Category Archives: PORK RECIPES

SAVORY BAKED PORK CHOPS

OK, something you should know about me. I used to kill pork chops. I could turn them into the driest, most unpalatable piece of meat anyone could ever imagine. And how did I do it? I totally overcooked the poor babies, that’s how! Oh they were seasoned beautifully and should have been great. But I’m from the generation that was taught to beware of under cooking pork. That tiny little off chance that the provider of the meat (that would be the pig) might have somehow contracted trichinosis. Well friends, trichinosis simply isn’t a major consideration any longer. So now that I have finally arrived in the 21st century, I too can turn out a mean pork chop. (And I mean mean in a good way!)

So the other evening as I was staring at two lovely, thick pork chops, I decided to bake them. But what was needed was some kind of flavor additive. And since I am really into smoked paprika right now, I decided to use it along with some of my other favorite ingredients to make a dry rub for the chops. The combination worked. And with a little help from my instant read food thermometer, I produced a couple of pork chops that were juicy, tender, and delicious. I am so proud of me!

So if you too have been butchering (figuratively speaking) pork chops to the point that your family runs and hides when they are being served, give this recipe a try. I promise if you start with a thick chop, dry rub it, and don’t bake it to extinction, your family will beg you to fix this easy recipe again. (BTW, brining works great too, but that’s a recipe for another time.)

  • cooking spray
  • 4 boneless pork chops, 1-inch thick (no thinner)
  • 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika

Lightly spray a shallow baking pan with cooking spray. Lay the pork chops in the pan. Pour the olive oil over the top of each pork chop. Rub the oil all over the chop with your fingers. Wash your hands.

In a small bowl mix the salt, a goodly amount of pepper, onion powder, granulated garlic, and smoked paprika together. Season both sides of the pork chop with the mix. Rub the mix into the chops with your fingers. Yes, wash your hands again!

Bake the chops in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until pork chops reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. No more! Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND TORTELLINI SOUP

I love fall! And do you know why? Because I love soup! (Not that I don’t build soup throughout the year, but there’s just something special about soup burbling on the stove while the wind and rain tear the leaves off of our trees and scatter them all over the yard.) What could be more exciting than that! (Some would say a trip to Italy or almost anything that doesn’t cause pain, loss of dignity, or the presence of mind not to inadvertently discard a winning lottery ticket.)

But for me, even the prepping of vegetables becomes a treat when I am inside warm and dry, while just outside my window Mother Nature is causing all kind of havoc in the yard. (Maybe I like fall so much because at least for a few months I don’t have to worry about Mr. C. mowing our vacant lot and working his fingers to the bone keeping the weeds at a reasonable level, and me spending countless hours watering! It really could be just as simple as that!)

But whatever the reason, soup in the fall is a must in my kitchen and hopefully also in yours. (And no, opening a can of chicken noodle soup and warming it on the stove just doesn’t cut it!) Real soup has that one ingredient that is missing from canned soup, well that and too much salt and all the ingredients listed on the can that are unpronounceable. Real soup has love mixed in during every step of the preparation. Plus, who in their right mind doesn’t relish walking into the kitchen and smelling soup simmering on the stove? Everyone loves good smells emanating from the kitchen. It just makes one feel loved and cared for. And homemade soup is one of the healthiest dishes you can feed your family. Without much trouble at all, you can tuck all kinds of nutritious ingredients into soup without any of your family suspecting your duplicity. (In this type of situation, I truly believe that duplicity is OK. Actually, it’s better than just OK. It’s almost mandatory to help keep you and your family healthy!)   

So when our dear fried Susan served us this soup after a band rehearsal that her husband Tim had called, we were in heaven. I liked the soup so much I immediately asked for the recipe. I made a couple of tiny changes, but then, that’s what I do. (I simply can’t help myself!)

I hope you fix this soup in the near future. It’s easy to prepare, relatively inexpensive, and absolutely perfect for a stormy fall or winter evening. Actually, it’s the perfect soup to serve after spending an afternoon raking leaves. (If that’s the case, I would also encourage that you bake up a batch of brownies as another surefire way of thanking your family for all their hard work!)

Speaking of thanks, thanks again Susie for this wonderful recipe.

  • 1 lb. bulk sweet (not hot) Italian sausage
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 med. sized green pepper, chopped
  • 2 lg. garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 c. chicken or beef broth/stock
  • 1-2 Parmesan rinds, opt. (I use 2 rinds, each approximately 2-inches square)
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, including juice (preferably Italian tomatoes)
  • ½ c. dry red wine
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano (Mexican oregano is fabulous)  
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8-10 oz. pkg. fresh or frozen tortellini (I use three cheese tortellini)
  • 1 med. zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then into ¼-inch wide half rounds
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ c. chopped fresh basil, opt.
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large covered soup pot, break up and sauté the Italian sausage until the meat is no longer pink. Remove sausage from pan to a small bowl. Set aside. Add the onion and green pepper to the pan. Sauté gently until the onion is translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. (There will be brown bits (caramelized meat) sticking to the bottom of the pan. This is good. When you add the liquid in the next step, gently lift the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with your stirring utensil.)

Add the broth, Parmesan rinds, diced tomatoes, red wine, dried basil, dried oregano, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and half of the cooked Italian sausage. Bring to just under a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, add the tortellini, zucchini, and the rest of the cooked Italian sausage; simmer until the tortellini is tender. Remove the Parmesan rinds and stir in the parsley and fresh basil. Adjust seasoning.

Ladle into individual soup bowls. Pass the grated Parmesan cheese.

I serve this soup with toasted crusty baguette slices. No butter required. Just dunk the bread in the broth. Yum

  

 

BANH MI (VIETNAMESE-STYLE SANDWICH)

OK, confession time. I have never tasted a real Bánh Mì sandwich. (I live on an island, remember! No local Vietnamese restaurant. We’re lucky just to have a half way decent grocery store on the island!) Anyway, our good friend Todd told Mr. C. and me all about his love for Bánh Mì sandwiches while we were enjoying a mini golfing vacation with him and his wife Cindy this last May. Todd just kept saying how much he loved these sandwiches. So sure enough, last week I decided to do some research and see what all the fuss was about. (My best sources were Cooking Light and nytimes.com.) I get it! Even though I have no idea if this recipe comes even close to what a “real” Bánh Mì sandwich should taste like; it is so good I just had to share it with you, regardless if it has as much semblance to a real Bánh Mì sandwich as a “Ritz” apple pie does to a “real” apple pie. I really don’t care. This is simply one very delicious sandwich, call it what you may!

So next time you want to tantalize your taste buds, give this recipe a try. And while you are busy in the kitchen fixing this recipe, I am going to try and find a Vietnamese restaurant less than 60 miles away. And when I do, I am going to order a real Bánh Mì sandwich. If I find that the recipe I have just shared with you has absolutely nothing in common with the real thing, I will do an edit, and call this by some other name, like “Pork Sandwiches with an Attitude” or Pulled Pork Step Aside Sandwiches”.

So, if you happen to be a Bánh Mì aficionada, and have a great recipe you would consider sharing, please send it my way. If we agree it is amazing, I’ll publish it faster than the time it takes to explain how to pronounce segue correctly.

  • 1 med. carrot, julienned
  • 1 small English cucumber, mostly peeled, cut in half, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 4-5 radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 2 T. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped green onions, divided
  • 1-2 T. Sriracha or other chili sauce
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 T. Asian fish sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ c. chopped fresh basil
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 4 individual ciabatta rolls, split, and toasted
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and thinly sliced, opt.
  • mint sprigs, opt.
  • cilantro sprigs, opt.

Toss the carrot, cucumber, radishes, vinegar, sugar, and salt together in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of the green onions, and 1 tablespoon of the Sriracha. Taste and add additional Sriracha to liking. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining chopped green onion and the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add pork and cook, breaking up the ground pork with a spatula, until meat is no longer pink. Stir in the fish sauce and black pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the basil, lime zest, and lime juice. Adjust seasoning.  

Cut each ciabatta in half; bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 7-10 minutes or until the bread is nicely heated and crisp.  Lightly spread all of the cut sides of the toasted ciabatta halves with the mayonnaise mixture. (Use it all!) Spread the bottom half of each cut ciabatta with the pork mixture. Press the jalapeño, mint, and cilantro sprigs into the pork. Spoon some drained pickled vegetables onto the sandwiches and serve immediately. Serve any extra pickled vegetables on the side.

 

 

OLD FASHIONED SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

Every once in a while, all I want for dinner is a big old plate of spaghetti and meatballs. And when the urge hits me, I fix this recipe.

I have been making this sauce and these meatballs for decades. This was one of my standby recipes when my children were young, because they all loved it, spaghetti was fairly economical to make, nutritious, and I enjoyed preparing it. (And yes, even after work!) So not only is this spaghetti delicious, it brings back wonderful memories.

It was also one of the recipes I fixed when after a long weekend morning of cleaning the house, doing 43 (or so it seemed) loads of laundry, and working in the yard, I would get a wild hair about 2:00 pm to have company for dinner! (Dear God, what was I thinking?) So I would pick up the phone and call our dear friends and invite them over. Then off to the store, back home, start some bread, make this dish, cut up greens for a salad, throw some brownies together, put the box of wine in the refrigerator along with some Miller beer, and Bob’s your uncle! Where I ever got the energy for those kind of days I will never know! My only excuse is that I was young and didn’t know any better.

Now that I’m a wee bit older and definitely a whole lot smarter, I have to plan company dinners down to a gnat’s eyelash. I go so far as to prepare comprehensive excel spreadsheets, complete with time tables that reflect any and all tasks that can be done ahead of time. (Many would call it being anal-retentive; I call it being prepared!) Some would even go so far as to blame it on my age! And they would be right! I simply can’t work as fast or as long as I did in my thirties. Regardless – I can still do it, and that’s what matters.

So if you too love spaghetti and it’s a nostalgic part of your past, call, text, email, twitter, or whatever!?!? your friends and invite them over for dinner. And no, you don’t have to go so far as to serve them box wine, although I’ve been told they are making some really good box wines these days. (There are just some food and drink items from our past that should stay relegated to the very back recesses of our brains. For example: I have my memory of boxed white wine safely filed away between Annie Green Springs and Ripple in the back part of my brain. And I can’t even remember where I stashed my memory of Singapore Slings, but I sincerely hope that wherever it is, it stays hidden for the rest of my life!)

Oh, BTW, it’s OK if you don’t have wonderful memories of spaghetti and meatballs. It’s never too late to begin making your own nostalgic memories. Have fun!

Meatballs:

  • ½ c. finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp. ground savory
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp. seasoned salt
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. dried rosemary
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. milk
  • ¾ c. oats
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. seasoned pork sausage

Combine the onion, granulated garlic, parsley, savory, thyme, salt, paprika, rosemary, pepper, nutmeg, eggs, and milk together in a medium bowl. Add the oats, ground beef, and ground pork and stir just until combined. Using an ice cream scoop, form balls and place on a lightly greased rimmed baking pan.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the balls are baked through. Remove from oven and set aside.

Sauce:

  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can chopped or diced tomatoes (Italian tomatoes preferably)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano (I use Mexican oregano)
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 T. butter, optional
  • ½ lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • grated Parmesan, garnish

In a large covered sauce pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes. (Take the lid off part way if the sauce is too thin or allow to gently burble away until the sauce reaches your desired thickness.) Remove from heat, discard bay leaf, add the basil, and adjust seasoning. If the sauce tastes acidic, add butter 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavor.

Just before serving, add the meatballs and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the al dente spaghetti, and serve immediately. Pass Parmesan.

 

CHAR SIU PORK (CHINESE BBQ PORK)

When I worked in the International District of Seattle during the 70s, I used to treat myself periodically to a quarter pound of BBQ pork for lunch. It was absolutely delicious. And there was one particular shop I always patronized. And to this day I can still conjure up the wonderful smell that emanated from that shop. I can also visualize the shop itself, with its uneven floor, bathroom straight out of the 1600s, and the wizened old owner/chef who always smiled at me despite the fact that he was missing at least 2/3rds of his teeth. But he was so nice and boy howdy could this guy BBQ meat. If I could have afforded to buy from him all the time, I would have taken home BBQ duck and pork (叉燒) on a weekly basis. But 40 some years ago, these items were way outside my budget. Unfortunately!

But ever since those 10 years working in the International district, I have loved BBQ pork. So for a recent dinner party, I decided to try replacing the recipe I had been using for many years with one that would more accurately reflect the exquisite flavor of the BBQ pork of long ago. I knew the secret was in the combination of ingredients for the marinade. (No duh!) And I was pretty sure the ingredient list should include Chinese Five Spice. But I didn’t have any Chinese Five Spice on hand or star anise for that matter, so I used regular anise seed in my own Chinese Five Spice blend. I have no idea how this pork would taste with a Chinese Five Spice blend that included star anise, but I can’t imagine it could be any tastier. Thanks to the Recipe Tin Eats web site (great site BTW) for this wonderful recipe. And sorry I changed a few things here and there.

So if you love Chinese BBQ pork as much as I do, give this recipe a try. And if you happen to visit the International District in whatever large city is closest to your home, look for the seediest shop you can find with ducks and strips of BBQ pork hanging in the window. Then go inside and buy anything that is hanging from a hook. Because it is bound to be incredible. Tell them Patti sent you!  

  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 5 tsp. honey
  • 5 tsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp. oyster sauce  
  • 2 T. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder, either purchased or my preference – homemade (recipe below)
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil  
  • 1 T. vegetable oil  
  • 1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver skin and cut in half lengthwise

Make the marinade by placing the sugar, honey, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Chinese five spice, sesame oil, and vegetable oil in a small saucepan and bring to simmer for just 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.

Place the pork and cooled marinade in a Ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible, then massage the pork so the marinade is all over the pork. Place in the fridge and marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight or up to 24 hours.

Take the pork out of the fridge and bring to room temperature. Line a baking tray with foil and place a rack on top. Remove pork from the marinade (save the marinade) and place on the rack. Tuck the thin end of the tenderloin halves underneath so the whole piece of meat is roughly the same thickness.

Roast in a pre-heated 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. After 20 minutes, baste generously with the reserved marinade. After another 20 minutes, baste with remaining marinade. Remove from oven and allow the pork to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Please note: For a more authentic BBQ taste, remove the pork from the oven when it reaches about 150 degrees. Then place on a low temperature BBQ grill to help caramelize the sugars in the marinade. Watch very carefully because you don’t want to burn the marinade. I have to admit I haven’t tried the grilling part myself, because when I fixed this recipe, I was preparing a full Chinese dinner, and neither Mr. C. or I had time to breath much less spend any time at the BBQ. But rest assured, the next time I make this recipe there will be some real grilling involved!  

 

 

ITALIAN SAUSAGE, SPINACH, AND MUSHROOM CASSEROLE

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Of course you already know that I am a pasta fanatic. And in all honesty, this casserole is one of the reasons why I can’t seem to stay away from any type of dish that consists of a sauce and various other accoutrements that surround shaped and boiled semolina flour and water. This casserole has everything I find necessary to fulfill my “must have pasta” need. It has meat, veggies, cheese, and a killer cream sauce. When combined, it is just a fantastic amalgamation of flavors. And it’s pretty too!

So next time you’re in the mood for pasta, and especially when you have a small army to feed, make this dish. Now, I’m not going to tell you that it‘s a quick dish to prepare. Because it does take some dedicated kitchen time. But I will say that it’s an easy recipe to follow, and not too expensive compared to a lot of lasagna type recipes that call for vast amounts of expensive cheese. Plus it’s a lovely change from a tomato sauce based pasta dish. And, this pasta can be made well ahead and kept in your refrigerator until needed.

So everything considered, it’s a great dish to have in your special treat and company repertoire.

So give it a try. What’s to lose? Well for sure it’s not weight! Because this definitely is not a low calorie casserole. But then, I’ve never enjoyed a low calorie casserole in my life, so what would I know about how to create one? Never mind – just enjoy!

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ tsp. oregano
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. minced fresh parsley
  • 10 oz. fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • ½ c. unsalted butter
  • 6 T. flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • ¼ c. dry white wine
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. beef base
  •  c. dry penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 c. grated Mozzarella cheese
  • paprika

Heat olive oil in a large fry pan. Add the Italian sausage and cook until browned. Add onion and mushrooms. Fry until the onion starts to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, parsley, and spinach. Remove pan from heat. In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Let cook for a couple of minutes, then gradually add the milk. Cook over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the white wine, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, and beef base. Add to the sausage mixture, along with the cooked pasta. Adjust seasoning. Scoop into a lightly greased 9×13-inch pan or casserole dish. Top with Mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese topping has melted and started to brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: This recipe can be doubled or tripled easily. It can also be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator until about 2 hours before you need to pop it in the oven. Letting the casserole come to room temperature before heating allows all the ingredients to warm more evenly.

 

 

CREOLE MEATLOAF WITH MASHED BUTTERMILK POTATOES AND TRINITY GRAVY

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I love Creole food and I love meatloaf. So I decided that a recipe for Creole meatloaf would be next on my list of “how in the heck am I going to use up more of the ground beef in my freezer?!?!”

Having decided on the flavor theme, I went about looking for Creole recipes I could adapt. And one of the first recipes to pop up on my search was a recipe from Rachael Ray. But I couldn’t stop with just looking at one recipe, so I brought up a few more and the recipe below is the result of combining several recipes and my own ideas on the subject.

Now, unless you have done a lot of Creole cooking, you might be wondering about “trinity” gravy. If you are like me, my “trinity” in cooking is a combination of onion, carrot, and celery. I start almost every stew, soup, or red sauce with this combination of base ingredients. In French cooking it’s called mirepoix, and consists of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, and 1 part celery. But the Creole and Cajun cuisine considers onion, celery, and green pepper to be the holy trinity of flavor. 3 parts onion, 2 parts celery, and 1 part green bell pepper. Cajun/Creole dishes such as étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya almost always start with this base. And since I love all three of these dishes, I decided maybe a trinity gravy was right up my alley too.

I am happy to report that both the meatloaf and the gravy are a wonderful combination of flavors, very simple to prepare, and economical to build. In fact, I would classify this dish as perfect for company. It does take time to prepare, but all can be made ahead of time, and then reheated just before serving. And although the ingredients aren’t expensive, the presentation looks like a million dollars.

Now I’ve heard, that half the enjoyment one gets from food is in the presentation. Frankly, I think that’s a load of rutabaga skins! I’ve tasted many a dish that looked terrific, but the flavor – less than satisfactory. But this delicious dish is not just beautiful on the outside. Remember – “external attractiveness has no relation to goodness or essential quality.” I know this maxim first stated by Sir Thomas Overbury in his poem “A Wife”, was meant to imply that beauty (in a wife) should not be just skin deep. But, as far as I’m concerned, his reflection speaks equally to culinary presentations! And if this dish doesn’t yell “good wife” I don’t know what dish does!! (And yes, I can make any quote or maxim have something to do with food. It’s a DNA abnormality handed down through my father’s side of the family!)  

For a small family or a senior couple like Mr. C and me, this wonderful meatloaf and gravy is a three meal delight. First night – eat until you can’t walk. Second night, eat until you remember how bad you felt after dinner the night before! Third day, argue over who’s going to get the last couple of slices of meatloaf for lunch! Enjoy, and no fighting kids!     

Meatloaf:

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for smearing on meat loaves before baking
  • 1 lg. onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced, divided
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 T. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 T. Creole Seasoning, divided (to make your own, see two very good recipes below)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. grainy Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c. milk
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4th of the onion to the skillet, and cook to soften, 5-6 minutes.  Add half of the minced garlic and cook for one minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cool.  To the cooled onion mixture add the paprika, thyme, 1 tablespoon of the Creole seasoning, ½ teaspoon of the salt, black pepper, mustard, bread crumbs, egg, and milk.  Mix to combine. Add the ground beef and the ground pork, stirring gently just until well combined. (I use my hands for this part.) Form into 2 loaves, each about 10 inches long and 4 inches wide.

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Place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Smear the entire surface lightly with olive oil. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

To serve: Slice the meat loaves. Arrange the slices over Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and pour the Trinity Gravy over both.  Garnish with sliced scallions and serve.

Trinity Gravy:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • small bay leaf
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1½ c. beef stock (I use beef base and water)
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce or more to taste (I use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • mashed sweet or russet potatoes (see recipe below)
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced on the bias, for garnish

Meanwhile, in the same skillet you used for the meatloaf mixture, melt the butter and add the remaining onion. Cook for about 7 minutes, then add the celery, bell pepper, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and white pepper.  Cook the mixture long enough to soften, about 30 minutes. (I usually cover the pan after about 10 minutes and let the veggies gently steam/fry.) The veggies should be kinda brown and kinda mushy. That’s what you want. None of this crisp tender for this recipe!

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Add the remaining garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the tomato paste and bay leaf; stir for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour and remaining Creole seasoning over the mixture and stir for another minute.  Whisk in the stock, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; cook to thicken over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Turn the heat to the lowest setting to keep the gravy warm. Stir periodically.

If you are not going to be serving in the next little while, remove from heat and re-warm when ready. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes:

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ to 1 c. buttermilk

Cover the potatoes with water in a medium pot and bring to a boil, then season with salt, reduce heat, and cook for 12-15 minutes until tender.  When the potatoes are done, drain and return to the hot pot and mash with black pepper and buttermilk to desired consistency. Add salt if necessary.

EMERIL’S ESSENCE CREOLE SEASONING

  • 2½ T. paprika
  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • 1 T. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. onion powder
  • 1 T. cayenne
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. dried thyme

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

CREOLE SEASONING MIX (my recipe) 

  • 1½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½-1½ tsp. cayenne (depends on how much heat you like or can tolerate)
  • ½ tsp. gumbo file

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

 

BACON, SWISS CHEESE, AND GREEN ONION QUICHE (Lorraine to those who know her well)

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Like many other wonderful dishes, a good quiche takes time to prepare. But at my house, a homemade quiche is one of the best ways I know to show my dear husband how much I care. (That and Chicken Paprika. BTW also on this site.)

So when Mr. C. recently asked me to make a quiche for dinner, I simply could not refuse. And because I know how much he loves bacon, I decided on this recipe.

Now I know what you’re thinking – “Patti – everyone knows how to make a Quiche Lorraine”. And this might be true. But sometimes I like to include recipes that have been around for a while, because people have a tendency to forget about the classics when only focusing on “new and currently trendy” dishes. But with all the innovative ingredients that are being used in quiches these days, like smoked salmon, sausage, spinach, or prosciutto, to name just a few, there is even more reason to resurrect an old standard. At least by posting this old favorite, I hope to prod my readers into thinking about quiche again. (And I mean “prod” in a good way! As a reminder, not as a poke, jab, or dig!) Because when you think about it, there is no more perfect dish to serve for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner than a quiche. Or if there is, I have yet to discover it! (OK, there is pizza; but not everyone embraces cold pizza for breakfast!)

So do yourself and your family a favor. Build a quiche. And while you’re at it, also make a fruit tart. (For more information about why a tart and a quiche are hand and hand buddies, see my blog post entitled Rustic Peach Tart.)

  • 8-inch pie crust, unbaked and set in pie plate (see recipe below)
  • 8 slices thick, meaty bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
  • 2 c. grated Swiss, Gruyère, or Emmanthal cheese
  • 1/3 c. sliced green onions
  • ¾ tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 1/3 c. milk (whole milk is best)
  • 4 eggs
  • dash ground nutmeg

Scatter cooked bacon over pie crust. Layer cheese on top of bacon. Add sliced green onions. Whisk together the dry mustard, milk, and eggs. Hint: Place dry mustard in bowl and add just a tiny splash of the milk. Whisk until there are no mustard powder lumps. Then add the remaining milk and eggs, and whisk all together. If you add all the ingredients together at once, you often end up with mustard lumps that, trust me, are very hard to incorporate with the other ingredients.) Pour liquid mixture in pie pan. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven until set, about 45 minutes.

Hint: to keep your pie crust edge from getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil. (See picture below.)

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PIE CRUST (makes a double crust)

  • ¼ c. very cold water
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • heaping 2/3 c. Crisco

Step 1 – Pour cold water into a small bowl.

Step 2 – Measure flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

Step 3 – Take 1/3 cup of the flour back out of the mixing bowl and stir it into the water. Make a paste. Set aside.

Step 4 – Add the Crisco (heaping 2/3 cup) to the flour and salt mixture. Mix together. (I use my KitchenAid mixer.)

Step 5 – Add the water/flour paste to the flour/shortening bowl and mix just until blended. Do not over-mix. Roll out dough and place in pie plate. This recipe makes enough dough for a double crust pie, if using a regular sized pie plate, or one large bottom crust with a little left over for pastry cookies or small tart like the one shown below.

Helpful hint: Use a pastry cloth to roll out your pie crust. It really makes a difference. You can find pastry cloths in almost any kitchen wares shop. Well worth the $10 or so.

 

CARIBBEAN PORK STEW

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We recently were invited to our good friends Tim and Susie’s home for an “after gig” dinner party. And Susie fixed just an amazing Caribbean dinner for us. And the main dish she served was a pork stew. So based on the gist of the recipe Susie gave me that evening, I immediately went on line and found (I’m pretty sure) the recipe she used. (Sometimes I get tired of bugging my friends for their recipes, so I just wing it.)

Anyway, the recipe below adapted from Cooking Light magazine, Valerie’s Kitchen blog, and brought to life by Susie is so melt in your mouth good as to be worthy of a literary mention, in say, a modern romance novel. And because I have an active imagination and sometimes (sometimes?!?!) can’t help myself, the first couple of paragraphs in this fictitious novel might read something like this:

“Kathryn could not have known on that late summer afternoon how the delicious smell of her Caribbean pork stew would completely turn her life around. As the stew quietly bubbled away in the slow cooker on the counter under her open kitchen window, she was completely unaware that a change in her life was in the wind. And even though the late afternoon was hot, quiet, and heavy with languor, tiny whiffs of the stew’s delicious aroma somehow found their way through her new neighbor Jeffrey’s open den window.

Jeffrey, who had lost his wife to his best friend a couple of years before, had only lived in his new home for a month. He had moved because everything in his old neighborhood had reminded him of how he had been deceived by the two people he had trusted most in life. He had needed to put his former life far behind. He had seen Kathryn come and go from her house and of course had noticed how beautiful she was. He also knew that she had been recently widowed. His realtor had been eager to share that tidbit of information when he was showing Jeffrey the house. But Jeffrey wasn’t looking for love. In fact he had no desire to ever again become involved with a gorgeous woman. But that afternoon, as he sat at his desk putting the final touches on the article he was writing, he sensed that there was something different in the air. He couldn’t quite define what it was that had awakened his senses. But he knew for a fact, that whatever it was, it was emanating from his neighbor’s home.”

So if you too want to awaken the senses of your family and friends, prepare this dish for them. It has a bit of heat to it, but it’s not overpowering. Just delicious. And thanks again Tim and Susie for another wonderful meal at your home and of course, your friendship.

(And lest you worry, I have no intention of becoming a romance novel writer.)

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs. lean pork, cut into bite sized pieces (a boneless pork roast is perfect)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (lots)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 lg. red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 T. hoisin sauce
  • 2 T. lower-sodium GF Tamari or regular soy sauce
  • juice of one large, soft lime
  • 2 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • basmati rice, cooked according to package directions or follow the recipe below
  • lime wedges

Add oil to a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add pork, salt, and pepper and sauté until the cubes are dark brown. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Place browned pork and garlic, red bell pepper, and green onions in an electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray.

Combine hoisin sauce, Tamari, lime juice, peanut butter, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, and chicken broth in a small bowl. Pour mixture over the pork and stir well to combine.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce heat to LOW, and cook for 90 minutes or until pork is fork tender. (Check after about an hour.)

Serve over rice with lime wedges.

BASMATI RICE

  • 2 c. basmati rice
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 3 1/3 c. water
  • 34/ tsp. kosher salt

Rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve under cold water until water runs clear. Drain well. Melt butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat; add rice and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Scoop into your rice cooker. Add water and salt. Turn rice cooker on “go”. When rice cooker turns off, rice is done. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with fork.

No rice cooker?  Rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve under cold water until water runs clear. Drain well. Melt butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat; add rice and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in water and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with fork.

 

PORK AND GREENS WITH NOODLES

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This is one of those quick and easy recipes that is perfect for weeknights. (Of course you can also serve it on the weekend, but because of its ease of preparation, I tend to think of it as an “I’m too tired to really cook” kind of weeknight dish.) I mean really, when you analyze the ingredients, you have all the essential elements associated with dinner. You’ve got your meat, your starch, and your veggies. The only difference is that they are all combined in one neat little package. So while your family might feel slighted by only one item present on the dinner table, you can relax knowing you have covered all the bases. And truly, aren’t some nights just all about you! I mean – you’ve fed them right? And something really tasty too. So I say “get over it family and cut the poor cook some slack”!

Of course, if the gilt really becomes too much for you – throw a couple of cookies and a bowl of ice cream at them after dinner. (And no, they don’t have to be a home baked cookies. I am not the food Nazi, and I promise not to report you to Betty Crocker.)

So next time you get the urge to just go home and lock yourself in your room and to heck with feeding your hungry masses, stop at the store on your way home from work. (You know the little darlings have to be fed, so this is your way of feeding the troops, and still getting to bed early.) Pick up a couple thick, lean pork chops, a package of pre-washed greens, and any other ingredients for this dish that you don’t already have on hand. Then beat feet home, change your clothes, pour yourself a libation, and prepare my version of Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe for Stir-Fried Pork and Green with Noodles. Then relax and enjoy your meal. You’ve fulfilled your “food” obligation and in fine style too.  

One thing more – don’t forget the cookies and ice cream while you’re at the store.     

  • 2 T. vegetable oil, divided 
  • ½ lb. lean pork, cut in very thin strips
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 T. minced fresh ginger
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • about 1 lb. Swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, spinach, or kale stemmed and washed very well  
  • 2 T. low sodium Tamari or soy sauce
  • ¼ c. chicken stock or water  
  • 8 oz. Japanese somen noodles, wide rice vermicelli, or Chinese egg noodles cooked al dente
  • ¼ c. thinly sliced green onions, garnish

Heat a large, heavy skillet or wok over medium-high heat until hot enough to evaporate a drop of water on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and add the pork; stir fry for about 2 minutes or until the pork is just barely cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.  

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook for about one minute or until the garlic releases its aroma. Stir in the greens and stir fry until mostly wilted. Add the Tamari and chicken stock. Cook for about a minute. Add the cooked noodles and reserved pork; stir together until heated through. Adjust seasoning, sprinkle with green onions, and serve immediately.