Monthly Archives: April 2010

Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Do you know what you are making for dinner tonight?  Is your menu written out on your big wall calendar so you know what you are making for every night of the week?  Perhaps you aren’t as nutty as we are about menu planning, but that’s okay.  You can still have an amazingly delicious dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes if you make this pork recipe.

Gathering the ingredients

This recipe is great for many reasons.  1) most people have the ingredients on hand, 2) it uses pork cutlets which are super thin, thaw quickly (if you forgot to take them out of the freezer the day before), and cook quickly, 3) the pan sauce takes less than 5 minutes to make but tastes so good that you will want to pour it on everything in sight.  The sauce is tart and tangy with the citrus juices, the honey adds a hint of sweetness to round it out, and the garlic and olive oil keep the whole thing from being too syrupy-tasting.

Cooking the pork

If you find yourself with boneless pork chops instead of cutlets, you can still make this work.  Simply cut the chops in half cross-wise and pound them to 1/4 inch thick between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap.  This is an excellent way to let out the day’s frustrations.  Serve with rice and black beans and some greens and you have yourself a meal in no time flat.

Scrumptious pan sauce

Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

2 tbls all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3-4 pork cutlets (about 12 ounces total)

3 tbls olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

3 tbls fresh lemon juice

1 tbls honey

To Make:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Combine flour, cumin, salt and pepper on a plate and mix well.  Coat each pork cutlet in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.  Add the pork to the skillet and cook through, turning once, about six minutes.  Transfer the pork to serving plates and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the last 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet.  Add the garlic and cook until just golden (about 30 seconds), stirring often.  Add the orange juice and the lemon juice.  Bring the juices to a boil, whisking often until reduced and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in honey.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the sauce over the pork.

To Serve:

Serve warm with whatever sides strike your fancy.  If you put rice on before starting the pork, everything can be done at the same time.  I recommend doubling the sauce recipe.  The amount outlined above makes just enough to lightly cover the pork.  The sauce is so darn good that we find ourselves licking our plates to get every last drop… well, maybe that’s just me.  In any case, consider making extra to drizzle over rice or vegetables.  Serves 2-3.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Meat, Recipes

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Did you make your preserved lemons yet?  If not, what are you waiting for?  If you had started your preserved lemons a month or two ago, you could make this for dinner tonight!

As the weather turns nicer and the sights and smells of spring are all around, my thoughts turn to lighter fare like seafood, fresh herbs, and pasta dishes.  Don’t let the “cream” in the title fool you, this sauce is lovely and light with the salty-sour taste of preserved lemon mixing with fresh basil.  It is fast and easy to put together, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner.  We used small Maine bay scallops in this recipe but it would be equally lovely with larger scallops.  Please just make sure to source your ingredients carefully.  Don’t go buying farmed seafood from Asia… there aren’t a lot of regulations and lord only knows what kind of stuff might end up in your scallops.

Seared Scallops

P.S., if you don’t have preserved lemon but want to make this anyway, use the zest of a regular lemon instead.  It won’t have quite the same flavor but is will still be fresh and tasty.

P.P.S., if you don’t have any basil laying around, you could substitute fresh thyme or dill for a different, but still lovely taste

Fresh ingredients

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti, cooked and drained

8 oz bay scallops

4 tbls butter, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

lemon peel from 1/2 a preserved lemon, finely diced

2 tbls cornstarch

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

To Make:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the butter just begins to brown, add the scollops.  Cook for 1 minute, turn over and cook for another minute.  Remove from pan and set aside.

To prepare the preserved lemon, remove it from the jar and rinse well.  Scrape out the pulp and white pith and discard.  Finely chop the peel and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet that you cooked the scallops in.  Using that pan, melt remaining two tbls butter over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and sautee until just starting to brown, about 30 seconds.  Add the half-and-half, chicken stock, and preserved lemon.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 8 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch.  Pour into the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat.  Add the scallops and cooked and drained spaghetti.  Add a small amount of pasta water as needed to thin the sauce.  Stir in the basil just prior to serving.  Top with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

To Serve:

Serve immediately.  Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.

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Filed under Dinner, Fish, Pasta, Recipes

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joe

 

Sloppy Joes… the name brings back memories of cans of Manwich served on fluffy while hamburger buns.  It is comfort food at its finest.  We have been looking for a good sloppy joe recipe for a while now.  Having jumped off the processed food train a while back, Manwich was no longer on the table for us.  So in the name of research, we have made multiple batches of the slop, tweaking recipes this way and that.  Unfortuntately, none of them have measured up to what we were looking for.  Namely, beef that is flavorful, not to dry but not too saucy, and most importantly, more interesting than hamburger flavored ketchup. 

(starting in top left, going clockwise) The Ingredients, The Blender, The Veggies, and Sloppy Joe himself

 

This recipe has everything we have been looking for.  The sauce is complex, tomato-y with depth from Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and molasses, and rich with onions, garlic, and pepper.  Hot sauce adds a little spice, feel free to add more if you like it hot, or take it out entirely if you want a mild Joe.  So the next time you get a hankering for a reminder of childhood, ditch the can and try these Sloppy Joes instead. 

Sloppy Joes 

Recipe followed almost exactly from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

 1 1/2 tbls olive oil 

1 medium onion, chopped 

1 celery rib, chopped 

1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

1 lb ground beef 

1 – 14 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes 

1/4 cup ketchup 

1 tbls molasses 

1 tbls cider vinegar 

1 tbls Worcestershire sauce 

1 tsp hot sauce 

To Make: 

Heat the olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, celery, red bell pepper, and garlic.  Stir occasionally and cook until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Add in the ground beef, breaking up the large lumps with a wooden spoon and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile, combine the can of tomatoes (with juice), ketchup, molasses, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a blender.  Puree until smooth. 

Add the tomato mixture to the ground beef mixture.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, leave it uncovered and let to cook until the thickened, about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

To Serve: 

You can serve these on a bun, ala traditional Sloppy Joes.  Or, you can divert from tradition and serve the meat over hot buttermilk biscuits.  Serves 4.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes

Preserved Lemon (Lemon Confit)

Lemon Confit

I miss fresh produce.  I miss it a lot.  Oh sure, we have root vegetables left over from our last winter CSA distribution and I picked up some local spinach the other day, but it just isn’t the same.  Spring is finally here, the weather has been getting warm, and the sun has been showing itself again.  Shouldn’t that mean that fresh produce abounds?  Sadly, it is still too early here in New England to get more than some early lettuce and spinach.    This time of year makes me especially happy that we managed to preserve some of our summer bounty when we had the chance.

Cutting the Lemons and Salting the Lemons

In fact, preservation is the theme of this post… preserved lemons to be more precise.  Now, living in New England we unfortunately did not happen upon organic lemons growing on lemon trees.  We picked these up from Trader Joe’s.  But that doesn’t make them any less delicious or amazing or any of the other adjectives that could be used to describe the awesomeness of preserved lemons.  If you have never had them before, preserved lemons (a staple of Middle Eastern and Moroccan cooking) are beguilingly complex.  They add lemony tang coupled with saltiness and a hint of sweetness to whatever they are in.  They are also tremendously easy to make.  Simply cover lemon halves packed in a clean jar with lots of salt and let them sit around for a month or two.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  Just be sure to use organic lemons because the rind is what you end up eating and you don’t need to be ingesting all those nasty chemicals.

Finished lemons

Preserved Lemons

There are tons of “recipes” for preserved lemons out there.  Some call for packing the lemons in a brine while others, like this one, call for packing the lemons in salt.  Technique from Charcuterie

Ingredients:

Kosher salt to cover, about 2 lbs

12 small lemons, cut in half

To Make:

Clean and sterilize a 1 quart glass mason jar.  You can sterilize it by running it through your dishwasher’s sanitizer cycle or by immersing the clean jar in a bath of boiling water for 10 minutes.  Let it cool before you add anything to the jar.

Thoroughly scrub clean ~12 small lemons.  Cut each lemon in half crosswise.  Place a 1 inch layer of salt in the bottom of your jar.  Top with a layer or two of lemons.  Try to pack the lemons in pretty closely (don’t cram them in there but try to get rid of excess space).  Cover with another layer of salt.  Repeat, alternating lemons and salt, ending with a layer of salt, until the jar is full.  Thump and jiggle the jar to make sure all the lemons are covered in salt and that there aren’t any spaces that aren’t filled.  Keep adding salt as needed.  Seal the jar and set it in a cool dark place.  Let the lemons sit for at least 1 month, preferably 3 months, before you dig in

To Serve:

Pull a lemon half out of the jar.  They will be more tan than bright yellow and will have a slightly leathery appearance.  This is normal.  Use a spoon to scrape out the pulp and pith and discard.  Rinse the rind well, chop, and add to whatever you are cooking.  If you find it is too salty, you can blanch the rind in boiling water for a minute or so to get some of the excess salt out.  If you find that your jar now has some air spaces from removing your lemon half, you can top it off with additional salt.  The remaining lemons will keep indefinitely in their jar.

What to do with your lemons?  We will be posting a few different recipes in the coming days so keep your eyes peeled!

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Filed under Gluten-Free, How To, Recipes, Vegetarian

Buttermilk Biscuits with Havarti and Dill

Buttermilk Biscuits with Havarti and Dill

Who doesn’t love a nice biscuit?  A good biscuit, one that is buttery, tender inside, and crisp outside makes a great addition to any meal (or snack).  Even better are biscuits made with buttermilk.  There is just something about the subtle twang of buttermilk and the tenderness that it brings to baked goods that make it indispensable in our kitchen.    

The Dry Ingredients and The Cheese

Fresh buttermilk is great to have around, but if you find it goes bad before you can use it, you can also buy good quality dried buttermilk.  The taste is pretty good and all you need to do is mix with the appropriate amount of water.  But I digress… these are your classic drop biscuits with the delicious addition of Havarti and dill.  The cheese and herbs bring lots of flavor to your biscuit and also keep everything nice and moist.  However, don’t feel you have to use this particular combination of cheese and herbage.  Use whatever is in your fridge, the combinations are endless.  For example, cheddar and chives would be tasty, or how about Gruyère and tarragon.  Any cheese you can grate will work well so use your imagination and make lots of different batches. 

Biscuits Ready for Baking

Buttermilk Biscuits with Harvarti and Dill 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 

3/4 cup cornmeal, preferably stone-ground (not coarsely ground) 

4 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp baking soda 

1 tsp salt 

4 tbls (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces 

6 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded Havarti cheese 

1 tsp dried dill 

1 1/3 cups well-shaken buttermilk 

To Make: 

Put a rack into the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 450F.  Butter a large baking sheet. 

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and dried dill in a bowl.  Use a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the whole thing resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in cheese.  Add the buttermilk and stir until well combined. 

Drop dough in equal mounds about 2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Our dough mounds were about 3 inches in diameter and we made 9 biscuits.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  If you make your biscuits smaller, make sure to keep an eye on the cooking time as they may bake faster.  Transfer to a rack and cool for about 10 minutes. 

To Serve: 

Serve warm with butter.  Yum.

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Filed under Add-ons, Baked goods, Bread, Recipes, Vegetarian

Smoky Peanuts

Smoky Peanuts

 

This Sunday is Easter Sunday (if you’re of a certain faith).  It’s a family day.  A day for Easter egg hunts, family brunches, and that sort of thing.  However, for those of us in Red Sox Nation, we know this day by its other name, Opening Day.  Not only is it Opening Day, we’re playing host to the Evil Empire.  Like Boston Mayor Menino said in 2004, “‘Much like a cookie, I predict the Yankee dynasty will crumble and the results will be delicious for Red Sox fans.”  (gotta love the food reference). 

Smoked Tea Leaves

 

Baseball has me thinking snack food for watching the game.  Want to put out something special for this special Sunday night game?  Try these quick and easy smoky peanuts.  Baseball and peanuts go hand and hand.  The sugar and salt make for an irresistible sweet and savory combination.  The hints of smoke from the tea leaves haunts your mind.  Personally, I’m a big fan of smoked foods and have almost become desensitized to most mildly smoked foods.  When I make this again (and there’s no question that I will make these again), I’ll double the amount of smoked tea leaves to enhance the smoke flavor. 

Peanuts and Peanuts Tossed in Goodness on the Baking Sheet

 

Smoky Peanuts 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

1 tbls lightly beaten egg white 

1 tsp sugar 

3/4 tsp Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, crushed with the side of a large heavy knife if coarse 

1/4 tsp salt 

1 cup salted cocktail peanuts 

parchment paper 

To Make: 

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Whisk together egg white, sugar, tea, and salt in a small bowl.  Stir in peanuts and spread in one layer on baking sheet. 

Bake, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are dry, about 10 minutes.  Cool on baking sheet on a rack for about 20 minutes.  Nuts will crisp as they cool. 

To Serve: 

Do I really need to tell you how to serve peanuts?  I thought not.

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Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Vegetarian