22 July 2008

a short time out.

I should have posted this earlier... but things around these parts have been quite busy. So I am writing now to tell you that there will be a small pause in posting. My husband and I finally sold our house and are moving back to the home state of Nebraska. Which means the next few weeks are going to be filled with moving and cleaning and painting and such... oh, and a short little trip to Scandinavia with my dad and little sis. Plus, we have canceled the internet at home in the hopes of saving some cash-ola, which means all the photos on my computer and stranded there unless I can get it into work, which is difficult on crutches. Oh, yeah, did I mention that I am on crutches? A lovely stress fracture has decided to grace my shin and I am supposed to crutch around for two more weeks. Awesome.

So, dear friends, I will post when I can, but my guess is it won't be until our internet is turned on at the new house. So expect something new at the end of August. Maybe the awesome ribs I made for the 4th of July! I will have lots of time since I will be working from home. Hooray!

11 July 2008

celebration in a bowl.

It is time to celebrate, people. It has been a big week. We finally sold our house here in Minneapolis and we got approval on our house in Lincoln after 9 weeks of waiting. These things together than allowed me to quit my job. Hooray for the week! I am going to celebrate tonight with a big Juicy Lucy from The Nook and a Sam Adams with my dad. Things are happy.

For your celebration, I give you pasta salad.

Tuna and White Bean Pasta Salad

1/2 a box of curly pasta
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans white tuna
a small handful of capers
a handful of green beans cut into inch pieces
the juice of one lemon
a few glugs of good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta until almost al dente and then add the green beans. Cook together for a minute or two until the pasta is done and the beans are green and still crisp. Drain and move to a large bowl. Add the beans, tuna and capers. Squeeze on the lemon juice and pour on the olive oil. Mix and season.

Nice and simple.

07 July 2008

the chance meeting of me and a pork chop.

Hi. So I had written a lovely little post about these pork chops. Eloquent and witty and stuff. And then something happened and I lost the whole thing. And I don't want to write it anymore because I'm peeved. So I am giving you the recipes and a lovely photo and you will have to wait until next post for more words from me. I'm upset with the computer. I need to take a moment.

Try these pork chops. They are really yummy.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and SmittenKitchen

Serves 4

4 boneless center-cut pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (or a chunk of a nice italian loaf)
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites or one whole egg
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Lemon wedges

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.

3. Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.

4. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Season chops with pepper. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Transfer breaded chop to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 chops.

5. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chops registers 150 degrees, 17 to 25 minutes. Let rest on rack 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.

Garlic-y White beans and Spinach

1 can white beans
3-4 cloves of garlic, diced
a couple handfuls of spinach
lots of good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and lightly sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add white beans and heat through. Add spinach and toss until wilted. Finish with more olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

01 July 2008

garlic in its birthday suit.

I love the farmers market. It has brought so many new and yummy things into my life. Fresh things that you just can't find and any old supermarket. Things like green garlic. It wasn't until this year that I even new green garlic existed. I mean, I knew that garlic as we know it had to come from somewhere, but I never gave it a thought. I wish I had because green garlic is lots of fun. I wish it had come into my life sooner, but since I have it now, I am making the most of it. Mostly with this soup.

See, when I first read Orangette's blog about this soup, I kind of dismissed the part about the green garlic. I figured that if I wanted to make the soup, which I wasn't too hyped up on, then I could just use regular garlic. But then the farmers market intervened... there, at the lovely Loon Organics stand was a huge pile of green garlic. So I bought some and went about making the soup. And it is amazing. So I went back the next week and bought double the amount... and made double the soup. And this week I bought some more! But I still have some soup left since I made so much, so this batch is going into a green garlic soufflé!

It really is great stuff, people. If you have a farmers market near you, go and see if they have any left. It is nearing the end of its time, so you may have to wait until next year, but it is worth a shot. You might also want to ask for some garlic scapes... the flower stem that the garlic plant puts out. I just bought some on Saturday and they are going to be eaten soon. I'll let you know how that goes. Until then, here is the soup!

Spinach and Green Garlic Soup
adapted from Orangette

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ to ¾ lb. green garlic, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 qt. vegetable or mild chicken broth
8 to 10 oz. baby spinach leaves
3 Tbsp. crème fraîche

Warm the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the green garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is soft and translucent. Also, as the garlic cooks, you should notice that its scent changes from raw and sharp to sweeter and more mellow; that’s what you’re after. When the garlic is ready, add the stock, raise the heat a bit, and bring it to a boil. Then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Add the spinach, and immediately turn off the stove. Let it sit for 5 minutes – not too long, or the spinach will lose its color – and then, working in batches, purée the mixture in a blender, regular or immersion. The soup should be a rich shade of green and as smooth as you can get it.

Return the soup to the pot, and place it over low heat to rewarm gently. Add 1 Tbsp. crème fraîche and another pinch or two of salt. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Serve warm or hot, with a drizzle of olive oil or a dollop of crème fraîche, if you like.

Yield: 4 servings