Category Archives: Ingredients

Carnitas to Die For


  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 lbs pork shoulder roast
  • kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3-4 dried chili peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 white or yellow onion, sliced into rings
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 32 oz chicken stock


Rub meat all over with salt and a good sprinkling of cumin, chili powder and black pepper. Heat a large dutch oven on the stove and add olive oil. Sear the meat thoroughly on all sides until the surfaces are crispy.

Add everything else into the pan including the rest of the spices: more cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.

Bake covered for 3-4 hours at 350. It’s done when so tender it’s falling off the bones.

Remove from the dutch oven and place into a 9×13 baking pan. With a pair of forks, shred the meat. Discard the bone and layer of fat from the bottom. If there is remaining liquid spoon about a cup and a half over the top.

Place uncovered into a 500 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the ends are carmelized.

Serve with fresh corn tortillas.

Serves: 6-8

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: approximately 4 hours



Braised Pork Belly

This delicious dish is a culinary commitment to make, but well worth it. It’s better than bacon. While you can’t enjoy this delicious camelized pork often—you’d have a heart attack—it’s quite a fabulous treat!

Day 1 – the cure

  • 1 lb pork belly with skin – cut into two or three pieces.
  • 1 cup course salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp whole pepper corns
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves

Grind the pepper corns and cloves or place them in a zip top bag and crush them with a mallet. Mix it with the rest of the spices into a powder.

Pat the pork belly dry and then roll each piece in the spices. Place the pork into a small sealable container and pack the rest of the spices around it.

Refrigerate over night.

Day Two – the brine

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 cups of salt
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pints of water

Heat the first six cups of water with the bay leaves and the salt and sugar until the powders are dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Add the other two cups of water to cool. Stir.

Pour the mixture into the container with the meat and spices. You may not need it all.

Refrigerate over night.

Day Three – the braise

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped italian parsley
  • 1 stalk of chopped celery
  • 1 cup home made soup stock –doesn’t matter what kind as long as it’s home made. (No fish stocks)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350.

Remove the meat from the brine. You can throw out the brine. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. This is important.

Place a heavy dutch oven over the fire and get it hot. Add the oil. Sear all sides of the meat on high heat. Pour in the wine and stand back. It will deglaze the pan and fizz all over the place. I recommend getting the soup stock in there as quickly as possible.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Cover and bake at 350 for 90 minutes. Reduce heat to 180 and cook for two hours.

Meat will be dark and caramelized on the outside and oh-so tender on the inside.

Lamb Ragout with Mushrooms

This was so delicious that my husband insisted that it become a blog post! Please take note: lamb requires a whole lot of salt. Don’t go lightly.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 small sliced carrot
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 4 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 oz rotelle pasta
  • lots of salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • shaved parmesan cheese


Heat your skillet and add the olive oil. Sauteée the onions, garlic and celery with salt until the onions begin to soften. Add the carrot and ground lamb with salt and pepper and begin to brown the meat. Part way through, add the sliced mushrooms. Brown the meat and don’t let it form large clumps. Add the tomato sauce, red wine, rosemary, basil and parsley, and more salt if needed. Cover and keep a low simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta. Garnish with some finely minced fresh parsley and shaved parmesan.

Soup Stock from Would-be Compost

Before you go tossing out your kitchen scraps, why not get some use out of them by making soup stock? It’s SO easy and is a great way to put kitchen scraps to use before you compost them.  Use onion skins, orange peels, meat bones, cartilage, fibrous bits, seeds, stems and even not-so-fresh fruits and veggies as long as they aren’t rotten or moldy. Soft or brown spots? No problem!

You need one large stock pot, water, salt and whatever scraps you have lying around. Place it on the back burner and add a very generous amount of salt. Cover and simmer on med or low. Cooking a big feast? Keep it on the stove all day if you want.

When you’re sure you have nothing left to add, and everything in the pot is soft and lost most of it’s color, pour the mixture through a kitchen strainer and into a bowl. Allow it to cool thoroughly. Then divide it into smaller containers and freeze for as long as you like. Next time you have a recipe that calls for stock, you’ve got your own home made batch.

Grilled Olive Oil and Rosemary Flatbread

Today, I decided to experiment with grilled flatbread. I’ve never done it before. I read several recipes and then came up with what I thought would be the best combination of ingredients. I had no idea whether it would turn out.

OMG this flatbread was SOOO good. The outside came out crispy and the inside was chewy!! I’m blogging it today so I don’t forget what I did. It went with dry-aged BBQ’d steak like heaven!


  • 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/3 cup of flour + a little more as needed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt + a little more
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh garlic


Pour warm water and yeast into a small bowl, stir and ignore it for about five minutes until the mixture gets a little foamy.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/3 cup of flour, olive oil, 1 tbsp salt, rosemary and water/yeast mixture. Kneed until it forms a nice ball. You can sprinkle in more water as needed.

Make a ball of dough and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave alone for 30-50 minutes.

Spread a little flour on a wooden cutting board. Roll the dough out until it makes an even disk, about 1/4″ thick.

Scrape the mixture up from the wood, keeping the shape. Re-flour the board and lay it back down. The point is to keep the bottom floured and non-sticky.

Sprinkle chopped garlic and kosher salt evenly on the top.

Toss on the BBQ grill for a few minutes. Flip if necessary. Cook until the bread looks done. Slice into strips and serve with your steak dinner.

NetDiva’s Awesome Hot Sauce

I needed a sauce to put over the fresh tamales we made the other night. I whipped this together with veggies that I had lying around. It was delicious and perfectly spicy.


  • 1 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 pasilla pepper (with seeds)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño (with seeds)
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar, (Bragg’s or other natural vinegar is recommended.)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes


Finely chop all vegetables and place in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium-low, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are very soft and stewed.

Using a stick blender, purée the mixture until it’s a thick, even sauce. If you don’t have a stick blender, a regular blender or food processor will work, too.

Add more salt, sugar or red pepper flakes to taste.

Can be served warm or cold.

Seafood Paella

My grandmother taught me that Spanish cooking tends to include whatever is fresh and available. In otherwords, to make a good paella, you need to go to the market and see what looks good. Some ingredients, like the sofrito, should not be substituted. But the meats and seafoods really need to come from local stock.

I made this paella last night for a house full of hungry guests who gave it rave reviews.


  • About a cup of olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 6 cups of chicken broth


  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • salt

Everything Else

  • 4 large fresh Spanish Chorizos, chopped into 1/2″ slices
  • 5 cups of Bomba Rice
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 lb live clams
  • 1 lb live mussels
  • 1 lb whole shrimp with heads on
  • 1 lb whole langostine with heads on
  • 2 tsp saffron, crumbled
  • 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika


Pour the chicken stock into a pot and heat to not quite boiling. Cover and leave over medium-low.

Place an 18″ paella pan over two burners on high to get the pan hot. Add about 3 tbsp of olive oil and heat. It’s hot enough when you drizzle a few drops of water into the oil and its sputters. Turn the heat down a little and throw in the garlic cloves. Toast until golden brown and remove them from the oil. Put the garlic in a bowl and save for later.

Make the Sofrito

You may need to add another splash of olive oil. Toss the chopped bell peppers an onion into the hot olive oil and heat on medium-high with a pinch of kosher salt until the vegetables are soft. Remove the mixture from the pan leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. Place mixture in a bowl and set aside.

Make Everything Else

Toss the chorizo into the pan and brown on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl. (Are you starting to sense a theme here?)

Leave enough oil in the pan to cover the surface, but not more than about 1/16 of an inch deep. Drain the rest and pour it over your dog’s kibble. She’ll love you forever!

Cut each tomato in half and grate the soft part on a box grater. Throw out the skins. Set aside.

Pour the rice into the pan of hot oil and stir. Heat until the rice is evenly coated with oil for a minute or two. You want the rice to get a little bit clear, so you can see a white dot in the middle of each grain.

Now add in the hot chicken broth, the tomatoes, the garlic, the sofrito, saffron, paprika, plenty of salt and the chorizo. Stir and simmer on med-low for about five minutes.

Stir in the peas.

Add the shellfish to the the mixture. Don’t stir it in but layer it evenly on top. Simmer on medium-low without stirring. Rotate pan 1/4 turn about every ten minutes so that it cooks evenly. Paella is done when the rice is tender, the clams and mussels have opened and the shrimp and langoustine are red. There should be a slightly burnt, brown not black, crust on the bottom, called the soccarat.

Serve with french bread and red wine.