Pork Chops with Figs in Hard Cider

Williams Sonoma recently posted a recipe for pork with figs. We have an enormous fig tree in the back yard and I am always trying to figure out ways to use them. The crows, squirrels and parrots get most of them.

Anyway, I tried this recipe and used pork chops instead of tenderloin.  It was excellent and I got to use up some more figs!

Pork Chops with Figs in Hard Cider

Serves 4

4 pork chops
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup hard apple cider
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tsp grainy mustard
6 figs, halved lengthwise
1 Tbs unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the pork with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Cook the pork, turning once, until browned, 4-5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add the cider, rosemary and mustard to the pan, bring to a boil, and scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Cook until the cider is reduced by half, 3-4 minutes.

Return the pork to the pan, place in the oven, and cook for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the pork, and add the figs. Return to the oven and cook until the pork is tender and registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 6-8 minutes longer. Transfer the pork and figs to a serving platter. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk in the butter to make a sauce. Spoon the sauce over the top of the pork and figs and serve right away.


Sapporo Miso Ramen

The Ramen of Sapporo

Last week, I was watching a travel show on TV called Travels in Japan.  It was about Sapporo. They went to this famous ramen restaurant.

Morito Omiya, who founded “Aji-no Sanpei”, is the most memorable person among owners and chefs of ramen restaurant in Sapporo. He created “ramen in miso (fermented soybean paste) -flavored soup”. Before that, ramen was served only in soy sauce-flavored soup, which was cooked with soy sauce in soup stock of pig bones. He had been looking for new flour, so he kept researching it over and over. At last he found “miso-flavored” soup, which was familiar to Japanese people like soy sauce, and he came up with ideas to put stir-fried vegetables on it. Then he perfected “ramen in miso-flavored soup” and put it on his menu in 1954. This new ramen “with vegetables on it in miso-flavored soup” was significantly popular in Sapporo. About 1960, “miso-flavor” was started at other restaurants and established “the specialty of Sapporo” among tourists. After that, it got known all over Japan, by a demonstration of cooking it and a sale of it at exhibits of the products of Hokkaido in various parts of Japan or by the mass media. Between 1960 and 1970, as “the ramen of Sapporo”, it was extremely in throughout.

Sapporo Miso Ramen

1 tsp  vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, mince
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 oz ground pork
5 oz bean sprouts
4 oz chopped cabbage
2 oz carrot, cut into thin strips
4 cups warm water
2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
4 Tbs miso paste
2 Chukamen noodles*
½ tsp sesame oil

Add the minced ginger and garlic to the skillet and sauté the minced pork on medium heat. You can start boiling water as you will need enough water to cover all the ingredients latter. Now add the carrots, bean sprouts and cabbage, just for a few minutes and then add the water you had boiled which should be warm by now. Add chicken bouillon powder, sugar and soy sauce to taste and once the water starts boiling you know you’re almost there.

Now with the heat on low add the miso and make sure it’s all melted and mixed well.  Top it off with sesame oil. Separately boil the chukamen noodles add to a bowl and pour the sapporo miso soup onto it.

*Chukamen noodles are used for ramen dishes. These noodles are generally made with wheat flour and kansui (alkaline solution) in Japan.

Pork in Spicy Yogurt

This dish couldn’t be simpler.

Pork in Spicy Yogurt

Serves 4

4 boneless pork chops

8 Tbs low fat plain yogurt
1 Tbs mild curry paste
2 Tbs mango chutney
1 Tbs cilantro, chopped

In a shallow dish, mix together all the marinade ingredients.  Add the pork chops and thoroughly coat with the marinade.  Cover and let it marinade in the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours.

Remove the pork chops and reserve the marinade.  Cook the pork on a grill or under a broiler for 8-10 minutes each side.

Gently heat the remaining marinade.  Do not boil, but make sure it’s piping hot before pouring of the pork.  Serve over rice with lime slices.

Mexican Corn Pie

This recipe as my friend Barbara’s name all over it (I guess is also has Sharon’s name all over it too, but not sure if you can buy chorizo in Australia!) ! It’s a casserole, from Luna Maya, a Bolivian-Mexican restaurant in Norfolk, Va., is adapted from “The World in a Skillet.” Its international flavor evokes the New South, but cooked in the traditional Southern skillet. Luna Maya calls for a baking pan to finish the dish, but we used the same 12-inch cast-iron skillet throughout.


Mexican Corn Pie

Serves 8

1 Tbs plus 2 tsp olive oil
1 lb Mexican pork chorizo, skins removed
1 white onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs each: ground ancho chili, sweet paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp each: thyme, ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (or 5 cups frozen)
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz mild cheese, such as Chihuahua or Oaxaca cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Crumble in chorizo. Cook, stirring often, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer chorizo to a bowl, leaving fat in the skillet.

Add the white onion, garlic, ancho, paprika, cumin, chipotle, thyme, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet; stir. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 5-8 minutes.

Stir in the chicken; cook, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through, 15 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; transfer contents to a bowl. Stir in the reserved chorizo, cilantro and lime juice.

Wipe skillet clean; heat 2 teaspoons oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow onion; cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 5-8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Combine onion with the corn and milk in a food processor; puree until smooth.

Return skillet to medium heat; add corn mixture. Cook, stirring, until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Remove skillet from heat.Transfer corn mixture to a bowl.

Spread the chicken-chorizo mixture in the skillet. Spread the corn mixture over the meat. Bake 30 minutes. Remove dish from oven; turn on the broiler. Spread the cheese over the casserole. Broil until cheese melts and begins to brown, 3-5 minutes.

Germanotta Meatballs & Spaghetti Sauce

Gaga for meatballs…. a wacky night in New York

On our last night in New York city, my daughter, Zoe and I met my friend Alan at Joanne’s, an Italian restaurant on West 68th Street. We sat at the bar and had calamari (best I’ve ever had) and meatballs. Joanne’s is owned by Lady Gaga’s parents. Joe, her father (a very nice man), also sat at the bar and brought out a rice pudding that they were testing. He wanted us to taste it and wanted to know how much we would pay for it. It was really good and I said $7 seemed reasonable. He then wanted Zoe to try their macaroni & cheese, which was ridiculously good. The meatballs (2 tennis ball size) were Lady Gaga’s grandma’s recipe. They were covered in marinara sauce sauce and were delicious. I found the recipe online and thought I would share.

We also met a famous horror writer, who Stephen King thinks is one of the scariest authors out there – Jack Ketchum. He was a very cool guy and we enjoyed talking to him. I guess he hangs out there all the time too.

Joanne’s executive chef is Art Smith, who is an innovative and wonderful chef.

Germanotta Meatballs & Spaghetti Sauce

Serves 4

1 2/3 cups ciabatta, torn into pieces and soaked in 2/3 cups milk
1 egg
1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs finely minced garlic
1/3 cup minced onions
1/2 lb lean beef
1/2 lb lean pork
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, additional to brown meatballs.
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
4 cups of marinara sauce

Mix all ingredients together carefully.

Sear meatballs in medium hot skillet. Pour off excess oil add marinara sauce and simmer.

Cook spaghetti to al dente. Toss meatballs and sauce with spaghetti.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Spiral Sliced Ham with Pepper Jelly Glaze

I love pepper jelly. I went to a food show and had this Hell Fire Pepper Jelly.  It is the best I have ever had.  I need another jar!  Anyway, I thought it would make a fabulous    ham glaze for my Easter ham.  It will probably wake up a few of your relatives at dinner!

Spiral Sliced Ham with Pepper Jelly Glaze

Serves 8

5-6 lb fully-cooked bone-in ham, half ham, spiral sliced
8 oz jar hot pepper jelly

Place ham in shallow pan and heat in 350 degrees F. oven, uncovered, for 1¼ hours. (about 15-18 minutes per pound) until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 140 degrees F.

The last 15 minutes, pour the pepper jelly over ham, spreading evenly. Heat for 10-15 minutes more, basting occasionally.

Balsamic & Maple Glazed Ham

I love the idea of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup together.  Every Easter, I try to come up with different types of ham glazes.  Actually, the Apricot Baked Salami glaze would work nicely too.  Hey, and you can’t forget the Demented Lamby Cake!

Balsamic & Maple Glazed Ham

1 Bone-in skinless smoked ham, shank or butt end portion, about 7 lb
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup maple Syrup
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
8 parsnips, about 2 lbs, peeled and trimmed, cut into ½” spears
1½ lb baby carrots
3 Tbs olive oil

Heat oven to 325ºF. Place ham, fat-side up, in foil-lined roasting pan. Score ham; cover with foil. Bake 1 hour. Then mix balsamic vinegar, syrup and mustard; brush 1/3 of glaze onto ham.

Bake, uncovered, 1 hour or until ham is heated through (140ºF), brushing with remaining glaze every 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toss parsnips and carrots with oil in large shallow baking pan. Add to oven with ham after 15 minutes of 2nd ham baking time, stirring vegetables every time ham is brushed with glaze.

Transfer ham to cutting board; cover loosely with foil. Let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to 425ºF. Bake vegetables an additional 15 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Serve with the sliced ham.

Helpful Tips
After carving the ham, reserve the bone for making split pea or favorite bean soup.

How to score a ham
Using a sharp knife, make 1/4-inch-deep parallel cuts, about 1 inch apart, in top surface of ham. Make additional scores at right angles to form diamond shapes. Whole cloves may be inserted where cuts cross if desired.

Slow Roasted Pork with Grilled Pineapple & Chipotle Sauce

 The first time Rick Bayless tasted tacos in Coyoacan, the tony Mexico City suburb, he was hooked. A deft, dramatic cook shaved slices of marinated pork from a spit slowly turning in front of a charcoal fire. Then he piled the slices into a steaming tortilla and crowned them with a slice of grilled pineapple and smoky chipotle salsa.

Slow Roasted Pork with Grilled Pineapple & Chipotle Sauce

1 boneless pork shoulder or butt roast, 2½ to 3 lb
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 bottle Frontera Grilled Pineapple & Chipotle Grilling Sauce
1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices
Vegetable or olive oil for grilling
Corn or flour tortillas, warmed just before serving

Season the pork generously with salt and pepper. Place it in a 1-gallon heavy-duty plastic bag along with 1/3 cup of the grilling sauce and turn the pork gently to coat. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Prepare a fire in a grill for indirect-heat cooking according to the manufacturer’s instructions and bring the pork to room temperature.

Remove the pork from the marinade, transfer it to a disposable roasting pan and set on the grill. Cover the grill and roast the pork over indirect heat, basting occasionally with the pan juices and additional grilling sauce, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 180°F, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove from the heat, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush the pineapple lightly with oil and grill over medium heat, turning occasionally, until lightly golden and tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Carve the pork into thin slices. In a bowl, combine the pork with 3 to 4 Tbs. of the grilling sauce, toss to mix well and transfer to a platter. Cut the pineapple into large chunks and arrange alongside the pork. Serve immediately with the tortillas and remaining sauce alongside.
Rick Bayless, Chef, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Chicago

Japanese Style BBQ Baby Back Ribs

This is a Japanese version of an American classic. This recipe breaks tradition by braising the ribs until they’re tender, then grilling. This way, you’ll get both fall-off-the-bone tenderness and nice caramelization. Save the braising liquid; it cooks down into a phenomenal barbecue sauce.

Japanese Style BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Serves 4

2 racks baby back ribs (about 5 to 6 lbs)
1 whole unpeeled bulb garlic, halved horizontally across the mid-section
1 medium Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
½ cup tomato puree
1 cup sake
2 Tbs rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
3 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs red miso
½ Tbs siracha sauce
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 Tbs sesame seeds, for accent

Cut each rack of baby back ribs in half, which will yield 4 portions of 5 to 6 ribs each. To a large stockpot, add the ribs, 6 cups water, garlic, onion, carrot, tomato puree, sake, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, miso, tobanjan, and peppercorns and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat so the liquid gently simmers. Remove any scum or oil that floats to the surface. Cover the pot and cook until the ribs become tender, about 1 hour.

Remove the ribs from the pot and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid. To make the marinade, bring the cooking liquid to a boil over high heat and boil until it reduces by half and becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow the liquid to come to room temperature. Transfer the liquid to the jar of a blender, cover, and pulse until smooth, about 1 minute. Pass the liquid through a fine-meshed strainer suspended over a large bowl and discard any solids caught in the strainer. Set the marinade aside.

Preheat a grill to hot. Grill the ribs for about 4 minutes, flipping once. When the ribs are browned and sizzling, brush the marinade on top. Grill for about 2 more minutes, flipping 2 or3 times, and brushing on more marinade after each turn. Let the ribs rest for 2 minutes. Accent with sesame seed and serve.

Grilled Ham and Gruyère

Jambon grillé et gruyère avec un verre de vin blanc s’il vous plaît

One of my favorite Parisian lunches in any café in Paris is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

Use thick slices of really good sandwich bread or baguette and thick slices of Le Gruyère . The bread should cook up crusty and toasty, and the cheese should melt and just begin to spill from the edges of the bread.




Grilled Ham and Gruyère

Serves 2

1½ Tbs unsalted melted butter
4 inch cut slices whole wheat sandwich bread
2 thick slices Gruyère
2 slices Black Forest ham

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brush bread on both sides with butter, then layer a slice of Le Gruyère and a slice of ham between each pair of bread slices. Place sandwiches in the skillet and cook, covered, until well browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip sandwiches and continue to cook until they are browned on the other side and the cheese is thoroughly melted and beginning to ooze out of the bread, 3 or 4 minutes more. Lower heat if bread browns too quickly.