Sunday, April 17, 2011

Friday Night, Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Peppers, April 15, 2011

I saw this pork chop recipe in the new Bon Appetit magazine. It was someone writing into the magazine asking for the recipe, they had it at Mario Batali's restaurant, Babbo in NYC. I love the sweet and spicy of pickled cherry peppers and it's been a while since I had them, I thought it sounded really good. Another new magazine came in the mail, the Food & Wine May 2011 had this interesting looking dessert in it, a chocolate carrot cake. I love carrot cake because its so moist and of corse the cream cheese frosting that is so good with it. But this chocolate cake version has no cream cheese frosting, but it's got a crumb topping (what??).

Brown Tomato Caprese Salad

Whole Foods had these great looking brown tomato variety that I thought looked like a good choice for tonight. So caprese salad is a cobination of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil. I put some good looking watercress lettuce on the plate first and layered on the mozzarella thinly sliced then sliced tomatoes that I seasoned with salt and pepper seperately and fresh basil. I drizzled on some olive oil and served with lightly toasted fresh bakery bread that I rubbed with fresh garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Fantastico!!

Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Peppers, Cipolline Onions and Balsamic Vinegar

These pork chops are soaked in a brine overnight to ensure they are flavorful and tender. Dissolve 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/8 cup of sugar in 4 cups of water. I put the brine in a zip-lock bag and placed 2 pork chops in and closed the bag, making sure I get out all the air so the brine really gets into the pork chops. He says to brine it 12 hours, but mine was more like 16 hours and it was fine (I am always worried about it becoming too salty if it sits too long in the brine, that happened to me before). You combine bell peppers, cipolline onions, red onions, pickled cherry peppers, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and olive oil. The vegetables are cooked until softened and it's spooned over the perfectly charcoal grilled pork chops. He says to use aged balsamic vinegar just drizzled over the final dish, but I just reduced some regular good quality balsamic, to make it a bit more syrupy and deepen the flavors a bit. Really good, the pork had really perfect amounts of saltiness and sweetness.

Smoky Mashed Potato with Egg Yolk Centers

I saw this on some show, I think it was Unique Eats. The guy made his own smoke oil by charring a brickette then removing it to a small pot then pouring olive oil over it and when it cools down you get this olive oil that tastes like you cooked it on the grill. I made some mashed potatoes and flavored it with the oil and some milk, salt and pepper. I soft boiled 2 eggs for about 3-4 minutes and after spooning the mashed potato onto the serving plates I cracked the egg into the center of the potatoes. It was really good, I was afraid of using too much oil in the potaoes so it was a mild smoke flavor. The egg just added a nice "sauce" the the dish.

Steamed Snap Peas

Cocoa-Carrot Cake with Cocoa Crumble and a Cup of Espresso Ice Cream

This was in the new Food & Wine magazine (as I said above). It's basically made like you would make a carrot cake with the additon of cocoa powder and it's baked in a loaf pan instead of a cake pan. Instead of the cream cheese frosting there is a chocolate crumble that you make by combining flour, sugar, almond flour, cocoa, salt and soft butter. This mixture is clumped together by your hands and chilled for 15 minutes. You then bake it for 15 minutes and let it cool and it hardens as it cools. When you put the cake batter in the loaf pan you top it with the crumble and then it bakes all together. Its really good and different. Its a combination of a coffee cake and a carrot cake. I served this with a "cup of espresso ice cream". I came across these small espresso cups in the bacement and I thought they would be a perfect little vehical for the ice cream. Basically I made a vanilla ice cream but infused the milk with espresso powder. When I finished mixing it, I tasted it and it was like a cup of coffee that needed sugar, what do I do now?? I made some simple syrup with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup of sugar. I whisked this into the custard and tasted it, and it was perfect, thank goodness!!

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