Pork Carnitas, aka Mexican slow cooked pulled pork, is a taco stand favorite and super easy to make at home.
Oven cooking the pork in a flavored broth for about 2 hours yields incredibly moist, tender meat. Seasonings, which include oregano, cumin, lime and orange, permeate the pork which is then tossed with the reduced broth and broiled until the edges are crisp and golden. Roll the meat up in a tortilla with your choice of toppings and you’ve got yourself a mighty fine meal.
4 pound boneless pork butt, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tb fresh lime juice
2 C water
1 medium orange, juiced (keep the squeezed rinds)
Toppings: Avocado, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and/or jalapeño slices
Tortillas, to serve
1. Place oven rack in lower middle position and heat oven to 300℉.
2. Combine all ingredients (except the toppings and tortillas) in a large Dutch oven, including the orange rinds.
3. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is very tender and easy to pull apart, about 2 hours.
4. Remove the pot from the oven and turn on the broiler.
5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan to a large foil-lined baking pan.
6. Strain cooking liquid into a bowl and discard solids. Return cooking liquid to the Dutch oven and place over high heat on the stove. Boil until liquid thickens, about 20 to 30 minutes.
7. While the liquid is reducing, use two forks to pull apart the cubes of pork.
8. Stir the pork pieces into the reduced liquid in the Dutch oven. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
9. Return pork to the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat into a single layer. Place pan on the lower middle rack of the oven and broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the pieces of meat and broil the other side until well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 minutes.
10. Serve immediately in tortillas with your favorite toppings.
Not sure if I posted that video before, but it’s one of my faves.
One thing I know for sure is that all of the top 5 posts in 2021 are repeats which have enjoyed the highest views here over the past few years.
Coming in at Number 1…. You all know Crunchers. The crunchy, gooey, chocolaty, peanut buttery delightful dessert bars pictured above are back in the top 5 after a 4 year hiatus. If you haven’t tried them yet, definitely give them a go. I revisited the recipe here. Have a look for some tips and observations.
Lemonies, the very delicious lemon brownies, have been an ISITK crowd favorite for years. They were the second most popular recipe in 2021. Everyone loves them and so many have left happy comments after making them.
If it’s a blog birthday then gingerbread must be on the menu.
Today’s Gingerbread Bundt Cake recipe takes its ginger side very seriously. Ginger joins many other warm spices in the cake batter and it’s used to flavor the sweet syrup that is drizzled over the baked cake. Finally, crystallized ginger in the whipped cream lends a delicious bite that’s a nice accompaniment to each slice.
Gingerbread Bundt Cake
Ginger Syrup (recipe follows)
Butter to grease pan Turbinado sugar to dust pan
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup vanilla porter or milk stout
⅔ cup vegetable oil
½ cup molasses
½ cup sour cream
2 ¼ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp ground cloves
Pinch of ground cardamom
Ginger Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10 to 15–cup Bundt pan with softened butter and dust with turbinado sugar.
2. Whisk together light brown sugar, porter, oil, molasses, and ginger reserved from the syrup. Whisk together sour cream and eggs until smooth then whisk into the porter mixture.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking soda, cloves, and cardamom. Whisk into wet mixture in 3 to 4 increments.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean and cake pulls away from edges of pan, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for about 45 minutes.
5. Poke cake with a skewer then drizzle the ginger syrup over top. Invert cake onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.
6. Serve cake with the ginger whipped cream.
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup minced fresh ginger
1. Bring all syrup ingredients to a boil in a saucepan set over medium-high heat.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the syrup for 10 minutes.
3. Strain syrup into a small bowl, reserving ginger.
I’d love to have Vera over for some cake. We’d dance around the kitchen and sing “Do do do do do” into our spatula mics. Then I would give her a hug and thank her for the brave bleakness of this cracking song.
“It’s all I wanted
my whole life”
Check out Vera Ellen on Bandcamp where you can buy her music.
I hope you’re holding up alright through this never ending pandemic. Unbelievable.
A great dessert is a great distraction.
Bring some cheer to your table with this lovely Caramel Espresso Yule Log. A light vanilla cake gets filled with a thick, rich caramel cream with a hint of coffee flavor. It’s then topped off with a decadent bittersweet ganache fashioned to look like log. Bonus is that it can be made ahead.
1. Remove the chilled caramel-espresso filling from the refrigerator and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Beat the filling on high speed until it is thickened to the consistency of a buttercream icing, about 2 minutes.
3. Carefully unroll the cake and spread the filling over it. Leave a 1/2 inch margin on each of the short sides. Reroll the cake taking the towel out while rolling.
4. Wrap the cake roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 2 days.
5. Place two 12 x 4-inch strips of parchment paper 1 inch apart on a serving plate. (To keep it clean when icing with the ganache later).
6. Remove plastic wrap from cake. On a work surface, use a sharp knife to trim a 1/2 inch slice from each end of the log. Clean the knife between cuts. Eat Discard the trimmings.
7. To make the branch stump, cut one end of the cake at a 45 degree angle, starting 1.5 inches from end of log (shorter side of stump will be 1.5 inches long).
8. Transfer the larger cake piece to the serving plate. To attach stump, place its straight side against the side of the log. Use some ganache to fill in the space between the two cake pieces.
9. Use an offset spatula to spread the rest of the ganache over the log. Leave the cut ends exposed.
10. Use the tines of a fork to make the ganache resemble wood. Slide the parchment pieces out from under the cake.
11. Refrigerate the cake, uncovered, for 20 minutes to set ganache or up to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator for about 20 minutes before serving.
Caramel Espresso Filling
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 tablespoon espresso powder
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces and softened
1. Pour 1 cup of the heavy cream into a large bowl.
2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the remaining cup of heavy cream and the espresso powder. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.
3. Bring sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil in another saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, for about 7 minutes and the mixture is a light golden color. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook another 5 minutes or until the mixture is deep brown in color. (The original recipe says to leave it until it just begins to smoke, but I took it off the heat before this happened as I was afraid of burning the mix).
4. After removing the sugar mixture from the heat, stir in the hot espresso-cream mixture. (The caramel will bubble up and steam, so be careful). Add cream cheese, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until mostly smooth (some little bits of cream cheese may remain) then transfer the mixture into the bowl with the heavy cream. Stir, cover, and refrigerate for 1.5 hours or up to 4 days.
1 1/3 cups cake flour
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, separated
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease an 18 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet, then line with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks, oil, water and vanilla and whisk until the batter is smooth.
3. Use a stand mixer to whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
4. Transfer about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the cake batter. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the whites in. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites.
5. Pour batter onto prepared baking sheet and spread to even it out. Rap the sheet on the counter 3 times to remove any big air bubbles.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until the center of cake springs back when lightly pressed.
7. While the cake bakes, soak a tea towel in water and thoroughly wring out.
8. Transfer the baked cake to a wire rack. Immediately run a knife around the edge of the sheet to loosen cake. Gently invert cake onto a second wire rack. Lay the damp towel over the cake and invert first wire rack over towel. Invert cake and remove rack.
9. Starting from short side, gently roll the cake and the towel together into a jelly roll shape.
10. Let cake cook on rack, seam side down, for 1 hour.
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
¾ cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.
2. Place chocolate and corn syrup in a bowl then pour the hot cream over the top. Let stand for 1 minute.
3. Whisk chocolate mixture until smooth. Let cool for 1 hour or until it is the consistency of pudding.
From Local H’s ‘Awesome Quarantine Mix-Tape #3’ is this emotional cover of Fountains Of Wayne’s “Hackensack”. The original is pure perfection, but Local H give the song a poignant turn.
In homage to the very much missed Adam Schlesinger (founding member of FOW who died of coronavirus complications in 2020), Local H’s frontman Scott Lucas explains how the song carries more emotional weight now.
“It no longer felt like a song about a guy who carries a torch for an old high school crush. Suddenly, it was a hymn to the people we’d lost.”
Check out Local H on the band’s Website where you can learn of upcoming shows in the US and buy their music.
Spaghetti With Clams is as elegant as it is quick and easy. The simple garlicky white wine sauce is finished with some butter for added richness and a hit of parsley and lemon to brighten the lovely clams.
Spaghetti With Clams
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 pounds Manila clams, scrubbed clean
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zested, for garnish
1. Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the clams, wine and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Cover and simmer for about 6 minutes or until most of the clams have opened. Discard any unopened clams. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.
3. Drain spaghetti in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
4. Add spaghetti to the clam skillet and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Add some of the cooking liquid, if necessary, to get the sauce consistency you prefer.
5. Pour pasta into large serving bowl. Sprinkle with lemon zest and remaining parsley. Serve immediately.
Make these cheerful and totally delightful Slice ‘n’ Bake Lemon Gems.
The tart lemon glaze over the melt in your mouth cookie is so yummy. The nonpareils give a beautiful pop of color and a nice crunchy bit to each bite.
Slice ‘n’ Bake Lemon Gems
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbs grated lemon zest
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup colored nonpareils
Icing (recipe follows)
1. In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon zest.
2. In another bowl, whisk flour and cornstarch then gradually add to creamed mixture. Mix well then refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour.
3. Shape the dough into a log about 7 inches long and 1-3/4-inch diameter. (I couldn’t, for the life of me, get the dough into a round roll, thus the rectangular cookies you see in the photos). Roll the log in the colored nonpareils.
4. Wrap the dough log in plastic and refrigerate 2-3 hours or until firm.
5. Preheat oven to 375°F.
6. Unwrap and cut dough crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
7. Bake 9-11 minutes or until set and edges are light browned. Cool 1 minute then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
8. Spread the icing over the cookies and let stand until set.
Makes 28 cookies
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbs lemon juice
Bring the ever popular apple pie to the next level by adding a buttery, crumb topping and a heavy drizzle of caramel.
Caramel Apple Pie
Pastry for single-crust pie (recipe follows)
1 1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup dulce de leche or caramel ice cream topping, slightly warmed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve
1. Roll out Single Crust Pie Shell pastry into a 12-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Trim overhang to an even 1-inch all the way around. Tuck the crust under and flute the edges. Line pastry with a double thickness of foil and add pie weights.
2. Preheat oven to 400℉.
3. Bake piecrust for 15 minutes so that it is partially baked. Remove foil and pie weights.
4. Decrease oven temperature to 375℉.
5. Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, stir together flour and the 2/3 cup of sugar. Use a pastry blender to cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
6. In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar and cinnamon. Add apple slices. Gently toss until coated.
7. Spoon apple mixture into the partially baked pie crust. Press gently to flatten a bit. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture. Cover pie loosely with foil.
8. Place pie plate on middle shelf in oven. Place a foil-lined baking sheet on lower rack beneath pie to catch any spills that may happen as pie bakes.
9. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 45 minutes more or until fruit is tender, filling is bubbly and crumb topping is golden brown.
10. Cool pie on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving.
11. To serve, drizzle pie with warm dulce de leche and sprinkle with nuts. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you like.
Single-Crust Pie Pastry
1-3/4 cups cake flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons shortening
5 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg or 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1. In a medium bowl, stir together both flours and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter and shortening until pieces are about the size of a pea.
2. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons of the water, egg, and lemon juice. Use a fork to gently toss the flour mixture into the egg mixture. If too dry, add the remaining tablespoon of water and gently toss to moisten evenly.
3. Turn crumb mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently gather the crumbs together to form a ball. Knead 5 times then flatten dough into a disc about 1 inch thick. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until easy to work with.
I’ve got your sweet, salty, nutty, crunchy cravings all taken care of right here in these super easy Pecan Pretzel Caramel Candies. Just 3 ingredients and 10 minutes is all it takes to make a big batch of these Turtle-like confections.
Kids of all types will like these fun quesadillas inspired by that ubiquitous tetrahedral, pyramid-shaped Halloween-themed candy.
Definitely not sweet, these Candy Corn Quesadillas are filled with chicken and corn mixed with salsa, barbecue sauce and a hint of cumin. They get their festive look from cheese, crushed nacho chips and sour cream spooned in bands over the top to mimic the candies.
Candy Corn Quesadillas
1 pound cooked chicken, chopped
16 ounces salsa
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup butter, melted
8 flour tortillas (10 inch size)
1 jar (15-1/2 ounces) salsa con queso dip, warmed
4 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
2-2/3 cups crushed nacho-flavored tortilla chips
1/2 cup sour cream
1. Combine the first five ingredients in a Dutch oven. Stir occasionally until heated through.
2. Brush butter over one side of each tortilla.
3. Place one tortilla in a large skillet, buttered side down. Spoon 1 cup of the chicken mixture on top then cover with another tortilla, buttered side up. Cook over medium heat 1-2 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Flip quesadilla over.
4. Spread 1/2 cup of the queso dip over the quesadilla then carefully sprinkle cheese along outer edge. Cook, covered, 1-2 minutes or until cheese begins to melt.
5. Remove quesadilla to a cutting board. Sprinkle crushed chips over the queso dip. Cut quesadilla into six wedges. Place a small dollop of sour cream at the point of each wedge.
6. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make a total of 4 quesadillas.
I was looking for some candy themed songs when I came across this tune from Boston-based band Dutch Tulips.
‘Candy Factor’ presents as a total music disconnect for me. The heavy guitars lend a total rock and roll vibe. But the singer’s voice, the backing vocals and the lyrics all feel like they belong in an 80s synth-laden situation.
That said, ‘Candy Factor’ is oddly captivating. I’m also never going to pass on a song that includes a lyric like:
“Oh, candy factor
Rock and Roll
Is the greatest tractor
Rock and Roll is the greatest
And there is a passing mention of Interstate 93…so there’s that.
Check out Dutch Tulips on Bandcamp where you can buy their music and learn of an upcoming show in Boston.
These songs are up for listening purposes and only for a short period of time. Like what you hear? Then please support the artist and buy the music. If you're an artist or label who wants the song taken down, please let me know.