cuban sandwiches with roasted green beans

Do you remember my slow cooker Cuban pork recipe? Well I recently cooked a pork shoulder and after we ate delicious carnitas tacos, I used some of the leftover pork to make Cuban sandwiches.

dill vs bread and butter pickles

A Cuban sandwich is like a ham and cheese on steroids. And by steroids, I mean roasted (or slow cooked) pork and pickles! I’ve mentioned my love of acid and of pickles on the blog, but truth be told, I love sweet pickles best– bread and butter all the way!


If you don’t have a panini maker or sandwich press, you can also use a heavy bottomed skillet and some canned food to press down the sandwich. Even if you don’t flatten your Cuban sandwich, it will be just as delicious!

on the grill pan

cuban sandwiches
printer-friendly recipe
makes 4 sandwiches

4 hoagie rolls
2 tablespoons mustard
1/4 pound Cuban pork
1/4 pound deli ham, thinly sliced
1/4 pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
12 thin pickle slices

Slice the bread in half and lay open and spread each side with the mustard. Divide the ingredients evenly among hoagie rolls. Close up the sandwiches. Heat your panini maker or sandwich press. Place the sandwiches inside, press down and grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is flat and browned, approximately 10 minutes. Serve warm.

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an odd pickle

pickled shiitakes on

You may have noticed in last week’s homemade ramen post some dark circles lurking under the poached egg. There was a lot of stuff in that bowl, but those shiitakes were a recipe I’d made for the first time that day and I know I’ll be making them for a long time to come.

Dried shiitakes are amazing because you can rehydrate them in a short period of time and have delicious mushrooms as well as a tasty broth. This recipe utilizes that broth to make a sweet and tangy quick pickled shiitake that is a delicious snack or ramen topper. I cannot stop eating them and I’m sure you’ll love them, too.

pickled shiitakes
printer-friendly version
adapted from David Chang

2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3″ pieces fresh ginger, peeled

Place the mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover them with 3 cups boiling water. Let them sit for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice to ensure that they hydrate evenly. Strain the mushrooms and reserve 1 cup of the liquid. Combine the remaining ingredients into a small saucepan and add the mushrooms and reserved liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook for 30 minutes. Transfer the ingredients to a heat-safe container and let cool completely. Serve chilled. Mushrooms can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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an all day affair

Momofuku ramen on

Here at twothirtyate, Jane and I like to give you lots of quick and easy recipes that we often cook for weeknight meals. Be warned, this is not one of those meals. In fact, this is the polar opposite of one of those meals. Momofuku ramen is a dish so worth it though that, if you’re feeling up to the task, you should take a whole day to make this broth. On the bright side, it does make 10 servings so all your labor does go a long way.

shiitakes and kombu

Perhaps you’ve never been to David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar and, if that’s true, you should plan it into your next trip to NYC. There’s a reason that there’s a line to get in when they open for dinner at 5 pm and a long wait for a seat all night long after that. They serve up ramen that is so delicious that you wind up eating long after you’re full just to get one more spoonful of delicious, rich broth. They also serve delicious steamed pork buns, scallion noodles and a handful of other menu items that are all delicious. But it’s really all about the ramen.

pork bones

We’ve been to Noodle Bar a few times and I’ve been meaning to make this ramen broth for a long time. I’ve read about how it’s for culinary overachievers, that it takes all day, and that it’s worth every hour. All of this is true. This broth isn’t difficult to make. In all honesty, it’s mostly adding things to the pot and removing them at the right time, adding more water, and making sure it doesn’t simmer too hard. It’s more a test of patience than anything. If you have a day to sit at home, though, I suggest it highly.

mis en place Japanese style

What do you do once you have the broth made? Pour it over some ramen noodles. I used fresh ones that I found in Chinatown. I also topped it with squares of nori (seaweed), fish cake (the pink and white food that Alex and I have long wondered what it is), some seasoned bamboo shoots, pickled shiitakes, a seasonal green vegetable, a poached egg, and pork belly. At Momofuku they usually have shredded pork shoulder in there, too, but I used the shredded chicken from making the broth instead. I barely own a bowl big enough for all of those things, so my next bowl might be a little more sparse as to make room for more noodles.

momofuku ramen broth
printer-friendly version
recipe from David Chang’s Momofuku
makes 5 quarts

2 3X6 inch pieces of kombu (dried kelp)
6 quarts of water
2 cups dried shiitakes, rinsed well
4 pounds chicken legs
2 1/2 pounds pork bones
1 pound smoky bacon
1 bunch scallions
1 medium onion, cut in half
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
Taré (or equal parts kosher salt, soy sauce and mirin to taste)

Bring the kombu and water to a boil in a large stock pot. Turn off the heat and let the kombu soak for 10 minutes. Remove the kombu, discard it, and add the shiitakes to the pot. Bring to a boil again, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cook the shiitakes for 30 minutes. Remove the shiitakes. Add the chicken to the broth and cook for 1 hour. Skim any fat off of the surface of the broth and add more water to the pot as needed. You want the water to completely cover the chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, place the pork bones on a tray in the oven at 350 degrees. Cook for 1 hour, flipping over after 30 minutes. When the chicken has cooked long enough that the meat can easily be shredded, remove it from the pot. Add the pork bones and the bacon. Continue cooking at a slow simmer. You want just the occasional slow bubble to break the surface. After 45 minutes, remove the bacon. Continue to simmer the bones for 6-8 hours. Continue to skim the surface and add water when needed. In the last 45 minutes, add the vegetables.

When the broth has finished cooking, pour it through a fine strainer or  through cheese cloth. Add tare or the kosher salt, soy sauce, and mirin mixture (you’ll want about 2-3 tablespoons combined per quart). This is the main seasoning for the broth, so add it to your liking, making sure to taste occasionally to avoid over-salting. The amount will vary based on how much broth you end up with. The broth can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or you can cook it down until it reduces by half and freeze it in portions. When defrosted, add an equal part of water to the concentrated broth before serving.

Serve two cups of broth over fresh ramen noodles with an assortment of slices of fish cake, an egg, seasonal greens, mushrooms, pork belly, and nori.

Posted in chicken, dinner, ny dining, pork, poultry, random, soup/stew | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

it’s a keeper

perfect light dinner

I just got a new cookbook called “Keepers“. The subtitle of the book is “Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen” Derek and I spent some time going through the cookbook taking note of which recipes we wanted to try.

broccoli & cheese ready to bake

The first recipe I made from the book was this crustless quiche. I like to make frittatas pretty often and this quiche is pretty similar, but it’s a bit creamier and fluffier. It’s less dense as well and makes for a perfect light meal.This is the first of many recipe to come from what is sure to be a family favorite cookbook.

crustless broccoli and cheddar quiche

crustless broccoli and cheddar quiche
printer-friendly recipe
adapted from Keepers
makes one 10-inch quiche

Unsalted butter for greasing the pie dish
3 cups small broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 large eggs
Pinch of nutmeg, preferably freshly grated

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack in the middle position. Butter a 10-inch glass pie dish, then set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and season it generously with salt. When it returns to a boil, add the broccoli and gently boil, stirring once or twice, until just crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, then thoroughly pat dry and scatter over the bottom of the pie dish. Scatter the cheese evenly over top. In a 1-quart (4-cup) measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth, then pour over the cheese. Bake until the custard is just set in the center, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

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snap, crackle, pop

crispy skin, ftw

Alright. Disregard my previous negative sentiments towards chicken. This recipe has changed my mind. It’s not always boring and dry and in need of sauce or a little something extra. All you need is some crispy chicken skin and some juicy (dark) meat.

boneless skin-on chicken thighs

I know a lot of people think they prefer boneless skinless chicken, but in order to make this recipe, you need the chicken skin. Left to fry up in a hot pan, it gets nice and crispy and crackle-y and oh so delicious. But you will have to remove the thigh bone for even cooking– get your butcher to do it, if you’re lucky, or you can easily do it yourself with a pair of kitchen shears.

"five spice" seasoning

I got a little over-excited (or I was playing with the puppy…) during the frying phase, so my chicken here is a tad on the well-done side, but it was still crispy and delicious. If you have a splatter guard, this would be the time to use it.

a little well done

“five spice” cracklin’ chicken
printer-friendly recipe
adapted from Nom Nom Paleo
serves: 2-4

4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (or other high temperature oil)
1-2 teaspoons of your favorite seasoning blend (see below)

“five spice” seasoning blend: (makes more than what you’ll need for this recipe)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon ginger powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon salt

Dry the chicken with a paper towel and cut out the bone (use kitchen shears) making sure you don’t cut through the meat. Trim off any extra skin or fat if you want. Flatten the chicken with a meat pounder to ensure uniform cooking. Turn the chicken skin-side up and sprinkle with salt evenly. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the oil and place the chicken thighs skin-side down in the hot pan. Season the meat side with your favorite seasoning blend. Let the skin fry undisturbed for 7-10 minutes until crispy and golden brown, rotating the pan 90 degrees at the halfway point to evenly distribute the heat. Flip the chicken and cook for 3-4 more minutes until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes on a wire rack and slice before serving.

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italian basics

Baked ziti on

It occurred to me today that I skipped over the most basic of Italian recipes: baked ziti. We’ve done a pumpkin version here before, but never the simple, traditional version that I grew up with. I think it’s time to change that.

Cheeses and herbs

Growing up, it was completely normal to eat baked ziti. In my majorly Italian town, it was a common dinner meal and was at most any large gathering as it’s easily likable. So naturally it seemed completely insane to me that Alex had never, ever eaten it. Not only had he never eaten it, but he had NO idea what it was. He even had the audacity to ask, “is it like spaghetti pie?” ….I had never heard of that and it still sounds weird to me.

Easy mix

I came back to school from a short trip home and my mom had wrapped up a densely packed take-out container of baked ziti that she’d made with homemade sauce and froze to ensure that it would stay cold-ish long enough for the plane trip. Alex gladly devoured the entire container in an evening and continues to be delighted with the cheesy, saucy pasta dish any time I made it. Luckily, it’s a quick meal to make, so we have it as often as he’d like.

Oven ready

baked ziti
printer-friendly version
makes 8 servings

16 ounce ziti
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, add the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, herbs, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper to a large bowl and stir until well combined. Add the sauce and stir again. Once cooked, add the pasta to the bowl and stir to coat evenly in the sauce and cheese mixture. Pour the pasta into an oven safe baking dish (or two if needed), sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top, and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, or until the cheese bubbles. Serve immediately.

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the married life

carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Just over four years ago, Alex and I got married. Our wedding cake was a beautiful, 3-tiered carrot cake with cream cheese pecan filling and an American buttercream. The wonderful people at The Royal Cakery in New Orleans did an absolutely amazing job making it. They own a small bakery that only makes three wedding cakes each weekend so they can make sure that everything turns out perfectly. Our cake was so delicious that, on the morning we left to move to NYC, I was still trying to eat the thawed top tier for breakfast as the idea of throwing out any of it seemed atrocious.

whole carrots

shredded carrots, dry ingredients

Carrot cake might seem like an odd choice for a wedding cake, especially since cooked carrots and cream cheese are both on the long list of things Alex won’t eat, but it was actually one of the easiest wedding decisions that we made. It also started an anniversary tradition.

batter in floured pans

For our first anniversary, my Mom brought us a homemade carrot cake. For our second…maybe we ordered it at a restaurant? I’m not sure, but I’m sure it was there. Last year I made a special request at work and our cake decorator decorated a carrot cake with an Up theme! My co-worker used colored chocolate and jellybeans to make this adorable little cake for us. Remember that whimsical song they play in the beginning of Pixar’s Up with the montage of Ellie and Carl’s life together? It’s called “The Married Life” and it was Alex and my first dance at our wedding.

Up cake

This year I decided it was time for me to make our anniversary cake. I had made this cake only once before, but I have to say it’s one of the best homemade cakes I’ve ever had (if I do say so myself) and I had to share it. I don’t often make cakes as they’re time consuming, but I think that they’re such a great gesture and can look so gorgeous. I am not a great cake decorator, so I like to keep it simple which I think can have just as good of an impact. The chopped pecans on the side of this cake also act as a great way to hide the fact that I’m not the best at icing cakes.

middle layer

Speaking of icing cakes, can we talk about the crumb coat for a second? I made a mess of many, many cakes before I ever heard of such a thing. A crumb coat is a thin layer of icing that you put on the cake to keep the crumbs from getting in the icing. There’s a tutorial here but essentially you spread a thin layer onto the cake and let it harden slightly either on the counter or in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Don’t worry about making it pretty. Then you can ice the cake as you normally would without worrying that the crumbs are going to speckle the outside layer. It makes a huge difference and is worth the extra effort.

carrot cake with cream cheese icing
printer-friendly version
adapted from Paula Deen
makes 16 servings

Oil for pans
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil
3 cups carrots, shredded or grated
1 cup pecans, chopped

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, chopped and portioned

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two round 9-inch cake pans and dust them with flour. Set aside. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and use a whisk to combine and remove any lumps. Using a paddle attachment, add the eggs one at a time, then the remaining ingredients. Pour the batter evenly into the two cake pans and bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let them cool for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pan onto a rack and let cool completely.

To make the icing,add the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla to your mixer and beat until fluffy.  Spread 1/2-3/4 of a cup of icing onto the cake layer that you want to be the bottom half. Spread it evenly over just the top and then sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped pecans over the layer. Place the other layer on top of this one. Ice the cake and use the remaining chopped pecans as decoration around the sides or top.

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