Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some Favorites from BP (Before Pregnancy)

As I said in the famblog, I'm feeling about ten percent better these days. That means that I still feel like a parasite-infested, flu-bitten, over-stuffed automaton most of the time. But there are moments, however fleeting they may be, when I actually feel like a person.

So. . . during some of those "nearly normal" moments, I'm going to post some of the recipes and pictures that got sucked into the pregnancy vortex. (If you've seen Marie lately, you can see how much younger she looks in this picture from August!) We served the pork chops and gratin with Eric's grandmother, Babonne's recipe for sautéed green beans. I don't actually have a recipe because she never wrote it down, but I watched her make them and tried to copy her with as much respect as I could. I'll post that one later if I have another good minute or two. The nausea is coming back. . . ick.

These recipes might seem a bit hotsy-totsy, but they are much easier than they sound or look! They are definitely worth trying! All three are from Willams-Sonoma. . . mouth. . . starting. . . to. . . water. What was I saying? Not to be inappropriate, but that magazine is like my food-porn.

Balsalmic Quick Braised Pork Chops

4 bone-in pork chops, each 1 inch thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 Tbs. olive oil

4 bacon slices, diced

1 red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 garlic clove, minced

2 Tbs. firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tsp. chicken demi-glace (I just used a fancy chicken bouillion.)

Fresh rosemary leaves for garnish


Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pork chops and sear, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. 

In the same pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion and partially cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is caramelized and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, thyme and bacon. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the broth and demi-glace and bring the sauce to a simmer. 

Return the pork chops to the pan. Cook, uncovered, coating the chops with the sauce, for 10 to 12 minutes. Garnish with the rosemary leaves and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Potato Leek Gratin

5 Tbs. unsalted butter

4 lb. leeks, white and light green portions, rinsed well, cut into 1/4-inch rings

1 1/2 Tbs. kosher salt

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 cup heavy cream

6 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated (I just have to use Swiss because that's all that roly-poly little Rexburg offers)

3 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

3 lb. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices

3 Tbs. minced fresh chives (optional)

In a 12-inch nonstick fry pan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbs. of the butter. Add the leeks and salt, stirring to coat the leeks with the butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the thyme, nutmeg, pepper and cream and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Wipe out the pan and grease with the remaining 1 Tbs. butter.

Preheat an oven to 400ºF.

In a bowl, combine the Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Layer one-third of the potatoes in the fry pan and spread one-third of the leek mixture on top. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheeses, then 1 Tbs. of the chives. Repeat the layering 2 more times, reserving 1 Tbs. of the chives (optional).

Cover the pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until the potatoes are tender and the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes more. Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbs. chives on top. Let the gratin stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

Tuscan Frittata

10 eggs

1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil

8 oz. mild Italian sausage, casings removed

1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch slices (we omitted this because our kids have an aversion to red peppers. . . for now. . . until I convert them to their sweet deliciousness.)

1 cup tomato sauce

6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Preheat a broiler. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pecorino romano, salt and pepper. Set aside. 

In the deep half of a frittata pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, breaking apart the larger pieces, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Wipe out the pan with paper towels. 

In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper is tender, about 10 minutes more. Add the sausage to the pan and pour in the egg mixture. Cook, using a rubber spatula to lift the cooked edges and allow the uncooked eggs to flow underneath, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue cooking until the eggs begin to set, 4 to 6 minutes more. 

Meanwhile, in the shallow half of the frittata pan over low heat, warm the 1 tsp. olive oil. Place the shallow pan upside down on top of the deep pan and flip the frittata into the shallow pan. Cook, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover the pan and pour the tomato sauce onto the center of the frittata, gently spreading it to the edges. Arrange the mozzarella on top. Transfer the pan to the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. 

Slide the frittata onto a serving plate, sprinkle with the basil and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.