December 2007 Archives

Carnitas

california, mexico
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Carnitas was the last dish I cooked here in San Francisco.  It's Mexican, porky and delicious, and was therefore a very fitting final dinner in our apartment.  It's a Mexican classic and one I'd had many times at local taquerias.  You can find all sorts of recipes for carnitas, involving different meats, flavourings and cooking methods.  This pork 'n' lard version is the real deal.  My method follows that of the chef at Mexico DF restaurant, who shared it after we'd devoured several pounds of the stuff.  It is meltingly tender on the inside, crispy on the outside and wonderfully porky.  You will be in pig heaven.

carnitas.jpgSince the carnitas-fest we have been desperately trying to get round all the Bay Area restaurants we wanted to try, while packing up all our stuff. I now sit in a beautifully clean and empty flat, with a whole hour to go until we leave for the airport.  Never before have we been so timely and organised before catching a plane.

This one's for Tamar, Raquel, Megan, Carri and Will, who actually gave us money for our furniture.  Tamar liked it so much she decided it would be easier just to move in when we leave.

Christmas special part 4 - Nathan's eggnog

california, usa
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I admit to having said some not very nice things about eggnog in the past.  But that was before I tried Nathan's eggnog.  Heavy on the bourbon, light on the sugar and spice, and silky smooth on the tongue, this one is a creamy and delicious dessert in a glass.  Also, Nathan cooks (and bakes) at Chez Panisse, so we can trust him.  Having said that, eggnog would more traditionally be made with rum, brandy or whisky, but Nathan's from Kentucky.

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Christmas special part 3 - Christmas pudding

uk
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It's traditional to make this pudding on Stir-up Sunday, the fifth Sunday before Christmas, so that it has time to mature before the big day.  However, if you can hold yourself back, eat it the following Christmas, as a year or so of ageing makes the pudding so much richer, darker, gooey and complex.  It's definitely worth the wait.  This recipe is very loosely based on one by good old Delia Smith, of course, but is boozier and better (I think).

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Christmas special part 2 - Twice sherried Christmas cake

california, uk
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Perhaps this should be 'California Christmas cake', due to the inclusion of apricots, dates and macadamias.  You don't have to use them - you can substitute pretty much any dried fruit and nuts you like.  These ones worked for me, but maybe because I ate it in a log cabin near Lake Tahoe after inching my way down the freezing ski slopes.  The use of two whole bottles of sherry, however, seems very British, and should work anywhere.

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Christmas special part 1 - Carlo's candied citrus peel

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Well, a lot has happened in 3 weeks.  We enjoyed a traditional American Thanksgiving chez Alex and Nicole, which, despite Alex nearly knocking Nicole out with a plate of oysters, the dog yaffling a whole triple-creme cheese off the board during the commotion, and later getting to the turkey before we did, was a most enjoyable feast.  I finished my internship at Chez Panisse, which was a little traumatic - involving much sobbing followed by several medicinal Manhattans.  I learnt so much there, loved cooking in a professional kitchen every day, met some wonderful people and properly fell in love with the place. And, somewhere in between these incidents, I candied a new batch of citrus peels, sourced some suet and had several restaurant mates around for a mammoth Christmas cake and pudding making session, at which a round of eggnog was the only American concession.

candied peel.JPGI realise Stir-up Sunday has passed, but it's not too late to make Christmas cake and pudding (should you be so inclined, and probably British).  Although, I recommend keeping the pudding til Xmas '08, as the one-year-old pud we ate at the pudding party was even more delicious than its sibling which we ate in April.

So, here is your first Christmassy recipe - candied citrus peel.  The cake, pudding and eggnog will follow shortly.

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