Monday, September 8, 2014

A Fun Blog and Savory Sunday Dinner

First off, I absolutely must advise anyone who enjoys puns to check out the blog called "A Good Forking" (, written by "Paris Stilton." Her actual name is Emerald Bond, she is from Australia, and I saw her apartment hunting in Paris on an episode of House Hunters International. She mentioned starting a blog and gave the name of Paris Stilton, and that grabbed my attention right away. I looked her up and was immediately taken with her witty and pun-ny posts, which are also very pithy and informative.

I love a good pun, and my family has seemed to evolve into these plays with words, puns and groaners all through childhood and on into adulthood. When my sisters and I get together it is just one round of hilarity after another with puns flying fast and furiously. When I married my first husband, a Guatemalan, his English and understanding of nuance was less than perfect. Every time I used a pun or played with a word, it fell absolutely flat. It was so dispiriting. I had to learn to skip the innuendo, the puns and learn to speak very precisely and literally. And I did, but oh, how I missed that fun with words. 

My ex and I, far right, in 1968
As a matter of fact, on learning Spanish and living in Guatemala for a few years, I was able to not only understand Spanish puns, but make some of them myself. I was (I believe justifiably) proud of myself. My husband never could pick up on the puns in English, even after 18 years. So imagine the thrill when I met my current husband almost 25 years ago and I started to warn him that around my family he would be hearing a lot of plays on works and puns and he said, "Oh, so you all 'Pun-ish' each other?" Ahhhhh. He SO got it. And what a relief to go back to my puns and know they would be understood.

So, "Paris Stilton" really caught my attention. She writes about different places she has eaten and what they were served, what the presentation was like and the flavors. She is living in Paris, so most posts are from there, though there are some from London and Australia. Her photography of the varying foods is just superb, so you sit reading with drool just dripping down your chin. In the main, she really enjoys her food (and wine and drinks) and writes most favorably. In case you are curious if she ever gets a bad dish or a lousy place to eat, she has a category called "What the Fork?" to cover those. There are only 3, at this time. I am getting nothing by writing about and recommending her blog, except a real love of all she represents. She doesn't know me from Adam.

And Dinner!

On another topic, dinner last evening was just magnificent, in a very homey way. I had gotten a boneless pork shoulder roast when shopping last and it was in the freezer. I wanted to braise it in my Guatemalan Green Sauce, also frozen. It just didn't occur to me to get them out earlier, and I got both things from the freezer at noon yesterday. I unwrapped the roast and set it in my enameled cast iron pot. I set the unwrapped frozen green sauce beside it in the pot. The lid was slightly askew as neither item was remotely malleable enough to push down into the pot. I set the oven for 275 degrees and set the pot with lid slightly askew so that it would (hopefully) fall properly onto the pot once the foods started to melt.

Pork Shoulder in Green Sauce with Cheesy Chive Polenta
I have had very good results with frozen roasts so far. Either in the oven in that heavy enameled cast iron pot or in the slow cooker. So it went yesterday. I checked the pot once at about 1:30, when I began to smell the food cooking, and added in some salt, bay leaves and a little oregano. I covered it and replaced it in the oven until 4:45 PM, when I got it out. The roast was not, quite, falling-apart tender, but very close. It was certainly cooked through, and I cut away the little elastic mesh around the meat and sliced it. The meat was wonderful and more moist than if the roast had cooked longer. I thickened the green sauce with some masa harina and it was good to go. 

As for an accompaniment, I really wanted to make polenta. I love polenta, though my husband is definitely not wild about it. When my kids were visiting a couple of weeks back, I made a beef roast in green sauce and had a tube of polenta in the freezer that I needed to use. I knew my husband didn't care for polenta, but assumed my kids would, as they are vvery adventurous eaters. I did make some rice to go with the meal, just in case. As it turned out, my son also said he didn't care for polenta, and served himself rice. For his second helping, he wanted to taste it with polenta. And shock! He loved it, and said it tasted better with the meal than the rice. This was no surprise to me, but I was very pleased. So last evening I decided to make polenta from scratch. It was equally great, if not even better with the green sauce (Salsa Verde).

Pork Shoulder in Green Sauce

serves 6 to 8
1 (4-pound, approximately) boneless pork shoulder roast
2 1/2 to 3 cups Green Sauce / Salsa Verde 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 - 3 bay leaves

2/3 cup water
1/2 cup masa harina (tortilla flour)

If your roast is frozen, set the frozen roast in a large heavy duty pot or slow cooker at least 5 hours before planned serving time. Add the green sauce, salt, oregano and bay leaves, cover and cook in a very low 275 degree oven or on low in a slow cooker for a longer period. Once roast is cooked through, slice and set aside. Mix together the water and masa harina flour and add to the green sauce and bring to boil to thicken the sauce slightly. Serve the pork and sauce over rice or polenta.

Cheesy Chive Polenta

serves 2 - 4

3 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup cornmeal
3 - 4 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup "3-Cheese Italian Blend" shredded cheese

Bring the water and salt to boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, with whisk in one hand and dry cornmeal in the other, slowly pour in the cornmeal while whisking briskly until all the cornmeal is incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat. Continue stirring with the whisk or a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens considerably, 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the butter and cheese until melted, then add the chives and stir well. Serve immediately.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.