Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fall supper

Tonight's Menu

  • pork chops with apples & onions
  • steamed potatoes with brown butter
  • green salad "bar"
It finally looks and feels like late fall around here, what with the brown leaves and the chilly dampness and whatnot. I am all about pork, onions and apples in the fall.

What I did was season some boneless pork chops with salt and pepper and then brown them in a skillet with just a wee bit of EVOO. I removed the chops and set them aside, then added sliced Granny Smith apples and onion slivers to the pan, tossing until they had picked up a bit of color. Then I poured in maybe half a cup of water (you could use cider, white wine, stock, whatever) and added some fresh thyme and thinly sliced fresh sage leaves. I laid the chops on top of the apple/onion mixture, covered the pan, and let everything simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. SO yummy!

For the potatoes, I cut some small red-skinned potatoes (you could use any waxy potato) into quarters and steamed them in the microwave. While they were steaming I put a couple of tablespoons of butter into a small pan on the stovetop over medium heat, swirling the pan every so often until the butter had melted and JUST started to turn a golden brown. You'll need to watch it really closely so the butter doesn't burn -- you want to catch it just at the point where it starts to turn golden. I sprinkled some chopped fresh parsley over the potatoes, drizzled them with the brown butter, sprinkled on some salt and then tossed everything to coat. These were really good and a nice change from our usual chuffed potatoes.

Tonight's salad bar was butter lettuce from the CSA, grated carrots, sliced cucumber and fresh snow peas. Easy!

Can you tell I'm making an effort to cook with more herbs from my herb garden lately? This time of year I tend to rely on rosemary and thyme exclusively, forgetting that I have a bunch of other stuff out there that isn't dead yet! The sage was a nice accompaniment to the apples, onions and pork; and the parsley really brightened up the potatoes. Now I need to find something to do with fennel tops -- mine are going nuts!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CSA day

Tonight's Menu

  • cold boiled shrimp
  • sauteed tatsoi with garlic
  • green salad "bar"
We've already discussed this shrimp, and the salad was just green leaf lettuce, grated carrots and sliced cucumbers, so let's get right to the tatsoi!

This stuff showed up in our CSA box today and it was a new one on me. I had never even HEARD of it before, much less cooked or eaten it. I googled for recipes and most of them featured Asian flavors, which wouldn't work for us due to DH and the girl child being violently allergic to soy. After manhandling the raw veg for a bit it seemed to me that this stuff was vaguely spinach-like, so I decided to season it the way I would spinach.

What I did was cut the tatsoi, stems and leaves, into maybe 3/4-inch pieces. Then I minced two huge cloves of garlic. I sauteed the tatsoi and garlic in a skillet with EVOO, seasoning with a tiny bit of lemon zest (from the first lemon off our "improved" Meyer lemon tree!), some crushed red pepper flakes, and a bit of kosher salt. I only sauteed it until the stem pieces were tender -- this did not take long at all. Then I served it up, and I'm here to tell you, it was goooood! The boy thought there was too much garlic, but I'm of the opinion that there's NO SUCH THING. The lemon zest gave it a bit of brightness and the pepper flakes added just the right amount of zing. Yum!

I LOVE it when my cooking experiments actually work out. It doesn't happen very often, you know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My favorite soup

Tonight's Menu

  • loaded potato soup
  • freshly baked bread
It's been chilly in the mornings here the past couple of weeks (finally!) and that means I'm craving comfort food!

I love, love, LOVE this potato soup. It's the only potato soup I make. I use full-fat dairy in this but you could lighten it up and even use turkey bacon if you like. It wouldn't be as GOOD, but whatever floats your boat!

The bread was just a boule from the book.

Perfect fall supper, if you count potatoes as a vegetable. Which I do.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Which is to say, no more OUTDOOR grilling

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled NY strip steaks
  • baked potatoes
  • green salad "bar"
Hey, I almost forgot I have this nifty IKEA grill pan thingie! So I can still grill SOME things; I just have to do it inside, on the stovetop.

These NY strip steaks were about an inch thick. I just seasoned both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, then popped them onto the grill pan for about 4 minutes per side. I let them rest for a good 5 minutes or so, tented with foil, to come up to medium rare before serving. Easy!

Potatoes were baked in the oven and served with butter, sour cream, shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon. Also easy!

Tonight's salad was green leaf lettuce with shredded carrots, sliced cucumber, and sliced radishes from the CSA. Easy some more!

Sometimes the simple things are best, yo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No more grilling

Tonight's Menu

  • roasted chicken thighs
  • buttered egg noodles
  • steamed broccoli
I hate the end of daylight saving time, y'all. HATE IT. Because that means it gets dark right around the time I'm starting to cook dinner, and I am not a big fan of grilling in the dark. Sure, we have floodlights out back and whatnot, but it's the PRINCIPLE of the thing. Grilling in the dark just feels WRONG. So while I far prefer my chicken grilled, this time of year roasting is where it's at.

So, all I did with these thighs (bone in, skin on, ten of 'em) was whomp them into a pan, sprinkle them with salt, pepper, snipped fresh rosemary and fresh thyme, then pop them in the oven at 450 degrees F for about 45 minutes to an hour. They came out crispy, juicy and delicious even though they weren't grilled.

Buttered egg noodles are pretty self explanatory, right? Just boil some noodles? And then drain them? And butter them? Yeah. Easy.

The broccoli was steamed in the microwave.

Super easy dinner, but DAMN I am going to miss grilling these next few months! Hello, it's still in the 70s and 80s here!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Pork roast redux

Tonight's Menu

  • BBQ pork sandwiches
  • tangy apple coleslaw
It was leftovers night here at Chez Badger, y'all. We have a TON of pork roast left from last night, so I took a bit of that, heated it in the microwave with some bottled Carolina-style barbecue sauce, and served it on buns with sliced onions. Yummy and fast!

The coleslaw recipe is here. I used savoy cabbage because that's what I had (half a head left over from last night's saute).

I probably should have rustled up some chips or pickles or something to go with this, but I couldn't be bothered. Leftovers night = lazy night, yo.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pork roast

Tonight's Menu

  • cider-braised pork roast
  • mashed potatoes
  • sauteed cabbage w/mustard
Oh, people. If you're wondering where I've been the past couple of weeks, I'll tell you: I've been hobbling around with a sprained ankle! It hasn't been much fun, to say the least. DH has been taking dinner duty while I've been recuperating, and while he certainly made a good effort, he ... well, he doesn't really cook. So, er, there hasn't been much to report as far as our dinners go. But FINALLY I'm off the crutches and able to be up and around long enough to cook a decent dinner, so that's what I did tonight!

The pork roast was a ginormous bone-in pork butt. You could also use shoulder or something of that nature -- basically a big ol' hunk of well-marbled pork. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and then browned it on the stovetop in an enameled cast-iron dutch oven. Once it was browned on all sides I took it off the heat, poured in a 12-ounce bottle of hard cider (Hornsby's Draft) and just a bit of water, then arranged the following around the roast: four big sprigs of fresh rosemary, several sprigs of fresh thyme, a couple of bay leaves (all from my herb garden), a chopped onion and a handful of whole peppercorns. Then I covered the pot and stuck the whole thing in the oven at 225 degrees F for about six hours. The house smelled AMAZING while it cooked and it was soooo tender!

When the roast was done I removed it from the pan (in pieces; it was falling apart!), shredded it and set it aside. Then I poured the pan juices through a mesh strainer to remove all the herbs and whatnot, poured the juices back into the dutch oven, and used flour to thicken it all into a delicious gravy on the stovetop. SO good! It didn't even need added seasoning thanks to all those herbs.

For the cabbage, I just chopped half a head of savoy cabbage (that's the crinkly one) into chunks, then sauteed it in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter until it was nice and wilted. Then I seasoned with salt and pepper and stirred in maybe a teaspoon of whole-grain mustard. Easy and delicious!

Okay, can we talk about mashed potatoes for a minute, y'all? Longtime readers know that I tend to skimp when it comes to this dish. I don't like the nasty powdered kind, but I LOVE Ore-Ida's frozen mashed potatoes that you heat in the microwave and then season to taste. Well, suddenly I can't find them anymore! All the store had this week were these new "steamers", which are just cubed, peeled potatoes that steam in a bag in the microwave. You still have to add milk, butter, seasonings, etc., and actually mash them yourself. I went ahead and bought them anyway, but it was hardly worth it. They were tasty, but didn't save me much in the way of work. I guess I'll be making mine from scratch from here on out. Curses!

Oh well, I guess I'll deal. I'm just SO GLAD to be back in the kitchen!