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Saturday
Jul232011

Pork chops with rhubarb-cherry sauce

This recipe has nothing to do with the fact that today is my birthday. It just happens to be the next recipe in line, so to speak. I suppose I could have made something up, like, I eat rhubarb and pork on my birthday every year. Hmm, that would be an unusual tradition. Actually, in case you are wondering, every year on my birthday my husband takes me out for a nice dinner. This year he has to work, so we are postponing it a few days. For the past few years, I have chosen Osaka as my birthday dinner spot, and I think I will choose it again this year. Mmm, can't wait for lobster, scallops, steak and fried rice! 

I cannot think of an appropriate transition from lobster back to rhubarb and pork, so I am declaring an abrupt change of subject!

I do have to say that this was a delightful little meal. I prepared it relatively quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

In a small bowl, combine:

1/2 cup dried cherries (as I was making it, I thought how fabulous it would be to replace these with chopped bing cherries)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup hot water

Let stand for 10 minutes to soften the cherries.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium-low heat.

Add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Add to the saucepan:

Cherry mixture

8-10 ounces rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)

3 tablespoons sugar

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the rhubarb has softened, 5 to 8 minutes.

Stir in a pinch of ground nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Generously season both sides of 4 pork loin chops (each 1/2-inch thick and 6-8 ounces) with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the pork (in 2 batches) until browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Serve topped with the warm sauce.

There is a quick little recipe for the snap peas you see in the photos that I will share. Perhaps tomorrow or the next day.

Till then! I must get on with turning 36 years old!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Jul202011

Lemon ice box pie

This is Week #29 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

 

I will admit that since starting this blog, I don't often make the same thing twice. If I do make something more than once, its status automatically becomes Excellent. This lemon pie? EXCELLENT. It is insanely delicious and will be made again and again in my kitchen. My husband and I each took a bite and simultaneously went, "Ohhhh! MMMmmm!" We agreed that it tastes like Key Lime Pie's first cousin, Key Lemon Pie. And then we fought over the rest of the piece.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Add to a food processor:

14 whole graham crackers, broken

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pulse until finely ground but not powdery.

Add 6 tablespoons of butter and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan and press into the bottom and two-thirds up the side. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

Two 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk

1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice

In another bowl, add:

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

8 large egg yolks

Using a handheld mixer, beat the zest-yolk mixture until pale.

Beat in the condensed milk mixture until smooth.

Pour the filling into the crust.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center jiggles slightly when the pie is moved.

Transfer the pan to a rack. Allow it to cool for 1 hour. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze the pie for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Wrap a warm, damp kitchen towel around the side of the springform pan to release the pie and remove the ring. Using a hot knife, slice the pie, transfer to plates and serve immediately.

Excellent excellent excellent!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Monday
Jul182011

Minted watermelon popsicles

This is Week #28 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

When I was in middle school, I can remember taking full advantage of the fruit trees we had in our yard (I haven't always lived in Minnesota). We had quite the selection. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, tangerines, tangelos. In addition to eating and drinking large quantities of fruit, I would often do things like put together an elaborate fruit juice stand or come up with a creative multi-fruit popsicle. I miss those fruit trees! Now all I have in my yard is snow for half the year and grass for the other half. 

When this recipe popped up, I was taken back to those days of abundant fruit. I felt like a kid again as I filled up the ice cube trays and eagerly waited for the popsicles to freeze.  

In a blender or food processor, add:

1 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon without the rind, cut into 1-inch dice (about 4 cups)

2 tablespoons sugar

Puree until smooth.

Stir in:

1/4 cup mint leaves, minced

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Pinch of salt

Pour the puree into 8 popsicle molds or 2 standard ice cube trays.

Freeze until hard, about three hours. Insert popsicle sticks after an hour and a half of freezing.

I had no idea that watermelon and mint were such a great duo! If our fruit tree haven would have included a garden with watermelons, I may have already known about this.

These popsicles are a refreshingly delicious treat in this heavy, humid heat we are experiencing right now. Which, by the way, I refuse to complain about. Remember that pile of snow? I will never complain about heat again, and I'm standing by that! Pant pant..

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Jul132011

Chipotle-mango bbq chicken

This week marks the first week in ages that I have felt like I could possibly still be a human being. Up until very recently, I've been going through the motions and doing only what absolutely needs to be accomplished. Or, accomplishing tasks that don't need to be accomplished, but forcing myself to do them. A lot has been piling up, both in my mind and on my list of tasks. A few days ago I caught myself thinking about completing tasks that were above and beyond the "bare minimum" level, and I squealed with delight. Is normalcy on the horizon? Could it be? Will I finally have the desire to fulfill the items on my to-do list, instead of forcing myself to do them? It makes me sad that I have lost, in a sense, half of my summer. But I refuse to dwell, and I will enjoy what is left.

Summery meals like this one are now fun to pull together. There is something to be said for enjoying summer. And food. And life.

I have been cooking with mangos more than usual lately. Perhaps I have been subconsciously wishing myself to a location where mangos are grown? At any rate, mangos are delicious. I treat every piece of mango flesh with utmost care. I don't waste a single morsel of the juicy fruit.

I had grilling, summer and mangos on the brain, and came across this delicious grilled chicken recipe from Guy Fieri. We added a quick salad to our plates, along with buttery grilled potatoes, and my desires were fulfilled.

To make the chicken..

Add the following ingredients to a food processor:

1 1/2 cups mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped

3/4 cup fresh cilantro (stems and all, not chopped)

2 chipotle peppers in adobo, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Puree until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Add 2 pounds of chicken thighs and drumsticks (bone-in and skin on) to a resealable plastic bag, along with half of the mango mixture. Massage to coat the chicken with the sauce. Refrigerate at least 6 hours to marinate.

Put the other half of the mango mixture into a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until thick, stirring often, about 15 minutes.

Set some of the simmered chipotle-mango sauce aside to serve on the side, and baste the chicken every few minutes with the rest of the sauce.

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and brush with canola oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade and put it on the grill.

Grill the chicken, turning and basting every 5 minutes until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the reserved mango sauce.

I love you, summer. And more than that, I love that I am finally loving you.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Sunday
Jul102011

Mixed-berry Dutch baby

This is Week #27 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

I was reluctant to turn on the oven for this recipe. It is finally hot outside, the kind of weather I adore, but I don't like using the oven unless necessary in these temps. Buuuuut I really wanted to make this. Our fridge is bursting with berries right now, and I was also very curious about the German pancake, also known as the Dutch Baby. I made this for myself for lunch, then dessert, then a snack, then dinner, but this would be an amazing recipe to make for a brunch. It has a definite breakfast-pancake flavor, but also would serve well as a light dessert.

I found myself stationed in front of the fridge, door open, about a dozen times that same day, cutting just one more slice to nibble on.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over moderate heat.

In a medium bowl, add:

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

Whisk until combined.

Add:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup milk

Whisk until the batter is completely smooth.

Gently stir 1 cup each of raspberries and blackberries (have another 1 cup of each on hand to serve it with) into the pancake batter.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the cast-iron skillet and add the berry pancake batter, gently spreading the fruit in the batter so that it is evenly distributed.

Bake the Dutch Baby in the center of the preheated oven for about 22 minutes (mine took more like 30-33 minutes), or until the edge is browned and puffed and the center of the pancake is lightly browned in spots. Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust the Dutch Baby with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Cut into wedges and serve immediately, with the remaining fresh raspberries and blackberries.

I'm troubled about the fact that I have lived almost 36 years of my life not having experienced a Dutch Baby. This was delicious! I am now enlightened in the realm of German pancakes.

And this was totally worth turning on the oven for in this summer heat.

Click here for a printable recipe!