Friday, April 30, 2010

Creamy Cranberry Porkchops with Mushrooms

One of the real keys to this dish is getting the right type of cranberry juice. Don't get a cranberry cocktail--those are just too sweet and too thin. Look for an unfiltered kind or a 100% juice variety. I used a cranberry-pomegranate juice, and it was great.

Creamy Cranberry Porkchops with Mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless pork tenderloin chops
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pint sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
  • 1 finely diced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a flat-bottomed frying pan. Salt and pepper both sides of the porkchops, and then add to the hot oil. Cook for a few minutes on both sides until you can't see any more pink from the exterior (the length of time will vary depending on how thick your chops are). They don't have to be cooked all the way through here, as you'll heat them again at the end.

Remove the chops to a plate. Add the butter to the pan, and reduce the heat just a little. Saute the mushrooms until browned, but not soggy. Remove them to a plate, retaining as much liquid in the pan as possible.

Add the shallot and garlic to the pan, and cook until golden. Add the cranberry juice and cream, and dissolve any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the porkchops back to the pan, covering them with the sauce. Turn them after about 3 minutes, add the mushrooms, and continue to heat them, about 5 minutes longer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Asian Noodle Vegetable Soup

I don't know about where you live, but in Carolina we're enjoying a transcendentally beautiful Spring. However, every now and again we get a really chilly night. After coming back from a run on a particularly nippy evening, I needed something to warm me up a bit. Looking through my cupboard for something to warm me up, I ran across a package of cellophane noodles (also known as bean threads), and decided to have a go at it.

This just kind of a thrown-together vegetable broth, but on that chilly night, it hit the spot just right. You can pretty much throw in anything you want or happen to have around, and I think you'll be fine.

Asian Noodle Vegetable soup

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • about 1/4 finely diced onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 large, thinly-sliced carrots
  • 3 sliced celery stalks
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3.75 oz package of cellophane noodles (bean threads)
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and stir until translucent. Then, add the garlic and ginger and stir until golden.

Add the water, broth, and soy sauce. Raise the temperature and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the carrots and celery, and simmer about 5 minutes until slightly soft. Add the peas, and allow them to heat through (don't overcook the peas). Add the sesame oil, and stir vigorously.

Reduce the heat, then add the noodles. Let them soak, stirring frequently, until soft (maybe 8 minutes, or so). Taste for salt, and add some if necessary, but I didn't think it needed any.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Guest post: Curried Apple Orzo Salad

So, as I've mentioned before, the purpose of this blog is to celebrate experimentation. Sometimes that means developing a recipe from scratch. Sometimes it means tweaking grandma's secret recipe (I won't tell if you won't). And sometimes it means trying to recreate the flavor from a dish in a random restaurant which has been haunting you for sometime. You long-time readers may recognize this dish, as I actually tried to recreate it some time ago. This is my favorite dish to get at the little deli in my building for lunch. It has a little spicy-sweet kick that is really interesting.

I promise you that this version is better than my attempt; I'm not too prideful to admit that. Nice work, Jenn.

Curried Apple Orzo Salad

for the salad
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds toasted
  • about 1/2 red onion
  • 1 large diced granny smith apple
for the dressing
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cook orzo according to package directions then combine all dressing ingredients and mix well.

Pour dressing over warm orzo then add raisins, almonds, onions and apples.

Mix thoroughly then refrigerate overnight.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Does anybody know anything about convection ovens?

I hear convection ovens are amazing for baking and roasting, but that newbies will inevitably burn everything their first few times. The "learning curve" as they call it.

Any suggestions for a beginner?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Best Birthday Present Ever

Why use 3 utensils when you can use just one? That question was posed to me in the unexpected form of a recent birthday present from my brother.

My brother, the master gift-giver and chili maker, surprised me with this one. I opened the box and saw a gleaming, new, matching set of 8 stainless steel sporks. Yep. Sporks. The curious utensil chimera of junior high cole slaw fame. But wait; they have a serrated edge. It's a knife, too. Sporf? That just doesn't sound right.

But let me tell you that this things are right. They are perfect for potato salad, eating peanut butter right from the jar. Eating peas (they are perfect for peas). And they're even nice enough for company. I laughed, thinking they were a joke, but let me tell you, if you get invited over for dinner at my place, I'm probably setting the table with these bad boys.