Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for September, 2010

Cochinita Pibil meet Pork vindaloo

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 26, 2010

By mid morning this Saturday, I wanted to make cochinita pibil in the worst way.  Cochinita Pibil (literally, “buried baby pig”) is a Yucatan Pork dish marinated in citrus juices and achiote paste and  slow cooked in banana leaf wraps.  By the time it is done, it is a thing of beauty: deep red,  complex, earthy and rich.  Trouble was I had only butterflied pork chops, and no orange juice, or  achiote paste, or banana leaves.  So I decided to cut a path between Cochinita Pibil and Pork Vindaloo (vindalho:  Pork made with wine and garlic/alho), a dish of Indo-Portuguese origin, kicked upto  an artform by Goan Indians.  So here is what I did:


3 butterflied pork tender loins split into 6 total pieces

6 tbs apple cider vinegar

2-3 tbs. lemon juice

2 ½ tbs. sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

2 dry cayenee peppers- dry broken into bits (omit if you dont like heat)

1 stick cinnamon, broken into smaller bits

2 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp pepper corn (reduce if the heat bothers you)

3 cloves garlic

2 tbs. oil, divided

¾ cup cilantro stems- thoroughly washed and crudely chopped.

1-2 tbs. of cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)

In a coffee grinder, grind together the cinnamon, cayenne peppers, cumin powder, pepper corns till the mixture is more or less a powder.  The cayenne peppers may not get fully pulversized, but no matter.  Pulse the garlic and the cilantro stems in the food processor, until smooth. Then  add the vinegar, salt, lemon juice, 1 tbs. oil and sugar to make a fairly thin marinade.  Add the dry ingredients to the food processor and pulse briefly to mix everything together.

Let the pork chops marinade in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

3-31/2  hours before you are ready to eat, place the oven rack on the lowest rung and preheat to 350˚F.  In a large dutch oven, heat the remaining 1 tbs. oil, drain and brown the pork chops, a few min to each side.  Pour the rest of the marinade into the dutch oven, cover and cook in the oven for 2-3 hours.  If you want to eat this pork with Spanish Rice, then check the pork at 2 hours.  It should have completely softened by now and should be ready to eat.  If you want it a bit drier as a filling for tortillas then continue cooking for another 1/2-1 hour, until the liquid has almost all dried off and the sugars have caramelized on the pork.  Adjust the salt to your taste, garnish with cilantro and eat.

Posted in Indian Food, Main Dishes, Meat, Mexican | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bitter gourd and potatoes (karela/uchhe bhaja)

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 18, 2010

In formal Bengali meals, a bitter course is often intercalated between other courses as a palate cleanser.  As you read this, you can’t be thinking of medicinal bitter; or even Passover bitters.  That puts you in the wrong frame of mind. You have to be thinking of that bit of bitterness that makes coffee or chocolate so enjoyable.  Once you get in that mindset, bitter gourd (Momordica charantia, a cucumber/melon family member) has a lovely complex bitterness that is guaranteed to grow on you.  Besides, it is really good for you.  It is a staple of Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) Medicine and Indians believe that it cleanses your blood, has immune-boosting abilities and anti-malarial properties.  Diabetics drink its juice to reduce their blood sugar levels.

You can think of this preparation as a starter bitter gourd dish because it is deep-fried and the accompanying potatoes cut the bitterness.  Also in a family with mixed tastes, you can eat the bitter gourd while your children chow down on the fried potatoes. As you develop a taste for it, you can graduate to more complex bitter gourd curries or stuffed bitter gourd .




5 small bitter gourds sliced into1/8” coins [try to get the dark green ones (on the right) sold in Indian stores, the pale green stuff in regular groceries stores is more bitter and has a thicker skin].

2 medium sized potatoes, diced (I used Yukon gold)

¼ tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

Oil for deep-frying

Toss the bitter gourd and potatoes with turmeric and salt and set aside for 15 min. Then drain the vegetables in a colander. This extracts some liquid from the bitter gourd and reduces its bitterness. Heat the oil in a thin walled wok till it is smoking.  Then add the bitter gourd and potatoes in batches to the oil (be careful- if you have left too much moisture in the vegetables, the oil could spatter).  Deep fry until the vegetables are browned and cooked through. If you use a cast iron wok, this should only take about 5 min. per batch.  Serve hot as a side with mung dal and rice or any other Indian meal.

Note: Pictures of the raw bitter gourds were taken from Wikipedia (

Posted in Asian, Indian Food, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Blueberry Peach Freezer Jam

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 15, 2010

I love the combination of  blueberries and peaches.  Since it works so well in a pie, I figured that I would try my hand at a peach blueberry freezer jam.  These jams are extremely easy to make and preserve the taste of summer better than anything else I know.   The basic idea is to mix fruit and sugar, then add pectin to it to partially digest and gel the fruit. The next morning, the jam is ready to be eaten or be frozen and hauled out when you need a winter pick me up.

I use Sure Jell as the pectin source and usually follow the recipe on the instruction sheet exactly, but no recipe exists for the peach blueberry combination- so here is what I did:


1 1/4 cup Blueberries

1 1/2 cup Peaches (about 4 large)

4 1/2 Sugar (I used organic cane sugar)

I packet Sure Jell

Peel and coarsely chop the peaches. Wash and drain the blueberries. Pulse the peaches and the blueberries in the food processor till you can only see small bits of fruit.  Add the sugar and mix thoroughly.  Let the mix stand at room temperature, mixing occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved-about 10 min.  Meanwhile, add the Sure jell to 3/4 water in a small saucepan and heat with constant mixing till the mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute and then add the Surejell to the fruit mix.  Stir constantly for 3 minutes until the sure jell is thoroughly incorporated into the fruit. Transfer the jam to clean jars with lids and let the jars sit overnight at room temperature.  The jam is good for about 3 weeks in the fridge and for a year in the freezer. Since the jam goes straight into the freezer or is consumed quickly, there is no need to sterilize the jars or can the jam.

You can use this jam to perk up fruit pies (about 2 tbs per pie) or as a fruit sauce on top of ice cream.  I love this jam on a ritz cracker: its a great pick me up in the evenings just before dinner.

Note: The consistency of freezer jams is always more runny than cooked jams.  This depends to some extent on the ripeness and water content of the fruit you use.  If it is too runny, you can always use your jam as a fruit sauce and for enriching pie fillings.  Alternatively, you can boil it just for a bit to evaporate off some of the liquid.  But I don’t like to do this since the fruit no longer tastes like the gods lobbed it directly into your jam.

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Cherry-Strawberry Clafoutis

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 3, 2010

Saturdays are my day to use up the excess food in my fridge.  This morning I had to contend with the 3 lbs of cherries and some left-over strawberries that N had bought last week.  I decided to try a cherry-strawberry clafoutis (cla foo tee).  A clafoutis, like a buckle or a balzano cake is at that delicious interface between cake and custard that I love. As a result clafoutis recipes occupy the full range from nearly a custard to nearly a cake.  The good news is that the entire spectrum (cake to custard) produces delicious results, no matter which way you tilt.  I intend to try more variations of this breakfast treat/dessert and will continue to update as I settle on what I like best.  The recipe below is only slightly adapted from Simply Recipes.


2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted

½ cup strawberries, stemmed and cut into smallish pieces

2 tablespoons of slivered almonds

3 eggs

1 cup of sugar

2 tbs. butter

½ cup of all-purpose flour, sifted

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of 2% milk

2 tsp almond extract

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Butter and lightly flour a deep pie dish (what I used) or a 9×9 ceramic dish. Toss in the cherries and slivered almonds. In a food processor, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and eggs. Add the milk, almond and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes, cut into wedges and serve (the clafoutis will deflate while cooling).

Posted in baked, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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