Just back from a week at the family place in the mountains. Cooking is always something of an inexact science at the cabin: strange stove, limited grocery choices, equipment that appears and disappears with each season, and so forth. Still, I managed to put together what I consider some passable dishes:
Sunday night (brought from home):
Lamb leg marinated in dijon and tarragon.
BBQ chicken with couscous.
Steak with garlic and pepper spice rub. Mashed potatoes with herbs.
Pork marinated in lime juice, garlic, and salt. Served with diced cucumbers and tomato.
Steak with gorgonzola sauce.
Chicken with thai spice rub.
Hadn't done anything new with pork chops in a while (except for that very delicious Smoked Maple Chipotle Finishing Sauce), so last night I went hunting for a different taste... (And, yes, once again I adjusted measurements and so forth slightly; no surprise.)
Baked Pork Chops with Parmesan-Sage Crust
from Bon Appétit February 2001
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 TBSP dried sage
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 large egg
3 boneless center-cut pork chops
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP oil
Preaheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, sage, and lemon peel in a flat dish. Whisk egg in a small bowl. Season pork chops with salt and pepper as desired. Dredge pork chops in flour and shake off excess. Dip in egg, then coat generously with breadcrumb mixture.
Melt butter and oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and cook until golden brown - about two minutes per side. Transfer pork to oven and cook approximately 20 minutes (or until meat thermometer reads 150 degrees).
Plate and garnish with lemon and/or orange wedges, if desired. Serve immediately.
Wednesday night's meal....Had veal. Had no idea what to do with it at the time. Had goat cheese (just because I like the stuff). Decided to experiment based on cooking techniques learned about reduction sauces and came up with the following:
Veal Scallopini with Tomato & Goat Cheese Sauce
a Jennifer Original
1/2 lb veal scallopini
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp basil (approximately)
1/2 tsp salt (approximately)
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 oz. goat cheese
Spray skillet with olive oil and cook veal a couple minutes per side. Remove to oven to keep warm. Bring broth, wine, basil, salt, and tomatoes to a simmer and reduce to approximately 1/4 cup. Once tomatoes begin to soften, mash somewhat. Whisk in goat cheese to thicken sauce.
I plated this with a dollop of fresh goat cheese on top. I think I would have rather used plum tomatoes as they tend to cook down better but I didn't have any on hand. Also, I might add a couple tablespoons of diced shallots the next time to offset the sweetness of the tomatoes. But, all in all, I was quite pleased with the attempt.
Made these last night.... at ACUS, I tried the same recipe with pork chops since one of those partaking wasn't fond of lamb. I feel it comes out much better with lamb, as the taste of the meat is more complimentary to this type of spicing.
Lamb Chops with Cumin, Cardamom, and Lime
from Gourmet (November 2002)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 TBSP plus 2 tsp olive oil
2 shoulder lamb chops (about 1 lb.)
Whisk together garlic, cumin, cardamom, lime juice, salt, pepper, and the 2 tsp of oil. Put lamb in a sealable bag with marinade, and let set for 15 minutes at room temperature, turning bag occasionally and massaging the lamb.
Heat remaining oil in a skillet over moderately high heat and cook lamb for approximately 5 minutes per side. Move meat to plates and let rest for a few minutes before serving. Makes 2 servings.
Muggy last night, so wanted something quick, but still delicious. Came up with the following:
3/4 pound shrimp
some green onions
some snow peas
some oyster mushrooms
1 TBSP minced garlic
2 TBSP hoisin sauce
1 TBSP oyster sauce
Stir fry shrimp, green onions, and garlic for about two minutes. Add hoisin sauce and oyster sauce. Stir through. Add peas, and then a couple minutes later, mushrooms. Stir fry until vegetables reach desired consistency (I like mine still on the crunchy side).
Assessment? Could've used a bit more sauce or spice or something. It was good, but perhaps a bit too mild in the savory department.
For Christmas, Michael bought me a bottle of Bittersweet Herbfarm's Smoked Maple Chipotle Finishing Sauce. Last night, while casting around for something new to do to a couple of pork chops, I was finally inspired to try it, and at his recommendation to get in another use of my grill pan. So I basted the chops and grilled them, continuing to baste during the cooking process. And they were amazingly good. So simple and so quick. And I liked the taste as much as I enjoy the Wasabi Ginjer Finishing Sauce that I had purchased last year -- though, of course, they are quite different. I suppose this means that at some point I may very well begin experimenting with creating my own finishing sauces. Could make some nice return Christmas presents for people.
I used to travel quite often to work-related conferences (not so much anymore which leaves me quite a bit more time for cooking), and I'd gotten in the habit of collecting local/regional cookbooks of every area I visited. I think this started when I went to Worldcon in Glasgow in 1995. This particular recipe is from Drop Dumplin's and Pan-Fried Memories. If I remember correctly, I picked this one up while attending the Heartland Writers' Conference in Missouri; confirmed by the inclusion of the recipe for Lambert's famous Throwed Rolls -- yes, they really do toss them at you across the room, and they are hot! This was also the conference where I first met Laurell K. Hamilton and Jim Butcher. In any case, last night, per request, I made yet another version of fried chicken... This time around I made it with homemade cornbread - something I think I've only made once before. It was tasty, but perhaps not quite as moist as I wanted so I guess I'll have to try a different recipe than the one I got from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
Crunchy Cornmeal Battered Chicken
1 cup white cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup milk
1 cut-up chicken (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Dip chicken pieces in milk, then roll in cornmeal mixture until well-coated. Let stand 10 minutes to dry. Heat approximately one inch of oil in skillet to medium high. Brown quickly on all sides. Reduce heat and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper and serve. (4 servings)
A couple years back, my friend Deb and I got together for a big holiday cookie baking binge. Our aim was to send the fruits, er...baked goods, of our labor to various friends as a token of the holiday spirit. And also to get to spend some quality time together doing something we both enjoy.
We'd baked together before - mostly for the supplies we bring to ACUS, but during this particular endeavor, a discussion arose concerning the fact that our chocolate chip cookies never seemed to have the same consistency; hers were crispier and mine were chewier. It wasn't until some time later that the reason was accidentally discovered (if I remember correctly, on FoodTV).
Apparently, it's all in the shortening. Or the butter. Here's why...
Butter, which has a very low melting point, will cause the cookies to spread out rapidly in the oven, and thus the cookies will be flatter and crispier. Shortening, because of its higher melting point, will hold the cookie together better. The problem being that many people feel this affects the flavor of the cookie. Recently, I've run across a few suggestions to use half shortening and half butter, so that one might get both the taste and the fluffier cookies. And conventional wisdom is to never, ever, ever use margarine -- apparently it suffers from the flaws of butter with none of the taste advantage.
I've decided I prefer them chewy, but I may attempt my next batch with half butter just to see if it really does make that much of a difference in taste.
Usually Friday night is a spaghetti with tomato sauce night (and usually I don't even have to cook it). But tonight proved to be a somewhat abberant version, since I decided to experiment. Very reminiscent of Carbonara. It was quick to prepare and wonderful to consume. Just be careful not to overload on the proscuitto as it's generally quite salty.
Proscuitto and Cream Sauce
from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
1/4 pound sliced proscuitto
3 TBSP butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound pasta
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Recommended pasta: The sauce works equally well with fettucine or tonnarelli, or with green tortellini, and with short tubular macaroni such as penne or rigatoni. (Penne this time.)
Shred the proscuitto into narrow strips. Put into a saucepan with butter, and cook over medium heat for about two minutes or until browned. Add the heavy cream and cook, stirring frequently, until you have thickened and reduced it by at least one-third. Toss the sauce with the cooked drained pasta, add the cheese, toss again, and serve with additional cheese on the side. (And I chose to add a bit of fresh ground black pepper also.)
About a year ago or so, when, as I recall, Sarah and friends were coming over for dinner, I turned up this recipe in Cook's Illustrated, one of my favorite cooking magazines. Per request, I dug out the leftover spice mix this weekend, and we had another go at it on Sunday night. The article suggests that the spices will only remain potent for three months, and while it wasn't quite as spicy as I remembered, it was still tasty. And I got to use my grill pan again too!
Jamaican Spice Rub (makes about 1 cup)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 TBSP kosher salt
3 TBSP ground coriander
2 TBSP ground ginger
2 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP ground allspice
1 TBSP ground black pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Brine and season the chicken breasts -- For each pound of chicken, dissolve 1/4 cup kosher salt (or 2 tsp table salt) and 2 TBSP sugar in 1 quart cold tap water. Submerge chicken and refrigerate 45 minutes. Remove chicken from brine, rinse under running water, and dry thoroughly. Rub all sides of each breast evenly with 1 TBSP spice rub. Refrigerate chicken, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours. Remove and grill until meat is no longer pink, or internal temperature is 160 degrees.
Hurrah! I called a local place - Thymes Remembered - this morning as I discovered over the weekend that they are listed as a vendor for the products of the Robert Rothschild Farm. And they've confirmed that they'll order in a few of my favorite items with their summer purchase (and that they have lots of other interesting stuff). Now I won't have to drive all the way to Mystic to get them!
And....dinner last night....
Sauteed Boneless Pork Chops with Tomato-Tarragon Pan Sauce
from How to Cook Without a Book
This was the first pan sauce I ever made. It now seems like a long time ago. It's a very versatile sauce - other spices can be substituted to achieve different tastes. This comes in especially handy if one wants to experiment with using other meats: chicken, turkey, scallops (which I have yet to try) and so forth. This cookbook has become one of my favorites -- first for the title I find ironic, and then because it really is a great book for internalizing some popular cooking methods.
Being me, I've once again slightly amended the recipe. For the original version, and more background on creating pan sauces, check out the cookbook.
The Pork Chops
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP oil
1 1/2 pounds of 1-inch thick pork chops
salt and pepper
Melt the butter and oil in a skillet large enough for the chops. I like to cut the chops in two pieces (or sometimes into thirds if they're very large). While the pan is heating, sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper to taste and dredge them in flour. Just before sauteeing, increase heat. When butter starts to brown, arrange chops in skillet and cook about three minutes per side. Remove to warm oven.
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry vermouth
3/4 cup diced canned tomatoes
1 tsp fresh tarragon minced (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 TBSP butter
Whisk together all ingredients except butter and reduce to approximately 1/4 cup. For best results, tomatoes should start to take on a roasted color and smell. Whisk in butter to thicken and spoon a portion over the chops before serving.
Lunch yesterday...I ran across this in the March 2003 issue of Saveur Magazine. Since poached eggs over toast were one of the great comfort foods of my childhood, I had to try these out. Simple, but very tasty, and great for an under-the-weather afternoon.
The recipe in the magazine calls for using a skillet, but I opt to use my small griddle instead:
Spray griddle lightly with non-stick spray. Butter bread lightly and pan-toast both sides on the griddle. As the second side starts to brown, use an inverted glass to cut out a circle in the middle of the slice. Set cutout aside on the griddle. Melt a small dollop of butter in the hole, crack an egg into the hole, and cook until set, about 2-3 minutes. Lightly flip if you prefer your eggs over easy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with cutout for dipping. Serves 1.
Of course, I gather they're not supposed to be called gashouse eggs...According to the article, it's a mispronounciation of Gasthaus eggs, perhaps popular to serve at German bed-and-breakfasts or inns. They've apparently also been dubbed: eggs in a bonnet, bird's nest eggs, knothole eggs, one-eyed jacks, and many other unusual names.