Monday, July 14, 2014

Pork chop party

Hello again. Time for the next recipe on my food adventure.  Mustard Pork Chops.
Let me start by saying that whole grain mustard is now my new favorite thing. Since I had to purchase a jar for this recipe I figured I might as well use it for other stuff like sammichs and things. It's amazing. Anywho back to the recipe.

I discovered that pork chops are a bit pricey, at least they were where I purchased them. Also I had to purchase a four pack instead of two like the recipe calls for. So I just doubled everything and made a bigger batch. In the future I will do some shopping around before I buy pork chops again.

First things first I laid out all the ingredients, like ya' do. I do not have garlic-infused olive oil because I'm not fancy. I ended up using regular olive oil and threw some minced garlic into it while it heated. I don't have fancy olive oils but I have fancy minced garlic. I don't get it either.

The recipe asks for hard cider. I have no idea what the difference is in ciders so the one I purchased is an apple hard cider, which I might have drank the rest of while cooking because it tasted like sparkling apple juice that gives you a buzz. 

First thing I did was place the chops in a plastic bag and smacked the crap out of them with my rolling pin. I think I like cooking where I get to take out my aggression at the same time. Next I heated the oil and garlic in the pan before placing the chops on the fire. 

I let them cook about 8 or so minutes until cooked through, flipping periodically of course. Once the chops are cooked, I moved them to a plate and got ready to make the sauce.

The sauce consists of the cider, cream, and mustard all mixed with the juice left in the pan after you remove the chops. I think the sauce was supposed to be thicker but it was a bit runny for me. It still tasted really yummy, spicy and apple-y which worked with the pork chops. I'm not sure what I did incorrectly to get the runnier sauce but I will try it again at some point and see what happens. Overall, not bad for a second attempt and I have leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week!



Mustard Pork Chops

Ingredients

2 pork chops, about 1-pound total weight
2 teaspoons infused oil
1/2 cup hard cider
1 tablespoon grain mustard
1/3 cup heavy cream


Directions

Cut the fat or rind off the chops, and then bash them briefly but brutally with a rolling pin between 2 pieces of cling film/plastic wrap to make them thinner.

Heat the oil in a pan, and then cook the chops over a moderately-high heat for about 5 minutes a side. Remove them to a warmed plate.

Pour the cider into the pan, still over the heat, to deglaze the pan. Let it bubble away for a minute or so then add the mustard and stir in the cream.

Let the sauce continue cooking for a few minutes before pouring over each plated pork chop. If you're having gnocchi with, make sure you turn them in the pan to absorb any spare juices before adding them to your plates.

Next up...Chicken, Mango, and Chili Salad

Friday, July 11, 2014

I think I made candy glass - Caramel Croissant Pudding

I've been going through the Nigella cookbook looking for simple recipes to start off my cooking trials and adventures. I ran across my first recipe to try - Caramel Croissant Pudding. (Recipe at bottom)

To be honest I was going to try the Mustard Pork Chops (for a later blog) but when I got to the store they happened to have two day-old croissants for .25 which is just what you need. I think the universe wanted me to make this dish first. So I heeded the call and set forth.

With The Taste on in the background (Starring Nigella herself and Anthony Bourdain) I cleaned up the kitchen and set out my ingredients. I also propped my Ipad up on the dish rack you see in the picture so I could see the recipe as I worked. I have the cookbook on kindle. 

The recipe calls for Bourbon but as I don't have any, I hardly drink, I used Whiskey. Jameson to be exact. It was a partial bottle leftover from a faraway party anyway. 

The first thing you have to do is combine the sugar and water in a pan, swirling to dissolve before you heat. You are making the caramel portion of the dish. Now here is where my non-cooking experience got me. I had to do this step twice. The first time I think I overcooked the sugar water mixture. It was really thick. Seriously it was like thirty seconds from being Candy Glass. (Candy Glass for those who don't know is what breakable windows and bottles and the like are made of for movies and plays. You can get hit in the head with Candy Glass and it doesn't hurt) 
Maybe it was my pan or maybe because I didn't really know what I am doing that caused me to screw up the first attempt. So I heaved a sigh and cleaned out the pan for my second attempt. (This is where I tell you that I forgot the sprayer function on my kitchen sink was on and ended up spraying myself, my dog, and my ipad)

The second attempt worked just great! I was much more diligent and careful with it. Once it was a nice light amber color ( I was not risking it by going for a darker amber like the recipe suggests) I mixed in the rest of the wet ingredients, poured the whole mess over the torn croissants and popped it in the over at 350 for 20 minutes. You are supposed to use a casserole dish, which I do not have. I opted for using my smallest Pyrex mixing bowl which worked just fine. (Vintage is my life, baby!)

In a short bit the house started to smell pretty damn good. My dog kept going in the kitchen, sniffing the air, and spinning around like a nut. When the buzzer went off I was presented with the picture below. Let me tell you that this dish is this side of amazeballs. It was so good I think I said 'Oh my god' at least ten times while tasting it. I will seriously make this for other people to enjoy. I'm sure the taste will differ some with the Bourbon but the good ole Jameson didn't steer me wrong. 



So there you have it. My first attempt at cooking like a fully functioning adult. I know it's simple but when you can't cook, a girl needs simple to cut her teeth on.  Mustard Pork Chops tomorrow. 



Ingredients

2 stale croissants
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs, beaten
Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the croissants into pieces and put in a small gratin dish; I use a cast iron oval with a capacity of about 500ml/ 2 cups for this.

Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the hob over medium to high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away until it all turns a deep amber colour; this will take 3 to 5 minutes. Keep looking but don't be too timid.

Take the pan off the heat and add the cream - ignoring all spluttering - followed by the bourbon and milk. Whisk to mix, then still whisking add the beaten eggs. Pour this quickly over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes.

Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hey there and hello

So I can't cook. Seriously. I can do lots of other things like write novels, direct plays, sew costumes, and balance spreadsheets. Cooking...not so much.

This is not a blog like Julie Powell's Julie/Julia Project. She knew how to cook before she walked into the Julie Child cookbook. She just didn't know how to cook all fancy-pants. I can barely boil eggs. No joke. I don't know a reduction from a sauce from a jar of mayo. The smoke detectors in my house hate me and are constantly yelling at me. My microwave is my best friend.

I'm tired of not being able to feed myself in the way others can so I have decided I'm going to teach myself how to cook. And I'm going to bring you all along for the ride.

My muse for this trip in learning how to feed myself and others with something other than take-out or microwave meals is Nigella Lawson. I chose Nigella for a couple of reasons. One, she is a home cook and domestic goddess not some fancy chef with fancy cooking school credentials. Two, she is always so calm and fun in her cooking shows. Three, she makes cooking sexy.

The equipment in my new cooking arsenal box at this time is:
Nigella Express cookbook by Nigella Lawson
Kitchen Confidental by Anthony Bourdain
Fiona Super's YouTube channel with Nigella Lawson Express videos.
Pinterest recipes
A set Calphlon pans given to me one Christmas years ago.



Wish me luck!