is every bit as important to me as the recipe itself. By the way, the picture is of my grandma and me in 1973 (that crazy patchwork skirt I'm wearing was made by my aunt!).

Friday, December 6, 2013

Honig Leckerli (Honey Treats)

My mom always made these for my sister and me at Christmastime, and we would always fight over the last one. This is the first time since she passed away seven years ago that I have made them. Thanks, Mom, for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Honig Leckerli (Honey Treats)
by Nancy

makes 36-40 cookies

100 grams sugar
2 Tablespoons water
100 grams honey
2 level teaspoons cinnamon
1 level teaspoon anise
1/2 level teaspoon cloves
3 drops almond extract
1 egg
100 grams rock candy (broken into small pieces)
250 grams flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
100 grams ground almonds
Icing (recipe below)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mix & Match Muffins

Every day there are online conversations going on in a private chat group called 37 Cooks Kitchen. Only current members of the group take part and it's great because the 37 of us live all over the country and in Canada.

I realized I take all of these conversations for granted. I do. We all do. There’s a wealth of knowledge and creativity in the group, all at our fingertips just for the asking! Here’s the point:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


We all love to eat our favorite foods during the holidays, don't we? At our house, early in December, we take requests every year from each family member and make a list. One of my all-time favorite foods is sweet fried plantains! This dish is on my list to make for my family during the holidays. Yum! - Sandra from 37 Cooks

by Carlos

2 Tablespoons Goya Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup of Goya Frozen Sofrito (I usually make my own, but we’ll get to that another time)
1/4 cup of Goya Pitted Alcaparrado, finely chopped
1 pound of ground beef, pork or chicken (my personal preference is pork)
1 Tablespoon Goya Tomato Paste
1 packet of Goya Sazon with Culantro and Achiote
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

We love getting recipes from the public. We file those recipes in our index under "Friends of 37 Cooks". This recipe submitted by Susan Cramer is beautiful, isn't it? It would make a great meal during the holiday season or with leftover Thanksgiving turkey! - 37 Cooks

Chicken Pot Pie
by Susan Cramer
adapted from the Betty Crocker cookbook

makes 6 servings

1/3 cup margarine, butter or chicken fat
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cup chicken or turkey broth
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken or turkey
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas and carrots
Celery Seed Pastry (below)

Monday, December 2, 2013