Monday, November 19, 2012

Pork chops Piccata

Here is the step-by-step pictorial how-to for the pork chops Piccata in the Nov'11 to Nov'12 photo-recap post :)

Dredge 4 pork chops with seasoned flour (salt and pepper, and for a little extra oomph and if you have it powdered loomi), and brown them on both sides in 2 tbsp of melted butter. The taste of butter makes a real difference here, so I really would not recommend oil.

Set the browned chops on a plate and add a finely chopped shallot in the same pan (with remaining butter and brown bits and juices) and cook until soft. This step will start to deglaze the juices from the pan.

Then add a half-glass of white wine (I used Pinot Grigio, which I also drank with the meal afterwards) and the same amount of chicken broth, a finely chopped clove of garlic and a half a cup of capers.

Once the pan is deglazed and the shallots and garlic are soft, put the chops back into the pan and cook all the way through (about 7-8 minutes).
At this point, the liquid will combine with the flour and thicken the sauce. If the sauce gets too dry before the pork is cooked, add a little chicken stock, 1 tbsp at a time. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon (fresh) into the pan right before plating.

Serve with starch of choice. I used a store-bought mix of quinoa and wild rice, but mashed potatoes, fresh pasta or plain rice would be fine too. If so inclined, you can also serve with green veggies such as green beans. I think that would work well with this dish.
Sprinkle a few parsley leaves and voila!

Bon appetit!


There's nothing like a thick and hearty soup to make you feel good on a crisp and sunny fall day.

I was in a cozy mood this weekend, and felt like eating a comforting bowl of soup for lunch, so I took a look inside my pantry and fridge and realized I had all the ingredients to make a Minestrone. Ish.

It may look complicated, with a lot of ingredients, but really, it is one of the simplest things to prepare. Here's how I did it.

INGREDIENTS (for 4-6 people, or just the 1 with tons of leftovers. Good news: you can freeze it!):
- a bunch of kale, leaves picked and coarsely chopped (can be substituted for spinach, or any kind of leafy greens you like)
- a small pack of salt pork (about 4oz) diced, skinned and trimmed off most of the fat (I only had this in the fridge, but would normally have used either pancetta or bacon)
- 3 medium sized carrots, diced finely
- 3 long stalks celery, diced finely
- 3 small potatoes (the waxy kind), diced finely
- 1 medium onion, diced finely
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 1 14oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 6 to 8 cups of liquid, such as vegetable broth or chicken broth (I mixed 4 cups of chicken broth and about 3 cups of water as I went along and realized it needed more liquid)
- 1 cup of small pasta
- a splash of olive oil


- in a deep soup pot, heat up the olive oil and brown the salt pork until almost cooked through

- then add the holy trinity of diced onion, celery and carrots. Cook on medium-high heat until the vegetables render some moisture and soften (about 3 minutes). This will deglaze the juices of the pork that may have started to caramelize in the pan. Make sure to scrape the pan as it goes with a spatula.

- add the potatoes and garlic, and cook on medium-high heat for another 5 minutes. Keep stirring to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

- finally, add the beans, tomato paste and broth. Stir everything really well, and bring back to a simmer.

- add the kale and cover the pan until the leaves wilt.

- add the pasta, and stir well. Cook until the pasta and vegetables are done (should take anywhere between 7 and 10 minutes, depending on the size of the pasta and how finely you diced the veggies)


Friday, November 16, 2012

Chili con carne


I've been in the mood for Chili con carne for about 3 years. It was about time I did something about it...
I was browsing the Food Network website a couple of weeks ago, in preparation for my bimonthly-ish culinary gathering of sorts, when a recipe caught my attention.

That was it! I was sold! This was going to happen... "This" was Guy Fieri's Dragon Breath Chili.

Seeing as my stomach lining is nowhere as heat-tolerant as Guy's, I substituted most of the hot peppers for bell peppers, adapted the spice-mix to whatever I had lying around in my pantry and omitted most of the hot sauce, chili powder and cayenne, preferring the slightly much safer option of post-cooking heat-customization :D


2 tablespoons granulated onion

2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander (I used a pestle and mortar, but if you have powder or a spice grinder it is better; those half-ground seeds can get really annoying in the final texture)
1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (not in the original recipe)
1 tablespoon crushed dried oregano (not in the original recipe)
3 teaspoons kosher salt
3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons bacon grease

2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, diced very finely
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 head garlic, grated 
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 28oz can of peeled tomatoes (I used Italian style because I had it in the pantry already, but plain is fine)
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • water (about 1-2 cups, just as needed to avoid getting too dry during cooking on day 1)
  • 12 ounces lager beer (used it to reheat on day 2)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 14oz cans pinto beans, with juice
  • 2 14oz cans kidney beans, with juice
  • 1 14oz can black beans, with juice

  • For garnish: 
  • Saltine crackers and corn chips
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely diced
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Liberal amounts of shredded Cheddar cheese
In large stock pot over high heat, melt butter and bacon grease.
Add the diced bell peppers, jalapeno, and onions and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute longer. Reserve in a bowl.

Add chuck meat to the pot and brown.
Add ground beef and sausage to brown and stir gently, trying not to break up the ground beef too much, when the meat is almost cooked all the way through, add the reserved sauteed vegetables back into the pot.
Add in the spice mix and cook for 1 minute. Add in tomato sauce and paste and stir for 2 minutes.
Stir in the chicken stock and beans. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.
If it is not wet enough, add some water. Let rest overnight in the fridge. 
Note: If you are preparing this chili on the day you are going to eat it, add the beer together with the chicken stock and forgo the water.

To reheat on day 2, stir in the can of beer and extra water if the chili has become too thick. Reheat on low heat for 30 minutes, or until the chili is warm evenly.

Serve with saltine crackers, a good dollop of sour cream and sprinkle liberal amounts of shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro and spring onions :)


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Nov '11 - Nov '12 photo-recap

Celeriac remoulade (dijon mustard, capers and gherkins in a homemade mayonnaise base)

Parsnip puree

Rustic Pork Ragout  (Used leftovers of Prunes and Pork stew in a homemade tomato sauce base, over rustic style pasta)

Cran-orange chocolate cheesecake (baked this for Thanksgiving '11, got the recipe from Julia at

Traditionnal Apple Pie (recipe in the Thanksgiving '11 issue of Food Network Magazine)

Citrus and Cranberry Sauce (mix and match recipe from various sources on internet)

Sweet potato puree

Cornbread, bacon, pecans stuffing (mix and match recipe from various sources on internet)

My Thankgiving dinner plate (Turkey was the Mix and Match Turkey with Rosemary-Lemon butter from Thanksgiving '11 Food Network Magazine; stuffed the turkey with a couple of lemons and rosemary sprigs too)

Chorizo, Kale and Beans soup (my own recipe)

Galette des rois

Sourdough loaf

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sourdough (my own recipe)

Apricot and peach cottage cheese parfait (recipe from Julia at

Chicken noodle soup (mix and match from various sources on internet)

Thai-style shrimp and lemongrass soup (from Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom)

Thai-style chicken green curry (my own recipe)

Pork chops Piccata, wild-rice and quinoa mix (my own recipe)

Tomato and basil quiche (recipe from the Baking Techniques class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts)

Epi Baguettes (recipe from the Baking Techniques class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts)

Rosemary and sage Focaccia (recipe from the Baking Techniques class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts)

Strawberry and Blueberry Jam (recipe on this blog)

Heirloom tomato salad and parmesan-bacon tuiles (Food Network magazine)

Gruyere cheese and Chives Gougeres (recipe from the Baking Techniques class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts)

Tomato paste

Tomato paste

Chorizo, Bosc pears and Mesclun salad; apple cider vinegar and hazelnut oil vinaigrette (my own recipe)

Mushroom and gorgonzola veloute (recipe on this blog)

Dinner rolls (recipe on Simply Scratch)