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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out – well, I hope that’s not wishful thinking. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers. It tells a detailed chronology of its inception, and all the various  parts that had to come together every day, three meals a day, plus some, to make a mammoth food machine run. I have no background in the restaurant biz, but found the story very interesting. Would make a great gift.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius, held captive in a woe begotten prison. It’s about Jewish history, about relationships, and certainly a lot about the starvation and mistreatment (and many died there) of this boat load of people who never should have been sent there. So very sad, but it has bright and hopeful moments toward the end when many of them finally made it to Tel Aviv, their original destination.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then become something else. There is graphic detail here (was it really necessary? not sure of the answer) so if you don’t like that sort of thing, you might want to pass on this – or else skip by those details when you read it. Women have been victims in so many ways for so many centuries, and it’s hard to read that it’s still a common thing in today’s society.

Barbara Delinsky writes current day fiction. Coast Road is really sweet story. Jack (ex-husband) is called away from his career to care for his two daughters when his ex (Rachel) has an accident and is in a coma. Over the course of weeks, he spends time with his daughters (he was an occasional dad). He also spends a lot of time at his ex’s bedside, getting to know her friends. Through them he learns what went wrong in their marriage. I don’t want to spoil the story. I liked it a lot.

Christina Baker Kline has written quite a story about Tasmania. You may, or may not, remember that my DH and I visited Tasmania about 10 years ago (loved it) and having read a lot about Botany Bay and the thousands of criminal exiles from Britain who were shipped there as slave labor in the 1800s. This book tells a different story. The Exiles: A Novel. This one mostly from a few women who were sentenced to Tasmania. There is plenty of cruelty on several fronts, but there is also kindness and salvation for some. Really good read.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Marion Kummerow wrote an amazing WWII novel. Not Without My Sister. If you don’t like concentration camp stories, pass on this one, but it’s very riveting, much of it at Bergen-Belsen. Two sisters (17 and 4) are separated at the camp. The story switches back and forth between the two sisters’ situations, and yes, the horror of the camp(s), the starvation, the cruelty. But, even though I’m giving away the ending . . . they do get back together again. The story is all about the in between times. Excellent book.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping. This book is about a young man, who is a young father also, loses his beloved wife. He’s barely functioning, trying to get through a day, taking care of his young son. And visiting the cemetery (the one in Montmartre, Paris). There are several peripheral characters (his son, a neighbor and best friend of his departed wife, a good fellow friend too, plus a young woman he befriends at the cemetery). Before his wife’s death she asks him to write 33 letters to her after she’s gone, and to put them in a special box hidden in the cemetery monument. And that begins the story.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

As you’ve read here many times, I marvel at authors who come up with unusual premises for their books. This one Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding. And yes, it IS somewhat about Grace Kelly’s wedding, but most of the novel is about a young woman perfume designer, Sophie, who accidentally rescues Grace Kelly from the relentless photographers who hound her every move.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Packs up and leaves.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Pork, on February 28th, 2021.

 

risotto_ital_saus_leeks_corn

Yes, I am giving you a recipe, but this post is also about today, mid-to-late Covid time.

On Wednesday last week I finally had my 2nd Covid-19 vaccine. Until I received the confirmation of my appointment, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen because California (and other states) experienced a shortage of serum because of the awful weather. Understandable. I won’t bore you with the details of the vaccine appointment (long, tedious lines, parking issues, awful) but the side effects hit me like a brick about 7 hours afterwards. I had a very hard night, little sleep, with body aches and pains like I’ve never experienced in my life. Headache too, and chills/shivering. Crazy. The next morning I took Tylenol and that helped, but I was not feeling good all day. Even the following day was not normal, either. Still had aching in my back and neck and general malaise. But about 4pm (this is 2 days post-vaccine) my world brightened. I could see the sun shine. I was back to the land of the living. I was rejuvenated, ALIVE! What a transformation!

Starting about a week ago I couldn’t stand it anymore, not going grocery shopping, so I’ve been visiting my local markets when needed. And yes, of course, I’m masking, even double masking sometimes. What a joy it has been to realize that if I need to go buy a leek, I can go buy a leek, and not wait until I do my once a week online shopping (that needed to reach $50 in order to be free of an extra fee). What I feel is liberated – from this long year of quarantining, from living indoors nearly every day of the week, week after week, after week. I’ve still been doing my walking (around my house for 30 minutes every other day) so I do get outdoors. But still, 2020 will be a year that will live long in our memories. And for many people 2021 isn’t immune from those bad memories, either.

What I am is grateful, too. That I fit in the age range so I could GET the Covid vaccine (I got the Moderna one). This might be the only time in my life I’m grateful for being OLD! Grateful that I’ve survived this year and not caught Covid. I’ve been careful – very careful. Rarely out in a public setting, not frequenting any stores, really. Rarely eaten out. Just being home. Alone. But grateful. Because I’m a believer, I thank God that I survived this year, have now had my 2 vaccines, and I can return to more normal life.

Earlier last week my friend Linda visited me (yes, we kept socially distant), and she and I visited Claro’s, a specialty Italian market not too far from my house. I hadn’t been in Claro’s for over a year. Yippee! I bought some fennel salami and thinly sliced provolone, plus some sweet Italian sausage. Hence I had this sausage in my frig and it needed to be frozen or used.

Maybe because I was in a state of euphoria (about being post-vaccine and about life in general) I decided to make one of my favorite dishes. And it’s full of carbs, which I try to avoid. For me, eating carbs is kind of like pigging out; like hitting a home run; like celebrating. Certainly like over-indulging!

This recipe is already on my blog, but it was years and years ago that I posted it. It’s a Phillis Carey recipe, and in 2011 when she taught this in a class, she said it was one of her home mainstays, that it’s comfort food for her on any given weeknight. It’s on my list of favorites, and rightly so. It’s a one-dish meal. Except for a few small things, it’s the same recipe as before . . . but this time instead of turkey Italian sausage, I used real pork Italian sausage. I made it for more servings that I needed – but remember, I needed to cook that Italian sausage! I’d purchased some leeks at Trader Joe’s (theirs are just the best – not only inexpensive, but they’re all cleaned and trimmed), I had the specialty rice for risotto, I had frozen corn, cherry tomatoes. I didn’t have spinach, but I did have baby arugula. I was in business!

Why do you need hot broth to add to risotto:

Pouring cold broth onto the hot rice shocks it, and the whole pot of food has to warm up again – making the cooking time much longer.

Ideally, have all the ingredients out and ready when you begin, including a pot of hot chicken broth to add to the risotto. Some people wonder why you have to have the broth hot – simple reason – if you add cold broth to the rice, it not only sort-of shocks the rice and it has to get warm again before it begins absorbing more fluid. The cooking process slows down. It takes a lot longer if you add cold or room temp broth. So I did everything as the recipe indicated and I had a big pan of risotto in about 40 minutes or so.

I ate with delight – that nice bowl of risotto with Italian sausage, corn, leeks and tomatoes. I hadn’t planned ahead about this, so at 6:45 I phoned my neighbor, Josee, (the neighbor who has been so kind to do Costco and other shopping for me over this last year) to see if she wanted dinner for her family. Long story – she was SO thrilled I had called. So, I used all the Italian sausage, feasted on it myself, then did something nice for my neighbor. That made me feel good.

What’s GOOD: such a wide variety of flavors – the sausage, the leeks, the corn, and the lovely creaminess of risotto, made right so it’s like thick soup. So good.

What’s NOT: only that you have to stand near the stovetop for 20-25 minutes stirring frequently while you’re making the risotto rice part.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

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Risotto with Italian Sausage, Corn, Leeks, Spinach and Tomatoes

Recipe By: Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 5

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil — divided use
1/2 pound Italian sausage — or use turkey sausage
3 cloves garlic — minced
3/4 cup dry white wine — like Sauvignon Blanc (not vermouth), divided use
1 1/2 cups leeks — cleaned, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup frozen corn — fire roasted, preferably
6 ounces baby arugula — or baby spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated, using more to sprinkle on top
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes — halved
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil — sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Lower heat and keep the broth hot.
2. Heat 1 T. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and garlic. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Add 1/4 cup wine to the sausage and simmer until the wine evaporates.
3. Heat remaining 2 T. oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven (Phillis suggests Le Creuset is the best pot for making risotto). Add the cleaned and dried leeks and cook for 6-8 minutes until they are softened. Add rice and cook, stirring often, until it turns white, but not brown, aout 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated.
4. Add a cup of broth to the rice and cook, stirring constantly, lowering heat to just a simmer, until rice absorbs all the broth. Stir in another cup of broth and stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth and stirring until rice is just tender, about 20 more minutes.
5. Stir in the corn and sausage and then add the arugula or spinach by handfuls, cooking until wilted; season to taste with salt and pepper. Do not let the rice cook until it’s dry – add small amounts of broth (or water if you run out) even up until the end. Stir in the butter and Parmesan and stir until melted. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, parsley and basil and serve immediately with additional Parmesan to sprinkle on top, if desired.
Per Serving: 455 Calories; 28g Fat (57.5% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 50mg Cholesterol; 366mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 105mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 680mg Potassium; 220mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pasta, Pork, on November 18th, 2020.

pasta_alla_gricia_plated

Ever had this one? The Italians haven’t quite determined which definition they agree on for the word “gricia,” other than it’s for this pasta dish.

Curious as to what gricia meant in Italian, I found out it was a dish created waaaay back in Roman times, 400AD, they think. The other day I was watching a Rachel Ray show and she prepared this. It just spoke to me – since I had radicchio; I had ample mushrooms, although not the type Rachel used. She used hen-of-the-woods – I had just ordinary white mushrooms. I had shallots. I had pancetta too. mushrooms_for_griciaShe talked about guanciale, the fatty sister to pancetta, but she prefers pancetta – mostly, she said, because her husband wants chunks of meaty bits in any pasta she makes. The original of this dish is just shallot – maybe garlic too – and the pork, either pancetta or the guanaciale – pepper, plus pasta, of course. That was it, but Rachel described several riffs she makes on this dish. I took the original recipe and added the radicchio and the lemon zest that she mentioned. I didn’t have any Pecorino, so had to use Parm. I also had leftover Capello’s almond flour pasta (linguine) and certainly wanted to use it, as it’s quite dear. My house smelled so wonderful – the shallot, the garlic, the pancetta plus EVOO.

First up was to roast the mushrooms. See photo above left. They took about 20 minutes in a very hot oven. They were dried out mostly, but still had some moisture inside. And what they did have was concentrated flavor.

gricia_cookingThen I started cooking the sauce. Well, not really much of the sauce part as the only liquid is a little bit of cooking water (from the pasta) added to this. The pancetta was added to a large skillet along with a bit of EVOO, and the pork was rendered down, but leaving the fat that came from it in the pan (for flavor). Then I added shallot and continued to cook that (I forgot to add it to the mushroom pan).

pasta_alla_gricia_pan_mixedThen the sliced radicchio and lemon strips were added and stirred often as it cooked. That really takes but a few minutes. I ladled out some of the pasta water and added that to the pan too. Some cheese is added in the pan when you add the pasta and that’s stirred well (which is why you want to undercook the pasta a little bit). Serve and add more lemon zest and grated cheese on top. I will mention that this dish is very rich. Probably from the pancetta – meaning it has a bit of fat, but that’s what gives it so much flavor. And, I think if you made the full recipe, it would serve more than 4 people.

What’s GOOD: Oh my. SO very delicious. I loved this dish. It’s big on flavor – mostly, I suppose, from the mushrooms, shallots and pancetta. Did I mention how fragrant my house smelled? I had to go out to run an errand immediately after I ate my dinner (leaving my kitchen still in a mess) and when I returned and walked through the door, oh golly did it smell good. This recipe is a keeper. It’s beautiful to look at too, with the dark purple from the radicchio, and the pasta, contrasted with the mushrooms and the bright yellow from lemon strips.

What’s NOT: I can’t think of anything. As I said, this one’s a keeper.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

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Pasta Alla Gricia

Recipe By: Rachel Ray, on her TV show, 9/20
Serving Size: 4 (maybe 5-6)

12 ounces mushrooms — hen-of-the-woods (maitake) pulled into thin strips, or any other type of mushrooms
2 large shallots — halved lengthwise, then peeled and very thinly sliced
Olive oil cooking spray
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 pound pancetta — or meaty guanciale
1 tbsp. EVOO
3 cups radicchio — sliced
3 tablespoons lemon rind — minutely sliced
1 pound spaghetti — or linguine
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese — grated, or Parm

1. Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 475°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Arrange the mushrooms and shallots on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray evenly and liberally with the cooking spray and season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the vegetables with the thyme. Roast, stirring halfway through cooking, until the mushrooms are crispy and fragrant, about 20 minutes.
2. Place the pancetta or guanciale in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once it’s firm, slice it into thin 1/2-inch-long pieces.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the EVOO, one turn of the pan, then add the pancetta. Cook until the fat renders, about 10 minutes. Then add the radicchio and lemon zest and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, or until the radicchio is barely tender. Season with pepper and remove from the heat.
5. Salt the boiling water, add the pasta, and cook for a minute or two less than the package instructions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
6. Add the pasta, half the cheese, and 3/4 cup pasta water to the skillet. Toss the pasta for a minute to coat, adding more pasta water if needed to thin the sauce. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and top with the remaining cheese, a pile of crispy mushrooms and shallots, and a little lemon zest.
Per Serving (yikes): 972 Calories; 42g Fat (38.8% calories from fat); 49g Protein; 99g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 1172mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 777mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 1259mg Potassium; 868mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pork, on October 24th, 2020.

pork_chop_mustard_cream_capers

Want an easy-easy weeknight dinner that seems like something extra special?

About once a week, or perhaps twice, I make myself a more sumptuous dinner – usually it’s a protein and a vegetable. Since I eat salads most nights, this kind of dinner is special. The website where I found this recipe is no longer available, so I can only tell you that this is a Diana Henry recipe. She’s a U.K. food writer and cookbook author, I do believe. And this recipe you’ll find at various websites here and there. Most likely this is originally French. Made there, you’d add some apple brandy instead of vermouth, or maybe some of both. Since I made this for just one person, there were only 2 ounces of cream in it, and I’ll just tell you, at least half of that was left on the plate – I couldn’t quite mop it all up as I cut the meat.

The chops are browned in a neutral oil (I used EVOO, even though it’s not considered flavor neutral). I used an iron skillet for this. Then the pan with the chop went into a 400°F oven for a short bake. Since my chop was relatively thin, I didn’t bake it as long as the recipe indicated – probably about 7 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer if you have one. Be sure to REMEMBER to use heavy-duty oven mitts when you take that pan out of the oven. AND put a towel or something over the handle as you continue to cook the sauce on the stovetop. I nearly grabbed that hot-hot handle – saved in the nick of time from burning myself. The oil in the pan is poured off, then you make the very quick pan sauce. First vermouth and a tetch of lemon juice (my addition), and that’s bubbled down some, then you add the cream and continue cooking until it thickens slightly. Then you slide in the Dijon mustard and capers. Serve.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was wonderful. First and foremost, it was so simple. I did put out all the ingredients, measured and ready before I started. That helps. Once you start making the pan sauce, you want everything else about your dinner to be ready, as it takes about a minute to make the sauce. Maybe two. I wanted to lick the plate of that sauce – but I didn’t. I only ate half of the chop, so I have a dinner left over – yea! And yes, there is some of the sauce left also.

What’s NOT: nothing whatsoever. Easy, easy dinner entrée. I’ll definitely make this again. I always have capers, vermouth and cream on hand, so this could go on about any entrée, including chicken, beef or lamb. Even a deep-flavored fish would work too.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

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Pork Chops with Mustard, Capers and Cream

Recipe By: adapted from Diana Henry, U.K. food writer
Serving Size: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
24 ounces pork chops — about 8-9 ounces each
9 1/2 ounces vermouth
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
9 ounces heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons capers — well rinsed of salt or brine
Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Assemble ingredients ahead, mis en place.
2. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan (or two smaller pans) over high heat. Season the chops all over with salt and pepper, then cook them for two minutes on each side; you want them good and golden. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 12 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 150°F. If using thinner chops, it will take much less time.
3. Wearing heavy duty oven gloves and being careful of the hot pan handle, remove from the oven; put the chops on a warm plate and cover to keep warm. Pour the fat out of the pan. Add the Vermouth and lemon juice to the pan. Bring to the boil and reduce by half, stirring to pick up all the browned bits, then pour in the cream. Boil until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Take it off the heat, whisk in the mustard and add the capers.Taste for seasoning.
4. Serve the chops with the sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with some minced parsley if available.
Per Serving: 572 Calories; 40g Fat (68.0% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 172mg Cholesterol; 251mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 2mcg Vitamin D; 61mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 748mg Potassium; 448mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pork, on March 8th, 2020.

pork_tender_apples_potato_gr_beans

Another winner of a sheetpan dinner.

For me, there’s nothing NOT to like about an easy sheetpan dinner. I love vegetables, and they can vary based on the season or what’s in your refrigerator. This one uses small potatoes and green beans to serve alongside a pork tenderloin. And the surprise? Apple chunks roasted along with the potatoes.

This recipe has one little tricky thing – you start off the oven at 500°F, and you preheat the sheet pan as the oven heats up to temperature. You remove it carefully – oh you do not want to burn your hand on a 500°F sheetpan! The first round of food is added and when you put the pan back in the oven, you reduce the temp to 450°F. And in this one, you do not use parchment paper – you want the pork will get some nice crusty caramelization which won’t happen if it’s put on parchment. The potatoes and apples are tossed with oil, thyme and rosemary and those are added to the sheetpan. At this point you need to watch the temp of the pork – it needs to come out of the oven at 140°F which takes about 11-13 minutes, depending on the size of the tenderloin. You take the tenderloin off the pan to rest, then add the green beans to the sheetpan and the whole pan goes back into the oven to roast and finish. Test the green beans to see if they’re done to your liking (it might need another minute or two past the recommended 10 minutes). If you don’t like crisp green beans, they’ll definitely need more time in the oven.

While the vegetables are finishing up, the pork tenderloin rests, covered loosely with foil. When everything is ready, remove the vegetables, then slice up the pork. Then you quickly add some chicken broth, butter and apple cider vinegar to the sheetpan and stir it around to dig up any tasty, crusty bits and pour that over everything.

What’s GOOD: the combo of flavors. Loved the thyme and rosemary (two of my favorite herbs). The apple addition is just genius! Like the crunchy green beans and the perfectly tender, medium-rare pork. And the bit of au jus you mix up at the end adds lovely flavor too.

What’s NOT: only that you do need to be in the kitchen, in and around that oven over the various baking times. The pan does go in and out a few times, but still, it’s all cooked on ONE pan!

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Sheetpan Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Potatoes and Green Beans

Recipe By: From cooking class with Susan V, Feb. 2020
Serving Size: 4

1 pound pork tenderloin — trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil — divided
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme — divided
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary — divided
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt — divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper — divided
12 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes — cut into 1-1/2″ chunks
2 apples — Gala, or other sweet apple, peeled, 1″ cubes
6 ounces haricots verts — trimmed (if using regular green beans, baking time will be longer)
AU JUS:
3 tablespoons low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 500°F. Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven (do not remove pan while oven preheats).
2. Rub pork with 1 tablespoon oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons thyme, 2 1/2 teaspoons rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove pan from oven; add pork, and return to oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 450°F. Bake pork 5 minutes.
3. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 2 teaspoons thyme, remaining 2 teaspoons rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, potatoes, and apple in a bowl; toss to coat.
4. Remove pan from oven; add potato/apple mixture to pan with pork. Bake at 450°F until a thermometer inserted in pork registers 140°F, 11 to 13 minutes. Remove pork from pan; place on a cutting board. Add green beans to pan with potato mixture. Bake at 450°F until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Taste green beans to see if they’re to your liking.
5. Place vegetable mixture on a heated platter. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, stock, butter, and vinegar to hot pan. Scrape browned bits loose with a wooden spoon, and stir until butter is melted. Cut pork into 12 slices; arrange over vegetables. Drizzle stock mixture over pork.
Per Serving: 369 Calories; 15g Fat (37.5% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 74mg Cholesterol; 685mg Sodium.

Posted in IP, Pork, on November 19th, 2019.

herb_garlic_pork_tenderloin_IP

Tender, juicy, and oh-so easy in the Instant Pot

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you have probably figured out I’m a pretty experienced cook. Not a chef – just a regular home cook. And you’d think I’d know how to make just about anything. But I have had to learn the ins and outs of the instant pot. I love the thing, use it once or twice a week to hard boil eggs (which are just the best way). And make soups and stews in it. As a family of one, though, I generally don’t cook a pork tenderloin anymore (except for guests), just because it leaves me with a lot of leftover meat that may or may not be all that juicy when reheated.

Yet, I’m a sucker for learning something new. My local Bloomingdale’s has a very small demonstration kitchen right in the middle of the cookware department. I was walking nearby after I’d been into the store to buy a couple hundred dollars worth of Nespresso pods for my beloved machine. My Nespresso machine needs to be buried with me – I want it in heaven. Oh, I’m going to be cremated . . .well, that presents a problem, doesn’t it? Not much good to have a cremated Nespresso. Oh I’m getting way off topic, here! Anyway, I noticed there was a cooking class going on, I paused, and grabbed a flyer. And now I’m on the mailing list. The classes are ridiculously cheap/free. All I had to do was buy myself a $10 gift card which I could use as a gift or for myself – which I did – I bought the OXO Good Grips Silicone Egg Rack, plus a flat rack that’s not metal for the IP too. I’ve used the egg rack already – my hard boiled eggs are now much more yolk-centered, which I like. Haven’t yet used the rack.

Back to business – so I signed up to take the pork tenderloin class for the IP. The chef, Sandra Hauser, gives classes a couple times a week. Many aren’t interesting to me, but this one was, and we were served the pork, mashed potatoes and an Oreo cheesecake (made in IP – will share that recipe soon).

First she made a fresh herb rub with a lot of garlic in it. After the tenderloin was oiled well with EVOO, she rolled the meat around in the herb rub, then sautéed it in the IP – just a couple of minutes on each side. Then she added some big sprigs of herbs, some chicken broth and set the IP to cook for ONE MINUTE. Yes, one minute. Once the IP had finished that part of the cycle, she began watching the timer on the IP itself, which starts counting up once it’s finished. She waited 10 minutes, quick released the pressure and removed the pork to a heated platter, then tented the meat with foil. She turned the IP to sauté again and boiled down the pan juices. Meanwhile she’d made a monstrous mound of mashed potatoes (no I didn’t eat even one bite) and served both with the pan juices.

You can’t really tell from the picture that the pork is perfectly cooked. She gave advice about that – if the tenderloin is about a pound, the meat needs 10 minutes of resting time after the one minute under pressure. If it’s more like 1 1/2 pounds per tenderloin, then it needs about 13 or 14 minutes rest time. So be sure to weigh the tenderloin before cooking this. The meat was perfection. Just the right kind of pink in the middle and very tender and juicy.

What’s GOOD: the meat was ever so tender and juicy. Perfectly cooked. Who knew? The IP is quite a magical piece of equipment. Just have everything else ready and finish up during that 10-14 minutes of resting time. The meat does like to sit after it’s out of the IP for a few minutes, however. That’s when you boil down the pan juices. So very tasty. Yes, I’ll be making this next time I have house guests.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. Easy dish.

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IP Garlicky Fresh Herb Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Recipe By: Cooking class at Bloomingdale’s, South Coast Plaza, 11/19 (Sandra Hauser)
Serving Size: 3

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon EVOO — for pork
2 tablespoons EVOO — for searing
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
HERB RUB:
1 large garlic clove — finely chopped (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Italian parsley — fresh, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary — minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
GARNISH:
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — minced

NOTE: You may use dried herbs in this – use a teaspoon dried in place of a tablespoon fresh.
1. DRY RUB: Combine all ingredients and set aside.
2. Remove any silverskin from the pork tenderloin. Rub the small amount of EVOO on the pork, then gently pat the dry rub on all surfaces.
3. Heat IP on saute function and add the remaining EVOO, then add the pork and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. No more than that, or the pork will begin to cook through.
4. Add the chicken broth to the pot along with the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Close and lock lid and set IP to manual cook for ONE MINUTE. Yes, one minute. As soon as the one minute sound occurs, start a timer for 10 minutes or watch the screen on the IP. If the pork tenderloin is about a pound, you’ll want to let the IP sit for 10 minutes (meanwhile, the pork will continue to cook at pressure, but in off position). If the tenderloin is closer to 1-1/2 pounds, set timer for 12 minutes. Quick-release pressure at appropriate time, use instant read thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the meat, looking for 140°F. You can replace lid and bring back to pressure for another 2-3 minutes and read temperature again. Don’t overcook the meat or it will dry out.
5. Remove pork to a heated platter and tent with foil for 5 minutes.
6. Turn IP to saute and reduce the pan juices by about half, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Slice tenderloin on the diagonal and pour pan juices over the top. Garnish with Italian parsley.
Per Serving: 417 Calories; 23g Fat (47.4% calories from fat); 53g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 148mg Cholesterol; 760mg Sodium.

Posted in Grilling, Gundry-friendly, lectin-free, Pork, on September 28th, 2018.

pork_skewers_souvlaki

Delicious, tender pork grilled on the outdoor barbecue, with a Greek influence.

Every so often I have to do some blog housekeeping, to transfer photos to CDs for long-term storage. (Although I hear that sometime in the not too distant future, we’re no longer going to be able to buy CDs, since that’s old-school now). Since I’ve been writing this blog for 11 years, I have a LOT of CDs filled with my food photos. Way too much to keep on my hard drive. At any rate, I was working on that this morning and realized that I hadn’t posted 3 recipes. So I’m fixing that now.

I’d invited friends over for dinner – this was back in early July, and my friend Cherrie’s husband took over as grill meister for me, and I told him whatever he did, not to cook these past 140°F. He was meticulous and brought them in and I snapped the photo. The recipe came from a post over at Kalyn’s Kitchen. I followed her recipe to the letter.

First I cubed up the pork (I bought a roast rather than pork chops as I wanted to make sure the cubes were thick enough), then I put the cubes into a Ziploc bag with all of the marinade ingredients. What is souvlaki,  you ask: from Wikipedia, it says – Souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It is usually eaten straight off the skewer while still hot. Greek marinades usually start with olive oil, then include a variety of herbs (usually dried oregano) and garlic for sure. This one uses lemon juice as the acid and also includes a tad of red wine vinegar. That was left to sit for 24 hours – although Kalyn said this could sit just 6 hours to work its magic. Do turn the bag over a few times so all the pork pieces are coated in the marinade.

The cooking time is short – max 15 minutes, as the pork is very lean and can go from juicy to dry in a matter of less than a minute. So watch the temp. I’d grill these at the low side of medium-high heat if you’re able to fine-tune your grill that way. Allow the pork to sit, tented in foil for about 5 minutes before serving. I served this with the Cauliflower Slaw I posted recently. It was a perfect accompaniment to the pork.

What’s GOOD: loved the Greek lemon juice and garlic flavors in this. Plus the oregano too. Easy to do for guests, as long as you have time to manage the grilling.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of – just don’t overcook them.

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Pork Skewers Souvlaki

Recipe By: Kalyn’s Kitchen
Serving Size: 5

2 1/2 pounds boneless pork sirloin chops
2 tablespoons EVOO — for brushing kabobs right before grilling
MARINADE:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic — finely minced
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Cut pork chops or pork loin roast into cubes about 2 inches square and place in Ziploc bag.
2. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over meat. Crush the oregano between your palms as you add it to the marinade. Marinate in refrigerator for 6-24 hours. Turn the bag several times so all the surfaces of the meat sit in the marinade.
3. When you’re ready to cook, drain the pork cubes in a colander, place in the sink while you preheat grill to high heat.
4. Thread meat on to skewers, pressing meat closely together so it doesn’t spin on the grill. (Double Kabob Skewers or thick blade skewers are great if you can find them.)
5. When grill is hot, brush kabobs with olive oil on both sides, place Souvlaki skewers on grill and reduce heat to medium-high.
6. Grill skewers, turning as soon as you see grill marks on each, until the Souvlaki is very well browned on all sides. This will take about 15 minutes total cooking time, but actual cooking time depends on the temperature of the meat, temperature of your grill, the air temperature and exactly how thick you cut the pork. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check that the pork has reached 140°F for barely pink in the middle.
6. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes after you remove from the grill, then serve hot.
Per Serving: 553 Calories; 40g Fat (66.0% calories from fat); 43g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 134mg Cholesterol; 105mg Sodium.

Posted in Pork, Veggies/sides, on June 16th, 2018.

roast_pork_tenderl_carrot_romesco

Simple spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, but served with luscious cooked carrots. Who knew they could taste so good when roasted? You may want to make these again and again. Then there’s the grits, creamy with smoked Gouda. And then there’s the salad too, with a sherry and honey mustard vinaigrette.

Pork tenderloin is something I cook for myself now and then. I probably should buy one, cut it in half and freeze the other half because one pork tenderloin (at least the Costco ones) are big – usually enough for 4 meals for me. Maybe even 5 if I don’t dole out too much on any one serving. And by day three, I’m tired of pork tenderloin! But this meal, this pork tenderloin is merely a way to eat the scrumptious carrots on top, the creamy grits with Gouda and the lovely green salad on the side. I’m telling you true, your fork is going to want all of those carrots to the exclusion of everything else on the plate.

The carrots, scrubbed and halved, are roasted for 15-20 minutes in a hot-hot oven, sprinkled with some kind of various spice rub (your choice). Once cooled, you whiz some of them up with pine nuts and olive oil to make the Romesco part. The remaining carrots are served in the salad. The pork is seasoned with the same spice rub, browned on the stove, then finished off in the oven.

Meanwhile, you make the grits – using a combination of broth and milk to make them creamy, then at the last, add in the Gouda (did you know it’s pronounced gow-da? not goo-da, as we do?) and serve it right away while it’s still piping hot. When I make this, I use regular Gouda, not smoked. I’m not a big fan of smoked cheeses for some reason – I like the pure stuff, but suit your own palate. Place the pork tenderloin slices napped over the edge of the grits and top with the Romesco carrots.

carrot_watercress_salad_alongside_pork_tenderloinYou will have tossed up a lovely green salad too (adding arugula for sure, maybe even watercress or some other unusual greens if you can find them), toss with the sherry wine vinegar vinaigrette and the remaining carrots, and that’s dinner. The recipes came from a cooking class a couple of months ago with Tarla Fallgatter. I was still eating some carbs then, so I can attest to the deliciousness of those carrots. Now I’m only eating raw carrots.

What’s GOOD: well, the carrots Romesco are the best part of this dish in my opinion, but the grits are good, as is the pork AND the lovely greens on the side. Altogether great meal – would definitely be suitable for a company dinner.

What’s NOT: maybe a bit more prep than some meals.

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Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Romesco

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

CARROTS:
1 1/2 pounds carrots — small, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon spice rub — (your choice)
Salt and pepper to taste
ROMESCO:
1/4 cup pine nuts — toasted
1 clove garlic
1 pinch red chili flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
PORK:
2 pork tenderloins — silverskin removed, trimmed
2 teaspoons spice rub — (use same as in carrots)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups greens — watercress, arugula, dark hearty lettuces
VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss carrots with oil, spice rub and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, tossing occasionally, until carrots are softened, browned, about 15-20 minutes. Carrots should be very tender. Let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, season pork with salt, pepper and spice rub. Heat a saute pan to high, add oil and sear tenderloin on all sides. Transfer to oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, about 10 minutes. Remove, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
3. Pulse the pine nuts, garlic and red chili flakes in a food processor with oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add about a cup of the cooked carrots, vinegar and process until it reaches a coarse texture, adding more oil if necessary. Taste for seasonings.
4. SALAD: Toss the greens and the remaining carrots with vinaigrette. Slice pork and serve with romesco alongside the salad.
Per Serving: 373 Calories; 28g Fat (66.8% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 90mg Sodium.

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Smoked Gouda Grits

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup grits — coarse ground (NOT instant)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter — cut into pieces
3 ounces gouda cheese — smoked or regular
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped

1. Bring milk, salt and water to a boil in a large pan over medium high heat. Gradually whisk in grits until smooth.
2. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, whisking frequently, until creamy but still with some bite, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with Italian parsley.
Per Serving: 164 Calories; 10g Fat (52.5% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 33mg Cholesterol; 457mg Sodium.

Posted in IP, Pork, pressure cooker, on February 8th, 2018.

IP_spareribs_bbq

Oh yes, mouth watering happening as I look at that photo. So quick and easy.

The other day I discovered an ancient package of pork spare ribs (not baby backs) in my freezer, back when my DH and I bought a part of a Berkshire pig. It had unique wrapping, so I knew – and it had a date on it. 2011. Wow. It’s been in my freezer for nearly 8 years! I didn’t hold out much hope that it would be all that good, but guess what? It was wonderful. Maybe because it was packaged well to begin with!

With my new instant pot sitting on my kitchen counter, I scanned websites to find a recipe that would work. Sure enough, found one at the blog called iwashyoudry. Shawna had used baby backs, but I presumed the cooking time would be similar. First I removed the thin tissue along the back of the ribs. It’s a bit of a nuisance to have to do that, but I did it anyway, knowing the dry rub would reach all the inner meat if I took the time. Then I combined the dry rub – a little bit of brown sugar and a bunch of spices. A very good mixture, I think! Into the IP they went, to rest on top of the IP rack, leaning up against the sides of the pot.

Once the meat was in, you add some water, apple cider vinegar AND a tiny jot of liquid smoke to the bottom of the pot, making sure you don’t wash off any of the spices sticking to the ribs. Having used liquid smoke in the past I wasn’t altogether sure I’d like it – but  using just 1/4 tsp gave the ribs just a hint of smoke. The meat cooked under high pressure for 23 minutes (Shawna cooked her for 25, but spareribs have less meat on them, so I chose 23). It rested for 10 minutes, then quick release.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler during the last couple minutes of resting time and prepare a baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup) and have at the ready your favorite bottled BBQ sauce. Lay them on the baking sheet and brush that on. Broil just until beginning to get crispy brown. Remove and dig in! For mine, the ribs were nearly falling off of the meat, so I just took the bones out and had a nice little plate of just meat. And sauce. And spices. All good tasty stuff! My thanks to Shawna for a great recipe that works!

What’s GOOD: you can have ribs on the table in a little over 35 minutes or so, that taste like you’ve spent hours smoking and tending to them. When you haven’t!! Loved the combo of spices in the dry rub and with using just a little bit of BBQ sauce to finish them off; these were perfect! A keeper.

What’s NOT: really nothing, other than ribs have a lot of fat, so for me, they’re a real treat. Not something I’d fix on a regular basis.

printer-friendly PDF or MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Instant Pot BBQ Spareribs

Recipe By: adapted slightly from I wash you dry (blog)
Serving Size: 4

3 pounds pork spareribs
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke — optional
1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1. Remove the thin lining from the bottom side of the ribs by running a butter knife under the skin and then using a paper towel to grip and remove completely. (This allows the dry rub to reach the meat underneath.)
2. Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, parsley, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper in a small dish and rub all over the ribs.
3. Place the rack in your IP/pressure cooker and place the ribs inside the pot, standing on their ends, wrapping around the inside of the pot. It’s okay if it leans against the pan. Pour in the water, apple cider and liquid smoke (if using), being careful to not wash off any of the seasonings.
4. Secure the lid, making sure the vent is closed. Pressure cook on high for 23 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the way.
5. Carefully remove the ribs from the pressure cooker and set on a foil lined baking sheet. Brush with your favorite BBQ sauce, and broil for 5 minutes, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
Per Serving: 686 Calories; 51g Fat (67.4% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 165mg Cholesterol; 994mg Sodium.

Posted in Pork, Veggies/sides, on October 26th, 2017.

pan_roasted_pork_chops_apples_feta

Comfort food at its finest. Brown food is never very revealing in a photo . . . just trust me this is worth trying.

Aren’t pork chops just a simple way to get dinner on the table in fairly short order? Back in the days when I was working full time, pork chops were a regular on my evening dinner rotation because they could be prepared quickly. I won’t say that this method is quite that streamlined, but it won’t take you too much longer than a quick sauté in a pan and a short bake time to have this on your dinner table. I’m also including a new recipe for cauliflower that’s prepared to look like mashed potatoes. I liked this version better than the version I’ve made in the past. The pork chops are served alongside some nicely pan-sautéed apples that make a great accompaniment to the pork. Do make them – hopefully you have some apples, right?

The pork chops need to be brined for awhile – the recipe (from a cooking class I took) says 1-4 hours, but if you’re a working person, I truly don’t think brining for 8 hours would make any difference. The brine solution isn’t too salty (that would be the risk, that they’d absorb too much salt). But if you only have a short time, an hour will do it too. This brine is made with maple syrup, salt, of course, and water, heated to dissolve the salt. The purpose of simmering is ONLY to dissolve the salt, so I recommend you dissolve the salt in a cup or so of water, and the syrup, then add cold water to make up the water portion. That way you’ll get the pork chops in the brine a lot sooner. Or make it the night before and have it chilling. The brine also contains cider vinegar, peppercorns, apple cider and some fresh sage leaves.

Then you toss out the brine, blot the pork chops dry with paper towels and rub with olive oil and salt and pepper. This dish is made in a cast iron skillet (or another type of heavy skillet, like Le Creuset). That way you’ll get a nice sear on the meat and it holds the heat well while it roasts in the oven. The pork is browned on both sides briefly, then popped into a 400°F oven for 6-10 minutes (depends on how thick your pork chops are). Pork is done at 145°F internal temp. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure.

Meanwhile, just before the pork comes out of the oven (while it’s baking) peel, core and wedge some Gala or crispy apples, sauté them in a little butter and olive oil (with some red onion) and lastly you add some maple syrup and just before serving, spoon in some crumbled Feta. In another pan you sauté a few sage leaves until crispy (watch carefully). I usually don’t have sage leaves, so if you don’t either, just eliminate that part.

cauliflower_mash_sour_creamThe cauliflower mash is very easy and quick – buy a whole one, or the newer packages of riced cauliflower if you’d prefer. Cook the cauliflower in salted water until barely done, drain, then pulse in a food processor along with some whole milk, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper. Easy. Of course, it doesn’t taste exactly like mashed potatoes, but I’m telling you for sure, you’d be hard pressed to know if you’re eating it alongside pork and apples.

What’s GOOD: Delicious tasting pork with the sweet maple flavored apples alongside. Altogether scrumptious in my book. The cauliflower is also easy and a good way to eat your veggies without eating carbs. The sour cream is a nice addition to them.

What’s NOT: A little more prep than some, but not overly so. Would make a great company meal. If you have a helper in the kitchen, making this for a family weeknight dinner would be easy too.

PORK: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

CAULIFLOWER: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Pan-Roasted Brined Pork Chops with Maple Apples and Feta

Recipe By: A cooking class with Susan V, 2017
Serving Size: 6

BRINE:
6 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
2 whole sage leaves — (fresh)
PORK:
6 pork chops — about 1″ thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
APPLES:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 whole sage leaves
1/2 cup red onion — sliced
1 pound apples — Gala or Honey Crisp, peeled, cored, cut in wedges
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup feta cheese — crumbled

1. Brine the pork: combine salt, maple syrup and water in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring, until the salt has dissolved. Let cool to room temp. Add cider, vinegar, peppercorns and sage. Submerge the pork chops in the brine and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
3. Remove pork from brine (discard brine) and pat dry with paper towels. Set the pork on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and allow pork to come to room temp, about 30 minutes.
4. Rub the pork with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and sear on one side for 3 minutes. Turn over, then transfer skillet to the preheated oven. Roast for 6-10 minutes, or until pork has reached an internal temp of 145°F. Transfer to a heated plate and pour any pan juices on the meat. Let rest for about 5 minutes.
5. APPLES: Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet. Add sage leaves and fry for less than a minute (do not burn). Remove sage to a paper towel and set aside. Add onion to skillet and cook about 5 minutes, then add apples, and cook for 6-8 minutes, until apples are softened. Add maple syrup and cook for just a minute. Remove apples from the heat, fold in the crispy sage leaves and crumbled Feta cheese.
6. Serve pork with apples along side.
Per Serving: 512 Calories; 26g Fat (44.5% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 47g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 84mg Cholesterol; 3903mg Sodium.


* Exported from MasterCook *

Cauliflower Mash with Sour Cream

Recipe By: Cooking class with Susan V, Oct. 2017
Serving Size: 6

1 whole cauliflower head — cut in florets
3 tablespoons whole milk
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook cauliflower in simmering salted water until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain.
2. Place cauliflower in food processor with remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning.
Per Serving: 61 Calories; 4g Fat (52.0% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 56mg Sodium.

Posted in Pork, on September 14th, 2017.

bbq_pizza

Ever done pizza on a grill? I did once years ago. It’s easy, really. This one has leeks on it, and that makes a difference – leeks just add a depth of flavor to things.

As much as I love pizza, I know it’s not exactly a healthy meal. I really do eat few bread-type carbs. I seem to make up for the calories in other ways – I don’t do this to diet. I know a lot about diabetes since my DH was a Type 1. And it was only in his last 25 years, I’d guess, that doctors figured out that blood sugar was directly related to carb consumption (whether they be bread, potatoes, rice, fruit or sugar or any kind). I began preparing a low-carb diet for us starting way back then, but even more so once we both retired. Dave loved pizza too, but he couldn’t stop eating it if is was put in front of him, so we kind of banned it from our menu. Ready-made pizza (like frozen from the grocery store) has never been all that great tasting – once in awhile I succumb getting a thin crust one. So that leaves making it from scratch.

Here on my blog I have one favorite pizza – I’ve mentioned it before – it’s one our daughter Sara introduced us to when she was visiting one weekend (when she was in college). There are other pizza recipes on my blog (just type in “pizza” in the search box top left), but this one, Pizza with Chicken, Red Onion, Pesto & Olives, is one I’ve returned to many times over the years. My mouth is watering as I type.

But I digress . . . pizza isn’t something I make much as a widow – I have my DH’s problem of not being able to stop eating it. But this pizza I’m writing about today, was really good. Really easy and worth the trouble to make your own dough. It’s from a cooking class with Susan V a few weeks ago. She made the dough earlier in the morning, so it had had a chance to do one rising before all the students arrived for the class.

She punched it down and let it rest another hour or so, then began working with it. She used cornmeal underneath the dough so it wouldn’t stick and used a pizza peel very successfully. Susan doesn’t like Trader Joe’s pizza dough – she says it sticks and she simply can’t roll it out. So she chooses to make her own, always.

Meanwhile, she sliced the tomatoes (I’d slice them thinner than you see in the photo above) and set them in a colander to drain. You don’t want lots of juices – save them, though, and put them in something else as the juice of tomatoes contain a lot of flavor. Add it to soup or a stew, or even a salad dressing. The leeks are sautéed in a little oil and cooked for 15-20 minutes until they’re very soft. You remove them, then sauté the pancetta until the pieces get lightly brown on the edges. Drain them on a paper towel and set aside.

bbq_pizza_doughThis recipe makes 2 pizzas – enough for 4-5 people, unless they’re really hungry. Susan divided the pizza dough in half and rolled them out to about 12” rounds, I’d say. Onto the peel it went and she placed both on the heated grill (medium-high). She cooked them until the TOP of the dough began to puff up – it gets these lovely little peaks and valleys. That took about 2 minutes! She brought them inside, turned them over (see photo) and patted them down, to break the puffy peaks underneath. She only cooked them on one side up to this point. Then she put all the toppings on to cooked side (leeks, pancetta, mozzarella, olive oil and lots of sliced basil, and lastly the sliced tomatoes). Back to the barbecue for only a few minutes (max 3-4). It doesn’t cook anything on top (the toppings) but merely cooks the dough on the other side and heats up everything and melts the cheese. Remove, slice immediately, and serve.

What’s GOOD: everything about this pizza was good. I wanted more (my downfall when it comes to pizza) than the one slice I got. It looks like fun making it – get your family involved – they can use their own selection of toppings. It’s easy (except for the 2 risings of the dough which takes awhile).

What’s NOT: just that making your own dough takes awhile. Nothing about this was difficult, though.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Barbecued Pizza with Tomatoes, Basil, Leeks, Pancetta & Mozzarella

Recipe By: From a cooking class with Susan V, 2017
Serving Size: 6

PIZZA DOUGH:
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
TOPPING:
1/2 pound Roma tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks — rinsed well, thinly sliced, drained well
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound pancetta — diced (could substitute bacon)
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese — shredded
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil — sliced

1. Slice tomatoes and place in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a medium skillet and saute the leeks, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.
3. In same skillet cook the pancetta until it’s crisp and slightly brown. Drain on paper towels.
4. DOUGH: In a small bowl sprinkle yeast over the warm water. Let stand for about 10 minutes until it looks creamy and foamy on top. Stir to dissolve all the yeast.
5. In a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse briefly. With motor running add olive oil and gradually pour in the yeast mixture. Process for about one minute to knead the dough. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about an hour.
6. Punch down the dough and knead briefly on a floured surface. Return dough to the bowl, cover again and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 30-45 minutes.
7. Divide dough in half. (If possible, allow dough to sit on your board for about 10 minutes to rest – it will make it easier to roll out. Pat or roll each piece into a 9″ round shape on a floured board. Brush the tops of both pizzas with olive oil. Place rounds on a pizza peel and transfer to a medium-high heated barbecue grill. Place pizza over direct heat (BUT, watch it like a hawk!) and cook until the dough begins to puff in places and the bottom is showing brown on the edges. Don’t overdo it!! Remove pizza from the grill and close lid on the grill to retain heat. Back in the kitchen, gently press down on the puffed-up parts of the dough, then turn grilled dough over (so the uncooked side is on top). Brush top with more olive oil. Divide the leeks between the two crusts, sprinkle each with about 3/4 cup of shredded Mozzarella. Divide and arrange the pancetta on both, then overlap tomato slices. Sprinkle top with basil.
8. Place pizzas back on the grill and cook for just a few minutes – only until the cheese is melted. Watch very carefully so they don’t burn. Remove from the grill, cut into wedges and serve immediately.
Per Serving: 629 Calories; 34g Fat (47.9% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 58g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 56mg Cholesterol; 1695mg Sodium.

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