Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I suggest preparing the asparagus for roasting before beginning the chops. When you begin searing the chops, put the asparagus in the oven. Both dishes should be ready at about the same time.
Pork Chops with Rosemary, Port & Lingonberry Sauce
Serves two people. May be doubled.
2 1-inch thick center cut pork chops, fat trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced fine
freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken broth (I use low-sodium, no-fat)
1/2 cup ruby Port
2/3 cup lingonberry preserves
Sprinkle both sides of chops with kosher salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon minced rosemary.
Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
When the pan is hot and butter is melted, add the chops and cook about 3 minutes on each side, until browned and just cooked through.
Remove chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add the chicken broth, Port and remaining rosemary to the pan and stir to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
With heat on high, boil the liquid until it has reduced by 1/2, about 4 minutes.
Add the lingonberry preserves, stir, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer until it has thickened slightly.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper if needed.
Return the chops to the sauce along with any juices that may have accumulated on the plate, turning chops to coat. Immediately plate chops, spooning sauce over the top.
Oven Roasted Asparagus
2 pounds asparagus, organic if available
good olive oil
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Wash asparagus. Holding a spear with your hands at each end, bend the stem and snap it where it wants to break. Discard the tough bottom ends or save for making soup at a later time.
Drizzle a cookie sheet pan with a small amount of good olive oil.
Place the asparagus spears in the pan, lined up side by side, not crossing over each other.
Sprinkle the spears with kosher salt and another small drizzle of olive oil.
Place the asparagus pan in the hot oven and roast for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan to roll the spears over halfway through the roasting time.
Serve hot with the pork chops.
Note: I bought my lingonberry preserves at the Nugget Market in Davis a few weeks ago. I only find it on the grocery shelves in the fall leading up to the holidays, which is why I've given you several links for on-line purchase.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I've been poaching fish in this manner ever since I saw a recipe in Sunset Magazine more than 12 years ago. So long ago that I could not tell you the specific issue to save my life. Over the years I've changed it, using different ingredients that will enhance not only the poaching object, but will compliment the side dishes. This method is perfect for a fish like halibut that tends to dry out in the cooking process. The trick is to remove the pan from the heat and let it sit to "finish".
Inspired by Sunset Magazine with cilantro channeling from Kalyn Denny
1 large halibut filet cut into 4 serving-sized pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup chardonnay
juice from 2 oranges
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons cold butter, separated
In a skillet large enough to hold the halibut steaks, combine all of the ingredients, except the halibut and the butter, and bring to a boil.
When the liquid is boiling, carefully add the halibut steaks, lowering the heat to maintain a very low boil. Cover and let cook until the fish is just opaque inside but still springy to the touch, 4-5 minutes. You may have to gently turn the steaks if your poaching liquid does not cover the fish.
Immediately remove pan from the heat and let sit an additional 2 minutes or until the fish is cooked through but not dry. Remove the fish with a slotted spatula and keep warm.
Bring the poaching liquid to a high, rolling boil and reduce by 1/2 or more, 5 or so minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 3 tablespoons butter, one piece at a time, until fully incorporated and the sauce has thickened.
Spoon some of the sauce over each piece of fish and serve.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Best Black Beans
Inspired by Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen
1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) small black beans
water to cover
6-7 cups good chicken broth (I use no-fat, low-sodium*. You can also use vegetable broth or water or a combination of both)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 celery ribs, cut into small dice
3 carrots, peeled, cut into small dice
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 heaping teaspoons cumin
1 heaping teaspoon corriander
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 whole orange
juice of 1 whole lime
1/4 cup chicken broth or sherry or ruby port
kosher salt (to taste)
Pick over the dried beans, removing rocks, other foreign objects and discolored beans.
Wash beans thoroughly in a colander under running water.
Using a large soup pot, cover the beans with several inches of fresh water and let sit, covered, overnight.
Drain the beans, rinse again in a colander and return to the empty, rinsed pot.
Pour the broth over the beans and place over high heat to bring to a boil.
When the broth begins to boil, reduce the heat to keep beans at a low boil and cook until tender.
Do not cover, allowing much of the liquid to evaporate.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables:
Slice the ribs of celery lengthwise in half or thirds and chop into small dice (1/4-inch pieces) crosswise.
Slice the carrots lengthwise into fourths and chop crosswise like the celery.
Peel and chop the onion and garlic as stated above.
Melt the oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat and add the onions and carrots. Saute slowly until both are soft, covering with a lid if necessary.
Add the celery and garlic and saute a bit more taking care to not let the veggies burn.
When the veggies are done, add the cumin, corriander, cinnamon, pepper flakes and black pepper and stir, cooking until the spicy aromas come up, about 1 minute.
Deglaze the pan with the citrus juices and the chicken broth or wine and remove from heat.
When the beans are done, you should have less than half the broth you started out with. This isn't supposed to be soup or stew. If it's too brothy, boil it a bit more to reduce the liquid.
Add the vegetable-spice saute to the beans and mix thoroughly.
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt now if needed.
This makes a lot of beans (6 cups or more) and is a great potluck dish. Leftovers may be frozen for a later use.
*Do not add salt to the liquid used to cook the beans as this will keep the beans from fully cooking and make them hard.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Quince Stewed in Merlot
4-5 quince fruits, peeled, cored and sliced, about 3 cups
juice of 1 lemon
enough water to submerge the quince pieces
2 cups good merlot
3/4 cup Splenda-Sugar Blend or 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Start this early in the day, or even the night before. The quince needs to soak in the merlot for a number of hours before cooking.
Make acidulated water by combining the water and lemon juice in a bowl.
As you peel and slice the fruits, place the slices in the water to prevent them from browning.
When all the fruit is ready, pour into a colander and rinse under running water.
Pour the merlot into a glass dish large enough to hold the fruit.
Add the Splenda-sugar blend or regular sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add the split vanilla bean and the quince pieces, stir, cover and refrigerate for 8-10 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.
When ready to cook, place the quince and the merlot liquid into a sauce pan over medium heat.
Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat so the mixture simmers.
Simmer in this manner until the fruits have just softened to an edible consistency, about 20 minutes.
You must now check for sweetness by tasting a piece of the fruit. Tasting the liquid will not help you to determine if the fruit is of an edible sweetness. At this point you can add more sugar, if necessary, and continue cooking until the fruit is soft enough to serve. I like my stewed quince to maintain some tartness as the vanilla cream will mellow it out a bit.
When the fruit is cooked through, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, do not drain. If not serving within a few hours, it can be refrigerated but I would let it sit at room temp for a bit before serving to take the chill out.
This is a recipe I've been making for many, many years. It's adapted from my first cookbook, Betty Crocker's Cook Book.
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup Splenda-Sugar Blend
2 cups fat-free 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 cup egg substitute such as Lucerne's Best of the Egg
2 teaspoons good vanilla
2 tablespoons Smart Balance Buttery Spread (not "light") or unsalted butter
In a medium saucepan, stir together the cornstarch, sugar blend and salt until well blended. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the 1/2 & 1/2 and the egg substitute. Slowly whisk the liquid into the dry ingredients in the saucepan, until they are full incorporated. Over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and just comes to a boil. Stir for about 1 minute, allowing the mixture to cook at a low boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature with a piece of plastic wrap laid right on top of the cream. This will keep a rubbery skin from forming.
To serve: Spoon vanilla cream into bowls. With a slotted spoon, place some of the stewed quince on top of each serving.
Monday, October 23, 2006
I received maple syrup inspiration for this soup from a delicious bowl of pumpkin-maple syrup soup that I had at the Simon Pearce restaurant in Quechee (prounounced Kwee-chee), Vermont recently. And while the restaurant's version was thicker, sweeter and more pumpkin pie filling-like, I've made mine on the savory side, showcasing the sage and squash with just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup. Try it. I think you'll like it.
Christine's Butternut Squash Bisque
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon butter or Smart Balance Buttery Spread (not "light")
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (4-5 leaves)
1/4 cup 100% maple syrup
1 large butternut squash, seeded, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 gala or braeburn apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
32 ounces good vegetable stock or broth
heavy cream or fat free 1/2 & 1/2 to drizzle over the top (optional)
toasted, slivered almonds as garnish (optional)
In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil and butter until the onions have softened but not browned.
Add the garlic, apples, salt, pepper, cinnamon and maple syrup, continuing to saute until the garlic and apples soften. Take care to adjust the heat so nothing burns or over-browns. You don't want to have browned veggies changing the color of the dish.
Add the squash and sage, rubbing the sage between your fingers as you drop it into the pot, releasing more of its essential oils. Sautee a bit longer until the squash begins to soften.
Add the vegetable stock, stir, cover the pot and let simmer until the squash is cooked through.
Now is the time to taste and adjust your seasonings if necessary. I added a pinch more salt at this point to bring up the flavors.
Off the heat, I used my immersion blender to turn the soup into a smooth, velvety puree. You can also achieve this by pureeing in batches in a food processor. Be careful not to puree too much at one time as the hot liquid can expand quickly and escape from the food processor, causing severe burns.
That's it! So easy. Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle a bit of cream or fat free 1/2 & 1/2 on top for a beautiful, easy presentation. Creme Fraiche would be good here, topped with a few toasted, slivered almonds. Fried sage leaves would be awesome and I plan to try them soon.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Trees are not the only things showing off vibrant colors now. Fungi, in multiple forms, shapes and colors are pushing up through the blanket of leaves that cover the ground as we walk through the woods. Bright pink, orange, yellow, and the more common shades of brown and gray are everywhere one looks, creating a delightful obstacle course in our paths, as one has to stop to marvel at everything.
Saturday, October 7, 2006
We arrived on the Atlantic seacoast yesterday and are in a little bed and breakfast in Portsmouth, NH called The Inn at Strawberry Banke. A very old house full of narrow stairs, sagging floors and charm. (I'll have photos to show and stories to tell when I return home.) Today we'll explore Portsmouth and then head off for Ipswich, Mass, makng our way out to the coast to Rockport and then on to Salem, where I swear my witchy roots are. I'll find out.
I just had to let you know that I'm still here, or rather there...