Author: Canapes and Chocolate

Thin Pork Chops with Buttermilk Gravy

Thin Pork Chops with Old Fashioned Buttermilk Gravy

We all remember eating tough pork chops as a kid since Moms would deliberately overcook them to ensure nobody got sick from undercooked meat.  Consequently the chops would be bone dry, impossible to cut even if using a steak knife, and when it came to chewing, well imagine a tiny Chihuahua trying to eat peanut butter and you get the picture.  Don’t get me wrong, my Mom was a great cook, but pork chops were every Mom’s nemesis in those days.  Thankfully times have changed and you can buy thinly sliced pork chops that turn out tender, juicy, and full of flavor if prepared the right way.  What once took 90 minutes to prep and cook, now can be done in under 20 minutes.  The perfect recipe for dinner when you don’t have tons of prep time but still want a full-flavored home cooked meal! Ingredients: 4 thin pork chops Olive Oil 2 cloves garlic 1 cup low sodium chicken broth 2 cups buttermilk 1/2 cup flour 1/2 tsp Onion Powder 1/2 tsp paprika Kosher …

Chicken with Cognac and Mushroom

Sunday dinner features chicken more often than not.  This afternoon I watched The Hundred-Foot Journey, a movie starring Manish Dayal which tells the story of an East Indian start-up restaurant right across the street (exactly One Hundred Feet) from a Michelin-starred French restaurant owned and operated by Helen Mirren.  A cute movie that made me want to cook some delicious Indian food right then, even though I don’t have a clue how to do it, nor do I have their amazing spices.  It did motivate me enough to get off the couch and make something traditional and tasty for Sunday dinner.  And yet….I have a feeling there will be Indian cooking lessons in my future! Ingredients: 4 whole legs (leg and thigh) 12 large cremini mushrooms, sliced 3 Tbls Cognac 3 Tbls unsalted butter 1 Tbl flour 1 Tbl olive oil 2 garlic cloves, minced Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper 1.5 cups chicken broth (low sodium) Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees On medium high heat, add olive oil to non-stick frying pan …

New Year Resolutions for my kitchen

I haven’t made a list of resolutions for the New Year in a very long time (like 25 years!).  Not all resolutions have to be aimed toward deprivation or total elimination of a food or a habit to be successful.  I have created a list that I intend to focus on for the first quarter of 2016.  Then each quarter I will revise/cut as needed –  my list is only 6 items long but feel they are manageable, which is important for my success. Here goes.. Use more fresh vegetables and fruits in every meal – (move the canned goods out to the garage and place in my disaster kit.)  And a good time to rotate the bottled water into the house to use and buy a fresh supply of bottled water for the kit. Grow and use my own herbs – I hate spending $4 every time I need a little fresh rosemary or thyme in a recipe. This is my new herb garden that I started in mid-November (a great investment).  See here on Amazon to order. Cut way …

Creamy Hash Browns

Happy New Year Friends!  Am just finishing up a lovely break of 10 days off before returning to work tomorrow.  Breakfast had to be special this morning so I made a batch of Creamy Hash Browns.  You start with fresh shredded potatoes in a pan on the stove and finish in the oven.  Add whatever spices/herbs you like – I used fresh parsley and chives as I now have an herb garden in my kitchen and these herbs were plentiful.  To finish this dish you add a baked egg and small spoonful of black caviar.  A great way to start 2016! Ingredients: 2 russet potatoes, shredded 2 whole eggs 3 Tbl heavy cream 1 Tbl chopped chives 1 Tbl chopped parsley 1/2 tsp black caviar Paprika Kosher Salt Method: Shred the potatoes or use packaged shredded hash browns from the store (usually found near the eggs.)  Add potatoes to a bowl and add cream, chives, pinch of salt, parsley.  Mix and pour into a non-stick pan.  Brown on one side, flip and brown the other …

Goat Cheese and Kalamata Olive Crostini

When I think of Weekend Football, hearty appetizers come to mind.  To me a good-sized piece of crostini is like eating a mini sandwich.  Except you get to see what you are eating and I fill up quickly on just 3 or 4 of these – okay maybe 5 or 6, cuz I like them. I have a reputation for not being able to keep anything green alive (although green happens to be my favorite color).  I purchased one of those bags of fresh “living” basil that has roots and dirt attached and sits in a plastic bag.  This I knew would not be difficult to keep alive so quickly brought it home and placed it in a tall glass on my kitchen window ledge.  Needless to say I was pretty self-satisfied that I had a “live” plant that I could count on being around for a couple of months or so.  I didn’t realize I was supposed to take it out of the plastic and water it weekly. I went to get some fresh …

French Bread Pudding Soufflé with Grand Marnier

Days of fresh fruit desserts and long hot summers are gone and Fall has definitely arrived.  Loving it!   Time to switch gears and make warm, cozy desserts and a bread pudding soufflé makes that request easy to fulfill.  You can use all types of bread for this (Challah, Italian, Brioche, or any artisan-style bread) but I prefer to use to be traditional Sour Dough French Bread which adds a more acidic and tangy taste to the desert. It also helps to make the bread pudding rise similar to a soufflé, but without all that extra work and worry associated with it.  Same flavors, but a different texture from a bread pudding recipe where you end up with a very dense, moist pudding – this is light and airy, and lovely.  Make sure whatever bread you choose, that it should be at least a day old (up to a week).  Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top, set a bowl of freshly whipped cream on the side, and you are ready for a lovely, cozy, dessert to enjoy cuddled up …

Steak and Pappardelle Ribbon Skillet Pie

Sundays and Comfort Food frequently go hand-in-hand, at least in my kitchen.  This skillet pie is relatively easy and only takes about 20 minutes prep time, with another 10 minutes in a hot oven so all the flavors meld together.  I prefer my steak to be medium rare, so the steak is quickly browned on the stove before adding to the pie, and then finished off in the oven.  Don’t overbake or the steak will be tough. Ingredients: Olive oil 1 lemon 6 large mushrooms, sliced 1/2 yellow onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, diced 1 cup grape tomatoes 2 cups sour cream 3 sprigs of Thyme 1 tsp Kosher salt 3 Tbl cognac 4 thin NY steaks 1 cup shredded medium cheddar cheese 1 can whole water chestnuts, cut into 1/4 Method: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Boil water and cook noodles per package directions in salted water.  I prefer to use Pappardelle noodles, which are flat ribbons of pasta you buy either fresh or dried (I used dried).  While the noodles cook for 10 minutes, add a small …

Filet Mignon with Shallot Garlic Butter Buttons

Filet Mignon, considered the king of steaks and once relegated as a cut of beef only consumed on special occasions because of price, has now crossed over to the “healthy” side of beef and consumed in  larger quantities by steak lovers, since it has little to no visible fat.  It is the most tender steak you can buy, but unfortunately not always the most flavorful. Because of that I have moved up the flavor a couple of notches by adding the herb butter buttons on top, along with a slight hint of Rosemary at the end.  Makes for a flavorful and tender bite! Ingredients: Two 4 oz filet mignons Olive Oil Hawaiian Salt Fresh chives, chopped 1 cube butter 4 cloves of garlic 2 medium shallots, sliced 4 sprigs of Rosemary Parchment Paper Method: 1. Take filet steaks from refrigerator and let them sit out for about 20 minutes – heat oven to 400 degrees at same time. 2. Remove skins from shallots and garlic and put in a garlic cooker or tin foil and pour olive oil on top – put in oven 20-30 minutes till golden …

Roasted Acorn Squash with Cognac Glaze

I found a new cooking pal this week Tiffani Thiessen, on the Cooking Channel’s “Dinner at Tiffani’s”, her new show. You probably remember her from the 90’s sitcom, Saved by the Bell.  Well she is all grown up, married with a 5-year-old daughter and another one on the way.  And she is gorgeous, as is her husband Brady Smith.  She invites celebrity friends over for dinner and they catch up in the kitchen as friends do while cooking.  Most of the cooking is done by Tiffani, but then it’s her show and she is the chef.  And a pretty good chef at that.  I did a little half-day “marathon” and watched all five episodes so far and cooked at least one recipe from each show, which is something I have not done before. But, you kinda feel you have to when you see her recipes and realize you can cook something great in a short period of time.  Her food looks amazing and when she and her friends sit down to eat, you really, really, really wish you were there …

Deconstructed: Beef Wellington Bites

I love Beef Wellington, but let’s face it, it can be complicated (getting the puff pastry wrapped around the tenderloin can be equal to the first time you tried to diaper a squirming baby).  It also takes a boatload of time to prepare, so I usually make it only on a holiday or special occasion. How sad – that’s like only using your “good” china and glassware at Thanksgiving, and we ALL know that has become a “No, No” since you never know if you will still be here for that next special occasion. I decided to deconstruct the traditional recipe and make it a new and easier way without compromising the flavors.  This recipe still has the same flavor profile (beef, pâté, mushrooms, onion, sherry) but now I can make and serve it in around 30 minutes instead of 2.5 hours.  When I prepared the steak I used Hawaiian salt to season it.  Until about a month ago I had never used the stuff (even though I had a package of it in my …