Thursday, April 29, 2010

Listen My Children and You Shall Hear of a Colonial Drink That Brings Good Cheer: Raspberry Rum Shrub

Shrub?

Isn't that a bush?

Yes, unless you are talking about a refreshing drink from before sodas were the order of the day.

Slow Food USA tells us:
Shrub is a colonial-day drink whose name is derived from the Arabic word sharab, to drink. It is a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar, and sugar that is traditionally mixed with water to create a refreshing drink that is simultaneously tart and sweet. In the nineteenth-century, the drink was often spiked brandy or rum. Ubiquitous in colonial times, the use of shrubs as a flavoring for tonic and sodas subsided with increasing industrial production of foods.
Reading Eric Felton's entertaining and informative book, How's Your Drink?: Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well, I came across his recipe for a Raspberry Rum Shrub. I remembered having seen similar recipes as curiosities in old cookbooks and the vinegar was offputting to my mental palate. Until, that is, I remembered lemonade with its sweet-tart combination that was diluted by water and ice to make a refreshing summer drink.

Ah ha!

Suddenly a shrub beverage was recategorized mentally and I was interested. Especially when considering it as something that would stand up to dark rum.

This was an easy recipe and yielded a lot of syrup. Felten points out, for those who do not want to make the syrup or who want different flavors, that Tait Farm Foods provides ready made shrub syrups in many flavors. They also have recipe booklets I noticed when stopping by their website which may come in handy when trying to figure out what to do with all this Raspberry Shrub syrup. Although, honestly, I like its flavor so well I can dip it out on a spoon. Mmmmm....

I might add here that the Raspberry Rum Shrub, which we made with ginger ale, got two thumbs up.

Here's the recipe for those who want to give it a try.

Raspberry Rum Shrub
1 ounce raspberry shrub syrup
2 ounces dark rum
4 ounces ginger ale or soda water

Build with ice in a stemmed goblet (I used wine glasses), and stir. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Raspberry Shrub Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 pints raspberries
2 cups white wine vinegar

Whisk water and sugar together at a boil. Reduce heat for a few minutes and add raspberries, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add vinegar and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Strain, cool, and bottle. Keep refrigerated (even if the Founding Shrubbers didn't).

(Recipe courtesy of Walter Staib, Chef of Philadelphia's City Taverns.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lomo de Cerdo en Chile Verde (Loin of Pork in Green Chile Sauce)

My mother had been asking if I had Dad's green pork recipe copied down. Sadly no, but I am sure it's genesis was in Elisabeth Ortiz's original The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking. This is from waaay back in the day ... wait for it ... 1967. Yet it is fascinating to look at how authentic the results were that Ortiz communicated in her recipes using canned tomatillos and jalapenos. In fact, looking up the recipe, I was seized with the desire for green pork and also seized with curiosity about making it old-school Ortiz style.

I remembered when I was in the store and saw a pork roast on sale. Then I ran all over the store picking up the ingredients. Turns out this is not actually the recipe my parents favored. (They used the recipe under this one which I may actually get around to sharing one of these days.) They never had access to nopalitos. I actually saw some and threw them in. Not that I could see any difference ... but I was in an experimental mood and going for matching the recipe's requirements.

This was absolutely delicious. We scooped it into flour tortillas. Mmmmm ...

These days pork is not what it was then and I'd use a pork shoulder, though my roast did very well. Also, my ... ahem ... handful of cilantro is actually an entire bunch. What can I say? I'm a fan.

Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz did update her book (The New Complete Book of Mexican Cooking) and making this recipe made me curious as I am sure she now uses fresh tomatillos and the like. I have requested it from the library.

Lomo de Cerdo en Chile Verde
Loin of Pork in Green Chile Sauce

2 tablespoons lard or oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 pounds boneless loin of pork, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 10-ounce cans Mexican green tomatoes [tomatillos]
Handful of fresh coriander [cilantro], chopped
3 canned mild jalapeno chiles, cut into strips
1 8-ounce can nopalitos (cactus pieces), rinsed well
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Heat the lard or oil in a skillet, and saute the onion and garlic until limp. Drain, and place in the bottom of a heavy, flame-proof casserole that has a cover. Add the pork, tomatoes with all their liquid, coriander, chiles, and the nopalitos. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover; and simmer over a low heat until the pork can be pierced easily with a fork, or about 2 hours. Serves 6.