“Butcher’s Wife’s Pork Chops”

This is my version of the titled recipe in my French Feasts cookbook. This is cooking without really measuring and just adding as one goes along. Here are the ingredients as best I can estimate.

  • 2 pork chops, end cut
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 2-3 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers, from a jar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach

Bread the pork chops while heating 1 Tab of olive oil in cast iron skillet. Salt and pepper them as well. Cook these until crispy brown about 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in another skillet and add the onion. Add some olive oil as needed. Toss in the garlic and cook this for at least 5 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Now add the carrots and red peppers. Add salt and pepper to taste, or just some pepper. The bacon may be salty enough. Cook this for another 5 minute so the vegetables have softened. Stir this a few times. When this has softened enough for your liking put the spinach on top. Cover this with a lid and cook another 5 minutes to wilt the spinach.

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I served this with plain quinoa. After plating our dinner it occurred to me that I should have spread the quinoa over the plate, added the pork chop, and placed the cooked vegetables on top. Oh well. It was a nice meal, so much so that we sat at the kitchen table to eat instead of on the couch in front of the television.

The vegetables and quinoa would make a nice vegetarian meal, just leave out the bacon. And the vegetable quantities could be increased very easily.

Enjoy!

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Hoppin’ John

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It’s New Year’s Day and these are the ingredients for dinner. My Mom used to make something like this saying it would bring good luck in the New Year. The three basic ingredients are pork, rice, and black-eyed peas. Mom would soak dried peas overnight but I chose canned. The two ladies in the grocery store trying to find them also wanted to use canned although one said her mother also used to soak the dried. The three of us had a time finding these cans as they were buried in a stack of boxes and not readily available on the shelf. They are using a ham bone; I am using pork chops. Some traditions add greens, such as Collard, but I like spinach. I make this differently each time so here’s how I made it this year.

  • bacon, I hacked off about two half- inch chunks of bacon from the end of the package
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1-2 cups frozen spinach
  • about two cups of quinoa/rice mix; this was one envelope from this “cook in ten minutes” box cooked according to directions
  • one can black-eyed peas, undrained
  • several hefty shakes of red pepper flakes
  • one pork chop per person

For the Hoppin’ John, I cooked the bits of bacon and the onion in a cast iron skillet until the bacon was cooked. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes into this. I then added the spinach and continued cooking the concoction for about five minutes before adding the black-eyed peas and the prepared rice mix. Stir that all together and let heat thoroughly. The liquid from the can of black-eyed peas will reduce somewhat.

IMG_0838 1My original plan was to “stuff” each pork chop with the Hoppin’ John mixture. But Hubby wanted to glaze them with the blackberry preserves and he looked so endearing and delighted when he talked of it. So, in the spirit of compromise, I gave him the task of cooking the pork chops. He broiled them in the oven, flipped them over and put about a teaspoon of blackberry preserves on each and left them in the oven to glaze. This whole process took about ten minutes.

The Hoppin’ John was the side dish as well as leftovers for lunches for the week. Yum!

Supper

There’s some pork loin chops languishing in our freezer down in the basement. I recently bought a bag of plums that were a tad over ripe. My basil plant is growing by leaps and bounds!

So what’s for supper? Grilled pork with plum sauce served with peas with garlic, lemon, and basil. The latter was inspired by a recipe I read or saw but can’t remember where. The flavors sounded interesting.

To make plum sauce the plums must be cooked down until thick and saucy. Hubby says to leave the skins on for the color to be rich and dark and plummy.

I took 8-10 overripe plums and quartered them and removed the pit. I put these in my sauce pan (copper bottomed with the properly curved handle) and put this over medium heat. I added a splash of cranberry juice, about 3-4 tablespoons. This came to a boil and then I let it simmer until thick. I forgot to time it. To the thickened sauce I added zest from 1/2 lime (about 1/2 teaspoon) and the juice from that same half lime. And then a 6 inch sprig of rosemary. Continue to simmer, stirring until you smell the rosemary. This does not take very long.

Oh yeah, I forgot the messy part. When the plums are thick, I removed them from the pan and put them through a sieve to remove the skins. Very messy! I was thinking at the time that an old-fashioned ricer would be the perfect gadget for this job and that it was a shame I had given mine away in efforts to simplify my kitchen. So I am pounding on these plums with a wooden spoon and look up and what do I see? My ricer adorning the kitchen wall for a nostalgic decoration. Too late now, I think, and continue with the messy task. It gets done. I was surprised at how little of the skins were actually left to remove before finishing the sauce!

Leave the finished sauce in the pot to stay warmish until ready to serve.

Now for the peas. I used 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas. I cooked these in a small pot with a small amount of water to which I added one minced clove of garlic and the zest of 1/2 lemon. Cook for brief period of time, maybe 5 minutes on medium heat, and then add the juice of 1/4 lemon and a handful of basil, sliced into strips. I put a lid on the pot and let that simmer for about one minute.

This last minute may be eliminated in the future. The basil strips turned dark and I feared for the taste of the side dish. Turned out just fine!

Hubby grilled the pork and I plated our suppers. Take a look.

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Basically cook down the fruit. Add herbs and zest. Cook the peas. Add herbs and zest.

The plum sauce was very good. The leftovers can be served over a wedge of brie cheese with crackers. Good eating!

Pulled Pork

I have begun to think that everyone has cooked everything possible in all variations and there is nothing new under the sun to cook or write recipes about! I’ve been blogging just about a year now and I don’t think I had intended it to just be recipes, but it seems like so. I like to read other food blogs and I do try some of the recipes. With a little tweaking. Not to take away from the original. But that is how I cook. I can probably count on my hands and toes how many times I have followed a recipe “exactly”. Except for baking. But…even then…sometimes…?

So what to write about? Back a few years ago, almost 6 to be exact, my nieces cooked pulled pork for the family gathering after my Dad’s funeral. Dad was dad! I miss him. I wish I had been more patient/tolerant of conversations with him about social issues and politics. Theology and religion we could discuss til the cows came home, but not social issues and politics.

The pulled pork was delicious. I think my niece told me that she cooked a pork roast (I have no idea what cut) overnight in the crock pot on a layer of onions with a can of ginger ale. Then in the morning, she shredded the pork and returned it to the crockpot with a bottle of barbecue sauce. It cooked again for the day and was ready to eat. Yum.

This is not that recipe!

I have made pulled pork in my crockpot several times and I don’t think I have ever done the same way twice, much like barbecue sauce! I generally put the pork loin roast in the pot and make up a sauce with tomato ketchup (or is that catsup?), vinegar or Worcestershire, brown sugar or honey, chili powder or hot sauce, some garlic powder maybe, and let it cook all day. This is not that recipe either, but sort of.

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I cut the 3 pounds from this 10 pound chunk of pig!
  • 3 pounds of pork loin
  • 1/2 cup leftover homemade barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup tangerine limeade seltzer water

I put this in the crockpot and cooked it on low all day while I was at work. 8 hours later I came home and found that the liquid was simmering away quite briskly. I removed the meat and shredded it, draining the liquid. I put the meat back into the pot. I made a sauce from ketchup, sriracha, Worcestershire, and apple cider vinegar. I poured that over the shredded meat and let it cook, again on low for 2 hours until Hubby came home.

I served this on bakery Portuguese rolls; Hubby cooked up some mixed vegetables; and we ate our dinner without me taking a picture of the plated product. Oh well!

While waiting for the pork to cook up with the sauce I was reading blogs and came across this one: Chelsea buns by Basil&Co. So I ran inside and made them! They are good! And easy! And rich! Go check it out!

Pork Pies

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Pictured here are just pie dough and jam, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar: not the recipe below!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a little while now. I have these in my freezer, we ate some for a supper, and even took some camping and toasted them up on the grill. The pastry is from a recipe that I copied out of a book The Make Ahead Cook. I don’t remember the author. I found this in my “want to make” recipe notebook.

I had some seasoned pork that my stepdaughters’ aunt puts together for pork pie. My youngest stepdaughter made pork pie for us one time and it is delicious! I found a recipe for pork pie in the Yankee magazine after the girls told me of it. I had never heard of it before. It is ground pork seasoned with onion, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. I think each family recipe is probably a variation on that. Hubby mentioned that I needed more puff pastry so I could use that with the seasoned pork which the family calls “gratin”.  I did not have any puff pastry so this recipe came in handy. And its a bit different than regular pie pastry. Here are the ingredients for the crusts:

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  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  8 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (the original recipe called for shortening)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil

A food processor is a fabulous appliance for making pastry dough.

20160526_203351193_iOSProcess flour, salt, and baking powder in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. (I did not cut the butter into small enough pieces so ended up with chunks that made the rolling out of the circles a little more difficult than should be).Add broth and eggs until dough comes together. This took more than the 5 pulses in the original recipe. Transfer dough to a lightly floured board. Knead by hand to form a smooth ball and then divide into 16 pieces.

Roll each piece into a circle of about 6 inches diameter. Place 1/4 cup filling on half, brush edges with water, fold over and seal. I have to admit my 6 inch circles were approximate and “circle-like”! Half way through I ran out of the prepared pork (already cooked) and made a quick extra filling by cooking some breakfast sausages and scrambled eggs with a touch of grated cheese. (The original recipe called for a meat mixture made with 1 1/2 pounds of meatloaf mix.)

These get baked on cookie sheets preheated in a 425 degree F oven. When the pans are heated drizzle 2 Tablespoons of oil on the pan before placing the pies on them. The original recipe said to brush the other Tablespoon of oil on the tops. I sprayed them with cooking spray and for the second pan I did not drizzle the oil. The oil drizzled pans did produce a browner, crisper crust. So it might be worth the effort to do so next time as well.

I sprinkled paprika on the scrambled egg ones to distinguish them from the pork. This is a recipe that I will use again. It made 14, not 16, but that was the extent of the filling available. The crust is flavorful, like a biscuit, but thin and crisp. They are definitely not just pie dough and filling. These will be handy for a grab and go lunch or super easy supper on a busy night, or when I am just too lazy to cook!

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Pork and Peppers

The inevitable question running through my mind is “what’s for dinner?” I don’t think other family members have this question constantly bombarding their brain. Sitting home with son and hubby I was contemplating this and when I asked what they thought, I got the “I don’t know” looks from them. Son tried to be helpful with “what do we have?”

I looked through several cookbooks but was not inspired. I keep a running list of meats that I have in the house so I can quickly pick out something. I recently inventoried my pantry and spice cabinets and posted the contents inside the cabinet doors. (I am not used to being home 24 hours a day!) In the spring and summer I will keep a list of produce so I can use it before it passes it’s prime. I hate throwing away food!

So after reaching a point in the book I am reading where I could put it down for a bit, I took three pork chops out of the freezer. I defrost these somewhat in the microwave. Not sure what to do with them yet, I decide to take out veggies from the produce drawer and add them all together. In my perusal of recipes I had recently come across one that called for grating an inch of ginger root, so I take the ginger root from the freezer and some teriyaki sauce from the fridge. I will cook up all these veggies and serve them on top of the pork chops. I add a side dish of Bulgur.

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  • 1/2 inch of ginger root, grated; approximately 2 tablespoons
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed in a press or finely minced
  • olive oil and coconut oil for the pan, 2-3 tablespoons combined
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 3 carrots, pared and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced (I should dice these in the future)
  • 4 ounces portabello mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • splashes of teriyaki sauce
  • sprinkle of oriental five spices powder
  • 1/2 cup broth (I make my own and freeze it in 1-3 cup portions)
  • 3 pork chops, bone in

Put the pork chops in a pan and into the oven at 350 F. Prepare a skillet with the oils. I love using my cast iron skillet. Grate the ginger root. Mince the garlic.

Several years ago I picked up a gadget from a tag sale. This is a garlic press. It is made in Italy. I had to ask what it was and thought it was a novelty so took it home. I know that I figured out how to use it then but had not since. It did not work out quite like I expected.

So I finely chopped the garlic cloves with a knife.

Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in the oil in the skillet. While this is cooking, stir it occasionally, chop up the carrot, red pepper, and mushrooms. Put the carrot and pepper in to cook for 4-5 minutes, then add the broth and splashes of teriyaki and 5 spice powder. You will have to judge the amount based on the fragrance, whatever is pleasing to you. Add the mushrooms and cook uncovered about 5 minutes. The broth will be reduced and the carrots will be al dente.

pork and peppers 017Take the pork chops from the oven and flip them over. Put all the vegetables on top. There is a little bit of liquid so the pork chops will not dry out. Return to the oven and increase the heat to 425 F for about 20 minutes more.

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“This is delicious” were the first words out of son’s mouth after his first bite. That’s what a mom likes to hear.

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So I wrote down how I made this dish so I can make it again. But never leaving well enough alone there are a few changes: I think if I had put the temp up to 450 F and left in the oven a bit longer, the vegetables would take on a “roast” like look and flavor. I would either dice up all the vegetables or slice all of them more equally in size. I might add a bit more ginger root for more of a “bite”, OR I could make it the same way and know that it is delicious as is!