Monday, January 16, 2017

Beer Braised Pot Roast

Funny how inspiration for a meal strikes you sometime. This one started with half a dozen bottles of beer that had been sitting in my fridge for six months - bottles of beer left by my kids during a visit last summer. Bottles of beer taking up space and needing to be used. Oh, I like the occasional beer on a hot summer's day, or even with chili in the winter, but I'm partial to a glass (or two) of wine most of the time.
So the beer needed to be drunk, or used in a recipe. And when I thawed this hunk of beef from the freezer, the light bulb went off. Why not make beef a la carbonnade - the classic Belgian beef stew with beer?
But instead of carving the roast into cubes, as in the traditional recipe, I wanted to leave it whole, and serve slices of beef in a rich gravy.
Start with a roast - this was a top round roast - not an especially tender piece of meat, but braising for three hours takes care of that. Season mightily with salt and pepper and sauté in olive oil until brown all over.
Remove the beef from the pan, then fry some bacon (always a good thing) in the same pan. Remove the bacon and the grease, then sauté some diced onions in butter until nearly golden. 
Put the beef and everything else in the pan. Cover and let it cook on low heat on the range for three hours. I would have just popped it in the oven for three hours instead of cooking it on the range, but I had a cake baking and couldn't disturb it.

The beef will have shrunk and you'll have lots of liquid with a fair amount of fat on the surface. Skim off as much as you can. Remove the meat and use a stick blender to make the sauce more homogeneous. It doesn't have to be a purée, but I didn't want to eat bites of once-crisp bacon that had now turned flabby. 
Besides, a smoother sauce caresses those noodles you'll serve it with oh-so-much better. 
If you prefer, serve it with mashed potatoes, or even rice.

Even after two dinners and one lunch, there was still plenty of leftover beef and gravy. How to refashion it into something new?
 Cut it into strips, add some sautéed mushrooms, then a little water and sour cream into the gravy and you've got a poor man's beef stroganoff.
Again, it's delicious over noodles (especially if they're home made.)
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Beer Braised Pot Roast

1 4-5 lb. top or bottom round roast
2 T. olive oil
salt, pepper
4 slices bacon, cut into large pieces
3 sweet yellow onions, diced (@3 cups)
6 cloves garlic
1 T. butter
2 c. beef broth
2 c. dark beer or amber ale
1 T. tomato sauce or tomato paste (I had some leftover in the fridge, but you can omit if you like)
a couple of bay leaves, rosemary sprigs and fresh thyme.

Use a sturdy, oven-proof pot.
Salt and pepper the roast heavily, then sauté in the olive oil until browned on all surfaces. Remove from the pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside, then drain the bacon grease. Sauté the onions and garlic in the butter until nearly golden. Add the meat back to the pot, along with the broth, beer, tomato sauce and herbs.
Cook at low heat on top of the stove for three hours, or in the oven at 325 for three hours.
Remove the meat from the pot, then using a stick blender, smooth out the sauce.
Slice the meat and serve with the gravy, over noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. 
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Monday, January 9, 2017

Spanish Flan

You've probably eaten Spanish flan before - crème caramel's kissin' cousin. So often it's too "eggy" tasting with no other flavor, or the texture's filled with too many holes. This recipe from Bon Appétit, however, gets it just right. 
The flavor is rich in vanilla and cream, but not too heavy. The texture is silky and practically melts in your mouth, and the caramel sauce oozes all over this luscious custard.
I added a topping of a Spanish confection called "turrón" - an almond candy that comes in many textures - from a crumbly one I bought at a local Spanish restaurant/store, to a hard-as-rock one that's similar to the Italian torrone. It's totally unnecessary, but adds another texture to the smooth custard. 

This flan was the sweet finale to a delightful evening spent with my book club (and husbands) discussing a book set in Spain (The Telling Room) and noshing on tapas and Spanish wine.

And because you can't have too much beauty in your life, here are a couple more photos of paintings of one of my favorite artists - the Spanish impressionist Joaquin Sorolla.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, many of his works are on view at The Hispanic Society of America, in New York City, but the museum closed for renovations starting January 1, 2017. If you're interested in seeing more of his work, but can't get to Spain (where you can visit his actual studio), or don't want to wait two years or more until the renovation is complete, click here for a link to more information about the painter and photos of his work: 

Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Spanish Flan

The recipe calls for individual flans. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a large ring mold, placing it in a water bath, or "bain marie" and baking for 40 minutes.

From Bon Appetit magazine May 1992
printable recipe here

1 3/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk (do not use low fat or nonfat)
pinch of salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 large eggs
2 large yolks
7 tablespoons sugar

      1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine cream, milk and salt in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into cream mixture; add bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.
      2. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in another heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Quickly pour caramel into six 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Using oven mitts as aid, immediately tilt each ramekin to coat sides. Set ramekins into 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
      3. Whisk eggs, egg yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl just until blended. Gradually and gently whisk cream mixture into egg mixture without creating lots of foam. Pour custard through small sieve into prepared ramekins, dividing evenly (mixture will fill ramekins). Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.
      4. Bake until centers of flans are gently set, about 40 minutes. Transfer flans to rack and cool. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)
      5. To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. (I also put some hot water in the sink and let the metal ring mold sit in the hot water for about 30 seconds to loosen the caramel. Don't let it get inside the mold. You won't succeed in loosening all of it however. Much of it will remain inside the mold.) Turn over onto plate. Shake gently to release flan. Carefully lift off ramekin allowing caramel syrup to run over flan. Repeat with remaining flans and serve.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Spanish Tortilla and Sorolla

If you've never had a Spanish tortilla, then dispel any thoughts of the thin, flat disk that's served with enchiladas and  tacos in Mexico and Central America.
A Spanish tortilla is more closely related to an Italian frittata, but there are differences there too. Whereas a frittata is usually puffy and light from the eggs, a Spanish tortilla is densely filled with potatoes, and the eggs are merely what holds it all together.
A Spanish friend of mine made one for me decades ago, and I never tried to make one myself until a couple of weeks ago, when my book club met over an evening of Spanish tapas and talk. 
We gathered (with husbands this time) to talk about "The Telling Room," a book set in Castile, Spain, about a cheesemaker and a feud over an expensive cheese called Páramo de Guzmán.
Naturally, we had to search for the cheese, and I found it for sale at La Tienda, an online store selling Spanish foods..
It wasn't made in an artisanal way, as originally created by the protagonist in the book, but as with the original cheese, it's made from sheep's milk in the Castile region (Guzmán) of Spain, has a sharp flavor and is preserved in a tin filled with olive oil. 
Aside from the tortilla, other Spanish wines and foods filled out the menu for the evening, including olives, garlic shrimp, chorizo, jamon de Serrano, manchego cheese and quince paste, and homemade olive bread. 

But back to the tortilla. You start by cooking potatoes and onions in olive oil - a lot of olive oil. Use good quality extra virgin olive oil, since it's an integral part of this dish. I used extra virgin olive oil from Casale Sonnino, made by my friends George and Claire Treves. 
At a certain point, you remove most of the oil and cook the eggs and potatoes together. They will look slightly like scrambled eggs. Keep shaking the pan to prevent sticking on the bottom.
The whole thing goes into the broiler to brown the top, and then gets flipped over.
It's great eaten hot, warm, or even at room temperature, which is why it makes the perfect do-ahead food for a night of tapas, or to take on a picnic.

We finished the evening with a Spanish flan for dessert, the subject of my next blog post.
But while we're on the subject of Spain, I must share a few photos with you of the work of a too-little known Spanish artist named Joaquín Sorolla.
His work can be found in Spain, of course, but also at the Hispanic Society of America in New York, a much under appreciated, under visited museum in the northern reaches of Manhattan. The museum was founded in 1904 by the stepson of a railroad magnate, Archer Huntington.
The museum and library contain rare books, letters and documents pertaining to Spanish and Latin American culture, in addition to a stunning collection of decorative arts and paintings.
 I have visited the museum several times in the last forty years since first finding out about it, and even though Velazquez, El Greco and other Spanish masters are represented there, I am always mesmerized by the Sorolla paintings.
The photos below are panels from his mural series depicting the various provinces of Spain, painted expressly for the museum in the early part of the last century.
Sorolla is a master of depicting the light, as you can see below in these glorious examples below.
Enjoy the photos, because it'll be a while before the public can view the real paintings again in person. The museum closed on January 1, 2017 for a two to three year renovation,
A portion of the murals that cover four walls.
Seville: The Dance
Ayamonte - The Tuna Catch
Castile - The Bread Festival
Galicia: The Cattle Fair
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Spanish Tortilla
from Bon Appetit magazine September 2012
printable recipe here

8 servings

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, quartered, thinly sliced
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 large eggs, beaten to blend

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, and salt. Use a heatproof spatula to coat potatoes with oil. When oil begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium low and cook, turning frequently, until potatoes are tender but not browned, 20-25 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes and onion to a large heatproof bowl. Add eggs and stir gently to combine; do not break up potatoes. Strain oil into a glass measuring cup; wipe out skillet.
Heat 3 tablespoons reserved oil from measuring cup in skillet over medium high heat. Add egg-potato mixture and cook, stirring constantly but gently to keep potatoes intact until eggs begin to set (eggs will look scrambled), about 2 minutes. Spread mixture in an even layer; reduce heat to medium low. Preheat broiler to high. Cook tortilla, shaking pan occasionally to prevent it from sticking, until eggs are nearly cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until top of tortilla is just cooked, about two minutes.
Remove from oven. Invert a large plate over skillet. Using oven mitts (skillet and potatoes will be very hot; use caution), hold plate firmly over skillet and flip, releasing tortilla onto plate. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours before serving.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Pandoro Zuppa Inglese and Alkermes

 Pandoro is a staple in Italian households at holiday time, along with its cousin, Panettone. Unlike panettone, pandoro has no raisins or candied fruits, and is typically served with a dusting of powdered sugar.
But with all the cakes, cookies, candies and ice cream eaten in our household in the last week, there is still plenty of Pandoro to be eaten. 
If you're like me and have leftover pandoro, here's a way to use it up - a zuppa inglese - a classic Italian dessert whose name translates to "English soup," although it's not at all a soup, but more of an English trifle. The words "pan d'oro" mean golden bread in Italian, and it's easy to see why once you slice into the egg-rich confection.
Zuppa Inglese is typically made with sponge cake and layers of pastry cream. The cake is usually sprinkled with Alkermes, an aromatic red liqueur that's used in Italian desserts and as a digestivo. 
Recipes for Alkermes date back to the Renaissance, and generally contain a variety of spices including cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, along with rose water and other ingredients. Its scarlet red color is derived from a small parasitic insect called kermes, or cochineal. These are parasitic insects growing on paddles of prickly pear cactus in Mexico and Central and South America. They look like a white fungus on the prickly pear paddle, but when when scraped off, give off a brilliant red color. On a trip to Peru earlier this year, I saw the insects first hand, and observed Incan women dying fabric using coloring made from the insects after they were dried and ground.
Here in the U.S., it's nearly impossible to find alkermes (sometimes spelled alchermes) but the last time I was in Florence, I brought some back from the Santa Maria Novella Farmacia, one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, dating back to 1221, and well worth a visit. 

The farmacia has expanded its product line to include perfumes, soaps and other items, but still makes alkermes, using the same recipe since 1743. 
The company now has branches all around the world, including one in New York City, but alas, alkermes can't be bought there.
If you can't get to Florence, Italy, you can always try making your own alkermes. Francine Segan has a recipe in her book "Dolci," (using red food coloring, not cochineal insects). Email me if you'd like that recipe. Or use a combination of kirsch and the liquid from maraschino cherries. It won't taste the same, but it's a pleasant substitute and it will be the right color.
Anyhow, to assemble the zuppa inglese, make some chocolate pastry cream and some vanilla pastry cream. I "cheated" and used a box of instant chocolate pudding, to which I added some rum, and a box of instant vanilla pudding, to which I added some whipped cream.
Place the chocolate pudding on the bottom of large glass bowl, followed by a layer of the pandoro (or sponge cake or savoiardi biscuits.) Sprinkle the pandoro with the alkermes, then cover with  the vanilla pudding/whipped cream mixture, followed by another layer of pandoro and more alkermes. 

Whip some heavy cream, spread it over the layers and top with sprinkles. Grab a spoon and dig in.

For more recipes using pandoro, click here for a Pandoro "Christmas tree",
 here for a zuppa inglese "alla Napoletana,"
and here for a fruity zuccotto.

Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Pandoro Zuppa Inglese with Alkermes

1 large Pandoro cake (or sponge cake or savoiardi biscuits)
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1/4 cup dark rum
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 pint whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
alkermes (I diluted it slightly with a simple sugar syrup made by boiling some sugar with water)

Mix the packaged instant pudding according to directions on the box (or make pastry cream from scratch.) Add the rum to the chocolate pudding. Whip the 1/2 pint of cream with the sugar, and fold 1 cup of the whipped cream to the vanilla pudding. Save the rest for the top.
Slice the pandoro cake. Place the chocolate pudding on the bottom of a large glass bowl and cover with slices of the pandoro (or sponge cake or savoiardi biscuits.) Sprinkle alkermes on top, then cover with the vanilla pudding. Place more slices of pandoro on top of the vanilla pudding and sprinkle with more alkermes.
Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and decorate with colored sprinkles.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Snowflake Pasta

During a recent visit to Williams-Sonoma, I spotted bags filled with this snowflake (fiochi di neve) pasta and knew it would be perfect for this holiday season.
  I have a weakness for pasta shapes, and there are always at least five or six different kinds in my cabinet.
There are umpteen ways you could dress this pasta, but I thought it deserved a festive red and green treatment with Christmas just around the corner. Using just what I had in the fridge and freezer (part of a red pepper, half a bag of peas, some ricotta and parmesan cheese), dinner was on the table in the time it took to boil the pasta.
Of course, you can make this recipe with any pasta shape, but the snowflakes are just so apropos for this time of year. If you do use this snowflake pasta, with this recipe or any other (click here to buy it) take a photo and email it to me. I'd love to see your creation.
Buon Natale!

Christmas Snowflake Pasta
printable recipe here
makes two very generous portions

8 ounces (half a bag) snowflake pasta (available from Williams Sonoma)
1/2 to 3/4 of a red pepper (about 1/2 cup), diced
about 3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
salt, pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
pasta water
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
minced parsley

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until almost done. It will cook a little longer in the sauce. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Sauté the onion and pepper at low to medium heat in the olive oil until softened. Add the frozen peas and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes, if desired.
Using a slotted spoon or "spider" tool, drain the pasta right into the pan with the peas and red peppers. It's ok if some of the pasta water gets into the pan too. In fact, you'll need to reserve about a cup of the pasta water for this recipe. You may not use all the water - maybe only half of it - but it's good to have it on hand.
After draining the pasta into the red peppers and peas mixture, add spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese and some of the reserved pasta water. Stir and blend everything together. You want it to be moist, not dry, and you may need to add more pasta water as the pasta continues to absorb it. Keep stirring in the rest of the ricotta and pasta water (at low heat)  until you have the desired consistency - not soupy, but not dry either). Turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, leaving some to serve at the table. Sprinkle with a little minced parsley and serve.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2016


If you've ever been to a Christmas eve or Christmas day feast at the home of Italians or Italian-Americans who hail from Southern Italy, struffoli - fried dough balls bathed in honey and covered with sprinkles - are sure to appear at dessert time.
They'd also be perfect for the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, which features fried foods and whose first night coincides with Christmas eve this year.
I didn't grow up eating these, but my friend Lily, who is from Salerno (near Naples), introduced me to this Neapolitan treat years ago.
Last year, my father brought them for dessert following our fish extravaganza on Christmas eve.
He followed a recipe from Lidia Bastianich's book, "Lidia's Italy in America."
What's on your dessert table this holiday?

Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

recipe from Lidia Bastianich's "Lidia's Italy in America"

serves 8 to 10
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 T. sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 t. cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2 T. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups honey
vegetable oil, for frying
sprinkles, for garnish

Pulse together the flour, 1 T. sugar, the lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon and salt in a food processor. Whisk together the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl. Pour the egg mixture into the food processor with the motor running, and then drop in the butter pieces. Process until a smooth dough forms, about 30 seconds. Knead the dough on the counter a few times, then wrap in plastic and let rest at room temperature at least one hour.

Make the syrup: Combine the honey, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in a medium skillet over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until syrupy, about 6 to 7 minutes.

In the meantime, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a pot or straight-sided skillet to about 365 degrees F., or until a piece of dough sizzles on contact. Pinch off a golf-ball sized piece of dough, and roll into a rope about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the rope of dough into pieces the size of a hazelnut and roll into balls. Repeat until all the dough is used.

Fry the struffoli in batches until puffed and golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Drain on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining struffoli.

Toss the struffoli in the hot honey syrup, in batches, as many at a time a you can fit without crowding. Roll the struffoli in the syrup until well coated, then scoop them up with a slotted spoon or strainer, and drain off the excess syrup. Stack the struffoli in layers on a plate to form a cone, or circle, sprinkling each layer with the sprinkles as you stack. Repeat until all the struffoli are coated in the honey syrup and covered in sprinkles. Drizzle the completed stack of struffoli with any remaining syrup, if you wish.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cranberry Orange Spice Bundt Cake

 I'm not sure why I don't make bundt cakes more often because they're delicious, easy to put together and serve a lot of people. With the holidays approaching, and my Italian chit-chat group meeting at my house yesterday, I was inspired to dig out this Christmas tree bundt pan from my basement, given to me by a friend a few years ago. 
I scoured the internet to find a festive recipe for it and landed on this one from Williams Sonoma's website.
 It's studded with a streusel interior made from dried cranberries simmered in orange juice, pecans and brown sugar. As if that weren't enticement enough, the moist cake is perfumed with spices and orange peel and brushed with a drizzle of sweetened orange juice. 
Ready to try it?
 You don't have to use a pan with a Christmas tree design - any Bundt pan will do. Or even a loaf pan. But if you've got one of these, finish it off with a dusting of powdered sugar and decorative candies, like these m&m's.
You'll be wishing for snow covered trees the whole year through.

Cranberry Orange Spice Cake


For the cranberry streusel: 

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans 

For the cake: 

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon 
  • 2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter 
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 2 Tbs. grated orange zest 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 3/4 cup milk 

For the glaze (optional): 

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Grease and flour a holiday tree Bundt® pan; tap out excess flour.

To make the streusel, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries and orange juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the cranberries. Transfer to a small bowl, add the brown sugar and pecans and stir to combine. Set aside.

To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and orange zest and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spoon one-third of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with half of the streusel. Repeat the layering, then spoon the remaining batter on top. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the orange juice and granulated sugar. Heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Tap the Bundt® pan gently on a work surface to loosen the cake. Set the rack over a sheet of waxed paper, invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan.

Using a pastry brush, brush the warm cake with the glaze. Let the cake cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving. Serves 16.

From Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Meyer Lemon

It's the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., and hopefully you've got some good soup stock simmering on the stove, made with the leftover carcass from all that turkey you gobbled down yesterday. 
 This recipe, from Domenica Marchetti's "Rustic Italian" cookbook, is just the antidote for turkey overload.
These garlicky-lemony pork chops are so succulent, you'll be tempted to gnaw the bones down to the last morsel -- not to mention swiping and swishing some crusty bread through that luscious sauce in the pan. I can't blame you since that's just what we did.
Start by sautéing thinly sliced garlic and fresh bay leaves (or dried) in olive oil.
Remove them and set aside, then brown some lemon slices in the oil. Then remove the lemon slices while you put in the pork chops.
Season and brown the pork chops, then put the garlic, lemon and bay leaves back in. Add a splash of white wine and lemon juice and cook until done.
A lot of people complain that pork chops are too dry, but that's mostly because they're cooked too long. Cook just until the meat feels springy, and there's some "give" to the meat.
Here's another way to test doneness. Make a fist. The pork chop should sort of feel like the piece of flesh at the base of the thumb where it attaches to your hand (before the thumb reaches the wrist).
 If the pork chop is a teensy bit pink, it's ok.
Don't cook it too long, or you'll be eating a hard, overcooked piece of meat.

The herbal and lemon flavors blend so well in this recipe, and it was so easy and quick to make, I'll be coming back to this one again and again. Thanks Domenica.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Meyer Lemon
(Costole di Maiale in Padella)
From Domenica Marchetti's "Rustic Italian" cookbook
printable recipe here

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
4 fresh bay leaves, or 6 dried bay leaves
2 Meyer lemons, 1 thinly sliced and 1 halved
4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops, 6-8 oz. each
(I used 2 very thick pork chops that weighed 1.5 lbs. total)
1/2 cup dry white wine 

fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat the olive oil, garlic and bay leaves over medium-low heat. Sauté until the garlic is lightly golden and the oil is infused with the aroma of garlic and bay leaf, about 5 minutes. Transfer the garlic and bay leaves to a plate and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the lemon slices. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the plate with the garlic and bay leaves.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Arrange in the pan and raise the heat to medium high. Sear until nicely browned on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Turn the chops and cook until browned on the other side, 2-3 minutes longer. Since my two pork chops were very thick, I decided to add some white wine at this point to Domenica's recipe to help them cook more quickly. Let the wine boil down for a minute. Squeeze the lemon halves over the chops and turn to coat them with the juice. Return the garlic, bay leaves and lemon slices to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook (with a lid, if the chops are very thick, as mine were) until the chops are cooked through - 3-4 minutes longer. The pork chop should spring back but still feel tender if gently pressed with a finger, and the center should be very slightly pink.

Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter and spoon the pan juices, along with the lemon slices, over the top. Serve right away.

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