When I eat pork, it’s usually when I’m devouring some Eastern North Carolina BBQ or when I cook up a nice lean pork tenderloin. I went to the local butcher the other day http://www.goosethemarket.com and he had these amazing fresh local pork loins…so I asked him to slice me a couple of chops off the loin and they were amazing. Really beautiful. Normally I would use a basic marinade and then grill them but I had a taste for something a little sweet and spicy so went with a Thai marinade and soaked the chops for 3 hours in the fridge and then took them out for the final hour to marinate at room temp.
Thai flavored marinade:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 Thai chile, stemmed and finely chopped (you can substitute with a Serrano chile if you can’t find the Thai chile)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk everything together until the sugar dissolves and then pour over the chops.
I used my gas grill instead of my charcoal grill because I can regulate the heat easier. Since there is sugar in this marinade, the chops could burn so be careful when grilling them. I like to set the back of the grill at the hottest, and the front part of the grill at medium. Place the chops on the back part of the grill and sear for about 90 seconds. You may need to turn the heat down to medium-high depending on your grill. I have a three burner Weber. After searing one side, turn over and sear for only 30 seconds or so…then move chops to the front part of the grill that is at medium, close the lid and grill for about 12 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chops). My chops were about 1 1/2 inches thick.
I served the chops with some basmati rice and grilled asparagus. The chops were cooked medium with just a touch of pink and very flavorful. With the chops we had this very nice Sonoma County Zinfandel that complemented the Thai flavor nicely. The Zin had just the right amount of pepper spice with a touch of cocoa, blackberry, and smooth tannins.
I could eat salmon five days a week… I love it. For me, it’s just about the most versatile fish out there. You can poach it, grill it, saute it, bake it, or eat it raw (sashimi grade of course). Whipped this up one night after work and what I love about it is that’s it’s pretty easy and in 35 minutes you’re ready from start to finish.For this dish, I used some nice Sockeye salmon I got from my local market. It was wild caught and just beautiful. I love the texture of Sockeye and the deep color.
For the fish: Take out of the fridge for about 15 minutes before cooking. Lightly coat with good olive oil, and use a little bit of my rub to season the fish. Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, and add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Watch it so it doesn’t burn. Take the fillets that are seasoned and press one side down on some sliced almonds. As long as the fish is moist from the olive oil the almonds will adhere to the fish nicely.
Place the fillets in the heated skillet almond side down for 2 minutes. Flip gently and then place the skillet in your oven and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Your Salmon is done.
You can find my recipe on the blog for Yukon gold mashed potatoes.
For the asparagus, I simply grilled it on the stove in a cast iron grill pan turning every so often. After snipping off the tough ends of the asparagus, drizzle with olive oil, add some fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt, toss, and then grill.
Plate the potatoes with salmon on top and asparagus on the side. Enjoy!
Well there’s very little about Winter that I find attractive…and I mean very little. But it is the best time of year for root vegetables and I’m a fan of squash and brussels sprouts so that’s my main side for this dish. I also served the Cod with some red bliss potatoes.
Halve the brussels sprouts and remove outer layer. Peel the butternut squash, cut into cubes, and add to a bowl with the sprouts. Drizzle olive oil to coat and then add fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Toss to combine, and then spread a single layer on to a sheet pan and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 17 minutes.
Pan Seared Cod:
Start with some nice cod fillets and take out of the fridge about 10 minutes before cooking. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Put a wire rack over a sheet pan. You’ll add the fish to the rack and finish in the oven after searing.
Coat a saute pan with olive oil and heat over medium/medium high heat. Make sure you don’t get it too hot or the olive oil will burn. When it’s hot…add the fillets and sear them nicely on one side. Once you put them in the saute pan leave them alone! After 2-3 minutes you can shake the pan lightly and the fillets should move. If they stick…use a spatula and gently turn them over. Place the fillets on the rack, and then place in the oven for about 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
Blood Orange Sauce:
3 blood oranges
2 T sugar
2 T red wine vinegar
pinch kosher salt
pinch black pepper
fresh thyme (2 or 3 sprigs)
Zest one of the blood oranges. Next, juice two of the oranges. Supreme the other orange and coarsely chop the pieces.
In the saute pan you used to sear the fish, remove the oil. Place the pan over medium heat and add all the ingredients. Reduce by about half. You need to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t get too hot.
Spoon the sauce over the Cod and serve with the roasted Veggies and potatoes.
Pretty simple and straightforward. This is a deep chocolate brownie drizzled with white chocolate and raspberry coulis.
Valentine's Day Dessert
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 ounce white chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs (room temp)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup plus 1 T. all-purpose unbleached flour
2 6oz. containers fresh raspberries
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Chop the chocolate into chunks and melt over medium-low heat with the butter, stirring occasionally. Once the chocolate mixture is blended, take off the heat and let cool slightly.
Butter and flour an 8x8x2 square baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Add the sugar to the chocolate mixture and whisk until blended well. Add eggs one at a time, and whisk. Mixture should be shiny. Add the vanilla and whisk. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk. Add the chocolate chips and stir into mixture, don’t over-mix. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake brownies for 25 minutes and remove from oven and cool.
Add the raspberries and powdered sugar to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring periodically. The raspberries will break apart and create the base for the sauce. Once it all comes together, add the cornstarch and stir for a minute or two…to help thicken the sauce. Strain the sauce into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate (preferably for 3-4 hours).
Chop the white chocolate and place in glass bowl and microwave for one minute, then stir. You may need to give it 30 more seconds. Stir, and it’s ready for the drizzle.
Spoon the coulis on a plate, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut a brownie, placing on top of the sauce. Now drizzle with the white chocolate and you’re all set!
I’ll be the first to admit, I love chocolate…dark, milk, it’s all good. I don’t know if I qualify as a chocoholic, but I could eat the stuff every day…that much I know. Here’s a good fairly simple recipe that I like that gives you a nice moist double layer cake, with a chocolate buttercream frosting. The frosting is light and buttery which goes well with the deep chocolate cake.
Nonstick oil spray
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup water (room temperature)
3/4 cup buttermilk (not low fat!)
3/4 cup canola or veg. oil
3 extra large eggs (room temperature)
Start with two 9×2 cake pans. Spray bottom and sides of pan, then place a parchment round in the bottom of both pans, and spray the parchment lightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift all your dry ingredients together into a large bowl (I use the bowl of my mixer), and lightly whisk together. Next, in a medium size bowl, whisk your wet ingredients together just until fully combined. Sort of make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients bowl, and using the paddle attachment on your mixer, slowly add the wet ingredients while mixing at a low speed…then increase the speed slightly just until the wet and dry ingredients are mixed. Don’t over mix. Now pour your cake batter into the two prepared pans, and place in the center rack of your oven for 30 minutes (maybe a minute or two less). Use a toothpick or cake tester to make sure the cans are done…when the tester comes out clean you’re good. Take the cake pans out and let them cool on a rack for at least a couple hours before you frost them.
What I like to do next, is to make a simple syrup and then brush it on the top of the warm cakes which will add a little bit of sweetness and moisture.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I use Callebaut)
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons water
3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Ghirardelli)
Chop the chocolate and melt down in the top of a double boiler. I just use a metal bowl over simmering water. Put the chocolate off to the side and let cool. Cut the butter into dice size chunks and let it sit. Next, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a good heavy saucepan, and if you have a candy thermometer it’ll help because you want the syrup to come to 248 Degrees F. With the mixture boiling, beat the egg whites with a pinch of table salt for a couple minutes (it should be foamy), then add the cream of tarter and beat until you get stiff peaks. Now you want to add the hot syrup and beat at low to medium speed for anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Try to add the syrup into the egg whites without getting on the side of the bowl. Beat in the butter one piece at a time…this is slow and tedious but you’ll love the results. It might look like it’s breaking but don’t worry, just keep adding the butter slowly (sometimes I may have to add a little extra butter, depending on the consistency you’re after). Then you beat in the cocoa powder, pinch of salt, and melted chocolate. Beat until it’s nice and smooth and now you’re good to go. You can make the frosting a day ahead if you want…just refrigerate it…but it spreads best when it’s just slightly cool or at room temp.
When the cake layers are cooled, you can slice in half for a four layer if you want, or just frost away for a two layer as I did. Chocolate rocks!
I love a good pesto. This recipe is quick and easy and you can make it in your blender. Serve with some pasta and grilled chicken and you’ve got a great dish.
2 cups fresh basil
1 1/2 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 medium size garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
First, toast the pine nuts in a hot and dry saute pan…be careful not to burn so you have to watch closely. Once they start to brown and get fragrant, they’re done. Take off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. I remove the stems from the fresh basil and just use the leaves…make sure they are really fresh and not starting to brown.
Now just put all the ingredients in your blender and blend until it makes a nice paste…the consistently that you’re looking for. You can add a little more olive oil if you like your pesto a little thinner.
I’ve got a sweet tooth. There’s no denying that. And while I always try to exercise and eat healthy, there are times when I just crave a good fruit pie…and while apple and cherry are great, I always tend to gravitate to blueberry. This is great to make any time of year that you can get nice fresh blueberries. Of course summer time is usually best, and in my opinion there’s nothing better than Michigan blueberries. But…even though it’s the dead of winter I found some nice fresh blueberries and started baking. Enjoy.
The secret with all pie crusts…the butter and shortening has to be really cold. You may need a little more than the amount of ice water but that’s just something you’ll have to experiment with…however if you follow this recipe exactly you’ll be happy with the results.
The Pie Filling:
¾ cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
½ t cinnamon
½ c water
3 ½ – 4 Cups blueberries
1 T fresh lemon juice
½ t lemon zest
In a good saucepan, add water, cornstarch, cinnamon and sugar. Heat over medium high heat until it thickens. You need to keep a close eye on this and stir occasionally. Don’t let it burn! Once it thickens nicely, take off the heat and set aside. let it cool for about 20 minutes.
Add your berries, zest, and lemon juice to a large bowl…stir gently and then add the thickened sauce to your berries and once again stir gently so that all the berries are coated.
Pour the mixture into your pie crust, add the top crust, trimming the edges and crimping for nice presentation. I prefer to use a 9″ pie tin. Brush the top of the pie crust with an egg wash (one egg beaten lightly with a Tablespoon of cream). Next, sprinkle the top with granulated sugar, then cut vents into the crust. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven. After 20 minutes, place a sheet of aluminum foil lightly over the top so the crust doesn’t burn, turn your oven down to 350 degrees and cook for another 22 minutes. Take out the pie, let it cool, and you’re ready to go! I also like a la mode better so a little scoop of vanilla with the pie just tops it off for me.
I don’t make pork chops too often, because they can be difficult to get just right. They need to be cooked through, but still tender…not always an easy task. I didn’t have time for braising, or super slow cooking, but these really turned out well. Hope you like them.
Grilled Pork Chops:
I got 2 center cut chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Take them out of the fridge for 30 minutes or so to get them to room temp. I brushed both sides of the chops with grapeseed oil, then seasoned well with my spice rub (make sure you season both sides). It’s really cold out so I didn’t want to cook them outside. I heated the oven to 400. Meanwhile, I put a cast iron grill pan on the stove and when it got nice and hot, added the chops to the pan and cooked for two minutes. Then I rotated them 45 degrees so they would get that nice criss-cross pattern. Cooked for 1 more minute then flipped them over and gave them another 90 seconds on the pan. Then, placed the chops in the oven and cooked for about 12 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 and cook for about 4 more minutes, until the chops get to 145 degrees. Take them out of the pan and drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve over a bed of basmati rice. It’s that simple. I served a toss salad on the side.
Wow…I’ve been away for a long time…and for that I’m really sorry. It’s been hectic to say the least. That’s what happens when life happens if you know what I mean. More on that later. Here’s a healthy little dinner I cooked up tonight… it’s easy and hope you enjoy!
Black Bean and Corn Salad:
Whole foods was my inspiration for this. I used a cup of frozen corn, in two cups boiling salted water, and cooked at a boil for two minutes. Drain and set aside. While the corn is cooking, I heated up a can or organic black beans on medium heat, cook for about 8 minutes adding a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Drain and set aside. Dice one red pepper, dice 1/2 of a red onion, and finely chop a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley. Make the dressing: in a bowl, whisk 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, juice from 1/2 lime. Add a dash of hot sauce (I like Louisiana or Frank’s). Add the dressing to the bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for two hours before serving.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Add 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil to cast iron skillet and heat to medium or medium high heat. Season both sides of cod filets with kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle with some olive oil. When the pan is hot but not too hot (olive oil can burn), add filets and top the filets with another cast iron skillet with the bottom oiled so it won’t stick. The weight of the skillet will make sure the fish gets a good sear. Cook for 2 minutes and turn over. Cook for 60 seconds then place in 350 over for 4-5 minutes.