Thursday, January 4, 2018

Mustard and Herb Marinated Pork Chops with Cheesy Grits and Baby Zucchini

Pork Chops are probably one of those things you dread making at home because the main complaint you get is they are dry dry dry when cooked. Overcooking is the enemy of really yummy pork chops and I realize that these days there are still people afraid of under cooking pork but this really is a non problem because the disease trichinosis which was an issue with pork has been eradicated from the meat.

The secret to really great pork chops is simply this. Marinating and not overcooking. There are other ways to cook pork chops but I'll give you my method and hopefully it will help you cook perfect pork chops every time.

Step One Marinate:

1 cup oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Herb De Provence spice mix

Place 4 2 to 2/1/2 inch thick cut pork chops in a plastic bag and pour in marinade
Place in the fridge for 1 hour turning 3 times

Heat a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of oil over med high heat

Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry and sprinkle both sides with a pinch of the Herb De Provence mix again.

Lay chops into pan no need to season as chops were brined.

Sear for 5 minutes then turn over and sear for 5 more minutes.

Reduce heat and turn once more cook for another 3 minutes.

Place chops out of the pan onto a cutting board and cover with foil let rest 6 to eight minutes while you prepare the plates with the grits and the zucchini and make pan sauce

On same pan with pork drippings pour 2 tablespoon cider vinegar. When warm add 2 tablespoons of butter. When melted add a heaping teaspoon of Dijon mustard.

Place chops onto prepared plates and spoon sauce over chops, garnish with flaky sea salt and chopped parsley.

For Grits:

Bring 3 cups to boil with 1 dried bay leaf with 11/2 teaspoons salt.
Add 1 cup hominy stone ground grits in the water whisking in slowly to avoid clumping.
Reduce heat and cook stirring often until the grits are thickened about 5 minutes.
Add one cup cream (or milk) and cook till thick and creamy about 10 minutes
Stir in 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese and 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
Serve quickly after cooking add water if it sits on the heat and stir to thin out.

Prepare any green vegetable you want and serve with the chops and grits.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Brunch Madame?

Croque Madame is the ultimate brunch food and one that is hard to pass up when deciding whether there to "benny" or not to benny". It usually wins out over Eggs Benedict although I love those too.

It's the french super sized grilled ham and cheese that is the stuff of dreams. I first had this sandwich in high school at a little French place that was a hang out at Tyson's Corner Mall in the 80's.

It's good and I now I make it home for a crowd for brunch parties. If you have Veggie friends just leave off the Ham. It's still cheesy yummy good.

Give these a try and Madame will treat you right!

Gastropub Style Croque Madame with Mornay and Raclette

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
5 ounces of shredded Gruyere cheese
salt and pepper
nutmeg to taste
12 pieces of thick 3/4 inch white toasting bread, Pullman loaf if you want.
12-16 slices of baked ham super thin slices
8 slices of raclette cheese
6 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 eggs
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
2 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley


For Sauce:

Heat butter in a pot till frothy then add in the flour
Whisk mixture till smooth
Cook for about one minute
Whisk Milk in slowly till all incorporated
Reduce heat and simmer till thickened and slightly reduced
Slowly add in the cheese till melted and smooth
Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg


Toast all slices of bread
Place 6 slices of the toasted bread on a baking sheet
Spread the Dijon on the bread
Top with Ham and then with Raclette cheese
Broil the sandwiches till the cheese is melted and bubbling
Top sandwiches with the remaining bread
Slather with cheese sauce until covered even let it roll down the sides
Replace baking sheet under the broiler
Broil till bubbling and a little brown
Turn off broiler and heat oven to 300 leave sandwiches to stay warm till eggs are cooked

Slowly fry the eggs in the oil till sunny side and still runny
Top Sandwiches being held in the oven each with one egg each till all are eggs are fried and all sandwiches are ready to serve.
Garnish with chives and parsley on top to serve.

Serve with a mixed greens salad with a spicy vinaigrette

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Beef Bourguignon

The first time I ever had Beef Bourguignon was when I was 19 and living in Switzerland. One family I knew invited us over for dinner and the wife who was french made Beef Bourguignon. There in that dining room in the sparkling candle light I knew why it was an amazing dish. Succulent and rich it was the embodiment of winter comfort food. Incredible.

So when I about 10 years ago decided to make Beef Bourguignon I thought about using Julia  Child's famous and recipe. The problem was two fold. I was visiting a friend's mountain house there was there a braising pot but no cookbook from Julia Child. Just a book with a recipe for burgundy beef from the 1970's. I decided to give it a try. So inspired with this recipe and cooking tool I went to the market got the ingredients and made the dish. It was really good, no really. So I was satisfied that I had made the recipe to a respectable level and made it this way for years. Then it all changed.

My friend's Ken and Rick invited me over to a dinner party one evening and Rick announced that he had made Julia's Beef Bourguignon recipe and we would be having it for dinner. Well it was revelatory. Amazing, incredible. And I felt compelled to try it. So armed with the recipe I too made Julia's recipe and again the results were amazing. But oh my God it was a process.

So I took a few ideas from Julia and kept my own version. It's pretty darn good though. So if you give it a try leave me a comment.

Forrest's Beef Bourguignon Recipe
Serves 6 to 8 really well

3 pounds of chuck stew meat cubed
oil for cooking
Flour for coating the beef heavily seasoned
1 white onion finely chopped
2 carrots finely diced
2 stalks of celery finely chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 bay leaves dried
1 small can tomato paste
4 strips of bacon chopped
1 bottle rich red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 bag frozen pearl onions
1 bag mini carrots cut in thirds and boiled until just softened
2 8 oz packs of white mushrooms quartered
1/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 325
In a large bowl toss the beef with enough seasoned flour to coat very well
In a heavy enameled baking casserole brown beef in batches till browned
Add oil each time so each batch browns.
Don't overcrowd or the beef will steam and you want some browning and caramelising
Hold browned beef to the side on a plate
Cook the bacon till just done remove from pan leave the drippings
Cook the onions, celery and carrots in the drippings till almost soft add 4 cloves of minced garlic
Add the tomato paste and combine with vegetables
Using some wine deglaze the bits from the bottom of the pan
Add the beef, the bacon, the spices the salt and pepper and stir gently
Then pour in the rest of the wine and then add enough beef broth till just covered
Bring to a boil and then turn off heat
Place in the oven for about 2 hours. At this point add the mushrooms and the pearl onions and brandy
Turn oven to 350 and cook for another 30 minutes
Add in the cooked carrots right before serving
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Place on the stove over low heat until ready to eat.
Serve with well buttered mashed potatoes

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tomato Bruschetta Dinner Al Fresco Italiano

Summer is the best time to eat tomatoes. I love them. I think that during the warm Summer months when things are a little freer and time slides by a little slower it's only fair to say the the produce makes the season. And I think that tomatoes in particular are an amazingly special gift with their sun kissed skins nearly bursting with juicy deliciousness.

So these little beauties are the star of my summer evening table. I love making bruschetta in general. But when faced with the choice of ingredients I go for the gold with these.

The other obvious part of bruschetta is of course the bread. So the choice for a base is important. I am choosing focaccia because I love it's flaky soft juicy texture and when crisped it is tremendously delicious.

So here's a quick recipe for your backyard this summer. Enjoy!


Fresh Grape or Cherry Tomatoes halved
Ricotta Cheese full fat about 8 oz
basil pesto ( you can make or buy this at your grocer)
Fresh basil about a bunch
Good quality olive oil ( a great olive oil really makes the difference, spend the money)
Sea Salt Flakes and Pepper
1 small loaf of Rosemary or plain focaccia bread


Cut bread into rectangular segments about 4 inches by 12 inches then slice bread into square slices about 1/2 in thick.
Heat oven to 375
Place bread on a baking sheet and then drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes
Bake until the bread is a little brown and toasty
Remove from the oven and let cool
Mix the ricotta cheese till smooth and creamy and season with salt and pepper to taste
Cut the basil leaves into chiffonade
Mix the tomatoes with just enough olive oil to coat nicely
Top the bread with a good smear of the pesto then a dallop of the ricotta
Top the bread slices with the tomatoes and then the fresh basil mixture
Sprinkle with a drizzle of the oilve oil and a little sea salt and pepper and serve

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Beet Salad with Buttermilk Whipped Ricotta, Pistachios, Sherry Vinaigrette and Horseradish

This salad is a cheat. What I mean by that is I hate hate hate cooking beets. Yes I hate the mess and the time involved. So I found a great product and I used it to make this salad and I'm not sorry. Not fuss, no mess, no trying to get red stains out of my kitchen. I'm not sorry.

So how do you make this salad?  And I'm telling you you should make this salad if you like beets because it's so simple and so delicious.

First you take ricotta and you put it in a bowl. You add salt and pepper and 3 tablespoons of buttermilk. Then you take a whisk and you whip it till combined. Then cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for about three hours.

When you are ready to make the salad this is what you do. You take a jar...yes a jar of Trader Joes beets in vinaigrette. This product is amazing. It's not your normal pickled beets (which you could use) but you don't even have to cut up the beets cause they have done it already. You just drain them really well. As you can tell from the picture I did not do that too well on this batch but oh well it was yummy.

Take your serving plate. This will serve 2 to 4 people depending on what else you are serving as a first course or salad. Take you ricotta and mound it in the middle of the plate. Then using a large tablespoon push the ricotta out of the center forming a barrier or wall of cheese in a circle. Then in the empty space carefully pour or spoon in your beets. Pour a little Sherry vinegar and really really good olive oil over the beets and season the top with sea salt flakes and pepper. Top with a few dallops of prepared horseradish and sprinkle with the nuts. If you want to get fancy zest some lemon over the top. Garnish with whatever green herb you have on hand. I used chives.

That's it. It's so easy and such a cheat and so so so good. I love it and you will too!

Ingredients: for a portion serving 2 to 4

1 jar Trader Joe's Beets in Vinaigrette - drained
1 8 Oz container Ricotta, (You'll use about 2/3's of this for the salad but mix the whole container with with the butter milk and use the rest later)
3 tablespoons buttermilk
Prepared Horseradish
Salt and pepper
Sherry Vinegar
Olive oil

Please feel free to comment I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Smoked Salmon and Egg Breakfast Smorebrot

Smoked Salmon is probably one of the best known and most popular smoked fishes there is. I mean you'd almost have to be living under a rock these days in the U.S. not to have had exposure to it. It's good many times of the day but truth be told breakfast is my favorite time of day to enjoy it.

I'm obsessed with opened faced sandwiches and ever since being a kid and growing up with mother and grandmother who had Scandinavian roots I have loved sandwiches like these.  They are called Smorebrot that's the original term and they are normally served at lunch or for a light supper. Not having the top piece of bread just makes the sandwich more about the filling than the bread I feel. Unless you are grilling a sandwich or making a deli classic I just enjoy a good opened faced dish.

To make a great opened face Smorebrot or you have to start with great bread. So here I started with a delicious sourdough 7 grain loaf that I got at the Oakland farmer's market and brought back to NYC with me.

To this I added a layer of scallion cream cheese mixed loaded with scallions and chives. Then I added the Salmon. Now mind you this was no ordinary smoked salmon, no this was Pastrami smoked salmon. It has an unrivaled flavor and is so herbacious it makes one's taste buds spin. Pastrami we normally think of as beef. But here the same spices used to cure pastrami are used to sure the salmon. It's delicious.

But since this is breakfast we topped this off with a fried egg and then some chives for color and taste.

So give these a try you can easily find all the ingredients at the market and frying the egg is the hardest thing.  Enjoy!

Smoked Salmon Smorebrot
Serves 4

4 slices of good bread cut 1/2 inch thick and toasted
12 ounces of pastrami smoked Salmon
Scallion cream cheese ( You can buy this from your favorite bagel place or supermarket or make it yourself by blending room temperature cream cheese with loads of chopped scallions and chives and some salt.
4 eggs cooked sunny side up.

Assemble all ingredients as shown in order and garnish with some parsley or more chives and some sea salt and pepper

Monday, July 10, 2017

Egg Salad

Eggs are probably one of the most versatile foods around and egg salad is definitely one dish that most people first encounter at home. Your Mom probably mashed up eggs, mayo, maybe onion or celery and some salt and pepper and piled it on bread or toast. It's a simple dish and one that can bring back the memory of weekend lunches or Summer picnics.

Egg salad is also a deli case favorite and here in all Deli's all over New York. It's served up traditionally on sandwiches and even for breakfast on bagels toasted and crispy. Often this egg salad is also pretty simple and often the bagels chosen as a favorite is the everything bagel which is a bagel covered with spices and seeds and is in fact just delicious.

So I found myself with some eggs I needed to use up and a bottle of "Everything Spices" from "Trader Joe's" and I thought lets try and make a really cool egg salad that takes the salad and the bagel and brings it all together.

Now let's face it. The base of any great sandwich is the bread. But these days many of us are trying to eat less bread. Having grown up in a family that was half Scandinavian I grew up eating open face sandwiches. As they are traditional in the nordic kitchen. They are also a way to cut down on the bread factor without taking away all the "carby" enjoyment that goes along with eating a sandwich.

I used a sourdough 7 grain loaf from the farmer's market that I sliced the perfect thickness and toasted. Delicious!

So here's my take on Egg Salad. I hope you enjoy!

7 eggs boiled cooled and peeled
2/3 cup mayo plus one Tablespoon
1/4 cup very finely chopped green onion white and green
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 Tablespoon dill or sweet pickle relish (depending on your taste)
1/4 cup chopped dill
2 teaspoons lemon juice
dash of curry powder
2 teaspoons "Everything Seasoning" (Contains salt)
Japanese Style Fried Onions
Dried Parsley for garnish


In a bowl mash eggs and add all ingredients mash again to combine then stir to make smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning add salt and pepper as desired.

Top toast generously with the egg salad and sprinkle with more "everything seasoning" and top with the fried onions. Enjoy!