Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sauteed Pork Chops with Caramalized Onions and Balsamic Vinegar

Thank you for the comments and prayers for our tornado ravaged area this week. Clean up in Joplin is going to take such a long time but we are amazed at all of the volunteers that have come from all over to help out. There's been so many tragic stories that we heard, but also some with happy endings. I will share some of them soon. One thing is for sure, people have really pulled together to get things done.

And now, something delicious to eat! Pork chops are a wonderful meat to have on a weeknight, and if you add caramelized onions that have been drenched in Balsamic vinegar, you've got a delicious entree fit for any occasion. I made these tasty chops last week and thoroughly enjoyed every bite. My husband however decided that he's not overly fond of balsamic vinegar, but he ate them anyway. I will make these again and just keep the onions for myself! The chops were tender and moist since I used bone-in chops and the addition of the onions and balsamic was was different and delicious. I hope you'll give these a try!

Sauteed Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Vinegar
adapted from Fine Cooking

2 bone-in pork chops about 1 inch thick
1/2 of a very large onion- I used a Vidalia onion
2-3 tablespoons oil
about 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Dry pork chops with paper towels and score the fat in about 3 different places (see note). Then season both sides with salt and pepper.
Thinly slice the onion and add to the heated skillet. If the onions brown too fast or begin to burn, turn down the heat. It should take about 15-20 minutes for them to caramelize. Remove the onions to a bowl.
Add 1 more tablespoon of oil to the same skillet and add the pork chops. Cook until brown and flip over. I used a paring knife and cut close to the bone to check doneness. If tit looks red, the meat is not done. These took about 4 minutes per side. Remove chops to a plat and tent with foil. Add the onions back to the skillet and pour the balsamic vinegar over them. Stir until incorporated with the onions and vinegar is slightly reduced.
Plate the pork chops and top with the balsamic onions. These are wonderful served with mashed potatoes, rice, or some Oven Roasted Potatoes with Herbs. Enjoy!

NOTE: When bone-in chops cook, the fat around the edge will draw up and the chops will not lay flat during cooking. To remedy this, I always cut through the fat in about 3 places with a paring knife. Just cut though barely, and the chops will lay perfectly flat whether you are pan searing or grilling and the meat will brown evenly.

Monday, May 23, 2011


If you have watched the news in the last 24 hours here in the states, you may have seen the tornado headlines about the area in which I live. Sunday evening a F4 tornado slammed into Joplin, Missouri and leveled a 6 mile long path of destruction in this town of 50,00 people. Fortunately, my family lives about 15 miles away in a small town, so we were not in the path. But we did spend some time in the basement when the sirens went off.

This video shows only one part of Joplin and if you look you can see a 7 story hospital which looks like it has been bombed. This was shortly after the tornado went through. There have been scores of volunteers come to help since this video was taken. So far there are 116 declared dead across this city. We have had storms all day that have been hampering rescue efforts and are expecting severe storms tomorrow.
I'm asking for your prayers for this city. All of our family is safe and accounted for, but a family in our church was in Joplin when the tornado hit. They were at Home Depot and the twister caught them in their vehicle and threw them around. Their 14 year old grandson was sucked out of the vehicle and thrown on the pavement. His skull was cracked and he's in critical condition. Their granddaughter, who is about 8 or 9, is in surgery tonight, with Doctors trying to attach her ribs back to her backbone. She also had a metal rod go through her shoulder. They need a miracle.
About 2,000 buildings have been destroyed, both homes and many businesses also.
So my friends, it will be a day or so before I post a recipe as my mind just is not on cooking. And last week I was babysitting my granddaughter while her mother was on a business trip, so not too much exciting cooking took place then either, but I'll post soon with something yummy.
Just please remember this area in your thoughts and prayers. At least 1/4 of the city is gone and much more is damaged, so many people are homeless and looking for loved ones. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake

 When I was a little girl, I loved sucking on lemon halves. While I don't do that anymore, when I cut one open it makes my mouth begin to water. So it's no surprise that I enjoy a great piece of lemon cake. This Lemon Pound Cake from Cook's Illustrated does not disappoint on any level. A traditional pound cake, it's heavy and dense with a fine crumb and full of butter and eggs. The lemon flavor is not overpowering, but you get a jolt of lemon from the syrup that is brushed on after baking, and the lemony glaze. We devoured it quickly. I think this would be a wonderful sweet to include to help celebrate Mother's Day, for a luncheon or an afternoon tea. I did not change the recipe, other than I didn't have the required amount of lemon zest the recipe asked for, so I added a bit more juice. At first glance I thought there were alot of details, but I discovered it was because you also make a syrup, and a glaze. Both were super easy and I advise that you don't skip those steps. Brushing this syrup over the warm cake not only imparts extra flavor, but helps to add moisture too. Hope you enjoy!

from Cook's Country-very slightly adapted

2 sticks of unsalted butter (16 tablespoons)- softened, but still somewhat cool
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice- recipe called for 1 1/2 T.
1 tablespoon lemon zest- recipe called for 1 1/2  T.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature- beaten

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. To make cake: Adjust the oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with butter and dust with flour. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl.

2. Toss lemon zest and sugar together in a large bowl. Add butter and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl. Add in the eggs, in 3 additions, and beat well. Mixture will look curdled. With motor on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by the sour cream and lemon juice. Add another 1/3 of flour and mix well. Finish with the rest of the flour and mix, scraping the sides well. Mix until batter is smooth.

3. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Bake 55 to 70 minutes. Mine baked about 70.

4. For the Syrup: While the cake bakes, stir the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice together in a saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

5. Cool the cake on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out on the rack. Brush the top and sides of the warm cake with the syrup and cool cake completely before glazing, about 2 hours. Use all the syrup.

6. For the glaze: Whisk the sifted confectioners sugar and the 1 tablespoon of lemon juice together until smooth. Spread glaze over cake and let set 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

NOTES: Like most cakes, this cake is more moist on the second day. According to CI, this cake will keep for 5 days, if wrapped tightly. It also freezes well. To freeze, apply the syrup, let cool, and wrap unglazed in two layers of plastic wrap. and freeze in a zip-lock bag for up to 1 month. I have not tried that. When ready to serve, defrost the wrapped cake at room temperature. Remove wrap and spread with the glaze.

TO MAKE 2 CAKES: double all the ingredients EXCEPT the eggs; use 9 eggs instead of 10.