Crunchy Pork Chops of Savoriness

Hello again!  This cook blogger (clogger?  coogger?  No…) still exists!

This is short, sweet, and to the point.  I have finally found a way to cook pork chops that do not disappoint me.  Previously, I managed very dry chops.  Dry chops are great if you are trying to make a saddle, shoes, or want to show someone how much to dislike them joining you for dinner.  Moist, savory chops are how you tell your mouth that you love your taste buds.

My chops have been about 1″ – 1-1/2″ thick.  Obviously, this needs to be altered for thinner chops.

  • Use an oven-safe pan (like cast iron)
  • Heat about 2T oil in a pan; get it warm, but not smoking
  • Preheat boiler to High
  • Set top rack to one position down from the top
  • Rinse chops; pat dry; sprinkle with salt
  • Place in pan, salted side down; cook for about 4 minutes this way
  • Crank burner to high
  • Salt current-upside of chops.  Dash with a bit of pepper and rosemary*
  • Flip and cook for about 3 minutes
  • Stand chops on their fatty side (or non-bone side) and cook for about 2 minutes
  • Place chops salt/pepper/rosemary side down; pepper and rosemary the current up-side
  • Place chops in oven and cook for 4 minutes
  • Flip chops; cook for 3 more minutes
  • Remove and let rest for 3-5 minutes

Enjoy very moist, savory chops.

A variation of this, which is where I started is the following, adapted from an Alton Brown recipe:

  • Adjust oven racks to have to lower rack one up from the very bottom; and top one down from the very top
  • Set broiler to high
  • Use an oven safe pan
  • Oil the chops, lightly coat with salt, pepper, and I always add rosemary
  • Cook for 3 minutes on the lower rack; flip and cook for 3 more
  • Cook for 3 minutes on the upper rack; flip and cook for 3 more
  • You might want to do 4/4/3/3 for better doneness; sorry, only experience will guide this
  • Cover and rest chops for 3-5 minutes
  • Again… enjoy.

* See, there’s that rosemary thing.

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2d6 Rolls of Munchies

The bread recipe I keep carrying on about has other variations that I haven’t fulled explored. Recently I attempted rolls and felt like I had a whole new Class Trait that I’d never explored.  Of course, learning more that baking is scientific, I carefully measured things out to yield 24 rolls.  The original recipe calls for about 12 rolls from the entire dough but I decided that those Troll-sized rolls might be a bit too much to go with a meal.  My current pattern is to take half of the dough and make a loaf of bread, and then use the other half to make 12 rolls in an 8×13 pan.  The pan helps the rolls keep a taller profile; I tried half of the original batch on a cookie sheet and they rolls were more the shape of mushroom caps.

The rolls are simple (following my 1 loaf, 12 rolls method here):  divide half of the dough into 4 equal parts.  Using a scale here helps.  Then divide each of those lumps into 3 equal parts; using an even smaller scale here helps.  This may sound a bit retentive, but it helps the rolls to bake evenly.  Bake for 25 minutes at 350F.  Let cool until safe to handle, and I usually remove them from the pan with a plastic spatula (won’t scrape the pan) and then cool on a cookie rack.  These can be frozen just fine.

Baking is science, not improv.

My results so far:

  • Wheat recipe:  nice light rolls.
  • Spent-grain recipe:  dense rolls; not interested in repeating.
  • Molasses wheat rolls:  I can see why these were a cousin’s favorite

I may repeat the wheat rolls with some rosemary in them.  I’m a wee bit of a rosemary addict.  (Tip:  don’t snort it…)

I imagine these rolls could be replicated with other bread starters.  Eh?  Eh?  (Let us know how it turns out…)

Return of the Bread

The bread has returned after much trial and error.  No small amount of wandering in the wilderness of doughy ignorance was required to at long last arrive at bread that summons as expected, every time. The former incantation involved measuring by cups, and experimentation brought me to the following spell ingredients, some using weights:

The Dough

 

  • 22 oz (by weight) white flour (pref. all-purpose)
  • 1t salt
  • 1-1/4C starter
  • 1-1/4C + 2T warm water
  • 1/2C vegetable oil

The dough should be a smooth consistency that doesn’t stick to your fingers like The Blob. Finding this consistency can be a matter of trial and error. If it dough is too sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time until it is not longer desperately clinging to your fingers. If the dough is too dry, use the same approach but with water.

Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with a damp towel, and keep in a warm place for 12 hours.

When summoned, it will be a large mass that can then be kneaded and split into twin loaves.  Again cover with a damp towel.

The remainder of summoning is the same.  I think I’ve discovered that 50 minutes in the oven is ideal.

Variations

Oatmeal Cranberry Bread!  I make the dough with an additional 2T of molasses.  After the first rise, I then add 1C Oatmeal, and 1/2C Cranberries (in the form of ‘Craisins’).  Make into loaves.  Let rise.  Bake.  It summons splendidly.

Mimic Shirred Eggs

Shirred eggs.  Baked eggs.  “Fried eggs in the days prior to a fancy cooktop on which skillets could be placed to fry things.”  Slow fried eggs with toppings.

I attempted a proper recipe at this and found the need to prepare the oven a bit annoying — because I had no other need to use it (heating these days is from the Central Dragon, not a constantly running hearth).  After scrying the alternate realms for a bit, I realized that the way I prepared these was basically “slow fried eggs”.  The objective isn’t to “fry” the egg, have it “over-{any} style”, or make “sunny side up”, but cook it through “low and slow” so the toppings settle in, the cream doesn’t curdle, and everything firms up nicely.

I accompanied these with toast, as is proper.  When baked, I baked them for 12m, added the cheese, then baked for 3m more.  I didn’t time this on the stovetop, I eye-balled it.  Ow.

What went in the pan:

 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1T heavy cream (half-and-half would work, but not light cream)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chives
  • paprika
  • Gruyere cheese

What else went in the belly:

  • toast
  • a wee dob of mint jelly, “on the side”

I used a very small cast iron pan for this (the #2).  It fit everything perfectly.

Warm the pan on a burner on really low heat. I set my gas burner on a 3, so maybe a 2 for an electric?

Crack eggs individually into a cup and add into the pan.  (Good practice to catch a bloody-egg before it touches other ingredients).

Drizzle with cream.

Season with salt, pepper, chive, and paprika. I used savory instead of salt and pepper in one attempt. General “seasoning” seems to be the thing. For the chives I have a jar of freeze-dried chives which you should be able to get at any store. They’re great for a oniony taste without the hassle of an onion. In this case, also without the moisture of bulk.

When the eggs look almost done, crumble the Gruyere over them. Feta could also work. I read about Parmesan and mozzarella, but I think Parm is too subtle in flavor and moz is probably too stringy and wet. Something crumbly, dry, and pungent is nice. Blue Cheese would work too.

Let cheese melt a bit and “plate”.

I started toast going at “about the right time” so it would be toasted and buttered right around the time the eggs were ready.

An alternate version of this is to put a piece of ham (slab, obviously) at the bottom of the pan. That might be where baking this is better. But for just eggs, the stove-top approach was really easy.

At least this mimic doesn’t bite back… unless you season it to do so!

Painless Portabella Pizzas

Mushrooms.

My frequency of using them causes them to be more mush than ‘shroom in my ice-box.  So my experiences with portabella remain limited, even novice.  I’m a level 1 ‘shroomer.  Hence, this inspiration comes from the back of a mushroom container.  Clever huckstering in the marketplace to prompt the purchase of additional ingredients!  That Grocers Guild has a groove for guile…

But simplicity!  This could only get easier, and less tasty, by removing ingredients.

  • 4 portabella mushroom caps, gills removed (But why a spoon, cousin…)
  • olive oil
  • minced garlic (or finely chopped/diced)
  • 1-2 tomatoes halved (stem to ‘the not-stem end’) and sliced thinly
  • mozzarella cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • (red pepper flakes)

So simple.  So simple.

Stoke your stove to rage the oven up to 400F.  Kindly assault the concave side of the decapitated mushrooms with olive oil.  Decorate with gobs of garlic, sprinkles of salt, and puffs of pepper.  Trim with tomato (this is where I found the halved tomato made this easier).  Muffle with mozzarella.

12-15 minutes singing in the steely stove should bring these to melted mozzarella magnificence.

Of course, if you enjoy these with pain, ravage with red pepper flakes at your discretion.

When Dragon Meets Pig

Dragons are notoriously hungry and they don’t approach their meals delicately.  So it is no surprise that they shred their victims prior to consuming them.  For me, to make this a little easier, I decided to slow cook it.  Descending upon it from on high and using my imaginary talons would not have worked so well.  And then I’d heve been yelled at for making a mess in the kitchen.

So, instead, I followed this recipe for slow-cooked pulled pork.

To top it, I read a few recipes and concocted this for the BBQ sauce:

  • 2c ketchup
  • 2T cider vinegar
  • 1T cumin
  • 1T garlic powder
  • 2t ground coriander seed
  • 1t chipotle powder
  • 1t black pepper
  • Put all in a pan. Mix. Warm over low/med-low heat until it bubbles. Stir. Cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

I really enjoy pork and chicken in this stereotypical southern style.  This comes out as no exception to that.  The pork recipe yields a moist, slightly sweet, nicely seasoned meat.  The sauce has the right kind of heat and tang to it to make a perfect accent.  Not quite dragon fire, but heat is noticeable.  And so… dragon meets pig.

Chocolate Sauce of …

How really to describe chocolate sauce, especially one that works out so nicely.  This one uses cream, but I could see it using a coconut or almond alternative.  That I should try at some point to see how those flavors play in this.  I’ve been making this for a few years as a drizzle for angel food cake, and recently as a way to make my own chocolate sauce for mochas.

  • 1/2 C Baking Cocoa
  • 1 C Granulated Sugar
  • 1t Cinnamon
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 1/4 C Heavy Cream (Light works as well)
  • 1T Kahlua

In a small saucepan [1] combine the cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and water.  Mix well [2].  Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir constantly for 5 minutes once it boils.  Remove from heat and add the cream and kahlua.  Let it cool completely [3] and then store it in a tight sealing container.

And now for some notes.

[1]  I use a saucier.  This is far from being fancy, more of an accident, but now I can recommend it and seem fancy.  This distributes the heat well, but also by design it is a lot easier to stir in.  If you get the right shape one, these are also great for steaming things in (with a basket) or heating soups in.  Mine in an integral part of my cooking routine for a lot of things outside of sauces due to the distribution of heat.

[2] Yeah right.  Ever try to mix cold ingredients?  Just turn the heat on and stir.  Ideally you have it all mixed before this boils.

[3] I find this is easier to pour when molten.  I store it in a 1 pint Ball jar, and put a spoon in it prior to pouring in the hot liquid.

When making a mocha with this, I’ll use about 1T of the sauce — maybe 4t.  It’s all ‘ish’.  I’ve also taken to putting a few drops of peppermint extract to have my own peppermint mocha.  Yum!