Monday, February 27, 2006

Pork Chops with Apple-Raisin Relish

This made a very easy and very tasty sauce for the pork chops I had in the freezer. I found it very simple to make, and I was easily able to substitute ingredients based on what I had in the kitchen.

* from The Healthy Cook

4 pork chops, trimmed of all visible fat
1/2 cup chopped sweet onions *
1/4 cup apple cider *
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of group nutmeg
2 large red or green cooking apples, diced
2 Tbsp golden raisins
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
pinch of salt

Coat a large non-stick skillet with non-stick spray and wam over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Sear the pork chops for about 2 minutes per side, or until browned. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chops have only a trace of pink in the center.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the onions, cider, cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the apples and raisins and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar, maple syrup and salt. Serve with the pork chops.

Variation:
Chicken thighs with onion-cranberry relish
Replace the pork chops with 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Replace raisins with 2 tbsp dried cranberries. Increase maple syrup to 2 tsp.

Notes
I didn't have any onions, so I used shallots instead. I also didn't have any apples cider, so I used apple juice. I probably used more than the recipe called for, but then I let it boil for a little while to reduce and concentrate the flavors a little bit, since apple juice isn't as flavorful as apple cider.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Spanish tortilla

This is for dinner tonight, with some steamed broccoli. The cookbook says it's for breakfast or brunch, but I think it'll make a fine dinner. :)

from the vegetarian times complete cookbook

5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. baby red skinned potatoes, sliced very thin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 extra-large eggs
3 large egg whites
1/2 c. shredded cheese, optional (they suggest cheddar, emmenthaler, manchego or Asiago)

Heat the skillet (cast iron, if you've got it) over medium heat, and add 3 Tbsp. oil to the skillet. Add the potatoes and saute, stirring often, until some slices are golden and the remaning are transparent and soft, about 15 to 20 min. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
Add the onion to the skillet, and saute about 6 minutes. Add to potatoes. (I'm going to add some garlic to the onion)
Beat the eggs and egg whites in a bowl until there are no streaks. Add the eggs to the potatoes and onions.
Wipe out skillet, reheat, and add remaining olive oil. When the oil is sizzling hot, spoon the potatoe mixture into the skillet and push down on the potatoes lightly to spread them evenly. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the bottom is golden.
Wearing 2 oven mitts, place a large plate on top of the skillet and quickly invert it. Return the skillet to the stove and slide the tortilla back in. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cook until the bottom is golden and set, for about 4 minutes. Aloow the tortilla to rest in a warm place for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Banana muffins

from The Best of the Best (the Best of Bridge series)

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2)
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. hot water
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and bananas. Mix well. Stir in flour and nutmeg. Dissolve soda in hot water, add to mixture. Stir in vanilla. Fill greased muffin pans 1/2 way full. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

My notes: I added nuts, and just a little more vanilla than the recipe called for, because I like vanilla.

Chinese slow-cooked pork shoulder

from food network kitchens making it easy

3 lb. trimmed pork shoulder
1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 c. chicken broth (low sodium)
1 c. dark soy sauce
1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
4 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 garlic head, halved
1 2-inch knob unpeeled fresh ginger, sliced thin
8 dried shitake mushrooms (optional)
Hot cooked Chinese egg noodles, for serving

Rub the pork with the five-powder spice and salt. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and red pepper to the slow cooker. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic, mushrooms if using and the meat, turning it a few times to coat. Cover the cooker, set it on high and cook for 4 hours. Set the cooker on low and cook at least another 2 hours.
Transfer the pork to a platter and let rest 15 minutes. Pour the cooking liquid into a measuring cup and skim off and discard the vegetables and fat that rise to the surface. Slice the meat and serve warm or at room temperature with noodles and the sauce on the side.

My notes: I had a 7-lb roast, so that's what we used. I used more 5-spice powder than this recipe calls for, and no mushrooms. We cooked it on low all day long (from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and it was very tender when I sliced it.

Chicken, spinach and gnocchi soup

from food network kitchens making it easy

Kosher salt
2 c. prepared gnocchi
4 c. chicken broth (homemade or low-sodium)
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly (or pressed)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
pinch sugar
3 c. cleaned baby spinach leaves
2 c. shredded cooked chicken
black pepper
Hunk of good Parmesean (asiago would work, too)

Bring a medium saucepan of cold water to boil and salt generously. Add the gnocchi and cook about 3 min. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, put 1/4 c. of the chicken broth, garlic, butter and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, bring it to a simmer and cook about 1 minute, until the garlic is tender. Add the spinach and let it wilt about 30 seconds. Add the remaining chicken broth and chicken and bring just to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and bring to a full boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls and shower with freshly grated cheese.

My notes: This soup was fantastic, and really easy. I threw a few parm cheese rinds I had in the freezer in the soup when I added the rest of the broth, which made it even better.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Texas Tofu

I've been sort of slacking about trying new recipes for a couple of weeks, but we're getting back into the swing of things this week. Here is one we did try last week, that was really tasty.

from the vegetarian times complete cookbook


4 1-inch slices sourdough bread
3 c. vegetarian baked beans
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 pound firm or extra firm tofu, cut into large cubes
4 Tbsp. soy "bacon" bits
8 oz shredded cheese (soy if you like), cheddar and Monterey Jack
1/2 c. cilantro leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 450. Arrange the bread in a large baking dish, then set aside.
Put the beans in a saucepan, heat.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until golden. Remove and set aside.
Combine cumin, chili powder, onion powder and cornstarch in a large bowl. Place tofu in the bowl, dust each side with mixture. Add remaning oil to the skillet, and saute tofu until crispy, 3 to 5 min on each side. Remove from heat, place in bowl with the onions.
Spoon the beans over the bread, sprinkle bacon bits on top. Top with tofu and onions, and sprinkle each portion with cheese.
Bake for 5 minutes, until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

My notes: We didn't have any bacon bits or bread, so we did without. Was still really tasty.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Asian noodle soup

I wanted to replicate this fantastic recipe at a tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Chinatown, and this, from the Food Network website, was a reasonable facimile.

I used one of those bagged salads (called Asian Mix or something), because I couldn't find any cabbage -- or "Chinese vegetables," not sure what that means exactly -- at the grocery store. That worked out really well, with a lot of variety, but it would be fine with just cabbage and bean sprouts, too. I also put in a lot of broccoli, chopped very small; I might try bok choi next time, because they put that in the soup I was trying to copy.

4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, plus 1 teaspoon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (I made it 1 -- 2 seemed like a lot)
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese chile paste (I didn't have this and just used regular chili powder, and a lot more than half a teaspoon)
8 cups chicken broth
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut crosswise into thin strips
4 cups chopped Chinese vegetables or Napa cabbage
1 (5-ounce) package rice noodles, prepared according to packing directions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
6 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

Mix soy sauce, mirin, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, garlic, ginger,
sugar, vinegar, and chile paste in a small bowl.

Heat the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the soy sauce mixture, the chicken, and the vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for two minutes or until chicken is cooked through. (I cooked the chicken first and then put in the veggies, just to be safe.)

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Pour over prepared Chinese noodles.

Garnish with cilantro and scallions.