Shredded Pork Tostadas (w/ leftover pork)

Over the summer, we cooked an entire pork shoulder in the smoker, which resulted in a ton of delicious pulled pork, a lot of which we froze for later use.  Always keeping an eye out for creative uses of leftover pork and other proteins (this sugo was a good one), we were excited to find a recipe using shredded pork in Cook’s Illustrated’s “Mexican Favorites” magazine.  (What?  You don’t get your thrills searching through magazines and cookbooks for innovative ways to transform leftovers into new dishes?  Well then, you’re seriously missing out.)  The original recipe calls for braising a pork roast with some onion, garlic, thyme and salt to make “tinga,” or Mexican shredded pork.  Whenever we run out of leftover pulled pork (next year sometime?), we’ll try the tinga recipe, but until then, the smoky flavor of the pulled pork adapts well to the chipotle-infused tomato sauce for a flavorful tostada topping.   In fact, we loved these tostadas so much that the next time we thaw some of our pulled pork, we’re going directly to this recipe.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not seek out other uses of pulled pork. Continue reading “Shredded Pork Tostadas (w/ leftover pork)”

Chicken Cheesesteaks w/ Chipotle Cheese Sauce

Following a bye-week, the Steelers played the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.  Despite being located in the same state, there is no love lost between these two cities and their football fans.  Dan tells me that Eagles fans are so notoriously unruly that their former stadium actually had a jail and a courtroom in it, so that belligerent patrons could be dealt with immediately.  Drunken violence zealous team support aside, Philadelphians know their way around a sandwich — specifically, the cheesesteak sandwich.  Legend has it that the very first Philly cheesesteak was made by hot dog vendor Pat Olivieri in 1930, and became famous when a cab driver smelled the beef cooking, asked for a steak sandwich and spread the word to fellow cabbies.  Although the original and truly authentic cheesesteak is made with beef, we decided to try a healthier adaptation using chicken for this week’s Steeler Opponent-City Challenge, inspired by the chipotle chicken cheesesteak from this sub shop.  We used a chipotle cheese sauce also inspired by that sandwich, instead of the Cheese Whiz used in the authentic version.  The chipotle adds a spicy, smoky flavor that takes the cheese sauce to a whole new level.  Although different from the genuine Philly cheesesteak, we actually like the chipotle chicken version better.  Much as we liked seeing the Steelers beat the Eagles with a field goal in the final 3 seconds of the game.  Just don’t tell any over-served, hostile Eagles fans that our sandwich is better than theirs.

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Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Local Chef Stephan Pyles has a couple of restaurants around town, including his namesake eatery, where we have dined a few times (including the amazing multi-course tasting menu experience called “Fuego,” courtesy of an exceptional Christmas gift from Dan’s brother and his lovely wife.)  But last weekend was our first trip to Chef Pyles’ restaurant Samar, featuring small plates (think tapas) of various dishes inspired by cuisines from Spain, India and the Eastern Mediterranean.  We ordered at least one dish from each type of cuisine (including blistered Spanish chiles with hickory smoked sea salt; Tandoori chicken butter masala; and haloumi (cheese) stuffed squash blossoms) and thoroughly enjoyed every bite.  We’d love to go back sometime with friends so that we can sample even more of the dishes!  Tapas-style dining is a great way to try a bunch of different foods without having to commit to an entire meal of something you’re not quite sure you will like.

After dinner at Samar, we walked over to the Wyly Theater to see the comedy show “The Second City Does Dallas.”  You may be familiar with The Second City, the improv-based sketch comedy group where many now-famous comedians got their start.  The show was very funny, with smart sketches, entertaining improv and surprisingly shrewd “zings” that showed how the group had clearly done their homework concerning our fair city.  We loved it.  We also loved the “lounge” seating at the front of theater, with rows of eclectic, mis-matched and super comfortable plush loveseats and armchairs.  Such a fun evening.

Busy weekend for us — on Sunday we went to the annual Greek Festival at a Greek Orthodox Church in our neighborhood.  Same as last year, the gyro was our favorite food item at the festival.  We also sampled the chicken souvlaki and the loukaniko (Greek sausage.)  They were good, but nothing beats the gyro.  Next year — all gyro, all the time.

A long-time wish came true for Dan this week — television out on our back patio!  He has wanted to have a TV outside since becoming a home-owner, and thanks to the magic of technology, he finally made it happen.  This handy wireless device enables the satellite receiver for the TV inside to communicate with another TV, without having to add another receiver (or drill a hole in our house to connect receivers — something I was never too keen about.)  And it was surprisingly easy to set up, without the utterance of a single curse word.  A shocking amount of football is going to be viewed from the above location this Fall.  Technology is amazing and we are happy.


Breaded Pork Chops w/ Arugula Salad

We appreciate any recipe that incorporates a protein and a vegetable for a well-balanced meal in a single dish, especially on a weeknight.  Although the combo of a protein and greens with a light vinaigrette isn’t all that original (we’ve made similar versions with beef, chicken and veal before), the components work well together, and when we find an easy, (relatively) healthy meal solution, we’re not afraid to run it into the ground by trying each and every possible variation.  We found the original recipe in a magazine (“Glamour,” if you must know.  So I should clarify that I found it, to preserve at least a little of Dan’s dignity) and adapted it slightly by using more shallot in the vinaigrette and adding tomatoes to the salad.  We like how the arugula salad livens up the otherwise potentially plain pork and balances out the meal.  And yes, I realize that this dish is basically just pork chops with a side salad, but combining the two in the recipe and on the plate fancies up the meal into more of a one-dish wonder, if you will.  And we will.

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Orzo Salad w/ Heirloom Tomatoes & Herbs

Although it is officially Fall (hooray!) and the first day of October (already?), you may still be able to find heirloom tomatoes at your local farmer’s market or grocery store.  But if you can’t find any, regular tomatoes will still work — heirlooms just taste better, and this recipe is a great way to showcase them, in addition to end-of-summer fresh herbs.  This easy side dish is a fresh and fitting way to appreciate the conclusion of a bountiful growing season before temperatures drop and gardens go dormant.

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