Tuesday, December 27, 2011

warm roasted beets and shallots with prosciutto and mint

One of the many roasted vegetable dishes we made for Christmas Day dinner this year. Definitely my favorite (obviously, because it has beets). Leave out the prosciutto (which I honestly didn't find all that flavorful in the dish) and it's vegan! This recipe is from this year's  Fine Cooking "Make-Ahead Holidays" issue, and you can also find it here. The recipe makes a side dish for about four people.

1 pound small or medium beets, scrubbed but not peeled
5 large shallots, peeled
4 teaspoons olive oil
kosher salt to taste
5 small or 2 big sprigs fresh rosemary

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces prosciutto, cut into strips
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
kosher salt to taste
pinch (by which you know I mean "heap") of crushed red pepper
15-25 large mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Crisscross two large sheets of aluminum foil on a baking sheet.

Slice the stems and tails off of the beets, and quarter them (or cut into sixths or eighths if using large beets). Slice the shallots into quarters lengthwise. Toss beets and shallots with the olive oil and about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and place close together (but in one layer) on the foil. Try to put the shallots in surrounded by beets so they soak up the color. Place the rosemary sprigs on top, fold the foil over and scrunch the ends so it's secure. Roast in the oven for about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Make the dressing by warming the olive oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the prosciutto and sauté until it's crispy, then remove it and place it on a paper towel to cool. Turn the heat down to medium-low and sauté the garlic until the slices are translucent and a little bit golden (about a minute, when I did it). Stir in the vinegar, red pepper, and salt, and remove from the heat.

When the beets and shallots are done, open the foil packet and let them cool for about twenty minutes. At this point we ended up peeling all of the beet slices, because the peels were bitter as hell, but if you like that/desperately want to follow the original recipe, leave them on. Toss the (peeled) beets and shallots with the dressing. Shred the mint leaves and mix through the dish along with the crispy prosciutto.

You can roast the beets and shallots a day ahead, if you're cooking on a tight schedule. Just roast them in an open pan on 400ºF for ten minutes or so while  you make the dressing and prosciutto and shred the mint.

We made a lot of vegetables for this meal. There were only nine of us, but we had all of the ones above, plus two different kinds of Hungarian cabbage (stuffed and purple). And scalloped potatoes, which are sort of traditionally in the vegetable category, but probably more in dairy because of the amount of cream that goes into them. And a beef tenderloin that was wrapped in bacon and then covered with horseradish sauce. The meal was awesome, well-balanced, and rainbow-y.

I meant it before when I said you can make this vegan... the real star of the dish is the mint, which takes it from nice to fascinating. The prosciutto didn't taste like much besides salt. I highly recommend making the vegan version and then eating it with leftover ham from Christmas Eve, as seen in the first photo. Bonus: use extra mint to decorate/enhance your inevitable helping of dobos torte, which I swear is an amazing idea, however many eyebrows my family raised at it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

autumn to winter

autumn to winter

autumn to winter by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring cotton socks

How much do I love brown and grey together? Must be a result of growing up in a city where winter lasts half the year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

sausage rolls and currywurst sauce

I spent a rather unwise amount of money in New York this past weekend, so I'm behaving myself and using up the food that's stashed in my freezer. Most of this, it turns out, is frozen fruit and vegetables, but I'm also apparently in possession of a large quantity of meat that I'd more or less forgotten about. I'm not all that experienced with cooking fancy meats, but I'm pretty good at making peasant food with a lot of carbs. And so, behold... sausage rolls and currywurst sauce, combining my nostalgia for England with my love of weird German stuff and general fondness for food that's terrible for me.

The sausage roll recipe is pretty much the one from Sew, Cook, Create, and the currywurst sauce is loosely based on one from Saveur.

Sausage Rolls

1 pound ground meat (I used Italian sausage because I had some... use whatever you like)
1/2 small yellow onion, minced or grated
1 carrot, grated
1 egg
1 tablespoon dried basil or rosemary
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 sheets puff pastry, 2/3 thawed
1 tablespoon milk or cream to brush the pastry with

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Mix everything but the pastry and milk together in a large bowl. Using your hands is the easiest way to get everything even, and who doesn't enjoy squishing raw meat between their fingers?

Cut the sheets of puff pastry in half, and arrange the meat mixture in long cylinders along one edge of each piece. Roll up the pastry around the meat, tucking the edges under, and cut each roll into four to six pieces.

Brush the tops with milk and bake on parchment paper for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops have browned. I ended up with about 30 rolls. You can store them in the refrigerator for a day or two, or freeze wrapped in foil and sealed in a freezer bag. Reheat in the oven or microwave.

Currywurst Sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 cup peeled whole canned tomatoes with juice 
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
sriracha sauce to taste (by which I mean lots of sriracha)

Cook the onion in the canola oil over medium-high heat until it softens. Add the curry powder and paprika and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and juice and crush them with your spoon. Add the sugar, vinegar, salt, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce reduces a bit. Puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Serve on everything.

Sausage rolls are usually eaten as snacks and currywurst sauce is put on actual sausages (much better than chili on hotdogs, in my opinion), but obviously they go fabulously together. This would be a fantastic appetizer for a party, but you can always eat if for dinner like I did tonight. Just make sure you cook some broccoli or something with this meal so you don't die of scurvy. Not to mention broccoli = more things to dip in the sauce.

Bonus dessert: I ended up with an extra strip of puff pastry, so I sprinkled it with sugar, ginger, and cinnamon, rolled it up and cut it into little slices. Baked and served with some freshly-whipped cream (another thing I found languishing in the fridge). I'm not big on dessert but I adore real whipped cream and these little rolls are basically an even simpler version of those palmiers I fell in love with earlier this year. Lovely all around.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

black and blue

black and blue

black and blue by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring a beret hat

It finally got cold enough to wear the awesome Prairie Underground tunic I picked up this summer, so I figured I'd celebrate by playing with Polyvore during class.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

spaghetti (squash) and meatballs

A few days ago I came across this recipe on one of my favorite cooking sites, and then almost immediately came across spaghetti squash at Trader Joe's. It was fate, I tell you.

1 large spaghetti squash
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 - 2/3 cup fresh ricotta

1/2 - 2/3 cup spaghetti sauce of your choice
2-3 servings of meatballs, cooked (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put the squash in a shallow baking dish (to prevent rolling) and pierce it on all sides with a knife (about twice on each quarter). Stick it in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until it's a bit soft to the touch and a knife slides in easily. Your house will smell like brown sugar while it bakes, which is awesome.

Let the squash cool until you can handle it easily, then cut it in half lengthwise with a big, sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and the mushy, dark orange bits from the middle, and discard them. Take a fork and carefully comb out the spaghetti threads, which is all that yellow flesh between the seeds and the rind, into a large baking dish (I used the one I baked the squash in) or oven-proof bowl. The amount of ricotta and sauce you need is based around how much 'spaghetti' you get--my squash wasn't very big but I got about four cups of threads, so I used more cheese and sauce.

The fork should separate the threads enough that you can then toss them with the salt, pepper, and ricotta, which should be broken up but not totally mixed (two big forks will make this easy). At this point you can either mix in the spaghetti sauce (like the original recipe) or leave it to coat the meatballs (my version).

Either way, put the baking dish under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the depth of your squash. While it's broiling, heat up your meatballs (and sauce, if you've chosen to do this my way/forgotten to add the sauce to the main dish like I did).

When the dish is a little bit browned on top, take it out and serve with the meatballs. Garnish/spice with crushed red pepper.

This stuff was delicious. The texture is different from real spaghetti in that it crunches a bit and is too tangly for a Lady and the Tramp-style pasta-kiss, but it has a surprising amount of flavor, including some of that brown sugar it imitated while baking. I left the tomato sauce out of the original batch because I wasn't paying attention to the recipe and just plain forgot, but I liked the interplay of squash, ricotta, and crushed pepper enough that I'm not disappointed.

I used my beloved Ikea frozen meatballs and some Ikea spaghetti sauce that turned out to be pretty good, especially after a heavy infusion of sriracha sauce and garlic powder. If you're making a veggie version of this I'd either mix the sauce into the squash before broiling or toss it over some sauteed vegetables while you heat it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

marmalade bread and butter pudding

Another hit from the party. Personally, I found this stuff overwhelmingly sweet, but a lot of people told me they loved it, so maybe you'd like to try it out! From Donna Hay. The photo is of the pudding pre-baking, and I probably won't make it again and take another one, so go to the original recipe to see what it's supposed to look like.

several sticks softened butter
8 thick slices of soft-crusted white bread
1 cup marmalade
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
3 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (save seeds)
1/4 cup currants
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 320ºF. Butter the bread slices, spread half with marmalade and combine to form sandwiches.  Cut them in half and arrange crust-down in a small, deep baking dish.

Whisk the milk, cream, eggs, caster sugar, and vanilla bean seeds in a big bowl. Stir in the currants and pour over the bread until the dish is mostly full. Stick the vanilla bean into the middle, near the top but in the liquid. Let the pudding soak for a couple minutes. In the meantime, boil a pot of water. 

Pour in more of the milk mixture if there's space/you have some left. Sprinkle the Demerara sugar over everything. Place the baking dish into a larger, similarly deep ovenproof pan, place on oven rack, and fill larger pan with the boiling water halfway up the side of the smaller dish. Bake for an hour or until the pudding has just set.

 Make sure your baking dishes fit together okay before you make this! (Note: the ones shown are not ideal, there should be more space between the pans on the long sides.)

The 'broth.' The number of puddings we made for that party required about two gallons of it.

I'd like to see what happens if I make this with wheat bread and a less sweet jelly than the marmalade (maybe the lingonberry one from Ikea?) and some tweaks to the broth, because it's a cool idea but the flavor is just so sugary it's hard for me to enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

brandied meatballs

These were the biggest hit at that giant party back in August. It took me until now to retrieve the recipe from my mom's house, or I would've posted it ages ago. Hopefully I'll have a chance to make these soon and replace that photo (hastily taken during the party), because it absolutely does not do them justice. Not sure what magazine this came out of... we found it in my mom's endless binders of recipes.

4 cups beef broth
1 cup mango chutney
1/2 cup red pepper jelly
1/3 cup brandy (or, you know, whatever's left in the bottle)
1/4 cup cornstarch whisked with 1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds frozen meatballs

In a large pot, whisk together everything except for the meatballs and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep warm on the stove or in a crock pot to serve.

When we made these we cooked the broth the day before and let it sit overnight... it tasted much more intense the next day, so I'd recommend letting it sit a while if you have the time. We tripled or quadrupled the batch for the party... the recipe says this normal amount serves 10 as an appetizer. When I remake this I'm planning on using the frozen Swedish meatballs from Ikea, but you could use homemade or any kind from the store.

spicy sweet potato mash

 This is the recipe that showed me just how messed up my oven was when I first moved into my apartment... so obviously I had to make up for that disaster by trying it again. And it was totally worth it. Original recipe from The Energy Chef, I upped the spices and the hot sauce. This would make about four big side dish portions.

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (about 6 per potato)
1-1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup half and half
2-infinity tablespoons sriracha sauce*

* To taste. Original recipe called for 1, I used 1 1/2 and kept adding until it was spicy enough (ended up with about 3). But my standards for spicy are pretty high.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Put the cut potatoes on a baking sheet (on top of parchment paper, if you have it--cleanup will be much easier), flat sides up. Drizzle with the olive oil and dust with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bake until they're soft, 40-50 minutes.

Place the potato chunks in a large mixing bowl. Peel off any burnt edges (or don't... they taste kind of caramel-y and I like them), add the butter in large chunks, half and half, and sriracha. Use an electric mixer to beat the potatoes until the butter is all melted. If you don't have a mixer, mash the potatoes a bit before adding the butter and stuff. Garnish with some hot paprika.

I had these with a honeycrisp apple and some leftover chunks of calabrese salami (not pictured, but delicious). The sriracha flavor really came through in the potatoes, and so did the nutmeg. Might leave out the cinnamon next time in favor of some sweet paprika. Overall, delicious and seriously easy. Make immediately.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cozy in the Fall

Cozy in the Fall

Cozy in the Fall by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring a zipper dress

It finally got cold enough to wear one of my Missoni x Target pieces! I'm really fond of this sweater, and I can't wait to wear it with the matching dress, but I figured I'd start out slowly. I love pieces that let me mix brown and black, because I love my brown Boden boots (they look pretty similar to the ones in the set, but are way too old to still be online) and I almost never get to wear them. Fall in Michigan is beautiful so far, but this outfit felt like a New York outfit, hence the Central Park background.

Monday, September 26, 2011

beet and smoked sausage soup

An excess of farmer's market beets in your fridge and a large quantity of Hungarian salami in your freezer? This recipe can help you out. Or am I the only person who every has that problem? It seems near constant.

This recipe is from the Canadian Living test kitchen, but it's definitely the kind of hearty, spicy food that pulls at my Eastern European heartstrings. It also appeals to my weird obsession with food that is not food-colored (in this case, dark magenta and bright orange). Unfortunately none of my photos turned out very well, but trust me when I say that this soup is as pretty as it is delicious. And completely capable of staining through three layers of clothing. So wear black when you make it. And eat it.

5-8 medium-sized beets
2 tablespoons butter
2 ribs celery, diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried dill
6-8 ounces smoked spicy sausage, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
juice from one large lemon
1 stalk fresh rosemary, if you have it on hand
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Rinse and scrub the beets clean, and trim off any dangling ends. Drizzle very lightly with olive oil, and wrap in tinfoil. Place the packets on a baking sheet and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until they're tender enough for a dinner knife to sink in without much pressure. Cool for twenty minutes or so, then slide/cut off the skins (under running water is easiest and cleanest) and dice. Set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat in the bottom of your thick-bottomed soup pot and cook the celery, onion, carrots, dill, salt, and pepper until softened (about seven or eight minutes). Add the sausage and cook for another three minutes or so. Add the potatoes and beets and cook for another minute. 

Slowly pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the rosemary (wrap it in cheesecloth if you don't want bits floating around in your soup) and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and serve with rice, barley, or oyster crackers.

This stuff is delicious. You could probably even make it vegetarian, but you'd have to do something to compensate for the loss of spice from the sausage. I'd probably throw in some of the hot red peppers we use for paprikás, and add another tablespoon or two of butter for thickness.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

spicy spinach pesto

This recipe is entirely my own, and entirely the result of having a large bag of spinach that wasn't going to last much longer. It's also one of my 25 recipes, even though I've stopped pretending I'm actually going to finish that. Probably should have put more thought into the list, because some of it just isn't practical for me to make on my own.

I'd never had spinach pesto before, but I figured it was a logical switch, since spinach leaves are fairly similar to basil leaves in everything except for flavor. And I had a lot of spinach and not much basil (my one little plant grows bravely, but sadly there isn't enough sunlight in my apartment for it to really flourish). And it worked out really, really well. Especially once I added a handful of crushed pepper, because that makes everything better. As usual, all measurements below are approximate. Adjust according to your taste. This made enough pesto to fill a 14 ounce jar with a couple of tablespoons left over, so it would probably cover pasta for about four people.

2-3 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
handful of fresh basil leaves (as many as your plant can spare)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup olive oil
3-6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
zest and juice of one small lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
crushed red pepper to taste (I used about two tablespoons)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Put a tablespoon or so of the olive oil and a small handful of the spinach into your food processor* and chop up. This is the starter for your pesto (it helps everything blend more smoothly). Add the spinach and olive oil a handful/tablespoon at a time and continue to process. After the first one, add another ingredient with the spinach. I did walnuts first, then garlic, then the lemon, and the crushed pepper last, but it depends on which things you want crushed up the most. Taste and adjust. Mix in the cheese last (my processor has a 'stir' setting that was helpful here). Store in a jar or tupperware in your fridge... I'm guessing it'll last about a week.

* Note: don't use a blender for this, or you will just get green liquid that looks like it's from a swamp. Or at least don't use my blender for this. Maybe yours can do it.

Serve tossed with pasta and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with a dollop of ricotta or more parmesan. Or, you know, on toast. Because it's that delicious.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

rosemary brown sugar pork chops

Aside from being one of the first real things I've cooked in my new apartment, these pork chops were the first things to be cooked in my brand new cast iron pan. I've wanted one for years but have always been denied the pleasure, either due to practical issues or because I was worried that a careless roommate would destroy my wonderful pan. But now I have one (three, actually--they came as a set), and I completely earned it by lugging it around a gigantic mall, onto a crowded bus, and then up a hill because I accidentally got off said bus about four stops early. Totally worth it. This recipe came from The Kitchn, and I only messed around with it a little bit (more of all the seasonings). My pork chops were very thin, since I was originally planning on using them in a stir-fry rather than whole, but they soaked up the flavors really nicely.

2 large or 4 small pork chops
1 - 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons pepper*
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Mix the rosemary, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and cumin together in a shallow dish, and coat the pork chops in it. If you have time, cover them and stick them in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors soak in (I highly recommend this). Take them out of the refrigerator and let them sit for ten minutes or so.

Heat the oil over medium high, and put in the pork chops. Cook a couple of minutes on each side (mine were super-thin, so they only took about two minutes per side, but a nice thick one would take more like five minutes on each), until the internal temperature is about 145ºF. Having a meat thermometer is helpful, but I ended up just cutting them open to see if they were cooked through. The brown sugar will caramelize a little on the outside, which is my favorite part of this dish.

Remove from the pan and cover with foil to finish cooking. Serve with something delicious (I had orzo with pesto and sundried tomatoes, which you'll see in the next post).

* I used this crazy flower pepper from Trader Joe's, which I've been putting on everything lately. Highly recommend it.

Coming soon: more recent stuff, plus some peeks into that epic dinner party my mother and I cooked back in August.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Miu Miu Glitter Love

Miu Miu Glitter Love

Miu Miu Glitter Love by whiskeyinyrshoes

I love this collection and I want to own every bit of it. Except I would never wear them, because I hate heels and peep-toes. But I could just sit there and look at them for years.

P.S. sorry if all my saved items are showing up in your RSS feed, I can't figure out how to make Polyvore not default to that and I forget to uncheck the box all the time.

Friday, August 26, 2011

last days of New York

 What with the impending hurricane-pocalypse (just not as ringing as snowpocalypse, please suggest alternatives), I figured it was time for another roll of photos from my last days in the big city. Which ended about a month ago, actually, but I have not yet actually moved on to the next place, so I figure it is still valid. So anyway, here's what I did in New York City in June.

 Flowers, obviously.

Now that Schnitzel and Things has a stationary restaurant, this is the only truck I bother chasing around the city. The kimchi is actually a little on the bland side, but the dishes are interesting and edible on the go, and the concept is very cool.

 The dress that saved my life by being the only thing I could stand to put on when the temperature topped 90ºF. Which it did, regularly, for weeks.

 I also ate basically nothing but thawed edamame with sweet chili sauce, because it is the best summer food that isn't watermelon or a granita.

 The view from a friend's fancy-pants roof deck. Far superior to the view of loitering teenagers and nannies pushing strollers from my apartment.

 Kosher angel food cake. Not as good as the regular kind, but the top did look nice.

 Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki covered in bonito flakes from Otafuku. They only serve those two things and yakisoba, but it's pretty much the best food ever to come out of a ten-foot-wide hole in a Manhattan wall.

 Shoe pictures are as predictable as flower pictures around here.
 My outfit for Sleep No More, which was the most wonderful piece of staged art I've ever seen. I'm sorry I couldn't get photos of the actual show, or just melt into it. It was Twin Peaks crossed with Macbeth crossed with a Howard Hawks noir.

These only lasted about two days, but they were beautiful.

I have really strong opinions on how to properly make a cucumber sandwich. Weirdly, I did not form them while living in England.

I miss my pretty cherry floors.

A bad photo of Ai Weiwei's Zodiac Heads, which opened while the artist was detained in his native China. Happily, he has since been released, but other Chinese artists continue to be arrested for their political views. I fell in love with his work after reading about this exhibit at the Tate Modern (my favorite museum in the world).

Stonewall Place during this year's Pride Parade, just days after gay marriage was legalized in New York. One of the happiest places I have ever been.

Staten Island Ferry. Another extremely happy place. The actual impetus for this ride was the realization that I'd been to four of five boroughs in one weekend, and needed to complete the set.

Then, as a bonus trip, I went to the beach. Coney Island Beach, in fact. It was weird, but mostly because I don't usually voluntarily go to beaches on hot, sunny days.

And then I went home to Cleveland.

Want to know what I did there? The July edition launches tomorrow!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

la bicyclette

Here is your mid-evening cocktail update, courtesy of Wells, the Mixologist iPhone app, and my directionless liquor shopping.

La Bicyclette

2 oz gin
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz elderflower liquer
2 dashes blood orange bitters*

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

*original recipe calls for peach bitters, but we improvised.

Delicious. Make one now.

rain/sun, old shoes/new purse

rain/sun, old shoes/new purse

rain/sun, old shoes/new purse by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring a floral tea dress

Today I got soaked, and then sunburned, all within three hours. And then I unwisely went to "browse" in a couple of shops, and ended up with a lovely new purse.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

apple-stuffed pork chops with maple syrup and pancakes

I've been wanting to make stuffed pork chops since I saw Giada make these on her show. I still want to try those out, but for my first attempt I decided to use apples and dried cranberries as the stuffing, because I adore apples and pork together and also that's what I had on hand. I worked basically from this recipe, but changed things up based on what was handy, since I'm borrowing someone else's kitchen at the moment. I don't know why I decided to serve these over pancakes, but I suspect it had to do with falling asleep watching the Food Network last night. The pancakes I grew up on were Hungarian palacsinta, which are thin crepes, so I've never been attached to any one recipe for the American-style kind. The one I used today is Nigella's, because she's the kind of lady who knows how to make a pancake, regardless of nationality. They were lovely, very light and fluffy. This meal serves two people, but is easy to increase.

Apple-stuffed Pork Chops

2 fairly thick, center-cut, boneless pork chops
1 crisp, semi-sweet apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 large shallot
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the apple and onion for about five minutes, then add the vinegar and cranberries and cook for another few minutes, or until the apples and onions are soft. Season with a little pepper and stick in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut pockets into the pork chops, getting as deep as you can without poking through sides of the meat. Spoon in the apple mixture, packing it as tightly as you can. Stick two toothpicks through the edges of the pork, forming an X shape, to hold the pockets closed. Season each side with salt (I used kosher salt) and pepper. 

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil on medium-high (you can use the same pan as before), and brown the pork chops for about three minutes on each side. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the pork is no longer pink inside.


 3/4 cup flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
more butter for frying the pancakes
maple syrup to serve

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and melted butter. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk until more or less smooth. Butter a skillet and heat on medium-high. Drop large spoonfuls of batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles rise through the batter, then flip and cook for another minute or so on the other side. Serve with maple syrup and stuffed pork.

Okay, I guess the rationale behind stuffed-pork-and-pancakes is that the cooked fruit inside the pork reminds me of the pear compote my grandmother used to serve along with the palacsinta on Sundays, and maple syrup is one of the best things in the world. It's so good on bacon, how could it be bad on pork chops? And it wasn't bad at all, it was yummy as all hell. And the pork chops are really good on their own, so make them with or without the pancakes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

milk cake with strawberries

The recipe for this cake came from a book called Farms and Foods of Ohio. I made it for what was meant to be a party to celebrate bottling her homemade wine... but turned into more of a bonfire night celebrating drinking the wine (which was awesome, by the way). The cake got a bit forgotten while we were down at the beach, but it made a fantastic breakfast for everyone over the next couple of days. It's a slightly sweet bread-cake, lighter than pound cake but denser and less chewy than angel food. Extremely easy to make and perfect for matching with fresh or cooked-up fruit. The book calls for roasted strawberries, but these were so perfect I couldn't bear to do anything to them.

10 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups whole milk
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a loaf pan or a large shallow baking dish.*

Heat the butter and milk on medium-low until all the butter has melted. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs on high speed until they thicken (about five minutes). Gradually add the two cups of sugar, continuing to beat on medium speed for two more minutes.

Whisk together the flour and baking soda and add to the egg mixture. Beat on medium until smooth, about two minutes. Add the milk and butter mixture and the vanilla, and beat for another two minutes. Pour into the baking dish and bake for 35-60 minutes, depending on the depth of the dish. When a thin-bladed knife slides in and out cleanly, the cake is done. Let rest for ten minutes before turning out of the pan, and cool completely before slicing.

* The original recipe called for a loaf pan, and I am very fond of loaf-shaped cakes, but it took much longer to bake through than the recipe suggested, and burned a little on the bottom. Look how nice the top looked, though:

Overall, nice little cake. It lasted a whole four days, lazily wrapped in foil and left on the counter. Just as tasty the last day as it was on the first. You should also appreciate my lovely plate of wine-tasting snacks, because I rarely bother with/succeed at making something this nice-looking.