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Braciole

I’m not sure why it took me so long to post a recipe for braciole, because it’s something my mother-in-law Mary made almost every time we visited, during my marriage to my late husband. Mary, who was from Abruzzo, had a limited repertoire of dishes, but whatever she served was delicious. There was almost always spaghetti with meatballs and braciole, followed by a roast chicken and potatoes. Many recipes for braciole are more elaborate than hers, including ingredients like prosciutto, or hard-boiled eggs. Those are delicious practically as meals in themselves, but Mary’s braciole was a simple roll of meat, seasoned inside with only parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. They were a perfect accompaniment to the pasta that was dressed with the long-simmering sauce from the braciole.  For these braciole, I have added a bit of grated parmesan cheese to add a little more flavor, something Mary didn’t do if I remember correctly, but it’s essentially the same recipe as hers. You need a very thin piece of beef for this recipe, and you can either purchase it already sliced (as I did from my local grocery store), or buy a piece of top or bottom round, or flank steak. Slice it thinly and pound it until it’s even thinner. If you freeze the beef slightly, it’s easier to slice. Then season it with salt, pepper, minced garlic, parsley and a grating of parmesan cheese.

Roll it tightly and secure with toothpicks (or string if you prefer).

Sauté in some olive oil until browned.

Then add it to your favorite tomato sauce recipe and simmer for about two hours. This photo was taken while my kitchen was being renovated and I was using a hot plate to cook most meals. I love cooking with a gas stove, but this induction-heating hot plate worked remarkably fast and well as a temporary cooktop.

Serve the braciole with pasta of your choosing. In this case, I used cavatappi, but rigatoni or even spaghetti would be great too.

By the way – Italian language lesson for the day – the correct pronunciation is bra-CHOH’-leh, not bra-ZHUL’, as you might have heard in some films featuring Italian Americans. Braciole is the plural of braciola. In most places in Italy, you’ll find a rolled and stuffed piece of meat or swordfish called involtini. The term braciole most likely is derived from the Italian word “brace” meaning coals or embers, and if you order braciole from a menu in much of Italy, you’ll most likely be served a grilled piece of meat. What is called involtini in Northern Italy became braciole in southern Italy — a dish made of tougher meat that was pounded and simmered for hours in tomato sauce to make it more tender. Since the majority of immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were from Southern Italy, the term braciole took hold here. To complicate things even further, small rolls of braciole, like those I made, can be accurately called “braciolette” or little braciole – not to be confused with “braccialetti” or bracelets. Whatever you call them, they are delicious and the perfect Sunday (or any day) meal.

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Braciole
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • a few pieces of top or bottom round
  • salt, pepper
  • minced garlic
  • minced parsley
  • grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Slice the meat thinly and pound to make it even flatter.
  2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, the minced garlic and parsley and a scattering of parmesan or pecorino cheese.
  3. Roll up and secure with toothpicks or string.
  4. Sauté in olive oil, then add to your favorite tomato sauce recipe and simmer for two hours.
  5. Serve with pasta.
 

 

 

 

Seared Salmon

Salmon is a staple in our diet, and I typically make it in the oven, spritzing with some lemon juice, then smearing with a little Dijon mustard, dill and roasting it for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. But I recently started pan searing it and have discovered our new favorite way to eat salmon. The browning in butter makes for a crunchy top, and adds more flavor to an already distinctive fish. Start by seasoning the salmon with salt and pepper, then placing skin side UP, into a skillet that’s been coated with some olive oil, and turned to medium to high heat, as in the photo below.

After it’s been cooking for about three or four minutes, check to see if it’s browned enough to your liking. Then flip it so that the skin makes contact with the pan. Warning: This splatters a lot so be prepared to clean your cooktop after dinner is over. Place a lid on the pan and let it cook for another couple of minutes.

Remove the lid and lower the heat a bit. I wanted the butter to be the dominant flavor, so I drained the olive oil at this point, but if you don’t mind the extra calories, leave in the olive oil when you add the butter. Add the shaved garlic and lemon juice, and spoon a little of the liquid over the salmon. Sprinkle with the parsley, and place a lid on top again.

Cook for another two to three minutes and serve. Rice is always a good complement to fish, as are any number of vegetables, from squash to green beans. Serve with extra lemon.

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Seared Salmon
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR TWO SERVINGS:
  • 2 pieces of salmon, with skin on, total weight about 1-1/14 lbs.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • juice of ½ lemon, plus a few slices for garnish
  • salt, pepper
  • minced parsley
Instructions
  1. season the salmon with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice, saving most of the lemon juice for later.
  2. Turn up the heat on the skillet to medium high and place the salmon, skin side up, in the pan.
  3. Let it sear for about three or four minutes, or until it forms a nice crust.
  4. Using a long spatula, carefully flip the salmon over, being careful not to break the skin.
  5. Turn the heat to medium, and place a lid on the pan.
  6. Cook over medium heat for another two minutes.
  7. Remove the lid, and drain off most of the oil (or you can leave it if you want).
  8. Lower the heat to low to medium, then add the two tablespoons of butter, the garlic slices and the lemon juice.
  9. Spoon a bit of the liquid over the salmon.
  10. Sprinkle with parsley and place the lid on again.
  11. Cook for another two to three minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
 

Vinegar Chicken with Crushed Olive Dressing

If you like olives, you’re going to love this recipe from Alison Roman and The New York Times. It’s a quick and delicious way to get a flavorful dinner on the table in 35 minutes, start to finish. Cook some rice or noodles and a side dish of vegetables while the chicken is in the oven and you’ll be ready to serve a meal fit for company, or just the family.

Make sure you use bone-in, skin-on chicken parts. The chicken skin will keep the meat from drying out at the high 450 degree temperature required. Please make the recipe as written at least once before tinkering with it. I won’t think ill of you if you use Kalamata olives rather than Castelveltrano, but I may have to send the recipe police after you if you tell me you subbed sun-dried tomatoes for the olives or curry powder for the turmeric.

More on the subject — check out this comment from a reader following the recipe as it appeared in the New York Times: “Wow! That was amazing! I didn’t have any olives so used onions instead, and I didn’t have any turmeric so substituted paprika. I also didn’t have any chicken so used free range heritage pork. We aren’t big fans of vinegar so I went with soy sauce. It was so good! Definitely a keeper recipe!!”

I’m all for improvisation, but that’s like asking for spaghetti and getting soba instead.  I think that reader just invented a whole different recipe. While your version may taste good, this one as written is a real keeper.

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Vinegar Chicken with Crushed Olive Dressing
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups green Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 cup parsley, tender leaves and stems, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with turmeric and 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Make sure chicken is skin-side up, then pour vinegar over and around chicken and place in the oven.
  4. Bake chicken, without flipping, until cooked through and deeply browned all over, 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine olives, garlic, parsley, the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  6. Once chicken is cooked, remove baking sheet from the oven and transfer chicken to a large serving platter, leaving behind any of the juices and bits stuck to the pan.
  7. Make sure the baking sheet is on a sturdy surface (the stovetop, a counter), then pour the olive mixture onto the sheet.
  8. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently scrape up all the bits the chicken left behind, letting the olive mixture mingle with the rendered fat and get increasingly saucy.
  9. Pour olive mixture over the chicken, then serve.
 

Dried Winter Fruit “Cakelets”

I’ve never counted how many cookbooks I own, but I do know that with many, I make one or two recipes and unfortunately, never revisit them for years because some other newcomer has captured my attention. I’ve got my tried and true cookbooks that I wouldn’t neglect for the world, but then there are some I’ve pushed to the back shelf over the years, including many that are written in Italian. Truth be told, it can be tedious to transcribe the quantities into the American measuring system when they’re written in metric. But the results are frequently worth the effort, like these little dried fruit “cakelets.” They’re from a cookbook called “Fantasie Da Forno” that I picked up in a Milan bookstore  years ago.

Winter is the perfect time for this recipe made with dried fruits. You can make it in small disposable paper cake pans, like these that I bought at a discount store, or make one larger cake in a round pan. There is a certain charm to these miniature cakelets though, and they are just the right serving for one person.

The small amount of cornmeal in the recipe gives the cake a darker look, but adds a bit of flavor and texture. If you want to eliminate the cornmeal, just substitute an equal amount of white all-purpose flour.

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From the Italian cookbook “Fantasie da forno”

Dried Winter Fruit Cakelets
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 7 tablespoons butter, softened (100 gr. di burro ammorbidito)
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten (2 uova sbatute)
  • ⅓ cup (50 grams) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (un cucchiaino di lievito) baking powder
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal (100 gr. di farina di mais)
  • 1½ cups mixed dried fruit (225 gr. frutta secca mister
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, or other nuts (25 gr. di pinoli)
  • grated rind of a lemon (la scorza grattugiata di 1 limone)
  • 2 tablespoons milk (2 cucchiai di latte)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (4 cucchiai di succo di limone)
Instructions
  1. Grease a 7" or 8" round pan (or use several small baking paper cake holders).
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixer.
  3. Add the beaten eggs, one a time, mixing each one thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and cornmeal and mix until incorporated.
  5. Add the dried fruits and nuts, the lemon peel, the lemon juice, and lastly the milk.
  6. Spread the mixture into the pan and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for one hour, but if using the mini pans, check after 30 minutes.
  7. Test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven, let it cool, then dust with powdered sugar.
 

Peppery Beef Stew

Here in the Northeast U.S., we’ve been hit with winter’s full blast – more snow that I can remember in quite a few years, with still more expected in a few days. Lots of shoveling, but also lots of solid, comforting winter fare, like this beef stew recipe from Michele Scicolone in her cookbook, “The Italian Slow Cooker.”  The book is a gem, and in my case, really useful while my kitchen is undergoing a radical transformation. Cooking is relegated to another room in the house, where my table is set up with all manner of electric implements, from my rice cooker to my automatic polenta stirring pot.  You’d be surprised at how much cooking you can accomplish without an oven or a cooktop, as long as you’ve got electricity. Washing dishes and pots without a sink is another thing, but thankfully, my husband has become rather adept at bathroom sink dishwashing.

I’ve been using a hot plate to cook most meals, and had to rely on it to brown the meat and prepare the sauce for this stew, before dumping everything into my slow cooker. I bought an induction-heating hot plate and I have to say, it works really efficiently, heating things quickly — almost too quickly, as I found out this morning after burning some orange peels I was candying.

Anyway, back to the beef stew. After you brown the meat in a skillet, you add the rest of the ingredients (including a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns) and scrape up all those flavorful bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Then dump everything into the slow cooker and forget about it.

Come back 6-8 hours later, and you’ve got a delicious, fork-tender beef stew, ready to serve over noodles or rice.

Add a green vegetable on the side, and dinner is served.

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Peppery Beef Stew
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2 inch chunks (I used 1¼ lbs. beef cubes but all the rest of the proportions in the recipe for the sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti
  • 2 cups canned tomato puree (I used one 15-ounce can cherry tomatoes and ¼ cup water)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped, plus 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Instructions
  1. On a piece of wax paper, stir together the flour and salt to taste.
  2. Toss the beef with the flour and shake off any excess.
  3. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the meat in batches, without crowding the pan.
  5. Brown the beef well on all sides.
  6. With a slotted spoon transfr the beef to a large slow cooker.
  7. Add the wine to the skillet and bring it to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan.
  8. Add the tomato puree (or the cherry tomatoes and water), garlic, peppercorns, and ground pepper.
  9. Cook for 10 minutes, orr until slightly thickened.
  10. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker.
  11. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the beef is very tender.
  12. Taste for seasoning before serving.
 

Muffaletta

Are you wondering what to serve up for Superbowl Sunday? Admittedly, the pandemic has scaled back everyone’s plans, and you might not be gathering in a large group. But just in case you’ve got your own pandemic bubble to feed, or even if you want to make this and give some to neighbors, this sandwich is always a hit.

It’s said to have been created by Italian immigrants in New Orleans. However, many years ago, I was reading a classic Italian book called “Il Gattopardo” and surprisingly came upon a reference to it, when the protagonist, a prince, is on a hunting excursion with the local church organist. “Bevevano il vino tiepido delle borracce di legno, accompagnavano un pollo arrosto venuto fuori dal carniere di Don Fabrizio con i soavissimi muffoletti cosparsi di farina cruda che don Ciccio aveva portato con se.” In English, the title translates to “The Leopard” and the text is as follows: “They drank tepid wine from wooden bottles with a roast chicken from Don Fabrizio’s haversack, with the sweet muffoletti dusted with raw flour which Don Ciccio had brought with him.” If you haven’t read the book, it deals with the changes in Sicilian society during the risorgimento — Italy’s unification movement. It’s one of the most important novels in modern Italian literature and is widely translated in many languages, including English. It was even made into an excellent movie with Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale.

But I digress. Back to the muffaletta as we know it, which many say was first made here in the U.S. at Central Grocery Co. on Decatur Street in New Orleans by Salvatore Lupo, an immigrant from Sicily. My son-in-law and his wife, who live in New Orleans, sent us a jar of olive salad last year from Central Grocery, so naturally we needed to follow through and make our own muffuletta. This jar made enough for two muffaletta sandwiches. If you can’t find olive salad at a store near you, you can even order it from Central Grocery here or even from Amazon, here. 

I added some other ingredients to the olive salad, including fresh celery, parsley, marinated artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers. You can choose to add more or less of whatever you like. There are no rules.

Aside from the olive salad, you need good bread, Italian cold cuts, and cheese.  A muffaletta is traditionally made with a round loaf, and in fact, I’ve made it in the past with a round loaf as you see below. I used mortadella, Genoa salami, coppa and capicolla, but a finocchiona, prosciutto or soppressata would be delicious here too. I used provolone cheese, but feel free to choose fontina, mozzarella or whatever floats your boat.

You can break with tradition and use a long ciabatta loaf instead of a round one, as I did the last time I made it. My local bread shop had a great assortment.

I came home with this beauty and sliced it in half lengthwise.

I scooped out some of the insides, but you can leave as much or as little interior bread as you like. Then I spread some of the olive salad on the bread.

I added a layer of the meats and cheese, then more olive salad, another layer of the meats and cheeses, finishing off with the olive salad next to the bread.

You’ll need to weigh it down with something heavy, so I covered both sides with parchment paper and placed a heavy cast iron grill pan on top. It went into the refrigerator for at least two hours. You can leave it even longer, but if you keep it weighed down in the refrigerator overnight, you risk getting the bread too soggy from the olive salad.

Last year I took it to my cousin’s Superbowl Party and the ciabatta sliced up easily into at least ten generous pieces.

Or just enjoy Super-Bowl size portions with your own small family.

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Muffaletta
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large round loaf, or long ciabatta
  • ¼ lb. of Genoa salami
  • ¼ lb. of capocollo
  • ¼ lb. mortadella
  • ¼ lb. of coppa
  • (orr use any combination of Itaian cold cuts you want, including soppressata, finocchiona, prosciutto etc.)
  • ¾ lb. provolone cheese (or fontina or mozzarella)
  • 1 jar of olive salad
  • POSSIBLE ADDITIONS TO THE SALAD:
  • ¼ cup sliced celery
  • 1 small jar of artichoke hearts, chopped
  • roasted red peppers, chopped
  • a few tablespoons minced parsley
  • chopped up jarred giardiniera
Instructions
  1. Slice the bread lengthwise and scoop out some of the interior bread.
  2. Mix the add-ons you like to the jarred olive salad, and spread some of it on the bottom of the bread.
  3. Add a layer of each of the sliced meats, a layer of cheese, more of the olive salad.
  4. Repeat with the meats and cheese, ending up with the olive salad.
  5. Cover with the top portion of the bread, then place some parchment paper, or plastic wrap on top.
  6. Press down with a heavy weight and refrigerate at least two hours to compact the sandwich and blend flavors.
  7. Be careful not to leave it pressed more than six or eight hours or the bread may become too soggy.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Sheet Pan Sausage Dinner

Some days you just don’t feel like fussing too much but want a good, home-cooked meal. This one, that takes just a half hour’s time from start to finish, fits the bill perfectly. In addition to Italian sausage, I choose to add fennel, one of my favorite vegetables, plus small Yukon gold potatoes, red peppers and onions. Everything gets tossed into a sheet pan, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 450 for 30 minutes. I was inspired to make this after seeing a post from my friend Stacey, who used cabbage with the sausage, which also works really well.  Feel free to use cabbage, fennel, peppers, mushroom chunks or even Brussels sprouts. They would all taste great with the sausage.

Stacey also made a mustard sauce that paired well with the sausages, so I followed her lead. I didn’t use the soy sauce the recipe called for, but it was delicious anyway with just the other ingredients. Even though we’re just two people at dinner these days, I always cook at least five or six sausages. We normally finish all the vegetables, but there are always a couple of sausages left over that make great lunch sandwiches the next day. Forget corned beef and cabbage that’s boiled to death — this is so much better – and a dish you’ll want to make again and again. Beer optional, but highly recommended.

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Easy Sheet Pan Sausage Dinner
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Five or six large links of Italian sausage
  • vegetables of your choosing:
  • small Yukon gold potatoes
  • onions
  • fennel
  • red peppers
  • cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • olive oil
  • seasoned salt (I make this every year by drying my fresh herbs and mixing with Kosher salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Place the sausage in a large pan.
  3. Slice the potatoes in half and place them cut side down on the pan so they will brown well.
  4. Slice the red peppers in large pieces and scatter around.
  5. Cut the fennel into large chunks an place on the pan.
  6. Cut the cabbage into quarters and place on the pan.
  7. Drizzle a little olive oil on everything (not too much because the sausage will release some oil too).
  8. Sprinkle some seasoned salt and pepper over everything.
  9. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping everything after 15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, while the dinner cooks, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients and whisking together.
  11. Serve separately on the side, or drizzle over everything if you prefer.
 

Passatelli In Brodo

No, it’s not mealworms, as one of my readers on my Instagram page suggested. They’re passatelli, a specialty from the regions of Le Marche and Emilia Romagna, where my mother is from. They’re considered a pasta, but there’s no flour in the dough — unless you count the bread crumbs. In addition to bread crumbs, they’re made with parmesan cheese and eggs, and they’re typically served in a chicken or beef broth. I used a recipe from Pasta Grannies Cookbook and there’s even a video of one of the grannies making passatelli here. You mix all the ingredients together until you have a stiff dough that you can roll into a ball. I used leftover bread crusts from mostly whole wheat bread, hence the brown color. If you prefer a lighter color, use only the interior of white bread that’s been dried on the counter for a while until it crumbles easily in a food processor. After adding the parmesan cheese and egg, it will be a lighter beige, or pale yellow color.

You then press it through a potato ricer, or passatelli maker. I used to have a wimpy ricer and unfortunately, the metal bent much too easily with a stiff dough. But since buying this new one from Fante’s in Philadelphia (they do mail order), it’s not a problem. Alternately, if you have a meat grinder, use that, as one reader of my Instagram page suggested. Still, the dough was so stiff I found it hard to push it through the ricer, until I moved the ricer handles to the edge of my table and used my body weight to press down on it. I kept a plate on the chair below to catch the passatelli as they came out.

I ended up with this amount, perfect for two people.

Drop them into gently simmering chicken broth (if it’s a vigorous boil, they’re likely to disintegrate), and cook only a minute or two, until the passatelli pop up to the surface.

Serve at once, with more grated parmesan cheese on the side. It’s comfort food on steroids, what my husband claims hits him at “the cellular level.”

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Passatelli In Brodo
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 40 grams (1/3 cups) dry bread crumbs
  • 50 grams (1/2 cup) parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • hot homemade chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together until they form a stiff dough.
  2. Roll it into a ball and let it rest for at least ½ hour.
  3. Take some of the dough and place it in a potato ricer or meat grinder.
  4. Press hard to push through until the passatelli start coming through.
  5. Cut them off and place on a plate until ready to cook.
  6. Have the chicken soup at a low simmer.
  7. If it's boiling, the passatelli may disintegrate.
  8. Lower the passatelli into the hot chicken broth and cook only for about a minute or two, or until they float to the surface.
  9. Serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese.
 

 

Pork Chops in a white wine-mushroom sauce

There are days when you have no idea what to eat until an hour before dinner when you open the refrigerator to see what’s languishing in its depths. This recipe springs from such a day, when I had defrosted the pork chops and found some mushrooms in the fridge, on the brink of spoiling. Hunting around for the other ingredients was easy since there’s always wine and chicken broth in the house. If you haven’t got any chicken broth go ahead and substitute a little water instead. If you haven’t got white wine, dry sherry or marsala could easily be substituted, although the taste would be dramatically different with the sweetness of marsala. Get the rice going before you start this dish though, because it will take you only a half hour start to finish.

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Pork Chops in a white wine-mushroom sauce
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pork chops, trimmed of most of the fat around the edges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • ½ lb. sliced mushrooms, crimini or baby portobello (or whatever you like really)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 small squirt of Kitchen Bouquet, optional
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with a little water or chicken broth
  • salt, pepper, minced parsley
Instructions
  1. Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the olive oil to a skillet and when it is hot, add the pork chops and let them brown for a couple of minutes on each side.
  3. Remove after they start to turn brown.
  4. Do not cook them all the way through.
  5. Add the butter to the skillet, then the sliced mushrooms.
  6. When the mushrooms start to become a little limp, add the shallots and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until transparent.
  7. Put the pork chops back into the skillet with the mushrooms then pour in the wine and chicken stock.
  8. Add the Kitchen Bouquet, if you have it.
  9. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and cook just until the pork chops are cooked through. It should take no more than five minutes.
  10. Mix the cornstarch with a little water or chicken broth and add to the pan a little at a time, until the sauce starts to thicken.
  11. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with rice or noodles or mashed potatoes.
 

Dutch Baby/German Pancake with Spiced Apples

I’ve been wanting to make one of these eggy treats – called Dutch baby or German pancake –for quite a while and it wasn’t until I saw it being made on America’s Test Kitchen that I finally got around to it. Well, that’s not exactly true. I tried making one about a year ago and it wasn’t exactly photogenic, unless you consider this a beauty (which I don’t).

But I should have had a bit more faith, since the center started to deflate after a minute or two of removing it from the oven, bringing in the sides to form a high ridge above the custardy center. I was starting to become a believer. By the time I spooned all the apples to the interior, it was a vision of deliciousness and we couldn’t wait to dive in.

The key to this Dutch baby’s success has a lot to do with an unusual approach to oven temperature. It seems counter intuitive, but you start it in a cold oven, cranking it to 375 degrees only after you place the pan in the oven. Starting it in a cold oven allows for a slower build-up of heat, so the center can start to set before the oven reaches the temperature necessary to give the highest lift to the rim (which takes about 25 -30 minutes). A lot of Dutch babies have a very thin base, but this technique allows for a thicker center, which is more satisfying to eat and better able to serve as a base for the apple topping. It slipped out very easily from the cast iron skillet I used onto a serving platter.

This apple Dutch baby recipe also calls for the apples to be cooked separately in a saucepan, rather than cooked with the batter, ensuring that you don’t end up with a heavy, leaden pancake.

Spoon the apples over the Dutch baby, then either sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with maple syrup. Cut a slice or two for yourself. It would be a delicious way to start the new year.

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Dutch Baby/German Pancake with spiced apples
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups (8¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • FOR THE APPLE TOPPING:
  • 2 large apples
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Whisk flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest, salt, and nutmeg together in large bowl.
  2. Whisk milk, eggs, and vanilla together in second bowl.
  3. Whisk two-thirds of milk mixture into flour mixture until no lumps remain, then slowly whisk in remaining milk mixture until smooth.
  4. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.
  5. Melt butter in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.
  6. Add batter to skillet, immediately transfer to oven, and set oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Bake until edges are deep golden brown and center is beginning to brown, 30 to 35 minutes.
  8. While the pancake is cooking, prepare the apples..
  9. Peel them and cut into ½ inch slices
  10. Add 2 tablespoons butter to a skillet and melt.
  11. Add ½ cup water, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
  12. Cook until the sugar is dissolved.
  13. Add the apples and cover the pan, simmering for five minutes.
  14. Remove the lid and cook for another five to ten minutes, allowing the most of the water to evaporate and the syrup to thicken.
  15. Remove the skillet with the pancake from the oven, and carefully lift out of the skillet onto a serving dish.
  16. Spoon the cooked apple slices to the center of the pancake.
  17. Cut into wedges and serve.