Buttermilk “Fried” Pork Chops

I have learned so much about cooking by watching Sara Moulton, particularly when she had a live cooking show many years ago. I’ve just started watching her PBS series and I’m thrilled. I have to watch a lot of episodes from previous seasons to catch up! ūüôā

She cooked this dish on the show with her son who is reportedly obsessed with making it. We absolutely loved it too- it’s a wonderful weeknight dish. I made the “warm weather” version, serving it over salad dressed with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, but plan to try the “cool weather” version as well, serving it over saut√©ed apples and cabbage with butternut squash or sweet potato pur√©e.

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used larger pork chops, used basil, thyme and cilantro in the dressing and topping, and modified the method. I served it with roasted potatoes on the side for my starch-loving husband.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Pork Chops:

  • four 1 inch-thick boneless pork chops
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 t Tabasco or Chipotle Tabasco
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 to 2 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
  • 6 to 8 T extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 T fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, cilantro, and/or basil
  • lemon wedges, for serving, optional
  • Warm Weather Version: green salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, for serving (dressing recipe below)
  • Cool Weather Version: saut√©ed apples and cabbage, for serving
  • Cool Weather Version: butternut squash or sweet potato pur√©e, for serving

For the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 T rinsed, dried, and chopped fresh mixed herbs (tarragon, chives, parsley, thyme, basil, cilantro)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To Prepare the Pork Chops:

  1. If time permits, freeze the pork chops for 30 minutes to make them easier to cut.
  2. Carefully cut each horizontally to make 2 thin chops for a total of 8 chops.
  3. Place the meat on a cutting board between 2 layers of plastic wrap.  (Alternatively, sprinkle a small amount of water into a large resealable plastic bag.  Place a pork chop in the bag and close, leaving 1/2 inch open.) Pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until the chop is about 1/8 inch thick; remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chops.
  4. Whisk together buttermilk, Tabasco, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup; press in the garlic. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag.
  5. Place the pounded chops in the bag with buttermilk mixture, one at a time making sure each one is coated, and marinate at room temperature, turning several times, for 30 minutes.
  6. Spread out the bread crumbs in a pie plate.
  7. Remove the chops from the marinade and season them with salt.
  8. Working with one chop at a time, toss the chop in the bread crumbs; shake off the excess crumbs.
  9. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stainless steel, cast iron,¬†or non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot; add half the chops. (I used a 14″ skillet over scant medium heat. Next time I will try a cast iron skillet to ease the clean up!)
  10. Sauté them, turning once for 3 minutes per side, or until golden and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  11. Repeat with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining chops, adding more oil if necessary.
  12. Chop the herbs for the topping. (I used cilantro and basil.)

To Serve:

  1. Divide the pork chops among dinner plates, top each portion with come chopped herbs, and serve with a wedge of lemon. Alternatively, serve the pork chops over the dressed green salad.

To Make the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a measuring cup.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.

Note: These pork chops are delicious hot, at room temperature, or even chilled.

Union Square Cafe’s Seared Salmon with Spinach, Corn & Mushrooms

I made this lovely dish for Easter dinner. The sauce was absolutely incredible. I also loved that the salmon was served over a plate of saut√©ed vegetables. The recipe was adapted from one of the most popular menu items at NYC’s Union Square Caf√© in the 1990’s.

The recipe is from the 40th Anniversary Special Edition of Food and Wine magazine titled “Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes,” contributed by Michael Romano. ¬†I am keeping this issue as a “cookbook” because I want to try so many (practically all!) of the dishes. The issue states that this salmon dish is one of the best recipes Food and Wine has ever published. Very special.

We finished our meal with a celebratory Bunny Cake, of course!

Yield: Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a first course (this recipe can be doubled easily)

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces), divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion (I used 1/2 of a large red onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves (2 thinly sliced and 1 whole), divided
  • 1/4 pound¬†shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps quartered, divided
  • 1 medium-size ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound¬†fresh spinach
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3-4 ears)
  • 1 (1 to 1 1/2 pound) center-cut salmon fillet, sliced crosswise into 4 to 6 strips
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Make the Sauce:

  1. Cut 6 tablespoons butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-low.
  3. Add onion, sliced garlic, shiitake stems, tomato, black peppercorns, and bay leaf, and cook until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 12 minutes.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup water, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, about 4 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to low, and add cubed butter, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, whisking thoroughly between additions.
  6. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour sauce through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids.
  8. Keep sauce warm over a double boiler.
Prepare the Spinach:
  1. Spear whole garlic clove with a dinner fork. (I’ve never done this before- genius!)
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high until just beginning to smoke.
  3. Add spinach; cook, stirring using fork with garlic clove, until spinach is wilted.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste; transfer to a colander to drain. Discard garlic clove.
Prepare the Corn & Mushrooms:
  1. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Reduce heat to medium, and add 3 tablespoons butter.
  2. Add shiitake caps, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in corn kernels; cook until completely heated through, about 3 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, and keep warm.
  1. Increase heat to high, and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet.
  2. Season salmon strips with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add fish to skillet, and cook until browned but barely cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
To Serve:
  1. Divide spinach among 6 plates; surround with corn and shiitakes.
  2. Place a salmon strip on top of spinach, and spoon vinegar sauce on fish.
  3. Garnish with a sprinkling of chives; serve immediately.

Salad-Topped Hummus Platter

The culmination of my daughter’s summer theatre camp involves days of dress rehearsals followed by matin√©e and evening performances. She absolutely loves it all and it is worth every second, but it was also difficult to prepare and eat dinner during this time. That’s show business, right? ūüėČ

This genius quick, healthy, and filling appetizer turned dinner saved the day the evening of her final performance. The recipe was adapted from Ina Garten via Smitten Kitchen.com. I made my favorite hummus, added arugula, used a peeled CSA cucumber, and substituted red wine vinegar for lemon juice in the dressing. I could eat it all summer long!

  • 2 cups prepared hummus
  • 2 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces or 225 grams) grape tomatoes, quartered, plus more to taste
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, or multiple small cucumbers, unpeeled, chopped
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped small, optional
  • 1 T red wine vinegar or juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sumac
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, or a mix of parsley, mint, and chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large handfuls baby arugula, to taste
  • warm naan or pita, for serving
  1. Prepare hummus in a food processor.
  2. Spread hummus on a large plate with the back of a spoon, creating swirls and cavities. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, just to freshen it up.
  3. Mix tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, red wine vinegar/lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons olive oil, sumac, plus salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  4. Stir in herbs.
  5. Top hummus with arugula. Heap salad on top of the arugula. Finish with additional sumac and/or fresh herbs.
  6. Serve with warm naan or pita wedges.

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Iceberg Wedge Salad with Green Goddess Ranch Dressing

This post is belated because I’m still recovering from my husband’s extravagant birthday feast. Recovering from preparing it… and from eating it (for many, many days!). ūüėČ I must say that it was well worth every minute AND every bite.

His special celebratory feast¬†usually involves fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and his favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. I have made Caesar salad as our “vegetable” in the past, but this year he requested a wedge salad. Yay! I love a change.

This recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn, via Martha Stewart Living. I used 4 tablespoons of buttermilk to adjust the consistency of the dressing. I also adapted the way the iceberg lettuce was sliced to modify the serving size and simplify the eating process. We all LOVED it!

For the Green Goddess Ranch Salad Dressing:

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives and/or scallions, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mild vinegar, such as white-wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • buttermilk or milk (optional)
  1. In a large bowl or blender, whisk or blend all the ingredients except the buttermilk.
  2. Add just enough buttermilk to thin to the desired consistency, if needed. (I used 4 tablespoons.)
  3. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to combine. Shake well before using.

Note: Dressing will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Complete the Salad:

Yield: 4 Servings

  • Green Goddess Ranch Dressing (recipe above)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into thick slices or wedges
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
  • English cucumber, cut into slices
  1. Prepare Green Goddess dressing and set aside.
  2. In a 9 x 13-inch pyrex baking dish, bake bacon at 350 degrees for 20 to 3o minutes, until crispy.
  3. Place 1 iceberg lettuce slice/wedge and 4 to 6 cucumber wedges on each plate.
  4. Pour some dressing over top with crumbled bacon and minced chives over each serving, as desired.

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Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup

When my friend,¬†Julie of Hostess at Heart,¬†posted this mouthwatering soup, I knew that I had to make it for my mushroom-loving Thanksgiving guests. (My family!) It was very well received. ūüôā

I adapted the recipe by cooking the wild rice on the stove top in an enameled cast iron pot instead of in the oven. I made it in advance and froze it without any issues. It was earthy, full-flavored, and absolutely fabulous.

Yield: Serves 12

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • ‚Ä®2 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, plus 8 additional cloves, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • scant 1/2¬†teaspoon baking soda
  • 0.4 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms (I used a combination of dried portobello & shiitakes)
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 24 oz¬†cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium or 1 1/2 large yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1¬†cup dry sherry
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable¬†stock
  • 1 1/2 T light soy sauce
  • 6 T¬†cornstarch
  • 3/4¬†cup heavy cream
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 6 T minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish, optional
  1. Bring water, thyme, bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and baking soda to boil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and return to a boil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Cover saucepan and cook until rice is tender, about 55 minutes.
  3. Strain rice through a fine-mesh strainer set in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 4 1/2 cups.
  4. Grind shiitake mushrooms in a spice grinder until finely ground. (You should have about 4 1/2 tablespoons.)
  5. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat.
  6. Add cremini mushrooms, onions, minced garlic, tomato paste, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.
  7. Cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, about 15 minutes.
  8. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add ground mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, chicken broth, and soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushroom are tender, about 20 minutes.
  10. In a small bowl, place 6 tablespoons of simmering liquid from pot and whisk in the cornstarch.
  11. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  12. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest.
  13. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Herbed Pappardelle with Asparagus & Burrata

My husband and I are obsessed with burrata- especially with asparagus. Such a heavenly combination!

Naturally, as I am also such a pasta fan, this dish caught my eye right away. It was fresh and especially wonderful to make in backyard herb season.¬†This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe, contributed by Grace Parisi. I doubled the asparagus,¬†substituted¬†fresh pappardelle for fazzoletti, and omitted the¬†chervil. Yum!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 3/4 cup parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T snipped chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T tarragon leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T chervil leaves, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound fresh pasta sheets, cut into 3-inch squares (fazzoletti) or fresh pappardelle
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts, preferably Italian
  • 8 to 10 ounces burrata or buffalo mozzarella, cut into cubes
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the 3/4 cup of parsley with the 2 tablespoons each of chives, tarragon and chervil (if using). Pulse until chopped.
  2. Add the lemon juice and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the oil to the herbs and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put the asparagus in a colander and ease it into the boiling water. Blanch the asparagus just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Shake dry.
  4. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  5. In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the pine nuts and toast over moderate heat until golden; transfer to a plate.
  6. Add the pasta, herb puree, asparagus and the pasta water to the skillet. Cook over moderate heat, tossing well.
  7. Toss in the cheese and pine nuts.
  8. Transfer to bowls and garnish with whole herbs.

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Lobster & Corn Chowder

This chowder tastes so luscious and rich but it is completely creamless. It doesn’t even have any butter! The “creaminess” is from pur√©ed corn. Its rich¬†and intense flavor is from the homemade stock which is¬†made from the lobster shells and corn cobs. Mmmm. ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used 2 lobster tails instead of 1 whole lobster, increased the amount of corn, and added leeks. We ate it with French rolls and green salad. Healthy and wonderful!

Yield: About 6 cups, Serves 4 to 5 as a main course

Total Time: about 2 hours

  • 3/4 to 1 pound lobster tails (I used 2)
  • 8¬†fresh corn cobs, kernels removed and cobs reserved
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 leeks, halved and cut into 1/2-inch moons
  • 1 medium yellow¬†onion, chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • vegetable stock, chicken stock, or clam juice, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  1. Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat to medium-low. Place lobster into water, and simmer, covered, for 8 minutes. (Do not let water boil.) Transfer lobster tails to ice-water bath using tongs; reserve cooking liquid. Let stand for 10 minutes to cool.
  2. Crack lobster tails and remove meat; reserve shells. Coarsely chop meat. (You should have about 1 cup.) Refrigerate until ready to use. (Note: At this point, the lobster meat can be refrigerated overnight.)
  3. Return shells to pot with cooking liquid. Add reserved cobs. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 35 minutes. Strain stock through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
  4. Meanwhile, soak the leeks in a bowl of cold water. Swish to clean. Remove leeks from the top allowing any sand or grit to settle on the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Heat oil in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Cook corn kernels, leeks, onion, garlic, and 3/4 teaspoon salt, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Add 5 cups lobster stock, and cook for 15 minutes. (I had to supplement with chicken stock because I didn’t have 5 cups of lobster stock! Clam juice would also work well as a supplement.) Let cool slightly.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, set aside 1 1/2 cups corn mixture.
  8. Purée remaining corn mixture and strained liquid in a blender or Vitamix until smooth.
  9. Working in batches, strain soup through a large fine-mesh sieve, and return to the pot with reserved corn and lobster meat.
  10. Cook over medium heat until warmed through.
  11. Stir in chives, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with additional chives, if desired.

Note: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

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