Tag Archives: Thyme

Garlic & Herb Compound Butter

By now you should know if you are cooking or just eating for Thanksgiving. I have hosted Thanksgiving at my home for at least the last 13 years straight. We have been as few as 7 to as many as 23. Over the years I have only changed a few things to try to make it easier on me and in return on everyone that comes for dinner.
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I used to make one large bird, now I search for anything 10 lb and under. I feel with even cooking two smaller birds at the same time not only does it take less time in the oven, I find they are much juicier. I use the same roasting pan and they fit perfectly side by side. I can also give away a carcass for someone else to enjoy turkey soup at their house.

I also enlist whoever is around Wednesday night to help peel and dice all the vegetables place them in their pots with water and store them in the cold storage area off the garage till we need them on the stove. This year I ordered fresh rolls, I usually make them but I was my local store and there was a sign up sheet for fresh made rolls from a local bakery and I stood in line long enough; plus it was super easy to just sign my name.  KP would this be considered an impulse buy?  She loves shopping with me and always chuckles at my impulse register buys. They put things by the registers for a reason hmmm!
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This weekend is for finishing up my table center piece, I make new place cards every year so I need to finish those up.

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Before

 

 

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After

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I will toast my ciabatta bread for my sausage stuffing well actually dressing; I don’t stuff my birds. I put apples and onions in mine. And I’ve also made a garlic herb compound butter to cover my turkey’s before putting them in the oven YUM!
img_4732I do have to confess, I was just going to make herb butter, but I double checked with my daughter; should I add garlic? She was like YES we are garlic – she is right we are a little on the obsessed side of garlic so if you are not you don’t HAVE to add it.

Garlic Herb Butter

4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-3 small bunches of fresh Sage
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Chop them all up fine
3 cloves minced garlic
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You can use just a bowl and elbow grease or bring out your food processor. Cut the butter in pieces add to the bowl of the processor, add the fresh chopped herbs and a little salt and the minced garlic. Pulse till blended.

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It smells amazing – I can’t wait to use it

Now comes a kind of tricky part, placing the butter in the saran wrap so you can roll it into a log. By moving the wrap back and forth it will eventually with a little coercing become a log I promise.  It takes a couple of hours to get to its full flavor and set up. Store it in your fridge till you are ready to prep your bird. Gently loosen the skin of the breast meat on your bird and spread the butter under the skin and all over the skin. 

Happy Healthy Thanksgiving to all of you and thanks for supporting me week after week!

Baby Bok Choy

I will admit this ingredient has NEVER been on my radar, not only is it green (my younger self was very opposed to green vegetables) it was totally foreign to me. I will also admit that one of my favorite restaurants in town uses it in some of their dishes and my adult self has tried and actually liked it and it is kind of fun to say baby bok choy – I know you just repeated it, pretty cute huh!

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I usually make a nice dinner for my husband’s birthday, his day is on a very popular dinner date night and we are pretty last minute kind of people so getting in somewhere is usually impossible. we’ve tried a few times. This year’s’ dinner was going to be seared scallops over risotto and he wanted a bitter green. First one that came to mind was baby bok choy. Gosh I wonder why – this is one of the dishes at our favorite local restaurant where we first tried it.

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Searing scallops check, making yummy risotto check, preparing baby bok choy no idea! They are actually quite simple so I wanted to share with you a simple but effective way to maybe bring baby bok choy into your kitchen and not just for a special occasion.

6-8 heads of baby bok choy, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbs fresh lemon
1 tbs white wine
freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 450’F. in a small bowl add oil, garlic and salt and toss with trimmed baby bok choy. Roast on lower rack, stirring a couple of times until wilted and tender crisp; about 6 minutes. Whisk lemon juice and zest along with the wine and pepper in a small bowl. drizzle over the roasted bok choy and arranged on your platter.

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Having a DVR is a great and terrible thing! I just got back from vacation and had WAY to many shows to catch up on. Thankfully no plans this weekend so I was able to binge watch most of them. One of the shows I just finished watching was Master Chef Junior. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the 2 nine year old’s in the final round and at the same time how much more there is I need to learn. They know techniques and flavor profiles and are not afraid of any ingredients at age 9. I am far from 9 and there are a ton of ingredients I haven’t yet discovered. The only reason I am mentioning this show was the winner made her entree with baby bok choy and cooked it to perfection plus it wasn’t her first time using the ingredient. They made a souffle to get into the final round; I have always been intimidated by souffles but I will be making one soon!

 

Garlic and Herb Crusted Standing Rib Roast

I realize I am still technically on vacation, we just arrived on St Thomas where we will be boarding our plane tomorrow night. I also apologize for the delay in posting this; our last night in the BVI we did not have WIFI and this is the first I have had to sit and relax a second. Never been a fan of travel days. It’s always a hurry up and wait. I will stop complaining since I am very fortunate to be on vacation.

I thought you might like to see a few cool pictures I took this past week

I just asked my husband if he wanted to stay in an order room service; a big juicy cheese burger. I am craving beef which is why I am sharing this recipe with you’ my mouth is already watering.

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This past Christmas was going to be a very small one just the four of us. Usually we have a full house so this year was completely foreign to all of us. Not in a bad way; it was actually pretty nice. We stayed in pj’s all day some of us even stayed in them for dinner.

Because there were so few of us, I definitely splurged on Christmas dinner. Another funny thing about this Christmas was I didn’t really have a plan of attack. When hosting a large crowd I tend to make lists, timelines and many kinds of dishes to have on hand. We tend to host not only dinner but sometimes lunches, breakfast for the entire weekend. This year I didn’t really have a plan, so the day before Christmas eve I asked my daughter to call the butchers and order a standing rib roast for us. When she went to pick it up, he mentioned that she was very lucky she called when she did; she go the last one and several people had called after her phew dodged that bullet.

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We had the butcher remove the bones for us, and they tied it which I didn’t really want but they asked her if we would like to make it easier for us. I was cool with the removing of the bones and normally would have been fine with tying but I wanted to make this one very herbaceous, yeah that’s a $2 word and no I didn’t spell it right; my daughter will get a chuckle out of this.

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For more intense flavor if you can salt and pepper the roast a day before you want to cook it you should. Salt and Pepper liberally cover and place in the fridge over night. Make sure you have some kitchen twine on hand just in case you need it. This is also a good time to invest in a good quality meat thermometer, essential for such an expensive cut of meat. Even though I owned a thermometer; mine failed me and I threw it away. I will be purchasing a new quality one very soon!

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Rule of thumb is 1 rib should feed 2 people, we ordered 3 ribs because we like leftovers.

1 standing beef rib roast
4 cloves of garlic –  make into a paste
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary – 2 leaves removed and finely chopped
8 sprigs of fresh thyme – 4 leaved removed and finely chopped
2-3 tbs olive oil
1 ½ cup red wine
½ cup beef stock
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

If you didn’t salt and pepper the day before, season the beef all over.

Let the roast sit out for 1 hour prior to roasting. preheat oven to 450’F

In a medium bowl add garlic, chopped herbs and 2-3 tbs olive oil to form a paste. Coat roast and ribs with the herb oil mixture. season with a little more fresh cracked black pepper. depending on how large your roast is you will need to tie up the roast to hold it in shape using kitchen twine.

in a roasting pan, place the rack of ribs with the ends pointing up. Place a remaining sprigs of rosemary and thyme on top of the rack. Place roast, fat side up inside the rack of ribs so they act as a roasting rack. Pour the wine and beef stock into the bottom of the pan.

Place in the bottom half of the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350’ and continue to cook for another 1 ½ hours to 2. You want the internal temperature of the roast to be 125’F for medium-rare. You should plan on basting the roast every 30 minutes or so. If the pan starts to get fry add a little more stock or water.

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Remove to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 30 minutes, if you can wait longer an hour is not a bad thing. Separate the ribs and thinly slice the roast. Serve with the pan juices or make a nice gravy.

Clean out the fridge frittata

I mostly blog the day my posts come out which is every Sunday. I am getting ready to leave for vacation and will be away for two Sundays and I was worried that I would not have Wifi where I am going so yesterday I wrote 3 blogs; just in case. Honestly I really want to be able to write while I am gone. How cool; for me anyway; to write while sitting on a beach or for one of the Sundays we are sailing with another couple on a 38’ catamaran which we are captaining ourselves. It sounds glorious and it might be, but I will admit I am a little nervous; we’ve never done anything like this before and only one of the four of us has ever sailed. Wish us luck!

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I was going to use one of the blogs I already wrote but inspiration struck this morning and I just can’t help myself. I am making my grocery shopping list and taking fridge inventory. I pulled out both vegetable bins and put them on the island. There was a summer squash and zucchini on their way out, half an onion, one lonely clove of garlic; not sure how that happened, some fresh thyme and a few scallions. I also took out a few of the leftovers in containers and had some leftover ham and extra chopped up cooked bacon and a frittata was born. My daughter said “haven’t you written about frittata’s before” Yes but I just felt compelled to do it again. Sorry if I am repeating myself but these are a great way to use up some less desirable or not enough for a whole meal items from your fridge. 

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I chopped everything up and starting building flavors in my cast iron skillet. You can see by the pictures I left my wooden spatula in most all the pictures, that is kind of a nod to my son; he made it for me when he was in middle school. I’ll have to show him the pictures since he was not here this morning to see me using it. I was pretty proud of my creation this morning and the look on my daughter’s face confirmed it; plus she took a picture of her plate and posted or sent it somewhere!

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This mornings Frittata

1/2 onion diced small
1 clove of garlic smashed and chopped
1 small summer squash chopped – I also peeled mine because it wasn’t pretty
1 medium zucchini – I peeled this one too again it was on it’s way out
1 small broccoli chopped
4 small tomatoes chopped
3 scallions sliced
chunk of ham chopped
crisped chopped bacon
2-3 sprigs of thyme stemmed removed and chopped
6 eggs – I only had 5 so that is what I used
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded cheese
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
I also put some siracha in a few spots just to add a little heat you can see it in the last picture, there’s not much but it adds a little love.

saute the onions just till softened, add heartier vegetables first and the tender ones last just so they don’t breakdown to nothing, the meat I used was already cooked so a quick toss around was fine for them, beat the eggs and milk together and and pour over the ingredients, add a little cheese and just a quick mix in. Top with scallions and a little more salt and pepper.  Cook on top for about 3-5 minutes and then place under the broiler with the rack a rung or two below the top to set the eggs and brown watch but it should take about 10 minutes.

Bon Voyage

Braised Beef Short Ribs

I’m guessing it is the cold weather or maybe it’s the extra days off over the holidays but there is nothing like having something cooking on the stove, in the oven or even in a crockpot all day long that just brings a smile to my face.ham hock and lentil soup 030

I think I would be lost without my Dutch oven; I fry, brown, stew and braise in it. I feel very strongly that every kitchen needs to have one or if you are really lucky maybe two of them. There is just so much you can create with it and it can stand up the long hours in the oven.

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I think the first time I tried braised short ribs was in a local restaurant and that was it, I had to make them and I have several times since, they do take some time on the stove top but the rewards are well worth it and it makes the house smell just amazing. They end up super tender; no knife need, and surround them with flavors you love, you just can’t go wrong.

I do love braising short ribs to use up the leftover red wine, I know right how does that happen; on occasion we do have leftover red wine and this is a great way to use it up. While you don’t HAVE to braise in red or white wine you will need some liquid an acid and lots of flavor. You can use beef or chicken stock, you can use tomato sauce or vinegar or even lemon for acid and flavors can come from herbs, spices or even fruit, plums would work for instance. Just be creative as you want with things you have at home.

Braised Short Ribs

6-8 whole beef short ribs
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup flour
diced pancetta
2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion diced
3 whole carrots peeled and finely diced
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 cups red wine (your choice of acid here)
2 cups beef broth (your choice of flavor here)
2 sprigs thyme
2 springs rosemary
2-3 cloves minced garlic

Salt, pepper and flour ribs set aside

In a large dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until crispy and all the fat is rendered. Remove pancetta leaving the grease in the pan and set aside.

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Add olive oil to the pan with the grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides; about 1 minute per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Add onions, carrots, garlic and shallots to pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour liquid, in my case my leftover red wine and scrape up all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes.

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Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and some fresh cracked black pepper. One thing to remember that flavors will intensify while it cooks down, so be careful not to over salt. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add whole thyme and rosemary sprigs to the liquid.

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Put the lid on and place in the oven. Cook at 350’ for about 2 hours. Then reduce heat to 325’ and cook for additional 30-45 minutes. Ribs for be fork tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from the oven and allow to sit at least 20 minutes, with the lid on before serving. Make sure to skim off the fat from the top of the liquid. You can also refrigerate so the fat becomes a solid and is a lot easier to remove.

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Serve over mashed potatoes or polenta or even noodles. Spoon the liquid gold gravy over the top

Beef Burgundy

My girlfriend KP made this “her way” a week or so ago and sent me a text “Soooo Yummy!!! U gotta make it” I also can’t help thinking Ron Burgundy every time I say Beef Burgundy 🙂

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I do have pretty good intentions when I make up my grocery shopping list for the week. Even though I mostly have a plan; sometimes life happens and I just can’t get to what I planned on cooking. This week I bought 5-lb beef chuck roast with the whole intention of prepping my slow-cooker some night during the week and putting it on to cook while at work. Well the week totally got away from me this week and here we are at Friday already and the roast was still sitting in the fridge.

I’m not a huge fan of freezing beef; well except for hamburger; and my guys were leaving Saturday afternoon for a 5-day ski trip out West so I decided to try something new. I prepped the crock-pot when I got home from work Friday night and put it on before I went to bed. I figured we would have it for lunch; it is a little extravagant for our typical Saturday lunch; but I didn’t have to freeze the roast and I sent the guys off with a really nice meal.

My buddy SF was here as he was going skiing with my guys; he has made a few of the meals from this blog and he really liked this one but when I told him “it is a process” I could tell he was a little less thrilled. He tends to take recipes and tweaks them a little to what he has on hand or feels like. I totally respect that – KP did the same thing! I can’t wait for him to try this recipe and tell me how he made it his own.

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Beef Burgundy

1 (5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

Kosher Salt & Fresh cracked Black Pepper

1 tbs olive oil

4-5 pieces of bacon cooked to crisp and minced

2-3 onions, minced

1 carrot, peeled and minced

¼ cup tomato paste

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp dried thyme

1/3 cup flour

2 ½ cups or 1 bottle Pinot Noir

1 ½ cups chicken broth

1/3 soy sauce

2 bay leaves

2 cups frozen pearl onions

½ cup water

3 tbs unsalted butter

2 tsp sugar

1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved if small or quartered if large

Dry beef with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Place half of beef in the slow cooker. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking; brown remaining beef well on all sides transfer to slow cooker.

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Cook bacon in the skillet until crisp remove and set aside. Stir in chopped onions, carrot, tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1 ¼ cups wine, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

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Stir in broth, soy sauce, and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender. 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.

About 20 minutes before serving, bring frozen pearl onions, water, butter, and sugar to boil in 12-inch skillet. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook until onions are fully thawed and tender. 5-8 minutes. Uncover, bring to a boil, and cook until all liquid evaporates. Stir in mushrooms and cook until vegetables are browned and glazed. Transfer to slow cooker.

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Add remaining 1 ¼ cups wine to skillet and simmer until reduced by half. Let stew settle for 5-10 minutes, then remove the fat from the top. Discard bay leaves, adjust stew consistency with hot broth if needed, mine did not. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sever over mashed potatoes.

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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

Eggplant Parmesan – that will convert you

All through high school I worked at a local Pizza place, there were a few items that I swore that I would never try; they looked and smelled WAY too funky for me.  Here is yet another example of never say never.  Feta cheese came in a metal vat filled with what I believe was oil or a vinegar maybe.  We had to take a chunk out at a time and crumble it; the smell was horrid. Another was breaded eggplant, it just looked and felt wrong on all levels and then there was the dreaded anchovy the smell and look was just plain rancid; we used to flip to see who had to make the anchovy pizza when someone ordered it.

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Now as an adult I love feta cheese, it adds so much tart briny flavor to anything you put it on.  I love adding it to pasta salad it makes it pop. I still would not order an anchovy pizza but I do appreciate a true Caesar salad made with them and I understand why and when they are needed; I even have a can of them in my pantry as I write this.  The recipe I am going to share now for Eggplant Parmesan has completely changed my mind about the veggie and I am now open to and have used eggplant so much so, that I am thinking of planting it in next year’s garden. With age comes wisdom – or as I explain it; you have to try new food as you get older your taste buds change.

I have also used the sauce for a quick pasta sauce during the week; it has a great taste and a little kick. My mother and a friend were here visiting the last few weeks and I made this; they both loved it and wanted the recipe. My mom even said and I quote “I thought mine was really good but this one I want the recipe” I hope she is reading this and smiling…

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Sauce

2 tbs. good olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 ½ tsp sugar

2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano plum tomatoes

Kosher salt

Eggplant

2 medium eggplants sliced ½ inch thick rounds

½ cup flour

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

3 large eggs

1½ tbs milk

2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs

1½ tsp dried oregano

1½ tsp thyme

Vegetable oil for frying – about 1 inch in the pan you are using

12-16 ounces fresh mozzarella thinly sliced

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups sliced provolone

Slice the eggplant and sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and let sit while you make the sauce.  Place on paper towels on a sheet pan.

In a large skillet add the olive oil heat over medium. Add the onions saute for 1-2 minutes; add the garlic and season with salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes.  Saute till the onion are translucent about 6-7 minutes.  Add the sugar and tomatoes, while you are pouring them out of the can squeeze to break them up a bit. Reduce heat to medium low and cook stirring occasionally about 15-20 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant under water and dry off thoroughly with some paper towels. The reason we do this step draws out some of the liquid and removes some of the bitterness.

Get out 3 pie plates or whatever you use when you batter and fry.  Flour goes in one, eggs and milk in another and the third combine the breadcrumbs, oregano and thyme.  Make sure to salt and pepper each pie plate. Dredge each eggplant round in the flour, shake off excess. Dip in the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Lay each round on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke lightly (between 380’ and 400’) Use tongs to add and flip the eggplant, making sure to each piece is golden brown, I like them a little extra crispy so they are not mushy.  Transfer to a sheet pan covered with paper towels.  Repeat until all pieces are fried.

Preheat oven to 350’ using an 11 x 13 baking dish

Spoon some sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer eggplant over sauce slightly overlapping, top with some mozzarella and the some provolone; repeat with remaining sauce, eggplant and cheeses.  Press the layers firmly into the dish. Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. About 35-40 minutes.

Soups on – Yummy Tomato Soup from my garden

I have had a garden every year for the last 25+ years.  Every year there is a crop or two that just does not do well; my tomatoes have never been one of them.  Though they seem to all come at the same time which is not ideal as who could possibly eat 30+ tomatoes before they go bad. I do give some away; I also freeze several bags. I tried making spaghetti sauce and canning it, it wasn’t my favorite and was quite time consuming.  This year I finally purchased a food mill; what a great invention; should have bought one years ago.

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The weather lately has been very cold and that screams a hot pot of soup.  I used my new purchase and made some pretty damn yummy tomato soup. Add some chives, thyme, basil or dill, sour cream, cheddar cheese, or goat cheese whatever your taste buds fancy.  Make some grilled cheese sandwiches and you have a wonderful meal.

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Tomato Soup

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 large white onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

3 cups lower-salt chicken broth

5-6 large tomatoes peeled and seeded – a food mill accomplishes this best

Or use a 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes, pureed include the juice

1 ½ tsp. sugar

1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the onion a cook till soft, add garlic cook another minute. Add the flour and stir to coat the onion and garlic.

Add the broth, tomatoes, sugar, thyme, and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring, making sure the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer 40 minutes.  If using sprig of thyme, remove.  Let it cool slightly and then puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Rinse the pot and return the soup; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Garnish as desired.

If you ever wondered what to do with the rind of your parmesan reggiano save them up in a plastic baggy in the fridge and you can add them to your soup while it is simmering. Remove before you puree.

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Pork the Other White Meat

This past year or so we have definitely explored pork more often and in a varied of ways; and thoroughly enjoyed the journey.  I am not sure when or who said pork apples and mustard sounds delicious let’s put them together; but damn were they right.  Some of the recipes I have tried and loved are in my monthly and sometimes weekly meal plans.  BBQ Pulled Pork with Homemade Coleslaw on a bun is outstanding and simple – I had no idea.

Growing up I knew that we had applesauce with our pork chops but I was pretty sure that was to add some liquid to the chewy dry overcooked piece of meat we were served.  Thankfully we are now able to have a juicy cooked to perfection chop, loin, bone-in, boneless vehicle to add so many different combinations of flavors – I am hooked!

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Pork Chops with Cider-Dijon sauce

4 center-cut-bone-in chop
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 apple – Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith halved, cored, and cut into small diced pieces
1 medium shallot, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup apple cider
½ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (coarse-grain if you have it)

Position rack in the center of the oven – pre heat at 425’F Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Season the chop with 1tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp pepper. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  If needed working in batches, sear the chops on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the baking sheet and roast until no longer pink near the bone. About 8-10 min.

Lower heat to medium and add the apples, shallots and thyme to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown and soften, about 2 minutes.  Add the cider, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan, cook until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Add the broth and mustard and continue cooking until slightly reduced, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve the sauce over the chops.

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Roast Pork Loin with Apples

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (2-pound) boneless center cut pork loin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
2 carrots, thickly sliced
2 stalks celery, thickly, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs fresh thyme and/or
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 apples, Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith, cored and cut into slices
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large ovenproof skillet heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Season the pork loin all over generously with salt and pepper. Sear the meat until golden brown on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate and set it aside. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, herb, and 2 tablespoons of the butter to the skillet. Stir until the vegetables are browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the sliced apples, then push the mixture to the sides and set the pork loin in the middle of the skillet along with any collected juices on the plate. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the loin until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 140 to 150 degrees F, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Pork cooked this way will be slightly pink. If desired, cook the pork to 160 degrees F, but note that this lean cut will not be as moist at the higher temperature.

Transfer the pork a cutting board and cover it loosely with foil while you make the sauce. Arrange the apples and vegetables on a serving platter and set aside. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Return the skillet to a high heat and add the vinegar scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen up any browned bits. Reduce by half then add the cider and reduce by about half again. Pull the skillet from the heat and whisk in the mustard, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.
Slice into 1/2-inch thick pieces and arrange over the apple mixture. Drizzle some sauce over meat and serve the rest on the side.