Archive for the ‘Entrees’ Category

Asian Chicken Noodle Bowl

April 21, 2013

Spring seems to be on hold in Central Virginia, in the temperature department if not in the pollen department.  There’s enough chill in the air to warrant making soup and I had leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge.  A match made in heaven.  The varieties of chicken soup are endless and a promising recipe popped up in the May issue of Cooking Light.  Dinner done.

Asian Noodle Bowl

I mostly followed the recipe tonight except that for a few changes made in the interest of making things as easy as possible.  In that vein I used leftover rotisserie chicken; I bought pre-sliced mushrooms; I used jarred minced ginger; I added the sauteed aromatics to the soup instead of discarding them; and I cooked the pasta in the stock rather than bothering with a separate pot.  I recommend using all the short cuts you can.  The soup doesn’t suffer at all from them.

The flavors here are pretty complex for a soup.  It’s earthy and green and hot and sweet and salty.  The recipe calls it “kid-friendly,” but I’m not sure that’s the case.  There’s enough red pepper that the heat might be a problem for a lot of kids.  And I don’t know how your kids feel about mushrooms, but I don’t recall being excited about them until I was well beyond kid-hood.

This soup has taken the edge off of the chilly evening and taken chicken noodle soup to a whole new level.  I enjoyed every slurpy bite and drank the last of the broth right out of the bowl!

Good?  Very good.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? Good for comfort, not company
Special shopping? Nope.

Asian Chicken Noodle Bowl

Ingredients

4 ounces uncooked linguine
2 C chopped cooked chicken
1 t oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 cup water
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 1/4 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup sugar snap peas, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces (about 4 ounces)
6 green onions, cut diagonally
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Heat chicken stock in a soup pot.

Heat pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 tablespoon garlic, and red pepper; cook 4 minutes. Add 1/2 C water; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add to stock pot. Bring to a boil.

Add pasta to stock and cook to nearly al dente.

While the pasta cooks heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; cook 6 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon ginger and 1 tablespoon garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add mushroom mixture, chicken, soy sauce, and sugar to stock mixture; bring to a simmer.

Stir in sugar snap peas; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in green onions and salt.

Pearled Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Feta and Chicken

April 18, 2013

The April book club meeting provided a little interruption in taco week.  Tacos don’t travel that well so I opted for a salad instead.  I needed a main dish salad so something with protein and substance to it.  I bought some pearled barley ages ago and never got around to making the barley and mushroom soup for which it was intended so it became my salad.  And it’s a pretty good salad.

Pearled Barley Salad

Of course I made a few changes to the recipe.  I added some rotisserie chicken to give it a little bulk.  I left out the basil because fresh basil and feta don’t excite me when you put them together.  I made the dressing mostly as instructed, but with slightly less oil.  Next time I’d probably replace the feta with mozzarella.  The tang of the feta kind of fights with the honey vinegar dressing.  This would be good too without the chicken, but with a bunch of summer vegetables added in – peppers, squash, snow peas.  A little extra sweetness and crunch would be a nice addition.

An important note if you decide to make this.  Read the recipe all the way to the end.  It comes together really quickly and easily, but if you’ve never made pearled barley before you might not know how much time to allow for that.  You have to soak it an hour before you start to cook it.  And then it cooks about 20 minutes.  And then it has to cool to room temperature.  It’s a process.  I’d do that part the day before if you can.  Another note – you’ll almost never hear me say this, but use commercial stock.  You cook barley like pasta in that once it’s done you drain it.  Don’t use stock that you’d hate to pour down the sink.

Book club did a fine job making their way through this. I had enough leftover for a good lunch today.  This is a salad with a lot of possibilities.  The barley is chewy and nutty and good.  The dressing is light and sweet and tangy.  The tomatoes add a nice fresh flavor and the green onions add a little sharpness.  I have a feeling that some variation on this theme will be making an appearance at summer cookouts this year!

Good? Good.
Easy? Easy. But a little long.
Good for company? Worked for book club!
Special shopping? Nope.

Pearled Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Feta and Chicken

Ingredients

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups barley
2 C diced rotisserie chicken
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped green onions

Directions

Rinse barley, and place in a small bowl. Cover with water by about two inches, and let soak for about an hour. Drain.

Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan. Stir in barley, reduce heat, cover, and boil until tender but still firm to bite, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large wide bowl, tossing frequently until cool.

Mix tomatoes, chicken, feta, and green onions into barley. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve at room temperature.

Potato, Poblano and Chorizo Tacos

April 16, 2013

It’s installment two in Taco Week!  We’ll call this taco crack.  Serious awesomeness.  I don’t know any other way to describe it.

I have no idea what qualifies this for inclusion in Cooking Light, but I’m awfully glad it’s there.  It feels pretty sophisticated for tacos.  Roasted poblano peppers, local chorizo, charred tortillas.  Fancy.  But before we get too far above ourselves let me point out that this is hash.  Plain and simple.  Potatoes, vegetables and meat all cooked together.  It’s hash.  And it’s amazing.

Chorizo tacos

Let me start with what I left out or substituted.  I left out the corn.  The sweetness would be a fantastic addition, but I really think you need fresh kernels and it’s nowhere near corn season in Central Virginia right now.  There’s corn in the stores, but I’m holding out for the local stuff.  I left out the lime wedges, which would also have been great, but I was starving by the time I got this made so I just didn’t get around to the lime wedges.  I substituted freshly shaved parmesan for the manchego because that’s what I had.  I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock because I had some in the fridge.  I don’t think the recipe suffered at all.  I’ll finish the ingredients portion with a big kudos to Sausage Craft.  I used their chorizo, removed from the casing.  It’s spicy, but not too hot and has an amazing flavor.  Another winner from Sausage Craft.

To make this a little easier on myself I chopped the onion and roasted the pepper last night.  It saved a little prep time tonight.  Using pre-minced garlic would shave a minute or two off as well.  Other than that this is pretty quick and pretty straightforward.  I used a big cast iron skillet, which I generally recommend.  It heats evenly and holds the heat really well.  I’ve found that the top from my large chef’s pan fits the skillet well, but since you only have to cover this partially you can use a dinner plate or whatever top you can find.  Nothing special about the prep.

This is a terrific taco filling.  Really terrific.  This has football season taco bar written all over it.  It would also be great for brunch with an over easy egg on top.  Or great lunch food served on lettuce.  Or great hangover food served with a Bloody Mary, Mimosa or beer on the side – I assume.  (My mom reads this).  Truly I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow when it’s time to eat the leftovers!

Good? So far beyond good!
Easy? Yep, it’s hash. Just really good hash.
Good for company? You’ll be the hit of the brunch crowd.
Special shopping? Chorizo might not be available in your regular grocery. Check a farmers’ market (my preference) or a specialty store or a Latino market.

Potato, Poblano and Chorizo Tacos

Ingredients

2 poblano chiles
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups diced white potato
1 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces Mexican raw chorizo, casings removed
3/4 cup unsalted vegetable stock
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 ounce parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)

Directions

1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Cut poblanos in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place poblano halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil for 8 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel; coarsely chop.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add potato; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove potato; place in a large bowl. Add onion to pan; cook 3 minutes. Add poblano, red pepper, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion mixture to potato. Add chorizo to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Return potato mixture to pan. Stir in stock and salt; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until potato is tender, chorizo is done, and liquid almost evaporates.
4. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, heat tortillas over medium-high heat directly on the eye of a burner for about 15 seconds on each side or until lightly charred. Arrange about 1/3 cup potato mixture in center of each tortilla; top with 1 1/2 teaspoons onions and 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese.

Grilled Mahi Tacos

April 14, 2013

It’s been a busy weekend.  Yesterday I ran my first 10K (yay!).  Today I finished the mowing, tilling and edging in the yard.  Then a very successful shopping trip.  I rounded out the day with a Harpoon Summer Ale and a little grilling.  This month’s Cooking Light has a feature on tacos so it’s taco week at my house.  Fish tacos are my favorite so I started with those.  Easy, light, awesome!

Grilled Mahi Grilled Mahi Tacos

You don’t really need a recipe for fish tacos though there are some good ones out there.  If you start with good fish (and you should) I recommend doing as little as possible to it.  I had a 1.5 pound mahi filet that I dressed with a little olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper and lime juice.  No need for anything else.  Just don’t leave the lime juice on too long.  It “cooks” the fish as it sits.  Heat the grill until it’s very hot then grill the fish 4-5 minutes on each side.  Much less if your fish is thin.  That’s it for the fish.

I dress my fish tacos with slaw, avocado, cilantro and lime juice.  Yum!  Many recipes you’ll find for fish tacos call for cabbage and some kind of cream.  Since my slaw is just cabbage, Duke’s mayo, salt and pepper I use that rather than making a crema.  (That way I have slaw left for hot dogs too).  I use corn tortillas because I prefer them.  I heat them slightly in a dry cast iron skillet.  You could do the same by putting them on the hot grill for a few seconds.  It makes them soft enough to make them pliable.  If you leave them too long they’ll start to crisp.  That’s fine if you’re making fish tostados, but not so great for tacos.

This is one of my favorite meals.  It’s everything that’s wonderful about Summer.  Light and yummy and bright and creamy and filling.  Put a beer on the side and it’s pretty hard to beat!

Good? So good.
Easy? So easy you don’t need a recipe.
Good for company? Not many folks will turn down fish tacos.
Special shopping? Nope, just get good fish.

Pesto Pasta Frittata

April 7, 2013

Welcome Spring!  Today was the first real Spring day in Central Virginia.  I spent most of it knee deep in Spring chores:  dealing with the storm windows, cleaning the ceiling fans; tilling and weeding the garden.  No energy left for a trip to the grocery store.  So tonight’s dinner was kind of a “smoke ’em if ya’ got ’em” affair.  Pretty much everything is on the menu because I had it –  leftover, already thawed or on its last decent day.  And you know what?  It was a very good dinner.  I got to use the grill and everything!

The feature for tonight is the frittata.  I grilled a London Broil and sauteed some spinach to round things out.  I made the London Broil plain to make it as versatile as possible.  You’ll be seeing it for the rest of the week so stay tuned!

Pesto Pasta Frittata P1010125

A few days ago I made some whole wheat spaghetti with pesto sauce from my Summer 2011 garden.  If I was going to avoid tossing it in the trash I had to do something with it.  And I had some mascarpone and mozzarella leftover from the pizza triumph of last night.  When I looked in the vegetable drawer I discovered some forgotten parsley too.  This recipe let me use all of the above plus a bunch of eggs and some of my quart of milk that I too often end up dumping down the sink.  In case it hasn’t dawned on you yet what we’re really talking about here is little quiche muffins with pasta instead of crust. 

The original recipe calls for prosciutto (didn’t have any), cream (didn’t have any) and grated Asiago (used parmigiano instead).  I also cut the eggs from 7 to 6.  Seven eggs just seemed excessive.  The frittata muffins set up just fine so no loss there.  The original recipe called for plain pasta,  but the pesto more than made up for the absent prosciutto.  Good news for the vegetarians out there!

These are really easy.  The recipe makes a dozen.  Good for any meal.  My plan is to have them for breakfast all week.  Hard to beat them for protein, a few carbs, easy to heat and eat.  You can put pretty much anything in them.  I do recommend keeping the amounts of the basic ingredients the same so you’ll be confident that they’ll set up like they’re supposed to.  Other than that have fun with them!  Add some chicken and broccoli to leftover fettuccine alfredo.  Add some peppers and onions to leftover pasta marinara.  Add a little ham or bacon to leftover macaroni and cheese.  Yum!

Good? Really good.
Easy? Really easy.
Good for company? A terrific brunch option.
Special shopping? Definitely not.

Pesto Pasta Frittata

Ingredients

Cooked spaghetti cut into 2-3 inch segments, enough to measure 3 C
Pesto sauce to taste
6 eggs
1/3 C mascarpone cheese
1 C diced mozzarella
1/4 C grated parmigiana cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 T chopped parsley
3/4 t salt
3/4 t pepper
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the muffin tin.

In a blender combine the eggs, milk, cream, and mascarpone cheese. Blend until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Mix the hot pasta with the pesto sauce. Add the cut pasta, mozzarella cheese, Parmigiana cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir until the ingredients are combined.

Using a 1/3 cup measure, fill each of the muffin cups until both the pasta and liquid are at the top. Bake until firm and cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes before removing from the tin.

Three Cheese and Spinach White Pizza

April 6, 2013

It’s been a crazy few weeks.  It’s not that I haven’t cooked at all, though it hasn’t been a lot, it’s that I haven’t made anything exciting enough to warrant taking the time to write about it.  You’ve really only missed Green Chicken Chili and Shrimp and Grits, both of which I’ve made before in some variety.  I don’t always post when I make pizza either, especially if I don’t make the dough, but I’m making an exception tonight.  This is one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten and certainly the best pizza I’ve ever made.  Sadly I managed to delete the photos after I’d already eaten the whole thing so you’ll just have to imagine it!

I haven’t done much meal planning lately so I have an odd, but wide, assortment of food stuffs in the kitchen.  I had a big clamshell of fresh spinach that really needed to find a use sooner rather than later.   I had some reduced-fat feta and a tub of mascarpone.  I had a package of naan.  Throw in some olive oil, garlic and mozzarella and you have yourself a pizza.  A really, really good pizza.  Mascarpone is essentially Italian cream cheese.  It’s softer and creamier than what we in the US call cream cheese.  It also has a much more neutral flavor.  That makes it a terrific base for a white pizza.  It doesn’t take much.  Just spread a thin layer on the naan and add some sliced garlic.  The feta adds a briny flavor that you really need.  Artichoke hearts or capers or hearts of palm would do the same.  The spinach adds a little bulk and a green flavor that’s great with the feta. Finally, the mozzarella makes in feel like pizza and it holds the spinach on.

A few tips.  It’s easiest to slice garlic cloves thinly if they’re slightly (or completely) frozen.  They’ll thaw and mellow in the baking process.  Julienne (cut into strips) the spinach leaves.  It doesn’t have to be super thin, but cutting the spinach allows you to really pile it on.  It also makes the pizza easier to eat.  If you use whole spinach leaves you’re apt to drag them off, along with all the cheese, as you take a bite. Cube the mozzarella.  It will melt more quickly and spread more evenly than slices and it will melt down into the spinach better than the shredded kind.  Besides, fresh mozzarella just tastes better.  Lastly, drizzle just a little olive oil over the top when your pizza is all assembled.  It will help wilt the spinach that’s not covered by cheese.

What you end up with is an airy dough with crispy edges thanks to the naan.  The mascarpone melts and mixes with the olive oil to make a creamy sauce.  The feta, spinach and mozzarella make a perfectly balanced pizza topping.  The only thing I might add is a few turns from the pepper grinder for a little sharpness.  My only other advice is to make plenty and don’t count on leftovers!

Good? So, so amazingly good.
Easy? Fantastically easy.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Nope. I bought everything at a regular grocery.

Three Cheese and Spinach White Pizza

Ingredients

1 round of plain naan
2 T good olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 T mascarpone cheese
2-3 T feta crumbles
1 C fresh julienned spinach leaves
1-2 oz fresh mozzarella, diced

Directions

Drizzle 1 T olive oil and spread mascarpone over naan. Distribute garlic slices evenly. SPrinkle feta around the pizza. Pile spinach in the middle leaving about 1 inch around the edges. Place mozzarella on top of the spinach, distributed evenly.
Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until the mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Red Clam Sauce

March 18, 2013

Yet another cold and rainy Central Virginia day.  Seriously tired of this weather.  Since the weather was the same old, same old I decided that dinner needed to be something new and exciting.  I took a package of uncooked sausage stuffed banana peppers out of the storage freezer a couple of days ago and they were exactly the right thing to start with.  A little reminder of Summer as the peppers came out of my very own garden.  I needed something more interesting than marinara for these.  I decided to try them with red clam sauce, a new sauce for me as I prefer the white, which would have been awesome on these too.  You might be interested to know that “sausage stuffed peppers” is the most searched phrase on this blog.  I’m hoping you’ll like this one as much as I did!

Red Clam Sauce Stuffed Peppers and Clam Sauce

There’s nothing to the peppers except to halve them (or not); take the veins and seeds out and pack them with raw sausage.  This is a mild italian sausage from Faith Farm.  Banana peppers are so mild that you’d lose them completely with anything stronger.  I used my Food Saver to vacuum seal these and they’ve been in the freezer since August 2011.  I’ll say this for the Food Saver – it really works!  Not a  bit of freezer burn on these.

The sauce is easy too.  Since the real focus of this dish is the peppers I didn’t bother to use fresh clams.  The canned ones work just fine here.  I sliced the garlic instead of mincing it.  Bigger pieces seemed better.   I added some chopped onion, not called for in the recipe, because I don’t understand tomato sauces without onion.  If you’re like me and often burn the garlic (which then you have to throw out and start over because it’s so bitter), adding the onion helps prevent that too.  I used about four times the amount of fresh parsley.  With the salt in the clams and the sausage combined I thought some extra sweet, green-ness was in order.  Finally I added some extra crushed hot peppers because I like the heat.

So, how did it turn out?  It’s fantastic!  It’s bright and briny and green and wonderfully warm.  The flavors really balance each other nicely.  A tiny squeeze of lemon juice might be a nice addition.  I served it over a little orzo.  Nice time I might forego the pasta in favor of some crusty bread.  I also look forward to making these when I have fresh peppers on hand.  Having a little crunch left in the peppers will be a nice addition to an already yummy dish.  Bring on the Summer!

Good? So very good.  A perfect combination.
Easy? Absolutely.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Not at all.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Red Clam Sauce

Ingredients

6 large banana peppers, halved, seeds and veins removed
1/3-1/2 lb mild italian sausage

Two 10 oz cans whole clams
One 6 oz can chopped clams
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot peppers or more to taste
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes packed in juice, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
<h3<Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peppers:
Stuff each pepper half with enough sausage to just fill it. Place the peppers in an 8×8 glass baking dish. Set the peppers aside.

Sauce:
Drain the clams reserving 1/2 cup of their juice and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the reserved clam juice and tomatoes, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Cover, and lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cook for 15 minutes.  Stir the clams and parsley into the sauce.  Heat back to a simmer.

Pour half of the sauce over the peppers. Cover the dish lightly with foil. Bake 30-35 minutes. Serve over orzo or with crusty bread.

Freeze the remaining sauce for a future use.

Shrimp Arrabbiata

March 14, 2013

Got a late start on dinner tonight.  Part of the late start is because I went for a run in the sunny cold that brought on the need for a hot shower to clean up and warm up.  I decided to continue the warm up with dinner.  Frozen shrimp is a protein that thaws quickly so it’s an easy go to on nights like this.  An arrabiata is just a spicy tomato sauce so I pretty much always have the ingredients for that.  Jackpot.  I had all the stuff I needed for a yummy dinner.

Shrimp Arrabbiata

Believe it or not I made no substitutions tonight except for going the long way around when the recipe called for shortcuts.  The recipe called for pre-chopped onion and bottled minced garlic, but I chopped and minced myself.  It added about 5 minutes to the process.  Other than that I used dried basil from last summer’s garden; dried and ground hot peppers from the summer before; home canned tomatoes from two summers ago; and homemade fettuccine from two months ago.  I could hardly have asked for better ingredients, especially for such a simple dish where they really count.

This is so easy.  If you use shrimp that’s already peeled and deveined you’ll really cut down the prep time.  Next time I made this I’ll probably skip the step where you saute the shrimp first.  Since you boil this sauce until it thickens it seems to me that you could cook the shrimp in the boiling sauce.  It would add some nice flavor to the shrimp and save you a step.  Other than that your only adjustment is likely to be the amount of crushed hot peppers you add.  I added a little extra to continue my warming, but feel free to be conservative if you’re bothered by too much heat.

The next time you have guests unexpectedly or just want to have a few folks over on a week night keep this recipe handy.  It easy and so good and impressive enough to serve to company.  Enjoy!

Good?  Very good.
Easy? So, so easy.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Nope. Just start with good ingredients.

Shrimp Arrabbiata

Ingredients

6 ounces linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cupcchopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

Directions

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with salt; add shrimp to pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Transfer shrimp to a bowl. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan. Add onion, minced garlic, basil, and crushed red pepper to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or just until sauce begins to thicken. Return shrimp to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve over pasta.

Greek-Style Pork Chops

March 12, 2013

Busy day.  Not much time for cooking.  You know what that’s like.  I’m pretty proud of the fact that I remembered to take a couple of pork chops out of the freezer this morning so they’d be thawed in time for dinner.  Sadly I made no other plan for them.  Of course by the time I got home and walked the dog I was starving.  No patience for anything long or complicated.  This recipe seemed to fit the bill nicely.  A twenty minute marinade then five minutes on each side.  Heat up some collards from the freezer.  Dinner done.

Greek Pork Chops

This marinade is just oil, vinegar, garlic and herbs and not a lot of any of it.  It would have benefited from a little lemon juice.  Or maybe more than twenty minutes would have made a difference.  In any case I didn’t notice that this marinade added much flavor to the pork chops.    The garlic burned a little bit when I seared the pork so there was a touch of bitterness, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were going for.  Still, I started with really good pork chops so I enjoyed them very much.

Kudos to Ault’s Family Farm for the wonderful pork.  Let me stop here for a minute and bid the fondest of farewells to Ault’s Family Farm.  Those of you who shop at the South of the James Farmers’ market in Richmond, VA will know the Aults.  They’re wonderful, friendly people who tried to make a go of it as a small, chemical free, ecologically responsible farm.  I am sad to report that they were unable to make ends meet and have ceased their commercial farming.  I couldn’t have been more surprised to hear the news.  More than once I happily stood in line 15-20 minutes at the market to buy a few pork chops or a Boston butt from the Aults.  And my purchase always came with some lovely conversation and a smile.  So, thank you and best of luck to you Ault family!  I truly hope to see you at the market again.

Back to the recipe.  The recipe also includes a tomato, cucumber and onion salad as a side/garnish and a yogurt sauce.  I did make the yogurt sauce, but skipped the chopped salad in favor of the collards.  Not much to the yogurt sauce:  dill, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.  make this first so the flavors can blend while you marinate and cook the pork.  It’s yummy on the pork, but would be just as good on veggies, pita, crackers, etc.

In the end I had a lovely dinner.  I could probably have come up with this without a recipe, but on a busy day when reading is easier than thinking this will do just fine.

Good? Yes.
Easy? Definitely.
Good for company? Not so much.
Special shopping? Not at all.

Greek-Style Pork Chops

Ingredients

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut loin pork chops
1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided

Directions

Combine 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, oregano, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and garlic in a zip-top plastic bag. Add pork to bag, and seal. Marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature, turning after 10 minutes. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, yogurt, 1 tablespoon dill, and 1/2 of the salt, stirring well with a whisk. Cover and chill.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove pork from bag, and discard marinade. Sprinkle both sides of pork evenly with remaining salt. Add pork to pan, and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove pork from pan, and let stand for 2 minutes. Serve with yogurt.

Herbed Lamb Meatballs

March 10, 2013

The first day of Daylight Savings Time.  As much as I love having light a little later in the day I can’t get used to this happening in early March instead of in April.  I’m just not ready to lose an hour yet.  Seeing as how I’ve started the week an hour behind I’m trying to get ahead on the cooking for the week.  I’ve still got a freezer full of food in the basement so I started there and planned my meals for the week around the pound of ground lamb that I found.  I have 16 meatballs that will be popping up in various dishes this week.  Oddly enough I had leftover salad for dinner so I still don’t know whether or not these are good.  Stay tuned for the salads, pita sandwiches and pasta dishes to come.

Herbed Lamb Meatballs

I made a couple of adjustments to this recipe.  I added an egg, just because that’s what  do when I make meatballs.  The best part is that there was enough mint in the garden to use fresh instead of dried.  I have the most amazing spearmint in the herb garden.  People come from all over the neighborhood to pick it during the Summer.  There were jut a few springs big enough to clip, but that was enough.  One reminder, if a recipe calls for dried herbs and you use fresh you’ll need 2-3 times as much as the recipe calls for.  I made 2/3 of a recipe because I only had a pound of lamb and then I made the meatballs a touch larger than the recipe prescribes.  It was just easier.

For cooking the use of a broiler pan is good advice.  It’s nice to cook them so that the fat drips off.  I don’t have a broiler pan that fits in my countertop oven.  I’ve found that using a small roasting pan  or jellyroll pan with a cookie cooling rack in it works just great. 

I’ll reserve further evaluation of these until I’ve actually eaten a few.

Herbed Lamb Meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground lamb
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine all ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl, and stir well. Shape mixture into 16 meatballs. Place meatballs on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until meatballs are done.