The weekend is upon us and I hope everyone has a wonderful one- whether you are out and about or staying in, relaxing, and taking some time to recharge. Just wanted to share some pain au chocolat I had made not too long ago and soon to be making some more again.
Pork chops are nice when you want a good meal but don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. They are also very nice because of the creativity and different styles of meals you can create with them. Personally I prefer the bone-in chops, think they have a more distinct flavor, but anything I post pertaining to chops can be done with the boneless version as well.
For this meal, I did a simple flour, egg, and then panko coating on both sides of the chops. I heated a pan with some oil and when that was heated up I threw on the chops and coked on both sides for about 5 minutes per side.
In the meantime, I boiled some pasta and separately the same thing with some asparagus. In a saucepan I made a sauce with some butter, heavy cream, some sharp provolone (grated it directly into the pan), squeezed half a lime, added some capers, and then some cracked pepper. When the pasta was done I drained out the water and then added in both the sauce and the asparagus.
This falls under the list of one of my favorite pastries I’ve had from growing up. I remember years ago when my grandfather was still around it was one his favorites so that desire got imparted onto me. The problem these days though is, where exactly in Southern New Jersey can you find a “legit” fresh version of one. Well, I haven’t come across one, so I did the next best thing…I consulted my Bouchon Bakery cookbook and started from square one.
Now, I am sure there are manyb recipes and ways of creating this pastry- for everything from how to make a nice laminated dough variations in making the cream(s). But, like anything else, if you want the best, you may have to put in quite a bit of time and effort.
The laminated dough concept is not too difficult to start up. There are some tricks and things to look out for. When doing the turns you want to make sure the dough is nice and solid as the butter block in the middle if it gets to soft will make it harder to fold and get the distinct layers you want when it bakes. Overall, the process is not difficult, but to do ir properly to “Bouchon perfection” takes quite a bit of time.
For the cream, which the end point is a nice mousseline cream, there are two bases- start off with a buttercream and also a pastry cream and then blend the two together. As it is something I had not necessarily seen in the grocery stores (I had purchased on Amazon) for the pastry cream go with using custard powder). Upon completion of blending these items, then spread out on a sheet pan and freeze the rectangular block.
After the dough is baked, it gets cut into strips which then the frozen cream is cut to fit and then it is alternating layers. Personal preference for topping, I made a fresh whipped cream as well as a nice chocolate-cream sauce.
After a long day, I wanted something a little different so I went with a grapefruit margarita. Since I had grapefruits in the refrigerator all I needed to do was juice one, add in the tequila, triple sec, squeezed half a lime, added in some ancho chili powder, and shook it with some ice. Added a nice gold sugar rim and was ready to drink.
Always a good combination, you can never go wrong with surf and turf. Its the best of both worlds- a nice steak and some really great seafood. There are so many ways of doing this as there are many types of steaks and everyone has there own preferences when it comes to seafood so this is what I came up with for the occasion- in this case Valentine’s Day as it is the one day of the year I would rather eat in then go out to an overly crowded restaurant. I prefer peace and quiet when I dine.
Start off with a nice lobster tail. Easy to cook/prep as all you need is some good old boiling water. Don’t forget in a separate bowl to melt some butter to dip it in as well 🙂
Now on to the steak. I like my filet steaks a tad thicker as they cook nicely and the juices stay in- less likely to dry out. Plus I just love cutting into a nice steak. I made a special addition to the turf side as I made a creamy-sherry sauce with sauteed bay scallops to top the steak. Overall a nice dinner presentation. Don’t forget the champagne.
For tonight’s dinner I went with one of my many meals I prepare ahead and freeze so that way it is quick and easy when I may be eating later or do not have a lot of time. In this instance, I went with Flank steak that was rolled with mozzarella and spinach leaves.
With the steak prepped ahead, all I had to do for it was place it in a stoneware dish (I had already threw in some oil and red wine for it to cook in) and then sprinkled some salt and pepper on top.
I had boiled the potatoes ahead of time and then used my mandoline to slice them. I then put them on an oiled sheet pan and placed in the oven when the meat was about halfway done. When the potatoes were close to being finished I pulled the tray out and sprinkled on some cheddar cheese and put back in the oven until melted. The broccoli I had steamed in a pot.
Well we had a nice few days of weather in the 50’s and 60’s (the snow all melted as well) and now we are at a point where its going back down into the 20’s and it seems like it will be quite cold for a while. It seems appropriate to go with some soup.
This first soup is a nice homemade chicken soup. The stock started off with a few quarts of water, lots of chicken bones with meat (used around 6 lbs.) and brought that duo to a nice simmer. Added in various vegetables later on in the process (carrots, celery, onion, garlic) and let it go for another 2 hours after that. With about an hour left I put in a satchet of various spices. Throughout the process I used a skimmer to remove the fat layer on top which in the end makes a nice clear stock. Overall, this amounted to about 5 quarts total, which has been used for this soup, another soup (later on in the post), other various dishes, and some is frozen for future usage. The nice thing is versus stocks/broths that you buy, for all the flavor in this there is no added salt- all the flavors of the chicken, vegetables, and aromatic spices.
To continue the soup, I started off with the stock, added some water and heated up. I tossed in some onion and garlic early on, had sauteed the chicken separately, cut into small pieces and tossed in. Around this time I added the vegetables (all cut and tossed in raw except the potatoes which I roasted first) and let the mix go for about 2 hours. With about an hour left I threw in pasta I cooked and drained separately and in the end a nice chicken noodle soup.
If you have eaten at The Olive Garden and have tried their Zupppa Toscana soup, this is reminiscent of that with some tweaks for personal tastes/preference. Starting off with stock and water, I diced up and tossed in both red and white potatoes. I let it simmer until they got soft and proceeded to mash them but only to the point where they were more or less small pieces not like a creamy mashed. I separately cooked sausage in a pan with some garlic and pepper and tossed into the stock pot. I proceeded to saute chanterelles, spinach leaves and collard greens in some olive oil and spices and tossed them into the mix. I then proceeded to boil some wild rice and tossed into the mix. With about an hour or so left, I added in some aromatic spices, shredded in some parmesan and skimmed the top before serving to make a nice clear broth.
Every so often I tend to get a craving for something I have not had in quite a while: could be due to scarcity of a product, seasonal/weather related issues (as in this case), or price/time constraints. I was in the mood for some baby back ribs, so despite cold winter weather, I created a nice indoor version.
A day ahead, I had made a marinade of brown sugar, soy sauce, ancho chili, and some soy sauce. I put the rubs in a ziploc bag and left in the fridge overnight until the next afternoon. I set the oven to 450 and prepped the ribs by placing them on cooling racks over a sheet pan. I then cooked them for 20 minutes with the curved side upwards.
In the meantime, the extra marinade I put in a small saucepan and added some fresh ginger, garlic, and a little corn starch. I then heated lightly until it started to boil, added in some ale and let simmer until it reduced to a nice consistency like bbq sauce. After the initial 20 minutes in the oven, I then took the rack out, basted the ribs on the same side and put back in for about 10 minutes. I then flipped the ribs over, coated the other side and cooked for another 15 minutes.
Nice sticky glaze, tender juicy ribs. A nice side of seasoned fries.
At the beginning of the month my older brother had turned 30. We had a nice little get together (had a surprise as my parents came down as well) and we had a nice little meal (crab stuffed shrimp, filet mignon, and a good amount of homemade Sangria, champagne, wine…). It all ended with a cake I had made. It is an Italian style cheesecake in 3 different sections: plain, chocolate glaze, and cannoli.
A nice meal consisting of a bacon wrapped filet topped with a nice wine-vegetable reduction. The asparagus was sauteed and then topped with some shredded parmesan. The sweet potato is twice baked- gets an initial baking as a whole then they get halved, gutted, make a nice whipped potato mix, spoon back into the skin and bake again. They are then topped with a simple bacon-sesame brittle.