Friday, July 26, 2013

Pork Chops with Onion Peach Marmalade

So this night I decided I was going to make pork chops; when I decide to buy a pack of pork chops, I always lean toward center cut thick chops.  I recently got into brining & absolutely love what it does to my meat so I decided I would try brining my chops.  I also knew that I did not want your ordinary, run-of-the-mill pork chops; I wanted something different.


1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tsp black peppercorns
7 cups water

Trust me the salt does not affect the taste of your meat ever and will not make it salty; I promise.  In a large pot, bring 7 cups water to a boil. Remove from heat and add salt, brown sugar, rosemary sprig, and peppercorns; stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Add ice cubes and chill until cold; I used 2 cups of ice to chill it down. Place pork in brine and set a plate on top to keep meat completely submerged. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Make sure the pork chops are emerged and do not rise out of the water


1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 bone-in center-cut pork chops
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced white onions (1 lg onion)
1 cups chopped peeled peaches (approx 1-1/2 peaches)
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs sherry vinegar
1/2 ts fresh cracked pepper
1/4 tsp ground sage

Sherry vinegar is really hard to find, or at least it was for me.  I actually finally found it at Central Market.  I will warn you that it is a bit pricey, but it is a nice size bottle and has a wonderful flavor so it is worth ever penny. 


Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until transparent and start to caramelize, about 10-15 mins. Reduce heat to low; add peaches, sugar, vinegar, and peppercorns. 

Cook, stirring often, until everything is caramelized and sticky, about 40-50 minutes; I used the back of my plastic measuring cup to mash all my peaches to make more like a marmalade.  Stir in 1 tsp. salt and rosemary; set aside.

Heat remaining Tbs of oil in saute pan over medium high heat until the oil just begins to smoke.  Remove pork from brine and pat dry.

They even have a nice "seasoned" color after brining

Season both sides with 1/4 tsp salt, fresh cracked pepper & ground sage.  Add to hot pan and cook for about 7-8 min to form a nice golden crust, flip and cook for another 7-8 for medium well chops.  If you like your pork chops on the medium rare side, cook about 5 min on each side. 

***HOWEVER if you like a well done pork chop, I would cook for approx 20 min today since these chops are really thick.  Cook for approx 6 min, then flip and cook for another 6 min.  Reduce the heat to just below medium and continue cooking for another 4-6 min, flip once more and cook for another 4-6 min.  Reducing the heat will ensure you do not char or burn your chop nor dry it out***

The difference a great quality stainless steel pan makes!  

Transfer pork to a platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. 

I served this with saffron rice and some kale salad with cranberries, pepita seeds & almonds; they all complimented the pork chops wonderfully.  The pork chops were cooked perfectly and were extremely succulent and flavorful.  The peaches complimented the pork in such a way that our taste buds were dancing around in our mouths, lol!  Christopher even told me that I was not allowed to ever make pork chops in any fashion with brining them first!  Matter of fact, the pork chops brined for nearly 24 hrs; I think the longer, the better.

I hope you will give this dish a try and that is as huge a success as it was in our household!

Until next time, Happy Eating!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mussels With a Twist

So today finds me wanting to try out a new way of cooking up mussels than the usual wine & herbs steaming method.  Friday night on our way to Chris' boilermaker meeting, we stopped by the store so I could pick up some reading  materials to keep me occupied.  I happened to be drawn to a magazine called Cuisine Tonight For Two; I was like, "Wow, really? I have to get this."  The magazine is separated in four sections: poultry, seafood, meat & vegetarian.  I found a rather interesting recipe for Apple Cider Mussels which I slightly tweaked to my liking and to ingredients I had here at home.  I will post the original recipe and then my tweaks.


2 cups apple cider
2 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut into strips
1/4 cup sliced shallots
4 tsp chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 cup dry white wine
2 lb mussels, rinsed & debearded
2 Tbs heavy cream
Salt & Pepper


Reduce apple cider in a large sauté pan over high heat to about 3 Tbs, 17-20 min. Transfer reduction to a bowl coated with nonstick spray.

Cook bacon in another large sauté pan.  Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate.  Drain all but 1 Tbs drippings from pan.

Sweat shallots and 3 tsp thyme in same pan in drippings over medium heat until softened, 1-2 min.  Whisk in wine & cider reduction and season with salt & pepper.  Add mussels, increase heat to high, and cover with a tight-fitting lid until mussels open, 3 min.  Discard any mussels that don't open.  Spoon mussels from the broth into two serving bowls. 

Stir in cream, remaining 1 tsp thyme, and bacon into broth, then pour over the two bowls of mussels.

This recipe also calls for the following as an accompaniment to the mussels:

Salami & Apple Dippers


2 slices Gruyere cheese, halved
2 slices hard salami
4 slices Pink Lady apple
4 slices baguette (1/2-inch thick)
1 Tbs unsalted butter, melted


Layer a quarter of the cheese, half the salami, half the apple and another quarter of the cheese onto each of 2 baguette slices.  Top with remaining baguette slices to form sandwiches.

Brush the outsides of the sandwiches with melted butter.  Cook sandwiches in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, covered, until golden brown on both sides, 5-8 minutes.

My version:


2 cups apple cider
3 strips center-cut bacon
1/4 cup chopped shallots
4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2.3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup seafood stock
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 lb mussels, rinsed & debearded
2 Tbs heavy cream
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

As I stated earlier, I tweaked it a bit to my preference and what I had on hand. I do not like wine so I cut down the wine and added seafood stock which I always keep in the pantry and fridge.  Also I used 3 slices of center-cut bacon because it is mainly meat and lots of the fatty ends are cut off; additionally since it did not render enough drippings, I added extra virgin olive oil to make up for it.


Reduce apple cider in a sauce pan over high heat to about 3 Tbs; this actually took just over 25 minutes to get thick and syrupy.  Transfer reduction to a bowl coated with nonstick spray.

Cook bacon in a sauté pan.  Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; chop once cooled.

Add olive oil to drippings & sauté shallots and 3 tsp thyme over medium heat until slightly caramelized, about 4 min.

Whisk in wine, stock & cider reduction and season with salt & pepper.  Add mussels, increase heat to high, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

Until the mussels open, about 3 min.

Discard any mussels that don't open.  Spoon mussels from the broth into a large pasta bowl.

Stir in cream, remaining 1 tsp thyme, and bacon into broth.

Pour over the mussels.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

I did not understand the need of making the "dippers" to go along with the mussels.  I found a great tasting loaf of fresh Buttermilk Sourdough Bread while at Central Market this morning when I went to buy the mussels.  I simply brushed one side with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled lightly with salt & fresh cracked pepper and baked in a 350 degree oven for about 5 min until toasted.  This served as a great vehicle for soaking up the magnificent broth.

I also made Mojitos which Chris & I both think complimented our lunch perfectly.

Wanna make a Mojito? 

Ingredients for 1 Mojito:

10 mint leaves
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 lime, quartered
1.5 oz Bacardi Rum
Mineral water, like Topo Chico


Add mint leaves and 1/4 lime to a sturdy glass and muddle well in order for the mint leaves to release its oils and break down with the lime.  Add the sugar and 2 more lime quarters; muddle well.  Fill glass with ice, add rum and top with mineral water; stir well.  Top the rim with remaining lime quarter.


I like flavored Mojitos and have found that Naked's Pomegranate Blueberry Juice works perfectly for my Mojito.  After I add the rum, I add about 1.5 oz of juice, and then top off with the mineral water.  Super yummy!!

Lunch was great, and there were definitely NO leftovers.  You will certainly be surprised by the flavors in this dish, and I promise that the apple cider syrup does NOT overpower this dish; it is actually subtle and ties the dish together. 

I hope that you give this dish a try and that it is a hit in your household as well.  I can only imagine how good this would be with clams; hmmmm......something to try next time!

Until next time, Happy Eating!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Brunch Idea

In attempting to do something different for breakfast than the usual eggs & bacon routine that seems to be common but not common for me, I did some research yesterday on the net and even pulled out a few of my recipe books in hopes of finding something interesting and different. 

Ok, so Arroz Con Leche, loosely translated as rice with milk, is rice pudding.  Rice pudding?  How is that supposed to interesting, right?  Well this is a Baked Rice Pudding.  I found it in one of my cookbooks, Breakfast Heaven, which I had found by accident at Barnes & Noble for what seemed like a steal.  I, of course, made some changes to it (I wouldn't be me if I didn't); the preparation & baking time, however, stay the same.  First I will post the original recipe, then mine will follow:



5 Tbsp short-grain rice
3 Tbsp brown sugar or 2 Tbsp agave syrup
1 strip lemon zest or 1 vanilla pod
4-1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Generously butter a 1 qt ovenproof dish.

Put the rice, brown sugar or syrup and lemon zest or vanilla pod in the dish.  Gently pour in the milk and stir.  Sprinkle with the grated nutmeg over the surface of the milk and dot with butter.

Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 45 minutes, stir

Let cook for another 75 minutes by which time a brown crust will have formed and the rice will be fully cooked.  Served hot or cold.

Makes 6 servings.

My Version

5 Tbsp Arborio rice
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 strip lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
4-1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 cardamom pods, gently crushed, 
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 Tbsp reduced fat butter (I prefer Kerrygold Irish Butter)

As previously stated the prep is the pretty much the same with the exception of putting the additional ingredients as follows:

Put the rice, brown sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, ginger & cardamon pods in the dish.  Gently pour in the milk and stir.  Sprinkle with the grated nutmeg over the surface of the milk, put the cinnamon stick in the middle and dot with butter.

Let me share with you that Chris and I both enjoy exotic flavors, hence the cardamom and ginger tweaks.  It is not a secret that I am a huge fan of HEB; I absolutely love the wall of spiced they have (I should take a pic one day of this).  You can go there, grab a baggie, grab a spice jar and fill it up as much as you want; then you put it on the scale, enter the code on the jar & print out your price tag.  This is so much more economical than buying the jars on the shelves; trust me, this is way cheaper!  I have picked up so many different spices, which was especially convenient for me when I made phở.  I have cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, cardamon pods, ground cardamom, cream of tartar, all kinds of exotic salts, star anise and the list goes on and on!

Lucky for me, I have this handy dandy beautiful glass jar from Teavana, of which we are huge fans of as well; this jar is practically free when you buy the jar of their German Rock Sugar.  I was making trips to Teavana quite frequently for the girls at my last job to pick up orders and ended up with a few of these jars; I gave some away and wondered what I was going to do with the ones I had.  So, I filled one up with rice and this one has served well as a spice jar.  But I digress..

Here is the finished product:

I can see where adding 1 cup of raisins or dried cranberries or currants or any dried fruit before baking would add a delightful addition to this dish.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did and I baking it.

Until next time, Happy Eating!