Saturday, April 23, 2011

Couple of new recipes...

We've had some crazy weather out here - from cold snaps, to highs close to 90 and then there was that horrendous tornado outbreak last weekend. We didn't receive nearly as much damage as they did closer to the coast, but it was pretty gnarly here. The garden did have a little setback due to hail, but it looks like most of the plants survived and have started growing again. Since that seems to be tending to itself, I have some time to share a couple new recipes with you today that we've made over the past few weeks.

The first recipe came about because Jeff spied a killer deal on a few pounds of pork (he's getting good at that!) from one of our favorite places to shop since we moved out here to Charlotte. I trimmed most of the cuts to store in the freezer, but saved out a few chops to make this Pork with Pomegranate Pan Sauce.

Quickly cooked chops, seasoned lightly with a modest rub of garlic powder, cumin, salt and fresh ground black pepper, gave us a base layer in the pan to create the sauce that made this dish. Finely chopped shallots groove in the stuck-on bits left behind in the pan, followed by a healthy splash of pomegranate juice and a scoop of granulated sugar. Also added is a tablespoon of dark balsamic vinegar, giving the sauce a tangy, bright bite.

Not only does this finish in a flash, making for a swift weeknight dinner, it plates well and is quite elegant. The sauce is sweet, yet balanced by the sharpness from the shallots and a subtle snappy tartness that made it pop on the tongue. Do keep on eye on the chops - depending on the thickness, they can become over-done rather fast. If you are unsure, keep an instant read meat thermometer close by and pull the pork out of the pan when they reach 145 to 150 degrees - at this temperature, you'll keep the meat tender and juicy, while not having to worry about it being too underdone. The pork should retain an ever-so-slightly pink hue in the center when sliced into.

The other recipe we made in the past couple weeks was this hearty Spinach-and-Egg Noodle Casserole, which could be served either as a side, filled to the brim in a ravishing family-style baking dish, or as we did, in individual oven-safe crocs for a meatless main dish.

I did modify the pasta amount from the original recipe - it called for a full pound of egg noodles, which sounded a bit heavy handed for the amount of sauce. Bumping it down to twelve ounces worked well for us, giving the curly noodles room to groove, yet not end up soupy. The sauce, made with milk and thickened with a pale roux (butter and flour, cooked just enough to remove any raw pastiness), is also given a boost in richness by whisking a bit of the hot mixture into a couple egg yolks. This brings the temperatures of the yolks up slowly, allowing you stir them back into the hot pot and keep that silky consistency, preventing a scrambled mess.

Already cooked spinach, onions and garlic, along with the al dente cooked pasta, are stirred into the warm sauce, then the whole shebang is portioned out into individual serving dishes. For a textural bite, the tops of each dish are sprinkled with a sharp concoction of panko breadcrumbs, nutty Gruyère and salty Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The assembled dishes won't need to bake for long - just a quick trip under the broiler to turn that top golden, cheesy and crisp.

As a meat-free main dish, Jeff and I were completely satisfied when we scraped the last bite out of our portions. Again, you could serve the pasta up in a large help-your-self casserole dish, but we also think you could finagle this into a slick side dish by throwing on a more personal spin. Simply divvy out the noodles between the wells of a 12 cup muffin tin and bake them off that way. You may want a bit more of the breadcrumb topping though, giving each portion a generous sprinkling as some may consider this the best part!


  1. I can't wait to try the spinach looks wonderful!

  2. Wow, cool!
    It's a nice blog, I enjoyed the visit!!

  3. Lisa - Enjoy!

    Mandy - Thanks for stopping by!