Friday, February 11, 2011

She Bakes

I like checking out other food blogs.  This new one is full of promise and soon to be full of great recipes.  It is H's food blog, which she just started today.  Check it out.  But in case you forget, I will, from time to time, include links to special recipes or  other posts to her blog while at other times, you may see the same recipe on each blog because I'm not above poaching and just want to  have it in the mix here.  So here you go.  It is:

Pefectly Imperfect Bakes a Cake and Other Things

The address is:

Now while she does do more baking than me and also a good deal of excellent cooking, I am, usually against my will, the baker of most cakes around here (just so you know). 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl of Chili

We made this for Super Bowl Sunday last year. It was awesome. I didn’t have a dog in that fight, so we didn’t miss not tuning in and the game turned out to be just an excuse to fix some great game-day food. Though we still will be spending our day doing other things to the neglect of SB XLV, this year is a different story. I’ll simply suggest that you should go with some good Wisconsin Cheddar when making your ingredient selection for this Lombardelicious game-day dish. Don’t call me to tell me how much you enjoyed the dish or the game until Monday morning!

½ lb. dry pinto beans
½ lb. dry small red beans
3-4 dried California chiles
8-10 dried small red peppers such as Chile Japones or Chile de Arbol peppers
2 Tbsp. beef base
8 c. water

¾ lb. ground beef or turkey
1 tsp. canola oil (if using turkey)
1 medium yellow onion – finely diced
¼ c. masa de harina (corn flour)
½ c. water

1 8 oz. jar of medium salsa
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
¼ c. barbecue sauce
3 Tbsp. prepared chili powder
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
½ Tbsp. smoked paprika
½ Tbsp. fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
8 oz. cheddar or pepper-jack cheese
Sour cream

The Method
Place water, beef base, dried beans and chilies in pressure cooker and cook according to your devices instructions for dry beans.

Add onions and ground beef or turkey to frying pan over medium heat and cook until meat is lightly browned. If using ground beef, remove excess fat. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix masa powder with ½ c. water prior to adding to cooker.

After beans and chiles have finished cooking, add in meat, onions, masa mixture, salsa, tomato paste, barbecue sauce, chili powder, garlic, salt, paprika pepper and cinnamon to cooker. Allow all ingredients to simmer together for an additional ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Serve and top with cheese and sour cream. Try not to eat too much.

Food for Thought
While this chili would not likely win any awards at the state fair or any chili cook-offs in the South due to the presence of the beans, which some chili purists feel don't belong in a serious chili, I was raised in a home where good beans were appreciated as a unique ingredient and not simply looked upon as a filler. And while it took me a while to acquire the taste for them, I definitely appreciate them now. As for the cinnamon, this is one ingredient you must not mistreat, either by omission or by using too liberally. But in the right amount, it adds something truly special to the gustatory landscape.

Recommended Sides: Cornbread or Tortilla Chips.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pork Loin Chops with Pan Sauce

Pork makes a great blank canvas.  This recipe is a great way to color it tasty.

For the chops
8-10 boneless thin cut top pork loin chops
2-4 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce 

For the rub
3 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried rosemary or (2 tsp. fresh rosemary finely chopped)
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. fresh ground mixed peppercorns
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

For the pan sauce
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. milk
Juice of 1 large orange
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp. coarse ground mustard
1 tsp. chicken base
Additional black pepper to taste

The Method
Mix salt, pepper, rosemary, granulated garlic, mixed peppercorns, lemon pepper, cayenne and paprika in a small bowl.  Apply mixture liberally to top of each chop.  In a large stainless steel frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp. canola oil over medium heat.  Place up to 4 chops at a time into pan with rub side down and season other side of each chop.  Add Worcestershire and soy sauce to pan.  Fry for 3 minutes or until nicely browned then flip each chop and fry additional 3 minutes or until browned.  Remove chops from pan and place each chop in a small pan lined with foil.  Add additional canola oil if needed and repeat until remainder of chops are finished.  Close foil over chops and place into 350-degree oven for 5-6 minutes. 

While pan is still hot, remove from heat and add water to deglaze the pan.  After allowing pan to cool briefly, add milk, orange juice, lemon juice, minced garlic, mustard and chicken base.  Whisk over medium heat.  then reduce to low heat.    

After 5-6 minutes, remove chops from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Remove chops from foil and plate.  Add additional juices from foil to pan sauce and stir briefly.  Additional black pepper may be added if desired.    

Serve chops with your choice of rice and drizzle pan sauce over chops and rice.  

Recommended sides:
Sauteed asparagus or steamed broccoli 

Food For Thought
A pan sauce like this is less viscous, less opaque and more concentrated than your garden variety gravy, which you could make from here by combining your sauce elements with additonal fats and starches.  Gravy certainly has a place on the table but sometimes you just want something that feels like it's not so bad for you.  This type of pan sauce may not pair as well with potatoes but is excellent over any type of rice or vegetable.

When frying or grilling meat, the real magic occurs when the meat begins to brown.  When amino acids undergo certain reactions, in the presence of reducing sugars, we get a range of golden brown chemical products which give cooked meats their delicious flavor.  These non-enzymatic reactions are called the Maillard reactions for the early 20th century French scientist Louis Camille Maillard, who first described these reactions while studying protein synthesis.  After your meat is finished, all of the bits of this and bits of that, along with the residual fat you started with, as well as those generated by the cooking process, and anything else you've added, are culinary magic waiting to happen.  Add some liquid to deglaze the pan, whisk it to loosen everything on the bottom of your pan, season to taste and you've got your self a very savory, sophisticated and delicious pan sauce.