Pork Shoulder Roasted with Citrus Mojo

After making some salsas as of late, and pulling out the Twin Cities Chef’s Table cookbook to throw together the Crusher Cookies, I was flipping through it and one recipe caught my eye.  This recipe for Brasa’s Pork Shoulder Roasted with Citrus Mojo looked ideal for a week when I had evening commitments and could eat on this recipe over and over.  The cookbook is a collection of recipes from different restaurants in the Twin Cities, this one from Brasa.  Click on the website and tell me you don’t want to go there today to eat.

Pork Shoulder Roasted with Citrus Mojo

Brasa’s Pork Shoulder Roasted with Citrus Mojo

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c minced onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 c fresh lemon juice
1 c fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5 lb bone-in pork shoulder

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the lemon and orange juices and simmer for 2 minutes.  Stir in the vinegar.  Transfer half of the mojo to a blender and let cool.  Refrigerate the remaining mojo.

Meanwhile, in a jar, shake together the garlic and onion powders, pepper, and cumin.  Add 2 tablespoons of this dry rub to the mojo in the blender, reserve the remaining rub.  Add Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon salt to the blender and puree until smooth.

Put the pork in a sealable 1-gallon plastic bag and pour in the marinade.  Press as much air as you can from the bag and seal.  Refrigerate pork for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.  Bring the pork to room temperature before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack in a roasting pan large enough to hold the pork.  Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.  Rub the meat all over with the remaining dry rub and transfer pork to the rack.  Roast pork for 3 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees.  Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees and roast the meat for approximately 3 hours longer, until very tender and an instant-read thermometer reads 180 degrees.  Remove the roast from the oven and cover with foil; let rest for 30 minutes.

Shred the meat, discarding the bones and excess fat.  Season pork with salt and pepper.  Serve with the remaining mojo.

Salt-Roasted Turkey with Lemon and Oregano

As has often been the case in recent years, I hosted Thanksgiving for our family this year.  My parents and sister came to dine at my house, while my other sister, brother-in-law, and their kids remained in Ohio.  I was trying to figure out how to make my turkey and came across this recipe from the November 2010 Bon Appetit magazine that I had clipped six years ago and decided to try it out.

I ordered a fresh turkey for the first time, from New Pioneer Food Co-op, and in the style of our family, I did the dry-brining on the Monday before Thanksgiving and cooked it on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving so that we didn’t have to deal with the carving and mess of the turkey on the table the day-of.  Plus, I was able to put together a stock on Wednesday with which to make my gravy.

Salt-Roasted Turkey with Lemon and Oregano.jpg

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Citrus Dressing

I’ve decided that part of what will be helpful in continuing to cook, and part of what I have hoped to do, is invite a few staff members over for dinner.  This week, I started with one colleague, her husband, and their daughter.  As I was putting the menu together, I decided to make a few things I had wanted to try making.  In addition to some sausage burgers that will be coming up, I made these Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Citrus Dressing, from the Make it Paleo II cookbook.

These may be the best sweet potatoes I’ve made recently.  Seriously. I think everyone should follow this recipe.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Citrus Dressing

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Citrus Dressing

3 large sweet potatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp sea salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Citrus dressing:

Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c olive oil
2 Tbsp water
pinch sea salt and black pepper
2 tsp sugar
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1 tsp fresh chives
1/4 medium shallot, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces.  Spread the sweet potato pieces evenly over a large-rimmed baking sheet lightly greased with coconut oil.  Toss with the melted coconut oil and season with salt.  Roast for 40 minutes, or until fork-tender, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure they cook evenly and to prevent burning.

While potatoes are roasting, making the dressing.  Combine lemon juice, olive oil, water, salt, and pepper, whisking to blend the oil and acid together.  Add the sugar and whisk again until it has dissolved.  Add the cilantro, chives, and shallot and whisk again to combine all the ingredients.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Pour the dressing over the potatoes and carefully mix to coat the potatoes evenly in the dressing.  Sprinkle the lemon zest over and stir.

Celery and Parmesan Salad

Last August, our family got together to celebrate the impending marriage for one of my cousins.  As we were sitting around and enjoying the potluck food, we were enjoying some family favorites and especially enjoying a salad one of my cousins brought to the gathering.  It’s a recipe that I don’t think would have jumped out to me had I been looking for it, but since I had it, it was great.  Since August, I’ve been looking for my own chance to make the salad.  When we came back to work, we decided to have a potluck while the dining room was still closed and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the recipe.  The original recipe is from Ina Garten’s How Easy is That? cookbook and is the first in my January resolution to cook the book.  You can see other recipes I’m hoping to cook by checking out my ongoing list of 2016 Recipes to Cook page.

Celery and Parmesan Salad

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Lemon Cake with Raspberries

Continuing with my theme of recipes I have cooked recently, today I’m posting about the dessert I made the other day when the orientation staff came for dinner.  After the Creamy Gorgonzola Pasta and Bread with Raspberry Rosemary Honey Butter, we continued with the raspberries which are in season right now and tasty everywhere I’ve had them.  They might be entering my list of favorite foods.  Can I also just mention how much I’m liking cooking right now?  But that might be an avoidance of my comps.  They’re due on Thursday and I’m making the progress I want to be making…so we won’t worry too much about that.

For dessert, I made Lemon Cake with Raspberries and Pistachios, which I found on epicurious.  I do promise, however, that there will be a few recipes coming up from cookbooks soon, because I’m making an effort to cook out of those again as well.  Mostly I was looking for a dessert I hadn’t made with raspberries in it.  I didn’t want to can or freeze my raspberries, so I’ve been trying to cook with them and find different ways to use them.  This was a pretty effective way to do so.

I will note, however, that more and more I am recognizing how poor the lighting is in my kitchen.  I need to figure out how to improve that moving forward.

I’m not going to write much here because I need to get back to my comps manuscript, so here’s the recipe:

lemon cake with raspberries


Lemon Cake with Raspberries and Pistachios

Lemon Cake with RaspberriesNonstick spray
1 ¾ c flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 ¼ c plus 2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp plus ¼ c lemon juice
¾ c olive oil
1 c fresh raspberries
3 Tbsp chopped unsalted, raw pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9” diameter cake pan with nonstick spray.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  With mixer running, add vanilla and 1 Tbsp lemon juice, then gradually add oil, mixing until combined.  Fold in lemon zest and dry ingredients.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Scatter berries over cake, then pistachios and 2 Tbsp sugar.  Bake cake until a tester comes out clean, 45-55 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring remaining ¼ c sugar and remaining ¼ c lemon juice to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar; let lemon syrup cool.

Transfer hot cake (still in pan) to a wire rack and immediately brush with lemon syrup (use all of it).  Let cake cool completely in pan.

Can be made up to 2 days ahead.  Store wrapped tightly at room temperature.

Lemon Bars

I made Lemon Bars a couple weeks ago for the first time.  I know I’ve gotten great Lemon Bar recipes a few times before, but I have yet to make them myself.  In thinking about some great, refreshing alternatives for the Baptism in this hot, humid summer, it seemed like Lemon Bars might be the perfect fit.

Always in search of the perfect Lemon Bar recipes, I dug out the Minnesota Catholic Daughters Cookbook.  While I am not, nor is anyone in my family a member of the Catholic Daughters, we have always loved their cookbooks.  When I moved out and started doing my own cooking, it was one of the first essential cookbooks to get.  I imagine there will be an equally great one here in Iowa.  Do you have a church or local cookbook that is an essential in your mind?

Anyways, back to the lemon bars.  I chose Marianne Kosel’s Lemon Bar recipe, because she labeled it the “Best Lemon Bars Ever,” which I agree with, but I believe the recipe may have been missing an ingredient in the filling.  I made them and when I poured the filling on, it seemed to be so thin.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  So, I baked them and tested it.  I wasn’t pleased with the results and looked at a few other recipes.  After checking things out, I decided to add 2 cups of sugar to the filling and was much more pleased with the results.  With this in mind, here is the recipe with one small edit.

Best Lemon Bars Ever


2 c flour
1 c powdered sugar
1 c butter


4 eggs, beaten
8 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 c sugar

Mix crust ingredients by fork. Put in a 9×13 ungreased pan.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Mix filling and spread over crust.  Return to oven and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, taking care not to overbake.  When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.