Maple Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

It will be 6 years this June since I started writing this weekly food blog and I do not see myself stopping anytime soon. I hope you are all OK with that; well I guess if you are reading this; you are on board with me continuing.
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With that being said I have upgraded my subscription on WordPress (more $) and am getting some help with how to make it a little more professional; and I hope easier for you to save and hopefully print out your favorite recipes. At least that is my goal. I just finished day 2 on how to build a better business blog so we’ll see where this takes me/us.
IMG_4029I have mentioned before that I am not very good at “self promoting” but yesterday I went to The Flying Butcher to pick up more pork chops and am making them tonight for my niece and her husband. I mentioned to the guy that helped me that I write a food blog and mentioned them in one of my posts because the pork chops we SO good. He said I should tag them and they will share it on their site. Look at me go! The name of the pork chops are Hatfield I need to ask them next time what Hatfield refers to. Name of the farm? Name of the pig? Company they get them from?
IMG_4037.JPGThe recipe I am going to share here today is what I am making for them later today. Not only because it is delicious but also because they collect and boil sap to make maple syrup and who doesn’t love having recipes that go along with what you worked so hard for.
IMG_4033.JPGThis recipe is even easier than the pork and apple recipe from a couple of weeks ago. Plus it’s fresh maple syrup season right now so let’s get cooking!
IMG_4030Pork Chop
4 pork chops – bone in or thick cut
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Balsamic Glaze
½ cup maple syrup
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons beef broth
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic – smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan add all the glaze ingredients together and bring to a boil. You’ll want to boil it down for about 4 minutes.
IMG_4031Using a cast iron pan; if you have one. Either pre-heat it in your 350’F oven while you prepare the glaze, or place it on the stove top and put it on low to heat it up nicely.
IMG_4034.JPGPat the chops dry using paper towels. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a little olive oil. Once your pan is almost to the smoking point. Add the chops and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes. Flip and add some of the glaze to the browned side. After another 2-3 minutes flip again and add more glaze. You can keep flipping and adding glaze or finish them off in the 350’ F oven till they have an internal temperature of 140’F.
IMG_4035.JPGRemove them from the pan adding more glaze and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

I am sitting here this morning drinking my tea and trying to figure out what to say. Which is kinda funny for me, as most of my friends and family will gladly tell you; I always have something to say.  Just sharing –  It took me longer to write this than it did to make a platter of these the other night. 
IMG_3590Today is our first frost, last night my Red Sox lost the first game of the series. I used up the last of my balsamic that I brought home from Italy. And I think I might have worn my flip flops for the last time this year. The day has nowhere to go but up – I hope.
IMG_3583I do have a quick and simple appetizer that I probably paid at least 12 euros for 3 little bites in Greece. But I will be adding these to my list of go too App. I have some friends that have been asking me to come up with an appetizer class. They say they always make the same things every time they are asked to bring something. Which I totally understand. You make something that everyone likes why wouldn’t you make it over and over again. I get a sense that I have to bring something different every time I am invited to someone’s home. I am sure I bring most of it on to myself, I write a food blog I can’t disappoint my people LOL.
IMG_3584This recipe is so simple I am almost embarrassed to write a blog about it. But if you want a new app to bring to a party or just make a light snack for yourself; I won’t judge you.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Mascarpone, room temperature
Balsamic vinegar
Greens for decoration

There are packages by the deli with pre-sliced prosciutto, slice each one lengthwise down the middle.
IMG_3585I found it easier to work with the Mascarpone when it got warmer. I put mine in a pastry bag. You can use a ziploc bag or skip the bag and use a couple of spoons to dollop some on the end of each piece of Prosciutto.

Roll each piece and stand them on end, drizzle with the balsamic. Adding some greenery finishes off the simple plate nicely. When I make these again I might roll the meat and then fill with the mascarpone using my pastry bag. I think they would look much nicer. 
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Mascarpone, Cream Cheese
Mascarpone simply put is less tangy than Cream cheese

Bacon, Pancetta, Prosciutto – I love all three
Now a quick little lesson in the differences between Bacon, pancetta, prosciutto
Three pork products that look alike, taste somewhat similar, and even get regularly substituted for each other.

All three are cured meat products Bacon (usually found sliced) and Pancetta (can be sliced thin or cubed) are from the pork belly and need to be cooked before eating. Bacon is put through a smoking process where Pancetta is unsmoked. Prosciutto (sliced and cubed) is from the hind leg and does not have to be cooked to be eaten.
I hope this simple explanation clears things up a little for you.
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Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard

Holding cooking classes has shown me a few ways that some people perceive what goes on in the kitchen and also how some interpret recipes. Some of the people I have had in my kitchen are very literal, if they don’t have say the bone in pork chop they only have boneless on hand; they just move on to another recipe. It asks for chicken breast and they only have thighs. Some the ingredients throw them off either they don’t know what it is or have it on hand so they just bypass it. I try to give them a little more in control of what they are making. I personally am not in love with mushrooms but I have been buying and using them more. They do add a lot of earthiness to some recipes. And one of the best beef gravy I have ever had was mushroom based; and I didn’t even make it.

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Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard over Creamy Polenta

My point is I would love people to feel more comfortable in their kitchens and I hope I help them out a little bit one class or blog at a time. I was chuckling to myself on my short commute (less than 10 minutes) home yesterday I must have considered about 8 meals I wanted to make. It could be the weather but I am pumped to get back in the kitchen versus grilling; I have 3 soups in mind, and I am going to throw one of the 4 meals I thought about in the crockpot for tomorrow so it is ready for when I get back from my day in Boston.

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OK so I had to rush around this morning and wasn’t able to finish my blog, I do apologize and hope that you find this recipe yummy enough to make. My house smelled awesome and it tasted great to boot. I will be making this again!  It asked for quick polenta; which I have never made and didn’t find at the store; I did find regular polenta and made that; again for the first time and I kind of liked it; it kind of reminded me of cream of wheat; so I guess if you didn’t like that growing up; you might not care of creamy polenta.

 

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1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, mixed
5 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1 2/2 tsp dried
1 TBS tomato paste
3 garlic  cloves, minced
1 anchovy fillet, I used anchovy paste cuz that’s what I have on hand
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar – I used Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar; what I had on hand
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomato, drained – I used 28 ounce plum tomatoes again; what I had
1/2 chicken broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
12 bone in skinless chicken thighs
6 ounces swiss chard, stemmed and leaves sliced 1/2 inch thick
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Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, thyme, tomato paste, garlic, anchovy, and red pepper flakes and cook until onion is softened and lightly browned. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps: cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes and transfer to slow cooker.

Stir tomatoes, broth, wine and bay leaves into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place chicken into sauce. Cover and cook until chicken is tender 4 to 6 hours on low.

Gently stir in chard, cover and cook on high until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to serving platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken

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Braised Short Ribs

I’m going to start with you have GOT to try these!!! If you do have any leftover they taste amazing re-heated. Now that we have that out of the way, they do take a planes trains and automobile kind of route to get where they need to go but the end result will be worth it and I hope it doesn’t deter you from attempting this recipe.

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The weather has been super cold here in the North East; my guys have been working outside on a couple of roofs and there is nothing like a hot shower and a warm comforting meal to warm your bones. The last couple of weeks I have put my slow cooker to work, plus my new cookbook is very inspiring plus I do like prepping two meals at one time and then taking a night off to relax.

For this particular recipe the microwave helped in making the dish a little less fatty, short ribs are notoriously greasy and we all want to have the most flavors but not all the extra grease in our dishes. I still had to let the sauce separate before I turned the juice into gravy. You do have a couple of options to keep the juice as such or make a roux and turn it into nice thick gravy which is the route I chose.

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Firstly separate the bones from the ribs, slice as close to the bone as possible. Take the bones and put them in a microwave safe dish, microwave for about 10 minutes, they should be nicely browned and a lot of fat left in the dish.  Transfer the bones to the slow cooker.

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Now to brown the ribs in a hot skillet by drying them, then salt and pepper and adding them to the skillet with a little oil. Brown about 7 minutes a side and add to the slow cooker. In the same skillet add onions, carrot, celery, tomato paste, and thyme to the fat in the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Slowly whisk in the wine and vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 6 minutes then add to the slow cooker. Stir in the broth and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 9 to 11 hours or on high for 5 to 7.

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Transfer ribs to a platter and tent loosely with foil. Either let the braising liquid settle and skim off the fat or use a fat separator; whichever you prefer. Strain the liquid discarding the solids and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley or sprinkle over the top just before serving. Spoon about a cup over the ribs and serve with the remaining sauce.

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Serve over your favorite mashed potatoes.

5 lbs. bone-in short ribs – meat and bones separated

Salt and Pepper

2 Tbs olive oil

2 onions chopped medium

1 carrot peeled and chopped medium

1 celery rib chopped medium

2 Tbs tomato paste

1 tsp dried thyme

3 Tbs flour

2 cups dry red wine

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

2 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

2 Tbs minced fresh parsley

Hawaiian Ham & Cheese Sandwiches – and – a Goat Cheese stuffed Endives

Yesterday was filled with cooking, singing, laughing, eating and drinking!  We had our annual Christmas party.  It has come to be quite the event, my good friend plays the piano and we start out by singing Christmas carols and end the night singing anything from Billy Joel, James Taylor to Queen and finally some great Show tunes.

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The day was entirely for making all the pick up and go foods for the table and also having breakfast ready to go for the next day, there is nothing worse than having to feed a ton of people; OK maybe not a ton but we had 14 for breakfast this morning; regardless; making food with such little sleep and maybe a few too many glasses of wine is not the most enjoyable task so I make sure that breakfast is super simple while still being delicious. I made 3 dishes that either set up overnight or can wait for me to cook them.  I made a strata, hash brown casserole and French toast casserole and picked up some fresh cut up fruit as well as some fresh blueberries, raspberries and a pomegranate; combining them all in a bowl of fresh fruit to lighten up all the casseroles.

I tried out a few new recipes my daughter sent me and they all were excellent, there were definitely a couple of keepers that I want to share with all of you.  The sandwiches are warm and full of delicious flavors. The endives are crazy good and I really hope you take a chance on these and test them out. They may look like something outside your comfort zone but I think you might be pleasantly surprised by how well the different flavors work so well together. I also made a simple version of chicken and waffles that was a crowd pleaser. mini waffles oven toasted, frozen chicken tenders baked and covered with warmed real maple syrup.

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Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

20 +/- small Hawaiian sweet rolls cut in half crosswise (depends on what size pan you have)

1 Pound Black forest ham, sliced – you’ll want one piece per roll

20 +/- slices provolone cheese

8 oz. cream cheese – room temperature for spreading

1 tbs yellow mustard

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

2 tbs dried minced onions

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbs poppy seeds (optional)

Either preheat your oven to 350’ or make ahead and bake them 30-40 minutes before you are ready to serve them.

Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with the roll bottoms, top with a slice of ham on each; then the provolone. Spread the cream cheese on the bottom half of the tops and place them on top of their bottom mates.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, onions and parmesan cheese.  Mix well and if baking right away pour evenly over the tops.  If making later wait to add just before baking; if using poppy seeds sprinkle on top of butter mixture.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, or until warmed through and cheese melted.

Serve warm

Endives with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 tbs honey

Combine on a baking sheet either coated with cooking spray or better yet a silipat mat. Bake at 350’ for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.

1 tbs honey

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

3 tbs orange juice

Combine all 3 in a small saucepan; bring mixture to a boil over high heat, and cook until reduced to 3 tbs; about 6-7 minutes.

16 endive leaves 9 about 2 heads

1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

16 small orange sections

1 tbs minced fresh chives

¼ tsp cracked black pepper

Fill each endive leaf with 1 orange section. Top each section with 1 tsp cheese and 1 tsp walnuts; arrange on a plate. Drizzle the vinegar mixture evenly over the leaves, and sprinkle evenly with chives and pepper.