Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Night Menu, Grilled Thyme Pork Chops, December 30, 2011

Tony got me Jacques Pepin's new cookbook for Christmas and it's an awesome book.  I made all Jacques recipes this week except the Sweet Potato dish that I made up.  Jacques is so good with techniques and he's also an artist so he does everything in a decorative way, which I like.

Split Pea Soup with Cracklings

This year at Christmas my cousin was talking about pea soup... and then I got this book and there was this split pea soup recipe.... and Tony went to get some dried chick peas for something he was making and he grabbed a bag of split peas and yellow peas just for fun...and so, I thought, making this recipe was meant to be. Here it is...

6 oz chicken skin, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 medium onion, cut into i inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and coarsely chopped (1 Tbsp)
8 cups water
2 tsp herbes de Provence
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce, plus more for serving
1 lb dried split peas, picked over and rinsed

Put the chicken skin in a large skillet and saute over high heat for 8-10 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp.  Transfer the cracklings and fat to a large saucepan.  Add the onions to the saucepan and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and mix well, then stir in the water, herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, Tabasco and split peas.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and boil gently for 1 hour.

It was good and simple.  We liked the flavor the chicken skin gave, but I think Tony was looking forward to the "cracklings" being crispy, but as you can imagine they were, but then they are cooked  in liquid for an hour, and they weren't anymore.  Personally I didn't eat the chicken skins but Tony thought they were good.

Grilled Thyme Pork Chops

This was very simple and quick to make.  It was in his book and I was flipping through the pages trying to figure a good main dish.  My concern was that the next day we were roasting a whole standing rib roast on New year's Eve and last Friday I served fish, most of the week we were eating chicken because of one of the recent posts about de-boning a whole chicken (we practiced a couple times).  What's left??  Pork.  Actually Jacques calls this a "grilled" dish and I had planned to do that, but it was cold out side and I had just bought this non-stick, ceramic coated pan at Homegoods and it claimed to brown food more than a Teflon non-stick pan.  I cooked it just like he said, season with salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp or so of dried Thyme, 4 minutes on each side with olive oil brushed onto the pork chop first and let it rest 5-10 minutes ( I let it rest 5 minutes before plating).  To ensure that there wound be a nice brown crust I didn't move it at all once I got it in the pan, until I flipped them.  This pan worked out perfectly!  Nice crust and juicy inside, just right.

Sweet Potato and Fromage Blanc Brulee

I wanted to use sweet potatoes but do something different with them.  I had bought some Fromage Blanc just because, and thought that added to a puree of sweet potato might be good.  This is what I did...
I peeled then cut 2 large sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch thick rounds and braised them in a large skillet with 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil and a splash of water.  Braising is cooking over low heat, with a small amount of liquid.  I checked them after 30 minutes and they were nice and soft.  Leaving most of the liquid behind add the sweet potatoes to the food processor and process until creamy; squeeze the juice of 1/2 orange to the braising pan and reduce it until it's syrupy, pour into the processor; add salt, pepper, the zest of 1 orange, 8 oz of Fromage Blanc; a teaspoon or 2 of cinnamon; 1 tbsp of softened butter;  I tasted as I went to see if it needed more salt or whatever; Remove to a pastry bag that's fitted with a large decorative tip and put it into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes; chilling the mixture helps to show the form of the decorative tip that you use; pipe out serving sizes into mounds onto a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat and put into the refrigerator until you are ready to heat and serve them.

I put the sheet pan into the oven just to warm the mounds of sweet potato for about 15-20 minutes then I sprinkled about 1-2 tsp of brown sugar over the mounds and used my torch to Brulee the sugar.  This was very good with the pork.

Braised Endive

I wasn't sure what vegetable to do when I was at the store I just grabbed what looked good and figured I'd make one of them.  I got one big endive, a bunch of Swiss chard and asparagus.  I settled on the endive but instead of raw in a salad (which is what I was thinking with that), I saw Jacques did a braised endive so I went with that.  I kind of followed his recipe but I didn't have the 8 medium endives, I had one large, so I ended up cutting it in half when he left his whole, and he says to remove the rind from one lemon and put it in the pan along with 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 4 Tbsp butter, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and 3/4 cup of water.  I did all that but reduced the amounts to equal doing just the one big endive.  This was good, but I didn't think it went perfectly with the other components of this dish.

Banana-Mint Ice Cream with Rum Raisin Sauce

This was a recipe that reminded me of another one I had made from a friend who is a vegan.  She said to slice bananas and freeze them, after they are frozen add them to the food processor and process, adding sweetened almond milk until you have what looks like ice cream.  It works amazingly well.  Jacques is the same idea but he's not a vegan and he uses sour cream.  Here it is...

Ice Cream

3 ripe bananas cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1/4 cup honey
6-8 fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup sour cream


1/4 cup peach preserves
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp dark rum
1/4 cup golden raisins

For the ice cream: arrange the bananas on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer.  Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours or over night.  Remove the bananas from the freezer and allow them to sit for a few minutes.  They should still be partially frozen.  Put the bananas in the bowl of a food processor add, the honey, mint, sour cream and process for at least a minute, until the mixture is smooth and creamy ( this is ice cream after all).  Place in a container, cover and freeze for several hours until solidly frozen. 

For the sauce:  Mix the preserves, orange juice and rum together in a bowl until smooth.  Stir in the raisins. 

At serving time scoop some of the ice cream into a bowl and coat with the sauce, garnish with a fresh mint leaf.  Love it!!

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