Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oven - Barbequed Pork Chops - serves 4

I am a HUGE fan of BBQ. And although I can get no where close to to how the real "pitmasters" do theirs, I try to indulge myself with quick, easy recipes that do the job of satisfying our appetites. This recipe is really simple and requires very little prep. Serve with your version of slaw and cornbread or whip up some mashed sweet potatoes to go on the side and your dinner is done.

1 1/2-1 3/4 pounds bone-in, 3/4-inch-thick pork rib chops, trimmed of fat
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add the pork chops and cook until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add orange juice and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in barbecue sauce. Return the pork chops to the pan, turning several times to coat with the sauce.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the pork chops are barely pink in the middle and an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F, 6 to 10 minutes. Serve the sauce over the pork chops.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Shoulder - serves 4

I love Asian food. In fact, there is a wonderful Asian market in Richardson (don't ask me the name of it because it's written in Chinese) that has the best vegetables to choose from along with wonderful Asian ingredients. If you can get past the whopping fish smell as you enter, it makes for a fun "field trip" with the kids.
I found this in an issue of Real Simple, made it and it was gone within a few minutes. This recipe is easy and all you need is a crock pot.

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 tbs chili-garlic sauce
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder (at Whole Foods or Central Market)
Kosher salt and pepper
2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup long grain white rice
1 medium head of bok choy, thinly sliced, about 8 cups
2 scallions, sliced

1. In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, five-spice powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender, on high for about 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

2. Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook rice according to package directions.

3. Meanwhile, trim off and discard any fat from the pork. Gently fold the bok choy into the pork and cook, covered, until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with scallions.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Asparagus and Artichole Pesto with Fettucine - serves 4, with leftovers

The misconception about pesto is that it's made from just basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. However, you can create your own using just about anything. As long as you keep the olive oil, pine nuts (or walnuts/pecans) and parmesan handy, adding whatever sounds good to the mix can be lots of fun and create all sorts of "add-on's" to any dish.

You can also refrigerate any leftovers and/or freeze for a quick meal later.

16 oz of fettucine

1 bunch of asparagus

1 12oz can of artichoke hearts, drained

1/2 cup toasted pecans, walnuts or pine nuts

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

Bring a large pot of salted water (use plain Morton's table salt, about 2 tbs to 8qts water) to a rapid boil. Meanwhile, trim the bottoms of the asparagus. Once water is at a boil, add asparagus and boil for 3 minutes. (This is called par-boiling or blanching.) While boiling, grab a colander and fill halfway with ice. Remove asapargus with tongs and put in colander, spray with cold water and tossing with ice. (This stops the cooking.) Chop and set aside and reserve about 1/2 water of your cooking liquid.

In a food processor, add the chopped asparagus, artichoke, walnuts, cheese and garlic. Pulse while adding olive oil to create a "grainy" consistancy. Season with salt and pepper.

Add to your now cooked pasta, adding a little of the reserve "asparagus water" to wet the pesto so that the noodles are thoroughly coated. Add more if you'd like. Serve with extra parmasan cheese and parsley.

(Side note: what pesto you save, you can fix this dish again by using Orrechiette pasta (looks like mini scoops), grilled chicken, chopped tomatoes and frozen, steamed broccoli.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hot Chile Grilled Cheese, serves 4

I'm always up to making something quick, particularly when both kids have sports on weekday evenings. This recipe is fast and really tasty. Just grab a bag of coleslaw, mix in some Dijon mustard, olive oil, red wine vnegar, salt, pepper and stir and add as a side to the following:

4 poblano peppers
1 14 oz can pinto beans, low sodium
3 tbs salsa
Kosher salt
1/2 cup shredded Monterray Jack or Cheddar cheese
2 tbs plain, low-fat yogurt
3 scallions, sliced
2 tbs chopped, fresh cilantro
8 slices sourdough bread

Place the peppers in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap amd microwave on High until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes (my new trick!). Let stand, covered, until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, combine beans, salsa and salt in a medium bowl. Mash the beans with a fork until they begin to form a paste (some will remain whole). Combine cheese, yogurt, scallions and cilantro in a small bowl.

When the peppers are cool, slice each one in half lengthwise and remove stem and seeds.

Heat pannini maker (no pannini maker? See below) to high. Spread 1/3 cup of bean mixture on bread. Top with heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture. Place 2 pepper halves over the cheese and cover with remaining slice.

Grill the panninis until golden brown and through, about 4 minutes. Cut in half and serve immediately.

(Stove-top: heat skillet (not non-stick) and add 1 tbs canola oil over medium high heat. Place 2 sandwiches on skillet, topping with a plate with two 15 oz cans on top. Cook until golden on one side, 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, repeat and cook until the 2nd side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more. Do the same with the remaining two sandwiches.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Parchment Paper Salmon, serves 4

I normally always cook healthy, since my husband over indulges himself when I don't. We wives can nag all we want that our loved ones should eat healthier and get some exercise however we nag to deaf ears. Fortunately for me, my husband has sought out a trainer, who, in agreement with me, agrees that hubby needs to eat better AND lose weight. Joy to my ears as my dinners get even healthier. This one is easy and only requires parchment paper and one pot to to cook the entire meal. And, healthy to boot.

1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered
1 cup frozen peas
3.5 tbs unsalted butter, chopped
2 tbs chopped parsley
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tbs creme fraiche (at Central Market or Whole Foods) or sour cream
4 skinless salmon fillets
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 375. Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for 7-8 minutes until tender. Drain.
Lay four sheets of parchment paper (large enough to hold the fish and vegetables) onn a work surface. Place the potatoes in the center of each, then top with the peas, butter, herbs, zest, creme fraiche and salmon. Drizzle with oil, lemon juice and stock. Fold the edges of the parchment paper to form well-sealed parcels. Place on a tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until the fish is just cooked. Serve parcels to be opened at the table.

Wrap in foil if you want to cook on grill.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm Out of the Corporate World, Finally Cooking Bolognese

Here I sit, finally, doing what I love... cooking. For those of you who have pestered me about keeping up with my blog, well, I'm going to start. I've left the corporate world and am now cooking full time. Something I've wanted for a long time. So, I will start with a classic pasta dish, Bolognese. This is a wonderful, Italian recipe that is served best with linguini or as a meat sauce for lasagna. It warms my husbands belly and with a wonderful glass of red wine, will warm yours as well. Enjoy!

Classic Bolognese Lasagna
Makes 3 cups, enough for 1 pd of pasta
1 pkg fettuccine, cooked to package instructions
3 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs minced onion
2 tbs minced carrot
2 tbs minced celery
12 oz meatloaf mix or 4 oz each ground beef chuck, ground veal and ground pork
Kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes packed in juice, chopped fine, juice reserved
NOTE: Don’t drain the pasta of its cooking liquid too much when using this sauce; a little water left clinging to the noodles will help distribute the very thick sauce evenly to the noodles, as will adding an extra 2 tablespoons of butter along with the sauce. Top each serving with a little grated Parmesan and pass extra grated cheese at the table. If doubling this recipe, increase the simmering times for the milk and the wine to 30 minutes each and the simmering time once the tomatoes are added to 4 hours.
1. Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot and celery and sauté until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add ground meat and ½ teaspoon salt; crumble meat, with the edge of a wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.
2. Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low so that the sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at the surface, until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste and serve over pasta.