Biscuits

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut into small pieces and place into the freezer on a small plate to chill

6 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. shortening.

Mix together and set aside to curdle

1 cup milk

1 tbsp. white vinegar (or lemon juice).  

Whisk (or sift) together

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. kosher salt.

Cut the chilled fats into the flour mixture, then stir in curdled milk until a loose shaggy dough forms.  Turn out onto a floured surface and need a few times (the business letter fold is useful here).  Pat out in 1.5″ disc, then cut with a biscuit cutter.

Baked 15-20 minutes.  When biscuits are done, paint with 2 tbsp. melted butter, and return to the oven under the broiler until tops are golden.

Biscuits

Vietnamese meatballs

Combine

  • 1 pound/16 oz ground pork
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 inch ginger root, minced
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. caramel sauce/nuoc mau OR brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt.

Form into meatballs, patties, or cylinders, then bake in a 400 degree F oven or fry in a skillet until seared outside and cooked through. 

These are great stuffed into a banh mi!

Vietnamese meatballs

Pork and tomato ragù

In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, break apart with a large spoon 

1 pound (16 oz.) ground pork.

Let the mince saute for four or five minutes, then add

1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

1 small onion, small dice

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced 

6 to 8 oz. mushrooms, medium dice

1/2 tsp. salt.

Stir to combine, then saute until the onions and mushrooms have sweated and begun to turn golden.

Pour in 

1/3 cup Madeira wine

and scrape up the browned bits stuck to the pan. When the wine has reduced by half, add

1 large can (28. oz) tomato puree or crushed tomatoes

2 tsp. to 1 tbsp. dried oregano (depending on its potency)

1 tsp. salt.

Stir to combine, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes. When the sauce is the proper consistency to coat pasta, turn off the heat and stir in

(1 tbsp. olive oil or butter)

2 to 4 tsp. chopped fresh herbs (thyme, basil, tarragon, or parsley).

Taste and do a final seasoning, then serve atop your favorite pasta (maybe farfalle or campanelle) with a liberal dusting of grated parmesan.

Pork and tomato ragù

Sweet potato and andouille soup

This is not my creation; what follows is simply a homemade interpretation of an offering at Eat, a favorite restaurant in New Orleans. Humble sweet potato is the star here, with spicy andouille (a smoked pork sausage) and a creole-style mirepoix contrasting with the lush sweetness of the potato.

Serve as a palate-awakening first course for a cool weather dinner party or consume generous bowlfuls with gusto from the comfort of your couch. White dishes particularly show off its deep eggyolk yellow hue. A sprinkling of torn or chopped cilantro leaves contributes a pleasant fresh flavor, as would flat-leaf parsley, and even mundane sliced green onion would add some welcome color. Crunchy accoutrements are encouraged.


To a heavy bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add

8 oz. andouille sausage, casings removed and diced.

Let the sausage brown and render. When it’s cooked, remove to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pot. Add to the cooking vessel and saute until tender

1 yellow onion, diced

1 large red (or 1 small green and 1 small red) bell pepper, diced

(1 stalk celery, diced)

1 tsp. salt

(a few teaspoons of vegetable oil or bacon grease, if the sausage doesn’t give off much fat).

    When the vegetables are tender and translucent, stir in

    1 tsp. ground black pepper
    2 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
    2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
    (1/2 to 1 tsp. ground or crumbled dry red chile)
    1 tbsp. granulated garlic

      Stir-fry to infuse the herbs and spices into the cooking oil. After a minute or two when everything smells lovely, to the pot add 

      5 to 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed.

      Stir to combine, then pour in just enough water to cover the solids and bring to a boil. Once the pot is boiling, stir in the reserved sausage and reduce the heat so the liquid maintains only a simmer. As the potatoes break down, the soup thickens and boils more readily; be sure to monitor the flame.

      After fifteen or twenty minutes, when the potatoes are tender, use an immersion blender (or other favorite tool) to make a slightly lumpy puree. 

      Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed with more salt, ground chile, or garlic powder, and continue to simmer until the potatoes have nearly disintegrated and the soup has a creamy texture.

      If at this point you want to temper any spiciness in the soup, turn the heat to low and stir in 

      1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream, half and half, or plain yogurt

      transforming this simple “soup” into a “bisque.”

        Sweet potato and andouille soup