Friday, November 16, 2007

Pork Chops and Applesauce

Yes, that is a deliberate Brady Bunch reference. Served this tonight with Jaime Oliver's spicy squash, and both Hub and I drank the sauce from the plate. Seriously yum!

4 thick pork chops, bone in
1 tsp olive oil
6 med. Gala apples, peeled, cored and chopped coarsely
1 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
8 oz creme fraiche

  • Heat a large frying pan that has a lid.

  • Add the olive oil to the hot pan, swirl, then add the pork chops

  • Sear the chops on each side, about 2 minutes a side

  • Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients except the creme fraiche in a bowl (or you could do that before even starting the chops, up to you)

  • Lower the heat on the chops, and smother them with the apple mixture.

  • Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the chops bounce back when pressed.

  • Remove the chops to plates, add the creme fraiche to the apples in the pan and raise the heat

  • Briefly (about 1 minute) boil the sauce to thicken it a will not be a thick sauce

  • Pour the sauce on the chops, and serve

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Butternut Squash Soup with Chestnuts & Hazelnuts

The party people are back in town! Hub and I realized recently that we just haven't had a party recently, and were feeling itchy. We spent most of the summer as gym rats and hardly cooked or entertained, instead working on our health and hotness factors. Well, now we're ready to let loose again, so we had a cocktail party last night. It was lots of fun, and the kids are getting to the point where they pretty much entertain themselves, which is a relief.

One of the dishes I made was a lovely winter squash soup -- I had first made it back in 2001 or so for the C's. Since Ms. C can't digest any milk products, this soup is perfect -- very different from most squash soups in that it is entirely vegetarian. I gave her a call yesterday to see if she still had the recipe (I couldn't find it) and she did...but I didn't get it early enough to get some of the key ingredients. Besides, my farm guy had been producing lovely acorn squash that I wanted to use instead of butternut squash. Anyway, I did a few substitutions and it was just as delicious. I'll transcribe both the original recipe and my modifications in italics.

Oh, and smooth soup is excellent for parties with an appetizer motif -- just put the soup out in a crock pot and put small cups out for sipping. It was all gone at the end of the evening, which is kind of too bad since I didn't have any leftover to take over to Ms. C, who couldn't make it to the party.

3 1/2 pounds butternut squash or acorn squash, halved and seeded
6 Tbs olive oil
1 1/4 cups chopped shallots
1/2 cup dry marsala
2/3 cup coursely chopped peeled roasted chestnuts from a jar or pine nuts, not chopped
2 cups plain soy milk
2 cups vegetable broth (I like the Pacific brand)
1 Tbs dry white wine
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, rosemary & marjoram or 2 Tbs thyme, rosemary and sage
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped since this is a garnish, I skipped this entirely for a drinking soup

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush cut sides of squash with 2 Tbs of the oil. Place brushed side down on large baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly.

  • Meanwhile, heat remaining 4 Tbs oil in large pot on medium heat. Add shallots; saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add marsala. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until all liquid evaporates and shallots are deep golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add chestnuts or pine nuts, saute 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Scoop squash flesh into pot, combine.

  • Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender or food processor (or use a soup wand), adding the soy milk and broth, until smooth.

  • Strain the soup back into pot. Stir in wine and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead -- cool slightly, then cover and chill)

  • Bring soup to a simmer. Ladle into soup bowls; sprinkle with hazelnuts.