Feta Stuffed Pork Chops

 

This recipe makes for pork chops that a are flavorful, juicy, and tender. This oven-baked technique will ensure that your pork has a delicious crust and a perfectly cooked interior. Just follow these simple tips below and prepare yourself to reconsider everything you know about this weeknight-friendly cut. The recipe follows.

Tips on Cooking the Perfect Pork Chops

1. Buy the pork chops bone-in and thick.
Typically, bone-in pork chops are thicker than those with the bone removed. A thin pork chop is difficult to cook perfectly with this method, because of the hard sear you give both sides before it goes in the oven. If a chop is too thin, by the time you’ve seared both sides, the thing is practically overcooked! Choosing a thick chop allows you to get a nice golden sear on both sides and a perfectly cooked tender center.

2. Get your skillet HOT.
The goal of this initial sear is to get a golden, crisp crust on your chop without really cooking the center. I find that using a cast iron skillet is the best for cooking pork chops. A hot skillet is so CRUCIAL. Let your pork chops cook a couple minutes undisturbed, then take a peek and see how that golden crust is forming. When you are pleased with the desired golden sear, flip the chops over and brown them again, to get golden on the other side.

3. Brush with butter.
This classic restaurant trick—basting with butter while cooking—makes a great dish worthy f five stars. However, if you are trying to keep it healthy and watch the cholesterol, this step isn’t required, but it will definitely make the pork chops extremely delicious though. For the recipe below, you will be brushing a garlicky rosemary butter on the chops.

4. Use a meat thermometer.
Yes, many parofessional and home cooks will say that you will known the meat is done by instinct, but let’s be real, that takes years of experience by being the kitchen. But if you are not familiar with the “doneness” of your proteins, using a meat thermometer will make your life just a tad bit easier. I know, I know. This is the extra step that often seems fussy, but trust me, it’s worth it. Using a meat thermometer takes the guess work out of cooking pork chops, and that’s “a good thing.” The temperature you pull your chops at is totally up to you, but here’s a quick guide to choosing the right temperature for your taste. As always, give the meat some time to rest before digging in. Five to ten minutes should do the trick.

  1. 120°-130° F: This is comfortably at medium rare. Warning! You will see pink, and that’s is perfectly fine (See the USDA tips for cooking pork). The pork chop will be rosy-pink on the inside and super juicy.
  2. 130°-140° F: For those who are not comfortable with pink pork, this might be the right temperature zone for you. There will be a touch of pink in the center, but for the most part the flesh will be white. The meat will still be nice and juicy.
  3. 140°-145° F: No pink here! The meat will be completely white all the way through. Pork chops at this temperature will still have the potential to be juicy, just be sure to pull them from the oven on the lower end of this spectrum, as the chops will continue to cook even after they’re out of the oven. Anything past 145° F is the danger DRY zone, so keep a close watch.

Other than that, good luck and happy eating!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Feta Cheese Filling:
3 tablespoons feta cheese (crumbled)
2/3 cup diced sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste

For the Pork Chops:
4 bone-in pork loin chops
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste

For the Glaze:
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Mix feta cheese, tomatoes, parsley and olive oil in a bowl. Use the tip of a sharp boning or paring knife to cut a 3-inch slit in the side of each pork chop, 2 inches deep and 1/4-inch away from the bone, to make a pocket for stuffing. Stuff pork chops with feta cheese filling and secure with toothpicks.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl mix together butter, rosemary, and garlic. Set aside.

In cast iron or oven safe skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil then add pork chops. Sear until golden, 4 minutes, flip and cook 4 minutes more. Brush pork chops generously with garlic butter.

Place the skillet in oven and cook until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Serve with more garlic butter, if desired.

pork-chop-verticalPhoto Credit: Ethan Calabrese, 2018.

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Heirloom Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon Pie

 

tomato pie.jpg

Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck, 2013

Southern Living Magazine raised the ante on classic tomato pie with a sour cream crust studded with bacon, layers of colorful tomatoes, and plenty of cheese and herbs to tie it all together. Nobody wants a soggy tomato pie, so for best results, seed the tomatoes and drain the slices before baking.This recipe is a bit time consuming and may take up to three hours to prepare,  but it is sure worth the effort!

RECIPE BY SOUTHERN LIVING
June 2013

Serves 6 to 8 

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
2 1/4 cups self-rising soft-wheat flour , such as White Lily®
1 cup cold butter, cut up
8 cooked bacon slices, chopped
3/4 cup sour cream

For Filling :
2 3/4 pounds assorted large heirloom tomatoes, divided (*See Cook’s Notes)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) freshly shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons fresh dill sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons plain yellow cornmeal

Directions:
Prepare Crust: Place flour in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Chill 10 minutes.

Add bacon to flour mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Gradually add sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Spoon mixture onto a heavily floured surface; sprinkle lightly with flour, and knead 3 or 4 times, adding more flour as needed. Roll to a 13-inch round. Gently place dough in a 9-inch fluted tart pan with 2-inch sides and a removable bottom. Press dough into pan; trim off excess dough along edges. Chill 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare Filling: Cut 2 pounds of tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and remove seeds. Place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir together Cheddar cheese, next 10 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl until combined.

Pat tomato slices dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle cornmeal over bottom of crust. Lightly spread 1/2 cup cheese mixture onto crust; layer with half of tomato slices in slightly overlapping rows. Spread with 1/2 cup cheese mixture. Repeat layers, using remaining tomato slices and cheese mixture. Cut remaining 3/4 lb. tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and arrange on top of pie.

Bake at 425° for 40 to 45 minutes, shielding edges with foil during last 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 1 to 2 hours before serving.

 

*Cook’s Notes:
To learn more about how to seed and drain tomatoes, please see Tori Avey’s tutorial at the following link: How to Seed Tomatoes

And a method is briefly outlined below:

  1. Place your tomato on a cutting board, stem side facing up.
  2. Roll the tomato sideways so the stem faces to the right, and cut the tomato down the center “equator” line into two halves.
  3. Use a small spoon or a quarter spoon melon baller to scoop the tomato seeds and any tough white core out of the four seed cavities. Discard the seeds.

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Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Prosciutto, Spinach, Apples and Apricot Preserves

pork.jpgServes 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 bunch baby spinach, washed and trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2-lb.) pork loin, trimmed
4 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto
1 Honey Crisp apple, cored and sliced into 1/8 inch
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup Japanese Panko Breadcrumbs
Pomegranate nibs, for garnish

Directions:
Saute the spinach in a hot skillet 3 minutes; plunge into an ice bath for 1 minute. Drain well. Wrap spinach in paper towels; squeeze dry. Chop spinach into small pieces. Place in bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; stir well.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Cut into pork loin lengthwise from right to left, 3/4 inch from bottom, keeping knife parallel with cutting board; do not cut through the other side. Continue slicing lengthwise from right to left, unrolling loin as you slice, to form a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Season with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Arrange prosciutto in layers to cover inside of loin. Add apple slices. Spread the apricot preserves over the apples. Spread the spinach mixture on top, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll pork up left to right. Tie with twine in butcher’s knots at 2-inch intervals.

Lightly dust the loin with flour. Roll in breadcrumbs, pressing lightly to make sure the crumb coating adheres.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Place loin in pan; cook 12 minutes turning until all sides are browned. Place loin on rack; cover loosely with foil. Roast at 325°F for 50 minutes or until meat registers 150°F. Remove pork from pan; let pork stand 20 minutes. Swirl butter into pan juices until butter melts. Cut pork into 3/4-inch slices garnish with nibs and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
Click on this link for a quick tutorial on: “HOW TO CUT AND TIE A PORK LOIN FOR STUFFING”  

You can substitute the spinach for broccoli rabe seasoned for a change of pace.

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Quail in Rose Petal Sauce

quail5

In   Laura Esquivel’s Novel,  Like Water for Chocolate, the reader is introduced to this recipe in Chapter 3, where the love sick character Tita, who is a cook, prepared an elaborate dish with a rose, a token of love, given to her secretly by her lover Pedro. She calls the dish “quail in rose petal sauce”. At the dinner table, the meal receives an ecstatic response from Tita’s family members, especially Pedro, who always compliments Tita’s cooking. However, a more curious affect is observed in Gertrudis, her younger sister, not long after eating the dish, who begins “to feel an intense heat pulsing through her limbs.” It appears that the meal serves as a powerful aphrodisiac for Gertrudis, arousing in her an insatiable desire. This turbulent emotion pulses through Gertrudis and on to Pedro. Tita herself goes through a sort of out-of-body experience. Throughout the dinner, Tita and Pedro stare at each other, entranced.

Dripping with rose-scented sweat, Gertrudis goes to the wooden shower stall in the backyard to cool off. Her body gives off so much heat that the wooden walls of the shower stall burst into flames—and so do her clothes.Running outside, the naked Gertudis is suddenly swooped up by one of Pancho Villa’s men, who charges into her backyard on horseback.

“Without slowing his gallop, so as not to waste a moment, he leaned over, put his arm around her waist, and lifted her onto the horse in front of him, face to face, and carried her away.”

The escape of Gertrudis serves as a foil to Tita’s stifled passion. The intensity of the former’s reaction to the meal serves to communicate the potency of the passion that the latter possesses but is unable to express directly. With her primary form of expression limited to food, Tita takes the illicit token of love from Pedro and returns the gift, transforming it into a meal filled with lust. The manner in which Gertrudis is affected by the food and later swept away on a galloping horse is clearly fantastical, and the vivid imagery like the the pink sweat and powerful aroma only exemplifies the novel’s magical realism.

To  be carried away so gallantly,  in a moment of passion………..is magic!

And with that being said, this would be the perfect dish to make for someone you love, especially for a romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy!

Updated February 2, 2018

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 quail (or 6 doves or 2 Cornish Hens)
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry sherry
6 peeled chestnuts (boiled, roasted, or canned)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup red prickly pear fruit puree
(or substitute raspberries, red plums or pink dragonfruit)
1 Tablespoon honey
¼ cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14 teaspoons rosewater
Petals of 6 fresh, organic red roses, for garnish
Pepita seeds, for garnish

Directions:
Heat the serving platter in an oven set to low. Rinse the quail and pat dry. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and lightly brown the birds on all sides. Add sherry and salt and pepper to the quail. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn the quail, cover, and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the quail when done to your liking and place on a heated platter.

Combine the remaining ingredients with pan juices, transfer to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small pan and simmer 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, and/or honey. Pour the sauce over the quail on the heated platter.  Sprinkle with the rose petals and pepitas, for garnish, and serve hot.

Cook’s Notes:
The original recipe for this dish calls for rose petals, but you don’t want to use petals from conventional flower shop roses—those are treated with fungicides. Still, if you have some organically grown roses in your backyard, or know where to buy them, feel free to use them to garnish the finished dish.

If you cannot find any rose petals, 3 bags of  Tazo Passion Hibiscus Tea is a great alternative to use as well.

You can find rosewater at local Middle Eastern stores.

The original recipe calls for cactus. In this version red prickly pear fruit puree or juice is used and can be found at most health food stores—or substitute frozen raspberries or even use 2 large red plums that have been pitted and skinned, for the red prickly pear.

Another  substitution for the prickly pear would be  dragon fruit , which is closer in terms of the flavor given that both are cactus fruits.While you may not initially equate “cactus” with “edible,” the dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is indeed borne on a cactus. When the fruit is cut open, the flesh is revealed to be either snow-white or magenta pink and peppered with tiny, edible black seeds throughout — quite a contrast to the exterior.The flesh is mildly sweet, some say comparable to a melon. A source of calcium, fiber and vitamin C, the dragon fruit is widely cultivated throughout much of the tropics, particularly in Asia. Its popularity in tropical Asia combined with the dragon reference may lead us to believe it originated in Asia, but the fact is no one seems to agree on where it came from. We do however know it is in the cactus family (Cactaceae), and therefore almost sure to be of New World origin.

If you have a dove hunter in the family, try this with dove instead of quail. In fact, doves may be an even more romantic choice, if you don’t mind picking a little birdshot from your teeth. Cornish hens also work well, as a substitute for the protein in this dish.

 

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Vegetable Medley

brussels
Photo Credit: Cooktop Cove, 2016

I absolutely L-O-V-E Brussels sprouts!

Most people do not and the lovely little vegetable has a bad reputation for being the least tasty among pick eaters. But I have found that when you find the right way to cook them they are actually incredibly delicious!

Traditionally Brussels sprouts have been boiled, since time in memorial and crispy-balsamic-brussels-sprouts-2this method of cooking diminishes their flavor, making them soggy and without texture. So I roast mine instead and this method of cooking totally elevates the lowly sprout to new heights. Yes! Roasting them gives the sprouts a delicious crispy texture and an awesome flavor. They are a very savory vegetable though, which is why in this recipe they were paired with red apples to give them with a little sweetness and baby Yukon Gold potatoes so that you have a wonderful range of flavors with each fork full.

This recipe is just in time for during the winter doldrums!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in half*
2 Red Delicious apples, medium diced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced into a paste
7 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, small diced
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1½ teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Drizzle of olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, for garnish
1/2 cup cashews, roasted and roughly chopped, for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400º F.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together except, parsley and cashews.

Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Spread the Brussels sprouts mixture on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are browned in spots and the other vegetables are tender and crispy around the edges.

Remove the Brussels sprouts from oven and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish the vegetables with a sprinkling of parsley and cashews, if desired and serve immediately.

 

Cook’s Notes:
*You can use any full sized potatoes that you desire, just cut them into a medium sized diced.

 

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Roasted Beet Hummus

Roasted Beet Hummus recipe

Photo Credit: PhillyVoice.com, 2017

 

Did you know that the very food known as “Hummus” was derived from the Arabic  word meaning “chickpeas”, and the complete name of the prepared spread in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna which means “chickpeas with tahini”.  Hummus is basically  a Levantine dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas or a mixture of other beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.  It is popular in the Middle East and in Middle Eastern cuisine around the globe. It can also be found in most grocery stores anywhere in the world.

The chickpeas used in hummus make it high in fiber, protein and iron, and when lemon is added, offers your body a boost of vitamin C and antioxidants. What’s more, a thick spread of hummus will never threaten your waistline, but tahini has been known to be anti-inflammatory and lower cholesterol.

Yes, you can buy hummus at just about any local grocery store these days, but it so much better if you make for yourself at home and so easy to do as you can follow this recipe basic recipe with a few tips from Inspired Taste.

For some people, hummus is like the comic relief at an awkward dinner party. Everybody’s yearning for it, and it’s a universal pleaser. This light, savory snack is the perfect hors d’oeuvre as it  slides smoothly onto your chip, pita, pretzel, bagel, carrot or cucumber slices and rarely leaves a mess. And it is perfect for Super Bowl Parties

But for a change of pace, we switched it up a little to liven up a party in presenting this quick and easy roasted beet hummus which is a light, savory snack that will make your mouth pop with flavor.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 medium roasted beet, cooled, peeled, and quartered (Directions Follows)
One 15-ounce, can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons tahini (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash salt and pepper
Water, to thin as needed
Optional spices: dried sage, cumin, paprika

Directions:
In a food processor, blend roasted beet until smooth. Add remaining ingredients to blend, reserving olive oil and water. Drizzle in olive oil while hummus is blending. If too thick, thin out with water until you have the desired consistency.

Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, as needed.

Place in a bowl and serve with vegetables , crackers or whole grain pitas of your choice.

Directions for Roasting Beets
 Option 1 
1. Preheat oven to 400 º F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. If buying whole beets with stem, remove leaves and stalk.
3. Peel beets and dice.
4. Lay on baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried sage.
5. Cover baking sheet with foil and bake beets for 1 hour or until tender.

Option 2
1. Preheat oven to 425 º F.
2. Scrub, wash, and remove leaves/stalk from beets.
3. Place whole beets on aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil and salt.
4. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

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Whole Roasted Truffle Cornish Hens

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Roasted chicken is one of those dished that transcends the human taste buds, regardless of  where it can be found on the menu in this global culinary world. This dish takes it’s inspiration from a classical French technique of natural basting of a chicken or any other fowl for that matter, by rubbing butter under the bird’s skin. Serve with wild rice and a green vegetable of the season and I promise you that this is one dish that your will never get tired of.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
Four Rock Cornish Hens
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 ounce black truffle oil
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 lemon, sliced into four quarters
8 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cloves garlic, halved

Directions:
Combine butter and truffle oil in a small bowl, Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.

Using a pastry bag or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off, pipe the truffle butter mixture under the skin of the hens breast and legs. Place fingers under the skin and rub around each individual bird.

Using twine, tie the legs of each bird together. Tuck wings under breast and place the hens uncovered in a glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator allowing the birds to air dry for 24 hours.

Remove the hens from the refrigerator. Insert the lemon, thyme sprigs and garlic into each bird’s cavity. Allow the hens to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 400° F and add about 1/2 cup of water to the baking dish. Depending on your oven, bake the hens for 45 to 60  minutes or until the hens reach an internal  temperature of 165° F.

Remove from the oven and place on a large serving platter. Garnish the hens with fresh herbs and serve with your choice of side dishes.

 All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

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