It’s one of the biggest challenges and conundrums of my cooking, blogging, writing, and teaching life. Folks are so very interested in food, love to chat about it, are crazy about eating, and seem to know lots about ingredients and technique (Food Network and “Top Chef”, I guess). But somehow they often have an awesome amount of trouble getting into the kitchen and actually cooking. There are myriad reasons and I needn’t name them.
In late summer in Colorado and New Mexico, there are chile roasters on busy street corners and if you haven’t the time or inclination to buy and roast your own chiles, this is the place you stop for our homegrown goodness. The aromas wafting around the intersections will call you even if you haven’t seen a roaster in years. Can’t eat them all right away–just warmed and layered with cheese, eaten with tortillas or tortilla chips? Then it’s time to gently tuck the chiles into small or large containers and freeze them for winter cooking.
Come cold weather, I like to pile up a big slow cooker full of sliced fresh salted and peppered pork loin, chopped onions and garlic, sliced or canned tomatoes, and the thawed or still frozen roasted chiles. At the end of a snowy day, we hit a fresh tortilla place on the way home and walk into the house full of blasting hot southwest aromas hitting us in the face. Tortillas go in the oven and a big bowl of pork and chiles is ladled out for each person. Time to sit down to summer complete with a cold beer. Meanwhile, we watch the wind whip down out of the mountains, screaming cold, cold, cold. Yes, it’s rather heavenly-sounding, isn’t it? Continue reading
A dear friend of mine named Joyce once wrote a card — one of many she’s sent over the years — and mentioned she was still making my pork chop with potatoes and apples supper. I vaguely remembered that meal, but it was one of those quick meals I never bothered to write down. These days I keep a cooking journal and so have records of meals or at least titles and approximate amounts. (Well, I’m supposed to anyway. Since the kitchen remodel I’m still finding things. Do you know where the lids are for my small Pyrex dishes? Or my good silver??)
Late Friday afternoon found me cooking up two big pots of Pumpkin-Chicken Chili *-– one for us to share with neighbors and one for me to have in the DACOR kitchen at Shouse Appliance on Saturday. I needed to make a vat of pinto beans laced with bacon, so those were bubbling away on another burner. Enter Dave sniffing around for dinner.
(Apple-Cheddar Salad recipe here.)
Since I didn’t want him to overdose on chili, I got out my big sauté pan — it’s about 5 quarts — and threw in a few quickly sliced potatoes, onions, and apples. On the counter was a yellow (summer) squash that had seen better days. I sliced it and threw that in, too. After those goodies were about half-way tender, I shoved them to the side of the pan and added some oiled and seasoned pork chops. Lid on and dinner was done by the time I set the table and Dave opened a bottle of Pinot Noir.
*If you ate this chili in the Dacor kitchen, it differs from the recipe in three ways: I used beer instead of wine and added cooked Italian sausage as well as the bacon in the beans.
Above: I had the pups all “dressed” for Halloween and a big bowl of candy. We had two trick-or-treaters. The name Rosie seems to be sticking, despite my love for “Mara,” and all the other wonderful suggestions we’ve received. I think it’s because I like to sing this old song to her. This morning I found her asleep on my feet while I was checking email. She’s doing wonderfully well, though we’re still working hard on house training. Puppies.
Happy Fall cooking…
Below: Rosie practicing “Come” with Dave in the front yard.
ONE-PAN PORK CHOPS WITH POTATOES, ONIONS, SQUASH, AND APPLES
SERVES 2 — Easily doubled
There is enough of the potato mixture to serve another day with eggs or you might be able to stretch it to serve four if you can fit four chops in your pan and serve a green vegetable or salad as a side. The wine or water makes just a little sauce to keep it all moist.
To a large, deep skillet or sauté pan heated over medium-high flame, add 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil along with 3 sliced potatoes, 1 large sliced onion, 1 sliced yellow (summer) squash, and 1 cored and sliced apple. Season generously with seasoned or kosher salt, pepper, and a good pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or so until all are at least half-way tender. Push the potato mixture to the sides of the pan to make room for the chops.
Add 2 thick bone-in pork chops you’ve brushed with oil and seasoned well with salt, pepper, and a good pinch of dried thyme. Cook until the chops are well- browned on one side and turn over to brown the other side. Stir the vegetables and apples, pour in 1/4 cup white wine*, then cover and reduce heat until everything is tender. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the chops for doneness. They should read 145 degrees. Let dinner rest in pan five minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with the grated zest of one lemon.
*Can sub water or chicken broth for wine. For a more smoothly silky sauce, dab in a tablespoon of butter as well.
Sing a new song; cook some pork chops,
INA FRIDAYS –First Friday of every month. Come cook some Ina with us this weekend. Scroll down to join the group. ♥♥♥ Upcoming: Desserts: July 4. Check out Ina Fridays on Pinterest.
As a cook and a lover of my friends and family, one of my frequent questions to pose is:
What’s your favorite meal?
People will often need a moment because we have so very many things we love. I myself can unequivocally answer,
This even though I often live on eggs, don’t particularly want to live without asparagus, and am rarely more pleased than when there’s beef stew for dinner. I like great individual artisan pizza, take-out or delivery pizza, homemade pizza (my son makes the best), and probably only draw the line at frozen pizza — though I’ll eat Lou Malnati’s anytime, good Chicago girl that I am. I love pizza so much that I’m not picky. (Ok, I don’t do Chucky Cheese.) But I’m amazed how many times Americans will answer, “Hamburgers” when it comes to their favorite food. They include fries more than half the time, I’d wager. (Click HERE for a list of Top 50 American Foods.) And while they love a great or famous burger from a bar, I think they’re even happier with a summertime grilled-at-home version or even a drive-in dive sandwich. (If I jump in the car, I can be at Cy’s in two minutes with a green line down at the corner.) Continue reading
You perhaps look in the fridge on a regular basis and wonder how to use a certain leftover. I mean, we try hard to be conservative with the food we buy or make — waste not, want not. Some things are easy–pizza, for instance. I like it just heated up, but I also like to take the toppings off a piece that has seen better days and use them with pasta or in an omelet. Ham’s another. Grind it for ham salad, make a sandwich, bean soup, or a chef salad. But mashed potatoes sometimes get me. I mean, I make gorgeous potato cakes, totally crispy in their hot butter. But there weren’t enough for potato cakes for all of us. If I had only thought of it, I could have thrown them in my potato soup last night. But I didn’t. Think, that is. There were just enough mashed potatoes for me. (Actually it was colcannon — potatoes mashed with kale or cabbage-that I made with salmon the other day.) And I wanted them for breakfast. Why not? You could be perfectly happy with these for lunch or dinner, too; after all, what are leftovers for?
Think of your eggs, desperate for you to try something new with them, next time you bring a scoop of mashed potatoes home from a too-big restaurant dinner:
mashed potato eggs — breakfast, lunch, or dinner serves 2
You’ll make one serving at a time. Keep one warm in the oven while you make the other.
- 2 teaspoons salted butter
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 2 cups mashed potatoes or colcannon
- 4 eggs
- Kosher salt, fresh-ground pepper
- Salsa or chopped parsley or scallions for garnish, optional
Heat 1 teaspoon butter in an 8-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons milk and let warm. Press 1 cup mashed potatoes into the pan and heat until hot and beginning to crisp underneath.
Push potatoes to the edges of the pan, leaving about a 4-inch diameter space at the center. Crack two eggs, side by side, into the space and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover, lower heat a little, and cook until the eggs are done to your liking –about two minutes for runny, sunny side up. Lift the whites a time or two to let the uncooked portions fall back into the pan.
Slide a large rubber spatula under the potatoes and eggs to loosen and slide the breakfast onto a plate. Garnish with salsa or chopped parsley or scallions. Serve hot.
Repeat for second serving.
Cook’s Notes: If you like scrambled eggs, just beat your eggs together in a small bowl before pouring into the center of the pan.
Just for fun, I thought I’d share a photo of my Irish Soda Bread from last night. Instead of baking it in a heavy glass round dish, I baked it free-form and was much happier with the results. It was scrumptious. We invited our neighbor, Mary Pat, over for a serve-yourself potato soup and bread supper eaten in front of the tv so we could watch John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in “The Quiet Man” for a family-style Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. We didn’t eat all of the bread, but almost.
This may be the last time I look at my kitchen in exactly the same way. Dave and I have finally decided to commit to a kitchen re-do, though we’re not sure what it will mean for us. Our first choice is to move our kitchen entirely to the sunroom so that we have a room that is twice as big and has windows! If that proves unfeasible, we’ll revert to updating the footprint we currently have, albeit with a few changes. What we have is a one-butt galley kitchen that also serves as the hallway to the deck and the garage — read that how everyone gets in and out, including all of the dogs. You see what I’m talking about.
The designer arrives today and will take more pictures (she has some), look at my likes and dislikes notes on houzz.com, measure the two rooms, and give us a couple of design choices and price points. I would love for this to be done in time for our 40th anniversary, which is 14 July. What do you think? It could happen! As I write and wait for her, the wind whips between 50 and 60 miles per hour. On my phone are dust storm warnings for today : DO NOT TRAVEL! it says. We’ve also had bouts of swirling dervish snow squalls. To the north are white-out conditions on the interstate. Yesterday afternoon, I drank my tea out on the front porch in the 70 degree F sun.
Sing a new song,
Over the holidays, and since, we’ve been making big pots of soup when we weren’t finishing off the leftovers. Colds, strep throat, and the need for lighter fare after all the heavy meals were the instigators, but the weather contributed… Today, the sun came out to melt the snow–
and it was time for something else: real cooking in the oven maybe? Two big pot roasts called my name at the store the other day, and one of them simply jumped into the Dutch oven cut up with a big bunch of cooked green chiles and onions. Sounded incredibly homey–a beef and green chile braise kept coming to mind (rather than chili, per se)–but I also decided to whip up a pot of cheddar mashed potatoes to keep it company. A side of barely tender green beans, stirred up with just the teensiest bit of butter rounded out the meal.
Dave’s on the road (he’ll have his share Friday night), but Sean and I each had a lovely bowl of this goodness and, when we did, we happened to look out the big, low window in the sun room that’s becoming my dining room only to meet eyes with a great big, muscular bobcat (lynx.) Living in Colorado has its beautiful moments. And other things. The dogs said zip. Scaredy cats. Which was good; they were staying inside. Continue reading
POTATOES WITH PEPPERS AND ZUCCHINI
Heat oil, butter, crushed red pepper, and rosemary in a large, deep skillet over low heat for a minute or two.
|Don’t be scared; he doesn’t bite.|
- 1 cup all purpose white flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon each chopped parsley and dill
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Pinch ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Hot sauce
- 1 approximately 3/4-pound cleaned rainbow trout, head and tail left on (rinsed and patted dry)
- Olive oil
- Canola Oil
1. Into one of three shallow bowls, place 1/2 cup flour mixed well with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
2. Into another bowl, place the rest of the flour, the cornmeal, fresh herbs, lemon zest, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.
3. Into the third bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 4-5 drops hot sauce.
4. Dip both sides of trout first in the flour-salt-pepper mixture, then in the buttermilk mixture, and last in the flour-cornmeal mixture. Set on plate while you heat oil.
5. Into a large, deep skillet, pour a mixture of olive and canola oil to fill the skillet 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep. Heat over medium-high heat. Gently lay fish in the oil and cook 4-5 minutes or until quite brown on one side.
6. Carefully turn fish and cook another 2-3 minutes or until browned and, when tested inside, fish is firm and flaking.
7. Drain fish on paper towels while you fry four eggs in prepared skillet (no recipe included.) and make your toast.
8. Gently transfer fish to the platter with the warm potatoes and vegetables.
9. Using a sharp, serrated knife and cooking fork, separate head from the body of the fish with a quick cut. Gently pry apart the opened body of the trout to expose the spine, bones, and flesh.
Filet by removing as much of the skeleton as possible. Cut fish in half and serve with eggs, potatoes, avocado-basil mayo, and toast. I leave the tail on for serving. Watch for bones!
You CAN also filet the trout before cooking; I think the trout is tastier cooked whole.
For detailed trout prep, check this out.
38 Power Foods is a Team Effort!
Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available:
All sites may not blog power foods each week.
ON MY DINNER PLACE BLOG THIS WEEK:
Sing a new song,
|from a June, 2012 post|
(A note to my readers: This blog has been publishing with an odd display and, in an attempt to restore its appearance, I’ve inadvertently deleted all of the comments from this post. Please accept my apologies and thanks for your lovely comments! Now on to today’s post….)
Necessity is the mother of invention.
As is a determination to use what’s available in the larder.
Tonight, I had probably half a pound roasted pork loin and a nice dish of my favorite barbeque sauce leftover from a birthday dinner for my friend, Lani. I had, however, eaten the side that went with it for lunch. Of course I knew what I was doing, but I love toasted Israeli couscous with vegetables.
If this were in your frig, you’d heat it up for lunch, too. Along with a nice big shard of parm Lani brought over Friday night as a “coming to dinner” gift. Yow.
Anyway, when it came time for dinner tonight (and we are eating outside every night now), it was kind of, “Well, I know what half of it is.” The rest I had to throw my eyes around the kitchen for. Bad grammar, too. I spy:
- sweet potatoes
- Idaho potatoes
- fresh tarragon (out the back door)
- red bell pepper (in the frig)
And what to with it? My first idea was to grill the potatoes and make a salad, but I didn’t want to heat the stove long enough for my big cast iron grill. It was warm. Dave was busy upstairs; I decided to not have him pull out the big Weber grill outdoors for me. My 14″ saute pan was on the stove clean from yesterday’s frittata. A little olive oil, a little chop, and the salad began. Here’s how:
warm two-potato salad with mustard-tarragon vinaigrette 4 serving for a side (2 for a main course)
- 2T olive oil
- 1/2 t kosher salt
- 1/4 t each fresh ground black pepper and crushed red pepper
In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil, salt and peppers over medium heat. Add:
- 1 ea: large Idaho and sweet potato, medium diced (peel sweet potato only)
- 1 small head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 1 cup)
- 1 large red bell pepper, small dice
- 1 shallot (slice half for salad; mince half for vinaigrette)
- 1T fresh lemon juice
- 2T grated aged Gouda cheese or Parmesan cheese
Serve warm or at room temperature.
- 1/2 large shallot, minced (see above-you’ll use other half with potatoes)
- 2T white wine vinegar
- 1/2 t Dijon mustard
- 1T minced fresh tarragon (or 1 t dried)
- pinch salt and pepper
- 4T olive oil
Want more great sweet potato ideas? Check out the other beautiful 38 Healthiest Ingredient bloggers:
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved. If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
On my Dinner Place (Cooking for One) blog right now:
shrimp-quinoa salad with feta and tomatoes:
Sing a new song
|Just add fork|
Sometimes I don’t know what gets into me. I know I have something leftover and simple from which to create a meal. Say a piece of steak or two small pieces, in this case. (Neither Dave nor I could finish our dinner the night before. Is there something wrong with us?) I didn’t set out to make a homemade potato chip-steak salad…but here’s how it happened:
First, I take the steak out of the frig and begin casting around for something to go with it. Toast? I could make a sandwich. Pasta? I could cook up some vegetables to go with the steak while the water boils. Stir fry? Omelet filled with steak? Steak and eggs? I could make mushrooms in velouté sauce with cream (Supreme is the name, I think–I made it up as a young cook without knowing its name.) and Dijon mustard, add the steak and serve it over rice. How about a childhood favorite, beef hash? (Who would waste great steak on hash, Alyce?)
Instead of beginning any of those dishes, I find myself at the Cuisinart making homemade mayonnaise, using Daniel Boulud’s method:
|Who is Daniel Boulud?|
Into the food processor bowl, pour 1T good-quality white-wine vinegar (such as Chardonnay or Champagne) and 1T Dijon mustard. (I like to use the whole grain variety.) Pulse until well blended.
Through the feed tube, with the machine running, drizzle 1 cup canola oil.* Process until thick. Season with salt and pepper.
*Daniel Boulud uses peanut oil
And then I take out a skillet, heat a little canola oil and fry up very thin slices of potato for potato chips. This is coming together, I think:
|Drain them on paper towels. Salt and pepper immediately. Don’t eat them all.|
Meantime, I “boil” an egg in the microwave. (Break an egg into a greased, microwave-safe cereal-sized bowl. With a fork, poke the egg white all over several times and the yolk once. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for one minute. Let sit one minute. Remove wrap, tip egg onto cutting board and chop)
Next: A large bowl comes out of the cupboard (nearly done now–pretty quick!) and I line it with
4 cups of mixed greens topped with the steak, 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, the chopped egg, 1/4 cucumber, chopped, 2 green onions, chopped, 1 carrot, sliced, 1 stalk celery, sliced, 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, 1/2 each yellow and red pepper sliced, and whatever other vegetables I can find–including a beautiful warm summer tomato (don’t refrigerate them ever) and even a little leftover grilled sweet corn.
When the chips are done, I put them around the outside of the salad bowl.
A half-lemon is located and squeezed over the entire salad. Salt and pepper are next. I’m generous, but don’t go overboard. After all, the salad will be dressed with real mayonnaise, right?
I slip a few pieces of baguette under the broiler. (brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper)
And dinner is served:
|I serve the mayonnaise separately; no need to over-dress this lovely bowl of goodness.
This process made enough for Dave and me. He ate two servings; I ate one. So I’d say this was about 3 servings!
two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood
I’m tired of the daytime heat. Like the whole rest of the country, I guess. Storms often arrive late afternoon or early evening. Things blow and go; little rain arrives, though when it does, it’s incredibly forceful. I water everything daily. A beautiful part of near-mountain living is the coolness of the evening and night. While we resort to air conditioning during the day, in the evening after suppertime it’s turned off and the windows are thrown open wide to welcome the sweet breeze. All night long the air graces our rooms unlike the midwest where the heat lingers heavily.
My favorite breakfast these days…when I’m not having yogurt and berries:
|On the dinnerplace blog now: Egg+Egg White Omelet filled with Nonfat Cottage Cheese on WW Toast|
If I don’t get out early to walk the doggies (by 7:30), and sometimes even if I do, I later get in a power walk on youtube. Sometimes two! There are several walks from which to choose–3 minute for a desk break, 5 minute, 2 mile, etc. They are easy to fit into the day and I often stick up the laptop (with the walking video on and the sound off) next to the tv when a favorite show is on. I do the walk/exercise and watch Ina all at the same time.
I’m working on the soups for the cookbook almost daily. Once I develop a recipe, it must be tested several times and then I pass it on to someone else for testing. Does it work when someone else makes it? I’ve now made posole several times, shall we say. (I think I’ve got it down.) My dear friend, sommelier Drew Robinson, was to come today to taste three of the soups (and one secret very-fast dessert) in order to begin the process of pairing. Long ago, at some far-away dinner with our wine group, Drew let it be known he would provide the wine pairings for a cookbook I would someday write. Not sure either one of us believed it would ever happen, but it’s happening! Anyway, Drew forgot he has another wine-tasting tonight and we’re rescheduling. I am a bit relieved because as much as I love my new posole recipe, I’m ready for something else to eat. The next soups are a quick vegetarian bean and a cold avocado. As the book will not have photographs, I keep forgetting to take pictures….I must do it!
I play inside with Miss Gab in the afternoons for a few minutes–too hot for her to run outdoors.
|You’re throwing the ball, right?|
We’ve had plenty of time to visit with old friends and worship at First Congregational…one of my very favorite churches anywhere. Last Sunday, the ample sanctuary was filled to capacity. Nothing special occuring…and it was summer when a lot of churches are fairly empty. Why is FCC so full? While I might not be qualified to say why, I do know these things: there’s a bow toward tradition…while embracing the new. All are truly welcome and these folks are joyful; what more could you want? Except that when the table is laid and communion is about to begin, these words are said, “Come, all things are ready.” Such a breathing place.
|off to a beer festival…|
and lunches/shopping trips in the middle of the day:
Trip to Toys r Us: expensive
Smile on grandson’s face: priceless
Sing a new song,