Tag Archives: Pork

A Girl and Her Pig | April Bloomfield


Swine never looked (and tasted) so good!

A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories

TITLE: A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories
AUTHOR: April Bloomfield

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Pork Belly
Pork belly
is a boneless cut of fatty meat derived from the belly of a pig. Pork belly is popularDarren's Belly Pork by John Leach in Asian cuisine, and forms a part of many traditional European dishes such as the Alsatian Choucroute garnie, the Swiss Berner Platte, and the German Schlachtplatte. In the United States, bacon is most often made from pork bellies. A 100-gram serving of pork belly typically has about 520 calories. The calorie breakdown is: 92% fat (53 g), 0% (0 g) carbohydrates, and 8% (9 g) protein [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
The book has a very comfortable and personal feel to it. Making it more like the telling of a passionate food life than a recitation of recipes. It’s obvious from the start that food is a passion for April and not just a vocation. The book is loaded with interesting recipes for pretty much any occasion. The dishes themselves are fully formed and well thought out. In some cases they’re not easy to execute. But, at least the steps are there should you want to make an attempt. Whoever made the stock selection should get a pat on the back. The paper has a silky, easy to handle quality that gives it a “soft” quality. Fantastic illustrations are sprinkled throughout as are images by photographer David Loftus.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
big bowls of soup
well-dressed greens and things
meat without feet
a little lamb
fine swine
the not-so-nasty bits
potato and friends
dressings, sauces and condiments
a couple of stocks

• • • • •

A hog butchering video would be ideal here. But, I don’t want to scare the kids. Everybody loves Claymation, right? Let’s get those toes out and start counting!

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Pancakes with Bacon and Chili Lamb Chops with Chimichurri
Chopped Chicken Liver on Toast Liver and Onions
Smoked Haddock Chowder Crispy Fried Vegetables
Duck-Fat Potatoes Ginger Cake
Green Goddess Frozen Moscow Mule

As usual I’ve got some of my favorites for you. There are a few interesting two page stories that relate directly to a recipe or chapter. Nice touch. Grilled Sea Bass (p. 114) and Tongue Sandwiches (p. 140) are examples. I have a Sarasota Florida connection. So, the Marcella Hazan story was a home run for me. April’s re-creation of Marcella’s Roasted Veal Shanks with White Wine and Shallots (p. 150) was too much to resist. You’ve got to give it a spin. The Cassoulet (p. 178) would make an amazing cold weather dinner. You can almost feel it warming you from the inside out. Wait until mid-January then break that one out.

• • • • •

Special Features
The introduction contains a little of April’s history. Also a very A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Storiesdescriptive ingredient listing is included. Towards the back there is a page dedicated to online resources for various ingredients used throughout the book. I love the inclusion of these outlets. There is nothing worse than reading through a mouthwatering recipe, deciding to make it for yourself or your family and then come crashing back to earth with the realization that your local Kroger doesn’t carry Fennel Pollen or Fenugreek Seeds, bummer. In my mind, it’s almost mandatory that if your dish is going to include what most people would call exotic ingredients that you are obligated to provide an outlet. Thanks!

• • • • •

For a cookbook that at first blush seems to be “swine-centric”, it is very broad in scope. There is much more to it than pork, pork and more pork. Don’t get me wrong you will get your fill of the other white meat. But, the main ingredient is used in ways that could make you forget the dramatic cover image (which I LOVE by the way). A Girl and Her Pig hits on all cylinders and is one of the best cookbooks to grace the market this year. It’s a standout in a crowded field.

Culinary Expertise Required: 7
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories

Links, Resources and Press
April’s Restaurant: The Spotted Pig
April Bloomfield’s Last Meal: The Village Voice
Harper Collins Book Information
NPR Feature Story on April

A Sunday Roast is a Thing of Beauty

Trying to resist the scent is senseless.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

We have five senses. Some people say six. But, for the sake of this post, let’s just agree on five. When it comes to food they’re all pretty important. Obviously, taste is a BIG number one. After that smell, sight, sound and touch fall into line. I’ll let you argue the order of the remaining four.

Let’s try an experiment.

Close your eyes. Smell that smell. Something is roasting away in your oven. The particular scent can change from moment to moment. But, the familiar, comforting aroma still wafts through the house. As they say, “It smells so good you can almost taste it”.

You can vote for whatever sense you want. I’m logging smell in at an easy number two.

The smell of a Sunday roast is like no other smell. If you’ve been outside all day, you walk in the door and the rich aroma greats you like an old friend. It says, “come on in”. The scent breeds anticipation. It makes you sit up and take notice. Something delicious is about to happen.

We’ve all had the obvious Sunday roasts. Standing rib, pot roast and a perfectly roasted turkey all qualify. But, what if you want to mix it up a little. What are the options? Lucky for us there’s a more than able guide.

Betty Rosbottom’s aptly titled, Sunday Roasts, A Years’ worth of Mouthwatering Roasts will give you enough ideas for, yes, a year. After looking and cooking, you may want to set some time aside for drooling on these recipes. There are so many tempting dishes in this book, choosing one to make is a first class challenge.

I was looking for something a little different than the standard leg of lamb for my Sunday effort. After stopping at nearly every page to say, “WOW that looks great”, I settled on the Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears. I think I made an excellent choice. You can decide for yourself.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

Here’s how to do it.

2 ½lb. center cut boneless pork loin
2 Tbsp. rosemary, dried and crushed
2 Tbsp. thyme leaves, dried and crushed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1½ cups fresh bread crumbs (I used Panko instead)
1 cup blue cheese (I used Maytag)
3 Tbsp. + 1 cup chicken broth, reduced sodium
4 or 5 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Bartlett or Bosc pears, slightly under ripe
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Fresh rosemary and thyme springs for garnish

Take a long narrow knife and insert it through the center of the roast lengthwise. Push the knife all the way through the roast. Turn it to cut out a 1 inch pocket in the center all the way through.

Mix together the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Place about half of this mixture into a bowl with the bread crumbs and the cheese. Reserve the rest of the seasonings. Combine gently using your fingers. Stir in just enough chicken broth to moisten the bread crumb mixture.

Blue Cheese Stuffing

Using your thumb, push the stuffing into the pocket. Fill to within ½ inch of each end. Keep pushing that stuffing in. It will take a lot. When finished, pat the roast dry and rub the whole roast with the remaining spice mixture.

Rubbed Pork Roast

Preheat your oven to 400⁰. Arrange rack to center position.

In a medium size bowl whisk together 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Add pears and toss to coat. In a large flameproof roasting pan add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and heat over 1 or 2 stovetop burners on medium high heat. Brown rubbed pork on all sides. About 6 to 8 minutes. Place pan in oven and roast for 10 minutes. Scatter pears around roast, skin side up around meat. Roast another 10 minutes. Turn meat and pears. Continue roasting until an internal temperature of 150⁰F is reached. About 20 to 25 minutes. Remove meat and pears from pan. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove any loose stuffing from pan. Skim off any fat that has accumulated.

Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Add remaining 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 tbsp of vinegar. Reduce by one third while scraping bits from bottom. Swirl butter into the sauce. Salt if needed.

To serve, slice ¾ inch thick. Drizzle the meat (and pears) with some of the sauce. Serve!

Serves 6

Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears
Recipe adapted from Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears. Betty Rosbottom, Sunday Roasts, Chronicle Books © 2011.

TIPS: OK, I know all of that looks complicated. Let me tell you it’s not. It actually pretty easy especially when you see how elegant the finished product is. Any fine dining establishment would be happy to have this on their dinner menu.

The bottom line: Betty’s book is loaded (and I mean it) with delicious comforting roasts. From beef to chicken and lamb to seafood there is something for everyone’s taste and diets. There are some easy to make sides too. Be sure to check out the Best-Ever Mashed Potatoes. I could have that as my main course. Sunday Roasts is intended for those lazy Sundays that are the prelude to another busy workweek. But, any of these dishes would be a welcome mid-week indulgence.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of LambAuthor: Betty Rosbottom
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN-10: 0811879682



The Cookbookman Recommends

If you like Sunday Roasts here are a few other cookbooks for your consideration.

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art Williams-Sonoma: Roasting All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking Roasting: Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Sauces, and More

Do Little Old Ladies Really Make The Best Food?


Sometime it’s hard to distinguish between the comfort and the food.

BUY IT! - Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom

Comfort food is, well, comforting. No big surprise there. But, is it really the food itself or the memories that come rushing back when we eat it? And, does it really matter?

I know when I take that first forkful of pot roast or meatloaf it makes me feel different than when I bite into a chicken Caesar wrap. When I’m eating it I can picture my Mom slathering that seven bone chuck roast with cream of mushroom soup. Or, mixing all of the mystery meatloaf ingredients together with her hands. If my sisters or I were in the right place at the right time, we would be able to steal a taste of some fresh raw ground beef before it was mixed and loafed.

It’s those memories that we have when we eat that type of food that enhances everything. Smells, sights and sometimes sounds all come together to form the comfort food experience. At times those things even outweigh the taste of the food itself.

Last week a little cookbook filled with big comfort food hit my desk. Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom. The book which measures only 5X7 is packed with comfort food recipes that will take you back in time. It’s easy to see after turning the first page that the tagline “Made with love and lots of lard” fits. Especially the love part.

Author Meg Favreau, highlights some easy to make standards. But, the real beauty to this little gem of a book is the accompanying photos. There are enough Grandmas and favorite Aunts in this book for anyone to be reminded of who really made these recipes shine. Dishing out sage kitchen advice with classic recipes is a hard combo to beat.

All this comfort food talk has made me hungry for a little taste. Why don’t we give one a whirl?

Pork Chops

Here’s how to do it.

Pork Chops

4 to 6 pork chops
Salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper chops to taste. If chops are lean, add a little oil to the pan. Brown chops about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Reduce heat and cook until chops are tender.

Serve with applesauce (of course) or mint jelly. My family likes hash browns too!

Serves 4 to 6

Pork Chops

Recipe adapted from, Pork Chops; Little Old Lady Recipes, Meg Favreau, Quirk Books 2011. Images: Larry Hoffman, cookbookman ©2011

That’s it! Honestly. That could not be any simpler. I think in all the reviews that I’ve done here on cookbookman.com, a two ingredient recipe takes the prize.

Tips: When I cooked my chops I used a good old fashioned Sunbeam Electric Skillet. It’s circa 1970 and I believe the original color was “Almond”. I figured it’s not doing me any good stuck in the back of the cabinet. It’s a perfect recipe to break it out.

Sunbeam Almond Electric Skillet

The Bottom Line: Winter is here. That means time to cook more meals indoors. Kids are in school and life is a little more hectic than during the summer. So, we all could use a little uncomplicated comfort food to complete our day. Meg’s new cookbook is a great place to start making new food memories for your family or bring back a few old ones for you.

BUY IT! - Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom


Author: Meg Favreau
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (November 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1594745188