In September as the peaches wane and the apples are just ripening, here in Colorado we have trees and trees full of plums. These aren’t the big old black, handful plums we see a bit later on, but rather are the small dark purple, firm-when-ripe Italian prune plums. While excellent for snacking, perhaps they’re even better for baking since they tend to hold their shape and aren’t overly sweet. You might think of plums as the fall bag-lunch fruit —and I do, too— but for the past few years I find I adore a beautiful plum tart or, in this case, crostata.Continue reading
Most months there are probably a couple of roast chickens on the menu at our house whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall. They may be slid unceremoniously onto the grill by husband Dave with only a fast slick of olive oil and a free-handed shower of salt and pepper (see below).Continue reading
There are simply days when it’s time to eat lightly or cut back a little. Even if you’re not on WW (Weight Watchers) or following some other sort of weight-loss program, a few bowls of colorful all-vegetable soup might be just what you need today or even exactly as the doctor ordered. (“Eat more fiber!”) Maybe you overdid it at the restaurant Saturday night or at the neighbor’s brunch on Sunday; you could have skipped your workouts last week. Whatever…I’m guessing this could be your soup this week–great for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.
I have made this easy potful for years and it’s even been blogged before. Today it was time to rewrite the recipe and add its second-day version (baked in a bowl with an egg in the middle!) right here in the same post.Continue reading
It’s all over but shouting. Hopefully you gave thanks with the best of them and enjoyed a feast fit for you. If the shouting turns out to be what goes on a day or two after Thanksgiving when you get on the scale, no worries. You’ll not eat like that again for…oh, probably a month. Meantime, you’re back to your regular life and my guess is those extra couple of ounces–ok, pounds–will jump right back off the scale in a few days. And if they don’t? Salad and soup for a week could fix it. So how about some soup?
If you’re lucky enough to have leftover steak, you’re lucky enough. At our house, red meat is well-loved, but kept in its healthy place. So we invest in a good quality product and eat it usually only once a week. If there’s a little left, and it’s steak, there’s usually a next day steak sandwich for my husband, Dave. Occasionally, though, there’s more than a little left and I make a steak salad or tacos for us both. Maybe steak and eggs if we’ve been really good. A tiny bite for the pups could be forthcoming, too.
The Colorado growing season is short, but mighty. We make up for the reduced length with the best and sweetest Olathe (pronounced: o-LAY-tha) sweet corn and toothsome, sticky-dripping Western Slope Palisade peaches. (Visit Colorado wine country, too, if you go to pick peaches.) Somewhere in there the Rocky Ford cantaloupes also ripen, the Pueblo green chiles are roasted on street corners–going into myriad pots of pork green chile or into the freezer for scrambled eggs at Christmas and Super Bowl snacks. (We eat a lot of New Mexican Hatch chiles, too, which come in somewhat milder versions.) If you’re really lucky, you even know someone who fly fishes and will bring back trout we smoke to last all winter long. (More on those last three another post.)
By the way, the Olathe Corn growers and the Palisade Peach producers each sponsor local festivals every summer and they’re coming right up:
Antipasti platter or, in Italian, un piatta di antipasti. A bit dear, but consummately satisfying for a special occasion.
Every year about this time, there’s a night when we have only wine, cheese, and fruit for dinner. We eat it in the cool basement on three trays–one for each and then the cheese platter between us on the third. An old movie plays on the tv. There’s not a salad or even a cooked vegetable and definitely not any sort of cooked meat. The wine is icy white or rosé. Sometimes even the grill feels too much to do or too hot to light.
I worked on a fresh pea clam chowder while I lived in the great city of St. Paul, Minnesota. There, on any given beautiful early spring Saturday, the St. Paul Farmer’s Market would proudly boast a gorgeous array of pea shoots and tendrils…and not long after that, the peas themselves. That soup ended up in my soup book, Soups & Sides for Every Season and is a favorite with or without the fresh peas! (Fresh peas are often available year round at Trader Joes, as well.)
|Fresh pea shoots–leaves, shoots, and tendrils from pea plants. Yummy greens.|
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. It should read 140 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.
Need an oven version that serves 4? Here’s something similar you might adapt: SPRUCE EATS PORK CHOP AND POTATO SHEET PAN MEAL
Sing a new song; cook some pork chops,
Could you make more of it? Certainly, cook on.
But if you’re in a hurry for a fast, healthy meal when it’s cold outside and you’ve got nothing ready, this is for you. Garnish it as you see fit and be happy in your tummy tonight. By the way, this makes a small batch. Make it twice if you need more!
Above: Meet Rosie! She sort of jumped in the car and came home with us from Pueblo last night. (Not really:) 13-week old Labradoodle, she slept throughout the night without crying. Of course she did steal Tucker’s bed — right next to our bed — to do it. About 1 am, he snuck into it with her. Otherwise Tuck’s nose is just a tish out of joint. Watch for Rosie’s upcoming adventures. P.S. Rosie is her litter name. We might rename her. Ideas for names for a very black, wiry-haired dog with a beautiful temperament and tons of patience for a pup would be entertained! Leave in comments or on my fb page.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH-BLACK BEAN SOUP IN THE MICROWAVE in 15 minutes
If you have a food processor, pulse the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and spices in the bowl fitted with the steel blade until finely minced. You could easily sub pumpkin for the butternut squash or cooked brown rice for the beans if that’s more appealing.
Makes 5-6 1-cup servings or 2 2 1/2-cup servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (needn’t be extra virgin)
- 3 each carrots and celery stalks, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon each: ground cumin, crushed red pepper and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon each: grated ginger and kosher salt
- 15-ounce can cooked, mashed butternut squash or a 12-ounce box of frozen mashed Winter Squash, or 2 cups pureed butternut squash
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 or 2 15-ounce can drained black beans or 2 -3 cups homemade black beans
- Sour cream, Greek yogurt, or a drizzle of cream for garnish, optional
In an 8-cup glass measuring cup or similarly-sized microwave-safe bowl, stir together the olive oil and minced carrots, celery, onion and garlic with the ginger, cumin, peppers, and salt. Cover* and microwave on full power for 2 minutes. Uncover, stir, and cook another minute or two until nearly tender.
Stir the squash and broth into the cooked vegetables and spices and mix well. Cover again and microwave on high 5 minutes.
Uncover carefully and stir in the black beans. (If you’d like, purée it before adding the beans using an immersion blender in the bowl or carefully in batches in the regular blender. Hold blender top down with a towel.) Cover a last time and microwave on high 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.** Serve hot with a drizzle of sour cream, yogurt, cream, or crushed tortilla chips for garnish, if desired.
*Plastic wrap works, but so will a microwave-safe dinner plate if it will fit in your microwave. Some of the newer 8-cup Pyrex glass measuring cups have their own lids.
**A little more ginger gives it quite the zing you might love. If you’re a zinger, that is.
I often sign my books, very truthfully:
Cook soup all year long for health, wealth, and happiness…
Sing a new song; love a new puppy,