These originally started as corn fritters and kind of morphed from there. I made these for picnic of dietetic students this last weekend. I was assigned to make an appetizer for the potluck and was intrigued by the idea of a corn fritter and hush puppies recipe I saw in an old cookbook. They obviously wouldn’t work for this exact occasion (they need to be hot, and I wasn’t really cooking for a fried food audience), but they got me thinking about flavors and ingredients….
This was a before-book club dinner that David and I had last week. We’re usually late eaters (like 9 or 10-o’clock at night), so getting out the door for a 7:30 book club meant very little time for prep, and even less time for cooking. It was a Tuesday, so the farmer’s market at Copley Square was open, and I stopped by after my last class. I picked up some cute small tomatoes and a 4-oz. container of goat cheese. The basil came from the plant I have growing in a pot on the window sill. This was quick & easy and fit the bill perfectly. Even when I have to eat or cook in a short amount of time, having a hot meal still makes it feel like a nice dinner….
On to the second week of school, and I had to give an in-class presentation worth 25% of my total grade. Oof. And then head to Joslin for a few hours of data analysis. And then head home and make… a tart dough. Uff da. But I’m the kind of person who volunteers to go first for these kind of projects (now I don’t have to worry about it again).
And the crust was a press-in.
As delicious as the swordfish was, it’s expensive and it doesn’t usually find its way into my cooking repertoire. My usual seafood picks are salmon and shrimp. While those are great choices (and there will be plenty of posts with recipes), I was also curious to branch out and try something new. There’s been a lot of buzz recently in some dietitian circles about the high cost of eating well, in particular, eating seafood. Anchovies are usually touted as a good choice to fit the bill. I made my first foray into the world of these hairy little things last week with the Nicoise salad, but what really motivated me to get going on this ingredient was a recipe I saw in Domencia Marchetti’s The Glorious Pasta of Italy cookbook.
I can’t remember the last time I bought a cookbook at full price – especially on a student’s budget and with Border’s going-out-of-business sale going on – but I picked this one up, sans discount or coupon, when I saw it at a boutique store in the neighborhood. Part of what attracted me to it was it’s accessible-looking penne and pepper dish in an anchovy sauce….
The new semester started this week, and this was the last dinner I cooked over my summer vacation. It was delicious, but was pretty involved. It really felt like I spent all day in the kitchen cooking in order to prep all the various ingredients and wait for the salad flavors to blend (it needs 4 hours of refrigeration before eating). I was excited to make it because I’m starting to experiment with anchovies, an ingredient I’ve never used before. Although all this work was worth it, I might stick to ordering this in restaurants next time….
One of things that is sometimes hard when you blog what you cook is the fact that you have to snap a few photos of the finished project before digging in. Sometimes this doesn’t happen, and the post gets lost altogether, which is what happened last weekend when it was dark and stormy in Boston and I made the Cook’s Illustrated version of Pad Thai. Today I made these goat cheese and roasted figs on baguette, drizzled with a port wine reduction. It was a light and quick lunch, and I really couldn’t spend the time getting the just-so photos because the food was hot, and it looked delicious, and it needed to be eaten….
Leftover ingredients can sometimes take you to an unexpected dish. I already had pancetta on hand, and a bunch of chives were starting to go bad in the fridge. Based on this pairing, I searched the web for a recipe that would help me use up a lot the chives before they went to waste, and I found this dish. Despite trying to use up the food I already had in my fridge, I brought home nearly a pound of swordfish.
The recipe is called oil-poached swordfish, which makes little sense to me. Poaching involves using a moderately low temperature “bath” to cook delicate meats like fish. The original recipe called for a lot of oil (4 cups!) – although the fish won’t absorb all that oil (over 7,000 calories), it will absorb some. I made a couple of changes to this recipe to simplify it, starting with searing and pan-frying the swordfish. Swordfish is a meaty fish, and it doesn’t need the delicate treatment of poaching. I’m also a fan of using (and washing) as few dishes as possible, so instead of making a chive oil suspension, I muddled the herbs in the oil for a chunkier dressing.
This is by no means an attempt to be a real Cuban sandwich. A Google search demonstrated how thorough and particular Cubano aficionados are, and this definitely doesn’t fit the bill, but, the flavors of the Cuban sandwich are so tempting that I riffed on their main ideas and incorporated some key ingredients into a quick and easy quesadilla. I’m a huge fan of dill pickles, which are diced up and studded amongst melted cheese. A-mazing. …
I get a lot of e-mails with misguided questions: Yesterday I heard from a woman who thinks she needs to eat 1 raw mushroom and 1 raw slice of onion every day as part of a new diet — no cooking allowed. Last week I received an e-mail about the right way to get grocery store tomatoes more ripe; she thought she was storing them wrong because they always looked white and grainy when she sliced them and tasted like cardboard (rather than because they were bred for cross-country or international travel, not flavor).
Pork chops aren’t something I make very often, but these showed up in the “take-home” fridge at the office, so I thought I’d give them a try. They’re thick, bone-in chops, so the cooking time was a bit longer than if you use boneless chops, but the salsa would work well on either. Pork traditionally pairs well with fruit, and this white peach salsa was delicious.
I used a grill pan to cook the chops, as having a real out-in-the-backyard grill is a bit out of reach for apartment-dwellers, and it worked great. Pan-frying pork chops in just a little bit of oil would work well, too. I used an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temp of the meat while cooking. When it reaches 145-degrees, it’s safe to take off the heat. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes under a foil tent — this helps with the chop’s juiciness, and the internal temp of the meat will continue to rise to about 150-degrees.
Using a meat thermometer is the best way to ensure chops aren’t over- or under-done. Because people are so concerned about under-cooking pork, tough, chewy overdone chops are a frequent reality. Unfortunately, many companies now sell “enhanced” pork products to help keep them juicy even when overcooked. This basically means injecting the chops with a salt water mixture, which adds a hefty dose of sodium to what would otherwise be a nice cut of meat. If you do buy pork chops, check the ingredients list to see what’s included: it shouldn’t be more than just pork.
Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Salsa
Adapted from epicurious.com
– 3 white peaches, firm and ripe, pitted and chopped
– 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
– 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
– 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
– Salt and pepper, to season
– 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or cooking spray
– 2 pork chops,bone-in, about 1 1/2-inch thick
– 3 Tablespoons whole cumin seeds
– 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1. To make the salsa, gently combine the peaches, shallot, lime juice, and cilantro together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Preheat the grill pan by turning the heat to medium-highand coat the pan lightly with oil. If not using a grill pan, pan-fry the pork chops in a skillet (if cast iron, preheat well, if nonstick, do not preheat as long — don’t let the oil smoke).
3. Meanwhile, crush the cumin seeds to coat the pork chops. Gently spread the seeds on a cutting board in a small pile. Using the bottom of a heavy pan or skillet, press down and grind by slightly rocking the pan you as you push downwards. Continue crushing until the cumin seeds become fragrant and roughly cracked. Using your hands, rub each pork chop thoroughly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and coat with the cumin seeds. Press the coating into the chops to make it stick.
4. Cook the pork chops: When the pan is hot, add the chops and sear each side, about 4 minutes on each side (it should make some noise when you add the chops to the pan). Turn the heat to medium and continue cooking the chops, about 12 to 15 minutes, flipping as needed, until a meat thermometer reads 145-degrees.
5. Transfer the chops to a plate, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer the pork chops to dinner plate and top generously with the peach salsa.