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Monday, December 26, 2011

Recipe Review from 12/19/12

An odd week to be sure.  Andy's still getting twice daily dose of antibiotics for his laceration from the week before.  A daily dose of ear medicine, and we've done two ear cleanings now.  Med's must be working because this is the cleanest I've seen his ears since we adopted him in May!   Add in my book groups holiday outing, my snack day at work, and the Husband's office gift exchange (posting more on that later), it was also a long week. 

Merry Christmas!  Hope you had a decent weekend! I got to see the little nieces - Peanuts, both of them, and way to smart for their own good.  Love it!

Pork chops with Red-Eye Gravy and Grits  (Ckng Light Dec 2011)
The ingredient list looks daunting, but when prepared mise en place this truly is a snap to pull together.  I used pork cutlets because I had them in the freezer, regular cremini mushrooms (like I could find and "exotic mushroom blend" up here), and cider vinegar for the sherry vinegar.   I also used regular grits/polenta and not the quick cooking kind and just started them first.  They can easily sit while everything else comes together. I also added about 1/3 cup of Romano-Pecoricno cheese to the grits for a little flavor boost.   What can I say - I'll be making this dish again. 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut loin pork chops, trimmed (about 1/2 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 (4-ounce) package sliced exotic mushroom blend
1/4 cup Madeira wine or dry sherry
1/2 cup hot strong brewed coffee, divided
1/2 cup lower-sodium tomato juice
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
1/2 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1 tablespoon butter

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with 3/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add pork chops to pan, and cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove pork from pan; keep warm. Add shallots, thyme, and sliced mushrooms to pan; sauté for 4 minutes. Stir in wine, and cook 30 seconds, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 cup coffee, juice, vinegar, and red pepper. Bring to a simmer; cook for 3 minutes. Combine cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup coffee. Add cornstarch mixture to pan, stirring with a whisk; cook for 2 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently.

2. Bring 2 1/4 cups milk and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in grits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently with a whisk. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons milk and butter.

Robin Bashinsky, Cooking Light

Barley-Spiked Winter Veggie Casserole (The Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Judith Finlayson)
The author seems to have a tendency to make dishes more complicated.  I suspect it is flavor derived, to add depth to a dish, but really, in my humble opinion, the idea behind the slow cooker or crockpot is to make dinner easier.   Pre-cooking seems contradictory.  She also had a prevalence of "cook for 3 hours".  Ah, that limits me to the weekends?  So!  I simplified the recipe by just "dumping" the ingredients into the slow cooker and letting it do what it does best.  Cook.  This dish was...different.  In a good way... I think. 

A bit reminiscent of sauerkraut with the flavor of caraway seeds and the shredded celery root.  The barley really helped thicken this up by absorbing all the great juices from the leeks and parsnips.  It made for a very decent cold weather "casserole".   This made enough for 4 lunches for two people.  Perfect for this week!

1 large celery root
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup barley (whole, pot, pearled - doesn't matter)
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1.  In a large bowl, toss celery root and lemon juice

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add leeks, carrots and parsnips and cook, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic, caraway seeds, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add barley and toss until coated.  Add tomatoes with juice and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

3. Transfer vegetable mixture to stoneware.  Add celery root and stir well.  Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until vegetables and barley are tender.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

OR (My version) Dump and cook.   Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until vegetables and barley are tender.

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