Lamb Terrine

Lamb Terrine

Sliced Lamb Terrine

Anyone that knows me, knows that I  favor the  classics in food , fashion, and life. Pates and Terrines have always fascinated me as they are classic, complex, yet easy dishes that conjure up grandeur, elegance  and rusticity at the same time. A terrine is a time honored way to utilize offal and ground meats, usually pork based  and bake into a rich flavored loaf. You can get fancy and layered with them or just really basic. I love them for Holidays, entertaining, and picnics. I had the heart and liver of the lamb we purchased and in true nose to tail fashion, wanted to use them, as opposed to discarding them. I knew they would go into a lovely simplistic terrine. Continue reading “Lamb Terrine”


Leberkäse with Green Peppercorns… A German Meatloaf of Neither Liver Or Cheese

Yumm Leberkäse. The first time I ever had some was after a  German class at the Goethe Institute . A bunch of us walked over to the Christkindlmarket  after our final class. Thick slabs of Leberkäse shared space on the  hot grill with bratwurst.In the dead of winter, I bit into my hearty sandwich with sauerkraut  and fell in love.  Certain Someones mother would serve it at times when we visited Essen, a pre made  loaf from a deli, that she heated up. All these years I was under the mistaken impression there was a bit of liver in that meat, that gave it that savory taste. You see Leberkäse breaks down in translation to literally Liver Cheese. It’s a Bavarian specialty . However other regions of Germany add small percentages of liver. So the Leberkäse can vary by region. When I told Certain Someone I was making this, he too thought there was a bit of liver in the preparation as well. Maybe in Essen there is. The final verdict of my Bavarian style Leberkäse passed his tough German expectations. In an ode to Essen and his mother I added some green peppercorns, as that’s how I remembered it served there.

You may ask why am I making Leberkäse in the middle of summer? For various reasons. Certain Someone is home after some travel and I need more things on hand to feed him while I’m working.  A girl has to be organized. It tastes even better the day after preparation. I can slice it cold or hot. Think of it as homemade lunch meat. We like to slice it thick and pan fry it with some onions. Try adding a  fried egg on top , or serve it up like a cold pate with cornichons or salads. The recipe isn’t as hard as you would think. You need either a meat grinder , a food processor or an immersion blender.  I added  pink salt or cure to mine to help it retain its pink color, as opposed to turning grayish in color. One more hint. If you are a bit lazy, use  a good quality ground pork and beef.The bacon still has to be ground in. But using pre ground meat is a time-saving option for those who are not as adventurous or lack all the equipment.

Some tips to remember. As you’re working with ground meats , the colder the better. In my research I picked up a common tip of adding crushed ice to the meat before that final blending emulsification. It also helps with the bubbly smooth airy texture of the final product. Some people add heavy cream. I added just plain  dry powdered ( goats )milk, as I always add that to my meatloaf’s (I  don’t know why, but it works. I believe its something about adding extra nutrients and extending the protein ).  All of this helps the fats stay suspended and the meat emulsify. The mixture needs to chill and rest for a few hours. As I added a cure, it was still baked on the same day only for color retention.

I used my trusty XYBOARD in the kitchen to research Leberkäse ,techniques,and take quick clear photos  while in the kitchen.It saved me  a lot a time going to different rooms for the camera, etc.

Leberkäse with Green Peppercorns
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A Bavarian meatloaf
  • 2 lbs stewing beef cubes
  • 1.5 lbs stewing pork cubes
  • ½ bacon( the fattier the better)
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp cure , pink salt, etc (  scant ¼ tsp per lb of meat)
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp dry powdered milk
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp mace or nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • grated lemon zest ( approx ½ tsp) optional
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • 2 tbsp green peppercorns ( if you prefer use less)
  1. In a meat grinder grind your beef and pork, and bacon.
  2. Place ground meats in a large bowl.
  3. Add your minced onion and garlic.
  4. Add your spices, curing salt and dry milk.
  5. Mix well.
  6. At this point you can place the ground meats in a food processor or use an immersion blender ( the immersion blender needs to be used carefully as to not burn out. Give it a rest if needed.) Mix the meats with the crushed ice until it forms a smooth paste. You don't want the paste to thick but it airy enough. The ice keeps the fats suspended and aides in the emulsification.
  7. Once you get the desired texture (there can still be some clumps of ice and that is fine as it helps form air bubbles in texture).
  8. Add the green peppercorns and mix in with hands( after removed from the food processor)
  9. Chill the meat mixture for 1 to 2 hrs.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  11. Grease loaf pan or pans.
  12. Pack meat  mixture into pans.
  13. With a knife make a criss -cross pattern on top.
  14. Place pans in a larger pan with water to catch any fat drippings.
  15. Bake for 1.5 hrs.
  16. Remove loaves from pans and drain of fats.
  17. Serve warm or cold.
  18. It tastes even better the day after.

 “Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.”


Pork Belly Buns or Bao…Dim Sum Treats

One of the favorite dining experiences of Certain Someone and I, is going to China Town on a Sunday and indulging in Dim Sum. The tasty assortment and nibbles are endless and satisfying. Another added bonus is that is doesn’t cost us a fortune.  I love any sort of steamed bun or bao and normally have purchased them frozen. I finally decided to make my own after finding some pork belly in my freezer. Brainstorming on what to do with my hunk of rich meat , I thought back to last December and a long weekend in New York City. Certain Someone had purchased tickets for his favorite band Rammstein, an industrial metal German band known for intense pyrotechnics. This was their first concert in the United States in 10 years  to test the waters. It was so good that they are now on tour in the US. Anyway, as I’m normally in charge of the food recommendations. I was dying to go to the famous Momofuku Noddle Bar. The hype over the years was huge and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. They don’t take reservations there except for the fried chicken. So we taxied over and waited  in line for approx 30 minutes on a Friday night. If it was any longer Certain Someone would have walked. But he was a good sport and we waited for the surprisingly short duration. Finally two spaces opened up for us at the bar. Tight ,noisy , and nor very intimate. But I was there for the food. Our server /bartender was very hospitable to us and Certain Someone ordered a nice selection of items. Was it good? Yes. Was it an epiphany , not so much. Was it expensive for what you got, yes again, with all the drinks thrown in as well. Compared to the venues we have gone to in various Chinatowns,we were paying for the scene , more than the food. In the end , we are the types who prefer a more low key , non pretentious place that gives more value for the price. But I can say been there , done that. If the place wasn’t so loud, small and had better seating, then maybe I would view the whole experience differently. Its hard to enjoy a meal cramped up , elbow to elbow on a high chair at the bar, with your backs against the cold new York winter air.I do need to visit David Chang’s other venues .

So I decided to make my own buns for way less money. Be prepared to dedicate a better part of your day to these. Some aspects can be pre made , thereby making it an excellent appetizer for parties or summer cookouts coming up. The most intimidating piece of this for me was the bun/bao, as Chinese pastry has always mystified me. You can dress the buns up in a myriad of ways. I love various Asian influence like pickled vegetables and maybe some spice to offset the rich fattiness of the pork belly. If you don’t like pork, try roasted chicken or duck with the crispy skin left on. Shrimp or beef works too. I made quick pickle of julienned Daikon radish and carrots, sliced some cucumbers, green onion, and cilantro.  Add a slather of Hoisin and you are in for a treat.

I followed this recipe from Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie , but made some changes in the dough as I didn’t have dried milk in my pantry. I substituted 2 tablespoons  heated whole milk to the 3/4 ( less 2 tablespoons ) of water. The dough turned out beautifully. If you need more flour or liquid, add it slowly until the dough forms a nice ball while kneading.

Next time I’m going to make my own brine with some aromatics like star anise and garlic, and peppercorns. Or I may just add them to my braising liquid for a more luxurious flavor.

For the quick pickle, I didn’t soak my vegetables in salt water overnight, as normal picking recipes call for. I just heated 1 part sugar to 1 part white vinegar, a start anise and dried Thai chili to a boil and plunged my vegetable in . Remove from heat immediately and let cool submerged in  the liquid. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Warning…These bao are quite filling and somewhat addictive. But I suspect the whole family will love them. Try various proteins as filling choices, and have yourself a little Bao party with all the fixings.

Tea Smoked Home Cured Bacon

I make my own sausage, cheese, pickles, pasta,soap,elaborate cakes,etc. Yet I have never made bacon. The web these days is full of DIY charcuterie enthusiasts, and I applaud them. I’m just not into participating in the mass events that populate the blogs these days. So when I saw a blogger I have always respected and admired  make her own, I asked myself why haven’t I done so? Naturally I had to Cocofiy it and add my exotic touch. This is grown folks bacon that’s infused with a rich sophisticated smokiness from smoking with Lapsang Souchong , Sichaun peppercorns, Star Anise and other spices. I used a commercial cure from Lem Backwoods in addition to other spices. I like this cure as it reduces the risk of botulism during the smoking /cooking process at lower temperatures. With these sort of commercial cures, the addition of more salt is not needed, so I didn’t add any to my spice blend. I cured for seven days as opposed to Lem’s recommendation of four days. Then rinsed my belly. I found my bacon wasn’t salty at all, unlike store bought bacon. I called Lem Backwoods and they said I was right not to add more salt and sometimes depending on usage or technique, some could find it salty. Either way I was happy with my results and the infused flavor from the tea smoke. The Alchemist, who’s vegan these days even requested some, as bacon is the hardest to give up.

Now most recipes call for the removal of the skin. Bah! I like thick slabs of bacon with the skin, country style. The skin slices through like butter once smoked.

You can smoke outdoor or indoors. I made a my own smoker with my roasting pan and lid, a rack used for baking, foil, and spices atop two  gas burners.

The finished product keeps about seven days in the refrigerator, or can be frozen. I recommend slicing and freezing to use as needed. Are you ready for the recipe?


Tea Smoked Home Cured Bacon

Caution: make sure your kitchen is well ventilated with windows open, fan on, etc.

The Cure (4-7 days curing time)

  • Pork Belly with skin on (I used about 4.5 lbs)
  • 1/4 teaspoon for each 1lb of meat of Lem Backwoods cure or any other commercial meat cure containing salt and Sodium Nitrate (total 1 1/8 teaspoons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fennel pollen
  • 2 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground Black Peppercorns
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Smidgen of water to mix

The Smoking Aromatics

  • 2 tablespoons Lapsang Souchong Tea leaves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Jasmine Rice (uncooked)
  • 1 tablespoon Sichaun Peppercorns
  • 7 Star Anise Pods

Mix your dry cure ingredients with a bit of water to dissolve . Add pork belly to a large resealable plastic bag. Add the cure and rub on both sides. Seal bag, place on a baking sheet or pan and refrigerate. Turn the bag every other day to distribute any seasonings and brine that forms while in the refrigerator. Cure for 4-7 days.

Take the pork belly and rinse off with water. Pat dry thoroughly.

Prepare your smoker. Take a large piece of aluminum foil and make a edges to contain your aromatics. Add the aromatics to the foil.Take a large roasting pan with lid, and place foil lined aromatics on the bottom of roaster. Place a rack , the kind you use for cooling baked goods, and place atop the aromatics. Place your pork belly , skin side up, on the rack. Cover and close any vents that may be on the roaster Using two burners , turn heat to med high for the first five minutes to start the smoking. Reduce heat to medium to low heat. Leave burners on for  hour. Turn off heat and leave covered for 1 more hour.The meat should be brownish red in color.

Uncover and let the pork belly cool.Pat off any excess moisture with a paper towel.Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate. A few hours later take out to slice and prepare and wrap for freezing if you plan to. At this point you can fry your bacon.



Pork Belly Chipotle Tacos While I Dream of Mexico

What a perfect post while in the middle of a Blizzard…

Back before Christmas, The Mexican Board of Tourism invited me along with several bloggers to experience the fine and complex cuisine of Mexico at Mexique ,a French influenced Mexican restaurant. French influenced Mexican you ask? Yes as the French occupied briefly during the whole Maximilian Affair , masterminded by Napoleon III to bring an Austrian archduke there to rule. I sat with fellow Chicago blogger Joelen with our men  as we learned about the rich history and culinary traditions of Mexico.The Mexican Board of Tourism wanted to refute the perception that Mexican food was just tacos,  burritos and tamales. Mexican food is elegant and rich with complex flavors that reflect the indigenous peoples and those that settled there. The region of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico , is where you will find blacks, former slaves. Its no surprise their cooking resembles what we think of as Caribbean food with the African roots. Oaxaca, home of the longest surviving indigenous people the Zapotecs and Mixtecs, is know as the land of the Seven Moles.Moles are labor intensive red or brown chili based sauces that are a staple of Mexican cuisine. Oaxaca is also known for Chocolate.

What I loved about our informative dinner was that the Executive  Chef Carlos Gaytan broke all my stereotypes of the food. The Ceviche was smooth and velvety without excessive use of citrus acid and rounded out by lush avocado emulsion. Pork belly  was served with butternut squash foam and mole Teloloapan, Carne Asada .Each course was a marvel followed by a decadent chocolate tamales wrapped in corn husks. Rich, bittersweet and dense. Sensational.

In the end we  were each gifted with the culinary tome Oaxaca. I haven’t made anything from the book yet , but have enjoyed reading it. Fortunately living in Chicago with a large Mexican community, I have many of these ingredients at my fingertips.

So being the improvisational cook I am , I whipped this up one weekend and realized how I have been influenced by the flavors of Mexico. While its not authentic it incorporates many elements I have been reading about and exposed to by our Mexican community in Chicago. My cooking Mojo is off this month but Certain Someone and I enjoyed these flavors immensely. It tastes even better the next day.If you like spice and are trapped in the snow , like I am you will be warmed up by this dish. I wont give a formal recipe, as this is what I call is instinctive cooking.


Pork Belly Chipotle Tacos

You will need:

Pork Belly with skin, Can of Chipolte Peppers in Adobe, onion, chicken stock, corn tortillas,sour cream, lime, cheese( Queso or cojita optional)

  • Braise a inexpensive pork belly with the skin for 3 hours in a covered Dutch Oven at around 350F.Season it with salt and pepper.
  • Crisp it for 30 minutes .
  • Let stand.
  • In a sauce pan saute some onions in oil.
  • Add a can of Chipotle peppers in Adobo ( found in Latin sections of supermarket).
  • Slice your pork belly with skin and add to peppers and onions.
  • Add chicken stock.
  • Season to taste.
  • Simmer until all flavors are blended.
  • Serve on grilled corn tortillas.


The winner of last weeks giveaway is… Irene E! Congratulations. I know you will enjoy Food and Friends …Recipes  and Memories from Simca’s Cuisine.