Cooking For Others: BGSK’s Spring Break Blowout

EVENT: Spring Break! with BGSK
VENUE: Phoebe’s “Beach Bungalow, “Flatiron
TYPE: Spring Break Buffet
MENU: Fish Tacos; Cilantro-Lime Crema; Cabbage Crunch; Mango Salad; Spicy Black Bean Dip; Mini Pulled Pork Tacos with Fennel Slaw; Tropical Chocolate Bark

With the launch of Small Kitchen College, and students everywhere migrating to tropical locations, we’ve been hankering for a little old-style, cheap-booze kind of fun. We’ve also been doing a lot of party planning for the book, which is now less than two months away, and so to give ourselves a little break (and do a little bit more low-key promotion for the book), we decided to invite over a bunch of editors and bloggers for an at-home Spring Break Bash, BGSK style.

When in doubt, buy bright flowers!

It was a little daunting to invite over so many people whom we know and respect, including one of our all-time favorite bloggers, Cup of Jo. But after Phoebe cleaned her apartment for three hours, set out napkins in every neon color that Party City had to offer, and Cara began mixing these Grapefruit Margaritas in a giant punch bowl, the whole apartment began to look, feel, and smell like Spring Break (minus the wet T-shirt contests).

We cooked up some recipes from the book, including the Fish Taco Buffet, inspired by the Spring Break the two of us spent together in Costa Rica circa 2007, and the dinners we created there in our rented condo’s oven.We also added one of our favorite recipes, Mini Pulled Pork Tacos with Fennel or Red Cabbage Slaw, elegantly tied together with a chive!

But what really brought the whole thing together was the music. Some of it was Bob Marley, some Madonna, but the highlights were thanks to our friend Jennie. Back in 2003, she made us all a Spring Break mix CD after our trip to the Bahamas our senior year in high school. The 50 cent and Britney Spears got everyone in the mood, and the margaritas didn’t hurt either.

From our kitchen, littered with colorful cocktail umbrellas, to yours,



Mini Pulled Pork Tacos with Fennel Slaw
Makes 40-50 tacos

These tacos are great make-ahead finger food. The tortillas hold up fairly well overtime, and rarely get soggy.

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons white wine or cider vinegar
10 large flour tortillas, cut into 4-inch disks
2 cups pulled pork (recipe follows)
1 large bunch chives (50-60)

Note: you can also use 2 cups of thinly sliced red cabbage in place of the fennel.

Combine the fennel, oil, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and vinegar in a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

Arrange the tortilla rounds on a flat work surface. Place 1 tablespoon of pulled pork on each, followed by small forkful of fennel slaw. Carefully tie 1 chive around each tortilla, as you would a ribbon, so the bundle is securely fastened. Repeat with the remaining tacos.

Pulled Pork
Makes 2-3 cups

2.5 pounds pork butt (bone removed)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch cinnamon
2 teaspoons safflower oil
1/2 small jalepeno pepper, seeds discarded, mince
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cilantro stems, minced
1/2 chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo, minced, plus 1-2 teaspoons of adobo sauce from the can
3/4 cup good barbecue sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock

Combine the sugar and the 3 tablespooons of kosher salt. Rub all over the pork, then put in a non-reactive bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight (at least 6 hours).

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the chili powder, cumin, coriander, brown sugar, cayenne, and cinnamon. Take the pork out of the fridge and discard the juices. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork.

Line a roasting pan with two layers of foil. Place the pork in the pan and roast for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, basting the butt with the fat from the pan every hour. (Turn your fan on and open your windows: your apartment will smell strongly of pork.) When the pork is very tender and the crust is crispy but not too hard, remove from the oven.

Let the pork cool slightly, then use two forks to shred the meat. If any of the crusty outside is too hard to shred, chop it with a knife. You can make this several days in advance.

To make the sauce, heat the oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro stems, and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the chipotle and the barbecue sauce and let simmer for a moment. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, about 10 minutes until the sauce is thickened but not as thick as the original barbecue sauce.

Warm the pork, then add the sauce by the tablespoon until it is sauced to your taste.

Tropical Chocolate Bark
Makes 30-40 pieces of bark

1.5 pounds good-quality milk chocolate
1 1/2 cups mixed dried tropical fruit, such as papaya, pineapple, and mango, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut chips
1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped salted cashews
4 ounces good-quality white chocolate (should contain cocoa butter)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in 20-second intervals in the microwave. You want it to be just melted—don’t let it bubble or burn. As it’s melting, stir it occasionally with a heatproof spatula.

Remove the chocolate from the microwave or the heat, and add the nuts and cherries or the pretzels and toffee bits. Stir to distribute.

Pour the mixture onto two parchment-lined cookie sheets, and spread it evenly with a spatula. Put the sheets in the freezer and let the bark sit until hardened. This should take about 1 hour. If you don’t have room for both pans in the freezer, place them in the fridge—they will just take a bit longer to harden.

Melt the white chocolate until just melted. Using a fork, flick white chocolate across the surface of the bark as if you’re Jackson Pollack. Return to the freezer to harden.

Using your hands or a knife, break the bark into bite-size pieces. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

  • Anonymous

    How fun! I am reading this is in a supposedly tropical climate where it is 40 degrees and raining. Next year I am coming to your place for a proper spring break! :)

  • Frankie

    Those tacos are so beautiful – from a distance they look like flowers.

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