I often hear from people that they just don’t have the time to cook. I tell them about some of the meals I make and they look at me quizzically and say “You cook like that all the time?”
Like you, I have my leftover or takeout nights. Heck, this past week I had a chips and salsa night. But good, gourmet quality meals don’t need to take forever to cook. They can be simple and effortless, yet still restaurant quality that will leave your friends wondering how in the world you do it all.
Like this recipe. It starts by marinating boneless pork chops in a mixture of bourbon, molasses and brown sugar overnight. An absolute must is to use a quality bourbon with a recipe like this. The marinating process allows the bourbon to impart a ton of flavor to the pork, so use a bourbon that you would also drink straight with no mixers. I’m partial to the Burnside Bourbon from Eastside Distilling, a local to me distillery. It’s smooth with notes of cinnamon and oak that infuse the pork chops in this dish with a wonderful flavor.
Once marinated, when I come home from work the next day, it only takes me about 20 minutes to turn those pork chops into an unforgettable meal. That’s right 20 minutes.
One of the key ingredients to this recipe is coconut oil. Cooking the pork chops in coconut oil adds a depth of flavor to the bourbon and molasses that simply makes the dish. Using a thick cut pork chop results in a nice amount of renderings left in the pan that makes for a nice base to then saute up a mixture of cut fresh carrots, apples, and rosemary. Of course the bonus is that I only use one pan which also makes for easy cleanup.
The rosemary is also an essential ingredient to this dish. First, just the smell of it cooking in the remnants of bourbon, molasses, coconut oil, and pork renderings leaves my mouth watering at the prospect of the food to come. But mostly the aromatic flavor adds yet another layer flavor of complexity to the bourbon, molasses, and coconut oil that completes the meal.
So you tell me. Why avoid cooking when it’s this easy?
Thick cut pork chops are marinated in bourbon and molasses then cooked to perfection and served on a bed of carrots and apples in this 20 minute wonder.
2 4-oz. boneless pork chops, thick cut
½ cup bourbon
2 tbsp black strap, unsulphured molasses
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp organic, virgin coconut oil
2 medium carrots, diced
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
¼ tsp coarse sea salt
Whisk together the bourbon, molasses, and brown sugar. Cover the pork chops with the bourbon mixture in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight, turning in the morning to ensure the chops are evenly marinated on both sides.
Heat the coconut oil in a skillet on medium high.
Remove the pork chops from the marinade, shaking off the excess and discarding the marinade. Add the pork chops to the skillet, reduce heat to medium.
Cook the pork chops for about 4 minutes on each side or until the pork is just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook or the pork will be too tough.
Remove the pork chops from the pan and place on a plate to let the juices set.
Add the carrots, apple, rosemary, and salt to the same pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Serve each pork chop on a bed of the carrot and apple mixture. Cut into that beautiful piece of meat and savor every bite!
The nutritional value of the marinade has been reduced by ¾ since the bulk of it is discarded.
There are few things in life more satisfying than when a meal and a wine come together in perfect harmony. Of course in my kitchen that means there are many satisfying dinners, but nonetheless I still get excited when I find the perfect wine for a recipe I’m crafting.
This week I bring you the Andrew Rich 2013 Sauvignon Blanc “Croft Vineyard” from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Best served chilled, it’s crisp with flavors of passionfruit and citrus that make me long for the warm spring sunshine. The long, bright finish lingers on the palate, delighting the tastebuds.
The grapes for this Sauvignon Blanc are 100% sourced from Croft Vineyards, an organic certified vineyard. Situated in a microclimate protected from harsh winds by the Pacific Coast range, Croft Vineyard nestles on a gentle slope in a deep, well-drained soil derived from sedimentary rocks. Grapes produced here are known for their outstanding flavor, color and balance.
I served this Sauvignon Blanc with my Tuna and Asparagus ala Niçoise. The crisp, brightness of the wine is perfect with a light meal such as this, bringing out the tart lemon and tangy dijon mustard flavors in the dressing. Together the two make for a perfectly delicious spring dinner.
One of my favorite things about spring? My neighborhood farmer’s market opens back up for the season and it’s bursting with fresh, local produce like asparagus. I adore these tender spears – lightly steamed and served with an aioli, roasted with lemon and parmesan cheese, or sauteed al dente with herbs and spices.
For this recipe, I used the latter technique. My inspiration was the Salade Niçoise, a traditional dish from the southeast of France. I love the tangy dressing and so I decided to recreate the flavors of the dressing as a marinade and dressing for the tuna and asparagus in this dish.
The dressing for the Salade Niçoise is flavored heavily by dijon mustard and lemon juice with a hint of worcestershire sauce that makes all the difference. I use half of the dressing as a marinade for a couple of albacore tuna steaks and the other half I toss with the asparagus and a sliced up shallot.
Now I hate doing dishes, so in the interest of containing the kitchen action to a single pan, I cook up the tuna first then, while it is resting, I saute the asparagus and shallots in the same pan. The secret to good asparagus is to not overcook it, I’m not sure there’s anything worse than stringy, mushy, overcooked asparagus. A mere 5 minutes or so in the pan is enough to cook the asparagus so that it still retains a bit of it’s crunch but is also cooked through.
Perhaps the best part of this recipe is that it cooks up in about 15 minutes, making it perfect for a busy weeknight. But then did I mention that the whole dish has less than 300 calories? That’s right, it’s not only delicious but it’s also good for the waistline. That’s just how I roll here in my kitchen!
After Juneuary and Febuly here in the Pacific Northwest, March has returned us to the normalcy of rain. I love waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of raindrops plopping on the roof, splattering against my window. I snuggle down into my blankets and the noise lulls me back to sleep.
There’s something about a rich, thick stew on a cool, rainy day that makes me feel warm and happy from the inside out. I love to dunk hot crusty bread in the broth, soaking the bread through with the flavor of the broth, and slowly savor it in my mouth.
I’m particularly fond of this recipe that combines the dark, chocolate flavor of a rich stout beer with sweet winter tangerines. I slow cook some chopped up beef bottom round roast with tender sweet potatoes, carrots, and chewy dried tomatoes for a bowl of deliciousness that is out of this world. It makes my mouth happy just thinking about the goodness to come from each bite.
The best part? This is truely a fix-it-and-forget-it meal. I simply marinate the beef overnight in the stout then throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning before I leave from work. When I come home from the office, all I have to do is mix in the tangerine juice and dig into a bowl. Home-cooking does not get any easier than this.
Last year I introduced you to a delicious Rose of Pinot Noir from Matello, and this week I’m happy to feature the recently released Matello Pinot Gris 2013.
The grapes for this Pinot Gris are sourced from small family owned vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, my home territory. The warm dry summers and cool falls here make it an excellent area for growing Pinot Gris, a white varietal that can be found throughout the valley.
Winemaker, and new dad, Marcus Goodfellow, crafts a consistently superb Pinot Gris that is bright and zesty with floral notes as well as pear, lime and a hint of minerality. This is a wine that is perfect with seafood, such as my Shrimp Stuffed Artichokes. The light citrus notes in the wine really pull out the flavors of sweet shrimp, lemon zest, and creamy ricotta cheese in the recipe.
The best part? The wine is a true bargain for its quality, retailing for between $14 and $17.
Spring has sprung with a vengeance in the Pacific Northwest. Here it is early March in Portland and temperatures are in the mid-to-high 60’s. Crazy!
And of course there’s me, with my leg still healing, unable to get out and hike my favorite trails in this beautiful weather. I am slowly getting mobile again, though, venturing out on my own for short strolls of the market. I always love to see the seasonal produce rolling in, and this time of year that means artichokes.
I love artichokes. My mom tells me they were my first food, so maybe that’s where my love affair with these meaty, leafy thistles began. I love them grilled, steamed, and stuffed, like I have here.
For this recipe, I made a stuffing of tender Oregon bay shrimp meat with some nutty whole wheat orzo, spinach, creamy ricotta and parmesan cheeses, and a touch of lemon zest to bring out some tang in the dish. I then stuffed the mixture into small globe artichokes, topped them with a little more parmesan cheese, and then baked them.
My favorite way to eat them? I like to use the leaves to scoop out bits of the stuffing into my waiting mouth. With a glass of chilled Pinot Gris on the side, of course. It’s absolute heaven on a warm, sunny spring day.
Fresh spring artichokes are stuffed with a mixture of tender baby shrimp, spinach, orzo and cheese for a delicious, seasonal meal.
4 small globe artichokes
¼ lb. baby shrimp meat
¼ dry whole wheat orzo, cooked according to package directions, drained and rinsed
½ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
¼ cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 oz. shredded parmesan cheese, divided
Trim the top and stems from the artichokes. Place top down in a steamer basket and place the steamer basket in a pot of boiling water so that it sits about 1” above the water. Cover and steam for 20 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the artichokes. Remove the steamer basket with the artichokes and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
In a medium bowl, mix together the baby shrimp, orzo, spinach, lemon zest, ricotta cheese, yogurt, thyme, basil, salt, pepper, and 1 oz. of the parmesan cheese.
Halve each of the artichokes lengthwise and use a spoon to gently scoop out the fuzzy interior of the artichoke and the very inner leaves, creating a hollow space in the artichoke half. Place the artichoke halves in a shallow baking dish, cut side up.
Scoop the shrimp mixture into the hollow of the artichoke half, evenly distributing the stuffing in each of the artichoke halves.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 oz. shredded parmesan cheese evenly over the stuffed artichoke halves.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is golden. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
This week I’m taking you to Spain. Not just anywhere in Spain, though, we’re going to Rioja.
Rioja is perhaps the most well known wine region in Spain, and deservedly so. Located in norther Spain near the Cantabrian Mountains, the region is isolated and protected from the sea winds by the mountains. Red wines from this area are primarily Tempranillo, although most blend in small amounts of other grapes such as Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and Mazuelo.
The 2009 Rioja from Viña Amézola is a well-balanced blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, and 5% Graciano. Smooth, fruity, and spicy, it’s a perfect pairing with my Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew. I love to use it in the stew as well, it creates a delicious, complex and rich broth for the creamy red potatoes and spicy chorizo chicken sausage.
Getting back into the kitchen after my injury has not been so easy. I find that even minimal effort leaves me with an aching ankle and as exhausted as if I had just completed a hard workout.
Thank goodness for my slow cooker.
I use my slow cooker this time of year for many a dish, but I’ve found myself using it more since I’ve been slowly getting back into the kitchen. I can set it in the morning, dinner is ready for me at the end of the day, and I have leftovers to keep me fed for at least a few more days.
This Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew makes some of my favorite leftovers. Rich red Rioja wine makes for a complex and tasty broth that swims with creamy red potatoes and spicy chorizo sausage. Chorizo sausage made from chicken lowers the fat and calorie content, making a great stew also good for you.
Bonus? The stew also freezes well. I like to ladle it into containers in individual serving sizes. Then it’s just a matter of popping the container into the microwave for a satisfying lunch or dinner.
What are you making in your slow cooker?
Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic and salt and cook until the onions are transparent.
Stir in the sausage and continue cooking until the sausage is cooked and crumbly and the onions are browned.
Add the red wine and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan, getting all the cooked bits off the bottom of the pan.
Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the contents into the slow cooker.
Stir the potatoes, tomatoes, broth and paprika into the chorizo mixture in the slow cooker.
Submerge the bay leaf in the stew, cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
Stir in the fresh cilantro and ladle yourself up a bowl of steaming deliciousness.
Rioja wine comes from the Rioja appellation in Spain and is made primarily from tempranillo grapes. The wines from this region are beautiful and worth seeking out. If you're looking for a domestic wine, though, seek out a tempranillo for this recipe.