Air Cured Pork Loin

Have you ever had thin slices of lomo at a tapas joint or perhaps have a family tradition of Italian lonzino?

I’d never heard of lonzino until I tried to find a recipe online approximating the delicious cured pork loin served to us each day when we visited my father-in-law.  Even lomo wasn’t on my radar any longer, but an order from La Tienda filled the gap pretty well while I finally got around to trying to cure my own.  (La Tienda is a great resource if you crave things like fuet!)

This is not going to be a recipe or exact procedure (per usual here.)  I do detest measuring and weighing after all.  Besides, I have yet to come up with a way to make a mouth watering smokey loin with a strong hint of thyme such as the traditional Romanian kind my father-in-law makes.  So far I’ve achieved salty and savoury.  I need his secrets and perhaps a smoker.  Nonetheless it was an adventure, and maybe someone reading this will be inspired to try their own charcuterie?

I began the cure on the 18th of November, and I deemed the pork ready on the 18th of December as it turns out.  They were rather large hunks which took a long time.  I just began four, as thin as my wrist, yesterday as a second attempt which will go faster.  First I washed the pieces and trimmed them a bit to be a more regular size and composition (less fat.)  Roughly following a few online guides I salted them including pink curing salt in the mix (which contains nitrates/nitrites which are extremely important to prevent dangerous bacterias from colonising the meat.)  This is also supposed to be done by weight for safety reasons.  The dry brine included some herbs, liquid smoke, and semi-sweet paprika, but it turned out to not be enough for the flavour I was looking for.  The pieces were tightly wrapped and went into the fridge until the 4th.

salted-pork-loin

At that point I rinsed them (not well enough fearing they’d be bland… too salty in retrospect,) let them drain for a while, and tied them up to hang in the garage.  It didn’t look odd at all, I’m sure.

pork-loin-after-refridgerator-curing

curing-pork-loins

On the 18th I figured the smaller one was ready, and it was was indeed.  I wonder what the drain guys who came to fix our sewer line thought when they walked into the garage??  😀

romanian-cured-pork-loin

I made pa amb tomaquet to serve it with, and we didn’t die.  😉

pa-amb-tomaquet

 

Meanwhile, I have been very productive lately and preparing to post about a big cosmetic improvement to our house.  I finally re-tiled the fireplace hearth and the entryway!  That was… last week and the week before, but I still haven’t done the grout.  Once I set the entry tile on Thursday I’d been ready to write a nice post, but without a completely done after photo I’m stuck.  Today I nearly did the grout but somehow found myself painting the guest room panelling instead.  Tomorrow!  I’ve really been in a productive frenzy lately, which is good.  Partly it is due to the holidays and wanting things to look as nice as I envisioned when people will actually be here to see, and partly it is a due to a looming deadline on the horizon…  This is off topic for this blog, but we finished up the IVF cycle with a day five transfer last Thursday, and today I had a really obviously positive home pregnancy test.  It is pretty exciting although I should keep my enthusiasm tempered this early, but I can’t.  😀  (It is extremely early to test, but I’d already tested out the trigger and know it’s real.  Now we just need it to stick!)  

Roasted Pork Encrusted with Green & Long Black Peppercorn

The other day I found a ridiculously large cut of pork loin at an equally low price, so I bought it and left it in the fridge until I was ready to do something creative with it.  Creativity did not strike before it was the last thing around to make for supper, but as I was seasoning it something came to mind: long black peppercorns.

green and long black peppercorns

I’d bought some of these a long time ago at Whole Paycheque Foods, but it has been months or more since I remembered to make use of them.  (The last time was in a ham based stew, yum!)  They taste very different from black pepper in my opinion, and I think it can be distracting in some dishes, which is probably why I forgot to try using it again for so long.  Pork is one of my least favourite meats, however, so I didn’t mind the idea of a strong and possibly distracting flavour.  I hadn’t given myself enough time to marinate the loin as I normally do, so I’d planned on making a herb or spice crust.

First I lined my pan with foil and doused the pork with white wine before giving it a generous coating of garlic salt.  I sprinkled it with hot paprika, MSG, whole mustard, and coriander seeds before thinking of the long peppercorns.  It turned out that I didn’t have much in the way of herbs, and the pepper occurred to me, so I ground the long and green peppercorns in a mortar and pestle then rubbed them into the pork.  It went into the oven at 350F for… an hour or two?  I uncovered the meat towards the end to let the fat at the top get crispy.  For a side I made a salad with whatever I had, which was rocket, tomato, dill, red pepper, and scallions dressed with salt, lemon, and olive oil.

It was tasty!

 

Nasturtium Chimichurri

nasturtium, garlic mustard, parsely, spicy oregano the blend

My husband is a huge fan of skirt steak.  I like it very much as well, but he has pretty much decided that most of our evening meals should be skirt steak if it going to be any sort of steak at all.  I’m not complaining since it is easy to prepare and very tasty.  (The price is inconvenient compared to other rejected cuts, alas.)

Having skirt steak so often and preparing it simply with salt and pepper means that I’ve been trying some new things to dress it up.  Actual chimichurri is delicious and all, but I have been playing with a new food processor and trying different purees to spoon over the steak.

The food processor:

food processor

While I prefer not to clutter my countertops and tend to take the long route in all things this appliance has been a big help now that I’m in the city for work and am exhausted by suppertime.  The reviews were correct about the gasket being a particle trap, and the smaller bowl isn’t entirely as awesome as it sounded, but it still helps.  If I buy another few pieces maybe that would be best since our dishwasher is the world’s slowest (and I agree with some reviewers that this is a machine wash item.)  Anyway, I like the look and design a lot too besides having a choice to use less dishwasher space or the big bowl as needed.

One night I wanted to use the piquant little nasturtium leaves growing all over for something, and the food processor made it possible to do more than add them to a salad.  I used a handful of them, some parsley, a red pepper, garlic mustard from the yard, a little onion, and spicy oregano together. Of course I added olive oil, salt, and a bit of vinegar too.  Another night I put a garlic clove into the mix since the wild garlic mustard was about done.  Either way it is good.

skirt steak with nasturtium chimichurri skirt steak another night

Grilled Salmon with Dill & Shallots

One of the meals that I made for supper recently was salmon on the grill.  I’d not tried that before, but it turned out tasty.

grilled salmon

I began by sprinkling it with garlic salt, hot paprika, and black pepper.  Then I thinly sliced a shallot and a lemon and topped the salmon with them and dill.  I squeezed the rest of the lemon over it and drizzled it with olive oil before grilling.  Yum!

spiced and seasoned salmon slicing shallot salmon ready for grill

Chimichurri, Grilled Skirt Steak, and Grilled Aubergines with Tahini and Yoghurt

Well, I didn’t get to post for a few days, which I expected.  My grandparents and mum left on Sunday, and yesterday I had a bunch of chores to complete, so here I am today.  I’m going to write about food again, because I want to ask permission to use some photos before writing about all of the fence repairs we did over the weekend.  😉

The weather has been completely gorgeous, so I’ve been grilling a lot.  I made chimichurri sauce last week and used the remainder last night.  It is a simple but tasty condiment, and it isn’t too difficult to make even if using a mortar and pestle as I had to.  One of these days I must get a food processor.  Chimichurri is just a bunch of parsley crushed with garlic, spicy oregano, black pepper, some red pepper flakes, salt, olive oil, and vinegar.  I didn’t have as much of the oregano as I’d have liked since my plant was still really small.  It is the most wonderful stuff with a real bite to it!

chimichurrin ingredients making chimichurri done smooshing chimichurri chimichurri

I also grilled some aubergines and served them topped with tahini and yoghurt.  It is ridiculously easy to make but very delicious.  Just quarter the aubergines lengthwise, score them, scatter salt, pepper, and hot paprika over them, drizzle with olive oil, and grill.

aubergines grilled aubergines chimichurri and aubergines grilling skirt steak aubergines and skirt steak skirt steak with chimichurri and salad

I’ll post another time about the grilled salmon Sunday night since this is already pretty full of photos.

Guacamole Salsa & and Gardening

Mmmmm, guacamole!  My husband and I love it, so I make it fairly often (and in embarrassingly large quantities.)  Here is an example of what I use:

guacamole produce

I used to argue that guacamole should never have tomatoes in it or anything but hot peppers.  My SIL and I would tease each other constantly as we took turns making batches her way or my way.  Somewhere along the way I allowed a tomato into the mix or a sweet pepper, and… I went to the dark side.  I’m pretty sure it happened when the store didn’t have enough suitable avocados, and I used the unthinkable ingredients to stretch the batch.  Now I continue to add them since it does taste pretty good either way, and I am trying to reduce the calorie count of each guacamole binge.  😀

I’ll admit that my ingredient list varies.  It depends on what kind of peppers the store has, if I feel like brown onion, red, or white, or if I am in more of a salsa mood than avocado.  Sometimes I stick to the salsa portion and only add avocado for my husband.  Each time I play around with the order of things and try to see if there is an ideal time to include the spices or lime, but it seems to me that guacamole is pretty difficult to mess up, and each batch is delicious.

Roughly I use a ratio of peppers, tomatoes, lime, and avocado that stays about the same whether using four or six or more avocados.  If six avocados then two limes, one tomato, a couple of hot peppers (varies with type,) and either four little sweet peppers or one cubanelle.  It is always one onion and a fairly similar portion of a cilantro bunch, and plenty of salt, some cayenne and paprika, and both ground and crushed whole cumin.  I start by chopping the onion finely, then the sweet peppers, tomato, hot peppers, cilantro, and add the salt etc.  Sometimes the lime goes in then (especially if I want just salsa) but sometimes I squeeze the lime over it after the avocado is included.  I really don’t have a preference yet.

pretty peppers

spiced

salsa ready for avocadoes

I never seem to take photos of the finished batch!  I did look for a photo from another time, but I just updated Yosemite and found the new Photo application problematic.  So, no actual guacamole will be shown today.  😉  I trust you know what it should look like!  By the way, those pretty jalapeños were some that I grew on our windowsill in the flat.

Speaking of growing, I had some photos ready when I posted last week about having done more in the garden but didn’t use them.  Today it is sunny and warm, so I plan to do more yard work and gardening.  It is good enough reason to talk about what I did before…  I spaded and cultivated another quarter of the old garden bed:

garden 3:4

Then I planted three types of corn, onion seeds for use as scallions, chives, sunflowers, two types of watermelon, purple carrots, and black radishes.  Oh, and I planted a good number of garlic cloves from the store, because the earlier few were sprouting well, and I wanted to not waste two whole rows on wild garlic.  :Sigh:  There were little shoots of shallot, brown onion, and red onion too.  Here are some of the pretty “midnight snack” and Oaxacan green” corn seeds:

midnight snack black corn Oaxacan green corn

I finally moved the last of the berry canes into one patch:

berry patch

Now I just have to worry about the deer.  😦  Yesterday morning my husband finally saw them in the yard.  We had evidence that they visit, but we never actually spotted them until then.  They were munching on the day lilies in this stump garden:

stump garden

I fear for my plants!  The only thing they don’t care to eat is the stupid wild allium all over this town.  😀  I’m serious.  It is the only green thing untouched, and it is everywhere.  Last week I mowed the lawn with the reel mower, and I managed to cut down the allium pretty well although it took many passes.  The grass itself was barely tall enough to bother, but I needed to get a start on it.  I’m pleased with the reel mower, but it definitely took a lot out of me.  (I don’t think the gas powered one would be much better.)  I have been using the greens in my cooking by the way, but there is a ridiculous amount of it… far more than I can eat!  Almost none of this is grass:

wild garlic

I hope I don’t have to mow again too soon.

Burgers with Roasted Sweet Pepper, Portobello Slices, Bacon, and Slices of Tomato & Onion

Tuesday was my husband’s birthday, and I made him burgers on the grill for supper, because he loves burgers.  They turned out well, and he claimed his was the best burger he’d ever had.  😀  Meanwhile I’m not much of a burger lover, so I tried using toppings to make up for the beef on a bun thing.

I cut thin slices of a white onion and tomato slices leaving them raw, of course.  The sliced portobellos were grilled along with two big, sweet, long red peppers, a couple of thick cut bacon slices, a serrano pepper, and the burgers.  Now that I’ve had grilled bacon I resolve to never cook it inside again.  Not only was it tastier, but no mess or smell inside!  Woot.

burger toppings

Anyway, I assembled the burgers with bun, patty, mushrooms, [serrano on mine] peppers, bacon, then the onion, tomato, and top of the bun.  The patties were only sprinkled with pepper, salt, and MSG before grilling.  It was a quick and easy meal with not much to clean up, so I’ll surely make these again.

assembling burger

I apologise for not writing for so many days until now.  We were travelling a lot, and I haven’t felt so well either.  Driving, cooking, and cleaning are about all I’ve done before sleep, and I haven’t had anything to write about even if I’d had the energy.  Today I woke up finally feeling rested, so hopefully I’m back on track.  🙂

Today is to be the warmest and sunniest day yet of 2015.  We aren’t sure what we’ll do with it yet since friends are coming to visit, but you can bet we’ll be outside.  😉  I hope you readers are having some gorgeous weather to enjoy today too.