Friday, March 26, 2010

Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions

The other day I posted a recipe for a pork chop brine. I thought it might be good to give an idea for something you could do with the chops once they are brined. This is a super-simple recipe that will come out tasting great whether your pork chops are brined or not. If they are not, simply salt them liberally on both sides before browning them.

2 tsp Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, Thinly Sliced
1 tsp Olive Oil
2 Center Cut Pork Chops, Brined if you have time, salted if not
1/2 Cup White Wine, Chicken Broth or Water

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to brown, 20-30 minutes.

Push the onions to the side of the pan and add 1 tsp more oil and turn the heat up to medium. Cook the chops until browned, 5-7 minutes per side.

Pour in the wine, broth, or water and stir to pick up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the pork chops are done (145 on an instant read thermometer), 8-10 minutes longer depending on the thickness of your chops.

Serve each pork chop with a big scoop of onions on top.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brine for Pork Chops

While not strictly necessary, I like to brine my pork chops when I think of it and have time. It adds just a bit of extra insurance that the chops will come out nice and moist and juicy. Brining the meat makes it both more flavorful and juicier, so if you happen to leave it cooking a few extra minutes, it will still be excellent.

This is a basic brine that I really like. You could add other flavors with different types of sugar or honey, different vinegars, citrus juice, a little heat from chili flakes...You get the idea.

1 Cup Broth
2 Tbsp Salt
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Cold Water
2 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp Peppercorns
1 Clove Garlic, Peeled and Smashed
2 Center Cut Pork Chops

Combine the broth, salt, and brown sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour into a shallow bowl, and add the cold water, cider vinegar, bay leaf, peppercorns and garlic. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before adding the pork chops. Cover and refrigerate from 4-8 hours. Remove the pork chops from the brine, pat dry, and cook according to your recipe as you would non-brined chops.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rice Pilaf

My mom taught me how to make this rice dish when I was a young girl. I always think of it in my mind as "homemade rice-a-roni". But, unlike the boxed stuff, this version is not salty and is just as easy to prepare!

The recipe is best made with angel hair or spaghetti, but I was out of both and substituted the linguine you will see in the photos. It turned out fine, but I would still recommend a thinner pasta.

Rice Pilaf

1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1-2 oz Spaghetti or Angel Hair Pasta, Broken into 2-inch Pieces
1 Cup White Rice
1 3/4 Cup Stock (Veggie, Chicken, or Beef)
3/4 Cup Water

Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then stir in the broken up pasta. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is browned, 5-7 minutes. Add the rice, and stir to coat with the fat. Slowly pour in the stock and the water and stir everything around. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes, checking every 10 minutes or so. If it is cooking too fast, add more liquid and reduce the heat. Let stand, covered, at least 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Cabbage Salad

This is a recipe I turn to time and time again. It is based on Mark Bittman's cabbage salad from How to Cook Everything.

1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard (I used grainy)
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Tbs Sugar (or more to taste)
2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 Head Cabbage, Thinly Sliced (about 3 cups)
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Diced
2 Green Onions, Sliced
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Chopped Parsley

Whisk together the Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and sugar in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the cabbage, red bell pepper, and green onions. Toss to coat with the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to serve. The salad is best if it sits for at least one hour. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, toss, and serve.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Teriyaki Skirt Steak

Wow. It's been awhile since my last post. I have to admit, I have been pretty un-inspired when it comes to cooking, except, of course for St. Patrick's Day. I think I am suffering from between-season blahs, if there is such a thing. The time for winter food is definitely past, but the spring produce isn't quite available yet. But with this gorgeous, sunny weather, that is bound to change soon!

In the meantime, here is an easy recipe for Teriyaki Skirt Steak that you can enjoy any time. (If grilling outdoors is not an option, this steak can be prepared indoors on a grill pan or under the broiler.)

Teriyaki Skirt Steak

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Canola or Peanut Oil
2 Tbsp Mirin
2 1/2 Tbsp Sugar (more or less to taste)
3 Green Onions, sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 Skirt Steak, 1 1/2 - 2 lbs.
More sesame oil for brushing steak

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and stir until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, canola or peanut oil, mirin and sugar in a shallow bowl. Add in the green onions, garlic and toasted sesame seeds. Add the skirt steak, and turn to coat well with the marinade. Marinade in the refrigerator, turning occasionally for 2 - 4 hours.

Heat your grill (or grill pan) over high heat. Remove the skirt steak from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Brush the steak with sesame oil, both for added flavor, and to prevent sticking. Grill the skirt steak to desired level of doneness, turning once during cooking. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your steak, ours took about 14 minutes total to get to medium-rare. Let rest for 10 minutes, slice thinly across the grain and serve.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Braised Cabbage and Apples - Quicky Recipe

Here is a really great cabbage recipe to go with the Irish Bread and Corned Beef. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos to go along with it, but it is a really great dish!

Braised Cabbage and Apples

3 Tbsp Butter
1 Head Cabbage, Cored and Thinly Sliced
2 Medium Apples, Cored and Diced
1/4 Water or Stock
A Couple Big Spoonfuls of cooking juices from the corned beef (optional, but quite tasty)

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cabbage and saute until beginning to wilt, 5-8 minutes. Stir in the apples and the water or stock. Cover and cook until the cabbage and apples are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more liquid if it seems to dry. Once the cabbage is done, stir in a few spoonfuls of the corned beef cooking liquid (if using).

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oven-Braised Corned Beef

This is a variation of a recipe I saw on All Recipes about 6 or so years ago. I decided to go out on a limb and give it a try, and boy am I glad I did! It is a very unconventional way to cook corned beef, but it turns out great every time, not at all stringy like it can be when boiled.

Go ahead, take a little risk of your own and cook your corned beef this way this year. You will be glad you did!

Oven-Braised Corned Beef

1 Corned Beef Brisket - About 5 Pounds for 6 servings with leftovers
Spice Pack from the Corned Beef, or 2 Tbsp Pickling Spice
1 Large Orange, Cut in Rounds
2 Celery Stalks, Cut in 2-inch Pieces
1 Large Onion, Peeled and Sliced
1/2 - 1 Cup Guiness Beer (or Beef Broth or Water)

Preheat the oven to 300

Line a 9 x 13 inch roasting pan with aluminum foil, leaving about 8 inches extra on both ends, enough to seal in the roast.

Pat the roast dry and rub with the spices.

Place it in the prepared roasting pan and cover with the orange slices, celery pieces, and onion slices, stacking along the sides of the roast as well as covering the top. Pour in 1/2 cup - 1 cup of Guiness (it should come about 1/2 up the roast, not cover it completely) and seal up the aluminum foil.

Bake in the 300 degree oven for 3 1/2 - 4 hours, or until the meat is tender. Remove to a cutting board and let rest about 10 minutes before slicing.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick's day is one week from today, so over the next little while I will be posting some of my favorite St. Paddy's recipes.

When I was growing up, St. Patrick's day was a huge deal in our house. We got new green clothes, and my mom always threw a big party with corned beef and all the fixings.

This is her recipe for Soda Bread. She always made 2 loaves, one with caraway seeds for the grown-ups, and one without for the kids. I must admit, however, that even though I can't claim to be a kid anymore, I still prefer my soda bread without the caraway seeds. You should make it whichever way you will enjoy it!

2 Cups Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Caraway Seeds (optional)
2 Tbsp Oil
1 Cup Milk

Preheat oven to 350

Lightly grease an 8-inch cake pan

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and caraway seeds (if using) in a medium bowl. Combine the oil and milk in a measuring cup. Pour the milk and oil into the flour mixture and stir to combine. It will be pretty sticky. Pat the dough into your prepared cake pan and bake in the 350 oven until nicely browned and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Mini Apple Tarts

I had some pie crusts in the fridge that needed using, as well as apples on the counter suffering the same fate. Also, I have these cute little mini tart pans, and so this recipe came to be. This is a really quick dessert (or breakfast) to throw together, especially if you use the refrigerated dough.

Mini Apple Tarts

1 Refrigerated Pie Crust (or homemade)
2-3 Apples, Cored and Thinly Sliced
1 Tbsp (approximately) Sugar
3 Tbsp Apricot Jam
1 Tbsp Calvados, Rum, Water or Apple Brandy or Liqueur

Preheat oven to 350

Roll out and cut your pie crust to fit the mini tart pans. Press the crust into the pans and arrange the apple slices to fill the pans. Sprinkle with sugar and bake until the crust is nicely browned and the apples are soft, about 20-25 minutes.

Whisk together the apricot jam and liquid of choice. Brush over the tarts when they are warm out of the oven. Remove them from the pans and let them cool before enjoying.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Asian Lettuce Cups

This one is a tasty Asian dish that is a change of pace from your run-of-the-mill stir fry. Or maybe stir-fry isn't run-of-the-mill, but it seems like whenever I want Asian, I turn to stir-fry, forgetting all about these poor, tasty lettuce cups. You can serve these as an appetizer ahead of a bigger Asian feast if you're having guests. But for just 2 people, it is more than enough food for an entree with maybe some rice or pot stickers or egg rolls on the side.

1/2 Lb. Ground Turkey
1 tsp Oyster Sauce
1/2 tsp Soy Sauce
2 tsp Canola Oil
1 tsp Minced Ginger
1 Carrot, Diced (about 3/4 Cup)
1 Small Zucchini, Diced (about 3/4 Cup)
3/4 Cup White or Shiitake Mushrooms, Chopped
1 Cup Water Chestnuts, Diced
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Dry Sherry
Butter or Iceberg Lettuce Leaves

Optional Toppings:

Hoisin Sauce
Asian Chili Sauce or Chili Garlic Sauce

Place meat in a bowl with oyster and soy sauces. Stir to coat and let stand for about 10 minutes, while you chop the veggies.

Place a wok or frying pan over high heat until hot. Swirl the canola oil around the pan, and add the ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the meat and cook until no longer pink, stirring to crumble, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and water chestnuts and stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and sherry.

To serve, spoon the meat mixture into a lettuce leaf. Top with hoisin or chili sauce as desired, roll or fold and eat with your hands.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Alton Brown's Tres Leches Cake

We made this tres leches cake yesterday, and while these photos certainly do not do it justice, the cake was AMAZING!

I made my husband take the leftovers to work with him so I wouldn't eat it all today. Seriously. I am not generally a fan of cakes, or desserts, or sweets in general. But this cake is really that good.

Do you like the binary number candles on the birthday cake?

The only change we made to the recipe was to use only 1/4 cup of sugar in the whipped cream topping and we found it plenty sweet.