Friday, December 20, 2013

The Marinade: Bone in Pork Chops Marinated in Red Wine, Balsamic &Garlic

I realized that sometimes it may sound like I have multiple personalities, making their appearances when I use the "we" reference. So, let me introduce you to Steven, the other half of the "We" typically. We're going steady. He is my sweetheart, my guy, my beau. ::Swoon:: It's actually our anniversary week, what better time to introduce him? I say our "anniversary week" because when we first met, we spent day after day together and really couldn't decide what day was the official day. The first meal I made for him was Shrimp Scampi and Grilled Filet Mignon. I know, I was laying it on thick...it worked, apparently and here we are. I'll be doing a blog later this week with the whole story and those recipes.

So, we made the best pork chops the other night. We had family over for dinner. That saying, over for dinner, is so weird. Like we ate our guests. Well, we did not. But, they gave high marks on the grilled pork and wanted to know....what is THE secret?!? The secret was in the marinade.

The chops were paired with a pasta dish including lots of kale and collards that were slow cooked all morning and a crisp green salad, sliced radishes, shaved carrots, and Campari tomatoes (with the homemade dressing "A Salad Dressing to Remember" balsamic dressing from a couple weeks ago.) It was a great combination of flavors, glasses of Chardonnay were pouring, and guests devoured the pork down to the bone, literally. 

It was our first time using bone-in pork chops, so we weren't confident going in to the grilling, but the final product turned out. They were divine, very flavorful and I think the bone-in added a level of moisture. The pork absorbed all the marination goodnessThey were juicy...mouth watering, yet?  Good news, the whole process of the pork took about 20 minutes between mixing the marinade first, earlier in the day and then cooking the chops right before dinner. 

Now, on the cooking of pork, changes were made in the last couple of years regarding the suggested temperature for safe eating. Some people are still a little leary of pink pork, so we did give an extra few minutes to some chops. But, technically, a gorgeous pink pork chop is 145 degrees F with 3 minute resting. Ground pork is still 160 degrees F. You can check out the time for meats at the following link, too:
http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html


Grilled Pork Chops Divine

1 Tbsp Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp
7 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp Ginger, ground
2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
1/4 Cup Balsamic plus 2 Tbsp
1/4 Cup grape-seed oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 Cup red wine
2 tsp crushed fennel seed, (I used whole seeds and crushed them with my chefs knife)
4 Tbsp Soy Sauce


The Marinade is good for 4-6 chops.

In a large container, measure out all ingredients and whisk together. Drop in pork chops about 4 hours prior to serving. Make sure they are well coated on both sides and into the fridge for cooking. We grilled ours for about 10 minutes, 5 per side. Like I said, we grilled some longer than others for variations of rareness for our guests, and everyone was happy.






Until next time
Happy Cooking...and Happy Grilling!!


XoXo






Friday, December 13, 2013

Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Ponzu Dressing

The idea of this dish is like, "One of these things is not like the other..."  Did you sing it in your head, too? I did. That was my thinking when visiting PF Chang's over the summer and trying their new Summer Tomato salad. I learned, actually, they DO go together. It's a whole lotta Lisa Marie and Michael action going on, on the palate. Is that weird? Much love for Mr. Jackson. Elvis, too, fortunate for Lisa Marie. Sadly this, too, will all end in divorce, when you tell the other tomato salads that you're just not that in to them anymore.





Ponzu Dressing
1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
2 TBSP Mirin

Salad
1/4 Cup Basil, chiffonade
6 Heirloom Tomatoes, cubed
Half of Lemon, wedges
salt and pepper, to taste

Prep the Tomatoes first. Separate as much of the seeds and liquid out from the tomato flesh.  It can render the dish a bit too "liquidy". I like to cut the tomatoes in substantial size cubes, they look pretty this way and you get a good basil-to-ponzu-to-tomato ratio, makes sense right? I don't know where I come up these things, but it sounded good at the time and tasted fabulous, so I just went with it...

Moving along, chiffonade the Basil and set aside. I mean, you can tear in to barbarian pieces, alternately, and call it rustic, boom...tastes the same. However, presentation is 30% of the grade, so chiffonade for a dinner party and save the rustic-i-fication for the privacy of your kitchen.

Chiffonade is a chef-y word. Please don't be scared. YouTube that ish and get on it.

Dressing time! This part is quite difficult, bare with me. First, measure out the four ingredients into a (ceramic) bowl. I don't know why I said ceramic, you can use whatever bowl you prefer, really. Whisk, whisk, whisk. Whisk, whisk, whisk...and walla! Dressing complete. Set up your tomatoes on a platter or large plate, sprinkle the Basil over the top, drizzle dressing, salt and pepper, and lightly toss. Last step is to splash some lemon over the dish and serve.

In case you were wondering, I wasn't really serious about the difficultly, it's really easy. And quite beautiful. I'm happy to report that my local grocery, Glaziers, actually has a nice stock of heirlooms well in to December now! So, now we can have that PF Chang's summer salad, in December, at home and fresh. I want to hashtag "winning" but will refrain.

Instead, I say, Enjoy!
Until next time....Happy Cooking! And maybe Happy Holidays, too!!!! (See note below)   :)



XoXo




A little note from me: I have many recipes in the works, and can't wait to post, post, post in the New year. I am swamped with projects in the meantime, meaning less frequent blog posts for the next couple of weeks. I'm sure you are all very busy, too, with the most wonderful time of the year. So, basically, what I'm trying to say is, Happy Holidays! if, by chance, I don't get in another post before Christmas.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Lorelei Lee Cranberry Saketini singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's BestFriend"

Can we call it "The Ginge"? It's not quite a redhead, more of a hot pink. That brings me to the name. Think Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, because when I see this pink confection I envision Marilyn Monroe slinking around in her HOT pink frock singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." The vision of feminity. And the drink imbues all that. It's sweet and spicy and a little bit tart. Oh, and my Godmother and I drank 4 or 5...  a piece .....What?! Yeah, they are that good. And, of course, there's all that holiday spirit running around. Enough said! 



"The Lorelei Lee" Cranberry Saketini  

1oz vodka 
2 oz Nigori Sake 
1 oz cranberry simple syrup (see below) 
1oz Delucia Strawberries and Cream Sparkling Wine  
Slice of fresh ginger root, peeled




Shake on ice, serve straight up. Garnished with cranberries.  Leave a little slice of ginger in to flavor the drink.

Cranberry simple syrup: Simmer 1 1/2 cup cranberries with 2 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 2 Splendas. Strain cranberries to get just syrup for the drink. 



Until next time...Happy Cooking! And Holiday Party-ing!!



XoXo