The Kids Cook Monday – May 23, 2011 – “Pork Tenderloin”

When we feed our daughter, protein is one of the biggest challenges to have her eat. Alessandra doesn’t like eating chicken very much but we found one of the foods she does like, pork tenderloin. After watching an episode of Alton Brown‘s Good Eats, he demonstrated the benefits and the better tasting pork tenderloin. He was right, and we love to eat pork tenderloin over chicken, including Alessandra. Pork tenderloin is easy to find, but preferably, you can find the cut of pork in the meat section instead of packaged in a vacuum sealed bag with water.  This cut is equally high in lean protein but has a better texture.

To prepare the tenderloin have your child salt and pepper the pork according to your tastes and prepare a frying pan on medium high heat with a little oil. Sear each side of the pork tenderloin to brown, and then keep turning the tenderloin to get an internal temperature of 145 degrees. After a short rest, the tenderloin is ready to eat. You can also cook the tenderloin in the oven after you sear it on all sides. Again, when it hits 145 degrees let the pork rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Serve with some rice and vegetables for a well-rounded dinner.

A great side story is when Alessandra was able to see live mangalitsa pigs and was able to pet and feed them. We are fortunate to have access to fresh pork, and it was a privilege to have a farm to table meal.

The Kids Cook Monday – Monday May 16th, 2011 – “Guanciale”

My daughter hasn’t been in the mood to cook lately, but she was proud to make her own guanciale, a form of bacon using the cheek of the pig.  In the past year we have been buying more and more protein straight from the farm, and making our own bacon is one of the things we do with the meat. It’s unbelievably easy, but it does take about two to four weeks from start to finish. In the end you will get a piece of bacon that is completely organic and great tasting.  Below are pictures of the hanging stage and the result. This project is so kid friendly and you can find a great link and recipe here:

Alessandra had a fun time mixing the curing ingredients and rubbing it on the meat. She then quickly washed her hands very well and we placed them in the refrigerator for about 9 days. After that stage, we rinsed off the salt mixture, and patted them down with a paper towel and hung them in the wine refrigerator for two weeks. Ideal conditions are 60 degrees F, and about 70% humidity, but 60% or higher will still work. It was always cute and fun to watch her say “we’re making bacon!”, or turning on the curing refrigerator light on so she could see them hanging to dry. You can do longer, but for the first piece we tried it after 2 weeks. Some people hang the curing meat in the kitchen, but my wife frowned upon it. Since this refrigerator is next to our dining table, she was able to look at it every day and help me fan the bacon with fresh air using a handheld fan. Then the day came, and I cut thin slices using my chef’s knife. It was very good and since it was home cured it didn’t take long to cook. The basic premise of curing is to take moisture out of the meat, and the salt mixture will eliminate any bacteria from growing. It’s worked since the days of Egypt. We plan to use the guanciale for carbonara, and whenever we need bacon.

The Kids Cook Monday – May 9, 2011 – “Beef Spare Ribs” and “Mother’s Day Brunch”

Today, my daughter and I were super tired. A busy day in the kitchen for mother’s day and a long Monday , left us exhausted before we even started to cook. Luckily, it only took us 10 minutes to cook dinner and we were able to include all of the major food groups.

We cooked asian style short ribs with rice and vegetables. If you get the thinly cut ribs you can cook them very quickly in a frying pan. On Sunday I cooked this dish using a fry pan and on Monday I cooked the ribs sous-vide for 11 hours at 135 degrees and then finished them in a frying pan to get some color. Either way produces good results.

Short Ribs:

1-4 lbs of short ribs

1/8 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup rice vinegar

Place all the ingredients in a zip lock bag and close tightly. Shake up the ribs in the bag and let them marinate for a couple of minutes. (Great place for the little ones to help).

Once you pull the ribs out of the bag, keep the liquid to coat the ribs as they cook. Over medium-high heat cook the meat on a slightly oiled pan. Add some of the marinade to the ribs, and turn them over. Add another dose of marinade. Cook until done, and salt and pepper to your liking.

We used last nights rice, steamed some vegetables while cooking the meat, and it was ready to eat in about 10 minutes.

What did mom get for homemade brunch? Alessandra helped me shop for the groceries, taste test, and do some of the cooking for mother’s day.

First:  First dish was an egg mousse with smoke salmon.

Second: Poached Egg with Asparagus Tips, Crab, and Egg Yolk Drops

Not pictured: Home cured bacon and a lot of positive mother day wishes.