GRILLED BONELESS PORK CHOPS




Throwing a pork chop on the grill is such a quick meal, but sometimes they can get a bit dry.  I found this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated that suggests brining it to help it hold on to its juices during cooking.  To get a nice brown crust before the chop overcooks, they suggest smearing an anchovy-based paste on it.  The anchovy paired with the honey kick-starts the browning to give the chop a crisp, burnished crust in record time.  They also listed an onion and olive relish to top it with which I also made.  We enjoyed the relish, but even if I am not making the relish I will do my pork chops this way when I am grilling them.

3 (6-8 oz) boneless pork chops, ¾ to 1” thick, trimmed
3 TB salt
1 TB olive oil
1-1/2 t. honey
1 t. anchovy paste (comes in a tube)
½ t. freshly ground black pepper
Onion-Olive Relish*, optional

Cut 2 slits about 1” apart through outer layer of fat and connective tissue on each chop to prevent buckling.  Dissolve salt in 1-1/2 qts cold water in large container.  Submerge chops in brine and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat your gas grill on high for about 15 minutes.  Leave the primary burner on high and turn off other burners.

Whisk oil, honey, anchovy paste, and pepper together to form smooth paste.  Remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Using spoon, spread half of oil mixture evenly over 1 side of each chop (about ¼ t. per side).

Oil cooking grate.  Place chops, oiled side down, voer hotter side of grill and cook, uncovered, until well browned on first side, 4-6 minutes.  While chops are grilling, spread remaining oil mixture evenly over second side of chops.  Flip chops and continue to cook until chops register 140 degrees, 4-6 minutes longer.  (If chops are well browned but register less than 140 degrees, move to cooler side of grill to finish cooking.)  Transfer chops to plate and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

*ONION-OLIVE RELISH:
2 TB olive oil
1 onion, diced
¼ c. pitted kalamata olives, chopped coarsely
2 TB rinsed capers, optional
1-1/2 TB balsamic vinegar
1 TB minced fresh parsley
½ t. sugar
¼ t. anchovy paste
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
Dash salt

Heat 1 TB oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Transfer onion mixture to a small bowl; stir in olives, capers if using, vinegar, parsley, sugar, anchovy paste, pepper, salt and remaining 1TB oil.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

ERIC’S AWARD WINNING LEMON-LIME MERINGUE TARTS




My son Eric works for a production company in LA, and since the name is Pilgrim their main holiday party is at Thanksgiving.  So the Wednesday before Thanksgiving they had a big shindig, including a pie baking contest.  Eric entered these lemon tarts that he got out of Rebecca Rather’s Pastry Queen cookbook.  (The Tuxedo Cake in my blog is also from her cookbook -- the lady knows her stuff!!)  Eric won prettiest pie, voted on by 200 co-workers, best fruit pie, and the grand prize for best all around pie, which were selected by judges.  His prizes totalled $2550!!!  So the picture is actually what he entered and included lemons and limes that were sugared and then torched.  One judge told him he didn't even like lemon, but that Eric's pie was great so he gave him a score of 10 out of 10. To say I’m a proud mama doesn’t even come close to it.  One interesting note is that out of 62 pies his was the only entry that had meringue on it – could that really be a Southern thing?  The meringue is made in a unique way and is truly wonderful, tasting more like marshmallow cream than typical meringue.  All the components of the pies are wonderful – the crust, the curd and the meringue.  They are a bit of a chore to make but if you love lemon meringue, these are worth your time.  He made them for us at Xmas and they are truly heavenly.


CRUST:
1-1/2 c. pecans
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
1 c. powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
1-1/2 c. flour
¼ t. salt

LEMON-LIME CURD:
10 extra large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
1-1/2 c. sugar
½ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ c. freshly squeezed lime juice
Zest of 2 lemons
2 TB unsalted butter

MERINGUE:
10 extra large egg whites, room temperature
3 c. sugar

To make the crusts preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic.  With your fingers, butter eight 4-3/8”, 1 cup capacity disposable foil tartlet pans, using about 2 TB softened butter.  Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla, then gradually add the flour and salt and combine on low speed until incorporated.  Add the nuts and mix on low speed just until they are incorporated.  Form the dough into a ball – it will be sticky – and cover it with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees again.  Remove the dough from the frig, divide into 8 equal portions, and press into the prepared pans, making sure it comes up to the top edge of the pans.  If the dough sticks to your hands, dust them with flour as often as necessary.  Bake the crusts about 20 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before filling with lemon-lime curd.  (Don’t worry if the tart bottoms look wrinkly.)  At this point the crusts can be cooled and stored in airtight containers for up to 2 days.

To make the curd whisk the egg yolks, sugar, lemon and lime juices, and zest in the top of a double boiler.  Add the butter to the egg yolk mixture and whixk until melted and smooth.  Cook about 50 minutes, stirring lightly with a whisk about every 15 minutes.  The curd should be thick, resembling the consistency of loose custard.  Transfer the warm mixture to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the surface of the curd, sealing it and leaving no air between the wrap and the curd.  Refrigerate the curd for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.  For express cooling, freeze it for at least 1 hour.

To make the meringue set a large, perfectly clean metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Pour in the egg whites and sugar.  (If there is a trace of fat in the bowl, the eggs won’t reach their proper volume.)  Heat the egg whites and sugar while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue.  Take a little meringue mixture and rub it between your fingers to make sure all sugar grains have melted.  Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes; increase the speed to high and beat 5 minutes longer, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler (unless you have a kitchen torch).  To assemble the tarts, spoon the chilled lemon-lime curd into the crusts, filling them about three-quarters of the way to the top.  Pile the meringue on top of the curd.  Style the meringue with your fingers by plucking at it to tease the meringue into jagged spikes.  Having a bit of meringue stuck to your fingers will help you form big spikes on the tarts.  (For those who do not like the hands on approach, stroking the meringue with the back of a spoon works almost as well, but is not as much fun.)  Set the tarts on the middle rack of the oven and broil until the meringue topping turns golden brown, about 1 minute.  Watch the tarts closely, as they can turn from browned to burned in a matter of seconds.  (If you are using a kitchen torch, hold it 2-3” away from the meringue and move the flame slowly around the meringue until it is browned all over.)  The tarts should be served the day they are assembled.


ALMOND JOY COOKIES




Scott brought this recipe to our “baking day” during the Xmas holidays, and I’m trying to catch up blogging recipes when I actually remembered to take a picture.  Since Almond Joy is at the top of the list of favorite candy bars for Justin and me, I voted yes for these cookies!  They didn’t disappoint.  You could probably just take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and add coconut and almonds and achieve the same thing, but why not just type the recipe in its original form?  Looks like a white chocolate chip from another cookie we baked somehow made its way into this picture -- oops.  Wish I had one now …

1 c. butter, softened
1-1/2 c. white sugar
1-1/2 c. brown sugar
4 eggs
3 t. vanilla
4-1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
5 c. chocolate chips
2 c. sweetened coconut
2 c. chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment.  Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time; stir in the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Stir in the chocolate chips, coconut and almonds.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

BIBIMBAP






My love for this dish started about 5 years ago when Eric and I went to eat Korean BBQ at Genwa in LA.  Now every trip to LA involves Korean BBQ – and Bibimbap (pronounced bee-bim-bop with the accent on the first syllable).  Bibim means mixed and bap means rice, and that’s exactly what this dish is – a heavenly combination of beef and flavorful vegetables with a fried egg on top and the spiciness of Korean Chili Paste that has a hint of aromatic sesame oil added – all mixed together with rice.  I’ve been told no two bibimbap dishes are the same, because it originated by using all the leftovers in the kitchen.  At the restaurants it is served in a dolsot which is a stone bowl that is heated and crisps the rice everywhere that is touching the stone and is so hot it actually cooks the egg.  I recently found a recipe on The Splendid Table website that suggested making it in a black skillet, and I do love cooking in my black skillet.  I have made it twice now and both times there were moaners.  Justin was at the ranch both times I made it, and last night I served him a bowl of it left over from the night before (I did make him a fresh egg) and he moaned on the first bite.  The crunchy rice on the bottom is always everyone’s favorite part, so if your black skillet isn’t big enough to spread it thin enough (like maybe 1-1/2 to 2”) then I would suggest using two black skillets.  The only other tricky part is mixing in the gochujang paste.  You want your whole dish to be almost pink before you bite into it which requires quite a bit of stirring, and that is SO hard to do when your mouth is watering for that first bite.  Trust me, this dish is worth the effort.  A trip to the Asian market will be a treat and will make it much easier locating all the ingredients.  Otherwise I would suggest heading to Central Market.

Gochujang Sauce** (gochujang paste can be bought at Central Market or an Asian market)
1-1/2 lbs. bulgogi beef, thinly sliced, about 1/8” thick (Asian market has it or you can use boneless rib-eye or flank steak and get the butcher to slice it thin for you), marinated***
3 cups sushi rice (I got mine at the Asian market, but Central Market might have it.)
3 large carrots, peeled and julienned (I used ½ bag matchstick carrots.)
1-2 medium zucchini, julienned
About 12 oz fresh bean sprouts
About 10 oz. fresh spinach
Combination of shitake mushrooms, sliced and either enoki or enokitake*
Toasted sesame oil
Peanut oil
Gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder – I got mine at the Asian market.)
Garlic cloves, finely diced
Reduced sodim soy sauce
Distilled white vinegar
Toasted sesame seed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Kimchi **** (can be bought at Asian market, but I made my own in advance because it is cheaper and so I could control how strong it is – make at least 2 days in advance)
Fried eggs, preferably sunny side up (1 per person)

Prepare the beef marinade and marinate the beef in the refrigerator covered for about 3 hours.  Wash the sushi rice in a mesh strainer until the water runs clear and then soak it in a bowl covered in water at least 30 minutes but 3 or so hours is even better.  Prepare the gochujang sauce and set it aside covered.  Prep all your vegetables and refrigerate until ready to use.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil.  Add the bean sprouts and cook until soft but not mushy, about 3-4 minutes.  Drain well and transfer to a bowl; stir in 2 t. toasted sesame oil and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, gochugaru and sesame seeds.  Set aside.

Drain the rice and put in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid with 3 cups of water.  Bring to boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, cover tightly and simmer until the rice is tender, about 15-20 minutes.  When all the water is gone turn off the heat and leave covered.

Meanwhile begin cooking your vegetables.  In a large black skillet, heat 1 TB sesame oil and 1 TB peanut oil and cook the carrots, zucchini and mushrooms, one at a time, until wilted and toothsome but tender enough to pierce with a fork, 3-5 minutes per vegetable.  The mushrooms may cook for a shorter time, depending on how delicate the mushrooms you bought are.  You may need to add a little oil per vegetable.  Put all your cooked vegetables in a large bowl and cover to keep warm.  I don’t mix them together but put them in individual piles in the same bowl.  In the same skillet add a little more of each oil and sauté 2 cloves of diced garlic stirring until they are fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add spinach, 2 TB soy, and 1 t. distilled white vinegar.  Stir to combine; season with salt and pepper.  Add this to the vegetable bowl.

Gently wipe any excess vegetables out of the black skillet and add 2 TB peanut oil, heating it over medium heat until it completely covers the bottom of the pan.  Spread the cooked rice into the pan in an even layer with as much rice touching the bottom as possible.  Do not stir.  Cook 10-15 minutes.

While your rice gets crispy, cook your meat.  I tried it on a grill pan on my gas grill and also on my comal on my cooktop.  I used the comal because it is black cast iron as well.  We decided the comal cooked it the best.  Try and drain as much of the juicy marinade off the meat as possible, but with the meat so thin it is difficult.  Cook the meat until it is brown on both sides, only a 1-2 minutes per side.  You will have to do this in several batches; put the cooked meat in a bowl and cover it while you are cooking the rest of the meat.

Fry the eggs in a little peanut oil.  You will want the yellow a little runny but the whites totally cooked. (If you prefer your yolks totally cooked you can do that instead.)

Check to see that the rice on the bottom of the pan is browning.  Once it is turn off the heat.  Begin layering the sprouts, vegetables, kimchi and meat on the rice still in the pan.  Top with the fried eggs.  In individual serving bowls scoop out servings, being sure to get the crunchy rice on the bottom in each bowl as well.  Cut up the egg, letting the little bit of yellow run through it.  Put a large dollop of the gochujang sauce on top of each serving.  Using 2 spoons or forks begin tossing the bibimbap with the sauce until everything appears to have been lightly coated with it, making your rice now pinkish in color.

NOW, enjoy the best rice dish you have ever tasted!

*Enoki mushrooms are very delicate with about 4”long thin stems and a little button on top.  They are cream colored and come in a small plastic bag.  They don’t have a long shelf life so don’t buy them too far in advance  Enokitake mushrooms are the cultivated version and can also be called straw mushrooms because they are grown in straw.  They come with narrow stems about 2” long and small brown buttons on top and are all connected at the bottom in a bunch.  They come in a bag to keep the bunch together.  Cut off the bottom and rinse to be sure to get all of the “straw” off the bottom.  They are both used in Asian cooking and a nice addition.  If you don’t go to an Asian market, just use sliced shitakes. 

**GOCHUJANG SAUCE:
½ c. gochujang paste
2 TB sugar (raw sugar preferred if you have it, if not use brown sugar)
2 TB toasted sesame seeds
1 t. sesame oil

Mix well and set aside covered.

***BEEF MARINADE:
1/3 c. grated Asian pear with juices
½ c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly slice
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 TB raw or brown sugar
2 t. finely diced peeled ginger

Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add beef; toss to coat.  Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

****KIMCHI
1 lg. napa cabbage, washed
1 gallon warm water
½ c. kosher salt
8-10 garlic cloves, diced
One 2” pieced peeled fresh ginger, diced
1/3 c. hot-pepper paste, such as sambal oelek (Asian section of all grocery stores)
2 TB fish sauce (Asian section of all grocery stores)
1 t. raw sugar (if you have it, if not use brown sugar)
6 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1” lengths
1 TB toasted sesame seeds

Slice the cabbage in half lengthwise.  Trim out the tough root and cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters.  Combine the water and salt in a very large bowl and stir to dissolve.  Submerge the cabbage pieces in the water, cover with a plate to hold them down and set aside for at least 2 hours on the countertop.  Meanwhile stir the garlic and ginger with the hot-pepper paste, fish sauce, sugar and green onions. 

Drain and squeeze the cabbage leaves very dry, patting between the layers with a kitchen towel.  Toss the cabbage in the hot-pepper mixture, covering each layer completely with the paste and rubbing in well.  Pack the cabbage into a clean tall glass jar and cover tightly.  Leave the jar in a dark place overnight. 

Check the kimchi after 1 day.  When you see some bubbling, which signals fermentation, transfer the kimchi to the fridge.  If the kimchi is not bubbling let it sit in the dark place another half day to a day.  (Mine sat 2 full days and I didn’t really see much bubbling, but I put it in the frig then anyway.  I was worried the longer it fermented the stronger it would taste, and I have had kimchi that is so strong it is funky to my tastebuds.)

Store the fermented kimchi in the frig for up to 3 weeks.  Cut the large pieces of cabbage into smaller pieces about 1” long and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the top before serving.