Say “no more” to dry, tough chops, impress your family with these wonderful, moist, tender pork chop beauties! The secret is in the method, you can really use and seasoning that you are in the mood for.
One key point, is to make sure your meat is room temperature. It’s best to take them out of the fridge a good 30 minutes before you cook them and sprinkle with salt on both sides. Since the meat is very lean, this initial seasoning helps to bring out more flavor.
Then pat your meat dry and take your favorite spice blend and pat it over the chops on both sides. If you want to add a little flour to the spices, it will help create a nice crust, I skipped it.
In a hot cast iron skillet, or braiser, with a little olive oil, sear one side of the chops until nicely browned, about 2-3 minutes. Then, flip them, cover the pan and turn down the heat to low. The second side will brown and the meat will cook through, gently, with the lid on, yielding flavorful and tender results. Cook meat to 145 degrees internally, about 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness.
Transfer meat to a plate and let rest while you finish the sauce. On medium-high heat add some chicken stock, honey and vinegar, adjusting to taste. Let it cook down by about half, you can add a little butter if you want something a little richer, I skipped that.
You can return the chops to the pan to cover with sauce, or slice them and pour sauce over them, or serve it on the side and pass it at the table. A little green parsley to dress it all up, would be nice, clearly my plate was whisked away before that step… Hungry spouse lives here!😂
With a haul of fresh apricots from a local farm stand, I set about finding ways to use them and enjoy the fresh sweet-tart flavor. Today, I settled on an Apricot Almond Cake, the bonus was that I had everything I needed already on hand. I used a recipe, as a base, I found from food52.com, and cut it down to a smaller square pan.
An additional bonus of this cake, was that it works for loads of different fruits; cherries, peaches, or even pears. It isn’t too sweet so besides a light dessert, I think it will shine as a breakfast cake with my morning coffee.
1/2 C unsalted butter, melted
6 egg whites
1 C confectioners sugar
1 C all purpose flour
2 C Almond Flour
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
2/3 tsp baking powder
3-4 fresh apricots, halved & pitted
2 T granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line a 9×9 square pan with parchment, grease parchment and sides
Beat egg whites until foamy
Add confectioners sugar to the egg whites and beat an additional minute
Pour batter into pan and place apricot halves, cut side up in the batter.
Sprinkle granulated sugar across top
Bake for 30 minutes
Serve with vanilla whipped cream or enjoy as a breakfast treat!
NOTE: As a post coffee update, I would suggest more apricots! They were so tender and gave great flavor, I would definitely double them next time! Also, since the fruit sank deeply into the cake, I would suggest placing the halves on top of the batter and not pressing them into it, then you might have a prettier line across the top surface. ENJOY🍑
Kirsch means cherry in German, so it natural that we Kirsches gravitate towards these sweet treats. These were the perfect project today, I’m surrounded by fresh cherries everywhere I go up here in Michigan! The stores are full of them, farmstands are bursting with fruit from local orchards, and little stands with honor boxes dot the roads. I came across this recipe from @averiesunshine and her blog averiecooks.com, then one of my daughters messaged it to me with a “must do” tag. Great minds think alike, so here we go.
These were so easy to make, basically blondies with chocolate chips and fresh cherries folded in. They came together in minutes and made the house smell wonderful. I baked them a bit longer than recommended, as I used a lot of fruit and they were very juicy, just watch for a lovely golden color and the center to set.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
3/4 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup cherries, fresh or frozen (you could use other berries, or stone fruits, too.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a square baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 30-60 seconds, depending on your microwave.
To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and stir to combine.
Add the egg, vanilla, and stir to combine. Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over mix or the blondies will be tough.
Fold in chocolate chips and fruit (I halved the cherries, as they were really big), and scoop batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula.
Bake for 27 to 32 minutes, or until edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan and center is set. Baking time may vary depending on moisture content of fruit. (My batch went 36 minutes.)
Allow bars to cool before slicing and serving. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
I spotted the idea for this salad on one of my favorite Instagram accounts, @whatsgabycookin. She did them as appetizer skewers, with the addition of Honeydew melon, and they were so beautiful. I decided to toss what I had into a bowl and present it as a side salad, it turned out great and was a fresh accompaniment to grilled flank steak.
With the summer in full swing, we have such wonderful fruits bursting with fresh flavor, and these local melons were spectacular. I have to admit, I was a little dubious about drizzling on the basil vinaigrette, but it was the perfect foil to the melon, and it went perfectly with the mini mozzarella balls, and chopped prosciutto, kind of a perfect balance of sweet and salty. The bonus was that my basil plants were in desperate need of cutting, so I had plenty of fresh basil on hand.
I think, as skewers, this will be a definite addition to my appetizer list. It’s colorful, delicious, and easy to prepare, making it a real winner!
This easy salmon dinner is light and quick. All you need is:
1 or 2 lemons sliced thin
Salt & pepper
~1/2 C Wine, stock, or water
1 T Butter
Place sliced lemon in the bottom of your baking dish and sprinkle a generous amount of fresh dill a over the lemons. Season both sides of the salmon with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then place on the lemons and dill bed. Add about a 1/2 cup of whichever liquid you choose, I used water here since my supplies were low.
Cover the dish with tin foil and bake at 375 degrees until the fish is cooked, check around 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Remove from oven and let rest about 5 minutes before serving. Chop a little extra fresh dill and sprinkle over the fillet on the plate as a garnish. Enjoy with a fresh salad along side for an easy meal.
Well with all of the quarantining that has been going on over the last several months, we have had the opportunity to try some pretty fabulous take out! I’m not usually big on it, since I still end up doing dishes and usually I’m the one that flys, while my other half buys. Personally, I like going to a restaurant and having a change of scenery, being waited on, and not having the house smell like dinner afterward. However, we have been fortunate to have some pretty fabulous restaurants within reach that have embraced the format, and it has truly been a superior experience.
We are blessed to have Alinea, the only restaurant in Chicago to have earned the coveted Michelin 3-Star rating, now offering take out options to enjoy at home. We were gifted the Alinea 15th Anniversary dinner for Mother’s Day by our daughter, which was such a treat, so of course for Father’s Day we went for it again, this time getting Alinea’s riff on a classic Chicago Steakhouse dinner. The beauty of these meals is that they come complete with fabulous directions for flawless preparation and assembly, as well as everything you need, food-wise, down to the the little herb garnishes. Incredibly, thoughtfully put together.
With the directions in hand, and having watched the video on instagram for the meal preparation, we set out on our culinary journey for the night.
The first course was Maine Lobster Bisque, with a timbale of lobster and corn succotash, fresh croutons, and a little parsley garnish. After the soup had come to a simmer on the stove, we added the sherry that was premeasured and included in the kit, this was a no fail soup. I took the tip from Chef Grant Achatz, and pressed the lobster and corn into the little cup, then turning it onto the soup bowl and lightly tapping it to release. All four held their shape! The soup was free poured around the bowl and was simply delicious.
Next, we had a lovely salad of fresh tomatoes and English Cucumber, with a delightful red wine & herb vinaigrette, topped with capers and a fresh basil garnish. It was a perfect foil to the the lobster bisque, cutting through the richness and setting you up for the richness to come!
While we were having our first two courses, the potatoes au gratin have been cooking in the oven getting ready to melt in your mouth, these were divine. Layers of potatoes with gruyere cheese, and topped with gruyere and Vermont cheddar, all in a pool of heavy cream. A perfect steakhouse side, but done in Alinea ⭐️⭐️⭐️ style.
The main course was filet au poivre, and it was beautiful! The meat came precooked to 140 degrees so all we had to do was put a nice caramelization on the top bottom and sides, and baste it with butter and herbs to finish. I wish I had taken a pic of the inside, but alas, I was to into enjoying this fabulous meal at home, but trust me, it was a perfect medium rare. This sat in a rich sauce of peppercorns, that seemed to have a hint of rosemary too, it was lovely.
The final course was a strawberry shortcake with fresh lemon whipped cream, garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. The strawberries were cut into a small dice and were bursting with flavor, the sauce was perfect for the shortcakes to soak up. We really lucked out, since this is one of my husband’s favorite desserts!
So there you have it, not our usual take out of pizza, salads, or salmon, but an evening of fine dining at home. I didn’t even mind washing all the dishes and pots and pans. One of the things that I have really enjoyed about the Alinea take out meal kits, is the interactive approach. I have learned some things about food preparation and I have enjoyed being involved with putting these fine meals on the table. I think the involvement is part of experience, kind of like the interaction that Alinea puts into your experience at the restaurant. If you ever get a chance to go, do it, it’s like no meal you have ever had!
It wouldn’t be a complete meal at our house without some wine! We started with the Pulgny-Montrachet before dinner, Kistler, one of my favorites with the soup and salad, and the beautiful 1999 Chateau Pavie with the filet and potatoes. A banner night celebrating a most worthy Father!
I offered to make a cake for my brother’s birthday, who doesn’t want a homemade cake?! So, I asked him what flavors were his favorite and the winner was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, a fine choice.
I haven’t made a homemade chocolate cake in years, and I forgot how rich it was, but since there was some leftover batter, I do have some chocolate cupcakes to keep me going too. The chocolate frosting was light and easy to work with, I think I should have let it sit a bit then whipped it again, just to get it truly smooth.
I had the idea to make flowers out of candy melts brewing in my head for awhile. Somewhere I saw a video about using the back of a spoon to create the petal shape and I would say that was a great idea. Since the cake was for my brother, and I know he loves fishing, I thought water lilies would be a good choice.
I used several spoons of slightly different shapes to create the petals, and I’ve even thought of some other ways to stream line the process for a larger batch. For the centers I used a Russian Tip with vanilla buttercream to shape the inside petals and little stamen, then sprinkled a little yellow petal dust for definition. The chocolate petals were stuck into the buttercream mound in staggered layers to create the open bloom.
All in all, this was a fun project. I think I could even make some other flowers using this technique. The 3-D effect of the blooms is quite dramatic and really makes a statement! so give it a try, the good part is if you don’t like the petals, or a bunch break while in molding, you can just remelt them and try again. Win-win!
I saw this beautiful fruit tart as I scrolled through my Instagram feed the other day. The beautiful picture grabbed my attention, but the story from @thebakefeed was even better, so I thought I would give it a try. I think that with the current climate, it is good to remember that what makes things shine is diversity, and both food and people are more interesting with variety! I have to admit, I thought I had peaches & strawberries at home, so I walked on by, but I guess the “home office worker” had gotten to them for breakfast, and they were out of kiwis. So my diversity got sideswiped, argh. But alas, it gives me a chance and reason to make this again, and dive into the bounty of the season. I need to take my time and open my eyes, even at the grocery store, to see those items and people around me, making my world delicious.
I ended up making 3 small 4.5 inch tarts instead of the single 9 inch. There was plenty of dough for the crusts and more than enough filling. I brushed them with some melted apple jelly to preserve them in the fridge, these will take us a day or two to work through, one is enough for us to share. Below is the link to the recipe I used, enjoy and remember the world is better together, just like a fruit tart!