Peachy Pork Chops

Pork, the other white meat, and I have never been friends because it only came to me in one way growing up, with cream of mushroom soup and white rice. I believe it was either the Tuesday or Wednesday meal in my parents house- nestled in between spaghetti night and leftover night. I swore I would never eat pork again, and then, I tried it at a restaurant, and fell in love again.

I decided to try to make a pork chop recipe at home after that one meal, and selected something that would allow me to use a jar of the peaches I had canned in the summer, along with a few other seasonal ingredients. I picked out the pork chops from the farmer's market, and let them thaw for a day. These pork chops were incredibly thick though, so it actually took two days to fully thaw.

The recipe originally came from Real Simple magazine, from which I occasionally cook. I love the simpleness of their meals; they test really great recipes that are quick for weeknight meals. One of the caveats that I ran into though in this recipe was the cooking time. As my pork chops were extremely thick, my cooking time doubled. However, the recipe was originally created for typical supermarket chops that are thinner.

All in all, I really enjoyed the peachy pork chops as they were sweet, yet salty enough to keep me wanting more. It was a great way for me to try out my first pork recipe!

Peachy Pork Chops
adapted from Real Simple

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 bone-in pork chops (3/4 inch thick; about 2 pounds total)
kosher salt and black pepper
2 peaches, cut into wedges- I used canned peaches from last summer
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Drizzle of Honey-I added this
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves-I omitted basil

Heat oven to 400° F.
Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
Season the pork with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add the peaches, onion, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper to the skillet and cook, tossing, for 1 minute.
Return the pork (and any accumulated juices) to the skillet. Drizzle with honey if you so choose.
Transfer to oven and roast until the pork is cooked through and the peaches are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the pork and peaches with the basil if you like


Sugar Raised Doughnuts

Every year, on Fat Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Dutch celebrate a farewell to sweets and treats by eating loads of fausnaughts, which are doughnuts to everyone else. The difference between a fausnaught and a typical doughnut, is the main ingredient, which happens to be mashed potatoes. The reason for this all out feast is to rid the home of items that are traditionally not be eaten during the Lenten season.

The Polish, also celebrate this day by eating their own version of the doughnut, which is aptly named the paczki (pronounced punch-kee). While not made with mashed potatoes, paczkis are stuffed with creams or jellies to make a breakfast treat even more delectable.

Being so far away from either of these cultures, I decided that this year, I would start the doughnut making tradition in my own house, however I did not follow the standard recipe. Instead, I chose this as the perfect opportunity to try out Joanne Chang's vanilla filled doughnuts from the Flour cookbook!

I was pretty nervous about frying up some dough as I had never fried anything before. Using canola oil, really had me distraught too, as I typically stick with olive oil for most recipes. Everything turned out perfectly fine though! Doughnut frying is not at all difficult, as long as you realize that you are not eating these for your health! I will most certainly be making them again, even though the oil does make your house smell like a carnival...

Also, I did not end up putting the vanilla cream in the middle, simply because my piping equipment broke. I made sure to use a lot of sugar to cover the outside of the doughnut, and put about 1/4 cup of additional sugar into the dough.

Vanilla Creme Doughnutsadapted from Flour --> This cookbook should definitely be added to your collection!


•1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
•2/3 cup milk, room temperature
•3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for baking sheet
•1 1/3 cups sugar (I added 1/4 cup more)
•2 teaspoons coarse salt
•3 large eggs
•7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
•Canola oil, for frying- at least 1 container
•6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 recipe, Pastry Cream

1.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, stir together yeast and milk; let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and eggs; mix on low speed until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Continue mixing on low 2 to 3 minutes more. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, mixing after each addition and until butter is fully incorporated and dough is soft, 5 to 6 minutes.
2.Remove dough from bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 15 hours (I kept mine in the refrigerator for 24 hours).
3.Lightly flour a baking sheet; set aside. On a well-floured work surface, roll out dough into 12-inch square about 1/2 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-to-4-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out 9 doughnuts. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until they've doubled in height and feel puffy and pillowy, 2 to 3 hours. I actually let mine rise overnight because my home is chilly.
4.Fill a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with oil to a depth of 3 inches; heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, place doughnuts in the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them. Fry until golden brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes; turn and continue frying on remaining side until golden, 2 to 3 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to a paper towel-lined baking sheet until cool enough to handle.
5.Place remaining cup of sugar in a small bowl. Toss doughnuts in sugar, one at a time, to evenly coat. Return doughnuts to paper towel-lined baking sheet to cool completely, 30 to 40 minutes.
6.Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in pastry cream; you should have 3 cups of filling. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip; set aside.
7.Poke a hole in the side of each cooled doughnut and fill with about 1/3 cup filling; serve immediately.

Pastry Cream

1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium-high heat until bubbles just start to form around the edges but milk is not yet boiling. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together sugar, flour, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks until well combined; slowly whisk in flour mixture until thick and pasty.
2.Remove milk from heat and slowly add to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer egg mixture to saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 3 minutes. Boil, whisking, for 10 seconds, and immediately remove from heat.
3.Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a small heatproof bowl; stir in vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.


Sauteed Chicken a la Julia Child

When I lived in the suburbs of Boston, I had joined a group called Slow Food. There are many chapters of this organization throughout the US and the world, and in Mass, there are at least 2 chapters that I know about. Slow Food is really a great group that focuses on "good, clean and fair food." They really are near in dear to my heart because I feel the same way.

Upon moving to Boston, I switched Slow Food chapters, and became involved with Slow Food Boston. This group is much more active due to a larger number of members and resources. Recently, one activity that I participated in was a potluck paired with a book club. We all were to read Fannie's Last Supper, by Chris Kimball. Chris happens to be well known for his magazine's, Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country. The book focused on Chris' desire to recreate a holiday meal of the Victorian era with all Fannie Farmer Recipes. You can read about my review of the book on the Edible South Shore Magazine website later this week.

We were to provide a dish for the potluck that was a recipe of the Victorian era if possible,and I was to provide an entree specifically. I scoured the Internet for Fannie Farmer recipes that did not involve oxtails and calves' brains, however, I fell short and ended up turning to my dear Julia Child cookbook. I figured she was as good a substitute as any because her recipes were referenced several times throughout Fannie's Last Supper.

I chose to make sauteed chicken, and substituted chicken thighs for a broken down chicken, due entirely to my lack of knowledge of how to break down a chicken (is there anyone that can teach me?). The recipe is pretty straight forward and involved lots of butter, but what Julia Child recipe doesn't? The chicken turned out better than I expected, as for the first time, I did not overcook it! This would make a great weeknight meal as the chicken takes roughly 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Paired with a few veggie sides, the meal would be fairly healthy too!

Julia Child's Sauteed Chicken

2 1/2 to 3 pound frying chicken parts or chicken thighs
2 to 3 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil,
or 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A big pinch of tarragon or thyme, optional

Optional deglazing sauce
1 tablespoon minced shallots or scallions
1/2 cup chicken stock (see Special Note)
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry
white French vermouth

Browning the chicken – about 5 minutes. Be sure the chicken is well dried or it will not brown properly. Set the frying pan over moderately high heat; add the oil and/or butter. When it is very hot but not smoking, lay in the chicken pieces skin side down. Turn the chicken after 3 minutes or so, allowing it
to color a fairly even walnut brown on all sides.

Finishing the cooking. Cover the pan, lower the meat to moderate. Baste the chicken pieces with the accumulated fat and juices in the pan; season the chicken lightly with salt, pepper, and optional herbs. Cover the
pan again and cook another 6 minutes. Turn the chicken, baste again, and continue cooking 7 to 8 minutes more, basting once again.
The chicken is done when the thickest parts of the drumsticks and thighs are tender when pressed, and when the juices of any piece of chicken pricked with a fork run clear yellow with no trace of pink –it should still be juicy.

Deglazing sauce Р3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces to hot plates or a platter. Rapidly spoon all but a tablespoon of fat out of the saut̩ pan.
Stir in the tablespoon of minced shallots or scallions and cook for a few seconds over high heat, stirring. Pour in the 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 1/2 cup
of wine, and boil, scraping up coagulated juices from the bottom of the pan; continue boiling and swirling the pan for a moment until the liquid has boiled down to about a 1/2 cup. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the sauce over the chicken, strew on the optional herbs, and serve as soon as possible.


St Patty's Day Sugar Cookies

St Patrick's Day for me, as I am not Irish, seems to always get lost in between fasnacht day and Easter for my heritage. However, this year I decided to be on the ball with it. Some might say proactive even!

I had seen a recipe that I wanted to try from Sprinkle Bakes involving spiral sugar cookies, and thought it would be perfect for St. Patty's Day. While I used her idea, I did not use her sugar cookie recipe, because we already have a favorite one in our house, and nothing compares.

To make the spiral cookies, you will need to first make a full batch of regular sugar cookie dough. When it is complete, divide in two, place one half in the refrigerator wrapped in saran wrap, and keep the other half in your mixing bowl, because you still need to add green food coloring! Drop about 10 drops of green into the dough, and mix on medium until fully incorporated. Depending on your desires, add more food coloring.

The rest of the recipe is easy, roll out both doughs and place one on top of the other, and roll together to create the spiral shape. To add sprinkles to the outside, I first had to add milk to the outer layer of the dough, and then dip in the sprinkles, otherwise they did not stay attached.

The cookies tasted like any other sugar cookie recipe, but they were much prettier! Try them out as I am sure they will impress your friends!

Spiral Sugar Cookies
adapted loosely from Sprinkle Bakes

Your favorite sugar cookie recipe- I used a BH&G sugar cookie recipe
Food Coloring

Mix together your sugar cookie dough. Divide in 2. Place one half in saran wrap in the refrigerator. Keep the other half in the mixing bowl. Add food coloring to your taste (I used about 10 generous drops of green). Place the colored dough in the refrigerator too. When the dough has been chilled for a about an hour, you can take it out and start rolling it out in rectangular shape. Roll both colors, and then place one on top of the other. Pinch together the ends, and roll into a spiral shape. You can either chill your dough again, or begin to cut the cookies. Roll the outer edge of the cookies in a thin layer of milk. Immediately dip in the sprinkles, and then place on cookie sheet. Once the cookie sheet is full, bake at the recipe's time and temperature. Remove from oven and enjoy!


Tagine Style Cooking

As Jack and I progress through the craziness of wedding planning, we continue to receive many doses of the reality of planning such a big event, specifically, the cost of the day! So, in order to help defray the cost, we have decided to really buckle down and start cooking even more than we already do.

Our big day of savings began on March 1, so we tried to purchase all big expenses before the dreaded day, and one of those buys, was a tagine from Le Creuset, my beloved brand. We are very fortunate because we live close to the outlets, and know one of the clerks extremely well. She always gives us a deal when we visit, and we are very thankful for that- except then we always feel bad and have to buy something... not that I mind!

So what is a tagine? It is a Moroccan method of cooking involving a conical shaped lid that sits over a cast iron dish. The shape of the lid allows steam to continually flow throughout the contraption, which makes all of the food very moist and delicious. There are plenty of recipes in which you can make using the tagine, but we chose to go vegetarian by making a Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato tagine.

The recipe involves many African spices such as Cumin and Cinnamon, which really make the dish both savory and sweet. The spices blend together with the steam that is created and allow it to flow throughout the entire tagine. The end result was absolutely divine. I loved cooking using this method, and will definitely continue to use it very often in the future.

Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Tagine
adapted from here

1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), washed well, peeled and cubed
1 lb of Sweet Potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
pinch of cayenne
2 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken broth)

1/2 cup raisins (I did not use them)
1 tablespoon honey or agave

Cilantro leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F. Chop the sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

In a tagine or skillet, heat the oil on MEDIUM until shimmery. Add the onion and let cook, stirring often, until beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and spices, cook for another minutes or two until fragrant. Stir in the broth, slowly at first, it will sizzle. Stir in the sweet potato and butternut squash cubes, top with raisins, if using, drizzle with honey. Cover and bake for an hour or until the vegetables are soft and aromatic but not mushy. (Check after 45 minutes) Remove the cinnamon stick, sprinkle with cilantro leaves, serve and savor.