Sunday, September 28, 2008

Broiled Pork Chops

2 thick-cut bone-in pork chops (approximately 1.5 to 2 inches thick)
kosher salt
brown sugar
Dijon mustard

mix 2 quarts water with 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/3 cup brown sugar (stir until dissolved). brine pork chops in solution for 30-40 mins (40 mins max).

meanwhile prepare dijon glaze by mixing 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard with 1/4 cup brown sugar. 15 mins before cooking, preheat broiler with oven rack in middle of oven (about 12 inches from heat source).

pat pork chops dry, place on rack of foil lined cookie sheet. broil in oven for about 10-12 mins depending on thickness. turn over chops, glaze with mustard sauce, and continue cooking until pork chops are brown and reach internal temp of 145 degrees. remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

NOTE: you may have to adjust broiler rack up or down to achieve browning/doneness. keep an eye on it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Green-Pea Soup with Cheddar-Scallion Panini

From Everyday Food, March 2008

3 tablespoons butter
4 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
3 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen peas
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar (6 ounces)
8 slices rye sandwich bread
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium. Add scallion whites, and cook, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add peas, broth, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until peas are tender, about 5 minutes; set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss cheddar with scallion greens. Make 4 sandwiches with cheddar mixture and bread.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low. Place sandwiches in skillet, and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adding remaining tablespoon butter to skillet to cook second side.

Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth (filling blender only halfway to prevent spattering). If necessary, adjust consistency with a little bit of water. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Slice each panini into four "fingers, and serve with soup.

Serves 4.

Make Your Own Spreadable Butter

1 cup canola oil
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon lecithin
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Let the butter soften then beat it with the wire whip in your Kitchen-aid mixer until about doubled in volume. Add oil, lecithin and salt and beat in. Pour into a contain and let firm up in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to Make Your Own Chili Powder or Some Like it Hot

by Eleanor Bradshaw

June may seem an unlikely month to present a how-to piece on making your own chili powder. Sure, there are lots of us who love chili year round, but many people really don't think about chili, especially making it, until the heat of summer has tapered off, and a nip is in the air.

When it comes to something as seemingly superfluous as making your own chili powder, after the McCormick people have gone to the trouble of putting all those little bottles on the supermarket shelf, you need some lead time to turn the whole idea over in your mind.

I'm not going to spend much time talking you into it. It's not hard to do. You don't need any special equipment. It's fun. And you end up with an incredibly good, fresh, unadulterated chili powder that will (excuse me, McCormick) put all those little bottles to shame. Not only that but, once you learn how to turn dried chiles into chili powder, you can keep a stock of your favorite chiles on hand to use whenever you wish, even if you live in an area where chiles are not readily available.

Now, the following recipe is a guide -- something you can go by. The whole point of making your own chili powder is to make it to your own personal taste.

Assemble the following ingredients:

For mildness and flavor:
4 Ancho chiles (dried poblanos)
3 Dried New Mexico chiles

For heat:
3 to 5 Dried Chiles de Arbol or Cayenne

For flavor:
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground oregano (Mexican oregano, if you can get it)

Preheat your oven to 300F.

Remove stems and seeds from all the chiles. Cut each chile in half with scissors and flatten the pieces. Incidentally, good dried chiles will still have some moisture in them and be fairly pliable. Don't use dried chiles that are so dry and fragile that they shatter when touched. Chile ristras and wreaths are wonderful decorative accents, but the chiles dry out and lose their flavor.

Put the chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 4 or 5 minutes. Remove the pan and check the chiles (they cool almost immediately). The smaller chiles will be toasted first, so remove them and set aside. Bake the larger pieces another 4 minutes and check again. The poblanos will be done last, but as portions of them toast, break them off and set aside returning the pan to the oven if necessary.
When all chiles are toasted and crispy, break each piece into two or three pieces and place in a blender. Pulse briefly until you have powder.

Toast the cumin seeds by placing them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir the seeds constantly being very careful not to let them scorch. When they are a few shades darker than the untoasted seeds, they are ready. Grind the toasted seeds with a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin between two sheets of waxed paper.

Add the ground cumin, garlic powder and oregano to the ground chiles in the blender. Pulse a few more times to thoroughly mix the powder, and you're through. You should have about 1 cup of chili powder, depending upon the size of your chiles.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Barbara Gerhardt's Lemon-glazed Persimmon Bars

From Barbara Gerhardt

Be sure to purchase the right type of persimmons (
Hachiya) and have them ripe. If they aren't ripe, you can hasten the process by placing them in the freezer overnight. The next morning let them defrost in a bowl in the kitchen and within a few days they should be soft and mushy. Click on the link to learn about persimmons.

1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil (you can omit this if you want--the finished bars will still be very tasty although a bit lighter in texture)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups dates, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup persimmon pulp (fresh or frozen)
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Combine egg, oil, sugar, and finely chopped dates in a bowl; mix well. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and baking soda. Add a mixture of flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves alternately with pureed persimmons, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chopped walnuts.

Spread in a greased and floured 9 x 13-inch baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until light brown. Cool for 5 minutes.

Glaze with a mixture of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Makes 24 bars.

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