Bumbleberry Pastries

Bumbleberry…. an interesting word used to describe a Canadian mixed berry combination originating from the Maritime provinces. Since there is no such thing as a ‘bumbleberry’, as the name suggests, it is simply a mixture of berries that are in season (ones that you might ‘bumble’ upon).

Berries commonly used in this pie may include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Other choices often used are apples, rhubarb, cherries, plums or fresh cranberries.

The bumbleberry concept has been used in various recipes such as cakes, crisps, soufflés or even in tiramisu. The most well known being the bumbleberry pie.

To make use of some bumbleberry filling I had leftover from a previous dessert, I made some quick little puff pastries …. worked out good!

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Bumbleberry Pastries
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Cuisine American
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Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine fruit. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cornstarch & cinnamon. Gently toss into fruit mixture along with lemon juice.
  3. Cut thawed, cold puff pastry sheets into circles or squares (your choice). Put a spoonful of filling in the center of each & bring the corners together enclosing the filling. Place pastries on baking sheet & sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  4. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
Recipe Notes
  • This amount of filling is enough for a large deep dish 9-inch pie. It can be easily halved for a small amount of pastries if you wish.

Rum & Raisin Hot Cross Buns

The ultimate Easter bun! Who doesn’t love hot cross buns?! Given the baked good’s long history, legends and superstitions have had ample time to develop and grow around them.

Hot cross buns are inseparably linked to Easter and to Christianity. But in reality, they probably have pre-Christian origins. Cross buns were baked to celebrate ‘Eostre’, the Germanic Goddess after which the season of Easter is said to be named.

Over the years, the bun has evolved and changed. Victorian recipes suggest various glazes to top the bun with after baking, including molasses or a honey/turmeric combo. The buns have become spicier too, with the addition of mace, caraway seeds and even coriander.

While some hot cross buns appear on grocery and bakery shelves as early as New Year’s Day, the sweet bun is usually associated with the end of Lent.

Every year I like to try and make a different version of these traditional, seasonal treats. This year I’m going with a ‘rum raisin‘ idea. Should be good!

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Rum & Raisin Hot Cross Buns
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BUNS
Ingredients
Rum/Raisin filling
Bun Dough
Cream Cheese Filling
Egg Wash
Rum Glaze
Cross Paste
Servings
BUNS
Ingredients
Rum/Raisin filling
Bun Dough
Cream Cheese Filling
Egg Wash
Rum Glaze
Cross Paste
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Instructions
Rum & Raisin Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine raisins, warm rum & sugar. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to sit for at least 40 minutes. Strain, discarding liquid.
Bun Dough
  1. In a large bowl, combine lukewarm milk, yeast & 1/4 cup sugar. Let stand until mixture is frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together 5 1/3 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice. When yeast mixture is ready, add half of the flour mixture to it, beating until just combined. Beat in melted butter, eggs & rum/raisin mixture. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, kneading until smooth dough forms. Add remaining 1/3 cup flour if needed as the dough should not be sticky.
  3. Grease a large bowl, place the dough in it& turn to grease top. Loosely cover & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Cream Cheese Filling (Balls)
  1. In a shallow dish, combine sugar & cinnamon. Cut cream cheese into 12 cubes. Roll each into a ball shape then roll them in the cinnamon sugar, coating evenly. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Place a cream cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough, pinching to seal seam. Roll each piece of dough into a ball & place in PARCHMENT lined muffin cups. Cover & let stand in a warm, draft-free place for about 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. In a small dish, whisk together egg & a Tbsp milk. When buns are ready to bake, brush with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. While the are baking prepare RUM GLAZE & CROSS PASTE.
Rum Glaze & Cross Paste
  1. In a small saucepan, place water, spiced rum & sugar. Over medium heat, bring ingredients to a simmer & allow to bubble gently for 3-5 minutes. The volume of the mixture should drop by at least half. Remove from heat & set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a small dish, whisk together cornstarch, flour, sugar & water until a thick paste forms. You want your paste to be stiff enough to be able to pipe in a clean line, but still manageable.
Finishing Touches
  1. Brush warm rolls with rum glaze & allow to cool. Using a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip, pipe paste over top of buns to form a cross.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer, don't hesitate to make these buns without the cream cheese inside. I'm sure they will be just as good --- they're hot cross buns!!

Fig Bread

Today, March 28th, marks the date of my mothers birth. Although she left this earth 43 years ago, her memory remains crystal clear. She was a wonderful mother who made our lives so much better in ways we never realized. She set a good example just by the way she lived the ‘best version of herself’.

When this date rolls around each year, I like to post something on the blog that I think she would have enjoyed to make. Baking was a ‘job’ she really seemed to enjoy and our family certainly reaped the benefits of that.

Since Easter is only a week away, I thought a fig bread would be nice. Fruit appears in myths from around the world with figs being regarded as a sacred symbol by many.

Velvety soft on the outside with sweet crimson flesh within, the fig is a captivating food. Widespread and abundant throughout the Mediterranean region, figs have been eaten fresh and dried for storage for thousands of years. The fig found its way to America with Spanish missionaries who brought the fruit to Southern California (USA), in the 1700’s. The variety became known as ‘Mission’ figs.

Easter and Good Friday inspire a particularly rich array of decorative breads and buns that make some of the nicest edible centerpieces.

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Fig Bread Wreath
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword Fig bread
Servings
Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword Fig bread
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 tsp sugar & warm milk. Set aside for about 5 minutes until frothy
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, remaining sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & egg. Knead until dough comes together in a ball & no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a greased bowl & cover with a tea towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Fig Filling
  1. Coarsely chop figs. In a bowl, cream together butter, sugar, cinnamon & cardamom; add figs. Stir to combine & set aside.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Fit a piece of parchment paper to cover bottom & sides of a 10-inch round springform baking pan. Deflate dough & divide into 6 parts. One small part of the dough will be used to for the middle. Roll out in a round circle & place a scoop of filling in the center. Pull sides up around filling & pinch together. Place the 'bun' in the middle of the pan, seam down. Roll out another small piece of the dough into a circle. Cut it into parallel strips then place strips over bun in a weave pattern.
  2. Next roll each of the remaining 4 strips into long rectangles (about 6" x 16" each). Divide filling between 2 of the strips, placing a row down the center of each one. Bring sides together over filling & pinch to seal.
  3. Lay one filled strip over each of the 2 remaining rectangles of pastry (seam side down). Cut angled strips on either side of filled pastry. Using these strips, form a braid over top.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer braids to baking pan forming 2 circles around the center ball. Beat egg wash together & brush over surface of bread wreath. Allow to rise for about 15 minutes in a draft-free place.
  5. Bake until golden brown about 30 minutes. Remove from oven & place on a wire rack to cool.
Cream Cheese Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, butter, vanilla & powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle or pipe over fig bread. Decorate with fresh figs if desired.

Roasted Tropical Fruit Tarts

If you can’t have a tropical vacation at this time, why not enjoy some of the tropics in the form of dessert!

You may never have thought fruits were destined for you’re roasting pan. Although it does demand a bit of time and work, the return is worth it. Try it once and you will do it over and over again.

Fruit is a highly versatile item and its uses go far beyond a mere snack. During the summer months, grilled fruit is often a tasty end to a barbeque. Grilling caramelizes the fruits natural sugars and brings out the sweetness. During winter or colder months, continue the same process indoors by roasting and broiling fruit in the oven.

For the tarts on this blog, I roasted the fruit in the oven with a bit of extra butter and brown sugar as well as some spices to enhance the flavor. Another idea would be to arrange fruit slices on the filled tarts and sprinkle them with a bit of sugar. Then place tarts under the broiler until sugar bubbles and browns …. your choice!

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Roasted Tropical Fruit Tarts
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Shortbread Pastry
Vanilla Cream Custard
Roasted Tropical Fruit
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Pastry
Vanilla Cream Custard
Roasted Tropical Fruit
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Instructions
Shortbread Pastry
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl combine butter & sugar, beat until light & fluffy. In another bowl whisk together flour & baking powder & add to butter/sugar mixture. Blend together.
  3. Divide pastry between 6 individual tart pans. Using your fingertips, evenly press the dough into pans. Place on a baking sheet & blind bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & prepare custard & fruit.
Vanilla Cream Custard
  1. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch & salt. Add egg; whisk until blended.
  2. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Return to same saucepan; whisk over medium heat until sauce thickens & boils, about 5 minutes. Whisk in vanilla & remove from heat to cool.
Roasted Tropical Fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Peel & thinly slice fruit.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter & add brown sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom & vanilla; mix well.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil paper. Place sliced fruit on it & pour butter/sugar mixture over it. Gently turn fruit over to make sure all is evenly coated.
  4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, flipping over about half way through. The fruit is done when it turns a rich golden & begins to brown BEFORE it starts to blacken.
Assembly
  1. Place pastry shells on a serving platter. Divide vanilla custard between tart shells. Top with roasted tropical fruit & serve. Any extra fruit can be enjoyed just as a dish of fruit or with yogurt.

Chewy Raspberry Apple Granola Bars

When I think of granola bars, the thin slabs of oats and honey of the 1970’s come to mind. What began as a ‘hippie’ craze gradually morphed into decadence with bars including chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, corn syrup and marshmallows. Great tasting but hardly healthy would you say!

The basic recipe often starts with old-fashioned rolled oats and a sweetener that acts as a binder. Honey seems to be a popular choice but other options include brown rice or maple syrup.

Flaked coconut is popular but not being a coconut lover, I opt for coconut oil instead. When it comes to nuts, along with nutrition they provide crunch. If you notice this recipe does not include them, its not for any other reason except that a nut allergy plaques me. Definitely add them if you can.

Customization comes to the forefront in your choice of dried or frozen fruit. Some choices might be dried dates, apricots, cranberries, pineapple or mango.

These bars make a nice breakfast treat or snack option, not to mention the word ‘healthy’.

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Chewy Raspberry Apple Granola Bars
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BARS
Servings
BARS
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking pan with a nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oil & applesauce until smooth. Mix in milk, honey & cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Stir in the oats until evenly coated with the applesauce mixture. Gently fold in the raspberries.
  3. Press the oat mixture into the prepared pan & bake for 16-19 minutes. Cool completely to room temperature in the pan before slicing into 10 bars.

Cuban Sugar Cookies w/ Guava & Lime

In a country where sugar has historically represented both the agricultural and industrial goals, desserts are found everywhere. Generally they are very simple, made mainly with fruit and sugar.

Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. It differs from other Latin American cuisines and has almost nothing in common with Mexican cuisine. Cuban recipes tend to share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. A small, but noteworthy, Chinese influence can be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area.

The fact that most Cuban desserts are extremely sweet (usually fruits and sugar are in equal quantities) has inspired the custom of eating them along with salted or cream cheese to help offset the sweetness.

The use of the lime and rum flavor in these cookies makes their taste distinctly Cuban. Brings back memories from a past vacation we spent in Cuba.

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Cuban Sugar Cookies w/ Guava & Lime
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Course dessert
Cuisine Cuban
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Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine Cuban
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon & salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugar with a mixer until light. Beat in lime zest & egg followed by lime juice & rum. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work, until it comes together.
  4. Divide dough into three portions, wrapping 2 in plastic wrap & place in refrigerator while you are working on the first piece.
  5. Place the first piece on a lightly floured surface & roll out to 1/3-inch thickness. Using a lightly floured 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of the dough. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Cut pieces of guava paste into dime-sized circles or squares ( depending on what shape your guava paste comes in), making each approximately 1/4-inch thick. Lightly press one piece into the top of each cookie.
  7. Bake for 13-16 minutes, until cookies are light gold at the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you wish you can dust the cookies with powdered sugar.
Recipe Notes
  • As an alternate idea, assemble them similar to a 'linzer' cookie. Roll half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness; cut with a circular (more decorative) cookie cutter. Repeat with remaining dough but cut small circles in the center of these.
  • On top of each plain cookie, place one with a hole in it. Press a guava 'circle' in the hole & sprinkle with a few chopped pistachios if you wish. 
  • I used this method for the blog picture. Same cookie just a bit fancier.

Vintage Chocolate Potato Cake

The vegetable cake idea is really not so strange if you consider that most of these dense moist cakes are either spice or chocolate. Who would guess that ‘vegetables’ would be lurking within?

When you think of how many veggies we have incorporated into our desserts, its amazing. Carrot cake is hardly novel having been around for decades but there is also beet torte, zucchini chocolate cake, sweet potato cake or the delicious chocolate sauerkraut cake just to name a few.

The popular chocolate potato cake recipe goes back to the early 1800’s, so its likely the oldest of them all. Like buttermilk, mashed potatoes make baked goods taste better, perhaps because both have the effect of making the cake crumb more tender.

It seems the humble potato is like a blank canvas and wears every role its put in with equal flair. This is a moist, rich cake so icing is purely optional.

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Vintage Chocolate Potato Cake
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Servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9-inch round cake pan or a 12 cup muffin pan & line the base with parchment paper or paper cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, oil & eggs then potatoes.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom & salt. Alternately add dry ingredients & the buttermilk to the egg mixture, beginning & ending with the dry ingredients; stirring with a spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top springs back when touched lightly, 30-35 minutes.
  5. Invert the cake onto a rack & allow to cool thoroughly. Transfer to a plate & dust with powdered sugar if you wish.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to add either some nuts or raisins for some extra flavor.

Oatmeal Mincemeat Cookies

I confess to being a bit ‘old school’ when it comes to mincemeat. When I was a kid, it was always closely related to Christmas baking. Generations past made it with beef suet, but the only kind I’ve ever known is the ‘all-fruit variety’.

I realize its simple to make but there are so many fantastic mincemeats you can purchase ready made that are just as good if not better than homemade.

My favorite, is one I have used for years, PC Suet-Free 5 Minced Fruits Mincemeat. It contains apples, raisins, currants, orange & lemon peel, rum, brandy and molasses as well as a number of different spices. I like to add a bit more apple, nuts and lemon juice to it for my own personal taste.

Mincemeat is very versatile so there’s no need to limit your repertoire to tarts or pie. Swap the traditional date filling with mincemeat in any date square or use it in Christmas cake. It makes the prep work far easier and has similar flavors and a finer, cakier texture. Of course there are always muffins, cookies or an apple-cranberry mincemeat crumble.

I know that mincemeat is not for everyone but the combination of oatmeal and mincemeat makes these ‘retro’ cookies pretty tasty.

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Oatmeal Mincemeat Cookies
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Ingredients
Cookies
Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Cookies
Filling
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Instructions
Cookies
  1. In a bowl, cream butter & sugars; add egg & rum extract.
  2. In another bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda & cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture & combine well. Place cookie dough in refrigerator to chill, (about 30 minutes) while you prepare the filling.
Filling
  1. Peel & chop apples. Chop nuts. Spoon jar of mincemeat into a bowl & combine with apples, nuts & lemon juice.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll chilled cookie dough into generous 1-inch size balls. Place on cookie sheets making sure to give them some room to spread a bit. Press your thumb down in the center making a dent big enough to hold a generous teaspoon of filling. Divide filling between cookies.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

It doesn’t have to be fall to crave something pumpkin. It’s still a bit early for Halloween jack-o-lanterns but not too early for some pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

This recipe builds on the traditional cinnamon roll, but adds the magic of pumpkin and fall spices. The dough is more subtle, moist and not too sweet in taste. With the addition of pumpkin to the dough, it adds a nice vibrant orange color. The filling is the classic pumpkin pie spice mix, blended with butter and sugar. What makes the buns even more special is they are then ‘baked‘ in the spiced ‘sauce’ mixture. Last but not least, topped with some whole pumpkin seeds, adds a delicate crunchy texture.

Pumpkin, like zucchini, seem to grow in abundance so it is always nice when they can be used in either sweet or savory recipes.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns
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BUNS
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
Servings
BUNS
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add yeast, lukewarm water & 1 tsp sugar. Allow to sit about 10 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, butter, salt, cinnamon, eggs & pumpkin puree. Mix well. Add flour, one cup at a time, until well combined. Knead dough for about 8-10 minutes or until smooth & soft. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  3. While the buns are rising, place sauce ingredients (except pumpkin seeds), in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, while whisking, until sugar has dissolved & ingredients are combined. Remove from heat & set aside to cool for a few minutes while you are preparing the buns.
  4. In a small dish, combine filling ingredients, set aside.
  5. LIGHTLY butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; roll out into a rectangle (about 12"x 18"), approximately 1/2-inch thickness. Spread the melted butter across the rolled out dough leaving 1/2-inch around the top edge. Sprinkle filling mixture over butter. Roll up tightly lengthwise towards the top edge. Using a sharp knife (or a string), cut dough into 12 slices. Place in prepared pan. Pour cooled sauce evenly over buns. You can reserve a bit for drizzling on top after they are baked if you wish.
  6. Cover the buns with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; allow to rest for a few minutes then drizzle with remaining sauce & sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
Recipe Notes
  • Once the sauce is cooked & cooled, you can blend with a mixer or blender to keep it from separating if you wish.

Pulled Pork w/ Roasted Rhubarb Sauce

Slow cooked meat is definitely not a new thing. Truly authentic pulled pork is actually a barbecue dish, cooked for hours over a charcoal pit until it falls apart, ready to be easily shredded or ‘pulled’ apart to serve.

I’m sure most of us have attended a classic Hawaiian Luau at one time or another in our lives. The main course of this Hawaiian feast is always the ‘kalua’ roast pork. Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an ‘Imu’, a type of underground steam oven.

My experience, was that it was definitely pull-apart tender but far too greasy for my liking. It has taken a lot of years for me to want to make even a North American version of this pulled pork idea. To my surprise, it didn’t turn out greasy and was pretty tasty.

The idea that it has to be roasted in an outdoor pit is really not true. It can be made easily in a standard domestic oven. Of course the seasonings, temperatures and serving methods are all open to debate.

Pork shoulder is ideal for pulling purposes, either bone-in or boneless. It has an optimum fat content that yields to create tender, ‘melty‘ meat, but its essential to cook it slowly to allow the protein to break down properly. Using a dry rub will also help create tenderness and flavor.

There are numerous ways you can serve pulled pork such as on some fresh brioche buns, with cornbread or in tacos. We are going to have ours in corn tortillas with some kohlrabi coleslaw and roasted rhubarb sauce.

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Pulled Pork w/ Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
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Instructions
Pork Shoulder
  1. Drizzle pork with 2 Tbsp of oil; sprinkle with spices & orange zest & rub into meat. Place in a plastic zip-lock bag & refrigerate overnight (about 24 hours).
  2. Bring meat to room temperature. Preheat oven to 275 F. Place meat in a roasting pan & bake until thickest part registers 170 F. on a meat thermometer. Basically, roast until it's falling apart. Remove roast from oven & transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks & 'pull' the meat to form shreds. Keep warm until ready to assemble tortillas.
Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
  1. Prepare sauce on the day you START to marinate meat.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & spray generously with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place chopped rhubarb & garlic cloves on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft.
  4. Transfer the rhubarb & garlic to a food processor or blender. Puree with one cup of water until smooth.
  5. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients & mix well. Add additional water, as needed, until sauce is desired consistency.
  6. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cool before pouring into a small glass pitcher. Refrigerate any leftovers when meal is finished.
Kohlrabi Coleslaw
  1. Prepare dressing in a screw-top jar; combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt & pepper. Cover & shake well. In a bowl, combine kohlrabi & carrots; drizzle with dressing.
Assembly
  1. During the roasting time of the meat, prepare kohlrabi coleslaw. When everything is ready, lay out warm tortillas, top with coleslaw & pulled pork shreds. Drizzle with prepared rhubarb sauce. Fold or roll tortilla & enjoy!
Recipe Notes
  • Instead of drizzling the rhubarb sauce, you can put your shredded pork in a bowl with some rhubarb sauce & combine. I find that distributes the sauce more evenly ... just a personal preference.